Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Run Away Research... Is This A Problem?

  Research is so important!
 I've found that getting something right really isn't as hard as we would at first believe; with the internet all the info you need is out there, you just have to go get it.
 And laziness is no trait for an author to have! Smile

 But sometimes Research wants to run away on me.

 I previously posted a bunch of links related to all the things you need to know when sailing the Seven Seas.
 I put them here to share them with others, and also to keep them where I can find them when I need them next!
 I keep many tales on the same stove, and when a scene Ruthlessly ATTACKS me, I can run right over to that tale and get it hammered down. It's the only way I know to make it let go of my brain! Smile
 Seriously, it's a problem.
 (But not something I can't handle! Smile )

So I let myself revel in all the seafaring things I needed to complete that particular scene,... then I ruthlessly shut the muchly inspiring websites down, (neatly saving the urls for the future.) I have to maintain control over what I feed my imagination.
 And yes, I really enjoyed my stint in the sea air. I'm looking forward to returning to that scene and getting more shippy-ness done!
 I had to drag myself away from my research to keep it from running off with my imagination... Getting too wrapped up in research for a "back burner" story can kill me for any other story. And that's no good!

 Right now, I have to maintain a "mountain-y" atmosphere in order to complete my current "Focus Project".

 How do you handle research? Do you have a problem with it galloping of in unproductive (or counter productive) directions?

 We need to hear!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Writer Interview: Sarah Scheele!

For this week's Writer Interview, we have with us Sarah Scheele, from Texas!

 Thanks so much for answering the call, Sarah! We're so glad to have you here this time, and we hope to get you back for a reader interview sometime later.

Sarah S: You’re welcome, Elizabeth! It’s my pleasure to be here.

E: So, let's get started.  Tell us a little about yourself and what you've written.
S: Well, I grew up homeschooled, surrounded by great books, so I fell in love with literature early. When I was tiny, I would listen as my mom read poetry aloud, and I started writing as soon as I could use a pen. Three years ago, I published a collection of sci-fi/fantasy novellas, Facets of Fantasy.  One of those stories, “Millhaven Castle,” has grown into a full novel—with the potential for sequels—and I’m hoping to expand on the others as well.

E. What's your favorite genre/genres, and what do you think really draws you to that/them the most?

S: My favorites are sci-fi/fantasy and comedy, no doubt about it. With speculative fiction, I can set up imaginary societies that explore how people interact in our real one. Putting the story in an invented culture like our own enables people to look at our world objectively from the outside. And comedy adds an additional layer of insight about the absurd or faulty within situations.

E: What's your most favorite writing related advice?

S: Strive to write what mirrors life. The difference between a great book and just another novel is that it becomes more than a story. It starts to mean something to people. It leaves the printed page and touches something that readers are dealing with in their real lives. You make that happen by putting in extra effort to observe the world around you.

E:  What is your favorite type of character to write? Why do you think that especially appeals to you?

S: Funny characters! It’s harder to be funny, for one thing—a real challenge for the writing mind. Comedy provides a moral purpose as well. If selfishness, arrogance, and poor reasoning are shown as ridiculous, people will be less likely to do these things. And I simply love making people laugh.

E: Where do you like to get your characters? Do you like to draw off of people you know, other books, or just pull them put of the blue?

S: All three, really. Sometimes I stumble across a stock character (for example, a rich old geezer who thinks he is still attractive) and I think, “Ah, that could be really good in my story!” I also analyze real people quite a bit. But once I’ve assembled a few characters and started writing, new people pop in and these are often my best. :D

E: Some writers talk about their characters getting out of control and things happening that they didn't intend to happen; have you ever had this happen?

S: All the time. A notable example is a character named George Longdogo. He began as a minor comic guest at a ball, but eventually grew into a foreign royal with a role in the plot! You know your characters are getting good when they stop doing what you want. After all, it’s easy to tell a paper doll what to do. It’s much harder to tell your sister or your co-worker. :P

E: How do you write, is it 'start with page one, scene one' and go through it in order; or just "whatever scene pops into your head"
(and that might mean that you have the entire middle of your book written before you even start on the beginning)?

S: Generally I start writing from the beginning. Then I stop without finishing it because a new, unrelated scene has popped into my head. After awhile, I return to my first story and realize it could neatly join with the new ideas I’ve been working on. So I’d say I write stories in chunks of about 1/3 at a time and gradually sew them together.

E: How do you plan your stories' "bones", or do you?

S: I listen to music.  Images like movie trailers flash through my mind. I’ll watch this “trailer” over and over as I listen to the song, even if I don’t quite know how this story will be written. Trailers have to pinpoint the pivotal moments, so they help me form abstract images of what’s central to the work.

E: Have you tried any plotting, outlining, methods; and what works best to your way of thinking?

S: When drafting, I often write by talking rather than by forming an outline. I present a scene to my sisters and as they interact the scene grows and grows. Once I’m very far along in the story, I organize it a bit and calculate how long it will be and how much more I need to write. That’s the only time when outlining comes in.

E: What is your worst writing trouble?

S: Perfectionism. From my early teens on, I wanted to be the best. I read the classics and compared myself to them, constantly trying to improve. I didn’t want to be a complacent, mediocre author. But I was aiming way too high. Even the greats started small and their early work wasn’t that good. I’m trying to let go and accept that there’s no work without faults. That’s an impossible standard.

E:  Good point! It's so hard to hit the balance point of "good enough". But everybody has to start somewhere!
 What is your worst writing fault? How do you identify and rectify its effects?

S: Character growth is hard for me. I’m much more an observer than a reformer, so I’m not really into sending my characters on life-changing experiences. I’ve noticed longer works quickly get stale when characters seem to learn nothing after many pages, so I try to make sure my people aren’t so elemental that they can’t develop.

E: Hey! It's been great having you here! We've so enjoyed learning more about another writer's mental workings! Thanks for participating. 

S: I’ve enjoyed it so much. Thanks for having me. :)

 And folks, Sarah can be kept up with and contacted at these links:
  Her blog, Stardust and Gravel
  ...on Facebook Sarah Scheele
   ...and on Twitter!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Q&A: Is jewelery making something you have an interest in?

Broach from ancient Greece
 From a recent question and answer time about Jeweler's Apprentice, I was asked...

Q: Is jewelery making something you have an interest in?

 A:  Yes, it is! I have done quite a lot of wire-wrapped jewelry. (Where you use strands of precious metal to create jewelry. Designs can range from simple to amazingly demanding, and I enjoyed pushing the limits of my skill and creativity!)
I didn't have access to the high heat equipment needed for casting, but it's something I always swooned over; so I've studied it quite a bit.

I've been privileged enough to see the works of some artists whose expertise was literally overwhelming. One man did a lot of wildlife in his designs, as lifelike as photos, and all in precious metal bas relief ranging in size from a scene a few inches across, (three tiny, perfect ducks flew across a green-stone pond in my favorite pendant of his,) to smaller than your little fingertip. (A man's ring showcasing an ivory elk tooth; with half of the bezel (the part that holds the stone in) being a bugling elk's head with the antlers sweeping back out onto the shank. (the part that goes around your finger.) The whole head was letter perfect, and less than the size of the tooth. ) The artistry took my breath away!

