Tag Archives: books

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome to another Monday of writer’s links! There are articles about the return of the typewriter, in a most unusual place, writing tips, and hints on how to work with your editor. Enjoy!

The Typewriter Is Back — to Save Privacy

Authors and Publicity – Where to Start?

Avoid the Passive Voice with Zombies


Best Chrome extensions for writers

Writing Lessons from Quitting Sugar

Make a Book: It Takes a Team

A Love Letter to my Editor

Dive into Pre-Writing in Five Easy Steps!

Why you shouldn’t wait until you’re done writing to hire an editor

Author Interview: Mariam Kobras

I original met Mariam on twitter and have been chatting with each other ever since. I hope you’ll enjoy her interview here on No Wasted Ink.

Mariam Kobras - AuthorMy name is Mariam Kobras, I’m married with two sons, and I live in Hamburg, Germany. I’m nobody special, just another housewife and football mom who one day decided to write down the stories that kept her awake at night. I’ve done many things in my life: after university (American Lit.) I was a corporate wife for many years, managed an American Football team, taught theater and musicals and dabbled in politics and the PTA.
The one thing I never managed to do properly was bake a cake.

When and why did you begin writing?

Not so long ago, actually. I wanted to be a journalist when I was a teenager and wrote some stories back then. But my serious writing began in 2009. That’s when I wrote my first book, The Distant Shore, within a few months. I can’t really say why I started writing. The story had been on my mind for a very long time, and one morning I woke up and decided it was time to write it down. There was this one scene that kept coming back to me, when Jon and Naomi meet again after so many years. I used to lie awake and play that out in my mind, the words they’d say, what they’d feel, how Naomi would react to seeing him. And then, one winter morning just before Christmas 2008, I decided to write. My husband went out and bought me my first laptop, and that was it.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

My publisher has a very neat way of saying this: “When you write, you’re a writer. When you get published, you’re an author.” I like that distinction.
So – I considered myself a writer pretty soon after I began writing, but I had no idea if I’d ever be an author.

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

Song of the Storm is the third book in the Stone Trilogy. After all they’ve been through in Book One and Book Two, Jon and Naomi at last find the peace to settle down in their Brooklyn house. While they follow their dream and stage a musical they’ve written together, Sal, Jon’s manager, falls in love with a young woman of Pakistani descent.

Just when it seems that everything is going well for them, they have to face the tragedy of September 11th, 2001. Each one of them goes through that day, but they do it in very different ways.

What inspired you to write this book?

A twitter discussion about 9/11, on the day of the tenth anniversary. I was talking with friends about how we went through that day, and how it has affected us. As you know, I’m German, and I was at home with our youngest son when we got the news that a plane had crashed into World Trade Center. When I said in that twitter discussion how terrible and horrific that day had been for all of us, I was attacked by one person who said that as a non-American I had no right to feelings about 9/11.

I think I do. I think everyone has. That day, many people died, and many suffered. A few years earlier, my husband and I had been in the World Trade Center, visiting the offices of the company he was working for at that time. They were on the 79th floor. We had coffee with his colleagues. I took photos of Manhattan from up there.

So that’s what I tried to write about: how others perceived that day, and how that act of terror changed the world for everyone, not only Americans.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t know! I guess so, doesn’t every author?
Oh wait – here’s something that might be specific. For some reason I haven’t been able to figure out I prefer to see the world through my male protagonists’ eyes. I find it hard to write from a woman’s perspective. Is that specific?
And I write in 3rd person, past tense: the classic narration.

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

Well – Jon is a musician. A composer, a songwriter. He’d probably write songs about 9/11 and what he experienced there. And I think he’d call that album “Songs of the Storm”. After all, it was a storm. A storm that went all around the world.

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

No, I don’t think so. It’s a romance novel, after all is said and done. If there’s a message in my books, it’s that love always wins, and that the most important things in life are forgiveness and tolerance. I’m a pretty basic and straightforward person. I make my characters struggle for those things, all the time

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

Not on someone I know. My characters are totally made up. My publisher said that my Jon Stone reminds her of Bruce Springsteen. I can live with that, even though I didn’t have him in mind when I invented Jon Stone. As to events: the tales some people in Song of the Storm tell about how they lived through 9/11 are real. I have friends in New York City, and I asked them to tell me how that day went for them. Their stories are retold nearly verbatim here. It’s my tribute to them, and to the trauma they had to go through. I hope nothing like this every happens again, nowhere in the world.

