NaNoWriMo starts in three days! I’m ready, I think… At least my characters are poised at the starting line. I highly doubt I’ll make the 50,000 word count because my project is finishing Book Three of my series, The Starlight Chronicles. I hope I don’t have 50,000 words left to go, because I’m at 80,000 already! But you never know.
What I do know is that November is a great month to set everything else aside and focus on writing… every day. I also lost my head and signed up for a few sprints and competitions. Hmmm… It will be interesting to track it all.
There are still so many plotlines to be wrapped up in Tigris Vetus, and a lot going on in my conclusion to Selena Aires’ story. Which means so many beginnings for other novels. But I must finish this one to start more stories about all the great characters, aka Pod People, who found their beginnings in this series. Another great reason to participate in a month of daily writing.
Good luck to all you who will be participating! You can find me on Nanowrimo.org at DLLewellyn if you want to buddy up.
Here is a little art inspiration from Alexander Danailov, Hermes crossing the finish line.
Find this free workshop on Eventbrite or visit Richie Billing for information. My Writers Alliance page also has information about Richie and his Fantasy Writing Toolshed, a wealth of writing resources, often completely free!
Wow, Anna! You are in the middle of an exciting expansion in your career, a new book out and a new editing business. From where I sit, you’re on fire. How does it feel and how’s it going?
A. That’s so kind of you! I’m loving full-time work as an editor. I wish I’d made the leap to start my business years ago, but then I wouldn’t have the experience I do now. It’s been a rollercoaster, especially with my book launch alongside Moss Editorial, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I literally feel on fire some days, but don’t we all?
D. I must say I can feel the burn, and I hope it’s catchy. I’m totally thrilled for you.
For those of us who might be considering offering services outside of being authors, do you have any advice about getting started? How did it all happen for you? And tell us about what you’re offering and where we can find it.
A. I’d encourage anyone who has a dream to work with words to keep exploring options. I studied English at uni, then trained as a journalist, so words have always been at the heart of my learning. However, there are other routes into editing and plenty of introductory courses which enable people to dip their toes into a subject without committing to years of study. Don’t be put off by not having the ‘right’ qualifications, some people have a natural aptitude for things. If you think you can do something, give it a go!
My services cover everything from developmental editing, right through to proofreading. Most indie authors need support in one or more stages and that’s what I aim to do. It all starts with a free discovery call to work out what they need and then I explain my process. Choosing the right editor is an important step. There’s more info on my website: www.annakmoss.co.uk
D. That’s great advice! All the varied routes to being an author is a popular theme I’ve enjoyed hearing from so many writers, and it’s great to know where to go for guidance. I’m here to tell our readers how welcoming you are, too, Anna.
You recently published your first book, The Worthy. Can you tell us about the story and how it came about? When might we expect Book Two? I love sharing previews. Can you tell us a little about what’s next in the series?
A. The core idea for The Worthy – the creature which infects people with its emotions – only came about during the plotting stage, but one of the MCs, Prince Barsten, has been with me for years. I’m heavily influenced by the likes of Abercrombie and McClellan, and their ability to weave desperately difficult characters into their stories. And Barsten is a difficult character. He’s an absolute arsehole, if I’m honest, but enormously fun to write. Readers will find his arc an interesting one and we’ll see plenty more emotional development from him in the sequel. We’ll also see the vengeful wrath of Jintin, the country that Barsten and his lords plundered in the opening chapters. And did Ailith survive the battle of Simmon’s Godshouse?
D. This totally has me excited to crack it open! It’s loaded on my Kindle. Now I just need to dig in on those cool fall evenings coming up. And you offer signed copies on your website. Awesome!
Also, readers… besides the links to Anna’s website sprinkled throughout our conversation, you can click on her book cover to go right to Amazon for a copy.
How did you get started writing fantasy? Is it your preferred group of genres? Do you have a niche there, or do you like exploring or have plans to explore other kinds of writing?
