Interview with fantasy author Gary Vanucci

In this latest interview we caught up with well-established fantasy author Gary Vanucci, a writer whose objective is to remove us from day-to-day life and spin head first into the epic worlds that he so skilfully creates…..

Gary, for those who have yet to get hold of a copy of your books, can you offer a description or taster of what readers can expect?

Sure thing! I have created what I hope is an engaging and detailed world wherein the main characters engage in their daily activities. There is definitely a lot to digest, but in a good way. I would have them expect to be completely entertained, to forget about the troubles in their own lives and live vicariously through the rich characters I’ve created.

How and when did you get started as a writer and what inspires you to write?

I started off and on around 1998-99. Started writing a sci-fi novel, but it did not complete as I lost interest in the genre. Fantasy however, I began to write in 2010 and have never looked back. I feel that I have many stories to tell and cannot wait to get them out there to the general public. I really feel that the stories are compelling and entertaining and if I can get some exposure, I can develop a reader base.

Have you always been a fan of the fantasy genre? What made you decide to write in this genre and which fantasy books do you enjoy reading yourself?

I LOVE fantasy. I cannot state that enough. Especially the Forgotten Realms. I‘ve read horror, comic books/superhero/graphic novels, Sci-Fi, murder/mysteries, but good fantasy is where I get lost. And that is what I want from a book, to escape reality for a few hours at a time.

“When a dangerous artifact goes missing from a temple, the elderly high priest in charge concludes that he needs help. He requests aid in the form of a one-time apprentice who is now an Inquisitor among the Order of the Faceless Knights. Garius Forge assembles an eclectic team among his potential candidates and then sets out on his quest. He is aided by the wise-cracking Rose, a rogue among rogues, by the stoic and battle-hungry Saeunn, and by a naive elf named Elec, who reluctantly agrees to accompany them at the behest of the persuasive Inquisitor. The fledgling heroes set out to recover the artifact before it falls into the hands of its former master, a malevolent entity capable of destroying Wothlondia and the  entire Realm of Ashenclaw!” 

One of your books on Amazon is a collaboration. What benefits can be had from collaborating on projects with other authors?

Well, I don’t quite have collaboration yet, but it will be released very shortly and I can let you know afterwards! I do belong to a writer’s circle and hope that the benefits of that would include cross-promotion and great support among other things.

What are you currently working on or what can we expect next?

Well, the anthology/collaboration will be out in the next week or so and my next full length novel will be released (hopefully before or around Christmas time). It is book 4 in the series, which will shift gears from Beginnings to something else, but is still a continuation. This one will follow Secrets of the Ebonite Mines and will tentatively be titled Dance of Deceit.

What are the major challenges that you have faced in your writing career?

I thought the writing would be the biggest challenge, but in all honesty, that had turned out to be the easy part. The hard part is trying to develop a fan-base and to find readers. There is so much out there that it is really difficult to get noticed, even if your work is good or better than average. None of it matters unless they can find you.

What do you advise new writers to do? Regarding best practice or writing tips.

Quit while you’re ahead :) Just kidding. Keep writing, research your craft, learn something with every mistake and grow a thick skin. It’s tough out there. I know from my own personal experience that my prose, writing style, POV shifts and general storytelling abilities have grown significantly over the last two years, so keep at it!

Getting a self-published book noticed and into the hands of readers can be tough. Could you offer our readers any tips/hints or advice on promotion or marketing?

Not really. Join all of the usual haunts, try to be engaging, try not to annoy people (very difficult when trying to sell something) and really try to help others. Can’t stress the ‘helping others’ thing enough.

What is your opinion on the power and potential of social media? Do you use the likes of Twitter, Facebook, etc to connect with fans and promote your work?

I use all of ‘em. But, I honestly do not know if it truly works or not. I mean, it has to a little bit, but I couldn’t tell you how to go about it. It’s different for everyone I would think.

Who did you get to do your cover design, eBook formatting/conversion to Kindle etc. and editing…was this all outsourced or did you do some yourself?

I format the book myself. My editor is Stephanie Dagg, a writer and editor from France and my artwork is done by fellow author and Skulldust Circle writer, William Kenney.

Where can readers pick up a copy of your book from and what formats are available?

