Book Review: Painted Girl: The Spirit Key

Falling in love with RedHorse is easy. Keeping the ghost away from him? Not so much.

Sara’s intended is rejected by the Old One, but their love blooms even as the nefarious spirit works to tear them apart. Sara has a mind of her own, and she’ll do anything to keep the ghosts at bay.

The veil between the living and dead is thinning. War looms on the horizon in the spirit realm as two leaders compete for control. Ghosts warn of the consequences of not having a Spirit Key, one who embraces the dead and has the power to keep the peace between the two realms.

Failure to find the key will bring the dead into this world and it just might mean the death of her love.

But a shiver in Grandfather’s spine doesn’t bode well. The Old One has something else in mind. Something he won’t like.

Magical realism with a sweet tale of romance and family trials. A Native Woman’s journey to find her purpose, and love, while avoiding the spirits who taint her world.

A new world full of old spirits, love, suspense, and culture.

A Native American Woman’s journey as she discovers the will of her ancestors with supernatural influences. A world of spirits, a growing love, and nefarious forces collide in this paranormal Native American fiction.

My Review: 4.7-Stars

I loved Painted Girl. This is a wonderfully written story of a young woman coming of age and finding her way in the world. There is a love story, but this is not a typical romance. RA has done a beautiful job of bringing me Native American culture, beliefs, history, and spirits in a contemporary world.

The story starts with a tragedy that sucks you in so you have to find out what happens to the small child, Sara and from there we are allowed a look into her life as a Kiowa. She falls in love with RedHorse, who her Grandfather and the spirits don’t agree with, and RA weaves the spirit world into the story splendidly.

There were a couple of slow spots for me, and I always want more of the 5 senses to connect me to the characters, but overall this is an entertaning read.

Full of good description, Painted Girl takes us on Sara’s journey to find herself while living and believing her culture. If you want to read a good Native American story and learn more about the Kiowa, this book will take you there.

There is a cliffhanger, sort of. I thought it was well done and has left me wanting book 2, RedHorse (The Spirit Key Book 2).

Painted Girl is rich and full and strongly written. This book is a hit.

Be sure to stop by and check out the author interview I did with RA Winter.

Click on cover for the direct link

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Author Interview: RA Winter

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I met RA a few years ago, and she has become a very good friend. We are partners over at The Naked Reviewers. I love her writing! She tells honest stories about real life and her Spirit Key series is full of Native American culture with a look into the life of the Kiowa.

She is fun, she is always busy remodeling and traveling, and she is a prolific writer. I don’t know where she finds the time to do it all. Be sure to check out my review of Painted Girl.

I’m sure glad she had some time to stop by here for an interview. Please allow me to introduce, RA Winter.

Let’s get right to the questions. What are you currently working on and what is it about?

RA: The Queens of the Underworld Trilogy. The first book is finished, the second one is half-way. Demise is a Death Taker, but she harvests Aiden’s soul too soon. The whole realm of the dead comes alive with her mistake and will do anything to have the power that Aiden’s soul releases. Her duty is to Thanatos and Hades, and she must deliver the soul to the underworld. Only now, for the first time since her death, she can feel. Can prevent a war and keep the man to herself?

In the second book, Death has to stop the war in Tartarus for Aiden’s soul, but she finds herself on a deserted island with Ares, the God of War. For the first time, she has emotions and wonders how she can return to her dead life. Someone is twisting time, and now, war has overtaken Tartarus.

In the third book, Bane’s Truth, the keres Bane wants her own soul, so she steals one. Her truth is her armor, but can one man break through her defenses? The war is at a pinnacle point. Whose side will she choose? Hades or the other?

Those sound very interesting. I can’t wait until you publish them. Next, I want to ask a 3 part question: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest Fantasy/Urban Fic/Mythology book? Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing as far as content? How much research do you do?

