Thursday, April 13, 2017

Books: Interview with Fantasy Writer Mackenzie Flohr



Today we welcome to the blog writer Mackenzie Flohr, and we're delighted to find out more about this talented writer.

Please tell us where are you from and what's your background?

I grew up in Strongsville, Ohio chasing leprechauns and rainbows and dreaming of angels. My parents nurtured a love of fantasy and make-believe by introducing me at a very young age to the artistic and cultural opportunities that the city of Cleveland had to offer. I studied theater at the Beck Center for the Cultural Arts in Lakewood, where a world of wonder was only a script and a performance away. I received my Bachelor of Arts from Ashland University in Ashland, OH, and my associates in Computer Animation from Baker College of Flint. Besides being an author, I'm a full-time inbound phone bank representative.

Sounds like a very creative upbringing that would eventually lead you to the arts, right? So when did you realize you wanted to write and when did you start writing?

I have always dreamed of writing a book and being an author, but seeing it actually get published? That part I wasn’t sure would ever happen. It’s one thing to start a book, but it’s another thing to actually finish it!

My parents nurtured a love for the creative arts from a very young age. From the time I could hold a pencil, I was already creating pictorial interpretations of classic stories, and by the age of nine, a childhood friend and I were authors and reviewers of our own picture books.

After I finished college, I decided I wanted to write a fantasy of my own, one that could inspire imagination in others and lead them into a magical world of their own making.

Isn't it great to go after your dream? What genre do you write and what's your target audience?

I write fantasy, which can be read from teens to adults. My novel will appeal to fans of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and even Doctor Who (specifically fans of the Eleventh Doctor).

Everyone loves a good fantasy. How many books have you published? Do you have a favorite?



This is actually my first novel, so I do not think I can answer the question without it sounding biased, however, this novel is very special to me in many ways. I can say though that there will be other books to this series so maybe ask me this question again a bit further down the road ;-)

Glad to hear it's a series! And I love the cover. What is your favorite quote, and who wrote it?

"If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything!" - from Back To The Future movie trilogy.

True quote, isn't it? Do you have a favorite author? Who? What's your favorite book? Has this author or book influenced your writing in any way?

This is a tough question. My favorite author would have to be J.R.R. Tolkien, however, my favorite book is by Michael Ende. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling have both influenced my writing through my world-building and magical spell building.

Excellent influence from these superb writers. If you could be a character from any book, who would you like to be and why?

I would be myself in The Neverending Story. I love the world of Fantastica. When I was a child, my Mom gave me a necklace that belonged to her Mom, and I used to wear it and pretend I had Auryn. Only problem is, if I was myself in The Neverending Story, that would mean I would have Auryn and I’m not confident I would be as lucky as Bastian was to return to earth. (Those who have read the book will understand why)!

I'd have to read it again to remember, it's a fantastic story. What are you working on now?

I am working on the beginnings of a short story to hopefully be included in upcoming an anthology. I am also beginning to work on another series, which is going to be a futuristic science-fiction horror. The series revolves around a teenage man who is living in an advanced medical facility in Area 51 and is suffering from amnesia. And I’m brain storming for the second book in The Rite of Wands series!

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

You can follow me at:

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Yes. I will be making my debut at the B2BCYCON in April, which I’m very excited about. Also on April 14th, I will be a guest on the ArtistFirst Radio Network, which broadcasts to over 80,000 people. And if you’re anywhere near the state of Michigan, I will be signing copies of The Rite of Wands at the Ann Arbor Book Festival Street Fair in June!

How exciting! Good luck and keep writing. Thanks so much for sharing a little of your work with us!

To purchase Mackenzie's book click here:

 


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Book Release: new romance: Timing is Everything by Sybil Shae

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words....
Could it be worth a thousand life times?
Introducing a new Spicy Romance novella, 
Timing Is Everything: Origin Of The Journal 
by Sybil Shae!
Available right now for 99 cents worldwide!
Here's just a few things the Beta Readers had to say!
“OMG, I loved this book! As soon as I finished it I started reading it again. I even dreamt about it!”

