Author Interview: Debbie Manber Kupfer

“My brush with cancer made me realize my mortality.  I learned that if I really wanted to write and be published, I needed to start now.” -Debbie Manber Kupfer

What happens when you choose to be an indie author? How do you get yourself into anthologies? What essential message does Adana the Earth Dragon have for children? Meet the brains behind the P.A.W.S. Saga, logic puzzles, and more when you—

Meet Author Debbie Manber Kupfer!

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Introducing Debbie:

Debbie grew up in the UK in the East London suburb of Barking. She has lived in Israel, New York and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis, where she works as a writer and freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. She lives with her husband, two children and a very opinionated feline. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!

Let’s get started!

You are an extremely prolific writer! Which genre or genres did you start out with? Was there a genre you thought you’d focus on first, but ended up going in another direction?

I’ve been writing ever since I was a kid, but only started taking myself seriously as a writer when I started writing P.A.W.S. in 2012. My first love has always been fantasy, and that’s where my main series lies, but I like to experiment in other genres in my short stories.

I also love cats, and nearly all of my stories have cats of some sort in them.

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With Adana the Earth Dragon set to launch this spring, you must be super excited. How did this little dear of a dragon hatch for you? What plans do you have for the launch?

I wrote Adana’s story originally for a fantasy anthology that was supposed to have the theme of the elements. For various reasons the anthology never came about and my little dragon was left without a home.

Finally I was fortunate to meet my illustrator, the wonderfully talented Tina Wijesiri, online and slowly my little dragon came to life. I’m so thrilled how it’s all come together. We not only created a picture book, but Tina also made me line drawings for a companion coloring book and activity book and I added puzzles. I’m currently talking to several local bookstores, libraries and schools about release events.

I officially release on Earth Day (April 22) and am already taking preorders for signed copies of Adana the Earth Dragon and the companion coloring/activity book.

What do you hope children will take away from Adana’s story?

That no matter how small and insignificant you think you are, you are important and have unique strengths. Also that it is important to protect our Earth – so no stomping on flowers.

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I love your concept for Cecilia’s Tale. Is Cecilia based on a particular cat of your acquaintance, or cats through the ages?

Yes, Cecilia’s Tale is loosely based around the story of how my cat, Cecilia (Cici for short) found me and adopted me as her human when I was living in Jerusalem.

Eventually after I met my husband (an American) I moved with Cici to the States. She wasn’t a huge fan of the plane ride. She lived with us for twelve years until she finally crossed over the Rainbow Bridge in 2007.

I wrote Cecilia’s Tale in her memory and Cici also appears in my short story, Will There Be Watermelons on Mars.

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Let’s talk P.A.W.S. The plots in “The P.A.W.S. Saga” look thrilling. How did your characters come to mind? How challenging is it to write with a supernatural twist?

The P.A.W.S. Saga has been living inside my head now for six years ever since I first came up with the beginning scene – Miri receiving her grandmother Celia’s silver cat charm the night before Celia dies. Fantasy is my natural genre – both what I most like to read and to write. I see magic everywhere and often times folk I see around me or snippets of conversation I pick up become part of P.A.W.S. Actually when I write other stories they usually end up being part of the P.A.W.S. universe even when I didn’t intend it that way.

So, for example, my evil green fairies, the Tegs, started off in a short story I wrote for an anthology and then found their way into Argentum (book 2 of my series) and have stayed ever since.

You’ve contributed to several anthologies, such as Sins of the Past. How did you get involved in these collections? What tips would you have for authors who are interested in being part of anthologies?

I love being part of anthologies and have been in quite a few. Some like “Stardust, Always” and “The Longest Night Watch” raise money for charities which is an added bonus.

The Sins of Time series is a joint project between me and Chasity Nicole. I’m the editor of the horror series which so far has three titles – Sins of the Past, Sins of the Future, and Sins of the Gods. We’re currently working on book 4, Sins of the Fae, and I encourage any of your readers who like to write horror to join our Facebook page for details.

Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for calls for submission to anthologies. There are so many out there, but if you don’t find one you like you can always start your own!

What appreciable differences do you find among writing for children, writing for teens, and writing for adults? Has anything surprised you at being the same across ages?

I don’t set out to write for any particular audience. I just write my story and see where it goes. And I don’t believe in dumbing language down for younger readers (or for older ones for that matter). At all ages we want to be drawn in the story and care about the characters. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little earth dragon, a homicidal android (I wrote about one of those for Sins of the Future), or a werecat, the reader needs to care about the characters.

I love logic puzzles, and you’ve got a set of 39 in Paws4Logic! Have you always created your own? When did you first start getting into these puzzles?

