Author Interview with @BenjamHope! #gothic #steampunk #Victorian #alchemy

Today I’m excited to present Benjamin Hope, author of The Procurement of Souls. As a fan of alchemy, the premise of his novel intrigued me, and after reading the first chapter, it’s definitely on my to-be-read list!

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

I’m from Hertfordshire, just north of London, in the UK.

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

Good stories immerse the reader in their world. In order to do this most effectively, I think narratives need to have strongly imagined characters through which the reader can understand and experience this world. By strongly imagined, I mean characters who develop and grow through the arc of the story; who are fallible in one way or another; and who have a strong sense of purpose, a goal to achieve (and even better if this shifts or changes along the way!), and problems to overcome. In this way, characters not only allow the reader to connect more personally to the story but also drive the pace forward and craft the shape of the plot.

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

I’ve always been inspired to write, even as a very young boy. Although, my first attempt at a full-length novel came when I was about 18 – it was a disaster! I was trying to write with somebody else’s voice; to emulate an author rather than allowing my own natural style develop. It wasn’t until later on, after I truly felt that I had found my voice that I came up with a seed of an idea for The Procurement of Souls. It kept on resurfacing, like an itch that wouldn’t be scratched until I finally put fingers to the keyboard and started getting it down. I can’t say what the inspiration was exactly, only that I have always loved history and fantasy-sci-fi and I suppose those loves combined into an initial idea kept growing until I had the bones of my first novel!

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

Well, I have a full-time job and an 8-month-old baby, so more recently I’ve been fitting it in as and when I can – lunchtimes, weekends, evenings, etc. I’ve also been on shared parental leave in Berlin for the last couple of months (with my wife’s work) and I’ve been very fortunate to have my mother-in-law with us too, which has enabled me to get cracking with my sequel in between changing nappies!

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

It’s not so much a quirk as an interesting circumstance, but my wife is an opera singer and so travels a lot with her profession. This means that I’m quite often a mobile writer! The Procurement of Souls was written in London, Madrid, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin! In fact, I finished my first draft of PoS in a smoky café in Vienna – I felt like Hemmingway!

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

My debut, The Procurement of Souls, had its official launch on 1stJuly. It’s a Victorian-gothic-steampunk crossover about the exploits of two opposing bio-alchemists.

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

The fact that finishing a complete first draft of a novel is only the beginning of the journey! When you get there, it’s an amazing feeling and one that every writer should be proud of, but then comes the re-writes, the overhauls, the re-jigs, the additions, the exclusions, the copy-editing etc. As an indie author, you are reliant on a huge amount of self-discipline and of course it’s exceptionally hard to be objective with your work – you quickly become ‘snow-blind’ to the words on the page – both in terms of content and technical accuracy and without access to, or the means to employ, a professional editor, the ability to ensure all aspects of the narrative is a good as it can be, is a real challenge. I am a self-confessed perfectionist and to ensure that The Procurement of Soulsreflected the very best of me, I turned to a number of people I knew who could objectify my work, provide that much needed brutally honest feedback and eliminate any technical errors too. 

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

Procurement of Souls Benjamin Hope Cover Art slim.jpgI think it’s best to start at the beginning, so here’s chapter 1!

*CONTAINS EXPLETIVES*

The whites of two wide eyes were all that could be seen in the splinter of light that passed through the crack in the swollen doorjamb. Dr Weimer observed in silence the blind panic that radiated from them as they darted one way and then another, desperately trying to place themselves. The fear was pungent. Smells like he’s soiled himself, he thought with distastebefore throwing open the door and illuminating the room with such a contrasting brightness that the man in the chair audibly gasped.

‘Mr Wade,’ Dr Weimer began as he stepped inside, ‘you must forgive the enforced and abrupt manner in which we make one another’s acquaintance. I dare say that having a bag thrust upon one’s head unexpectedly is most unpleasant and disconcerting.’ His tone was saccharine; sugared with false sincerity. ‘But unfortunately, you hold in your possession something I require. Something important. Something personal.’ He smiled at him, his fat lips parting obtusely and revealing a row of white but stubby teeth, spread with almost uniform gapping in a blood-red gum, before pushing his circular glass frames further up the bridge of his nose with deliberate precision. ‘Nevertheless, this is the situation we find ourselves in.’ He moved a little closer towards him and noticed with curiosity and self-acknowledged satisfaction how the man visibly shrank at his advance.

Wade felt his throat constrict at this sudden and disturbing entrance. Panic took a slightly firmer grip and he tried pressing with all his strength against the back of the chair, to no avail.

