Of the many authors' works I've read, this is one I would not only finish the book, but I'd go hunt for more. Pick up any of her works and you won't be disappointed. Her writing reveals not only an intelligent mind, but one with insight and imagination.
Below are examples of the beautiful quilts she makes for some of her giveaways
Tell us about your educational background.
I have a B.A. in theatre. If you’re wondering if that was a waste of time—not any more than any other degree in this day and age. I can find a job. It’s just in theatre.
I should have persued business however.
Most artistic endeavors are akin to starting up your own business, and there’s certain techniques or even laws I struggle with in ignorance—like how to do my taxes with all the freelance work.
Tell us about your works.
Science-fiction, fantasy, romance, sarcasm.
My works are usually speculative fiction, which is a more inclusive way of saying I avoid reality. Sometimes I would describe a piece as more paranormal than fantasy, or more magical sci-fi than technological; there’s a lot of pre-existing notions for the sci-fi, fantasy genres that don’t always fit with what I’m doing. It might be fantasy, just not medieval England based. It might be science-fiction, but you’ll still encounter an alp.
Generally speaking I write about worlds with new rules of reality and a dark sense of humor.
I am predominantly a novelist, though none of those manuscripts are available to the public yet. You can read my short stories in literary journals (www.charleydaveler.com/works.html). I’m also a playwright, having some of my scripts premiere in the L.A. area. The theatre work tends to be more satirical than magical, but I still enjoy characters not living in contemporary America.
Currently, I write an online serial, Stories of the Wyrd.
The Wyrd, taken from the Celtic word for “fate,” is another realm filled with dangerous creatures. Its boundaries move across the human plane, monsters and beasts creeping out to eat the villagers who live in the wilderness and far from the industrious civilization. Siblings Rasmus and Kaia Kondori offer up their services to those in plight, even when it’s just in their heads.
It was a side project for me as I prepared manuscripts and short stories for submission and publication; a method for me to connect to readers and write what I really wanted to be creating without focusing on market, sales, or possible rejection. I post a new short story once a month, available free online.
What draws you to this genre?
I once had someone ask, “Why don’t you just write contemporary stories?”
It was the first time it occurred to me that my interests weren’t just obvious. I am shocked to find the number of people who are extraordinarily bored by speculative fiction. But I am extraordinarily bored by realistic fiction, so…
I think it’s the wondrous possibility of a new world that obeys different scientific laws than what we’ve come to accept as true. We have certain limitations as humans that we just have to deal with. And when I watch someone who has a lifestyle completely different than mine, capable of doing things I can’t, yet restricted by the same rules, it tends to be either too intense or I find it ridiculous. Works that are magic based have more freedom to be silly and humorous while still being convincing.
What are you working on currently?
I’m writing several novels at once, trying to get a specific manuscript ready for querying, but I there is one I prioritize.
The main manuscript is temporarily called The Plane. (The label on the document so I don’t get it mixed up with any of the others.) It will be my sixteenth manuscript when finished. I took a different approach this time and am chronicling some of the experience on my blog, worsethanwas.blogspot.com, under the tags “So I’m writing this novel.” Normally, I don’t discuss a lot of what I’m doing on there for fear of spoiling it and making any potential publishers nervous. I decided that I had enough novels right now that I’m really not concerned about it. I believe it is more interesting than just hypothetically discussing writing.
An impoverished and arrogant pilot loses his plane to the government, under the guise of debt—though everyone knows this is a lie. All of civilization grows on a series of small islands, making airship or boat the only method of travel.
His plane is unique, the only thing that can fly through the invisible barrier around the Eastern Isles where the barbarians live, and only he knows how to pilot it. He is hired by the current owner to breach the dangerous lands and return with a powerful material.
And that’s all I got.
Describe your process for research.
Because most of my worlds are made up, I usually do research in hindsight, trying to fix continuity problems, ideas that aren’t fleshed out, or make the setting seem a little more grounded after writing the manuscript.
