Sherry’s Challenge Writing Prompts

So, you know how sometimes you get a fun idea, and you want to run with it, but your common sense speaks up and says, “Hang on, you have far too many plates in the air already, stop this nonsense and save that for another time”? And you sensibly listen to your common sense and put the idea aside?

Yeah, I don’t listen, either.

So here’s what happened. I was making an infographic in Canva the other day, and I noticed that they have a whole lot of free layouts for Pinterest graphics as well. Customizable images you just add text to, and voila! A lovely, pinnable, Pinterest pin.

“Cool,” I thought, and went on with my infographic. But a little voice in the back of my mind (NOT my common sense) was saying, “you could do something fun with those…”

And then I thought it would be fun to make some writing prompts with them, using the graphic images as inspiration. And then I thought I could try to create a writing prompt for each of them that Canva provides for free. AND THEN my writing prompt personal challenge was born.

I created a Pinterest board (naturally) as a home for the project. Here’s how I described it:

I’m challenging myself to create a writing prompt based on each free Pinterest graphic offered on Canva. I’m trying for five per week until I’ve done them all, and they will quite probably be SF/F/H prompts (have you met me?). I’ll pin the prompts here, and anyone can take a prompt and run with it. Have fun! If you write something based on one of the prompts, let me know! :)

Now, I’m not sure how many images there are. For all I know, there could be no end to them. Or Canva could go away and leave me in the lurch. And hey, sure, this could fizzle out like so many ideas do, but for now I’m having fun with it. There’s only one pin on the board so far, but another will follow today. Pop over and have a look! Who knows…they could get you started on a whole new story…

If you write anything based on one of the prompts, let me know! I’d love to hear about it.

The Picture Perfect Writer-Blocked and Anguished

Earlier this evening, I came across an article called “Stock Photos of Scientists Reveal That Science is Mostly About Staring.” It was a collection of stock images hashtagged #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob and quite funny. Because yes, most of the stock photos of scientists show them just…staring at various things.

Okay, I get it; it’s difficult to represent the dynamic undertakings of scientific research in still images. However, it did make me wonder how writers and writing get represented in stock images.

It was quite an eye-opener. Apparently, I’m doing this writing thing all wrong.

I mean, there’s not a single balled-up piece of paper in my entire office. Not even in the garbage can. I looked everywhere, I swear, and it’s obvious from these photos that balled-up pieces of paper are de rigeur in the writer’s environment. I do have pens and paper, but the thing is—I write mostly everything on the computer, my laptop, or my iPad. I hardly ever scribble ideas on actual paper. It’s better for the environment, but in a way, looking at these photos, it’s like I’m not even trying, right?

The second thing I noticed is that I’m far too happy. I’m not saying that the writing life is all rainbows and fireworks, but for the most part, I feel like it’s a pretty sweet gig. I get to do a job I love. I can work in my pyjamas if I want. Occasionally I get a note from a reader who really liked something I wrote. Most of the time, I’m happy. Wrong again, apparently!

Just look at these people—abject misery. Writing or trying to write is just the worst thing that’s ever happened to them. They’re in the pit of despair. And surrounded by more of those pesky paper balls. I’m starting to think the paper balls are somehow connected to demons. Demons who feast on the souls of writers. Also, not a laptop in sight. I’m thinking technology plays a role in the levels of angst represented here.

Finally: beverages. Apparently, writer beverages are either coffee or whiskey. Wine-drinking writers, you’re doing it wrong, too. I’m 1 for 2 on this one, because the coffee is a staple. The whiskey, not so much. But look at that image in the upper left. Coffee notwithstanding, this writer is soon to join his miserable colleagues, because that coffee is so going to spill on his laptop. Who would put that there? He also looks like he’s about to dip his pen into the cup, which is also not going to go well.

Thanks to Shutterstock, CanStock, DepositPhotos, Dreamstime, iStockPhoto, and 123rf for the image fun. But I think you guys might have to try a little harder if you want to avoid the #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob attention. :)

 

 

 

Friday Desk Report – May 4, 2018

It’s Star Wars day, so May the 4th be with you! I’m wearing my Rebel Snoopy t-shirt as I write this, so rest assured, the Force is strong in my office today.

