Mirror Interview #7: Katie Sullivan

adventureswithD-final (1)D: So, um, A, are you aware that you are over at Readful Things, talking to yourself?

A: . . . .

D: Of course, you’re calling it a “Mirror Interview,” but the fact remains: you’re talking to yourself.

A: Yes, D. I am.

D: Just so we’re both on the same page here.

A: (Eyeroll). Right. Anyway, go check out the Mirror Interview that Ionia was so very kind to allow me to do on her blog space (and Charles was so kind as to post)!

readful things blog

Katie Sullivan Katie Sullivan

It was a nice change, talking to myself as me, instead of talking to myself under the guise of my character/muse/monster, the druid known as D.

Give those who may not know Changelings: Into the Mist a snapshot of the story.

Irish teens Maureen O’Malley and Sean McAndrew are lost to time. Lured from the abbey they call home by the vision of a warrior shadowed by mist, they are tossed between pirates led by Grace O’Malley in 1584 and revolutionaries dreaming of a new republic in 1916 Dublin. To return home, they must defeat the man – the myth – responsible for their misadventures: the tyrannical Faerie king, Nuada Silver Arm. Maureen and Sean are the strongest Changelings in one thousand years, and the king would rather the last of the descendants of Man and Fae remain lost to time forever. Aiding them is the man in…

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The Druid asks the Questions – Dani Vedsted

Ladies and Gents, it is my pleasure and my honor to put the questions to Miss Dani Vedsted.

Dani is the proprietress of the Etsy Shop, Fall’n Love Crafts and a blog of the same name. I ask your forgiveness in advance – I am about as familiar with crafts as A is with the use of a sword for anything beyond a prop (which is actually a good thing. Yours truly may not live to see the completion of his books if she were to learn). However, Dani is a most gracious guest and walked me through the process. I hope you enjoy her as much as I did.

Now, without further ado . . .

D: Tell us a little bit about your store, Fall’n Love Crafts.

fallinlovecrafts

Fall’nLove Crafts – Dani Vedsted

DV: Fall’N Love Crafts started with a birthday present for my mother: a buffalo plate. She loved it and urged me to make more and sell them. Well, I did, and plates built up and my sister, Briana Vedsted, set up my Etsy shop for me. My shop name came to me as a little bit of encouragement to myself: you need to fall in love with your piece of art before you try selling it. No one can understand it or like it if you don’t have your own feeling for it.    

D: I hear you have a new line that debuts today – what is Fallen Angel all about?

DV: Fallen Angel is sort of like a fantasy for me. You see, being an angel is all about perfection; your hair is perfect, your heart is perfect, and so on and so forth. Being a Fallen Angel means the angel is flawed with human qualities such as emotions of anger and sorrow. Plus, to show the change from Perfection to Fallen, your angel might end up with a tear in her wing or a scar on her arm. Fallen Angel, I guess, describes the way I am feeling sometimes.         

D: Where does the inspiration for your crafts come from?

DV: Most of my inspiration comes from my surrounding or family. My Fallen Angel is completely emotional though.

D: We all have our favorite children (don’t shake your head at me, A – you only have one): What has been your favorite piece to make?

DV: That is a tough question; all of my plates have a special something to them. I think it would have to be my buffalo plate that I made for my mother’s birthday.

D: Well, she’s very lucky because it is beautiful. What about a least favorite piece – do you have one? What is it about it that made it less-than-loved?

DV: My least favorite plate was a wolf plate I made for a friend of mine. The problem was I liked the finished piece, but some of my family members thought it needed more. I put things on, took things off, and finally decided to leave it how it was.  

D: That sounds like a lesson many need to learn. Take us through the crafting process – how do you begin, and how do you know it’s ready?

DV: It is really easy; I get my plate and spray paint it the desired color, I then glue on the picture and all the ‘ornaments,’ wait for it to dry, and then I spray it with a sealant.    

D: So the reason A can’t craft isn’t because it’s difficult like she keeps telling me? Ha! Knew it. Is there a piece that you would love to make, but you don’t necessarily feel as though you’re ready to make it yet?

DV: Actually, my Fallen Angel Collection was the one I was afraid to do. I really don’t even know if it is good enough for me. I guess I will find out if it gets sold.

D: I think the idea of it is wonderful – and I hope your bravery is rewarded, Dani. Are there other creative areas you’d like to branch out into?

DV: I always wished I could be a famous artist or a musician, but I think I’m neck deep into a future of farming and ranching.

D: Never stop hoping. I had nothing but cattle in the highlands of Scotland and look at me now!

A: D. You’re a character in my head.

D: Yes, but I was somebody before that, A. Don’t ruin my message.

D: Now, Dani, do you have any advice for any other young, enterprising business people out there? What have you learned?

DV: My advice is never give up, keep praying, and keep your fingers crossed. I believe everyone has a chance at doing what they love; they just need to take that first step.

D: Alright, Dani – I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the magnificence that is me, but if you had to attribute one of your pieces to a time-traveling Pict Druid, which one would it be?

DV: The plate I think that would best be attributed to D’s magnificence is my wild horse plate that captures the very spirit of freedom and eternity.

D: I love it! Thank you, Dani, for spending time with me and answering my questions. You are a delight, and I wish only the best things for you and for your latest collection.

A: There you have it folks, the Fallen Angels line is available now – as is a lovely backstory/short story on Dani’s blog. Enjoy!

The Druid asks the Questions of Jack Flacco

D: It is my pleasure, nay, my grave pleasure—see what I did there A?

A: (eye roll) Yes, D – I see it. Very clever.

D: You don’t sound very impressed.

A: Sorry, I was saving the ticker-tape for a special occasion.

D: What could be more special than this? Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my grave pleasure to welcome Jack Flacco, author of Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse, to the D/A Dialogues.

D: Jack, give us a quick, spoiler-free overview of Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse.

jack flacco - zombieJ: After finding his family had succumbed to the ravages of the zombie apocalypse, Ranger Martin, a shotgun-toting former truck driver, makes a life mission of eradicating as many eaters as he can with the little resources he has at his disposal. Making things complicated are a group of kids tagging along, aiding Ranger on his quest to discovering the truth regarding the zombification of humanity.

