Author Interview: Felicia Fredlund (Eclectica Bundle)

Hello, everyone, we’re back with another author interview from the Eclectica Bundle, this time with Felicia Fredlund.

Sherry: Welcome, Felicia! To start, tell us a little about the story/book you have in the Eclectica bundle.

Felicia: The story is called “Dear Brother” and is about a young man who is trying to come to terms with his grief over the loss of his brother.

Sherry: Do you remember what sparked the idea for “Dear Brother”? What was it?

Felicia: I lost my mother when I was young, only six years old. When I became a teenager that loss hit me again as if it happened just then. I guess I finally understood she was gone. At that point I wondered how I could ever move on. I eventually had a moment that helped me move on. That moment was the inspiration for this story.

Sherry: Wow, that’s a very powerful motivation for a story. Thanks for sharing that with us.

Do you remember the first story you wrote? Tell us about it.

Felicia: I can’t be completely sure it is the first story I ever wrote, but it comes close. It was somewhere in first to third grade, I don’t know which because I didn’t write a date anywhere. But it was a picture book, and looked kind of like a book with a laminated cover and very simply sewed binding.

It was about a frog who lived in a shoe, and then one day his shoe was gone, so he had to go looking for a new home.

Sherry: That sounds adorable! Do you think there are certain themes that keep coming up in your work? If so, is it intentional, or something that just happens?

Felicia: I fairly recently noticed that almost all my main characters only have one parent left or they have one parent that doesn’t want to be a parent or who is absent in some other way. As I mentioned earlier, I lost my mother young, so I have a feeling that is where it came from. An unconscious bias I now always check for. Not that I always change it (if one parent is gone), but sometimes I do.

Sherry: It’s so interesting how we can do these things as writers and not always realize it right away. Do you think there were also early influences as a reader that have guided the stories you create as a writer? What were they?

Felicia: Absolutely. The first book I remember liking, in fact the book that made me like (and later love) reading was Alanna – The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. Before reading that book, reading was a chore school forced me to do; after reading it, I devoured every fantasy book I could find. I love fantasy, but most of it I read growing up had male main characters (I don’t have anything against that, in fact my story in the bundle has two male main characters), except for Tamora Pierce. (I’m sure there were fantasy with more women/girls, but I wasn’t finding it.)

That fact, that so much epic fantasy (which is what I mostly read back then) tended to have mostly boys or men as main characters (and sidekicks), have made me always check what gender I’m making characters because I have unconscious biases from all I’ve read. If I don’t think about it, all bit-part characters tend to fall into gender stereotypes (healers are women, inn/shop keepers are men, etc.) and I would like to more consciously decide their gender.

Sherry: I completely understand that–I have to do the same thing. What we read when we’re young really imprints on us, I think.

Now, to more practical matters: do you keep a tidy desk/workspace, or a messy one? ;) Do you think one or the other helps your creativity?

Felicia: I do everything better with a tidy desk, but I tend to let it get very messy before I do anything about it and then I bonk myself on the head and wonder why I didn’t tidy up days ago. Hehe.

Sherry: I can sooooo relate to that! 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. :)

Felicia: I mostly write fantasy and a bit of science fiction, but since I have a contemporary story in this bundle, let me point you to another contemporary short story: “At the Traffic Lights.” And if you lean modern, I also have urban fantasy, currently you can find “A Soul Calling,” but I have at least one more urban short story coming sometime this year. If you skew funny in your fantasy “You Can’t Walk Your Rabbit Without a Leash” would be up your alley. The darker side of fantasy comes out in the short story series Sorceress Islands.

Later this year a couple of fantasy novellas will come out, and I’m currently writing several short stories and longer works in a new series that I hope will start being published this year too.

Sherry: Thanks so much for dropping by to chat, Felicia! I’ve really enjoyed it.

Felicia Fredlund writes fiction about entertaining adventures and emotional journeys of interesting people. She currently lives in Japan after a period of traveling.

