Choosing ourselves

We can pour ourselves in, give it everything we’ve got for days, months, years (!!) even, and still come up empty, or worse yet, get spit out, get rejected.

It happens. It happens all the time. We know the risk is there in everything that we do, be it a project or a relationship, but still, it hurts.

Rejection is a bitch. It’s a beast. It’s brutal.

Rejection can shut us down. It can make us stop trying (stop writing, stop creating, stop loving). It can make us turn inward and question and doubt everything about ourselves. It can leave us spinning our wheels, making it impossible for us to go anywhere but down – but, aren’t we there already?

As much as it hurts, as much as it stings, rejection does serve a purpose, because when viewed in the right light, rejection is a redirection. It’s a sign-post that reads “dead end” with a myriad of arrows around it pointing us towards an infinite number of other paths available on this journey.

No matter what direction we choose, so long as we accept and choose ourself, we can’t go wrong.

Innovative Ink

I’ve spent the last two years as an indie writer spinning my wheels, taking my writing, my books absolutely nowhere, but down. In the process, I’ve managed to dig an impressively deep hole for my self-confidence to curl up in and die.

It’s not at all what I hoped for, what I had worked for.

It looks and feels nothing like my dream.

This feeling of defeat despite having written the books, despite having published the books, despite having marketed the books, despite having created the author platform and joined and engaged in the various social media writing communities, and despite having supported and cheered on dozens of other writers and their work – despite all of that I still feel like a failure because my work hasn’t found its audience and I haven’t found my tribe and my books sit forgotten and overlooked on digital shelves gathering dust that will more likely be deleted than simply blown away.

Yet, though the indie dream didn’t come true for me, I do see it coming true for others. I watch them in awe from the sidelines of social media as they gather hundreds, thousands sometimes, of loyal, engaged followers who seem to pounce on their every word and meme as if it were vital sustenance to their very existence. I enviously watch them post their ever-increasing sales and unsolicited (and glowing) reviews and dozens of media appearances, and as I applaud their success, I can’t help but wonder, where did I go wrong?

With our sights set on the same target, how did they make a kill-shot and why was I shooting blanks?

Was it that newsletter that I couldn’t be bothered to write? Was it that mailing list that I didn’t want to start?

Somehow I doubt it, but still I’m curious and so, from that curiousity, Innovative Ink was born

Over the summer, I will be transforming this blog into a resource and support for indie writers, featuring websites and blogs, and apps with helpful advice and tips, and I will also continue to interview indie authors, with a focus on their best advice for achieving success (and hopefully I’ll unearth the magical key to indie success : is it really the mailing list??)

I’m also chasing another dream with this new endeavor. I’m going back to school this summer to get my certification as a copyeditor. I’m going to freelance as a book editor for indies. As a psychology student who loved to write way back in the day, I was offered an invitation into the Honours English degree program but stupidly declined, thinking there’d be more career opportunities for me in psychology. Having worked professionally as a photographer for the last decade (so much for that psych degree!), it’s been one of my bigger regrets in life because my love for reading and writing has never waned and I want very much to give it a more prominent role in my life.

The dream doesn’t look how I imagined it would, so I’m going back to the drawing board (the journal/ my head) and creating something new.

(I’m innovative like that).

The Innovators: an interview with author, M.G. Unger

After a 5 month hiatus, The Innovators, an indie artist interview series, is back with the indie author of Divided and Enhanced 2124…….

Introduce yourself

My name is M.G. Unger. I was born, raised, and still currently live in Florida. After school, I moved away from most of my family to be with friends. After a long chain of dumb choices, I finally made a good one, I met my wife. Through our love, my destiny was fulfilled.

What I am is a father first. Above all the multitude of cogs, gears, and unpredictable events, being a dad is what I am most proud of. There is no award or accomplishment that will ever surpass this feat. It took me and my wife a long while and we had to overcome health issues to become parents to three wonderful children. As life often does, there was/is some sideways issues and I turned to writing to cope.

When and why did you start writing?

