Author Spotlight – SF Benson

Today’s spotlight is extra fun because it’s Author SF Benson’s birthday! So we are wishing you a very Happy Birthday from the Debut Collective! Also, a HUGE congrats on being nominated for Best Debut Novel in the UTOPiA Awards!

The Debut Collective is a supportive tribe of authors (both published and aspiring), editors, formatters, and cover designers working together to foster a new generation of stories and authors. We will be publishing 5 short story anthologies in June 2016.

We are pleased to share the following interview with contributing author, SF Benson.

 

ShantellaPlease share a little about yourself and your background.

I’m a Michigan native, living in Georgia with my husband, a daughter, and a couple of miniature fur kids (two female short-haired guinea pigs). At one time our household included three Samoyeds, saltwater fish, a hamster, and three guinea pigs.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I had a hard time finding my niche. So instead of writing I had a variety of positions which ‘fed’ my creative brain—blogger/reviewer, customer service representative, veterinary assistant, marketing assistant, editorial assistant, receptionist, and even cashier for women’s clothing and shoes. I graduated from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo with a degree in Communications. I guess I’ve used facets of my degree in everything I’ve done.

I believe my struggle with writing was due to writing in the wrong genre, women’s fiction. It didn’t suit me and I gave up. It wasn’t until my husband approached me after I quit my last job that I plunged forward. I was stuck in the job search, nothing was happening. He told me to pursue my dream, but do it 110 percent. No half-attempts. So I entered NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2014 and completed my first rough draft.

I’m an avid bookworm, who appreciates a well-written book regardless of genre. As a kid, I read a little of everything from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Sylvia Plath. If it sparked my interests, which constantly changed, I read it. My longest obsession was probably with witches. I read a lot of nonfiction books on the topic.

regressPlease share information on any published or upcoming books.

My first YA book, Regress: the Alliance Chronicles, released in March 2016. It’s the first book in a post-apocalyptic series, which takes place after the fall of the United States in the year 2025. Creativity has been banned. The new government of the American Republic is run by scientists and technologists. There’s a mandatory vaccine, given to only seventeen-year-olds, that has weird side effects on Creatives. There are two teens with a shared past. They team up to uncover a government conspiracy.

The Alliance Chronicles is a series about fighting for what you believe in. Tru Shepard believed in her right to make her own choices in her life. She fought, and grew up in the process, for her belief. She had to step out of her own way, put aside her fears and doubts, and embrace the possibility of greatness. Sometimes we have to do things we’re uncomfortable with in order to achieve our desires.

I have a zombie short story, “The RELIC Experiment” which will be published in a Dystopian anthology, And The World Will Burn. Proceeds from sales will go to the Amputee Coalition of America. Cameo Renae has written the foreword for the collection. There are fifteen stories in the book. It’s currently on pre-order at http://amzn.to/1YpI0LG

Which Debut Collective anthology/anthologies will you be published in?

I have two stories in two different collections—Secret Identity (“Ever After”) and Against All Odds (“Cursed Hearts”).

 

Share a brief teaser or logline for your story/stories.

SF teaserHe wiped my lower lip and licked his thumb. “You are magnificent.” His canines were lowered. “I’d never tasted a succubus before.” –Victor from “Cursed Hearts”

SF teaser 2Ace stroked my hair. “You did good, darling. There won’t be much to clean up this time.” –Ace, “Ever After”

Share an insight into your main character. What made you want to write a story from their perspective?

For “Cursed Hearts”, I love stories about succubi, but all the ones I’d read were about adults. Playing the ‘what if’ game I thought about the plight of a teenager. Kelsie is like any typical teenage girl—interested in boys and seeking love. Well, love can’t be easy for a succubus.

For “Ever After,” I wanted a strong supernatural but I didn’t want a super hero. I thought back to the legends and I thought about unnatural pairings. That’s how Morgan came about. Her parents are related to Dracula and Morgan le Faye, strong supernatural beings. She has a foot in each of their worlds. It makes her a hybrid with strong, unusual powers.

What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to that genre?

I’m a speculative fiction author writing primarily dystopian/science fiction and paranormal. I love answering the ‘what if’ question and these two genres allow me the freedom to explore that question.

nomineeDescribe a typical writing day, or is there such a thing for you? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Write in Scrivener, notebooks, or on cocktail napkins?

No day is typical for me, but I do try hard to adhere to some sort of schedule. I try to get the social media things done first and then tackle business issues (right now those are marketing my book). After those things I work on whatever my goals are for the week. On my blog, The WordSmithe, I have a weekly featured entitled “The Soul of a Writer”. I post my goals for the week. So what I do each day reflects those goals. Right now, I’m re-reading “Rescue: the Alliance Chronicles, Book Two” before it goes out to beta readers. I’m also revising an urban fantasy, “A Demon’s Birthright”. It’s tentative release date is December 2016.

I am using Scrivener with the urban fantasy. Book Two of the Alliance Chronicles was written before I won a copy of Scrivener.

Are you a plotter (outline plot) or a pantser (prefer to run with an idea)?

I’m a recovering pantser! “Regress” was written as a pantser. I’m notorious for over planning things. I start out working on an outline for “Regress” and I got bogged down with it to the point where I wouldn’t have gotten words on paper. So I scrapped it and just started writing. Good for the rough draft, but terrible for a finished product. It took five revisions for that book. With “Rescue” I found an outline necessary to make sure I didn’t skip over details needed to be covered. I think that anything fantasy-driven requires some sort of outline. Being an urban fantasy, I needed a ‘map’, if you will, to keep the details straight.

What book(s) are you currently reading or would you recommend?

