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.”

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.  

The Innovators #10 with…author Eric Woods

It takes time, hard work, and patience as an indie,
and we should never give up on something we love.

Introduce yourself and your books.

Hi, my name is Eric Woods. I am an independent multi-genre author who has published three novels: Pummeled (2018), Dragon’s Blood (2019) and Welcome to Oblivion (2020) along with a collection of stage plays (Playing with the Macabre – 2020) which were written between 1997 and 2003. My interest in writing began in third grade when my class was given the assignment of writing a short story. I became hooked on creating fictional worlds ever since.

Tell me about “The Amalgam”

The Amalgam is the universe by which my stories live and breathe, and the ultimate plan is to publish 10 novels within this universe. I also included the play collection as part of The Amalgam, as characters from several of those pieces will pop in from time to time in the novels. The Amalgam was inspired by a couple things – the Stephen King Dark Tower universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Both tell multiple tales but they all occur within the same world, there is a supreme antagonist that oversees the chaos, and many stories and characters come together at the end. The Amalgam will culminate with the 10th novel, where many characters from the other stories come together to face off with the primary antagonist of the universe.

You’ve written in both the drama and horror genres. Which do you most prefer to write in? To read? Why?

My dream as a writer has always been to write in the horror and suspense genres. I grew up on 1980’s slasher films and have loved horror movies since I was a kid. In grade school when we were assigned to write short stories in class, I always went with a scary and suspenseful story. It is just what I have always been drawn to. Horror is also my preferred choice when reading, although I have expanded my choices in the last year as I have gotten to know more and more independent authors. With PUMMELED (my first novel), I took a somewhat personal approach and used themes that were personal to me. That book was somewhat of a release for me, but it also shattered a decades long feeling that I couldn’t complete a full-length novel.

Who or what inspires your writing/creativity?

Stephen King is my horror inspiration. I read Pet Sematary in middle school and was hooked after that. I am also fascinated by dreams. Both Welcome to Oblivion and my next novel were initially inspired by dreams. With WTO, I recall a dream of being lost inside a dark, giant mansion and not being able to find my way out. I felt the presence of something following me but saw only a shadow.

You are a great supporter of other indie authors. Tell me what draws you to support other writers and why do you think it’s important to do so?

I do not see other indie authors as competition. I know how hard it is to get noticed as an author. It is not only a challenge just completing the first draft of a story, but the tiresome, never-ending process of editing, revising, and finding others willing to read and give feedback is an intense process. Followed up with the actual publishing procedure, and authors have already put in endless hours just in the hopes of getting a few eyes on their work. Independent authors and artists love their creations, and it is likely that they have been discouraged by others as they hone their craft. If I can help them along the way, that is what I will do.

What is your biggest challenge in being an indie? How do you overcome it (or have you/can you)?

As with any independent author, artist, singer, etc., the challenge is getting people to notice your work. There are literally thousands of independent authors around the world with easier access to self-publish now than ever before. So, the challenge is growing a fanbase who can find your work and take a chance. It is also a challenge being able to put up with rejections and bad reviews. The only way to overcome any challenges is to fight through them and not become too discouraged. It takes time, hard work, and patience as an indie, and we should never give up on something we love.

What is your superpower? What is your writing kryptonite?

I believe my superpower is being able to create unique, entertaining, and chilling stories that leave my readers wanting more. My kryptonite is time. It took me decades to finally break the barrier and finish my first novel, and I write whenever I have free time. But free time is not always the easiest thing to come by. Along with my full-time job, I am also a freelance writer. During the months of March through October, I serve as the tour guide for the local Lincoln Ghost Walk several nights a week.

What are your upcoming projects?

I will publish my 4th novel, Clippings, in March. It is uniquely formatted and not your traditional tale. The chapters are written in various forms of media communication (newspaper articles, blog posts, newscast transcripts, e-mails, etc.). I am even recruiting people who wish to have their images appear in the articles as “characters.” My 5th novel (PUMMELED: Submission) is tentatively scheduled for a Thanksgiving 2021 release. I am still working on the first draft of that one.