“Loved it! Such a clever story. Can’t wait to read the next book in this new series!”

“Well written! Impressed with the way the story explores time travel and relationships”

“Sybil Shae is a genius! This story is well thought out and loaded. BRAVO!”

A young woman is given a gift from her grandmother that turns out to be much more than what it appears to be.

Is your past, really your past at all?

Fall in love all over again with "Timing Is Everything-Origin Of The Journal"
Chapter One
     A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words; except, of course when it isn’t. Tom Collins, the top photographer for National Geographic last year made better than a million dollars. That averages out to about two thousand dollars per usable picture he took. Pierre Marcoullier over at Vogue brought in something comparable. These guys are artists and adventurers at the top of their field, but they’d be the first to tell you that the value in a picture has to do with a lot more than lighting and shadow and perspective. A photo of your dead grandfather at his eightieth birthday might not even make the local newspaper, but if it’s one of only a few photos that exist of the man because he was shy, then for your family it’s literally priceless. Likewise, some of the classic photos that we have of historical figures or events are of really poor quality, but because they record something that’s part of our collective history, Lincoln at Gettysburg, say, or the “Tank Man” at Tiananmen Square, they’re worth more than money can buy. Most photos, though, literally 99.9% of those ever taken are not worth anything on their own, either based on artistic merit or historical significance. But in the hands of the right marketer and designer, they’re solid gold.

That’s what I do—I deploy photographs for advertising purposes at a major Manhattan marketing firm. Most of the photos I wind up using are not taken by professionals, or at least no one more professional than might have taken your senior picture; they’re uploaded to PBase or Flickr or any of a couple hundred other image databases, and if they’re copyrighted then we pay twenty-five or fifty or a hundred bucks a pic. But then, with a little careful editing and some clever design work, that picture helps to make my clients millions. Of course, we do use some professional photographers, and if I can’t find just the right image after hours of looking I might commission a shoot or take a few shots myself, but most of what I do is look at what other people have done and imagine how it can be used for some purpose they could never have dreamed of when they did it.

That is, I suppose, why at Christmastime last year my grandma gave me the scrapbook. Now I know what you’re thinking and I was too, I’m about as far away from a scrapbooking grandmother as they come, but Grandma had something of the artist’s eye and the marketer’s spirit in her too—she’d designed the endcaps and window displays at Gimbel’s for years—and she understood, at least in principle, what it was I was trying to do. So, after the regular family gift exchange, and the obligatory large meal, while most everyone else was catching an afternoon nap, she called me into her bedroom.

“Kelly,” she said, patting the bed beside her and speaking in a conspiratorial whisper. “I’ve got something else for you, but I didn’t want to do it in front of the rest of the family.”

I nodded my head and closed the door, then darted over to the bed with perhaps just a little too much glee.

“What is it, Gran?” She’d done things like this before, but it was mostly concerning my quirky sense of fashion or what my painfully conventional mother had always called an “artistic temperament”.

She held out a bundle wrapped in old butcher paper and tied up with twine. I looked at her skittishly and rolled my eyes but she just smirked and waved for me to open it up. Inside was, as I said, a scrapbook; well, I suppose it was something like a pre-scrapbook. It was a simple leather-bound journal, obviously with some age on it, and I could see from the way the pages bulged that there were photos pasted or clipped or taped inside. I looked at her again asking a question with my eyes, and she answered in kind, indicating I should open it up.

Inside the front page sat a single photo, centered more or less perfectly, and clearly pasted to the paper. It showed a simple little cottage which had clearly been built in two sections; the roof over one side appeared to be thatch, the other was corrugated iron. Standing out front were three young women: the eldest appeared to be about sixteen, while the others were probably fourteen and twelve. The younger girls were in plain dresses, probably homemade; one had a kerchief on her head, and the other had taken it off and tied it around her neck. Between the two, her arms around their shoulders was the eldest girl, looking very mature in a skirt-suit and hat, her hair stylishly done beneath and a prim little purse in one hand hanging off of the younger girl’s shoulder. Beneath was a caption which in neat, handwritten cursive simply read, “Leaving Home, 1945” and beneath it, “Clifden, Co. Galway, Ireland”.

