The Swamp Cat and the Reckless Scout

New short story out today in ebook format (across all platforms!).

Captain Stel Aurora of the Reckless Scout is on a routine ScoutGuard mission when the emergency call comes in – the men of a remote research station are disappearing, possibly kidnapped. The “swamp planet” Inderani B boasts a humid climate, voracious insects…but no other inhabitants, and not many clues to the vanished researchers. It’s a race against time for Aurora and her crew as they delve into the secrets of the jungle, and the mysterious swamp cats who might hold the answers to it all.

This story first appeared in Engen Books’ Pulp Science Fiction from the Rock earlier this year.

Get the ebook for just .99 from your favourite retailer here!

New Book Bundle/Box Set

This week I launched a box set (although ebook only for now!) of the first four Olympia Investigations cases. I’m excited because I’ve been picking away at this idea for a while, and also because I’ve started writing a new novella in this series.

Acacia Sheridan is a private detective with a special gift for communicating with the supernatural. Her clientele includes ghosts, demons, fae, and many more denizens of the otherworld…which makes for some interesting cases. In these first four cases (a short story, two novelettes, and a full-length novella), Acacia and her long-suffering assistant Oliver take on a ghost, a goddess, a vampire, and a coven of witches as clients…and manage to come out alive and still speaking to each other (although sometimes that’s a near thing). Join the urban fantasy fun as Acacia and Oliver bring their deductive talents and sense of humour to bear in dealing with Olympia Investigations’ most unusual clients.

If you love bundle deals, check this one out at your favourite retailer–it’s half the price of buying all the stories individually!

Flights From The Rock takes Flight!

The upcoming anthology from Engen Books, Flights From The Rock, goes on pre-order today and you want to get yours!  This short fiction celebration of all types of flight (but particularly those with a speculative flavour) releases July 14th, 2019, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first non-stop Trans-Atlantic flight from Newfoundland (AKA the Rock) to Ireland. (And just look at that sweet cover art by Kit Sora!)

When the call for submissions for this anthology went out, it caught my imagination and I really wanted to write a story for it. I’d done some peer review work last year with ArtsNL, the Newfoundland and Labrador arts organization, and had spent a good bit of time looking at maps of NL. There’s still much of the province that seems gloriously empty, and it would have been even more so a hundred years ago. Enough empty land, I wondered, to shelter something big…like really, really big…like…dragons? (cue dramatic music). I mean, once man began taking to the skies, they would have become rather crowded for creatures trying to fly under the radar (pun thoroughly intended). Newfoundland might have seemed a great place to escape to…until the Trans-Atlantic air race brought the annoying flying machines even there.

Thus was born my story, “Unquiet Skies,” a tale of a boy, a dragon, and the Trans-Atlantic air race, which you’ll find along with twenty-six others in this anthology of alternate histories, adventures of lost planes, steampunk tales, modern epics, and more. The book opens for pre-orders today at just $2.99, and could reach the Amazon bestsellers list, as others in the From The Rock series have done. So if you’re interested in stories that showcase “the invention, imagination, and prestige that brought us to the skies,” this book is for you! Order today and help us reach bestseller status!

OWS CyCon 2019 World-Building Showcase – Alice de Sampaio Kalkuhl

As part of OWS CyCon 2019, I’m hosting a stop in the World-Building Showcase Blog Hop. For this intriguing stop, we’ll be highlighting an Unbound to Earth tale (that is, the action is not necessarily set on Earth), but a full list of authors and topics is available on the CyCon website. I’m pleased to be hosting author Alice de Sampaio Kalkuhl for this installment of the hop, where we’ll find out more about the world of Alice’s series, Misguided Minds.

Q: Before we dive in to the specific questions about your world, what is Misguided Minds about?

Alice: The series is about how a group of researchers and the people who pick up on their work later use physics to alter the very concept of reality. Their research ultimately leads to space travel which opens the world up to a whole new  reality.

Q: That sounds fascinating! Does language play any role in your world? Does everyone speak the same language, or is there variety? Did you invent any new slang or terminology during your world-building process?

Alice: Equations play a role and following the principle of Mathematics as a sort of language. They all speak equations. Obviously, the aliens that turn up in the later books have their own languages, but I don’t plan on writing any of the languages.

