Frank Parker's author site

Irish History Quiz – Part 1

2018-05-10 (1)I’m planning a live launch of A Purgatory of Misery next month. I created a Facebook event and have been putting up daily posts about Irish history.

I was going to repeat them here but I hit on a better idea. A quiz!

If you know the answers it won’t take you long. If you don’t, you will find them over on the event’s FB page.

Unfortunately it’s not interactive. I’ve researched several quiz widgets but WP requires me to upgrade to the business version in order to install them.

Here are your questions. You can enter your answers in the comments if you want to show off.

  1. Workhouses were introduced into Ireland by the 1838 Poor Law (Ireland) Act. How many were built in this  first phase?
  2. The book launch is to be held in a former workhouse. It is one of how many additional workhouses that were authorised for construction during the famine?
  3. The book’s title is taken from a speech by whom?
  4. 1848 saw rebellions across Europe. What was the name of the Irish man who led the Chartist rebellion in England?
  5. My co-author’s ancestor was one of how many orphan girls shipped from the workhouses to Australia?
  6. One of those girls is an ancestor of which former Australian Prime Minister?
  7. Name the Island off the coast of England where St. Patrick founded a religious community.
  8. What is the title of my historical novel based on the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century.
  9. In which century did the brother of a Scottish king invade Ireland during an earlier  famine?
  10. Name the English poet who took part in the bloody siege of Smerwick.

All the answers can also be found, along with many more shocking facts, in the book. If you can’t get along to the launch – and I know most of you are too far away – you can download the e-book here for Kindle and here for all other e-readers.

 

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A Date With . . . Val Tobin

My latest ‘Date’ is with novelist and parapsychology graduate Val Tobin who hails from Ontario. As usual I began by asking her to tell me a little about her home state.

I’ve lived in Ontario all my life. What I love most about it is the beauty of the countryside and the tight-knit community we live in.

The downside is the bugs, particularly the mosquitoes in the summer. I’m not a big fan of winter either. I’ve learned to bundle up for it, but that doesn’t mean I’m enjoying it. Some folks here participate in winter sports, but the closest I get to a winter sport is reading in front of a fireplace.

Val writes across several genres but has no strong preference for any, preferring to allow the story to dictate the genre:

For example, when the idea for The Experiencers, book one of the Valiant Chronicles series, came to me, the UFO conspiracy aspects and the death-ray technology dropped it into SF. The action and suspense make it a thriller as well, and there’s romance in it, because you can’t have people interacting in pressure-cooker situations without something developing between them. It also contains supernatural elements.

I’ve written more romantic suspense than any of the other genres, which might make you conclude it’s my preference. Perhaps that’s correct. I enjoy when characters find deep connections with one another.

24169671_10155427444817982_1744726250_o-300x200In the Valiant Chronicles, one of the secondary characters goes through hell before he matures enough to enter into a monogamous relationship. This character treated women so cavalierly in The Experiencers that one reader emailed me to insist the character die for his sins in the sequel, A Ring of Truth (this was when I was still working on book two of the series).

At first, I’d been headed in that direction. I’d considered redemption for this character through death by self-sacrifice. But that’s not what happened when I reached that point in the story. He meets a woman as lost and broken as he is, and together they find healing.

What I enjoy exploring the most is flawed characters who manage to heal and grow towards their potential.

Her latest release, which I have just finished reading and thoroughly enjoyed, is set among the members of a writers’ group in which petty jealousies lead to murder. She tells me such rivalries do sometimes exist in real life groups, and goes on to comment about the latest scandal inflaming the world of publishing.

I’m a member of a number of writers’ groups. The majority, such as our Indie Author Support and Discussion group (IASD), are on Facebook, which makes them virtual groups. The Writers’ Community of York Region (WCYR) provides the physical connection I need and resembles the group in the story more except for the petty jealousy part. My preferred groups don’t have that kind of nonsense, but yes, I’ve seen it rear its ugly head over the years.

Every once-in-a-while you read about authors behaving badly and that stems from insecurity, fragile egos, and fear. The murderer in my story embodied all that’s toxic in any competitive industry.