“That was the day I left home,” she said. “I actually added that one later, after your Aunt Mickaela sent the photo by post. International mail used to take ages back in those days.”

I nodded my head absently as I turned the page. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.

There’s a famous picture of a sailor kissing a nurse out in front of Radio City Music Hall on V-J Day. It’s iconic and is shown in most World War II documentaries and such. Like a lot of the photos I mentioned before, it’s artistic value is questionable: the couple are slightly off-center, his hand is obscuring almost all of her face, it’s not clear if she’s really into it (she wasn’t as it turned out, but his enthusiasm was probably understandable); but it captured a moment in history unlike any other, and the enthusiasm on the sailor’s face is attractive to us still today, so it seems to work.

Sitting there, on the second page of my grandma’s old scrapbook was the Irish version of that same image. They were out in front of a Dunne’s Department Store, I thought I might’ve even recognized it from my trips back home with Gran. The man was wearing a British military uniform, but that wasn’t unusual given Irish neutrality during the war. The woman was not wearing a nurse’s uniform, but in fact the same skirt-suit as in the previous picture. And the most startling thing of all was not that she was kissing a man just back from the war, nor even that the man wasn’t may grandad (he had fought but was already living over here), but that she was doing the kissing.

“Gran!” I cried out in a stage whisper. “Who is this?”

She giggled to herself. “I haven’t the foggiest idea! I didn’t at the time either. But when I arrived at the port at Cobh to take my passage to America, there was a ship arriving with soldiers left to help clean up in France after the war. Most had been gone for three or four years; many had families waiting for them, everyone was kissing, and I saw this poor fella all by his lonesome, and I figured he deserved at least as warm a homecoming as the rest.” She flushed slightly.

I looked back and forth between her and the picture. “But where did you get this one from? Surely your sisters didn’t send this too”

“Ah, Gawd no!” She laughed to herself. “No, I went off to Cobh by myself; mother said it would be easier that way. No, I found this in a back copy of the Irish Times they were using to wrap fish and chips at the AOH Hall where I met your Granddad.”

I laughed, beginning to flip through the book more generally. “Hang on here, Gran,” I said. “The captions stop.”

Now the real grin came out. I knew when she got that twinkle in her eye that she was up to something, and she could barely suppress her delight.

“That’s the whole point. At first I was going to try and document my journey to America, how I made my life here, and how I built my family. But then, after I saw that picture in the old newspaper, I saw how my life could have been different. So I started collecting pictures that didn’t fit; any shot that showed a turning point or time where life went one way but could have gone another. And when your Granddad or the kids would drive me too nuts, or the work at Gimbel’s would just seem too much, I’d pull this out and indulge in a little fantasizing.”

“And what did Grandpa think of all this?”

She chuckled to herself. “He never knew.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?”

She bobbed her head like a doll on a dashboard. “Absolutely. I kept no other secrets from your grandad. I was faithful to him for more than sixty years. But to keep the peace in our relationship I kept this scrapbook and every couple of months I’d pull this out and spend an afternoon just…imagining.”

I was moved, not only by the gift but by her trust in me. Impulsively I leaned forward and hugged her tight. She grunted slightly.

“Thank you, Gran.” I let her go and sat back. I looked down at the book. “What do you want me to do with it? Add my own pictures?”

Gran shook her head. “Of course not. Do what you do?”

“What I do?”

“What is it you call it?” She gave me that smirk again. “Deploy the pictures?”

“You want me to use them in ads?”

“If you can make any money off of them, then they’ll have done us both some good. If not, at least use them as I did, to imagine…other things.” Her voice lilted at the end and we laughed over it together.

I reached forward and hugged her again. This time, as we released, she leaned forward and gave me a kiss on the forehead.

