Tag Archives: books

Author Interview: Taya DeVere

Author Taya is a Finnish-American author, equestrian, and a psychology enthusiastic, writing dystopian sci-fi. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Moi! Hello! My name is Teija DeVere (my author name is Taya DeVere). I was born in Sweden, grew up in Finland, moved away to England in my early 20’s, and continued to travel the world by moving to the states. I meant to stay in Vermont for a year, then hop on a plane again and go find another equestrian job in Spain. But when I happened to meet my partner-in-everything, Chris, on a wintery road trip to Portland, Maine… well, change of plans. Six weeks later, we got married. Over the next seven years, I lived and worked in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and California, until I dragged Chris and our zoo across the Atlantic to live in my home town Kaarina, Finland.

But all that aside, you are what you do, right? Therefore, I’m a ferocious writer. A curious digital marketer. A kind and soft-hearted equestrian. A dog owner who prefers bunnies over puppies (and therefore our house is filled with both). A person who believes that every single one of us is worth a third chance in life.

I devour stories about unlikely friendships. Get my craziest story ideas while lying in a hundred-degree sauna. Add green olives and ketchup in everything, and never miss a chance to tell a bad joke.

When and why did you begin writing?

Where? Durham, Maine. Just like Stephen King, though I didn’t know that at the time. When? I think it was around the summer of 2015. Why? After years of writing an expat blog to friends and family back home, (mostly about little things I found intriguing about living in the states, like coin laundries, French toast bagels, and how people often have popcorn for lunch), I decided to write something in English instead of Finnish. I wrote about the beautifully terrifying equestrian world and submitted my story to a magazine, got accepted, got addicted. I wrote articles and short stories for a long time, until one of the stories grew legs and ended up spreading into a novel. I’ve been hooked on writing books ever since.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Back when I was fifteen, my boyfriend waited in my room while I was having dinner with my parents. When I walked in – my belly full of green olives and ketchup – he was reading a five-page essay I had written about The Lord of the Rings. I was embarrassed he had read the paper; it was just something I whipped out because the due date was tomorrow. I’ll never forget the genuine surprise on his face when he said, “Teija, this is great writing. Like, really great.” It still took me years to accept that I was better than average in something, but that essay was the first time I considered it to be true.

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

The world as we know it is crumbling down. Things like the government, housing, jobs, food, inter-personal touch and conversation now cease to exist. You have to run and hide. But where?

That’s the random thought that started my dystopian sci-fi series “UNCHIPPED.” Though the main character of the story, Kaarina, is not based on me, her torn sneakers took her exactly where mine would; hiding under a slightly moldy horse blanket at a remote horse barn in the Finnish woods.

At the moment, I’m writing book 15/20, and I’m starting to experience separation anxiety from the Unchipped universe as the story is slowly closing to its end.

What inspired you to write this book?

Cultural differences. I thought of my life in Finland and how different it is from my life in the USA. I played around with the two nations switching places; in my head, I relocated all Americans to live in Finland and vice versa. This initial idea didn’t make it to the book but molded into an unlikely friendship between a quiet Finnish outcast girl, a witty and fun Californian guy, and their newly found connection through a brain chip implantation gone wrong.

Do you have a specific writing style?

That’s what I’m told, yes. Though my books are thoroughly edited and stripped of any “Finnglish” before publishing, my editors sometimes have a hard time deleting some of the “Teija-ism’s” in the books. Apparently, some Finnish thoughts and sayings are quite amusing in English. The last Teija-ism I recall was me calling sweatpants “college pants.”

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

Good question! I don’t remember the thought process exactly, but I do remember it being a sunny summer day. I was drinking ice tea on the back porch. Our bunnies jumped around with cheer and the dog was basking in the sun. While genuinely enjoying the moment, my mind somehow jumped into things like Armageddon, social issues, and telepathic connections. Then, a moldy barn. Then, a questionable government with a desperate need to control and save humanity. I guess the name, Unchipped, was an afterthought of the story idea.

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

Yes. Many. But I think more than anything, I wanted to challenge the reader’s conception of what it means for someone to be good or bad. How our need for ultimatums and simplicity can make us victims of confirmation bias.

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

Most of the characters are a mix of people I know. A lot of the events and “themes” in the books are based on challenging moments and eras in my life. None of these times are good or bad; all of them are important pieces of the (slightly damaged) puzzle that I am today.