If it’s obvious I am not informed about something—like how long it takes to heal a broken leg—I’ll Google it immediately. Mostly though, I have to wait until I’ve gotten outside feedback because it’s not always easy to know what I don’t know.
What do you do when its 2am and you wake up with information on one of your works?
Usually fall back asleep. Most times it’s not about my work, but a new idea, and I have enough of those it’s not worth getting out bed. Every once in a while, if it’s really important or good, I have a notebook I’ll scribble in.
Pantzer, plotter or hybrid?
Hybrid, in that I constantly play around with my process, but I work better as a pantzer than a plotter. I do outline from time to time, and usually to good results, yet the way I develop a story often requires me to start noticing what I don’t notice.
Let’s say I start a book with a character walking into a room. In an outline, all I might say about that scene is something like, “Protagonist on other planet finds out that she has been assigned to the reproduction unit. Character insists that she wants to be an explorer. Is informed that she can become an explorer and may give the child up to be raised by an infertile civilian, but may not start training until she has accomplished the reproduction.”
Move on to next scene.
If, however, I start by writing the scene rather than plotting out main events, the details I need to know to write the dialogue, description, and even characters can lead me to much better fleshed out ideas. I don’t even need to name the protagonist in an outline, yet having decided the kinds of names that people are given grants me a hint as to how their culture works. As I ask myself, “What does this room look like?” I’ll start to question what materials it’s made out of, how did they get those materials, and why is it made from them specifically? Expense? Durability? Protection?
For instance, I might think, “What are spaceships made out? Steel? Is steel minable on this planet? No, they would probably have a unique resource that doesn’t have to be shipped from Earth. Steel, and our Earthly resources are much more rare and expensive. And maybe that’s what the ‘explorers’ are for… seeking out a planet that has the same resources Earth does.” So, something’s wrong with the material (whatever it is). I have a better idea what will happen in the next scene, and the scene after that, then if I had just been left with the summary of information.
By writing out the scene as I go, I find questions (and answers) that wouldn’t have occurred to me to ask about in outlining, and so the development of the story flows easier.
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
I do, however, not at first. My ideal method (you know how that goes), is to do the second draft immediately after finishing draft one. This is because I can catch errors while still remembering what I was trying to say and retain some of the original image and continuity. It also helps to challenge yourself to get it right versus just taking it out because you don’t remember the actual reason it was there in the first place.
Third draft I then put it aside so as to gain fresh eyes and actually forget why I did things a certain way which prevents me from supplementing my own knowledge into an idea that doesn’t actually make sense to a person not in the know.
But often, in reality, I will put manuscripts down for a very long time before even considering editing because I’ve moved on to the next book and won’t go back to the old ones until the shiny new car smell has worn off.
What have you found to be the best way to market your writing?
Interaction. Which is problematic because I’m not a social person. I love people, and I love to hear about them, but it’s hard for me to get into a conversation. I rather just sit and listen until I have something to say, and this makes many people uncomfortable because they don’t think I’m interested.
Most of my traffic comes from people I have talked to, especially when they start speaking to others about it. My biggest blog hits happen when a fan will post a link in a writers’ forum.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
Currently, I don’t make money from royalties. My short stories that paid were a per-word price, upfront, and had nothing to do with sales. The rights to plays are also purchased as a one-time deal. They say how many performances and how many seats, and you determine the charge for that.
I don’t look at the hits for my online serial because it’s supposed to be a relaxing way to get back to the writing and not worry about that sort of thing, so I am deliberately unaware of what marketing works.
For hits on my blog, the two things that drastically affected it was being on Twitter and having people talk about me on forums. The second you can’t control, but the moment I started developing my Twitter account, my hits sky rocketed.
Why do you think that some well written books just don’t sell?
You can’t expect people to know genius when they see it. And I don’t mean to say that people are ignorant, but that when you’re exposed to a ridiculous amount of stimuli and then are expected to make an accurate judgment on each individual piece, obviously you’re going to write a lot off and you’re going to make mistakes.
