Author Spotlight: Scarlet Ingstad

  • a historical fiction and fantasy author who spends most of her time with her nose stuck in a book

Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to Scarlet Ingstad!

Scarlet Ingstad is a writer who is as obsessed with 18th-century history as she is creating worlds that never existed. When not writing, she can most likely be found on the piazza of Mount Vernon studying the American Revolution and the Golden Age of Piracy.

Scarlet is working on her second master’s degree and teaches online history classes to a group of teens. Scarlet was born in North Carolina but was raised along the coast of Virginia. She now lives right outside Washington D.C., exploring coffee shops, bookstores, and historical sites.

Scarlet, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

Growing up we had cats, fish, hamsters, and a turtle. But I would have to say, if I could have any pet, it would be a dragon. I am a pretty big Daenerys Targaryen fan, and the thought of having a massive dragon to ride around sounds pretty amazing. Although, I think instead of Drogon, I would probably prefer Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon…he seems like a safer bet. Dragons play a big role in my next fantasy book, so my head is always wrapped around what it would be like to actually “own” one.

You can’t go wrong with Toothless! Once he warms to you. 🙂

What do you write?

I have always written fantasy since I was a child, so for my first novel that’s the genre I selected. It’s the realm I know the most and am the most comfortable with. However, as I started working through this master’s program, I became more confident in the historical fiction genre. I now reside there primarily and am really enjoying the experience.

I started writing when I was very little (about eight years old) and wrote a story about my favorite hockey team, the Washington Capitals. After that, I started dabbling in the world of fanfiction just for fun and to share some of the things I constantly scrawled in my journals. A little over two years ago, I finally felt confident enough to try out the self-publishing route. It’s challenging, but also very rewarding.

I completely understand the childhood draw to fantasy. I’m fascinated by people who love the research and historical fiction as much as you seem to and am thrilled that you’ve found a home there.

What do you like to read?

I read mostly historical texts with some historical fiction and fantasy sprinkled in. Between school and my history interests, I usually have 3 to 4 books going at a time that I switch between for various research purposes. 18th-century revolutions are my favorite subject matter, and I am typically reading about pirates during that era, and the American Revolution. I have started dabbling in the French, Haitian, and Brazilian revolutions as well.

Oh wow, I’ve always been impressed by people who can switch between books, but I’m afraid I’m a serial monogamist when it comes to my reading habits.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Take a break.

I am probably the absolute worst at taking breaks. I have never, in any aspect of my life, known when to put the pen down and breathe.

During the first month of quarantine, I wrote out 75,000 words for my next historical fiction book centered around the Marquis de Lafayette, Benjamin Tallmadge, and Alexander Hamilton. Right after that, I went through two months of intense editing to complete and publish my Anne Bonny novel much earlier than anticipated.

I understand the importance of breaks and how they are needed, but getting me to actually take a break is quite the challenge. Ask any one of my friends or family members. They have stories.

Oh wow! You’re a writing power-house! I waffle between understanding how to take breaks and frustration/eagerness to get to the next stage with whatever project I have on the backburner.

If you can’t get yourself to take a full break, do what I do and hit your to-read pile while your beta-readers or critique partners are sitting on your manuscript.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Stop worrying about being a good writer, just WRITE!

It took me quite some time to accept this piece of advice, but now that I have, I am never letting it go. If there is a story in my head, I need to get it down on paper as fast as possible so as to not lose any details. The formatting, wording, style, flow, and grammar can all be revisited another time. Getting that story from your head onto a page is the most important part. After all, that’s why they make editors, right?

Even if the story is not perfect, even if the plot has holes or frayed edges, it doesn’t matter. That first draft is just about you getting that story out of your head. Furthermore, even when you are ready to publish, don’t stress about who will or will not like your story. Not every book is meant for every person. Getting beyond the “what if they don’t like me” thought process is absolutely vital.

That’s my philosophy as well! You can only get better at writing stories by… writing stories. At some point, you’ve gotta just sit down and write.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

Debuting this month is: The She-Wolf, based on the true story of the sea-faring pirate, Anne Bonny.