I always wrote poems or short stories throughout my life for fun. Never in my dreams I thought I would write a book, but here I am about to release my second book out into the wild. Because of complications with one of our daughters I became helpless mentally and was even suicidal. Talking through the issues with my wife, I mentioned in passing about a story I was thinking about. My wife instantly encouraged me just to write it down. Everyday since 2017, I have been writing. Our daughter is not cured, but she is doing way better, but regardless, I cannot stop writing. It is my therapy.

Who or what inspires your writing / creativity?

I grew up in the golden age of cartoons. He-Man, GI-Joe, and later in life Batman: The Animated Series. Along with toons, I enjoyed reading science fiction and playing video games. Regardless of the media format, the thing that drew me into any of it was the stories. I especially am always drawn to tales that are unique, the unusual, or a trope that bends the formula.

Tell me about Divided and Enhanced

Divide and Enhanced is my premier novel series. It is set in the future and is an adventure about multiple factions with different strengths, powers, and goals trying to save or destroy one another. The series is told through multiple protagonists and oftentimes the same events overlap but are seen through different character’s eyes. High tech, artificial intelligence, and robots? Check, check check. It is obviously born from my favorite genre, science fiction. The idea came from a personal need to create a character based on our daughter who begins weak but builds strength from that weakness. It was/is very fun writing this series. All the characters I have created so far argue in my headspace all the time and I absolutely love it.

What are your upcoming projects?

Ah yes, I do have other projects in various levels of progression. In order to never get stuck, I have multiple stories or books to jump back and forth on. The furthest along is on chapter five of the first draft. This one will probably be the next book I release after Divided and Enhanced: The Fall. It is going to be a fun ride, but in a different way then the DE series. Mix a reality game show with time traveling and the multiverse and you’ll get a general idea of what that book is about. I have a few other ideas I have began writing in addition to that one.

One of these I want to hold off on until I have a few more books on the shelf. It is a fascinating concept that I don’t want to share just yet. The reason being is because I’m not ready. I want to be sure my skills are honed enough to give the project the flourish and craftsmanship it deserves. It is going to be a large project and like all of my other tales, I think I’m more excited to write them than I think my biggest fan is to read them. Oh, and FYI, my biggest fan is my wife and no one will ever take her from that slot. I wouldn’t be half of who I am without her never-ending relentless support and love.

What challenges do you face as an indie author? What advantages do you have as an indie?

Being an independent author has no challenges at all. I mean not anymore than anything else in life. I wish for once, my talents would be put up against something in life that is just plainly simple. Nothing is, so I enjoy what I do. Yes, sarcasm aside, writing books as an independent author is extremely tough. Just because it is tough doesn’t mean it is rewarding. First and above all, I control the time table. Being able to control time is phenomenal! Though that has it’s dangers as well and without enough drive I can easily get stuck in a whirlwind of edits and revisions that will spiral on forever if I let it. Marketing is by far the hardest thing to me. I’ve been studying and researching, knowledge is power and boy do I need some power in that department. Haha!

What is your greatest writing achievement so far? What are you still working towards?

I did it! I wrote a book! Many people, in fact, inaccurate estimations state that nearly 98 point Q percent of the entire population says that they are going to write a book, but only a slim number much less than that actually do. The point being, I feel really special that I can look at my shelf every day and see amongst my books, one with my name on it. It really is quite an honor to write a book. To be able to string along letters to form worlds is beyond scientific understanding, it is magical. The feeling of accomplishment after creating art in this medium is vast and an unexplainably amazing feeling. I need improvement in all aspects of being a writer. I’m not the best and I never will be the best. All I want to achieve is to be better than what my past self imagined.

Where can readers find you?

Website: https://mgunger6.wixsite.com/website

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/m.g.unger/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mgunger

Book review: Laplace’s Demon by David Alexanian

Laplace’s Demon by David Alexanian

5 of 5 stars

Genre: Urban fantasy / fantasy/ paranormal

Newlink Publishing (March 2020)

Synopsis:

Laplace’s innocent blood has awakened a centuries-old curse–a Japanese demon sworn to wreak havoc on this world.
The seductive powers granted by the demon’s sword help Laplace cut a swath through the Paris underworld. But with the rising body count, the demon’s strength grows. Its desire for blood will never be quenched. And once Laplace loses himself completely, it may never be stopped.