It can be particularly appalling when writers get nasty. Written assaults can do more long-term damage than physical assaults.

poison-pen-ebook-cover-30june2017In Poison Pen, the character chose the ultimate physical solution: murder. Naturally, eliminating a competitor doesn’t pave the way for success, and that’s what the killer in my story doesn’t see. He can’t understand why, even with the guy he holds responsible for his failure out of the way, he continues to struggle.

If there’s a theme in the story, it’s that acting out of jealousy and envy destroys the perpetrator from the inside out.

Jealousy and envy can result in horrible behaviour. The movie I Tonya recounts how skater Tonya Harding‘s career was destroyed when her husband hired a hitman to kneecap rival Nancy Kerrigan.

I recall a writer who was so angry with a teenage reviewer that he tracked her down and smashed her over the head with a wine bottle. Another author once wrote on her blog suggesting that J.K.Rowling stop writing books for adults. I’ve heard of authors receiving fake one star reviews the way my murder victim does in the story.

As I write this, #Cockygate rages on. For those who haven’t heard, an author has trademarked the name “Cocky” and has sent cease-and-desist letters to other romance authors who have the word in the titles of their books.

I find that with a number of the books I release, life reflects art. Releasing Poison Pen just as Cockygate broke was an interesting coincidence. Instead of wanting to own the whole cocky pie, the author should have considered doing a cocky anthology with other writers who use the word in their titles.51xtkof2hbl-_sy346_

In my opinion, cooperative competition is the way to go. Just because a reader falls in love with one author’s books doesn’t mean he or she won’t ever read books from another author. As a voracious reader myself, I consume works from a huge variety of authors and am always hunting for my next favourite author.

When I find that author, I make a point of following them. I’m never confused about whose book I’m picking up. Any author can use the words “in Death” in their title, but I’ll recognize Nora Roberts’s “in Death” books because they’ll say “by J. D. Robb.”

Indie author Eric Lahti doesn’t have to trademark the word “henchmen” for his readers to recognize that if they come across a book with henchman in the title and it’s by Joe Author that Eric’s not the author. Cockygate would be laughable if it wasn’t so devastating to those authors facing frivolous and expensive lawsuits over it.

I next asked her about that parapsychology degree and her interest in the paranormal, something she shares with a previous guest.

I’ve been attracted to the paranormal all my life, probably because my mother was interested in it. My father, who was a tool and die maker by trade and heavy into math and logic, read palms. I suppose it’s part of the search for meaning or the quest to learn what’s beyond the physical realm.

51yqcxlkull-_sy346_While working in the computer industry, I obtained the B.Sc. in Parapsychic Science and then I went for the master’s degree in parapsychology. I also became a certified Reiki Master/Teacher in 2005 and an Angel Therapy Practitioner© with Advanced Training certified by Doreen Virtue in Kona, Hawaii in March and October of 2008. I returned to Hawaii for mediumship and spiritual writing courses in 2010.

This provided me with hands-on training in addition to the theory I was getting from my other studies. If you’ve never tried to develop your psychic skills, you might be sceptical that it’s even possible, but I draw on these skills and experiences in my novels.

In the Valiant Chronicles and in Walk-In, I have characters with psychic abilities and much of what they do and how they do it reflects my training. When Carolyn glances down and to the right as she connects to a spirit, she’s doing it the way I do it. It’s not something I was taught to do — it’s something I do instinctively — but it works for me.

When I first started the quest to develop my psychic abilities, I was convinced they didn’t exist.

I had experienced enough by that point to be open minded about others having psychic ability, but I was positive I was, well, a Muggle.

The surprises came slowly, but they came. Developing psychic intuition when you’ve blocked yourself or when you’re sceptical is difficult and takes commitment and dedication. It’s time consuming and frustrating but well worth the effort.

Val is about to embark on her first attempt at a non-fiction work, based on her masters thesis. I wondered how much she enjoyed all the work that goes into such an enterprise.

I’ve always loved research. Most of the courses I’ve taken involved a lot of research and essay writing. In my software developer years, I wrote for on-line magazine Community MX about web development using Macromedia products. Somehow, I have this burning desire to be both creative and logical.

