Author Interview – Jason McCuiston!

Today I have the pleasure of introducing author Jason McCuiston who will be sharing his thoughts on reading and writing, and details of his new book, Project Notebook!

As an author –

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

A: That’s a tough one. I think I can get them from just about anything. As a kid I spent a lot of time with Uncle Creepy, Cousin Eerie, and Vampirella in the old Warren monster magazines, as well as the four-color heroes of Marvel Comics. I watched a lot of sci-fi TV and movies and read a lot of fantasy novels. Add to that all the Westerns, monster movies, and war movies, and I’ve got a veritable hoard of story fodder inside my noggin.

Then too, I love documentaries and shows like Mysteries at the Museum that point out oddities in the real world. Usually it is one of these historical obscurities or dramas that sparks an idea that sends me rummaging through my internal catalogue of weirdness to formulate a story. That’s sort of what happened with Project Notebook when I learned that the Pacific Northwest was a hotspot of UFO sightings weeks before the now famous Roswell incident.

Q: What motivates you to write?

A: Boredom, pure and simple. I saw Star Wars when I was four years old and have been disappointed with “the real world” ever since. Although I’m a historical fiction junkie, I tend to write in the speculative genres—science fiction, fantasy, horror, and weird tales. My motto is, If it doesn’t tend to happen in real life, that’s what I’m writing about.

Q: How many hours a week do you spend writing?

A: I try to get at least a solid two to four hours a day in during the week, then shoot for extra hours on the weekend. On a good week, I’d say I can hit sixteen to twenty hours of writing at the keyboard. It helps that I’m a decent typist. But even when I’m not at the computer, I’m mulling over ideas or jotting down notes about stories and WIPs. When I hit a block, I break out my sketchpad and doodle until something shakes loose.

Q: Best thing about writing?

A: The freedom, excitement, and adventure. In the stories I write bills, taxes, car repairs, and all the other humdrum problems of the mundane world fall away. What is the inconvenience and cost of renewing your auto tags when compared to the threat of an alien invasion?

Q: Your biggest writing distractions?

A: I’d have to say my own moodiness. There are days I get fixated on some dumb thing and my mind is like a dog with a bone, unable to let it go in favor of more productive pursuits. Fortunately, I’m getting better at heading these spells off at the pass when I see them coming.

Q: What are your favorite books or sites you go to for writing tips / advice?

A: The first book on writing I ever purchased was James Scott Bell’s The Art of War for Writers, and it was a Godsend. I highly recommend anything he has written on the craft. Another of my favorites is Story Engineering by Larry Brooks, a great resource for sound, fundamental story structure. And of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out The Fantasy Author’s Handbook (, the weekly blog of author/editor extraordinaire Philip Athans. He’s a master not only of genre fiction, but also of the craft of writing.

Q: How long does it take you to write a book?

A: When I’m working on a novel and can focus on it exclusively, I think I can produce a first-draft manuscript in between one and two months from the time I sit down to write the outline. I probably spend twice that amount of time polishing, revising, and editing before I look for beta readers.

Q: Have you ever cut anything from your book and why?

A: Not often. As a plotter, I usually get the mechanics of a story down before I actually get into the actual narration. But occasionally inspiration will hit in the midst of a project, showing a better way that makes earlier choices look weak, insignificant, or repetitive. When I do cut things, I drop them into a file for possible use in other projects.

Q: Least favorite thing about writing?

A: The business end of things. All the hoops one has to jump through in the querying process can be dispiriting. I know there’s a secret code that agents and editors use to describe what they’re actually looking for in the slush pile, and I think I’m getting close to cracking it. But, I made the choice to go the traditional-publishing route, so I have accepted the process for what it is.

Q: What do your friends and family think about you being a writer?

A: I imagine they think it quaint or “cute” as it rarely comes up in conversation. My dad is proud of me, though, which is only fitting as it was his monster magazines that used to give me nightmares as a kid.

Q: Most important things a writer should spend money on?

A: This is another tough one for me as I’m a cheapskate who lives a thrift-store lifestyle. I know I’d like to buy myself a really comfy chair and possibly a new computer with an ergonomic keyboard. That might increase my output, but it might also lead to an increase in my body mass.

