Seven Questions: Allison K. García

I recently had the pleasure of formatting Allison K. García’s first novel, Vivir El Dream, a story of life in America for Mexican immigrants and their families. It gave me a chance to practice my rusty Spanish as I checked endnotes that translated the Spanish material in the book into English.

Allison is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a passion for writing. Latina at heart, she has absorbed the love and culture of her friends, family, and hermanos en Cristo and has used her experiences to cast a glimpse into the journey of undocumented Christians from Mexico as they attempt to make a life in the United States.

Allison K. Garcia

Welcome, Allison!

1-Pitch your book in three sentences or less.

The fates of an undocumented college student and her mother intertwine with a suicidal businessman’s. As circumstances worsen, will their faith carry them through or will their fears drag them down?

 

2-Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

Indie published. Well, this has been a five-year journey for me! I wrote this book during 2012 NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, November) and had been hoping to get it published traditionally in the Christian market. I bumped up against a lot of barriers, mostly because there is not a lot of diverse Christian fiction on the market right now and because this might be one of the first English-language Latino Christian fiction books. Long story short, it’s a new genre, so a lot of Christian agents weren’t sure how to market it (not to mention the fact that it deals with undocumented Christians, which is a hot topic). The secular market doesn’t like dealing with Christian fiction, so I wasn’t able to go that route either. So, after much praying and consulting with other writerly friends, I decided to go the indie route. I felt called to write this book, and I feel the world needs to see it, especially with everything going on right now. Then came the whirlwind of indie publishing, which I am still in the midst of figuring out. Thankfully, I have plenty of friends who indie publish, so they have been awesome at answering my many, many questions during the journey.

3-What are your favorite genres/books to read, and do you think this affects your writing? How?

Well, I love reading diverse books, I find myself drawn to them. And I’m a sucker for classics like the Brontës, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, etc. I love stories about people and their lives and struggles. I love epic fiction, as well. As long as it has a good story with interesting characters, you’ve got me!

4-What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Two come to mind. I love going to my American Christian Fiction Writers conferences and spending time with my local chapter, because they often remind me why I’m writing Christian fiction and get my head back in the right spot.

Also I had a Creative Writing teacher in high school, Ms. Whiting. She said, “Allison, you write, “And then she slowly walked over to the door, step by step, raised her hand to the knob, and twisted her hand to the right, allowing the door to creak open.’ Sometimes you just need to say, ‘She opened the door.’” That has stuck with me.

5-How do you fit your writing into a busy life?

I write and edit in the mornings before my toddler wakes up. I’m up at 5 and he usually is up between 7-8am, so I have a solid 2-3 hrs to write.

6-What is your favorite book that you would categorize as similar to Vivir El Dream?

I would like to say Like Water for Chocolate because of its Mexican culture, how it talks a lot about cooking and has humor and a bit of romance, but also deals with some tough issues.

7-What’s your secret superpower?

The ability to catch a falling toddler in a single bound! Just kidding…sort of…one of my hidden talents is cooking from scratch. My proudest example was making lasagna from scratch…like for real. I made the mozzarella and ricotta cheese, I made the noodles from flour, egg, etc. and I made the marinara from my homegrown tomatoes and herbs from my garden. I felt pretty Italian in that moment! I channeled my Italian ancestors for sure!

So many thanks to Allison for appearing for Seven Questions on my blog.

You can get Vivir El Dream on Amazon here.

Vivir el Dream Kindle cover

Vivir El Dream

Linda Palacios crossed the border at age three with her mother, Juanita, to escape their traumatic life in Mexico and to pursue the American dream. Years later, Linda nears college graduation. With little hope for the future as an undocumented immigrant, Linda wonders where her life is going.

Tim Draker, a long-unemployed businessman, has wondered the same thing. Overcome with despair, he decides to take his own life. Before he can carry out his plan, he changes course when he finds a job as a mechanic. Embarrassed about working at a garage in the barrio, he lies to his wife in hopes of finding something better.

After Juanita’s coworker gets deported, she takes in her friend’s son, Hector, whom her daughter Linda can’t stand, While Juanita deals with nightmares of her traumatic past, she loses her job and decides to go into business for herself.

Will the three of them allow God to guide them through the challenges to come, or will they let their own desires and goals get in the way of His path?

 

 

The Infernal Clock

My flash fiction buddies have been up to their old shenanigans, and after a random episode of tweeting brilliance, David Shakes came up with another cool flash fiction book concept, The Infernal Clock, a horror story for each hour of the day.

My hour, assigned late in the game, was 2 a.m. I have played around with horror as an exercise over the years, but I admit, I find it one of the hardest genres as a writer. My story, Karen’s Babies, was one of many stories I have written in my life to which I didn’t want to attach my name. But, I took a deep breath and did it anyway, as an exercise in detaching from my creations. Just because I wrote something dark and twisted, it doesn’t mean I am dark and twisted.

