Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blog Ring of Power Interview with Cary Caffrey

Today is part IV of the five part interview with Cary Caffrey.  Catch the other parts of his interview

Part 1 @ Teresa - Thursday, October 25
Part 2 @ Emily - Friday, October 26
Part 3 @ Sandra - Monday, October 29
Part 4 @ Dean - Tuesday, October 30
Part 5 @ Terri - Wednesday, October 31

He wraps up tomorrow on Terri's blog.  Today we talk with Cary about his current work, so Cary, pull up a chair and lets chat About Your Current Work

Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?

Amazon! And it's out now.

Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?

I'd like to think it's the relationship between the two main characters that sets this book apart from other stories in this realm. To me, Sigrid and Suko's story is very personal. 

As much as TGfA is a science-fiction action-adventure, I wanted the story to resonate on a personal level. Sigrid, growing up, finding herself as a woman, finding love, finding her confidence, is the most important thing to me in the book - not just whether or not she'll be victorious in battle and kill the bad guy.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

To be brutally honest, I had to learn to write, and that was tough.

Almost all my writing (until TGfA) was either movie scripts or stage plays. I had never been confident writing prose so when I undertook this project I needed to go back and do a lot of analysis. I needed to understand what it was about my prose that wasn't working for me.

It didn't take long to realize that I needed to work on some of the basics like my sentence structure. I had a terrible tendency to write long run-on sentences. I also had some bizarre notions of what I thought I had to do in terms of descriptions. I tended to over-write everything.

I needed to simplify everything, break it all down to the basics. I spent a lot of time re-reading old books, studying the styles of some older authors I admired (mostly the wonderful pulp writers from the sixties like the great Harry Harrison). Those old writers were real pros. They knew how to write clearly and succinctly. No flowery language. They knew how to get to the point fast.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

My absolute favorite part is the scene in the elevator. I smile every time I think of that scene. It's crazy. It's over the top. (I'd love to see this scene on the big screen). But I think it's the most exciting part of the book. Everything leading up to Sigrid and Hitomi's escape from Earth, to what happens on the Elevator. I always felt that if I could hook the reader to that point, I'd have them the rest of the way for sure. 

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

I learned that I could do it. I've tried to write a novel a number of times. It was nice to finally get one done and in the can, and to feel good about it.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in this book?

There are always things you look back on that still need work - things you'd cut or expand on. But I'd never change anything. I believe you never truly finish creative projects, all you can do is abandon them and walk away. The rest is up to the reader.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I'm not really a "message" guy. Rather than preach, I'd much rather pose questions to the reader. There's a real question of morality in TGfA, and I love how readers have picked up on this.

It's nothing the characters ever discuss, and it's certainly nothing I draw any conclusions on, but it's a big part of the book.

My main character is a woman who has been trained since childhood to kill, and to do so without question or mercy - a skill she demonstrates on countless occasions. Never once does Sigrid hesitate from her duty or question her actions or any moral imperatives that may be guiding her. Is she a woman of conviction? A hero? Is she Hitomi's champion, or is she simply a drone, acting out her Mistress' biding? 

I've had some readers go so far as to write to me half-way through reading the book and ask (half-jokingly, I think), who's the bad guy here? 

Readers bring their own imagination and experiences to every book they read. It's a lot more fun to see how they fill in all those blanks than simply having me map it out.

Twitter: @CaryCaffrey

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?
Paperback and Kindle, both exclusively from Amazon

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Time Management Matrix: Quadrant I - The Stress Zone

Deadline has passed, phone is ringing, someone is trying to talk to you right now, and a crisis is brewing that needs attention right now to keep from blowing up.  You have entered the stress zone.

Life has stress in it, but living with constant stress is not an option most of us would want.  Quadrant I is the pressure point of the Time Management Matrix.  Things here are urgent and important.  These issues must be dealt with right now.  Sometimes life has to be dealt with right now. 

I am a firm believer in being proactive.  Quadrant I is just the opposite, this is a reactive area.  The reason people end up in this quadrant could be lack of planning, lack of foresight, or procrastination or spending too much time in Quadrant III or IV. 

We all have meetings we have to attend, deadlines to meet, and have pressing issues.  However, the stress levels of these issues depend on how well prepared we are for the meetings and deadlines.  Procrastination leads to a lot of stress.  Next week I’ll talk about Quadrant II.  The more time we spend doing Quadrant II themes, the less time we spend stressed.  Stress free is a good goal. 

