Author Interview with Sherry D. Ramsey

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I am thrilled that my next author interview is with my friend and best selling author Sherry D. Ramsey! I have reviewed some of her books in the past and will be again soon enough. Right now I am reading her collection of short stories, The Apprentice Files. 

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Sci-fi and fantasy author Sherry D. Ramsey.

Me: Hey Sherry! Thanks so much for stopping by! So let’s get to it! For anyone who hasn’t read your Nearspace series, what can you tell us about it?

SD: Well, the series is set about 250 years in the future, and in that future we’ve expanded through space through the use of wormhole travel. So there’s lots of spaceships and aliens and other worlds. 🙂 But it’s also about a woman, Luta, who is in her 80’s, but hasn’t aged physically past about 30, and she doesn’t know why. This non-aging has a profound affect on her relationships, and she’d like to understand it and what it means. She thinks it might have something to do with her mother, who was a genetic researcher, but disappeared when Luta was around 14. There’s also the corporation her mother worked for, who thinks they might have a proprietary interest in whatever’s making Luta the way she is. The series starts in One’s Aspect to the Sun with Luta’s search for answers, and different story threads carry on to other books in the series.

Me: I have loved these books and I plan to get book three soon! One’s Aspect to the Sun recently hit the bestseller list! How exciting is that!?

SD: It was pretty exciting! I have a lot of screenshots saved to my computer as it rose up the charts! And I’ve had some really lovely new reviews of both that book and the series lately. They are always nice to see because it means someone genuinely enjoyed the story.

Me: I would have screenshots too! 🙂 That’s awesome, I am really happy for you! Your third book in the Nearspace series, Beyond the Sentinel Stars, came out late last year. Do you plan to go beyond book 3? Or keep it as a trilogy?

SD: I’m actually working on a fourth book in the series right now. I do try to keep them standalone to some extent–no real cliffhangers–but people who like series will also enjoy a sense of continuity throughout the books, I think. This one takes place about a year after the end of Sentinel Stars.

Me: Oh that is awesome! *writes down another book on the To Read list*  So I am curious, which character has been your favorite to write? Why?

SD: Ooh, that’s a really tough one. If we’re moving outside the Nearspace books, there are two characters who were just super fun to write. One was a talking cat in The Seventh Crow, because she gained the ability to talk by accident and really didn’t want it. She has a very prickly and sarcastic voice and she doesn’t have much patience with humans. The other, coincidentally, is also a talking animal, a goose from The Murder Prophet. He’s fun because he also has a very distinct personality, kind of goofy and easily excitable. It’s interesting to channel him and try to stay true to his character. He plays a large role in the next book in that series, which I’m working on concurrently with a few other projects, so it’s fun to see him grow and change but still keep those essential personality traits.

Me: Those characters were funny! You have a way with talking animals 😉 What does your writing area look like?

SD: I’m very lucky to have my own office at home. It’s not terribly large, but it holds a sitting desk and a treadmill desk, and a lot of books and plants. A lot of artwork on the walls and too much paper in general! Probably also too many bits and bobs and little writing talismans. I guess it reflects my mind–usually too cluttered up with too many things! But it’s my own sanctuary and I really appreciate having it. There’s one extra chair for someone to visit me and also a door I can close. Both very important!

Me: Yes both are important. It’s great when you can have your own little writing sanctuary. You have both novels and short stories published. Which do you prefer to write?

SD: That’s also a tough question. I like the compactness and focus of short stories, and of course the lesser demand on writing time to finish one. But I find it difficult to write very short pieces–my stories only rarely come in under five thousand words or so. Novels allow for much greater exploration of ideas and complexity, and character development over time, so they’re great to stretch those creative muscles. I’m starting to think my very favorite length to write is novelette/novella. You can get a little more complex than in a short story, but still write them fairly quickly. Sadly, there’s a much smaller market in traditional publishing for those lengths.

Me: Seems I have a knack for asking the hard questions. 😉  You write sci-fi and fantasy. Which one is your favorite to write?

SD: Lately I lean more toward sci-fi and urban fantasy than other flavours of fantasy. I’ll write in any of the speculative genres if I get an idea that fits, though. Even horror, occasionally.

Me: If you were going to be stranded on an island, which 3 books would you want to have with you?

SD: Well, these days I’d just have my ereader, loaded up with enough to keep me going for a long time! But to choose three…difficult. And I could give you a different answer tomorrow. But today I’d choose To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Hopefully I won’t be stranded for too long…

Me: I know, it isn’t easy for book nerds to choose their three fave books. Mine would also change on a daily basis. I know you are a creative person. What sorts of creative projects do you do when you aren’t writing?