His mind clutched at words to try to rescue himself from the situation. ‘Alright, alright, I’ll do whatever you want. Just untie me and I’ll promise to –’ but he felt his voice catch, his mouth dry to gravel. He simply couldn’t seem to keep his sense of dread in check. He’d been in precarious situations before but this whole scenario seemed different. The moment he’d been taken and heard the purr of that woman’s accented voice in his ear, it was clear this was out of the ordinary. This man too; the smell of the place – acrid and chemical – was all wrong. He cursed inwardly for not keeping his cool. It was normally him doing the intimidating, yet his pulse continued to spiral higher as sweat pooled at the nape of his neck and thoughts of what this could be about flickered across his mind’s-eye like a flip-book. ‘Listen,’ he implored, ‘listen. I don’t know what it is you think I have but if you untie me, I promise to help you. I have connections. You just need to untie me first and –’

He was cut off with a single word. ‘No,’ the man said, savouring the roundness of the vowel before continuing. ‘That won’t be possible, I’m afraid. After I explain our situation further, I happen to know you’ll be rather less obliging of my needs. Untying you would be entirely counter-productive.’

Wade snorted a number of times in quick succession. Why him? Why now? It had occurred to him that this could be some vengeful intimidation strategy being exacted upon him by some enemy or other. God knows there were plenty of those. Somebody he’d cheated maybe? Perhaps a harbour-master from one of the dock sites he’d failed a run for? But although a good number of possibilities came to mind, not one seemed to fit this particular glove and looking up at this piggy-eyed psychopath in his pristine white apron, illicit goods and aggrieved dockers appeared to be the least of his worries. No, this was something different and strange: it sickened him to the gut. And as he looked wildly around for some hope of an escape, he thought he began to connect a number of the dots.

A surgeon’s operating table stood in the middle of the room with a tray of instruments waiting next to it. Beside that, a tangle of transparent tubes articulated with rubber joints led to a brass-coloured sphere the size of a carriage with a dozen or so pistons sticking out at a diagonal on either side. Bile rose in his throat.

‘What is this? What are you – a doctor? A surgeon? What do you want from me?’ Anxiety had forced his larynx so far up that the words barely squeaked out. He pulled upwards desperately with his wrists to try and loosen his manacles. ‘I… I really have nothing… nothing worth taking.’

‘That you know of, Mr Wade, that you know of. We all have something worth giving. You need to calm down or you’ll cut your hands to shreds. It’s surgical wire, not yarn; I don’t want you bleeding out.’

‘But… but what could you possibly need me for? I’ve told you, I have nothing to my name, I’m just a… a… nobody.’ He frothed at the mouth a little.

The doctor’s eyes narrowed tightly to slits. ‘That’s precisely why you’re here. You’ve no family either from what I’m told?’

‘Wha-what? No! I don’t – I – fuck! Please! Don’t cut me open! Don’t take my organs, I –’

‘Mr Wade, nobody is going to cut anybody open. What possible use could I have with your organs? I’m not some vulgar anatomist looking to advance his expertise. We shan’t be on the table today. What I want is much more valuable than that.’ He walked abruptly behind his chair and unlocked the wheels. ‘And it’s time to start the preparations.’

Wade’s chair took a sudden jerk backwards and he came face-to-face with his tormenter. He felt the floor slip away beneath him and heard the grumble and squeak of the casters as he was wheeled beside the bed.

‘Now, I should warn you that you may feel a certain degree of discomfort, Mr Wade. It’s perfectly normal. I just need to support your neck a little.’

Mr Wade screamed. Something was clamped suddenly about his thick neck, rigid and tall, pulling his vertebrae fully erect. Cold steel pressed against his skin and held him there unnaturally straight. His hands squirmed despite himself, the wire cutting into more flesh. He had been rendered absolutely useless, and despite his muscular, bullish frame, he was quite at this malefactor’s mercy: a pathetic fly wound tight in the spider’s web.

‘Forgive me,’ continued the doctor, ‘just a precautionary measure to ensure the tubing doesn’t shatter mid-journey. It’s imperative your oesophagus remains in one piece.’ He unhooked a length of tubing from the stand and held one end up to the bare light. An evil metal barb, like the tail of a stingray, flashed as he turned it slowly in his gloved hand. ‘Now listen, you’re an exceedingly large man and I would suggest that the stiller you are, the easier this will all be and the fewer accidents we are likely to have. Open your mouth please, wide.’

Wade’s eyes took on the appearance of twin new moons crossing each other’s orbits as the metal end came towards him.

‘Your mouth, Mr Wade.’

A spike of pain burned unexpectedly at his side forcing him into an involuntary gasp and in that instant the end of the tube found itself secreted at the back of his mouth. He tasted the cold tang of metal briefly on his tongue before it passed back and slipped down into his throat and further still. He gagged to no relief. His tongue lolled inadequately to one side.

