Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tea with Manda Benson

Today Toad welcomes Manda Benson, author of a number of SF novels, for both adults and younger readers.

You have built a very detailed setting. Where did the initial spark for your milieu occur?

In Pilgrennon’s Beacon, the physical setting in the story is real locations in the British Isles. Because of this, planning the book in this respect required far less thought than my fiction that involves more fantastic places. However, it required much more in the way of active research.

Because I wanted locations to feel authentic, I had to visit places and study maps of areas I wasn’t familiar with in order to get a feel for them. In a way, it was more complicated than writing a story set in a purely fictional setting, as the landscape can’t be warped to fit the plot, and there are certain limitations to suspension of disbelief if you’re going to add something to an existing place for the purpose of the story.
The greatest influence on the book was undoubtedly the Outer Hebrides. The Isle of Lewis is made up of breathtaking landscapes, yet its beauty is in many ways desolate and barren, and treacherous. The wind tears over crags and peat moorlands with no trees to offer shelter. The stony cliffs and empty beaches stand against the wrath of an ocean which the size and shape of the island make it impossible to escape. Of the sparse stone houses that do exist on Lewis, many
lie in ruins, and there seem to be more graves than living people.

If you go to Harris, the landscape there looks like it could be the surface of a moon. I was captivated not only by the islands’ wild beauty, but by how forbidding and even slightly sinister they were. Adding a mysterious beacon on an island with a haunted lighthouse (the haunted lighthouse is real; the beacon isn’t) seemed a great way to make a really atmospheric setting for a technothriller.
In terms of the social landscape Beacon is set against, I use a political structure for the society in some of my other books that’s very different to the sort of democracy we see in politics today. The series of which this book is the first volume is about the revolution that leads to this radical new society.
The Star Archers have their progenitor in Pilgrennon's Beacon. Tell us more about your archers and their origin.

Readers of the Galactic Legacy books (Dark Tempest and the forthcoming In the Shadow of Lazarus) might recognise some references and similarities between the two worlds. Galactic Legacy, Pilgrennon’s Children, and Days of the Meritocracy (not yet published) are three distinct series that span different eras of a common history. Pilgrennon’s Children is near future and set mostly on Earth, Days of the Meritocracy is a few hundred years from the present and set within the Solar system, and Galactic Legacy is in the distant future, when a large
portion of the Galaxy has been colonised.

I wouldn’t like to say anything too specific about the connections between them, partly because I think this sort of thing is best left to mystery and reader interpretation, but also because I might have an idea for a book at some point in the future that would invalidate something I’d earlier said!

You offer readers a very British SF viewpoint. How does your world view differ from the standard tropes?

I write about what I know. A large proportion of the book-buying public are American, but it would be no use me setting a book in America, because I’ve never been there and I don’t know enough about it to make it realistic. I think (or rather hope) that most people would prefer to read something authentic about an unfamiliar place and culture than read a book that doesn’t do justice to a place and culture they already know.

Pilgrennon's Beacon isn't quite YA fiction, although your protagonist is quite young. What are some of the prevalent themes in the novel and why do you think it appeals to a broad readership?

The thing is, I didn’t start writing Pilgrennon’s Beacon or plan the series as being for any particular age group. I simply had a story that demanded to be written, so I wrote it. I’d had the idea of the origins of the Meritocracy and how it was sparked by a feud between two scientific luminaries in the autumn of our modern era for some years, but neither of these characters seemed the right PoV to work with, and I had never really been sure how to put these ideas into a novel. As the idea continued to develop in the back of my mind during a hiatus and while I was writing some other things, another character, a girl who knew very little about her own past, came into the picture and I realised at once that this was her story.

When I sent it to writer friends to critique, a number of them commented that it worked well as a YA book. Initially I thought this wouldn’t work because the book was too grim and the ideas were too complicated and "grown up", but as it turns out, these are apparently the sort of things a lot of young people look for in fiction.

Pilgrennon’s Beacon is in essence a near-future Pandora story. It’s also a story about a feud, about vengeance, forgiveness, and about self discovery. Central to the plot are the relationships between Dana and two other adult characters who follow the creator-destroyer-preserver motif. One person who beta read the book with the caveat that he didn’t really connect with child characters enjoyed it for the adult characters’ stories. I hope this book has something for everyone.

What are the three most important SF works any SF author should have on their shelf, and why?

