My books arrived!

The three hard cover copies I ordered to give my kids and my nephew for Christmas arrived yesterday, well in time for Christmas.  So pleased.  The quality is amazing, and it’s an incredible feeling holding it in my hands as an actual book!

The illustrations my mother and son did look really great.

It’s for sale on Blurb if anyone is interested.  Because it’s printed to order, it’s quite expensive, so I haven’t added a profit for me.  That means I don’t make any money off it, which is fine, that was never the intention anyway.  If anyone buys one and they or their child enjoys it, that’s the main thing.

 

Grand & Epic Adventures

Guess what! Okay, you’ll never guess. I’m so excited though. This is big news. HUGE! *Laugh*

Today, I finally finished writing Grand & Epic Adventures, the novel I started in 2012 for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). *Shock*

It’s taken me FIVE YEARS, but I finally finished it!

Mum has done some amazing illustrations for it, and so has my son, and I’m going to submit it to Blurb for printing before their sale ends on Wednesday. If it arrives in time (fingers crossed!), my kids and my nephew will finally get to read it on Christmas Day.

I can’t believe I’ve actually finished it! Five years! Ha ha! I’m almost giddy. I was busy writing the last chapter today while my mum and son were working on the drawings, and I’ve just finished it. Squee! I did it!

It’s nine chapters, plus two bonus ‘prequel’ short stories that I wrote for a NaNoWriMo prep challenge on Writing.com in 2012 that I’m going to include. The nine chapters are 33,827 words, and the short stories are 834 and 549 words, so 35,210 words in total. I think that’s within the realm of normal for a chapter book aimed at (gifted) 11-13 year old children.

Of course, my son is now 16 (oops!) but better late than never, right? *Laugh*

Anyway, I’m so happy. Partly because I can’t believe I actually finished a project for once. *Rolleyes* *Smirk2*

PS. I’ll try to share the illustrations soon. They’re awesome, you’ll love them!

An interview with author Phil Taylor

Do you think humour differs significantly between countries or cultural groups?
There are definitely differences. The Americans are much funnier than the Brits. No, I’m just kidding. I love my blogging friends from the U.K. and I laugh at their posts all the time. I don’t know if the differences between cultures or countries are significant, but I think there are some. I like the differences though because they teach me different ways to use humour in my writing.

Are there niche humour groups, and if so, which one do you belong to?
I’m sure there are niche humour groups, but I don’t pretend to know them all. I’m sure that if you Google some stuff that you don’t want in your search history you can find some very niche humour groups. If I do belong to a niche group, I think it’s deadpan sarcasm.

You’ve been blogging since 2005. How has your blog changed over time?
My blog has definitely changed over time. For instance, now sometimes people read it. I’m more structured now and I definitely put more time and effort into it as my audience has grown larger. When my blog was in its first few years, I definitely took more chances with my humour and what I posted more closely approximated my humour in real life. Now I try to write for a broader audience.

How much do you consider your audience when creating posts? Do you write for the audience, or for yourself?
First and foremost, I write for myself. I write what I enjoy. For my audience, I try to write to make people laugh. When there is a big headline tragedy in the world I try to write something funny completely unrelated, so that, if even for a few minutes, it takes people’s minds away.

Are there rules for blogging? Should there be?
Yes. Rule #1, if you’re reading this, you must subscribe to my blog. Other than that, I don’t believe there should be rules. In general, I don’t think that rules are necessary. The blogging world is a very Darwinism kind of place. If people don’t like your blog content, they won’t read it.

Other than those in the comedy genre, what kind of blogs and books do you enjoy reading?
I like horror and suspense. Stephen King and Dean Koontz are two of my favorites. I also like sociology based books like those written by Malcolm Gladwell.

What did you do to celebrate the release of your first book, White Picket Prisons?
White Picket Prisons by [Taylor, Phil]
I didn’t really do anything. To be honest, everyday felt like a celebration because people I knew and strangers from all over the world were contacting me by social media and telling me that they enjoyed my book. That’s the best part of any book for me, not the writing or creating, but just talking with people.

Has the writing process changed significantly between your first book and your most recent one?
Absolutely! When I wrote the first book I imagined it as a stand-alone and I didn’t know if I’d ever write another. Now, when I imagine a story, I think about all the possibilities going forward not only for the story I’m writing but for the characters after the current story.