She writes one series, a dark fantasy series called Sorceress Islands. Her short stories have appeared in several Fiction Rivers.

She also edits. She edited Fiction River: Last Stand with Dean Wesley Smith.

Learn more about her on her website FeliciaFredlund.com, and join her newsletter for up-to-date information about all her books.

And don’t forget to grab the Eclectica Bundle while you can to read “Dear Brother” and many other tales!

Author Interview – Kari Kilgore (Cat Tales #2 Bundle)

Hey everyone, we’re back today with another author interview from the Cat Tales #2 bundle, this time with author Kari Kilgore.

Sherry: Welcome, Kari! Thanks for stopping by. Could you tell us a little about the story you have in the Cat Tales #2 bundle?

Kari: “Wicked Bone” is an Appalachian folktale or tall tale, but it’s one I made up. We start with a rather self-possessed black cat (aren’t they all?), her new-to-cats owner, and the things cats leave as “gifts” for the ones they love.

And things get strange from there.

Sherry: It sounds like fun! Do you remember what sparked the idea for this story? What was it?

Kari: My story “Wicked Bone” got its start when I heard my Mom talk about a person we knew having a wicked bone, in that they couldn’t help doing things that were hurtful. That stayed with me, but as usual it shifted a bit once my writer-mind got hold of it. I combined it with a sort of tall tale I’d heard when I was seven or eight, cast my own cat Loretta as the feline lead, and that was where it started and ended up. I was still quite surprised at how the story turned out!

Sherry: I should mention that’s a picture of Loretta herself with the paperback version. :) Why do you write short fiction? Love, necessity, marketability, or something else?

Kari: So many reasons! Love, yes, and the pure fun of writing them. They’re wonderful for answering questions during a longer story. I often need to know more about a side or offstage event, but I know it won’t belong in the novel. Rather than writing notes or some kind of outline, I tend to just go write the story. Sometimes that turns out to be a piece I can submit to magazines or anthologies. Sometimes it’s more just for me, but that also means I can use it for reader rewards for people who enjoyed the longer work. I took a Series Workshop with Kristine Kathryn Rusch earlier this year that was tremendously helpful for thinking of ways to expand a series with short stories.

Besides the fun and great practice, short stories are wonderful for marketing. When a story is in a magazine (or anthology, or a bundle like Cat Tales #2), your work is in front of many readers who get to discover you for the first time. If they dig your story and go looking for more, you may have a fan, and they may have a new favourite writer. Great combination!

Sherry: What’s the most perfect short story you’ve ever read?

Kari: I don’t believe anything in storytelling is ever perfect, but my favourite since I first read it back in the Eighties is “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut” by Stephen King. It’s about women, driving, freedom, love, and magic, and it has never truly left my mind. Especially on long road trips or when I get behind the wheel of a fast, responsive car! He gets all kinds of well-deserved attention for his novels, but I love his short work as much if not a bit more.

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

Kari: I have several series characters in all lengths of fiction, from short stories to novellas to novels. A few star in all three lengths, and I’ll be doing more of that. I enjoy seeing how the characters change and grow with each new situation, and with the different people they interact with. Even in different genres sometimes, like when characters from a mystery short story series recently encountered a pair from a contemporary fantasy short story series.

It’s fun for me because I already know the characters a bit, so I get to hit the ground running with the story. But at the same time, I’m going to learn more about them every time. I hope readers find characters they already know and relate to, and that they’re excited to follow along on new adventures.

Sherry: Would you say you’re more of a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

Kari: I’m definitely the pantser/gardener type. I was recently on a panel with three other writers who called themselves pantsers, and over the hour I realized I was the purest pantser, in that I truly have no clue what’s going to happen next while I’m writing. Most of them wanted to know the end, or the middle, or the theme, or some other aspect. Not me. I want to enjoy telling myself the story and being surprised the whole way through. I pretty much know what’s going to happen when it happens.