Camp NaNoWriMo finished up on Monday of this week, and although I had to rock out more than 5k words on the last day to make my goal on time, I did it! I wrote an entire new middle-grade science fiction novel during April, which was pretty cool since I didn’t even have the idea until a few days into the month. Now it’s complete and in editing, so expect to hear lots more about that really soon! Although I claim to like the flexibility and reduced pressure of Camp NaNo, I still couldn’t allow myself to *not* reach the goal I’d set. Guess I have to work on that…or maybe not, since it meant I finished the book.

I took a day off writing once I typed “The End” on that novel, and spent it trying to clean up the house, which of course had suffered a great deal of neglect during April. I managed to put away some winter stuff and clean up the kitchen and bathroom, so I guess that was a good start? The rest will follow as it follows.

I made a spiffy animated version of the new cover for The Murder Prophet, which I began revealing this week. The animation doesn’t seem to be showing up here, sadly (because it’s really cool!), but you might catch it on Facebook or Twitter. Or I might get it working yet…but I mustn’t get distracted from the editing I want to get done today. I let myself have some play time to create it, but I mustn’t go on tweaking it forever. That way lies…not getting anything else done.

In word metrics, I wrote about 42k words in April, spread over two novels and some non-fiction. That was almost twice as much as the first three months of the year combined, so I’m pleased with that. My goal for this month is to come close to April’s count across two other projects. I guess I’ll report on that at the beginning of June!

The Olympia Investigations specials are still on, so if you haven’t grabbed the free story or the sale, or the new release yet, what are you waiting for? (Oh yeah, I made this cool splash graphic today, too. Maybe too much play time?)

 

 

 

Friday Desk Report – April 20, 2018

Yes, it’s been that kind of a week–okay, more like a couple of weeks. I see it’s been a while since I even offered a Friday Report!

Not that I haven’t been writing. April marks the first Camp NaNoWriMo of 2018, so I signed up after my positive experience with Camp last July. I thought it would be a great way for me to kick off the last traces of the winter blahs. NaNoWrimo always motivates me. I could finish at least one of two projects that I really need to see complete.

But as the quote above says, it’s not always that easy. So far this month I’ve worked on four–count ’em, four–different manuscripts. For two of them, I wrote–gasp–outlines. Whaaaaaat?

What’s wrong with that? you might ask. At least you’re making progress.

True. But having a bad case of what I call “butterfly brain” doesn’t get you closer to following Heinlein’s second Rule for Writers: You must finish what you start. At this rate, I’m not going to achieve my quest for completions by the end of the month. It’s like I’ve beaten all the initial levels of those two manuscripts and now it’s just one never-ending boss fight from here on out. And I’m out of health potions, so I keep leaving to do side quests.

But you’re not here to listen to me complain or make bad video game analogies, right?

All right. Other things happened this week. My novelette “Dead Hungry” released, and I sent out my newsletter (not subscribed? Click the “Free Ebook” button at the top of this page!). To celebrate the Olympia Investigations release, I put others in the series on for free or on sale. I also took a video course on AMS ads (that’s Amazon, for those not in the know) and learned a crazy amount of stuff I didn’t know before. I’ve been working to up my promotional game this year, with…mixed success, so far. I won’t lie, it’s a lot of work. For the past number of weeks, I’ve been tracking my time in Toggl (which I really like), and it’s amazing how much time can go into promotion/marketing and business-related stuff.

And I should say that so far, I really like what I’ve done with those two side quests. One of them is a project I’m kind of excited about, so despite my guilt, I’m having fun working on it.

Anyway, yay me for writing this report! I’d better go and see what words I can hunt down and capture today…along with any health potions…the bosses still await…really thinking I should order this shirt!

 

 

An Interview with…Me! – Short Flights Bundle Author (and Curator)

So, Mike Jasper over at UnWrecked Press turned the tables and asked me to answer some of my own questions in connection with Short Flights. Here’s the post where we chatted recently: https://unwreckedpress.com/an-interview-with-author-sherry-d-ramsey/. It was fun, so click over and have a read!

The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is still available across many online platforms. Along with my collection, The Cache and Other Stories, you’ll find ten single stories and four more full collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.

