Robert Bidinotto is the author of HUNTER, a #1 Kindle bestseller in “Mysteries & Thrillers” and “Romantic Suspense.” The recent sequel in his Dylan Hunter thriller series, BAD DEEDS, is garnering scores of five-star reviews from enthusiastic Amazon readers. As a former Staff Writer for Reader’s Digest, Robert earned a national reputation as an authority on criminal justice with his investigative crime articles. His nonfiction books, articles, essays, and magazine editing have won top national awards. He lives on the Chesapeake Bay with his musician wife, Cynthia, and their stridently individualistic cat, Luna—who plays a supporting role in the Dylan Hunter thrillers.

Welcome, Robert.

Hi, Lisette. Thanks for inviting me to chat.

You call yourself “the vigilante author.” Can you tell us why you adopted this label for yourself?

Well, all my life — since I watched The Lone Ranger and Zorro on TV, and read Batman comics as a kid during the Fifties and Sixties — justice has been a central motivating interest. In fact, that was the dominant theme of my prior career work as an investigative journalist, commentator, reviewer, blogger, editor, and nonfiction author. So I suppose it’s no surprise that it would become the central theme of my fiction-writing, too.

Like me, the hero of my Dylan Hunter thrillers is motivated by a fierce passion for justice. He can’t walk away when injustices are committed against those he cares about. And you can’t always get justice from “The System”; in fact, quite the contrary. So that’s why Dylan Hunter became a vigilante — why I refer to him as “the new face of justice” — and why I refer to myself as “The Vigilante Author.”

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I have been writing since I was a little kid and first fell in love with language.

What is your latest book?

It’s titled BAD DEEDS. It’s the second in the Dylan Hunter thriller series. It picks up where the first book, HUNTER, leaves off.


In HUNTER, the two main characters, Dylan Hunter and Annie Woods, meet and fall deeply in love. However, both are hiding things from each other — and it turns out that those secrets inadvertently propel them into a wrenching personal conflict. He is a crusading newspaper reporter, but on a deadly, private mission. She is a CIA officer, on the trail of an unknown assassin. Neither knows these things about the other . . . or that a sadistic predator is hunting them both.


In BAD DEEDS, the two lovers are recovering, physically and emotionally, from their previous ordeal. Dylan now wants desperately to live a normal life with Annie. But he’s the kind of man who simply can’t walk away when his friends become victims of injustice. This puts a huge strain on their relationship — and it also puts both their lives in grave danger.

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

We’ve all read series that go stale, where the author seems out of fresh ideas, starts to repeat tired old tropes, and is just “mailing it in.” The biggest challenge is to prevent that from happening.

In my case, Lisette, I hope to avoid that in three ways. First, to come up with a startlingly fresh “high concept” for each book’s plot. Second, to reveal more and more about the key characters, and to have them evolve and grow to meet the new challenges. Third, to spice things up by introducing interesting new characters.

If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?

For BAD DEEDS, I’ve actually advertised it on a business card. It says: What price would a hero pay in his quest for justice?

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

All the time. Because as they take form on the page, they reveal more and more of themselves. One of my favorite characters in the novels is a morbidly obese research genius nicknamed “Wonk.” I had only a vague impression of him when I introduced him in HUNTER. But in the debut scene, everything he said and did was so damned funny that I nearly fell off my chair laughing. He continues to surprise and amuse me—and readers—in BAD DEEDS.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

Much to my surprise, Lisette, I find that I really love writing dialogue. Before I began, I thought that would be my biggest challenge; but instead I find that it flows easily and authentically. Again to my surprise — because I have a very organized, logical, methodical mind — I find that plotting is a huge challenge, at times grueling. My plots are devious and complex, so I can’t write them “seat of the pants”: I have to plan them out meticulously in advance. That early planning stage is an ordeal. But once I get started actually writing, the process becomes thoroughly enjoyable.

I organize my projects using a novel-writing software program called “Write It Now.” (

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

As I just indicated, I’m completely methodical — almost OCD about it. I plan and write linearly and sequentially, chapter by chapter.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

Yes. Both. I know at least in general terms what the ending will be; I work out the details of actions and dialogue on the fly. And for me, the title either symbolizes or is somehow integral to the theme or plot of the book, so I like to choose it ahead of time.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

There’s no “one right way” to write a book. But again, because I’m an obsessive planner, I edit a lot as I go. That means I write only a single draft, and I have only polishing and proofreading to do when it’s done.

After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

I had no expectations with HUNTER, since it was my first novel. It felt good, but I wasn’t totally certain. The reader response and reviews were sensational, though, to my surprise and delight.

But that put enormous pressure on me as I wrote BAD DEEDS. At first, I wondered if I had only one story in me. I had great trouble being objective about the book as I wrote; I was second-guessing many of my choices.

