Best and Worst Things About Being a Writer, and Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew by @Laire_McKinney @XpressoTours @BHCPressBooks #Tuesdaybookblog #bookblitz #newrelease #fantasy #destinyfulfilled #womensfiction #romance #faeries #druids #writingadvice

Destiny Fulfilled
Laire McKinney
Publication date: August 7th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Only love can save them…

Wren O’Hara is waiting for the day she succumbs to mental illness like her mother. When she is attacked by a psychotic client at work, and saved by what must be an angel, she fears the time for insanity has come.

Little does she know, her savior is an immortal warrior druid named Riagan Tenman, and that he will challenge everything she ever thought she knew about reality.

Now Wren must decide if the fantasy unfolding before her is true, or if she has finally lost her mind.

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Guest Post by Laire McKinney:

Best and Worst Things About Being a Writer, and Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew

The best things about being a writer are seeing my name in print, fulfilling a childhood fantasy, and letting my mind run wild, knowing it will only make a story better.

The worst things about being a writer are the slow pace of publishing, the uncertainty of any outcome, and the at-times debilitating self-doubt.

Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew:

1. Your first attempt at a novel will not likely be the one. (There are always exceptions, but I know several authors who did not snag the publishing contract until book #2…or #3…or #4…). As for me, I was offered a contract on the second full-length novel I wrote, but that was already two years into the writing experience. One year was spent writing the novel that will never been seen. The second year was writing the one that got published. It is not a quick-turnaround business so reevaluate if that’s what you seek.

2. Community matters. I am as introverted and socially-awkward as they come, but I do venture out to writers’ groups and conferences, and am active on online forums. Having a peer group is essential to survival. I use them to bounce off plot ideas, to beta read, to cheer me on when I’ve been given good news, to cheer me up when I’ve been given bad news.

3. And there is a lot of bad news, so thicken that skin. Rejections. Rejections. Rejections. Then if you do land the contract and sail your way (via tumultuous seas) to the published novel, then there are the reviews—hopefully good, sometimes bad, occasionally downright mean. Then, if you’re one of the few, you’ll sell a lot of copies and make a lot of money. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, and this can vary month to month. Sometimes you might very well find yourself at the bottom and that sucks but it’s reality.

4. Do not be competitive with your peers. My writer friends have been some of the most supportive and encouraging and non-competitive people I could hope to know. A perfect example: I was at a workshop and the speaker wanted those in attendance to create a story together. Her disclaimer: do not worry that someone will steal the idea you’ve thrown out. Even if they started with that idea, their story will be vastly different from yours. Not to say there isn’t plagiarism and piracy, but among the writers you choose to call friends, be supportive and encouraging. You’ll appreciate that when it’s reflected back to you.

5. Be fearless. There is something to be said for writing for the masses. Agents and publishers know what’s trending, what has sold in the past, what is expected to sale in the future. But there is always the break-out novel that’s just different. In a cookie-cutter world, be a free-styling carver and you’ll land on your mark. (I hope that last statement makes sense!)

6. Enjoy the writing. I know from personal experience if I get bogged down in the business of writing (which you must learn), then I lose the creativity. It’s a balance. You can’t have one without the other, and if you no longer find you enjoy it, take a step back and write something for your pleasure only. There is a chance it might very well be your best yet.

7. You will have to spend money marketing, even if you have a publishing contract with a big agency. You need a website, social media, head shot, etc. It helps to join one or more organizations. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America (an excellent place to begin), as well as Women’s Fiction Writers. If you write YA, there is Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

8. If you want to write a genre but are embarrassed or afraid of how it’ll impact your day job or your image, use a pen name. It’s all good, but it’s best to decide that before you get published. If you want to write erotica, it’ll be hard to turn around and write YA under the same name. Not impossible, but tricky.

9. Understand there will be times when the words do not flow, the mind will not concentrate, and the writing timeline falls by the wayside. This happens to me all the time. I have three children, a dog, a hubs, a job, and sometimes it’s just not happening. What do I do? I don’t stress about it. It could be a day, a week, sometimes a month. That recharging period will help you come back renewed.

10. Writers are often introverts. I know I am, and I love to live in my head, to watch tv alone. I love to be in my house when it’s as quiet as an early morning in snowy December. But living your life is essential to good writing. We need experiences to draw from, ideas that simmer and stew and eventually become plot…we need to live life so we can retreat and create.

If you’ve already stepped onto the writerly path, what suggestions would you give to a new writer?

Many thanks for hosting me today. Cheers, Laire.

 

Author Bio:

Laire McKinney is the author of contemporary and fantasy women’s fiction. She believes in a hard-earned happily-ever-after, with nothing more satisfying than passionate kisses and sexy love scenes, endearing characters and complex conflict. When not writing, she can be found traipsing among the wildflowers, reading under a willow tree, or gazing at the moon while pondering the meaning of it all. She lives in Virginia with her family and beloved rescue pup, Lila da Bean.

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Interview with artist & writer, @sophilestweets! @18thWall @DWMtweets @DrWhoOnline @WhovianLeap @bbcdoctorwho #DoctorWho #DoctorWhoIsLife #DrWhoArt #DoctorWhoFanart #DoctorWhoMagazine #Tuesdaybookblog

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In today’s edition of Time And Relative Developments In Stories, I sit down with the very talented artist and writer, Sophie Iles, whose work has appeared in kOZMIC Press’ Children of Time: the Companions of , The Time Travel Nexus and multiple charity works.

Welcome!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

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The British Part! I grew up in Slough in the United Kingdom, a name those may recognise as the town the Original UK series of The Office was based. I have also lived in Bristol (The location of St. Luke’s University in the more recent Series 10, and where I believe in Big Finish, Alex, Susan’s son lives in The Earthly Child) and quite a few other locations including Cardiff, Aylesbury Milton Keynes and Chesham.

I’m currently back in Bristol and enjoying this artistic and creative part of the UK.

Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

formackenzie_2I became a fan of Doctor Who very late. I was 19 when I discovered Doctor Who for what it was. Doctor Who was something in the UK you grow up with, even during its wilderness years. You all know about the Daleks, you all know your parents hid behind the sofa. But in 2005 that became less nostalgia and more prominent to a child’s intake of sci-fi. It just wasn’t something you could easily ignore.  Personally, I somehow succeeded in doing into my late teens.

I had been a fan of everything and anything I could get my hands on as a child–Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings to name a few. But I didn’t think I was geeky enough for Doctor Who. Boy, was I wrong.

By the time I was at university, I was lovingly nicknamed K-9 by a friend, and curiosity got the better of me. By the end of that year I became a fan just in time to watch David Tennant regenerate, my first episode being The Waters of Mars, and I’ve not looked back since…

Question 3) Who is your Doctor?

PeterCapaldi

I always find this a tough question because there isn’t a Doctor I dislike. I love them all for their own qualities and what they bring to the role.

I think the moment they announced Peter Capaldi, however, I was completely hooked. I loved the idea of Peter playing him. I was reminded of William Hartnell, who seemed cranky and abrasive at first but was soothed by his supportive companions. I hoped this would be the case for his character too, if they went down that route. By the time Peter’s three years were up I didn’t want him to leave.

He had been there for me through four house moves, a family death, and multiple life issues. When I met him in London to sign my Series 9 DVD I able to tell him how important his Doctor meant to me.

He just smiled gratefully and said “Isn’t that what television’s for?”

I will never forget that, and I will always see him as my Doctor because of it.

Question 4) Congratulations on recently being featured in the Doctor Who Magazine! It is unfortunate I cannot get the magazine where I live. How did that opportunity for you come about?

formackenzie_5Honestly, It was as much as a surprise to me as anyone! I have been actively drawing scenes and characters from the recent Classic Doctor WhoTwitch, at least one drawing a night. A few weeks ago, I was asked if one of my pieces could be used on the Doctor WhoTV to blog about the wonderful reactions to the Twitch shows. You can find the link here!

I didn’t expect that however to extend to the Magazine itself. I didn’t know if this was due to someone emailing in regards the piece, or if it was the editor’s choice to illustration the Galaxy Forum page. Either way I was beaming from ear to ear when I found out!

Question 5) You have drawn a number of Doctor Who pieces. What has been your favorite and why?

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It’s a difficult question, mostly because every recent piece is my favourite. It’s often for different reasons. Sometimes I prefer the original drawing over the finished piece, sometimes it’s the colouring.

I think, just because of the sheer scale, my most recent piece is my favourite.  It’s all of the Doctors together. It took considerable time and effort to produce to a high standard (I mean, 14 figures fully drawn isn’t the easiest thing in the world) but it was worth every second.

I also think my London 1965 piece might be my second favourite. I had been trying to simplify my designs for a long while, and it was then I really caught that essence when I drew Ian and Barbara against the brick wall. Luckily in both cases lots of people seem to agree!

Question 6) I always find it intriguing to learn about an artist’s technique. Can you share a bit about what goes into drawing a piece like this? Time frame? Skill? Software used?

In terms of what I draw, some of my favourite artists/designers/creators are listed below. I highly recommend all of these people as inspirations.:

  • Quentin Blake
  • Hergé
  • Ronnie Del Carmen
  • Vera Brosgol
  • Bill Watterson
  • Pete Docter
  • Pascal Campion
  • Nick Sharratt
  • Glen Keane

When it comes to process: both of these pictures were created the same way. There’s a rough I draw. In the case of Ian and Barbara, I drew them in my sketchbook at work, looking at old pictures of the show. Most of my main issues with drawing is posing and gesture and making sure that’s clear. I’m always learning and practicing and understanding so my sketchbooks are incredibly rough. Once that’s done I take a photo and put it into Adobe Photoshop when I get to my computer at home. I’m also fortunate enough to have a Cintiq. This is like a tablet, except is actually a separate screen I can draw straight onto. This way I ink and tidy up my sketches in black, before then using layers to colour behind. I usually colour drop straight from pictures I’m referencing, or if there are some colourisations. Then, adding shadow, lighting (and if necessary a background).

For the Ian and Barbara picture, I didn’t really want to add all the detail of a brick wall, so I decided to use a texture layer and implied it instead, which I think for the style works quite well.

I can draw straight into the computer, but I really like drawing in my sketchbook too as it feels like a more organic process.

Question 7) I understand you are also a writer. When did you start writing?

I have always wanted to be a writer. I actually wrote this statement on a primary school worksheet I had found a few weeks ago, which made me beam with pride. I think it started with my nan. She was a wonderful storyteller who would tell me Greek myths and legends from a very early age, and I would read all of her strange books regarding fables and legends. I’ve always been drawn to storytelling, whether through illustration or writing.

I didn’t really get into writing until I entered my last year of university. I wanted to find a way to make sure my story worked for my animation courses short film module and a friend suggested I join their Drama Society’s creative writing group. I wrote short plays for the university, which were performed. Though it was a slow start from there, I never stopped coming up with ideas for dramas. I just wasn’t very good at completing them.

It was being part of 18th Wall Productions that gave me the courage to start submitting to their short story submissions and getting involved in writing. I love to get involved in creating stories and believable characters, and I love the idea that I get to– as a writer– share emotions and worlds with someone else. Wherever that’s a world we think we already know, or a new one.

Currently I’m working on quite a few writing projects, submissions and some of my first original works, so I can finally truly consider myself a writer.

Question 8) You have written articles about Doctor Who for 18thWall Productions and The Time Travel Nexus. Can you elaborate on what these are and why you chose the subjects you wrote about?

Just under three years ago, I was sort of thrust upon, without knowing at the time, the founders and CEO of 18thWall Productions. It was just a casual chat about Doctor Whoand other interests, but they clearly saw something in me that I hadn’t seen in myself.  One of the highlights of last year was being able to meet a lot of those related to 18thWall at LI Who 5, which was almost just as exciting as being in America itself.

