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Character interview: Jean Vignaud

Character interview: Jean Vignaud

Interview with Jean Vignaud

At a table in a hole-in-the-wall pub with a good view of the exits

J C Steel: I like the location.

Jean Vignaud: Try not to describe it too well, I would like to come back. My partner tells me you have some questions.

JCS: I heard you like Chinese take-out. How did you come across that?

JV: Take-out is one of my favourite things of this century. When I was born one had to travel to eat differently, and the experience was not always…positive. If you are trying to put the Frenchman at his ease by asking about food, be assured: I am quite relaxed.

JCS: In fact, you’re rolling a cigarette. You only do that when you think I’m going to ask questions you don’t want to answer, but I notice you never smoke them.

JV: Science has discovered many miracles. Among them, unfortunately, that smoking is not good for you. Not something for vampires to be concerned with, but for me, yes.

JCS: So there are some things that you miss about being a vampire?

JV: Ah. The end of the small talk. As the junkie misses his high, there are things I miss, having left the night. Cristina tells me you are fortunate, and have never encountered a vampire. Do you think, once this book publishes, that that happy state will continue?

JCS: I will quote you a great British author, Terry Pratchett: ‘…no practical definition of freedom would be complete without the freedom to take the consequences.’

JV: A wise man.

JCS: I think so. Not a very popular definition of freedom in this day and age, as it happens. What’s your take on consequences and personal responsibility?

JV: I believe that my actions are my own. Who else should I blame? God?

JCS: You’re religious?

JV: I was raised a good Catholic, but according to that religion, vampires have no soul. Therefore, the only judge I need to satisfy is my own conscience.

JCS: Renouncing the chance to live forever sounds like a penance.

JV: …I fear I have not had enough rum to have that talk.

JCS: The first Pirates of the Caribbean. I understand you were an actual pirate in the Caribbean for a time.

JV: Pirates is such a generic term. In this day and age I would wear an expensive suit and gamble with other peoples’ money.

JCS: So you would equate stock-brokers with piracy?

JV: Let us say…in my day, if a man stole your money, the expectation was that you would try to kill him. Today, the expectation is that you elect him.

Character Interview: Captain Jannat Slainer, FPA Exploration Arm

Character Interview: Captain Jannat Slainer, FPA Exploration Arm

Debriefing / *Classified 1Nebula*: Captain Jannat Slainer, Exploration and Development branch

Officer in Charge: Captain, state your identification and rank for the record, please.

Captain Slainer: Jannat Slainer, ID FPA-ExDev 2380567, Scout Captain second class.

OIC: You understand and accept that this briefing, due to the nature of the information, will be classified to Nebula level, and discussion of any facts concerning your latest mission would constitute a level one breach of security resulting in loss of rank and privileges?

Capt. S: I do.

OIC: You and your crew were the initial contact with the humanoid population of Intelligent Life Found, 276/5346, Satellite IV. Per your report, your crew identified widespread biological and sociological anomalies resulting in a temporary withdrawal from the planet surface. Please elaborate in your own words.

Capt. S: There were no Abilities at large on the planet. No latent telepaths, none of the usual borderline empaths working with animals, no reports of people who see the dead or start fires. Given that the incidence of mental Abilities in standard deviations of humanoid is over 30%, we were concerned.

OIC: You also noted widespread presence of personal weaponry on the planet. Your report didn’t indicate that this was a primary concern.

Capt. S: It’s extremely common, in primitive cultures. Often seen as a symbol of sexual prowess.

OIC: Indeed. In any case, you and your crew briefed the contractor hired to…

Capt. S: Get shot at, sir?

OIC: …establish initial tolerance in the population. Yes. What were your impressions of this contractor?

Capt. S: …competent, sir.

OIC: I understand, Captain, that the Cortii are a sensitive subject. However, this briefing is not optional. Your full report, please.

Capt. S: *sighs* They sent a commander. Cortiora Khyria Ilan, of Wildcat Cortia, out of Corina Base. Black hair, green eyes, some scarring visible left cheek, both hands. A palm-width taller than I am, looked as if she weighed a little less. Intelligent, excellent memory, extremely high tolerance for stimulants. A very strong Ability. I’ve never met an IESRO-reg before, but quite possibly she would qualify. They put a double-squad of Interstellar Close Combat Specialists around her, and she looked…amused. She spent most of four days taunting them when she got bored.

OIC: And her interactions with your crew?

