Interview with Author Craig Saunders

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

I’m actually only three feet tall, but my legs are three feet long, too, so I work out about average in the end. I write all sorts, but horror, mainly. It’s where it’s at, right? I guess I’m a fantasist, and horror lets me make up elaborate fantasies that result in people dying. It’s a good hobby. 

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

Lord of the Rings, hands down. But I started out writing epic fantasy, so I’d say Terry Brooks, David Gemmell, David Eddings…I read all those guys about 20 years or so ago, and because I loved them so much, I thought I could do it. I couldn’t. Not then. I can now, just not fantasy. I’m too lazy for a series. 

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Marketing’s mental these days, with so many choices thrown up by the Kindle revolution. I think marketing gives me far more headaches than writing. Writing’s easy. You just make things up.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

Right, pull up a chair, throw it through the nearest window, because it’s time to escape! Ha, not really. Short and sweet, right?

Rain’s about a guy called John March who discovers he’s the sole beneficiary to a massive will. But when it starts to rain his day ends up far from peachy, and then the dying starts. There’s violence, sex, drugs and swearing in it. Four of your five a day.

Spiggot, from Grand Mal Press, is a comedy. A bit of a diversion from me, but in a good way. Comedy’s far harder than horror. Spiggot’s the lead character, a misanthropic detective working the streets of Norfolk, England. His nemesis, The Egyptian Lady from Stoke, sends Spiggot’s soul by foul means into the body of a mad axe murderer. It’s down to Trout, Spiggot’s gammy eyed partner, to save the day. It’s funny, honest.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

I don’t really do sequels of anything anymore, though I’ll finish my fantasy septology one day…and although I just said that, I’ll probably write a follow up to Spiggot. I love the characters and the concept, and there’s a lot of room for more books. So I said I’d never write a series and I’ve already gone back on my word. I suck. 

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

I write a lot of short stories, so I often pop up in various publications. Trying desperately not to sound like too much of a knob, I always post any successes on my blog, www.petrifiedtank.blogspot.com. Check me out there if you’re interested in any of my other publications.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

I don’t like colours. They smell funny. I like music, though. So, green.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

Music! All the time. Every kind of music imaginable. One of my favourite writers and friends, Ian Woodhead, recently put me onto Industrial Black Metal. I’m going to listen to that later. Though, really, I’m too nice to listen to that kind of stuff. But it’s fun, nonetheless.

Bec: Gore or pants-wetting-fear?

I think there’s a place for both, but really, I like horror with a happy ending. I’m a big softy really. If a horror book’s too scary, too much emotional distress, I’ll put it down. So, I guess I prefer gore, as that’s sweet. I’m a horror writer, OK? I think zombies are cute.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

I like to read and write everything, really, apart from Romance, I guess. I’ve read and written science fiction, comedy, fantasy, horror, literary, crime…I’m pretty eclectic in my tastes. Plus, I think having a broad base is good for learning the craft. Shit, did I just say learning the craft? OK, shoot me.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

Yeah, lonely, but I like being lonely. I’m a lone wolf. Arooo! Really, though, I don’t like talking to people, and I’m pretty shy, so sitting in my study writing suits me just fine.

Bec: Aliens or vampires?

Aliens! Vampires are silly. Although, given a choice, I’d rather *be* a vampire. But for preference, in games, movies, books, I prefer aliens. Aliens, as a general rule, don’t groom teenage girls.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Bugger all! It’s hard enough without more of us! Haha. Not really. My sole advice is this: If you want to be a writer, you have to write. Write a lot. Learn how to do it. Write, write, write. Don’t fart about reading ‘how to write’, ‘so you want to be a writer’, ‘ten greatest tips to writing’. All of that’s just procrastination. Write. Hell, though, what do I know?!

Bec: Fall down or throw up?

I don’t drink, but I’m clumsy, so fall down!