SD: I like fiber arts, like knitting and crochet, as well as machine embroidery and sewing. In the past I’ve made wire and bead jewelry, although I haven’t done much with that lately. I can’t wait for spring to get out in my garden, which might not strike some as creative, but I think it is. And I mess around with various forms of art, on and off the computer. My approach to creative or crafty things is basically that I’ll give anything a try. 🙂

Me: Can you tell us a little something about what are you working on right now?

SD: I’ve just finished up a new novelette in my Olympia Investigations series (urban fantasy) called “Dead Hungry,” which will release on the 15th of April. I’m juggling the fourth Nearspace book, a paranormal romance (a genre I haven’t written before), another urban fantasy novel and a couple of short stories. That sounds like too much, I know. But that seems to be how I work!

Thanks so much again for stopping by for a chat! You are welcome to pop by anytime!

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Sherry D. Ramsey is a speculative fiction writer, editor, publisher, creativity addict and self-confessed internet geek. When she’s not writing, she makes jewelry, gardens, hones her creative procrastination skills on social media, and consumes far more coffee and chocolate than is likely good for her.

Her books include the middle-grade fantasy, The Seventh Crow; three books in the Nearspace series, One’s Aspect to the Sun, Dark Beneath the Moon, and Beyond the Sentinel Stars; the urban fantasy/mystery The Murder Prophet; and two short story collections. With her partners at Third Person Press she has co-edited six anthologies of regional short fiction and a first novel. Every November she disappears into the strange realm of National Novel Writing Month and emerges gasping at the end, clutching something resembling a novel.

A member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia Writer’s Council, Sherry is also a past Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer of SF Canada, Canada’s national association for Speculative Fiction Professionals.

You can visit Sherry online at www.sherrydramsey.com to find free stories and more,  connect on Facebook  and keep up with her much more pithy musings and glimpses into her life on Twitter and Instagram @sdramsey.

 

 

 

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How To Have Fun at Comic Con When You’re Broke

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If it is one place geeks love to be at, it’s a comic con. It is one of the very places when I am surrounded by people who get my passion for Star Wars or collecting Pop figures.

I went to Toronto Comic Con last weekend with my hubby. He timed my visit so that we could hit the convention together. I was super excited to go. In the weeks leading up to it  I was planning my fun on a limited budget. A lot of people were asking me about conventions and the cost of them. While I have gone to them and spent a lot of money, you don’t need a ton of cash to go to one.

I won’t go into to much about travel and tickets, but I will say this: If you are heading out of town for a con, there are a few ways to save cash. If you are staying at a hotel, check to see which hotels have a deal running with the convention. Hal-con usually has one with Delta, so we stay there. Also, if you can’t afford a three day pass or VIP, so what? Pick a day best for you and get a day ticket. (I suggest Saturday. It’s the busiest day but will have the most going on).

Celebs: Meeting actors is one of my favorite things to do. In Toronto, I didn’t have much cash to work with. So, I made a list of who I wanted to meet. Manu Bennett was my main priority. My husband met a bunch, so I tagged along with him. If you want to meet a celeb but have no cash, wait til their line up is empty or close to it. You’re allowed to go say hello to them. Just check with the volunteer running the line.

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Me and Manu. He was super sweet. I hate how I look here but who cares, I’m with Manu! 😉 

Celebs: Part 2 During the weekend, there are Q&A’s happening with the actors and sometimes with authors. These are FREE! Check the schedule for when these are happening. They are super fun and you can get a chance to ask a question. The best q&a I ever went to was John Rhys Davies. He was entertaining the entire time and even went full Gimli when asked a Lord of the Rings question.

*Note: There are some big cons that charge for certain q&a’s, which in my opinion is stupid. This is rare though. The few I seen that you needed a ticket was a Doctor Who event as well as a duo q&a with William Shatner and Patrick Stewart.

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Me and Mr. C with ‘Hodor’! I tagged along with hubby to meet him. He was so cool and chatty! Loved him!

Authors: They don’t charge to meet them. So if you are a book nerd, go say hi, maybe buy a book and get some swag. Many have free bookmarks and such to give out.

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Author Sherry D. Ramsey at Caper Con a couple years ago. I am interviewing her soon!

Shopping: The downfall of  nerds. So much geekery, so little money! The bigger the con, the more vendors and artists there selling their wares. I *try* to roam around a bit first before I shopp. If I see something a vendor, artist or author is selling and I have no cash, I always ask for a business card. That way when I have money for fun stuff, I can order from them. I should add, that on the last day of a convention some sellers will have sales. So you might be able to score some good loot at a cheaper price.