If I hadn’t requested to be an ARC reader for the second part of this series (The Sword Demon), I more than likely would not have picked up this book, in all honesty. Neither the cover nor the title grabbed my interest much and fantasy is not my typical read – BUT, two pages in, I was hooked. BIG TIME. I read it all in two days! I truly could not put it down.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It’s a riveting page-turner full of fascinating characters (a demonically possessed intellectual, a ghost of a murdered girl, monks who can see the dead!). The story seamlessly flip-flops between modern-day Paris and 16th-century Japan with an absolutely intriguing plotline about how the demon came to be and how he will go out, after exerting some vigilante revenge via his unlucky host, Laplace. Besides a fantastic, unique, and original plot, the writing is fabulous.

I am so glad to have come across this book and its very talented writer who I have been following for a few years on Instagram now – and who certainly doesn’t post about his writing talents nearly enough! Laplace’s Demon is so worth a read even if fantasy is not your regular sort of genre – you will NOT regret it.

I did also receive an ARC copy of book 2 of The Sword Demon series, Marielle’s Witch, slated for a July 2021 release and I am eagerly diving into it now….

Book Review: Come Forth in Thaw by Jayson Robert Ducharme

Come Forth in Thaw by Jayson Robert Ducharme

Genre: Dark fantasy / horror

Self-published novella, to be released February 2021

5 of 5 stars

I was captivated by this powerful story that I read in a single sitting. At just over 100 pages, this little book delivers a solid punch of emotion and horror…

Synopsis: Desperate mom, Ellie, goes in search of her depressed teen son in New England’s Adrienne Forest State Park (a fictionalized version of Japan’s infamous Aokigahara “suicide forest”). There she discovers the strange and creepy Tinker man who collects trophies of the dead. Promising to help her find her son, he sets her out on a quest through the horrors of the forest that holds the pain and suffering of those who died in it and also acts as a beacon to those who hold similar pain in their heart. Hoping that her son hasn’t become a statistic, Ellie ends up having to face her own truths as to why and and how she ended up amongst the trees of that dark forest.

I was absorbed by Ellie’s journey and felt both her desperation and fear as she searched through the strange and, at times, quite frightening forest. There was a jarring twist to the story about 3/4’s in that I absolutely didn’t see coming and not wanting to spoil the book for future readers, I have to say that I forgave the writer for that (!) as the story transitioned smoothly and expertly into its second act, where we discover Ellie’s tragic reason for being in the forest.

I particularly enjoyed the character the Donneur Vie, the Soul of the Mountain, that communicates and consoles the dead who wander the forest and really appreciated the purposeful lack of romanticizing mental illness and suicide. The message/ meaning of the story truly shone through for me at the end and for that reason, I hope that it is read by a wide and receptive audience.

Kudos to author Ducharme for this excellent book. I look forward to checking out more of his work!

My books are FREE this weekend!

“I don’t move the stars for just anyone.”

To start the new year on the right foot (eg: with a good book!), all four of my books are FREE this weekend on Amazon (see links in titles and because of a glitch, Elegant Execution will be free on Jan. 2 & 3rd). Go and grab a copy of each Friday, January 1st thru to Sunday, January 3rd and I hope you enjoy!!! Happy 2021!!!!!

Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird: Fourteen year old Hope Quest knows that the abusive life she leads with her alcoholic grandmother is not the only one she’s ever had. With a face full of scars, a heart damaged from a lightning strike as a toddler, and only able to speak in a whisper, Hope is desperate to find her “voice”, to discover the truth of her life.

Encouraged by her cousin, Onyx, to break free from her grandmother’s control, Hope’s life begins to unravel when an attack at a party awakens another secret ability – the power to pull stars from the sky – and opens a terrifying black hole over her lightning scar.

