Tag Archives: interview

Author Interview with Richard Flores

April 20, 2013 7:14 pm by MRM in epublishing, Interviews, Writing

Today, I’m doing an interview with Richard Flores, author of Dissolution of Peace and editor-in-chief of Plasma Frequency Magazine, as part of his Dissolution of Peace blog tour. I’ve known Richard for a while via the Hatrack River writers forum, and I think you’ll enjoy what he has to say. At the bottom, check out the cover and blurb for his excellent book. Thanks for stopping by, Richard!


When and why did you begin writing? I really began writing with serious intentions in 2003. That was when I wrote the original manuscript for Dissolution of Peace, though it had no title at the time. But it wasn’t until late 2010 that I really began to take getting published seriously. Why the sudden motivation? I’m not a hundred percent sure. But ever since writing in 2003, the idea of doing it called to me. I finally decided that I needed to do it. It was time I finally realized a dream after having several others not work out. 

What genre are you most comfortable writing? Science Fiction. This is what I read, this is what I love, and I think that’s why it is so comfortable for me. I’ve recently found myself enjoying a lot more Fantasy, so who knows maybe I should try my hand at it. After all stretching our comfort zone is what growth is all about.

What inspired you to write your first book? Dissolution of Peace, my first novel, is largely inspired from the space operas and military science fiction that has come before it. The idea came to me in a passing thought. What if we had peace on Earth? What if the money the world spends on war was turned to science? That sparked the idea. Then I took it to the next level. Would we be able to abandon our “warrior ways” and if not, how long could we really stay unified and at peace? The idea snow balled from that. 

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? The most challenging part is what those outside the writing world think is the easy part, coming up with an idea. People seem to think that everything that pops into their head is going to be the next novel. But taking that fleeting idea and growing it into a novel takes a lot of work. What keeps the reader turning pages? An idea is a spark. Just as a spark doesn’t warm a room, an idea doesn’t make a story.

Have you developed a specific writing style? If I have, I haven’t noticed. I’ve been told all my published works, the three short stories and this novel, are all very character driven. I enjoy my characters the most, so I can see why people see that. Perhaps that will become my writing style.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? My willingness to learn has to be it. I am always reading new articles, books, and posts on writing. I participate in writing groups and workshops. Growth is a necessary part of this industry and I love to learn more about it.

How did you come up with the title? Dissolution of Peace came to me after so much drama. The original title for the manuscript was “Serenity” after the main character. But, as the serious SciFi fans know, the movie of the same title took that. While the association with Firefly might have been good for sales, I didn’t want to make that false promise to the readers.

Instead the name didn’t come until the 11th hour. I was using random generators and other things just to see words. While reading this long list of titles to my wife, none of which worked for me, the idea of dissolution (dissolving) peace really fit what I thought it was about. So I pitched the idea of Dissolution of Peace to my wife and editor. Eventually that was the title I stuck with.

Can you tell us about your main character? This novel centers around three main characters:

Christina Serenity is the Captain of the E.S.S. Australia, an Earth Naval vessel that suddenly finds itself in the critical points between the possibility of war between Earth and Mars. Serenity is a smaller woman, but she has a command bearing. She is respected by her crew, but the Earth Navy sees her age more. She is the youngest commanding officer of any Earth Navy ship. Serenity is a career driven woman and now that she has the command of a ship, she is happy to keep it as long as possible.

Mike Carlson is a Corporal in the Earth Security Forces, the Earth’s global police force. He has been assigned to Protective Services, and protecting Captain Serenity, for some time now. He is a thin guy. He’s not particularly attractive or ugly. He is very committed to protecting Captain Serenity and does not plan to leave that assignment any time soon.