An Interview with Marcelle Dubé – Short Flights Bundle Author

See? I promised another Canadian author interview, and here we are! Marcelle Dubé grew up near Montreal, but now lives in the Yukon. Her novels have been published by Carina Press and Falcon Ridge Publishing, and she has published many short stories, most recently in On Spec and Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen. (Personally, I can highly recommend her Mendenhall Mysteries!) Marcelle also writes under the pen name Emma Faraday. She keeps a website at www.marcellemdube.com/.

SDR: Marcelle, tell us a little about the story you have in the Short Flights bundle.

MD: In “Chimère,” our heroine Bittan lives in modern-day Montreal. She is the daughter of the high priestess of an ancient god who expects Bittan’s obedience and love, and has sent a mythological guardian to Montreal to protect her. Now Bittan must choose between the power a dangerous, jealous god offers her, and the very fragile love of a human man. And she must choose quickly, before the god destroys him.

SDR: That sounds fascinating! Now, imagine you’ve been kidnapped or trapped by a natural disaster. Which of your own characters (from any work) would you want to rescue you? Why?

MD: Definitely Kate Williams, Chief of Police of Mendenhall, Manitoba and heroine of my Mendenhall Mystery series. She’s smart, stubborn and quick-witted. If anybody can rescue me, it’s her and her team of intrepid constables.

SDR: Since I’m familiar with Kate, I have to agree she’s a good choice. What’s your current writing project? How do you feel about it right this minute?

MD: Right now, I’m working on Book 2 of the A’lle Chronicles, the first of which—Backli’s Ford—came out in 2012. I am little anxious about finishing it because it’s been so long since Backli’s Ford came out. I have been busy in the interim, of course (5 novels and 16 short stories), but there are so many stories to be told in the A’lle Chronicles world that I may not live long enough to write them all…

SDR: I know you’ve written series characters. What’s their appeal for you?

MD: To my utter surprise, I find myself with not one, but two series on the go. Both are mystery series, though one is a police procedural and the other is an alternate history series.

I’m not really a series person, but after I wrote The Shoeless Kid (Mendenhall Mystery #1), with the aforementioned Chief of Police Kate Williams, I found myself wondering what she and her constables were up to now. I liked these people and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. So I wrote The Tuxedoed Man. Then, of course, I was doomed. I’ve just released the fifth in the series, The Forsaken Man.

The second series is The A’lle Chronicles. I can’t lie—I knew exactly what I was getting into when I started the first one, Backli’s Ford. I had so many ideas about the people and events and how they veered off from our timeline… I’m happy to finally be getting back to Constance A’lle and Chief Investigator Desautel.

SDR: Have you had to deal with bad reviews? How do you manage them?

MD: I know most writers say they don’t read their reviews, but that’s not me. I read every single one, good or bad. After all this time, I don’t mind the bad ones. I know not everybody will like my stories, and that’s okay.

SDR: Are you a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

MD: I sail off into the darkness every time, hoping I won’t fall off the edge of the world…

SDR: I have to admit, I’ve been heartened during these interviews by how many other authors give this answer… :)

Do you think there were early influences as a reader that have guided the stories you create as a writer? What were they?

MD: Oh my. I loved the pulp writers: Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan), Lester Dent (Doc Savage), Robert Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land, Podkayne of Mars), Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian), C.L. Moore (Jirel of Joiry)… I still love the pulp-style stories and I’m sure that love translates into a lot of my stories.

SDR: Do you think the place where you live (or somewhere you have lived) influences what you write? In what way?

MD: I live in the Yukon and its dramatic landscape and wilderness lend themselves to great fiction. Quite a few of my stories have featured the territory as a character (Obeah, On Her Trail, Ghosts of Morocco, “Jules,” “Going to Liard,” “Root Fire,” “Running Away from Christmas,” “The Man in the Mask,” “A Yukon Christmas,” “Troll Country”).

SDR: And that’s reflected in the tagline on your website, as well… “Writing the North and other fantastic places…” I like that. :)

Do you prefer music, silence, or some other noise in the background when you write? If music, what kind?

MD: I am so easily distracted that I have to work in silence. I can ignore background sounds like traffic or kids playing outside, but any sound in my writing space demands my attention and takes me away from the story. I could never write to a soundtrack.

SDR:, Well, to finish off, tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview!

