Writer’s Awakening- Mandy Melanson

Moonlake: Hi, I’m Moonlake Ku and welcome to the Writer’s Awakenings interviews. Today, we have Mandy Melanson with us. Firstly, tell us about yourself and your journey into writing, Mandy.

Mandy: First off, I’m a single mom to 3 amazing kids. I think I’ve always been a writer. I can remember making up stories in my head even as a small child. I was seven-years-old when I put my first story on paper, though. It was fully illustrated in crayon on construction paper that was tied together with rainbow colored yarn. It was horrible, but it was the start.

Moonlake: Despite you claiming that it was horrible, I can see that you have a fond memory for this first story of yours *wink*. I guess like many writers I interviewed before, real life probably came in between you and writing since this point. So when is it that you first decided to pursue writing in a serious way and what are the circumstances?

Mandy: I’m pursuing my state teaching certification in Language Arts and it was in one of my classes that my instructor discussed my writing with me privately and said that I had a story to share with the world and she believed this was my calling.

Moonlake: Did you manage to capitalise on some of your writing in this class later on, you know, turn into short stories or novels?

Mandy: Yes, in a way. During that class I wrote pieces that eventually morphed into backstory for some of the characters in my novels. So it isn’t directly in the story but it’s definitely related to it.

Moonlake: That’s still a good use for them, after all the actual story is only 10% what we writers have to work out in our head about the various elements underlying the story. So what happened after you got this encouragement from the instructor?

Mandy: After finishing her class I decided to seek out writing groups. I joined Elements of Genre Writing and found some of my dearest friends in this business through that group. I later started Rhetoric Askew with some of those friends. I’ve been encouraged by them and I hope that the sentiment is returned.

Moonlake: Ah, finding like-minded peers is very important as I learnt first hand. So how do you think founding Rhetoric Askew, an anthology series, has helped you as a writer?

Mandy: It has helped tremendously because I’ve learned how to look at a piece from an editor and publisher perspective. Being able to look at my work objectively has helped me edit and polish my stories instead of being over protective of them, I’ve learned how to improve them.

Moonlake: Cool, you can never use less objectivity when it comes to editing. Looking back, how would you have done things differently or would you have done things differently?

Mandy: At this point, I think the only thing I would do different is start pursuing writing as a career sooner.

Moonlake: I hear this said a lot in prior interviews and on some days I felt like this too. *smile* So overall, how far do you think you have progressed from your initial point?

Mandy: I think writing is a constant learning process. Of course, I’ve learned and grown since beginning with construction paper and crayon but you never reach a point in writing that you feel like you have your feet solid on the ground. That’s the beauty of the process. It’s fluid and constantly changing. I find that even with my current project which will be my debut novel, A Mother’s Instinct, that I’m learning things about writing and the business as I go. I hope I always continue to learn and never reach a point that I think I have no where else to go, that would just be depressing.

Moonlake: Well said, I agree completely. Now, do you want to tease us a little on your debut novel or is it too early yet?

Mandy: Oh, my debut novel is something I’m very excited about. It’s called A Mother’s Instinct. I can’t give too much away, but I can tell you that it’s a fine line between murder and justice. My character, Detective Ryan Woodward, learns that the hard way when a vigilante comes to town.

Moonlake: Okay, what about social media? Do you want us to start following you now? If so, please share the details with us.

Mandy: Not for myself personally but please join us at Rhetoric Askew on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/551246565025153/

And http://www.rhetoricaskew.com

Writer’s Awakening- Murray Taylor

Moonlake: Hi, I’m Moonlake Ku and welcome to the Writer’s Awakenings interviews. Today, we have author Murray Taylor with us. Firstly, tell us about yourself and your journey into writing, Murray.

Murray: Well I’m a student studying education and English from a rural-suburban background. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, from silly stories as a kid to screenplays or video game role-plays in high-school. I guess what made me take up more serious writing was a difficult change in my life that I needed a distraction from. What started as a revision of an old novel idea has turned into a serious project.

Moonlake: Well, you pre-empted the questions that leads us into the next part of the interview, which is about when you first took up writing as a serious pursuit and the circumstances associated with it. So what’s this old novel idea about and what about it drew you so much that you took it up again?

