Category Archives: Writer Wednesday

Writer Wednesday: Hitting the Mark with Amy Durham

I am pleased to welcome author Amy Durham back to Writer Wednesday! Amy has a captivating new release, Asher’s Mark, a New Adult Romance book. Please check out the book’s description, excerpt and buy links after Amy’s wonderful guest post about doing the hard stuff.
THE HARD STUFF
by Amy Durham
My oldest son is a junior in high school. YIKES! It seems like just yesterday I was writing about him on my website as he was beginning middle school!
High school is a really fun stage in his life, as he’s discovering the things he loves to do, fine-tuning the things he’s good at, and beginning to make decisions about his future. I’m enjoying every minute of watching him become a young man.
When he was a freshman, he auditioned for All-State band for the first time. This is a rigorous audition process – that involves 2 different “cuts” – to determine the very best instrumentalists in the state. For his instrument (French Horn), only 20 players from the entire state are selected each year. He made it through the first cut, finishing 5th overall in our district. Already a tremendous accomplishment for a freshman competing against students who are sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school. When he didn’t make it through the second cut to be one of the 20 selected, he was bummed. So was I. But not too terribly disappointed.

We had a talk about what it meant to do the “hard stuff”. Auditioning for All-State band, especially as a freshman, was hard. He didn’t have to do it. He CHOSE to do it. And choosing to do the “hard stuff” is how we improve, how we grow, and how we eventually “get there”. There’s such value in doing the hard stuff. When we stretch ourselves past what is comfortable or easy, that’s where we find who we truly are. Where, after several tries, we find success.

I told him it was sort of like writing a book. Writing a book is not easy, as all authors know. It’s difficult, toiling, gut-wrenching work. It takes a long time and can drain you mentally and emotionally. But authors choose to do it, because we know that by “doing the hard stuff” and stretching ourselves beyond where we’re comfortable, a book eventually comes to fruition. And with each “stretch” and each “completed product”, we grow and improve.

This idea is true no matter what area you pursue. So… dream big… run, don’t walk toward the things you want most out of life… even if it means you have to do the hard stuff. It’s always worth it in the end!

I agree with what Amy says in her post. It’s all too easy to slip into a comfort zone, doing the same thing day-after-day more because it’s comfortable than because it’s the best thing for us. I retired from the practice of law last year and threw myself off of a proverbial cliff to pursue a writing career. And boy, is it a hard thing! A full year later, I still feel like I’m trying to figure out my day, my routine and truly own my choice. But I can absolutely agree with Amy that doing the “hard stuff” is worth it. 

Back to Asher’s Mark, Amy’s newest release:

Asher’s Mark Book Description:
 
Asher’s Mark by Amy Durham
Grace Ballard has been
in love with Asher Howell for a long time. When she was sixteen, he became her
hero, and she fell head over heels for the boy with a ring through his eyebrow,
a big heart, and an unending sense of justice. But two years ago he left for
college without a backward glance, leaving Grace to wonder if she’d imagined
everything.
With no reason to wait
for Asher to return, Grace moved on, and Asher’s brother, Adam, stepped in to
help her pick up the pieces. But Asher never left her thoughts … or her heart.
Now, two years later,
tragedy brings Asher home and back into Grace’s life. The boy who left her
behind is now very much a man – a licensed tattoo artist, much to his parents’
dismay, and still carrying a major torch for Grace. But two years apart has
changed them both, and the things that happened during their separation may
create a divide that can’t be crossed.
Asher and his brother both left their mark on
Grace’s heart. Will Asher’s be able to stand the test of time?

**This New Adult romance features characters 18 years and older. However, this title does not carry a content warning, indicating readers should be over the age of 17.

Would you like a little preview? You’ve got it. Here’s an excerpt of Asher’s Mark:
Asher

I’m kissing Grace. Finally. Every molecule in my body screams with the rightness of it. How had I ever thought I could stay away from her? How could I

have put so much distance between us?
         I have no answers. All I know is that my arms are locked around her as her mouth
fuses to mine, and I never want to let her go.
         There are all sorts of reasons I shouldn’t be doing this… namely Adam… but I can’t stop. I don’t want to. Something in me shouts I saw
her first!
Two years of wanting her, loving her, have finally exploded between us. She’s in my arms. In my lap. Under my skin. In my heart.
She is everywhere and everything.
         Maybe to her it’s just a way to forget. A way to stop thinking about losing Adam. But I just don’t care. I don’t care at all.
         All that matters is that we are together in this moment.
         I pull back a fraction of an inch, still hugging her close. Her golden green eyes
are glassy and gorgeous, hazy with the desire we just stirred up. Strands of her auburn hair have escaped her ponytail and now hang wistfully around her
face. She’s so beautiful it makes me ache.
         She doesn’t look upset, which is a relief. I thought I’d gauged her reaction
correctly, but I’m glad to know I was right.
         She’d wanted to kiss me just as badly as I’d wanted to kiss her.
         I refuse to think too much about the ramifications of it.
         I run my hands up her back, from her waist to her shoulder blades, pulling her toward me again. Pressing a kiss to one eyelid, then the next, I take a deep
breath and speak.
         “Mom’s gonna text me any minute,” I say, already dreading the moment I’ll walk out her door. But I know it’ll be better to leave now, while things are still dreamy between us.
         Grace nods, letting her hands slide out of my hair, over my shoulders, then coming to rest on my chest. My stomach flips over.
         No one’s ever made me feel like this. Not even close. A simple touch from Grace does so much more than…
         I shove that thought way down and slam a lid on it, knowing that after all the stuff I’ve done the past year to try and forget Grace, I shouldn’t even be touching her.
        “I should go,” I whisper, leaning in to brush another kiss on her lips. “Before she gets antsy.”
         Grace smiles. “Okay.”
         “I don’t want to, though.” I grin back at her.
         All this talk about me leaving, and yet she’s still on my lap and my arms are still
wrapped around her. If I don’t go now, I might not ever.
         I stand up, taking her with me and placing her feet on the floor. I grab my button-up shirt from the love seat, throw it over my shoulder, and turn back to
face her. Our hands find their way to each other, fingers lacing together as we walk toward the door.
         I shift close before opening the door, intending to ask if I can see her tomorrow. On the bulletin board by the light switch, I see the picture… the picture I drew her just before I left for Flagstaff two years ago. Had it been
there the night before? I think back and realize it wasn’t. It must’ve been covered up by the big picture of Grace and Adam.
         Between last night and tonight she’d uncovered my picture. My mind races with what that might mean. I open my mouth, unsure what I’m about to say.
         But she speaks before I do. “We should probably talk about…” She doesn’t finish the sentence.
         But I know she means Adam.
         The guilt bounces around inside me, but I can’t find it in myself to regret what just happened. What I hope very much will happen again. Very soon.
         “Later.” I reach up and push a stray tendril of hair behind her ear, my hand lingering on the soft skin of her neck. “I know we’ll have to, but not right now. I just want to feel this right now.”
         She nods. “Me too.”