MD: My most recent novels are Shelter, set in modern-day Ontario and featuring a young woman who stumbles onto a haunted house while running away from an abusive husband; Ghosts of Morocco, in which our heroine finds herself thrown back into a Moroccan nightmare from her youth when she tries to protect the child of her best friend; and The Forsaken Man, in which Chief of Police Kate Williams finds herself longing for a quiet spring after a long, hard winter. What does she get instead? The theft of valuable bull semen from a local vet and increasingly dangerous vandalism at a construction site.

SDR: Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting, Marcelle! And thanks for being part of the bundle.

The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is available now across many online platforms. Along with Marcelle’s story, you’ll find nine more single stories and five full collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.

An Interview with Douglas Smith – Short Flights Bundle Author

Well, finally I get to chat with a fellow Canadian (and he won’t be the only one in this series, but you’ll have to stay tuned…)!

My interview guest today is Douglas Smith, an award-winning Canadian author of fantasy, SF, horror, and supernatural fiction. Doug is from Ontario, and his work has been published in twenty-five languages and over thirty countries around the world. He’s a three-time Aurora Award winner and has been a finalist for the international John W. Campbell Award, Canada’s juried Sunburst Award, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s ‘Bookies’ award, and France’s juried Prix Masterton and Prix Bob Morane. He keeps a website at http://www.smithwriter.com/.

SDR: As I’ve asked the others, please tell us a little about the story you have in the Short Flights bundle.

DS: In “By Her Hand, She Draws You Down,” Cath, a beautiful sidewalk artist, is driven by a mysterious hunger that feeds from the portraits she draws of her victims. Joe loves Cath, but as Cath’s hunger grows, so does Joe’s fear that one day she may draw him down.

The story was described as “delightfully creepy” by Library Journal, which was just the reaction I was hoping for. It was a finalist for Canada’s Aurora Award and was selected for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror that year. The following year, an indie film maker adapted the story into a 30-minute short film of the same name that went on to a batch of awards around the world when it toured festivals.

SDR: It does sound delightfully creepy! Do you remember what sparked the idea for this story? What was it?

DS: I was staring out a window, the window of a bus to be exact. I wanted to write a story about creativity, but a form of creativity other than writing. Maybe the constant flow of visual images flashing by the window led to the idea of a story about a visual artist. From there, I thought of the portrait artists that I’d often seen during family visits to Ontario Place, a lakefront tourist attraction in Toronto–and Cath and her situation was born.

I also wanted to try my hand at a pure horror story, something that couldn’t be classified as anything other than horror. I don’t know where the idea came from to start with a poem, and I can’t remember if the poem led to the rather long title, or the other way around. But once I had the poem, I had the story structure: single point-of-view, told in four sequential scenes, each introduced by a line of the poem that opens the story.

SDR: Why do you write short fiction? Love, necessity, marketability, or something else?

DS: I’m writing solely at novel length now, but will always keep my hand in writing short stories. I strongly believe that short fiction can help a writer in their craft and career in multiple ways: learning the craft of fiction; experimenting with styles, voice, story structures and points of view; testing the waters to see if editors are willing to pay money for your work; building your resume of writing sales; exploring and building ideas for novels; using short story tie-ins as loss leaders and giveaways to promote related novels; building a network of editors and contacts; raising your profile with award ballot appearances and wins; learning part of the publishing business, and many more. I go into the benefits of short fiction and how to use short fiction as a foundation for a writing career in my writer’s guide, Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction.

SDR: You’ve obviously put a lot of thought into short story writing–what’s the most perfect short story you’ve ever read?

DS: “The Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, which was recently adapted into the movie, “Arrival.” The movie was excellent but the story was much better.

SDR: Are you a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

DS: I’m a “headlights on the highway” writer. I wish I could tell you where I first came across that term, but I can’t. But it fits my approach. I think of it as a compromise between outlining and pantsing.

I’m a character-based writer, so I can’t / don’t start until I know my main characters. I know where I want a book to end up at the climax, and I generally know the main “tent pole” events in the book, typically the big turns, events, or surprises that happen, generally end of Act 1, 2, and before the climax. Then I just start writing, usually with the next 2-4 chapters outlined roughly either in the ms or in my head. If I’m happy with where those chapters go, I move on to the next batch. If I’m not, I fix / change / redo that batch.

