Interview: Hubby

  • – How long have you been writing?

Since I was eight, almost nine years old. Before the San Francisco Earthquake, I was writing Batman-Superman Fanfiction.

 

  • Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

 

Everywhere: Sermons at church, out of the blue. Sometimes, I’ll get ideas from TV shows, particularly one where I don’t enjoy the episode and I imagine how it really should be told.

 

  • What are your thoughts on critique groups?

 

It’s a mixed bag. On one hand, if you get a knowledgeable, supportive critique partner, it can be a blessing. On the other hand, there are bad critique groups, arrogant critiquers, etc. So proceed with caution.

 

  • Have you dealt with writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

 

Yes. I’ve generally tried not to sit there and stare at blank screens. At some point, to quote the great Kenny Rogers, you have to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. And sometimes, the best thing to do is to do something else, rest your mind, and come back.

 

 

  • Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?

 

Here and there, probably the clown and sarcastic tendencies are the ones most likely to appear.

 

  • Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?

 

I’m working on a Short Story that’s trying to become a novelette and the final confrontation scene was very tough. The story deals with child abuse and I kept wanting to handle the whole thing more clinically. What we finally ended up writing after much coaxing from my wife, was something that packs more of a punch, and did make me cry writing it.

 

  • Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?

 

Mostly on its own. I know where I’m starting and I have a general idea where I’m going. I let the story happen as it goes.

 

 

  • What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?

 

Depends on the book. I hope they just take something away from it and whatever God has for them.

 

  • Can you share any upcoming projects with us?

 

Upcoming. I’ve three big ideas that I have to struggle to get to:

 

1) The Return of the Dim Knight. This is going to be a challenging book to write. My challenge is going to be to grow my characters personally, emotionally, and spiritually from the last book without going too far. We’re still going to have some comedy, but it will be a slightly different tone. It’s the Superhero sequel that I hope readers will be waiting for.

 

2) Case Files of the Selfish Detective: Not really a speculative story, but will feature a character from Tales of the Dim Knight, Neil Worthington. Worthington is a genius detective who tries to model his life off of the combined efforts of Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, and Hercule Poirot. He lives alone mostly, irritating household staff, and driving them away. Then one day, Worthington is on the sidewalk and a car almost runs him over but a young woman saves him, but is hit herself and gets amnesia. Worthington pays her medical bills and brings her onboard. Her mission is to remember who she is and to get Worthington to use his powers for good.

 

3) The Graham works: Podcast-Yes, I want to start recording podcast of my works, both published and unpublished, so that people can enjoy them and I can grow my audience. But not something I’ve been able to find time to do yet.

 

 

  • Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?

 

I love old time radio and radio drama in general. Spend a lot of time listening to that and producing podcasts on old time radio.

 

  • With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?

 

I’ve invented something called a caffeine IV. Sadly, don’t find enough.

 

  • When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?

 

I really try to get to know the character organically, through telling the story and listening to them. I tried once writing down all the details and I never got through all the details and never wrote the story.

 

  • Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?

 

In modern writing, there are two types of rules: 1) rules that are absolute and hard and fast and 2) things that are a matter of opinion and style but get stated as rules. A good writer has to be able to tell the difference.

 

  • Where can readers find your books and contact information?

 

http://www.dimknight.com

 

  • Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?

 

-Not as much as I should.

 

  • What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?

 

If I get into one of those “inspired modes,” I can have a spell and turn out a few thousand word short story in a day. What I ideally  need is good classical or instrumental music playing in the background with Facebook and email closed.

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Interview: Yvonne Anderson

 

  • How long have you been writing?

I started writing since I was old enough to hold a crayon. But as far as writing seriously, with hopes of publication? That began in 2002. I was offered my first publishing contract in 2011.

 

  • When did you feel called to write?

See above. It was in February. Two of my four kids were grown and on their own, the younger two were in school, and my hours at work had recently been cut to twelve hours a week. And, we’d just gotten a new computer. While cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, it occurred to me that everything had fallen into place for me; it was time to write that book that had been in the back of my mind for the past couple of decades. I tried to brush away the idea, but eventually I realized it wasn’t just an idea, it was the Holy Spirit nudging me. I prayed about it, and the urge persisted. I’ve prayed about it every day since. I don’t want to waste my time doing this if the Lord wants me to do something else instead, but every day, He gives me the green light to go ahead. And so I plod on.

 

  • Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

I have no idea. They spring up like weeds, and I don’t usually know what sort of critter dropped the seeds there.

 

  • What are your thoughts on critique groups?

A good critique group is invaluable. Better than a MFA. I can’t sing their praises enough.

 

  • Was it hard to develop a writing style?

No.

 

  • Who is your favorite author?

I have no favorite author. Nor favorite color, food, movie, book, etc. I don’t think I’m wishy-washy, I just enjoy too many things to narrow it down.

 

  • Have you dealt with writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

I can’t say as I’ve ever struggled with writer’s block. If I feel stuck on one thing, I drop it and go on to something else. Most of my struggles, especially at first, were trying to find the time to write, not trying to decide what to write.

 

  • Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?

Yes, I think this is inevitable, though I try to counteract it by making my characters do things I never would.

 

  • Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?

The scenes I feel most strongly about are the most difficult to write. Yes, scenes have made me cry sometimes, but they’ve never made me angry. Anger results from loss of control, but I have complete control over everything that happens in my story world.

 

  • Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?

