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Indie Author’s 20 Questions: Mike Cooley


This week I have a fun guest! He’s a writer and a musician and a some times comedian. And is fun to have around in the IWU group! So without making you wait any longer I give you Mike Cooley!


1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Well my real name is Mike. I have a lot of other names too. Some I write under and some I do music under. Online a lot of people know me as “Z” of Gotham Steel (metal band). Recently I have started to concentrate more on my fiction writing than on my music. I’m a very driven person. I keep very busy. I’m not good at  single-tasking. I have a sarcastic sense of humor.

2.) How long have you been writing?

I think it all started in grade school. I had a choice between taking Speech Class and taking Creative Writing. I hated Speech, so I signed up for Creative Writing and thus began writing stories. I don’t think I’ve really ever stopped since. At that time I was also reading every single science fiction and fantasy book in the library (I was also in Reading Class).

3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?

I love reading many genres, but some of my favorites are science fiction and fantasy. I love near future, dystopian, time-travel, parallel reality, lovecraftian horror, paranormal and swords and sorcery stories.

I also write in many genres. I consider myself a science fiction short-story writer primarily (I think those sorts of stories are my strength), but–and this surprised me as well–my first novel ended up being Epic Fantasy.

4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?

I already have four books out, in different genres, but my novel is called The Crystal Warrior.

It can be found on here on Amazon

And on Smashwords

5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less. 

Larissya is thrust into a life and death battle to save the World.

 6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?

To be honest I just started writing. The only thing I knew when I started was that there were going to be magic (I call them myrric) crystals, and that they would be painful and hazardous to use. I also knew that Larissya was going to get the first crystal on the first page, and that someone was going to die at the same time.

I get inspired by ideas and dreams and often see the beginnings of a story visually, in my head, before I write it. With the Crystal Warrior plot elements came to me as I wrote, but it is very much about the characters.

 7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?

Eight years. But actual writing time on it was more like 8 months. I took a break after the first 45,000 words to write 300 songs for a variety of rock bands. Then, last year I dusted it off, re-read it, got my act together, and finished it during NaNoWriMo.

8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?

I never outline short-stories, I just write. I used to be way more disorganized than I am now.
Now I use Scrivener, which helps me keep things more organized. I am working on the sequel
to The Crystal Warrior (it will probably be called Crystal Origin). As I go, I am writing chapter
outlines about 3 chapters ahead for each plot-line. And I also know the overall story-arc
(which I did not for the first book). Now that I have such a rich backstory book two is exicting
to write, and not nearly as hard as book one (where I was making everything up from scratch).

9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?

Staying focused. I often stop in the middle of a story to write another story. It used to stress me
out a lot. Now I just roll with it. As long as I am finishing stories I let myself work on many at
the same time.

10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?
 
When I am in the zone the words flow like water. Certain things people warn against I just don’t do naturally (Like expository lumps or really long chunks of dialog). I’ve read so much that I think writing fast-paced action-oriented and visual prose rubbed off on me. So I guess I would say that showing the world as the characters interact with it without stopping the story is something I’m good at.

 11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?

Well it’s far better, naturally!I think what sets my book apart is my style. No one else writes like me. I don’t try to write like anyone else. Not that I am necessarily better than other writers. But my vision is my own. And I am immersed in my story. I know SO MUCH about my World that is not in the book. The real story starts 500 years before the first page of my book. I think readers can sense my enjoyment of the story through the words.

12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?

My story is set on Agorai. Which is an Earthlike planet somewhere far away from here in space–and perhaps time. I chose that setting because I didn’t want to have anything that tied the story to Earth. I wanted freedom to make up the entire planet, including plants and animals.
13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?
 
I have a lot of main characters! There are 38 characters in the book (counting bit parts).
Let me tell you about a few of them.
 
Larissya is the hero. The Legend of The Crystals is about her. She gets the crystal of foreboding at the beginning of the story and is immediately running for her life.
 
Talos is an Onan swordsman. He has studied the legend and comes to Larissya’s aid to help her fulfill her destiny. He also develops a great love for her and would give his life for hers at any time.
 
Adan is a boy. He is a lot older than he looks. Something happened to him long ago that turned him evil.
 
Ishak is a large translucent worm. Inside he has a blue viscous fluid that is magical.

14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.

It’s a character-driven swords and sorcery tale. The legend is that a great warrior will gather the six crystals of power in order to save the World. Larissya is that warrior. All the crystals have a different power. And the magic is not without a price to pay. Trying to stop her is the Triad. They are evil and possess powers of their own. At its core, it’s about a quest. Larissya’s quest to grow up fast enough to save her friends even though she doesn’t believe in herself.