The-Racoonteur-Roundtable-Logo-1600X1600Professionally, I was a guest on one of their discussion sections on their podcast The Raconteur Roundtable, which was an amazing experience as it also meant I was able to ask Big Finish’s Scott Handcock questions as part of their team, a link to which you can find here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/raconteurroundtable/2017/06/28/rr-13–the-bard-on-gallifrey–scott-handcock-big-finish-productions

It then led to for a small time helping run their blog, talking with their writers and editing their posts. It was around then they asked that if I had something I wanted to write about they would happily like to know what and see if it would work for them. I offered watching the Classic Doctor Who Series and talking about it as a series of articles, with some fresh perspective as someone who didn’t know the Classic Series very well. They loved the idea.

At the end of last year, The Time Travel Nexus also contacted me and asked if I wanted to write something for Peter Capaldi’s send off, something which I was happy to do and to draw something for it. I don’t think I would be where I am now, writing and drawing so publicly, without their constant support and guidance.

Question 9) What inspired you to create the short story for kOZMIC Press’ Children of Time: The Companions of Doctor Who?

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I’ve always wanted to write something for Doctor Who in a way that wasn’t just a review. A few of my friends had mentioned to me that there was someone looking for writers for this charity anthology. Even though all of my favourite companions were already taken, I decided to apply to see if Rigsy was a possibility. Rigsy was the first male companion who’d really felt like part of an adventure since Danny Pink, and even then, I didn’t count Danny as a companion. Rigsy was also the companion to the companion, as Clara played the Doctor’s role in that episode, proving she could handle the adventures on her own without her alien friend. I always felt that more could be done with Rigsy, and I always wanted to know what happened to him. This was my chance to write something!

At first I was just a placeholder, as they were hoping to get someone else involved in Rigsy’s creation, but I was ecstatic when they asked if I was still interested. I had a month to write something, but as the condition was positivity about the character I just wanted to share ideas on the Rigsy we never got to know. We knew he was engaged and had a daughter, so I decided to look at it from her perspective– a look at someone who loved him dearly. So, with the idea of wanting to commemorate the life of Rigsy and his life’s work, something the Doctor suggested would be great, I had her write the foreword to a book about his life as a famous graffiti artist.

I also offered to draw some illustrations for the book, including illustrating my own. I was very proud of the drawings I gave them. I am particularly fond of an illustration of the Brigadier and his daughter Kate and his grandson Gordon Lethbridge Stewart on a polaroid. It fits the writing (by Hilary Hertzoff) that went with it very well.

Also, the charity it supported was Furkids, Georgia’s Largest Animal Rescue and No-Kill Shelter which I was glad to be supporting. You can find a link to this book here!

Question 10) Do you have an excerpt from any of your writing you’d like to share?

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This is from an upcoming release with 18th Wall Productions, in an original anthology from the story “A Single Wolf, Grey and Gaunt.”

He couldn’t really be a ghost, Timmy thought. His form seemed solid, unwavering against the waves as the tide tried to come in. Lancelot didn’t quite seem real. as though you could easily step through him if you looked at him in a different light. Perhaps it was because it was dark. Timmy wasn’t sure.

That hadn’t however stopped him from rushing forward with the stick in his jaws, head held high before placing it at Timmy’s feet.

“You want to go again, huh?”

The dog heeled, his head held high. Not a sound left from him. Timmy laughed, this large boyish sound bubbling from his chest.

It surprised him. When was the last time he’d laughed?

Question 11) You’re currently putting together a Doctor Who fanzine. Can you tell my readers more about this project and how they may be able to participate?

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Well, due to the success of Twitch, and the love discovered for Ian and Barbara, I had an idea. I couldn’t help thinking how lovely it would be to share some art and stories about these two much loved companions for everyone to see in a printed format. I put out some feelers to see if anyone was interested in supporting this and it sort of exploded on social media, so I decided to make it official.

So anyone out there reading this who wants to contribute, yes, I’m looking at you! If you love Ian and Barbara and want to share stories or illustrate about what happens to them in their lives, why don’t you submit?

I’m looking for stories and artwork within three major stages of their lives: Life before the TARDIS, the times during their adventures, and then after they get to London 1965. I’m looking for small stories about their lives, or full scale adventures. As for the art, I’m looking for some art to highlight these moments in their lives. Also, it doesn’t have to be shippy, if you see them just as friends that’s more than alright, this is about the characters, not their romance!

We will be donating the funds made to Breast Cancer Now, the UK’s largest breast cancer research charity. The donations will be given in loving memory of Jacqueline Hill, who would have been 89 this year in December.

It’s all very exciting really. I’m looking for submissions from August 15th to close in October 1st.

All of the details you could possibly need can be found here:

Question 12) What can we expect from you in the future?  

I have a few plans in the future. When Twitch is over I intend to try and draw as much from the New Series as possible, including the spin offs and any of the Big Finish dramas, as there’s really so much to explore. As well as that there are also other aspects of the Doctor Who extended universe to look into, particularly the works of the  wonderful Obverse books, and then delving into Faction Paradox.

One of the exciting projects I can talk about is I’m helping with the cover art, art indents and a short story for a Sarah Jane charity anthology. The official announcement is coming soon!

There’s some other really exciting writing projects I can’t talk about just yet that’s coming up that I want to pitch for / currently writing and drawing for. I’ve been talking to some cool people about some artwork for some more charity anthologies on the way. Lastly there’s two big Doctor Who conventions that I’ll be attending before the end of the year where I will be selling my artwork here in the UK. And I will be continuing to do this throughout the next year.

In other words, watch this space!

Question 13) How can others find out more about you and your work?

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I’m on most social media sites these days. Trying to be active on all pages is difficult but I’m mostly found on Twitter with the handle: @sophilestweets

I am also available on my website www.sophieiles.co.ukFacebookInstagram and Twitch on occasion!