I’m going to sidestep that question in a way. I don’t think it’s particularly important to possess or even read science fiction in order to write science fiction. Science fiction is any fiction with a speculative scientific element. It doesn’t have to conform to any sort of stereotype, and you don’t have to write it to a formula. What constitutes a good book tends to be a matter of taste on one hand, and on the other a lot of pretty awful fiction by most people’s standards has been grouped under the broad umbrella of SF. So, the most important books?

Firstly, get a style manual. If you want to write anything, you’ll want other people to be able to read it. I’ve heard a few times, mostly from unpublished writers, that things like punctuation don’t matter and that the editor who eventually accepts their books exists to fix such problems. That’s rot. An editor’s job is to make sure the book is in the publisher’s house style and to correct mistakes. If there are twelve errors in every paragraph, that goes beyond the remit of correcting mistakes. It means the writer can’t use the English language properly. You wouldn’t go to a job interview or a friend’s wedding wearing Wellington boots and clothes you’d worn to muck out a stable in, would you?

Poor command of the written word looks unprofessional and means readers are likely to reject it without giving the story a chance. So proofread your writing carefully. Buy a style manual, read it, and try to follow it to your best ability. That means either the Oxford Style Manual
for those in the UK, or the Chicago Manual of Style
or the Associated Press Stylebook
for those in the USA.

Secondly, buy a factual resource on the area you’re writing in. If you’re writing a novel about quantum mechanics, get a good quantum mechanics textbook.

Read relevant scientific articles in magazines and on websites. There’s always going to be a proportion of speculation and conjecture in science fiction, but the stronger you ground that in what’s already known, the more believable it will be and the more inclined readers will be when you need them to suspend disbelief or make a conceptual leap. Also, you can get some great ideas for novel premises just reading about current research.

Lastly, although science fiction with bad science is bad science fiction, science fiction with bad characters is bad fiction. Read a wide variety of books of all genres, not just SF, and analyse what works about the characters in the books you enjoy. The third book can be any book with characters you connect with, for whatever reason. Join online writing groups and discuss
characterisation methods to help you integrate realistic characters meaningfully in your plots.

You own Tangentrine Ltd, the publisher of Pilgrennon’s Beacon and two of your other books. Why did you decide to set up your own business to produce your books?

I submitted Pilgrennon’s Beacon to a lot of agents and a few publishers that accept unsolicited submissions. I got requests for more and nice comments, but no offers. Often publishing professionals commented that it was just too unusual to be commercial or they didn’t like the science-fiction aspect of it.

After that I gave up and left it to rot on my hard drive for a few years, along with a few other novels and novellas and one dreadful novel that was the first one I wrote, but this particular book kept coming back to haunt me. Pilgrennon’s Beacon is intended to be the first part of a series, and I kept getting the urge to write the next book. I couldn’t justify spending time on something that would be unpublishable on the grounds that I’d been unable to sell the first book, yet this was interfering with my ability to get on and write new books.

I looked into what call themselves "self publishing companies" – publishers like Lulu and Createspace that will publish any book for little or no upfront fee and take a cut of the profit from selling it, but I quickly realised these weren’t going to be appropriate for my requirements. They didn’t allow enough control over the design of the book, and the charges per book printed meant I would have had to price the books unacceptably high. Instead, I decided to set up a publishing company and contract a printer, which works out more cost effective as you only pay the printer rather than having to pay a middleman as well, and the quality of the books is much better.

Would you recommend self publishing to other authors?

No, not unless you have experience writing and you’re prepared to do a lot of research and work. If you’ve just finished writing your first book, chances are there are going to be a lot of things wrong with it that you don’t yet have the experience to spot. Put the book away for a few years and write some more, then see if you still feel the same way about it. Self publishing needn’t be very expensive, but bear in mind that, to create a product that looks professional, you will have to learn typesetting and design (or pay someone else to do them for you). I was fortunate in that I have friends who are graphic designers and editors to give me advice and do a few thorough proofreads. You will also have to pay for industry-standard software and manage your business’s finances.

If a reputable publisher wants to publish your book, I’d still say let it. Self publishing really is a lot of work if you want to do it properly. Good publishers have contacts and money to throw at marketing, so you will nearly always sell more books that way. Getting a bit less money per book sold and sacrificing some editorial control is worth that in my opinion. If you’re going for electronic publishing only, even then the good small e-presses offer a stronger option by having connections with vendor sites. When my book Dark Tempest was published by Lyrical Press, a significant proportion of sales came through a vendor called Fictionwise. Established publishers are able to set up agreements with this sort of vendor to make their books more prominent and
attractive to buyers.