Where can readers find you?

At: www.ericwoodsauthor.com on Instagram @eric_woods_author and on Facebook

Thanks Eric!!

The Innovators #7 with…author Lee Vockins

Introduce yourself and your books.

Yo, I’m Lee (also known as Lee A. Vockins). I’m a published writer, independent author and soon-to-be accredited life coach. For the past two years I had a novella available on Amazon (The Hunter: Monster Within), but it is currently unpublished so I can make some major changes. Although a successful release, it wasn’t quite up to my recent standards or writing ability. Us creatives are fickle creatures, right? Always striving for perfection.

Tell me about your book, The Hunter: Monster Within

The Hunter: Monster Within is a dark fantasy tale of monsters and magic and hope. It follows the journey of the enigmatic Azerius, and his inner struggle for power. He hunts those that lurk in the shadow, but only by harnessing something dark within himself. He has some interesting friends; oddities, supernatural and mysterious, much like himself. In my introduction to the series, Monster Within, Azerius embarks on the ultimate hunt. A challenge, perhaps, but something far more sinister waits just beyond. A challenge that he never could have anticipated… himself.

I wrote this book when I was going through a lot of struggle. It was my anchor and my means to vent. There’s a lot of darkness within, but it comes from somewhere true. On the surface, it’s a gore-smothered dark fantasy, but beneath, it’s a story about embracing difference, and those that are different. It’s a story of finding strength and hope, no matter how bad that inner struggle may seem.

Unfortunately, the re-write of the book isn’t quite ready yet, but it is in the works, and is looking more like what I intended it to be.

What role does creativity play in your life? What other creative ventures / hobbies do you have besides writing? Who or what inspires you?

Creativity, I find, is something that I must do, and I’m sure that many others can relate with this. It’s part of my being. My mind is always coming up with new ideas that I just need to put to page. It’s my vent and my escape, but also the thing that makes me feel most alive.

I have written in many forms over my years; game design, poetry, music. I have also played guitar since I was about 18 and I like to paint now and again (although I’m not very good). I love photography, especially when I’m out walking among nature, as many have probably seen on my Instagram. Oh, and graphic design, narration, and video editing. So, I’m quite the creative…

And who and what inspires me? My simple answer to this would be anything and everything. The world and all the souls on it. Nature. History. Books. Art. TV and movies and music. However, one of my biggest influences for my writing is H. P. Lovecraft. I grew up reading the Nerconomicon and all the tales of C’thulu, and you’ll probably see that reflect among my works of fiction.

You are open about your mental health struggles on your blog. Tell me why you feel that is important to be open about, to write about, to share.

I feel that it’s important for me to be open about my mental health because I need people to know that there is light in the darkness. I need people to know that there is every chance of getting back to a positive state of mind, no matter how lost they may feel. I’m hoping that by reading about some of my personal struggles, and how I got to where I am now, they will continue to fight.

I also want to push through a lot of the stigma out there surrounding the subject. Like, medication is bad for you or men aren’t allowed to show emotion or cry… these constructed mentalities need to stop, because they are dangerous for the people that are struggling. It’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to just be yourself.

You identify as a Stoic. Tell me why. What role does Stoicism play in your writing/creativity?

I’ve been studying philosophy for about a year now, and among the ancient philosophy’s, Stoicism has resonated with me the most. The main reason for this, I believe, is that it builds upon much of what I have already practiced. Stoicism has influenced much of modern-day talking therapies, and as such, the study of it caught my interest. I already knew much of it, without the knowledge of its origin.

The philosophy helps me with my focus, routine, and ability to control my emotion. It enforces a daily ritual of self-reflection. It has taught me to let go of objects and relationships that weren’t serving my potential. It has taught me to accept fate and know that everything happens for a reason.

