On November 10-12, Rhode Island hosted Comic Con, featuring many local artists, cosplayers, vendors and convention goers. Among these was the Association for Rhode Island Authors, who describe themselves on their website as a “non-profit organization of local, published writers of both fiction and non-fiction committed to raising awareness of the outstanding written works crafted by writers in Rhode Island and other nearby communities.”
With the introduction of the new Masters of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing as well as its predecessor which features a residency, the authors in attendance shared their advice for SNHU students looking to pursue this field.
Michael Squatrito Jr.
Vice President of the Association for Rhode Island Authors and and author of the Overlords fantasy book series, Mike Squatrito says of himself that “by day, [he] is an engineer, and by night, [he] slays dragons.”
As the vice president of the association, Squatrito highlighted the importance of their community outreach with schools, libraries and young writers in the area so as to “foster literacy in reading and writing in the state of Rhode Island while raising awareness for the local talent.”
With this outreach and education in mind, Squatrito shared the following advice for those looking to pursue this career: “If you want to self publish, find yourself an editor and find yourself someone who can do the book design and the formatting. People say you can’t judge a book by a cover, but… yeah. People do judge books by their covers.”
Ken Garlick, another member of the Association of Rhode Island Authors, writes in another, though just as distinct genre, with his historical fiction novel Call Me Madame Alice that explores two major catastrophic events and the conspiracies surrounding them: the sinking of the Titanic and the Hurricane of 1938.
Aware of the new MFA’s focus on genre writing, Garlick said, “Whatever your genre is, when you self publish, it comes with its own challenges, but you control your own destiny. Create a good story, work hard, and then work three times as hard to get it out there.”
Author of Horizon and Infinity, Tabitha Lord’s current series is a character driven space operas that puts a new spin on the age old “Us vs. Them.” Lord’s series focuses on a remote planet in which some people have evolved to have special powers that they control with their minds.
When asked what advice she would give to students or recent graduates with a desire and dream to write, Lord said simply, “Finish your project. Finish your draft. Without a first draft you have nothing. And then realize that the first draft is only the first step.” She continued “You have to do the work, but it’s exciting.”
The post-apocalyptic dystopian novel Rebel Blood and its accompanying Children of Apis series focuses on underground society formed after a cataclysmic event and what occurs 15 years after resurfacing.
Author John Raposa recognizes that just writing the story isn’t the whole picture. “You can’t get discouraged, Raposa said. “And Marketing is the toughest challenge. You think you have a good story and it’s getting it rolling and establishing a foundation that is most important
Heather Rigney, author, teacher and illustrator writes of the place she calls home and knows well. Her series, starting with Waking the Merrow, is a tale that takes place in Rhode Island, particularly its murky depths, focusing on a mermaid from the 1600s feeding her family with frat boys.
Independently published, Rigney’s specialty is in branding and marketing. She encouraged all emerging authors, especially indie ones to “ be prepared to do everything and educate yourself. You can’t do everything alone.” She also stressed the importance of social media, saying, “Don’t think people are going to come to you; they won’t.”
Sean Fay Wolfe
Author of The Elementia Chronicles series, a trilogy of action adventure novels that take place in the world of Minecraft, Sean Fay Wolfe is not only a writer, but a full time student in the middle of his junior year at the University of Rhode Island studying film.
Wolfe works incredibly hard to maintain a balance between his writing and school, as well as a full time job, and when asked what that balance looks like, he confessed. “I’ve been trying to figure out the answer to that for six years.” While not having the answer that people may be hoping for he did say that “it is a matter of proper time management, and not getting distracted or procrastinating. There is time to make things work, to write and to be a student, if you want to, but it can also be very easy to lose sight of that and put yourself in a very bad position.”
The Association of Rhode Island Authors encourages all writers to continue pursuing their creative endeavors, while giving them the tools to do so. With this mission in mind, the association will be hosting their Fifth Annual Author Expo on Saturday, December 2 at the Rhodes on Pawtucket, featuring over 135 local authors, as well as workshops, presentations and raffles.