Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy Young Adult

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring Edith Pawlicki!

Helllllo once again, I can’t believe we are on episode 7 of the Sunday Brunch Series!  Today features Edith Pawlicki, an author that I “met” through Bookstagram and now have read and reviewed three of her books!  All three of those are searchable on the blog. The most recent released this past Tuesday so congratulations on that!

Here she talks about her publishing journey, compares writing for YA vs Adult audiences,  shares a co-op food story, and even shouts out Rochester too 😁

This is a bit of a longer interview so I won’t hold it up, here she is!


1) Welcome to the SBAIS! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your books!

Thank you for hosting; I love brunch! 

I write science fiction and fantasy books with a big dash of romance and family. My books are character-driven. 

I am a stay-at-home mom and my family shares a duplex with my sisters (there were five children under five here for a while), so my time is split between little people and fictional worlds. Which means I’m a little quirky but very happy!

2)What was your publishing journey like? Do you have any advice for hopeful authors trying to write or publish a book?

I queried for two different books in 2013 and got a lot of rejections.The plots were neither fresh nor compelling, but I didn’t know how to fix them. I did write sporadically over the next five years, around my sons’ second birthday, I found the time to get back into it and audited David Farland’s writing courses online. If you’re aware of a weakness in your writing (characters, setting, plotting, or the writing itself), I highly recommend Farland (https://mystorydoctor.com/). If you can’t afford some version of his course (though he always offers an audit bundle of all of them during NaNoWriMo), his newsletter is free and covers pretty much everything in his lectures in bite-sized chunks. His courses took my writing to a new level. 

I started querying agents for Minerva in 2019. I didn’t query as many as I had been advised to (I’ve heard 50-100 agents), but the process is slow and put me in a negative headspace for writing. Since writing is my main hobby/stress-reliever, my husband persuaded me to self-publish. Even though promotion is very difficult for me, I am so glad that I did because having books in the world, holding the hard copies in my hands, and getting positive reviews from strangers has been joyous and motivating.

As a self-published author, I have not followed the majority of advice. I did not hire an editor (I know all my beta readers personally – none of them had ever beta read before, but just as I got better at revisions, their feedback has improved massively over just three books), and I did my book design and covers myself. I did commission art: maps for Minerva (by Michael Engard:  https://www.kaelri.com/projects/ ) and the cover and interior artwork for the Immortal Beings series (by Goldfinch1 of Fiverr: https://www.fiverr.com/goldfinch01 ).

After publishing Vows, I realized that there are options between traditional publishing and doing it completely alone (like me). You can look for indie presses; sometimes these presses expect you to invest financially in the publishing but manage cover art, editing, etc. Alternatively, you can find editors and book designers online. I have no desire right now to hire a book designer because I really enjoy doing the layout (I use Word) and creating the covers (which I do in Google Drawings), but I have some regrets about not having an editor. Most of the self-published authors I’ve talked to do have editors, and I would really like to at least try it. I think one thing to keep in mind if you self-publish is you will have to spend some money. At absolute minimum, you need to be prepared to print and mail free copies to reviewers, but expect to pay for covers, editing, and advertising. I’ve been told that you should expect it to take at least six books before you have a base audience. As for promotion, a few things that were effective for me were book tours on Instagram and running a paperback giveaway on Goodreads. Be wary of scammers – there are lots of people who will reach out to talk about your book who just want to make a quick buck. Also, talk to libraries and local bookstores – most are very friendly and supportive of local authors.

3) There was a pretty big jump between your first novel, Minerva, a Young Adult post-apocalyptic, and the second, an adult epic fantasy series!  Do you find that you prefer writing to one target audience vs. the other?

I don’t prefer one audience over the other, but I find it more relaxing writing for an adult audience because of my standards for YA. For example, in my latest book, Loves of Shadow and Power, a main character says “One way of loving isn’t better than any other. There are as many right ways to love as there are beings in this world.” When my husband read that, he turned to me and asked if I agreed. And while I do think there are as many right ways to love as people, there are definitely bad ways to love – many controlling/abusive relationships are in fact twisted expressions of love. When my target audience is adult, I feel I don’t have to qualify all the character’s beliefs though – I am trusting readers to assess the statements for themselves. But if that line had been in Minerva, I would have felt compelled to offer a counter opinion, which would necessitate a listening character with a contradictory opinion who was determined to express it, and having the response/argument be relevant to the plot. Anyway, that’s why I find it challenging – and why Minerva was outlined while the Immortal Beings series was discovery-written. 

4) What do you look for when finding readers to contact about your books? Are you looking for any specific style or content for your reviewers?