Finally, I had to order myself to forget all expectations, my own or my fans’, and just finish the thing. I did, not knowing whether it was any damned good. Well, to my huge relief, reader response to BAD DEEDS has been even better than it was to HUNTER. It’s sustaining a cumulative Amazon customer rating of 4.9 out of a possible 5.0. At the moment, 96 out of 101 reader reviews are “5-star” raves. Which still stuns me.

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

Very important. Somehow, names evoke certain images and emotions. Sometimes a character’s name can subtly suggest things about his or her personality and nature. You also want them to be distinctive and memorable. That’s why I had the hardest time naming my hero character. I knew that I had to get that right, above all. I went through scores of possible name combinations before I settled on Dylan Lee Hunter.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Write for yourself: Don’t compare yourself to, or try to imitate, anyone else.

Follow your passions: Write the story you have to tell.

And, finally, honor your craft: Don’t settle for the second-rate in anything connected with your book’s content or its production values.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

Tons of research, for both novels. For HUNTER, I had to learn a lot about the spy business, tactics, and gadgets. I already knew a lot about the news business and the legal system, but not everything I needed to know. I had to learn about sniper weapons, handguns, ammunition, and “silencers” (suppressors); about a variety of vehicles and their capabilities; about a host of locations in and around Washington, D.C.

For BAD DEEDS, I had to add to all the preceding store of knowledge, but add arcane research about explosives, all kinds of aircraft and flight procedures, electronic surveillance and jamming devices, computer hacking techniques, cold-water snorkel diving, landmark buildings and sites in Washington, locales around the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, and a lot more.

For all of this, I read a lot of books and articles; I did detailed online research; and I vetted specific scenes past various experts. I also used Google Maps and its “street view” to “visit” many locations that I couldn’t visit in person.

The real art of fiction writing is to drop this accumulated knowledge into a story judiciously, without getting pedantic and overly detailed, just to show off. The goal is only to add authenticity to the story, making it credible for readers.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I keep it entirely to myself. Finishing a book is very difficult. I think an author can fritter away his motivation to continue if he prematurely shares with others the tale as it emerges.

You’re a big advocate of self-publishing over traditional publishing. This is a topic of endless fascination for many people. Can you elaborate?

Up until the past few years, if a writer wanted to find and reach readers, there was only one route: traditional publishing. And traditional publishing, built on paper-and-ink books, existed in a world of limits. Limited shelf space in bookstores meant only a limited number of authors and print titles could be accommodated. So publishers and agents came to function as “gatekeepers,” vetting what could and couldn’t be published and sold. And success was fleeting: The minute a book’s sales began to decline, it would be remaindered, pulped, and usually placed “out of print,” to be replaced on those jammed shelves by something new. Traditional publishing was and remains a zero-sum world, where the success of one book or author comes at the expense of others.

This arrangement left countless writers out in the cold. Regardless of their talent or their works’ merits, they were at the mercy of publishing’s gatekeepers, who stood between them and their readers. It was a buyer’s market, where contracts were skewed heavily in the publishers’ favor, and most writers could only earn a pittance.

But with the emergence of online retailing, suddenly we had unlimited “virtual” shelf space to display and sell books. Next, the emergence of inexpensive ebooks provided another way of transcending the inherent limitations of the paper-and-ink book world. Online retailing, ebooks, and “print on demand” technology have, in turn, sparked the Self-Publishing Revolution. Now any writer can reach his readers directly, with no gatekeepers standing in the way. And she can keep all her rights and the lion’s share of royalties, too. Self-publishing is rocking the foundations of the print-book publishing model, to the long-term benefit of both authors and readers.

Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

For all the reasons I’ve mentioned, you lose nothing if you choose the self-publishing route, at least first. If you later want to pursue a publisher, you’ll have an easier time of it if you can show some self-publishing success.

Your website is a fantastic resource for authors planning to self-publish. What are some of the most common mistakes that self-published authors (especially new ones) make?

Thanks. Many of the fatal mistakes that indie authors make arise from impatience. Because it’s so quick and easy to publish now, too many rush their work into the world without proper preparation. They don’t take enough time to first learn the ropes of self-publishing. They release books with amateurish covers, or without getting adequate editorial or “beta-reader” feedback and proofreading. They don’t take time to carefully craft the “product description” for their book’s online sales pages, to make it a sizzling sales pitch. All these things blare “AMATEUR!” to prospective online buyers. Then these writers wonder why their books don’t sell.

Above all, many don’t take time to learn their craft. Writing a book, especially fiction, is challenging. If a writer wishes to succeed, he or she must devote the time to study the art of storytelling and to practice. Many now-bestselling authors who wrote a lot of manuscripts before they ever sought to publish anything.

What advice can you give to the author who has self-published and made these dreaded mistakes and wants to start anew?

