Tag Archives: writer

Author Interview: R.M. Olson

R.M. Olson is the author of the Ungovernable series. She promises she hasn’t done all the things she writes about. Honest.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Ruth OlsenMy name is R.M. Olson. I’m a Canadian, a lawyer, an author, and the mother of four kiddos. I love to travel, and I admit, I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie–I’ve jumped off the highest bungee jump in the world, trekked across mountains in pouring summer storms, gone cage diving with great white sharks, and maybe most frightening of all, taken all four of my kids on a three-day backcountry camping trip all by myself. I’m an unrepentant bookworm, and always have been. I love corny jokes, campfires, and hot tea, preferably all together. Autumn is my favorite time of year, and I’ll never get tired of the sight and smell of leaves the colour of sunshine against a grey autumn sky.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I think my first completed work was when I was about six. I’d heard my parents talking about Shakespeare’s tragedies and decided it couldn’t be that difficult. And it wasn’t. I killed off my MC and his entire family and all his friends in the course of about three pages. Not sure even the Bard beat that record.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Only about five years ago, honestly. Although I’ve been writing my whole life, that was when I first started taking it seriously–working intentionally on my craft, querying, and putting in a sustained daily effort to writing.

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

Well, I write fairly quickly, so my current WIP changes on a regular basis. But I can tell you a bit about my series. I’m currently finishing up a space opera science fiction series that follows the adventures of a motley group of ex-cons and their mysterious leader. It’s called The Ungovernable, and it’s a sort of Ocean’s Eleven meets Firefly, with all my favourite tropes–laser guns, smugglers, explosions, heists, jailbreaks, deep-space casinos, carnivorous plants, political intrigue, and most of all, a fumbling, ridiculous, and ultimately loveable found-family crew.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m a sucker for clever heists, and for sprawling space adventures, enemies-to-friends, groups of clever misfits who love each other in spite of their quirks or even because of them, and lots of action. I’d just finished watching Ocean’s Eight yet again and I thought, why not do something like that, but in space? And so The Ungovernable was born.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My style tends to be fairly fast-paced–lots of action, snappy dialogue, never too long between something exciting happening, but ultimately character-focused. There’s usually romance, but it’s usually slow-burn. One of my beta readers left a comment once that sums up my style pretty well, I think. She commented, “I was expecting sexytimes, and instead I got a near death experience!” And that basically says everything there is to say about how I write.

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

Ha ha, it wasn’t easy. I spent a lot of time consulting with friends about it. But ultimately, the series title, The Ungovernable, is the name of the crew’s ship, and the title of each book is based off a hacker/computer term, since hacking plays a big part in the plots. The titles of the released and upcoming books are Zero Day Threat, Jailbreak, Time Bomb, Insider Threat, Blacklist, Trojan Horse, Blue Team, Attack Path, and Threat Agent. You get a point for each of the terms you can identify without looking them up!

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

Honestly, as much as these books are all about the action, their real message is friendship–about learning to love people for who they are, and learning to be loved for who you are. About the kind of friendship that means they see you at your ugliest, and your weakest, and your stupidest and most awkward–and they love you anyways.

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

Well–there’s a lot of me in Jez. I’m also ADHD and bi, and I certainly had a lot of the same feelings of alienation and not fitting in as she has throughout the series because of those things. And I, too, have managed to stumble into a group of friends who I could count on at any time and for anything. And the world itself is based in large part on places I’ve traveled–a year or so before I started this series, I traveled across Siberia on the Trans-Siberian railway, and I fell in love with the mix of cultures and the complex history of that area of the world. A lot of that found its way into the world I created for these books.

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

I’ve always loved Terry Pratchett. I love his ability to make you think while making you laugh, and to portray the ugliness in the world while still believing that people are basically good. I love Neil Geiman and Harper Lee for much the same reason. And while I only wish I could compare my writing to any of theirs, I hope that at least I can manage, in my own awkward way, to convey a similar message.

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

Hmmm. That’s a tough one. If I had to pick, I think I’d go back to Sir Terry. There is so much about his writing that I’ve loved and studied, and he deeply inspires the way I write and the things I chose to write about to this day.