This question is giving me way too much credit! When I started the publishing process, I signed up for Inkers Con 2020 and one of its lectures suggested using Instagram for promotion. I stumbled into Bookstagram, and messaged ten Bookstagrammers who posted regularly, wrote coherent reviews, had at least 100 followers, and had followed me (I had probably 30 followers at that point). I was super nervous, and I remember I freaked out when you accepted a copy because you had about five thousand followers, which was mind-boggling to me! Anyway, only two of the Bookstagrammers who accepted copies actually posted, so I felt I had to do something different for the Immortal Beings. I ended up discovering book tour organizers, and decided to try that – it was far more effective in getting follow-through than when I was messaging bookstagrammers directly. As for who got ARC offers for the Immortal Beings sequel – I contacted people from the original tour that had posted their reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, had written more than just a synopsis, and had liked the first book. I’m not planning any tours for the sequel because I don’t think it would read well on its own; instead, I am focusing on promoting the first book and relying on read-through.

{{pssst: hey people, especially if you take a physical review copy from an author, write a review!  It doesn’t have to be long or even necessarily right on time – most authors are understanding – but write something!!

As a fun fact I actually took Minerva because she mentioned doing Uni in Rochester, and I am totally 100% glad that happened}}

5) What brunch item would you pair with your books so far??

For Minerva, I would do Christmas Tree bread! It’s a family tradition: sweet bread with whatever dried fruits you fancy, spread with cinnamon, sugar, and butter before it’s cut and twisted to resemble an evergreen tree and baked. Then you drizzle with frosting and M&M/gumdrops. My grandmother invented it as a Christmas present for her many in-laws (my mom’s side is a prolific New England farm family), and I can’t remember a Christmas brunch without it! Minerva always feels like a holiday book for me, maybe because Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are such pivotal days in the story.

For the Immortal Beings series, I would say chawanmushi, which is a savory Japanese egg custard that might feature fish and any number of veggies. When it comes out perfectly, it’s like silk, but all of my attempts have been scrambled eggs…

6) I actually misread Edith’s bio and thought she moved around frequently – so this question turned into “How have your travels and experiences influence your writing”?

I was surprised by this question because I’ve spent at least three quarters of my life in the same rural Connecticut town, but I was exposed to a lot of different cultures because my grandfather grew up in India and my father spent large portions of his childhood in Japan and Germany. We ate lots of “foreign” food as well as read stories from around the world. Yes, the places I’ve been shape my writing. The tunnels in Minerva have roots in the tunnels at the University of Rochester, which let students walk between buildings without going out in snowstorms. And of course, Japanese culture, aesthetic, and mythology obviously influenced the Immortal Beings. It isn’t just places though –  everything (and everyone!) that I know creeps into the books one way or another. For as long as I can remember, I have always read author bios when I finished a book, and it struck me early on that my favorite authors had collected many life experiences – different jobs, different homes, widely read. And so I have tried to collect experiences too – I am always trying to log the atmosphere, the essence of my surroundings so that I can pull them out for my stories! 

{{I love those tunnels!}}

7) Wayyy back in the day you mentioned that you lived in a vegan co-op, and that some of the food fails were inspirations for your army’s cuisine in Minerva! I am calling in that promised story if you can remember any particularly epic fails!

So most of the meals I ate there really were delicious spreads that I still try to mimic in my own cooking, but I had one housemate who believed that he could toss any fresh produce from the farmer’s market into a frying pan, some tofu or nuts, add the spices we used for granola (cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg) along with some generous shakes of yeast flakes (a savory topping that often replaces grated cheese in vegan dishes), and it would work. The first time he did this, I think it was with apples and potatoes and it was tasty, but multiple people tried to convince him to explore other recipes. The worst one I remember had swiss chard and peanut butter – the flavors didn’t mesh well, but the biggest problem was that he didn’t properly clean the chard, so there was a generous seasoning of dirt and small stones. Anyway, all of these “stir-fries” tended to become mushy stews that looked really unappetizing, even when they tasted good, and he sometimes pureed them (why?), which you probably recall from Minerva!

8) Here is the easy round of rapid fire bookish questions – do you have a favorite book or series you always recommend? Favorite literary character? Any wonderful or strange bookish habits?

My favorite author is Mary Balogh. Her books are a delightful blend of life lessons and happy-ever-afters. I know the regency romance wrapping isn’t for everyone, but her books have made me a better person. My favorite character would be Kel from the Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce, partially because I grew up with her. She always relentlessly chose to do the right thing, regardless of how hard it was. She demanded so much of herself, while always granting the benefit of the doubt to others. She has always inspired me, and I think that Minerva is a little like Kel. As for strange habits – when I was younger (not a mother) I pretty much either read a book straight through (if a book was really long, like the Wheel of Time, I would carry it with me constantly, reading during school passing periods and every free moment until it was done) or DNF – if I put the book down, it usually meant I was either finding it boring or disliked the characters and once that happened, I almost never would pick it back up.  (I do read quite quickly, which is probably why I like to reread because I often miss details on the first read through). Now I usually have to set books aside for even days at a time (because children can’t wait while fiction can), but I never feel guilty about stopping a book – honestly, I was shocked to realize how many people seem to after joining Bookstagram. Usually my DNF happens within the first chapter because I’m not enjoying the writing, but I’ve stopped 75% through if I realized I didn’t care what happened next. I guess I feel I have too many things I want to or have to do to waste time doing something that’s neither!

9) Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! If there’s anything else you’d like to say about anything at all, please do so here!

