Posted in author, author interview, book series, Indie Author, Self Published, writing

An Author Interview with Michael Taggart

I have had the distinct privilege of being on the editing team for Michael Taggart’s new book Melee Mage. It is the second in his Fledgling God series. I reviewed the first book Misfit Mage last year about this time. Since then, Michael has been working hard at starting and completing the second installment.

Late last year, he contacted me to help with the editing process, and I was glad to do so. I truly enjoyed the characters and the world he built in book one and was excited to help bring the second book to completion. Now that the second book has been published, I thought it would be fun to learn more about this awesome series and the author who wrote it. Check it out below.

You have an amazing series with a lot of great characters. You even have some characters that aren’t human like Penny and Eggy. Can you explain a little bit about these characters and what gave you the idea for them in the first place?

The characters evolved as I wrote them. My writing process is to just write out a bunch of scenes that sound fun––then put them together in a loose outline. From there, I have the characters I want in the book––but in the process of writing them, they change and evolve.

  • Sandy has pretty much stayed true to who I thought she was––Head of Household––wanting to make a positive difference in the world and help new Supernaturals.  In the 3rd book (current project)––she heads off to the Gathering with Jason, so when I write more of her, she may change a bit.
  • John was a complete surprise. I knew he was the maintenance man, part mountain troll, and Sandy’s best friend and lover. I didn’t know he was going to be so much of a prankster. The whole ‘Painted to Circle’ scene in Misfit Mage was a lot of fun that just showed up.
  • Annabeth––Jason needed a best friend in the house. I knew she would be a much older person with health issues, but because of her new magical powers would be growing younger. I didn’t know she would so happy and supportive. That just showed up and I love it! Plus, she hears magic, so it has been very interesting to figure out how to work that in. Her powers are really strong, and allow her to do stuff with charms that shouldn’t be possible (run 3 healing charms at once by humming with them). Even on the physical level, she rocks (She creates her own feedback loop on punching better by listening to how her body is reacting)
  • Penny. It’s been a blast writing for a nonhuman metal character. I knew Jason was going to make a sentient charm, but I didn’t know how much personality she was going to have. I’ve had so much positive feedback from her conversation with Jason about how fleshy people ‘get sick’ and ‘can she watch?’ We even have metal humor and a metal language between her and Eggy.
  • Eggy. I knew I wanted a magic sword in the book. But the idea he didn’t want to be a sword just happened while writing. He wants to be a very ornate vase and sit in the window and watch the world go by while looking pretty. Don’t we all? LOL. I now have lots of ideas for this character as he was created by a supernatural Master over 2000 years ago. He will be able to give Jason a view into the past and secret techniques that have been forgotten.
  • Tyler. I knew he was a good Incubus when I started writing him. I didn’t know how mature he was going to be. He is an amazing friend, lover, and partner for Jason. He takes all the crazy that comes with Jason’s journey and just rolls with it. (watering the flowers––i.e. peeing all over the bathroom, comments from Anna Lykit the imaginary drag queen). He is a lot more than just a super sexy hunka hunka (although he is that too).
  • Jason––he’s turning out just like what I wanted. He’s not perfect and he gets nervous a lot. But he tries hard, has a good heart, and is very creative in his solutions. He’s someone you can root for––as well as full of life and adventure.
  • All Characters––I want them to grow and change too. Sandy and John get married and exchange oaths and magic. That is going to change them a lot as she is a mage and he is a natural. Tyler is starting to search for meaning in his life and is finding that with his relationship with Jason.  This is going to continue as he comes even more out of his protective shell. Jason, of course, is changing all the time. Who knew a mage would be a great physical fighter?

You have a really in-depth world that has a lot of “rules” for the magical/supernatural world. Was there a single inspiration for how you came up with these rules? Or did the rules form as you wrote?

Back in my college years my goal was to be a game designer. I actually made a game as my Senior Design Project and won top honors. After school, I made a 2nd version of the game and released it as shareware. This was back in the days when having 256 colors was a Big Deal and not everyone had a mouse! I got letters from people all over the world saying they really enjoyed it (this was also pre Email! Dang, I’m old.) (I even got a letter from someone in Luxembourg––which is a tiny country of only 1k square miles).

I said all that to say––I love creating a world of simple rules, and then figuring out how to use them to surprise people. I have spreadsheets and documents that I use to put the rules together and make sure that Jason’s power progression is consistent.