The “headlights on the highway” metaphor comes from how the approach resembles driving across a desert at night. You know the highway will get you to your destination town, but you’ve never driven it before. You don’t know what twists, turns, crossroads, etc. you’ll encounter. But you can see enough of the highway ahead of you with your headlights to keep driving.

It’s an approach that lets you make discoveries along the way, but still keep control of the overall direction of the book. Most of the cool things that show up in my stories come from this approach. I know I’d never have discovered them in an outline. The story is discovered in its writing, as someone said. Yeah, I’m not great at attributing quotes.

SDR: I might know that first reference (because I used to have it taped to my monitor!). The one I’m thinking of is E.L. Doctorow: “(Writing is) like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” It’s certainly a similar sentiment, anyway. :)

Do you think there were early influences as a reader that have guided the stories you create as a writer? What were they?

DS: Not sure, but I’ve always been fascinated by shapeshifter stories and have my own Heroka series. That fascination might have come from an early love of anthropomorphic animal stories like those of Beatrix Potter and the “Freddy the Pig” book by Walter Brooks, and later the work of Jack London.

SDR: Do you prefer music, silence, or some other noise in the background when you write? If music, what kind?

DS: I tend to prefer to listen to classical music when I write (with headphones, since I’m often writing in a library, coffee shop, or public place). It drowns out the background noise, since conversations can be really distracting to a writer (we love to eavesdrop). Instrumental music, no vocals, and preferably baroque or early classical. Vivaldi, Corelli, Bach are all good. Their music is more cerebral than emotional, which makes it perfect for writing.

SDR: Tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview!

DS: I’m finishing up the second book in a young adult urban fantasy trilogy. I don’t like to talk about WIPs, so I’ll just say it involves mysterious artifacts, a lost jungle expedition, dream walking, astral projection, rune magic, a search for lost parents, and the end of the multiverse. After that’s done, I’ll write the next book in my Heroka shapeshifter series. I’m also planning a stand-alone novel based on my novelette, “Memories of the Dead Man.”

SDR: Well, thanks for stopping by for a chat, Doug! And thanks for being part of the bundle.

The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is available now across many online platforms. Along with Doug’s story, you’ll find nine more single stories and five full collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.

An Interview with Blaze Ward – Short Flights Bundle Author

Today, we have Short Flights Bundle author Blaze Ward stopping by to answer my interview questions. Blaze makes his home in Washington, and writes science fiction, superhero tales, fantasy, and alternate history. He keeps a website at www.blazeward.com, and you can find him on Facebook, Goodreads, and other places around the Internet. So let’s dive in…

SDR: To start, tell us a little about the story you have in the Short Flights bundle.

BW: “The Librarian” is the first of the Alexandria Station universe stories I wrote. She’s turned into my narrator for over 10,000 years of human history.

SDR: Imagine you’ve been kidnapped or trapped by a natural disaster. Which of your own characters (from any work) would you want to rescue you? Why?

BW: Vo zu Arlo (Jessica Keller books). Man’s a total badass who will stop at nothing.

SDR: Describe your current writing workspace.

BW: The peninsula dividing my kitchen from the living room. Just the right height to stand and work.

SDR: What’s your current writing project? How do you feel about it right this minute?

BW: Seventh Jessica Keller novel: Lord of Winter. Just started Act 3 and can see the end. Really hyped. Also just wrote a short story in the Fairchild universe.

SDR: Do you remember what sparked the idea for your story in the Short Flights bundle? What was it?

BW: I needed to know more about the AI in Javier’s ship, for The Science Officer. Already knew she survived the galactic apocalypse, so put her in a place to be discovered by my favorite salvager: Doyle Iwakuma.

SDR: Do you remember what sparked the idea for any of your stories? Tell us about one.

BW: The Science Officer was something I wanted to write for years, before I discovered that I could just publish stuff myself and make money. Having a character who was a scientist, a botanist, rather than a Jim Kirk/James Bond action figure. I grow things, and wanted to put that into space.

SDR: Why do you write short fiction? Love, necessity, marketability, or something else?

BW: The ability to take the worlds of my novels and spin off little side things about various characters. Or to create new worlds where I can play.