Oh man… tough question for a bookworm. I’m reading quite a few different things. Recommendations are definitely easier. When it comes to contemporary romance, three authors come to mind—Claire Contreras, Corinne Michaels, and Sunniva Dee. These ladies could write cookbook details and I’d buy them! Seriously. Their books are that good and I’ve read more than one. When it comes to the paranormal, I’d recommend anything by Stacey Marie Brown, Casey L. Bond, and Lila Felix. I love their writing styles. I just finished H.D. Gordon’s “The Company Store”. It’s a must read for fans of dystopia. Authors covering relative contemporary issues would be Venessa Kimball and Shawn McGuire.

What is your favorite writing/reading related quote?

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” From Robin Williams, Dead Poet’s Society

Tell us 5 random facts about you:

  1. I’m a Michigan native.
  2. I used to show Samoyeds (I was the groomer and my husband was the handler).
  3. I’ve worked in a variety of industries.
  4. I was a Girl Scout leader for nearly 10 years.
  5. I’ve lived in three states.

Does music influence your writing? If so, can you share a song that inspired your Debut Collective anthology story?

I love music when writing. I create a playlist for each story I write. For the Debut Collective stories, I stuck with my general paranormal playlist. For “Ever After” I kept listening to Aerosmith “Jaded”. For “Cursed Hearts” it was Evanescence. It didn’t matter which song from that group, they’re all good.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? How has participating in the collective and the anthology project inspired or pushed you creatively?

I know it’s cliché, but don’t stop writing—ever! I wish someone had told me that back in the day. I know everything happens for a reason, including all the numerous jobs I’ve had, but I feel if someone had said that to me I may have finished a manuscript before 2014.

Participating in the Collective gave me the support I so desperately needed. I had others to bounce ideas off of, which is vital to being a writer. This path is a solo one in so many regards. It’s up to the individual to find a tribe, a village, to help lift them. Without support, a writer can easily slip into depression and never accomplish anything. We need our solitude to create, but we need people to feed our creativity. We want to be alone, but being alone 365 days, 24 hours every day is not conducive to success. It’s another reason why I didn’t get much done before Utopia. I knew I wanted to publish my book, but I needed people to: 1) educate me, 2) motivate me, and 3) encourage me. Without those things, The Alliance Chronicles would be sitting in a box.

 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website or Blog: https://www.authorsfbenson.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BensonSF/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BensonShantella

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/shahben/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15019441.S_F_Benson

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/SFBenson/e/B01DI9Z58Q/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Instagram: @authorsfbenson

 

 

Author Spotlight – Kelly Risser

Today we’re introducing you to contributor and award winning Author Kelly Risser! She happens to be one of the nicest people ever as a bonus to her talents while putting pen to paper. And check out the opening to her story below… EEK! Love it! 

KellyRisserKelly Risser knew at a young age what she wanted to be when she grew up. Unfortunately, Fairytale Princess was not a lucrative career. Leaving the castle and wand behind, she entered the world of creative business writing where she worked in advertising, marketing, and currently, eLearning instructional design.

When Kelly is not immersed in the middle of someone else’s fantasy world, she’s busy creating one of her own. Never Forgotten is her first complete series, which includes Never Forgotten, Current Impressions, Always Remembered, and Sea of Memories, a novella collection. Kelly is one of the authors of award-winning Fractured Glass and 7: The Seven Deadly Sins. She also has a short story in the Twists in Time anthology. You can visit her at http://www.KellyRisser.com.

 

Please share information on any published or upcoming books.

Never Forgotten (Never Forgotten Series Book 1) is FREE!

“Risser keeps her focus on the little details of Meara’s everyday life, lending the book a nice, homey charm.” ~Kirkus Reviews

“NEVER FORGOTTEN is a sweet romance with a paranormal twist!” ~InD’Tale Magazine

USA BEST BOOK AWARDS (2014) AND INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS (2015) FINALIST.

NeverForgottenSeries

Meara Quinn is about to find out there are worse things than moving to a tiny oceanside town before her senior year. Like discovering there’s a secret being kept from her and knowing it’s a life-changer.

After experiencing vivid visions of her absentee father, Meara decides she deserves answers. With the help of her new friend Evan, a guy she happens to be falling for, she embarks on a journey in the hopes of unlocking family history and finding her true self. But when she meets a handsome stranger at a local club who knows far more about her than he should, her world is again shaken. In him, Meara may have uncovered the key to the very secret that will reveal not only who she is… but what she is.

http://www.amazon.com/Never-Forgotten-Book-ebook/dp/B00LEZ92TA/

https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/never-forgotten/id890209182?mt=11

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/never-forgotten-kelly-risser/1119879980?ean=9781940534534

http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Never-Forgotten/Kelly-Risser/9781940534534?id=6251632256155

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/448751

 

B3_HostileTakeOver-1Which Debut Collective anthology/anthologies will you be published in?

Hostile Takeover

 

 Share a brief teaser or logline for your story/stories.

Here’s the opening to my story, A Rose.

The worms writhed and tickled as they slowly crawled across her skin. Could she still call it that? Skin was supple. Skin was alive. Not hers, decaying flesh hung from her bones. The scent of rot stung her nose. Skin and worms were the least of her worries, however. After years of sleep, why was she awake?

 

Share an insight into your main character. What made you want to write a story from their perspective?

I don’t want to give too much away, but I can say that I wrote that opening paragraph over a year ago. The words came to me, I wrote them down, and then I set them aside because it was the start to a horror story and I don’t write horror. Then, I saw the Debut Collective and the “hostile takeover” category, and that’s all I needed to get inspired and finish the story.

 

 What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to that genre?