Thank you so much for the interview! It was fun. I will end by sharing my writing goals: to write stories that take people on adventures, leave them happy and encouraged, while provoking them to think about themselves or the world. Life lessons through fantasy!


Find Edith online at:

https://edithpawlicki.com/about.html

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring Dustin R. Cummings

As part of the Feather & Dove book tour for Exiles of a Gilded Moon Volume II: Kingdom’s Edge, I am happy to have author Dustin R. Cummings on episode 6 of the SBAIS today! He nailed some tough questions about the narrative, his literary life, and of course brunch!

As far as the books – I read and reviewed book one, Empire’s Wake, a few months ago and you guys can search for that here on the blog if interested! I’ll be posting thoughts on Kingdom’s Edge soon and am definitely curious to see where he takes the series from here.

Enough from me – here he is!


1) Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your books!

Thank you for inviting me! I’m originally from  Mid-Michigan and have lived in New York City for the past several years. 
 
I am a practicing surgeon in the metropolitan area, with a speciality in minimally invasive surgery. In my free time, I like to read, write, exercise and go to museums, especially the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love the ambiance, and being around ancient things. 
 
I am about to publish the second book in my series, Exiles of a Gilded Moon in a week. I am working on the 3rd and final book in the series, which will hopefully come out in 2022. 
 
2) I think Empire’s Wake is the first book I have read by an MD that isn’t medically related fiction! Did you think about writing something medically inclined or have you always wanted to write a SFF?
 
I have long been interested in writing and literature, and most of all history – I am a professed history nerd. I often contemplate the major events that preceded all of us, and wonder what things would look like today if certain points in history had been different. 
 
The Exiles of a Gilded Moon Series originated from my rumination on history, specifically the European age of conquest. My story arose from a short literary sketch I started, which was inspired by a painting I created for my high school French class. Surprisingly, it happened to be an abstract sci-fi painting! Back then, I wondered what a story about that painting would look like, and Exiles of a Gilded Moon came from that moment.
 
I have definitely contemplated writing something medically related, and I hope to in the future. I wouldn’t necessarily make medicine the main focus. I feel that medical related issues contribute an intriguing narrative arc, and they are most interesting as part of a larger story.
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3) What has your literary life been like? As in – what genres and authors did you love as a kid, vs. as an adult? 
 
As a kid, I really enjoyed any sort of book that involved horror and fantastic elements. I was a fan of the R.L Stine Goosebumps series, and Steven King’s Pet Sematary.
 
As an adult, much of my literary exposure was through my French major in college. I enjoyed reading enlightenment era works by Rousseau and Diderot. I also learned a lot from reading  French Caribbean literature. I was particularly interested in works that dealt with identity, colonization, and the complex relations between the Caribbean islands and metropolitan France, as they transitioned from colonies to integral parts of the country. 
 
As for now, I enjoy reading a variety of genres – anything with a fantastical element will usually get my attention! I also read a decent amount of non-fiction historical works, specifically related to the European age of conquest, or the history of the Americas. 
 
4) Exiles of a Gilded Moon covers some tough narratives like conquest and slavery, but I also see themes like coming of age, redemption, and moreso in book 2 discovering your identity – what are your thoughts on putting these more difficult narratives into Scifi/fantasy? 
 
Exiles of a Gilded Moon indeed covers difficult themes in the course of a young man’s coming of age. I wanted to show how someone who is dealing with his own inner turmoil might navigate his complex, human society with its historical legacy, societal divides, and cultural intricacies. 
 
I wanted to examine what it would look like if someone like Darshima, and the diverse people of his realm suffered a singular, monumental injustice. We often think of invasion and slavery in its general aspects, but I wanted to examine it from the individual level, as well as the global aspect. I sought to use a fantastical location, to tell a story that would feel familiar to readers, that was hopefully less weighted with bias and pre-conceived notions. I used fantastical elements, as they speak to all of us on a deeper level. We all wish that we had some power to shape events seemingly beyond our control. Fantasy allows us to envision worlds where this is possible. 
 
5) Was there any particular scene that was hard to write for you??  {{I’ll tell you the hardest to read afterwards}}!
 
There were several scenes that were challenging to write. I would say the invasion was difficult to compose, given the vividness of the imagery and the description the suffering. As you know, the first half of the book is a very methodical buildup of Darshima’s world and a meticulous exploration of his family and social dynamic. I spent much time with descriptions of people and places. I wanted everything to feel real, and for readers to bond with the peoples, cultures and places. 
 
The invasion represents a violent and calamitous end of innocence for Darshima and his people. As Darshima and the readers learn through the rest of the book, what they thought was an age of innocent before their realm’s fall, was anything but. The transition from freedom to slavery, conquerer to conquered at the individual and societal level is abrupt and jarring. It took some time to settle within me. 
 
The scenes of Darshima’s capture and enslavement were particularly difficult to write. My personal background is Caribbean and South American. In a sense, these scenes were a reflection of my own ancestry through a fantastical mirror. Having to imagine every aspect of Darshima’s toil was a unique emotional experience, and I did my best to express the characters’ thoughts and actions during their suffering. 
 