Great question! One cool thing about self-publishing is that no mistake is ever permanent. In traditional publishing, if you somehow blew it or your books stopped selling, you might never again get a publishing contract. But as an indie author, you can “unpublish” a flawed novel, totally rework it, give it a new cover and title, then reissue it to give it a second chance. Or a third. You can change your product description, experiment with pricing, try new marketing concepts — even publish new work under a pen name. My advice is to treat mistakes as a learning experience rather than a disaster, and just move on.

It must be very gratifying to help set so many authors on the right road. What motivated you to become such an advocate for your fellow authors? How has doing so impacted your life?

Lisette, before I ever wrote or published my first novel, HUNTER, I sought out advice from highly successful self-published authors. The indie community is extraordinarily generous in sharing information. Among those who were hugely, personally helpful to me were bestselling fantasy author Michael J. Sullivan and his wife Robin, who gave local seminars on self-publishing to writers, and who spent time with me answering questions and giving advice. I also voraciously read the blogs of indie superstars like Joe Konrath, Bob Mayer, and Dean Wesley Smith.

As I compiled for myself all the wisdom and tips they shared, it felt only right to “pay it forward” to other struggling and aspiring authors. I put together an informal 20-page document I call “New Paths to Publishing,” which I send as an email attachment to any writer who asks for my help. I have also posted a great deal of self-publishing and marketing information on my blog, “The Vigilante Author.”

The rewards? Writing is a very tough gig. Success is rare and the path to it can be heartbreaking. Though I’ve been lucky enough to win a measure of success, I’ve struggled for years and been exactly where most writers are. So, I empathize with them, and I take great personal satisfaction whenever they tell me that something I’ve shared has really helped them.

Authors, especially Indies, are constantly trying to understand why some authors sell very well while their talented fellow authors have a hard time of it. It’s an ongoing conundrum. What do you make of it all?

Even though some hot-selling authors may not be as talented, or as careful craftsmen, they almost always share one quality: They are great storytellers. Readers will forgive a lot of flaws and deficiencies if an author can keep them spellbound and turning pages.

Promotion is a thorn in the side of most authors. How does an author figure out how to promote and where to promote—especially authors with limited budgets?

Promotion is important. Books don’t just sell themselves. But authors who think that a publisher will take all the marketing off their shoulders are in for a rude awakening. If you want your books to sell, you will have to devote some time to marketing.

As to “how”: The book marketplace is evolving so quickly that anything I say here is going to be dated in six months. I offer a lot of advice on “The Vigilante Author,” and as I learn new things, I try to share them there.

One of the key things I believe an author should focus on is to develop her own unique “brand,” something that distinguishes them and attracts their target readers. Their brand ought to be based on their personal “why” — their motive for writing. Your why will determine your how, the means you employ to implement it — and also your what: the specific works that embody your how.

For example, my “why” is justice. My “how” is writing. My “what” is the Dylan Hunter vigilante thriller series. It sounds simple, almost banal. But understanding this has allowed me to focus my marketing and develop a clear brand. I know that all my marketing has to center on the “justice” theme. And when I do that, it attracts readers who share that interest.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I use Facebook a lot. I make friends there, writing about a variety things that interest me. People who share my interests and views show up and comment, and we all seem to enjoy it. On my blog, I try to be helpful to fellow writers, with a lot of specific topical advice posts, and to thriller readers, with items of topical interest.

Generally, if people like you and appreciate your assistance, they’ll become invested emotionally in your own work and success, as well. To me, it’s all about making friends and being a good friend.

I do think you have to be selective. Don’t try to promote on a lot of platforms; it’ll drive you crazy and rob you of writing time. Focus on just a few — maybe a blog, plus one social media site (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.), plus one genre discussion board. Try to put something new up regularly, so people keep coming back to visit.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

No book can or will appeal to everyone. Think of your favorite three books. Now, go on Amazon and look at the reviews. I guarantee that they will have at least some very negative reviews. If the great books you love get negative reviews, you’ll realize just how silly and unimportant they are. Ignore them.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

It is hugely important. The cover signals to your prospective reader the genre and style of the book. A bad cover can deter that reader from exploring any further. A good one can attract thousands of the right kind of readers.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?

That I should have started writing fiction thirty years ago, instead of five years ago.

Care to brag about your family?

Absolutely! I have some adorable ladies in my life. First, my dear, patient wife, Cynthia. She is an extraordinarily talented musician with a heart bigger than the planet. I don’t know how she puts up with me, but she does, and she makes me a better human being. Without her, I’d become a misanthropic recluse. Second, my daughter, Katrina — a dazzling young woman of remarkable beauty, intelligence, sensitivity, and grace. Third and fourth, her daughters: my teenaged granddaughter Doria, and little two-plus-year-old Enid. Both are brilliant, talented, spirited, and clever. I am a lucky, lucky man.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I love singing, and my voice isn’t half-bad. I sang Sinatra to my wife at our wedding reception, with a jazz quintet backup, and I’ve done that on other public occasions since. If I weren’t a writer, who knows? I might be a club singer in the Poconos.

