Category Archives: Creator’s Life

My Creator Spotlight – Inspiration for Me, and for You!

You can’t help but be motivated after meeting creators like you and learning what motivated them through the ups and the downs of their journeys.

The year is flying! I can’t believe I’ve already had two amazing guests drop by. If you haven’t met Madeline or Isa yet, visit their posts for inspiration and two super enjoyable conversations.

I thought I would blog a bit about my Spotlight feature. The joy and inspiration I get from engaging in this process has turned out to be the biggest surprise in my writing journey.

I have had the privilege of interviewing members of the writing community and other creators I meet along the way, mostly fantasy and sci fi writers like me who are new at it and working hard to get their stories out in the world. I also interview editors, book reviewers, artists, and photographers. Even an old high school friend is dropping by in March who is an award winning filmmaker. 

My guests are from around the globe, including Australia, Canada, the U.K., Nigeria, Portugal, Texas, Seattle, Hollywood and my own town, Carson City. I’ve got more lined up from South Africa, New Zealand, Scotland, the U.K., Montreal, Vancouver, and Seattle. This is inspiring in an of itself.

Every one of my guests has been a delight and so generous with their time. And this is an opportunity to thank them all for participating. Drop by my gallery where all conversations are housed for continued inspiration.

This month, my two guests proved again how supportive the writing community is. Madeline and Isa spent a lot of time and effort on a robust Q&A. These two are phenomenal at supporting and inspiring others, and it really comes through.

My interviews center around a creator’s life; what inspires it, the highlights and lessons of the journey, and how to balance all the things, and every one of my guests has something different to offer, yet every bit has been relatable and translates to all of us who are endeavoring to grow and succeed through creative expression.

If you missed my December Guest and need a little art in you life… I’m reposting…Sunday Spotlight – Artist and Teacher Audrey Markowitz

Artwork by Audrey Markowitz

D. I could talk all day about your teaching and how wonderful you are at motivating and supporting those around you. That is my experience with you, …

Sunday Spotlight – Artist and Teacher Audrey Markowitz
Artwork by Audrey Markowitz

My Pod People Went on Vacation this Weekend.

A Little Harry Potter Themed Inspiration for my Pod People This Week in a WIP Warrior FB Challenge!

So what did I do instead of write? I stitched. I have been writing nearly every day for a year and a half. But I once enjoyed other crafts before the…

My Pod People Went on Vacation this Weekend.

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

Meet Madeline! Sunday 15 January Spotlight Feature

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 …

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

“…that’s when art is not a luxury, it’s actually sustenance.” Ethan Hawke

A blogger friend shared this amazing Ted Talk with Ethan Hawke. Listen to his thoughts on the necessity of acting the fool in our creativity so humanity might have a chance to survive intact as humanity. That’s my take on his compelling discussion, anyway. Please share yours in the comments.

Announcing my March Guest, Filmmaker Graham Streeter

Happy New Year! Here’s to an amazing year of new possibilities, meeting creative goals, and cherishing the quiet moments.

One of my goals is to continue with my Creator Spotlight feature, and bring you one or even two guests a month where we chat about a day in the life of a creator. Click here for my January and February guests. For March, an old friend will be dropping by.

Graham Streeter is an American film director, screenwriter and cinematographer.

Graham was raised in northern California until high school, which is when we met. Yep. We go way back. He lived in Osaka, Japan for 10 years while working in film and television. He was the reason I got to travel to Japan for three months, which was a pivotal experience in my life. We were supposed to meet up and travel together, but it didn’t happen. That’s a long story for another day.

He returned to the United States and attended California State University, Sacramento, earning a double degree in international business administration and Japanese, then worked for Nippon Television in Los Angeles as a television field producer and ultimately founded Imperative Pictures in Hollywood.

His 2018 film I May Regret was selected for the San Diego International Film Festival and won the Grand Prix at the Vienna Independent Film Festival.

We’ll be chatting about his journey into filmmaking, day-to-day life as a creator, and his amazing body of work. So, stay tuned!

Sunday Spotlight – Artist and Teacher Audrey Markowitz

D. I could talk all day about your teaching and how wonderful you are at motivating and supporting those around you. That is my experience with you, Audrey. But this is my opportunity to dig into what motivates you. What gets your creative juices flowing? 