The doctor put the scalpel he’d been holding back on the table. ‘Now take slow steady breaths. You will manage that if you remain calm.’

Down the tubing went, like some uninvited serpent, all the way until he felt it in the pit of his belly. The doctor held the other end up vertically above him and with a curt nod looped it through a fine wire coil dangling from the ceiling.

‘Well, we’re in place and anchored at your core. So, let’s begin.’

The syringe was not like anything Wade had ever seen before. For one thing, the needle was curved, and flexed at the touch.

‘We need to introduce the antithesis of what we require in order to act as a lure. It is the simplicity of opposite attraction.’ The doctor held the syringe a little higher and squirted a touch of the scum-coloured fluid into a kidney-shaped tray. ‘Human brain to be precise, mixed with a unique compound of my own design – the cerebrum is quite dead you see and just what we need to draw our target out.’ He depressed the plunger, introducing the liquid steadily into the tubing. This he unlatched from the wire loop and secured the opposite end to a panel at the bottom of the brass sphere behind them. Mr Wade blinked violently in protest, his teeth vibrating against the glass. His mind swam. What was he talking about? What did he mean? Surely, he would realise he had the wrong man.

Suddenly a terrible cramp grasped at him somewhere near the pit of his stomach. For a second, he had the notion that he might soil himself. The cramp grew. He felt an excruciating wrenching of something pulling apart; could actually feel involuntary movement in his abdomen. A tearing was faintly audible. ‘Sthh-sthh’ he hissed with his tongue on the tubing.

He could feel the doctor’s eyes upon him, observing. His apparent composure was chilling, as he stood, hands formed into a cage at his chest, simply watching. And then a peculiar stillness came over him too: an emptiness and sensation of release, much like the feeling after vomiting. Was this it? Would he let him go now? His eyes searched sideways for an answer.

‘The calm before the storm,’ noted the doctor.

A crippling, violent spasm shot through Wade’s body, radiating from his centre so that, despite the length of glass-tubing inside him, he stretched out awkwardly against his wire restraints, his frame rigid as steel. He couldn’t breathe, not at all. He tried to suck in air. His lungs burned. Blood rose to the surface, covering his skin in raised veins and capillaries: worms of red, threatening to burst at any moment. I’m dying, he thought. This is it.

An audible popsounded from within him, the noise making even the doctor jump slightly. Wade’s body slumped as far as it could in the chair and then movement shook the tubing. Something viscous issued from his mouth along the length of glass. Pink, yellow, plum, red, green: its colour seemed to morph as it moved rapidly towards the brass sphere, like light refracted through water. It gave off a haze or glow that bathed the room in a peculiar tint before disappearing again inside the machine.

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

Benjamin Hope midshotI’m currently busy writing the sequel to The Procurement of Souls. It’s called A New Religion and I won’t give too much away about the plot except to say it features more steampunkesque inventions, a host of new characters, and a few familiar faces along the way! I also have plans for a collection of gothic-influenced cautionary fairy-tales. I released one for World Book Night this year, The Rookery at Smeaton Abbey, which you can read on my website here. I have also sketched out the bare bones of a full-length cautionary fairy tale. So, with the addition of my regular blogging and book recommendations, there’s lots going on but I am focusing my energies on A New Religion at the moment, which should be set for publication in 2019.

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

Well, The Procurement of Soulsis my debut so I’m yet to experience that joyous moment but I did treat myself to a new laptop a few months ago. As I said earlier, as I travel a lot, it’s important that I have something reliable and portable, so that I can write wherever I am.

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

You can check out my website, www.benjamin-hope.com where you can find out about my latest work and read my regular blogs about the writing process. You can sign-up to my mailing list there, follow me if you’re a WordPress user, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram @BenjamHope.

The Procurement of Souls is available as a paperback or eBook (in most formats) from your local Amazon and most online bookstores.

Quick links:

USA Amazon

UK Amazon

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Why Author Events Fail

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As authors, it is a constant struggle to get our name out. If you think about it, authors often get caught up in numbers and sales. However, it’s not all about us. We exist because we love what we do, and that includes loving our readers. Without our readers, we would not exist. We couldn’t afford editing, cover design, swag, advertising, events, etc.  But, how do we get our names out without wasting our time and money?

One of the solutions to this, is attending author events. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for everybody. Below are reasons why author events nationwise fail.