“I love you, Dearie.”

“I love you too, Gran.”

And that was the last time we ever spoke. She was dead by the New Year.
The Author
Sitting in a chair, at a desk with headphones on, typing away...
That’s where you’ll find Sybil Shae most days. She loses track of time and reality as she dives into her romance world, becoming one with her characters and growing with them as they appear through words on the tablet screen in concert with the imagery of a fool’s paradise we all visit in our dreams. 
Sybil Shae writes romance, both spicy romance reads and clean reads. She feels it, breathes it, and has built her world around it. Love is at the center of all things. 
Welcome to Sybil’s world. 
Sybil Shae DOES NOT write Erotica by any means, even the Spicy parts aren't as spicy as most others on the market. She writes with Love as the central plot rather than adult content.
You can find out more about Sybil Shae by connecting with her on social media and visiting her website!
Facebook: 
@SybilShae
Website:
http://sybilshaeromance.weebly.com/

Send her an email, she will answer, she loves to talk to her fans! Even if you aren't a fan, she loves to interact. Email: SybilShaeRomance@mail.com

Join Sybil Shae's Newsletter for up to date information on her books: http://eepurl.com/cvHPif
Make Time For Love
A collection of 9 Steamy Romances Across Time in this Multi-Author Boxed Set!
Available for at a special preorder price!
Releases May 1, 2017
Reserve your copy at 99cents!
Love. Passion. No Boundaries.

How far would you go to find true love? Slip into time and discover endless desire crossing the decades with a carefully curated collection of time traveling tales.

Allow these steamy stories to seduce you. Make Time For Love!

Collection includes:
Goddess of Time by New York Times Bestselling author Monica Corwin
Separated From My Love by USA Today Bestselling author Dawn Brower
Flashed Back by Amy L. Gale
Time Will Tell by Sybil Shae
Anita – A Heroine of Two Worlds by Liz Gavin
Hellish ~ Dragon Series by Tina Glasneck
It Started with a Slip by Gina Wynn
Kali by Tracy Ellen
Beyond the Ashes by Kaiden Klein

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Blog Tour: The Complications of Being Lucy by Gus Kenney

Now's The Time To Start Reading With  A New Author! 
This series is the next in line with some of the greats! 
BOTH BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR 99 CENTS US/UK
A Fun For All Ages New Series Of Modern Day Magic & Adventure. 


Did you love Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? How about the stories written by J.K. Rowling & Rick Riordan?
Then You Will Love This!


"This Author Has A Truly Inventive Imagination!"

The Changeling and the Cupboard
​The Complications of Being Lucy Book 1

NEVER GO INTO THE PARK.

Lucy was never afraid of the dark. She never questioned her family. She never thought that the world of logic and science could be a lie. But on her ninth birthday everything changed when a strange boy came into her life from the very lands she was forbidden from ever entering and she finds herself immersed in a conspiracy that was created before she was born. Her reality is shattered by the existence of magic and things of legend. The bonds of family are tested by a lifetime of deception and the truth of who she actually is, becomes the least of Lucy’s torments. For someone has unleashed a nightmare, and Lucy, her family, and her new friends, are soon on the run from a creature that even darkness fears.
The Changeling and the Borrowed Family 
The Complications of Being Lucy Book 2

A nightmare is just a dream in the light of day.

Lucy was used to everyone hiding things from her. Now she is the one forced to hide. The Changelings have been discovered and to save herself, Lucy must slip into the life of a creature who shares her nightmares. With her family scattered in search for answers and her only friend powerless to help, all alone Lucy must guard her heart from the world she always longed for and from the people that want her dead. But how can you fight the agony of your dreams and the secrets buried in your own blood.

Who Is Author Gus Kenney?

