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Author Interview: Bonnie Ferrante

Fantasy author Bonnie Ferrante pulls you inside her protagonist’s mind and allows you to experience the fears and frustrations along with the joys and successes personally. Her characters are flawed but never hopeless. Please welcome Bonnie to No Wasted Ink.

Author Bonnie FerranteHi. I am Bonnie Ferrante. I’ve been published traditionally for two decades (under other names) and am now pursuing self-publishing. My present focus is on young adult and children’s picture books. I was a grade school teacher for 33 years but am now writing full time. I am a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Lay Leader and a grandmother of three spunky girls. Since developing Parkinson’s Disease, I predominantly use a speech to text program for writing and use Photoshop for illustrating. I seldom use acrylics anymore because I have a tremor in my right hand. I live in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada which is on the northern shore of Lake Superior. I love the space and proximity to water, forest, and wildlife (although I could do without the rabbits and deer eating my garden).

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always loved books but I never had the confidence to consider a career in writing. My passion into writing curriculum and plays for my drama club is a great school teacher. Just for fun, I entered a newspaper writing contest on my most memorable Thanksgiving and won. It was a humorous piece. I wrote a few more similar pieces and brought them into the newspaper. They hired me to write a weekly humor column. I entered more writing contests and discovered I was better than I thought. While teaching part and then fall time, writing was more of a hobby. Now it’s my focus.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A regional anthology contains two of my short stories. At the launch several people asked me to autograph the book. A number of readers told me they were fans of my newspaper column. Then I started publishing my stories in magazines in Canada and The United States. I think it really clicked that I was a “writer” when I had to create a file folder in my desk drawer entitled “publishing contracts”.

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

Desiccate it is a young adult fantasy. It is told in first person through the voice of Leya Truelong, a poor peasant girl who has been selected by the Mistresses of the Sphere of Vision to fill the magic potential shown in her eyes. However, Leah has a problem with impulse control especially with regards to her temper. If the Mistresses decide she is a danger to others, they will strip her of her gift leaving her brain-damaged. Leah finds the meditation exercises boring even though they are designed to help her with self-control. As well, there is a bully at the school who knows exactly how to push her buttons.

What inspired you to write this book?

About 20 years ago I wrote a short story that my critique Guild absolutely loved. However, I couldn’t get it published in any magazine. When two different editors told me that too much was happening in the story and it should be a novel instead, I set it aside. When I left teaching in 2009, I took a few more writing classes and decided to transform the short story into a novel. I applied for an Ontario Arts Grant using the manuscript for my submission and was accepted. That’s when I knew this book was going to be something special.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Generally I’d say my style is conversational. I try to keep my writing clear and accessible. I also like to add the occasional poetic element to enrich the text. I write the way I like to read. (Verbosity and pretention bore me.)

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

Originally it was called Fire and Water. However when I did a title search I found dozens of variations of those two words. I thought about the turning point in the novel and chose a word that represented that. Desiccation is the opposite outcome of Leya’s powers true potential. At this point in the novel the protagonist has to make a choice that will affect the rest of her life.

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

Yes, but I don’t want to tell readers what they should get out of it. It’s about small choices leading to large choices, self-control, fulfilling potential, and facing consequences.

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

Not really. Although some of the training Leya goes through comes from my own experience with Buddhism. The setting for the Sphere of Vision is based on a resort in Punta Cana that I loved. I think it gives the novel and exotic feel.

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

I’m an extremely eclectic person and that goes for my reading too. Shakespeare would be the unequivocal number one influence on my love of words. His writing was brilliant and beautiful yet accessible and influenced by the pop culture of his time. My interest in genres and particular writers varies from year to year but I always go back to Shakespeare.

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

I designed the cover of my book. First I had water crashing into fire then I discovered dozens of books with similar covers. Then I tried using Leya’s two different colored eyes but that didn’t seem to work. I decided to go with something simple. The illustration is a visual representation of the title, the turning point.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Take classes, sign up for courses, read books about writing, follow blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos, practice and learn for several years before you attempt to publish anything.

