Q&A Thursday with M.P. McVey!

Today’s Q&A Thursday is with author M.P. McVey! Enjoy & Comment!!

What is the worst thing you’ve written, how did you learn or know it was bad, and what did you learn from it?

Oh, god … there have been so many terrible things that I’ve written. If I had to decide on the absolute worst thing that I’ve written, though, I’d have to say that it was a short story I wrote in the first grade.

I was a huge fan of Indiana Jones, and I thought the most original story ever written would be a sort of parody of Indiana Jones. In the story, my little brother Kevin (having always been the guinea pig and muse for all of my early, creative ventures) is Indiana Jones and is involved in some sort of adventure. It ended in the traditional, Bob Newhart fashion of, and it was all just a dream.

At the time, I thought it was absolutely amazing. I was never short of confidence in those days. It wasn’t until middle school that I learned that I really wasn’t as cool, smart, or amazing as I always thought I was.

I think we learn a bit from everything we write, whether it be good or bad in the end. Over the years I’ve learned to be patient with my writing. It has taking me nearly a decade to get Plod On, Sleepless Giant to the point where I feel it’s ready, and there were far too many times when walking away seemed like the best option.

Why did you start writing and when did you decide to go professional?

I think I first started writing as a way to get the stories out that I always thought should have been written. As a kid, I was a movie fanatic and still am today. There were far too many ideas that I thought would have been awesome to see on the screen, but they never came. I guess I thought it was up to me to write those stories, even if they ended up only being read by myself.

I decide to go professional shortly after my brief stint in college. I was going to school to major in English with the idea of perhaps teaching. I took a lot of composition classes and the teachers gave me a lot of praise and direction. I thought more and more about writing and decided that I might as well go for it, rather than regret it later in life.

Do you write in more than one genre? Which ones and which do you like the best?

I look forward to a point in time when genre sort of slips away. I write in a grey area of genre, where they all come together and mingle, like at a dinner party. I write what would be considered fantasy and science fiction, but I also dabble a bit with horror and humor, and all the little crossovers in between. I guess I just like writing, and the story I’m telling dictates the genre it will fall in. As far as a favorite, I suppose I don’t have one.

Do you read other author’s books while you are writing? If so, do you read the same genre or something different?

I love reading, but I find it hard to read anything while I am writing. I take little breaks from writing, when I feel like I hit a wall and have no way around it. In those times I tend to read more. I try not read anything too similar to what I’m writing; I don’t want to be influenced too heavily by another writer’s story.

What is the most difficult part of the entire writing process for you? Queries, pitches, editing, etc.

I would have too vehemently say that the querying is the most difficult thing for me. I hate summarizing a book into a concise yet catchy two paragraphs. With Plod On, Sleepless Giant it felt nearly impossible. I spent roughly two months trying to iron out a query letter that made any sense and I don’t think I ever accomplished that. It’s not surprising that there are editors out there that get paid to merely write query letters for writers like me that have no clue how to do so properly.

Bio:
M.P. McVey is the author of the contemporary fantasy Plod On, Sleepless Giant. He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his girlfriend, Laura, and a one-eyed cat with a deviated septum named Stanley. He is currently working on his second novel.

Blurb:
The world is not as it seems …

At the center of our world lives an elephant. Ancient and alone, he’s chained to a great wooden wheel—turning our rock as it glides through space. But what would happen if he were to stop? What would become of all we know and love on the surface?

All that stands between Earth and its downfall is a sole Watcher—beings tasked with guarding all in creation. Sent on a fool’s mission, he must gather humans from the surface that somehow play a role in our world’s destruction.

But from one mistake, a decision is made … an opportunity taken. When insurmountable forces align against humanity, it seems all will be lost. Can it be stopped in time? Can wrongs be righted? Can we be saved?
Twitter: @mpmcvey

Q&A with…me, Jenn Nixon!

I asked for some questions to answer. Feel free to add more questions in the comments and I’ll update. 🙂

Here you go!

Chet C asks: How much emphasis do you put on research when you write?

Great question. I try to make my characters and plot as realistic as possible despite the genre. When writing something like Lucky’s Charm, I want to make sure everything is believable, so I did a lot of research on guns, locations, and the psychology of someone who kills for a living. If I’m writing Sci-Fi or something based outside of our normal reality, I tend to stay away from too many scientific or technical jargon since I’m never sure if I’m using it correctly, but I research just enough to be able to explain it truthfully within the story.

Sue V asks: What is your worst timesuck (i.e., what makes you facepalm when you realize you just wasted X number of hrs instead of writing)?

Ha! The EVIL Timesuck! There are SO many. Usually, when I’m writing, I try to avoid the timesuck that is social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I do, however, have a bad habit of getting timesucked into reading more than I need to when researching. Sometimes I have to research in the middle of a paragraph because my character says something or goes somewhere that I’m cluesless about. That’s always fun!

Andrea N asks: How do you get your creative juices to produce great stories?

Love this question! Many of my ideas come from brainstorming with friends. I give them a general idea of what I’m thinking about writing and we play around with it until it sounds even better! Sometimes I’ll be inspired by another book, movie, TV show, sometimes a character or even an actor.