What was the most valuable class you ever took in school? Why?

A junior high history class — and not for its content, but because it was taught by a teacher whose gentle encouragement and direction changed my life. His name, for the record, was Bob Gardner. He died years ago, but I’ll never forget him.

If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?

I love “Person of Interest” and “The Americans,” as you might expect of a thriller writer. I also love the inspiration of young talent, so I really enjoy “The Voice” and “America’s Got Talent.” I enjoy other shows, but those are my top tier.

What’s your favorite film of all times?

A Man for All Seasons. A flawless film with consummate production values. The writing, direction, and acting by an incredible cast simply couldn’t be improved upon. It’s deeply inspiring, with a profound and timeless message about personal integrity.

Favorite book?

Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. The inspiring, iconic novel of individualism and integrity, filled with penetrating psychological insight. You never look at the world quite the same way after reading that book.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Shhhhh! Anyone listening? Okay . . . the movie Twister. Lisette, I’ve seen the stupid thing many times, but still can’t stop tuning in whenever I spot it on TV — even though it is filled with every lame cliché imaginable. It’s just an addictive roller coaster ride, ingeniously paced. No redeeming social value whatsoever.

Just don’t you dare tell anyone I said so.

Your secret is safe with me, Robert. Thanks for a wonderful and informative interview.



First book: HUNTER

Second book: BAD DEEDS

Amazon Author Page



Facebook Author Page




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John Pirillo was born in the coal-mining town of Avella, Pennsylvania. He cut his teeth on all the books in the local public library, read every comic book he could get his hands on, played with imaginary friends, got a degree in film and a Master’s in Experimental Animation from Disney’s school, Cal Arts.

John loves animation of almost any kind, music, art of most kinds, the laughter of children, old Disney cartoons, Redwoods, ocean views, lakes and rivers, friendship, love, writing and teaching and Robby the Robot.

Time to chat with John!

You have quite a background in art, from your 3D design skills to abstract art, character designs, landscapes, and architecture. Was writing always a part of your life, too?

More so than art actually. Though I’ve always loved working with colors and shadows, even as a child. I spent years illustrating children’s books and stories for a huge club in California at one time. I currently have some children’s picture books in e-book format, which I used my 3D design skills to create. And I am offering free children’s stories on my children’s blog.

My first serious writing was done in seventh grade after the Russians launched Sputnik. I wrote it for my English class with Mister Bronze. It was about an American Astronaut who hid aboard the Sputnik to sabotage it so it couldn’t deliver an atomic bomb on the United States as planned. Kind of a James Bond in Outer Space sort of thing.

I owe Mister Bronze for my best writing skill, speed typing. He forced me to learn typing over a summer because my personal handwriting is so terrible…”Looks like chicken scratching.” In his words.

Your writing has as much diversity as your artistic endeavors. You write adventure, fantasy, science fiction, and thrillers. What common elements do you find in these different genres? Do you have a favorite?

The common element or theme really that runs through my stories is that man is more than a physical body and that it is our great individual spirit that helps us to triumph over all odds, not our intellect alone. I suppose that’s why I’ve always been so strongly attracted to writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne and H.G.Wells, to name a few, who had at the basis of their writings a nobility of spirit, adventure and wonder.

The genre I favor the most is a relatively new one, which is a blend of British air and mysticism, utilizing paranormal events, where magic and investigative skills drive the stories action, but the basic theme being our soul is at stake if we don’t do the right thing.

I suppose this is why I’ve always been so strongly attracted to the Golden Age Writers. They cut new inroads into genre writing, incorporating the best of the older Wells/Verne/Doyle colors of writing.

What is your latest book?

Journey to the Center of the Earth, “The Advent”

It’s part of a new series that will take at least three novels, perhaps as many as nine to complete. As I write it I keep finding more stories to tell within the scope of the theme.

I’m in the first proof stage of this novel.


I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

Moriarity, “Infinite Worlds, Infinite Choices.” I am on the final proof now and I think this will be the last. If so, it should be published within the next two weeks and available at Amazon and all other major retailers.

Moriarity RGB

Is your recent book part of a series?

Yes. Moriarity is an ongoing series. I have already finished a new story, which will eventually turn into many more and a new novel. Probably a year down the road, because I usually am working on multiple ideas at the same time.

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

Actually, for me, it’s not a challenge. I love writing that way. I grew up with Serials like Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Chandu the Magician and Captain Marvel, which kept telling more stories, and I’ve never run out of ideas since.

What else have you written?