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

Just how damn hard it is to get published, let alone to achieve the dream of a big publishing deal. First off I looked at the whole deal as just learning how to write, but there’s a lot to learn, and a long way to go. Big deals for first time writers are very, very rare. Still, if you’re a writer, you have to write, whether you get published or not. Being a writer isn’t usually something you have a choice about. Maybe you have a choice about being a novelist. But not a writer. It’s a passion, and something you need. It’s not all about the money.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

Nope. It’s important for my sanity, but for me, I learn as I go, and I don’t worry about what other people think. Sounds a bit tosspotty, but at the end of the day you have to be true to the muse and not worry too much what other people think. Though, that said, it’s amazing to have so many writer friends, and without exception my friends are great people. I think writers as a bunch are usually very supportive.

Bec: Severed limbs or nudity?

If you’re talking about how I like my ladies, I’ve had to say nude.  If it’s a choice for myself, nudity. If it’s how I like my books…severed limbs. Sex in books is generally just embarrassing and poorly handled. Hehe. He said handled. So, severed nudity is my answer.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Seriously, that’s a mad hard question. I think Stephen King’s The Stand is my most read. If I’m in the right mood, I like The Lord of the Rings. Favourite series has been, hands down, GRR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. Favourite author for sheer fun and readability – Lee Child. Genius forever award goes to Terry Pratchett. Not really an answer, I know, but there’s just too many amazing books to pick! 

Bec:  What’s your favorite fruit?

I hate fruit, so I’d have to say ‘bacon’. Everything’s better with bacon.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Terry Pratchett, I think, of all the ones I stated above, because he’s so damned intelligent, humane, and his books have a certain beauty about them, aside from his invention and skill as a writer. I love Pratchett, and I’ll be damn sad to see him fade away. 

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

What a lovely question. I love my wife? Not that kind of thing? Erm…yes, there is. I’d like to share this little thought – this is the most fun interview I’ve ever done and you’re wonderful! Haha. Seriously, you’re very good at this interview lark.  Thank you!

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!

Thanks Rebecca. I’ve really enjoyed it, and I appreciate you taking the time to interview me. Thank you a bunch!

©Rebecca Besser & Craig Saunders, 2011. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Interview with Author Scott Lange

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

I am currently working on my Masters in secondary education at Grand Canyon University as part of a future career change. Running is something that I enjoy, although lately I have been slowed by injuries and a steadfast dedication to poor eating habits and hearty drinking… I have the 5 most amazingly wonderful children and very supportive and loving girlfriend, what I do, I can’t do without her.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

That is somewhat of a challenging question to answer, long story, short, I have always loved writing since I was young, through high school and into college…then life happened and, well, I stopped for 20 years until about 3 years ago, I was encouraged by a very close friend to write again and eventually the words began to escape. I’m very thankful for that friend as I discovered a lost part of myself that I greatly enjoy and love to share.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

For me it is the marketing, given the time, writing is easy. But getting your words out there for the world to read is entirely different. Its not like you can just publish a website and say here I am! If that was the case we would all be Stephen Kings or James Pattersons. I think when I got into this I was a little naïve and thought  you  could just put something cool on the internet and like magic it would go viral and next thing I’d be driving a Bentley. But the internet is strange place and people seem to like double rainbows and girls with a cup.  That being said, as a writer, we, us, me all want our voice to heard, although what is truly important, at least to me, is getting the words out of my head and onto paper, and sharing it with those that appreciate them and if that happens to be a small circle of the world that I reach…then I’m happy.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

The Beer Chronicles is a collection of stories that pass through the Paddy Rodriguez Pub. If you could imagine yourself sitting at a bar, looking around, every table, every person would have a story to be told…  I wanted the book to be something that, when read, you can see, feel and taste…one of the main reasons I made the song “Courtney did it!” and the inclusion of the art in the book. The characters of the book find themselves in some dangerous places, either physically or emotionally. These are the darker and very much twisted stories of those people…bad things, unfortunately happen to good people, that is The Beer Chronicles