Janice Kanter is an officer in Earth Security Forces and she was just assigned to be Carlson’s partner. She doesn’t care much for Protective Services, she only took a specialty assignment so she could eventually promote and return to a patrol assignment. She isn’t happy to get a military assignment, because that means a year or more working in PS. She also doesn’t care much for shuttle flights. Overall she is bright, an excellent marksman, and very good in defensive tactics.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Messages, to me, are something English teachers tell you an author meant so they can make homework assignments. I write my books with hopes to entertain and that readers will find their own special message in the novel. Novels should speak to each reader a little differently.

 

How important do you think villains are in a story? Villains come in varying degrees. You can have a very likable villain and a much hated villain and everything in between. I absolutely think every novel has to have a villain of some type in it.

What are your goals as a writer? I simply want to continue to produce novels and stories that people want to read. Eventually to a level that writing becomes all I do for a career.


 

When Earth Navy Captain Christina Serenity is brutally attacked by a traitor, her life is saved by Security Forces Corporal Michael Carlson. On the heels of her recovery, her ship is attacked by terrorists, and she is thrown into a difficult assignment. She must chase after the only clue they have, a Martian ship called the Phobos, and find out what secrets it hides. To make matters worse, someone still wants her dead.

Her ship, E.S.S. Australia embarks on a mission that leads Serenity on journey of discovery, friendship, betrayal, and revenge. She quickly learns the only thing harder to prevent than war, is love.

Now Serenity must trust her protection crew to keep her alive long enough to solve this puzzle while trying to prevent an interplanetary war.

The line has been drawn. Who will cross first?

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – PG13 to R (Language)

More details about the author

Connect with Richard Flores IV on Facebook & Twitter 


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Interview with Lena Corazon from the #writecampaign

Another post, and guess what… I have yet another interview from the #writecampaign. I’ve met so many fantastic authors through Rachael Harrie’s idea, I had to share them with the world and let you guys get to know them too. Without further ado, my latest interview was with Lena Corazon.

AnotherHeadshotLena is a doctoral student in sociology from California, a prolific blogger, tumblr, and tweet artist. She writes primarily fantasy and steampunk, with two novels-in-progress. I asked Lena a few questions last week. You can follow Lena on her blog, her twitter feed, or her tumblog.



Michael: You have a very active online presence with your blog, twitter, and tumblr. Do you enjoy social media? Is there a part of it that feels more like a chore than the rest? 

Lena: I have to admit, I adopted social media reluctantly.  I began blogging in May of this year, and my initial goal was to participate in A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge “that knows you have a life.”  ROW80 appealed to me because it seemed like a kinder, gentler version of NaNoWriMo, a challenge that asks participants to work towards measurable writing goals. ROW80, however, is also a blog hop, and so over the weeks I came to meet dozens of other writers and bloggers.

Overall, I don’t find social media to be a burden. For me, it’s a way for me to build much-needed community, to interact with others who understand the strange and bizarre writerly tendencies.  I’ve found that I use each online platform differently. I’m less active on G+ and Facebook than I am on Twitter, which is my primary means of socializing with my writing friends, running across useful articles, and uncovering fun tidbits. Tumblr is a recent addition to my online life, but one that I have come to enjoy. It’s the perfect balance between bite-sized tweets and the longer form of blogging. I use Tumblr as a scrapbook of sorts, where I collect interesting video clips and photos that serve as inspirations for my WIPs. 

The downside to social media is that it’s easy to get distracted from the real work: writing. It can be a lot more fun to chat with friends than to write, edit, and revise, and so I’ve been trying to limit my social time to a couple of hours each day.

Michael: What would you recommend to an emerging writer like yourself who is wondering how to start making his or her own online presence felt?

Lena: While there’s no “one size fits all” answer to establishing one’s online presence, there are three tips that I would suggest based on my experiences. First, get involved with online writing communities. My initial foray into the world of social networking was eased by participating in ROW80, where I’ve met friends who have been extraordinarily supportive of my writing goals.

Second, check out writing challenges and festivals. Participating in Lady Antimony’s flash fiction challenges served to jumpstart my creativity and expose me to the work of other writers who I now count among my circle of friends.