Escaping with Onyx and their motley group of punk friends to attend a three day music festival, StarFEST, Hope discovers her long-lost brother is Blackbird, an enigmatic rock star, who leads her down a dark and dangerous path to self-discovery.

Hope Quest book 2: The Lightning: Picks up exactly where book 1 left off after Hope’s tumulutous experience at StarFEST ,where she encountered Blackbird and discovered both her star-moving abilities and her dark history with him, she must now navigate life with the knowledge of her strange origins while her unique abilities continue to grow and strengthen. The arrival of a new photography teacher at school presents new challenges when Hope learns there is more to her family than Lennon let on. With her 15th birthday looming, Hope discovers that the family cult is seeking her return. Will Lennon come “out of the dark” to help save her from the family he took her from as a toddler or will Hope be able to find the strength to save herself?

Elegant Execution is my first poetry and dance photography collection and is a very personal piece of work created as a way to heal from childhood trauma and abandonment.

The Stars Went Out was my follow up collection of poetry and my dance photography. It is a blend of literary and visual art, creating a unique and memorable dreamscape.

Let me pencil in this new year…..

I’m not going to hop aboard the “let’s get excited for the new year” train. In fact, I feel better just penciling the next year into my life at this point. We all know that January 1st thru who knows when will still look and feel very much like 2020 – and I’m actually an optimist! I do hope, though, that at some point in 2021 we can all let out our collective breath because I sure feel like I’ve been holding mine all year.

Like most people, I just scraped through the year. No big accomplishments (I had three book projects planned and none came to fruition). I had to close down my photography studio twice and suffered financially. I endured the parental horrors of online schooling twice this year with all three of my kids and will be going into the new year doing more of the same.

Still, I am hopeful that things will turn around at some point in the new year for me, for you, for everyone – and sooner than later.

My few 2021 plans include: blogging more, reading more, reviewing more, writing more, doing more yoga, spending more time with my kids and family, and just continuing to put my energies towards those things in my life that fulfill me – those things that are ‘ink-worthy’ in my books.

For now, I am grateful to have this platform, to have some readers, some followers and I hope to connect with all of you at some point in the new year!

My Indie Reads of 2020

Indie books, for me, are the hidden gems of the literary world. You need to be open-minded, curious, daring and willing to dig around a bit to strike gold and unearth those true underrated, unappreciated treasures that are out there just waiting to be found….

Since starting my own indie author journey in 2019, I have read (almost exclusively) indie books. For the most part, the indie/ self-published books I’ve read have not lived up to the stereotype of being poorly written/poorly edited/ and “no wonder they can’t get published traditionally!” idea. This is just not the case with most indie books! Some, yes, absolutely, but for the most part, the indie books I’ve read have been quite impressive and certainly deserving of a wider audience, which is why I’ve started this blog.

Here are the gems I discovered this year, along with short blurbs from the reviews I posted (and in some cases, am still in the process of posting) for them on Amazon and Goodreads.

My 2020 Indie Reads & Gems:

The Underside Of Wars by Jared Kane

“The Underside of Wars is so beautifully and eloquently written (even the depraved parts!) that[the] prose often reads like poetry. [Kane’s] books are not the usual “easy read” fare so often found on bookshelves now. [His] writing and themes truly challenge the reader on many levels – as art should! At times this book, the writing, the story, literally took my breath away – especially the last few dark chapters and that ending!!”

Agents of Odd: Woodrush Towers by S.P. Rowell

This will be my first reviewed book of 2021, but in the meantime, let me say this book was an absolute thrill ride: full of paranormal scares and delights and a truly unique storyline that I absolutely loved.

The Future of the Present Past by Darren Edden

“Smart, highly engaging and seamlessly written, The Future of the Present Past is an excellent follow-up to The Mirror of Our Creation. I am not much of a science fiction fan, but like its predecessor, this book doesn’t bog the reader down with the science and instead focuses more on the fiction and does so in a really entertaining and relatable way with likeable characters and wonderful pacing. The storyline truly gives you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading.”

