Introducing Author M. Brandon Robbins

Dragon Soul Press proudly announces horror Author M. Brandon Robbins to the family!

Stay tuned for news about his novel, Mr. Haunt.


What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always enjoyed stories in their various forms, whether told through books or films or M Brandon Robbins Logogames. Being that I loved stories, I would come up with my own. I was writing fan-fiction about my favorite superheroes and video game characters long before I knew that fan fiction was even a thing. Almost all of my play was imaginary; I loved playing pretend and I would come up with these fully-realized narratives with my action figures. I always enjoyed creative writing assignments in school and tended to do well on them. When people asked me wanted I wanted to do when I grew up, I would tell them that I wanted to be a writer. When I got to college, I decided to major in English with the intention of writing professionally. I’ve continued to be inspired anew throughout the years, as writing is frustrating and far too easy to give up on. Whenever I step away from writing, I always come back because I remember how nourishing and exciting the act of creating is, so ultimately I would say that’s what inspired me to write: the agency that comes with creating your own worlds and characters is freeing and empowering. That’s something I knew as a child and something I remind myself of constantly as an adult.

How long have you been writing?

I would say I’ve been writing serious since my sophomore year of college. That’s when I started sending out submissions to publications and started writing a novel. So, about seventeen years or so. There have been long spans of time that I’ve set writing aside, such as when I was in graduate school or earning my teaching certification, but I’ve always been writing at least a little bit since I was about twenty. For a long time, I wrote a column for Library Journal on video games and libraries. I’ve also written graphic novel reviews for them and have contributed to a book on games in libraries. It’s hard to think of a time that I wasn’t writing something.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Write the story that’s inside of you. I struggled so much trying to write for a particular market or chase a certain trend, but when I’ve just sat down and followed those crazy ideas that come into my head at 2:00 AM, I’ve done my best writing. You’ll get good enough to write on demand and follow a prompt so you can submit to a specific anthology or take advantage of what’s popular at the moment. But if you’re just starting out, trust in your ideas and see them through to the end.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Finishing. Coming up with great ideas is easy. Coming up with great endings is not. More often than not, I’ve written myself into a corner because I’ve gone down the rabbit hole with a certain idea and didn’t stop to actually think it through and make sure it would come to a logical and satisfying conclusion. That’s when I have no choice but to go back to the drawing board.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Mr. Haunt is my first published novel, so it will probably always be my favorite! I’ve written two other novels. One is a book I started on in college and finished not long after. It’s really not very good at all. I’m still glad I wrote it. It was a learning experience and a valuable one. I’ve also written a western that I can see being part of a series. I’m just not sure if it’s the first book or not.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Sometimes I find inspiration and sometimes it finds me, but ultimately it all comes with asking the question, “What if?” Mr. Haunt started with the question of “What if depression Photo on 8-18-19 at 7.29 PMwas an actual demon that haunted those who suffer it?” Sometimes it’s a more direct and specific questions, such as “What if somebody lost their cell phone at a nightclub for vampires?” I’ve actually written a flash fiction on that question, and it was accepted for publication in a small webzine called Shotgun Horror Clips. To me, that’s the heart of fiction: trying to find the answer to that question of “what if.”

Who is your favorite author and why?

Neil Gaiman has been my favorite author for a long time for several reasons. Not only is his writing brilliant, but he has such a close and meaningful relationship with his fans and I truly respect that. I remember that his blog was one of the first author blogs I read and, if I recall correctly, he was one of the first to adapt to blogging as well as Twitter. I respect the fact that he considers comics legitimate literature and doesn’t consider himself to have graduated to prose fiction. As a librarian, I also love the fact that he is so supportive of libraries and librarians. He’s an all-around polite gentleman who loves the art of storytelling, and that’ what every writer should be.

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?

If not Neil Gaiman, I would have to say Stephen King. He’s so in love with the craft of writing that I can imagine he would have a good bit of advice for any hardship that may come along; I’ve read his book On Writing and learned quite a bit from it. I imagine a mentorship with him would be incredible.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I’ve played video games ever since I was in the crib, so that continues to be a major hobby of mine. I also read, of course, and tend to the ten pets that my wife and I share.

Where can readers learn more about you?

My blog, Meds and the Reasons For Them, can be found on my website. I can also be found on TwitterInstagram, and Dragon Soul Press.

Introducing Author D.S. Durden

Dragon Soul Press proudly presents a man of many talents, Author D.S. Durden! Multiple titles of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror will be coming soon. Be sure to keep an eye out for announcements!


What inspired you to start writing?