Murray: I have always loved world building and the fantasy genre and the novel idea started simply as an idea for a city. More specifically, a city in Minecraft. It was divided into three by a sibling rivalry. That idea turned into stories of life in this city, the three siblings grew personalities, adopted philosophies etc. When I stopped playing Minecraft, these characters stuck with me. I started outlining a novel and wrote inconsistently for years on it.

Moonlake: Ah, world building games like Minecraft are a great inspiration. So what happened next?

Murray: I had my life planned out for the next four-five years and things were smooth when a lot of ruptures around relationships, family, friends and mental health threw me off. I grew nostalgic, looking to the past for comfort. Even after so many years, I still envisioned these characters talking to each other, pursuing their goals, overcoming adversity so while I struggled to rebuild my life, I started rebuilding theirs. I joined writing groups to learn to become a better writer and friends who read the first few chapters thought I was on to something good, so I kept at it.

My goal is to publish, whether it is successful or not. I want to know I accomplished my four year dream.

Moonlake: That sounds very positive and publishing is a dream worth pursuing. Now how far along are you now in terms of this novel?

Murray: So as it stands I am aiming for between 60-80 chapters and am sitting on 21. Though, I’m considering releasing the story in three parts as ebooks and then combining them for a final edition for both ebooks and print. Each block of around 20 chapters are self-contained and can be considered a story on their own, and sit at around 90k words so I believe this method will allow readers to sink into the world early, give me a better understanding of the industry before printing a novel and be a low-cost low-risk investment to an unknown author.

Though truth be told, I have not worked on the story for a couple of weeks nor plan to until late August. I have started writing short stories for submission, the first called ‘Admissions of an Addict’ which I’m entering in a local writing competition and one called ‘Cruel Odds’ for an anthology series. As it stands the first has been sent to an editor and the second is preparing for its first beta-reading phase.

Moonlake: Well, it’s okay to do what I call some side projects while keeping the long-term goal in mind. So looking back, would you have done things differently along your writer’s journey and if so, what?

Murray: I think the two major things I would have changed are consistency and scale of project.

When I say I have worked on it for four years, out of those four years I perhaps only put between 6-12 months worth of work into it. Although I don’t believe in the literal interpretation of ‘write X words a day’ I feel developing a habit rather than burning myself out in bursts would have kept me writing.

The second was the scale of the project. At the time I was a nineteen year old with little writing experience wanting to self-publish a best-selling novel. It was also more than writing, it was designing maps, forms of government, covers etc. I wish I just focused on learning how to write good stories rather than how to be a one-man creative machine.

Moonlake: Well, as it happens, I do subscribe to this “write X words a day” mantra, it’s about consistency of effort and self-discipline for me. But I also give myself leeways, like if I don’t meet the set daily goal, then I would put down the reason why in the notes column on the document where I track my daily progress. As for scale of the project, I think you gotta follow your heart. For me, my one true love will always be LOTR and my mind naturally conceives of stories that take on a series form. I think I will just roll with that. But I get what you mean, it’s perhaps a bit ambitious for a 19 year old. But well, I’m thinking that you learnt a lot from such experiences of poring over the meta aspects of a world.

Murray: I agree with what the ‘X words’ intention is, but I don’t take it literally. Like if I spent a day editing a 2500 word story I may have only physically typed 200ish words but I have put conscious effort into the work. If I spend a day pulling all the dialogue and role-playing a scene with a friend to see if the dialogue is convincing and interesting, I’d consider that conscious effort into the story without typing a word

Moonlake: Yeah, that’s what I mean with this notes column, it’s a means of to track down why you haven’t met your daily wordcount goals so it’s not just a numbers game, the goals. You set a wordcount goal to motivate yourself but you also recognise that progress on a story isn’t just about the word count. But think we detracted a bit off the theme for this interview. Overall, how far do you think you have progressed from your initial point, as a writer?

