Sunday, December 21, 2014

New Guest Post!

Honored to be published once more by KM Weiland, whose talent might only be eclipsed by her kindness and authenticity. My YA/Fantasy novel will be published by Booktrope in 2015 and this post is about the sometimes elusive balance in conjuring that just-right-voice that entrances YA and adult readers alike.

I hope you enjoy the post and as always feel free to comment--I'd love your thoughts!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How Novel: On Short Stories...

Much of my literary focus has been around my novel(s) but I've always loved short stories--reading and writing them--and got some nice news today from Glimmer Train, an esteemed publication I've tendered a handful of submissions to in the last year. My short story "Devil and the Blue Ghosts" won Honorable Mention in their Short Story for New Writers contest. Didn't quite make it through to publication but made top 5% out of over 1,000 submissions, so , that's cool. :)

Will decide what to do with the story now--shop elsewhere, self-pub, what not--and much as I wish I'd won, that's still encouraging. And congrats to my fellow honorables on this list. :)

Bit of a lesson in perseverance: no action with my first several submissions to them, but I've wanted to break through with them, and with this news, I'm at least getting closer. Whatever your goals, stay the course and keep fighting. 

So, fellow scribes and readers--what's your take on short story as a form? Enjoy it? More or less than novels? Some of your favorite short stories?

Anyway, thanks, and here's the Glimmer Train posting where I'm listed:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Why I Write: Blog Hop Post

I don’t know that there’s a day I am not grateful for Jessica West. Great writer, better person. Her friendship is sacred to me. As if I were not already possessing of ample reasons for this gratitude, add to that my heartfelt appreciation to Jess for nominating me for the Why I Write Blog Hop. That someone I think so much of thinks enough of me and my work to have nominated me is very humbling. I hope I may do justice to the question at hand. For it is in many ways akin to inquiring of me, Why Do I Breathe? Ya know: I write, therefore I am.  Alas, let’s see if we can unearth a tad bit more than that.

To do so, we must do a little time travel. 35 years back, give or take. My nascent penchant for the written word had in fact burgeoned even earlier—I recall as a six-year-old scrawling 3-sentence long “stories” on any surface I could find, even if said tales more often than not were comprised chiefly of baseball stats. But it was at around 10 or so that something began to percolate inside me. Began to spark. We all need to belong in this world, to be wanted, needed, cherished, valued, appreciated, loved. “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”  We all want to be good at something, to contribute. To find our calling, to find ourselves. From my earliest memories I understood there were many things I was not adept it, but perhaps a few things I was. Even as a young kid, I could hit a baseball a damn sight far; and, I could write.

I could write. How well, is for others to decide but all I know  is from those earliest days, when I found myself writing, I had found myself, and to this day there is no other occupation in which I feel more me. I was a painfully shy kid and we often presume those kids have nothing to say but I bet most do. I bet most have plenty to say because they’ve held so much in but they’re watching and learning and soaking it all in. They’re burning with thoughts and feelings and life and voice. I had plenty to say.  I have had the good fortune of hitting a few balls over the fence in baseball games, and crafting a good sentence—I mean a really good sentence—is that same kind of magic. Every writer reading this knows what I mean. A great sentence is your home-run, so circle the bases, or smoke a cigarette, pick your poison, but relish it. Then keep writing.

It’s funny because the real question for me might in fact be not why I wrote but rather why, for so many years, I didn’t? Excuses walk, but I reckon on one level, life happened—school, work, marriage, family—and these are all great things and take time but deep inside I knew—I’ve always known—I wanted to embed my literary dreams fully into my life. And so the real reason for the delay (a decades-long delay, mind you), was fear. Maybe a little laziness but mainly fear. When you understand you may be good at only a few things, it is a daunting notion to potentially discover you may not even be good at those. To try to realize your dream, and fail. To be judged, rejected. It is a real and understandable fear. But I’m a dad, and as a parent you know your kids are watching you. Less important than whether you succeeded, is whether you tried. Seven or eight years ago I got a great idea for a Young Adult Fantasy, inspired by the protective relationship between my eldest son and his little sister. I’d dabble, penning a page or two but then my energy and focus would wane, life would happen, and I’d drift away from it. For years. Around four years ago my young daughter—whose own literary embers were already beginning to glow—inquired of me why, in essence, I had given up on my dream. A year and a half later I’d finally finished a draft—an unceremoniously rough, crappy draft, as any first draft of literary mortals like me invariably is—but a completed draft nonetheless. In the last two years I’ve revised it several times, completed a draft of a literary novel, penned a dozen short stories, had the privilege of publishing some articles and short fiction, and will have my YA Fantasy book(and hopefully the sequels) published by Booktrope. I am grateful for the opportunity. I am grateful to Jessica West for being my friend and asking why I write, and to my brilliant and beautiful daughter for asking why I didn’t. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished in a few years’ time but also suffused with the urgency of a middle-aged scribe (being perhaps polite to myself there) who realizes he has lost so much precious time and must now make the most of every second. I should be so much farther along in my journey but instead I am like a 45-year-old rookie, and maybe that’s okay too. For that passion still burns, and makes me believe it is not when you start but that you start and then, that you finish. That you write that story—that crappy first draft or if you’re one of those elite talents, maybe a great first draft. Whatever the case, do it. My daughter is anything but the painfully shy kid I was, but still, I want to be careful in how I support her dreams. I do not want to live vicariously through her or push her but rather, just cheer her on and help her enjoy the journey and stand by her through all the twists and turns. Cherish each moment as she shares her own unique voice.

