Novelist Grea Alexander (specializing in Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Horror, Supernatural Horror & Paranormal Fiction) seeks ardent fan boys and fan girls of all ages (that happen to be greater than 18) for a passionate but short-lived and very public verbal orgy AKA an Ask Me Anything session.

Grea Alexander
Jul 19, 2018

Ok. So I've received an email notification that "someone" has requested I do an AMA session.  Intrigued, perplexed and utterly paranoid, I crammed my maternity bag full of bear mace, thesauruses and Sweet & Spicy Bacon Burgers (sexy, sidelong glance right at you Whataburger), took enough epidural to birth a large sperm whale and pushed this one out into the world.

Please be forewarned: I have studied the latest in Ka-rah-TE techniques at the Sho-nuff school of Ninjago and graduated with a major in "Let me go mutha-fucka, let me go" and a minor in "Who's the master".  Keep your hands and feet inside your keyboard area at all times (lest you feel the burn of my mighty kung-keyboard…and bear mace….lots and lots of bear mace).

That being said, let's get this bastard started. 

Don’t want to participate? 

That’s fine.

I love nothing more than the sound of crickets in the morning.  In fact, I eat those chirpy little bastards for breakfast!

Queen of all that she surveys.

Grea.

www.GoodReads.com/GreaAlexander  It's where my reviews live.

www.Twitter.com/SeaMonkeyInk It's where I pelt people with lemons then run away.

www.librarything.com/author/alexandergrea It's where I once had a drunken 1 night stand & left behind some review babies (that I'm not entirely sure are mine).

www.SeaMonkeyInk.com It's my first & main online property. Ok, so it's a seedy faux physical address store front where I get my mail.

www.Amazon.com/grea-alexander/e/B00HV0M83Y   It’s where I take steamy slow-motion river baths with tall warrior women and sweaty, well-muscled male sex slaves.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/”GreaAlexander”   It’s where I ride around in heavy armor and charge at windmills with my quill…Don Quixote style.

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SeamonkeyInkLLC It’s where “Grea Smash!”

My books:

And a quick plug for August Farrow while I'm at it:


greagirl says:

This AMA will end Jul 21, 2018 9:05PM EDT


Grea Alexander says:

This AMA will end Jul 19, 2018 9:05PM EDT


Grea Alexander says:

This AMA will end Jul 21, 2018 9:05PM EDT

What is the Vibe of this AMA? What is AMA Vibe?

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Conversation (49)

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Which novelists and nonfiction writers working today do you most admire?
Jul 20, 7:29PM EDT1

Of the novelists working today, I like Stephen King (though he REALLY needs to stop with these new, hokey, movie adaptations of his books already) and Dean Koontz.  However, I don’t often read fiction.  (Ironic, I know).

My favorite non-fiction writer is Richard Zacks (especially An Underground Education), followed by James W. Loewen (Lies My Teacher Told Me).  I also enjoy Terry Dreary’s Horrible Histories series even though they are technically kiddie books.

Last edited @ Jul 21, 1:53PM EDT.
Jul 21, 1:52PM EDT0
Who creates your cover and are they strictly from your instruction or their inspiration?
Jul 20, 2:36PM EDT1

Me and CreateSpace’s Cover Creator/free images create my book covers. (laugh)   

I often design all of my covers for a series at once.  By the time I publish, the images are usually no longer available. (wink)

Three of my books have August Farrow photos on the cover.  Can you spot them? (Probably! (laugh))

Jul 21, 1:54PM EDT0
What’s your best and worst experience as a writer so far?
Jul 20, 8:54AM EDT1

My best experience as a writer thus far was finally publishing my 1st book.  I knew absolutely nothing about how to do so at the time, so finally seeing it done and on Amazon, etc., was awesome!  So awesome, in fact, that I did ZERO promotion afterwards for approximately 2 years. (laugh)

My worst experience thus far was finding my work (or what is allegedly my work) posted on illegal download sites.  Now I don’t know if it’s REALLY   my work posted or if my name and book titles are just being used as clickbait (as I’m not about to click on some random download link ... at least not on my own computer. (wink)) Still, it’s the principle of it that pisses me off.

