Behind the Artist – Interview with Nimesh Morarji, Part 2

Last week I started conversing with Nimesh about how he got his start in comics and got some insight on exactly how he sees his job of coloring in regards to telling a great story. This week we get into his work on The Gilded Age #3.

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Do you have a favorite thing to color (genre, scenery, etc)? Least favorite?

I do believe my colors works very well with SciFi, but I personally prefer History periods like Medieval, Western, SteamPunk. But this genre is a bit tricky, so me coloring this, the editors need to want clean shiny colors over muted muddy colors. My least favorite, I think, is working on a book where you don’t have any chance to be creative, to work on a book where, let’s say everything is established and all you need to do is to copy what’s been done.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world?

This one is a hard one. I do believe that today you can do whatever you want (well, in the past too, but now it’s more “easier”), so I will say the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world is Yourself. You are your own obstacle I guess.

If you could go back ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

I think I needed to go a little more back and say “Internet”. In the future there will be this thing called Internet and provide everyone with more chances to do what they want.”

But if I had to go 10 years back I would say that the time I’m wasting learning 3D as a shortcut for not drawing is a complete waste of time. GO LEARN/IMPROVE ON DRAWING instead.

What is your worst habit?

Wondering off on social media. Dammit, that thing will get you!

Goals? One year from now? Five years from now?

My main goal is to make the Comic book industry my main profession. I’ve been working with Indies and I’ve been blessed with the money that it’s coming from this. Also I’ve been learning a lot. My goal for one year from now is to have a bigger client Rolodex that keeps me busy. And from 5 years from now I want to have worked for at least one book on Zenescope and Dynamite and I want to have clients enough to make me give up my regular job and just do comics.

Gilded Age #3 Art – Antonio Brandao Colors – Nimesh Morarji

You did the coloring for The Gilded Age Issue 3 which has a dream sequence to start things off. It’s one of my favorite things in the issue, and I love how you really mixed in some of those darker greens and the red eyes following/chasing Hanna only to wash it away with the knight shows up. How did you land on that color scheme not only throughout that scene, but then contrast it against the rest of the issue.

I’m glad to hear that you like it, I also love that sequence and I do use that sequence as portfolio piece.

After reading the script and looking at the pages I noticed how this 3 pages contrast even artistically. For page one and 2 I wanted to showcase Hanna’s horror and the first thing that came to my mind was Nightmare on Elm Street. I went to see some scenes of the movie and I noticed that when Nancy (the girl from the movie) was dreaming and thus entering the Freddy realm things looked ugly, cold and disgusting. With the third page where the knight shows up I noticed that the artist made this shiny look to it and the first thing that came to my mind was a classical Disney Prince charming thing.

So I tried to translate this 2 feeling (the horror/disgust and the Prince that saves the day) in to colors. I believed the green on Hanna trying to escape would bring that disgust looking feel and it would contrast beautifully with the red glow of the monster while the next bright blue tints page would shine of readers face and evoke that prince charming saving her.

This was a unique scene on the book so I had to be very careful on my color choices because I couldn’t do it again in the book or the effect would be invalidated. So I’m extremely pleased to know that you felt that.

Did you have any favorite pieces within the issue you thought came together exactly the way you had envisioned?

Oh, yes, Page 5, Flashback scene. The muted colors worked very well in there in my opinion.

Also, page 10, that last panel, it’s so beautiful. The Artist drew it so well and with the colors laid down I do believe the reader feels Vanessa’s loneliness at that moment. It is a dramatic panel that I still today look at and feel the sadness.

Gilded Age #3 Art – Antonio Brandao Colors – Nimesh Morarji

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a Project for Wayward Raven Media called Balloon World and I already have lined up to start coloring O Lusitano the first Portuguese superhero and 2 more projects that I can’t name yet due to NDA’s.

Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show?)?

If you guys could check out the Western themed comics that I’m creating that would be awesome I guess.

😛

I´m making it available in WebComics format on nimprod.com and you can read it for free (shameless promotion, I know).

I’m currently spending all my free time on coloring comics and practicing drawing as I’m going to draw my comic later on too but sometimes I take a break and watch some movies, TV shows and read Comics. Westworld is definitely a must watch, are any of you watching it?

Where’s the best place to see your stuff on the web (website)?

Best place to see my stuff probably is my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nimeshmorarjiart/ where I post Works in Progress, process, and final pieces.

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Nimesh also provided a little Bio:

My name is Nimesh.
I’m from Portugal and I’m a self-taught ComicBook Colorist. Currently I’m working in a freelance basis.

In my 3rd year coloring professionally, I’ve worked with publishers, such as Terminus Media, WayWard Raven, and Arcana. Titles that I’ve worked on includes: Carlton Harvey’s Soul of Suw, James B. Emmett’s The Committee, and Chuck Amadori’s Pale Dark.

With a background in illustration, I’m aware of how color can impact a story and my vision is to help creators bring dimension to their worlds. 

***

I want to thank Nimesh for taking the time to answer my questions. And I definitely appreciate his contributions to helping bring The Gilded Age to life.

And make sure to check out his Western Comic at nimprod.com.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Behind the Artist – Interview with Nimesh Morarji, Part 1

As a writer of comic books the first question people like to ask (after “so you draw the comics”) are – how in the world does that actually work? So many times those same people are completely taken aback by how many hands and fingers touch a comic book page before it becomes something they can see. Even then, it is a bit of magic.

I, personally, think one of the unsung heroes of the industry are the colorists. I’ve been fortunate to work with a couple of good ones in regards to The Gilded Age. So I reached out the colorist on the 3rd issue, Nimesh Morarji, to see if I could get a better handle on just what made him tick.

Gilded Age #3 Art – Antonio Brandao Colors – Nimesh Morarji

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How long have you been creating art/working in comics?

I would say I’ve created art as long as I remember. As a toddler we all do art I guess :P. But professionally I’ve been working in comic since 2013.

At what point did you sit down and decide to become a colorist? Have you had any formal training?

I’ve been wanting to develop my own comic book since around 2005. It’s a western themed book where Women take the lead in a shared universe. My ability to draw at that time was very limited as I gave up drawing a long time ago. So around 2005 I was trying to develop my comic using 3D software like Poser, and I learned a bit of modeling on Maya and 3DS Max, but the results never satisfied me. It always looked very stiff from what I wanted to do. Then after some frustrating years of learning Max and Maya, I started to look other options.

Digital Painting was starting to be a thing and lots of artist were posting stuff about it. I fell in love with what they were doing, so I started to learn that. Comics started doing digital coloring as a norm and comics were my true passion. I believed that with what I learned with digital painting could help me focus on digital coloring, I could always get some gigs and with that money I could hire artists do draw my comic, and I could color it.

It sounded like a perfect plan in 2010, After this amazing *cof* cof* cof plan set up, I saw a DC comic book colorist making some online course available with opportunity to One on One while we were doing the classes, so I decided to invest on that.

What’s the first thing you colored?

The first thing I colored professionally? I think it was The Almighties from Actuality Press.

What things inspire you to create art? Favorite artists/creators? Influences?

I think Movies, TV Shows and books inspire me, I like to be entertained so I love to entertain as well. Favorite Artists in coloring are Marte Gracia and Justin Ponsor. I love the way they use bright saturated colors and make them look “real” with great use of lighting and the ability to tell the stories with colors. I will never forget how Gracia did a shock scene in ALL NEW X-MEN by showing the characters in black and white. I loved it.

I think it’s safe to say that Alex Sollazzo, Gracia, and Ponsor are my influences.

How do you manage your daily life with the art? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2? If you have the old day job, what do you do?

My daily life is extremely busy to be honest. I gave up a lot of things in my life to work on this. Since I was a kid (we are talking on the 80´s here, and yeah I’m old)I dreamed working in the comic book industry, but here in Portugal there isn’t such industry. So, at one point I shifted to the movie industry but my family never believed that the entertainment industry would fit me as they wanted me to carry on the family business (being a commercial person or economist and stuff like that) so they pressured me to not pursue what I wanted.

I caved in and did what they wanted.

After living unhappy all my life doing things I didn’t care for or liked, I turned my back to everything to start over and do stuff that I wanted, so now with 3 years of professional career I’m betting all my chips on this and so far I can’t complain.

I do have a day job while I’m moving up on my career as a Comic Book colorist and coloring/working in this industry is what I want to do.

Do you do anything to market/promote yourself?

To Market/Promote myself I usually post my stuff (as projects allows) on social media, DevianArt and such.

What’s your process like when you are preparing to color a comic? How do you make sure that you are enhancing the artwork?

I don’t believe that the colorist job is to enhance the artwork, I do believe that the colorist job is to help tell the story with colors. Creating a mood in a panel, making the reader feel the shock that the characters are feeling or making the reader feel the fear of the scene happening. This is what I believe the colorist is there for: to help tell the story.

My process usually is, read the script and take some notes of important dramatic things happening on the story then I do research. I go online and try to see some still images of movies or tv shows that tried to convey that drama, what they did, how they did, and I analyze all that. I like to color when I have all pages ready cause this way I can lay down colors on those important moments to help me set the mood of the book and create a guide line for the rest.

Gilded Age #3 Art – Antonio Brandao Colors – Nimesh Morarji

How do you work? Music? TV shows? Movies? No distractions?

I prefer watching streams. I know, it’s odd. watching people work while working, lol. But yeah, I love to hear other artists talk about their experiences in life of art and that motivates me to work instead of wasting my time going on Facebook and such.

(to be honest, you will find me more on social media when I’m at my regular day job rather than when I’m working on comics :P)

What have you worked on previously?

On comics? I started on a webcomic dedicated to Marvel’s character called NOVA, and then I worked on the Almighties. After that I met Chuck Amadori online and it led me to work with Isle Squared Comics on a couple of titles and later they helped me develop my Western comics. Wayward Raven Media got me for 3 of their titles (currently finishing on one of it) and Terminus Media. Along all this I worked on 2 or 3 titles for Portuguese comics. I’m currently coloring the First Portuguese super Hero title (I believe it’s issue 5) and did some work for Arcana Anthology as well.

It’s been 3 crazy years going from my regular job to sitting on the computer and coloring comics in my free time.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

I try to avoid doing the same over and over again and on coloring its hard because even though there are millions of colors not all of them work well together. But I guess there are Blue/Orange colors that I keep doing most of the time, but I try to do more.

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This is only the first part of my conversation with Nimesh. Check out Part 2 next week.

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Nimesh also provided a little Bio:

My name is Nimesh.
I’m from Portugal and I’m a self-taught ComicBook Colorist. Currently I’m working in a freelance basis.

In my 3rd year coloring professionally, I’ve worked with publishers, such as Terminus Media, WayWard Raven, and Arcana. Titles that I’ve worked on includes: Carlton Harvey’s Soul of Suw, James B. Emmett’s The Committee, and Chuck Amadori’s Pale Dark.

With a background in illustration, I’m aware of how color can impact a story and my vision is to help creators bring dimension to their worlds. 