  His pieces were out of my price range, and justifiably so... but I'll always carry the image of them with me where ever I go!

 And, who knows? Maybe if I end up rich some day, I'll find him and buy something for me!

 In the meantime, I'll keep working on my own skills, and enjoy writing about the things I haven't quite gotten yet!

 What's your favorite piece of jewelry? (Real or otherwise!)

A Quarter horse logo pendant I did several years ago. Sterling silver.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reader Interview: Kelsey Bryant!

Reader interview: Kelsey Bryant, from Texas! 

E. Kaiser: Thanks so much for joining us here on E. Kaiser Writes-A-Blog! As a reader, I know there are a lot of personal opinions involved in what you enjoy, and what you hate, and I do love a good opinion. (Especially if it's personal. ;-) )
So, tell us yours!

Kelsey: Thank you so much for putting out the call for interviews! I've never been interviewed before ... it makes me feel ... *special*. ;-)
Oh, good, permission to be opinionated! Sometimes I try to soften my opinions, but it is terribly unfair to expect people to suppress their opinions about the books they read. It's such a personal experience!

E: What's your range of favorite genres? Can you introduce us to the why's of that?

K: My favorite would have to be the classics, followed by non-modernized historical fiction. (You know, where the author writes in a respectful, authentic historical style.) A close third is fantasy that has a real, historical feel. I love history. There's something about leaving behind your day-to-day existence and "traveling" to learn more about the world and what's been important for centuries. It elevates you and teaches you far more about living life than you can learn just by limiting yourself to the present. I enjoy books where I learn information and facts. And, I really like a great escape. : )
Two quotes come to mind: "The heroes of Thermopylae have been an inspiration to humanity for centuries. What squabble around a ballot-box will ever be that?" - L. M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon
(This one I heard from you!) “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!” - J. R. R. Tolkien

E: Always glad to help pass along great lines! Glad you liked it too.
Among all the basic threads that just about all stories borrow from, what're your favorite story lines?

K: I looked up a list of basic plots to help me pick out my favorites. I would have to say my favorites are a quest; a riddle or mystery; an underdog who triumphs; a young person who matures in an admirable way; someone who rises in life; and someone who sacrifices him- or herself for a person or a cause. Combine those in various ways, and I would really like that book! Oh, and I enjoy a sweet and honorable romance. Most of all, though, I enjoy the "plot thread" where a person who doesn't seem special - particularly to himself - grows into an incredible individual within the book. He still isn't aware of how he's grown, but everyone else around him is! I love having someone like that to root for!

E: How about your worst pet peeves? Let us have 'em!

K: Ooh, a chance to be really opinionated! If we're talking about storylines, I'd say stories that have a pessimistic worldview - the ones that keep spiraling downward and end worse than they began. Sometimes I want to shake the author and say, "Wake up! Life doesn't have to be like that. Those who are God's children don't have to dwell on unhappy endings!" I also dislike it when a romance is thrown into a story that doesn't need it. I think our culture dwells on romances too much - especially the forbidden ones.
 If we're talking about smaller chunks within any given book, please can I bring these culprits to the bar: mean children, cruelty to animals, and the death of a child, young adult, or animal. Okay, those are things that authors sometimes have to include, because, let's face it, they're real life. I can make myself stand them if they contribute to the story.

E: Okay, how about that Thing-You-Can't-Stand-Above-Anything-Else.

K: Ohhh ... the Thing that makes me skip part of the book or close it altogether?! Too much information within a love scene or a pseudo-love scene. Ick. I don't need that.

E: Glancing quickly backward over your reading history, what stands out as the moment that melted your heart, all warm and puddle-y?

K: When, in the first book of the Boxcar Children series, the children set up house in their boxcar! I didn't always love practical things like playing house with my dolls, (I was 50% adventurous tomboy and 50% domestic doll-player) but I really enjoyed reading about people doing it for real. That vicarious enjoyment, like I was doing it myself, was definitely an early-on heart-warming moment!

E: Same thing, what's the first-to-mind scene that fired your emotions?

K: Um, the scene that made me cry so much that I think my eyes were puffy the next morning? Masouda's death in The Brethren by Henry Rider Haggard. I loved that heroic, fiery girl so much, and she was in love with the wise, gentle Godwin D'Arcy, and she sacrificed herself for him, and he didn't realize he loved her, too, until he held her lifeless body in his arms ....

E: ...Made you so mad you couldn't see straight?

K: Grrr ... it was at the end of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Archdeacon Claude Frollo had just succeeded in betraying Esmeralda to the gallows. After all she had been through, after almost escaping, after starting to finally hope again ... Frollo's fate, on the other hand, was satisfying.

E: What is your favorite trait in a character, and why do you love them?

K: I love talking favorite characters! Wait a moment while I bring to mind all my favorite characters and think of why I loved them ... hmm, above all, I probably love intelligence, humility, and un-self-consciousness. Elinor Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility), Anne Elliot (Persuasion), and Molly Gibson (Wives and Daughters) really stand out to me. There are lots of other loveable traits, but I think those three traits are necessary for me to latch on to a favorite.

E: What makes you most hate the villain?

K: I find it easier to hate a villain whom I don’t understand, when his motives aren't logical - he just hates, loves to be cruel, and/or doesn't understand the protagonist. (Enter Claude Frollo.)

E: What was your favorite "switch" that caught you completely off guard, but you loved the result!

K: Oh, fun question, but that's a hard one ... I love mysteries, so there are a lot of marvelous switches in those kinds of books, but I don't want to go into any of those in case I give something away - you know, there might just be somebody out there who was just about to read that one mystery I might mention and poof! there goes the suspense. Oh, I know! This can't be dangerous because surely everyone's familiar with this one. The Scarlet Pimpernel - (SPOILER ALERT - if you haven't read this book, don't read the rest of my answer!)
when Sir Percy Blakeney, the Scarlet Pimpernel, whom the bad guys were looking all over for, turned out to be the "Jew" who had supposedly been leading them to the Scarlet Pimpernel. After the bad guys were gone, he revealed himself to Marguerite his wife with, "Zounds! but I'm as weak as a rat!" That surprise still has me tingle sometimes!

E: What small things do you especially like to see included?

K: Mmm ... that sets my mind off in all sorts of cozy, comfort-food directions - I like it when there are big families in a story, and all the children's unique personalities are described; when special houses are described; when children play imaginative games; when smells and taste and food are described; and when the protagonist has times of quiet reflection. There may be others ... but those are obviously important ones because they came to mind first!

E: Thanks for joining us, Kelsey! 

K: Thanks for having me! This was so much fun. It makes me want to grab something else off my shelf - say, The Three Musketeers? Middlemarch? Cranford?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Last-Part-Of-The-Middle-Is- SOOO Hard!

Okay. I think we have a bunch of writers out there, so I'm asking this question of you.
 Yes, you.

