Welcome to April’s Featured Blog, something I’ll be posting here on Lit and Scribbles most of the month to introduce all of you to perhaps some new future friends and get to know a little more about your blogging community.
Today we talk with Charles Yallowitz, writer of the blog Legends of Windemere with a book available on Amazon of the same name (Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero). Charles and I have recently become blogger buddies. Tell the people who you are, Charles:
CY: I was born in Long Island, NY and stayed there until I went to college in Oswego, NY. After getting married, I moved to Florida and came crawling back to Long Island with my tail between my legs after 4.5 years of trying to survive. I’ve wanted to be an author since high school and played the game of submitting manuscripts and waiting for the rejection letter. I thought this was the way to go until my son was born and I realized that I wanted to be able to tell him to go for his dreams after having done the same for myself. That brought me to self-publishing and blogging where I’m now working hard to forge a career as an epic fantasy author.
J: When did you first start blogging and what is your blog about?
CY: I started blogging in December 2012 after finishing the revision of my third book. I started the blog to use as a platform for my writing and help gain an audience. It started to grow from there as I began posting poetry, progress posts, and my thoughts on various writing-related questions. I’ve started using my blog to help other self-published authors with the challenge of advertising by listing sites and my experiences with the sites that I use.
J: Which of your posts was the most fun to write and why?
CY: This is a tough one because I day a whimsical opinion post every Wednesday and those have always been fun to write. I think it’s a tie between the one on writing great villains “Crushers of Souls and Puppies” and the one on killing characters in a story “Boromir, We Hardly Knew Ye.” The villain one was just all around fun because I went off the wall with some of what I said. The killing characters one let me take a few playful swipes at Joss Whedon who I haven’t forgiven for killing one of my favorite characters of his.
J: What type of stories do you write?
CY: I typically write high-action epic fantasy, which some people say is YA, but others say there’s too much sexual innuendo and violence for it. I’ve been experimenting with other genres, such as horror and drama, by writing novellas.
J: Protagonist excluded, which of your characters is your favorite?
CY: Geez. That’s a tough one because I like all of my characters. Going only my first book, I would go with Kira Grasdon. She started as a third-string throwaway character and became more and more development with every editing session. I had very little control over what she wanted to be and I eventually gave up to see where she was going with it. She became an incredibly strong and cunning character that really did steal the show and redirect a few plotlines. I’m very happy with how she came out and she helped teach me that I should listen to the characters instead of forcing them to do things.
J: Who are your favorite authors?
CY: I like J.R.R. Tolkien, but I think most fantasy authors say that. I really love reading Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game), John Flanagan (Ranger’s Apprentice), Edgar Allan Poe, and C.S. Lewis.
J: What are the last three books you read, and would you recommend them?
CY: The Night Ones Legacy by fellow self-published author Gwen Bristol. It’s a great first book and the does an amazing job with a child protagonist. Not too mature and not too immature, but just right that you believe the character’s age. Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan. I’m on book 8 of this series, but I’m going to say all of it. It’s a great adventure with deep characters and a world that is pushed across with so little force that you just get pulled into the books. Before all this, I read a manga called Hollow Fields, which is about a girl who accidentally enrolls in a school for mad scientists. It’s a fun and unique story that I found was great for reading between heavy, emotional novels.
J: Do you listen to music while you write?
CY: I always have music on when writing and it’s a mix of so many things. A lot of it is hard rock, but there’s occasionally some rap, soft rock, metal, alternative, and whatever genre you would put Weird Al Yankovic in.
J: Aside from writing, what are your favorite things to do?
CY: I occasionally practice fencing when I have the time and energy, but lately it’s been doing things with my son. This can include reading stories, doing puzzles, or just general rough-housing that typically ends with me hitting my head on something.
J: If you could be granted one superpower, which would it be?
CY: I used to say telekinesis, which I could use to copy other powers like super strength, flight, and invulnerability. As I grew older, I just wanted to be able to fly with wings. It switches between feathered or bat depending on my mood, but I like the idea of soaring into the air and having a sense of freedom.
J: Where’s the farthest away from home you’ve traveled?
CY: After graduating high school, I spent a summer in Israel. We spent 2 weeks in the Negev Desert, 2 weeks in Golan Heights, and 2 weeks in Jerusalem. It was an artist and culture trip, so at every stop we chose a workshop and had an artistic final project. I did a book of 100 poems that I still have in a drawer. Half of them are about the other campers and the counselors. Greatest point of this trip was sleeping on a rooftop in Jerusalem with other campers and watching shooting stars.
J: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known about writing earlier?
CY: I really don’t know. I think the pace that I learned things is what brought me here, so it’s hard to tell what I would have preferred to learn earlier. I guess I would have liked to know that writing takes a lot of dedication and struggling. It isn’t enough to send out manuscripts and sit on your butt. I spent my time writing more books and outlining future series, but that only prepared me for a career that I needed to get off the ground. It would have been nice to figure this out a few years earlier and save myself some of the self-inflicted anguish and grief.
J: What advice would you give to new writers getting started on their first story?
CY: Keep writing and don’t aim for perfection on the first run. Editing is where you will tighten things up and fix things, so just write through that first draft and see where things go. You might find that you need very little editing or 75% of the book needs to be redone. Also, once you get that first story done and it’s heading for a publisher or is available as a self-published work, start working on the next book. As a new author, you have to build momentum and keep it going until your fans think you need a break because you’re signing the table instead of their books.
THANK YOU, CHARLES!
I couldn’t agree with you more on editing. Perfection certainly doesn’t come in the first draft and it’s foolhardy to expect that it will. It was cool to learn that you do fencing. I’ll bet that helps with sword fights in your books. And I’m totally jealous of your trip to Israel. It’s definitely on my list.
All right people! Questions for Charles? Have you read any of the books he mentioned? Do you agree with his advice? Share any of his same favorite authors? Let Charles know below.