A. Whether I’m putting a new class together as an art teacher, or working on an art piece for myself, I’m motivated by different things. As a teacher, it’s the desire to get my students excited about a new project, a new technique, a new medium, new tools, etc. that motivates me. Knowing that people are growing as artists and becoming more confident in their ability is what drives me to create classes.

I start with a project that interests me and one in which I feel there will be lots of learning opportunities. I create the piece of art that I will teach probably 6 or 7 or more times in different ways in order to find the one I think will be a real “WOW” for the students as well as which one will present the best learning opportunities. I also want to pinpoint specific areas that will perhaps be more difficult to learn so that I can begin to think about how I will teach them. This entire process so far is what gets my juices flowing and excites me. Now I have to create the class and the detailed and structured lesson plan my students deserve!

When creating art for myself there are a number of different things that get my creative juices flowing. The main thing that keeps me motivated is that I LOVE what I do and that’s probably the most important thing of all. Other things that excite me are ideas from my journal that I want to try out. Keeping a journal of things I see, hear, learn, and want to pursue is an invaluable tool. Learning and trying new things is also a huge motivator for me. So, I take lots of classes. And no matter the topic of the class, I find it usually helps me refine a skill, take a new approach, reinvent a technique, and just fall in love all over again with what I do.

I have a very close friend who is an accomplished silk painter and when we’re together we bounce new ideas off each other and support each other.  If I’m stuck or she’s stuck, we try to ‘unstick” each other. We definitely find ways to get each other’s juices flowing! It usually involves a LOT of laughter. Laughter is a HUGE part of my life.  And so is music. I find it both inspirational and motivating. So, you can rest assured there’s music on when I’m working in my studio.

Taking a long walk is also a huge help if my creative juices need some stirring up. I’ve learned that sometimes I just need to get out of my chair and do something different that I enjoy.  And I’m always amazed at how many “Eureka!” moments happen during some sort of relaxation activity that gives me pleasure. 

D. Zentangle inspired art is what I’m most familiar with in your body of work. And we will talk more about that style in a bit. But you incorporate so much more into your pieces. Have you always pursued art? Did you start out on another career path? If so, what made you change? How were you able to focus your life on art and what types of events crafted your unique style? 

A. I have been creating “stuff” and making “messes” since I was five years old, using whatever materials I could find! I do the same thing today, but now it’s called Mixed Media Art. LOL! I am inspired by playing with color and layering and fascinated by texture. I always have been!  However, none of my formal education focused on the visual arts. I have a BA degree in Communication Arts and Science and an MA in Human Resources Management and Development.

I needed to earn a living and support myself and felt that creating art wouldn’t allow me to do that, so I focused on a career in Human Resources.  And what a wonderful and exciting career I had. I zeroed in on the training and development aspect of human resources and did a lot of motivational speaking, as well. Eventually I started my own training and development business. I did a lot of team building for organizations, management development, and taught teachers how to teach. Throughout my professional career, I used my spare time to create art (collages, jewelry, greeting cards, etc.); after all, this was my passion. And I sold my art at juried craft shows. I also took lots of art classes. I promised myself that when I retired, I would transition into a full-time artist

D. Who and/or what were your biggest influences?

A. A wonderful and talented artist in New York, who I took classes from on a regular basis, was a huge influence on me. She encouraged my mixed media work and I learned so much from her. In fact, she was the one who encouraged me to become a Certified Zentangle Teacher. She felt that as an artist, I would love to incorporate Zentangle into my work. And she knew how much I loved teaching.

D. What made you decide to bring the joy of art to others? 

A. As a breast cancer patient, the positive effects that Zentangle had for me as I experienced the anxiety, tough decision making, sleeplessness, etc. associated with this disease, was a strong force in my wanting to share it with others. I learned firsthand what a meditative and calming process Zentangle could be. I found it particularly helpful when I went for my radiation treatments. I would sit in the waiting room and “tangle” like crazy in my journal so by the time they called me in for my “dose” I was truly relaxed. I remember years later I had a student in one of my Zentangle classes who had been in that waiting room with me (her husband was receiving radiation) and at the time she wondered what the heck that red headed woman was so enthusiastically doing in her notebook! She learned that it was me tangling. At any rate I, both the artist and cancer patient, wanted to bring this magical and beautiful art form to others. Whether my students chose to use it as a meditative tool too or simply to create art and find joy would be up to them. But as a cancer survivor I truly felt compelled to share it with everyone who was interested. I am a big believer in “paying it forward.” So, as an artist I have used teaching art as a way of giving back the joy, the serenity, the magic, and the creative inspiration that art continues to give me!

