Welcome back to Creekside Café, Tyler Wittkofsky. Tyler is a fellow North Carolina writer, but we actually met through our Twitter group, Shameless Self Promo. Tyler it is so good to have you back at my virtual café.
Tyler: I’m happy to be back Sherri, it is always good to connect with fellow writers, especially ones who have a connection to my hometown.
Sherri: I’m so excited that you could take the time out of your busy schedule to come for a visit. You have a lot on your plate. Tell us what you’ve been up to.
Tyler: Up until recently I was working on the Darkened Veil Universe set of blogs, Legends of the Veil and Myths of the Darkness, both which recently came to an end. My friend and fellow author Rebecca Ridge and I are in the process of rebranding our podcast, so that’s been a lot of fun and work. What I’m most excited for, however, is that I have my third book release coming up. Sunflower Kisses Book 1: The Seeds of Love is my first stab at a romance book and is hopefully the first of a five-book series.
Sherri: Your new book is available for pre-order but goes live June 1st, what was the inspiration for this book?
Tyler: I have always been a hopeless romantic. In fact, my now wife and I lived three hours apart when we first met, so I had to be creative with how I showed her my love. There are parts of The Seeds of Love that are loosely based on my life and my relationship with my wife. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of romance books that tackle long distance relationships, but with the way our world is becoming more connected digitally, those types of relationships are becoming more and more frequent. Those stories need to be told.
Sherri: Tell us about the characters. Your blurb is intriguing. Clay seems to have it all and so does Bailey, so what shakes up their world?
Fresh out of college, Clay Dabrowski is finally in a good spot in his life. Backed by his support systems, he has his sights on a new job and loving friends and family by his side. The future looks bright.
Then he meets fiery-red haired Bailey Childe, a college soccer player from a loving family. Dealing with a rocky relationship, she changes Clay’s world, and quickly shakes up all of his plans. Together they forge a path neither believed was possible. But it leaves Clay wondering, is everything as perfect as it seems?
Tyler: Without giving too much away, nothing is as it seems. I tried to throw in curve balls just when the reader thinks things are getting better. They go through a lot together. It is truly a trying relationship towards the end of the book.
Sherri: In your bio you credit your grandmother as one of the influencers of your writing. Are there any other influences you credit for your writing growth and journey?
Tyler: I would say one of my elementary school teachers, Mrs. Sandra Shuford, was one of my biggest inspirations. She took a special interest in me and helped me grow throughout elementary school. We still stay in contact to this day. I would also say my wife is important for my journey. She loves hearing me read my stories to her and gives me feedback from a reader’s perspective. I have to say, I have been lucky with the support my family has shown me.
Sherri: I noticed from your cover that your new novel takes place at the beach and since I’m familiar with your hometown of Leland, I was curious how much of your hometown influenced this novel?
Tyler: This story actually takes place in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which is about an hour from Leland. I visit Myrtle Beach a lot since we are so close, especially when I was younger, and I have friends who live there. Much of the inspiration is drawn from real places in Myrtle Beach.
Sherri: You are a mental health advocate. I believe that is an important job especially in the past two years. Do you feel your advocacy for mental health has any effect on your writing?
Tyler: Oh absolutely. Mental health is something I am passionate about and something I believe in being vocal about. My characters typically have some sort of mental illness that they are battling through. While some steer away from mental illness, I embrace it. I want to make my characters relatable, and mental illness is something that needs to be talked about more and made less taboo.
Sherri: What are you working on now?
Tyler: I have a few works in progress. I have started on the sequel to The Seeds of Love,Love and Growth. I also have a fantasy story I started based on one of the stories I wrote for Legends of the Veil, based on the descendants of Ariadne from Greek Mythology and their hunt for the Minotaur of Crete. I’m writing a story for my grandmother as well that I plan to publish. I have a ton of short stories that I write when I’m inspired that I will probably publish one day.
Sherri: Well, Tyler, I know you’re busy, so I won’t keep you. I wish you a lot of success with your new book. Tell everyone how they can find your book.
It’s a lovely autumn day in eastern North Carolina, and I’m happy to welcome Parker McCoy to my virtual cafe.
Parker: Thank you so much for having me, Sherri. Happy to be here!!
Sherri: We’re almost kissing cousins, I understand you grew up in Tennessee?
Parker: Yes, I have always lived in west Tennessee. Lots of green hills and quiet country which always draws me in.
Sherri: How long have you been writing? Did you write stories as a child?
Parker: Well, when I was a kid, I often came up with characters. I loved the Dick Tracey movie when it came out in 1990. My friends and I would make up villains and draw them out and give them names. We never wrote stories. Just drew and made up the characters. I didn’t read a ton of stuff as a kid. I didn’t read a lot of books until I hit my twenties. I’m almost forty now. So, I have had plenty of experience at this point. But no, as a kid, I mainly watched cartoons and read comic books and played with action figures in a huge backyard for hours on end by myself. I think I was always making up stories in my head, but I wasn’t writing them down, which is what separates a writer from a normal person. We actually have to write these things down or we forget them. I’ve always had a big imagination, though. I really enjoy coming up with stories and would do it rather I put my work out there or not. I figure why not share it with the world, I may get a laugh or two out of it.
Sherri: Is Fairfax and Glew your first books? Tell us a little about them?
Parker: No, I’ve written other books under another name, but I also have Thinking Me Dead under Parker McCoy. Fairfax and Glew center around George Fairfax, who is the black sheep of his family and is also an adventurous dude who doesn’t like to sit still for long. Wally Glew is a private eye with too much time on his hands and together they go after thieves and other petty criminals. You won’t find murder or mayhem in these stories. They’re lighter tales with a humorous side. If you want to read about a guy who steals Marie Callender dinners, this series is for you.
Sherri: What are your plans for your writing future? Do you have more Fairfax and Glew stories or are you thinking of trying something new?
Parker: Oh, I have many, many plans for Fairfax and Glew. I can envision volume ten and beyond that. The farther it goes, the more interesting and developed the characters and of course, introducing new characters is always a thrill as well. I also love it that this series doesn’t take itself too seriously and so I can play around and have a blast. It’s definitely the most fun I’ve ever had through my many years of writing. As for other projects, I’m not currently on anything but who knows? If something strikes me, sure. I’ll take on another project but for now, it’s all about Fairfax and Glew.
