Ramblings Of a Steampunk Writer

A blog about writing... occasionally mine. But, mostly just writing.

Interview: Serfina MacBride from The Serafina Series

Friday, January 23, 2015

I decided I wanted to do something a little different with my blog series last year. It was sometime before Christmas and I was taking a class on publishing. One of the goals of the class was to learn how to market yourself better as a writer. A few ideas were passed around, but there was this one about interviewing authors. And it's a brilliant thought, but I wondered how I could do it differently—add my own twist. (Is that a writer pun? Plot pun... anyone?) Because, speaking honestly, a lot of writer blogs already do author interviews. There’s a ton of competition to be seen. So, an idea hit me.

And thus, I give you.... CHARACTER INTERVIEWS!

Thankfully, Mrs. Marie Treanor was kind enough to allow me to interview her character Serafina MacBride for my first. (You are AWESOME!)

But who is Serafina MacBride and what does she do, you ask? For those of you not familiar with the Serafina series—one I'm obsessed with (mildly… I lie, it’s probably worse)—Serafina is a physic who runs a motley crew of investigators in modern Edinburgh, Scotland. Her goal is to root out paranormal disturbances and (hopefully) talk them into resting peace for good so they quit harassing their tenants and scaring the kiddies.

When you start reading the first book you find yourself in the middle of the action; that is to say, you don’t start at Serafina’s beginning: she already has her motley crew, her business, and all the crazy that goes with it. You learn about her life, the mysteries of it, through the course of the series with her friends and team doing their many adventures. And adventure they have—in troves.

Mute vampires, cyber ghosts, and zombies—oh my! Let’s not forget The Founder—the creator of all vampires. And then there’s magic and not-so-small leprechauns.

Treanor is really brilliant at weaving the action into her stories; it keeps me coming back for more. I love a good romance mixed with action, and I really enjoy a story with some punch-packing gals who aren’t afraid to be who they are. The best part is she takes an old creepy archetype monster and makes her own twist. Mute vampires are just the cusp of it, not the end.

But, I could go on forever about why you should read this series if you aren’t already. So, without further ado, I give you an interview with Serafina MacBride. Enjoy.


Me: It’s took up until the freeing of Adam (in book two) for you to admit you loved Blair, and, it wasn’t until the appearance of the Tuatha de Danann (in book 3) that Blair admitted feelings of love for you through the connection you share with him telepathically (even if they weren’t spoken, but felt). I can’t imagine it’s easy being with a vampire; there’s so much about it that’s not like having an intimate relationship with a human man or woman. For instance, unlike Linnie, you won’t live forever—Blair will. You also have to face the unwanted feelings jealousy when he feeds from other human women. How do you cope with it, loving him like you do?

Sera: Damn, do we have to talk about feelings? I’ll just say that having Blair is so much better than NOT having Blair J. He’s just so much MORE than anyone else, more than anyone I ever imagined I’d have in my life. As for the other women, they’re food. So am I, of course, but I’m food with attitude, and I know I’m dessert :).

Me:The Founder has been a looming (possible) problem for everyone, most especially Blair and yourself. Do you imagine that he’s a malevolent, benevolent, or neutral being?

Sera: Whichever, he’s definitely a SCARY being! He may have helped us – or seemed to – a couple of times, but I’m not sure I’d trust him to be benevolent. The only thing anyone seems to know about him is his power. All the vampires are afraid of him, even Blair, and, I suspect, Ailis, Blair’s maker who’s the Founder’s own “daughter”.

Me: Taking the last question into account, what clues we as readers have been given are slim at best about him; at times… he almost seems a little chaotic. Knowing that, what intentions do you imagine he might have for Mel?

Sera: I wouldn’t say he’s chaotic – I suspect he always has a good reason for what he does. We just have no idea what his reasons are! Mel is fascinated by him – well, by the idea of him, since that’s all she has. Mind you, he has spoken to her, if only to ward her off, but I sincerely hope he has no intentions for her at all! She just has to leave off studying him. If she can.

