Author Interview: JG Gatewood

Author JG Gatewood is a prolific YA author that loves to write about vampires.  I hope you will give him a warm welcome here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Jason GatewoodHello. My name is Jason Gatewood. I spent my early years in Iowa before my family decided to move to Colorado when I was 13. I’m never leaving (if I have my way). I love everything about this state. The outdoors. The mountains. The professional sports teams. It’s just a great place to live and raise a family. I’ve been married for 17 years and have two sons, Branden (13) and Evan (8). Fortunately, my wife feels the same way about Colorado. We also have a 100 lb Alaskan Malamute. I am currently working on my MA in Professional Fiction Writing from the University of Denver.

When and why did you begin writing?

I feel like I always enjoyed writing, from grade school all the way through high school. But I never really did anything or tried to complete a whole story until 9 years ago when I was laid off. While looking for a new job, I took my time and wrote my first book. I made a lot of mistakes, but have learned so much along the way.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I received the first proof copy of my first book. It didn’t feel real until I held it in my hands.

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

My most recent novel is an Adult Urban Fantasy book called The Vampire’s Curse: Life Eternal. It is the first book in a trilogy about a young man who is fighting a losing battle with brain cancer. He is visited on his deathbed by a vampire who offers him eternal life in exchange for a year of service. Out of options, he agrees. But he despises what he’s become. His family and friends think he’s dead and he’s lonely. He refuses to serve his year and now he’s on the run. Most of my stories are suitable for pretty much any age above 12, but this one is not. It is definitely adult in nature.

What inspired you to write this book?

One fall weekend in 2016, my wife and I decided to watch all the Twilight Movies back to back. There’s nothing wrong with them, I even read the books, but I got into a conversation with my wife about how PG the books were. When I think of vampires, I don’t typically think PG. I told her that night I wanted to write a vampire book that was the opposite of Twilight, and where I experimented with the ideas of what we know about vampires. A month or two later was NaNoWriMo and I went through with the idea. I’m really happy with it. It gave me the opportunity to unleash myself. I’m usually a pretty reserved person, so being able to say all the things I normally wouldn’t say, was quite a cathartic experience.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t know that I have a specific style. It depends on what I’m writing. For instance, The Vampire’s Curse was a completely different style and tone from what I normally write. My YA fantasy book is from the perspective of a teenage girl, so I tried to channel as much of that as I could. I have to get into my characters and I let them dictate the style.

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

I had the idea for the title before I ever started writing. He’s a vampire who hates being a vampire. It made sense to me and I ran with it. Usually, I go through a few different titles before I settle on one.

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

In this story, there wasn’t a deeper meaning. I had fun with it, and as I mentioned before, It gave me the opportunity to say things I wouldn’t normally say. I wrote it more as an entertainment piece (including humor) and that was all there is to it. This isn’t always the case. My YA book deals with issues of racism and differing religions.

What authors have most influenced your life?

What about them do you find inspiring? There are so many. Stephen King is probably my favorite author and the one whom I inspire to be the most. However, I write primarily fantasy, so, from that standpoint, I would say, Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, and Branden Sanderson. Their world building and plot design are so amazing and I only hope to be as masterful as them someday.

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

Outside of the above-listed authors, I haven’t been taken under any wings, but I am a member of a critique group through RMFW that contains members with varying backgrounds and accolades. Thes people have helped my writing so much. They truly are my brothers and sisters.

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

I usually design my own covers. For this book, my publisher took with what I created and went in a similar direction. But ultimately, they decided on the cover.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

This isn’t something that happens overnight. Sit back and relax and enjoy what you are doing. Writing is a craft that takes time to develop. Write often and keep writing. When you aren’t writing, read. Read anything you can get your hands on. I mentioned I am currently working on my Masters. I have read many stories and novels I never would have picked up before that I absolutely loved and learned a lot from. My last bit of advice, find a critique group or writing community. I was nervous at first, but it was probably one of the best things I ever did.

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

The biggest thing I have to say is, Thank You!. I enjoy writing. It keeps me calm at the end of a bad day and makes me smile when I am feeling down. But none of it would be worth it if I wasn’t sharing it with people. So again I say, thank you.

cover_vampires_curseJ.G. Gatewood
Parker, CO

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The Vampire’s Curse: Life Eternal

Publisher: Isabella Media

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BARNES & NOBLE

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Welcome back to another Monday of writing links here on No Wasted Ink.  There is plenty here to entertain or inform you about the craft of writing. I hope you enjoy this week’s selection. I apologize for not having a links post last week, but I was away at a science fiction convention for a week and between the trip and prepping for the event, I missed a few posts here on No Wasted Ink. I’m doing my best to get back on track for you.

Confessions of a Book Reviewer

Staying Positive After a Rejection

Lessons From the Writing of The Name of the Wind

Your Bones Are Showing: Too Little Story, Too Many Problems

5 Writing “Life Lessons” from an Empty Nester Author

How to Get Started with a WordPress Author Website

Revising Your Manuscript in Scrivener

Mind Mapping: A Pantser’s Path to Planning

Using Side Characters to Support a Story

Is Blogging Dead or Alive in 2019?