Sherri: I have read several of your shorts on your blog. I like your writing style. Is this how your stories are in your books?
Parker: Yes, I like to focus on action and dialogue. I’m not big on lots of reflection or lengthy descriptions of things. I like stories that really move which I think works well for my genre. The first fourteen stories on the blog are written in first-person from Fairfax’s point of view. I like first-person but for a series, I don’t think it works as well. So, I switched to third-person limited so I could pop around in other characters’ heads which has been a blast. It’s opened up whole new worlds for me. But yes, if you like the blog stories, you’ll love the books. However, the stories in the books are longer but they’re in the same style. So, same style and more story. Win, win!!
Sherri: How did you come up with the characters of Fairfax and Glew? Did anyone influence their inception?
Parker: I’d written different books and stories but generally, with one main protagonist. So I played around with a buddy-type, duo story and decided it was something I wanted to do. I came up with Fairfax although he was named Kenneth Fairfax at first. However, I decided he needed to come from a wealthy family who named their children after royalty-kings and queens. As it turned out, there was no King Kenneth. So I changed that to George. Glew popped up on a search and then Wally popped right into my head right after. As far as influence, I think all my characters are a combination of different people I’ve met. That is what’s so cool about meeting and hanging out with a lot of different people.
Sherri: What or whom has been the biggest influence on your writing?
Parker: I’d say laughter. Anytime I quote a movie or book or show to my friends, it’s always the funny parts, even if the movie or show is not a comedy. I think that drives me. When I can make people laugh and forgot about the cruel world out there, I feel great. It starts with making myself laugh and then I hope it moves onto the readers. So far, I think that’s been the case with many. Knock on wood…
Sherri: What do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?
Parker: I’m a big fan of crime and short stories. Edgar Alan Poe was definitely an influence. Donald Westlake was for sure, since he combined humor with crime stories. Charles Dickens wrote my favorite book- A Christmas Carol. I’ve also enjoyed work by Stephen Hunter, Jim Thompson, Ambrose Bierce, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, James Lee Burke, Dashiell Hammett, and Patricia Highsmith. I also love just about anything involving Alfred Hitchcock.
Sherri: Do you belong to any writing groups or organizations? Do you have Beta readers? Are you traditionally or indie published?
Parker: I don’t currently belong to any writing groups, but I would like to. I just haven’t branched out in that area. I use beta readers and enjoy their input. I’m indie published and proud of it!
Sherri: If you could learn from or talk about writing with one person, who would that be? Why?
Parker: I’d love to talk with Donald Westlake and ask him how he churned out so much material, even when things weren’t going so well for him since all writers have tough spots in their careers. He really put in the work.
Sherri: If your stories were picked up for a movie deal, do you have anyone in mind to play your main characters?
Parker: You know, I have nothing against movie adaptations of books, but I really like to picture my characters in my head. When I see them in a movie, it takes something away. It’s like my imagination dies a little. Personally, I’d like to see two unknown actors handle the job. There’s nothing better than seeing a hungry young actor take on a role and break out.
Sherri: Parker and I are part of the Shameless Self Promo group on Twitter, we’re an eclectic group that has found strength and courage with each other. What would you say to someone who is just starting out as a writer or first-time author?
Parker: I would give them some advice that I saw Ray Bradbury give to a young group one time which is to write a short story a week for a year. At the end of the year, you have fifty-two stories. Some won’t be good but there may be a gem or two and you will have so much experience in writing about different characters and different scenarios. Writing is definitely a long game. Very few find success early on. Makes sure it’s fun for you and that you’d do it if you didn’t get paid for it. Focus on telling a story purely. Listen to family members and friends who always captivate people when they tell stories. Learn from them. They are naturals, even though most of them never write anything down. And lastly, of course, have fun at it! If it isn’t fun, move onto a project that is and have a ball!
Sherri: Parker, thank you for joining me at my virtual cafe, stick around a while, the fishing is good and if you brought some good Tennessee whiskey, we can swap some fish stories though I’m not much of a fisherman myself.
Parker: Oh, we don’t need to fish to swap great stories, and whiskey is not a necessity, but the stories may flow better with a little lubricant. Ha-ha. Thank you so much for having me, Sherri. It’s a real pleasure. Or a real McCoy, you might say.
Welcome to my virtual café, author Kevin Lane. This is my daydream to have a coffee shop on the river to visit with my writer friends. The Netherlands is a long way from North Carolina, do you live on the coast?
Kevin: No actually. I live rather close to the German border if I’m being honest!
Sherri: We have several Dutch communities in eastern North Carolina. My mother-in-law was raised in Terra Ceia, a small community near Pantego. She even worked on the tulip farm and tulips are still one of her favorite flowers. Do you live in the country or city? How does where you live effect your writing?
Kevin: I have lived mostly in urban areas over my life. I pretty much grew up in what is often called my city’s ghetto! It was interesting as it taught me early not to judge by first appearances and I reflect that in my work!
Sherri: How long have you been writing? When we were talking earlier, you said you’ve been planning your world since age six. Did you start writing your story then?
Kevin: The worldbuilding back then was mostly a way for me to deal with my home situation. I won’t go into too much detail, but it was pretty unpleasant back then. I did not start writing my story until about age 12. Those stories were bad, I cringe when I remember them. The current story did not enter its first version until I was 17 when the base elements started being created that makes my main hero and villain who they are!
Sherri: You’ve published a short story on Wattpad, is this part of your novel?
Kevin: It is not. It is supposed to be the start of a larger story based on the series RWBY. It is a very Great world which I feel more can be done with and I wished to try my hand at it. I’m actually planning a follow up and to create JADE as a proper mini writing series. Of course, I will be focusing on my main novel as a priority!
Sherri: Do you find it difficult to juggle real-life work and your writing life? How often to you write? Do you have a schedule?
Kevin: It is sometimes. I have trouble maintaining a schedule in combination with my work, but I would not want to quit because a writer is what I wish to really be!
Sherri: Is there a writing community in your town? I belong to a great local community and an international community they have been a big part of my getting published.
