Starla Huchton On Her New Novel Entitled Maven

Standard

MAVEN_450x600I’m so happy to have Starla Huchton back that if I was a giggler I would, uhm, giggle. Needless to say, I’m excited to bring her back to talk about her new book Maven which is set to be released on June 3, 2013. That’s just over a week away! She’s such a busy woman, which I can totally understand and appreciate, so the fact that she spared the time to do this interview makes her presence here that much more sweet.

So Starla, talk to me…

1. For the sake of those who don’t know you yet, give us a little bit of information about yourself. You write, yes, but what else are you up to?

Most of what I do these days (outside of chasing my kids while my husband is deployed) is design book covers. I work with both independent authors and publishers alike. I believe my job as a designer is to get to the heart of a story and try to convey that into the visual. It’s not the easiest of tasks sometimes, but I love what I do and I’m thankful that others like my work enough that I can continue doing it.

Some might know me as an audiobook narrator. I’m currently working on the fourth book in Lindsay Buroker’s The Emperor’s Edge series, though I am woefully behind in this. It’s been a rough few months with moving and having the husband deploy amongst other things, but it’s coming.

2. Tell us about Maven. What was the inspiration? How long did it take to write it from inspiration to completion? Where do you hope to take the series and how long do you plan it to be?

Maven is the first book in my new Science Fiction Romance Endure series. There will be four total when the story arc completes, and I plan to have all of them out in the world before my birthday in March 2014. It’s an ambitious schedule, but I’m more than on-track to meet it. The majority of the story takes place in an underwater lab in the year 2050 (at the beginning of book 1), but by book 3 you get to see some of the outside world. It’s not a huge stretch from modern day, really, but enough so that it’s firmly planted in Science Fiction. Even with these futuristic leanings, it’s still a very accessible story, even for readers that are not typically fans of Science Fiction. I don’t generally like hard Sci-Fi, but I do like some of the elements, so I wanted to create something that others like me could really enjoy. As I’ve managed to sway at least two Paranormal or Urban Fantasy-only readers over to the dark side of SF, I’m counting this book as a success.

As for the inspiration, well… that’s a long story. Basically, as a teenager in the 90s I was a huge Jonathan Brandis fangirl. However, I didn’t discover him until one summer I happened to catch a rerun of the first season of a show called SeaQuest DSV, of which he was a cast member. In re-watching the show now, I inevitably wind up in fits of giggles over the “future tech” and somewhat cheesy scripts, but for a geek like me, especially back then, it filled a huge entertainment void in my world. I took my love of that show so far that 16-year-old me even tried my hand at writing my own scripts for it, neither of which I finished and neither of which will ever see the light of day because they are absolutely awful. But, there was some takeaway from it. The heroine of the Endure series, Dr. Lydia Ashley, was born from those precocious, immature scribblings, and she has stayed with me all these years.

So, that leads into another part of your question. If we’re talking how long it took from it to go from original inspiration to completed novel, the answer is seventeen years. However, I didn’t really pursue the story until January 2012. In six weeks I knocked out 68,000 words of Maven, but then I hit pause. The reason for this is probably because my Steampunk novel became a finalist in a contest, which it then won. My focus shifted to that book and its sequel and Lydia and Daniel got put on the shelf. Fast forward to January of this year, at which point I had 3 or 4 unfinished first drafts of things in various states. I decided it would be my goal to finish several of these up over the next year and went looking at each one to see which spoke to me the most. Honestly, I didn’t think Maven was the one that would make the cut, but the moment I opened the file I was immediately drawn back into that world. A week or so later, the book was complete, but I realized their story was not. I jumped right in to the second one, and then immediately the third right after that. At some point in book two, I figured out this was not going to be a trilogy. Four full novels would be required. It didn’t feel like a heavy weight to bear, however. This story is easy for me to bring to the page now. I would think so, after thinking about it for 17 years!

