Interview with Author River Eno

River is one of the authors I’ve worked with on The Lost Colony of Roanoke and The Jersey Devil. She is a founding member of our writing collective, Writers Block and a fascinating person. Her contribution to Jersey Devil, “The Unspoiled Harmonious Wilderness” is a unique and beautiful take on the origins of our most local cryptid, and I wanted to get inside her magical brain.

When would you say that you became a writer? 

What an interesting question. I could say I have always been a writer. Not because it was something I dreamed about daily, although it was on my mind, but because that is how my mind has always worked. I think in what if’s and long, spiraling sequences. I frequently have vivid, complicated dreams and also fall into daydreaming easily as a conversation can insert itself into my brain, and I must let it run its course.

But then I’d also have to say, probably when I began writing diligently, everyday. Or maybe when I published my first book. Certainly doing a collaborative project with talented writers, as I did with the “Collection of Utter Speculation series,” gave my writer persona a boost of confidence to define myself more definitively as a writer.

When did you start writing seriously?

When I was 28, after my second kid was born. I decided then that I needed to get the voices in my head under control by putting them on paper.

What sort of subjects interest you?

I’m a studying herbalist. Plants, their constituents, and their application for medicinal use are very exciting to me. I love to wild-craft plants and I grow and then “can” my own organic food. Coinciding with my love for plants and the natural world, I’m a follower of Norse/Celtic paganism, a nature spirituality.

I love vampires! I love the melancholic and depressing aspect of the vampire, and I love the dangerous and sexual side. I like the questions vampires pose; what would it be like to live forever? What would a person do with themselves over hundreds of years of living? Would you have mental breakdowns after so long? How would you justify the things you do to survive?

I also think a love of history goes hand in hand with the vampire folklore. I love research and find it exciting to learn about other cultures and languages.

Vampires are one of your favorite subjects to write about. Why do you think you have an affinity for them?

I’m not completely sure. They have always fascinated me. I was introduced to them through Hammer Films reruns at a very early age, around 4, so that probably has something to with it.

I find the entire folklore fascinating. Beings that can stay alive for a very long time if they keep replacing their blood. And it’s difficult to dispute that there might be some truth to the legends because the stories go back so far.

What was it like working on The Lost Colony of Roanoke, a collection of utter speculation?

The Lost Colony of Roanoke was the first anthology I’d ever worked on. The first collaborative writing project, and it taught me a lot about group dynamics and working within those parameters. I have learned similar things from being a part of different activist groups. But with this anthology our writing group was small, so we worked together closely. And that can be a challenge, to come to agreement, but I think when you set your mind to accomplishing something as a group, it can be done. As it was with Roanoke.

What does your writing process look like?

I try to write a few hours every single day. That routine can be thrown off track when a project is due, and when I’m in edit mode. But I try to write or read at least three hours each day. To keep writing, is the crux of it.

What are some things/authors/ect that influenced your writing? 

A few authors that have influenced me as a writer, and in turn my writing, are Neil Gaiman, Laurell K. Hamilton, Piers Anthony and Anne Rice, of course. And I think everything I go through, and have gone through, in my life influences my writing. My highs and lows are all filtered into my writing, eventually.

What are some of your non-writing pursuits? Have they influenced your writing?

I think all outside influences affect a person’s writing. My climate and animal activism, veganism, and herbalism all help to broaden the scope of my thoughts which enables me to look further inward, helping to give clarity and thoughtfulness to not only my writing but my life.

What are some resources that have been valuable to you?

Honestly, Wikipedia is a handy resource. It’s about 80% accurate, not definitive by any means. But well sourced articles have citations you can follow, and a study in 2005 found Wikipedia about as accurate at the Encyclopedia Britannica. So, I find it a good starting tool for research.

I have many, trusted books on paganism, witchcraft and spellcraft, written by lifelong practitioners that have been invaluable to me.

You wrote a story for Jersey Devil: A collection of utter speculation. What is something that you took away from that project?

A number of things actually. I enjoyed the research, learning where and when the folk tale began, and how it persisted through the years.

And as with any collaboration I always marvel how people from different backgrounds can come together and work their way through a complicated process to come out the other side with a beautiful creation. But it happened again, and I’m really proud of this Speculation book and the writers I worked with.

Tell me about your publications.

I write an urban fantasy series called the Anastasia Evolution Seriesabout a half faery-half human living in a vampire world in the near future. Anastasia has a difficult life, but I think part of what you walk away from after reading is that so many times in life we are alone. We have to make decisions alone and execute those decisions alone. Especially when it’s for the greater good. But if you’re lucky, you have a few good people to stand by you. They can’t always walk into the fire with you, but they will be there when you walk out.

The story I wrote in the first Utter Speculation anthology, The Lost Colony of Roanoke, was called Nokomis. I really enjoyed the research, because it’s a true mystery. Something truly unexplained. And after learning what had happened I wondered what it was like for the Gods of each culture to interact and watch their people unravel.

Please share what you have learned by indie publishing over the years?