So I write, I reckon, because writing is what I do. It’s me. And I hope to do as much of it as I can for the rest of my life. When all’s said and done, the totality of what I’ve written in some ways may compromise the fullest answer to why I write. Here, this, this is me. I guess that’s true for each of us, whether speaking literally of writing or of the pages we pen in the hearts and minds and lives of others, on the canvass of this thing called life. We all make our mark, contribute our verse. May we all find the freedom and opportunity to pursue our dreams, and find our voice.

Another dear friend—and absolute mega-writing-prodigy --who helped me find mine, is the amazing Amira K Makansi, who—like Jessica, is a rare and beautiful soul whose talent may be eclipsed only by her character. I know Amira is in the midst of an extremely hectic time in her life presently, so she should feel free to take her time with this, but I could not in good conscience fail to nominate her.

Thank you Jessica, thank you Amira, and thanks to all of you who comprise the myriad stars of the literary universe—writers, readers and dreamers alike. We need every one of you. You shine.

The Adventure Continues: David Rose and the Forbidden Tournament

 The wrought-iron, steeple fencing surrounding the cemetery rose coldly above them, tall and coal-back, but David no longer placed much faith in the barrier between the two worlds.
So begins Book II in the David Rose series: David Rose and the Forbidden Tournament. 

The adventure continues not only for David, Rachel and the rest of the gang, but for me too. An author lives the adventures of his characters--and vice-versa, I reckon--or else the damn thing won't have a pulse.

Thrilled and grateful that Booktrope will be publishing the incipient tale in the series, my YA/Fantasy Novel, The Awakening of David Rose. I'm excited to have just commenced the first sequel(there will be four books in all). Excited and a bit daunted. Sequels present a unique amalgam of opportunity and challenge, I think. On the one hand, you've  introduced your main characters and primary or at least original conflict, and have much on which to build. On the other hand, you want to build effectively, offer a fresh take, keep the reader entranced. In the first book I introduce magic and mystery, but have constructed the foundation upon  developing the main characters and their conflicts. All along I've intended the sequels to dive right into the action, hit a fever pitch, up the fantastical ante...but all along I've suspected I shall need to remain vigilant against over-reliance upon  bells, whistles and rollicking action devoid of depthful characterization and story-telling. The JK Rowlings of the literary world have captured this elusive balance, but I know for me it will take yeoman effort. At the end of the day, I want each book to remain anchored in those things which matter most to the main characters. I look forward  to giving it my all.

Have you written sequels? You've surely read some. I'd welcome your thoughts on your favorites, and what traits in your opinion set apart the really great ones.

Thanks for your support, keep doing what you do, and stay tuned for updates on a publication/launch date for the first book! Thank you!

PS The image here is just a stock one and hints at a key element of the story as Book II opens--the notion of a magic mirror which portends a crucial but dangerous portals between worlds and lives. I look forward to working with my team(and I always welcome suggestions) on building the actual cover design when the time comes.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Author Interview: D. Emery Bunn

50 years ago, the dawn did not come. Again. Everyone in Telthan knew it would happen. Monsters roamed the land, killing virtually everyone in their path, laying waste to anything in their way. Only a precious few survived to rebuild the wreckage of civilization, just like last time. No one questions the Darkening. Not even the children.

That is, until four strangers set off in search of answers, braving a forbidden city, a forgotten library, and foreboding mountains for the truth that has to exist. But the past does not give up its secrets easily, and the truth is far darker than the blackest night.

The teaser from my friend, the talented D. Emery Bunn, whose debut novel Darkness Concealed launches in a few short days. He was kind enough to stop by my blog for a visit. Enjoy!