3. Maven isn’t your first novel length work. Tell us about your other writing endeavors.

My first finished novel was The Dreamer’s Thread. It’s a modern fantasy story and very much a first book. My writing style has changed and grown so much since I put it out as a podcast. People still enjoy it, however, so I leave it floating around the interwebs, waiting for unsuspecting folks to stumble across it.

My second book, which isn’t out anywhere yet, is the first of my Antigone’s Wrath series, a Steampunk adventure called Master of Myth. It’s the one that won first place in the Crested Butte Writers Conference annual contest, The Sandy, and, as a result, was requested in full by a senior editor at TOR/Forge (never did get an answer either way on it, but that’s neither here nor there). I’m a little over halfway done with the second in this series, Master of Machines. I was actually hoping to put the first one out this summer, but with all I’m doing with the Endure series, I’m no longer sure if I’ll have the time to devote to it that I think that story deserves. I know there are a lot of folks waiting to get their hands on it, so I hope they know I’m going to do my best here. I am only one person though. 🙂

4. Will you be podiocasting your book? If so will you read it, or will you have someone else do it?

At this time, I have no plans to podcast or audiobook the Endure series. Lydia and Daniel have unique voices to me, and I just don’t feel like I could do them justice if I were to narrate it myself. First and foremost, I’m concentrating on getting the written content out, so people can enjoy the entire story arc as fast as I can toss it out there. I know how hard it is to wait between books in a series, so this is an experiment in rapid-fire content for me. I’m curious to see how it plays out.

5. Where do you see yourself and your writing in ten years or so?

In ten years? Goodness. Right now I’m just trying to get through the week!

I don’t really know how to answer this. In an ideal world I’d say “on top of the NYT Bestseller’s List”, but, really, who wouldn’t want that? I suppose what I honestly want is for my writing to be enjoyed by as many people as possible, and hopefully make a little money for me. I like to keep my goals realistic and achievable. That way, I don’t get too bogged down in how I’m not making any progress towards success. There will always be another milestone ahead, and another brass ring to grab. Definitions of success change all the time and vary greatly from one person to the next. Today I might tell you I’d be happy to sell even 100 copies of Maven. Tomorrow, it might be landing a great review on a book blog I admire with a lot of followers. A year from now I could be completely burnt out on this whole thing and just want six hours of uninterrupted sleep. I have no idea. That’s probably a terrible answer. Feel free to chuckle.

I can totally relate Starla. I wish you lots of luck getting those six hours of sleep, catching up to the kiddos, publishing and finding a giddy appreciative audience to read all of your work.

*****

 

starlaStarla Huchton released her first novel, The Dreamer’s Thread, as a full cast podcast production beginning in August 2009. Her first foray went on to become a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. Since her debut, Starla’s voice has appeared in other podcasts including The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, The Drabblecast, and Erotica a la Carte. She is also a voice talent for Darkfire Productions, and narrates several of their projects, including The Emperor’s Edge series, This Path We Share, and others. Her writing has appeared in the Erotica a la Carte podcast, a short story for The Gearheart, and an episode of the Tales from the Archives podcast (the companion to Tee Morris and Philippa Balantine’s Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series), which garnered her a second finalist badge from the 2012 Parsec Awards. Her second novel, a Steampunk adventure entitled Master of Myth, was the first place winner in the Fantasy/Science Fiction category of The Sandy Writing Contest held annually by the Crested Butte Writers Conference. Maven is her third completed novel and the first in a planned series of four.

After completing her degree in Graphic Arts at Monterey Peninsula College, Starla opened up shop as a freelance graphic designer focusing on creating beautiful book covers for independent authors publishers. She currently lives in Virginia where she trains her three Minions and military husband.

You can find Starla here:

Twitter

Goodreads

Facebook

Designed by Starla

Upon the Wings of Greater Things

Awesome Sauce, Zombies, and Self Publishing Dos and Don’ts

Standard

I’m excited to welcome Matt (Awesome Sauce) Williams back to my site. For those of you who don’t know, he is an ubber productive author and blogger whose taste for topics knows no bounds. He recently published a zombie novel entitled Whiskey Delta which he first serialized on his blog. Today he’s here to tell us about Whiskey Delta and his most recent foray into self publishing. Pull up a chair, you just might learn something. Talk to us, Awesome Sauce.

