Category Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview: Melissa Cuevas

Author Melissa Cuevas describes herself as “A little scatterbrained, but hopefully quite creative.”  I will vouch for the creative side!  Please welcome Melissa here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Melissa CuevasMy name is Melissa Cuevas (pronounced kway’vis…the Spanish word for caves). My father was career military so I grew up moving every few years. I was born in New Mexico and have lived in Idaho, the UK, Arizona, Utah and Texas. That made it very difficult to keep friends, so I spent a lot of time reading by myself. I am married and have two adult children. I have lived in rural Southwestern Wisconsin for the past twenty or so years. I play video games, write fanfiction, cosplay and attend the occasional convention.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always been a reader, and the thought of becoming an author seemed like a way to go. It was the dream job idea that survived into adulthood with me. As things went on and I started to come up with my own stories, I realized that the voices in my head…the snippets of head movies that played over and over in my brain as daydreams could be silenced…for awhile at least, if they were written down.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think I took myself a little more seriously as a writer in 1999 when I finished my first novel. Before that, I had started numerous, numerous projects and every single one of them failed at about page 15. Then I started ‘The Emperor’s Finest’, assuming that it would also die young. It kept going, so I told myself I would take it seriously at about, oh, one hundred pages, never thinking it would make it that far. So when it started to approach that, I started looking at submission requirements and realized that I had not been measuring it correctly, by word count instead of pages. The second epiphany was that the formatting was completely wrong and the work that I thought was short was much larger than I’d thought and I was nowhere near done with it.

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

The Book of My World is a portal fantasy turned on its head. I’d read and heard about many stories that involved game players getting sucked into their games and trying to fill their characters’ shoes and becoming heroes, but I haven’t really heard many stories that involve a game character who is not the human player’s character getting out of the game world to go find their beloved friend (the player).

What inspired you to write this book?

I was honestly sitting around and working on a video game based fanfiction and musing over my character’s in game companion/love interest for that series and how much time and ‘love’ can be invested in a fictional character. Then I started to think about leaving a game, or losing access to a game and the idea of abandoning a companion that, as a player, I could have devoted hours of gameplay to making them care about me, be loyal to me, or even, love me, and how devastating my player character’s sudden disappearance would be to them if they were self-aware. Then I asked myself what they might do in that circumstance, and that become The Book of My World.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am a terrible pantster. I plan nothing. I know the beginning, have a vague idea of some points in the middle, and usually have a good idea of how it’s supposed to end when I start writing. The Book of My World was a bit of a technical challenge to me because, although it is third person, it is not split narration. The main character is the only point of view throughout the book. I’ve done that with first person, but never third.

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

The title is actually the title of a book in the book, it belongs to Tiernan’s beloved Dyre. My World is a translation of the name of the game that Tiernan comes from.

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

I guess I’d have to go with ‘You can’t have courage without fear.’ because Tiernan is often overwhelmed and frightened, but he still does what he thinks he should do.

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

It’s based on my experiences as a video game player, but no, it’s not based on any real life occurrences or people I actually know.

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

Growing up, I definitely loved Anne McCaffery. She had an amazing ability to transport me into her world and keep me transfixed.

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

An actual mentor? No. I kind of live in my own little bubble. As for a writer I respect and hope one day to become somewhat as good as, it would be S.M. Stirling. Although I know his style is vastly different from mine, I really appreciate his character building and storycrafting skills.

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

I chose the stock images for my cover, sent them to the wonderful Rachel Bostwick and cried “Make me a pretty cover out these; please, please!” And she did.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read. And then write. And then read. Wash, rinse, repeat.

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

I love them all. Even if I don’t know who they are.

bomwcover1Melissa D. Cuevas
Argyle, Wisconsin

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The Book of My World

Cover Artist: Rachel Bostwick 

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Author Interview: Jess Frankel

Dreamer, visionary, a person constantly trying to perfect their craft, and someone who is never satisfied, Author Jess Frankel works hard to produce his YA fantasy novels.  Please welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Jess FrankelMy name is Jess Frankel, pen name J.S. Frankel, and I’m your sort-of-average guy from Toronto, Canada, who now lives in Japan with his wife and two children. I had your usual upbringing in Toronto but caught the wanderlust when I went to Japan to teach English when I was twenty-six. That was—dramatic pause—a long time ago. I’ve been here ever since, fighting the good ESL (English as a Second Language) fight, and writing on the side.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started not that long ago, when I was about forty-eight. I’m fifty-five now, but didn’t get serious about it until my third novel, Twisted, came out. That’s when I took up writing in earnest.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Good question. I think that everyone is a writer if they write something, regardless of whether they are published or not. In my case, though, I didn’t feel comfortable being called a writer until Twisted came out…three years ago.