 Don't think I'm talking to the person behind you.
 (Not that there is anyone, since you're on the computer... but, you know, figuratively.)

 What do you do when you've got the lion's share of the plot worked out, you've got most of the scenes written down. You even have the ending done.
 And you've got all those pesky links to link up... and you've been working on this project for SO Long, sweating over it to make it perfect.

 Your brain revolts and your interest plunges to unchartedly deep places in the black ocean...

 And now you just want to chuck the thing and take a long walk off a short pier?

 All you want to do is yell "HELLLLPPPPP!" at the top of your lungs and have some celestial being sweep in on golden wings, slap the manuscript together and say, "There. Done."

Red Line= Writing Ideal ~ Green Line= Reality
 I'm hitting the hard, gravel grade that comes before cresting the summit on mountain roads. Have you ever climbed a mountain road?  (Agony!)
 I have, and believe me, the stretch right before the top is when you're murderously thinking "Who's dumb idea was this? It's not worth it! I can't believe I let anybody talk me into this." And "....why don't I turn around and go home....?"

 That is also what happens in novel writing. But it is of course your own idea, and so you can't blame anyone else.

 So, here we are.
  We're past the halfway mark, and not yet to the finish, and that is always the hardest part!

  The very last gasp!
      (But it takes so loooong!)

 How do you handle that "last part of the middle is soo hard!" feeling? Do you have ways of combating?
 Tell me!

 I need HELLPPP.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Writer Interview: Glenda Fralin

 Second in our Writer Interview series is Glenda Fralin, from Wymore, Nebraska

 Thanks so much for joining us, Glenda! We're so glad to have you here this time, and we hope to get you back for a reader interview sometime later. I know you're a member of the Nebraska Writer's Guild, but tell us a little more about yourself and what you've written.

Glenda: I grew up in Kansas, not far south of where we live now in Wymore. We had the Flint Hills on the West and the Big Blue River on the East within a few acres of each other.  There was a hill in a pasture where we could go to the top on a clear night and see the lights of Marysville, Blue Rapids, and Waterville by turning in a circle. That part of the Blue Valley is probably one of the most beautiful landscapes there is. I fully intend to write a lot of stories using my Kansas home as a back drop. We lived within miles of Alcove Springs which is a privately owned park open to the public. It's got some springs that come right out of the limestone into a pool. The water is as cold as if it's taken from the refrigerator and taste fresher than anything from a tap.
Alcove Springs, near Marysville, Kansas
My parents still live on that farm.  They are in their eighties and very independent. They are devout Christian and belong to the First Baptist Church in Blue Rapids. Growing up in that church with all the activities and fellowship, I became a Christian at the age of 9. I'm still Baptist, but I've visited other churches and enjoyed the experience. I haven't visited a Catholic church yet, but I may in the future.
Those experiences affect my writing immensely. My poetry is often about family and our place in the world, the valley I grew up in and places we've been. Some are humorous and just for fun. I usually like to do readings of those at functions, but will read others as well.
My first novella is a Christian fantasy.  It's set in Nebraska. I've lived here since 1975 so I've learned a lot about the limestone we have in many of our states in this part of the world. The limestone, often close to the surface is easily quarried and a lot of houses are built from it. The smells of farms such as alfalfa, animals and their odors and such all became a part of The Search by their very absence from the story. I hope that tweaks a little intrigue. The Search is set in a small town and its surrounding lands.  Some is a take-off from Psalms 23. Some of it is very dark and frightening in the canyon where evil creatures dwell and a death shadow hovers. There are also a lot of light and uplifting parts such as the meadow. We have both dark and light in life, and even some areas that can be confusingly gray. So my book is an exploration that Sheridan my protagonist guided me through.
In my book Six Strange Short Stories (my daughter wrinkled her nose a bit at the tongue twister title.) contains more psychological thrillers, and at least one I reserved as a tribute to my cornier side. Don't let that make you think it's all sweetness and light. I included that story to lighten the darkness of some of the other stories. One called The Tunnel was inspired by a deep depression I went through back in 1996. A family enters a tunnel thinking it may be fun, and find themselves deeper and deeper into darkness and torment along the way. In their sense it's both psychological and physical.
All in all, I consider myself a mishmash of river rat, farm girl, wife, mother, nurse and I don't care how much education I've had, I do reserve the right to say ain't. I write about things that nag at me to be written. I'm no exception, the elements of my life past and present are included for backdrop and character building. I told my family nobody is safe.
  E: Okay, before we get started, I've got a few un-writerly questions for you. I know you grew up on the plains and in an era a lot of our younger readers haven't experienced. What is your most vivid memory from childhood that really illustrates the dramatic changes that have taken place between your childhood days and now?
G: For one thing we were a large family by today's standards. Most of the people we associated with had large families of their own. I'm one of 6 children in the number 2 spot. I have an older brother who tormented me when I wasn't tormenting him. Many of the families from a generation before had upwards of 10 to 15 children. It's an agricultural community so families were larger to help with the farms. Parents didn't only give their children chores, they trained them in etiquette, respecting elders, and it wasn't unusual to do Bible memory for rewards.
We argued and fought, but we never in all the history of my family from the Holmes, to Wheats, to Millers neglect gathering together every couple of years. Then there is my mother's family. She had two siblings and she's the last one which bothers her as she is the oldest. Her mother was one of 9 children and the Stansberry's have large reunions but we never went. My mom does keep in touch with them, and my parents have been to one or two of the reunions. Family was much more nuclear and drew strength from one another back then. Even those who were states away would make the journey home at intervals and we'd all get together for a huge dinner. Christmas is still a large affair for the Millers, which is growing constantly. We now meet in a gymnasium because numbers are getting upwards of seventy or eighty. Not all make it ever year, but a great number do. We continue to be close and so our children are still a large part. I think in our family it will continue in some way for many more generations. Family, with that particular sense of closeness, I believe is something being lost in this day and age.
Oh, lest I forget, one thing that we had a lot of fun with was touch football. Half of us didn't know the rules, but we'd be out in our grandparent's yard running around and having a ball. I think my grandparents may have handed down some old 8mm films of our antics. In fact, my aunt, if I remember, had them converted to VHS, which is now outdated too. Family is great. I wish the children of today could experience that type of support from generations.
E: Yes, family is great! I know of a lot of homeschooling families that are fortunate enough to be having these same types of experiences as they grow up right now. They're very lucky! because you're right... the family bond is getting pretty loosened in society as a whole out there!
 How about this for a quick writing challenge. Using a short paragraph, how would you paint a description of the setting/your world/the plains as you saw it then? 
Flint Hills of Kansas
G: Hiking through the flint hills or fishing from the river bank, the atmosphere of the farm transformed to magic. The colors of limestone and sometimes red rock, sandstone, evergreen cedars and plants of all colors grow wild.  I'd ride my horse up those hills and jump small chasms. Then when mom wanted gooseberries for pies we were in the wild gooseberry bushes pricking our fingers to get the small berries by the bucketsful. We had a spring fed pond stocked full of bluegill, sun perch and even wide mouthed bass and catfish. The picnic grounds as we call one part of the pasture has a beautiful brook fed by a spring that in one spot takes a short waterfall over variegated colors of rock. Magic lives in the plains and it's full of stories to be told.

