Interview with the Awethors Featuring Mary Buckham

Welcome to this week’s episode of Interview with the Awethors! I know it has been pretty quiet on this end of the blog-o-sphere, but I’ve been compiling a list of some awesome authors that pack a punch in their novels. Now, today I have USA Today’s Bestselling author Mary Buckham! Her world in The Invisible Recruits Series will bring you into a mysterious world of magic and discovery oneself.

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William: Thank you for joining me today, Mary. I appreciate you fitting me into your schedule this week! What inspired you to write the Invisible Recruit Series?

Mary: I was talking to a Terrorist Threat Assessment specialist (some plane trips are worth their weight in gold) and he was talking about the fact that here in the US the recruitment process for undercover operatives  eliminated some of the very people who can infiltrate foreign situations. He said the screening process often eliminated everyone except farm-bred boys who’d never been away from home. I thought it was a fascinating insight. Who would you recruit to blend in best in real life situations? So I created a cadre of female operatives who came from diverse backgrounds—a debutante, a hairdresser, a kindergarten teacher, a temp and a fortune-telling con artist—for a new kind of black ops group. The first book in the series featured the debutante and was published as a contemporary romantic suspense. The month before the second book in the five book series was released, the publishing line folded and I received my rights back for the final four novels. There were very few options for the types of stories I wanted to write—strong female protagonists, sexual tension without sex for the sake of sex, women finding out exactly how powerful they were when things got bad, until Indie publishing arrived. I added in paranormal elements as well as supernatural and preternatural aspects and resurrected the series.

William: Thank goodness indie publishing came along because your story is truly a page turner. I know following Alex’s adventure took me only an overnight read and I was hooked!

In the story you describe many different types of magic and cultures across the world, what type of research went into creating these different types of magic?

Mary: I loved reading myths and fairy tales growing up, especially stories from around the world, so I knew there was a rich heritage of magic to pull from when I first started writing the series with a half-witch, half-shaman protagonist. I made sure she wasn’t well versed in her magical abilities as part of her back story, so as she learns about the magic and her gifts, so does the reader. The important issue to me about using magic as a large story element is to make sure that magic has limits and consequences. Nothing I hate more than when a character has a get-out-of-jail free card, meaning that because she is in a certain situation I as the author suddenly make it easy for her to whip out a new magical spell or a way to use her magic. For Alex Noziak, her gift of magic is her greatest asset and her biggest bane. That keeps things interesting.

William: And that is why I enjoyed your story from front to back. There was too many situations where Alex had to discover herself with her skills. So is there a specific person in your life that inspired the idea for Alex Noziak?

Mary: : I think Alex is the kind of person a lot of women would like to be—willing to lead with her heart, deal with the consequences, and not really worry about keeping everyone happy. I don’t know that she’s an easy person to be around all the time, and often strikes sparks off her equally strong-minded teammates. But she’s a good person and she cares deeply about those who can’t always care for themselves. That keeps her vulnerable and kick-ass at the same time.

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William: Judging by the cover, she definitely looks kick ass in this series! When did you discover your passion for writing?

Mary: I knew I was always a storyteller but it wasn’t until I was an adult, and I lost a two-month old son to SIDS, and I had to find a reason to get up and take care of my three other children, that I had to find the kernel that became turning stories into novels. It was a promise I made to my son. He didn’t live long enough to leave something lasting, so I’ll do it for him.

William: I am so sorry to hear about your son. A very motivational and admiring way to remember him and bring a lasting life for him.

How does it feel to be a USA Today Bestselling author?

Mary: Shiney! Actually it doesn’t change a lot. You still have to face the blank page. Expectations increase because the title is a form of external validation that reassures readers who don’t know me personally that I might be able to write a good story. It doesn’t mean they’ll like my stories, but that I’ve paid enough dues and made enough sales, to warrant giving my work a try.

William: Do you have any upcoming releases for the readers to be excited about?

