Justine Alley Dowsett Stops By To Visit With The Pukah

Welcome, welcome.  Come on in, and find a comfortable seat.  Today, we’ve Justine Alley Dowsett from Windsor, Ontario Canada down to visit with us.  Justine, do you mind starting us off with a little bit about yourself and where you are from?

  • I’m an author and publisher and one of the owners of Mirror World Publishing.

Do you remember what sparked your interest in writing, and what led you to start your journey?

  • I began writing seriously when I was fifteen.  I wrote two novels while in high school. They were terrible, but great learning experiences. I started writing because all I’ve ever wanted to be was an author.
  • I’ve always read a lot, in both French and English. I can only presume that’s what caused me to want to be an author.
  • My first published book is Neo Central. It’s a YA dystopian science-fiction adventure with a bit of romance thrown in. I wrote it with the help of my sister and a mutual friend of ours. It started as a game actually. We wrote the first draft on a role-playing forum and later through extensive edits, I re-wrote it as a novel.

A fellow gamer-turned-author!  Never expected to meet another one.  Must sit down one of these years and compare notes.  As you progressed through your writer’s journey, do you have an instance that you look back at and say, “There!  That’s when I became a writer.”?

  • A writer, always, but an author… it wasn’t until I had published my first book and was holding the paperback in my hands.

::Chuckles::  Publishing anything is an accomplishment, and to get it into hard copy is even better.  Are you working on any projects that you can share with us?

  • My seventh novel, Unintended launches August 17th! It’s a Shakespearian-style romantic comedy about the unintentional consequences of good intentions.
  • Well, releasing Unintended on August 17th , then working on a top secret writing project while I focus on the rest of Mirror World’s Summer of New Releases. We have a handful more books slated to come out this year.
  • Of course! Here’s the short blurb:
    Four people. Four very different lives. Four tales interwoven.Meet Kenzie en Shareed, the High Clan Chief’s daughter who is sent south to fulfill a treaty by marriage only to marry the wrong man; Kadrean Authier, the Crown Prince who must come to terms with his new bride, even if he doesn’t much like the idea; Garron D’Arbonne, a noble Lord who has been commanded to marry a cool and aloof princess he doesn’t love; and Vivianne Chappelle, a young and ambitious woman who is in love with her abusive father’s manservant and must find a way to avoid having her entire future decided for her.Fate and wills collide in this Shakespearian-style romantic comedy about good intentions and their unintentional consequences.

I’m intrigued by your titles.  Do you have a method to select them, or do they develop organically as you write?

  • I have seven novels… most of the titles are a result of brainstorming, but a lot of the finished novels ended up keeping their working titles. Neo Central is the name of the city the story is based around and Unintended came about as a result of the unintended nature of the story. My sister, who is my co-author, and I didn’t know it was going to be such an unintended success.

With all the reading I’m sure you do as a publisher, has this affected your writing style, or do you manage to keep yours unique?

  • My writing is very focused on the characters and the dialogue. I like both to be believable and engaging. My novels are also pretty much always set in a fantasy setting. I like books that can take you away to other worlds. That’s why I opened Mirror World Publishing, so I could offer just that.

Sounds like you manage to keep your reading from affecting your writing.  Do you have any books or authors who’ve helped shape you into the writer you are today?

  • Anything by Anne Bishop. Her dark fantasy worlds are inspiring. Brandon Sanderson for his action sequences and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon for her romance and sense of realism.

Are any of these someone you’d consider to be a mentor figure for you, or is there someone else to fill that role?

  • David Eddings. His Belgariad series really got me thinking about world building.

I loved that series too.  It sounds like you’ve got a hectic schedule.  Do you find time to read for fun in there?

  • The Family by Choice series by Caroline Frechette. She’s an author and publisher like me, based out of Ottawa, Ontario.

Sounds interesting.  Is she the only indie author who’s caught your attention, or are there others?

  • Many! Mirror World Publishing just took on a whole slew of awesome authors. Sharon Ledwith for one, Rita Monette, Elizabeth J. M. Walker, Matthew Freake… the list goes on. They are all awesome and you can find them on our website. http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com

From everyone that you’ve read to date, who’s your favorite author?