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

Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last started my love for dystopian sci-fi. Her sense of humor is beyond intelligent. Her stories have an uncanny way of processing complex social dilemmas, psyche, and humanity in a thrilling but easy-to-gasp way.

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

Funny, but now that I think about it… I consider my editors to be my mentors. Especially the development editing process teaches me so much. And not just about story structure or language, but about life itself. I really lucked out finding my team. Knowing that someone will give you honest feedback and gently guide you to make the story flow better helps me become a less cautious writer. Brave, with a hint of insanity. That’s the on-going goal.

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

Deranged Doctor Design (DDD) designed all my Unchipped covers. I believe it was Chris who initially found their website and then showed me a few sci-fi covers that I found to be superb.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Know your genre tropes and what the market demands, but only write stories that truly inspire you. Book research is the key; I find that my best stories are about things that I want to read and then write about, almost obsessively.

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

I’ve had so many moments of despair while reading through the same draft for the eleventh time, and wondering if the story’s message will come through or not. When publishing a new book, I feel vulnerable beyond belief. But the feedback I’ve gotten for my stories has been overwhelmingly positive and helpful. At this point (still under a year since Book 1 came out), I remember most reviews I’ve gotten by heart. Thank you for helping me be better, but most of all, thank you for being a reader!


Taya DeVere
Kaarina, Finland

FACEBOOK
GOODREADS
INSTAGRAM

UNCHIPPED: KAARINA

Cover Artist: Deranged Doctor Design
Publisher: DVM Press

AMAZON

Author Interview: Nicole Weaver

When I asked Author Nicole Weaver to describe her writing style, she replied: “There will always be consequences in my novels.” Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Nicole Weaver. My day job is in a research and development lab where I use scanning electron microscopes. It is incredibly cool. That said, my passion is creating stories. From tabletop roleplaying, to video games, to reading and writing stories, I adore sharing imaginations with other people. My favorite stories are generally Sci-fi and Fantasy, but I love a good horror book too. I am a trans woman, and my pronouns are she/her.

When and why did you begin writing?

I have always been told that I write well. Friends and family alike used to regularly suggest that I take up writing. I took it more seriously when my college professors started suggesting it as well, but I still wasn’t sure writing was for me. Then, in 2017, I was dealing with a common problem among Dungeons and Dragons players. My campaign of over a year had fizzled due to conflicting schedules. This pushed me to finally sit down and think about which parts of running a campaign I enjoyed the most.
Some people love the technical side of fitting the rules together into a seamless encounter. Others love to play practical jokes on their players. The answer for me is that I love to tell stories and I adore the look on someone’s face when they are recounting events from our shared adventures…so here I am.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I wrote an 8,000 word short story, poured my heart and soul into it, and was told it sucked. Rather than giving up, I wrote it again from scratch, attended some writing classes, and rewrote it again.

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

Encrypted takes place in a world that was nearly identical to our own until around 2009 when a completely unexpected total Solar Eclipse occurred. Later that day, some people discovered they possess special powers that seem to break the rules of physics. Levitation, fire generation, telepathy, all this became possible to the people who would eventually be known as Primes.

As if that wasn’t a big enough shock, enormously powerful creatures known as Daemons appeared across the Earth that same day, bent on devouring any living thing they come across. So far, all attempts at nonviolent solutions have failed in a rush of gnashing teeth.

Samantha Gray, is a girl far from the worst of the Daemons, still trying to unlock who she truly is. Before now, she has had few opportunities to make choices about her own future. The only thing she really knows about herself is that she hates the Primes who abuse their powers and force everyone else to live by their arbitrary and self-serving rules. Samantha hates Heroes.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write a story about an LGBTQ protagonist where that is the least interesting thing about her. Our lives and stories are so much richer than which letter of the alphabet shows up in our descriptions of ourselves.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I would say I have a distinctive style, but not a specific style. Though only the first novel has been published, I have three worlds I am writing in, the superhero World of Primes, an Isekai story of Purple Lightning Games, and my fantasy Clock Universe. Each of them is written purposely in a different style distinctive to that world.

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

I was in my third or fourth draft when I made a pun to one of my Beta Readers about the title. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized the title fit the novel extremely well. In a very real way, Samantha is an enigma to herself at the start of the book. Her fight to find out who she is forms the backbone of the story.

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

It was easy growing up to see how the people with power were only willing to allow me to pursue happiness of a very specific kind. They made it clear that I would only be allowed to pursue happiness on their terms.

