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Everyone welcome author Susan Lynn  Solomon!

1. What’s the title of your latest release? Link?

Actually, I have two new releases. The first, the short story, “Yesterday’s Wings”, appeared in early October in the online journal, Imitation Fruit. This is the third part of a trilogy that began with my story, “Sabbath”, which earned a nomination for Best of the Net in 2013. More exciting though, was the October 29 Solstice Publishing release of my first novel, “The Magic of Murder”—a mystery with a definite sense of humor (in fact, there were times while writing it I actually laughed out loud). The book is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paper copy editions. If you click on the link, http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Murder-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B015OQO5LO, you’ll find some wonderful 5-star reviews. And cat-people have come to know and like the hefty (Elvira hates being called fat) albino cat that runs through the book.

By the way, Kate, the link to “Witches Gumbo”—the short story my narrator is writing as “The Magic of Murder” begins, can be found at my website (www.susanlynnsolomon.com).

2. Why do you like writing in this genre?

Though “The Magic of Murder” has many paranormal elements, it is at heart a murder mystery—a genre I’ve been fascinated by since my mother handed her 11-year-old child Agatha Christie’s “Peril at End House”. I think my enjoyment of the genre flows from the fact that I’m a puzzle fanatic—crosswords, word jumbles, Sodoku, it doesn’t matter. After all, isn’t a good mystery actually a puzzle to be solved?

Beyond this, “The Magic of Murder” is about people and their relationships. This is true of almost all my stories. How people relate to each other in the most difficult situations is something I’ve been exploring since I first began to write. The complexity of relationships is a puzzle I hope to someday solve.

3. What do you like to read?

I’ll read almost anything as long as it’s well-written. Mystery, romance, paranormal (of course), historical fiction. Once in a while I’ll even settle in with a piece of non-fiction. Most recently I’ve read “Safe Harbor”, by Nicholas Sparks, P.D. James’s “A Certain Justice” (I just can’t avoid a good mystery), “The Tiger’s Wife”, by Tea Obrecht, and “The Flanders Panel”, by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Then, of course, there is the reading I do for research. In this regard, for my new novel—a sequel to “The Magic of Murder”, I’m reading Katz & Goodwin’s “Around the Tarot in 78 Days”.

4. Favorite movie?

I don’t know how to choose a movie favorite. It so depends on my mood at any given moment. I own a large number DVDs that I watch over and over. For example, I adore “Shakespeare in Love”. Historical, romantic, built on the fictitious relationship that metaphorically exists between The Bard and one of his characters—I’ve made notes for creating such a metaphoric love story.

Another favorite is “Sleepless in Seattle”—another love story built on relationships. And then there’s “Message in a Bottle”. I relish both the movie and the book. Oh, and I can’t forget the mysteries. Each New Year’s Eve I climb into my nightie, and binge on The Thin Man movies. This goes back to when as a teenager I baby sat for a neighbor and spent all night watching these films. And Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express”—now there’s a puzzle to solve.

5. What are your writing habits? Music or silence? Daily regimen or spurts of creativity?

The computer I write on is set up in a corner of my bedroom. This allows me to tumble out of bed each morning and start to write…uh, well, not actually—there’s still that darn need to earn a living. But I do write for at least a few hours every day. You see, writing is more than just a pleasure for me. It’s a need. Those days I fail to write, I’m left with a terrible, empty feeling. And guilt (can’t avoid the guilt—my mother was the East Coast distributer of it). To show you what I mean, a few years back I had a bad case of the flu. After lying in bed for two days I felt so guilty about not writing, I slid from bed to my computer, turned it on, andbwrote for what felt like hours. When I recovered and looked at what I’d written…well, you know the term “speaking in tongues”?

Even when I don’t have the flu, some days what I write is mere scribbling. This is my mental meandering while I search for characters that might bring a tale to life. Pages written and discarded, story lines filed away for another day. After a while, though, something magical happens—I don’t know another way to explain it. All at once characters speak to me, tell me what they will or won’t do, say, feel. Then, in a burst a story I need to tell flows from my fingers. When this occurs, I’ll still be at my computer, writing, through an entire night.

Now to answer the first question: when I write I need complete silence. The least sound seems to still the voices telling me their stories. Well, that’s the way writing happens for me: I don’t write the stories, my characters do. Or maybe it’s the ghost living in my house that does the writing… What? I never made any claim to sanity.