Tell us about your latest work, Time to Lie.
Time to Lie (Landon Bridges' Story Book 1) by [Taylor, Phil]
Time to Lie is a new twist on the time travel genre, not only in how the time travel is accomplished but how Landon decides to use it. Also, the time travel isn’t the star of the story. Landon’s growth as a person is actually the story.

“Landon, c’mon! Hurry up!”
Idiots, I said to myself. I slammed the door behind me and ran. My footsteps pounding down the hallway echoed off the aged tile floors and painted cinder block. Without slowing down, I pushed open the swinging door at the end of the corridor with my outstretched hands. I didn’t worry about anyone’s safety – just barreled through the door, banging it against the wall. My feet skittered a little as I tried to turn on a dime. When I faced the elevator, my eyes met hers for just a split second before the doors closed, severing our all-too-brief gaze. Maybe it was my imagination, but I swear I saw her pupils begin to dilate and the corner of her mouth turn upward before the spell was broken. I stood there, breathing heavily. Somewhere – I think it was Twitter – I read, the first kiss is not with the lips, but with the eyes. If that was the case, I was pretty sure my eyes just tried to make out with her, with tongue.
Time to Lie by Phil Taylor

The new book is noted as ‘Landon Bridges’ Story Book 1′ – how many books do you envisage the series being?
I haven’t envisioned an end point to the story. The medium of time travel opens up a lot of possibilities. As long as people enjoy Landon and his friends, I’ll keep writing more stories.

What made you decide to mix horror with humour?
I flipped a coin and it came up heads for humour. No, just kidding. It wasn’t a decision to mix in humour. Humour is part of who I am and I don’t think I could write about anything without mixing in humour. I wrote Landon as a character I would be friends with if I knew him in real life.

Have you got a bottle of something special set aside for when you receive the call about the Thurber Prize?
Aaah! The Thurber Prize! That would be the ultimate. Forget the Pulitzer, I want the Thurber Prize for American Humor. I haven’t planned the celebration yet. I’ll do that when I get nominated. Trust me, it will be a big celebration involving a champagne, a ballroom in New York City, all my blog subscribers, The Rock, and a fair amount of exotic animals.

You can find out more about Phil at these sites:
The Phil Factor
Amazon
Facebook
Twitter

A novel present

It’s September, and I am making plans for Christmas.  Ha ha!  Yeah, that’s pretty typical of me.  I’m the kind of person who buys gifts throughout the year to spread the cost and take advantage of sales.  My children’s birthdays are in the middle of the year, so the first half of the year I buy birthday presents and the second half of the year I buy Christmas presents.

This year we’re not buying Christmas presents.  We’re saving to go overseas next year for my sister’s wedding, so if they do get anything, it’s going to be passports.  And next year for their birthdays they’ll get plane tickets.  Which is more than enough, right?  But Christmas is a big deal in our family, and I have an idea…

In 2012 I did National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where you’re challenged to write a 50,000 word novel in a single month.  It was madness, but I managed to write 30,000 words of a children’s fantasy novel.  It stars my children, my nephew and my godchildren, and a variety of mythical creatures.  The plan was to write a story that would challenge my children’s reading abilities while still being appropriate for their age and maturity.  See, my kids are both ‘gifted’, particularly in English, and both have reading levels well in advance of their peers.  This made it hard to find books that were at or slightly above their reading level but not too advanced in subject matter (such as sex or violence).  So my plan was to write something that used big words, was educational to an extent (my son was obsessed with mythical creatures at the time), but didn’t contain any material that wasn’t suitable for their level of maturity.

I intended to give it to my kids as a gift, but I never finished it.  Each year I’d remember about it, but I’d procrastinate and not get it done.  The kids in the story are 11 and 7 years old, and my kids are now 16 and 12. *Facepalm* Still, I want to finish it, and the sooner I give it to them, the better. I mean, better at 16 and 12 than 32 and 28, right? *Laugh*

I’m going to handwrite the story into journals, one each for my kids and my nephew.  See, the story centers around a handwritten journal, so it seems apt. To encourage me to stop procrastinating, on Friday I bought three journals.

img_0861

I think they’ll make neat Christmas presents.  Can you tell which one is for my daughter?  Ha ha!