I’ve written paranormal, fantasy, historical fiction and dystopian. With a few exceptions, my works have a strong romance element. What can I say? I’m a romantic at heart, and I believe in happily ever afters. Fantasy is my favorite genre to read, followed by romance. Blend the two, and I’m sold!

 

Describe a typical writing day, or is there such a thing for you? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Write in Scrivener, notebooks, or on cocktail napkins?

Nothing is typical in my world! I am a full-time instructional designer during the day, which means I do a lot of creative business writing to create online courses. There are days I come home and I am tapped out with nothing more to give to my muse. That’s okay. I don’t stress over it. For me, writing fiction is a joy, and if I try to turn it into another full-time job, I’ll burn out. I write when the mood strikes. If it doesn’t, I’m typically reading someone else’s book.

 

Are you a plotter (outline plot) or a pantser (prefer to run with an idea)?

I will occasionally plot. I do a lot of research, mostly online. But, ultimately, I am a pantser. I’ve already been surprised where the story goes, because I often don’t see where the characters want to take me until we’re on the journey there.

 

What book(s) are you currently reading or would you recommend?

I just finished Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, because I’m a firm believer in reading the book before you see the movie. I just started Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor, and I can tell it’s going to be beautiful, but heartbreaking.

 

What is your favorite writing/reading related quote?

I’m a big fan of Anatole France quotes, and there is one in Never Forgotten. So, I will leave you with this one: “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream. Not only plan, but also believe.” I have a journal with that quote on it.

 

Tell us 5 random facts about you:

  1.  My family owned a pizza restaurant, which they opened when I was twelve. I haven’t done it in a while, but I used to be able to handtoss pizza dough. I could also make a pizza super fast.
  2.  I have a tattoo just below my collarbone of the Irish Claddagh, which represents love, loyalty and friendship. When my son was a toddler, he used to point to it and say, “Froggy.”
  3.  I am a HUGE Disney and Harry Potter fan. Going to Orlando is the ultimate challenge – which park do I pick? In 2015, we went to Walk Disney World, and in August 2014, we went to Universal Studios.
  4.  I love making my own swag. I make bookmarks, necklaces, bracelets… you name it!
  5.  I have a candle addiction. I love the sight and smell of candles and tend to have too many burning at once. Luckily, I have an understanding husband.

 

Does music influence your writing? If so, can you share a song that inspired your Debut Collective anthology story?

Music absolutely influences my writing. I can’t give you any particular song, but I listened to a lot of Evanescence when I was writing A Rose.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? How has participating in the collective and the anthology project inspired or pushed you creatively?

I find that I am more creative when I can brainstorm ideas and work with others, so my advice is to find your tribe. Find your people. Those you can trust to talk through story lines, read your work and give you HONEST feedback, and those who will cheer you on. Also, read a LOT. Not only to expand your world, but also to support other others.

 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website: http://www.KellyRisser.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKellyRisser

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kar2b

Tumblr: http://kellyrisser.tumblr.com/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/kar2b

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kar2b

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Kar2b

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kelly-Risser/e/B00KOQY9SY/

Any other book links:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KellyRisser/

http://www.linkedin.com/in/kellyrisser

https://www.wattpad.com/user/KellyRisser

Author Spotlight – Michaela Mills

It’s been a while, but we have been hard at work getting everything ready for the anthologies. They are in final formatting. Whew! Now we can catch our breath & focus on more Author Spotlights.

The Debut Collective is a supportive tribe of authors (both published and aspiring), editors, formatters, and cover designers working together to foster a new generation of stories and authors. We will be publishing 5 short story anthologies in June 2016.

We are pleased to share the following interview with contributing author, Michaela Mills.

 

MM photo

I chose this pic of Michaela because um, WOW! Weird Al & Star Wars? What a fun day that had to be.

Please share a little about you and your background.

 

 

My name is Michaela and I’m from the Mile High City in Colorado, named for the fact that it is a mile above sea level and not because of the legal marijuana. 😉 I have two kids, three cats, and an amazing husband who is the best support system I could ever ask for. I’ve always had a love of reading and writing, for as long as I can remember. I’m finally at a place where I want to take that love of writing further, step outside my comfort zone, and see where I can soar!

Please share information on any published or upcoming books.

I have a novel that I am committed to releasing before the end of the year. My goal is actually to have it release on Halloween this year. Eep! I’m putting it in writing here so that you can all hold me accountable to this! Now, someone hold me, and who has the chocolate??

B2_UnderDogs-1Which Debut Collective anthology/anthologies will you be published in?

I am honored to have two stories being published in the Debut Collective: one in the Underdog anthology and one in the Love Against All Odds anthology.

Share a brief teaser or logline for your story/stories.

Underdog: The Geek. The Queen. The Jock. The Goth. The Loner. It’s high school thrown into one room, overseen by The Hard-ass. Sound like a John Hughes movie? This throwback to the beloved movies of the 80s and 90s has a unique and contemporary twist that will leave you wanting more.

Love Against All Odds: It’s hard enough when your parents dislike the boy you’ve fallen for, but what do you do when they don’t even believe he exists? Besides ending up in a psychiatric hospital, that is.

Share an insight into your main character. What made you want to write a story from their perspective?

Underdog: This is a tough one because there really isn’t one main character in this story. It is told from many perspectives in scene shifts. I’ll pick my favorite character and tell you a little about her. Sapphire—also referred to as The Goth—is quite a bit of my own personality, but with much more flare and charisma than I could ever pull off! (LOL) She is feisty, but aware. She’s incredibly misunderstood, despite attempts to make herself clear. But once she gets going… she really communicates quite well. What I love about Sapphire is that she’s not afraid to put people in their place, especially when it is utterly deserved. She’s the kind of feisty that I admire.

