Tag Archives: writing

Author Interview: Mel Snyder

One of the pleasures I have an an editor here on No Wasted Ink is to encourage young authors that are coming out of the gate with new work.  Enter Mel Snyder, an enterprising and upcoming writer.

Hello, my name is Mel Snyder. I am 22 years old, I’m an artist, author, language enthusiast (although I’m only fluent in two so far). I love learning how to renovate and do repairs around the house, recently rediscovered my joy for gardening, and am trying to learn my first instrument; drums. I have a noisy three-legged cat named Matrix, and spend my downtime with my wonderfully chaotic family and friend. Despite struggling with depression, anxiety, and other problems, I try my best to be outgoing and inviting to those I meet.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing at around 12-13. I loved to read, and I always thought it would be amazing to have my worlds, characters, and stories enthusiastically read and talked about. To have people empathize with the characters, immerse themselves in my stories, and clutch every page tightly as they desperately try to unravel the mysteries of the plot would be a dream come true.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably when I was 18, when I officially published my book. As much as I loved the idea of calling myself a writer, I felt like I needed physical proof to give myself that extra confirmation.

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

It takes place in an alien world where the citizens of the planet have undergone a brainwash that left every last one of them emotionless, obedient, and silent. At least, that’s what the governing system would like to think. The main character, Zepharius, is broken from that enforced repression and is trying to find the answers to why this happened while searching for the solution to restore her people. Finding others like her with the same ambition, she struggles with trust, betrayal, disabilities, ignorance, and the unknown. It’s a story about internal and external battles, fighting for what’s right, understanding oneself, and developing close bonds with family and friends to endure trials.

What inspired you to write this book?

Much like JRR Tolkien who wrote the stories of Middle Earth to cope with his traumatic and life-changing experiences from World War I, I find a lot of inspiration comes from the things I have witnessed and endured in my life. This series was my way of venting my feelings, or previous lack thereof, and showing the way life can change a person as their world seems to collapse around them. I wanted to have a book that included the complex internal struggles that many stories forget to include but many are so desperate to read, and show that characters disabled both mentally and physically can still be strong. I suppose it’s not only to inspire others, but also to myself.

Do you have a specific writing style?

First person perspective seems to be my go-to. In terms of style, I could say I am very descriptive, perhaps even too descriptive. I want my stories to be like a virtual reality world where the reader can pick up the book and be inside the scene, looking around and experiencing the sights, smells, sounds, and feel of everything around them.

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

I’m very bad at titles, which is ironic because I can make up obscure names and languages with ease. So, I decided to stick with the main character’s name. After all, the stories are only from her perspective.

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

There are various messages I’ve strewn throughout the stories, whether it be political, social, familial, or interpersonal. The most important message I want my readers to grasp is that no matter what you are going through and where you are, it is important to find people that you can trust and rely on. They may not have the same ideals, be the same “species”, or use the same methods to get through situations, but it is still possible to be united and push through difficult times with them. We are all in this together.

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

As mentioned before, the plot, the characters, and the situations are heavily inspired by the events I have endured in life. Some situations I have extracted from my family or friend and have used them as a basis for a scene or quote. Most of my characters are either a variation of myself and others that I am close with, adding a few quirks here and there.

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

Arthur Conan Doyle and JRR Tolkien. Maybe it’s why I find myself getting lost in descriptions. Tolkien opened a gateway for me to discover the lengths I could go to create an immersive, awe-striking world with various characters, scenes, situations, and action. Doyle’s work showed me how to create quirky and intriguing characters, as well as showing the importance of including even the smallest details, especially if they’re needed to understand a later plot point.

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

I actually design the covers myself! While searching for ideas on how to put the cover together, I came across the endless photos of stock covers and other illustrator’s work, but nothing seemed to come across as what I envisioned for my cover. So, I decided to sit down, pull out my paintbrushes and put my vision on canvas paper.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up. If you receive criticism, accept it and learn from it. If you can’t get yourself to write, give yourself a distraction until you’re ready again. Remember that your work is a part of you, so be sure to consider it as yourself. Take pride in it, share it with others. Soon enough you’ll find those who love your work as much as you do.

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

Despite everything, there is hope. Despite betrayal and loneliness, there is trust and family. Despite trials and setbacks, there is a way to push forward. And even if you feel like giving up, you need to keep pushing through each day, because if you live through your trials, you can use them to inspire and strengthen others.

Mel Snyder
 Lexington, KY
Zepharius

 

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Happy Monday!  Welcome back to No Wasted Ink Top Ten Writers Links.  I find these links when I surf the web in my normal reading and select ones that I feel would be of general interest to my fellow writers.  I hope you enjoy them!

Prophets, Preachers, and Parasites in Fantasy

8 Ways to Unblock Your Scene’s Potential

Need a Good Book Editor? Top Up-to-Date Recommendations

Perilous Work: Writing Cliffhangers

Six Character Archetypes for Love Interests

The Antithesis Method: A Simple Solution to Getting Unstuck in a Scene

How to Become a Self-Published Author

Is Your Story A Bit Lazy? 5 Ways to Improve the Action in your Story

Why book prizes matter more than ever

A Wrinkle in Time

Author Branding by Rennie St. James

Marketing Books Photo
Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Are you branded?

No, this isn’t some writing kink post. This is a post about the business side of writing though. I originally did a guest post on 10 Minute Novelists on this topic. This post is a re-vamp of that one with some new ideas and discussion.

If you’re an author, you have probably worried about sales. You’ve probably adjusted your pricing and ran sales. You’ve probably also despaired of ever making a living by your books alone.

