Author Interview with Crimson M. Kildare and Kat Marlow

The Fantastic Blog Hop Tour

Moving along in the Fantastic Blog Hop Tour, the bus makes a stop in the midwest the home of Crimson Kildare and Kat Marlow two amazing and talented writers, not to mention, two fabulous ladies!  Today we learn what makes them tick and why writer’s block freakin’ sucks! 🙂

What is your story about?Wyveria Cover 1

CMK: The story is about three men in the far future and the challenges they face as each must deal with the very fabric of his life unraveling like an old tapestry. Both Jamie and Val will have to cope with culture shock and some severe loss issues. Idris is dealing with the murder of a father figure and the growing realization that it may be up to him to fill the man’s shoes. Now, if he can just survive both the discovery of the murderer’s identity and the duel to the death, he’ll have to win to fill them, it might just all work out in the end. So in a way our story is about magical shape shifters, the future and being displaced, but really it’s about life, about knowing yourself and embracing the challenges of being alive.

KM: It’s a romantic adventure that takes place in our future that focuses on three characters, Jamie, Val, and Idris. Jamie and Val are from our time, and due to a twist of fate they are separated and flung into this future world of magic and shape-shifters. Idris is from a clan descended from the Welsh and Celtic peoples, and when the story begins he’s dealing with the death of someone very dear to him. It falls to him to solve this mystery, while his life becomes more entwined with Jamie and Val. All three men go through a journey of adjustment and self-discovery; Jamie and Val are dealing with the loss of their world while trying to acclimate to the one they’ve woken up to. Idris is dealing with losing a mentor while facing various challenges on the way to his true destiny. It’s really about life like Crimson said, and I hope this story will inspire as well as entertain.

Where does your story take place?

CMK: It takes place on Earth in the far future in what was once Antarctica.

KM: You heard Crimson say that its future Antarctica, and you’re probably thinking, ‘Why are there Celts there?’ I’ll only say that circumstances warranted their having to leave the UK and settle elsewhere.

Is writing a natural talent, or did you take classes to hone your craft?

CMK: Writing is something I just do from my gut. I would like to take some courses to improve my understanding of classic writing techniques and textbook language skills. This way I would have more to work with when making choices about story shaping and character development.

KM: I mainly go from the gut like Crimson does, but I did hone my skills in high school. I was fortunate to have a very encouraging English teacher there, and if this novel succeeds its due in no small part to the confidence she instilled in me.

Do you have a ritual when you write? 

CMK: I write most days from 11 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. with my partner Kat Marlow. I often listen to music as I do this and the music can definitely influence the work and vise versa. I sometimes notice that as I’ve been writing my musical choices will unconsciously change with the theme of what I’m working on.

KM: I write whenever I have spare time, but I usually work better from morning to afternoon. During those hours on weekdays I’m usually working with Crimson. I listen to music sometimes, but usually I have a DVD playing in the background. I’m often playing the movies that have inspired me, such as Star Wars, certain superhero movies, or the James Bond films. I’ll also play episodes from my favorite shows, such as Law & Order: UK or Mad Men.

Do you write in multiple genres?

CMK: Yes and sometimes at the same time.

KM: I see this novel as a combination of fantasy, sci-fi, and romance, so I would say ‘yes’. I mainly write sci-fi with a dash of romance, and my ultimate dream is to write for Torchwood, Doctor Who, or a Star Wars project.

Most people want to know, is writing really all that hard?

CMK: Is it hard? Yes and no. Sometimes it’s so amazingly easy and you wonder how you ever thought it would be tough. Those are the moments all writer’s live for, those golden moments where it all just flows effortlessly. The rest of the time it’s a cross between reasonably easy and pulling teeth. It just depends on your muse really.

KM: It can be when you’re blocked, or you’re having a hard time figuring out which direction to take the story next. There are merits to free-form writing, but I find it easier to map out the storyline beforehand. It’s like a seed being planted, and from there the story should grow to its full richness.