Creating puzzles is my “other hat” so to speak. About half of the time I write and edit. The other half I write puzzles, mostly for Penny Press magazines and my website, Paws 4 Puzzles. I write all sorts of word and logic puzzles. Paws 4 Logic was a passion project for me and my son, Joey. We both adore puzzles and wanted to create a book together.

I first discovered logic problems when I was a kid in London. I remember my excitement when I bought my first magazine. I was home. It didn’t take long until I started creating my own and my son Joey also has the puzzle bug.

When you started publishing your books, what would you say surprised you the most about the publishing experience (good or bad)?

I started off published by a local small press. My biggest surprise I think was that they didn’t do very much when it came to marketing. Most of that still fell on me. Two years later when my contract was up I decided not to renew and today I self-publish with CreateSpace and KDP and like it a whole lot better. I still of course have to market my own books, but I also get to make my own publishing decisions about covers, release dates, prices, etc.

Small press has its place and is particularly good for those who are new to the business or are not very tech savvy. But I’m happy as indie and would only go back to trad publishing if one of the big boys came knocking.

What are you planning to launch next?

My next release is Adana the Earth Dragon on April 22 (Earth Day) along with the companion coloring and activity book.

I’m also working on book 5 of my P.A.W.S. Saga, “Cotula”, which I hope to have out by the end of the year. Also my illustrator, Tina Wijesiri, is currently drawing the pictures for a junior tale from P.A.W.S. story geared towards younger elementary school kids.

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Now for some just-for-fun challenge questions…

What type of book do you reach for to lose yourself in? Any favorite titles/authors?

Fantasy or sci-fi mostly. Favorite authors include Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman and Cornelia Funke. I’ve also become a fan of a few indies who put out awesome books: Michelle Proulx, E.A. Copen, R. R. Virdi, Jen Ponce, and M.A. Ray to name but a few.

What’s your favorite non-writing, non-reading activity?

Puzzles and board games, often with my son, Joey. Plus going to concerts with my daughter, Ronni.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or challenging ones?

Yeah, I mostly read them. I try not to let the negative get me down (it’s par for the course when you’re a writer. Not everyone’s going to like what you do.)

When you get a story idea, do you scribble it on any scrap of paper or napkin you can find, or do you have a special notebook or online tool where you keep all the inspiration?

If I’m out and about I yes scribble it on whatever I can find. At home I’ll put it in a doc on my PC for another time. (I’m trying not to get distracted from my work-in-progress.)

If you could go back in time before you started your author career, what advice would you give yourself?

Start earlier. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but didn’t start taking my writing seriously until 2012 when I came out of cancer treatment. Before then I had thought that I had all the time in the world to write, so I delayed it thinking I’d write a novel when my kids were older.

My brush with cancer made me realize my mortality. I learned that if I really wanted to write and be published I needed to start now. If I could go back in time I would have started earlier.

Here’s where to find and follow Debbie, and purchase her books!

Author Interview: Amy J Hamilton

“Day returned to evaluating Rhea in a purely unprofessional manner. She was short, slender, but curvy–maybe–who could tell under the lab coat? Ok, so obviously lab personnel. Her dark hair was tied back in a high pony tail and her glasses didn’t seem to fit as she kept pushing them back on her nose. She wasn’t the stuff of his usual conquests, but there was something about her. Couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but he wouldn’t mind the opportunity to try.” – Modified: Lunar Medical: Book 1, by Amy J Hamilton

Meet Author Amy J Hamilton!

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Amy J Hamilton

Amy J Hamilton is about 300 years old, writes erotica, hails from another planet, and is married with two teenage kids.

She has a house full of a variety of animals of the non-human nature: Tropical fish, a degu called Sam, a tortoise named Crunch, and a bearded dragon named Cossie. Sam is bigger than a hamster and smaller than an elephant.

Crunch still fits in the palm of her hand. Cossie talks and flies while breathing fire, but don’t worry, she’s well-trained! There hasn’t been an incident with the fire brigade for awhile now. Despite all this, Amy runs a small business in her spare time when she’s not writing, thinking about writing, or thinking, “I really should be writing right now.”

Speaking of writing, her debut novel is out on Amazon: Modified: Lunar Medical: Book 1.

She recently alarmed medical professionals when a blood test revealed that she does indeed have blood and not coffee in her veins.


Modified: Lunar Medical: Book 1 is one of the most original and instantly intriguing titles I’ve ever seen. How did you know when that title was right for your story? How did you pick your character’s names? What parts do you wait in glee for readers to get to?