Me: What we know about your mother is limited. I’ll admit that I’m saddened that you can’t connect with her because you ‘knew’/love her. If you could speak to her… what would ask her?

Sera: You mean, apart from what the hell she saw in my father? Actually, I don’t think I’d ask her anything. I’d just like to be with her.

Me: Are there things you want to know that only she (Rebecca) could answer?

Sera: No, not now. I have no interest in my father after what he did, and the rest of my family, if I have any, let me go into care without so much as a Christmas card. I think Melanie would have more questions than I do – being a witch like Rebecca :).

Me: Taking the latter two questions into account, it’s natural to assume your mother didn’t have any other family that could take you in when she died. Do you think you might ever search for that family, if for no other reason than to learn more about your past?

Sera: No. When I was a kid I would have done anything to belong to a family. Now I have my own family at Serafina’s, and I have Blair. My future is exciting; I don’t care about my past anymore.

Me: You’ve known Jilly since you were kid, but it’s never clearly stated how you two met or became friends. How did that happen?

Sera: We met at Primary School when I was with my second foster family. We were in the same class. At break, everyone decided to pick on the new girl, but even then, I never backed down. Jilly laughed at one of my witty comebacks, and thumped the class bully who was going to pull my hair or something. I realized she was an outsider too, and we began to stick together. I liked Jilly. She was funny, prickly, and despite problems no kid should ever have, not scared of anyone, adult or child. She never lied. If she didn’t want to talk about something, she just told you so. 

Me: Also, despite moving from one foster home to another, how did you keep the friendship with Jilly going?

Sera: Well, we lost touch for about a year when we were about eleven, when I changed foster homes again. But then we ended up at the same High School for a while, and after that, wherever I went, we stayed in touch by phone until Jilly got her first job, and we shared a flat together for a while.

Me: I think when readers get into stories about vampires with human lovers the big question that always seems to hang in the back of their mind is: will they sire them? I’m not certain how I would take it personally, but I don’t think this interview would be complete without asking: Would you let Blair sire you so that you could be with him always?

Sera: That would be far in the future, if at all. I have too many things to do as a human right now and we’re both enjoying the present too much to dwell on the future. We have time. To be honest, the immortality thing is much harder for him. It’s one reason vampires and humans didn’t – and shouldn’t really – get involved. But it’s too late for Blair and me now.

Me: Finally, your last adventure was just released. It’s the last story wherein we learn about The Founder. Is there anything you can tell us, your fans, about what to expect?

Sera: Well, the Founder does come out of the shadows, for a little at least, and he turns out to be quite a surprising being! With a lot of enemies – including actual werewolves! And friends he never knew he had. But it won’t be the last story. There’s already more stuff going on with us, and I’d also like you to know about our first case, in the very early days of Serafina’s, before I met Blair…:)


So, that's it, folks. If you want to know more about Serafina's adventures be sure to catch up with Treanor on Facebook. To get the newsest book wander on over to Amazon. I know I will. Like. Now. Also, before I run off, be sure to check out a contest being run in celebration of the release here. You could win 25 buckeroos in amazon gift card munnies.

Personality Disorder & Voice: A Writer's Perspective

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Since deciding to become a writer I've discovered one of the best parts about being one is that you can be whoever you want to be. Feel like fighting a gang of train robbers in the old west? Done. Want take the fashion world by storm with killer designs while moonlighting as a super hero at night? Done. How about being a a hacker who works like a modern Robin Hood in the digital age? DONE!

I can be all and any of these things through my writing with a little research, time, and effort. Also, notes help.

At the end of the day, however, I'm still Kit with a thousand different facets. Being a writer for me means being more than one person; it means that sometimes I'm the villain, the hero, and the anti-hero. In DnD terms it means being lawful good, good, neutral, evil, chaotic, and sometimes a combination of those. (I like to mix things up.) Being a writer means--sometimes--having a million different interests to interweave into the character you become for a short time period.

But, it's more than that too.