Third, I’d encourage writers new to the world of social media to figure out a spot that suits them best, and settle in for the long-term. Some people love using Facebook to connect with other writers, readers, and friends, but I’ve found that I far prefer using Twitter. It can be really easy to stretch yourself too thin and get burnt out by trying to develop countless online platforms if you’re not careful.

Above all, I think it’s important for writers to remember to be themselves and to have fun. Social media is incredibly valuable when it comes to promoting your work and connecting with readers, but first and foremost, it should be about building relationships with people. Some useful resources include Kristen Lamb’s blog, Nathan Bransford’s recent post on “being yourself” in social media, and Roni Loren’s guest post over at Writers in the Storm about dealing with social media burnout.

Michael: On to the most important part – your writing. Your site mentions your interest in steampunk and fantasy. What attracts you to those genres? Are there any others that you regularly read and/or write or want to write?

Lena: Ever since I was young, I’ve loved fantasy books. I grew up reading writers like Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Lloyd Alexander, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. To me, fantasy offers limitless possibilities where human stories — romance, betrayal, coming-of-age tales, quests — can be told against the landscape of wild and magical worlds.

My foray into the world of steampunk is recent, and it’s borne out of my interest in history, the 19th century in particular.  Steampunk allows us to re-imagine the past, and to also consider the impact that technological advances could have had upon earlier societies.  It also explores both sides of society: the drawing rooms of the wealthy, alongside the gritty underbelly populated by the downtrodden and cast-off.

Michael: What writing projects are you working on right now? Anything close to publication or completion? Do you plan to publish via the traditional route, or epublish?

Lena: Of the 3 novels in-progress I have listed on my blog, my steampunk romance/murder mystery, TELL ME NO LIES, is my primary focus. I’ve written the basic skeleton of the novel, but I’ve got a ways to go before it’s complete.

I’m keeping my options open when it comes to publishing. While seeing my work in hard copy has always been a dream of mine, having the ability to self-publish is incredibly liberating. I’ve been learning a lot, especially watching my writing friends’ ’experiences with self-publishing, and I think it’s something that I will definitely attempt at some point.

Michael: I noticed you have a lot of flash fiction on your site. Do you write flash fiction frequently? What do you like about it? What do you think makes for good flash fiction?

Lena: I jumped into flash fiction on a whim. I never thought I could tell an adequate story in short form, but after writing my first couple of drabbles, I was hooked. I like flash fiction because it provides me with an easy way to jumpstart my creativity. I can usually finish a 100-200 word piece in a couple of hours, so it’s a lot less time-intensive than a novel. 

The flash fiction that I like best are those stories that focus on a single moment, a single breath in time, ones that evoke an emotional response in the reader. I don’t know if I always succeed in doing this, but it’s my main goal nonetheless.

[ See Lena’s Flash Fiction here ]

Michael: You recently changed the name of your site, your twitter feed, and your public online persona. What inspired you to go with a pen name? What made you pick the name Lena Corazon?

The decision to adopt a pen name was a difficult one. I love my birth name, especially because it speaks to my biracial heritage. My mom is black and Native American, and can trace her family tree back to the Emancipation Proclamation. My dad is from the Philippines, and his family’s history is equally rich. However, when I took my professional life into consideration, I realized that it would be to my advantage to keep it separate from my writing life.  As a university teaching assistant and future professor, I’m not sure if my fiction-writing endeavors could be seen as a detraction when I’m on the job market, but I’d rather not take any unnecessary risks.

Lena Corazon is a name that hearkens back to my roots. I picked “Lena” after my maternal great-great-grandmother, and “Corazon” as my private homage to Corazon Aquino, the first female president of the Philippines.

Michael: Have you ever met a famous author? What did you take away from that meeting or learn from him or her?

Lena: I haven’t met a famous author, but I have been lucky to meet two poets over the years: Susan G. Wooldridge, who taught me the importance of using words and honing my creativity, and Alison Luterman, who encouraged me to use poetry to explore my sense of identity. While I write far less poetry than I used to, their lessons remain applicable as I work on my novels.

