A quick note to tell you about two flash sales happening right now! The Murder Prophet and The Seventh Crow are both on sale for just .99 for a limited time! The only exception is The Seventh Crow on Kobo, where the sale will happen a little later in the month. I’ll let you know when!
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).
And don’t forget to pick up the Eclectica Bundle for Don’s stories and more!
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!
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!
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.
And don’t forget to check out Cat Tales #2 while you can!
I have something fun coming up over the next few weeks–a series of author interviews! I’ll be chatting with other authors who have stories in the two new BundleRabbit bundles I recently told you about. Cat Tales #2 features nine magical tales for cat lovers, and Eclectica offers nineteen short stories and collections with something for every taste.
The interviews start tomorrow, so keep checking back!
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.
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.
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.
I have stories in three–count ’em, three!–currently running giveaways over on ProlificWorks (formerly Instafreebie). There are some great-looking reads on offer (no strings attached!) and I’m about to gather up a few myself, but I thought I should tell you about them here, first. They’re all running as of this posting, so I’ll just include the end dates with the descriptions:
“Come join the celebration of horror, Halloween and the annual October Frights Blog Hop! Enter if you dare, into worlds that will send shivers up your spine and make your blood run cold.”
Click here to check it out. Runs until October 15th.
“If your heroes are Laura Croft, Katniss Everdeen, or the Atomic Blonde, you’ll find all these books feature Women as their main characters. They could be a Heroine or Villain, Adventurer or Scientist, Captain or Crew member, Alien or Earther. All timelines are included. Pick a few or choose them all. Find your New Favorite Author and leave a Great Review.”
Click here to check it out. Runs until October 30th.
“Dark Fantasy and Horror and other dark fiction. Paranormal heroes and dangerous creatures. Ghosts, demons, ghouls vampires. This is the promo that will freak you out.”
Click here to check it out. Runs until November 6th.
Today, October 11, has been designated “International Day of the Girl” by the United Nations. The theme of the day is “With Her: A Skilled Girl Force,” and it’s meant to draw awareness to girls as they “inspire, innovate, and take charge of their own future.” Although many girls face adversity and roadblocks to education, entry into the workforce, and access to information and resources, they continue to persist, resist, and make their voices heard.
I wanted to do a little something to mark International Day of the Girl, so I chose one of my stories about a smart and capable girl and made it free for the day. “Trench 42” introduces us to Amari, living with her scientist parents on a deep-sea research station and loving the creatures that live in Earth’s largely unexplored depths. Amari makes a discovery, however, that could change the world…
“Trench 42” first appeared in the 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide from Dreaming Robot Press, part of an anthology series that is working hard to provide young readers with diverse, fun, and empowering science fiction.
I’m happy to share the new covers for my Olympia Investigations series here today! I love the way the new covers tie the series together. You can find out more (including retailer links) for these ebooks on the Olympia Investigations page.
And in other news…the fourth in the series is currently underway. :)