Sherry: I’m with you there! I’ve learned to outline a little when necessity demands it, but I’m pure pantser at heart.:)

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

Kari: Absolutely. My husband Jason A. Adams (another writer) and I live in the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia. We both grew up in other places, but we always came back here to visit and thought of this as home. Now we have an interesting insider/outsider perspective that allows us to really dive in and explore the culture, dialect, and fascinating and sometimes mysterious world that surrounds us. We have a mix of Scots-Irish, Welsh, Germanic, European, Middle Eastern, and African cultures in our mountain region because so many different people came here to work in mining or timber. That mix is reflected in food, oral storytelling traditions, superstition, place names, so many things.

We also both know and love the proud, independent people in our region, and we want to write about that. Appalachia and hillbillies have always been a bit of a punch line, largely because of myths and misconceptions. If a story I write can help people from other areas better understand us, that’s great. But more important to me is showing other native folks an image of ourselves that isn’t negative or derogatory. We have challenges here, yes, just like every other region. We have an awful lot to be proud of, too.

Sherry:  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. :)

Kari: Thank you! I write all over the place as far as genre and story length. Various kinds of fantasy, science fiction, a bit of horror, and even contemporary fiction and romance lately. My twentieth indie title will come out on April 20th of this year. And my first professional short story should be out in Fiction River anthology magazine in September.

As far as cat tales, I’ll have a holiday-themed sweet romance short story that features a cat in a collection from Kristine Kathryn Rusch out over the holidays in 2019. That story will have at least one sequel, since two of my cats haven’t been in a story yet, and they’re starting to wonder why. Another in that collection will be a fantasy short centered on a veteran of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.

Returning to Appalachia, I have a post-apocalyptic series that’s partly set here that will wrap up this year called Storms of Future Past.

Sherry: Thanks again, Kari, this was fun!

Kari Kilgore lives and works in her native mountains of Virginia. From that solid home base, she and her husband Jason Adams find adventures all over the world to bring to life in fiction. Exploring local legends and mythologies in particular delights and inspires them.

Kari writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and she’s happiest when she surprises herself. She lives at the end of a long dirt road in the middle of the woods with Jason, two dogs, two cats, and wildlife they’re better off not knowing more about. You can find her website at karikilgore.com.

And don’t forget to check out Cat Tales #2 while you can! :) I still have a few more interviews scheduled, so check back soon!

Author Interview – A. L. Butcher (Eclectica Bundle)

Hi everyone, we’re back with some new interviews this week! Today I’m chatting with Eclectica Bundle author (and curator!), A. L. (Alex) Butcher.

Sherry: Hi Alex, and thanks for stopping by for a chat! To begin, would you tell us a little about the story/book you have in the current bundle?

A. L.: “Tears and Crimson Velvet” is a short historical fiction based on characters from Phantom of the Opera; set in 19th century France the story follows Madam Giry and Erik (the phantom). She first meets him when he is a performer forced to sing and humiliate himself for the paying public in a travelling fair. They then meet again later, and Erik is in a desperate situation. Giry is the first person to show the confused and disfigured young man kindness, and he never forgets it. This is her story, and their story.

Sherry: That sounds like a fascinating exploration. Do you remember what sparked the idea for this story? What was it?

A. L.: I’ve been a Phantom fan since I was 11. My mother took me to see the stage show in London and I was enchanted. The original book, by Gaston Leroux is a masterpiece of tragic horror/mystery. There are dozens of adaptations of the story – some better than others. Madam Giry is an important character in a few, but a rather comical figure in the Leroux original. I wondered what if – what if she had met Erik before? What was she like as a young woman? What made her the lonely widow we meet? That was the basis of the story. I also have another ‘Legacy of the Mask’ Tale featuring Raoul De Chagny set twelve years after the events at the opera house. It’s sad, haunting and lyrical.

Sherry: I love how you’ve spun so much from this one theme. :) 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?

A. L.: My Archmage Lord Archos. He’s a powerful sorcerer, and handy to have around in a crisis.

Sherry: Yes, I expect he would be! Why do you write short fiction? Love, necessity, marketability, or something else?