Michael: Last, what do you do outside of writing fiction? Your site says you’re a grad student (I’m a recovering graduate student myself) – but I didn’t catch what you were studying.

Lena: I’m just starting my 4th year in a sociology PhD program, so I spend a majority of my non-writing time

reading lots of books on social theory and feminist theory, grading undergrad students’ papers, teaching discussion sections, and working on my own research projects. Beyond those responsibilities, I tend to spend a lot of time at the beach, hanging out with friends, and playing video games.


Check out more of Lena Corazon at her blog, Flights of Fancy, her twitter feed, and her tumblog.


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Interview with Liza Kane from the #writecampaign

September 21, 2011 10:29 pm by MRM in Interviews, Writing

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The second in my series of interviews with fellow authors from the #writecampaign is here, and this time I’m talking (okay, emailing with) Liza Kane.

Liza has an amazing blog and a fantastic twitter feed. I’d give you a brief bio on her, but her own is so much better.

According to Liza: “I’m a full time reader, writer, dreamer, though I pay the bills as a store manager. One day, my passion for words will eventually pay the bills.”


Michael: Liza, you have a very involved and interesting blog. I highly suggest that anyone who hasn’t already done so go check it out.

Liza: Thank you so much. Really. I appreciate it, since I blog mainly to keep myself accountable to my goals. So the fact that anyone else finds my blog interesting in any way is awesome to me.

Michael: What keeps you involved and interested to keep posting, tweeting, and reviewing away?

Liza: Ah, I love The Twitter. I’ve met so many friends through twitter and my blog – and they are positive reinforcements to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I enjoy all the feedback, the support, and the sense of community. Even before the outcropping of hash tags, such as #amwriting and #mywana, I found other writers that I connected with really well (and are now great friends with).

For example, I met one of my crit partners (@melissaiswrite) through a #Mockingjay chat. Mockingjay had just been released (I’m talking literally the day before), and there was a general “holy crap amazing” outcry among all the fans. Melissa was one of the readers that I tweeted with about the level of amazing that book was. Melissa also happens to have a WordPress blog, which strengthened our solidarity, since many bloggers seem to have blogspot blogs.

Speaking of blogs, originally I started my blog because I wanted (read: needed) to keep myself accountable to my writing goals. When I turned 30, I was at a high point with my pay the bills job and my physical fitness goals. I experienced success in other aspects of my life, but they weren’t my dreams. I finally acknowledged my dream of writing a novel, and told myself that it’s OK for me to pursue it!

Book reviewing on my blog is new to me, and I’m still on the fence about it, to be honest with you. I’ve resisted for so long. I think I’m still “over” writing about books from my English Lit major days. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about books, but there’s a difference between analyzing books for a literary theory class versus reviewing books in such a way to keep it spoiler-free and also inspire others to read the book. I’m still finding my groove there, but what keeps me wanting to review the books would be an obligation to the publishers who give away ARCs and e-galleys. Also, if I LOVE a book, I want to share it with the rest of the world. I know how important word of mouth is for any business, and I want to support the writing community as much as possible. After all, they’ve provided me with my first addiction love, BOOKS, so I want to pay it back/forward as best as I can!

So, all in all, I blog and tweet because I like doing them, and I’ve been lucky to find similarly minded writing friends, several of whom are now my crit partners!

 

Michael: Does any one part of the social media push feel more like a chore than the rest?

Liza: Hmm… I don’t think so, but mainly because I do what I want. I love blogging, so I blog, and I blog in my own random way. I don’t have a specific agenda in mind when it comes to that. Same with Twitter. I LOVED getting instant responses from my heroes, like @Shawn_Phillips to @MargaretAtwood, and getting that type of access is really amazing.

I can see that if pushing a business or product were my main “work,” then it may feel like work. For now, though, blogging and tweeting are my fun activities, something that I do because I want to, so, I don’t feel like any part of it is a chore, really.

