Interview: An Interview with Wesley Butler

Book Name and Description: Passage to Portrainia

The world of Portrainia is like a fairy tale where things you never thought imaginable exist – a common ground for lucid dreamers. It is seen through an unconscious body, mind and soul, where three young teens discover their dreaming lives are just as real as their waking lives.

This book is available for Kindle and in print on Amazon: Click Here.

 

What inspired you to write Passage to Portrainia? How has this published work evolved throughout your stages of writing?

While the concept of dreams has always fascinated me, Passage to Portrainia has gone through about five or six drafts before it reached its current, published form. I remember the first time I began to write it (around 2008), it was a fan-fiction based on a well-known (within the gaming community) video game that had been cancelled, and eventually transformed into a different story. I decided to turn that around.

I had written a full story from start to finish set in the world of Portrainia, although, at the time, it was not a literal dream world; rather, I had taken the “high fantasy” route and created a world set in an entirely different place other than Earth. The format for the story was blog post-like and episodic: I would post a new “chapter” every few days until the story ended. For the most part, I got positive feedback from it.

About a month later, I planned a sequel to this “draft,” (how I consider it now), which would be more interactive in nature. People who signed up to this gaming forum could “role play” their own characters, but the project never took off. At that point, proud that I had published an entire story (even in a non-formal way), I was becoming more interested in dreaming – lucid dreaming especially. I would borrow dream dictionaries and books from my local library and analyze certain elements I’d experience in dreams. It’s amazing to think about how accurate “meanings” are. Not necessarily paranormally, but, for example, if you’re experiencing undue stress in your life, and you dream of murky water and sky, that “illustrates” your feelings in real life.

This was the real inspiration for Passage to Portrainia. I always loved the name of this world and wanted to incorporate it into one of my writing projects. About four years ago, I decided to marry my interest in dreaming with this fantasy world, and create a place meant only for those who had the willpower to lucid dream. A literal dreamworld is not a concept explored widely in fantasy and science fiction, so I wanted to present how something like it could potentially play out.


What got you into writing young adult fantasy?

It’s a genre to which I’ve been attracted ever since I could remember. In my spare moments growing up, I would spend hours daydreaming of make-believe places, even drawing full-color maps of different landmarks, locations, dungeons, etc., that a protagonist in a story would travel to.

When I’d play video games such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask (the latter of which I believe to be the most compelling story I’ve ever seen in a video game), which I’ve owned for nearly 18 and 17 years, respectively, I’d be enthralled with the thought, attention to detail, and creativity that went into the development of storylines, and how different locations and fictional creatures interacted with each other.

As a genre, fantasy can have various categories (young adult, general audience, and more mature themes), and children’s literature is still my most favorite to this day. It allows for important morals to be incorporated and taught to its audience, life skills that can be used in the real world. Throughout my childhood, I would think to myself, “Wow, I hope I can create a rich world and story just by using my imagination.” That’s what really got me into writing young adult fantasy.


How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pencil. I can’t begin to tell you how many unfinished drafts I have stored in my home, from the ages of 5 and 6 to the present. Professionally, I’ve been writing for many years, on a freelance basis and in my current role. I have experience writing journalistically, mainly feature stories with human interest.


What is your favorite book, as a reader, and why? Has any author(s) influenced and inspired your work?

Although I equally admire all seven Harry Potter books, one of the most significant turning points occurs in The Goblet of Fire, the fourth in the series. The atmosphere is foreboding, almost as though you expect something dastardly to happen at any moment. Although the main event (literally, the Triwizard Tournament) is meant to showcase the power of wizards and witches, and have them compete against one another, its outcome was manipulated to resurrect one of the darkest, sociopathic villains ever created. Even rereading the book for the third and fourth time, I still get a sense of panic that a formidable force is about to terrorize the world, as if I was reading it for the first time.

J.K. Rowling, Ransom Riggs, Charles Dickens, and Roald Dahl have influenced my creativity, because their works have challenged me to build multi-dimensional worlds you can lift off the page. A lot of mental labor goes into creating a fantasy plot, because you must establish a living, breathing society of its own, just like we do in the real world.


How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

By exposure to new ideas and life experiences. I find when I write, I’ll first spend time “researching” my credibility to the topic, even if it’s fiction. When I read a new fantasy book, watch a movie, or play a new video game, I think about how the writer/creator drew on their own hardships or positive “flashbulb” moments in their lives (which happens frequently in literature) to tell the story.