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

The Titans of Ardana is a YA Action/Fantasy novel. It’s a wish fulfillment, in a way, with the hero idolizing—and crushing on—a star of his favorite television show, The Metas. In an effort to get an autograph, he finds out that Dana, the star, and Van, her twin and co-star, aren’t from around here, and the tale takes off from there.

What inspired you to write this book?

Mainly because I’m a superhero geek, and I wanted to explore the process of becoming one. It’s the mindset I wanted to look at, not the powers. In the beginning, the hero of the tale, Martin, is your average nerd, but he learns what it really means when he acquires super powers. His catchphrase is “Hold nothing back. Give everything” and that applies to any given situation.

Do you have a specific writing style?

It’s very minimalist. I don’t go in for florid prose. I simply give the basics and then some, and try to give the reader a solid mental picture of what’s going on without going overboard.

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

I always wanted to do a book about some special kind of hero. In ancient Greek mythology, a field I love, the Titans weren’t the best group of people around. I wanted to make my Titans different, people to be proud of.

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

I don’t go in for messages, really, as that can get awfully preachy. My message, if you will, is to believe that you can do what you want to do if you put your heart and soul into it.

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

In this case, yes, as an old girlfriend of mine was really into chocolate, so I sort of drew upon that experience.

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

I’ve always liked Ray Bradbury for his creative use of English, and Robert McCammon for his explorations of the human heart.

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

Martine Jardin, who works for Devine Destinies, my publisher, designed the cover. She took my suggestions and came up with this, and I was/am very pleased with it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

It may sound trite, but keep writing. Many writers agonize over penning the perfect sentence and by doing so, they limit themselves. Realize that the first draft of anything will more than likely be bad. You can always fix mistakes. You can’t fix an empty file.

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

Just to say thank you to anyone and everyone who has supported me, and to those who haven’t yet read my work, I hope you’ll take a chance on this novel and my other novels. I would also like to thank you, Wendy, for giving me the chance to appear in this interview!

My pleasure, Jess.  I’m glad to have you here on the blog sharing your author experiences. 🙂

Book Cover The Titans of ArdanaJ.S. Frankel
Osaka, Japan

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The Titans of Ardana

Cover Artist: Martine Jardin
Publisher: Devine Destinies

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Author Interview: Karen Michelle Nutt

No matter the genre her tales fall under, Author Karen Michelle Nutt tries to capture the rich array of emotions that accompany the most mysterious and fabulous human phenomena of falling in love. I’m pleased to welcome her on No Wasted Ink.

author karen michelle nuttMy name is Karen Michelle Nutt. As a multi-published author, I spin tales for The Wild Rose Press, Highland Press, Victory Tales Press, and Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery. I have also ventured into self-publishing.

I reside in California with my husband. We’ve been married for thirty-two years and have three fascinating children, who are grown now and have started their own adventures in life. We still have a houseful of demanding pets. Jack, my Chorkie, is my writing buddy and sits long hours with me at the computer.

When I’m not time traveling, fighting outlaws or otherworldly creatures, I create pre-made book covers with my daughter Katrina Gillian at: Gillian’s Book Covers, “Judge Your Book By Its Cover”.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing down my stories when I was about nine or ten because I thought it was fun. I wrote plays at first. My fifth-grade teacher let my friends and I perform one of them too. It was very exciting for a ten-year-old.

Later, I jotted down stories in notebooks. I still have those early writings. They were written in ink, not on a computer. So ‘spell check’ wasn’t available. I couldn’t erase or add words if they were needed. Definitely, a rough draft. My daughters, when they were young, loved those stories and read them over and over again.