I wrote my thesis on the after-effects of near-death experience (NDE) and think it would make a fascinating book. Not only are the lives of those who’ve experienced an NDE changed, but those who hear their stories and interact with them are impacted as well. Research has shown that you don’t have to have an NDE to have your life changed by it. You can be affected by it vicariously. Many of the effects are beneficial, though not always. I’ll delve into all that in the book.

She doesn’t rule out the idea of traditional publishing but is happy with her present status as an independent author.

I have one little story in a traditionally published, non-fiction book (Doreen Virtue’s Angel Words published by Hay House), so you could say I’ve dipped my toe in traditional waters. However, when I wrote The Experiencers (my first novel) and consulted on the subject of trad versus indie publishing with a hybrid author who has been writing books since the 1970s, he made a good case for me to go indie.

518tswurnpl-_sy346_Of course, I don’t rule out traditional publishing, but at this time, I like the freedom and control I get form being an indie author. It certainly has its trials, and it’s expensive to pay for covers and editing myself, but if I have to do my own marketing anyway, I might as well stick with the indie way.

She works from a home office with no door where you can find her most days “from morning to dinner time.” I wanted to know if dinner was taken in the middle of the day or in the evening. She confirmed that it is the latter.

Asked to reveal something that might surprise her readers she certainly surprised me!

My readers might be surprised to learn that I’ve had a cameo in two indie lesbian films. One was Route of Acceptance and the other was I Met You First. Route of Acceptance is out and available for download and I Met You First is still in production.

Find her on Facebook, Twitter and her blog where you will find links to all her books.

A Burning Question

Here’s Suffolk based writer Stevie Turner with some wise words on food hygiene, mostly learned from her Mum who sounds like a woman I would have liked to have known.

But who knows the answer to the question she poses? Why do they? I never do – seems pointless to me, eat outside in the garden by all means, but cook it inside.

And as for those gas fired monsters, I can’t see the point when you’ve a perfectly serviceable oven and hob inside. And then there are those outdoor heaters which seem to have been created to prevent smokers from freezing to death now they have to go outside with their coffin nails. I would never have one in my garden. If I get cold I go indoors!

via Anyone Want a Burger?

A Double Irish Rebellion

The spring and summer of 1848 saw failed rebellions in England and Ireland, both led by Irish men. And the Irish tricoleur, a symbol of peace, made its first appearance. In May, 170 years ago this month, the leaders of the Irish rebellion were sentenced to transportation.

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Daniel O’Connell monument at the southern end of O’Connell Street, Dublin. Image from Statues-Hither & Thither (permission sought)

One of Daniel O’Connell’s proteges*, Cork land-owner and lawyer Feargus O’Connor, was elected MP for Cork in 1832. Shortly afterwards he fell out with O’Connell and in 1835 lost his seat in Parliament. He then embarked on a campaign for political reform in England. Founding a newspaper, The Northern Star, he was joined by William Lovett and others.

Their People’s Charter was published – in May 1838 – as a draft parliamentary bill. It contained six points: manhood suffrage; the ballot; abolition of property qualifications for MPs; payment of MPs; equal electoral districts; and annual elections. Thousands of working people had rallied together on the basis of this charter, and hundreds of them had gone to prison for their beliefs.

In the 1847 general election O’Connor was elected MP for Nottingham. By the spring of 1848, inspired by events elsewhere in Europe, the movement was ready to make it’s mark. A petition had been raised, signed, it was claimed, by over 5 million people. A meeting was arranged for April 10th on Kennington Common just across the Thames from Parliament.

kenningtoncommon-large

Daguerreotype of the Chartist meeting at Kennington Common, British Library

The government were well prepared with 170,000 citizens signed up as special constabulary and army units stationed at the entrance to each of the bridges and protecting ministries and ministers’ homes. Despite an expected turn-out of 200,000, a mere 20,000 congregated.

When it began to rain heavily, most quickly disbursed. O’Connor and his henchmen crossed Westminster Bridge in horse drawn carriages and presented his petition which was found to contain only 2 million names, many of them forged, invented and duplicated. The name of no less a figure than the Duke of Wellington appeared 17 times.