Mary: In January, 2016 Writer’s Digest is bringing out a print version of my Writing Active Setting book, titled, A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting. This means more writers around the world as well as libraries and bookstores will be able to order it. Plus, it’s chock full of new examples. So I am excited about that. I am currently working on two under wraps fiction projects, which I will be sharing on my Facebook mary.buckham.author and Twitter @MaryBuckham pages. I am in the midst of wrapping up my first set of online workshops to teach hooks to writers (You can find more info here: MaryBuckhamOnWriting) and already looking forward to the next series of classes that I will be creating. 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year!

William: You are truly a very busy woman and an adventure seeker! Where was your favorite place to travel?

Mary: I don’t think that there is one favorite place, because I like how varied and unique our world is. It’s hard to compare Bangkok with small town Missouri, or Santa Fe with rural England, as each has it’s own magic.

William: Are any of your stories inspired by your travels?

Mary: Absolutely! To me the more you travel the more you find common treads of humanity that link us together and speak to all of us. Some of my stories have locations that I have been to personally and others include places I plan to visit one day.

William: If you could have magical abilities, what would be your strength and why?

Mary: I would like the ability to instantly transport to any location. What a time saver! Except, I haven’t figured out how to carry my luggage.

William: Oh, that would be a time saver! Also, if it was me, it would take away that fear of flying I have.

For people who are searching for that magic touch in their writing, what advice do you have for them to be as successful as you?

Mary: Like many novice writers, when I started out I thought all I had to do was write the story and it’d be a story worth being acquired by a publisher. Wrong. Writing never gets easier. The doubts never go away. But the craft elements can be learned with enough attention and work. You have to do the work. There’s no getting around it. Some people sell their first novel and that’s wonderful. What we don’t hear is how many times that novel was worked and reworked before it went through editorial review boards and the editorial revision process.

William: And that about wraps it up for this weeks episode of Interview with the Awethors thanks to all the readers and writers joining in on this episode. Please check out Mary Buckham and give her the joy of sharing a piece of her magical world of The Invisible Recruits Series.

 

Also, check out her guides Writing Active Hooks.

If you would like to connect with Mary Buckham and find out more about her upcoming books, or you would like to purchase her books, go to the links below:

Twitter: @MaryBuckham

Facebook: Author Mary Buckham

Hooks Class: MaryBuckhamonWriting

 

If you’re an author looking to be featured on the Interview with the Awethors Seriesplease leave your inquiry at lloyd.jr@aol.com

How God has Played a Roll in My Life

I’ve been digging deeper into my own spiritual journey these last few months. Especially since I’m currently participating in a bible study and a Disciple 1 class at my church. I never really dug too deep into my past like I have recently, and it’s funny that it all had to come to one of the darkest moments in my life so far.

Last year, I had stepped down from my management position at my job and realized that life should not always be about work. Then, I lived the part of the guy who has money and lives miserably, but now, I’m happy but living with less than. I’m looking at both of these men that I lived in my life, and I’ve realized that sometimes having less is better for the soul. Although I do see many people that are living happy lives with a more than comfortable living, I can’t help but hear all of the same stories from these people. The rag to riches story where God intervened and brought them to where they are at today. Now, I can’t say that God did or did not intervene to bring them to paradise in their own lives, but I can say what I am currently experiencing in my life.

When I was at the age of thirteen, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I wanted to pitch for the Atlanta Braves and become one of the All-Stars of today. It was a dream I had wanted since I was about six or seven years old when I discovered baseball. I remember performing very well as a pitcher and third basement, but I was a very weak batter. Everything in my life at the time seemed easy, and I had all the tools to bring me to the point of stardom if I had practiced and pushed myself to that point.

Then, before I went into high school, I was playing in a minor league game at Dacula Park with the away team. I watched the batter move up to the plate and on the first pitch, the batter connected the bat to the ball. The ball shot towards me at third but took a nasty hop before it go tome. I couldn’t react in time and the ball connected with my eye. I fell over dizzy and couldn’t breathe. My eyes were spinning and all I could think of was getting the ball to first base. The player was safe and all I could do was collapse in pain and feel blood dripping into my palms.