D: Why zombies – what is it about them that drove you to write a book?

J: Zombies are fun. They’re Horror’s little Terminators. No matter how much we try to get rid of them, they keep coming. They replicate. They take a beating. They never surrender. Their unrelenting pace brought me to the genre, and I’ve always wanted to read a book where zombies scared me to a cold chill.

D: So many components go into writing and then publishing a book – which was your favorite?

J: I enjoy stepping into the story to experience what the characters are experiencing. The role-playing aspect interests me the most, as it’s a brief opportunity to live someone else’s life. Is there such a thing as method writing?

D: I think so – my presence on this blog may be a side effect of such a phenomena. So, do you have any traditions or rituals you invoke when you complete a draft?

J: Without fail, I’ll take the family out for dinner. It’s a tradition I’ve kept since the very beginning. Funny thing about it, the draft doesn’t come up in conversation. I guess we’re too busy enjoying the sushi to talk about it.

D: Which of your characters character were you rooting for the most?

J: Randy. Here’s a kid who’s stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time with very little to live for and dream. Yet, hooking up with Ranger may have been the best choice of his life—even if at times Ranger dances on the threshold of insanity.

D: The threshold of insanity seems to be a thing with writers. Ranger and A have a lot in common. Speaking of, which of your characters did you enjoy torturing?

J: If you consider zombies as a character, then I think every zombie kill was my idea of fun. I kept track of the kills so I wouldn’t do the same thing twice.

D: Sometimes writers go into a novel with one idea/favorite and come out the other side with a completely different idea or favorite character – did this happen to you, or were you able to remain true to your initial vision?

J: I wrote it with the idea that not everything we see is what it seems. As humans, we have a tendency to make up our mind about things before getting all the facts. It happens to me all the time. For instance, the line at checkout has five shoppers, so I switch to the other line with the two shoppers thinking I’ll get out of the store faster. But I didn’t see the shopper ahead of me having an item needing a price check. Next thing I know, I’m stuck waiting longer than the original line I had stood in. Perception makes for an interesting bedfellow.

D: What’s next for Jack Flacco?

J: I have two other books I’m currently writing at the same time.

D: What is your favorite genre to read?

jack flaccoJ: I’m reading John Grisham’s full bibliography in chronological order based on date of publication. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but put it off for a reason or other. I suppose for now, the legal thriller is my favorite genre.

D: You discus movies quite a bit on your blog – do movies play into your creative process at all?

J: I grew up on a staple of Spielberg, Lucas and Cameron movies. As much as I try to avoid adding references to these film titans, something manages to slip in. It then becomes a game for me to find the references. I suppose it happens as my own version of a subconscious homage to these great directors.

D: Provided it’s not a spoiler, what is your favorite name for a zombie – either in your own work or in other works out there?

J: Eaters. I’ve heard this term used before and it describes the zombies perfectly. The undead do nothing other than hunt and eat. If I had my way, though, I’d call them sharks. Then again, confusion would arise whenever a story took place in shark-infested waters. Isn’t there a movie about that?

D: What has been your favorite visual interpretation of the zombie genre?

J: The ability to survive a catastrophic event such as the annihilation of humanity can come in different flavors. By far, AMC’s The Walking Dead is as close to a zombie apocalypse as anyone can get for now. I can’t seem to let go of Season 1’s imagery from my mind. Zombieland is another one of my favorites, even though the electricity still works in that universe. Then again, with so many automated backup systems in place nowadays, who’s to say the lights would go out in an end-of-the-world scenario?

D: Who would you pick to play Ranger Martin in the movie version of your book?

J: I draw a blank whenever asked this question. I left Ranger’s description vague on purpose in order for readers to imagine their own interpretation. I’ll say this though, if Ranger Martin does get optioned for a movie, the actor playing him would have to be strong enough to lift a soldier off his feet.

D: What do you think the odds would be on a time-travelling druid vs. a zombie hoard?

J: I fear for the zombies’ safety.

D: Hear that, A?

A: Of course, with the right equipment, a three-year old could destroy a zombie.

D: A zombie maybe, but we’re talking zombie hoards, A. A swarm, a multitude a veritable throng of zombies.

A: . . .

D: A mob, A.

A: No more reading the thesaurus for you, D. If you want to see if you could pit your wits against Jack’s zombies, pick up his book, Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse at Amazon.com, tomorrow, October 22 (Wait, that’s TODAY – Buy your copy now)! You can also stalk him on his blog, and on Facebook.

D: Also, check out A’s review of Ranger Martin. . . even if it is Druid Free.

A: Ha, Druid Free. I like that – kinda like Gluten Free, but for my sanity instead of my stomach.

D: . . . Ignore the woman behind the curtain. She’ll offer you sawdust and call it brains!

A: Mmmmm . . . Brains. . .

D: And with that, we bid you all good day. Thank you for stopping by the D/A Dialogues.

The Druid Asks the Questions of Briana Vedsted

Me and Billy the Kid, by Briana Vedsted

Me and Billy the Kid, by Briana Vedsted

A: D. D, put down the hat.

D: What are you talking about? Briana’s coming!

A: Yes, but she does write other things besides westerns featuring Billy the Kid. Besides, the hat just looks–

D: Don’t you say it, A. Billy liked it, and that makes it just fine.

A: Whatever. Just make sure you don’t smack Briana in the face with the fringe on your shirt.

D: (eye roll). As if it were long enough to do that, sheesh. With that, ladies and gents, it is my great pleasure to welcome to the D/A Dialogues, Ms. Briana Vedsted.

D: You are a prolific writer, Ms. Vedsted – tell us a little bit about your upcoming novel, Me and Billy the Kid.

B: Me and Billy the Kid is fictitious tale about the infamous western outlaw Billy the Kid and some other characters from the time, including Jesse Evans, Richard Brewer, and the legendary Sherriff Pat Garrett. New to the tale is Billy’s young girlfriend, Angel, who quickly becomes the object of Garrett’s fascination.