However, after I was married and had three children, life seemed to be too busy to pick up a pen and write. It wasn’t until a good friend of mine asked me why I didn’t write anymore that I realized how long it had been. That week I sat down and started my first novel and haven’t stopped writing since.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I suppose I’ve always been a writer in my heart, but when I held my first book in print that my publisher had sent me, I truly believed it.

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

Evie Reid on a whim agrees to travel back in time to 1997 to change bad boy/rock star Bellamy Lovel’s path. She’s smart with a college degree, but she is still fan-girl crazy for the rock band, Civilized Heathens. Evie knows despite all Bellamy’s smiles and enthusiasm on the stage, he’s destined to end it all on one lonely night in a hotel room unless she can change his path.

Bellamy isn’t keen on having Evie as his personal assistant, hired by his bandmates to watch over him, and keep him on schedule. However, there is something about the woman that sparks his interest, despite his best to ignore her. When darkness threatens to consume him he realizes she may be the only light that will chase the shadows away.

What inspired you to write this book?

My daughter and I watched ‘INXS, Live at Wembley’ on DVD. We were sad to think the lead singer had died so tragically and there would never be another song written or performed by him. The time travel tale about Bellamy Lovel took root, but I wanted a happier ending for my rock star and sent Evie back in time to try and save him.

Do you have a specific writing style?

No matter how dark the story may be, I try to also keep some levity in the tale. Life is about ups and downs and everything in between. I strive to keep the characters real no matter if their human, a vampire or shapeshifter. I want them to have genuine emotions and flaws because no one is perfect. I want them to fall in love and by the end of the story, I want the characters to find their happily ever after even if its only for now.

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

It was inspired by an INXS song. It wasn’t the title or the theme but three words within the song that inspired the title. Two Worlds Collided became the title for two reasons. My heroine is from the future and my hero is from the past, but their worlds collide. Also, my heroine’s essence is what travels back in time to merge with her younger self in 1997. In a sense, her worlds collide so she can be with the hero and hopefully change his tragic past.

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

First and foremost, I hope the story is heartwarming, fun and simply entertaining.

Though Two Worlds Collided is a time travel romance with plenty of humor and steamy romantic moments, my fictional character, Bellamy struggles with addiction, depression, and suicide. They are all serious emotions that should never be overlooked.

Of course, thoughts of suicide are not necessarily something people announce to the world and this means loved ones often have no idea that their friend or family member is even contemplating such an act. However, there may be signs and risk factors, and while you might think you can’t make a difference by yourself, you’re wrong. Sometimes all it takes is one person to say something or do something that will change their decision. One smile, one comment, a conversation or even a gesture toward someone who is considering suicide could make all the difference in the world. It could instill hope and with hope they may seek help.

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

Though I’ve known people who have suffered from addiction and depression, Two Worlds Collided was inspired by the tragic story of a true-life rock star.

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

Not really a mentor, but I do have someone I can bounce ideas off and discuss story plots. This is my daughter Katrina, who is not only a talented cover book artist but also an author as well. We’ll sit down and brainstorm about where I should send my characters next.

I also have a very good friend who edits my work and she’s not shy about telling me if something isn’t working for her in the story. This is vital in penning a good tale. I value her honest opinions. Thanks, Cathy.

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

I’m blessed with knowing many author friends that I’ve met online who have shared their experiences on what works and what doesn’t work in the storytelling world. Both are important in striving to be a successful writer.

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

Gillian’s Book Covers, “Judge Your Book By Its Cover” is the name of my book cover store that I co-own with my daughter, Katrina Gillian. I created the cover for Two Worlds Collided. There were a few covers created before the one you see now was finally chosen.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Be true to yourself. Write every day even if you don’t feel inspired. Sometimes your quick thoughts can blossom into something more.