Let’s face it, whether someone illegally pirated my work or not, they’re basically using my name, books and thus my reputation in what is likely just a scheme to infect people’s computers with viruses, ransomware and/or other spyware.  Personally, I wouldn’t risk it.  It’s not like my books are the most expensive ever with individual volumes mostly going for $2.99 except for the Rebellion books at $4.99 (because they are absolute monsters).   But hey, if you want to steal from me (whether it’s my work or not, you’re at least TRYING to steal from me), I feel you’ve earned whatever cyber terror you get.

I don’t post my work or allow it to be posted or downloaded anywhere for free except occasionally during promotions and even then, only on legitimate, well-known ebook sights such as Amazon or Smashwords.  If you see my work offered for free on xBookDownloader@freesite.com or the like, it’s on you whatever happens when you click that “Download now” link. 

 Consider yourself warned.

Last edited @ Jul 21, 1:38PM EDT.
Jul 21, 1:37PM EDT0
How do you see the future of contemporary fiction literature? Will contemporary fiction maintain its independence or intertwine with other literary genres?
Jul 20, 5:18AM EDT1

Contemporary fiction could be interpreted as meaning many things.  It could be interpreted as representative of realistic themes, situations or characterizations that could actually take place in the real world as it is today.  It could also be interpreted as simply occurring now or within a timeframe relative to now.  Some even consider anything occurring as far back as post World War II to be Contemporary.

Personally, my contemporary fiction has never been independent or fit into one genre and one genre alone in either sense.  Cabello, for instance, is a supernatural horror story, yes.  However, It’s also the story of a survivor of child abuse and how she transitions from victim to independence and ultimately to heroine.  It takes place in 2012.

Miael, another supernatural horror story, also has similarly contemporary constructs as Cabello (as the two series are intertwined) and includes the theme of racism.  It takes place primarily between the 1960s-1980s though there are elements that take place prior to WWII and thus would be considered historical rather than contemporary.

While it’s true there are some authors who are die hard contemporary…ist, I don’t believe that one should constrain one’s creativity by trying to make their work fit specifically into a pre-determined mold.

That being said (yes, there it is again), many works of contemporary fiction already have and will continue to intertwine with other literary genres just as many pieces of historical fiction do/have (Pride, Prejudice & Zombies, anyone?)

Jul 21, 6:53AM EDT0

Thank you to everyone who decided to participate.  I honestly expected MAYBE one question from the person who asked me to do this AMA.

I really am appreciative and overwhelmed by your support.

Cheers!

Grea.

Last edited @ Jul 19, 9:14PM EDT.
Jul 19, 8:58PM EDT0

How do you think writing helps with dark moments in the writer as well as reader's lives?

Jul 17, 12:34PM EDT1

Interesting question…that AMA Feed also suggested I ask myself. (laugh)

I think writing helps readers with dark moments in the same way as any other form of entertainment or distraction. (Giving Netflix a warm, fuzzy and slightly NC-17… lick).  It’s like a mini vacation for the mind, like chitlin soup for the old.

Depending upon the work, it can do as little as pass the time or take a reader away from the here and now or as much as inspire a reader to make change in their own lives, encourage the reader to try something new, or even provide comfort and companionship.

As for myself, I don’t find my writing takes me away from dark moments.  In fact, my writing probably puts me in more dark moments than I actually go through in real life (at this point in my life anyway). 

Maybe different writers function differently, but in order for me to create impactful emotional scenes, I personally have to feel what my character is feeling at the time.  I’m not capable of writing angst without feeling angst.  I can’t write happiness without feeling happiness or betrayal without feeling betrayal.  

I guess you can say I’m kind of a method writer in that my process is similar to what method actors go through.  The best draw upon prior feelings/experiences to bring a certain realness, a palpability to their work.  I’m pretty much the same way.

Last edited @ Jul 19, 7:50AM EDT.
Jul 18, 6:27AM EDT0
Have you had to get over any kind of write-something-more-literary type of thing?
Jul 17, 9:30AM EDT1

Fortunately, I have not.  One of the biggest advantages of being self-published is that I can write whatever I want, how ever I want, without being subjected to the expectations and compromises required when one publishes through a traditional publication house.