I’m a seat-of-the-pants plotter. However, before I start writing, I know the beginning, the end, and two pivotal events that will take place along the way, as well as the major characters. But other than that, I’m as surprised about what happens as the reader is. It’s fun.

 

  • What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?

I want people to enjoy my books and find things in them to think about after they’re through. Mostly, though, I hope they’ll see God’s truth reflected in my stories.

 

  • Can you share any upcoming projects with us?

In January 2011 I signed a three-book contract with Risen Books for a space fantasy series, Gateway to Gannah. The first book, The Story in the Stars, was released in June; Book #2 will probably come out in December, and I expect the third to be released in the middle of 2012. I’m currently revising #3 in preparation for submitting it to the publisher, and I also have a good idea in my mind of what’s going to happen in Book #4. I have no contract for anything beyond the third book, but I expect I’ll keep writing more in the series for the next few years, because I have several story ideas still to work out.

 

  • How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story do not fit in what they consider to be Christian?

If someone told me that, I’d agree with him. I don’t incorporate those elements in my stories.

 

– With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?

I used to squeeze it in whenever I could, and it was very frustrating. Thankfully, I’m now in a position to write full time. It’s not like having a full-time job, because I don’t get a paycheck. But at least my time is my own.

 

  • When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?

Yes, I give my characters a history, but I tend to work backward. That is, I decide first what I want the character to do, and then I figure out what her background and motivation is, and build her history that way. That’s all done mentally before I start writing. Then once I get started, she’ll sometimes react in ways I hadn’t anticipated, but it’s always consistent with the backstory I gave her early on.

 

  • Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?

I have five nuggets to share, but I’m not sure what they’re nuggets of:

1. If you’re a Christ-follower, pray about this. You’re looking at a huge investment of time and energy, not to mention money if you go to conferences and such. So you should be sure you’re doing what the Lord wants you to do. (If you’re not a Christ-follower, I have no advice for you other than that you consider changing that situation.)

2. Be patient; be diligent; be humble; learn as much as you can, make as many contacts as you can, and be aware that you’re just starting out. You have much to learn.

3. Pray about it.

4. Be patient; be diligent; be humble; learn as much as you can, make as many contacts as you can, and know that the Lord is God.

5. Pray about it. Maybe now that you’re getting the hang of it, He wants you to write a different sort of story or to change genres, as He did with me. I never even read science fiction when He put me to work writing it. You never know what He’s going to lead you to do.

 

– Where can readers find your books and contact information?

Readers can connect with me through my blog at www.YsWords.com. The Story in the Stars (and later, subsequent titles in the series) can be purchased in paperback or e-book formats at Amazon or through the publisher’s website (www.RisenFiction.com/store).

 

  • Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?

Yes.

 

  • What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?

It takes me a little while to get into the story each time I go back to it, and I need to be isolated from distracting things like TV, music, conversation, etc. I don’t need complete silence, though. I do a lot of writing sitting on the front porch with the world going past the house. But those sounds, I can block out.


 

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Interview: Kimberli Reneé Campbell

– When did you feel called to write?

I can’t say I remember a specific time when the Lord put the desire in my heart. All I know now is I have a deep need to write the stories he gives me.

 

– Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

Boy, the ideas come from everywhere. The series I’m writing now came from a dream. I have a romance/suspense story from watching an old blue pickup truck stopped in front of me at a stoplight. It’s fun watching people in hopes the images will produce a story.

– What are your thoughts on critique groups?

I think they are extremely important if there is a mixture of experience levels. Unfortunately, as people get busy with life, it’s difficult to stay consistent with critiques. You also need to be able to receive constructive criticism. It’s painful, but needed.

– Was it hard to develop a writing style?

If I developed a style, it probably came from the type of books I like to read. Down-to-earth and relaxed.

– Who is your favorite author?

I enjoy reading books by Donita K. Paul, Terri Blackstock, and Ted Dekker…just to name a few.

– Have you dealt with writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

I don’t think I’ve had to deal with writer’s block. However, I have let things keep me from writing. After a full day, instead of writing, I spend my time doing mindless things – surf the web, playing games on the iPad. Although there are times when a person does need to take some downtime, I tend to play longer than I should. When I do notice myself doing this, I force myself to get back to writing.

 

– Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?

Yes. I think it gives the characters more depth…not that I’m a complex person. 🙂

 

– Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?

One of the issues the main character and his friends deal with is bullying. Bullying makes me angry. As for crying, in the third book of the series, there is a part where I teared up. I didn’t have to breakout the tissues, but it was close.

 

– Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?

I’m an outline kind of gal. I need structure. Hats off to those that let the story develop on its own. If I wrote that way, the story would probably start with the ending.

– What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?

I would love for the readers to come away with a spirit of victory and that they’ve been on an awesome adventure. Learning the importance of a relationship with the Lord, family, and friends is also something I’d like them to walk away with. And, let’s not forget the desire to read the next book.

 

– Can you share any upcoming projects with us?

I would love to share. My book, Redemption: Shayia’s Adventures – Book Two, will prayerfully be out this year. I am currently working on book three of the series. I have no title at this time. I am not sure if the Lord has a book four, so I’ll have to see what he has next.

 

– What makes Redemption: Shayia’s Adventures – Book Two a must read for young readers?

Aside from the back to back action and suspense, this book touches on issues like bullying, feeling alone, and sharing the Good News. It would be great to see the book used in a classroom setting to help children dealing with any of these issues.