Kevin: There are very few local communities and the ones that exist are mainly book clubs and not focused on writing. Netherlands simply is focused on a pretty grounded living which does not often support creativity!
Sherri: You write fantasy, can you tell us about your novel? When do you hope to release it?
Kevin: It is more dark fantasy. It can be described as Game of Thrones meets Lord of the Rings as my dad put it. It takes place in a world ravaged by chaotic energy which causes natural disaster and beings called Remnants to pop up and with the lack of balance the world is slowly crumbling into the void. It is a very unforgiving world in which death is just a part of life. A religion actually spouts the importance of death to return energy to some Lord of Light. Much attention has been put into the political climate of my world as it is central to the story. I like to say Frostspire is the first chapter of a much larger story. As for a release date, I really can’t say. I still need to work on it a bit as I feel a few things don’t flow as I want them to. But my aim is a 2021 release if possible!
Sherri: I started writing at ten years old. A friend’s hurtful comment kept me from sharing my writing for several years. Another friend and my husband encouraged me to start taking my writing seriously and follow my dream. It takes a lot of courage to put our work out there for others to read. Are you ready to deal with good and bad feedback?
Kevin: I feel so long as it is about my work or my personal actions, I can be fine with it. Bad feedback is a part of putting yourself out there. I am rather shy and anxious much of the time which is why I tend to not show my face much. I believe my work should speak for me.
Sherri: You’re a gamer, what are some of your favorite games? Do they influence your writing? Have you considered writing for games?
Kevin: Video games are a medium I enjoy. Mainly ones that require tactical thinking. Fire emblem. Many JRPG’s (Japanese Role Playing Games). But of course, ones with a great story are my favorites. I love Pokemon, but that is one area it tends to lack in a bit. I have considered writing for video games at one point, but I decided that if I did a visual medium, I should do anime as it is more story driven.
Sherri: What do you love about writing? What has been the most difficult for you to learn?
Kevin: I love the ability for pretty much everyone to share their own Fantasies. Some want to write about an epic fantasy adventure to slay a dragon. others about a coming of age story. And others have more…. physical fantasies. Personally, I think it’s all great as we live in an age where writing is more accessible than ever before as back then it was hidden behind publishers; services like Amazon kindle have made the process much smoother.
As for what was hardest to learn, I would have to say accepting not everyone will like what I write! We as writers have an omnipotent view of our world and so everything is clear to us but to our readers it might seem confusing if we write with that assumption and so I had to learn to write as if I was reading it.
Sherri: I’m so glad we met on Twitter. The Shameless Self Promo group has been an awesome boon. I’m not sure if they’ve helped me sell books but they’ve taught me about marketing, and I’ve made some awesome friends.
Kevin: Yeah, the others are amazing. And I’m glad I met you and them! The promo group helped keep me motivated when I was not feeling well and I’m really grateful for that.
Sherri: Thank you Kevin for joining me on the porch of my Creekside Café. I wish you all the best with your career and thank you all for joining us for another Creekside Café Chat. If you enjoyed this interview you can follow Kevin on social media and keep a lookout for his upcoming novel.
Welcome JD Nyle to my virtual café. If I ever win the lottery I’ll build a real café on the river and invite my writer friends to drop in and talk about books, writing and the business of being a writer, but until then, I’m here on my blog, dreaming.
It’s good to have you here JD or should I call you Neostriker?
JD: Thank you for having me. JD is good. Neostriker is the name of my series. I had thought about separating the brand from the author profile, but when I asked my followers, I got more votes to keep them together. And keeping the profile name as Neostriker helps with SEO traffic.
Sherri: JD/Neostriker and I met through our connection with the Twitter group, Shameless Self-Promo. We’ve become a bit of a family online, supporting each other and promoting each other’s work. How long have you been a member of the group? I’m one of the newbies.
JD: I don’t exactly know since I don’t think new members have access to the old messages, though I would assume from the start. It’s been a great group that has more become a community to chat and get feedback. They’ve been very supportive. I even found my cover artist for The Vixen through that group and a new fan of the stories. I really appreciate C. S. Ratliff for organizing it.
Sherri: You have done something a little different with your Neostriker series, you published a book “Neostiker: Shining” but you also have it online on your website, is that correct? Why did you choose to publish this way?
JD: So, for the novel, which I’m beginning to think might be a misnomer, I did not originally plan to publish as a paperback. It started as a fun project to explore writing and catalog some adventures. The result was I had a series of 24 episodes. I did not know about Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) at the time, so I decided to publish on the blog.
When I learned about Amazon’s paperback service (now merged with KDP), I decided to give the story another few rounds of edits and publish after that. There’s an exclusivity clause in KDP’s higher royalty program so most of the blog version has been pulled down in order to accommodate.
Sherri: Would you classify the Neostriker series as dystopian? What genre does it fall under? I know it’s often difficult to know what label to give our work, but it helps when we are promoting it to know what category it fits into.
JD: I wouldn’t think it’s dystopian, though I have contemplated trying it before. However, I like to write hopeful or inspiring things as I cannot maintain a negative perspective for long periods of time.
As for the genre, that is a good question I constantly struggle with. 😀
If we can say Power Rangers is fantasy, then so is Neostriker. The magic system is never referred to as magic. I approached it more as a video game system where I try have things make sense. For instance, if a normal teen gets a sword, he’s not going to be an expert, so he’ll take a few hits, which would be fatal in real combat. However, video game logic allows for multiple hits.
Sherri: What are you working on now? Are there more stories in the Neostriker series coming out soon?
JD: I have six stories drafted currently with a seventh brainstorming. Two which follow up The Vixen are about ready, but I’m trying to figure the best approach for release. It’s tricky since the first one is more romance focused and contains no fantasy elements. Then there is the cover art ordeal. I hope to release them soon, but I need to figure those two parts first.
Sherri: What other genres would you like to explore? What goals do you have for the future?
JD: So, part of my problem is that I don’t limit by genre. Neostriker Shining was consistently action-adventure, but for SABRE, I’m allowing for it to be character and theme driven. As a result, the genre is free to change with the story.