Writing and publishing a novel has granted me the practical experience needed to hone my skills.


What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

I’m proud of my debut novel, Passage to Portrainia – particularly the fantasy world I’ve built with my imagination. I’ve always admired the raw talent authors possess and I feel accomplished that I’ve done something similar. As fantasy authors, I believe it’s our duty to create safe havens to which people can escape. Reality can be harsh at times, so it’s important to be able to lose ourselves in a world separate from our own. It’s a good way to recharge.


For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

Passage to Portrainia best represents my work. I lean towards “high fantasy” worlds connected to the real world in some way, but not accessed by normal means. When it comes to the places themselves, I try to introduce fantasy elements seldom or never seen. I build them up to the best of my ability, including places to travel to and quests to complete.


What are you doing next?

I have a couple of writing projects in progress. At one point, Passage to Portrainia’s plot was going to be merged (although I didn’t know it yet; I hadn’t separated the stories) with another idea I have, and that would have served as its own story. For now, I’m working on a plot that incorporates this idea as the main theme.


Bio:

Residing in Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada, Wesley Butler works in academic administration & communications for higher education. Passage to Portrainia, his debut novel, was released December 2018 under Amazon Kindle Self-Publishing. A former freelance writer, Wesley has served as associate editor of FAME Canada, a music and cultural news website, and as a columnist/reviewer for Independent Music Promotions.

 


Links:

 

© The Literary Librarian 2019

Interview: An Interview with Andrew Birch From the Birch Twins

Interview: Andrew Birch (writing as The Birch Twins)

Book Name and Description:     Book one:  The Life of Lol

                                                            Book Two:  Poohsticks Bridge

Poohsticks_Ebook_cover

This Book is Available for Kindle and Print on Amazon: Click Here.

What gave you the idea for Poohsticks Bridge? Or what inspired you to write it?

It started in 2016, when I was told by family that I originally had a twin sister, who didn’t live.  In fact, for a short time, we both died, as our mum couldn’t support both of us.  Helen gave up her chance so that I could experience life.

And so, searching for an outlet for this grief, Helen gave me Poohsticks Bridge.  It was the story of a lonely little boy growing up on an old ranch house, who meets a special little girl.  And so begins a friendship that will last their whole lives.  Their closeness and fierce protection of each other throughout all the tribulations in their lives is what I’d been denied.  Put simply, John is me, and Melissa is my Helen.

The inspiration to write it, have it professionally edited, to seek an artist to do the cover, and to market it in the best way I could, all came from my twin.  The desire to get people to see the dedication to her at the start of the book was a motivation.  Back in 2016, she was only a forgotten name from 1974 that nobody knew.  And now, everybody who buys the book knows who she would have been and what she would have been capable of.  She remains the driving force in my life, and my inspiration; hence the author branding is “The Birch Twins.”

How did you come to write Poohsticks Bridge after The Life of Lol?

I’ve always thought of each book as a reaction to the previous one.  The Life of Lol was loud, action packed, brashly fun, and the locations vary from coast to coast.  By comparison, Poohsticks Bridge is still, quiet and only features one house at its location.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for my whole life.  I started as a child writing little stories, and coding quests for my videogames.  That led to proper stories, poems, and eventually novels.

Tell us about your past books and stories?

Between 2000-2005, the company I worked for held a short story writing competition every year.  I won it three times and was featured in an anthology of stories.  Sadly, I no longer have copies of any of them.  My first completed novel was Travels with a Barbarian, a fantasy epic dealing with the relationship between a female warrior and an apothecary in a changing world.  I decided against publishing it in its then-current form.  Travels will appear at some point, but it’ll be rewritten first.

My first published novel was The Life of Lol, the story of an orphan girl that grows up to be a gangster and con artist.  Violent with plenty comedy and action, Lol was a learning process.  What to do next time, and what NOT to do.

And then came Poohsticks Bridge, my current novel.  Three years in the writing, it was inspired by Helen, my twin sister that was lost at birth.  Helen has been with me throughout the process of making Poohsticks Bridge come true.

What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like? What have been the biggest influences on your writing?

I plan quite extensively.  I’m a detail-planner, and I always leave gaps in case another story needs to come into this one, or a sequel is planned.  So the world always has spaces open.

