Author Interview with Rose McClary

Dragon Soul Press presents an interview with Rose McClary, an author featured in our Dragons and Heroines and Glitch anthologies.


1. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I was five and had just put together some short stories with crayons and construction paper.

2. How do you handle writer’s block?

I listen to music or play games until the block passes.

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

Pantsing—planning and then winging it. If I plan something too far ahead, I tend to get stuck.

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

It depends on my schedule. Sometimes I get very little done. Other times, I can manage about 2-3,000 words a day.

5. How do you handle literary criticism?

I keep in mind that everyone has their own tastes and opinions. What won’t work for one person is to someone else’s tastes, so never give up.

6. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing the story?

This also depends on the story. Some require a lot of planning while others don’t.

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

I enjoy composing the story itself; I don’t usually like lengthy editing and revising.

8. What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?

No matter how much I plan, storylines and characters can and do change.

9. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Anywhere and everywhere. There’s no one thing I can point to as a definite source.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

I post most of what I write on my website.

Author Interview with Charity Ayres

Dragon Soul Press sat down to interview Charity Ayres, an author featured in Dragons and Heroines.


1. How long have you been writing?

I honestly don’t remember the first time I wrote a story. Maybe in grade school? I know that I was working on my first novel in high school. I never finished it, but I worked on it for almost three years before entering the Navy. It was a vampire novel.

2. What comes first, the plot or characters?

The egg. Wait, the chicken? I don’t think there’s ever a true “first” other than the inclination to write. Sometimes, you catch an odd bit of conversation while standing in line at a coffee shop that triggers an entire character dialogue in your head. Other times, you’re taking a Geology class and realize that you could create a story where a random element horribly influences people. My characters tend to drive the story, but it doesn’t mean that the story wasn’t already lurking in the background, waiting to gobble them up. Writing is about that perfect cocktail of mayhem and connectivity between character and story.

3. How do you handle writer’s block?

When I teach Creative Writing or Writing Workshops, I always tell my students this: There is no such thing as Writer’s Block. There is such a thing as Procrastinator’s Block, and you have to decide to get over it. Writing can be hard work. Every time you sit down, you will not have the perfect writing session; sometimes, you have to push through and just write whatever comes out. That’s what first drafts are for. Get the story down, even if it means you spend the first ten, twenty, or sixty minutes of a session writing about everything in your head. Eventually, you will get what you need from writing so long as you just write through it.

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

Oh, I love finding my titles. Sometimes they come from a great one-liner a character says, and sometimes I want something that’s going to hint about what’s to come. If you’ve ever read or studied poetry, you know that the title is part of the prose. Stories are the same way. Titles are meaningful and give your reader a taste of sweetness to lure them in.

5. What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?

I was amazed that writing novels got easier. The first one was like rubbing my brain with sandpaper. It was agonizing, but I learned so much about myself, especially what not to do in my writing. I equate it to running: once you do a big run, the others seem a little easier by comparison. Then, you go out and do it again.

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

I have to admit that every day is a different idea. My brain constantly picks up odd bits of fluff and swirls them around before putting them down and moving on to the next. My brain is very magpie-like. Today I was thinking about the Loch Ness monster as a dragon. Not just any dragon, though, the origin of life on this and other planets. What would the world look like with that approach? Why is the creature in hiding, and is it the only one? If so, how did it happen? That’s a story that could be fun to write.

7. Who is the author you most admire in your genre?

I read so many different genres and write whatever strikes my interest, so this is hard. I love Stephen King’s earlier works. Piers Anthony is phenomenal. Though, thinking about it, Marion Zimmer Bradley was one of my influences. I was heartbroken when she passed away. She was one of the first authors I submitted a story to. Even though she didn’t take it, she wrote me feedback that I was too stupid to take at the time. Beyond them, I could give you a near-endless list.

8. What was your dream job when you were younger?

Writing has always been my dream job. I have always been a voracious reader, and the thought that I could one day do that as a profession? What could be better than that? To live in a realm of my choosing as the hero or heroine so I could save the day and then and do it all over again the next day. It’s like living a million lifetimes or the truest form of immortality.

9. What is the best part of your day?

After the first sip (or gallon) of coffee hits me, and I’ve had one of a million “how to kill and hide the body” discussions, the best part of my day is when I can stop and enjoy a story. I make sure to read every day, and I do writing sprints with fellow authors almost every night. The best moments for me are the quiet reprieve of stepping into a different world and wiggling my toes in the sands of someone’s imagination. Sometimes it’s my own characters and their penchant for sarcastic quips, or maybe it’s following a trail of clues in historical fiction, or perhaps it’s a short story that makes me want to turn on all of the lights. Whatever it is, I’m there for it. All of it.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and my website.

Author Interview with Charlotte Langtree

Dragon Soul Press sat down to interview Charlotte Langtree, author of The Shadow Queen featured in the Timeless 2 anthology.