Thank you again, Sophie! Fans, please make sure to check out her social media, art and books! And if you’d like to be part of Time And Relative Developments In Stories, follow the instructions below!

How You Can Participate!

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Interview with @ReviewinWho! @bigblueboxpcast @comicstitan @bigfinish @DoctorWho_BBCA @bbcdoctorwho @Emily_Rosina @DWMtweets #DoctorWho #doctorwhoislife #Tuesdaybookblog

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Next up is the marvelous Luke East, from Reviewing Who. Today he’s here to discuss reviewing various items from Doctor Who, podcasts, Big Finish Productions, etc.

Welcome!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

9497e7_78c9903e325f41669fd303dca13e149e~mv2I’m originally from the UK, but am currently residing in New Zealand, where I’ve lived for the last decade.

Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

I’m not sure I can remember a time in my life without Doctor Who, but it would’ve been around 2005 when I saw my first bit of Doctor Who. I distinctly remember the scene where the Ninth Doctor and Rose are looking down on the Earth and the Sun from space, which can only be one of two scenes, either the one in ‘The End of the World’, or the one in ‘The Long Game’ on Satellite 5, before being sent up to bed.

I recently picked up some of the Tenth Doctor and Martha hardcover books, seeing their spines lined up on the shelf takes me right back to a memory of being in Tesco in 2006 where I picked out my first Doctor Who book, a Tenth Doctor and Rose hardcover.

Question 3) Who is your Doctor?

This is a tricky one. I think every Doctor is great. Dependent on what mood I’m in some days my favourite can be Sylvester McCoy, the next day it might be Matt Smith, or if I’ve been listening to Big Finish it might be Paul McGann, so I don’t really have a specific incarnation that I consider to be “my Doctor”. Primarily, most of my growing up was done watching the Tenth Doctor, but I really enjoy the Twelfth Doctor especially in Series 10, I’d have liked to have seen another series with Twelfth Doctor and Bill. Hopefully Big Finish will pick them up in the future.

Question 4) What got you started reviewing for Doctor Who?

13687187_284485048578469_191788596_aI’d been a long-time podcast enthusiast, listening to ‘The Doctor Who Podcast’ until it was brought to an end in 2015. It has only been in the last year or so that I’ve found some other Who-related podcasts that I enjoy, shout-outs to ‘The Big Blue Box Podcast’ and ‘New To Who’. I guess it was the influence of these podcasts that got me thinking ‘I could do this’, and so I gave it a try, albeit as articles rather than audios. It’s great fun.

Question 5) Does the studio and/or publisher(s) send you material automatically or do you get to pick and choose what you review?

I get certain things sent through to review and I’m extremely grateful to those publishers and merchandisers who do send me stuff before it’s released in stores. But there are a number of other things that I track down myself for review.

Question 6) What was the first Doctor Who thing you reviewed and who was it for?

514U-iPubRLThe first thing I reviewed on the ‘Reviewing Who’ site was the ‘Tales of Terror’ short story collection. My local library had a copy and I read it over the course of a month or so and then wrote the review, which is perhaps the shortest review on the site, but as I’ve become a more natural reviewer, I’ve found it easier to write more and more.

Question 7) What has been your favorite item to review and why?

I’ve loved getting to review the Titan Comics releases. I’d never actually had the opportunity to pick one up prior to my creating ‘Reviewing Who’, as they’re few and far between here in NZ, so it’s been a great joy to get them in my inbox on a fairly regular basis. I’m really enjoying the Twelfth and Seventh Doctor ranges at the moment.

Question 8) Is there something you would like to review that you haven’t yet?

61o4rs5rdLL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_I’d love to be sent Big Finish stuff, so that I can review more Big Finish, especially the Jago and Litefoot releases, I’ve only been able to review the first series so far. But something I’ve not been able to review at all that I’d love to review would be the Robert Harrop figurines, they’re so beautiful. The same goes for the Doctor Who Figurine Collection magazines.

 

Question 9) Would you consider reviewing something that isn’t official Doctor Who material, but is related (i.e. a novel inspired by Doctor Who)?

Of course! I’ve recently been reviewing some of the Lethbridge-Stewart books and they’re brilliant. I can say the same for Torchwood, Class, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and any of the Reeltime Pictures releases, none of them are technically Doctor Who, but they’re still part of the Whoniverse.

Question 10) I understand you also have a website, which features interviews with important members of the fandom. What was the most interesting thing you learned?

fileYes, I recently expanded ‘Reviewing Who’ to include feature articles, as well as a feature called ‘Interviewing Who’. It’s been fantastic getting to connect with these truly inspirational people, who started out writing articles as fans, and have since been snapped up by DWM, not to mention they all have really interesting lives outside of Doctor Who. The most interesting thing I’ve learned came from DWM’s Editorial Assistant, Emily Cook, who has established to charitable organisations called Khushi Feet and Khushi Hands, which help women and children in India. It’s such an amazing story of someone of a similar age to myself noticing a void and setting up a charity to fill that void. Something I’ve noticed from a number of these interviews, is that quite a few of us Who fans do a lot of charitable work. For instance: I volunteer to raise funds for a  number of charities here in NZ, and Emily has, as I’ve just mentioned, set up two charities, there are plenty more of us out there doing philanthropic work too.

Question 11) What do you think it is that inspires so many Whovians to get involved in charitable work?

I think it must have something to do with the strong morality shown in Doctor Who. The Doctor effectively shows us that we should help where we can to improve the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. I’m sure there are many other contributing factors also, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that fans of a show that places such a strong emphasis on human rights, ethics, and morality, end up involved with charities.

Question 12) Other than ‘Reviewing Who’ and your volunteering, do you have any other hobbies?