1. For those who don’t know, give a brief run down of WD. What was the inspiration? When did you publish?

Whiskey Delta is basically my take on the zombie apocalypse. After reading and watching numerous franchises on the subject, mainly for the sake of research into what makes the genre work, I realized they all had something in common beyond undead creatures. Without exception, they all focused on the lives of your average citizens, or on a motley crew of people who were thrown together by necessity. Always these people were unprepared, untrained to deal with their circumstances, and had to improvise and struggle to stay alive. Frankly, I wanted to see a story where the people fighting the undead were trained, prepared, and knew how to deal with it, even if they still had a hell of time doing it.

Naturally, I was inspired by the recent upsurge in popularity that zombie franchises have seen in recent years. 28 Days Later was a big one, as wasThe Walking Dead, the miniseries and the comics. I also gained a lot of knowledge from the miniseries Generation Kill, which chronicled the 1st Recon Battalion’s exploits during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Between all that, I had a strong desire to write about zombie killers who know their trade, warts and all!

I began publishing it chapter for chapter in the spring of 2012, and finished it just shy of the summer. I took the plunge and decided to make it available to the public one year later, in April of 2013. While I still wanted to finish up work on its sequels and edit it before release, an unexpected shout out from Max Brooks kind of forced my hand and I uploaded it to Kindle without serious edits. The result was pretty rough, but still contained the story I had created without alteration or distortion.

2. WD is self-pubbed, which I think, aside from being brave, is the smart thing to do these days as it leaves control in the hands of the author. That said there are pros and cons. Tell us what they are in your experience.

Self-publishing means cutting out the middle man – or the gate-keeper, depending on how you view publishers – and being able to take your work directly to the public, which is a big plus. This is especially useful considering that traditional publishing is losing money on a daily basis due to the expansion in social media, direct publishing and print-on-demand houses. As a result, they are taking less chances on new authors. Lucky for us, the source of the problem also presents a solution.

On the downside, there’s the issue of being completely responsible for your own success. As an indie, you are responsible for all of your own editing, publicity and promotion. As such, you really have to commit to a long, hard slog and hold out while people realize you exist and see the merits in your work. You also have to contend with the perception that indie works are substandard, amateurish works that aren’t worth people’s time or money. Overcoming this is not easy, but hopefully with time, you’ll establish a readership and distinguish yourself from the herd.

3. You’ve discussed the good and not as good news about WD on your site since self-pubbing it. Tell us what you feel you’ve done right/wrong. What would you change if you could?

Well, one should always be happy that reviewers are finding nice things to say about your work. And every review has said that they liked the story, but were bothered by the quality of editing. Naturally, I feel like I was wrong to publish it so soon and worry that these reviews which call into question the quality of the work will affect long-term sales. So even if I do release a 2nd edition that’s error-free, the damage has been done.

However, I remember quite clearly why I put the book up when I did. I knew that a nod from Max Brooks might trigger interest in my book and send some people over to Google to look for it. And I knew that interest would quickly fade if people couldn’t find it. I have since come to the conclusion that the fact that it falls under the heading of zombie fiction is what is attracting readers, but at the time, I was convinced word of mouth promotion from an established author would make all the difference.

So really, barring some kind of prescient foresight on my part – which would have told me to just wait until it was editing before publishing, or drop the sequels and focus on the original – I can’t imagine having done things differently at this point. Live and learn, I guess!

4. What advice would you offer other self-pubbed authors?

Best advice I could give was the advice that was given to me over the years. I kept it in point form for the sake of simplicity:

  1. Do what you love, the rest will take care of itself with time.
  2. In the meantime, keep your day job. Until such time as you’re making enough money to support yourself, you’ll need that steady income!
  3. Don’t wait to be discovered. Use the tools that are at your disposal to promote yourself and make things happen.
  4. Do your homework. Before you can put your idea into proper written form, you need to do your homework and learn what works best for you.