I’ve written eight chapters so far (on the computer), but in the story the kids are trying to work out how many more adventures they can go on before the journal is full.  So I think I should handwrite in the completed chapters and adapt the story so that it ends at the end of the journal.  The worst thing would be if it was half a dozen pages too long for a single journal!

So yep, that’s what I’m working on at the moment. The first chapter is about a taniwha, which is a dragon unique to New Zealand where we live.

An interview with author Alice J Black

Alice lives and works in the North East of England with her partner and slightly ferocious cats! Alice has always enjoyed writing from being a child when she used to carry notebooks and write stories no matter where she went. She would be the girl in the corner scribbling away while everything went on around her. She writes all manner of fiction with a tendency to lean towards the dark side. Dreams and sleep-talking are currently a big source of inspiration and her debut novel, The Doors, is a young adult novel which originally came from a dream several years ago. Several of her short stories have been included in anthologies and she is always working on more. When she’s not writing, she always has a book in her hand and will read from whatever genre suits her that day.

What are the challenges of writing in the ‘new adult’ genre?
Most of the writing I do is focused on the YA genre however, I have written several horror novels and a series of novellas based on a young woman struggling with alcoholism. For me the biggest difference between them is that I tend to write YA ‘clean’ and when I do write new adult, I don’t tend to censor as much.

Your debut novel released in 2014. How did you feel? Did anything change for you?
Having The Doors published was like a dream. Some days it still feels surreal that my novel is out there and that other people can read it! It did change for me, in a way, because I really started believing in myself, believing that somebody wanted to read it. Knowing that somebody had taken the time to not only read my work but say that they wanted it was like a dream come true. I was on cloud nine!

Since your first publication, do you now feel pressure to produce more publishable work?
I guess I do in some ways. Yet at the same time, the things that I have been working on came to me quite naturally so I don’t feel like it has been a huge slog to continue writing. I’m enjoying what I do and that was my aim, first and foremost.

Tell us a little about your journey to becoming a published author.
I have always been a writer. For as long as I can remember I was writing stories and doodling and asking people to read them. I remember writing a short story in my first school about an alien from another planet who ate food through his hand. Someone told me that ‘aliens can’t do that’ and I decided then, that yes they could! I’ve grown up with both reading and writing and so when I found writing.com (which used to be stories.com) I found a home away from home. A strong, online community of writers who didn’t look at me like a little girl with a notebook but who took me seriously and offered support and critique. Without finding my way there, I don’t think I ever would have got to where I am today.

Becoming published has always been a dream, but one that seemed completely unachievable but for me, when people started reading my work and helping me hone my craft, I knew I was producing something special, something different, and hopefully something that somebody else wanted to read.

I sent The Doors, my first novel, to one publisher who seemed to like it but then never got back to me. I sent it to another. Fire & Ice accepted it. I couldn’t believe how lucky I’d been and I feel like I managed to find the right person at the right time.

On their second night in the house, her mum cooked in the kitchen while Amanda laid the table for their meal. It was an alien process to her, something they’d never done back home. They always used to have their meals in front of the TV, out of their laps—TV dinners her dad had called them. She just thought it was cosy. Mostly, they did it because there wasn’t room for a dining table in their old house, but here, there was more than enough room and she couldn’t avoid having a more formal meal setup.
She glanced over at the mosaic doors that were the focal point of the room. They were a pair of double doors standing six feet high at least. Across their surface was a motif; tiny little tiles all shaped and placed together in a bizarre picture. It portrayed a man in his small fishing boat, angling in the rough, dark sea for whatever catch he could find. The sky was dark, overcast with thick clouds. Here and there, a patch of pale blue shone through, but to no avail for the lonely man. At the bottom of the picture there was land, a rocky shoreline of great big boulders, grey and covered in moss and seaweed. Below that, a grassy verge.
Stepping closer, she wanted to reach out and touch the tiles, but at the same time feeling a pang of revulsion. Silence reigned and as she stood there before the doors, the only sound she could hear was the pulse racing through her veins. Her hand, moving as if it had a mind of its own, pushed forward until her fingers finally came to rest on the tiles, cold and smooth. At that moment, her dad walked into the room. He froze as he glanced at the doors, then at his daughter.
Stepping forward he grabbed her wrist and wrenched it away. “Amanda, don’t you go near those doors,” he told her. He gripped her arm a little too tightly, the flesh beneath his fingers white. She pulled her arm free in shock, staring at him. For a moment they stood there in silence. She’d never seen her dad act in such a way. He was usually the more placid type. “They’re old and probably worth a lot of money,” he added as if in explanation.
The Doors, by Alice J Black

 

What made you decide to write/publish under a pseudonym?
I decided to write under a pseudoname as I wanted to keep my day job and writing separate so I could enjoy it to its fullest extent.