***

I want to thank Nimesh for taking the time to answer my questions. And I definitely appreciate his contributions to helping bring The Gilded Age to life.

And make sure to check out his Western Comic at nimprod.com.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Behind the Artist – Interview with La’Vata O’Neal

Doing this comic book thing as a writer who can barely draw stick figures means I have to lean on the artists who work with me. There is a level of trust that must exist when you hand over your finely crafted words for them to work their magic. So far, I’ve been very lucky in this regard on all the various comic related things I’ve done, but that is especially true with the Gilded Age.

I was happy when I reached out to La’Vata O’Neal (who has done the cover for the Gilded Age Graphic Novel… more on that later…) and she agreed to an interview.

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How long have you been creating art/working in comics?

I’ve been working in comics since Mr. Tony Cade decided to pick me up to do some work for him.

(Tony Cade is the Editor-in-Chief over at Terminus Media.)

At what point did you sit down and decide to become an artist? Have you had any formal training? What’s the first thing you drew?

When I was little I was interested in shapes and figures, still am of course, anything that isn’t a number or word! Though, I’m interested in writing due to its creative nature as well.

What things inspire you to create art? Favorite artists/creators? Influences?

I didn’t have an early influence back then because it’s really like an old love. It’s the serenity of it, though now I’m greatly inspired by many artists now, deceased or living. I’m particularly fond of old paintings because of the way they were able to capture a story in one image. They spoke with such power with just one image.

How do you manage your daily life with the art? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2? If you have the old day job, what do you do? Do you do anything to market/promote yourself?

I sketch daily and paint weekly, it’s like my fingers are possessed-

I’m joking!

I do sketch daily though to keep the creative flow. Whatever I produce in sketches I try to share and it keeps me relevant. I post to facebook, tumblr, and Instagram as the best way to market myself. At some point during the week though I’m always interested in learning new creative ways of doing art, so I’m usually reading up on some art form or for example how to do animation, etc. But At the moment I’m juggling a 9 to 5 job on top of the freelance business.

What’s your process? Digital vs. by hand? What do you prefer?

I love both to be honest; traditional is more expensive so the digital helps keep the budget down-but both, all day every day if I could! My process is a longer explanation, but a lot of it derives from traditional practices.

How do you work? Music while you draw? TV shows? Movies? No distractions?

I love to work while listening to music and if not music then an audible book.

What have you worked on previously?

I worked on a mobile game app, doing character design and illustration.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in you art? In regards to comics, are there things that draw you in, something you see or read where you must put your own spin on the story/character?

Let’s see, reoccurring themes…Fantasy mostly, I’m most drawn to that I believe. But realistically, I’m drawn to anything that’s fiction as long as the story is good! As for putting my own spin on characters, it’s something I reserve for others to do at the moment.

Do you have a favorite thing to draw (genre, scenery, etc)?

My favorite thing to draw are fantasy characters, they’re interesting in their own way because they’re so dynamic and otherworldly. But as long as character has enough character they’re interesting to me.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world?

I would say keeping afloat, isn’t that always the case though. It’s rough being freelance if you don’t know what you’re doing.

If you could go back ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

Wow…hm…I know exactly what I would say and it has everything to do with being more exposed to the art world. The more exposure the more you’ll understand.

What is your worst habit?

My worst habit…daydreaming, maybe? Lol

Goals? One year from now?

Let’s see, one year from now I look to be employed by a studio and not just doing freelance, I’d like to try being under some other artists so I can learn more.

For the Gilded Age, you worked on the cover to the trade (which is amazing by the way). I know we went back and forth with some ideas about how to present the characters, but it seemed like the tarot card idea just worked not only on a story level, but visually just nailed it. After we figured out that direction, how long did you work on those pieces – fine tuning them?

It might have taken me around 30 total hours to complete the cover. It was a very pleasant experience working on the Gilded Age trade cover!

Have you worked on any Steampunk style images before?

I have not actually but trying something new is always a learning experience and it can also be fun!

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my own project which still needs time to develop but it’s in the works, so keep an eye out! 😉

Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show?)?

Well that depends if people really want to know! I like being the mysterious type.

Where’s the best place to see your stuff on the web (website)?

www.leonealart.com

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I want to thank La’Vata for not only taking the time to answer my questions, but for being such an amazing artist. The cover for the Gilded Age Trade is ridiculous in every (great) way!

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

The Ultimate Get to Know Someone Trivia

So you say you want to know your friends and significant others better?

You say you want to understand them?

Easy.

Just make them answer all the questions below. And then, after they reply, send them all your answers.

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It’s The Ultimate Get to Know Someone Quiz

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What is your favorite nickname?

And your least favorite nickname?

Were you bullied in high school? Or were you the bully? Explain.

How old were you when you had your first alcoholic beverage? And what was it?

Have you ever been arrested? If so, why?

And if not, why not?

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?

And what’s the thing you’ve done you’re proudest of?

well-thats-embarrasing_o_1198717

Ever won a fight?

Ever lost one?

Ever wanted to fight someone really badly, but walked away? (Details!)

Pretend you have to explain human reproduction to a ten-year old. How would you do it?

What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?

How upset would you be if a friend told you a harsh truth about you? (About your appearance or your personality.)

What’s the nerdiest thing you’ve ever done?

And what’s the most badass thing?

Ever done something truly charitable?

And how did it feel?

hand-serving-soup

Is it ok to lust after someone?

To what degree?

What’s the sickest you’ve ever been?

If you could fight anyone in the world to the death, who would it be?

Be honest. Would you win?

As a little kid, what was your favorite pet’s name?

And how did they die?

Describe how you feel about sports in three words or fewer.

Describe how you feel about video games in five words or fewer.

Coffee or tea?

Beer or wine?

On a scale of one to ten, how artistic are you?

If higher than a 7, explain.

What was the last concert you went to and how much did you enjoy it?

Name your least favorite food of all time.

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In how many minutes could you run one mile?

What about a kilometer?

…yes, those were actually math questions.

Name a historic war whose purpose and outcome you would have supported.

If the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow, state how many days (realistically) you would survive.

Justify your answer. ^^^

How many TV shows do you need to watch every week?

On a scale of 1-10, how emotionally involved in politics do you get?

Also on a scale of 1-10, how much are you willing to discuss your religious (or non-religious) affiliation?

Are you a humble person?

Explain. ^^^

What’s your personal comfort food?

How many countries in the world have you visited?

Can you say a curse word in a language other than your own?

Do you believe in luck? Good? Bad? Or both?

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If you can, name two awesome things about your home town.

And two not-so-awesome things.

What one law you’d like to see repealed?

Who’s one person you’d like to see brought back to life?

Have you ever won a contest, a sporting event, or a televised game show?

What’s one word you’d feeling very uncomfortable saying out loud? (use asterisks if you don’t want to type it.)

What skill do you possess that you’re probably better at than most people?

If someone wanted to corrupt you, what’s something they could offer to turn you to the dark side?

If you can, name one thing you’d like to see banned in your home country.

easter-banned-title

You’ve been put in charge of creating a new national holiday. Name it and assign one day of the year you want it to be observed.

Do you think you’re smarter than the average person?

Stronger? Faster?

Is it sometimes ok to be loyal to someone even when they’re doing wrong?

How long (in minutes) do you spend in your average shower or bath?

Describe the perfect day in terms of temperature, climate, wind, and appearance of the sky.

If you could afford to hire a maid to do most of your cleaning, laundry, and cooking, would you?

Is it ok to judge someone’s character based on one or two of their deeds?

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

If you could master one skill (any skill in the world) in just one day of study, what skill would it be?

Name one thing that disgusts you.

Which of your family members is most likely to embarrass you?

Name one item on your personal bucket list.

If a famous author wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?

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The Ultimate Get-to-Know-Someone Quiz is now a book released under the same name.

If you prefer deeper, darker questions, satisfy your quiz & questions fetish right here.

J Edward Neill

The Sister Series Superstar – Leanne Davis

On an otherwise quiet afternoon, while fishing in a blue lake beneath the summer sun, we caught a fish.

Only this was no ordinary fish.

This was Leanne Davis, author of The Sister Series and The Seaclusion Series, both of which are huge.

And this is no fish story. If you like to read, and you want to catch some top-notch fiction, just go right here.

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But first…read our exclusive interview with Leanne!

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So…Leanne…you’re kind of a big deal. (No blushing allowed.) Let’s talk about your uber-successful The Sister Series. Give us the goods on what it’s about and why you decided to write it:

… So kind of you to say so… but I’m very small fish in the big pond of authors on Amazon. But it has allowed me the privilege to write full time for a living, and I am SO grateful for the opportunity.
Anyway, The Sister Series is (so far) a seven book series that will be ten books when I’m done with it.
This series came about when I had just finished writing my Zenith Trilogy which chronicled a rock band living in downtown Seattle. I had already written my Seaclusion Series which is about a handful of families in the small town of Seaclusion. I wanted something different. And I found it. I had this idea of a soldier and girl… but it didn’t go exactly as I first planned. It became a much involved story than I first intended. The beginning of this book has Jessie Bains kidnapped and being held prisoner in Mexico. Though the time spent there is short; the shock of what happens to her follows her through the rest of her life. She suffers from PTSD, something that I show her dealing with through several books and it spills around to those she loves. The premise of this book and series came about when I happened onto the subject of drug trafficking at the United States border which led me to Mexico, and eventually to how prevalent sex trafficking is, and how it has become tied into the drug cartels. From this research I started to design the overlying theme of this series. The concept for Jessie’s kidnapping was inspired by some of the stories I found and as horrifying as my fiction is, the real stuff is literally sickening. The rest of the series has grown into different relationships and storylines, but the starting book set the tone for the series as my most serious, dark and emotional.
The Sister Series is about the emotional scars and battles that are often hidden in people.
Rape. Drugs. Abuse. Violence. Pain. Betrayal.
And how they can be overcome.
Love. Joy. Family. Forgiveness. Faith. Hope. Redemption.

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The overlying arc of this series is exploring the lives, loves and familial connection of two sets of sisters and their daughters. Each book is a separate story but related to the other books. The series focuses on these women’s trials, tribulations, dreams and their individual quest for acceptance, love and happiness.

You’ve cracked the top of the charts with several of your books. First of all, congrats! Second, wanna share your marketing strategy with the aspiring masses?