The She-Wolf by [Scarlet Ingstad, Martina Matteucci]

Born as the result of a torrid affair, Anne Cormac is raised by a father who doesn’t want her, and in a world that won’t accept her. Rebellious and angry, Anne flees her father’s home and runs into the arms of James Bonny, a small-time pirate. But James proves to be as problematic as Anne’s father.

Stuck, yet again, by a man who refuses to accept who she is, Anne stumbles across the path of the notorious pirate captain, Jack Rackham: a man who will change her life forever. As Anne struggles to figure out who she truly is, one of Britain’s most successful privateers, Woodes Rogers, begins his quest to rid Nassau of the pirates for good.

Soon, Anne finds herself facing the British Empire head-on in a battle, not only for freedom for the pirates of Nassau but for her very life.

My first book I published is the YA fantasy Krekania.

Lydall Barron is stuck in a marriage pact between her kingdom and the neighboring kingdom of Westland. For decades the tradition of marrying a lord or lady of Westland maintained a peace treaty between the lands and aided in avoiding another catastrophic war. But for Lydall, it feels like a prison order. Desperate to escape her fate, Lydall flees Histair on the back of her stallion and races off into the highlands. Lost and confused, they stumble upon an unusual looking stone in the center of a clearing.

Curious, she reaches out a hand and touches the stone…and instantly Lydall is transported to a land much unlike her own: Krekania, the last land of magic. A world full of creatures like winged-wolves, unicorns, elves, firefoxes, and even mermaids, Krekania is a flourishing oasis for all who possess magic. Lydall is swept away by the glowing plants and beautiful landscape, but soon learns that something else also calls Krekania home…and that not all magic is good.

To save the last land of magic, Lydall must become what Krekania needs most: The Woman of Fire. Five elves, one Queen, and one human must fight together and overcome their past, or all will be lost. The Woman of Fire Shall Rise.

I plan to write a sequel to Krekania down the road as well!

My current project is a 2-part historical fiction series about the Marquis de Lafayette, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Tallmadge. The first book will be called We the Sons and the second We the Fathers. A young French aristocrat, poor Caribbean immigrant, and the son of a pastor — follow their journeys from when they first join the American Revolution through to the formation of America’s government.

Check Scarlet Ingstad out across the web!

Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Author Spotlight: Brent A Harris

  • a two-time Sidewise Award finalist for alternate history, author of A Time of Need (Insomnia Publishing), an MFA NUScholar, and Dad. And fan of dinosaurs.

Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to Brent A Harris!

A pale, clean-faced man with short light-brown hair, wearing a blue-ish polo shirt and holding an open book in front of a wood panel background looks at the camera.

Brent scours the universe searching for stories but usually finds them wedged under his couch cushions. Mmm, French fry.

He currently lives in Italy, which is great because he loves to travel—er, sit on his couch, eating. He has currently gained 5 Lockdown Pounds, which don’t count like regular pounds, he’s sure.

Brent, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

A pet dinosaur. Probably something small and manageable. I can’t imagine cleaning the litterbox for a Triceratops. Maybe a cute little compy. We could go on walks and it would chirp and skitter around all adorable-like.

In real life, I once had an albino cockatiel, which is like having a small dinosaur.

I love it! My favorite dinosaur is the Charonosaurus, (the best of the duck-billed dinos), but Triceratops are definately cute and stompy.

What do you write?

I write speculative fiction. I imagine ‘what if’ and then come up with what might have happened. The go-to example is something like, what if artificial intelligence gained sentience? And then you write a story about that, usually how it’s going to kill everyone.

However, I also do that to the past too. For example, what if the Roman Empire never collapsed? Or, what if George Washington wasn’t a Founding Father? And then you write a story, answering your own question. Writing speculative fiction is a bit like talking to yourself. Shut up, no it’s not. Yes, it is!

I love exploring the what-ifs, both for the future and the past. It’s a great way to explore what might-have-been.

What do you like to read?

I read a little about everything. Writing involves a metric crapton of research. My TBR piles are all related to the topic at hand, and they tend to by drier, first-hand primary sources or technical papers. I have a ton of history books on my bookshelf. My current reading is on the Victorian era, but for my last project, I dozed off read technical papers about computer programming. I read these so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

I’m actually a software engineer in my dayjob, so I read plenty of design documents and government regulations. I recommend bribing yourself with 1 chip or piece of chocolate for every so many pages you make it through.

