The Story of Dave Johnston Family man and Author





And the Sixty Minute Read Series
















Atomic Number Sixty (Sixty Minute Reads Book 1) 




*Where are you from?
Sheffield, UK

I’m not going to lie. I had to look this one up on the map. I’ve definitely heard of it, but couldn’t place it in my head. Think I need a memory upgrade. 


*What exactly is the 60 minute read series?

When I was considering starting my quest to write a book, I first thought about the books that I like reading: sharp, punchy, to the point. No fluff. No fuss. No long, dreary, padded paragraphs. Since my kids arrived, time is also a premium, so short bursts of reading is usually the norm. And thus, amongst all my pooled ideas, the Sixty Minute Reads series was born. Roughly 300 words per chapter, each with its own cliffhanger drawing the reader on, all anchoring in real time around an event or location, with flashbacks and revelations converging to that final, sixtieth minute.

I love the concept of this. Very fascinating and innovative. You certainly deserve a high five.

Fans: Men High Five Each Other

*Do you write full time?

I don’t write full time. I’m not even sure I write part time! I just write as and when the mood takes me. I’m very much a flitter in life.

Hah! I can totally relate to this one.


*Tell us about the protagonist in your new book.

Holly Holloway is hard to understand. She’s strong, she’s sassy, yet in certain situations she acts weak, vulnerable, and well, human. Perhaps she is difficult to like, seems a bit of a bitch, but maybe all things become clear in the end.

Vulnerability is always a keeper in crafting a protagonist. Readers tend to relate to that more than anything.

*Is this a stand alone book or beginning of a new series?

It is very much a series. I love my concept, there’s so much scope.

That’s awesome. Sounds like it definitely has potential. 


*What genre do you mainly write in? 

Young Adult: this is to be a series of Thrillers, but I have also written a YA Adventure novel (yet to be published)

YA definitely has a lot of market appeal. I love to read in this genre too!

What inspired you to become a writer?

I used to read books a lot as a child. I was really encouraged by my family, and would consume book after book, even walking to the bus stop banging into lampposts. Writing seemed to come naturally later in life.

That’s awesome. I cracked up at this. Picturing you banging into a lamppost while reading was hilarious.


What’s your GOAL  in becoming a writer?

I think I have already reached my goal: to become a published author. Perhaps my new goal is to become a multiple published author.

Goal achieved. Multiple publications sounds very desirable. 

What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

Time, desire, imagination.

Time: I work full time, have a young family that I love spending all my free time with, and climb as a hobby when I can.

Desire: I find it hard to WANT to edit my books. The thought of endlessly correcting my work seems to eternally stretch before me, so I put it off and off.

Imagination: My own imagination runs away with itself, such that when Draft 1 is complete, I am already off and thinking about the next book or books or series of books.

Ah, yes. These are the three heavyweights. Time, desire and imagination. 


What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

To get that first book in paperback. To see it on our bookshelf at home. To think that one day my children will pick it up and read it and know that their Daddy created it. That it might inspire and spark their own imagination and dreams and loves. Motivation, got it in spades mate.

I guess that would be pretty surreal seeing your own book on the shelf.

What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

Only my self. The wandering, writers mind. If only I could type as fast as my brain can think.

This wandering mind can be quite a problem sometimes. 


Have you ever wanted to give up your dream? If so, why?

I’ve given up plenty of times. When the rejection letters came through from an industry that is only interested in the “painting by numbers” writing approach. When I had 10 chapters left to write and I couldn’t be bothered. When my laptop ran out of battery. Any excuse really.

Well, I glad to see your book online!

Why do writers give up, quit, or never complete their projects?

From a personal point, I would say that human modesty plays a large part. Imagine writing down all your thoughts and ideas, and then letting somebody else read them. Or worse, your friends, family, the guy next to you at work. It’s weird, right? But you get over it. You get supported. You realise you’re being silly and life is like that sometimes.

I suppose we have to develop very thick skin to survive. 


What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

Why give up? With self publishing such an easy, free, accessible ride these days, you can publish to the world, and then learn from your mistakes. No need to tell anybody you know, maybe even write under a pen name, but put it out there. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste. Lots of people won’t like it, but if you’re proud of it, then there will be people out there who will be too. Don’t write for everybody, write for yourself.

I tried to beat my reading addiction……Worst two minutes of my life. -Unknown

If a book is well written, I always find it too short. -Jane Austen

Whatever you do keep writing…..






Benjamin Thomas


Contemplating the Writing Life with Writer Rochelle Deans



Hi Folks! 

Welcome Back 

To the Story of the Writer 

Interview Series











History has reaped the countless benefits of those who tell stories. Of those who wield the untold power of the written word embedded in print, as well as the heart. Their word transcends even the ultimate barrier of time, as if their prose seeks out a soul for a tear, dollop of joy, a praise or a cheer.

What is the path one takes to become writer? Everyone has a different story. What laid the tracks before them? No two paths are the same. What inspires this particular breed of humanity? Come let us see–The story of the writer.
















Rochelle Deans



Rochelle is a freelance editor, author, lover of quotes and the smell of real books. She has written Harry Potter fanfiction, three novellas, a short novel and currently working on her third manuscript. I personally know Rochelle as a fellow writer through our AWESOME Facebook group, Wordplayers. Which was created and supported  by none other than the international bestselling Jedi Master K.M. Weiland.




You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or
what inspired you?

I’ve been a writer for pretty much my whole life. But I was exclusively a songwriter and poet in middle school and high school. I actually had a friend who signed my senior yearbook with something about how she knew I’d publish a novel someday and I laughed and told her I didn’t have the patience to write something that long. I graduated college with a degree in writing and literature and some AWFUL short stories to my name. It took me a few years to recover from the pressure of school (and realizing that I wasn’t a natural-born genius storyteller), but I decided I wanted to give novel-writing a try. So I did what any (in)sane person would do, and I turned to fandom. I knew from the aforementioned short stories that I wasn’t good at coming up with dynamic, believable characters or putting them into dire situations. So I thought maybe if I used some characters I already knew were dynamic and believable, they would remain dynamic and believable, and I wouldn’t be so scared to hurt them, since they weren’t mine. I wrote Harry Potter fanfiction for two years, graduating from 1,000-word stories about the main characters to, eventually, a 50,000-word story that took place 1,000 years in the future and involved entirely original characters. Then, finally, I felt ready to write the book I wanted to, which was a YA dystopian novel. That was two books ago. I’m currently working on a YA contemporary.

Wow that’s quite a wealth of experience there. I’d love to see your songs, poems and YA writings! 











What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

To write sentences as beautiful as John Green’s are in a plot that keeps readers turning pages. On the level of “what do I want to accomplish for myself in this career?” I would love to be able to do even a small book tour to schools and book stores and maybe even get shortlisted for some award. That would be awesome. But obviously, those aren’t reasons why I write. Mainly, I feel convicted to write stories about people struggling with their faith. Young adulthood is a time when so many kids begin to question the faith of their parents and the way they’ve grown up, needing to move into a faith of their own. Usually, this time also involves things that contradict the Sunday School answers we grow up with. So my goal in writing is to ask the hard questions and try to provide answers. Usually those answers are bittersweet.

That’s great you know what you want to write and who your target audience is. Not everyone has that you know. Young adulthood is definitely a time of trial for a lot of young people struggling with their faith amongst other things.





“The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday.” -David Schlosser






What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

Pregnancy, young babies, and a day job. Most notably, I had the idea for my most recently completed MS in the summer of 2013. I started collecting ideas for a story in which everyone knows the day they’re going to die and got ready to write it for NaNoWriMo that November. Unfortunately for the book but fortunately for my life as a whole, in October I found out I was pregnant with my oldest child, and it turns out that morning sickness and trying to write 50,000 words in a month while working a full-time job aren’t really compatible. Surprisingly, I did manage to write 42,000 words for that book in 2014, when my daughter was between 4.5 and 5.5 months old, and finished it in the summer of 2015.

Rochelle that’s AMAZING. Keep writing! I really like the idea that you mentioned.  







You fail only if you stop writing – Ray Bradbury 




What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE).

One of the main things that keeps me motivated is my writer friends. Two of my critique partners are 2016 debuts, and seeing their success spurs me on. They are awesome cheerleaders, keeping me on track and promising me that my stories have potential.

We have the same motivations! Having great writer friends and being fueled by their successes is quite invigorating. Birds of the same feather tend to stick together. We’re not alone! 









What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

My biggest antagonist is honestly laziness. Writing books is a lot of work. Some days (*cough* like today *cough*) it’s easier to stay in my pajamas and watch my kids play instead of doing the hard work of writing, revising, and rewriting a story worth telling. Now that I work from home, it should be much more doable to get things done. But I’m not the kind of person that can be trusted with a lot of free time.

I can completely relate to this struggle. It definitely requires discipline and character to whip out a complete manuscript. Sometimes its hard being your own drill sergeant. 





Drill sergeant with moustache






Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects, and what would you say to inspire them?

Honestly, if someone would have told me in 2012 when I started writing my dystopian novel that I’d be sitting in 2016 working on my third book and yet I was still agentless and book-deal-less, I probably would have given up. I was so sure my first novel would sell and do well that I actually made plans for when I’d quit my day job based on when I was going to query it. (This is me laughing at my past self.) Still, there isn’t much I’d change about the past four years. Yeah, I’m working on my third manuscript, but in the meantime I’ve had two beautiful children, made some awesome writing friends, learned a lot, and, to my biggest surprise, kept getting ideas for stories. Writing is HARD, and it’s a long game. To anyone who wants to quit, I would just say, “If you want to keep writing, even just a little bit, keep at it. Keep practicing, even if the writing is only for you. You never know what could happen one day. From what I’ve seen, the publishing industry moves at a glacial pace… until. When you hit that ‘until’ things start happening so fast you forget to breathe. So enjoy the slowness, enjoy getting to know your writing style, and especially enjoy learning, because if you don’t enjoy learning, there is no way to enjoy writing as a career.”