Q: Least important things a writer should spend money on?

A: Anything that might prove a distraction and keep you from putting words on the page.

Q: How do you measure your success as a writer?

A: If my most-recent story is better than the last one, then I count myself successful. I’d love to be able to put gobs of money in the bank doing this, but sadly, I believe the days of the mega-rich writer are coming to a close as we move toward a post-literate society. With everyone waiting for the movie, video game, or TV adaptation, book and magazine sales are not what they once were and publishers are willing to risk less on new talent. Which makes agents even more choosey in taking on new clients. In this environment, I define my success one story at a time.

Q: What advice would you give to yourself if you were starting the writing journey again?

A: You’re not as good as you think you are. Yes, you’ve got a vivid and outlandish imagination, but you can’t wing this. Writing is an actionable skill just like auto mechanics or computer programming, the more you do it and the more you study it, the better you get. That’s it. There are no shortcuts, so get to learning and get to writing.

As a reader –

Q: What is your favorite genre(s)? Tell us more about why you love them?

A: I love historical fiction and old-fashioned pulp adventures. As for the historical stuff, I’ve always been enamored with military history and other cultures, so when I can learn about them while sinking my teeth into the works of Bernard Cornwell, Sharon Kay Penman, Erich Maria Remarque, and James Clavell, it’s a win-win for me.

On the pulp side, I really dig traditional heroic fantasy, where the daring good guy overcomes nigh impossible odds to beat the dastardly bad guy, such as in the works of Robert E. Howard, Lester Dent, Michael Moorcock, and Fritz Leiber. Even when their “good guys” weren’t necessarily of the white-hat variety, you always knew who the “bad guy” of the story was, and he usually got what was coming to him in the end.

Q: Have you ever skipped something important to stay at home and read a book? Details please!

A: Maybe not so much lately, but I know one time when I was in high school I spent an entire Thanksgiving family get-together hidden away reading Captain Blood. I also recall one summer trip to the pool where I refused to get in the water because I was too busy reading the rulebooks for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Ravenloft boxed set I had just picked up.

Q: What is your favorite book quote?

A: Gosh, just about anything from Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker books. I’ll go with: “‘This must be Thursday… I never could get the hang of Thursdays.’” I’m fond of it because this has always applied to Tuesdays for me for some reason.

Q: Favorite book hero and / or villain and why?

A: I think my favorite hero would have to be Taran from Lloyd Alexander’s The Prydain Chronicles, because when I started reading those books in the sixth grade, Taran and I were about the same age. Over the course of those books I watched him rise from a goofy, immature “assistant pig keeper” to the humble and heroic High King of Prydain, overcoming all manner of supernatural and military foes as well as his own personal foibles along the way. (As a side note, the Princess Eilonwy was my first literary crush.)

My favorite villain has to be Dracula because he is the greatest literary villain of all time. At once timeless and ever-changing, he is the one character who can be all things to all readers in all times. I dream of one day creating a big-bad that can approach Dracula’s level of influence. No doubt he has been the inspiration for countless villains in thousands of books written over the past hundred odd years.

Q: Your most influential book(s)?

A: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque has had a profound influence on me as a person, if not as a writer (though I would like to think it has). Dumas’s Musketeer books, the aforementioned Prydain Chronicles, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and Michael Moorcock’s Elric Saga all come to mind, as well.

Q: Tell us what you are currently reading and your verdict so far?

A: David McCullough’s 1776. I’m almost finished and find it thoroughly engrossing. In fact, I think it should be required reading in U.S. public school American History classes. I’ve got the latest installment of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Tales, Sword of Kings lined up next, and I can’t wait to dive into it headfirst.

Q: If you could have a signed copy of a book by an author (dead or living) what book would it be and why?

A: Ooh, another tough one. I think I’m going to go with a collection of Solomon Kane stories by Robert E. Howard. I don’t know why, but I’ve always preferred the Puritan Swordsman to Conan and Howard’s other Hyperborean heroes, possibly because of my interest in the Elizabethan/Thirty-Years War era.

R.E.H. has become something of an icon for me, and I’d like to think that, since I started my writing career so late in life, that I’m picking up the mantle where he so tragically left off far too young. I know this notion is self-flattery, but it’s also a means of pushing myself to be the best storyteller that I can be. When I compare myself to Howard, I know I’ve got very big shoes to fill.