Wow, what have I learned from indie publishing? I’ve learned that publishing is a truly difficult, long and tedious process. And not for the faint hearted. I learned to find yourself an editor and/or publisher you click with. Someone who understands you and understands the vision you want to project. Those things are really important.

What are you working on now?

I’m always at least partially working on the Anastasia series. There is so much more about her and her family that I need to share.

I’ve also started a vampire coffee table book that I’m excited about.

To follow River Eno check her out on Facebook, or go to her website.

Or go to her author page on Amazon for her entire published works

The Jersey Devil is Alive!

Or the book is at least. THE JERSEY DEVIL: A COLLECTION OF UTTER SPECULATION is an anthology of five short stories, of various genres, all with a different theory of where the Devil of the Pine Barrens comes from and what he wants.

With stories by Melissa D. Sullivan, River Eno, H.A. Callum, Susan Tulio, an me!

Available on Kindle or Paperback.

Big things in the coming months

Still working out blog changes, but I wanted to announce that my short story “The Riders of Harvestland” has been accepted for publication in the upcoming Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse anthology. This was such a fun story to write for such a great subject, I am really excited to be part of this awesome project with Camden Park Press. Updates will be coming.

In other news, there will be a new collection of utter speculation coming out in the coming weeks. Subject and cover will be revealed soon, and to celebrate, I will feature interviews with the authors here.

Don’t wait for your Muse to get to work. Don’t ignore her either.

I had a solid plan for the summer. Finish a new novel. Work on some short stories. Then get to work on polishing the hell out of an older novel that has been waiting for me. It was a good plan. A very productive plan.

And it’s pretty much been blown to crap.

But in a good way.

See, last week I was driving my kids home from camp and I got an idea. It wasn’t fully formed, but it was exciting to me and when something is exciting, no matter how flimsy the premise, I’ve learned it’s best to see where the idea leads you.

So when I got home I opened up my laptop with the intention of just getting down the gist and a feel for the protagonist.

Ten chapters and many late nights later, I’m still going on it.

My old manuscript languishes. I am really tired. But, damn, this story is really taking off.

Recently I had the very crappy task of finishing a manuscript that kept stalling and had lost all its inspiration. It really sucked and I didn’t want to do it. When I was done, the ending was sloppy and kind of bland and I know there is going to be a mountain of edits to beat it into shape, but I am so glad I fought my way through to the end. I have too often dropped stories when the muse left me so this was an exercise in growing the hell up and getting the work done.

After that huge task, however, I was ready to put the creative work aside for a while and looking forward to cleaning up this older story. It’s a story that figuratively spilled out of me one month, fast and furious and then done with hardly any nights off. It was rather amazing, honestly, but while it still has plenty of flaws to resolve it taught me not to ignore when the muse does come out.

I have plans, important plans for the work I need to get done, for the deadlines I want to meet. But my muse gives no shits about those. She is on board with this story, now, and if I ignore her to do my other work, I may be missing out on something rather amazing

Or maybe she’ll abandon me near the end and I’ll have to fight my way through to the end or shelve the manuscript until I have a better idea how to fit it together. Either way, this time of inspiration is a gift, and I will take it for all its got. And then I will work my ass off to do the rest.

Let the work sustain you

What is your goal? Your end game in your writing? You might be struggling to get an agent, get a contract, get five thousand sales. These things can be driving you forward, giving you purpose day to day.

Or, like, me they could be driving you crazy.

I have been querying on and off for several years, with several different manuscripts. I have felt highs and lows. many many lows. Putting out twenty queries and getting nothing back at all. Getting rejections that came back almost as soon as I hit send. Waiting and waiting and waiting only for that two line rejection to come through half a year later.

It was my goal. What I was working for every day.

And, honestly, it sucked.

There is nothing wrong with querying, with wanting an agent, to get published, with having something that you are working toward, but when you set your sights on that mountain, it is easy to lose track of why you are doing it, and it is easy to feel like every day it doesn’t happen is a waste of time.

Then you spend you time analyzing why it’s not working. You didn’t write to the trends. You don’t have the right voice. You need to cut your word count down. You just are not good enough.

Then it sucks even more.

The last year has been strange for me. I started setting personal goals, against myself instead of career goals that I need other people to fulfill for me. I challenged myself to write short stories again. I pushed myself to edit several manuscripts. I queried, a little, and then I let things go. I got some good responses and some rejections. I said thank you for positive feedback even when it didn’t come with an offer.

I still got rejections. Plenty of rejections, and I will not say I didn’t care. But it didn’t crush me. Because when I get an agent, then what?

I need a publisher. and I get a publisher, then what?

I need a great book sales. I get a great sales and then what?

I mean, does it ever reach a point where now I am suddenly satisfied? Where i have suddenly hit that magical goal where I know I am validated in all this work I have done?

I mean, I  dunno. Maybe. I’ll let you know when I get there. If such a state does exist, it’s a long way off. To be completely honest, if I’m not happy with what I am doing now, with my work, then I don’t think I can ever be validated by someone else.

