Friday, 31 March 2017

Merlyn Fuller

Author Name: Merlyn Fuller
Best Known WorksThe Merlinian Legend
Where Can You Find Her?: Website, Website, Facebook
Top Writing Tip: Just DO IT. No matter what. Set a plan. Set a writing schedule to accomplish (my goal generally is a chapter every 2 weeks). Then edit, edit, edit. Get your friends to help you edit. Ask your smart family or friends or people who like the subject matter to help you edit. Stick with it. Do it even when you don't want to, but stick to your schedule. Then all of a sudden, one have a BOOK in your hands!

Hi Merlyn, thank you for taking the time to talk to us!

Tell us a little about yourself, what are the main life experiences that have led to this book?

As a feminist, eclectic spiritual person, writer and Arthurian legend freak from way back, I have finally done what needed to be done. I wrote the book I desired to read when I was 16 years old and when I was first waist deep in fairy tales, myths, magic and fables.

With my book The Merlinian Legend,  I can finally face my 16 year old self and say “Here, hon. Read THIS.” And she will devour it, thank me for finally fixing the misogynistic Arthurian legends and in the same breath find that it relates to today and what she can do to fix the world 

When did you realize that you were Pagan?

Hard to say, I think when I went "church hopping" with my mom to many churches when I was 11 after she left the Catholic church. She was trying to find answers to some deep questions about life...brought on by the fact that we lived on the same road as a serial killer, but that is all in my first book, "Fairy Tales & Horror Stories: A Memoir" as well as many funny stories about me being a Renaissance faire minstrel around the country. I remember welcoming in Spring with my little sister on the Spring Equinox at the exact time and shouting "Welcome Spring!" together and dancing around. So that was probably the unofficial date.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I first grabbed a pencil and pretended to be a newspaper writer when I was little. I wrote stories and tried to sell the stories to my family, friends and neighbors. This was back when there was triplicate carbon copies and I didn't type yet, so I had to hand write everything. The copying got tiresome. Gods bless medieval monks who copied manuscripts. But if I don't write, it will squirt out some way, some how!

How did the topic of your books come to you?

My first book, Fairy Tales & Horror Stories: A Memoir is one that I had to write to sweep out of my psyche. It is a wild ride filled with amazing stories, all true. There is murder, religion, spirituality, magic, sex, drugs, rock'n'roll, and music in it and also hilarious stories about being a mother and being on the road.

My second book, The Merlinian Legend as I said, is the book I wanted to read, as I am a Merlin freak. My stage name "Merlyn" is a spin off of my given name "Marilyn" which was given to me 40 years ago or so, in high school because of my devotion to the subject matter. The name "Merlyn" and is under my senior pic as my nickname there.

My latest book A Rose By Any Other Name: Shawna Rose & her Family's Story of Down Syndrome is the book I needed to read when she was born, but I couldn't find. It is a comprehensive book about what we went through, what we learned, how we coped and how we all thrived. She is an amazing person and I wanted to encourage other families who get thrust into this new demographic of insight and abilities.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.

It's the story of Merlin, but redone with more emphasis on the Divine Feminine. In olden Arthurian legends, folklore and tales, (which my work is based on), Merlin traditionally got screwed out of having a love relationship with an equal, was punished for being magical, and was delivered a fate worse than death. In all fairness to him, and my female sisters, I have reworked the tale to include more of the Goddess, strong female characters, a HOT Merlin, true love found, winsome magic and real hope for the future. Traditionally in Arthurian legends, women were either young, beautiful and daft or evil, old and ugly. I wanted to change that up!

As with the tales of olde, the characters remain basically who they are. Of the former character names, Ninianne and Vivienne, I have combined the two names instead, and I call this new character, Nivienne. She is unlike her former incarnations, in that she is not conniving, but rather, she is a strong, earthy, pagan leader who is a match for Merlin and who is devoted to him (unlike her historic, literary counterparts who only used him and entombed him). She loves him totally and in the story, both she and Merlin together advance humanity towards the Divine Feminine. This is a new twist.

Have you ever met one of your characters in real life? 

Many, especially at Renaissance faires! But I hold out hope that women will find their own Merlin man for a paramour who is as mercurial, stable and magickal as my Merlin character is.

Do you plan out your stories before you begin?

Absolutely, at least my book outlines are done and set in stone. These show me the direction I need to go from chapter to chapter. The chapters, how'ere, have a life and an agenda of their own. I don't always know what the finished chapter will actually look like, but I have had a plan for what I want to accomplish within it. As long as I accomplish my outline needs, the rest is gravy on top. 

