Author Interviews now in a Playlist from the Fantasy Writer’s Toolshed Podcast . Here’s the latest. Thanks, Richie!
The first blog is up. Check it out.
Click on the first pic for The Fantasy Sci Fi Writers Alliance’s very first blog post by author Isa Ottoni, How Finding a Writing Community Changed My Life. The second photo will introduce you to Isa and preview our interview coming up in January. The third photo will take you to the Alliance’s home page created by the talented and industrious E. B. Hunter.
The best part is you can sign up and become a member to enjoy amazing support among a diverse group of writers.
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.
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.
So much of my focus and efforts go into creating my characters (aka my Pod People) and bringing them to life through the written word, that I lose sight of the fact that once they are out there, they might live in the world of mankind forever… or as long as mankind exists, and the digital content or printed copies stay intact and available… But I, as their creator, don’t even have the potential to last too many more decades, maybe not even too many more years… weeks, or days…? I’m at that age after all.
It makes me wonder if that is why I create them.
What do you think about that? Do you write stories so that a piece of yourself will always exist, so long as there are humans out there who might read them? I know we write for many reasons, but I think I will have to admit this is one of mine.
When I think about that idea more, it makes me realize my Pod People have the upper hand. I mistakingly believed it was me who had the power over them, but it’s the other way around. That’s okay, so long as they do their job and stick in the minds of my readers.
And they have their work cut out for them…
You won’t want to miss this awesome conversation! Join me Sunday when I post my next guest Spotlight Q&A with Dark Fantasy Author and Editor, Anna K. Moss.
Click on Cover to find it on Amazon, and free on Kindle Unlimited
This 1,650-word story is a journal entry in Book One, Ursus Borealis, in The Starlight Chronicles series. I found it rather fun to write a story …An End at Barfleur – A Short Story
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.
I love to share resources with the writing community. So, I’ve created a page. Check it out when you have a chance and let me know what you think. I will be adding to it as I go along.
Here is an update on what’s been happening with this amazing community of writers put together by Fraser at Feed My Reads. Thank you Fraser!
Before the month is out- I wanted to say again what a pleasure it was to join this community. And to participate in an author interview. – D. L. Lewellyn
A little introduction: Hi, I’m so glad to meet you all. My pen name is D. L. Lewellyn, but you can call me Darci. I started writing fiction in my 50s…D.L. Lewellyn Author interview
An encouraging snippet on Author Fairs. 💜💜💜
Douglas W. T. Smith is the self-published author of Shadow of the Wicked, which ranked on Amazon’s Top 5 List in Dark Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery eBooks in 2021. Hailing from Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia, he is one of the CORE authors for Of Metal and Magic Publishing with a debut core novel To Wield the Stars due in 2022.
Between writing and reading fantasy stories, Douglas embarks on adventures in nature with his wife, son, and beloved dog.
We had an awesome Q&A session, and I’m sharing it with you here. Keep on reading…
- Tell us about yourself. We would love to hear how you became a fiction writer and your life that led up to it.
It’s kind of a strange story. I had always dabbled in creative writing and reading books, but it wasn’t until a friend showed me Lord of the Rings. At the time I was at university, and I was studying something that I wasn’t enjoying, so after watching LotR I fell in love with the lore and Middle-Earth. After devouring the movies, I had an epiphany. I wanted to write an epic story like J.R.R. Tolkien. So, I started writing my first book. I wrote the first 100 pages and showed it to my friend. There were many inconsistencies, and it heavily mimicked The Hobbit. I was a bit devastated but then I began looking at online writing courses to improve my writing and discovered that I could change my university degree to Creative Writing and English Literature. Since then, I haven’t looked back. Writing stories is a part of my life and it will be something I want to pass on to my children.
Thanks so much for sharing that. What a great way to look at your writing career, as a legacy.
- Can you share more about your Works in Progress? What are your plans for a full-fledged novel? Or do you prefer a shorter format? Are there any other plans you’d like to share? Any more stories for Jaromir and Talmage?
Shadow of the Wicked’s audiobook has taken up a bit of my time and I’m so happy to release that on all audiobook platforms. Outside of SotW, I’m currently in the last edits of my debut novel, To Wield the Stars. It will be published this year by OMAM Publishing in a shared universe. I’m pretty excited with that because I’ve been working on it for quite a while.
With Shadow of the Wicked, I wanted to write in the short form because I wanted to test my writing ability and see if I could write a story and keep it within the short form.
I have started the first draft for a novel in the same world–The Three Kingdoms. I have plans to write more stories for Jaromir and Talmage but I’m not sure what stories they have to tell. Maybe something as a ‘before event’ to follow their life story.
Congratulations on the audiobook release and I can’t wait to check out To Wield the Stars. What an intriguing title! Can you give us a little description/teaser?
Thank you. I’m happy with the title but I’m more excited about releasing the book cover, which you’ll have to wait and see when I do the release.
Here is the elevator pitch for TWTS.
Two sisters are separated across continents from an attack of a dragonlord and its army.
- What drew you to sword and sorcery and dark fantasy writing? Do you write or want to write in other genres?
I have always loved fantasy. I played fantasy games and read a lot of fantasy. It only seemed natural to start writing fantasy stories. As I began writing, I discovered the sub-genres of fantasy and sword and sorcery felt natural to write.
- Are you a full-time author? If not, how do you balance writing and other work?
I would love to be a full-time author but unfortunately, I’m not. I make time for writing. I get up early at 5am and write–or do writerly things–and I’m up late. I don’t sleep much but I try to work around my family and lifestyle outside writing.