It is impressive how much research making stuff up can need!

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Write what you know.

It’s not that it doesn’t work for me, but that it’s commonly misunderstood. Robert Louis Stevenson was never a pirate before writing Treasure Island. George RR Martin has (probably) never seen a dragon.

You absolutely should write what you don’t know, but you *should* know something about the emotions behind the journey your character is making. That’s the misunderstood part that gets lost in interpretation.

How well you know the experiences of your character makes it real and authentic to the reader. Dammit, Martin, we’re all a bit of Tyrion, aren’t we??

That’s the exact point I try to make when people come out either strictly for-or-against this advice. If I’m following in your footsteps, I must be on the right path. *winks*

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

There are no hard or fast rules.

Only Sith deal in absolutes.

(which, in itself, is an absolute and proves the absurdity of the Jedi—, you know what, nevermind).

Honestly, I don’t have a hard and fast rule I adhere to. What works for one project might not work for another. So, I guess it’s to be flexible, but if that’s your hard and fast rule, then you fall into Obi-Wan’s logic trap from above. Dammit!

Writing is hard.

So true! I have to admit that I kept waiting for the ‘balance to the force’ be by someone who balances passion and logic. Grey force users that have conquered the Jedi AND the Sith paths… and I digress.

I’ve heard so many writers share that what worked for the last novel, was completely the wrong way to go about things for the next novel. Being flexible and remembering that the process exists to help you get your work done, not the other way around, seems key on any project — writing or not.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

A Twist In Time

Dickens Meets Steampunk.

2 feminine characters, one with short hair and goggles, one with long hair and goggles on her had, and a male character in front with a yellow vest. And maybe glasses, not goggles on his head.

Title: A Twist In Time

Foundlings are disappearing from the workhouse where Oliver Twist once begged for a second bowl of gruel. He sets out to save them, with help from tinkerer, Nell Trent, and a slew of fantastical contraptions – including a mysterious pocket watch that allows its bearer to bend the rules of time.

With Oliver’s childhood nemesis, the Artful Dodger, and her lethal bag of tricks dogging their steps, he discovers that there is more at stake than his own life and the missing orphans.

Can he save London from the flames?

A Twist in Time is available on Kindle Unlimited, paperback, and Audible!

Check Brent A Harris out across the web!

Website| Amazon | Facebook | Twitter |

Author Spotlight: Jacalyn Boggs

  • a free-spirited woman always looking for new adventures. And a writer who just can’t keep the fantasy out of her romances, or is it that she can’t keep the romance out of her fantasy novels?

Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to Jacalyn Boggs!

Jacalyn has too many hobbies, not enough time, and a dog that doesn’t understand her need to constantly be on the move.

She has traveled the world, hopes to travel more, and believes laughter is the best medicine.

Jacalyn, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

If I could have any pet in the world, it would probably be either an alicorn or a dragon.  They both flight and they both have ways of dealing with people who bother you. In real life, I have a lovable chihuahua who is absolutely convinced the world revolves around him and his cuteness.  I’m not really a dog person, but I love him like he’s my third son. 

Ooh! Fierce flying creatures are an excellent choice. And the world does revolve around dogs, so… your chihuahua isn’t wrong.

What do you write and how did you get started?

I like to tell people that I’m a science-fiction and fantasy author, but I have come to accept that I am really a romance author and that’s OK.  Honestly, I don’t know how because the latter is definitely more my forte, but these naughty characters say that they just want true love. So I primarily blend the two together, after all every story has some romance in it!

The first thing I ever really wrote was fan fiction (though there was no such name at the time that I knew about) of “The Happy Hollisters”.  I felt like the Hollister kids needed more science-fiction in their life so I wrote a short story called “The Happy Hollisters Meet Bad Luck Alien.”  I think I was in third or fourth grade. I honestly haven’t stopped writing since, though most of that early stuff is utter rubbish and/or been lost to the annals of time. 

Fanfic is a popular way to get started, despite the occasionally spotted stigma. And I do enjoy some fantasy (or at least urban fantasy) in my romance, so I’m your target audience. As the market for your subgenre is huge, ignore the naysayers and embrace it!

