Author Thomas A Fowler tagged me in this continuing series of blog hops.
First up: Props to the tagger. Thomas A Fowler and I are Twitter friends, and have been for quite some time. (You can follow him at: @thomasafowler) In fact, Thomas wrote about me in one of his blog posts last year, and, being that I am your typical narcissistic human, it earned him a spot in my “favorite tweeps” list. But in all seriousness, I like reading his posts and tweets, and it’s very exciting to be part of a writers’ community on social media.
To quote his “about” section on his blog, Thomas is a “Broadcast and Digital Producer at a Denver Ad Agency by day, Writer of Commercial Mainstream and Science-Fiction by Night. Bringing you all the Marketing & Writing advice you need as we take on the Writer’s Conquest together.” Sweet.
Now, onward and upward.
1. What am I working on?
I am working on several different projects, though, my next Spirit Lake Series book is taking precedence for the next few months. Since I just released book two, I want to keep the momentum going by getting book three out in a timely manner. So far, I have over 3K words in my WIP, and am super excited to be world building again. You can click HERE to read the synopses for the first two books in the series.
Another project I am working on has to do with the retelling of my exciting and adventure-filled summer in Spain. I lived abroad this year, for part of the summer, and definitely had some story-worthy experiences.
I also began penning a non-fiction sort of inspirational/self-help kind of book. I’m hoping to have it finished by the end of this year, or at least by the end of January 2015. We shall see what happens.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My first book, Feast Island, is a Young Adult Fantasy with, as one reviewer put it, “a refreshing lack of make-out scenes.” Feast Island is the type of book that borders between middle grade and young adult, so it’s fairly “clean” and even the gruesome stuff is not as crazy as could be. However, The Wrong Fairy Tale, Feast Island’s follow-up, is definitely more young adult in that there is some romance, cursing, and (at times) grisly violence. The characters are growing up, and I wanted to convey that. I think that the contrast makes my work different from what’s generally and currently out there, and I like hearing from my readers that my books are unique and surprising.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Growing up, I was a total bookworm. I was THAT KID who got in trouble for staying up late because I was reading. My dad introduced me to the coolest books, and I blame him for my fantasy genre addiction. There I was, this 13-year-old kid, reading adult fantasy books about King Arthur and stuff. I just couldn’t get enough!
My mom was always cool with my book addiction too, and she bought my sister and I a book every time a book magazine came through our mail. Granted, it was usually Christian fiction, but I managed to find the series that were more obscure and (to me) provided hours of real life escape. One of my favorite series was The Seven Sleepers by Gilbert L Morris, and some of my ideas for my series were inspired by his middle grade books.
I think that fantasy fiction provides a healthy escape from the mundane–or tragic–in life. Middle school wasn’t particularly kind to me, and books were some of my greatest friends. I felt like I could relate to many characters I was reading about, and that I was right there with them, living their adventures. Because this particular genre had such a positive influence on my life, I hope that my fantasy fiction stories will do the same for my readers. That my books will provide them with a healthy escape and the means to see themselves more clearly.
4. How does my writing process work?
I have been asked this many times, and every time, my process has changed a bit. I think that it’s important for writers–and any artist, really–to continually evolve in their craft. Every story is different, and as such, every story needs permission to be told the way it wants. Typically, I DO outline each book I write, but even the outlines differ.
I have experimented with writing purely on Scrivner, only to find that I prefer Word. I have also tried outlining on Word, which worked well for a while until I went back to outlining by hand. I keep a separate journal for each book so that my ideas are confined, and I focus on that particular story. Oftentimes, ideas hit me at the most random and sometimes inconvenient times, so it’s important that I keep my journal with me to capture those ideas. I DO sleep with my journal on my nightstand and have had a few instances where I woke up at 2am with an idea and wrote it down.
When I was living in Spain this summer, I began going on walks around 9pm, my journal in tow. The sun didn’t set until 9:30pm or so, and I was most definitely inspired by the beauty of nature. I lived in Alicante, a beach city, so I’d go to a more quiet area by the beach (avoiding the huge touristy area) and sit on a bench to take in the scenery. Sometimes I’d write down something to move my story forward, sometimes I’d journal about general life reflections, or sometimes I’d simply sit there and let my mind wander. That routine actually helped me to write so much more this year than ever before, and I think it’s important to remember that quiet reflection can be more productive than we realize.
And, of course, I read a lot. Since I am also an editor, I read for work besides reading for pleasure. This year alone, I have edited 12 books, in addition to reading 30+ for fun. I read AND edit in several different genres, and my brain soaks up everything. Though I can always improve, I have definitely developed a writers’ coach sort of mentality, and I can spot what makes a story great–and what makes it a flop. Because of this, I am that much more nit picky about my writing, and catch so much when I edit my own works.
Tag, you’re it!
Brea Essex is a wife, mom, YA/NA author, recovering soda addict, and wannabe pop star (but only in her own home). She is owned by several cats, and one cat-dog. Her books, Foreshadow and Overshadow, Book One and Two of The Shadow Imperium Trilogy, and Ouroboros, Book One of The Seven Relics Saga, are available now on major outlets.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting TK Harris. I asked her some questions in order to not only get to know her a bit, but to have a better understanding of her writing process. I must admit that I have yet to finish her book, but I am really enjoying it thus far! I hope you enjoy her interview and will check out her book, Phantom Dreams.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself—what’s your background and how did you become a writer? I grew up as a military brat and traveled and lived all over the world when I was younger, and later for work. I am a Gemini through and through, split personality and all! I think it helps me with my writing, which I have been doing since I can remember. Before Phantom Dreams, I sold several short stories to anthologies and magazines, including Woman’s World.
