Author Interview — C. A. Szarek

Chrissy-140 I’m pleased to welcome author C.A. Szarek.  She writes in the fantasy, paranormal, romantic suspense, and Young Adult genres.

C.A. is originally from Ohio, but got to Texas as soon as she could.  She is married and has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.  She works with kids when she’s not writing.  She’s always wanted to be a writer and is overjoyed to share her stories with the world.


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Sword’s Call (King’s Riders Book One) is available now from Gypsy Shadow Publishing.

Collision Force (Crossing Forces Book One) just released on June 28, 2013 from Total-E-Bound Publishing.  Bad boy FBI agent and feisty widowed police detective collide pursuing a human trafficker in small town Texas on their way to true love.

Poseidon’s Scribe:  When and why did you begin writing fiction?

C.A. Szarek:  Oh gosh, I have been writing since I was very young. Poetry when I was seven or eight, and then stories that slowly wended themselves into novels when I was about fourteen.

P.S.:  What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

C.A.:  Hmmm, a hard one. The most difficult part for me is telling my inner critic to be quiet so I can just write. Sometimes I question too much: The story, myself, where the scene is going. I think the best part is making up stuff. Hehehe. Bringing life to characters, making them real people. Making them have feelings and emotions and making them real.

P.S.:  What inspired you to write Collision Force?

C.A.:  I’m not sure it was any one thing specifically.  I have a law enforcement background, and I have always been interested in this type of story. I watch tons of cop shows on TV, so I thought I could write one! I “met” Andi and Cole a long time ago, when I was about seventeen. So, they’ve been with me for years. But it was good I waited to write their story. I didn’t have the expertise to write it back then.

P.S.:  What is the audience you’re trying to reach with that book?

C.A.:  Well, it is a romantic suspense novel, a mix of a good cop story and a love story, so I would assume women would be into it.  But I know a few guys who have checked it out and have liked it, so who knows?

P.S.:  You’re an author of fantasy, paranormal, romantic suspense, and YA.  Why do you prefer those genres?

C.A.:  I never set out to write multi-genres. But when a good story occurs to me, I write it. But I have always been a fantasy girl. It’s fun to make up your own world, but it’s difficult, as well. But I like my romantic suspense world of Crossing Forces (that’s my series title) as much as I love the world of the King’s Riders (my fantasy series)

P.S.:  Every Tuesday, your blog features interviews or guest posts from other authors, and it usually gets many comments; why do you think that regular feature has become so popular?

C.A.:  I’m not sure. I love authors and books and reading as much as I love writing, so I love to share all the authors I know with the rest of the world. I try to promote, promote, promote. I hope everyone will check out my friends’ books as much as I want them to check out my own. I think if we all work together to get the word out, we can all succeed.

P.S.:  Without giving too much away, what is your current writing project?

C.A.:  I am working on Chance Collision, which is the 2nd book in my Crossing Forces Series. It is Pete and Nikki’s story and I am loving it so far.

P.S.:  What advice can you offer to aspiring writers?

C.A.:  Don’t ever give up. Rejection happens. If you want it bad enough, you keep going. Always.

Thanks so much, C.A.!  I wish you every success. My readers can find out more about C.A. Szarek at her website, her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.  Her site at Gypsy Shadow Publishing is here.

                                              Poseidon’s Scribe

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Is ‘Write a Novel’ on Your Bucket List?

bucketHave you created a bucket list, and decided you’d like to write a novel before you kick the bucket?  Before you commit to that, we need to talk.

First, although I don’t have a bucket list myself, I like the concept.  What a great way to take charge of the rest of your life, to seize the remaining days and bend them to your will, to enjoy the wonders of being alive in this world at this time.

I think your attitude toward your list is important, though.  You shouldn’t consider your life a failure if you don’t cross off every item.  As Robert Browning said, your reach should exceed your grasp.

Most bucket lists contain items that can be thought of as events, or one-time experiences.  In the 2007 movie, “The Bucket List,” the characters’ list items included going skydiving, flying over the North Pole, visiting the Taj Mahal, going on an African safari, and visiting Mount Everest.  Those types of list items are fine; it’s a good idea to experience what our world has to offer.

However, writing a novel isn’t like that at all.  It’s been said that writing a novel is a one-day event.  As in, “one day, I’ll write a novel.”  Unless you sign up for something like Nanowrimo or the 3-day novel contest, writing a novel normally takes many months.

Further, there’s a significant difference between listing ‘write a novel’ and ‘get a novel published.’  Attaining publication is much harder than just writing a novel for your own enjoyment.

