Have you met Kayla Darling?

Kayla Darling, Editorial Fantasy Intern – Ink Smith Publishing

Kayla Darling graduated from Lycoming College with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing.  An avid reader and writer, she can usually be found with her nose in a book or squinting at a computer screen, and hasn’t been without a personal writing project since elementary school.  She currently works as a content writer, in addition to interning with Ink Smith. We are ecstatic that we have her. Her current project is with new author A. R. Masterson and her book Love of the Sea, a YA adventure novel filled with mermaids, sailors, and a fight for a crown.

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Meet Lorna Brown!

Lorna Brown, author of Debris (available in Spring 2018), has been writing for at least 13 years whenever she gets the chance. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College, and her stories have been published in numerous magazines. She lives in Massachusetts and goes back to her hometown in Ireland when she’s working on a story. She loves getting up at 5:30am-6:00am when the house is quiet to get work done (although she can’t stand it if there are no bananas!), or after her daughters go to sleep. And even when she’s not physically writing, she’s always thinking about her stories.

Regarding Debris specifically, the final draft is actually a rewrite of a story she wrote years ago. The story changed a lot from the rough draft to the final cut, so she essentially had to start over. She only spent four months (on the rewrite, when everything was all said and done) writing Debris, but she learned a lot of lessons along the way. Writing this book has helped her figure out her writing style and method, such as wanting to have a more detailed outline for her plots and subplots, as well as character development.

She has three daughters who she loves immensely and says they’ve made her a “big softie”- so much so she cries easily when she watches movies and shows, like The Voice. She loves to go hiking with her family and their dog and sees life as an adventure. She’s traveled extensively and finds it hard to stay in one place.

She is very excited for Debris to be available to the public. The release date for this fiction piece is Spring 2018 under the pen name L.M. Brown.

 

Q and A with Alec Arbogast!

Inksmith Publishing would like to offer a warm welcome to our new author Alec Arbogast, author of The Last Odinian! Below are some questions he has answered for us to help get to know him better!

Message from Alec: Hello! It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for reading, and let us share in our love of storytelling together.

Q: What is your favorite book?

A: Even though they aren’t single stories, my favorites would be The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe, and also The Great American Short Story Collection. They have both had a great impact on me. Regarding single, full-length stories, I first read The Shining by Stephen King when I was a teenager. It became a sort of catalyst for my creative mind, introducing me to the immense world of storytelling, the concept of tasteful, imaginative horror. It made me aware and reflect on the struggle between good and evil, and the grey area between the two.

Q: What is your favorite food? Favorite color?

A: My favorite color is blue, and I love Thai food.

Q: What/whom is your favorite mythical creature?

A: This is a hard answer to narrow down. Recently, I’ve been drawn to Slavic and Norse mythology. However, Medusa from Greek mythology is my overall favorite. She’s a singular, terrifying creature, who can make quick work of almost anything or anyone- even the Titans.

Q: Can you share a little of any of your current work(s) with us?

A: I have three writing projects I’m currently working on. One is an action-adventure novel revolving around an elite group of soldiers; one is a story that blends elements of time travel, mystery, and horror; and the other is a gangster drama set in post-Civil War America.

Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

A:  I find quite a few aspects of writing challenging, but it’s always a good challenge. I’m drawn to historical fiction, and in these stories it’s a challenge to make sure I’m accurately representing the event while also molding it to fit my narrative. Pacing is another struggle as well, as I find it tends to do one of two things: the narrative flow develops naturally or can be hard to keep on track. Almost like an intractable horse, I feel like sometimes I have to nudge it in the right direction while it wanders off.

Q: Did you learn anything from your book(s)?

A: I learned the forbearance and discipline it takes to finish a full-length book, which can be equally an exhilarating and daunting process. I stretched myself intellectually at the same time as discovering who I was as an artist and what message I’d like to be sending. I also learned the worlds you create are a tenable space in your mind and can leave a mark on your soul.