Thank you! I’ve had the privilege of some really amazing days in the trenches of Amazon. It’s not often or for long, so when it happens, you will find me taking lots of screenshots of my books as if it’s my child at their first day of school!
My strategy… luck? Seriously, I think a lot of it was due to luck and being in the right place at the right time. When I released The Other Sister it was often picked up as a ‘dark romance’ through Goodreads and when free in the Amazon store. Dark romances, a few years ago, was a relatively new concept of these really intense, almost sadistic romances. My book is not actually dark like that, but the premise sounded like it, so it helped propel interest to it that led to a lot of downloads. From these downloads the book garnered quite a few reviews. It was because of these reviews I was able to use marketing services such as BookBub to run book ads. The large number of downloads from the exposures from these outlets introduced my writing to most of the core readers who follow my books.
When I was picked up by my publisher (The Wild Rose Press) they sent me this list of fifty ways to market as an author. The number one marketing tool was to: write another book. I took that one to heart. I’m much more apt to be found writing another novel than marketing on twitter, Facebook or even blog interviews (look at me doing it now!). I decided that I could do: I can write a lot of books. At any given time I have up to ten novels I want to write. My ideas and characters and desire to write them down is only limited by my physical time to write and edit them! So that is probably my number one marketing strategy, write, write and write some more.

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What kind of stories inspired you to write The Sister Series and The Seaclusion Series?

Often news stories. Which isn’t the typical ‘romance’ inspiration. It’s not the facts that inspire me but it’s pondering what the emotions behind a certain event or experience would make someone feel and the affect it might have on the rest of their lives and relationships. That’s usually where my stories pick up… with my characters dealing with some underlying issue. I like to write about difficult subject matters, I especially like to explore unlikely personality matches or situations and see if I can’t twist the story around to end happily. I take on a lot of untraditional characters for romance heroes and heroines. I’ve written about a drug dealer, several PTSD survivors who aren’t coping well, alcoholics, and even cheaters, just to name a few. I really hate stereotypes so I enjoy seeing if I can’t go against them.

What do you find most challenging about being a modern-day writer?

Time. Exposure. Piracy. Reviews. Sales. The list goes on!
I also think social media, binge watching TV shows and movies… you know everything electronic, distracts potential readers and are our biggest competitors.  I think we authors compete more with other forms of entertainment than we do each other. Many blame the “glut” of new authors and novels as the challenge—as if a flood of books is a bad thing—when I believe it’s merely less readers reading.
The other challenge, as with most authors, is getting “found” on the behemoth Achilles Heel of all authors: Amazon.
The catch-22 of Amazon. I sincerely love Amazon in so many ways. I would not have a career without it, let alone the sales I’ve had or even begin to sustain it. Amazon allows me to publish what I want, when I want to, how I want to and also have the potential of readers.
The catch being, I don’t control it. Why are some books successful? Others release to crickets. I’ve had both. I didn’t do anything different marketing-wise. So if I could find the seemingly mythical formula, I would be a rich author. But in this access to readers, I also hand over all my exposure to Amazon and only Amazon. All my eggs are literally in their basket. They have a lot of control over my career and that is never a smart long term business plan… but at this point there is no better one to have. So… huge catch-22.

Looks like you’ve got a book coming out pretty much now. 🙂 It’s called The Broken Sister. What’s it about and when can readers grab their copy?

The release date was June 20th to Kindle! It is the seventh book in the Sister Series and takes on the daughter of the main character from The Wrong Sister (4th book in the Sister Series).  This book deals with a twenty-year-old college junior being drugged and date raped. She doesn’t remember it, so she doesn’t know what to do in the aftermath of it. As an added twist to this story, her love interest is the brother of her rapist, and she just doesn’t know it… yet.

2

To be more official, here is the blurb:

Something happened to Kylie McKinley during her freshman year in college. Something no one knows about. The thing is: she can’t remember it fully, so what could she possibly have to say about it? Why, then, does it keep screwing with her head so much? When another, far braver girl than she comes forward with a story that is eerily similar to Kylie’s own, she begins to see she can’t keep silent forever. Bolstered by this girl, Kylie finally finds the necessary strength after two years of indecision to do something about it. But will it be enough to finally end the silence that has almost broken her?

Then she realizes exactly whom her accusations will pit her against.

Tristan Tamasy has long term plans to be the next head of the Tamasy legacy. Tristan is smart, focused, cultured, and ready to expand their family’s corporation. Tristan is nothing like his younger brother, whose antics have lately started disrupting everything. Now, Tristan has been commissioned for damage control after two girls start making noise against his brother. That’s when he meets Kylie McKinley. From the start, she challenges the road he has chosen for his life. After he starts to realize she might be telling the truth about his brother, his integrity to do what is right conflicts with his loyalty to the family he’s been groomed to protect. It tests everything he believes about himself and threatens to squelch the feelings he has for the one woman he should never want.

Again, thank you for hosting me here today!   (We were happy to have you!)

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The Broken Sister is now available right here!

 Connect with Leanne:
Website: http://leannedavis.net/Blog/
Amazon Author Page
Facebook Author Page
Twitter: @leannewrites

 

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Enjoy this interview? Be sure to check out ALL of Tessera Guild’s best creative sit-downs right here.

Interview compiled by J Edward Neill

Interview with the Nicest Author Ever

In the business of creative networking, it’s common to meet a ton of nice people. They’re everywhere, and they WAY outnumber the trolls.

But sometimes, every once in a while, you meet someone who’s nicer than nice, who’s sweet, calm, and utterly pleasant to talk with.

One such uber-nice person is Regina O’Connell. She’s the author of several books, including Wren and Saving Wihe, and she’s the subject of this week’s Tessera Guild creative interview!

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Without further ado…

*

Hi Regina! Welcome to Tessera Guild’s latest author interview. Rumor is you’ve got a brand new book, Saving Wihe. We’re dying to know what it’s about. Give us the scoop?

Saving Wihe is the second book in the trilogy Wren’s Journey. Wren is a young Witch who is on a quest to save Wihe from the evil priest, Nye. She is joined by her grandmother, a few close friends and her wolf, Maicoh. They are on the run, planning the rescue and finding the freedom they all desire.
 

Soooo…you’re pretty popular on the web. Tell us all about yourself. Give up the goods on where you’re from and how you got into writing books:

Well I am originally from Jackson, Michigan. I have been living in Bend, Oregon for the past eleven years. I am a proud mother and grandmother! I started writing books in high school. My first was a children’s book which I also illustrated for my youngest brother. I wrote many children’s books throughout the years for my own children and now my grandchildren. I never tried to publish them though!
 

We’ve seen images for your previous book, Wren, all over the planet. Is Wren your first published piece? Tell us ALL about it!

Yes, Wren was my first! I wrote it for my son. He told me I should write a book. Initially I thought I would write about a young boy, but then I thought I’d do better writing from a girl’s perspective. But I still wanted it to mean something to my son, hence the magic singing! My son has an amazing voice!  Wren is young, a little self-absorbed and totally loyal to her family and friends. She faces loss and heartache with the help of her grandmother and friends. The book is a fast-paced adventure that I hope people will love.
Wren

As an indie author, what do you find most challenging about marketing your work?

Marketing without money!!!! I so love social media and the author friends I have met! We help each other! I don’t know what I’d do without them!

Let’s say someone wanted to get in touch with you to get a copy of Saving Wihe for reviewing purposes. Where’s the best place to reach you?

Facebook: https://facebook.com/ReginaOConnellAuthor

OR

Twitter: https://twitter.com/regina_oconnell

Check out this cover!

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Regina

And here’s Regina mugging with her son. Look at that smile!

That’s it for this week. Be sure to give Regina’s latest book a read (and of course, a review!)

For more Tessera Guild creative interviews, follow this link.

Until next time.

J Edward Neill

Interview with Author Stacy Bennett

You may not yet know the name Stacy Bennett, but you will. Last year I had the pleasure of reading an early version of one of her upcoming novels. The experience was thrilling–one of those instances where I couldn’t stop reading. I was wide awake in wee hours of the morning devouring every word I could. That good. Seriously. I thought it was about time I featured her here at Tessera and she was gracious enough to oblige.

Stacy BennettTell us about yourself, where you’re from and what you love.

I was born and raised in New Jersey, but I’ve lived in a number of different places, having moved more than 13 times between college and being married to a Marine. I’m back in Jersey now with my kids doing the single mom thing. As for what I love — When I was little, it was always “I love horses” and later became “I love my boyfriend/husband”. Now the answer isn’t so simplistic. Perhaps it was the years with the Marine Corps that taught me to grow where I’m planted because with the exception of my children (both in high school) and our pets, the things I love are subject to availability. Right now, those things include lunches on a sunny porch, rainy days off work so I can read and sip coffee, nature walks and anything that makes me laugh. Of course in any location, nothing beats good food with good company and bantering talks about life, the universe and everything especially when those conversations don’t end abruptly in the answer 42.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer, a creator of stories?

Actually, no. I mean I wrote write stories as a kid just like I drew pictures as a kid. I also spent quite a bit of time daydreaming, planning out adventures in my head. But I never really considered it a vocation. Even now I’m pretty sure I won’t be quitting the “day” job. I love to write, I love to be immersed in a world of my own design and that’s why I do it.

Stacy Bennett

What books inspired you growing up? Which stories have you held onto?

Like many people who have much older siblings, I was a precocious reader and grew up in a house full of science nerds with shelves of sci-fi/fantasy books. I finished The Forgotten Planet, The Hobbit, Narnia and the entire LOTR trilogy before I was 12. I read every book the library owned that had any horse stories in it by the end of grammar school (no doubt where I get my penchant for tragedy, later reinforced by a love of Shakespeare).

My mom was also an avid romance reader. She had this little book that listed all the complete Harlequin series and she crossed each one off as she read them. Because of this we made a weekly trip to the Book Swap near us since by then the library ceased to offer enough new options. I found some of my best fantasy books secondhand in that little shop in Milltown. It was there I found:

  • Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny (I scoured weekly for the rest of the series)
  • Dragonflight which led to an Anne McCaffrey addiction. My faves were The Ship Who Sang and Crystal Singer.
  • In school, I was enthralled and amazed by LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Lathe of Heaven.
  • I also fell in love with C.J. Cherryh’s Morgaine Cycle and especially The Faded Sun Trilogy which I felt was a remarkable work of cultural commentary (in the same vein as Left Hand of Darkness).
  • And outlier fantasy works like Diamond’s Lady of the Haven and Lindskold’s Through Wolf’s Eyes.

The world of publishing has changed so much in the last five years. What advice would you give new authors?

Personally, I don’t have time to be a master of all trades when it comes to my writing. My “job” in this enterprise is the actual writing, cranking out 70,000 to 120,000 coherent words. I’m responsible for the ideas, the story lines, the characters. But things like book covers and marketing, those are areas where I could use a professional’s input. So my advice is to not be afraid to hire a professional to make your work as good as it possibly could be. Professional editors and proofers to me are a must and worth the investment. A professional cover artist also can make a big difference in how people receive your work. I’m not saying you need to spend a fortune, but by all means have your work polished by people who know what they’re doing and know the business. In the end, it will improve your readers’ experience, and isn’t that the goal?

Son of Anubis by Stacy BennettWhat are you working on now? And where can we find more?

A few things. My fantasy novel Quest of the Dreamwalker is out for proofing right now, in fact. It’s Book I of The Corthan Legacy series and I’m hoping for a late September release on that one. Also, I’m working on The Goddess’s Dark Hand for my Goddess Stone Trilogy which is also fantasy and would be out sometime in 2017.