What do you like to read?


It’s probably safer to say what I don’t read.

I don’t read erotica.  I don’t have a problem with people who do, and some of the people closest to me write erotica. I just don’t personally consider sex a spectator sport.  Some things are meant to be enjoyed, not read about, and sex is one of those things. Hope that’s not too racy for your blog.

I’m also a fan of fade-to-black, myself. But, that’s a small category to exclude, leaving multitudes of books and genres to enjoy. They say being widely-read is always a good thing for writers, so keep at it!

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.


I despise outlines.  Somewhere in Hell they make you outline for eternity.  I’m pretty sure the crime must be really bad because outline is awful.  I’m a pants-er all the way.  When I have outlined, it’s never ended well.  I studied journalism and I’ll full on admit now that I’m no longer in classes that I’d write my articles and papers and then build the outline and claim I did the outline first.  Not even kidding. 

Wow. I’m sorry that outlines don’t work for you. For me? I’m a plantser for life. I write very high-level, not-detailed outlines that I proceed to ignore unless I get stuck. Luckily, this is writing, where, as long as we write well enough, we can ignore any advice that doesn’t work for us.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

People watch.

Hmm, that’s a good question.  I’m going to say it’s “people watch”.

I have most definitely put people I’ve met in to my writing. It may only be a chance meeting as I watched an interaction from across a food court to something someone once told me that I tweak to make my own. 

Just know, nothing is off the record and so if I witness it and it is interesting, it’s probably going on in a book. 

You cannot stop me. 

Truth is most definitely stranger than fiction.

I’ve seen some lovely prose come out of people watching. The only problem is… novels have to be believable while sometimes reality stretches the bounds of understanding.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

Jacalyn’s debut novel: Juan of the Dead: The Reanimated World Tour Book 1 was released May 1.

Juan of the Dead (The Reanimated World Tour Book 1) by [Jacalyn Boggs]

Go on a cruise, they said. Learn about other cultures, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

Yeah, I thought my birthday cruise would be all sexy pool boys with fruity drinks and me working on my epic summer tan. Instead, I sacrificed my favorite Jimmy Choos and my gorgeous Coach handbag to some awful earthquake while shopping in a crappy Mexican port. That place is getting zero stars.

Oh yeah, and I sacrificed my life. Lucky for me this totally hunky (but nerdy) anthropologist, Jon, hauled my hot corpse in to the nearby ancient Mayan or whatever temple and performed some sort of creepy voodoo ritual on me.

Forget all the garbage from Hollywood about shuffling, brain-obsessed, homicidal corpses. Maybe that’s how it was in the 70’s but those misguided souls also thought polyester was a good fashion statement. What the movies got right is that someone always wants to kill off the undead, and I’m no different. I’m too young and too hot to leave the party this soon. I’ve got a second chance, but Jon and I need to know what’s going on with my post-life situation before someone finishes me off for good.

Check Jacalyn Boggs out across the web!

Website| Amazon | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Youtube | Twitch

Author Spotlight: Terry Marchion

  • writer and graphics designer for embroidery and screen printing

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Terry Marchion !

Tan caucasian man in white button down shirt, with a big smile than white hair. In front of a window overlooking trees.

Terry Marchion is the author of The Adventures of Tremain & Christopher, a Young Adult Sci-fi adventure series.  His inspiration for the series came from the old serials he used to watch as a kid with his grandfather, as well as the many sci-fi series he watched as a teen.  When not writing, thinking about writing, or procrastinating about writing, Terry passes his days as the graphics department for a small-ish embroidery/screenprinting shop.  While fascinating, Terry doesn’t believe anyone would read a murder/mystery set in an embroidery shop.

Terry was born in New York, lived for a time in Montana, and now calls the Pacific Northwest home, where he can find (usually) any kind of food he wants at any given moment, and can be in the middle of nowhere within an hour of driving.  And yes, he is indeed addicted to coffee.

Terry, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

We had many different pets growing up – in the middle of Staten Island, they didn’t usually last long.  But as an adult, I’ve totally become a dog person.  We had a loveable black lab for 14 years who my girls grew up with.  My daughter missed having a puppy in the house so much after he passed that she adopted a golden retriever about 18 months ago.  She’s adorable and loves to snuggle… same goes for the dog. 