Kindle and CreateSpace. Google me or stop by my Amazon page. I will be going elsewhere once my KDP Select is up on Amazon I think.

Many thanks for taking the time to speak to us today.

Thanks for having me on and let me know if anyone has any questions that I might be able to help out with


Author Steve Taylor Reveals The Story Behind The Book

This interview is with a new author called Steve Taylor. Let me share his Amazon biography with you all. He says it better than I do:

Steve Taylor was raised on a farm in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. He is a 1960 graduate of The Citadel with a degree in civil engineering, and he served six years as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force with service in Vietnam. Following a long flying career, he retired as an international airline captain. Taylor has been a solo ocean sailor and holds a U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license. He has owned and operated a commercial construction company and is a Coastal Master Naturalist. In addition to flying over most of the world, Taylor has lived in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and Okinawa. He has five grown children. With his wife, Nancy, he currently splits his time between Atlanta and Charleston.

His book is called “Wheels Up: Sky Jinks in the Jet Age”

The stories in “Wheels Up” are not made up. They are the real deal, true antics of a jet age pilot in the high-octane environment of the cockpit. Some will give you pause and make you think, some will knock the wind out of you, and some will make you throw your head back and laugh. No one is spared his (or her) just deserts, least of all the self-deprecating author in this tale of high jinks in the air, on land and at sea, complete with high tension and low humor, near collisions and happy landings.

From Citadel cadet to Delta captain, Taylor takes readers into a world few have seen. It’s both humorous and heartfelt – fast, fun and true.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

I have always been a storyteller, but I soon learned that there was a difference between telling and writing. My challenge was to achieve the same humor and entertainment from reading my work as listening to me.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

It was a thrill to capture the true essence of the tale on paper for all eternity.

Are there vocabulary words or concepts in your book that may be new to readers? Define some of those.

The book is loosely connected with flying airplanes. My previous editor smoothed many aviation terms that the general public would not understand. This can also be said about sailing, and military terms. An example of this was in my description of the braid on a senior officers hat. I referred to it as scrambled eggs and insisted that this was a common understanding. My editor did not buy it and had to qualify the scrambled eggs. So yes, there are some references here that may be new to some readers.

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.

There is no mention of Native Americans, feminists or hemophiliacs.
Really, I don’t understand the question.

Are there misconceptions that people have about your book? 

I had a book giveaway on good reads. The first two reviews were five stars and then a woman from Hawaii wrote in that she thought I was mean. I was shocked–me! Fun-loving, full of energy, perhaps a little immature at times, but not mean. She said she always had misgivings about those who played practical jokes.
Two stars.

What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject, that isn’t so?

There are some people that still think flying is dangerous. It actually is safer on an airplane than not on an airplane. It is common to hear, “have a safe flight.” How many people say have a safe car ride or safe layover, but they are more dangerous.

What inspires you?

Every since I was a boy I needed a project. Building and inventing, making a knife, learning to fly, designing a house, creating a company, single-handed sailing, writing a book; I am not happy unless I have a project.

How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

Counting my military service, I have had 35 years of professional flying. I have owned and operated and commercial construction company. I have been a farmer, and I have been a single-handed oceangoing sailor with a US Coast Guard captains license. But my most significant endeavor was raising four teenage children as a single parent for seven years. Today, I am healthy, still busy and do pretty much whatever l like. Compared, to many, it’s a nice place to be. To be honest, a great deal of my present situation is pure luck. I have always pushed close to the edge and was never afraid of risk. Having said that, I do have a circuit breaker that stops me from going over the edge.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

My background is in engineering. Most of my life I considered myself strong in this area and weak in verbal aptitude. I have been an avid reader all my life, however, I felt unqualified when I began this book. I went back and reread James Harriot (all creatures great and small) because I felt his style was similar to what I was trying to do. The other authors that I remember fondly: Victor Hugo, Mark Twain and Winston Churchhill. I am currently reading a Jack Higgins book. I also enjoy reading books by Brad Taylor, my son. What all of these authors have in common is accuracy. I am a stickler for accuracy.

What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?