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

John Galsworthy, Sigrid Undset, Naguib Mahfus, Thomas Wolfe. I like their scope, their flowing sentences, their grasp of human nature. That’s what I want to write about. It’s endlessly fascinating.

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

None. I firmly believe that you can’t teach writing. You can teach the techniques, like grammar, spelling, a couple of other, basic things, but I really believe that every writer must make their own way, find their own, unique style and voice. I know there are many, many sites with “advice for writers” and I know a lot of writers who read them. But how would you teach writing? Every writers has their own way of looking at the world, and expressing what they see.

If there’s anyone who I’d consider my mentor it’s Mary Chris Bradley of Buddhapuss Ink. She’s my publisher, my friend, and she taught me all I need to know about being an author. In fact, she’s still teaching me.

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

My books are all designed by my publisher, Buddhapuss Ink.

The art on them are original paintings by Eric G. Thompson. He very graciously permitted us to use them. I came across the painting that’s on The Distant Shore on Facebook one day, and it immediately struck a chord. His paintings are magical, wonderful. I hope I can talk Buddhapuss Ink to stick with him for my future books.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Only one: write. Don’t talk about writing, don’t tweet or blog or post on Facebook about it, just put your butt in your chair and write your heart out. Don’t bother about what others tell you, don’t think about what others would want to read, don’t worry about trends. Just write the story that’s in you. Write the book you want to read.

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

Oh, yes! Thank you! I want to hug them all and tell them how much I love that they love my books! I love that they keep pestering me for release dates of the new book, that when I’m sick they send me a gazillion get well messages, and add, “When can you write again?”
Thank you, darlings!

Song of the StormMariam Kobras
Hamburg, Germany

Cover Artist: Eric G. Thompson



No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome to another Monday of Writer’s Links! This time around I seemed to land on podcasts and video interviews more than usual, but all are well worth taking a look at. Enjoy!

Creative People Say No

Joss Whedon’s Top 10 Writing Tips

Scrivener Saturday: Importing Files

6 Ways to Make Sure Your Reader’s Brain Syncs with Your Protagonist’s Brain

Does Twitter Make Sense for Most Writers?

8 Online Productivity Tools For Writers

Listen up! 5 Podcasts for Freelance Writers

Learning the Secret to Mastery: An Interview with Robert Greene

Learning to Fly: Inspiration and Motivation

PODCAST: How to Market a Book if You Have No Audience

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksIt is just another manic Monday here at No Wasted Ink. Come and enjoy the latest batch of writing related links!

How to Write your Memoir

What does a comma do, exactly? Comma use in the modern age

The Art of Relocation

10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Setting

Authors on the Importance of Writing the Final Chapter First


8 Promises You’re Making to Readers—and Then Breaking

Writing Aversion Disorder

How The Pomodoro Technique Can Help You Draft Your Book In Just 3 Weeks – While Still Having A Life

What Not to Think About When You’re Writing

Author Interview: Victoria Grefer

I met Victoria via google+. I enjoyed many of her posts there and eventually we fell to chatting about writing. I decided to download her novel The Crimson League and discovered a delightful fantasy novel. Naturally, I needed to invite her for an interview here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Victoria GreferMy name is Victoria Grefer. I’m a fantasy novelist, and I’ve always loved language, especially foreign languages. I studied Spanish in college, and I’m fluent. I can also read French and Portuguese. I love American football, and even once had a professor tell me once, “It’s not often you associate the hyper-intellectual with the sports fan.” I still don’t know whether to consider that a compliment or to be offended, but I know my football stats. I also love cats, and cribbage, and sitcoms.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing in the third grade. My first stories were about me and my friends solving mysteries. They were short, and no one ever knew who the “bad guy” would be; I didn’t exactly have a real plot or context clues in place. I started writing because I had always loved stories. I loved reading, especially Nancy Drew books.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

The moment I first considered myself a writer was when I finished the first draft of my second novel. I was twenty-two, and really excited to have two novels under my belt. A first edited novel—no matter how bad it was, and believe me, mine’s pretty bad—and a completed draft of something else helped me find the confidence to call myself a writer.