YES. This is great info. Totally soaking in this statement. I agree, writing is more like a marathon than an all out sprint.  Thanks so much for sharing!




Thanks Rochelle!!



You can connect with Rochelle on twitter at @RochelleDeans, or on her website at








“…enjoy the slowness, enjoy getting to know your writing style, and especially enjoy learning, because if you don’t enjoy learning, there is no way to enjoy writing as a career.” ~Rochelle Deans







The six golden rules of writing: 


-Ernest Gaines








~I will write my way into another life. – Ann Patchett







Writing is such communicable beauty; a mutual flight of feeling between author and reader. -Benjamin Thomas







“Writers aren’t exactly people….They’re a whole bunch of people trying to be one person.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald










Whatever you do….keep writing.






Benjamin Thomas


Author Interview with Karen A. Wyle












Wyle author photo number 2



Karen is an Appellate attorney, author of several novels, picture books, a mother of two, a photographer, political junkie and a Indiana Hoosier fan. 













*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

I wanted to be a novelist since at least the age of nine. I can’t remember exactly why, but my family greatly valued literature and education.


Those are very good values to have in family! 






If a story is in you it has to come out -William Faulkner





*What’s your GOAL  in becoming a writer?

(a) To create interesting characters with whom readers can empathize, and embed them in thought-provoking stories. (b) To have people read what I write.

I share the same goals as you. To create interesting characters that people care read and care about. Easier said than done though!




boy with the typewriter. Retro style portrait






*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

When I was younger: lack of anything particular to say, difficulty getting words to flow, and lack of confidence. Now: nothing.

Impressive progression here. My main problem right now is completing my first project.




*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

Unlike the world in which I formed and then (for decades) abandoned my ambition, the current literary era allows authors to publish without the approval of gatekeepers or the investment of large sums of money. That means I’ve been able to find readers who have enjoyed and cared about my work – and that keeps me motivated.


Finding those who truly care about your is one of the greatest motivations!  But also, as you said, being able to publish your work is critical. 







                                                      Your readers





*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

When I was younger, besides the obstacles already mentioned, I encountered a last straw in the form of a teacher (graduate student teaching undergraduates) who casually mentioned in public that I did something well for someone who “[wasn’t] a born writer.” Through years of failing to find the right medium, the right genre, or the right story, my lifelong belief that I was indeed and exactly a “born writer” had kept me going. That moment was my excuse to give up writing fiction for several decades. (About one decade into that span, I found a few of her books in a bookstore. I am not generally someone who hates, but if she had walked in at that moment, I might have assaulted her. And I will admit enjoying some schadenfreude when I discovered, perhaps three years ago, that none of her books appear to be in print.)


I hear this from time to time about someone in faculty. How someone had a negative impact on a potential future author always surprises me.






I find your goals—rather disturbing, young Jedi…




*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

Many writers still feel the need to “be” published, aka traditionally published, and give up after multiple unsuccessful attempts to find a publisher.


Many writers continually second-guess themselves, self-editing constantly, which greatly slows their output. National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo or Nano), an annual online event which challenges writers to complete a very rough draft of a novel at least 50,000 words long within the month of November, is a great way to overcome this tendency. At that pace, there’s no time to self-edit.


They’re are many potholes on the road to publication. Not to mention that that road is always under construction.




Potholes warning sign.
Illustration of the writing journey





*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

If that writer still wants to write and is unhappy with having given up, I’d suggest giving NaNoWriMo (see above) a try. There’s no commitment involved: you can dive in with minimal preparation and see what the next day or two may bring. That’s how I started what became my first novel, Twin-Bred, and I’m now preparing my seventh novel for publication.


NaNoWriMo is an excellent way to begin! That’s what gave me a boost last year in my project.  2016 NaNoWriMo is just around the corner!






“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” -Steve Jobs







Connect with Karen on her website at, on twitter at @WordsmithWyle and find her books on Amazon at Karen Wyle.  


Get a glimpse of some of her writings below!



Closest to the Fire - cover for distribution -  smaller








TBRE ebook cover lower res for distribution









Twin-Bred Collection - smaller for distribution










Wander Home ebook cover - small for Spotlights-etc








Reach ebook cover - smaller for reviews etc







Playback Effect ebook cover - small and low-res






Division ebook cover, lower res for web









Leaders eBook Cover - lower res











“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” -Nathaniel Hawthorne




 Someone out there is waiting for your next book, keep writing-Benjamin Thomas








Benjamin Thomas



Author Interview: A Time with the Awesome Kylie Day




Story of the Writer Series


There’s a story behind every writer.  The author is not only a storyteller, they are a story. Let’s find out more about today’s guest, Kylie Day!


Welcome Kylie!




A word after a word

after a word, is power

– Margaret Atwood






Kylie Day



Kylie is a blogger, author, introvert, professional coffee addict, incurable reader, and apparently she sings in the shower.

Yay shower singing. I love shower singing. (beat-boxing is epic in the shower)



Let the show begin…



*You’re from Sweden, I think? What’s it like?

Yes, I currently live in Sweden. It’s not like living in a small county as Sweden has affected my writing. The internet gives everyone a chance at being international, no matter where you’re from or where you live, and I think that’s really exciting. Especially for writers who have the chance to reach millions of people with their written word (whether that’s actual books or blog posts).

Awesome.  I love the ability to be international. The opportunity to reach millions with our words is at our finger tips!













*What’s your genre?

I write non-fiction for writers, and then have a pen name for my fiction stories which are set in the fantasy genre.

I have all of Kylie’s Busy Author’s Guide books. They’re purposefully short and designed to get you back to what you love to do—writing!




unnamed (8)



Kylie penned the The Busy Author’s Guide Box-Set 1: 4 books 


  • How to Outline Your Book with Pre-Outline questions

  • How to Outline Your Story with “What If” Questions

  • How to Get to Know Your Story’s World with Wordbuilding Questions

  • HOw to Get to Know Your Characters with Character Interviews




“A writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist.” -Vladimir Nabokov









*You studied literature in college correct? If so l, tell us about your studies and what led you in this direction.

Yes, I’m still working on a Master’s Degree. My love for reading was what led me to study literature. Literature has always been a big part of my life so it wasn’t a difficult choice. And my studies have also given me the opportunity to develop my own writing skills because I’ve been given the opportunity to read and study works of fiction that I might’ve never thought to read before.

Kylie, I would love to pick your brain regarding your reading experience and what you’ve learned in literature. You’ll have to come back!



*What have you learned about the craft? (Don’t hold back let her rip!)

Wow, that’s a huge question, one that can take me hours to answer. But at the end of the day, what I’m most excited about having learned about writing is that the first draft is always crappy. The important thing is to get the story written. If you don’t get the first draft done, there is nothing to work with. And, honestly, the real work starts when the first draft is done. While that notion scared me a couple of years ago, it’s become a huge relief to me now. My first draft can be bad, really bad (I usually skip descriptions because I move so fast through the first draft), but I know that I can add that when revising the draft. So, instead of going back into the story every day, just to add descriptions I think are necessary, I skip that completely until I’ve finished the first draft. This way of writing has made it so much easier to finish my first drafts, something I struggled with a couple of years ago, and I’ve actually finished more first drafts the past year than I’d done during the ten years previous to that.

I love that. This is so true!  I’ve slowly been learning the same principle. You can’t edit a blank page. Nor can you revise a blank one. You’ve got to get it out of your head and onto the page. Without the clay there is no pottery. This is my experience with poetry, fiction and even blog posts!










*Can you tell us a little about your current WIP? (Work in progress)

I’m currently working on an ebook on character creation for my non-fiction. My fiction WIP is actually a series of short stories that are set in a fictional fantasy world that’s quite dark and gritty, a bit gothic, mysterious, and corrupt. I can’t say that I’ve read anything like it before, so there’s nothing I can really compare the series to, but it’s a lot of fun to write.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Keep us posted!



*How long have you been working on your WIP? (Work in progress)  I’ve been pondering mine for at least 2 1/2 years now.

I think the idea to the first story in my fiction series came to me at the beginning of this year (January or February). I’m editing the first two in the series and have just finished outlining the 6th story, which I will begin writing any day now. The ones I have at the moment are between 4.000-10.000 words, so they don’t take very long to write. And I’ve been lucky enough to consistently get new ideas, which keeps the ball rolling.

Awesomesauce!  Totally looking forward to reading it!




*What’s it like publishing non-fiction? I’ve been thinking about this a lot and would love to publish some someday.

Publishing non-fiction is quite simple, really. One of the differences between fiction and non-fiction is that non-fiction is categorized into a niche instead of a genre, and you can get a lot more eyeballs on your non-fiction because of the targeted keywords you can use (both in the keywords list on Amazon, but also in the title and sub-title of your book). One of the things non-fiction is used for a lot nowadays is to grow the business behind the book. The book may serve as a lead magnet to an online course or to get people to hire you for speaking gigs, etc. But you don’t need a business to write non-fiction. My initial thought behind my own non-fiction was (like I said before) to get my thoughts out on paper. I didn’t think about creating a whole business out of it. With that said, it doesn’t mean that I won’t create online courses on writing in the future (I do have some ideas, but I also need time to execute them properly).

I have several ideas for non-fiction and can’t wait to dive into it. 











*Can you tell us a bit about your blog? And desire to help other writers? I personally have benefited from your blog and appreciate your writing.

I started my blog as I started writing The Busy Author’s Guide, to get my thoughts about the craft of writing out of my head. Then, as I began to develop The Busy Author’s Guide series I saw the blog as another means to help writers who might’ve been as overwhelmed as I was. I read a lot of books on writing long before I started the blog, and I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I was with all the information (which actually led me to spend more time reading about writing than I actually spent writing). The idea behind the blog and The Busy Author’s Guide then became that smaller steps were easier to take. The Busy Author’s Guide are short ebooks because I don’t want writers to spend time going through yet another full-length book instead of writing. I also believe that exercises actually lead people to take action, so that was always a big part of the books. The blog has developed into something more than the books, I think, and some of my focus on the blog is to inspire people to write. I do have posts with exercises and such, but I also publish story structure case studies because I believe story structure is such a big part of writing fiction


Check out Kylie’s blog at: The Writing Kylie. Please see below for links to recent posts.









