All posts by bydllewellyn

About bydllewellyn

I get to live on two acres in a high desert valley on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where I share life with my husband, an array of furry companions, and enjoy what it means to have good neighbors. This beautiful country is the inspiration for my stories. While home is a favorite hangout, I managed to satisfy a travel bug by exploring the wonders of Australia, Japan, Great Britain, and Europe. My other career has been dedicated to public service as a paralegal. To balance work and life, all sorts of mindful arts and crafts are explored in my tiny studio crammed full of colorful things. My short story, Priss Starwillow & the Wolf, is the first installment in a fantasy adventure featuring two of my favorite characters in The Starlight Chronicles Series, available on Amazon (Book Three due 2022). It was a winner of the 2022 AutoCrit Community Writing Challenge, noted for its enchanting world building and captivating characters in 5,000 words. Visit my website at www.bydllewellyn.com to read my blogs about the Writer's Life, drop me a line, and find my books.

I’m Down for the Count, but I Won’t Leave the Ring

Writing contests… What compels me to set myself up repeatedly for an emotional one-two punch? That is my initial reaction anyway, after the rejection comes, or the silence when my beloved story is knocked senseless to the mat after all the arduous work.

Eventually, after much moaning… ahem… soul searching, reason returns, and I take away the valuable lessons and start my next story.

How about you? Do you submit to writing contests to hone your skills? Are you a writer who thrives in that environment or shuns it? Share your highlights, successes, and best lessons in the comments.

Artwork by 0Q . at https://zeroq.artstation.com/

My Spotlight Guests for the New Year are Lining Up to Meet You – Here is a Little About Them

January

Madeline Davis – Harpist, Scholar, U.S. Fantasy Writer

Madeline and I met in the Fantasy Sci Fi Writer’s Alliance and enjoy helping each other with story feedback. Her insights and editing tips have been invaluable. I love Madeline’s imaginative stories infused with the elements of her classical education and feel privileged to share in her writing journey.

Madeline is a harpist and an avid student, currently working towards her undergraduate degree in the Classics, as that field allows her ample exploration in her favorite subjects–literature, philosophy, theology, history, and languages–all at the same time.

She also enjoys poring over ancient texts and researching in her chosen subjects to incorporate the results into her fantasy genre stories. She hopes to give others a share of the delight she has derived from so many fine tales. And I’m delighted she is joining me for a Q&A, so she can pass that on to you.

Isa Ottoni – Teacher, Fantasy Writer, Enjoys Life in Portugal

I also met Isa through the Fantasy Sci Fi Writer’s Alliance, and like Madeline, Isa is extremely generous with her feedback and support for all of us there. For me, she has been an inspiration and invaluable to my writing journey.

Isa started her career writing science and teaching English as a Second Language, before falling in love with crafting her own fantastical universes. Her comic fantasy tale Braza is featured in Funemployment Press’s Quarterly Summer of Year One. She lives with her husband and their dog in a flat that overlooks the ocean, and spends her days writing, reading, and wondering about the what-ifs of life. I can’t wait for her visit, so we can all experience her joy and generosity.

Click below for the digital Summer Edition of the Funemployment Quarterly, and a collection of short stories, including Isa’s Braza. There is also a print version available. Funemployment Press is featured on my Indie Publishers Page.

February

Sevannah Storm – Artist, Sci-Fi Fantasy Romance Author, NaNoWriMo Buddy, Hales from South Africa

I met Sevannah on NaNoWriMo in 2021, and wow is she a writing machine. Her progress is always motivating. And she has a fantastic collection of books on Amazon for you to check out. I’m including a link to the first book in the Gifting Series below.

Sevannah was born and raised in Africa and is a slave to her internal muse, Reginald. She writes action-packed romances with happily-ever-after and is a firm believer in relatable characters who are strong, capable yet bowled over by love.

Her home is a land south of Wakanda, where animals roam free. Born in Zimbabwe, she grew up in South Africa. The crisp blue skies with cotton-candy sunsets expand her heart and soul, encapsulating a sense of freedom. Check out her website and newsletter. I can’t wait to chat with her about her writing life and insights.

Musings

Once I realized the “real world” was largely in my head, it became infinitely easier to interact with the reality of others.

Musings

Kent is My New Guru

Check out our conversation and meet this sci-fi author who gives us more on his insights.

My Pod People Had Their Own Plans for NaNoWriMo – My Decision to Unpublish

What a surprise this November is turning out to be. The best laid plans… as they say. But I have never been one to stick with plans if something tells me I need to mix it up and to go a different direction.