Most of the stories that I love today I thought were dumb when first exposed to them. I have no patience and commitment issues, and it’s very difficult for someone to catch me on the first page. The only book I remember hooking my interest from the first line was Odd Thomas, and I never got around to finishing it. In many cases, I liked them because I gave them a second (or third or fourth or fifth) chance for whatever reason. I always wonder how many of my favorite things I never got to read because I passed judgment too quickly.
Readers can’t accurately judge your book if they haven’t read it yet, so how can they determine if they want to read it? They have to use superficial or petty aspects to decide, ranging from book cover to short summary, to a couple of insincere or mean-spirited reviews, or only the first few pages. And sometimes, even if you have read it all the way through, it’s not the right time for it to relate to you. Most young people (me) hate Death of a Salesman; older people love it. Which is to say a reader might pick up your book and have it not be right for them now when they would have loved it two years later. But they’ve already tried it and written it off. This is why marketing to the “correct” demographic can be important.
There’s also the issue that word of mouth is more powerful than anything, and it’s hard to control. Social writers have a leg up on those who aren’t likeable or friendly.
Then there’s luck. In the case of the Sookie Stackhouse series, she was writing a long time before Twilight came out and made vampires popular. If it wasn’t for Stephanie Meyer publishing when she did, Charlaine Harris would have been left in relative obscurity.
Lastly, there’s the whole saying about it doesn’t matter if it’s the sweetest, juiciest peach in the world if they don’t like peaches. Just because a book is written well doesn’t mean anyone’s going to care about the subject.
What would you do if a friend asked you to review their book and you couldn't bear to finish it?
That’s actually why I don’t outright agree to review things.
I’ve only been asked to give feedback by people I really care about, criticism that no one but they will see. This is easy because I value not playing into the “everyone gets a ribbon,” or in this case, “five stars,” idea that is so popular right now, and reviews, if they are to ever be useful, need to be critical and honest, written for readers not writers. When it’s not about rating it, but rather explaining my response, I can say good things and bad things, leave out complaints that will be fixed over time, and voice what I’m thinking without having to discuss the actual judgment. Telling someone, “This will interest me more if you do this,” is different than saying, “You should or should not read this because.”
I did get asked by fellow authors who I don’t know well to review their books, and I found myself in a bad spot. In these few cases, they were poorly edited and had hasty pacing. I only agreed because I wanted to support them and leaving a bad review wouldn’t do that. But leaving an insincere review—even if it had partial truths—is wrong. I got myself into a hard place and a rock, and so I just didn’t bring it up again, hoping they wouldn’t either. In the case someone did, I will admit I gave him a higher star than I wanted, but I did mention some of the issues in the actual review part.
Today I’ll be upfront and tell people exactly that. “I want to read your book, but I do not do reviews anymore.” Then, if the book is good, I will leave one anonymously. I will admit that I don’t leave bad reviews for people I know and care about.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
Five years? I’ll be thirty? I have all of these completed manuscripts that I never queried, and I’m hoping that my current focus will be ready within the next month to be sent out to agents. For the next five years, I plan on prioritizing the submitting process over the writing, and would like by the time I’m thirty for my writing career to have stabilized (if that’s even possible). Some books published, been on the book tours and signings, and having a long term relationship with the same agent and preferably publisher.
I have a lot of different ideas of where I could be in five years from international bestseller to peddling self-published illustrated Stories of the Wyrd books at art fairs, all of which seem desirable, but I would really like to have a constant team to work with and a stable fan base.
We'd love to see some pics of quilts you've made for giveaways in the past. Are you going to make any more (please)?
Yes! I love the giveaways because I enjoy making quilts, but you only need about one yourself, and you can only do so many gifts.
I do the giveaways biannually, every June and December, and for any important launches. If you are interested in being kept updated, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or my blog, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org saying you would like a notification when the giveaway starts.
The images are personally designed (the block patterns aren’t mine). So far it’s been Edgar Allan Poe and Pride and Prejudice. I’m doing a Time Machine quilt for December 2015, and do take suggestions for next June.
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