From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksMike Lance is another one of the many wonderful new friends I’ve made since becoming an Indie author. He has written the Battle Wizard Saga – but, as is usually the case with Indies, also has a rich background.

In his case, this background includes designing a bomber wing. Read on to find out more about this exciting (and, according to Electra, very handsome) man, who also has a wicked sense of humor.

The Usual

What inspired you to write this book?

Slan by A.E. Van Vogt opened my eyes in third grade (8 or 9 years old) to a new world of possibilities and started my obsessive love for SciFi. I transitioned to Fantasy when I began to feel I’d seen most of the SciFi story lines and after I discovered dragons.

I’d always enjoyed writing, but it consisted of telecommunications new product specifications, sales proposals, and departmental budgets. It was a natural transition since most people assumed those were fictional.

When a broken hip from a bicycling accident sidelined me a few months after getting laid off, I had a lot of time on my hands and started writing a novel (currently buried deep in hard drive storage.) After that effort I switched from Thrillers to Contemporary Fantasy.

Wait – you’re saying that budgets are not fictional? Wow… I always make stuff up when I prepare them! Anyway, was that novel the first thing you ever wrote?  

Yes, a thriller, which several authors and readers have urged me to resurrect. They say it was a good story, but in my now vast experience (note the tongue in cheek) I find it wordy and poorly organized. Maybe someday.

What other writing have you done? Anything else published?

When I was an aerospace engineer I did the structural design on the B-1 bomber wing pivot. It’s still flying. Does that count?

Erm, probably not, although my engineering heart is darned impressed! Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

Other than trying to stay fit with a regular exercise routine (80-120 bicycle miles per week when the weather is warm, and elliptical and weights when the weather forces me inside), my activities revolve around writing. I help other authors publish their books and do some web design for them. Cover design, formatting, and uploading POD and eBooks are the hobbies in which I engage.

A bit of the Engineer still shows through because I code the eBooks in XHTML.

I guess I could classify cooking as a hobby. The Paella recipe I use is my all-time favorite.

Engineer, cook, web designer… we must be related. Although you’re better looking. So perhaps it’s just an engineering thing. What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

Outlining the fourth novel in The Battle Wizard Saga and toying with re-writing the Thriller that started me down this path. And I have two books I’m preparing for other authors (cover, format, upload, etc.) with two others pending.

Nice! Which are your favorite authors and what do you love about them?

Lois McMaster Bujold—intriguing characters, attitude, and sassy dialog; Ann McCaffery—her dragon riders started my transition to fantasy; Kevin Hearne—snappy dialog, Oberon the Irish wolfhound, and the depth and breadth of his delving into mythology; Jim Butcher—urban magic (a wizard for hire in Chicago—what a concept) intense characters; Octavia E. Butler—fantastic speculative science fiction with superb writing that makes you think; Jonathon Stroud—attitude, dialog, interesting details; Dick Francis—wonderful stories with endearing characters; James Michener—a lot better way to learn history than I remembered from high school; Jean Auel—rejected over 300 times because she had invented a new genre-prehistoric romance.

A great bunch! As for Auel, I had no idea she’d been rejected for so long. I bet she wishes she had Amazon at her disposal back then… What genres do you read mostly and what are you reading now?

In the main, I read Indie novels from writers in my network. I also try to post reviews of the good efforts. Sometimes, if the effort is good but there are issues, I’ll document what I think are issues and forward them to the author, something I am always grateful for when readers help me that way.

I’m reading The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. I can’t say enough good about it. It’s a poignant story about loss, recovery, and character. That may sound boring, but it’s anything but. The writing is some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. That lady can really turn words into magic.

Are you an Indie author? If so, do you have any advice for other indie authors?

Find a good critique group and leave your ego at the door. If it is occasionally uncomfortable, it’s to your benefit. A good critique group will look at more than punctuation, grammar, and spelling. Story arc, believable and natural dialog, character development, tight writing and efficient use of words, and does the story pull the reader along are some of the areas a where a good critique group can help. It doesn’t have to be face-to-face. There are online groups as well.

Of course it’s important to find a group that reinforces the areas where your writing is good. That ensures that those writing muscles stay strong while the weak are strengthened. And although a writer needs a thick skin, no one can really divorce their ego.