For example, Intent to Join is more serious and focused on family with some fantasy that plays in the background to facilitate the theme. The Vixen is a fun character-focused story with an action climax. The first follow-up is a quiet second date, so it feels like a romance. So, I would say I’m open to genres that aid a particular story. Considering that’s how life is, I figured it would be good to reflect it.
Sherri: What or who has been some of your greatest influences and how?
JD: For the world and mechanics, Digimon and Mega Man were the main ones I focused on to make my own. It took many years, but with Shining, I felt like I had finally succeeded, free to pay tribute but claim that it was mine. For storytelling, I mostly come up with them myself based upon what sounds fun or interesting.
In terms of mechanics, I take inspiration from many places and try to analyze why I liked them and if I can do something similar. For example, one thing I want to dabble with is not having dialogue tags. This is probably because when I grew up, I mostly listened to audio dramas where all action is mostly conveyed through dialogue and sound effects. Though I must say that I sometimes wish I wrote in Japanese since they have way more onomatopoeias.
Sherri: You mentioned that you have lived in Japan, that is somewhere I’d love to visit. How long did you live there? Did your life there influence your writing?
JD: A few years now. I would admit it was a dream to live here that I worked towards. However, fun fact is that when I first came, I could not think about why I wanted to make the trip anymore, in part because I did not like many anime tropes, but I decided to go through with it. I do not regret that decision. Japan is a beautiful country and there are many features and people I love.
In terms of influence, I would say yes, but in an indirect way. The experience I have had has helped me develop my philosophy which then influences the stories I tell and how I develop my characters.
Sherri: What has been the most difficult to learn as a writer? For me it has been punctuation and marketing. I’m still learning both.
JD: Grammar and marketing are definitely my weak areas. Though maybe depression too as I would see friends get much support for their writings, but I would get none from the same group. That’s one reason why I avoid Facebook since it hurts so much more to not see support from “friends”, which my wife thinks is more due to the algorithm and that most people left the platform. Switching to Twitter and interacting with the supportive writing community, especially the self promo group has been great for dealing with that.
Sherri: Who is the perfect client/reader for your books?
JD: I guess myself is the only one I can guarantee. It varies for each story so I guess those who like the variety could be a good one. As well as people who want clean fun that doesn’t write down to the audience.
For the novel, probably teens who want a fun adventure and like having mechanics worked out. I often hear it said it reads like a game. Though my approach was to more emulate an action Saturday morning program for that one.
For the short stories, people who like character-driven stories that follow the lives of the cast with fantasy to play up the themes. Also, people who don’t have much time to read as each story so far is less than 30 minutes.
Personally, I would like to get some YouTubers I follow to give me their thoughts on the stories like Hello Future Me, Captain Midnight, OSP, and Daniel Greene.
Sherri: What are some of the fun and interesting things about you, your characters, and your books that you’d like us to know?
JD: For two of my characters, Helene and Danny, the fight scene was written first, and it was their fighting styles that led me to figure their personality. It works nicely with Neostriker, because the basis of the armor is that it’s a reflection of the character’s spirit.
Another thing is I like to hide Easter eggs or allusions in my works. In Intent to Join, there are references to the song that inspired the story. In The Vixen, there are a few Japanese cultural references. However, some things are pure coincidence. For example, Danny evokes a martial artist when fighting. In one of my drafts, I referred to him as karate kid as a taunt from his opponent. I only recently remembered that the Karate Kid’s name was Daniel.
Sherri: If you have enjoyed our interview you can follow JD on his social media sites through the links below and find his books on Amazon. The links for his books are also below. Thank you for dropping by.
Welcome debut author, Cady Hammer to my Creekside Café. Cady it is good to have you here.
Cady: It is great to be here. Thank you so much for having me.
Sherri: I have to admit that I am so jealous. You are a college student publishing your first book. That is fantastic. I wish I’d been as confident. Tell us about your book. What genre, age group and when will it be out?
Cady: Haha, thank you! It is pretty crazy; I’m still very much in awe of it myself. So, this book is titled Chasing Fae. It is a young adult epic fantasy novel, and it is coming out during the last week of July. My publisher is still working out exactly which date at the moment. The story follows Grace Richardson, a young mortal woman whose brother goes off to the Fae’s realm, the Upper Realm, to serve as a mercenary. Now, she expects him to return with all of the honor and accolades that he deserves. But when he dies in a mysterious accident, not a word, medal, or penny comes down from the Fae. Grace suspects there’s a little foul play going on, so she decides that she is going to disguise herself as a Fae and sneak into the Upper Realm to get some answers. It is a fantastic adventure with a lot of twists and turns, lots of secrets. I’m really excited to put it out into the world.
Sherri: I bet. I’m excited for you. It sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. I know my grandchildren would love it.
Cady and I are part of the Shameless Self-Promo group on Twitter that C.S. Ratliff started. The group has been a wonderful source of support. What have you learned from the group?
Cady: I actually have learned quite a bit of marketing advice from the group. I learned that marketing can often be sometimes like screaming about your book into the void and hoping something sticks. That helped me relax a little and not feel like I was so behind in thinking about these things. When I revealed my cover for the first time, one of the authors pointed out that I might want my name to be a little bigger on the front cover in order to be seen from a thumbnail as well as easily recognizable when looking for future books of mine. She said it was all about building a brand. I thought that was really useful.
Sherri: What has been your most challenging experience publishing your first book?
Cady: Finding time and using that time to the absolute fullest. I started this book during my first semester of college, and now I’m entering my fifth semester. I am taking a major and a minor (history and anthropology) as well as working towards a certificate program. I’ve been involved in my honors fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi, and ballroom dance club since my freshman year. So, there was always a lot going on. For me, it was all about finding those moments after my homework was finished and in between club meetings to really sit down with the story and revise. Some days I would take time off from clubs to focus on getting a chapter or a scene just right. But it has always been worth it to me so far!
Sherri: Did you indie publish or go with a traditional publisher? What has surprised you about the experience?
Cady: I am with a relatively new small press called New Degree Press. And honestly, they have been just amazing. They have really taken the time to cultivate my abilities and teach me about the publishing process from start to finish. I had so much more say over my book and particularly the cover with them than I would have had under a traditional publisher, and I have really enjoyed that.
Sherri: Your cover is awesome. Did you design it or someone else? Is it what you envisioned?