Do your family and friends read your work?

CMK: Yes they do.

KM: I’m more private about my work than Crimson, as the stories I’ve written before tend toward the explicit side. My mom does know about this novel, and she’s already expressed an interest in reading it. She’s thrilled that I’m finally stretching my muscles, and that we’re working towards publication.

Have you ever had writers block and if so, how did you overcome it?

CMK: I find that there are three things I can do for writer’s block. Call on a piece of music that always inspires to get my creative juices flowing, work on something else to get the juices flowing or if those fail just leave it and go do something else all together. Doing something else gives my brain and my muse a rest so that when I sit down next time; the juice is flowing free, improved by the break.

KM: Yes I have, and it SUCKS! I mentioned mapping out the story beforehand, which is a useful tool. Still, even with an outline you can find yourself blocked. I always find it best to just step away from the work for a time and just clear your mind, as constantly focusing on solving the problem might only frustrate you. Relaxing with music or TV can help.  If I’m writing fan-fiction, I might watch the show or movie that it’s based on. It’s a good reminder of the character voices, and helps to re-awaken the muse.

Do you have an illustrator, or co-author, if so, who?

CMK: Yes, Kat Marlow is my partner as you can see and she’s just tops! Also on occasion my mother who is a fine artist will do drawings for me if I ask her.

KM: The illustrious Ms. Kildare, who has Photoshop skills in addition to her literary mind! She’s been a great co-author, and I’m so grateful that’s she’s encouraged me to take my writing to the next level.

Do you write according to the trends or from the heart?

CMK:  Always from my heart.

KM: Always from the heart; on the surface this novel might seem to follow the fantasy/romance trend, but we’re intending for it to be much deeper than that. We’re hoping to offer something that will stand out, something unique to the genre.

Who is your favorite author of all time?

CMK: This is such a hard question to answer! There are so many I love and adore and for such vastly different things, but if the criteria are the content of what was written, the author’s intelligence and cleverness and their ability to inspire by the way they chose to live their own life as well? Then the clear winner across all of those categories would have to be the 19th century authoress Madame George Sand!

KM: That’s like trying to pick a favorite child! I think Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye is one of the best novels ever written, and I adore Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. There are a few authors of the Star Wars novels that I love, such as Timothy Zahn, Troy Denning, and Aaron Allston. I’ve really enjoyed the books that John and Carole Barrowman have written so far, and they’re a great example of a successful writing partnership.

What’s best: Pen and paper or laptop?

CMK: Both have their merits and I truly love pen and paper for journaling and personal letters, but for writing a book? The laptop wins hands down!

KM: I usually prefer pen and paper, but I enjoy the benefits of writing on a laptop. No ink to waste and edits can be done with the push of a button!

What are you reading now?

CMK: I am currently reading George R.R. Martins Game of Thrones books, The Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson series, both of Laurel K. Hamilton’s ongoing Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series and the John and Carole Barrowman Hollow Earth series! All of them exceptional books!

KM: I’m currently reading Hollow Earth by John and Carole Barrowman and next on my list is the second book of the Star Wars: Dark Nest trilogy by Troy Denning.

If your house was on fire; what would you save: your computer or your book collection?

CMK: If my house were on fire the first thing I would save would be my 11 year old daughter. The next thing would be my laptop case in which I keep both the computer and my copy of George Sand’s Letters D’un Voyageur! That’s Letter of a Traveler for those who are interested.

KM: Oh God, another ‘pick your favorite child’ question! I consider books to be precious, so I would want to save my book collection after I save my mom. There would be a lot to carry though, and it also depends on whether I’ve transferred my computer files to a flash drive! I admittedly can’t live without my computer, but if I lose it I can always get another one. I guess I could always get new books, but some of them might be out-of-print and hard to find. I appreciate modern technology, but there’s nothing like having an actual book in your hands and turning the pages. I hope books don’t fade out completely.

Have you gotten in trouble for your work?

CMK: Kat and I both got our start writing fan fiction. Thankfully no one has ever complained about our playful musings.