And that’s just the surface of it; I could talk about this subject for hours. But, for purposes of my creativity, it has mainly helped me with my daily routine and my confidence. One of the main points of Stoicism is to realise what we can and cannot control. So, what I can control is the effort I put into my work. What I cannot control is how others will perceive it. This gives me great confidence in my work because I know that everything that I do is to my potential. I have done what I can, the rest is up to fate.

What is the best part about being an indie writer for you? The hardest/most frustrating part?

I love being an indie writer. I love the absolute freedom to create and not having to worry about what might appeal to the mainstream. I absolutely write for me, and that is a powerful feeling. I love the marketing and business side of it. I love connecting with the community and developing new ideas to promote with them.

Have to be honest, I’m just having fun with it. I haven’t found anything hard or frustrating… yet.

If you got locked in a library overnight what section would you be found sleeping in? What books will be surrounding you?

That’s a difficult one. So much choice! My taste in books is extremely broad. But, to make the most out of being locked in a library, I would probably be found in the philosophy section. There is still much about the subject that I wish to learn and many philosophers that I am yet to learn from.

What upcoming projects are you working on? Where can readers find you and your work?

Aside from The Hunter: Monster Within, I am also working on the follow up book to the series. I like to write as ideas come to me, so always have multiple projects on the go. In terms of fiction, I also have a short story and poetry collection that I’m putting together.

Alongside all this, I’m writing some non-fic on self-care, incorporating my knowledge and experience of philosophy, psychology, and spirituality. I don’t like to put dates on the releases of anything, but I will definitely have something out by the end of next year.

You can find me and my work on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads.

My Website is http://www.lavockins.com.

Thanks Lee!! Looking forward to your next releases!

The Innovators with…..author Eme’ Savage

Introduce yourself and your books.

I am Eme Savage author of The Genesis Chronicles. I write soulful fantasy with mysticism, magic, and mayhem. “Echoes of the Gidat” is my debut novel about a King with unnatural powers, the genocide of the Gidat, and a boy who is the subject of the Third Prophecy. “Tetarul Parallel” is the second book in the series about a young woman with a dark past who comes into possession of a magically enhanced book which will show her the role she is to play in the Prophecy. I also have a short story called “Elegy of the Gidat” which is also part of the Genesis Universe.

Tell me about The Genesis Chronicles: when was its “genesis” and where do you think the story/world/characters came from? What inspired them? What draws you to them?

I love that! There are two timelines that are woven together throughout the series. The Genesis Timeline is the one that came to me first. I grew up on 80 acres of woods and farmland. There is a crik that ran through our property. We would go down there and look for fossils and artifacts. I imagined what it might have been like for the first people who lived here and the story ran from there.

The Omega Timeline came later. The characters took on a life of their own, as they often do. I am drawn to really soulful, philosophical tales that focus on the idea that there is something bigger than ourselves at work. Each story is part of a larger arc but has a theme within them that pertained to a certain time in my life. “Echoes” is about the loss of innocence and finding your purpose. “Tetarul” is about knowing your worth and overcoming trauma. I’m still working out the main themes for my current WIP, but I wanted to bring my own voice as a person with a disability to the table. I am drawn to complex characters mostly because I’m a complex character. Epic fantasy is so often about good vs evil, but the reality is there are shades of gray in everyone. The villain believes they are the hero of their own story, and the heroes aren’t always pure with their intentions. I’m drawn to characters who make mistakes, have insecurities, and they all at the end of the day want to be seen for who they really are. 

As for the world? Worldbuilding is relaxing. I can get lost in developing topography, culture, language, and history for hours. I put a quote from the various books that exist in this world and the beginning of each chapter. I would love to read the Tome of Torcici. It’s quoted quite often. I’ll let you know when I write it. I’m endlessly researching how prehistoric tech might have worked and how people might have lived in that time period. It feels familiar because it is earth-like, but there are notable differences in the world I created. Magic is real, there are sentient beings other than humans, and there are floating islands. I believe that if you build a good world, that the characters will come from that environment and then the plot will drive itself forward.

