Author Corner–Essel Pratt

Today’s blog features Essel Pratt.  Essel and I go way back, as he <ahem> kindly points out.

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E: Heya, Essel.  Long time no see.  Glad to finally have you on the blog.

EP: Great to be here!  It has been a long time, high school wasn’t it?  Man, now I feel old.

Thanks for pointing out we’re old now.  Jerk.  Just kidding, Essel.  Sort of.

E: You’ve been recently published in Blood Type: an Anthology of Vampire SF on the Cutting Edge.  What was your story?

EP:  My story is titled “Damned to Life” is about a young female vampire that was trapped in a basement pit by a man that tortured her every day, suppressing her supernatural powers.  When she finally frees herself, she finds out some unexpected details about her existence.  Oh, and there is glitter, but not in the popular movie vampire sort of way. 

I loved writing the story and had a lot of fun doing so.  I actually have an idea fermenting in my mind to create a full novel from the short.  However, I want to finish a few other ideas first.  Blood Type:  An Anthology of Vampire SF on the Cutting Edge is also a charity anthology, where the funds go to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Fund, so you are not only purchasing a fantastic book (with other authors such as Peter Watts, William F. Nolan, and Mike Resnick included within), you are also helping out a great cause!

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E: You’ve also got several other stories accepted.  Can you tell us about a couple of them and when they become available?

EP:  Absolutely.  One of my upcoming pieces will be included in the Hero’s Best Friend Anthology, by Seventh Star Press.  This one is about the unsung animal friends that fight alongside the heroes within most stories.  This story, titled “Brothers” is a little different than my normal works because it is not exactly horror themed, but more fantasy.  It takes us to a time after a battle the human and wolf companion shared, where they meet again.  The ending is rather sad, but touching.  It is estimated to release near the end of December.

I have another short that was accepted into Horrified Press’s Nightmare Stalkers and Dream Walkers Vol.2.  The story, titled “Makin’ Bacon” is a strange tale of a beast that is found in the kitchen and wreaks havoc with the lady of the house.  However, he does leave a pleasant surprise for the man of the house in the morning.  This anthology is still in the works and does not have an exact release date as of yet.

E: You’re involved with the Horror Writer’s Association (HWA).  What did you have to do to become associated with them and what all do you do for them?

EP:  Joining the HWA is fairly easy, and the level that you join at is dependent upon your level of writing success.  When I joined, I had not yet sold any stories at professional rates.  So, I am currently a supporting member.  Now that I have a few pieces sold at pro rates, I will attempt to upgrade to an affiliate level when it is time to renew my membership. 

Currently, I am the HWA’s Event calendar Coordinator.  Despite the grandiose title, I essentially review all upcoming events that are submitted from current HWA members (Book signings, lectures, roundtables, etc.) and ensure they are entered into the event calendar for all to view.  Once a month I compile the events and submit them to the monthly newsletter.  There are some amazing events that occur each month, especially the HWA roundtable discussions.

E: For people who aren’t associated with a writers’ guild, can you tell us about some of the benefits to being a member?  What’s in it for you?

EP: I definitely recommend joining a writers guild, there are quite a few benefits to take advantage of.  For example, it is a great place to network with other writers of similar interests, each at different levels of success.  Whether in the forums or at a local chapter meeting, there are many avenues to learn more about the writing process, share failures, success, and absorb best practices from each other. 

There is also a mentoring program that allows writers that are new to the art to pair up with someone more experienced to learn the tools of the trade.  With over 1000 members, there is a wealth of experience to reach out to and learn from. 

For me, it is all about networking and absorbing from their experiences and knowing that if I have a dilemma, there is someone there that is willing to help me out if needed.

E: You also participated in NaNoWriMo this year.  You won, I do believe.  Good job!  I know it’s still going to be rough, but what can you tell us about your project?

EP:  I did!  In the past I told myself that I would participate, but never did.  So this year, I went for it.  I already had the novel outlined and ready to start, but just couldn’t find the time.  So, I used NanoWriMo to jump start my progress.  The novel is still rough and needs a lot of TLC, but I am up to the challenge.  My project is actually an expansion of a short story I wrote in the past.  It takes place in a post-apocalyptic earth, where magic has replaced the mechanical wonders we use today.  Animals talk, and pure magical beings are the monsters hidden in the dark.  Although it is still rough, actually finishing the first draft is extremely gratifying.  I am already plotting out my next novel attempt.