KM: Thankfully no. I’m lucky to have not gotten in trouble for my publicly posted fan-fic, and as I mentioned before I keep my other work private. Whatever results from this novel remains to be seen!

Do you consider yourself a tech wiz?

CMK: Good Heavens no. I get along and that’s all I can say about that. My husband is the tech wizard in our house.

KM: Ha, barely! I’m only now getting the hang of Microsoft Word!

What’s the strangest length you ever went to research your book?

CMK: Not sure this is strange per se, but I’ve called complete strangers to ask them about their towns, professions and so on.

KM: I wouldn’t call this strange, but I did find it fascinating to research Welsh names. My love for the show Torchwood has led to a love and admiration for the Welsh people, and I find their language and ancient culture very interesting. I suppose that comes from my own Celtic blood, as I’m part English and Irish.

CMK: Oh me too, Irish, Scottish, English and the list goes on, lots of Celts in me.

Do you read online reviews?  If so, how do you deal with the negativity?

CMK: Yes, I want to know the reaction people have to my work and the work of other authors I admire. Sure it’s difficult when someone hates your stuff, but oddly I find I dislike it more when people knock the work of other writers I admire. I think to myself, ‘Really? But they’re so talented!’ I can find it baffling when others aren’t inspired by what seems so immediately and obviously inspiring to me. Still the finest authors who ever lived got bad reviews from time to time. No two people have exactly the same taste and that’s what makes it so exciting, because there’s room for everyone’s work.

KM: I like to know what people think of my work, and I know I’m going to have to develop a thick skin if this is going to be my career. No one likes negative things being said about their baby, but you have to remember it’s not always personal and try to take your emotions out of the equation. Ideally, critical reviews will also be constructive, and hopefully I can use such reviews to fix any flaws in my writing.

What would you like aspiring authors to know about the realities of a writing career?

CMK: It’s a real career. It’s real work; it’s not a ‘bird course’ way to make a living. Like anything worth doing it requires three things: a modicum of talent, the ability to learn, grow and improve and the willingness to work hard and even then it’s no certain guarantee that you’ll be wildly successful. It will however guarantee that you’re worth reading, that you’re a good writer. You have to do it, because you love it, for its own sake. As Rainer Maria Rilke said, “Don’t ask me how to be a writer, just do it. If you wake up in the morning and all you can think about is writing? Then you’re a writer! Go do it!” That may be a bit paraphrased, but you get the idea. My mother is a phenomenal singer, truly talented, beautiful voice. She’s been singing professionally for 40 years now. She’s well known and well respected in the music industry in certain circles, but she’s not famous or wealthy. When I was a teenager I asked her, ‘After all this time, you should be famous, why do you keep doing it?” she told me, “I don’t do it to be famous. I do it because I love it. I do it because I need to, it’s who I am.”

That’s what you have to know about being a writer, a singer, an actor or anything creative; do it because it’s who you are, because it lives in you, do the best you can, learn, grow, get better and pray for the best.

KM: As I said before, you’re going to need a thick skin.  You’re also going to need determination and a willingness to work hard. Your work will not be accepted for publication right away, and you might have to submit it countless times, which can be frustrating. Most publishers will point out what they think your work is lacking, and it wouldn’t hurt to take their advice. Your work will hopefully come out better in the end. Publishers are mainly out to sell books, and sadly the quest for profits overrides good writing sometimes. The balance between good writing and sellable writing is hard to find, but it can be done.

What’s your next project?

CMK: The next book in this series which we anticipate being at least three books long. Also before any of the books will be published in complete form and offered via Amazon and possibly other publishers as well; they will be available to read chapter by chapter at our website starting April 4rth, 2013. We will put up a new chapter every month. The site is called The Looking Glass Writer’s Cooperative. Our aim is to promote both our work and the work of other writers each month, while also providing some good excerpts, reviews and articles on writers, books, television and films. We want to create a warm, welcoming space that engenders a sense of community for authors and avid readers alike.