Strictly speaking; however, I’m not exactly a genre writer either.  I write and publish simply because I enjoy the creativity inherent in doing so.  The genres listed above in my intro are generalized genres.  My work actually fits into and spans A LOT of genres.  It  can even be said to genre jump as the series progresses (depending upon who you ask).

I tell the story I have it in me to tell, genre be damned. 

Last edited @ Jul 19, 7:51AM EDT.
Jul 17, 10:33AM EDT0
Do you take bad reviews or criticisms to heart or do you ignore them altogether?
Jul 15, 9:55PM EDT1

To quote Dirty Harry: Opinions are like assholes.  Everybody’s got one.

I’m not someone who chases down my reviews with bated breath or faithfully watches all of my pages to see what my latest review is.  Doing so can drive one mad, really and I personally choose to stay happily oblivious and questionably sane.

That being said, I do check in like maybe once a month to see what my ratings look like.  Even then it's primarily because it affects sales and a writer's ability to take advantage of the more effective and lucrative  marketing platforms/tools (as we live in a world where people are sometimes too afraid to try something new and different unless  other people say it’s ok…even if it only costs them $2.99). 

As I’ve said in another response, I write for myself; therefore, the opinion that matters the most to me is mine.  I don’t expect everyone to like my work. It’s very different from a lot of what is out there right now and a lot of the books topping the bestseller charts.  It’s very character driven, light on setting, full of a strange blend of modern and antiquated writing conventions and quite unusual in its plot and subject matter. 

In short, it could be classified as disruptive. 

Knowing that, I well expect some people, particularly those who are used to what the industry is now/has been or that worshipped the ground their English teacher walked upon, to take issue with what I write. 

That being said, I don’t take bad reviews to heart.  Every work that now exists and has ever existed, even from best-selling, revolutionary and critically acclaimed artists, has some 1 and 2 star reviews. (I consider 3 on a scale of 5 and above to be positive).  Don’t believe me?  Pick a big name and look up their online reviews.

This is nothing new or revolutionary that came along with the internet either. Early reviewers of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (including friends and fellow writers) said what amounted to they wouldn’t even wipe their arses with it.    Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination.  Carrie by Stephen King was rejected scores of times.  Imagine if they had internalized the negative and changed/given up completely on their vision?

If you spend all of your time internalizing and focusing on the negative and nay sayers, you will never find your feet and/or never grow as an artist.  Self-belief is a very powerful thing and very necessary for ultimate personal success.  If you’re someone who is easily swayed by the weight of public opinion and you’re someone who doesn’t have a thick skin, fields where your success or failure rests largely in the hands of the subjective opinion of many, may not be the field for you.

Personally, I’d rather spend my time, energy and emotion on my craft instead.

That being said, I could well end up being the William Hung of the writing world. (laugh)  Still, he made a pretty penny in the end and got the last laugh.  All the way to the she-bank.

Last edited @ Jul 19, 8:05AM EDT.
Jul 16, 11:30AM EDT0
When writing a new book, what kind of goals to you set for it so you'd consider it a success?
Jul 15, 2:43PM EDT1

In all honesty, I don’t actually consider whether a book will be successful or not when I write it (which could be a major part of my problem (laugh)).  I consider the story I want to tell, how I want to tell it and if I’ve succeeded in pleasing and/or impressing myself.  Therefore, I guess you could say the only extrinsic goals for success I set when writing a book are completing and publishing it. (laugh) 

It’s something I think comes down to your ultimate motivation in becoming a writer.   If being true to your artistic vision and telling the stories you want to tell how you want tell them is numero uno, completing your work and shoving it out into the world, kicking and screaming, can be considered a great success.  (And let’s face it, many aspiring writers never even get that far.)

If your ultimate motivation is making a living out of it on the other hand, depending on your situation, that can be any number of things.  It can be sales in dollars, downloads (both free and paid), followers, etc.   However, the old guard publishing industry standard for a book being a success is that it sells more than 15,000 copies.