Probably the most useful is my wife. She is a verbal person and has guided me constantly. I read a couple of books about writing. I found them boring and uninspiring. I actually learned more by doing then by instruction.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

At my age, with reduced stamina and energy, anything I do would falls into the category of part time–sometimes naps are more important.

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

My book is printed in both hardcover and trade paperback. In October it will come out as an e-book. All forms have their place. Airline pilots now have an e-reader with them all the time, so the e-book was necessary.

What do you think is the future of reading and writing?

Reading and writing will be with us forever. Although technology and gadgets of the modern day are useful, they will never replace reading and writing. Reading stretches the mind, it is soothing and by far more satisfying than other forms of media. An experiment to prove this point would be how well you sleep after reading as compared to watching TV.

What process did you go through to get your book published?

I did not go through the painful process of looking for an agent. I formed a relationship with a small local publisher that had a good reputation. Unfortunately this publisher fell into some misfortune and I was forced to leave.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

My book is about true stories that have been told for years because of their entertainment value. They show a unique inside view of the airline crew-member.

How do you find or make time to write?

Like I said earlier, at this time of my life I do pretty much what I want. This writing became a project and so I focused on it.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?

I am not sure about this logic or intuition thing, but I do believe that writing should either convey a thought or an emotion, or it should not be done. I have little understanding about writing for the sake of writing. My process is to have a story that I wish to put on paper in such a way as to entertain to the same degree as telling the story.

What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

I have created a website, Facebook, and a blog. I have had a book giveaway on Goodreads. I sent ARCs to independent bookstores and I have written many places for reviews. All of this has taken so much time that I have not finished editing my new book. I do not believe that I am good at this marketing and at times I find it frustrating. I had difficulty with Amazon’s vendor website and still cannot navigate through the Goodreads website. I am not very good about keeping up my Facebook or blog.

What projects are you working on at the present?

My new book is finished but needs some more editing. It too is a book of true stories albeit different stories from a different time. These are stories about growing up as a sometimes troubled and hyperactive kid, but the jokes are still there.

What do your plans for future projects include?

I have a certain expertise in construction, flying, sailing and as a South Carolina Lowcountry naturalist. Believing it is best to write about what you know, I have a fiction story in mind that uses my knowledge in these areas.
The story involves a struggling commercial contractor that is conflicted because of the ample opportunity for dishonesty in the business. A twin-engine Beach crashes on a small Hummock out in the vast expanse of Saltwater marsh. It contains a dead gangster, $12 million in cash, and 20 pounds of cocaine. It remains undiscovered until our contractor, who is also a Marsh Hen hunter, stumbles across it on a seven foot new moon tide. The saga eventually involves killer drug dealers, the IRS, The FBI, and the contractors wife and children.

“Wheels Up: Sky Jinks in the Jet Age” is available now from Amazon

wheels up cover

Author Interview: Come Fly With Rebecca McLendon

becky 2

1. Why flying? What attraction does flying hold for you?
As a small child, I was terrified of flying in anything, much less small airplanes. I grew up during the transition to the jet age, and the loudness frightened me. I preferred the steady humming of huge formations of B-36s flying overhead at night. When my husband and I got an airplane, he said that he needed me to learn how to fly so I could put the plane on the ground if something happened to him while flying. So I began lessons under the tutelage of a dear friend and neighbor who happened to be a flight instructor. I believe this quote best describes the attraction I developed after those first few lessons:

“Even before we had reached 300 feet, I recognized that the sky would be my home. I tumbled out of the airplane with stars in my eyes.” Geraldyn Cobb

And Leonardo da Vinci also has an appropriate description of flight:

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

2. How did you get started in aviation?

My husband told me I need to learn how to fly and land our airplane if we were going to travel together.

3. Who have been your role models, or who has had the most influence on you?

My husband, my instructors John Hammons and Mitchell Inman, various local pilots who have become like brothers and sisters to me, and a long-time family friend now deceased, Dick Tucker.

4. What are your main goals as a pilot?

I want to fly for the love of it, encourage others to fly, serve as an advocate for General Aviation and for Women in Aviation in various ways. I am even exploring the idea of becoming a certified ground school instructor.