Fahrenheit 451, written by one Ray Bradbury (my favorite writer of all time), was about a dystopian world in which firefighters burned books and mass censorship was the norm. Bradbury's key message through his character Montag was that censorship hurts. Changing something after it's written to suit the needs of society takes away from what it was. To him, it ruined not only books, their message, but the reader as well. And he sought to deliver this message to people through his novel.

While it's true that not every book has a message, or an agenda as some people might refer to it as, it is true that as a writer you can explain your views through your writing--through story and characters that count. This has always been one of my bigger goals as a writer. It makes of the very core of who I am--my identity--as a writer.

I like to tell a story that resonates and helps people see or feel something they might not have before.

As Carlos Fuentes said:


The Pen Name: Writing for a Different Genre & What It Means For Audience

Saturday, November 29, 2014

In 1968 James T. Tiptree wrote Birth of a Saleman for Analog Science Fiction. He corresponded with fans and others via letters, never once speaking on the phone or meeting with people at conventions. His life was private, and, many assumed his reasoning had everything to do with keeping his writing separate from his everyday. Considering many other writers of the time did the same, working another job on top of writing and not wanting either to become entangled, it was a sound explanation. But, in 1976 James was outed during a slip when he revealed in a letter that his mother had passed away."Inquiring fan-sleuths identified the obituary—and its reference to an only child, Alice Sheldon" (Techgnotic).

For female fan readers everywhere this meant the feminist themes in James’ stories made more sense. This also gave them reason to cheer when so many male fans of James’ writing, writers and simply readers alike, all felt there was no way such writing could come from a woman. Of the experience, Alice only had to say:

“I've had too many experiences in my life of being the first woman in some damned occupation.” (Sheldon via Techgnotic).

Many writers like Alice have had similar reasons for choosing a pen name over the name they were given at birth (or, several days later if their parents had a case of indecision). For some, it really is a matter of keeping their identity hidden due to sexism. J.K. Rowling was also one of these women; her publisher, Barry Cunningham, thought that boys might be more likely to overlook the series if it was known a woman wrote it. Thus, her name—Joanne—was remade. (The K stands for Kathleen—her grandmother’s name.)

But it’s not just women.

In the romance genre it’s almost entirely unheard of for a man to write, so if one did write for it he too would likely choose a pen name that denoted him as female. Don’t believe me? I cite Leigh Greenwood; to meet her in person you would call him Harold Lowry. Much the same goes for Jennifer Wilde (Thomas Elmer Huff) and Jessica Blair (Bill Spence).

But a name we with write with—be it our name or one we’ve name up—isn’t just something that’s on the book. It does represent you, doesn’t it? For a writer this can be more than a matter of sexism, but also of genre. If you’ve established yourself an erotica novelist and suddenly want to write YA adventure books, it can become a problem. Do you take a different name, or take the chance of your established audience shying away from this new project—either out of fear of it being bad, or, because of disinterest in said genre?

It does pose other problems as well if you’re an indy writer, or, a writer who depends heavily on advertising via your own pocket. Do you make a new webpage for this personality? Or, remake your own page to suit both sides of yourself?

Unlike the question of sexism in writing and reading, the answer might not be so obvious. There isn’t an easy solution. It really comes down to what your capable of, and, how comfortable you are as a writer. If the genre you’ve established yourself in isn’t too different from the new one you want to write in as well, then why not use the same name instead of reinventing yourself? However, if you’re known as a children’s writer and are thinking about writing erotica… it might be best to pick a new name. (Or, if your a man writing in a female-predominated genre: a female name.) It does mean working from the ground up, but if it feels better for you then the chances might be better served rebuilding a little.


The Dreaded Creativity Curse

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow writer friend today. Actually, he shared an image with me that had me laughing and thinking, "Yes, that happens to me all the time."

I've often wondered about artists and how they continue to create and make things, constantly worrying themselves to death about how good or bad something is. A million people could think their work is amazing, brilliant, and setting some kind of precedence; however, ask them about it and I'll tell you all they wished they'd done differently now that its done.