Do you socialize with other writers or are you a solitary writer?

The answer is both. Writing by its nature is a solitary thing. We create with just our thoughts and a blinking screen and a keyboard. How'ere, I am supported by going to poetry nights or open mics for writers and can listen to their works and their thoughts. They inspire me with their creativity and bravery to keep going and speak up myself. Letting out your inner voice onto paper and then into a mic is one of the best feelings ever.

Who encourages/inspires you?

My mate, Harry and my daughter Jesse and my fans encourage me. Their words and their reactions to my words and writings keep me going. Life experiences, and old folk tales inspire me.

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?

The Merlinian Legend is my second book. I now have three books out with my latest book just being released this week.

Are you published or self published, and what has been your experience of this process?

I am self-published mostly because I am also already a traveling renaissance faire musician with the duo, Merry Mischief and have a website, fan base, blog spots and mechanisms in place to sell all kinds of product. I also do not possess the time, patience and willingness to submit all the queries, gather the traditional rejection letters that all authors must receive, nor did I want an editor to change main characters or decide my cover art. I love self-publishing because I can do what I want, when I want and how I want. My finished product is what I dream it to be.

What are your future plans for writing? 

My plan is to keep cranking out books. My goal is to be at festivals and faires, with patrons finding that one of my books is just right for them, and my booth is having something for everyone.

There will probably be a children's book, a pirate book, a self help book, mayhaps a book about magick. I don't want to get pigeon-holed into any particular genre. I'd like to try them all on for size and continue new ways of expression! I'd like to continue writing until I can't do it anymore, Gods willing and the creek don't rise.

Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your passion and your process Merlyn! We wish you all the best with your future books and your musical career! 

Friday, 10 February 2017

Devyn Quinn

Author Name: Devyn Quinn
Best Known Works: Echoes of Angels
Where Can You Find Her? Website, Facebook

Hi Devyn, thank you for taking the time to talk to us!

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing in my teens to battle an ongoing issue with depression. Having a place to vent my frustrations with daily life helps keep me calm. 

When did you realize that you were Pagan?

I realized early in life that organized religion did not work for me. I am a skeptic and want to see it to believe it, and am not one to take things on faith alone. The idea that so many believe in religion(s) created by man simply because someone a long time ago “said so” didn’t set well with me, and I began to look toward nature and its cycles to determine the course of my life. I am a hardcore pagan, and refuse to be swayed by the arguments of Christians— and others— that I am “going to hell” because I do not believe the way they do. This is lunacy at its finest and I refuse to give credence to any fanatic who judges me based on archaic texts that belittle women, alternative beliefs and lifestyle choice.

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?

Published many times through the last 25 years.

Do you plan your stories before you begin?

I usually have a rough idea of what I want to do and where the story needs to go. The rest of the time, I let the characters move the action.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.

Echoes of Angels (# 1, Keepers of Eternity) introduces the idea that cultic beings live and move through the human world, as well as other dimensions adjacent to our own. I use many common themes, touching on Druidism, Celtic lore, magick and ritual witchcraft, giving old legends a unique twist as dictated by my imagination. My main character, Morgan-Saint Evanston is not only an immortal, he is a great-grandson of the Celtic goddess Cerredwen (my spelling) and is moving from immortal to god. His journey has been a difficult one, as he learns to accept what he really is and the destiny fate has written for him.  It’s really an exciting series, and I love creating my own unique vision of demons, vampires, werewolves, Djinn and other supernatural beings.

Do we see some of you in your book? 

Most definitely. My main character also suffers from depression, and it is an ongoing battle for him to keep sane.

Has your style changed over the past five years?

I can tell a difference. Where I used to be verbose and over-describe a setting, I have cut back to allow the reader to use their own imagination to visualize a scene and characters.

Do you socialize with other writers or are you a solitary author? 

I am solitary and prefer to keep to myself.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and, if so, how do you overcome it?

Yes, I do, and I have quit writing many times through the years. I usually end up coming back and finishing another book when the images in my mind become too annoying to ignore.

Are you published or self published, and what has been your experience of this process?

I have been published by New York (Kensington and Signet/NAL) as well as independent presses. I have to admit I do not enjoy the New York process at all. The deadlines, slow payment and competition among authors to continually sell, sell, sell really turned me off and destroyed my enjoyment of the creative process. I presently publish through a small independent press and the control given to authors is awesome. I control my work, not the other way around.

Do you think eBooks have changed the publishing market for better or worse?