5. What are some goals that you had that were never achieved, and how did you deal with it?

I really cannot think of any that I never achieved! I’ve done what I set out and trained to do. I’ve written a book, flown a plane and written music. I have gone to Australia and Europe. I married a wonderful man, raised three beautiful children, held and spoiled four grandchildren, and fallen in love with my Saviour and have committed to sharing that love with others so they too can experience Him. There have been disappointments along the way, but so far I’ve been given the grace to stand back up, brush off the dust and go on. What lies out there that I still want to achieve? Fly the Grand Canyon while filming it. Fly to Montana and the Pacific Northwest? Can I achieve that? Maybe. If not I can write a novel, and my character “Zoe” can do it.

6. What is your greatest accomplishment as a pilot?

My whole first book is about that “Day I Grew Wings.” And just recently I GOT my wings, literally pinned to my shirt pocket!

Practical Flying Advice

1. You find your co-pilot drinking before a flight, how will you handle this?

I would excuse him from duties. He knows the 8-hour rule, and it applies to him too. He is not fit to fly an airplane. One drink on the ground acts like two in the air. It locks onto your red blood cells and floods your entire body with impaired faculties and judgment.

2. You smell smoke in the cockpit, what initial action should you take?

Immediately stop all other pre-flight procedures and look for the cause.

3. Your co-pilot tells you the smoke is normal and it will clear itself, but 15 minutes later, the condition is growing worse. Your co-pilot gives you the same response. Now, what would you do?

If you cannot find the cause readily, declare the emergency, shut down all systems, and have the passengers deplane immediately.

Remind the co-pilot you are in command, and tell him to comply with that or excuse himself from duty.

4. The aircraft is loaded way beyond gross weight. Your co-pilot tells you that he does this all the time, and the aircraft will fly. What do you do?

I won’t be explaining anything to him, except showing him the exit door.

5. You have been cleared for take-off. Upon getting airborne with the gear in the wells, what kind of conversation are you going to have with your co-pilot?

What co-pilot? I ordered him off the plane! If I did have a co-pilot, in my small aircraft I would have established that I was the Pilot in Command and I handle all operations on this aircraft. I may ask him to assist me on things but he/she is not to attempt taking control of operations without prior instructions to do so.

Pilot Personality Questions

1. What makes a great pilot?

A great pilot knows every time he/she starts the engine of the airplane it is a whole new flight. Things can happen quickly, and various piloting skills will be tested each time. Like Otto Linienthal said: “To invent an airplane is nothing. To build one is something. To fly is everything.” We take our “everything” to each flight, no matter how simple the flight will be or how complex.

2. What makes a bad pilot?

A bad pilot finds the minute details of pre-flight inspections, fuel testing, checking oil and making sure the controls are in good working order all tedium. He thinks he is too good to have to do that every time. That mind-set becomes one of sad neglect of the airplane. And when this pilot flies, he shocks his airplane out of its weakened, sickened state and forces it to perform, pushing the envelope. He overloads, he under prepares, he laughs off procedure, over banks, enters weather beyond his limitations, and immediately begins committing “pilot error” which is the cause of 70 to 80% of all fatal accidents.

3. Most people have a person in their lives who influenced their career. Who was your mentor?

My husband, who is also a pilot, suggested I learn to fly in case we were up there and something happened to him to incapacitate him in the air. My closest mentor has been John Hammons who was also brave enough to teach me over a two year period along with several other instructors.

4. What event in your life caused you to feel the way you do about aviation and flying?

One day John took me up in the towering clouds and had me fly around and among them. I truly had “slipped the surly bonds of earth” and had “reached out and touched the face of God.” From then on, I was completely hooked.

5. What are some of the limitations of your aircraft and yourself?

My aircraft is structurally limited to headwinds, cross winds and angle of bank in a turn. One must not EXCEED limitations, lest the aircraft become damaged and unflyable. Personal limitations are a bit less than the “never exceed” limitations of my aircraft. I prefer a crosswind of less than 10 knots directly across, even though my aircraft can tolerate 15 knots. I prefer an angle of bank under 40 degrees. I know my skill level. Perhaps with practice I can do more…in fact, I did more wind velocity and angle of bank on my check ride than I normally like to do! And I made it!

Come fly with Rebecca McLendon in her new book “The Day I Grew Wings”

Available Now on