I have a paranormal fantasy novella available on Amazon now called Son of Anubis. It’s a fun but quick read. For those who like dogs or werewolves, it might fit the bill nicely.

****

Thank you, Stacy!

Websites:
http://stacybennettauthor.com/
BHC Authors

Social media:
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Co-Author Throwdown – J & Jaylene’s Favorite Things

Today at Tessera Guild, authors J Edward Neill and Jaylene Jacobus go head-to-head in their first ever e-interview.

Unlike most of our super friendly interviews, this one got a little colorful.  🙂

The blow-by-blow is right…here:

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J EDWARD NEILL: Today’s creative interview is with Seattle author Jaylene Jacobus. Hello Jaylene, and welcome to Tessera!

JAYLENE JACOBUS: Hi J! It’s great to join you here.

J: You just published your debut novel, The Midnight Circle. Tell us about it.

JAYLENE: Hold up, J. I thought we were being interviewed. As in, you and me. Together. Cowriters. Partners in crime. East Coast Hustler and West Coast Enchantress. Internet besties.

J: Nope. None of that. I’m interviewing you.

JAYLENE: Why do you get to ask all the questions?

J: Because I’m good at it. It’s my thing.

JAYLENE: True statement! I love all your Coffee Table Philosophy books. You’ve written hundreds of thought-provoking questions, which makes you inquisitive, analytical, and investigative. But when you ask all the questions all the time, you become…

J: What?

JAYLENE: An askhole. 🙁

J: An askhole? 🙂

JAYLENE: Fear not. I’m good at asking questions, too. And I’ve softened your image. You know, with that book we wrote together.

J: 101 Questions for Single People! That was a lot of fun. Let me just say that writing a book for singles kept my image fully intact. I’m all about dating…as many women as possible. At once.

101-Q-for-S-P-Image

JAYLENE: Good times, indeed! But I wasn’t referring to that book. I was referring to our other book. 101 Questions for Couples! I’m all about romance and true love. Together forever.

101 Qs for Couples

J: In all honesty, I enjoyed writing about couples. Almost as much as writing about singles.

JAYLENE: And I enjoyed writing about singles. Almost as much as writing about couples.

J: One thing’s for sure. They were both a blast to write.

JAYLENE: The funny thing about both books is that our readers can’t always figure out which questions I wrote versus which questions you wrote. I can see why. We’re practically the same person. Except I’m the girl version of you.

J: Wait. Wouldn’t that make us opposites?

JAYLENE: Potato, Potahto. Tomato, tomahto. Let’s prove how similar we really are.

J: Or dissimilar. How?

JAYLENE: By answering questions about…

A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS


1) INDOOR HOBBY

J: Sex

JAYLENE: Reading. But I read this. So we’re one for one.

2) SUPERHERO

JAYLENE: Captain America. He’s the quintessential hero.

J: Yawn. Don’t like ’em.

3) VILLAIN

J: Dracula

JAYLENE: Dracula!

4) DINNER

J: Steak and potatoes

JAYLENE: Tofu and kale

5) WEATHER

J: Cold rain on a warm evening. Such that the steam rises from the still-warm grass.

JAYLENE: Cold rain on a humid day. Such that perfumed steam rises from still-warm magnolias.

6) SPORT

J: Baseball

JAYLENE: Ballet

7) NEO-NOIR PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

J: Se7en

JAYLENE: We’re Se7en for Se7en!

8) BROADWAY MUSICAL

J: None of them

JAYLENE: All of them

9) TV SHOW

J: Nada

JAYLENE: None

10) COLOR

J: Black

JAYLENE: White

11) ADVENTURE NOVEL

JAYLENE: The Count of Monte Cristo

J: The Count of Monte Cristo

12) SEASON

JAYLENE: Winter

J: Summer

13) HOLIDAY

J: Halloween

JAYLENE: Halloween!

14) OUTDOOR HOBBY

J: Running, alone, in the wilderness

JAYLENE: Walking, in good company, through the forest

15) POET

JAYLENE: Edgar Allan Poe

J: Poe

 16) SPORTS TEAM

J: Chicago Cubs

JAYLENE: Whoever the Seattle team is

17) BAND

J: Danzig

JAYLENE: Danzig!

18) ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE

J: Balvenie 17 Doublewood with a single oversized ice cube

JAYLENE: Probably what J said. But I don’t drink, so I don’t know.

19) ROMANTIC COMEDY

JAYLENE: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

J: Terminator

20) FINAL QUESTION. THE GLASS: HALF-EMPTY OR HALF-FULL?

J: There is no glass; therefore it’s neither half-empty nor half-full.

JAYLENE: There is no half; therefore my glass is always brimming full.

 


 

JAYLENE:  Well, J, I think we just proved how similar we are.

J: Actually, Jaylene, I think we just proved how dissimilar we are. Half of our answers didn’t match.

JAYLENE: Which means half of our answers did match. But weren’t you listening to me? There is no half, and if you don’t have a glass, take mine. It’s brimming full with Balvenie 17 Doublewood.

J: I’ll drink to that…

J

JAYLENE: Ok, J. The party’s over. Let’s get back to work.  We have more books to write. Together and singularly. Rumor has it, you’re plotting to end the world…

Jaylene xoxo

J: And rumor has it, you’re plotting to save it.

JAYLENE: In other words, we make a great team.

J: I’ll drink to that as well…

Drinking Wine

 

* * *

Fin

Interview with Brandon Easton, screenwriter for Marvel’s Agent Carter, Part 1

In an exclusive collaboration with TesseraGuild.com, BlackSci-Fi.com presents the first part of a 2-part interview with screenwriter, and comic book writer Brandon Easton on his work on “Marvel’s Agent Carter” upcoming season 2 episode, “Monsters”.

Since the creation of Iron Man in 2008 Marvel Studios has continued to grow their shared cinematic universe through film and television. Pulling from a wide array of licensed characters found within the pages of Marvel Comics, they’ve stretched from the farthest reaches of the galaxy (Guardians of the Galaxy), to the seedy streets of Hell’s Kitchen, New York (Daredevil).

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Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Image Credit: ABC/Marvel TV

On both film and television the studio has found critical and commercial success, and shows no sign of stopping. This is further exemplified by such television series as ABC network’s, Marvel’s Agent Carter.  The television show follows the story of the Strategic Scientific Reserve’s (SSR) finest and most brilliant secret agent, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Introduced in Captain America: First Avenger, Peggy Carter has become one of the MCU’s (Marvel Cinematic Universe) most prominent characters, fighting evil in World War II ravaged Europe, and now in late 1940’s Hollywood, CA.

The show is in its second season, and this coming week will air two episodes on 2/16/16: Life of The Party (Episode 6), and Monsters (Episode 7).

Adding another notch to his ever growing portfolio of work, Brandon Easton joined the writing staff of Agent Carter in 2015, on the heels of his acceptance into the 2015 Disney/ ABC Writing Program. This has culminated in the upcoming 2/16/16 premiere of his addition to the MCU, with an episode that he wrote, the aforementioned Monsters.

Easton’s body of work continues to grow in the arenas of comics, animation, and now live action television with such standouts as his creator owned Shadowlaw comic book series, his documentary Brave New Souls: Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of the 21st Century, his work on the Glyph Comics Award winning/ Eisner nominated Watson and Holmes, WB Animations ThunderCats, and the recent Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics nominated Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven.

In an interview with BlackSci-Fi.com, Easton spoke about his time spent in the Disney/ ABC Writing program, his work on Agent Carter, his writing career, what he’s learned during his time in Hollywood, along with other topics in this two part interview.

“It’s a really long story, to really get into it. I had a really up and down 2014, between family stuff, and career stuff,” Easton said speaking about his acceptance into the Disney/ ABC Writing program. “I was nominated for an Eisner in 2014 that I didn’t win. But the very week that I didn’t win the Eisner I’d also lost out on two really important jobs. Well maybe not important, but two lucrative jobs that would’ve kept me alive throughout the end of 2014. Things got really bad.”

BrandonEasterheadshot

Brandon Easton

“If I didn’t get into the ABC/Disney Writing Program I honestly don’t know what this past year would’ve been like for me. I had no idea what would’ve happened to me. So to make a long story short it was an incredible feeling.”

“I was one of 8 people selected in the program. Halfway through the program they try to get you staffed on any show in the ABC family, and the ABC Family networks. First, getting into the ABC/Disney Writing Program which is damn near impossible, that was amazing. Then when they said “we have an opening on Agent Carter and a couple of other shows”, and they sent me out, it just happened that Agent Carter really was the best fit.”

Gaining an inside track of sorts into the inner workings of the executive side and development branch of the ABC network, Easton was able to utilize his time spent with the ABC/ Disney Writing Program to expand on his knowledge of what it truly takes to put together a television program.

“The program puts you in a very unique position. You get to meet with development executives within ABC the studio, and the network, which are two different things as I found out.  You get to spend time with people that you would never get a chance to meet in any other capacity,” Easton explained.

“And you learn things about the business that don’t get reported anywhere. You learn things like who’s actually in charge. You learn about the people that actually make the decisions.  There’s no class in the world that will tell you that. So the ABC program puts you in the unique position to really understand the business side of it, because all the people who complain 24/7 every single day, whining and complaining about this and that, very few people understand the business side of it.”

“I learned so much about how things actually work that it changed the way I thought as a creator.”

Easton provided an example of such insight which involved a scene that he wrote for his upcoming Agent Carter episode. It was here where he found how the business of the network can affect the scripting process, while also informing how he’d write future scripts.

“To give you an example, I wrote a couple of night scenes. I also wrote a scene in the desert. When you’re shooting a night scene you’re actually going to be outside. A typical TV recording/ shooting day is anywhere between 12-15 hours. That’s typical. Sometimes you’ll go onto 20 hours. I didn’t know that,” Easton explained.

“So I was writing a bunch of night scenes and I wrote some scenes in the desert. Next thing you know we start shooting at 6pm, we’re out all night until 6 am. We were shooting in the desert and I’d never spent any time in the desert.  I’m from the East Coast, from Baltimore, what the fuck do I know about a desert (laughter)?”

“We go out in the desert, and it’s like, did you see The Martian by any chance? There’s a scene in The Martian where the red dust of Mars is blowing across the landscape, and you can’t see shit. The spaceship is falling over. I felt like I was in that position. We were in the desert at 5 am the wind is like 90 mph, sand is cutting through everything, and I realize in the future I’m no longer going to write any scenes in the desert.”

“I’m going to make sure I don’t write too many night scenes either because you have to realize everything you write that they can physically achieve, you’re actually going to have to be there for the entire shoot. And that’s something I didn’t really know and nobody can prepare you for that.”

BEBANNER2

Brandon Easton’s comic book work including Shadowlaw, Watson and Holmes, and Andre the Giant: Closer To Heaven

As the new recruit on the Agent Carter writing team, Easton explained that though the experience was an irreplaceable one, being the new kid on the block wasn’t necessarily the best feeling.