Murray: When I started I had a rough 10 chapter novel which I constantly kept editing without further progress being made. It has been a few months since I have taken writing seriously and that story is now 21 chapters long, a lot tighter, and I have 2 short stories nearing completion. I feel the progress I have made is promising and everything is happening so fast. Though it is more than just the physical work, I have made many great productive friendships through writing and I feel really connected to the evolving community. I feel I have grown more as a writer in these months than I have for years and I find my work constantly improving. I constantly reread my old work and think ‘Ugh that sentence is terrible, what was I thinking?’ and although it can be disheartening, it shows that I am learning more and more what good writing is. That progress is hard to measure.

Moonlake: I agree on the hard to measure bit but you’ve made an adept summary. Well, all the best to the your current works. Now, if we want to follow you, how can we do that?

Murray: My website mmataylor.com has links to my social media accounts and blog. I am most active on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Moonlake: Okay, thank you. That concludes our interview for today and I thank you for your time.

Murray: *thumb up*

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 23 July 2017

Mon 17/07/2017

  1. Revised 2 major plotlines reported as problematic by pre-alphas (equivalent to 2 achievements)
  2. Determined the overall shape of revision required up to chap 30

Tue 18/07/2017

  1. Resolved 1 loose plot-point in iteration 1
  2. Worked through to the end of book 1 and tagged down chapters for expansion/revision after collapsing of scenes

Wed 19/07/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 14 (partially written)

Thu 20/07/2017

  1. Fleshed out scene 1, chap 14 fully
  2. Chap 14 done

Fri 21/07/2017

  1. Rounded out a plot point on male MC’s plot arc on motivation/goal
  2. Worked out very rough gist of scene 1, chap 20

Sat 22/07/2017

  1. Scene 2, chap 37 done
  2. Scene 1, chap 20
  3. Scene 2, chap 20 revised based on scene 1 event sequence

Sun 23/07/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 39
  2. Rough gist of scene 2, chap 39 done
  3. 13 grids filled for Ma Fei

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends. Finish 2nd iteration of outline.

Week Tally: 1.8 achievement on average on weekdays and 3 on weekends

Sum story progress: Finished 2nd iteration on book 1 outline as set in goal

Against last week:  Done a bit more on weekends but otherwise on par

Writer’s Awakening- Richard Fisher

Moonlake: Hi, I’m Moonlake Ku and welcome to the 5th episode of Writer’s Awakenings. Today, we have author Richard Fisher with us. Firstly, tell us about yourself and your journey into writing, Richard.

Richard: Hi! Thank you so much for inviting me!

Moonlake: My pleasure actually since I get to hear stories about how authors start.

Richard: My journey actually began long before I began the actual process of writing, only I was unaware of it. My imagination has always gotten me into various degrees of trouble, especially when I was in elementary school.

My mind wandered and meandered so much! So, I jumped into reading to keep it busy and I was hooked on the written word! It began with C.S. Lewis actually and by the 6th or 7th grade I was reading James Clavell and his Shogun novels.

Moonlake: Ah, I think I’ve heard the same before from other authors, very natural for a child whose mind is creative in a completely unhindered way. And yes, we all tend to be book lovers!

Richard: I believed everyone’s imaginations were just as active. I just hadn’t found the outlet yet.

I then jumped to wanting to pursue illustration, but sadly my skills in artistry were lacking…. and that was one of those hidden blessings. Thankfully!

Moonlake: Well, we can’t all be jacks of all trades. I also can’t draw.

Richard: Nope, I’m horrible at guitar, too!

Moonlake: Ditto on music. So when was it that you first decided to pursue writing in a serious way and what was the circumstances associated with it?

Richard: Actually I wanted to give it a try about 25 years ago, but was discouraged from it by my then girlfriend, who wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer. So I just headed back to school for a little while, and learned that I didn’t want to chase either of those and quit and began “kind of” learning how to properly outline a book.

Moonlake: Learning through what means?

Richard: Back in those days it was via the libraries. Just read what I could find, but there really wasn’t much out there on the topic of writing, so I kind of gave up.

Moonlake: Oh, I see, reading self-helps.

Richard: I then discovered Writers’ Digest! I loooooove that magazine!

Moonlake: Ah, the turning point. Where to next?

Richard: Then life got in the way. The only thing I wrote seriously was a short story on a dare in 2000. I had an individual who worked for me tell me that I couldn’t, so I wrote a story called “The Huntress” for her.

I actually have that one on my blog as a reminder for me.