Do you have a writing routine or do you online write/edit when you’re inspired?
I try to write or edit every day, depending on what is going on. Recently my whole schedule has been taken up with editing. I’m loving getting my teeth stuck into future works to be released! I’m an early bird so I prefer writing first thing in the morning as long as my work shifts allow and love curling up in front of my laptop surrounded by my papers and pens!

Do you work with or utilise many other professionals, eg. editors, publishers, cover artists, etc.?
Occasionally. But most of the work I’ve had published has been through small presses so it tends to be organised by them.

How much do you work on your social presence? Do you feel like an online presence is a necessary part of marketing your book?
Not as much as I should! I think having an online presence is important but I struggle with self-promotion a little. I don’t want to feel that I’m clogging up feeds with images of my books etc, but I do know that having that online presence and showing myself to the world probably helps a lot. I’m trying to get involved in a few more things currently like doing interviews, taking part in giveaways and promotions. I’ll run a party when my next novel is released too.

What’s the latest thing you had published?
The latest thing I had published was Home Improvements, a co-written novella with David Owain Hughes which is about big bugs!

Home Improvements by [Black, Alice J., Hughes, David Owain]

What are you working on now?
Now I’m currently working on the edits for the first novel in the Demon Hunter series, A Shadowed Beginning. It is being released by Fire & Ice this autumn (date to be decided) and six more will follow! The series is a YA collection based on Ruby Dawson and is not one to be missed.

I’m also working on edits on a series of novellas which has been picked up by The Parliament House. If you like the supernatural, you’ll want to check these quick reads out!

You can follow Alice on Facebook, on Twitter and on WordPress.

An interview with author Rachel Peck

How long have you been writing?
I used to write stories as a child. I was a huge Enid Blyton fan, so most of them involved boarding schools and solving mysteries. I never took it seriously, though. When I was thirteen, I received a journal as a Christmas present, and I started journaling daily. I continued until I was in my early twenties, amassing over fifty volumes! As a teenager, I wrote a lot of angsty poetry. I never thought it was any good, though. I never shared it with anybody. I had a long gap after that, when it didn’t occur to me to write. Life kind of got in the way. Then, two years ago, my husband suggested I join an online writing group, and now I spend most of my time writing. When I spend time away from my computer for a long period of time, I actually feel twitchy. I write on my phone’s notepad, or in one of the many paper notebooks I carry with me. I don’t think I could ever go back to not writing again.

What genres do you write in? Do you have a favourite?
I was thinking about this question a couple of days ago. I don’t know the answer. I guess, literary fiction, mainly. I say that because a lot of my stories don’t fit into one specific category. They are stories about people. Real people, going through things that real people go through. I write with a lot of emotion, and I love to put my characters through the ringer. Seeing them survive and evolve is something I find really interesting. My stories always begin with a character, rather than a detailed plot.

I discovered, only recently, I can write non-fiction. Writing, with honesty, about the darkest (and lightest) parts of your life can be therapeutic. It is my ambition to write my memoirs, one day.

My poetry is free verse and, like my stories, packed full of emotion. I guess I’m still writing a lot of angst-ridden poems, if I’m honest. I’ve written my life story through poetry.

Letting Go

I sit next to the
sterile hospital bed and
wonder how she got this ill—
how I never noticed—
I was supposed to look after her.
I watch as the angry mask
furiously forces air into her lungs,
her body slamming into the bed
with every blast.
I hold her lifeless hand
and trace the misshapen
fingers and thumbs;
memories cascade before my eyes, and
I am a grown-up child,
five years old, taking care of my mum,
my precious responsibility,
but I was selfish,
all I wanted was a mum
who could play with me,
run with me,
lift me,
hold me.
None of that matters now,
I just want a mum who can hear me,
speak to me,
but I know I’ll never have that again,
so I turn to the doctor and
nod,
and the mask is removed,
the machines switched off.
I’m terrified as I watch her breaths,
almost imperceptible,
gradually fade to nothing;
she is still,
pain free,
and I am broken.
I look to her face,
in her very last breath
she has smiled,
and I know she has seen my dad—
the love of her life—
they are reunited in death,
and this comforts my shattered
heart.

