Self Published Fantasy Month: Interview with Lou Wilham

One of the things I knew I wanted to do as part of Self Published Fantasy Month is interview an indie author whose work I’ve enjoyed, and Lou Wilham was kind enough to oblige. Lou is the author of multiple fantastic self pubbed novellas including The Tale of the Sea Witch, The Curse of the Black Cat, and The Curse of Ash and Blood. Next up on her list is a steampunk Rapunzel retelling called The Girl in the Clockwork Tower (which comes out in just two days!). For more information on Lou and her awesome books, read on for the interview


Welcome to the blog! Why don’t you start off by telling us a little more about yourself and your books?

Ah, the question we authors hate the most, “tell me about yourself.” Haha!

All right, so here’s the skinny on Lou, I’m an unabashed nerd of all things. I love anime, drawing, crocheting, books, binge watching whatever strikes my fancy from shows about murder to rom-coms (seriously, Netflix doesn’t know what to do with me), and I’m not doing any of those things I’m probably talking about those things with some of my writer buddies or running after my Basset Hound, Sherlock.

As for my books, I don’t tend to stick to one genre or setting, because for me the stories are about the characters, not the setting. I like world building, don’t get me wrong. It’s fun. But for me at least, my books are about people. Granted, they’re imaginary people, but the things they struggle with (internally at least) are very real, and something we all face. So yeah, you won’t see me sticking to a genre, but one thing is for sure, there will always be magic.

So far, your books have been a mixture of fantasy themes and queer romance. What drew you to these genres in the first place and why did you decide to combine them?

Personally, I don’t like reading anything if it doesn’t have at least a little magic in it usually. There have been some exceptions, but generally I lean towards fantasy and sci-fi in what I read because I get enough of real life on the daily. So that’s what had me leaning towards the fantasy themes and settings. That’s just what I personally enjoy both reading and writing. Plus, I’ve always loved a good fairytale.

As for the queer romance themes, that’s a little more of an interesting question, I think. It wasn’t something that I consciously did, really. It was more of a question that spurred that on. The first queer romance I wrote was Tales of a Sea Witch, and it was in an anthology. I had decided I wanted to do a story based around the sea witch, but then I was like “ok, why would she hate the little mermaid and her family so much?” And the idea just came to me, “oooooh what if she had been in love with the little mermaid’s mom?” It sprung from there. For Black Cat and Ash and Blood it was a little more of a conscious decision as by that time myself and my brother both identified with some part of the LGBT+ community, and let’s be real there just isn’t enough representation out there. So I decided to add to it with stories I hoped would give everyone (not just those in the community) hope. I mean, really, we aren’t going to escape the stigma unless we start really seeing the LGBT+ people all around us.

A number of your novellas are fairy tale retellings. Tales of the Sea Witch is an origin story for the sea witch character from The Little Mermaid, and you’ve described The Girl in the Clockwork Tower as a steampunk Rapunzel retelling (which sounds awesome by the way). How do you manage to strike a balance between respecting the original tale, yet making it your own?

Honestly, it’s not always easy. I’m currently struggling with putting together an outline for my second Sea Witch book which will be a literal retelling of The Little Mermaid. But, I think it helps to look less at the exact events of the fairytale and more of the core of it. At its core, Rapunzel is about this girl who was snatched from her happy life, abused by her captor, kept locked away from the world, and ultimately escaped. So long as I keep those key events in mind, I can do whatever I want with the story. It likely helps that the original fairy tales aren’t usually more than a couple of pages long. There isn’t much story to them.

Are there any other fairy tales that you would like to explore in the future?

Oooooh so many. Haha! My Clockwork Chronicles series—which The Girl in the Clockwork Tower is the first book in—is going to feature a few more fairy tales including the unicorn story, a beauty and the beast and Snow White mashup, a Pinocchio and little mermaid mashup, and maybe even an Alice and Wonderland story.

I know you also design the cover art of your books as well. Have you always been interested in artwork? And do you have any advice for people who might like to create their own cover art?