         Leaving her right then is about the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I do it, before something ruins what was absolutely the most perfect moment of my life.
 
*     *     *
If you’d like to check out more of Asher’s Mark, please use these handy buy links:
 

 
 
Author Amy Durham
After spending every work day with classrooms full of tweens and
teens, then going home to three boys of her own, two of whom fall into the
tween/teen category, you’d think that Amy Durham might like to leave the world
of teens and young adults behind. Not so!
Instead, she spends her spare moments – which sometimes consist of
waiting twenty minutes for her oldest kiddo to get out of band practice – with
her laptop and a multitude of teenage characters trying to navigate their way
through the twisted, difficult road of adolescence.
You might ask… “Why Young/New Adult Fiction”? Well,
because it’s what she knows. As a teacher and a parent, Amy is around teens and
young adults on an almost constant basis. And while it’s true they can be – ahem
– challenging, they are also full of life, vision, and dreams. And that’s a
really cool place to be.
Young Adult and New Adult Fiction allows young readers the opportunity
to find hope for the situations they find themselves in, find determination to
keep on going, and courage to pursue their dreams. It also allows adult readers
the chance to revisit the exuberance of youth, remember the joy and poignancy
of first love, and recall how it felt to dream with abandon.
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Amy
Durham is a wife and mother, an author, a teacher, an avid reader, and a
musician. If she weren’t writing books, she’d be a celebrity chef!

 
You can touch base with Amy here:
 
Twitter – @amy_durham
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Instagram – @authoramydurham

 
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Writer Wednesday: Marketing Results for Kindle Countdown Promotion

The Akasha Chronicles, by Natalie Wright
For this Writer Wednesday, I want to share with you the results for my recent five-day Kindle Countdown promotion. If you’re like me, you don’t have unlimited funds to spend on advertising. Most of us need to spend our marketing dollars wisely. So many sites make big promises and grand claims. But which book promotion sites work? What’s worth the money?

I don’t have definitive answers to these questions, and what works/doesn’t work for me may work/not work for you. But I’ll share what I’ve learned from a recent promo in the hopes that it will help you when deciding how to handle your next promotion. NOTE: I’m sharing my real numbers. Some of you may sell this many or more books regularly without a promotion. If so, kudos to you! But I’m guessing (based on statistics) that many of you reading this post will find that your sales are similar to mine. I’m also guessing that whatever your level of sales, you can extrapolate my results to estimate what your own experience may be by using these same services.

In this post I’ll focus on my experience with the Kindle Countdown deal option available to KDP Select authors. My Akasha Chronicles boxed set is exclusive to Amazon so I have run my Countdown deals promos with this book. It’s typically priced at $6.99 (already a great bargain for three books!), so discounting it to 99 cents is a serious discount.

I ran my first countdown deal in April. At that time I sold about sixty books in a five-day promo period. That was decent and more than I typically sell in a whole month (my sales are averaging about 20-30 books a month this year on Amazon without running promotions). At that time, I paid for a Kindle Nation Daily ad – I chose the KF-KND option. Based on my experience from April, I decided two things. First, it is better to have multiple 99 cent days rather than only a day then raise the price in increments. Second, the KF-KND option on Kindle Nation Daily wasn’t a very good option (the add cost me $99 and raised less than $30).

For my recent Kindle Countdown deal, I decided to price the book at 99 cents for five straight days. I took a gamble and set the deal days to run over the July 4th holiday. I know that people buy, buy, buy books during the week from Christmas to New Year, but I had no idea if people would be interested in/paying attention to book deals over July 4th. But my experience with it, as I’ll detail below, was pretty good and I’d promo again during that period of time in the future.

I went back to Kindle Nation Daily (KND) and paid for an ad to run on July 2. I chose the KDD option this time (check out their site to compare the options). The result? I had 91 sales that day and reached the top 20 on the Young Adult Fantasy/Science Fiction charts and broke into the top 2000 overall. Though the numbers were good, keep in mind that because the book was priced at 99 cents, I made about 57 cents per book, so the ad did not pay for itself. BUT, it boosted sales over the next two days during which I had no ads/promos running. So total sales from July 2-July 4 was 123 books and total earnings was $71. I came close to paying for the KND ad. It’s possible that KND ad may result in more sales for books in a different genre, such as thriller/horror or romance (very popular genres for Kindle books). Overall I was happy with the results of the ad and it got my promo off to a good start. Bottom Line: I can recommend KND generally and the KDD option has worked best, for me, of any of the other options I’ve paid for in the past.

I also tried two new promo sites during may last Kindle Countdown deal. I’m not sure how I learned about Book Basset, but I checked it out and thought it looked like a good option. I paid $21.99 for a one-day featured author spot that occurred on July 5th. Result? I sold 53 books that day and earned about $30, so this add not only paid for itself but made me a little scratch. Bottom Line: I HIGHLY recommend Book Basset as an affordable option for promoting your free books or countdown deals. I will definitely use this one again.

The other promotion I paid for was Just Kindle Books. The fee was only $15 so I figured “Why not?” My promo ran on July 6. I sold 10 books that day. The results were not stellar, but I sold more books that day than the next two days of the deal without any promos. Bottom Line: Just Kindle Books is a cost-effective way to promote free books and countdown deals.

All in all, I am pleased with the results of my most recent Countdown Deal. I sold close to 200 books worldwide in five days. I stayed in the top 100 on the YA Fantasy/Sci Fi chart that entire period. The net financial result is that made $1.39 in excess of costs! So financially let’s call it a break even. In the world of book marketing and promotion, a break even for promoting a steeply discounted book is a pretty good result. I’ll take it.

But more important than the financial result, I got good exposure (and hopefully gained new fans of my work). As Hugh Howey and others have said, this is a marathon and not a sprint. We need to look more to the long-term than day-to-day results. So discounting a book and getting exposure is a good thing and one that is not easily quantified. (But seeing yourself hit the top of a chart is just plain fun!)

I plan to do another Kindle Countdown deal in the week between Christmas and New Year. I’ll likely try a few new things again as well as go back to what worked this time. I’ll keep you posted.

How about you? Have you done Kindle Countdown deals? What has worked for you to promote your deal? What hasn’t worked well?

Writer Wednesday: 3 Masters Speak About Show, Don’t Tell

In search of inspiration for today’s Writer Wednesday post, I opened my “Little Black Book of Writers’ Wisdom” and don’t you know it opened to a page of quotes that artfully and succinctly address the matter at the heart of excellent writing.


Show, don’t tell.

