Lady Jane Salon Reader Series: Wendy Van Camp

Wendy Van Camp - Lady Jane Salon 2015All writers eventually go forth to read their work to the public. I am no different. In February of 2015, my first reading occurred at a funky cafe called the Gypsy Den. It is an artist hangout of the city of Anaheim, California. There are fun paintings on the walls, a wall of old books and heavy wooden tables and chairs. Outside is a cement patio where writers and students come to avail themselves of the wifi signal and cups of delicious coffee.

On the second Monday of each month, the Lady Jane Salon holds readings from four romance authors. The performance of each author is recorded for later podcast. The original Lady Jane Salon is in New York City, but there are various chapters of the reading series around the country. The book that I would read that night was “The Curate’s Brother: A Jane Austen Variation of Persuasion”. My novella is a regency romance, unlike most of my science fiction or fantasy based stories, and thus this novella fit their romance theme. It is my first published book on Amazon.

I arrived at the salon early. I wanted to find a table close enough to the front where I could get a clear view of the other readers. Some reading series have a stage for the authors, but this venue puts us in a chair next to a wall of old books with a large snowball microphone to record our performance.

I had been practicing reading from my book all afternoon. While I do have experience in public speaking and being in front of a television camera, I had never read from my novel in public before. I leaned on the advice my husband gave me to speak slowly and to remember to breathe.

The audience were other writers from the local Romance Writers of America chapter and I had a good time networking with them before and after the event. I had publicized the reading at various writing groups I belong to in the weeks leading up to the event. I was happy to discover that a small handful of listeners had come to hear me speak.

I was the second author to read that night. The moderator of the event introduced me and then stepped away. I started my set by greeting the audience, which surprised them and then read from the blurb on the back of my book. This helped to set the tone of the excerpt I would then read.

I read for around 10 minutes in total and afterward I asked if there were any questions. The direct and intelligent questions about the writing process that the audience asked astonished me. It was a true pleasure to answer. How often are we granted the opportunity to talk about the nuts and bolts of the craft with people that understood. Then it was over and there was a short break where I could chat with the audience and sell books.

Two weeks before the salon, a friend of mine had recommended that I bring printed books to the event to sell and autograph. Originally, since this book was a novella, I had not planned to create a paperback version of it. However, my author friend had assured me that the fliers I had planned to bring to showcase the ebook were not enough. People like to hold a book in their hands and to have it autographed.

This meant that I needed to create a back cover and format my ebook to a print version all within two weeks of the reading date. It was a hard scramble to get the work done in time. I decided to use the Createspace for my printed book. Fortunately, there were templates to follow and I was able to put the project together in only a few days.

I tried to place an order of 20 books on Createspace, but because of the press of time, the best I could do was to bring the five “proof copies” the publishing company allowed. The rest of my books would arrive via the mail after the reading, but in time for a science fiction convention I was attending as a dealer the following weekend.

I ended up selling two copies of my book and autographed them for readers for the first time. It was a wonderful feeling and I’m glad that I went through the extra effort to bring those five copies with me.

Lady Jane Salon was a wonderful introduction to participating in a reading series. It was a friendly audience of fellow romance writers that understand the genre. If you are an author, I recommend them as a venue if you write romance. It will prove to be a great way to meet new readers, to have a podcast record of your work and to sell a few books.

At the time of this writing, my podcast is not yet up on the Lady Jane Salon site, but when it becomes available, I will edit this post and include a link to it.

GypsyDenAnaheim

Author Interview: Will Hahn

When I asked Will to describe himself as a writer, he replied: I write epic fantasy in about the same way as someone repairs a broken pot; with occasional layers of glue so thin you can hardly see the progress until I’m done. It is with pleasure that I introduce you to author Will Hahn, here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Will HahnBorn in Vermont among five sisters, Will Hahn was thus plunged into epic struggles at an early age. Surviving them, he studied Ancient History, later teaching it until he began to resemble an eyewitness. Along the way to a new and very different career, he unaccountably found himself both a husband and father, an adventure that quite simply drowns all others in its joyous din. So his newfound vocation to write epic fantasy, which would normally have confused the life out of him, now seems quite natural. Will wears as much grey as possible, as often as he can.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was blessed with a very literate and passionate family life, and was always writing something. Comedy sketches, class skits, radio plays and some of the longest and most torturous love-letters ever to meet the alphabet; but I never composed tales of any kind until June of 2008. For any being as old as I am, that’s very recently!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

OK, now we arrive at the tricky part. I still don’t. Fantasy writers are incredible people who make things up. With all the encouragement in the world I never “wrote” one word about the Lands of Hope. Only when I gave up trying to DIS-believe that world, and accepted that it was completely real to me, could I recognize that I am in fact a chronicler. And I have been chronicling like a madman since that day almost seven years ago.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I’ll try! {for epic fantasy, “a little” is hard} Judgement’s Tale is a novel unfolding in four books. Part Four, entitled Clash of Wills is due at the end of March 2015. It’s the tale of how the Lands of Hope descended from centuries of peace and stability into grim challenges. The year 1995 ADR marks the beginning of the Age of Adventure; among educated folk, the word “adventure” is not used in a complimentary fashion! And it’s often not the nobility, or the leadership of the settled kingdoms that provides the spark to meet these tests, laid down by an ancient liche and an Earth Demon who are trying to return the Lands to their former thralldom under Despair. Instead there are a scattered few—too young, too ignorant and too far apart—who must play the heroes if the Lands are to survive.

What inspired you to write this book?