Rachel Peck

Are there any genres you’re afraid to try, or struggle to write in?
A couple of years ago, I would have said Sci Fi, Fantasy, or Steampunk. I don’t read these genres, and I don’t understand them well enough to write about them. But, now that I have more confidence, there is nothing I wouldn’t try. I think it makes it interesting to try something new, sometimes. I’m sure if I did try to write in these genres, I would still turn my story into one about intriguing characters and their lives.

Do you read in the same genres that you write in?
I don’t read much literary fiction. I do read books with great characters. I also love psychological thrillers. Grip-Lit, your “Girl On A Train” kind of style. I like to read a wide variety of genres. I think it widens your imagination.

You write both poems and stories. Do you have a preference? Which do you consider your strength?
My poetry is more personal. It’s less polished, more raw. I think, poems have always been something I write when I have things I need to work out. They’re written for me, rather than for my readers. Stories are what I want to write more now. Specifically, the novel I’m working on. I think I write stories better than I write poetry. I’ve learned more about writing them over the last couple of years. Although, when my poetry is spot on, it’s pretty good.

The charity shop doorway looked inviting to Charlie. Walking the streets for hours, trying to stay away from J.T., had made his body heavy and in need of rest. His backpack hit the floor with a thud, startling the bundle of clothes lying next to it.

“You don’t mind if I grab this doorway, do you?” He pulled his lips into his most dazzling smile.

Donna was so young. It saddened him when he imagined the things that led to her thinking sleeping here was her best option.

“Knock yourself out.” Her smile had become sharper around the edges since they first met.

Springtime hung in the air, with its warmer weather finally reaching the streets. Even so, Charlie shivered, as he sat with his back against the door. He hugged his knees, and his eyes darted from side to side. He knew J.T. was out there watching him.

Screams drifted through the air, signalling the coming of Crazy Sue. She staggered between bodies, displaying a strange mixture of crying and guffawing. There were stories she ended up sleeping rough because her husband died and she lost her job. There were stories that back then she really wasn’t that crazy. Charlie knitted his brow as he contemplated how pretty she might once have been.

A whimpering sound drew his attention. He looked to Donna, who quivered and cried. Reaching out his hand and resting it on her back, he spoke in hushed tones. “Hey. What’s up?”

His friend gulped air, in an effort to breathe. “It’s C-Crazy S-Sue. She’s gonna k-kill me.”

The laugh had escaped his mouth before he could stop it. “Crazy Sue’s harmless. Why would you think she’ll hurt you?”

“I lay my stuff down in her spot earlier. She said if she saw me again she’d kill me.”

As the frightened girl buried her head in her blanket, Charlie shuffled closer to her. “Donna. It’s okay. Crazy Sue is . . . well . . . crazy. She shouts and screams at everyone. But she forgets all about it five minutes later. Honest.”

Donna peeked at him from under her blanket. “Really?” she whispered.

Holding her eye contact for longer than he normally managed, he nodded. “Really. You don’t need to be afraid of her.” He was tempted to add, “But J.T., well, there is someone you should avoid at all costs.” But it wouldn’t have made any difference. It never did.

Charlie’s Story by Rachel Peck

Do you listen to music when you write? Do you have a favourite ‘soundtrack’ to write to?
I always listen to music when I write. There is no specific soundtrack. I hit random shuffle on my iPod. I have to skip certain songs, as they can be really distracting (like, you cannot write whilst listening to “Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees!). I love music. I listen to it all day long.

Do you have a favourite author? Or perhaps an author you view as an inspiration?
Yes. Marian Keyes. I love her. I first discovered her in about 1997. I was in a bookshop, and I spotted a book with a bright red cover with a pair of lime-green mules on it. It was like a siren, and I made my way over to it. When I saw the title—“Rachel’s Holiday”—I believe I yelped with delight. It was like it was made for me. I bought it, without reading what it was about. As it happened, I fell in love. Marian Keyes writes books about characters. She writes about the darker side of life, with topics such as drug addiction, depression, domestic abuse. But she also writes with humour and oodles of warmth. Her natural storytelling style has me laughing on one page, then weeping on the next. I would love, in my wildest dreams, to be able to write as well as her.

