Author Spotlight: SM Henley

2016-494 eBook Sue Clynes, Scratching in the Dirt, B01Today I’d like to introduce SM Henley, an urban fantasy writer who rapid-fire published their first three novels, the Written by Birds trilogy, earlier this year. She’s been kind enough to share the inspiration and process behind her first novel, Scratching in the Dirt, with us today! I hope you’ll enjoy reading this interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it.

The Book

A father in Hell, a dead lover, and a demon gangster on her tail. Today is the best day of Tazia’s life.

Demons are taking savage control of the disillusioned and down-at-heel. Half-vampire, Tazia, wants no part in it. She’s embracing her first taste of freedom in one hundred and fifty years. But liberty doesn’t come easily. When her celebrations are interrupted by a psychopathic angel, she is forced into a distasteful alliance to save the demon who was once her jailer.

Assisted by her best friend, a sex-addicted technomancer called Billy, she struggles to free herself from the angel’s evil plan. No easy task, when faced with resistance from a demonic terrorist, and pursued by her ex-lover—a human mercenary now out for her blood. If she fails, will Tazia ever regain her freedom or will she be forced back into a life of tortuous incarceration?

Scratching in the Dirt is the first in the Written by Birds trilogy, and is an adult urban fantasy novel set on the streets of modern-day Turin, London, and Detroit. It treads lightly in the darkness, with not a small amount of blood and gritty humor. Just ask the birds.

Editor Spotlight: Casey Lawrence of 11/9: The Fall of American Democracy

coverToday I’ve got something a little different for you: Casey Lawrence, a good friend of mine and an author who was interviewed here in 2015, has come back to The Dabbler, this time wearing an editor’s hat. She’s spent the past several months working on an anthology entitled 11/9: The Fall of American Democracy, a collection of poetry and prose that focuses on highlighting marginalized voices. We had a lovely chat about the anthology editing process, why anthologies like this one are so important, and how writers can turn their political despair into creative energy. All that below the fold–but first, the blurb!

The Blurb

Presenting the diverse voices of those most affected by the results of the 2016 American presidential election, 11/9: The Fall of American Democracy is a charitable project meant to prioritize and highlight marginalized writers for a good cause. One hundred percent of profits from the sale of this book will be donated to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, and the ACLU, the nonprofit organization defending the constitutional rights of Americans.

11/9: The Fall of American Democracy contains the work of a number of award-winning poets and authors including Roger Aplon, Laura Foley, Alan w. Jankowski, Mike Jurkovic, Sergio A. Ortiz, Mindela Ruby, Claire Scott, and Jan Steckel, in addition to a number of unpublished poets and fresh young voices. From a precocious four-year-old writer to octogenarians, amateur poets to Pushcart nominees, American expats to teens who have never left their hometown, this volume collects poetry and short prose reflecting on 11/9/16, a dark day in American history.

#InkRipples: How much of your story should be in your blurb?


Today I’m joining the wonderful Mary Waibel, Kai Strand, and Katie L. Carroll for this month’s #InkRipples challenge, and we’re talking about blurbs. Since my debut, Keeper of the Dawn, came out last month, I’ve been thinking about blurbs a lot. Especially because although I didn’t write the blurb for Keeper of the Dawn, I will eventually be writing my own blurbs when I self publish.

So today I’d like to tackle one of the most important questions in blurb writing: how much of the story should you include? We’ll be using Keeper of the Dawn‘s blurb as the main example, but I’d love you to share some of your favourites (or least favourites) in the comments section!

Author Spotlight: HL Carpenter

Emma 3D Cover Image (Medium)Today’s author, HL Carpenter, is actually a mother-daughter writing team. I met these lovely ladies way back when I worked for Musa Publishing (now defunct), and their first novel, Skyhorse,  was freshly out on its first print run. Musa closing was not going to stop them, and this dynamic duo has not only gotten Skyhorse back into print but also published five more novels. Today they’re here to chat about their most recent novel, A Cause for Murder.

Please give them a warm welcome!

The Blurb

Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident—until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.

Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?

#Ownvoices Author Spotlight: Michele Berger

REENU_YOU_FRONTCOVER Today’s author, Michele Berger, is an EXTRA special guest: the second author in The Novella Initiative, which launched with my own Keeper of the Dawn. Her novella,  Reenu-You, came out May second and is available for purchase in most places where books are sold (all buy links below the interview). She’s been kind enough to share some of the inspiration and process behind this amazing book. I hope you’ll enjoy our interview as much as I did!

The Book

New York City, August 1998. On a muggy summer day, five women wake up to discover purple scab-like lesions on their faces—a rash that pulses, oozes, and spreads in spiral patterns. City clinic doctors dismiss the women’s fears as common dermatitis, a regular skin rash. But as more women show up with the symptoms, one clear correlation emerges–an all-natural, first-of-its-kind hair relaxer called Reenu-You.