True, there’s a great feeling of accomplishment in writing “The End” after your novel’s first draft, and I imagine an ecstatic feeling at seeing your own novel in print, but both of those feelings are preceded by many long, solitary hours/days/weeks/months of writing.  Just in case you didn’t know that.

In short, writing a novel is probably unlike other items on your bucket list.  It’s less like ‘visit the Grand Canyon’ or ‘see a show on Broadway’ and more like ‘learn dentistry’ or ‘become a rock star.’  In other words, be prepared for a major time-suck.

So, you understand all that but have decided to keep ‘write a novel’ on your bucket list anyway?  You’re that determined?  Great!  I say, go for it.  I wish you luck.  Remember, if you are able to get your novel published, that work of creativity will survive your own death.  If it’s good enough, it could even become a classic and live on forever.  Even the work of a sculptor doesn’t survive as long, for stone eventually wears away, but the words of a book can be reprinted endlessly.

If you’ve made a bucket list, I’d love to hear about it, whether or not writing a novel made your list.  Let me know by leaving a comment.  Be assured that ‘one day,’ a novel will be written by—

                                                                               Poseidon’s Scribe

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Ordering a (Writer’s) Retreat

Planning a writer’s retreat, are you?  Already looking forward to that free weekend, or even a full week, away from the stress of work, away from the chores of home?  A few days away from everything, with time to devote purely to writing.

writing retreatSo much time!  Why, you’ll be able to finish up that novel.  You might even knock off a short story or three.  Do some new characters sketches for the novel’s sequel, and lay out the plot line.  Polish up some query letters.

By now you’ve spotted the signs of a ‘lower your expectations’ lecture.  But it’s easy, when you only have spare minutes or a rare uninterrupted hour during your normal life, to imagine how much more you could get done with a whole day or more at your disposal.

Did you ever stop and think that those odd spare minutes are the right amount of writing time for you?  Is it possible that more time would not result in more writing?  Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands to fill the time allotted to it.”  One corollary of that law is, “The amount of time available to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task.”  Or, as a coworker of mine phrases it, “If you put off a task until the last minute, it will only take a minute.”

In theory, it’s true that you should get more writing done if you have more time, such as during your upcoming retreat.  Understand, I’m not opposed to writer’s retreats, just unrealistic expectations for them.  Definitely go on the retreat.  Before you do, compile a list of things to get done, a long list.  Go ahead and make big plans, set stretch goals.  But don’t kick yourself too hard if you fall short.

After all, you’ve trained yourself (in effect) to write in short bursts, and you’ve acclimated to that mode now.  During your retreat, you may find yourself needing a break after just an hour of writing.  Your mind will wander.   You’ll find excuses to do other things.  That is the pattern you’ve set, the habit you’ve made.

I suggest you make use of that habit.  Here’s a way to use it to your advantage during your retreat.  Consider making a list of many different writing tasks you want to do.  The more different from each other, the better.  Then, while you’re at your retreat site, spend a half hour on the first task.  Bring a timer or alarm to inform you when the time’s up.  After that half hour, take a five minute break, during which you stand up, walk around, stretch, etc.  Then tackle the second task on your list for a half hour and so on.

Since you’ve accustomed yourself to working in short bursts, make the retreat a long, repeating series of short bursts.  You may find that method works for you.

One more thing about retreats.  In the weeks leading up to the planned date of the retreat, I urge you not to put off things.  Don’t say, “I’ll do that writing task during my retreat.”  If you find yourself doing that, you might follow it up by asking why you’re putting off the task.  Why not do it now?

In fact, what’s so special about a retreat anyway?  Why not consider every minute spent writing as a sort of mini-retreat right in your own home?

You might feel differently about writer’s retreats.  If so, please leave a comment and let me have it, metaphorically.  In the meantime, off to a mini-retreat in his own home goes—

                                                       Poseidon’s Scribe

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The Truth About “A Tale More True”

Gypsy Shadow Publishing just launched my newest story, “A Tale More True” and I’m excited about it. Here’s the blurb:

History’s greatest liar, a colossal clockwork spring, a fantastic trip to the Moon…in 1769. Read it, but don’t expect truth.

What made me write a clockpunk alternate history story about an 18th Century trip to the moon? As both of my many fans know, I’m a great admirer of Jules Verne, who wrote a classic tale called From the Earth to the Moon.