A. L.: I write novels, poetry and short fiction. It depends on the stories wanting to be told. Some start as shorts and grow and some reach their peak as shorts. I like reading short stories, and they are fun to write, but in many ways more challenging than a novel. The author only has a short word count to introduce characters, build or describe the world, and get the adventure done.

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

A. L.: Lots! The indie author community is, for the most part, supportive and welcoming. Every author is different, and his or her work is different and many of us don’t have a broad skillset. There are some great writers out their who know nothing about marketing, or networking, for example. Or have the talent but not necessarily the technical skills. Communities and groups can offer support, ideas and teach a new (and experienced) writer some of the skills he or she doesn’t have. Networking is really important – you might have written a great book but if no one knows it’s there then no one will buy it. You may not know the proper genre, or key words, or how to source or make a suitable cover. You may not know that a particular group of readers is really keen on this genre or that.

I’ve made tons of friends, not just people I follow on FB. People I chat to, we share ideas and likes and dislikes, we compare sob stories and successes and we support it other.

Sherry: I have to say I love the collaborative idea behing BundleRabbit and these bundles, and the chance to meet and interact with other writers, as we’re doing now.

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

A. L.: Yes. I’d say most writers have at least one bad review. It happens. At the time I was upset – but now I am not that bothered. I have good reviews as well. Not everyone likes my work – and that is fine. I don’t like every book I read either. I may not necessarily agree with what a reviewer says or thinks but arguing over it is NOT going to help, if anything it will make things worse. It happens. Move on.

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

A. L.: Oh yes. I loved to read, and still do. My father and grandmother would make up stories to tell us, and I think that was a huge influence.

I think CS Lewis – Chronicles of Narnia helped to fuel my love of fantasy, and the classics such as Dracula, Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights gave me the darkness of my own books. Not to mention Phantom – that has been a huge influence on my life – not least a ten-year career working in theatre after I worked on that tour.

Reading to children and story telling is so important. Kids have a vivid imagination and it is great if they are allowed to indulge that.

Sherry: 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. ;)

A. L.: Let me see: I have the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series (currently three novels and working on a fourth.) These are fantasy/fantasy romance with a touch of erotica (i.e. sexy scenes), they are dark – elves are slaves, and magic is illegal so my female lead who is an elven sorceress is in big trouble. Elves have no rights, women have few rights, mages have no rights. The land of Erana is run under martial law by the feared Order of Witch-Hunters and my gang have to avoid their machinations and heavies, whilst trying to bring some good – albeit beyond the law. It’s a dark world.

I also have several short stories set in Erana – the Tales of Erana series; a collection of short family-friendly fantasy stories; a book of poetry, two Legacy of the Mask Tales, and historical fantasy novellas in Heroika: Dragon Eaters and Lovers in Hell from Perseid Press.

I curate bundles too – so I have work in half a dozen bundles and curator only for a few more.

What is next? I am working on a story for Perseid Press, book 4 of the Chronicles and several short stories.

Sherry: Thanks so much for chatting, Alex! I look forward to reading more of your stories!

British-born A. L. Butcher is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as ‘evocative’.  She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.

Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror, including the Legacy of the Mask series. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.

She also curates for a number of speculative fiction themed book bundles on BundleRabbit.

Her short novella Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader’s Award in 2017 and The Kitchen Imps won best fantasy for 2018 on NN Light Book Heaven. Alex is also proud to be a writer for Perseid Press where her work features in Heroika: Dragon Eaters; and Lovers in Hell – part of the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series. http://www.theperseidpress.com/

Remember to grab the Eclectica Bundle while you can for stories from all these great authors!

Author Interview – Thea Hutcheson (Eclectica Bundle)

Welcome back, everyone! Today I’m welcoming Thea Hutcheson, one of the authors from BundleRabbit’s Eclectica Bundle, to the blog for a chat.