Meanwhile, 1848 was a year of turmoil across Europe, with revolutions taking place in France, Germany, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands. In February the last vestige of the French Royal family fled France never to return. Inspired by this, a Young Ireland delegation led by William Smith O’Brien and Thomas Francis Meagher, went, in April, to Paris to meet with representatives of the new French Republic.

Symbol of Peace

Whilst there, they were given a flag modeled on the French Tricoleur on which the three colours that were represented were green, the colour of Catholic nationalism, orange, the colour of Protestant unionism, separated by white to signify the desire for peace between the two traditions. Since 1922 this has been the national flag of the Irish Republic.

irish_tricolour-1

For leaders of the Confederation, the fact that the 1848 French revolution had been relatively bloodless was an inspiration and they hoped to be able to mobilise people from all strata of Irish society in a bid to return government of the Irish to Ireland. One of the ways they set out to achieve this was via a newspaper called The Nation. However, the authorities quickly took action to nip the Confederation’s activities in the bud.

The attempted English revolution descended into farce, but the authorities were alerted to the possibility of something similar occurring in Ireland. Three of the leaders of the Irish Confederation were arrested and charged with treason. In May, having been found guilty, they were sentenced to 14 years transportation. Before this punishment could be put into effect, its imposition provided the impetus for a recruitment campaign leading to a potential rebellion.

On 29th July O’Brien led the siege of a cottage in Ballingarry, County Tipperary, in which some members of the constabulary had taken refuge. One of his men was killed by a random shot fired from within the cottage and O’Brien led his men away. He was arrested shortly afterwards at Thurles railway station.

One of the men who had accompanied O’Brien to Paris in April, Richard O’Gorman, was organiser for the rebellion in Limerick. A few days after the Ballngarry incident, a group of about 200 men, supposedly acting on behalf of O’Gorman, held up the Limerick-Tralee mail coach at Abbeyfeale. They confiscated the arms and official dispatches it contained but returned private mail to the postmaster. They considered mounting a siege of the town but, when they heard the news from Tipperary decided to call a halt.

O’Gorman disappeared. Two different speculative accounts of his escape from arrest, include the possibility that he traveled via Kilrush. Indeed, two men were arrested and accused of transporting him aboard a steamer bound for the town. A less likely tale has him aboard another Kilrush bound steamer disguised as a woman.

Whatever the fate of O’Gorman and the other conspirators, there can be no doubt that the rebellion, if not quite as farcical as that in England, nevertheless fizzled out for lack of support. It did nothing to help relieve the suffering of those who had neither food nor the means to acquire it except by sacrificing what few possessions they had. On the contrary, it served to harden public opinion in England where the Irish were already being viewed as ungrateful.

This post contains extracts from chapters 11 and 12 of A Purgatory of Misery.

*For those who may be unfamiliar with the man who gave his name to Ireland’s central thoroughfare and whose statue stands at its southern end, Daniel O’Connell was the leader of a movement seeking repeal of the Act of Union which bound Ireland to the United Kingdom.

Dan is at it again!

At what? Offering to critique a 1000 words (max) submission from you for just $10. And there’s more! If he really likes your submission you’ll be in line to win $300.

Read more about it below

via Announcing The Word Weaver 1000 Word SPRINT Writing Contest

A Date With . . . Bryan Nowak

My date this week is with a man who resides in Virginia, USA, a refugee from what he describes as “incomprehensibly cold” winters in his native Minnesota.

“Most people have no idea what the winters are like in Minnesota. As I point out to my family and friends back in Minnesota, there is a reason I don’t come back. Everything you have heard about Minnesota winters is absolutely true. It is cold, and I mean incomprehensibly. Every year at least one person is found dead by the side of the road frozen because their car broke down and they tried to hike to the next town. This is an ill-advised move as the temps will kill you with alarming speed. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful. However, the older I get the more I prefer the more amicable weather of the mid-Atlantic.