5. Which of the characters in WD would you most want to befriend in real life? Why?

Tough question, but I think the Mage would be a very good person to meet in real life. He’s enigmatic, even to me, and I know for a fact that he’s the kind of person who’s had some very interesting experiences. Not only that, but he keeps you guessing. You’re never quite sure how much he knows, or whether or not he’s a good guy…

You can catch Matthew Williams here:

Stories by Williams

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

Google+

Interview: Nadine Ducca and Serving Time

Standard

 

SERVING TIME front coverI am happy to feature an interview here with Nadine Ducca. She has just released her debut novel, the first in a series, called Serving Time.  It sounds like a winner and I’ve added it to my “to read” list. You should too. You can also try your luck at winning a free copy of Serving Time over at Goodreads. I hope I win it. Too bad there’s no way to enter the contest more than once. 😉

Goodreads Giveaway!!!!

Other places you can find serving time on Kindle and in print: 

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.es

Everyone, please welcome Nadine, indie author extraordinaire! 

Nadine, thank you for joining me and giving me the chance to take part in your efforts to promote Serving Time. As an indie author I appreciate the need for exposure. It sounds as if Serving Time is going to be quite a story, one that I am definitely interested in reading.

1. Give us a brief explanation of what Serving Time is about.

When interplanetary pilot and smuggler Tristan Cross finally decides to do good for a change, the entire universe seems bent on stopping him.

Serving Time is a sci-fantasy pursuit across the solar system as Tristan and his brother Eneld try to give the cruel megacompany StarCorp the slip and start a new anonymous life on Earth. During their voyage, they’ll discover that someone—or something—else is after them…and there are much larger threats out there than StarCorp…

Here is the official book description:

Life and death have been industrialized. The Forge, the birthplace of every soul, is a rumbling factory owned by the goddess Time, managed by Lucifer, and powered by the labor of demons and imps. In this dystopian world, a renegade interplanetary pilot running from his past doesn’t stand a chance.

Handling Neptunian meth and dodging security cannons are all in a day’s work for Tristan Cross—not that he’s one to complain. Working for the smuggling company StarCorp is an improvement over what he used to do for a living.

However, when StarCorp gives Tristan a one-way ticket into the brainwashed—and disturbingly suicidal—Loyal League, he decides to run from the company and start a new life in the only safe haven he knows: Earth. With the help of his brother, Tristan embarks on the most hazardous journey of his life, one that will place him at Time’s mercy. Little does he know the demons running the universe are craving a feast, and his own soul is the next item on the menu.

2. What was the inspiration for Serving Time? How long did it take for Serving Time to germinate into a full fledged tellable tale?

Serving Time started out as a short about 15 years ago. When I was a teen, I spent much of my free time jotting down short stories. In fact, I have two full-length novels from when I was around 15 or 16, but I’m too embarrassed to even begin editing them!

The story that eventually evolved into Serving Time was about two brothers who made a living looting derelict space ships. In the short, they quickly ended up on the system’s “Most Wanted” list, and decided to flee to Earth, where they knew the space authorities wouldn’t be able to find them.

As a teen, I shelved the story when the brothers met Verin, a disconcerting man who offered to help them escape to Earth, but who seemed to have a very different agenda in mind. Several years went by, and the short story gathered some dust—but wasn’t forgotten.

When I finished university, I was terribly frustrated with myself. I had had enough of doing what I was supposed to do. It was time to start doing what I wanted to do! That was when I promised my characters (who were giving me forlorn looks as they stood by and waited) that I would tell their story.

The process of transforming the short into a 120,000 word novel took about three years, mainly because at first I had no idea what I was doing. I had to learn thecraft. In June of 2011, I enrolled in a creative writing course, and in November of the same year I joined Critique Circle, an online critique group.