I first heard the phrase at my first writer’s conference back in the summer of 2009. I admit that I hadn’t a clue what the phrase meant. And though I heard it repeatedly over the years, it seemed that people had a difficult time explaining what it meant.

Now that I’ve completed three novels and penned a fourth in draft, I’ve come to understand the phrase “show, don’t tell.” That’s not to say that I never slip into telling. It’s just less frequent now and on revision I *most of the time* catch it.

Showing not telling is such a vital requirement to writing a story well that I’ve chosen three quotes today to get the conversation going. First, from Anton Chekhov, a lovely example that explains the phrase perfectly:

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov

Have you ever heard a more perfect example of show? The “glint of light on broken glass.” So many of us writers would have a tendency to say, “The moon was shining.” Flat, passive and a tell, not a show. A more adept writer may say, “The moon shone on the glass.” Better, but still fairly simple and uninteresting.


With attention to craft, a master such as Chekhov comes up with “the glint” on “broken glass.” In just a few words, he shows us so much. The choice of words matter. Showing matters. And it’s the difference between a novice and a master of craft. Do this in every sentence for an entire novel and you’ll writer a novel that readers are excited to read.

But wait, here’s another one to hit the point home.

“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.” – Mark Twain

Sometimes we talk about “on camera” and “off camera.” Novice writers often “tell” us what happened “off camera” rather than bringing it “on camera” and showing the reader the action. I’m guilty of that. And it’s a writing style that can quickly bore the shit out of the reader rather than engage the reader.

Anyone call “tell” stories (even your Uncle Fred who rambles on and on at family get-togethers). Anyone cal tell, but it takes practice, failure, re-writing, writing, and more practice to learn how to “show” a story (and if everyone could do it, then even your Uncle Fred would be a best-selling author). If the action is worth mentioning, considering putting it “on camera” rather than telling the reader what happened off camera.

The last quote today (remember I promised your three) is from E.L. Doctorow:

“Good writing it supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” – E.L. Doctorow

Take a moment to let that sink in.

“. . . the feeling of being rained upon.”

What does it feel like to rained upon? And when he speaks of feeling, does he refer solely to the physical sensation of rain upon the body? Or is there an internal emotion that arises upon being rained upon? Take a moment to consider how you can show both a physical feeling and an emotional response of a character in reaction to an event.

Have you even read a poem or a part of a novel that made you feel as if you lived what the character(s) experienced? If you have, chances are that the writer did a great job of showing rather than telling. The writer made you feel the rain. Wasn’t it wonderful?

Have you found it difficult to see in your own writing when you tell rather than show? Do you think there are times when it’s okay to tell rather than show? Do you have a quote or example of show, don’t tell?

Writer Wednesday: Steering by the Stars

The Little Black Book of Writers’ Wisdom
Edited by Steven D. Price
I got a lovely gift from my sister for my birthday last year. It’s a small black book titled “The Little Black Book of Writers’ Wisdom,” edited by Steven D. Price, 2013.

For a few months it sat on my bedside table collecting dust. But one day, perhaps seeking inspiration to crank up the gears of my rusty writing, I opened the volume and began to read.

I love books like this. It’s made up of short quotes, all of them meaty and packed with resonance. I found myself reading a quote and then thinking on it for a time – about whether I found it true for me and how the idea may have played out in my writing life.

Then I got the brain burst to share them with you and ask you to comment on them as well. Thus was born the idea for a new segment for Writer Wednesday on my blog.

There are so many pearls of wisdom in this book that we can mine it for months. I pondered where to begin? I decided to let the fates choose. I opened the book, closed my eyes, and pointed my finger.

Here then is the quote that fate chose for us this week:

“There is no satisfactory explanation of style, no infallible guide to good writing, no assurance that a person who thinks clearly will be able to write clearly, no key that unlocks the door, no inflexible rules by which the young writer may steer his course. He will often find himself steering by stars that are disturbingly in motion.” – E.B. WHITE


I love that last bit – “disturbingly in motion.”

The more I write, the more I feel that this quote is true. When I first began writing, I approached it much the way I approached learning the law back in law school. I tracked down books about it, read blog posts and articles, and sought out writers with more experience than me to teach me the “rules” of the game.

To be sure, there are “rules” when it comes to writing. Pick up an unedited manuscript filled with spelling, grammar and punctuation errors and you quickly see why rules matter.

But grammarians rarely (if ever) make for good writers. And a child can win the national spelling bee but have nary a glimmer of creative genius.

Then there are the “you should never do this” rules and the “always do that” rules that, for me anyway, seem to beg me to break them. I see “rules” on writer blogs and hear them in workshops all the time. There are so many “rules” for how to write a first paragraph that if I began to worry over them I suspect I’d never writer another paragraph again.

The more I write, the more I find the stars in motion. The more I put pen to page, the less sure I am of the course I’m taking. In fact, I’m not sure I’m steering by stars at all. At times it feels more like I’m on a tiny raft in the middle of the ocean on a moonless night, the stars invisible behind a thick blanket of clouds.

Oh, and it’s storming.

What about you? Do you relate to this quote? Do you ever feel lost at sea in your writing? Or do you disagree with E.B. White? Do you think there are infallible rules that when followed, you produce writing worth reading?

Writer Wednesday Welcomes Author Stephanie Albright

You’re riding down the road thinking you’re on a one-way path straight ahead and into the future. But something from your past comes around the corner and you realize you’re not on one long linear path but a weird, wonderful tangle of twists and turns and that anything can happen.

Me meeting up again with a childhood pal, Stephanie is one of those odd turns of the wheel that I didn’t see coming. Who knew that by publishing my books that I’d not only meet up again with long-lost chums, but that my act of wild, uppity-woman, literary abandon would inspire another to do the same?

I’m so pleased to welcome my friend, Stephanie Albright, to Writer Wednesday. We played imaginary games together in elementary school and now we’re sharing our imaginary games with the world through our writing. How cool is that?

