I am Kristina, a 35 year old wife and mother who battles an illness called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which is very debilitating, leading to frequent collapses and wheelchair usage whenever I leave the house. Although by suffering from it does mean I get more time to write! When I am not writing I do other creative things like spin, knit, crochet and sew, and of course, read!
I find lots of things inspire my ideas. The places I visit, the books I read, the people I meet and the events that happen in my life. My characters are often the first thing that come to me, before they even have a story to fit into. Firstly, they have a name, then they have characteristics and develop their own personalities, often in a very short period of time. They have been known the wake me up at 4 a.m. and talk to me, if I have not paid attention to them during the day. When I write my short stories I use both the first person and third person. There is not one particular style that suits me better, well at least what I think suits me better. Others may have differing ideas.
My current release Feathers has been described as "the ultimate feel good book". These are stories about the main character overcoming some obstacle and ending up in a happy ending. I am a bit of a sucker for a happy ending, that is why I wrote these. Some have a little light romance, some are amusing, all I hope will make the reader 'feel good'.
My next release, due out around the 14th May, is Whispers a collection of paranormal short stories, full of ghostly apparitions and odd happenings. Some are a little spooky, one has a monk that tries to murder women in the graveyard of a church near where I live! Where others are amusing. At the moment my début novel, The Fools Journey, is scheduled for release on Halloween. This is about a Witch, not the fantasy sort, the pagan path-following sort, and her journey through one phase of her life. Each chapter is one of the archetypal majors within the Tarot deck. The characteristics of the card shape what happens within that particulalr chapter. We start off with The Fool, the main character taking a leap into the unknown and heading out in a new direction, some thinking she has acted in folly. Ending up with The World, when that phase of her life reaches completion. The journey is not a smooth one. The book incorporates, ghost, history and tarot cards!
I feel I am a very emotive writer. I try and conjure up the places I visit, or how I feel in my writing. This way I hope the reader gets transported there, and for the length of time it takes to read what they are reading, they are someone else or somewhere else. I often find when I visit somewhere I think, Oh now here would be good to set... I have a document of little bits of inspiration I gather when out and about. One good thing about using a wheelchair, the perspective of the world shifts and you do see more. Every book has some settings which are in Wales, where I am currently living. Although The Fools Journey starts off here, there might be a shift in location, as The Tower card has an effect on her life.
Once I have written something, before I start on it again I read through what I have just written, making any adjustments before I carry on. Someone I met on the forums on Facebook suggested this process, and I have now made it my own. However, for the final edit and proofread I send it onto my professional editor. Downside to living with illness is the inability to focus for long and having days where your brain feels like a pink blancmange. So I choose to have someone make sure I have not made any clangers.
The characters in my short stories are wide and varying. In Feathers there is Ifan who is so caught up in grief after his mothers' death he only seems to see the world through his window, rather than going out and living his life. A gift from the grave changes everything. Grace's shock death of her Mother opens a whole new life to her in surprising ways. From Whispers there is Jane who went to investigate a church yard at dusk, Claire who falls over a cliff after hearing ghostly footsteps on the path. The main character in The Fools Journey is Moira, ah now there is a woman full of vigour and drive. She is creative, fiery, passionate and perhaps even a little scary at times. She also has a very caring heart, which is sometimes easily hurt, as she cannot understand some people's perspective on the world!
My own beliefs and experiences have shaped a lot of the stories. I've loved ghosts and things paranormal since a child. As I grew up I knew my beliefs where not conformist to a particular religion. It was only by encountering someone on my path, did I know there was a name to what I felt. I read Tarot cards, I am a practising Witch, not of the black-fingered cackling kind, well unless the mood takes me.
I love Terry Pratchett, for he is someone who can create such fantastic characters and manage to hold up a mirror to reality and twist the image. He is battling his own problem and determined to make the most of what he has whilst he still has it. He inspires me in many ways, although we are perhaps genres apart.
Once I have released Whispers, and then The Fools Journey. I am working with a couple of paranormal investigators and have planned a series of books, which follows a paranormal investigator and their findings and life. They involve historic 'flashbacks' where the reader gets to see what happened in the lead up to the death of the spirit's human body.
As I am a fairly creative being, apart from my writing I've worked on my own covers, and obtained images through dreamstime.com. The latest image, however, came from a friend.
I am a fairly spontaneous person who will often say, 'let's go to...', but I don't like having an end goal or a particular direction to head off in. This has influenced my writing. For my short stories I get an idea, then I think about how I want this idea to go, then I write it. The Fools Journey has been planned. I have set out what I want from each chapter, what key points I want to happen, but the rest is left to inspiration.