SDR: Do you belong to any writer’s groups or communities? Do you think these types of social interactions are important for writers?

BW: Got a monthly lunch group in Seattle where we talk business more than craft. Won’t do a critique group. They always fail in rancor, or fall apart in indifference.

SDR: Which one of your characters is the most like you? The least?

BW: Vo zu Arlo, probably. He gets his relentlessness from me. His intensity. Javier’s snarkiness and chaos-surfing. Hard to nail one. Most of my characters are actually amalgamations of people I know, where I take bits and merge them.

SDR: Have you written any series characters? What’s their appeal for you?

BW: Bit stories. Jessica is 6 novels now, and will be nine. The Science Officer (Season One) is eight novellas. Season Two will be nine. Everything tends to be serial with me.

SDR: I understand that feeling…like even when the story’s over, the characters aren’t. Do you remember the first story you wrote? Tell us about it.

BW: Absolutely not. Drek, and the statute of limitations has not expired. :)

SDR: Oh, all right. I’ll give you a pass on that one. :) Have you had to deal with bad reviews? How do you manage them?

BW: I never read a review that’s less than 5 stars. Better that way.

SDR: Are there certain themes that keep coming up in your work? If so, is it intentional, or something that just happens?

BW: “Sticking it to the man.” That’s probably intentional, but no.

SDR: Are you a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

BW: Yes. And. Both. Neither. Have done extensive outlines. Have sat down and discovered the next sentence as I typed.

SDR: Do you think there were early influences as a reader that have guided the stories you create as a writer? What were they?

BW: Doc Smith. Isaac Asimov to a lesser degree. Robert Howard. David Drake. CS Friedman.

SDR: Do you think the place where you live (or somewhere you have lived) influences what you write? In what way?

BW: Lived in a LOT of places. August 1990 – October 2001, moved 17 times. Time zones, three. Zip codes, almost all of them.

SDR: What’s the most challenging thing about being a writer in 2018? What’s the best thing?

BW: I am in control of my own career. Someone else is in charge of me making enough money to survive.

SDR: Do you prefer music, silence, or some other noise in the background when you write? If music, what kind?

BW: I zone out noise around me when I work.

SDR: Many writers also put their creativity to use in ways other than writing. Do you consider yourself a “creative person?” What other creative outlets do you have?

BW: Role-playing games. Poetry. Sewing. Gardening. Zen. Archery.

SDR: Tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview. :)

BW: Book six of the Jessica Keller novels, The Red Admiral, comes out May 10. Going to do a special on the first three books in April as a lead in.

SDR: What question do you wish you’d be asked in an interview, but it never seems to come up? Ask it, and tell us your answer.

BW: “Money or fame?” – Money. You can pursue Traditional Publishing and see your name in the bookstore, but most of the people I know doing that still have to have day jobs. And there are few people making a living in TradPub anymore. I retired from a good job as a database architect in February to become a full-time writer, and most people have never heard of me. Making good money, though. :)

SDR: Well, thanks for answering all my questions, Blaze! It’s great to have you in the bundle!

The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is available now across many online platforms. Along with Blaze’s story, you’ll find nine more single stories and five full collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.

Come back next week for more interviews!

An Interview with Linda Maye Adams – Short Flights Bundle Author

We’re back with another author interview today, this time with Short Flights bundle contributor, Linda Maye Adams. Linda lives in Northern Virginia, and enjoys writing science fiction, fantasy, and mystery, particularly military sci-fi, drawing on her own background and experiences. She keeps a website at lindamayeadams.com if you’d like to learn more.

You know, I sent all the authors the same batch of questions and asked them to choose a few and answer them, so I’m really enjoying finding out which ones different authors have chosen to answer. I hope you are, too! Now, let’s see what Linda has to say…

SDR:  Tell us a little about the story you have in the Short Flights bundle.

LMA: My short story is called “Watcher Ghost.” Hope Delgado was recruited by GALCOM, a space military command, because she is the only person who can see and talk to alien ghosts. She is called to an older space station because the ghost haunting it has become violent and she has little time to figure out what he’s trying to tell her.

SDR: I absolutely love the idea of this story! Now, what’s your current writing project? How do you feel about it right this minute?