I don’t know why this happened to me before I got into high school, but I ended up not making the team because I was scared of the ball. I kept putting my knee to the ground when a grounder came instead of using proper techniques. For me, it was very disappointing to see a dream shatter right before my eyes. Especially, the first one I ever had my whole life so far.

I ended up joining the school band and marching band my freshman year. What I didn’t realize was I was great at playing Tuba. I was asked to perform in the Wind Symphony which was the highest group of musicians at the school. Then, I traveled across the state to play in the marching and I met some amazing people through the whole experience. During my senior year, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe and perform the tuba as well in seven different countries. It was a very memorable experience.

All of this lead to my love of creation. I wanted to be able to create a work of art through music and through writing. It’s funny that this happened to me though because I had always enjoyed playing music and writing short stories, but I seemed to find myself caught up with baseball before high school though. Now, I had the time to do things that I really did enjoy. I even learned about myself through all of these journeys I took.

In Exodus, Moses was claimed to be a murderer among the Egyptians and the Hebrew slaves, but God still came to him to deliver his people from Egypt. Moses left a new life that he created in Midian and never had the slightest clue that he would be sent back to Egypt to free the slaves. You may be asking, what does this have to do with what happened in your past, Will? Well, if Moses didn’t kill the soldier and run away to Midian to create a new life, he surely would have been sentenced to death by the Pharaoh. If God didn’t intervene and appear to Moses as a burning bush, Moses would have never brought himself to go back to Egypt.

If I had not been hit by that baseball on the field, would I still be writing today? Or would I be living a luxurious life without any life lessons that have turned me into the man I am today? Yes, life would have been easy, but sometimes the rough roads pull the humble from the ashes and prepare them for what lies ahead in the future. Whether it’s pulling the slaves from Egypt, losing a job to rediscover yourself, or simply taking care of the sick, sometimes God will give you a nudge, or a baseball to the face, to deliver you from your hardships.

Day Job to Writing Part 2.1 (Eliptica)

This is a follow up post to the original post “Day Job to Writing“. In the previous post, I went through my outlining process, where I developed maps, characters, feuds, plot time lines, and schedules for myself. In these next few post, I want to go over the maps and world I am currently creating, which will hopefully help you guys put together your worlds in a more creative and sense filled manner.

Eliptica

Eliptica is the main world that I had originally started writing about. This island was supposed to start out the “Temperament Scepter Series”, but it was missing something when I reached the end of it. Anyways, I’ll get back to that later when I go over the characters in my series.

When I created Eliptica, I used three different senses to create each castle and village across it. I used the sense of smell, touch, and sight to understand the environments that I wanted to portray in each region/territory. For instance, think of your own country, or state (If you’re in the US.) The further north you travel, the environment is cooler and the air is usually thinner. Sometimes if it’s near a major city it could change different senses, but that’s why using examples in your head helps to understand the environments. Sometimes authors will actually have to travel to get the first hand experience so they can describe everything in their own senses.

Urealia

Let’s go back to Eliptica. I’m going to start with the southeast, where Urealia is located. This kingdom is actually the slums of Eliptica. It sits high on the edge of a climb over the ocean, where you can smell the salt in the air and hear the seagulls cry over the city. The walls of the city are just logs connected together by nails and wood. The streets are muddy because of the constant rains and the lack of care by the king. Now, if you are creating a poor city, you have to remember to add the reasoning behind it, whether it’s from tragedies, greed, or environmental reasons. In Urealia, I used a greedy fat king that wants nothing else than to steal money from his own people. Anyone else ever feel this way with the leaders today?

Farmlands Outside Urealia

Now, outside Urealia is the plains, where my main character and her family are from. This is where there are farmlands and plains all the way to Olmstead Castle, which is about two hours travel from Urealia. I put this together remembering the first week I was in Europe. I was in London and looking down from the plane window I saw all the green fields below in small square blocks. At least, that was from my view. When I saw this, it was the most spectacular sight I had seen. It actually inspired me to add this into Eliptica and to actually start writing Fantasy Fiction.