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I love business cards. This is some of my geeky ones. 

Cosplay: While I don’t normally dress up, I love checking out costumes, taking photos and talking to cosplayers. It all adds to the fun when half the crowd is dressed up. Sometimes certain groups dress up, like the Steampunk Society and the 501st Legion. If you like a costume, ask the person for a pic or get one with them. Just remember to be respectful!

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Me hanging out with the dark side. 😉

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Kick ass white walker costume.

Panels: There are often various panels running during the weekend. I have gone to writing themed panels, author talks, debates, and other fun things. These are all FREE. If you go to a craft session, you might need to pay a small fee for materials. I went to a plushie making panel once. It was only $5 to go.

Con Food: I can’t stress this enough: TAKE WATER WITH YOU! At least one bottle. Not only is it cheaper, but lines can be long. And you will get thirsty. On day one of Toronto Comic con, I ignored my own advice. Tsk tsk. We ended up paying six bucks for two small waters. Also, carry a bag or backpack and take some snacks. Eating at a con can get pricey. We ate their once this time, and paid $20 for just two hot dogs and two cans of pop. Usually the best deal is a piece of pizza and pop.

The main thing is to have fun when you go. Sometimes you find something priceless, like a new best friend.

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Me and Laura. Met her in 2013 in line for Dean Cain. Instant friends. Love this lady ❤ I see her every time I am in Toronto for a con. 

I’m sure I missed a tidbit or two. How do you save money at comic con? What are your favorite things to do?

 

Something for Short Story Lovers

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I have been working on a short story for an anthology my writers group that my writers group is putting together. While brainstorming last night, I realized I never really touched base on my work and the anthologies I am in. (Yes, there is a little self promotion going on here too, haha).

When I was a kid, I didn’t think that having my very own story in print would happen. When three of my writing friends started Third Person Press, I worked my butt off and crossed my fingers that I would get a letter saying they liked and wanted my story.

They did!

Undercurrents Front Cover

From Third Person Press website:

A Cape Breton Anthology of Speculative Fiction (The Speculative Elements, Vol. 1)
The fourteen stories in Undercurrents ply the literary oceans of time and space, possibility and imagination. And while you may find familiar themes in these pages-love, change, greed, spirituality-you will discover that they take on a new perspective when viewed through the lens of the speculative. Inside are stories that ripple and swell with the unusual: fiddle-playing ghosts, malevolent cats, urbane vampires, and ordinary folks who have drifted into the realms of the extraordinary. Set your oars in these unusual waters and see for yourself what swirls in the undercurrents.

The urban vampires? That’s me. 😉

What I love about anthologies, are that short stories are a quick read. Also, while you may not enjoy every story, you are bound to love and like most of the book.

Third Person Press went on to publish a total of four stories in the Elements collection. (There is also Airborne, Unearthed and Flashpoint). I was lucky enough to be accepted into the rest of the books. My stories are all set in the same world, with new supernatural creatures and problems being added in the mix. I love writing the Lily and Quinn series, and have no plans to stop writing with them. (I will talk about them more in a future post).

I am pretty proud of what I have accomplished so far. When I re-read my stories, I can see where I grew as a writer, as each one went on.

They have also published a couple of other anthologies, one being Christmas themed and the other is ghost stories. And last year they published ‘Rise of the Mudmen’ by James FW Thompson. I have that on my book pile and plan to read that soon! 🙂

If you are interested adding to your short story collection, you can check out Third Person Press site and see what would be up your alley!

 

 

 

 

Why Every Writer Needs A Writers Group

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No matter if it is an online group or an in-person meeting, being in a writers group can help you out a lot. Joining my group was one of the best things I have ever done. I joined The Story Forge about fifteen years ago.

My group is laid back. We get that life happens and you can’t make it to every meeting or that you can’t get so many chapters written. There are also groups out there with more structure.

A Mixed Bag.  Our group has everyone from those who write for fun and for themselves, as well as published authors who are busy in the writing community. (Writers in schools programs, signings, readings etc…) We bounce around ideas and talk about various topics. We all also have different genres that interest us, from poetry to sci-fi and mainstream. Everyone has something to offer.

Support and Encouragement. I have left more than one meeting feeling inspired and ready to concur my current writing project. And on days I have felt like I want to give up, my friends help me realize that I am being crazy. If one of us is in the middle of something big or crazy, like NaNoWrimo, we encourage each other to keep going. Not every one in our daily life understands what a writer is feeling, but your writing friends always do and are there to back you up or give you a kick in the pants if needed.

