Table Talk – Meet Edward

Happy Thursday, readers! Today, I have a guest who puts the spotlight on comedy with his writing. Here to tell you more is Edward!

 

Hi Edward! Thanks for joining us here on Table Talk. Tell us a little about yourself.

1) What sorts of things do you write and where are you in the publishing process?

I write mostly absurd comedy mixed with elements of fantasy, and I’m all over the place! I self-published a book, but took it off the market to re-edit. That process is going well and I’m constantly amazed by how much my style has changed after a couple years.

Then I’ve got another book I’m editing before writing the second part of the first draft.

Then there’s another that’s shorter but only one-fourth written.

Then there’s…

2) What inspires the stories you tell?

Life. The universe. Everything. Douglas Adams. Isaac Asimov. Random conversations with people. Subconscious association. Disassociation. Nintendo. Weird dreams. The person reading this right now who doesn’t know I know they’re reading this but I do. But I don’t.

3) What life experiences have helped you to become a better writer?

Writing, primarily.

I worked as an audio-book editor for a couple years, which helped me understand better the natural rhythm of speech. It also forced me to read over two hundred books in two years, so… that helped too. I was able to peek between the lines at the outlines of best sellers to see what made them tick. It wasn’t pretty.

4) When you write, how do you plan your schedule? Do you commit to a length of time, word count, or just write as time allows?

This is a good question, and I only recently developed a decent answer. According to my new schedule – from seven to nine in the morning I write, from nine to ten I work on my author’s platform, then I write again from ten to twelve. I’ll take a ten minute break every hour. I use a mechanical egg timer to remind me that time exists. I’ve got a video about the system here: https://youtu.be/2GmBoKlGMyw

5) What is the most challenging thing you’ve come across in pursuing this craft?

My anxiety.

I think it’s my worst enemy in all this. Once I put it aside, everything’s easy – the writing, editing, proofing, publishing, etc. But my anxiety often stops me from ever making a move. Or, once I do make a move, it says, “Hey! How about this other idea instead?!”

The new schedule’s helping.

6) Has anything come surprisingly easy for you?

Comedy.

I wasn’t particularly surprised by how easy it was for me. But I was overwhelmingly surprised at how difficult it is for others. Apparently I’ve got a talent or something. I just assumed everyone could whip up a joke on demand.

7) How did you reach the decision to become an author? Was there a defining moment, or was the decision gradual?

I worked as an audio-book editor for over two years and read over two hundred books. In that time, I realized two things. A – I was in a dead-end job making decent money with benefits where I would probably die from some illness caused by sitting in a dark basement all day. B – There weren’t a lot of good comedy books out there.

I had a story my dad and I had been working on for fifteen years and I decided it was about time to finish it properly and make something awesome.

Two years later, I’m editing the crap out of it.

8) If you could sum up a piece of wisdom you’ve gained in your journey to write, what would it be?

Just do it.

Don’t let your dreams be dreams.

NO, SERIOUSLY! This is the biggest mistake anyone can make! Don’t overcomplicate it, don’t make excuses, and don’t let excuses make you!

JUST.

DO.

IT.

9) How would you prepare someone who wanted to start writing? What advice would you give him/her?

I have a pen.

I have a paper.

I have a JUST WRITE THE FREAKING BOOK.

Write a few short stories. Find your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths. Figure out the awkward punctuation issues. Once you can write a short story without it being stiff, start writing your book.

10) What do you enjoy reading?

Not a lot actually.

I know. It’s weird for a writer to not like reading. I’m pretty sure I have mild dyslexia, ADHD, or both. A book’s got to be really freaking good to keep my attention and be worth the aching eyes.

With that said, I do enjoy non-fiction, Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, and the occasional well-written fantasy novel by other authors.

I’m currently reading “The Stuff of Thought” by Steven Pinker. (Non-fiction: linguistics, psychology, very dense, extraordinarily well done.)

11) Do you have a favorite author? Do you have a favorite book?

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

12) Different people have different ideas of what makes a great story. What’s yours?

Fun dialogue, deep thought, a dash of humor, and short chapters. #NoFiller

13) What’s your dream writing job?

A. Give my writing away for free to everyone who wants it.
B. People laugh, think, and form a community around my work.
C. Patreon.
D. ???
E. Profit. $35k per year is fine. I’m not greedy.

I’ve yet to figure out the exact platform to do this.

That’s what this year is about.

No. It’s not Wattpad.

14) Do you have any writing resources you swear by?

Twitter.

The writing community there is amazing.