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

I thought I was working on a sequel for TBC, although it appears to turned into a spin off and will be a stand-alone novel. My intention was to use some stories that didn’t make it, finish some and write new ones. Although it was a story that I was finishing, taking on a life of its own while it will take place in the Paddy Rodriguez universe, will have The Dead Seattle Musicians and have a many, many pints of Jimmies Radical Ale, the story isn’t as twisted in the same vein as the TBC stories, it’s more like Jason Bourne meets Paddy Rodriguez with a generous portion of Oliver Stone and conspiracy theories thrown in. Although, I’m still working on the sequel, I have twisted stuff in the works.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

This is probably my biggest creative challenge, I have too many pots on the fire. Aside from the TBC spin off and sequel, I’m trying to work with The Dead Seattle Musicians(it’s a fictionally real band), putting together an EP based on stories in TBC. I have stretch goals/projects like filming a documentary about writing, the writing process and getting published/marketed, and possibly even a micro budget film(like Paranormal Activity) based on the story My Friend, Beer.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

The color of money, the dark amber gold of a great beer, the rich burgundy of a fine wine, the black hiding in the corners of our soul, and the white found in the purity of true love. My daughters always ask me to pick a favorite kid…they get mad at me because they are all my favorites for very different reasons. I can’t pick a favorite color. Although, I like wearing dark colors and would NOT be found dead in pink!

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

Bring the Noise! I love it loud! When I write, I need music. That distraction helps me focus, my brain runs a million miles an hour and at times it’s like watching TV in sports bar, dozens of channels, and you’re not sure what to watch. Music helps me reel it in. In fact, music plays a big part in many of my stories.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

I don’t really stick to a particular genre with either. When it comes to writing, my tone tends to be dark, but the genre could vary depending on the story. In fact, I even sure if my writing really fits neatly into a specific genre, I’m okay with that. My reading can be all over the charts, although right now, it tends to be text books…very dry, I would consider them, the boring genre.

Bec: If you could be any character in any book/movie, you’ve read/seen, who would it be and why?

Easy, Han Solo. Why? Because he is Han f’ing Solo!

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

You’d think that late nights in a dark room accompanied by only a bright computer monitor and my friend beer would be lonely. It’s not, at least for me, when I’m really into a story, I can get lost in the words, become part of the action…think and feel what’s happening to my characters. I think that comes out in the writing and makes it a very personal and relatable experience for the reader, even when something horrible is happening.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Don’t be afraid. Don’t let the criticism of others stop you. It takes great courage to be create and be an artist, to put yourself out there. I have great admiration for anyone that takes the chance to create and risk rejection, but even more for the person that gives rejection the finger and keeps at it.

Bec: Hot fudge or strawberry?

Mmm…Hot fudge.

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

I wish that someone had told me what I said a moment ago…don’t be afraid. I lost 20+ years of writing because I was afraid of what others would say, what others did say.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

I wish I had more friends that write, I love bouncing around ideas. Sharing of ideas and techniques or the encouragement to take risks. Writers understand writers just as coach understands an athlete.

Bec: If you created your own world, what color would the grass be there?

Whoa…dude, grass should always be green, man! No, if I could create a world, the grass would be shades of orange, as it should, to go with a blue sky. There is a deeper meaning to that, just something to make you think.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Recently I read Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace, I love the detail in which he writes, although at times it gets long winded and pretentious. Of course, Fight Club, would be another, as great as it is, I’m afraid it would be a bit trendy to call that a fav. My favorite, Frankenstein, because it is dark and wildly creative for its time, or any time. Shelly creates such sympathy and compassion for the monster, you pity the beast. My story “A Decidedly Different Brew” is an homage to Frankenstein.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

I have several authors I enjoy reading…Henry Rollins, Hubert Selby Jr., Chuck Palalnuik, William S. Burroughs, and few others. They write with passion, anger and more importantly, emotion and feeling. But to pick a favorite, I am gonna go off the reservation on this one…Quintin Tarantino, sure he doesn’t write books, but he is a great story teller and a master of dynamic dialog, a cinematic Shakespeare.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

If people get the chance check out my web sites and music video for “Courtney Did it!”

http://paddyrodriguezpub.com/default.aspx
http://thebeerchroniclesbook.com/default.aspx
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR-RXqBhS4U Book trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPw5HLcmyjs&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL 
Music Video

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!

Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to read the book and allowing me space to share a little bit about myself on your blog. I hope that your readers pour themselves a pint and enjoy The Beer Chronicles as well. Good luck to you and all your projects. Cheers!

 

©Rebecca Besser & Scott Lange, 2011. All rights reserved.

Pacing – A Trick of the Eye

Most people don’t realize that their eyes and brains can sometimes play little tricks on how they see and read writing; they have trained themselves to see and understand things as you’ve trained them to perceive. Once you understand this, you can learn simple tricks that can help your readers better grasp, enjoy, and love your stories.

Here are a couple simple things to be aware of when writing that can MAJORLY influence your reader’s enjoyment:

1) To improve pacing in a slow or awkwardly moving story, change the ‘did not’s ‘she had/he had’s, etc, to ‘didn’t’ & ‘she’d/he’d’ (if you’re in third person, but you get the idea). What this does is take two words and combine them as one so that your brain doesn’t have to have that little ‘pause’ at each word. This trick also takes out a few ‘had’s and ‘not’s that can sometimes become too plentiful.

I do this with my writing and I’ve had people tell me how fast my larger stories read because of it. They said that they didn’t get bored and were able to read all the way through without stopping to take breaks.

NOTE: This also gives you the ability to spilt the words up to emphasize them, so you’re using your words more wisely; it also helps with restricted word counts – you can sneak in more ‘important’ words by combining the little ones.

2) Sentence length and placement can make a big difference in how your story is read. The length of a sentence and where it’s placed can either speed up or slow down your scene/story. Keep in mind: short sentences are for quick paced action; and long sentences are for slower scenes and thoughtfulness. Also, when you’re doing a quick action scene, or want to make something more prominent, give a short sentence its own line. This really helps when you have a fight scene or something with high tension.

NOTE: The short sentence advantage doesn’t work AS WELL grouped together in a paragraph, but it can still be used that way – you just won’t get the full advantage.

3) Paragraph length and diversity. This little trick was something that was shared with me during my writing course with The Institute of Children’s Literature. If you have too many paragraphs that are the same size (or close to it) the human mind will grow bored and the reader will lose interest. They won’t know why they’ve lost interest, or why the story seems to drag, they’ll just drift away… No one wants that, right? So, here’s what you do…break up your paragraphs if you notice they’re all around the same length.

A good way to remember to do this is that there’s a rule where dialogue is supposed to start on a new line, although it’s not always done that way. If need be though, it’s a good rule of thumb to put action on one line and dialogue on the next.

I do this a lot when writing and editing.

NOTE: It is okay to put an action and dialogue on the same line, not starting a new line with speech, if it’s not messing with your pace and you like it that way. Just be aware of how you can fully benefit from either way before settling for one or the other.

I know what I’ve shared with you seem ‘simple’ and maybe have never occurred to you before, but I would encourage you to experiment with them and see how it can change the pace of your writing and the enjoyment of a reader.

rebecca-besser-bloody-horror-banner

©Rebecca Besser, 2011. All rights reserved.

It’s/Its Confusing – There/They’re/Their

One of the most common mistakes in writing is the use of it’s/its. Some people are confused as to what’s appropriate, and since it’s such a small word, it’s an easy accidental typo. Here’s a few tips and tricks on how to avoid this mistake.

It’s: the combination of ‘it’ and ‘is’, and only that combination. (Example: It’s hot outside today.)

Its: anytime ‘it is’ is not being combined; most commonly ‘its’ refers to an object. (Example: The flower is blooming, and its petal are a lovely red.)