The biggest thing I have had to overcome is my self-doubt. I think it was because I grew up with the majority of people telling me I was not good enough, waste of time, etc., I guess I am a very stubborn person, and when I set my heart and mind to something I usually achieve it. Although I do think Fate gave me a helping hand.
I've always written, or wanted to write. I was published in a school magazine. I then wrote poetry, and have six poems published. I've done a short course on how to structure a novel. Now, I generally I seek advice as I go along of those who have been here before.
If anyone is out there thinking about writing and either publishing themselves or through an indie press - Do it! Set yourself small achievable targets, and create stepping stones to where it is you want to be. If you want to aim for the stars, then do it.
I usually write in my 'room', which is my craft-room come writing-room. Although on bad-health days, after a bad collapse I usually write from the confines of my sofa. Fairly frequently my cat Bono is found helping me. I write whenever I get the chance, even at 4 a.m. in the morning. I make coffee, light incense and meditate for a few minutes centring myself away from outside hassles, then just do it. Breaking for more coffee or a stretch as the body starts to rebel.
The planning and research seems to take longer than the writing. I've been working on the concept of The Fools Journey for 18 months. The actual writing time I hope will take about 3 months.
Feathers I wrote partially as my 'look what I can do'. It is, after all, full of stories about overcoming adversity. Perhaps it may seem slightly egotistical, but when my friend Sarah set up Ethics Trading as an Indie Press, where she formats and publishes the book and you retain all rights to your book, it seemed the ideal time to write it.
I would like to target someone who enjoys reading. I try and create books in the way I like to read them, creating escapism. I love the escapism I get when I write, similar to what I get when I am reading. I loose myself in the book and the story. I hate editing and finding 'urgh that's not right'. I try and write between 500 - 1000 words a day depending on circumstance. Often I achieve more. When it comes to actually settling down to write, I try not to get sidetracked once I have started. Unfortunately, life as wife and mother does throw in a few surprises. I must admit I have not tried for traditional publishers, I think any rejection letters would end up in the ash pit of the fire. I might put The Fools Journey into audio format, but not really certain until it is finished. Short stories don't make good audio! I am not sure whether I write like anyone else out there. I guess I am fairly individual If I am stuck in a scene I will listen to music.
Incubus Sukkubus is good for creating a scene which is Witchy related (they are a pagan rock group) and classical if I want to conjurer up a particular emotion. To write by I prefer silence It is noisy enough in my own head as it is! When I am not writing I like to read. JRR Tolkien and Terry Pratchett are my all-time two favourite authors. I am fairly eclectic in my taste of books, trying most things once. Although I'll probably get bitten on the neck for saying this, I really don't get Vampires!
I am proud that I can write. I have had to give up so much since developing POTS, because I cannot physically do things. Like playing ball with the kids, taking them to the beach or out shopping. Writing is the one thing I can still do and will do as long as I have ideas in my head.
I wrote a nanowrimo book called Charlotte, but it would need 75% re-writing if it were ever to see the light of day. My strongest area as a writer is the ability to let people experience what is going on in the book. However, the biggest thing I would like to still improve is my self-doubt! I know it seems silly, I am a Leo, I quite enjoy being the centre of attention and have been known to be the life and soul of a party. Although when I work I prefer solitude, that aside I still lack confidence in what I do. Maybe this is due to having to deal with illness or maybe not.
I think if I was stuck on a Desert Island I would take five books with me. 1) Terry Pratchett's Guards trilogy (yes that is cheating); 2) Terry Pratchett's Witches trilogy (yes another cheat); 3) Lord of the rings (semi cheat); 4) The Hobbit; and 5) A book on how to build a boat and get off the desert island! No hot running water, no baths, no wine and no family and friends, eek!
Hi folks. This unique form of interview has the feel of standing alone naked in an interrogation room surrounded by one-way mirrors. I don’t know if everyone behind the virtual glass is laughing or if there’s no one there. So here I go (with hands adroitly covering all naughty bits)…
Although I had written short stories since adolescence, I didn’t become a serious writer until well into adulthood when I was working in the film industry in Hollywood as a sculptor. (I had been in the fine arts world for fifteen years before that, but tis another tale to tell.) Being on or around films sets everyday and working with actors, directors and writers gave me firsthand experience of what a screenplay required. To learn how to accomplish that feat, I took many writing courses from the top writers, editors and story structure gurus of the day. To compliment the cerebral part of the learning curve, I took acting and directing workshops where I made four short films.
A two-part mini-series I wrote got a lot of buzz, but alas, never made it to the tiny screen. I was encouraged to write it as a novel, so went off to Bali and wrote, Back from the Dead; the true sequel to Frankenstein. It was published in 2005. This summer I will release it as an ebook and re-release it as a paperback with a new cover.
