I Always Wanted to Be a Writer

My folks got me a subscription to Children’s Digest when I was in the third grade and I entered their writing contests.  After that first one, I was hooked.  I loved story telling.  I told my sister stories when she couldn’t sleep, long after we had gone to bed.

In the fourth grade, the music teacher sponsored a contest where you wrote new lyrics to a Christmas song.  I got second prize, but she confided to me that it was really good, but since I was younger, she had to give first prize to the sixth grader.  I was angry at the injustice, but, hey, I was a successful filker long before I knew what it was.  That talent came in handy when my daughter was little. I had no radio in the car and I would sing her songs.  I remember singing  “Hit the Road Jack” to her and she started crying because “and don’t you come back no more, no more” was too sad. So I had to change the words to “and you’ll come back real soon, real soon.”  There were others, and to this day, she remembers them that way, much to her chagrin sometimes.

As I got older, I wrote stories that filled entire spirals.  I made the mistake once of showing it to my mom and the next door neighbor when she was over for coffee. She read it outloud and was vastly amused.  I was mortified and almost quit writing.

I wrote plays in high school.  One, “The Nifty Fifties” was produced and I was the student director.  Between that experience and my ballet performances, it was close as to which career path I would take.

A roller skating accident took my dream of dancing with American Ballet Theater about the same time I discovered a taste for desperate love poems that I directed at my boyfriend.  He cared more about rolling joints on the couch and rolling me in the bed than he did my creative work, but it was an important period for me, and taught me how to access my creative side as well as showing me the rush those endeavours gave me.

When I landed in college, I met Don C. Thompson, Secret Master of Fandom, and he introduced me to science fiction conventions.  I had waited tables at the Denver Hilton during Denvention II and was enthralled with the idea of people who loved science fiction and fantasy as much as I did congregating to talk and, oh my gawd, meet the authors that rocked my world.

Don became a great friend as well as an inspirational teacher and he let me use his Olivetti, either a smart typewriter or a stupid computer, depending on the day you sat down to work.  He taught me the basics of story craft and encouraged me to write.  He told me I would write, just not science fiction, and I have spent decades proving him wrong.

I started submitting way back in the ’80s, but college, doing the single parenting thing, and working made it hard to have a groove.  But I still got some nice rejections from the big magazines and I kept on plugging along.

I have to admit I have been the death of publishers.  Several of my first acceptances were by houses that closed right before publishing my work.  Many years later I thought I had kicked that curse when I was proud to be included in Realms of Fantasy’s rise from the ashes with their 100th issue.  Lois Tilton of Locus reviewed my story, “The Good Husband”, and said “the atmosphere is sensual, fertile, with seed quickening on every page. Well done.”  Unfortunately the venerable magazine died again just after publishing that issue.

In the late ’90s, I started to proof for Gila Queen, a market guide run by Kathy Ptacek.  She knew I liked the naughty stuff, so she would send me the erotica calls for submission.  One day, I saw a call for Best Lesbian Erotica.  I had to read the call twice to be convinced that it was true–the submissions didn’t need to be already published.  I submitted “The Stars in Her Mouth” a story that had a woman making love to her higher self.  I’d had no idea what to do with it after I wrote it, but the anthology would look at it.  And, glory be! Tristan Taormino bought it. She and the fine editors at Cleis Press did some editing on it, and that was my first taste of working with an editor.  Tristan also did signings for her books in tandem with her sex demos in cities around the country and those were a lot of fun to go to.  What a rush to stand in front of people who want to buy your work and shake your hand and buy you drinks cuz you published a story.

I enjoyed that experience so much I had to write another one to prove I was not a one-story pony.  Tristan bought “Farewell to Rain Woman” for the next year’s anthology and later re-published it in her “Best of the Best of Lesbian Erotica.”