If you can find a critique group like that, buy them lunch or occasionally throw a party. They will make your work better, maybe enough to be successful. Writers need an honest support group. Unless your mom teaches college level creative writing, she’s not your best writing advisor.

I know what you mean, I have my beta-readers for that, and I love each and every one of them. Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

I researched the mythology incorporated in The Battle Wizard Saga novels. Summaries of that information are included on my website for those readers who would like to learn more. In addition to the mythology history, current and historical imagery is featured. The effort to convert my research to interesting web pages continues. Information on things like Manticores, Wyverns, the Basilisk, etc. can be found under the Arcana tab on my website http://CM-Lance.com.

What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

My family. Families. Mom and Dad for nature and deep nurture. My brothers and sisters—supportive and loving no matter how long we’ve been apart. My wife and her family which she was so good to let me become a part of. Our kids—I could devote a chapter to them.

That’s nice! How would you like to be remembered?

A creative nerd who liked to help people.

The unusual

Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us about them. Who inspired their characters? Would you like to meet them? What would you tell them if you did?

My characters all live in my head. Resemblance to any persons living or dead is more than coincidental.

When I suggested participating in this interview, I encountered a Do Not Disturb sign. Apparently there are things going on in there I will have to investigate further. Most of them are too young for that kind of inappropriate behavior.

Sorry to hear that. An unruly lot, I see. If you had to describe a theme or thread running through your life, what would it be? What’s your life theme?

Don’t worry, be happy, but work hard toward your goals.

I’m so stealing that. Is it true you’ve been abducted by aliens?

No, just the opposite. When I was a child, aliens dropped me off as they were traveling through. I’ve never discovered what I did to irritate them. Still trying to find my real Mx%yt*h@33 (parents in the z5^&HT@n language-see dimensional origin below.)

Oops, sorry, that might have been my bad. I told you were picking on me. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Where are you from?

In Dragon Sword, the third book in The Battle Wizard Saga, the Wizard Express traverses a dimension with herbivores the size of semi-trucks, colored like parrots, and resembling short-necked brachiosaurs. That is actually one of my earliest childhood memories before I was left here on Earth. I think those were my older sister’s pets.

Yes. Yes they were. Name your claim to fame.

It’s not fame, but an Engineer that does cover design is kind of scary. Am I in my right brain, my left brain, or just out of my mind?

Lol – I know the feeling. Which one do you prefer: Elephants or tigers?

Tigers. Probably my 2nd fave after cheetahs. Borzois are a close third.

Oh, Borzois! I thought you said Bourgeois. Which did make me wonder about you for a second.

If you had to live over again what would you change in your life?

Nothing. Well, maybe select the right lottery numbers.

You’ve been reading my stories, haven’t you? Where in the universe would you live if you could travel anywhere?

There are so many choices and I haven’t seen all of the available. Perhaps in a dirigible, floating across the world trying to experience all the perfect places that I have time for.

Not to find your parents? That’s cold, man. Just cold.

What is the Battle Wizard Saga?

Sig is looking forward to high school graduation, regretting that magic has passed him by, when his Great grandfather shows up at the family farm in Minnesota with injuries inflicted by a dark mage. He has returned to give Sig a sword shaped medallion transferring his legacy as a Battle Wizard, to lead the fight against black magic.

But Sig has never heard of Battle Wizards and doesn’t have any magic. On the heels of the surprising news about his destiny, Sig learns that the dark mage is trying to kill him before he can gain his magic. The medallion gives Sig one small magic capability. He can change into a nine foot tall, warrior, complete with sword.

After Great grandfather Thor succumbs to his injuries, Sig leaves for college at Northwestern University to study the Physics of Magic. The head of the department is a wizard recruited to help him find his magic. With his new physical capabilities and the help of his friends, Sig sets out to find his magic, while battling attempts on his life by the dark mage and the demons he summons.

Who is C.M. Lance?

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksGrew up near Ft. Worth, Texas. Became an Aerospace Engineer, then Financial Analyst, Accountant, Product Manager, Operations Director, Sales Executive, and Writer in that approximate chronological order. BSAE-UT Arlington, MBA-UCLA. You can use your imagination to make up what the letters stand for.

Lived in southern and northern California, Texas, Oklahoma, and now in the middle of the United States with my Interior Designer wife. Three grown children span the United States from New York to Austin, TX to San Diego. I admire our children for having careers which absorb their interest.

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