Tag Archives: author interview

Indie Author Interviews: T.S. Vale, Exscendent SF Series

I am very happy today to welcome T.S. Vale to the indie author interview series, a dear friend going back to Clarion days, and a writer of both beautiful words and amazing ideas. Take it away, T.!

First off, please tell us a little bit about you and your work.

The single unchanging passion I’ve had my entire life — is for story-hearing and story-telling. It’s a powerful call that never fades.

As some who know me are aware, I experienced early success in traditional publishing in terms of both sales and recognition. But my big focus at the time was finishing college, not capitalizing on the success of my first novel. (Oops?!)

Fast forwarding through various life adventures, including a few quick dips here and there back into the world of writing and publishing — such as my time at Clarion West with Ruth and other great authors and instructors! — I’m delighted to be launching a couple of new series that fall into the category I love most of all: speculative fiction.

Speculative fiction is a broad term, yes. But it’s the best at capturing a majority of the kind of reading and writing I love best.

The AMERICUS series is post-apocalyptic / dystopian / alternate America. The DARKCRASHER series is best described as The Matrix meets Game of Thrones — a dark epic fantasy / dystopian tech fantasy hybrid.

What made you decide to become an “indie” author?

For me, indie / traditional comes across as a choice between chocolate or vanilla. Both flavors have their charms. And while I know some people have a very clear favorite, I find chocolate and vanilla equally appealing and meritorious. Each has unique attributes, and each offers something the other does not.

So why did I pick the flavor I did, for my relaunch back into the world of publishing? In the end, I loved what I perceived as the egalitarian and entrepreneurial nature of indie. Not that these qualities don’t exist in the traditional world: it’s simply that as an indie author, I felt that I’d get the chance to be far more “hands-on” than I might be otherwise. It’s a lot of fun, frankly!

How do you go about world-building?

As corny as this sounds, each world I’ve built has first appeared in a dream. It then unfolds in my waking mind … every day. (I’m not kidding. Not a day goes by that I’m not inside these worlds, even if only for a few moments. What else is there to do while waiting in line or brushing your teeth, after all? Grin.)

Research follows as I figure out the mechanics behind what I’m imagining. Research is documented in various ways. Sometimes I capture all of what’s needed in a few words that I file as a document or even as simply an email. Other times, for richer worlds, I need more. What I call the “wikipedia” for DARKCRASHER is huge.

Do you have a writing routine?

Alas. I wish I did. I’m eternally working on better discipline.

Some people have gotten a kick out of the fact that sometimes, in order to focus, I will do this:
I go to a dark windowless room. I turn out all lights, put on headphones, and sit cross-legged on the floor. And then I write.

It’s not a routine, but it has gotten me through some “stuck” times.

What have you already published?

Traditionally published under other names:
A multi-awarded YA novel that almost made it to the silver screen (script was written, stars chosen including Keanu Reeves yes really, but — as happens — it didn’t quite make it in the end). This book is an older item, you won’t find it on the shelves anywhere, but the rights are mine and I’ll be re-releasing that novel soon. In addition, a handful of shorts in both YA and speculative fiction. I haven’t published a lot, but I’m proud that each thing I have published traditionally, has received some kind of recognition or award.

Indie, as TS Vale:
The first installment of the AMERICUS series is available on Amazon. Full title: AMERICUS • Exscendent, Book 1: High Road Cross.
The first installment of the DARKCRASHER saga will be out in October.
You can also find In the Real, a dystopian SF thriller / SF romance short novella that was originally published under another name, and Library, a post-apocalyptic / SF romance short story.

What are you working on now?

The AMERICUS series and the DARKCRASHER saga are the big ones at the moment.

Do you make your covers yourself or do you hire a cover artist?

Both. Mostly with a cover artist, but a couple on my own.

What do you think are the advantages of indie publishing? Of traditional publishing?

Indie advantages: You’re hands-on. You’re on the front lines. You have more personal control over timelines. And best of all, it feels to me like you’re more closely in touch with your readers.