B5_AgainstAllOdds-1Love Against All Odds: Julie is struggling between what she knows to be real and what others keep telling her is real. Her sanity comes into play far too often, but she tries to stick to her guns in what she believes to be true. What I loved most about writing from her POV is that she has acquired a bit of sarcasm and snark—whether from her circumstances or just naturally isn’t determined within the story. But you also see quite a bit of her vulnerability and realize that the sarcasm and snark are shields, defenses against feeling so exposed and vulnerable. Her relationship with her mother is something she craves and yet pushes away from due to the fact that her mother refuses to understand what she’s going through. A beta reader of this story remarked that she felt a little too real. I think that’s a great thing!

What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to that genre?

I mostly write in Young Adult fiction, either paranormal or contemporary. I think a large amount of it is that I have kids that are in the age group to read these novels, plus they hearken back to days past when life was easier, though felt so difficult and misunderstood.

Describe a typical writing day, or is there such a thing for you? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Write in Scrivener, notebooks, or on cocktail napkins?

I write at least one day a week. I used to write every day for at least 20 minutes, but I have (unfortunately) fallen out of this habit and it’s proved to be a difficult habit to come back to. I’m often found at my local Perkins or Starbucks at least once per week to write for several hours in one block. Sometimes I am incredibly productive, and sometimes I struggle to find the words. I never know how the day will go until I try. One thing I do know is that I am there with my MacBook and my Scrivener app, ready to write!

Are you a plotter (outline plot) or a pantser (prefer to run with an idea)?

Umm… yes? LOL I’ve done both and I see the pros and cons to both. What I’ve found works best for me lately (at least for the last two stories I’ve written) is to have a relatively loose outline, with specific plot points lined out, but pants my way through the actual story to just get it out without feeling confined by a full outline. Then, once it’s done, I go back and analyze the story and do a full poster-board outline and rearrange/cut/add/etc. wherever necessary. So, I guess you could say I’m kind of a hybrid. Though, I will say, some of my best stories have come out of sheer pantsing. 😉

What book(s) are you currently reading or would you recommend?

I am actually currently beta reading a book for the lovely Natasha Hanova, another of the Debut Collective Anthologies authors. It is a very interesting story with characters that drew me in right away. I just wish I had more time to actually read these days! Dear Life: Please give me a day off so I can just read. KTHXBAI! Love, Michaela. 😉

What is your favorite writing/reading related quote?

This isn’t necessarily a writing- or reading-related quote, but it is my favorite quote from a literary work. It has stuck with me since I first read it when I was 13 years old (I won’t say how long ago that was *cough cough*):

If our friendship depends on things like space and time, then when we finally overcome space and time, we’ve destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don’t you think that we might see each other once or twice? –Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Tell us 5 random facts about you:

  1. I majored in Opera Performance. Music plays a huge role in my life, from creating it to listening to it. There’s a song for any/every situation.
  2. I have been a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Municipal Liaison for 8 years now. I LOVE the program, especially the Young Writers’ Program, and feel everyone should give it a try at least once in their life. The key, though, is to come to write-ins, which is why I kind of kill myself every November to make sure I personally host at least 3 write-ins every week.
  3. I LOVE cats. Big cats, small cats, snuggly cats, mean cats, furry cats, hairless cats… doesn’t matter. **purr** And they love me. In fact, one of my cats gave birth to her kittens on my stomach, under the covers, while I was sleeping one night. True fact! It was the sweetest—and grossest—thing ever.
  4. I am actually horribly introverted—I just fake being extroverted really well. Sometimes I push myself too much and become obnoxious (so sorry, guys… if I reach that point, just smack me—or just tell me LOL).
  5. I became a widow at the young age of 24. I got married again about 3 years later to my current (amazing) husband. My husband was my late husband’s manager, but we were all friends before he died. We keep my late husband a part of our life together, including having pictures of him around the house and the main diamond in my wedding set came from my original wedding set. It means so much to me to have a husband who is supportive in every way.

Does music influence your writing? If so, can you share a song that inspired your Debut Collective anthology story?

Absolutely!!! I always have music on when I’m writing. Sometimes it’s based on the scene I’m writing, sometimes it’s based on the book/style I’m writing, and sometimes it’s just random whatever iTunes tosses at me. As far as a song that inspired my stories…

Underdog: I’m not sure there’s a single song that really inspired this one. The one I recall listening to the most, though, was Cochise by Audioslave.

Love Against All Odds: There were two songs on repeat while writing this story, although the entire album that the two songs appear on was also listened to quite a bit. The two songs are Chameleon Boy and A Quiet Mind. Both are by the band Blue October. The album, History For Sale, is the third album release of the band, released back in 2003. If I’m being fully honest, Blue October is the band that picks me up when I’m down, keeps me going when I’m struggling, and has in many times helped me find purpose. If you’ve never heard of them, might I please take this opportunity to recommend you give them a listen-to? While I enjoy their main radio hits, there are many other songs that are so much better. In fact, I’ve put together a Spotify playlist of my favorites, if you’d like to go and take a listen: https://open.spotify.com/user/124765270/playlist/5o75fnNqp0dPBPOoV3s95g

Michaela LogoWhat advice would you give to aspiring writers? How has participating in the collective and the anthology project inspired or pushed you creatively?

First and foremost is to write. It’s what I love about NaNoWriMo—it’s not about if you’re writing the next Harry Potter, it’s about just writing and getting your story out. I believe that every one of us has a story inside us that wants out, but we’re too afraid to actually go there. We become hamstrung by our own inferiority complexes and excuses—we’re too busy, we don’t write well enough to publish, we aren’t sure how to write that perfect plot hook, etc. But you don’t become a master of something by thinking about doing it—you become a master by getting out and doing it… and doing it over and over and over again, learning from mistakes, focusing on things that make us better, etc.