Tell us about something you read that was particularly memorable, for whatever reason.
About three years ago, I came across a book called “The Shock Of The Fall” by Nathan Filer. He was a new author to me, but I saw him speaking on TV about this book, and I had to look it up. It’s about a young man with paranoid schizophrenia, and about his past and his illness. I read it in one sitting, and I wept and felt my heart twist and turn. At the end, I felt like I’d gone through a bereavement or something. But, I realised I could write a story like that. I mean, I didn’t imagine it could be anywhere near as good, but it gave me the idea to start writing again. I had a story to tell. Maybe I could do it. Reading this book was kind of a turning point for me.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
My best ideas are always based on my experiences. I change them, play with them, but ultimately, they have events that are part of me at their heart. I also have a tendency to dream vivid, wild dreams. Pretty much every night. So I write them down and draw on those when I’m looking for an idea. Really, though, ideas are everywhere. Wherever I go, I see people who look interesting and imagine their life stories. I spend a lot of time inside my head. I think it comes from being an only child.

Do you think negative experiences are crucial in order to be a good writer? Do you find it harder to write well when it’s a positive experience?
For me, I wouldn’t be the writer I am without my negative experiences. Especially, where my poetry is concerned. I write so much better when I’m feeling unhappy. I always have. My negative life experiences are probably the reason my writing leans toward being emotional. For me, experiencing pain makes me more understanding of how it works. For example, I don’t think anyone who has never experienced the darkness of deep depression can really understand it. They can read about it and understand it on a logical level, but they won’t feel the emotional connection to it. I think that comes across in writing.

With regards to positive experiences . . . I find it much harder to write happy. It is good to do this from time to time, though. Like, sometimes I have an idea for something light and fun, and it feels good to write something happier.

Do you think that as an author you write better when you pour the emotion on to the page, or when you take a step back and refine your work?
Without question, pouring emotion onto the page is what works for me. I always get better feedback for my pieces that are from the heart. I never would have believed it could make such a difference, but it does. It comes back to that question of having a connection to your work. However, that isn’t saying I don’t edit my work. The first draft is pure emotion, and from there, I make it more cohesive and shareable. That’s an important part of the process.

What has been the hardest thing for you so far on your writing journey?
The hardest thing has been, without question, believing in myself. It’s hard to be objective about my work because, no matter how hard I try, whenever I read it, I hear my own voice. So it doesn’t sound very special. But, I’ve chosen to accept that my voice is okay. One thing I’ve learned over the last two years is that most writers also have doubts. It actually makes us better writers. We can harvest that insecurity and turn it into magic.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve received so much advice in the past couple of years. I’ve learned to always listen to advice, even when it’s tough. The best piece, though . . . probably to write about what you know. I didn’t believe it at first. When I did, my writing improved.

What is your purpose in writing? Do you aspire to be published?
When I stared writing, it was mostly about exorcising demons and validating my feelings. I never dreamed I could be good enough to publish. I never dreamed I would one day want to try. But, now, things have changed. I would love to be published one day. I have a novel I’m working on at the moment that is everything I’ve ever wanted to write about. It’s in the formative stages right now, but the feedback I’ve received on what I have written has blown me away. So, this book has to be published. That’s my dream. After that, my memoirs. This last year, I’ve had two poems and a story published. One of my poems is in www.threelinepoetry.com. The other poem and the story are in the WDC 2016 Anthology. I can’t tell you the thrill of that! Really, though, I just want to write. Every day; forever. That will make me happy.

How do you drawn the line between truth and privacy when it comes to publishing a memoir?
This is a tough one. Writing about people who are still living is difficult, and I wouldn’t write about anyone without first getting their permission. I know the trouble that can cause. I have a distant relation who published a book on my mother’s family. She had so many facts that were incorrect. For example, she made two of Mum’s brothers twins, when they aren’t. She also said one of her sisters was dead, when she isn’t. So, getting your facts right is imperative. Like I say, I wouldn’t write about living people without asking their permission. I know most of them would be happy. People who have died, I would say that as long as you don’t lie, some people may not like it, but they are probably people who aren’t that close to you in the first place. I think honesty is the key. Whenever you write about real people and your own take on events, you run the risk of upsetting others. You have to be prepared for that, if you want to write about true events.

