Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blooming Author Thomas Drinkard!

Piety and MurderWelcome to the latest edition of Blooming Authors. We are delighted to share with you the voice of Thomas Drinkard!

What is your ultimate writing goal?
To tell stories so fascinating that many readers will be anxious for sequels.  If I achieve that goal, all else will follow.

Why do you write?
Because I have always loved telling stories.  In my first-grade report card, Mrs. Patterson wrote, "Thomas entertains the other children with his stories."

Have you worked to achieve your voice or is it just a natural style for you?
I haven't consciously worked to achieve my voice.  I have tried to make sure that I always seek improvement.

Who are your favorite authors and why do you like them?
Too many to count.  I learned many things from John D. McDonald, Robert B. Parker and James Lee Burke. I learned much about dialogue from the first two and how powerful scenes can be developed from prose that flows like poetry from Burke.

What most attracts you to the life of a writer?
I can walk down the hall from my bedroom to my office; boot up the word processor and enter a different world.

If you couldn't be a writer but knew you were guaranteed success at a different career, what would you choose?
The choice: a writer.

If you had to describe your writing in one word, what would that word be?

What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?
"If you can write five *good* pages in a day, that's all you need." From my friend, the late Anne Carroll George.

Thomas Rowe Drinkard, also known as Tom, was born and reared in the Deep South—Alabama. He graduated from the University of North Alabama with a degree in English.  At graduation, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army and went on active duty eight days later. Within two years, he volunteered and was accepted into the Special Forces (Green Berets) after Airborne and Special Forces school, he’d found a home. With a few other assignments in between, he spent ten years with the fabled unit. He was unhappy with the Army’s plans for his future, left active duty and moved into the reserves.  He is now a Major, retired reserves. After the Army, he found his way into teaching and writing in the securities licensing preparation business.  His textbooks, articles and CE courses are in use today. His poetry can be found in a number of literary magazines, including Negative Capability, Cotton Boll/Atlanta review and a several others. Piety and Murder published by LazyDay Publishing is his first piece of long fiction to be published. Thomas is currently working on a prequel. 

Author site:

Twitter: @thomasDrinkard
Facebook: Thomas Drinkard

Monday, March 28, 2011

Perennial Author Bruce R. Cordell!

If you are at all involved in role-playing games or fantasy fiction you have probably run across the name Bruce R. Cordell. As well as being a fabulous game designer and writer Bruce is a really great guy. He's also a very busy guy, but we managed to catch him for a few moments to help us kick off our new Perennial Authors series.

What have you learned that seemed completely unrelated to writing at the time but has influenced your writing career?
The thing I learned that most influenced my writing career was a lesson my dad taught me: if you practice something long enough, no matter HOW AWFUL you are at it, eventually, in time, you’ll not only improve, but master it. You see, I joined the wrestling team in grade school. Even though I wanted to quit every year on account of how bad I was, my dad convinced me to keep it up. After 8 years of this, in junior high, I was the best wrestler on the team, and the 2nd best wrestler in South Dakota (in my weight class /qualifier).

The great thing about that lesson is that it applies to everything in life. Reading. Juggling. Computer programming. Martial Arts .... and WRITING.

Whether physical or mental; he made me realize that Talent Is Practice. Sometimes long grueling practice, but so it goes.

A toy manufacturer has decided to make you their new superhero action figure. What is your superpower and what are you wearing?
I've indicated on my website that my superpower is: animals like me. However, I doubt that a toy manufacturer would make much money on the Animal Whisperer. So, since you're giving me a blank check, I'd love to have the power of teleportation--just think what a boost I could be to the space industry! With that last in mind, I'd probably wear one of those new-fangled bodyweave spacesuits, bright red of course.

Do you ever regret deciding to become a professional writer?
I don't. I regret I don't have enough time to do other things I'd like to spend a lot of time on, like programming, or volunteering at an animal shelter or with a wilderness society, or even reading as many books as I'd like. But no, writing is great. It can be hard and lonely, but its also rewarding and ultimately satisfying to me.

