Hello there Readers & Writers,
As always, I love when we have our Saturday Author Spotlights. We have the pleasure of interviewing Author Melinda R. Cordell today. We will have some awesome writing advice and get to know her and her books while we’re at it. Without pushing this introduction further let’s begin now!
What inspired you to start writing?
I was about 4 when I started reading and 5 or 6 when I started writing stories. I liked writing better than talking. People were scary and I really was very shy and had a speech disorder of some sort, and writing stories was so much easier and so much more fun. Writing is still my preferred method of communication, though I’m so much better about talking to people now. But I love to make everything into a story, even when I’m talking. Stories are my gospel and I live by the story.
When did you decide that you wanted to publish your first story?
When I was in third grade, I made and illustrated little books and sold them for a quarter. Then Mrs. Rogers would say “Mindy do your math!” and I’d kind of jump and put away the book I was working on and get back to the math lesson. I’m still pretty bad at math.
Describe your writing space.
It’s a messy desk in the corner of the bedroom that gets covered with a bunch of stuff that isn’t related to writing. So I sit in bed and write.
How do you do research for your books?
I read a bunch of stuff, get distracted, and then all of a sudden I fall down a rabbit hole and I’m reading about plagues in England or the evolution of the Gregorian chant and how it became a big thing in pop music in the early 1990s (this is true)
What motivates you to keep writing?
Writing is breathing for me, except there’s more interior screaming about how I’m not doing this right/not spending enough time on it.
Writing can be emotionally draining and sometimes stressful- particularly when stepping into the publishing realm of things. Any tips to share for the aspiring writers out there?
Heavy drinking is bad, but a little cup of something now and then can help you along, unless it puts you to sleep. Actually, I have a little Alphasmart Neo that has singlehandedly helped me write stuff. I have kids and a husband and a full-time job, and I still feel guilty when I sneak off and write, though I shouldn’t because generally everybody follows me into the bedroom and then sit around talking while I’m trying to write. Which is fine but it’s not very productive. But I got an Alphasmart Neo keyboard, which is a little keyboard that runs on batteries and has a tiny screen that you can’t really edit on. At bedtime I sit in the dark and type story stuff while I’m falling asleep, or at 3 a.m. when I wake up and can’t get to sleep. Those twilight hours have been super-helpful in getting the word count in. You can find Alphasmart Neos on eBay. Look for cheap ones — I got mine for $24 with shipping and handling. Best investment you’ll ever make.
Tell me about the books you write.
I write epic fantasy novels with dragons and adventure, usually with a young woman who is fierce and wants to defend her family but also wants to fight in battles. I seem to be a sucker for love in my stories, as well as redemption in some form. There’s heartbreak and humor, and usually I have a talking bird in there, just because I like birds. I also write gardening books because I spent about half of my life in horticulture. I load up the science but I also make it fun.
How many books have you written so far? Are you in any anthologies? Which book has been your favorite to write? If you have a one that is.
I think about 30 books? I used to keep track but I’ve been deucedly distracted lately. My latest anthology is Dragons and Mages, which is on preorder on Amazon right now. One of my books in there is The Flame of Battle, which I co-wrote with Pauline Creeden, and it’s my current favorite. Here’s why. I got my MFAC for writing for children in 2012 from Hamline, and shortly after I finally got my first traditionally published book deal, which was awesome. But I’d been sending out queries to editors and agents since 1996. I wrote good stuff, and I got really close to getting a publishing deal several times, but never quite close enough. Even after my book came out, I still was hearing NO from agents. Guys, I’d gotten at least a thousand book rejections over the years. I kept sending out stuff, but more and more the NOs were getting to me. I tried to write but couldn’t. I’d always written stories, but now I just couldn’t manage it. It felt terrible. Well, in 2016 I finally said “The hell with it!” and began self-publishing my old books. I liked that I was finally earning money with my books! It felt great! I wrote some gardening books, and they sold a little bit, and that was really cool. But I still couldn’t write a novel — I was just utterly beaten down. Then Pauline Creeden took a chance with me and we got together to co-author a series about Vikings and dragons. She had faith in me. I’d write the book and she’d buy the covers and advertising and editing. I said “How long should the book be?” and she said “80,000 words.” I’d never written anything that long, but I jumped in. Out came this book. I was so afraid I wasn’t writing fast enough, and a lot of the time I felt like I was fighting a giant squid when I was trying to get the words written. But in the space of about two months — while I was working overtime, mind you — I wrote 87,542 words! I felt like I’d leapfrogged Mt. Everest! I was also very tired and whiny, but I wrote ’em! And the story was great! I could still write and create!! I wasn’t a loser like those agents all said!!! So I came roaring back like a lion and now I’m writing all kinds of stuff and I love self-publishing with the heat of a million suns, and that’s why THE FLAME OF BATTLE, which is in the Dragons and Mages anthology btw hint hint, is my favorite story.
Do you have a favorite character that you have written? Why are they your favorite? Are they the main character? Tell us about them.
Actually it would be Wyatt in Those Black Wings. I married Wyatt’s real-life counterpart, so naturally I’m biased.
Tell us about your latest writing project
It’s the Dragonriders of Fiorenza series, and the first book is ASSASSIN’S BLADE which is coming out on May 7. It’s set in an alternative medieval Italy with dragons. Fia earns her living by ferrying rich people from city to city on dragonback, but when her father’s kidnapped, she pulls her assassin grandma out of retirement so they can hunt down the kidnappers and save her father.
Let’s get to know a bit more about you. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Procrastinate mightily and often about *gestures wildly at the world*
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Caffeine, chickens, cussing
If it were possible to have your favorite season all year long what season would it be?
Why did you chose that particular season?
What songs/ music are on your playlist?
This is my latest playlist — I have about 20 playlists on YouTube and they have all kinds of crazy stuff. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvCOEpp5O1Sf-VCh09IXXmTKIUNrYzyTz
What is your favorite food?
Right now it’s sticky rice with coconut milk and mango. Usually it’s tea though.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Ursula K. Le Guin and Nnedi Okorafor, because of the amazingness of their stories and worldbuilding.
What are you reading right now?
I haven’t read anything lately because I’m on damn social media all the time, take this computer away from me people!!!
What is one thing your readers don’t know about you?
I played sousaphone in marching band when I was in college. That was the most fun I’d ever had in band, even though I didn’t have enough air and sounded like a distant foghorn way down the coast. But it was a blast, no pun intended.
Where can readers find out more about you and your books?
BookBub aka BoobBub I can’t spell! https://www.bookbub.com/profile/melinda-r-cordell
Thank you for joining me on my blog today. Is there anything else you’d like to say before we head on out?
Support your local authors! Leave reviews for them when you can!
( YES YES YES love that last one) Thank you for joining us Melinda
And a shout out to all the readers, writers, and creators. See you all soon.