Indie Author Spotlight #14: Jeremy Jones

Indie Author SpotlightWelcome to Indie Author Spotlight #14, where I’ll be introducing you to Jeremy Jones. I thoroughly enjoyed Jeremy’s first book, Ruins of Empire #1: Saturnius Mons, which I just finished up last week in preparation for this post. I’m impressed by the professionalism of Jeremy’s book, and the complexity of his story. He leads each chapter with an excerpt from a fictional book about the fall of civilization as it happens in the world of the story, which means he wrote the book AND its history. It really is fascinating, and works incredibly well. Jeremy provided me a free copy of Saturnius Mons, but I’ll be purchasing book two and eagerly awaiting whatever else he writes!

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Welcome, Jeremy, and thank you for being interested in the Indie Author Spotlight! I’ve already given readers an inkling of what you write about, but please tell us about your favorite writing genres. 

I’m most interested in sci-fi and speculative fiction, although recently my short stories and random projects have taken a distinctly dystopian, cyberpunk direction. My interest in those genres lie in my fascination with technology coupled with a growing dread about where it will lead us.

I think you do a fabulous job of following that thread in Saturnius Mons. Please tell us about the series! 

The first two books of my Ruins of Empire series are out. It’s a pulp, sci-fi space adventure series that blends some Cowboy Bebop/ Firefly action with some larger questions about Civilization and human nature. You can find them on Amazon or Barnes and Nobel.  Both are also available as a free podcast novel. You can find them if you look up Ruins of Empire on iTunes or Stitcher. They are pretty good if I do say so myself.

If the first book is any indication, they ARE good, and I do intend to read the second (and subsequent books!). It definitely displays a development of craft. Let’s talk about your writing – how long have you been writing?

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in writing on some level. My mother has stashed away somewhere my first indie book that I wrote, illustrated and bound (with staples but still…) when I was five or six.  It was a crudely drawn children’s book about a bird that eats a bug. It was kinda cute and had all the elements of a story:

Motivation: the bird is hungry.

A Goal: the bird wants to eat a bug.

Conflict: the bug does not wish to be eaten.

Climax: the bird chases the bug down a hole

Resolution: the bird eats the bug.

Not exactly child prodigy material but not bad for a booger-eater.

Well I, for one, am glad that you continued writing. Why do you seep writing stories?

Because people got really annoyed with me that one year I followed them around trying to tell them my stories out loud.

Seriously though, writing is simply the medium that I can best use to communicate stories right now. And stories help the world make sense. They bring a sense of order in a Universe built on chaos. There is something deep in our collective psyche that gets excited by the phrase, ‘let me tell you a story.’ I am naturally drawn to that.

I love that! I definitely read to help me make sense of the world, and I appreciate you authors who write for the same purpose. Can you tell us a little about the development of your writing process?

It took me well into my 30s to get to a point where I could start writing a book and part of the reason was that I refused to outline anything. I stubbornly believed that sitting down and thinking about things like structure and characters would crush the frail flower of creative genius under the boot of organized oppression.

I was kind of an idiot in my 20s.

It wasn’t until a few fellow writers patiently explained over and over again the value of an outline that I sat down and grudgingly did the work and it worked. So I did more outlining and suddenly my first drafts were better than my second or third. Consequently my Ruins of Empire series is heavily outlined.

But deep in my heart I am a pantser and so last year, just for fun, I started a side project that was much closer to how I used to write when I was younger. No outline. No plan. Just page after page of one thing leading to another. I don’t know what will come of it but it’s a fun experiment to see if an older, wiser Jeremy can pants an entire novel.

Don’t be so hard on your younger self! We all learn and grow as we age, right? So, how do you fit writing time into your life?  

I have a pretty strict window of time that I reserve for writing. Five days a week, two hours before work every day: that’s Writing Time. No chores will be performed. No meals prepared. No errands run. Just a man, his coffee, and his WIP.

And so far it’s worked out. My wife is very supportive and respectful of that window of time. Life does get in the way, as it tends to do, and occasionally steals it right out of my hands. But there’s always the next day and another chance to fight for that precious time.