Welcome to my blog. Thrilled to have you. Before we introduce your book, let’s introduce you—who is D. Emery Bunn?

I could steal my official bio, but that's boring. My day job is engineering, ironically civil despite my degree being in electrical. I love it anyway. In my free time I play video games, read, play tabletop, and of course, write. I also do editing for folks on occasion. My current domicile is Clovis, New Mexico.

Writing a book is a monumental undertaking—congrats on completing yours. Why did you write it?

Thank you! Originally, I wrote it because I had come up with a cool setting for D&D...that ended up not being very well-suited for actually playing through. There was an awesome story, a very long arc, but I was too specific about what I wanted to happen with the overall plot. For those who don't play D&D or similar, that's very bad, because it means the players have no agency for deciding the movement of the plot.

Thus was the first draft. But with the second draft, I realized that a lot of things about my base assumptions on the world were wrong; they didn't jibe with the overall arc. So I threw them out and went with a more philosophical angle instead of a "let me tell you the horror." For sake of spoilers, I won't say what they are, but suffice to say that it's all across the trilogy and not just this first book.

Why about dark fantasy grips you? 

Classic epic fantasy is somewhat boring to me. It's good, sure, but the guarantee that the characters will go through hell but still end up triumphant just by genre association is a turn-off. Dark fantasy throws that presumption out the door, and layers on extra amounts of hell as well. On top of that, epic fantasy is almost always black vs. white morality. Dark fantasy has more play for gray morality to come into the picture.

What is going to keep folks turning the pages of Darkness Concealed?

Several things:

- Each of the characters has their own motivation for being in the group, and very often those motivations clash. There will be fights, both amongst each other and within themselves. This becomes clearer as what they find out starts making them question everything they ever believed.
- The mystery of the Darkening and Telthan gets deeper as the story unfolds. Every answer will raise more questions, making the truth seem further and further away. Everything they discover fits into the bigger picture, and it is possible (though very difficult) to deduce the truth ahead of time.
 Darkness Concealed is more properly a dark epic fantasy. I twist a gargantuan pile of stock fantasy tropes, or call them out for laughs. Where before the guy from a small town just knows he's meant to be a hero, my story has him unable to wield a weapon (or magic) and so socially awkward he stutters constantly. Oh, and he has zero self-confidence.

I think the Quotables Campaign is pretty damn cool—tell us about that.

I love writing dialogue, and my characters all have very clear voices. As a result, Darkness Concealed is positively overflowing with quotables. Either cases where the characters are arguing with each other (which happens often), or bold declarations of character, or witty observations about the absurdity of what they're encountering.

“Which is to say, no one ever named it. Dibs! It’s called Tealbride.”


“It sounds cool.”


Knowing all of that, I found it a no-brainer to dig through my text and pull out several quotes that grab the reader and make them ask questions. I ended up with a set of 8 that don't spoil anything and yet give a good picture of every major character and some of the things they do.

Creeps know no mercy. I won’t show any in return.”


What aspects of your story were smoothest for you to write, and what were most challenging? For example, I usually get on a pretty good roll with dialogue, but can stumble with description a bit.

My smoothest was dialogue. If I had the characters going at it, or working through the explanation of what they're seeing, the word count flew. Even in the second draft, where I didn't have a full grasp on their character, they still made it easy to know what to say.

I dodge the description difficulty by deliberately being description-light. I give enough to have a sense of the scene or appearance, and leave it at that. I let the reader fill it in as much as they desire to.

My roughest was internal dialogue. A large amount of the impact of the story is measured by what the characters think to themselves, and I made a style choice to show that dialogue directly in
 italics instead of nestled within description. Since I have dialogue, internal dialogue, and description interleaving through the vast majority of the book, I needed to keep them all clear. It takes some adjusting on the reader's part, but it makes perfect sense after a chapter or two.

I admire dark fantasy scribes; one thing I’ve often wondered is whether I could find that elusive balance of penning those great fantastical and dark elements, but still building the tale on the strength of story and character. How do you navigate that balance, or perhaps you view the whole premise a bit differently?

I avoid that balance problem with Darkness Concealed. Essentially, the dark is so obvious, so ever-present, that if the characters do anything at all it's an act of heroism. Add in that the dark seems to get deeper the more they shine a light on it, and their willingness to keep going anyway speaks volumes.

But in the sequel, I'll have my work cut out for me. I'm not calling it
 Darkness Revealed for nothing. I'll have to strike several different balances to have the characters' arcs believable, the philosophy impactful without browbeating, and to pull off the absolute horror at the center of all the secrets.