Indeed, I do. At the moment I’m directing a show called ‘Blue Box Messiah’ for the local theatre I’m Vice President of here in NZ, it’s a comedy about life, religion, and being a Doctor Who fan. Outside of Doctor Who I’m also pretty politically active, and am currently petitioning the New Zealand House of Representatives to amend legislation so that people with life-long medical conditions that will only degenerate don’t have to reapply for their benefit payments every 3 months. There are a few other bits and pieces I get up to, as well as those I’ve mentioned, so it keeps things pretty interesting.

Question 13) What have you enjoyed the most since establishing ‘Reviewing Who’?

I’ve really enjoyed connecting with other fans from all around the world, primarily via Twitter. We have a great community of fans out there, but it would be remiss of me if I didn’t also not the small minority of fans who make fandom unsafe for others, by spreading abuse and vitriol. We should be united by our love of Doctor Who, rather than engaging in in abuse and mudslinging against one another. So while I’m heartened by the majority of fans who spread good vibes, I’ve been deeply disappointed by that other small minority who spread negativity.

Question 14) If you were asked to write an article for the Doctor Who magazine, what topic would you like to cover?

Di0_ZRZXgAU7yPiMy favourite DWM features have always been Galaxy Forum and the interviews, so I’d quite like to do something in that realm. But readers of ‘Reviewing Who’ will also notice that some of my recent features have looked at Doctor Who on VHS, and also how Doctor Who toys have powered the imagination of at least one whole generation of fans, so I’d quite happily write a feature like those too. I think DWM is a brilliant British institution, it’s been bringing fans together since its launch in the Tom Baker era, and right now it’s got a great team of writers working on it, so it’d be amazing to be asked to write for them.

Question 15) How does it feel to be on the other side of the microphone whereas I’m asking the questions instead of you?

I confess, it is a slightly different experience, I am usually the one doing the interviewing but this has been good fun.

Question 16) Where can others find out more about you and your reviews?

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They can find ‘Reviewing Who’ on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Wix, which is also where they will be able to find various links to the ‘Reviewing Who’ website.

Thank you again, Luke! Fans, please make sure to check out his website, and stay tuned next week when I sit down with the very talented artist and writer, Sophie Iles, whose work has appeared in kOZMIC Press’ Children of Time: the Companions of , The Time Travel Nexus and multiple charity works.

 

How You Can Participate!

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Mackenzie Flohr Joins The New York Journal of Books #tuesdaybookblog

DKQIJ2hUQAAc9IJ.jpg-largeDelighted to announce I am now part of the New York Journal of Books, a VERY highly regarded review source (like Publisher’s Weekly!) Reviewer Panel.

This panel includes bestselling and award-winning authors, journalists, experienced publishing executives, tenured academics, as well as highly experienced professionals across a number of disciplines and industries.

What does that mean? Well, that means you’ll start seeing me review both traditional and award-winning books exclusively in the Fantasy and SciFi genres on their website with a link to the review here!

https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/reviewer/mackenzie-flohr

 

Author Interview: William Schlichter #Tuesdaybookblog #scifi #horror #authorinterview @BHCPressbooks

Today I’m fortunate to present William Schlichter author of Sci-fi and horror.

Hi, William, thanks for agreeing to this interview!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

William_Schlichter_BHC_WebI’m from Missouri. I’m originally from an hour south of St Louis, and now I call Springfield home.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

Strong character driven stories, quick moving, and short chapters or breaks.

They need to bring forth an emotion in me. I want to care about what happens to the characters. I must care about the characters.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

Star Wars.  I was three and a half years old and my parents took me to see Star Wars at the drive-in. It’s my earliest full memory and I knew after watching this spectacle I didn’t want to be Han Solo or a Jedi I wanted to create those kinds of stories.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I teach high school and college so during the school year I write when I can.  I write in my creative writing class when the students write in class. But I have a daily goal of a 1000 new words.

In the summer, I get up and write as close to a 1000 words as I can then swim a mile, go to the gym and finish my thousand words.  Now, if the Muse flows I’ll keep going and I will drain the well. I finish a story idea; if I don’t it plagues me. Demanding to be written down.  I will edit older works after my 1000 words. I read. Riding the bike at the gym is a great time to read and since I travel I listen to a lot of audiobooks. 

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

The story flows throw me much like a movie and I paint a picture on the page like a movie.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

400_Miles_W_Schlicter_C2No Room in Hell: 400 Miles To Graceland –  a post-apocalyptic horror/thriller. Not your typical zombie adventure.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

I didn’t write the first No Room in Hell to enter the mass market with a zombie book because it was a popular bestselling subject. I wrote the story one to cover events no one else covers in all the zombie books I have read or watched and two I wrote the main character as the nameless figure. It was a challenge to write this character. A challenge I gave myself and based on feedback readers liked it or thought it was an interesting approach.  It reaffirms a writer must know the rules before breaking them but when a rule is broken and it works it is rewarding.

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

The opening of SKA due out in 2018:

SKA_William_Schlichter_Web“That’s a lot of money—do you want me to do something for it?”

            Even on my limited salary, a Jackson wasn’t a grand gesture. I’ve bought books costing more. The girl was messed up, and not just for thinking the twenty dollars I handed her was worth her doing something, but she had a hospital ID bracelet and a red medication allergy band on her wrist.

            She asked me to watch her bag while she went and bought cigarettes—one of those plastic clothing bags hospitals give out. She’d be back, then I could take her someplace.

            Despite her haggard appearance, her round face was pretty. Hospitals tend to fatigue people. They want you to rest, but constantly wake you up to check your vitals.

            Returning with a green pack of smokes, she bubbles with excitement. The cheap pint she tried to hide might have helped. The seal already busted. She didn’t notice me observing her slip it in the hospital bag. If I wasn’t convinced she was an addict, I knew now. Curiosity overtook me. Stirring overwhelmed me. The sexual ones were obvious, at least to me, but something deeper wanted me to keep this girl.

 Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?  

Enter_the_Sandmen_W_Schlichter_FC_WebMy next novel is a standalone thriller SKA: Serial Killers Anonymous where a collection of serial Killers form a self-help group in order to curb their urges. They examine their acts and one in the group is not who they pretend to be.