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

Readers are what writers can never live without. The novel doesn’t only belong to the writer; it also belongs to the reader as well. Without the reader, the story is just ink on a paper and nothing more. Opening the book, reading those first words, this is where the true magic begins. I love readers! Thank you so much for loving books.

book cover two worlds collidedKaren Michelle NuttKaren Michelle Nutt
Huntington Beach, CA

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Two Worlds Collided

Cover Artist: Gillian’s Book Covers
Publisher: Twin Star Books

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Author Interview: Laurel Anne Hill

Author Laurel Anne Hill is an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy, steampunk and horror. Many of her stories inspire readers to choose the way of worthiness.  Laurel is a fellow Broad Universe member and costumer with whom I’ve shared many a rapid fire reading with.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Laurel Anne Hill for EWL Back CoverHello, I’m Laurel Anne Hill, author and former underground storage tank operator. Really! My day job for many years included environmental health and safety at a pharmaceutical research and development facility. I grew up in San Francisco with more dreams of adventure than good sense or money. My close brushes with death, love of family, respect for honor and belief in a higher power continue to influence my writing and my life. I’m blessed to have a loving husband and four wonderful children.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing before I could read. Stories created themselves within me I’d tell them to my older sister and she’d write them down. I’d illustrate my tales with pictures from comic books and magazines. My sister loved to write her own stories, too. I admired her and still do.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I was very young, I don’t think I understood the concept of being a writer. At some point in elementary school, I knew writing was what I wanted to do. I had a story published in the children’s section of a major San Francisco newspaper when I was eleven years old. Then I knew I’d become a real writer. The story, “Nancy Saves the Day,” was horrid, or course. Heck, I didn’t know the conventions for creating quality prose. I still read the piece every once in a while, to laugh and remind myself of how far I’ve progressed.

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

A Life-Saving Mission

A mystical vision of an airship appears to fifteen-year-old Juanita in 1894. The long-dead captain commands her to prevent California’s thrown-away people—including young children—from boarding trains to an asylum. That institution’s director plots murder to reduce the inmate population.

Spirits watch over Juanita. But who is she? A mystic in love who holds life sacred? Or a ghost-possessed railroad-saboteur?

To save innocent lives Juanita must take lives of the corrupt. How can she reconcile her assignment with her belief in the sacredness of all human life? And will she survive to marry her betrothed?

Juanita sets out despite inner trepidation to sabotage the railroad. Her ancestor, Billy, guides her. Then bit by bit, she discovers the gut-wrenching truths all of her dead family neglected to reveal.

Ghosts, Goggles, Guns and Grit

Come visit Juanita’s world—an alternate nineteenth-century California—where spirits meet steampunk, where both love and anger emanate from beyond the grave.
What inspired you to write this book?

In the early 1990s, I had a dream about an elderly woman riding a train. The train headed toward a disreputable asylum where inmates died of neglect or even by euthanasia. The attendant placed an abandoned baby in a basket on the adjacent seat. The woman realized the baby was her great-granddaughter and escaped the train. With a broken foot, she carried the infant many miles. This dream became the basis of a short story, never published.

Where had the dream come from?

First of all, when I was a teen in the 1950s, my beloved maternal Swedish grandmother had paid the hospital bill for the birth of one of my sister’s sons. The bill had cost Grandma much of what she’d possessed. Grandma had died in 1989. In the early 1990s, my memories of her remained close.

Next, a month before I birthed my daughter in 1979, I’d fallen and broken my foot as I left work in San Francisco. My husband, David, had expected to meet me on the other side of the bay. Cell phones as we now know them didn’t exist. I hadn’t wanted to worry David by not showing up when expected. I’d walked on a broken foot, taken public transportation and traveled thirty miles to reach the train station near our home.

Third, and quite important, before I’d married David, I’d worked for him in a hospital laboratory. The hospital performed lots of abortions, including many late term. I’d believed in the right to choose, and still do. Yet stacks of plastic specimen containers containing pickled babies left a sour taste in my mouth. After all, I’d hoped to birth a child of my own someday.

That fateful night of dreaming, my pro-choice beliefs had gone head-to-head with a pro-life type visualization. In the story that emerged, a woman who’d married into a Mexican family declared her own opinions. I had no choice but to accept her challenge to tell the tale of the baby she saved. Only years later did I discover the inspiration and tragedy associated with my paternal Mexican great-grandmother’s life. I’d never met her. She’d died over twenty years before I’d been born.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My stories tend to be plot driven, although I try to stay close to my point-of-view characters. I like to “show” rather than “tell” whenever I can.