The web address is thrutheglass.net

KM: Yes, Crimson and I will be working on the next book, and my fan-fiction is always a work-in-progress. I also write reviews for our website.

Author Interview with Dellani Oakes Author of Lone Wolf

fantastic blog hop bus

Today, the Fantastic Blog Hop Bus makes a stop in Daytona, FL to speak with Dellani Oakes, author of several romance novels including; Indian Summer, Ninja Tattoo and the Sci-Fi thriller, Lone Wolf.

What is your story about?

DO: I have three books published.

The Ninja Tattoo is a contemporary romantic suspense set in Florida. A violent biker gang targets Army veteran Teague McMurtry for death. He must use all his skills to protect himself & the woman he loves.

Indian Summer is an historical romance set in St. Augustine, Florida in 1739. Gabriella Deza stands on the brink of womanhood & must choose her mate. Will it be the cheerful Englishman, Dr. James Stevens or the dark and mysterious Spaniard, Manuel Enriques?

Lone Wolf is a futuristic romance set in space in the year 3032. Matilda Dulac and her lover, Wilhelm VanLipsig, must capture John Riley before he can unleash the ultimate evil on an unsuspecting universe.

Is writing a natural talent, or did you take classes to hone your craft?

DO: Writing comes very easily for me. I had a very strict grammatical upbringing in a home with a school teacher mother and college English professor for a father. Other than the usual high school and college classes, I haven’t had any “formal” training. As far as the writing conventions everyone preaches about, I probably violate them all. I write in first person when the story calls for it. I “head hop” from one point of view to the next. The story demands to be told a particular way and I do my best to tell it. Dellani Oakes

Do you have a ritual when you write? (Special time of day, music etc.)

DO: My writing schedule is all broken up by phone calls, errands, writing groups and the demands of my family. I write when I can find the time. I always listen to music when I write. Sometimes the listening choices are dictated by the story, other times I simply listen to the same list and keep it as background noise. I listen to a wide variety of music, but that could be an interview all by itself.

Do you write in multiple genres?

DO: I write mostly romance, but I choose different permutations of the genre. I have 3 books published. One is contemporary romantic suspense, another is historical romance and the third is a futuristic romance. I also have (as yet unpublished) a “retro” romance set in 1976, and several contemporary romance novels. I seem to favor romantic suspense as it combines my love of romance and mystery.

Most people want to know, is writing really all that hard?

DO: It can be very hard. Finding the right words isn’t easy. Many people think that writing a story isn’t that big a deal, but it’s quite an undertaking. The author builds a plausible world with believable characters. S/he puts them into situations and has to get them back out in a satisfactory way. Dialogue, pacing, plotting, characterization… these are all under the writer’s auspice, but have to be balanced and controlled. I’d like to see the average person sit down and compose a story from scratch with nothing but a pen and paper and see how easy it is.

Do your family and friends read your work?

DO: Yes. My husband used to read everything I wrote. Now, with the cost of ink & paper, I don’t run hard copies anymore. He refuses to read things on the computer, so he doesn’t read them as much as he did.

My daughter has read my books and particularly likes the sci-fi series. She has helped me with editing Indian Summer by Dellani Oakeson a couple of them and has been an enormous help.

When my historical novel came out, my mother bought copies for all my cousins. I hope that some of them have read it.

Have you ever had writers block and if so, how did you overcome it?

DO: Sometimes the Muse takes a vacation. I don’t get completely blocked, but I will run out of words for one story or another. I either go back through and re-read it, doing a little editing, or I move on to another project. I have dozens. If the Muse isn’t speaking for one, I wake up another one and wait to see where it will go.

Do you have an illustrator, or co-author, if so, who?

DO: No.

Do you write according to the trends or from the heart?

DO: I’ve never been able to write to trends. My mind doesn’t work that way. I strictly write from the heart. I think that I get a more genuine, better product that way. Writing to a trend, while popular, doesn’t always create a story of lasting worth. In fact, once the trend is over, that story no longer has an audience. A well crafted novel will last regardless of trends.