For NaNoWriMo this year, my Pod People (aka characters seeded in my brain by aliens) spun me around blindfolded under a pinata and after bashing away, I’ve made all sorts of turns and transitions in my writing career.

And I’m totally thrilled and surprised by the results.

In the first week, I changed my project three times. Then, I had an epiphany. I needed to unpublish my novels. Books One and Two in The Starlight Chronicles were languishing, loveless in the nether regions of the Kindle Universe. I’m still working on the conclusion and thought at one point that would be my focus for November.

But the pressure of completing my series has been weighing on me. I decided that getting them off the market, using the time to finish and polish them, finding a book cover artist for a cohesive professional look, and launching them with a fresh marketing campaign might be exactly what they, and I need.

An exhilarating freedom resulted. I’ve been infused with new energy. There are three other novels in the works that are getting the attention they deserve. I made one of them my focus for November but decided not to worry about hitting my goal if I want to write on other projects. What a relief that has been, and I’ve made progress with them all.

I have also allowed myself to participate in various flash fiction and short story competitions, which have been more enjoyable without the pressure of getting that third installment done.

And I’ve spent much time this month giving renewed love to The Starlight Chronicles. My Pod People have spoken, and I listened.

Other factors played a huge role in my rejuvenation. I belong to a writer’s alliance and the support I got for this crucial decision was phenomenal. A Twitter post by a member of the Writing Community about deciding to unpublish was ever so timely. And advice on holding onto the joy of writing while letting go of the drudgery of marketing sealed the deal. You can join that discussion in my recent interview with Sci-Fi author, Kent Wayne.

The month is not over folks… I wonder what other surprises might be in store. And please. Tell me how your November is shaping up.

The Death’s Head Omen is a recent micro fiction story I entered in a contest. Results in January.

100-Word Story Challenge. My foray into horror – A minor Starlight Chronicles Vampire character, my inspiration…

Enjoy a Three-Part Supernatural Horror Story – Exactly 100 Words Each

One: Brother’s Maker

Thick rivulets of blood moved down the wall like snakes slithering into Hell. Lucius thought going there himself would be better than mucking out this foul slaughter. Hiding his brother’s crimes from Prince Remus. Death by fire, their punishment if caught.

Linus, too far gone to understand the danger, had killed another valuable hunter. Lucius labored to obliterate the evidence while Linus crouched over an arm sucking out the blood and marrow like a human sucking meat from a crab leg.

Lucius had turned his brother. Watching him deteriorate was penance. Figuring out how to stop it, his only purpose.

Two: Brother’s Keeper

Lucius stared in frustration at the naked female, then grabbed newspaper from the alley trash to cover her. Copious blood soaked through, turning it to pulp. He added more paper. Didn’t help. Blood spouted like a fountain from her torn jugular. He yanked his brother, who’d pounced on her again, away from her neck.

“You couldn’t have gone one more block?” Linus whipped towards him. Lucius stifled a gasp. The nerdy, giraffe-legged brother was there. Then the eyes turned soulless, reflecting the red pooling beneath their feet, and Linus’s stark hunger. Pain stabbed Lucius where his heart once beat.

Three: Brother’s Killer

Lucius cradled Linus’s head in his lap. Just his head… which Lucius had to remove. He stared at the rectangular hole holding his brother’s body, then forced his gaze away to take in the fateful surroundings. The graveyard was damp. Dew glistened on the grass. Dripped from cypress trees and giant yews. None of it made this real. They’d been vampires for five decades, inseparable. But Linus’s self-control had deserted him. He broke too many council laws.

“You never believed you could be ended, brother. Didn’t you once think it would be me who would have to do the ending?”

Had to add this. I love making book covers, even for tiny fiction.

First drafts rejected. But I Keep Trying.

I was happy with my first attempt to do a 100-word story. The publisher, not so much. But that’s okay because I learned a lot in the process. These bits about vampire brothers were inspired by a minor character in my Starlight Chronicles series. I admit, pure horror is a challenge for me, though I love reading and watching it, the darker the better. I read Bram Stoker in my youth, along with Mary Shelly, which means those sweeping, tantalizing, horrific impressions are there, deep down, and now that I’m writing fantasy, I’m compelled to draw from their brilliance.

Vlad the Impaler has been an endlessly fascinating figure in history and fiction for me, no matter how many ways his story has been told. And today’s supernatural fantasy authors are finding entertaining ways to retell the tales. Many of them inspired me.

