Category Archives: Interviews

Author Spotlight on Dianne Gardner

1798746_10202055284116076_1831067777_nI have for you today an interview with my friend and fellow PDMI Publishing author Dianne Gardner.  Dianne’s an accomplished author, a skilled painter, and is even, I hear, pretty darn good at fencing!  She has a new novel coming out called “Altered”–this one not from PDMI–which I plan on checking out as soon as possible.  I advise you to do the same, and also to read “Deception Peak,” Book One in the Ian’s Realm Saga, available now from Rara Avis and PDMI Publishing.  And now, here’s Diane.

  • How long have you been writing? How did you get started?

You know the typical answer? All my life? Well, that’s not so true. I wrote as a teenager. Poems and dark prose. I was a Hamlet sort of person, very introspective. Then I stopped writing as a young adult mostly because I had a family, seven children, and very little time to write. I picked it up again about five years ago. Finished my first novel in 2011 and had it published in 2012.

  • I know some of your work draws on history. Which do you prefer—historical fiction or fantasy?

I love finding historical figures that lived unusual or tragic lives. That’s what the story Cassandra’s Castle was inspired by. I did combine that with fantasy so you can call the novel a historical fantasy. I will probably always include a fantasy element in everything I write. With fantasy I can go anywhere, do anything. I want my characters to have that opportunity as well.

  • How does being a visual artist as well as a writer affect your fiction?

I think being a visual artist and a write gives my work both an abstract view as well as add another dimension. I see things differently having been an oil painter for so many years. Laying down the abstract of a painting is much like forming a book. And to be an artist, or an author, you have to see the picture ahead of it’s manifestation. That’s what keeps you going.

  • What are some of the books/authors that have inspired you?

I am inspired by C. S. Lewis. His outlook on life, his fresh way of thinking after all he went through during the war, and his love for God and the good things in life I find refreshing. C.S. Forester is another favorite author of mine. I love ocean travel, wicked waves and high seas! Almost all my books have some ocean life in them. The book I’m writing now is about mermaids and dolphins.

  • Do other art forms—paintings, music or films—ever find their way into your fiction?

Of course they do. We write who we are and if we surround ourselves with the classics, they show up. In Cassandra’s Castle my supporting character plays the violin. I found it exciting to describe music! In Deception Peak, Ian is fascinated by the artwork that decorates the Kaempern’s yurts, tales of the hunt.

  • How did you get started writing the “Ian’s Realm” Saga?

It began with the dragon. A nine foot by four foot oil painting of the dragon that is. From there I heard Ian whisper that he was going to take that guy on. So the story began.

  • What are your feelings on the publishing industry today? You’ve been with a couple different publishers thus far—how have your experiences been?

I think small press is a great way to break into the industry, especially if you write genre related. I would be wary self-publishing without some books under my belt and some good editors. I have to admit, I do have a secret desire to get an agent.

  • What advice would you give new writers?

Study the craft. Make sure you know the rules before you try to break them. Look at your work through someone else’s eyes. There is always, always room for improvement. Take critique, but make sure you respect those who give it to you. Be bendable.


Author Spotlight on Victoria Adams

Adams_0065_5x7Today, I present a special spotlight on a special guest–my friend and colleague Victoria Adams, who is PDMI’s business director and also an author.  She’s got great insights into life and writing, and I’m proud to work with her and happy to have her here to share her thoughts with you.  Welcome, Victoria!

  •  So, how did you get started writing? Any favorite books or authors that inspired you?

I’ve actually been writing for years. Granted, a lot of it was business related and had to do with business modeling, accounting, law and whatnot; but still a lot of conveying an idea with the written word. I also spoke and taught for several years and prep always seemed a bit like writing a story. The real initiative that sent me into publishing something was my husband’s diagnoses of vascular dementia. I felt very alone and overwhelmed so I went to something I knew; I wrote. Eventually my jottings became a book. From there I decided to try to do something that very same man had been bugging me about for years; really write. It’s slow going with the current demands on my time, but I am making progress.