Of course, eBooks have changed the market. In one way, they make books more accessible to readers, as they give instant gratification to those who prefer to buy online. On the other hand, they have made books so much easier to pirate. It isn’t hard to download a book, strip the DRM and then re-upload it to a pirate site. I am afraid the advent of technology has caused writers to lose a lot of lost sales. This, in turn, impacts their bottom line and, often, affects their ability to keep on writing.

How important are reviews of your work, do you read them?

I read reviews, but don’t pay them much mind. Everyone has a right to state their opinion, and even if they didn’t like my book, they still read it.

Do you ever dream about writing? 

Yes, I do. Especially when I am working on a book.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you most like a writing retreat?


What are your future plans for writing? 

Currently I am working on book five of my Keepers of Eternity series, Ashes to Ashes.


Thank you again for sharing your experience and your process. We wish you all the best with your future projects!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Mary Lane

Author Name: Mary Lane
Best Known Works: Meena: The Fiery Story of a Heroine’s Initiation, Reclaiming Her Authentic Sexual Nature and Her Relationship with the Great Mother, Divine Nourishment:A Woman’s Sacred Journey with Food
Where Can You Find Her? Meena, Divine Nourishment
Top Writing Tip: If there is a story within you, do whatever it takes to write it and share it. If it is soul driven, there will be times when you don’t know if you are writing the story, or the story is writing you. Allow it to be a vehicle for your own healing, and let the characters call the shots. They will come alive, and they can have a strong opinion about who they are and who they want to become in the story. It is the journey, not the goal that is crucial for the soul. Get as much out of the process as you can, and don’t rush through it. I would give the same tip if I was teaching a student about sexuality. Ride the waves, and enjoy the ride. Don’t rush it! 

Hi Mary, thank you for taking the time to talk to us!

When and why did you begin writing?
I actually didn’t realize I was a writer until after I wrote my second book. My first book, Divine Nourishment, A Woman’s Sacred Journey with Food, was non-fiction. Writing this book was merely a way to offer support to nourish ourselves aligned with the earth’s wisdom, and heal the feminine aspect of ourselves so we could live and eat in this alignment. This book was just a vehicle in which to offer information. I didn’t imagine myself writing another one.

It didn’t take long before Meena, began stirring in me. I needed to write another book. But, I had no interest in writing another non-fiction. Never mind that I didn’t have a clue how to write a novel! I did nothing with the stirring for awhile, until it felt like it would turn toxic and make me sick if I didn’t bring it out into the light of day. I couldn’t sit on it any longer, and I didn’t know how to move forward. I started taking writing classes. That didn’t do it. I took a whole semester in creative writing at the college. That helped, but my fiction writing still sucked. 

I hired the teacher as a mentor I could turn to. He confirmed my fiction writing sucked, but he was determined to turn me into a writer. We went through two years of him throwing my passages back at me, and telling me what was wrong with them. He was unforgiving, which I am on knees in gratitude for— now. After story development, character development and layering, I used him as my line editor. Again, he used the time to teach me. 

The writing of this book, Meena, became a five year journey. Not only did I learn writing skills, I experienced what it was like to pull something from the depths of my soul that would force me to do whatever it took to bring into form. Whew! This is the book I share with you today. And, I am starting to consider myself a writer, now.

When did you realise that you were Pagan?
Many years ago I went through a two-year education in five element nutrition taught by a Taoist master. This opened the door for me, and a recognition was ignited. The stirring within was palpable. Shortly after this schooling I landed on the top of a mountain in North Carolina. The combination of my studies fresh in my mind, the silence, and the symbiotic relationship I developed with nature as a result of spending my time hiking, and gathering wild food and medicine was a turning point.

The plant spirits communicated with me. The elements revealed themselves as self similar to my inner landscape. I no longer could feel myself as separate. I dropped into a deeper relationship with the mountain in which I lived. 

One day I was overcome as I gathered wild berries. I had become just another animal amongst the birds and bears. I watched them doing the same thing that I was doing—gathering and eating berries. It was one of those moments when I realised I was so held by the Mother, surrounded by more food and medicine than I could possibly gather, and I was woven into the fabric of her world. I sat and sobbed as I wiped my face with berry stained fingers. In that moment I stepped through a doorway that if I were to put a sign on it, it would read, ‘Pagan’s World.’

What are the main life experiences that have led to this book?
As a sixty-six year old woman, do I see a woman who’s hopes, dreams, passion, and self worth diminished by life when I look into a mirror? Or do I see a woman who has garnered the wisdom of a life lived through many trials, transitions and transformations? Have I succumbed to the belief that an elder woman has no value to our society? Or am I an elder woman who is rightfully taking her seat at the council table, reflecting an authenticity that some seek and recognize deep within themselves? 