Capt. S: Professional. Clearly had to translate some of the questions she needed answering into terms we understood, but did it politely enough. Even though getting her full attention could be…powerful.

OIC: Elaborate.

Capt. S: Every so often, it felt as if she forgot to…hide what she was. Meeting her stare or drawing her attention could freeze any of us in our tracks. I put it down to her Abilities.

OIC: You think she was exerting Ability on you without your consent?

Capt. S: No.

OIC: Very well, Captain. You also attended her debriefing at the end of her mission on the surface. Your impressions of the Cortiora at that point, please.

Capt. S: She’d been severely injured, mentally and physically. She declined medical assistance, but permitted a medical scan as part of the debriefing. Beyond that, she presented as suffering from a severe level of Ability over-exertion.

OIC: You went on record earlier as stating that you believed her to be an Ability of unusual strength. What, in your estimation, would cause that level of injury?

Capt. S: Nothing I would survive meeting, sir. I have no idea. She implied that it had been caused during a meeting with the heads of the religious organisation of the planet. As I reported, this planet apparently has an Ability-backed religion based on Elemental symbolism. They had previously declined to meet with any of our people. The Cortiora reported that she was…invited to participate in a religious ritual that included the use of drugs.

OIC: You hesitated, Captain. Please clarify.

Capt. S: *pause* Bluntly, sir, I believe that they broke her. Somehow.

OIC: And yet you failed to put this observation on-record, Captain.

Capt. S: It has no basis in verifiable fact, sir. Instinct, if you like.

OIC: So your professional opinion is that the Cortiora lied to us during her debriefing.

Capt. S: No, sir. While I don’t doubt, given our relative rankings, that she could lie to me and hide it from me, I had no impression that anything she actually said was in any way untruthful.

OIC: So you were unaware of her official recommendation that the Interspecies Extra-Sensory Regulatory Organisation should be involved in the planet’s entry negotiations at the earliest opportunity?

Capt. S: I was not aware, sir.

OIC: What are you impressions of that recommendation?

Capt. S: That the Cortiora very likely is IESRO-level, and that she believes that the Abilities she encountered are a serious threat.

OIC: Indeed. Thank you, Captain.

*Notes on file indicate follow-up/urgent, regarding the psychological stability of Captain Jannat Slainer, Interviewing officer believed that at some level he felt obligation to the Cortiian operative.


Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi, Galaxy of Authors

Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi, Galaxy of Authors

Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi

‘If you can’t provoke any emotion, there’s little point in writing.’

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Coming soon!

In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I started writing in August 2016, because I love the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genre and I wanted to share my stories with people. My goal is to become a professional writer and my dream is to have one of my books turned into a movie.

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

I will pick only a couple of authors, like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Arkadi and Boris Strugatsky, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Joe Haldeman,  Norman Spinrad, John Scalzi, Paolo Bacigalupi, J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, Clayton Emery,  Joe Abercrombie.

Tell me a bit about your books.

The Restoration: A reptilian species uses time travel as a weapon to enslave other civilizations.

I published a revised edition of The Restoration in the summer of 2018. This book is available on all Amazon websites.

SS Vagabond: In a distant dystopian future, Captain Edward Turner is struggling to survive, transporting goods and passengers with his freighter, SS Vagabond. Eileen, the second in command and Edward’s lover, urges him to accept a risky yet lucrative mission to Mars.

I am only a couple of chapters away, and I will release SS Vagabond in the autumn of 2018.

Starship “Apple of Discord”: The Galaxy would not be the same, after the kidnapping of an alien crown princess.

I finished the first three volumes of Starship “Apple of Discord” on November 11, 2017. Between the three they cover more than 1300 pages and 350k words. Now I am waiting for an answer from several publishing houses from the US, UK, Canada and European Union. It will take a while and I am not sure that those publishers will agree to publish my space opera, since I am a debutant author.  So, if you know any literary agents or publishers send them my way.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I will continue to write more volumes on Starship “Apple of Discord”, because this saga isn’t finished yet. However, I plan to write other Sci-Fi and Fantasy books. I started already to write a Fantasy novel, and I hope to publish it by Christmas 2018.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

I believe that a person is defined by their actions. The same applies to a book character. I tried to create realistic characters, regardless they are humans, aliens or from folklore (elves, dwarves, pirates etc.) Also my characters are evolving during the story and they are inviting the readers to care about them.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I don’t have the support of a publishing house therefore I am an independent author now.  Yet marketing is my kryptonite so I am looking for a serious publisher that will take care of this.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

