C Rene Astle, Galaxy of Authors

C Rene Astle, Galaxy of Authors

C. Rene Astle

‘It’s hard to heal when your head has been severed from your body.’

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

I can’t say I actually decided to start writing. I’ve written for as long as I can remember. I have a box full of story ideas that go back to when I was growing up. I have so many stories waiting to be written that I haven’t opened the box in a long time; I’m not sure I want to.

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

Probably every book I’ve read has influenced me in some way, but not the answer you’re looking for 😊. Certainly, books like The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia had a big impact. My mom (also an author) read those to us when we were kids, and that gave me a lifelong love of fantasy. On the other side, my dad had a telescope and we spent some cold night star-gazing, and I remember reading Cosmos by Carl Sagan, which is non-fiction, when I was still fairly young. I didn’t read a lot of science fiction until I was an adult, but I think that love of Space and a childhood watching ‘Star Trek’, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica’, led to reading and then writing it.

Tell me about your book / series.

Mina’s dying for life to get back to normal.

After the sudden death of her mother, all she wants is to get back to art school and work at the tattoo shop. Unfortunately, her roommate convinces her she needs a night of dance, drink and debauchery. When she wakes up, she finds that she’s not only a vampire but has been recruited into an eternal fight to protect the humans from the things that go bump in the night. And now an ancient terror awakes. 

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Hmm, what counts as half finished? Let’s say more than 50% done. Four, I think? Maybe five. I used to be really good at starting books but not so good at finishing them. Luckily I’ve become much better at finishing books, but I still have a few from that phase where the characters are waiting in limbo for their tales to be wrapped up. But now I have so many scraps of paper with new story ideas to get to.

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

As a general rule, I don’t agree with it. For most books, I’d rather see open discussion – why are people upset about the book or the subject matter or the author. This helps us develop our ability to think critically and learn discernment.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

Indie. Like A.M. Rycroft, I didn’t have the patience to wait for submission, rejection, submission, revision, submission. At the time, I was also hearing from fellow writers that they were being asked for marketing plans and what not…and that’s the part I hate. So if I have to do a lot of the marketing stuff anyway, I might at well just do it all.

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

Yes. I absolutely agree with this. I don’t understand when I hear writers say they don’t read. Besides loving books, I think it’s critical to honing my craft, and one of the best ways to make the mechanics second nature. Reading deeply in my chosen genres is important but reading broadly is also valuable. I find it hard to read critically (as in discerning), because I get lost in the story, but it’s important for me to understand what I like and don’t like and what works for me as a reader and why.

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

I don’t know that there is a worst, other than not being able to make a living at it…yet. I love entertaining people and being able to connect with people from around the world over a shared interest. I love bringing characters to life and then living vicariously through them.

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

I used to be a pantser. My first novel took at least five years…I needed to be a more efficient writer to be able to get all these stories rambling around my brain on paper. So I started a journey to becoming more of a plotter. For me personally, I don’t think it stifles creativity; in fact, I think it gives me more space to be creative because I don’t have to worry about the framework – it’s already there.

As for the other approach, I don’t think anything. People need to find what works for them to get their stories written.

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

I have what’s called an allotment or community garden plot. It doesn’t take a lot of work in winter, since my particular plot tends to flood. But during the summer, I’m out there a lot, getting my hands dirty, listening to the birds, talking to the bees and the earthworms. It’s very different from the stories I write.

What are you writing at the moment?

Right now, I’m wrapping up book 3 of my Bloodborne Pathogens series. Then I can get back to work on the first book in a space opera series – one of those unpublished books from question 4.

Tell me three unique things about you.

I talk to bees and earthworms…I’ve already mentioned that.

I think octopuses are phenomenal creatures.

I love watching British mysteries…who knew those quaint towns were so deadly.

C. Rene, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

M J Stoddard, Galaxy of Authors

M J Stoddard, Galaxy of Authors

M. J. Stoddard

‘The calling of an author is more than just to entertain, but also to share one’s experiences with the world.’ ~M. J. Stoddard

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

I just love to create, in elementary school I wrote TMNT fan-fiction and during my freshman year in high school, I wrote a Christmas themed sci-fi short-short story. My sophomore year, I knew I wanted to be a full-time author, I knew I had a gift, being a major sci-fi/fantasy buff in all aspects from movies to video games, I wanted to take my writing to the next level and create an original epic sci-fi/fantasy.