About the book –

Q: You are living in your latest novel. Where are you living, and what is it like?

A: The Seattle-Tacoma area, the summer of 1947. It would be a nice place to live if not for all the weird lights in the sky.

Q: You are your most recent protagonist. What do you like doing for fun? What do you hate doing and why?

A: Elzebad Summers has been through hell and back in World War II, and now has a lot of responsibilities as the team leader for Project Notebook, so when he gets a chance to unwind, he can over-do it. Drinking beer with the boys and playing darts at the local honky-tonk until closing are probably his biggest vices, but all things being equal, he’d be just as happy taking a leisurely drive through the country in his new convertible… As for what he hates doing, I’d say mowing the yard because so do I.

Blurb for Project Notebook:

In July of 1947, the skies above the state of Washington were filled with strange lights and unidentified objects. When PROJECT NOTEBOOK is dispatched to investigate the Maury Island Incident, the first encounter with the unknown scatters the team across Seattle and Tacoma suffering from amnesia and stalked by mysterious forces.

My Bio:

Jason J. McCuiston has been a semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest and has studied under the tutelage of best-selling author Philip Athans. His stories of fantasy, horror, science-fiction, and crime have appeared in numerous anthologies, periodicals, websites, and podcasts. Project Notebook published by Tell-Tale Press is his first novel.

Stalker Links:


Twitter: @JasonJMcCuiston.

Amazon page:

Author Interview – Don Foxe #Author #books @don_foxe

Today I have the pleasure of introducing author Don Foxe who will be sharing his thoughts on reading and writing, and details of his book series, Sapce Fleet Sagas.

 Don on Writing

Where do you get your ideas?   Combination of history, my life, and current events.

What motivates you to write?      Joy. It’s fun seeing what happens.

How many hours a week do you spend writing?  

This is a bit tricky, because now that I have published works, I find a lot of my time is spent writing for marketing, not just in production of the next story or collection — still, I average two hours/day on fiction alone, so fourteen to fifteen hours/week.

Best thing about writing?

Again, for me, because of how I write, its seeing where the characters take the storyline.

Your biggest writing distractions?          

I own a health club that is BUSY! Sixty to seventy hours a week with that tends to be a bit distracting from everything else.

What are your favorite books or sites you go to for writing tips / advice?

  • Creative Penn
  • Alliance of Independent Authors
  • Books Go Social
  • Writing Forward

How long does it take you to write a book?   

Four to six weeks to flesh out the original story, and five to six months to rewrite so it’s worth publishing.

Have you ever cut anything from your book and why? 

Good Lord, Woman! Who doesn’t cut stuff from their books? In my case my wife forces me to cut science-crap down to a couple of paragraphs from the pages I start with. I love the techie stuff, but I realize the average person goes to sleep. The other thing I have to be careful with is the erotic . . . my novels are adult, but I cut out the vivid descriptions. I do keep them, however, in case I decide to release an erotic sci-fi thriller under another name.

Least favorite thing about writing?

Writing — nothing. I enjoy it all. Marketing, however, sucks. I’m actually quite good at marketing, but the number of mistakes you have to make in order to move forward is daunting.

What do your friends and family think about you being a writer?

Mostly, pride. The books have received high reviews, professional and readers ratings, and the haiku exchanges are fun and inspirational, so people close to me think it’s cool I can pull it all off.

Most important thing a writer should spend money on?

Their spouse. No, only kidding . . . actually, not kidding. You best spend time and money on people you love first. Be VERY CAREFUL about spending money on publishing agents. My first experience cost me a lot, and I learned a lot. DO YOUR RESEARCH if you need a publisher. What I did learn was all you really need is an editor. Pay for a professional edit, and everything else relative to writing-publishing can be done very cheaply.

How do you measure your success as a writer?    

Reviews. Real reviews, not just the ones I pay for to boost getting reviews.

What advice would you give to yourself if you were starting the writing journey again?

#1 — have someone you trust to tell you the truth read your book.

#2 — spend the damn time making it a book, and not just a story. If you don’t want to sweat rewrites, consider another hobby.