D: I hear you have a publisher for Billy – what has been your experience with indie publishing versus traditional publishing?

B: Tate Publishing, the company who I’m working with for Billy, is more of a vanity press, and so far, I admit that indie publishing is my favorite. It’s a lot more stress-free and I have more control. I still have my hopes on publishing the traditional route one day, but for now, self publishing is the best I’ve found.

D: Where do your characters come from? Are they people you’ve known all your life, did they come knocking on your mind’s door, demanding to be written, or is it a combination of all of that?

B: My characters are a combination of people I know and people that just popped into my head. It is by far easier to take real life people I know and make them into characters, for me. With most of my characters who are imaginary, I usually see them very clearly when I start writing, but after awhile, appearance starts to change and I have to make a list of each color’s eye color, hair color, age, etc.

D: Of all your characters, who would you rather spend a day with? What would you do?

B: I would of course love to spend a day with Billy the Kid! Even though my character is slightly different from the really William H. Bonney, to be able to hang out with a legendary old west cowboy would be amazing. And I would just sit and listen to him talk all day long. I’d want to hear the stories he could tell!

D: Who is your least favorite character? Who, if they were to be in the middle of a stampede of cattle, would you save last?

B: The character I’d let the cattle trample would probably be Maggie, the main character in The Untold Story of Margaret Hearst, alias Maugrim Valletta (a.k.a. The Ballad of Margaret Hearst). She’s a foolish, rebellious teenage girl who falls in love with the wrong man and does everything she can to be with him. She is the only character I have that I don’t like. And actually, she turned out just the way I planned. I think I hoped she would have developed a new personality, but alas, she was a very obedient character and went alone without arguing.

D: What genre would you like to try – if you haven’t already?

B: I’ve actually tried writing every genre I could think of. But so far, my favorites are fantasy and western.

D: I hear there is a vampire-and werewolf-like story in your future? Care to share a spoiler-free sneak peek?

B: Here with the Wolves is about werewolves and the human-like Slayers who kill them to protect humans. Here’s a piece from the first book in the series:

 “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Ness, the conquering hero.”

My hand dropped to my knife blade, and I had to remember that it was kind of illegal for an alpha to kill a member of her pack, no matter how annoying he was.

“Hello Malcolm.” I turned to face the dark faced aggressor. His blue eyes took in my bloody appearance, my bandaged arm, and the don’t-mess-with-me-right-now-or-I-just-might-rip-your-head-off look with amusement.

“I guess I was wrong about you: you were able to kill a wolf after all.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather. Was Malcolm actually giving me a complement?

Then he opened his infuriating mouth again, “Or did Kenneth do it for you? Were you scared? However did you manage to spend three whole nights out in the woods? Did you have to borrow your little brother’s teddy bear, or maybe his security blanket, huh?”

He laughed coldly, and again, the only thing keeping his head on his shoulders was Dustin’s hand on my arm.

Kenneth started to stick up for me, but I waved him away. I wanted to show him I could handle myself. I shook off Dustin’s arm and stepped right up in front of Malcolm. The sound of my own voice surprised me, it was so low and gravely, I don’t think it even belonged to me. “As your Alpha, I command you to hold your tongue. If anyone is going to do any lecturing, it will be me. Unless you are severing the bond, bow before me so as to prove your loyalty to our pack.” This was the first time I’d ever pushed anyone. Never before had I summoned up my alpha ability of dominance to order anyone around.

And now Malcolm was faced with a dilemma. He could choose not to bow (which I probably would have done) and be turned out of his pack (okay, maybe I would have bowed, for Kenneth’s sake), or he could bow to his mortal enemy and remain in the pack.

He chose the second option.

Falling to the ground, Malcolm groveled. (It was a bit much, in my opinion.)

Embarrassed and a bit ashamed for pushing him so harshly, I cleared my throat, “Uh, okay then. Rise Malcolm. You have proven your loyalty.”

Blue eyes like daggers, his dark face shockingly pale with humiliation, Malcolm got to his feet. His voice dripped poison as he said, “I honor no alpha but Kenneth. The day his reign is over, I’ll come after your life.”

A Girl Named Cord

A Girl Named Cord

D: Thank you for sharing that with us, Briana. How much of your family’s work on its ranch has influenced your storytelling?

B: All I know about horses and cattle I learned from experience. Living on my family’s ranch has helped inspire the majority of my stores, western or other genres. Ranching can be a dangerous occupation. I know what it feels like to get bucked off a horse, come face-to-face with a lion, and get lost in the middle of nowhere. Great joy comes with the territory, as well, and so does sorrow. Living the life I do has given me lots of opportunities, and I try my hardest to accurately describe all events I write about.

D: A and I both loved your post I am an Author. What advice would you give to other young and aspiring authors out there.

B: Really the only thing I would say is that you’ve got to love this craft. I mean it. If you don’t love writing, it might be the wrong job for you. But if you do love it, then just keep writing. Everything gets better with practice. Yes, there will be naysayers along the way, but you have to be strong.

D: All right, Briana – I love asking this question of people who have a myriad of characters at their disposal: It’s a Druid showdown – me vs. a character of your choice. Who do you think can take this time-travelling Pict warrior down?

B: I’m going to have to say Kenneth, alpha of the Slayer pack from Here with the Wolves. He’s the most level-headed character I’ve ever come up with, and a born fighter. I’m not sure he could actually take you down, D, but he is an archer, as well as an extremely good swordsman. And if necessary, he’s all for flaunting his martial arts skills. If you bother his protégée, Ness, be prepared to face the wrath of Kenneth!

D: Yikes, I think I’ll leave Ness alone!

Well, there you have it folks, Ms. Briana Vedsted. To learn more about Briana and her work, head over to When I Became an Author. You can also buy her books, The Night I Walked Off Boot Hill, A Girl Named Cord and The Ballad of Margaret Hearst
on Amazon.