That said, I’m proud to say that my wife is pregnant with our first kid. He is due in October and I imagine that it’s going to erode the defenses around Writing Time. I will lose more battles for that time but, at this point, writing is such a part of my daily routine that I can’t imagine a lot of it going away.

That sound you are hearing is a hundred writer-moms giggling at my stunning naiveté.

Congratulations! Once you’ve worked out your post-baby writing routine, what can we look forward to seeing from you next? 

So Ruins of Empire is a seven-part series sci-fi space adventure series about a group of explorers visiting lost human colonies scattered around the solar system. Each one takes place on another planet or moon. The first two take place on Titan and Venus respectively. The third, which is in progress, is a medical mystery in the asteroids. The fourth will be a pitched land battle on the Martian plains and after that . . . well you’ll have to see.

And once that series is done I probably have ten or more outlines waiting to be lifted up and built into real books. I will be as excited as anyone to see which ones make the cut.

That is a LOT, which, as a fan, is really exciting! I’m intrigued to watch Althea unravel the medical mystery . . . you’ve gotten my high-school-wanna-be-a-doctor self all interested now! Let’s move on to what you like to do for fun; tell us what you like to read and about any other hobbies you have.  

I read a lot of sci-fi, dystopian and any genre with ‘punk’ in the title. A little bit of fantasy, some literary fiction. A lot of humor and dark humor. And I enjoy dipping my toe into non-fiction especially on topics concerning history or science. My writing heroes include Hunter S. Thompson, Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk, and Terry Pratchett. I also have a soft spot for trashy pulp sci-fi and adventure novels from the 70s and 80s.

Outside of books, I’ve made homemade beer for a number of years, a hobby that has morphed into a strange career for me so I’m not sure I can consider it a hobby although I do spend a lot of time doing it in my off time. I’m also an amateur musician and have recently discovered backpacking and am slowly exploring the back country of my home state of Idaho. There’s a lot of it so it might take me a while.

What is your goal as a writer, and is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

My dream is to make a living telling my stories. I’d love to wake up, slam some words together, sell some books, and have that be enough to keep food on the table. It’s a modest dream but, when you think about how few writers can actually do it exclusively, even fairly successful writers, it becomes more daunting. I dream of a world that respects artists more and has systems in place so that they can do their art and not have to waste their time making coffee or waiting tables for a class of people that produce nothing . . . but I digress. That’s not the world we live in.

About me . . . I look at the world differently than most. I suppose most artists do, otherwise why would we bother? But my greatest hope is that the reader gets taken on a little journey. They get flung through a madcap world and, on the other side, maybe they see their surroundings with new eyes.

Find Jeremy and his books:

You can find my stuff at www.sagaofinsanity.com

Also on Twitter and Instagram @alleywayrover

Or look up Author Jeremy L. Jones on Facebook

And my books on Amazon:

Ruins of Empire: Saturnius Mons

Ruins of Empire: Templum Veneris 

And, of course, the free serialized podcast version

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Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at kristin@theedifyingword.com!

Indie Author Spotlight #13: William Roundy

Indie Author SpotlightWelcome to week thirteen (!) of the Indie Author Spotlight. I originally changed this feature to run every other week so I could pop in and write about other things, but instead all my extra brainpower and time has pretty much gone to figuring out how to homeschool my kids (which should give me lots to write about! We’re going to read A LOT. and learn to read.) So, I’m especially thankful that so many authors have been interested in participating in this spotlight because it keeps me from totally neglecting the blog . . . AND I love that I’m meeting so many new-to-me authors. Today’s guest is new-to-everyone, because he has yet to publish. I’m really excited to introduce you all to William Roundy, and you can be sure I’ll let you all know when his first book releases! 

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Welcome, William! Tell us about what genres you write in.

I work in a variety of genres. I don’t really love the idea of getting locked into one and would rather tell each story as it needs to be told. My primary work in progress is a horror, but I am also working on a literary fiction as well as a science fiction. I haven’t dabbled too much in fantasy, and don’t have any immediate plans to do so, but only time will tell on that front. I enjoy the freedom of simply being able to sit down and write, without having to shoe-horn myself into only one genre.

That’s one of the beautiful things about self-publishing! You don’t have to choose a genre if you don’t want to. I know you haven’t published yet, but you sound like you write prolifically. Have you been writing long?