#3 — hire an editor, and listen to them! But DO NOT RELY on them. You should have done your own substantial edits before sending a draft to a professional.

#4 — develop a taste for alcohol — I don’t drink, but I understand now why so many “great” writers are alcoholics and drug addicted . . . only kidding . . . again . . . maybe.

As a reader

What is your favorite genre(s)? Tell us more about why you love them?

Urban fantasy. Jim Butcher. Benjamin Jacka. Kat Richardson. Faith Hunter. Kevin Hearne. The genre allows for development of characters by placing them in unimaginable situations. It draws on history, fantasy, myth, and suspense. Because the stories are contemporary, it is easy to empathize and easier to accept the supernatural aspects.

Have you ever skipped something important to stay at home and read a book? Details.

The weekend of July 20 – 22, 2007. A family wedding at a resort planned. Friday night reception dinner. Saturday, early afternoon wedding. After that, we get free time to enjoy the mini-vacation. Only Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows is released July 21st and I, of course, will receive my early-ordered book, and, yes, I am sad to say I felt “too ill” to go with my wife to the wedding. Two things — first, I assume my wife will never read this, even if it gets printed; second – second marriage for the bride and I didn’t like her much anyway . . . and I’m not sure she knows how to read, so I’m pretty safe there.

Favorite book hero and / or villain and why? 

Harry Dresden. Kind of a loser, but with heart. Hero because it gets forced on him. Old world chivalry. He uses magic, but it’s usually thought out, until all hell breaks out and it’s whatever happens happens (like real life).

I honestly cannot think of a villain that stays with me. I think I feel a character coming into my near future.

Your most influential book(s)?      

Call of the Wild / Jack London. I read it when I was four (yep) actually four. I hated it, could not leave it, cried, and hoped, and discovered the magic reading created. More than fifty years later and I donate and do fundraisers for animal recovery and adoption, have never visited Alaska (don’t plan to), and will stop and confront anyone abusing an animal. A neighbor’s pitbull was loose and I watched him put the dog on the sidewalk and place a knee across its neck. I got off my bike, and had to be the funniest looking person ever — you can’t walk tough when your bike shoes have clips, okay! Regardless, he got the message, and he’s been very nice to that dog since.

Tell us what you are currently reading and your verdict so far?

This is going to be a cop-out. I’m reading the eighth book in a series I really enjoyed up until number seven. At that point it seemed the writer was getting a bit tired of his own characters, but I gave him a pass, expecting a bounce-back with the next book. Usually I read a book in a couple of hours, especially one I’m already invested in via a series . . . not so much this time. I’ve had it for two weeks and I haven’t gotten half-way through. So I won’t tell the name or series, just sad he either does not realize what is occurring, or more sad, he doesn’t care.

If you could have a signed copy of a book by an author (dead or living) what book would it be and why?

The Gothenburg Bible – because a signed original would make me rich, and I have no problem professing my desire for ultimate wealth, nor having the mercenary nature necessary to sell something “priceless.”

About the book

You are living in your latest novel. Where are you living, and what is it like?

With an entire galaxy to choose from, I’m living on a small ranch north of Barcelona, Spain. Following the Pandemic, the world’s population is less than half. Ocean Creep has drowned many famous seaports, but Spain took great effort to preserve as much of Barcelona as possible. The city is art. Being able to still walk the downtown, visit museums and galleries, and enjoy the architecture is a short ride away.

On the ranch I have my horses. Just a few so I can ride the surrounding countryside, with invited friends, or, my favorite, alone.

It is sad that so many have perished. It is sometimes frightening when the rule of law is not always enforceable. The Earth appreciates the reprieve, and flourishes.

You are your most recent protagonist. What do you like doing for fun? What do you hate doing and why?

Daniel Cooper – metahuman via reengineering with an expanded lifetime – and I enjoy now what I loved as a kid — climbing. As a toddler climbing porch railings, to a child in the trees, to an adolescent learning to climb and repel in the southern Appalachian Mountains. When I need relief – recharging – escape, any mountainside will do. The more I need to concentrate on the next handhold, the more fun the experience of reaching the top.