Q: What inspired you to write your first book?

A: The Last Odinian originally came to me on a whim, to be honest. I started writing it knowing the setting and atmosphere I wanted—the haunting forests of the Pacific Northwest–and developed a narrative around that (almost similar to The Twilight Zone).

Q: Do you remember how your interest in writing began?

A:  I’ve always been interested in the function of stories, and produced some short films in school with a few friends. I didn’t discover the writing form of stories until a few years ago.

Q: Do you have a specific writing style?

A: My style varies from story to story, actually. I try to find a voice that feels right with each individual story, and the characters within. I think my prose tends to have a grounding in the contemporary style while borrowing from romanticism and transcendentalism.

Q: Who is your favorite author? What really strikes you about their work?

A: I have many favorites, but I’ll try and narrow it down. On the classic side, I admire Edgar Allan Poe’s complex prose. He tackles haunting subjects, like the inescapable reality of death, in a truly singular way. Edith Wharton made me a lifetime fan based on just one of her short stories, Afterward, due to her unique style. On the contemporary side, Stephen King has influenced me with his unending creativity, and I respect his voracious need to tell stories. His characters are always vivid and three-dimensional, and he has a pragmatic approach I admire. Craig Johnson has a sort of straight-forward and laconic approach to his prose, but it’s riddled with sardonic insight.

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?

A: Find a writing process that speaks to you. Some people prefer a meticulous preparation: a diligent outline, layers of notes detailing each character, the narrative mapped out beforehand, etc. Others prefer a more organic process wherein the narrative, characters, subplot, and all the other details just flow naturally. And these are just two examples of the compositional process- everyone develops their own process. Another tip is to be true to your story. Don’t let your own moral standards and ideologies overly influence your characters or narrative. It’s important to realize the difference between who you are and what you create within your writing. On a similar note, don’t be too concerned with your audience or their opinion of you based on your writing. Write how you want and what you want, and your creations will be truer. Finally, your final story will likely be quite different from how you originally wanted it to be, and that’s okay.

 

An Excerpt from The Last Odinian

 Seeing him in plain sight was an abhorrently different experience than through the peephole of his hotel room. Light and shadow played across Kendric’s mutilated face like a symphony of horror as he stood under the bar lights. Koenig forced the coffee down his throat and exhaled. Like a boxer caught off guard, he didn’t know whether to swing a punch or duck for cover. For a moment he just stared at the decrepit man, and the man stared right back, his one working eye fixed on Koenig. Words came to him at last, and he steadied his voice… “Any final thoughts?”

Tips to Beat Writer’s Block

I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for the past few weeks, and it is very frustrating. I go to write and I have nothing, but once I am busy and cannot write, all of my ideas starting coming in. It’s a difficult cycle, but here are a few things that helped me along the way.

1. Give Yourself a Break…Literally!

Unfortunately, the more you try, the harder it is going to be to find the inspiration. Just like when you’re working on a puzzle (jigsaw or crossword) and you’re stuck, taking a break and going back to it with a clear mind helps immensely! Taking 15-20 minutes to regroup and come back has helped me so much. Whether I go for a walk, watch one episode of something on Netflix (The Office or Parks and Rec are my favorites!), take a nap, or even just scroll through my phone—not thinking about the article/post/whatever I’m trying to get done actually helps me more after a rest.

2. Read through old material.

Sometimes, when I’m trying to write a blog post on my personal blog, I don’t feel motivated. I feel like I’m just writing into the abyss of the internet and it’s just a waste of time. And then, (because I’m trying to prove myself right), I read through old posts. Seeing what I’ve already done inspires me to write more because I’m perfecting my craft, and even through this short comparison between older pieces and newer, I see how much I’ve improved. So even if you’re trying to write a sports piece and you’re reading through an old screenplay you wrote five years ago, it still gets the gears turning in your head and helps bring the motivation back.

