Author Interview: Michelle E Lowe

It is always a pleasure to feature local authors on my blog. I ran into Author Michelle E Lowe at WonderCon and thought she had a beautiful booth. Naturally, I had to invite her for an interview. Please welcome this steampunk author extraordinaire to No Wasted Ink.

Author Michelle E LoweMy name is Michelle E. Lowe. I’m Georgia born native who has spent most my life near the Atlanta area before pulling up stakes and moving clear across the country with husband, Ben, and our two daughters. History piques my interests, especially European history. I’m a big nerd at heart. I love reading science-fiction and fantasy stories, and I enjoy old B horror films. I also get a kick out of playing classic Atari video games and I oil paint as a hobby.

I’m a daydreamer and animal lover. I have a very old kitty named October, and one very demanding guinea pig. I took up writing as a serious career choice twenty years ago, learning a lot and sharpening my skills along the way.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve written small stuff throughout my life. Short stories, poems, things like that. When I was nineteen and in college for graphic design, I was alone, grieving in my dorm room. I’d just lost my older brother, Jimmy, in a motorcycle accident. To occupy my mind, I decided to write out this story that had been playing around inside my head for a while, and once I started, I couldn’t stop! I swear, it happened in a snap. As hokey as it sounds, in a split second I’d found my calling. I like to think Jimmy was telling me something.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I received my first positive review for my book, The Warning. Writing a book and putting it out there is a huge accomplishment. And while we go through the process of writing and publishing, we don’t know whether all our hard work will be well received by readers or not. We don’t even know if we know what we’re doing! Then something happens. Someone you’ve never met has not only read your book but has posted a glowing review. After I began receiving positive reviews for my books, it got me thinking that, hey, maybe I do know what I’m doing.

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

Legacy-The Reunion is the second installment to my steampunk/fantasy series. It basically picks up where the first book leaves off, but with a completely different storyline. In this story, Pierce Landcross discovers that his long-lost parents are imprisoned in Newgate Prison and goes in to rescue them. He soon finds out that there has been an inheritance left to the family and when Pierce goes to the lawyer to collect it, he discovers that in order to claim the fortune, he must first follow a series of clue throughout the Netherlands to its location. Pierce is also accompanied by a beautiful and clever young woman, Taisia Kuzentsov, and together they seek out the loot. Their quest isn’t without risk. A dangerous bounty hunter who has his eye on the inheritance and on the price on Landcross’s head is tailing them, waiting for the right time to act.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Legacy series as a whole was something I wanted to get into because steampunk seemed like a creative and exciting genre to write. What truly inspired me, though, was the characters. I had a whole host of characters in my head and I had no real place to put them until I decided to make a go at steampunk writing.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I like a story that keeps moving, so I write in a fast-paced manner that keeps readers engaged and entertained. I like my writing style to be meaningful and even thoughtful, but also fun and enticing.

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

Legacy has to do with characters and how they’re related to one another, even one character who has lived a former life. Legacy-The Reunion pretty much means a reunion of characters.

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

There is a certain message that is woven into these books. In elementary school, my class once played this game where a teacher told one student a short story in secret and then that student had to whisper it in the ear of another student and then that student would whisper it, and so on. When the last student was asked to recite the story told to them, it was a completely different tale then what the teacher said. As a story goes on they begin taking on other versions, which in most cases is harmless, but for others, it can be deadly.

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

Not really, no. I wish I lived an adventurous life like my characters, but alas, I’m merely a storyteller, locked in a dark room all day. 😉

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

I do read a lot. It’s hard for me to say who is has influenced me more, considering that I read different books from different authors. I’m a great admirer of Neil Gaiman’s style of writing. I’ve been a fan of his since I was a teenager, reading his Sandman graphic novel series. I also enjoy Anne Rice’s work and her beautiful ways of describing her characters and the world in which they live in. Chris Wooding’s work is something I’m very fond of. His world-building skills are something I’m truly jealous of. That man knows how to write fun and exciting stories made for television, and who also has a great knack at bringing the reader right into the world he has created.

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

Catherine Rudy. You may know her, but I would choose her as a mentor because she was my mentor. She runs a nonprofit online writer’s workshop class called Wolf Pirate that I was fortunate to find many years ago. She allowed me into her program and helped me learn how to write! Before, I was just telling a story, but she taught me the rules of writing and because of her and Wolf Pirate, I’m the writer that I am today.