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

I’d gone through a number of potential titles during the writing process. When I sent my manuscript to Sand Hill Review Press, I’d entitled the novel “Woman of the Light.” That title hadn’t worked for the editor, so I chose The Engine Woman’s Light. I wanted potential readers

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

What we do can make a difference in the world.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Some experiences are based on events in my own life, as explained above. Also, I’ve hiked, camped, run rapids, ridden horseback and operated a steam locomotive.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring? I love the work of many authors, such as Neil Gaiman and Graham Joyce. I think, however, the work of children’s authors have had the biggest impact on my life. For example, Elizabeth Foster, author of Gigi: The Story of a Merry-Go-Round Horse, showed me the magic created when blending imagination with the reality of world conditions and history.

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

My mentor is Charlotte Cook, a writer, editor and dear friend. She has the ability to read a story and determine with ease what makes the piece work and what doesn’t.

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

Julie Dillon, winner of the Hugo and Chesley awards, designed the cover of The Engine Woman’s Light. I love the vibrancy of her art, and her breathtaking ability to portray diverse women protagonists.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you love a story that’s not working, don’t give up on it. Put it away for a while then take a fresh look. Read each page, then ask yourself if the text invites a reader to turn the page, and why?

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

Thank you for reading my work! All the characters living in my head thank you as well.

EWL cover proof 2 RGB (4)_001Laurel Anne Hill
Orinda, California

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Author Interview: Mirren Hogan

When I asked Author Mirren Hogan what she likes best around writing, she replied,  “What can I say, writing keeps me sane!”  Now that is a sentence most writers can relate to!  Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Mirren HoganMy name is Mirren Hogan. I live on the NSW south coast, Australia. I have a dog, cat, rabbits, chickens and too many parrots to count. For relaxation, I walk the dog in the forest behind our house.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing ever since primary school. At first it was just in my head, usually at night, but eventually, I started to put things down on paper. The invention of the word processor and computer helped push things along a little bit too.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t consider myself a writer. I didn’t consider myself an author until my first book came out last October, in spite of several short stories having been published before that.

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

There are so many current books, but I’ll focus on the first one, Crimson Fire. It’s a fantasy set in a world based on Africa. The main character is a young woman named Tabia who is sold into slavery to pay her father’s debts. She discovers that she has the innate ability to use magic, and her new mistress lets her train to use it correctly because it’ll increase her value and usefulness. Tabia is caught up in a savage coup and sent far from her home country. She struggles to find safety, security, and freedom.

What inspired you to write this book?

Initially, it was the glut of euro-centric fantasy in the market at the time. I love that kind of fantasy, but there’s a world of unique cultures (literally) out there which would make interesting settings or inspiration. I like to look at what others have done and do something different.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I think most readers who describe is as loose and easy to read. I’m not out to write literary classics, I’ll leave those to other writers. I prefer to write work which is more inclusive and available to readers of all levels, which can be enjoyed in a relaxed way.

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

The book had several titles during the writing and editing process, but I wasn’t happy with any of them. I scanned the text for something eye catching literally as I was preparing the submission for the publisher, knowing they’d change it if they didn’t like it. It stuck.

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

I can’t say that I deliberately put in a message, but the main character is lesbian, and has dark skin. The book isn’t ABOUT either of these things, those are just aspects of Tabia. I’d like readers to see HER first and the rest afterward, because that’s how I believe all people should be viewed.

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

There are aspects of Tabia’s insecurities which certainly come from me. Also, her desire to read, read, read, and learn are from me!

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

Jennifer Fallon and Anne McCaffrey mostly. They have female characters who kick ass, but their work is unique. I love unique. Being different has always been something I strive for. If something was trendy, I never wanted it. Life is too short to be a clone!

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

Every writer is a mentor. Every book I’ve ever read or didn’t finish reading gave me insight into how to be a better writer and storyteller. What not to do is just as important as what to do.

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

The amazing Druscilla Morgan. She designed the cover for an anthology I edited for Plan Australia, called Like a Girl. Her work is phenomenal.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read. Read, read, read. Think about what you liked or didn’t like about a story, it’ll tell you a lot about your strengths as a writer and the direction you’d like to go. Also, don’t be stuck worrying about genre. Write the story, figure the rest out later, and make your characters interested and flawed. Flaws are your friend.

Crimson Fire Book CoverMirren Hogan
Batemans Bay NSW, Australia

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Cover Artist: Druscilla Morgan

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