3. Meditate.

About a solid 65% of my writer’s block is pure anxiety. “I can’t write now, I have laundry and dishes and FILL IN THE BLANK”…and then I never actually get to writing. Or the dreaded procrastination bug: “Ah, this isn’t due for awhile, I still have time,” and then it’s the night before (or the day of) and I haven’t even opened up Word yet. Since I deal with anxiety about most things (thanks to a generalized anxiety disorder), I’ve learned to combat these thoughts. I take a few deep breaths, and I tell myself that I’m too frazzled to do anything right now, so I might as well meditate. I like TheHonestGuys channel, and I just do one of their shorter ones to refresh my mind. After doing so, I feel relaxed and don’t feel the pressure from earlier to get everything done right now, and it’s easier to write because I don’t feel as rushed or pressured.

4. Try Not to Psyche Yourself Out…or Should You?

Whenever I’m writing for myself and don’t care about my audience, I’m more comfortable and therefore it’s easier to write. I don’t worry about format or grammar. I just write. However, whenever I have to write for a purpose like a school assignment or something for work, etc.,  I find myself so caught up with everything being perfect that I forget that I am good at this. What I have found is if I tell myself that this is just for fun and only content matters, my thoughts and ideas flow more freely. I then take a break (more often than not I get a snack!) and then go back and edit. This helps keep me at ease and keep my mind thinking outside the box, not just what I think my audience will want to hear. And then once I edit, I can always make sure it meets the expectation.

5. Read Other Authors.

There are a few authors I follow on Instagram, and seeing their pieces throughout the day keeps me motivated to always be ready to write. And sometimes, when I feel particularly unmotivated, I read chapters from my favorite books or a few of my favorite poems.

These are just a few of my tricks to help me beat my writer’s block. And sometimes they don’t work, but that’s okay. As long as there is a will, and ink, there’s a way.

 

Meet Jenna LaBollita!

Jenna’s passion for writing started very young, even winning her a Young Author Award in elementary school. Since then, she has written for The Odyssey and Puckermob, and has read countless books in many genres.

Her love for writing is unmatched, and she hopes to become a published author herself one day. Jenna holds an associate degree in Liberal Arts from Ocean County College in Toms River, New Jersey.

Author Writing Prompt!

Dawn Napier, the author of Star Pack, has an assignment for you writers! Check out this fun writing prompt to get you started on your next great novel!

 

Prompt: 

You’re in a boat over a deep, dark lake. Something scrapes the length of your boat, and you hear someone whisper your name.

 

Now, grab your pen and paper, or open up a new Word document, and get writing. I like to add some mood music to my writing. Here are a few “creepy” songs to use while you write. Feel free to share your creepy song suggestions, or even a bit of your writing, in the comments!

  1. Dock Boggs, “Pretty Polly”
  2. Snakefinger – “Sawny Beane/Sawny Beane’s Death Dance”
  3. Radiohead, “We Suck Young Blood”
  4. Misfits, “Wolf’s Blood”

Rolling Stone has a great list on their website, too. You can find the list here!

Have you met Dawn Napier, yet?

Our author, Dawn Napier, author of Star Pack, has a few more writing projects in the works. Check out Star Pack on our website! We took some time to ask her a few questions about her writing, her inspiration, and some other fun questions. Check out her interview below!

 

Dawn’s favorite color is red – so we decided to add a little color to our interview!

 

 

Ink Smith: What are your current projects?
Dawn: I’m currently writing a sequel to Star Pack, and I’m finishing a last coat of polish on a recently completed fantasy novel called Vellichor.

Ink Smith: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Dawn: It’s called Sea Pack, and it’s the continuing adventures of the space-faring werewolves I wrote about in Star Pack. They have moved on to explore the rest of our solar system, and they’re currently about to make contact with life on Europa.