Me and Billy the Kid will be released on November 5, 2013.

The Druid asks the Questions – Marie Ann Bailey

He flicked black hair from his eyes and straightened his bowtie. He could feel the heat rising from his collar and hoped he wasn’t blushing. Blushing would not be dignified. And he wanted dignity, perhaps even a little presence, when interviewing Marie Ann Bailey, writer and blogger extraordinaire at 1WriteWay.

D: Nothing about that is dignified, A.

A: Well, I’m not the one who wanted to present Marie with a bouquet of flowers.

D: Impossible woman. Is there something wrong with trying to impress a lady? She was gracious enough to allow me to interview her, again. Sheesh. Some people.

Without further ado (or interruptions from A), please welcome Marie Ann Bailey.

marie ann baileyD: Give those who may not know about your series, The Widows Club, a quick snapshot:

M: The series is about three cousins who grew up together, went slightly separate ways when they married, and then regrouped when all three become widows.  And all three cousins are in dire financial straits with few marketable skills, so they get the idea to set up their own private investigation business.  The business leads them into interesting but dangerous adventures such as kidnapping and murder.

D: By the way, how is Brittany? She and I met briefly, if I recall. I hope the poor girl makes it.

M: Well, I would be giving it away if I told you, D. Let’s just say, at this point in the draft, she survives, but barely 🙂

D: Oh, I forgot about A’s favorite word: Spoilers. Of course – and thank you for the update. I shall continue to hope for her.

D: How did you meet the lovely Mary, Melissa and Maggie? Have you known them all your life, or did they knock down your door, demanding to be written?

They gave me insomnia, to be honest.  The thing is, I do have a lot of cousins and many of us are close in age so we spent a lot of time together when we were growing up.  I’ve always been kind of fascinated by the difference between the relationships one has with their families and their friends.  One of my cousins often said, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your relatives.”  Lovely sentiment, don’t you think?  Anyway, one night I couldn’t sleep because these three women kept popping into my head.  I got up and wrote a page or two, and then the next I knew it was October 31 and I had decided to participate in NaNoWriMo.  I took those two pages and ran with it … whatever “it” is.

D: I think “it” sounds fantastic so far. I’m looking forward to A reading it someday soon!

D: I have it on good authority that you are indeed the Great Cat Rescuer: how many and do they all get along? Any cuddly stories for the cat fanciers out there (you know who you are)?

M: Do you like cats, D?  I imagine you as more of a timber wolf kind of guy 🙂

D: Ah, timber wolves, wolfhounds and mastiffs . . . those are my kind of animals, but cats do have their uses, I suppose.

M: Right now we have four cats, which is the most we’ve ever had indoors.  Two of the cats, though, Maxine and Junior are indoor/outdoor because they do stay close to the house and it helps the dynamics if they are not indoors 24/7.  Maxine is a b**ch because she wants to be the “only kitty” and doesn’t really like to share.  She’s not above tormenting the old lady (Luisa).  She tries to give Junior a wide berth because he enjoys beating up on her.

The good news is our most recent “rescue”, Wendy, is generally getting along with everyone now.  We think Wendy has a crush on Junior, the only male of the bunch.  He’s quite rambunctious and likes to play and run around.  The last few nights they’ve taken to running up and down our hallway for several minutes.  You know, right when we’re ready to go to sleep.  That’s when they like to play.  As soon as lights are out.  It makes me feel very old, like Wendy is our late-in-life child.

D: I can relate – A makes me feel like that sometimes. Speaking of which, do you have a least favorite character within your series – or any other novel-in-progress?

M: I’m struggling with Melissa, one of the cousins.  I’ve become very fond of Maggie and Mary, but Melissa is turning out to be a challenge.  All three women have their flaws of course.  Maggie is a bit too reticent and trusting.  Mary is headstrong and acts before she thinks.  But Melissa has some issues with her cousins that frustrate me.  She has some deep-seated issues stemming from childhood that are only now starting to surface and create rifts between her and her cousins.  The upside is that their conflicts drive some of the plots in the series; the downside is I have to keep my eye on Melissa, try to make sure she doesn’t go off the deep end and ruin everything (as in, I will no longer have a story to tell).

D: Following on that, do you have any methods you use to keep troublesome characters in line?

M: Well, to be honest, D, I was thinking of asking A how she keeps you in line.  Wait, not that I mean you are troublesome!  Please don’t scowl at me, D.  It makes you look your age.  No, let’s just say you are very independent.

Anyway, it’s still a mystery to me how to control a character who starts developing issues, like Melissa.  I don’t want her to ruin the relationship with her cousins because then their story would end.  But she needs to work through what is bugging her.  I’m hoping we resolve things in the third novel.  It’s almost like I have to be her counselor and try to nudge her toward making better decisions.  Easier said than done, though.

A: It is rather like being a counselor . . . and ‘independent’ is a good – much nicer than I would use – word for D. Of course, I do let him get away with anything, within reason. Later, I kill the darlings when he’s not looking.

D: A! How could you?

A: (Shrug).

D: Well, I never . . . Marie, If you were to find yourself alone in the world as your characters in The Widow’s Club are, how would you face that challenge?

M: Oh, dear, if you mean, if I found myself as a widow?  I hate to admit that it’s crossed my mind and perhaps to some extent, that’s why all three women are widows.  My husband is several years older than me and statistically . . . (D, I know you think you’re an exception, but you do just exist in A’s mind) . . . Anyway, some of my female friends and I have discussed the possibility of moving in together if we should become widowed. Although I doubt that any of us would want to start a private investigation business.  Actually, Maggie and Melissa don’t like the PI business.  Just Mary does.  She’s nosy.

D: Nothing wrong with nosy – I would have very little to do if A weren’t a bit of a nosy madam herself. Speaking of nosey, A’s friend once knit her a nose warmer. Are all knitters mad or is it just A? What has been your favorite piece to knit?