I was on a roll, but I still had to prove Don Thompson wrong.  I did that first when I wangled an invitation to submit to Hot Blood XI Fatal Attractions.  Two things happened with that story.  The first was that “Not a Meat Puppet, a Magic Puppet” was the fastest story I had written to that point.  A week for a five thousand word story and Jeff Gelb and Michael Garrett barely touched it. They didn’t even change what I thought was a sucky title.  But what do I know?  The second thing was that when I cast about for an idea, I asked myself, “What would I never do?”  The idea got all twisted up in really wonderful fashion and garnered a Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: 17th Annual Collection.  That question has seeded a lot of stories since then and it’s a valuable tool in my box.

I’ve gone on to sell over three dozen erotic, fantasy, horror, and science fiction short stories.  Then I started to work on novels.  I have a hard time building a string of novels because I write under three names: Thea Hutcheson, who got her start with the erotica, but now works on my first dream–science fiction; Theda Hudson, who flogs her way through the erotica, both lesbian and hetero; and Linn Henderson, who writes the fantasy and romantic books.  Each one bugs me to writer her novel.  Now.

Theda has two novels out: The Pearl Witch, a hetero sf erotic novel; and Dyke Valiant, an erotic lesbian urban fantasy.

Linn has The Bee Lady’s Amulet, a time travel romance set in ancient Crete.  Choices: A Heart Path Book is in progress and features a magical tarot deck passed down through the women in a family.  It will show them their heart’s desire if they are brave enough to seek it.

Thea has a science fiction novel in the works called The Pear Shaped Woman.  It is a Weldon World story and you can get a taste of it through “Waiting for Avram”, available on Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and other fine e-distributors.

I study craft, going as often as I can to Lincoln City, OR, for Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith’s workshops.  Then there’s my fabulous critique group, made up of award-winning authors and terrific people, who teach me tons.  I try to write every day, but sometimes life gets in the way or I fall victim to the War of Art, as Steven Pressfield calls it. That’s okay.  We all do.  What matters is that, eventually, we get up off the floor or out of the recliner and head back to the computer to work some more.

I am so blessed to have had successes in what is arguably one of two careers you can have where you get paid to practice.  Yeah, writing is one, and photography is the other.  I am not a great photographer, but occasionally, I manage to snap some cute pics of Tom the Office Cat.

So, the universe willing and the creek don’t rise, I will stick to practicing what I can do, and concentrate on learning more every time I sit down.

 

Thea Hutcheson

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Linn Henderson

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Theda Hudson

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The Weird Wild West

The gracious and lovely Sibelle Stone is back with another awesome guest post! Our deepest thanks to her for helping us continue our book giveaway. Take it away, Sibelle!

Prudence for print -with trim -300 dpi -CMYK (2)I need to confess a secret. I love Steampunk. I haven’t discarded my intense attraction to writing Western romance, but my most recent book, Prudence and the Professor has morphed into a strange combination of Victorian age, alternate history with fantasy elements set in the post-Civil War era of the American West.

Say that to an agent or editor and watch their facial expressions. A few people do “get it” but more of them will say, “What’s Steampunk?”

Steampunk a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction, sometimes also called science fiction. It is set in a world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century.

Often, when I’ve heard people search for a quick shorthand for defining the genre, they say, “Wild, Wild West” is Steampunk. Both the movie and the televison series clearly illustrate the elements found in a Steampunk. And both are set in the American West.

When I first discovered Steampunk, I was attracted to the reference to the Victorian era. Most of the books I’ve written have a setting between 1848 and 1888. I love the clothing, lifetstyle and proper rules and etiquette of that age. When I’ve set my books, although they are in Montana, they are also clearly in the mid-19th century. So when I heard about a sub-genre of literature and an artistic movement that included fashion, music and other elements that focused on the era, I was fascinated.

So how do Westerns fit into this technological age of steam? Easily, I think. Consider that the Victorian era coincided with the exploration and settlement of the West. There are so many possiblities for creating stories that are set in the wild, unexplored wilderness beyond the Mississippi. With Steampunk, a writer has the freedom to rewrite history, to include magic, technology and a fantastical world all in the same work. The possiblities are endless and they excite me.