LMA: It’s the third book in the GALCOM Universe series, called Cursed Planet. Hope Delgado’s on a planet drop to assist Alien Affairs with a mediation over a ghost. But the aliens are hostile to humans and they are difficult to communicate with. I’ve been embracing my nerd side with this one big time—we have zero-gravity, meteorites, and even an aurora. So a lot of fun playing around with the cool side of science.

SDR: Do you remember what sparked the idea for your story in the Short Flights bundle? What was it?

LMA: I was working on the first book in the GALCOM Universe series, Crying Planet, and saw an anthology call. It had just hit me that Crying Planet was actually a series, so I gravitated straight into a short story with the same character for the call. The idea was a haunted space station. The bug sensors came into this story first, so I was adding them in the novel. I think I’ll have one of them floating by in zero-g in my newest story.

SDR: I’m always interested to hear how other writers work. Are you a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

LMA: I’m a pantser. It’s both terrifying and exhilarating to start a story because I truly have no idea what’s going to happen next. I have to write it to find out. It’s kind of like sailors in tall ships going out on the sea with only a general idea of where they’re going and then they discover the island with the lost treasure and gets caught in a nasty storm that hadn’t been there five minutes ago. It’s always an adventure.

SDR: As a fellow pantser, I understand. :)

Do you think there were early influences as a reader that have guided the stories you create as a writer? What were they?

LMA: When I was growing up, there wasn’t much for girls unless it was a romance or Nancy Drew. I liked reading science fiction and adventures, and yet, if there was a girl in the story, she was usually wallpaper. The guys always got the adventures, and the girl got to be rescued. And then I saw Star Trek and Uhura on the bridge in this important and visible role. Even though she didn’t have many adventures, it was a lot more than what I was seeing at the time. So I write about characters I want to see, having adventures.

SDR: What’s the most challenging thing about being a writer in 2018? And what’s the best thing?

LMA: The most challenging thing is discoverability. There’s a lot of books out there, and it’s hard being found in the sea of them. I want to write full time eventually—have always wanted to—but discoverability is happening at its own speed.

The best thing? I can write books about women having adventures and no one’s going to reject them as not being marketable based on an executive’s fear of the risk. Indie really has opened a lot of doors, and places like Bundle Rabbit offer so much exposure.

SDR: Tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview. :)

LMA: I wrote a memoir on what Desert Storm was like, which is currently in a Rabbit Bundle called Remembering Warriors, along with a lot of other great works. Though I confess that adventures are fiction are sooo much better than real-life ones! I also have my GALCOM Universe series, which includes the first book, Crying Planet. That’s about giant yellow alien slugs who are shipping the ghost population to other planets. The second book in the series is Lonely Planet, with a ghost spaceship that collides with the GALCOM space cruiser. It’s up to Hope to figure out how to save the ship. It’s just so much fun having a heroine save the day. I also have a new fantasy short story up called “Dark, From the Sea,” and I bet you never knew the real reason lighthouses exist…

Readers can find more of my writing on my website: http://lindamayeadams.com

SDR: Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with us, Linda!

The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is available now across many online platforms. Along with Linda’s story, you’ll find nine more single stories and five full collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.

Still more interviews to come!

An Interview with Michael Jasper – Short Flights Bundle Author

Today on the blog, we have an interview with Michael Jasper, another author featured in the Short Flights bundle. Mike lives in North Carolina, and “is fascinated with exploring the places where the normal meets the strange.” He should feel right at home on my blog. ;)

SDR: I’m asking everyone the same question to start, so please tell us a little about the story you have in the Short Flights bundle.

MJ: My story is called “Finder,” and it’s the first appearance of my dynamic duo, Bim and Hanky J. These guys have known each other almost all their lives, and now that they’re in their early 40s, they’re starting to find some success with their private-investigation company, Finders, Inc. While Hank is the cut-and-dry fellow who has an unquenchable desire to rescue missing people, Bim is the heavy-set slacker who has a special gift for connecting to people that truly makes Finders, Inc. successful. I’ll let folks read the story to find out how his (somewhat disturbing and gross) gift works. I’ve taken these two characters and expanded their situation into a “slightly paranormal mystery” series called the Finder Team, where Bim and Hank and the rest of their ragtag group solve mysteries and find lost souls in the mountains of western North Carolina, and I’m having a blast telling their stories. The second Finder Team novel, Lost & Finders, is currently underway, and should be done very soon.