6. What was the most surreal moment you’ve had as an author?

This is an interesting question. I suppose I’d have to say it happened in connection with my first published short story. I’d been writing for a number of years, submitting short stories to journals, and building up my collection of rejection notes. The man I work for owns a bed and breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake. One day he asked me to write a short Valentine’s Day story he could print and leave in his guest bedrooms. I’d heard the B &B was inhabited by a ghost, but research didn’t tell me who the ghost was, or its origin. So I did what I always do when I’m stumped: I made one up. When I showed the story to my sister, she insisted it should be expanded into a novel (when Robin gets an idea like this in her head she won’t let up, so it was easier to do as she insisted than to argue with her). In a few months, “Abigail’s Window” was written and edited. Then, just before Halloween, my boss asked me whether the story of the ghost was true, because he wanted the local ghost tour group to stop by his B & B. To deal with this, I broke the novel down into a new short romantic story, and emailed it to the ghost tour people with a note swearing it was true, and that I’d actually met the ghost (yes, I know, the devil has me by the collar and I’m headed south). A few days later I noticed a “Writers Journal” competition for short romances. Well, I had this new short story… The upshot was that the story won an honorable mention. However, the magazine forgot to tell me about it until several years later when I received a note from the editor saying it would be printed in the next issue. Now, if that isn’t surreal, what is?

7. How can readers find you?

Finding me is easy. There’s this bar on Niagara Falls Boulevard…just kidding. I don’t do that any longer. Actually I can be found at my website: http://www.susanlynnsolomon.com Or at the Solstice Publishing website: http://solsticepublishing.com/the-magic-of-murder Or at “The Magic of Murder” Page at Amazon (you might want to take a look at the book and some of the reviews while you’re there): http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Murder-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B015OQO5LO

8. What do you know now about being published that you wish you’d known before submitting?

Hmm. Before I submitted “The Magic of Murder”, I wish someone had told me that this wonderful pleasure writing is, suddenly become work when a book is released. Wow! Setting up a website, a Facebook Author Page, pages on Amazon and Goodreads and a half dozen other sites. And talking constantly about my book and how it was written and why (in promoting the book, I’m beginning to feel like the whore my mother was convinced her 17- year-old child would become). And yet, in my quiet moments I have to admit that all this work is as much a pleasure as writing…if only it didn’t get in the way of writing something new. The first draft of “The Magic of Murder” was written in only two months. I’ve been trying to work on the sequel for the past four months and it’s still only half-written!

9. Favorite snack/drink while writing?

The thought of this brings a smile to my lips. Popcorn. Of course, it can’t be just plain popcorn. It has to be a butter popcorn which I load up with butter spray, then sprinkle powdered cheese on every kernel, then more butter spray to hold the cheese on… Yes, I’ve developed an absolute genius for taking a simple healthful food, and driving it directly to my heart.

10. Look at your writing area…what’s the item you keep to inspire you (piece of artwork, figurine)?

On the wall near my computer is a Christmas present I gave myself. I had the cover and first page of my first published story framed. When I feel lost for where to go with a new story, when I feel totally overwhelmed, I turn from the screen, look at the framed story, and remember how hard I’ve worked to arrive where I am today: writing, rewriting, modifying a story after an editor has commented, each step along the way learning and growing. That framed story also reminds me how much I have yet to learn so I might continue to grow as a writer. And that framed story reminds me how worthwhile this journey has been.

Thanks for stopping by, Susan! Best of luck with the writing!

BB

Happy Monday!

Sorry for no post last week. Vacation happened! I had several down day, relaxing times, and now I’m back at work.

I’m hard at work on a new story, something totally different than anything I’ve written to this point. And that’s when it hit me yesterday. The same thing that hits almost every author at some point. Self-doubt.

Why am I even bothering? No one’s buying my other books, what makes me think this one will be any different? Shouldn’t I go get a ‘real’ job to help pay for my oldest to attend college this fall? Why am I so special that I can even think I might maybe one day be good enough to make a noticeable contribution to our household finances by writing books?

The short answer to this: yes. I AM good enough.

It’s not a matter of the day to day sales. What matters is that I wrote something new. That I’m expanding my reader base. That I’m finding new ways to tell stories. That I found a way to work past that voice in my head that sounds like so many people. Because that voice has nothing to do with me. And everything to do with the insecurities of those who want me to fail.

Instead of listening to those who nitpick your book, insist you do something like change a character’s name, the font of your cover, or insinuate that it won’t sell because the formatting’s not something they like, surround yourself with the positive people. The ones who support you, lift you up. Ask for more to read.

Books aren’t written overnight. Or in a vacuum. We all have outside influences trying to sway us. Some are doing it in a good way. Others, not so much. The trick is to figure out who is saying what, and why.