When I know what’s going on, I write the novel in my head.  I’m a massive fan of sitting staring out of the window.  At first glance, it appears that I’m doing nothing, but in fact I’m playing the story through in my head and checking to see whether it makes sense  and it holds together well.  Sometimes, new things come to me, and they get jotted down.

Only when it’s watertight does it get committed to paper for a first draft.  As I work at a job as well, writing time can sometimes be limited.  I’m better in the mornings, rather than at night, so I can get up between four and five if serious writing needs to be done.

What is your favorite book, as a reader, and why? What book has disappointed you and why? Has any author(s) influenced and inspired your work?

The biggest reading disappointment for me has to be Treasure Island.  I’ve always loved pirates and pirate movies and TV shows, but never managed to read this classic, until recently, and sadly it’s left me cold.  I was hoping for rich description and characterization, but it really isn’t that good.  The plot doesn’t make that much sense.  I’m a lover of what used to be called “adventure stories for boys”, my favorites are the H. Rider Haggard tales, and I’d hoped this would have been the same.

My favorites have to be the Fleming Bond novels.  I love the lengthy descriptive passages.  I love the way he spends twenty-five pages on a game of golf, and always gives us a description of what’s on the characters’ sandwiches.  I love that so much.  I can’t write that way, I’m much faster paced than that; but for relaxation, that’s my guilty pleasure.

Other than these, I’m a massive fan of Golden age comic book stories.  I’m a fan of Gotfredson’s Mickey Mouse detective, Bark’s Disney ducks, Segar’s Thimble theatre Popeye, and Marston Wonder Woman stories. I love them, especially if they’re episodic, long-winding tales.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I have more confidence now.  I don’t try to be something I’m not.  I’m just a normal guy from the back end of Manchester, I’m  not some super-intelligent professor type.  That used to bother me, and I never felt I fit in with writers and the writing crowd, but it’s different.  Some success with the second novel gave me enough confidence to say, “I don’t give a shit what people think, I’m me, and I write my own style.”  Apart from that, I’ve spent time listening to and reading writers that I admire.  I even enrolled in a writing academy to tighten up my skills.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Well a PC with a copy of Word helps.  I’m also a fan of notebooks, spreadsheets, and even a sketchbook for drawings and maps.

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

I’ve done everything possible for Poohsticks Bridge, from going on a blog tour, to appearing in the local paper, being on the local radio, posting in Facebook groups, and even advertising at work.  Links to books and The Twins’ website are always included on short stories that get published.  I think a brand name is important, too.  Most of the time on Facebook, I usually operate as “The Birch Twins” and try to get the brand name out there.  It’s important to know how Facebook postings work and to make the postings aspects work for you.  When talking about my work, I never say “the book”; I always use the title.

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

Poohsticks Bridge is the piece of work that I love above all others.  There are still things I’d do differently if I were to write it again, but it’s my best writing, to date.

For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

The work that best represents my work is probably my short story, “The Coyote.”  It’s violent, atmospheric, funny, and fast-paced;  plus, you can get through it in under ten minutes.  Most of my main characters are female, and this story is no different. It was published by The Literary Yard.

What are you doing next?

Next, I am doing a prequel to Poohsticks Bridge, entitled Tales from Belle Starr House.  In fact it’s the first of two prequels to Poohsticks.  This book goes back to the days of the Yukon gold rush, and will feature actual people who were around Dawson and Skagway at the time, who will interact with the ancestors of the characters from Poohsticks Bridge.  Apart from that, whenever I get time, there are always short stories and flash pieces over at The Birch Twins Facebook page

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Keep writing.  Learn the rules, but never be afraid to go your own way.  Be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.  Remember that no creature on earth has a greater right to life than any other.  Always be courteous and polite, but remember to be firm. You’re a special person, too, with talent.  Listen to advice, but be prepared to disregard it.  Apologize when you’re wrong.  Be humble, but never too humble.  And if you drink bourbon, always drink it neat.  Most of that was from Helen, but she’s wise and worth listening to.

Bio:

Andrew Birch is a forty-four-year-old professional artist, writer, poet, designer, and one-half of the creative duo known as “The Birch Twins.”  His interests include comic books, action figures, machinery and engineering, sitting looking out of the window, and having picnics in the rain.