OK, although you are welcome to share what authors have inspired you, I fear the entire readerly universe may have tired of that maudlin inquiry; instead, what do you hope for most as a reader? What do you feel is your most compelling offering as a writer?

What I hope for, and what I hope to offer are one and the same. I love defying the existing convention, taking stories in directions previously unexpected. A great example for me is The Hunger Games. Whether or not one likes the end of the series, she knew what the expected end was, and didn't do that.

And that's what I've aimed for with
 Darkness Concealed. I know the expected ends, the stock successes and failures. I avoid those, and in some cases point out specifically that I'm avoiding them. I want things to be fresh and unexpected, not just in the plotline, but in what is being told.

What’s next for you? Is there a sequel in the offing? Other projects?

Immediately next up is the second draft of a novella entitled Nikolay I penned at the start of the year, set in a cyberpunk dystopia/utopia where everyone is mandated to be "normal" according to a computer algorithm and deliberate deviations are punished. Nikolay is a teenager who decides that being normal, even with all the supposed advantages (do whatever you want not against the law, and have all your needs provided for), is not for him. He starts seeking for a way to break out of the norm before his negative self-esteem destroys him.

Darkness Concealed launches September 23. Very exciting: tell us how to get the book, whether you are looking for reviewers, how they may learn more and connect with you, and anything else you’d like folks to know.

I'm releasing the book on Amazon [], Google Books [], and Kobo []. I will also be releasing a PDF of the text on my site, for free, on release day. I believe in free culture, and want to make it an option to people whether they pay me for the story or not.

As for reviewers, I'm more than happy to keep on sending out ARCs (or as of
 tomorrow review copies), though I ask that when you do review that you tell me where it is so I can link to it in some way or another. I also ask that if you can put the review on one of the retailers I'm using that you please do so.

I'm available most directly at, where I blog about writing, editing, and whatever else comes to mind. I also maintain an active Twitter presence as @DEmeryBunn.

Thanks for having me on your blog!

Monday, September 8, 2014

To Build or Not to Build--Guest-Post for Rachel Thompson/Badredhead Media

Grateful to have the chance to guest-post for my amazing, talented friend Rachel Thompson, and her discerning audience.

Important topic(of which Rachel herself is considerably expert)--author platform-building and the related social media and technological aspects. 

As always, your feedback is welcomed and appreciated!

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Perhaps a few decades later than originally intended, I aim to do just that. Don’t get me wrong: the most important and heartfelt dream of my life has been realized—to be a father—and for that I am beyond blessed. But another dream long-harbored—of being a writer and published author—has achieved a hard-fought crucial step—I have found a publisher for my nearly decade-long labor of love, THE AWAKENING OF DAVID ROSE, a YA/Fantasy which is first in a series of four.

A good publisher at that. An innovative, exciting, hybrid publisher run by great folks who genuinely support their authors.

 Booktrope was founded in 2011 in Seattle, WA. Booktrope has pioneered a new type of book development process called Team Publishing which leverages their proprietary technology platform Teamtrope. Booktrope is committed to the creation of quality books via a low-overhead collaborative approach resulting in affordable prices for today’s reader. A quick online perusal reveals a number of articles delving into the emerging world of such hybrids, highlighting leading examples like Booktrope; here is a good piece from Forbes.

The same day Booktrope offered publication, my friend and fellow Booktrope author Rachel Thompson broke some pretty big news.

I am excited to partner with Booktrope to carry my book—my dream—to publication. All writers must stand humbly before the judgment of readers—I am grateful I am going to get that chance.  We are just getting started—and there is much work to be done—so more details shall be forthcoming. But thank you all for your support—and keep doing what you do and believing in your dream.

It’s never too late.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bane of 5-Star Reviews, Redux

A few months ago the uber- wonderful KM Weiland published my piece on 5-Star Reviews. Humbled today that top journalist and Fellow at the National Critics Institute, Porter Anderson, included prominent references to that piece in a terrific article he penned. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Write Around the Corner: Literary Agents

As always some great stuff percolating in the Blogosphere. The Great Debate rages on regarding Traditional v Self-Pub/Indie etc., but for all those like me who haven’t decided for sure and at any rate are querying agents, this installment focuses on that process. I found these pieces to be very insightful, and hope you do too!

*How I Got My Literary Agent by guest author Jessica Arnold, author of The Looking Glass. Part of the terrific “how I got my literary agent” series, this piece really provides a sense of the process in a very relatable way with good detail and insight. Jessica relays her story in a raw and honest way, including challenges she faced and dealing with the unexpected. A very interesting article.

*Have you checked out the Literary Ramble site? You should, really good stuff, including great agent spotlight features, and myriad tips and tidbits on all things literary, with a particular focus on children’s books.