Be Connected – Making Writers Conferences Work For You by Susan Winters

Writers’ conferences can provide an excellent opportunity to learn latest trends and network. Though sometimes there’s so much activity going on, it can be difficult to absorb the barrage of information, let alone posing a question to the guest speaker who is immediately mobbed after her presentation. With such an influx of writers at a conference, meaningful one-on-one conversation can be problematic if not impossible. The cost in time and money is no small factor either. Fortunately with some advance planning and considering a few key questions you can reap maximum benefits from the conference.

Prior to the Conference

First of all, think about where you are on your writing journey. Have you just started or have you taken a new direction and aren’t sure where to turn? Or are you stranded on a plateau and trying to figure out how to get to the next level? In what area are you facing the most struggles, craft, production or marketing? What type of people do you need right now to help you reach those goals? Are you looking for a colleague, collaborator or a contractor?

At the same time, you should consider your strengths. What can you share about your writing experiences that might help someone on her journey? Is there a blog, book or podcast that you’ve found to be particularly insightful? Your conversations will be more engaging if you have something to contribute in return.

Next, study the conference panel and evaluate what they have to offer. How can their strengths and experiences help you on your journey? Have a couple of key questions in mind that you can ask if given the opportunity. Keep the questions short and specific. If you have the opportunity for a longer discussion, great but avoid monopolizing the speaker’s time. You don’t want to be that guy.

During the Conference

While it’s nearly impossible at a large conference to meet everyone, avoid the temptation to only reach out to other authors in your genre. At a recent indie author event, one of my friends, a best-selling romance author in her own right, made it a point to stop at each author’s table to chat. Talk to everyone. Someone from outside your genre may have a different angle on a problem you’ve been facing. While authors may write in a few specific genres, many authors are omnivorous readers. You could be chatting with your next fan and not even know it.

Another way that writers limit themselves is to focus exclusively on the well-known, successful authors and ignore the rookies. As far as fledgling writers are concerned, when they’re not in the throes of trying to finish their first novel they’re usually busy learning everything they can about the craft and the business. Sometimes rookies can be the best source of what’s cutting edge.

In addition to whatever notes you’ve taken during the sessions, take time to jot down your observations of the conference as a whole which should include notes on the other writers you met. Start a to-do list of people to contact and follow-up items to tackle when you return home while the ideas are fresh in your mind. Make one of those tasks an appointment with yourself to review your notes a month or two after the conference. By re-reading your notes at a later time, you may glean valuable insight that you missed while caught up in the excitement of the conference.

Afterward

In Reno, many of the local casinos offer an After-Burner deal providing Burning Man participants the opportunity to decompress with a spa/massage package after leaving the playa before they have to reconnect with the real world. While a spa weekend may not always be possible due to time and budget constraints, consider ways to ease back into your regular schedule. Can you take an extra day off work or at least schedule a date night? Your significant other would probably appreciate it after keeping the home fires burning during your absence. Or can you at least make sure the pantry is stocked and gas tank filled so you don’t have to immediately attend to those errands when you return?

Even if you can’t squeeze in a spa weekend, schedule a lunch or coffee date with to review the conference high lights with either some writer colleagues or like-minded friends. Unless the conference was solely focused on craft, the content on developing your brand and marketing would be useful to any of your friends who are self-employed or starting their own business. Chances are your entrepreneur buddies have a different perspective that would benefit your writing as well. By revisiting and sharing the knowledge you learned and reaching out to other writers you’ve met, the conference becomes a viable asset continually supporting your writing instead of simply a pleasant memory.


Susan Winters balances her writing life with her work as a full-time corporate paralegal. Raised in Northern California, Susan started writing articles for the campus paper and publishing a short story in the college literary magazine and has been alternating between fact and fiction ever since. She is the author of Ever After and Mixed Blessings. Her non-fiction has appeared in Reno News & Review and numerous indie parenting magazines.

As Mariposa Cruz she writes contemporary romance including the Rhythm & Romance series. Her Create on the Side blog features interviews with authors, actors, artists, and musicians who manage their creative pursuits with full-time work. An avid reader, knitter and Salsa dancer, Susan resides in Reno, Nevada with her family.

For more about Susan and her writing:
https://createontheside.wordpress.com/
https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Winters/e/B00J7QD870/

EVER AFTER

Author Interview: Jack Massa

Author Jack Massa has studied writing and other forms of magic for many years. He lives in Florida, USA, but wanders in many places. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Jack MassaHello! My name is Jack Massa. These days I write fiction, mainly fantasy in different subgenres—heroic, historical, urban, YA paranormal. Over the years, I’ve also published science fiction, poetry, and lots of nonfiction.