Traditional advantages: A large established system at your back. You’re not “doing it all” all by yourself. Advances up front. And — possibly, in some circles? — there may be more of what I’ll call “perceived prestige”.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Listen, learn, write, repeat.
And most of all: love what you do and do what you love.

How can people get in touch with you?

The hub for all things related to contacting me — newsletter, email, social channels, blog etc. —


Best way to stay in touch: sign up for the newsletter.

And here is the description of the first book of the series, Americus:

In a war-torn post apocalyptic America, Bill does not have a choice. To save what he loves, he must find and stop a deadly transhuman soldier gone rogue — his own biological father. And for that, he must become what he despises.



Indie Author Interviews: K. J. Garnet, Oracle urban fantasy series

Every now and then on this blog I do interviews with indie and speculative fiction writers. Today I would like to introduce you to K. J. Garnet, the pen name of Kelly and Jenni, a pair of writers working on a new urban fantasy series about the oracle Val Ferrel.

Oracle in Doubt

First off, please tell us a little bit about you and your work.

K: I’m the “K” (Kelly) of the K.J. Garnet writing team. I’m the author of 3 non-fiction books and freelance writer in my field for magazine and editorial work.

J: I’m the “J” (Jenni) of the K.J. Garnet writing team. I’ve been a developmental editor for over twenty years first at major publishing houses and now as a consultant for independent writers.

We’ve written a paranormal fantasy aka contemporary/urban fantasy series about a medium named Val Ferrel who is a special kind of psychic called an oracle. Unlike the Greek oracles, who were seers, our oracles have a special ability that lets them siphon psychic energy from the land of the dead. In our fictional world, psychics are common and the world has evolved to accommodate people with these extra sensory abilities and those without.

When you write fantasy, how do you go about world-building?

K: I’m into the scenes and the details. Once we have the characters, I start writing scenes to get a sense of who they are and what makes them tick. I like to get into the characters’ heads, find out what drives them, and how their interactions affect the story.

J: I tend to think big and then start adding the details-the why of this particular thing/place/animal, how does it work, where can someone get it, what do our characters use it for, when will it affect the plot? For the Val Ferrel series, we didn’t want to get overly complicated, so we chose a familiar contemporary world but added some twists and tweaked it.

What kind of magic systems do you use?

J: We’re writing a contemporary supernatural or paranormal series, so our “magic” is a fast and loose version of ESP-empaths, prognosticators, mediums, telepathy, telekinesis. There’s a bit of superhero-ness without the origin story; the powers just exist in our world and the technology grew up right alongside it, like jewels imbued with psychic energy protects people from intrusive telepaths, or machines generate energy fields to block the psychics from using their innate powers.

Do you have a writing routine?

J: I try and write every morning except on the days I know Kelly will be writing. We share the same file and try to meet at least once a week to discuss the latest scene or chapter. Sometimes our talks go on for three or more hours since we’re still evolving our writing partnership. We’re getting better at predicting what the other one meant or intended. Having a broad outline of the story helps to keep us on track although we both have a tendency to come up with a lot of new and shiny ideas. My editorial side always urges us to stay on track, and setting a publishing deadline reminds us not to get too distracted.

K: Unfortunately, I have a demanding day job. My writing time is limited to weekends and whenever there’s a spare hour or two. I was desperate in the beginning to contribute late at night after the work day was over, but that didn’t work well. Scenes were treading into the psychedelic.

What made you decide to become an “indie” author?

J: Control. I like being able to control all the aspects of production, publishing, and sales. I like being the boss of my creative endeavors.

K: What she said. Love the fast turn-around time as well. I’m getting too old to wait 2-3 years from agent to publication!

What have you already published?

J: This is my first published work.

K: This is my fourth and fifth but we’ll count it as first for fiction.

What are you working on now?

J: We’re working on the third book in the Val Ferrel series, ORACLE IN CHARGE. After that, sky’s the limit-we have a ton of ideas plus a handful of half-finished projects.

