Indie Author Spotlight #15: Recap Post!

Indie Author SpotlightThis week I’m recapping the 14 individuals who have been lovely enough to join me for the Indie Author Spotlight so far. In truth, I didn’t have time these past two weeks to read any books for authors on my list of upcoming participants, so I thought it would be a good time to give any new followers an opportunity to look back at the series. Please take a look through, click back to any posts you’ve missed, and find some new authors to read! See you again in two weeks with another indie author!

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

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 keep 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!