I have a really nice series based on the Arthurian legend, “Young King Arthur,” which I really love a lot, though it’s a harder write because of its time period. I also have a high tech series called “Perihelion,” which investigates the nature of reality through a communicative science called “Convolution.” And of course my new “Sheridan Holmes” series, which I shall be publishing the first story of soon and my “Chittles and Red Eye” series which I’ve published two stories about. From ancient worlds to future worlds, from Baker Street to Robin Hood, that’s my trek of desire.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

I learned a great technique when I was in graduate school in Theater. My teacher was a famous off-Broadway director, Davey Jones. He said always right backwards. He explained that if you know the ending, then write backwards you will always keep the audience guessing.

I have incorporated that into my own writing, but mostly I actually see the whole story in my mind at once, and just basically flesh it out as I type. I always know the ending before I write the story.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

Brain drain. Story kill. Don’t do it! I learned way back in my early days that if you stop to examine your work and don’t finish, you kill the process. Creativity is like a breaking dam. Let it flow. Block it and risk the whole thing blowing up.

I learned that when I played guitar. I used to play songs to learn the guitar and a friend of mine Barry Nutter told me to don’t stop. Just keep playing, even if you missed some parts, otherwise you created a habit of stopping.

He was right. I never did it again and it’s always helped my creativity. If anything, I have more ideas than I could ever have time to write. Which could be depressing if I was wired that way, but it’s so exciting to be able to create…something at the drop of a hat…that I don’t even think about it anymore.BlueCrystal

Over the years, many well-known authors have stated that they wished they’d written their characters or their plots differently. Have you ever had similar regrets?

None whatsoever. I write about people I care about. I don’t believe that anyone is pure evil, but usually a mix of good and evil. Of course, you can’t always show that in every story, but I try to be fair about it.

Now, I may take a situation like World War Two with Rocketman, “The Secret War,” a new story series I began this summer, in which our hero has to deal with a man bent on dominating the world. But in reality Hitler wasn’t pure evil, but he did make a lot of horrible, horrible decisions which hurt many. (Because a person might be crazy, doesn’t make them evil, only perhaps more capable of it.) I think we’ve all made bad decisions we wish we hadn’t, trouble is that a good villain usually makes more mistakes than he can take back. At least in public view. (Nixon, Bush, or Cheney anyone?)

Which is why I did the Moriarity novel. I felt that it would be great to show that a man as evil as Professor Moriarity could actually have a counterpart of himself that was totally the opposite. That its choices we make that are evil, and make us evil in appearance and not that we’re born that way. Free will. (Mmmm, isn’t that something God was supposed to have given us?”

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

Yes. For diversity usually, or contrast. Or just simply to make it easier to remember.

Authors, especially Indies, are constantly trying to understand why some authors sell very while their talented fellow authors have a hard time of it. It’s an ongoing conundrum. What do you make of it all?

When I worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter I made contacts with most of the top names of that day, people like Steven Spielberg, but I never became famous as a screenwriter. And yet much of what is on screen today I had been writing for decades before it became popular.

I’m a strong believer in the spiritual aspect of man. I subscribe to the belief that this is a lesson planet and we are all here to learn how to play nice with each other. Since not everyone can be rich and famous, some have to play lesser roles, but that does not make us lesser, it only makes us not in the spotlight in this life. But since I also believe in reincarnation, I also am sure that everyone gets a chance to grab the number one spot, just not in every life.


Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Read what you love. Love what you write.

There are so many conflicting opinions out there about everything related to publishing: e-book pricing, book promotion, social media usage etc. How do you sort through it all to figure out what works best for you?

Trial and error. Tons of research. I don’t think any one thing works, it seems to be a combination of things. I do notice however that when I am more upbeat and positive, I get better results with my work. I subscribe to the belief that what we put out comes back to us and people can feel us…sort of like when you go into a person’s home where there’s been a lot of anger you can feel it thick as molasses in the air. It makes you feel yucky. So the more positive you are, the happier you’ll be. Live for the good vibes you put out, not that you get back. If get too attached to results, you’ll drive yourself nuts…and also everyone else around you. (Divorce anyone?)

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I love social media. I wish it had been around when I was going to college, I would probably have learned a lot more about my fellow man and had a lot more fun doing it.

I love the ability to get snapshots of other lifestyles and other cultures. It fits in nice and snug with my enjoyment of alien cultures in science fiction and fantasy.

My most favorite part of social media is the fact that if people like you, they share you with their friends. I’ve probably sold more books when that happens. So I would encourage the use of social media.

Myself, when I like the writing of someone, I get curious about the author. In this case people get curious about you and read your writing. It’s a nice turnaround.

My least favorite part of it is that sometimes I friend people who post truly shocking things which my friends and fellow professionals can see and that’s distressing. I can usually block or remove their content and even them, but I wish that didn’t happen. I don’t like having to cut people out of my life, but if they insist on not making nice, I do what I must.