{{Yes, so like he said in the first paragraph – he spent a lot of time world building a beautiful city, creating a culture, got me all attached to it …. then totally levelled it in the invasion and conquest.  It was hard to read but thinking back on it, the sense of loss was real}}
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6) Specifically in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, do you have a favorite author or one you always recommend?
 
I tend to enjoy the classics, specifically H. G Wells (The invisible Man, The Time Machine, etc.) and Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles.
 
{{This is a response after my own heart, I totally grew up on Asimov and Bradbury and to a lesser extent, Heinlein had a few fantastic stories)
 
7) Did you base any of your characters on real life people?? Darshima’s whole complicated family dynamic felt very real 
 
I like to think that all of the characters have a bit of myself in them, as well as people I know. I have a twin brother (I am the younger twin), and a mother and father whom I adore. I’ve been fortunate to meet and work with so many interesting people throughout my life. My family and friends have all had an influence on me, and that is represented in the story through the events and in the characters.   
 
I really wanted to portray Darshima’s complicated but nurturing family dynamic and how it helps him grow. How he learns to navigate relationships, solve predicaments, etc. is based on some of my own experiences. I would also say, some of the scenes were fantastical portrayals of some of the things I’ve seen and experienced in my own life. 
 
8) What is your favorite brunch food?
 
There are so many to choose from. I love eggs Benedict, either with Canadian bacon or smoked salmon. 
 
9) I know it’s cliché but I aim these interviews at indie authors and the indie community, so I always ask if you have any advice for authors trying to write or publish a novel?
 
I would suggest that anyone interested in writing, please keep writing and don’t be discouraged! We are in a difficult time right now, and people are seeking some means of escape and whimsy, what better means than your future book?  Work on your craft, read in the genres that interest you – even if it isn’t the genre you necessarily want to write in. See how your interests can help you craft your own unique voice and tell your story. 
 
Moreover, reach out to other writers and authors via social media, and don’t be scared to share your writing, its the best way to achieve growth, and get you ready for the steps needed to publish. 
 
10) Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! If there’s anything else you’d like to add or mention or talk about, please do so here!!
 
{{Dustin didn’t have additional comments so I’ll just take the space to say THANK YOU for serving during a pandemic! To him and all the other HCWs working, struggling, bringing hope, and getting through right now, keep your heads up!  I started reading a lot more SFF during the pandemic and I am personally endlessly thankful for the authors giving me these stories to escape into. Again, thank you)!
 

Meet the Author:
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Dustin Cummings is an author who lives in New York, NY. Originally from Mid-Michigan, he is an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, classical music, and long walks. He is an assistant professor of surgery in the New York metropolitan area.

Find Dustin and Exiles of a Gilded Moon online:

Author Website: https://www.dustinrcummings.com/

Twitter: @dorenavant2020

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dorenavant/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08LDBW29J?binding=kindle_edition&ref=dbs_dp_awt_ser_img_widg_tukn

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy Young Adult

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring V. Romas Burton!

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for tuning in to the 5th episode of the SBAIS! I screwed up and am posting this as a super late edition because I miiiiight have thought that today was Saturday.  I swear I am getting way too old for these night shifts.

Today I’m here with a very special guest, the author of the YA epic fantasy series Heartmender! I found her books through the Monster Ivy Publishing Instagram page, and was really honored to read two out of three of her books as ARCs!! The last novel in the trilogy, Heartrender, releases on September 7th and you can find all of my reviews here on the blog for those books!

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Without further ado, here is V. Romas Burton!!

1) Welcome to the SBAIS! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your books!

Thank you so much for having me! My name is Vanessa and I write under the pen name V. Romas Burton. I write YA Fantasy for Monster Ivy Publishing. The third book in my debut series, Heartrender, comes out this fall! I’m so excited for this series to be complete!


2)What was your publishing journey like? Do you have any advice for hopeful authors trying to write or publish a book? 

I actually spent a while searching for a publisher/agent the traditional way: through querying. However, one day I heard about a Twitter pitch party named Faith Pitch. I decided to participate for fun and ended up with a contract with my publisher

3) The Heartmender books are YA epic fantasy with a strong allegorical theme. What main takeaways would you like Christian youth, vs non Christian youth to take away from the series?

I would like all youth to understand the same message: there will always be trials and temptations in life. But through  your perseverance and God’s guidance, you will get through the hard times.

4) Is there a character that you wrote yourself into more than the others?  I won’t ask who your favorite is 😅

Although there’s a little of me in each character, I would definitely say I’m a lot more like Claire than any of the others. ☺️


5) Content has been a huge debate recently, especially in YA novels. What content and themes do you think are important to present to young readers? I try really hard to spotlight “clean reads” whenever possible, and your books definitely fall into that category

I definitely think YA books should focus more on standing up for what’s right and including good morals. Now, I enjoy a good love story and an epic battle. But sometimes the scenes in YA books, I believe, are extremely erotic or gorey for young readers. I believe it’s possible to write an exciting story without adding all those extra things.