Q: So, what about the world (or worlds) in the series…what kinds of climates do your characters experience? Do they see a lot of change or is it always the same? Has your world always had this kind of climate, or has it changed over time?

Alice: The climate on earth is the climate on earth, though as the years progress climate change affects the planet. In space, all planets have different climates, and, on each planet, the climate varies between places.

Q: Is there any kind of faith system in your world? Did you draw inspiration from any real cultures, living or dead?

Alice: No, most of the researchers are atheist. A few of them have their own beliefs, but they don’t placate them around.

Q: What do people in your world do for fun? Are there sports, games, music, or other activities they do in their free time?

Alice: There are a couple of amusement planets and the researchers always made sure to bring some sort of music they do, no matter what they do.

Q: What kinds of transportation and other interesting technology do your characters have access to? Are they ahead, behind, or a mix of different kinds of tech compared to where we are now?

Alice: Throughout the series, the development of technology is one of the key results of the research.

Q: Do you have different races or enhanced humans with their own unique abilities inhabiting your world?

Alice: Yes, there are aliens, both in the books taking place on earth and elsewhere. A few of the characters also develop cyborg technology that is later implemented.

Q: Let’s talk a little about your process. When you build a world, do you do a lot of research upfront, wing it completely, or something in between?

Alice: I am a research student. My favourite inspiration is research papers. Whenever I see something that would make for a good aspect to a story, I write it into the notes to my writing project. Another thing I use is pages from the vogue.

Q: How central is the setting of your story to the story itself? Is it more of an interesting backdrop, or is it integral to the events of the story?

Alice: I use setting as something that I set the characters into, not something else.

Q: When helping the reader get to know the world you built, what techniques do you use? Do you tend to be upfront about things, or keep the reader in the dark and feed them only bits at a time?

Alice: I feed readers information one aspect at a time. Long expositions only bore everything.

Q: How much of a role does realism and hard scientific fact play in your world-building? Do you strive for 100% accuracy, or do you leave room for the fantastical and unexplainable in your world?

Alice: A lot. I don’t strive for 100% accuracy. What I strive for instead, is inspiration by research. Extra-information will turn up on my website though and that’s why I occasionally write short stories for.

Q: Do you have any specialized training or background from your “real life” that has informed your world-building?

Alice: I’m about to finish a BSc Genetics which helps with developing new species and I studied a little Physics in the past.

Q: How do you keep all of the details of your world and characters straight? Do you have a system for deciding on different factors and keeping it all organized, or does it live more in your head?

Alice: I write all my books in LaTeX projects which allows me to have note documents. It’s like free Scrivener with programming.

Q: Did you experience any difficulties while building your world? Any facts that refused to cooperate or inconsistencies you needed to address while editing

Alice: It’s difficult to make sure that any new planet ends up being diverse in climate, species distribution, and culture. One thing I did was to design two species per new planet at least and to try having them not be too humanoid.

Alice, thanks so much for dropping by to chat! Where can people find you on the web?

Alice: If you want to find more about my science fiction stories, check out my booth for OWS CyCon. All my stories are available on Inkitt. The Hyperspace Hypothesis which is the first in the series can be found here. For more details on my science fiction check out my website and my blog posts on my science fiction books.

For more stops in the OWS CyCon World-building Showcase, visit the tour page on the OWS CyCon website.

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 – Donald J. Bingle (Eclectica Bundle)

Sherry: For today’s interview, we’re back to the Eclectica Bundle from BundleRabbit. Joining us this time is Donald J. Bingle, whose collection of four steampunk stories appears in the bundle. Welcome Don! Tell us a little about your contribution to this bundle.

Donald: I’ve written more than fifty published stories over the years, many of them for themed anthologies by DAW or other companies. Since I write in multiple genres, once rights revert I publish the stories in small groups by genre or setting. These are all steampunk or historical fiction pieces.

Sherry: I see one of them appeared in Mike Stackpole’s Chain Story project; I was part of that fun project, too! You’re very prolific, so you should have lots to choose from for my next question: 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?

Donald: Dick Thornby, the main character in my spy novels series. Dick is a practical, no-nonsense guy, who does whatever needs to be done to accomplish the task.

Sherry: Do you remember what sparked the idea for any of your stories in this bundle? What was it?

