Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose, poetry, and music.

Archive for the category “Writing”

Author Interview: William D. Holland

Today I’m thrilled to have a chat with my very good blogging friend and fellow author, Bill (William D. Holland). This is a return visit, as Bill was also my guest storyteller in January of this year, when he shared an excerpt from his paranormal crime thriller Shadow Over the Hangman’s Noose, the third book in his “Shadows” series.

Welcome back to my blog, Bill…

Very exciting, being interviewed by someone I respect greatly, so thank you Sarah, and hello to my new friends across The Pond.  Sarah has tossed a few questions my way, some softballs, some very hardballs indeed, so I’ll try to answer them all with my trademark bluntness and honesty.

My pleasure, Bill, the respect is mutual and may you gain many more friends from over my side of The Pond 🙂 Now for those softballs and hardballs…

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Bill, was there a defining moment when you decided to become a freelance writer, or did life decide it for you?

Oh my goodness, Sarah, let’s see.  I had always wanted to be a writer, dating back to my college days, but as trite as it may sound, life had other plans for me . . . and then I managed to get in my own way for a number of years, blocking any possible progress.  So the turning point you are asking about came eight years ago when I realized that the teaching profession, after eighteen years, was not what I envisioned it being.  It was moving in a direction I could not live with, and so one day I tossed my keys to the principal of the school and told her to have a good life.  The next day I declared myself to be a writer.  I had no financial safety net and not one clue how to actually be a freelance writer, but by God that’s what I told the world . . . I am a writer!!!

Before you started your blog “Artistry with Words”, you had a blog titled “The Happy Life as an Alcoholic” and 5 years ago you self-published a 52-page eBook titled Loving life as an alcoholic. Why did you equate the words “happy” and “loving” with the alcoholism and what made you decide to kick the addiction?

The second question is the easy one to answer: I decided to begin recovery because I was miserable and I didn’t want to die.  It’s been over ten years now and I still don’t want to die.

Happy and loving?  Without alcohol dictating my every move in life, I am now free to enjoy life and love myself and others, and that’s what I try to do daily.  I love life; always did when I was younger, and now that I’m not drinking I love it again.

As a side note, I no longer write in that “alcohol” blog because I don’t want to be known as a writer who only writes about addiction.  I’m so much more than a recovering alcoholic.  I’m not a writer who writes about addiction, nor am I just a writer who is recovering.  I prefer to think of myself as a spiritual being having a human experience.

You’ve self-published 15 full-length books, although I counted 26 publications in all, if you include the shorter publications. Did you ever submit any of your works to traditional publishers, or did you decide to self-publish from the start?

No, I didn’t start out self-publishing.  When I began writing novels, my goal, and my dream, was to be picked up by a major publishing firm, and then fame and fortune would follow shortly after that.  My first three novels were pitched to many, many publishers, to no avail.  After that I decided the publishing game had changed, and my best chance at any exposure was to simply self-publish.  I have no regrets, by the way.   I love writing, so even if my circle of followers is relatively small, and sales are modest, I still get to do what I love doing, and that is writing and telling a story.

And without trying to sound all Pollyanna, if I didn’t make a penny on my novels, I would still write them.

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So far I’ve read and enjoyed (in a nail-biting sense of the word) your novel Shadows Kill, which you describe as “Death Wish” meets “Silence of the Lambs” and is the first book in your Shadow Thriller series. Why does someone as mild-mannered, peace-loving, and gentle as you choose to write such dark and visceral fiction?

There are two influences, actually.  When I was a child the famous serial killer, Ted Bundy, was our paperboy (he delivered newspapers to homes in our neighbourhood).  Once it was discovered that he was a serial killer, it was only natural to become fascinated by the dynamics of an evil human being appearing so normal, and Bundy did, in fact, appear very normal.

I then became fascinated by the concepts of “Good and Evil.” What if there is a real entity of Evil?  What if it invaded the bodies of humans and guided them on evil lives?  And what if there were those among us who are chosen to fight Evil?

That is the basis for my Shadow Series of novels.

With which of your literary characters do you identify the most and why?

