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….

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 #12 with…filmmaker/writer Leah Solmaz

“Everyone has the ability and capability to do anything. It takes self-belief and patience. That goes hand-in-hand with living your truth. Always create with yourself in mind. Create what you want then if people resonate with it… bonus!”

Introduce yourself.

Hello guys, girls, non-bines, I am Leah Solmaz. I’m primarily an actress, filmmaker, and writer, but I dabble in a lot of other creative activities too. I am currently based in Lichfield, Staffordshire but I’m originally from Birmingham, West Midlands, UK. I lived in County Cavan, Ireland for 9 years and completed the majority of my schooling there. Having lived in both a large, bustling city and a small, country village seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it has definitely given me a broad perspective on life. I’ve definitely experienced the best of both worlds, so to speak and I think it’s helped ground me as a person.

Tell me about your Theosight digital series.

‘Theosight’ is a UK based, comedy, horror, web series that we hope to make sometime next year. I’m the writer, producer, and I also act in it. 

The logline: “Theo’s a skeptic. Riley’s optimistic. Shaun’s dead.”

We released the pilot episode on Halloween which sets up the premise for the series. It was directed and shot by my good friend, Matthew Wood, and stars the amazing Kiah Reeves (The House of Screaming Death, 2017) as Riley, Alex Bourne (writer and director of Clownface, 2019) as Shaun, and myself as Theo. The cast of the pilot also features Lewis Clift (BBC’s Doctors), Craig Godwin aka Fingaz MC, Roger David Francis (The House of Screaming Death), and the very lovely Debbie Brannon as Peg … my favourite characters, in all honesty. Behind the scenes, we had Farhaan S. Sadiq on sound, the brilliant Hans Michael Anselmo Hess composed the music, and we were very lucky to feature the song ‘My Reflection’ by the American/Canadian rock band DeBendetta.

The premise is very much this … Theo, is a grouchy, skeptical woman who discovers she is, in fact, psychic after a strange man follows her home from work one night. That man is Shaun. Shaun is dead. Theo’s charmingly optimistic, roommate, Riley, then comes up with the bright idea to set up a Supernatural Private Investigation service. With the help of a rag-tag bunch of friends they do just that and open themselves up to a world of monsters, ghouls, and demons.
It is very much an ode to one of my favourite, childhood films, ‘The Monster Squad’, and also pays homage to TV shows such as ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’, ‘Charmed’, and ‘Scooby Doo’ … believe it or not. I love the fact that in each of those, the main character could never have succeeded without the help of their comrades. 
We genuinely hope people will enjoy it once it’s made and we’ve already received some great feedback from the pilot which you can totally check out for free here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAJCND9EcLw
You can also find and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Where did the idea for your novel Nexus: Book One come from? Any plans for Book Two (or another novel)?

So 5 years ago, or it could be 6, in all honesty, but we’ll stick to 5, I had this crazy idea to write and illustrate a dark-fantasy graphic novel. I’m a huge lover of comic books and graphic novels and being in my naïve, mid-twenties I thought to myself … I can do that. Throw in work and other commitments, I found it hard to find time to sit down and actually draw. I’d written half a script for it and planned out thirty to forty pages’ worth of panels but that’s as far as I ever got with it.
The story, as it is now, is very different from how I intended for the graphic novel. Initially, the character of Brianna, was going to be a police detective and Dax, was an unlucky guy who had found himself entangled with some dark characters. There was going to inevitably be a splash of the supernatural in there, but yeah it’s definitely not the same story as I originally planned.
So, having realized just how much time a graphic novel was going to take, and taking from my primary love of filmmaking I then (again rather naively) thought I could turn it into a feature film. I got halfway with the script and realized in order to make it, I’d need a ridiculous budget and I wasn’t willing to change any of it to ensure it could be made cost-effectively.
It was very much put on the back burner until the summer of 2018 which is coincidentally the same time that I came up with the idea for ‘Theosight’. I’d sustained a back injury that meant I actually couldn’t work for 5 months. In being such a creative person, I needed something to take my mind off of the fact that I could barely hobble from my bed to the lounge and back again. 
I stumbled (maybe literally) upon a lot of my old notebooks and came across the graphic novel script for Nexus. I bought a new notebook and whether or not it was painkiller induced, I decided to change everything about the story. I’d always written short stories growing up and I’d always had the itch to write a book so it just clicked. It meant I could tell the story I wanted to without compromising elements for a feature film and the words seemed to flow easier and quicker than sitting down and drawing. It was gloriously serendipitous. I just started writing. Chapter one. Chapter two … three, four … before I knew it I’d made my way to chapter seven.
I was feeling extremely nostalgic being holed up in a small, city apartment and the physical limitations I was experiencing at the time, I’d sort of found myself longing for the open countryside of Ireland so that greatly influenced the world-building side of things and definitely shaped the premise of transporting Brianna from the mundane to the fantastical. For those months, I very much lived vicariously through Brianna, hence turning her into a waitress … I have that on my work resume. 
For anyone with a keen eye, you can very much identify the influences of the book. I definitely drew from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and also from ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ but I also have a fascination with the occult and demonology and the concept of angels and devils battling each other for our immortal souls. Nexus is very much an amalgamation of those elements.
It wasn’t until meeting the fantastic, horror writing twins C L Raven, who worked on a feature film I was acting in, Clownface, that I decided to self-publish and they played a huge part in getting Nexus: Book One made. I will forever love them for that. 
I am currently working on the sequel and can honestly say that it’ll be bigger, better, and darker than the first book. 