RA: When I was young, my father told me the stories of the Iliad, the Odyssey and Dante’s Inferno, among other works. I fell in love with Mythology and have been gobbling it up since then. In high school and college, I took courses in Greek and Roman mythology, but writing it isn’t as easy as I thought. Keeping the relationships, ideas and the Greek feel of a trilogy has taxed my memory. Now, I have a huge story bible filled with quotes and characters for my Queens of the Underworld manuscript.

How interesting! Does your book use any references to mythology or real-world folklore, or does it contain its own folklore?

RA: I use Greek mythology mostly but I do have references to Japanese, English and other folklore. If the situation arises and I know a really neat story, I’ll write that into a scene.

Where do your ideas come from?

RA: Insomnia. Seriously. Although with the Queens of the Underworld, the story is what kept me awake. I have stopped writing when I can’t sleep because I get too silly and have to cut half of what I write.

Have you written works in collaboration with other writers, and if so: why did you decide to collaborate?

RA: I wrote two shorts in the Bowman’s Inn Anthology. The writers in the series are fabulous and I really wanted to learn from them. I studied their stories and gave it my best shot. I’m also going to be in a new anthology coming out next month, based on fairy tale retellings.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years regarding published works?

RA: This is going to be my publishing push year. I published two already, I have a third one almost ready to go, a freaky-friday wolf/vamp piece, an anthology and the trilogy the Queens of the Underworld. Next year, I hope to finish the six pieces that I have half to two-thirds published. For a long time, I kept my pieces idle on my computer. No one is enjoying that, especially me.

I don’t know how you get it all done. You go with your bad self. What do you think of “trailers” for books, and will you create one for your work?

RA: I have two trailers published for my works in the Spirit Key Series. I have another trailer that I am working on for the Queens of the Underworld. Do they work? I don’t know yet, but they are fun to put together and people like them.

Take a moment to watch the Spirit Key book trailers. These are two of the best I’ve watched in a very long time.

Painted Girl

RedHorse

I’m starting to fall for the idea of book trailers. Tossing around the idea myself. Let me ask you, do you read your reviews?

RA: Yes, always. The only way to improve is to get feedback from readers. I use crit circles, but I have noticed that after a time I get used to the writing and need to take a step back for a while.

Now for a couple of personal questions. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? What was it about?

RA: It was a haiku in the fourth grade. My teacher entered it into a student publishing contest and mine was chosen. I don’t remember the name of the piece, but I drew a pretty princess to go with it.

What is your favorite way to avoid writing?

RA: Playing with Photoshop. I just discovered it, and I’m addicted. It’s so much fun and aggravating at the same time!

This was awesome! Thanks so much for stopping by and giving us a peek into your life. I had a blast!

Author Bio:

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RA Winter, began her writing career under her married name, writing genealogy books. However, her love for reading romance novels intruded in on her daily activities. She started writing and fell in love with her characters and is writing many more books in the Romantic Western series, “The Spirit Key”. Each one of Grandfather’s grandchildren will have their story told, as will Grandfather himself.

RA spent many years traveling the world and has lived in many different countries. Turkey, Egypt, Germany, and Jordan, have all been called “home” at one time or another. Now you can find her quietly living in Pittsburgh, Pa, with her husband, writing her next novel.

Be sure to keep up with what RA is up to and all of her new releases by friending her on Facebook, following her on Instagram, Twitter, and Stumbleupon. Don’t forget to follow her blog for book reviews and her writing.

Click on covers for the direct link:

 

 

 

Author Interview: David Neilson

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I know David from a writing and critiquing site we are both members of. He always has good writing advice, and his dry sense of humor always makes me smile. Learning and improving to speak different languages is important to him. I hear that in his younger days, he loved to read Scifi and fantasy. Now he’s turned his attention to women’s fiction, and he does a splendid job with the genre.

He claims to be laughed at for saying that his idea of a good Saturday night is staying in and reading the Vulgate. At the moment he’s getting a kick out of reading Harry Potter in Turkish. Personally, I think it’s cool.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to David Neilson.

Good day, David. I hope this finds you well. One of the burning questions I know I’d like to ask you is, why do you write historical crime?

