Tag Archives: books

Author Interview: Erin Michelle Sky & Steven Brown

Erin Michelle Sky & Steven Brown live and write in rural Georgia. Together, they are the writing team known as Dragon Authors, writing fantasy and science fiction for teens and adults. Please welcome them both to No Wasted Ink.

Author Erin Michelle SkyWe are Erin Michelle Sky & Steven Brown. We live in rural Georgia on a couple of small farms, we both love writing, and neither one of us can resist a good story! Together, we are the writing team known as Dragon Authors, writing fantasy and science fiction novels for teens and adults.

When and why did you two begin writing?

When Steven was nine, he started writing stories for his younger brothers. They got to be the main characters and had grand adventures! Eventually, he turned these stories into plays, which they put on for the neighborhood kids, charging a quarter each to fund future productions.

Erin always loved books, but she didn’t start writing until she read Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. Devastated that she couldn’t grow up to be a dragon rider, she decided to be an author instead, which seemed like the next best thing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Everyone is a writer. Telling a story about your day or about your childhood, whether to entertain, to share, or to inspire—that’s writing!

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

Definitely! The Intuitives is a story about six vastly different teens (well, five teens and one tween) who are recruited by Homeland Security to attend a summer program in an isolated lodge in Wyoming. But the program isn’t what it appears to be, and they have to band together to figure out what they’re really doing there. The thing that stands out to us about writing it is how real the characters felt. It was almost as though they wrote the story themselves.

What inspired you to write this book?

We both love writing stories, so that’s always inspirational! But for this particular book, we wanted the story to reflect the tremendous value we see in teamwork—and also to show that no matter how different you might think you are from someone else, that doesn’t have to stop you from being friends and maybe even accomplishing something amazing together. Neither one of us could have written any of our books without the other. We write as a team because our stories are much stronger when we bring our skills, experiences, and perspectives together.

Do you have a specific writing style?

That depends so much on what we’re writing! We have a young adult rewrite of Peter Pan on Patreon. It’s set in 1790 England with Wendy as the hero. The writing is lighthearted and playful, with elements of action and danger and romance for tension. The Intuitives, on the other hand, is written in a modern, straightforward style, with hints of a more lyrical influence. And we have a few projects we can’t talk about yet that are entirely different again. Each story provides the reader with a unique experience, and we want the voice of each book to match that experience.

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

Intuitively! But seriously, all six of the kids in the book are highly intuitive, each in his or her own way. The team is the most important thing, rather than any individual character, and the title spoke to us because it captured that essence. As a bit of trivia, the book originally had a subtitle, but we decided it was too much of a spoiler so we cut it at the last minute. We’d tell you what it was, but we hate spoilers!

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

First and foremost, we hope The Intuitives will be a fun and entertaining read. That’s always our main goal! But it’s also a story about how people can work together to accomplish something much bigger than anyone could have done alone. We hope it inspires readers to realize that no matter how small anyone’s role on a team might feel, every single one of those roles matters. What you bring to the world matters. What every single person brings to the world matters.

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

Of course! And at the same time, emphatically no. All good writing borrows from your own life. A sarcastic comment might remind you of a sarcastic friend, a bubbly outburst might remind you of your bubbly cousin, etc. And yes, a few of the specific things in the novel were taken from our own lives, but you’ll have to guess which ones!

At the same time, none of the characters in The Intuitives is based on any particular person. They are all very much their own individuals, and we can’t help but feel it was the characters themselves who came together to write the story.

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

For Steven, J.R.R. Tolkein, R.A. Salvatore, Terry Brooks, and Margaret & H.A. Rey, the creators of Curious George. They all sparked his imagination with magic and adventure, fueling his love of fantasy. For Erin, Anne McCaffrey set her on the path to becoming an author, and Janet Burroway, author of The Truck on the Track, showed her how much fun playing with language could be.

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

We mentor each other. It’s one of the best things about being a writing team! Steven says he learns a lot from Erin about making a fictional universe feel real. Erin says she learns a lot from Steven about capturing the reader’s attention and building that tension throughout the novel.

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

We held a contest on 99designs.com for original cover art, and the winning design came from an artist named Eugen Zhuravel. We felt that it best captured the essence of the novel, with a sense of magic and ancient mystery.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Find people who are positive about your writing, support each other, and don’t give up. They don’t even have to be writers! Create your own group of intuitives, and decide together to accomplish your dreams, whatever they may be. Don’t try to do it. Decide to do it. Then work together to make it happen!

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

Thank you! You’d be surprised how big a part YOU play in the creation of any book, and no author ever made a living at writing without readers. Every single one of you matters, and we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!

Intuitives Book CoverErin Michelle Sky & Steven Brown
Georgia farm country, USA

PATREON
TWITTER
FACEBOOK
INSTAGRAM

The Intuitives

Cover Artist: Eugen Zhuravel
Publisher: Trash Dogs Media LLC

GOODREADS 

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

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Here we are, Link Day!  This week, No Wasted Ink has a grab bag of articles to help authors figure out how to do their work more effectively from convention tables, podcasting, distribution efforts, and creating relationships with other authors.  This is a fun one and a must read.  Pour your coffee.  Ready.  Set. Read!

