Tag Archives: writer

Guest Post: Meanwhile, In The Serengeti by Barbara Ann Wright

WildebeestStraight people are my wildebeests. I watch them from the grass, waiting. One little noise will send them into a stampede, hooves kicking the dirt into a cloud, making them harder to catch.

I creep forward, silent, downwind from them. I must catch them off guard. I take a deep breath, stand up, let them have a good look at me, and say, “I write fantasy novels about lesbians.”

Okay, maybe it’s not exactly like that, but pitching a novel starring LGBT characters to a straight audience has its pitfalls, but if I want the widest readership possible for my work, it’s something I have to do.

I love all my fans. From the LGBT crowd to the pansexuals and asexuals, those who are intersex, and those who eschew labels. And there are straight people who seek out diverse books. I love them, too. I usually don’t have to sell so hard to any of them. They’re the reason I wrote The Pyramid Waltz. Well, them and me, of course. It used to be that most LGBT characters in fiction faced horrific persecution and a tragic end. So I wrote a fantasy romance where being a lesbian was no big deal. It was just another kind of love.

A lot of straight people have to ease into the idea, though. They know of the books with horrific persecution and tragic ends. They cringe when they hear there are lesbians in my fiction, expecting characters who are beaten bloody by the very society they live in. “Don’t be scared,” I’ll say. “Being gay in my worlds is no big deal. It’s important to read fiction starring all kinds of people. The more diverse characters we see, the more our culture will come to see everyone as just another part of society. So don’t be afraid of the gay king, the lesbian princess, the trans wizard, or the bisexual knight. It’s still your kind of book.”

I go to quite a few science fiction and fantasy conventions, and the bulk of the people I’ve spoken to identify as straight. I’ve seen some people squirm when I tell them that my stories star women who love women. I’ve seen the occasional eye roll, like I’m trying to sell an agenda. I have to keep my cool, keep describing the book, be as funny as I can be, and assure them that it’s all right. The other shoe will not drop. It’s really no big deal. Lucky for me, many people believe me, read the book, and see for themselves. I’ve overheard some conversations where someone reassures someone else about the book by saying, “It’s not really about that.”

And it’s not, not for them, at least. But for those of us who don’t often see ourselves in fiction, it’s very much about that. It gives me joy to see someone who feels the way I do on the page. Anyone who has ever felt excluded knows what I’m talking about. Most of the lesbian, gay, or bi people I know learned long ago to enjoy fiction starring straight characters. Trans people are used to not seeing themselves on the page. Most LGBT people I know don’t look at straight fiction and assume, “That’s not aimed at me,” or have to reassure each other with, “The characters are straight, but it’s not really about that.”

So the next time you see a story starring a character with a sexuality or gender identity different than what you’re used to, go ahead and pick it up. It’s not a lion waiting in the grass. See if you like the story. Read a few pages. See what you’re in for. Go online and peruse the ratings. You might discover a new author to follow, a new world and characters to love. You might expand your horizons. You might join me in calming the wildebeests.

Author Barbara Ann WrightBarbara Ann Wright writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories when not adding to her enormous pen collection or ranting on her blog. Her short fiction has appeared twice in Crossed Genres Magazine and once made Tangent Online’s recommended reading list. Her first novel, The Pyramid Waltz, was one of Tor.com’s Reviewer’s Choice books of 2012, was a Foreword Review Book of the Year Award Finalist, a Goldie finalist, and won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Fantasy. One of its sequels won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Fantasy Romance. Her newest work, Thrall: Beyond Gold and Glory, is a standalone fantasy starring lesbian and trans characters in a Viking-esque world.