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

With the first Legacy book, my publisher designed it. Now that I’m moving forward as an independent writer, I’m doing it all on my own. For the second, Legacy-The Reunion, I did the artwork. I was nervous about doing so, for I read how frowned upon it is for writers to make their own covers, but it actually turned out pretty well I think.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I once read that you can make anything by writing. And it’s true! Writing opens minds, introduces new perspectives, and brings people into worlds they never knew existed. Writing is an art form that is beautiful, tragic, complex, stunning and horrifying. My best advice for writers is to develop a thick skin. Take constructive criticism with a grain of salt and learn from what others tell you. Trust me, you’ll grow as an author that way. And read! Read! Read! Read! When a writer is reading, it’s different from non-writers. We’re not just reading, we’re studying! We’re finding out new ways to describe things, broadening our vocabulary, and learning how these other authors thread their stories together. Whatever genre you write, reading will help significantly when you put your own pen to paper. Don’t concern yourself about getting that first rough draft just right, either. First drafts are meant to be free spirits and very ugly ones too. You only need to get your story out of your head and onto paper or in a Word document. Worry about making it look pretty later during editing. And don’t rush. It’s so easy nowadays to toss out stories for the whole world to see. Yet the ease to publish shouldn’t mean that the art of writing needs to be forgotten or ignored. It doesn’t matter how good the story is, if readers are distracted by poor writing and grammar flaws, you’ll lose them quick!

All in all, read more, write with passion, but edit with care and devotion toward the craft, and learn from others. Most of all, write what you love.

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

Thank you! Thanks for taking the chance on a little ol’ unknown writer like me when you decided to read my books.

Legacy the reunion front book coverMichelle E. Lowe
Lake Forest, CA

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Legacy-The Reunion

Publisher: Nordland Publishing 

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BARNES & NOBLE

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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

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Coming down to the end of the month, I’ve saved the best for last.  This Monday has a bumper crop of excellent writing-related articles for the list.  I hope you’ll agree!  Enjoy these until next week.

The Basics of World-Building

Boost Your Creativity Mindset Naturally

Why a Serial Might Be a Good Move for Your Writing

The Importance of Setting in Fiction

The Language of Memes: A Brief Explanation

Essentials of the Writing Life: Gratitude

How to convert a Google Doc to Markdown or HTML

Are You Imperfect Enough to be a Successful Writer?

Juggling Multiple Writing Projects at Once: Exhausting or a Bright Idea?

Keeping the Writing Faith: Strike a Balance Between Solitude and Community

Fountain Pens in the Creative Process by Wendy Van Camp

Fountain Pens In The Creative Process
Background Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

I love fountain pens. Sometimes I think I’m the ambassador for using these pens in life. I’ve introduced them to my friends, to my husband, and to many of the writers in my circle. Making converts everywhere I go. What is so great about them? Well, for me, they not only make the writing I do easier, but they help me when planning my short stories and novels.

I discovered the fountain pen back in 2013. At that time, fountain pens were not cool. To use one invited stares and derisive comments. The pens drew me because my cursive writing had fallen into disuse and was unreadable. I took up journaling to counteract this, reasoning that if I wrote one entry a day in cursive, my penmanship would improve. The more I wrote with the ballpoints, the more my hand cramped. I googled about writing and learned that fountain pens need not press onto the page as you write. You hold them at an angle that is more comfortable for the hand. You could write more words and for a longer time with a fountain pen than with a ballpoint. I had to try it.

The inexpensive Chinese model I bought to find out if I would like writing with a fountain pen was easy to write with. I loved the feel of the pen in my hand, the myriad of ink colors to choose from, and that I could select different nibs to change the way my words looked on the page. I went from using a standard medium nib to a fine nib and to an italic nib, which is a smoother version of a calligraphy stub nib. It was fun! I became hooked on the pens as a hobby.

Within a year, I graduated from the $2 Chinese pens I had to fine tune before using to the $30 pens with smoother nibs and out of the box writing quality. My current “beater” pen, the one I use most often in my office is a Lamy Safari in Lilac. I use Noodler’s Black ink, which is archival and “bulletproof”. I own many colors of inks, but basic black is my main color for the creative process and record keeping. I also use a Platinum Plaisir for autographing my novels out in the field. It is a pen with a cap that keeps the pen from drying out for a long period. My readers love seeing the pen and it makes the autographing process a little more special.

Do I love fountain pens because they are an aid to my creative process as a writer, or do I use paper notebooks as a writer because fountain pens are fun for me? My process of writing developed at the same time I started my fountain pen hobby, so who is to say? I use fountain pens mainly in the brainstorming process of stories and poems. I find that the shorter the project, the more likely I will use the pens during the creative process.

For poems, I create them almost entirely via fountain pen and paper. There is something about doodling all those words on the page to find the perfect fit in my poems. I can switch out the colors to fit the mood too. I store the finished poems in a traveler’s notebook to take with me to open-mic readings. Something about the matching of paper and leather seems quite bohemian.

When writing short stories, I keep an ARC notebook, which has excellent quality paper for fountain pens. I write out ideas for my stories and create handwritten character sheets, outlines, and maps. Once I develop the story enough, I move it onto the computer where I do the drafting.

Finally, there are my novels. I use fountain pens and notebooks when I’m brainstorming ideas for a novel. I create a limited “novel bible” of character sheets, locations, and objects that I can take with me when I go out drafting. I draft on an Alphasmart digital typewriter. Once I complete the first draft, I move the manuscript into Scrivener for revision.