Want to be more productive? Don’t go paperless.

How to Develop Relationships with Other Writers

Podcasts for SF/F Writers

DISTRIBUTION 101

8 1/2 Tips for How to Write Opening and Closing Lines Readers Will Love to Quote

Tips for busy bibliophiles who have trouble finding time to read

The Engine of Fiction—Meet the Antagonist

How Deep Work Makes You A Better and More Productive Writer

Hand-Selling: How to Kill It at Book and Comic Conventions

WORKING WITH PROJECTS IN SCRIVENER FOR IOS (W/VIDEOS)

Author Interview: Katie Taylor

With fifteen professionally produced book titles under her belt, Author Katie J Taylor is an experienced pro.  I am delighted to introduce her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author K.J

My name is Katie J Taylor, and I was born in Canberra, Australia in 1986. I have a Master’s Degree in Information Studies and when I’m not writing I work as an archivist. I love movies and have a ridiculously huge collection of soundtracks, and I also enjoy drawing and various crafts – I sew custom-designed plush toys for fun and occasionally take commissions.

When and why did you begin writing?

In Primary School, when I was quite young. We were often given class work writing short stories and poems and such, and I took to it right away. I had a fascination with expressing things I’d felt and experienced through little poems and the like. I remember once when I was upset because the bullies had had a go at me, I sat down and wrote a poem about it and that made me feel better. I didn’t start trying to write novels until was about thirteen, though.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think it was when I was in my mid teens and had decided I wanted to be published more than anything. Then it stopped being a hobby and became a calling and lifelong ambition.

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

The Price of Magic is set in a world where the sick and handicapped have magical powers. The worse the affliction, the more powerful the magic. The protagonist, Pip, is a chirpy undersized boy with a crippled leg. He isn’t particularly powerful, but he has a gift other mages like himself lack: the ability to truly listen to another person. When he meets Seress, one of the most powerful mages in the world, Pip must find a way to help her through her crippling depression in order to save magic from being destroyed forever.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was having a bit of a rough time, suffering from severe anxiety – a problem which troubles me from time to time but had never been so bad before. I did the sensible thing and went to see a therapist, and while I was waiting for my next appointment I started to feel angry and resentful. True, I had the ability to create things many can’t, but why did I have to be such a screwup? It occurred to me then that most artists are screwups or sick in one way or another; some of us suffer from chronic illnesses (myself included), some of us are bipolar, some of us are depressed – the list goes on. I came up with the idea for The Price of Magic right there and then. The magic in the series is analogous for art and creativity, and in some ways this is my most personal work to date.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write in a very straightforward manner and avoid flowery language or overly elaborate description. I also keep my dialogue relatively straightforward and without any frills – characters only use fancy language when they’re making speeches, which doesn’t happen often, and often not even then. I suspect my style is influenced by a lot of the English novels I read when I was younger.

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

Simple enough! The theme of the story is how art (or magic) always comes with a price. This is one of the rare titles I was able to nail on the first try.

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

I avoid putting overt messages in anything I write, so any messages that are in there emerge naturally and it sometimes takes me a while to figure out what they are. True, I started out with a very definite theme, but I had no particular “lesson” in mind. I deliberately treated all the characters as even-handedly as possible; I have nothing but contempt for the cliché of the “noble retard” or the “inspirational sick/crippled person”. As someone who is mentally, shall we say different from other people, I just want to be treated like a human being and I’m sure the rest of us feel the same. If there is a message here at all, it’s that no matter what your difficulties in life, you still have something to contribute, and you are still a person no matter how strange and abnormal you and others may think.

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

I have Asperger’s Syndrome which wasn’t diagnosed until I was 16, so I’m pretty familiar with feeling like an outsider too weird and “stupid” to fit in. Pip, the protagonist, isn’t an Aspie but he has something of the excitement and curiosity I had about the world around me when I was a child (before I became bitter and cynical, hahah). When it comes to Seress, I drew on experiences I’ve had in dealing with severely depressed people, which is why I didn’t sugercoat it. Having depression is terrible, but it takes almost as much of a toll on the sufferer’s loved ones. Hence Pip is seen slowly succumbing to sadness after trying to cheer Seress up eventually exhausts him. But I wanted to emphasise that Seress isn’t just “the depressed character” – she’s a very nice, kind-hearted and intelligent woman who happens to be sick.

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

William Horwood is a big one. His Duncton Wood series has been a lifelong favourite of mine, and his themes of spirituality, redemption and the mysteries of the past always fascinated me. J.K.Rowling is an inspirational figure to me as a person because in the face of everything she has always stayed classy and has refused to let wealth and success change her. I really enjoyed Harry Potter as well. When I was younger I was a massive Discworld fan, which is where I got my interest in deconstructing and subverting genre tropes.

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

The illustrator and cover design were chosen by the publisher.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I could rattle off a few platitudes about how you should write every day, etc. etc. but instead, I’ll say this: Publishing is hard. Incredibly, ridiculously, painfully, I-want-to-jump-off-a-bridge-in-frustration hard. Therefore, if you want to be happy in your chosen profession, make it about the writing and to heck with money and success, because for most of us there will never be any. If it makes you happy, that’s great. If it makes other people happy as well, that’s even better! After over a decade in the business, it’s all I truly care about now.