That would be Tobias King, the main character in Resurrecting Tobias.  It is as close to an autobiography as I am likely to write.  Toby is me and I am Toby.  A great deal of the story is fictional, but the spirit of the story, and the spirit of Toby . . . well, read it and you’ll catch a glimpse of me growing up, maturing, falling, and finally finding happiness.

Are all of your novels set in your home town of Olympia near Washington? If so, how much artistic license do you take with the setting; in other words, would locals recognise the locations? And (you don’t have to answer this last bit) are your literary characters composites of people you know, plus bits of yourself?

I would say 90% of my novels take place in Olympia. The only exception, really, was Resurrecting Tobias, which takes place in a number of different locations, but they are all locations I have visited or lived in.  And really, I take very little artistic license with Olympia at all.  Locals would most definitely recognize streets and actual businesses that I write about.

Characters are definitely composites of people I have known, or do know.  I’ve mentioned this before: I am basically a lazy writer when it comes to inventing characters and doing research for locations.  I write what I know about almost all of the time, and that includes people.  I’ve lived sixty-eight years and during that time I have met some fascinating people.

This year you’ve taken a break from novel-writing to concentrate on self-publishing 3 colouring (coloring) books, which I believe have yielded some healthy local sales, especially at the farmers’ market where you also sell quails eggs and herbs. Why have you diversified into producing colouring books and would you advise other novelists to diversify rather than focus on one area of creativity?

There were a few reasons for the coloring books. I wanted another item I could sell at the markets, so I did one for each of the two cities where the markets are located (their histories) and one about urban farming.

The second reason was because I had spent the better part of the four previous years writing novels that were dark and gloomy, and it was affecting me in a negative way.  I could sense my mood darkening and that is not a good thing for this boy.  Alcoholics should not spend too much time in the darkness if it can be avoided.

Finally, I switched gears because I felt my novel-writing was getting a bit stale.  I needed a break from my characters and I suspect they needed a break from me.

Would I recommend diversification?  Definitely if you are a freelance writer who needs the income from your writing endeavours.  And truthfully, I recommend a switching-of-gears for any writer from time to time. I think it helps a writer to grow when a new challenge is faced, and I think it helps a writer to remain fresh in his/her writing. Staleness is an easy trap to fall into, and a comfortable place to be.  I’ve seen quite a few well-known authors fall into that trap, when they should have retired five years earlier.

Who in your life has inspired and/or influenced you the most?

You said “in your life” so my answer is about life in general, and that person would definitely be my father.  He died many years ago, when I was nineteen, but the lessons he taught me are still with me today.  I still miss him greatly and it’s almost been fifty years since I saw him last.

His influence?  Hard-work….focus….treating others with respect….never complain….find answers, not excuses….family and friends are treasures and should always be protected….get the most out of your talent and then push for more….these are things which will be with me until I join him in the next realm.

Who is your favourite author?

There are three who have influenced me greatly: Harper Lee, James Lee Burke, and John Steinbeck . . . master storytellers, exquisite creators of scenes, and an ability to see the grimy, gritty underbelly of life, in very realistic ways, without glorifying it.

What is your next project?

I’m currently on the second draft of my next “Shadows” novel, this one called “Shadows Fall on Rosarito.” That will be the fourth in that paranormal-thriller series.  And I’m halfway through the fifth in that series.  The working title for that one is currently “Shadows Embrace Mary and Her Little Lamb.”  Once those two books are finished I’ll get to work on a “coming of age” story about my life during the 60’s with my best friend Frank.  It will be dedicated to Frank because, well, he’s dying of cancer right now and it’s important, to me, that he be immortalized.  Good people always should be, don’t you think?

Thank you so much for the questions, Sarah.  I hope others find my answers interesting.  If they want, they can find me on my blog at www.artistrywithwords.com, and all of my novels can be found on that blog as well as at Amazon under the name William D. Holland.

Again, thank you!

Friday Fictioneers — Rewind

Genre: Mainstream fiction
Word count: 100

REWIND 

“Over & out” (your last text message).

No, I didn’t mean it. Come back…

My fingers type panicked nonsense.