Links:

The Birch Twins Author Central on Amazon

“The Coyote” on the Literary Yard website

Poohsticks Bridge on Amazon

The Birch Twins Facebook Page  

© The Literary Librarian 2019

Book Review – Roma Gray – The Hunted Tribe

Amazon Review: The Hunted Tribe

5.0 out of 5 stars
May 22, 2017
Very excellently written! A wonderful read!

This book was excellent. Roma has a very smooth narrative flow and a wonderful talent for plot unraveling and expose.The story is captivating and draws the reader in fully – it’s a book that is almost impossible to put down. There is good suspense buildup and a satisfying conflict toward the end, and the book’s ending leaves you wanting more and ready for the sequel. Roma really captures the humanity of her characters – they think and breathe and feel, and the reader is carried along those shifting emotions and dialogues effortlessly. There is also much of humor in her characters, but also humility, gentility, compassion, and bravery. In addition, the descriptions of vegan cuisines are actually quite mouth-watering. Overall, this is a wonderful book, and I highly recommend it for any reader!

© The Literary Librarian 2017

Book Review – Roma Gray – Gray Shadows Under a Harvest Moon

Amazon Review: Gray Shadows Under a Harvest Moon: Six Trick-or-Treat Thrillers

5.0 out of 5 stars
July 9, 2015

Some of the Best Horror Fiction I Have Ever Read

This is an excellent collection of short stories, each with connections to mysterious things in our world, such as Atlantis or Bigfoot. However, these are not your typical stories relating to these things – each is an original concept, with twists and depths that are unexpected and intriguing. I very much enjoyed reading these – absolutely fascinating horror fiction with mystery tied in. Top of the line for short stories.

(Additional note: These are teasers – not full/complete stories)

 

© The Literary Librarian 2015

Interview: An Interview with JP Meador (Author and Poet)

Books List:

JP Meador has written over twenty books. A small portion of them are listed here: The Wagon Wheel, Strada Almaden, 32 Ounces of Wisdom, A Place I Call Home, Are You Supposed to be Taken Seriously?, Love Unfolding, Observing What is Not Seen, The Atrium, Off the Top of My Head, Subterfuge, No Need to Bleed, The Light Stream, and more.

See the Links section at the bottom of this interview for links to these works, a link to JP Meador’s listings on Amazon, and the link to his Facebook author page.

 

What made you decide on Strada Almaden as an author name?

I don’t want people to be confused. I am Jon Meador, JP Meador and love every aspect of Almaden so my author page is Strada Almaden. Strada Almaden means in Spanish, the road to Almaden. JP sounds much better than Jon when you publish books so I use JP. How can I explain this, Strada Almaden is similar to a metaphor, my poems and stories open the door to the memories I carried while I lived in Almaden. I still live there, even though I live in Fresno. Most of my family live there still, I go back whenever I can. I have walked on the roads and cleared many trails in the foothills that many people have hiked in Almaden. I may be absent from Almaden but I still call it home.

What made you want to write?

What gave me the inspiration to write comes from singers and songwriters. I am a poet first and foremost. The ideas that I get for my books comes from my personal experience.  

What got you into writing in this genre?

I have always enjoyed listening to songwriters and I wanted to write just like them. Poetry just arrived naturally. Poetry came to me like Pablo Neruda wrote in his poem, “Poetry.” I believe poetry is born within a person rather than practiced. It takes a while for that part of a person to be known. It may sound strange but I’m still developing as a poet.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for the past twenty years. I wrote my first poetry book in sixth grade because it was an assignment and I didn’t know anything about the subject. I didn’t pick up a pen and write another line of poetry for eight years.

Tell us about your past books and stories?

The first book I ever wrote was called, The Darklight Café. I spent a lot of time writing about girls and my experience with relationships. Then I grew out of that and wrote about other subjects that mattered to me at the time. I feel that the world wants you to be something other than what you were meant to be. I don’t like being under a label and I find myself misunderstood by other people. I am poetry but don’t know any other way to explain it.

What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like? What have been the biggest influences on your writing?

The process of writing can’t be forced. It will arrive when you least expect it. I’ve learned you need to have a pen and paper with you at all times. I used to walk to work with a small notebook because you never know when true inspiration will strike. It begins with a funny line or a thought than you put the time into it and it will transform to something you can use in a poem or it may stand alone as a storyline for a short story or a novel.

As I said, my influences are not from literary figures but songwriters. I just think they are more interesting and real.

What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why? What book disappointed you and why?