I hope everyone who reads Encrypted is encouraged to fight tooth and nail for their happiness, and not for some cut down version that someone else decided they are allowed to have. Be stubborn. Be strong. Most of all, understand that sometimes those things mean hiding who you are until you have the power to control your own life.

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

In some ways, yes. Samantha definitely picked up my snark, and one of the major characters is based on my partner. The events are entirely fictional, but I brought them to life with my own emotional experiences growing up around people who I couldn’t trust.

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

Some of the modern authors are Brandon Sanders, Patricia Briggs, and Laurel K. Hamilton.

The most inspiring thing about them is the size and intricacy of the worlds they create. I still read their incredible stories and think about why their characters are so engaging and fun, even while writing my own novels.

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

Brandon Sanderson. I have listened to every year of his Creative Writing courses on YouTube, multiple times. I strongly believe I would not be a writer if I had not come across his videos. I was already impressed with his skills, but he absolutely shines in those videos as he shares the craft we both love. If I ever get the chance to meet him in person, I will have a huge thank you ready for him.

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

Matt Akin. He was recommended by a mutual friend. After seeing his art, I was instantly excited to be working with him. He was extremely nice and helped reduce my stress as a self-published author by keeping the process relaxed and friendly.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Stick your ego in a jar with an airtight lid and let it suffocate. Writing is an iterative process that requires we viciously tear into our own work and cut out the pieces that do not fit. For every book, I keep a word document for the sole purpose of saving the paragraphs I loved too much to delete, but that had to be removed to improve the story.

Another important idea is that when someone gives you feedback, don’t instantly change something. Instead, pay very close attention to why they are suggesting the change.

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

It is okay to be scared. It is okay to be unsure about who you are, all of us are at various points in our lives. It doesn’t matter if it’s because you are LGBTQ, or simply because you have no idea what you will do with yourself in a life of uncertainties.

Take a deep breath and focus on what you can do to make the situation better. Even if the only thing you can do is keep your head above water for a few months until another opportunity comes along.


Nicole Weaver
Boise Idaho

FACEBOOK
GOODREADS

Encrypted


Cover artist: Matt Akin

AMAZON

Author Interview: Bill McCormack

I asked Author Bill McCormack (aka Bill McScifi) how he would describe himself as a writer.  He said, “I tend to write dark stuff for adult audiences. It’s not something I do consciously, it just seems that somehow, somewhere, someone needs to be skinned alive with a titanium cheese slicer.”  Please welcome him here to No Wasted Ink.

Author Bill McCormickHi there, my name’s Bill McCormick and I’m a science fiction writer who lives in South Chicago with my fiancée. Before writing science fiction, I did occasional articles for music magazines and sports blogs. Overlapping that I worked as a touring musician and eased into management when it became clear I was going to live my life in bars if I kept playing bass in public. I went on to work with James Brown and many others.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always written for fun and intermittent profit. But, in 2010, I’d lost my job, my wife, and most of my reasons to live. I decided to dust off some ideas I’d had and immerse myself in fantasy worlds for a while. It was a rude, but semi-effective, form of therapy. Oddly, some early beta readers of the stories I was writing said nice things behind my back and I started putting more effort into it. I was able to get a job with a consulting company that gave me some freedom, so I used my free time to write. I cranked out multiple short stories, and garnered multiple rejection letters, until 2011 when I sold And the Beat Goes Phut to Bewildering Stories. That’s when I circled back to a story I’d tried to write a couple decades earlier. I trimmed it, dramatically, and began work on what I hoped would be a novella. It ended up being a trilogy. Oh well.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve always used the term to describe my life goals, but I started using it as a personal descriptor in 2017. By then I’d left my job and concentrated exclusively on writing. I had two comic book series, several one-offs coming, and The Brittle Riders was out and doing well. Being that I was fifty-six at the time, it was a risk. But, so far, so good.

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

SPLICE: HIT BIT TECHNOLOGY is both an interesting and cautionary tale. It starts with a ten-year-old, African American, boy being tossed out of a car in Omaha, Nebraska. He has a crisp fifty dollar bill his father gave him, before tossing him out, and not much else. It is very much a road story as he travels first into Omaha proper, and then across the U.S., until he ends up in the Marines while trying to do a favor for the New York mob. The name comes from a fictionalization of Elon Musk’s theories about enhancing humans with cybernetic implants.

What inspired you to write this book?