Enjoy this TEDx demonstration of the power of Audrey’s motivational speaking.

D. Now let’s peace out and get a little more Zen.

There are so many benefits to learning and engaging in the art of Zentangle. And I for one really appreciate that you were there to pass them on to me. The meditative aspect, portability, minimal supplies needed, and ability for anyone to produce a piece of art after one lesson are just a few. What are the most important aspects of Zentangle for you from the perspectives of a practitioner and a teacher?

A. As a practitioner, I love that Zentangle can be incorporated into practically any other art form!! Whether it’s pottery, quilting, painting with any medium, jewelry, etc. As an artist, I find this very exciting; being able to have this tool in your kit no matter what your discipline. As a teacher, I love that Zentangle allows everyone to be successful and tap into their creativity. Additionally, it’s an art form where folks are encouraged not to be self-critical or judgmental, but rather to enjoy the process.  

D. I remember my first class so well. Zentangle 101. We were in the fabulous old Brewery Art Center’s ballroom. The class was full, and you had a margarita bar set up. I was hooked before we even got started. But when the night was over, and I had several tiny pieces of art I could call my own that I could hardly fathom were created by my own hand, I was a believer in the method.

Zentangle 101, September 2015

More classes at the BAC

You have been teaching folks like me for a long time, adapting to Zoom like a pro during the Pandemic, and constantly producing exciting projects for your students. I will miss those sessions now that you’re moving on to your next artistic stage, but so grateful for the wealth of memories and skills you instilled in me, and I’m thrilled you can spend your hard-earned time pursuing your passion. 

Tell us what’s next for you. What projects do you have in the works, or are you just going to let the creativity flow? 

A. I am returning to the mixed media aspect of my art. I miss that. And I am looking forward to letting the “creativity flow” without the schedule and discipline associated with teaching. Here’s a photo of a mixed media piece I’m working on now. It’s a combination of collage and acrylic paints).

D. Thanks so much for that glimpse into your studio and a sunny piece of beautiful art! Let me take the opportunity to share more art you have generously provided for our chat.

D. On this note, one of the things I love to discover about creators is what kind of space they utilize for inspiration. Are there any secrets you would like to pass on about creating the perfect studio, environment, or mood? Do you have a special time of day or a process in addition to a place that helps you be your most creative?

A. Okay, not really a secret :-), but for me two important things one should make sure they have is good lighting and storage space. Even if your funds are limited… Just google “creating storage space in my art studio” and you’ll find tons of very creative, inexpensive, and wonderful ideas for storing your supplies. You want to be able to find things when you need them and have a workspace that you can clear up when starting a new project. Insofar as lighting is concerned, watch for sales at the craft stores (on-line too) for Ott Lites.  An Ott Lite provides a precise balance of contrast and brightness that allows you to see details clearly and colors accurately. Other light sources can create harsh glares, distortions, and eye fatigue. An Ott Lite is like having natural daylight indoors! 

Most importantly, make your studio space your own! I like to be surrounded by things that are important to me, which is why I have a cozy spot on the floor for Sophie, my fur baby!! Also visible in my studio are mementos, photos, artwork, quotations, etc. that inspire me or hold a special meaning. In terms of time of day, process, place when I am most creative, I don’t have specific ones. If I have a deadline for something, well, that obviously helps! :-).My MO is to go into my studio every day to do something… and if the creative juices just aren’t flowing I go and do something completely different. I’ve learned not to angst over it. Rather, I will make the most of whatever else I decide to do… whether it’s: take a walk, physical activity, read a book, cook, whatever. And I will enjoy what I’ve chosen to do! 

I’ve discovered that making sure you put joy into your life is important to me as an artist. 

D. Where can our readers follow your progress? Any upcoming art shows or plans to that effect?

A. I’m just getting started and have plans to turn my current Zentangle blog into one that will showcase my art as well as any shows, etc. I plan to exhibit a couple of my pieces at the next judged show being held on January 1 at the Nevada Artists Association in Carson City.