What is the best part of being a professional writer?
The act of creation. Pulling threads together slowly and surely, first with the outline, then with the first draft where things may go off-outline in a surprising way, then with the 2nd draft when you've got some good input from editors and readers. The completed work stands on its own. It might be better or worse than your last creation, but it is something, and you've made it from the labor of your own mind.

Give us a quick overview of what you write and where we can find it.
I write "swords & sorcery" Forgotten Realms books and short stories. During my day job, I design games. My novel and Short Story Credits include:

Sword of the Gods: A Forgotten Realms NovelSword of the Gods, Wizards of the Coast, 2011
Key of Stars, Wizards of the Coast, 2010
"Wandering Stones", Realms of War, Wizards of the Coast, 2010
City of Torment, Wizards of the Coast, 2009
"Black Arrow", Realms of War, Wizards of the Coast, 2008
Plague of Spells, Wizards of the Coast, 2008
Stardeep, Wizards of the Coast, 2007
Darkvision, Wizards of the Coast, 2006

A full list of my publications, including my game publications, can be found here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blooming Author Mik Wilkens!

The Silver CageMik Wilkens' book The Silver Cage was published by LazyDay Publishing, December 1, 2010.

Tell us about your book. What is it about and where will it be available?
The Silver Cage is about David Conner, a down-to-earth guy who has everything going for him: he’s got a great job, he has plenty of money, and he’s just met Jennasara, quite literally the woman of his dreams. But David’s world is turned upside-down when he finds himself on Lucasia, a world where magic is a force of nature and creatures of myth are real. To save Jennasara, David must learn the ways of this strange new world, master its magic forces, and decide who is his friend and who is his enemy.

It will be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, OmniLit, and other leading digital distributors. For active links on where to buy it, go to

What were your inspirations for your book? What sorts of thing inspire you as a writer in general?
My inspiration for The Silver Cage was twofold. One of my favorite fantasy authors is Katherine Kurtz. Her novels inspired me to try writing books of my own. They also taught me the importance of having a logical magic system in a fantasy story. Rather than just having some intangible force called “magic,” there needs to be a source of the power and some kind of rules that the characters have to follow to use that power. That idea was one of the driving forces behind The Silver Cage.

The other inspiration was my desire to write a modern fairy tale that could be enjoyed by adults whether they were fans of fantasy fiction or not. By ‘fairy tale’, I don’t mean the traditional, short folk tales written for children. Instead, I use the term as defined by Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien in his essay ‘On Fairy-Stories’. Tolkien said that fairy tales are not stories about fairies or other fantastic creatures; rather they are about the interaction between humans and such beings. David, a sensible, modern-day businessman, is the human that interacts with the fantastic creatures as he explores Lucasia, investigates how and why he ended up there, and uncovers the layers of intrigue that surround the lives of the world’s inhabitants.

In general, pretty much anything and everything inspires me. It could be something I see, something I read, just some passing thought. Sometimes my muse will just toss a scene out at me and I have to figure out what to do with it.

Let's talk about your process. How do you approach a story, do you start with outlines or something else? Where did you work when writing your book? Do you think it was the optimal writing environment for you?
I’ve tried using outlines, but they don’t work for me because they’re too limiting; I never stick to them. A large part of the fun in writing is discovering the story as I write it. When I start a story, I have a beginning, a possible ending, and usually some ideas about scenes in the middle. Then I just start writing. Sometimes I write myself into a corner, and then I have to do a bit of planning, but I never plan very far ahead. I’ve found that the ending ideas I start out with generally tend to change quite a bit by the time I get there, so even the endings are a surprise to me.

I can write anywhere. When I’m in a writing mood, I carry around a pad of paper everywhere I go and write every chance I get. Fortunately, I have a very tolerant husband who doesn’t mind me writing when we go out to dinner or go for a drive. So I guess I don’t have anything that could be called an optimal writing environment; it’s really the mood that matters. When the writing mood strikes, I write. It doesn’t matter where I am.