One day I was searching the web about fictional trips to the moon and discovered Verne was a bit of a latecomer to that topic. Here are some of his predecessors, and the methods they used to get their characters to the moon, according to this website:

ws-images-reading-09-jan-im01-lucian-true-story-tm• Lucian of Samosata, True History, 2nd Century A.D. Carried to the moon by a waterspout/whirlwind, and Icaromenippus, 2nd Century A.D. Flew to the moon in an aerial carriage.
• Johannes Kepler, The Dream, 1634. Transported to the moon by aerial demons.
• Bishop Francis Godwin, The Man in the Moone, 1638. Pulled to the moon godwin001by trained geese.
• Cyrano de Bergerac, Comic History of Estates and Empires of the Moon, 1650. Launched to the moon by firecrackers.
• Daniel Defoe, The Consolidator, 1705. Rode an ‘engine’ called The Consolidator.
• Vasily Kevshin, Newest Voyage, 1784. Flew to moon in a self-constructed flying apparatus.
• Wilhelm Kuchelbecker, Land of Acephals, 1824. Flew in a balloon.
• Edgar Allan Poe, The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall, 1835. Flew in a balloon equipped with an air compressor.

I was struck by the fact that no one had written about going to the moon using spring power. During the 1600s and 1700s, they knew about the energy-storage properties of springs, the driving force in most clocks, so I thought someone should write that story.

During the research I also happened upon the interesting historical figure, Baron Hieronymus Carl Friedrich von Münchhausen, well known for his fanciful fibs, including tall tales about making two trips to the moon. In one trip he climbed a tall beanstalk, and in the second a hurricane lifted his ship up to the moon. I wondered if a rival of the Baron might be upset by these lies and might set about to prove Münchhausen wrong.

That’s how “A Tale More True” was born.

Subsequently I happened upon this website, and learned that David Russen had written A Voyage to the Moon in 1703, in which a giant spring is used to reach the moon. Oh, well, I wasn’t the first after all!

For you engineers and realists out there, yes, I know a human would not survive the acceleration of being ‘sprung’ to Earth’s escape velocity. However, it might be possible to construct a huge spring within a cylinder, have the spring drawn down in compression, draw a near vacuum in the cylinder, and launch a solid, unmanned projectile to escape velocity. Why you’d want to do that, I have no idea, but it might be possible.

Still, it’s fun to imagine someone building a giant spring in 1769 and travelling to the moon two centuries early. And as long as I was changing history anyway, I figured I’d also change the moon. In most of those early space-travel stories, (except Verne’s), the moon was inhabited. So why not populate the moon in my story?

And, though it’s outside my normal line, why not make the story humorous?

Anyway, enough said. The book has been sprung upon an unsuspecting world, and is available at Gypsy Shadow Publishing, Amazon, Smashwords, and other outlets as well. You’ll enjoy it, thinks—

                                                           Poseidon’s Scribe

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Does Blogging Help Your Writing?

If you’re thinking of starting up a blog as a way to improve the quality of your fiction writing, I’m here to tell you—blogging will have just as much effect on your golf swing.

Hamlet blogMy answer is different if you write non-fiction.  Well-written blogs are like essays, with the same structure and purpose.  The skills needed are the same.

For fiction writers, there’s very little in common between your stories and your blog posts.  The talents you develop doing one won’t translate well to the other.

It’s even possible for blogging to worsen your fiction writing.  Certainly it’s cutting into your productivity, at least.  Each precious minute spent blogging is sixty seconds lost and unavailable for writing fiction.

Also, let’s say you become an expert in all the aspects of blogging, able to craft persuasive, short essays with well-researched facts, finely structured arguments, and logical conclusions.  It’s possible for that ‘lecturing voice’ to worm its way into your fiction, and you don’t want that.

Am I telling you, the beginning fiction writer, not to blog?  No, I’m just helping you set expectations; blogging won’t make your fiction better.  But there are several valid reasons for fiction authors to blog:

  • It helps enforce schedule discipline, and to associate deadlines with writing.  This is only true if you post to your blog on a regular basis.  Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, getting to ‘The End’ is important.
  • It’s a form of self-education.  When I come across an idea for a future blog entry, I add it to my list, (which is quite long now).  When I look to see what topic is scheduled for any particular week, I find it generally involves a bit of research.  So while blogging about the craft of writing, I’m coming across knowledge I can use.
  • The best reason for a fiction writer like you to blog, though, is to build your platform, increase your web presence, and connect with readers.

Blog if you want to, but don’t go into it thinking it’ll make your fiction better.  For those of you who disagree, that’s what the comment feature is for.  Please comment and let your views be known to the world and to—

                                                          Poseidon’s Scribe 

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