*Do you have any favorite quotes?

Neil Gaiman wrote in an essay, something like: “You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions. The most important of the questions is just, What if?” I love that quote because I use it all the time when I outline my stories.

I love the *what if* question. The possibilities are endless. 





“I love the possiblity of fiction” -Benjamin Thomas





*Favorite novels or writing books?

I have to say that Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art is a must read for all writers (all creatives, really). The passages about resistance are golden and has helped me a lot.





The War of Art by Steven Pressfield




*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?


What initially inspired my writing was that I needed to sort out the things I had in my mind. I’m also a very curious person, so I ask a lot of questions and spend much time searching for answers. I’ve learned that keeping my mind open – and my eyes – to the smaller things in the everyday life has helped my creativity a lot.

Reading books was what initially sparked my interest for writing. I think that a lot of people in my generation were influenced by the Harry Potter series (as was I). Those books were the starting point of my own more serious approach to writing fiction (I’d done it more for fun before). The whole process behind writing fiction was then the foundation on which I created The Busy Author’s Guide series. I wanted to get my thoughts of my own writing process out on paper, and while I wrote The Busy Author’s Guide I also honed my process of writing fiction. So, while my focus right now is on fiction, writing non-fiction has helped me develop as a writer.

I can’t wait to pick your brain regarding your reading experience. Come again! My other interview series is called, Forensic Lenses. An investigative and exploratory approach into the mind of voracious readers. 








*What’s your GOAL  in becoming a writer?

My goal has always been to publish fiction. At the moment I’ve only published non-fiction but am working on my fiction writing as well. I don’t have any further goal at the moment.


Drop us a line when you get close to finishing your fiction. Pinky promise?









*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

I can’t really think of three things, but the one thing that’s hindered me before is a major one: fear of judgement (which I think most creatives have). That can be really crippling.

Yeah, I think fear is pretty much universal. Don’t let fear hold you back from your dreams! Let’s show him who’s boss.





Sparring Fighters


Sparring with fear—knock em’ out!





*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

The thought of making up stories by writing them down for the rest of my life is what keeps me going. I can’t think of anything I want more than that.

YESSSS. I’m in the same boat.


*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

Again, fear of judgement or fear that people won’t think I’m good enough is something I struggle with. But, at the moment, my determination to meet the goal of publishing fiction is stronger than any fear (let’s just hope that lasts :)).

We all have that fear. But hey, let’s put a good fight! Our determination is much stronger than anything fear can muster up. 










*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

I think that a lot of people quit because they doubt themselves or because they realize that writing something (whether it’s fiction or non-fiction) is a lot harder than they thought.

These are valid reasons. Doubt is a big one. Hard work is the other. 



*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

If you have a story inside you, then I urge you to keep writing. I’m sure that your story is worth sharing. Sure, all of us have our good and bad days, and we may want to quit on our bad days. But if you stick with it, write the crappy first draft, work hard on edits, and get your story out in the world for others to read, you will feel like the struggle was well worth it. 




“If you have a story inside you, then I urge you to keep writing” Kylie Day



Thanks Kylie!  


Connect with Kylie Day:  Contact info









The pen may be heavy, but hey, keep writing!!!!!









~If you don’t finish your book who’s gonna  feed our eyeballs? -Benjamin Thomas







Hungry young boy is staring and smelling a burger
Hungry readers….















Benjamin Thomas


Solid Inspiration for Struggling Writers with Brianna da Silva












World poverty





“You have to be a terrible writer before you can be a good one or a great one.” ~Brianna da Silva





We may be from different lands, cultures, backgrounds–But one thing is abundantly clear; we all speak the same language of grief. ~Benjamin Thomas







Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
Brianna da Silva




Everyone please welcome Brianna da Silva! 


Brianna is a YA fantasy writer, bookworm, Christ follower and is currently editing her novel and novella. You can find her tweeting encouraging words @Brianna_daSilva and blogging at The Story Port, a blog for storytellers…And by the way, her site is AWESOME. There’s something so mesmerizing about it.


*Where are you from originally? 

Virginia… the land of misty fields and muggy summers! Before that, Pluto, I think.

Pluto to Northern Virginia, must’ve been quite a road trip.



*What are you studying? 

I actually graduated two years ago. My degree is in Digital Arts and Design. I get paid to make things. (AKA do magic.)

You look SO young I assumed you were still in college! 



*I love your blog! Tell us about it. 

Aw, thank you! My blog is called StoryPort. ( I write about storytelling techniques as I learn them, and give updates about my own epic fantasy projects.






*Can you tell us about your languages that you are developing? 

Ooh! I get so excited about my languages. (I’m a nerd… can you tell?)

I have many in development, all inspired by various real-world tongues and writing systems. I’ve tried to veer away from the cliché Middle-Earth-sounding languages.
For example, one of the major languages in my current WIP, Emergence, is called Mosori. It’s a crossover of traditional Hawaiian and modern Spanish. For fun, I’ll teach you a phrase:
An aki ma’hani.

(Say: on aw-KEE muh-HAW-nee)
That’s an idiom that basically just means, “It’s all good; no worries!”

That’s cool! Thanks for sharing. I love the name Mosori and the sound of that word. For those of you who don’t know, Brianna and myself are crazy about languages. 






Brianna’s work in progress




*You’re writing Science fiction & Fantasy right? 
Almost… I’m writing epic fantasy, but I definitely have ideas for SFF down the line! 😉

That’s great–But I totally forget what epic fantasy is, honestly. Definitely sounds epic though. 


*Tell us 3 FUN facts about yourself.

I was home schooled through high school.

I once ate zebra steak in Namibia. (It tasted surprisingly like… steak.)

I have a pixie cut. More importantly, I actually am a pixie.

Home schooling sounds extremely difficult from a parent’s perspective. Zebra steak sounds rather appealing. I’d totally eat it with BBQ sauce…And I suppose you could pass for a pixie! 




*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you? 

I started writing when I was three years old. Well, I could only dictate back then, but I knew from a very young age that I was meant to be a storyteller. When I was eleven, I first became introduced to epic fantasy and young adult literature. It has remained my main passion ever since.

Wowsers! I’m always amazed by those who start their passion early in life. Brianna I’d love to have you back and pick your brain on your reading experience. 





*What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

My goal is simple, but ambitious! I want to make a living as a self-published author, blogger, and filmmaker. This is just not a hobby for me; I’ve taken my vocation very seriously since I was a kid.

Wow that’s great! You’re pretty focused. I fully hope you achieve your’re dreams.


*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT) 
A constant flow of ideas. In my early teens, I never finished anything, because I was always working on at least half a dozen projects at once. I was passionate about all of them. But since then, I’ve learned to be more focused.

Perfectionism. The first true novel I ever finished took me four years to write. And it was terrible. After that I adopted the iterative process of writing: Get down a rough draft quickly, and don’t worry about making it perfect. Then edit, edit, edit. The results are better this way, and it’s much easier to finish each draft!

Fear. While I wouldn’t say fear has prevented me from completing a project, it has certainly made it harder to reach that finish line. Fear of failure, fear of creating subpar work, and fear of vulnerability through art all plague me on a constant basis. Pushing through this fear is what gives me the freedom to create.

The constant flow of ideas is a source of trouble for me. Staying focused is a challenge. Perfectionism is problem for a lot of writers I’ve talked to. Fear is another frequent nemesis.  But I guess suffering is inevitable with anything you truly love. Romance always comes with turbulence.







*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE) 

Creating stories gives me a deep sense of purpose. When I’m writing, it feels like something I was made to do, even on days of stress or insecurity or self-doubt. Also, my mind is constantly bustling with ideas. What would I do with them otherwise?

Creating stories with a sense of purpose seems to resonate well with me, and I’d rather be bustling with ideas than have none at all!


*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way? 

I might say time. I make time to write almost every day, but it still feels like I never have enough of it. (Can’t we all relate?) And I have so many stories bubbling inside me. They’re impatient!

I just thought of this today. The lack of time. I want to kick my job to the curb, shoo everyone away and write. Just write; story after story after story, until my heart’s content. 




if not now when




*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

I think fear is a major factor. Creative people typically struggle with perfectionism, but the thing is, our standards are always higher than our abilities… and they should be! It means we’re constantly improving.
I think what can happen is that while writers are in the formative years, while they’re still growing and their craft is still rough, they can run into discouragement. This stage is where writers need encouragement and affirmation the most. But if they don’t get that, they may be overwhelmed by the sense that they’re “not good enough,” and give up before they have the chance to reach that level.

This is a very good word to hear. I don’t claim to be a perfectionist, but I do struggle with elements of the same mindset to some degree. 






Have you made peace with imperfection? See yourself in a different light for a change. A change in perspective changes everything.



*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up? 

Listen up, friends, because I’m going to give it to you straight: Everyone starts off terrible. It’s the truth! It’s the same if you’re learning an instrument, a sport, or any other skill. You have to be a terrible writer before you can be a good one or a great one. Writing isn’t about tapping into some magical inner gift that was bestowed upon you at birth. It’s about tenacity. It’s about remaining teachable like your life depends on it. It’s about learning and practicing and never giving up. So, don’t be discouraged if your craft isn’t where you want it to be yet. Just keep going. You’ll get there!

Oh, I love it! This is great encouragement. This goes back to what you said earlier, our standards will always be higher than our abilities. Or, you could say, we don’t measure up to our own expectations. We consciously or subconsciously expect our abilities to match, or even exceed,  our ever-ethereal standards. Then we slowly begin to suffer from the self-inflicted wounds of introspection, discouragement, doubt, settling in like stone. Our hopes and dreams hemorrhage on the spot, and the rigamortis of writer’s block comes in to finish the job.