Ink Smith: What is your favorite book?
Dawn: Watership Down by Richard Adams

Ink Smith: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Dawn: Science fiction is hard. My last couple of books have been fantasy, and in a fantasy novel if something’s not working you can just change the rules. But even with extragalactic werewolves I have to at least try to follow the laws of physics. NASA is finding out new things about our local planets every day, and I have to try to keep up with their discoveries so my book stays current while I’m writing it.

Ink Smith: Did you learn anything from writing your book(s) and what was it?
Dawn: I learned that you can’t world-build by the seat of your pants. I had to learn how to plot in order to finish it.

Ink Smith: What inspired you to write your first book?
Dawn: I don’t have any idea. It never occurred to be NOT to write it.

Ink Smith: What is your favorite food?
Dawn: Shrimp Fried Rice

Ink Smith: Do you have a specific writing style?
Dawn: I guess you could call it Stephen King meets Piers Anthony and their love child collaborates with HP Lovecraft.

Ink Smith: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Dawn: I had a few themes and symbols in the back of my mind when I wrote it, but I’d rather people read it and enjoy it on their own terms. I’d love to hear from people who have found messages of their own in it.

Ink Smith: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Dawn: I have no idea. I think I was about six.

Ink Smith: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Dawn: Don’t TRY while you’re writing. Don’t try to sound like anyone else, but also don’t try too hard to be original. Don’t try to make the story follow a certain path, and don’t try to guide your characters’ fates. You’ll find your own voice organically the more you write, but you have to sit back and let the muse do her thing.

Ink Smith: If you had to do it all over again, what would you change, if anything, in your latest book?
Dawn: I would have made the character’s names have meanings.

Ink Smith: Who is your favorite author, and what really strikes you about their work?
Dawn: Stephen King. I started reading his books when I was 12, and I loved how he wrote about kids. My parents divorced when I was 11, and during that turbulent time, I often felt that I was at the mercy of the four winds. In King’s books, the kids are the smart ones, the ones who understand what’s going on. And they’re the ones who have the power to stop the monsters. I found that deeply reassuring. I still read his books and feel soothed by his familiar voice. He probably wouldn’t appreciate me saying that I find his books soothing. But compared to the real world, sometimes…

Ink Smith: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Dawn: If you don’t have a library card go get one now. Libraries are a magical place where anyone can learn anything for free. They’re staunch defenders of the Constitution, and they will help you learn whatever you need to know without checking your credit or health history. Everyone needs to use and love their libraries, so they stay with us forever.

Ink Smith: Final thoughts?
Dawn: Just keep writing, just keep writing…

 

About Dawn Napier

Dawn Napier grew up in Waukegan IL, and upstate New York. She has a husband, three children, and a ridiculous number of pets. She grew up reading Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, Mercedes Lackey, and Piers Anthony. When she’s not reading and writing, she is hiking with her dogs, napping with her cat, or cleaning up after her herd of adopted guinea pigs.
Visit her online on Facebook and her website dawnsdarktreasures.com!

Evelyn Allen Harper Releases New Book: Essence!

Evelyn Allen Harper just published her tenth book, Essence! This mystery novel is tinged with the paranormal and filled with surprises at every turn. You can find Essence available for purchase on the Ink Smith website, or on Amazon!

We chatted with Evelyn about her current projects, what she has learned as an author, and what is behind her inspiration.

Ink Smith: What are your current projects?
Evelyn: While waiting for my current book, Essence, to be edited, I started to write a story, still with no title, in the first-person tense. I’m just sorry I hadn’t tried writing in that tense sooner.

Ink Smith: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Evelyn: 
This is an excerpt from the untitled story I’m writing while waiting for Essence to be edited.

“Buck and his gun were gone, so who was doing the shouting? The sounds were getting desperate so I ran to the cave’s opening and peeked out. There was no one out there, and all that I saw were sheets of copy paper, many with something red on them, being blown around by the wind. Where was the shouter? Moans from behind a huge tree answered my question. I cautiously crept toward the sound, peered around the tree, and screamed. The mountain lion lifted his bloody head from his prey and looked at me. I screamed again when I saw what he’d been chewing on. It was Buck.”