Deciding life and death is the most hated part of command because, well, someone will die. Deciding someone will die is even more difficult to live with than killing.

About Don Foxe

Don Foxe lives in the scenic southern town of Bluffton, SC with his wife, Sarah. They own Beach City Health and Fitness on Hilton Head Island, SC, consistently rated the best island lifestyle location in the United States. (

Don’s eclectic professional life includes teaching dance fitness (Zumba – Body Jam); presenter of sales and marketing workshops (several awards in both); peer-review for science-based exercise papers (Member of the American College of Sports Medicine); martial arts group training sessions for fitness and self-confidence (Lifetime Awards from US Martial Arts and World Martial Arts Associations), and writer.

He is a member of the Academy of American Poets and Southern Independent Book Sellers. His attention to detail comes from his passion for poetry, especially the Japanese Haiku form. His background in science-based research is evident in his fiction, as commented on by several professional reviews by Readers Favorite, OnlineBookClub, and BookViral.

Don’s guest blogs appear on sci-fi sites like SFFWorld and writing/publishing powerhouses such as The Creative Penn.

Space Fleet Sagas by Don Foxe

Space Fleet Sagas have been described as the next great Space Opera series by BookViral. The sweeping mythology of a future Earth’s introduction to the galaxy, and the trials and tribulations both in space and at home thatensue following first contact.

The plots cross genres, as political mysteries are solved with lots of action and adventure by humans, aliens, and genetically altered protagonists.

Both collections of haiku poetry reached the top one percent on Amazon literature / poetry charts, and both reached #1 on the Amazon Top 100 for Japanese Poetry / Haiku.

You can also follow Don on his social media sites!

If you have recently published a book and would like to feature in an author interview,  please email me at

Author Interview – Robert J Hamilton @RjRevelations

Today I have the pleasure of introducing author Robert J Hamilton who will be sharing his thoughts on reading and writing, and details of his new book, REVELATIONS The cost of Foresight.

 Robert On Writing

I grew up watching Star Trek – The Next Generation, and that cemented my love for science fiction. It led me to see other shows like the Stargate series, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and the Mass Effect series – a game from Bioware. All those help inspire ideas to make my own new worlds and characters.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If you have a story to tell, take the plunge, and share it with the world. The best thing I learned from my editor was to showmy story, not tell it. Editors are invaluable.

What motivates you to write?

I think it’s a lot of fun, especially after a hard days work. Sometimes I want to escape the realities of this life, and get involved in the story of my character’s lives.

Best thing about writing?

Best thing would be creating new worlds and the people that live in it. It certainly cures boredom.

Least favourite thing about writing?

Re-reading. When I get to edit something – something that adds a little extra detail here or improve on that sentence there, I don’t mind that aspect. But I must have read over my first book more than two or three dozen times as I am somewhat of a perfectionist. My editor told me that eventually, you just have to ‘let it go’.

What is your favourite genre(s)?

Science Fiction. To me, it is one of those few genres, including fantasy, that can take you to places so truly unique, and far out of this world. I like stepping into an author’s mind, seeing what they alone imagined and created.

If you could have a signed copy of a book by an author (dead or living) What book would it be?

Arthur C Clarke’s, ‘A Fall of Moondust’. It was that book I read back in 1998/99 for an assignment I had to do in school that got me into writing a story of my own – which, more than fifteen years later, turned out to be my first book of the Revelation series. I only started writing it for a hobby, as creating my own story was a lot of fun.

Tell us what you are currently reading and your verdict so far?

I am reading Mass Effect Andromeda – Nexus Uprising. It’s a prequel to the events that transpired in the latest Mass Effect game, and my verdict so far? Well I read the first 120 pages before I had to get ready for my night job. I would have read more, otherwise. I’m loving it.

About your book…

You are living in the your latest novel. Where are you living, and what is it like?

I am currently living in an underground city on the dwarf planet of Sedna. It’s dusty, it’s smelly, I hate it. Just last night, one of the environmental control systems in a small wing of the community failed as well as the backup generators. So, that section of the city had to be sealed off – condemning two thousand people to freeze to death. Lucky it wasn’t me.

REVELATIONS by Robert J Hamilton

Accept the future, or fix the past?