For those who are ready to try self publishing, I shall be running some more articles to do with the matter on my blog soon.

Pilgrennon’s Beacon is the first volume in a series. Can you tell us more about the other books?

The series is called Pilgrennon’s Children. I am currently writing the next book, The Emerald Forge, which I hope to publish sometime in 2012.

Useful links...



US Amazon

US Kindle

Read an excerpt on Smashwords

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tea with Kelly Harmon

Today Toad welcomes Kelly Harmon to her corner.

What made you realise you wanted to be a wordsmith, and what career path did
you follow to get there?

I’ve always written fiction. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t want to be a writer.

I scribbled constantly in a three-ring binder full of loose-leaf all through grade school. At home, I would use my mom’s Royal manual typewriter, eking out one or two typed pages a day before my fingers would smart from those sticky keys.I harangued my parents continually for an electric typewriter, which I finally received for my 12th birthday. That’s when I really started churning out the words. (That’s also when I taught myself to type–I still can’t use my
right pinky to shift.)

I studied journalism in college because I thought it would offer me more job opportunities than an English degree would. It did, but not many.

What are, in your opinion, some of the most important interests an author should cultivate?

In order to write well, I think authors need to know a great deal about people and relationships. Knowing what makes people tick, or what motivates them, enables a writer to create believable characters. It’s the tiny details, knowing the psyche of a character, and writing it into the book, which will make the straight-A, goody-two-shoes character’s sudden leap into hitch-hiking and
prostitution seem believable, rather than just convenient for the story’s sake.

Relationships are very telling about people. In a book, if the husband treats his wife like dirt, but bows and scrapes to his mother...what does that tell the reader? Maybe the guy’s just an ass, or a Momma’s Boy. On the other hand, he might have some psychological problems that manifest in other ways. A good author would know how this guy will react in certain situations – and in other
relationships – and use that information to carry the plot forward.

Was there any specific event that sparked off Blood Soup?

It wasn’t an event, so much as a research jaunt, that sparked the idea for the story.

I’m an avid genealogist, and at the time I was writing Blood Soup, I was putting together a family cookbook which included a recipe for a special-occasion soup called "Czarnina" (char-NEE-nah), or, in English: blood soup.

Despite the title’s connotations, blood soup isn't so sinister a meal. Blood constitutes only a small fraction of what is used to create the broth. The other ingredients are fairly routine and include cloves, peppercorn and fresh apples and pears to create a sweet-and-sour soup. The soup is dark in color (czarnina means “black”) and I’d toyed with using the title as a play on words for the dark theme of the story.

Instead, my mind continued to return to “blood” as the key to the story.

As I worked through the plot, I thought of ways blood could be used for healing or as a medicinal ingredient. Taking it a step further, I wondered at the efficacy of using blood to save the life of another person: Could blood from a well person pull a dying person back from the brink? Could it strengthen a weak constitution? I considered whether or not a person could subsist on a diet of mostly blood...human or animal. And, what happens to someone who develops such a taste, so much so, that it’s like an addition?

That line of questioning solidified Prince Amalric’s character: he was a weakling as a child and fed blood to fortify him. He came to crave it as a youngster, often demanding it. He reveals his strong temper - like an addict - when someone has eaten the last bowl of soup which he considers his.

Although King Theodicar set in motion the events which lead to Amalric’s eventual rule, Blood Soup is actually about Amalric , whose blood lust was thrust upon him by a determined father and who must come to realize that he’s not the rightful heir to Borgund.

And that's how Blood Soup came to be.

Briefly share what Blood Soup's all about.

Blood Soup is a story about murder, betrayal and comeuppance.

The story opens with a pregnant Queen Piacenza. Her husband, King Theodicar, naturally hopes for a male heir. The Queen is from Omera, where the first born rules, no matter the sex of the child. This causes no end of friction between them.

The Queen’s nursemaid, Salvagia, casts runes about the birth. Over and over, they yield the same message: “A girl child must rule or the kingdom will fall to ruin.” The women are convinced the baby will be a girl.

When the queen finally gives birth, the nurse and the king are equally surprised, and Theodicar is faced with a terrible choice. His decision will determine the fate of his kingdom. Will he choose wisely, or will he doom Borgund to ruin?

