I’ve known of today’s featured Idaho author, Loni Townsend, well before this blog ever came into existence as she once upon a time was a co-worker with my ex. Only once I moved to North Carolina, did I discover her writing efforts. I quickly grew to love her Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#ISWG) posts that appear on the first Wednesday of each month. Now that I live back in Idaho, I still have yet to meet her in person, but I’m sure we will say hello in the flesh one of these days.
Official Bio: Loni Townsend. Wife. Mother Writer. Ninja. Squirrel. By day, she writes code. By predawn darkness, she write fantasies. All other times, she writes in her head.
People call her peculiar with a twisted sense of fashion, but don’t let those understatements fool you. Her behavior is perfectly normal for a squirrel disguised as a human. That’s part of being a ninja—blending in.
She makes her home in Idaho with her sadistically clever—yet often thwarted—husband, two frighteningly brilliant children, and three sneaky little shibas.
1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your most-recently released book.
Unfortunately, I’m a slow writer. This World Bites, my humor fantasy novella, released in February of 2015.
It’s her first day on a new world, and Cera’s already found trouble. Michael, her guardian, is bitten by a zombie and will soon join the undead ranks. Everyone tells her there is no cure, but Cera won’t give up. She’ll face off with zombie hordes, demon slavers, and black market informants if it means she’ll find a cure for Michael. But it turns out, she’s not the only one hunting for something. Something is hunting her.
2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.
I was a tween, binge-watching Sailor Moon, when the idea of a guy getting sucked to another world popped into my head. I was deep into my magical princess phase at that point, so this guy from another world certainly needed to win the heart of a fellow powerful female. Throw in a bunch of other supporting roles with hard-to-pronounce names, an evil fairy who wanted to rule the world, some magical creatures to help my heroes, and I was golden.
Over two decades later, Derek was still with me. He had his lopsided, boyish smile and arrogant charm, but he and his story of getting sucked to another world had grown and matured just as I had. I figured if he was able to stick it out that long inside my twisted brain, he deserved to have his story told.
3. As an Idaho resident, what do you most enjoy about living here?
My favorite adventures include riding the rapids in a friend’s rubber raft, running through wine country, and occasionally jumping out of an airplane. This summer, my best friend and I hope to cross ziplining off our list. All of these are accessible here.
I also like the cost of living, the fact that I could pay off my mortgage and still save up for my kids’ education, and that I have a job I enjoy. I’m a Java Programmer and there’s something wonderful about bossing around a computer while designing and writing tools to help people be more efficient. Oddly, my writing has come in handy many times when reviewing customer-facing verbiage.
4. Describe some highlights of Idaho’s literary community.
The people in Idaho are wonderful. Just through starting a critique group (inspired to do so after reading one of Jeri’s posts and deciding that was exactly what I wanted), I have made connections which has gotten me invited to sales events and even participating in an anthology. The people here are always aiming to help others succeed, either by giving their advice on what works and what doesn’t, or hooking you up with someone who can point you in the right direction.
5. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
Squirrel Talk is a peek into my life, both writing related and not. As my bio says, I’m a wife, mother, writer, ninja, and squirrel. I started the blog for the same reason I started writing–Derek. He kept me awake at night. Since no one likes to suffer alone, I posted all my ramblings online, where they belong, of course.
Most of my posts are related to my writing, since that is what dominates my thought process a good duration of the time. Other things include technical tips I find useful (for example, I posted a quick and dirty tutorial about throwing together an ebook) or what I’ve learned through my own studies (like my love for good typography). Lately, though, my offline life has been seeping into my online one, so visitors are bound to find a few laments here and there.
6. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?
I pour my thoughts out in whatever form I can manage with the miniscule amount of time I have. It might be on my phone, though I prefer a full-sized keyboard at my disposal. If it’s something quick, I’ll type it in Google Docs so that it synchronizes across all my accounts. If I know I have a dedicated time to spend on writing, I’ll pull up yWriter to organize all my scenes in a logical flow.
Of course the other part of writing is making sure other people like it. I’ve got a number of online critique partners as well as a local group. I will hit everyone who is willing to give it a read just to get an opinion on what works and what doesn’t. Is it just something one person is hung up on, or do multiple people have issues? Then, when I’m finally satisfied, I hire an editor to give me a final pass.
7. Are you traditionally published or self-published?
I opted for the self-publishing route, because I’m a habitual DIYer.
Many of the skills for putting together a book, I already possessed because of my programming background. E-Books are HTML disguised as a fancy zip file. I found I could use cascading style sheets to control indents, font size, and even add some creativity with small caps. I downloaded tools like Sigil and Calibre, just so I could control and obsess over clean code. I wanted to know how it was done.
Having conquered that with my existing skills, I figured why not tackle the print version while I was at it. I found The Book Designer and poured over the advice to determine what I wanted and needed to pull off a beautiful interior. While perusing The Book Designer’s site, I stumbled upon the e-Book cover design awards. Joel Friedlander would critique the covers, noting what works and what doesn’t. I did my best to pay attention, and dove into creating my own through self-study.
8. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?
I suck at marketing, so I’m not sure you want my advice. But if there was any I’d give to someone I don’t wish the worst for, it’s make connections. Meet other writers, readers, and reach out to them. Connect with them personally before trying to sell them something. Relationships are worth more than rollercoaster sales.
9. What future projects can we look forward to?
Isto, the sequel to Thanmir War, is my focus and passion at the moment. Though, I hope to complete Murder Most Fowl this year, the second of the Cera Chronicles.
10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know? What passions drive your life?
Be yourself, even if that self has the identity of a squirrel who struts around in goggles and corsets. It tends to leave an impression on people.
You can connect with Loni Townsend and her social media sites via her author website and blog.
Is there anything else you’d like to know about Loni Townsend?
Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2017.