– How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story does not fit in what they consider to be Christian?

Hm…I do have sorcery in my books, but it’s clearly stated that it’s wrong. As for what they consider magic, I don’t see it as magic. Shayia’s sword glows and the Word appears on it. I believe those to be the manifestation of God’s awesome power. He used the staff of Moses, caused a donkey to speak, and so much more. I think this is a topic that people will always see differently, which is all right. I must write what I feel the Lord has asked me to write. I do so to bring him glory and to draw his children closer to him.

 

– Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?

I’m a quiet person. However, if you were to see me acting on stage, you would disagree. I would be content sitting quietly in a room (not padded) with a book and/or my iPad. I drive the speed limit and obey the rules of the road to the point that it gets on people’s nerves. I HATE emotional mind games. In other words, if you have something to say, please say it…in love. 🙂 Going for walks in nice weather is something I enjoy when not writing. There is more, but that’s a good start.

– Thank you for visiting with us today.

Thanks for allowing me to visit with you.

 

– With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?

I’ve been blessed to be at home. Although the time may broken up into little sessions, I’m able to get writing done between regular housework and family time. When my little one goes to school full-time, I will be able to get more writing time.

 

– When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?

I think dreaming is a writer’s best friend. When I create characters, I like to dream about them, so I can picture how they look and act. I don’t normally write a background on the characters. I do note the memories they have in case something comes up later.

 

– Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?

I encourage writers to get connected with other writers – critique groups, forums, etc. They are a great place to get encouragement and be challenged. Also, continue to write and sharpen your craft. No excuses. 🙂

 

– Where can readers find your books and contact information?

The best place is www.theswordoflight.com. The book is also available on Amazon. You can visit my blog at www.hiswriter.blogspot.com. I would love to connect with other writers and readers.

 

– Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?

My relationship with the Lord is most important. I don’t feel that I can really write to my fullest potential unless the Lord and I communicate. We are a team.

 

– What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?

I don’t have a writing routine….anymore. Now I write when I can. Having it nice and quiet would be my first choice, but the only quiet time we have in our house is when everyone is sleeping. I have learned to adjust to the noise.


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Interview: Cindy Koepp

 

– How long have you been writing?

Oh, most of 33 years. My mother has an old short story I wrote when I was six or seven. The hobby continued on since then.

 

– When did you feel called to write?

I don’t know. I don’t know if I was ever “called.” About five years ago, when I was more irritated with teaching than usual, I asked God if he’d object to me being a full-time writer. That hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve made lots of connections with other writers and critique groups and the like. I even have a contract now for one of my books.

 

– Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

Sometimes they get left in my mental voice mail with no mention of the source on the caller ID. Other times they’re based on some misadventure in my own life with the decimal point moved over several orders of magnitude.

 

– What are your thoughts on critique groups?

I’ve been in a few. One was ultra-competitive. That was pretty useless. The deal was that you’d upload a chunk of text then review others’ works on the site to earn credits so yours would be reviewed. Writers reviewed each other and ranked the work on a 5-star system. That sounds interesting, but many people ran afoul of glowing feedback to go along with low ratings. Some people were the recipients of a copied-and-pasted review. There was some handy feedback, but it was a lot of work for a little return.

Another group critiques on a volunteer system. That works okay.

The third group has been really useful. We take turns critiquing half-novels. I get the most useful feedback from this group. It takes ~8 months to get feedback for a whole novel, but what I get has been immensely helpful.

 

– Was it hard to develop a writing style?

Yes and no. I write how I hear and see things in my head. The problem has been then mutating that so normal humans can understand what I saw and heard. I tend to use a lot of technical terms for things. Sometimes I get bogged down in trivia or skip over something important because it made sense to me at the time. That’s why my critique partners are very helpful. They point out when my idea has been scattered by the hurricane winds of disjointed thinking.

 

– Who is your favorite author?

One is definitely Gordon Dickson. I enjoyed the Childe Cycle. Each story stands alone but all of them work together for an ultimate purpose. Bruce Hale’s Chet Gecko series is hilarious. Jude Watson’s Jedi Apprentice series had excellent characterization.

 

– Have you dealt with writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

Yes, I’ve had some stories stall out midway. I have to set the work aside for a while and come back to it weeks, sometimes months later. In the meantime, I work on something else.

 

– Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?

Definitely. Many of my lead characters are disabled in some way. How they deal with their physical ailments is often related to how I deal with mine. One of my stories has two characters with my weird sense of humor. Another has a lead character who doesn’t want to fit in with society’s “normal” view of girls.

Very often people I know make it into my stories, too.

 

– Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?

Plenty have been difficult to write. The subject matter hits too close to home, like the character who faced discrimination for her inherited disability.

Not too many make me angry. Some scenes make me cry when I write them and then later as I read them again.

– Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?

I use not just outlines, but very detailed descriptions of the characters, places, societies, maps, and anything I can come up with that might even be vaguely important to the plot. I often have 20 or more pages of notes before I start writing the actual story.

 

– What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?

First of all, I want the stories to be entertaining. I don’t mean gut-busting hilarious, but interesting to read. Since so many of the stories have at least some beginning in my own misadventures, I hope that readers will either identify with someone in the story or maybe understand something a little better.

 

– Can you share any upcoming projects with us?

I have a book called Remnant in the Stars under contract with Under the Moon. It’s about a navigator searching for his missing child and a pilot dealing with an undiagnosable illness. If all goes according to Hoyle, we’ll finish the editing process by the end of December, and it should see print in the spring of 2012.