Author Interview: Kasper J. Beaumont

Kasper J. Beaumont was born and raised in Australia and lives a quiet life with the family in a seaside town. Combining a love of fantasy and a penchant for travel in the Hunters of Reloria trilogy, Kasper started to write on the urging of friends and family and enjoys watching readers become immersed in the magical world of Reloria. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Kasper BeaumontG’day folks, I’m Kasper Beaumont, a fantasy author from Australia and I’m looking forward to sharing my dragon tales with you. I’m a mild-mannered healthcare worker by trade and when I’m off duty, I turn into a creative fiend, pushing the boundaries of fantasy writing. I juggle writing, work and my three young cherubs and enjoying catching up with my writing group, family and friends. Living the dream.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was really keen on writing as a youngster and teenager, then I discovered travelling and a whole new world opened for me as I backpacked my way across Europe with a bunch of friends. Needless to say there was much partying involved and apart from keeping a journal with self-drawn pictures, my writing was on an extended hiatus. When I finally returned home, I was focused on saving for a house, then marriage and rugrats took up my world. After the 3rd child I was needing some ‘me’ time and an outlet for my creativity, so a whole new career beckoned and here I am, a thrice published author. Sweet!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably not until I published my first book in 2013, so I still consider myself a newbie and am hanging out for a 3 movie deal with Peter Jackson. A girl can dream.

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

My latest release is Dragon’s Revenge, which finishes the Hunters of Reloria trilogy. As the title suggests, my badass dragon is majorly peeved when the Cyclops enemy destroys his homeland. He is hell-bent on revenge and must gain the help of the Hunters of Reloria to defeat his nefarious foe. The Hunters of Reloria are a mixed group of heroes, with halfings, dwarves, elves, a mage, a knight and of course, the dragon. They rally to fight the invading forces of Vergai lizardmen and Cyclops giants who shoot laser beams from their eyes. There is magic; battle action with lasers and dragons; romance and sweet fairies in the series – something for everyone.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve been planning the trilogy a long time and I’m glad to see the culmination. I’m a big fan of fantasy and all things dragon-related so I guess it was natural that I would write fantasy books. I draw inspiration from the fabulous fantasy artwork I see all around and Anne Stokes is my favourite dragon artist. Many of my young fans send in fantasy artwork as well and I love to hear their feedback and ideas for my new work.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I let the characters write the story and give them a gentle nudge here and there. It’s interesting when they go in a completely different direction to where I think we are headed, but the plot twists make it exciting, so I just go with it. ‘Flying by the seat of my pants’ writing is the only way to go for me.

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

Magic happens.

If you believe in something enough and work together to utilize your companions and resources to their full strength, then you can achieve anything. Sometimes it is the most unlikely person who can perform an extraordinary act of bravery to save the day.

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

No. I’ve yet to have my homeland invaded by laser-wielding Cyclops, thank goodness!

What authors have most influenced your life?

Tolkein, Eddings and Clive Cussler

What about them do you find inspiring?

The way they can all make the most incredible adventures believable and realistic. You leave reality at the door and buckle up for a roller-coaster ride of excitement. If I can give my readers that experience, then I consider my job well done.

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

No, I wouldn’t say a mentor, for I haven’t met any of my favourite authors. How cool that would be to have them pour over my first draft and make a few suggestions.

Who designed the cover of your book?

I employed a local spray paint artist to do the covers for the trilogy. His name is Scott Patterson and I really admire his work. He threw me a curve ball with the Dragon’s Revenge cover because he changed from spray paint to digital. I was a bit worried at first that the style would be different to the others, but I am really stoked with the end result. Some artists can do anything.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just the advice that I keep telling myself: remember to write every day. Life is so busy that you really have to make time for the things that matter. Oh, and find a good editor when you’re done. That’s very important too.

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

I love to get feedback, so please do a review or send me a message to tell me know what you think of the Hunters of Reloria trilogy and what you would like me to write next. Always happy to oblige.

Book Cover Dragon's RevengeKasper Beaumont
near Brisbane, Australia

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Dragon’s Revenge – Book 3 in the Hunters of Reloria series

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Author Interview: Lauren Lynn