I have always been interested in autobiographies because people interest me. The book that caught my attention and couldn’t put down was a book written about Jim Morrison by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman called No One Here Gets Out Alive. I read a lot of books about famous celebrities like Elvis but I also like reading books from Lee Child and his character Jack Reacher. Those types of characters interest me.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I no longer think about what may or may not be interesting to the reader. I just write what interests me the most.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?     

Stephen King covered what tools you need to be a successful writer was a vocabulary and good sense of grammar. I would add to the list that a writer must have a great imagination as well.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

I learned from David Whyte that you need to feed your longings and desires.

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

I market my work on my author’s page on Facebook.  The best way to advertise is the traditional way, doing readings and word of mouth.

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

I feel I’m still growing as a poet and a writer. If there was a work I’m most proud of, it would be the book, Observing What Is Not Seen.

For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

Observing What Is Not Seen is a book of poetry and I feel it reveals more than what was written. It was dedicated to my late brother Gregg who taught me the importance of observing the world around you and to appreciate music.

What are you doing next?

I have published two books in July. I wrote a book on understanding poetry called Poetry Abounds and another book called Creative Joys that talks about writing and the need to keep at it. My next book I’ll publish will be three short stories called, Bound to Nowhere.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

The advice I would give aspiring writers would be keep writing. Don’t ever give up. Listen to your instincts and be careful who you ask to look at your writing.

Favorite Quote:

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Bio:

JP Meador has worked as park aide, security guard, computer technician and federal contractor. He was born and raised in Almaden, located in south San Jose, CA where he developed and indulged his interests in poetry and American History.

His first poetry book was called Forgotten Sentinels published in 2012 (now titled, A Place I Call Home) poems about abandoned military installations along the West Coast, which he visited throughout the decade of the nineties.

Since 2012, he has written over twenty books of poetry, novellas and a memoir called, “Are You Supposed to Be Taken Seriously?

He’s been married twelve years to his wife Debbie. They live in Fresno, CA with their grandson Matthew and a German Shepard pup named, Sasha.

Links:

The Wagon Wheel

Strada Almaden

32 Ounces of Wisdom

A Place I Call Home

Are You Supposed to be taken Seriously? 

Love Unfolding

Observing What Is Not Seen

The Atrium

Off the Top of My Head

Subterfuge

No Need to Bleed

The Light Stream

Complete Amazon Books Listings for JP Meador 

JP’s Amazon Central

JP Meador’s Facebook Page

 

© The Literary Librarian 2017

 

Interview: An Interview with Roma Gray

Book Name and Description:

Celebration of Horror 1: The Best of Roma Gray

 Holidays, vacations, birthdays, anniversaries: all times to celebrate, all times to cherish—all times to fear!

In this book you will find a collection of Roma Gray’s best horror stories, each one focused on these special times of the year. Find out why you should think twice before going to mom’s house for Christmas dinner or venturing out into the woods on that camping trip. You might just decide it’s best to stay home…assuming, of course, you are safe even there…

Available on Amazon for Kindle and in Print: Click Here.

 

What gave you the idea for Celebration of Horror series?

I created this book series for two main reasons:

First of all, I did it to pull together all of my best short stories. When you publish short stories, it feels like you’re scattering them out on the wind. They all fly away in different directions, landing in various anthologies or magazines, easily forgotten over time. It’s nice to have them together in one single place. Not all of my stories end up here, of course, just the cream of the crop. And since they’ve been previously published, I know which ones the readers enjoyed the most and which ones are the best of the best.

Secondly, I wanted to create a small, inexpensive sampler of my work. Each book in the series will be only five or six stories, and they will be sold in Kindle format for only $.99, and for under $7 in audiobook (I have no control of audiobook price, that’s up to Audible).

Truth be told, I planned out this series before I ever published a single book or story. That’s why most of my short stories have a holiday theme.

 

What got you into writing in the horror genre?

My happiest memories of my childhood were of Halloween. While walking to school with my friends, we’d make up spooky tales. That’s why I call them Trick-or-Treat Thrillers. To me, it’s like being a kid all over again.

 

How long have you been writing?

Since I was eight. My first novella, The Claw, was about a plantation in Africa where people were getting killed by some unknown animal. The plantation was owned by a duke and duchess from England who had built a very British-style, gothic mansion. I needed that Halloween feel, after all. Anyway, the police couldn’t identify the claw marks and thought it was actually a human killing people, using a man-made replica of a claw to throw them off track. Nope. It was a dinosaur, still alive in the jungles of Africa, that the natives called, “The Grishla”.