David: The notion of working in noir always appealed to me, but I had no sense of a suitable main character. At the same time, I felt very much at home in central Europe and in the Rococo, the period of Mozart and the Habsburg empress Maria Theresia. It was only when it occurred to me to try something noirish in that place and time that Sophie Rathenau, the main character in my series, turned up and demanded to be written about.

How interesting! Does your main character face dangers that you couldn’t handle yourself? How would you respond instead?

David: Sophie faces threats I would simply run from: imprisonment, injury, death. She’s had encounters with grim grenadiers and homicidal Croat pandours, and her boss has often threatened to lock her up. That she possesses the nerve I lack probably means one of two things, either that I’m a hypocrite who plays at confronting unpleasant realities, or that I’m slowly working up a bit of the courage that one day, like everyone else, I’m going to need. I suspect it’s more the latter.

What are you currently working on and what is it about?

David: I’m now on the third in the series. It’s set in Venice, where Sophie is guarding Isabella, the wayward daughter of Maria Theresia. It’s obvious from the start that Isabella is going to misbehave, dragging Sophie into a war with Corona, a Venetian moneylender who warned her years before never to return. A lot of the fun, for me, arises from Isabella’s fling with Lorenzo da Ponte, who will later become Mozart’s librettist, but who, at this point in his life, is a louche, down-at-heel, thoroughly disreputable wordsmith.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?

David: The characters have always tended to appear just as required, as if listening out for their cues. Although I know what each is supposed to be doing there, it’s always good when they strike out on their own, expressing some reality about their own lives I hadn’t foreseen. Among the most interesting aspects, I’ve found, is that Sophie brings a host of female characters in her wake; and curiously enough, working from her point of view, the male characters strike me as much more plausible than those I produced before she showed up.

Your character, Sophie sounds very exciting and interesting. How do you publish your writing and why?

David: I self-publish, which is far from ideal—and actually rather galling, given that years ago I’d been discussing these books with a major publisher in a deal that went wrong. Still, the arrangement has some advantages for me: I can go at my own pace and please myself as to how to produce them. A critical eye is always cast over the text, via my membership of the writers’ site Scribophile—surely the world’s best—and the first two books were edited and proofread to exacting professional standards.

My readership, I’ve discovered, is decidedly literate women of a certain age, readers who aren’t troubled by the unusual language and settings. It could be, though, that I’ve a problem with such a sophisticated clientele: I suspect they’re not always very keen on e-books, any more than I am myself.

What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors? What is your best marketing tip?

David: For someone who worked in marketing—and who was, I think, held to be good at it—I’m terrible at punting my own books. I have a huge database of leads, ideas, and suggestions I’ve not yet followed up, and that I’ve promised myself I’ll pursue energetically when Serene is ready for publication. By which time, I’ve assured myself, I can reasonably talk about having a series.

There are two central marketing tips all aspiring writers should know: the first is to write for a well-defined market and be keenly aware of your niche within it, so buyers can find your books easily, and the second is to ignore the markets and write exactly what you want, until, some day, the market finds you. Of course these are quite incompatible! I’m following the second approach, and am still hoping these hordes of readers will turn up.

Great advice! Do you read your reviews? 

David: I don’t get so many that I could possibly miss one, so yes, I read each with great interest and would welcome a great many more. Fortunately, I haven’t really had bad reviews for Sophie, but when one does show up that tears me to shreds, I’m confident that I’ll follow the golden rule and not respond. Reviews are supposed to be a learning experience, of course; just the same, I think I already have a shrewd idea of the great weaknesses of the series (of and each book). Not that I’m planning to share these insights…

I’d like to end with a couple of personal questions. Which famous person (or author), living or dead would you like to meet and why?

David: More than any other writer, my master is C S Lewis, though of course I’m turning out work very different from his. I always think of him, somehow, as a friend, and for that reason it would be fascinating to have met him and discover what he was really like, moment by moment. At least in theory: I’ve an idea that I would be very uncomfortable indeed, just as I was the night I encountered Robert B Parker, a noir writer whose influence on the Sophie books is much more obvious. On that occasion I barely got a word out.