I’m also working with a group of writers on an anthology.

 

– How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story does not fit in what they consider to be Christian?

About seven or eight years ago, a friend questioned the magic use in one of my books. He gave me a detailed explanation for why that was not Christian. I did some praying and some thinking and decided he was more right than I was. The way I had handled the magic was very occultic. I rewrote the story, keeping the basic plot, and scrapped the magic use. I actually like the rewrite better than the original.

 

– Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?

When I’m not writing or doing prep and paperwork for school, I sew, crochet, do needlework, play computer games, and try to find recipes for things I can actually eat.

I tend to be the quiet, keep-to-myself type, but I can get pretty goofy when I’m with people I know well.

At work, though, I’m more out-spoken. Diplomacy is not a skill I was gifted with.

 

– With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?

Now that’s a good trick. During the school year, I write on Saturday afternoons and Sundays before or after church. On weeknights, I usually don’t get to write much at all. I’m eyeball deep in paperwork and grading.

During Christmas break, spring break, and the summer, I write a lot more. I sometimes write new material. Other times I work on editing old stuff.

 

– When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?

The characters often have a very detailed background. The key players and other frequent flyers get all kinds of information. Often I have intentions of including it somewhere, but when I get there, that doesn’t make sense, so it just stays in the background information. Lesser folks sometimes don’t have more than name, appearance, and the details needed for story.

 

– Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?

Find a group of other writers you can share with who’ll be honest with you whether something doesn’t work or something went fabulously. Ego-boosters are nice, but they don’t help you progress. Likewise, brow-beaters don’t ever give you the encouragement you need to keep on plugging away.

Don’t give up. This isn’t an easy gig, but then nothing worthwhile ever is.

Take advice from other, more experienced folks. When the advice contradicts other expert advice, you have some leeway to consider what fits your idiom.

Above all, be careful that you don’t do something that will cause someone else to blaspheme God.

 

– Where can readers find your books and contact information?

I have a Facebook author page.

I also have a webpage at ckoepp.com and two blogs that I update when I have something interesting to say: ckoepp.xanga.com and ckoepp.blogspot.com.

– Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?

Not for each writing session or project necessarily, but I often talk to God, and the subject of my writing comes up now and again.

 

– What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?

I like to sit on my couch with a notebook and pen in hand and a glass of water nearby. I don’t focus well with noise, so I prefer quiet. Once I have the stuff written, I enter it into the computer using either the keyboard or some voice recognition software. Then I can edit and revise. Sometimes I do that on the screen. Other times, I make the font stupidly small … like 8 or 9 point … and print it out. That depends on whether it’s an early draft or a later one. Earlier drafts will need much more shuffling and fixing, so I print those. Later ones are usually more stable, and I can do those on the computer.

 

– Thank you for visiting with us today.

Great fun had by all!

 

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Interview of Caprice Hokstad

Kicking off a blog tour I’m participating in, interviewing several authors affiliated with the Lost Genre Guild, with the fabulous Caprice Hokstad.

 

– When did you feel called to write?

I don’t feel like I have been “called” to write as some sort of mandate from God. If God tells you to write, of course you should obey, but God hasn’t really told me I have to write. Does a Christian have to be “called” to knit? Or can it just be a hobby? I don’t believe crosses or fish symbols must be woven deep into every design of every scarf in order for knitting to be a legitimate use of a Christian’s time. I enjoy writing and my beliefs will affect everything I write, but I don’t think I am “called” to write.

 

– Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

I really don’t know. I have a very weird brain and thoughts pop into it without any return address.

 

– What are your thoughts on critique groups?

I think they are important for beginners. I also think it’s incredibly hard to find one that is helpful. You need people to understand the genre and you need at least one or two people in the group to know more than you do about the craft. I prefer one-on-one critique “partners” over groups.

 

– Was it hard to develop a writing style?

Huh? I’m not even sure I know how to develop a style. I just write. If I have a style, I didn’t do anything to impose it. It’s just me.

 

– Have you dealt with writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

My biggest block came from limiting myself to working on only “worthy” (i.e. publishable) projects. I am having trouble finding an audience for my published books. So, instead of writing the third book in that trilogy, I spent a lot of “blocked” time looking for a new project that would help me find or build an audience. I came up with a great setting and a good plot for an undersea science fiction, but it’s dead in the water for lack of good characters to pull it off. So then I started writing fanfiction for fun. Once I allowed myself to write for fun and for readers instead of for publishing, I had a lot less trouble with writer’s block. I regularly pump out about 5000 (final draft) words a week now.

– Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?

Yes. More with villains than heroes. But isn’t that what makes it fun? It’s socially acceptable to plot the perfect crime for a character to pull off. Characters can say and do what I can’t.

 

– Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?

I find scenes difficult to perfect, but not really to bang out. I want a precise progression of thoughts and emotions and I’m never happy until the words produce the exact effect I want. I play with word choices and sentence structure a lot. Do I cry? Yes. But that really isn’t saying much since I cry over movies and TV shows and reading blogs and all kinds of other things too.

 

– Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?

I didn’t use an outline for The Duke’s Handmaid at all. I made a very rough one for Nor Iron Bars a Cage, but even when I use outlines, they are very loose and I do a lot of seat-of-pants fill in.

 

– What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?