Rules are much more than constraints. They allow the reader to feel comfortable in the world. They can settle in, enjoy the characters, and get into the flow of the world. Then, when Jason does something new with his power, it’s surprising and enjoyable for the reader. I was seeing that a lot with the beta readers. As they were reading the book they had notes about what they thought would happen. Then they either guessed right, or were happy to see the world in a new way. It make magic so much more than just a ‘word’ or ‘gesture’. It gets the reader invested in the world and they take it on as their own.

So to answer the question––the rules came first––then the writing. I’m just starting book 3––and realized I still had a few holes in my logic. So I’m taking the time to nail down exactly how a Creative Core works.

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Posted in author, blog tour, Book Tour, ebook, empowerment, guest post, novel, self-empowerment, Self-publishing, writing

Guest Post By Elfie Riverdell: The Story That Inspired Me To Self-Publish

I find it hard to pinpoint exactly when I realized I wanted to be an author. I remember writing paranormal stories on my old PC when I was at middle school, with (beautiful) covers illustrated on Paint. I wish I still had those stories, as it would be so much fun to go back and revisit old characters. Even still, I’ve always had a very vivid imagination, and I’ve never had any issues with coming up with quirky plots. But The Forest of Fallen Stars was a little different.

When I wrote The Forest Of Fallen Stars, I sort of fell into a writing frenzy. It was summer, and I had a lot of spare time around my work schedule. I would sit in my room for hours and hours, writing and scribbling down ideas. The plot just came to me. I wish there was some way to explain it, because I certainly can’t seem to replicate it! But I think it was the characters that truly made the story come alive for me.

Alura means so much to me, all of the characters do. Alura is shy, and full of self-doubt at the beginning of the book, but we get to see her learn about her gifts, and develop into a strong and confident young woman.

Kara is troubled and angry, but she has a kind heart and is always focused on doing the right thing.

Loria is also quite unsure of herself and the role she plays in her world, but she is strong-willed and determined.

Self-publishing has been a strange and very stressful experience. It’s taken a long time, and a lot of hard work. But I was incredibly lucky to get to work with an amazing friend of mine, Nicoletta, who formatted and designed everything inside my novel. She did an amazing job, and really helped me when I was struggling with the design.

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Posted in author, author interview, book series, books

An Author Interview with A.W. Exley

Isn’t it fun to get obsessed about a book, or a book series? It’s a great feeling to get lost into something exciting. And my latest addiction happens to be A.W. Exley’s Artifact Hunters series. If you missed it, please check out my review of the first book Book Review: Nefertiti’s Heart By A.W. Exley, and earlier this week I did a review of the entire series Series Review: The Artifact Hunters. Now it’s time to get a peak at the author herself. Check it out below.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! First, I have some questions about the Artifact Hunters series.

This is a fantastic series that brings together an amazing cast of characters. All of the characters loveable with their own quirks. Did you find one character that you liked the absolute most, and why?

Jackson! He didn’t have much of a role in the first book and he was supposed to be this thug in the background. But as the series progressed, he grew on me. He’s got this really tough exterior, and as the story unfolded, I discovered why he was like that. As Cara says he’s a crème brulee––crack that tough outer shell and he’s all soft and gooey inside LOL

I love the way you brought Cara and Nate together. Their stories so intertwined, especially once Nefertiti’s Heart became involved. What gave you the idea for this complex and fascinating artifact? And does it prolong their life in any way? How long will Cara and Nate be around (if you can say without ruining any potential new books in the series)?

Oh gosh… I wrote the book so long ago, I’m going to have to scrap the memory banks! Lol I remember trying to decide what to write and I pulled out my Egyptology books, a stack of true crime, and decided I was going to mash them together. That got me thinking about Nefertiti and what sort of artifact she would inspire. As to how long Cara and Nate might be around… I’ve tried killing them both off already and it didn’t work, so its safe to say they will be around for a bit longer yet 😉

This series is set on the backdrop of cool steampunk artifacts in the Victorian age. It’s a great world you built with lots of history, but with your own personal spin complete with mechanical hearts and beasts. Where did you get your inspiration to create this impressive world? Did you find it difficult to walk the line between fact and fiction?

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Posted in author, author interview, book addict, book review, Indie Author

An Author Interview With Elina Vale

Last month I did a book review on The Charmed Locket by Elina Vale. It is the first book in The Treasure Hunter’s Heart series. Shortly after I did the review, I managed to get a hold of an ARC copy of the second book Hidden Truths.