 

Michael: I noticed you have a schedule of books to read that is pretty long, and you plan to have it done by the end of the year. How do you find time to write when you read so much?

Liza: Actually, that schedule is tied to the ARC/e-galley thing that I mentioned above. Those books haven’t been released yet, and I’m currently reading through them so that I can post about them around their release date (spread the word, and all that!)

So, I actually read a whole heckuvalot more than that (I use GoodReads to keep track, though I’m still kind of behind there), and my simple answer to “finding the time” is I make the time to read. I love it, so I do it. A running theme on my blog is “Find solutions, not excuses.”

My easiest solution is prioritization. Like, I need to pay the bills, so I need to go to my job. And, my husband kinda likes to spend time with me, too. But, I don’t necessarily need sleep, so I choose not to sleep, especially when my reading marathon bug hits me.

Side note: my last marathon was the first week of August when my paythebills job was at its most intense. I already preplanned a writing hiatus that week, but was swept away with a need to read. Like, for reals, yo. I read eight books in less than a week, one of those books being The Passage by Justin Cronin. That was an 800-page monster of a book, and I’m proud to have crossed that off my to-read list in that crazy, hectic week!

Michael: According to your author bio, you have moved around a lot in your life. How does that affect your writing?

Liza: I think moving around has affected my overall outlook on life, which of course, influenced my writing life.

Moving so much created a weird dichotomy within me, part dreamer, part ridiculously practical/independent, and I choose to think of this dichotomy as a good thing.

I didn’t really attach myself to one place, so I don’t necessarily have a single place I think of as "home." New York would be the closest. I didn’t live on Maui, but the few times I’ve visited I’ve always felt like I was returning home. Similarly, I don’t necessarily identify with a specific people group, much to the chagrin of my thoroughly Filipino parents and extended family. But that’s OK, since my experiences inspired me to dream up strange and distant worlds or to make the familiar unfamiliar (or vice versa).

Overall, moving so often has made me thankful for anything I have, and made me cherish the relationships I can build (probably why I embraced social networking tools like Twitter, since I’m able to connect with those who are far, far away!). It’s made me appreciate the little things in life, and not put too much stock in things. Believe me, the less you need to pack and unpack, the better!

It has also given me a need for change, a restlessness that drives me to be better everyday of my life. I’ve had to rely on my own ideas and opinions, and trust my gut instincts to make business decisions, and I thank God everyday that so far, my instincts have led me well. It’s that relentlessness that keeps me going, and I hope it will keep me going as I pursue a career as a novelist.

Michael: Speaking of your writing, where and when can we buy your books?  Do you plan to epublish or go the traditional route?

Liza: Alas, my books are hardly finished, let alone available for purchase! But, I want to say they’ll be available wherever books are sold, I just don’t know when! ;)

And, I am planning on the traditional publishing route.

Michael: Your second novel is a YA Sci Fi piece. What attracts you to YA? And Sci Fi? Do you think you’ll ever expand into other genres?

Liza: WIP2 is YA Sci Fi because the story lends itself to that category.

In terms of “writing YA,” I think CS Lewis says it best:

"A children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good ones last."

Also, I like my friend Carol Miller’s tagline: “I write YA Paranormal because every time I try to write cathartic, literary fiction, my characters end up weaving magic with one hand while flipping me off with the other.”

Though I write YA, I don’t consider myself a YA writer. Especially at this stage of my writing career, I prefer to think of myself as a writer of stories, and leave the genre labeling for later. I enjoy my freedom of being able to write what I want and not think about marketability and audience.

But, in terms of writing other genres, I already know that I will. As of this moment, I have two other WIPs burning a hole in my brain, waiting to be written, not to mention the ridiculous ideas that flit through my mind on a daily basis. All four of my WIPs are in different genres (dystopian, science fiction, fantasy, contemporary), and one of them is adult.