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

The first three covers were designed by Jesh Studios. He’s a fantastic artist, and was able to put down on paper what I had in my head for these characters. I loved every one of his covers, but because of unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to complete the covers after book three. I switched to KDS Cover Concepts, because I was looking for someone who could work in a similar style, and I’ve absolutely loved her work. I’d highly recommend her.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just keep writing–don’t let rejection discourage you. It’s part of the process, and it forces you to improve. I thought I’d be ready to publish when I wrote my first book. But looking back, I’m so glad that book wasn’t published. My writing has improved and deepened so much since then. I have several manuscripts and short stories that I submitted to agents and publications that were rejected over and over. But each time I re-wrote them, or wrote something new, I got a little bit better. And as much as it was frustrating at the time, that was when I really started to hone my craft–when people stopped praising me and were honest enough to tell me I needed to improve.

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

First, a heart-felt thank you for reading. I’d be a writer no matter what, but I couldn’t be an author without you. So thank you for letting me live my dream. And I hope that somehow, my crazy crew of misfits has brightened your day, made a rough week a little better, or maybe showed you that you don’t need to change who you are in order to be loved. You just need to find your people. And they’re out there, whoever you are–even if you’re an irritating ADHD ex-smuggler pilot with a penchant for getting into trouble. ❤

The UngovernableR.M. Olson
Calgary Alberta, Canada

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Cover Artist: Jesh Art Studio ( https://jeshartstudio.com/)

All my books are only available on Amazon. Here’s a link in the US store to the series page:

And here are universal links for the four books that are currently released (although I can update this again before the interview goes live, as there will likely be another one or two out by then.)
Zero Day Threat
https://www.bklnk.com/B088C4FYPN
Jailbreak
https://www.bklnk.com/B0883Z4L3W
Time Bomb
https://www.bklnk.com/B088F6756J
Insider Threat
https://www.bklnk.com/B08F76MC75

Author Interview: Theresa Halvorsen

Author Theresa Halvorsen describes herself as an overly-caffeinated author of nonfiction and speculative fiction works. She lives in San Diego and is a podcaster for Semi-Sages of the Pages. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Theresa HalversenHi everyone! My name is Theresa Halvorsen and I’m the author of Warehouse Dreams and the Dad’s Playbook to Labor and Birth. In addition to my day job in healthcare, I’m also a podcaster for Semi-Sages of the Pages. Semi-Sages of the Pages is a podcast for writers, from four female speculative fiction writers who are just starting out in our writing journeys. I’m usually over caffeinated, and enjoy big glasses of wine in the evenings. A mother, a wife and a pet-parent, I live in Southern California, in Temecula wine country. I enjoy all things geeky and have attended comic-con for many years, 2020 would’ve been my tenth year. I can quote Princess Bride, Star Wars and Firefly like there’s no tomorrow (and heck, it’s 2020, there might not be a tomorrow). Finally, I enjoy reading spec fiction, helping other writers, and playing complex board games with my friends and family.

When and why did you begin writing?

I can’t remember not writing, or at least not making up stories in my head. My first story, when I was about six, was about a princess whose plane crashed. Luckily, she could talk to animals and after a few scary moments, she made it out of a forest alive. As you can tell, I watched a lot of Disney. About two years ago, I made a commitment to myself that if I wanted to be a writer, wanted to make a living at it, then I had to truly try. I couldn’t wait for “some day”. And so I now plan out my writing time and projects. I’ve had to give up a lot of my free-time but I’m much happier than I’ve been in a very long time.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I believe if you write, you can call yourself a writer. But if people ask me what I do, I rarely say writer. This is an interesting conundrum I probably should reflect on.

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

Warehouse Dreams, which came out in July 2020, is a unique story about the faculty at a school for telepaths and psychokinetics. It follows Kendle, an admin assistant, holding the underfunded school together with her blood, sweat and tears. A flawed character, she will do anything, including risk getting fired from the job she adores, to protect her students from a world that doesn’t want them. The addition of a new telepathy teacher doesn’t make this year any easier for Kendle either. A soft sci-fi romance, the reviews have been phenomenal.

What inspired you to write this book?

