Author Corner–Kim Williams-Justesen

Today, Kim Williams-Justesen stopped by to chat about her current projects and finalize plans for our Thelma and Louise-style weekend getaway.

E: Welcome, Kim!  Glad you could stop by.  You remembered the bail money, didn’t you?

K: Yeah – I mugged an old lady at an ATM just to be sure I had enough for both of us.

E: You have some new projects in the works.  What can you tell us about them?

K: I’m so excited! I have a paranormal young adult novel called DEATH’S KISS coming out in September from Angelic Knight Press. This story focuses on a 17-year-old girl who can see Death – an actual being who collects souls. She becomes so obsessed with Death that she doesn’t really live. She winds up in a locked-down psych facility where she falls in love with a boy who teaches her to live again. The second story is a contemporary young adult novel called THE DEEPEST BLUE. It’s about standing up for yourself and for what’s best for you even when the rest of the world is telling you that you’re too young to know what’s best for you. It comes out in October from Tanglewood Press.

E: You also write under another name.  What is it and what was the book?

K: I do – it’s my alias (and one of my alternate personalities) – Mimi A. Williams. The book is called BEAUTIFUL MONSTER and I coauthored it with my former writing partner Jared Anderson. This is the story of a charismatic serial killer and one of his victims. We wrote it in alternating chapters between the serial killer and the young girl he stalks. It’s pretty graphic, and pretty brutal, and I didn’t want it shelved near my kids’ books on accident, so I used a pen name.

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E: You’re the first guest that I know of that writes under more than one name.  What is that like on the business side of things?  You know, like filing taxes, and whatnot.

K: Really, it’s no big deal. My contract, my W-2s, my royalty statements all have my legal name. Mimi is only on the cover. It does get challenging when it comes to marketing stuff. I used to have two Facebook Pages, but I’ve just transferred everything to one page now. I think I was worried it would be a bigger issue than it has been, and I do know a few people who’ve used pen names who’ve had various issues with it (like filing a DBA and getting a tax number, etc.) but since I used my legal name for all the legal documents, it’s not a problem at all.

E: You also teach classes and workshops.  Where could we find you if we wanted to take one of them with you?

K: Are you stalking me again? Really? The restraining order is still in place you know! (snickering)

I help out with a lot of local (meaning Utah-based, but I’ve traveled to other states too) conferences. The local libraries have had me come in and do workshops, and this fall, I’ll start teaching for the University of Utah’s Lifelong Learning program – noncredit courses on writing and publishing. I used to teach English and Literature for several local colleges, but I found that didn’t leave me a lot of time for writing, so now I have a boring job that leaves enough brain cells when I get home that I can still write.

E: Your audience is younger than most people who’ve dropped by.  What do you like best about writing for these ages as opposed to writing for adults?

K: I just like writing – whether it’s for adults or for kids. The thing I like about kid readers, though, is their absolute honesty. Adults will get a book (whether from the book store or the library) and then because they have invested time or money (or both) to get the book, they feel like they have to read it. And if someone told them it was a good book, they feel compelled to like it. Kids don’t come with those issues. They pick up a book, and if it doesn’t grab them, they don’t bother reading it. If they read it and don’t like it, they will absolutely tell you. And if they DO like it, they will absolutely tell you that, too! I have wonderful letters from readers who have told me how much they loved my book, and those are the best letters to get! I have a copy of one in my Facebook Pictures that I post now and then when I need a morale boost!

E: What book made the biggest impression on you when you read it?

K: Um – wow. That’s hard. I was one of those kids who got busted reading under the covers, late at night, with a flashlight. I guess one of the most powerful moments in reading came in junior high when I read the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe. Something about the way he told a story just riveted me, and I wanted to be able to do the same thing.

E: Stephen King recently decided that he wouldn’t be releasing his new book in ebook format.  What are your thoughts on that?  Is that something you would ever do, or do you find it’s worthwhile to offer a digital format?