What challenges do you face as both an indie author and filmmaker?  What specific advantages do you have being involved in both creative realms?

My biggest challenge being indie in both fields is and has been working a day job. I would love to get to the point of replacing the day job with either field. That is definitely the goal but I guess the pros of my current circumstances is valuing time. 
Another pro of being indie is also having creative control. Especially in regards to the writing side of things. With film, if we’re looking at the behind the scenes side of things, you haven’t got to jump through massive hoops in order to make a film, which if you were looking for a larger, more mainstream studio or production company to get a film made, you certainly would which runs the risk of changing the initial story you want to tell. The downside of that is the scheduling side of things, and organizing shoot days to suit everyone involved but it makes it so much easier to have a great cast and crew. So far, I’ve been lucky in the fact that everyone I’ve worked with, in front of or behind the camera has been truly amazing. 
The same applies for self-publishing I’ve found. It’s always good to run your manuscript past an editor to see if there are elements that don’t work but ultimately, it’s your call at the end of the day. With writing a book, bar working with an editor or artist, I do enjoy the working alone aspect which makes the whole process of it very therapeutic. The final product is definitely rewarding. It’s almost an extension of yourself and I think most authors feel a sense of pride and ecstasy in realizing that. 
Working in film, you learn the show don’t tell aspect which has helped in writing Nexus and as an actor, its helped me hone dialogue that is supposed to be spoken. I do tend to read aloud a piece of dialogue to make sure it sounds authentic to a character. Authentic dialogue makes it easier for the audience, film or book, to relate to a character. 

Who or what inspires your creativity?

Life inspires me, as cliche as that sounds. People, places, and very much the unknown of it all too. I’m big into spiritualism, philosophy, psychology, and I enjoy learning about ancient cultures. Literally anything and everything. As gloomy as life may seem at times it’s also so awesome. I think we just have to look a bit harder at times but it’s there. Magic is everywhere. 

Twenty years down the road, what do you want people to take away from your body of creative work? 

I’d like to inspire others to take up whatever creative field they want to pursue. Nothing is impossible. Everyone has the ability and capability to do anything. It takes self-belief and patience. That goes hand in hand with living your truth. Always create with yourself in mind. Create what you want then if people resonate with it… bonus! The fun is very much in the creative stage. Another thing I’d like to inspire in people is to support and promote each other. Creativity is not a competition. It’s a game and like most games the more people the more fun there is to be had. Right? Can I trademark that line? 

What are your upcoming projects?

I have a few feature films lined up, in front of and behind the camera. Advent: A Christmas Anthology, in which I act and I believe it’ll be released around this time next year. Shock Value: Body Horror which is another anthology-style film. I’ll be teaming up with Alex Bourne for one of the stories in that. We are also collaborating on a separate feature and hopefully begin the pre-production stage sometime next year. 
We will be launching a crowd funder sometime in the spring to help get Theosight made. 
I have a couple of short films, acting-wise too. The Other, which is a dramatic piece directed by Will Bradshaw. The second short, I don’t think I can reveal too much about it as of yet but I’m looking forward to working with some familiar faces on that one, from Advent and Clownface. 
In between all of that I’d really like to focus more on my store and fingers crossed, design an awesome collection. I’ll also be finishing Nexus: Book Two and hopefully publishing it mid to late next year.
I say hopefully and fingers crossed to all of that considering this year’s unprecedented guest. 