Success, as defined by oneself versus success as defined on a commercial level, is a quandary that faces most creative people - as is the question of whether or not one is willing to compromise their art in order to become a commercial success.   There’s nothing wrong with making compromises in order to get where you want to be commercially, then later on, once you’ve accumulated the brand recognition/commercial success you desire, focusing on your own vision. 

Many successful artists such as (don’t stone me) Anne Rice, Prince, Gretchen Wilson, The Rolling Stones and Mark Twain went the commercial route first. Then, once they achieved a level of recognition, they opted to go it alone so that they could be true to their art (and keep more of the profit (wink)).  Even artists who stay with their publishers/labels often release special edition, online only and/or uncut versions of the same work. Why?  Because while big labels often come with big results, they also tend to come with artistic comprise.

For me, personally, my writing is just not an area of my life I feel desperate enough to compromise on.....at this time. While I would LOVE to write for a living, it’s more important for me to thineself be true. 

Last edited @ Jul 19, 8:14AM EDT.
Jul 16, 11:31AM EDT0
If someone hasn't really read anything in the horror genre before, which books would you recommend them to help them decide if it is for them or not?
Jul 14, 7:14AM EDT1

As a new horror reader, I would suggest starting with something mild such as Thinner by Richard Backman (AKA Stephen King) as opposed to something that will keep you up all night and give you nightmares. 

The mildest of my horror stories would probably be The Pack: Addison. I think.

And by mild, I mean mild for me, not by anyone else’s standards. (wink)

Jul 16, 11:31AM EDT0
Have you ever written something that you regreted later on and felt it was subpar?
Jul 11, 6:01AM EDT2

The only things I’ve ever written and regretted later on and/or felt were subpar are personal notes/letters to other people.  And that was mainly because these persons proved in the end not to be worth the associated time or effort involved. (laugh)

I wouldn’t say I’ve ever regretted anything I’ve written in the literary sphere or that I feel things are subpar.  I work hard to put out work I'm proud of.   I always do the best I am able with who I am and the resources available to me at that time.

That being said, I am by far my own harsest critic and my own biggest competitor.  I live my life and write always seeking to impress/outdo myself.  Even in competitive situations, I'm not constantly looking around for the other guy, I'm keeping an eye on what I'm doing.

Left up to me, I would constantly be picking at my books and revising here and there.  In fact, most of my books have undergone several editings after publication – not of content/context but of verbiage.

Words are my first and best love so I sometimes put an enormous amount of consideration into how something is written (which I feel is more important than always standing by modern or proper grammatical conventions and just as/more important than the idea or thoughts being conveyed).  It’s a matter of “O Romeo, O Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” vs. “Gee, I wonder where Romeo’s at?”  To me the flow, feel and impact of the words I write are paramount.

Of course both having to force myself to leave a book alone and my constant tweeking leads to some errors here and there (as I’m too poor to afford a good proofreader (sad face)).

All of that being said (and yes I love saying, “that being said”), I do have some works I personally like more than others, but not to the point of shame or regret. It’s more akin to a parent having favorite children than a dislike or dissatisfaction.   All of my series are very different and I like/love very different things about them.

Rebellion is this snarky, angsty, sometimes humourous, sex-riddled, dramatic saga set in Qing Dynasty China.  It is full of twists, turns, secrets and betrayal and centered on a rebel and a princess – both of whom are avid liars and neither of which is whom they seem.

Amarna is a pretty serious, dramatic, 95% historically accurate mistress-piece centering on the events surrounding the death of King Tutankhamun (King Tut) and the bizarre but very real historical free for all that occurred in the aftermath - not only in Egypt but in Hattusa (modern day Turkey).

Cabello is a very campy supernatural, revenge gone south horror story set in a small, modern Texas town and centered around an abused teen and her beloved feline friend.

The Pack is my take on a werewolf story centered around the efforts to destroy one of the most powerful werewolf bloodlines in existence and the sadistic, on again/off again relationship between the alpha male and female of the line.  It spans from Viking times to post Civil War America (or it will (wink)).