Tell us about your "story of getting published."
I started writing in the early 1970s, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s that I decided to try to get published. My first rejection letter was dated December 7, 1990. I was lucky in that it wasn’t a form rejection letter; it was actually typewritten on letterhead, addressed me by name, referenced my manuscript by the title, and was signed by a real person. For a rejection letter, that was pretty heartening, so I kept writing.

In June 2010, my science fiction novella The Price of Conquest was accepted for publication by WolfSinger Publications, then The Silver Cage was accepted by LazyDay Publishing a few months later. It feels like 2010 is the year I’ve been discovered. :-)

What are the publicity plans you have coming up?
I have a website for the book,, and I’ve created a book trailer. I’ve also set up a Facebook fan page, and I have a Twitter account that I’ve been using to get the word out. I’m working on getting more interviews, and I have my own blog that I’m using to talk about the book and my other writing. I wrote and distributed a press release about the book, too.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fresh Voice Jimmy Blonde!

Welcome to the latest edition of Fresh Voices. We are delighted to share with you the voice of Jimmy Blonde!

What is your ultimate writing goal?
My ultimate writing goal is to write the best book I can.

Why do you write?
I write in order to be true to myself because writing is what I was meant to do.

I've always written, poems, songs, short stories, scripts, internet forum posts, stream of consciousness and, occasionally, on bathroom walls. Initially I wrote as an outlet for my own emotional needs and came to realise that writing was becoming a increasingly important part of my life. I decided that I should pursue writing professionally in order to achieve the highest expression of the ability that I have been given.

Have you worked to achieve your voice or is it just a natural style for you?
It's an ongoing process.

I have cultivated my voice to the extent that I am comfortable with putting it on display which, yes, involved hard work.

Who are your favorite authors and why do you like them?
I'll give you five off the top of my head...

Douglas Adams, for his irreverent style, visionary perspective and extraordinary insights.

J.R.R. Tolkien, for his vivid and incredibly polished realisation of the creative impulse.

George Carlin, for his faultless wisdom.

Janet Evanovich, for her incredible ability to entertain.

John LeCarre, for the undiluted humanity of his characters.

What most attracts you to the life of a writer?
Essentially, being the captain of my own ship.

My attraction to writing stems from the fact that artistic pursuits revolve largely around the ability of the artist to communicate their ideas in a way which elicits a response. This is something that I am able to do without having to conform to somebody elses' idea of how it should be done. I refuse to live life on any other terms than my own and accept the responsibility to develop myself so that those terms serve to improve the world around me.

If you couldn't be a writer but knew you were guaranteed success at a different career, what would you choose?
A pilot, preferably flying aerobatics.

I love to fly and I see the pure, physical expression of aerobatics as being the ultimate type of flying.

If you had to describe your writing in one word, what would that word be?

What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?
I woke up with this thought in my mind one morning,

If you're going to be a writer then WRITE! Stop fooling around and do it.

The actual wording was a little more colourful than that but you get the idea...

This from a friend- "When you're writing your first draft just let go and pour it all out onto the page." (Hi Paxton!)

Stephen King- ""The road to hell is paved with adverbs."

He came, he saw, he quickly realised that it was all a joke and tried to help people laugh at it.

Facebook: Search for 'Jimmy Blonde' and look for his picture as posted above. He killed all the other pirates called 'JimmyBlonde' so finding him should be simple.

Twitter: @JimmyBlonde79

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Living Legend Alan Dean Foster!

Predators I Have Known, available on Amazon!