So, while my book coming out in September is clearly set in the reality of a Montana mining town in 1874, it expands the horizons of  possiblities to take a setting of historical reality and mix it with all the “what ifs” of fantasy and speculative fiction. In this Steampunk world there are Native American shape-shifters, Mechos, Arc-guns and one rather peculiar Professor who meets his match when the widow Prudence Worthington arrives to become his secretary. That’s when the sparks fly!

Sibelle Stone

www.sibellestone.com

 

 

Don’t forget our free book giveaway! It only takes a few seconds, and we will notify winners at the end of July!

Click this link below to hit our entry form:

What’s a Reader’s Investment?

Writer’s invest a lot into their stories. Time, brain cells, money for all the little extras, and big money for those self-publishing via editors, cover artists, photo rights, etc. In return each writer hopes that someone, somewhere will enjoy their creation. Until recently, I found my own personal writing aspirations as selfish. I thought only of how I could hone my craft, make it better in my eyes, channel those characters deepest emotions and wrap them to the page. I also delved into the potential pitfalls, the fears, and the agonies that come with not liking someone’s work and the inevitable fact that readers would not like mine creations. Then the light came on and I thought what about the reader’s investment?

Oh, it’s a few dollars. For self-published e-books it may be no more then a gallon of milk or a package of Oreos. Better to absorb reading material then Oreos, right? But there’s more to it then that.

Emotional:

As a reader, I’m investing in your character’s life, their struggles. And yes, if they don’t interest me I can turn away. Yet, for some readers we can’t turn away until we reach the end. No matter how horrible or how painful the experience is. Even if we did turn away there are still remnants of the character that remain in our minds. What we didn’t like. What we wanted to change. So even the story that spurns us still retains a shred of our memory.

As a reader, I’m investing in your character’s future. I want to know what happens beyond the last words of the page. I need closure if there’s a cliffhanger or a resolution to the daunting task ahead of them. There’s no stopping at just one little adventure. Do they die old and alone? Is there a happily ever after? I’ll always wonder and my musings may never be satisfied.

Temporal:

As a reader, I’m investing not only dinero, but my hours. Instead of watching television or cleaning my room, I’m sitting down to absorb your world, your words, and your people. For you to command such a precious commodity is a privilege I’m willing to give you for the chance to get lost in something wonderful.

Physical:

As a reader, I’m investing my laughter, my smiles, my eyesight and any other physical reaction your characters invoke. Sometimes this could involve throwing practice or even the occasional tear. I’m submitting myself to physical action at the hands of your creation. It may wake people in my house or disturb those sitting next to me in public places.

At the end of it all, as a reader I invest for pleasure. I invest for memories. I invest for inspiration.

Don’t forget… free book giveaway until the end of July.

Click this link below to hit our entry form:

An Author’s Journey: Rose Anderson

My folks got me a subscription to Children’s Digest when I was in the third grade and I entered their writing contests.  After that first one, I was hooked.  I loved story telling.  I told my sister stories when she couldn’t sleep, long after we had gone to bed.

In the fourth grade, the music teacher sponsored a contest where you wrote new lyrics to a Christmas song.  I got second prize, but she confided to me that it was really good, but since I was younger, she had to give first prize to the sixth grader.  I was angry at the injustice, but, hey, I was a successful filker long before I knew what it was.  That talent came in handy when my daughter was little. I had no radio in the car and I would sing her songs.  I remember singing  “Hit the Road, Jack” to her and she started crying because “and don’t you come back no more, no more” was too sad. So I had to change the words to “and you’ll come back real soon, real soon.”  There were others, and to this day, she remembers them that way, much to her chagrin sometimes.

As I got older, I wrote stories that filled entire spirals.  I made the mistake once of showing it to my mom and the next door neighbor when she was over for coffee. She read it outloud and was vastly amused.  I was mortified and almost quit writing.

I wrote plays in high school.  One, “The Nifty Fifties”, was produced and I was the student director.  Between that experience and my ballet performances, it was close as to which career path I would take.