Do you make your covers yourself or do you hire a cover artist?

J: We’ve hired a cover artist and designer.

What do you think are the advantages of indie publishing? Of traditional publishing?

J: The biggest advantage of being independent is the money-we receive 70% of
our sales. No traditional publisher gives that kind of royalty. Plus, we control all aspects of the publishing-no publisher would give us final approval on cover art and design, interior art and design, marketing strategy, cover copy/sales copy, pub release dates, formats.

For us right now, there’s no advantage to being with a traditional publisher. Our goals are different than a traditional publisher, so being independent works better for us.

K: Also, our books don’t have a 3-6 month shelf life before being remaindered. Word of mouth works well on the internet.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

J: If you’re thinking about publishing yourself, hire (at least) a copyeditor and a cover designer. Have common sense expectations-it will take time for your potential fans to find you. Keep writing, keep publishing. Make mistakes, learn from them, do better next time. Never forget that publishing is a business.

If you’re not quite ready to publish, learn how to self-edit. Read everything. Do your homework on the craft. Don’t rely on spellcheck. Finish your projects even if you don’t think they’re “good enough”. It’s always easier to edit a draft than to struggle with the “perfect” sentence or scene or plot. Remember this is not a zero sum game-you are not competing with all the other writers in the world. Write what makes you happy-not all stories are for all people, and that’s okay.

K: For indie authors, remember you are your own promotions department. Learning something about advertising copy and marketing will be extremely helpful.

How can people get in touch with you?

They can reach us at garnetkj15@gmail.com

Blog:  https://kjgarnet.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/KJGarnetAuthor
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/14164918.K_J_Garnet
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterGarnet

And here’s the description of the first book of the series, Oracle in Doubt:

A failed psychic medium is forced to work with an enigmatic government agent to close a gate to the afterlife before it releases the dead back into the world of the living.

Val Ferrel was once a successful psychic medium for the Boston Police Department, until a botched case blew out her abilities and ended her career. Fleeing to the West Coast to escape family responsibilities, she struggles to make ends meet. When a simple job for a ghost-hunting show puts her in contact with an angry ghost and activates startling new psychic abilities, Val knows she’s in over her head.

Agent Daniel Norris, director of the Agency of Extra Sensory Remedy and Response, is cool, confident, and plans everything to the last detail. His Agency’s directive is to prevent the aristocratic psychic Families from returning to dynastic rule; his mission is to control a feisty psychic the Agency blames for the appearance of a new gate to the afterlife. But as Val destroys plan after well-laid plan, Daniel never dreams they’ll both hold the key to solving the case.

Working with the stuffy Agency director is the least of Val’s problems. Can she stay hidden from her own family before the aristocratic syndicates move in? More importantly, will she be able to control her own powers before the living fall prey to the dead?

Interview with indie author K.L. Schwengel – and announcing her new book Emergence!

Today I have something special for my readers, an interview with the talented K.L. Schwengel, founder of WIPpet Wednesday and a multi-published indie author.

K.L. Schwengel

First off, please tell us a little bit about your work.
I mainly write fantasy, although I have delved into paranormal as well as dystopian, and there are some SF bits in my notebook. Basically, if my muse throws it out there, I run with it. My writing tends to veer toward the heavy, dark side of things, even when I try to keep it light, though I still try to interject some humor along the way.

When you write fantasy, how do you go about world-building?
The same way I write: by the seat of my pants. Okay, so maybe that’s not entirely accurate. But I don’t do a lot of note-taking or planning for my world. It tends to unfold with my story. My worlds are so complete in my head that I don’t really need to ‘build’ them in the involved way some authors do. For the most part, I like my world to unfold via my characters; what they come up against, how they react, who they are…all those details define my world.