I’ve been writing creatively ever since I was about six years old and I was telling stories orally even before that. I’ve always loved creative new worlds and people to inhabit them. All that said, I started writing seriously two years ago, when I was twenty-one.

So clearly writing has been a part of your entire life. Why do you continue to write?

As many authors have said in the past, and as many will continue to say in the future, I feel a compulsion to write. For me, it doesn’t feel like I have much of a choice. When I take breaks, or life gets in the way, and I’m not writing frequently, I feel like I’m sort of missing a part of myself. It’s the reason I tell people I’ll continue to write even if I never make a dime off it – I love it just that much.

Tell us a little about your writing process!

As much as I sometimes wish I was a better plotter, I am most definitely a pantser. I really love the act of sitting down with an idea, and letting it lead me where it wants to go. I think it was Neil Gaiman who said it was a lot like driving in the fog with a headlight out; you can only see a few feet ahead and only sort of see where you’re going. I really like that analogy and I probably say it more than I should. There is something, in my opinion, that is really beautiful about letting your story and your characters come to
life and walk you through their world. In some ways, it feels almost like I am only an observer, and I just happen to record things as they happen. That isn’t to say that I never outline, I do, but they are always loose maps which are subject to change.

So you mentioned your current WIP is horror. What can you tell us about it?

Right now I am working on drafting my debut horror novel, “Those Who Remain.” When the residents of a small town in Massachusetts begin to go missing without explanation, a curfew is set in place – no one can travel alone, and never after dark. After a twelve-year old’s mother joins the growing list of missing persons, he decides it is his responsibility to look for her – after all, it is his fault that she is gone.

I’ve seen you post some teasers on Twitter about that! It sounds intriguing! Do you read as widely as you write, and do you have any favorite books? 

I don’t really have a favorite genre to read. I love suspense, but I think suspense can be translated into a wide range of genres. My favorite book, however, is “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson. It was the first book that gripped me so much I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in one day when I was about twelve, and I’ve read it twice since then. Another, more recent read that quickly found its way to my favorites list is “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman. I just think it’s a tremendously fun read. A few others are “Crime and Punishment,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” and “In Cold Blood.”

Eek. “In Cold Blood” remains to this day the primary reason hitchhikers terrify me. I read it as a teenager and had to sleep with the lights on for a good long time after reading it. It still creeps me out to think about it. When you’re not reading or writing, what do you do for fun?

I enjoy rock climbing and hiking, drawing (though I’m not very good at it these days), and I am a real sucker for true crime shows.

I’d love to hear more about your climbing sometime! I used to climb, though I haven’t been since before my third child was born (FOUR YEARS AGO). I have dreams of climbing with my husband again . . . But I digress. Please tell us what your goals, your dreams, are as a writer.

Ultimately my author dream is just to write stories that, hopefully, people enjoy. As I said, I’d do it for free if I couldn’t do it for money. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a dream of doing this full-time though. I think a lot of writers have a craving for that, and I guess that’s what I’m trying to make happen. At the same time, though, I try to keep a realistic outlook on things and more than anything I try to enjoy the process.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

I think this is probably the hardest question here. I’m still in that in-between phase in my writing career where I don’t feel terribly interesting. I suppose the biggest thing I’d want my readers to know is just that I value them. I realize that sounds cliché and generic, but it really is true. I write because I love to write, but I also really love to share that writing with others. Right now, obviously no one has a completed manuscript of mine, but a lot of people have snippets that I’ve sent them for beta-reading. I’m immensely grateful for those people and all they’ve done to help me on this journey. Putting out work for the first time can be (is) frightening, nerve-wracking, and sometimes downright depressing. But it’s always insanely exciting. I mean, it’s always a nice feeling when someone enjoys what you have made. The end goal of writing is to get your work into the hands of readers; to share your creation with them. As a writer, without the reader, I am nothing.

Follow William Roundy on Twitter (@william_roundy_) for first-hand knowledge of his writing exploits. If you’re not on Twitter, rest assured that I’ll alert you when his current WIP is published.

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Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at kristin@theedifyingword.com!