I was finally doing what I had always wanted!

Then came the long hours of pounding at the keyboard. And the changes—oh, so many changes!

Over time, names changed. The main characters’ goals changed. The plot twisted itself into a knot. Some characters slipped into obscurity while others rose to the occasion and surprised me with their versatility. Creepy crawlies gradually popped up in several chapters. The plot evolved, and fantasy demanded a central role. I ended up welcoming it into my story, and what a great decision that was!

3. Of all of the characters on your book, which one would you most want to befriend. Why?

I have a soft spot for Seth, the childlike owner of the Robot Rehab in the space colony Ringwall. He spends his days stripping old robots and using the parts to create new…well… Let’s be frank here: they’re abominations. But don’t get me wrong! They’re very creative abominations! Every now and then, Seth adds a little something—shall we say…unusual?—to his robotic creations, a disquieting habit that earned him the title of “cannibal.”

He’s such a bright, chirpy and quirky character, and so absolutely oblivious to his innate creepiness, that you just have to love him! In my case, I’d love to spend a few days with him in the Robot Rehab and check out all the monsters he’s assembling. However, don’t let his youthful appearance and easygoing disposition fool you; there’s great potential buried deep in that mind of his.

I love him so much…you can’t imagine how guilty I feel about everything I put him through.

Here you can see an interview with Seth.

Here you can catch a sneak peek into Serving Time involving Seth!

4. I’ve placed Serving Time on my To Read list. It sounds really interesting especially since it seems so much happens in space. So, for that reason, I assume ST is a sci-fi tale. How did you handle the science in this story?

Indeed, Serving Time is a soft science fiction tale. Although I adore science fiction, I’m not a big fan of hard sci-fi (my eyes tend to glaze over whenever I encounter an entire paragraph of pure technical description). I prefer character-driven stories to technology-driven ones, and that’s exactly what Serving Time is.

For the sake of credibility, I did perform extensive research regarding Martian terraformation, travel distances across the solar system, and the like—but I also left a lot of room for fantasy.

As we travel through the chapters of Serving Time, we gradually notice that the science fiction world is infested with an entire menagerie of unusual creatures, ranging from the (self-proclaimed) demon master Robert Westbrook, to the packs of demons reminiscing of better times, to the goddess of Time herself, as she struggles to keep everything together and make amends for her past mistakes. Time is a vain creature, and just admitting that she made a mistake takes its toll on the entire universe.

One of my all-time favorite authors is Robert Sheckley, whose witty and humorous short stories have captivated me for years. The collection Untouched by Human Hands is absolutely marvelous, a five-star read. While commenting on his work, Sheckley himself once said: “I felt I wasn’t really writing science fiction.” Well, I can relate to that. While writing Serving Time, I sometimes also felt I wasn’t really writing science fiction; my characters just happened to live in a couple centuries in the future! With the universe a clerical mess, it’s clear that many of the elements in Serving Time are pure fantasy.

5. What do readers have to look forward to in the next installment of Serving Time?

I’m not going to reveal if Tristan and Eneld reach Earth safe and sound—you’ll have to read Serving Time to find out! However, I will tell you that our heroes are in for one heck of a journey, and things just seem to get more and more complicated as they go. The adventure will take an unexpected turn and continue in book two:Making Time.

As I mentioned in a recent blog hop, Making Time is a “sci-fi expedition into Hell.” Expect monsters. Dozens—no, hundreds—of them! Expect adventure and challenges, and maybe even a tad of romance.

Making Time is almost complete. The plot is planned from beginning to end; I just need to wrap up several of the final chapters.

Click here to see a WIP Blog Hop post about Making Time!

Thank you very much for the interview, Khaalidah! Before saying goodbye, I’d like to invite you all to my Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a free signed copy of Serving Time! Just follow the link to enter.

No, no. Thank you for joining me. It was a pleasure and an honor. Good luck Nadine!

Nadine

 

@NadineDucca

Author Facebook

Goodreads

Blog – News and writing tips