E: Wow! This makes me want to visit your old home area! I love that kind of place.
 So, let's get started on the writing things! What's your favorite genre/genres, and what do you think really draws you to that/them the most?

G: I love to write pastoral poetry. When it comes to stories, I love adventures, psychological dilemmas, mystery, suspense, intrigue, and all those genres. Genre is a little bit limiting because in one story there can be many elements. Such as when I write a Christian book or story, I don't like to throw it in the readers face. I allude to it through events and ideas. I include many of the genres in the one story. I hope that is a satisfactory answer.
I'm not a historical writer per se. I don't write erotica or romance. I'm lousy at writing strictly romantic stories, but I do include romance in most of my stories even if not always a love story between a man and woman. Romance is a broad element in life, just like love. It appears in many forms.

E: What's your most favorite writing related advice?

G: I love research. We're told to write what we know. The more I research and learn the more things I know about, the more I can include in my writing. Research can be fun, even if it's trivia or word games. I highly recommend finding some premise somewhere on Facebook or some other site by taking a situation someone tells the world about and make a story out of it, especially if you need to research some of it. After all, we've been researching since the day we were born and will to the day we die through experience and learning.

E:   Good point! What is your favorite type of character to write? Why do you think that especially appeals to you?

G: Flawed. I hate characters that have it all together
all the time like James Bond. I want strength and vulnerability in my protagonist. That's where internal conflict can enter. It can even outwardly become apparent through a companion or child. Flawed is what we are and the possibilities are endless.

E: Where do you like to get your characters? Do you like to draw off of people you know, other books, or just pull them out of the blue?

G: Mostly from myself and people I know, but some are put in my path such as the man who probably built our house in the 1920s. He most certainly built the huge garage in the back that was his gambling and hooch parlor at the time. He did most of the gambling and his brother supplied the booze.  During prohibition it makes for quite the story. That takes a lot of research. I'm influenced by other books. Edgar Alan Poe probably helped with my interest in the flawed character and internal battles that come with it. It's hard for me to pull something out of the blue, but I do find things all over to make into a premise.

E: Some writers talk about their characters getting out of control and things happening that they didn't intended to happen; have you ever had this happen?

G: Oh certainly. Sheridan wrote most of The Search after chapter three, and some before that. I'd been introduced to her during a prequel, unpublished, I wrote about her and her husband in Egypt as archeologist and anthropologist.

E: Sounds interesting! I'm a sucker for archeology/adventure type tales of intrigue.
 How do you write, is it 'start with page one, scene one' and go through it in order; or just "whatever scene pops into your head"
(and that might mean that you have the entire middle of your book written before you even start on the beginning)? 

G: I refer to my method as a kind of layer cake. I start with a premise, do a focused free write, make a rough draft of a shorter version that is a foundation for the beginning, middle and end, the rough draft (when the characters take over), and so forth. Finally it's polished through proofing, revising, editing and on to publish. The publishing is the icing on top of the cake.

E: How do you plan your stories' "bones", or do you?

G: Oh, I build from some kind of skeleton. But like any living creature, a skeleton needs connective tissue. I won't give an anatomy lesson as that's not your question.
I've tried outlines, but they're like a grocery list. I forget them and leave them behind most of the time. They can serve as bones, but my layer cake method is kind of my process.

E: Have you tried any plotting, outlining, methods; and what works best to your way of thinking?

G: All of those methods are good. I do plot, with suspense, psychological thrillers, mystery and all that, plotting is a must. I try to get to know my characters, but they know me better I think. I've studied and taken a class from Sally Walker on the 36 point character outline. I think I'll likely use that to keep my characters somewhat under control.

E: What is your worst writing trouble?

G: My worst writing trouble is procrastination. It's easy to procrastinate when other things enter your life, such as fear of not being received well, making too many mistakes, self-doubt. Those are my most persistent thieves of time. When I get going, such as this interview, I can't seem to stop.

E: What is your worst writing fault? How do you identify and rectify it's effects?

G: My punctuation is terrible. I get in more trouble with that. I use Word's built in functions a lot and proof, proof, have my husband and a critique partner or two proof. Then I can get through it so it makes some sense.

E: Hey! It's been great having you here! We've so enjoyed learning more about another writer's mental workings! Thanks for participating.

G: I've enjoyed it. I haven't thought about how important some of my history is for a long time. I know I use it, but when you asked those first questions, my family dynamics struck me as one of the things that supports me as a person and built me through the years. It's not something I think of on a daily basis. Thank you for having me and giving me such thoughtful questions. I hope I can do more of these. I do interview a lot of other writers, but now I know how fun it is to be interviewed. Thanks Elizabeth.
E: I'm so glad to have you! And you're so right... our personal histories, family histories, these are so important to who we are, and yet we tend to forget about them in the hustle and rush of the every day.

 Wow! What do you think about Glenda's childhood? Sounds pretty idyllic to me. I know I'd love to go back in time and spend a couple of years there! ;-)

 ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
Have something to say? 
Shoot me an email, ekaiserwrites-at-hotmail
and we'd love to get an interview with you on here!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Q&A: How do you get your ideas?

 Okay, this has to be a question most creative types are used to being asked, but it seems like it's a perennially popular one in the bargain. In fact, it's a question I, myself  love to "listen in" on when it's being answered; so it will probably be around for a long time yet!

 Q:  How do you come up with your stories? Do they just pop into your head, or do you search for them?

 A:  For me, stories definitely pop into my head; sometimes they'll be sparked by another thought, sometimes not!
  Sometimes they won't leave me alone... for months. When that happens I usually give in; even if I have another project I'm in the middle of.
 I have lots of stories in various stages at any particular time, so I'm definitely a "messy writer" in that respect. ;-)

 What about you?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kill the Character; any character?

 I mentioned last week during the Reader Interview with Heather McD. that I was on the same page with her as far as character killing went. In retrospect, I may have been hasty in my statement, because she didn't elaborate on her thoughts. So here's mine! Smile

 ...Earlier in the season I got to talking with a writer on FB about killing characters... and how writers are wont to do so. Usually in the name of suspense and reality.
 Kind of brought a whole Kill the Character theme to mind, and I rethought how this actually affects the reader.
 As a beginning writer, I used to be a big fan of killing characters... especially after I'd made them likeable. (I know! How cruel!)

 Back then, I once killed someone in a piece, and let my little sisters start reading it before I was quite done with the finish. They howled so heart-brokenly, I hastily resurrected him in the finale. (I have to listen to my readers!) 
And, for the record, they were very relieved
    And upon later review... (much later) I found I agreed with them.

 So I learned something from the outrage engendered by the proposed-and-nullified killing, even though it took me until just recently to realize it. (Years after the incident! Yes, sometimes I am a slow thinker. Smile )

  All this killing that I was expecting to be "necessary for tension amping" really... wasn't.