Cady: I came up with the vision, and New Degree Press sent those ideas to their creative team. The designer for my cover is Milan Krstevski, and he is just amazing. He told me that mine was the most complicated cover that he had worked on, but he really just brought my ideas to life in a way that was so much better than anything I could have imagined.
Sherri: How long did it take you to write this book? Is this your first full-length novel? I know it is your first published novel, but have you written others that you haven’t published, if so, why not?
Cady: I wrote my first novel, or I guess novella when I was eleven years old. It was a middle grade adventure/fantasy novel, somewhere around 34,000 words. That will not see the light of day, but for a fifth grader, it was pretty solid work. I did multiple revisions on it and had actually thought about sending it off to literary agents before deciding not to. I wanted more writing experience first. The first draft of Chasing Fae took about a month, but before that I spent about eight months working on character building and worldbuilding. After the first draft, I spent six months on revisions. Once I got my publisher, I spent another two months approximately doing more revisions. It’s been a fulfilling journey from start to finish, really.
Sherri: Juggling writing and the rest of your life can be difficult. You are a full-time student. How do you manage school with the demands of writing especially now as a published author?
Cady: I find time whenever I can to write. Usually, that’s in the evenings after the day’s work is done. I also write in the afternoons and evenings on the weekends. Usually on Sundays. I get my homework done on Saturday so I can write all day Sunday. It’s a fairly good setup. I write less when there’s more assignments to do, and I write more when there is less homework.
Sherri: What or who inspired your characters for Chasing Fae?
Cady: I’m a huge fantasy nerd, but one of the things that I think that there is a lack of in the genre are really strong yet introverted female leaders. My high school really pushed the student body to try to stand up and be leaders, but they had a very specific vision of what a leader was, a very extroverted personality view. I think that really deterred me from seeing myself as having the potential to be a leader. Grace comes from this idea that introverts can have a lot of power and stubbornness and leadership skills that can really shine through in different situations. I hope that she will be inspiring to people. Outside of that, my characters do draw on the people in my life a little bit. I like to mash up personality traits from different people and make them into entirely new characters.
Sherri: Being a writer isn’t often easy, we are often alone or inside our heads. Do you have a good support group: family, friends, other writers whom you can share your ideas, frustrations or who will encourage you?
Cady: My family is a good support group for me, especially my younger sister, Morgan. She’s my first and biggest fan. She loves to help me out with character building and worldbuilding ideas. I have a fantastic group of friends, a couple from high school, a few from college, and of course, the majority from my honors fraternity. They have just been incredible, so supportive. I am so lucky to have them in my life. I also have a solid group of writing friends to connect with and bounce ideas off of. And I would not be where I am today without my boyfriend, Daniel. He is always helping me get inspired or reading over a section to see if things make sense. He actually read the second draft of my book because I knew that he would tell it to me like it is, and he wouldn’t sugarcoat the truth. I’m really lucky to have all of these wonderful people in my life.
Sherri: I know you just finished your first published novel but what are you working on now? What do you plan to do in the future? Will this book be a stand-alone or part of a series?
Cady: Right now, I have just started the sequel to Chasing Fae. The series is going to be a trilogy; I hope my readers will be ready for a wild ride. I also have a nonfiction book that I am working on about innovative ways to teach history across all ages, both in the classroom and outside of it. I have a few more ideas as well that are in the brainstorming stage.
Sherri: What are your plans and goals for you writing career? Where do you hope to be in five, ten, twenty years?
Cady: If you had asked me this question even two months ago, I would have given you an entirely different answer. I would have said that after the Chasing Fae trilogy, I was probably going to be finished writing because I didn’t think I had more stories in me. But as I have been working through the publishing process, I found a few more story ideas that I would love to see as stand-alone fantasy novels. So, I think you’re going to see a lot more from me in the future. I realized I can’t stop at just these three books; I have a lot more in me to share.
Sherri: What do you hope readers come away with when they read your books?
Cady: I hope that readers find Grace to be someone they would love to be friends with or to follow into battle. I hope they get swept away by the world that I have created. I hope it inspires those readers who would be writers to take that first step and start their own story. And most importantly, I hope it makes readers hungry for more.
Sherri: If you liked this interview with Cady Hammer, her social media links are below and don’t forget to check out her debut novel, Chasing Fae. You can find the buy links to her book below as well.
Thank you, Cady for joining me here on my virtual café. I wish you great success with your book and look forward to reading it. To all of you who stopped into the café, we hope you’ll come back again. See y’all later.
Check out Cady’s Facebook Launch Party August 5th, 10 am – 10 pm!
Current Book Summary: Grace Richardson is a young mortal woman whose only concerns are providing for her family, playing her violin, and spending as much time as possible with her brother Leo. When Leo goes into service in the Fae’s world as a mercenary, she expects him to return with the honor that he deserves.
When Leo suddenly dies in an unspecified accident, not a word, medal, or penny comes down from the higher ups. Suspecting foul play, Grace disguises herself as a Fae and sneaks into the Upper Realm to get some answers. She anticipated being in way over her head, but the Fae soldier who catches her fleeing an angry bar and discovers her identity only a day in? Not so much.
Now Grace is forced to drag Aiden along as she tries to work out exactly how and why her brother died. Along the way, she has no choice but to confront her prejudices against the Fae as she attempts to sort out the difference between the honest and the dishonest. Political conspiracies, demon realm escapades, and family secrets will all lead Grace to the answers she’s looking for… and some that she isn’t.
Bio : From the time she was a child writing her first novel at the age of eleven between classes, Cady explored her world through imagination. She was often teased for being in her own world, but never hesitated to invite others along on the adventure. As she grew older, Cady’s studies in history and anthropology set the stage for her detailed world-building that lets readers step into the story. Her stories explore the complexities of relationships crafted around the idea that love, friendship, and grief are all interwoven.
Cady runs the internationally-read website, Fluff About Fantasy, a place for young writers to learn the genre-specific craft of writing fantasy and be inspired by what they can accomplish.
Welcome C.S. Ratliff to my virtual café. It is so good to have you here. In eastern North Carolina summer has arrived with a combination of extreme heat and tropical rain but occasionally we will get the breeze from the ocean trickle down the river and it is lovely, until the mosquitos try to take us off to their lair to feed. But here in my virtual café the weather is perfect, the breeze is wafting, and the mosquitos have been banished to another universe.