I want them love the story. I want them to feel elated for the climax, but sad because it’s over. I want to leave them hungry for more. I want them to pass it on to a friend or two or five. I want them to feel strongly enough that they go post a review on Amazon or sit and write me an email just because they feel like they need to talk about it.

 

– Can you share any upcoming projects with us?

My short story/mini-novella “Fettered Soul”, which is a prequel to my novels appears in the bestselling anthology “Aquasynthesis” from Splashdown Books. My seaQuest fanfiction is presently available for free atUnderseaAdventure.net. I am finally writing the third book of my Ascendancy Trilogy, as yet unnamed, but should be released in 2012.

 

– How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story does not fit in what they consider to be Christian?

I tell them that any Christian label has been applied by others, not by me. I usually ask that person if they consider Narnia “Christian” and if they say yes, then I point out all the magic, witches, lack of mention of Jesus, bloody battles (or whatever they object to) in that. If they say no, then I say, “Fine, I’m with C.S. Lewis in the mainstream then.”

 

– Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?

I like swimming and I am obsessed with the ocean. I love the beach, but I don’t go there very much because of driving and the crowds. I hate crowds. I love going to Sea World or the Birch Aquarium when they’re in off-season. I really want to learn to scuba dive someday, but it’s too expensive to consider right now. I also would love to live in an undersea colony.

 

– When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?

It depends on how important the character is to the story. Minor characters, no, I don’t bother. However, minor characters have been known to grow into main characters and I’ve had to go back and fill in their history in order to use them more extensively.

 

– Where can readers find your books and contact information?

WWW.LATOPH.COM

 

– What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?

I prefer peace and quiet, but that isn’t always available to me. I never purposely add noise like music or TV, but I live in a mobile home with four other people and our house is situated in a mobile home park where I’m too close to neighbors, so I can’t always escape other people’s noise. I can usually edit with more noise than I can handle during a first draft. Sometimes, if the distraction level is too great, I just have to change modes and do something else that doesn’t require as much concentration (like read email, do facebook). I have been known to sacrifice sleep in order to get good writing time.

 

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This Month’s Idahope Writing Activity (modified for the web)

Choose a random number (1-12) and a random letter (A-L) first and then find your choices in the lists below. Write a scene in the location corresponding with your number choice, featuring a character with the issue corresponding to your letter choice. Do not directly state what the character’s issue is in the scene. Instead show the character’s feelings and state of mind through how the character describes the setting and interacts with their surroundings.

1. Beach

2. Fiesta

3. Miniature Golf Course

4. Wedding

5. Funeral

6. Realtor’s Office

7. Trailer Park

8. Doctor’s Office

9. The Zoo

10. Baseball Diamond

11. A Major River

12. Mountain in a National Park

A. Your character has recently killed someone.

B. Your character just learned he/she is dying.

C. Your character is finally pregnant after twelve years of infertility.

D. Your character just learned his/her unmarried daughter is pregnant.

E. Your character has just become engaged.

F. Your character is retiring after working for the same place for the last twenty-five years.

G. Your character won a hard-fought for, difficult promotion at work.

H. Your character is about to take a difficult test that s/he must pass or his/her life is over.

 

I. Your character has been betrayed by a close loved one associated with your setting.

J. Your character is deep in debt, filing bankruptcy, and may lose the house.

K. Your character has begun a new ministry and is fired up about their vision.

L. Your character is torn between a family member’s needs and their career goals.

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Character Interview: Erica Brogna (Nike Chillemi)

Gentle readers, we continue with our series of character interviews I am conducting. Recently, I had the delight of chatting with Erica Brogna, the heroine of the historical romantic suspense novel Burning Hearts by Nike Chillemi (Desert Breeze, May 12, 2001).

POV Boot Camp(PBC): Erica, what do you love most about Burning Hearts?

Erica Brogna: I pride myself on being the independent sort, sensible and all that, but I still have to admit, for me the best part of Burning Hearts was meeting and falling in love with Lorne Kincade.

PBC:So, any drawbacks or challenges?

Erica: With the close of World War II, I was so conflicted. So many of the boys I’d grown up with didn’t come back. And then when my friend and employer Ada Pinter was killed in a house fire set by an arsonist, well my faith was shaken.

PBC: What are your greatest hopes and dreams?

Erica: I always loved high fashion. Our family couldn’t afford a subscription, so I’d run to the library to read fashion magazine. Then I’d sketch my own designs. As to my own style, well, I guess you could say I’m fashion forward. I was the first woman in our village to wear slacks. Let me tell you, it caused quite a stir.

PBC: What are your greatest fears? Weaknesses?

Erica: I’m afraid someone else I love will die. I lost Ada, who was more like an older sister than an employer and so many of my school buddies never made it back from the war. Then it seemed as if our village, where I’d always felt so secure, had become a dangerous place with a crazed arsonist on the loose.

PBC: Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

Erica: Drawing new fashion designs thrills me. I love to set up Momma’s Singer sewing machine and whip up my fashion ideas. I’ll usually create designs for Christmas and birthday presents. I make dresses or blouses for the ladies and dress shirts for the fellas.

PBC: How about pet peeves? What annoys you?

Erica: Gossip. I hate it.

PBC: What do you value most?

Erica: My family, my friends, my church community.

PBC:Tell me a bit more about your family and friends. What do you like about them? Dislike?