  • Brandon Sanderson, currently. His action sequences and world-building skills are unparalleled. If you like fantasy, I suggest his Mistborn trilogy.

I’ve had someone else recommend that series.  Definitely need to look into it.  Going back to your work, do you ever weave in messages for your readers to find?

  • As with all of the novels we publish, we just want to offer readers a chance to escape the mundane by offering them an alternative world to visit. Hopefully they learn something while there, but that’s not always necessary. My novels specifically tend to share a theme of overcoming adversity.

A message well worth delivering through any media.  Do you ever draw from your own experiences or reality to help give your work an edge of realism?

  • Um… very little of my books are realistic. The characters act like real people would, but the settings and the circumstances are often fantastic.
  • [As for using my experiences:] Only loosely. Sometimes I base characters or character traits on those I have observed in others, but most often everything I write is completely made up.

Do you have a non-family support group to cheer you on when things get rough?

  • It’s still family, but my co-author is my sister. We’ve been through it all together from the first book until now. We are both just hoping that Unintended will be a big success for us.

From where you are now on your writing adventure, do you feel that writing has become your career?

  • Yes and publishing.

If you were to start the journey over again with all the knowledge you’ve gained along the way, would you do anything different?

  • Absolutely not! I love the way Unintended turned out and so did the BETA readers. We’ve gotten some great feedback and I’m really excited about this new release!

What about the challenges you’ve faced along the way?  I’m sure there were more than a few lessons mixed in as well.  Any you can share with us?

  • Not really no. After seven books, I feel I’ve gotten it down to a science. Of course, I’m always learning and improving, but the basic skills are there now. Writing isn’t the hard part, marketing and getting the book to its audience is.
  • Staying focused. It’s all too easy to let a busy lifestyle get in the way, but it’s important to write every day or as near to it as possible to keep your head in the story.
  • [I learned] that I write better when I’m having fun with it. Writing Unintended was a blast and the fun my sister and I had is now filtering through to our readers.

All lessons I think every writer has to learn in their own time.  And, I’m sure many writers have to face sooner or later.  Did you have any challenges with the covers, or did you work with someone to have them designed?

  • Various artists. My favorite to work with is Sara Biddle. www.salizabeth.net. She’s done Mirror’s Hope, Mirror’s Heart and now, Unintended.

Last big question:  What advice would you pass on to your fellow authors?

  • Write every day. Seriously. It’s the best way to stay focused and motivated.

::Looks away a little too innocently::  Hmm?  I do agree, however about keeping your focus when you’re writing.

Justine, thank you for coming over.  Before I close out the interview, any final words for our readers?

  • Give Unintended a chance. I promise you will love it. It’s comedic, romantic and a true escape from reality. Go read it… go on, go. I’ll wait. J

I’ll help spread word as best I can.  Thank you again for stopping by.

If you’ve enjoyed the interview, and wish to connect with Justine, you can find her on the following sites:

Website, Blog (Mirrorworld Publishing), Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 

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Aaron-Michael Hall Stops By To Visit With The Pukah

 

Welcome everyone.  Today, we have the mysterious Aaron-Michael Hall visiting.  Aaron-Michael, why don’t you get us started with a little bit about yourself, and where you’re from?

  • I was raised in a very small town in the Midwest. Being the youngest of eight left me out of the decision making when it came to selecting television shows or a radio station. It was not a democracy. Instead of fighting with my siblings, I would join my mother and read. She would usually have an Andre Norton book out on the sunporch where the chaos inside was barely noticeable. It is there my love for fantasy grew.

What part of the Midwest?

  • Illinois

With that type of chaos, how did you get into writing?

  • I first began writing as an escape of sorts. I cannot count the number of poems and short stories written over the years. The first I remember is when I was six.
  • It has always been a part of me.

Do you have an instance that you can point to and say, “there!  That’s when I became a writer.”?

  • That is an interesting question. To this day, I refer to myself as a storyteller. I do not follow the rules of “writing.” Instead, I allow myself to get lost in my words. Oft times, I will sit at my computer with my eyes closed, writing the scenes playing out in my mind. Whatever I see and hear gets typed just as it is received. I have always written, but never called myself a writer.