SDR: Tell us where you like to write; describe your current writing workspace(s).

MJ: We live in a small log cabin in the North Carolina mountains between the small towns of Boone and Blowing Rock, and my work office and writing office are one and the same: I get exactly half of the loft above our living room and kitchen. I have a combination sitting/standing desk for when I’m doing my day job (I work from home as a technical writer for a software company) and when I’m working on the business side of my fiction writing and publishing gigs. But I usually do most of my fiction writing in my comfy recliner up in the loft, close enough to the window so I can see the outside world (right now, a mid-March snow is softly falling out there), but not too close that I get distracted.

Interestingly, I used to be solely an early-morning writer, but lately I’ve started cracking open the laptop at the end of the day, just to fiddle around with my current project, and I end up writing a short scene or untangling a twisty plot issue, and I’ve been doing that writing work away from my usual writing space, downstairs and usually with my wife and kids around me. I think a change of pace is always good for writers, just to shake things up and to keep us from getting into a rut.

SDR: What’s your current writing project? How do you feel about it right this minute?

MJ: I mentioned Lost & Finders earlier, and it’s the second book in my Finder Team series after Finders, Inc. This book takes place about four months after the first book, but it’s taken me nearly four years to write! I’ve developed a sort of love-hate relationship with it, and I actually didn’t even touch it for over a year because it was frustrating me. So I worked on other projects, but I kept coming back to it. Just recently I figured out what the book was really about, and I am now in the process of finishing it up. I think that it will be one of my favorite creations when all is said and done, just because I struggled so much with it and – more importantly – I learned so much in the process of writing it.

SDR: So you’ve written at least one set of series characters. What’s the appeal of series for you?

MJ: I ended up writing a trio of series by accident, mainly because I kept wondering what those characters were up to lately. My first series, Contagious Magic, ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I had no choice but to keep going with book two (eventually!) and then hit book three as well. My other two series, Finder Team and Family Pack, had some interesting side-roads I wanted to take with the various characters in book two, and I’ve been dreaming about a book three where both of those series converge into this nifty crossover event. I look at a series like a really good premium cable TV series, where you can really dive deep with the characters and show them growing and changing as time passes, even more than you can in a single novel. You also get to tell bigger and bigger stories. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying the learning process.

SDR: Are you a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

MJ: In most of my novels I’ve done serious outlines, which always made the actually day-to-day writing much easier (in most cases!). But lately I’ve been pushing back against detailed outlines and just telling myself the story as I write. It’s scarier that way, and it can lead to a long block of unproductive days if you’re not careful, but I think the stories are always better. I kind of like the risk (if you can call it that) of writing by the seat of my pants.

SDR: As a “discovery writer” myself, I understand (and appreciate) that risk! Now, to finish up, tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview! 

MJ: I’m coming off a year where I more or less had to take a break from fiction writing, because I’d just started a new and very challenging job (as a technical writer at a software company), which I really love. But the job required all of my brain-power and left me a pretty drained, so I couldn’t think about writing fiction when I wasn’t working. But now I’ve got a year under my belt at the new job and I’m finally able to scratch that fiction itch that I couldn’t reach for a long while. So I’m blasting away on my second Finder Team novel and planning out that Finder Team-Family Pack crossover (paranormal private eyes meet a father and daughter who are also werewolves; they fight crime!).

Also, the graphic novel I wrote and my artist friend Niki Smith illustrated was recently optioned for the movies, which has motivated me to start work on Book 2 of that series (the first book was 9 issues, and almost 200 pages of graphic novel adventure). And I’ve got an idea or two for a screenplay. For 2018, I’m planning on publishing my second short-story collection, UnWrecked Tales in April or May, and Lost & Finders comes out in June. Which means I should probably end this interview and get back to my writing. In the meantime, you can follow my writing at http://michaeljasper.net, and keep up with my publishing company at http://UnWreckedPress.com. Thanks!

SDR: Thanks for stopping by and chatting with us, Mike!

The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is available now across many online platforms. Along with Kate’s story, you’ll find nine more single stories and five full collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.

We have more interviews coming soon, so stay tuned!