6) I found the video on your Instagram where you mentioned the Verse that sparked the idea for the series! Essentially the thought was: what would it be like if people physically traded their heart to the creator, vs only doing so in spirit? What would you have traded your heart for at the Heart Reign?

Oh I probably would’ve traded it for power or unlimited clothes 😁


7) I can’t imagine how busy you’ve been with the two boys and a book coming out soon!  What do you do for fun/relaxation/selfcare?

Life is definitely busy right now! I’m so thankful that I have had my family’s help! Most nights I’m just ready to crash into bed 🤣 But when I have a little more energy, I love reading webtoons at night to decompress from the day.


8) Here is the easy round of rapid fire bookish questions! Do you have a favorite book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character? Any wonderful or strange bookish habits?

I always recommend The Lunar Chronicles to anyone interested in YA. It’s one of my favorite series and was the series that got me hooked on YA Fantasy.

I love the March sisters from Little Women. I enjoyed reading the series as a child, teenager, and adult and was able to identify with a different one at each stage in my life.

I love to binge read genres. If I read a fairytale retelling I love then I will proceed to read all the fairytale retellings! Then, once I’m tired of that, I’ll move on to something else like dystopian and then read all the dystopian! 

{{I’m just adding here that on her website, she has a list of books that she recommends and it’s organized by genre and age group! We have really similar tastes! I was psyched to see Ted Dekker on someone’s recommendation list, and I definitely bookmarked that incase I ever need more book recs!}} 

9  Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! If there’s anything else you’d like to say about anything at all, please do so here!

Thank you so much for having me! I’ve enjoyed the fun questions! Heartrender, the epic conclusion to the Heartmender trilogy releases Sept. 7! Be sure to read books 1 & 2 before it comes out!


Meet the Author!

V. Romas Burton grew up bouncing up and down the East Coast where she wrote her first story about magical ponies at age seven. Years later, after studying government and earning an M.A. in Theological Studies, V. Romas Burton realized something even bigger was calling out to her–stories that contained great adventures and encouraging messages. Her debut novel, Heartmender, has won several awards including: First Place in Young Adult for the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Second Place in Juvenile/ Young Adult for the 2021 Illumination Book Awards and tied for Third Place for Young Adult Fiction- Fantasy/ Sci- Fi in the 2020 Moonbeam Children’s Awards.


Find Vanessa and the Heartmender series online!

On facebook: https://m.facebook.com/vromasburton/

On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vromasburton/

Author Website: https://vromasburton.com/

Purchase the Heartmender books on Amazon:

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy Science Fiction

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series – featuring Steven J. Morris!

Happy Sunday everyone and thank you so much for tuning in to the fourth installment of the SBAIS!  I originally was introduced to Steve’s books through a tour company, and have had a lot of fun reading his first two books which bring fantasy and sci-fi elements into the modern world.   I was super excited when he reached out to participate here!

The SBAIS is now booking into October! If you are reading this thinking “wow I would really like to do that too,” please do contact me!


1) Welcome to the SBAIS! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your books!

Hi. My name is Steve, and I’ve been writing fantasy for a couple of years now. 

(“Hi, Steve,” says the writers anonymous group in my head. Ha.)

I’m editing the 3rd of a four book series called The Guardian League, about a group of unlikely heroes saving the world from invasion by magic-wielding aliens. I’ve targeted Dec/Jan for the release of Book 3, but it feels ahead of schedule to me. I’m married and have three daughters spanning the Elementary to High School age, and I do engineering work at Intel to pay the bills.

2)What was your publishing journey like? Do you have any advice for hopeful authors trying to write or publish a book? 

There’s a surprising amount of work that happens after writing to get your baby out the door. That said, when I was a kid, there was nothing like the capabilities available now to self-publish. I have suggestions regarding writing: embrace learning, read how to write through books and podcasts, pay for editing and learn from it (find someone good). Regarding publishing, just keep swimming – if you’re not naturally technical (or even if you are), there’s a lot of steps to learn. Once you’ve gone through it, maybe a couple of times, it isn’t so bad. Sadly, you’re not done there – there’s a lot to learn about advertising. I’m still a beginner there, so I won’t offer advice.

3) The Guardian series is full of fantasy, FBI thrills, and a lot of sci-fi elements all brought into the modern, if not slightly futuristic world.  Do you remember what idea came first? As in, what did you build the series around?

Ironically, I built it around the ending, in book 4, which you haven’t seen yet. So I can’t say too much about it. I started at the end, and sketched the story backwards.  Then I began writing book 1. I did have some components I knew I wanted, magic and science together, travel between worlds, but the actual story was built on top of those components.

4) I loved that there was a bit of a D&D / Warcraft feel to the series, are you a gamer? If you want to nerd out about a game, I’m here for it

For about 10 years, my two brothers and I would meet online once a week and play Everquest. I played an enchanter (go team Galad). The Lost Dungeons of Norrath were some of the most fun adventures I remember in any game ever – one hour cooperative dungeons that you’d finish within seconds of the timer running out… nothing beats that feeling of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat. Yeah, D&D as a kid, played some Worlds of Warcraft, and a few others as well. Believe it or not, I created a shareware game back in 1998 or so – “Homeland: The Stone of Night.”  https://www.mobygames.com/game/homeland-the-stone-of-night It was okay for its time (total junk now). Regardless, yeah, definitely have a big gaming past. 