That’s true. People can’t live only with the daily bread. Reading enriches your knowledge and this helps you evolve as a human being.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

I will start with the infamous writer’s block – I experienced this too but I learned how to deal with this issue. When I am exhausted or I have no inspiration, I leave my writing desk for a while and I try to recharge my batteries by traveling, reading, swimming etc. As I wrote before, marketing is my nemesis. Although I don’t care too much about money, I consider that a book without readers is like a flower without pollinators. According to my beta readers, my books are good and I enjoy every time when they tell me this. Actually, I’m embarrassed and my face turns red like a lobster when I hear that.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I always start with the title. Then I create a short plot that would become the backbone of my story. I add characters and details on the fly.  I like to be creative and to write genuine books. My beta readers can confirm this. I used knowledge of physics, mathematics, biology, psychology, genetics, history, geography, computer science, chemistry, astronomy and xenology to create my books. Also, I invented genuine names for everything: planets, animals, plants, items, ships, characters etc. I made a database with all this information in order to keep track of them. The readers will not be bored with science facts and this huge dictionary, because the story line will flow easy and naturally. Also, I created some bits of alien languages for my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes, I love to plant Easter eggs in my books and in my book covers too. For example I know about the unlucky numbers from different cultures around the world and I use them to warn the readers that something terrible would happen in my book. Friday the 13th is the most common example.

Also I love to design my book covers. I don’t like to buy pre-made covers. There are high chances that these wouldn’t fit with my story line. I love designing my covers. Sometimes I paid artists to bring to life my vision – this is the case of the famous redheaded android of my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”I am aware that I am only an amateur designer, a newbie, a rookie etc., but this doesn’t stop me to try. I am an indie author with a limited budget and I am not ashamed for I tried GIMP and many other freebies. I am grateful because they exist.

For the cover of my book The Restoration I chose a reptilian alien eye that dwarfs a city in flames. Also this city is mirrored upside down accordingly with the title.

The cover of my Sci-Fi novel SS Vagabond raised a tsunami of opposite opinions when I presented it in public. The cover depicts a woman and a cat having in background the highest volcano in our solar system, Olympus Mons. I was accused that I use a cliché – beautiful women who are selling wellness products and the cats that are damn popular on Internet. In my defence, I can tell you that the science fiction novel SS Vagabond is really about a woman and her cat that are doing a voyage to Mars. Most critiques I received from established cover designers who were upset because I didn’t ask for their services. They accused me of being stubborn too, although I didn’t disregard their advice and I fixed some minor artistically issues that had my cover. I want to thank Keith Draws (https://keithdraws.wordpress.com/) and author &  cover designer Louise Blackwick for their invaluable help.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

My hobbies are Science fiction and Fantasy genre, movies, gaming, traveling, cooking, nature, wildlife, geography, history, astronomy, science, space exploration and weird phenomena as  UFO and USO (unidentified submerged objects – possible alien vehicles or living fossils like Megalodon).

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

Yes, I would love to live in the universe of my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”. I did what George Lucas did it for Star Wars, minus the movies and the lightsabers. Although George Lucas was my model, Starship “Apple of Discord” is not a clone of Star Wars and I have introduced in my space opera cool features too.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

Write earlier and publish more books.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

Sometimes I listen to epic music when I write. I like Two Steps From Hell, Audiomachine, Lindsey Stirling & Peter Hollens, Hans Zimmer and Jan Chmelar.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Ignorance is bliss.

Tell me three unique things about you.

#1: The Restoration is my first published book.  Although I was working on Starship “Apple of Discord”, in the spring of 2017 I decided to take a break and learn more about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Therefore, I created this Sci-Fi story. The initial impression was favorable and The Restoration received 4.5 stars. Unfortunately, later, Amazon decided to change the rules in the middle of the game and removed all reviews posted by people who received free books on promotions. This happened to The Restoration. Now it has 3.5 stars, because the person who posted this review said that this is a great book but complained about my English skills. My English was rough when I started writing, but the more I write, the more my writing style has evolved.