What are your favorite movies and why?

David: The movies I like best probably reflect something of the way I write, which is another way of saying that they influenced me hugely, much more than novels ever did. They’re classics of the thirties and forties, films like Now, Voyager, Random Harvest, My Man Godfrey – anything with people like Bette Davis, George Brent, or William Powell in it. I love the literate, even stagey, dialogue in that sort of film, and the way it conveys strong feeling while masking it in precise expression. I’ve been trying to do that for years, largely after their model.

Boo, our time is up. Thanks for stopping by and giving us a peek into your life.

Author Bio:

Scottish, born in Glasgow, and for many years I worked as a teacher and educational marketer. Nowadays I live on the Rhine, a little to the south of Bonn, Germany.

Be sure to keep up with all of David’s works and what’s going on by following him on Pinterest and his website dedicated to his series.

Click on covers for direct links:

Author Interview: Heather Hayden

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I met Heather on a writing site, and I fell in love with her writing right away. She always has good advice and she is very nice. She writes wonderful fantasy stories, and if you have young people in your life, you should pick them up one of her books. You won’t be disappointed. She and I had a lot of fun together doing book reviews for The Naked Reviewers, and I enjoy her take on the books I read.

Please allow me to introduce you to, Heather Hayden.

Hey Heather! Welcome to my little blog. I’m excited to get started. For my first question, I’d like to ask what drew you to write fantasy?

Heather: Reading is my way to escape reality, so fantasy is naturally one of my favorite genres. When I began writing, it was only natural that I would write fantasy. In fact, most of the stories I’ve written to date have been fantasy, though a few have delved into other genres (including a YA science fiction novel and a YA horror short story).

I feel the same way about reading. My escape is historical romance. Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm fantasy story ideas.

Heather: A story usually pops into my head as a vague idea, which starts to flesh out as I think about it more. Sometimes it has to stew in my brain for a bit before I write it down, other times I simply open a Word document and start writing. I don’t usually plot out stories—I find it hard to enjoy the process when I’m not discovering the story alongside my characters.

What are you currently working on and what is it about?

Heather: I’m currently working on Within the Ironwood, a gaslamp fantasy novel that will be the first in a planned series of fairy tale retellings. This tale is a retelling of Snow White. It is set in a world where magic is fading and technology is on the rise. The main character, Branwen, is an insecure princess who enjoys building clockwork creatures.

That sounds interesting! Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate, or longhand?

Heather: Always, always a computer, unless I have an idea I simply must write down and pen and paper are the only things available. I have used a typewriter before and they’re loads of fun, but it’s annoying to retype everything. I have also tried dictation software but was unimpressed by its ability to handle fiction—especially formatting dialog.

I love to write on my laptop. If it wasn’t for computers and spellcheck, I wouldn’t be writing now. Do you have an illustrator? What is that like?

Heather: My writers’ group, the Just-Us League, has an illustrator for our anthologies. She’s actually my sister, the incredibly talented Heidi Hayden. You can see some of her work here. The process is relatively simple. First, the authors provide her with suggestions and options regarding what could go into their illustrations. Second, she does rough sketches to demonstrate how she has taken those suggestions and turned them into a cohesive piece of art. Third, once the sketch has been revised and/or approved, she finishes the illustration and inks it.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years regarding published works?

Heather: Ten years from now? Hm. Well, I’m hoping to reach a point where I’m releasing 2-3 titles a year, so in 10 years I hope to have 20-30 titles published. Perhaps even more. Once I reach a point where I can support myself with my writing, I’ll be able to focus more time on my stories.

What do your fans mean to you?

Heather: Every time I hear from someone, especially a stranger, who enjoys my stories, I am stunned. It’s still hard to believe that my writing has touched others, but it makes me glad. I originally began writing for myself, and I still do—but knowing that there are people out there in the world who are enjoying those same stories is inspiring.