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

Yes, Frank Herbert, J. R. R. Tolkien, Orson Scott Card, Stan Lee and more.

Tell me about your book / series.

A jaded mercenary…a corrupt military official…and an ancient  artifact known as…The Sixth Eye.

The fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance as tensions escalate between the United Terran Confederacy and the Independence Mining Corporation.

An elite pilot and mercenary known as Blain Ross confronts a formidable enemy ahead, so must he confront the enemy within himself and thwart his former Commanding Officer’s hellbent agenda to obtain an ancient artifact with dark, mystical powers that would bring total anhillation across the galaxy and the universe. The artifact is known throughout the galaxy as…The Sixth Eye.

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

I have several, two of which are series: Gemini Continuum and the Shadowbane Chronicles. The others I’ve started are stand-alone stories, but still have a connection with the Twilight Legacies multi-verse.

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

My principal character goes by the name ‘Blain Ross’, who is an expert marksman, martial artist and star pilot. What makes Blain Ross memorable is his quick wit, intelligent and his innate knowledge of an ancient magic.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

Indie, because as an author, I keep all my rights and royalties are descent.

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

I agree and not necessarily in the genre that you are writing. I know during my times of liesure, I read a bit here and there; historical fiction, adventure, besides sci-fi and fantasy. I also read books that are more academic in nature – primarily for research for the series I am working on.

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

The worst aspect of being an author is not having enough time in the day to finish the next chapter. This is discouraging, especially when working a full-time job to provide for the family and pay the bills. The best aspects of being an author is creating, designing and moreover, the payoff of such an investment; which can take a lifetime before coming to fruition.

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

I am both a plotter and a pantser.

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

Absolutely, I have so many woven into the plot.

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

I love to spend time with my family, I am a martial arts instructor and co-founder of Bastress Stoddard Hogosha Samurai Karate Jutsu and I love to design starships, logos and book covers. I’m also a musician – I play the electric guitar.

What are you writing at the moment?

Currently, I am working on Book 2 of The Twilight Legacies, entitled Crimson Vortex, Gemini Continuum: Empire of the Gods and Shadowbane Chronicles: Prophecy.

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

I don’t believe that’s the case, that is a stereotype. I have read some traditionally published books that have a few grammatical errors or typos, but it doesn’t take away from the quality of the story.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

I love to write sci-fi/fantasy because there are no limitations on how the stories evolve and so much can be expounded upon from a single premis or idea.

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

Yes, because I’d love to travel the stars and explore the universe.

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

The one piece of advice I would give myself is not all publishers are as they seem – Do more research.

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

Yes, most of the time. I prefer game tunes, like AVP, Dark Star One, Freelancer, classical music every now and again.

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

One of the most surprising things I learned in creating The Twilight Legacies: The Sixth Eye Special Edition is a new way of storytelling.

M. J., thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

Jane Jago, Galaxy of Authors

Jane Jago, Galaxy of Authors

Jane Jago

‘Never underestimate the ability of the human race to be disgusted.’

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

There was no conscious decision. I have just always written. It’s as natural as breathing.

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

Many. Too many to list. I think every time you read a well-written book it leaves a bit of itself inside you.

Tell me about your book / series.

I have chosen to talk about the Joss and Ben books: Ghosts, lies, and gourmet cooking.

Joss and Ben Beckett run a pub and live a happy fulfilled life. They wouldn’t be at all upset if stuff stopped happening. But at ‘The Fair Maid and Falcon’  very little is as straightforward as it seems.

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

A lot. I’m not prepared to divulge numbers…

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

It’s pretty pointless. Mind you, writing a banned book seems rather a lucrative ploy.

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

Let’s run with Joss Beckett. She’s a Michelin starred chef who doesn’t believe in the supernatural. Or at least that’s where we start. She is mostly memorable for her warmth, and the occasional outbreak of potty mouth.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

Indie. Because it allows me to make my own choices.

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

No brainer. Read and read, and learn and learn

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

Bad. The times when nobody seems to want to buy your books. Good. Everything else. Except editing, which sucks. And promo, which is a black art.

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

I’m actually neither. I usually have a beginning and an end set. The middle is a bit more fluid. And as to what I think of how anybody else writes, basically I don’t. That’s their bag.

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

Maybe. But if I told you I would have to kill  you.

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

Cooking. I love cooking. Also eating. Hence the pot belly. But. Cake. I need no more excuse than that.

What are you writing at the moment?