That sounds eerily familiar.  Do you remember the spark that started you on your writing journey?

  • Actually, it was the mundane. I love sci-fi and fantasy. However, it appeared all the fantasy characters were the same. The protagonists looked and sounded alike. I grew weary of not seeing any diversity in the peoples inhabiting these elaborate and wonderful lands. Surely, there was more. When I could not find it, I created it.

Since the characters narrate for you, and you have sought to bring some diversity to the written word, do you have a specific style that you write in?

  • No

What about realism?  Do you deliberately incorporate any, or does it just happen?

  • It just happens. I think a good deal of realism can be found in my novels. In every tale, there is reality. The Rise of Nazil trilogy is no different. There is a lot of dialogue and life altering events.

Do you draw from your own experiences?

  • Not intentionally, no. Albeit, each story is a part of me. As such, my experiences and observations no doubt bleed into every word written.

Can you point to any books that have influenced your life, or writing choices?

  • I knew I would have to answer this question at some point. The truth is I have none to list. I have read interviews where authors list five or six great influences. That is not the same for me. I have read many genres over the years and I would have to say all of them had some influence over the “writer” I have become.

Surely there’s one or two that stand out as favorites, or ones that you look up to as mentors.

  • Michael Moorcock, Octavia Butler, R. A. Salvatore, and R. Scott Bakker perhaps.

Any new authors who have come onto your radar?

  • I have seen a few that I am following. I ordered several eBooks and will delve into them as soon as time allows.

Sounds like you’re busy.  Are you at a point you can share any of your current news or projects?

  • My first epic adult fantasy novel, The Rise of Nazil released in August 2015. The second in the trilogy, Seed of Scorn released in February 2016.
  • The final book in The Rise of Nazil trilogy, Piercing the Darkness is on preorder now (May, 2016) on Amazon.
  • The second trilogy, The Shifter is complete. The first novel in the trilogy, The Shifter: Blood of Oisin is currently with the editor. It is set for release February 2017.
  • I am constantly working with illustrators. It is my plan to have all of the major character’s profiles complete before the year’s end.That works, thank you.  I’m intrigued by your title.  Do you have a method to select them?
  • It just came to me as all of them have.

What about your covers?  Did you do those yourself, or work with someone?

  • I have two great illustrators, Predrag Ivanovic and Losmanto Lo. I design all of my covers, and they create them. Predrag is a saint for putting up with me. I will continue to work with him for years to come.

Please give them my complements.  The artwork is stunning!

If you had to start the journey over today knowing everything you know now, would you change anything in your work?

  • No. My completed work was over 1,200 pages. I have edited it down to just under 700 (after formatting 550). I have made all the changes I am willing to make. It must now stand on its own.

That’s a phenomenal accomplishment by itself.  Does that leave you time to read?

  • I read often and beta read for many indie authors.

When you’re writing, do you weave messages into your work for the readers to find?

  • There are many. However, I will let the reader decide which is of importance to them.

With your series progressing, how do you feel about writing as a career choice?

  • Had you asked me a year ago, that would have been an easy, no. However, much has changed. That is a possibility now where it was not a thought before.

Do you have a support group beyond your family to help with any rough spots?

  • My friends and my sister, Nina most of all. She is an amazing cheerleader and does not hesitate to offer her opinion of my characters. She keeps a list of those she would like to find death and the method she would desire.

What challenges did you encounter while writing your book, and what did you learn as you over came those challenges?

  • The scope is large. There are many multidimensional characters with their own sub-plots. Most are intertwined with the main characters as well. I tend to be very verbose and it is a challenge to lessen the dialogue between them.
  • There are several scenes depicting some heinous events in book I. Violence is never used arbitrarily. If the scene is in the novel, it was integral to the plot and characterization. Those are very difficult scenes to write. Other than that, creating the language was arduous yet enjoyable as well.
  • [I learned] too many [lessons] to list! Writing is a wonderful escape and creating worlds is fascinating. Preparing your work for publishing is an extensive process. I had to learn to “give in” and listen to the professionals you trust and hire to assist you.