It's appropriate that Alan Dean Foster be my first Legend featured on Writing Insight because the Star Trek Logs were among the first books I read and I've read them countless times over the years. If you're a fan of science fiction then you've probably read (and loved) something of Foster's as well. He is famous for writing novel adaptations of movies, including the books for Star Wars, Alien, and Transformers to name a few. He's also had many successful individual novels and series, including his Humanx Commonwealth books and Spellsinger series. With over 100 books to his credit Foster has also written fantasy, horror, mystery, and westerns. It turns out that Foster is so great at telling us adventure stories because he's a bit of an adventurer himself. This year he is publishing Predators I Have Known, a non-fiction book about his travels. And face it, you're going to buy it for the chapter "Teenage Killer Ninja Otters" alone.

Mr. Foster, thanks for being interviewed here at Writing Insight! It seems that your adventurous nature informed all those great stories you've written over the years. I noticed that the trips for Predators I Have Known start about ten years after you began to be published. In the beginning of your writing career before you could go on big trips what adventures did you draw on?

Only the ones I could think up and read about.  My father subscribed to National Geographic Magazine, which issues I devoured as soon as they arrived at our house.  When I left, I picked up my own subscription: unbroken now for more than forty years.  I also was heavily influenced by the travels and adventures depicted in the Uncle Scrooge comics written and drawn by the great Carl Barks.  Just the names Barks alluded to in his stories were enough to spark my imagination.  In one issue, Scrooge is required to make his annual world inspection tour of his vast property holdings, and he reels off a list of wonderful place names.  One of them is Famagusta, which rolls off the tongue (and the brain) so mnemonically I could never forget it.  Half a century after first reading that comic I finally made it to the real Famagusta (it's an ancient city in northern Cyprus).  I also never forgot the book BRING 'EM BACK ALIVE by the famous animal collector Frank Buck.  One of the stories in that volume led to the creation of the character Pip, the Alaspinian minidrag.

What was your very first "adventure" trip and did it make it into Predators I Have Known?
I'd always dreamed of sailing to Tahiti.  Everyone knows the vision from the movies: lying in a hammock on a beach beneath overarching palm dreams, sipping some exotic drink with a little umbrella poking out of it, gazing at the turquoise water and some beautiful vahine.  I went there in 1973.  First thing I learned was, all the really pretty vahines were either married or ladies of the evening, and the French authorities gaze askance on visitors who opt to beachcomb.  They want you in the fancy hotels, paying taxes.  Yet because of a remarkable woman, Princess Maheta Miri Rei, I ended up having quite the summer adventure.  Look for her briefly, at age 27, as the drum dancer in the second-highest grossing film of 1938, WAIKIKI WEDDING, starring Bing Crosby.  Wonderful as that particular story is, there are no predators involved, and therefore nothing from that trip made it into PREDATORS I HAVE KNOWN.  Although I suppose I could have included the bit about me snorkeling on Raiatea's reef and being followed by a small shark, of whose presence I was utterly unaware until I emerged from the water and was so informed of my follower by a frightened friend.

If you could do a safari on another world, one that either you've written or someone else has created, which world would you pick?
That's easy.  I'd have to go to MIDWORLD.   Suitably protected and guided, of course.  It would be fun to visit future Earth, and the thranx homeworld of HIVEHOM, but there would be more to see and marvel at on Midworld than any dozen other planets.

If you were an animal which animal would you be and why?
Otter.  What other animal has so much obvious fun, whether its playing hide-and-seek, sliding down snowbanks or waterfalls, is equally at home on land or in water, is quite capable of defending itself against much larger animals, and is downright cute to boot.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blooming Author Lisa Greer!

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” ~ George Sheehan

Lisa Greer's book Magnolian was published by Siren Book-Strand in e-book form in March 2011 and will be available in print in June 2011.

Tell us about your book. What is it about and where will it be available?
My book is a paranormal/gothic romance. It is set near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and in a small town in Alabama. It harkens back to the gothic romances that were so popular in the 60s and 70s, but it is thoroughly contemporary. The heroine, Lillian Mullins, must choose between two men and solve a forty year old mystery at her mother's ancestral home in Alabama. Ghosts, murder, and mayhem meet her there when she goes to spend a few months at Magnolian after her father's death.