  • Too Many Authors – This can be a double-edged sword.
    • Good:
      • The event has an established reputation
      • Word of mouth has been previously successful
      • Location is good to shop at
      • A better chance of a wide range of genres being represented
    • Bad:
      • Permits readers to be more choosy
      • Overwhelms your reader
      • Readers will skip authors, leaving someone to feel left out
  • Advertising – This is like getting butts into the seats at the theatre. If you don’t properly advertise beyond your circle of friends, and trust that you’ll be successful simply through word of mouth, people aren’t going to show up.
  • The Host – Do your research. If your host is a self-published author, this should be a red flag.  What makes them an expert in running this type of event? How do you know their event will be successful?
  • First-Year Events – AVOID! Allow that event to properly establish itself first before committing. Make that event prove to you it is worth your time and money.
  • Location – Do people know where to find your venue? Are there signs clearly posted outside?
  • Sponsors – Are the sponsors listed on the event actually sponsoring it or are being name dropped. What are they doing to advertise the event?
  • Not Knowing Your Competition – What other type of events are going on that may help or hinder your traffic flow?
  • Weather – While these type of events are scheduled months in advance, it is good to have a back-up venue if you are going to be outside.
  • Cost – I can say before I became an author, I was completely oblivious that authors have to buy their own table, so they are already starting their day in the red. However, venues also cost money, so, what is the right price to charge both author and reader attendees?
  • Parking – Is there enough parking to handle your traffic? You don’t want your customers leaving before they get there due to frustration of being unable to find a place to park
  • Being UnFamiliar With Your Target Audience – Where do they tend to go? Comic shops? Bookstores? Coffee shops?
    • I’ve learned my target audience (Doctor Who fans) go to Comic Con, and not typically to these type of events.
    • However, if you’re a romance author, for example, you will probably do well at an author event.
  • Allowing Pre-Orders – Readers will buy books ahead of time, go to the event solely to pick up their pre-orders, and leave without bothering to check out the other authors.
  • Not Knowing Your Authors – THIS, ladies and gentlemen is the #1 reason these author events fail.
    • “Why should I buy this author’s book when I don’t know who he/she is.”
    • Next time you catch yourself doing this, remember that those popular authors you do know: Rachel Caine, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb, etc, were once unknowns, too.

Are you an author reading this post? See something I have not covered? Have you attended an event that went superly well? What made it spectacular? On the other side of the coin, have you attended an event that went horribly wrong? What went wrong?

I want to hear your voice! Comment below.

 

Author Interview with @authorcsmith! #FridayFeature #DoctorWho #Whovian #scifi #fantasy #steampunk #timetravel #authorinterview

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This interview I’m very excited about as it is my kickoff to the latest section of my blog on novels, short stories, anthologies, scripts, audio scripts, fanfic, etc, surrounding the #DoctorWho fandom.

Today, I’m fortunate to present Claire Smith, author of The Quest Of The Prodigy.

Welcome!

Thank you so much, Mackenzie!!! Always love getting love from a #Whovian! Whovians make the best sort of humans 🙂 

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

Claire_BHC_Web.jpgBorn and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. Moved to Greenville, SC in 2013 to be with family. Loving the southern life! 

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

For me, it’s always the characters. I always say the story starts and ends with a good character. If you don’t have interesting characters, my attention gets lost very easily! That’s why I take character building very seriously! I also believe that one should learn something from reading a book. Not like an after-school special, but either a new take on something or an actual fact they might not have known. I believe that’s the power of fiction, to teach us something about reality too. 

Question 3) Congratulations on the release of The Quest Of The Prodigy! Tell us what inspired you to write this book?

Quest_of_the_Prodigy_Claire_Smith_WEB.jpgThank you so much! Well, it was back in 2012 and my friends and I were making fun of the rather new BBC show Sherlock. We were teasing about British surnames and I somehow thought of the name Barkley. And somehow I knew he was a time-traveler! And everything else just came from that 🙂 

Question 4) What would you consider your greatest writing challenge?

Finishing!!! I get so many ideas, that is hard to stay focused and finish a project. I have about five projects I’m working on at the moment!

Question 5) I understand your book was also selected by Barnes and Noble as a special two-week exclusive release on Nook! How did you react when you heard the news? 

Thank you! Well much to the disappointment of my amazing publishers, BHC Press, I had laryngitis at the time so I could barely say anything!!! So, I was screaming on the inside, lol.

Question 6) Turns out, your target audience is the same as mine – #DoctorWho fans! What made you select #Whovians?

I wrote this book FOR Whovians 🙂 I’ve always loved Time Travel, and been a Whovian for almost 8 years now! I wanted a book that was a fun, light-hearted read that would satisfy the Whovian in between seasons. And this book was also geared towards the sci-fi fan that likes the technology side of sci-fi explained so it’s less ‘magical’ and more ‘scientific’, kind of like Doctor Who! 