Captain John Russell returns to the Milky Way in order to resume his mission to stop the fanatical Dawn of Revelations cult from unleashing the apocalypse upon the Earth. However, he soon discovers that he has arrived centuries too late.

Knowing he is the last hope to save billions of lives, John risks everything to return to his own time and finish the war before it even begins. But John has another challenge to face—the possibility that one of his crew may be secretly working for the enemy. . .

You can also follow Robert on his blog!

If you have recently published a book and would like to feature in an author interview,  please email me at








Author Interview – M.L. Williams

Today I have the pleasure of introducing author M.L. Williams who will be sharing his thoughts on reading and writing, and details of his book, SEERS OF VERDE.

M.L. Williams On Writing

When I start working on a project, many times the characters come to me in my dreams and either demand their story be told or provide me with ideas for future chapters.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Be true to your ideas and put in the time. Writing can be lonely. Find mentors or other writers who can be a support group or sounding board. Don’t let anyone else’s opinions influence you during the writing process.

Best thing about writing?

Seeing these characters unfold and tell their stories is fascinating.

Least favourite thing about writing?

Rewriting and editing.

What is your favourite genre(s)?

Science fiction and that curious oxymoron, historical fiction.

Both genres appeal to my imagination. With science fiction, the themes and characters can be endless, only limited by the imagination. I guess historical fiction appeals to my sense of romance for another period of time.

Have you ever skipped something important to stay at home and read a book? 

Interesting question. I have not gone to parties or social events sometimes, preferring to stay home and read. I also put off chores when in the middle of a good book and read well into the night when I should have gone to bed.

If you could have a signed copy of a book by an author (dead or living) What book would it be?

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I read this in a college literature class and was immediately enraptured by his imagination and sarcastic tone. It sparked my love of other fiction, especially science fiction.

Tell us what you are currently reading and your verdict so far?

I am reading Raptor by Gary Jennings. I have had this book on my shelf for years and just needed time to get to it. His writing and knowledge of history and ancient languages is impressive, but he keeps using different languages throughout the story. I was curious about this author since reviewers have raved about his novel, Aztec. I do not like it when authors flaunt their expertise and vocabulary in ways that detract from the story. It’s difficult to stay with the story when the reader keeps stumbling over arcane references and unfamiliar words.

About your book…

You are living in the your latest novel. Where are you living, and what is it like?

In Return of the Earthers, I would be living on the planet Verde Grande, an abandoned and almost forgotten Earth colony. The planet has one huge land mass. A treacherous mountain range divides the lone continent into two tracts.

The largest one is a huge verdant valley that stretches for hundreds of miles. One group of colonists live there and developed a relatively peaceful society ruled by a ever watchful clan of psychic women — the Seers.

The smaller area is a narrow valley strewn with huge boulders but plentiful with wildlife. A second group of colonists escaped to here during an attack and have developed into a hunter society.

The planet was covered by a thick blanket of moss. Most of the moss has been replaced by Earth plants brought by the bioformers and cultivated by the colonists, who have been living there for almost three centuries. However, the mountain range has retained its much of its native moss so the planet looks like a giant emerald as seen by an orbiting space ship.

 You are your most recent protagonist, What do you like doing for fun?

I am Aron Nels, an orchard keeper. Even though maintaining, pruning and harvesting fruit from the trees is my livelihood, I would not trade this lifestyle for another. Being outside in nature and seeing the benefits of my hard work is extremely gratifying. My family has been doing this for generations. It’s in my blood.

After being imprisoned during a misunderstanding, I am told I am one of the last members of a secret warrior sect that has been fighting to protect its people from attackers sent by the Seers. Due to a forced hypnosis, in which my memories have been suppressed, I refuse to believe I am one of the last surviving warriors.

Seers of Verde by M.L. Williams

Marauders from a renegade planet attack an Earth colony ship forcing landing parties to split into two groups in a desperate attempt to escape. Their vessels are destroyed stranding them without their technology on either side of an imposing mountain range on the planet Verde Grande.

Descendants of a mysterious Seer now protect their people but become the bane of the hunter society on the other side of the mountain.

You can also follow M.L. Williams on his blog!

If you have recently published a book and would like to feature in an author interview,  please email me at