 I could kill off a totally random character and the This-Villian-is-Evil point carried with the same impact, and less anguish.

 It was an epiphany. I don't have to kill my personable characters.... If I am tired of them I can send them on a cushy retirement to the Bahamas and they can simply exit stage left with no audience outrage.

  To re-test this theory out on myself I asked; "As a reader, when did you enjoy a sidekick character dying? In what book were you glad one of the good guys got it?"

 The answer was: Never.
 And: None.

  I am always left wishing the author could have come up with a more clever and less final method of whittling down the good team so the Hero could stand alone against Ulitmate Evil.

 -Wounded in action?
 -Fell into a paralysis-inducing liquid?
 -Breathed the coma-vapor?
 -Locked in the outhouse?

 When random, likable characters are killed for "tension upping" purposes,  I always find myself mentally yelling at the plot line, "Come on! Get creative! Stop the brutality!"

  {Disclaimer: I like a thriller as well as anyone. I love a good adventure/action plot. Assassin's and warmongers are right up there. But to build a persona that is relateable and well liked, just so the author can kill them off and enrage the reader... is a cop out, and actually backfires. I will distance myself from a story if one of my favorite characters is ruthlessly chopped for suspense's sake. I am no longer invested in this tale... I'm just finishing it, 'cause that's what I do.}

  Books, movies... I'm forced to go back through and mentally reweave the story to save my favorite side-characters lives.

 So; is this the kind of feeling I want to leave readers with?
  I have to answer for myself... No.
                                                        Not at all.
  I'd way rather have a book that sarcastic people could shout "Unrealistic!" at, and keep fans happy with the final chapter. After all, all stories take leave of "total reality" one way or another, or else who would want to read them?
  We go to Story to be uplifted and made to feel better...

 So I have reformed my murderous ways, and now I know why.

   What do you think? Have you ever been glad a good guy "got it"?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Reader Interview: Heather McD!

 And here's the first in a series of Reader Interviews, getting the perspective of those wonderful, imaginative folks who delve headfirst into book-worlds and come out the other side with definite opinions on what they just experienced.
 For our first bold reader, we've got Heather McD. from Missouri with us today.
 Thanks so much for joining us Heather! I love the fact that even though you're currently a "young adult", you've got a lot of thoughts on what you do or do not appreciate in your reading fare. Good for you for being a "thinker"!
  Okay, we'll jump right in.

E. Kaiser: What are your favorite kind of books?

Heather McD: I tend to prefer action-packed books overall. Mainly fantasy and sci-fi, but from time to time I will read other genres.

E: How about your worst pet peeves? Let us have 'em!

H: Hm. Well, one of them are a good guy character feeling betrayed by another good guy. Now, I'm not talking about “You handed me over the enemy” sort of betrayal. I guess it's more like the trust was broken between the characters. Generally speaking, it's over done. Instead of feeling sorry for the betrayed character, you wished they'd get over it. Move on! All because they didn't tell you they came from a different world twenty years ago doesn't mean they're on the wrong side!

E: Oh, good one. I can't get what the authors are thinking on that one, either. Just "What?!"

 Okay, how about that Thing-You-Can't-Stand-Above-Anything-Else.
H: When everybody dies. Or when a few minor characters die. You get my drift.

E: Ouch. You're right. That's a major depression trip...

  Glancing quickly backward over your reading history, what stands out as the moment that melted you heart, all warm and puddle-y?
H: Well, I don't know about my heart melting, but I remember a scene I read in a novel my sister, Shannon, is still in the process of writing. A young man was giving a sad, for lack of better terminology, history lesson that was deeply related to him. It's more touching than that, but I can't tell you exactly because I'd give something away. Smile

E: All right, we'll let you keep secrets.
Same thing; what's the first-to-mind scene that fired your emotions?

H: Oh, there have been lot's of scenes, but the one that comes to me first is a scene in Never the Bride, by Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge. It's about a girl who's in her mid-thirties, and all she wants to do is to get married. But the scene I'm referring to is near the very end, when she's extremely disappointed by a prospect. Being hurt and angry, she runs to the beach yells at God. Face-to-face. You'd have to read it yourself to completely understand.

E: So... what is your favorite trait in a character, and why do you love them?

H: Two traits I like: quirky and a good sense of humor. Quirks, even little ones, makes the character more interesting. A good sense of humor because I love to laugh. Smile

E: What most makes you most hate the villain?

H: To make the villains seem real to me, he has to be intelligent, not boasting in front of the good guys, doesn't lose his temper whenever he hears bad news, and doesn't kill unless he thinks he needs to. Villains like Hopper from A Bug's Life or Mother Gothel from Tangled. Now those villains were scary! And they did it without needlessly killing two or three characters!

E: Oooo, Mother Gothel was definitely scary.

 What was your favorite "switch" that caught you completely off guard, but you loved the result! 
H: The very first thing that comes to mind was some mystery book I read a while back. River's Edge, by Terri Blackstock. She picked a person I wasn't expecting to be guilty. And, as most people know, if you read enough of mystery books, they can be awfully predictable.

E: Too true! It's nice when there's a little mystery added back into mystery stories.

What small things do you especially like to see included?

H: I wish authors were less descriptive about violence. It bothers me when they dwell on it. I also would like it if authors wouldn't kill their minor or not-so minor characters so much. 

E: Aha! I think I know what you mean! In fact, I agree very much on the violence-turning-just-gory subject.
 As for the character killing issue, I've got a post coming up on just that topic! I'm on that same page with you there, too. (And I hope you'll stop by and post your comments on next week's post on that subject!)

 Thanks so much for visiting, Heather! I loved your responses, and I'm sure there are a lot of other folks out there that think along the same lines.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Want to let your thoughts be known? 
Send me an email at ekaiserwrites-at-hotmail and we can get you lined up! 
The more the merrier, you know. ;-) Join the conversation!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Writer Interview: Mary Ruth Pursselley

Here's were we start on our new Writer Interview section. We're very excited about this, and are really looking forward to learning more about others thoughts as we go along with this.

E. Kaiser: Thanks so much for answering the call, Mary Ruth! We're so glad to have you here, and we hope to get you back for a reader interview sometime later. Everyone should also be aware that you are currently hosting a give-away over at your blog, the Writer's Lair, for a Flip Dictionary! That sounds like a fun little device! How's it work?
Mary Ruth: You're so welcome, Elizabeth, and thank you so much for this opportunity!
  I'm very excited about the Dictionary Day giveaway. I can say without hesitation that the Flip Dictionary is the best monetary investment I've ever made in regards to my writing. It's a lot like a thesaurus, only way cooler. You can use it to find synonyms for words, but you can also use it when you know what you want to say but can't think of the word for it. 

E: That happens to me a lot more, lately, then it used to. A terrible feeling! (I always think it means I haven't been reading enough books.)