Tales from the Dark Heart Emporium by Richard Long

“It had been many years since I’d read a horror novel and this book of short, dark stories brought me right back into the fold. Chilling and creepy with just enough gore to satiate. Some of these stories definitely make those little hairs on the back of your neck stand up – a sure sign of a great read and a fabulous write.”

Roosevelt’s River An Edward Prince Adventure (book 4) by C.K. Shackleton

“Roosevelt’s River more than proved to be another fantastic installment in the Edward Prince series! Like the previous three books, there’s a nice blend of fiction, history and globe-trotting adventure to be had!”

Bring Them Home by Julia DeBarrioz

Another fabulous installment of Dakota Del Toro series. One of my favourite heroines in quite some time. And those vampires are always so hot!

Lives of E by H.P. Burman

“I found the idea of the book very intriguing – a man getting electrocuted by a quantum computer and then waking up day after day in different realities of himself, stuck in a multiverse loop that he doesn’t know how to escape. It was a very ambitious undertaking of the author to plot this story out with so many storylines and versions of the protagonist and his friends going on…this was a solid book…looking forward to the sequel!”

Dalton Highway by Freddie Ahlin

A psychological thriller that often leaves you wondering how much is happening outside, in the Alaskan wilderness, and how much is happening inside the protagonist’s head.

Bottom Feeders by Jerry Roth

Wonderfully dark and creepy psychological horror set in a jail where one of the inmates may just be the Devil himself.

Pummeled by Eric Woods

“This book is an epic coming-of-age journey. Bree Aniston is a great protagonist, a strong female lead who navigates the underside of humanity with both grit and grace.”

Magician’s Mayhem by Slate R. Raven

“A very dark and twisted tale with a dash of the supernatural to keep you guessing and a whole lot of mutilations to keep your skin crawling.”

Broadening by William Shabass

“At just twenty pages long, this well-written little book is a promising beginning to a fun and exciting adventure which I look forward to continuing.”

Hope Quest book 2: The Lightning by Melanie Ever Moore

And for my final read of the year, I’m doing some self-promotion of my own little gem, the second part of my Hope Quest trilogy, a dark, supernatural, coming of age YA story. This review was not written by me (but was very much appreciated by me!):

“I can safely say, I don’t think anything like this exists, and a lot more people need to read this for the mix of friendship, family, unbeknownst powers, and gut-wrenching moments that all intertwine into a lovely picture of beautiful art.”

brand new name, same old me

I’m working on some changes over here: “melanie ever moore” blog is now “read/write/repeat” , though it’s still me (melanie) at the keyboard and “The Innovators” indie interviews has been (sadly) scrapped.

I’ve decided to focus more on book blogging and reviewing of books that I really enjoy and will have occasional author features. Indie authors and indie books will still be my main focus because they are my favourite – and because I’m one (an indie author, that is, with four books to my name).

I’ve made the decision to focus more on my blog in the upcoming year because after nearly two years on Instagram, I’ve discovered that the indie communities of both writers and poets is a hard one to get a footing in. At least for me, it was. I certainly never felt a sense of community there, even after doing The Innovators interviews for the past three months – the whole purpose being to highlight other indie authors and their work in order to build a sense of community amongst creatives on that platform. I was (naively) hoping that other indie writers would connect with those I featured and a sense of community and mutual support of creative work would grow from there. But it didn’t. Other writers and poets just seemed more interested and excited about selfies and memes or other writer’s cats and I just can’t (and won’t) compete with that.

So, I am here now hoping to build and grow a sense of creative community by connecting with other readers, writers and book bloggers (so please give my blog a follow if you haven ‘t already!).

My next post will be My Top Indie Reads of 2020…..come back to check that out in the next few days……

The Innovators #14 with…author C.K. Shackleton

Like any other effort, writing has its fun components, but my advice would be to view the activity of writing as work. Actual work. Changing your perspective that writing is actually going to require true, consistent effort from you in the form of real work ethic will lead to more tangible results.

