Tag Archives: books

Author Interview: Tabitha Lord

Author Tabitha Lord is a woman who wears many hats.   Not only is she a science fiction author, but she is also a senior editor for Book Club Babble and working on a non-fiction collection of stories connected with an awareness campaign for children with pediatric cancer.  I am honored to feature her here on No Wasted Ink.

author-tabitha-lordHi Wendy! Thank you so much for having me on No Wasted Ink! Let me take a moment to introduce myself. I currently live in Rhode Island, a few towns away from where I grew up. I’m married, have four great kids, two spoiled cats, and lovable lab mix. My degree is in Classics from College of the Holy Cross, and I taught Latin for years at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School. Yes, I’m a dinosaur! I also worked in the admissions office there for over a decade before turning my attention to full-time writing. It’s worth noting that I didn’t publish my first novel until after I turned forty, so for anyone thinking of a career change, it’s never too late!

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I loved to write stories as a child. In fact, when I was sorting through some of my grandma’s things after she passed, I came across a whole collection of poetry and stories I’d written. It was very sweet. In my professional life I’ve written some ad copy, blog posts, and done some editing for school publications, but I had very little time or energy for creative writing.

When my children got older and the dynamics of my family shifted, I began to consider changing careers. While I pondered what was next for me professionally I took on a yearlong writing project at work thinking it would give me the change of pace I needed. Turns out it was one of the most satisfying things I’d ever done in my career. Since I was in the habit of writing every day for work, I challenged myself to write creatively every day as well. Lo and behold, when the report was finished a year later, so was my first manuscript.

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

I’ve been asked to describe my book in ten words. Here’s what I came up with: Science fiction meets romance meets survival fiction meets military thriller!

What inspired you to write this book?

Thoughts for my stories come to me in different ways. Sometimes it’s a character that appears in my head, fully formed – personality, career, physical appearance, and name – ready for me to create a story around. Other times, there’s an interesting scene that builds up in my imagination over time. Or sometimes there’s a theme or idea I want to explore.

With Horizon, I had two distinct parts of a story floating in my head. The first was the opening crash sequence. It was more basic at the time of its inception – just a pilot who crash lands on a planet, and a young woman, in some kind of trouble, who saves his life.

The second part was more complex. I was playing with the idea of what would happen if one segment of an already small isolated population evolved differently, either naturally or by design, from the other. What if some had gifts that enabled them to imagine a different kind of future for themselves and their world? What if they were empathic and could sense each other’s emotions and thoughts? What if some of them could heal with their mind? How would the unchanged people feel about their neighbors? It created such an interesting premise I knew I had to find a way to make it into a story.

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

There’s a big chunk of survival fiction in the first part of Horizon. Caeli is living alone in the wilderness, fending for herself, and living off the land. I grew up in a rural neighborhood until I was twelve years old and spent most of my playtime outdoors, in the woods, exploring and climbing trees. I distinctly remember the smell of pine, the quiet in the forest after the first snow, the taste of wild blueberries. I tried to call on my own childhood memories to give Caeli’s experience authenticity. And as an adult, I’ve had a few adventures that influenced this particular aspect of the story! Over the years, I’ve accompanied students on several class trips. We’ve hiked the rain forests in Costa Rica, paddled dozens of nautical miles in the open ocean off the coast of Maine, and camped in the mountains of West Virginia. I have actually tended a cooking fire, carved utensils, found edible plants, bathed in the ocean, and slept outdoors.

I’m also a medical school dropout! But my experience in medical school, and for years as an EMT, I think gives Caeli some authority as a healer. And when I wasn’t sure about a particular treatment, I’d call my brother-in-law, who did finish medical school and is a practicing physician!

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

This is a tough one. I love genre fiction and my shelves are filled with everything from horror, to military thrillers, to historical romance. I also appreciate good literary fiction with characters I remember long after I turn the last page. I just enjoy a good story, no matter the genre or style!

Some of my all-time favorites include The Stand by Stephen King. To me this is the ultimate apocalypse story, full of disquieting horror. Harry Potter is at the top of the list. Such incredible world building and rich characters! Outlander is fabulous. Diana Gabaldon’s dialogue is beautiful, and the relationship between Jamie and Claire is so complex and lovely. Recently I read, and loved, The Goldfinch. Literary fiction at its best! The Snow Child also really stayed with me after I finished reading. As I write this, I am staring at my library shelves and thinking, how can I leave off Barbara Kingsolver or Isabel Allende! Or my favorite Steinbeck novel East of Eden! I learn something different from each of these writers, but mostly I’m just incredibly grateful for the pleasure of reading their work. If someone asks me this question next week, I’ll probably have an entirely different list.