A roller skating accident took my dream of dancing with American Ballet Theater about the same time I discovered a taste for desperate love poems that I directed at my boyfriend.  He cared more about rolling joints on the couch and rolling me in the bed than he did my creative work, but it was an important period for me, and taught me how to access my creative side as well as showing me the rush those endeavours gave me.

When I landed in college, I met Don C. Thompson, Secret Master of Fandom, and he introduced me to science fiction conventions.  I had waited tables at the Denver Hilton during Denvention II and was enthralled with the idea of people who loved science fiction and fantasy as much as I did congregating to talk and, oh my gawd, meet the authors that rocked my world.

Don became a great friend as well as an inspirational teacher and he let me use his Olivetti, either a smart typewriter or a stupid computer, depending on the day you sat down to work.  He taught me the basics of story craft and encouraged me to write.  He told me I would write, just not science fiction, and I have spent decades proving him wrong.

I started submitting way back in the ’80s, but college, doing the single parenting thing, and working made it hard to have a groove.  But I still got some nice rejections from the big magazines and I kept on plugging along.

I have to admit I have been the death of publishers.  Several of my first acceptances were by houses that closed right before publishing my work.  Many years later I thought I had kicked that curse when I was proud to be included in Realms of Fantasy’s rise from the ashes with their 100th issue.  Lois Tilton of Locus reviewed my story, “The Good Husband”, and said “the atmosphere is sensual, fertile, with seed quickening on every page. Well done.”  Unfortunately the venerable magazine died again just after publishing that issue.

In the late ’90s, I started to proof for Gila Queen, a market guide run by Kathy Ptacek.  She knew I liked the naughty stuff, so she would send me the erotica calls for submission.  One day, I saw a call for Best Lesbian Erotica.  I had to read the call twice to be convinced that it was true–the submissions didn’t need to be already published.  I submitted “The Stars in Her Mouth” a story that had a woman making love to her higher self.  I’d had no idea what to do with it after I wrote it, but the anthology would look at it.  And, glory be! Tristan Taormino bought it. She and the fine editors at Cleis Press did some editing on it, and that was my first taste of working with an editor.  Tristan also did signings for her books in tandem with her sex demos in cities around the country and those were a lot of fun to go to.  What a rush to stand in front of people who want to buy your work and shake your hand and buy you drinks cuz you published a story.

I enjoyed that experience so much I had to write another one to prove I was not a one-story pony.  Tristan bought “Farewell to Rain Woman” for the next year’s anthology and later re-published it in her Best of the Best of Lesbian Erotica.

I was on a roll, but I still had to prove Don Thompson wrong.  I did that first when I wangled an invitation to submit to Hot Blood XI Fatal Attractions.  Two things happened with that story.  The first was that “Not a Meat Puppet, a Magic Puppet” was the fastest story I had written to that point.  A week for a five thousand word story and editors Jeff Gelb and Michael Garrett barely touched it. They didn’t even change what I thought was a sucky title.  But what do I know?  The second thing was that when I cast about for an idea, I asked myself, “What would I never do?”  The idea got all twisted up in really wonderful fashion and garnered a Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: 17th Annual Collection.  That question has seeded a lot of stories since then and it’s a valuable tool in my box.

I’ve gone on to sell over three dozen erotic, fantasy, horror, and science fiction short stories.  Then I started to work on novels.  I have a hard time building a string of novels because I write under three names: Thea Hutcheson, who got her start with the erotica, but now works on my first dream–science fiction; Theda Hudson, who flogs her way through the erotica, both lesbian and hetero; and Linn Henderson, who writes the fantasy and romantic books.  Each one bugs me to writer her novel.  Now.

Theda has two novels out: The Pearl Witch, a hetero sf erotic novel; and Dyke Valiant, an erotic lesbian urban fantasy.

Linn has The Bee Lady’s Amulet, a time travel romance set in ancient Crete.  Choices: A Heart Path Book is in progress and features a magical tarot deck passed down through the women in a family.  It will show them their heart’s desire if they are brave enough to seek it.

Thea has a science fiction novel in the works called The Pear Shaped Woman.  It is a Weldon World story and you can get a taste of that world through “Waiting for Avram”, available on Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and other fine e-distributors.