Kudos to you, Stephanie, for allowing your heart to bleed onto the page and bring forth your words into the world for all to enjoy.
Stephanie’s current release is The End. Here’s the setup:
We all have it. That feeling that something bad is about to happen, something really bad. We don’t like to think about it and we never talk about it, but still, we worry about it. Sometimes we can almost feel the Earth holding its breath and waiting. We are all preparing in our own ways. Some have built bunkers and gathered supplies, some have a contingency plan on paper or maybe just in their head but nothing concrete. Then there are those of us who are in the middle, we don’t have a well supplied bunker but we have a stash of things we might need when that day comes and a sort of plan to go with it. We think about how much we will miss things like chocolate bars, wine and coffee and brainstorm about ways to preserve the things we will miss the most. We decide where to go, if leaving is possible and consider the pros and cons of each possible location. The more pessimistic at heart are checking things off their bucket lists before it’s too late and maybe even devising an exit strategy. When Lucy and her sons wake up to a living nightmare on the last morning of their weekend camping trip, they must make the most of the people and resources surrounding them to endure, The End.
Sounds like the sort of Apocalyptic story where people find out what matter most to them kind of story that I like. Stephanie was kind enough to share an excerpt too. Check it:
  As I walk down the beach on the last day of the Columbus Day weekend, I wonder if I am the only one who feels it. Maybe I’m just crazy, but then I see the fear in the eyes of those I pass. Even if they are smiling, it is there, the fear. We all feel it, every person on this planet, but if we don’t talk about it maybe it will just go away. Who would want to be the first to mention it?  People would call you crazy, even if in their hearts they know you are right. So we all just keep working and going on as if nothing is wrong, but waiting for it to begin and wondering what will happen when it does.
     We are all preparing in our own ways. Some have built bunkers and gathered supplies, some have a contingency plan on paper or maybe just in their head but nothing concrete. Then there are those of us who are in the middle, we don’t have a well supplied bunker but we have a…..stash of things we might need when that day comes and a sort of plan to go with it. We think about how much we will miss things like chocolate bars, wine and coffee and brainstorm about ways to preserve the things we will miss the most. We decide where to go, if leaving is possible and consider the pros and cons of each possible location and what to take with us and what to leave behind. The more pessimistic at heart are checking things off their bucket lists before it’s too late and maybe even devising an exit strategy.
     It’s sad really, this thing that should be uniting us is not. It is driving us more and more inward, making us keep secrets even from those we have rarely kept them before. We tell ourselves that our fear is irrational, but we know it is not. When the lights blink, we wonder has it begun. Every storm, or drought or sinkhole or earthquake could be the tipping point, so we silently go over our plans and gather those we love around us under the guise of movie night or dinner or painting the den. Whatever it takes to have those we want with us near, just in case.
     Some days, I am so tired of my job and my life that I wish for it to begin, most Mondays as a matter of fact. Maybe it will be a good thing, a time to hit reset. A chance to make things better. Sometimes out of the rubble something beautiful emerges, something wonderful. But, then again, it could just be a slow painful death.
     We can’t stop it. The signs are there to see if we only look, but we don’t like to look. There are too many of us living too well for the Earth to sustain and the Earth seeks balance. It will come one way or another, the Earth will get her way and we are powerless to stop her. She’s done it before and she will do it again, the black plague, the ice age, tsunamis, floods and droughts. Which tool will she choose this time?
     Everyone scoffed about the ending of the Mayan calendar and made fun of those who were ready for the end that day, but we were secretly relieved when that day came and went without incident. We patted ourselves on the back for not holing up in a shelter, or stockpiling food, water and ammo while at the same time, we knew we had dodged a bullet.
     There will likely be no warning. It will probably begin innocently enough. Some people will get sick and we will think that the epidemic is contained but it won’t be, or a drought will make our already overtaxed water supply insufficient. We will be encouraged to conserve and told it will be okay, but it won’t. Things that we thought we had conquered will return to exact revenge, things like cholera, dysentery, smallpox and the plague. Or maybe it will be a large catastrophic event that will change everything in a moment.
     I didn’t realize how long I had been walking, as I turned to head back I saw the sun was just about to set. I stood still and watched until that magical moment when dusk began, then I hurried back up the beach before it got dark. Tomorrow I was going back and it made me sad because I felt more at peace somehow at the beach, more alive.

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I’m so glad that I got to connect with the old friend through our love of reading and writing. I hope that you’ll check out Stephanie’s new book. I’m off to buy my copy now. Buy links are after the author bio.
Stephanie Albright grew up in Amanda, Ohio. She moved to West Point, Mississippi in 1986 and graduated from Mississippi university for Women in 1989. She now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and four sons, where she is a reading specialist. Stephanie loves Georgetown, South Carolina and much of her work is set in and around Georgetown county.

Writer Wednesday: What’s Your Sign?

Writing flows...

How much time do you spend on character development? Is it an integral part of your pre-writing planning? Or do you wing it as your write?

When I first started writing novels, I spent very little time on character development. I knew rudimentary things about my main characters but mainly focused on plot.
But as my writing grows, I find that I spend more time musing about characters than I do thinking through the plot. Perhaps it is a natural outgrowth of the learning process. While writing my first book, I was just trying to get a handle on creation of a beginning, middle and end. Once you’ve tackled a few plots, you’re ready to take on more.
Or maybe I’m spending more time on character because I’ve now had the experience of feedback from readers. Reader feedback has helped me understand how important characters are to them. The books that we love – the ones we tell our friends about and are sad then they’re over – such books are filled with characters that we love. We love Harry and Katniss. Or at least I do 😉
As I prepare to begin writing a new book series, I find that I’m planning differently. I’m spending more time with the characters than I have before.

While developing my new set of characters, I’ve been having fun playing with the zodiac.

Yes, you heard me correctly. Working on your character’s astrological chart can be an fun and interesting tool for character development.

Whether you believe in astrology or not is irrelevant for your use of the zodiac in creating your characters. The point is that the zodiac provides twelve ready-made personality profiles.
Here’s how I’m using the zodiac for my current project.
Step 1: Peruse a site like Universal Psychic Guild or Astrology.com. Scan the one paragraph descriptions of each sign. Does one stand out as belonging to your main character? What about your supporting cast of characters? And don’t forget the antagonist. What signs are your characters?
Or, if you have already determined your character’s birthdate, does your character’s personality match the zodiacal sign for their birthdate?
Step 2: This is where I think the personality profile of the zodiac can help you deepen your understanding of your character (and add complexity to her or her personality). Have you thought about what kind of mate your character is attracted to? How does he or she deal with rejection? Have you considered what kind of friend your character is?
These are just a few of the questions that you’ll find information on when searching for clues about your character’s sun sign. You may or may not use the pre-made character profiles in full. But the different aspects of personality touched upon can help to stimulate your thinking about your character.
Erika is the female protagonist of my next series. I determined that Erika is a Taurus from looking at the short profiles of each zodiac sign. Here’s Erika in a nutshell:
Taurus 
Your element: Earth
Your ruling planets: Venus
Symbol: The Bull
Your stone: Emerald
Life Pursuit: Emotional and financial security

Vibration: Determined energy

Taurus Secret Desire: To have a secure, happy and wealthy life/marriage.

Description:
Underneath their cool, calm and collected exterior, Taureans differ greatly from all the other signs of the zodiac. Taureans manage to discreetly stay apart from the crowd, even though they have a well-earned reputation for being socialisers. They will let others get close, but only so close as they want them. Some claim that trying to get your point across to a Taurean, should they not want to hear you, is rather similar to talking to the trees – they simply won’t budge. And, there is no such thing as an open-book Taurean. Their feelings, fears and desires often run far deeper than anyone around them would guess. Like the butterfly that chooses to remain hidden in its cocoon until it is ready and prepared to emerge, so the true Taurean spirit remains hidden behind a veneer of day-to-day activities. That’s why Taureans are sometimes regarded as snobby, withdrawn, boring, or even sulky.