M: What? Knitters aren’t mad.  Hatters are mad.  I imagine that where A lives, a nose warmer would be a nice thing to have.  For a while, I was knitting a lot of socks. I learned how to knit two at a time, toe-up, and made a few.  I made my husband a pair of wool knee socks that have Aran cables on the sides.  Those were fun.  I want to knit more socks, but right now I’m knitting a shawl.  Shawls are my next favorite things to knit.    I pretty much like to knit anything I don’t have to sew together.

D: You are a huge advocate for NaNoWriMo – any plans for November? Do you have any future stories you’d like to share?

M: I love NaNoWriMo!  Thanks to last November’s challenge, and the camps in April and July, I now have three (poorly written) first drafts for my series.  I will be participating again this November.  I’m not sure what I will do, but I’d like to write another horror novel.  My very first NaNoWriMo was in 2007 and that was a horror novel, and my very first novel actually. The first two chapters of it received the Featured Post badge from the Community Storyboard.  I hadn’t looked at the novel in so long; now I’m thinking of editing it to see if I can make something more of it.  But in November, I’ll have to come up with something else.  Unfortunately, I’m a pantser so I probably won’t know what I’m doing until I start doing it 😉

D: You are a versatile writer – as your blog, and your work on the Community Storyboard proves – do you find that helpful overall when writing a series, or can it be a distraction?

M: Why thank you for saying I’m versatile, D. I’ve never really thought about it before. Aside from the wonderful community of bloggers and the Community Storyboard, all this writing is helpful because it gets me to write.  The more I write, the quicker ideas come to me, the faster I write, the more productive I am.  Before my blog, I could go for long periods without writing.  And actually I was fairly convinced that I didn’t have it in me to be a writer.  Blogging has changed all that.

The only distraction now is just trying to keep up with everyone else who blogs. I could spend days and days just reading other blogs.  There is so much good stuff out here!  And that’s why it’s really great that you are doing these interviews, D.  You need to get out A’s head now and then (and give her a break).

D: A break?! The woman takes enough breaks. She needs to work harder! Do more!

A: D? Come back, D. Your dictatorial tendencies are showing.

D: Oh dear, I don’t know where that came from. Anyway, continuing on your versatility, is there any genre that you would love to explore more? Why?

M: I would like to explore writing a memoir.  I have a very poor memory of my childhood, which may be a blessing, but I still want to write what I remember of it and of the people in my life.  I think writing a memoir could be cathartic in a way that writing fiction is not, even though a memoir may border on fiction.  It would be a way for me to preserve the memory of people I’ve known, people who should not be forgotten.

D: Say, how is Mary doing? Do you think she’s really ready for commitment with that ‘old friend?’ Don’t you think she could spice up her life with a little Druid love? Please?

M: Hmmm … Druid Love.  Sounds like a good name for a rock band.  Tell you what, D.  Mary is … well, has become intimate with her old friend, but that doesn’t mean you two can’t have a date together.  I know she would find you very interesting … and her late husband was quite a bit older than her so, you know, she likes older guys.  Have a talk with A.  Maybe she’ll let you out for an evening.  And thanks for the interview.  You were quite (surprisingly) the gentleman.

D: And you madam, are ever the treat to have on this space. Thank you for gracing it again and chatting with me.

A: Yes, thank you Marie for giving D another chance! It was such a pleasure to have you here! And PS: I love that you knit Aran cables on socks – they sound really cute! Now everyone, go check out 1WriteWay, Marie’s blog! You won’t be sorry!

The Druid Asks the Questions – Charles E. Yallowitz

Gather ’round ye lords and ladies, and give approbation to the builder of worlds, the scribe of Windemere and many other worlds yet-unknown, Charles E. Yallowitz.

D: Give those who may not know Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower a quick snapshot:

Prodigy Cover Final

Cover Art: Jason Pedersen

C:  Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower is the sequel to Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero.  While the first book took place in Hamilton Military Academy, Prodigy of Rainbow Tower is a journey down the L’dandrin River.  Luke Callindor and his friends are escorting the heir of Serab back home, but their enemies know their route.  So, they have to survive a gauntlet of traps, demons, and there’s this whole betrayal thing that seems to have earned me a few ‘Damn you!’ emails.  Joining the established characters is Nyx, who is a short-tempered battle magic caster and one of my favorite characters to write.  She brings a new level of magic, drama, and action to the story because of her power and lack of restraint.

D: Angry letter-inducing betrayal and a powerful woman with a lack of restraint. . . sounds like my kind of world.

D: Writers meet their characters in a variety of ways – and you have a variety of characters. Tell me about the strangest character introduction you have experienced.

C: Most of my main characters were part of a Dungeons & Dragons game, so I was introduced to many of them by their players.  The strangest character introduction would have to be Kira Grasdon.  She had a single scene in the first draft with no depth.  After that, she started slipping into other scenes when I was editing.  One day I finally noticed she was popping up and gave her a big scene that was kind of related to the plot.  I guess Kira got hungry for more because she earned more scenes and rose from her ‘barely there’ beginnings to a major factor of Luke Callindor’s story.

D: Without giving too much of the series away, do you have a least favorite character in your world of Windemere – or another world of your creation? Whose suffering do you enjoy the most?

C: I put my characters through the wringer a lot after the first book.  For some reason, I love traumatizing them and making them cry.  They grow stronger from it and it makes their victories a lot sweeter.

As for least favorite character, I recently introduced one of the new villains in my 5th book and he’s kind of blown all other hated characters out of the water.  I knew this guy was going to be evil and sadistic, but I expected a buildup.  Right out of the gate, he’s torturing the happiest of the heroes, turning on his own allies, and his has this interest in doing horrible things to Nyx.  By the end of the book, I really wanted to kill him off, but I need him for certain plot points and character development.

D: Where do you think you get sadistic characters like that? Is his inhumanity dredged up from your mind, or is it something else – something separate?

C: I’ve thought and worried about where the sadistic characters come from.  The best answer I could come up with is that I’m using the parts of human nature that I despise.  The character in question is disloyal, sadistic, and turning out to be a sexual predator, which is the aspect that scares me.  All of these are things I hate in other human beings, so this character came stepped out of that area of my morality.  Not the darkness, but what I attribute to the worst of the darkness.  I had to go philosophical on this in order to put my mind at ease.