I love to travel, hike, eat chocolate, drink wine, and spend time with my family!
2. What is the genre in which you write? Phantom Dreams is a mystery/suspense/thriller. My next book may have more of a conspiracy twist to it. The reason I say may is because I have a few other books I’ve been working on, one with a sort of fantasy twist along the lines similar to the Kim Harrison Rachel Morgan series, and the other is more of a general fiction along the lines of Dan Brown’s Angel’s and Demons.
It’s not that I’m wishy/washy or anything; I just really like the flexibility of writing what I want to write. And I hope that doesn’t turn off my readers but interests them instead.
Right now my problem is trying to decide if I should go with a mystery/conspiracy book or a post Revelations zombie hunter book…
3. What is the book you recently had published? Phantom Dreams What is it all about? Phantom Dreams is about a woman whose nightmares start to become reality. She dreams of women dying and soon discovers that somehow her dreams seem to be connected to a monster who the media calls the Coast-to-Coast Killer. But instead of her being just a weird, sort of off-to-the-side kind of witness, she becomes a prime suspect.
4. Have you published or written any other works? Yes. I’ve had several short stories published that I sold to various anthologies and magazines. You can find some of them listed on my website under publishing credits.
5. Name the top three favorite characters you’ve made up and explain why they’re your favorites.
Jack, the FBI agent in Phantom Dreams. He’s vulnerable but tough, and cares a lot about his job and the victims.
Drea from To Date a Corpse – my post Revelations zombie hunter book. Mostly because she’s a young fairly ordinary kind of gal, whose just made a deal with the Devil. Literally. But not the kind of deal you’d expect. And she is facing a world of serial killer zombies and dealing with it but not with extraordinary powers—just who she is as a person.
Norah, an assassin turned nun, turned back to assassin when her daughter is kidnapped. Mostly because she can kick ass. J
6. Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it? Yes. Yes. Yes and yes! At first I floundered. I had been writing so much I had “dried up my well” so to speak. So, I took a break and then later read that writing leads to writing. So I started just writing every day on my book and, eventually, it went away!
7. How long did it take to finish your first novel? If I had done it all at once? It would have taken a year. But, I let life detour me. So it took 7. I won’t let that happen with the next book!
8. What were the challenges you faced when getting your first book published? How to do it? If I was going to go Indie or look for a publisher? Where was I going to find an editor? Did I need an agent? Mostly answering all of those questions and then figuring out how to do what I needed to do for the path I chose.
9. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found that work best for your genre? I have used my website, www.tkharrisonline.com, Facebook, a blog tour, placing ads on ebook sites. Things like that. Some have been more successful than others. I think I’m still trying to figure out the right “formula”. If there is one!
10. What does your writing process “look” like? Write. Write. Write. Chaotically. Try to get organized. Write some more. Try to edit. Get frustrated with editing. Put the book aside. (Usually in a tantrum). Suck it up. Pull out note cards and create a story board. And then edit. Put the book in front of beta readers. Edit some more. Turn in to professional editor. Done.
11. What projects are you currently working on? Besides the books I mentioned above? Putting a story together for a fantasy anthology, working on a patent I have, and trying to get my life in a much more organized state!
12. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? When Phantom Dreams first came back form the beta reading they all said the same thing. Kathy – the main character – was boring. Ouch! What has been the best compliment? That, one reader got to a point in the book where she couldn’t put it down and had to sit in her car outside of her gym to finish it. How cool is that?
13. What advice can you give to aspiring authors? Don’t shirk the hard work of editing and, go for it. Just go for it. Even if it means self-publishing. Just do it!
14. When can we expect to see another publication of your work? Fall of next year.
15. Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans and readers? I have fans? Won’t that be cool? To my readers? A) I hope you liked Phantom Dreams. B) PLEASE leave feedback using the Contact Form on my website! C) Which would you rather see next: A conspiracy novel or a post Revelations zombie hunter mystery?
16. What’s are some cool (or nerdy) facts about you that you’ll share with us? I started riding motorcycles (crotch rockets) when I was 37 – I recently sold my Ninja 650 so I can buy a Yamaha FZ1. I was a member of the Civil Air Patrol when I was a kid. And I’ve lived and worked in 7 countries.
17. Finally, how can we find you? What are your social media sites and where can we purchase your book(s)?
T.K. Harris, who currently lives in Colorado, is a Solutions Architect, teacher, and full-time mother. She has been a story teller since she could talk and has had several short stories purchased by professional magazines such as Woman’s World. She is excited that her first novel – Phantom Dreams – has now been published.
A scorned serial killer on an old vendetta. An FBI agent who has been chasing monsters for too long. A woman whose nightmares start invading her waking life. FBI Special Agent Jack Matthews finds himself on yet another serial killer case, having barely recovered from the last disastrous hunt. Still stiff from a gun shot wound in his leg, under investigation for a botched job, and having lost his fiancée when she walked out on him, Jack is beginning to wonder if it isn’t time to move on to something new. But, for Jack, these cases are personal and he can’t say no. Marketing specialist Kathy Gilliam leads a fairly boring life. If she’s not working or caring for her ailing father, then she is doing whatever it takes to avoid going anywhere near crowds of people. Her few distractions include her friend Margo Longfellow, occasional hiking trips, and her increasingly alarming dreams of women dying. As her nightmares cause her to begin to doubt her sanity, the media releases news of the “Coast-to-Coast Killer” and Kathy discovers her dreams may be related. In a moment of panic, Kathy does something that places her on the FBI’s “persons of interest” list. Suddenly, her life is set on a collision course with Jack who must decide if Kathy is the killer or destined to become a victim.