Luke Evans portrayed an excellent fictional Vlad. Dracula Untold sparked my imagination and gave a feel for the period and setting. I was disappointed with its box office failure, which ended hopes of a sequel. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer.

Please take a moment to read the drabbles above and let me know if I’m on the right track for a story told in exactly 100 words. Better yet, share your own 100-word story in the comments.

Thank you!

3D Art by Ismael Tejero

Guest Spotlight with Sci-Fi Author, Kent Wayne, aka The Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha

Or is it the Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha, aka Kent Wayne? Hmmm. I’ll let you decide after you meet him. Read on!

Click on images to link to Mr. Wayne’s books and blogs.

You might guess my first question today, Kent. What seeds that imagination when you write your “Yet another weird ad for my novels” blog? They sure caught my attention.

Believe it or not, no one’s asked me that before.  Oftentimes, it’s a throwaway joke I hear on a comedy podcast.  It takes root in my mind, grows into a premise, then I change the context so I can make a miniature story out of it. Other times, I’m struck by a “What If,” then when I sit down to write, I tease out the possibilities within that premise.  

You’ve created foes, heroes, and the most zany and naughty superpowers from just about every likely and unlikely personality in our universe, with Kent Wayne extracting himself by the skin of his… well, you know… every time, as long as he has that precious second to activate his eReader. I read them because I can’t wait to see who might show up next in your action-packed appendage battles! What’s the story behind the stories?

One of my writing principles is to amp things up as much as I can (by “as much as I can,” I mean constrain events with logic while reaching for maximal absurdity or the emotionally evocative), and then smooth things over as I edit. That definitely applies to my ads, where I write about prehensile genitalia or Martha Stewart shoving a mithril lance into Smaug’s nether-hole.

As a kid, I read Calvin and Hobbes over and over.  I especially loved the arcs where he imagined he was a noir detective, articulate dinosaur, or Spaceman Spiff.  Barry Ween was another big influence.  

I love the idea of extraordinary circumstances arising in the ordinary world, then reveling in the adventure and fun as madness ensues.

D. Awesome. Thanks for sharing your techniques! I have to say I would like to emulate that effect. There’s nothing better than an enjoyable read over breakfast that has my brows shooting up and laughter coming out of my nose with my coffee.

Click on the Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha to visit Kent and follow his posts. And click here for his volume of Musings on Amazon

Do the blogs spring out of nowhere, or do you have an arsenal of notes to pull from when you’re ready to give us another one?

When I have an idea, I’ll write a cliffs notes version of the basic gist, usually no more than a sentence long (ex:  defile jock’s jacket, jock gets mad, defeat jock and hook up with his mom).  I also do this with books–if I’m afraid I’m going to forget what I want to write, I’ll write a cliffs notes version in brackets at my furthest point in the manuscript.  

In the past, I have at times sat down with no idea or clue and just started writing on a blank page.  In some of the older blogs, you’ll see me start with “What to write, what to write, what to wriiiiiiiitteee…” and then I let my fingers go and come up with something on the spot.  

I know the ads/blogs are popular. Do they work to sell your books? Would you say they’re an extension of your published stories, or are they in a world all by themselves? And are they as fun to write as they are to read? 

Not at all, LOL!  I’ve given up trying to sell books; it’s made me miserable in the past.  I just try and have fun with writing.  The primary reward for me is the fulfillment and engagement I get from crafting a story–it’s the one activity that always seems to flow without any effort for me.

The blogs are my overtures toward advertising.  But I hate advertising, so I decided why not exercise my writing muscles when I publish an ad?

D. Great points. I only started writing fiction a couple of years ago. I did it because it was fun. The first year stayed fun, the second year, I went down the marketing rabbit hole, and I keep trying to climb back out. This is encouraging. Thank you!

Tell us about your other books on Amazon.

My other books are Echo, a four-book science fiction series that follows a warrior who’s pushed it as far as he can in a militarized dystopia, then embarks on a quest for personal transcendence.  In addition to the robo-suits and high-tech pew-pew, I throw in a lot of psychic stuff and existential philosophy, although they don’t come into play until volumes 3 and 4.

Kor’Thank:  Barbarian Valley Girl was my way of trying something new and branching into humor.  It’s kind of like a long-form version of my ads, but it’s got heart and character development in it since it’s a full-length book.