Warehouse Dreams definitely has echoes of real societal problems within. When I was writing it, I looked around at many of the things we’re dealing with, put a sci-fi spin on it, and tucked it into the story.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am a very direct and dialogue heavy writer. I always start with the dialogue and my beta readers always comment on how strong and unique my dialogue is. I have to go back and build in the little details that so many other writers start with. I write in the first person because I enjoy digging deeply into a character’s thoughts and emotions. I also love the challenge behind first person; I, as the author, know what my other characters are thinking and feeling, but my main character doesn’t, so I have to figure out how to share that. If you get a chance to read Warehouse Dreams, the fundraising scene is a perfect example of this. There’s a lot of subtexts going on in that scene, that Kendle really doesn’t pick up on because she’s too caught up in her own drama. To me, first person point of view is very real, because our lives are all in first person.

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

Oh goodness, I’m terrible with titles. Warehouse Dreams is set at a school built into a series of abandoned Warehouses, hence the Warehouse part. And without giving away a spoiler, I’ll say that dreams play an important part of the story.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Oh wow, Warehouse Dreams has a lot of messages. Primarily it’s asking the question of what happens when society determines it doesn’t want to deal with and are ultimately afraid of certain members of that society. In addition, there’s themes around the ethics of genetic manipulation of our children, but only for the rich. The sequel explores the second theme more.

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

That’s a good question–Kendle does have some challenges with anxiety and I drew on some of my own experiences with anxiety when writing. And while I hate to admit it, I’m not actually a telepath or psychokinetic, though sometimes it would be nice to be one.

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

I have a great deal of affection for Stephen King; I loved his book On Writing and often quote it to other writers. For me personally, I agree with Stephen King’s thoughts on the necessity of writing every day and reading a lot. I also find my style of writing is similar to Jodi Taylor’s and try to inject the humor, sarcasm and character building that she does so well into my stories.

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

I’m lucky to be published with a small press publisher, S&H Publishing, who used their own graphic designer. However, this cover went through a few drafts. I wanted the background to be dark, because Warehouse Dreams is a dark story. I wanted the Warehouse to be a part of the cover, but I also wanted the hummingbird on the cover. Throughout Warehouse Dreams, the hummingbird is a theme and a moment of hope when the future is often very bleak and heavy for my characters.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you write, you are a writer. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Read a lot. Read things you wouldn’t normally read and then pull the stories apart to find out what you like and don’t like about them.
It’s ok if your first, tenth or fiftieth drafts suck. Just keep switching out words until you’re happy. And it will take a lot of switching until you are, most of the time. That’s normal.

Learn what to take and what to leave behind when receiving constructive feedback. And yes, you do need constructive feedback on your writing for it to get better.

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

Ummmm…buy Warehouse Dreams? Listen to my podcast, Semi-Sages of the Pages? Connect with me on social media–I love talking books and writing to anyone who will listen to me and I LOVE meeting other people.

Warehouse Dreams Book CoverTheresa Halvorsen
Temecula, CA

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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Welcome back to another writers links here at No Wasted Ink.  This week there are writing tips as usual, but I found a few good resource articles and one on the benefits of journaling that I feel are worth taking a look at.  Enjoy your week!

17 of the Most Devious Sci-Fi and Fantasy Villains

The Importance of Good Fantasy Art

Big Brother is Watching: Surveillance Technology and Privacy

Is Science Fiction Bad For Us?

The 3 Acts of a Writer’s Life–Or How Your Age Affects Your Writing

Making A Living At Writing

The Hack’s Guide to Writing while the Kids are at Home

No Secrets. No Gimmicks. No Short Cuts. A Writer’s Guide to Patience, Practice, and Persistence

My Journal in the Days of COVID

Marathons, Sprints, and Pounces: 3-Tiered Approach to Book Launches

Author Interview: Marjorie King

I had the pleasure of meeting Marjorie as a co-panelist on the Scifi Roundtable Podcast.  She is impressive with her knowledge of science fiction and due to her engineering background, a fine scientist herself.  I’m pleased to introduce her on No Wasted Ink.

Hey everyone! I’m Marjorie King. I grew up on Asimov, Star Wars, and Star Trek. House Ravenclaw (with a little bit of Slytherin). I love reading, making memories with my family, cooking, and hiking the US National Parks.

