For this month’s installment of Seven Questions I’m hosting the lovely and talented Tamara Shoemaker. I met Tamara through my work with the flash fiction collective Flashdogs. I also recently edited her first epic fantasy book, Kindle the Flame, on sale now at the usual place.
Here’s a bit about Tamara in her own words:
Tamara Shoemaker lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three children, a few jars of Nutella, and a never-empty carafe of coffee. She authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the beginning of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy, Kindle the Flame, as well as the upcoming Guardian of the Vale trilogy.
And Tamara now answers my seven questions!
1) Pitch your book in three sentences:
Kindle the Flame follows the journeys of my four main characters, interweaving each one’s search to discover their true selves behind their origins. Through the Dragonfire, the Pixie magic, the political intrigue, and the epic clash of kingdoms, they zero in on their goals. Burned by more than creatures’ flames, will they survive the fires of discovery?
2) What are your writing rituals?
My writing rituals typically start with caffeine. It wasn’t always that way, but as my writing load has increased, so has my zombie-brain. Now, coffee is my morning ritual, settling the kids into an activity or two, and then heading to my laptop. On my way through a first draft, I like to carve out a minimum of a thousand words a day. If I’m really feeling it, two thousand, and if for some reason, the muse is sitting on my shoulder, I’ve hit nine thousand before. But that’s rare.
Now that I’m trying to edit multiple manuscripts at the same time as I create new ones, I’ve found that time management has become an essential thing. Since much of my interest and love focuses on writing, I will spend all day every day on that, and the house loses the battle with cleanliness. My husband loses his wife for a few days at a time, and the kids come “help” me type.
Here’s an example of their contributions: 23y89hgnaifbnaaaaaaaaaa
I was also dealing with stiff muscles, foggy head, numb fingertips, and sore neck. So now, I’ve divided my day into “snits.” Two hours max on any one project. Stand up, work out for half an hour. Another two hours on another project (not allowed to be the same one). Lunch. Quality time with the kids. Games, playtime. Send the kids to quiet time. Another two hours of project three. Get kids out of quiet time, employ them in chores, do some chores myself. Fix supper. Welcome dear husband home. Eat supper. Clean up. Put kids to bed. Relax and write (yes, those things can be done simultaneously).
3) Why a fantasy?
When I wrote mysteries, my imagination went wild with possible storylines, but much of the time, I had to rein the rabbit trails, because they simply weren’t possible in the physical realm. I had to know a lot of “if this, then thats, and that frustrated me. If a crime scene, then who shows up? If there’s a court battle, then what is the courtroom procedure?
I guess it all comes down to the fact that I don’t like rules. So within the fantasy genre, I found that I had no limits. I could let my imagination soar, and with that freedom, I found whole new worlds. I love magic, I love non-human creatures, I love the idea that I can coat a Dragon with mirrored scales just because I say so.
4) What’s a favorite fantasy book and why?
Wow, that’s a hard question. It’s a bit like asking me to choose my favorite child and say why that’s the case (I love all my children equally, as any good mother would, of course). I guess I fell in love with fantasy over Harry Potter, and after that, every fantasy I read just fueled that passion. I went back to Lord of the Rings, Narnia, then ahead to Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Divergent, Graceling, and others. If I had to name one book, I suppose I should pick the book that started it all: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or the Philosopher’s Stone, depending on your area of the world).
5) What makes a great sentence?
Subtlety. Brevity. Words beneath words, and meaning over meaning. A sentence that connects on all levels with the reader.
6) Your top five overused words are:
HA! Thanks to my local critique group, I am now abundantly aware whenever these words depart from my fingertips and make their way onto my screen before they’re ruthlessly obliterated. Here’s my top five list: slightly, just, gazed, abruptly, and (for you, dear Emily), flickering. 😉
7) What is your next novel about?
Mark of Four is an urban fantasy set in post-apocalyptic earth, and the new source of power is the elements: Air, Fire, Earth, and Water. Elementals can wield one of those four, depending on their bloodlines, but…
Alayne Worth can wield all four. No one knows why. But all the powers in CommonEarth, both good and evil, want her gift. How will she survive the earth-shattering struggle for the power she possesses?
Many thanks to Tamara for participating in Seven Questions!
She has written five books, all available on Amazon. Her latest is the YA Fantasy Kindle the Flame.
Here’s a bit more about it:
A girl who never fit in, a young man forced into an outcast’s life, a boy raised without a community, and a ruler who holds the key to their destinies…
Kinna has a Pixie she can’t train and a head full of doubts. Her worst fears come true when she fails the Tournament entrance test. She flees her Clan in disgrace, inexplicably drawn to a Mirage, a rare Dragon she has no business training.
Ayden is cursed—anyone he touches turns to ash before his eyes. He hides amongst the Dragon Clan with the only creatures he cannot hurt. When Kinna frees his favorite Dragon, his world turns upside down.
Cedric grows up in isolation, fostered by an outcast Centaur. When tragedy strikes, he ventures into a strange new world of Dragons, political intrigue, and magic.
Sebastian’s country hovers on the brink of war. Chased from his rightful throne, he schemes to retake his kingdom by any means possible, even if it threatens an ancient agreement that underpins the foundation of his realm.
Only by examining their pasts will these four find their futures. But will they survive the fires of discovery?