AuThursday – Alexander Vayle

Author Photo II (2)Please welcome Alexander Vayle to the Clog Blog.  Alexander and I are both members of The Moorhead Friends Writing Group.  So Alexander, tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m a father of four, a former paramedic, and a registered nurse. I grew up in the country and I believe the quiet and calm out there helped nurture my imagination. I wrote my first story in elementary and writing has been a hobby of mine off and on ever since. A few years ago I found an excellent writing group and really buckled down to produce some work. Since then I have published my first book, a collection of Supernatural suspense titled “Among the Stray”, and I have a novel in the works. 

How do you make time to write? 

Early morning has always been my best for clarity and creativity. I try to get up around 5am so I can get in an hour or two of writing before the rest of the house starts waking up. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I haven’t found it yet. If get stuck on something I simply change gears, free-write, whatever it takes. I don’t believe in beating my head against a story until it starts to work. I’ll think about my book or other stories at night, as I’m falling asleep, so I usually have pile of ideas ready to go by the time I sit down in front of a keyboard. 

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

Supernatural suspense, drama, Syfy, Murder mystery. It’s hard to pin down a genre I enjoy the most. As long as the characters are real and story draws out emotion from the reader, I’m happy. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

My first book was published traditionally through All Things That Matter Press. If I can, I will always go traditional. The amount of advertising and the work they have done getting my book out is something I simply wouldn’t have time for on my own. Working with professionals also gave me a better grasp of how the industry works. 

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work? 

Introvert. I’m comfortable by myself and I always have been. I think it comes from growing up in the country where we didn’t have a lot of neighbors. My sister and I made up a lot of stories to entertain ourselves and it became a big part of who I am. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Hard to pick a favorite, but one that I’ve always liked is:

“If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.”

Getting up early is not always easy. Trying to find time to edit other people’s writing and my own and come up with new material isn’t easy either. But it certainly is satisfying when I lean back and look at what I’ve accomplished. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

FIND. A. WRITING. GROUP. Seriously, it made all the difference for me. Working on your own is fine, but getting feedback from other people takes writing to a whole new level. I think some people feel like their work is not good enough to be reviewed by their peers, and that hesitancy is what stops their work from becoming as good as it can be. I’ve had my writing reviewed by a lot of other writers and most of them have been very gracious with constructive criticism and compliments. Writers, in my experience, love to help other writers. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

@Alexandervayle on Twitter

email me at Alexandervayle@gmail.com, check out “Among the Stray” on Amazon, booksamillion, and basically any site where books are sold.

For those who prefer brick and mortar you can find “Among the Stray” at any of the Ferguson Book Store locations, Zambroz in Fargo, or at the Fargo Public Library. 

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us? 

You bet! Here’s a few lines out of Back From Where You Came, the final story in “Among the Stray” 

Among the stray“Getting in the house was the easy part. The streetlight on their block was out. The back door, the one going out to the detached garage, wasn’t locked. It seemed like … like everything was set up just for me that night. I walked right in. Little mud room off the kitchen. Kicked off my shoes so I be quiet. I even set them on the rug so I wouldn’t get the floor dirty. Imagine that, huh? There to shoot somebody and I didn’t want to get the floor dirty. Habits, I guess.” 

AuThursday – TJ Fier

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m Associate Professor of Set Design at North Dakota State University, I also (pre-pandemic) worked as a freelance set designer and scenic artist. I’ve been writing since before I had the ability to actually write (I dictated my stories to my mother) and got serious about writing again back in the summer of 2017. I’ve been writing like a madwoman ever since!

How do you make time to write?

I usually write in the evening when I’m done with work or when I have short breaks in my day. As long as my laptop is working, I can find a time and space to write. 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I’m a “plantser” which means I plot a whole bunch, but then often deviate from my outlines as I write the story. I prefer plotting first because it helps me get to know my characters and have a sense of where I want to go with my stories. Since I get to know my characters before I write their words, they sometimes take over a plotted scene and send it in better, more interesting direction.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I believe in creative exhaustion. I work in a creative field so sometimes there isn’t the space for being creative anymore and writing becomes difficult. I don’t believe in writing every day. I believe we all need some mental rest now and again.