D: Which character do you wish you were more like?

C: There are a few characters that I wish I had some traits of, but each one is flawed.  I’d love to have Luke’s confidence and courage, but he comes with a bloated sense of responsibility.  I already have that.  Nyx’s defiance is appealing too, but she has the temper that would get me in trouble.  Maybe Aedyn Karwyn since he seems to be the more balanced if not a little on the bland side of the personality spectrum.  Wait!  I’d be Fritz the womanizing gnomish inventor.

D: Nice choice, Charles. I knew a fellow like that once – he had all the fun.

Now, you and A know the gaming lingo (what the heck is a cantrip anyway?), so to call you a gamer would not be too far afield. What is it about gaming that you love, and has that element made it into your books at all?

C: I’m leery of calling myself a gamer these days because I’ve been out of the games for so long.  (A cantrip is a minor spell that takes very little energy and does something mundane like change the color of something.)

D: (Cheers – no more lording it over me, A.)

A: (Can it, D.)

C: The gaming element definitely makes it into the books with the help of my use of present tense.  A lot of the games I played in revolved around humor, action, interactions between the players, and humor.

Trust me that humor has to be in there twice.  I put this into my books in the hopes of creating the same relaxed atmosphere for the reader that I felt during the games.

The downside to this tactic is that you have to deal with people getting annoyed that your book reads like a D&D game.  Can’t please everyone and that seems to be especially true in the fantasy genre.

D: Conversely, do you have a favorite part of gaming that has not made it into your books?

C: Not really.  I was always more interested in the story and characters than the stats when I played the games.  So, I’ve brought that over to my books.  If anything, I had to cut out some fun scenes from the game because they didn’t translate very well.  There’s a big ‘you had to be there’ factor that an author has to remember if they write books off a D&D game.  For example, I couldn’t really add in the fact that Nyx in the game had a habit of charging face first into battle and getting knocked out.  It was hilarious and became a running gag, but the book version of Nyx wouldn’t do that.  She’s too powerful and cunning.  So, comedy caused by the player had to be dropped.

D: Of the Windemere books that we have yet to see, which one do you look forward to debuting the most? Why?

C: Out of the Legends of Windemere series, I’m really looking forward to the 6th book debuting because it’s a big change for Luke.  Though, I could just be interested in writing it since it’s my next book after I edit 4 and 5.  It’s really hard to pick a favorite out of the series.

Out of my non-Legends of Windemere books, I would have to say it’s a tie between ‘Tales of the Slumberlord’ and ‘Sin’.  ‘Tales of the Slumberlord’ will be interesting for me because the hero is a foolish halfling caster named Darwin Slepsnor.  I’m going to be trying to work a series with a main character who is also comic relief and kind of a sidekick at times.  It will be a challenge after the grand heroes of Legends and the anti-hero of my following vampire series.  As for ‘Sin’, I’m going to be using a 4 Act structure with multi-tiered villains and world spanning adventures in each book.  Through the series, I get to take the readers on a major tour of Windemere.

lowbah

Cover Art: Jason Pedersen

C: I do believe in it, but I also think we have free will.  It’s a balance where we are destined to do something and given the tools to do it.  Yet, we have the free will to attempt another path or miss our destiny entirely.  I do feel destined to be an author because of my imagination and always thinking up new stories.  I also know that I have to work hard for it and there’s always a chance that something could go wrong.  Destiny can only take one so far, which is something I point out in the books.  It’s stated at one point that while the heroes are destined to make it to the final battle in some shape or form, they aren’t destined to win or survive.  That has to be earned, which is how my personal philosophy works.

D: As one who has created his own prophesied destiny out of myth, I understand you completely.

D: So, you’re hard at work on the third book in the Windemere series – care to share a spoiler-free sneak peek?

Sure.  This is the initial meeting between the reader and Sari the gypsy:

The ground rushes to meet her beautiful face after Sari trips over a tree root that she could not see through her tears. Dirt joins the twigs and leaves that are caught in the dark blue waterfall of hair that cascades down to her thighs. She scrambles to her feet before wiping the dirt and tears from her puffy eyes. Their emerald glow, that her partner had written songs about, is barely a glimmer amid a cloud of terror. A tear down the arm of her dirty, white blouse makes her grumble incoherently as she rips the sleeve off. She whimpers at the sight of her bright red skirt, shredded up to her knees by the forest’s underbrush.

Sari takes a moment to rub her bleeding feet before sprinting forward like a hunted rabbit, ragged breaths escaping her smooth lips. Her direction is a mystery even to her. Her only hope is that her path takes her away from the slaughter. Sari can still hear the final scream that ripped through the air and announced the demise of her kin. It took all of her strength to leave her hiding place and run for her life.

D: All right, scribe: me and a character of your choosing. Who would you pick to attempt to take down this time-traveling, god-impersonating Druid?

C: Very good question, D.  Unless you’re fireproof, I think Nyx would have the best chance.  Even then, she’s definitely the most powerful of the Legends of Windemere heroes.  After all she is a CENSORED SPOILER, which is really hard to fight against.  Then again, the villain I truly despise has time-based powers, but I’d end up rooting for you in the fight.  So, Nyx and her powers of destruction will be my champion.

D: I do love those flaming hands of hers on the cover of Prodigy. She is a worthy champion, Charles. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your words with us. It has been a great pleasure.

A: Yes, thank you Charles. Now, everyone, go read! Go buy! Charles, the World Builder has created something fantastic!

Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero

Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower

The Druid asks the Questions – Michael S. Fedison

D: And so it was, on a lovely day in the month of August – named as such for that rat, Augustus Caesar – did Michael S. Fedison, author of The Eye-Dancers, bequeath to A the winning gift card. Stunned and overcome by this beneficence, A requested the honor of allowing yours truly to interview him.

A: First of all, wordy. Second, what’s your beef with Augustus?

D: Who is asking the questions, here, woman?