If I was to share a bit about myself and what has influenced my latest book, Meena, I would have to say that somehow I have managed to walk through many transformational fires and can stand before the mirror and see an elder who has distilled her journey into a valuable harvest to nourish the next generation. I have entered the autumn of my life and I am doing what nature intended for this season. I have let go and let die what no longer serves, and I am dropping my seeds to support the next cycle of evolution.

I have lived a journey that has enabled me to turn experiences, insights, and teachings from the natural world into art through the written word. I have become conscious enough about transformational and evolution of the soul that I can take the reader on a ride that has the potential for them to honor and garner the wisdom of their own journey.
I have come to realize this is success for me. It has nothing to do with how much money I have made, how many credentials I have racked up, or how I am recognized by a society with very different priorities. I am authentically unique and aligned with my own soul’s contract. And, I can say that it took all the courage I could muster up over many years to be able to see this reflected in the mirror as I stand before it. My new book, Meena, is a novel that supports the same appreciation and respect for the reader’s journey.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.
The two main characters of the story, M, who lives in ancient times, and Meena, who lives in the modern world, journey through the heavenly existence that once was, and the hell it became, riding the waves of transformation through the light and shadow of death and rebirth. Their multi-dimensional reality allows them to receive guidance, wisdom, and healing from the natural world, as they embrace their symbiotic relationship with the Great Mother. Through her guidance they discover their authentic sexual nature, love, sisterhood, belonging—and the consequences of feeling cut off from her. Without giving the story away, there is an ending that brings deep meaning and understanding to the journeys of women who are carrying ancient wisdom—and wounding.

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?
Divine Nourishment, A Woman’s Sacred Journey with Food was published in 2010
Meena: The Fiery Story of a Heroine’s Initiation, Reclaiming Her Authentic Sexual Nature and Her Relationship with the Great Mother, is launching Dec 1st, 2016.

Are you published or self published, and what has been your experience of this process?
I write out of the box. What I write has no category that it fits into in the mainstream genres. I discovered this dilemma when I attended a writer’s conference years ago. Meena, is in the visionary fiction genre, which didn’t exist then. 

I don’t want to spend the rest of my life reading rejection letters because someone from the mainstream publishing world is scratching their head wondering what the heck I am talking about. I decided to self-publish. I would rather let my books find the readers who recognize and embrace a perspective that is controversial. I want to lead them through a doorway they are stretched to enter. Considering I have never fit into the mainstream, I have not been able to see how my books would. I would rather push the edges and open doors in my writing, than entertain the masses. I may not sell as many books, but I know my books will be a treasure for those who resonate with what I share. 

How important are reviews of your work, do you read them?
I noticed the few people who previewed, Meena, zeroed in on something in the story that touched them, according to who they are. No two reviews have focused on the same thing. With a story that is multi-layered there is a good chance the reader will find themselves in the story. That is exactly what I wanted. No matter if it pushed their buttons, ignited a deep knowing, or reflected a similar experience, their review was more about themselves in relation to the story than the story itself. That realization has freed me from being thrown all over the place at the mercy of someone’s experience reading the story. What a relief! I get to read a review and see how the story affected them, instead of whether or not the story was good or bad. 

What are your future plans for writing?
For me, the journey of stewarding my books in the world so they get into as many hands as possible is as much a part of writing as comprising the written word. I found writing fiction was fun, and a new frontier for me. However, my desired affect of this story is to facilitate a healing and reconnection with our Mother Earth, which is so badly needed. So, my immediate plans are to follow up the journey in the story with a program to participate in, and bring it to life. That will undoubtedly include writing articles that inspire people to read my new book, Meena. I trust that the stirring will return to write another book after I have properly escorted Meena into the world, and she can stand on her own.


Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your passion and your process. We wish you all the best with your future projects! 

Jeri Studebaker

Author Name: Jeri Studebaker
BookBreaking the Mother Goose Code: How a Fairy Tale Character Fooled the World for 300 Years
Where Can You Find Her? Facebook, Website
Top Writing Tip: Write about things you’re passionate about.

Welcome Jeri, thank you so much for talking to us!

When and why did you begin writing?  
When I was five I drew a cartoon about a girl getting her hair cut too short.  I remember the frustration of trying to write something people would want to read, and feeling I’d failed miserably.

When did I realize I was Pagan?  
I’m not sure.  I read When God Was a Woman when it first came out, and that ended whatever lingering spiritual connection I had with Christianity.  I remember being furious that Christians had hidden from me a giant body of information about hundreds of goddesses that people actually used to worship.  