What were your inspirations for your book? What sorts of thing inspire you as a writer in general?
My inspirations are those gothic novelists who have gone before. I read gothic romances voraciously as a teenager, and I still do. Barbara Michaels, Phyllis A. Whitney and others like Mary Shelley captured my imagination and took me to the worlds of their novels. I enjoy using the trappings of the gothic romance novel when I write: old diaries, secret rooms, ghosts, inheritances, family secrets, murder, and so on.

I love literature so much that I majored in English in college and went on to earn my M.A. degree in 18th Century British Literature at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Reading almost non-stop since I was five and then writing and blogging about what I have read has offered me a world of inspiration. Further ideas come from things people say; I'm always listening. The idea for my second novel, for example, came from a friend's off hand comment during an every day conversation. I ran with it.

Another invaluable life experience for me has been living in four states in the last ten years and spending two years in Vancouver, British Columbia. These diverse settings are integral to the themes and concerns of my novels; I think a sense of place is so important, and I'm grateful I've gotten to really savor the settings I write about. If I'm using a place as a setting, I have lived there (or in a little town much like the one I have fictionalized).

One of my pet peeves has always been novels that have a setting where the author has obviously never been but that is used just for the sake of being exotic. Such settings are flat and unbelievable. I believe part of taking readers out of their every day lives and transporting them to other places is having settings that are grounded in reality. Of course, now you can see why I would not make a good science fiction writer!

Let's talk about your process. How do you approach a story, do you start with outlines or something else? Where did you work when writing your book? Do you think it was the optimal writing environment for you?
I start with a beginning, middle, and end. A basic concept/idea comes to me, and I'm ready to write. I outline as I go along, but I never know for sure what path my characters will take to get to the end of a novel. They constantly surprise me, usually at 1 a.m, and they often misbehave. I only wish my muse were a morning person, but like me, she's not.

I work on my home computer in the den when I write. It's often quiet during the day, and I like that, but I can write when my family is home as well. I think the environment works beautifully for me because it is comfortable and convenient.

Tell us about your "story of getting published."
In August of last year, my husband asked me, "When are you going to write your novel? You blog all the time about others' writing, and I know you could do it." I knew he was right, and writing a novel has been a life long plan of mine. I am the owner of the Gothicked Blog-- a blog that reviews gothic novels (many of them gothic romance novels of the 1960s and 70s) and has contests.

I took his question to heart and started writing. I wrote the novel quickly, using Stephen King's advice in 'On Writing' to write every day. I committed to myself to write for an hour a day, and I do. I think that has been a key to my success with completing that first novel and now being nearly done with my second. I feel lucky that discipline and schedules come naturally to me as an ISTJ personality type.

I had a beta reader read 'Magnolian' when I was done with it, and I continued to revise. I queried tons of agents and got several requests for full and partial manuscripts. I also got many rejections. After a month or so went by, my list of agents still looking had dwindled, and I decided to go the small romance press route. I queried my top five of such presses, and I got an offer from Siren Book-Strand within two weeks of querying them.

What are the publicity plans you have coming up?
I will continue to post on my Gothicked Blog and also have an author site:

I am doing a Blog Tour, and this blog is one along the stop. Also, I plan to make local appearances both in my hometown in Alabama when I go back home periodically and here in Brownsville, Texas. I am also an avid user of Facebook and Twitter, and I plan to use those media for promotion as well. I have met such great people through both sources, and I'd love to meet more!

Let's do some promotion right now. If we get 20 comments on this interview then one random commenter will get a FREE copy of my Magnolian ebook!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blooming Author J. M. Kelley!

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” ~ George Sheehan

J.M. Kelley's book Drew in Blue will be published by Lazy Day Publishing 12/1/10.

Tell us about your book. What is it about and where will it be available?
Drew in Blue is a contemporary romance about a thirty-six year old loner unexpectedly saddled with the task of raising a baby while trying to sort out his mess of a life. Problem is, he just keeps making things worse for himself. It’s a running theme in Drew Doyle’s life, considering he never does anything the easy way. The River’s View, Pennsylvania gossip mill is watching each misstep as Drew juggles a price-gouging babysitter, a major case of artist’s block, and a best friend with an opinion to share on every bungled choice he makes.