 M.R.: For instance, if you need a word that means 'a fear of tight spaces', but you can't think of it. It's in the Flip Dictionary, in a list of 'Types of Fear'. The lists and categories are amazing too; there's a list of military terms, and list of medical terms, and dozens more. Definitely a great asset for any writer to have on hand!

E: That sounds like a gem. I think I'll have to get myself over there and enter! Hope I win! ;-)
 So, let's get started. [Sits up straighter, crosses ankles, folds hand, and puts on politely smiling, coolly interested, interviewer face.]
What's your favorite genre/genres, and what do you think really draws you to that/them the most?

M.R: Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Steampunk are my three favorites, but I think fantasy would be the top of those three. As a Christian, I see everything I write as an 'illustration', if you will, of the God I serve and love, and I think the speculative genres leave a lot more room for building those illustrations creatively. For example, if there is a certain chain of events I want to write in a story, it's much easier to fit them into a fictional world with fictional cultures and fictional history than it is to try and locate a real-world setting that the story idea will fit into.

E:  I so agree! I've often found imagination to be a much more forgiving structure than the real world! One of the things I love best about spec-fic of all types. :-)

 What's your most favorite writing related advice?

M.R: Currently (it changes all the time) my favorite piece of writing advice comes from 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 &4 - "...I didn't use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God's secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, who was crucified...And my message and preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit."
  Don't get me wrong, I don't for one instant believe that my writing is 'divinely inspired' or anything like that. But I do know that God is the one who lets me have the story ideas I have, and who enables me to portray Him through them. God has taught me countless lessons about Himself through the stories He's given me, and I know there are lessons He's waiting to teach other people through them.   My job isn't to decide who takes what away from my stories, or to get the lessons across with stellar word craft or an extensive vocabulary. My job is just to tell the story and let God use it however He wants to.

E: That is the first time I have heard that verse used in that light, but I like it! Good answer. It does sort of give a nice reminder even to us lowly and frivolous typists.

  What is your favorite type of character to write? Why do you think that especially appeals to you?

M.R: I love characters who are tough and strong and capable on the outside, but conflicted or hurt or scared on the inside. I like working with conflicting desires and priorities, struggles between the character's strength and weakness, and the need for those attributes to eventually come to terms with each other, or to let another character see both sides. I think those characters appeal to me most because it's so easy to identify with them, and doing so offers a lot of opportunities to work with themes and ideas like priorities, honesty, acceptance, desires, etc.

E: Where do you like to get your characters? Do you like to draw off of people you know, other books, or just pull them put of the blue?
M.R: I've come to the realization that fictional people are vastly easier to understand than real people...

E: Ha! :-) So true.

M.R. ... so most of my character inspiration and ideas come from fictional people. I find movie characters especially helpful. I'm a very visually-oriented person, so being able to actually see the clenched fist that reveals how much a character is struggling to control his anger, or the tear-filled eyes that reveal how much he cares, or the moment that reveals how close he is to giving up, is a huge help to me in developing my own characters on paper.

E: Some writers talk about their characters getting out of control and things happening that they didn't intend to happen; have you ever had this happen?

M.R: Ryker Verone, a character from my novel Son of the Shield, is a perfect example of this. Ryker came into being (as Robert, originally) in an early draft because someone had to be the one to say "The patrols have reported nothing, sir." But then he just kept showing up and getting more and more involved in the main plot of the story, and next thing I know he's one of the central characters! It's happened other times too, but that's the one that sticks in my mind most.

E: That's a cute story! I love it when a minor character shows up with such charisma. It does make me wonder though, How do I get that same quality in the main character? :-(
 How do you write? Is it 'start with page one, scene one' and go through it in order; or just "whatever scene pops into your head" (and that might mean that you have the entire middle of your book written before you even start on the beginning)?

M.R: I try to start at the beginning and go straight through, but I usually end up with a few hiccups along the way. If a particular scene is giving me too much trouble, I might skip over it and come back later. If I have a really good idea for a scene that's farther along in the story than I've written, I'll make some notes so I don't forget about it, and then I use it as 'bait' to keep myself motivated because I just can't wait to get there and write it in full detail.

E: How do you plan your stories' "bones", or do you?

M.R: I normally have a pretty good handle on the very basics of the plot before I start writing, but I confess I'm not much of a planner. I prefer letting it flesh itself out as I go. When I started writing Son of the Shield, I knew how the story started, and how it ended, but really didn't know much about how I was supposed to get from A to B. I just let the subplots and details unfold as I went along. That method makes for a lot of rewriting and editing, but I don't mind that much.

E: Have you tried any plotting, outlining, methods; and what works best to your way of thinking?

M.R: I've tried a few different methods, but as I mentioned I'm more of a 'go with the flow' writer than a planner. I don't normally know enough detail about a story's plot before I start writing to make an outline; that usually comes in during the editing process, and at that point I just scan through the story and make notes on what happens. Now, if I'm co-authoring something, a plot point outline is extremely helpful during the writing process, but I always have co-authors to help me figure it out (two heads really are better than one) and we've never used a specific method. As far as plot-development methods go, I'm a big believer in giving the story all the time it needs to grow in your mind before starting any part of the writing process. A story slow in coming is better than a half-baked story.

E: What is your worst writing trouble?

M.R: Probably my distractability (if that's even a real word).

E: It's okay to make up words here! Hey, if Shakespeare can do it; we can do it.

M.R.: ... I have a very go-go-go, on-to-the-next-adventure personality, so once a story's newness wears off I tend to want to bounce off to the next exciting idea. And then there's the whole outdoors trying to distract me, and so many books I want to read, and so many sewing projects to work on... it can make it hard to stick with a specific writing project long enough to see it through.

E: I sympathize with that.

 What is your worst writing fault? How do you identify and rectify it's effects?

M.R: Well... I'm probably going to have to go with my distractability again. I can sit down knowing I have, say, two hours to write. So I work on story A until I remember that good idea I needed to write down on story B, and while I'm working on that I have this brilliant revelation about a subplot in story C... and two hours later I've written 50 words each on about ten different stories, but made no significant progress on any of them.
  So what I usually have to do is just force myself to focus, and not allow myself to even think about any stories other than the one I'm working on. Setting a specific goal, be it a time frame or a work quota, is also helpful, since I love meeting a challenge.

E: Good thoughts. Yes, focus is a tough one.
 Hey! It's been great having you here! We've so enjoyed learning more about another writer's mental workings! Thanks for participating.
 And I hope everybody will hop on over and try for a chance at that Flip Dictionary you're giving away! :-)

M.R: Thank you so much for having me! This has been so much fun, and you've asked some really great, thought-provoking questions.
I hope to see you all over at the Writer's Lair as well. And good luck in advance to everyone who enters the giveaway!

 --- Fade To Black--

So, what'd ya think?
Let me know, in the comments! :-)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Let's Get This Conversation Going!

A Call For Interviews!

 I am tired of only hearing my side of the story on here.
 (Well, mostly only. I did interview Sarah Holman, which was a blast...)
 And the comments you folks leave are terrific! But I want to hear more form you.