#2: As I wrote above, I started working on my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord” long before The Restoration. Actually, I had the idea for this book from when I was a student. One day I had a stomachache and I decided to skip class. It was a cloudy day and nobody was walking down the street. There were no cars either. I remember the appeasing silence and the dim light – the same happened during a solar eclipse that I observed long before that. An idea crossed my mind, “What if…”

When I got home, I started writing in my notebook the story that later became Starship “Apple of Discord”. Unfortunately, I was busy with my studies, then I needed to search for a job, and then I started a family. I kept postponing the writing of this book. In the spring of 2016, I went to the hospital, because I had peritonitis. After the intervention, I was in coma because of the anesthetist. When I woke up, it was the middle of August. I was thinking a lot of what happened to me and I decided to write again. Of course, technology has evolved a lot therefore I adapted the original story to accommodate these advancements. Also I expanded it.

#3: I was inspired by Greek Mythology to choose this title. I like the ancient legends of the golden apple. Eris, the goddess of discord, was not invited to a party. So, she threw a golden apple into the ceremony. Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera (the symbol of power and influence), Athena (the symbol of glory and wisdom), and Aphrodite (the symbol of beauty and desire).They brought the matter before Zeus, but he was cunning and declined this responsibility. Zeus assigned a man named Paris to solve this conflict. He made his choice and the aftermath was that the Trojan War started. You will find an unusual interpretation of this legend in my space opera.

Thanks for having me. Friends call me Andrew. I was born in August ’77 therefore I chose my nickname ACE977. I do NOT use a pen name.

I live in the European Union, Romania – you know, the country of Dracula and the World Tennis Associations number 1 ranked, Simona Halep. I work as an IT Engineer and I write in my spare time.

Andrew, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

Astrid Tuttle Winegar, Galaxy of Authors

Astrid Tuttle Winegar, Galaxy of Authors

Astrid Tuttle Winegar

‘There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.’

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I had just finished my masters degree and was dreading trying to enter the teaching market, especially since I was in my mid-forties and there was a hiring freeze at the time. The thought of all the licensure requirements was daunting. I had made a Middle-earth cookbook project as an undergraduate, and my mentor/professor mentioned to me how much she wished I could expand this and try to publish it. This sounded good; three years later I had a book ready. So, I basically wrote a book to avoid the entering the real world.

Tell me about your book.

Grown-up comfort food recipes inspired by Middle-earth and Narnia.

In Cooking for Halflings & Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, Tolkien scholar Astrid Tuttle Winegar has created ‘eleventy-one’ original recipes to inspire you. Lovingly illustrated and written with dry humor throughout, this charming cookbook is sure to delight you and your family, friends, and any other lucky halflings (or monsters) who show up in your kitchen. So crack open a beer, rustle up some “Gündürnüb’s Grüb,” and come along on this epic culinary journey. Your quest for delicious recipes is complete!

The eight chapters of this cookbook each imagines a restaurant (inn, café, or bistro) which caters to particular archetypal characters in the fantasy genre and presents a delicious meal for them. But don’t worry—you don’t have to be a gourmet monster chef! You simply need to love comfort food to enjoy all the recipes within.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have a crazy book about my emergency gallbladder removal surgery and the diet plan I followed after that. I will probably never publish it, because it’s full of humorous and embarrassing moments; and as my former agent said, I’m not a doctor so I have no authority on the subject. I do still follow the diet I invented for it, however. I am working on a second volume of CHM, which I would estimate is about 60% finished. I’ll be shooting for a Halloween, 2019, release.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

A ridiculous, fascistic practice that leads to artistic oppression and repression. On the other hand, nothing makes a book more popular and desirable than being banned. Forbidden fiction will read that much more sweetly.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

At the moment, I’m favoring indie, mainly because I am a control freak. I was burned by a medium-sized publisher, then my second small-size publisher went out of business. The thought of trying to find another agent and publisher is exhausting. Why bother, when there’s IngramSpark and Kindle? Plus, I already take lots of time to write anything. Dealing with other people just prolongs the whole process. Of course, then you have to plan all of your designing and marketing, but publishers don’t market much for you anyway, do they?

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I start with a plot, or in my case, an outline of ideas that generally become chapters or sections. Some of that is fairly rigid, but I like to allow myself the pants-flying. The structure leads to other ideas, and I build on those.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes, I have all sorts of cheeky references to Tolkien’s works in my recipes and anecdotal materials. If you’re familiar with his stories, you’ll find them. They have to be cheeky, because the Tolkien Estate originally sent me a polite cease and desist request, which prevented my original cookbook from existing. They said I could talk about the works, but I couldn’t quote anything or name any dishes after any of the characters or locations. As it is written currently, the cookbook has lots of hidden references to Middle-earth.