Right?

I had the privilege of working with David Shakes and Steph Ellis, the curators of this volume, to produce the final product in e-book and print form. The incomparable Tamara Rogers made the cover.

get e-book here

get print book here

INfernal Clock Kindle Cover

 

 

Seven Questions: Mark A. King

I am very happy to welcome Mark A. King to my blog for a round of seven questions, featuring his debut novel Metropolitan Dreams. Mark is one of the founders of FlashDogs, a global community of talented flash fiction writers. His flash fiction stories have been published in a number of anthologies and magazines. Mark was born and raised in London, works in Cambridge, and lives in Norfolk, England.

wide-cover-1

1-Pitch your book in three sentences or less.

M.A.K.: In the aftermath of a violent crime we follow the connected stories of an injured nightclub bouncer, an ageing crime-lord, a conflicted police hacker, a traumatised Tube-driver and a vulnerable twelve-year-old girl as they fight for survival, purpose and redemption in the fractured city of London. Along the journey we discover lost rivers, abandoned underground stations, mysterious forces and angels (perhaps).

2-Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

M.A.K.: Indie published. Having monitored the progress (and success) of many FlashDogs on their various publishing adventures, it became clear to me that traditional publishing can be a long, hard and often frustrating experience. Self publishing offers choice, power, flexibility and responsiveness in terms of being able to get the book in front of readers. Some misguided voices that say self publishing has lesser quality, but a fair number of the finest books I have read over the last few years have come from indie authors and traditional publishing is no guarantee that you will like a book anyway, as everyone has their own reading preferences. Indeed, the indie path can often offer a wider variety of material to the reader. Neither is better, it’s just that indie suited me at this time.
The kind and talented host of this blog helped me almost every step of the way, from story transformation through to last minute logo creation. Should you be able to find someone as marvellous, I highly recommend you seek their magic as a priority early in the process.

3-What are your favorite genres/books to read, and do you think this affects your writing? How?

M.A.K.: I enjoy speculative fiction, which covers genres as diverse as science fiction, horror, fantasy, magical realism and new weird. I find myself always looking firstly to ground my stories in the lives of my characters and the journey they on on, but I’m fascinated by the worlds that science, faith and spirituality hint at, which are just beyond our current understanding. So I always try to find an undercurrent of otherworldlyness in my stories (not a real word, but it probably should be).

4-What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

M.A.K.: I can’t remember the exact words, but it was something like ‘Write the way you want to write. Try not to be someone else as there is only one you.’
I’m starting to learn that it’s important to tell the stories I want to tell in the way that I want to tell them. It might sound obvious, but it’s not, well not for me anyway, I’m fairly conformist in my real life, my writing in many ways is an outlet for something more creative.
However, I realise that this approach is likely to mean that I have less success in terms of potential sales.
It would almost certainly be easier to create a firm genre fiction, following the paths of proven formulas, but that wouldn’t seem like success to me. I’ve waited all my life to write a novel. Success, I think, is creating something different and unique, being true to the stories in my imagination and in my heart, and all I can hope for is that readers will appreciate something slightly different and connect with it in some way.

5-How do you fit your writing into a busy life?

M.A.K.: It is incredibly hard. Like many writers, I have a full time job. I have a reasonable amount of responsibility in my job and when I come home there are numerous demands on my time and energy. I juggle a number of social media accounts (my personal one, my writer one/s and the FlashDogs one)–I wouldn’t make a good spy, as this is too many identities for me already. I tend to squeeze stolen minutes and hours between other tasks, or use my work breaks wisely. My favourite writing experience was when I had to drop my daughter at a horse riding experience which was in in a neighbouring county. Too far away to come back home, so I looked at the map and realised that Rendlesham Forest was nearby, so I took my laptop and wrote some of Metropolitan Dreams from the middle of the forest where UFO sightings have been reported (the UK’s very own Roswell incident, only with more witnesses and recorded evidence from military personnel).
rendlesham-1
It was a magical place to write from, it wasn’t just the history, but being outside surrounded by the energy of the forest was inspiring in itself. So, while finding time is sometimes hard, it does also lead to wonderful opportunities.

6-How and when did you first know you were a writer?

M.A.K.: I find it odd to think of myself as a writer and I have a cheeky small-boy grin when someone suggests that I might be one. For most of us, writing is unlikely to pay the bills, so for me, it is only ever a secondary role to; being a father, husband, good employee/manager, community contributor etc.

7-What’s your secret superpower?