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

If you enjoy my book, please write a review. If you’re not comfortable writing a review, then just rate it. Vote for my book on listopia be a if you want others to enjoy it as well. Mention it on your Facebook page. Tell your friends. Help to spread the word in whatever way makes you comfortable. (Marketing is my bane.)

Desiccate Book CoverBonnie Ferrante
Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

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No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome to another Monday of the No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links. This week features plenty of general writing tips, a great article about the new ethical author code that is in development, and a fun periodic table you just need to have a glance at. Have fun and keep outta trouble! Until next week….

How To Know You’re A Good Writer

12 Reasons Your Novel May Have Flopped

ALLi Launch Ethical Author Code

A Rare Folio Of Shakespeare’s Collected Work Was Found 400 Years Later

More Writers Than Ever Are Earning A Living BUT . . . 10 Ways to Keep Doing it!

Top 10 Things I Learned from Successful Writers

5 Tips for Writing a Memoir

Characters Are Not Furniture

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

Blogging for Authors: How to Create a Blog that Can Grow With Your Career

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome back for another Monday of writerly links here at No Wasted Ink. This week I found a hodgepodge of general writer’s links, plus a recounting of Ursula Le Guin’s speech at the National Book Awards. Enjoy!

How to take charge of your plot, writing a story from beginning to end

“we will need writers who can remember freedom”: ursula k le guin at the national book awards

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

A Better Way to Think About the Genre Debate

5 Things About Writing I Wish I’d Known 20 Years Ago

Ebook Publishing Gets More Difficult from Here – Here’s How to Succeed

How To Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done – 5 Expert Tips

Will our kids’ kids use commas?

Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Still Read Fiction

Straight & Narrow vs Zigzag Helter-Skelter: Which Character Arc is your Protagonist on?

Author Interview: Raymond Bolton

Raymond claims that whether set here, or on another world, he tries to craft gripping stories about the human condition. This industrious author certainly is a man of all trades and brings much life experience to his worlds of fantasy. Please welcome Raymond Bolton to No Wasted Ink.

Author Raymond BoltonBy way of introduction, I am Raymond Bolton. Until my books take off enough to support me, I work as a hairdresser, spending part of every week in both Santa Fe, New Mexico and Portland, Oregon. I am on a plane every Wednesday. I’ve written some poetry, for which I’ve received some recognition, and four novels.

In 2010, having written only nineteen poems ever, I garnered third place in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association’s annual literary competition among over 1,200 entries. More recently, my novels have begun winning significant recognition. In 2013, under its working title, Renunciation, my debut novel, Awakening, was one of eight finalists among 950 entries from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Europe and Australia in the Pacific Northwest Writers Associations Literary Contest. Hailed on BookViral.com as “a grand debut. An ambitious and well considered SF crossover… [that] breathes originality into the genre”, Awakening has received almost all five star reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads.

I am of the persuasion life is too short to squander. I enjoy fine food, so I have learned to cook. I am endlessly curious about the world around me, so I read and I travel. I like people—who else is there?—so I talk and listen and try to understand what I hear. Over the years I’ve driven trucks, been an FM disk jockey, produced concerts, served as a mainsail trimmer on racing yachts, piloted gliders, written software, worked as a hair stylist and owned and operated my own business—all with varying degrees of success. All have imparted a wealth of experience and taught great lessons. In the course of these doings I have had the privilege of meeting very accomplished individuals in the areas of music, movies, sports, technology, industry, finance and politics. Ultimately, all of this background comes together, struggles to find coherence and emerge in my writing.

When and why did you begin writing?

I have been writing ever since I can remember. It’s something I am compelled to do. If I could say why, I could explain the meaning of life.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In the truest sense, I can say my work transitioned from a hobby—a way to occupy idle time—into something more serious in the early 2000s. A friend of mine, best-selling romance author, Brenda Joyce, said one was truly a writer when the story inside burned to come out. I realized they did. Many stories. Since then, I have been studying the craft, attending conferences and entering literary competitions. I am still becoming the writer I wish to be. It’s an ongoing process.