Why fantasy? What draws you to write in that genre?

Fantasy provides an unrestricted way to process the world. Mental leaps come when we allow ourselves to imagine the improbable or the impossible. I end up in the most interesting places when I allow my mind to wander. I put myself in other people’s shoes and try to understand where they are coming from and what circumstances led them there. I take complex ideas, and issues and process them through the lens of fantasy. Such reflection has led me to a more positive and peaceful place. Don’t we all do that when we watch shows and read stories? Well, maybe not everything. Sometimes an escape from reality is just that, an escape. And that’s a good thing too. Reality can be too much at times.

What role does creativity play in your life? Besides writing, what other creative pursuits do you pursue? Who or what inspires you?

The act of creation is everything. If I can create in whatever form, then I have a sense of well-being. I have been sewing almost as long as I have been writing. There is something soothing about the feel of fabric, the crinkle of pattern paper, and the detailed work necessary to give the project something unique. I specifically enjoy costume design. I was the costume designer for youth theater programs for five years. I put together over 500 costumes in those years, everything from Hairspray to Addams Family. Right now I’m creating a cosplay of one of my iconic characters, The Lady. I’m posting once a week on Wednesdays showing the process I’m going through to get it ready in time for Halloween. I would say my Ma has a lot to do with my love of costumes. She was not a consummate sewist, but she found ways to make these elaborate costumes. My favorite was when I was a peacock. It was a blue sweater with blue tights. She handstitched peacock feathers to my backside, and to a band on my head, created a beak out of painted cardboard, and put my Da’s yellow farm gloves on my feet.

What is the best part of being an indie author?  What is the most difficult part of being indie for you?  What is the best piece of advice you can give to aspiring indie authors?

The best part is the amount of control I have over my work. I decide how it should look, what the content should be, and how much I want to charge. But the best part is interacting with readers. It feels intimate and wonderful. It tickles me to no end when someone pulls a quote out of my novels and tells me what they got out of it. It surprises me every single time. The worst part right now is marketing. It’s a steep learning curve, but I will find a way to master it like I have all the other parts of the writing process. The best advice I can give to aspiring indie authors is to not compare your work with someone else’s. Comparison is the death of creativity. The only thing you should be comparing your work to is your previous work. We are all at different places in our journey. We should be viewing that as something to aspire to, and not a commentary on how much we have yet to do or that we are somehow lacking. You are doing great! Keep going! You absolutely got this! The writing community is so helpful. Sure there are a few bad apples out there, but for the most part, people are so helpful and encouraging. We need that since writing is such a lonely profession. 

What is your superpower? Do you use it for good or evil?

Connecting ideas and things that don’t seem to connect at first glance. I found I have a knack for predicting the socioeconomic effects of public policy. And yes, I did use it for good. I wrote a series of articles on austerity policies, jobless recoveries, tax policies, monetary and fiscal policies, and the global economy.

What was your favourite childhood book or author? How did it/ they influence as a child? And now as an adult?

This one is easy. Madeleine L’Engle is my all-time most influential author. My 4th-grade teacher read “A Wrinkle in Time” to us and I was hooked. That was when I started writing fantasy and SciFi. I loved how the mystical, fantastical, and scientific would intersect in her world. The Time Quintet is the finest series out there. It was true then and it is true now. She was a true pioneer. Women writing science fiction/fantasy was not that common, and having a female protagonist was even less common. “Many Waters” is my favorite. It is a Noah’s Ark retelling, and that sparked my imagination. I reread the novels years later, and I was stunned at how much her writing influenced my style.

What upcoming projects are you working on? What do you want readers to take away from your books? Where can readers find you?

Right now I’m revising the third novel in my series called “Mirror of Ettek”. It picks up where “Tetarul” leaves off with imminent war on the horizon in the Omega Timeline and the aftermath of the Beast Attack in the Genesis Timeline. Both MCs have endured serious physical injuries and are looking for a way to cope. Sakedos possesses a magically enhanced Mirror. He hopes to glean some significant insight into his own situation by watching Vitos’ story unfold. 