C.S. Thank you so much for having me. I live in Ohio so the weather is sporadic right now.
Sherri: You and I met through the Shameless Self-Promo Twitter group. I have to say I am pleasantly surprised at the camaraderie I have experienced through this group. It has been a wonderful experience meeting everyone. I am so glad to have this chance to get to you better.
C.S. Absolutely. I originally created the Shameless Self Promo group as a pay-it-forward system. At first, it was simply retweeting other’s work. It’s grown over the months and evolved into a very nice support system of around 40 authors.
Sherri: You are an artist as well as an author? You’ve shared some of your artwork in our message group and I have to admit, I was impressed. Do you design your own book covers? They are fantastic.
C.S. Thank you. Yes, I am an artist. I studied fine arts for years, and as I’ve gotten into writing, I knew I wanted to design book covers. I have created over 50 book covers, and that does include my own covers.
Sherri: Tell us a little about your books, you write fantasy, is that correct? I know there are different subgenres within the fantasy genre, where do your books fit on the shelf? Do they crossover to other genres as well? I’ve started reading The Lighting Rod, you bring the reader into the world in the very first scene.
C.S. Yes, I write Fantasy. I’ve had trouble really pinpointing where my books fall within the genre, but I think Epic Fantasy fits best. There are definitely across different sub genres. A nice blend of High Fantasy and Coming of Age. I try to break the mold of texture in the genre but creating my own magic system and highly detailing the world, Gnariam. My action sequences are quite different from other authors as well.
Sherri: I listen to a lot of YouTube videos and even though I don’t write fantasy, I find the writing videos insightful, especially on world building. Do you plan your world and magic system before you write? Are you someone who plots a book before writing it or are you like me and write by the seat of your pants? I have to admit, I have started doing a bit of planning especially as my series has become larger.
C.S. I knew going into my first book, The Lightning Rod, that I wanted an extensive magic system. So I really created two systems, Elemental Magic, and Elemental Power, which is rare in Gnariam. I had a good idea of how I wanted the first book to go but I didn’t plan much. I planned out a lot more of book 2, The Thunder King. Now, I am writing book 3, The Tempest Fate and I’ve grown into a full on plotter. I spent a month of just planning the entire book.
Sherri: How long have you been a writer? A published author? How did you get started writing?
C.S. I’ve been writing for myself on and off for about a decade, little short stories here and there. I really ramped-up my focus to write professionally at the beginning of 2019. I published my first book in July, 2019.
Sherri: Who has inspired your writing? Do you have authors that you admire and emulate, or did your stories come from somewhere else entirely? I write suspense thrillers with a bit of romance. For me, I base my setting, my imaginary town on my real hometown. My characters are a combination of family and friends, but my plots come from a variety of places from local stories, news and questions of “what if.” How about you? Can you pinpoint where your ideas began? Did you start with a character, a plot or a setting?
C.S. Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle was my first big love for Fantasy. I’ve been a big fantasy fan and nerd since I was young. In 2012, I was deployed to Afghanistan in the Army and we were stationed in an area where the Kunduz Mountain surrounded us. Everyday, I would visualize the mountain with dragons, swords and sorcery. I’ve also always had a tremendous love and awe for Lightning. So I think the idea just grew out of a combination of all of that.
Sherri: What has been the most difficult for you since becoming a published author? Are you traditionally or indie published?
C.S. I think the most difficult part for me, in the beginning, was finding readers. The Fantasy genre is vast, and easy to get buried in the masses. I chose to self publish through KDP.
Sherri: With each book I’ve written and published I’ve learned something new. What have you learned with each book or since becoming published?
C.S. I’ve learned a lot about the actual writing part of being an author. My prose has gotten tighter and cleaner. My descriptions are not only better, but vary much more. Over all, I think everything I do has consistently gotten better.
Sherri: You have three books out now, is that correct? What are you working on? Will it be a part of the same world?
C.S. So far I have two books, and I am working on the third. They are all part of the Gnariam’s Fate Saga. I have six books planned for this series.
Sherri: What, besides entertainment, do you hope your stories bring to readers?
C.S. I hope that, being in the YA Fantasy genre, my stories may inspire young adults, or even younger. I hope that the idea of perseverance can inspire people to push on, take on challenges and fight for what’s right.
Sherri: Is there anything else you’d like to share? What would you tell a young writer with dreams of becoming a published author?
C.S. I always like to tell anyone that wishes to become an author to simply try. Write the book you want. If you hit barriers along the way, find a way through it, or around it. Never give up on your dreams. You are never too young or old to become an author.
Sherri: Thank you for stopping by my virtual café. I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit. If you enjoyed this interview then follow C.S. Ratliff on social media and check out his books, the links are listed below.
As I plan my goals and tasks for Q3, I stop to look over what I have and have not accomplished in Quarter 2. For those of you who aren’t sure what I’m talking about, I took an online program with author Sarra Cannon called HB90. In her HB90, she teaches us to break our goals down into manageable pieces to be completed over a three-month or 90-day period.
Last quarter was my first full quarter since taking the course and Covid-19 derailed a lot of my plans. I know that sounds like an excuse and it is. Like any self-employed business owner, you have to find a way to work even when the world is turned on its head.
That being said, I am still proud of what I accomplished. Some of which wasn’t on my original plan but due to the virus I altered it after I made it to try to salvage as much as I could. So, I’ll take you through the original breakdown and then tell you how I compromised.
Goal #1: Learn KDP Rocket and Increase Sales, Promote Older Books financial goal of $200, $300 or $500 (name has changed to Publisher Rocket)
I tried to watch the training videos, but I needed to be at my computer in order to follow along. Not something I could do while at work. Excuse: too tired after selling booze all day to people who were staying home and drinking. Compromise: KDP YouTube Videos as well as D2D YouTube Videos and several other writing-business videos. I also joined All Author where I am promoting three of my books and I took out an ad with Bargain Booksy for Chrome Pink selling over 100 eBooks in one day.
My approximate sales for the quarter were $430, mostly in paperback sales locally. My Ebook sales were the best they have been: D2D: $14, Amazon: $50.