There’s only one way to write a book. And that’s one word at a time. The trick is finding the words even when the jealousy and insecurities of those around you are drowning out those words.

BB

Good morning! Wait…scratch that. Good afternoon!

T minus 36 days until BEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Watch out, Chicago! I’m heading your way!!!! Gotta get some books sent tomorrow. Things are really getting ‘real’ now. Plane tickets, hotel, rental car. Done. Once the books get shipped, even better. Because I know, the next time I see them, I’ll be at BEA. In Chicago. Promoting Solstice, selling books, and making connections.

The other thing that has me excited is that I started writing a new book. Yes, I know I started one right after ‘Wielder of Tiren’ went into editing. This one locked into my brain and would not shut up. LOL. It’s a bit different than my normal writing. More modern/urban/paranormal fantasy than sword and sorcery. It’s flowing really well, though. My fingers regained the itch to write. My mind’s constantly going over everything from small details to conversations to what will happen next. I don’t want to share details here. No spoilers! LOL. But I really hope everyone who reads my books will enjoy this one. I’m having a ball writing it. My beta readers are telling me they can’t wait to read the next section.

To give you an idea of how well it’s flowing: I got started on it last week. On Sunday morning, less than 5 days later, I hit the 10k word mark. No clue how long this one will end up. It’ll be done when it’s done. The beginning is done. Starting to move to the middle now. Then comes the end.

But it’s hard to really say it’s an end when the future’s so full of possible beginnings right now.

I did say it was 36 days to BEA, right?

BB

Everyone welcome Solstice author, Malay A. Upadhyay!

1. What’s the title of your latest release? Link?

There have been several short stories that have released this Winter. Selfie Simulation, a SciFi story based in Switzerland’s St. Gallen’s & France’s Nice, released as part of Project 9 anthology. Meanwhile, the standout novellas were A Christmas in Barcelona and An Enlightened Fly. All these stories are linked to the world of Kalki Evian, and are based around one of the major characters, providing in-depth look at his/her background and character.

2. Why do you like writing in this genre?

Fiction, in general, is where one gets to create. I find it to be the most potent form of sharing knowledge – through imagination and entertainment, as in mythology, which has been the crux of all that mankind has learnt till date. Contrary to belief, fiction is more reflective of human nature than other genres, for it caters not just to the tangible but also to the more abstract, unexplained elements of our character that we can only sense.

3. What do you like to read?

I read a lot of factual stuff to fuel my managerial interests, particularly with regards to cultural behaviors and Marketing concepts. It helps me build ideas and knowledge which I can use in stories or at work. In fiction, I like adventure, mystery and stories of individual heroics. So Prof. Tolkien’s Middle Earth is right up top, then there’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Sherlock & Fountainhead.

4. Favorite movie?

Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Bourne trilogy. Shawshank Redemption. Man from Earth. And a host of others.

5. What are your writing habits? Music or silence? Daily regimen or spurts of creativity?

Silence & spurts of creativity. There is a technological, managerial or social concept around which the story is to revolve. For the flow of story itself, I try to pen ideas down as they come, wherever I am, whatever I am doing. The challenge is to organize all such notes as they begin to pile up over time. Eventually, with the thoughts set in front of you, you realize that the characters have already been defined, the flow of the story more or less set, and the gaps clear enough for you to work on. And then comes the improvisation.

6. What was the most surreal moment you’ve had as a author?

It was while I was writing my second novel – The Fly That Followed Me. It is the prequel to Kalki Evian: The Ring of Khaoriphea, and I hope to see it next year. In one of the chapters, a certain Fish approach is suggested to determine the fit between any two parties. I started it as a way to decide one’s career progress but as the concept developed, I realized it could very well be used between any two entities, even among couples! Of course, that’d turn marriages rather institutional.

7. How can readers find you?

They can find me on Twitter at @KalkiEvian. On Linkedin, I’m at www.linkedin.com/in/upadhyaymalay. They can also follow my blog at http://www.kalkievian.com.

8. What do you know now about being published that you wish you’d known before submitting?

While I have come across many promotional windows, it’s a never ending job. And a clarity of strategy as well as avenues would be excellent for any author before his/her book is published.

9. Favorite snack/drink while writing?

Tea.

10. Look at your writing area…what’s the item you keep to inspire you (piece of artwork, figurine)?

I do not have a fixed writing area as it is important for me to change settings to stay refreshed. But I tend to have music handy for when I take breaks.

Morning, everyone! It’s spring! Which, around here, means it’s raining. Still. Just a little warmer than it was last week.