Elina continues the story where the first book leaves off, and we follow Gina, Philip, Ramon, and Sera, who are in search the third wolf statue. This statue will lead them to where the coveted book of mechanical charms rests. And the Divided are hot on their trail.

A showdown between the Guild and the Divided leads to tragedy. Later, Gina finds herself back in her hometown burdened by what she knows. War is coming, and she’s not sure what to do about it. Who can she tell? Who should she trust? As she tries to find a way forward in ever darkening circumstances, Gina makes some discoveries that helps her realize she’s not quite alone as she thought she was.

The first two books have been a really fun read. I love how this series has captivated my attention. So I decided to contact the author to see what more I could learn about her books, and the author herself. Here is the interview with Elina Vale. Her responses are in bolded text.

Thank you so much, Elina, for taking the time to do this interview! First, I have some questions about your books.  

You are currently writing a series called The Treasure Hunter’s Heart. It is a series based off the idea of charmed mechanics that have what seems like magical powers. These mechanics were supposedly destroyed and many people in the books think them pure legend, except for a few like the main character Gina Mansfred, who is in a desperate search to find out more about them. I think this is an intriguing plot premises. Can you tell us more about these charmed mechanics, and maybe a little about where your original ideas for the mechanics came from? 

Charmed mechanics are different kinds of items, that seem to be just regular objects like necklaces, statues, pens, boxes and so on, but they all have been enchanted. Charms are first built like any object with mechanics (with locks, hatches, moving parts) are, but after that, magic will bring them alive: A box opens with a secret word, a jewel could turn you invisible by twisting a certain piece on it, a statue might come alive when you blow on it a certain number of times… So the charms are a combination of mechanics and magic. 

I guess the idea of regular items being enchanted kind of intrigued me.  

Gina is in a pretty desperate situation where she finds herself between two warring organizations who are searching for the mechanics, and to bring them back from myths of old to everyday usage. She also happens to be romantically stuck between two men that are heading these opposing expeditions. This in itself is creating a lot of tension, conflict, and darkness for Gina personally. Out of all her struggles, what do you perceive to be her biggest hurtle to overcome?  

She has a lot of growing up to do in these books for sure. Her biggest issues in this series will definitely be her trust issues and her fear of losing people.  These will make her do some hazardous things before she learns to trust in others and let go of this fear. She also struggles morally and wants to do the right thing. The problem is that she is not sure what the right thing to do actually is… 

Gina poses as a thief in book one called Lily, who boldly takes from the rich to give the more unfortunate. Will we see a return of “Lily” in future books? 

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Posted in author, basics of plot, better writing, book review, book spotlight, building plot, first draft, good writing, how to write, learning about writing, learning to write, novel, novel writing, outline, plot, plotting, plotting a novel, plotting a story, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing journey, the writing process, writing, writing better, writing book, writing craft

Plotting Your Novel by Writing from the Middle

As a writer, I am always learning. I think that’s what I love most about writing––the learning never stops. I am either learning something new about myself and writing as I write, or I stumble across new information as I am looking to learn more about writing. This time it was the latter. Recently on Twitter, I ran across a book recommendation for plotting that I loved so much I had to share it here.

Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between by James Scott Bell is must read for anyone serious about writing. This book goes into detail about why writers should start from the middle of a story instead of the beginning or end (who would of thought!). And how finding a character’s “mirror moment” is essential to true character development.

I definitely believe character development is a key element in a story. The more a reader can relate with a character and feel for a character’s journey, the better the book becomes. And this method certainly will help with that!

This book also helped me realize that I’m a Tweener (I always thought myself a straight up Pantser). I do love writing by the seat of my pants. That’s how I get some of my best ideas, but I also know where I’m writing too as well. I have a loose idea of events I need to reach and about where I need those events to happen. Also, I find already knowing my ending is a necessity to writing, even if I don’t know specifics. Just having a good idea of where I need to stop gives me a clear goal to reach for. But after reading Bell’s book I have an even better way to approach my writing. Start in the middle and Pants my way to the beginning and end. I’ll still have those events and goal posts to reach, but I think it will be far easier to get there knowing exactly what the character’s journey should entail.

And you know this book couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ve become somewhat stalled on writing the first draft of my second novel. I think this technique will get things churning quite nicely. Thanks Bell. 🙂