Text not sent. The word “not” blanks me, as an opaque oblivion wedged between two possibilities.

This is the story of my life, its path strewn with the litter of my impetuosity.

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“Love u xxxx” (your first text message).

No, you can’t mean it. Moi?

My fingers type lovey-dovey nonsense in ecstatic knots, rendered more rubbishy through my somersaulting heart.

Text sent. “Am counting the minutes” you reply. The possibilities are endless, but I know this relationship will end in disaster…   

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 Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo Prompt: copyright © Ted Strutz

#Tanka 33 — Light and Shadow (plus some scintillating “shades of”)

In June meadow land,
she meets her silly shadow
and it makes her laugh.
Winter’s black dog locked in cage;
birds, bees, butterflies abound.

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I dedicate this tanka poem to my shadow, which needs locking up in a cage permanently, if it can’t behave itself.

Last week, I reached the conclusion that I was flogging a dead horse with the juvenile fiction market; I just don’t write the type of novel that appeals to contemporary children or young adults. Okay, full stop and amen to that.

Fast forward to this week, by which time my shadow had convinced me that I should give up novel-writing altogether.

On Monday morning, I went to check the results of the First Three Pages of a Novel Competition in The University of Winchester Writers’ Festival. As I scrolled down the page in search of them, my shadow said, “You’re deluded if you expect to find your name there, considering you’re probably up against brilliant writers, including MA creative writing students.” Then I read this…

Highly Commended: ‘Counting Magpies’ – Sarah Potter

To my utter amazement, I had reached the top six with the opening pages and synopsis of my adult speculative fiction novel. But it gets better, because in the reviewer feedback, amid some wonderfully encouraging comments, it said the magic words

…shades of Margaret Atwood and Naomi Alderman.

Well, those are some “shades” I can deal with; the sun has definitely got his hat on and is coming out to play.

Friday Fictioneers — Lipstick and High Heels

Genre: Mainstream fiction
Word Count: 100

~~LIPSTICK AND HIGH HEELS~~

“Lunar, my dear, you’ve a heavenly body but, for heaven’s sake, keep your mouth shut in front of my parents.”

“What’s it worth?”

“My everlasting love.”

“Liar! All you care about is your inheritance.”

“Not so. I just don’t want my snot-bag of a sister getting her hands on the money.”

“What if she’s at the dinner party, too, and wants to engage in girl-talk.”

“She doesn’t do girl-talk. …Look, it’s essential that my parents don’t get wind of my sexuality, or they won’t leave me a penny.”

“I can’t wait to kick off these stilettos and become Michael again.”

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 Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo Prompt: image copyright © Dale Rogerson

Friday Fictioneers — Nineteen years later

Many thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for choosing one of my pictures as the Photo Prompt for Friday Fictioneers this week.

Last week, some of you will remember that I wrote some alternate lyrics to the song “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” but, because of the 100-word restriction, had to end mid-verse and complete my word count with the promise of a further instalment for this week. Well I meant that as a joke, but a few people said they were looking forward to Part II, so here it is!

For those who missed “The Crazy Bears’ Battle” last week and wonder what on earth is happening below, here’s the link. And please feel free to sing along to both instalments.

Genre: Alternative song lyrics
Words: 100

THE TOMBOY AND HOMICIDAL DOLL’S VENGEANCE

If grown lads go to the potting shed
They’re in for a huge surprise
If grown lads go to the potting shed
It could end in their demise. 

For every year since skiving from school
They’ve met up there for certain
Because today’s the day they
Commemorate that battle.
 

Laughter time for lazy louts.
The pot-smoking hillbillies are having
A dopey time today.

Watch that doll creep up on them
And see her snaggle-teeth go clickety-clack.
 

See her bite the lads with glee.
They’re off their heads alright,
They never feel a thing…

Epilogue: ‘Rich Compost For The Asparagus Bed’

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To read other Friday Fictioneers’ stories for this week, or to add a 100-word story of your own, please click on the blue frog below.