What main life experience led to this book? 
Writing my first book, Switching to Goddess.  In Switching I wrote about my suspicion that Mother Goose was a goddess in disguise.  I did a workshop on the topic at a local Pagan gathering, and it generated a lot of excitement.  So I began digging around for further evidence that Mother Goose was indeed a kind of Halloween costume hiding an outlawed deity. 

How long does it take you to write a book?  
For the two I’ve had published, a year. 

Tell us a bit about your book. 
Breaking the Mother Goose Code presents evidence that Mother Goose was actually the ancient European Great Goddess in disguise, and that her fairy tales and nursery rhymes contain secret, coded messages about the mind and soul of this Goddess, about the way she wants us to live our lives.  

Is this your first published piece or have you been published before? 
My previous book is Switching to Goddess: Humanity’s Ticket to the Future. 

How important are reviews of your work, do you read them?  
I scour the internet for every review I can find.  Reviews increase book sales, so I like to post them on my author’s FB page.  Also I think all writers possess a strong desire for feedback about their writing -- especially, of course, the positive, but the negative too helps you improve your writing.  

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you most like a writing retreat?  
It depends on what I’m writing.  When I’m working on my Portland, Maine, Native American manuscript, I spend a lot of time roaming around Greater Portland, which is where I live.  So my home is the perfect place to write this manuscript, since the river that provided food and transportation for my subjects lies a mile south of my house.  

For Breaking the Mother Goose Code, I wish I could have lived in an Alpine village in perhaps Western Austria, where people still practice ancient rituals connected to the goddess Holda/Perchta, who I believe was a major prototype for Mother Goose.  Another Mother-Goose prototype is the Greco-Roman Aphrodite/Venus, worshiped right across the Alps from Western Austria.  At some point after the fall of the Roman Empire, Holda/Perchta and Aphrodite/Venus merged in the minds of Medieval Europeans into one and the same deity.          

What are your future plans for writing?
I’m working on a book about female fairy tale characters, another about the original Native Americans who lived in Portland, Maine, and a fantasy novel about ancient Minoans. 
Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your passion and process, Jeri. We wish you all the best with your future projects!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Melusine Draco

Author Name: Melusine Draco
Best Known Works: The Secret People
Where can you find her? WebsiteFacebook
Top Writing Tip: Never, never lose the strength to dream … and never give up.

Hi Melusine, thank you for taking the time to talk to us!

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and even from school-days I wanted to be a writer.  My first serious job on the Path was as an editorial assistant on a house-journal for an international cosmetics company but it wasn’t until 1987 I became a full-time, professional writer.

When did you realise that you were Pagan?

Since I was brought up within the Shinto belief, it’s safe to say there wasn’t a time when I wasn’t ‘pagan’.  The basic belief that there is a universal life-force inherent in everything made it easy to step between Shinto and Old Craft

Tell us a little about yourself, what are the main life experiences that have led to this book?

I am part of the traditional British Old Craft tradition and my books reflect that journey from novitiate to Initiate, and the various stages in between.  Since there were few titles on the subject of genuine Old Craft  I thought it would be my contribution to preserve Coven of the Scales teaching for posterity.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.

The Temple House archive series of novels is an esoteric amalgam of New Tricks, The Legacy and CSI. Drawing on a veritable mine of esoteric knowledge and experience of international intrigue, the Temple House was established to combat ‘evil forces’ of a human or supernatural agency, and those who would use occult power for destructive purposes. The current members of the Temple House, or ‘the Nine’ as they are referred to in memory of the original nine founder members of the Order, are all specialists and magical practitioners in the diverse fields of occultism and its relevant histories.  I use a lot of genuine psychic stories in the text, so there’s a lot of ‘faction’ included as part of the adventures.

How did the topic of your books come to you?

Not a question I can readily answer but obviously from somewhere buried deep in my subconscious.  I usually start getting the germ of an idea in the early hours of the morning and by the time I’m fully awake the whole idea for the content is mapped out in my mind.  I’ve learned never to ignore this process!

How long does it take you to write a book, are you a fast or slow writer?

Generally I’m a very fast writer – it only took me five weeks to write Pan but at the other end of the scale, it took me ten years to write Starchild: a rediscovery of stellar wisdom – but they were completely different applications

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?

The Secret People is my 25th magical title plus there are the two novels in the Temple House Archive series – House or Strange Gods and Realm of Shadow.

Are you published or self-published, and what has been your experience of this process?