I enjoy writing about the land outside of castles better because they are the places your characters have their adventures. Yes, I like inside the castles too, but new worlds and creating them are the best feeling. It’s like discovering an alien world that you wish you could see because it’s the place that makes sense to you.

Port Amnalon

Port Amnalon was created as a place for Eliptica to export goods to other lands across the oceans and seas. Eventually, the Urealian King seized this area because Wolf Bloods from Four Points Chain were being smuggled into the region from here. The vision I had for this port was close to Port Jefferson on Long Island, and a little history from Key West, Florida with pirates. I wanted to put together a place that was small and beautiful, but the buildings and docks were dank and beat up from sea salt.

The environment is a little cooler with the breeze, but Eliptica is located closer to the “equator” so some of the places aren’t too hot or too cold. All of the territories are fairly mild and cool. More and less in some parts.

Legula

I wanted Legula to be a castle sitting against the walls of mountains near a bay. It had to have the beauty and mystical touch of an elvish kingdom, but it still needed to have that touch of man. I remember putting together a few of the castles in my head when I was in Austria. There was one castle that rested all alone in the middle of the bay that inspired me to create Legula. I can’t remember the name, but it was like walking into a fairy tale and living with the mythical beings that wander in our imagination. The air was cool and thin. It almost felt like I could breathe better. The view was like a portrait from inside the towers of the castle. The snow caps over the mountains and the gap that led out of the bay. All of the senses made my trip feel magical.

These are the castles and ports on the eastern side of Eliptica. All of them have access to water to import and export goods to each other, but greed has caused this end to live in poverty for the people. For now, this is Eliptics and in the next post, it will be about the Mid to Western side of Eliptica, where sorcerer villages, enchanted castles, and rugged mountain terrain collide to create the fantasy of my world.

Author FB Page

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https://www.facebook.com/willlloyd25

Here’s the link to my author facebook page. This is where you will find more interesting details about my novel, “Awaken Within the Darkness”, the first installment to The Temperament Scepter Series.

I will also keep you guys updated on any upcoming events/ book releases. Also, if you have any questions for me, or any of the amazing artists, editors, or readers, please feel free to ask. We welcome all and anything that you guys are curious about. Thanks again for your support and love.

And did I mention a possible Book trailer for Horizon soon?

Create Yourself Group Page (FB)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1614654765476677/

I just wanted to invite anyone that would like to join my facebook group: Create Yourself. I’m using this page as a way to let you guys self promote your work to hopefully another audience. You can invite your friends/ share this post if you’d like to friends you think may be interested. I do ask that you do not spam the page multiple times a day. If you are interested, please follow the link, like the page, and share to all your friends.

Hopefully the page will help inspire all of us to continue build on our passions. Thanks guys!

Will

Connecting the Dots

Today has been a very inspirational and encouraging day. A lot of the questions about my life and where I am being guided have finally pieced together. There are still some questions that are constantly pressing deep inside of me, but I am gradually finding the voice to express how I feel in those moments.

I had many memories of small moments that have led me to where I am at now from all of the pride I had for myself, the jealousy of others that did better than me, and all of my selfish ways. During my days in high school eight years ago, I had a huge ego. I thought that the world revolved around me and I could do whatever I wanted. My life was based around a spoiled kid who went to mom and dad for anything that I needed at the time. Especially if I ran into trouble along the way, they were the first ones I ran to for help. There are constant things that happen throughout people’s lives to bring them back to the Lord and in every way, it turns out to be a beautiful story that is filled with encouragement for others who have the opportunity to hear a person’s life. Well, I’m going to summarize all of the important moments of my life that led me here.

Learning Music-

I learned how to play music in high school, and I was very talented at it. I played tuba in the Wind Symphony, and sousaphone in the marching band. The goosebumps and special moments I experienced performing made me feel like I was at bliss with myself. There was nothing that could take away the feelings that music brought to my heart. When I reached my Senior year of high school, I traveled across Europe and performed at many historical locations across the continent. It was an amazing adventure that created a new perspective of what I wanted to do with my music.