Yes! When I was really little I told my entire family that one day I was going to be a cartoonist for Disney, that was my dream. Then in high school I got into graphic design because I was on a few writing forums and liked doing the design work for my characters. I actually got one of my associates in Art with a focus on graphic design, and for a little while I thought that’s what I was going to do with my life until I got into marketing by chance. So yeah, I have a loooong history with art and graphic design.

The best piece of advice I can give any artist or graphic designer is just to “consume” a lot of art. It’s the same advice most big name writers give to people who want to be authors, you have to learn from people who are already doing. I’m not saying copy someone. I’m saying follow artists you love, save pieces they’ve done that inspire you, and look to them when you’re thinking of ideas. For Tower in particular I had a few cover designs I’d found and loved that I drew inspiration from. Don’t copy, but don’t be afraid to be inspired by others. Like everything else, art doesn’t just spring up from nowhere. Also, inspiration is literally everywhere. I’ve got a phone full of pictures of design I loved at the grocery store to prove it.

This interview is part of Self Published Fantasy month. Do you have a favorite work of self-published fantasy that you would recommend?

Hmmm… I really like Elle Beaumont’s retellings, she’s one of my buddies from back in my writing forum days, and her world building is just magnificent. Also, Gail Carriger’s novellas are really amazing if you’re looking for some supernatural stuff, and gay werewolves of course.

Finally, what’s up next for you? Any exciting projects on the horizon that people should know about?

Oh lawd. I have a never ending list of projects it seems! Seriously, I get exhausted just thinking about all of the things I’m working on. Haha! Umm, once Tower is out in the world I have the first draft of a cyberpunk-ish fantasy heroes/villains story I finished up a couple of months ago called Villainous that I’d like to get out early in the new year if not before, I also have the second Sea Witch book I’d like to get out next year as well, I have a couple of ideas for a third Curse Collection book simmering on the back burner, and of course I have the second book in the Clockwork Chronicles in the works. So…. yeah…. lots of things!

Thanks so much for answering my questions! If you’d like to find out more about Lou and her work, you can follow her on her Instagram or her facebook. Instragram is the best place for regular updates. Make sure to preorder your copy of The Girl in the Clockwork Tower today!

Self Published Fantasy Month: My Recommended Reads

Hello everyone! In case you missed my last post, we are currently in the middle of Self Published Fantasy month, an event (in its third year!) all about celebrating excellent works of self-pubbed fantasy.  In the last post, I shared my TBR for the month. This time around, I thought I’d recommend a few books that I have recently enjoyed just in case you’re looking to add a new book to your TBR.

The DFZ Series by Rachel Aaron– As I mentioned in my 2018 recommendations posts for Self Published Fantasy month, I am a huge fan of Aaron’s Heartstriker series. The series, which begins with Nice Dragons Finish Last, is all about Julius, the one nice individual in a family filled with greedy dragons, trying to get by in a post-apocalyptic Detroit. So when I heard that Aaron was writing a spin-off series called The DFZ, I knew I had to check it out. And since the series just wrapped up earlier this year, you can read all three books in one go.

Start with Minimum Wage Magic, which tells the story of Opal Yong-ae. As a Cleaner, it’s her job to paw through the what’s left behind when someone is evicted. And while she may encounter magic or the occasional cybernetically enhanced individual,  Opal’s career path isn’t necessarily dangerous. That is until she finds a body on a job.

How do you know that the DFZ series is right for you? Does the idea of taking fantasy elements like dragons and magic and plopping them down in a cyberpunk future sound exciting? Would you like to read about a tough heroine who’s stubborn to a fault? Then start with book one, Minimum Wage Magic.

Ferromancer by Becca Andre- Ferromancer is the first book in Iron Souls, a steampunk series set on the Erie Canal in the 1800s. Violinist and entrepreneur Briar Rose loves her job as a Captain of a shipping boat. Then she learns that her brother plans on selling the company to the rail industry.  Unable to give up on her dreams, Briar snoops on the railroad and discovers that the designer might be a ferromancer, someone who practices a dangerous magical art.