Where can readers/viewers find you and your work?

Well if anyone is looking for an off-the-wall, dark-fantasy, adventure book then they can find Nexus: Book One here: https://www.azonlinks.com/1656109433

Or follow me on social media

Twitter … https://www.twitter.com/leahsolmaz

 Instagram … https://www.instagram.com/leahsolmaz

Facebook … https://www.facebook.com/theonly.leah...

LinkedIn … https://www.linkedin.com/in/leah-solmaz-4844121aa/

For everything else check out my website…https://www.leahsolmaz.com/

Thank you, Leah!! Be sure to check out her work AND her Author/Filmmaker Series of interviews (which I was honoured to be a part of and then, in turn, was inspired to start The Innovators!)

The Innovators #11 with…The Innovators (aka Interview with the Blog)

Now that The Innovators has ten interviews under its belt and has grown a small (but loyal) audience, it has started to take on a life of its own and has requested that the writer interview It this week. Never being one to turn down an interview request, the writer has obliged. So here we go….

Introduce yourself.

Hi! I’m The Innovators, a weekly interview series that focuses on indie creatives. I came into existence a few months back and since then I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing ten incredibly talented artists, including musicians Gerry Weaver and Preston Bell, writer/poet Jared Kane and indie authors Julia DeBarrioz, Eme Savage, Darren Edden, Billy Middleton, Lee Vockins, RJ Jacobs and Eric Woods.

What drives you, Innovators Blog? What inspires you to do this work?

I’m inspired by creativity! I have an affinity for artists, for their art. I think creation is a human superpower (next to love, of course). Art is a balm to all the hurts of humanity and those who create art need to be supported and encouraged in their continuing quests to bring their imaginings to life. It takes a unique sort of courage to share one’s art, to share those thoughts, feelings, ideas that often come from the darkest, quietest parts of one’s soul and offer it up to the rest of the world for comment or criticism. I wish to play a postive role (albeit a small one) in helping artists, particularly indie authors, to gain exposure and confidence in their work and perhaps themselves too. I want them to know that they are supported, they are heard, they are seen, they are important.

What’s the hardest part about being a blog?

Finding readers, finding an audience, for sure, that’s the toughest part! I am just a small platform, with a small voice. Hopefully, over time, more and more people will see my posts and will share it on their platforms and my audience will grow from there. I really want to get the artists I feature out in front of as many eyes as I possibly can.

Upcoming interviews?

Well, I’m excited to have my first indie filmmaker interview coming up next week with Leah Solmaz and after that, two more talented indie authors: CK Shakleton and Patrick D. Kaiser! I am hoping to continue the writer streak into the new year. I think interviews with John Meredith, MG Unger, Jason Rogers, Tanis Justice, Slate Raven, Freddie Ahlin and O.S. Williams would be cool.

Where can readers find you?

They can find me every Wednesday right here on this blog (www.melanie-ever-moore.com) and on Melanie Ever Moore’s Instagram @m.ever.moore and on her Facebook writer’s page: Realign My Stars (speaking of which, she should probably change that name soon. I mean really, it should have been changed to “The Innovators” months ago….)

Thanks, Innovators Blog!!

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 #9 with…author RJ Jacobs

Clear writing awakens a sense of recognition for me and brings a richer understanding of the lives going on around me.

Introduce yourself and your books.

I’m RJ Jacobs, a psychologist and author in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve published two novels: And Then You Were Gone (2019) and Somewhere in the Dark, which came out in August. I’ve lived in Nashville since 2003 and see patients as part of a multi-speciality medical practice.

What came first in your life: writing or psychology? 

I actually started out as an English major as an undergraduate at University of Florida, then switched to Psychology in my Sophomore year. Still, I really enjoyed writing and kept on when I had time, usually on breaks. Of course I had no idea how to construct a story when I was starting out but, the early experience in finding a rhythm to my writing and creating a habit of putting words down became really helpful later on. 