A. Since reading Pratchett and Tolkien as a kid, I’ve been obsessed with fantasy. As I approach my fortieth year and my cynicism has grown, my love of dark fantasy has grown with it. I relish the complexity and political intrigue, coupled with grim settings and fetid viscerality of everyday existence. Give me a character that is part good, part bad, over a shining beacon of virtue, any day of the week. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy classic fantasy anymore, but it doesn’t make me burn like darker tales. And, if I ever need light relief, I’m a total sucker for cosy mysteries.
D. Writing darker, more complex characters is a goal for me. I do tend to enjoy writing the shining beacons, but it is harder to achieve that dramatic arc in a story if they start good and end better (I’m partial to the Hobbit-like arcs apparently). Haha. So, I will be consulting you about that, and it’s another good reason to dig into The Worthy!
You create characters that span the LGBTQ+ human experience. Characters drive my writing even more than the story, and I’ve found your posts on writing diverse characters with sensitivity extremely helpful. Can you share more for us here as well as the editing services we can find for help in this area?
A. I’m so glad you’ve found them helpful! I firmly believe that everyone, regardless of sexuality, should write more LGBTQIA+ characters. We need representation to feel accepted and worthy. I didn’t see anyone like me in books or TV when I was a kid. If I had done, I feel certain my journey to self-acceptance would’ve been radically different. I hope future generations will find their journey easier. If other authors are ever in need of advice on writing LGBTQIA+ characters, I provide sensitivity reads on a chapter or whole manuscript basis. I’m always open to informal chats too!
D. I admit when I started writing late in life a couple years ago, writing diverse characters wasn’t something I gave a lot of thought to, nor what it meant to represent more than the types of relationships I thought of as traditional. But without even trying, really fun romances of all kinds have blossomed through writing my series, and I can’t wait to get them and the amazing individuals into their own stories. Thank you for offering that assistance and sharing your experience.
FSF Writers Alliance
As one of the founding members of our Sci Fi Writers Alliance, tell us what inspired putting together the alliance and what you find most beneficial about being involved in writing communities. Can you recommend other such resources you’ve found helpful?
A. I absolutely love the Alliance! What a bunch of cracking people. Eric (E.B.Hunter) and I were talking about engagement groups for authors and the next thing I know, he’s created the whole Alliance idea. It was totally awesome! He’s such an inspiring guy. There are another couple of discord groups I can recommend: Indie Authors Unite and Richie Billing’s Community of Writers.
D. You’ve all been inspiring! It’s great to be part of such a global community, too.
Readers… To learn more about the Alliance and Richie Billing, click here. And you can meet Eric here. We did a Q&A in September.
WIPS AND TIPS
Can you tell us about your works in progress, any you’re particularly fond of at the moment, and when we might expect to see them in print?
A. I’m currently working on a short story called The Siege of Drenhaven. It’s a siege mentioned in The Worthy which has stuck with me for the last couple of years. I just had to write about it! That’ll be out in the next month or so, provided I have some time outside of editing. The sequel to The Worthy is also in the works, although that’s in the plotting stage.
Which of your characters in all your writing is your favorite, and why?
A. Probably Princess Ailith. If she was a real person, and I was single, I’d totally ask her out. She’s a fiercely clever, brave woman, and her dialogue is really fun to write. She says all the witty things I wish I could, but can never think of quickly enough in real life.
D. Okay, so now you’ve given me three reasons to dig into The Worthy!
What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?
A. Releasing The Worthy! It’s so surreal to have characters and settings that have only existed in your head, discussed by other people. The feedback and reviews I’ve had have been beyond my wildest dreams. I feel tremendously honoured to be part of the bookstagram community and hope my writing will continue to develop and improve. I can’t wait to share more with my readers!
D. Congratulations again! And that reminds me to let our readers know they can find you on Instagram.
What are you most excited about over the next year?
A. Other than moving back to the Westcountry (England) and becoming a fully fledged, cider-drinking artiste, I’m really looking forward to working with more authors. Chatting with other people about their books is my absolute favourite thing to do. I’m so inspired by their creativity and passion. I know it sounds tremendously corny, but art energises art. Editing books is another wonderful way to find doors into other worlds, just like reading. The chance to talk to the creators of those worlds is a real privilege.