As a kid, I was always artistically-inclined, which ranged across many mediums. The English language was always my best subject in school and I had this uncanny ability to get significantly better at writing every time I took a long hiatus from it. Drawing was my focus for most of my life, but writing had the ability to convey things that my art couldn’t. Anywhere from big details to the more fiddly things—I can’t draw without also writing in some form or fashion. They work together in tandem and probably always will for me.

What comes first, the plot or characters?

It wildly depends on the story. Sometimes I’ll just be sitting in my house and come up with some amazing plot that randomly flashes through my mind and I immediately start taking some weird, vague notes. Other times, I’ll see something and the concept of a character starts brewing in my mind. However, most of the time, I create stories around cool characters I spontaneously made.DSD_logo_noshine3

What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?

Success is the accomplishment of some goal or a general feeling of accomplishment, in my opinion. Realistically I’m pretty financially-driven and always have been, but I feel like money-success is a different beast that can run alongside the “other” success. I don’t have a name for the “other” success, but basically, I want to be able to create what I want, share it with others, and have my creations be genuinely well-loved. I feel like that’s the big thing. Money-success is always nice, but if I hate what I create, it pays for groceries but doesn’t feed my soul.

How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?

Oh, gods…most of it. At best, I’ll write a few scenes, but I worldbuild obsessively and frequently get stuck in a story if I don’t have the general setting mapped out perfectly. It both makes me a better writer and stifles me, if I’m being honest. Sometimes I just want to write this cool fight scene, but I have to name the continent first because one character references it during the intense dialogue. It’s crazy.

Who is your favourite character?

Of my work or other people’s works? I’m a huge nerd so that’s gonna be left for another interview… As for my characters, definitely Daryn. He’s just this terribly troubled guy who’s gone through a bunch of really wild stuff but he always makes it by, either through his own power or by his close-knit circle. For a while he’s motivated by a lot of “salt” and spite, but it eventually transforms into a journey of progression and betterment. He starts taking the wrong path and he has to pull himself back out. He acknowledges the horrors in his mind and wants to do better than that. But Daryn’s not a hero. He’s just the protagonist of his own life.

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written?

More than thirty but less than a hundred.

 

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?

Admittedly, I don’t really read that much, so there’s no author I’m aware of that I’d want to be mentored by. However, I would love to sit down with Yoko Taro the director/scenario writer of the video game series Nier. I just want to ask him a million questions, pick his brain, and learn a thing or two. He’s quirky and kind of reclusive and I really relate to that.

Favourite artist and favourite song?

I follow a ton of artists online so it’s a very difficult question for me. But one that comes to mind is Boris Groh. I don’t know a lot about them, but their art is phenomenal, creepy, surreal, and kind of everything I want to embody in my more dark work. Just a bunch of bones, machines, and ominous creatures. Some of which look terrifying but kind of have this essence that maybe they aren’t so bad. I love that.
As for song, that’s probably the hardest question of all. My favorite song varies week to week. But musicians, I love Joji, Celldweller, and Excision. Those are my top three. I listen to a lot of electronic, drum & bass, and lo-fi hip-hop.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Weird. Creative. Outcast.

Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

I’m currently working on a website and making my other social media accounts more active, but for right now the best way to follow me and my work is Facebook.

Author Interview with C.L. Williams

Dragon Soul Press sat down to interview Author C.L. Williams!

With a goal of 35 publications within one year, it seems nothing can stop him!


 

How many hours a day do you write?

I don’t normally go by hours. I set a daily goal of 2,000 words. If I feel I can do more than that, I keep going. If I need to stop then I stop.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Usually both. On days when I devote my entire day solely to writing, I am usually proud of how much I get done, but by the end of the day, my bed is calling me.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

The internet. Like many other authors, I’ll go online to look up something for a story or a clever word to use in a poem. Next thing I know I’m checking Facebook or watching stupid videos on Youtube.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

It varies. After writing several poetry books, I was asked to be more personal with my poems and I obliged. After that, I was asked if I could write more uplifting or positive poems and I also obliged. Right now, I’m expanding into fiction and I’m just writing in other genres to see if I can write a good story in a specific genre.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

Unless they are writing nonfiction or something like analytics, then no.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Things do improve. It takes time (something my younger self will despise) but you will see improvements!

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Last year, I backed a Kickstarter for a comic con near me and my tier was to be a vendor at said comic con. Not only did I make my money back from selling books, but I managed to meet a lot of incredible people, learned a lot about presenting myself to the public, and I did a lot of networking. There were also people there that run other conventions and I was asked to be part of them. Also, you’d be surprised how many people will buy poetry books at comic cons.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

When I was a teenager, I wrote an anti-suicide poem. Little did I know, a friend of mine was having some problems and cried after reading it. That friend is now a husband and father.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I currently have three unpublished books, all planned for release later this year. I managed to release five books in 2018. I know I can release three more this year (I released a novella in February). No half-finished books, but I have several ideas written in my notebook or the notes app in my phone.