I have books published by main-stream publishers and have self-published others.  There are currently 16 titles with Moon Books and we’ve had an excellent relationship, not only with the publisher but also with the other Moon Books authors, since it’s more like a writing community than just a contract deal.   Some of my old titles I’ve recently re-leased on Kindle, and all my novels have been self-published because that was I have total control over any subsidiary deals that might come my way.  It depends on how you see your future as a writer as to which you choose – both play a valid part in modern publishing.

Who encourages/inspires you?

The landscape in which I’m living can either inspire me or completely stultify any creative urges.  Fortunately, where I live now generates a constant flow of ideas for both fact and fiction.

Where do you go when you need to recharge?

I don’t need to go anywhere because I live in a beautiful Glen in the shadow of the mountains with my dogs.  The Glen is a very magical place and its energies have some remarkable powers.

What, or who do you enjoy reading?

I read fiction for relaxation and my favorite author is the late Simon Raven with his Alms for Oblivion series.  I also enjoy  David Hewson’s Nic Costa series and Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you most like a writing retreat?

In dream-time I would like to go to a traditional Japanese inn with its own Zen garden and koi pool.

If you could pick one book you wish you’d written, what would it be?

Without hesitation it would be the original 1977 version of The Magus by John Fowles.  This novel has a fine literary style combined with an ‘otherworld’ feel to the plot and ends indeterminately. Fowles received many letters from readers wanting to know which of the two apparently possible outcomes was correct but he refused to answer the question conclusively, sometimes changing his answer to suit the reader.  Now that’s a literary legacy!

What are your future plans for writing?

I have two more books coming out in the next few months – ‘Pan: Dark Lord of the Forest and Horned God of the Witches’ and ‘By Wolfsbane and Mandrake Root: The Shadow World of Plants and Their Poisons’ – and then I shall be finishing off the third in the Temple House Archive series. There’s also a vampire novel in the planning stages.

Thank you again, Melusine for giving us a glimpse into your passion and process. We wish you all the best with your next projects!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Joanna van der Hoeven

Author's Name: Joanna van der Hoeven
Best Known Works: The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid
Where can you find her?WebsiteBlogFacebookTwitter
Top Writing Tip: Being a writer today means having to know something about marketing and publicity as well. It's not a glamorous part of the job, but it takes up about 70% of the work involved. You have to be your own manager, your own PR person, your own publicist, for the most part, because when you work with a publishing company, you're not the only author on the roster, and the time that they have to spend on you and your work is limited. So you have to build up your own brand, so to speak, from the bottom, doing the leg-work yourself. Find out who your audience is. Interact with them. Set up a website for you and your work. Set up social media pages for you and your work. Update them regularly. Take out advertising, but really do the research beforehand to ensure that you get what you are paying for. It's not very artistic, but it's a necessity, I think, in this day and age. 

Hi Joanna, thank you for taking the time to talk to us!

When and why did you begin writing?

I've been writing ever since I can remember. I've always created stories, and have a vivid imagination. I began writing a fantasy novel when I was thirteen; it was eventually published when I was in my 30's.  For me, writing is a way of either letting my imagination roam free, or in the case of non-fiction, defining something that I am working with on a deeper level, integrating it body and soul through the written word. 

How long does it take you to write a book, are you a fast writer or a slow writer?

I'm quite a fast writer. When the idea is there, and I've set down the outline for a book, it then comes very quickly. It just flows.  However, it takes some time to recharge the batteries after finishing a book, and spending time marketing it and so on, so that re-charge time is spent reading and researching, travelling, opening myself up to new experiences. So, for example, The Awen Alone only took about four months to write, and that was when I was also working a day job. However, it took me over a year before I was able to even think about the next book, Zen for Druids. That is an even longer book than The Awen Alone, but it only took roughly two months to write, as I'm now that I'm a full-time author, and can dedicate all my time to both research and writing. I'm very lucky, in that I have the time now to be able to delve more deeply into certain subjects. 

Tell us a little about yourself, what are the main life experiences that have led to this book?

Well, I came to Druidry in a very roundabout kind of way.  Back in the early 1990's, I had taken a course at college called "Magic, Religion and Science", and was shown a documentary film from the National Film Board of Canada on Paganism.  It resonated with me, but more than that, the musical soundtrack to the film resonated with me. It was written by Canadian artist Loreena McKennitt, and I found it hauntingly beautiful. Shortly after having watched that film, I visited a Pagan store in Montreal, and heard that same music being played. I felt instantly at home. I got a couple of books on Wicca, as well as cassettes of Loreena McKennitt's music, and my journey into Paganism started there. 