I plan on drafting the Scifi companion novel during NaNoWriMo. It will dovetail into the fantasy series. We will learn more about Etevun, the Gidat Tree, Mercy, and the Voice. I have a working title for it, but we’ll see where it goes. I’m very excited about this idea. 

I want you to think about them long after you put the books down. I want at least one idea in there to stick with you and keep you awake pondering the deeper meaning of life. Every reader has taken something different away from these books, and that is what I find so interesting. People from different walks of life and different parts of the world finding their truth in these pages.

You can find me on Instagram and Twitter under the handle @eme_savage, on Facebook as eme.savage, Goodreads as Eme Savage, and both books can be found here: Amazon.com as an ebook, paperback, and on Kindle Unlimited. 

A season without doubt

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No one doubts my abilities more than me. No one. Every idea that pops into my head gets over-analyzed and shot full of holes, usually to the point of death, before it even gets to see the light of day.

For the past year, one of those thoughts has been about stepping up my indie game and starting to help other independent artists in my own little way through social media promotion.  My doubts about the size of my social media reach and my ability to actually help anyone get noticed (I mean I can bearly help myself in getting my own books sold and my own poems read so what in the world would I have to offer to someone else!?) constantly got in the way.  But then recently, I was interviewed by an indie with her own little social media reach and it made me realize one really important detail that I had been forgetting:  quality is more important than quantity. 

Having one person – just ONE genuine, interested person, offer support to you and your work IS enoughThousands of followers on social media doesn’t necessarily equate to thousands of supporters of your work, it doesn’t necessarily equate to thousands of sales or reviews of your books.  In a world where everything is a numbers game (get more likes, more followers, more comments!) this idea runs contrary to what most people believe, but believe me, it’s true.

For me, that one interview equated to a higher level of support than all the “likes” I had ever received on Instagram. The invitation to be interviewed (someone was interested in me?  In my work? ) was a much-welcomed and, honestly much needed, ego boost that has supported me in a spiritual and emotional sense so much more than in a physical (book sales) sort of way.

Being an indie writer (or musician, or poet or artist in any shape or form) is really hard!  Self-promotion is really hard!  I’ve been doing it for a year and a half now and have often found myself feeling alone and adrift in an ocean of other indies, unable to swim or navigate the waters of self-promotion as well as others seem to be, and sometimes I’ve bearly been able to even keep my head above the water as the thought of quitting the whole indie scene, of giving up my writing, has occurred to me more than once.

So, with all of that said and all of that realized, and with that much-welcomed injection of support and inspiration still running fresh through my veins, I am finally going ahead and doing what I’ve been thinking about doing for the past year now: I’m starting up my own series of indie interviews and social media promotion.

The Innovators will be a bi-weekly series of interviews with indie authors, poets, musicians, and artists and it will start in September via this blog and my Instagram and Facebook pages!

I hope you will join me!

My books are FREE this weekend!

P_20200710_080428All of my book babies are FREE this weekend!! 🖤💙(Friday thru Sunday). Find the books here:  my Amazon Author’s Page.

I would love to find some new readers and get some more reviews, especially for my Hope Quest books (Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird and Hope Quest book 2: The Lightning), a YA, supernatural, coming of age series about 14 year old Hope, an unusual girl who speaks in a whisper and occasionally pulls stars from the sky, and her motley group of friends, whose search for Hope’s strange origins takes them to STARfest, a rock festival, where they find enigmatic musician Blackbird and discover his dark connection to Hope.

I also have two poetry and dance photography collections (I’ve worked as a children’s photographer for the last decade): Elegant Execution and The Stars Went Out.

So, if you are looking a summer read or two (or four!), please check out my books and consider leaving a review if you liked them! I would be forever appreciative. Those reviews are gold for indie authors like me!!! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