I have found in my own life when I procrastinate things, or fail to use my time wisely I end up in Quadrant I unprepared and stress.  I enter quadrant I every day, but if I am prepared for the events then my stress level is much lower.

So are you ready for your entry into Quadrant I?  What do you do to lessen your stress?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Time Matrix: Quadrant III

Last week I talked a little about Quadrant IV non-urgent, and not important.  Today I want to move to Quadrant III urgent, but not important.  These are things like phone calls, e-mail, mail, interruptions, and other important activities that steal your productivity.

I took a training class on time management.  During the course of the class the question was raised how many would like to read more books.  Most everyone wants to read more. 

“Then why don’t you read more?”

 Someone commented, “Because books don’t ring.”

I have not talked about quadrant II yet, I am saving that for last, but reading a book is not urgent, but it is important, especially if it relates to something you want to do. A ringing phone is urgent, but it may or may not be important.  A ringing phone is an interruption which can throw you off of what you are trying to accomplish.  I heard somewhere, and for the life of me I don’t remember where I heard this, perhaps in the same time management training I took, if you want to feel powerful, do not answer the phone.
It is amazing how many people can’t not answer a phone.  It drives them crazy to let a phone ring.  Now today with cell phones and personal directories and caller ID it does make not answering easy, but before the caller ID if you wanted to know who was on the other end of the phone, you had to pick it up and say, “Hello.”

Another activity that is urgent, because you have to do it now are phone conversations. However Texting has become the new way to talk.  Yes you can text later, but I’ve noticed the text has to be answered right now.  I have a twitter account.  Right now I don’t spend a lot of time with twitter, but I know some folks that get started on twitter and suddenly a lot of time has been spent tweeting and reading tweets.  Facebook is another activity that may not be important, but it does seem to be urgent, we all want to know what is the latest in our social network.

I’m not saying these activities are bad, but if you are looking where you are spending your time, what activities are stopping you from being productive keeping you from reaching your goals, you might want to look at the activities you do and how long you do them in quadrant III.

Next week I’m going to take a good look at Quadrant I.  Or what I like to call the Stress Zone.

What activities do you find yourself doing that seem urgent but really are not all that important?   

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

BRoP Interview with Zvi Zaks

Today's Blog Ring of Power interview is with Zvi Zaks.  He is willing to share his feelings on the Writer's Life.  So here we chat with Zvi.  For more of his interview here are the dates and sites:

Part 1 @ Sandra - Monday, October 15th
Part 2 @ Dean - Tuesday, October 16th
Part 3 @ Terri - Wednesday, October 17th
Part 4 @ Teresa - Thursday, October 18th
Part 5 @ Emily - Friday, October 19th
Now lets chat with Zvi:

What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc.
Sadly, my writing has been too intermittent, though now that I'm semi-retired, I find more opportunities to sit down at the computer. 

When do you write?
My favorite time is when I take the dogs to the park.  Sitting under a tree with a nice breeze, the background noises of children and pets, and no distracting internet, it's easy to write.

 How much time per day do you spend on your writing?
About three or four hours a day of writing and related activities (like reviewing, marketing, etc.)

 Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support?
My family actually isn't that interested.  I get a lot of support from writers' circles like the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror (they charge) or the Critter's Workshop (free).  The comments, both positive and negative, of other aspiring writers is a tremendous help.

How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?
I grit my teeth and push on.  I'm getting pretty expert at that.

Find Zvi Zaks on the web:

Is your book in print, ebook or both?  Both

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Time Matrix: Quadrant IV

Steven Covey wrote about the Time Matrix in his book 7 Habits.  I've studied and worked with Time Management tools for several years.  So I am going to share some of my own insights to this Matrix I started talking about last week.

Today I want to focus in on Quadrant IV of the Time Matrix. Quadrant IV is the bottom right of the Matrix, not important, not urgent.  This quadrant can be called Time Waster.  Although we need down time.

Currently my life is very stressful.  There needs to be an escape.  Quadrant IV is the place to go.  Talking on the phone with friends, Games, TV, Movies.  Basically vegging out.  Now you don't want to spend a lot of time in Quadrant IV, you lose productivity.  Some time in Quadrant IV can be beneficial.