D. Thank you so much for visiting with me, Audrey! Do you have any parting advice for our readers who want to pursue their creative passions, art, or Zentangle?

A. Just do it!  Jump in!  It’s easy to find distractions and reasons not to pursue your passions. Taking action will help you get started. Making that first brushstroke will help you begin to paint away and remove those blocks that are getting in the way. 

The most important thing: LOVE what you do! And remember what Rumi said,

“Inside you is an artist you don’t know about.”

So, go discover her or him!

All artwork by Audrey Markowitz. If you share, please give credit to the artist.

Below are examples of Audrey’s traditional Zentangle tiles, using the Zentangle method of creating corner dots on a square tile and connecting them into a frame or border divided by “strings” that you can fill in with repeated tangles (doodles).

The Zentangle® method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at: www.zentangle.com

Writers, are you doodlers when you need to get those thoughts flowing?

This month’s guest spotlight will focus on the creative process and the mindful art of doodling (otherwise known as the Zentangle method), which was passed on to me by my friend and artist, Audrey Markowitz.

Audrey, a great teacher and unflagging motivator, will be joining me on Sunday, December 18. Stop by and find out how easy it is to put down a bit of ink on paper in a mindful way that helps get those creative juices flowing. In fact, Audrey will be talking about how she accomplished that in her everyday life.

I thought I’d gather and share a few of my past creations inspired by Audrey during so many amazing classes over the years. Zentangle is super easy to learn, perfect for creating a piece of art with few supplies, just a few lessons, and in a short time… all while being immensely satisfying and relaxing. There are no mistakes! If you can doodle, you can Zentangle. If your hand leads your pen in a direction you didn’t expect, all the better! Mostly, you can use it to unclutter the mind, and restart that imagination.

If you Zentangle or do other arts or crafts to relax and unclutter the brain, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Happy creating!

Can’t have a complete art journal without adding a spread about my teacher.

Updates on Guest Spotlights!

September’s are up, October’s scheduled! Visit my homepage for details.

Guest Spotlight with Adventure Lifestyle Photographer Joey MacLennan

Joey is one of the chillest people I know – And his photos blow me away…

I was thrilled to catch him on a break from climbing mountains to get this interview, so I could learn more about the artist side of the guy who’s marrying my niece next year. Here’s our conversation.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Which means your photographs already say so much about you, Joey. It also means that this is a great opportunity to learn more. Can you first share a bit about how you came to love photography and your background?

I grew up in Northern California in a family that loved to get outdoors. Whether it was fishing, camping, or just barbecuing, we spent a lot of our time outside with others. This instilled a love for nature and being able to share that space with the people in my life. Photography was something my grandfather was a natural at, but it came to me before I even knew he had a passion for it when he was a young adult. I didn’t really start to shoot consistently and develop my own style until I was a sophomore in college. From there it inspired me to pursue more remote places. Documenting and sharing my experiences with my friends and family then became my routine. 

D – I for one appreciate that you share such amazing things with us through your lens, and how special is that to discover your grandfather enjoyed the same thing.

Obviously, you have a love for the adventurous life and the outdoors. But besides that, what inspired you to make it your preferred genre?

I realized that every time I’d reach the city limit, breathing  in the fresh mountain air and finding a sense of solitude, I would feel a sense of good energy rush over me. Simply put, at this stage in my life, I got happier when I could escape the chaos within the city. 

Engaging in the kind of epic art you do, it must be hard to focus on the business end of things. I know for me, I could hide away and write all day long. But it doesn’t pay the bills. What are the top three tips you can share to help creators balance their passion in art with other aspects of life?

Honestly, I’m still not very good at selling myself regarding my art. However, I have always worked hard with various jobs I’ve held to allow me to continue doing what makes me happy. I’d say it should be a big priority to take the time to reflect on why you do the things you do. Spend time creating the space to really think about the why. Once you can find a strong reason, it is easier to make the choices that set you up for success.

It has been a lot of fun watching you and Ana taking all those steps and finding your niche while you’re young.

The kind of photographs you take require being in the right place at the right time. What are your tips and preferred techniques for getting those great shots? 

Do what others are not willing to do. It’s not my phrase, but it’s something I’ve seen ring true more times than not. More specifically, if you put yourself in good positions to get those perfect conditions by hiking through the night or waking up before the sun, you’ll be provided with more opportunities to get a great photo.