“It didn’t feel great,” Easton explained. “And this is nothing against the people that I worked with because they are really good people, and I learned a lot from every single one of them. But I came in on a show that had already had a season.”

“It’s sort of like transferring from one school to another as a sophomore. You come in and the relationships are already made. You weren’t there for the freshman year to build those relationships. I often felt like the odd man out, I was the only black person there, and that wasn’t always fun, but that’s the reality of the business.”

“So at the same time you’re also there to learn because you’re new. And you try to find a way to make yourself useful to the people. You don’t want to make your bosses’ day harder than it already is going to be. I learned a lot, I had some good teachers, so I really can’t complain.”

WYNN EVERETT

Wynn Everett as Whitney Frost, Image Credit: ABC/Marvel TV

Easton’s work in the writers room, his years of screenwriting, and the ABC/ Disney writing program culminated in an episode which he’s called “The Empire Strikes Back” of this season. The writer explained that the episode focuses on this seasons’ archenemy, Whitney Frost (played by Wynn Everett), who deals a major blow to Carter and her team. Throughout the season, Carter and Frost’s struggle has risen in a tense and exhilarating fashion, and it seems that Monsters will possibly bring this conflict to its climatic and destructive head. Adding to the growing pantheon of complex MCU villains, Frost seems to be on a path to test Carter in a way that she hasn’t encountered before.

“I can’t wait for people to see her performance (Wynn Everett). She really brings it. She brings it hard,” Easton said.

“It was fun (writing an episode featuring a villain). My episode is a Whitney Frost episode in a way. A lot of the episode is dealing with something that Whitney Frost is working on. The way that the episode works you have to have some bad things happen in order for the heroes to come back. My episode is sort of like the Empire Strikes Back episode of Agent Carter.”

Easton further explained that he was able to have a hands on experience with the filming of his episode. Being able to be on set when Monsters was filmed, Easton explained was an invaluable experience, as he gleaned more information into the development of his story from script to screen. In addition to gaining this experience, Easton found another perk of being a screenwriter on a major network series: you become a go-to person for those in front of and behind the camera.

“In TV the writer is basically number one. On set, the director knew I was new, the producer who was with me on set knew I was new. So I was really observing and learning how it goes.  Also, no matter how good you think what you wrote is, some actor somewhere is going to say there’s a problem with it, and ask “can I say it this way?”, Easton said.

“Whatever you’ve got to get (in terms of filming) that day you’ve got to get. So a lot of times actors will have ideas, the directors have ideas, and sometimes you listen and sometimes you don’t. More often than not there are good suggestions but you don’t always get the flexibility to make changes.”

“I was on set, I was participating, I had a say in things, and if I didn’t like something I’d let them know, but more often than not I liked it. You don’t want to be saying shit to just say stuff. You want to make sure that if you’re saying something it actually makes sense.”

Marvel-Television-SeriesAt the end of the day Easton explained that his experience writing the Agent Carter episode was an important one, that he appreciates on both a writing/ creative front, and as a fan of the MCU.

“As a fan, that’s a good question. I can’t even figure out where to begin,” Brandon said.

“I was working with some ridiculously creative, talented people. And knowing that every word I write is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because Agent Carter is in the Captain America films, she was even in Ant Man at the beginning. So she’s a part of that world, so everything that happens in any episode of Agent Carter also occurs at some point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

“It hasn’t hit me yet because it hasn’t aired. But trust me when I say once it airs, and particularly with the type of stuff that I deal with in my episode, its really going to hit me hard then.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 of BlackSci-Fi.com’s interview with Brandon Easton which will be available with the 2/27/16 relaunch of www.blacksci-fi.com.

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Episode 7 of season 2 of Agent Carter,”Monsters”, premieres  2/16/16 on the ABC Network, at 10 pm EST. Check your local listings for exact times.

Many thanks to the fine folks of www.tesseraguild.com for this great collaboration opportunity.

 

 

The Flocksdale Fireball – Carissa Ann Lynch!

Boom!

Today at the Guild we’ve got another awesome creative interview lined up. Our guest is Carissa Ann Lynch, author of the Flocksdale Files series. Her latest release, House of the Lost Girls, is out now!

F4

Let’s get to know Carissa…

Hi Carissa! Welcome to Tessera Guild’s latest creative interview. We want to know all about you: DOB, home address, social security #… But seriously, give us the goods on yourself:

Haha! Thank you so much for interviewing me! It’s an honor to be featured on Tessera Guild. So, about me…my birthday is July 18th. I’m (approximately) 30 years old. I live in a tiny town called Floyds Knobs in Indiana with my husband and kiddos. I have a degree in psychology and most of my career background has been in mental health and corrections. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started writing seriously. I’ve always been obsessed with collecting books and reading, and I enjoyed journaling and writing short stories, but never considered myself a “writer”. One night I couldn’t find a book to read, so I got it stuck in my head that I would just write my own book. From there, it became an obsession and I’ve never stopped!

Carissa

The Sharpie, an essential tool in Carissa’s arsenal.

 

So…we hear you’ve got a new book, House of the Lost Girls, storming the world TODAY. It’s the second book in the Flocksdale Files series. What’s the series about? Where will House of the Lost Girls take readers?

The Flocksdale Files is about the most f&#cked up town in America, Flocksdale. In book one, Have You Seen This Girl?, readers were introduced to Wendi Wise, a struggling heroin addict hell bent on seeking revenge. At the age of thirteen, she was lured away from a local skating rink and held captive in a place she called the “House of Horrors”. Dumped off on the side of a dirt road, she found herself addicted to the drugs they fed and in fear for her life. So, she runs away from her hometown of Flocksdale, leaving her friends and family behind. After a tumultuous eight years of addiction, rehab, and foster care, she decided it was time for a homecoming party—so she makes a plan to hunt down the monsters of her youth. The monsters she remembers all too well from a tiny, little town called Flocksdale…

In book two, House of the Lost Girls, readers will again find themselves stuck in the horrific, demented town of Flocksdale. Only this time, they’ll get to meet seventeen year old Marianna Bertagnoli. (Although Wendi will make some appearances in Book Two). Marianna is miserable. Not only did her father abandon her five years ago, but she’s being uprooted and forced to move with her mom and stepdad to a creepy old house in a lame town called Flocksdale. It doesn’t take long for her figure out that her new house is none other than the infamous “House of Horrors”—the very house where a demented family kidnapped and murdered young girls several years before. History has a way of repeating itself, and within a week of moving in, one of her small group of new friends is found murdered, her mom disappears, and she’s attacked by a man wearing a hideous clown mask. Targeted by a new generation of evil, Marianna needs Wendi’s help to unravel the bizarre history of Flocksdale.

When did you know you wanted to write this series? What inspired you?

I never intended for Have You Seen This Girl? to be a series, but after I signed my contract with Limitless and sat down to start something new, I couldn’t stop writing about Flocksdale. I started writing it two years ago. It was originally titled “The End”, after the song “The End” by The Doors. That song plays a significant role in the story itself and it also served as inspiration for this book. There are so many things that inspired me to write this book. First of all, Indiana has recently received nationwide attention for our heroin and HIV epidemic. Addiction is an issue that is important to me, personally and professionally. I’m also interested in women’s issues that I address in the book—sex trafficking, sexual violence, post-traumatic stress, addiction, self-esteem, etc. I felt very connected to Wendi and she took the reins on this story. Although the first story has a clear, distinct ending, I felt like there was so much more to say and do…and that’s when Marianna came along. By the way, there is also going to be a third book. It’s called Carnival of Dead Girls.

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Your cover art is amazing. As in; everyone wants to date the Flocksdale Files girls. Tell us about your cover artist:

Oh, I know. You’ve been stalking my girls on Twitter for a while now hahaha! I have a girl-crush on them myself. I would LOVE to tell you about my cover artist! Her name is Ashley Byland and she’s a designer for Redbird Designs. She does a lot of the cover art at Limitless Publishing, and she is just amazing! I’m so grateful to her for making me such gorgeous covers and bringing my characters to life. Here is her website: www.redbird-designs.net. I recently tracked her down on Facebook and asked her to make me some bookmarks, promo pics, and an author logo. She’s nice as can be, and she can do it all!

It’s a tough world for writers these days. The competition is pretty much everyone in the world. What do you find most challenging? And what are some things that inspire you to continue to write and market your work?

For me, the hard part isn’t writing. The hard part is what comes after—trying to match my work to a certain genre or meet word count expectations, etc. And then of course there’s the marketing side of things. I’m incredibly shy in real life and gloating about my own books makes me extremely uncomfortable. Luckily, I’ve made so many awesome friends this past year—other writers who know what it’s like—and seeing them do it helps me feel a little bit more comfortable. As far as staying motivated…as long as I get to hold that book in my hand when I’m finished, and there are a couple people who want to read it, I’ll keep writing. I just want people to read it, so if I market all day long and only gain one reader, I see that as a success.

Let’s say someone wanted to immediately jump into reading the Flocksdale Files series. Where should they go?

Both books, Have You Seen This Girl? and House of the Lost Girls, are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, and select stores.

Thank you so much for interviewing me!

 

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Carissa is all over the web! Find out more about her and get links to her books at:

Amazon

Facebook

Carissa’s Blog

Goodreads

Limitless Publishing

Twitter

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Special thanks to Carissa (and all our other guests) for being a part of the Tessera Guild Creative Interview series. Look for more interviews to come!

Tessera Guild 2015

Creative Interview with Martin Powell

Martin PowellThis week’s creative interview is with author Martin Powell, who I wish I had met at JordanCon back in April, but our paths never crossed. We connected afterward via Facebook and it’s been wonderful to discover Martin’s amazing library of talent. I hope you’ll be delighted too!

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and what you love.

Well, I’m an insomniac writer of prose, graphic novels, and children’s books, with hundreds of published credits, which I suppose is proof of my restlessness. I was born and raised in Louisville, Ky., spent a number of years in the Twin Cities, but now I reside in Florence, Alabama with my wife, Leia Barrett Durham Powell.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer, a creator of stories?

I did, actually. Although I was also interested in many other things like stage magic, astronomy, and my formal education was in paleontology, which I’m still deeply connected with. But the writing bug bit me very early. I wrote my first book during Christmas holiday when I was in the second grade. So, yeah, I’ve always been lucky enough to know exactly what I wanted to do.

Martin Powell and the Komodo Dragon

 If you had to pick a favorite genre, which would it be and why?

Martin Powell and the T-RexNot sure if I really have a preference. I’ve pretty much written in every conceivable genre, from mysteries, science fiction, horror, comedy, westerns, and over two dozen children’s books. Ray Bradbury was a great friend and mentor, and he always stressed remaining flexible, which is crucial for the survival of a full-time writer like me. Happily, I’ve be able to write some of the industry’s most popular characters, such as Superman and Batman, Sherlock Holmes, Popeye the Sailor, and Tarzan of the Apes. I’m a very lucky guy.