When and why did you begin writing?

I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer. I actually loved painting and chemistry. I graduated in Chemical Engineering and painted as a side hobby. I thought that would define the rest of my life.

But then I lost my brother to a skiing accident–please, please wear helmets when you ski–and that was a devastating year. After that year was over, I had journeyed through my grief, but there was still something left. Something I couldn’t put into words, but something that needed working out. At that time, this story formed in my mind, and I couldn’t stop picking at it. I kept developing the characters and their adventures. It wouldn’t leave me alone.

So, January 2015 I made a New Year’s resolution: I would write the story. It helped heal me in hard to define ways.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I wrote “The End” on that first story in May of 2015, I was hooked. At that point, I didn’t consider myself a published, polished author. But I was a writer.

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

Rogue Invasion is book 2 in the Maverick Series. It starts a few months after Maverick Gambit left off. The crew has finished their mission. Brant is starting his new job as a teacher at a school for adapted children. But it isn’t the dream job he’d always hoped. And the hidden assassins the crew fought at the end of their last mission are plotting their revenge.

What inspired you to write this book?

It wasn’t until the book was finished that I realized I had put a teacher on the pedestal of the story. But in hindsight, it made perfect sense. My mom has retired from years of teaching high school math, so I got to see behind the scenes how much teachers sacrifice for their jobs and their students.

I think teacher appreciation is understood a lot more now, with all the remote learning that took place during the quarantine.

Do you have a specific writing style?

The pacing of the sentences and paragraphs has a strong stage dialogue feel. It’s my short time in a theatre showing through.

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

A Rogue group of assassins is plotting to Invade the school. Ta-da! Rogue Invasion.

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

No one is all good or all bad. You have to treasure the good and cope with the bad (sometimes from a safe, healthy distance).

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

Well, my mom being a teacher influenced it heavily.

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

Asimov got me hooked on SciFi. I love Aliette de Bodard’s poetic style. I go to Terry Pratchett when I need a laugh. Murderbot, by Martha Wells, has absolutely won my heart. When I want something slower and more contemplative, I turn to the Three-Body Problem series. The Thrawn series by Timothy Zahn is an old favorite that’s been resurrected.

I also enjoy Mark Twain’s wit, CS Lewis’s insight, JK Rowling’s magic, JRR Tolkien’s worldbuilding… you get the idea.

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

May Dawney Designs. I’d lost the cover artist from my first book. He’d changed careers. So I went to the SciFi Roundtable Facebook group and begged for references. Several recommended May Dawney, and when I checked out her website, her art was brilliant and in my price range! She worked hard to match book 2’s cover to the feel of book 1.

But between you and me, I like hers better than the cover for book 1. In a few months, I might hire her to redesign book 1.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing.
Read books on writing.
Test the advice.
Apply what you like.
Toss what you don’t.
Keep writing.

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

Thank you!

Marjorie King
Clute, TX

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Rogue Invasion

cover artist:  May Dawney Designs

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Author Interview: JM Landels

I met Jennifer Landels at WorldCon and was immediately drawn to her well-organized author table and displays.  We fell to chatting and I extended an invitation to come to No Wasted Ink.

I’m Jennifer Landels, and I write under JM Landels. I wear many hats – writer, editor, swordswoman, and equestrian are just a few. I’m the author of the Allaigna’s Song trilogy, managing editor of Pulp Literature Press, head of the Mounted Combat Program at Academie Duello, and owner of Cornwall Ridge Equestrian in Langley BC. I’ve also been an illustrator, childbirth educator, and lead singer and guitarist of several punk/metal/grunge bands.

When and why did you begin writing?