Indie Author Spotlight #12: Meet Katrina Hokule’a Ariel

Indie Author SpotlightThank you for coming back to read more of the Indie Author Spotlight. Today I’m featuring my twelfth author, Katrina Ariel, mom, yogi, musician, writer, designer, etc. I read and loved Katrina’s romance novel (which I might even call women’s fiction), we chat about kids, life, and writing on Twitter, and I’ve even watched her yoga videos! Plus, I get to call her a client! It’s been a privilege to get to know Katrina and support her writing, and I hope your lives will be enriched by hearing her story and reading her books! 

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Katrina, thank you for participating in the Indie Author Spotlight! Can you talk to us a little about what genres you write in? I’ve sort of hinted at your ability to mix them . . .

I do tend to hop genres and blend them together. My published books are non-fiction and contemporary romance, but most of my unpublished manuscripts are fantasy, sci-fi, and speculative fiction. Whatever I’m writing, there’s always soul searching and magic, even if it’s subtle, and a romantic sub-plot or two.

What motivates you to write? 

Writing gives me a way to express myself that’s my own. It reminds me who I am. And it gives me freedom to adventure anywhere and everywhere in my imagination, which I think is one of life’s greatest joys.

Your adventuring and soul searching have definitely brought great joy to my life, as I thought Wild Horse Heart was a wonderful read. Though my marriage is (thankfully) nothing like Ria’s, I identified with her search for self, with her slow accumulation of confidence and strength, with her role as a mother. Please tell us about Wild Horse Heart and your other published work, Yoga for Dragon Riders.

Wild Horse Heart is a romantic suspense novel set in the film industry that straddles the line between romance and women’s fiction. The action takes place in Hollywood and on location at a horse ranch in Canada, where the plot twines between that of the film they’re making and behind-the-scenes struggles. Available as paperback and eBook: http://amzn.to/2rDZI7Z

Yoga for Dragon Riders is a comprehensive, unorthodox yoga manual written for fantasy lovers. It covers a wide range of practices, with meditation, breathwork, mantra, sacred texts, and philosophic offerings from nature and beyond. It’s beautifully illustrated, with hundreds of photos and detailed descriptions of yoga poses and alignment, as well as sequences that can be modified to suit a home practice. The paperback version is recommended, but an eBook can work if you need to travel light. http://amzn.to/1a2g3Dq

Yoga for Dragon Riders sound so interesting! I’m going to add it to my wish-list (hint hint, family and friends!). Earlier you mentioned that writing is a way to express yourself; has this always been the case? 

I’ve always been a daydreamer. Poetry got me through my teen years, and songwriting got me through my twenties. I started writing full-length manuscripts with a laughable first attempt at a screenplay in 2010, and learned a lot from that. In 2012 I published my yoga manual, at the height of my teaching career. And then I had kids. I’ve written all nine of my novels since being pregnant with twins six years ago.

Wait, you’ve written NINE novels since becoming a parent? How do you manage to pull that off?!

Balancing writing and parenting is a constant challenge. I’m lucky to have a spouse who has worked a job to support us all, so I could be with my kids. Due to the pandemic, neither of us are working, so that’s a thing, but I count my blessings every day that we live in Canada, where we have good support systems. It’s nice to have this time together as a family, but sometimes I feel guilty not spending time with my kids when I want to write.

I’ve always been a night owl, and tend to stay up obscenely late to get my words in, which is often when I do my best writing. Of course, the danger of repeated late nights is turning into Zombie Mommy and slipping into a degrading mental space, so I make myself go to bed earlier than my creative drive wants some nights. My saving grace is the fact that my twins are five now, and able to look after themselves when they wake up, so I can sleep in. Hallelujah!

Mom-guilt is a real struggle, I totally understand; same goes for me with my editing and blogging. When you do get that late-night writing time, what new things are you working on?

So many projects. I have a series I’m hoping to self-publish in the next year or so—a fantasy romance saga set in the Highlands of Scotland, the rugged Teton mountains, the edge of the Nordic sea, and the Realm of the Gods. I was planning to get it ready for release in 2020, but I’ve pushed myself to meet unreasonable publishing deadlines before, and the stress isn’t worth it. I’ve been writing this series for six years. I’m going to take my time to make it every bit as special a story as it deserves.