We never officially met at JordanCon this year, but I saw you there. How and when did you become a part of this amazing event?

It was an amazing show, for certain. Actually, I sort of tagged along with my wife, as she’s a regular presence at JordanCon, with her novels and stained glass art. We both had a great time and, as a first-time guest, I felt very welcomed and at home there. Next year, please come to my table and say hello!

Martin PowellWhat are you working on now? And where can we find more?

Well, my most recently published books are JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN, from Dark Horse/Random House (which, amazingly, sold out within a couple days of being released), and a new children’s graphic novel version of ROBINSON CRUSOE, from Stone Arch Books. Currently, I’m writing seven different weekly online comic strips for Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and Leia and I are co-writing the prose novel, THE HEART OF FRANKENSTEIN, a genuine sequel to Mary Shelley’s original book. A number of other new projects loom in the near future, but I can’t talk about them yet. I’m looking forward to all of it. I always believe that the best is yet to be.

You can Follow Martin Powell on…

Amazon
Facebook

Thank you, Martin for taking time out of your busy schedule for our little interview. I will definitely stop by your table next year!!

Mortal, I am

The following piece is from Tessera guest blogger, Troy Jackson. Troy’s novel, The Elementals, is available now on Amazon!

 

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Mortal, I am

It’s a topic that few like to publically or privately discuss – our own mortality. However, it is used as a writing tool in many novels and comic books by both fledgling authors such as myself and well-known uber-popular authors like J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown. Imagine Harry Potter without facing Lord Voldemort and certain death. Or Robert Langdon not running for dear life in The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, or Inferno? They would be rather dull pieces without fear of death. Would you not agree?

The older I get the less I enjoy watching the news. All that seems to be shown are murders, child abductions, or apartment fires. And if the news stations have it their way, it’s any combination of the three! No news is bad news, right? I can’t say I blame these news stations, as bad news is what sells and they are in the business for ratings. It’s a rather sad truth about society today. But alas, I digress. This article isn’t about the news or how pathetic our lust for negativity is.

Ironically and possibly hypocritically, it is because of the negativity in society that I write. As much as I loathe the baleful effects of television and the internet, I use it as much as the next person. My tales always include a degree of mortality, as it is what ultimately interests many readers.

I will freely admit – I do not look forward to the day when I leave this world. My own mortality is something I’ve been keenly aware and frightened of since I was about eight years old when I wrote a poem entitled, “I am afraid of death.” Over the years, said poem disappeared into the annals of history, lost in some nauseating dumpster. But it is the first thing I can ever remember really writing for myself and not for school. I look to it as a catalyst, possibly the catalyst, in eventually becoming a novice writer. So in a weird sort of way, it is because of our mortality as a species that I push forward with writing, and writing whenever I can. I have many stories to tell and not enough time to tell them! So I leave you with this:

Time is immortal.

But mortal, I am.

Life is fleeting, so live it to its finest,

and then write about it.

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About the author:

Troy Jackson (found at http://www.tempestworks.com) Born in 1974 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Troy Jackson moved to the great state of Georgia with his family at the age of three where he has lived ever since. Currently he resides outside the city of Atlanta with his lovely wife and daughter. His passion for history, fantasy, and science fiction began at an early age with a little nudge from his older brother. Attending Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia, he received a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a Master’s Degree in Teaching. In his spare time he enjoys being with his family, watching and partaking in sports. Although new to the profession he intends on writing about subjects that have always fascinated him, including fantasy, adventure, science fiction, and history.

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Look for Troy to pop up in future Tessera Guild articles!

 

Twitter Tyrannosaurus – Creative Interview with Author JL Clayton!

Boom!

That’s the sound of Twitter detonating.

If it’s way loud, it’s because this week’s creative interview is with The Chosen Saga author, JL Clayton. She’s fun, she’s funny, and she’s all over the Twittersphere like white on rice.ChosenSaga

Let’s do this:

Hi JL! Welcome to Tessera’s latest creative interview. Start us off by telling us a bit about yourself:

Hello Tessera. A little about me: I consider myself to be a laid back, friendly person who has her shy moments. I’m silly most of the time and I love to see people smile, plus I’m a big hugger. Last year I had my first book signing at That Book Store. The same store that John Grisham had his first signing. That day everyone who got a book from me also received a hug. I’m sure some people thought I was crazy. I loved it. I also try and help everyone out if it’s within my ability. I’m a 33 year old author who loves her family, friends and life. I have been writing for almost two years. I feel it’s a big accomplishment to have published two books within a year and being a mother to such a smart beautiful girl like Shyla. That’s just the tip of the iceberg with me, but if I don’t stop now I’m sure I’ll be writing you my life story.

Let’s talk about the Chosen Saga. It’s all over Twitter and social media. Give us the goods on what it’s about and why you decided to write it:

The Chosen Saga is about a teenager named Charlize, aka Charlie.  She learns she isn’t quite human. She is spunky, sarcastic and she doesn’t take no for an answer. In the first book of The Chosen Saga; A Spark of Magic, you get the feel of what’s going on. Charlie moves from city to city, never understanding why her family has to move so much. Now she and her family it seems are settling down and she is thrilled about this prospect. Plus, the fact that she is turning sixteen, making friends and crushing on some seriously hot guys who seem to like her; doesn’t hurt either. Charlie learns a lot about herself and the truth of why she is always uprooted. She finds out who keeps invading her dreams and why she feels so drawn to him. There is a mixture of a normal life and a supernatural one. In book two, A Blaze of Magic, I pick up from the cliffhanger. You meet more characters like sexy Vampires, beautiful Dragon Shifters, and many other supernaturals including the wicked Crispin. Charlie is finally using her magic and becoming the person she was meant to be. Of course there is a cliffhanger in this book to set the tone for A Ghost of Magic – Book 3.

Why I decided to write the Chosen Saga: I watched the movie Twilight and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I was telling my friend that I wished I knew what was going to happen. She was like, “Jen, you do know the movie is based off a book, right?” I told her that I didn’t. She said I needed to give it a try. Well, because I had to know what happened next; I read the books. I became an instant book lover. I have to give my friend Nikki the credit for encouraging me to read it; if not for her I might never have thought about writing. So I just got off topic…sorry…back to what I was saying. After reading a lot of books, I had a dream about Charlie. And yes I know that is cliché… But it’s the truth.

Tell us about your creative process. Got a strict method? Or maybe you’re a freestyler?

I’m more of a freestyle writer, but sometimes I will crack my knuckles before I start. Or I will do something silly, like dance with my daughter. But I would say mostly freestyle.

What kind of stories inspire you?

I am not picky. I love all kinds of books and if the book is good, it can inspire me. Every time I read a book I love, I seem to be set on that author. As in I have to read all they have written. So at any given moment, I’m inspired by the author I’m currently reading.

What do you find most challenging about being a writer?

Dividing my time between work, my life and promoting. I’m not too good at the whole prioritizing thing.

Aside from Twitter, at which you’re legendary, how can people reach you?

Haha. Yeah, I don’t think I’m legendary, maybe by my emoticons.

Here’s where you can reach me.

Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Chosen Saga Website

Where can people get their grubs on the Chosen Saga?

The Chosen Saga is available in paperback and eBook format.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/kindle/series/B00XLX31J0?ref=series_aw_dp_link

Barnes & Noble: http://t.co/icRO7SlpH3

JLClayton
J.L. Clayton – Author and Twitter pro

 

 

You can also get my book from me; I send out signed copies. My books are available on Smashwords, iBooks, iTunes, and many more. Send me a email through my website, and I’ll get it to you!

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That’s it for this week’s interview. Check out JL’s books and link up with her at Twitter.

And stay frosty. Next Monday we’re gettin’ deeeeeeeeeeeeep.

J Edward Neill

The Lord of Infinity – A Creative Interview with Dylan Kinnett

This week’s interview is with Dylan Kinnett. He’s a Baltimore denizen and creative writer extraordinaire, and his visit is special for the Tessera Guild. The reason: Dylan is the taller, younger, and better looking brother to J Edward Neill (yep, that’s me.) I was first introduced to Dylan’s fascinating style of writing in his original release of Infinity’s Kitchen. And now that he’s gone global, he’s up next in our ongoing Creative Interview series.

So let’s get started!

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Hey there, latest Tessera victim. Tell us about yourself, where you’re from, and what you love:

Hi, my name is Dylan Kinnett. I’m from Baltimore, Maryland. I’m not originally from Baltimore, but I wonder: after spending 10 years in a place, do you become “from” that place? What does it really mean to be “from” a place, anyway? Does it just mean that you live there, that you’re proud to live there? In any case, the place where you live is part of who you are. Despite whatever repetitive loop you may have seen on cable TV lately, Baltimore is a charming place to be, and I love it here.

In layman’s terms, describe your unique style of writing:

That’s a difficult question because the layman’s terms aren’t particularly accurate for what I’ve been writing lately. If you ask a layman what “poetry” means, they’ll probably describe rhyme, meter, rhythm, and they may go on to say that it’s supposed to be about romantic themes and imagery. I’m trying to avoid all that, and to write something else, something new. I’ve discovered that the laymen are actually quite open to these new things, so long as I don’t use too many confusing old words for those things. Is it poetry? Sure, but I don’t go out of my way to call it that. In general, I’m just trying to do new things. I also like to write short plays, stories, and I dabble in performance art.

Please describe for us your fascinating new release, Litanies and Reiterations:

Litanies and Reiterations is a chapbook, which is a small book of writings. The works within the chapbook got their start as a collection of commonplace phrases. I’d find the phrases in everyday conversation, in song lyrics, blog comments, and catalogs: all over the place, really. Then, I worked the phrases into some writings that are repetitive, reiterative, or chant-like, and that’s what the title is about. One of the pieces, for example, is about how often politicians talk about the world and their work in four-year increments, and about how arbitrary and absurd it is to think about the world that way. Another one makes fun of how many love songs are on the air. It’s a playfully sarcastic little book.

Talk about Infinity’s Kitchen and the interesting things readers might find therein:

Infinity’s Kitchen is a literary journal that I started a few years ago that has grown into a quarterly reading series as well. As the editor, I’m looking to feature works that are somehow the product of an interesting new recipe. In order to contribute to the publication, its website or reading series, authors and artists are asked to answer a question: what is experimental about your creative work or process? The word “experimental” is a difficult one; some examples might help. Some of the interesting things we’ve published include a film and pirate radio project, poems made with Jello letters, and a reading from gigantic broadsheet printings revived from the 18th century.

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Do you have an ultimate artistic goal you’re pursuing?

Yes, but I don’t know what it is yet. I’ll create something, it doesn’t reach the goal, so I keep creating.

Creatively speaking, what’s next for you?

I’m on vacation this week, but I do hope to finish writing a ten-minute play that I’m working on. The play is a follow-up to a morbid parody about astronauts that was performed a few years ago, but I’m finding that to be a tough act to follow.