How will you format your memoir? Will it be told as a story, as a sort of ‘letter to the reader’ or will you use excerpts from your journal entries?
I’ve thought about this a lot. I don’t want it to be a long narrative that moves linearly from event to event. I plan to write about certain events and certain time periods in an order that makes sense to me as I’m writing. I think chapters, covering events or time periods would make sense. Some of them short, some longer. Including some journal entries is a great way to show how it felt to be me at different times. So that’s something I will probably include.

Will you include photos, letters, etc. in your memoir? I love books that do that!
Yes! I love books that include that, too. I’ll probably have some photos dotted throughout the book, rather than a section with tons of pictures. But I will definitely include some.

Will you self publish your novel and memoirs or try traditional publishing?
Ideally, I would love to have them published the traditional way. I think most writers would probably say that. However, this is the real world and there’s a lot of competition out there. So, self publishing may be the way to go. Initially, at least. I can always hope I get noticed somehow.

You can read more of Rachel’s work at her Writing.com portfolio.

An interview with author T R Byron

You blog, you write short stories, you’re a novelist and a poet. Do you have a preference for a particular format? Do you find it hard to switch between them?
I usually have a general idea of where I’m going, but I usually don’t know exactly where the stories will take me. Blogging is a stress reliever for me. As for poetry, that is my biggest struggle. Staying structured makes me a little crazy.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was in grade school. I came across a few books I wrote as a child. They are horrible! But you could tell that I had a knack for putting stories together. I was in my late twenties when I really started writing novels and short stories. My first novel I wrote in twenty-four hours. I couldn’t sleep, the story wouldn’t let me get any rest until I had it all written down. That one book turned into a four book series. This was during my VC Andrews phase and that series really shows it.

What has been the hardest thing for you so far on your writing journey?
Probably believing in myself, in work, that it is good enough. Aside from the common issues with grammar and missing words, I tend to be a perfectionist, and am constantly editing trying to make it better.

What genres do you write in? Do you have a favourite?
Romance and erotica mostly. I love flawed characters with heart. If I had to choose, it would definitely be Romance.

Do you ever find it hard to admit that you write erotica, or to let close friends/family read your erotica?
Definitely. Most people think erotica is porn and cannot see the difference. They focus on the sex and nothing more. And then, of course, there’s that little flash I will see in their eyes where some people wonder if I’m just a tramp. If you write about it so openly, then you must be doing something dirty. What they fail to see is sex is as natural as breathing. If feel that if I’m going to write about love and romance, it’s a natural progression, and leaving the intimacy out downplays its importance.

So, can you explain the difference between porn and erotica, when it comes to writing/reading?
I see porn as having no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire. Anyone can do that. Plot isn’t required in Pornography, nor is the emotional connection between the main characters. The characters usually don’t grow emotionally, stay together, or even in some instances like one another. Readers of porn want to read about sex, plain and simple. Pornography’s concentration lays in the physical activity between the characters. You won’t find a happily-ever-after here, but do expect a wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Don’t assume the word choices will be nice or sensual either. They won’t be. They can get rather crude, distasteful and cringe-worthy, which all depends on your preference of what you want and prefer

The driving force behind Erotica is exploring a character’s sexual discovery. I see it as a romance. Sex is the common link between Erotica and Romance, but the outcome of the story can be completely different. Erotica can easily leave the door open to the characters staying together, or going their separate ways, while in romance the couple must come together by the end of the book. All Romances have a hero and heroine that strive to be together no matter what, the reader expects to root for both, and to have the happy conclusion. What set Romance and Erotica apart are the details in the sex scenes itself. My erotic scenes fall in the middle of Romance and Porn. The most important thing to me is making that emotional connection between my characters and reader, and letting my readers enjoy the journey with them as well.

Are there any difficulties particular to writing erotica? For instance, I find it hard to write erotica in first person because I end up feeling like I’m writing about my own experiences even if I’m not!
I’m like you there and usually write in third person. It allows me to step outside and visual the scene more clearly in my head as I write from my characters point of view. The most difficult for me was my first erotica novel, Distracting Duncan. I had this one character who used women, loved prostitutes and used his status to the fullest. I had to write a scene where he gets physical with the prostitute, and I struggled for weeks to write that one scene. I had to keep stepping away, but when I finally completed it, it made me hate that character, and that was the emotion I really needed my reader to hone in on.

