Author Interview with Toni Mobley

Dragon Soul Press interviewed Toni Mobley, an author featured in History, Age of Artifice, and Haunt.


1. Who is your favorite author and why?

It’s hard to pick just one! My all-time favorite author is a tie between Sara Douglass and Garth Nix! When I lived in Australia, they were the inspiration for wanting to improve my craft and I have always looked up to them. Sara Douglass created these fantastical worlds with rich history and made it seem so effortless, while Garth Nix perfected memorable characters that have stuck with me even years after reading his books.

2. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I wrote my first book at 11 about all my classmates and I on a deserted island, and it was after that I called myself a writer. But it wasn’t until my first short story was published that I called myself an author.

3. What comes first, the plot or characters?

For me, I usually come up with a plot or a location and then work characters into it. I’ll be inspired by beautiful locations around the world or something I saw in a video game and think, that’s amazing, I want something just like that!

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

Before I even start writing a book or short story, I’ll create a list of the most important aspects of the book, including several titles. It isn’t until I’ve finished writing that I sit down and choose the title that most suits the story.

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

Sticking with my outline! As I’m writing sometimes my characters will change or I’ll decide a location no longer suits the tone of the story and I’ll have to go back and nitpick everything. Or, more often than not, I’ll be halfway through writing a story and inspiration will strike and I’ll want to completely rewrite what I’ve written.

6. On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?

I can spend hours and hours writing, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. But I’m not just writing, often times I’m researching, and I’m sure many people are familiar with researching something innocent like the History of London, England and three hours later they’re learning about particle acceleration.

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

Although it’s rare to find me not writing, I enjoy spending my free time reading or playing video games. I am a sucker for nature and enjoy going for a drive to the beach or mountains. But I’m just as happy at home watching TV or testing out new recipes I found online.

8. What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?

My favorite parts are the people I meet along the way who are just like me, and at the very end being able to hold something in your hands with your name on it and thinking, ‘Wow, this is surreal!’ The least favorite part is the waiting! The publishing industry is notoriously slow with hundreds of moving parts and requires a tremendous amount of patience.

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

The first thing (or eight) that you create won’t be perfect. I’ve written a dozen novels, but it was my third book that got me a publisher. Like any form of art, it requires dedication. It’s a craft that you must continuously work on to improve yourself at. Even prolific authors like Stephen King and Nora Roberts are still learning. Read a lot, write a lot, no matter if it’s an article on particle acceleration, or a short poem. Anything and everything helps you to do better!

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Readers can find me on Twitter or my website.

How Long Should a Chapter Be?

A common debate amongst authors is how long should a chapter be? James Patterson has chapters literally one page in length while J.R.R. Tolkien’s are dozens. Both are great authors. Both are infamous. But in the matter of chapter lengths, which one is right? The answer is they both are.

Let’s look at the definition of a chapter before going any further.

Chapter (Noun) – 1. A main division of a book, typically with a number or title. 2. A local branch of a society. 3. The governing body of a religious community, especially a cathedral or a knightly order. 4. A period of time or an episode in a person’s life, a nation’s history, etc.

We know it’s a main division of a book without even having to look at the definition, but look at the last example they give. A period of time or an episode in a person’s life, a nation’s history, etc. This is literally telling you, within the definition itself, that it does not matter how long the length of the chapter is as long as the scene within it is completed. You can still have a cliff-hanger at the end of the chapter, even if it is a page long.

Still not satisfied that the chapter can be any length? Let’s talk about lengthy chapters.

Do you remember seeing those fancy designs in between the text in some books? Those are called divider vectors. They are a visual ending of a scene for the reader. Vectors help to break up longer chapters so the reader is able to find a stopping point, because the reality is we always get interrupted by something while reading. It leaves an easier place to come back to.

Looking back at the definition of chapter again: A period of time or an episode in a person’s life. Your personal life is not cut into perfectly timed portions. An example — you only meant to stay at that Halloween party for two hours, but time whisked away and you found yourself there for five hours. The same goes with writing. One minute your character is behaving themselves and following the script. The next minute, they’re gallivanting across the countryside with a bunch of Dwarves and a wizard.

Do not restrict yourself or your characters on the fairytale ideals of perfect chapter lengths. Of course for young readers, you should make sure the chapters are easily comprehensible. But you still are not limited to a certain word count or a certain page-length for chapters. This is one of the steps that prevents many authors from simply writing.

So, sit down at the keyboard and just write.

Author Interview with E.L. Summers

Dragon Soul Press interviewed E.L. Summers, an author in the Organic Ink: Volume 5 anthology.


1. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for the last twenty years, but at a young age I only saw my writing as a hobby. I had little confidence in my writing. It wasn’t until college, when I had my first piece of fiction published in the college’s literary magazine, that I contemplated the idea of being a full-time writer. I took more creative writing classes and started a regular writing routine. I wish I had more confidence in my writing at the beginning, but sometimes it takes others taking a chance to make you to help chase away your inner demons.

2. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, but as a child I wanted to write the stories for video games. The story behind the games is what I enjoyed the most aside from the characters featured in them. I first wanted to write middle grade but feared my stores were copying the authors I had read, so I created my own worlds. Here, I felt free to use my creativity as an outlet for my depression and social anxiety.

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

Hmm… titles can be hard to come up, as you want them to be unique while at the same time drawing interest for your readers. Sometimes if I’m stuck on a title, I’ll leave it blank or use something as a placeholder until I finish the first draft of the project. I tend to focus on the themes of the piece and brainstorm ideas. If that doesn’t work or if I’m dissatisfied with the idea, I’ll reach out to my critique partner for advice.

4. How do you develop your plot and characters?

Characters are always the easiest to come up with and I have a templet for creating characters. The template is a series of questions or prompts to ensure the character is well-rounded and not one- dimensional. Most of the time, I’ll be struck with an idea and create the character before creating ideas of what the plot will be. Despite writing several novels and a series I tend to resist using an outline. I’ll have a few ideas of where I want the story to go and write freely around those plot points.

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

I think aside from grammar and sentence syntax, which arises during the editing phase, I think the most difficult part with writing any project can be creating the world building. I have been told that I am talented in creating a vivid, believable world, but I over think its creation. I tend to stress out and spend too much time on research when keeping my world tied to the real world. I think when you’re creating your own universe, you’re given more creative freedom. Things still must make sense to an extent, if you can justify your creative choices for going outside the norms, then it’s not as restrictive.   

6. On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?

Four to six hours, depending on whether it’s a new story or a project I’ve been working on for a while. I’ll spend some time reading what I’ve already written before writing anything new. In the afternoon I’ll take an hour or two to edit any projects I have finished. O tend not to edit as I go while drafting. I find trying to edit while drafting can distract me and lead to procrastinations.

7. Who is your favorite author and why?

What a hard question, I am a mind reader and always looking for new things to read. For poetry it’s a tie between Edgar Allen Poe and Mayla Angelou. They both have different writing styles; Poe’s work can come across as grim and creepy whereas Angelou’s work is flowy and captures emotions and feelings. They both have a way of using words to create vivid imagery. My favorite fiction author is Cassandra Claire and J.K Rowling. They both played a role in getting me into reading and excel at character driven stories focused on a fantasy realm full of diverse characters.

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

There’s no surprise that as a writer, I love reading fantasy, poetry, and paranormal romance. I am a child at heart and love going to amusement parks and carnivals. I love attending art museums and musicals. I enjoy sharing my writing journey and connecting with fellow creative people through creating content for YouTube. I love playing video games, coloring, and watching anime, cartoons, comedic sitcoms, and dramas.

9. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

I am always working on new ideas; hence I have a notebook full of potential ideas, but to answer your question, I am working with my co-author Luna Nyx Frost to finish our Hunted trilogy and began plotting out a fantasy series inspired by Greek mythology. We wanted to showcase how the gods would overcome adversity if forced to live on Earth with a fraction of their power? There are not many stories in fantasy where the main character is disabled and being blind authors, we wanted to help create more representation for the disabled community.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

On my website, Instagram, and YouTube.

Finding a Home for Your Story: Advice on Publication

Way back when I was about 22-years-old, I took a poetry class that changed my writing forever. I’m by no means a poet. I barely managed to write any decent poetry during the class. And since leaving the class, I’ve hardly ever written a poem – except for the occasional one that is born out of a purely emotional moment. But my lack of poetry skills isn’t what I took away from that class. It was actually quite the opposite. I walked away from that course as a newly-infused writer full of confidence and a sense of hope. As writers, we should always be filled with a sense of hope as we tell our stories. And we should always be hopeful that our work will find its intended audience.

That is probably the biggest take away that I received from my professor. She often spoke about “finding a home for your writing.” At first, we all thought she was talking about publication and finding the right magazine or journal to accept your work. That’s not remotely what she meant.

She told us a story about a series of poems she had written, which subsequently got rejected from every place she submitted to. Discouraged, she put them away in a file cabinet and forgot about them. Then, one day years later, she was going through the file cabinet and found them again. She was experiencing some personal difficulties at the time and her own words ended up being exactly what she needed to hear in that moment.

“Sometimes, you won’t always reach the broad audience base every writer dreams of,” she said bluntly. “Sometimes you’ll find that what you created will only reach a few people or even just one: yourself.”

The silence after she said those words covered the room in an impenetrable cloud of thought. I scanned the pensive faces of my fellow students as they digested what she’d just said.

Sensing many crushed dreams in that moment, my professor smiled as she added, “But you also have to keep in mind that your work serves a higher purpose. Everything you pour onto the page is intended for someone to read – to provide someone with whatever comfort they need in that moment. It will always find its intended audience so don’t be discouraged by your words. Use them. They will always be hope for someone who needs to read them.”

To this day, I still get chills when I think back to that moment in class. Every writer has a moment when they defined themselves as a writer – and that was mine, at the back of the classroom, quietly absorbing this poet’s wise words. Yes, we all want to be discovered as the next J.K. Rowling and have our stories printed for the masses, but those grandiose dreams are really us getting ahead of ourselves.

