An interview with Madolyn Locke

I was honored to interview Madolyn Locke. She’s an artist, poet, editor, playwrite and author. And it was a facinating conversation.

What books have you read so many times that you wore out a copy?

Too many to name! LoL The first was probably Ballet Shoes (Noel Streatfeild), but a couple

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others would be: Shakespeare’s collected works & I Will Fear No Evil (Robert A. Heinlein)


What author inspires you the most?

Anyone who can create a world that pulls me in, characters that I care about, and a story that keeps my attention.

What was the first book that you remember reading and realizing that your own work was way better?

You know, I really don’t remember. I know it’s happened, because everyone thinks their work is great (when they’re not telling themselves it’s drivel!) but I can’t pin down a ‘when’ specifically.

Stephen King talks about writing for just one person, a constant reader. For him, that’s his wife, Tabitha. Do you have that sort of constant reader in mind when you’re writing?

Not a specific reader, no. I write stories that I would like… I guess I just believe there are readers out there who agree with me.


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What made you want to start publishing anthologies?


I’ve always loved a good anthology. ‘Back in the day’ they were everywhere. The Confederacy of the Quill was born out of a desire to create an artists’ cooperative where everyone pooled their creative talents – the anthology just seemed like a natural result of that cooperation.

What’s your biggest pet peeve when editing stories for the anthology every year?

LoL! Thankfully it doesn’t happen often, but it really bugs me when writers don’t do a good, SOLID, initial proof of their own work. As an editor, I should be able to focus on content, not the minutia of spelling, punctuation, & sentence structure. Some of the best writers are guilty of not proofing well!

What inspires you to come up with the themes every year?

G. Russell and I take about a day to breathe after the SylverMoon Chronicles anthology launches every year, and then we turn toward the next one. The first thing we do every year is decide on the theme. It’s usually a rapid-fire back & forth conversation where we throw ideas at each other until ‘the one’ sticks & we go “Yeah! That’s it!”

Tell us about your own novels.

I only have two, actually, and neither is very long. Of course, my perception of what’s ‘long’ may

be a bit skewed because I’m used to editing VERY long (and very good!) novels from a

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couple of my writers. But I have ‘One Real Summer’ which is a young adult, ‘finding yourself’, summer-read book. The other is ‘Silent Love’, a pseudo-historical (depending on if you believe in Camelot or not) fantasy romance… that one gets a bit spicy – definitely not for the ‘under-age’ set.



So, you actually write screenplays and novels. How different is the process for writing screenplays?

Extremely different! I actually find screenplays much easier. With a screenplay, it’s 100% about dialogue. You don’t have to describe the scenery, the history, the ambiance… you don’t have to bring your audience into the world – that’s ultimately the job of the director, location scout, and production designer. You can just focus on your characters & what they want to say to each other.

You also write poetry. Is there a particular poet who speaks to you?

E. E. Cummings. I always had an appreciation for poetry, but when I first read Cummings it was like a whole world of possibility opened up. These poems didn’t rhyme. They didn’t have a particular cadence. They were hugely open to interpretation both in meaning and how they were presented. I actually used Cummings in Poetry Interpretation competitions in high school. I was the only one who ever did – at least at the events I went to.

Most authors find that they have to write in a lot of places, but have a place they write best. Where do you feel that you write best?

No place in particular, really. Whatever I’m working on I generally do on my tablet, sitting on my sofa, covered in cats.

What does your writing routine usually look like?

No routine.

Can you think of a modern author who doesn’t get enough attention?

Absolutely. My best friend & creative partner – G. Russell Gaynor. The worlds he creates are AMAZING and more people need to recognize that. Also, Jean Brashear wrote a wonderful book called ‘The Goddess of Fried Okra’, and I never heard a splash for it like it deserved.


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Do you have anything coming out soon?


Just SylverMoon Chronicles: Volume VIII! (And the bonus-book, CyberMoon 2020)

Finally, if you hadn’t become an author, what would you be doing?

To be honest, I’m not really sure how to answer this because I don’t consider myself an author ‘first’… more like an author ‘also’. My first focus (outside of my day job) is my art. I’m a fine-art photographer & digital artist working under the studio name of ‘SylverLight’. So – I suppose that’s what I ‘would’ be doing… since I already am.

12 Things Single Parents and Indie Writers Have In Common

I am not a single parent. I have a wonderful husband who is a great home maker. But I was a single mom for the first six years of my daughter’s life. Her dad and I were together, but we didn’t live together. (Long story.)