What kind of magic systems do you use?
I’ve always had a problem with movies and books in which magic is the answer to everything, and doesn’t have any real consequences. That’s given magic a bad rap, I think. Especially healing magic. Although I have healers who also possess magic, it’s not the wave-a-wand-or-say-a-spell-and-you’re-all-better type. Magical healers get drained when they help someone, and their patients still need time to recover. My magic always comes with a cost, and is never the first resort in a situation.

Do you have a writing routine?
Not really. I work full-time, and have a busy schedule outside of the day-job, so I have to sneak my writing in where I can. The only constant is music. I have to have music while I’m writing. Usually sans lyrics or I get caught up in those and forget where I’m at.

What made you decide to become an indie author?
Ah…that’s a complicated question. There wasn’t just one thing and, to be honest, I went in kicking and screaming. I had this notion that indie authors and the books they put out were somewhat less than traditionally published books. Go ahead, idiot slap me. My Sage helped me to realize the errors of my way and I jumped in. A lot of it had to do with me being somewhat *cough* of a control freak, as well as my desire to get my stories out there in front of readers. I was anxious for the world to see what I accomplished. I don’t put out anything I don’t love. And if I love it, I want to share those tales with others, hoping they’ll love it as well.

What have you already published?
I have a novella in Best Selling Author Devin O’Branagan’s anthology Witch Hunt: Of the Blood based on the characters from her book Witch Hunt.
There is Greylands … I think it’s being called a serial collaboration … it started as a writing exercise of sorts on Krista Walsh’s blog, and became an intertwined dystopian story that was published several months ago. Nine authors contributed, creating characters that got to play in Krista’s world. It was great fun, and really came together nicely. I was amazed by the final product. Truly.
And then there is my fantasy series Darkness & Light. The first book in the series First of Her Kind was published last year. The second book, Emergence, just came out. I hope to have the third, Edge of Darkness, out by the end of the year.

Emergence by K.L. Schwengel

What are you working on now?
Edge of Darkness, that whole end-of-the-year deadline looms. I also have a sword & sorcery piece tentatively entitled The Coinblade Chronicles, that I’m working on. Those are the two main WIPs. On the back burner is another fantasy I was thinking of serializing, and a contemporary urban fantasy/paranormal romance. As well as…well…others.

Do you make your covers yourself or do you hire a cover artist?
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and worked in advertising for a few years, so I’m cocky enough to believe I can create my own covers. I revealed the full spread from Emergence here and I’m actually quite pleased with it. But I’m also my own worse critic, and can be a bit picky (which is why I’m currently re-doing the cover for First of Her Kind). I think I would drive an artist crazy if I were to hire one to do them for me.

What do you think are the advantages of indie publishing? Of traditional publishing?
On the indie side you have complete control and total freedom. You truly own the entirety of your book’s fate. That’s a bit daunting for some, but I enjoy it.
On the traditional side, there’s that highly touted monetary advance, and the knowledge that you have a whole team of people handling (or at least helping with) editing, marketing, marketing, editing, distribution, all those things you have to figure out on your own when you go indie.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Write. No excuses. Every day if you can, even if it’s only a few words. Get that first draft on paper and don’t look back until you type ~Finis~. Yes, it’s going to suck. Yes, it will make you cringe. That’s its job. You can’t fix it until the story is told.
Be true to your characters and their tale. Don’t shrink from something because it makes you uncomfortable, or because you’re worried what others will think.
Most of all, find one or two people who will be truly honest with you about your writing. We all want to be told our writing is phenomenal, and we’ve penned the next great tale. But empty praise won’t help you grow. Yes, it will hurt. You’ll need to develop a thick skin. But when you emerge on the other side, it will be a wonderful thing, and those tears and blows to your ego will have only made you stronger.

How can people get in touch with you?
Blog: http://myrandommuse.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KLSchwengelWrites
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kathils01/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KLSchwengel
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6871795.K_L_Schwengel

Thank you very much for joining us here on Indie Adventures, Kathi, and best of luck with Emergence!

Kathi’s new book can be purchased on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes&Noble, and will soon be coming to Kobo as well.