Where can readers learn more about you?

Learn more about me through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and my website.

 

Pitfalls to Avoid: Mary Sue Characters

You: “Oh man, people are going to love my female MC. She’s a total badass!”

Friend: “Why?”

You: “Because she has all sorts of magic at her disposal, she can fight with swords, she’s got a genius-level IQ, and she’s beautiful. Guys just swoon for her, but she’s a virgin, saving herself for her True Love.”

Friend: Rolls eyes. “Of course. What does she do?”

You: “I’ve got a whole series of books planned. She’s from a fantasy world, but she’s transported to our world in the 21st Century. She then learns about guns while wielding magic. She has to fight Neo-Nazis, werewolves, evil corporations, and gives a speech at the U.N. on women’s rights. She doesn’t need a man to save her.”

Friend: Sighs…loudly. “That’s it? What’s her flaw?”

You: “Umm…flaw? Oh yeah, she was abused a lot by her parents. She doesn’t know how to love. She can’t decide from the six men who are chasing after her, but she can’t let a man in her life though she did have some girlfriends with some buxom elves and hot shifters. She–“

Friend: “Stop! Just…stop. I have a major headache now and I need a drink.”

What did I describe to you? If you guessed that the author had created a Mary Sue character, you’re right. What is a Mary Sue? I won’t get into the origins of such a character (but you can read about it here), but they are a very powerful, virtually flawless character who overcomes any obstacle in the story. Ultimately, they are boring characters because they will plow through every scene by their sheer will alone.

I write this post because if you’re an indie author or an amateur writer who is looking to publish, this is a very common mistake to create a main character who can do everything. Trust me, as I write this, I’m not writing this from a pedestal looking down upon you. I’m guilty as charged as well and this post is also for me as well (I have a few characters in my Rise of Evil Series that I need to take a hard look at and pare them down a bit).

So, let’s get back to the boring part and what you can do to fix them or at least create believable MC’s the reader can get behind. Remember, these are guides, not hard rules.

  1. Outline all the challenges a character has to face in your story. Hand them some failure that sets them back and if you want to make it impressionable to your reader, make those failures debilitating. Say, for example, you have a master swordsman. He is awesome. No one can beat him even in twenty-to-one odds. Now, get him in a fight with a wizard where he loses his sword arm–chop that thing right off. He has to learn how to fight all over again. On top of that, he now has to weigh his battles carefully.
  2. Flaws in the backstory are meaningless unless they come into play in an actual scene. You want to “humanize” your MC with some trauma from their childhood? That’s an overused cliche in amateur writing as well, but that’s another post for later. That trauma is boring if it doesn’t come into play. For example, you have a young man who is sorcerer attempting to overthrow the evil king, but past abuse from his father causes him to freeze up. The evil king casts a spell to look just like his father, and the sorcerer is powerless, just stands there, and is captured, tortured, and sentenced to death.
  3. Make your character rely on others to achieve victory, and make that an endeavor as well. I’m not talking about him leading troops. I’m talking about he needs others to help him overcome a particular challenge. Bob from Accounting can’t see Sue the VP to convince her to fund Project Z; however, Jack, who … umm … works closely with Sue, can slide that proposal on her desk. But as life would play, Jack likes to play both teams and desires Bob too, so Bob has to figure out how to get Jack to agree to meet with Sue while not having to cave into Jack’s unbridled lust (and irritate his constant bickering wife).
  4. Bring the power level down. If you play Dungeons and Dragons or similar table-top role-playing games, you’ll know that your characters have a level assigned to them which measures their power and abilities. A 1st level wizard is no match for a 20th level wizard. In your story, you don’t want your character start right off as a 20th level wizard because if you do, your character won’t grow and achieve a pinnacle of power if you have a whole series of books planned out.

In summary, ensure your characters have flaws purposely created to give your story tension and drama. Your readers will appreciate your MC’s efforts to try to overcome or circumvent those obstacles.

Happy writing!

 

Interview with Author Abigail Linhardt

Graciously offering to sit down and be interviewed by us again, Abigail Linhardt takes time from her busy schedule while earnestly awaiting the release of her audiobook for Revary.


What is the first book that made you cry?