15) Where can people find you/your work?

Currently I don’t have any books for sale.

However, I do have some interesting stuff over on YouTube. If you’re looking to boost your creativity, or just want a good laugh, here’s a link to my channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdDv5fjjEySZjR31st1zt0g

I’m also losing my mind on Twitter: @EdwardVanWinkle

Edward, thanks for joining us here on Table Talk and giving us some laughs! Best of luck on all your comedy endeavors. It’s been a pleasure!

Table Talk – Meet Kelly

Welcome, readers, to the first Table Talk of 2018! If you’re like me, you’ve made (or are going to make) goals for the new year. Again, if you’re like me, you’ll find keeping those goals to be an immense challenge. Perhaps a little inspiration is needed. Meet Kelly!

 

What sorts of things do you write and where are you in the publishing process?

I write Young Adult and New Adult speculative fiction, so I dabble in Science Fiction and Fantasy. The first two books in my Rogue Elegance trilogy were indie published, and the third and final installment is due out in spring 2018. I’m also currently querying a post-apocalyptic young adult manuscript and a new adult Peter Pan retelling. I’ve been keeping busy!

What inspires the stories you tell?

I draw inspiration from everything; reading, art, music, the real world, and human observation. My day job (before I became a stay-at-home mom) was as a social worker and working on that therapeutic level with clients really allows you to observe the full spectrum of human emotion. I think that’s why my books tend to be so character driven. I love taking people apart and finding what makes them tick, and then placing them in a high-stakes story and setting them loose.

What life experiences have helped you to become a better writer?

For me, I’ve become a better writer through writing a lot of really terrible things. I’ve improved by failing over and over again. The trick is to pick myself up, dust myself off, and get a little bit better each time.

When you write, how do you plan your schedule? Do you commit to a length of time, word count, or just write as time allows?

I wish I could adhere to a schedule. I write whenever I can, whether it’s for five minutes or six hours. As a first time mom to a one-year-old, my writing time comes in snippets. I often burn the midnight oil and write when the baby is sleeping, but I’ve been known to cram in a writing session in the grocery store parking lot a time or two.

What is the most challenging thing you’ve come across in pursuing this craft?

I would say the largest challenge to date has been mastering the indie publishing scene. When I first made the decision to self-publish, I don’t think I was fully aware of what exactly I’d gotten myself into. It really is a full time job, and you’re a one-man company. Books don’t sell themselves! It’s been an infinitely humbling process, but I’m slowly starting to figure things out.

Has anything come surprisingly easy for you?

Oh, good grief, no. Every bit of it is earned, from putting those first words down to editing, to working through writer’s block, to rejection and bad reviews and marketing. If I had to pick something easy, it would be how wonderful it is to connect with other writers. There’s a terrific network of support out there, and the combined knowledge of people who are more talented than me is really limitless. I’m a sponge around them.

How did you reach the decision to become an author? Was there a defining moment, or was the decision gradual?

I started writing when I lost my hearing to Meningitis. I had a difficult time adapting and so I threw myself fully into fictional worlds. Eventually, I started writing my own stories and creating my own worlds. I can’t remember when it went from being a passion to a career pursuit, but it feels like the desire to write has always been there.

If you could sum up a piece of wisdom you’ve gained in your journey to write, what would it be?

It’s hard to pinpoint just one. I heard Victoria Schwab speak last winter and she talked about putting your ideas on a backburner and letting them simmer before even starting to write about them. This has been the way I’ve tried approaching all of my writing since then, and it really allowed me to form more coherent plots well before tackling that first draft.

How would you prepare someone who wanted to start writing? What advice would you give him/her?

Read. Read, read, read and read some more. I read as much as I write, if not more. I also frequently try to read books that aren’t in my genre. You can’t know how to tell a good story if you don’t read good stories.

What do you enjoy reading?

I read everything and anything, so long as it’s fictional. I don’t do well with non-fiction, but I wish I did. My favorite author is Margaret Atwood. I think her prose is pure poetry.

Different people have different ideas of what makes a great story. What’s yours?

I think high stakes make a great story. If I’m going to get invested, the characters need to feel invested. Robert Frost says, “no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader,” and it’s so true.

What’s your dream writing job?

My dream writing job is to be a full-time author! I’m currently a full-time mom and part-time author, but I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Do you have any writing resources you swear by?

Is a beta reader considered a writing resource? I work with alpha and beta readers like they’re going out of style, and I am grateful for each and every one of the wonderful writers and readers with whom I’ve partnered.

Where can people find you/your work?