What are you writing at the moment?

I’m currently writing Cooking for Halflings & Monsters, Volume 2: A Year of Comfy, Cozy Soups, Stews, and Chilis. My husband is really tired of eating soup…

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

I’ve been reading many indie books that, unfortunately, do fit that stereotype. However, I’ve read plenty of indies that have been edited well and have pleasing and consistent layouts. It is concerning that many indie authors become caught up in the possibilities of the self-publishing world and they obviously rush to put out products—but you can see it on the page. That gives indies a bad reputation, and we all probably suffer somewhat for that. I believe if you are going to pour your heart and soul into a book, of any genre, you should strive to help its presentation as much as you can; within your financial means, of course. I know that can be a rough situation for many writers, but poor editing and layout can distract from your words. Obviously, this is all subjective; what bothers me might not bother somebody else. And even if a book is badly edited, I can overlook this to get to the meat of the story. I’ve read some books with errors from big publishers and best-selling authors, so there you go.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

Never; I like my surroundings to be as quiet as possible.

Tell me three unique things about you.

  1. I have a rather annoying interest in politics which mostly manifests itself in a severe hetero-crush on Rachel Maddow.
  2. I participate in various crafting media and have a shop on Etsy called “Elegant Sufficiencies.”
  3. I am a high-functioning introvert who used to brood—now I merely ponder. Nevertheless, I laugh frequently.

Astrid, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

Jacqueline Church Simonds, Galaxy of Authors

Jacqueline Church Simonds, Galaxy of Authors

Jacqueline Church Simonds

‘If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.’ ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Tell me about your book.

THE MIDSUMMER WIFE, Book One of the Heirs to Camelot: The reincarnated souls of King Arthur, Merlin, and an anxiety-ridden priestess return to save Britain after a devastating nuclear attack, only to find an old foe: Morgaine.

After a nuclear attack on London that heralds The Time Foretold, Ava Cerdwin, the anxiety-ridden high priestess in charge of fulfilling a 1500 year old prophecy, must assist the heirs of King Arthur and Merlin in healing the devastated country. The descendants of Britain’s great men of legend have kept the myths and relics for 61 generations, but no one is quite clear on what they must do next. Nothing goes as planned: Ava falls for the wrong heir, the panic attacks are getting worse, the complex obligations of reincarnation are straining old relationships, and Morgaine and her henchwomen are trying to kill them. Somehow, some way, Ava has to make the Healing happen, or Britain is finished. THE MIDSUMMER WIFE, Book One of the Heirs to Camelot is an Urban Fantasy that combines Arthurian lore, love, and a race to a breathtaking finish.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

The ones coming out are:

THE PRIESTESS OF CAMELOT is the prequel of the series. It will be out in August

THE SOLSTICE BRIDE (Book 2) should be out in early 2019

MISTRESS OF THE ROSE MOON (Book 3) should be out next Midsummer Day 2019

What do I have in my drawer? A very serious social justice novel I wrote for my college final thesis, 2 sci-fi humor starts, one semi-plotted very serious very weird sci-fi book, and a book about a dog that I’ve started twice and abandoned.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

Only idiots ban books. Period. If you don’t want to read a book, don’t. If you don’t want family members to read a book, tell them to their faces. If you think it is your business to stop people in your community from  reading a book – you need a hobby and should not be left alone with children and small animals.

When I was a little girl (I was 11 I think), a babysitter snatched TO KILL A MOCKEYBIRD out of my hands and told me it was a filthy book. She said she was going to tell my parents. She never returned, and my mother bought me 6 more books on social justice the next day.

(My parents and I are on opposite sides on the political spectrum, but your right to read what you want, and to vote for whom you want, are principles we hold strongly to.)

Tell me about a principal character in your book. What makes them memorable?

Ava Cerdwen, my MC, has an anxiety disorder that gives her panic attacks and causes her to suffer from agoraphobia (fear of being outdoors). She has a fairly serious agoraphobic attack in the book. Writing a character with an anxiety disorder caused me to have several anxiety attacks of my own—which I have experienced since I was 5 or 6.

Ava is doing the best she can, despite her anxiety issues. And that’s how it is for those of us who have anxiety. We do the best we can, one day at a time.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I self-published my first book, CAPTAIN MARY, BUCCANEER, back in 1999. Then I became an independent publisher (we put out 12 titles under our Beagle Bay Books imprint). So I’ve done the self-pub thing.