Adam T asks: What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

The answer is 42. Right?

Dauna M asks: How long have you been writing? What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve been “writing” in one form or another since about 10-11 years old when I started off with poetry. I eventually started writing Fan Fiction in High School and College! Lots of fun. I didn’t decided to take it seriously until I finished my first original story and shared it with friends. They LOVED the story and kept asking me for more, so I did, and I haven’t stopped yet!

Luanne T asks: When is your birthday?

April 23rd! I’m a Taurus!

How about you, do you have a question? I’m game, are you?

Q&A Thursday with Robert Clark

Today’s Q&A is with author Robert Clark

Enjoy & Comment!
What is the worst thing you’ve written, how did you learn or know it was bad, and what did you learn from it?
Lanigan’s Woods.  It’s the first book I had published.  I think it’s an excellent story, but when I looked at it again, years after it was released, I found the writing painfully simplistic and amateurish.  As far as the plot goes I don’t have any complaints.  As I said, I think it’s a good story, but if I had it to do over I’d do several more rewrites, preferably with the help of a good editor.  Now I do many rewrites on my novels, whenever possible with the cooperation of an editor.
Why did you start writing and when did you decide to go professional?
I can’t remember not being interested in writing.  I was lucky enough to have public school grade, junior high, and high school teachers who encouraged me.  In college, aside from the standard English courses and the technical writing I needed for my science courses, I took a journalism course and worked extensively on the college newspaper.  When the union I was president of was forced out on strike in 1986, my wife realized I was stressed and suggested I write a novel to release my frustrations.  I did, and ended up producing several as I kept writing after the strike ended.  Later I attempted to market the books.  The first was published in 1996.  I haven’t stopped writing novels or getting them published since, and am always working on at least two, sometimes as many as four or five, at the same time.  At the moment I’m working on three, a science fiction, one that could be considered either horror or fantasy, and one that could be placed in any of the three categories, depending on how you look at it.  I’ll do a draft of one, let it sit while I work on the others, and then go back to it for a rewrite.  I’ve had people ask me if the process confuses me, but actually it seems to work the opposite way and helps me concentrate on what I’m doing at any given time.
Do you write in more than one genre?  Which ones and which do you like best?
My writing is in three genres, science fiction, fantasy, and horror/supernatural.  I don’t actually have a preference.  Something kicks in as an idea for a novel, and the basic idea more or less funnels me into a specific genre.  It isn’t quite that simple, and the three areas often overlap in my writing.  Bricks, for example, is a science fiction, but has strong horror elements.  Depending on how you judge them, Boringville and Incubus could be placed in any of the three genres, although I consider them in the horror/supernatural category.  The overlap isn’t always there.  Askarjan is a straight science fiction; El Duende and Blade of Iron are straight fantasies.  Lycanthrope Book 1 and Lycanthrope Book 2 are horror novels.
Do you read other author’s books when you’re writing?  If so, do you read the same genre or something different?
Writing or not, I always have at least two or three books I’m reading.  They may or may not be the same genre I’m writing in.  I read in all three genres I write, but also in other fiction areas.  I read about as much non-fiction as fiction, almost all the non-fiction in the fields of history and science.
What is the most difficult part of the entire writing process for you? Queries, pitches, editing..etc.
No question.  Pitches.  I love the initial writing.  Rewrites aren’t bad, letting me add and delete things to improve the book.  Editing is boring but critical.  If I don’t love it, at least I don’t hate it.  I consider writing queries drudge work.  I don’t like writing them, but don’t agonize over the process. Pitching the book is something else.  If I wanted to be in sales I’d get a job selling cars.  I hate almost every aspect of it and am not good at it.  Things like doing interviews or book signings are the only exceptions.  I enjoy them because they give me a chance to interact with other people who share my interests.
If you could have the same type of career as any author currently publishing who would it be and why?

Me.  Sure, I’d like to have a string of best sellers.  What author wouldn’t?  On the other hand, I value my privacy, and if someone’s work is well known their privacy is almost sure to take a hit.  In many ways I’ve got the best of both worlds.  I sell enough books to support my writing habit.  After 36 years of teaching, saving for retirement, and being thrifty, I can afford the life style I want without having to make a living from book sales.  It would be nice if I could sell a few more books and make an actual profit on my writing, but even if that never happens I still have the fun of writing the novels and seeing them get published.  Hakuna matata.

Robert Clark was born and raised in Eerie (Erie), Pennsylvania. He was brought up on Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella comic books, stories of Ax Murder Hollow, science fiction novels, and late night horror and science fiction movies. He delighted in scaring the neighborhood kids with stories he made up or swiped from comic books. His fifth grade teacher told his parents he’d end up either in prison or as an author. To the surprise of almost everyone who knows him, he graduated from college. After graduation he spent years teaching biology. While doing so his fifth grade teacher’s prediction (?) threat (?) curse (?) whatever, came true. Tired of reality, he decided to try writing fiction. The genres he writes in are science fiction, fantasy, and horror/supernatural, although these often overlap in his books. He and his wife live in northwestern Pennsylvania. Clark is no longer teaching biology, but is still writing. At this point he hasn’t been in prison and hopes to keep it that way.

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