How did you deal with Rejection Letters if you received any? 

I’ve dealt with a ton of rejection. That’s the life of an artist. What I prefer is rejection with some helpful feedback. Too often I receive form letters so I have no idea why my story didn’t work for them. It’s wonderful when someone points out the problems and you can then address them. 

Tell us about your upcoming Unicorn Novel.

The Bright OneTHE BRIGHT ONE is being published by The Three Little Sisters coming December 2020. 

Alexa never expected to stumble across a unicorn trapped in the women’s bathroom, especially not one on the run from a monster. Totally freaked out but unable to leave the magical beast behind, Alexa offers the unicorn, Una, a refuge in her parent’s backyard shed until they figure out what to do next. 

When the monster, a beast made of cloud and rage, shows up on her doorstep, Alexa and Una have no choice but to run for their lives. Alexa recruits the aid of her best friend, Mateo, and her unrequited crush, Sid, to help her save Una. Together they pile into Alexa’s Honda Civic and begin a race across the American Midwest. But the monster is clever as it is quick, attacking both from above and below, as well as within. 

As their deadly game of cat and mouse unspools, the monster focuses its attention on Alexa, claiming Una is not what it seems. Despite her inner turmoil, she must find the strength to fight for the ones she loves and figure out who is the real monster. 

Amazon Link 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I feel the key to improving your writing is sharing your work with other writers. The first version of THE BRIGHT ONE was really rough. The version that came out of my writing group was far superior to where I started. Don’t write in a vacuum. Be brave and take criticism.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

I hate writing query letters. Figuring out pitches used to be impossible for me, but I feel like I’m improving bit by bit. A good elevator pitch is really important. Same with a solid query letter.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My author page on Facebook is here: https://www.facebook.com/iamfierless

My Twitter profile is here: https://twitter.com/iamfierless

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

I don’t yet have access to the final, edited version, but I should once the book is finally released. I will be reading excepts on my Facebook author page and on Twitter once my book is released.

First Friday Lunch – NaNoWriMo

I’ve started hosting a First Friday Lunch on my YouTube channel.  I’ll pick a different topic each month and talk about it LIVE!

Here is today’s Video

Next month I’ll be hosting LIVE On December 6th and the topic will be Writing through the Holidays.

Tina’s Touring – Darla M. Sands

I’m over at my fellow Writer Zen Gardener and friend Darla Sands today talking about my book, “Finding Your Path to Publishing”.   Please join me.

http://darlamsands.blogspot.com/

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AuThursday – Madison Micheal

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madison michael author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Actually I just rewrote my bio for my website to share more of who I am and where I came from. It sounded so dull before, and I am not a dull person. I am opinionated and not shy about sharing my thoughts. I love to give advice – unsolicited. I adore expensive shoes, bargains on everything else and long baths with a good book. I am addicted to the movies – at the theater. Currently I am acquiring a appreciation for opera and live theater. I love dogs but like to share my digs with cats.

I am originally from Chicago but I have lived on both coasts from Boston to San Francisco, with several stops in between. I spent my career as a technical consultant or manager for a huge software company, but I retired in 2014 and got away from the 9 to 5 life. I miss my coworkers but not the job. To entertain myself upon retiring I started taking classes including one on “How to Write a Romance Novel” and with encouragement from friends, the rest is history.

I am close with my family, reside in suburban Chicago and I love to travel. I am on the board of directors of Mental Health America of the North Shore because they do good work and a member of Romance Writers of America.

How do you make time to write?

I am very fortunate because I am able to write full-time.

What genre are your books?

I write contemporary fiction, usually with some steamy sex. That is my wheel-house so far in my

“Beguiling Bachelor” series. But I did just complete “Our Love is Here to Stay”, which is a time-travel story.

I love reading mysteries, literature, and romance in every genre, so I have sprinkled small pieces of these into my books where I can. My mother was a librarian. She taught me to love reading and respect writers of every kind. Every word I write can be traced back to her teachings in some way or another.

What draws you to this genre?

I grew up on Regency romance, and I am drawn there but haven’t braved the genre yet. Instead, I write more of what I know – current times and current places. I set my books in places that are familiar and I make my characters a bit older than in some romances. Women in their late 20’s and early 30’s and men in their mid-30’s have problems to overcome, responsibilities to juggle and they have sex. That is what I like to write about – their flaws, their journeys, their struggles and the wonderful ways they fall in love.