1. What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember and telling stories since before I could write. I just love jumping into another world. I suppose that’s probably because I’ve always loved reading, too. However, I spent many years of my adult life dabbling in writing but letting my lack of confidence hold me back. When I became a mother, I realized I wanted my daughter to know that you should chase what makes you happy. I couldn’t bear to think of her one day being stuck in a career that made her unhappy, as I had been. It’s not easy to chase your dreams but it’s so very important, and I knew that I had to be the one to show her that it’s the right thing to do. That’s the point when I started to take my writing more seriously, so I guess you could say that my daughter is my inspiration – in so many ways.

2. What comes first, the plot or characters?

For me, it’s always the characters who come first. My work explores and focuses on emotion, so it’s right for me that a character is ‘born’ before their story. I might have only the vaguest idea of the theme for the story but, once I know my character, it always falls into place around them.

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

I don’t know if it’s really a quirk, but I write whenever and wherever I can. As a busy mama I have to squeeze my work into short snippets of time. I’ve jotted sentences down on my phone during night time car rides (obviously I’m not the one driving!), carry a small notebook with me wherever I go in case inspiration strikes, and have written some of my best work with my little one asleep on me. If I get to sit at my laptop in the morning, I have a cup of coffee. At the minute I’m enjoying a lovely Christmas-flavored coffee. However, if I’m at my laptop in the evening I need a strong cup of Yorkshire tea (often more than one).

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

I have almost completed my first poetry collection, which is a real passion-project that examines concepts of love, memory, loss, and so many other emotions through the lens of my own eyes. I am also working on my first novel, which is book one of a fantasy trilogy. I’m in the editing stage at the moment, so obviously I’m drinking lots of coffee and pulling lots of grumpy faces! In all seriousness, I’m very excited about it and hopeful that I may have it finished in the new year. It follows the life of a young mage who’s forced to face up to the increasing prejudice tainting her world when her choices lead her down a difficult road. Why do the leaders of the four clans allow such violence against their people? What secrets have been buried in the long forgotten past, and how do they relate to the current segregation of magic? How far will a mother go to save her child when the growing darkness is turned against her unborn babe? I hope you all want to read more! Feel free to follow me on social media and I will definitely update my pages when there’s more news.

5. Who is your favorite author and why?

This is a really hard choice as it can often depend on my mood. Nick Harkaway wrote my desert island book. Jasper Fforde always makes me laugh. Robin Hobb says such important things about the world through her fantasy work. Cecilia Dart Thornton’s writing is heartbreakingly beautiful. There are also some fantastic indie authors out there. An impossible choice! If I’m forced to choose just one author, I have to say my favorite is David Eddings. Several of his books were read to me when I was six, to check they were appropriate for me to read, and I was given my own copies aged seven. I’ve read them at least once a year since. They are definite comfort reads; reading Eddings’ Belgariad series is a little like coming home. I love the way he builds characters, and I’m sure some of those lovable rogues helped to shape my own character.

6. If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?

I would love to question Jasper Fforde. He has so many brilliant ideas and a wonderful way with words. I would ask what his process is when planning out a new story. The different ways of working really fascinate me, and I’m always looking out for tips to make my own writing process more organised. Included in that would be any tips on editing, which is the bane of my writing life. Secondly, I would ask for his advice on approaching agents and publishers. If I’m feeling deflated, I like to remind myself that his work was rejected 76 times before he found a publisher. Now, he’s incredibly successful as well as fantastically talented. I’m sure he could offer some useful tips in persistence! Lastly, I’d love to know how he comes up with ideas for his Thursday Next series (if you haven’t read those books, you really should!), with a cheeky extra question about what’s next for his most famous character.

7. What are you reading now?

I’m actually in the middle of two books, both of which I’ve read before. The reason for having two on the go is that I have one downstairs to grab if I have a spare few minutes, and another upstairs – I don’t get a lot of time to read with being a mummy, and I never know when opportunity will strike! My upstairs book is The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde. My downstairs book is The Goneaway World by Nick Harkaway. They are two of my favorite authors and I read everything they write.

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

These days I have very little time to do anything – I’m sure other parents can relate. I’m thoroughly sleep deprived and take every opportunity to go to bed early! I used to enjoy martial arts and dancing, and do intend to take both up again when I can.

9. What is the best part of your day?

Every moment with my little girl is magical. She is the absolute light of my life and can make any gloomy moment brighter. Nothing is ever boring when she’s around (even if you want it to be!) The phrase ‘pride and joy’ was just three words together until I had her; now it resonates.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Learn more at my website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Author Interview with J.R. Rustrian

Dragon Soul Press took a moment to interview J.R. Rustrian, author of The Dragon’s Den in the upcoming History anthology.