The third book in my sci-fi series The Silver Dragon Chronicles: The fifth Planet will continue to follow the crew’s exploits as they attempt to stop the Sandmen.

And my dark and gritty zombie apocalypse series No room in hell will see book three as well. I have a working title but it might give away the shocking twist at the end of book two.  Just know no one is safe.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? 

The gym, travel and Stephen King’s On Writing.

You can’t write without your health or experience the world, even if you only travel to the adjoining state. Changing your comfort zone makes all the difference, and of the dozens of books about how to write I’ve read or bought, his is the one I quote to my writing students the most.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

http://www.bhcpress.com/Author_William_Schlichter.html

https://twitter.com/wmschlichter

https://www.facebook.com/wmschlichter/

https://www.instagram.com/wschlichter

Book Spotlight: The Vault by Brian Harrison #newrelease #Tuesdaybookblog #Tuesdayteaser #familylife #contemporaryfiction

The Vault

Why would a multibillionaire create a customized vault that is controlled by watch mechanics inside and have a self-destruct mechanism inside to destroy the billion dollars worth of artifacts inside?

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Simple, because he can.

On paper, Sam Montgomery is your typical eccentric philanthropic pharmaceutical billionaire whom has literally mailed five dollars to everyone in the US so they can “pay it forward.” But what people didn’t know when made a rare public appearance was that he was announcing he had leukemia. And more shocking was that when he said, “I’d rather die than give my sister the opportunity to save my life,” no one even knew he had a sister.

Elena Diamante nailed the sit-down interview – at his small home on the tiny island of Antikythera in Greece. She was only planning on getting the scoop about Sam and his apparently estranged sister but she was also going to be the first journalist to see inside Sam’s custom-made vault. It was built using watch mechanics, so it was completely self-sustained, and only opened once a year. It was even rumored that if it were ever tampered with, everything inside would be destroyed in a custom acid.

Come to find out for Elena, there would be one item inside Sam’s vault that could save his life, or end it even quicker, it was just a matter of whether or not the vault would open in time.

The vault explores Sam’s family dynamics and how they inspired him to become the successful man he is. The story is also told using Sam’s own family photos growing up, as well as text messages and Facebook/Twitter. There are even hyperlinks within the novel as “Easter Eggs” for those readers that want to explore even more of Sam’s personal life, further blurring the lines of fact/fiction.

Author Interview: Mary R. Woldering #Tuesdaybookblog

Today I’m fortunate to present Mary R. Woldering author of Children of Stone.

Hi Mary, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

10014489_228282274027119_1981351165_oQuestion 1) What part of the world do you come from?

The United States

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

Strong characters and their interaction with each other

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

I don’t recall. I just wrote a story when I was about 14.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Chaotic and full of distractions, but I manage.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

No idea what you would consider interesting or a quirk. I do a lot of research & Googling.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

Opener of the Sky – Book 3 of the Children of Stone Series.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

That I have very few readers. I think the story is a great one and so do my few readers, but news of the tale is just not spreading.

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Sure! I preceded it with the blurb.

Children of Stone Book 3 – Opener of the Sky

I had grown fierce and hard
Thrilled by death, torture, blood…
the madness of it when I tasted its warm saltiness
A warrior god.

… from the poem Howl by Mary R. Woldering (as told by Raemkai-2012)

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Marai, a former shepherd, who discovered a fallen ‘star’ and was gifted with amazing abilities by the unearthly Children of Stone, has been separated from those he loves.

Turned sojourner, he begins a desperate mission to find them, but the spectre of wickedness and corruption is never far behind and his journey to wisdom becomes even more uncertain.

While Opener Of The Sky, the third book in the Children of Stone series, is the continuing story of Marai’s magical search for his companions, it is also the story of Maatkare Raemkai, a sadistic shape-changing warrior-prince, whose twisted relationships once propelled him into power, then nearly destroyed him.

Through sorcerous manipulation of the women Marai loves, he has planned his own revenge. The sojourner Marai is just in the way.  Will he be too late to save those he loves or will he welcome them in victory?

In this excerpt from Sokor and Khmenu, Ariennu and Naibe attempt an escape from the clutches of their captor Prince Maatkare one day away from the king’s palace. He, being part wolf/dog tracks them, manipulating them into the very temple where he offers sacrifices. He’s intent on teaching them both a lesson.

(Reader’s note. Ariennu is nicknamed MaMa and Naibe is called Baby, but they are not mother and daughter.) 18+

 

Ari stared at Maatkare Raemkai as he chatted, noticing Deka sat next to her prince oblivious to the surroundings. She had done the same thing in Little Kina Ahna when everyone had lived with Marai.  That much of her personality had not changed. For Ari, Maatkare was much more interesting.

So good looking though. He was even fun to drink with last night before it got to be too much; watching him show off for his men. Ariennu mused, a slight smile on her lips. Maybe not the worst idea in the world, except having to share him. And whatever he did to Naibe this afternoon was uncalled for, knocking her out like that.

She paused, tucking in her thoughts, when she saw the prince glance her way as if he had heard every one of them.

The signal to Naibe was a yawn.

Ari leaned to a servant.

“Where is your privy? My friend and I need to…”

The servant glanced at the priest who spoke to the prince.

Maatkare, his eyes glimmering a little in recognition of something, motioned for an older guard to follow them. He raised a forefinger, then lowered it in a quiet but mystical gesture.

Don’t be gone too long, ladies. His thoughts whispered as he pulled Deka a little closer.

The shaded stall with an open half wall provided just enough room for a person to squat. After a moment, Ari rose and gestured to Naibe that it was her turn:

I’m going to cover myself and stand over you. If you just concentrate on getting to the king and not being seen, I think it’ll work.

She wrapped the prismatic illusion around herself like goddess Nut’s mantle, hugging Naibe up into her arms and slipping away past the guard who paced just a few feet away.