Puppies are a classic for a reason. Glad you have a dog back at home.

What do you write and how did you get started?

At the moment, I write YA sci-fi adventures.

I’ve been writing/creating for as long as I can remember.  Even as a kid, I drew my own comic stories, writing them as I went along.  The first draft of what would become my first book, The Missing Yesterdays, was written when I was 18 years old.  It wasn’t good.  I set it aside, not knowing what to do with it, went to school, started my family, fell into my embroidery career, and never looked back.

Almost thirty years of doing the same thing is a good career, but I felt I needed to do more creatively.  I decided to pull out that old manuscript, with the white-out crumbling off the page, and re-work it with the benefit of a (cough) few (cough) years of experience behind me. With much re-writing, it became somewhat more than what it was and has become a great launching point into the world of Tremain & Christopher.

I’d always wanted to be a writer/author, but didn’t take it seriously until 2016 when I entered a twitter #pitch2pub event.  I pitched the idea of The Missing Yesterdays and received some interest from a small publisher, who then subsequently handed me my first rejection.  After that, I decided to self-publish.

I’ve since written five more books in the series and have had a fun time doing it. I have to admit, that very first draft at 18 was written on a Panasonic electric typewriter that I bought for $129 way back when.  That thing lasted me well into my late twenties.  Writing now using my laptop and Scrivener software is a far cry from the old typewriter days, but I waste a ton less paper.

I’m a huge fan of the YA sci-fi space. And that first rejection after someone finally expresses interest is always crushing. Congrats at not letting that hold you back! You’re an inspiration.

What do you like to read?

My reading tastes have changed so much throughout my life.  I used to exclusively read Sci-fi/Fantasy, but I’ve since enjoyed mysteries, police procedurals, and thrillers.  I still read all those genres, but I tend to lean more towards the thriller category these days.  My To-Be-Read pile has become a bookcase – but on those shelves is an eclectic mix of books that gives a good snapshot of all my interests. I’d be hard-pressed to give you one author that has impacted my writing, as they all do in one way or another.

I, too, find myself branching out from sff as I get older. And most of my readers have probably seen pictures of my bookcase-to-read-pile. Clearly, all the best writers have them.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Write every day.

I’ve tried and tried, but I can’t write every day.  I have a difficult time putting my tush in the seat and crafting words on a regular basis.  That being said, I’m always mulling things over in my head, which is a noisy place at the best of times.  When I do sit down to write, I can usually get a good bit done, but getting to that point is sometimes quite difficult.

Indeed! I’ve ‘won’ NaNoWriMo several times, but I am burnt out after the effort. I find writing when I have a block of time is easier. Although, note to beginner writers: this doesn’t mean to only write when you’re feeling inspired. Inspiration will rarely get you to the end of your novel, you’ve got to slog through the hard parts, too.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

There is no one way to write.

I used to think that I had to follow the same writing habits as the ultra-successful authors out there, but I’ve since learned that everyone’s mind and creativity works differently, and mine is not unique.  I tend to create non-linearly, as that’s how my mind works.  Scrivener has helped me keep organized even when my mind isn’t.

Indeed! I definitely live by this one, as well. And? I heard a tip from some writers — just because you found what worked for you on the LAST novel, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you this time. Even your own process can evolve.

I’m glad that Scrivener works for you! I write pretty linearly and am a bit of an interface snob. I just couldn’t get into Scrivener, but I know many, many writers who swear by it.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

Note: The books may be in a series, but each one is written as a stand-alone story – anyone can jump right in and not miss a beat.

The Rogue Code – book 5 in The Adventures of Tremain & Christopher

Cover of the book. Blue with animal symbols around a circle. Overlaid is the solid black shape of a teen. and a solid plack shape of a man in maybe a suite, standing in another circle surrounded by symbols.

The future of New Earth is in peril.  During the Colony Days celebration on New Earth, after a massive failure of the autonomous vehicle system, Tremain and Christopher attend a talk given by secretive technology maven Lyda Stryker. Rather surprisingly, she claims technology is the cause of society’s ills. Tremain, ever the scientist, disagrees rather wholeheartedly. Technology continues to fail at an alarming rate. Christopher finds he and his friends are the only ones in the path of what Stryker has unleashed. Can they stop the Rogue Code before it’s too late?