Then you have Miael which is a supernatural horror/suspense story that spans from Victorian times to the mid-1980s and tells the story of Miael, who may or may not be the worst enemy of a Seraph who is damned to be reborn over and over again in repentance of an ancient sin.

Last edited @ Jul 19, 8:41AM EDT.
Jul 11, 8:36AM EDT0
From your intro in this AMA, you seem to have a great sense of humor. How do you incorporate that into your writing?
Jul 11, 3:55AM EDT2

In real life, people that know me think I’m a hoot and a half.  Sometimes even a hoot and a holler.

As for my writings, I think I’m less overt with my sense of humor (except for in the Rebellion books).  Still, most of my stories do have peekings of my twisted, dark humor and sense of irony.

Why not use my humor more overtly?  I think it has to do with subject matter.  I don’t want to go all Bollywood and insert a happy comedy dance routine into a very serious subject/moment…..or do I? (wink)

Injecting my personality into my books can sometimes backfire.  For example, I created a funny introduction to Amarna I: Ida just because I knew some people would have a conniption because it’s a novella.  As a result, I DID have some minor backlash from a few people as for some odd reason they expected a 95% historically accurate book about a dead boy king and his legacy to be a comedy afterwards. (?!)

And take my AMA post.  While fairly amusing, it's completely random if you think about it.  My intro alludes to a verbal orgy, the beginning talks about food, bear mace and birth and the end pays homage to the cult classic The Last Dragon then cricket cuisine.

Now imagine a book like that. (laugh)

Last edited @ Jul 12, 8:23AM EDT.
Jul 11, 8:27AM EDT0
When writing paranormal fiction, what kind of research do you usually do? Do you actually believe in the paranormal?
Jul 10, 10:17PM EDT1

It really depends on the work.  For instance, with Miael I really had to do a lot of research on angelic lore and hierarchy when deciding what kind of angelic form Zazi (and others in the final volume) would have.  I also had to do research on World War II to get Simone’s abscondment just right as the places, movements and even the camp that Simone ends up at were actual real places. 

(Ok, so I didn’t HAVE to.  I wanted to.)

Fiction or not, I really like to be as accurate as possible when I mention things that exist or even were believed to have existed in the real world, such as Phoenix…sis…sis…sis.   Whether I take a bit of creative license from there is quite another thing entire; however, I like to start from a concrete place.

I do believe that so-called cryptids may have and may continue to exist.   Looking at it logically, people are constantly discovering new (and long believed to have been extinct) species of flora and fauna.  In addition, much of this lore has existed all over the world and at times in history when things like international communication/travel and the interweb did not exist or if it did, on a very, very small scale. Is it possible that man, in his imagination, took things that actually existed, made them larger than life and applied his own thoughts, fears and hopes to them?  Absolutely.

Still, I believe that the only thing man 100% knows for sure on a concrete, scientific level is that whatever man as a species thinks he knows today, he will sooner or later realize he was mistaken about tomorrow. 

As for belief in the paranormal….

Whether they admit it or not, most people do believe on some level (or want to believe) in the supernatural. Hell, if you believe in God and all that goes with it, like it or not, you are in essence believing in the paranormal.  The bible and other holy scriptures are full of stories about psychic dreams, divine messages, waking visions, supernatural manifestations, etc, etc.

As for me, I personally will admit that I 1000% believe in God and the paranormal – more from my personal life experiences than anything else.   

Now do I believe in EVERYTHING?  No. 

While I do believe in the supernatural, I don’t believe everything and everyone.  I don’t look at a white ball and say, “Oh my gawd!  A spirit orb!”  I automatically go to logical explanations.  However, when those things come along that are fairly black and white or lack any plausible explanation, I give them the benefit of the doubt as being something beyond the norm.

Last edited @ Jul 12, 8:27AM EDT.
Jul 11, 8:25AM EDT0
What is the most scalding criticism you've ever gotten? How did it make you feel?
Jul 10, 6:36PM EDT1

(laughing)  You’re trying to get me in trouble with this one aren’t you, you tricky nicky you?