D. Oh, that does sound lovely! Should I admit here that I’m a bonafide Anglophile? To live in a village and hang out at the pub is a dream. Thankfully, I got to travel for a month in the UK but that was ages ago. Sigh. Maybe, I’ll get another shot someday. For now, I will enjoy the online community of artists and your inspiration, which is why I’m so happy to share our conversation today, Anna. Thank you for the encouragement!
Any parting advice for those who dream about becoming a writer or a career in the writing industry?
A. If you ever feel stuck or uninspired, ask for help. There are so many authors out there in exactly the same position as you. They aren’t your competition, they’re your cheerleaders. I’m always open to informal chats too, so reach out if you need some advice about editing or becoming an author.
D. Fantastic and good to know! This has been a lot of fun, Anna. Thank you so much for chatting with us.
So much of my focus and efforts go into creating my characters (aka my Pod People) and bringing them to life through the written word, that I lose sight of the fact that once they are out there, they might live in the world of mankind forever… or as long as mankind exists, and the digital content or printed copies stay intact and available… But I, as their creator, don’t even have the potential to last too many more decades, maybe not even too many more years… weeks, or days…? I’m at that age after all.
It makes me wonder if that is why I create them.
What do you think about that? Do you write stories so that a piece of yourself will always exist, so long as there are humans out there who might read them? I know we write for many reasons, but I think I will have to admit this is one of mine.
When I think about that idea more, it makes me realize my Pod People have the upper hand. I mistakingly believed it was me who had the power over them, but it’s the other way around. That’s okay, so long as they do their job and stick in the minds of my readers.
I’m so grateful to be able to chat with Lucky on a regular basis. Our conversations have been one of the highlights of my writing journey this summer. I’m so new at the craft, and though he’s from a younger generation, he’s never short on wise counsel and encouragement. So, here is some of that for you.
I’m also pleased to share Lucky’s character sketches from some of his works in progress.
I love the sweeping expanse of your fantasy worlds and epic stories. Can you talk a little about how long you’ve been writing and what inspired you to write fantasy? What fantasy genre best describes your stories?
Thanks for the compliment, nice words are always welcome here and thank you for setting up this Q&A. Where would the Alliance be without you?
It’s hard to imagine that I’ve been writing for eight years now. It still feels like yesterday… Reading built my desire to write. I enjoyed Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, Glen Cook’s The Black Company, Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen and of course the fantasy bible: The Lord of the Rings. Apart from Butcher’s work, you’ll discover all the authors I mentioned above built vast worlds and their storytelling was top notch, too. So, one day, while reading A storm of Swords by R. R. Martin, I was like, “I think I need to write a book.” My mind grasped that idea and nursed it for weeks. I tried writing some stories but discovered I was writing what I’d read from other Authors and there was no originality… Oscar’s Wilde’s famous quote: “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinion, their lives a mimicry, their passion a quotation,” came to mind and I began to focus on new ideas. It wasn’t easy at first, but I managed to bring my ideas to life. Indeed, while I was influenced and inspired to write by the authors I mentioned above, my real inspiration came from being different. Writing something original. And though it can be argued that the two are intertwined, I believe the latter helped me hone my skills through the years.
To answer your last question here, I’d like to point out that I love dark stories. Every time I tried to make my stories into sunshine and rainbows, I failed with the plot. Over the years, I tried to perfect the art of dark fantasies, and of course my stories are always high fantasies, too.
Who is your favorite author(s)? What was it about his/her writing or characters that inspired you most?
Favorite author has to be R.R Martin. His ability to tell a story from ten to fifteen points of view is second to none in my opinion. Plus, like I said earlier, I love huge detailed worlds… and worlds don’t get bigger than Esteros, and Westeros.
D. You got that right. Well. I think you’re on track for developing worlds in that magnitude!
The New Defeat is such an awesome title. Can you tell us a little about it and where the idea came from?