People often imagine the life of a published author as one filled with red carpet invites, cavernous offices where we sit in a comfy chair. A maid or butler bringing us lunch on a silver tray so we remember to eat. And so much money in the bank that we don’t blink if our children want to go to Europe for a summer. Or Yale for six years.

Um, nope. This is work. Hard work. Our house is modest. My husband’s job pays the bills. Mine helps with groceries and, currently, the rest is being funneled each month to help make it so our daughter doesn’t start college knowing she’ll graduate with a mountain of debt. That’s the COO salary, anyway. The royalties? I get to go to my favorite coffee place once a month on sales.

Writing is hard work. It’s not glory. It’s trying not to sound pitiful when you beg for reviews. It’s not screaming in frustration when you look at your sales and wonder what you’re doing wrong. It’s making decisions between a free promo that may or may not work or paying hundreds of dollars that still has no guarantee of increasing sales.

It’s knowing you write good books, ones worth reading, and wondering why no one else seems to think so. Why they can’t spend a couple of dollars on something you spent years working on. It’s balancing family time, writing time, working, and sleeping. It’s chanting a mantra about how ‘this too shall pass’ when you get asked by someone you went to grade school with for a free copy “because you know me!”.

It’s hearing from writers who want to be published say they love your blog, but never bought your book. Or, bought the book and couldn’t find 5 minutes to leave a review on Amazon.

The hard work isn’t the writing. It’s staying positive, hopeful, and taking the deep breath before venting online. It’s reminding yourself, sometimes every minute of every day, that the next day could be the one where a review will be posted. Or sales will start to pick up.

It’s savoring that one extra cup of coffee for the month, the one that your royalties paid for, and dreaming that your sales go up where you can visit once a week. Or once a day.

It’s the never ending dream that, one day, the hard work of now will pay off.

BB

Well, it’s out. “Wielder of Tiren” is up for sale. Both the paperback and the ebook. Don’t worry, I’ll provide links at the end of this post.

Arwenna’s story is now over. I’m waiting for reviews (always) and hoping I didn’t disappoint my readers with how her story ends. She’s been with me in various forms for a decade now. It wasn’t easy for me to let her go, but it was necessary.

Because of her, I’m now a published author.  Because of her, I’m now the COO of a growing indie house. Because of her, I found the strength in me that I didn’t know existed.

Because of her, I’ve come out of my shell.

I learned a lot writing her story. About myself, my friends. Of what I can accomplish, how to inspire others to reach beyond the lessons we were taught far too young. The ones that say we’re not going to be good enough to reach our goals. That, yes, there will be obstacles put in front of us. But it’s how we work to get past those obstacles, the people we are when things suck, that’s what matters.

And that we tried in the first place.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s a lot of me in Arwenna. Too much in some ways. As she grew, healed, and found her strength so did I.

Thank you to each and every one of you that’s gone on the journey with her. Because of her, my muse is now dancing outside and free. No longer locked away and the voice silenced.

May you find the key to unlocking your muse as well.

BB

ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Wielder-Tiren-Raven-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B01CIS1DKM

print: http://www.amazon.com/Wielder-Tiren-Raven-Chronicles-3/dp/1625263422

Good morning!

It’s been a crazy one here. It’s been super busy around the publishing house, which is a good thing!

One of the things I’ve been trying to get a lot of new authors to understand is that a traditional publisher isn’t your personal publicist.

A publisher has to be concerned with the entire House, not just one book. They have to treat each author fairly and equally. They can’t be promoting one all day long and ignore the other 300 authors or 900 titles.

Authors are the ideal person to promote their own books. Why? Because we know them, inside and out. Backwards and forwards. We know better who our target audience is, who is more likely to take a chance on a new author. Your publisher? Probably not so much. When you read dozens of books a week in the slush pile, and even more as they move through editing and proofreading, they tend to become a big blur. It’s easy to confuse which book had a main character of Chris that was a woman vs. one where it was a man.

Especially with an indie house, you shouldn’t expect your book to be given a 5 star promotion treatment. No ads in the NYT, no contest entries. Why? Because they’re building their reputation as a whole. You’re going to have to do the research, be your own publicist. It’s not easy, no. I’m not saying it will be. But you can’t rely on your publisher to do all the work while you wait for sales to start. It’s rather arrogant, if you ask me. You’re expecting them to ignore hundreds of other titles, ones that may well be selling much better than yours, simply to promote your title.

That is your job. If you don’t want to do it, hire yourself a publicist. But don’t expect your publisher to do it for you.

BB

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