Now that I’m not a single mom anymore, I am an indie writer. Apparently I thought my life was too easy. Having done first one, and now the other, though, I’m seeing similarities. A lot of what I learned as a single parent has, in fact, made me a better indie writer. A lot of what I learned no one bothered to tell me, and I wish someone had. So if you yourself are a single parent, or an indie writer, here are 12 things to keep in mind.

You’re going to have to learn to take some shit

Not everyone approves of single parents or indie writing. People are going to tell you that you are wrong, and that you are making a bad decision. They will tell you that you are messing up your life, and that you need to just listen to them. Yeah, no. If I’ve learned anything over the course of my thirty years, it’s that people who are telling me to just listen to them about my life probably has nothing good to tell me. I had to make my own choice, and if that choice set my life difficulty on ‘nightmare’ then that’s on me. If you can, remove people from your life who would tell you that you are living it wrong.

Sleep? Yeah, that’s not a thing you’re really going to do for a little while

I didn’t get a full nights sleep until my daughter was a year and a half. Even when she started sleeping through the night, I was still up until all hours doing dishes or cleaning, or trying to sneak a little writing in. Then, of course, anytime she made a noise it woke me up, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. Now that I’m producing my own books, there is a constant stream of things that need done. Right now, I’m getting up crazy early to have time to write before the day job, then working on business hat stuff after the monsters are in bed. Most nights I’m averaging seven hours. Most. But I have pulled all nighters, getting stuff done. It’s not healthy to do often, but sometimes I’m just not going to get anywhere without it. Grow accustomed to finding out just how little sleep you can really live on.

Your day job is just one thing on a very long list of things that you need to do in a day.

This one is true for parents with co parents, too. I have a husband, and I still have so much more to do than just my day job. There’s still homework to help with, classes and appointments, grocery shopping. Then we’ll throw all my writing stuff on top of that. And when I was a single mommy, it was worse. There wasn’t going to be dinner unless I shopped for food, cooked it, and washed dishes to put it on. There would be no clean clothes unless I washed them. There was no such thing as coming home and crashing on the couch. There was come home, cook dinner, wash the dishes, play with the monster, put her to bed, clean the house, then crash hard. Now, replace all the cooking and cleaning with talking to book reviewers, making advertisements, editing and writing, and that’s what I’m doing now.

Honestly, I think I relax more at the day job.

You develop a love/hate relationship with overtime, and money in general

Maybe this one’s just me, but it’s still something I struggle with. My job offers overtime, most of the time. We don’t have to take it, but we can.

On the one hand, I love picking up overtime, because the money is good. And we can always use money. The monsters always need clothes, I want to go on vacation, the bills are crazy, we need so many things and food is freaking expensive.

But overtime takes away time you could be spending with your babies, or on your real passion, writing. Even now I feel bad working more, because I never feel like I’m spending enough time with my monsters. I always feel like I should write more.

I haven’t found a happy balance, so if anyone has suggestions, please let me know.

Not a lot of people really want to help you

Again, maybe this is just me, but my family was not super supportive when I had my monster. I got little to no help, and in fact was generally treated as though I’d done something very bad. No one had any intention of helping me with my mistake. And if they did help, I had better be damned grateful because they didn’t have to help, and I should remember that.

Indie writing isn’t as bad. Lots of successful indie writers want to help, much like other single parents want to help other single parents. But generally, most people are not going to be doing you any favors in the indie business.

All this is hilarious, given the next thing you want to remember.

Even though most people really don’t want to help you, everyone wants to tell you how to do what you’re doing

Boy, do they ever want to tell you how to do what you’re doing. Even if they’ve never been a single parent, or an indie writer. They want to tell you.

You shouldn’t let your daughter watch that movie. You should have a newsletter. You should be working more, or less. You should put your books on Amazon. You should dress her more like a girl. You shouldn’t talk about yourself on your blog. You shouldn’t cut her hair. You shouldn’t do your own cover artwork. You should take her to church, but not that church. You should have a huge following before you publish.

Please, if you get nothing else from this post, please learn to listen to advice with your head and your heart, not your fear and guilt. I can’t tell you how many things I did my first few years as a mommy because people told me I should. I was too afraid that I was screwing everything up to question whether what they were telling me was good for me and my little family or not. You all know the amount of crap I’ve tried, and failed at, with my writing career, because someone I admired told me it was a good or bad idea.

You will multitask like you breath.

Write rough drafts while supervising quiet play. Wash dishes while dinner is simmering. Edit on your lunch break. Write social media updates while the monsters watch cartoons. This is my life. I’ve learned what can be multitask-ed and what needs to have my full attention, after some pretty painful trial and error. But successful multitasking is a required skill for both the single parent and the indie writer.

Some of the best things happen in laundromats

I got a washer and dryer when we moved into the house, and I can’t even tell you how much joy this has brought me. Especially with a puppy who wets the bed. But part of me kinds of misses going to laundromats. I don’t even know why this is a thing, but some magical things happen at those places. I have had some amazing talks with my monster while we waited for the spin cycle. On the infrequent occasions when I went alone, I got some awesome writing done. I don’t even know why, but trust the magic of the laundromats.

There’s no such thing as according to plan

If you haven’t learned this yet, know that this is something indie writers and single parents live by. Rain drowns out park trips, people bail on you, computers die at the worst times, kids get sick. I have all these lovely deadlines for myself, but then things happen and I can’t realistically meet them. I have the best of intentions to get the whole kitchen cleaned up, and then I just can’t do that. Have back up plans, have contingency funds if you can save them up. If you can do it at all, start saving towards a $1,000 emergency fund. Plan for everything to go to shit, basically, and don’t feel like a failure when it does.

You can learn as much as you want, and you will still never feel like you know what you’re doing

And there is so much to learn! Countless books, blogs, classes, podcasts and magazines about indie writing and single parenting. You could start reading right now and never get through all of the information. (Theoretically. Really, when you break down all of this information, it’s usually the same info again and again.)

I learn everything I can, especially now while I’m still learning to be an indie writer. I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. I’ve been a mom for 12 years now. I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. It’s an anxiety that I will never get over.

You have got to put some energy into self care

This is not a joke. I know I just told you that I’ve been pulling some all nighters recently, and I know better!

I’m actually going to do a whole blog post about self care, it’s varying levels, and some tips to help you make sure you’re taking care of you on Sunday, so I’ll not go into it right now. But make you a priority, girls and guys. Insist up on it, or you’ll burn out. Some nights, when I was a single mom and suffering from more than a little postpartum depression, my version of self care was eating Oreos while binge watching Futurama. Was it healthy? Not physically. But it was about the only time I let myself just not accomplish anything. It was the only time I put down the to do list and just relaxed. So, mentally, it was very healthy.

Remember, you’re a superhero

One day you’re going to be in a position to look back on this time in your life. When you do, you’ll likely have a healthy child or a completed published book in your possession. You’re going to look at this time, and everything you did, and you’re going to have one question; How in the hell did you live through that?

How did you get through all the crazy work and worry? How did you get anything at all done? How did you just not spend those years in a crappy sweater, eating dry cereal at the end of the day? Most of all, how did you end up with this actual person, or real life book you’ve got now?

I’ll tell you how. You’re strong, and brave. You worked hard, and you deserve to feel proud. So feel proud now, and know that this isn’t how your whole life’s going to be.

It’s all worth it, in the end. I promise.

Balancing Social Media With Actual Writing

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So, I don’t know if this is a strength or weakness for me, but I really hate, loath and despise social media.  I hate Facebook, don’t have a private account.  I sort of like Twitter, if I’m very careful who I follow, (I am downright allergic to gossip.  Don’t care about celebrities, who’s doing what and all that mess.)  I have found recently that I like twitter chats, if peopled by cool people.  I love blogging because I’ve met some awesome people, but do I spend hours reading my Facebook feeds and chatting?  Um, no.

Here’s the problem, though.  Writers need social media.  Not just freelance writers.  There’s an anthology coming out with my story in it, and I get paid based on how many of them sell.  I kind of want people who like my writing to know about it.  Actually, I kind of want people who like my writing to be able to find it in general, know when it’s coming out and such.  I also like knowing this about my favorite indie authors.  So, while it’s taken me some time, I’ve warmed up to social media.  (Pintrest is the exception.  I fell in love, and I an never leaving Pintrest.)

There are a lot of people that don’t feel the way I do.  There are people who seriously need an intervention when it comes to social media.  They don’t have the struggles I do, trying to remember to tweet at least once a day and thinking of something witty to say on Facebook.  But they’re losing writing time to gossip time.  That’s fine, I’m not one to judge how someone spends their leisure time.  Just don’t spend an hour in a flame war with some jack ass from the other side of the world because they don’t like your favorite movie and call it work.

So, which side do you fall on?  There are pros and cons to each.

Social Media Haters-


  • We have a lot more time to write, which is good because time is our biggest commodity.  When I googled average hours spent on social media, the average result was three hours.  So ask yourself, what kind of writing could you get done if you spent three hours doing it every day?
  • Social media is a great place to make a horses ass of yourself.  I did it myself more than once, before I got wise.  I am really political, (not that you all might have noticed,) and it is so easy to lose my temper online.
  • I’m all about being super loud about what’s going on in my life, but I am very particular about what about my family gets shared.  Social media encourages people to share way, way, way too much.  We are trying to be household names here, people.  I want to be on the cover of Writers Digest, not The Sun.


  • I have to schedule tweets.  I have to think about what I’m going to say, unless responding to someone else.  Or tweeting Ray Donovan information.
  • I forget to update things.
  • I forget to read my feeds, which means when I open it after days and days, I’ve got so much to catch up with.

Social Media Lovers-


  • You get the word out, you writers who are all over social media.  Man, do I know when your books are coming out, and I am all over them.
  • You encourage followers to look at you over all sources.  So if you miss someone on one, you’ll get them on another.
  • When people love you, they share you.  They share your posts, your comments, your thoughts.  And that, I mean that feels great.  It means that if you’ve got a fan, he might share you enough that his buddy becomes a fan, or his niece, or his high school chum who stumbled upon you on his Facebook feed.
  • You have the opportunity to brighten someone’s day.  Which, I think, is one of the best things about being a writer to start with.


  • Time.  That’s the biggest thing about social media.  Time is precious, and social media takes up too much of it if not kept in check.

So, you’ve go to strike a balance.  Here are my tips, for no matter what side of the wall you fall on.

Tips for the haters, (like me)

  • Schedule it.  Put it on your to do list.  I might not like tweeting, but I do like checking things off my to do list.  It gives me one really easy thing to check off my list.
  • Take advantage of the fact that you really want to get on, write something, then get off by doing so.
  • Don’t connect with your friends and family on social media.  This sounds really hard, but you’ve got to set that barrier.  If your friends understand you, they will understand why you’re not friending them.  Besides, you’re probably already not friended to them anyway.
  • Don’t play games.  That was the quickest way I lost time when I was a Facebook addict.  It got to the point where I didn’t even want to log on, because it was going to take so much time to get through everything before I even got to reading my feed.
  • Reward yourself by enjoying the good side of social media.  I’ve made friends, joined in live chats for my favorite shows, and followed people I adore so that I enjoy reading my twitter feed.

Tips for the social media atticts

  • Again, a timer is your friend.  Decide before you get on how long you’re going to spend on Facebook, and get off when the time is up.
  • It’s hard to not want to multitask when it comes to social media.  You can tell yourself, “It’s okay that I’m checking up on my high school crush, because I’m also making important contacts.  To avoid this sort of self sabotaging talk, have two social media accounts.  One that’s personal, and one that you use as you, the writer.  Then, when you’re on to have fun, you’re on to have fun.  When you’re on to work, you’re not distracted by Farmville.  It also helps you get into the right mentality.  You are not you, the person when you are on your business site.  You are a writer, and you are here to do a job.
  • Once you have two sites, stick to friending and following writing and business related topics, so your feeds don’t get crammed with useless nonsense.
  • Have a buddy, perferably a writing buddy, hold you accountable.  Have them friend you, and take you to task if you start talking about useless crap or starting a flame war.  Then, do the same for them.

Finally, two tips for everyone

  • The internet is forever, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your boss or an agent to know you said.  Unless you’re really ready to back that shit up.  I mean, I am all about being a democrat, feminist, pro gay marriage and all that.  These are things that, if they lose me a business relation, I didn’t want it anyway.
  • My general rule of thumb is this.  For every hour I spend writing, I should spend ten minutes, and only ten minutes, tweeting, pinning, or commenting on Facebook.  No more, no less, unless I’m attending a specific event.  (Though, as a tip, when I’m attending a twitter chat, I use that time to get caught up with Facebook, since it is my least favorite.)

What do you think about social media?  Does it annoy you, or control you?

Making your own self employed work schedule, so that you get shit done.

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I am not yet a full time writer. In fact, I am currently a more than full time day jobber. Even so, I have work hours for my writing. I have to if I ever intend to be a full time writer.

I used to be a full time writer, when my little one was very little. Actually, I was a stay at home mom when I was with my ex. I learned a lot about making my own schedule during that time. Things that I use now while I’m trying to fit at least part time writing hours into my day. Things that will be essential to my life when I get my dream life.