Check Terry Marchion out across the web!

Website| Amazon | Facebook | Instagram

Author Spotlight: David Sherman

  • a long-time writer, (mostly of military science fiction), retired marine, and lover of dogs

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to David Sherman!

David Sherman is the author or co-author of some three dozen books, most of which are about Marines in combat.

He has written about US Marines in Vietnam (the Night Fighters series and three other novels), and the DemonTech series about Marines in a fantasy world. The 18th Race trilogy is military science fiction.

Other than military, he wrote a non-conventional vampire novel, The Hunt, and a mystery, Dead Man’s Chest. He has also released a collection of short fiction and non-fiction from early in his writing career, Sherman’s Shorts; the Beginnings.

With Dan Cragg he wrote the popular Starfist series and its spin off series, Starfist: Force Recon—all about Marines in the Twenty-fifth Century.; and a Star Wars novel, Jedi Trial.
His books have been translated into Czech, Polish, German, and Japanese.

After going to war as a U.S. Marine infantryman, and spending decades writing about young men at war, he’s burnt out on the subject and has finally come home. Today he’s writing short fiction, mostly steampunk and farcical fantastic Westerns.

He lives in sunny South Florida, where he doesn’t have to worry about hypothermia or snow-shoveling-induced heart attacks. He invites readers to visit his website,

David, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

I like dogs. Modern humans and dogs have pretty much evolved together–we’ve been eating out of the same pot for a long time. Dogs are smart, quick learners. But they barely have the longevity of a human adolescent. How much more could they learn if they had the life expectancy of, say, the horse? Good people, dogs.

So true. You always know where you stand with a dog, and as long as you feed them and don’t mistreat you, they think you hung with world. It would probably better for the world if dogs lived to 75 and humans to 15.

What do you write and how did you get started?

I’ll take that in the opposite order.

My alma mater is the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where I studied painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Later, after working professionally as a sculptor, I had to stop for a time, and learned to my horror the truth that the brain-hand-eye coordination of the visual arts is a perishable skill. It’s very much a case of use-it-or-lose-it. When I was able to get back to sculpture I worked at it for a year before I had to admit that I was never going to get back to where I had been much less go beyond.

So what do I do with the rest of my life?

Well, I could buckle down to a nice little middle class job, find myself a nice little middle class wife, buy a nice little middle class house in a nice little middle class suburb, and I’d rather die.

So I considered my options. “Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach critique.” Eh, neither of those choices appealed to me. Then I remembered my childhood. When I’d sit around with other boys, as boys do, and make up stories, the other boys liked my stories best. Then in high school I took advantage of every opportunity to do “creative” writing. That part of English, and art class were my favorite subjects. For the rest, I wasn’t a good student. I decided to give writing a shot.

I had an Olivetti portable typewriter, but that wasn’t going to do the job for me. I was a lousy typist and rotten speller. I needed a computer. I did my research and bought a K-Pro 2. C/PM, 2 single sided 5.25″ floppy disks, 64 K of memory, primitive spelling checker, and started banging away. Over the first several months I tried my hand at poetry, memoir, science fiction, general fiction, opinion. Whatever tickled my fancy. Then I wrote a novel. Then I wrote a second novel. Then I wrote a third novel.

As soon as I finished the first one I started querying publishers. Most politely said no.

Finally, Owen Lock at Del Rey liked my first novel. I had reluctantly, after all he edited SF and my novels were Vietnam War, queried him at the urging of two of my friends who’d had professional relations with him. He wound up buying my second and third novels. Later, Lock asked Dan Cragg and me to write a military SF series from the point of the enlisted men who do the actual fighting. Dan and I jumped on it and co-authored what became a 14 book series, Starfist–17 books if you count our Starfist: Force Recon books.

Wow! I never realized sculpture was such a demanding artform. So good for you — and your readers — that you found your way to sf. 17 books in one series? You’ve been with that world and those characters for a long time. I wonder if you know them better than people who exist… then again, most writers know their characters pretty well.

What do you like to read?