It’s so great to take someone out of their hum-drum and help them escape into a world they’d love to live in. Do you read your reviews?

Heather: At times, yes. I enjoy seeing what others think about my stories, and it also tells me—through the more critical reviews—where I still need to improve as a storyteller.

And now for a couple of more personal questions. What is your favorite quote?

Heather: C.J. Cherryh, my favorite science fiction author, once said, “It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” Being a perfectionist, I often need that reminder when I sit down to start a new story. It doesn’t have to be perfect when it first hits the page, it just needs to be written down.

I agree. What is your favorite way to avoid writing?

Heather: Me, avoid writing? Perish the thought! Haha, to tell the truth, I do sometimes procrastinate. Most often, it is either by watching Netflix (I’m currently wrapping up Star Trek: Voyager), or by gaming (usually with friends). Current passions are Magic the Gathering, Stellaris, and Dungeon Defenders.

At least your procrastinating is doing fun stuff. I tend to clean. Darn. That wraps up our time. Thanks so much for stopping by. I had a blast!

Heather’s Bio:

Though a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden’s not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. She is currently working on Upgrade (the sequel to her first published novel) and an as-yet-untitled series of fairy tale novelizations.

Her publications include Augment, a YA science fiction novel, and several short stories in the JL Anthology series. “Monsieur Puss,” a retelling of Puss in Boots, will be released on May 31st in A Bit of Magic, the fifth JL Anthology volume.

You can follow Heather’s writing adventures on her blog, Facebook, or Twitter, or through her newsletter.

Click on covers for direct links:

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Book Review: Along Came December by Jay Allisan

She watched him die. She won’t watch his killer live. Eighteen months ago, homicide detective Shirley Mordecai witnessed a bomb tear her husband apart, and her life is still in fragments. Panic attacks threaten her career. Bitterness alienates her friends. And her husband’s killer is about to stand trial, pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

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Mordecai’s poised to snap. But vengeance comes at a cost, and Mordecai still has a lot to lose. A series of murders has gripped the city, and Mordecai’s roommate and best friend is a lot closer to the investigation than she’d like. As the trial begins and Mordecai’s grief comes to a head, her obsession with revenge costs her everything she has left—including her best friend’s trust,

Alone, broken, and out of hope, it’s all Mordecai can do not to let the memory of the life she lost pull her under for good. But a knock on the door reminds her there’s another killer out there, and that her best friend’s still in the line of fire. …(condensed)

My Review: 3.5-Stars

This is the hardest review I’ve ever had to give. Along Came December by Jay Allisan held a lot of promise with the cover and the blurb, but this book needs an editor. The story is over 130k words long, and I feel it could be cut in half to rid it of all the repetitive and redundant writing.

Jay Allisan has a great passion for telling stories and it shows with her research skills. The dialog is fantastic, and I feel it is very well done to help bring the characters to life. To really make them shine and feel more like real people they needed emotions and feelings, maybe some internal thoughts and the 5 senses. The story has a lot of grief, sadness, killers, crime, friendship, and moments that should be filled with excitement, but the writer tells me these things in a list type of style.

I think the characters are good, and if you enjoy a long, slow read you will like this one. I do think a little too much time was spent on the main character’s mental issues, and I find it hard to believe she would still have a badge and a gun after some of her behavior.

However, I feel with some good editing this story will really shine brightly and be a great read with a good plot.

For more reviews on Along Came December, check out The Naked Reviewers.

Author Interview – William L. Spencer

Author interview time!

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This month, I’d like to introduce you to a short story author, William Spencer. William and I are members of a writing site, and he always has good advice to share. He lives in San Diego, is married with two children and two grandchildren. For ten years he ran his own communications consulting business, and before that he was the national creative director for KPMG’s employee benefit consulting practice. And, he loves classical music.

Hey William. Thanks for stopping by for a quick chat. I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas on writing.

The three stories mentioned in your bio, one is sci-fi, one is experimental, and one is a contemporary social-issue story. What’s going on with you and genres?