Back home, I put together a small rock band and enjoyed creating music. It was like we were all connected until we started finding new members and replacing old ones. It got to the point where all we wanted was fame and fortune. Both of these never came to us, but we did enough work to pull in a small following, but we never reached that milestone where we all felt fulfilled with our lives. All of us wanted to make more money and be able to travel to huge arenas, where we could perform for thousands. That never happened though. After looking back at what kind of experience I went through with the band, it made me realize the one passion I truly did have. It was actually the ability to write a story and portray a picture of what I was seeing in my mind. This brought about the next stage to my life.

Writing-

I enjoyed writing stories before, during, and after my music stage of life. I went to school at the Art Institute of Atlanta, where I was studying Audio Production. My journey there ended up leading me into an English class, where I met a wonderful teacher named, Ms. Jenkins. She was one of the most encouraging teachers I had ever had the honor of studying with. She taught me a lot about creative writing and even offered her services in editing to help me grow as a writer. It wasn’t until it was the end of the year when she gave me my first notebook to use for dreams that I happen to want to write about. That notebook now sits inside of a box in my closet, but it was the gesture that let me know that I was stepping in the right direction in my life.

I ended up writing scripts for some of the video production students, who struggled with creativity. It was fun joining in small groups and helping these kids out, but it didn’t start to dawn on me until about two years later when my dad sat me down in his office at his house.

Spreading My Wings-

My dad was struggling with his business, and he was leading in the direction of bankruptcy and searching for a solution for problems at work. He worked so hard for his business that he built the last 25 years. My mom played an important roll with him too, but it all came tumbling down. I don’t know when the quake started for my dad, but it didn’t reach me until I was halfway through college.

He sat me down in his office and looked up at me over the rim of his glasses. He had multiple documents in his hands from insurance companies, school bills, the mortgage, utilities, and anything else he owed money to. His credit was ruined and there was little hope for him to pull himself out of it. Actually, I remember a few months later he started going back to church and searched for answers in spirit trying to figure out what to do in his situation. Anyways, he told me that he could not take out another loan for my schooling and that I needed to start helping out. I was told that I needed to get a job to help pay for my schooling, my health and auto insurance. It was actually a fair deal, but my selfishness and ego didn’t see it that way. I felt like my dad was trying to punish me and make me fail. It wasn’t that at all.

If my dad did not make me step up my life like he did that day, I think I would still be living with them in the same position today. At the time, I was coming near the end of performing with my band and meeting the one I love today, Nadine. My band performed two more gigs after I met Nadine, and we split up because the guitarist wanted to join the army, I needed to make more money working in the grocery store, and the drummer went to school down in Valdosta, which was a distance away.

Nadine-

I remember meeting Nadine in a small pizzeria off of Lawrenceville Highway. It was inside of a strip mall, but they had open mics there, and my guitarist wanted to perform one of our last times there. We went in and one of our fans was there with her cousin, Nadine. I sat down at the table behind her with Luke. I couldn’t help but text Nadine’s cousin. I sent texts about how beautiful Nadine was and how much I liked her. It was actually kind of pathetic on my end of it haha! We exchanged numbers at the end of the night and ended going on a few dates afterwards.

I think meeting Nadine was not a coincidence in my life. I feel like it was God’s way of pointing me in the direction I needed to turn to. If it wasn’t for Nadine, I would’ve never continued to work at my job with the grocery store. I would be living with my parents. Quite possibly, I probably would have not had the motivation to build myself up. I had found my Eve, but I needed more in my life to feel like I was doing well in the public eye of my friends and family. I decided to become an Assistant Manager after three years of working for the same company.

I’m going to end this post here. it’s getting a bit long. Plus, I have work early in the morning. Please stay joyful and inspired by everything around you. There’s always a spark somewhere that is going to get your attention. You just have to be patient to grasp its meaning. Until tomorrow, sleep well and Happy Blogging!