Who is your favorite author of all time?

I can’t pick just one! I love Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Richard Brautigan, Ray Bradbury, Andre Norton, Janet Morris, Elizabeth Peters, Ellis Petes, Shakespeare, Harper Lee, Mark Twain and dozens of others. I could never limit myself to just one author.

Have you gotten in trouble for your work?

DO: No, fortunately I haven’t.

Do you read online reviews? If so, how do you deal with the negativity?

DO: I know it’s probably hiding my head in the sand, but I don’t read the reviews. I’ve had a few negative reviews, mostly on a story I gave away for free on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. The main complaint was “It’s too short, don’t bother”. I ignore those comments because we all have different taste in stories. Obviously, they just don’t get it. Yes, it makes me feel kind of bad, but I hope that other readers will be less swayed by a one line review and concentrate on the free preview of the story.

What’s best: Pen and paper, or laptop?

DO: I don’t have a laptop. I have a PC that sits under my desk. I know that’s kind of a dinosaur, but I like it. I do have a little Acer Notebook that I take with me when I travel. It’s very small & hard for me to type fast because the keys are so close together. I sometimes use a pen & spiral notebook when I have a doctor’s appointment. I’ve taken my Notebook, but that gets awkward if there’s no table for it. I much prefer my computer, but there are times when a story flows from a pen, not a keyboard.

What are you reading now?

DO: I’m reading three books: Deeds of the Disturber by Elizabeth Peters, Shelters of Stone by Jean Auel and The Road to Transplant: The Final Mile by Brian M. Hayden.

If your house was on fire, what would you save: your computer, or your book collection?

DO: I would risk my life for my flashdrive. It has all my writing on it. I would let the books burn because Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakesthey can be replaced. My writing can’t.

Do you consider yourself a tech wiz?

DO: Hah! No. That is, actually, quite laughable.

What’s your next project?

DO: I am part of an on-going anthology, Rubicon Ranch: Necropieces. I am also working with several other authors on Rubicon Ranch: Secrets. In addition to that, I’m working on rewrites of one novel, editing two more and trying to complete a variety of others, none of which are cooperating.

What’s the strangest length you ever went to research your book?

DO: When I was researching Indian Summer, I made my husband take me to St. Augustine for a week. It was our 25th wedding anniversary and we’d never had an actual honeymoon, so we made an event of it. St. Augustine is about 2 hours away. We spent the week at a beautiful B&B up there and toured the town by day, enjoying the sights. I won’t call that strange, exactly, but it was (for me) extreme.

What would you like aspiring authors to know about the realities of a writing career?

There are predators out there who are ready to rob you blind. Research carefully any agent or publishing company before you commit. If they ask for any money in advance, then be very leery that they are actually legit. This is different with self-publishers and vanity presses, but there are still people waiting to sucker the unwary.

Read contracts carefully. If you aren’t sure what you’re reading, consult a lawyer or someone who can weed through the legalize and tell you just what you’re signing. IF YOU DO NOT RETAIN YOUR COPYRIGHT THEN YOU DO NOT WANT TO SIGN THAT CONTRACT!

On a lighter note, enjoy yourself with your writing. Explore new settings, get to know your characters, let them off the leash and see where they go. Don’t limit yourself or your imagination. Let it fly into outer space or drift into the past. Put yourself in another pair of shoes and view the world from someone elses point of view. Keep it fresh and fun and you – and your readers – will never be bored.

Karen Vaughan: Breakout Star

fantastic blog hop bus

This month, I’ll be participating in The Fabulous Blog Hop Tour with authors; Dellani Oakes, Karen H. Vaughan, Crimson Kildare, Ruth Davis Hays, and Kat Marlow.  Stay tuned to learn more about these up and coming literary stars.  We’ll be sharing interviews, of authors AND their book characters, not to mention, excerpts from their novels.