When I was 18 years old one of my sergeants in the Army reserves told me about an opportunity to take an active duty tour in Norfolk, Virginia. In between the climate, the trees, and being surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay I was enamored with Virginia. And I have never had to deal with anything like the blizzard of 1991 where we saw over 24 inches of snow at my house in 12 hours. When a snowstorm has its own Wikipedia entry, that is serious snowfall.”

4adf5f_c315fb22766b441989ba4504a44da08dHis novels and short stories feature aspects of the occult and paranormal, a passion engendered by childhood reading of books about paranormal investigations.

“I don’t remember one particular author which fostered my interest in the occult and the paranormal, but I definitely remember the books. In particular, I love ghost books. I hated all the books that dealt with the fictional stories of ghosts. I preferred the books written by the 1980s paranormal investigators. Admittedly, some of it was garbage, but my eyes were opened to the possibility that all we see is not all that is out there.

Ultimately, it led me to the standards of Dean Koontz and Stephen King. As much as I like those, I never really lost my interest in the supposedly real life encounters between the living and the dead. I even once read a book on demonology, written from the perspective of someone investigating fact versus fiction and trying to dissect each encounter like a criminal investigator. I wish I could remember the names of the authors so I could go back and find the books today. There are so many wonderful authors out there that do the world of paranormal investigation justice.”

Blank vertical softcover book template with pages.Bryan describes himself as a Christian and is active in his neighborhood Lutheran congregation. Given that some Christians shun the occult, believing it to be associated with devil worship, I wondered how he would respond to such views.

“For me it’s very simple, I believe that evil and good exists and ignoring that is dangerous. There are people who deny the existence of evil but will then turn around and share their belief that all the world is good, in spite of evidence to the contrary. I feel that if you believe that there is good in the world then you have to be willing to accept the other side of the coin too. The topic of the devil is uncomfortable for a lot of Christians. Mention Satan in a room of Christians and you’ll see people squirm.

I do portray heaven, and I think it’s naïve for the living to believe we actually understand what the great beyond is like. In The Dramatic Dead, I portray heaven in the way I think it is. Is this correct? I have no idea. I am certain I will find out someday, but for now I have to be content with my characterization of what heaven looks like.

As far as the occult goes, it is very real and I do believe it is closely associated with Satan. Practices of the occult are innocuous unless you put intention behind it. I believe it is possible to invite evil into your home and when you do, it can have devastating effects on your family. In short, the occult is not something to take lightly.

Not trying to understand the motives and intentions of occult practices is like sticking your head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away. It won’t.

So ignoring it in my fiction does a disservice. In my case, I choose to use the occult and paranormal as a way to put light on the people who stand against such forces.”

There’s a very moving story Bryan has shared on his blog about serving communion in a care home and the importance of meeting mankind’s spiritual needs as well as material ones. I wondered to what extent he thinks writing, along with other creative endeavors, can meet that need.

“Two years ago I met a nice woman who told me that in six months she would be dead. If you’ve never had the experience of being truly dumbstruck, I can describe it to you. My mouth wouldn’t work, my tongue wouldn’t move, and my brain couldn’t think one single thought. I simply had no way to respond to her. How do you respond to that revelation? She told me that buying books at the book show filled her time between now and the day she drew her last breath. Those books made up her steadily narrowing world.

It inspired me. It caused me to think outside of my own little narrative and think about the greater context fiction represents. These are not just words and paper. These are characters in stories that fill people’s worlds. As authors it is our role to present these worlds to our audience in a way that helps them fill a need. Books are not simply a thing we sell, they are a service for so many people. At the end of every novel, someone closes the book and will breathe a sigh of relief for some hole in their life that has been filled. My words did that. If you ask me, that is truly what I get in return as an author, knowledge that I made someone’s life better.

Material needs are easy to fulfill. All you need to do is go down to the local second-hand store and see shelves practically toppling over with perfectly good items that people cast off. For example, I never buy brand-new computers. There are plenty of people in the world who buy computers and then trade them in two years later. I never buy a new car. There is no need because I know someone out there has traded in a perfectly good vehicle. But I digress, I only wanted to highlight the overly materialistic society we live in and people striving to fill a hole in themselves which can never be filled by stuff. Which brings us to the spiritual.