For me, participating in the DCA really pushed me to stick to deadlines, something I’ve been horrible about. And it’s been amazing to write alongside some of these amazing authors that I met at UtopYA (now named Utopia). It really makes you raise the bar to see the talent that you’re writing with!

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website or Blog: http://www.michaelamillswrites.com

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/Mmills.writer

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/michaela.mills.581

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mmills_writer

Tumblr: http://authormichaelamills.tumblr.com/

 

Thank you for participating, Michaela!

Author Spotlight – Tara Benham

The Debut Collective editors are all fanning themselves after a marathon of final edits on the 5 book anthology series and now our authors are all hard at work polishing their stories. It’s getting closer and closer to our release date!

Today’s author is also prepping for the release for the first book in an exciting new series! I’ve gotten some behind the scenes peeks at the synopsis and let me tell y’all, this one sounds like a fun, high stakes ride with a Soul Collector, a devilishly handsome demon, and the human whose fate hangs in the balance… oh, and did I mention the devastating earthquake setting? Trust me, Fallen sounds like a must read. Available April 19th!

I’m so pleased to share the following interview with contributing author, Tara Benham!

taraPlease share a little about yourself and your background.

I have a degree in photography and in occupational therapy. I was born, raised and still live in the same small town in Ky. I literally work 8 miles from my house.  I have always been creative. I can remember writing stories, putting on plays, making science “experiments” and singing growing up. And let’s face it, aside from the plays that’s pretty much my life even now.

 

 

 

tara cover 1

Please share information on any published or upcoming books.

I have one book out currently, “At Night’s End”. It is a YA science fiction, dystopian story.

My next book is the first of three in a new series. “Falling” is about the angel Soul Collector, Bayla, and her newest mission. Publishing on April 19th!

“Freedom for October” is my short story in the anthology.

 

Which Debut Collective anthology/anthologies will you be published in?

I am in the Hostile Takeover anthology.

 

 

Share a brief teaser or logline for your story/stories.

October was a child test subject for the government. She was rescued at a young age, but at sixteen she learns that not everything is as it appears.

 

Share an insight into your main character. What made you want to write a story from their perspective?

October is strong, and as the story progresses she comes into herself and stands for what she believes is right.

 

tara cover 2What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to that genre?

I write YA. Mainly science fiction and paranormal romance, but I can’t say I won’t ever branch out. I may or may not have a contemporary adult in the works.

 

Describe a typical writing day, or is there such a thing for you? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Write in Scrivener, notebooks, or on cocktail napkins?

There’s nothing typical in my days. Other than attending my day job. Other than that I write as inspiration hits. Music is a must though.

 

Are you a plotter (outline plot) or a pantser (prefer to run with an idea)?

Total pantser. I couldn’t plot if I had to.

 

What book(s) are you currently reading or would you recommend?

I can’t read much when I’m writing.  Recommendations, haha what kind of time do you have? I love “Tomorrow, When the War Began”, by James Marsden.

 

What is your favorite writing/reading related quote?

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” -George R. R. Martin

 

Tell us 5 random facts about you:

1) I took classical piano for 8 years, but I haven’t played in 20.

2) I am more likely to respond to you in lyrics or movie quotes than I am in actual sentences.

3) I am addicted to Dr. Who.

4) I have a twisted sense of humor and often sensor myself internally to avoid that awkward, “why am I the only one laughing” situation.

5) My favorite color is black.

 

Does music influence your writing? If so, can you share a song that inspired your Debut Collective anthology story?

Music is my life. I have to use music to get in the mood to write. My song for Freedom for October was Through it All by From Ashes to New.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? How has participating in the collective and the anthology project inspired or pushed you creatively?

Keep writing. Nothing has to be perfect the first time. That’s what editing is for, trust me. Also, get a tribe. You’ll be glad to have the support of others in the same boat. This anthology story was a challenge for me, but the DC group is one of my biggest supporters!

 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TaraBenhamAuthor

Twitter: @TaraLB01

Author Spotlight – Jessica Dorn

Jessica not only wrote 3 wonderful stories for our anthology series, but also volunteered as an editor on this project. Her wonderful edits and support have helped our author’s stories reach their full potential.

I loved reading her character insights and writing advice in this interview. Though I do wonder how one makes a dentist cry? Oh, and her children’s book looks delightful!

The Debut Collective is a supportive tribe of authors (both published and aspiring), editors, formatters, and cover designers working together to foster a new generation of stories and authors. We will be publishing 5 short story anthologies in June 2016.

We are pleased to share the following interview with contributing author, Jessica Dorn

Jessica Dorn headshot.jpgPlease share a little about yourself and your background.

I am currently a freelance writer and copyeditor at Rare Bird Editing and Indie Books Gone Wild after several years in higher education communication. Things I like: speculative fiction, social justice, learning new crafts, dancing, insects, complicated heroines, the infinite variety of humanity. I live in awe of the creative and destructive potential of my two kids, and live in the sunny US south with aforementioned chillen and my co-progenitor.

 

 

Please share information on any published or upcoming books.

I am working on my first novel, which is in the fairy tale genre. I have published one short story, “Dirt Road,” in the Southern literature anthology Chinaberries and Crows (Click here!) and self-published a children’s picture book, The (Not Very) Scary and (Sometimes) Hairy Book of Monster Letters (Click here!), both as Jessica Nelson.

 

 

Which Debut Collective anthology/anthologies will you be published in?

 My three stories are in Underdogs, Hostile Takeover, and Secret Identity.