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

I am working hard to complete Thought Gazer, the first volume of the prequel trilogy to my debut novel, Awakening (Regilius Publishing, 01/01/14). People call it a sci-fi/fantasy crossover because it treads the ground between the two genres while eschewing the traditions of each. While set on a world with two suns, there is nothing by way of science, nothing by way of magic. Instead, telepaths, or those with unique psychic abilities tip the course of events.

The warlord, Hath Kael, kidnaps Darva, an opposing lord’s sister, to force her brother’s capitulation. When Bedistai, from a tribe of hunters, foils the abduction and undertakes Darva’s return, an ally of Kael recruits Peniff, a telepath, to find the two. Instead, Peniff comes to the couple’s aid, then attempts to rescue his family—held hostage to insure his cooperation—before his betrayal comes to light. This is the story of a man, in all other ways ordinary, rising above his fears to do what he must.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was working on my debut novel and had created a character I found fascinating. Awakening, however, already had more characters than a Russian novel and I knew I had to can him. I really liked him, though, and in time I came to realize he could become the core that drove a prequel.

Do you have a specific writing style?

The language I use has been described as formal. It seems to suit my subject and their almost medieval setting better than the casual language of our day-to-day lives.

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

My protagonist reads minds and the title seemed to fit. Like my stories, it told me what I should call it.

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

Overcome your fears. Do what you must. No challenge is so horrible or so great you cannot surmount it. Doing what is right, rather than what is easy, is one of the most difficult tasks for all of us. Still, when all is said and done, the outcome of having acted from one’s heart—even if it was not what one expected—is the easiest to live with, the best place from which to carry on.

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

Hah! Hardly. The people I know are truly diverse, but there’s not one mind reader among them. One reads the tarot, another translated the Popol Vuh, the creation story of the Maya, while yet another’s husband is the world’s foremost translator of the I Ching into English, but that’s as esoteric as it gets.

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

John Steinbeck first introduced me to how powerful a story one could craft with only words. J. R. R. Tolkien was the man who introduced me to fantasy. Dean Koontz delighted me with the way he turns a phrase. I envy Donna Tartt’s richly descriptive scenes, and sometimes begin to approach them—emphasis on begin. Martin Cruz Smith is a master of combining tension with realism.

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

These days, I have to say it is the unparalleled George R. R. Martin. Every page he writes contains a lesson, whether it be dialogue, scenic description, examples of Show, Don’t Tell…the examples are endless.

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

I am blessed to have discovered Natasha Brown. Her sense of color and form are at once unique and magical—so I guess there is really some magic in my books after all. Some people liken my covers to movie posters.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write from the heart. Write what appeals to you. Don’t dumb down your work in an effort to appeal to the broadest market possible. If your work has depth, if it resonates as something real, something important, something believable on a gut level, your readers will find you.

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

Please support your favorite authors. They have labored for months, or even years, to give you those hours of pleasure you find between their covers. If you enjoyed the experience, take a few minutes out of your life to post a review, whether it be on Amazon or Goodreads, on Facebook or Twitter, even in the blog you use to journal to your friends.

Awakening Book CoverRaymond Bolton
Santa Fe, New Mexico AND Portland, Oregon

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Cover Artist: Natasha Brown
Publisher: Regilius Publishing

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No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksHappy December everyone! As we move into the holiday season, I have yet again prepared a nice list of writing related articles for your pleasure. Enjoy!

How to Launch a Self-Published Book

How to Stand Out in a World of Dull Podcasts

How To Make Your Writing Proposal Work

12 Literary Magazines for New & Unpublished Writers

Scotland and the Second Jacobite Uprising

Building Better Novels Through Conflict

The Christian Publishing Market With Jeremy Bouma

How Accessible Is Sci-Fi Romance?

Basics of Print Interior Design