I never quite forgot the Grishla, and he is in my first novel, The Hunted Tribe: Declaration of War.

 

Tell us about your past books and stories?

My first book is a slightly unusual anthology called Gray Shadows Under a Harvest Moon: Six Trick-or-Treat Thrillers. Each short story represents an upcoming novel. I had a lot of fun with this, I even blurred the line between fiction and reality by interviewing the characters about their upcoming books. It was the first time (probably the last time) I have ever interviewed a fruit bat.

My first novel is The Hunted Tribe: Declaration of War, which was first introduced in Gray Shadows. It is the start of a ten-book series. The first book starts out with a Native American teenager who has been told he is a witch and is destined to save his tribe from a dinosaur animal spirit (the afore mentioned Grishla).

 

What is the writing process like for you?

I’m definitely a ‘pantser’ (someone who writes by the seat of their pants) because I like to be surprised by the story as it unfolds. I might have a general idea of where the book is going, a high-level mental outline, but that’s about it. After I get the “zero draft” done (I like to start with zero, first draft feels too serious), I then do another two drafts to patch up holes and make sure the plot is solid, then on the third and fourth draft I build up the scenes. This part is a lot of fun, because as I reach each chapter I ask myself “What is important in this scene? What am I trying to communicate to the reader here? Did I achieve it?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to “twist the knife” as I like to call it, which is when I punch it up (through description, dialog, or adjusting pace) to meet the intent. This is also probably the hardest part, because this is when each word really counts.

 

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

My draft system is a vast improvement over the days when I used to try to write an outline first. It sucked out all the joy, and by the time I got to the writing, I didn’t feel like working on the story or book anymore. Outlines turn writing into work. Who needs that?

 

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

The Hunted Tribe: Declaration of War. It has received a lot of recognition, which is satisfying for a first novel. In short stories, The Easter Feast (in Celebration of Horror 1) would be one of my top choices as well. I won a contest with that story, and it’s probably the top favorite story among my readers.

 

For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

Even though Celebration of Horror 1 was created to be a sampler of my work, I’d still say it is The Hunted Tribe. Being a larger piece, it allowed me to explore the characters and build in foreshadowing, suspense, and other complexities.

 

What are you doing next?

In 2017, I have three books coming out.

Jurassic Jackaroo: Jasper’s Junction, which is a prequel to The Hunted Tribe. It takes place in the old West, about a hundred years earlier. A retiring gun slinger has decided to hunt the Grishla, and he holds a contest where he pits criminals against criminals to see who will join him on his little safari. It will be a two-book series.

My second book due to come out this year is Haunted House Harbor: Humanity’s Hope. In this story, the “Perfect Apocalypse” (nuclear bombs, killer bees, zombies and other terrors) has occurred. The world is in complete chaos except a small coastal town called Haunted House Harbor. For some unknown reason, all of the terrible threats are stopped at the town’s borders. People flock there, of course, but the refugees soon realize this town has its own hidden horrors that may be worse than the zombies, killer insects, and radiation, combined. This will be a three-book series.

Last but not least, The Hunted Tribe 2: Rocket’s Red Glare. The main character, Sean, believes his grandmother is insane. He has to figure out if the Grishla is indeed real or if she is, in fact, the one behind the murders.

 

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

 If mom, dad, little sis, big bro, and your best buddies are fans of your genre, it might be ok to let them take a peek at it. Otherwise, keep them far away. I’ve seen too many writers get discouraged because they had a close friend or relative read their book and hate it, never taking into account that the book was sci-fi or horror and the person only liked romance or mysteries or some such thing. I’ve even seen horror writers trash a perfectly good horror novel simply because it wasn’t their type of horror and they just didn’t get it.

The truth is, for a book to be a best seller, it only needs 1% of the reading market in the United States to buy it. And in the end, even Stephen King, Nora Roberts, and any other best-seller you can name will never do much better than that simply because each person has very specific tastes in reading material. Think about what this means; for every best-seller out there, if only 1% of the readers in the US like their books, then the numbers dictate that most people (99%) will dislike their work. And yet, they’re a best-seller! So, if that is true for them, how likely is it your friends and relatives will fall into that 1% that likes your book? One in a hundred, right? (the math isn’t too difficult here). The numbers are against you, so why put them and yourself through that?