 

B2_UnderDogs-1Share a brief teaser or logline for your story/stories.

Underdogs: When Rona’s shapeshifting identity reignites old fears, she is forced to accept what she cannot change.

Hostile Takeover: The unwanted girls of Swizzlewyld Orphanage fight back when armed townsmen come looking for wives.

Secret Identity: After a childhood in hiding, a genetically anomalous teenager sneaks away to seek adventure and test her power in a world on the brink of upheaval.

 

B3_HostileTakeOver-1Share an insight into your main character. What made you want to write a story from their perspective?

Underdogs:

People tell you determination will get you anything you want in life, but sometimes our biology disagrees. That can be a tough lesson for someone used to getting their way. This character struggles with accepting what life hands her.

Hostile Takeover:

My main character here is someone who has very specific skills that could have gone unused in other circumstances, but she finds a place to shine. This story takes some small seeds of reality and pushes those ideas to extremes.

B4_SecretIdentity-1Secret Identity:

This character is driven by a sense of purpose. She’s different in ways that both separate her from others and bind her physically to her world. It’s a classic coming into your power story.

 

 

 

 

 

What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to that genre?

 I am most drawn to speculative genres – sci-fi and fantasy, and all their lovely varieties. Fiction is always about deeper truth, and I love the way these genres deal profoundly and imaginatively with what it means to be human. I read everything, but when I sit down to write, aliens and magic tend to be where my mind goes.

 

Describe a typical writing day, or is there such a thing for you? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Write in Scrivener, notebooks, or on cocktail napkins?

I juggle freelancing with writing, so every day revolves around which deadline is most pressing. I write in the margins for now. My two awesome critique partners help keep me accountable. I use Word, but I’ve got Scrivener, and intend to one day finish its “Get Started” tutorial. I keep my notes handy, whatever form they are in, to keep me focused.

 

Are you a plotter (outline plot) or a pantser (prefer to run with an idea)?

I always thought I’d be a pantser, but it turns out I’m more productive with a strong outline. I still want space for magical things I didn’t plan, but I write better and faster with structure.

 

What book(s) are you currently reading or would you recommend?

Most of my reading these days is editing work, but my favorite person to recommend is Octavia Butler. She was a revelation, and cracked open my ideas about what science fiction and fantasy could be in the best way.

 

What is your favorite writing/reading related quote?

There is no passion in the world equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft. – H.G. Wells

 

Tell us 5 random facts about you:

1)   To a nearly pathological degree, I avoid conflict. But I love heroines who don’t.

2)   I love Lindy Hop.

3)   I once played Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, thanks to an all-female college experience.

4)   I am a terrible singer.

5)   Once, I made a dentist cry.

 

Does music influence your writing? If so, can you share a song that inspired your Debut Collective anthology story?

Bad Reputation by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts relates to my main characters in various ways. They either share a bit of her bravado, or wish they did. That song never fails to make me feel vicariously badass.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? How has participating in the collective and the anthology project inspired or pushed you creatively?

Everything you read influences your writing. Choose those influences carefully.

This project has helped put me closer my lifelong goal of writing novels. Having these stories out in the world pushes me to get over my impostor syndrome and just write.

 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website or Blog: http://www.jessicadornbooks.wordpress.com ; http://www.rarebirdediting.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjessicadorn; https://www.facebook.com/rarebirdediting

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaDorn1

Tumblr: http://rarebirdwords.tumblr.com

 

Thank you for participating! Look for more interviews with Debut Collective members next week!

Author Spotlight – Ginny Gallagher

This may be the first interview that made me do a honest-to-goodness snort laugh! (Always attractive!) Be sure to read #5 of her five random facts.

Ginny is always quick to encourage and support her fellow authors. She also has an excellent eye for design! I may try a few of her tips on getting into writing mode myself. 🙂

The Debut Collective is a supportive tribe of authors (both published and aspiring), editors, formatters, and cover designers working together to foster a new generation of stories and authors. We will be publishing 5 short story anthologies in June 2016.

We are pleased to share the following interview with contributing author, Ginny Gallagher!

 

G_G_blackPlease share a little about yourself and your background.

I graduated with a degree in business administration and dabbled in numerous careers on my journey back to my soul’s desire—writing. Along the way, I had a son who is now a member of the Coast Guard, married, and adopted many fur kids—currently six spoiled dogs and two snobby cats. In my spare time, I enjoy all types of crafts, reading across multiple genres, and spending Sunday evenings catching up on favorite TV series (Arrow, Flash, and Mysteries of Laura…just to name a few).

My stories will feature the elements that are close to my heart: Mystery, Magic, and Soul. Several titles in multiple genres are scheduled for release in 2016-2017. My short story, Clear Beginnings, introduces my paranormal mystery series, Maggie McGuire’s Psychic Adventures, and will appear in the Debut Collective Anthologies in June 2016. Clear Vision, book one of Maggie McGuire’s Psychic Adventures is scheduled for release in August 2016.  Book one of The Cauldron Chronicles, a young adult fantasy series, should release the first part of 2017 and I have a romantic suspense novel, Hope and Misery prepped for release in October 2016.

I love connecting with fans and fellow book lovers. You can sign up for my monthly newsletter to receive information on upcoming releases, exclusive sneak peeks, and subscriber only giveaways.

Maggie-McGuire-Book-1Please share information on any published or upcoming books.

Clear Beginnings is a short story prequel to the Maggie McGuire’s Psychic Adventures series. Book one, Clear Vision, is scheduled for release in August 2016.

Which Debut Collective anthology/anthologies will you be published in?

Underdog Anthology

Share a brief teaser or logline for your story/stories.