The truth is, when Taureans manage to operate very adequately on their own form of automatic pilot, they can switch off from the world around them very efficiently. And when they do switch off, they are actually gathering in their inner reserves to deal with the outside pressures. This sign is also very closely connected to ‘feeling good’. Most Taureans like their creature comforts and hate change because it takes them out of their automatic pilot condition of separating themselves from the world around them.

Because they hate to be put in jeopardy of any kind, this is the sign that strives to create tomorrow in advance, rather than leave it to fate. In love, Taureans are regarded as extremely sensual beings. An earth sign, they deal well with the personal, physical senses and consequently all the pleasures associated with what they can see, touch, smell and taste, add up to a special delight to them. Often nature and pet lovers, Taureans are closely associated with all things off the earth and nature.

A fun way to waste, oops, I mean creatively use your time is to search for your character’s sign on Pinterest. I’ve pinned some things to the board I’m curating for my next project. You can take a look here. This gives you an idea of how I’m using the zodiac as just one tool for character development. If you peruse the board for H.A.L.F., you’ll learn quite a bit about Erika.
This exercise of delving into Erika’s sun sign has broadened my understanding of her – and given me some ideas for how I can express her personality and give her a quirky trait or two. I especially like the pin that says “If a Taurus smells even the slightest bit of insincerity coming from you, they will walk far, far away.” (Via ZodiacMind, Tumblr). And this: “Taurus is satisfied with the simple things in a relationship.” (Via Celia G.) These little tidbits have helped churn the flow of creativity. It has me thinking about how I can create scenes to make these ideas come out.
Of course there’s more to a character than their sun sign. But I have found it a fun way to delve a bit deeper into the psyche of my characters.
What about you? Have you ever created a zodiac profile for your character? What tools do you use to develop your characters?

Writer Wednesday with Chele Cooke and Dead and Buryd

I used the plagiarism checker at Grammarly.com because I’m an original, baby!

Chele Cook,
Author of Dead and Buryd

Happy Wednesday! Please welcome Chele Cooke, a fabulous new author to Writer Wednesday. Chele and I chatted recently about her new release, Dead and Buryd. I’m reading it now and I love it!! So pull up a listen:


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What inspired you to write Dead and Buryd?
I’d had the idea for the Out of Orbit series for quite a while. I’ve been involved in the roleplay community for over a decade, and through a series of different websites I created, this story cemented itself into being. There was a lot of planning to do, and I decided not to write anything down until NaNoWriMo, but once I started, Dead and Buryd was one of the easiest things I’ve ever written a first draft of.
In what genre do you place Dead and Buryd?
It’s a Sci-Fi mainly. I’ve been given advice to place it in the New Adult category, but from my responses from readers, it’s had a good response from people of a variety of ages. I have a group of friends I made through cross stitching. They range from mid twenties to their sixties, and they all enjoyed it. I like to call Dead and Buryd ‘accessible Sci-Fi’ because you don’t need to be a hardcore Sci-Fi fan to get into this story. It’s much more involved with the characters than the technology.
Was there any specific research you did before writing this book?
Admittedly, there wasn’t so much for Dead and Buryd. The research I did for the series in general is related more to the rest of the series than Dead and Buryd as a single book. Most of the research into military, technology, and the effects on a conquered nation will come into play later in the series. I wanted for readers to be more in touch with these characters before I threw the rest into the mix.
Tell us a little about your writing experience.
I was incredibly blessed with this story, it went very easily for the first draft. I started writing it for NaNoWriMo, and had twenty-one thousand words in three days. It was all in my head, it was just making my fingers move fast enough to get it out. I use a program called ‘Write or Die’ which is great, it really motivates you to block out the distractions and just write.
The hard part for me with this project was the editing. I’d never worked with a professional editor before, and while I was sure I had an amazing story, nothing prepares you for a professional edit the first time. It’s like being punched in the stomach. At least now I know to go into the next one with a big bar of chocolate handy.

“Write or Die” sounds interesting – I’ll have to check it out! But back to Dead and Buryd, you created an entire world complete with a history and names for the different cultures. Can you tell us something about your world building?
World building is one of my favourite parts, especially working in a Fantasy or Sci-fi setting. I find that if I ensure my world is set out properly, it makes the story much easier to write. Not only that, but elements of the world can enhance the plot. Dead and Buryd will not be the only time in this series where the oppressive weather will shape parts of the story.
And how did you come up with the names?
The names were an interesting one. I specifically went with Eastern European influences for the Adveni, and there were certain rules I made myself follow, like the i before e rule we’re told as children in English. When you have those, you can predict a lot of the pattern of letters in a word. Admittedly, most of the names came from me writing down twenty or so variations and seeing which one I liked best.
What was your favorite part about writing Dead and Buryd?
Being surprised. I think that’s always my favourite element about writing, when you’re writing a story, you have everything planned, and then half way through a chapter, you realise that it’s going in a different direction, one much better than the one you’d originally thought of. There are some elements in Dead and Buryd that I never expected to happen. Georgianna and Edtroka’s relationship is one of them. I never intended for them to be funny together, but it just happened, and I think it has worked for the better.
What was your least favorite part about writing the book?
Rewriting, I think. It can be painful to be told you need to change things, especially when you’re really happy with a story. I am sure many writers (and readers for that matter) can understand that a novel, especially the first, becomes like a child. You want to think that it’s perfect, and looking at it through someone else’s eyes can be difficult at first. Looking back, though, it’s definitely been the most worthwhile part, as I think it’s really improved the book.  
You chose to self-publish Dead and Buryd. What made you decide to go the self-publishing route?
I was planning on going the traditional route. I even submitted Dead and Buryd to a number of agents. I got some great, positive feedback on it, but it came down to them not being able to market it. In April, I was lucky enough to go to the London Book Fair and meet some fantastic self-published authors. Hearing from them, I realised that going Indie wasn’t something you either did with massive success, or spectacular failure. It’s a business, and if you can get all the elements lined up and done in a professional manner, you have a pretty good shot at reaching an audience. I had the writing part down, I just needed to learn the business side. Looking at it as a business really helped push me to make the leap, because I realised that it’s not as untouchable as a lot of people think it is.
What can we look forward to next from you, Chele?
I’m currently in the detailed planning stages for book two of Out of Orbit, that’s taking precedence right now, as I’d like to start writing for NaNoWriMo. I also have a number of short stories that will slot into the series. One of my favourite elements of fan fiction is when people write scenes  from another character’s view, or scenes that are mentioned but never explained fully. So, between releases of the books, I’ll also be releasing some of those little extras.
I am in the early planning stages of another series, which fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly will love. It’s a Sci-Fi Circus with elements of the 1920s. So, kind of steampunk, but without the steam. Cirquepunk, I guess.
I’m also planning a collaboration with a very dear friend, Moa. She’s actually who Dead and Buryd is dedicated to. Basically, right now, I’m very very busy.
Okay, time for some silliness. Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate: I’m a massive chocolate fiend. Except in cake. For some reason, I’m not a massive fan of chocolate cake.