 

Friday Fictioneers: The Crazy Bears’ Battle

Genre: Alternative song lyrics
Word count: 100

THE CRAZY BEARS’ BATTLE

If girls go down to the mudflats today
They’re in for a foul surprise.
If girls go down to the mudflats today
They’d better go in disguise!

The worst boy’s gang that ever existed
Will gather there for certain,
Because today’s the day the
Crazy bears fight a battle.

Wrestling time for crazy bears
The mud-slinging boys’ bears are having
A filthy time today.
Watch them catch dolls unawares,
And see them battle on their skive from school.

See them pelt the dolls with mud.
They love to taunt the girls…

Next week’s instalment: The Tomboy and Homicidal Doll’s Vengeance

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo prompt: image copyright (c) Karuna

Friday Fictioneers — The Ancient School at “D–wh–n-e”

This week’s photo prompt brought to mind the horrendous terrorist attack in Manchester on Monday night. I am so overwhelmed with emotions about this, that it has rendered me mute with regard to such atrocities. Therefore, I’m going to avoid the subject of explosions and move forward to the year 2183 and write about a ruin instead.

This is another chance for you to meet Morag in my not-yet unpublished novel Counting Magpies. On the previous occasion she was in York, having trouble with her decrepit bicycle (A Rare Specimen). This time, she’s in the Highlands of Scotland in a village that has some of the letters missing from its signpost.

Come on, you clever clogs. Let’s see who’s going to be the first to fill in those blank letters (each em dash stand for two missing letters and the hyphen for one)…

Genre: Dystopian speculative fiction
Word count: 100

~~THE ANCIENT SCHOOL AT “D–WH–N-E”~~

I pick my way through the rubble, tripping once and almost twisting my ankle on a rusted kettle.

At first I mistake the bundle for a heap of rags, until I prod it with the plank and turn it over. The thing has a face, or rather bones with empty eye sockets and a gaping jaw. I let out a reflexive scream, despite knowing a skull can’t harm me. The rest of the skeleton is clothed in rags covered in mildew. 

Who was this person with unusually long leg and foot bones and narrow hipbones? Perhaps it was a man.

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo prompt: image copyright © J Hardy Carroll

Friday Fictioneers — Fixing The Past

Genre: Time Travel
Word count: 100

~~FIXING THE PAST~~

“Have we met before?”

“I don’t think so.” Before and after, actually.

“You look so familiar.”

“They say that everybody has a double somewhere in the world.”  He shouldn’t remember me.  Have I returned once too often?

“I finish at nine. Perhaps we could have a drink.”

“Yes, why not?” That demon, alcohol. Why do I keep returning to this point in time? It’s too late to save him.

“I’m looking forward to it, babe.”

“Likewise. But I’ve an errand to run between now and then.” Off to locate that 12-year-old boy and lace his first alcoholic drink with purgatives.

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo Prompt: image copyright © Roger Bultot

Friday Fictioneers — She Needs Glasses

auto-aftermath

Genre: Humour
Word count: 100

~~SHE NEEDS GLASSES~~

That idiot human has just demolished my home and scattered my babies to the wind. I’ve lived here forever, festooning the wing mirror on the passenger side of the car with webs built to ensnare a bountiful roadkill of gnats and resist a driving speed of 70 mph.

The Idiot isn’t car-proud and only washes her steel beast once or twice a year, at which time I reel in the main lines of my webs and retreat to safety behind the mirror cover casing.

My size makes me easy to overlook, but a giant brick pillar is quite another matter.

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo Prompt: Image copyright © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Friday Fictioneers — The Deal

Genre: Fiction
Word Count: 100

~~THE DEAL~~

When my name was Humphrey, I had Aspergers and lived in a room with closed curtains. My mother bought me pizza with carrot and jam topping every day.

When I became Jared, I still had Aspergers and lived in my room, but belonged to a worldwide community that appointed me their hacker-in-chief.

Now I’m in a strange room with bars on the windows and no curtains. A man says to me, “Humphrey, you have two options. Either you go to prison, or you work for us.”

“Will you bring me pizza with carrot and jam topping every day?” I ask.

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo Prompt: copyright © Sandra Crook

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