A: . . . oh, you are off to a roaring start.

D: And without further ado, The Druid Asks the Questions

An interview with Michael S. Fedison.

D: Give those who may not know your book a quick snapshot:

eye_dancers_lowres3M: Have you ever had a recurring nightmare?  The kind of dream that repeats itself, night after night, after night?  That’s what seventh-grader Mitchell Brant experiences at the beginning of The Eye-Dancers.  A mysterious little girl with blue, spinning, hypnotic eyes comes to him in his dreams, three nights in a row.  He is convinced she is trying to snare him and transport him to whatever world she calls home.

When Mitchell learns that two of his friends are having the same dream, things really start to get weird.  The boys then go to the class genius, Marc Kuslanski, for advice.  But the very next night, as Mitchell feared, the boys are indeed whisked away to a strange, new world.  What follows is a dimension-busting adventure that will severely test each of the boys, forcing them not only to confront the dangers of the new world they find themselves in, but also to face down and overcome their own inner struggles and insecurities.

D: How did you meet your characters? Were you introduced, did they demand your attention in some innocuous place, or have you known them so long that you can no longer remember life without them?

M: Definitely the latter!  The characters in The Eye-Dancers are inspired by childhood friends I grew up with.  So, yes, absolutely.  I have known them all my life!  And it was a lot of fun “fictionalizing” them and writing about them.

D: And I reckon you honor your friends in that – it was many a man who vied to have the chance to be immortalized in my words.

D: Which of your characters can you identify with the most?

M: Without question, Mitchell Brant.  He and I share many similarities.  For example, when I was in middle school, I, like Mitchell, had an overactive imagination, loved collectible old comic books, and was very shy around girls.  There is no doubt that Mitchell and I are, in many ways, as Anne Shirley might say, “kindred spirits.”

D: Do you have a least favorite character – one that you almost enjoy watching cope with any disasters you as author send his or her way?

M: Honestly, no.  I liked all the main characters, and there weren’t any of the supporting characters I hated either.  “Grronk,” who we meet in chapter four, is incredibly obnoxious, but he was very fun to write for.

D: Mmm, you could teach A some pointers. If only she had the same outlook. . .

D: If you were in the same situation as your characters, what would you do differently (without giving too much away)?

M: Hmm, that’s an interesting question, and I’m not sure if I would do anything all that differently, especially if I were twelve years old, as they are.  Even though I relate more to Mitchell than the others, I would probably have chosen the Marc Kuslanski method—trying to gather as much data as possible about their new surroundings.  But really, I can see myself incorporating each of the boys’ strategies.  That’s what’s fun about being a writer.  You can write about multiple characters, and, in one way or another, each character has a piece of yourself in them.  Kind of like make-believe multiple-personality disorder, I suppose . . .

D: Oh yes – A can commiserate. Although in her case, I’m almost certain she’d lean less towards make-believe—

A: D, behave yourself.

D: What makes you uniquely qualified to write The Eye Dancers?

M: Well, the first thing is the characters—the fact that they are based on friends I knew personally, and grew up with.  Apart from that, the themes and concepts of the story have always interested me and resonated with me.  Some of the novel’s themes are:  the magic of childhood, and the enduring, transformative quality of friendships formed early in life; quantum physics and the idea of parallel worlds; a fascination with nostalgia, especially the 1950s; and the interconnectedness of all things—the fact that a stranger, so far away you can’t even imagine, can, in some mysterious, unexplainable way, be connected to you in a very real and powerful way.

D: You love The Twilight Zone – tell us why.

M: The Twilight Zone is really a unique TV show—the quality of the writing is unsurpassed, I think, in television history.  I love the way so many of the stories probe beneath the surface.  The stories, in and of themselves, are entertaining, sometimes scary, but, even more important, The Twilight Zone at its best forces us to look at our world, and at ourselves, and examine what we see.

D: Your story tackles how we perceive reality: if you could perceive it in any way and have it be true for you, what would you choose to perceive?

M: I think the number-one thing I would like to see is a world where people are not so quick to judge and impose their opinions on things they don’t understand.  One of the themes of The Eye-Dancers I failed to mention above is the idea that “there is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in [our] philosophy.”  This is a lesson Marc Kuslanski needs to learn over the course of the story.  And it’s a lesson we all need to learn, at one time or another, I think.

By Green Embers

By Green Embers

D: Any more trips amid the fantastic planned (i.e. books in the works)?

M: I actually have begun a sequel to The Eye-Dancers!  It is in the very early stages (not even titled yet), but I am optimistic about it.  Five years have passed, and the sequel shows the main characters now at age seventeen—which certainly gives the book a different feel from The Eye-Dancers.

D: Finally, if a time-travelling Druid made his home in your imagination, would you flog him publicly, or make him welcome and treat him with the respect he deserves?

M: I would praise him, share his genius with the world, climb up old fire escapes to city rooftops and shout his name so everyone on the street below could hear!  I would ask his opinion on all things.  D, somehow, I think you were fishing for a compliment with this question!  Well, it worked!  You are marvelous, D!

D: A? A, are you taking notes?

A: Seriously?! I’m sorry, Mike. That was unnecessary, and you’re a dear for answering him.

M: And thanks so much, D and Katie, for taking the time to interview me and for asking such great questions!  I really appreciate it!

D: And so concludes my first entirely self-directed interview. My sincere thank you to Mike for not only agreeing to be interviewed, but for writing such a captivating book.

Read more about The Eye-Dancers, including purchasing information. You won’t regret it.

Scrapbook Party

D: What is this thing you call a “scrapbook party,” A?

A: Just like it sounds, D. It’s a party across Blogland.

D: . . . Sometimes I don’t believe you speak English.

A: It isn’t your first language either, D, but you don’t see me complaining.

D: . . .

A: Fine. The scrapbook party is an interview with Scrapbook Muse by Briana Vedsted.

D: Oh, Briana is involved? Well, then never mind. Carry on.

A: One of these days, D . . . one of these days.