I study craft, going as often as I can to Lincoln City, OR, for Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith’s workshops.  Then there’s my fabulous critique group, made up of award-winning authors and terrific people, who teach me tons.  I try to write every day, but sometimes life gets in the way or I fall victim to the War of Art, as Steven Pressfield calls it. That’s okay.  We all do.  What matters is that, eventually, we get up off the floor or out of the recliner and head back to the computer to work some more. 

I am so blessed to have had successes in what is arguably one of two careers you can have where you get paid to practice.  Yeah, writing is one, and photography is the other.  I am not a great photographer, but occaisionally, I manage to snap some cute pics of Tom the Office Cat.

So, the universe willing and the creek don’t rise, I will stick to practicing what I can do, and concentrate on learning more every time I sit down.

Rose can be found at:

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Don’t forget our book giveaway!  The giveaway will end at the end of July, with winners to be emailed shortly after. Best of luck!

Click this link below for our entry form:

Books! So Many Free Books!

Well well, it’s that time again. What time? Hammer ti—no wait, back up a second.

Books. Book giveaway time! Yes, all of those books we read over the past three months are now up for grabs for you! We love indie books, and believe firmly in sharing the love.

Our authors have graciously donated e-copies of their books for us to give away. All you have to do is enter our giveaway.

And hopefully, tell some friends. Because let’s face it—we share books with our friends, and that doubles your chances of getting one.

Here are the books up for grabs:

  1. Secrets of the Fae
  2. The Return
  3. Dark Man’s Son
  4. His Own Good Sword
  5. Whistle Down the Wind
  6. The Mine
  7. Gifted
  8. Fit to Kill
  9. Before the Daisies Grow

The giveaway will end at the end of July, with winners to be emailed shortly after. Best of luck, and I hope you enjoy our giveaway line-up! Many of our authors have come back for a repeat blog post. So come, talk about books with those of us that love books, and win some swag!

Click this link below to hit our entry form:

Author Interview: Freebooter’s Chris Turner

We’re happy to have Chris Turner here to talk more about Freebooter and his fantasy series.

1. Baus is definitely the king of anti-hero’s, what were your inspirations for writing the character?

While reading a lot of different fantasy, I noted it was always those characters who were off the wall that got under my skin, i.e. the ones with mischievous natures and a grey area built up around them.  The more these qualities they had, the more they fascinated me…The concept of the anti-hero is a dangerous area for any author to explore, especially in any longer work.  Over the years I’ve had a healthy inspiration of Jack Vance, Alexander Dumas and Fritz Leiber as well as Andy Kaufman in the comedy arena…

2. I really liked the character of Valere, are there any plans for his story in the future? 

Yes.  Other readers have expressed that they too liked Valere.  He develops in Book II, Freebooter as a character rich in experience and stability.  He ends up being a major player in this series, actually as a foil to Baus.  There exists a bond between him and Baus, the main character, that is sometimes very intense, yet always supportive, even though the two are really rogues.  Both are comrades in exile—Valere is the older and somewhat veteran vagabond outlaw of the party, who many times serves as the seasoned voice that stops Baus from completely going off into deep water. Like other characters in the story, the twain’s past history is less important than their ongoing deeds and the situations they get themselves embroiled in.

3. What research did you do for this book and did you find the world building difficult or easy? 

I have always been a fan of medieval fantasy.  As a result, I’ve soaked up a lot of old world facts and figures, similarly no small amount of historical fiction. I researched a lot of old ships for Book II—caravels, windjammers and whatnot, tales of pirates, finding out what weapons they used, how they fought, what was important to them, and how hellish it was to be on those majestic ships sailing for weeks on end, with the law close on their heels.  Oddly enough, a lot of the magical powers that come into play by Book III were derived from descriptions of yogic ‘siddhis’, though more as a dark parody, best evidenced by Aurimag the magician.