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

The immensely talented Steven Meyer-Rassow did both the cover art and interior design for Horizon. I wanted to collaborate with someone whose style and artistry resonated with my own. Every single image of Steven’s that I could find was stunning, and when we discussed my project, I knew he really understood my vision. One of the things we talked about initially was the fact that Horizon would be a trilogy, and we’d like to “brand” the series somehow. So in addition to amazing cover artwork, Steve created a title treatment that will carry through and give all the future Horizon books a cohesive look.

Another thing we discussed was that while Horizon firmly belongs on the shelf with other sci-fi novels, it definitely crosses genres. The cover, therefore, needed to have wide appeal. It needed to be intriguing and eye-catching enough for non-sci-fi readers to pick it up, yet stylistically still fit in with its main genre.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Oh, for sure! First, finish something. A bad draft is better than no draft. Second, keep writing even when you feel stuck. Good habits will help you work through the blocks. But if I had to pick the most important thing for new writers it would be this: a first draft is nowhere near the finished product. This was shocking to me as a first-time novelist – although it shouldn’t have been! I knew edits were going to happen, but I had no idea how much work they would be. If I had to estimate, I would say that writing the first draft was only about one-third of the work. Editing and working through the business side of publishing made up the other two-thirds. What’s fun though, or at least what’s satisfying about the post-first-draft phase, is transforming the story from a rambling, exhaustive, stream of consciousness manuscript, to a work that has structure, flow, and even some artistry. I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing through editing.

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

The most important thing for me, as a writer, is to tell a good story. I write because I have to get these stories out of my head and onto the paper, but I also write for my readers and fans. I hope people fall in love with my characters and lose themselves in the plot. I hope they’re transported to different worlds. I hope they open my book and time flies away. This is what I want when I read, and I hope I can provide that experience for my fans!

horizon_cover_03_bTabitha Lord
North Kingstown, RI



Cover Artist: Steven Meyer-Rassow
Publisher: Wise Ink



Author Interview: David J. Pedersen

The goal of Author David J. Pedersen is escapism. He writes to entertain, and while there is often a lot going on in his stories, he works hard to make his books easy to read.  Please welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.

author-david-j-pedersenHi, I’m David J. Pedersen. I’ve been married for 23 years with a daughter in college and a son in law school. (I believe that means I’m old now.) I’m a technical consultant by trade. When I’m not working or with my family, I enjoy spending time with friends, video games, comic books, movies, all types of music, avoiding yardwork, bourbon, flirting, and going to Science Fiction/Fantasy/Comic Book Conventions. In between the cracks, I write books.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh, and entertaining in general. I discovered the best way to do this, and express myself, is through writing. I began writing stories in grade school and started sharing them with friends in high school. I never submitted anything for publication simply because I had a lot to learn about writing. Now that I know everything about writing, I’m a lot more confident (and I’m totally kidding. I’m more confident, but still have a lot to learn.) It took me about 40 years before I could calm my brain down enough to complete something worth sharing. Fortunately, the second book didn’t take as long.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

My first novel, Angst, was a lifetime goal that I could have easily walked away from and said, “did it!”. Finishing the second book “Buried in Angst” was reaffirming, that I had it in me to keep going. But it wasn’t until readers finished the second book and asked for more, that I felt like a writer.

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

Angst is the first in a series of five novels, and I’m close to completing book four, “Burning with Angst.” The protagonist, Angst, is 40 and going through a midlife crisis. His marriage is rocky, his friends don’t have time for him, and he hates his job filing papers since he always wanted to be a hero. Angst can also wield magic, which is mostly illegal. When it is discovered that magic is the only thing that can stop monsters that have suddenly appeared, Angst is given his chance to be a hero. It’s a “be careful what you wish for” story as he drags his reluctant friends on an adventure to discover where the monsters are coming from.

What inspired you to write this book?

A lot of books I read growing up were coming of age hero stories, and I loved them. Young people with great power and potential but no direction who meet a wise person that sends them on a path to becoming a hero. In reality, not everyone gets that life or gets to do what they want for a living. I mean, really, what about the people who wanted to be that hero but never got the chance? What if someone wanted to be a stay at home dad instead of a salesman? Or an amazing pianist that just didn’t get a break? I relate to this, but I also realize that getting what you want always comes at a price. Angst is that guy, the one who got passed up. I think it’s a fun spin on an old story, and having an older hero introduces a new set of challenges.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve known from the start of my first novel how each in the series would begin and end. When I begin a new novel, I also have in mind the major plot points throughout the novel, as well as an overall goal. I then write freestyle until roughly halfway through at which point I’ll outline for pacing.