Coffee or tea?
Is Red Bull not an option? I like both, honestly, but living with four tea fanatics (we have an entire cupboard just for different types of tea, it’s terrifying,) I guess I’d have to say coffee just to see the looks on their faces.
Beach or mountains?
That’s a horrible question. Man, I have no idea. I guess I’d have to go with beach, but if I learn to ski on more than the bunny slope, that might change.
What three words describe Chele Cooke?
Ha ha! I bet my answers here would be different than if you asked people who know me.

Dork – I’m a massive dork… seriously huge. I get really obsessed with the things I like, whether they’re books/tv/films or places. I get really into things and can talk about them for hours.
Emotional – This relates back to ‘Dork’ somewhat, but I get really emotionally invested in things I like. I am a sap when it comes to fiction, and am often reduced to tears. I’m also a complete wuss, but that’s something different.
Spacey – Because ‘Mental Escape Artist’ isn’t a single word. I love travelling and seeing new places, not to mention that I spend about 50% of my day thinking about things that don’t exist. I think spacey works for both.
Thank you, Chele, for taking the time to stop by and chat. Readers, check out the blurb for Dead and Buryd:


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A single life could liberate an entire race, but the life required may be hers.

Since the invasion of her home planet by the ruthless Adveni, Georgianna Lennox’s life as a Veniche medic isn’t as simple as it used to be. When a single infraction against the Adveni can lead to incarceration, slavery, or death, each life saved can bring harsh consequences.

A secret delivery into the infamous Lyndbury Prison Compound reveals that her friend Nyah has been sold into slavery, and Georgianna must decide how to weigh a single life against the risk to herself and others.

Caught between her duty as a medic, her family, and her promise to a friend, she puts her trust in a group of rebels, the Belsa. However, when the attempt to free Nyah uncovers a plan that could rid the Veniche of the Adveni for good, Georgianna struggles with the realisation that the people she trusted may have been using her for their own gain.

Unable to walk away, Georgianna finds herself pulled deep into a web of lies and cruelty that will either claim Nyah’s life… or her own.

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com
Chele is an English Sci-Fi and Fantasy writer currently living in London, UK. Slightly obsessive when it comes to the things she enjoys, Chele fell in love with the Harry Potter fandom which led to her writing fan fiction throughout her teen years. Moving on to original fiction, Chele completed a degree in Creative Writing, and has continued writing ever since. Dead and Buryd is the first book in Chele’s “Out of Orbit” series.

CONNECT with Chele:

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Website: chelecooke.com

Twitter: @chelecooke


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Writer Wednesday: Is Social Media Marketing Enough?

In the old days, a writer wouldn’t have a published novel until she spent years sending manuscripts to agents and editors, and then wait for months or even years to get rejected only to start the process over again (and again, and again – you get the picture) until finally they either gave up the whole damned thing or got published.


Then the writer would wait many more months or years for the book to finally make its way out of the large publishing house machine and appear on bookshelves in bookstores. At last!


And then, in order to get readers to notice the title, the writer would drive her car or board a plane to travel across the country to book signings. Maybe she would get lucky and fifty or so people would show up. But more often than not, a dozen or fewer intrepid readers came to meet the author and get a book or two signed.


I’m not telling you this based on my own personal experience, but rather based upon the stories from writers who weathered the road to publication in “the old days”.


I’m an Indie, aka “self-published”. I have never sent a manuscript to an agent or editor. When my first novel, Emily’s House, was in a condition that I thought was ready to query, I chose instead to self-publish it.


And it was around that time (Spring, 2011) that I began to research how in the hell I was going to spread the word about my work. Traditional book tours are a no-go for self-published authors. Most large bookstores (okay, Barnes & Noble ’cause they’re pretty much the only big bookseller left) will not schedule a book signing for an author whose book cannot be returned (i.e. the authors’ books aren’t ordered from warehouse where they can be returned if they don’t sell).


From the first days of the Indie Revolution, Indie Authors have relied on social media and Internet marketing campaigns to spread the word about their work. J.A. Konrath in his Newbie Guide to Publishing Blog speaks against the old ways of doing book business (and if aren’t familiar with his blog, I highly recommend it – tons of useful information). He’s a veteran of both traditional, old-school publishing and a highly successful Indie. Konrath and others have spoken negatively about traditional book tours and attending festivals and fairs as a waste of time, preferring instead virtual tours.


I have neither the breadth of experience nor the commercial success of J.A. Konrath. But the experience that I’ve had so far shows me that no amount of Internet marketing or social media campaigning will make up for in-person writer to reader contact.

In-person human contact makes a far larger and more lasting impression than a blog post, Facebook status update or Tweet. Period.

I’ve been connecting with readers through social media for about two years now. And I do not deny the power and efficiency of the Internet to spread our message. I’m not claiming that you should replace your social media marketing plan with an all in-person campaign. I have done and will continue to use virtual tours as a mainstay of my book marketing.


But I do recommend that you augment your Internet marketing with some in-person marketing as well. Contact your local independent bookstores to arrange for book signings when you have new releases. Get a booth at a local book fair or book festival. If the cost is high, share the space with another Indie author who publishes books in the same genre.


This March, I shared a booth with author Janine Caldwell at the Tucson Festival of Books (TFOB). It was the first time either of us had participated as an exhibitor at a book fair. We both write young adult fiction and decided to give it a try.


The TFOB is one of the five largest in the country (in terms of attendance). We expected between 100,00-150,000 to show up.


The weather gods were not kind to us. It was two days of cold, wet and windy.
Despite the weather, I had a very successful festival. I had close to 100 books on hand and feared that I’d end up taking most of them home. Instead, I SOLD OUT!


Selling almost a hundred books in two days – that’s a good sales weekend.


But the real success is not in the number of copies sold. The true measure of the success of that weekend is what happened after.


First, online sales were boosted. The months of March and April of this year were the best sales months I’ve had since January, 2012. I had no other promotions going, so I know that it was my appearance at the festival that accounts for the rise in sales. So not only did I sell a lot of books in those two days, but all the fliers and bookmarks I handed out resulted in higher than usual online sales.


Second, I made personal connections with readers. And if you write for young people (children, middle grade and teen), it can be difficult to connect with readers.