Thank you for saying so. I’ll just come right out and say I hate naming stuff! I find that I name things that already exist and have to rename them. In the end I chose Modified after thinking to myself so I’ve created these randy super soldiers through vague genetic modification…yeah that’ll do-Modified. As I couldn’t see me getting away with calling all the characters 1, 2, 3 etc. I’ve taken place names where I was stuck, Daytona became Dayton, shortened to Day, his surname is a place in London. I can’t wait for people to get to the end and see to be continued and say “Aw, I was enjoying that.”

What qualities would you say are essential for writing erotica? (Sense of humor, lack of self-consciousness, vocabulary, pseudonym…)

A pseudonym helps as I may want to distinguish between erotica and other genres later on. Some people like a pen name for erotica because they can hide behind it. I’m too much of an attention seeker for that! I think all you need to write erotica is a bit of experience and an understanding of spatial awareness–the body parts have to connect! They can’t do that if he’s in another room. Stick to a couple of slang terms for anatomy rather than using the whole Urban Dictionary. I write with a sense of humour because I’m naturally warped but it’s important to draw a line at some point in the scene where the humour ends or the risk is you end up writing farce which is fine if you’re after farce. The other thing to remember is no one person can write an erotic scene that everyone will approve of. Just because one person hates it, doesn’t mean everyone will.

I love all the animals that have taken over your house. Did you grow up with degus, tortoises, bearded dragons, and etceteras? Does everybody get along, or is there a definite hierarchy (and are the humans at the bottom of it)? 

No, my dad was allergic to fur, so I’m making up for lost time. We only had tropical fish growing up. There was a brief stint with gerbils, but I wasn’t really allowed to do anything with them in case they escaped. The other day I had the bearded dragon out on the living room floor where the fishtanks and the degu cage are. The fish are mostly oblivious, but the degu was definitely wary and wouldn’t take his eyes off her! The animals are in different rooms and in different habitats, so they rarely interact with each other or the other humans for that matter. Technically the tortoise belongs to our son and the bearded dragon belongs to our daughter. Guess who feeds them all…?

What genres would people be surprised to know that you like reading?

Interesting. I don’t know. But I do read crime, horror, mysteries, and smaller amounts of sci-fi and erotica. I’m not averse to listening to an erotica audio book read by a man though…

Do you ever see yourself branching out into other genres?

I expect I’ll write horror at some point. It’s what I grew up reading. No doubt it’ll be weird horror rather than serial-killer-could-happen-in-the-real-world horror.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I do read the reviews. Obviously the good ones are easy to deal with. I find bad reviews very hard to take. I’m lucky that there have been so few, but always expect others. It’s difficult to not take it like a personal insult. It takes a while to get over, but in the end I have to play the numbers game and tell myself that there has been a far more positive response than negative one.

When a new story comes to mind, do you see the whole high-level plot roll out before you, or do you see it as more of a first sentence / initial concept (or both, or something else)?

Although I knew a vague outline for the second Lunar Medical book the entire story started from the line, “Is anyone else itchy?” I generally now start with banter.

How do you feel about fan-fiction? Would you want people to write fan-fiction about your stories?

I’m not sure I have a view either way. I’d be very surprised if anyone did want to write fan-fiction about anything I’ve written.

What are you planning to launch next?

Just because people keep asking I am going to publish Nate and Day (Lunar Medical book 2) next. It’s almost finished. I might follow that up with a short story.

Now for some just-for-fun challenge questions…

What type of book do you reach for to relax?

I suppose crime or horror. Very relaxing genres!

Do you listen to music as you write? Name some songs!

Not as I write, but I did recently download some Ed Sheeran, Train and Rag’n’Bone Man. Rather impressively these are all recent releases and not things I used to listen to in the 80s which would  be a lot of George Michael!

When you get a story idea, do you scribble it on any scrap of paper or napkin you can find, or do you have a special notebook or online tool where you keep all the inspiration?

I use Notes on the iPhone. I also have a paper notebook for when I’m at the laptop.

While we’re not saying you need this, what one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

If I didn’t need the money-my other business, this is all running on the assumption that with the extra time everyone gets better as a writer.

Advice time–in reverse! If you could go back in time, what writerly advice would you give yourself?

Don’t think too much, just do it.

 

Here’s where to find and follow Amy, and purchase her books!

Author Interview: Alex R Carver

“The nervousness that had afflicted Lucy Goulding since she left her parents’ house seemed to grow with every step. She had set out with just a single butterfly fluttering about her stomach, but now she was almost at her destination her stomach roiled and churned with what seemed like thousands.” –Written in Blood by Alex R Carver

Meet Author Alex R Carver!

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Alex R Carver

Alex R Carver has worked a number of jobs over the years, none of which provided the satisfaction he got from writing, and he has now given up the day jobs to write full-time. Primarily he writes crime fiction, reflecting his interest in the seedy underbelly of life, but science fiction and kids’ adventure have featured in his writing, with books in those genres on the long list of titles he is preparing for release.