Donald: My collection has four stories, so I’ll just talk about the first one, “Dashed Hopes.” When I was asked to contribute to a steampunk romance, I remembered a conversation I had with a client in the mining business. They have a gold mine on Admiralty Island in Alaska, which they said I could visit. Since I have phobias about both suffocation and freezing, I asked how much above sea level the mine workings were. They gave me an odd look and said the mines were well below sea level and that the English had been mining coal under the North Sea for well over a hundred years. That gave me a setting for my romantic adventure and an idea for a steampunk invention.

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

Donald: Not sure it was my first, but I still have an old story about sunflowers worshipping their god by turning their heads to follow his arc across the sky each day. The potential sentience of plants comes up from time to time in stuff I writer—mostly as a joke, but you can never tell.

Sherry: As someone with a long publishing history, have you had to deal with bad reviews? How do you manage them?

Donald: Like many writers I am more frustrated by a lack of reviews than by what people say in their reviews. One thing that irks me is when people assume things about me, my likes or dislikes, or my politics based on a story. Even though I am a big-time gamer (board games, card games, railroad games, and role-playing games) one reviewer said one of my stories proved I hated games and gamers. Nah, that story was simply written to fit the theme of the anthology it was originally written for.

Sherry: You mentioned the idea of plant sentience earlier; are there other themes that keep coming up in your work? If so, is it intentional, or something that just happens?

Donald: Recurring themes in my work include the nature of reality, causation/unintended consequences (everything is more complicated than most people imagine), time/time travel, and dark humor. Since I control my writing and my characters (I hate it when people say their characters just do what they want to), I guess it must be intentional.

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. :)

Donald: I have two books in my spy thriller series: Net Impact and Wet Work. If sales warrant, I’ll write a third (Flash Drive). If not, I’ve got plenty of other things I can write instead, from other novels to short fiction to screenplays to ghostwriting work. A Writer on Demand (TM) adapts to what the market wants.

Sherry: Donald, thanks so much for dropping by to talk about your work! I’m looking forward to your tales in the bundle.

Donald J. Bingle is the author of five books and more than fifty shorter tales in the science fiction, fantasy, thriller, horror, mystery, steampunk, romance, comedy, and memoir genres. He has written short stories about killer bunnies, civil war soldiers, detectives, Renaissance Faire orcs, giant battling robots, demons, cats, werewolves, time travelers, ghosts, time-traveling ghosts, spies, barbarians, a husband accused of murdering his wife, dogs, horses, gamers, soldiers, Neanderthals, commuters, kender, Victorian adventurers, lawyers, and serial killers (note the serial comma). Of those subjects, he has occasional contact in real life only with dogs, cats, gamers, lawyers, and commuters (unless some of those are, unknown to him, really time travelers, ghosts, demons, serial killers, spies, or murder suspects).

Find Don online at his website, www.donaldjbingle.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

And don’t forget to pick up the Eclectica Bundle for Don’s stories and more!

Author Interview – Bonnie Elizabeth (Cat Tales #2 Bundle)

Sherry: We’re back today with another interview! This time I’m chatting with Bonnie Elizabeth, another author in the Cat Tales #2 Bundle from BundleRabbit. Welcome, Bonnie! To begin, please tell us a little about the story/book you have in this bundle.

Bonnie: “Familiar Trouble” was a short I wrote for a Halloween themed call. I have cats and blogged as my cat for years so I have a fan base that are all about cats, so I wanted something that featured a feline. This was from the cat’s point of view and has become one of my most popular stories. It’s got it all—a feline familiar who is the hero of a Halloween tale that could end in disaster.

Sherry: I’m getting the feeling that the Cat Tales bundle is a perfect fit for you! :) 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?

Bonnie: My main series is the Whisper series, a contemporary fantasy series set in King County Washington. If there was a natural disaster, I’d love to have Peter rescue me. Beyond the fact that he’s very sexy, he’s also an earth spirit, so that gives him an edge on any type of natural disaster. I expect I’d be in good hands.

Sherry: It sounds that way! Why do you write short fiction? Love, necessity, marketability, or something else?

Bonnie: Short fiction is a way for me to practice something new, think about new characters. Many of my shorts end up not being shorts but they are sort of envisioned as shorts in the beginning! I like short fiction, but my mind tends to run to novels, always over-complicating the plot of my would-be shorts. I think they are great marketing tools, learning tools, and also help my subconscious figure out world building details for longer fiction.