Ink Smith: Did you learn anything from writing your books, and what was it?Evelyn: Essence is my tenth book. In every book, there were many topics I had to look up on the Internet such as the climate of the area where the story is taking place, to the symptoms of a poisonous snake bite. Facts I pick up while writing one book, I sometimes use in another book.

Ink Smith: What inspired you to write your first book?
Evelyn: 
I have suffered from Restless Leg Syndrome most of my life. Neither of my two sisters is afflicted with it, so one night when the syndrome wouldn’t let me sleep, I sat down at the computer and started a story that had the main character, Molly, crying over her ‘crazy legs’ that wouldn’t let her stay in bed. I emailed the story to my sisters, and when they contacted me and demanded to know “What happened next?” I continued the story for six books in the Accidental Mystery Series.

Ink Smith: Is there a message in your novels that you want your readers to grasp?
Evelyn: 
The six books in the Accidental Mystery Series are filled with facts about Restless Leg Syndrome. The Nightwalker, a publication of the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation, gave me free advertisement for my books. I picked up readers from all over the country. The next four published books are just for reading pleasure.

Ink Smith: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Evelyn: 
My advice is to just try to write and see what happens. You just might surprise yourself.

Ink Smith: If you had to do it all over again what would you change in your latest work?
Evelyn: 
I wouldn’t change the plot, but when I read the printed book, I always find many sentences that I would love to have the chance to change.

Fun facts about Evelyn: Her favorite color is red! And she loves ethnic food.

Be sure to follow Evelyn on her website: www.evelynallenharper.com!

 

About Essence

“Why are you wearing my wife’s perfume?” Laura Baker’s rescuer demanded, after
hoisting her out of the water.

Laura, a typical stay-at- home mom, is jolted out of her complacent world when she
discovers that her best friend, Joan Wilberson, is having an affair with her husband.
Banished from Laura’s life, Joan is an easy target for the escaped serial killer, George
Knox, but when George’s murderous plan is interrupted, the quiet town is thrown into
turmoil.

Broken hearted from losing both her husband and her friend, Laura is driven back to
her passion of painting and into the path of Josh Lang, a recently widowed author,
battling his own ghosts.

It isn’t until the alluring, Bob Miller, catches Laura’s eye that she thinks her life is
back on track. With no recent sightings of the dangerous convict, the small town is lulled
back to sleep, but unknown to Laura and the rest of the town, something much more
sinister is afoot.

Why Writing is Important!

In this day and age of technology, many real-life experiences have seemed to fade in importance. Hanging out among friends is now just relaxing in the same room on their cell phones. In fact, any social event is made up of cell phones taking up a majority of people’s attention. Social media platforms are more important to people than real friendships in person. The internet, in all of its glory and accomplishments, has taken over a lot of people’s lives and priorities.

<I’m not bashing social media or the Internet–I’m all for innovation and taking advantage of new things that come arise as time changes. This is just my opinion on where priorities should lie, and why some things (writing) should not be overlooked.> 

I’ve noticed this in myself, actually. At one point in time, my presence on social media was more important than my off-screen life. I was more caught up with Twitter retweets and Snapchat views than real conversations, and it wasn’t until I missed an event in a close friend’s life that I realized I had to check myself. I also realized it was a long time since I had written. I’ve written Facebook posts, Twitter threads, etc, but nothing for myself. Not like I used to.

I’ve kept a personal journal for years, and it has helped me immensely. Whether it be getting things off my chest, or working through life decisions, writing has grown to be a part of me. Inspiration for stories or poems come to me at the most random times, and I see writing opportunities everywhere. Surprisingly, writing is not a common hobby for the majority of the population anymore. And a percentage of those who do write prefer to have followers/subscribers; so anything they do without viewers doesn’t seem worth doing.