I really enjoyed Ferromancer and actually hope to read the second book in the series, Soul Singer, this month.

How do you know if Ferromacer is right for you? Do you enjoy mashing together fantasy and historical fiction? Do you prefer your steampunk with a side of romance? Do you like to read about tiny, adorable mechanical dragons? Then check out Ferromancer.

Sinister Magic by Lindsay Buroker– Val Thorvald is a snarky assassin who takes out magical creatures. It’s a dangerous profession, but her elven blood and magical sidekick (a telepathic tiger) help her keep her head above water. That is until her latest assignment brings her face to face with a genuine threat: a dragon that doesn’t like her one bit.

Sinister Magic is a very recent read for me. It’s the first book in the Death Before Dragons series, and I’m totally planning on reading further.

How do you know if Sinister Magic is right for you? Do you enjoy classic fantasy characters (elves, dragons, dwarves) but want to see them transported into a modern-day setting? Do you enjoy sarcastic heroines that chose to shoot things rather than deal with their emotional baggage? Then check out Sinister Magic.

Til Midnight by Aya Ling– Alix is a poor cobbler summoned to the palace to mend the prince’s boots. But when she arrives, she discovers that the twelve princes have a secret.  She agrees to investigate them for extra money. Still, as she’s pulled deeper into their lives, she finds herself torn between potential financial freedom and her growing feelings for the handsome eldest prince.

Til Magic is the first book in Reversed Retellings a trilogy of gender-flipped fairy tale retellings, and this one dives into one of my favorites: The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I had a lot of fun with Til Midnight, have already read the sequel, and hope on finishing off the trilogy soon.

How do you know if Til Midnight is right for you? Do you enjoy fairy-tale retellings with a twist? What about an enemies-to-lovers style romance? Then check out Til Midnight.

The Cure of the Black Cat by Lou Wilham– Let’s finish off these recommendations with a novella. The Curse of the Black Cat is about Price Alrik. He may be expected to marry a princess but find that he just doesn’t like girls. When even the most beautiful of royals doesn’t stir him, he seeks out help from the Witch Gwydion. Now under a curse, Alrik will spend hundreds of years in the form of a black cat until he can learn to love himself.  A monumental task that might just be solved with the help of a handsome sushi chef.

The Curse of the Black Cat is a super cute fantasy romance novella and the first in a series. Book two, The Curse of Ash and Blood, is also worth your time.

How do you know if The Curse of the Black Cat is right for you? Do you enjoy sweet M/M romance with fairy tale vibes? Do you want to leave a book with warm and fuzzy feelings?  Then check out The Curse of the Black Cat.

The Lady of the Watchtower: Six Stories of Magic and Transformation by Nancy O’Toole Meservier– Wait a minute, isn’t this my book? Yes, I realize that it is a bit self-serving to put my own book on a list of recommendations, but it is a work of self-published fantasy, and obviously, I think you should read it!

The Lady of the Watchtower collects half a dozen stories of various lengths. This includes a retelling of Beauty and Beast where the heroine is both beauty and beast, a story about a complex spell going suddenly (and hilariously) wrong, and a dark tale of sister witches discovering their birthright.

How do you know if The Lady of the Watchtower is right for you?- Do you want to read stories about complex women and girls and how their lives are transformed by the power of magic? Do you enjoy fairy-tale retellings? Would you like to add a short story collection to your TBR this month to switch things up a bit? Then please check out The Lady of the Watchtower: Six Stories of Magic and Transformation. 

Those are my five recommend reads for Self Published Fantasy Month. Check back next week for more SPFM-related content!

 

International Giveaway for The Lady of the Watchtower

Just a quick update.

I was recently interviewed by the wonderful folks over at Self Published Fantasy Month about my life as a writer and thoughts on self-publishing. As part of that interview, a giveaway was set up for a paperback copy of my latest release, The Lady of the Watchtower: Six Stories of Magic and Transformation.

If you’d like to own a physical copy of The Lady of the Watchtower, then sign up for the giveaway right away, as it’s only open for four more days! This is an international giveaway, so you can jump on even if you don’t live in the US.