I practiced Wicca for some years, before diving deeply into Zen Buddhism.  After about five years later I then found Druidry, which for me blends the enchantment of living a magical life wholly integrated with nature and the discipline of living a life in service, to one's community, the land itself, the gods and the ancestors. I think I've always been a Druid, all my life, but I just didn't have a name for it. For me, Druids were characters in fantasy novels that I was reading at the time! I've now been a Druid for many years, and have always been a writer, ever since I was a teenager. When I felt I had enough experience under my belt, naturally I turned to writing about Druidry, and my impressions on that religious/spiritual path. 

And, of course, I'm still a big fan of Loreena McKennitt! I've followed her musical and physical journeys through the history of the Celtic diaspora since the beginning, and am always inspired by her work and her work ethic. 

Who encourages/inspires you?

I'm inspired by nature, by the natural world.  Taking long walks, being by myself, I get to silence the chattering mind, and allow myself to become still. It's like a form of moving meditation for me. I also practice meditation in the more traditional sense, but I receive inspiration when I'm out and interacting with the natural world, allowing the stories of the myriad beings all around me to sing.  We can get so lost in our own stories, and it's important to open ourselves out to hear the stories of others, both human and non-human. 

If you could pick one book you wish you’d written, what would it be?

The Lord of the Rings, most definitely.

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?

The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid is my third book with Moon Books publishing. I've written two previous books for their Pagan Portals series, entitled Zen Druidry: Living a Natural Life in Full Awareness as well as Dancing with Nemetona: A Druid's Exploration of Sanctuary and Sacred Space. 

Do you think ebooks have changed the publishing market for better or worse?

Ebooks are an interesting subject. I have a Kindle, which is great for when one is travelling. It certainly lightens the load in the suitcase, not having to cart around 10 books with me wherever I go! It's also good from an ecological perspective, in that the cost to the environment is much less when you purchase an ebook than a physical copy. That being said, there are many publishers out there who manufacture books with a strong ethical code, using natural dyes for the print and renewable or recycled materials, and they need to be supported as well. 

The problem with ebooks is that they can be pirated a lot easier than physical books. You used to have to scan a physical book page by page onto your computer in order to have an electronic copy that you can put out everywhere on the internet. Nowadays, it's fairly easy to convert a file into something that can be downloaded for free from various websites, and it's the author that suffers as no royalties are exchanged.  Most websites that offer free ebooks (illegally downloaded) are actually just set up to place a virus on your computer, but there are some out there that circulate illegal copies of your work. In electronic format, it's easier to pass on information. Sure, you can lend out physical books, from the library or from friends, but you will then return the book and go and buy the book for yourself if you've enjoyed it, which supports the author. With ebooks, sometimes it doesn't get that far. 

It's difficult, because books are becoming so expensive these days. Ebooks are much cheaper, as they involved much less work in their production and distribution, and so if one is able to afford a e-reader device, then financially it's the better option. But I've always loved having a physical book, and so will often buy an ebook and then, if I've loved it, buy the physical copy as well. Please buy your books, in whatever format, and support the authors! 

How important are reviews of your work, do you read them?

Reviews are very important for any author, especially when they come from platforms such as Amazon. After a certain number of reviews, your book is made known to a wider audience, and so the more reviews the better, really. It's always nice to have good reviews, but you will always have the odd one or two reviews from people who haven't read the book (which has happened to me, even stating that they haven't read the book in the review itself, that they bought it for someone and that they don't agree with all this Pagan stuff!) or from people who just don't get on with the material. And that's fine, people are people, and everyone has their own opinion on matters. What matters most to me personally is when someone actually takes the time out to contact me, to email me and tell me about their experience with one of my books.  It's so wonderful to know that you've touched upon someone's life in a certain way. 

What are your future plans for writing? 

I also have Zen for Druids: A Further Guide to Integration, Compassion and Harmony with Nature due out at the end of October 2016. Then there's two further works scheduled for release in 2017 and 2018 respectively: The Crane Bag: A Druid's Guide to Ritual Tools and Practices and a full length tome: A Druid Colloquy. 

Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your process and passion, Joanna. We wish you all the best with your next projects!

Monday, 11 April 2016

Ailsa Abraham

Author Name: Ailsa Abraham
Promoting: Alchemy
Where Can You Find Her?: Blog, Facebook, Twitter
Top Writing Tip:Make sure you HAVE to do this. If it is just a passing whim or you think it is a quick buck to be made, forget it. Writing is a slow and painful process to which you have to be dedicated. Highly rewarding when people like your work enough to leave reviews but don’t give up the day job. 

Hi Ailsa, thank you for taking the time to talk with us!

When and why did you begin writing?

At school. When given a reading book I didn’t like, aged about five or six, I went home and re-wrote the ending to please me better. After that kept on to amuse my friends and myself. 