What advice do you have for anyone considering being a wordsmith as a career option? (this includes being a journalist.) What should they study and what career options are available?

If you want to write fiction, don’t find a writing job at all. Get a degree in something else you enjoy and take some writing classes on the side. Choose something that pays a decent wage and/or is a job someone is always looking to fill. This way, you’ll have a skill set you need to make some money while you’re waiting for your novels and short stories to be published.

(Yes: this advice runs completely counter to what I did, which was to study journalism in college and work for newspapers. I found the experience invaluable when it comes to learning about human nature; but the hours were long and stole time I could have been devoting to writing fiction.)

There’s another reason I advise studying something other than writing: you’ll gain extensive knowledge in another subject which you can use in your fiction.

For instance, if you study can write a novel - even a series of novels - with the main character being an archeologist or the setting being an archeological dig. Your writing will be richer for your having studied the subject so extensively already. Imagine not having to do all that research!

If you want to write non-fiction for a living, an English or journalism degree (or even, public relations/advertising) could lead to a variety of jobs: reporting, writing brochures or sales literature for foundations or large companies, translation, advertising, etc.

You could go the reporter route...but there’s more money to be made in freelancing. The difference is: you’ve got to work harder for the freelance dollars. You’ve got to make your own leads, find your own stories, and be organized enough – and driven enough – to make it work for you.

High-paying writing jobs often require specialized experience: medical writing, legal writing, engineering, etc. If you want a high-paying writing job, explore those venues.

Can you write non-fiction and fiction? Sure, I do it all the time. But I’m not certain you can make a full-time career out of either if you do them together.

That being said: your mileage may vary. No matter what you decide... good luck!

Useful links:

Twitter: @kellyaharmon

Read the first two chapters for free at Scribd:

Buy Links:
Also available on Kindle:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Short Fiction: Deepening Twilight by AE Rought

The angel breezed by, wings sparkling and halo askew. She giggled, a high sweet sound in the deepening twilight. A devil followed close behind, tail dragging in the gravel, pitchfork snagged on the angel’s skirts.
Then, their mother walked past. Each engrossed in their pursuit of sweet treats, and all oblivious to me.
I lay beneath a golden maple, upon the carpet of autumn’s splendor. A chill breeze unsettled my costume in its passage. And, the fallen leaves whispered softly beneath my weight--complaining, displeased that my blood stained them crimson…

* * * *

AE Rought is compulsive. Coffee, writing, chocolate, coffee, writing… When not indulging in hunky heroes, gorgeous heroines and their tangled lives, AE can be found crafting, beading, watching Ultimate Fighting on TV, maybe even walking the dog. Luckily, her real life gun-slinging, sword-swinging hero of a husband tolerates that little personality quirk pretty well. So do her kids. The cat, however, not so much—he still walks across the keyboard on occasion.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

THIS week Toad welcomes Sheryl Nantus to her corner. A few of you may remember the review that appeared for Blaze of Glory late last year. Well, Sheryl's back for a spot of Q&A. Welcome, Sheryl!

Sheryl was born in Montreal, Canada and grew up in Toronto, Canada. A rabid reader almost from birth, she attended Sheridan College in Oakville, graduating in 1984 with a diploma in Media Arts Writing.

During her 15 years of working in private security, she was stationed at the United States Consulate in Toronto, as well as many hospitals in the greater Toronto area. Needless to say, she saw a lot of interesting things and people from which she draws her characters and situations in her speculative fiction writing.

She met Martin Nantus through the online fanfiction community in 1993 and moved to the United States in 2000 in order to marry. A firm believer in the healing properties of peppermint and chai tea, she continues to write short stories, poetry and novels while searching for the perfect cuppa.

What made you choose superheroes for Blaze of Glory?

I've always loved superheroes and enjoy reading comic books and watching movies that have superheroes. This might go back to one of my earliest memories of running down the hallway with a towel tied around my neck and leaping into the air to fly... and breaking my little toe. Not so good on the flying, then or now.

I wrote Blaze of Glory because I wanted to do my own version of how supers could be created and what sort of world they would fit into. Or be pushed into, depending on how you look at it. How would the government react to having supers around? And what if you didn't want to be a hero or a villain...

Which are your two favourite, all-time super hero and super villiain, and why?