“A goal without a plan is a wish” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery






“It always seems impossible until it’s done” ~Nelson Mandela






*Tell us about your current WIP (work in progress)

Here’s the synopsis for my WIP, Emergence:
The Empire of Dorina has never been challenged… until now. Invaded by a powerful enemy bent on massacring their people, the Dorins act in desperation: They send courageous ambassadors into the vast, untamed wilderness beyond their borders to seek aid from two legendary cities.

There’s only one problem.

If they can find the cities… if they can survive the journey… there’s a high chance these cities will join their enemies instead.

Kindy Sharrow, a fifteen-year-old Nocturan with bat wings, claws, and night vision, previously had to hide from the empire, which cruelly slaughtered her kind for sport. Now, required to join the war against the invaders, she must fight her own demons: A secret drug addiction that is slowly killing her. And she has one, ultimate goal: Destroy her arch enemy, Charris Pouden, and his lustful desire for her, before he gains enough power to destroy her first.

Kindy finds herself entering the war with her younger brother Jensen, and new friend Lasía, a mysterious archer with a pet battle wolf. Together they fight against the bloodthirsty invaders, and journey into the heart of the wilderness to find the only two cities that will save them.

But as they begin to learn more about the empire’s secrets… a dark history buried in ashes and drenched in blood… they wonder if their enemies are not so wrong for wanting to annihilate them after all.

The bonds of friendship will be tested. Alliances will be questioned. In a story of political intrigue, ethics of war, and young love, one question must be answered: Which side will you join?

That sounds like an great story!  I believe you’d be a great storyteller. Go for it! 








~Fear can paralyze you…Unless you make the first move. -Benjamin Thomas






~DISCIPLINE is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. -Jim Rohn

















Benjamin Thomas


Story of the Writer: Interview with Ian Townsend




Everyone Please Welcome 

Ian Townsend







Welcome a fellow writer, blogger and Wordplayer from our Facebook group. Check out Ian’s blog over at The Town’s End Tribune .



Let the games begin






“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” -Mark Twain









* Were you born and raised in Texas?

I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Despite not living in the state since I graduated high school (minus a 9 month period when I was stationed in Corpus Christi), it is still home to me. Hopefully, in the near future I will be moving back!

Awesome, I love Texas!  



*What did you read in your early years?

When I moved past children’s books, I started out reading the things that my parents had on the bookshelves. It was mostly sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, mysteries, and horror. Some of the authors stuck with me, but I eventually branched out and found authors and stories that I liked. I read as often as I could, and I loved going to the used book stores to search for hidden or gently used treasures.

I always enjoy learning how others got started loving reading. 







*Any particular stories that had a major impact on you?

The Bazil Broketail series by Christopher Rowley is, hands down, my favorite series of all time. It wasn’t all that popular during its time, and you can’t find it anywhere except in paperback, but no other story influenced my imagination as much as that one. There is also the Fuzzy Papers by H. Beam Piper. The simplicity of the story showed me that you don’t have to beat people over the head with details to tell a great story.

It’s fascinating how certain stories resonate with certain individuals and not with others. The other mystery is how these stories seem to ignite, inspire and influence our imagination.







*Who are your favorite characters?

Bazil Broketail is #1 for me, because he is not only the namesake of my favorite series, but he is the heart and soul of everything great about the book. There would still be a good story without him, but he makes it extraordinary. Harry Dresden of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher really got me interested in using magic in my stories. I also loved the humor and “Hard Luck Harry” feel about him. Aspar Whyte from the Kingdom of Thorn and Bone Series by Greg Keyes is a great everyman character. All he wants is to do is protect his forest and be left alone, but with the world going crazy all around him, he has to leave his comfort zone to protect people he has come to care about, and to try and help ease the madness that has gripped the world. He’s not a superhero, and he’s not your prototypical protagonist, but he will do anything to protect what he loves, and that makes him a hero in his own right.

Nice. It’s amazing how one character can make an impact on us. Now it’s our turn!




*Name your top 3-5 favorite authors.

I’ll start off with John Scalzi, who has written a lot of great sci-fi. His Star Trek spoof novel Redshirts was highly entertaining. Jim Butcher’s works influenced me to begin writing again, via his connection to Deborah Chester. When I got my hands on her writing book, I began seeking out other writing advice, and here I am now. Jim’s urban fantasy and new steampunk work are very good reads, and they are so immersive. I can always see exactly what the book is saying in my head. Then, of course, there is Christopher Rowley. I wish that he had written more of the stories in the world he created, but after the seventh book in the Broketail series, he moved to a different genre. That fantasy world is the one that I can’t help but return to for inspiration.

Inspiration is great isn’t it? Its contagious nature is powerful.



*In your opinion who are some of the top authors of the century?

To me, being a top author doesn’t have to correlate with the most successful one. Jim Butcher and John Scalzi are recognized in their fields, but they are not giants in the writing world. I still think they are top authors of the 21 st century, in my humblest of opinions. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child always put out compelling stories together in the mystery/thriller department that are far better than most of the well-known writers in the genre. There are so many more I could point out, but those four are the ones I have read most regularly over the past 16 years.

This is great. I’ve been asking different writers this question and enjoyed every answer. There’s definitely no shortage of talent among authors. 








Summary of A Mage’s Fire (working title)

When the discovery of his extraordinary magical powers puts his family in danger, Cade embarks on an improbable journey to rescue them. Silas, an outcast mage, has set a trap to lure Cade in so that he may exact revenge and gain favor and glory he so desperately seeks. Cade must learn to control the potent magic flowing through him in time to save his loved ones and himself from the vicious enemies that lurk beyond the borders of the Ferrovathi Empire.

Cool! Sounds intriguing. 




There is no friend as loyal as a book  ~Ernest Hemingway




*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

When I was younger, I did a lot of reading. I would always imagine what if scenarios associated with the books I was reading, and my imagination was always full of ideas and stories. It was never really anything substantial or interesting until I learned how to harness my ability to write in college. I was talked in to joining the school newspaper and it took off from there. What was just an imaginary world in my head began to take shape on paper. Before I learned how to properly write, I had a lot of great ideas, but no understanding in how to expand upon those premises. I would get a fantastic thought, and it would die after the initial burst of creativity. In college, I learned about “going down the rabbit hole” to see where the story led. Journalism is a different world than fiction writing, but there are many similarities that I was able to apply to my desire to pursue being a fiction novelist.

Awesome. This also seems to be the ultimate fascination. How to translate what we see in our heads into stories on the page. 







*What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

I want to make a living as a fiction novelist. I want to do something with my life that I can put my heart and soul in to, and this is my brass ring. Writing is a love that I have always had, and after college, it was a pursuit that has been who I am. I had to set it aside for a long time, but now I am going after it again harder than ever before.

Go after your dreams! I’m doing the same myself.




*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

The biggest hindrance for me has been my job in the military. After college, I was working for 2 newspapers and I was also working a part time job in retail. I loved my writing jobs, but I wasn’t making ends meet. I joined the Navy to follow family military tradition and to pay the bills. This didn’t really leave me time to write. I put it on the back burner to focus on the military, and I would take stabs at it when I could. Another thing that has hindered me is myself. I doubted my abilities to actually write something worth sharing with others. You are your biggest critic, and if you tell yourself you can’t do it, you won’t. The third thing that has hindered me from being productive is creative atrophy. If you don’t work your creative muscles, they will stop working. When I would try to work on things, I would hit walls because my creativity wasn’t in shape. I would get frustrated and give up, and my creativity would atrophy even farther.

I can totally relate to this. Trying to keep the drive alive so to speak, is difficult. 



*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

When I decided to really give writing another shot, it came with the realization that I didn’t want to spend 20 years in the military. My wife has been working on her Bachelor’s degree in music performance, and we always talked about her achieving her dreams of playing viola in a big time orchestra. She had times where she wanted to quit, but I always talked her through it, and told her to never give up on her dreams. I realized that it was time for me to start focusing on what I wanted. The military wasn’t it. My sports days were long over, and I was not going back to journalism. It was time for me to really focus on being a fiction writer. So I began working on it. Right now, I am just getting my skills back in shape and doing what I can to keep it in my life on a constant basis. Being a part of my wife’s pursuit of her dream has kick-started my chase. Setting my future goals is also helping my motivation, because now I have something to shoot for.

Seeing others go after their dreams is so invigorating and encouraging.













If you can dream it

You can do it 

-Walt Disney





*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

The biggest antagonist I have is myself. I control what time I set aside to write and how much effort I put in to it. I am my own worst enemy, and the only way to beat me is to keep doing things in small doses. I have been taking my process in small increments, which has helped me space out the work. By doing this, I have been able to create a stable platform to work on and I keep myself from overloading. I also keep myself from creative starvation, because I am not doing everything all at once, and leaving nothing in the tank. You will constantly fight battles in your own head, and the only way to win is to find a way to work with yourself. (I realize I sound like someone with multiple personality disorder, but don’t all novelists suffer from this?)

I know this all to well. By the time the day is over whatever fuel writing is on fumes. 





*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

There are so many answers to this question. You could ask 100 different authors and get 100 different answers. I think the ultimate REASON is the writer. Whatever factor plays in, the writer is the common denominator. If the writer wants to get the book done, they will. If there is a will, there is a way. It can sometimes take years, but if they persevere, it will get done. If someone gives up, then ultimately, the writer is the reason that the book failed. Life is fluid and ever changing, so for a writer to completely give up on a project is for the writer to fail. I am guilty of this. I have thrown several projects in the trash, and that was a failure by myself as a writer. No idea is unsalvageable. Never give up on an idea. One day, many years later, you may finally be able to complete it, but not if you throw it out.

I believe writers are pretty resilient. You have to be in order to complete something like a novel. Thanks for sharing! 




Thanks for stopping by Ian!  Glad to have you on the Train!






No one can stop a dreamer with wings  ~ Benjamin Thomas











Benjamin Thomas



Author Interview: Discussing Comedy with Ana Spoke










Everybody please welcome



I am a self-published author and an unbridled enthusiast, moonlighting as a middle manager. I started my blog with one purpose – to finish a novel. The good news is, that after almost two years of constant writing, editing, and more editing, I have finished one. It’s a comedy, and it is now available on Amazon. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing.

