Tag Archives: Guest Spotlight

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 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

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.

Guest Spotlight with Dark Fantasy Author Lucky E. Noma

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?

Being alive. 

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.”

Thank you. 

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!

Updates on Guest Spotlights!

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

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.