*Gotta love Miss Snark. Here is an assortment of posts about agent protocol and they grabbed my attention with their candor and insights.

*I’m a big Rachelle Gardner fan. Here is a simple, user-friendly but very instructive piece on finding a literary agent.












Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Hardest Loss (indeterminate genre)

The hardest loss is not that precious thing you lose today, or that cherished thing you lose tomorrow as a result. It is that once sacred thing called yesterday which, now false, had led you to believe in both. 

(Flash fiction? microfiction? Poem? Not sure this constitutes any of those. Just call it musings on a melancholy evening.)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Author Interview: Rachel Thompson, The Bad Redhead~

Oh goodness I'm beyond thrilled to have gotten the chance to connect with and interview the Bad Redhead herself, the inimitable Rachel Thompson. As you'll see, Rachel does not consider herself a celeb , but she has garnered a well-earned healthy following. Folks--if you didn't yet know her, you'll be glad you do now...

*Rachel thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, I am humbled to get the chance to connect with you. In fact, let me start there. You have a considerable following—around 175,000 on Twitter alone—are busy as can be (we’ll get into that)—but you have taken the time (here and behind the scenes) to engage with someone hardly as well-known as you, and you have been kind and supportive throughout. This may seem a simple matter of courtesy to you, but as someone who has connected with many great authors, I have to be honest and say that not everyone conducts themselves in this manner. As your success and celebrity have grown, how important has it been to you to stay grounded, as it were, to stay you, and have there been challenges to this along the way?


Wow, too kind Daryl! I suppose it’s my introverted nature, but I don’t look at myself as a celeb at ALL. I’m not a household name, most people have never heard of me – frankly, I’m still shocked when someone tells me they’ve read my work or blog posts, I look around and make sure they’re talking about me…really?


It’s not false modesty. A friend of mine gets upset with me because I just can’t get my mind around that some people know me or my book. I suppose it comes down to this: everyone has to make their own path, and if I can help share ways I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, I’ve done my job. Anything else is just gravy.


As for challenges, every day is a challenge! Like anyone, it’s difficult to find and dedicate writing time, mostly because of owning my own business and being a mother. It’s all about balance. Okay, and late nights and lots of coffee.


*It seems you dived into the writing and blogging in 2008, after 15 years in pharma sales (I love how you say you’re ‘recovered now). You say you took to it like a “dog to a bone.”  This really interests me—and I hear from folks in similar situations—because I am someone who after many years in another career, am finally diving into my writing and blogging too. In my case, I’ve known all along, deep down, that writing is what I am meant to do. Did you harbor a similar passion throughout your life, or did it indeed more so crystallize back in ’08?


I’ve been a writer since I was 10 years old, actually. My dream of being a grown up was sitting at a desk and writing (remember back before computers? LOL). That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Being in pharma sales gave me a wonderful background in marketing, so I’m thankful for that, but I hated it. Hard to be creative with the prime directive – resistance is futile.


I quit in 2004, had my second child, and discovered blogging as an outlet, a release, really. It really just steamrolled from there and I embraced tech and social and more writing and blogging.


*I want people to visit your sites—Rachel in the OC and Badredheadmedia  --they are both terrific.  If they visit they can distinguish for themselves but can you take a moment here and describe the primary distinction and what compelled you to create two sites?

Sure! My author site is and the focus, or branding if you will, is in line with my own books: real-life experiences and how they have changed a person. My guests typically handle heavy topics like depression, rape, sexual abuse, divorce, miscarriage, and more. If you’re looking for a ‘light’ read, do not go to that blog!


As for, the focus is what I do in my business: social media, marketing, and branding for authors. I love it because I can help others who can’t afford my services, and still provide real life advice via the blog and various tips around the site.


*Let’s talk about your writing: three bestsellers—Broken Pieces, The Mancode Exposed and A Walk in the Snark (very jealous I didn’t think of that title). The latter two are humorous but the first is a collection of very personal, life-inspired essays. Again, folks can read about the books on your site(or better yet, read the books), but it is clear you draw upon some powerful life experiences in all you do and all you write. Broken Pieces obviously reflects this but have you found that even the most traumatic or difficult of life experiences has inspired and found expression through your humor as well, and if so, what can you share about this process?


I definitely feel strongly that we all have a right to tell our own stories, regardless of the topic or tone. Here’s what I tell folks: nobody is standing over our shoulder saying, ‘You can’t write that!’ and if they are, tell them to go write their own damn book.


Ultimately, a writer has to sit down, butt in chair, and write. Every day. Not all of it will be amazing, but somewhere in each sentence is a jewel. That jewel is what you keep.