Lauren Lynne is a young adult author of action adventure, contemporary fantasy stories and an educator of children and adults. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Lauren LynneMy name is Lynne, Lauren Lynne and yep, I’m a James Bond fan. Seeing as how I’m not nearly as cool as the British secret agent, I write adventure stories. When I began writing it was intended for young adults but luckily for me my stories draw a much wider audience. I’m more than a published author. I’m also a certified teacher in Oregon and I work with students from kindergarten to adults. This last year I even started doing some technical editing but my passions will always be engaging readers in vibrant stories. I do more than just teach, write and edit. I love hanging out with my boys, our looney golden retriever and our array of cats. I’ve come to believe that “sucker” is tattooed on my forehead since we have four furry fosters at our house right now. So, when I’m not scooping cat boxes, I may be reading or taking scenic pictures.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing for fun in elementary school. As I’ve gotten older I can write a wider variety of things but as a kid growing up it was all fiction. I hated everything else.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I started a novel in college but I never did anything with it. I hope to revisit it, finish it and publish it. I was playing Dungeons and Dragons with my college buddies at the time so guess what the basis of that story is. I was definitely a writer by 2011 when I began in earnest on my journey to publication.

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

My current work is to finish the fifth and final book in my Secret Watchers series. I have very mixed feelings as my time with Owen comes to an end. He has been a part of my life since 2011 and it will be hard to let him go. With the exception of the first book in the series I have not worked on only one book at a time so I am also working on a dystopian young adult novel and a children’s Christmas book.

What inspired you to write this book?

To talk about what inspired me to write Destiny, the last book in the Secret Watchers series, I have to go back to Visions, the first in the series. My life was in turmoil and I had the strong desire to make some changes. In real life there are some things we cannot change, so I invented a pretend world where I could decide what would happen. If I could not be the master of my own destiny for the moment, then I would control someone else’s.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I understand that it is unusual, but I very much like to put the reader right in the protagonist’s head. This style has its difficulties in that you can only show the reader what the protagonist literally sees, hears and experiences, but I feel that readers gain a closer connection.

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

The final book in this series is Destiny. All the other titles had to do with how we experience our world (Visions, Whispers, Insights, and Perceptions). Visions are Owen’s special ability and now in this final book it is his Destiny that he must face.

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

I’m a teacher. My first goal was to reach out to male reluctant readers. Through the years I have also witnessed a change in our students and so my second goal became to encourage them to be the best that they could be and to try to always do the right thing even if it’s hard.

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

The experiences in the book are from all around me. I am constantly writing down the way that someone says something to asking if I can use their story to weave into my own. When Owen split open his chin; it was inspired by my neighbor who had just done the same thing. The way Owen looks at the world is a little bit me but mostly my boys and our favorite characters from literature. When I write for Owen’s mom; it is exactly how I would talk to my boys.

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

For me it is less about the author and more about the work. It is the characters they build that really speak to me. I read cozy mysteries and all kinds of young adult novels. One of my favorite series is Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling but I’m also a fan of Rick Riordan, Anthony Horowitz, Suzanne Collins, Cassandra Clare and Cleo Coyle. This eclectic collection has characters that move me and I can connect with.

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

I would choose Rowling. I admire how she raised herself up from humble beginnings and seems to listen to her audience. She seems to be a likable person and I believe that is just as important as creating a good product.

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

I am published by BookBaby. I gave the design team a brief description of book one, color ideas and told them how much I liked a clock face they had used on another book. I also sent along a picture I had taken at Heceta Head, Oregon. Their first try was amazing and all I did was suggest a color change. Since then we have kept my picture from Hecta Head and the clock face because Owen’s watch is vital to the plot line. In the last three books we added outdoor pictures I took of local high school students. So who designed them? We did.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up and keep writing. Whatever we choose to do regularly, we get better at. Don’t expect to be a best seller in the first week your book comes out or even in the first year; that is something that only happens to a lucky few. Stay positive; our day in the sun will come. I’ve read several places that the best way to make money is to keep producing more works, so get going, I know you have something to say!

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

Big hugs friends and follow your dreams. If there is a story in you, get out there and share it!

Book Cover VisionsLauren Lynne
Milwaukie, Oregon

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Visions (The Secret Watchers book one)

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Guest Post: An Interesting State of Mind by M. Garnet

Fantasy Woman

Being an author is an interesting state of mind. As I give talks or meet people, I am asked the same questions. Where I get my ideas? How do I write a whole book? How did I get my books published? There are none who ask the important question. What are the technicalities in writing a book?

WHAT A BORING QUESTION.

Being a published author I can say with a big sigh that the whole process is a learning business, a learning business that never ends. Let’s start with the easier questions.

