Author Interview with Katie Jordan

Dragon Soul Press presents an interview with Katie Jordan, featured in Mistletoes and Mayhem.


1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I first wanted to become an author in kindergarten. Creating characters, dilemmas, and unique worlds, brings an excitement and joy that makes me feel powerful.

2. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

The 3-Day Novel Contest is my kryptonite. I also have a dystopian novelette published in AND MAN GREW PROUD that was written in just 7 days. Writing under time constraints brings out the best and the worst in me. I love it!

3. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Dreams, thoughts, and random recollections are the driving force behind my ideas. People typically focus on the ‘where’, but I think the intensity behind thoughts, and the motivation to get them on paper, is more important. When you can write with fire, you will produce something that lights up readers imaginations.

4. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I am a full-time mombie. Favs include wearing pajamas on every day of the week that ends with ‘day’, hoarding chocolate, and snuggling my mini mes. 

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

I am published in three anthologies and hope to be in a few more in the next couple years, before switching my focus to full length novels.

Charity anthologies are a current favorite.

All proceeds from MAGIC WE’VE FORGOTTEN go to Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana. All proceeds from MISTLETOES AND MAYHEM go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. These are both intriguing books supporting great causes.

6. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Definitely. Finding a writing name was no easy feat. I wanted to use a unique alias or initials, but the ones that appealed to me were taken. I kept it old school and stuck to using my first and last name.

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

I used to aim for originality but am starting to understand the importance of delivering content for the readers. Writing character flaws is something I enjoy, but it’s not always what readers want. I am working on a women’s fiction novel where the MC is vilified for all the wrong reasons and continually responds with unrelenting determination and strength. It’s my own personal challenge to give readers everything they want, including a strong female MC and ample opportunities for conflict.

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

Who wasn’t giddy when they heard the stories of Stone Soup, The Little Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, or Strega Nona? Listening to stories as a child was my favorite. Those stories belonged to a world I wanted to be part of.

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

Many! My works in progress include fantasy, science fiction, women’s fiction, and NA novels. I would like larger blocks of time to give these the final editing they deserve, so it will be at least two years before I’m able to complete and query these. (Maybe earlier for the fantasy book).

10. Where can readers learn more about you? 

On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, and my website.

5 Tips for NaNoWriMo Preptober

If you reach out to the NaNoWriMo community, you will receive plenty of support to get you through the writing craze. Let the creativity flow and have fun!

1. Schedule

To make sure you meet the 50,000 word count requirement at the end of the thirty days, there are different approaches. You may plan to write 1,667 words daily, but the most important thing to remember is that life happens. Try to plan your schedule as neatly and accurately as possible while designating some additional time for the unexpected.

2. Outline

Having an outline (no matter how rough) will help prevent the need for brainstorming timeline events and alleviates rewrites. For our pantsers, a handful of sentences ordered chronologically is a great start.

3. Organize

If you have scribbled notes or multiple documents everywhere, condense and organize them. This way looking up information you need to refer back to (character/location descriptions, etc.) is quick and easy. This refers to your workspace as well. Clear the area of anything you will not need during the process.

4. Tasks

To avoid overworking or guilting yourself about other projects, aim to complete any immediate unrelated tasks that will interfere with NaNoWriMo.

5. Mindset

You can prepare your schedule and workspace, but your mindset will be the most important tool to achieve your goal. Remember to turn off your inner editor. It’s easy to edit a full page versus a blank one. Most importantly, remember to breathe. There will be plenty of time after to edit and mold the story into perfection. NaNoWriMo is solely to meet the 50,000 word count mark within thirty days.

Author Interview with Barend Nieuwstraten III

Dragon Soul Press presents an interview with Barend Nieuwstraten III. He is featured in the following DSP anthologies: All Dark Places 2, All Dark Places 3, Lethal Impact, Wolf Night, Imperial Devices, Spirit, Valiance, Space Bound, Extinct Worlds, Timeless 2.


1. What inspired you to start writing?

I always wanted to write, flirting with it over the years between other creative pursuits. I suppose it came in waves. But the first big push came from reading the Silmarillion by Tolkien. I didn’t realise that stories could be so colossal in scope until I took that epic tale in. That was when I really knew I wanted to build my own word.

2. How do you come up with the titles to your books?

Hard to break down to a process but I like to keep them short, simple, and inviting. Matter of fact but seasoned with intrigue. Usually dangling more information than they might appear to. It’s not a rule as such, but I seem to have an aversion to using in-world pronouns in them for mostly intangible reasons. I suppose I just feel they belong strictly inside the book. They have no context until you start reading. But then neither do the titles I choose, so a proper explanation is probably buried somewhere in my subconscious.