  •  I know that you have a business-related background. How easy is it to get the business mind and the creative mind to co-exist (as it seems to me is pretty essential for authors these days)?

I think it depends on how you look at business. I love to create. I like to take an idea, piece of property, or going concern and see what I can do to make it tick better. What can I help build? What future can I help envision? All of my accounting, finance, tax, and business law background goes into taking that vision and putting it into words that garner support. Or that keeps tabs on progress. I try to communicate accounting in a way that non-accountants can see clearly where their vision needs to go. I don’t see them as two different minds. Maybe a different medium in which to communicate.

  • Talk a little bit about your two most recent writing projects—your already-published book Who I Am Yesterday, and your current work in progress, which not everyone reading this may know about?

Who I Am Yesterday chronicles my first year as a full time caregiver. It was my journey to acceptance and some of my first small steps in getting accustomed to a totally different life style. I don’t have all the answers and I still have days I want to run into the street screaming, but I’m learning. PDMI Publishing and I are planning a sequel sometime in the near future. It will be an expanded version with much more material. Current working title is Caregiving Backstage (as used on my blog).

Why Me? Come Let us Reason with Job is an entirely different kind of project. It is the type of work my husband has wanted me to publish for years. Part philosophy, part theology, and part critique. It, too, in many ways, is a personal journey. There is a life time of experience that goes into such a discussion. Why do things happen or not happen to this or that person? Is there Someone that is looking out for us? Do we have a part in what happens? Is there cause and effect? Or do we imagine it?

  • How did you get involved with PDMI?

Ahh. A story indeed. I bumped into Tc and Nessa in a lovely group created by Virginia Jennings for Writers and Authors. “Back in the day” when it was small and just taking off. Their attitude interested me but I wasn’t sure we were a fit. I really wasn’t that interested in the genre that prevailed in their portfolio. But they were expanding and looking for traditional contracts. They read the preface on Job and wanted it. I remember signing their contract and thinking I could write a much better one. Not long after they talked me into a reissue of Who I Am. Now, of course, our portfolio is quite diverse and growing rapidly.

A few months later I was starting to help them with a few business things and one thing led to another and here we are. A year later I’m a publisher.

  • You’re a strong proponent of blogs. Tell me how you think the blogging phenomenon influences the world of writing these days.

I really need to practice more of what I preach. I think that blogs are an incredible tool for authors. No matter what profession you choose to pursue there are always ways to strengthen your skill. Little practice things to get you into shape. A blog does that. It hones your skill so that you can drop a couple hundred words on any subject, anytime, anywhere. That way when you do sit down to work on a manuscript you are in shape. The words don’t drag out of you, you see a vision, hear a voice, and off you go.

It is also a really great way for the public to get to know who you are and what you do. As long as you don’t spend all of your time talking about writing. My blog is about my philosophy, my interest in science and my caregiving adventures. I do write book reviews and have guests occasionally, and when I get really excited about something in the writing profession, I’ll share that. It’s my “Reading Alcove” and I like to keep it in that mode. A place to sit and learn or just read a darn good story.

  • What about self-publishing? Do you think self-publishing helps or hurts the industry?

Both. I enjoyed my experience because I planned it. I researched all the things you are supposed to do to make a professional looking book. I tend to research everything I get myself into. I had people edit my book and I crafted my own cover. The last because I am a hobbyist when it comes to photography and fancy myself at least moderately skilled in some of the arts. It is a book that is well received if not widely marketed. I think that the serious author can self-publish a solid, marketable book. You have to be willing to wear a bunch of hats and work yourself to a frazzle or carefully contract the help you need.

It is bad because there are no gatekeepers. Anything can get published and if you rush to publication you could ruin your name and your brand. People get the impression that the whole thing is so easy when it really isn’t. Crafting a professional, commercial product takes a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of research to know what the trends are and what will make the title sell. I think you have to make up your mind that whatever path you choose, you give it your best however long it takes.