But I understand, some people like the negative attention. Personally, I have no need for negative attention. I’d rather make people feel better about their lives, or at least bring up ideas that challenge the status quo in an effort to get them to expand themselves and consequently enlarge their own happiness.

I don’t know how many saw the original Star Wars, but when Han, Luke and Chewie get their awards in front of the Rebel Forces by Princess Leia, it really raised the adrenaline in my body and hairs on the back of my neck. Yay team! Good over evil. Positive over negative! Boo Darth Daddy! Yay! Hans Cool! Solo!

Are you a fast typist? Does your typing speed (or lack of it) affect your writing?

Trouble with typing fast is that you can sometimes spend a lot of time going back and editing your mistakes. Especially troublesome if you have a bad keyboard, then you can easily create more mistakes than you might have otherwise.

Usually I can type between 90 and a 120 words a minute, with an accuracy of about 90 percent.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

It’s like asking someone out for a date. Not everyone is going to like you enough to go out with you, and if they do, not everyone is going to like what they see. Such is life. You can’t judge your life by another’s tastes. You have to love yourself as you are right here and now, not in some distant future that may or may not happen. If your motivations for writing are not just for the money, it won’t matter, you’ll just take the silliness and get on with more writing. If you love it, that’s the big thing. If they love it too, then Yay! for you. Just keep writing and learning. You’re going to get better and better.

Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?

On Smashwords I give away tons of free books. I’ve given away hundreds, I think thousands by now. It helps. But I think my blog and pro site help more because they’re more personal. Hard to tell, but it’s probably all interrelated, each part kicking in at different times.

By the way I’ll be having a surprise on my author site…an autographed, free copy of my “Moriarity” novel. The rules will be posted on the site once the book is published.

Would you like to write a short poem for us?

For you Lisette I say these words

That flowers do spring and sing.

Your heart is like a gentle sword

that puts my heart awing.

How was that?

Lovely! Thank you, John.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

Las Vegas is where I live. If all my friends didn’t live here, then I’d rather live in Switzerland by a lake, or perhaps Tahoe, or in Canada…by a lake! 🙂

If you could duplicate the knowledge from any single person’s head and have it magically put into your own brain, whose knowledge would you like to have? And why.

Jesus. Because he was the kindest man I’ve heard of in our Western culture. And it’d be nice to have the level of love he did for all life. Next after that would be Einstein. What a good heart and brain that man had!

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

A kiss from my daughter.

Have you ever played a practical joke on a friend? Ever had one played on you?

Yeah. My kids took some poop and pretended it was a huge brownie and fed it to me. I didn’t laugh at first, though they did. But later I thought it was funny. (And no, I didn’t warm their little bottoms, those little rascals!)

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

That I am as important to them, as they are to their self.

If you had a million dollars to give to charity, how would you allot the funds?

Be tough. There’s way more people who need help, than a million dollars could cure. But probably to a children’s hospital or home.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

The ability to never say anything or do anything that harmed another. Ever!

What was your favorite year of school? Why?

I loved all of my school years. Best social life I ever had.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I’m really from Mars. Just kidding. 🙂 Or am I?

What makes you angry?

Mainly politicians and the extremely wealthy. Because they have lost their ability to relate to the common man and they live in selfish worlds. They’re not evil, just distracted from what is truly valuable in a person’s life…the ability to love and care for their fellow man.

What music soothes your soul?

NewAge, Beatles, Classical, Soul music and any kind of well done Blues or Jazz.

What was the most valuable class you ever took in school? Why?

My English class during my Freshman year in College. Ms. Molly Irwin, my teacher, taught me to write what I loved and from love and don’t filter it as you do, let the soul come forth.

If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?

Right now, Game of Thrones; Sleepy Hollow; Grim; Once Upon a Time; Bill Maher; Extant; Falling Skies; Conan O’Brian; the Walking Dead; Big Bang; Cheers; Eureka; Haven; and head over heels in love with the new Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who, even if it is Peter Capaldi now…who is an excellent actor by the way!

If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?

Walls of books. A very comfortable chair to meditate upon. A great sound system for soothing music. My writing computer. My pet cockatiels, whom I just love to death. And a huge set of French Widows with a balcony so I could watch the sun set and the sun rise, and get wet when it rains if I like. And lots of flowers on the balcony.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

That we live in a world where so many have to struggle to have the basics, while a select few have the majority of the wealth and are reluctant to share it and do everything they can to make sure that it’s NOT shared. (Not always consciously, but shouldn’t those with the most, also be the ones who act as guardians of the wealth in a responsible way to protect their fellow man? To insure their happiness and health as well?)

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Bag of potato chips while reading a book.

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Love each other. Forgive each other. Learn from each other.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

A baby’s smile. A baby’s laughter.