Are there any genres you’re afraid to try, or struggle to write in?
I try to put a little comedy in my stories. I love to laugh. I don’t think I could write a real tale of horror.

Do you read in the same genres that you write in?
Yes. I am always looking for a good romance to read.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
People inspire me. I like getting to know people, what makes them tick, those little things that make them smile. I get my ideas everywhere. I find myself watching television or movies and thinking, I wouldn’t have written it that way. I love good dialogue, and will often write certain phrases in a notebook to use for my characters.

Do you have a favourite author? Or perhaps an author you view as an inspiration?
I’ve read everything by VC Andrews and that is what really started me on my writing path. I am a huge fan of Linda Lael Miller and Maggie Shayne. Miller has great romances, a lot of them centered around cowboys. Maggie Shayne does supernatural. I like that even her darker characters have some endearing qualities.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Slow down and visualize the scene. In the beginning, I had a tendency to rush through just to get the story out. When I came to Writing.com, that’s when I really learned to slow the scene and work on painting a picture so the reader could catch a glimpse of what was happening.

What is your purpose in writing? Do you aspire to be published?
Being published is the dream. I even went so far as to pay $1500 for an editor who was supposed to shop my book around. After a year, and minimal editing, they sent my manuscript back. It was a good lesson. I’ve tried for years to find an agent, sending in manuscripts. Finally, last year, I decided to put my books out there on CreateSpace. Mostly family bought them, but I’ll never forget seeing my book in print.

What’s your favourite piece of your own writing?
My novel, A Perfect Fit. My main character has a lot of me in her. I think she’s the stronger, more outgoing version of me.

Anna flew out of the Boutique on cloud nine, ready to burst. In her excitement, she plowed right into someone on the street. Their hard figure was as unmovable as a brick wall. Her eyes focused on a chest covered in a light brown T-shirt. The man caught her at the elbow, preventing her from stumbling to the ground. When she looked up into his face, her knees almost buckled and her heart pounded at an erratic pace. Those eyes she knew so well looked down at her, and Nolan smiled for a change.

“Where’s the fire?”

Anna swallowed the hard lump in her throat. The mere sight of him, mixed with the feel of those strong hands holding onto her sent her pulse racing as she fought for control.

“Sorry. Guess I didn’t see you.” She couldn’t let that smile and those intoxicating dark eyes deceive her again. She refused to let him into her heart so he could take advantage of her emotions, not to mention her eager body. Their eyes met and locked, making Anna powerless to look away, even though she knew she should.

“That’s obvious. What are you doing in this part of town?” The softness in his eyes disappeared. The coldness returned while he continued to stare at her. One eyebrow lifted as he waited for her to respond. “Checking up on me or you just couldn’t stay away?”

“Try again,” she said taking a step back. Anna steeled her spine and stood tall as irritation flooded her. “If you must know I was offered a job, not that it’s any of your business.” The quick anger thankfully hardened her voice. This man was nothing but trouble, and trouble she didn’t need.

“So you are trying to get close to me, honey,” he said, moving closer.

Again with that word! The endearment rattled her mind and began to break away all her defenses, not that she had many when it came to him. The fact that he presumed she was following him galled her and reinforced Anna’s opinion about his massive ego. He did nothing more than irritate the hell out of her, knew it and enjoyed it.

“I’m not your honey, so don’t say it again. For your information, I don’t spend my days wondering where you are and what you’re doing.”

A Perfect Fit by T R Byron

Do you do anything in particular to promote your published works?
I did start a facebook page, and I had a few giveaways for my books, hoping that I would get some objective reviews from it, but sadly, nothing happened. I find it hard to try and promote myself, and I know I seriously need to look into doing that. I’ve considered donating a few of my books to my local library, but haven’t yet.

Is there a third book in the Endurance series, and when can we expect it to be available?
Books three and four are halfway complete. I started a big edit of Bride 2 Be, the third book in the series, and am hoping to finally finish it by the end of the year so I can complete book four.

You can find the first two books in T R Byron’s Endurance series, A Perfect Fit and Megan’s Man at her Amazon profile.