Oooh.... tough one. I love Wonder Woman because she's a tough old broad who doesn't take crap from anyone, especially men and she's been around forever. Oracle/Batgirl because she's a capable woman who doesn't let her disability keep her down. Iron Man 'cause RDJ jr. is so edible. Superman because he's, well, Superman!

Villains... that's tougher. I've always been bothered by supervillains who set themselves up for failure by leaving the back door open or allowing the good guy to thwart their evil plan because they forgot to set the timer or something. If I had to pick one it'd be Adrian Veidt from Watchmen because his evil is just so... good. No mercy, no emotions at all. And he gets the job done in terrifying form.

Brown Betties and fluffy white cats have featured in Blaze of Glory as well as What God and Cats Know. Any reason why?

Well, the Brown Betty is from my past - my grandmother, God bless her, always stated that there was nothing that couldn't wait for a cuppa tea. And as I've gotten older I've found this to be a pretty useful philosophy to go by (with the exclusion of life-threatening injuries, of course).

The white cat, well... her name was Jazz and she stayed with me for 17 years, coming with me from Toronto, Canada to the United States in 2000 when I got married. I still miss her horribly along with her bestest friend, Razzmatazz, a tortoiseshell cat, so they visit me every once in a while in my books. Hopelessly emotional sappy stuff.

Tell us more about Jo Tanis, your protagonist in Blaze of Glory.

Hmm, where to start?

She grew up in that awkward generation right in the middle of computers coming onto the scene and changing the world, creating new jobs and destroying others. After trying a number of retail jobs she fell into working at the Bookworm's Hideout as a way of staying alive during another recession and finding comfort and support from David Tierney, the store owner. He needed a clerk who could work cheap and she needed a job.

Of course, until she got mugged one night...but that's another story.

Can we expect further adventures from Jo Tanis and her crew of supers?

Right now I'm working on a sequel dealing with the consequences of Jo's actions in Blaze of Glory. There's a whole lot of problems sprouting up from her decisions and she has to deal with them. And, of course, Hunter.

Care to spill the beans on your next release?

I recently had my steampunk western romance, Wild Cards and Iron Horses, come out from Samhain Publishing in ebook form - the paperback version will be released in August 2011! And the paperback edition of Blaze of Glory is scheduled for a February 2011 release so keep an eye out in your local stores!

Wild Cards and Iron Horses:

Their love rides on a spring and a prayer…

During the recent Civil War, a soldier risked his life to save Jonathan Handleston—and lost. With the help of an advanced metal brace on his crippled hand, Jon now travels from one poker tournament to the next, determined to earn enough money to repay the man’s debt.

Prosperity Ridge is supposed to be the last stop on his quest, but his brace is broken and he needs an engineer to repair the delicate mechanisms. The only one available is Samantha Weatherly, a beautiful anomaly in a world ruled by men.

Sam is no fool. Jon is no different from any other gambler—except for his amazing prosthetic. Despite a demanding project to win a critical contract to develop an iron horse, she succumbs to the lure of working on the delicate mechanisms. And working with the handsome Englishman.

Like a spring being coiled, Samantha and Jon are inexorably drawn together. Sam begins to realize honor wears many faces, and she becomes the light at the end of Jon’s journey to redemption. The only monkey wrench is Victor, a rival gambler who will stop at nothing to make sure Jon misses the tournament. Even destroy Jon’s and Sam’s lives.

What are the three secrets of being a successful author?

Well, I'm not sure if I'm "successful" by anyone's definition, but I'll play along!

First, get your butt into the chair and write. Something, anything, just write. Ideas are fine but until you put them down on paper they're just floating in the air.

Second, don't be afraid to submit to publishers. Agents and publishers are always looking for new talent and you might just be what he/she is looking for! If you don't submit you can't get published and so forth. Yes, you'll get rejected but you have to learn to let it roll off your back and get back into the game. Just remember that all the authors you enjoy and read had to start somewhere...

Third, Read! Read! Read! Read books on the writing craft, read nonfiction books, read poetry, read fiction in your own genre and others. Pick up that western romance, that medieval book on printing, that science-fiction haiku poetry book. Don't limit yourself to any one genre or area - you never know what will fall into your stories and make them richer and fuller.

Useful links:

Sheryl's website:

Thank you for dropping by today, Sheryl. I'm looking forward to reading Wild Cards and Iron Horses, and I'll definitely be inviting you 'round for another cuppa soon!