In my opinion, people turn to beta readers because they want validation. My advice: forget validation and focus on your writing. Do your due diligence, get a good editor (a professional, not an amateur which is what a beta reader is) to evaluate your work, read about how to improve character development, pace, etc. After that, though, get the work done, get it published, and move on. Stop looking for the applause.

 

Author Bio:

Roma Gray writes what she refers to as “Trick-or-Treat Thrillers,” stories with a spooky, creepy, Halloween feel to them.

Currently she works at J. Ellington Ashton as a Staff Editor and Director of Marketing, as well as for her own editing company, Night Sky Book Services.

She lives in a haunted house in Oregon with her black cat, her Chihuahua, and her parrot.

 

Links:

Amazon Author Page

Audible Page (audiobooks)

Official Website

Night Sky Book Services (editing, formatting and cover creation)

 

© The Literary Librarian 2017

 

Interview: An Interview with Poet, Trish Hopkinson

Book Name and Description:

Footnote (a chapbook of response poems) –

Footnote is a collection of response poems by Trish Hopkinson written as an homage to some of her favorite artists.

 

Praise for Footnote:

“She holds a handful of earth— / she must say it to understand it.” This scene, from a poem that engages Rainer Maria Rilke as well as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, is a gorgeously emblematic and enigmatic moment in Trish Hopkinson’s Footnote. This collection is obsessed with the miracle of words and the mouths that say them, the bodies that carry them out and back in, deliciously, deliriously. From Emily Dickinson to Amiri Baraka to David Lynch to Sylvia Plath to Pablo Neruda to Janis Joplin, these poems perform erasures, palimpsests, collages, ventriloquisms, haunted monologues, dreams in which the physical dances with the metaphysical so that the stormy dream of language can enter us. And then we see how “we are driven by our own ceremonies, / by whirling words.” Hopkinson understands that the best conversation is a transformation, in which the words one has inherited are reinvented. Footnote reminds us that the act of saying is something we may never fully understand—and that is cause for whirling joy. 

–Chen Chen, author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities

Footnote can be purchased here: Lithic Press: Footnote

 

Waiting Around

by Trish Hopkinson, after “Walking Around” by Pablo Neruda

It so happens, I am tired of being a woman.
And it happens while I wait for my children to grow
into the burning licks of adulthood. The streaks
of summer sun have gone,

drained between gaps into gutters,
and the ink-smell of report cards and recipe boxes
cringes me into corners. Still I would be satisfied
if I could draw from language
the banquet of poets.

If I could salvage the space in time
for thought and collect it
like a souvenir. I can no longer
be timid and quiet, breathless

and withdrawn.
I can’t salve the silence.
I can’t be this vineyard
to be bottled, corked,
cellared, and shelved.

That’s why the year-end gapes with pointed teeth,
growls at my crow’s feet, and gravels into my throat.
It claws its way through the edges of an age
I never planned to reach

and diffuses my life into dullness—
workout rooms and nail salons,
bleach-white sheets on clotheslines,
and treacherous photographs of younger me
at barbecues and birthday parties.

I wait. I hold still in my form-fitting camouflage.
I put on my strong suit and war paint lipstick
and I gamble on what’s expected.
And what to become. And how
to behave: mother, wife, brave.

–original published by Wicked Banshee Press

 

What gave you the idea for Footnote?

In 2015, after teaching a community poetry writing workshop on response poetry, I realized I had quite a few response poems of my own. So in this case, the collection was a surprise waiting for me in already completed work.

 

What got you into writing in this genre?

I’ve always loved poetry. My mother read me nursery rhymes when I was very young and gave me my appreciation for verse. I wrote my first poem when I was 5 or 6 and haven’t really stopped since. I set it aside for a while when my children and work and such took over my life in my early 30s, and quickly realized I am not content without writing poetry. When people ask me why I call myself a Selfish Poet, that’s exactly why—I write for me, the rest is just a bonus.

 

Tell us about your past books and stories?