Introduce yourself and your books.

My author name is C.K. Shackleton.  I am the author of 4 books (so far) in the fast-paced and fun Edward Prince Adventure Series.  In publication order, they are “The Mystery of Coronado Cay, “The Bolshevik Ballerina,” “The Lost Idol of Ishtar” and most recently, “Roosevelt’s River.”  I’ve published other fiction and non-fiction books under other names, but the Edward Prince books were by far, the most fun to write.

Tell me about Edward Prince:  who or what inspired him? Is he a hero or an anti-hero?

I believe Edward Prince is a hero.  There are plenty of deconstructed, post-modern anti-heroes in current literature and pop culture right now and plenty more are being created everyday.  I like a lot of their stories, but a character created in our time that fits the mold of a “pre-modern, traditional” hero like Prince could be seen as anachronistic if not ironic.  I’m totally fine with that.
Edward Prince is always searching for the truth and more importantly, he seems to be willing to sacrifice his own comfort and in some cases, risk his life to get to it.  Prince was born in the last quarter of the 19th Century as the Victorian Era in most parts of the world started to make way for the Edwardian Era.  To me, that is probably one of the most fascinating times in history as new technological achievements intersected with humanity’s relentless ambition to explore the vast and mysterious corners and cultures of the Earth.  I wanted to tap into that excitement through the eyes of someone like Edward Prince.  To me, he is the culmination of those explorers, innovators and artists of that time, who kept throwing off the shackles of earlier convention and rigid thinking and pressed forward to discover something new.  
I suppose my inspiration for creating him is an amalgamation of fictional heroes from that era, like Edgar Rice Burroghs’s Tarzan and John Carter and certainly from the lesser-known protagonist, Charles Marlow in two of Joseph Conrad’s books.  The “cool under pressure” approach that Prince occasionally displays was borrowed from Ian Fleming’s James Bond (007).  I finished reading the original series a few years ago and always thought Fleming had an interesting insight into the mind of 007 facing odds greater than what most people would ever know.  As for real life examples, I think Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Shackleton were big influences.  Neither of those men lived to a relatively old age, but both experienced more adventure in their adult lives than most people on the planet.
By no means is Prince perfect.  There are times when he makes mistakes in judgment, drawing the wrong conclusions and losing his cool, like anyone would do under stressful circumstances.  He also seems to be afraid of committing to others in the long-term and that is possibly connected to the loss of a loved one early on in his adult life.  I think the idea of the flawed hero, who is still a hero, was really brought to the forefront by Stan Lee, the visionary behind most Marvel Comics characters, like Spider-man, Iron Man and the Hulk.  These flaws were present, but never inhibited the characters from accomplishing their mission.  
One other fictional inspiration that I drew from for the last Edward Prince book was Idris Elba’s character Detective Chief Inspector John Luther in the excellent British television series “Luther.”  DCI Luther is philosophical, observant, occasionally misunderstood and usually a little ahead of the rest of the pack he’s surrounded by and that seems to be an advantage.  Luther always found himself in difficult situations that required bending the rules and sometimes that meant going off to do his own thing.  I suppose those themes coincided with a slightly older, somewhat more world-weary Edward Prince in “Roosevelt’s River.” 
I’ve had adventures of my own, spending my childhood growing up in two different countries and then in my adult life doing business with people from so many cultures and economic classes.  As an author, you can draw from that area of your life so much when you’re trying to create something that feels authentic and rings true to the reader.

Why historical fiction?  What compels you to write in that genre?

I enjoy a lot of different genres of fiction, such as science fiction, thrillers, graphic novels, TPBs along with the occasional Steampunk book.  However, in writing my books, I followed the advice to write the book you’ve always wanted to read and I took that to heart.  I’ve loved studying history since I was a kid.  I think people who find history boring or learning about historical events to be dry have never had the right teachers or had it presented in a way that made it relatable.  History is messy, it is sometimes murky and it has lately been controversial, but it is rarely uninteresting.  
In The Edward Prince Adventure Series, I wanted to experiment with putting some real-life historical people with my fictional characters connecting the places and events, but never losing the pace.  I’d like to think I was able to do that with some success in all of the books to one degree or another. 

