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!

Indie Author Spotlight: EJ Fisch ~ Science Fiction/Thriller mashup!

Indie Author SpotlightWelcome to week SIX of Indie Author Spotlight by The Edifying Word. We’re switching genres this week to sci-fi, with a sort of thriller twist. I used to think I didn’t read sci-fi (I wrote a post about that once), but really I find myself reading and enjoying it more and more. Doesn’t hurt that my 8yo seems to like it, so I end up reading some with her, too. I’m please to introduce you to EJ Fisch, who will talk to us a little about herself and her writing!   

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One of the coolest things about putting together this series is that I’ve gotten introduced to so many new books. I’ve been doing my best to read at least one book from every author I feature, so when EJ Fisch expressed interest in participating I picked up her first book, Dakiti, which I just finished a couple of days ago. I really enjoyed it, and do plan to read the rest of the series. 

So, broadly speaking you write sci-fi. After reading Dakiti, I feel like it’s a little bit of a cross with thriller, though. Are all your books a hybrid like this one?

You’re right, my sci-fi comes with a twist. My current series, of which Dakiti is the first book, is character-driven space opera with kind of a spy/military thriller twist—lots of action and intrigue, but happening in a fictional galaxy with a cast of superhuman characters. All of my future story ideas are also sci-fi but have varying subgenres like post-apocalyptic and cyberpunk.

Tell us about your books and where we can get them!

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My Ziva Payvan series—the aforementioned space opera/spy thriller mashup—is currently available on all major ebook platforms and in paperback. The saga begins with an elite operative (the series namesake Ziva Payvan) being forced to team up with the brother of a man she killed in order to stop a threat to their world. Shenanigans ensue. The main trilogy consists of Dakiti, Nexus, and Ronan (+ an omnibus edition containing all three), and then there’s Fracture: Ziva Payvan Legacy, Part 1. Embers, which is part 2, is still in the works and I’m aiming for a year-end release. While all five books are technically part of the series, I consider the two Legacy books kind of a collective sequel to the main trilogy.

I really enjoyed Dakiti, and I was shocked when I heard when you wrote it! Can you share with readers when you started writing?

I’ve been writing to some extent since I was probably 10 or 11, but I didn’t really start writing “seriously” until I was in junior high and even high school. A couple of friends and I had this goofy Star Wars roleplaying game going via AOL instant messenger in 7th and 8th grade and I used to take our chat transcripts and novelize them. It was at that point that I started to think, “Hey, I could probably write a real novel-length story if I wanted.” I started developing some new characters and some new plots and experimented with some little one-shots. I actually wrote the majority of Dakiti during high school, then spruced it up fairly extensively a few years ago when I decided to pursue publishing.

Seems like writing has been a part of your life for a long time. Why do you write?

Frankly, I think I’d go insane otherwise. I admittedly have a very a vivid imagination and am always thinking “what if,” so creating new worlds and characters is a constructive way for me to explore all of those ideas. Writing just feels like the natural solution. It’s an outlet.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I gave pantsing my best shot when I first started developing the two Ziva Payvan Legacy books, and looking back on it, I really should have known better. I’m a plotter at heart, and I ended up wasting an enormous amount of time (we’re talking like three years—yikes) before I finally went back and wove what little material I had into a detailed outline. After that, I was able to progress much more smoothly. An outline serves as a roadmap for me, and I’ve always had to at least have a high-level list of major scenes/events before I even begin a new project. As I’ve worked on Embers, I’ve created an outline for each chapter, leaving space for extra notes because it never fails that I come up with more ideas for little details I don’t want to forget. I’ve really enjoyed using the GoodNotes on my iPad so I can sync it with my phone and jot things down wherever I am.

How do you fit writing into your life? 

I have a day job, so it can sometimes be tricky to fit writing into my schedule. When I’m really on a roll, I usually don’t have much trouble finding the time, but more often than not, writing is competing with several other hobbies for the limited free time I have. I’ve gotten to where I do all my drafting in Google Docs so I can access my work from pretty much any device at any time, and I think that has really helped. Even if I’m not actively working on the story, I’m still connected to it.

It’ll take me a bit to get through the books you’ve already published, but can you share anything about your upcoming projects?

Embers is definitely my primary project right now and I’m planning on it being the final installment in the Ziva Payvan saga (with “planning” being the keyword—I wasn’t originally “planning” on Fracture and Embers even existing, but here we are). One of my future ideas is for a semi-comedic sci-fi adventure/heist story I’m describing as “Ocean’s Eleven in space,” and then I’ve got a space-opera-meets-post-apocalyptic story idea that will involve a bounty hunter guild and a character who belongs to another race featured in my current series. Then there’s kind of a near-future-Earth cyberpunk/psychological thriller idea I’ve actually had longer than the others, but it’s not as big of a priority as they are.

Currently, one of my biggest dreams is to have my books adapted into graphic novels. I’ve been really into the Lazarus graphic novel series by Greg Rucka, and every time I read it, I think my material would be perfect for that sort of thing and I imagine how cool it would be to see it visualized on the page. It’s one of those things that I could probably do myself if I tried, but it would take me a thousand years and I’d have to devote all my time solely to that project. And if someone else was developing it, I’d be hovering constantly to make sure it was done the way I wanted. So while it’s a nice dream to have, I’m not taking it super seriously at the moment.

I don’t tend to read graphic novels, but I can see how your books would fit really well, and it would be really neat to see visual representations of the different species and their characteristics. You mention you’d do it yourself – are you an artist as well? What other hobbies do you have? 

Yes! Digital art is a big hobby of mine. I do all of my own cover art and concept art, so even when I’m drawing instead of writing, chances are it’s still somehow related to the story. I’m also a sucker for story-based RPGs, but gaming is dangerous because if I get caught up in a new game, I typically don’t get anything else done, regardless of how much I want to. I keep saying I’ll have to make myself finish Embers before Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla comes out this holiday season or it’s never going to get done. Ha! And, of course, reading, but that tends to fall by the wayside a lot.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Favorite books?

They say write what you like to read, so it should come as no surprise that I enjoy reading a) sci-fi and b) thrillers (bonus points for a combination). Space opera is definitely my favorite sci-fi subgenre, but I’ll read most types of sci-fi if a given book’s premise grabs my attention. I love Hugh Howey’s Silo trilogy and have enjoyed a number of space opera works by other indie authors, such as G.S. Jennsen’s sprawling Amaranthe saga and Joel Shepherd’s Spiral Wars series (which I’ve fallen miserably behind in, I fear). My CP T.A. Hernandez also has a great dystopian thriller trilogy with a dash of sci-fi. On the purely thriller side, I’ve really enjoyed David Baldacci’s Will Robie series (government assassins, anyone?). The plots feel a little far-fetched at times, but the two protagonists are wonderfully written.

What do you want readers to know about you?

I’m always up for connecting on social media (links below). I’m happy to discuss my books, characters, or just chat about writing and reading in general. And it’s always fun to connect with people over other random mutual interests. Sometimes it feels like I spend more time tweeting about video games and cats than I do about books.

Thank you so much to EJ Fisch for taking the time to answer my questions! Please check out her website and find her on twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Also, buy her books from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, and Google Play.

 

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