His love life isn’t faring much better. Despite a long history of relationships that never really get off the ground, Drew falls head over heels for someone new, hoping she might be the one to end his romantic bad luck streak. After a few abysmally bad false starts, things finally start looking up. That is, until he finds out (the hard way, naturally) that his new love interest isn’t the one for him after all. Turns out it’s actually lifelong pal and high school girlfriend, Kristina Moser.

Drew’s feelings for Kris intensify as he witnesses her growing bond with his son and he finally realizes where he belongs. Now all he has to do is convince Kris he’s right… and she’s just not buying it.

What were your inspirations for your book? What sorts of thing inspire you as a writer in general?
I think I'm most inspired by every day life. I like to find the story in the people around me. I see a person on the street, and sometimes I wonder about what's going on in their life. Why do they look so sad or so angry? What happened? I love trying to piece together a tale about people we can identify with in some way.

Drew in Blue
came from a desire to see a male character who is ultimately likable, but has his flaws. I'm fascinated with the male perspective, and wanted to show a man who isn't perfect, but underneath, he has a good heart. Drew does dumb things, he says the wrong thing at times, but his heart is in the right place.

Let's talk about your process. How do you approach a story, do you start with outlines or something else? Where did you work when writing your book? Do you think it was the optimal writing environment for you?
The grand vision for a story hits me out of the blue, and I know when I get that excited feeling that I have a concept that I want to see through to the end.

With Drew in Blue, the concept that came to me was basically, ""What if a guy who is a bit of a social leper suddenly becomes a father? How would his life change?"" And the rest came to me as I wrote.

I don't outline, in general. Maybe if I'm trying to plot out a few chapters, I'll piece together a rough outline, but overall, no. I'm a believer in letting the story tell itself. Maybe I have one idea about where the plot should lead, but eventually, the characters take over and tell me what happens next.

I think that tells me its working, if the characters are so real to me that I feel like I'm taking instruction from them. Outlining, for me, feels like a barrier between me and the people I've created.

As far as writing, I write where I can. In bed, at the park, at the beach, in the car. I take a notepad with me always, and when story strikes, I'm prepared. Also, I'm a bit of a night owl. My best stuff comes to me somewhere around the 3 a.m. mark. I've learned to stop fighting it, and just indulge the muse.

Tell us about your "story of getting published."
My original manuscript was about 80,000 words, and had an information dump starting chapter I was convinced was perfect. Eventually, I accepted that I needed a new beginning, and after attending the Pennwriters conference and sitting down with an agent who gave me some great advice, I retooled the beginning and added about 10,000 words.

Then I started to query with the worst query in the history of man and probably made a few agents laugh harder than they'd laughed before. But after reading through Query Shark and doing some research, I managed to create a functional pitch that started getting results.

I began to get good feedback from agents on the pitch and the sample pages, but the general rejection usually had to do with what the agents were taking on at that time. So I had to do some soul-searching. Did I need to go for print and wait for possibly years to be published, or was e-publishing an option?

I decided it was a good time to test the e-publishing waters, and after a few queries, I finally got that long-awaited 'yes' from Lazy Day Publishing. And I'm so glad I did. I'm surrounded with fantastic authors who are so supportive and eager to take this journey, and I have a wonderful publisher who is in-tune with their authors. I'm over the moon about the experience and my debut last December 1st.

What are the publicity plans you have coming up?
I will publicize wherever I can. I'm shopping around for interviews and book review blogs. I might be batting my eyelashes at the local newspaper soon. Social networking is key, so I've set up a Twitter and a Facebook. I blog on my website at, and hope to be able to find potential readers through that, and I'm always trying to dream up new ways to get the word out about Drew In Blue. I have my nose to the ground, looking for publicity opportunities!