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

Not only does the title reflect the sense of frustration the protagonist faces with his life, Angst is also the name of the hero.

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

It’s a little corny…okay, it’s really corny, but nothing should get in the way of your dreams. Not age or weight or height or race or social status. But, dreams rarely come true without a lot of work and sacrifice. A lot! It doesn’t always turn out the way you expect, but the hard work and sacrifice are part of what makes it worth the effort.

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

My wife claims the book series is an autobiography. I disagree since I don’t have a giant, magical sword. That said, my novels strongly reflect me. A friend from high school told me that reading the first book was like spending an evening talking to me. There are also things that happen in the books that I’ve pulled from my life. A great example is Scar, the black lab puppy in Angst. Our lab had cancer surgery and has a long scar along her ribs.

What authors have most influenced your life?

I grew up reading David Eddings and Piers Anthony, and later in life enjoyed reading a lot of Asimov and some Tom Wolfe.

What about them do you find inspiring?

Eddings and Anthony provided great escapism; the stories were fun and I loved the characters so much I missed them when I was done with the books. Asimov wrote great stories, and I’ve always been blown away by how prolific he was. Wolfe writes outside of my favorite genres, but I love his wordplay.

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

There aren’t any writers who make me say, “I want to write like that person!” I admire the sheer volume of books Asimov wrote. I love pretty much all of the characters in Rowling’s Harry Potter books, and the world she created. I would love to be as descriptive as Robin Hobb; I think she nails it. But, anytime I start comparing myself to others, I stop. All writers have their own voice, and if I have one goal, it’s to improve mine and make it stronger.

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

The cover has gone through several iterations, and this one is relatively new. For reasons, I had a different artist for each book in the series, and my favorite book cover is my third novel, “Drowning in Angst.” It kind of has a Harry Potter / Tim Burton thing going on, and I’ve had people buy the other books because of that cover. Because I like the artist’s work so much, and for consistency, he will do the cover art for as long as he can stand me. I think it’s a small miracle what he is able to accomplish based on the crappy sketches I send him.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Try to write every day, even if it’s only 300 words at a time because it all adds up. It also helps to exercise the writing part of your brain to keep it spry. When you get stuck, or frustrated, share your work. Share with people who are both supportive, but can offer constructive criticism. When you’re done with your manuscript and are sure it’s perfect, go find an editor. If it’s your first book, I highly recommend developmental editing to identify story inconsistencies, plot holes, or messy writing that you may not recognize and your alpha team of readers may forgive.

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

There are a lot of great writers, both traditionally published and indie. The best way to support them, beyond buying their books, is to tell others about their stories. My favorite authors have come from recommendations. Whether you tell a friend or post a review, it will keep the writer writing!
angst-bookcoverDavid J. Pedersen
Lee’s Summit, MO



Cover Artist: Alessandro Brunelli


No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksThank goodness it is Monday!  It is time for another batch of Writer’s Links from No Wasted Ink.  This week in addition to the regular writing tips, there are a few that focus on science fiction writing and book marketing.  Enjoy!


Permission to Begin. Courage to Continue. Forgiveness to Try Again.

How to Write a Science Fiction Novel Series: 6 Tips

Creating Characters That Resonate

The #1 Key to Relatable Characters: Backstory

Activate Your Writing with Powerful Verbs

Create Believable Characters: Assembly Required

How to Get Your Writing Done Every Day: The Three-Bucket System

6 Ways to Vet Freelance Editors

Why Your Book Isn’t Selling

What’s A Book Without A Cover by D.H. Aire



I was a closet sci-fi and fantasy writer for over twenty years. I stopped submitting stories in my twenties. The rejections were just too painful. But as the years went by, I couldn’t stop writing and I felt I was too old to care about rejections.

So my success in getting my first novel published caught me by surprise. It’s nice to have a publisher, who hires a cover artist and, if you’re lucky, seeks your approval of the cover. What do you do if you decide to self-publish and your book needs a cover?

My learning experience went something like this: my first book’s publisher asked me for a few sample cover ideas and sample back cover text. The cover that was created was lovely. The next book I published in the series was with a different small press, who asked me if there was a cover artist I’d like to work with.