While I met my second goal and wasn’t far off of my highest goal, the virus kept me from having a book signing and really promoting Red Steel, the book that came out in February. I’m going to count this goal as a win, but I will be watching those videos this quarter!
Another part of this goal was learning about SEO (search engine optimization) and META data. I think I’m getting a little better at this, but I still can’t say I understand it. This is all about the words you choose to describe your work in order to get the most attention. People cannot read my books if they don’t know they exist. So, promoting my books and my blog are an important part of the marketing I’m trying to learn.
Goal #2 Finish, Publish & Promote New Book to Increase Sales $200, $500 and $1000
Well, I finally finished writing, editing re-editing, editing again and last night I uploaded the printed book… Janie’s Secrets to KDP and ordered proof. I haven’t yet formatted and uploaded the eBook. I’m only about a month off of my goal but Covid! I really allowed myself to get derailed for about a month. At first, I was a little freaked out over the news, plus I was extremely tired both physically and mentally. People were coming in the store buying a lot of liqueur so afraid they’d close us down. It has just now started slowing down some but it’s still not back to normal.
The name was changed several times during the writing process until I settled on Janie’s Secrets. I’ve already worked out the title for the next book and I’m playing around with the third. I’m a little bit ahead here as I’ve already started planning the next two books. I’d like to be able to put out four books a year but right now, I’ll settle for three.
Since I just finished the book, I’ve not made any money from it or even planned any ads. I have started the cover reveal. I have a few things planned but I’ll add those to my Q3 goals. Have you seen the cover? I am so proud of the cover. I’m so thankful to my daughter-in-law Katelynn Hollister for taking such an awesome photo and to her friend, Raven Rayann who is such a lovely young woman and a perfect candidate for my Janie.
Goal #3: Start a Newsletter, Get a following and Increase Blog following by 100, 200, or 500
Ha, ha! Yeah! Okay, I did the newsletter and I’m proud that I started with 14 and now have 48 in only three months. I call that a win. According to my website I have over three thousand followers but only 252 on WordPress.com, 14 have signed up to receive email notifications and nearly three thousand follow me on social media. Interesting and much more than I expected. I think they must include my followers on Facebook and Twitter.
Part of my goal was to have book signings and other appearances. Just before Covid restrictions I’d taken books around to different places hoping to get my name out and then everything shut down.
My author interviews for my website have increased this month with a free promo group I joined on Twitter, Shameless Self-Promo. I even had my own interview with Rebellion Lit. I submitted Red Steel to Kindle Review Reader’s Choice Award. If you get the chance, I’d appreciate your vote, I’ll post the link.
While I may not have accomplished all of my goals this past quarter, I feel that I have succeeded in accomplishing the bulk of them.
I’m working on this quarter’s goals and hope you will continue to be my inspiration and cheerleaders. My goals so far are to finish publishing Janie and start on her sister, Roxy’s story. I am determined to understand more about META data and SEO, and the business of writing and marketing. I’m hoping to build up my newsletter and social media following, and of course, sell more books!
Thank you all for you support. It means so much to me to have you on my team.
Welcome to my virtual café Michael Gatti. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to drop by my virtual cafe. I’m so glad to have you here even if it’s not in person.
Michael: Hey Sherri great to be here thank you for having me!
Sherri: You are much more than a writer. I thought I was busy, but you have me beat. You have your own publishing company and your own YouTube channel. What other business projects do you have going on?
Michael: Well it all kind of falls under the same branch. But aside from helping folks self-publish and social media I’m writing my books and making a video game through the software called RPG maker MV.
Sherri: Let’s break it down tell me about your publishing company, you help people get through the Schlog of self-publishing. So, what do you offer? Why would I want to come to you versus doing it all myself? And believe me, I’ve done it all myself. UGH!Michael: I’ve been doing this for years now and my assistance comes from learning from my mistakes. Self publishing isn’t easy and it’s expensive. What I provide is a very low price for editing your manuscript, I am connected to a network of artists that are willing to discount their services for book covers for you, and I will help promote the best I can and advise. I will also help with formatting because that is actually a part of publishing people don’t realize is a very important thing.
Sherri: I’ve started following you on YouTube. Tell our audience about your YouTube Channel and your Patreon page. What do you offer writers? Who would be your perfect client?
Michael: On YouTube I offer brief 3-7 minute videos usually covering a variety of self publishing topics (sometimes I just promote things hahaha) And on Patreon for $1 I offer a monthly newsletter with great tips and tricks and for $5 I offer unlimited editing with no additional charges. So my customer base for that would be someone who either writes a lot of books a year they would save a lot on editing because it’s just $5 a month and people who have written but never published and don’t know how to get started.
Sherri: You do professional editing. How did you get started editing? What certifications and credentials do you have? Do you do line editing or are you a content editor, or do you help with developing the plot?
Michael: I started offering editing services last fall and experience is the main credential I have. I have been writing books forever at this point. I also went to school to be an elementary school teacher so that has also given me the knowledge of our language required for such an endeavor. My editing services are purely grammatical. I will offer my opinion on story and plot but that’s not my area.
Sherri: You lead or are a member of several groups online, would you tell us about them and what they do?
Michael: Yeah, you know when I started giving Twitter a try and my follower base built I found myself involved in the #writingcommunity what that # is for, it’s a group of us promoting and lifting each other up. There’s also the shameless promo chat I am in and that I met you from, which is similar to the # but we have gotten to know each other and have become friends and the chat we guarantee promotion of each other.
Sherri: But even with all of this, you are an author too, tell us about your book Earth’s Best Friends.
Michael: Earth’s Best Friends is a culmination of a lot of different ideas I’ve had in my entire life going back to childhood. I am heavily inspired by the MCU, a connected universe, so within my book you follow multiple heroes and villains and as you read you see this greater event unfold. I have Part One available now and Part Two should be available by Christmas. And I’m not stopping at two.
Sherri: Have you always enjoyed writing?
Michael: Oh yes. It may sound corny, but I was born for writing.
Sherri: How did you get started writing?
Michael: As long as I can remember I was always making up special stories for my friends, toys, sister, I have been a writer even before I knew how to write on paper.
