Welcome, Eric Woods!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome author Eric Woods to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.
Beginning in third grade, my teachers would assign short stories for the class to write. While most of the class took the assignments with little significance, I became enamored with the art of storytelling. I began writing outside of class simply for fun and made it my mission to someday write a novel. My genre of choice was horror. I had become a fan of the 80s slasher film series such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, to name a few. The idea of good vs. evil has always been exciting to write about. Coming up with strong protagonists and evil antagonists drove me to come up with creative stories.

During my undergraduate years at the University of Illinois Springfield, I took a class on playwriting. This was a new genre in creative writing, and I took to it immediately. My final project, the three-act play Uncle, was voted to be performed in Reader’s Theatre for the university. My second play, the murder-mystery Macabre, was performed by the UIS Repertory Theatre in 1998. A year later, after I had graduated with an English degree, the same theatre performed my dark comedy The Living End. In total I have written 10 full length stage plays with two others still in process.

My creative writing took a hiatus for many years. Although I have been a freelance writer since 2005, it wasn’t until November 2015 when I finally discovered a method for novel writing that worked for me. I had begun half a dozen ideas that didn’t make it past 2,000 words over the years. But this time was different. I had an idea, and instead of haphazardly jumping in with little direction, I thought about the story, the characters, the settings, and everything else it would take to get through to the end. I wrote character sketches (revising as needed), put together an outline, and set a modest 500 word per day goal. By mid-July of 2016, I had finished the first draft of PUMMELED, a novel roughly 120,000 words in length. The editing and revising process was intense, but by June 2018, I was finally satisfied and decided to self-publish the novel.

Although I have always been a fan of horror, this novel belongs in the action-drama category. My second novel, however, is indeed of the horror variety. I began Dragon’s Blood during the editing process of my first novel and finished the first draft this past August. My first edit bumped the word count up to approximately 93,500 words. My hope is to have it ready for publication by October, 2019 in time for Halloween.

Now that I have figured out the method of writing that works for me, the ideas have poured in. I am already outlining my third novel which should be a unique style that I do not believe has been done before in the world of creative writing (at least I hope not).

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?
I currently have two dogs (Thor and Hilda) and one cat (Zazu). Last November we lost our dog Maddux to a sudden illness, and we were fortunate to find and adopt our two current pooches a few weeks later. They are a wonderful addition to the family. Thor is a Chihuahua mixed with something bigger, and Hilda is a senior long-haired Chihuahua/pug mix. I have yet to model them in my writing, but in a future novel, I intend to use the names of each dog I have ever had as my feature characters’ names.

What are you reading now?
Right now I am re-reading Stephen King’s IT in preparation for the theatrical release of IT Chapter 2 later in the year. I am also working on The Butcher Bride by Vince Churchill. I need to circle back to my Stephen King list and revisit Duma Key before starting his newer novels. The Outsider looks extremely thrilling.

What writing projects are you currently working on?
I am currently in the editing process of Dragon’s Blood, my second novel. It is a horror/sci-fi offering that I hope is well received by lovers of the genre. The idea was sparked by a friend of mine who created a unique piece of jewelry. As I studied it, the ideas began to flow, and next thing I knew, I had outlined an entire novel. Also, my third novel is currently in the outlining stage, but I have yet to officially begin writing the text.

Who is your favorite author and why?
I have been a Stephen King fanatic since I first read The Shining in grade school. As a horror movie buff and avid reader, it was only natural that I journeyed into the word of King and his novels. They have given me the most inspiration in my writings, and I always look to his novels when I want to see how it’s done.

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.
I had one dog as a child. She was a black pick-a-poo mix named Missy. She was kind of a mutt, but we loved her. While in college (after Missy passed away), we adopted Chelsea, a white West Highland Terrier, and she was one of the sweetest pups I ever had the honor of being around. I used to think she escaped from the circus, as she could dance on her back hind legs when prompted.

How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?

So far, all “real” animals have only been mentioned in passing. In Dragon’s Blood, the major antagonist is not human, although it is more of a fictitious being than an actual animal. In my idea for the (hopefully) sequel to my first novel, Pummeled, I already took note that Bree (the main character) will be rescuing a dog from a bad situation in the book’s opening chapter. He will likely become a central character of his own.

When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?

When writing short stories in grade school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. The idea of coming up with creative stories came natural to me, and by doing it outside of school in my free time, it made me want to keep going.

What do your pets do when you are writing?
My pets love being close by whenever I am home. I have my own office where I write, and whenever I am there, they will lie next to the chair behind me. Thor sometimes likes to jump onto my lap as I am writing, just to see what I am doing.

What’s the most unusual pet you’ve ever had?
Although I have never had a pet I would consider unusual, the chief plot of Dragon’s Blood centers around the bizarre pet one of my main characters discovered as a child back in 1930. The remainder of the novel surrounds what has happened to the being nearly 90 years later.

What are two things you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
Outlining is imperative! For years I wanted to learn the secret to being able to write a novel. Some would say ‘just write’ while others told me not to even waste my time. I began a number of would-be novels, and never made it beyond 3,000 words. Then, on a whim, I caught an article about character sketching and outlining prior to any official storytelling. When the idea for PUMMELED came to me, I followed what I had learned, sketching a rough outline along with the main characters I already knew I wanted in the book. As I put more time and effort into the project, the outline blossomed, the characters came to life, and soon I was writing what would be my first full length novel.

A second thing I wish I knew years ago was to write down every idea, even if I could not dive right into a new story. The worst thing you can do is say “I’ll write it down later.” Because chances are, you will forget the idea later, and you will kick yourself.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

There a couple things writers need to know as they prepare to write anything. First of all, do not let anyone tell you that writing is a waste of time. Even if you do not see it as a full time occupation, you should never let someone else squelch your creativity. Writing can be such a release, especially when you are in the zone and on a roll with your story.

It is also imperative to know that there is a lot of competition out there. Just look at Instagram, and you will come across hundreds of aspiring writers looking for people to read their creations. Especially now that self-publishing is a much easier process (thanks, technology), there are more people than ever seeing their dreams of writing books come to fruition.

About Eric Woods

Eric Woods resides in Springfield, Illinois. He is married to Lisa and has two children (Hunter and Peyton) and two stepchildren (Jake and Sam). He has been writing since grade school and is the author of 10 full length stage plays. His first novel, PUMMELED, was published in June of 2018, and he is in the process of finishing his second novel, the horror story DRAGON’S BLOOD which is scheduled for release in October 2019. Eric has been a local freelance writer since 2005, writing for such outlets as Springfield Business Journal Illinois and SO Magazine. He serves as a tour guide for the Lincoln Ghost Walk in Springfield and was a collegiate speech and debate coach for seven years.

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Heather Weidner

Heather Weidner, a member of SinC – Central Virginia and Guppies, is the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, SECRET LIVES AND PRIVATE EYES and THE TULIP SHIRT MURDERS. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 SHADES OF CABERNET. Heather lives in Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers and has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. Some of her life experience comes from being a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, IT manager, and cop’s kid. She blogs at Pens, Paws, and Claws.

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