He did. Solemn Judgement, for whom the tale is named, was the first person I ever saw from the Lands of Hope; but it was some time before I realized he was a part of that world (which I’ve been studying for over thirty years). That’s how far apart from everyone he usually is. If you start to read of him you’ll see, he’s relentlessly driven and serious, and he aimed that same determination my way, hounding me to try even though I thought the job was impossible. Maybe a little of Solemn rubbed off on me; here the tale is nearing completion and I would never have thought that was going to happen.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I call myself a chronicler and a day-job dilettante. I am very fortunate to have a great full-time job and of course there’s always plenty going on with family. When I get a half-hour in the morning (between feeding the cats and the ladies rising for the day), or perhaps an hour of an evening (when the email queue is cleared and the ladies are watching a cooking show), I can squeeze in a few more paragraphs. What emerges from the keyboard tends to be fairly polished material: I have the advantage of extensive notes taken from my decades of study and a lot of familiarity with the events themselves. And since there are such long pauses between writing, it’s always on my mind and tends to “set”, like a casserole before you put it in the oven.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

So here’s the thing. Solemn Judgement, called by most The Man in Grey, has often been nearby when the great deeds of heroes happen in this age. But I tended to follow the groups, and Judgement was always, always alone. Even other adventurers can’t accept him! Then I realized something; by the time of the deeds I was chronicling (as late as 2001-2002 ADR), The Man in Grey was already known (and disliked) everywhere. But he kept acting like he hadn’t come from the Lands originally. I finally noticed, whatever his outward maturity, Judgement was not very old. So I became interested in his beginnings, and started to trace them in my research. The result was quite literally Judgement’s Tale.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Aside from “wow, everything this guy publishes is probably pure gold”? Honestly, I don’t think epic fantasy is where you would go for an extraordinary new philosophy or take on the Alleged Real World. We read of these incredible new places and situations in order to learn again the eternal truths. In the Lands of Hope I can promise you, Hope is the side you want to be on, crime does not pay, and those who sacrifice for the ones they love are heroes. In “Judgement’s Tale”, we see the difference between the word “noble” used as an adjective, as opposed to a noun. There are big changes afoot here.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Emphatically, no. I will admit that my experience studying and teaching Ancient History suited me to understand some of the limitations of a customary and hereditary society like that I observe in the Lands. And one thing my love of history showed me was that human life never changes. Once you understand what a person was dealing with—perhaps being a second class citizen, maybe a strong need to go into the same trade as the father—then you can clearly see the choices they made and empathize with them. I spend a lot of time following heroes around, and I believe their virtues are the same here in the Alleged Real World.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I would have to list Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Ursula LeGuin and Stephen Donaldson as the acknowledged masters of this genre; I’m a big re-reader, and their tales all figure highly. The heroic fiction of pulp authors like Robert E. Howard and the golden age of Comics resonate with me as well, for the economy of prose (which I lack) and the commitment to action (which I think I carry). More recently, Tad Williams and G.R.R. Martin have of course shown me a lot about scene-setting, character-hopping and the way to build a world view through the lens of many individuals.

If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?

Fellow indie author and my current micro-publisher Katharina Kolata is an absolute inspiration for her boundless energy, many projects, unflagging support and a constant can-do attitude whatever the changes brought into this market. Without her I’d still be a chronicler, but probably with half the output I have now.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I left this important job in the hands of my publisher and good friend Katharina, who has given all my titles a make-over that I think really establishes a consistent tone.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Please continue writing, the actual tales I mean, because that’s the most important thing. If you feel up to publishing yourself, that’s great—it was crucial for me to give myself deadlines for publication and then meet them and I hope that works for you too. If you want to test the waters and market yourself, that’s great too: lots of fabulous people and great advice out there. But write. Never stop thinking about what to write next. That more than anything has brought me a deep joy and great satisfaction.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Two things. First, that e-books make excellent gifts! And more seriously, I cannot adequately express my jubilation and gratitude to those who have shared such strong, positive feedback on my previous Tales of Hope. To see someone I have never met take the time to read the book, and write such a detailed and authentic review as those I have seen, is priceless and a great encouragement to continue. Please don’t hesitate to review an author’s book if you have the time, it’s the most important way you can support them after buying it in the first place. Thanks!

Book Cover Reunion of SoulsWill Hahn
Newark, Delaware

FACEBOOK

Clash of Wills, Part Four of Judgement’s Tale

Cover Artist: Katharina Kolata
Publisher: http://www.independentbookworm.de

AMAZON
SMASHWORDS
BARNES & NOBLE

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksAs I look at the conventions that I hope to attend this year, naturally I discovered a few articles on the subject. I hope you enjoy them along with the general writing links.

How to Write a Novel Using Social Media

Creative Mistakes: Five Ways Authors Box Themselves In

On the Hunt for Stories – A travel Plan for Writers

6 Mistakes that Can Sidetrack New Writers

Preparing for Conventions

The How-to of Revising

Why Authors Walk Away From Good, Big 5 Publishers

The World According to You

Productivity Tips for Writers

Wendy Van Camp published in Far Horizons Magazine (Feb 2015)

Far Horizons Magazine Cover February 2015

I’m pleased to announce that a book review and three of my Scifaiku poems have published in the February 2015 issue of Far Horizons. The magazine is free to readers. I hope you’ll stop by and read not only my work, but the other fine stories to be found there.

Far Horizons: Tales of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror

Scifaiku – Venus Ascending

Scifaiku - Venus Ascending

Venus Ascending

airship city floats
above toxic clouds
mysterious Venus

*poem published in Far Horizons Magazine – February 2015

A Scifaiku by Wendy Van Camp
Illustrated by Wendy Van Camp

Inspired by concept sketches by NASA of a proposed floating scientific station in the clouds of Venus.

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays on Writing * Writer's Links

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