As the years go by, I continue to incorporate fountain pens and paper into my life. I sketch and ink the drawings with a fine fountain pen. I continue to keep a journal to chronicle my life and I keep a bullet journal to keep my writing tasks in order. I experiment with using fountain pen inks as washes in my artwork. I feel that writing with fountain pens has enriched my life. Perhaps they could do the same to yours.


If you liked this article, please consider clapping for it at The Writing Cooperative on the Medium network. I appreciate your support.  Clapping informs the Medium algorithms that people want to read my work and it shows the magazine that you follow me.

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

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Welcome to No Wasted Ink’s writer links!  Each week, as I surf the web for my own research and edification, I set aside the articles that I thought were the most interesting and place them here for you to see too.  Enjoy!

They Died and They Died”: Writing Combat for Character and Scale in SFF

Be a Bad Writer to Be a Great Writer

Write What You Want To Know

Diving Deep into POV

What to Do When Your Critique Feedback Gets Ignored

Test your way to bestseller success

WRITING A BOOK DID NOT CHANGE MY LIFE

HOW TECHNOLOGY HELPED ME CHEAT DYSLEXIA

Ghost Writer: The Story of Patience Worth, the Posthumous Author

A Case for Alternative History

Author Interview: Joanna Volavka

Author Joanna Volauka writes sci-fi, fantasy, and dabbles in horror of the creepy-but-not-slasher variety. She appreciates a good setting description any day of the week and tends to give her pets cameos in the things she writes.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Joanna VolavkaHello! My name is Joanna Volavka and I’m a bit all over the place, but I’d say the key things to know about me are that I love animals, I love to travel, and I geek out about things like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Disney! My day jobs have tended to be in conservation or environmental education, and I’m always usually volunteering if I’m not working for an animal place. My first job out of college was as a zoo educator and I still love teaching people about animals!

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote my first book at the age of four. It was called Silvia the Flower, and I illustrated it as well, then dictated the words for my mother to carefully print onto the pages, which were stapled together. I don’t think I ever really stopped.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

This is a difficult question as there are days where I still don’t think of myself that way! Writing has been a thing that I “do” for a very long time, though. I decided that I wanted to be an author in 7th grade, though.

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

My current book is called Threadwalkers, and it’s a time travel story about a girl whose life seems to be unraveling around her until her best friends forget her and her mother vanishes into thin air! She has to find a way to stop people who have gone into her past to try and erase her before they succeed. Think of it like A Wrinkle in Time meets Back to the Future and you’ve got it!

What inspired you to write this book?

This story started as a sort of mental game I play with myself where I follow thoughts along a logical course to come up with an interesting solution—in this case, what type of scientific explanation might there be for ghost sightings? I thought, well, what if we aren’t seeing ghosts in the classical sense, but just thin parts in the fabric of spacetime and are witnessing the same location with living people, just at another point in time? And then what if you could affect things on the other side? The story grew from there.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am a total word-vomiter and I have no shame in admitting it! I sit down and just dump everything in my head onto the page. My attitude is badly written words are better than none at all—it can all be fixed in editing! And once I get into the mental zone of writing, I find that the ideas just flow naturally, which is nice.

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

The title of Threadwalkers is the name of an important group of people in the book, and to which the protagonist belongs. But I don’t want to spoil anything for you if you read it!

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

Threadwalkers emphasizes the importance of family and friendships, and of finding yourself in the middle of life feeling like it’s in complete upheaval, which I think anyone who has ever gone through adolescence can relate to.

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

I have never, to my knowledge, traveled through time, except in the regular way; that is to say, I’ve only moved forward and the usual rate of 24 hours a day.

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

I think that we are all combinations of the various books we’ve read, so it’s hard to pinpoint a single style. Authors I admire may not be very similar to me, but I still enjoy them and can learn a lot from them. I love Maureen Johnson’s narrative voice and the way she can set a scene; I admire the way Libba Bray builds worlds that feel so fully developed; I love a good mystery and have devoured everything by Agatha Christie I could ever get my hands on.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My biggest advice for other writers is to just keep doing it, plugging away bit by bit. I still feel like I have so much to learn, and even just going through the publication process is an education so that I learn more with each stage from the first draft through figuring out what the heck to say when I sign a book. (I’m still looking for creative things to write other than just signing my name, so feel free to make suggestions!) I think the other thing is that persistence really is the name of the game, and don’t take rejections personally. I viewed my querying process for this book a lot like online dating—sure the rejections were discouraging, but if the other person said no, then it wasn’t a good match anyway! I had to wait for the right match.

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

Thank you all so much for investing in this story! My book sells pretty much by word of mouth alone, and I appreciate each and every one of you who have read the book, written a review, or recommended it to a friend. Thank you. (And a special thank you to those who have sent me your favorite dinosaur. If this applies to you, then you know what I mean.)

threadwalkers-coverJoanna Volavka
San Diego, CA

FACEBOOK

GOODREADS

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

Threadwalkers

Publisher:  50/50 Press

AMAZON

BARNES & NOBLE

INDIEBOUND

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