D – I love that you have a passion for film cameras. Can you tell us about your favorite equipment? How much do you haul around trying to get those shots? Does Leo help out? Sorry, but I had to get a mention in for your awesome German Shepherd, whom I’ve known since he was a pup.

I’ve always focused more on the action of taking the photos and not on the gear I use to get there. That being said I use a Leica M6 primarily for 35mm film and a Pentax 67 for 120mm film (medium format film). Leo doesn’t help much, it’s a surprise I don’t charge him rent at this point haha.

You’re originally from California, and explored the beauty of that state and the surrounding ones extensively with your camera. What compelled you to make your home in the Pacific Northwest? Are there other parts of the country… or the world you’d like to explore?

 I needed a change from where I was living. My fiancé(Ana) and I were living in Sacramento California, but we were constantly traveling north to Oregon and Washington. We both decided it would be fun to simply pick up and move. Not a whole lot more thought went into it at that time. Just a spontaneous choice that left us very happy. 

As far as other parts of the world, I’d love to see as much as I can in my life. Scotland and Ireland are higher on the list because of mine and Ana’s family history there. 

D. I’ve experienced that kind of spontaneous move myself, and often it’s the best kind. Still, I’ve never been to Washington State, and that’s another reason I enjoy your photos. But I will come for a visit and a tour one of these days haha. I sincerely hope you get to travel abroad with my niece someday… And though I’ve said it in person, congratulations on your upcoming marriage!

What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?

Attempting to climb Mt. Tahoma (Rainier) and learning a lot about the mental toughness it takes to document the experience while being fairly uncomfortable. 

D – I love that. Can you share a little more about what you took away from the experience?

Yeah, it was one of those experiences that shows you how much you don’t know, the more you know haha. Basically being physically fit is only a small percentage of climbs like Rainier. The rest is about maintaining a positive outlook when setting up camp in the snow, the sun is going down, and your beginning to get weary of how cold you’ve gotten. Thankfully I have amazing friends with more experience and who were able to show me little tricks to make life smoother out there. 

What are you most excited about in the next year?

I plan to race my first Ultra marathon this year, along with a few others soon after. I’ve developed a love for all forms of movement in the mountains. Running and climbing are simply amazing, and they’ve taken over my life haha. 

D – It shows in your photographs. Wow! All the best in those endeavors.

Where do you want to be as a photographer in five years?

I’ve come to learn that I’m happy just having a camera around and not taking it too seriously. I decided not to worry whether or not I make a living with photography, but rather just to enjoy it for what it is. A passion.

D – I am truly happy that you get to follow your passion freely. Again, it shows in your work. 

Do you offer your art commercially? If so, where can we find it?

I have a print shop where I occasionally add new photos too. I’d like to open a new selection this year and use the funds to donate for ALS research. My lifelong friend’s mother has bulbar ALS and has been showing immense strength in her fight against it. That shop will be available through my website at joeymaclennanphoto.com

D – That is another wonderful reason to follow Joey and watch for those photos. Where can we find you besides your website

Instagram is basically my only other online presence. That is @joeymaclennan 

Any parting advice to those who dream about pursuing a creative and/or an adventurous life?

Get outside, care about the environment, and don’t be afraid to fail in pursuit of things that make you feel alive. 

D – Great advice! Thank so much for dropping by, Joey.

Thanks for talking with me!

Click on any photo to link to Joey’s website and don’t forget to follow him on Instagram for those inspiring posts!

Guest Spotlight this Sunday

Joey MacLennan, Adventure Photographer

Joey came off a mammoth peak to chat with me. Come meet him Sunday and get a glimpse into the lifestyle of a lifestyle adventure photographer. See you September 25!

Photo by Joey MacLennan

Guest Spotlight with Horror Fiction Author, E. B. Hunter

A Whole Lot of Fun Chatting with Eric and just in time for Spooky Season!

Eric, your horror writing is thoroughly entertaining as well as inspirational for writers like me exploring the genre. How did you get started and who inspired you?

Well, I never thought I would be a horror writer, if I’m being honest! I got this idea for a man who is working a graveyard shift in a crummy gas station, and what would happen if he saw a chance to get out. That is where it all started, and it snowballed from there. I haven’t read a ton of horror, but I’ve seen nearly all the horror movies that have ever been made. I’ve also gone to the hardcore haunted houses, and do things like that, so I think I write from experiences of what makes me scared!