People can check out my website at www.kadowling.com

Or find me being snarky on Twitter at @KayAyDowling

The first two books in my rollicking pirate adventure trilogy, The Changing Tide and The Forbidden City, are available for purchase on Amazon and on the Barnes and Noble website! They can be bought in hard copies or downloaded as e-books.

 

Many thanks to Kelly for joining us on Table Talk and best of luck!

Table Talk – Meet Angelique

Welcome, readers, to another Table Talk! In the hot seat is Angelique who draws inspiration from her knowledge of the real world and injects it into her writing. Check out her interview below. Happy reading!

 

Hi Angelique! Thanks for joining us here on Table Talk. Tell us a little about yourself.

Good morning, James. Thanks for having me. As a disclaimer, I would like to add that all my responses are coming while I’m only on my second cup of coffee, so please be kind in your judgements of me.

What sorts of things do you write and where are you in the publishing process?

I write Young Adult Romantic Urban Fantasy, Dystopians, and New Adult Romances. I am about half-way in the second book of my “Mystics” trilogy, and I am currently seeking representation for the first book.

What inspires the stories you tell?

I have a Master’s degree in Religious Studies, so I enjoy turning ancient texts into modern fun. (That’s actually my tag line!) I don’t write vampires and werewolves. I write gods, goddesses, and demons as characters.

What life experiences have helped you to become a better writer?

For starters, I am an avid reader–which is a non-negotiable to the writing process.

When you write, how do you plan your schedule? Do you commit to a length of time, word count, or just write as time allows?

My writing is my job. I get the rest of the family off in the mornings, and then I go down to my office to write. I do aim for a word count every day.

What is the most challenging thing you’ve come across in pursuing this craft?

In my humble experience, until you are published, it’s hard to get anyone else to take your writing seriously. It’s almost like until you have something published, everyone else sees what you do as a hobby, no matter how seriously you take your own writing. But I suppose a lot of different artists in other crafts feel the same way.

Has anything come surprisingly easy for you?

Dialogue.

How did you reach the decision to become an author? Was there a defining moment, or was the decision gradual?

This one is a bit of a story in itself. When my husband came home from his second deployment and we were transferring duty stations from Florida to Colorado, I had the idea of writing a series of Middle Grade books, almost like the Magic Tree House series, but with religions. I was desperately trying to put my Master’s to good use. My characters, however, had no interest in being Middle Grade, so I had to bump it up to Young Adult.

If you could sum up a piece of wisdom you’ve gained in your journey to write, what would it be?

Don’t stop. Don’t give up. And write for yourself. If everyone else likes it too, well that’s just icing on the cake.

How would you prepare someone who wanted to start writing? What advice would you give him/her?

Find a writer’s group to join. At minimum, find critique partners who understand the genre in which you are writing so that the feedback you receive is relevant.

What do you enjoy reading?

I read in several genres, and I read literary. I believe there is much to learn from the craft of as many writers as possible.

Do you have a favorite author? Do you have a favorite book?

I have too many favorite authors to list. And as far as what I consider a favorite book: if I read a book more than once, it’s a favorite. I can count on both hands the number of books that I have felt worthy of reading more than once (and taking time away from me reading a new book). It’s a strange unit of measurement, I know, but I’m a strange individual. Here are a few of my favorites:

A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

Life of Pi, Yann Martel

World War Z, Max Brooks

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Indigo, Beverly Jenkins

The Infernal Devices Series, Cassandra Claire

Holly Black

Jennifer L. Armentrout

Alice Walker

Like Water for Chocolate

etc, etc, etc

Different people have different ideas of what makes a great story. What’s yours?

I want to be transported to another time/world/reality. And can you keep me there half the night when I should be sleeping?

What’s you’re dream writing job?

Writing my novels right now is my dream job. The only thing more that I could ask is to have them published.

Do you have any writing resources you swear by?

Find a community of writers. People are your best resources: for critiques, for plotting help, for networking, for support. FIND A TRIBE! They are out there, and they are waiting on you.

Angelique, thanks for joining us here on Table Talk. It’s been a pleasure!

Thank you! The pleasure has been all mine.

Table Talk – Meet Christy

Good Friday to you, readers! On this, the very first Table Talk, I have Christy as my guest. Like the rest of us, she faces the challenges of becoming a published writer, but shows no signs of being deterred in doing what she loves. Read on to meet her as she shares her story with us.