Meet Gus Kenney

Gus lives in western New York with his amazing wife and five four legged children. He decided he wanted to be a writer when he realized that he could never be a spy as good as Timothy Dalton's Bond and that Hired Sword was not part of any growth industry. When he is not semi-busy writing, he spends his time pretending he knows what he is doing at a nine-to-five job and the rest of it complaining that it is taking way too long for them to start showing new episodes of his favorite cartoons. If you're bored, or just a creeper, you can check out the insanity that doesn't make it into his books on his social media outlets.

Facebook
The Complications Of Being Lucy
Twitter
Tumblr
Instagram
Linkedin
​Goodread's
Amazon
Website

As It Is Blog (Stop over and sneak a peek at Book 3!)

Find out what Gus says when asked the difficult question, "What is your favorite part of the story?" Click Here!

Interested in speaking with the author?
​Email him: guskenney@yahoo.com

Gus was asked a slew of questions during an in depth interview with Rukia. Here is just one Q & A from that interview. 
Q: Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

A: Honestly, write something else. Anything at all. You can't get truly blocked unless you stop completely. Sure the story you have been focusing on for months suddenly stalls. No need to fear. Just prime the pump of creativity with some other ideas. Do the paint chip trick (look it up on Pinterest). Look online for story prompts(also Pinterest). Take your characters and put them in strange and unusual scenarios that would never come up in the world you created for them. Write something off the wall like a race of people that aren't carbon based but cocoa based (I call them Fudgelians). If all else fails do some dishes. That always works for me. Don't believe me? Come to my house and wash them. You'll see. 
Get to know the author!

Great News! Gus Kenney has something he wants to share with you!
A Rafflecopter Giveaway
 & 
Name The Character competition!



 Name The Character

Author Gus Kenney is offering a chance to name one of the characters for Traitor's Neice, Book 3 in 
The Complications Of Being Lucy Series!
The Rules:
Get book 1(The Changeling And The Cupboard), snap a pic of you with the book like the one above(if it's an eBook open it on your ereader device), tag us (Gus Kenney / Margaret Daly) and post your picture! That's it! The winner will be announced on Facebook on The Complications Of Being Lucy Page!
Now's the time to get your copies of these books, each priced at 99c/99p.
Then enter the competition to name the character in Book 3!


Don't miss this opportunity to not only read the next hit series, but to be a part in the story yourself!
Thank you for joining us today! We hope you coming away from this with a better sense of this new hit series by Gus Kenney...

If you have any questions you can normally find Gus on FB, or you can send him an email. 
Have A Great Day! 
Please remember to leave a book review, just a few simple words is all!

Book Blog Tour: The Gaia Effect by Claire Buss - Fantasy/Science Fiction/Post-Apocalyptic

The Gaia Effect Banner Blog Tour ~ The Gaia Effect Author: Claire Buss Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction/ Post-Apocalyptic Tour Dates: 20th-24th of March Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours The Gaia Effect 2.jpg Blurb: In City 42 Corporation look after you from cradle to grave. They protect you from the radiation outside the wall. They control the food, the water, the technology and most important of all, the continuation of the human race. Kira and Jed Jenkins were lucky enough to win Collection but when their friends start falling pregnant naturally, everything changes. How long has Corporation been lying to them? Is it really toxic outside the wall? As the group comes to terms with the changes in their lives they discover there is a much more powerful and ancient force at work, trying to bridge the gap between man and nature. 313a6-addtogoodreads ↓Buy Links↓ https://www.amazon.com/Gaia-Effect-Claire-Buss-ebook/dp/B01N7KT80X Author Bio: Claire Buss Claire Buss is a science fiction/fantasy writer currently based in Barking, Essex. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 with The Gaia Effect and set her writing career in motion. Visit her at: facebooktwitteramazontumblr ufb-banner-2017 a Rafflecopter giveaway Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/ZmZlMWExNTc0Yjc5YjAwZWI0MjBiYmJhZjExMzQ2OjIy/?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Music: Interview with World5, international music sensation

It's time for music! I'm so thrilled to introduce a wonderful band on the blog today. World5 started with five close friends who were professional musicians. Although life and personal projects put them in different locations around the globe, they kept alive the desires of making music together. Realizing that very long distances separate them physically but not musically, they used the power of the World Wide Web to shorten the physical distance.