Book 1 of the Inspector Stone Mysteries, Where There’s A Will, is already out, as is Written In Blood, a serial killer thriller set in a small English village, while Book 2, An Eye For An Eye, is due out in September.


Your new book, Written in Blood, is out! How’s that experience been? How did you know when that title was right for your story? What parts do you wait in glee for readers to get to? What are your secret or not-so-secret hopes for this thriller?

Originally the book was going to be called Murder In Oakhurst, but after discussing it in one of my writer’s group and being given a few options, I settled on Written In Blood, which I think is much better for attracting attention.

Obviously I’d love the book to become a top 100 on Amazon, or even a NYT bestseller, but I’d settle for making a little, that’s my hope, though it would be nice to do better.

You recently started a new author’s website, alexrcarver.wordpress.com. What made you decide to start over instead of rebranding / retooling your previously-existing site?

My research revealed that an author site is most effective when it has an author’s name as all or part of its web address, that wasn’t the case with my first site so I chose to start from scratch. It might have been better to rebrand/retool but I wanted to do things the way it is recommended they are done, plus I had a guide I was following which made it easier to begin again.

In a previous interview, you mentioned you put a real person in your writing. Would you ever do it again?

It’s likely that elements of real people will find their way into my writing from time to time, but I don’t intend to put anyone in in their entirety.

How do you maintain a full-time writing career? Was it a scary or exhilarating step to take?

I received a small inheritance that coincided with my losing a job, it’s enough money to keep me going for a while as I work to get my writing career up and running. It’s exhilarating but also very scary because I only have about two years worth of saving to start making a living, and if I don’t manage it in that time I will have to start looking for a job.

I’d much rather become a success with my writing.

You’ve got a solid core in crime and sci-fi. Do you ever see yourself branching out into other genres?

I’ve always wanted to write fantasy, it’s one of my favourite genres to read and I do have an idea for a fantasy novel/series. I have an idea for a romance story as well, but whether I’ll get around to writing them, I don’t know.

Besides making sure your books will look the way they should, what things about Amazon Publishing do you pay the most attention to (reviews, sales rank, what people buy after they buy your books, etc.)?

I have OCD, so I tend to pay more attention to my sales figures and rank than I should, but I don’t look at much else. I do need to start looking at what people buy after looking at/buying my book in order to help me improve my sales.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

During my first publishing career I obsessed far more than was good for me on the reviews I get, now I pay them less attention. I check to see if they say anything I need to deal with, but I have learned to look at them as personal opinions and nothing more.

When a new story comes to mind, do you see the whole high-level plot roll out before you, or do you see it as more of a first sentence / initial concept (or both, or something else)?

Generally I start out with just a concept, I have to sit down with pad and pen to flesh it out and decide if it’s viable, and where it’s going to go.

How do you feel about fan-fiction? Would you want people to write fan-fiction about your stories?

I’m torn on the fan-fiction matter, I’m not sure it’s something I would ever write myself, though I did have an idea for something in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer world once upon a time, but I appreciate that it would be flattering to have someone like my books enough to want to write fan-fiction involving them.

What are you planning to launch next?

Now that I’ve released Written In Blood I’m back to my Inspector Stone Series, I’m working on An Eye For An Eye, which is the 2nd book, tentatively it’s set for a September release.

Now for some just-for-fun challenge questions…

What type of book do you reach for to relax?

I read almost anything, with the exception of romance, but my favored genre is fantasy.

Name a movie adaptation that really should have stayed as a book.

There’s far too many to name. The Percy Jackson series is one of the worst though.

Do you listen to music as you write? Name some songs!

When I do listen to music it’s normally something like Pink Floyd, but mostly I watch TV while I write, it’s not a good habit, but I struggle to focus on one thing at a time.

When you get a story idea, do you scribble it on any scrap of paper or napkin you can find, or do you have a special notebook or online tool where you keep all the inspiration?

In the first instance it goes down on whatever piece of paper I have to hand, but I do have a notepad where I try to keep all of my ideas together, so I know where to find them when I need them.

While we’re not saying you need this, what one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

That’s a tough one. I don’t really have a lot to spare, unless you count the surplus around my waist, which I would happily give up to become a better writer. I would be prepared to live in a more unpleasant environment (think Dickens era poverty, but not quite that bad) to be a better writer.

Advice time–in reverse! If you could go back in time, what writerly advice would you give yourself?

So much, but mostly it would be to cut…cut…cut, I used to be a very wordy writer, but now I’ve learned to be more concise and avoid using 20 words when 5 will do.

 

Here’s where to find and follow Alex, and purchase his books!