It was the only story I wrote until recently, since I was busy working and couldn’t figure out how to work in a social life, job and everything else life throws at us.

Moonlake: A bet as a start, that’s interesting, but any start is a good start. So the ball started rolling from that initial short story?

Richard: Not really. I put off writing for keeping up with life, actually. Then came Feb 2016. I got laid off from the oil and gas industry, where I was working and decided that it was the perfect time to write my Great American Novel.

Moonlake: Ah, a stressful happening financial-wise and if you are like me, mentally. But an opportune development for your writing.

Richard: Absolutely!

Moonlake: So what prompted the focus back into writing?

Richard: Kind of a weird path. I began writing “Reapers of Souls & Magic” in April of last year and completed it this past May.

Moonlake: You’re very quick. This novel went very smoothly for you? What is it about?

Richard: I love epic fantasy! This story explores the premise of “fallen” dieties and how they become fallen. I gave the gods a desire, they gave my creationist race a purpose, and they totally messed everything up! LOL

Moonlake: So you think it’s basically the story coinciding with your own reading interests that made it a smooth sailing?

Richard: Oh absolutely! If you’re an avid reader, I’m sure you will see hints of the authors that impacted me!

I think CS Lewis, Michael Moorcock, L. Ron Hubbard, R.A. Salvatore as well as Asminov, Bradbury, Clavell and Lovecraft.

Moonlake: Well, I love epic fantasy myself and LOTR. But I must admit that deities is a bit of a trope that I don’t enjoy in fantasy series. Basically sick of every epic struggle being ultimately a divine struggle and mortals were the pawns in this divine game. I mean, can’t humans get into trouble fighting each other without divine interference?

Richard: The Gods here just started the ball rolling…and it follows the Greek Myths in that those in my realm give them power over the other Gods. But they are not heavily involved.

Moonlake: Okay, I like that type of divine involvement in fantasy series.

Richard: The book is mostly about the choices, good and bad, and why we make them, or those that circumstances force us to make. Only in a fantasy world where they have more impact and repercussion.

Moonlake: Yep, love books that explore such a theme, that’s one of the reasons why I love fantasy.

Richard: I wanted to explore the “human condition” through “non-humans”.

Moonlake: Ah, so that’s your own new twist on fantasy, is it?

Richard: Kind of. I also use it to explore the “what ifs” of science….multiverses as well.

Moonlake: Okay, I see. So this work also has part sci-fi elements?

Richard: There is a VERY TINY amount of sci-fi so I can introduce the characters from our world into theirs. But the impact travels throughout ALL of the multiverses.

The “butterfly effect” throughout existence! LOL

Moonlake: Okay, the multiverse concept reminds me of Moorcock certainly who you mentioned were one of your inspirations.

Richard: Yes. Absolutely!

Moonlake: So when is it due out?

Richard: It’s scheduled for a September 30th release date. We are halfway through the formal editing process now.

Moonlake: Now, if you were to look back, would you have done anything in your writer’s journey differently and if so, what?

Richard: I would have ignored everything and everyone else and started doing it way back in my teens…. I think I would be much further along in my knowledge of the writing craft itself.

Moonlake: Right, you would have less life experiences back then but to make up for it, more time to learn and experiment. Is that the only regret?

Richard: I think I’m very lucky to have gotten this far this quickly, frankly.

That’s very true! Absolutely…but as one gains experience in life, is one able to write about it freely without worry of “the other people”? Or does that stay with us forever?

I believe that even the young have valid things to say. Will they say it in a relatable manner? Maybe, maybe not. Kind of depends upon each individual, don’t you think?

Beside, my youth was pretty dramatic…LOL

Moonlake: Well, I think there are two sides to this. That’s the emotion side which tends to cool as time goes on from the initial happening of an event, an experience. But writing is also about perspective, and while a young perspective is as interesting as an elder one with more life experiences, I think that the wisdom that comes with ages potentially allows you to dig deeper into things. But yeah, like you said, depends on the individual really.

Richard: I agree with you 100%!

Moonlake: So overall, how far do you think you have progressed from your initial point?

Richard: Tremendously! I actually finished a book! Not a lot of people can actually say that, so that was like a journey across country. LOL Long and arduous…lol. But very satisfying!