 I'm putting out a call for writer interviews!
 Or reader interviews!
 (That would be a ton of fun! Let's do that! If you are a reader, but not a writer, drop me a line! And we can set up an interview and get the "real deal" of what goes on in a reader's head!)

 No matter what genre you read, you've got a perspective. Let's hear it!
 We can ALL learn from each other, no matter what genre we prefer to specialize in. I always say that a good book is a good book, regardless of "category".

 We can talk about your favorite story lines, your worst pet peeves, the Thing-You-Can't-Stand-Above-Anything-Else, the moment that melted you heart, fired your emotions, made you so mad you couldn't see straight.
 What is your favorite trait in a character, and why do you love them; what most makes you hate the villain?
 What was your favorite "switch" that caught you completely off guard, but you loved the result!
 What small things do you especially like to see included?

 So contact me! I want to know what YOU'RE thinking.

 Also, if you're a writer, we can talk about these things too. ;-) Or we can talk about your writing, or your writing troubles... (Just contact me, and we'll talk! ;-) )

 Seriously, I'm looking at YOU.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Q&A: Hair color?

 During a recent interview I offered; "I wrote the first draft as a gift for my sister, and she is a plot detective. She also objects to nearly every cliche known to novelists, so I was particularly hard pressed to create this character and her story arc.  I plotted out a fresh course, and it passed muster with Abigail, so I think I have succeeded.
  So Fia doesn't have golden, jet, or fiery red hair. Just an ordinary rusty-brown. She isn't gorgeous, willowy, wonderful or has all the young men falling in love with her...
Which prompted a reader to say...

Red hair: popular with even the Old Masters.
  Q: Come, come, what's cliched about red hair? ;-)

  A: What's cliched about red hair? Aww... come on! What's not cliche about it? ;-)
 I mean, really!
 Okay, maybe it's not as cliched as golden, but it's sort of become a "stock item" on the Mary Sue list! Sorry! ;-)
  (Oh! And I just thought of why. All those racy romance novels you see in the book section of thrift stores. Count 'em. LOTS of red heads. Why? I assume because it's sensational, like everything else in those books. ;-) )

  And yes, I can understand that if you actually, indeed, really and truly, have red hair it would change your perspective. (You must have been very happy when you read Anne of Green Gables. ;-) )

  But imagine my perspective, if you will. I happen to have... not jet black tresses, not golden locks, not a flaming mane, NOR chocolate curls. I have an in-between color. How many heroines have in between color of hair? I ask you!
  (And yes, when I read Anne of Green Gables I became so heart-ached about the fact that my hair was Not Red, that I didn't get over it for years. Literally, years.)

  And, here I was trying to draw a cliche-free heroine. (Also raise a banner to all those future little girls who have in-between hair, and feel that other people are all prettier, more glamorous, etc. then themselves. *Psst! To all those future girls: It's not your hair color! Hair color is nothing. It's Personality, and a good Attitude. THAT is what makes people attractive/glamorous/insert-adjective-here. Who you are, not what. It's much more complicated. And only you have control over Who.* )

  I did find, though, that all cliche-free hair colors seem also to be, across the board, awfully hard to describe; without stopping the flow for a paragraph so we can explain just how "every day" this heroine's hair color is. (Maddening!)
   I now have a huge understanding to all those authors who slap down, "She flicked her fiery hair over her shoulder," "The breeze riffled through the golden strands," and "In the crowd, her hair shone black as midnight."

That was Easy.

And effective.
    Instant portrait.

You could say; "But, if it's easy, where's the challenge?"
And I could say; "We're writing a novel here! Over 50k words of action, emotion, plot twists, plot line, back story, foreshadowing... all of which we have to keep suspended in glittering array before the readers tired eyes until the last page closes. What do you mean 'Where's the challenge?'!"

   But in all truth, red heads are awfully fun to write. I've been working on another, unrelated story, (which is a blast!) in which we're temporarily dealing with a red headed cont-agonist. (The heroine's hair is a dutifully dull, but easily described; straw color. {Hey, give me a break! I got to cut corners every once in a while!} )
   The redhead is a spicy little eye full; ...which red heads everywhere will probably be glad isn't them.
And she's tons of fun to write.

 What's the most fun for you to read about?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Glenda Fralin Interviews Me. :-)

Ever wondered what I'm like? (You do? Wow! I'm so flattered! You should ask me questions some time. I'm easy to ask. ;-) )

 Well, fellow Nebraskan and writer Glenda Fralin went ahead and asked me questions; for an author interview posted to her blog. She has interviewed many authors, and there's lots of interesting people to read about over there, if you'd like to take a look.

 Anyway, here's how it turned out.
 I'll let Glenda tell it...

"Author Elizabeth Kaiser Interview"

Elizabeth, author of Jeweler’s Apprentice, joined the Nebraska Writer’s Guild last year. She’s already working on a sequel to the timeless fantasy about a sixteen year old girl whose curiosity makes her stumble upon a secret the King can’t allow to be revealed. Sent to a mountain jeweler as an apprentice, life becomes no less fraught with adventure and intrigue as she learns the trade of crafting jewelry.

Elizabeth is an intriguing person. As I read through her blog, I discovered many facets make up this beautiful gem that is the woman behind the author. I will let her explain to you how her life story lends to her mindset of fantasy.

Elizabeth, you have an eclectic interest in preferred reading. However, you’re first book is a young adult fantasy which incorporates some of your hobbies such as intricate jewelry. Tell the readers the story you related to me about your family and life on the farm.

 I'm third in my family with an older sister and brother.  I'm 28, and Abigail is my youngest sister, and best friend. She and I manage a small herd of dairy goats, (registered Alpines, their 
site is here.) and share so many other interests that we make a great team no matter what we're doing, whether it’s quilting, designing and sewing our own clothes, painting, drawing, or obedience training the dogs.  Although she isn't interested in writing, she loves stories, so she's my best "writing buddy" and we brainstorm on plots, characters, clich├ęs and all things writing! She's a nit-picky perfectionist, and my first reader, so she drives me to do more and be better!
   My parents, three siblings and I live and work on the farm.  Our family business includes training, marketing and selling horses. Our operation has been blessed to have gained a really solid reputation over the years we've been in business, and buyers from all over the country bid some high money for a horse from  Double K Ranch. Abi and our oldest sister work full time in the horse area,  first training, conditioning for months, then photographing & videoing, and then making the sales. A web presence is a big part of making this successful, and I take care of a lot on that end of things.

 Dad has been quite ill to varying degrees for basically his whole life. Living a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced, natural diet have always been a big part of our lives. We produce approximately 99% of our own vegetables and our own dairy products. We raise & butcher our own meat, can, dry, and freeze much like farm families did in the first part of the last century. This keeps the schedule very full, and there's always something next to try and add!

Mom has been into growing and using herbs for as long as I can remember, and so I am a neophyte compared to her experience! This has given me a lot of exposure. I value the knowledge I have gotten secondhand, and do try to keep picking things up as we go. Remembering all of it is the challenge! But that's one of the great things about writing, doing the research is so fascinating!