This past year I have been trying to hold off on the hard goals and make my day to day work of writing great shit my priority. It hasn’t always been easy but I’ve seen a big improvement in how I feel about what I do and where I am going.

My writing has gotten better. I’ve made awesome writing friends. I published a piece in an anthology. I’ve created some work I’m really proud of.

I am not THERE at whatever hard goal I arbitrarily set for myself as the pinnacle of success. Because I don’t think there is a pinnacle. There is no end point to this game. Never a place where you plant your flag and say, I’m done. I made it. Now I can enjoy my life and be happy.

Happiness is now, in the work you do. In knowing that everything will come when you no long need it to validate you. When the work you do is what sustains you, you know that you can keep going, no matter what.

Our book is real! The Lost Colony of Roanoke: A collection of utter speculation is available Now on Amazon

Paperback

and  ebook (they should be on the same link at some point)

are now available. This has been such a weird and fun and crazy and frustrating and overall awesome process that I could not have gotten through without my fellow authors, River Eno, D R Kinter, and Susan Tulio, obviously because we all collaborated on the book, but even more we had the fantastic cover design by Adam C Allingham, the original artwork illustrations by Patricia A Carlson, and the amazon editing and publishing experience of Di Freeze, who was the only one who knew what she was doing.

We also had the fantastic Tiffany Morris to help steer us and a lot of support from friends and family and fellow writers.

Here is my first book baby. guys. She had four parents and and she’s kinda short and quirky, but we all love her and we’re releasing her to the world.

I hope she’s the oldest in the a big family.

Coming Tuesday 2/26! Four stories by Four Authors.

With four genres: romance, fantasy, horror, and fictional realism, we think there is something for everyone. The members of Writers Block, DR Kinter, River Eno, Susan Tulio and LCW Allingham (ah! that’s me!!)  have put together their first anthology.

The Lost Colony of Roanoke: A Collection of Utter Speculation

CRO
This message, carved into a tree, was the only clue to the fate of the colonists on Roanoke Island. For centuries, stories have circulated, theories were explored. But to this day, no one is really sure what happened to those first English settlers in the Americas.

These stories may offer a clue:

– A road trip through dystopian United States brings adventure and danger, and perhaps answers about the mysterious disappearance of the settlers.
– Gods of different worlds converge but their people may not blend as well as they do.
– A history teacher’s quest to liven up her lessons leads to a startling discovery about love, roots and the fate of the missing colonists.
– A young mother thrust into leadership struggles to establish peace between the English and the Natives of Roanoke. But a greater threat lurks in the dark forests that may consume them all.

Four stories from four authors, all exploring the fate of the missing colonists. Are any of them the answer to the greatest mystery of the United States?

Probably not.

So mark your calendars for Tuesday if you want a paperback or ebook copy! Link will go live at midnight!

We made a thing!

The Lost Colony of Roanoke: A collection of utter speculation will soon be available on Amazon! Its a collection of four short stories by four authors with different idea of what happened to the lost colonists of the first English colony in America.

Its long been a dream of mine to collaborate on a short story collection with other writers and last year when some awesome writers and I formed an online writing group, we were able to start making this dream something real.

But I had no idea how much work would be involved! We spent months writing our pieces, editing each others work, and rewriting. And that was the easy part.

With the help of an awesome editor and an amazing sensitivity editor, we are just about ready to release this baby to the world. Featuring original artwork for each story, The Lost Colony of Roanoke has taken a village to deliver, but the things we’ve learned have been invaluable and we are all so excited.

Art to support your art

Writers can be a fickle bunch. We immerse ourselves in our story, falling in love with our characters, daydreaming about our settings. Then we see something shiny in the distance, a new story idea, a really good book, even (gasp) something happening in our own real life and our make believe world can fall away, once again as flat as the pages it’s written on.

This is a good thing. Because a little obsession can help you complete a project, but a lot of obsession makes you a little creepy. And in every author’s life there is a time when they have to let their book, their characters, their make believe world go, whether it’s to the world or a folder on computer, so that they can create something new and life their own lives.

But if you want to get back to that space, whether you’re trying to pick up a story you haven’t completed yet or edit a manuscript that you have left to simmer, sometimes it is not so easy. Sometimes the words don’t flow, the excitement doesn’t pop. Your story remains flat to you and you can’t immerse yourself the way you need to do get the job done.

There are lots of little tasks, projects, challenges you can set yourself, but one of my favorite methods for getting back into a story is to come at it through different mediums. Sketch your characters or landscapes. Write a theme song. Build their setting with blocks or playdough or whatever you have lying around.

Cook the foods your characters eat. Wear the colors your characters wear. Write a poem. Design a logo. Whatever you want!

You don’t have to be good at it. Your characters can look like stick figures and your song can sound suspiciously like “Rebel Yell”, but you are creating withing your world again. And the world will open up to you.

And if your attempts at other art are really getting you down, make a vision board and a playlist (with “Rebel Yell”). Make a pinterest board. Cast the movie of your book with real life actors.

Have fun and let that healthy obsession with your work take you away.