Sherry: Speaking of world-building, do you think the place where you live (or somewhere you have lived) influences what you write? In what way?

Bonnie: I lived in the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years. Whisper is set there. I love the landscape, the mountains and trees and that influences a lot of what I write. When I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, my next door neighbor was from a small town near Hickory, North Carolina. She loves my writing and as we talked, another contemporary fantasy was born set in that part of Appalachia. I like setting things in the Appalachians because I tend to write contemporary fantasy and there is something about those old mountains that lends itself both to that and to a kind of Gothic suspense that I also enjoy writing.

Sherry: What’s the most challenging thing about being a writer in 2019? What’s the best thing?

Bonnie: I think the most challenging thing for me about being a writer is getting noticed. I’m not much of a marketer and putting myself out there is tough but I’m learning things, though I feel like my learning curve is slower than most. But I keep working it. I love that I can write what I want and get it out there with eyes on it quickly, though.

Sherry: To finish up, please 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. :)

Bonnie: I write mostly contemporary fantasy. The Whisper series is currently at nine volumes, and yes, there’s a cat in it—well, sort of. Zari A looks like a cat and mostly acts like one, but she’s actually an alien who was studying our world. Her mistake was that she thought cats were the apex species. Oops. At any rate, she’s telepathic and helps out with all sorts of odd mysteries because nothing is quite what it seems in Whisper. I’m currently working on book ten and hopefully by June I’ll have it to the editor. It’s slow going as I’m also in the process of moving yet again (hopefully for the last time for a good many years!). I also have The Appalachian Souls Duology and two standalone contemporary Gothic novels.

Sherry: Bonnie, thanks so much for chatting with me today! I look forward to reading your story in the bundle!

Bonnie Elizabeth could never decide what to do, so she wrote stories about amazing things and sometimes she even finished them. Floating through a variety of jobs, including veterinary receptionist, cemetery administrator, and finally acupuncturist, she continued to write stories. When the internet came along (yes, she’s old), she started blogging as her cat, because we all know cats don’t notice rejection. Then she started publishing.

Bonnie writes in a variety of genres. Her popular Whisper series is contemporary fantasy and her Teenage Fairy Godmother series is written for teens. She has published in a number of anthologies and is working on expanding her writing repertoire.

She lives with her husband (who talks less than she does) and her three cats, who always talk back. Bonnie keeps a website at www.bonnieelizabeth.com, and you can also find her author page on Facebook to keep up with the latest news and releases!

Readers, I’ll be back with more interviews soon, but in the meantime, don’t forget to check out Cat Tales #2 while you can!

Author Interview – Barbara G. Tarn (Eclectica Bundle)

 

Sherry: Hi Barbara, and thanks for chatting with us today! To get things started, please tell us a little about the story/book you have in the Eclectica bundle.

Barbara: The Hooded Man is set in my fantasy world of Silvery Earth, in the southern kingdoms inspired by India and Persia. There isn’t much magic, since at this time the Magical Races are hiding from Humans. This novella won Honorable Mention at Writers of the Future Contest and is now being produced as audio book as well.

Sherry: Wow, very exciting! So with that in the works, what’s your current writing project? How do you feel about it right this minute?

Barbara: I have dived back into the Star Minds Lone Wolves Team missions and I had to reread the books because the first fifteen missions were written last summer, so I needed a reminder of where my characters were at. I still love them and plan another fifteen stories. And another short novel about another Lone Wolf that came up to mind while I thought about them.

Sherry: Sounds like that’s going to keep you busy for a while! Do you remember what sparked the idea for your story in Eclectica bundle?

Barbara: It’s my version of Zorro (he leaves the sign of the Goddess Zindagi, so theoretically a Z), but set in India instead of South America, so to speak. He goes back to his hometown after thirteen years in the hope of getting his childhood love and finds an evil governor at the helm – and of course the bad guy wants his ladylove too…

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

Barbara: The only series of short stories is Star Minds Lone Wolves Team. I wrote the (short) novels first, exploring the characters (Adventurer, Pilot, Hacker, Thief, Mercenary and Freelance), and at the end of Hacker they decide to form a team of mercenaries. Some of their jobs are incorporated in the novels (Thief and Mercenary), others in the Shorts connected to them. I love the Youngsters (Icy Aya, her ex Jes-syd, Shanell) and mostly their “leader” Hariel, who also gave me an idea for the umpteenth Lone Wolf. Then there’s Cherry and now, in the second batch of missions, we have two new members, Cyrus and L’ill’oreta… just love those guys, but they’ll end up in couples, so wouldn’t be considered lone wolves anymore, right?