Fine Art America




Autumn (also known as Weifarer) is a travel and fantasy writer currently based in Maine where she lives in a small cottage lost in the woods, which she built with her husband along with the supervision, and approval of, two cairn terriers. She is an indie author, conservationist, & world traveler with plans for many more adventures both real and fantastical!

 Time to chat with Autumn!

What is your latest book? Is your recent book part of a series?

I released Spirit of Life, book 3 of my epic fantasy trilogy the Rise of the Fifth Order this spring. I’m really excited to have the trilogy complete. It feels like such an accomplishment to have started such a long story (the books do not stand alone) and managed to wrap it up… even if it took me three years to publish all three!

Spirit-of-Life-Cover_Lavinia 4inch

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

I had lots of special problems, but that is because book 1, Born of Water, was also my first book to self publish! I knew when I wrote Born of Water that the story continued, but at the time I published it and faced with the immense learning curve of formats, editing, covers, and distribution, I really hadn’t thought out too much more of the story. But I had so much fun, I knew I had to keep writing. And that is when I ran into problems.

The stories I admired as a young reader were ones laced with clues that might not be fully understood until chapters, or books, later. I loved trying to see where things were going! And so that is the type of series I set out to write. BUT I hadn’t done all of the plotting and figuring out when I wrote book 1. I did that when I began to write book 2, Rule of Fire. Happily, there were nuggets from book 1 that I could play with and enlarge that really moved the story forward, but I also think I lost an opportunity to really tighten the plot threads. I would write book 1 a little differently now. But I do still love it and really love the series.

And lesson learned, I write differently now. If it is going to be a series (which I admittedly like writing), I have the overall arc planned out before I start. I’m a plotter but not down to every detail, letting the story develop as characters make choices. To accommodate the smaller plot threads that develop, and I might want to drop in hints earlier, I’m trying to write the entire series, or at least a book or two into it, before I release the first. That is a lot of writing, but should make the releases come a little faster (fingers crossed!).

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

I do! At the beginning of August I signed on with Creativia. They are a small publisher and I can’t believe how phenomenal it has been meeting their other authors and working with the founder, Miika. My head is really spinning and I don’t think that I’ve fully realized yet that I’m not alone out there anymore. I suddenly have an editor, cover artist, marketer, and lots of other authors to ask questions of. My writing speed has ramped up and I have several releases coming up in the next year and I was honestly getting worried about how to afford an editor. My writing, as much as I love it, hasn’t paid for the first editor on book 1 yet! Just knowing all that is lined up and I just need to write and post to social media is a huge relief. Of course, hopefully they will like my new work as much as my released series! lol.

You live in a small cottage in the woods. That sounds like a wonderful place for a writer. Can you tell us about it?

I am an introvert, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise since I’m a writer. I live nature and quiet. So yeah, living in a little house in the woods is awesome. It is relaxing and I can go for walks when I’m stumped. I have a little sleeping porch (think of it as a room with one wall open to outside) where I write. Its on the second floor and shaded in the afternoon and just heaven!

The downside is that my husband and I built, and are still finishing, this little cottage. That has been a tremendous amount of work the last two years! I’m the finish carpenter and I have so many bookshelves, trim, nooks, and even kitchen cabinets that I need to construct yet. Ack! I joke that I’ll have the house paid off in four years and still will be putting in cabinetry. Hopefully this fall will get the brunt of the remaining work done (while still maintaining my writing time…). Having the house done for a winter of solitude and writing will be… amazing!

Over the years, many well-known authors have stated that they wished they’d written their characters or their plots differently. Have you ever had similar regrets?

I hinted in the above question that I would have written book 1 differently if I’d realized the direction the trilogy would take. And I would have tweaked the characters a little more, especially Ria and Ty. They both tend to have extremes of emotions, Ria having been very sheltered and frightened as a child and Ty just being very sensitive. They don’t always fit the “model” of how a character is expected to behave. As much as I think that is ok as there isn’t a script of how a person must react to certain situations, there are times when it is pointed out that I feel like answering “yup, I know.” I think I would have streamlined them a bit more if I could write Born of Water again. But maybe that would be a shame too!

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

For some reason character names, even place names, are a stumbling block to me. I can be writing a sentence and hit a blank name and I just can’t write any further. Sometimes, if I’m really desperate, I’ll put in a little _____ and try to keep writing. But it just drives me batty. I don’t tend to have writer’s block all that often, but if I need a name and nothing comes to mind, I’m stuck.

Do I ever change a name… sometimes but rarely. I’m usually at a standstill until the “right” name comes to me. But sometimes I’ll read through something and realize that two names are too similar. Then I have to change one… and hope it doesn’t take me all day!