My starting point isn’t genre. I don’t think about genre—I don’t know, maybe I should. I get an idea for a story, or just for something I want to write, and whatever genre it happens to be in, that’s how it comes out. But for me, the story is everything. This might be because, for me, writing is a hobby so I don’t feel any constraints, and partly because of my personality. Another factor is probably my background in commercial copywriting, writing for magazines and newspapers, science writing, writing whatever the client wants.

Confidence is probably part of it. I’ve faced the keyboard so often wondering if I’d be able to make sense of the interview, the new product, the latest assignment… and after this happens a bunch of times you realize yes, there’s always a way, and so you become confident that whatever it is, yes, there’s always a way. So at this point, nothing really feels foreign to me.

Interesting way to look at things. I can put that to use. Your contemporary social-issue story, “In the System,” how did you come to write it?

It started with my annoyance at California’s “three strikes” law of a few years ago. The law: with conviction on the third felony, the mandatory sentence is 25 years to life, period, that’s it. It’s such an arbitrary, knee-jerk and mindless reaction to very complicated situations involving human lives. So I carried that little annoyance around with me for a number of years, until the central character, Angel, occurred to me, together with the situation he might get himself into.

Then as I worked on it, some things from my own life came to mind so I stuck them in where they seemed to fit. For example, I used to play golf with an attorney who worked out and surfed and once mentioned that he thought the human body was a temple, one of those off-hand remarks that someone like me remembers. So when I needed a public defender, I used that.

And somewhere I came across the online name “rubytips.” It probably referred to nail polish or something innocuous. So when I got to that part of Angel’s life and needed her, Rubytips came to mind and I put my own spin on the name. One very unfair thing I did was invent an assistant District Attorney who was a little bit bent because that’s what the story needed.

I’ve never met or known of any assistant District Attorney who either looked like my character or behaved that way, so any aspersions the story casts on the criminal justice system are unwarranted collateral damage, and I apologize for any hurt feelings, except the kind of thing I describe probably has happened.

The editor said the main reason they took the story was they liked the characterizations. This surprised me because I never thought very much about the characterizations or thought they were at all unusual when I was writing the story. I just thought okay what’s this guy like, what’s she like, and so on. Who knows what the hell an editor is going to like.

What are you currently working on, and what is it about?

I’ve currently got a story making the rounds, it’s been rejected a bunch of times and is pending at five publications. It’s got all my very best stuff in it, both in the writing and also in terms of the technical aspects. The rejections have been–

Wait a minute, what do you mean by the technical aspects?

For, what I think of as the technical aspects are things that don’t involve putting words on paper, but rather are the decisions about how to proceed with one thing or another. For example, at the beginning, a writer decides whether to write in first person or third or second. This is a technical choice like a plumber decides to use copper tubing or galvanized steel. Let me give you an example from the story I’m talking about.

The first section has what I hope is a bunch of interesting things going on, but mainly it is a foreshadowing of the scene that’s coming that is the flashback, the core of the story. So I got the first part written, and I then faced the problem of how to begin the flashback scene. I thought about it, and the old writing axiom occurred to me, the one that says always start a scene as far into it as possible.

I knew what was going to happen in the scene, so I went through it in my mind thinking about where would be a good place to start it. I got to the very end of the scene in my mind, and I thought, that’s it! So I started the flashback at the very end when the main character leaves the room and the hotel room door closes behind her. For me, the inside joke is that you can’t start a scene any further in than when the scene ends.

Could we read that part?

Sure. Here’s how the flashback scene begins:

Tuesday of last week she’d come out of the hotel room, the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Beach, the heavy door swinging behind her, the lock clicking into place with a steel-embedded-in-oak finality. It was like the last sound that echoes through a theatre at the end of a good noir picture. The audience is hushed, then the sound of that clicking lock breaks the tension and everyone can let out the breath they didn’t know they’d been holding.

I did it that way because she’s an actress and she dramatizes things, but I think I got lucky with it. I think the imagery is vivid enough so that the reader doesn’t have a chance to consider that she’s being invited into a scene that is beginning at the point where the scene ends.