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

Barbara: Oh yeah. “The Glass World,” summer of 1978. It was even illustrated by yours truly, handwritten on a yellow notebook. I recycled it in two of my fantasy novels.  I tried to keep the style through the translation. Half is in Chronicles of the Varian Empire ・ The Spell, the other half is in Books of the Immortals ・ Water.

Sherry: I always say nothing we write is ever really wasted. :) Are there certain themes that keep coming up in your work? If so, is it intentional, or something that just happens?

Barbara: Most of my protagonists are from the 4 “O” against society (something I learned at a panel at a Screenwriting Expo), usually either Outsiders or Outcasts – which is how I feel most of the time – sometimes Outlaws and rarely Others. For a clearer definition of the 4 “O”:

Outsider is his own worst enemy, he can’t get back into society unless he is able to change.

Outcast recognizes that his skills carry a price and he cannot live in the embrace of society, so he stays out of it.

Outlaw is outside of the law and all society, doesn’t care what society says and follows his own terms, rules and laws.

Other is the society destroyer, thinks himself as a world-saver the world is corrupted, and he wants to make a new one.

I think it’s intentional, since I do feel an outsider on this planet! :)

Sherry: That’s so interesting! I don’t think I’ve come across the 4 O’s before, but I can see how they would be interesting to consider when thinking about characters. And speaking of thinking about characters (and stories), are you a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

Barbara: Pantser. I outline only when I write in a historical frame, then I need to keep the dates of historical events straight, LOL!

Sherry: Pantsers unite! I dabble in outlining, but only when I really have to! :) Now, I’ve found that 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?

Barbara: Drawing! I’m a professional writer and a hobbyist artist! To relax I do color pencil portraits of celebrities (currently Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan, previously Keanu Reeves, a.k.a. Da Muses), I’ve done a graphic novel for Silvery Earth and I’ve started a strip/web comic but I’m still trying to figure out where to post it.

Sherry: That’s something else we have in common–I love working in colored pencil, although I haven’t done it in a while. So to close out our chat, 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. :)

Barbara: I have four main series and a few standalone. Silvery Earth is made of standalone books that cover 500 years of its history, more or less. Star Minds is a science fantasy saga, now in its third generation. Vampires Through the Centuries is historical fantasy and it’s now merging with Future Earth Chronicles, since who else can survive the apocalypse of the Western Civilization better than vampires? It’s mostly SFF, but there are some contemporary stories in the standalone section…

Sherry: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today, Barbara! I can’t wait to dive into this bundle. :)

Barbara G. Tarn had an intense life in the Middle Ages that stuck to her through the centuries. She prefers swords to guns, long gowns to mini-skirts, and even though she buried the warrior woman, she deplores the death of knights in shining chainmail. She likes to think her condo apartment is a medieval castle, unfortunately lacking a dungeon to throw noisy neighbors and naughty colleagues in. She’s a writer, sometimes artist, mostly a world-creator and story-teller. Two of her stories received an Honorable Mention at the Writers of the Future contest. One of her stories has been published in Pulphouse Magazine #5 (March  2019). She writes, draws, ignores her day job and blogs at: http://creativebarbwire.wordpress.com. You can also find her titles and visit her author page at Amazon Author Central to learn more.

And don’t forget to pick up the Eclectica Bundle for Barb’s story and more great reading!

Author Interview – Joslyn Chase (Cat Tales #2 Bundle)

Sherry: Hi Joslyn! Thanks for joining us for this interview. To start, please tell us a little about the story/book you have in the Cat Tales #2 bundle.

Joslyn: Death of a Muse introduces David Peeler, an up-and-coming sculptor who loses his career, his fiancée, and everything else that matters to him with the slice of a surgeon’s knife. The procedure to remove a small, benign tumor in his frontal lobe leaves him with a TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury, which changes his personality such that he doesn’t know how to live with himself anymore. And doesn’t want to. In a last ditch effort to regain some semblance of his former life, he visits an artist retreat. While there, he becomes involved in a murder investigation and discovers aspects of the new David Peeler that may reignite his spark for life.