*You really focus and have great expertise on social media and author marketing/branding. As you allude to, perhaps your sales background influenced that, but what else has stirred those embers? And what would you say to the plethora of authors (I was and occasionally still am among them) who harbor various degrees of trepidation about social media, building their author platform, and sometimes technology itself?


I’m not really sure why I love social media, to be honest. It’s something that comes very easily to me – maybe it’s the writer in me combined with the former sales/marketing person. I embrace it and enjoy it – most of the time. When I don’t, I walk away for a bit.


As for authors, it’s important to realize that social media is fabulous for making connections, interactions, and building relationships. It’s questionable if you will SELL using it, which is why I recommend people don’t spam links (which is against the various social media guidelines anyway), or do the hard sell….and just TALK with people. Remember, even though the communication is virtual, the person behind the keyboard is not.


*I actually first learned of you when someone introduced me to Monday Blogs, the amazing meme you created in 2012which enables bloggers to easily share their posts and connect with other bloggers. I can tell you that it has been wonderful to participate in, and that countless other writers agree—easy and fantastic way to get your name and your work out there and also to support other writers by sharing and retweeting their work too. It has really caught fire and I am convinced one of the main reasons in fact is that whole spirit of giving back, mutual support, literary community, which fuels it. Would you agree? What inspired you to start Monday Blogs?


Awesome, I’m so glad! Thousands participate every Monday and I couldn’t be happier.


Really, I simply built on an idea that kinda sorta already existed. Memes (rhymes with themes) have been around on the Internet forever, including on Twitter. I found that other memes that already existed for bloggers didn’t really make it obvious what people should do, so I extrapolated the call to action (blog) and made it one particular day (Monday),right in the meme itself.


It’s pretty simple: share blog posts on Mondays. Retweet others. That’s basically it. Many people will share on other days using that hashtag, but because it’s got Monday right in the title, I kindly remind them that WE only share on Mondays. Share your posts any day you want, just reserve the hashtag only for Mondays!



 *You have an advocacy page, where people can find help and support and even a HopeLine if they are survivors of sexual or domestic violence. And you clearly have a place in in your heart and are very supportive of our troops. Again, folks can learn more on your sites but is there anything you’d like to share about these causes here?


I think it’s important that people find resources so they don’t feel alone, especially women in sexual assault or domestic violence situations, where they feel dependent on the abuser for survival. I’ve always been an advocate for women and children, but I decided to use my social media platform to help as much as I can, so people will know where to find help and resources.


*I know you are a mom. I have 3 kids--my only daughter is named Rachel—she is 9, and a passionate reader and writer (she’ll be debuting her corner on my site soon). As someone who has known since about her age that I’ve wanted to write, yet for any number of life reasons only got serious about in these last few years, I am endeavoring to walk a fine line between supporting/pushing her. I don’t want her dream to languish long as mine did, yet I am try to remember it is her dream, and she is a kid, and I want to support her and I don’t want to push, I just want to support her in her journey, however it shall play out. What advice would you have for parents of those young, literary souls, and what one thing would you tell the young Rachels of the world, as their fledgling literary embers are just beginning to simmer?


I am a mom – two children, a girl (15) and a boy (8). It’s important to encourage our children in whatever endeavor they gravitate toward, whether that’s art, sports, or a subject like math or science. My teenaged daughter is a talented artist and is looking at art schools for college – that’s all her. My son puts together Legos for big kids and adults – he has the mind of an engineer.


I think there’s a fine line between encouraging and supporting, and pushing. I’m not that kind of mom who pushes, because I’ve seen to many kids become resentful and bitter. However, it certainly is on us, as parents, to help our kids seek opportunities and help them learn how best to mine those.


*You offer an impressive and eclectic range of services—blogging, consulting, Twitter management, branding, marketing and much more. Folks can check it all out on your services page of Bad Redhead Media. Is there anything in particular about what you offer that you’d like to mention here?


Thank you! I do offer many tips and tricks to manage marketing with writing time. That’s the ultimate struggle for any writer.


Also, I’m a strong believer, as I mentioned earlier, in writing what scares us. Too many writers don’t dig deep because they’re terrified of what their parents, kids, spouse, friends, etc., will say. And believe me, I understand that fear! It took me many years to allow myself to write about my own experiences, particularly the childhood sexual abuse.


So, I’m developing a new course for writers: Writing What Scares You. Four sessions (once weekly) with me, covering how to go about uncovering and putting to paper what holds us up. I’m not a teacher of ‘craft,’ because I feel that writers have to find their own way of writing. I’d never tell someone how to write because it’s so personal.