Question 7) Who’s your Doctor?

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Well, it’s cliche but the Tenth Doctor! It just wasn’t on his handsome looks, lol. I started watching Doctor Who a little differently because I started with Torchwood which was introduced to me first via BBC America. Then my British friend @jetlbomb introduced me to Doctor Who! She said if I loved Jack Harkness so much I should watch all of Doctor Who! So I started with the Empty Child, hit all the Jack episodes and then started again with Rose. It wasn’t until I saw the Utopia two-parter that I was HOOKED and so David Tennant will always be my Doctor. And Matt Smith is COOL, and well, being a Smith, I’m a little bias, so they are both my Doctor’s 🙂 Gotta love 12 though! They all rock! 

Question 8) How excited are you to see the Doctor being played by a woman for the first time?

I’m very excited! At first, I was worried about the casting just to please an agenda, but JODIE is going to be BRILLIANTLY AMAZING and I cannot wait! Also super excited for the new showrunner. Moffat had fine moments for sure, but new blood I think is most welcomed! 

Question 9) Okay, back to writing. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

Oh yes, I could talk about Doctor Who all day! I think my ‘quirk’ might be my habit of going into tangents / rants when I write, in character! My next coming novel In Need of Direction, a modern adult contemporary, the main character Charlie Vail goes in MANY side-rants. I have to trim them down a lot lol. I also like to make pop culture reference because I’m easily amused!

Question 10) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this book? 

DfGv9UIW0AAblUwI think the whole book itself surprised me. The first draft, horrible as it is, is WAY different and was more middle grade level. I changed it a lot too also to add more STEAMPUNK elements which I’m also a big fan of!

Question 11) Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

Certainly! Grab a preview here! https://issuu.com/bhcpress/docs/qotp_cs 

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

In 2019, my contemporary fiction novel In Need of Direction, about a Hollywood movie director who finds love a little too late when he finds out he’s dying, will be released. 2020 is expected to be the release of the sequel to the Quest of the Prodigy where our heroes will travel to the golden age of piracy! I’m also working on some screenwriting scripts for some contests, so WHO knows 😉 

Question 13) How can we contact you or find out more about your books? 

Thank you so much! I like how you have THIRTEEN questions for the new Doctor, woohoo!

They can visit me at writewithclaire.net! I’m also very active on Twitter @authorcsmith!

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Venues Where You Can Sell Your Book

sample1I’m often asked about how one goes about getting their name out there. Truth is, there’s no one who can sell your book better than you. You are the brand!

If you’re not already, you should be thinking about the upcoming holidays! I know, fall has just started. Let’s not rush it, right? Halloween hasn’t even happened yet!

However, this is the time of the year when children are back at school, and parents/grandparents are already starting to prepare their birthday/Christmas lists as they get back into their daily routines.

So, where are the best places to help readers get your books into their hands? Below you will find some of my suggestions.

Note: Like any other form of marketing, you will find what works for one author may not work for you. It’s all about learning, exploring and discovering what areas work best for you and your book. You may be surprised to discover where you can be successful in selling your book!

Author Events/Conventions:

These can honestly be a hit or miss, especially if you are a first time published author.

My advice: look for author events that have been around for several years. Do your research. Find out how many attendees were there, what type of books they bought, what kind of advertising is going on, are there any guest speakers, and most importantly, who is hosting the event? Remember: not every opportunity is a good one.

For example: I made the mistake this year of attending an author event this summer, which had been recommended to me as the “place to go” for a YA author by a local bookstore, that just happened to be run by a self-published author. Within the first few minutes of the event starting, I sensed something wasn’t quite right.

One author stated he was selling his book, which he knew was full of errors, and frankly, didn’t care. This not only made me question the event’s reputation, but it soon became obvious, I wasn’t part of “that” crowd when readers deliberately skipped my table like I was wearing an invisibility cloak, and proceeded to move onto everyone else’s table in my row due to them being already familiar with those authors because they were “friends” with the host.

Needless to say, I won’t be attending that event again.

Book Festivals:

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My first author event took place this year at the Ann Arbor Book Festival in Ann Arbor, MI in June. Above I’m pictured with 7 other authors representing BHC Press.

We had a great turnout despite the event itself failing to properly advertise. It was especially unfortunate that majority of the local businesses had no idea this event was even going on.

Comic Con:

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Even though I personally have not attempted to sell my book at comic con yet, many authors I know have, and have done really well. The reason I have not tried selling my book at comic con is because the ones I normally attend as a spectator are huge and expensive. For example, back in 2014, a table at Wizard World Chicago cost over $400. I have never sold that many books at an event before, so I know I would just end up taking a loss with just one book.