In all honesty, the only people who have any real power to scald me with their criticism are people I love and even then, more often than not, it has little to no lasting effect on me.  I’m perfectly fine with agreeing to disagree and have no need in my life for people who agree with me all the time (though I'm usually right) and have no opinions, ambitions, thoughts or desires of their own/backbone.  If everyone looked the same, thought the same, felt the same, expressed the same, this world would be boring as fuuu...druckers.

As for criticism of my writing, I will just say that whether I agree with a criticism or not, for the most part, I just let scalding criticisms roll off my back.   Not everyone likes the same things I do and I know my writing style, etc. is not for everyone.  I have no problem with people not liking my work...as long as they pay me first for the privilege. (wink) 

The way I see my reviews (and life in general actually) is that no matter what you do or say, someone somewhere will not like it or you. It’s not possible to make everybody happy (even for cute, cuddly little panda bears) and I see no use expending valuable time and energy in trying to make them so. As long as I’m happy with my work I’ve at least succeeded 100% in pleasing at least one person. I don’t worry about the rest of it really.

HOWEVER, there are two types of criticisms that do sometimes get under my skin: inaccurate criticisms and criticisms that are driven by factors other than the work itself.

For instance, I found this one review group.  I thought, ok, I’ll submit my book for review.  As it turned out, this group was actually just a bunch of authors reviewing other authors.  In fact, I was even advised that if I didn’t have a good review for the work, not to post it.  In other words, an “honest” review only if it’s a positive review. (laugh)

I did not feel comfortable with this situation at all or with giving one work that was barely readable a good review.    I do not now nor have I ever given anyone a positive review or recommended something that I did not or do not genuinely use/enjoy.

Needless to say, I did NOT write the review.  Instead I told the author what my feelings were about their work and why, but I put it in a nice and helpful way.  Another author I gave a 3 star review. Next thing I know, I suddenly start getting bad reviews from people who are also authors that I definitely feel were a result of me not “playing ball”.

Now THAT pissed me off. 

I even had one author have the audacity to give me a negative review on a whole series when he “read” only the 1st book.  Yes, he literally sought out the compilation to give me a negative review on as well as the individual book.  Looking at this person’s reviews, he had good reviews on his work….only from other authors who were probably involved in the above or similar schemes.

What did I do about it?  Privately, I vented to my #1 fan and supporter in outrage and then in my typical Mercutio-like fashion, made a mockery of the situation/author. 

Publicly, I did nothing.  Dirt done in the dark always, eventually, comes to light.

At the end of the day, I’m still me and he’s still him.  I think that’s punishment enough.

For him, wise acres! (wink)

Last edited @ Jul 19, 8:50AM EDT.
Jul 10, 10:34PM EDT0
Being a writer of so many different genres, do you have a favorite? What is it and why that particular one?
Jul 10, 4:40PM EDT1

My favorite genre is historical fiction (whatever else I end up throwing into the story).   I find history fascinating – especially the patterns that repeat time and time again.  Even in stories like Miael, I throw real, historical tidbits into them.  If I can make just one person go to the interweb or to a library and look up more information about a historical event or fact I threw out there, I feel that I’ve done my little, itty, bity part in helping others discover the magic of history.

I also enjoy campy horror.  Freddy Kreuger is one of my favorite horror movie villains of all time. 

However, I think it’s important that I clarify that I don’t actually write towards any specific genre.  I just have a story I want to tell and whatever genre it ends up in or passing through, it does. Quite frankly, I think this gives some of my readers a headache.  I’ll have someone starting a series thinking it’s A but it turns out being more B or C or B/C/D/A.

Hell, half the time I have no bleedin’ idea of what genre my story is.  I just kind of spin the dart board of genre, close my eyes and launch my pen at the damn thing with all the savage glory and strength of a shot putter.  What sticks sticks. (laugh)

In conclusion: I don’t choose the genre, the genre chooses me. 