Since I like to write in pre-modern or fantasy settings; I like to slip little nuggets of fact in on the storyline. This is especially useful in the herb section, since they were so important to health care prior to very recent centuries.  
Abi and I are involved with the Nebraska Dairy Goat Association and I have done the cover art for its monthly newsletter for about three years now, and somewhere in there became the S.W. Director for the club. Having a monthly deadline has insisted that I focus on my drawing periodically, and I'm not able to "let it slide" like life has a tendency of doing! Lately I've been encouraging Abigail to help me out a little with a few drawings, and she did one last week that is really fantastic. Being a perfectionist, she has a tendency to hang back until she's sure she can do it perfectly. When she took the plunge and got it as far as she could, then I was able to give her a few pointers, and she was really pleased with the result. I'm so happy about this, because now her confidence is boosted and she can be bolder about tackling her art on the next ! Her pencil still life, "Cheese Plate," will be appearing on a future cover, and I'm going to keep her going on this track! 

I've really been grateful for the support she's often given me on my endeavors, and I definitely try to pay that back.

How did that influence Jeweler’s Apprentice?

We always lived out in remote areas, and so we kids grew up exploring whatever new woods we had moved next to and learning to get along with horses, cows, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, chickens, and lately turkeys. I was more the "nose in a book" type, but my siblings were my peer group, so I did what they did a lot of the time. And the older two could get kind of wild, especially with horses.

So I count myself blessed with a good understanding of how things were before industrialization, which sets me up to write about faraway lands in long ago times. I've always been a lover of fairy-tales, so oftentimes a serving of that gets stirred in to the mix.

Many people have commented that the setting of Jeweler's Apprentice feels very "real", as if it was history that actually happened somewhere. I love that compliment and credit my unique childhood for much of that.

I understand that besides the family business, you have an interest in art, along with your sister Abigail who helps critique your writing. In your book Jeweler’s Apprentice your protagonist, Fia, has a younger sister Eilma. How much is Eilma like your younger sister Abigail?

Eilma definitely shares a lot of traits with Abigail, certainly being about the same span of years younger than Fia, and blonde/blue eyed, sweet and caring, quiet and thoughtful. Eilma differs in that she is more precocious as a youngster than Abi was, so in that way Eilma is borrowing traits from an older Abi and maybe some from a younger me. Abi was a picture perfect child, whereas I had a certain sense of curiosity and mild boldness. 

I do have to say that I'm very fond of Eilma, and was sad when the story required leaving her so soon! I hope to write her story as well someday. 

Elizabeth, you joined the Nebraska Writer’s Guild sometime last year and attended the fall conference. I’ve had such wonderful experiences with the other members of the guild. I noticed in your acknowledgments of Jeweler’s Apprentice several of the guild members are mentioned. Explain just how being a member of such an organization has advanced your writing career.

I joined NWG just before the Fall Conference 2011, and so I haven't been around in the group a whole long time. I went up to Ainsworth with two lovely ladies from my area. They were such great company.  It was my first time at a writing conference of any kind, and having made two new friends right beforehand was so nice!

I had an all-around great time at the Conference, and the part I liked best was networking with all the nice fellow writers! Everyone was so open and friendly, and it was a blast to talk with people who were all thinking along the same lines; improving craft, gaining new social media/marketing skills, and the whole publishing animal! 

After coming home I felt empowered enough to get my manuscript seriously edited, and then put out there as an e-book. This has been a huge turning point in my writing career. I've received some excellent feedback and gained fans; all of which has been like high octane fuel to my writing aspirations. It's catapulted me into a Writer instead of a hobbyist. Now I feel pressured to turn out a good manuscript within a certain time frame; always trying for each to be successively better than the last.

 So I'd say that joining the NWG was a major "plot point" in my story as writer. And I'd suggest any writer-hopeful to find a writer's group near them to get in with. Having fellow writers/storytellers there's so much information to be shared and so much encouragement to be shared as well.

Of course, a lot can be found on the internet, so folks just need to reach out and get in contact with people who share goals with them! 

Some people have commented on the depth of emotion; sorrow and anger, shown in some pieces of your writing. It's not what they expect when first meeting you. What has influenced this?

 I've had a unique life in many ways; including sadness. Dealing with severe illnesses within my immediate family... anyone who's been in that position knows it can go on forever and drive everybody to the breaking point. The repeated, unexpected losses of extended family who were very special to me, those are sorrows that don't go away. We loose things; that are, were or might have been... and it breaks our hearts.
  It all serves to show that life is precious. We are held together by a thread, and sometimes... it severs.  In all lives, things are irrevocably changed, and there's no going back.
 We deal with it. The process of grieving comes in many stages, and, as writers, I definitely think the darker days of life are the ones that we're kind of afraid to allow out into our writing. But when I have taken that chance and let it manifest, the release from within was so freeing. Writing is great therapy!
  Then I built up the courage to share with others, I was humbled by the intensity of their reactions to the honesty of the piece. It was amazing to see how it resonated with them on different levels; and it really showed me that we're not alone in feeling sorrow, anger, or fear, anymore than we are when we feel joy, hope and love.
 It's easy to think that no one understands the depth of pain, but the fact is we tend to hide our hurts behind smiles. Smiles are so important! But healing is important too, and believing the universal connections we all share is liberating in a deeply powerful way.
 I don't focus on the sad things. Happiness is a better place to live. But pathos gives our stories, and our lives, depth and layered meanings. I think recognizing this as something good is vital.

  As a member of the Nebraska Writer’s Guild and a fellow author, I’d like to thank the Kaiser family for moving to Nebraska. Elizabeth works hard with her family and we can expect that she will continue to put as much care and effort into her writing. With Jeweler’s Apprentice available here for Kindle and the promise of more books to come, I expect much from Elizabeth Kaiser.

Elizabeth, I’m looking forward to whatever you and Abigail put your heads together on next. I’ll buy it."

 Awww! That is so sweet, Glenda!

 Thank-you so much for your great interviewing style and the time and effort you put into this! I liked your questions, they were fun to answer!
 And special thanks for your encouraging words!


 (And, just a note: Glenda's post had one reader comment already, one that was pretty flattering, so I'm excited enough to tack it on here. :-) )

 Comment: "What a fascinating interview! I hope I have the chance to meet you someday, Elizabeth. I am thoroughly intrigued. The experience and knowledge you’ve gained in your lifetime is just amazing. Where can I find your book?" Niecey Roy

I replied: "Niecey Roy! Thanks so much for your kind words! Now I hope we meet someday, too! :-) I do know a little about you, through the Guild… so we’ll see! Thanks so much for your encouragement, as well! (You know we writers can be needy folk. ;-) )
 Jeweler’s Apprentice is available online only through Amazon. I’ve considered putting it on Smashwords, but haven’t gotten to that yet. 
What do you writers think? Is that a big niche I’m missing, or something little-ish?
Thanks for your advice!"

 So, what do you think? 
 (On any of the above. Take your pick. ;-) )