Right now I’m answering some questions. *Giggles* Also the eighth Dai and Julia novel with my lovely co-conspirator E.M. Swift-Hook, some short stories, one sequel, a crime novel, and probably something else too…

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

That’s such a stupid generalisation. There is good and dross in every field.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

Short fiction. I love the constraints of word count. It makes for taut sparely complex prose and when I get it right I feel so good.

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

No. I’m far too old to move from my armchair. Anyway, Dog wouldn’t let me.

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

Maybe publish earlier in life. Maybe not.

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

I listen to anything that is going on around me. I’m one who cannot write in silence. I am a fan of heavy metal, Gilbert and Sullivan, Dire Straits, and seventies pop, among other bits and pieces. I can never sit still if ‘Born to be Wild’ is playing.

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

That I can concentrate enough to properly format books.

Tell me three unique things about you.

I can swear in at least seven languages.

I once won a prize for being a cute baby.

I am allergic to fish.

Jane, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

Tiffany Passmore, Galaxy of Authors

Tiffany Passmore, Galaxy of Authors

Tiffany Passmore

‘If you can not find the book you are looking for, then it up to you to write it.’

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

When I first started writing with a serious purpose in mind, I was a babysitter/nanny for my nieces and nephews and my younger siblings. They truly enjoyed it when I would read to them before nap and bed time. The stories they enjoyed the most were the fantasy and the sword and sorcery stories. As they became older, I began to search for stories about people that looked like us. People of color are rarely seen in the genre as more than the bad guys, or the comic relief, etc. So, I began to tell them stories that were based on research into African mythology. Now when my niece wants to dress up as a warrior princess for Halloween, she does not have to wear a blond wig, she can wear her natural hair and rock the look.

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

There have been many greats over the years that I have read and grew inspired from. My first love was romance. Johanna Lindsey. I then moved on to fantasy greats like Tolkien, Gaiman, King, Catherine Asaro and Elizabeth Haydon.

Tell me about your book / series.

The first series is The White Lion. It is a mash up of sword and sorcery, urban fantasy, action, adventure and a bit of romance. I have always been a bit of a genre soup writer. A Seraphim is mourning the creation of humanity and the way that they treat the world and each other. She infuses her tears into the blood of several families. When the children who can utilize the gift of her tears are born at the same time, that is when the battle for humanity and the Earth begins.

“We will show the heavens that there is something left here worth fighting for.”

The main thing is there is a demon that wants to take over the Earth and the humans with the gifts are having a hard time deciding if humanity is even worth saving.

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

It really is a foolish attempt at controlling the masses. If you can control what the public reads, you can control what they think. Banning books stagnates the growth of society.

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

The principal characters in The White Lion are actually a trio; the High Princes and a High Princess. The High Princess (Tiffany – I know, she is named the same as myself) is relatable to readers because she is not a perfect warrior. She has an autoimmune disorder, she is spoiled and cries a lot, yet when it is time to battle, she comes through. The High Prince Kenneth is beautiful on the outside, yet he has insecurities and is prone to hyper-sexual activities. The other High Prince, Nicklaus, he was a vampire made human by his good deeds, has a past of cruelty that he turns to the benefit of the group.

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

Reading is fundamental to writing. They are flip sides of the same coin. You can better your craft by studying the masters.

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

The best is the ability to reach people that you may never meet. The worst is the lack of sleep.

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

I love hiding secrets in books. Most, okay, all of my books and series, while stand alone, are connected in some way.  Not to mention, the characters in The White Lion are based on actual friends that I have or people that I know. When reading it, there is always a guess of ‘did this actually happen?’

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

Tap dancing. I perform in charity shows for children with cancer or women and families in need through Our Art Of Giving.

What are you writing at the moment?

At the moment, I am writing the sequel to Sheherazade’s Princess and a new series called Elemental Bonds. As well as my online free fan-fiction, The Sugar Series.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

My niche is Fantasy, whether in blended genres or urban.

Tell me three unique things about you.

I enjoy painting ceramics.

My home is referred to as the Library due to the mountain of books that I have collected.

I am a crazy cat lady.

Tiffany, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

W H Mitchell, Galaxy of Authors

W H Mitchell, Galaxy of Authors

W. H. Mitchell

‘Explore the stories of W. H. Mitchell’s dark, dry humor.’

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

I drew a lot as a kid, even making long picture stories with plots and different characters. Once I started writing, I began doing that a lot more than drawing, and things just grew from there.