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

My most recent book is titled The King’s Sons. It’s book three in my Herezoth trilogy, wrapping everything up, so writing it was an emotional experience.
Herezoth is a fictional kingdom where some people are born with magic in their blood, though the majority aren’t. True sorcerers are rare, as magic was forsworn through the ages as public opinion turned against it. Nevertheless, sorcerers still are born on occasion. Most “magicians” in Herezoth have remnants of sorcery, which means they are born with a single, subtler power: telekinesis, or the ability to read minds through touch, for example. Each installment of my trilogy involves the heroes standing up against an enemy who can bring powerful magic to his or her aid.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote a first and then a second Herezoth novel. Then I realized my characters weren’t finished. My sorceress protagonist from book one, the king, the sorcerer Duke of Ingleton: my favorite characters were screaming at me that they had unfinished business.

I’m so glad I wrote The King’s Sons. I love how the plot of book three is the cumulative effect of events that unfold both in book one and book two. Magical artifacts that appear in book one to a small degree become vital to efforts to maintain peace in the final installment.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My teacher in my senior-level English class once told me, “You write like Hemingway.” What she meant is that I value clarity and conciseness over baubles and a string of dependent clauses. I say what needs to be said with as few words as possible and little adornment. I admire writers who can write beautiful, breathtaking scenes of description, but that’s not something I’m good at.

One other thing associated with my style is that each of my novels is a completed story in itself. That’s why I was able to have book two take place fifteen years after book one. Book three takes place ten years after book two.

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

Book one in my trilogy is titled The Crimson League, after a resistance group that rises up to fight a sorcerer who has stolen the crown. Book two is titled The Magic Council. Since I was writing a trilogy, I wanted a title for book three that fit the mold: The (Descriptor) (Noun). I settled on The King’s Sons because it draws attention to two of my favorite characters: Hune Phinnean, the youngest of three princes, and protagonist Vane Unsten, the Duke of Ingleton. He considers the king the closest thing to a father he’s ever known.

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

I didn’t write with a message in mind. That said, I think there’s a strong thematic link between all three installments of my trilogy: the necessity in this world of taking a stand for what is right and being faithful, honest, and selfless, even when the price for that is heavy. Dignity and self-respect are priceless.

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

I was surprised when I started editing The King’s Sons to realize my life situation at the moment I was writing was reflected in the story, although distorted, of course. One character named Francie, a member of the king’s Magic Council, is attacked and almost killed after ten years of service. (This is the prologue, so it’s not a spoiler). This brings about a quarter-life crisis.

When I wrote about Francie, I was considering withdrawing from a doctoral program in Spanish literature, though I was in my third year and had already earned a Master’s degree. I had always thought I wanted to be a professor; I had gotten things wrong, and a lot of what Francie struggles with on an existential level in The King’s Sons, I also was confused about. Frustrated about.

I did leave my program. It was the right call for me. Honestly, I think developing the character of Francie and seeing her overcome much greater obstacles than what I faced gave me the courage to make that decision.

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

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was my first introduction to fantasy literature, and made me fall in love with magic. My personal novels owe a lot to her. As a writer, I admire how Rowling never gave up, even though she was rejected many times by agents. I also admire the depth and heart to be found in Rowling’s secondary characters. Not just everyone can achieve that, and I feel that the overall richness of her cast of characters by far outweighs any of the problems with her books. I strive to make sure my secondary characters have depth like that.

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

Victor Hugo. His masterpiece Les Misérables is by far my favorite novel ever written, for the beauty of its story and its message of faith, sacrifice, and redemption. It truly has helped shape the person that I am. I learned French to be able to read the book as Hugo wrote it!

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

Brad Covey designed my covers. He approached me, after we met on Twitter and became friends, with some ideas and proofs for covers, and I was thrilled to go along with them. He is talented, friendly, and always willing and able to incorporate any needs the author has. I am constantly getting compliments on the covers he designed for me.

I love how Brad’s covers—through the use of architecture and statuary—not only designate fantasy very clearly, but also hint of the richness of Herezoth’s history. The legacy of magic and magic’s abuse in the past is something my characters cannot avoid, no matter how they try.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write for you, not to please others. This is key. So key, in fact, that the title of my upcoming writer’s handbook, expanded from the content on my blog, is Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction.

Write to fulfill whatever part of you needs to create in order to feel fulfilled. Be pleased with your stumbles, not frustrated, as long as they’re stumbles propelling you in the right direction. Remember, we all need time to figure out the way to approach writing that works for us, personally, because no two writers have the same process. It’s a very individual thing. Never think you’re doing something wrong because you’re doing it differently than someone else.

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

Thank you for taking the time to give me and my novels a chance. It’s very humbling when some tells me they’re reading my novel; that means more to me than I can say.

The Crimson League Book CoverVictoria Grefer
Chicago, Illinois

Cover Artist: Brad Covey