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  1. I just read this great article by Dean Wesley Smith which challenged my paradigm of how to make money as a writer. Find it here:

    In an oversimplified nutshell he suggests focusing on writing many books, expecting each of them to sell very modestly, instead of striving endlessly to produce that one 'New York Times Best Seller'. It is a very interesting model, and while it lacks the excitement of pursuing fame and fortune, it seems far more realistic if you simply love writing and want to pursue a career in it.

    What are your thoughts?

  2. Today’s post is a transcript from a recent conversation with author Ms. Crysta, founder of ‘Dancing with Fireflies’. Ms. Crysta is a prolific blogger, champion of authors and the writing craft, and acquaintance of mine through our common interests in writing and blogging.
    [​IMG]J. Aurel: Hello Ms. Crysta, thank you for coming. Would you care for some Tea?Crysta: I would love some. I have actually been a tea drinker for many years. In fact it is one of my many writing rituals, to make a cup of tea and sit for a few minutes watching the steam rise.

    J. Aurel: You are very welcome. Let’s see now, I have Earl Grey, Green, and Raspberry Zinger, which would you prefer? I am so glad you were able to make time in your busy schedule. Tell me, what is ‘Dancing with Fireflies’ all about?

    Crysta: I love Earl Grey with cream and sugar. So, Dancing with Fireflies started off like so many blogs as a personal space for my own creative writing. But through the years it has started to morph into an imaginative networking place for people who have the same love of writing as I do. Writers tend to be introverts, unless forced out into the public due to some grand luck of fame. So this gives people a chance to share their art from the comforts of their own sacred spaces.

    J. Aurel: Please help yourself to a biscuit. And tell me Ms. Crysta, how is it that you find yourself in the world of Blogging?

    Crysta: Well for me, I have always been a journal keeper since I was old enough to pick up a crayon. I found that through my writings, both fiction and non-fiction, I could express not just my feelings but create my own worlds when I felt like this one was just overwhelming. Blogging evolved from LiveJournal and moved into what it is now.

    J. Aurel: What are your aspirations both for yourself and for Dancing with Fireflies?

    Crysta: Dancing with Fireflies has been an amazing experience for me both as a writer and as someone who wasn’t sure what to do next, after Motherhood started to become less of a full-time job. I knew I wanted to be a writer, I spent some time with local press and always submitted freelance pieces. But I would like to take the steps to publish and take my own writing to a new level. Dancing with Fireflies is also moving forward in the direction of becoming more about creative exploration with others and opening up to bringing people in to share their talents. We learn from each other and grow as writers and as humans in the light of brilliance and talent.


    J. Aurel: Can you tell us about some of the things that inspire you?

    Crysta: I am always inspired by colors and especially those found in nature. I have the hardest time in barren rooms that lack the flavor of color. My studio where I write is a bit chaotic for some because of my need for different colors and stimulus. Flowers, artwork, and even spools of thread from myembroidery business feed my imagination.

    J. Aurel: Do you have any words of wisdom for the burgeoning bloggers and authors reading this interview?

    Crysta: I do, and it is something that is important not only for bloggers but everyone who wants to pursue writing. Do it every… single.. day. Not everything has to get published, not everything is worth reading. But make it as much of a part of your day as brushing your teeth and tea-time. Anything worth doing takes practice, patience, and repetition. Sometimes you look at what you just wrote and shake your head, other times you might just surprise yourself. With Dancing with Fireflies, I set a weekly schedule so I didn’t have to come up with something new. This gave me much more free-time to write about what I wanted to. Blogging requires that you give your readers fresh content or else they will forget all about you. So reading other blogs and staying on top of what is trending helps you come up with new things to write about each day as well.

    [​IMG]J. Aurel: Well put. Here then, help yourself to some shaved ice, while you tell us what is next for you.

    Crysta: Thanks! Well, I am actually relocating to a new part of the country in a few weeks. So I feel like a fresh start is on the horizon. We are leaving the bitter cold of the East coast and digging our toes into the fresh soil of the northern West Coast. So once we have settled in, I have a few pieces in the works, including a co-written fantasy piece, a steampunk short story, and much more.

    J. Aurel: Naturally, naturally. Last question: if you had the choice between Atlantean Aqua Polo, Thanator racing, or a one-on-one Quidditch match, which would you choose?

    Crysta: Without question is would have to be Atlantean Aqua Polo! Thanator racing is much too fast paced for me, and does anyone place Quidditch anymore? Thanks so much for having me. This was a delight and I can’t wait to see your next literary adventures as well. Now, can I help with these dishes?

    Find out more about Dancing with Fireflies, find support in your writing, and connect with Ms. Crysta here:

  3. Thanks bluebird for this:

    A professional script reader read 300 screenplays for five different studios, all the while tracking the many recurring problems. The infographic he made with the collected data offers a glimpse at where screenwriting goes wrong.




  4. Today’s post is a transcript from a recent conversation with author Mr. Ben Ireland, which occurred during his visit to my little corner of the etherverse. Ireland is an up and coming novelist and acquaintance of mine through Xchyler Publishing.

    You may be interested to know that as a thank you to his fans, Ben Ireland is giving away a set of his books loaded on a Kindle Fire 7″ HD TabletLIKE Ben Ireland on Facebook and be entered to win. Enjoy 3 great books on the best e-reader available! One winner will be randomly chosen in March, June, September and December of 2014. Increase your chances and LIKE Ben Ireland today!

    Enjoy the discussion:


    J. Aurel: Hello Mr. Ireland, It was so good of you to accept my invitation for an afternoon drink at the ‘Grog-and Dart’. Pull up a stool.