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

I read fantasy when I was younger, including the works of Lloyd Alexander (The Black Cauldron). Although I watched a lot of sci-fi (Star Wars and Star Trek), I didn’t really read much of it until I was much older (Douglas Adams among others). Shakespeare, especially his use of tragedy and comedy, was also a big influence on me.

Tell me about your book / series.

The Imperium is in turmoil! Seven centuries after the sleeper ships brought us to Andromeda, our human empire is plagued by war, intrigue, and a mysterious secret that may tear it apart!

The Imperium Chronicles follows the citizens (human, alien, and robots) that live in the Imperium. From the highest nobles of the aristocracy to the lowest dredges of the Underclass, we learn the stories of their lives.

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

I’m currently working on a novel called the Robots of Andromeda, the third book in the Imperium Chronicles series. I self-publish so I really don’t work on anything that I don’t intend to publish myself.

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

I think you’d be hard pressed to find many writers who are in favor of banning books. I’m a very strong believer in freedom of speech, regardless of whether people like what’s being said. I remember getting a little too zealous with a fellow high school student who had issues with all the sex in A Brave New World. I guess the idea of stopping people from reading or even having access to stories is something that triggers me on an emotional and intellectual level.

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

I have many characters, probably more than I should if my reviewers are right. One of my favorites is Magnus Black, an assassin who appears in my first two books. He’s kind of the personification of Death; outside of our definitions of good or evil. He’s very much how I view the universe in an existential nihilist sort of way. 

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I’m 100% indie. I didn’t want to wait for an agent and then a publisher to deem my works acceptable or not. This allows me to tell the stories the way I want. On the other hand, indie authors are viewed differently than traditionally published writers so getting recognition is an even greater, uphill battle. 

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

Well, I could tell stories before I could read, so there’s some innate narrative skills that we are born with. However, I think reading is a great way to learn the craft. My only issue would be if you started imitating someone else’s writing. It’s important to have your own voice, even if that means writing more and reading less.

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

For me, the act of imagining and having a finished product brings me the most happiness. The process of writing itself, however, is like torture much of the time. I often have terrible trouble writing, partly due to my dyslexia and attention deficit, but sitting on the toilet and having the solution for a plot pop into my head is a lot of fun.

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

I’m both. I have a very loose plot structure in mind without necessarily knowing how it’s going to end. While I’m writing scenes, ideas present themselves naturally, and I try to use those in the rest of the writing.  I call it emergent writing/narrative because it comes into existence without planning it.

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

Yes, I’ve hidden references to things, especially from my favorite show Futurama. Sometimes I just put it in for my own amusement, knowing that no one else will notice or even give a damn if they did.

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

I play video games, either strategy or first-person shooters. I used to play MMORPGs but I’ve been playing mostly solo games the last few years.

What are you writing at the moment?

I’m working on the third book of the on-going Imperium Chronicles series. It’s been much more difficult than the first two novels, partly because I didn’t have existing short stories or ideas to draw on. Most of what you’ll see in the book is brand new.

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

Well, editors and especially good editors cost money. Most indie authors, myself included, lack the money to pay the prices necessary for the really best editors out there. With that in mind, it’s entirely possible an indie book is going to have more errors than one published by a large publishing house (who can afford the editors they have on staff). My question would be: is bad punctuation or typos more important than the narrative? It’s really up to the reader to decide.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

I write mostly science fiction, although I purposely include fantasy tropes into what I write. I have space elves and space dwarves / orcs, and I have starships called the Gorgon and the Sorcerer. I even have an evil mega-corporation called Warlock Industries.  I’m attracted to sci-fi, but I read tons of fantasy when I was younger. I guess I just enjoy mixing them up.

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

Absolutely. I love fictional robots and to live in a world where I could interact with them daily would bring me great joy (compared to interacting with humans that is).

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

I probably would have suggested writing books sooner. It takes a long time to build up an audience and, at my age, I might be dead by the time I reach that goal.

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

I listen to music to help drown out other sounds. However, I can only listen to music without words because that distracts me too. I ended up listening to Bebop Jazz because of the energy and lack of singing.

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

I lived half my life thinking I couldn’t write a novel and now I’ve written two in only a couple of years. No one is more surprised by that than me!

Tell me three unique things about you.

I have a dark sense of humor/worldview, but I also love cute things like Hello Kitty!

When I started college, I was a Physics major before switching to English.

In the 90s, I co-founded a poetry magazine called The Wolf Head Quarterly (now defunct).

W. H., thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

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