Where Do I Get My Ideas?

I treat this as a serious question so I give a serious answer. I get ideas from the very people who ask me that question. I have a wild imagination. I am one of those people that look up at clouds and see rabbits that change into dragons. The guy sitting next to me just sees the clouds.

For me, to be an author or to write a full book, you have to take an idea such as a storm planet and then not only put people on it, but decide how those people would have survived as indigenous natives in such a harsh environment that led me to wonder what kind of plant and animal life would also cling to this harsh world. There it is folks, one idea leads to another idea and then to a whole book full of ideas.

My thought and what I share with my listeners is that if you can’t take a single cloud and see several shapes you are going to have a hard time taking an idea and finish a book. Now remember I am talking about fiction not reality topics.

How do I write a whole book?

This was partially covered in the paragraph above. You need to expand on your idea and take your characters into situations that you enjoy writing about. Did I mention that you had to enjoy writing?

You need to look forward to getting your fingers on a keyboard, to add to those ideas. If you get tired or bored, you need to talk to someone else, to see what is the problem with your writing ability.

Books come in all sizes from all authors with only a few exceptions. I do know of one who only writes very short novellas. We all know of a couple like Hemingway who only wrote very long books. Still most authors write both sort and long stories.

How did I get my books published?

Here is where I wish I had a fairy godmother. I can tell you that a small author like me and a big time author like Stephen King had the same problem, that very nice refusal letter.

You are never going to be published until you have written a book, edited it, re-edited it, asked for help on editing it and then submitted it. Like all the rest of us you will submit it to every publisher you can find on the Internet, through Google and by reading the NY Times or Reviewers in California. You will get the same nice refusal letter back. I got enough to cover the walls in my bathroom, that is where I began to hang mine. Not as regret, but to remind me to keep trying.

So can we believe some of the words in those refusal letters? This leads to the boring last question.

What are the technicalities in writing a book?

Good English learned in Lit. 101. When we write, most of us are using the English language where there are rules. We can break those rules when our characters talk slang, but when we are describing plants clinging to a storm chased planet, we must use proper English.

We also have to very careful how we use proper names or refer to brands. A number of those refusal letters were because the editor that looked at the first Chapter found so many errors in punctuation, quoting, numbers, and most important POV (Point of View).

Writing the story with your idea was fun, it was for all of us. Then reality hit us all as we went back to school to write our books correctly, so we could get past that editor who kicked out the first Chapter.

Get your story down and then find some help on the editing before you go back and re-submit it to all the same publishers. You might have a surprise, I did.

Author A. GarnetAfter raising a daughter, running an International Business, traveling the world and only finding time to write a few minutes in any twenty-four hour period, I now am retired in Florida and can write all day and all night, which I often do. Under the pen name of M. Garnet (Muriel Garnet Yantiss) I use all the experiences I gained and without any hesitation draw information from my long list of friends and acquaintances worldwide.

With over 30 books published through two active publishers and a couple of independent books (indies) at Amazon I love the email that the Internet brings me from all over the world.

I write SciFi, Fantasy and Contemporary Mystery. But I like my stories to end happy ever after.

A fan wrote me about liking a planet I wrote about in TWIN’S SLAVE so I dedicated the second story about the planet AN ASSASSIN FOR THE SLAVE to her. I have had others writing me about this storm planet and am now working on my third novel about the water and caves and intrigue that tempest brings to the planet of GigasVenee.

Just to make sure I am really busy, my other publisher has put in a request for a contemporary story with the same type of turmoil but between two people. I just can’t resist a challenge. Visit my web site at www.mgarnet.com to see other books I’ve written.

Book Review: Red Mars

Book Name: Red Mars
Author: Kim Stanley Robinson
First Published: 1993
Nebula Award Winner for Best Novel 1993

Author Kim Stanley Robinson was born in Waukegan, Illinois, but mainly grew up in Southern California. He earned a B.A. in literature from the University of California, San Diego in 1974 and gained a Masters in English from Boston University in 1982. He returned to his California ala mater in 1984 to finish a PhD in English.