The unknown is a scary destination but often it’s the place where we discover who we really are.

When a mysterious stranger awakens Maggie McGuire’s repressed psychic abilities, she learns that maintaining her normal life comes with a higher price than she may be willing to pay. Can she learn to open her heart and mind to the new adventures that await her?

Share an insight into your main character. What made you want to write a story from their perspective?

I see a lot of myself in Maggie and relate to her yearning for more but allowing fears to hold her back. Clear Beginnings sets the stage for Maggie’s journey of self-actualization. Along the way there’s fabulous friendships, interesting romances, dangerous mysteries, and soul-filled magic.

What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to that genre?

I enjoy writing stories that feature character growth and paranormal aspects but am too much of a rebel to tie myself to one genre.

Describe a typical writing day, or is there such a thing for you? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Write in Scrivener, notebooks, or on cocktail napkins?

I’ve tried everything to arrange a “typical” writing day (word counts, chapters, etc.) and it wasn’t until a month ago that I realized I had to find my own way of making this writing gig work. I now write 4 nights per week for three to four hours and leave the daytime hours for edit and design work. On writing nights I light a candle, begin with a 10-15 minute meditation and free writing session, open my writing playlist on Spotify, and start writing. I use Scrivener but sometimes I have to put away the technology and spend time with a pen and notebook to dig deep into what the characters are wanting to communicate.

Are you a plotter (outline plot) or a pantser (prefer to run with an idea)?

I’m a plotter but I allow myself detours along the way.

What book(s) are you currently reading or would you recommend?

I’m currently reading Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson. It’s hilarious but if anyone is sensitive to bad language they might not enjoy it. Prior to starting it I binge read Liz Long’s DONAVAN CIRCUS SERIES and really enjoyed it.

Ginny - Too-Smart-Art

What is your favorite writing/reading related quote?

You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way. —Jennifer J. Freeman

 

 

 

 

Tell us 5 random facts about you:

  1. I wrote my first story in 6th grade and wish I’d listened to my teacher when she told me writing was my calling.
  2. I have six dogs and two cats.
  3. I just finished a class that used oracle cards as a daily divine meditation and I loved it.
  4. I design book covers in my spare time.
  5. I once called a gynecologist office and although I thought it was odd that the doctor answered the phone I preceded with describing the problem I was having when he asked how he could help me. His response, “Ma’m this is Dr. Smith the Veterinarian.”

Does music influence your writing? If so, can you share a song that inspired your Debut Collective anthology story?

I have an eclectic taste in music—actually in everything—so my playlists span multiple genres. A few songs on my “Maggie” playlist are Dig by Incubus, Fix My Eyes by for King & Country, and Learning to Fly by Tom Petty.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? How has participating in the collective and the anthology project inspired or pushed you creatively?

Finish your first draft and give yourself time to learn through the revision process. Participating in the collective anthology project has been amazing. Seeing how my story changed from the first draft to the final version has helped me see that the first draft is only the beginning so WRITE! Get that first draft done because no matter how much you worry and obsess over it it’s only the beginning.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website or Blog: ginnygallagher.com

Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorGinnyGallagher

Twitter: @AuthorGinnyGal

Pinterest: pinterest.com/authorginnygal/

Instagram: instagram.com/ginny_gal/

 

Thank you for participating! Please join us on Friday, when the Debut Collective will feature Jessica Dorn!

 

Author Spotlight – N. L. Byers

This next author’s caring heart knows no limit and it shines through in her answers to these questions. Nancy is a constant supporter and kind presence in the Debut Collective. I remember her speech during the closing ceremony’s annual open keynote very well. She touched everyone in that room as she shared her fears of rejection, but her commitment to press on and publish her words anyway. 

I am honored that Nancy has chosen to make that pledge come true by participating in our anthology series. I have read both of her stories and can tell you she has a gift for channeling the underdogs and vulnerable characters you just cannot help rooting for. 

The Debut Collective is a supportive tribe of authors (both published and aspiring), editors, formatters, and cover designers working together to foster a new generation of stories and authors. We will be publishing 5 short story anthologies in June 2016.

I am pleased to share the following interview with contributing author, N. L. Byers!

NancyPlease share a little about yourself and your background.

I was born and raised in Hattiesburg, Ms. I went to high school in at a small Christian school in northern Mississippi called French Camp. After high school, I return back home and completed my undergraduate degree in English at The University of Southern Mississippi. Fiction writing was my favorite class. My professor told me I would publish but I figured she was just being nice and put the idea in the back of my mind.

I stumbled across a book by Quinn Loftis titled Prince of Wolves (Book 1, Grey Wolves Series). I fell in love with her books and I looked her up on Facebook. Quinn would be the first of many indie authors that not only introduced me to the world of self-publishing but ignited the desire to write my own book.  There is one thing I have learned and that is the authors I love Quinn Loftis, Amy Bartol, Jennifer Armentrout, Raine Thomas, Mary Ting, Carol Kunz and many other amazing authors continue to inspire me make writing a book seem so easy.

When you sit down to write your first book if you aren’t looking at a blank document on your computer, if you actually get words down then you find you will face other challenges like self-doubt (Am I could enough, would anybody read what I have to say?), or Do I plot or do I write by the “seat of my pants?” (Pantser is a writer who writes by the seat of their pants), or if you do get words down and you find you aren’t happy with them so you hit the backspace key and delete them. It’s easy to be full of the passion to write a story, but if you get caught up in the cyclic thinking of these questions or whatever pertains to your writing journey you find yourself never getting off the “starting line.”