Anyway, let the Party begin:

100_6585So, what is “scrapbooking”?

Simply put, scrapbooking is putting beautiful, fun paper, photos, and memorabilia together to tell a story.Think of it as enhancing your photos.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  What if you don’t know what those words are.  Scrapbooking allows you to remember all the stories, jokes, heartfelt moments, and everyday life, and share the memories with family and friends.  Imagine looking at a photo from someone else’s life.  The photo by itself may give you some hints.  Now if the photo were scrapbooked, the story behind the photo would also become clear.  Scrapbooking is a fun way to share and remember your story for years to come.

And what in the world is Memory Works?

I like to call Memory Works the Mary Kay of the scrapbooking world.   Memory Works carries scrapbooking products from all the big names (Fancy Pants, Pink Paislee and BoBunny, to name a few), as well as their own line called Simple Stories.  Memory Works also offers a monthly kit subscription for $29.95 (plus shipping, handling, and sales tax).  Each themed kit is packed with coordinated papers and embellishments from different brand name companies.

In addition, Memory Works offers a Hostess Incentive.  This is a free gift to the party hostess can earn if the party results in an order of $150.00 (before tax).  I like to offer this as well if there is either a single order from a customer of $150, or if there is a group of customers, though not necessarily at a party, that order enough supplies to meet to required minimum.  The incentive changes every month and can be anything scrapbooking related, from a collection of patterned papers to a stamp set to a few specific items from a brand name collection.  

Is scrapbooking hard to do?

Scrapbooking should be fun, so no, it’s not hard to do.  If you find you’re having difficulty, take a step back.  See where you’re getting stuck.  Are you trying to re-create a technique or layout and it’s not coming together?  Do you not understand the terminology?  Take me for example.  I know thismuch about knitting and crocheting.  Now I know the terms knit and perl.  Did I spell them right?  No idea.  Can I tell you what they mean?  Nope, sorry.  I learned a lot of the terms from magazines and websites.  And for me, it clicked.  I kept wanting more and more.  So it shouldn’t be hard.  Again, if you’re running into trouble, try to pinpoint what exactly is giving you pause.  Sometimes you need clarification, or to just tell yourself there are no mistakes.  I really enjoy it and I’m always learning something new, so there’s no limit to what you can create.  I’ve found if you love it, you stick with it and your style evolves from there.

Do you have some examples of what scrapbooking is?

Absolutely.  These are some recent layouts (a layout is 1-2 scrapbook pages).  I have lots more on my blog with close up detail photos and info on supplies and techniques I used.

100_6944Can someone teach me how to scrapbook?

Absolutely, there’s lots of options.  Now, I must confess, I learned by doing.  I never took a class, nor did I know anyone else who scrapbooked.  Heck, I had just learned about it myself.  So I went to my nearest bookstore and bought some scrapbooking magazines.  Then after reading them and devouring them (figuratively speaking, of course), I went to my local craft store and bought some supplies (careful, this hobby is addicting!  in a good way :D).  And I started scrapping!.

However, if my journey sounds scary, you can take a class.  These can be offered anywhere from a religious/spiritual center, your local craft store (big box and small business), library, school, historical society.  If you know someone who is a scrapbooker (the majority of which are women, but there are some VERY talented men out there), you can ask them to teach a class, or just teach you!  There are also numerous blogs online whose author post videos for certain techniques, etc.  And, being in the age of YouTube, there are blogs, magazines, and individual people who have a channel which you can view and/or subscribe to.  One benefit to individual scrapbookers is that they teach techniques that you may not otherwise comes across.  And they give you lots of inspiration and ideas.

Where can I get scrapbooking supplies?

In a sense, anywhere.  However, just because you CAN get it anywhere doesn’t mean you SHOULD.  Office supplies, arts and crafts stores, big chain stores, and local scrapbooking/stamping stores; all of them carry supplies.  I’ve actually found that the big box crafts stores by me do carry some of what I need, but not most of what I’m looking for.  You can also go the online route, which opens up the possibilities tremendously.

Big box general retailers are limited in what they carry because they’re general retailers.  So, see what they carry, check the prices, and think if you’ll actually use it.  Don’t get lured by the clearance sticker of half off and pay $5 for a border punch that you’ll never use.   This is why if you can, purchase your supplies from a crafts store, a scrapbooking store if possible.  If you live out in the middle of nowhere, so to speak, your best options are probably online shopping or a consultant for a scrapbooking supplies company (yes, shameless self-promotion, I had to do a little :P)

100_7631I live in the United States, do you know anyone who I could send my pictures to for them to design a scrapbook for me, because I’m just to busy to do it myself right now.

Why, yes I do *wink, wink.*  I am happy to design a scrapbook, mini album, etc. for you.  My prices are simple and really reasonable.  I do not want any screaming wallets, thank you 😛  You can look at my blog, myscrapmuseis.wordpress.com, to check out my prices, and e-mail me at tracy . carrig @ gmail . com to get the whole party started (just delete the spaces before hitting send)!

What is your favorite thing to make?

So far, layouts, either one of two pages.  I just finished a two-page layout for my little person’s first birthday.  I’ve start making cards, which I sell on my Etsy shop, called ScrapMusings.  And I’m starting to get into altered art, mixed media, and mini albums.  I’m loving getting messy, and I love layers.

 

I want to find out more about this art called scrapbooking! Show me more! Are you online? Twitter? Facebook? Pinterest? Got a blog?

100_8376 - EditedYes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.  Here’s my stuff:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScrapMuse (ScrapMuse)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Scrap-Musings/141917992518574  (or search for Tracy Carrig (you should see a pic of me and my munchkin))

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ScrapbookMuse/boards/ (or look up Tracy Carrig / ScrapbookMuse, or you can just find me from Briana’s page ;P)

Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ScrapMusings (shop name: ScrapMusings)

Blog: myscrapmuseis.wordpress.com

Thanks to Briana for setting this up and hosting my interview.  And thank you to everyone else who hosts and/or reads my interview.  I hope to see and talk to you all soon!  Happy scrapping!