From where you are now on your journey, do you have any advice you’d pass down to other up-and-coming writers?

  • Write. It does not matter what anyone may say or think about what is in your heart and mind. Do not allow them to deter you from being true to yourself. Continue to express yourself in the manner that makes sense to you. Not everyone will like what you have written and they do not need to. Be true to yourself.

Aaron-Michael, thank you so much for coming over today.  As we wrap up, any final words for your readers?

  • Yes. Thank you. There are thousands of authors. I appreciate each and every one who has taken the time and interest to read my work. I am honored tremendously when someone tells me they have enjoyed one of my books.

Agreed, Aaron-Michael.  Agreed.  Thank you again, it was fun having you over and clearing up some of the mystery about you.

 

If you enjoyed the interview, and would like to connect with Aaron-Michael Hall, you can find him through his WebsiteTwitter, and Facebook.  And if he’s managed to perk your interest in his books, I’ve linked his Amazon page Here for your convenience.

 

If you enjoyed the interview, and wish for me to host one for you, please stop by my Offered Services page and fill out the simple submission form.  I will get back with you soonest to discuss details.

 

 

 

 

Ailsa Abraham Stops By To Visit With The Pukah

Welcome, welcome!  Before much longer you’ll see my reviews of this fabulous author’s books:  AlchemyShaman’s Drum.  Today, you get a chance to meet the lady behind the stories.  Ailsa, can you get us started with a little about yourself, and where you are from while I bring in the tea tray and refreshments?

  • Born on a train nowhere near my parents lived so stateless from birth.
  • Went to University to study drama with an English teaching degree in London. Had more jobs than I can remember, most of them fun. On marriage number 3. Now French national and living in France since 1990. No children but always masses of animals

What about with your writing?  What got you started?

  • From a tiny age I was given Beatrix Potter books which had gorgeous illustrations and fascinating stories. I wanted to make more of them.
  • I must have been about 4. My school reading book was unsatisfactory so I sat down and re-wrote the end. That was how it began- never stopped since

Was that the inspiration for your first book?

  • First book never published – my boyfriend at that time’s looks. It was a Scarlet Pimpernel/Pirate dual personality story.

I’ve read two of your books.  Do you have any new projects or news you can share with us about what’s coming?

  • Just got back from a road-trip to Slovenia from which we had to run away as the frontiers were closing all around us. Did the return journey to France in 24 hours with hardly any sleep. Glad to be home but will make a good story.
  • Book 3 of the Alchemy series, a memoir book by my alter ego Nanny Ab and a work on Healing which my publishers asked me to write. Yes! Asked ME!
  • Yes of course – this is from Book Three of the Alchemy series. “This was a conundrum for Riga. Since her acceptance into the Guild of Black Shaman at the age of seven, she had been a magic-user. All but the most basic of modern equipment was completely alien because her magical energies caused them to stop functioning or, in the worst case with electrical goods, blow up. She had never driven a car, had no idea how they worked and yet here she was, being called by the spirit of one. It had reached across the yard to touch her.Had it been an animal there would have been no hesitation but as a shaman she believed that everything had a spirit. Rocks, trees, water, forests…so why not a car? Especially one that had obviously had such a close relationship with the Duke. They must have been a team. Like a horse. If it had been a horse, would she have hesitated for a moment?Deciding that if the thing had enough spirit to call to her then it was her duty to respond, she lifted the tarpaulin and caught her breath at the gleaming chrome and shining paintwork revealed. A deep green body with the Scottish Saltire flag painted on the roof and, bending down she saw a face. The front most definitely looked like a face with big eyes.She sat down cross legged in front of the car and opened her spirit to it. The sadness and longing flooded into her and it felt almost like pain. So, these machines of the Once-Born did have spirits after all!”

I’m drooling!  And, waiting patiently… sort of.  Do you have an event you can point to and say, “this!  This is when I became a real writer!”?

  • When people on line started wanting more of my creative work. Shortly after I was given a contract by a publisher so felt vindicated in saying “Me awfur”

How do you feel about writing as a career?