If anyone would like to follow my writing escapades, they can follow me on Twitter, or search EsselPrattWriting on Facebook.  They can also follow my blog.

E: Horror writing is your thing.  What genre (or subgenre) terrifies you to write?

EP:  Although my main focus is on horror, I do tend to write fantasy and adventure from time to time and have been thinking about expanding into some Bizarro fiction after writing a couple Circus Punk pieces.  However, I was challenged to write a romance novel at one point.  However, I am terrified to do so.  My mind is a strange place, and writing such a book could become a strange mess.  I fear what the final result could become.

E: Your daughter was recently published in a collection.  That’s pretty awesome.  Take a minute and shamelessly promote her work.

EP: I am extremely proud of my youngest daughter, Vyvecca.  She was recently published in the Bones Anthology, by JWK Fiction.  I was pretty excited when she brought me a poem that she wrote last year and wanted to submit it somewhere.  It was pretty rough, but I thought it would be a good lesson in rejection.  So, I found that the Bones Anthology was taking submissions for poetry, short stories, flash fiction, and art.  I emailed the editor and queried whether he would entertain the idea of a twelve year old girl submitting.  He said yes and we sent it off.  Within a day or two, he sent it back with some suggested edits and constructive criticism.  I guided Vyvecca through the edits, offering advice and tips, and resubmitted.  I honestly did not think it had a chance in the beginning, but it wasn’t a couple days later that she received her first contract.  She is already preparing for the next volume when subs open in December. 

Thank you for inviting me to visit your blog!  I apologize I didn’t bring any cake or confectionaries, my dog ate them before arriving.  

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Author Corner–Lucy Crowe

E: Welcome to Erindipity, Lucy!  Did you bring me anything?  It’s been awhile since someone has brought me anything.  You did, right?

L: Hi Erin! Thanks so much for having me! I hope you’re a rum drinker because I brought you the best – Captain and Coke. Here’s a toast to all of us hard-working authors – cheers!

As it happens, I do like rum.  I like it very much.

E: Your book is called Sugar Man’s Daughter.  What can you tell us about it?

L: Well, “Sugar Man’s Daughter” has its share of demons, both real and imagined, but it is not a horror novel. It has more to do with confronting those demons and becoming stronger. My main character is a woman who has recently returned to her childhood home, the Sugar Inn, after a miscarriage and the dissolution of what had once been a promising relationship. Of course the inn is haunted! But the main story line – without giving too much away – has more to do with an abuse victim facing her past, scraping up the courage to pursue her dream career, and maybe even falling in love.

E: Where did you come up with the idea for the book?

L: Oh, it’s been percolating away in my brain forever!  I think the first little bubble floated to the surface several years ago when I was watching – don’t laugh! – an episode of The Golden Girls, where Dorothy was writing a letter to her deceased father. That got my attention – what would you write? And so, I actually built my story from that foundation. My character sat down, wrote a letter to her dead father, and we went on from there.

E: This is your debut novel, right?  What has your author journey been like so far?

L: My author journey has pretty much been a life-long proposition, lol. I wrote my first full-length novel in high school, and my mother typed the whole thing out for me. Back in the day. Before computers. When my daughter was an infant, I actually had a publisher on the hook! But then my son came along, and life got very, very busy for quite some time, and that novel was laid aside. This latest chapter in my author journey has been the most fascinating. I’m learning so much about networking and marketing – which is not at all as I had anticipated. As it turns out, the writing of a novel is actually the easy part! But I’ve been blessed to have found Lyle at Rainstorm Press, and I now have a college-age daughter who is very marketing-savvy, so we are working through this!

E: Are you currently working on any new projects?

L: Oh yes, I am pretty much always working on a project! I’m currently pecking away at the sequel to “Sugar Man”, which involves working a little more closely with some of the minor characters, giving them their own spotlight. It’s fun to see the stronger personalities emerging.