I saw middle-grade girls hug their copy of Emily’s House to their chest and beam with excitement about reading an epic girl adventure. The truth is, there aren’t many books being written for girls that age that have strong girl protagonists going on epic journeys. Emily’s House is like Percy Jackson for girls. And they are eager and hungry for it. Another example of traditional publishing not recognizing (and thus not filling) a need.


This one-to-one experience with readers invigorated me. It gave me a shot in the arm of the juice required to keep me going.


Why do you write? And why do you publish?


For me, I write first and foremost because of my own internal need to create. But I publish because I want to share the ideas, thoughts, and questions evoked in my writing with others.


Seeing readers excited to read your story – you cannot get that through a Facebook page. The light in their eyes doesn’t come through an e-mail or blog comment. You can only experience that by meeting them, talking to them, and genuinely hoping that they enjoy the ride that your story takes them on.


Whether in-person or across the ether, it’s all about connection. I have never felt more genuinely connected to readers than I did those two days of the TFOB.


I came away from my TFOB experience with an addiction to book fairs! I’ll be back at TFOB next year with at least one more title (maybe two). I’m looking forward to catching up with some friends I made this year and to meeting new ones.


And then I’ll push off to three or four more next year. I’ve heard L.A. is nice in April . . .

Amy Harmon Gets Down with British Slang on Writer Wednesday

Amy Harmon, Author

Please welcome my guest, Amy Harmon, to Writer Wednesday. Amy’s guest post is a wonderful story about the creation of her new release, A Different Blue. And I love her hutzpah. Here’s a young woman that hails from Utah, writing a British main character! Check it out: 

When I went to Europe when I graduated from high school, I had never even been outside of the western United States.  Europe is very different than the US.  For a little farm girl from Levan, Utah it was like another planet.  I remember my aunt telling me, “We need to try and blend in, wherever we go.”  Of course, she proceeded to walk down the beach in San Sebastian, Spain, in a shirt that said USA in neon letters, wearing hot pink shorts and lime green boat shoes.  Needless to say, it’s doubtful we blended in very well.  I learned something on that trip, though, that has helped me in my life and in my writing.  To truly understand something, whether it’s a country or a person or a subject, you have to immerse yourself in it.  You have to metaphorically “blend in.”  My teacher at the school in San Sebastian told me, “Spain will not change for you.  You must adapt to Spain.” And as writers, we must adapt to our characters.
In my new book, A Different Blue, Darcy Wilson is British.  Believe it or not, the British are different from Americans.  Creating such a character required a lot of research.  I found a British Book Blogger named Tiffa Snook who proved very helpful.  So helpful, that you will find a character named for her in the book.  Tiffa gave me feedback on all things British so that Wilson would be authentic.  I researched phrases, watched British TV, listened to music popular in the UK…you get the idea.  I couldn’t adapt Wilson to the American model.  I had to adapt to him.  I think Wilson turned out wonderfully, but I will let you decide.  The following is a fun excerpt from the book.  In this scene, Wilson is instructing his class on British slang.

A Different Blue, by Amy Harmon
From A Different Blue:

“We don’t ‘call’ our chums on the phone, we give them a ring or a bell.  We also don’t have hoods and trunks on our cars, we have bonnets and boots.  We don’t have bars, we have pubs.  We don’t have vacumns, we have hoovers, and an umbrella is a brolly.  Which, by the way, you must have in England.  It’s cold, and it’s wet.  After spending two years in Africa, the thought of going back to Manchester was not appealing.  I discovered I loved the sun in large doses.  So, although I will always consider myself an Englishman, I don’t think I’ll ever live in England again.”
“Tell us some more!” Chrissy giggled.
“Well, if something is ace or brill it means it is cool or awesome,” Wilson added. “If I were in London, I might greet you by saying ‘All right?’  And you would respond with ‘All right?’  It basically means ‘What’s up?’ or ‘Hello, how are you?’ and it doesn’t demand a response.”
Immediately, the whole class started asking each other ‘All right?’ with terrible British accents, and Mr. Wilson continued over the top of the chaos, raising his voice a little to rein the class back in.
“If something is wonky or dodgy, it means it’s not right, or it feels suspicious.  Your latest score on your test may strike me as a bit dodgy if you have failed all of your previous exams.
“In Yorkshire, if someone says you don’t get owt for nowt, they would mean, you don’t get anything for nothing…or you get what you pay for.  If I tell you to chivvy along, it means I want you to hurry, and if I tell you to clear off, it means I want you to get lost.  If someone is dim they’re stupid, if something is dull it’s boring.  A knife isn’t dull, mind you.  It’s blunt, so get it right.”  Wilson smiled out at the rapt faces of thirty students, rapidly taking notes on British slang.  It was as if the Beatles had invaded America once more.  I knew I was going to be hearing “chivvy along”, and “she’s a fit bird”, in the hallways for the rest of the year.
I just got an ace lesson in British slang! Thanks Amy for sharing that wonderful story and the excerpt of A Different Blue. If you’d like to learn more about Amy and her books, then chivvy along and visit her here:

Writer Chat Wednesday: Jack Albrecht & Ashley Delay

Welcome to this edition of Writer Chat Wednesday. This is a first for Writer Chat – I’m talking today with two authors! Jack Albrecht and Ashley Delay are the co-authors of Osric’s Wand (don’t you love that cover!) and they were kind enough to stop by today and chat. I hope you enjoy this fun interview as much as I did and come back this Friday when I’ll be reviewing Osric’s Wand: The Wand-Maker’s Debate!


Natalie Wright (NW): Do you have any news to share about your work?


Ashley grinned excitedly and said, “Yes! Osric’s Wand: The Wand-Maker’s Debate hit Amazon.com’s Epic Fantasy bestseller list last month! It is holding its place in the top 10 of the Dragon category as well. We are thrilled to have been received so well by fantasy readers.”  
“We were expecting it to take years to gain best seller status since our advertising budget is limited, but with one well timed promotion we have arrived! We are so grateful to the help we have had from many amazing authors and some very beneficial classes on marketing, social media, and cross promotion from a great organization, the Indie Book Collective,” Jack added as he refilled his iced tea,
“We really do need to give the Indie Book Collective credit here, they know their stuff. We highly recommend them to anyone who is an author. They have many publishers coming to them for classes on how to sell books. We can’t stress how valuable their wisdom in this arena has been. Everyone should check them out!”

NW: What books have you written so far?

“The Wand-Maker’s Debate is actually our first novel, but we are hard at work on the second book in the Osric’s Wand series.” Jack looked over at Ashley with a grin. “You know, I have been promising on twitter to tell our fans the name of the next book in this interview.”