The sequel to Shizzle Inc, Indiot is now AVAILABLE. Ana also blogs about the book marketing game over at . Have a look at the “book marketing” tab for lists of resources and my personal experiences testing various marketing gimmicks.



AnaSpoke face only



Fo’ shizzle


Ana is also the founder of Comedy Book Week. An awesome event with an official website, over 60 participating authors and 111 books! It should be even more epic next year! If you’d like to sign up see the link above or contact Ana.
























* What part of Australia are from? Were you born and raised there?

I live in Melbourne, Victoria, and it is currently the middle of winter here. I was born in Russia, but I’m technically Ukrainian, and I’ve lived in the US for 14 years. Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia but, arguably, the largest center for culture and arts.

Wow a world traveler! Melbourne sounds like a neat place.


*What’s Australia like?

It’s great, if you don’t mind the kangaroos, which are everywhere. Just kidding! Australia is more laid back than the US, but just like the US, it’s huge and varied in climate and local culture. In the US, I lived in Florida, so I still can’t get used to Melbourne’s crazy weather – it really can have “four seasons in one day.” Yesterday it was freezing and raining with hail (that’s the middle of winter for you), but today the sun is up and it’s warming up quickly. In summer, it’s not that unusual to have temperature drop by 20 degrees Fahrenheit in a space of an hour, when the wind changes direction and starts blowing from the Antarctica. To make me even more miserable, while I’m freezing here, I hear it’s almost 90 degrees in Darwin, Northern Territory.

One of the things I like best about Australia is its multi-cultured mix of people. In Melbourne, about 40% of residents were either born overseas or had at least one parent born outside of Australia. So, being a foreigner is not such a big deal, and I felt accepted from the very first day. Such a mix of people also means you can get any ethnic food you desire, and it would be authentic, too.

Another thing that’s different from the US is that in Australia, most people live in cities, so the rest of the country is barely populated. This means a lot of untouched, wild “bush” nature. It also means crazy property prices in the city, tiny apartments, and tiny backyards, if you are lucky enough to have one. I think most Americans would struggle with the size of an average family home here.

Sounds quite fascinating!  It’s good to experience different cultures. Thanks for sharing your experience. 




*Where did you go to school? What did you study?

I’ve gone to school on three continents! I’ve studied landscape architecture, microbiology, environmental science, and project management, and have 1.3 Ph.D.s to show for the total of 13 years of full- and part-time study. I’ve never studied literature or writing, but over the last 2 years I’ve put myself through a self-designed and managed Masters of Self-Publishing (sort of). I blame it all on a combination of curiosity, short attention span, and a life-long addiction to the endorphin rush that comes with achieving goals.

That’s quite a blend of academic studies. I do remember when you were agonizing over your debut comedy novel Shizzle Inc. in some blog posts. Now it’s out! Impressive.




* What was your career track before pursuing writing? You mentioned about being a middle manager on your blog.

Still doing that, although I am currently finishing up my five-month long service leave. I work in a government agency, managing a small group of people and putting together management strategies. Maybe that’s why I could not resist starting #ComedyBookWeek – I was missing the rush that comes from organizing something new and nurturing it to grow into something big.

That’s again very impressive. Especially since it’s something fairly new and grew so quickly. You’re hired!



* Do you have any major hobbies you enjoy?

Currently the only one, obsessive, and all-consuming hobby is writing and marketing. I’ve had others– from breeding rare fish to kiteboarding, but they tend to come and go (see the previous comment about short attention span and endorphin rush).

Ana, I have to say, you’re a very interesting individual. I’ve never heard of kiteboarding and organizing anything makes my eyes cross.



Young man with Work in progress mark over his head
My brain on organization




*What’s your genre and why? Will you branch out?

My life-long genre is humor. It’s in everything I do, so even if I ever write something different, it will be funny. Perhaps a hilarious erotica series?

I love it. Everybody needs a good laugh right? 



*Tell us about your upcoming book, the sequel to Shizzle.

Indiot follows Isa Maxwell to India, where she was supposed to help a mysterious prince win back his fortune. She also hopes to convince the prince to use his wealth to help the orphans, and maybe write a book about it. Needless to say, noting goes as planned. It’s a mad romp that goes from bad to worse, and then, just as she sighs with relief, it plunges her even deeper into trouble.

Sounds wildly entertaining! I’m finishing up Shizzle now and will press on to Indiot very shortly. 




Indiot for Kindle June 21 2016


(Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 2)


*What have you learned in your experience writing Shizzle?

I think the biggest lesson was to trust myself and to believe that somewhere in the world, there are people who would enjoy reading my books. I was so insecure about my ability to tell the story of Shizzle, Inc., that it took forever to finish it, and then even longer to get the balls to self-publish. Along the way, I just wanted someone to say, “Hey, this is not absolute garbage!” Now, thanks to my fans, I have an audience that’s eagerly awaiting Indiot’s release, and already asking about the third installment. It’s an amazing feeling, and a powerful fuel to keep going.



New Shizzle Kindle cover 21 June 2016


Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1)




*Can you tell us about your experience in self-publishing and marketing your book?

I’m strange in the sense that I now love the experience of self-publishing, and even more so –marketing. I had a lot to learn – the launch of Shizzle, Inc. was basically me saying “Thank God, it’s finished” and pressing “publish.” It took me another three months to publish a paper copy and to figure out some of the basics of book marketing. This time around, I am better prepared. The ebook and paperback are available at the same time, I have some early reviews thanks to fans willing to review ARCs, there’s paid marketing, Goodreads and Amazon giveaways, and of course, #ComedyBookWeek. Fingers crossed, all that effort will pay off. More importantly, I am learning so much, I have no doubt that the third book will be even better.





*You’re a writer; so what’s your story? What inspired you to take this journey?

I think I was meant to be a comedian – books are just one of the outlets for my never-ending clowning around. I literally can’t put a lid on it, and keep my colleagues laughing at work, and my family at home. At one point, I was even a comedy actor but, unfortunately, you have to wait for someone else to give you a role and write your material. With books and my blog, I can channel my gags straight at the audience – no middle man necessary.

I wanted to be comedian when I was a kid. I can totally relate to you on this level. 



*Now that you’re published what’s your GOAL (S)? What’s the next step?

One of them is to continue writing the Isa Maxwell escapades series – I’m not finished yet or, rather, Isa is not finished. I trust she will tell me when she’s had enough. I also want to write a new book, and have a multitude of ideas noted down – it will be a matter of choosing one. It will definitely be funny, although it will have a different “flavor.”

I’m all too intrigued to see what you come up with next. You got me on my toes.







*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

Lack of self-belief had to be the most significant one. I consider myself to be a confident person, but even so, it’s pretty scary to say to yourself, “Hey, I think I can write a whole novel, and make it worth someone’s time.” The second obstacle is time – my “regular” job is demanding, and it’s hard to be creative after a full day. And finally, lack of knowledge – with the first one, I had to study plotting, character development, and editing alongside of writing the actual novel. If anyone is writing their first book, I would highly recommend undertaking a self-designed Masters of Writing. There are so many books on writing to choose from, plus you may find local courses or online resources. And if you want Cliff Notes on self-publishing and marketing, then read my blog!

A lack of self-belief is a big one across the board for majority of writers. I can relate to the lack of time! Especially after work and kids. Writing is such an subjective process it can be overwhelming for new authors. Then the objective side of learning the monstrosity of putting together a complete novel is a large undertaking to say the least.



*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

A vision of myself as a full-time writer, plus the positive reviews on my books. I have read and re-read the reviews many times over, and each time I vividly imagine that person, laughing out loud on a train or “snorting tea everywhere.” That’s what keeps me going, especially after I get an occasional bad review. There are people out there, on the other side of the planet that have never met me, but have loved reading a story that I made up and published. It’s an amazing “head trip” for me.

YES. I’m so happy for you AND very jealous.  I’m also one of those far away peeps cracking up when everyone else is asleep.








*What’s your main ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way of you accomplishing your goals?

Some unpublished writers think getting published is the only hurdle. Currently, I’m the boss of my antagonists and demons, and ploughing away every day. Again, this is thanks to the small successes along the way – positive reviews, supporters of my blog, and sales of my books. There have been times when I’ve questioned my investment of time and money, but I got up in the morning and kept going, and the Antagonist got weaker and weaker. I don’t think I will ever be completely free of self-doubt, but I’ve learned to manage it. Marketing your book is a much bigger hurdle than publishing. I hope writers understand and embrace it – and hey, it can even be fun! I would say that unpublished writers should have reasonable expectations of sales of their first book, and then continue working every day on improving their craft, as well as packaging, marketing, positioning, platform, and all that jazz. It’s a snowball, and it takes a long time of pushing it around before you start seeing it grow.

This is great info and inside scoop for us newbies looking to get out feet wet. Thanks Ana! I’m glad you keep going despite the hurdles you had to overcome. You must be good at track I suppose?




Overcome growing obstacles. Business concept. Render.




*Why do writers give up, quit or abandon their dream?

I have not studied this enough, but I would say self-doubt coupled with negative feedback could kill any dream. I would recommend striving for smaller, intermediate goals on your way to “success,” whatever that may mean to you. That way, there are bursts of positive energy all along the way that will keep you going.

Good practical advice here. That way we don’t set up ourselves for failure. 



*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

It’s a very personal issue, and this industry is not for the faint of heart, so I would ask them what it is they really want. It may not be writing – in my case, for example, it’s the desire to make people laugh. There are other outlets for it, such as acting or stand-up. If, however, the person truly wants to be a writer, I would tell them to stop acting like a victim, get it together, make a plan, and try again. What can I say, my Russian is showing.

This is good stuff here. I like your Russian.



*What else is coming down the pike for you?