I was 13 years old when “Order of the Phoenix”, the fifth book in the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling came out. Just years earlier, I had fallen madly in love with Sirius Black. I loved him as a character because he was Harry’s only chance for a tradition wizard life and for familial love. When Sirius died in “Order of the Phoenix” I was crushed. I didn’t know that main, loveable characters could die. It was a chance for Harry and it was snuffed out. I cried for days. I was depressed. Changed my life and shortly after I wrote my own main character death.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

A have a couple. The first is too many story and character arcs—I get too excited, outline some and then get fixated on one and have to force myself to stop and outline the rest. This causes me to lose focus on the entire outline. Rather than filling in details later, I focus on one and then forget what my amazing conclusion was supposed to be! This leads to overdramatic scenes, too much action (which is a thing) and no rest for deep, psychological character development, which I believe to be very important. This also leads in to too many characters in one story. Which I try to fix by making more stories and the next thing you know, I have 20 MSWord documents open and no idea where my current WIP drowned.

Second is actually not reading in my genre. I read a lot, but I don’t read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, which is all I write. I end up instead reading reviews of fantasy stories and novels. Seeing what other people like or dislike about a major author. I don’t like a lot of major works, which makes me look like a hypocrite. But I also know that reading in my genre will make my writing stronger and more unique. Sometimes, I just buckle down and have to read a novel in my genre. But then the enormous number of books in one fantasy series always deters me and I stop.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes! I want to write romance novels. But not your regular kind. I love the sword and sorcery genre (think Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard) and heavy fantasy elements. I have read a few fantasy romances and they seem light on the fantasy and the gore. So whenever I get around to that novel, a pseudonym will come in to play. Just in case.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I always try to write the books I want to read. Sometimes that is going hard into originality if I have a richly realized world to talk about. Sometimes, if what is popular something I like, then I will write that. Maybe readers don’t know what they want and I have a little something that might spark their interest! So I can never only bow to the whims of the people. There is also a chance that my original story uses well-known tropes just enough to draw them in. Then, before they know it, they are swallowed up in an adventure they’ve never had before!

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I am not a fan of the ten to fifteen book-long series. I know that my genres (fantasy and sci-fi) love to do that, but I do not. I do not want to start a book and realize that there are nine more to go. It rarely works and a plot can rarely be sustained over that length of time without boring the readers, or changing to vastly it’s hardly the same story it was seven books ago. I write stand-alones and I love reading stand-alones.

That being said, I am writing a sci-fi trilogy and I have plans to expand on the universe of two of my stand alone novels. But making those stand alone novels as well. Jim Butcher did a decent job with his Chicago wizard Harry Dresden. I started on book three in his series and it stood alone just fine. Because of that, I know I can safely pick up one of his books and not be forced to start the next one right away.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I would tell her a few things: One, don’t stop writing, you will make it. Two, your confidence is not arrogance. Young, writing me suffered a lot from fellow teenage writers and I wish she hadn’t. Three, just because you do not keep journals does not mean you are not a writer. I thought I had to fill dozens of journals to be a writer. But I found by the end of the day, after writing a short story, a few chapters in a novel, and some personal thoughts, that I had no need to write in a journal. I said what I meant through stories and that was fine.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

Yes and no. It’s healing for me to write some of the things I do. I cannot leave certain words locked inside me or they will kill me. I do not believe in bottling up something that needs to be said. There is magic and power in words—especially the written word. So I treat it with respect and always try to remember the power words hold.

How many hours a day do you write?

It really depends. On my blog, I write often about being organized and making time to do the things we want to do. My catch phrase is “You will never find the time; make the time.” I am a college professor with a weird and insane schedule as well as a day job as a marketing supervisor and manager. During the summer, like right now, I write for hours every day. I have the time and make even more! I write short stories, chapters, outlines, and ideas for most of the morning. As a long-time college student, I know I cannot sit in one mood for 8 hours a day writing. It starts to get weird, bad, and the prose gets ugly. So I make time to exercise, get up, move away, do grocery shopping in between. My writing hours need to be broken up.

During the school semesters, it is harder to make that much time. I always strive for 2 hours a day though. It might not be much, but it gets the job done.

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

I have a creative writing degree so I forced to think about fiction differently for a huge part of my writing career. I have read some weird books and multimedia novels as well. There was this one interactive, multimedia novel I found called “Nightingale’s Playground” that inspired me to try a project of my own. It was interesting to see stories told through words, video games, sound, and online interactivity. I created something inspired by that, using Mina Murray’s journal entries from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It was not near as cool as I don’t have the computer know-how. But it opened the door to me for things out a hardback or an e-reader. It is very cool, but it also made me appreciate the tradition written word. And I probably like that better.  

Where can readers learn more about you?

My Facebook. I also have InstagramTwitter, Twitch. My website abigaillinhardt.com will be up in September.