- With a little one around the house, what are your tips for finding time to write while sharing life with a young family?
Create time. If you want it, make time to write. There’s a quote from Stephen King.
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”
It is all about time management. If you want to write stories, write them–even if no one will read them. There’s a lot of times during the day you can sneak in a quick writing/ editing session.
- What’s your advice or thoughts about getting involved in writing communities and reaching readers through supporting other writers?
I think writing communities are essential to make it as an author. Whether it be online or physical, the interaction and motivation from these communities are invaluable. It can open opportunities, grow your reader audience, and boost your author profile like this interview!
These opportunities can be a lot of fun, too, and I’m thrilled to have you here today.
- What is the writing community like in Australia and New South Wales, in particular? Do you get to participate in local events? Is Australia your primary market, or are you reaching other markets?
In my local area, it’s a hard community to crack. The demographics are a lot different from the city. However, in Sydney the events are fantastic, and the community is a lot stronger, but I did find more success and community engagement from my online platforms.
- What’s your advice about focusing on the best social media platforms, sorting through all the noise, to make what you do count?
I think the bare minimum for an author is to have a website. If you turn that into a blog–even better. My best advice for handling social media is do it within your means. If you can only commit to 1 or 2 social accounts that’s okay. At the end of the day, we can only do what we have time for and what we prioritize. If you have edits to do to finish your novel and your time schedule is tight, prioritize what you want first. During your marketing plan, I think it’s absolutely necessary to be present on social media–whether that’s one or two accounts–if you want to sell books.
- Do you recommend Patreon for burgeoning writers? What are your top tips for starting one up? Same question for creating a website, newsletter, or YouTube channel. Any plans to expand?
I have a Patreon account and to be honest it’s okay, but it comes back to my previous answer–if you have the time to commit then by all means. With my experience, I think Patreon will be successful later on as I build more of a reader audience and have more time to offer exclusive deals but for now, I give free stories, merchandise and editing opportunities on my Patreon Tiers. (So, if you want to sign up, there’s some great options!)
I’ve recently signed up to Story Origin and I think that’s another essential for authors. It’s a platform to do newsletter swaps to grow your mailing list. I think it’s fantastic and all authors should have a mailing list.
Awesome advice and great suggestions. Thank you. It helps to hear from someone who has navigated so many of the choices we’re faced with.
If you want to get exclusive stories and content, or know when Douglas’ next book will come out, visit his patreon.com/douglaswtsmith and sign up. See below for more ways to follow Douglas.
- What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?
My biggest highlight of last year was publishing Shadow of the Wicked. To finally self-publish a book and call myself an author.
That is a great accomplishment. What was the main thing that prompted you to self-publish?
Thank you. The main thing that prompted me to self-publish was building my mailing list. I wanted to give out short stories as a reader magnet but as I began writing the story of Talmage and Jaromir, the narrative took control, and it became a lot bigger than I expected. I grew more in love with the world I was creating and the characters that I felt that Shadow of the Wicked needed to be published as a novella.
- Where do you want to be as a writer in five years?
I want to be a full-time writer. I want to publish a minimum 1 book a year.
Awesome! Follow Douglas in the links below to stay on top of his upcoming works!
- Any parting advice to those who dream about writing?
Find time to write. Get up 10-15mins early to write or on your lunch break. All those small increments of writing, sand grains, create a beach. It takes time so make the time. It’s a marathon not a sprint––unless it’s a writing sprint.
Great recommendations! And that makes me think of another question. I’ve been discovering just this summer the value of flash fiction and short story challenges. Tell us about your favorite writing challenges. Will you be hosting any like the writing sprints you mentioned?
I used to do short story challenges. For example, each month the Australian Writers’ Centre does a short story challenge, Furious Fiction. It was great to get the creative juices flowing if they were going stale and stagnant. I haven’t done one in a long time because I’ve had a full schedule but if I ever fall behind in my book ideas, or writing–I know where to go.
I’ve spoken to the head of the FSF Writer’s Alliance about hosting a writing sprint but I’m waiting to hear back from him. I love writing sprints. I did a couple on Twitter and TikTok, but I want to do it on Instagram as a live stream.
When I did the sprint, I wanted the participants to do something writing related. I know it’s called a writing sprint but if you weren’t drafting a story, I wanted writer’s to at least edit their book or have it related to their current project––without the distractions and with a community.
For a fun video Interview, check out the conversation with Douglas and our friend from the U.K., dark fantasy author Anna K. Moss.
You can discover more about Anna and her exciting new book here. Anna and I will be having our own conversation in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned!
More about my featured Spotlights
I hope you enjoyed meeting Douglas and getting a glimpse into the life of an Indie Author for some fun and inspiration in your own creative journey. I will be featuring more of my fellow Writers’ Alliance members, other authors, artists, and creators right here, so please like this post and follow me to keep on top of the latest. Feel free to leave comments.
My next guest will be a writer of horror fiction from Canada, E. B. Hunter. If you would like to be featured, shoot me an email. I would love to meet you. Please visit my pages for more about me and my books while you’re here. Thank you so much for dropping in.
Stay tuned – Interview will be posted 14 Aug 2022!
Join me here on Sunday for a fun and inspiring Q&A with Indie Swords & Sorcery Fantasy author from Down Under, Douglas W. T. Smith.
I plan to feature more of my writer and creator friends here on a regular basis. We’re all going through the myriad of stages to improve our writing, market our books and grow our reading community. This will be a place to glean tips and inspiration through it all.