E: Who are some of your writing influences?

L: I think anyone I’ve ever read has had an influence – good, bad or indifferent. Of course, The Greats probably carried the most weight for me – Steinbeck, Harper Lee, the Brontes. Solid characters and lovely description – these authors didn’t scrimp on words, which is something we are all too often urged to do as writers.  Modern day? Oh, the list is endless, but James Lee Burke sits at the top, followed by Elizabeth George, and, on the lighter side, Janet Evanovich and Charlaine Harris.

E: What is the best piece of advice you have gotten so far about the publishing industry?

L: Lol! Keep trying, I suppose! It’s a tough market, and you have to have a thick skin. There will be rejections!

E: It’s very difficult to find information about you and your book.  Apparently, there is a soprano by the same name.  (Sopranos are icky, but that’s a blog post for another time.)  (Go alto or go home!)  What are the best ways to find you?

L: I know! Silly soprano with the same name as me! But I’m truly hoping that anyone who is searching for me knows that I’m an author, lol.  If you Google “Lucy Crowe, author” or “author Lucy Crowe” I pop right up!  But I do have links, thanks for asking! Here is my website  and my Facebook page.  I am currently in the process of updating my status on Goodreads to author (so exciting!) since my novel only just came out, and “Sugar Man” is available in Kindle on Amazon, with the paperback very soon to follow!  So, I can be found easily at any of the above!

Thanks so much for having me, Erin! This has been fun!

And remember, if you’ve found a page about an icky a very talented soprano, you’ve gone to the wrong page.

Author Corner–Isaiyan Morrison

E: Welcome to Erindipity, Isaiyan.  Today I thought I would change things up a little bit and meet you down here by the pool.  Charlie’s having so much fun.  And he doubles as a floatation device.  Who knew?!

I:  Thanks for having me! I’m a huge fan Erin!

E: You just had a book released.  What can you tell us about Deamhan?

I:  The book is called Deamhan. It’s the first book in the Deamhan Chronicles. The novel follows a woman, Veronica, who goes back to Minnesota to find the truth about her mother’s disappearance. The only thing she knows is that her parents worked for a secret organization in Minneapolis at the time of the disappearance and her father refuses to mention anything about it. Veronica decides to retrace her mother’s footsteps by going back to the city. She finds out that her mother was tracking a Deamhan but she doesn’t know why. However, she needs to find this Deamhan and to do that, she has to head into their dark and dangerous world.

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E: Why did you choose this type of vampire to write about?

I: Deamhan are psychic vampires which is different from sanguine (blood) vampires which we all read about. At first I just wanted to write a vampire novel, but after researching, I found out that there are so many different types of vampires. It blew my mind. I wondered why writers never wrote about them. Was it too hard? Are they not interesting enough? I find psychic vampires more interesting than sanguine vampires.

E: This is a series, correct?  Do you have an idea of how many books there will be, or do you plan on letting the story tell you where to stop?

I:  It is a series but right now I’m not sure how long it’s going to be. There are so many interesting characters, different types of vampires- I’m sure it could go on forever.

E: Do you have any upcoming promotional events, book signings, etc?

I:  Yes I do! I have a blog tour starting on the 9th of September with a giveaway. I also have several interviews next month not related to the tour and I’m participating in “Something Wicked” that runs the entire month of October.

E: In addition to being an author, you are also a professional gamer. How do these two very different activities influence each other? For instance, does maintaining a schedule for one help you maintain one for the other?  Do you get any inspiration for your writing from the gaming world? Or is there no crossover between them?

I: Honestly, it’s very hard. Since my novel was released, I’ve had to decrease my video game activities. I don’t have time to play as much as I’d like thus I don’t get to travel that often anymore. I miss it a little bit but writing is something that I’ve neglected for a long time. Professional gamers have to play their game and constantly. They always have to find new things to exploit for their advantage and they have to remain ahead of their competition. I just don’t have time for that anymore.

Majority of the sponsored and non sponsored gamers I know don’t read books so the idea that I wrote one is mind boggling to them. Some don’t want me to leave the scene but I have to move on.

