• VK Tritschler

It's all a point of view

I was walking along our local beach today (which is fabulous by the way and worth the visit) and I was struck with how the visage must have both altered through time and yet remained largely unchanged. New jetty's have been added to the landscape, houses, cars, and families have sprouted like trees along the foreshore, but the sands and shoreline have remained the same. I wondered as I strolled, if one could travel back in time, would it be the similarities or the differences that would be most startling? Likewise, if I was transported to another planet, with the same sand and similar shoreline, would I look up and notice the extra moon, or would I be content to accept the familiarity of the surroundings that have become my home? Perhaps we all get complacent with the similar and forget the notice the differences? I wanted to ask my next two authors how they perceive the world around them to find out what they think.

This month's authors:

Elgon Williams

Elgon is an author of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Mystery with Pandamoon Publishing and currently lives in Orlando, Florida. I was keen to learn from him what drives him to write:

When you are looking at submissions from authors, what excites you when you pick out a script?

The directors and managers at Pandamoon get involved in acquisition screening from time to time, due to the volume of submissions directly after pitch parties. What I look for first is the suitability for the major genres and categories we have designated for our books: Women’s Fiction and Romance, Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, and Science Fiction/Fantasy. Second, is the story engaging and does its pacing maintain interest throughout? Third, are the main characters well developed and are their dialogues realistic. Fourth, does the story arc build to a climax and are all the threads of the story sufficiently resolved at the conclusion.

How do you juggle both writing books and publishing books? Does one influence the other?

Scheduling the workload is challenging at times. Fortunately, I’m semi-retired. What I do is write and assist our authors with their marketing needs. I tend to write better in the morning, so I spend the first four or five hours of each day working on new material or revisions. I also monitor our internal communications and respond to anything directed to my attention. The area directors of Pandamoon communicate and coordinate directly with one another. The publisher has weekly meetings with each of us and our groups. And, of course, we communicate directly with her whenever there is a problem. Some periods of the year are busier than others, but usually, everything fits well into my schedule. I enjoy seeing other authors work progressing through the publishing process and share in their excitement at reaching milestones, like a book cover reveal, the availability of ARCs, and especially the first time they hold a physical copy of their book. It always makes me want to hurry up and finish a new manuscript of my own.

What do you find most difficult about the publishing process, or what part of the process utilizes the most of your time? T

he part of the process that takes the longest is substantive editing. The cover is designed concurrently with this process because both steps must be completed before the book can be advanced to final content editing and an ARC is produced. It is also the longest period of perceived silence for the author. As Director of Marketing, I reach out to the authors several times to ensure they know what is going on in the background, reassuring them that their book isn’t stuck in limbo. Once the ARCs are issued things speed up and I find that most authors aren’t prepared for that change of pace. But one of the things we do is provide each author with a checklist of marketing activities they can do prior to the release of their books. This checklist also indicates some of the steps in the publishing process so that they have a better idea of what is going on in the background.

If you could visit any book event in the world, which one would you like to attend and why?

It seems like every major city has a festival. I’ve attended a few. I prefer smaller events because it is more likely to find the less well-known authors there. If you want to hear the truth about the publishing industry and the challenges of the current climate in the marketplace, this is where you go. Also, the smaller events allow for much greater interaction between the authors and the readers. For anyone starting out, perhaps self-publishing a book or marketing a book published through a small publisher, it is always best to begin your journey to success at a local level where it will be easier to establish a supportive fanbase and branch out from there. Attend the big city shows to meet major authors and perhaps listen to panel discussions for the experience and have your questions answered. But at a smaller festival, you may be asked to sit on a panel. That will help establish your credibility as a published author to your readers. Egon is a social media whizz and has a range of options to connect with readers:

I hope you can take a moment to support him, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!

Christina Hamlett

Christina is a prolific author with a range of books and theatrical scripts. With over forty years of knowledge and experience I was interested to know how she managed it:

What do you enjoy most about writing non-fiction/self-help books for writers?

It’s a joy to be able to help my fellow wordsmiths’ journeys by sharing tips and insights I’ve gleaned in 40+ years. When I started out, there weren’t nearly the resources which are available now. Accordingly, much of what I learned was a combination of trial-and-error plus being blessed with editors and publishers who took the time to teach me what I needed to know. Along with how-to books for writers, I have also penned two business books (Media Magnetism: How to Attract the Favorable Publicity You Want and Deserve and Office For One: The Sole Proprietor’s Survival Guide) which impart advice on how to go it alone without getting lonely, maximizing one’s resources (including time), and dealing effectively with the media. And although non-fiction has always come easily to me, I have just as much—if not more—passion for theatrical scripts and novels. (To date, 182 plays, and 43 books.) Even works of fiction call for serious investment in research whether this translates to history, architecture, food, classic literature, fashion or pop culture. Likewise, I’m fortunate to have a husband who enjoys doing table reads of my new scripts over adult beverages in the dining room. Since we have both been on stage, we throw ourselves with gusto into doing different voices and accents. When the windows are open, I’m sure the neighbors think there are at least 17 other people living with us.

What drew you into becoming a playwright?

It was a natural extension of having trodden the boards for 16 years as an actress and theatre director. For eight of those years, I ran my own touring theatre company and wrote all of the original one-act and full-length scripts we produced. Having both a cadre of actors and season-after-season of enthusiastic audiences, it was a great way to test new material. I disbanded the company in 1986 to devote full-time to my writing, explore new markets and mentor aspiring playwrights through online classes.

Who is your favourite playwright of all time and why?

Two of them, actually. The first is William Shakespeare. Had he lived in the 21st century, I have no doubt he’d have made an incredible screenwriter. His characters are compelling, his themes are timeless and his observations about the human condition still resonate over 400 years after they were written. And why else would it have been standing-room-only at The Globe with audiences returning time and again to watch plays they had already seen? It’s because they knew a good story when they saw it. As for my second fave playwright, it’s my own writing partner, Jamie Dare. Jamie was an online screenwriting student of mine in the summer of 2012 and I so loved her imagination, wicked sense of humor and expertise with snappy dialogue that I brought her on as a partner. We have since written 10 scripts, a chick-lit novel, and have several new books in the works. It should also be pointed out that our writing styles are completely seamless; not even my husband can tell our pages apart.

How did you organise this co-writing venture and what challenges did you face?

The most unusual aspect of our writing partnership is the fact that although we both live in Los Angeles County, we have spoken only once on the phone and have never met in person. All of our brainstorming and writing is done via email. Yes, seriously. Whether it’s a scene in a script or a chapter in a novel, I’ll write the set-up and then—when I hand it off— let her know what the “reveals” are for the next portion she’s going to write. There is a lot of latitude within this quirky but effective framework for her to edit my scenes/chapters, introduce new characters, and add depth and twists to the existing storyline. Since we never completely know what the other person is going to come up with, it makes it a very exciting process for both of us. Think of it as two people taking a cross-country trip. They know where they ultimately want to be but there are so many sights and unexpected side-trips one driver can take while the other is napping in the backseat. I completely trust her—and vice versa—to take us someplace fun. As for challenges, we just have to make sure we are never in the same zip code at the same time. If we were to accidentally meet each other, I am sure there would be a ginormous rip in the cosmic fabric of the universe and nothing would ever be the same.

Christina loves to catch up with her readers via her website I hope you can take a moment to support her by checking out one of her pages, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!

I wish to thank you for taking the time to read and engage with me! Happy reading everyone! VK Tritschler

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