However, the key is not to think big like Wizard World Chicago, San Diego Comic Con, or Fan Expo Canada. Instead, think of local venues that are smaller, that have specific kind of guests. If you’re a horror writer, for example, you may target a comic con that has Norman Reedus as an invited guest,  because known for bringing in a crowd.

Comic con is also spectacular for panels. That’s how I got to meet Genese Davis, Rachel Caine, and James Morrison.

Barnes & Noble:

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Photo courtesy of Barnes & Noble: Rochester Hills

This is every author’s dream if you live in America: getting your work recognized by Barnes & Noble. And despite what you may have heard, you don’t have to have sold millions of books to get into their stores!

Most recently I had the awesome opportunity to participate in the B-Festival: Teen Festival through the Barnes & Noble Rochester store located in Rochester Hills, MI. The entire day was filled with activities on publishing, writing, young adult, and teen books.

And the best part of the day – the author’s panel!

Library Book Fairs:

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This summer I had the opportunity to participate in my first library book fair at the Warren Civic Center. The facility was beautiful, and the hosts were delightful. I joined 15 other authors where we got to meet new readers and all got the opportunity to talk about our books. There was also a really cool group photo taken, but due to I suspect…more email issues, I don’t have a copy of it.

Art Fairs:

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Okay, I’ll be honest with this one. When I first thought of art fairs, I didn’t associate them with places to buy books. Instead I thought of them as solely places to buy art. However, I soon discovered that could not be any further from the truth! I mean when you think about it, books are a form of art too, no? They are just a different kind of art.

This summer I attended two art fairs – Fenton’s Art Walk and Swartz Creek’s Art In The Park. The result: both times I either doubled or tripled the amount of sales I made from any of the other venues mentioned above, which convinces me these are the venues that work best for me.

So, what was different about these venues versus the ones listed above?

Both of these events felt more inviting than any of the events I’ve attended thus far. Everyone was encouraging each other due to the large variety of items for sales. And Swartz Creek’s event was also a fantastic place to network! I’ve got so many invites to different events that I am literally overwhelmed!

Hidden Inspiration

“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.”
~ Willy Wonka – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

One of the most frequent questions I am asked as an author is what inspired me to write The Rite of Wands. I have always found that question interesting because when you think about it, inspiration is different for everyone. It may be a memory, a character from a book, song lyrics, a political speech, a TV series, or even an actor’s performance. Pure imagination is in all of us—we only need to discover it, and sometimes storytelling helps.

template-4-12172901503297868-large.pngInspiration can come to us in any shape or form; you never know what or who may inspire you. That was the case for me in 2014 when I got the opportunity to attend Wizard World Chicago and meet English actor Matt Smith, who is known for playing the Eleventh Doctor on Doctor Who, and most recently Prince Philip on Netflix’s The Crown. I had originally gone there because I really wanted to meet a Doctor, and honestly felt it was going to be one in a lifetime, never thought it would be possible to meet him again being in America. If only I had known then that I was about to discover the main piece of inspiration in order to finish my book!

A few months later, I was sitting at my desk in my writing office, trying to compose something, but nothing would come to me. I was staring at a blank page for what seemed like eternity. I was close to tears. Not because I was sad, but because I was so frustrated with myself! I thought I had what was called a dead book, and my dream of becoming an author was coming to an end. I wasn’t a writer like I thought. In that moment of desperation, I literally shouted at my computer, “WHO are you? Show yourself!” And then inspiration hit.

I envisioned out of a dark alley in Glendalow, Matt Smith, dressed in medieval warlock attire, carrying an ebony wooden wand in his hand that contained a bloodstone crystal at the shaft. There was also a scar on his face from some type of chemical accident.

I felt like I was having my own “regeneration.” I was being fed all the information I had been missing all at once. I could now hear the character, see the character, and I got a huge grasp on this character’s dominant personality, especially after the first thing I could hear this character say to me was, “My name is Mierta, and that is NOT how it happened.”

In that moment, I gained my confidence back, realizing my dream of becoming a writer could still happen. If you’re a struggling writer, don’t give up! Keep at it. Find what inspires you. You never know what or who that may be!

B-Fest Teen Book Festival

20770207_1137385089697080_4001119598216775061_nA full day of awesome Teen book events at the Barnes & Noble (Rochester Hills) location! Authors! Panels! Giveaways! You won’t want to miss this. This wonderful day will be hosted in partnership with Reuther Middle School, and will be a fundraiser for them.