5) What brunch item do you think would go with your books?

Chilli-cheese fries, and I’d have a beer with it too. IPA, like Red would drink.

{{There you have it – based on these interviews, I am forced to assume that brunch is a NorthEastern thing))

6) I can imagine being self published that it’s hard to get the word out about your book, has that been a challenge? Was using a book tour company a positive experience?

Oh, I should have read ahead, since I mentioned advertising already. So I exited “writing/publishing” having done NOTHING in regards to exposing my book or writing. I’m naturally a pretty socially timid guy (introverts unite! But, um, keep your distance). I don’t know if a book tour would be the right move for everyone, but it helped me build a community and get connected, so for me, it was a positive experience (and I *have* recommended it to people). But set your expectations – you’re competing with a lot of other authors for attention, and the quick bursts from a tour can’t replace doing continuous advertising work. I am far far far from figuring out the right way to do advertising. So much to learn!

{{That said, thank you to By The Book Tours for originally introducing me to Steve’s books!}}

7)Here is the easy round of rapid fire bookish questions – do you have a favorite book or series you always recommend? Favorite literary character? Any wonderful or strange bookish habits?

Favorite book(s) – The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through

I guess it is cheating, but also natural, to say that the characters in my favorite books are my favorite characters: Terisa Morgan and Geraden. 

Strange habits: I have multiple copies of my favorite books. I’ve never written in books, including textbooks. I’d see other people with their highlighters and cringe like someone was spray-painting the Washington Monument. (And now I have to sign them… )

8) Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! If there’s anything else you’d like to say about anything at all, please do so here!

Just a shout-out to all the folks who promote writing, of their own time and energy, for indie authors. It’s really heart-warming. Thanks!


I hope you guys will check out the author’s website and bookish links too!

Website: https://sjmorriswrites.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/steven.j.morris.writer/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08TV879J6/ref=x_gr_mw_bb_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_mw_bb_sin-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B08TV879J6&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

GoodReadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56811451-the-guardian-of-the-palace?ref=nav_sb_ss_1_23

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: featuring T.A. Bruno!!

Thank you so much everyone for supporting the Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series!!  In this third installment I am lucky enough to feature DreamWorks artist + Sci-fi author T.A. Bruno!

I read his first novel In the Orbit of Sirens and was impressed by both the scope of the plot and the intricate, detailed world building.  The sequel comes out next month and I can’t wait for that one either.

Alright without further ado, here he is!

1) Welcome to the SBAIS! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your writing!

Thanks for having me! I’m happy to be featured. For those who don’t know me, I grew up in Chicago and moved to LA to work in the film industry. I’ve worked on a lot of fun projects, including some Marvel films. I currently work for DreamWorks Animation as a Layout Artist. My career has been all about telling stories through film, and it gave me the confidence to put a story down on paper. In the Orbit of Sirens was my debut novel, and I have written two sequels during quarantine. It’s been a blast, and it allowed me to meet some great people!  

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2) I think based on that, you’re going to have to tell us what a layout artist does! It’s super cool that you work for DreamWorks!!

Thanks! I love telling people about my day job. Layout—or Previz as it’s also known—is one of the best-kept secrets in Hollywood if you ask me. We wear many hats. In live-action (So Marvel movies and other big-budget VFX films), we create a computer-animated sequence for the film that will be visual effects heavy. By making these sequences, we get accurate camera data. We can explore the best ways to film the upcoming sequence before the entire production gets to it. It saves production a lot of time to plan ahead like this, and often we have the Director over our shoulder directing us. After we finish our job, production takes our Previz and films it, mimicking the cameras we made and sticking close to the action we planned out with the Director. The actors even get to look at it for reference. For Dreamworks, it’s the same idea, but we do the entire film. We are cinematographers, and our cameras get finalized. The animators use our work as a foundation to build upon and draw out more personality. It’s a super fun job, and not many people know about it. I’m happy I stumbled into it after College.

3) Feeding off of that, does that experience help you envision the scenery and world building for The Song of Kamaria so far? I definitely thought the visual imagery was one of the first book’s strong points

I’m glad you liked the imagery! Yes, by nature, I tried to escort the reader through the world of Kamaria with a cinematic eye. I treated each sentence as a shot and drew out the details as I would in a camera composition. My career has taught me how to express lots of detail without taking up too much time. I do my best to show and not tell. 

4) I was impressed because I had some obscure world building questions about In The Orbit of Sirens, and you were READY with a response! You had said that it was originally in the book but got edited out and I felt like I could see the holes where the information was before – how do you (or the editor) decide what makes the final cut in the book?  How much did the finished product change would you say from the original?