Karen Vaughan has been kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy schedule to talk about her new book “Daytona Dead” and what life as a writer truly means.Author Karen Vaughan

What is your story about?

Karen Vaughan: My series involves Laura a 30 something lady who happens upon a lot of dead people in fact she could very well be a corpse magnet.

Where does your story take place?

KV: Laura and her fiancé Gerry live in Toronto Canada. I am Canadian myself and like to use locations I know.

Is writing a natural talent, or did you take classes to hone your craft?

KV: I always liked writing in school. I got good marks but never really thought of it as a career. I would write stories to entertain myself.

Do you have a ritual when you write?  (Special time of day, music etc.)

KV: I can write basically when the mood strikes me. I can write with either TV in the background or music. My musical tastes go from classic 70s rock to present day.

KV: Do you write in multiple genres? Right now it’s been mysteries or romantic suspense. I am going to try straight romance and have considered sci-fi fantasy.

Most people want to know, is writing really all that hard?

KV: Some days it flows well but there are times when I have to pull teeth to get the characters to talk to me.

Do your family and friends read your work?

KV: Yes they have and for the most part they love the stuff. I do however have a few grammar Nazis who strongly suggest I need help. There is a critic in every crowd I suppose. My husband is convinced I am seriously warped. What writer isn’t?

Have you ever had writers block and if so, how did you overcome it?

KV: If I can’t get my characters to talk to me I let them sulk for a bit while I write some flash fiction or Front cover of daytona deadread and then come back to it. I figure the characters will get jealous and start yelling.

Do you have an illustrator, or co-author, if so, who?

KV: I am not one of those people who can collaborate well. I am greedy. People feed me ideas for a project and if they fit I use them. As far as illustrators go, I ask my artistic friends to do different covers for me. I asked my son in-law to do the cover for Daytona Dead.

Do you write according to the trends or from the heart?

KV: I write from the heart or at least the recesses of my weird imagination. Dead on arrival was based on a dream I had.

Who is your favorite author of all time?

KV: Hard to say about a favorite but I really like Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton and Leslie Langtry

Have you gotten in trouble for your work?

KV: Not yet but if a certain person finds out he is the victim in my w.i.p. he might get miffed.

Do you read online reviews?  If so, how do you deal with the negativity?

KV: I do sometimes. I like reviews that have the courtesy to tell me why I sucked not just that it did.  I can handle negativity pretty well unless the review is downright mean for no reason

What’s best: Pen and paper, or laptop?

KV: I mostly use a laptop but if I am out and about I usually have a note book for ideas.

What are you reading now?

KV: On my tablet, I am reading Sacrifice by a fellow Canadian author Carolyn Arnold and my paperback of choice is Gone by Lisa Gardiner.

If your house was on fire, what would you save: your computer, or your book collection?

KV: The laptop! I can replace the books.

Do you consider yourself a tech wiz?

KV: NO!

What’s your next project?

KV: I am working on another one for the Laura and Gerry series. I am also dabbling with a romance I want to write for Tirrgear Publishing.

What’s the strangest length you ever went to research your book?

KV: When I was writing Dead comic standing I watched a lot on the comedy channel. I had also tried doing stand up. I wrote the comic routines for my characters I felt like I was doing stand up while sitting down.

What would you like aspiring authors to know about the realities of a writing career?

KV: Patience, perseverance and handling rejection would be a huge asset. Just have fun with it and don’t take yourself to seriously.

About Karen Vaughan:

Karen Vaughan lives in Peterborough Ontario with her husband Jim and a four legged off spring named Sugar. She is the mom of a 22 year old daughter and four grown step children and a 2 1/2 year old grandson named Ike. DEAD COMIC STANDING is her second novel. Her first novel DEAD ON ARRIVAL garnered praise from friends, family and online gamers.  She also enjoys doing crafts and other hobbies. Her latest book is called OVER HER DEAD BODY is the second book to DEAD ON ARRIVAL. DAYTONA DEAD is the third in that series which is soon to be released.