You Learn A lot. My writing and editing skills have improved immensely since I started going to The Story Forge.  I also feel more confident when I critique someones work. While I am far from perfect, I enjoy helping others and feel I can help.

Brainstorming. Stuck with a plot? Need advice on a topic? Or maybe you are unsure if killing a character will help or hinder your story? Ask your writing buddies. They will give you feedback that you can mull over and help you figure out where to go next. Sometimes more brains are better than one.

Feedback. Finished a piece and need a second pair of eyes? Odds are someone will offer to read your work for you. The great thing about this is that they may see something you missed. When you read your own work umpteen times, you are going to miss the little things, or a problem you didn’t realized you had.

A Night Out. Writers tend to be solitary. Not always, but I am one of them. When I am not at work or out with friends, my favorite night in is curled up with hubby watching tv or with a book. It’s good to get out and talk with people who share your interests.

 

Where to find a group: Check your local library and ask a librarian. That’s how I learned about The Story Forge. You can also find them online like on Facebook. I belong to online groups as well, but meeting up in person gets you out of the house for an evening out, and you can make real life friends you can meet up with in between times. One of my friends is coming over tomorrow, for a coffee and a mini writing session. When all else fails, start your own! Put up a flyer at a local library or start your own online group.

How I have changed and benefited since joining my group: I have been published four times. (Soon to be a fifth…our group is putting an anthology together and the money made will go to our local library.) I have learned a lot about writing and improved so much. I have made some great friends; one of which was my matron of honor. I have become more confident and learned how to turn my inner critic off.

That’s just my take on it. I love my group so much and think every writer can benefit from having one.

Do you belong to a group? What is your favorite thing about it?

 

Author Autograph Success!!!!

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I have been writing fan mail to actors for at least a year and a half now. And I have gotten some great replies. Once in a while Mr. C is able to find an address for one of my favorite authors.

When we first started printing off photos to send, he started making custom cards. One of these was sent to author Jodi Picoult and I was stoked to get that back signed by her.

Today I went to the mailbox, and there was an envelope for me. I knew it was an auto since it was one of the SASE* I included in a letter, but I had no idea who. I could tell it was an older one. One of the first letters I had written.

I was a very happy chick when I opened it.

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Charlaine Harris!

I got hooked on the Sookie Stackhouse books years and years ago. WAY before True Blood ever hit the small screen. I was hooked on them and ate up every book that was out. When I got caught up, I kept an eye out for release dates. I would buy the hardcover, because I was way too impatient to wait until it was printed in soft cover.

So when we started writing fan mail, she was one on my list. I love her novels and I had to write her. So I was thrilled today to get this. It took 418 days to get here. It was worth the wait!!! 🙂

Writer Gears Are Rusty But They Are Turning

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With October around the corner, there’s a lot on my mind. I love fall and all that comes with it. And usually part of that is prepping for NaNoWriMo.

Until yesterday, I didn’t even know if I was going to do it or not. None of my recent ideas or projects I wanted to start interested me. With the wedding officially less then a year, I have a lot to do and get done for it. I feel stressed, and NaNo is for sure an added stress and time bandit.

I was at work, cleaning up and the like when all of a sudden an idea hit me. Something fun. Something I think I can get really creative with. And it excited me!

I haven’t written a heck of a lot this year. I’ve had personal issues and a lot has been put on the back burner. It made me sad that my ‘writer brain’ was sitting, getting rusty, and I wondered if I would ever use it again.

Right away I scribbled a few notes down before my next client came in. I don’t have a whole lot planned out, not even a full skeleton. But I have something to start with. A basic idea and two characters. That’s enough for me to get into my novel prep!

Over the next few days and over the coarse of October, I will build and create my main characters, and do some world building. I will work on character sketches, create a story board on Pinterest, a ‘Novel Bible’, and do a lot of brainstorming.

So, fellow writers, have you decided if you are taking part in NaNoWriMo? If so, do you have an inkling as to what you’re writing about, or still in “maybe I will just wing it” mode? Do tell! 🙂

Your Input Wanted!

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Recently I did an interview with my friend Cruellatrix. Before I conducted the interview, I did what anyone would do: brainstormed. And, I reached out to some geeky friends of mine on Facebook, to see what they would ask. Some of their question were the same as mine, some I didn’t use (simply for the fact she would have had a list of thirty questions if I didn’t cut it off!), and others I added to my ever growing list.

I will be doing an interview again in the future. This time with a pretty fab author!! I have already started brainstorming. And this is where YOU come in. This time I wanted to reach out to all of you lovely people! 🙂

If you could an author anything, what would it be?

Your question(s) just may end up on in my official interview! 🙂