K: I believe each writer has to choose what’s best. For me, digital formats are an important part of getting my story out to the world. I want to make that as easy as possible so that readers have access to my work in a variety of formats. I’m still a big believer in books (I personally love them, love holding them, love owning them – oh, yeah, and reading them, too), and THE DEEPEST BLUE will actually be released in hardback. But it will also be available in digital forms so that no matter what method a reader prefers, he or she can get their hands on my story.

E: Thanks for stopping by.  I’m glad you look really good in orange.  I have a feeling we’re going to end up wearing a lot of it.

K: Thanks, and a big thank you to my guards for escorting me, and for taking off the ankle chains while I was here visiting!

You can find Kim on her website, her blog, and Twitter.

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Screenplay

I’ve mentioned before that I’m unofficially taking a screenwriting class this summer and into next fall that will require me to write a feature length screenplay.  I now have my screenplay.  The title is “Home” and the film is a cross between Gaslight (if you haven’t seen it, go find it somewhere) and The Skeleton Key.  That’s all I’m going to say about it for now.

On a slightly unrelated note, I find I get some of my best ideas in the shower.  I was in the shower when I came up with the idea for this script.  I was in the shower when I came up with the premise of “Blood and Rain.”  I think I was even in the shower when I decided to do a translation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” into a short story.  Where do you guys find the most inspiration?

Author Corner–Charles Day

Today’s guest is Charles Day and his always present Evil Jester.

This is Charles and EJ. Don’t turn your back on the short one. Ever.

E: Welcome to Erindipity, Charles.  First things first, we need to establish some ground rules, boundaries, etc.  Such as “You shall keep your Evil Jester from humping my leg at all times.”  Seriously, get him off me!

C: Hehehehe! Evil Jester, back off! Get over here, and leave Erin’s leg alone.

E: So, what’s the deal with your wicked leg humper, anyway?  You’re the first guest to bring a +1 to the blog.

C: So sorry. Yeah, the evil dude-in-the-box goes with me everywhere. He’s my muse, my alter-ego, my best friend.

E: You’ve been nominated for an award.  Shiny.  What award is it, how did you get nominated, and when do you find out if you’ve won?

C: Yes, I’m still in shock, actually. My very first novel, THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award® in the “Superior Achievement In A First Novel” category. It went through all the voting channels with the Horror Writers Association, when it was down to ten novels it was voted with five other in the Finalist nomination. I received an awesome certificate, and can now use it on all my future books. I’ll find out if I won on Saturday June 15th at the Bram Stoker Awards, being held at the World Horror Convention down in New Orleans. I was also awarded the prestigious “Silver Hammer Award,” for going above and beyond as a volunteer with the HWA as chairperson for their Mentor Program.  So, at least I know for sure I’m coming home with one award. I must say, I’m  real excited, but also extremely grateful to all my fans, friends, and HWA members.

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E: You’re also the proprietor of Evil Jester Press.  Can you tell us about some of the things you publish?

C: Evil Jester Press is open for novel submissions. We are looking for dark and thoughtful novels between 40,000 and 100,000 words for our 2014 line. Selected tomes will fall somewhere in the horror, thriller, dark fantasy, or sci-fi genres. Mash ups are fine, but we’re tired of zombies. Shannon Michaels is our talented Acquisitions Editor, and she will be making the decisions. Send her your best.

E: You have a Young Adult novel coming out.  What is it and when will it be available?

C: Yes, It’s a YA horror/Fantasy western trilogy that will be released by Blood Bound Books soon. The first book in the series is titled THE HUNT FOR THE GHOULISH BARTENDER.  It should be out in a few weeks. It is also in the being developed into a comic book series.  Here is a working synopsis, but this is not set in a gold nugget.

“A NEW LEGEND IS BORN! Spawned in the Old West from the discovery of a magical gold medallion, now in the hands of a vengeful Indian tribe known as “The Redeemer’s.” They’ve summoned a new curse, a terrible evil using a lowly bartender as their bait. However, they only have a piece of this magical gold. The other half is in the hands of eighteen-year-old, Kyle McGertt, who’s just taken over responsibility of the medallion since the untimely death of his father, killed in a gunfight by a ruthless gang of marauders, The Dark Riders. Will he take what his Pa taught him to stop this latest curse? Or will the Ghoulish Bartender continue to grow his army of ghouls, destroying and killing innocent townsfolk in their path of destruction? “ Kyle Book Cover_edited-2

E: I’ve had a couple of people who work both sides of the writing business.  What made you decide to start your own press and what was that process like?

C: Actually, it came to be between a friendship made a few years ago with Peter Giglio. We had done a short story together, and after that we discussed bringing my evil jester icon I used to life, with his very own small press. We never knew it would grow to where it is today. We are selling books and gaining more respect because we pay our 57 + authors on time each month, we never put out less than high quality books, and we are very personable, answering everyone who responds to us on a timely basis, and we get in the trenches with other authors, publishing our own works (Pete & I) with other publishers. Now I have two companies who’ve joined us, and we just recently opened a new imprint, Evil Jester Comics.

E: If memory serves me correctly, you’re a big comic book fan.  What drew you into them and what’s it like creating one?

C: I used to read my father’s old EC comics, and then I started collecting my own, and loved all the marvel comic superheroes. I just couldn’t get enough. I’m going to soon find out what it’s like creating them as our first project with Evil Jester Comics is now in production, and I’ll also have a chance to learn so much as I begin my own series. Not sure who the publisher will be on my creator owned comic. Hell, Taylor Grant, my Editor –in-Chief would have to accept it first. And he’s a tough editor. Hehehe.

E: If you could only publish one more book/project ever, what would be the ultimate submission?

C:  Right now I’m immensely excited about the comic book series Aric Sundquist and I are collaborating on; loosely based on the ADVENTURES OF KYLE MCGERRT trilogy I’m writing and publishing.  I say loosely, because we are developing new characters and perils, that will not be in my series. So those who lover either the comic book series or my trilogy, will be given new material to enjoy.

E: If you could choose any writer, from any period, to have dinner with, who would it be and what would you serve?

C: Joe Hill. We drink a few beers and I’d serve him my wife and daughter’s favorite meal, Steak with mushrooms, red peppers, and onions, drizzled with a steak sauce.

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You can find Charles Day, and by extention his Evil Jester, on Facebook, his blog, at Evil Jester Press, and Evil Jester Comics.

I Love Words

Seriously, I love words.  I have the artistic ability of a cat on meth, so I’ll never be able to paint an awe inspiring landscape or paint a portrait that looks straight into your soul.  I have words, though.  I think of them as crayons.  The more words I learn, the bigger my box of crayons gets, and really, who doesn’t love crayons?

Several weeks ago, I discovered a new word: zugzwang.  It looks funny and it sounds funny, but there are many times in my life where I have been in this position (and not in a chess game).  Not moving isn’t an option, but all of the options you do have are bad in varying degrees.  No matter what you do, you’re going to take some damage.  You can’t ignore it.  You can’t avoid it.  All you can do is choose the best of the worst options, take your lumps, and keep on going.  Obviously, this is my definition as it applies to life.  It has more rigid and official definitions within game theory.  This word called out to me and I decided to make it my own.

I'm glad this isn't Victorian times. I could get stoned for showing you this. And by stoned, I mean people would chuck rocks at me. Rocks hurt.  Screw that.

I’m glad this isn’t Victorian times. I could get stoned for showing you my ankle. And by stoned, I mean people would chuck rocks at me. Rocks hurt. Screw that.

In chess, the best I could hope for is a draw, but in life, I could still yet win.  The trick is to keep on playing.

Screenwriting

One of the things I will be doing this summer is taking a screenwriting class.  I have no idea if I’ll be good at screenwriting or not, but it’s a form of writing I haven’t taken yet and I’m looking forward to trying out a different format to see what happens.  The book we’re using for the class is Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge and I’ve just started reading my assignment for next week.  I have to say I appreciate any book that tells me to go watch movies.  I have been challenged to watch at least two movies a week, so what movies should I be watching?  What are your favorites from 1985 to the present?

Author Corner–Jessica McHugh

So today, I had the pleasure of having the beautiful and wickedly funny Jessica McHugh over for margaritas and some author chat. She wanted me to mention that she has an amazing rack, but I didn’t feel that was appropriate. True, but not appropriate. 

This is Jessica. She needs a refill.  Be right back.

This is Jessica. She needs a refill. Be right back.

E: Jessica, welcome to Erindipity.  Pull up a…Dammit, Charlie!  How many times have I told you “No corpses on the furniture!?”  Ever since Charlie started getting fresh with interviewees, we’ve had a “no corpses on the furniture” policy.  Just shove him on the floor, Jess.  He won’t mind.  Care for a margarita?

J: You read my mind—but make sure to cut me off after a few, or I might end up violating that new policy, too. It’s embarrassing, but I get really careless with my corpses when I’ve been drinking.

E: I almost don’t know where to start.  You have a lot of work out there.  You’re currently working on a re-release, right?  What can you tell us about that?

J: Song of Eidolons is my favorite story I’ve written. Not my favorite all over book or favorite writing, per say, but it’s remained my favorite storyline since 2008. When eTreasures Publishing offered to renew my contract, we decided to give it a better cover and a new revision. It’s been a bit of a tough process, but it will be worth it in the end.

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E: What made you decide to re-release it? 

J: Call me crazy, but I think “Song of Eidolons” needs to be more popular. And there were a few issues that I believe prevented that. 1, it wasn’t available on Kindle before. 2, the cover was terrible. There was some miscommunication there, and I don’t think it turned out how either of us intended. I think people didn’t give it a chance because of that, and I don’t blame them. When I got reviews, the book was always very highly rated. It received 9.5 out of 10 from Indie Author Book Reviews, and I was so proud. But the book still didn’t sell. 3, In spite of the reviews, I think the prose needed some tightening. I divided a lot of run-ons and deleted a LOT of adverbs. It’s going to be a much better book for the re-release, and I’m so excited to reintroduce Delaney Lortal, Dags, and the Orisanima to the world.

E: Like I said earlier, you have a lot of work out there in a relatively short period of time.  Tell us about that process.  Did you have several books saved up, or did you write them and send them out when they were finished?

J: Except for the first three books in the “Tales of Dominhydor” series and my novella “A Touch of Scarlet,” my books were written post-2008, after my first publication “Camelot Lost” was released. I used to write and edit a lot of faster, and I used to work on 2 or 3 projects at a time back then—compared to the 5-7 nowadays. Writing and editing a novel took me 5 months at the most in my mid-twenties. But the editing was terrible, so there’s that. It’s probably better that it takes me forfuckingever now.

This is another one of her many books.  There are strippers and bowling. Seriously, why aren't you buying this yet?

This is another one of her many books. There are strippers and bowling. Seriously, why aren’t you buying this yet?

E: You handwrite all of your manuscripts.  I don’t know if that makes you a genius or insane, or if there’s really a difference between them.  What do you get out of handwriting your manuscripts that you don’t get working off of a word processor?

J: A few people have mentioned my handwritten first drafts like they’re an oddity. I didn’t realize so few people still wrote by hand! I wish I could write on the computer, but it just doesn’t work well for me. With ink in hand, the words come easier—as if the pen knows them before I do. Writing by hand is more visceral, and for me, more enjoyable. I write faster than I type and make fewer mistakes. Plus, a blank page never pressures me like a computer screen.

I really admire folks who can type their first drafts, but this wacky writer chick will always think in (pen) ink! 

E: You have another project you’re working on that you’ve been taking fan submissions for.  Can you tell us about that?

J: With pleasure. By the way, thank you for keeping my drink filled. You should be a professional maid-of-honor. J

For the past few years, I’ve posted Facebook updates on my author page tagged #DeepThoughtsy. My fans really seemed to dig them, so I decided to compile them into a collection called “Virtuoso at Masturbation, and More McHughmorous Musings.” But it’s not just funny one-liners. There will also be writing prompts based on the DeepThoughtsys, and most important, there will be fan illustrations. There are still spots open, so your rad readers can visit for more info or email me to get the list of available DeepThoughtsys. I’m not looking for great artists. Hell, I’m not even looking for good artists. I’m looking for fans, friends, family, and fun to fill this collection, no matter the stage of artistic talent.

E: You’ve worked with a lot of different people over the years, publishers, editors, etc.  What has that experience been like?

J: It’s been a wild ride, for sure, but I think I’d made a decent go at it. Sometimes I don’t see eye to eye with an editor or publisher, but I’ve learned what and when to compromise. Being flexible and having a good attitude is so important in this business—and in life. Without positivity and confidence, no one wants to listen to you, let alone buy what you’re selling. And in this age of social media, I think it’s important to be vocal about how much you love what you do. Publishers nowadays check up on your social media sites—to get a taste of your personality, sure, but also to see your willingness to market your work and what kind of fan base you’ve already established.

Throughout this inky journey, you’re bound to clash with certain people. Just remember that your book is what’s important, not being right. If you have to stand your ground against editors, have good reasons for “your way” and present those reasons with cool confidence. Despite the head butting, you might just earn their respect.

E: You’re not currently working with an agent. There’s a lot out there about the pros and cons of having one.  Is that something you’ve ever considered doing?

J: I’ve submitted to agents before and haven’t gotten any nibbles. Publishers seem to respond to me better than agents do, so for now, I think I’ll just stick with what works.

Unless an agent is reading this right now and wants to play the Represent Jessica McHugh game. In that case, I’ve always thought agents were awesome people and snappy dressers. Hit me up.

E: One last thing before we get back to the serious business of fishing the worm out of the tequila bottle.  What advice can you give about marketing your work and what has worked for you in the past?

J: Like I said before, positivity and confidence are key to marketing, as well as recognizing when to stop pushing your product and show your personality instead. I’m doing a webinar for Promo Day 2013 called “Hooker with a Heart of Ink” which outlines my “rules” for marketing on social media. It’s free to sign-up here and there will plenty of other awesome authors sharing their experiences with the indie author community. But I’ll give your readers a little teaser for my INKTIPS.

Immerse (Engage your audience)
Noteworthy (What makes you different?)
Knowledgeable (Know what you’re talking about)
Transparent (You’re a person, just like them.)
Informative (Promote your work, but know when to stop)
Positive (Good attitude is key)
Share the Love (We are a community)

I’m afraid you’ll have to sign up for the webinar for elaboration. 😉

Gee, I hope my mouth is free of the tequila worm taste by then. 

You can find Jessica nursing her hangover at her website, her Amazon author page, her Facebook page, and on Twitter.

Vacation

I’d like to say I’ve been making tons of progress on Enraptured, but I’m afraid I can’t do that.  I’ve made some progress, but I haven’t been working on it much.  I’m on vacation.  I didn’t go anywhere in particular, and I didn’t do anything new and/or exciting.  But here’s what I did do:

  • sleep
  • baked homemade bread
  • played video games
  • read a book I’ve been meaning to read
  • played more video games
  • saw Iron Man 2 with friends
  • watched Thor on Netflix
  • played even more video games
  • blogged a little
  • managed to get some writing done
  • yep, I’m still playing video games

In fact, even as we speak, I have a character on Lord of the Rings Online riding a horse to Esteldin so I can do some crafting.  And while I’m at it, I’m discussing having bookmarks made up for Celia.  I’m loving having time off to do time wasting stuff.  I’ve got a pot of herbs growing in my office, the garden is planted, and I’m actively avoiding weeding my front planter bed.

Now that my summer work schedule no longer conflicts with the Creative Writing Club meetings, I have a weekly venue to workshop the new parts of Enraptured.  I’m going to be lazy for another week, and then it’s back to work.  I’m still writing the first draft, but the general consensus I’ve gotten from readers thus far is, “Hurry up and finish the damn book!”  I’m taking that as a good sign.

You may or may not know about my website.  I plan on upgrading it later this summer, but I mention it because I have a couple of short stories posted on it.  If you’re interesting in reading some examples of my work, please feel free to pop by the website and have a read.