Check out their music and read more about them in the interview below.


Tell us a little about the story behind the band's name.

The band name popped up right away, it took only a couple of minutes to come up with it: 5 members literally spread around the world: WORLD5!

That's the idea! When did you decide to get together and make music? How do you manage to keep the band going when you're not living in the same city?

At the end of the 90's, beginning of 2000, the internet connections were as much advanced as it was needed to handle the sending of such big files, as they are created by recording music. We were all friends and working as professional musicians for more than 30 years, but were not able to work together as we are spread over 3 continents. The fast internet connection and skype opened the doors.


Technology helping to create great sounds! Who writes the lyrics and composes the sounds?


Every one of us contributes with music. We have extra lyricists, which are not members of the band. Michael Moore, Toni Becker and Kerryl Ann Frank.

Terrific voices. What genre do you consider yourself and what's your greatest influence?

We play and record Pop-Rock / Adult Contemporary music. We were influenced by hundreds of musicians during the years. From The Beatles to Sting, Genesis, Billy Joel and of course the "musician´s" band Toto to name just a few.

I love Toto! When was the first time you performed live?

We all started playing live in high school and never stopped playing.

That's what I'd call true calling. What do you enjoy the most between your interaction with the fans?

It is awesome to meet, chat and write to people from all over the globe. This confirms that music definitely does not have any borders.






Music brings people together, right? Do you believe music can influence change in a positive way? How?

Definitely, it unites people from different countries and different cultures, gives them a positive vibe which affects all their actions.


Agreed. What was the inspiration for your latest album?

Both the first album "Global Experience" and the latest album "Heartbeat Of The World" are based on a message of positive change.

We are very thankful for all support by our listeners. Without your support, music, (at least recorded music) could not exist!


We need positive change. Thank you so much for stopping by for this interview, and we wish you much success with the new album!


To find out more about their music and to connect with World5, click on the links below:

http://www.world5music.com
https://www.facebook.com/World5band
http://twitter.com/world5music
http://www.reverbnation.com/world5
http://www.youtube.com/user/World5music
http://www.amazon.com/World5/e/B0067LTAZ2
https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/world5/id478881688
https://play.spotify.com/artist/5Hz0rLiTcULzVzyBu3ExLK




 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Learning: How to sell a ton of books in 5 simple steps

SkipJack Publishing is an award-winning, best-selling independent publishing company, sharing their secrets and guiding you step-by-step to propel yourself—and your books—to publishing success.

No matter where you are in the writing process – struggling to breathe life into a treasured plot bunny or a seasoned author with the scars to prove it – the SkipJack School has the class for you.  Our bundles contain classes on the topics of writing, publishing and marketing.

Check out our all-inclusive bundle with every class in the SkipJack School. Or start with our FREE class, How to sell a ton of books in 5 simple steps.

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, award-winning and best-selling romantic mysteries, and hilarious nonfiction from deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and way up in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. She is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, riding her gigantic horses, experimenting with her Keurig, and traveling in the Bookmobile.

You can connect with Pamela via her website http://pamelafaganhutchins.com or e-mail pamela@pamelafaganhutchins.com.



How to Sell a Ton of Books in 5 Simple Steps:

So you’ve written a book. It’s for sale on Amazon, your own little Field of Dreams. You’ve strong-armed everyone you know, and they’ve all promised to buy it. To read it. To review it. Only they haven’t, and it’s not selling.
Meanwhile, your mother’s told everyone and their three-legged dog about her son the author. Her daughter the next Steven King. Her little pookie who’s going to be rich and famous any day now. People ask you when you’re quitting your day job (and to borrow money).
Your life has become a secret hell that you cover up with a swagger and a smile. You tell yourself that it’s about the achievement. About getting it out there. About the art. The truth is, though, you want readers. You want fan letters and a movie deal. You want to make MONEY at this, but you have no idea how.