As soon as she reached the causeway to the river, she let Naibe down and dropped the illusion. The two women gasped and then caught their breath, shrinking back into the shadow. Once there, they tried to get their bearings.

“Do you think he saw which way we went?” Naibe whispered.

“No, but we have to keep moving down the river. I’m sure the guard has already told…Oh Goddess…fast. The bastard knows already.”

Ari stopped and crouched with Naibe as guards with bobbling torches erupted from the gate to priest’s house.

“Bring him out here. Stupid bastard let them run off.”

Prince Maatkare.

Storming by.

He whirled as two men dragged the guard who had been set over the women out to the wall near the water in the causeway channel.

Naibe and Ariennu crouched lower, wrapping secrecy around themselves.

“Highness. They used sorcery. Gone in a flash.” The guard pleaded, then accepting his fate, whispered: “Have mercy…”

“I do have mercy on you, because you have served me well.” The prince replied. “And I have mercy on your children.”

The shup sound of a blade striking hard into a body was followed by a groan. A shadow drifted over the three figures who supported the fourth, followed by a snapping sound. It meant the man’s neck had been broken in a quick gesture of mercy.

Ari clapped a quick hand over Naibe’s mouth to keep her from squealing aloud in horror.

“Take our unfortunate old friend to the open edge of the water. He has been given a message for Lord Sebek. What you men will know” the hand gesture again, as if he was imprinting the men with a different story, “is that as he was chasing the women, slipped at the muddy bank and the crocodiles got to him before we could. I will write a message to his family of his noble deeds in my service and award them his pension. Be careful of the crocodiles yourselves. They can be keen on those who break the rules or bear tales.” He grew silent as the guard’s body was carried away.

Ari faded herself into the color of the wall. She couldn’t make out everything the prince was doing but it seemed to be additional ritual gestures, followed by the spiritual howl of a wolf-dog. It grew in piercing volume overtaking Ari’s heart and filling her heart with uncustomary terror.

Naibe’s mouth opened in a silent cry.

Maatkare stopped, as if he noticed, and sniffed the air.

For a moment, Ari thought she recognized the flash of shiny fang teeth in an eerie grin but realized it was an image of warning he had conjured up so that he would appear as a beast before her eyes.

I know you are near, ladies. I can smell your scents. Because you decided to run away, you now see a little more of how I am. I will find you before dawn. I hope the chase will leave me feeling less upset by that time. The prince’s thought voice was calm and unruffled, just as it had been when he spoke to the unfortunate guard. He moved back up the causeway, scenting and searching for them.

As soon as Ari saw he was far enough away to appear the same size as a shabti doll, she silently grabbed Naibe and darted around the perimeter of the priest’s home and into the first entrance they could find that didn’t seem to be part of the building complex.

The path became a shrouded tunnel.

Ari saw two sentries at the open gate entryway.

Another temple, maybe? She thought, hurtling by the men with Naibe in tow. The sentries stirred as if they sensed something, stared at each other, then they closed the gate behind the women who were still moving deeper inside the passageways. Ariennu relaxed, her image becoming visible. She waited with Naibe in the dust and dark, while they caught their breath.

“Killed the guard, the bastard did, just to teach us a lesson. He set the whole thing up, because he knew we were up to something. I don’t even think N’ahab would have done that, goddess curse his soul.” Ari spat at the ground, then pulled Naibe to the left branch of the path when they came to a division.

The new hallway was close and torch lit with paintings on the walls. At intervals there were more paths and arched hollows that became other tunnels, but Ari was certain they would find the way out of the other side at any moment.

A right then another right then a left. Um. She paused to stroke the stone in her brow, hoping to clarify any message her Child Stone transmitted.

Where am I supposed to go? Damn. I’m going to get us lost. She froze. City of the Dead, Sokor. A Labyrinth, and I led us both in here.  She turned to Naibe. “Let’s just try to be calm and quiet. They will help us. They just have to.”

“Um, Ari…” Naibe paused, her hand staying the older woman’s hand. “You do know where you are going don’t you?”

“I just know we have to go deeper in. I can still feel his thoughts, Babe. He’s looking around down here…tracking us. He can smell us. If we keep moving in where the burial boxes are, there are enough of them and dust in the twists. I want his nose confused over what he thinks he smells. He can’t stay past dawn. Sooner or later he’ll have to give up on us and keep moving up the river. He’ll have to leave us.  Then we can get out and get down the river to Our Father Menkaure. If he’s going to keep showing me how he is ‘Prince Dangerous’ and killing people over nothing, we’re not safe. I’ll curse my own soul if I ever let some man kill me, whether he was glorious on his couch or not.”

“I didn’t like it, Ari.” Naibe admitted, just above a whisper.

“No? Really? I thought he was one wild hump! That El of his knew how to seek out every single part in my belly and womb like it was made for it. Mmm…Mmm…I wish I didn’t have to get away. I’m getting another itch for it, just thinking about it working me.”

Ari turned every way she could, realizing the underground complex must have been huge. So far she hadn’t found any two passageways that looked alike.

“With me, he put up a wall over his soul instead of becoming open to me. Devils came out of his eyes the more I sent up my loving to him. He just sucked it out and still gave nothing back. It was as if he was broken and couldn’t love me like a normal man. He could give the pleasure twice over to fill in that missing part and I was screaming for it, but then I couldn’t stop thinking of my Marai and how much I missed the real love he had for me…and then I couldn’t breathe. I fainted.”

“No I saw everything he did when you first came in. Read it off your stone when you were crawling around the cabin floor all shocked. Bastard choked you hard enough to end you and then painted night in front of your eyes…said he would drink your heart for saying Marai’s name to him.” Ariennu stopped walking and sat by the wall where five corridors branched out in the dark.

Now which way? She asked herself.

Naibe shuddered as if she wanted to gag in worry.

Ari she tapped the nearly imperceptible rise in the middle of her forehead just at the top of her nose. “Come on little one… some help here. Show me those little balls of light Marai told us about that led him in the dark to your boat of wonders so long ago, if this is still real…”

“It’s alright MaMa.” Naibe petted Ari’s shoulder.