1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing in some way since I was five years old. I would write three sentence stories in second grade as an assignment and write fan fiction in middle school and high school for myself and friends. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I decided to take a crack at writing fiction. Looking back, I realize that the passion for writing was always there.

2. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

In my opinion, the ability to create a live, vivid character is a good element of writing. Using your unique voice to create somebody that speaks to a reader can make or break a story. What also makes for good writing is a world that you can see yourself interacting with, a place that you will either want to live in or be terrified of being in.

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

Recently, I’ve noticed a lack of focus. Ideas are there, but difficult to translate into words on a page. Characters are also difficult to deal with since I place so much emphasis on whether or not these people are believable and compelling.

4. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing the story?

It usually starts with a premise, then evolves into who is part of that premise and where. I’ll try with an outline of all the ideas in my head, and try to put that into something resembling cohesive. I’ll jot down character backgrounds, world settings, scenes I want to see into a journal that I keep close. Then, I’ll dive in and see if anything comes from all that. 

5. Do you have a favorite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.

I wrote a story for Brave New Girls with a character named Leona. She’s a brainy, techy girl, but awkward and full of self doubt. What I love about her is that how much she has passion for her inventions and science in general, but struggles with typical teenage issues. In creating her, I tried to make her a bit unconventional. Most of her growth is personal and emotional, but never loses that spark that makes her who she is.

6. Where do you draw inspiration from?

I’m a big history fan, so a lot of ideas come from books that I’ve read and classes that I’ve attended. I’m also Hispanic, so I turn to Mesoamerican stories and settings for a lot of inspiration. Real life also offers a rich gold mine of ideas.

7. Who is the author you most admire in your genre?

I’m a big Philip K. Dick fan. His stories are off-beat and give a more relatable view of science fiction that I tend to emulate in stories. Michael Crichton is also great. There’s a lot of suspense and tension that just grips you.

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

I love playing video games, cooking, hiking and watching movies.

9. Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.

I’m a huge heavy metal fan. I’ve been listening to the genre since high school. There’s nothing more calming than screaming guitars and loud drums after a long day.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Check me out on Twitter.

Tighten Up Your Story: Dealing With Filler

One of the problems with amateur writers is that they tend to overwrite their narratives. Some of the bigger and more obvious examples are involving new characters who are undeveloped and don’t serve much of a purpose, a side arc that is introduced, but never resolved, unnecessary scenes, and purple prose used for mundane scenes. Those are the big problems. The small ones are using words that carry little to no meaning to the overall prose or narration of the story. Certain words can be filler too. In today’s post, we will discuss filler words. Note: this is in regards to the narrative, not dialogue. If your characters speak using the standard sentence structure of 21st Century English, it’s perfectly okay for your character to say, “Next thing I knew, this guy suddenly slaps me in the face!” But I show you how this is boring in the narrative.

Why get rid of filler words when it’s just a word here and there?

Simple. Imagine your reader enjoying one of your action scenes of a pivotal battle between a knight and the renegade king’s guards. You write this:

Suddenly, the knight let out a scream as the guard’s blade struck out, driving deeply. He gritted his teeth as he saw three more men unsheathed steel, joining in the battle. The knight countered and the guard let out a dying scream as the magical sword punched through the man’s armor.

Abruptly, the knight heard the sound of boots thundering down the hall toward him, the battle far from over.

Bad Adverbs of Instant Action

Suddenly, immediately, abruptly, slowly, and quickly are adverbs of instant action. And they are useless. Pathetically, unequivocally useless. In the above example, There is a battle being waged. Of course, everything will move as fast as possible. So the words “suddenly” and “abruptly” are pointless. Get rid of them.

Verb + out = filler

Cry out, let out, screamed out, shouted out, are examples frequently used by amateur writers and even some experienced ones.

“…the knight let out a scream…” Why use this? Why not, “The knight screamed as the guard’s blade struck”

“…the guard let out a dying scream…” Let’s replace with “…the guard howled his death throes as…”

I saw, I heard, I knew, I kicked butt

The words “saw” (and all its variants and synonyms), “heard,” and “knew” are useless words in about 99% of all cases.

“….the knight gritted his teeth as he saw three more men…” Replace with, “…three more men…”

“…the knight heard the sound of boots…” Let’s rewrite it to “The sound of boots thundered down the hall…”

Here are some more examples:

“Jack saw the man draw his gun.” Go with, “The man drew his gun.”

“Margaret heard a moan in the closet.” Go with, “Someone within the closet moaned.”

Let’s clean up our original example, shall we?

The knight screamed as the guard’s blade struck, driving deeply. He gritted his teeth as three more men unsheathed steel, joining in the battle. He countered, the guard howling his death throes as the magical sword punched through the man’s armor.

The sound of boots thundered down the hall toward him, the battle far from over.  

Happy Writing!