Looking forward to sending a copy to the winner!

Self Published Fantasy Month: My TBR for September 2020

Did you know that September is Self Published Fantasy Month? This annual event is all about honoring fantastic indie fantasy books, a topic near and dear to my heart. For one thing, I’m the author of my own work of self pupped fantasy (check out The Lady of the Watchtower, which just came out last week!), but I’m also a passionate reader of the genre. As a result, I will be posting weekly SPFM-related content.

I’d thought I’d kick things off by letting everyone know the indie books I hope to read over the next month. Maybe some of them will appeal to you as well!

Soul Singer by Becca Andre- This is actually the second book in Iron Souls, a series that checks off a lot of boxes when it comes to things I like about fantasy. Entrepreneur and violinist Briar Rose just wants to keep her family’s company from being sold off. Unfortunately, her efforts lead her into the world of Ferromancers, or people who can perform metal dangerous magic. The first book did a great job of blending history and fantasy. I know I enjoyed the unique steampunk elements and the secondary romance. I’m eager to see how things turn out in book two.

Poison and Honey by Kristen Brand– This novella is the first in a new series, Dark and Otherworldly. Poison and Honey focus on Leigh Morgan, a slave that secretly works to take down the Others and free her fellow humans. This is complicated when she attracts the attention of the handsome prince of the Otherworld. The second I first heard about this book, I knew I had to check it out. I look forward to reading it this month.

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung- This one might sound familiar to you. For one thing, it won The Self Published Fantasy Blog-Off. Secondly, it’s the official read-along book for Self Published Fantasy Month. The summary promises a grimdark story of thieves and revenge as well as a search for a legendary sword. Sounds like an exciting ride.

So that’s it for my TBR. I’ll check in at the end of the month and let you know how things went. In the meantime, keep an eye on my blog for more SPFM-related content.

My First Short Story Collection and Prepping for Self Published Fantasy Month: August In Review

August Posts

  1. Writing Retreats and Getting Ready to Publish my First Short Story Collection: July in Review
  2. Creating Compelling Characters and Sticky Situations: Two Upcoming Livestreams
  3. AVAILABLE TODAY! The Lady of the Watchtower: Six Stories of Magic and Transformation

And thus ends the summer of COVID.

I know. I know. Summer isn’t technically over until the end of September, but it’s starting to feel like fall already. The leaves are beginning to change here in Maine, and we’re experiencing more dramatic temperature shifts. It might be chilly in the morning and in the mid-70s by the afternoon, which can make getting dressed a bit of a challenge.

Because of the Coronavirus, it’s been a bit difficult to get the normal level of fun in. But I’ve done my best to find small moments of joy here and there. I recently had lunch at Old Orchard Beach and managed to get in some great pictures and even greater fries.  Seriously, if you ever happened to find yourself on the pier and OOB, make sure you don’t miss their famous fries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through this all. I, of course, have been writing.

Publishing The Lady of the Watchtower

The biggest event this month was undoubtedly publishing my fourth book, and my first short story collection, The Lady of the Watchtower: Six Stories of Transformation. It’s waaay to early to get anyone’s feedback on it (it’s only been out for about 48-hours), but I hope that people enjoy it. Short fiction is a tough sell in a world that seems a little more enamored with full-length novels or novellas, but I’m exceptionally fond of these characters and am happy to see the support it’s received so far.

Words, Words, Words

When I wasn’t getting ready for Watchtower‘s publication, I was spending my time cycling through various shorter projects. This includes something I’ve written specifically for the blog, so expect to hear more about that in a month!

Weirdly enough, I’ve also been thinking a lot about next year’s publication schedule. I know this sounds a little bananas, but given the time it takes for beta reads and professional edits, the soonest you’d likely seen anything longer than a short story from me is the new year. And while I haven’t nailed everything down, I think it’s safe to say that 2021 is going to be my biggest publication year yet!

What’s Next?