What are your current projects?

I have just completed the first book in a new series, the Billionaire B&B series. The book, “Desire & Dessert” will be published in a collection this spring, with at least two more volumes to follow. My Beguiling Bachelors will return this summer, and I am always toying with a short story or two.

I am very excited about another new project – a blog for romance writers. Today I blog for my readers, my story every Thursday and an introduction to another author every Tuesday. But begging next month, on Monday’s, I will begin sharing what I have learned about writing and indie-publishing. Am I THE expert as I begin my third year as a writer? Hardly. But I have learned tons about being a new writer that experts have forgotten. Sometimes it is the non-expert that new writers can relate to. I hope to share my wisdom with those people.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?

My whole life I was an extravert, but once I became a writer, I became the complete opposite. Anyone or anything that takes me away from my computer is a disruption. That said, once I have made the break, the extravert in me rules again. I love being with my friends and family, networking with other authors and meeting fans. I just need that initial nudge to put down my writing.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

No feedback. No reviews. I send my books out there into the world representing my hard work and heart. They are a labor of love for me – my babies. When I have no idea how they are received, that leaves me wondering ‘do I write something similar? something different?” I don’t write only for me. I write for my readers and their feedback is priceless.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I speak with more aspiring writers than I ever could have imagined and I tell them all the same things – read more and write more. I tell them the different betwee a writer and a want-to-be writer is that a writer finishes something.

When I got ready to write my first novel I read tons of romances, paid attention to the covers, the titles, the back-cover blurbs, even the author bios. I wrote down words and phrases that I loved from my favorite books. This became my library of inspriration. Then I wrote and wrote and wrote, edited and rewrote until I finished my first novel, “Bedazzled.”

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I hope readers will visit me at www.madisonmicahel.net  where I have a blog and a wonderful giveaway for joining my insider group.

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Writer Wednesday – Find your tribe

Writing-GroupOn my writing journey, I know I would not be where I am today without the tribe of writers around me.

Having a supportive partner and family is important too, and I’m fortunate to have that as well.

But when I write myself into a corner, cuz I’m a pantser and we do that, DH is of no help.   But I can call my friend Arden Richards, whose not yet published but is the best plotter I know.

I belong to a number of tribes –

The F-M Word Weavers – This is my local critique group.  Arden is a member as well.  Also in my group are published Authors Maddy Barone and Mary Jean Adams.  The wealth of knowledge in this group is wonderful, and my writing has greatly improved over the years thanks to these ladies.   I found this group on Meet-up and It helps that most of the group is made up of Romance Authors.

Romance Writers of America – I highly recommend this group if you are looking to establish a career in the Romance Writing Industry.   I’ve been a member since 2004 and belong to an online chapter.   I met my first critique partner Holli Winters through RWA.    If you want to learn more about this particular tribe I recommend, if you have Netflix, that you watch “Love Between the Covers”.  First time DH watched it with me he said, “Sounds like your writer friends.”  Yes, yes it does.

Of course there is also Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers or America.  As I do not write in these genres, I’m unfamiliar with their membership. 

Romance Divas – I’ve recently joined Divas, but I have friends who have been members for years and rave about the mentorship and learning there.   It seems too that Divas is on the leading edge of trends within the Romance Industry.    Also they are FREE, so that is helpful for those watching their budget.

Marketing for Romance Writers – Despite the name, more than Romance Writers belong to this community.   If you follow my AuThursday interviews, many of the writers are from this group.  This group is also FREE. 

Writer Zen Garden – I’ve been with Writer Zen Garden for about five years, brought in by my friend and founding member, A. Catherine Noon.   Writer Zen Garden has authors of different genres.   They are wonderful for writers just starting out and maybe not so Romance focused.   To me the focus is very creative and  wonderful  cheerleading group. And Guess what – also FREE.

I continue to join groups as I see what they have to offer and if it is a good fit for me.   I highly recommend that if you aren’t a member of a tribe that you join one.   There is something about the writing journey that shouldn’t be done in a bubble.   I mean you can, but there are so many options to connect with people and learn, why wouldn’t you. 