The journey to finding a home for our story doesn’t begin at the end of the road with a publishing contract and an advance; it begins with ourselves. We are our story’s first home. We are the ones who need to take comfort in our own words – after all, they live within us. Finding the hope within our writing will have a ripple effect. So far, I’ve had a couple short stories published and each one was the most honest version of the story in my mind that I managed to tell on paper.

Author Interview with P.A. O’Neil

Dragon Soul Press sat down to interview P.A. O’Neil, an author of fantasy and horror.


1. What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve wanted to be a story teller since I was a child. In high school, I had the opportunity to take a Creative Writing class and I knew I was hooked, unfortunately, an experience in college turned me off not only writing but sharing any of my stories with others. Forty-years went by and when I had the time, I wrote a novel based off of a vivid dream. When I woke up, I knew I had to finish the story.

Mostly, I write because I need to give voice the characters in my head that haunt me until they being released on paper.

Actually, both of the above answers are correct, I just find the second one more intriguing.

2. What comes first, the plot or characters?

Unless given a prompt, it most often is the characters. One of my recent stories was written because one day I woke up knowing I had to write a story about “Moses Busbee.” I had no idea what that would be, just a nagging memory. When the opportunity came to write a science-fiction story, I used the opportunity to put Moses’s to rest by using him as the central character.

3. What time of the day do you usually write?

When my husband was working, I used the afternoon to write, but never on the weekends as that what his time. Now that he is retired, I write whenever I can because he considers everyday a weekend! Seriously though, it still is afternoon, just not as many hours anymore. I confess, I do miss it.

4. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

That would have to be inspiration for stories. I mentioned before how dreams were a major influence, but my dedication comes from my Muse. There are times when I have to, not just need to write. The story demands to be written and I chalk that up to my imagined Muse. She is a real task master with a mean spirit, no slacking here—yet there are times when she takes off for short holidays, sometimes up to three months. She returns ready to work, so I should too.

5. Do you research for your books?

Yes, research is necessary for the plausibility of the story. They say you should, “write about what you know,” well you’re not going to know it with some factual research. It doesn’t have to be deep, just enough that if someone familiar with the setting or activity would shake their head in agreement. Even fantasy needs to have something tangible for the reader to relate to.

6. How do you handle literary criticism?

Much better than I did several years ago. When I first started, I received a rejection letter from a submission editor who must’ve had a difficult day, because she really took it out on me. A simple, no thank you it’s not our type of story would’ve sufficed. It put me off writing anything for several weeks. I submitted the story elsewhere several times, each being rejected, so I retooled it, made it sharper, still nothing. Then I remember the first comment by the editor, “I don’t like the title.” So, I changed the title and it got picked up right away.

The lesson I have learned from this experience is professional writing is a small business and should be treated and respected as such. If my story is rejected, I consider it not a put-down of me, or my work, but not making a sale to that customer that day. I always return with a thank you note to the publisher for letting me know of their consideration and I wish them luck, thus leaving on a good note. Also, as evidenced in the above paragraph, if a story keeps being rejected, go back to what these rejections might have in common. It could just mean they were right all along.

7. How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

My novel, Finding Jane, has yet to be edited, so I can only speak to my collection of short stories, Witness Testimony and Other Tales. Some of the stories were based on firsthand experiences, some on imagined ones. There are a couple of stories that were heartbreaking to write, but these stories had to be told—not just for my sake, but for the sake of who they were written for.

An example of this was “Letters from Jenni.” I had read an in-depth article about using DNA to identify the perpetrators from years past in deaths of children from my area. In this article, there was a photo of one of the girls, the last ever known to be taken. It was a summer afternoon with children and mothers surrounding a kitchen table at lunch time. Everyone was laughing and smiling, but this girl, was staring at the camera as if she knew it would be of photo of so many lasts. I felt compelled to give voice to this child. That photo still haunts me today.

8. Describe your perfect book hero or heroine.

It’s probably silly, but Dr. John H. Watson, is my favorite hero. I envy his relationship with Sherlock Holmes and his dedication to that friendship. Holmes, by his own admission, was a hard person to live with, but it wasn’t faithfulness he was looking for in a friend and companion (he could’ve had that with a dog) but someone willing to be a brother, a sounding wall, a confessor, and at times a savior. The Watson portrayed in the movies is far from the man in the books. There is no way a military officer, a doctor, and a successful writer could be as incompetent as they made him out to be. Besides, a man of Holmes’s personality would most not likely want to attach himself to someone that incompetent.

9. What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?

The least favorite part is finding the time to devote myself to writing whatever story that needs to be written. For health reasons, I don’t write in the evenings, so that window seems to be getting smaller and smaller each day.

The favorite part, it even beats seeing the story in print, is when I type End. It’s done, the demon has been released. Yes, I know there is still rewrites and edits to come but nothing beats the satisfaction of that first completion.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

On Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.