Well, #ComedyBookWeek is shaping up to be quite a celebration. It’s hard to think it was just a vague idea six weeks ago, and now it’s an event with an official website, over 60 participating authors and 90 books. Based on the level of interest I’ve been getting over the last few weeks, the next year will be huge. Another sharp learning curve for me, and another blast of endorphins. Bring it on!













Stay connected with Ana! 



Shizzle, Inc: Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1

Indiot: Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 2







I thought about a few famous quotes, but decided to live the interview with a fresh one. My nephew-in- law has written a musical called “Einstein, Master of the Universe.” One quote from the play truly resonated with me:


“Pursue a problem, and it soon becomes a prize.” It worked for Einstein, and it would work for any of us.



Keep Writing




Benjamin Thomas



Interview: with Author Melanie Marttila



Story of the Writer


Everyone please welcome Melanie Marttila 






Melanie is a science fiction & fantasy novelist-in-progress, a published poet and short story writer and all around awesome person. I first met Melanie through our awesome Facebook group entitled: THE WORDPLAYERS. Sounds cool huh? Because it is!





Are you originally from Canada?

Well, this is an interesting story (but I may be biased). I was born right here, in Sudbury, Ontario, and when I was about a year and a half, my grandparents built themselves a new house. My parents decided to buy my grandparents’ old house, where my dad had grown up.

It gets better.

After I spent a few years away at university, I returned to Sudbury, married, and, once we both had stable employment, my husband and I bought the house from my parents 🙂

The land on which both houses stand was part of a farm that my grandfather had bought, back in the day, and to finance the building of their new house (which my parents eventually moved into after my grandparents passed) they sold off some of the land to the city.

So I live in the house in which three generations of Marttilas have lived, on the street that bears my family name. Beside my mom. My writing room was my bedroom growing up. How cool is that?

I mean, some people might think it’s BORING, but, you know. Cool. *smiles*


I keep meeting great writers from Canada, it’s wonderful! I seriously need to go there one day. Look out Canada!






What’s it like?

Sudbury is a mining town in what most people consider northern Ontario. If you look at a map, we’re actually smack in the middle, about an hour and a half drive from Manitoulin Island in Georgian Bay, which is part of Lake Huron.

We’re the site of an ancient meteor impact, which is where all the stuff mined here came from and why Sudbury is called the nickel capitol.

Sudbury is also on pre-Cambrian shield, ancient mountains that have been ground down by glaciers. We have a chunk of it in our basement 🙂

When I was a kid, open pit smelting had blackened the rock and consumed most of the trees as fuel. In the 60’s, NASA came up here because the landscape, at the time, was very much what they expected to find on the moon . . .

The International Nickel Company (INCO) built the stack (to divert the sulfurous smog produced by smelting the nickel), changed their refining processes, and started to recover the landscape that had been ravaged by their previous practices. Now, we’re lovely and green again—in the summer, anyway. Winters here are pretty hellish.

Having said all that, my family was never involved in mining. Sudbury is the kind of place that gets into your blood, though. That’s why I came back and have made my life here, despite the winters.

Our area of Ontario is dotted with lakes that have formed in depressions in the pre-Cambrian shield. Outside the city, it’s considered prime cottage country.


Sounds like a memorable and scenic place. 



How long have you been writing?

Egad. Since I was seven years old.



Wowsers!  I have a seven year boy right now. Writing is not his strong suit, its reading. But it’s amazing you were able to begin writing stories at such a young age. 




What was your career path?

I worked in retail from the age of thirteen through high school, had some interesting jobs in university—canine security patrol and video camera person and editor for a company that filmed show jumping and dressage shows across Canada and down into New York—and after graduation, I had an unreliable series of contracts in libraries and academia. My sister-in-law made me aware of an opportunity with her employer, and now I’ve been working with that same employer for fifteen years.

I’m currently in L&D, learning and development. Call me a corporate trainer. I’m a certified trainer (and certifiable, some would argue), but still working toward the goal of being able to leave my day job for my true passion, writing.

That’s an interesting mix of jobs there. I love how it always comes back to writing in the end. 







I find everyone’s story so fascinating. Normally it starts early in childhood, then comes back full circle with a full blown passion of writing. 











“The journey, not the arrival matters.”

~Michel de Motaigne








What did you study in college?


BA in English Literature, rhetoric emphasis, cum laude, thankyouverymuch 😉 MA in English Literature and Creative Writing.

Ouch, that sounds difficult. But it does make me very curious. I’ve only had one creative writing class in college. Got an A. Makes me feel smart. 



 You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

I was in grade three. I’d just gotten a puppy and wrote what might be called a “personal essay” about her. So I was already writing. I just hadn’t really caught the bug. Yet.

Then . . . IT happened. The students of the grade five class wrote and illustrated their own storybooks and were invited to present them to us.

One of the grade five students, a girl named Siobhan Riddell (isn’t that a lovely name?) did her own version of St. George and the Dragon. I didn’t even remember the rest of the stories. I wanted to take Siobhan’s home with me and read it and look at the pictures, over and over.

The thing you should know about Siobhan is that she was an awesome artist, even then. She grew up to become a professional artist and then, that bastard cancer took her from the world 😦

But that was the moment. I made my first submission—to CBC’s Pencil Box, a show that dramatized the stories of their young viewers—that year. I wrote the Christmas play for my class the next year.

And I’ve been in love with words ever since.


That’s such a lovely story! I often wonder what it is that ignites in some children to become writers and not others.  I suppose some just “catch the bug”. Love that expression.






A luz do outro lado da ponte



What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

To write. Pure and simple. Writing is (almost) everything to me. It’s my spiritual practice; my counsellor; my companion, and my comfort. I feel off when I can’t write for whatever reason. I have said that I’m going to write until age and infirmity—it’s going to take both of them because I’m not going down without a fight—rob me of the capacity.

My self-worth isn’t pinned to getting published, but I can’t see how I can justify quitting my day job unless I can make a decent living from my words. So, I’m doing the work to make that happen.

So far, I’ve had three sales of science fiction short stories, a handful of wins in local writing contests, and a bunch of poetry published in anthologies.

2015 was a year of near misses, long lists, short lists, second readings, and the like. And lots of rejections. I’m also querying an epic fantasy novel, without success. I like to reframe rejections: I’m one ‘no’ closer to ‘yes!’

I’m focused mostly on writing novels now, though, and most of those are fantasy of various shades.

YES. I love your attitude here. “one step closer to yes” is a great way to look at it. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. We wouldn’t mind seeing more of your poetic muscle too. 




What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

I generally finish what I start. I’m diligent (and a bit compulsive) that way.

The three things that keep me from writing as much, or as quickly, as I’d like are:

The day job. It allows me to invest in my writing (conferences, courses, etc.) but—man—would I love to spend my days doing the thing I love.

Actually, it’s just the one thing (oopsie). *grins*


I like that you are DILIGENT. It’s an indispensable character trait necessary for every writer. Without it our stories go nowhere. Our characters go nowhere. Our careers go nowhere. Splendid. You don’t suppose you could lend me some of yours do you? Got an extra gallon or so lying around?






Here’s a picture of Melanie’s desk




What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

The writing itself. It is truly a way of life for me. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

As one of my characters says, I want to be a part of the great voice that carries this age into the future.

Now that’s not arrogant at all, is it? 😛


Not at all. You are very clearly a writer to me. I love your laser-beam-like focus on writing.




What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

Um. Yeah. Day job.

Ah yes, the dreaded day job. The more I dive into the writing realm the less I like my day job. All I want to do is read and write. I’m not sure how that happened, but there it is.



Day Job: I hate you.

You:  I hate you too.

Day Job: I wish you’d quit and go write somewhere.

You: I will, you just wait…







If you have given up your dream, why? 

I’ve never given up. The dream has lain dormant for periods of time (sometimes years), but even when I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about writing, journaling, daydreaming, and doing other creative stuff (sketching, gardening, cross stitch–yeah, that’s what I thought at first, too–and I was even in a musical for a local theatre company).

I discovered Joseph Campbell in my undergraduate years and I’ve really come to understand my creative journey in terms of the Hero’s Journey. It hasn’t been a straight line, or even a circle, as the Hero’s Journey is often presented.

It’s been more of a spiral, kind of like the end of C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle, where the Pevensies, Scrubb, Pole, and the rest run through Narnia after Narnia, in Escher-esque fashion, Aslan urging them, “Further on! Further in!” until they reach their final destination.

My journey has been defined by my threshold guardians. The play I wrote in grade four? The teacher edited my work substantially without telling me or explaining why the changes were necessary. Even at that point, I knew it was wrong, and it seeded a deep distrust of authority.

In grade five, a former friend appeared to offer an olive branch, bury the hatchet, what have you, but only did so long enough to gain my trust and ask to ready my stories . . . to which she took an entire bottle of white out, returning my exercise book of obliterated words only when the teacher made her stop.

The big threshold guardian was my first advisor in my MA program, an icon of Canadian Literature. He questioned my presence in the program and accused me of “wasting his time.” That was the wound that wouldn’t heal, even after I returned to work with a different advisor and finish the collection of short stories that became my creative thesis.

After that, I internalized the lessons of my threshold guardians over the years and my internal editor became monstrous. It’s one thing when other people tear you or your work down, but when you start to tear yourself apart . . .

It wasn’t until another icon of Canadian Literature shared his own trials with threshold guardians that I found my way back to the page.

I’m happy to say I haven’t left it since.


Wow that’s a very touching story with devastating experiences along the way. But what I’m really seeing and enjoying, is your resilience through it all. 




Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?


The new writer is afraid to look silly or expose their relative level of craft to the scrutiny of others.

The experienced, but unpublished, or minimally published, writer is afraid that they can’t be as good as other publish authors, or that their stories have no value.

Even published writers fear that they can’t write another novel as good as their last.

You have to learn to put fear in its place, make it your friend, listen to the legitimate lessons it has to teach you, and then agree to disagree on the rest.

That’s the hard part.


Well said. Seems like fear must teach us many lessons along our journey. To step out there and expose ourselves to the world. For better or for worse. With this in mind, I found a Superhero guy to help us out a little. I call him….CAPTAIN NO FEAR.