However, giving people practical tips and exercises to find that inner scary – that’s what I’m all about. I give writersthe permission they seek – which seems funny, since thatpermission, that choice, is already in them on what to write anyway! But I can so relate, having been (and still going) through it all as I write my next ‘Broken’ book, Broken Places (due Fall, 2014 from Booktrope).



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Author Interview: Holly Hinton

I had the pleasure of connecting with author and actor Holly Hinton a few months back, and the pleasure of reading her book The Summer Sacrifice, discussed in this interview Holly was gracious enough to grant. It's a great read, and I hope you'll check it out and that you enjoy getting to know Holly as much as I have.

*Holly it has been a joy getting to know you a bit—thanks for taking the time to be interviewed, so that even more folks can get to know you too. Your book The Summer Sacrifice just launched on June 21, the Summer Solstice. Congratulations! Why did you pick that date?

I am delighted that my first author interview is with you, Daryl. Thank you for hosting this interview and for introducing me to your readers!

The Summer Sacrifice did indeed have its official launch on June the 21st. From the moment I completed the first draft of the book, I had that date in mind for the release. The day of the Summer Solstice has a particular significance for the Islanders in my world. And there is something inherently magical about a midsummer night.

*Your website tells a bit of the story about Dancing Ledge, but what was the most compelling thing about that vacation five years ago which inspired your story idea? What are some of the most compelling aspects of this book’s journey these last five years, from those incipient moments of inspiration, to the exciting and aforementioned launch a few days ago?

That family holiday in Swanage wasn't any different from all the other times we'd holidayed there. And the trip to Dancing Ledge was in no way unusual: it involved my mother boldly dragging her children across beautiful terrain with little regard for the close proximity of bulls! I would like to say that the image that started this whole journey fell into my head while I was at Dancing Ledge—that would be rather poetic—but it actually happened a few hours later. I wasn't thinking about anything at the time, I'm pretty sure my head was just filled with white noise, when a hundred or so dancing teenagers sprang into my head. They were on Dancing Ledge and having the most incredible time, only in their midst some of their friends (who looked very much like zombies) were throwing themselves into the sea and drowning. That's how it all began.
After the initial idea, I actually had a couple of years where I was out of the country, at first touring a staged show of Gulliver’s Travels which involved a lot of knee pads and stilts, and then playing Desdemona in Othello. The Summer Sacrifice story was still whirring in my mind though, and it wouldn't let go. So I would write notes here and there, make doodles on paper, and write down conversations. The scene in Blue Wood, which is now part of Chapter Four—Stormy Weather, was actually the first scene I wrote. There is something fitting about Jamie, Seveny, George, Max and Ella, who I first met in Blue Wood, being together on the cover—which was designed with meticulous care by the excellent artist David Revoy.
I would say that one of the most compelling—and at the time awfully disturbing—aspects of the book’s journey was my repeated compulsion to throw my computer out the window just before I had a breakthrough. I didn't know I was about to have a breakthrough during the “I want to throw my computer out of the window” phases, which made those times rather difficult. On many occasions my partner had to peel me off the ceiling or mop me off the floor! Another momentous moment was completing my first draft—which in hindsight was not much more than a passing nod to the book it would eventually become. But when I finished that first draft, it felt like the last five years had culminated in something tangible and solid. It was a real high for me, which put me in a great place to start the copious revisions!

*The Summer Sacrifice is the inaugural tale in The Master Game series. Did you know right away that this would be a series? What can fans expect in future books—and when?

I knew straight away that the book would be the first of a series, and I knew this from the very moment that the first image popped into my head. I know it sounds weird that, on the strength of something as miniature as a moving mental GIF, I felt like I had a big story to tell! But that's what happened, and I chose to listen to that feeling.
In terms of future books, readers can expect a similar level of adventure and discovery, less dystopia, and more magic. As the friendship group grow up they'll battle more outer and inner demons, and there will be some emotional fallout from decisions they make—and decisions others have made that involve them. Their world, which grew considerably broader over the course of the first book’s events, will continue to be explored. The series will continue to be dark, yet laced with humour.

In terms of the timing of the books, there should be around a year and a quarter between each book release. Don't hold me to that. As my mum said recently to me, “life is what happens when you're busy making plans.” But I really would like the next few books to come out without too much space between them.
*I love your protagonist, Jamie Tuff. I know our protagonists are sometimes based on a specific individual, often a bit of an amalgam of several people, and sometimes just a creation all our own. What and/or whom inspired Jamie?