E: Do you currently have any works in progress?

I:  I’m currently working on the third book in the series and something I’ve called Deamhan Tales. These are short stories that follow certain main characters relevant to the main story line. I’m also writing The Brotherhood Files. It’s also related to the main storyline but it’s from the perspective of humans who know about Deamhan and research them.

E: What would you say your greatest resource has been as a writer?

I: Listening and being open minded. I love listening to feedback from readers and authors. I have this desire to improve and perfect how I can take the ideas inside my head and transfer them onto paper. It’s challenging and I always like a good challenge. I’m a gamer after all!

Isaiyan can be found on Facebook for Deamhan and her author page, her website, her blog, and on Twitter.

Changes Make Life Interesting

At least, that’s what they say.  I actually have lots of tidbits to share today, so lets get started.

First, you might have noticed there was no Author Corner this week.  Tuesday was moving day for me, so I’ve put a hold on them for the next week or so more.  Moving went great.  I’m very tired, incredibly sore, and I have lots of bruises and blisters, but I’m all settled in and ready to get down to business.  In related news, I bought a 7 qt. Crock Pot for $25.  If I’ve never mentioned it, I’m addicted to kitchen stuff.

Author Corner will be returning September 3rd.  I’ve got a great new batch of authors stopping by to meet Charlie.  Ok, they’re not really coming to meet Charlie.  Just, don’t tell him that, ok?  He’ll pout, and if you’ve never seen a corpse pouting…well, it’s not an easy image to purge from your brain.

Speaking of interviews, I was recently interviewed.  I stopped by The Undercover Reviewer and chatted with Amy.  She also reviewed Celia.  If you haven’t read it yet, her review is a spoiler so you might want to hold off checking that out.  I can tell you she gave it 5 stars.  On September 27th, I’ll be appearing on Newbie Writers Podcast.  If you’ve ever wanted to hear my dulcet tones, make sure to tune in.  Oh, and by dulcet, I mean juvenile.  I sound like I’m 12.  I’ll be sharing that around when the time comes.

Now that I’ve moved, I’m going to have a lot more time to devote to Enraptured.  I’m ready to get back to the grindstone with that.  So far, I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out.  I have a lot more work to do, but that’s true for a lot of things.

I have some books coming in for Recommend It Monday.  I’m pretty excited to be checking out some new-to-me authors.  You can look for those in the upcoming weeks.

I’m going to be adding a new page to Erindipity.  It occurs to me that, seeing as how I do interviews and book reviews, then perhaps I should have a section about those things.  You know, in case anyone wants to pop on in and get molested by my corpse.  No, that’s not a euphemism.  Sorry.  It’s not up yet, but look for it by the end of the day.

I dusted off the website a bit and spruced it up.   If you’re new to the blog, mosey on over to the site and have a look around.  The newest interview is posted and there are two short stories available.  Yes, I said mosey.  I also say “fixin’ to,” “done” as in “I done started it already,” and “caterwauling.”  I just try not to say them in public.  Much.

Grad school starts next week.  I have orientation tonight.  I wouldn’t go, but they’re going to have food.  I always go where the food is.  I’m excited to be starting my advanced degree and getting this next piece of my plan going.

I have a guest post for Rainstorm Press coming up on September 10th, and I’ll make sure to have links to that handy.  I have no clue what I’m writing about yet.  It may have something to do with pie.  I once rewrote Psalm 23 and started it out, “The pie is my pastry; I shall not want.”  I’m relatively certain there’s a special circle of Hell reserved for people like me.

I’m the webmistress again for the Indiana University-South Bend Creative Writing Club, so if you know people who would like some writing inspiration, you can send them over there.  Writing prompts can be anything from world building to character creation.  New posts go up on Wednesdays.  You don’t have to be a student at the university to participate online.  Post your exercises in the comments and lets discuss.

And hey, cheer up, Buttercup.  It’s almost Friday!