Sherry: Hi, Thea, and welcome! To start, please tell us a little about the story/book you have in Eclectica.

Thea: When Megan moves into her new house, things begin to disappear. Weird things like socks, and decorative pins, and a cheap class ring. Things she just saw recently and don’t have a lot of value, but she misses them all the same. She can’t decide whether to blame it on her cheating ex or a klepto ghost. When her best friend sends a geeky ghost hunter her way, Megan finds a new chance for romance and something she never expected in her wildest dreams.

Sherry: That sounds like a lot of fun (and I love that cover)! What’s your current writing project? How do you feel about it right this minute?

Thea: My current WiP is a lesbian urban fairy tale. I love fairy tales. I love to play with them. This one is the second in a series. It is based on the Crystal Orb, the story of a young man, part of triplets whose mother went mad and thought they were trying to steal her power. She had banished two of them and the third got away. He goes on an adventure, meets, giants, acquires a magic hat that takes him anywhere he wants and meets an enchanted princess.

In my story the boy who gets away is a teenage girl and she spends the next thirteen years trying to find a spell to cure her mother’s madness and break the banishing spell that keeps her from her brothers. There’s magic and love and more magic in it.

Sherry: Do you remember what sparked the idea for your story/book in this bundle? What was it?

Thea: I wrote a story a long time ago as an answer to a fellow writer’s claim that no one could make a story about laundry interesting. I flipped the idea and flapped silly thing about, and it became “Fishing”, a story postulating one idea about what happens to the socks in the laundry. It was also my very first professional SF sale. Jim Baen’s Universe published it and then included it in the first Best of Jim Baen’s Universe.

So, I thought it was time to flip that story again and look at it from the other side and came up with “Sock and Pins and Aliens”.

I will have you know, I never lose socks in the laundry anymore as I use these super fancy clips to keep them together. Except that there was this one pair I really like, lacy and slinky, that I never did find after I put them in the washing machine.

Sherry: I also love writing stories in answer to a challenge. :)  And I’m always fascinated by where we get our ideas. Do you remember what sparked the idea for another of your stories?

Thea: Oliver Sacks was a great neurologist and a super cool dude. He wrote a ton of books that, among other things, were full of fascinating anecdotes about people with brain diseases and injuries. He was a wonderful speaker and a frequent guest on Science Friday on NPR. One time, right before he died of cancer (I think or at least they aired it before he died), he told this marvelous story about tripping on acid when he was younger. He was sitting on the floor of his apartment facing a blank wall. “Show me indigo,” he commanded his tripping self. And it appeared on the wall.

After that episode, I wondered what it would be like to have that blob of indigo show up and then walk through it. Where would it lead? That became the kernel of “Seeing Indigo”. I always call it my homage to Oliver Sacks story, even though the only part that relates is the color indigo. But I loved him and I like to think he would have approved.

Sherry: What’s the most perfect short story you’ve ever read?

Thea: There was this story by Kit Reed. I looked for it online, but couldn’t find the collection it was in. It was a perfect set up story. She always had such a wicked sense of humor and timing. I think it was called The Nest. I loved her work. Also, anything by Robert Sheckley. He is wickedly sharp. I wish I could do wicked sharp. Or “At the Rialto” by Connie Willis. I adore her sense of humor and I love to talk politics with her. She is just about the most well-read human I know.

Sherry: I adore Connie Willis!  I wish I could write with the fun and complexity of her humorous stories, and the depth of character of tales like Blackout and All Clear.

So speaking of interactions with other writers, do you belong to any writer’s groups or communities? Do you think these types of social interactions are important for writers?

Thea: I belong to Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and a couple of critique groups. I have a lot of writer friends. I think they are critical. Look, we spend hours in a room by ourselves, making shit up. Our writer friends can help us improve that shit and understand what we go through to get to that golden shit. Plus, they understand, or at least overlook, those weird little foibles we have.