Last edited @ Jul 19, 8:55AM EDT.
Jul 10, 10:30PM EDT0
What is a writing genre you'll never go near and why?
Jul 10, 2:02PM EDT1

That’s a hard one.  I don’t think I consider any genre out of bounds.   I tell the story I want to tell regardless of what genre crevasse it happens to get itself wedged into.  According to the listing of Amazon categories, my books actually fall into several hundred….each. (laugh)

If I HAD to choose one (what with you having duct taped me to my chair and threatening to prop my eyelids open with toothpicks until I comply) I would choose nonfiction, particularly autobiography. 

Though people who know bits and pieces of my life have for years told me I should write one, the story of my life is one I will never tell.  And by never I mean I reserve the full right and obligation to possibly change my mind in the foreseeable future.

If I’ve learned nothing else from James Bond movie titles, it’s Never Say Never….that and that I may or may not have the option to Die Another Day.

Last edited @ Jul 19, 8:56AM EDT.
Jul 10, 10:29PM EDT0
What are your thoughts on writing retreats for aspiring authors? What exactly goes on there and do they actually work and can help a writer with his career?
Jul 10, 12:53PM EDT1

I think I would LOVE to go on a writing retreat (as in I have been given free, solitary reign over a beautiful, rambling and possibly haunted estate where I only wear billowy, white linen and walk through the Orinocco Flow wilderness barefoot while herds of wild unicorns gallop through the shallow creek in slow motion).  Birds singing along with me while I whistle are optional.

As for OTHERS, absolutely not!  I don’t want them at my magical retreat.  Why else do you think I choose to leave the drawbridge drawn?!

Oh, you mean as in a peaceful, learning place for writers to hone and develop their skills?  (Hiding my drawbridge remote behind my back and visibly relaxing).

Off of the top of my head, I'd say cranium orgies.  Lots and lots of orgies.

Writer’s retreats, in a nutshell, are locations where writers are free (usually after paying a hefty fee) to hone/practice their craft while in the presence of other writers.  Such retreats may or may not be accompanied by writing seminars/lectures on everything from syntax to choosing subject matter etc.  Some include group assignments/practice drills and some let the writer work on their own thing which they share with the group at some point for critique/pointers.

I think while they can have some value for some, they tend to be quite pricy from what I’ve seen and I don’t think they teach you much of anything you can’t learn on your own by scouring the internet or watching Youtube (cause Youtube is my friend).  Hell, even Smashwords and Amazon frequently send me completely unsolicited but free hints, tips, guides etc. and offers to attend online writing seminars (mini retreats I can attend from my home) for free. 

There are also numerous writer’s groups that offer the same for free – either online or in real life.  Just do a google search of “writer’s groups in (insert your location here)”.  If you need solitude, take a vacation and instead of swimming with the manatee or whoring it up with a complete drunken stranger and hoping you don’t end up on YouPorn, write.

As a matter of preference, if I did choose some kind of stay-away educational writing experience, I would personally apply for a writing residency instead.  Writing residencies provide much the same as the retreats do except you don’t pay anything (aside from maybe an application fee and/or a refundable deposit).

As Jed Clampett used to say (in my imagination) before he moved to Beverly (Hills that is): Why buy a possum at Possum Mart when you can walk right down the highway and get a road-kilt possum for free?

I’m a life-long learner so for the most part, I don’t think learning more about anything, including your craft, is a bad thing or can hurt.  However, for me personally, the thing that has most helped me grow as a writer is actually writing.  Practice may not necessarily make perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. 

Writing is a process and not something I think one can learn to perfect in a weekend or even a month (though one can learn rudimentary basics in that time).  Finding your voice, finding your style, writing YOUR story is something you have to figure out on your own.  At the end of the day, the writers who end up leaving a real mark on the industry and even on history have one thing in common – originality.   Be it their writing style, their ideas, their composition, their flow, there is some level of uniqueness about what they do that sooner or later (sometimes unfortunately MUCH, much later as in after their death) makes them legend. Originality is something you can’t learn.

As for a magic bullet to career success, anyone’s guess is as good as mine (probably better).  It’s being at the right place at the right time with the right work, the right connections and the right amount of luck.  If you’re looking to be a commercial writer and are more interested in getting your foot into the big door or the financial reward more than artistic expression, there are a myriad of resources on the net that will lead you step by step on the path to figuring out what is popular now/what will likely be popular in the near future and how to capitalize on it.