Why have you chosen to write Edward’s adventures as serialized short stories?  How does that add to the overall theme/vibe/feel of the series?

Serialized fiction has been around for a long time going all the way back to before Dickens.  However, as a fan of Ian Fleming’s 007 series, I’ve always admired how there was this underlying thread that was consistent to Bond’s character throughout the series that reflected on his ongoing relationships with the characters of M and Miss Moneypenny.  In the books, Bond struggles with killing someone and seems to never lose that angst.  He also seems to see himself as a civil servant first and always appears to put hedonistic pleasures such as food, women and alcohol second.  He is even married briefly in my favorite of the books, but even that ends in tragedy.  Unfortunately, the films have never captured that vision fully.  Instead, we’re treated to a Bond that is bedding a woman every 30 minutes, driving expensive luxury cars, shooting everything up in sight and wearing tuxedos.  Don’t get me wrong, they are enjoyable to watch, but most of them divert away from the essence of what I think Fleming was trying to do.  I also like that Bond aged in the books as well.
So my reasons for writing these as serialized stories came from that notion of what I read in Fleming’s books.  Also, I was a big reader of comic books growing up and no one wrote cliffhangers and serialized fiction like some of those comic book creators, who wanted you to come back for more every month.  There was also another little-known series that probably played a role in all of this work called “The Great Brain” by John Fitzgerald.  As a kid, I read every single one of those books and they were based in true-to-life settings, but likely embellished for entertainment purposes.  Serialized fiction is all around us in every medium.
I think in today’s world of distraction and a zillion things competing for a reader’s attention, writing these shorter books seemed to be a natural response to all of that stimulus.  I trust that readers are sophisticated and imaginative enough to fill in the gaps.  My focus in writing these books has always been to keep the reader engaged from start to finish.  Therefore, action first, dialogue second and brief descriptions third.  I try to maintain my allergy to writing a lot of exposition.  You’ll also notice that I don’t spend too much time plumbing the depths of Prince’s soul or any other character for that matter.  The goal has always been to give the reader a satisfying adventure that touches on the lives of real people from history along with places and events connected to them.  

Is there some recent history that you think Edward could / should re-write or be a part of?  What is it?  What would he do? 

I think Edward Prince, a character who is committed to seeing the mission through, but figuring out how to do the right thing at every turn, even if it is to his disadvantage, is a timeless idea.  I think someone like him would always be the kind of person you’d want on your side, whether it was during the Second World War, the Vietnam War or the events of September 11th, 2001.  I think that commitment to doing what is right in the face of fear and loss is one of the prime traits that makes him a hero.  I think he’s also someone who aspires to serve something bigger than himself or his own ego.  There are men and women all around us who are like that.  You don’t have to agree with them or the way they think, but they are real and they are reliable.  That being said, I think if we had more people like that, society wouldn’t quite be in the same chaotic state it is today.  

Who or what inspires your creativity?  What gets in the way of it? 

Anyone who reads the Edward Prince series will see that I love history and I love adventure.  In each Edward Prince story, a germ was taken from an event or real person’s life and then expanded upon.  That means that L. Frank Baum really was staying the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego at the time “The Mystery of Coronado Cay” takes place, Lenin really was hiding out in Paris, licking his figurative wounds from his failed 1905 coup of Russia as “The Bolshevik Ballerina” happens, T.E. Lawrence was investigating cool archeological finds in the Middle East before serving in the First World War alongside a cholera outbreak that had happened at that time and in that area, as depicted in “The Lost Idol of Ishtar” and Theodore Roosevelt did take that crazy trip on the River of Doubt with Colonel Rondon and his son Kermit, as shown in “Roosevelt’s River.”  I wove in other characters into each book that were based on other less-notable people in history.  Of course, each adventure takes a fictional course, but I’d like to think that since we don’t know every moment of each of these people’s lives, the possibilities are endless.  
Modern-day Lebanese-American philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb made a career out of telling the layman about randomness and it can affect us daily.  I remember when I first approached Taleb’s work in “The Black Swan,” it was a real challenge and I found it vexing.  Over time, I discovered that one of the main themes to his writings is that there is so little that is in your control and the sooner you can accept that and prepare for it, the sooner you will be at peace with yourself and the world around you.  He would bristle at that kind of summary.  It takes a lot of work to get to that mental and emotional state though.  In many ways, Taleb was my “gateway drug” into studying philosophy. 