With THE MUDUSMMER WIFE, I decided I wanted to see how traditional publishing worked. I was rejected by about 60 different literary agencies. So I can’t really tell you yet how “traditional” publishing works. Outside of the fact I knew that it takes at least 2 years for the book to come out, you get little input into the cover, and marketing depends on what’s left over after the marquee authors in that line have all used up their marketing dollars.

I ended up going with independent publisher Vagabondage Press with their imprint Strange Fictions Press. The turn-around was quicker than the usual, they were far more receptive to my input on the cover, and are in general easier to work with.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

I’ve met people (authors, journalists, and poets) who state that reading “pollutes” their work. This is twaddle. You MUST read—and read widely—to write well. You should certainly read a lot of books/poems in your preferred genre to see what the trends are. But you should also read a lot of stuff outside your story’s setting. You live in the world. Live it, read it!

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

Is there such a thing as a plotter/pantser? A Plonter? That would be me.

Each book I’ve written to date has taken its own course. THE MIDSUMMER WIFE started out as a frame tale (a narrative that has something to do with the main story and opens and closes (and sometimes appears in the middle of) a bigger narrative). The action of THE MIDSUMMER WIFE opened, appeared in the middle of, and at the end of, what has become the prequel to the series, THE PRIESTESS OF CAMELOT (out in August). So I had a narrative arc. I just wrote from Point A to Point Z (the end?). (Because of the way MIDSUMMER ends, I HAD to write a series!)

Book 2, THE SOLSTICE BRIDE, I started and immediately wrote 8 fully-realized scenes that happened throughout the book. I don’t mind telling you I had a hell of a time coming up with a story and arcs that connected all of them.

Book 3, MISTRESS OF THE ROSE MOON, I wrote an outline because it is a quest and you need to map out where you are going and where key events are happening. I just barely got the bare outline set down when the characters demanded I start writing them THAT MINUTE. Bossy little things!

I guess I like to lightly outline, and then pants-it from there.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

There are definitely secrets you will only find out if you read all the books in the series – and have a really good memory.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

I do cross stitch. It keeps me from running in the streets. The biggest piece I’ve done was 3 feet by 3 feet.

What are you writing at the moment?

I am trying to decide if I should write a series based on the end of the prequel, or if I should do my sci-fi woman’s humor book. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do at this point. Right now I am marketing THE MIDSUMMER WIFE and writing a lot of guest posts and interview responses.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

I’ve been in publishing for 18 years, mostly assisting self-publishers in getting their work to print. The two biggest faults I see in self-publishers are impatience and cheapness.

I always hear authors say “I just want to get it out there!” like it’s a bad gall bladder or something. Nothing great was ever slapped together and thrown out into the world. A good book, like any other great piece of art, needs time to shape and perfect. In the case of books (or short stories, etc), you need an editor to help you achieve your voice, your direction, and to save you from grammar and typo whoopsies. It’s worth the time involved to work with an editor.

Editors are not in it to make your book sound like THEM. They are in it to make your book sound the most like YOU. Their job is to refine what you have (mostly) achieved. There’s only so far you can go with self-editing.

And yes, editing (and professional typesetting/formatting and a professional-looking cover) will cost money. Would you launch a store without spending any money? No. Few authors understand that the minute you stop writing, you are engaged in a $3 trillion a year global business. My advice: if you don’t have the money right away, save up until you can afford it.

Traditional publishing does put authors through editing (and professional typesetting and cover design and marketing). But they are doing less proofing, so you will still catch typos. And the more famous the author, the more often l feel they should have had a developmental editor cut back the book. But those authors are getting millions in royalties and—and oh hey! You just got a check for $20 from Amazon for 6 months of sales.

[Disclosure: I am an editor, and my company provides publishing services that have produced award-winning books.]

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

That’s an interesting question for me, since it turns out different musical styles seem to affect my approach to writing certain material.

For instance, as I was writing THE PRIESTESS OF CAMELOT, I really couldn’t listen to anything other than Celtic-based music. I use Pandora, so I set it on Enya and things went from there. THE MIDSUMMER WIFE I listened to 1960s-ish folk-based music, so I created a Simon and Garfunkel station. For THE SOLSTICE BRIDE and MISTRESS OF THE ROSE MOON, I had stuff from the 1980s and 90s (I’m old, so…). I sometimes switch out to a Miles Davis station.

Jacqueline, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

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