I'm guilty of this. I look back on things I wrote last week and think to myself, "I could have done that better. I should have worded this that way." It gets worse the farther I go back; though, there are those singularly rare occasions when I create something and tell myself, "Don't fuck with it. Nope. Not doing it."

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why? Why do we worry and sigh before telling ourselves we'll just make it count in the next project? Better yet, that the next project will be better and you'll do something entirely different with it? Part of you loves what you did before, but you end up partially regretting it like a sullen child who thinks you just didn't have enough time.

That might be a drastic exaggeration, but you get my point.

I think every artist in every category in life, be it a architect, a painter, or a engineer thinks this way because its what drives them to keep going and keep making this amazingly beautiful things we all get to experience. (Which, is pretty much what the comic says...) If artists were entirely satisfied with what they made they'd stop, I think. Some musician would listen to that piece as he played it, finish, and then say, "Well, that's it. I've done it--made the perfect song. No more oboe for me, no sir."

I'm not sure I can imagine my life being unable to create and write; it would be a dismal existence indeed. And really, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't trying to achieve and unachievable perfection with each work I complete. I know I'll never get there, but I bask in that knowledge even as I desire what I can never have. The drive to write the perfect novel urges me to put fingers to keys and to keep enjoying my passion.

Perfection might be unobtainable, but striving for it has its purposes.

Recommendations and Salutations (...from the Peach State)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Oh man, it's been a while, yeah? You can check out my website for the details, but to make a long story short: I've moved around a lot and finally wound up in Georgia. And now I'm back to work on this blog, my site, and my books. Rock on, right?

I have bussied myself with college work lately and came across at least two books I thought might tickle your writing fancy: The Indie Author Guide  by April L. Hamilton and Merchants of Culture by John B. Thompson. I figure it's a great way to roll out a new post after such a long time, and, give you guys some great information.

Now, the first one, The Indie Author Guide, is a great resource on not just self-publishing in a new world of web and mass media; it's also a great way to learn about formatting, advertising, and it even has snippets of publishing history. I love this book because it's very down-to-earth and written in plain language. It's easy to understand and packs tons of useful information for someone new to self-publishing. It even gives you suggestions on how to go about getting things like a book cover made and so on. It gives you the pros and con of using create-a-space and other sites for tangible copies of your book, and, ebooks sites like Amazon as well. It also tells you how to work the math on making the money you want for which site to go with. I would say this book is a like a user guide to self-publishing; perhaps even a simpler version of the next book I'm suggesting.

Merchants of Culture reads more like a technical book with tons of historical info about publishing, agents, the induction of the paperback, and more. At some points it can be a very mathy book, but it gives you unparalleled insight into the vast innerworking of the publishing industry--information you might not need, but is very helpful to have nonetheless. I was required to read this entire book for one of my classes; at first I wasn't for it at all. The book gave me a headache at moments; however, I do not regret reading it. I know more about publishing now than I ever did. I highly suggest it, even if it takes you a few months of on and off reading to get through. You won't regret it--at all.

Both of these books can be purchased on Amazon or likely at any other online retailer. Seriously, do yourself a favor and grab them. I promise you won't regret it.

Becoming a Writer: Is a College Degree Worth It?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

source: sxc.hu
When I entered college for the first time I was twenty-one years old. I had expectations, ideas, and preconceived notions. Mostly, I had no idea I wanted to be a writer for a living. At the time, I was more interested in Zoology with a focus on Herpetology (the study of reptiles, ect). I wanted a doctorate, and I knew it was going to take me some ten years or more. That reason mostly had to do with my less-than-amazing math skills. They weren't great then, but they're better now.

The initial problem I faced after realizing I could be a writer, wanted to be one, and was willing to bleed and starve for my dream, wasn't that shouldn't I finish my AA; my real problem was should I seek further education? My father always placed importance on the 'back-up plan'. He said it was important for everyone to follow their dreams to the fullest, but to have something to fall back on, or that fell in line with what you loved so--at the very least--you could put food on the table in the meantime. I tend to agree with this ideology.