15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?

I want them to smile and cry. And I want them to keep thinking about the story after they are done
reading it.

16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?
 
There will be at least one more book after The Crystal Warrior. I’m working on it now. It should be done this year.
It’s possible I will also write a prequel or a book that will follow book two. It’s a BIG story and there’s a lot to tell.

17.) Where can readers find you?
 
Readers can find me on twitter @last_writes, on my blog: http://mikecooleyfiction.com , on
Amazon and on Smashwords.

18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.

I’m a musician in several one-man-bands. I love mountain biking in the woods. I’m married to a belly dancer with a degree in physics. I’ve been to Egypt. And I have an 11 year old son. (that’s 5 things…)

19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun. 

Much like the answers above, I like to read, play guitar, bike, and go to the cabin with the boy (for fishing and relaxation).

20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?

You can read the beginning online at Smashwords: Crystal Warrior book view

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Indie Author 20 Questions: Kevin Domenic


1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Well, my name is Kevin, and I grew up in New Jersey right down the road from Thomas Edison’s factory.  I enjoy video games, hockey, and just about any strawberry flavored candy.  I used to believe that Jack Nicholson was the only Joker, but Heath Ledger made a believer out of me.  I’ve never fired a gun, nor have I ever been late on my water bill.

Oh, and there’s a gnat flying around my desk here that’s just begging for a rolled up newspaper.  Too bad I haven’t actually seen a newspaper in years.

2.) How long have you been writing?

I guess it’s seventeen years, now.  I started writing just for the fun of it when I was fourteen.  It wasn’t until I was twenty-two that I decided I wanted to pursue a career as an author.  Then last year I was informed that Amazon.com had a free self-publishing service, so I decided to give it a try. 

3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?

I’m a huge fantasy fan.  Sci-fi is great too, but too often those books can get far too detailed about the schematics of their mythological technology.  That’s when I tune out. 

But I love going on medieval adventures.  Sword and sorcery are my favorite by far.  I love the hero who sets a good example, stands up for what’s right, and most importantly, wins the battle.  For me, I feel like those stories where the hero doesn’t win in the end are a slap in the face to the reader who stuck with him/her through the struggle and rooted for their victory.

I write mainly fantasy and sci-fi, though my sci-fi tends to lean more on the fantasy side of things.  I have strayed from those genres before, but they are my favorite.

4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?

The first volume of The Fourth Dimension is called Key to the Stars.  It can be found at:

Amazon: Key to the Stars (The Fourth Dimension, Volume I)

Smashwords: Key to the Stars

Barnes & Noble: Key to the Stars

Reader Store: Key to the Stars

5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.

Fantasy and sci-fi collide as a young swordsman finds himself pulled into an interstellar war.

6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?

A variety of places.  The strongest influences came from both Star Wars and the Final Fantasy video games series.  As for the story itself, I was actually inspired by the growing anti-hero movement in mainstream media.  TV shows, movies, and video games were beginning to feature protagonists who used immoral tactics to reach their goals.  I hated it, so when I sat down to write Key to the Stars, my main goal was to write a hero who fought for what was right and just for the mere reason that it was the right thing to do.

There was actually someone at the job I was working during that time period who fueled that fire.  I don’t know how, but I wound up talking with her about the Japanese anime Dragon Ball Z.  She told me that Goku was her little boy’s hero.  For those who may not know, Goku was the epitome of good.  Completely incorruptible, he’d give his life to save a rock if he felt it was for the greater good of the world.  I remember thinking that if such a noble character could still be a role model for kids, then maybe there was still hope for the hero.

That’s why my blog is called Searching for Heroes.

7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?

Several years from concept to publishing, but that includes a lot of downtime.  I was also going to school, working full time, and helping my mother care for my father who was sick with Alzheimer’s during that time period.  If I cut it down to just the time worked on the book itself, editing, and publication, I’d say a year or so.

8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?

Very rough outlining is done.  I’ll establish the main events that I want to occur and the overall theme I want to convey.  That’s about it.  From there, I’ll just sit down and let the writing find a way to connect it all together.

9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?

Scenery description.  I’ll rewrite description over and over again because it always sounds redundant or silly to me.

10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?

Dialogue.  I see my characters so vividly in my mind that just about any conversations just flow through my mind without much effort.  I love writing those scenes.

11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?