The groups above have helped me through Writer’s Block, Rejection, Plotting, Marketing, Networking, and supporting me through my writing journey.   I can’t imagine writing without my tribes. 

~Tina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer Wednesday – Retreats

My apologies for missing last Writer Wednesday.  I’d returned from an annual Writing Retreat for the Founders of Writer Zen Garden, and found myself forgetting.

I’ve attended this Retreat annually and the theme or tone of the meeting varies from year to year, depending on where we are at in our lives.

This year before meeting, one member suggested more writing time, and I’m so glad she did. 

We routinely do Morning Pages, Free Write and a CRAFT.

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WZG 2017 Craft

This year we added in Writing Prompts, Mind Mapping and Creative Journaling. 

The Mind Mapping and a prompt on setting were exactly what I needed.  I tend to write dialouge heavy, so this was very helpful to help me find a balance. 

If you are planning on hosting a retreat, Even a self-retreat, there are a few things I would recommend: 

  1. Have goals – This is reason for the Retreat.  Finish a book, commune with like minded writers, relax.  Whatever it is, even if each writer has different goals, this will help with making a plan, so everyone walks away with what they want. 
  2. Have a plan – Get input from all people attending your retreat.   Pick a location. Create a schedule.   Share it.   A plan will give you framework for your retreat to ensure everyone has fun. 
  3. Have Fun – So you can’t hit the park, because your location has suddenly been deluged by rain.   You spent more time chatting and less time writing – been there.  If you think of the plan as a framework and not a schedule, you can better roll with it. 

Last year I hosted the WZG Writing Retreat on my Farm.   I’ve toyed with the idea of coordinating a spring retreat for local authors at my farm or at The Smokey Hills in Minnesota. 

The goal for me has always been to catch up with authors about what they are writing and trying to re-energize my own writing.   This is for both retreats and conferences.  Before investing time and money into any event, be sure you have a goal.  My goal helps set the expectations and I can measure sucess from it. 

My goals were met, so I would call the retreat a success. 

Here are some other great blogs on planning retreats:

http://rawdogscreaming.com/8-things-learned-planning-writing-retreat/

http://www.alexrwhite.com/how-to-plan-a-writing-retreat-part-1-goals-and-rules/

https://www.janefriedman.com/value-writing-retreats/

https://jenniferlouden.com/create-your-own-writing-retreat/

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/do-it-yourself-writing-retreats

Join me next week as we continue my query journey.~Tina

Tina’s Teaching

****Please Forward to your Writing Groups****

S.E.N.D presented by Tina Holland
Workshop begins: August 7, 2017
Class length: Two weeks
Cost: $15 (free to RWA® Online Chapter members)
Registration opens July 24, 2017

Link to registration: http://rwaonlinechapter.org/?page_id=466

Workshop Description:

Submit your work

Establish your brand

Next book

Discover your strengths.

Are you struggling to find a home for your finished manuscript?   Have you submitted your book, but have no idea where to go from here?   Tina Holland’s SEND workshop may be for you.  In this class, you’ll learn:

1) How to research and SUBMIT to a publishing house and get what you want.

2) How to ESTABLISH your brand, even when writing different genres or standalone books

3)  The importance of working on the NEXT book

4)  DISCOVER your strengths as a writer and learn to use them to your advantage.

About the Presenter:

Tina Holland was born in Frankfurt, Germany and is now settled in the Red River Valley of North Dakota. She lives on a hobby farm and enjoys horseback riding, camping, travelling, and reading books by her favorite authors.

Tina has been published since 2005, and continues to release books as her schedule allows. Tina is a member of RWA Online, Zen Writer’s Garden and the F-M Word Weavers. She hosts a blog at https://tinaholland.wordpress.com/ and you can reach her at  tina@tinaholland.com
Deadline to register is August 7, 2017

FMI: http://rwaonlinechapter.org/?page_id=466

Or email Patti Fischer at fisc40pa@aol.com

You do not need to be a RWA® member to take the class.

Note: RWA® Online conducts all workshops via a message board system located on this website.  However, access to the site is restricted by login and password to ensure that the workshop is only available to those that are authorized to attend.