I firmly believe that too much of our time is spent on cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices. People increasingly buy these things as a means to connect with the world. Television sells the idea that all we need is the next new phone, update our social media page, and click ‘like’ to attain a sense of peace.

A sense of peace is only truly attainable by talking and communicating with other people face to face.

The example you provided is only one way that I give back to my community. I am also active in the local scout troop, and also help coach the high school novel writing club.

It doesn’t take a spiritual person to make a contribution in the world. It only takes a person with a heart and a little bit of time to make a difference in the world. In the end, you will find your contribution, no matter how small, returns a deeper satisfaction.”

4adf5f_6c3529fa7aba45a884fd50fa89b8102amv2_d_1800_2700_s_2All four of Bryan’s published books to date have at their core a tortured spirit returning from the past to haunt a community. He openly claims that his intention is to make his readers “feel vulnerable, scared, and uneasy.” Such books are undoubtedly very popular, as are movies of the same genre. I wanted to know what need in us he believes their consumption satisfies, and is it healthy? His reply, in his ‘Bryan The Writer’ persona, is characteristically unapologetic:

“Speaking in a deep demonic voice, ‘Your question amuses me, little mortal.’ Bryan the Writer laughs to himself.

I had this question recently in a panel discussion at a conference. It’s a great question, and I think I answered that I felt it is a basic human instinct to fear. We love books, movies and haunted houses because it feeds our basic need to feel fear in a controlled environment. In a movie you know you can always walk out, in a book you know you can always put it down, in a haunted house you know there is going to be an end.

Let’s face it, most of the time life is tedious. We go to work, pay our bills, take our kids to soccer games, scouts, and other events seemingly with little risk. The next day we rinse and repeat. That is why we love scaring ourselves. It helps dip into a base fear that normally we don’t get to indulge in. So yes I do think the consumption of horror satisfies a base need we have as humans.

When I was in school, I studied a bit of psychology. What I learned was that if we deny our base selves for long enough, it will come back to haunt us. It’s not healthy to ignore who we are as human beings. So, indulging in our need to be scared once in a while, in a controlled manner, is not only healthy, but really fun!

Can too much be bad? Absolutely, but that’s true of anything.”

Turning to less controversial matters I asked Bryan about his research.

“One of these days I fully expect the FBI to show up at my house and knock on the door. They’re going to asked to speak to me and the conversation will go something like this. ‘Good afternoon Mr. Nowak, I’m from the FBI. We got some curious alerts about your Google browsing. We would like to speak to you about them. And please, whatever you do, keep your hands where we can see them.’

I have a shelf of research material at my disposal, but I think the thing that I end up researching the most is forensics. All writers know that if you get one small detail wrong there is definitely going to be one fan out there who laser locks on that detail and sends you hate mail. Fortunately, I’ve done my homework well enough that this hasn’t happened to me yet. That’s not to say it won’t ever happen.

I split up my research in three ways. The first period of research is before I even start writing. I want to know everything about the central theme I am trying to use. For example, in Crimson Tassels, I did a lot of research into the amount of damage an ax head can do to a human body. In the book, Riapoke there is a part where the conservation officer does a specific test on the teenager to confirm or deny the accusation that he had raped a girl. That test that I use in the book is a real test. I had to look up how the test was administered and how quickly the results could come back. In that work, forensics took up most of my research time.

4adf5f_524d9cfeb64f4f4c941b67f6ed6c9099mv2_d_1800_2700_s_2The second and third instances of research take place during the editing process. I do occasionally come across things that make me wonder, ‘I wonder if this will really work?’ It is usually at that stage that I dig into those little nit-picky items here and there that I’m pretty sure I’ll get questions on. In The Dramatic Dead, I tried to be as theologically sound as I could with my depiction of heaven. That meant I needed to do a little research on the way different religions view the afterlife. I really wanted to paint it is a place beyond human comprehension. But in order to do that in a way that humans could actually comprehend, I had to take some poetic license. Thankfully nobody is been back from the afterlife to tell me I’m wrong!