  Captain No Fear




Behold some of Melanie’s poetic muscle below.



A Poet’s Apprentice


learning the words;

noun and adjective,

verb and adverb.

Putting them together

in little sentences—

she won’t let me play

with the big ones yet—

But she’s left me alone

just for a minute

with this big cauldron

teeming with


and other viscera.

Before she returns

I grab the ladle

and gulp,

burning my mouth

with the potent brew.

Then I run

me and my belly full of words,

out the Dutch-door,

through the muddied fields

of hay stubble,

to the tree with leaves of paper,

draw forth the quill–

stolen from a feather duster–

prick my thumb

for ink.


I write.

Lovely!  That’s great!  UGH I miss poetry so much. I haven’t written very much lately. You’ll have to come back and grace us with your poetic words. 










*Tell us about your short stories

In “The Broken Places,” a doctor on board a generation ship headed for another galaxy tries to diagnose a strange plague affecting the ship’s crew/citizens. What she discovers in trying to find a cure for the blue skin, void-like eyes, and verbal non-sequiturs is something she never suspected, but if she doesn’t stop the condition from progressing, the crew, and their mission, are in jeopardy. That one was published in Bastion Science Fiction Magazine in June 2014.

“Downtime” is the story of Opus, an AI-borg who achieves sentience, and liberation from her creators, as she learns what it means to be human, and that she’ll never be one. The good people of On Spec Magazine, one of Canada’s most respected speculative fiction markets, published that in their Fall 2014 issue.


Something tells me one day you’re going to hit one out of the ball park. 









*what has writing taught you over the years?

What has writing taught me? Who I am. That quote by Flannery O’Connor, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say,” is very true. The more I write, the better, the more authentic, a person I become. The rest is between me and the page 😉


Oh yes! I love that quote. I’m finding it to be very true in my own experience. Writing things out is a very tranquil experience. There’s no like it. 












Keep writing 

until the pen

runs dry

~Benjamin Thomas







Benjamin Thomas






Story of the Writer: Author James Priest




at the Writing Train


Please Welcome James D. Priest 


Priest-Author Photo


Everybody say hello to fantasy author James D. Priest! He’s the author of the KIRINS fantasy trilogy, a retired physician, husband, father, podcaster and currently enjoying life in Hawaii. You can check out his official home page at



Thanks so much for joining us Jim! 









 *Don’t miss the Kirins Series Book Trailer*




*Where are you originally from?

I was born and raised in Minnesota, went to high school and college in Minnesota, and went on to medical school at the University of Minnesota. However, since then I have lived in Japan, California, and now Hawaii.

Nice. I’ve been to the twin cities a few years ago and to the gigantic uber mall there. I used to live in So. Cal, would love to visit Japan, and never been to Hawaii.  







*You used to tell stories to your friends on the bus. How did that come about? Or how did you pick up the knack for storytelling?

Storytelling on the grade school bus came from what I have since discovered is an ample imagination. In composing my fantasy trilogy, I borrowed a few names from real people or situations, but the vast majority of what I created and wrote is directly from imagination.

I’m lovin’ it Jim. Just by looking at your fantasy trilogy I can see you have a very vivid imagination. 



*What was it about Tolkien that drew you into fantasy?

I loved his world building, creating an alternate universe, Middle-earth, from nothing but his imagination. His conflict between good and evil. His characters, such as Frodo and Bilbo, are genuine and likable. His Gollum is a work of creative art, the likes of which fantasy authors should strive for, as I have with an urgol, Gian, in the third book of my trilogy.

Yes! You’re touching on some of the things I love most about being a writer. CREATING AND IMAGINATION are my favs. Don’t hate me, but I haven’t read Tolkien yet. I’ve seen all the movies though. Gollum is probably the most compelling character to me in the whole book!



*Did you want to be writer before going into medicine?

I think I’ve always had somewhere in the back of my mind that I wanted to be a writer. And I was a writer while in medicine, where I published about 30 medical articles.

Ah yes, I’m all too familiar with this kind of writing. Not my favorite honestly, but necessary. 




*How has studying English in undergrad, graduate school and participating in professional medical writing prepared you as an author?

As they say, practice makes perfect. I think the more writing you do, the better you get. But I’ve also learned that every writer needs an editor. We’re only human, and we need guidance both on a grammatical level, and in the line of reasoning, the logic, of your writing.

Yep, you nailed it there Jim. We desperately need good editors, especially us intuitive types. 



*First, give us a knockout summary of your trilogy.

My trilogy is published in print, ebook, and audiobook. But there is, in fact, a fourth book, a sequel, not yet published.




NO'AN-Book I 1124x1124





My trilogy, The Spell of No’an, The Flight of the Ain, and The Secret of the Hanging Stones, tells the epic tale of KIRINS, a race of tiny, magical beings who live throughout Earth today.

Dwelling in elaborate tree homes and underground sanctuaries, they enjoy a strong kinship with the animals and birds of their region. In the distant past humans knew them well. But an ancient rift occurred between the races, and kirins chose to separate themselves from humans. Sadly, we humans are now unaware of their secret civilization.



AIN-Book II 1124x1124


For thousands of years kirins everywhere lived in calm. But now a mysterious, dark force threatens their existence. Knowing little about the enemy they face, the kirin clans choose a party of five daring adventurers led by the wise magician Speckarin. On the backs of birds they travel thousands of clan-dominions across land and sea to Stonehenge, to save the kirin race. But what the journey holds in store for them, they could never have imagined.



STONES-Book III 1124x1124



In the fourth book, The Seer of Serone, a sequel, Speckarin and his intrepid party journey to Alaska to attempt to bridge the chasm between kirins and humans, and to rescue a kirin lad captured and forced into loathsome service by a human. Assistance in dealing with the offending human is provided by a powerful local wizard, a kirin, The Seer of Serone.

Review by Mary Logue, award-winning writer and poet, author of Dancing with an Alien and Snatched: “Having read all three books of James Priest’s wonderful trilogy, I have nothing but praise. The scope of this work, which takes us from the middle of North America across the Atlantic on the backs of birds to Stonehenge, is extraordinary. I enjoyed every moment I spent with the kirins. Priest’s work resembles Lord of the Rings, but is more rooted in nature and gentler in tone.”

This looks so fascinating!  Love the cover images on all three books. You’ve got some great reviews too on Amazon.



*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

Having always liked the idea of writing, I challenged myself to write in a genre I’ve enjoyed, fantasy. I decided to write a story set in today’s world. Every culture has mythical small beings. In Ireland they are leprechauns, in Norway and Denmark nisse, and in Hawaii menehune. People want to believe they exist in gardens, trees, and nature. In my tale they are kirins. Because I have always liked small things, the story is of a race of tiny, magical beings, kirins, living throughout Earth today, though humans are unaware of their existence.

Wonderful. Creative little creatures!  




*What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

Like most or all writers, to become a bestselling author, and to leave something in this world that will make it a better place.

Excellent. No shame in that.  It shows you’ve got heart! 




Strong Superhero Businessman Heart Concepts
You’ve got heart




*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects?

Finding time to write was a problem while I was practicing medicine. Getting the books into all three formats, print, ebook, and audiobook (self-narrated), has taken years to complete. As with almost all writers, promotion and marketing have been a challenge.


WOW! That’s unbelievable! You wrote these books while practicing medicine, had them formatted AND self-narrated them? That’s more than amazing. Promotion and marketing are challenge, no doubt. 



*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream?

I like to work, but writing fantasy was never work for me. It engrossed me so much that it made me forget about anything else. If I went too long at the keyboard, I would become fatigued, tired of writing. I didn’t want that, so learned to pace myself and take time off when necessary. I never had a specific time of the day to write. I wrote when I could, and loved it.

I am motivated by two factors:

1)  I want to create something for all the world, especially my family, to appreciate, and 2) My books are good, and thus I keep working in promotion and marketing. KIRINS is a fantasy in the classic tradition: epic storyline, an immersive all-new world, great characters, powerful and mysterious magic, plot twists and turns, an immediate threat, romance, and heroism. And the books are suitable for readers 10 to 110. No vampires, werewolves, zombies, blood, guns, drugs, car wrecks, or post-apocalyptic landscapes. No obscenities or erotica. No superheroes, just heroes.

Hah! I love it. Your vision and motivation is very clear.







*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

If he/she wants to be a writer, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.


Amen, and amen. I’ll add, if you can’t pick yourself up, join a supportive writing group. They’ll pick you up and keep you going.









*Who’s your favorite author?

J.R.R. Tolkien




*What’s your favorite quote?


“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” -Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull



Thanks, Benjamin!



Thank you for coming Jim!

Keep writing…


is out there waiting

~Benjamin Thomas





Benjamin Thomas





Story of the Writer: With Greg Spry














Everybody please welcome science fiction author Greg Spry of the Beyond the Saga series!

Beyond the Cloud Nine won silver medal in 2015 Reader’s Favorites Awards in the Science Fiction category, and IAN Book of the year awards nominee for Science Fiction. He writes action-packed hard science fiction with space combat and technology. If you go to his website, you can enter a Goodreads giveaway beginning Jun 23 and ending Jun 30.  I’ve wandered around his site and it really has a nice feel to it. Please go to:


I found Greg to be an all around fascinating person with a great background to write science fiction. He has worked in IT, computer programming, search engine marketing, entrepreneurship and holds a MS Space Systems degree from the Florida Institute of Technology. But above all, he loves science fiction.   There it is folks!



Let’s meet our guest!






*How did you get into science fiction? Early childhood influences?

I’ve loved science fiction as far back as I can remember. As a kid, I used to create Lego spaceships, watch Star Trek and Robotech, and play video games like Final Fantasy and every space shooter I could find. Now that I think about it, my dad used to watch a lot of sci-fi, so I watched along with him.


Yes! I did much of the same thing. Lego spaceships, Robotech, video games, Star Trek, but my brother never let me play Final Fantasy. I begged him to play it but he was quite dedicated to my misery. Robotech is probably my favorite out of this group though. I wish they would”ve made it a longer series.