At that point, I had been going to sci-fi conventions regularly. That helped me network, and a friend graciously sent out an email to three cover artists they knew, one of whom was available. The process at that point was similar. I provided several cover ideas, back cover text, and my book ended up with what I considered to be an excellent cover. The problem was, the looks were dissimilar. In other words, I didn’t feel they “branded” well. I next self-published the next two books in the same series, using the same artist and now had three novels with covers of a similar style. At that point, the sales of the series shot up and it happened to be when my contract was coming up for renewal with my first publisher.

As part of the renewal agreement, I negotiated for my cover artist to re-envision my first cover for the second printing. The publisher and I have been very pleased with the result, which effectively brands the entire series.

Now, I’ve launched a new series, which I was looking to have a signature look. So, I was interested in finding another artist. I tried the networking approach, but the search was not bearing fruit. That’s when I did an online search and checked out 99Designs (an online cover art service). They offer a contest approach. I thought that’s what I was going to do until I spoke with someone who had done a contest for a logo through 99Designs. That contest took up a week of my friend’s life. So, I checked out elance.com, which is now Upwork.com.

I was very specific about my project’s requirements, including my vision for the cover, who my intended market was, text for my cover, back cover text, etc. I posted my cover art project and let people bid. I could check out their portfolios or websites for examples of their work. I had four or five artists who looked like they might be a match.

I selected a European artist, whose price was in keeping with what I have been paying for my covers and her website portfolio was, well, spectacular. Her portfolio offered solid fantasy elements, which was important for my urban fantasy cover. I also was looking for someone who had a good command of English, since I wanted to prevent any misunderstandings about my project. Payment through the site is generally done through an escrow approach. The site takes a cut as the broker (Elance took 9%, Upwork offered to maintain that deal for those who transferred as part of the Elance takeover). Those seeking to freelance often also offer hourly rates for work, too. The site’s service offerings are broad, ranging beyond graphic arts and website design to bookkeeping and other freelance services.

I recently completed the process and I have received just the cover I was hoping for.

The process took a lot of give and take. I also showed the cover to members of my author group on Facebook to get their input and advice. I sought advice from colleagues at work, who told me what they liked and didn’t like, too, which the artist was more than happy to correct. Additionally, when I was trying to figure if the book would look better with the title at the bottom rather than the top, I went to Amazon and checked out other books in the genre to she which look I liked best.

The paperback cover took over a week to get “just right.” But my cover artist showed she’s a professional. I gave her latitude to show me options of what she thought could make the cover better. The point is to get readers to gravitate to my book. I hope they will… and I know that covers and books also change over time, so if it doesn’t “work,” one day I can change it for another edition.

I have spoken with authors over the last few years who have spent more than what I typically spend for cover art. Then again, I know authors who spend far less, cropping photos to create a great and inexpensive cover. Just know, if and when you need a cover artist, there are truly talented people all over the world who will love working with you to bring your book through their art to life.

Seeing my characters there on the cover, that glimpse into my story on an entirely different level is difficult for me to describe. The book, which I will all too soon hold in my hands, featuring those characters who are like family, will hopefully, just hopefully, invite readers who will soon become their friends, too.



D. H. Aire has walked the ramparts of the Old City of Jerusalem and through an escape tunnel of a Crusader fortress that Richard the Lionheart once called home. He’s toured archeological sites that were hundreds, if not thousands of years old… experiences that have found expression in his epic fantasy series with a science fiction twist, Highmage’s Plight and new Hands of the Highmage Series. The seventh and concluding book of his Highmage’s Plight Series, Paradox Lost is being released in 2017.

An Author of eleven fantasy and science fiction novels, including those in the urban fantasy Dare 2 Believe Series and the space opera Terran Catalyst Series, Aire’s short stories appear in a number of anthologies, including in Street Magick: Tales of Urban Fantasy. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Aire resides in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

This article originally appeared at dare2believe.


No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksPour yourself a cup of coffee and tea and settle back for another list of writer’s links.  This week I have more general writing tips, but also general advice about being an introvert, writing contests and a nice article about writing battle scenes that I found particularly useful.

How to Find the Right Critique Partner: The 6-Step Checklist

Author Career Planning

Indie Choices: Writing in Multiple Genres or Specializing


7 Tips about the Basic Needs and Stressors of Introverts

Adapt to Change and Become More Productive

3D Organogenesis in Science Fiction

Novel Writing Advice: How to Write Battle Scenes

Writing Tips: Carry a Notebook?

The Problem with Pen Names