3. What comes first, the plot or characters?

Characters. Typically, I have no idea where I’m going or what’s going to happen when I start writing. I’m as much on the adventure as anyone who reads it, so I at least need to know who I’m travelling with before I take a step into the unknown.

4. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

The sitting: I’m a terrible slouch. I seem to subtly slip into it without noticing as I work and don’t realise until I’m in terrible pain.

Also, a wandering mind. As I’m always working on multiple things, cross-inspiration can spark at inconvenient moments.

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

So much and often during. The more stories I write, the more of my world exists. I once worked out that for one specific scene, I created and utilized support documents on various categories that together totalled enough words to create a 260-page paperback. There are so many other files and they keep growing in number and content. Before writing ‘Sackcloth and Silver’ for the Wolf Night anthology, I ended up creating an 800-word document on lycanthropy, just so I’d know what the rules were. I find it strange that the part of me that wanted to write the story refused to budge until the word building part of me quickly made up the rules, as if they already solidly existed in my subconscious and needed to be extracted so that I could read and religiously follow them.

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

Four. I’ve written the first two books of a seven-book series and two stand-alone novels. I’m still working on them, but the series is my first love. It’s a project I’ve put on hold to focus on shorter stories for now and I’m very anxious to get back to it. The scale of it is quite large and has multiple perspectives (where my other novels have one). In my mind the series is just one long story, so even though its only two sevenths complete, that’s the one my heart’s tied to.

7. Who is your favorite character?

There’s a monk in my series named Adbry, who always makes me laugh. I hadn’t intended him to be the comic relief, but he just seemed to naturally find his way there. Even though I’m writing it, I’m just surprised by what he says. I’ve even had to censor him a couple times, because he was in danger of undermining the tone of certain scenes.

8. How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?

For someone who makes it up as he goes along, a surprisingly large pile of ideas haunts my ‘to do’ list.

One I’m excited about is the humorous misadventures of a man who’s dragged out to the woods to be murdered by a gang for unpaid debts but reasons his way out of it, only to end up getting arrested elsewhere, then pressganged onto a pirate ship. I’m curious to see what happens to him.

9. Who is your favorite author and why?

I think I have to go with Douglas Adams. I admire the rare intelligence and insight that went into his work. Though used primarily for comedic purposes, he skilfully deconstructed societal norms to expose them for the absurdities they truly were. I think so much of the great philosophy of our age is hidden in humour.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

On Facebook, Twitter, or at my blog.


Bonus questions:

a. What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?

Terry Pratchett. Every beat a story should have is in every story he ever wrote. I think those who work primarily in comedy have the best understanding of what’s most important. Like seeing a little more of the spectrum. While the Discworld books are very satirical, the characters, their relationships, the balance of how everything in the world works, are rich and deep and somehow believable, no matter how absurd things get. How someone could be so wilfully ridiculous and well grounded at the same time is precisely the essence of what every fantasy author needs to possess. Even in the darkest corners of the genre.

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

Adding to my future workload by creating cover art for books I haven’t written yet. I sometimes storyboard films. I’m also a musician, working under fourteen different projects. I’m obsessed with Belgian and German beers, though I hardly drink now, and adore old and new British comedy as well old (especially Italian) horror films. I also squeeze in a bit of gaming when sufficient peer pressure is applied.

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

Humorous, Verbose, Distracted.

Author Interview with E.A. Robins

Dragon Soul Press interviews E.A. Robins, one of the authors featured in Spirit.


1. When did you start writing?

I’ve always written. Not always well, obviously, but it’s something I’ve always done. When I was a child, I’d write stories and illustrate them, staple them together and show my parents. When I was a teenager I wrote/created an excess of personal journals. And, when I went to university, I majored in a writing field.

2. How do you handle writer’s block?

Honestly, I just keep writing. Eventually, you find a way through the problem. The answer is there, you’ve just got to keep working until it becomes evident. I’ve often likened writing to painting, which is also something I enjoy. In painting, the first layer is never the final picture. The more you paint (write) the more detail is added, the more precise and lovely the work becomes and more often than not, there are things discovered in the process that were never part of the original concept.

3. What comes first, the plot or characters?

It’s always been characters. A story is a path, but the character is the one that walks it and if there isn’t something that draws you to that person/creature than it’s hard to be interested in where they are or where they are going.

4. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Creating the everyday habit. Not giving up. My background is actually in poetry, which is lightning and flash floods compared to the farming process of prose. For me, short stories and novel length works have been a lesson in patience and perseverance.

5. What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?

If the stars had aligned, Ursula K. Le Guin.
There are so many authors I admire, but Le Guin really embodies everything I would like to be become as an author. Her work is genuinely entertaining and transportive while addressing real world political and social issues. It’s story telling with a message without distraction from narrative or style. It’s poetry, and it’s powerful and important.