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

All I have to say to them is in my books. What I myself have to say in person is really not that important.

Price of Magic CoverK.J.Taylor
Canberra, ACT

FACEBOOK
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The Price of Magic

Cover Artist: Sabrina RG Raven
Publisher: Black Phoenix

AMAZON

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

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Happy Monday everyone!  It is time for another top 10 of writing links here on No Wasted Ink.  Most of the links are general writing tips this time around, but there is an amusing article about male authors and another one about science fiction writing that I found very interesting.  I hope you do too!  Enjoy.

Proofing, editing and cover art turn great storytelling into a great product

Novel Point of View is NOT Camera Angle

This Hashtag Shows That Male Authors’ Wives Are Unsung Heroes

Storytelling Through Costume: The Woman in White

FACING THE BLANK CANVAS

WRITERS, STOP NOT STARTING! UNDERSTANDING AND BEATING PROCRASTINATION

Are These Filter Words Weakening Your Fiction?

Description: Effective Sensory Impressions

Cheat Sheets For Writing Body Language

Dystopian dreams: how feminist science fiction predicted the future

Author Interview: Debbie Manber Kupfer

Fantasy writer and puzzle maker, Debbie Manber Kupfer believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can do anything. I’m pleased to welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

author-debbie-manber-kupferHi there, thanks so much for having me. I’m Debbie Manber Kupfer and I’m a writer, puzzle maker, mom, cat lover, and tea drinker! I grew up in London, spent time in Israel, New York, and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis, MO, where I live with my husband, two kids and a very opinionated feline called Miri Billie Joe.

I divide my time between writing fiction and writing puzzles for magazines and my blog, Paws 4 Puzzles. I get through my day by drinking about a gallon of hot tea with milk and rewarding myself with the occasional piece of dark chocolate.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve pretty much always written. I remember as a kid I would fill notebooks with stories and once even sent one to the Puffin Post. It was about turning into a ladybug and the problems that created. (See even back then I wrote about shapeshifters!). I got a mention in the magazine and was so thrilled and knew I wanted to be a writer.

But life took over and over the years that followed though I started many books I never finished anything. Then in 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through surgery, chemo and radiation and today thankfully I’m cancer free, but my brush with mortality made me realize that if I really wanted to write a book I needed to do it. So during November of 2012, I started writing P.A.W.S. Five years later I have two novels and a number of published short stories and am about to release book 3 of my series this March.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Not until my first book was published in 2013. It became real the day I held the paperback of P.A.W.S. in my hands.

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

P.A.W.S. is the story of a young girl, Miri, who receives a silver cat charm from her grandmother, Celia, on the night before Celia dies. Little does she know but the charm contains a secret, a powerful magic that saved Celia from the Nazis and is about to make Miri’s life a whole lot more interesting.

What inspired you to write this book?

Back in October 2012, I woke up one morning with an idea. I clearly saw a young girl being passed a cat charm and knew it was important. I started talking to my daughter about the story that was growing inside me and she encouraged me to write it.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m mostly a discovery writer (or pantser if you will). I have a basic idea where my series is going, but only a rough idea how we will get there, and I truly enjoy the ride along the way.

How did you come up with the title of this book?
P.A.W.S. is an acronym for the magical society in which Miri finds herself. It stands for the Partnership of Animagi, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters.

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

There are many messages in this story. I, like Miri, was bullied as a child, so her story resonates with me. I believe there’s a lot more to most people than you see on the surface and my stories are all about scratching beneath that surface.

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

Yes, even though I write fantasy many of the characters and situations in my books are based on people that have had an important part in my life. For example the kangaroo animagus exchange student at P.A.W.S., Joey Marks is based off my son Joey who shares a lot of his traits. Smart, enthusiastic, bouncy – with a love for games and puzzles.

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

JK Rowling, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. These four are my writing gods. I can revisit their books over and over again and always find something new. It’s all in the little details and in the humor.

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

I have one. My personal friend and critique partner, Larry Miller. Larry writes a completely different genre to me (literary fiction), but we’ve been critiquing each other’s work for so long now that we wholly get and trust each other’s judgement. Finding someone like this if you’re a writer is gold. Hold on to them.

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

The superbly awesome Rachel Bostwick. She also creates my book trailers. Find her on Fiverr. She’s wonderful to work with and very reasonable.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you haven’t yet, try NaNoWriMo. It really helps me get my first drafts done and the support of other writers in my local chapter and online is phenomenal.

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

Please write to me! I love hearing from fans and try to reply to every single note.

book-cover-pawsDebbie Manber Kupfer
St. Louis, MO

FACEBOOK
TWITTER
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE
GOODREADS
YOUTUBE
PAWS4THOUGHT
PAWS4PUZZLES

P.A.W.S.

Cover Artist: Rachel Bostwick

AMAZON US
AMAZON UK
BARNES & NOBLE