A newly minted author shows off her published book, on breaking all the rules in fantasy, and how to be sensitive when writing about disabilities

Timothy Pike, editor-in-chief

A Letter from the Editor

Welcome, readers and writers, to another issue of Books & Buzz Magazine!

There’s exciting news about one of our ChapterBuzz writers: Tiffany S. Doran is now a published romance author! For years, this talented storyteller has been working hard to prepare her manuscript for publication—and prepare herself for the life of an author—and she finally achieved it. As one of her longtime mentors, I couldn’t be more proud. I’ve been working with her for the last several months to create the book and release it for sale on Amazon. Check out how it all came together.

You can read her novel, Desires of the Heart, on Kindle Unlimited or order it as a paperback. Either way, Tiffany would be thrilled to have your support.

Want to get going on your own novel? If you’ve ever had writer’s block, or feel like perfectionism or a tendency to procrastinate has been holding you back, join creative writing expert Nancy Strauss in this free writing class via Zoom. Nancy has helped hundreds of writers bring out their full potential, and the valuable information in this free class can help you, too.

Let’s take a look at what’s in this issue:

This month, we’re proud to once again feature award-winning fantasy author Sebastien de Castell on the cover. Sebastien set out to defy reader expectations in his most recent release, The Malevolent Seven, after noticing the fantasy genre was becoming overly formalized, with strict conventions emerging for characters and settings. “I was pushing back against that,” he says. “writing an unruly fantasy novel that would barrel along without regard for more modern sensibilities. I was going to write not to entertain someone else’s expectations but instead to entertain myself and refuse to worry about whether the book would ever sell to a publisher.” In our interview, Sebastien tells me how much his novel changed from first draft to last, why he needs to be able to identify with all of his characters, and how he celebrates finishing a book.

Next, illustrator and thriller novelist Joanna Vander Vlugt explains what comes next once you’ve typed “The End” on the first draft of your story. “Now the challenging work begins, prepping that manuscript for publication,” she says. “You’ve decided to self-publish. What does that entail? A lot.” Joanna recommends hiring professionals to design and edit your book—and that’s just the beginning. Connecting with other writers in online groups, promoting the book with the help of a publicist, and producing an audiobook version of your novel are also items she insists you should add to your to-do list, as they can be effective ways of getting your name out there.

Then, author Katie Marie calls our attention to an injustice she often sees in horror stories: people with disabilities being portrayed in a way that makes them out to be monsters. “They themselves are the threat, the horror, or victim of demonic possession,” Katie writes. “This kind of horror minimizes the suffering of … a tragic disease for thrills and scares.” So what’s the solution? For writers, an awareness of the problem and a commitment to fair portrayal of people with disabilities is a good start.

And finally, we hear from authors Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey, who write thrillers that center around technology. It’s one of those fields that lends itself to exciting stories, but can also expose the dangers of a world that’s constantly evolving as it moves forward. “Our professional career taught us that the benefits of technology outweigh the risks,” they write. “We also find it only takes one conniving manipulator with evil intentions to ruin it for the rest of us.” But other than the presence of a villain, there are several more elements a story needs in order to be great. Find out what they are and how your stories can benefit.

It’s time I stopped talking about it and let you get into it! Take a break, find a cozy place to curl up, and enjoy this month’s issue of Books & Buzz Magazine.

Happy reading,

Timothy Pike
Editor-in-chief, Books & Buzz Magazine

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