For the first #AskMeAnything post, Go >HERE<
Q: Do you have a book out or are you planning to release soon?
A: No, I do not currently have any book out... but YES, I am excited to say that I am finally planning on releasing soon! I am in contact with a small press that has agreed to publish my novella "Princess of Undersea" and I couldn't be more excited! I hope to release it by mid-summer/fall at the latest--depending on how long the process takes. This is my first time, so I'm very new at this, and I have no idea what to expect--but at least I know it will have my name on the cover!
Q: What is your favorite genre to read? why?
A: My top 3 favorite genres to read are Fantasy, science fiction, and mystery/thriller. I love the way each of these triggers my imagination in different aspects, and the best ones just blow my mind time and again, I just can't get enough of them!
Q: What is your favorite genre to write? Why?
A: I love writing fantasy most of all because A) It's easiest to write with very little research involved, and B) the end result is something I would certainly read, because I love the genre so much. I do also write some sci-fi, but more toward the cyberpunk genre, again for the imagination of it, and the fact that if I need a device that has a certain function, I can always invent ways that make it work without very much research--or if I do want to research, it only serves to make the thing all the more plausible.
Q: You review so many books! How do you pick them?
A: As far as the featured "Reader's Reviews" that I do, out of all those books (I'm closing in on 50 reviews!) less than half were personally selected by me, based on the fact that it was within my favorite genre, and the blurb looked interesting. The rest were offered by authors seeking reviews, or I put out a general offered to review, and some authors offered me their books, and of course I said yes. I have never turned down the offer of a free book, to date. (That's probably the biggest reason that list is so long...)
As far as the general "Reading Lists", such as the monthly ones from 2014 (the year I read 100 books), those are ones I selected from library shelves. I fell into the habit of going to the library on a regular basis the aforementioned year, and by now, I have "library" down to a pretty succinct science. I choose books based first on the genre, then I check the cover for "red flag" images (naked bodies or pagan symbols on the cover is a pretty good indication of the same on the page, and I know I'm not a fan of that, for example) and I check the blurb to see if the premise intrigues me. If so, I check it out. This method isn't foolproof; I have been "burnt" by blurbs before, as the story turned out nothing like what I expected from the blurb, but most of the time it's a solid win, and I have discovered a new author to love! (COMING SOON: "How To Library")
Q: What is that one book that has always been your favorite, your 'comfort book?' (Narnia, etc...)
A: Well, with all the books in my "to-be-read" pile, one would think I didn't have time to fall back on a "comfort" book! But as far as "most number of times read" it would probably be the Chronicles of Narnia--Especially while I was writing a spinoff trilogy for the series! (But then it was more for "research" than pleasure, right?) That one, and also The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. (At one point, I had pretty much every single mystery in that collection pretty-near memorized!)
Q: What is the one book that changed the way you write?
A: I would have to say it was probably Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I had grown up on Christian-oriented literary classes, very heavy in the classics and "highly moral" literature, and very narrow in their selections of more modern authors and genres. Therefore, the advanced literature courses I studied in college came as quite a brutal shock, and after a year of nothing but "required reading" that depressed the heck out of me, I came away not wanting to read anything at all for at least a month.
After that month, I wound up reading Bradbury's book, because I recalled the short story of his that I'd read and enjoyed, "There Will Come Soft Rains." Fahrenheit 451 opened my eyes to the validity of many kinds of literature, and the importance of discerning the quality of what I'm reading--and also motivated me to invest more into the quality of what I'm writing, not only adding value to the work I'm doing, but also considering the impact on future generations of readers.
Q: What genre would you NEVER write in?
A: I would have to say that the one answer I know for sure is "erotica." Not my jam, thank you.
While I tend to shy away from the horror genre--I have been known to write some pretty dang creepy stories, so I can't rule that one out completely. And I hope to one day write one or two good mystery/thrillers.
Q: How do you deal with writer's block?
A: I have been "blocked" more often than you would believe. But even then, I am always writing because my habit has been to jot down multiple ideas all at once, maybe even start a few, and so when one of them "falls silent," as it were, I can merely funnel creative energy into another project, most often in a different genre, so that it refreshes my mind.
Another strategy I've come up with is using the Suggestion Box series to sort of give my "writer brain" a break from the strain of having to cinch up plot holes and string out story arcs over long distances. My strategy for that one has been to merely write what first comes to mind when I look at the list I've been given, to write until I've incorporated all four items, and then end the scene, without pressure to continue the story or develop any details or decide "what happens next." It makes writing easy, and very often, the ideas I come up with on the fly connect together into a longer story, after all.
Q: Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
A: All of my ideas start from one of two points: either a random “What If?” question (“What if an average guy at a gala event happens to pick up a fortune cookie that contains a message intended for a terrorist?” becomes the story “The Misfortune Cookie”) or a single scene that presents an interesting premise (A janitor at a small art museum discovers that the “dimensional paintings” are actually live fairies stapled to the canvas and painted over to look fake--that one turned into a novel called “Fairies Under Glass”, which I enjoyed writing so much that I went and wrote a sequel).
Once I have the idea, I will usually go from there and start making a bulleted list of plot points to provide context for the “What if?” or the scene; I am very much a planner because I have so much going on in my head at all times that I lose my train of thought very quickly unless I write it down. Sometimes I will go back through the bulleted list and decide chapter divisions; sometimes I’ll just start writing it as a serial novel and do away with chapter divisions altogether.
Then again, the more I get into the habit of writing whatever comes to mind, or whatever feels “in character” instead of trying to stick to “The Plan”, the more I become somewhat of a hybrid between a "planner" and a "pantser", because--just like when writing an essay--I have the basic outline with just vague notes to remind myself where I am supposed to be and where I want to end up, but sometimes the unexpected happens when I go to actually write it, and then I end up switching “The Plan” to match the new storyline.
Thanks for your questions! Be on the lookout for more great stuff coming your way from The Upstream Writer! And if you have a question of your own, leave it in the comments and I'll answer it in the next #AskMeAnything post!