Have you seen (or posted) the example of people happily paying $5 for coffee before tipping, but then complaining that a book costs $0.99?? I have posted that myself and ranted and raved privately about the injustice of it. It’s taken time for me to see this in a new and different light.

By time, I mean the seven years I’ve been writing and six since I first self-published. This may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to your writing life…or it could seem like I’m incredibly ancient. It doesn’t really matter – even if writers aren’t in the exact same boat, we are setting sail on the same waters. These waters can be annoying calm (no sales or reviews) or terrifyingly turbulent (release week or bad reviews).

Branding is a way to sail those waters more comfortably and profitably.

This advice isn’t my own though I do follow it. I’m also not earning a living by books alone. As with anything in this world, I’d suggest you keep reading, research for yourself and try out some new things. Which means we need to get back to the topic of branding and those people paying so much more for a cup of coffee.

See, those people aren’t just buying a cup of coffee. They are buying a brand. In the case of Starbucks, one that has been around since 1971. Those people have bought countless coffees that met or exceeded their needs and that’s what they are paying for – that guaranteed success of getting what they want when they want it.

As authors, we have to build our brand too. We have to give readers a clear expectation and meet/ exceed it…and we must do that many times.

What exactly is your brand and how do you build it?

1. Rainbows

A marketing author on FB described a brand as a rainbow. Being an author is only one color and no rainbow is made up one only one color.
What type of books do you write? What do you like to do outside of writing? What type of books do you read? Do you have family (furry or human)? These are all part of your rainbow.

Author Kristen Painter shares personal stories about her cats and her cooking (both figure into her books). If you are writing about things you love then you have some easy things to add to your rainbow.

2. 70/30 Rule

Spamming drop and go links in hundreds of groups is a strategy. Here’s another one – post 70% about your life and only 30% about your book. This means those rainbows of color we discussed above get a chance to shine.

Check your social media feed. How often do you post ‘buy my book’ things? Add some more colors to your rainbow and see what type of interactions you get. This is not to say promoting your book is bad. That 30% of your feedback is for your self-promo.

3. Be a reader.

One easy color to add to your rainbow is that of a reader. Join groups and follow hashtags as a reader, not just an author. Fanboy/ fangirl out and stalk your favorite authors and celebrities. As readers, we all know that seeing someone read our favorite book automatically makes us like them (at least a little bit). Seek out those people who love the things you do and build those relationships. Again, it should be something you enjoy so it’s not work. It is smart marketing (esp when you stalk authors who are successful).

4. Support fellow writers.

Being part of the writing community is another color for your rainbow and should be another easy addition.
I love the motto that ‘other writers are not my competition.’ Yes, we are all trying to make a living and sell books. This means only other authors understand the hazards of sailing on the ocean with us. Writers are our Tribe and we should support one another. Join writer groups and be active…and not just when you need something. Retweet generously, like often, and comment whenever possible.
We’ve all been there during those rough times when a random-like or comment absolutely makes your day. It may seem small and it is which also means it’s easy to do.

5. Your book baby is your product.

No parent should have to pimp out their baby, but that’s what we have to do as authors. Work to separate the creative writing side from the business selling side.

Remember Starbucks and their $5 coffee? You want to make sales too, right? It’s a business. Be professional in your interactions and remember that selling your book is a job.

To go back to Starbucks again, they don’t just offer customers one cup of coffee every 2-3 years. Build your library of books and consider waiting to publish until you have more content to offer. Join some anthologies, try online magazines, blog, etc. There are many ways to add to your products. Again, if you pick things you like, it will seem less like work and be more enjoyable.

Are you ready to build your brand?

Are you already branded and have ideas to share?

I would love to discuss further with my fellow writers. I have stolen the ideas above from others and still have much to learn. There are also many paths to success and many of us will have to try various ones. In the interest of full disclosure, not only did I steal the ideas above but implementing them hasn’t made me a successful writer by traditional standards. However, I am a writer with a fulltime job who needs to make the best use of her time and wants to continue sailing these hazardous waters of publishing. I’m also a writer who wants to share things I’ve learned along my journey so far.

Share your thoughts here so we can all learn together!


Rennie St. James shares several similarities with her fictional characters (heroes and villains alike) including a love of chocolate, horror movies, martial arts, history, yoga, and travel. She is proudly owned by three rescue kitties including an all-black lady adopted on Friday the 13th. They live in relative harmony in beautiful southwestern Virginia (United States). The Rahki Chronicles is Rennie’s first urban fantasy series, and the first five books are available now. Her Atlantic Island: Guardian Trilogy will be released in 2020. Rennie also has drabbles and short stories included in several multi-author anthologies by a variety of publishers. You can find her all over social media as she loves to interact with fellow bookworms and authors.

Website: https://writerrsj.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writerRSJ/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/writer.rsj/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterRSJ
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/rennie-st-james
Book link: http://books2read.com/RahkiWorld

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

FACEBOOK
INSTAGRAM

Rogue Invasion

cover artist:  May Dawney Designs

Universal Book Link

No Wasted Ink Writers Links


Welcome to No Wasted Inks Writers Links.  A top-ten list of writing craft articles that I personally found to be interesting and useful.  I hope you will enjoy them too.

Solving the Alphasmart Dana’s Insatiable Appetite for AA Batteries…

Bringing Stories to Life: The World of Science Fiction and Fantasy Model Building

Breaking Through Writer’s Block

Why Not Poetry, Too?

Critique: 7 Possible Hooks for Your Opening Chapter

Ask Yourself Why

Seven Reasons It’s Definitely Okay to Neglect Storytelling Rules

Map Building for Fantasy Writers

3 Ways to Differentiate Your Characters

WIP Diagnostic: Is This Working? A Closer Look at Creating Compelling Openings