“I know. It has been so hard to keep it a secret since the title inserted itself into my mind. Go ahead and tell them,” Ashley responded excitedly.
“Well you named it, so I thought you should be the one to ‘cut the ribbon,’ if you will.”
“If you insist,” she grinned. “I am pleased to announce to all of our current and future fans, the second book in the Osric’s Wand series is . . . The High Wizard’s Hunt!”
Jack gave Ashely a high five and shouted, “Now, that’s how you do a reveal!”
Ashley laughed at his excited antics. “It’s moments like this when I can see where Pebble gets his charm.”

NW: What was the inspiration for your book?

“I get asked this a lot.  It sort of evolved from reading other novels that I love,” Jack said, “I am somewhat of a fantasy nut, and I soak them up like a dry sponge.  But I have a personality that notices things, not just in books, but in our world.  In our world, magic (sorry folks, I believe this so just follow me if you don’t agree) doesn’t exist.  That fact is a universal constant, no creature of any kind wields it.  So, what would a world where magic exists look like?”  He paused for emphasis, and Ashley couldn’t help but interrupt.
“I personally feel Jack doesn’t notice much at all if he thinks magic doesn’t exist in our world,” she said with a teasing smile.  Jack continued, unperturbed by her sarcasm.  
“For us, our magic is science. In the world I imagined, I would think their science would be magic. I would also imagine that if magic was wielded by some, it would be able to be used by all.  Not to the same level of course. I mean, a butterfly uses science everyday to fly, but it doesn’t have a big screen TV in it’s living room!”  Jack gestured excitedly with his hands as he spoke, “And of course, I fell in love with the wolf dream from WOT, and talking animals from numerous other fantasy novels. That made me think, Hey, why wouldn’t some animals talk?  Not all of them, but in a world with magic, I am sure that MANY would,” he realized he was rambling a bit and continued in a nonchalant manner, “So that’s what started the whole process. Thousands and thousands of hours of reading, and thinking.”

NW: What is your favorite scene from your book and why?

Jack’s boyish grin returned as he thought back to his favorite scene, “Chapter 2, when Gus lives through a bad “hunt” and then ends up being so nice to a woman later in the chapter. I think it shows a great deal of how life is on Archana, and even more about his personality. I did not start out wanting him to be like this.  I wanted him to be a wise old man, er prairie-dog, sort of like Dumbledore from Harry Potter, but he refused to be written that way. He was just as stubborn to write as he appears in the book!”
“I have a hard time choosing a favorite, but I would have to say it is a scene close to the end where Osric finally gets a glimpse of his own power. If I told you any more it would spoil the ending. If you have read the book, my favorite part begins when Osric punches Thom,” Ashley added with a knowing smile.

NW: What works in progress do you have?  

Ashley responded, “We are about half way through The High Wizard’s Hunt, the sequel to The Wand-Maker’s Debate. Since we have completed the first half of the book in about 3 months, we feel a fall release is going to be fairly certain.  The Osric’s Wand series is well on its way!”

NW: Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?

Jack rubbed his chin as he pondered his answer, “It is really difficult for me to choose a favorite, knowing the characters like I do. But if I was pushed to choose, I think I would have to go with Gus, or Pebble. They have distinctly different personalities, but I can identify with them both. Gus has this grumpy, knowing way about him, and Pebble is just adorable!” He grinned, thinking of the prairie dog pup’s childish antics. “As for who I am most like . . . I have no idea. I tend to think of myself as Osric, but that is because I write more of him than I do the others, and I have to really think in order to get him correct. I have a hard time writing about myself too, that is why I think I am most like him. I know his thoughts, and his motivation, but putting it on paper is a struggle because there is so much involved with each choice he makes.”


Ashley sat in contemplation for a moment before responding. “I would have to say my favorite character is Machai, because he is so much fun to write. As for who I am most like, that is much harder to say. The obvious choice might be Bridgett, as she is the main female character. But she and I only have a few similarities.” Ashely thought about how each character may develop in later books and added, “Perhaps she will turn out to be more like me than I know, since I write most of Bridgett’s parts in the books. Jack has a hard time writing in a female character without make them sound like shallow, giggling girls.” Jack feigned like he was going to throw something at her, but nodded in agreement instead.


Ashley Delay
NW: Who is your favorite author and why?

Jack nearly jumped out of his seat, “Hands down, Brandon Sanderson! No other author that I have read gives a payoff like his books! You invest all this time and energy into a book, or series of books. When you finally reach the end, you want something that makes you go “WOW, time well spent!”, and pisses you off that the ride is over. I think Brandon Sanderson does that like no-one else. For my dollar, he is the best fantasy author on the planet right now.”


“I, however, find it impossible to choose a favorite,” Ashley stated. “I have read so many wonderful books by talented authors, I could never narrow it down.  Although, I can say, books by Anne McCaffrey, Terry Goodkind, and Elizabeth Moon are on the top of my list.”

NW: How long have you been a writer?

“I started writing Osric’s Wand in December of 2010, so that puts me at a year and five months. However, I have to say if I had known that it was this fun, I would have started years ago! Ashley came on board quickly. I can honestly say, this book would have been very different from what it is today without her. She is an amazing writer who writes an almost flawless first draft. I, on the other hand, need every step along the way to refine what I put on the page!” Jack responded avidly.


Ashley smiled at the flattery and rolled her eyes, “I have been writing since I was very young. I tend to vent my emotions on paper, and my poetry, lyrics, and stories could tell my life story if anyone could interpret them. However, I never thought of myself as a writer until we published The Wand-Maker’s Debate and it started to outsell my greatest expectations.”

NW: What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Ashley replied, “As much as I love the constant banter and debate with my co-author, I think my favorite part is finding out what happens next. We plan out what we think will happen and brainstorm together, but once we start writing it evolves and tells its own story, regardless of our intentions. I love the anticipation and surprise that comes with each chapter we write.” Jack’s jaw hung open in exaggerated surprise, and he pointed over at her discreetly.
“If you had any idea what a control freak she is, you would be as surprised as I am to hear that’s her favorite part,” he winked and added, “Honestly, I love every bit of it, but my favorite part is watching it come together as we write.  We have several people who come around to watch us as we write, and seeing their reactions to the evolution of the books is so much fun!  It is an experience every writer should have. There is nothing like a fan flipping out, excited about words you just put on the page,” Jack said.

Jack Albrecht
NW: What is your favorite movie – the one you can watch over and over again?

Jack responded quickly, “In my eyes, there is nothing better than The Princess Bride. Swordfights, magic, pirates, giants, true love, revenge, miracles and humor… That movie has been in my house since kindergarten! I have worn out 5 VCR tapes, and 3 DVDs!  I could watch it every day and not get tired of it.”
Ashley shook her head in disbelief at how easy it is for Jack to choose a favorite, “Again, impossible to narrow down to just one. Right now, I would say anything with Sean Connery or Nicolas Cage.”

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