Robinson is an avid backpacker and many of his novels feature characters that hike or climb mountains including his Mars Trilogy. He doesn’t consider himself to be a mountain climber, more of a man that loves the great outdoors. In 2009, Robinson was a Clarion Workshop instructor and the following year he was the guest of honor at the 68th World Con. His novels have won 11 major science fiction awards and 29 nominations.

He is married with two sons and his family currently resides in Davis, California.

“History was like some vast thing that was always over the tight horizon, invisible except in its effects. It was what happened when you weren’t looking — an unknowable infinity of events, which although out of control, controlled everything.”
― Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars

The epic novel Red Mars begins when one hundred participants are chosen to go to the red planet after a detailed and rigorous selection process. The winners are geniuses from Russia and the United States along with a few other countries. They undertake a nine month space mission to reach their goal of forming a colony base on Mars. “Underhill” has nuclear generators for power, medical stations are established, GMO foods are produced on martian farms and new life forms that can survive on the Martian surface unprotected are also genetically created. During this time, a debate that started on the spacecraft and continues both on Mars and Earth about the moral right of humans to terraform and mine Mars for their own profit.

Two factions arise on Mars. One is the Reds, led by Ann Cayborne. She believes that Mars should not be used for corporate profit or for Earth’s expansion. The other are the Greens, led by Sax Russell. He believes that terraforming is important in order for life on Mars to continue. As time goes on, these and other political arguments tear the martian settlement apart, even as more new Earth immigrants arrive to worsen the situation. Added to the mix is a new discovery by a medical team, a drug that grants near immortality. One of the medical team disappears with a group of followers and they harvest many eggs in order to produce children at will.

What was once a scientific operation, turns into a struggle for power by governments and international companies who wish to carve out a piece of Mars for themselves. Mining on Mars increases and more workers are imported from Earth to handle the work load. The new city domes become crowded and understaffed. Riots begin as water and other supplies are lost or damaged, causing massive flooding and death. Even the entire moon of Phobos is destroyed in the chaos.

Most of the first hundred colonists are killed in the resulting revolution. Their work is destroyed. The survivors take refuge in a hidden colony called Zygote under the southern pole and begin to build a new life for themselves on a chaotic and destroyed Mars.

Red Mars Book CoverOne of the draws of Robinson’s work is his detailed world building based on known science. There are many “sense of wonder” descriptions of the Martian landscape that draw you in as a reader and give you an appreciation for the natural environment. His details about the science behind the transformation of Mars make you wish that you could visit these people and places. As someone who enjoys natural beauty, this was one of the aspects of the novel that I enjoyed. I also liked how the author shifted the third-person point of view among the main characters of the book, allowing me to see Mars, its society and its culture through their different perspectives.

Robinson often features scientists as heroes, not because of their physical brawn, but more for the importance of their discoveries, networking or collaboration with other scientists. The characters struggle to preserve and enhance the world around them in a manner evoking individualism and entrepreneurship such as was found on the American Frontier a century ago. In Robinson’s novels, scientists must take responsibility for educating the public in the responsible use of their discoveries and often emerge as the best people to direct public policy on environmental and technological issues. Robinson could be considered an anti-capitalist, his ideas promote an egalitarianism that more in keeping with socialist ideals. The Martian Constitution in his Mars Trilogy, draws upon these social democratic ideals and focus on the community-participation elements in the Martian’s political and economic life. I personally do not agree with all his political views, however, Robinson is not overt in his preaching and it is tolerable if you keep an open mind and enjoy the environmental and technological ideas.

Whatever your views on his political ideas, Red Mars is a detailed portrayal of how this planet might be colonized in the near future with present day technology. Considering that there are programs in real life that are in the planning stages of going to Mars with an eye toward colonization, Robinson’s books are incredibly timely and an interesting read. It is my hope that the destruction and chaos that happens on Red Mars might be bypassed by our own colonists, but human nature being what it is, we can only hold our breath and hope for the best. I feel that the Mars Trilogy is well worth reading and I hope you’ll consider adding it to your to-read list.

The Mars Trilogy

Red Mars (1993) – Colonization
Green Mars (1994) – Terraforming
Blue Mars (1996) – Long-term results
The Martians (1999) – Short stories