Sunrise over group of planets in space




*What kind of books did you read over the years?

I remember reading My Teacher is an Alien and plenty of Choose Your Own Adventure books. I read Ender’s Game in late elementary school, the 21-book Robotech series three times in middle school, and classics like To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. Now, I read hard science fiction and self-published books.


I can see you were an early consumer of science fiction. Never realized that Robotech had a book series! My diet mainly consisted of  various cartoons versus books. 


*Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Since a young age, yes. I wrote a couple of full manuscripts in middle school.

This is an amazing feat for a kid in middle school. Some adults haven’t even completed full manuscripts!





*Are you currently writing full-time?

No, I work as a software consultant for an IT company during the day. I’m working toward turning writing into my full-time day job.

That’s great, I’m all for it. A lot of us have the same dream. I certainly think you have the talent to do so.



*Who are your favorite authors?

My favorite authors are Arthur C. Clarke, Peter Hamilton, and Alastair Reynolds.


Nice. I’ve heard of Clarke, but the others are new to me honestly. They must be pretty good!



*Tell us about the Beyond Saga series

The Beyond Saga is my generational, fate-of-the-galaxy-hangs-in-the-balance type of space opera based on elements of hard science fiction. The saga includes the first attempts at faster-than-light speed travel, exciting space combat, cool technologies that are truly possible, first contact with alien races, time travel, alternate realities, and more.


Wow. This sounds like a very juicy series! 


See the Beyond Cloud Nine official homepage






Beyond Cloud Nine (Beyond Saga Book 1)



Book 1, Beyond Cloud Nine (, is the story of the first pilot to fly faster than light and the solar conspiracy that gets in her way. Book 2, Beyond the Horizon (, follows a young ensign as she tries to stop the extermination of a benevolent alien race during humankind’s first interstellar mission. Book 3, Beyond Yesterday, involves travel to Earth’s past to discover mankind’s origins and book 4, Beyond Existence, is the big intergalactic finale in which the human race may perish or prevail—or both. Books 1 and 2 are available now.

Beyond the Horizon was just published May 1, 2016. Read the Beyond the Horizon official homepage. His website is amazing!






Beyond the Horizon (Beyond Saga Book 2)



*Can you take us through your research process?

I’ve immersed myself in science fiction my whole life, so I know the concepts and how things go. With a master’s degree in space systems from the Florida Institute of Technology, I’ve got a solid knowledge base regarding the realities of real space flight. All things space and astronomy naturally interest me, so I’ll use Google to confirm the details about things like the gravity and atmosphere of Titan or the conditions on a planet orbiting a red dwarf star.

At the start of the writing process, I outline at a high level and create basic character profiles. Then I let the story go where it goes as I write a rough first draft. Draft 2 is where I round out the characters, fix plot holes, make sure I’m showing rather than telling, and fill in the fine details. Draft 2 goes to beta readers and/or a critique group and an editor for refinement. After that process completes and the proofreading’s done, the publication and marketing process begins.


AMAZING. This sounds like a pretty refined process. I always enjoy hearing how authors delivers the goods! This is great.




You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you? 

The books, movies, shows, and video games I’ve loved throughout the years have inspired me. One big inspiration was the Final Fantasy games. Anyone who has played role-playing video games knows they’re like interactive books or movies. The great plots and characters in them motivated me to create my own.

My brother would know all about it…



What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer? After being published what’s next?

I’ve self-published two books, and I’m working to complete book 3 and then book 4 in my Beyond Saga. My goal is to generate enough of a revenue stream via book sales that I can turn to writing full-time, which means that marketing is currently my biggest challenge. I’ve been trying out different promotional services in hopes of finding something that works. Ultimately, I’d love to have my books turned into movies. Many people have seconded the notion that the space battles, environments, and plot of Beyond Cloud Nine would work well on the big screen.


Let it be so! That would be cool to see it on the big screen. You never know, it just might happen one day.

Beyond the Saga




What has hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

A market-savvy author knows that each book is an opportunity to sell all the other books. Hence, the more books you’ve published, the more books you’ll sell. My first problem is that the process of writing and releasing each book takes too much time given that I can only write in my spare time. If I could quit my day job and pump each one out faster, I’d make that much more money. I’ve been dumping hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars into promotion without seeing enough results to even offset my costs. If it weren’t for my day job, I’d be declaring bankruptcy about now. So I’m kind of stuck at the moment not being able to write fast enough to make enough money at it.


Ah, that sounds like such a heartache. Drop me a line, I’d be happy to do some book promotion.



What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

I love smart science fiction and creating plots, worlds, and characters. I also believe in myself and think I can do these things just about as well as most anything else that’s out there.


We definitely share the same values in creating plots, worlds and characters. Your confidence is also inspiring. Don’t let anything get you down.



What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?




As previously discussed, visibility and how it takes money to make money. There are some well-known works of fiction out there that are only well-known because they’ve been mass-marketed. Meanwhile, there are other great works that aren’t well-known because a wide audience has yet to discover them. Such is the reality of the industry.


I’m glad I’ve discovered your work! And another reason why I do these interviews is to support authors like yourself. 



Have you ever wanted to give up your dream? If so, why?


I actually got really down in the dumps for a few days after I released book 2. I ran a 3-month promo period prior to publication in which I gave away review copies, put my book on Amazon for pre-order, did Twitter blasts, contacted bloggers, and spent hundreds of dollars. I didn’t do any of that for book 1, yet sales of book 2 paled in comparison to book 1. So I thought if I’m going to pump all that effort into promo and not see results, how can I possibly be successful and why bother to keep writing? I make plenty of money in my day job. If I focus on that, I’ll be far better off financially in the long run, so why waste my time being anti-social and writing in my personal time when I could be out doing more active stuff? But as the weeks have gone by, I’ve noticed a little bit better recurring sales. It’s taken people a while to read book 1 and then get around to reading book 2. While sales are still a long way from where they need to be, I’m more hopeful for the future. I’ve also learned what to do and not to do with a book release, which will help with book 3 and beyond.


This is very helpful to get a view of your experiences. Seems like it’s quite a battle once you get your book published. Probably a lot of writers think getting a book published equals instant success. Thanks for sharing. 




Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

To answer this question, we should put on our business caps. I’ve started several businesses in the past unrelated to writing. While most of them failed, I learned a lot from trying. Every now and then, a friend who wants to start a business will come to me for advice. They have a great idea and want to know how to make it a success. They want to pitch it like in an episode of Shark Tank. What do I tell them? That except in very special cases, Shark Tank is a lie and their idea doesn’t matter. When running a business, the least important factor in success is your product or service. Rather, your business system is what matters. I mean, of course you can’t be selling crap. But things like internal business practices/culture, marketing, sales, customer service, timing, leadership, and everything else surrounding the product or service is more important. Does McDonald’s serve the greatest, most revolutionary food on the planet? Of course not. Then why are they the biggest fast food chain in the world? Figure that out, and you start understanding what it takes to be successful. The point is that the actual writing itself is only a small part of the overall process—and not necessarily the most critical part—of being a successful author.

That’s why I think the single most important thing is passion. You’ve got to be able to conjure up the motivation to keep writing and promoting when nothing’s going right. So I ask people who come to me for advice about whether to start a business if they want to live and breathe their trade for 100+ hours per week. Do they want to not get paid for years until their product or service finally catches on? Do they want to spend far more time on everything else besides the actual trade (writing) that they love in order to make the business successful? Only if you answer yes to every one of those questions should you start that business, or in our case, get serious about writing. So to sum up and answer the question, people who quit don’t have the sustained passion for EVERYTHING that it takes to be successful.


Wow, this is wonderful advice for us newbies. You definitely sound like an entrepreneur to me. Simply being a writer isn’t going to cut it in today’s world. We must be the ultimate entrepreneur. 





(Your name here)



What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

Do you have the passion to keep going? Is this what you truly love? If not, give up. But if yes, stick with it. Even if your writing isn’t very good, if you love doing it and have great desire to improve, you can and will get better. Don’t let anyone tell you writing a book is some mysterious art form that some people are born for and others aren’t. While some people are naturally good storytellers, the vast majority of all stories have certain structural elements in common. Simply put, there are right ways and wrong ways to write a story. You can learn them if you stay open to feedback, do your research, and are willing to put yourself out there.


I’m lovin’ it. Solid words here. Let’s face it, authors are the most resilient people on the planet. We must have an undying passion, a steadfast commitment, and a desire for life long learning.  I love writing and learning equally.  It’s an awesome journey and adventurous process.  Let’s keep the ball rolling!  Woohoo! 



BONUS: What else do you have coming down the pike?

I’m currently working on book 3 in the Beyond Saga. After that, I’ll write the final book 4. Somewhere in there, I’m going to publish one or more of my Bears in Space short stories, which are sci-fi comedies. Think South Park in space but with raunchy adult Disney animal characters. Bears in Space allows me to do some fun venting about all the horrible clichés out there: unrealistic alien invasions where the all-powerful but completely moronic aliens hover their spaceships over our cities like big bullseyes instead of just blasting us from orbit or releasing a virus, cheesy romance novels with the dude with washboard abs on the cover, dystopian apocalypses where the biggest threat is zombies that can’t even move fast enough to jog, and more. After the Beyond Saga, I’ll return to working on Destalis, which was the first full manuscript I wrote as an adult. Destalis will continue to explore the concepts introduced toward the end of the Beyond Saga but with more of a Game-of-Thrones-in-space type of feel. I haven’t decided whether it will remain a single book or if I’ll expand it into a book series.


Man, that sounds pretty sweet. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Write on! Don’t let anybody slow you down.



Thanks for coming on the site Greg! Come again!




There’s also a BEYOND THE HORIZON ENCYCLOPEDIA that lists the following:








Favorite quotes?


“There’s no sense in nonsense, especially when the heat’s hot.” – Safety Not Guaranteed movie. I don’t know why I love this saying. Maybe because it’s so stupid it’s awesome.













Benjamin Thomas