There’s a picture of me at the age of 4 holding up a ‘book’ I ‘wrote’ and illustrated. I think it was an interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood, with about one malformed word per page. It was completely done in thick red marker. I like to think it was a feminist manifesto of some sort. I don’t know why I’ve always felt compelled to write. My first attempt at a novel was when I was fourteen. It was highly derivative, inspired by Anya Seton’s Katherine or something in that vein, and never saw more than two chapters.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In high school, I got good marks for short stories and was often given free rein to go off and write fiction when everyone else was stuck with essays. I won a few contests, and attended some conferences for young writers, and always felt I would eventually write novels. However, I stopped writing fiction in university, and even though I occasionally wrote a few pages here and there during my time as a musician and dilettante, I always got stuck. I did pages and pages of comics, but I could never get past the beginning of a novel. It wasn’t until my kids were in preschool that I took Dale Adams Segal’s Hour Stories workshop and unlocked all that pent up prose at last.

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

Allaigna’s Song: Aria is the middle book in a bildungsroman trilogy. The first book, Allaigna’s Song: Overture, follows the heroine from childhood to adolescence as she learns to control her dangerous and illicit ability to sing music into magic. It also weaves in the stories of her grandmother and mother as young women. On the surface, it’s an epic fantasy with adventure, romance, and political tension, but it’s really about mothers and daughters.

The second book finds Allaigna on the road, running away from an unwanted betrothal, furious over the lies her family has told her all her life, and searching for her biological father. It is in some ways picaresque, but the continuing stories of her mother and grandmother anchor the book in the realm of the family saga.

The final book brings Allaigna full circle as an adult and unites the timelines of the three main characters.

What inspired you to write this book?

The character of Allaigna arrived in my head as a fully formed hero, and I started writing to find out what forces shaped her into one. It took over a decade to write the first book and was heavily influenced by my three daughters as they grew. Many of my other influences show as well, such as my musical background, my involvement with childbirth, and my love of horses.

Do you have a specific writing style?

That’s a better question for one of my readers. I’m not sure. I tend to lean towards first person, but my voice changes considerably with the characters. I’m currently working on a historical series set in 17th century France, and I find a touch of Gallic insouciance shows up in the narration. With Allaigna’s Song, I have different rhythms for each of the three main characters, and I differentiate them further with tense and person.

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

Allaigna’s magical ability with music made Allaigna’s Song a fairly obvious choice for the series title, and the subtitles are musical terms. Overture is clearly the beginning; Aria is about Allaigna on her own, away from her family – a soloist, as it were; and Chorale brings a host of characters old and new together for the finale.

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

This middle novel is about Allaigna pulling free from her family with a self-imposed quest. Despite physical distance, she continues to discover much about herself and what makes a family in her travels. Saying more than that would create spoilers, so the rest is up to the reader to glean.

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

There are bits of me in all three characters, but there are also bits of my daughters, my mother, and my grandmother – not necessarily in the generational order you’d think.

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

Early on, CS Lewis, George MacDonald, Ursula LeGuin, and Madeline L’Engle gave me my love of fantasy. Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, and CJ Cherryh were huge influences in my teen years – they wrote (and in the case of CJ Cherryh, still write) wonderful women characters that were a counterpoint to the male-dominated worlds of Tolkien, Heinlein, Asimov, which I also devoured.

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

It would either be Margaret Atwood, who is so remarkably clever, and who has been disobediently flitting through genres for years with her marvellous, literary voice; or Barbara Kingsolver, who writes so beautifully and passionately about families and ecology. I find her prose just guts me, in a good way.

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

I commissioned the painting from Melissa Mary Duncan. I fell in love with her work back in 2013 when she was working on the painting Frost and Snow (which later became the cover of Pulp Literature Issue 21, and is currently the first image on her website), because it looks exactly like Allaigna’s great aunt Lauraign. I decided then and there that she was my number one cover artist choice, and I was thrilled when she agreed to paint first Overture and then Aria. The cover design of Overture was done by Kris Sayer, who lovingly handcrafted title font for both the cover and interior. She was unavailable for the second book, but my daughter Kate Landels is also a talented designer and created a design that fits perfectly with the style of the first book.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Turn off your inner critic and just write. Write without thinking, or plotting, or trying to be clever – just let the words pour out. It might take some practice before you can do that. Then, when you’ve done that a good while, go through and pick out pieces that you can polish and arrange into a coherent story. The more you write, the better you will get at picking the right words the first time, and the less you’ll have to discard.

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

Thank you!

Alligna's Song: Aria Book CoverJM Landels
Langley BC, Canada

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