6. How do you handle literary criticism?

I welcome criticism. The constructive and the deconstructive both allow me to access how others perceive what I create and I find that very useful for growth. It is a process of sifting through what they’ve offered and retaining what might be useful for current or future projects.

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

This varies, depending on the project and how long it’s been fermenting in my head. Though, in general, I think ‘world building’ is a trap because there is a never ending amount of detail to be created and endless paths down which one might get lost, often willingly. The exercise here is to build only as much as is needed to further narrative.

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

I’ve only written one novel so far, Scion of the Oracle, due to be published sometime this fall (2021). It was written for Of Metal and Magic Publishing’s CORE fantasy world of Soria and was an interesting first project. There were structural constraints, as well as a good bit of in-house research. Meaning, there were a lot of details and history of the established story-verse that I needed to locate and include in my manuscript. It was geeky and fun and I think great practice for my DSP short story, “The Berlin Assignment”, which has a real world historical setting. 

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

Well, I have a full time job, so that tends to keep me pretty busy. I love to travel, but haven’t had the opportunity in about a year due to Covid. I read voraciously. I paint from time to time and sketch when the mood strikes. I like jig-saw puzzles and playing poker. I enjoy adult beverages and Netflix binges. I’m almost always listening to music and I love to drive.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Facebook, Instagram, and my website.

The Good Short Story Tips and Tricks: Hook and Pacing

DSP typically plans and produces six to twelve anthologies a year with a short story word count ranging from 5k to 15k words. Technically, there is no sole right way to write a short story, but there are a lot of wrong ways. However, we’ll focus on a couple of methods used to entice your reader and get them hooked on your story for the next twenty to forty pages.

Let’s assume you know the components for proper characterization, tension, theme, POV, etc. For a good short story, you only need to place heavy emphasis on two aspects of your story; a good hook and your scenes moving at a face pace toward the climax.

The Hook

The hook is the opening line or scene to ensnare your reader. It’s a statement that makes them develop an interest in your story right off the bat. For a short story, you want them vested in your tale from the very beginning because you don’t have a lot of words to develop your character or theme. There are several easy ways to write a hook that will have your reader jump into your story; in media res, mystery, and disturbing.

In medias res means, “in the middle of the action”. Instead of starting out those teenagers having sex by the lake and then getting killed one-by-one by the psychopath in a hockey mask, you start the story with one of them running for his life while being chased by the psychopath. In my story, Malicyne’s Puzzle, the hook took place with a battle between a pirate ship and a naval frigate. Thela’s Angel started with poor Thela getting beaten to a pulp by her husband in the inn. Daughter of Darkness starts the story with the holy knight, Rhain, landing a killing blow through a demon lord’s heart in the temple of night elves dedicated to the worship of the Tri-Headed Queen.

Mystery is a very common mechanism. You start out with a profound statement or an enigma for your story. In my book, Fallen From the Stars, it opens with the following:

“Come with me.”

A gunshot rang out, followed by a woman’s scream and the world turned to utter darkness. That’s all I can remember.

Was the main character shot? What happened? Who said, “Come with me?” Readers don’t find out until Chapter 12 Bad Memories, but in a short story, you reveal the mystery of the hook usually at the climax or at the end.

Disturbing is a less common one but is great for grimdark fantasy, horror, or something in which you’re going for shock value. It makes your reader shout, “WTF did I just read?!?” and then they are compelled to read on just to figure out why you wrote that. The Disturbing method will typically contain triggers (again, for shock value).

A word of warning about using the Disturbing method – know your audience. If you’re a fantasy writer who typically writes YA epic fantasy and you want to try your hand at grimdark fantasy, your loyal fans are in for a rude awakening. Secondly, a lot of publishers have a “no graphic [anything]” rule (or rules on certain triggers in general), so don’t violate submission guidelines by writing something that will make people wonder if you’re sane or turn your editor off to you.

Pacing

After you’ve written your hook, all your scenes following should be paced as if racing toward the climax. You’re not walking or building up to the climax, you’re running to it. A perfect example of how you should pace your story is by watching the promo trailer for Dragon Age: Origins. Here’s the link (Warning: Violence and Blood):

What did you see here if this was a story? An intrepid band of adventurers on a quest in monster-infested mountains filled with ice, snow, and death. There is the brief pause by the main character, a weapon is thrown from the ice and then boom, we are running through the action building up to the climax of the sorceress Morrigan casting a powerful lightning bolt that lays low the dragon. Did you note how fast the action moved and how it flowed from one character to the next? This is how your short story should flow from one scene to the next, and then building up to the climactic battle with the dragon at the end.

Master this and you’ll sweep your reader up for an intense ride with only a few thousand words.

Happy writing!