The New Defeat… hmmm. December 2019, I wasn’t feeling too well, and was down for about two weeks. While sick, to lull myself to sleep when movies and music failed, I formed up stories. One story stood out which later became the title mentioned above. It was meant to be about a peculiar race, called the Zoryks. Their existence was one of survival as they’d lost their traits or superpowers. They were preyed upon because of this weakness and envied by most around them. Our protagonist had the great destiny to save his world while many only saw his poor mental health. The new defeat was supposed to reflect the sadness of being weak and misunderstood. I for one enjoyed building the world of the be defeat called the Paraworld. A continent made up of six races namely the Zoryks, Lerans, Yubs, Wingyads, Kraskors, and Solbies. Each race had its peculiar trait, and some traits were funny. For example, Zoryks became drunk from drinking honey, and had diseases like the sad sickness, the falling fingers… Other races like the Yuban (Yubs) were naturally bald, head to foot, while Wingyads had the ability to fly. There’s a lot of political intrigue too, and the villains had reasonable personalities. Book two should be out soon.
D. That’s a great story. Our readers can click on your book cover at the end to link to The New Defeat on Amazon.
I’ve had a chance to preview some of your current works in progress and I’m excited to see them in print. Can you tell us about some of your favorites?
I’m excited about a few stories, like Thirty: Rise of the Dead which is the book of Thirty: XXX released last year. However, I’m more excited about When a Kingdom Bleeds Lords Weep. I’ve been working on this for 8 years. I’m after perfection with this story though I know it’s impossible to write a perfect book. I poured my heart into this up to a point where in 2018 I went through books one and two (over 200k words at the time) and burnt both manuscripts. Everybody says, “You’re allowed to have shitty first drafts,” but I was having none of that. I started the project again, and I think its release is coming soon.
D. I was hoping you would share this story. When you first told me that, it impressed the heck out of me. You literally burned your manuscript to force yourself to start from the beginning again. It’s the kind of thing many of us might have wanted to do ourselves at one point but lacked the courage. Lucky is giving us a sneak peek at his cover for When Kingdom Bleeds!
The New Defeat is just one of your published books. Where can we find others? Can you point us to your short stories?
Thanks Darci, for this opportunity to point a finger toward my short stories. I have a few available here.
Which of your characters in all your writing is your favorite, and why?
That’s an exciting question, Darci. I’d like to go with Julian Mars-Stalker on this one. He’s the first son of a popular lord in the Province of Samolin. Samolin is a province in the Kingdom of Markia, and they belong to the Sanem Continent. The Continent where When a Kingdom Bleeds is set. His father had high hopes for him, whereas Julian desired the simple things in life. What I really loved about Julian was his ability to rise to every scenario thrown at him. I also liked the way he talked. Sometimes he came off rude, and at other times he was like an angel. My favorite quote from him is: “When the young do their business which the old call folly, the old should stick to their wisdom and preserve their warnings for those without lust.”
D. I love that line. What an elegant way to tell someone to stick to their own business!
You are also so creative in illustrating your worlds with AI digital art. Is that something you do to relax and want a break from writing, or is it a passion of its own? What other creative outlets do you like to explore?
Thanks for the compliment again, Darci. I think writing as a form of art should be expressed in other forms too. I love the idea of creating and I’m not good at drawing nor experienced in making state of the art videos. A.I art can come a long way to make it seem like you know what you’re doing when creating, and that’s why I use it as a tool. But if I had the experience or enough dollars to hire professionals, I’d stick to my writing.
D. What I love about your images is the drama they convey. I’m drawn to the dark portentous things going on and want to know what will happen next.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about meeting you and other writers in our Fantasy Sci Fi Writers Alliance is that we are from all over the globe. So many different experiences! How did you first come across the group, and what perks have you discovered from being involved with a writing community?
It was all down to Eric B. Hunter’s effort. He invited me and helped me through with the basics. He’s such a nice guy, and I like the community which grew afterward in the name of Fantasy Sci Fi Writers Alliance. I think the Alliance has been fun. You get to meet nice people from everywhere and it’s been a very supportive community.
D. Yeah. This is a good place to note that the original group has been around for a while, before Eric and Anna got the brilliant idea to brand us as the Fantasy Sci Fi Writers Alliance. And with that branding and all the current events inspired by it, the group is growing fast. If you want to learn more, click on my Alliance page.
● What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?