Moonlake: Yep, agreed.

Richard: I’ve been asked to get another ready for Oct and then the sequel to Reapers comes out in Jan/Feb timeframe, so I’ll be very busy the next few months! Continuing my journey, but going globetrotting now! LOL

Moonlake: Sounds like exciting prospects publication wise. Now, if we want to follow you, how can we do that?

Richard: Thanks for asking! I have an author’s page on FB, a WordPress blog, and I am active on Twitter as well!




Moonlake: Okay then, our interview today’s drawing to a close and I would like to thank Richard for your time today.

Richard: Thank you so much for asking me to share with you! I hope you enjoy the read when my book comes out!

Moonlake: Sure, and thanks to our readers today. Till next week!

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 16 July 2017

Mon 10/07/2017

Real life and unexpected Internet connection loss held me up.

Tue 11/07/2017

  1. Finished Chap 32
  2. Fleshed out Scene 1, chap 33 (previously a floating scene)
  3. 20 grids filled for Sin Sin

Wed 12/07/2017

  1. Rough gist for scene 2, chap 33
  2. Scene 1, chap 34

Thu 13/07/2017

  1. Scene 2, chap 33

Fri 14/07/2017

  1. Expanded scene 1, chap 34
  2. Sorted out coming plot point for chap 35
  3. Chap 34 done

Sat 15/07/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 35
  2. Chap 35 done

Sun 16/07/2017

  1. Started 2nd iteration of outline, collapsed and moved around some scenes (equivalent to 2 achievements)
  2. Rough gist for new chapter featuring cousin more (2nd iteration)

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends. Finish book 1 outlining (3.5 chapters).

Week Tally: 1.8 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends

Sum story progress: 3.5 chapters. Also, started on 2nd iteration.

Against last week:  Substantial Improvement from last week on weekdays and mild improvement on weekends

Writer’s Awakening- Samantha Beardon

Moonlake: Hi, I’m Moonlake Ku and welcome to the 4th episode of Writer’s Awakenings. Today, we have author Samantha Beardon with us. Firstly, tell us about yourself and your journey into writing, Sam.

Sam: I am a qualified nurse with a long career working mostly in the UK. I also paint and dye silk. I started writing seriously two and a half years ago when I wrote a novel. I had always wanted to write but life got in the way. Marriage and a career as a nurse took up my time. I wrote but mostly essays for courses and research for my masters. I had hobbies of an artistic nature but never seriously found the time to write.

Moonlake: So what are the circumstances that first drove you to pursue writing in a serious way?

Sam: What spurred me into action was talking to people on a word game site and finding the parallel life of internet relationships and sexting. I found it amazing that people playing a recreational word game should talk and fall in love without ever meeting. That unhappy people in failed relationships should think the ideal partner was waiting online, with no baggage or ulterior motives.

Moonlake: It’s an interesting phenomenon, one that I wasn’t aware of. What exactly is sexting? Never came across the term before.

Sam: Basically men wanting to chat with the idea of either a sexual meet or a cyber sex event.

Moonlake: Well, one learns something new every day. Sorry for the interruption over definition, now please continue on with the story on how this observation over a real life phenomenon led you into writing.

Sam: I listened to many people’s stories, witnessed lots of unhappiness and even got hit upon by predatory males. I have done a fair bit of studying around beliefs, behaviour and relationships and it gave me the idea to write a novel based in that cyber world. I know now that the behaviour is happening on most internet sites.

Once I had started writing and forming my characters, one wrote poetry. Poetry is not something I have read or taken an interest in particularly. I decided to write some for Eve and found I could put together a pretty good poem. So that launched my career as a poet. I have since produced a poetry book called Caught in Passion and I am about to produce a second book. I am choosing the poems now.

Moonlake: That’s interesting that you started a poet career based off the characters for a story instead of working on the story itself. So what happened to this story? Did that just fall by the wayside?

Sam: No, I finished the novel I just talked about. I wrote the poetry alongside it and still write a poem most days.

Moonlake: Okay, it’s good to hear that poetry and story writing are complementing each other in your case. And now I would like to hear more about your reflection on that first novel.