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It’s a real treat to have a talent like Dylan stop by, and it’s especially neat to encounter his awesome style of artistic expression. Here’s a few more Dylan-related tidbits and links for you to devour:

Artistic statement: http://seks-ua.blogspot.com/2013/08/dylan-kinnett-artist-statement.html

His latest release, Litanies and Reiterationsavailable in paperback and in e-book formats from Apple and Amazon.

Infinity’s Kitchen

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Thanks again to Dylan for stopping by!

Everyone stay tuned for the next Creative Interview!

J Edward Neill

Author of the brain-tingling Coffee Table Philosophy series.

Creative Interview with Author and Illustrator Michael Blackbourn

I’ve met more than a few amazing creative people via Twitter.  One of those is Michael Blackbourn, an author and illustrator (just for starters). He agreed to let me shine a spotlight on his creative endeavors this week!

Cindercast - Chapter 1Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and your journey to being a published author and illustrator.

Thanks for this interview and thanks for asking. My journey on the road of published author and illustrator is really just beginning. I’ve had a creative inclination for a long time and It’s only recently that I’ve channeled it directly into telling my own stories. After finishing high school I spent a few years jumping out of planes blowing stuff up in the army. The idea of combining camping with guns seemed attractive and I was fortunate to have been stationed in Italy while I was enlisted.

I didn’t really want to wake up one day and realize I was forty and still sleeping in a puddle. So I used my time wearing camo face-paint to figure out what I wanted to do next. Since I’d already tried the combination of camping and guns I figured I would take two other passions and see how they worked together. Art and computers were up next. I went to a 3d animation school and am now employed as a 3d visual effects supervisor, I’ve been lucky to work on films like Iron Man, District 9, Mocking Jay and many others.

Have you always loved both writing and illustration?

I’ve always loved drawing. Telling a visual story is what drew me into 3d animation and effects. The writing is more recent. It’s a way to communicate the storytelling in my head without needed things like the huge budget needed for film. It’s definitely been the hardest part for me to learn. As a voracious reader I could have always told you what novels I liked, but its so much harder as a writer to craft those words into something someone else may want to read.

Can you tell us a little about your process and your choice of medium?

My process for my first book was a mess. It was a single idea, What if you were small and lived on a beach, what would that world look like. From there it took a couple years to turn sketches and notes into a narrative and art that was a finished product. Along the way I learned so much about books, publishing, ebooks, art, and writing. In the end most of the art was done with pencil and paper and then finished using a digital paint program. The cover of my kids book, Cindercast, was a fully digital oil painting. From my feature film work I’ve become accustomed to having an ‘undo’ to rely on.

Cindercast

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in both your art and writing?

I’m not sure yet. I’ve completed a kids illustrated adventure book and I’m putting the finishing touches on a sci-fi short story (non illustrated). One is a journey of a tiny girl having to survive on the beach between the tides and the other is about the madness triggered by an AI researcher about to launch a super intelligent thinking machine. The similarity between them is that I like to transport the reader somewhere and challenge their thinking on a subject. Both stories show the world from a perspective that isn’t our usual experience.

Barnacles

What are you working on now? Where can we go to view/purchase your work?

Cindercast by Michael Blackbourn

My sci-fi short story is in progress. It needs another month or so of editing and then I’ll put it up on Amazon for sale at 99 cents. My kids book is available here: http://amzn.com/B00T2T9PYW

You can get it as a paperback or as a kindle ebook. I put in a lot of effort to make sure the formatting of the art would look great as an ebook and in paper. Also please check out my website www.michaelblackbourn.com or www.cindercast.com for other news about me or my work or my art.

Author Interview and New Book Release – Keith Rommel!

Welcome to the latest in our long-running series of creative interviews. We’ll be interviewing creative individuals in the realms of writing, illustration, comics and more. Today we have author Keith Rommel, Long Island native, Floridian transplant, and author of grim new thriller, The Devil Tree!

Let’s get right to it:

Hi Keith! Welcome to Tessera’s latest creative interview. Word on the street is that you’ve got a new book. Please tell us ALL about it.

The Devil Tree is based off of a Port Saint Lucie Florida legend that I like to call the dirty little secret of this otherwise quiet community. There was this serial killer that would kidnap hitchhikers and preferred them in groups of two. He would hold them at gunpoint and make them negotiate why they should live and why their friend, the person he kidnapped them with, should die first. The killer has been noted as saying “Why kill one when you can kill two?” You couldn’t imagine how lively the conversation would get while one pleads for their life and begs you to kill their friend first.”
Bodies were buried and discovered years later.
DT

Awesome cover. Just straight up grim, just the way we like it.

Now tell us about yourself. Give up the goods on where you’re from and how you got here.

I am from Port Saint Lucie Florida and have lived here for over ten years. I’m originally from Long Island and came here to escape the hustle and bustle of the speedy New York lifestyle. I’ve adjusted to Florida living just fine and like it here. I am the writer of eight novels and have penned the critically acclaimed dark suspense Thanatology series. The debut novel in that series, The Cursed Man has been filmed as a major motion picture and is coming out this October, premiering in California. I am the co-screenwriter of the film with producer James L. Perry.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you have a strict method or…?

When I get an idea I do my best to outline it. Once the story is outlined, the writing process begins. The first draft is usually a train wreck but I edit it over and over again, and start adding details and all the characters’ personalities. The rewrites are my favorite part because that is when the story and characters start to take on lives of their own. It is during this process that I either love, hate or sympathize with the major players in the novel.

What kind of stories are your favorite?

I like my imagination being challenged every step of the way. I don’t like knowing the answer to the story after only a few chapters into the book. It is imperative to me when I write my stories that I write a plot that is not only difficult to guess what’s really going on but deliver a surprise ending that is long lasting.

What do you find most challenging about being a writer in today’s world?

The most challenging aspect of being a writer for me is standing out in a very overcrowded market. With technology making it easy for most anyone to be a writer, I believe the only way to rise to the top and build your audience is by being patient, release solid, well-told stories, and put out a finished product that won’t turn readers off. Professional cover, edited inside and a professional layout of the internal text is key. At no point can I afford to appear amateurish. I need to breathe new life into a genre that is plagued with zombies and end of the world conflicts whether pandemic or war.

How can people reach you?

By visiting my website: www.keithrommel.com. I answer all fan mail and questions from aspiring writers myself. There is a tab to contact the author.

How can people get a copy of The Devil Tree or some of your previous novels?

The Devil Tree is available as a hardcover or on your Kindle. It is on Kindle Unlimited and the unique thing about this release is if you buy the hardcover, you get a free download of the Kindle version. They can visit my author page by going here.

And now, from the back cover of Keith’s latest book, The Devil Tree:

Based on the Port St. Lucie Legend
Back in the 1970’s, a series of bizarre incidents occurred at what has since been known as “The Devil Tree.” Beneath this ancient denizen, evil was wrought by a sick serial killer, calling upon forces most evil and dark. People were hung there … and bodies buried there … exhumed by the police. Overcome by superstition, some tried to cut down the tree, to no avail. Since then, it has stood in a remote section of a local park — left to its own devices — quiet in its eerie repose — until now!

Best-selling psychological-thriller author Keith Rommel has imagined the whole tale anew. He’s brought the tree to life and retold the tale with detail only possible in a fiction novel. Action-packed, with spine-tingling detail, this thriller is beyond parallel in the ground it uncovers … one author’s explanation of what may have really been said — what may have really happened — under Port St. Lucie’s “Devil Tree.”

Check out more of Keith’s work:

Author of The Cursed Man, The Lurking Man, The Sinful Man from the critically acclaimed psychological horror series. The Cursed Man is coming soon as a major motion picture. Also available from Keith Rommel: You Killed My Brother (crime) and Among the People (paranormal).

Author site: keithrommel.weebly.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Thanatology.Series

Amazon: amazon.com/author/keithrommel

 That’s all for this week.  

 Special thanks to Keith for appearing.

More is always to come.

J Edward Neill

 

Interview: Cosplayer and Makeup Artist Bekah Shambrook

Bekah ShambrookI’ve been looking forward to this interview for the last several weeks. Bekah Shambrook, daughter of author (and friend) Lisa Shambrook, is an amazing artist. AMAZING. Often times, she is her own canvas.

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and what you love.

I’m Bekah from Carmarthen, West Wales and I love art, I always have. In school I was the art nerd, you could find me in the art rooms in every spare moment. I loved it. It was only natural for that to follow into my life, I now work part time as a freelance make up artist and spend every spare moment making cosplay costumes.

How did you get started in makeup artistry and cosplay?

I always loved art but it took a while for me to work out what aspect of it was truly me. Throughout school I tried photography, pencil drawing, digital art, sculpture… I enjoyed them all but they were never quite me. When I started my GSCE’s at the age of fifteen I decided to recreate Salvador Dali’s Mae West on my own face (I’m afraid I don’t have the photo any more), and that was the beginning. I branched out in the same course and used my family to recreate the amazing looks from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and, for the first time, tried my hand at prosthetics turning my sister into a zombie in the name of art. Much to her dismay, I had never actually learned what to use, and used PVA glue and tissue paper (don’t try that a home). Once I left school, I started a face painting business (www.masterpiecefacepainting.co.uk) which I still run and love, but I quickly decided to expand into makeup artistry and I’ve worked with photographers to create wonderful pieces of work.

Masterpiece MUA Sample

The cosplay is more recent but it all ties in. I didn’t take fashion or textiles at school, I didn’t know how to sew, I wasn’t great at sculpture, but I’m nothing if not ambitious! A few of the models I know through the makeup work also did cosplay, and I love watching the cosplay music videos on youtube so I thought, why not? My first cosplay was November 2014, I decided to cosplay Thranduil from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I had no idea where to start, but I managed it!

Bekah Shambrook as Thranduil

My second, and most recent, was this March. I decided to cosplay Maleficent from the recent Angelina Jolie film, but I didn’t want to cosplay her later costumes, the leather and staff… Oh no, I wanted to cosplay her Queen of the Moors costume, y’know, the one with the wings! So off I went, and 100 hours later I had made her dress, horns, armour, and fully articulated wings! (I even won Cardiff Film and Comic Con’s open Masquerade!)

Bekah Shambrook at MaleficentAre there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again?

When it comes to makeup I love to create extreme looks, I love to challenge myself. My favourite looks are the ones where I have complete freedom, when there are no constraints.

As for cosplay, I have a list as long as my arm of cosplays I want to make! Although there are characters I love that have simple costumes I tend to steer away from them for cosplaying, as I said earlier, I love a good challenge. Cosplay is a learning tool for me, I will never know it all. I learn something new every costume I make. So I guess to answer your question, I’d have to say, anything with a challenge.

What are your goals and aspirations?

My goals are small ones, in terms of cosplay I would be honoured to be invited to guest at a convention. Big, small, anything, I think that would be wonderful. I also aspire to have the confidence to enter a big cosplay contest like London Super Comic Convention’s Championship. At the moment, the goal isn’t to place, but just to have the confidence to enter.