Funny story. A gentleman named Tye Feimster, owner of ©Watchdog Entertainment®, had a series of comics he asked me to review. As I did, I noticed one character in the background of all of them and I wanted to know him more. So, I wrote a ten-page sample of what I wanted to do with the character and submitted it. He liked it, but … you knew there was a but, he wasn’t sure he wanted to do a comic. My writing seemed more cinematic. One thing led to another and I signed a deal to write a movie. When I finished the movie I tried, again, to sell the comic as an ancillary and complementary intellectual property. I said I wanted to add some elements that weren’t in the film to give it depth. Tye thought that was a great idea but asked me to write a novel instead. Azoth Khem had the whole thing under contract before I’d finished chapter one. So, short answer, I tried to make a few bucks selling a comic and it all blew up.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Well, as author Steve Silver has noted, “McCormick says more in twelve words than others do in twelve paragraphs.” While that may be a tad hyperbolic, I do tend to be terse. Nancy Chandler, the owner of Azoth Khem, joked that The Brittle Riders was three hundred thousand words of gut punching sentences. SPLICE, however, is even more terse. It clocks in just under one hundred thousand words and I broke them out into eighty chapters to keep the story moving at breakneck speed.

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

Well, SPLICE was the character’s name in the comic books and Tye wanted to add Hit Bit Technology as it’s the link in all of his comics.

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

Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40). This kid goes through hell. Being an abandoned black kid in a primarily white city, already made somewhat paranoid by his parents, he never really catches a break. He learns early to be as invisible as possible. There are no heroes in this book. Splice grows up to be a super villain with an inexplicable support group.

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

Some of the experiences he goes through are based on stories I have heard from friends. The early strangers in the book are based on lonely old people who would talk to me on planes as I was shuttling between families. They tend to offer information no one cares about. Like how Herbie likes tacos with American cheese.

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

The holy trilogy, Heinlein, Asimov, and Clark, of course, but Walter M. Miller, A. E. Van Vogt, Clifford D. Simak, and Octavia Butler really punched my buttons. They wrote some brain bending stuff and my brain bent happily.

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

David Brin. Mostly because he has answered questions for me and given pointed advice. Also, he’s proud of his growth from his early work, and isn’t ashamed of how much better his stuff is now.

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

Tye and I knocked it out in an afternoon. We both have experience in graphics and knew what we wanted.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t be afraid to suck. You’re going to no matter what so just do it and move on. I once wrote “The yielding shall never commence” and thought it was good. It wasn’t, isn’t, and I learned.

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

Well, this group is your readers, but I hope some of them will become mine.

Splice Book CoverBill McCormick
Chicago, IL

FACEBOOK
TWITTER
INSTAGRAM
PINTEREST
GOODREADS

SPLICE: HIT BIT TECHNOLOGY

Publisher: Azoth Khem Publishing

AMAZON
WALMART
BARNES&NOBLE

 

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Welcome to No Wasted Ink’s top ten writers links. This week I have many great writing tip articles for you, but also a sad obituary about author Norton Juster. I’ve been a fan of “The Phantom Tollbooth” since I was a child, and I note his passing with a regretful heart. I found another article about Heinlein’s 5 rules for writers. If you haven’t heard of his guidelines, it is worth checking out. Enjoy your week!


When Everything Changes – Capturing Profound Character Moments
Finding Your Way to the End
Picture Books for Older Readers
Tips for Working With a Social Media Assistant
Amazon withholds its ebooks from libraries because it prefers you pay it instead
The Phantom Tollbooth Author Norton Juster Has Died at 91
Make a Living at Writing?
Six Principles for Becoming a Better Worldbuilder
Heinlein’s Rules of Writing: Principles for Success
5 Ways to Use a Reading Journal to Improve Your Writing

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Happy Monday! It is time for another round of writers links from No Wasted Ink. I’m excited by the new Scrivener 3 update. Have you heard about it? Below is a link to a great article on the steps to take to install the new program. There are a few more production and writing tips for you to enjoy too. Have a great week!

What is Prose Poetry?
Scrivener 3 For Windows Has Arrived!
The 10 Deadly Sins of Bad Editors
7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters
How to Critique Other Writers’ Work
There are some things a poet cannot accept
How Not To Make A Book Launch Video
How to Give a Great Podcast Author Interview
Using Novel Writing Techniques in Your Memoir
All Four ‘Avengers’ Movies Are Getting Shakespeare Adaptations