As the outbreak spreads, and cases of new rashes pop up in black and Latino communities throughout New York, panic and anger also grow. When the malady begins to kill, medical providers and the corporation behind the so-called hair tonic face charges of conspiracy and coercion from outraged minority communities and leaders across the country.

At the heart of the epidemic are these five original women; each from different walks of life. As the world crumbles around them, they will discover more about each other, about themselves, and draw strength to face the future together.

Writing to yourself

LetterToMeIf you’ve been writing for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the advice to write for yourself first at least a thousand times. This is obviously great advice, but today, I’d like to suggest something a little different: writing TO yourself. It’s a technique usually thrown about in self help circles rather than writing circles, and for good reason. Writing to yourself forces you to really consider where you are. There are also a few ways you can use this technique to improve your life.

Today I’d like to talk about a couple that have helped me develop a better relationship with myself.

#Ownvoices Author Interview: Kellie Doherty

LosingHoldEbookCover150dpi Today I am thrilled to introduce author Kellie Doherty, whose second novel, Losing Hold, came out last month! She’s been kind enough to share the inspiration behind the story, the challenges of writing a series, and representation in speculative fiction.

Please give her a warm welcome.

The Book

In the sequel to Finding Hekate, after escaping Donavin’s grasp, Mia Foley and her crew crash on a prison planet and need to deal with its inhabitants, beast and criminals alike. Mia hears Donavin in her mind once again and knows the transformation into one of his drones isn’t far off. Trapped in her own body, lashing against Donavin each chance she gets, and fearful that she’ll lose it all, Mia has to rely on her crew—on Cassidy—to save her. But she’s not the only one transforming in her little group, and things never go as smoothly as they could out in the black.

#Ownvoices Author Spotlight: Sophia Beaumont

spiderswebsmallMental illness is either underrepresented or poorly represented in all genres of fiction, so I’m especially pleased to introduce today’s author, Sophia Beaumont. Sophia’s novel, The Spider’s Web, is the first in a series of YA urban fantasy novels about Evie, a demisexual young woman struggling with anxiety and depression. The book also takes place in Montreal, Canada, and Canadian stories always earn bonus points in my heart.

So, please give Sophia Beaumont a warm welcome!

#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop: Letters to explore character

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2 This week I’m participating in a new monthly blog hop run by the wonderful Raimey Gallant, the #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop, a monthly event quite similar to the #Inkripples challenge I’ve been doing for the past few months. The big difference is that #InkRipples has a different theme every month, whereas this new blog hop’s theme is always the same, delightfully broad topic: resources for writers. And this month I’ve decided to share an exercise I’m using right now to develop the world and characters of my Big Insane Fantasy Series (which you’ll learn more about soon, I promise):

Letters Between Characters

When you think of character development the first thing that comes to mind is probably a massive character profile. There are thousands of templates for these profiles online, all asking for a dry list of facts. What is your character’s hair colour? What is their eye colour? How tall are they? How many siblings do they have? Where do they live? Where do they go to school or work?

These character sheets have a use, but for me they’re something to fill in after building a character, not before. I learn the most about a character by walking them through actual writing exercises. And one of the biggest things I do is let the character describe their daily life and most important memories to me.

Around the time I first started blogging I did a personal “Dear Diary” challenge, with the goal of intense character development. I wrote a diary entry from the viewpoint of a character–in this case the goddess of death, Astarael–every day for a month. I actually started each entry with the words “Dear Diary”, because it helped me conquer my fear of the blank page. So, essentially, I wrote a bunch of letters from one character to herself. I also posted a bunch of them on my blog, and if you look hard enough you may even still be able to find them.

This year I’ve decided to write a series of actual letters between multiple characters. If you’ve ever read some of the many published historical letters, you’ll know that letters can tell you an incredible amount about a person. Every word written speaks volumes about their personality, their relationship with the other person, their view of the world around them.

If your characters are really interesting and you know what you’re doing, letters between characters can also become saleable short stories. Hell, you can write an entire novel in letters. I’ve never liked books written entirely in letter format (I honestly can’t think of one I’ve ever finished), but I love novels that incorporate some letter writing. I love one-off shorts in letter format even more.

Long story short, letter writing as a character development exercise is a win win scenario. I’ve already started, and so far it’s proven itself as both a powerful writing exercise and a great way to trick my brain into writing short stories.

That said, I’ve got about a million more projects now than I did when I created the “Dear Diary” challenge for myself, so I’m definitely not committing to a letter every day. Or even every weekday. This time I’m not focusing on the quantity, I’m focusing on the quality. My goal is to write one letter from each main character in my current novel. This will help me quickly develop my semi-large cast, especially if I focus them all on major life events. And I already know it will be a lot of fun.

Have you ever written a letter between two of your characters? Do you think this would be an interesting exercise? Let me know in the comments section below!