LEARN MORE AND RSVP ON FACEBOOK AT FACEBOOK.COM/BNROCHESTERHILLS 

*GIVEAWAYS AT EVERY EVENT!*

B-FEST EVENTS:
1PM – “B-In The Know” Workshop. Readers will B In the Know at 1 p.m. with teen trivia, created by Penguin Random House, that’ll put your YA street cred to the test.

2PM – “B-Super” Workshop. Calling all comics fans: B Super at 2 p.m.! We’ll be celebrating iconic DC Comics superheroes and heroines, including Batman and Wonder Woman. Don’t miss trivia, mad libs, book excerpts from Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker, and a giveaway of two copies of Batman per participating store. And remember to wear your superheroic best for our costume contest! Joining us for this workshop will be author Heather Maclean – Author.

3PM – “B-Part of the Fun” Workshop. B Part of the Fun at 3 p.m., when we’ll be celebrating your favorite teen series with games, trivia, scavenger hunts, and more. Joining us for this workshop will be authors Erica M. Chapman and Heather Smith Meloche.

4PM – “B-Yourself” Workshop. This workshop will teach you all about the self-publishing world. Learn about writing, NOOK Press, print-on-demand books, and more! Join us and authors CK Brooke and Mackenzie Flohr – Writer.

5PM – “B-Creative” Workshop. Aspiring writers will want to B Creative at 5 p.m., with story development workshops created by Barnes & Noble’s NOOK and Adaptive Studios. Joining us for this workshop will be authors Ali Novak, Barbara Rebbeck, Erica Chapman, and Kristin Lenz.

7PM – MULTI-AUTHOR “NO FILTER” PANEL EVENT: This awesome panel of authors will be one you won’t want to miss! We will be asking them “no filter” questions and having a blast! Nothing is off limits!!!!! Plus, lots of giveaways! Joining us for this panel will be authors Ali Novak, Darcy Woods, Erica Chapman, Barbara Rebbeck, Mackenzie Flohr – Writer, Kristin Lenz, Rebekah Purdy, Heather Meloche, CK Brooke, and Heather Maclean.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Ali Novak is the author of The Heartbreak Chronicles and My Life with the Walter Boys.
Darcy Woods is the author of Summer of Supernovas.
Erica Chapman is the author of Teach Me to Forget.
Mackenzie Flohr is the author of The Rite of Wands.
Barbara Rebbeck is the author of Nola Gals.
C.K. Brooke is the author of Secrets of Artemis and the Jordinia series.
Rebekah Purdy is the author of the Backstage Pass series, the D.B. List, and The Winter People trilogy.
Heather Meloche is the author of Ripple.
Heather Maclean is the author of Toward a Secret Sky.
Kristin Lenz is the author of The Art of Holding On and Letting Go.

 

Author Interview: Greg Jolley

Today I’m fortunate to present Greg Jolley author of Murder in a Very Small Town.

Hi Greg, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

 

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Greg Jolley (left) and Mackenzie Flohr (right)

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

 

Originally that oddest part of the world, California. These days, I’m enjoying the relative calm and sanity of Michigan.

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

No matter the genre, it’s the mystery and suspense; the what will the characters decide to do? It’s the dance of the characters, caught up in the conflicts between good and evil.

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

Through childhood, I was an avid and compulsive reader. Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I asked myself, “Why not write one? Contribute to the world of stories.” As is almost a requirement of first novels, Distractions (1984) was partially a mirror game of what was happening in my life, which wasn’t as interesting to me as taking the first steps into learning and enjoying the art and craft of stories.

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

I write seven days a week, starting at 5AM with espresso brewing. I am firmly seated in the school that holds to the craft model and find artistic expression and exploration within each day’s efforts.

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

I over write and over research each novel. I’m also open to whatever means get the words and story into play. Sometimes that is typing into my iMac, but of late, it has been four blue line notebooks laid out side by side and a cup of Pilot V5 pens and colored pencils. I also carry a notebook everywhere, as the books continue to percolate throughout the day.

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

The latest book is Murder in a Very Small Town, in the suspense genre, where I’ve been living comfortable for the last few writes. I make the distinction between mysteries and suspense, grounded in exploring the dance between good and evil by sharing both the heroes and villains with the readers.

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

With the writing of Murder, I was delighted to work with another odd Danser family member, this time Wiki, a twenty-something gay, headstrong and feisty woman. She kept taking the story away from me to make it her own. Every time I knew she was going to turn left, she steered right, over the median, planting her boot on the accelerator and taking off into the uncharted.