Hopefully today, I’ll let you in on the secret as to why writing is important and why it’s a life-changer for many of us.

Writing is therapeutic, and I’m not the only one to say so. Personally, I’ve used my journal(s) to help me through many issues, like what major I wanted to study in college, whether or not I wanted to move from NJ to PA (and back again!), through my struggles with anxiety and depression, my goals and dreams, etc. Writing helped me through so much in life and has been meditation-like. After writing, without worrying about neat penmanship or getting all the details perfect, I feel calm and collected. (For more information about how writing can be meditative, check out this article on How Life Unfolds!)

Writing for social media and for yourself are two different things. When you write for any sort of audience, there’s a filter and also a purpose. When you write for yourself, for the most part, there’s no purpose or target other than self-fulfillment. Easing that burden of meeting an audience’s expectations helps the creativity flow, at least for me!

The society we live in seems to dictate success by the measurement of how many people see your work and respond to it. Whether your choice of platform is YouTube, Twitter/Instagram, Facebook, or some other shareable network, the driving factor of this “success” relies heavily on followers, subscribers, the number of views/likes, etc. The act of writing shouldn’t need gratification from social media.

For those of us who have a Twitter (or any other platform obsession), it is too easy to get caught up in thinking personal reflection needs to be in the form of a [INSERT PREFERRED PLATFORM HERE] thread. It seems that if there’s something you want to say, it has to be done online so it can go viral.

I disagree.

When it comes to writing, something that seems obsolete in this day and age, this art form should be taken seriously. When I write, I try to have silence or at least soft music on in the background. If I’m writing in my journal, I don’t really care about where I am; but if I’m writing for something (like school or Ink Smith), I write at my desk to help keep me focused. I don’t care if anyone sees my writing.

I’m not saying that no writing should ever be done online. Me writing this article would be hypocritical if that was the claim I was making. I’m just saying that, as amazing as social media is, it should not replace true writing. It should not replace the soft, gentle reflection, or ferocious scribbling as a thought consumes you. It should not be peppered with SEO keywords just because you want it to show up first in a search. It should not only be written with the sole purpose of many people reading it. Writers who write for the enjoyment of it, for the catharsis of it, even for the utter need to write – those are the writers who will find their writing most relatable to others.

In short, as long as your purpose for writing is to achieve some form of Internet Fame, then wanting to post your work online to share doesn’t have a damaging effect on your writing. Just because your work doesn’t go viral doesn’t mean it isn’t a message that people want to hear or a work of art that people wouldn’t appreciate.

I am all for innovation. I’m 100% in support of social media, and I think it’s a great thing. It helps people reconnect, celebrities seem more like regular people, and it brings a lot of people together. I just think that it’s important people remember how useful things offline can be, whether in functionality or whatever else. Writing is a great tool and is most definitely worth doing in any way.

 

 

Meet Jenna LaBollita!

Jenna’s passion for writing started very young, even winning her a Young Author Award in elementary school. Since then, she has written for The Odyssey and Puckermob, and has read countless books in many genres.

Her love for writing is unmatched, and she hopes to become a published author herself one day. Jenna holds an associate degree in Liberal Arts from Ocean County College in Toms River, New Jersey.

Ink Smith Welcomes Summer Intern Jenna LaBollita

Welcome, Jenna!

Jenna Headshot.jpg

Jenna LaBollita is Ink Smith’s newest summer intern! Jenna will be working closely with the Ink Smith staff in the capacity of blogger, reader, and reviewer!

Jenna’s passion for writing started very young, even winning her a Young Author Award in elementary school. Since then, she has written for The Odyssey and Puckermob, and has read countless books in many genres.

Her love for writing is unmatched, and she hopes to become a published author herself one day. Jenna holds an associate degree in Liberal Arts from Ocean County College in Toms River, New Jersey.