When you reach your ‘editing faze’ with a story, do this simple trick to avoid the confusion of knowing which ‘its/it’s’ should be used. Think to yourself every time you see one: Would this be ‘it is’ if they weren’t joined? If they wouldn’t be ‘it is’ if separated, then you don’t need the ’.

Another common typo/misused word usage issue involves: there; they’re; and their. They all sound exactly the same, but mean completely different things.

There: a place (usually). (Example: They stood there looking at the painting.)

They’re: a combination of ‘they’ and ‘are’, and only that combination. (Example: They’re at the gallery.)

Their: possessive plural. (Example: Their feet were getting tired from walking all day.)

Again, editing… Look at your ‘there/they’re/their’ and see which one fits best. If it’s a combination of ‘they’ and ‘are’, than it’s an automatic ‘they’re’; if it’s a possessive plural, it’s ‘their’; and if it’s a place it’s ‘there’.

Being mindful of words that sound the same and mean different things causes them jump off the page at you, begging for correction. Be aware and learn of the differences – even go out of your way to learn them and their meanings so you can use them appropriately, because the English language is riddled with them.

Mistakes can be avoided with knowledge, so know your business as a writer – your business of words and how to use them!

rebecca-besser-bloody-horror-banner

 

©Rebecca Besser, 2011. All rights reserved.

Extras – A Marketing Tool

As an ‘extension’ of my Don’t Delete Me! – I’m Not Trash! post, I would like to share with you what those extra back stories and ‘chunks’ you’ve decided to cut from a novel can do for you.

Have you written a novel, and during the editing process cringed at the thought of doing away with some of your favorite parts? Or have some of your other, not so important, characters been whispering parts of their own history and back story in your ear?

There are ways you can use these inspirational trappings for your benefit, and even – possibly – increase the sales of your book.

Start a blog if you don’t already have one, arrange those ‘chunks’ of novel as an extra sneak peek into the book, or write those other little stories and post them. People who love your book, will love all the information that couldn’t be shared in a well designed novel.

What you’re essentially getting is extra marketing tools that can build fans for your writing and for the characters of your book – this is especially good if you plan to do a series. When readers get caught up in a series, they always want to know more, at least, I know I do!

If you’re planning to write a novel (or have already), you can REALLY make the extras work for you. Keeping in mind that you’ll be writing little side stories for your blog or some other marketing venue, you can have stronger threads of conflict and can weave a more intricate tale.

I’m not saying it would be easy, but that those things that tear at your heart, that you don’t want to cut out of your ‘great work’, can be used for a strong and creative purpose.

So, don’t delete them! Use the extras to sell you and your book, and let those characters really come to life, because you can tell their story too. 

rebecca-besser-bloody-horror-banner

 

©Rebecca Besser, 2011. All rights reserved.

Don’t Delete Me – I’m Not Trash

Okay, you sit down to write. A couple of paragraphs into your story (or article), you realize things aren’t going the way you would like. Do you delete everything you’ve just written and start fresh? NO!

Even if what you’ve gotten down on paper isn’t the exact course you wanted to take, you have two options, and both involve keeping what’s already there!

First Option: Continue writing and see where this sudden spur of change will take you. You could still write it again, from the angle you’ve first envisioned, and there’s nothing that says you can’t! Then you’ll have two stories instead of one!

Second Option: Stop! SAVE what you already have, and begin again, with more insight into how you want to proceed.

Both options are beneficial. The first one gives you two complete stories and also let’s your creative juices have free reign – them to go on that unexpected journey into spontaneity. The second one gives you the start of something to work on later, or even bits you can ‘steal’ and add into other works, if they’re fitting.

But, the main thing I’m trying to get across is that YOU NEVER DELETE ANYTHING. I don’t care if it’s one line that you wrote. Is it decent? Can you use it for something else? Why throw it out?! If you let that little sliver of thought alone for awhile, when you come back to it (possibly at random), you might get a spark of inspiration from it! (I’ve done this many times with poetry.)