I have all the answers! I had planned to begin In the Orbit of Sirens very differently. Originally, Eliana and John Veston were on the Telemachus at the same time as Denton. I cut it and started it with Eliana on Kamaria with the forward scout team because it was honestly very dull the other way. Lots of explaining how they made it there and what they needed to accomplish. One of my beta readers actually suggested Eliana should just be on Kamaria in the beginning because Kamaria is where the meat of the story takes place. So before the change, I had written out the first scouting mission and how it all worked {{the techie info}}.  There is a whole chapter I wrote about that. It might make it into a prequel novella, but I will revisit that idea after publishing book 3. 

5) How do you feel about brunch? I think I have to start asking authors their favorite brunch item!

Second breakfast?! I’ll admit, mainly thanks to work from home, my eating schedule is all over the place. I don’t formally recognize any meal anymore, haha. But if I had to sit and consider brunch, I’d probably enjoy a sandwich wrap or some sort. Loves my wraps.

{{Here I will tell readers that in the Northeast, brunch is considered a combo of breakfast and lunch, usually with alcohol, or in some cases refers to breakfast for lunch.  Now I know what L.A. does 😂}}

6) What was your publishing journey like? Do you have any advice for hopeful authors trying to write or publish a book?

I think publishing in 2021 is an interesting field. Initially, I attempted to get traditionally published, but after many rejections, I reevaluated my priorities. What did I want? What did I want my future to look like? And most importantly, how much longer did I want to sit on In the Orbit of Sirens? For the record, the final version of In the Orbit of Sirens is very different from the one I queried. I don’t blame those agents for rejecting me.  When I realized that I enjoy my day job, and that the only story I really wanted to tell was the Song of Kamaria, and that the validation of a committee of publishers didn’t mean anything to me, I realized I’d be better suited to self-publish. I’m very glad I did too! I have total control over the story I’m putting out. I got to pool together all my resources and friendships and pump my entire body and soul into these books. I got to meet so many great people, including you! I also got to bring in my friend Jason Hall to do the illustrations in my book. I always loved his art style!

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At the end of the day, I can say The Song of Kamaria is ME. The cover, the illustrations, and the words all spawned from my resources, connections, and skillset. I’m so happy with how it’s being received as well. It just makes me more proud of being self-published and taking the risk of being my own boss.

7) Kamaria runs the entire spectrum of scifi, from interstellar war to space ships, futuristic technology, first contact… which idea came first? Do you remember what idea or theme you built the book around?

I knew I wanted to do something I hadn’t seen before, and most of my decisions sprang from “what haven’t I seen yet?” I wanted to write a story about starting over and making new choices. So a desperate escape to a new planet with limited resources felt like the best way to do that. I wanted to make Kamaria something unique. The native Kamarians are nothing like anything from Earth, so they are not based on Earth life. They are technologically advanced, but in a way that nurtures a peaceful life that utilizes the land around them. I also wanted to explore the parts of human nature that involve lying and truths. Readers might have noticed that you can’t lie to the auk’nai (mainly because it’s said between characters often) but that the Undriel are huge liars. Humans are in the middle, sometimes deceiving each other and sometimes being painfully truthful. I had not seen that before, and I felt it was worth writing about. I know this answer is a little scatterbrained, but I’ll conclude it by saying I had MANY brainstorms about what this trilogy should be before starting. 

8)  Here is the easy round of rapid fire bookish questions – do you have a favorite book or series you always recommend? Favorite literary character? Any wonderful or strange bookish habit?

I am loving Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep trilogy (I’ll admit I haven’t finished it yet, but the first two books are some of my favorite Sci-fi). But I always recommend Dan Simmon’s Hyperion Cantos to everyone. Vinge’s series can be a little bit of a slow burn that I specifically loved, but Hyperion is just excellent sci-fi that anyone could love. Favorite literary character Piranesi from the book of the same name. He was just fantastic, and I did the audiobook, voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who made him even more charming. And my weird bookish quirk is often buying multiple versions of the same book. It’s not unusual for me to have an e-book, physical copy, and an audiobook of the same book sometimes. Typically if I do audiobook and enjoy it enough, I will buy a physical copy for my shelf. And if I’m leaving a review on Amazon, I’ll buy an e-book with my author account instead of my personal one so that my review shows up as a “verified purchase.” Plus, it helps support my self-published friends.

9) Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! If there’s anything else you’d like to say about anything, please do so here!

Thank you for the interview! I really enjoyed these questions. For those looking to jump into the world of Kamaria, now is a great time! The second book, On the Winds of Quasars, releases September 20th, 2021. Currently, the e-book is available to preorder, but softcovers and hardcovers will also be available on the 20th. I hope you enjoy your time on Kamaria!


Meet the author!

T. A. BRUNO grew up in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the film industry. Since then, he has brought stories to life for over a decade as a previsualization artist. At home, he is a proud father of two boys and a husband to a wonderful wife. IN THE ORBIT OF SIRENS is his debut science fiction novel.