Paying The Bills

One of the goals I have is being able to support myself and my children with writing.  Now, I’m not going to lie.  When I originally thought this whole thing out, I was picking out who I wanted to play what roles in the movie version of my books.  Just so you know, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

However, I am earning money with my writing, so I will consider this a step in the write direction.  (You see what I did there?)  I’m writing SEO copy for a local business.  It’s very different from the writing I’m accustomed to doing, but it isn’t horrible.  Like anything, it’s going to take me a minute to get into the swing of things, but I’m optimistic.  Of course, there’s still Celia.  I mean, I’m just throwing that out there.  I’m also expecting a round of feedback about Enraptured, so in the next week or so I’ll be back to working on that.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the book trailer for Celia.  This SEO copy isn’t writing itself, you know.

More Fundraising For AWP

Most of you know that I am the webmistress for the Indiana University-South Bend Creative Writing Club.  If you’ve not heard, we are trying to raise funds so we can attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference in late February 2014.  The conference changes cities every year, and this conference will be held in Seattle, Washington.

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AWP is a lot like the fortress in Krull. It’s constantly changing locations.

The money we raise will be to help us cover travel expenses and lodging.  We  held a fireworks fundraiser for the 4th of July holiday, but as anyone who lives in Northern Indiana can tell you, the weather refused to cooperate.  Now we’re starting a new fundraising event and you don’t have to live in Northern Indiana to help up out.

Brandy Bohm, Vice-President of the CWC, is holding a Perfectly Posh event from July 22nd until July 28th.  Perfectly Posh is a line of spa and pampering products that are not tested on animals.  Brandy is donating 100% of the proceeds to the AWP fund for the club.  There is a Facebook event page if you would like more information and you can go the the Perfectly Posh website to see their catalogue of products.  They make excellent gifts, as well.  If you are not local, Brandy will ship your orders to you.  This is a one week only event and every penny counts, so please consider pampering yourself or someone you love (or yourself and someone you love) and help this great group of writers attend this professional conference.  After the event closes, we will randomly select one person to receive an autographed copy of my book Celia from Rainstorm Press.  We will choose two other names to receive 3 Celia bookmarks.  They’re high quality and very shiny.  You’ll like them.  Celia has a 4.8 star rating on Amazon.

We appreciate all of your help.  And as a little added incentive, if we reach our goal as a result of this event, I will randomly select one person to be a character in my current work-in-progress, Enraptured.

Author Corner–JB Christopher

This week, new author JB Christopher stopped in to chat.  I don’t think Charlie trusts him.  I’ll admit, he does look a little shifty, but he’s good people.  Charlie will just have to get over it.

E: Welcome to Erindipity, JB.  I see you have brought me no food products.  That is…unfortunate.

JB: Erin thanks for the interview. Alas, I owe you a dozen Voodoo donuts and a six-pack of an IPA of your choosing.

E: You are in the process of publishing your first book.  What is it called and who is publishing it?

JB: The working title is The Last Fall; the publisher is Rainstorm Press.

E: What has the process been like for you so far?

JB: The process has been…slow, but that’s a good thing. It’s a necessary evil that, I think, has made me a better storyteller.  Writing is such a solitary craft, but great storytelling requires a relationship with an editor who understands and hopefully shares the vision with the writer.

E: Are you currently working on anything?

JB: I just finished the sequel to The Last Fall. It picks up with the protagonist Ruby Oliveras three years later and what he’s up to.

E: Do you have any upcoming events, such as book signings, etc?

JB: Unfortunately no. No upcoming events…yet. 

E: What is something you’ve learned during this process that surprised you?

JB: Treat your work with the highest level of professionalism that you can and don’t loose sight of the overall story.  

E: What is the last book you’ve read, and who are some of your favorite authors?

JB: Last book I read was A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess. I love his use of a fictional slang/pidgin and his ideas about removing free will from society seem almost prophetic at times.  Some of my favorites are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Clive Barker, Neal Stephenson, Elmore Leonard, Denis Lehane, Jim Thompson, and of course, Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

E: If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to publish their first work, what would it be?

JB: Don’t give up. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig was rejected over 100 times before it found its way into a publishers open arms…so don’t give up.

The release date of The Last Fall is TBA, so make sure you check back here for when and where you can pick up your copy.  You can also find JB loitering on his website.