When did you realize that you were Pagan?

Almost impossible to grow up in Cornwall and not realise it. From earliest childhood I was exposed to many different religions and realised that most of them were the same but with different deities. It followed that the natural world around me was the source of all things and therefore the most logical source to go to. Eventually I found a coven within five hours’ drive from me and studied seriously, being elevated to High Priestess before leaving to follow a solo path which is now mainly shamanic, as I am the village healer here. 

Tell us a little about yourself, what are the main life experiences that have led to this book?

I’m nearing OAP status, have lived all over the world including on a boat. I’m insatiably curious about everything. I’ve had more jobs than the Pony Express had horses, which was grand fun. My passion is animals and I was lucky enough to work as a veterinary nurse for four years.  A lifetime of study of religions past and present plus philosophical questions that most thinking people post themselves and a romance element that was drawn from one of my own resulted in the Alchemy series. 

How did the topic of your book(s) come to you? 

Shaman’s Drum was pure inspiration. I saw the first scene like a movie clip in my head while sitting in the garden. I watched a man in monk’s robes come to rescue a woman from a convent who obviously didn’t belong there. I had to go on and find the story behind it. From there it was easy to write the prequel because I already knew their backstory in my own head. 

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.

Riga is brought to the Black Shamans’ Guild as an unmanageable and untrained strong shaman when she is seven years old. Iamo defies his aristocratic parents to follow the Wiccan path he learned from his nanny, Rowena. A scientific discovery which eliminates the need for fossil fuels makes it possible for the present  established religions to be banned but paganism is overlooked. 
When demons take advantage of a population who no longer have a spiritual focus, the pagans have to come to the rescue. Iamo and Riga must work together although they find each other anathema to start with. 
All the characters are drawn from life and I’m told they are all, in their own ways, very likable. 

Do we see some of you in your book?

Hysterical laughter - oh yes! Riga is me in my younger days. I rather hope she will grow less impulsive with Crone-hood (although I haven’t). 

Do you plan your stories before you begin?

Yes, slightly. I have a faint outline of the whole story. Once I get going the characters take over and kick me to change things or suggest a good twist. If this sounds chaotic, it is. That’s how I live my life and I can’t imagine doing it any other way. I often write in patchwork - when a scene grabs me I write it and then “stitch” the scenes together to make a pretty quilt. 

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and, if so, how do you overcome it?

Yes, due to loads of health problems and accidents I am often brain-dead. I get around it by writing my blog which is bite-sized chunks of writing and leave my WIP to rest. There’s no other option. If I try to force myself to continue books when I am in a mind-fog I just suffer from terminal frustration and am likely to get violent. 

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?

As with everything else in my life, I published Shaman’s Drum first and then due to public demand had to write book one as a prequel. Now I would prefer people to read Alchemy first. Before that, I was published under my brother’s name writing crime fiction mixed with male romance. 

Are you published or self published, and what has been your experience of this process?

Published by two houses and have tried selfies. Will do both again. I’m unusual in that both genres were accepted immediately. I have only ever had one rejection letter from which it was obvious that the woman hadn’t even read the second page properly. 

Who encourages/inspires you?

My characters inspire me. I swear that they live in my house and come for walks with me, chatting about what they want to do next. I even had one of them, a Native American shaman, join me in Quaker Meeting with my aunt and dictate a section of Book Three. 

Where do you go when you need to recharge?

I’m fortunate enough to live in the middle of nowhere in the east of France surrounded by woodlands, young mountains and rivers. I simply call the dog and walk outside. Immediately I am amongst “friends” in spirit. I sit by the river and chat to them or I just lose myself in the beauty around me. Telling jokes to ducks is a goodie - they always laugh. I have a favourite tree who gives me a lot of grounding and strength when I need it so a visit to Uncle Walnut is a must. 

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you most like a writing retreat?

I have a favorite campsite in the Aude by the Canal du Midi. I go there to write when I’m finding things difficult. It’s handy because I can take the dog, cat and old feller with me and I’m still in open country which is essential. I couldn’t write in a big town or city.  I need to be able to get out in the open air to practice my rituals (even just sun-up and sun-down) which usually gives me inner peace to keep going. 

What are your future plans for writing?

I’ve been asked by a publisher to write non fiction on herbs and healing. Alchemy will have at least Book Three if not Four. I am going to take over my brother’s work and develop it with more crime and less sex.  At the moment I am still getting back to writing following a severe motorbike accident that nearly wiped me out and left me in a coma for three weeks. 

Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your passion and process, Ailsa! We wish you all the best with your non-fiction and fiction work!