Sherry: Agreed! I treasure my writer friends. Looking back even further, do you think there were early influences as a reader that have guided the stories you create as a writer? What were they?

Thea: Oh, Andre Norton for sure. I loved her books. The librarians would hold them for me and give me a new stack when I came each week. I collected them for a long time. Mary Stewart was another. I loved her books. Danny Dunn books too. I never cared that he was a boy. I took the message that I could do all that stuff myself and so my characters do, too.

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

Thea: Music. I love music, especially love songs when I work. I am especially into Yacht Rock on Amazon Music right now. Great station. Blast from the past and all that.

Sherry: I’m always interested in other writers’ workspaces, too. Do you keep a tidy desk/workspace, or a messy one? Do you think one or the other helps your creativity?

Thea: I have a sign in my office that says, “Tidy people don’t make the kinds of discoveries I do.” I think that says it well.

Sherry: I know what you mean. When I tidy up, I take a picture so I can remember what it looked like. ;) Apart from keeping a messy desk, do you have any writing “rituals”? What are they (if you’re willing to share)?

Thea: I use The War of Art by Steven Pressfield like an AA Big Book, opening it at random now to get a reminder of how creative people combat Resistance.

Sherry: Great idea! So one more question: 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?

Thea: I am creative. I love to fool around with recycled materials. I make petroglyphs from rocks that I get on road trips. My boyfriend is so well trained that he just pulls over now when there are interesting rocks on the side of the road. I often grind up the rocks and mix them with glue and use them to fill in the lines in the petroglyphs. Beautiful stuff, even if I do say so myself.

Sherry: Thea, thanks so much for stopping by to chat; this was fun.

Thea Hutcheson explores far away lands full of magic and science with one hand holding hope and the other full of wonder.  Lois Tilton of Locus called her work “sensual, fertile, with seed quickening on every page. Well done…” Her work has appeared in such places as Hot Blood XI, Fatal Attractions, M-Brane Issue 12, Baen’s Universe Issue 4, Vol. 1, the Beauty and the Beast Issue of The Enchanted Conversation, Realms of Fantasy’s 100th issue, and Fiction River’s Recycled Pulp anthology.  September 2016 will see her latest story, “Hoarding” appear in Fiction River’s Haunted anthology. She lives in an economically depressed, unscenic, nearly historic small city in Colorado with four semi-feral cats, 1000 books, and an understanding partner.  She’s a factotum when she’s filling the time between bouts at the computer. You can find Thea online at her website, theahutcheson.com on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Two New Bundles To Check Out

I’m currently participating in two new BundleRabbit bundles, so I wanted to tell you about them!

The first is Cat Tales #2, a collection of nine magical tales for cat lovers. Smart cats, creepy cats, curious cats, and cats-that-aren’t-really-cats fill this bundle with lots of great stories! As you can see, I’ve made my fantasy short story, “Winter Bewitched” available as a standalone ebook especially for this bundle. It’s only $2.99 for the set, and you can find all the buying links on this page.
Cat Tales Issue #2

The second is Eclectica, a wide-ranging “lucky dip” collection where there should be something for everyone! From fantasy to space adventure, pirates, mystery, horror, historical fiction, romance and coming of age you’ll find short, snappy reads herein. My second short story collection, The Cache and Other Stories, is part of this bundle, so this is a great chance to pick it up along with another eighteen books and stories in the bundle. It’s currently on pre-order for just $4.99 from the retailers on this page, and will release on April 13th.
Eclectica

These are great opportunities to start stocking your ereader with summer reads, so don’t miss out! I hope to have some interviews with authors from both bundles in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Planet Fleep is Here!

Today I’m excited to share my new middle grade novel with you! It’s on pre-order starting today for just .99 (if it’s not available at your favourite retailer yet, it will be along soon!).

Robots don’t always know best!

When a meteorite storm wreaks havoc on their family’s cargo ship, sort-of-twins Rudi and Trudy find themselves stranded on an alien planet. In their search for help, they uncover a fiendish plot against the friendly and mysterious alien critters the twins call “fleeps.” With only an overprotective robot for company, can they survive on their own, find their parents, and save the fleeps from a horrible fate?