How does your role as a psychologist influence your role as a writer? 

Clinical work is always interesting. One thing I can say that’s a real advantage of being a psychologist: the day-to-day is never dull. Stories I hear sometimes stimulate my imagination. I don’t want patients to think I’m transcribing what they say into my novels, because obviously I wouldn’t, but I have to admit some of what I’ve heard has started me thinking, “what if . . .”

How does your role as a writer influence your role as a psychologist?

There’s a psychotherapeutic technique called narrative therapy that essentially helps patients transform difficult experiences by re-imagining them, by seeing contexts differently, and by encouraging greater sense of imagination and creativity in developing outcomes. I’d like to think that being a writer has helped my therapy work by giving me a clearer sense of how to guide a process like that. 

How do you find the time to write novels AND maintain a private practice?  What is your writing/ creative process?

Finding time is one of the biggest challenges. There’s always so much to do! I live with my family which helps balance my perspective but also is a tremendous time commitment. Sometimes, I have to write what I can, or whenever there’s a free moment. There was an evening last year when I wrote in the hallway of my daughter’s middle school while she was cheerleading by using the notes function of my iPhone. You just have to do your best and try to get something accomplished even if it’s minimal progress. Usually the best times for my writing are early in the morning or in the evenings, when my kids do their homework. Sometimes it seems like we each find a quiet space to do our own “homework.”

Besides psychology, what else influences and drives your writing?   Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired constantly, particularly by contemporary writers who capture American culture in ways that I’ve observed before but had never named in my own mind. Clear writing awakens a sense of recognition for me and brings a richer understanding of the lives going on around me. I had that sense when I read Angie Kim’s novel, Miracle Creek, last year. There were paragraphs in her book I read repeatedly to make sure I was fully taking them in. I’m reading Leave the World Behind, right now, and have a similar feeling. I like reading the work of writers who are simply better than I am. 

Most self-published authors would love to know how you got your books published by a traditional publisher.  Please share your secret!

I lucked out by connecting with an incredible agent, Rachel Ekstrom Courage, who is with Folio Literary Agency. When I was starting out, I didn’t understand the difference between writing and publishing, and she’s helped guide me along the way. 

As a traditionally published novelist, how does your marketing work?  Does your publisher handle it?  Do you?  Or is it a mix of both?  

It’s a mix of both. Working with Crooked Lane has been fantastic. At the same time, I’m always trying to find new ways of marketing the books. There are a lot of books in the world and people have limited time to read, so discoverability is the challenge for most writers. This year has been especially tricky because in-person events have either been cancelled of reimagined in virtual formats. Still, people are continuing to read, which is an advantage writers have over say, filmmakers or musicians. I’m in Nashville, and I know a number of musicians who are having a tough time not being able to play shows. It’s hard, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully we’ll all use this time to get better at what we do. 

What is your best advice to struggling writers who want to throw in the towel after receiving yet another rejection letter for their work.

I think the secret is to find a writing process that’s enjoyable and repeat it over and over again. Rejection is part of it, for sure. It’s not personal. Writers do well when they’re able to hear feedback non-defensively and try to incorporate it into their storytelling. 

What do you most want readers to take from your books?  Do you recommend your books to clients or leave them on a table in your office?

I’ve given away a few copies to patients who are interested, but my writing rarely comes up, to be honest. The focus in my office is on the patient and most of the time there’s no reason to get into my ambitions as a writer. 

I hope readers find the stories moving and fun to read at the same time. Enjoyment, I’ve learned this year, is a need

What upcoming projects do you have in the works?  Where can readers find you?

Right now I’m writing a book set in the evacuated Florida Keys following a hurricane. The main character is a former horror movie actress searching for her family. As the story unfolds, she starts to suspect the circumstances resemble the film she starred in. A lot of people are intrigued by horror as a genre, but the book is written as a psychological suspense/thriller novel. In the same way that The Woman in Cabin 10 isn’t about the cruise ship industry, horror films and their conventions provide more of a backdrop for the story. It should be a lot of fun. 

I’m easy to find on my website: RJJacobsauthor.com or on Instagram @rjjacobs75 or on Facebook. 

Thanks, RJ!!