* * * *

Are you a published F/SF/H author? Do you have genre-fiction related resources? If so, Toad would like to hear from you. Email Nerine at and remember to put "Toad's Corner" in the subject line.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Meet Hank Quense

Today Toad welcomes author Hank Quense who, according to a family legend, was born around the middle of the last century, but he says no one in the family believes the legend. He lives in New Jersey, about fifteen miles outside of Manhattan, the entertainment center of the galaxy (if you listen to the people who live in Manhattan).

He has three books in print and ebook versions: Tunnel Vision, Fool's Gold and Tales From Gundarland. A fourth, Zaftan Entrepreneurs, will become available at the end of this month. He also has an ebook on fiction writing: Build a Better Story.

Which are the three most important SF works you'd recommend to someone who's never read the genre before? And why?

You asked about SF, so I'll restrict my answer to SF and exclude fantasy. Douglas Adams is number one. After that, Azimov and Heinlein―Adams because he's so off the wall and enjoyable, and because he changed the expectations of scifi; Azimov because he exerted so much influence; and Heinlein because his books, especially the latter ones were such great fun to read.

Do you listen to music while writing and, if so, who are your favourite composers/artists, and why?

I always listen to music while I write. Beethoven and Verdi are my favorite composers. Artists? Kiri Te Kanawa, Sarah Brightman, Dave Brubeck, George Lewis are on the top of my list.

Tell us a bit about your latest release and who it would appeal to.

Tales from Gundarland, published last spring, is a collection of six humorous short stories and two novellas. The common thread is that they all take place in Gundarland, a country located in a parallel universe close to ours. Gundarland is populated by humans, dwarfs elves and other races.

Zaftan Entrepreneurs is book one of the Zaftan Trilogy. The trilogy combines Scifi and fantasy. The zaftans are a nasty alien race who are merely hostile when in a good mood. A zaftan mining ship discovers Gundarland and sets out to plunder its mineral wealth. A dwarf miner, upset by robots trespassing on his land, declares war on them. The novel is part adventure and part corporate and political satire.

I think anyone who enjoys reading Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Chris Moore or Tom Holt will like these stories

Does your environment influence what you write?

I don't think my environment does, but my experiences do. All of my characters (whether deliberate or not) display tunnel vision to an alarming degree. Watching folks interpret events through their own set of tunnel vision filters is one of my favorite pastimes. Just listen to a politician rewrite history (i.e. using tunnel vision) so it satisfies and/or justifies his current position is often amusing and more frequently alarming.

Do you think science fiction will regain some of the old popularity it enjoyed during the 1950s and 1960s?

I'm not sure. Ereaders like Kindle and iPad have the capability to greatly change the way people read as well as what they read. So perhaps the electronic readers will lead to a resurgence of scifi. Possibly because it will be so easy to obtain and carry around ebooks. A further consideration is that the online book stores like Amazon and iStore have a wealth of books that are not available in traditional book stores. For instance, I love to read Tom Holt's novels, but as a British author, his books aren't readily available in book stores over here or in the public libraries. But they are available online and can be instantly downloaded. I find that I buy a lot more books since I got an iPad.

Is there a little bit about your current work in progress you feel comfortable sharing?

I love rewriting Shakespeare's stories; they have such great plots. I also love redoing myths of Merrie Olde England. Camelot, Robin Hood and Isolde are some of the ones I've worked on recently. My current project is a masterpiece. In one short novel, I'm playing havoc with Shakespeare's Hamlet and Othello plays while using another of his characters, Falstaff, as the link between the other two. This could cause a resurgence in interest in the Bard's work.

Or maybe not.

Are there any SF authors you'd recommend readers keep an eye on?

Not necessarily SF, but certainly genre authors: Peadar O'Guilin (an Irish author) and Eugie Foster (an American).

What are your top five tips to aspiring writers?

a) Don't stop. b) Write your stuff, not some other author's stuff. c) Don't get discouraged by lack of acceptance by publishers and agents. What do they know? d) See a), b) and c). E) See d)

Does reading your stories have any possible side-effects?

I'm glad you asked that because there are precautions that should be taken by readers. First, check with your doctor to determine if you are healthy enough to take part in spontaneous laughter. Second, if you are suffering from a contagious disease such as the flu or a cold, wear a mask to limit the spread of airborne germs when you laugh out loud. Finally, no one should read my stories while driving a car or operating heavy machinery.


You want links? Here you go:
You can keep up with my writing adventures at: You can find links on my books on that site.

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