I’m also in the process of revising a handful of manuscripts with the intention of querying and pursuing traditional publishing. I have an epic fantasy with a slow-burn romance that would appeal to fans of Kristin Britain’s Green Rider and Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars. Next in line is a sci-fi with elements of Rogue One, Doctor Strange, and Moana. And on the back burner, scratching at my mind with dragon claws, is a future fantasy with mage-warriors and mythical creatures that has the grit of The Arrow and the atmosphere of Pirates of the Caribbean.

I’ve decided to publish my fantasy and sci-fi books under the pen name Leia Talon. I chose the name Leia because it’s the last part of my middle name, Hokule’a, and as a tribute to the rebel princess who’s been my idol since I was two. Talon invokes an element of nature, which is super important to me, and adds a bit of swagger I’m hoping gives me confidence when I’m doing author appearances. 😉

You really do cross genres! I’m particularly intrigued by how you’ve worked Moana into your sci-fi, but I will undoubtedly aim to read anything you or Leia Talon (awesome name!) publish! Do you read as widely as you write? 

I read lots of children’s books, as I spend more time reading to my kids than I get reading by myself. Some children’s books that I love: I Am Enough by Grace Byers, I’m in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor, and Of Thee I Sing by Barak Obama.

For myself, I tend to read fantasy more than anything, preferably with a romantic sub-plot. Some semi-recent personal favorites are Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Claire, and Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine. Classics that will always be on my shelf include Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Fionavar Tapestry, Christopher Moore’s Lamb, the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce, and the stories that shaped me as a child: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

As far as indie authors go, I highly recommend A Thousand Years to Wait by L. Ryan Storms. My current read is Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse.

I’m amazed that I have not read any of the books you listed, except for the Chronicles of Narnia. I now have a lot to add to my TBR – and I’ll definitely check out the kids books you recommended! I’m always looking for different things to read the kids! Now, I’m going to ask — when you’re not writing, reading to your kids, or doing yoga, what do you do (besides sleep, ha!)?

I love hiking. Being in the quiet of a forest is my medicine. Paddle boarding on a peaceful lake is another treat when I find the time. I try to garden, which I mostly enjoy, but I don’t really know what I’m doing.

I’m a musician, and love to sing, especially while hiking—Disney-princess style. My guitars and piano are largely ignored as I focus on writing, but I play when I can. Music feeds the soul.

Another of my passions is rescue animals. I advocate for local rescues and donate locally and internationally as I can. A portion of proceeds from the sales of Wild Horse Heart goes to a wild Mustang sanctuary that also offers horse therapy programs to help those recovering from trauma. I’ll just drop their website here in case anyone’s feeling generous. Even small donations help: https://wildhorserescue.org/

Wow – so much! What the forest does for you, the ocean does for me, though I’ve probably spent more time in the forest than by the ocean in the past many years. Also, I could definitely get behind some Disney-princess style singing in the outdoors! You seem to bring a lot of creativity and passion to whatever you do, and that is evident in what I’ve seen of your writing. What would it look like for you if you were to achieve your dream as a writer? 

The ultimate dream would be to have a slew of books that inspire readers, and for them to be successful enough to allow me to write for a living. I’d love to have one or more of my stories be turned into a film or series, even better if I can work behind the scenes on set! But really, just making enough that I could support my family and drop generous donations to charities I care about would rock my world. These goals seem like a reach right now, so I remind myself that the most important thing is for people to connect with my books, and find something in the words that makes their souls soar.

If that’s the case, you’ve accomplished what’s most important. Is there anything else you’d like for readers to know about you? 

I turned 42 this year, and I’ve been contemplating the questions of Life, the Universe, and Everything. My answers are: humility, kindness, and nature.

Please help Katrina reach the rest of her author dream by picking up copies of her books. At the very least, connect with her online for some positiveness and light in your life!

Wild Horse Heart: http://amzn.to/2rDZI7Z

Yoga for Dragon Riders: http://amzn.to/1a2g3Dq

Website: http://katrinaariel.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatrinaAriel

YouTube (music and yoga videos):  https://www.youtube.com/user/YogaWithKatrina

 

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Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at kristin@theedifyingword.com!