I grew up in suburban New Jersey, near New York City. I was raised in a working-class household with three siblings, an Irish mother, an Italian father, an Irish grandmother and her third husband, a Russian Jew. My grandmother also had a parakeet. I’ve been married to the best woman in the world for many years and we have an adult son. We live now in Southwest Florida which, except for overcrowding and the occasional hurricane, is certainly paradise.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been a writer all my life. (I think I was a writer in other lifetimes too, but let’s focus on this one.) I started telling myself stories when I was three years old, playing with my toy soldiers. I made some of them superheroes and used my stuffed animals as monsters they either fought or made friends with.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I was privileged to attend a small, radical liberal arts college. “Radical” in that the institution largely made students figure things out for themselves. I tried a lot of things and decided writing fiction was for me. I wrote a magical realist novel as my senior thesis. The college validated that I was a writer by giving me my degree.

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

I’m presently working on the third of the Abby Renshaw adventures, Ghosts of Lock Tower. It is a fantasy tale involving chaos magic, a Nazi ghost, an ancient Mesopotamian Goddess, and monsters that manifest from Internet memes. (Perhaps you can see why I’m still working on it.) I hope to release it in Summer, 2019.

Meantime, let’s talk about Abby’s first adventure, Ghosts of Bliss Bayou.

Abby is a typical girl from New Jersey with a propensity for the strange. (You might notice similarities to the author.) In Abby’s case, she tries to be a normal high school student, does well in school, runs on the track team, awkwardly tries to have a social life. (I know, I know, just like the author. I can’t help it.)

Abby’s problem in Ghosts of Bliss Bayou is that she is subject to hallucinations—scary ghosts and creatures popping out of her nightmares into waking life. Her quest is to solve the mystery of where these things come from and why they’re threatening her. The story takes her to her roots, in a small town in rural Florida, where she was born and where her grandmother still lives. There, she learns the hallucinations are in fact real and linked to her family’s history.

What inspired you to write this book?

Oh my! Lots of things. I gather inspiration the way a lint brush picks up lint—No wait, there must be a better analogy…

I’ve always been interested in reading about magic and mysticism—Tarot Cards, Kabbalah, spiritualism, you name it. I was especially fascinated by the so-called “occult revival” in the late 19th Century, when mediums became a big thing and educated folks in Europe and the U.S. joined secret societies to study magic. All of this worked its way into the backstory of the book.

Also, my wife and I love visiting places in “old Florida,” especially spots that were tourist destinations when we were little kids, but are now largely bypassed. I had an idea for writing a ghost story set in one of these places. When we visited the town of Micanopy, then took a boat ride on the amazingly beautiful Silver Springs, it all came together.

Do you have a specific writing style?

That really varies with the type of book. The Abby stories are first person, present tense, with lots of focus on what she’s feeling in the moment—as befits YA fiction. My other books are third person, past tense, even with some “omniscient narrator” to give a broad and epic sweep.

In all my work, I try to write with immediacy and vivid visual detail. I think it was D.H. Lawrence who said, “First, I wish to make you see.” I like that.

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

The Reality we think we know is only one small piece of a much larger moving picture.

As one of the characters, a retired Anthropology professor, puts it, “the Universe is vast and incomprehensible. To try to understand it, the human mind creates maps. Science is one big set of maps. Magic is just another set. Both kinds of maps are valid in different ways. But the Universe will always be bigger and stranger than any map.”

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

To this I will only say: Like Abby, I’ve always had a propensity for the strange.

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

Wow. Way too many to name.

Shakespeare first, always.

For delving into the depths of the human soul, classic authors such as Dostoevsky, Conrad, Emily Bronte, and Nikos Kazantzakis (author of Zorba the Greek).

For fantastic adventure and sense of wonder, Tolkien, Roger Zelazny, Jack Vance, Kim Stanly Robinson, Robert E. Howard (author of the original Conan stories).

Among newer writers, I really admire Cassandra Clare, Maggie Stiefvater, and NK Jemison.

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

Literally, I had a mentor, a writer named George Cuomo. He was a professor in my MFA program in graduate school. He was not at all into fantasy and science fiction, but he made it his business to encourage me and help me build my skill. He also helped me get my first novel published.

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

Ida Jansson of Amygdala Design. I found her by online searching.

The cover was actually a collaboration between Ida, myself, and my wife (who is an artist). I usually come up with design concepts and sketch them out in PowerPoint, then rework them with my wife. Ida was very flexible in working with us.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Choose your goals. Decide what defines success for you.

As a business, writing is a very tough game. Simply put, there is way more supply than demand. In other words, there are many more capable writers than there are paying readers to support them.

If you want to write for money you’re going to have to work really, really hard. You’re also going to have to learn a lot about the business of publishing (which is changing all the time). Also, you’re most likely going to have to adapt what you want to write to fit a profitable market niche. And again, the market is always changing. Did I mention it’s a tough game?

So choose your goals. You may want to write for your own satisfaction, or just to reach a few readers and say something of value to them. That too is a worthwhile goal. You will have created something and added to the human conversation.

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

Enjoy yourselves. The Universe is wider and stranger than we can imagine. As a friend of mine who is a bard likes to say, “Live well and in wonder.”

Ghosts of Bliss BayouJack Massa
Sarasota, Florida

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Ghosts of Bliss Bayou

Cover artist: Ida Jansson
Publisher:  Triskelion Books 

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