Sherri: Who has most influenced your writing? Your business?
Michael: Writing I am inspired by a variety of Saturday morning cartoons, Disney movies, and of course Marvel. If I were to pick writers I love I’d say Stan Lee, Lewis Carrol, Friz Freleng, Bob McKimson, Kurt Vonnegut, and Chuck Palahniuk.
Sherri: What do you hope a client or fellow writer learns from their experience with you?
Michael: The bottom line is I hope I improve their chances for success and hope they know not to make the mistakes I’ve made in the past.
Sherri: Thank you for stopping by my Creekside Café, if you are ever on the Carolina Coast, stop by, I’ll show you the spot where I dream of having my café.
Michael: Sounds good, thank you again for having me!
Sherri: If you enjoyed this interview follow you can follow Michael on social media his links are below or check out his book, Earth’s Best Friends.
Welcome to Creekside Café author, J A Martin. It’s so good to have you here.
JA: Thank you, Sherri, it’s wonderful to be here. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you.
Sherri: Your published work is mostly erotica, but you write other stuff as well. Tell us about your work.
JA: I focus mainly in different areas of erotica, billing myself mostly as Sexual Fantasy Erotica, but I have stories currently working that are softer than what my readers would normally expect from me.
Sherri: J A and I met through the Shameless Self-Promo group on Twitter. This has been a wonderfully supportive group. Most of y’all have been together for a while, I’m a bit of an interloper, you all do a blog together, is that right?
JA: Yes, I joined a blog started by CS Ratliff and Natalie Bartley called Legends of the Veil. It used to be called Curse of the Fallen. It is a collection of stories told by different legends, mythological figures from first person perspective, part of which is our stories based on interaction with each other, and part of it is our beginnings, what history got wrong. It is in its third month and I am very excited about where the story is headed. I voice Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.
Sherri: In your bio on Amazon you said you enjoyed exploring the sensual erotic stories more so than writing crime fiction. Is crime fiction another passion?
JA: It was for a time when I was still trying to get published traditionally. I grew dissatisfied with that genre, and with the traditional publishing process, and so I pivoted and turned to erotica. I may at some point meld the two together and turn them into erotic thrillers. We’ll see.
Sherri: Your stories empower women to make their own path in sex as well as in life. Is this your way of empowering women?
JA: Yes, I believe in total sexual freedom for all, as long as they are consenting adults. I have known since I was 14 that I am bisexual, and it took me ten years to finally tell people. My family and friends have been very supportive, I was lucky in that respect.
All of the characters in my stories, both women and men, choose the sexual adventures they wish to have, and there are no victims. There is no dubious consent. Even in my tale, “Taking Dicktation” which has blackmail, she chooses to go through with her task and asks him “What do you not want done to your body?” I make it clear that she has chosen to give him the opportunity to negotiate his parameters, and make clear to him and to the reader, that she still has control.
Sherri: Have you always been a writer? When did you start writing? When did you first publish?
JA: I have been writing since I was ten years old. My fourth grade teacher would write a sentence on the chalkboard every Friday and we would write for five minutes, and then pass the paper to the front or back or right or left, and then keep writing on the paper and then hand it off again after five minutes, she called it Train of Thought. I wrote in High School, and in College, at Columbia College of Chicago, I studied the Story Workshop Writing method for two years. I wrote and published my first erotica story, “As You Wish” on June 7th, 2019.
Sherri: What has been the most difficult lesson on your writing/publishing journey?
JA: A big part of self-published writing is doing everything yourself, so I don’t know everything, even now a year later. I think the hard part is finding the balance between time writing, time connecting with other writers and time marketing. I am still working on this delicate balance, as there’s a steep learning curve.
Sherri: Are you indie-published or with a traditional publisher?
JA: Indie, and I am really happy about that, especially now, because I take a lot of chances with my work. I write stories I feel need to be told even if they won’t be mainstream popular. A good example of that is my new one Spread Your Thighs for Kevin, which is a Bisexual, Hotwife, Wife Swap, Pegging adventure, which is sexually fluid for men and for women.
Sherri: What have you learned recently that you wish you’d known sooner?
JA: Spacing of books. I started out writing two a week for a few months which was good in the way that getting my work out there faster, and getting more stories for my readers to read, but it went so fast that some of my books were overlooked in favor of others. I have since slowed down and publish once every three weeks or four weeks. Also, my stories are a little longer now.
Sherri: Are you a member of any writing groups? Do you believe in writers’ groups?
JA: I belong to two writers’ groups, Sherri. The one I am in with you, Shameless Promo, and the other one is for erotica authors and is called, Cum Burglars. Yep. That’s the name. Yes, I do believe in writers’ groups, they offer much-needed support both for staying motivated to write and backing each other up, and it’s a lot more than retweeting each other’s work. I have a lot of amazing friends in both groups and for that I am truly blessed.
Sherri: What are you working on now?
JA: I am working on a few things right now. One is an erotic pirate romance called Surrender the Booty. Another is an erotic romance about two people who want each other but find it difficult to tell each other, called Just You and I. Third is a BDSM romance called Giving Her a Hard Time which I am co-authoring with a male writer in the lifestyle.
Sherri: You have a new book coming out, tell us about it.
JA: My next one to be released is another fun one, a bisexual hotwife throuple story called Tales of a Wicked Boy Slut. Jordan is a male dancer who is unsure of his sexuality whether or not he is straight. When a married couple moves into his neighborhood and then shows up in his club, he doesn’t know if he is more attracted to the wife or her husband, and he lets them seduce him, playing hard to get all the way, as much as they allow. This will be a trilogy, released roughly three weeks apart.
Sherri: If you liked this interview be sure and follow J A Martin on social media and check out her books, the links are below. Y’all come back soon.
https://curseofthefallen.wordpress.com/author/jamartin1973/ -Curse of the Fallen now called Legends of the Veil, this is our mythological figure blog. Natalie Bartley, who is also a member of our Shameless Promo group, voices Medea in this blog, while I voice Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Corey Ratliff (CS) voiced Lycaon, and now voices Merlin. He started this blog for all of us a few months ago. He and Natalie are Adminstrators of it.
sherrilhollister.com/Suspense She Writes Bookstore Dismiss