This year I was able to take a vacation. The first time in several years. The vacation was built in quadrant II, planning and execution.  July 4, 2012 found me at a lake with my In-Laws.  A family member had a boat, and took the kids out, then took all the moms and girls out, then he came in and took the guys out.  We started off wave jumping, flipping the nephews off the inner-tubes.  Then we pulled into a cove threw out the anchor and shut the boat down.  Everyone had on life jackets and we jumped into the lake and floated.  That was it, just floating around the boat in a cove.  For me it was relaxing and a nice escape from the demands I face daily. 

We enjoyed a swim, returned home and reentered the daily grind, but the trip away was great.  I returned home recharged and ready to get back to work.  Time in Quadrant IV can be beneficial, but too much time in the quadrant will create more urgent items that need attention and build stress into your life. 

My sons enjoy playing computer games, but I have to watch how much time they spend playing, because they can get lost in cyberspace resulting in poor grades, and weakened social and family relationships.

So quadrant IV is a fun place to be, but don't spend too much time here.  Productivity and relationships will suffer if too much time is spent with non important items.  Take a look at where your free time is spent.  Is it building relationships and bringing fulfillment to your life?  Does it help relieve stress?  Or does it create more stress because of missed opportunities?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

BRoP Interview with Heidi Garrett

This week we are visiting with Heidi Garrett.  Her interview is as follows:

Part I with Sandra
Part II is with me
Part III with Terri
Part IV with Teresa
Part V with Em.

So we will talk about how Heidi writes.

      What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc.
Most of the times when I sit down to write a first draft, I overwrite. I turn off the internal editor and go for it. I find this approach very pleasurable, creative, and productive. It provides me a tangible way to tap into my unconscious. I usually go back the next day to reread and edit. I am somewhat of a fierce editor. I prefer to read tight writing. With the plethora of entertainment forms available today, I don’t believe writers have much room to be indulgent. Fantasy has truly come of age. Paragraphs and pages of description are no longer necessary to create another world for readers to enter. Choice details from the POV character, and integrity, create a believable world.
I also believe in finishing the first draft. Completion provides momentum. It also provides the writer with something to craft. Once that first draft is complete, it’s much easier to analyze plot, character, setting, and world building for what is working and what isn’t.
I like to have a daily routine. I find the ritual makes it easier to start writing. I write on my computer. I have trained myself to write at the keyboard. However, if I am really stumped, I’ll go offline, pull out a pen and pad of paper and go to work.
I am fortunate to have a room of my own. It is where I write. I don’t write first drafts anywhere else. Sometimes, I edit at a coffee shop. But I am most productive in my room.

 How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?
Since writing is so demanding mentally, I like to balance it with more physical things. Cooking, yoga, napping, playing with my cats. Anything that gives my brain a rest and opportunity to recharge. I also love hanging out in my backyard. Nature is a great antidote to hours on the computer.

When do you write?
I write on most weekdays. 

 How much time per day do you spend on your writing?
On days that I write, I like to write four to five hours. That is ideal. That doesn’t happen every day for a variety of reasons. But the more writing days I string together like that, the better I feel.

 What is the strongest criticism you’ve ever received as an author? The best compliment?
I worked with a really tough critique partner for a year. We met every three weeks. After each session, I would come home angry and upset. But after I stomped around the house for a few days, I would go back to review her comments. The majority of them were on target. Although, I never attempted to publish the novel that I worked through with her, my writing improved under her keen eye. I will always be grateful for that experience. She made me a better writer, a better storyteller, and helped me develop some necessary objectivity about my work. It was a crucial phase in my growth as a writer.

The best compliment?
I’ll quote the feedback from one of NANDANA’S MARK beta readers:
Nandana’s Mark has plenty of tension and conflict to keep readers engaged (Umbra vs. the faeries; Melia vs. her sisters; Melia vs. her father, mother, and Umbra; Melia vs. her social standing). What is really wonderful is that these different conflicts all feed into and off of one another. None of them feel like they are tacked on to add tension. Instead they feel like a natural part of the story.
When I read that, my heart felt very happy. 

Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support?
Other writers.

How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?
I kind of feel like it’s my responsibility as a writer to “suck it up, buttercup.” Rejection and negative reviews have a painful element for any writer. I think most of us want what we write to be loved. I sure do. But I am also a reader, so no one has to explain to me how subjective a reader’s tastes can be. It’s wise to focus on what we can control: the quality of our craft. But if a writer is going through a rough patch and can’t get any love for their words, best put on the blinders and keep writing.  

Facebook page: Coming Soon

Goodreads author page:

Apple: Search the iTunes store

Is your book in print, ebook or both?