One day I’d love to visit San Diego Comic Con too…

What are you working on now? Can you give us a peek?

Right now, I’m working on Toothless from How to Train your Dragon, but with a twist. I’m making it a humanoid, armoured Toothless. I’m hoping to have it ready by London MCM Comic Con in May, but I have only just started so wish me luck!

Toothless Plans

You can see all my making of photos on my facebook page linked below, but for now, here’s a sneak peak of the armour design.

Links:

Arkhdrauth Cosplay Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ArkhdrauthCosplay
Masterpiece MUA Website: www.masterpiecemua.co.uk
Blog: https://www.bekahcat.wordpress.com
Twitter: @BekahCat
Instagram: @Arkhdrauth

Creative Interview with Illustrator/ Creative Designer Takeia Marie

For me, Facebook has become a great resource for finding great artistic talent, and Takeia Marie is one of my most favorite find’s. Takeia’s credits include work done with Food Network’s “Chopped” champion, Josetth “Josie” Gordon, CJ Fly of Pro Era, The American Physical Society as an animation consultant, while also contributing work as an editorial writer for The Hip Hop Speakeasy. Hailing from New York City, this gifted artist recently took time to speak with the Tessera Guild about her career, her process of creation, and how her home city influences her work.

angel_banner_sizeTell us about yourself, where you’re from and any training you’ve had in the visual arts, comics medium.

I am an illustrator from New York. I went to school for animation, but found myself more drawn to illustration, developing concepts and storytelling (mostly in comic books). I started teaching myself more about those things and the business behind illustration. I’m still learning more everyday.

What is the first thing you remember drawing?

The first thing I remember drawing seriously was Sonic The Hedgehog when I was younger. I was a huge Sonic fan from the first time I played the first Sonic game on the Sega Genesis back in the day. I had all the comics and loved the stories.

Can you tell us a little about your process and your choice of medium?

I always say I’m a hybrid of digital and traditional media when it comes to how I draw. It really depends on what I’m drawing and how I feel at the moment. But for the most part, I’ll use Photoshop or Manga Studio to lay out my work. Could be anything from a rough sketch to something more refined.

At that point, if I want something to be illustrated on paper or a client wants something tangible, I’ll print my rough and lightbox over it. Otherwise, I’ll digitally draw and color everything. If I’m doing graphic design work, I’ll usually sketch out an idea on paper and then, using my sketch as a guide, create everything in Illustrator. At the end of the day, though, I don’t think any one tool, whether it be digital or traditional, is better than any other. It’s about the artist and how he or she chooses to use it.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your art? Are there any particular artists who inspired you to work in the comic book medium?

The first person who inspired me to draw comics was my cousin. He is an artist too, and is the person I credit with getting me into anime and the comic book medium. Before, I didn’t realize that it was possible to actually draw for a living. From there, I kept reading comic books, studying them, and getting how-to books to learn the depths of drawing comics.

As for themes – the thing is, I’m drawn to anything that has a good story and interesting characters. I get excited about drawing characters who are dynamic and stories with interesting and diverse worlds. For the most part, if  I can get excited about a story or the nature of the characters in it, it really doesn’t matter the genre or particular subject matter, so long as it sparks something that I can relate to.

You’re a native New Yorker. Do you find that your city informs your work in any way, or are there elements throughout your day that you find might creep its way into your work?

I find myself drawn to work that is very sketchy or gritty and energetic, as opposed to work that is super clean. I think that comes from the grittiness of New York, and the kinetic movement you’ll find in the graffiti that has just become a part of the iconic look of NYC. I enjoy drawing odd little things like buildings and streets or the cracks in a concrete sidewalk -anything that feels dirty or imperfect.  I’m also a huge Hip-Hop fan, and I find myself trying to integrate that raw, aggressive energy that you find in the music into some of my work. Growing up in New York has definitely had a big influence on me artistically.

What are you working on now? Where can we go to view/purchase your work?

I’ve actually been trying to branch out from just staying in the comic book/illustration world (even though I still enjoy doing those things very much). Right now I’m working with iSojah, a Hip-Hop artist out of Columbus, Ohio, on some of the design portions of his Klasik Media imprint, which will be a go-to place for up and coming hip-hop artists and musicians, fashion designers, and entertainers who need help getting started.

war_paint_low_resIn between client work, I’m also working on my own project, The Forgotten. Something totally unrelated to art – I’m a contributing editorial writer for The Hip-Hop Speakeasy, a Hip-Hop blog that is dedicated to covering independent and slept-on Hip-Hop artists and bringing their music to the forefront.

People can view my work here:

www.takeiamarie.com

www.atomiclattestudio.com

Twitter: @KiaPeya

 

 

 

Author Interview – PS Syron Jones!

Welcome to the latest in a series of creative interviews at Tessera Guild. We’ll be interviewing creative individuals in the realms of writing, illustration, comics and more. Today we have author Phill (P.S.) Syron-Jones, crime-drama author of Rise of a Phoenix!!

Let’s get started:

Tell us about yourself, Phill. Give up the goods on where you’re from and how you got here.   

PS SyronJonesI was born and raised in the West Midlands (Great Britain) where I had a great childhood (which I still haven’t quite grown out of.) Later, after a small term at College I joined the Army where I served 22 years. I am married to a brilliant young woman and I have one fantastic daughter. After leaving the Army I decided to settle in Germany and in my spare time try to write.
The project I am working on is a crime series set in New York, each story been a stand alone so it doesn’t matter if you miss one. I have tried to make it as twisty as possible but at the same time simple to read. Eventually I hope to span out to fantasy and maybe children’s books. My website is: sjoecable@wordpress.com.

When did you first know you wanted to write? What’s the first thing you remember writing?

When I was at school I was always making up stories in my head (as one does) but when i got to English lit my world was opened to a whole new level. We would be given a word and told to write a story on that word. Unfortunately the two page essay became a novel. I knew then what I wanted to eventually be. I remember one time we were given a word “The wall”; this soon became my first detective story. I even drew a front cover.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you have a strict method or…?

I just have an idea then jot it down. Sorry there is no real science in it, but that’s the way the grey cells work. At home I have lots of notebooks; each one has a title and a rough storyline in it. These are then put away for when I have finished one book so I can move straight away to the other. When I am writing, the story just comes to me; sometimes I am surprised about where the story is going and that’s the fun part. If you (the writer) are shocked, then hopefully so will the reader be.

What kind of stories are your favorite?

 I don’t really have a favorite; that’s like saying what’s your favorite movie. For me personally there are too many out there. Just anything that draws me in really and that’s what I try to do with my books.

Tell us about what’s upcoming for you. Got any new books soon to hit the market? Any fresh blogs or short stories you’d like to share?

In March if all goes well, the second book called ” OPERATION UNITY” will be released. As I am a new author I thought about giving at least six months between books just to see how they go. That said, I am working on book three of the series and after that I hope to start on my first fantasy novel. Any new blogs? By the time this has gone out I am sure there will be (thanks for reminding me.)

What do you find most challenging about being a writer in today’s world?

The challenges are galactic. As a new writer you have to spend so much time on social media; half the time you don’t get a chance to write. You have to sell yourself not just your book. I work full-time so writing as well as working means instead of a book a month it takes up to six. But I guess that makes it feel like more of a hobby than a job. Years ago you would get an agent, then publisher, then the world; now you have to do that yourself as a self-published author. It is hard getting into traditional publishing, there is no doubt about it, but that for me is the end goal. Sure I can say I am a published author but it’s saying I have an agent and publisher that gets me sweaty. Writing is the easy part; selling your book is the hardest part. All I can say to any aspiring author is don’t give up. If it is what you want you will find a way.

Check out Phill’s latest crime-drama book, Rise of a Phoenix, now available on Amazon! 

RofP_high

Creative Interview with Fantasy Artist Angela R. Sasser

Welcome to the first creative interview at Tessera. Each month we’ll be interviewing creative individuals following their passion in art, illustration, writing, comics and more. This month we have artist Angela R. Sasser. We’ve not met in person, but we were both in the Dragon Con 2014 Art Show. Thank you for joining us today, Angela!

Dreaming Butterfly by Angela R Sasser

Dreaming Butterfly by Angela R Sasser

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from and any training you’ve had in the visual arts.

I’m a military brat whose dad was in the Army, so I’m from everywhere! We moved every two years of my childhood, just about. If I had to pick a ‘home’, it’d be North Carolina where I spent the majority of my childhood. I currently reside in Atlanta, Georgia where I work out of the 2nd bedroom of an apartment which we’ve turned into a studio.

I’ve had formal training as a Studio Arts major at the University of West Georgia where I learned a lot about figure drawing and using traditional media. The rest where digital art is concerned is all self-taught. I’ve been extending my education with classes like Painting Drama from the Oatley Academy and Proko’s Figure Drawing Fundamentals course. Fun fact, I also was a double major in English and have a masters in Arts Administration. My training and interests are pretty varied!

What is the first thing you remember drawing or painting?

I was an avid colorist as a child. I colored anything and everything and had a massive coloring book collection (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, He-man, you name it!). I imagine a Lady Lovely Locks or She-Ra coloring book was the first thing that I colored! And if coloring doesn’t count, the first thing I ever drew was probably a unicorn. I had quite the intense unicorn/horse phase as a child and used to write and draw my own stories about them anywhere that I could!

The Lotus Eater by Angela R Sasser

The Lotus Eater by Angela R Sasser

Can you tell us a little about your process and your choice of medium?

I’m not picky as far as medium, I use whatever helps me best tell the story. Some of my favorite media combinations include watercolor with color pencil detailing, ink lines with watercolor coloration, and even digital, which I’m actually doing a lot more of these days. I’m planning to experiment with new ways to combine traditional and digital, perhaps by doing graphite images first with digital coloration on top to help me preserve the texture of traditional art which is so delicious.

Kushiel's Dart by Angela R Sasser

Kushiel’s Dart by Angela R Sasser

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your art?

My art has been in flux lately! I did quite a lot of angels and softer watercolor work for my Angelic Visions howto art book, but I’m currently moving towards more darker folklore and character-driven work. I find myself drawn to subjects that combine beauty with an edge of darkness. I want to create the kind of imagery that stays in the backs of your eyelids long after you’re done looking at it.

Keeper of Secrets by Angela R Sasser

Keeper of Secrets by Angela R Sasser

What are you working on now? Where can we go to view/purchase your work?

I’m currently working on images for a book cover portfolio to turn into some of my favorite fantasy publishers (ie. Tor, Wizards of the Coast, etc.) I’m also beginning to explore my own written worlds with illustrations of my characters and stories, which is something I have been wanting to do for years, but never felt I had the skill to do in the past. Oathbound emerged from this exploration of my own worlds.

Oathbound by Angela R Sasser

Oathbound by Angela R Sasser

You can find more of my fantasy work at www.angelasasser.com and more of my Art Nouveau work at www.angelicshades.com.

And if you like masks, I also create original leather crafted masks and accessories over at www.angelicartisan.com.