Michael: I notice you have a widget tracking your progress at 20000 out of 50000 words. How did you pick 50K as a target word length?

Liza: 50K is the magical NaNoWriMo word count length for novels. I have that up there more for “mindset” issues rather than thinking that my novel will be finished at 50K words. You know what I mean by mindset, right?

Michael: Kind of…

Liza: Like, a project may seem ridiculously huge and daunting, and where am I going to start, but when broken down into manageable chunks, it’s really not that bad? Well, 50K is really not that bad. ;)

Realistically, the rough draft of this novel will probably land me closer to 80K words. It’s a rough estimate, but in considering how long my scene/chapters are, where I am in the actual story, all I need to get me to The End, I’m thinking 80K is the shorter end of the estimation.

Michael: Are there any indie writers out there that have really blown you away? Any that you’ve met through this or a previous #writecampaign?

Liza: Well, so many come to mind when I think of indie writers on Twitter. But the one stand-out whose online presence, career, and writing style has impressed me the most? Hands down, Rebecca Rasmussen. She’s an absolute treasure, and her book The Bird Sisters is beautifully written. She is an author role model for me.

Michael: Have you ever met or gone to a talk by an established writer? What did you take away from that meeting?

Liza: The one that comes to mind is John Green. I write about some of my takeaways in this post.

Green spoke a lot about putting aside works in progress that weren’t really ready for him to write – even though one of those works eventually morphed to become The Fault in Our Stars. He recognized that writing something more worthwhile, that would add more beauty into the world, was more important to him than writing something and publishing it because he could. That encouraged me to set aside WIP1 (for now), and gave me “permission” to work on WIP2. I’m so happy I did. WIP2 is SO much fun to write! WIP1 is still very important to me, but I recognize that it’s not time for me to work on it now, and that’s OK.

Michael: Do you write much flash fiction? What makes for good flash fiction, in your mind?

Liza: Ha, NO! I’m definitely a novel-length writer! However, I enjoyed writing the flash pieces that I have written because it made me understand my writing process a little bit more. Plus, it’s sometimes fun to think about a small distraction like a flash piece if my WIP gets too confusing. Writing flash fiction gives me a more economical view of words, and even in longer fiction, I make sure that every word has a purpose in that sentence. I’m not so much concerned about it now as I’m drafting, but in revising the little bit that I have, I know that word choice will definitely be a major concern of mine.

Michael: Are there any entries in the first #writecampaign challenge that you’d recommend? 

Liza: Well, the winners have already been chosen, so I don’t want to seem repetitive but I definitely loved and voted for Jessica Therrien’s Soulless, which won the “People’s Choice” and fourth place for the judging round. I also really enjoyed and voted for MC Rogerson’s Infinite Doors, and that won first place in the judging round.

Michael: What advice do you have for a fellow indie author just getting started creating an online presence?

Liza: Definitely be interactive with your followers/fans. I can only speak from the receiving end of awesome authors out there, but I truly appreciate the time that authors give to answering emails, replying via twitter, sending out signed book plates, setting up chats, etc. I think it’s because I value time so much myself, that I am honestly grateful for any time spent on my behalf.

In terms of actual steps, or the idea of community at all, I would recommend Kristen Lamb’s website, along with her book, We Are Not Alone. I haven’t read her book, but it’s highly recommended by many, many writers.

Personally, participating in social media outlets that you enjoy is important. If you like blogging, but hate facebook or twitter, then just blog! If you prefer facebook to twitter, then good for you (though, I don’t think we can be friends…) ;)

Life is too short to do something because you feel you need to do it (but would rather be doing something else…like write your book). Creating an online presence seems the logical thing to do, but I think that writers get so caught up on creating that presence that they neglect writing and working on their book (you know, the reason behind all the work in the first place). I would even venture so far to say that writing a beautiful novel, and continuing to write beautiful novels is the best and only thing you really need to do to help you build your presence. Everything else is icing on the cake.


You can catch Liza all the time on her Twitter feed or at her blog.


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