  • Do you have a personal motto or philosophy you can share with us?

I choose to do everything I do the very best way I can. If I don’t know how to do it, I find a way to figure it out or someone to teach me. I am a Christian, though I am not “churched.” I believe my faith informs my decisions but does not give me the right to make decisions for others.

  • What is the most rewarding thing about being involved with a small press like PDMI?

Watching people create. I get goose bumps sometimes watching a talent blossom and grow. Watching a small company come together and really get it on. It is an amazing atmosphere and one worth all the extra hours, the occasional stress and sleepless nights, and the occasional mother hen moments.

  • Anything you’d like to add that I haven’t asked?

Well, that’s a wide open question, now isn’t it? I guess my hope is I can keep all this up long enough to get some books out there, help Tc and Nessa spawn a successful company full of talented, energetic people, and find ways to keep my husband home with me. Both financially and emotionally.

Author Spotlight on Brian McKinley

562606_10200359894213945_1869808159_nToday’s interview spotlight introduces new PDMI author Brian McKinley, who, like me, has been writing about as long as he’s been thinking.  Brian’s a talented guy with a great imagination–so I’ll just let him speak for himself.

  • How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?

I’ve been writing and creating stories since I was old enough to put words on paper. I was terrible at drawing, so I was the kid who wrote little stories and gave them to my parents and grand-parents. Throughout my entire life, I never had much doubt that writing was something I wanted to do as a life’s work. I added acting for a while, but decided that I was a better writer than actor. Oddly enough, though, despite my certainty, I followed a lot of false-starts before hitting my current path. I dabbled in a lot of different genres and story types before I found my current niche.

  • Who are your favorite authors?

Stephen King, Thomas Harris, Jim Butcher, George R. R. Martin, P.N. Elrod, Colleen McCollough, H.G. Wells. Steven Saylor, Frank Herbert, Jim Thompson, Raymond Chandler, Max Allen Collins, and Neil Gaiman.

  • Name one author who’s been most influential on you?

I’d have to say that Stephen King’s been the most influential. He really helped break me out of the idea that writing had to be polite. His bookOn Writing was the most eye-opening and exciting book about the craft that I’d ever read. I loved King’s fearlessness with his characters. He doesn’t care whether you like them or not, they just are who they are. Same with Martin as I read his Song of Ice and Fire, I loved his world-building and the way he’ll pull the rug out from under you. No characters are absolutely safe in their worlds, just like in real life. As fantastic as their worlds are, I believe them because they have an uncertainty and untidiness that I recognize from life.

  • What’s your favorite genre, and why?

Probably urban fantasy nowadays, though it’s starting to become too overpopulated. I read a fair range of things, but I often restrict my reading to things that are of benefit to the project I’m working on at the time. Right now I’m reading a lot of vampire novels to get a feel for what’s out there and keep my head in the right space. However, I’m going to make an exception for Doctor Sleep, which I have to read! I like reading historical novels, fantasy, crime novels, and psychological thrillers as well as vampire fiction. I actually don’t read a lot of horror, which surprises people. Mostly, I’ll read anything that sounds interesting, but most of my reading is these days is keeping up with series that I like and trying to inspire myself by reading other great books.

  • What do you think you do best as an author, and what do you feel like you most need to work on?

That’s a great question and one that every author should consider! I think my strengths are my characters. I won’t say that they live and breathe for me, but I do think about them a lot and they often live with me for years before ever making it onto a page. So, by the time they get there, they’ve got a lot to say. The thing I think I really need to work on is plotting.

  • Any advice for beginning writers?

Paraphrasing King: “Keep reading, keep writing.”

  • What’s your favorite food?

Tough one. My mom’s chicken and rice.

  • How did you hear about PDMI Publishing, your current publisher?

From my friends and fellow PDMI-authors Daven Anderson and Emily Guido.