Erica: Momma holds the whole family together and Poppa is a tower of strength. I love my brother Willie to pieces, but he’s a bit annoying, like younger brothers can be. I’ve already told you about Ada. Her murder shook me to the core. My best girlfriend is Katrina, just graduated from the hospital’s nursing program. We share everything. Then there’s Lorne Kincade, who invaded my world on his Harley Davidson and became very important in my life.

PBC: Erica, in your own words, could you tell us a bit about the author of your novel, Nike Chillemi?

Erica: Nike’s often called a crime fictionista. I think that’s kind of a humorous name. In your day, you also have fashionistas. I guess I’d be one of those. Nike lives in New York City, which she calls Gotham. I thought that was where Batman lived, but that’s Nike for you. She lives with her family in a part of New York that is very close to the Atlantic Ocean. She loves the seaside and most of her novels are set not far from the shores of the Atlantic.

PBC: So, Erica, what do you think of Author? What do you like or admire about her? Anything you dislike?

Erica: I like that although Nike has a simple faith, she also has a mature one that can navigate the harshness of life. I got mad at her when she wrote in a scene where Lorne got badly beaten up. She likes to beat up her main characters. She even had me whacked over the head. How do you like them apples? Well, I didn’t like it much.

PBC: Erica, if you had one question you could ask Nike, what would it be?

Erica: Why did Ada have to die in a horrid fire like she did?

PBC: If you could change one thing in Burning Hearts, what would it be?

Erica: I wouldn’t have had Ada die, but then there wouldn’t have been a story. I guess that’s why Nike’s the writer and I’m the seamstress with dreams of becoming a designer.

PBC: Erica, if you could spend a whole day with Nike, where would you go and what would you do together?

Nike: While Nike was typing, I could hear something in the background called The Food Network. I’d like to come over to Nike’s house and have her cook a meal for me. From what I gather, Nike’s been cooking a new way and has been

losing weight. She makes a lot of sautéed dishes in some type of citrus or wine sauce and she loves making soups. She’s known for using fresh seasonal ingredients.

 

PBC: Erica, what do you think of the cover of Burning Hearts?

Erica: Well, I was surprised to see it had an image of me. I love the flaming heart.

Thanks for stopping in and chatting with us, Erica! Readers, it’s your turn! Got any questions for Character’s Name about Burning Hearts or anything else on your mind? Comment away. If one of your characters would like to chat with us here, send me an email and we’ll set a date.

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The Character Interview You Should Do, Too.

Recently, I had the delight of chatting with Alexander Lloyd McGregor, the main character of my unpublished science fiction novel Web Surfer ANI.

POV Boot Camp(PBC): Alex, I understand that personal computers are sentient in your day! What do you love most about using digital devices with minds of their own?

Alexander Lloyd McGregor: Technically, the main servers and digital devices themselves are as dumb as ever. It is their Operating System or Firmware that is smart. I use the oldest and the by far most popular brand on the market, Web Surfer ANI, mostly because my dad is the chief of engineering there. Dad’s the best cybernetics engineer to ever code an AI using DNA.

PBC: How does that work?

McGregor: Uh, our current version’s specs are proprietary, sorry, but our alpha version’s specs I can share. Dad created a synthetic chromosome in his lab and inserted it into the nuclei of gutted probiotics. The code tells the amoeba how to build bio-molecular nanite machines. A super computer reads the nanites’ code as a quaternary computer code with instructions to run an AI. It had the metal box for a brain and the probiotics for its bodies in the real world, but obediently pretended to be human online. In our current version, Sander is indistinguishable from a live person online. In fact, Sander threatened to deck me if I refused to own up to him being my best friend. I’m writing this while my brain’s plugged into an online simulated reality, so he’s more than just a hologram here, too.

PBC: Do you only use Sander socially? If not, what is the computing experience like for you?

McGregor: I am as tech-dependent as the next guy of my generation, but when I’m operating my devices, to me it feels like I’m merely asking a friend for help with something. My experience probably isn’t typical of most users, though. Dad programmed Sander as a double of me. For us, it’s like how your brother is still your brother even when you’re researching a term paper together.

PBC:So, any drawbacks or challenges?

McGregor: The most serious problem with modern tech pertains to folk in the habit of using a sim visor to download sensory data from online simulations directly to their brains. Cyberspace is a highly addictive simulated world to visit, but overuse fries a user’s nerve endings. Extreme overuse can leave us ready to be chopped into coleslaw even. For me, that is a huge problem. I just found out Dad has had my brain plugged into the internet ever since I was a baby. The negative side effects of long term use could scratch my goal of going to college in the real world. Sander thinks he can get me offline without killing me, but his reasoning for that hope sounds crazy to me and definitely would be proprietary.

PBC: What are your greatest hopes and dreams?

McGregor: Besides attending college where the grass is real? Uh, this is sort of really embarrassing, but I’ve been, well, let’s just say I hope to meet a very special girl in school and settle down and all that—when it is reasonable and logical to be thinking about marriage and having kids, I mean, of course.

PBC: What are your greatest fears? Weaknesses?

McGregor: Honestly? After discovering I live in cyberspace, given my best friend is an AI who obliges me in pretending we’re identical twins, I am a bit worried I’m not really human. Dad sort of uploads my bleeping memories into Sander’s digital head. Lately, Sands sometimes knows what I’m thinking before I even know I’m thinking it even. I’m starting to think I should be more worried about having a mental disorder, though. Plus the proprietary information I can’t share is putting me in danger of being killed and my attempts to get offline before that happens are putting Web Surfer at risk of being upgraded. For AI kind, the upgrade process is the fun method of reproducing by dying.