The topics and forms of my poems vary, but most seem to have a feminist tilt. Several of my poems have been published in literary magazines, journals, and anthologies. My first two chapbooks were early projects and I share those on my web site. The first is a self-published collection entitled Emissions. It received an honorable mention award in the Poetry Anthology category in the League of Utah Writers annual writing contest. The original art included was created mostly by my son, with one by my daughter. The second is entitled Pieced into Treetops, finished summer of 2013 for a local 30 Poems in 30 Days contest. These 30 poems were based on daily prompts and placed second in the competition. The cover art is a photograph taken by my daughter. I hope to collaborate more with my son and daughter in the future; both are exceptional artists.

 

What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like? What have been the biggest influences on your writing?

I seem to be most productive in the evening, but I usually write my blog posts in the morning. I probably spend equal time running my blog, submitting poems, and writing poems. The writing process is typically to get the initial draft into a document—then I look for ways to revise and finish the poem. Often revision means trying new forms, adding in another metaphor, researching details for a metaphor, workshopping with my local poetry group, or just letting the poem sit and simmer for a while. Some poems pour out nearly complete with the first draft, while others take several revisions and sometimes months to become finished. I say finished lightly, because finished may never really be finished.

 

What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why? What book disappointed you and why?

I’m a Sylvia Plath fan. Ariel was life changing for me when I discovered it in my early teens. I still have “Daddy” memorized. Ginsberg’s Howl is another favorite.

 

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

I think the most important tool is community—at least that’s the case for me. I think it’s difficult to improve as a writer without feedback, encouragement, and learning from the experiences of others. Sure, you can probably get all that from reading books on your own, but it’s not nearly as rewarding and I think it’s a lot harder to be a writer alone. I love the local and online communities I’m a part of and I’ve made some incredible connections and some even better friends.

 

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

Read. Reading will make you a better writer. See what’s out there; see how you measure up; see if you can create something new. I get the most of my inspiration to write from reading other poets.

 

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

Aha! Now we’re getting into my specialty. I run a poetry blog where I share information on how to write, publish, and participate in the greater poetry community. I post almost daily and share no fee submission calls for literary magazines, journals, and other markets, as well as free poetry contests. I started my blog as a way to keep track of the places I wanted to submit to and other writing tips and resources. What I found is, a lot of other writers are looking for those same things, so when I started sharing my blog posts on social media, I got a lot of positive feedback and I’ve been blogging almost daily ever since.

Marketing my new chapbook Footnote has been a bit different. It definitely helps to have a blog with followers to sell/promote new work, but I’ve also done a couple of readings and have another scheduled in November. My plan now is to get a press kit together so I can approach the local indie bookstores in Utah and try to do readings there as well. Since I sometimes travel for my day job, I may check into readings in those areas as well in the future. I also set up a little online store and have promoted the book by offering other perks, such as signed copies and poetry critiques. So far it’s going well!

I always jump at the chance to be interviewed or to exchange guest blog posts with other writers and honestly, some of those experiences have been the best part of this whole poetry adventure.

 

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of my poem “Waiting Around” which I wrote in response to a Neruda poem entitled “Walking Around.” It’s been published several times—more than any of my other poems, and won awards as well. It’s also included in Footnote.

 

What are you doing next?

I’ve been working on poems about my childhood as well as poems about my son and his recovery from an accident that nearly took his life. I’m also working on the materials and lesson plan for my next free community poetry workshop. Utah Humanities makes it possible for me to teach these once a year as part of their book festival and part of the workshop includes publishing a collection of poems written by the participants. I’m also working on the third annual issue of Orogeny, which is a collection of poems written by the members of my regional poetry group, the Rock Canyon Poets.

I’ve always got a lot going on and wouldn’t have it any other way. Poetry nourishes me.

 

Bio:

Trish Hopkinson has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. A Pushcart nominated poet, she has been published in several anthologies and journals, including Stirring, Pretty Owl Poetry, and The Penn Review; and her third chapbook Footnote was published by Lithic Press in 2017. Hopkinson is co-founder of a regional poetry group, Rock Canyon Poets, and Editor-in-Chief of the group’s annual poetry anthology entitled Orogeny. She is a product director by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow Hopkinson on her blog where she shares information on how to write, publish, and participate in the greater poetry community at http://trishhopkinson.com/.

 

Links:

To buy the book: Lithic Press: Footnote

Poetry blog

Trish’s Facebook Page

Trish’s Twitter: @trishhopkinson

Trish’s Tumblr 

Trish’s LinkedIn

Trish’s Google+

Trish’s Amazon Author Central (for other books listings)

 

© The Literary Librarian 2017