Since I come from a fine arts background, I’m fortunate to be able to make my own covers. I use Photoshop and images I’ve taken myself or gathered from copyright-free sources. I usually alter the images to such a degree that the original sources are undetectable.
My ideas come from everywhere. My problem is deciding which one I want to spend three to six months with 24 hours a day. I used to think I chose my stories, but really, they choose me. I write in all genres because, like my many careers, my interests are wide and varied. The genre that I write depends solely on the story I decide to follow. I’ve written almost twenty screenplays and five novels. I now alternate between writing novels and screenplays.
When I first began to write screenplays, I made detailed treatments, character and scene studies, and put everything on 3x5 index cards to shuffle around. I didn’t write fade in until the complete story and every plot point was hammered and annealed to perfection. I don’t do that anymore. Stephen King’s On Writing gave me a bit of advice that stuck. He essentially said, forget about all that stuff and just write the damn thing. The characters will let you know when the story is finished. He’s right. Now, I let the gist of the story percolate in my head for days or weeks, then sit down and write. I let the characters lead the story. This way I’m just as enthralled as a reader should be when they’re engrossed in a good book.
Because I have a strong background in screenplay structure and dialogue, I don’t think it would be wise for the first-time writer to attempt this approach. Complete a few books and/or screenplays before trying to wing it. I see writers time and again get lost in rambling storylines and fractured structure with word counts that would make Stephen King blush. I would suggest that every writer learn how to write a screenplay. Screenplays are like poetry in that that they define a story in its simplest terms. Plotting for me now, even with novels, is almost like a magical second nature. But I have to stay close to the story and write every day. I don’t write by word count, I write by my exhaustion limit (LOL).
You have to be able to let go of the self and allow the characters to be who they are. This takes some time to develop. I started developing characters by watching people interact. Many times, the most annoying people make endearing characters. It’s also great fun to get revenge on those who have wronged you by writing their personalities into not-so-pleasant characters or even killing them outright. (I couldn’t find an evil smiley - No, but I could: Tim!) Characters mostly define the plot points because it’s what they do and how they react that determines which way the story will go. You have to not only know your characters, you have to be them.
While the characters define how the story is told, the story defines the settings. Describing a setting by how your characters experience them tends to make even mundane settings unique. My screenplays are written in third person. Two of my novels are written in third person, and two alternate between first and third. The POV in screenplays is determined by whoever rules the scene. In novels I tend to like omniscient narrators where the POV changes. Mostly, I do this by devoting a chapter to one POV, but in my latest book, Epiphany POV changes with the chapter and with the character. Since I do it for the entire book, it doesn’t get confusing.
I write strong first drafts because I do what every writing teacher cautions against; rewrite as I write. I’m not advising anyone else to do this. My brain works faster than I can write, so I see mistakes or better ways to say something immediately after I write it. I seem to have no problem picking up my train of thought after my bout of mini-editing. All my other drafts are mostly hard polishes. Sometimes I drop or add chapters or other bits. My writing group is more help than they realize, as their comments allow me to see things I’m way too close to. If at all possible, I recommend that every writer join or start a writing group. It makes no difference what level you’re at.
One of the most helpful, yet devastating positions to be in as a writer is having to face other writers, producers, agents and development people who’ve read reams more than you and know what is being written at the cutting edge and have them tear your writing to shreds. As this happens less and less, you know you must be getting better. It also teaches you how to keep your own mouth shut and accept criticism, even if you believe it’s totally asinine. The main thing I’ve learned from running the gauntlet of professional story analysts is to be 100% sure of your initial story idea before you invest months or years of your life. Nothing is so devastating as hearing someone say within the first thirty seconds of a pitch to, "Stop right there. We’ve heard that before a thousand times."
Right now I have two books up on Kindle and Smashwords. Original Blood is a unique vampire story told in first person by a young woman artist as she becomes a vampire even though she’s never been bitten. Her developing relationship with her 17th century grandmother’s former lover is helped by third person flashbacks of her grandmother as she’s turned, then rages against the vampire nation.
I've been placed high in a number of writing contests. The last one was in December placing second in the One-in-Ten International Writing Contest for the screenplay, Claiming Lives. I've optioned screenplays. I was a finalist in 2005 WriteMovies International Contest for my first published novel, Back from the Dead: the true sequel to Frankenstein; quarter-finalist in 2009 Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Awards for my third book, Shadow House; and semi-finalist in the 2009 International Writer's Network Contest, and semi-finalist in the 2009 WriteMovies International Contest with Original Blood; and was finalist (13 out of 5000 entries) in 2009 Erotic Writing Contest on Bettersex.com, and published in their anthology. A photo I shot was a finalist and included in the 2010 Tabletop Photo Book by EroticSignature: The World's Greatest Erotic Art of Today (v3).