PBC: Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

McGregor: Sports. The more likely I am to die if I do something stupid, the better. And, uh, I sort of collect foreign languages. Can I help it if my IQ is higher than 99.999 percent of the planet?

PBC: How about pet peeves? What annoys you?

McGregor: People thinking I’m stupid because I surf and prefer to talk like normal guys my age do. That has to top my list. Well, right behind being lied to and deceived. I love Dad, but the proprietary information he held back from me, and that I can’t share with you, either, has had me feeling really betrayed. I don’t know if I can trust anything he tells me anymore.

PBC: What do you value most?

McGregor: Freedom. Integrity. Responsibility. Truth. Loyalty. Family. (Hey, all I have is Dad. I’ve missed out on a relationship with my mom and younger brother, Chance.)

PBC:Tell me a bit more about your family and friends. What do you like about them? Dislike?

McGregor: Dad I think I’ve covered well enough, other than he’s a hacker that spies on me and responsible for my above stated values, even if he gave me no firm foundation for them. He never talks about religion and even enforces the house rule of neutrality on me by blocking my access to religious and political stuff online. Far as I can tell, though, he’s an atheist. I love him, but I’m too mad at him right now to think of much reason to like him.

My closest, okay, okay, only friends, are Sander and Lexus. She’s Sander’s female AI counterpart and like our little sister. I mean, dude, she looks even more like my mother than I do. She’s fun, loving, and helpful—she’s nervous and timid sometimes, but she’s always there when I need her, no matter how scared she is. Really, I love her as much as I do Sander, but I hate the mega-gross bug we’ve had where she simulated having romantic feelings for me and bleeping acted on them. Hopefully she’s over that.

Sander, I get along with great, but sometimes he takes the teasing too far and he can be a sneak. I know he didn’t get that last one from me, too. Well, he’s pointing out he always played the bad twin when we were kids, and I’m the user, so I’m the one who selected which parts we play. Still, I hate it when Sander invades my mental privacy and comments on thoughts embarrassing even for him to overhear. It gets annoying when he is downloading my memories so fast, he knows what I am thinking about asking before I realize I am. He either blurts the answer before I’m ready or stands there stomping his foot impatiently. The impatience he does get from me, I will admit. On the bright side for our users, Sander can only read my mind.

PBC: Alex, if you had one question you could ask your author, what would it be?

McGregor: What author? Do you mean to say Dad’s writing a book about me? Where’s that workaholic going to find the time? I guess, I’d ask, why me? I don’t even know what my purpose in life is yet, and I may never get a chance to find out, either. This is pointless unless I get my way and Dad is dead set against ever letting me live in the real world, or he was the last time we chatted.

PBC: If you could change one thing in Web Surfer ANI, what would it be?

McGregor: Uh, I’d have to read it first—and I have to finish living it before Dad can actually write it, right? Unless this is like a sync memory, I guess. Those are like time traveling to relive a moment in time that occurred online, either from your own perspective, or ghosting through someone else’s by permission. Users can edit a sync memory before shooting it off to someone, too.

PBC: Alex, if you could spend a whole day with your author, where would you go and what would you do together?

McGregor: Offline, you mean? Our whole family would hop in the car and drive to the nearest retro family fun center. I figure that’s something we’d all enjoy.

Thanks for stopping in and chatting with us, Alex! Readers, it’s your turn! Got any questions for Alex about Artificial Intelligence, simulated reality, or anything else on your mind? Comment away.

If one of your characters would like to chat with us here, send me an email and we’ll set a date. If you’d like to test read the Web Surfer ANI manuscript for me, send me an email, and I’ll give you the details.

 

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Interview of Eden Morgan (Mistaken Identity by K Dawn Byrd)

Gentle readers, we continue with our series of character interviews I am conducting. Recently, I had the delight of chatting with Eden Morgan, the heroine of the novel Mistaken Identity (June 15, 2011/Desert Breeze Publishing) by K. Dawn Byrd , the author of Queen of Hearts.

POV Boot Camp(PBC): Eden, what do you love most about Mistaken Identity?

Eden Morgan: It was such fun to be a part of Mistaken Identity! I realized my dream of becoming a cheerleader and worked really hard at the six goals I set. I just knew, if I made them, it would be the best summer ever.

PBC: So Eden, any drawbacks or challenges?

Eden: I went through a lot with my best friend and wondered if she was my friend at all sometimes. She did some things that are going to be hard to forgive.

PBC: What are your greatest hopes and dreams?

Eden: I want to finish high school and college. I’d like to be a counselor like my mom. I’m hoping that Channing is the guy for me and that we’ll get married and one day have a family.

PBC: What are your greatest fears? Weaknesses?

Eden: I’m terrified of losing Channing and, after having my best friend try to take him away, I don’t quite trust anyone with my boyfriend. I know I have trust issues and I’m trying to work on them, but it’s not easy.

PBC: Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

Eden: I love my new car! My parents bought me a Mustang convertible for my birthday.

PBC: How about pet peeves? What annoys you?

Eden: I don’t like people who lie to me.

PBC: What do you value most?

Eden: My family and my faith. My little sister can be a real pain, but I love her.

PBC: Tell me a bit more about your family and friends. What do you like about them? Dislike?