I write books I want to read (or I would have wanted to read when I was younger), so after I covered the robo-badass stuff and the zany high school fun, I wrote a YA fantasy called A Door into Evermoor.  Now that Dungeons and Dragons is cool and you can admit to playing it without being encircled and laughed at by trend-worshipping mouth-breathers, I’ll freely admit I played D&D as a kid. 

D. Haha. One of the best reasons I’ve heard for writing a story!

What inspired you to write fiction?

I kind of stumbled onto it via a happy accident. I tried writing in my twenties, but I was like most writers where I couldn’t get past a premise or a couple of chapters.  For some reason, I was able to do it in my thirties. I suspect it was because I had some life experience, but mostly because I was starting to understand the psychology behind a narrative–how a character’s personality should develop through a story, and how corresponding events should complement that development.

D. Another great nugget of inspiration. Thanks!

Which authors have inspired you most? 

Stephen King, specifically his Dark Tower series, specifically the second volume, The Drawing of Three. The part where a gunslinger-knight from another dimension lies dying on an alien beach, then gets his first taste of Pepsi, is burned into my mind as the most viscerally impactful scene I’ve ever read.

Also, Robin Hobb and the first two volumes of the Farseer series, Assassin’s Apprentice and Royal Assassin.

Can you tell us about your works in progress, any ones you’re particularly fond of at the moment, and when we might expect to see them in print?

Right now, I’ve finished drafting the second volume of the Unbound Realm, which is called Weapons of Old. I’m deep in the edits, trying to work out the logic holes, spice up the descriptions, and kicking myself for not remembering to set up this or that for the next volume.  

After that, I plan on writing volume 3, then tackling an extradimensional detective noir.  The release dates depend on when I can do a smooth read-through without catching major problems. That typically means I can read through the entire book in less than a week without anything big jumping out at me. 

D. I really appreciate getting some insight on your creative process. It’s helpful to glimpse how writers tackle the sheer volume of work that’s always in play.

Which of your characters is your favorite, and why?

I’m always biased towards whoever I’m writing about, so Jon from the Unbound Realm is my favorite at that moment.

What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?

My biggest highlight is finishing the first volume of my YA fantasy series. I’ve spent most of my life as an emotionally stunted, tough-guy meathead, so it’s nice to see that I can tap into the wonder and adventure I wished for as a kid.  I never expressed it back then, so it’s nice to see it flow onto the page.

D. I think you just tapped into one of the many unexpected benefits of being a writer and thank you again for sharing your experiences.

What are you most excited about over the next year?

I’m excited to publish the second volume of the Unbound Realm, write and publish volume 3, then move on to my astral detective noir.

D. All the best on those endeavors. I love anything with noir, and that last project sounds super intriguing. Keep us posted!

Any parting advice for those who dream about becoming a writer, or starting up a blog?

Fun is the priority. There are better ways to make money. If writing doesn’t bring you joy, then the pain and inconvenience better be worth it in some other way–maybe fulfillment or pride or internal validation–but that’s not my approach. I think that’s similar to someone who stays in a miserable job so they can retire in their old age and enjoy a few years of not having to do a miserable job.  

I used to idolize hard-chargers, folks who preached constant sacrifice and austerity, but now my role model is Keanu Reeves. From my perspective, that guy is a horrible actor, he’s kind of weird, and comes off as not the brightest, but it seems like he prioritizes enjoyment and stays true to his heart (he turned down Speed 2 and the buttload of money that came with it, looks for roles he likes, and cuts his salary to boost production he believes in). Success is nice, but if you’re outwardly successful and inwardly miserable, what’s the point? Whatever is outwardly happening to me, regardless of whether it meets someone else’s definition of miserable or happy, I’d like to honor my inner compass. I don’t want writing to become a horrible office job with loads of obligations and constant low-key anxiety. I’d like to be the Keanu Reeves of writing, if that makes any sense.  

I’d also recommend learning how symbolism works through imagery and action (in cinema, smoking a cigarette almost always means the smoker is going to be self-destructive, and taking a shower almost always references some form of rebirth because the character is naked and drenched like they would be in a womb). Those are just artsy tools, however. I think understanding the hero’s journey–which Joseph Campbell does a great job of breaking down–is probably of utmost importance.  The audience doesn’t want to see a guy just putter through life and never experience meaningful change; we see too much of that in our day to day. The advantage of a well-told story is you get to see the highlights of a character’s life.

D. That is the best ending advice I’ve had to date. If I didn’t have only twenty months left to retire and get my pension, I’d be out of that office so fast, my hair pins would be spinning! 😄 At the very least, I’m feeling a lot better about slow book sales and can focus again on the joy of writing them. Thanks so much for visiting with us on my Spotlight blog today. This has been a lot of fun. All the best to you, Kent.