Pamela does. She went from attorney/investigator to full-time author in three years, with 1.5 million downloads and six-figure royalties. And she wants to help you. 

FOR FREE.

So what are you waiting for? Jump on in with Pamela, and get to work on learning how to sell more books.

Click on the links below to access the courses:


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Books: Interview with Science Fiction and Fantasy writer Mjke Wood


Today on the blog we have the pleasure to introduce writer Mjke Wood. Read on to find out more about his fascinating books.

Where are you from and what's your background?

I was born on the Isle of Man but I’ve lived most of my life on the Wirral, in the UK. I worked as a Finance Manager for a large public transport company, but last year I took an early retirement deal to concentrate on writing full time. I’m also a musician, playing alto sax and clarinet in bands around the North West. I love playing in pit orchestras for amateur shows, too. It’s a great way to see lots of hit musicals without having to pay to get in.

What a great way to attend shows! When did you realize you wanted to write and when did you start writing?

I’ve always loved reading, and about thirty years ago, after a bad commuting experience, I wrote to the local newspaper. It was a full on rant, but I injected humor into it, and when it was published as the star letter, and I began to receive feedback, it got me thinking. I decided to try writing humor pieces and sending them to magazines. They were rejected of course. They were bad. But it didn’t stop me because I’d fallen in love with the whole process of writing.

That’s great that you didn’t give up after being rejected. What genre do you write and what's your target audience?

It’s strange that while I was sending these random humor pieces out to magazines, I’d never thought to try writing science fiction. I read a lot of science fiction, and have done since I was eight or nine years old. My dad used to bring home stacks of short story anthologies from the library, and I read these because they were way better than the stuff I could get from the children’s library. So I took a break from the humor stuff and started writing science fiction short stories. I sent them to magazines, and when these rejections came back, they were different. They were rejections from America, from magazines like Analog and Asimov’s, and the editors were names that I knew, and they were writing letters to me, and sometimes they even included comments that made me realize they’d actually read some them. I’d found the thing I wanted to write. There was still humor in a lot of the stories, but also some serious stuff was coming through. So for the most part, my target audience was these editors. I wrote for them. If ever I were to sell a story it would be because I’d written something that appealed to a particular editor.

It’s quite an interesting take on your audience. And how many books have you published so
far? Were you ever accepted to be published in any other publications or journals?

My focus stayed on short fiction for many years. I wrote occasional novels and sent them out to agents and publishers, but always my passion was for writing short fiction, and I’d begun to sell some of it. In 2007 I won the Jim Baen Memorial contest with a short story, and then a year later I won Writers of the Future, and that was cool because part of the prize was a week-long paid-for trip to Los Angeles for a workshop and for the award ceremony. I’d never been to America. I’d never even flown, and that’s a whole other story in itself. Okay, I’ve strayed from the question, so I’ll try and get back on track. Before writing any novels I had maybe two dozen short stories published in sci-fi magazines and anthologies. I put together a collection of my own short stories, called ‘Power for Two Minutes and Other Unrealities’, and indy published it on Amazon, and I have now, at last, published a novel-length science fiction story, ‘Deep Space Accountant’, which is the first of a series. Book two will be out later this year. In the meantime I followed a parallel thread, writing a humorous travel memoir called ‘Travelling in a Box’. It’s very niche, very UK focused, so I’ve been surprised at how well it’s done.

You have a lot of interesting adventures to tell, that’s for sure. And congrats on your winnings. What is your favorite quote and who wrote it?

I don’t have a quote, so much as a set of rules, coined in 1947 by the sci-fi writer, Robert Heinlein. They’re designed for short fiction writing but you can make them work for long form, too.
1                    You must write
2                    You must finish what you start
3                    You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
4                    You must put it on the market.
5                    You must keep it on the market until sold.

Rule three seems a little strange but what it means is don’t keep going back over something you’ve finished, polished and edited. Concentrate on the next thing. So I also like to include a sixth rule that was added much later, by Robert J Sawyer:
6          Start working on something else.