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

Research might not be the word for my epic fantasy series (though it fits with my current WIP!), but world building certainly is. And epic fantasy takes a lot of world building! I actually rewrote Born of Water because I didn’t like the world building in it. The first draft was “pantsed” a lot. The story went all over the world where the story is set, Myrrah, and it just felt flat to me. It felt typical. So I sat down and really thought about the world, the climate, the food, the culture, the governments. What would it be like to grow up in the archipelago where seasonal rains flood the cities versus the deep forests in the north. What sort of commerce would the wooded but mountainous coast on the south shore of the Sea of Sarketh have? Once I knew the answer to those questions, I started writing again. Now I try to have all of that figured out before I write the first draft. It speeds up the process quite a lot!

Are you a fast typist? Does your typing speed (or lack of it) affect your writing?

I am a fast typist! I can churn out over 80 wpm if you want to put me in a timed test. But you know, speed doesn’t seem to be THAT big of an impact on writing.

I see lots of posts about “if you can type 4000 words a day, you can write a novel a month.” Well, yeah, but that doesn’t mean it will be a good novel. Or that you won’t spend six months editing it. There is so much more to writing than putting words on a page. That is super important to, but that is only a piece to the puzzle!

If I know where the story is going and the scene is clicking as I follow the characters along, writing speed helps. Sometimes I can’t keep up! But if the plot or motivations aren’t clear or I just can’t get into a character’s head, speed doesn’t matter. I usually try to push things along, giving it about 15 minutes of thought or plugging away. If things still aren’t moving at that point, I switch to a different WIP (I tend to write two novels at the same time for this reason!) or edit my most recently completed WIP or read (gasp!) or go for a walk (which helps tons). Sometimes I break down and actually talk to my husband. lol.

The bottom line is speed is not everything and not that important really. Consistency is – writing a bit every day. Having a good story is very important. Editing is key too. If you end up cutting a horrible chapter (or two), how fast you typed it doesn’t matter.

Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?

I wouldn’t say control comes into play, but my characters are their own people. I don’t tell them what to do, but if they want to change the story too much, well they’ve got to make a good pitch as to why!

Though, saying that, I have one or two feisty individuals who aren’t very good at sharing. I tend to set up chapters with POV and a quick blurb on what is going to happen to make sure the novel keeps on pace. But, with a few of my characters, I know it is going to be in their POV but don’t have a clue what they are going to get up to. Sinika, my main “villain” in my epic fantasy series is this way. I usually don’t know what he is going to do, doing, or why until he decides to tell me. Sort of difficult trusting the most evil character in your book to run his own show… but, gosh darn it, he does such an awesome job!

Do you miss spending time with your characters when you finish writing them?

Yes! When I started writing the final book in the series, I dragged my feet a bit knowing this was it. After this book, I was done with this world and these characters. Maybe I’d write a short story… stop by in a few years. I got myself moving again by picking away at a new WIP and then as the final book built, I couldn’t stop writing. I felt satisfied when I finished and ready to focus on that side WIP I’d started.

But the characters weren’t ready to call it quits. Seriously, they would pop into my head with little protestations about how I ended things. Their lives go on. I didn’t think they needed me. They apparently thought they did. And they made a really good argument, eventually making me realize I might have missed the most important part of their story and world! So now I’m writing a new trilogy set in the same world with the same characters. I never meant to write this, but they were so convincing and the story is so good, that I had to. Of course, now this new epic fantasy trilogy is my side WIP while I finish up the one I started when I was writing Spirit of Life. Hopefully they’ll be happy when this new story arc is done!

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

Tardis, followed by sailboat, followed by dual-sport motorcycle. Definitely the Tardis first! I love to travel, I love history, and I love science, so how could I not want a time traveling spaceship? In everyday life, it is a dream of mine to sail the intercoastal waterway from the St. Lawrence down to the Caribbean. And I really want to see a meteor shower from a boat anchored somewhere dark and inspiring. Wouldn’t it be incredible to see shooting stars streak to the horizon?

I’d also love to ride my motorcycle from Alaska to Venezuela. That route is becoming more common each year, but I’d love to do it myself. Until then, I have to be content riding around Maine, the Canadian Maritimes, and to work while the weather is half way decent!

If I make it through all of that, I still want to hike the AT and the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I guess you can say I just like to move. One method or another!

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I would love to be a good singer. Not professional, just one of those people that can sing a tune and sound good enough to make people smile. I really love music and at the moment can’t play any instrument. Hopefully I’ll learn the guitar someday yet and really wish I could fiddle. But to not need anything but my voice… that would be awesome!

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

I’m a fairly happy person but one thing that always makes me smile is seeing some little everyday wonder… maybe something that most people would miss. I get outside as much as I can and love to be mesmerized by nature: a white spider hiding on the petals of a daisy, sparrows chasing off a bald eagle, bees finding the first pussy willows of spring. I’m one of those people that stops to watch ants, catches frogs, knows which flowers are in bloom in the meadow. They aren’t big events, but they make me feel connected to the world and happy.




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