I considered my conundrum. My husband makes enough to support us (to a degree). It helps that my mother-in-law brings some funds to the table, as well as my other two roommates (and good friends). And while all three of them might not be around forever or living with us, Gary has a decent plan in place for us to be financially stable even if I'm not bringing in a great amount. Still, I would like to help. And there's a distinct possibility, a question, that every writer has to face: 

"Will I make enough money with writing alone?"

source: sxc.hu
For many writers, those who are not in my position, this is a big question. A lot of us have other jobs that have nothing to do with our chosen--beloved, though underpaid (for the most part)--career path. This is because many of us can't afford to survive and just write. Not all of us are so lucky, anyway; though, sometimes there are just many other variables involved that keep us from going as far as others might (to reach this potential).

But, this doesn't mean we have to flip burgers for a living either, or do something we don't enjoy. For some of us it's a matter of two careers. What I mean by that is, some of us who write are so lucky as to be good at both writing and say... being a career soldier. In the end, you're writing may be about what you do--in part--for a primary living. That's great, right? But, it's still not all of us. And if the writers I've interacted with are to be believed, many of us just want to write, read, and chill out in front of our computer typing away (mostly just talking to ourselves) in our pjs.

That'd be me, just so you know.

"Are there other options? Is the college option for writing worth it?"

source: sxc.hu
That really depends on you. But, before I elaborate on you too much, let me elaborate on my answer to the question and why it works for me.

Yes. For me, getting my Masters in Creative Writing Fiction is worth it. Overlooking the problem of being a starving artist here's why:

  • College writing, lit, and comp classes make you a better writer.
I look at some of the things I've written prior to these classes and I cringe. The expectations, suggestions, and critiques set out by my professor (who has a doctorate in poetry) and my peers greatly improved my skill level. I've never really been prouder of myself.

And it's not just your grammar base or vocabulary that you find has increased or improved. You find yourself becoming a more rounded writer when you read, analyze, write about, and examine older works from other writers.

  • It opens you up to new genres or things you might not have ever read before.
Were it not for my dear Dr. Byrd I would have never formed my love-hate relationship with Hemingway  I'm a fiction reader; a modern fiction reader--as in, sometime around the last ten to twenty years or so (with the exception of Bradbury). It's not that I hate old books; I just have a hard time jump-starting myself into reading them without some kind of incentive. (I still haven't finished The Three Musketeers.)

For me, that incentive was talking with other people about what we got from the piece we read; digging deep and talking about it. Then, hearing how on or off the mark we may or may not have been from our professor.

  • You make connections and network.
I can't tell you how many people I've met through school, people who aren't even in my career path, that offer me a fountain of information or sources for my writing. You need a website guy? While it's not a guarantee, you might find yourself a decently priced undergrad who needs a little income or a-way-get-their-name-out-there who's willing to do your site for little to no cost. Need an artist? College artists love to draw; they also need funds for their work like the rest of us. And in many cases, that photographer is just as good, if not better, than a 'professional'.

Even if you can't offer money as service for their work, you can always do an exchange of work by writing for them or their sites, ect.

Ultimately, going to college is my best option not just because of the above reasons, but for the same reason my dad mentioned: the back up plan. With a masters degree I can teach as professor; as a high school, middle school, or elementary school teacher; I can offer tutoring; and I can work as an editor. I could even be a freelance editor. And guess what? I'm still basically doing what I love while I write my novels.

"So, do I really need a college degree to write?"

The simple answer is: no, but it helps.

The more complex answer is: it really depends on your situation. College costs a lot; quite a bit more than it should, in this humble author's opinion. Students are incurring major loan debt in the country. Not all of us are sure how or if we can pay it back. Really, we need a solid solution that works. But, this has many people wondering if it's worth it at all. Why put yourself in debt when you're essentially gambling on making enough in your field? And that's what it boils down to: is it worth it for you.
source: sxc.hu

My suggestion would be to look at where you are in life, consider sources (online and off) on how much what you want to do pays out annually, and then make the best choice you can.

You don't need a degree to write; hopefully we never will. But, I firmly believe that if you can afford to do it, if you can take the risk, it makes you a much better writer.