I’m really pumped about this beautiful and fun cover from goonwrite.com, and early comments from advance readers are very positive. The print version of Planet Fleep will follow in September, but all ebook formats are available to pre-order now. The book’s official release date is June 20th.

If you can’t wait for the full release, you can read the first five chapters in this preview. You can subscribe to my newsletter at that link as well, but it’s not required.

This pre-order sale is a great chance to pick up a copy for your e-reader, just in time for summer vacation reading to your kids! I promise there’s lots of fun and fast-paced adventure ahead!

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.

Talking About Bundles

I’ve been pretty active with bundles lately, and a good writing friend asked if I could talk about them a little here. So I’m happy to dish the low-down on bundles as I’ve experienced them.

To start with, book bundles are primarily a marketing tool to draw in readers with a good value deal on multiple books, and from the participating authors’ perspective, introduce one’s works to a new audience. Bundles generally originate with publishers, author collectives, or through bundling sites or platforms. They may also be known as “box sets,” which are essentially the same thing.

One of my first introductions to being included in a box set or bundle was one my publisher, Tyche Books, put together a few years back. It was a space opera box set called Rogues, and (from my perspective anyway) sold well. It included the first book in my Nearspace series, One’s Aspect to the Sun, so would serve as an introduction to this series for new readers, some of whom might go on to buy others in the series. Just the other day I happened upon a review of Rogues I hadn’t seen before, and the reviewer said,  “There were a few great stories (I really liked One’s Aspect to the Sun, for example)” so that kind of made my day! This reader might not have seen my book if it hadn’t been in the set, but they enjoyed it and who knows? They might buy Dark Beneath the Moon and Beyond the Sentinel Stars.

While I’m thinking of it, One’s Aspect to the Sun is currently in a new box set from Tyche, called Shadows and Light; it’s a “first in a series” set, again meant to introduce new readers to a series. And it looks beautiful!

A large part of the thinking behind bundles or box sets is cross-pollination–someone might initially buy this set because of one of the other authors included, but then read my book because it’s there, and become introduced to me as a writer in that way. And hopefully go looking for other things I’ve written.

I’ve also worked with a bundling platform called BundleRabbit. BundleRabbit is the brainchild of Chuck Heintzelman, and provides authors with a place to list works they’re willing to have included in bundles. Authors participating in a bundle share in the revenues generated from that bundle. I curated one of the first BundleRabbit bundles, and have just done a second one, the Short Flights of the Imagination bundle. I love short fiction and I’ve wanted to do a bundle featuring short stories for a while now, and it has finally come together. So the curator decides on a vision for a bundle and searches through available titles to find pieces to include. Authors are invited and may accept or decline. Then when the bundle is finalized, hopefully all the authors will participate in sharing and promoting the bundle out to their social networks; this is where more cross-pollination comes into play as readers learn about other authors from one they already know. BundleRabbit does all the heavy lifting of setting up and distributing the files and downloads, participates in promotion, and collects revenue and pays out royalties.

Of course, to list your work on a site like BundleRabbit, you must have the rights to do so; I wouldn’t list my traditionally published titles there because my publishers look after that marketing and have the right to set prices and oversee distribution. However, for my independent titles, I’m free to do as I wish. And of course I mention my other trad-pub works in the ebook files I use for bundles, so it’s roundabout promotion for those, as well.

I’ve been invited to several bundles, some of which are current right now: Immortals, Weird Fantastic Detective Stories, Gumshoes Redux, and Short Flights, which is on pre-sale now and will release in full on March 15th. It’s good to have a variety of titles available if you’re going to get into bundling, and of course, as with all independent titles, they should be of high quality, with professional covers and blurbs, so that curators can include your work with confidence.

More questions about bundles? Ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. Now if you’re looking for some new material for your ereader, be sure to click some of these links… ;)