So when I came across the opportunity to write a short story or two for the Debut Anthologies Collective, I jumped at the chance. I could get my writing “feet” wet by starting small and if I had a crisis of faith my story would be bundled with over 40 other amazing authors so that any possible criticism might not sting that much or at least that was my initial thought. Writing the underdog story was really tough, but when I wrote it I found such an overwhelmingly supportive writing community with the Debut Collective. I found that writing and letting others read it might be scary, but that I wasn’t alone in feeling that way.

I continue to work on the first draft of my own book. I don’t have a title right now, but I can share that it will be in the Fantasy/Paranormal genre. My hope is to publish it later this year or by January of 2017.

 

B2_UnderDogs-1Which Debut Collective anthology/anthologies will you be published in?

I will be published in the Underdog anthology and the Love Against all odds anthology.

 

Share a brief teaser or logline for your story/stories.

Underdogs – A shy, intelligent girl is bulllied daily, but risks staying at school even longer for a tutoring job to help support her family.

When Dani’s assigned to tutor the hottest boy on the hockey team, she finds an unlikely ally but fears her bully’s torments will increase.

A school dance provides her with both a challenge and an opportunity, if she can find the courage within.

Love Against All Odds – A sensitive writer steps outside her comfort zone and attends a book event. While there, she has a heated exchange with a book cover model. Will she overcome longheld fears and find love? Or like the fictional characters he portays, is he too good to be true?

 

Share an insight into your main character. What made you want to write a story from their perspective?

Dani is a character that has lost her mom, and her dad works hard as a mechanic to put food on the table. So she is self-conscious because she doesn’t have the designer clothes are shoes and coupled with the fact that she is extremely smart she finds she doesn’t fit in anywhere. When she becomes a victim of the school bully, she hides because she doesn’t want to be a tattle tell and further ostracize herself from other students. She tutors a boy, with his help finds the courage to use her voice to stand up to the school bully.

I think sometimes when we are in a situation we don’t always see the way clear out of it or we don’t think we have the power to change our circumstances. Dani buries her head in the sand with the attitude, “If I don’t think about it or talk about it, then it doesn’t exist or it will all go away.” She finds the courage to use her voice not only to change her on circumstances, but to be an example for that one student who might feel trapped about their own problems.

There is amazing shirt that was created by Victoria Faye for the Utopia Con that says “Lift as you rise” and I think that is a key theme that I feel shines in this short story. We all have a voice, but sometimes we need a little encouragement to make our voices heard.

 

What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to that genre?

I am still at the beginning of my writing journey. Fantasy/Paranormal genre is a genre I have always loved to read, so it was no surprise to find that I love writing it. I like the idea that the “rules” of the everyday world and transform them into something that is beyond our senses.

 

Describe a typical writing day, or is there such a thing for you? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Write in Scrivener, notebooks, or on cocktail napkins?

I work full time at The University of Southern Mississippi. so finding writing time isn’t always a daily activity and there are times when I have to make time to write.  I would love to write full time someday, but right now I fight to balance my day job with what I love to do and that is writing.

 

Are you a plotter (outline plot) or a pantser (prefer to run with an idea)?

I have referred to this question in my background because it was Amy Bartol that first introduced the plotter and pantser style during a panel at Utopia con 2015.  Hearing the term pantser changed my life.  I have struggled with trying to outline but the idea that I would run with an idea left me with the doubt that I wasn’t a legit writer because I didn’t have a set plan. I prefer to run with an idea, but the more I write the more I feel the need to find a balance between plotting and being a pantser.

My goal is to be able to plot just enough to give me a rough idea of the overall structure of the story, but then to allow my imagination loose to run with its idea and see where it takes me.  So the answer to this question, at least for me, isn’t easy to answer because I feel like I need to be able to do a bit of both and right now the only thing I feel comfortable with is running with an idea.

 

What book(s) are you currently reading or would you recommend?

Andre Norton, Half-blood series: Elven born, Elven Bred, anything by Quinn Loftis but the Grey Wolf series will always be my favorite, The Premonition Series by Amy Bartol, and the Lux Series by Jennifer Armentrout.

 

What is your favorite writing/reading related quote?

Writing is the vehicle that allows our imaginations to communicate with the world around us. N.B

 

Tell us 5 random facts about you:

I can sing and I used to play violin when I was in junior high school.

I try to work out 6 to 7 hours a week.

I have two masters’ degrees in Instructional Technology and Higher Education Administration

I have a ‘thing’ for blond headed guys.

I’m a dog person/lover

 

Does music influence your writing? If so, can you share a song that inspired your Debut Collective anthology story?

Music and nature sounds have inspired my writing, but there wasn’t a particular song that inspired my short story. I took inspiration from my days in high school where I was often bullied and it took a dear friend to help me find my voice to stand to the bullies.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? How has participating in the collective and the anthology project inspired or pushed you creatively?

The advice I would give to inspiring writers is to let go of the pressure of “Hey, I’m writing a book! Oh crap, I’m writing a BOOK!” Many of my writer friends have said “You can’t edit a blank page.” But you might find you have trouble getting the story out when you are putting pressure on yourself.

Write because you need to, because the characters inside demand to be heard. Write because you want to escape the world you’re in so you create another. Write, not because someone will buy your book or give you a great review, write because it is as vital to you as the air you breathe.  If people like your book, that’s awesome but the reasons you write are uniquely your own.

Don’t compare your writing skill, experience or lack thereof. Your journey is uniquely your own so you decide where you go.

Robert Frost said it best. It’s not about the writing “road’ or the path you take to write your first book. It’s is fact that the choice that is yours alone so revel in the privilege it is to be able to make that choice.

 

 

 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

I have an author page under my name Nancy Byers where I post about myself and my work. Future plans include developing a street team and increasing my visibility on social networking sites.