Outside of history and Taleb’s work, I enjoy watching movies and television when I can, listening to music, reading fiction and non-fiction and studying the ethical side of philosophy.  After all is said and done though, I think my biggest inspiration for creativity comes from looking at the world around me.  Relationships with family and friends, interactions with nature and just pondering the universe around me are very important and can be an endless source for creativity.  

What is your biggest challenge in being an indie author? How do you overcome it?

For every indie author, I think there are always a number of challenges, such as time management, motivation and organization.  To me, the one that loomed as large as those I just mentioned has always been self-doubt. The way I overcame that self-doubt was to dig deeper into myself and rediscover why I started writing in the first place.  Of course, it was about writing stories I wanted to read, but it also had to do with letting go of the results and expectations tied to the results.  I can’t force people to like my work or even to read my work in the first place.  This became a more dominant thought as I wrote more fiction and each book was published.  It became about writing for myself and in a way that ultimately, I was satisfied with the outcome. If a reader feels the results of my work are satisfactory too, then I consider it a win.  

Best piece of advice for up-and-coming writers? 

Film Director Kevin Smith once said that after “Clerks” premiered at Sundance he had received quite a bit of praise, but the most poignant was when someone came up to him and congratulated him on “finishing it.”  That’s always stuck with him and I’ve always remembered it too.
So many writer projects remain unfinished in their various forms and if this happens too frequently, the writer will likely develop the habit of not finishing any projects.  Like any other effort, writing has its fun components, but my advice would be to view the activity of writing as work.  Actual work.  Changing your perspective that writing is actually going to require true, consistent effort from you in the form of real work ethic will lead to more tangible results.  This will require some planning from the writer, some research and writing outlines.  My ultimate message is to never give up and to figure out how to finish your projects, even the ones you ultimately decide no one will see.  
I believe that you should never let perfect be the enemy of good and never let good be the enemy of done.  

What do you most want for readers to take away from your work?

Honestly, with the Edward Prince books and my other works of fiction, I like to keep some of the areas of prose sparse for a simple reason.  I like the idea that subtext is all around the story and that I don’t have to explain every single thing to my readers.  They get to use their imagination and their own reasoning abilities to put some things together.  Therefore, what they take away from each book and each story is theirs to keep.  
I hope they feel inspired to go out and do something good for other people.  True heroism is found in simple service.  I write characters who are trying to do the right thing for a reason.  Even more, I hope readers just enjoy the adventure!

Upcoming projects?  Where can readers find you?

If people read the books in The Edward Prince Adventure Series in the order published, starting with “The Mystery of Coronado Cay,” they will find Edward Prince avoided certain making choices that he ultimately began to resolve at the end of “Roosevelt’s River” and it seemed to mark the end of his adventures and his career as a roving, globe-trotting newspaper reporter.  However, I have been loosely outlining book 5 in the series (which would take place only a couple years later) and I have another one planned thereafter.  Both of those books will feature prominent people from history and will follow the same format.  Prince will be a few years older, but hopefully a bit wiser.  I also have plans to publish work under other author names in both the fiction and non-fiction category.  

I have limited time in my day for social media and updates, so I don’t maintain a website as C.K. Shackleton or a Twitter account, but people can find me on Instagram and Facebook where I share updates and news on projects I am putting out there: 
Instagram – @ckshackletonauthor    Facebook – @C.K. Shackleton
They are always welcome to reach out to me through those mediums.