M.A.K.: What is it now? Or what would I like it to be? If now, then people say that I am generally very calm under pressure. But if I had to choose a real superpower, it would be teleportation. I’d click my fingers and return to the warm sands of Shark Bay on Heron Island which sits atop the Great Barrier Reef. I’d click my fingers again to visit family or friends I don’t see often enough. Click to visit the many friends I have not yet met in different parts of the world.

Many thanks to Mark for answering seven questions!

You can learn more about Mark and his writing at his blog: https://makingfiction.com/
Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Making_Fiction
Get Metropolitan Dreams: https://goo.gl/EsXA3I

Seven Questions : July 2016 : Jessie Kwak

This month I’m hosting the talented Jessie Kwak, a fellow cycling writer. Jessie and I have shared space in the bikey short fiction anthologies published by Elly Blue, and her current work-in-progress will be published as the next novel in the Bikes In Space series, following The Velocipede Races as a pioneer in the emerging bicycle fiction genre.

She is a freelancer writer of many talents and projects living in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not working with B2B marketers to tell their brand’s story, you can find her scribbling away on her latest novel, riding her bike to the brewpub, or sewing something fun. Her latest fiction work is Starfallset in a futuristic world of space bikes and gangsters.

starfall

EJS: Pitch your featured book in three sentences.

JK: When Starla Dusai, the deaf daughter of a notorious space pirate clan, is captured by the Alliance, she finds herself in a remote prison with no idea what happened to the rest of her family. Rumors of her family’s destruction quickly make their way through the black market underbelly of New Sarjun, where they reach the ears of her godfather, Willem Jaantzen. As the jaws of the Alliance’s justice system close in around her, will Starla be able to find her way out – or Jaantzen, in?

EJS: Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

JK: It’s indie-published. I’m working on a novel right now for Microcosm Publishing set in this same world. Starla and her godfather, Jaantzen, are minor characters in this novel, but they kept nudging me to tell more about their story. I started Starfall as a quick backstory sketch, but it quickly took on a life of its own.

Even though it’s short, I put a ton of care into the production. I commissioned the cover art of Starla – which I adore – and worked with a professional editor and cover designer to make sure everything’s as perfect as it can be.

I own my own freelance writing business, so the business side of indie publishing is really attractive to me. Plus, I love the ability to work on my own timeline and release something when it’s ready.

EJS: Why sci-fi?

JK: I’ve been referring to Starfall as “gangster sci-fi,” which is a label I’ll probably apply to the rest of the novellas I have planned in the series. I would say the series is very much more inspired by movies like The Godfather and Ronin – just set in a far-future world.

For my entire life, I’ve loved immersing myself in fantastical places – both in what I read, and the stories I made up. I’ve shied away from writing sci-fi for a long time, mostly because I was scared of the science-y aspects of the worldbuilding.

I’ll be the first to admit Starfall is very soft sci-fi, though. My stories are all very character-driven – my goal is first and foremost to tell a good story with people you want to spend time with, then make sure the world is realistic enough that it doesn’t knock you out of the story.

EJS: What’s a favorite sci-fi book and why?

JK: Growing up, Dune and Ender’s Game were my absolute favorites. Now, though, I have too many to count! I love Rachel Bach’s Paradox Trilogy – there’s adventure, romance, and kick-ass characters. I’m also thoroughly enjoying James S.A Corey’s Expanse Series. Rollicking adventures and fabulous characters – so much fun!

EJS: What makes a sentence great?

JK: It has an element of surprise to it, and the reader feels it in their soul. Margaret Atwood and Margot Lanagan are both masters of great sentences.

EJS: How and when did you first know you were a writer?

JK: When I filled two spiral bound notebooks with a story in middle school.

 EJS: What are your writing rituals?

JK: Since I’m a freelance writer for my day job, I have to make a clear delineation between when/where I write fiction, and when/where I do client work. For client work, I sit at a desk with my schedule and phone and notepad beside me. When it’s fiction-writing time, I’ll take my laptop to the armchair or couch and put my feet up with a cup of tea or glass of wine, depending on the time of day. For me, evening is often a better time to do creative writing, while morning is a better time to edit and outline.

Learn more about Jessie: http://www.jessiekwak.com/

Read an excerpt from Starfallhttp://www.jessiekwak.com/starfall-an-excerpt/

Get Starfall for free by signing up for Jessie’s mailing list: http://www.jessiekwak.com/get-starfall-for-free/

Follow her on Twitter: (@jkwak).

 

 

 

Sterling At Last

Sterling

Today is the official release date of Tales of Blood & Light, Book Three, STERLING. It is now available in all formats on Amazon or through special order from LCP.

I hope you will enjoy this fantasy romance adventure that is a bit of a departure from my other books–a little sweeter and a little lighter, while still advancing the plots of war, intrigue, and magic that drive the Tales of Blood & Light.

Thank you for reading!