  • Erm – it is all I do now I am retired due to ill health so I suppose – yes, if that doesn’t sound pretentious.

I don’t see that as pretentious at all.  You’ve taken the cards life dealt you, and made it a winning hand.  Has that influenced your choice of writing styles?

  • Not at all. I love playing around with all styles. I write comedy, memoirs, fiction, romance… will try my hand at anything.

Is that reflected in your cover creation as well, or did you work with someone else?

  • In both trad published series it was my two publishers but in my one self pubbed I did it – and it shows. Won’t be doing that again. Get professional help is the only answer.

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Sounds like you have your hands full.  With the range of styles you write in, do you weave the stories out of whole cloth, or do you draw from your own experiences and knowledge?

  • My Alchemy series is based on my own life-long experience of pagan religions of all sorts. The rituals quoted are genuine.
  • How much of the book is realistic? All of them? All of it. I draw on my own experience in the Royal Air Force for YTC gay romance, writing as Cameron Lawton.

With such a wide array of genres, and interests, do you have a specific method for selecting your titles?

  • Which one? First one ever published was military so “Yours to Command” became inevitable and the sequel “Cancel Christmas” has happened to both me and current husband in the services.

Have you had any books that influenced your life, and later your writing?

  • Myths and Legends of all sorts, Alan Garner, Tolkien and Sir Terry Pratchett. Surprisingly also the Bible which is a collection of great stories.

What about favorite books or authors?  Any come to mind as a mentor figure?

  • None. I write in my own style which probably is probably a mish-mash of influences by all my favourites.

That definitely can make things interesting.  With so many favorites, have you found any new authors to add to the list?

  • Plenty but the one thing I don’t have is time. I have the books on my TBR list but still cannot read for long without migraine.

Sorry to hear that.  I’ve seen you on Facebook, and you do so much for your fellow authors.  Can I be nosy, and ask who you’re reading now (time permitting)?

  • Yours!

::Blush, gulp!::  Thanks?  I was not expecting that one!  ::clears throat::

Who would you say has been your biggest support on your author’s journey?

  • All my friends on line have been very supportive. I don’t have much in the way of family but they have stepped into the breech and cheered me on.

Were there many challenges you encountered and learned from with the support of your friends?

  • Stickability is more important than inspiration or creativity.
  • [One of the biggest challenges was] time! I am chaotic and find it very difficult to organise my work so end up writing three MS at one time . I am also recovering from a stroke and coma so tend to fall asleep.
  • [Also, writing] the blurbs!

I think every author alive could agree with you on the last point.

What about personal growth?  If you could start over on a book with what you’ve learned now, is there anything you’d change along the way?

  • Of course! I don’t do perfection and I can always see “tweaks” in everyone’s work

Ugh!  Don’t remind me!  (That’s a story for another day, however.)

Going back to a previous comment – that you draw from your own experiences and knowledge – have you used that information before to weave in messages into your books for readers to find?

  • Several. Gay people do their jobs and are People, just like you. Religion  and belief systems should unite people not make them unhappy. If we learn more about each others’ beliefs we will understand and be less condemnatory.

And, the big question that all of his has been leading up to:  What advice would you pass onto your fellow writing travelers?

  • Don’t rush it. Never publish or submit something until you have polished it to death. Just because you CAN self-publish is no excuse for putting out crap. It does all of us no good at all.

Ailsa, it has been an absolute grand time having you over.  Thank you for coming.  As we wrap up, any last words for your readers?

  • Yes, a very big THANK YOU for encouraging me when I am on my knees and for leaving me such lovely reviews. Without you gang, I would have given up.

And, another huge thank you for coming.  May you have a safe trip home, and better health find you soon.

 

If you enjoyed the interview, and wish to connect with Ailsa, you can find her home over on the  Bingergread Cottage, or on Amazon here writing as Cameron Lawton.  She also haunts Facebook Here, and makes appearances on Twitter Here.

 

If you enjoyed the interview, and wish me to host one for you, please head over to my Offered Services page, and fill out the simple submission form.  I’ll get back with you soonest to discuss details.