The way Jamie looks is very similar to a girl who lived across the road from me when I was a child. The way Jamie acts wasn't based on anyone in particular. She has a quiet strength, and she is sensitive. I am not afraid to say that Jamie and I have similarities. When I have nightmares, I often experience the nightmare as Jamie: I'm at school, I'm in her clothes, and I'm being abandoned. As an actor, you must get close to the characters whom you inhabit. As a writer, it appears that I have got close to a character of my own imagination.

*I have also heard you reference how, at times, Jamie guided you. I have a sense of what this might mean and what it means to me when I write, but can you share what you meant?

Jamie was the first character who found life in my imagination, though when she first appeared she was not fully formed. As the story grew, so did Jamie's personality. And Jamie's actions in turn often moved the story forward.  For example, I would hear a conversation from her point of view and then write down the dialogue. Or I would see something from out of her eyes and what I saw would then become a written scene. Jamie is affected by events in a profound way, but she is also effective because she has the ability to bring about great change. Those personal qualities helped me to write the book. Jamie really was there from the beginning.

*I enjoyed this book immensely. Your writing is really tight, and you’ve pulled off something I’m working on in my own WIP, and of which I’m a touch envious—that elusive YA voice which—like Rowling—simultaneously resonates with YA but also with adults. It is all at once smart and will challenge young readers, but won’t bedraggle them into running for the dictionary every second. At the same time it is elevated and biting enough for adults, not dumbed-down, so to speak, plus it has wonderfully dark elements and is just plain fun. Do you find this a difficult voice/balance to achieve, and what are some of your secrets?

Oh my goodness, thank you for those compliments! I didn't write with a particular voice in mind. I knew the age-range of the readers I was aiming the book at, but I don't remember being too conscious about what vocabulary I was using. I did make a couple of revisions to the final draft, as I'd used a couple of words that were unnecessarily overcomplicated. I remember being a child reading The Hobbit and not understanding everything, but enjoying it as a whole. The Summer Sacrifice is possibly a book that children could revisit as adults, glean more things from it, and enjoy it in a different way. 
The balance of light and dark in the story came quite naturally, though I worried about the light parts diluting the dark. There are some chapters and characters to which I gave free reign, and I like that the book can breathe in this way. I figured that if those bits were a release for me and made me smile, they might have the same effect on the reader, giving them some respite before the down-slide of the roller-coaster! 
A bit of advice I found useful was to choose a paragraph that encapsulates your style, and keep that in mind while writing the book so that you don't veer too far off course.
I'm sure that my love of the dark, funny and surreal grew from my reading writers such as Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Mervyn Peake and Roald Dahl, and that in turn would have influenced my writing. 
*You are also an actor—I’ve seen some clips—you are terrific. Anything in the pipeline on the acting front, and what is the best way for fans to keep up with you there?

I am pleased to say that I have an international tour coming up which will take up the majority of next year. I will be playing Jessica in a TNT production of The Merchant of Venice. Can't wait to get stuck into some more Shakespeare! An indie “romantic dramedy” called Occupying Ed, in which I play one half of the romantic pairing, will be doing the film festival circuit shortly. To keep up with my film work please visit: To keep up with next year's Shakespeare tour, Twitter is your best bet: @HollyHinton1

*Now that the book is launched I know the strength of the story and the writing will carry it, but every writer today needs to be their own best advocate and marketer. What are some of the marketing and social media strategies you are engaging, and recommend for others?

You've hit the nail on the head when you talk about today's writer needing to be their own best advocate. Early on in my acting career I realised that the person who cared most about my career was me. I am not one of life's natural schmoozers, and I really have to psych myself up to push myself forward. But expressing confidence in your own abilities is a really necessary part of representing yourself well, and that relates to the writing world, too. In order to create a ripple in the broad book market, I must start splashing!
On the lead up to the launch, I made sure that I had a website for people to look at, and I started writing a blog. I threw myself into making connections on Twitter, and I looked out for articles that would help me on this journey (such as your own post Building a Literary Community: Why And How which I found on The Creative Penn).
In terms of recommending strategies, I still consider myself a baby in the realms of social media. I've made great strides, but I'm continuously learning. Now, marketing and publicising my book is not something I'm afraid of, whereas just a few months ago that idea filled me with dread. The key thing for me was throwing off the shackles of my own fear. If you write a boring tweet, the world is not going to implode. If you don't get a thousand followers overnight, this does not make you a failure. People hold great stock in the numbers, but what you really need to appreciate is people genuinely engaging with you and your product. I focus my social media efforts on bringing the book to the attention of people who might love it, and making lasting connections. The potentials of social media far outweigh the negatives, and I am excited about sharing The Summer Sacrifice with others. I wrote it to be read!

Ways to connect with Holly: