The Celwyn Newsletter Issue 14

In this issue, interviews with:

Eric Deckers, author of Mackinac Island Nation

JP Corwyn, author of the Dawns of Unrest

A. R. Farina, author of the Austen Chronicles, a modern-day, coming-of-age tale of the classic Jane Austen story.

Richard Walter, screen writer and author of Deadpan  

Celwyn’s Cats

So much hair, so little time, and no editing help.

An Interview with Eric Deckers, author of Mackinac Island Nation

Erik Deckers has been a professional blogger and ghostwriter since 2009 and is the co-author of four social media marketing books. He published his first novel, Mackinac Island Nation, in 2019; his second, Whither, Utopia, will be released in 2024. Erik has been blogging since 1997, and a newspaper humor columnist since 1994. For Spring 2016, Eric was the Writer-in-Residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando. and is now the president of their board of directors.

Erik can be reached at

Mackinac Island Nation is a historical thriller that twists and turns through an unforgettable plot.

When you were writing this book or previous books, did the plot flow just as you initially wanted it to look, or did you have to change anything major?
I always worry that I don’t rewrite my books enough. I have one friend who rewrote his entire manuscript 3 or 4 times. Another guy I know rewrote his manuscript 17 times! He would print out the previous one, stick it in a drawer, and then rewrite the whole thing.
That always seemed a little precious to me and maybe a bit of fear. I pretty much know what I’m going to say the first time. I plan my books out and then just write everything down in the first draft. There may be things I have to change, but they’re minor. I know what I want the characters to do and say, I know how I want the story to end, so I just write the story until we reach there.
It could be that I’m not torturing myself enough in the writing and rewriting, but not enough that I’m going to actually do anything about it. For now, it’s just a low-grade nagging in the back of my brain.

Can you see yourself using AI in your books? On what part and why?
I use AI as a tool for brainstorming new ideas. When I ghostwrite nonfiction, I use to transcribe the interviews. But for actual creation? Not at all: AI doesn’t write with heart, and it doesn’t engage.

Which of your books was the hardest to write, and why?
My first novel, Mackinac Island Nation. At that time I had a writing residency at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, and it gave me terrible impostor syndrome. I worked hard to fight the feeling because it dogged me. I had to ignore my fears and focus on my work.

Does your own reading stay within your writing genre, or do you read a different genre for yourself?
I love reading humor and satire because that’s primarily what I write. But I also love reading mysteries. I would like to write mysteries, but it hasn’t happened yet.

It looks like you also write nonfiction. Is there more of that in your future?
Yes, constantly. My first four books were all nonfiction (on social media and branding), and my novel was my first attempt at book-length fiction. I will be doing a lot more fiction AND nonfiction in the future.

Will there be a sequel to Mackinac Island Nation, and if so, what will it focus on? Will it have a solid ending or leave things open for more?
My second novel, Whither Utopia, is a sort of sequel. It takes place in the same universe as the first, but it’s 40 years in the future, and all the world’s conservatives are dead from another pandemic. Some minor characters and their children from this book appear in the second one. My current novel is not a sequel.

What is in a Name?

How do writers find names for their characters?

A few words on Names… (her name is Wolfie)

  1. Look to the future. If you are writing under your real name, will it some day reflect on your personal or professional life? Or the reverse, will it help your sales to have your real name connected to your genre?

You might want to consider a nom de plume for your writing. I use my middle and maiden name. Also, for your social media name it is very helpful to have the word “author” or “writer” in it,. Even if you are new and aren’t ready to use certain social media for your writing, lock down the name you want now. Also, if you are satisfied with your site’s name, then great, otherwise, it would be good to get a book centric domain too.

  1. Character names are important, and they should either match the character’s skills/traits, persona, or visual of them, or be the opposite. A character who is the opposite of what their name suggests is memorable. Example: in Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel Wilson, the female protagonist—who was brave and fearless—-was named June.
  2. Where to find names? You will run into them long before you need them, and a tip is to keep a running list. Texting or emailing yourself when you see one is an idea among others, or an ap.

You can find great names in:

the credits at the end of tv shows, magazines, or movies, or acknowledgements in books. Sometimes, you will see half a name ( eek! copyright. Don’t use the whole thing) in other books, commercials, blurbs for other books (not necessarily in your genre), and there is always traditional old-fashioned names.

  1. You can also make names up. One I made, or had never seen, was Mrs. Pentafax (she ended up as a little old lady). I think I was looking through an office supply catalog at the time. Or if you see a great one already used, you can change the spelling of it. And don’t be afraid to combine them.

More Name Sources
Internet sites for: baby names, foreign baby names, historical sites, the listings at cemeteries, businesses, magazine (foreign too) articles, names of ships, city maps of interesting towns/cities in Europe.

Someday you might discover a name that actually suggests a character to you……

An Interview with JP Corwyn, author of The Drums of Unrest

JP Corwyn is a legally blind Military Fantasy/Horror author, singer, songwriter, and composer.  His genre tags—Blind, Indie, Rock and Blind Indie Prose—aren’t simply pretentious and snarky!

Corwyn started the Cycle of Bones series in early 2019 as an indie author. In 2023, he was approached by and signed with 4 Horsemen Publications. The new books, The Drums of Unrest and The Eaters of Time will be available August 2024.

If you are curious about his music, check out:

  1. Were any of the magical creatures in “The Drums of Unrest” based on creatures from real-world folklore?

In Drums—specifically, only one thing fits that particular bill: the Vodník. The major location in the early parts of the series is the Duchy of Kovalun, which is based largely on Czech and Estonian cultures. The Vodník found an easy home there beside creatures either partially, or fully, of my own design.

  1. It is highly unusual to find an author who marries his music to his prose. Can you talk about the music Silver in the Skies from The Cycle of Bones, original soundtrack?

I am, as far as I know, the only author who composes, produces, performs, and records his own soundtracks. At least so far. That song is a moment in time within the prequel: The Dawn of Unions. It’s the memory of a moment just before a particular battle begins, penned by a survivor of that battle, and is based on an earlier instrumental piece that serves as Countess Ylspeth’s theme. It seems to have resonated with fans, which is flattering, as always.

  1. Do you find writing action scenes stimulating or difficult?

I get asked this a lot. There are authors who act out some of what they write. I spent nearly a decade fighting in armor (and loving every minute of it) before 2017. At that point, my continued vision loss made that impossible. While I miss it terribly, as many of my fellow combatants say, “life’s hard. Wear a helmet.” When I eventually picked up the proverbial pen, I came to a conclusion—one I’ve often been quoted for in the years that followed: “If I can’t describe what it’s like training or fighting in armor, or standing in the shield wall, what the hell was I doing all those years?” I don’t want you to feel as if you’ve watched or read about a battle sequence. Instead, I want you to feel as if you were there in that battle. I want you to stand shoulder to shoulder with Kaith, Kastan, Eobum, Lashjuk, Geroslaw, and all the rest who were there.

Dawn of Unions, the beginning book of the series:

What is Magical Realism?

Here is a link to my article that appears in the Mystery Review Crew blog.

Gina Rae Mitchell

5 Tips to Fine-Tune Your Reading List

Avid bibliophiles need a reading list. It doesn’t have to be in-depth or chiseled in stone, but it helps to keep you on track and avoid reader burnout. Here are a few essential tips to get you started on the road to better reading.

Before you start building your list, let’s take a look at your goals.
Determine why you’re reading each book. Are you looking to learn something new, entertain yourself, or achieve personal growth? Having clear goals helps you choose books that align with your objectives. This is usually the most essential aspect of building a personalized reading list.

Now, you can start making a reading list that suits you and brings you joy.

  1. Diversify your genres:
    You should include a mix of genres to keep your reading interesting and broaden your perspective. Try to balance fiction with non-fiction, classics with contemporary works, and include authors from various cultural backgrounds.
  2. Recommendations:
    Consider books recommended by friends, family, or trusted sources. Recommendations often come with personal insights that can enhance your reading experience.
  3. Research:
    Before adding books to your list, research the authors and read reviews. This will help ensure that the book aligns with your interests and expectations. Nothing is worse than starting a book only to find that its views and values don’t mesh with your beliefs.
  4. Limit Your List:
    Keep your reading list manageable. Instead of having an overwhelming number of books, maintain a list of top-priority reads and revisit it regularly to update and refine it. This is possibly the most challenging tip for avid readers. We want to read everything…now!
  5. Balance Length and Complexity:
    Mix shorter, lighter reads with longer, more complex ones to prevent burnout and keep your reading momentum going. After I finish a heavy book, such as a psychological thriller, I find a light romantic comedy or historical fiction cleanses the palate. Read the rest of the list here:

Following these tips, you can create a reading list tailored to your interests and goals, keeping your reading experience enjoyable and fulfilling. This will help you become a lifelong reader who thoroughly enjoys all aspects of reading.


Speaking of lists, here’s a peek at a “few” of my upcoming June reviews just to show you the diversity of what I review on my blog.

The Rosy Dream, Books 1 & 2, by Matt Duggan (Ostraca & In Extremis) – Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction

Exiles by LJ Ambrosio (Book 3 in the Reflections of Michael Trilogy) – Coming of Age Fiction

Rock, Crush, Roll by Hunter Snow – Rockstar Contemporary Romance

Cornbread, Ribs, and Murder by Brenda Whiteside (Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery) – Cozy

My Gangster Father and Me by Marcia Rosen – Memoir

The Celwyn Series YouTube channel

An Interview with A. R. Farina, author of Welcome to Mansfield!

A.R. Farina is the author of the Austen Chronicles series from 4Horsemen Publishing. He shares an empty nest with his librarian wife, and they enjoy reading books and watching sunsets.  He is a college professor with a M.A. Ed. and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Fun fact: he hosts a weekly podcast on the Comics in Motion Podcast network where he critically analyzes indie comics and graphic media.

Welcome to Mansfield is a modern-day, coming-of-age retelling of the classic Jane Austen story filled with heartache and friendship.

1.  Is there something about your books or your point of view that you think readers should know? 
The narrator of the Austen Chronicles has an opinion and speaks directly to the reader all the time. It is personal. The narrator will say, “Don’t worry Dear Reader.” and things like that. It is a different way to do third person, and makes the narrator feel like part of the cast.

 Of all the characters in the books, which is the most like your personality?
The character of Julia is the most like me. She is altruistic to a fault, and that holds her back as much as it propels her.

 Will there be a sequel to Welcome to Mansfield, and if so, what will it focus on?  Will it have a solid ending or leave things open for more?
Yes! It is a series. I am doing a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s books in a shared universe. So each book is stand-alone, and the characters interact. Book 2 comes out in October and book 3 is with the editor. I am starting book 4 now.4. Do you have your next book’s plot already in your head? Could we have a preview?
Books 2 and 3 are prequels to book 1, so book 4 is a direct sequel. We meet the character Jane Fairfax in the first book briefly, and we are going to follow her journey as she grows as a person and a songwriter.

5. Can you see yourself using Ai in your books? 
Never ever ever. I would rather write a book that sucks and has a soul, than a perfectly acceptable book that doesn’t.6. What do you think new authors should decide before they begin their book? Should it be who they are writing for (themselves or their audience)?
They should know what story they want to tell for themselves. The most harsh critic and most important member of the audience is in the mirror.

7 Are there books in another genre in your future?
For sure. This series is full of YA books set in the modern world. I have some essay collections coming out soon. I also have some ideas for a dark short story collection for adults. The working title is Unresolved. Each story ends with an open question of what happens next. I also have thought about retelling some of the horror classics from minor characters’ perspectives. An example is telling Frankenstein from Elizabeth’s point of view.8. Does your own reading stay within your writing genre, or do you read a different genre for yourself?I read anything. I usually have several books going at once to keep the ADHD happy. I am currently listening to a classic, realistic fiction novel as an audiobook, I am reading a horror comic omnibus, and because my day job is that of a college professor, I am always reading research papers.

An Interview with Richard Walter author of Deadpan

Richard Walter is an author of best-selling fiction and nonfiction, celebrated storytelling educator, screenwriter, script consultant, lecturer and a retired professor who led the screenwriting program in the film school at UCLA for several decades. He has written scripts for the major studios and television networks; lectured on screenwriting and storytelling and conducted master classes throughout the world. His new novel, Deadpan, published by Heresy Press, is available for order now.

….there is a priceless joke at the end of this interview…..

1. You are a fan of magical realism. Give us your definition of this genre and what are its advantages to an author?

Magical realism describes narratives about the fantastic and fantastical, incredible events in an everyday, rational, believable  voice. 

2.  Does your own reading stay within your writing genre, or do you read a different genre for yourself?

No. I hold that there are only two genres: good writing and bad writing. The former is engaging; the latter is boring. I read as much nonfiction as fiction, perhaps even more so.

3. Is there something about your books/your point of view that you think readers should know?

I believe all literature is about the same theme: identity. Who am I? How do I know I really am the person I believe myself to be? 

In Deadpan, an anti-semite has thrust upon the protagonist the identity of a Jew, and not just any Jew, but the world’s most popular standup comedian.

4. When you were writing this book or previous books, did the plot flow just as you initially wanted it to look, or did you have to change anything major?

For me, writing is an evolutionary enterprise. Throughout the process, story, character, action, and dialogue are constantly changing. When I get started, I compose an outline of the plot; then, as I move through the through the narrative, I gradually throw the outline away.

5. Talk about your non-fiction side.

I have actually written three nonfiction books about screenwriting. I don’t mind bragging that the world’s largest publisher, Penguin/Random House, has had them in print for thirty-five years and has sold over a hundred thousand copies. In those books I argue that there is only one rule that cannot be broken, including this one: There are no rules.

In my most recent such title, Essentials of Screenwriting, I insist that screenwriters must start with an outline, and then throw it away. This does not mean, I continue, that you can suddenly cut to, say, the 1955 World Series at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.

In my new novel Deadpan, I suddenly cut to the 1955 World Series at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.

Richard’s social links: Social links: Subscribe to his podcast on Substack and blog on Medium, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Link to Deadpan:

What is New with the Celwyn Series?

What is new with the Celwyn Series?  

Book 6 is nearly through Editing with my publisher, and it is always a surprise to see how much of it comes flying back to me to approve the changes, or figure out what I really meant. Sometimes it is a festival of corrections, sometimes I wonder if I really wrote it. Swango, the Translator Lied will be out late this year, and when the cover is ready, I’ll reproduce it here. 

A rough draft of the blurb of Swango:  The story opens in 1877 as Celwyn and his brother survive a vicious attack in Singapore. The atmosphere aboard the Nautilus is tense; not only has Pelaez returned (claiming his innocence for destroying the flying machine), but a third of Nemo’s crew is marooned in the city and under threat by Wolfgang, Celwyn’s father.

When the magician and the others leave Singapore, they are grieving; a member of their family has been murdered in Prague. 

The magician’s first encounter with Swango is told as they plan for the Nautilus’ journey to the Castell de Ferro in Spain where Doctor Jurik Lazlo is hiding. Captain Nemo has been searching for him for a long time. 

For book 7, Lucky and Mrs. Nemo, progress has been made since the last newsletter. About 250 pages of the hand-written first draft are now digitalized and there’s only about 85 more pages to go (thank God). I can’t compose with a keyboard, and it is what it is. If I were a violent person, every time Dragon decided to invent what it thinks I said, or call Kang “Came” I would blast away with something to blow the software back to where it came from. This is after making several tutorials  with the software and trying to teach it individual frequently used words.

Book 8? I have it safely put away (130 pages of the first draft) until I have book 7 successfully input (despite Dragon) and edited. At the rate I’m going, that is July. 

The near future holds another companion book for the series, untitled, and it will star Pelaez demonstrating his untrustworthy and devious ideas of fun. 

An Interview with a Volunteer for Engin

Sharon Ruth Hensley applied and was accepted to volunteer with Engin December 2023.

  1. What motivated you to join Engin? Had you ever tutored anyone before?
    In my younger years I enjoyed working as a childcare provider. Aside from the disability rights advocacy group I’m a member of, I had not volunteered in a formal capacity since 2019. I was considering what organization to become involved with last year and discovered Engin through volunteer I researched Engin and decided it was a good fit. Being able to teletutor is a positive for multiple reasons. And I have long been interested in cultural exchange, history, and travel. Although I have prior tutoring experience, I had not previously worked with an EFL or ESL student (English as a Second Language experience is not required). It has been a positive experience overall.
  2. Engin does not require a degree or classroom time for their tutoring volunteers. Is there a skill you think they do need to have?
    Some Individuals with strong English and Grammar skills can successfully tutor without a degree, especially if they have equivalent experience, but I think a less simplified version of Engin’s application and interview process might be better. It also helps to be patient and personable.
  3. If you were to take on a second student, would you prefer one that is still in university or in the workforce? Would you prefer a beginner, intermediate, or advanced student?
    I intend to begin working with multiple students now that my personal and professional schedule has become less hectic. My current student attends school and has a job. I have no preference. An advanced student makes my role easier, but I am willing to work with beginners. When the student wants to learn and makes the effort, I’m happy to help.
  4. Could you describe the support Engin gives a volunteer like yourself? Is there anything else you think would be helpful?
    I am not well versed in everything they offer. When I saw the option to have a mentor, I immediately requested one. My mentor was able to answer all the questions I had before my first session. The monthly volunteer Zoom meetings are likely beneficial, but I haven’t been able to take advantage of them yet. Both of those can potentially help volunteers better manage any negative impact sessions have on them. Empathetic individuals can become emotionally overwhelmed when regularly interacting with those in difficult situations. I discuss some aspects of my volunteer work with my therapist and am able to properly process accompanying emotion. Some people don’t realize they need therapy, are resistant to it, or are unable to access it. It might be helpful for Engin to periodically check in with volunteers about their psychological state.
  5. Many tutors become friends with their students even after their sessions stop. Do you see yourself doing that?
    Becoming friends with future students is a possibility. I do intend to stay in touch with my current student. She is an exceptional young woman. I am hoping her future is a happy and healthy one

Shameless Buy Links to booksellers who carry the Celwyn series.

The Violins Played before Junstan  book 1

Music Shall Untune the Sky   book 2

The Raven and the Pig     book 3

The Pirate Danced and the Automat Died  Book 4

The Sea of the Vanities. Companion book.

The Wyvern, the Pirate, and the Madman  Book 5

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