Author Interview & The Writing Process: A Mess To Some, Organized To Others

Saturday, March 23, 2013

First order of business: My author interview is up for those of you who are interested in reading it. I think its fascinating stuff, but I could be a little biased. Anyway, link is here.

Now, onto the meat of the article.

When I first started writing fanfiction years ago I was something of a lazy author. What child, teenager, isn't though? I would never make an outline, but I always had a general idea of what I was writing about at the beginning, the middle, and the end. Still, is this really laziness or are you just using a creative process? I know or have heard of a number of authors who can and do write this way; however, from those authors I've also heard frustrations bemoaned...

"I don't know what to write now..." 
"I have writer's block!" 
"Bloody hell! It's not working!" 
"Can you help me brainstorm? I just don't know where this story is going anymore..."

It's not and entirely uncommon theme. They're frustrated; who wouldn't be? Sometimes this freeform way of writing works in the start, or just works for those rare people; although, for the majority of us--insofar as I've noticed--if doesn't work.

So, what do you do? You're asking yourself, can I still be a freeform kind of writer and be a little more organized?

Let's first look at what works for others in the extreme case of organizing.

When I first explored publishing I came across a site about formatting a manuscript and synopsis; naturally, these were things I was still learning about beyond my grade school/high school definitions. The woman who wrote the web site (I'd share it if I still had the link) spoke about her form of organization and how it was very important to the writing process to establish one. Her method was very in depth; she had a room just for writing that had: a filing system, post-it notes and index cards, and a map on the wall of the city her novel (series) encompassed. Now, this was just the tip of the iceberg. She would use the index cards on a wall with tacks and then run strings wrapped around them to other index cards; all of the index cards had information about the book(s); each one connected to a different idea or how something was connected in the story. This was to help her keep track of all her ideas and story-lines over the course of her book series or book.

I found this fascinating, but couldn't see myself doing it. Still, it was an awesome idea for the more driven of writers in need of a visual aid. If you're that type of author it could work very well for you. Or, if you have a lot of books and series sometimes the notebook stack of information might need a more stretched out visual form. I can personally see myself getting to this level in the next few years when I actually have my own writing room/office/studio/study.

Is there an easier way?

There's plenty. For now, my own methods worked very well for me after reading Fiction: The Art and Craft and Getting Published by Michael Seidman. He covers a great number of topics, but outlining was one of the better sections. He urges there aren't really any rules about it, not in so many words. At the very least though, you need a rough bulleted list for the whole book; or numbered. It needs to encompass your beginning, your climax, your ending, and bits of things you consider important between all these that you want to have happen no matter what (at least when you begin to come up with your ideas). He tells the reader the list can change at anytime during the novel writing, but it's important to have because it helps keep a writer on track.

I wasn't so sure at first, but the guy has been in the publishing business since before computers became available to the public; I figured he had a point. I gave it a whirl and altered his idea to suit my own needs.

When I make an outline I do it on my computer first. Recently, I'll do it on a reference tab on Scrivenver. (A great--the best in my opinion--writing program. I'll cover it in another entry.) It's just for the whole of the book and rough at that. Then, as I start to write (in that more freeform manner) and find myself hitting blocks, I'll make outlines in a notebook for each chapter. This keep me from getting in a slump, gets me away from the computer where the slump may have a hold on me (or the computer might be giving me distractions: facebook as an example), and helps me keep continuity. It's also another freeform way of writing because it helps me brainstorm and run with ideas however I see fit through each chapter outline.

Now, my outlines are not perfect. For my novel outlines it's really loose one a bulleted list with almost no chapter distinction. On my chapter outlines I just write the chapter name at the top of the page (Chapter 25 as an example: very basic) and then write a summary of what I want to have happen.

So what should I do...?

Whatever works best. If the total freeform method is working for you, then keep it up! But, I urge you to always try new ways to write. Sometimes, you might find your writing grows and matures to something better. More importantly, you might find a way to do this process and that's better than what you're currently doing.



Some Contents