D.L. I love the idea of inspiration from haunted houses! And subjecting yourself to scary experiences to write about them. I must know. What’s the difference between hardcore haunted events and the average Halloween neighborhood fete?

Well, I would have to say your blood pressure for starters! There is something about walking down tight, poorly lit corridors and not knowing if the things around you are actors or props… it can be really terrifying! It is generally geared for an 18+ crowd, so things can get pretty tense!

I’m excited about my preordered copy of Haunt coming out September 30, another great anthology from Dragon Soul Press, and even better, one of your stories will be part of it. Can you give us a sneak peek and tell us about the indie press and what they do?

My short story is called, ‘Graveyard Shift’ and is told in the first person by a man named Alex. He is down on his luck and a stranger comes in to offer him the world. He unwittingly makes a deal and then things get a bit tricky for dear ol’ Alex. I also have 2 others, ‘Everglades’ and ‘As you Wish…’, being released by Dragon Soul Press in their upcoming Anthology ‘Beautiful Darkness: Volume 1’ this October! They have been AMAZING to work with. They are incredibly professional, and I am hoping I can work with them for a long time!

D. L. Congratulations, Eric! After your recommendation, I looked at all the anthologies Dragon Soul Press has in the works. So many great options for submission. Our readers can check them out here. You can also click on the photos of Eric’s books to link to the preorders on Amazon!

I enjoyed the stories on your blog so much. Where else can we find your work, and what are your works in progress and plans for them?

I keep all of my stories on my site (totally free) and then have the stories being released September 30 and October 30 with Dragon Soul Press. I have about a million projects in the works! There is my main WIP called ‘Into the Grey’ that is about a secret society of mages that protects near future England from demon invasion from a parallel world ruled by a dark king. I also have a horror novel in the works called Wetlands that is a coming-of-age story about a boy in a small town who befriends a swamp creature to stop the new company in town from polluting the local area. Think Stand by Me meets Swamp Thing

D. L. Those sound amazing, and it’s clear how much you’re enjoying spinning the tales. Can’t wait to read them. You can find Eric’s stories here.

What are some of your favorite characters in your stories, and why?

I really feel for Alex in Graveyard Shift. I think he is like me in a lot of ways, so it is hard to not like him a little! 

I also love my characters in my novels. Ronnie from Into the Grey is a total ham, and really fun to write. They all hold special homes in my heart. I guess my heart is more or less a hotel whose tenants feature in all of my stories. They are all a tiny part of me (even the bad ones) so it’s hard to choose any one over the others!

D. L. Thanks for that revelation, which I think a lot of writers can relate to. Do you have a character brooding in that hotel that has yet to find a story?

I do actually! He’s just checked in though, so I don’t know much about him other than that he is without magic in a magic filled world. He’s shunned to outside the magical dome that protects the city from harmful spores in the air and joins the other outcasts to plan a way back into the city. I’m looking forward to this one, as it’s been on the back burner for some time!

D. L. Okay. Now I am, too. You’ll have to keep me posted!

One of the things I love asking writers is how they organize their writing life in harmony with family and other work. Do you have any favorite stories or tips you like to offer burgeoning writers?

Oh boy. My biggest and most often piece of advice is really simple. 

“Don’t give up. Don’t stop writing.”

A break is alright, and there are always going to be times when you simply can’t write, but more or less, that is my advice to others. It might feel hard, it might be total poo on the page, but don’t stop. Write short stories. if you need a break from your main project. They’re a lot less strain on the cranium than a 100,000+ word novel, I can tell you that for sure!

I like to write between 9 and 10:30 (later if I’m on a roll) every Tuesday and Thursday and then any other day I get the chance. I know! It seems like a minuscule amount of time, but I’ve managed to write about 200,000 words in the last year by doing this, so it works well! I don’t spend a lot of time staring at a blank screen either. When you only have 3-4 hours set aside for writing each week, you make them count!