    Ireland: Thanks for having me, I love this place. It has good feng shui.

    J. Aurel: I understand that you have a new work of fiction. Can you tell us a little about your story?

    Ireland: Kingdom City ~ Resurrection is the first in the Kingdom City trilogy. It’s a science fantasy novel set in the near future in the peaceful, totally normal metropolis, Kingdom City. Six months prior to the opening of the novel a terrorist attack rocked the city by killing a quarter of it’s police force. Things start to fall apart when they don’t stay dead.

    No, not a zombie book. It’s about love, fighting for what’s important, and the consequences of technological progress without moral constraint.

    J. Aurel: Wait, wait, I lost you as zombie. They’re not zombies, or it’s not about the zombies?

    Ireland: Both. No zombies in Kingdom City. Sorry.

    J. Aurel: Oh, my. Now I really have to read it to sort this out. In the meantime, what moved you to become an author?

    Ireland: I’ve always felt the need to express myself creatively. When I finally accepted that I was a mediocre musician, I tried my hand at writing. Kingdom City started life ten years ago as a screenplay. When that was done, I asked my wife ‘what on earth do I do with this?’ She replied ‘turn it into a novel.’ The rest, as they say, is history.


    J. Aurel: It is a wise man that listens to his better half. So, how is it that you came to be published by Xchyler Publishing?

    Ireland: I’m acquainted with one of the staff, and am friends with them on Facebook. I mentioned in one post that I was writing a novel. They messaged me and told me to submit. I was reluctant at first –I’d never published anything before- so I dithered. While investigating Xchyler, I saw that they had anonymous anthology contests. An anonymous contest seemed like the safest way to have my dream crushed. I submitted Kissed a Snake (one scene of which I wrote eons ago in college) to the thriller anthology contest, Dash of Madness, and was accepted. So I figured, why not try to send them my novel.

    J. Aurel: Very clever, I read ‘Kissed a Snake’ not long ago and was thoroughly entranced by the raw and twisting plot. What else have you been working on writing wise?

    Ireland: Thank you, I appreciate that. I had not seriously pursued a writing career until recently. I piddled around with Kingdom City for nine years, learning how to actually write most of that time. So I’ve only been published in two Xchyler short story contests, Dash of Madness and Moments in Millenia. I hope to expand my resume as time permits.

    J. Aurel: Marvelous, I’ve got a copy of Moments in Millenia on my shelf waiting to be read. Which story is yours?

    Ireland: Fairykin. It’s about a tribe of fairies struggling to survive in a world where nature has been eradicated.

    J. Aurel: Well, there’s another one added to my list then. Can you tell us about some of your most favorite authors?

    Ireland: Jim Butcher. Period. Go get his Dresden Files series, starring the only practicing wizard-detective in Chicago, Harry Dresden. Jim’s characters are colorful, lovable, and deep. You can pretty much learn everything you need to learn about writing from that man.

    J. Aurel: You seem to be quite the fan of urban fantasy and fiction. What is it that inspires your writing?


    Ireland:I’m mostly attracted to people who are smart enough and strong enough to solve the problems they face, it doesn’t have to be urban fantasy. It just so happens that the best books on the planet are.

    Primarily my inspiration comes from sharing stories that make people feel. I loved the thrill when Atreyu was soaring with Falkor, or the adrenalin when Ripley was kicking alien ass (ok, yeah, I was probably too young to have watched that when I did…) So, if I can cry or laugh or thrill with you as you read my stories, then I can feel satisfied that I’ve done my job.

    J. Aurel: Well put my friend. Do you have any words of wisdom for the burgeoning authors reading this interview?

    Ireland: As I’m a burgeoning author myself, I’d have to say, GET OUT OF MY WAY. Ha ha ha. But seriously, don’t cross me.

    But seriously, seriously, my advice is to not give up. Sharing stories is a joy, and hearing the different perspective of each reader is a marvelous experience. It’s worth the pain. If you’re having trouble landing your story with the big guys, submit to an indie publisher. Xychler has some wonderfully talented people that I am a better person for having worked with. Don’t give up, and never think you know enough.

    J. Aurel: Splendid advice, and I’ll myself will stay out of your way in hopes of catching your tail wind to success. Now, what is next for you?


    Ireland: For now, it’s back to the daily grind of network administering. In my free time I’ll be hashing out Kingdom City part 2 and 3. Kingdom City ~ Retaliation (working title) should be out some time in 2015. I have another fantasy series I’m working on that I hope to have ready for publishers soon. I’ll keep you posted on that.

    J. Aurel: This has been marvelous Mr. Ireland, simply marvelous. Now at this point I usually ask my guests to compete in a friendly game, however seeing as we nearing dinner, lets simply order a dish. The Grog and Dart pub serves a surprisingly decent selection of foods including Leonopteryx Omelets, Spice Melange Noodles (there’s only just a touch of the stuff in there really), and my favorite Poutine. Take your pick, this one is on me.

    Ireland:*stares blankly* Oh, um. I’ll have the chicken.


    Ben Ireland can be found on: Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Goodreads

    His upcoming Novel Kingdom City ~ Resurrection will be released on Febuary 28th 2014


    Be sure to watch for it on Amazon and other online retailers, and check the Kindom City ~ Resurrection page for updates!

  5. You may yet get to hear the rest of Marcus Wells' story. . .

    I find it extremely ironic, and borderline providential that this contract was drafted and mailed the same day I defended my PhD Thesis.

    And yes, I'm signing it.

    Thank you Hamilton Springs Press! (Xchyler Publishing)!