Two things.  First, I don’t like the story to stand still for too long.  You won’t find full chapters dedicated to history lessons about my fictional world nor will you find pages of descriptions detailing the shape, color, and size of every leaf of every tree.  If I say it’s summertime and the character is in the forest, I’ll let the reader’s imagination do the rest.  That’s partly because I don’t like writing descriptions and partly because I feel that too much detail is boring and takes away from the story being told.

The other thing that sets it apart is the narrative.  I like to write stories as though I’m telling the tale around a campfire.  Less formal, more personal.  The feedback I’ve gotten on this has been pretty good.  That leads me to believe it helps people connect more closely with the characters.

12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?

Honestly, the best answer I can give on that one is that my story is set in a mythological universe not unlike our own.  Most of Key to the Stars takes place on Terranias, which could be compared to a primitive Earth.  But the story doesn’t stay there. 

13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?

There are four main characters in Key to the Stars.  These are the four you see on the cover.

The first is Arus, a fourteen year old boy training as a swordsman under the tutelage of his master, Eaisan Lurei.  Arus’ father fought alongside Eaisan during the Vermillion War when Arus was younger, and now he strives to follow in his father’s footsteps. 

Vultrel is Arus’ best friend and Eaisan’s son.  He is his father’s best student and undefeated in his sparring sessions with Arus.  Though he claims himself to be confident, Eaisan often reminds him that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

Kitreena is a fifteen year old soldier, a young lady raised on the battlefield.  A far cry from the “damsel in distress,” Kitreena’s ability to handle herself has led to success during countless missions.  Though her eyes of ice have often inspired fear, there is a pain behind them that cries out for healing.

The last is Damien, a towering giant of a man from the distant planet of Zo’rhan.  Often quiet and reserved, Damien has dedicated his life to the defense and protection of any who request his services. 

14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.

Well, let’s see.  Arus and Vultrel are two youths haunted by the memories of a war that ravaged the kingdom when they were children.  The enemy, a band of sorcerers known only as the Vermillion Mages, retreated to the desert outside of the village of Keroko and have resided there ever since.  Fearing a possible return of the deadly invaders, Arus and Vultrel have dedicated their lives to following in the footsteps of their fathers by joining the militia when they are of age.  Until then, they continue to hone the skills passed onto them by Eaisan Lurei, hero of the Vermillion War and Vultrel’s father.

15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?

At the end of Volume III, I placed the following Biblical passage:  “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”  Hebrews 10:24

I want to inspire people to try to better themselves and love each other.  And I wanted to create a heroic role model for kids to look up to.  We have so few good wholesome role models these days.  The world needs more heroes.

16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?

There are two additional volumes currently available with more to be written going forward.  Don’t worry, though.  The three that are available right now can stand as one giant story, so readers need not be concerned that they might be left hanging until I can continue work on the series.

17.) Where can readers find you?

In an unpadded cell somewhere on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri. 

Oh, you meant like online!  Gotcha. — [Yes Kevin, I meant online! Such a goof :)]

I have three blogs that I run.

Searching for Heroes is my main author site.  You can find links to all my work, interviews with other authors, excerpts from my books, and more.  That can be found here:  kevindomenic.blogspot.com

Then there is Retail Ramblings.  It’s unrelated to The Fourth Dimension, but I have written a collection of funny stories about my years working for the retail monster.  It’s not updated as often as I’d like, but I do try to get new posts up every now and then.  It’s right here:  retail-ramblings.blogspot.com

Then I also made a separate blog just for news regarding The Fourth Dimension.  There are excerpts there, and anytime there is a special offer or sale going on, it will be announced there.  That’s at:  tfdworlds.blogspot.com

Then, of course, I’m on facebook, twitter, and goodreads.

18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.

A:  I hate bugs.  All kinds.  They creep me out. — [Ugh! Me too!]

B:  I love winter.  I love cold weather, I love snow, and I HATE to sweat.  When it’s cool, you can bundle up in a nice comfy blanket and get cozy by the fire (or in my case, an artificial fire brought to me by the good people at duraflame).  Oh, and there are no bugs during the winter.

C:  I do enjoy fan mail.  Not because it strokes my ego, but because it’s nice to know that something I created made a difference in someone else’s life.  It’s the most fulfilling feeling in the world.

19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.

When I’m not writing or spending time with my fiance, I’m usually either playing video games or watching TV.  I also enjoy video editing on my old iMac.  There’s actually a link to my Youtube channel on the right sidebar of Searching for Heroes.

20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?

The prologue to Key to the Stars is actually up at The Fourth Dimension’s blog.  Here’s a link:  Prologue

Thanks again for having me!  It was loads of fun! 🙂

Kevin

Kevin, I really enjoyed having you! I agree, this was a lot of fun!

Melissa

 

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