Do you have a writing schedule? Or do you currently have more of a fly by the seat of your pants mentality about your work? Trust me, your writing and life will benefit from having a schedule. This is even more important when you’re becoming your own boss.

When you’re making your self employed schedule, here are some questions you need to answer for yourself first.

Your own internal clock needs to be your first concern. No amount of bullying and self hate will make you create good work if the time you spend at your desk is when you’re so tired you can’t see the keyboard, it’s just a fuzzy thing sitting on your desk. Now, I’m a morning person. I’ve been getting up at 5:30 to write before the day job, which I didn’t really think was going work at first. But it has to my joy. Writing after the day job has not worked, try as I might. By the evening I don’t have any creative energy left, so that’s never going to be prime writing time

You have to consider the schedule of people around you that you can’t control. If you live alone, go ahead and skip this part. If not, your partner’s work schedule, kids school and sleep schedule, these things will play into your writing time. Even your room mate can be a distraction. I have found that, since my writing space is in the living room, I work best when either everyone is gone or everyone is watching something I can tune out.

(That, by the way, is one of the secrets to my success. I learned as a little girl to read and write with the tv on. My mother, sadly, was a huge fan of trash tv. You’d be surprised how many novels I read and short stories I wrote while Jerry Springer was on.)

You should strongly consider the schedules of the people around you that you have control over. Like, for instance, if you have small children who nap. Or older kids that can be sent to play outside at opportune times. Or if your partner can be asked to go take the little ones to the park. Whatever pull you have on the actions of others, take it. Be loving, be flexible. Be willing to compromise. I find that if I take the monsters out of the house so my stay at home dad can have some personal time, he’s more willing to take them on errands so I can have some desk time. As for the monsters, they have learned that I need to be left alone for exactly twenty five minutes at a time, and then they can have my undivided attention.

Once you’ve taken some time to consider all of this, there are some tips that I, and many other awesomely productive people, take advantage of. Five, to be specific.
1. When you look at your to do list for the week, you want to consider what sort of work you have to get done. A week’s to do list for me might include a certain amount of chapters for Woven, editing a short story that I wrote a week before, a few stories that had been rejected that need sent back out, my Paper Beats World blog posts and a new rough draft of a new story to write. The first thing I consider is how much creative energy each of these projects is going to take me. Fiction takes the most creative energy. Rough drafts are the most draining, but editing takes a lot too. So I use my early morning time to write fiction. Whatever Woven book I’m working on comes first, followed by my short fiction. Sending stories takes almost no energy at all, because I can write a cover letter in my sleep. So I can spend an hour after work sending out some of my pieces without a problem. My blog posts also take little creative energy after I’ve planned out my posts for the month, because it’s basically talking. I really like to talk. So that’s another thing that I can do after work if I must, but it really is best done earlier in the day if possible. So think about how much energy each of your projects is going to take.
2. Deadlines are you friends, trust me. I know, it might not seem like it, but they are. Otherwise it is way too easy to say, “I don’t really need to get that done today. What’s it going to hurt if I leave it until tomorrow?” Make yourself realistic deadlines, and stick to them!
3. And when I say realistic deadlines, I mean it. You need to schedule days off, and even vacations. Why? Because you need to charge your batteries, that’s why. You need to switch off, watch bad tv, go to the beach, play video games all day, read comic books. Look, I love writing, I do. I understand the desire to keep going, every second I get. And while I’m still at my day job, I take almost every second I can get to write. But I always take one day a month where I don’t work, don’t write, don’t clean house and don’t stress about it. My family and I also take at least one vacation a year, and none of my writing goes with me. I also take my monster’s birthdays off, and spend the whole day not only celebrating their day, but the anniversary of the days that made me a mommy and step mommy. I’ve got to live my life, and so do you.
4. Finally, do have set work hours, and don’t write outside of them. Have a time when you are done for the day, as a rule (see below.)
5. Understand that there are going to be times when all of these tips go right out of the window. There are going to be nights when your stop time comes, and you just don’t want to. Let yourself keep going sometimes. There are months that I get to my day off, and decide to devote the whole day to my current writing project instead. And a deadline, for me, can always get pushed back if life happens, as I’ve said many times before.

Here’s the biggest thing to remember about making your own writing schedule, though. The whole point of being your own boss is working how you need to work. It’s all about writing our stories, and getting those stories to other people. Whatever you need to do to make that happen, do it so long as you’re healthy and happy. If you’re your own boss, be a good one.

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