D. L. Great advice. And that is so helpful to know how much can get done on a schedule like that. Thanks!

When I first discovered you, it was through a Twitter post you shared about one of Richie Billing’s classes. He’s the man behind the Fantasy Writer’s Tool Shed podcast. It’s amazing how that one post of yours introduced me to so many fellow writers on Richie’s Discord group, and you are a key facilitator. Now, of course, I have a much better understanding of the robust writing community on social media and all the generous writers and creators who share. How did you get involved with it, and why do you think online writing communities are beneficial?

Much the same as you, actually! I was looking for a fantasy writing podcast and came across Richie’s. I joined his community and then the rest is history! I really felt alone before the chat and joining the writing community. I appreciate everything my family does to help support me as a writer, but they don’t always have the patience to deal with my writing. I’m sure most writers can relate. The look in the eyes from family and friends when you ask, “but why did you like it?” Like a deer in the headlights with flashbacks of standing in front of the class to give book reports! So, it is really nice to have peers.

D. L. The headlights analogy is hilarious and so true! And just put things in perspective for me. I was giving my family work to do, not just seeking an opinion.

Along those same lines, are there writing/book communities available locally in Alberta, Canada? If not, do you think there should be, or is online involvement where it’s at these days? 

There certainly is. We have a writer’s guild in Alberta even! It is the biggest in Canada from what I’ve seen. 

That being said, I think that online is where it’s at. If not for online, I would be talking to my Captain America poster. Asking if he thinks I should make my chapters shorter or if the villain is villainy enough. He would tell me that my antagonist is no Red Skull. There’d be an argument…

Anyway, I’m happy for all my online writing buddies!

D. L. LOL! Now I’m going to be looking for that scene in one of your stories!

This is a great opportunity to talk about the Fantasy Sci Fi Writers Alliance. What a great idea you had and it’s growing fast. Tell us what it’s about and the benefits of joining.

WELL! I can’t take credit for the idea. Anna Moss (The Worthy out now) is the person who first talked about it with me. She had mentioned forming one and I was game. Then, when people were discussing how difficult social media is and the struggles of being an author on Richie’s chat, I pitched the idea, and it blew up. 

The Fantasy & Sci-Fi Writers Alliance is a group (150 and going strong) of writers who help to support each other on social media to boost reach with readers and meet fellow writers. That may be an oversimplification, but that is more or less the bones of it! So, if you want to join and do Instagram Trains, Twitter Writer Lifts, Book Clubs and (soon) Writing Sprints then check out the form on my website and join us! The more the merrier. 

D. L. Here’s the link! And… Our readers can meet Anna here next month!

Sometimes I find it hard to make time for sharing and promoting online when there are so many places available to participate. Do you have any tips for sorting through the noise and making your time count, so you don’t cut into writing time?

If I had the key for this. Boy, oh boy. 

Finding balance is probably the hardest thing about writing. Not only do you have to write, but you need to market as well. A task that holds little to no guarantees. You can work at it for ages and get nowhere, and then do a small video and get a thousand views. A lot of the time there is no rhyme or reason to any of it, and the target seems to move constantly. 

What I DO know for sure, is that doing all those things is a lot easier when you have a band…no, a group…wait. An alliance, to help you with it. That is more or less the core of starting the alliance. You can ask, ‘how the heck do I format this thing for kindle?’ or ‘is this thing on Insta legit?’ and not have to spend a hundred hours wondering/worrying/working on a solution. 

D. L. Great advice. Thank you!

What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?

Getting Graveyard Shift published! That said, finishing my first draft for Into the Grey was pretty incredible as well. 

Where do you want to be as a writer in five years?

Ideally? Hanging out with Neil Gaiman. More realistically though, I would like to be totally finished with Into the Grey, as well as have a dozen more short story publications under my belt. I would like to have an agent and to be finding a home for my work. 

D. L. Great goals! And maybe we can get Richie to invite Mr. Gaiman to a chat on his podcast. Hmmm…

Any parting advice to those who dream about writing?

Don’t stop. Never stop writing. It may be ‘poo on the page’ to start, but one day you will make something amazing. I would also say that you should watch Neil Gaiman’s address to the University of the Arts from 2012, the Brandon Sanderson lectures on Youtube, and read On Writing by Stephen King. These things have helped shape me into the writer I am today. 

D. L. Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Eric. All the best in your endeavors!

Thanks again for having me! This has been such fun!

Click on photos for links to Eric’s anthology books on preorder, his short stories, and more about him on his website.