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

51mmb5u+UdL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Yes, of course. This is from chapter one of Murder in a very Small Town:

The truck pulled off slowly to the side and braked to a stop. Now Wiki had the view of her headlights glaring into the snow-swept road–the two beams illuminated heavy snowflakes falling at an angle. The steering wheel felt fluid in her small hands, and she slowed down again to five miles per hour. Snow was clouting the underside of the car and sometimes white waves crashed up over the hood. There were furrows out before the car, from prior vehicles, but they were becoming harder to see and stay within. Anxiety, perhaps fear, changed the pace of her breaths and chilled her palms on the wheel.

A highway sign appeared, lit by the white headlights. It read, Exit 143. No name of a town, just the distance to the exit.

Even from within her personal storm of shock and sadness, Wiki understood that she could not go on much further. She turned on the right-side blinker, something that in her normal life would have made her giggle, what with her being the only car for miles. She slowed some more and began to watch for the furrows to sway off to the right.

A single car-wide set of tracks continued into the narrow tunnel of the storm and Wiki turned off, staying within the white tire marks. The off-ramp was tree-lined and rose over a knoll, and there was a single yellow light swaying in the distance to her right. She rolled slowly down the other side of the hill and saw a tangle of cars, headlights, and movement. There was an accident at the base of the hill. Wiki lifted off the gas completely and began lightly braking the car. She was studying the scene a hundred yards away, feeling the car slowing and lazily wiggling its rear. The bridge supporting the trestle tracks was what changed everything.

The car felt like it somehow accelerated. It is also began to slide sideways. Wiki took the wheel tight in both hands. She tried more pressure on the brake pedal. The accident was less than forty yards away, and she could tell that her car was picking up speed as it slid down the snow-covered ramp.

Sara, the baby, and the heartbreak were forgotten. She could see two men working between three wrecked vehicles, prying on a door. Her hand went to the horn and stayed there, pressing it in a solid cry as she and the car slid closer and closer. Neither man seemed to hear or care about her approach. Not knowing what else to do, Wiki turned the wheel all the way to the right. The car stayed on its steady course for impact.

Ten yards away one of the men finally looked up, but there was no time to do anything more than that. Her car struck the two men and hit the wrecked cars. Wiki rebounded on the seat after clouting her head on the wheel, and the two cars spun slowly away and her car, now crushed in at the front, slid past. Her car stopped when it crashed into a third vehicle. This impact had more force as she had hit a large tow truck. Her temple hit the steering wheel again as her car finally stopped.

Wiki sat perfectly still, looking out around the raised hood of her car to the tow truck, ignoring the bump on her head, watching her wipers continue to brush snow from the windshield. She began to shake and could hear the storm wind and the damaged engine of her car.

She was sitting there staring out into the view when her door opened and a frigid blast of air and snow swept in. She turned and thought she saw a woman’s face close to her; the woman had cloth across her mouth and her head was deep inside a fur-lined parka hood.

“Lady, are you okay?” She heard, and thought it odd to be addressed as “Lady.”

The cold and wind coming in through the door jarred Wiki into the current moment. She turned her attention to the woman and nodded, “Yes?”

The woman’s glove pressed Wiki’s chin and turned her eyes to hers. “You better get out. Another car might come. Come on, take off your belt.”

Wiki heard and understood, but sat staring. Then she remembered her car striking the two men and that got her going. She unbuckled and climbed out, the wind whipping her heavy coat and summer dress and thin bare legs.

She looked back up the exit ramp to the two cars she had struck. Their headlights were shining in the blowing snow, and she saw a man staring at the chaos with his jaw dropped.

The woman had her arm around Wiki and turned her away toward the tow truck.

“We need to get inside,” the woman said, leading her to the passenger door of the large yellow vehicle. “There’s nothing we can do out here but freeze.”

“Should we call the police?” Wiki asked, feeling more and more in the moment.

The woman opened the door and climbed in first with her hand out to Wiki.

“Can’t call the sheriff,” the woman replied, waiting for Wiki to close the door.

“Why not?” Wiki asked. She turned on the seat and looked out to the accident.

“Because he’s under your car.”

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

The sequel to Murder is in the brilliant and capable hands of my publisher, with a January 2018, release date. It is titled, Malice in a very Small Town and in it, Wiki Danser continues her war against madness and evil.

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

Hiring a professional editor for every book before it even reaches my publisher. I gladly go out of pocket for this invaluable service and expertise, working with brilliant and passionate editors who enrich each novel with substantive, line and copy revisions.

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

I’m always available to readers at the following:

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8261931.Greg_Jolley\

FB – author page: https://www.facebook.com/gfjolle/

Twitter: @gfjolle

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gfjolle/

www.gregjolley.net

gfjolle@sbcglobal.net

A Small Gang of Authors

https://asmallgangofauthors.blogspot.com

Thank you!greagauthor

All the best,

Greg Jolley

The Danser novels