And yes, I love the research. Every time I learn more and more!”

My next question was about his favorite authors

“This is an easy question, and the answer will be somewhat surprising. Without a doubt that is SciFi icon Douglas Adams. Growing up I loved Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I probably read that book 5 times and I own the unabridged trilogy (which is actually 5 books). I would ask him where he came up with the concept of the infinite probability drive, used to drive the spaceship the Heart of Gold. I am a closet science-fiction geek.

I grew up reading a ton of Dean Koontz books and I have been told my writing style is reflective of that. I love the work of Eric Lahti, who wrote The Henchmen series. He has a way of telling stories I admire.”

Like many writers who choose the route of publishing independently of a traditional publisher, Bryan likes the control the process gives him:

“[Going indie] was a deliberate decision on my part. Every day it seems more and more small to middle size publishers go out of business, or I hear horror stories of authors trying to get back the rights, or an unfortunate cover chosen for a book that the author didn’t like. It seems like a maelstrom of chaos right now and I am content to just do my thing.

Admittedly, I still have a lot to learn as an author. I think any author, no matter how long they’ve been writing, will say that. As an indie, I retain control over the entire process. It also means that I get to learn the entire process as well. I am every part of the process. Granted, I still contract out editing and cover art, but the hiring decisions are mine. I think it is really helped me grow.

Naturally, if a major publisher walked up to me tomorrow and offered me a contract I likely wouldn’t turn it down. Or if an agent came to me and said they wanted to represent me, I wouldn’t turn them down either. However, I’m content to just be Bryan the Writer for now. There may come a time when I move into the traditional publishing realm and that decision will be made at that point in the future. I think of every yesterday as a precious memory, today is a wonderful gift, and tomorrow is an opportunity to be seized.”

Asked about his writing practice it turns out that Bryan is a morning person:

“I feel more creative in the mornings versus the afternoons. So, if I can, I prefer to write in the mornings. However, life gets in the way and I begrudgingly write in the evening. Right now, I have a writing desk in the corner of the room. It isn’t anything special. It is nothing more than a table with wheels I bought at Ikea. The main thing I need is dark classical music. Thanks to the plethora of online music sources, that is not a problem. I don’t think it necessarily makes much of a difference where you write as long as you put your butt in the chair and tickle those keys. However, with three kids in the house my high-end noise-cancelling headphones are essential.”

When I end with my usual request for Bryan to reveal something surprising, he talks with pride about his origins.

“I say I’m from Minnesota, but most people don’t know that I am half Hoosier. There’s a lake in Indiana, Koontz Lake, where substantial portion of my relatives live. I think in terms of property value, my family makes up the largest percentage of ownership. It’s a very small town, and a fairly small lake. My family has been on that lake since the 60s and it’s a tradition that continues on till this day. About once a year, we make our way back to the ancestral homelands, to bathe in the water that fed so much of my childhood imagination. As a matter fact, Lake Oleander, from Riapoke, is based very much off Koontz Lake. One of the characters even muses about his grandfather’s stories of the monster living in the lake, and that’s a story my own grandfather told me. We refer to it as the Koontz Lake Muck Monster. So, I’m proud to say that I’m half Hoosier. Indiana was instrumental in my upbringing.”

Koontz Lake – what a way to finish a date with a man who models himself on Dean Koontz! I hope you enjoyed Bryan’s responses as much as I did. Go check out his website and his books. You’ll find him on Facebook too.

Writers and Readers don’t always Understand Each Other

This post from Rebecca Bryn resonated with me because I recently received a couple of critical reviews of Strongbow’s Wife. In one case the writer of the review kindly e-mailed me pointing out a couple of minor period details that I got wrong. The other claimed to have had his faith in the book destroyed by the appearance of a minor  character who aspired to write ‘poetry in the Greek fashion’. Impossible in Medieval Britain according to my critic. Trouble is he was a real person who did indeed write epic poetry emulating Homer.
Rebecca is definitely one of my favourite authors, though I have yet to read The Silence of the Stones. I guess it’s time I did.

via Unpleasant and juvenile? Bad reviews -2

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