Sam: Well, I did not do a writing course, I had read lots of books and just wanted to write the story, that was in my head. I outlined the four main characters roughly. My premise was of a man chatting to several women on line, just for fun. Following these relationships and having him fall in love with one of the women unexpectedly. I had decided who it would be and I made her the main character in the story.

That was the totality of my planning. Off I went writing a chapter at a time each, from the view of one of the characters. All went well until one of the lesser characters became a stalker unexpectedly. Not only did I have to stop and research stalking …that is scary! I had rethink the dynamics of my work. This meant changing the lead character Rick to become the main character. It meant rewriting portions of the completed manuscript and changing chapter orders.

Moonlake: Wow, that’s a lot of work but you expect that for a major re-write.

Sam: If I had produced a story outline with more planning, I might not have had to do that, a lightbulb moment!

Moonlake: I’ve always been a planner but then you can always plan more. So what happened next?

Sam: Completed the manuscript and proof read it 50 times, always finding mistakes I had missed. Confident I was on top of it I gave it to beta readers and got mainly good feedback. So I published the book on Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace. It sold some copies and I started thinking about book two. I decided to do a belated writing course because I knew I had made the writing process hard on myself.

Having started the course, I realised there were still fundamental issues with the book. The book had surprisingly, a handful of good reviews. But the issues started to niggle me and so I have taken the book off sale and I employed a professional editor to go through it. I am in the process of considering her suggestions and implementing them. Then I will re-release.

Moonlake: Are you still going to do book 2 based off the sexting idea?

Sam: Yes, I am although this is a fairly low key part of the book. I am continuing the lives of two of the protagonists and there is a thriller element within book two. Their conversations including some sexting is part of the story.

Moonlake: Okay, sounds interesting. Actually, I thought book 1 had already turned into part thriller given the stalker character.

Sam: Yes, it has. The protagonist in book 1 is an ex special forces operative with the Australian army sniper and surveillance, he now works as a financial advisor in Perth. But has continued doing special ops occasionally. In book two he is involved in a special operation in London.

Moonlake: Interesting. Do you have an idea when the re-release of book 1 will be and how publication-ready is book 2?

Sam: Book two is about three quarters written so probably six months. I am undecided whether to re release book one in a month or to hang on for another two and issue it free on kindle for ten days as a taster before the release if work two. I think that is the most likely scenario.

Moonlake: Yeah, I would go for the latter route too though I don’t have much personal experience myself. But that sounds good. Now, looking back, how would you have done things differently or would you have done things differently?

Sam: Would I do things differently yes. I would always use an editor. The process of producing a good book is only partly about having a great story. Good editing is essential. I would also choose my beta readers with more care. I will plan more as I learnt that solid planning is important, but I am a panster more than a planner and I will always let my story go the way my characters wish it.

Moonlake: So overall, how far do you think you have progressed from your initial point?

Sam: I have been and l am still on a huge learning curve and adoring every minute of it. The craft and skill of authorship are huge and my skills are developing.

Moonlake: Okay, I think that brings us to the conclusion of this interview. Thank you for your time today, Sam. And I learnt something new today.

Sam: Thank you for inviting me to share time on your blog, Moonlake Ku. It has been a pleasure to talk to you. Both reading and writing gives one the chance to meet nice people that one otherwise would never meet in this world.

Moonlake: Agreed. Thanks to our readers today. We will meet again another time.

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 9 July 2017

Mon 3/07/2017

Took a break

Tue 4/07/2017

  1. Amended chap 25

Wed 5/07/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 26
  2. Chap 26 done

Thu 6/07/2017

  1. Scene 2, chap 27 partially written

Fri 7/07/2017

Train problem, took a break today

Sat 8/07/2017

  1. 20 grids filled for Lee Won

Sun 9/07/2017

  1. 21 grids filled for Lee Won (goal=20)
  2. 20 grids filled for Chan Sarn
  3. 20 grids filled for Chan Lok

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends. Finish book 1 outlining (5 chapters).

Week Tally: 0.8 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends

Sum story progress: more than 1.5, less than 2 Chapters

Against last week: Stuck so decided to turn to character grids.  Fair progress given the various circumstances.