Sherry: Sounds intriguing! Do you remember what sparked the idea for Death of a Muse?

Joslyn: The idea for Death of a Muse hit me while I was reading Lisa Cron’s marvelous book, Wired For Story. She was relating how important emotion is in everything we do, how critical it is for making decisions, and she told of a man who underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor and lost a minute piece of his frontal lobe, radically affecting his emotions. Post-surgery, he was unable to make the simplest decisions, because he just didn’t care. He was unable to place values on the different options and therefore found it impossible to choose one over the other. I found this fascinating, and the idea for David Peeler, an artist in a similar situation who has to relearn how to be himself, was born.

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

Joslyn: I love short suspense! Ever since I discovered a stack of old Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines in my grandma’s basement when I was just a kid, I’ve been a huge fan of those nugget-sized pieces of pure reading pleasure and been seized with the desire to create that kind of reading experience for others. From a practical standpoint, short stories are quicker to produce and have huge potential for advancing a writer’s career. There’s so much you can do with them—market to magazines, use as reader magnets or bonuses, bundle it up like Cat Tales and team with other authors to reach more readers.

Sherry: Oh, wow, I used to devour those mystery magazines! Their influence definitely shows up in how often I integrate mysteries into other genres. :) But back to you…are you a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

Joslyn: I am definitely an architect, master planner type. I love this part of the writing process and find it to be the most creative and the most fun. This is where I ask myself what if questions and let the story rove all over until it takes shape. Then I outline that shape, scene by scene, so that when it’s time to write, I have a clear objective for each scene and a story that has a good chance of satisfying the reader because I know, in advance, it’s got what it takes. The outline is not a cage, but a structure like a trellis to support my story as it grows. There are still plenty of surprises and flashes of inspiration to be had as the writing progresses.

Sherry: Well, we’re complete opposites in that department. :) But I’m always interested in how other writers work. Do you prefer music, silence, or some other noise in the background when you write?

Joslyn: As a musician, I find it very difficult to work while music of any sort is playing. If there’s music, I’m compelled to follow it, to get lost in the patterns and beauty of it. It takes me to a different place than I need to be for my writing. I prefer quiet, but if there’s a lot of background noise, I like to use the sound of a rainstorm to cover it and let me write effectively.

Sherry: 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?

I definitely consider myself a creative person. I’m a musician and I write songs, as well as prose and poetry. I also like to write arrangements of other people’s songs, often combining two pieces or using the meter from one piece to create a new version of a different piece.

I’m also creative in the kitchen. I like to cook and bake and make too many things that are way too delicious. I’ve had to curtail my kitchen activities as my metabolism slows with age. While that’s a big bummer in some ways, it gives me more time to write, and that’s good!

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. ☺

Joslyn: I’m currently working on two projects scheduled for release in 2019. I’m very excited about Steadman’s Blind, which is a paraquel to my thriller, Nocturne In Ashes. In other words, it takes place at the same time and in the same setting, and some of the scenes and characters intertwine between the two stories. Fascinating stuff! In Nocturne, Mt. Rainier erupts, causing all manner of devastation and trapping my heroine, Riley Forte, in a small community stalked by a killer. She teams up with Nate, a homicide detective out of his jurisdiction, who manages to get a message to the local sheriff’s dispatch, but it takes three days for the deputies to arrive. Steadman’s Blind is their story—those two deputies—and it’s packed with action and suspense! It’s set for release on November 19th.

In addition, I’m working on an audio version of The Tower, a romantic suspense set in the aftermath of WWII. Plus, I’ll have a new audio story and eBook which I plan to release exclusively to my reader’s group as bonuses this year—one in June and one as a Christmas present. Sign up to join us and get the goods!

Sherry: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Joslyn! I look forward to reading Death of a Muse.

Joslyn Chase writes suspense fiction, ranging from mysteries to thrillers with an occasional dip into the horror genre. She is a classical pianist, music teacher, and storyteller who loves American History and holds a degree in American Studies. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest, with her husband, a dog, and at least one child at any given time, but has previously resided in Spain and Germany as well as various locations in the United States. Joslyn keeps a webpage at joslynchase.com, and you can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads, where you can watch a video trailer for Death of a Muse.

And don’t forget to check out Cat Tales #2 while you can!