Shadow House is a psychological paranormal thriller that alternates between past and present where an average family man is pitted against the spirit of a dead murderer to save himself and his family. In 1920's Massachusetts, the killer PJ McAvoy believes Aaron Molina is responsible for his family's death, so devotes a lifetime of vengeance against this man—born fifty years later.
But the book I’d like to talk about here is the soon to be released cross-genre literary sci-fi mystery thriller, Epiphany. As every girl in the world reaches adolescence, she becomes spontaneously pregnant. However, all their babies will be…girls. This is only the beginning for a core group of international doctors, scientists and mothers-to-be to find the cause and solution before humanity is bred out of existence.
The story has no specific main character, but follows an ensemble cast of several pregnant girls and scientists from settings in the mid-east, Africa, Russia, the Amazon and USA. Some of them make their way to a small medical facility in the mid-west in an international effort to find the cause and solution to a seemingly disastrous world-wide event. The initial main characters in America are a black woman biochemist, her Caucasian doctor husband and their 12 year old daughter. The biochemist agrees to partner with the government and turn her lab into a testing facility. Rounding out the cast are the foreign girls, a woman secret service agent, a male homeland security agent, a small town reporter and a Russian scientist. Each character is deeply drawn with all the strengths and frailties we know in the people around us. But each rises to the situation to which they are presented through their own
strength and with the help of the newly-formed family made up of disparate souls.
The story came to me in a dream and I immediately wrote down the general concept. That was ten years ago. I didn’t write it for all that time because I had a great story but no characters. Also the scope of the story scared the bejesus out of me. About a year ago I decided to force the characters into life, something I’d never done before. I sat at the computer sweating those cliché bullets. Somehow, as if possessed, I wrote the first line. It was the most poignant, passionate and infuriating first line I’ve ever written. When I tested the first chapter with over a dozen people, everyone said it was impossible not to read the complete chapter after that opening. However, when I finished that first chapter I was right back where I started (as you will understand when you read it). Without thinking about it, I dove into chapter two. Characters formed from the ether; people who were needed to solve the riddle of the story. Obsession took me for the next six months.
This book required a huge amount of research as everything in it is scientifically valid and nothing is paranormal. I used the Internet, but also interviewed paediatricians, ophthalmologists, infant care specialists, geneticists, teachers and, of
course, lots of mothers and daughters. Although this story involves pregnant preteen and tween girls, no babies or underage mothers were exploited in the writing of this novel. This story and the other three are available to view with cover and sample chapters on my Website and contact me through Facebook. Thanks to everyone out there in the magical electron universe for reading my babble. As they say where I live… Sawatdee krup le khop khun krup!
Stuart's books are also available in the UK: Shadow House and Original Blood.
Knowing me as a writer and author is like cracking an egg’s shell in the air and wondering how far the splatter will spread. Wait, that’s kind of like knowing me as a person. I’m like all over the board and always working on three to five projects at a time. I have no favorite spots to work and my view tends to be pointed at the keyboard. When an idea comes into my head I just flow with it. I haven’t been able to conform my writing to any specific pattern. I am more than often working on one story and the characters from another will just be dying to get my attention and I have to go into their world.
I tend to write in various genres from fiction to picture books. Using pen (same one for the past eleven years) and paper, laptop and as a new favorite the word program on my cell phone. I have found I can write anywhere with that little contraption and my focus is intense. Has to be with those tiny keys, right? And then I just email to myself and copy post into my manuscript.
Before becoming a self-published author I followed the rules. Wrote outlines, character back stories, did the word counting, queries and everything. I even had an agent once. Unfortunately he was a horrible choice. Directed me away from Ballantine books (wish I would have known who they were then) who wanted The Perfect Solution and straight into the corrupt hands of Publish America. What a crock. After that fiasco I was so humiliated I couldn’t write. Fought and had my rights returned and now, I am back. I tried the querying again, but became frustrated when it seems the agents’ rules are so varied, too confusing for me. Not to mention the rejection letters can be soul crushing. I received a lot of positive reviews for The Perfect Solution when it was first published and yet when I began querying one agent informed me no one would like the book and yet it deals with negligence in the child care system. So, off I ran on my own. I have recently put three novels, three picture books and a creative non-fiction book into the Amazon and Smashwords systems. I think e-publishing is one of the greatest inventions God has given to the world. I would advise any author to go that route when they have something they feel strongly about.