Author Spotlight on Peter Wells

Today, I’m featuring a little chat with my friend and PDMI colleague from the UK, Peter Wells.  Peter’s the Marketing Director at PDMI now, but it was his words and perspective on life that brought him to our attention.  You can find those at his blog,  And, you can find them in this interview. Welcome, Peter!

  • How long have you been writing? How did you get started?

I began writing seriously, or slightly seriously when I started my Blog. I’d written poetry at university and always been identified as slightly creative, but I’d never stuck at anything in a way which might say I was a painter, or writer or anything in that line.

  • You’re quite noted as a blogger. How did THAT get started?

I think my first post was actually about this very question. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of night and my head is full of musings and characters: you can’t shut the devils up. Finally, regardless of the hour, I rose from my bed and wrote my first post. To those who know me, the fact that I got up in the middle of the night, discovered a Blogging platform, and actually got the thing to work is a curiosity yet unexplained but I did. The rest is history, or a very small part of it anyway.

  • You and I have talked a little one on one about your ideas on the importance of blogging, but explain it a bit for visitors to PORTALS AND PATHWAYS. What’s the value of a blog to authors?

There are several hundred thousand books published every year, give or take a dozen, and the chances of an unknown coming to the notice of anyone but his wife and children and that bloke at the fish shop are quite small. Blogging in a thorough and professional manner, which means producing short works of fiction and ruminations on a regular basis, as well as commenting on other Blogs regularly, is a great way to introduce yourself to a world which might otherwise fail to notice your existence.

  • Is the bookstore as much of a dying animal in the UK as it is in the US? What are your thoughts on the seeming shift from brick and mortar bookstores to other modes of access?

Sadly I think it is. I studied English Literature at University, and I remember how much I enjoyed going down to the book shop and discovering new authors, and being able to feel and touch the text. Bookshops have an atmosphere all their own which a digital experience will never replace.

  • I know some of the story, but readers of this blog may not: How did you get involved with PDMI Publishing? What’s been your experience with PDMI thus far?

As I continued to Blog the numbers of ‘followers grew, and I spent more time looking out for other Blogs which might engage my interest. One of those Blogs was called “”Reader’s Alcove” which is written by Victoria Adams. She contacted me and asked me “If I had any manuscripts hidden away. I didn’t but her interest inspired me to produce one: hence the arrival of this book. As for my experience of PDMI Publishing–they are a bunch of crazy and talented individuals who each bring something amazing and really eye opening to the party whether they be from editing, illustrating, formatting anything else. I can truly say I would not be with anyone else, and I hope the feeling is mutual.

  • Do you have a daily writing routine? What is it?

With ‘Living Life Backwards’, I set myself the target of producing 1600 words a day, five days a week. There were to be no excuses and there never were any. I’ve now completed my second book and am working on my third but now I allow myself a casual target of 1000 words a day. I understand having three books out at the same time is the beginning of becoming a professional author, which I would like to be. Yes I do work as well, but every life has its inconveniences!

  • Do you have a favorite book? Particular favorite authors?

This is a hard one as you can imagine. The list is pretty long, but currently, despite the fact that I am a fickle and capricious fellow and these things keep changing, I’d say “The Great Gatsby’ is my current favorite. The book is only 55,000 words but so packed with content and character that is a far richer read than many books which are twice or three times its length in my opinion. Apart from the content, his writing style is simple but engaging and I always read it with enjoyment.

  • What attracts you most to a book you’ve never read?

That it somehow illuminates the wonders and contradictions of our life on this planet and with each other. It must have a metaphorical integrity and involve situations which I regard as credible. Having said that, discovering a new author who enriches your understanding of the world is like making a new best friend: your life is always the richer for having ‘met’ them.

  • What advice would you offer to new authors?

My advice to myself, and to any new or aspiring authors, or anyone with a dream is never to give up. The only way to ensure failure is to stop trying. The vast majority of those who have enough faith in themselves to work at what they do, and polish and refine their craft, and send their work out, regardless of the rejections, will arrive somewhere near the town of ‘Success.’ To live without a dream is to exist, and that will never be enough for me.