Thanks for that. You’ve had stories rejected, does that influence you at all?

Yes, some of the rejections have been interesting. Several editors have said the story is not right for them, but do send other submissions. With one of these editors, I sent them another piece and they accepted it right away. So that story maybe paved the way to some extent.

The story I’m talking about is called “An Actor Prepares,” which is the same title as Konstantin Stanislavski’s famous book. It takes place over a period of about an hour or so, with one flashback, and the central character is an actress who is having a seriously bad day. I put an epigraph at the beginning: “Stanislavski had his ideas. Here’s another.”

An epigraph is something I do when I think I have a good one. I think it’s fun, and in the case of this story, I wanted to acknowledge upfront I was swiping the title. If the epigraph works, I think it helps set up the story for the reader and helps justify it for the editor. I think Roy Miller at Furtive Dalliance probably took “What I Done” because of the epigraph, which is almost as long as the story: “Scientists and other brilliant and serious adults assume that if we ever get visitors from another planet they’ll be like them: brilliant and serious adults. But what if they turn out to be dorky guys just goofing around?”

Do you let a story stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit, or do you start the edits as soon as you type The End?

I’ll revise a story and revise it until I have it as good as I can make it, then I’ll sit on it for awhile, sometimes for quite a while. Fairly often I’ll have a story I think is finished, but I’ll get little twinges about this or that, usually, stuff that needs to be fixed, then I’ll get into it and sometimes do a substantial re-write of sections, more than a revision.

I don’t work from an outline, but usually, I do have in my head a good idea of where I’m going. When I don’t know the ending, that means that particular story is probably going to be substantially revised. I have written an unpublishable novel and wrote it the same way—what Brandon Sanderson calls “discovery” writing, but all the way through it I had a good idea where I was going and what the ending would be.

So “discovery” for me seems to be the stuff that simply pops up in your mind as you’re going along, and the form and structure I know ahead of time, though usually I don’t have much in the way of notes or outlines. When I had copywriting assignments when I worked for a living, I found that often writing end first was a good idea. When you do that, you know exactly where you’re headed. Then when you get there, you can always change or tune the ending.

How are you publishing your writing and why?

I’m sending stories out to literary publications, both print and online, using Duotrope. According to them, there are over 8,000 publications to choose from, and it seems to me they have a pretty good system for keeping track of what you’ve sent where, and so on, though I know there are other systems some people favor.

I’m doing it because it’s kind of fun to do, and the stories go somewhere, not just sit on my hard drive. I’ve thought at some point in the future I might bring them together into a collection, and at that point, the prior publishing might lend credence to that, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten. The other thing that happens is, when you’re writing for an editor, it seems to impose an additional layer of responsibility on me to try to make a story something someone might want to read.

Do you proofread/edit all your own stories before you submit them, or do you have someone who does it?

I’ve worked for newspapers and magazines and so on, so I feel confident about doing my own proofing and editing. I have run manuscripts through autocrit.com, and I think services such as that are invaluable in helping a writer get a handle on his bad habits and various proclivities and tendencies that are unconscious to the writer but apparent to the reader.

Lately, I’ve taken to sending stories to my older sister, who is a retired English teacher, but lots of times I ignore her advice. She always wants everything exactly the way it’s supposed to be, with semicolons instead of commas. When was the last time you read a short story that had twenty semicolons in it?

How funny? Your sister can’t help herself. She taught that for too many years to just throw it all away now. For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hardback books?

I’ve been using a Kindle for about seven or eight years, and just bought my second one, an Oasis. For me, the most attractive thing about these devices is the ability to read a sample of a book you might be interested in. It’s also helpful in being able to read the opening pages of as many books as you want in some genre you’re interested in. This seems to me to be a significant way to get an understanding of a large swath of books in any given market for someone interested in writing for that market.

I’ve also transferred some of my own stories onto my Kindle, and found that when I read them on the Kindle, they had a different look and feel to them—it was more like reading the story for the first time. It’s probably a good way to proofread.