Best AutoCrit Score Ever!

I can’t deny I was pleased with this summary. I worked hard on polishing my first microfiction 24-hour submission to NYC Midnight’s 250-word Microfiction Challenge 2022, and maybe… just maybe, this will mean something in the judging. We will see (but not until January!). These events are amazing for anyone who wants the challenge of getting a complete story into a tiny format. And for those of you who are participating with me, the best of luck!

Check out AutoCrit if you haven’t already. I recommend it as a great writing resource with powerful analytics.

My story hint image provided by Shutterstock.com

Next exciting author interview – Kent Wayne -Sunday 20 Nov!

Come meet a totally cool sci-fi author next Sunday on my blog.

Kent and I had a blast chatting, and you won’t want to miss it.

Click below to find his fantastic stories on Amazon.

Preview of The Starlight Chronicles, an epic, three-part fantasy novel

Selena Aires is fine with her nine-to-five life in the city, using her spare time to create art instead of making friends or finding love. Her mentor begins to insist she’s on the wrong path. 

When he dies, her grief and faith in his convictions prompts her to move to a small town in the lofty Sierra Nevada Mountains. But more is waiting for her in Quincy than the invigorating pine-scented air, endless trails, and the perfect artist bungalow. What Selena didn’t expect was an encounter with an astonishing man whose barely restrained power calls to something buried in her she had no idea was there.

The alpha of the North Star Pack thought he’d faced every challenge until he laid eyes on the new human in his territory, a beautiful artist with the heart of a warrior. Andras Johns knows instantly his life will never be the same.

The two of them must find a way to merge their opposing worlds while Selena grapples with her feelings for a man with a mystery beneath the surface and faces a destiny that’s expanded beyond her wildest imagination, a destiny fraught with peril in a world that just keeps getting stranger.

Prologue

Zigan – 1988 AD

It was a stormy night when I materialized in my mist on the second-floor landing of the small house that sat hunched within its aged timbers in the middle of blowing alfalfa fields. Thunder shook the floor beneath my feet as I surveyed the hallway. It was uncluttered with a colorful runner, the only object to break up the expanse of walls. It smelled like damp wood, and ozone was sharp in my nostrils from the persistent lightning strikes.

Other than the intermittent flashes, only the light of a half-moon penetrated, showing three doors to choose from. But I could sense the tiny human I was to bind my soul with for the rest of my life. 

Certain now the room at the end was the one to avoid, I moved quietly along the plank floor to stop at the first door, then paused at the threshold to savor the moment. For half the life allotted to me, I had trained with the Order of Hala preparing for this bonding and the challenges it would bring. The time had come to meet up again with the precious soul who’d returned to this world, choosing this infant in this remote county in northern California. 

I put my hand to the brass knob and turned it, relieved the door didn’t creak as it swung open to reveal two children sleeping despite the rolling thunder and lightning flashing close to the house, and the rain pounding against the panes of the only window. The pulsating light illuminated the large space containing the crib, a small bed, an open cabinet stuffed with toys, and a rocking chair in the corner. 

Electricity of my own vibrated over the pulse of my wrist as I drew near the crib, which drew the attention of the infant girl who woke as soon as I leaned over her. The heart-shaped face framed by a halo of dark hair watched me in silent fascination, her arms waving and legs wiggling in reaction to the magic that surrounded us. 

A faint moan had me inspecting the bed in the opposite corner where her four-year old brother dreamed, nestled beneath a Spiderman cover with his own mop of dark hair peeking out, oblivious to the magic and the storm. 

So, I did what I came to do. When I pressed my wrist to her minuscule left shoulder, an obscure image of a half-moon and my wind symbol tucked next to it formed on her delicate skin. Her brilliant eyes sparkled as she watched my smiling face, making no sound as our souls connected. “Grow well, my precious one, and we’ll meet again soon.”

She has been named Selena. I will reveal myself to her when she is grown and finds her mate, and our journey will begin. For now, I gathered my mist to take me far away.

Manuscript in the works…

My Pod People are Gearing up for a Month-long Marathon!

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.

Free Email Marketing Class for Authors!

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!

Guest Spotlight with U.K. Fantasy Author, and Editor, Anna K. Moss

On Fire!

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!

LGBTQ+

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. 

D. Awesome. Again, follow Anna to stay posted.

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.