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Links:

Twitter:

https://mobile.twitter.com/TABrunoAuthor

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/tabrunoauthor/

The Song of Kamaria series Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09B4YVKGT?binding=kindle_edition&ref=dbs_dp_rwt_sb_tukn

Author website: TABruno.com

In the Orbit of Sirens audiobook link: https://www.audible.com/pd/In-the-Orbit-of-Sirens-Audiobook/B08X5XVW8Q?qid=1614184804&sr=1-1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=83218cca-c308-412f-bfcf-90198b687a2f&pf_rd_r=BFGSJEZSWAPDEDGY62HQ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20726865.T_A_Bruno

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: with Clemy Warner-Thompson

Welcome to the second installment of the Sunday Brunch Author Interview series! It is a working goal to (maybe find a better title and) bring an Author Interview to you lovely people every Sunday morning!

Today I have author Clemy Walker-Thompson joining all the way from the UK! Without further ado, here she is!

 

Thank you for taking the time to chat! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your writing!

Hi everybody, my name is Clemy. I have been writing since I was thirteen, and I turn thirty at the end of this year. How time has flown! I love anything fantasy, reading books like Hush Hush, Fallen and Eragon. The books I write are also fantasy, with most of them being Young Adult (YA).. Only my newest two are reaching into the New Adult (NA) category. I have two gorgeous cats who are only just two, and I live with my boyfriend in the UK.

 

What was the Indie publishing journey like for you? Do you have any tips for fellow indie authors trying to publish a book?

After my first book was completed and I’d started working on the next two in the series, I went straight to self-publishing. As every author does, I have the dream of one day seeing my book in a well-known book shop, but for my writing journey so far self-publishing has been the right direction for me. I am a little shy and the idea of being in the public eye is very daunting, so I like the freedom and control you have from self-publishing. It can be very hard at times, with all the marketing and promoting you have to do, but it gives you a taste of what being published is like. 

Make sure you have faith in your own work, before you search for readers

 

I found your book on Smashwords but had not heard of that site before, what led you to it? What do you like about it instead of say, Amazon?

I was only fifteen when I first started looking into self-publishing. I didn’t have a job and I needed something that would be free. My brother, who had published his first book at 16 with Amazon had always said after it was made available, that once something was on Amazon it could never be removed, and the idea of that just put me off a little.

Smashwords has served me well, so too has Lulu where my paperbacks are available, but I will be looking into Amazon a little more now that I have polished off some of my earlier books.

 

What’s your relationship like with social media?  Have you found good support in the writing community?

From the start, I have always had a presence on Facebook. My page has 2000+ likers and followers, and at the beginning it gave me a great push. I met some other authors and arranged some book signings all through Facebook, but as I have matured as a writer I feel that Facebook has very little positive engagement now. Recently I moved over to Instagram and the writing community there is amazing.

Instagram definitely has the engagement with readers and other authors that I was missing from Facebook. Sometimes I spend a little too much time on social media, but when you self-publish that is something you have to do a lot of in order to get your books out there. You should take breaks from social media though!

 

There are a literal endless supply of indie writers out there, has it been a challenge to have your work seen?

Definitely. I still struggle to this day. If you don’t have the confidence or the courage to get yourself out there, it can be a very difficult task. I have had some amazing readers, and in turn some fantastic reviews left for my books, but I still feel as if I haven’t pushed my books out into the world enough yet.

I checked last week and I have sold to four continents so far, which is such a proud announcement for to me make, but there are places I still haven’t got to yet!

Four continents is amazing though, congrats on that!

 

YA books are changing now with popular themes, what themes do you like to write about? 

I love encouraging strong relationships between family and friends. There are often sibling characters in most of my books which are always very close. I love writing about redemption and proving oneself. Destiny and fate are also themes I like to work with, but I make my characters always follow their heart, even if that means going against the fate that is planned for them. 

 

You started writing at age ..13? What inspired you then and now?

My brother who is four years older than me, self-published his first book at 16. I’d grown up with 4 brothers, with films and games and many books shared throughout the years, and I just wanted to follow in his footsteps. The funny thing is that I continued on with the writing journey and he didn’t. It was only the one book he self-published in the end, and I am currently working on my 8th

 

Alright let’s end this with the easy rapid fire general bookish questions:  Do you have a favorite book that you always recommend? Favorite character? What genre do you usually read? Do you have any strange and wonderful bookish habits?

I love Roald Dahl: Matilda, The Twits, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

For my favourite character I would choose Saphira out of Eragon. She is the dragon that hatches for him.

Fantasy. Anything and all that is fantasy.

Hmmm, that’s a hard one. I think I’d have to say I always buy a book because of the cover.  Even if the story sounds amazing, if I don’t like the cover I won’t buy it. 

 

Thank you so much again for offering to interview! If there is anything else you want to say about yourself, your novels, your life, or anything at all, please do so here!

I am very proud of where I have reached so far in my writing journey, but there are bigger and brighter points I have yet to get to. I appreciate every one of my readers and the reviews they leave. I wouldn’t still be writing now, if it wasn’t because of you all.


Find Clemy and her books!

On Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ClemyWarnerThompson

On Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/cwarnerthompson/

On GoodReads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5328411.Clemy_Warner_Thompson

To purchase E-Books

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CWarnerThompson

To purchase paperbacks:

https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/clemy-warner-thompson