“Still my fault we’re having to run like this. We should be at the palace soaking in asses milk, not having to get away from someone who’s no better than a slave master.” She saw the small lightened area in one of the corridors. “There. That way. I see those lights, I think. We have to go.” Ari got to her feet and pulled Naibe up.

After a series of twists and turns and more walking, the elder woman slowed, realizing the lights might have been an illusion born of her own fatigue.

 

Push on if you must

Or stay

Or go this way

 

A voice exploded just under her brow. It was louder than the usual whisper-like singing to which she had become accustomed.

“Finally! Ouch, damn. Naibe, watch your step, there’s something back here. I thought it was a wall but there’s something out in front.” She murmured, then felt the lid of a low stone box with some carved object on top.

A Stone box. It’s like my dream when I saw Marai lying dead in that black box somewhere. She felt for the edge for a moment but realized the box in her dream had been plain and slick to the touch. This one was smooth but not as finely polished

“I can feel a draft coming over the top so maybe it’s in front of a hall that leads us out of here the back way.” Ari couldn’t see much in the dark until she paused and became calm enough for her eyes to switch into a kind of night vision.

In the back, a niche containing a platform for offerings. Something furred, broken and wet with gore lay in the dish. Her hands leapt up away from whatever it was as if they had been lightning struck. Atop the lid was a carved image. She felt the shape: Animal. Legs, haunches, muzzle and upright ears of Wepwawet as Guide of the Dead.

She gasped, realizing the irony of the place she had entered with the younger woman. The prince’s words from late last night rang in her ears.

 

I’m the Lord of the Dead by the Blood of Aset…the Lord of the Dead

 

She remembered the revelry of the party, and the way a very drunk Maatkare cried out his howling lament about his ill-fated marriage to the king’s daughter. Women always tryna put a collar on me.

That was the moment she knew she had to get him away from the king’s private area and onto his boat.

Well damn me she thought.

Ari suddenly realized the prince was here on more than business. This was a centering and safe place for the disciples of Wepwawet who presented as a wolf/dog.

He must be from the wolf school with all his skill with a bow, the howling, the…Oh goddess…shape shifting that’s so fast no bones bend or skin stretches…he just is. I led us both to his safe space…He came here to cleanse himself? Our dinner host was his witness while we were cleaning up?

Ariennu sensed something wasn’t right in the tonality of the Children’s voices. Sounds like a man imitating…like…She tensed, all the hair on her arm rising as she heard the great wolf/dog’s panting approach to the opening of the chapel.

The sound of his clawed feet tip-tapped on the hardened earth floor of the path. The panting merged into an evil titter; breathing in the dark; a faint growl that grew stronger and more threatening.

 

Push on if you must

Or stay

Or go this way

Either way leads to pain

You see, I know what they sound like,

Your little friends

These voices in your crystal eye.

 

The black furred hand/paw touched her arm just before it faded into illusion.

“MaMa!” Naibe cried, panting. “He’s finding us. Hide!” Naibe ran around the stone box. This time she grabbed Ari and hid in her cloaking arms. The women clung to each other, wide-eyed and silent. Before the shroud of silence covered them, Ari saw the silhouette of a black wolf/dog thin like smoke. In its place, Ari thought she saw a gold armlet flashing in the slight available light of a distant torch.

Oh. He’s here? She hardened her resolve, crouching and ready to fight.

In the distance, the women heard a faint scampering snapping, growling, yodel-howling, circling and finding the way.

They’re coming Ari. Dogs…He has power over dogs. He’s sending dogs. Naibe grabbed Ariennu harder, as if it would help her gain more invisibility.

I know Baby, I know…the elder woman listened silently for a long time as the sounds circled, grew louder and finally paused outside the room where they had become the most confused.

Footsteps.

Maatkare stood in the doorway, golden wrist and arm bands glimmering in ambient torchlight.

“I know what you tried to do.” He began to pace, trying to seem thoughtful “Maybe I would have done the same thing too if I had been in your situation. But now you’ve caused a good man to die, because you outwitted him with your little trick.”

The sound of dogs growling grew louder.  His thought voice growled too, half human half dog as if he had become one of them.

Easy brothers…he started, then spoke aloud “Perhaps I should let them come at you. They are my trick, Red Sister. See if you like it.” Maatkare’s dark hand swept the air in front of him. Ari sensed an almost-whisper.

Suddenly, black ravenous shadows emptied past him around his torso and over his shoulders; into the chamber pouncing, snarling and biting. Ariennu felt herself knocked back hard by the weight of several animals standing around and towering over her. She shrieked angrily, struggling against their bodies.

“Call them off! Damn you!” she swung, kicked and shoved, but accomplished nothing.

 

“You’re afraid…tsk, tsk…fearless Lady Ariennu…worried by some puppies.”

 

“Am not…get them off me…”

 

“About to soil yourself, you naughty ka’t” he chortled, toeing the threshold and gesturing. “Just a very small sample of what I can do, if you come to annoy me.”

Puppies?  Ari froze, her eyes clearing a little.

The clawing and biting beasts had become gregarious, yipping puppies. They frolicked happily about her prone body then left, heading past the prince and out the doorway as they vanished.

It had been a magnificent illusion.

 

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?  

The last 2 books in the series Book 4 “Heart of the Lotus” and Book 5 “The Lake of Memory” plus some spin-offs in other time periods including a Steampunk Crime novella “Miss Hattie and the Hoppers” and an autobiography of sorts. There are other plans in other times and places.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? 

Createspace covers. They are very professional looking.

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Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-R.-Woldering/e/B00OND7QMU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Website:  Palace intrigue, murder, madness, confusion, bizarre twists and plot turns…dangerous hookups, evil geniuses, punk sorcerers, traitors…

https://www.maryrwoldering.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChildrenofStone

Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ChildrenofStoneNovels?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

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