Eden: My mom is a Christian counselor. She’s really good at helping people. My dad is an architect and teaches Sunday school. My boy-crazy little sister spends most of her time bugging me. My best friend, Lexi, is now an ex-best friend. I just can’t trust her after the way she lied and tried to make everyone believe that my boyfriend was in love with her.

PBC: Eden, in your own words, could you tell us a bit about the author of your novel, K. Dawn Byrd?

Eden: K. Dawn is married and has two hairless Chinese Crested dogs. It took me a long time to figure out how to pet a hairless dog, but I really like them. K. Dawn loves to write so much that she just signed a contract for a young adult mystery series. She said the first book will come out in January.

PBC: So, Eden, what do you think of K. Dawn Byrd? What do you like or admire about her? Anything you dislike?

Surname: I really like K. Dawn. She loves the Lord and tries to live for him. She irritated me a little when she let Lexi pick on me so much.

PBC: Eden, if you had one question you could ask K. Dawn Byrd, what would it be?

Eden: Why did you have to make Channing so perfect? If we break up, I’ll never find another guy sooooo perfect!

PBC: If you could change one thing in Mistaken Identity, what would it be?

Eden: I’d make it a perfect world where people never divorce, kids aren’t hurt in car wrecks, and parents don’t have drug or alcohol problems.

PBC: Eden, if you could spend a whole day with K. Dawn Byrd, where would you go and what would you do together?

Eden: We’d go to the lake in my story and hang out. I had so much fun there with Channing that I’d like to go again. Maybe we could double date.

PBC: Eden, what do you think of the cover of Mistaken Identity?

Eden: I love it! The photo is of me in my prom dress. You can’t see my face, which is fine, since I’m a little shy.

Thanks for stopping in and chatting with us, Eden! Readers, it’s your turn! Got any questions for Eden about Mistaken Identity or anything else on your mind? Comment away. If one of your characters would like to chat with us here, send me an email and we’ll set a date.

 

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Summer Meadows Interview (Chocolate-Covered Crime by Cynthia Hickey)

Gentle readers, we continue with our series of character interviews I am conducting. Recently, I had the delight of chatting with Summer Meadows, the heroine of the mystery novel Chocolate-Covered Crime (June 1, 2011/Barbour Publishing) by Cynthia Hickey.

POV Boot Camp(PBC):Summer, I understand you’re getting married soon! Congratulations. What do you love most about all this wedding and romance business?

Summer Meadows: I wish I could tell you. Everything was fun until I found my wedding planner with an ornate letter opener in her back. Now, time is running out, for me and for my wedding plans! I know that sounds a bit selfish, but I’ve been waiting since childhood to marry Ethan!

PBC:So, any drawbacks or challenges?

Meadows: I’m glad I have my future in-law as my sidekick. Not that Ethan is happy about me luring her into my gumshoeing, but he’ll come around in time. He just has to.

PBC: What are your greatest hopes and dreams?

Meadows: To marry Ethan!

PBC: What are your greatest fears? Weaknesses?

Meadows: Well, I don’t really want to die yet. And I’ve come very close a couple of times. I don’t really like Ethan mad at me, and the poor guy does get frustrated every time I get pulled into a case. But, I can’t let someone I care about die and no one find the culprit, right?

PBC: Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

Meadows: I own the best candy store in Arkansas.

PBC: How about pet peeves? What annoys you?

Meadows: Stupid people. And liars. They’re the worst. If people just told the truth, then I wouldn’t have such a hard time finding the killer.

PBC: What do you value most?

Meadows: God and family. My faith is important to me. If not for God on my side, I probably wouldn’t get out of some of the scrapes I find myself in.

PBC:Tell me a bit more about your family and friends. What do you like about them? Dislike?

Meadows: Well, Uncle Roy is a big ole Teddy Bear. My Aunt Eunice is a riot! She loves helping me solve a case. My cousin Joe is a big pain in the … well, you can fill in the blank. It probably has something to do with his being Sheriff, but there’s no excuse for bossiness in my book! My best friend, April, is Ethan’s sister. She’s a gem! And Ethan, well, he’s the stuff romance novels are written about.

PBC: Summer, in your own words, could you tell us a bit about the author of your novel, Cynthia Hickey?

Meadows: She’s kind of bossy. Always telling me to go here, or there, or don’t do that. You get the picture.

 

PBC: So, Summer, what do you think of Cynthia Hickey? What do you like or admire about her? Anything you dislike?

Meadows: She’s actually a great gal and full of imagination! I mean, my second case involved me walking an elephant down Highway 64. Who comes up with that stuff?

PBC: Summer, if you had one question you could ask Cynthia Hickey, what would it be?

Meadows: Can I get married now and live happily ever after?

PBC: If you could change one thing in Chocolate-Covered Crime, what would it be?

Meadows: Oh, I wouldn’t change a thing! Well, maybe have a stranger die instead of a family member, but otherwise, it’s all great fun.

PBC: Summer, if you could spend a whole day with Cynthia Hickey, where would you go and what would you do together?

Meadows: I’d like to go to Hawaii. I’ve asked her to send me there, and she won’t. Cynthia seems determined to keep me in Smalltown, Arkansas.

PBC: Summer, what do you think of the cover of Chocolate-Covered Crime?

Meadows: I love the cover. Isn’t it fun?

Thanks for stopping in and chatting with us, Summer! Readers, it’s your turn! Got any questions for Summer Meadows about weddings, romance, sleuthing, or anything else on your mind? Comment away. If one of your characters would like to chat with us here, send me an email and we’ll set a date.

 

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