The ‘outlaw’ archetype has always intrigued me too.  Robin Hood, as a classic example, is almost ‘too good’ a character for where I wanted to take ‘Rogues’.  I wanted a character that was really unpredictable, one who really had no scruples, who also could get away with almost anything and be completely a joker at times, not assessing or caring about the heap of trouble he stirred up.  This was the glue I needed to keep the reader guessing at every step…

As for world-building, I will be the first to admit that it is no easy pastime.  Everything has to be visualized in minute detail.  The setting has to be consistent to the reader, while at the same time integrating with the story and the characters.  The process is so engrossing, that even while working day by day for a lot of years, I must admit that it didn’t really feel like work. I could dwell in those worlds.  I could see the story unfold in greater detail week by week, visualize every seaside cliff, every wild island, gleaming palace, colourful market, prison cell, game and trick played, sea-battle and skirmish, strife and conquest, rivalry and grievance, and weirdly ironic situation.  After throwing in a backdrop of bizarre dialogue, I felt the package complete.  It was a lot of fun (minus the editing!..)

4. As a fantasy writer what is your biggest goal when composing your novels?

To be somewhat original.  This is very challenging in today’s world of wall to wall fantasy numbering in the tens of thousands of titles.  Writing a story that has a lasting impression and is entertaining is a close second.  There may be a lot of readers who will have a double-take reading ‘Rogues’, simply because the style is unorthodox and revolves around an uncharacteristic flamboyance of language, but that is the price to be paid, in my opinion, for a certain flavour of originality.  And after having said this, I would not have done it any another way.

5. Finally, how many books about Baus and his adventures are available and can we expect more? 

Rogues of Bindar is a trilogy consisting of the books: Wolfshead, Freebooter and Redeemer.  The saga is complete by Book III.  An omnibus version exists.  Yes, there is scope for more continuing adventures of Baus, which I hope to write in the future…However, that is a major undertaking and will require more than a few years of planning.

Author Bio:

Visual artist, meditator, writer of fantasy, adventure and SF.

Chris’s books include: The Relic Retriever, The Rogues of Bindar series, Future Destinies, Fantastic Realms and Denibus Ar.

Chris is also a prolific painter, with nearly a thousand oil art works to his name. He has also been involved in extensive studio recording, guitar and keyboard. After graduating from University of Waterloo in Computer Science in the ‘90s he backpacked and biked throughout Europe and Asia before teaching computer programming courses in Ottawa, Canada. Visit Chris at his website

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Review: Freebooter (Rogues of Bindar)- Landra’s Take

Rating: Nay

Genre: Fantasy

I love fantasy and I love anti-heroes. The idea of an outlaw forced into a situation he doesn’t want to be involved (example: Han Solo) is a definite point of interest for me. Unfortunately, Turner’s Baus the Bold didn’t inspire me. He’s a rogue, a thief, and not a nice guy under any circumstances. Baus is also the cause for his own misfortune and any attempt at overcoming his King Douche crown is thwarted by his own personal desires. The character experiences no real growth in the story.

When it comes to other characters, I enjoyed the swarmy, dastardly crew of the Last Laugh ship. My real interest lie in the one character not given much air time, Valere. Somehow this halfway decent guy throws his lot in with Baus and according to the anti-hero, Valere and Baus had a previous misadventure in the first book of this series.

As to the rest, I found barbarians and pirates with little intellect using words too big for their vocabulary. This threw me off as ‘intransigence’ and ‘incongruous’ and an assorted motley crew of descriptors filled the pages. I will say it created an interesting read, but at times too much description made the sentences bloated and more lengthy then needed.

Finally, with fantasy novels comes world building and I have to say the Turner did world build. The world itself was enormous, and I found it a struggle sometime to keep up with all the character names, places, and histories. But I did enjoy the creativity level with the weaponry, ships and the fighting sequences.

Overall, I think this book could’ve used some stiff editing, plot tightening, and a little less descriptive prose. I will say that Turner has a knack for writing pirates and the nitty gritty. There was some bold writing for sure, and while this really wasn’t a fit for me (I’m really picky with my fantasy) other fantasy lovers may be enamored with this story.

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