D. I’m with you there, my friend. These past few years have been tough. Here’s to celebrating still being around!
What are you most excited about over the next year?
I really can’t say because life changes in a heartbeat. I’ll keep things simple and hope I become a better writer.
D. That’s a good way to go. And all the best to you.
● What are your plans for future publications?
I’m working toward releasing Thirty: Rise of the Dead, The New Defeat two, When a Kingdom Bleeds Lords Weep and The Château between now and next year. A publishing deal? Maybe… Ha, laughs an indie author.
D. I know you’re close on many of those. Even one publication down will be a huge accomplishment. You’re always reminding me that it will happen in time and that’s good advice. I know it will happen for you, too!
● Any parting advice to those who dream about writing?
I’d go with R. R Martin’s advice, which has helped me through the years. “Write every day, even if it is only a page or two. The more you write, the better you’ll get. But don’t write in my universe, or Tolkien’s, or the Marvel universe, or the Star Trek universe, or any other borrowed background. Every writer needs to learn to create his own characters, worlds, and settings.”
D. And that does sum up the challenge for a fantasy writer. This has been great, Lucky. Thank you so much for the conversation. All the best!
I can’t wait to share my conversation with Lucky! Join us this Sunday and meet a writer hugely influenced by George R. R. Martin. And you will see it coming through in our chat and his writing. Lucky is one of those people who are generous with their time in helping others on their creative journeys, so it’s a real pleasure featuring his work this month. I also enjoy his A.I. artwork so much, I asked to use it in my promo. Enjoy!
How’d You Like my Dramatic Intro? The Games in Question? Writing Challenges…
Are you addicted to entering writing contests? I think I might be headed that way. And I think it’s because they punctuate my ho hum life with bursts of pure adrenalin pumping excitement. But it’s excitement I can engage in without leaving my studio and keyboard, so it’s still within my comfort zone.
If nothing else comes from the frantic writing, editing, and finishing it all on a deadline, and the nail biting as I hit the submit button, there is that… nice comfortable excitement. But my pod people (characters who live in my head, aka transplanted alien pods) keep urging me to do this because they want a chance to be heard. My book sales don’t really achieve that on a great scale.
I should clarify that I haven’t entered many yet. A lot of them I’m still investigating. My very first one this summer was a free challenge that rewarded ten chosen stories out of 300 submissions with publication in a trophy anthology. I was blown away when mine was selected, and I got hooked on the process.
Then, a friend told me about NYCMidnight competitions. If you want a thrilling way to hone your writing skills on a tight deadline with a genre that’s a mystery until the moment you’re scheduled to start writing, click on the link. There are multiple rounds to strive for, so multiple chances at untried genres with random objects and places thrown in. Can’t get more exciting than that!
My next goal is submitting to magazines. I’m excited about the anthologies planned over the next year with Dragon Soul Press and hope to try for a few. I did go for the competition offered by Uncharted Magazine seeking up to a 5,000-word novel excerpt. I have two novel WIPS I’m excited about that I submitted. By now I think you get that I’m excited about writing challenges.
And of course, there’s the big one looming in November, the free challenge that really gets those novels primed, NaNoWriMo. This year will be my second. No nail biting involved, just lots of writing and counting words. Totally fun.
Now, the downside to entering contests and challenges. I thought hitting the submit button was the most nerve-wracking part. Nope! It’s the waiting. But waiting means anticipation and anticipation means excitement, so you really can’t lose, if you like writing with a side dish of hurry up and wait, and wait some more. But hey, there’s always more stories to write and submit while you hunker down and wait for the email that might change your world. Hmmm. I think I just hit on the recipe for getting addicted to submitting to writing contests and challenges.
So far, I’ve also found that opting for the feedback, when it’s reasonably priced, makes the whole experience well worth the long process, however it ends. And really, the process is worth the process. I’ve learned tons for every submission.
Let me know what contests and challenges you enjoy, and how often you like to submit, and you don’t even have to confess to an addiction.
Below is another exciting opportunity for a short story contest.
I belong to a great group of global writers in the Fantasy Sci Fi Writers Alliance. We just developed a short story contest for our members. Click here for information and how to join.