Even drafts! Don’t save over the last draft you had, especially if you’re doing a major edit and are cutting out HUGE chucks at a time. If you would want to go back and retrieve something you didn’t want to delete, guess what? That part is now gone! Save your various drafts, and add numbers to the file name so you don’t have to change it (Title 1; Title 2; etc.).

Another cool trick where you can benefit from various drafts is multiple markets. You can write a flash fiction story and sell it to a flash market, and you can expand the same story and send it to short story market (watch your contracts though, because some places have revision stipulations), or take it even further and make it a novel! If you write for various age groups, you can revise accordingly and WHAM! you now have multiple pieces and many drafts. This can increase your submission count, which in turn means you can increase your acceptance count.

This can also work with revisions. Say you have a story that’s been sitting in your writing folder for a long time. Maybe you wrote it for a specific anthology or magazine, and have never had a use for it after, why not revise it and change it up a bit? You can take the characters (if you love them) and put them in a new scene or setting. Change the conflict, change the age group, change whatever you want! But, it’s a quick and easy way to have more stories to submit and market, when you’re pressed for time.

Above all, remember, even when your writing is in a state of limbo, it still has value and possible future use. Don’t throw away your imagination, take it out, reform it, and make it an entirely different masterpiece! A masterpiece you wouldn’t have if you’d hit the delete button. 

rebecca-besser-bloody-horror-banner

 

©Rebecca Besser, 2011. All rights reserved.

Ideas On Paper – The Puzzle

Having a place to write and sometimes more than one, is a good way to begin; you can’t write if you have no where to do it. Also, if you don’t make time to write, it’ll never get done. But how do you begin writing in the first place? You may have a designated space, and have made time for this craft, but where do you begin?

A story, a poem, an article – they all begin with an idea.

Ideas are the lifeline of any writer, in any genre or format. Where do you get them? Everywhere! They come to you at moments when you least expect, and if you’re not prepared, you can lose these gold nuggets before you ever get a chance to dazzle the masses.

If you know me, you’ve probably heard of my ‘Idea Journal’, which is nothing more than a notebook I write random ideas down in. I don’t always have the time to sit down and write when I want to, so I write down every idea I get. Sometimes they’re vague and are nothing more than a line I thought sounded good, or a character’s name, but I always write them down.

I’d also suggest having a pen and paper with you whenever you can. I keep these in my car, so that no matter where I am, I can write them down. Also, if you’re out in public and have nothing to write with, don’t be afraid to ask someone to borrow a pen so you can jot your idea on a napkin or stray piece of paper. After all, you never know when that little idea will turn into something more!

Once you have your idea – no matter how big or small it may be – it’ll be time to do something with it.

Time for thoughts to paper, and this is where The Puzzle comes in.

Remember, first drafts will never be perfect – they’re simply a tool to get your thoughts out on paper. After you have this first draft – which may be nothing more than a series of ideas jotted down in the order you wish – you go back through, read what you have and make adjustments. You might take a piece (a sentence or paragraph) from the beginning and move it to the middle or the end. You might take out pieces you don’t think work, and set them aside for later, adding in new ones. You might decide certain words aren’t going to fit into certain areas and exchange them for new ones that fit better.

Finally – after many drafts – The Puzzle comes together and you have a finished piece! The juggling and polishing are the editing process all writers use on their work. The time consuming, sometimes complicated, arranging and changing leads to your ideas, your thoughts, forming on paper and now you have a story, a poem, an article, to share with the world. Granted, it’s a struggle, but if you don’t try no one will ever know what a wonderful idea you’ve had and what a beautiful piece it can make when it’s all fit together properly.

So, get started by writing down those ideas. Write them down – even if it’s a mess – and get to work putting your puzzle together!

 

rebecca-besser-bloody-horror-banner

 

©Rebecca Besser, 2011. All rights reserved.

Author Rebecca Besser's Blog