The Fishing Trip - a thriller, is not based on a real life person, but more on the emotions and anger I feel when reading about another poor child being molested and killed. It does to the perverted what I cannot. You can view the video trailer below.
Oh, and to let you know I do have a stable life….I am the (always single) mother of three daughters who are all grown now, 27, 25, and nearly 20 years old and I home schooled them on a string and a prayer. Though it may seem as if I am a bit scatterbrained I was able to school them into college by the age of seventeen and sixteen. The two eldest have graduated, yeah! I am the drooling proud ‘Lovey’ of a baby boy named Jett Parker Ellington and that’s me and my writing life in a nutshell.
Please stop by and visit me at my Website, on Facebook, or Twitter
I like to tell people I am a writer now. If I’m really counting, I’m on my third maybe fourth) career. But I’m here to stay. I am a native Californian who loves reading, writing, movies, and anything else related to the arts. I hold a B.A. degree in Journalism and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. My most enjoyable moments are spent with my family, traveling, spending time outdoors, or simply laughing and being together. In my home, I am the quiet one. So I guess writing lets me get my voice out.
I am pretty open when it comes to reading books, but I do tend to stay in the genres of drama, thriller, romance, chick lit, mystery. For some reason I never got into the paranormal genre, guess I missed the boat on that one. Until I started writing my own novel, I didn’t pay much attention to who the writer was. I just went by recommendation or by the back of the book. Now I notice it more and I really enjoy reading books from fellow authors and learning from them. Right now I’m just finishing up Burn Out by Traci Hohenstein.
Besides reading, I love movies. At one point I wanted to be involved in the movie industry somehow. I was very interested in the movie-making process as well. Creativity is what motivates me and the art of creation is something I’ve always been drawn to. Before In Search of Lucy I actually started writing a screenplay. To me it was a lot harder than writing the book. I shelved that project when I saw my exact movie idea up on the big screen in a preview.
I don’t think I have a choice when it comes to ideas. All my life ideas have come into my head. Whatever I’m doing whether it be reading, watching something, traveling or just talking with someone, my mind is coming up with different things I could do, or how to make something work better. Stories, especially, are always coming to me. If I had the stamina and the time I could be turning out different stories one after the other.
The story of In Search of Lucy just came to me one day and it stood out among all of my other ideas and I just really felt the need to write it. I thought a lot of people could relate to a story where the main character felt lost and alone and was struggling to find her identity. I pretty much had the whole story mapped out in my mind before I started writing. I didn’t do an outline, and I don’t like to sit down at the computer until I’ve really thought it through.
Usually I like to go for a walk with my dog and think through a scene. We have a nice quiet walking trail and I can just play through a scene in my head. I literally watch it like I’m watching a movie and hear each person saying their dialogue. Once I have it down, I head to the computer, as long as the house is quiet, that is. I really need to have quiet, uninterrupted time to write so I don’t lose my flow.
Although the story is one many can relate to, it doesn’t draw on any real-life experience. Many of my friends and family have asked why I chose such a dramatic story. I felt that it may help people look at their own relationships and appreciate what they have, but I think it also inspires and brings hope to the reader.
Lucy, the main character, really seems to make a transformation in the story, but the real change is that she uncovers what was already there. Life experiences can affect who we are but that doesn’t mean we have to remain that way forever. We can find our way back to our better, happier selves. There is so much emotion and thought-provoking feelings in this story that it had to be written in third person. Lucy was not the only one who needed to reveal herself. Being able to see inside each character really lets the reader better connect with each person’s story.
The best advice I could give a new self-published author is to do your homework before your novel is complete. When I finished my book I was so excited to get it out there and I had no idea the education I needed to do. It was very frustrating because I just wanted everything done quickly, and I wanted all my hard work to be read by others. You really need to educate yourself about marketing, social media, book formatting, selling venues, etc. And most importantly you need to build relationships with folks already doing these things so they can help you along, and they will most likely do that. Indie authors are very supportive!
I am already working on my next book. This time I’m going in the complete opposite direction as this will be a romantic comedy; emphasis on the comedy. I love to laugh and make people laugh. One of my all-time favorite actors is Lucille Ball. Our family watches “I Love Lucy” on a regular basis, and the kids just love it. I was born into a somewhat sarcastic family so I’m really excited to see how that comedy gene translates to others in my next book. In the next few weeks you can look for book updates on my website, or follow me on Twitter Below you can watch the video trailer I created for In Search of Lucy. Also, here's a book review by Avid Reader Book Reviews
If you'd like to buy my book, here are the links you'll need: Amazon UK, Amazon US, B&N, and Smashwords