What a great idea! Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

If anyone is interested in sending out stories to various publications, I think it’s helpful to have several stories finished and ready to go, not just one. This way if an editor rejects a story but liked it enough to send you a note about it, right away you can send that editor another piece.

Also on Duotrope, some publications are marked “Fledgling,” meaning they are relatively new start-ups. My impression is these pubs are generally more welcoming than some of the old-line magazines. I’m not interested in marketing, so I don’t do any. Since I don’t have any social media accounts, I’m not there, either (you can find me IRL).

I’d like to close out the interview with a couple of personal questions. What is your favorite quote?

There are so many good ones, it’s hard to choose. There have been so many wise people in the world who have said so many insightful things. But I guess if I had to choose one, it would be something I read a long time ago that Picasso is supposed to have said:

“Reality must be torn apart in every sense of the word. What people forget is that everything is unique.”

For me, I found this applied when I went out of the country, to a non-Western city, Saigon or Hong Kong or Bangkok. There’s nothing ordinary about them that first day. Then if you stay out of the U.S. for a few months, when you come back you see again how everything really is unique, before the newness fades and it gradually becomes ordinary and hum-drum again.

How about your favorite movies?

Again, there are so many great ones. But I have DVDs of “Red” and “Blue” by Krzysztof Kieślowski (had to go to Google to find that spelling—these questions are like a test!) and every year or so I take out one or the other, watch it and have a good cry. Well, not actual tears, but that’s the feeling.

Can I be excused from class now?

Yes, you may. 😉 Thanks so much for letting us take a peek into your world. I really enjoyed having you.

Author Bio

William L. Spencer has published fiction and non-fiction in the San Diego Reader and West Coast Review (Simon Fraser University). His short story “In the System” was published online by Uprising Review in 2017 (pen name Carlos Dunning). The short “What I Done” is in the Spring 2018 issue of Furtive Dalliance Literary Review available on Amazon, and a piece of experimental fiction, “The Bastard Died On Me,” is online at SoftCartel.com. Spencer is a winner of First Place for Fiction (twice) and First Place for Non-Fiction from the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild, and First Place in the Ursus Press short story contest. He edited “Across This Silent Canvas” by Hubbard Miller. He is retired and lives in San Diego.

Click on the images for links to his work:

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Author Interview – E. D. Martin

41DvKFZ0VqL._UX250_First Monday of the month! Author interview time. My favorite day of the month. I have a really kick-butt author of contemporary literary women’s fiction, coming of age author. I love her stories because they are full of a healthy dose of real life. E.D. Martin is a wonderful writer and an amazing person. I met her on a writing site. She is rather shy and quiet, but always has great advice about the writing and publishing industry.

She doesn’t talk a lot, but when she does, you might want to listen.

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Book Review: Radio Nowhere by Lee Beard

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After 99.9% of the earth’s population – and apparently, all the adults – dies in just under a month, the remaining teens and children are left confused, scattered, and dangerously unsupervised. A tech-savvy latchkey kid, an abused arsonist, and a girl who slept through the apocalypse must battle the elements, wild animals, and roving bands of feral children in order to reach their refuge. Deep in Oklahoma lies the small college town of Nowhere; there, a mysterious old man broadcasts to them via the college radio station, beckoning them to safety.

 

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Facebook Takeover with Ophelia Bell

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I’m so excited about this! I’ve wanted to be in one of Ophelia Bell’s Valentine’s Day takeovers for a very long time, and I’m in! If you’ve never been to a Facebook Takeover Event, you’re missing out on a ton of fun and some great prizes. Plus, you discover new authors, find great books to read and have fun interacting with everyone.

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Author Interview – Alexandro Chen

15895882_10212044488892767_8711452962483954688_oWhen I put out the call to authors for interviews, Alex answered. I was very impressed with his writing and presence in the writing community, so that meant I had to have him for an interview. He is a very active member of Medium and publishes there frequently. His stories are amazing.

 

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