Author Spotlight: Patty Jansen and N.M. Howell

Patty Jansen

Ambassador 1: Seeing Red by Patty Jansen

1. What inspired you to write “Ambassador 1: Seeing Red”?
The Ambassador series is a Science Fiction thriller series that is slightly unusual: it combines aliens and settings on other planets and in space with a future version of Earth.

Many space opera books are like Star Wars: Earth is distant and forgotten and therefore the setting doesn’t need to consider the future of our planet.

I wanted to read books that had both distant planets and Earth as recurring features, and couldn’t find any, so I decided to write them. Naturally, the books are full of grand political schemes and shadow societies and their influences.

2. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
It’s very different for different books. Some books take longer than others, because I won’t let a book go unless I am happy with it. If this involves paying for another round of beta reading and editing, or extra research, then so be it. I am not a slave to deadlines. I usually write 4-5 books per year, so on average it takes me about 10 weeks, but some books have taken more than 6 months.

3. What motivated you to become an Indie author?
I had some deals with smaller presses. I got frustrated with the length of time they take to get your book out and the lack of control an author has over things like marketing, design and pricing.

4.What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. Do a couple of things that you like, and keep doing what gives you the best results, while dropping what gives you the poorest results. Most importantly: always keep working on your craft.

5. Why should I read “Ambassador 1: Seeing Red”?
Ambassador has aliens with a rigid society structure that can get you killed for looking a superior in the eye, alien and Earth politics, a murder in desperate need of solving, a shootout in a suburban shopping centre, space travel, family issues including a love affair, so what is there not to love? Besides, if you love it, there are seven more books in the series!

N.M. Howell

Return of the Dragonborn Prequel by N.M. Howell

1. What inspired you to write “Return of the Dragonborn”?
I’ve always loved fantasy. It’s been my favorite genre to read since I first held a book. But I was growing tired of reading about the same old thing. I wanted this series to mean something, so I think you’ll find many parallels to real life in these books: war, racism, internal battles between right an wrong. I really wanted to tell a story that dug deeper than just your typical good vs evil.

And, also, dragons are just pretty damn cool.

2. How many hours a day do you write?
I write between four and twelve hours a day, depending on deadlines. I wake up early and try to get my words done before anyone else in the house wakes up. If I’m motivated, I can generally meet by 5k wordcount goal by noon, and then take the rest of the day off to go out, work on admin stuff, or plot out my next book.

3. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
This is a funny question, as I think it sums me up as a person quite well. I either completely immerse myself in the book in an obsessive way, often completing a full novel in only a few short days. Either that, or I’ll sit on it and pick away at it piece by piece over the span of a few months. It all depends on the story and the space I’m at in my head when I start.

4. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Don’t let the fear of failure of the fear of not being perfect hold you back. I began my writing career after nine years of studying to be an architect. I have no background in writing, it’s simply something I just love to do. I never thought I would be good enough, so I never bothered giving it a chance until this past year. I regret not starting earlier, because the only way to get better at anything is through practice.

5. What do you do when you have writer’s block?
I’m not too sure I believe in writer’s block, but when I’m feeling highly unmotivated, I’ll generally put the book aside for a while and grab a bottle of wine and a good book to read. No one is on their game 100% of the time. If today’s not your day, don’t let it stress you out. Put your work aside and take a mental break. Read a book. Go for a hike. Or, if you’re like me, drink a bottle of wine or two and regret it the next morning.

I think the best way to grow your creativity is to consume something creative. Read books. Lots of them. I often find I’ll get a few pages into a good book before my brain starts working overtime on my own ideas, and I end up putting the book aside and returning to my own work with a renewed sense of motivation and passion.

6. What is your writing proccess?
I used to be a pantser, but since I discovered dictating I try and outline my chapters before I start any book. I try and have the whole thing mapped out, in really simple terms, and then I turn on a timer, close my eyes, and dictate each chapter in one go. I find I can generally complete a chapter in twenty minutes, and then I go back and do any rewrites and editing after each chapter is complete. I find this process a lot faster than writing the entire book and going back to rewrite and edit in its entirety. When it’s done, I send it out to my editor so she can tell me how to fix my mess. I just started working with my current editor a few weeks ago, and I think I’m in love. She’s a miracle worker.

7. What is your favorite place to write?
I love nature. If weather permits, I love writing outside under the gazebo or down by the lake. The bugs have been murder this year, so lately I tend to just write on the couch near the window. When I move back to the West Coast, I’ll be writing outside in the woods for sure.