MY Recent ReBlog

I scoured through my past posts and was amazed at how long ago I posted my Testimony on here. I read through the whole post, which I am sorry if it was too long for anyone that read it, but it was my story last year. We all have a story where we fell to the darkest depths of our inner selves and tried so desperately to pull ourselves from the ashes, but we continued to scrape against the small stone walls of our world. It’s kind of funny though when God uncovers your blind eyes and reveals what is waiting for you. Yes, it may at first seem like an uncomfortable change for yourself, but once you do it, the world starts to turn again in your life.

Psalm 139: 11

“If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is light to you.”

At the church’s Men’s Group Breakfast today, a young woman named Jessica Banner spoke about how God has been working with her to bring her to where she is now. This was a verse that she read today, and I was instantly pulled to it because I was in this same place for a long time.

It’s funny how this speaker today fell into my life at a time, where I was still having questions towards God. I was still pondering what my life really meant and why I was continually satisfied with everything around me now, even though not much has changed other than my attitude. I know I have been more active with my blog recently, and I write more frequently with my novel. These two things were the only two changes I’ve made in my life so far, and I have been immensely blessed with joy being able to have the opportunity to spread my thoughts with my words.

Today was a realization that God did many of these things so quickly this last year because I had too much pride in myself when I was an Assistant. I decided I didn’t need him anymore, and as bad as I hate to say it, I returned to him in the darkest hours. I hate to say it only because I wish I would have glorified him in my brightest days. I’ve learned to be more humble towards him and the ones around me that have pushed me in this direction, and I plan to keep moving in this direction.

Top Ten Quotes That Get me Through Each Day

1. “You can tell the greatness of a man by what makes him angry.” -Abraham Lincoln

2. “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” -Albert Einstein

3. “Life’s like a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re going to get.” -Forrest Gump

4. “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” -Henry David Thoreau

5. “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” Albert Einstein

6. “The No. 1 reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbors.” -Napoleon Hill

7. “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.” -Robert Frost

8. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” -Maya Angelou

9. “Be yourself–not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” -Henry David Thoreau

10. “You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can be grateful that thorn bushes have roses.” -Tom Wilson

Unfinished :(

This was the final song that we attempted to record before the band broke up. I started listening to the instrumentals today and I couldn’t help but think of all the meanings that were running through my head while writing this. Hope you enjoy!

Gratitude

I was sitting in bed today thinking about things that I am grateful for, especially since for the last year my mind focused a lot on the negative. I heard from a nifty book once that if you focus on all the positives in your life and place yourself in the vision that you have for yourself, you will eventually live in that dream. Now, I dream to be Tony Stark with an Iron Man suit one day, but for now, I will am going to list all of the things I am currently grateful for.

1. I am grateful for my mom and dad for being a live and healthy. For also, helping me get through the times that were not my brightest hours.

2. I’m grateful for my fiance for keeping her chin up for me when I have been down. I also am grateful that her love has kept me going for the last five years.

3. I’m grateful for having a job that keeps food on the table and clothes on my back.

4. I’m grateful for having the eyes to see what I am writing and the fingers to be able to write what I am feeling.

5. I’m grateful that I have readers that actually enjoy my posts, and I am grateful for the one’s that challenge my thoughts as well.

6. I am grateful to be alive and wake up to more sunny days than rainy days.

7. I’m grateful to be able to live in a country where I am free to express myself without penalty.

8. I am grateful for the men that died to keep our country free.

9. I’m grateful for the positive thoughts that pop up in my head daily. I’m also grateful for learning how to not worry or stress over the things that do not matter right now.

10. I’m grateful to know that I continue to have ideas in my head for my stories everyday and do not suffer from writer’s block too much anymore.

11. I am grateful that there are writers that ask me for my suggestions on their writings and want my help.

12. I’m grateful for when my checks from work are bigger than usual.

13. I’m grateful to have a grandmother that I know.

14. I’m grateful for having a sibling that listens to me even if I do run off into a rant at times.

15. I’m grateful for the people that are still in my life even when times were bumpy in the past.

Write down your list of what you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be on here. It can be on your own page or the comments below. If you’re looking to make a change in your life, don’t focus on the negatives. Start with a list of things that you’re grateful for that make you happy. It’s the first step of following what you want in your life.

Happy blogging!