Last edited @ Jul 19, 8:59AM EDT.
Jul 10, 10:28PM EDT0
As a writer, how do you make your characters relatable to the reader?
Jul 10, 10:59AM EDT2

In all honesty, I really don’t consider if people can relate to my characters or not.  Maybe that's my problem. (laugh)

I personally prefer messy, flawed but strangely charasmatic characters that screw up and make crap decision just as much as they triumph.   I like angelic devils or devlishish angels more than perfect, one-dimensional paragons of virtue and light - both in literature and in life.

I know A LOT of writers (i.e. successful ones) take the time and effort to do a lot of research into topics, demographics, marketability and such prior to writing their books.  I’m not that author.  I have a story I want to tell and however people take it, they take it.

Maybe I’m just lazy as fuu---da-ge, but I prefer the supreme being method of characterizations. I create my characters, place them in a situation then kick back and relax while hilarity and high jinx ensue.

Last edited @ Jul 12, 8:52AM EDT.
Jul 10, 10:25PM EDT0
How often do you write everyday? Do you have rituals or certain habits you do to get yourself in the right headspace for writing?
Jul 10, 10:59AM EDT1

I don't write everyday, per se.

If I wrote everyday, I’d have a hundred books published by now.  (No really.  I took all of about a week or so, 8-10 or more hours a day, to write The Pack: Addison.)

I am a terrible procrastinator and even sometimes have a hard time getting myself to buckle down and get to it.   I find many things fascinating and sometimes my interest in exploring one thing can interfere with my ability to focus on another.  I suffer from too much to do/see and not enough time to do and see it in syndrome…that and Slants Disease (my terrible inability to write in a straight line on unlined paper).

I live by a five-year philosophy which drives me in maximizing every moment of my life that I can.  Unfortunately, a side effect is that philosophy is that sometimes my time can be at a major premium. 

What is my five year philosophy?  Well, it starts with the following question:  If God (or whatever you believe in) came down to you and said you only have five more years to live, are you living the life or working towards living the life/doing the things you really want to do/accomplish in life?  With that philosophy in mind, I make a five year plan of where I want to be, what I want to do, where I want to travel, what I want to accomplish within this imaginary five year limit as well as what steps I need to take to get there (and can realistically pull off).   Then, most importantly of all, I actually follow through with my plan.  Now, I still plan for/save for the far future as well (as in some goals can't be fully realized in that period of time); however, I can tell you that this philosophy is part of what made me publish my 1st book, travel to the many places I've been and complete my BS in Business, Alternative Certification in Education, Teaching License and MBA (and now on my way to my doctorate).

As for my writing, I'm basically a feast or famine writer.  I either am completely consumed and write like a mad woman every possible waking moment or I don’t write at all.

Usually what triggers me to write is the noise in my head.  My brain is in a constant state of creation.  If I let it all build up too much inside of me, I start losing the ability to focus on anything else, fall into a state of unrelenting restlessness or even lose the ability to sleep until I let it out.

I have no rituals at all really except that I write everything down.  If I have an interesting dream or an interesting thought, etc., I write it down.  I have a ton of scraps of paper and notes everywhere in my home, in my bag, in my cell.  You never know what those ideas could grow into.

Every so often, I collect them all, type them out and save them.  Eventually they end up growing into either their own story or as a part of something I’m already working on.

Last edited @ Jul 19, 9:08AM EDT.
Jul 10, 10:24PM EDT0
Do you have any unpublished work? What do you plan to do with it?
Jul 10, 10:59AM EDT1

I have a lot of unpublished work in various states of completion.   I have the final Miael, Sedition, Books 2 & 3 of Cabello, Books 2 & 3 of The Pack and a bunch of other pieces of other things.

Hopefully, I will finish them at some point and publish them…that or make a stunning paper mache’ quiche out of them.

Last edited @ Jul 11, 8:43AM EDT.
Jul 10, 10:23PM EDT0
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Marisa Donnelly