This is important. It’s too easy to sit back after one story or book and decide that your work is done. It isn’t done, you have the next book to do, and then the next.

Indeed, the job of a writer is never done… Do you have a favorite author? Who? Has this author or his book(s) influenced your writing in any way?

As a sci-fi writer Arthur C Clarke is perhaps my biggest early influence. I think I’ve read every novel he wrote, and most of his short fiction, too. Clarke’s ‘A Fall of Moondust’ was the first Sci-Fi novel I ever read. The memory of reading that book, waiting for the rain to stop while on a camping holiday near Minehead in Somerset, is still vivid in my mind. I was eleven or twelve years old. ‘A Fall of Moondust’ just blew me away. If Arthur C Clarke was my gateway drug to sci-fi, then Stephen King hooked me with the full-on addiction for writing. Around about the time when I was sending off those daft little pieces to newspapers and magazines, I read Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’, and then ‘It’. I felt rocked back on my heels. I’d encountered real magic. How could a few squiggles on a page transport me, mind body and soul, into another world? I wanted more and I wanted to be able to perform that magic.

I can see why they can influence any writer! If you could be a character from any book who would you like to be, and why?

This is hard because most of the characters from my favorite books are put through hell and back. It’s something writers do, they create characters you love and then they do horrible things to them. But if I may return to Arthur C Clarke, and his 1974 Hugo-winning ‘Rendezvous with Rama’, then Jimmy Pak is my choice. He’s a crew member of the exploratory mission to Rama, a massive rotating cylindrical starship that enters our solar system en route to an unknown destination. Jimmy Pak gets to skybike along the axis of Rama, and he sees the whole of this artificial world rotating around him. Ever since reading that book I’ve been fascinated by the whole concept of generation starships built as giant cylinders with artificial gravity. What a fabulous thing to explore one and see it from such a vantage point. And Jimmy Pak gets through the whole book without getting maimed or mutilated or anything else of a discouraging nature.

Wow, that’s true. Hard to find a character that doesn’t go through a horrible experience, but the adventures are worth it! What are you working on now?

I have a first draft for the second Sphere of Influence novel all ready to start knocking into shape. It’s called ‘The Lollipop of Influence’. I envy those writers who can get a first draft that’s more or less good to go. My first drafts need a lot of work to iron out all the bugs and plot holes and clunky writing, and I have to make sure it’s consistent with the first book. I’ll only send a ‘final’ draft to my editor when I’m sure it’s clean. And then, for sure, it will come back marked up with another month’s work for me fix all the things I missed. I’ve also written a follow-up to my travel book, called ‘Two in a Box’, which is sitting in the queue waiting its turn to go through the second-draft factory. Beyond that I there’s a third travel book to come, provisionally titled ‘Flying in a Box’, and at least one more book in the Sphere of Influence series. And I’m still doing short stories at the rate of about one per month, just for the fun of it.

You’re keeping very busy, and that’s great. Where can we find out more about you and your writing?

My website is www.mjkewood.com and I have a separate website for my travel books, www.travellinginabox.com.

You can find me on Twitter as @MjkeW and my Facebook page is www.facebook.com/mjkewood/

Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?


Well, just to mention that one of my short stories has been optioned for a movie. The story is ‘The Last Days of Dogger City’ which first appeared in the April 2015 edition of Analog. Right now it’s being turned into a script by the producers, First Enterprise Productions. This is a turn of events that I most definitely wouldn’t have predicted a few years ago. As I say, it was only a short story so the movie will need more plot material than in the original, so I’m dying to see what comes out of it.

That’s about it, only to say, thanks, Andrea, for the interview. I’ve very much enjoyed doing it, and I wish you every success with your own writing endeavors.

Congratulations, Mjke! That’s absolutely fantastic and I hope to be watching the movie based on your story soon. Good luck and thank you so much for your time telling us about you and your books! 

To puchase Mjke's books, visit his page on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Mjke-Wood/e/B00IA4HJCA