 

Hi Christy! Thanks for joining us here on Table Talk. Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in Kansas City, MO with my husband and three kids, but I grew up in Texas and Oklahoma. I’ve never really had a traditional career in any field as I went from college to temp jobs to grad school to raising children. I wrote off and on between babies but didn’t get serious about writing and trying to sell it until about three years ago.

What sorts of things do you write and where are you in the publishing process?

I write historical fantasy and urban/post-apocalyptic fantasy. My current project is an urban/PA tetralogy.

I’m at the frustration level of the publishing process. I’ve received excellent feedback both in person and by email from professionals on my current query and manuscript, but the abundance of urban fantasy in the market hurts my chances. I got a clearer picture of this at a conference when I was told “Nothing is wrong with this at all, but I would stop reading because it’s urban fantasy and I know it’s a hard sell.”

So, I’m investigating self-publishing right now. When I get book 2 into the polishing stages, I want to put book 1 on the market. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t wait more than 3 months to get a new book out when I e-publish.

What inspires the stories you tell?

I have a BA in History but originally majored in Biology. While I’d always enjoyed creative writing, I didn’t see it as a career avenue. As I worked on my Masters, I found myself interested in the people of history and their stories. I started plotting out stories set in my favorite periods, following that old platitude, “write what you know.”

The first novel I finished was intended as a historical set in England a few years after the Norman Conquest (such an underrepresented period in HF!) But as many critique partners noted, fantasy kept creeping into my plot. So, I finally gave in to the call of the genre and finished my first fantasy about a year ago.

I still include a lot of history and science in my contemporary fantasy and some day I might go back to that first book and revise it to suit the fantasy world.

What life experiences have helped you to become a better writer?

To sound old, the longer I live the more I understand people and their motivations. That certainly helps develop good characters. Also, joining a critique group is a good decision. Other writers point out habits and weaknesses that I would never catch on my own.

When you write, how do you plan your schedule? Do you commit to a length of time, word count, or just write as time allows?

I wish I had a schedule. I’m pretty good at creating them but horrible at following them. I use a combo of time allowance and word count goals. It helps to have a goal in sight and I even give myself a gold star on my old-fashioned calendar for every 1000 words.

What is the most challenging thing you’ve come across in pursuing this craft?

I struggle with self-motivation and time management. In fact, I quit a job to devote more time to writing and ended up writing less than I did before. I realized I needed an outside responsibility to force me to schedule time for writing. This is almost the only reason I recently started a part-time job.

Has anything come surprisingly easy for you?

Editing. I LOVE revisions. Weird, I know. I also enjoy helping others revise anything from non-fiction essays to romance novels. It makes me think I missed a calling in copy-editing.

How did you reach the decision to become an author? Was there a defining moment, or was the decision gradual?

Gradual. It started as a hobby but I wanted to share it. When I did, others enjoyed it so I spent more time with it. Eventually I thought, “I should really try to make money with this hobby that consumes my every waking thought.”

If you could sum up a piece of wisdom you’ve gained in your journey to write, what would it be? How would you prepare someone who wanted to start writing? What advice would you give him/her?

Be prepared to wait a long time to receive positive responses. When criticism upsets you, put it aside for a couple of weeks, but don’t delete it or discount it. Usually, you’ll be able to use it once you’re in a more peaceful frame of mind. Thick skin is a benefit, but I don’t have it, so the above advice is definitely a personal lesson. Always thank someone for constructive criticism whether you mean it or not. Constructing believable gratitude is a good writing exercise.

What do you enjoy reading?

I love a good urban fantasy. High fantasy isn’t always a hit with me but there are some I enjoy. I also like historical fiction, mysteries, and some romance.

Do you have a favorite author? Do you have a favorite book?

Elizabeth Peters is my all time favorite author, probably because she was an
Egyptologist turned mystery writer. I would say that Ilona Andrews inspired my flip to urban fantasy but Peters inspired my early writing. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters.

Different people have different ideas of what makes a great story. What’s yours?

Complex characters and witty dialogue When I can see through a character right away or the dialogue doesn’t move things along and keeping me interested, I usually put it down.

What’s your dream writing job?

Writing whatever I want all day while someone else worries about marketing. There’s a reason I favor fantasy.

Do you have any writing resources you swear by?

On Writing by Stephen King. There are also some good blogs put out by agents like Kristin Nelson’s Pub Rants.

Where can people find you/your work?

I haven’t built a website, yet. When I do, the link will be posted on my Twitter which is @ChristinaHerly1. When I publish, the book links will be there, as well.

Christy, thanks for joining us here on Table Talk. It’s been a pleasure!

Thanks for having me!