Regardless of what’s coming in the long run, I have some exciting stuff for the short term as well. September is the third annual Self Published Fantasy Month, and I have a handful of related posts going up starting next week. I must admit, becoming an author of self-published fantasy has made me even more invested in this already fun event. I will be documenting my reading progress over on my twitter and instagram for anyone that wants to follow along.

That’s all I have for now. Check back on Monday for my first Self Published Fantasy Month post!

AVAILABLE TODAY! The Lady of the Watchtower: Six Stories of Magic and Transformation

A sorceress haunted by the magic of her past…

A pair of sister witches embrace their birthright in vastly different ways…

A beautiful princess changed into a hideous beast…

Magic is a powerful force, able to transform everyone it touches. In this short collection, The Lady of the Watchtower, the lives of six different women and girls are altered forever thanks to their encounters with powerful spells, and deadly creatures.

Explore this book for original tales, such as “The Fox,” where the notoriously shifty avatar of the fox god takes on a job of revenge that that brings her face to face with the ultimate predator. Also included are fairy tales revisited, such as a modern-day twist on “Hansel and Gretel,” and a “Beauty and the Beast” inspired story where the heroine is both beauty and beast.

Dive into The Lady of the Watchtower for your own meeting with magic. Just be careful about the spells you encounter along the way.

I am so happy to announce that my first short story collection, The Lady of the Watchtower: Six Stories of Magic and Transformation is now available in ebook and paperback!

I had so much fun with this project. I tried to pick the stories that I was the proudest of, but also provided a nice variety of content. And in the process, I noticed common themes emerging. How do we face aspects of our lives that seemed predestined? How can we find the strength to deal with challenging and often personal obstacles?  And of course, throughout it all, the power of magic and transformation.

Please consider checking out The Lady of the Watchtower. It stands at around 35,000 words/126 pages, so about the length of your typical novella. The book includes fairy tale retellings and wholly original works. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Creating Compelling Characters and Sticky Situations: Two Upcoming Livestreams

Hey there! Just wanted to give everyone a quick update about two livestreams I will be taking part in over the next couple of weeks. This will be the second time I’ve dipped my toe into the livestreaming world since the superhero-fiction.com virtual conference, and I am both nervous and excited!

Writers Readers and the Stories We Love: A Conversation Featuring
Saturday, August 15th, 2020 3-4 PM EST
First up is a Facebook live for the more writerly-minded folks. Each episode of this show features a conversation about craft between the two hosts (Josh and Daien) and a special guest, which just happens to be me! This time around, we’ll be discussing creating effective characters, which is certainly something I have a lot of opinions about. If you’d like to check that out, the livestream will take place on Josh’s Facebook page on August 15th.

Local Writers Read: Sticky Situations
Saturday, August 22nd, 2020 3 PM EST
The second livestream has more of a local focus. My hometown bookstore, Quiet City Books, regularly puts on live readings from local writers. When COVID-19 put a stop to in-person readings, they decided to put them online. These livestreams are a joint effort between the Quiet City Books and local writer Josh Gauthier and Claire Guyton. The theme for this particular stream is Sticky Situations, and I will be reading from my upcoming short story collection, The Lady of the Watchtower. So if you’re interested in learning more about that, be sure to tune in.

Writing Retreats and Getting Ready to Publish my First Short Story Collection: July in Review

July Posts

  1. June in Review: Mid-Year Check-In
  2. Sunshine Fans Wanted! Looking for a few beta readers
  3. The Lady of the Watchtower Sample Chapter and ARC Offer

Hey everyone! Hope you guys had a good month. Once again, it was pretty challenging for me. And since most of those challenging aspects fall under the category of “deeply personal shit you probably don’t want to hear about anyway,” it’s going to be a shorter update than normal. On the positive side, I did manage to get a lot done on the writing front, so let’s talk about that for a bit.

An Unexpected Writing Retreat

As you might expect, vacation time is a complicated thing in the time of COVID. As a result, I haven’t really taken any all year (unless you want to count being furloughed). But as it looks like this pandemic isn’t coming to an end anytime soon, I might as well take the time before I lose it.