I read mostly science fiction until I started writing. Early in my career I read mostly military fiction and non-fiction, specializing on Marine Corps and Vietnam. Later, I returned to SF and fantasy. Today I read mostly urban fantasy, some SF, and some mystery. I don’t think you can get any better than Jim Butcher’s Dresden files, though Domino Finn is giving him a run for his money. And Simon R. Green covers all the bases.

What an excellent selection of authors you just named. You have excellent taste in books.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Keep your characters to a minimum,.

The accepted wisdom in short fiction is, keep your characters to a minimum. Uh-huh. My first published short story had 22 named characters, nearly all of whom spoke. Generally, though, I do manage to limit my cast to no more than a dozen.

Wow! I feel a bit less bad about my novel with it’s thirty-five or so named characters. I think when you’re writing a military group, that’s supposed to be a set size, it’s hard not to end up with at least twenty-five named characters…

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

There are as many ways to write as there are writing

When I started I read a lot about the art and craft of writing and story telling. The one that I found the most valuable was Lawrence Block’s Writing the Novel From Plot to Print. After all these years it’s still out there. The main lesson it taught me was; there’s no one way to write, there are about as many ways as there are people writing.

Definitely advice you’ll hear me parrot a lot. 🙂 Every “do” in writing can be thrown away if it doesn’t work for you, and every “do not” in writing can be ignored if you do it well enough.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

David’s 3 book 18 Race series is currently KICKSTARTING the final book, but it kicked off with Issue In Doubt:

We are not alone!

In exploring and colonizing the galaxy, humanity discovers evidence of eighteen sentient species. Seventeen of them had not developed interstellar travel. Those were destroyed by the species that did reach the stars. That space-faring eighteenth decimated the human colony on the Semi-Autonomous World Troy.

A Marine Force Recon platoon sent to investigate is wiped out almost to the last man. In reaction, the North American Union assembles the largest army seen since the major wars of the 20th Century.

A Marine Corps Combat Force is sent to “Kick in the door,” backed up by a four-divison Army corps to take the planet back. The initial landing is unopposed. It isn’t until the fleet carrying the Army corps is approaching Troy that the enemy strikes, with devastating effect.

The story continues in book two: In All Directions

The men of 1st Marine Combat Force are in a life-and-death struggle with the Dusters, bird-like aliens who launched a surprise attack on Troy, and vanished the entire Human population. When Corporal John Mackie and his squad from India Company aren’t fighting off “human wave” attack after “human wave” attack, they are aggressively patrolling in search of the Dusters, intending to meet and destroy them in their own bases.

In space, the remnants of Amphibious Group 17 rescue soldiers and sailors from wounded Navy starships. They begin feeding small, reassembled units to the surface of Troy. As they make planetfall, the soldiers have their first contact with the Dusters even before they reach their target firebase. Soon after, they are engaged in the same kinds of defensive and offensive operations as the Marines.

On Earth, the president of the North American Union orders the formation of a field army to be dispatched to Troy to aid the badly outnumbered Marines and soldiers, but have they any hope of arriving in time?

Things seem grim for Troy and its defenders as a new Duster fleet arrives and attacks the remaining warships of Task Force 8, in orbit before landing a huge invasion army meant to defeat the Human forces.

Plus — I currently have a KICKSTARTER.

The 3rd and final book in my 18th Race trilogy has been finished by Keith DeCandido, who took it up when I crashed and burned.

As of today? We’re $98 shy of the third stretch goal!

The dual crowdfund for TO HELL AND REGROUP by me & Keith DeCandido and Christopher Bennett‘s ARACHNE’S CRIME has reached its first two stretch goals, and we’re very close to the third. Right now, everyone who pledges $5 or more also gets short stories by Keith and Christopher, and when we hit $2000, they’ll also get a free story by John French!

Please consider supporting these two new science fiction novels, one concluding a series (My “18th Race” military SF trilogy), the other starting one (Christopher’s is the first of a planned duology).

Currently, I’m finishing up the final story for a collection of my steampunk stories–set in the American West, featuring gambling man Cheyenne Walker and Pinkerton agent extraordinaire Miss Kitty Belle. I’m particularly fond of my DemonTech series: three novels, one novella, and a few short stories in eSpec Books anthologies.

Check David Sherman out across the web!

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