I’m fortunate enough that my parents have a beach house in southern Maine. So with their permission, I ended up using the space for four days earlier this month as a place to both relax and write. In fact, it ended up being a bit of a mini writing retreat, which allowed me to explore this side project (a haunted house novella) that I’ve been throwing around in my brain for a while. I wasn’t the perfect picture of productivity, but I did get quite a few words down during that time. Unfortunately, in the process, I ate waaay too much food from local take out places. Let’s just ignore those extra few pounds, shall we?

It’s short fiction time!

When I wasn’t on my writing retreat, I found myself juggling various short fiction projects, including that Sunshine story I mentioned earlier in the month. I’ve also been spending time getting ready to launch my upcoming short story collection, The Lady of the Watchtower: Six Stories of Magic and Transformation.

I’m quite excited about this release, but I’m also not sure what to expect from it. I’ve technically been writing fantasy longer than I have been writing superhero fiction. In fact, many of the stories in this collection were actually published years before. But as someone who’s published multiple superhero novels, this almost represents breaking out into a new genre. To help promote the book, which comes out on August 31st, I’ve been using these little quote images on Instagram, which I made on Canva. Hopefully, they’ll help convince a few people to pick up the book.

So that’s it for me for July. Once again, I suspect August will be a pretty quiet month here, but I have some exciting stuff planned for September, which is Self Published Fantasy Month, so get hyped for that!

The Lady of the Watchtower Sample Chapter and ARC Offer

A sorceress haunted by the magic of her past…

A pair of sister witches embrace their birthright in vastly different ways…

A beautiful princess changed into a hideous beast…

Magic is a powerful force, able to transform everyone it touches. In this short collection, The Lady of the Watchtower, the lives of six different women and girls are altered forever thanks to their encounters with powerful spells, and deadly creatures.

Explore this book for original tales, such as “The Fox,” where the notoriously shifty avatar of the fox god takes on a job of revenge that that brings her face to face with the ultimate predator. Also included are fairy tales revisited, such as a modern-day twist on “Hansel and Gretel,” and a “Beauty and the Beast” inspired story where the heroine is both beauty and beast.

Dive into The Lady of the Watchtower for your own meeting with magic. Just be careful about the spells you encounter along the way. 


As you may know, I have a short story collection, The Lady of the Watchtower: Six Stories of Magic and Transformation, on sale in just one month. Take a look at this page to learn about my special preorder and how to get a bonus short story (about dragons, no less!).

One thing that really helps books get traction is to have early reviews. Authors take advantage of this by sending out free copies of said books in advance of publication. If the description above sounds like your thing, then why not read it a little bit early? Just fill out this form in order, and I’ll get in contact with you about your free advanced copy.

If you still need a little convincing, then keep on reading to check out the opening of “The Fox.” This short story is all about Vi, trickster avatar of the fox god. I had a ton of fun writing from Vi’s perspective and following her on her quest to take down the ultimate predator. I can only hope that you’ll have just as much fun reading about her.

Continue reading

Sunshine Fans Wanted! Looking for a few beta readers

In case you’re unaware, I have a Works in Progress section of my website where I talk about (you guessed it!) all the writing projects I’ve been working on. One that’s been up there for a couple of months is Short Fiction Project Sunshine, which I’m finally comfortable talking about.

And that’s because I need your help.

I’ve been working on a standalone short story all about Dawn’s best friend, Sunshine Campbell. It’s all about her tendency for being unlucky in love and how she reacts when there’s more to her mysterious date than first appears. The story is about 7,000 words long, and I hope to one day share it with the world. But before that, I need a few trusted eyes, also known as beta readers, to look over it.

So if you’re a big Sunshine fan, or like the more romantic aspects of the Red and Black series, I hope you’ll consider signing up to be a beta reader. A beta reader looks over a draft of a work and lets the author know what they liked and disliked about it. This can hopefully help smooth out any significant issues before the writing is published. If you’d think you’d be up for reading this short story (currently called “The First Date Curse”), then either shoot me an email at nancyotoolemeservier@gmail.com or leave your email address here in the comments. I’ll then contact you with more information.

Looking forward to hearing from you!