The Girl You Killed by Leslie Wolfe #giveaway

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The Girl You Killed by Leslie Wolfe

Genre: Psychological Thriller

“When an author spins a story that draws you in and keeps you drawn in until you finish the book, you know you will enjoy reading anything written by that author!” – Diane ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Andrea Brafford’s life is nearly perfect. A passionate marine biologist, happily married to Craig, the man she loves, recently moved into a home commensurate with their success to enjoy a life many others only dream about, in one of Houston’s most desirable suburbs. But only a few months later, a trial that dramatically polarizes their town names Craig Brafford as a defendant in the murder of his young wife, shattering the serenity of the peaceful community.

Andi’s name is on everyone’s lips, her relationships exposed and torn to shreds in a highly publicized case that has everyone’s eyes glued to the internet. Andrea’s life remains a mystery that investigators and public opinion equally fail to solve. Was she the happy, devoted wife she’d made everyone believe she was?

Only she can answer that question.

The best-selling author of Dawn Girl is back with a suspenseful, gripping psychological thriller. Fans of Celeste Ng, Alex Michaelides, and Liane Moriarty will enjoy The Girl You Killed, an addictive psychological thriller that will keep readers enthralled until the last page.

**Only .99 cents!!**

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What Readers and Reviewers Are Saying About Leslie Wolfe

“Leslie Wolfe has a wonderful ability to make you feel as if you were right there watching the events unfold in this fast-paced and nail-biting thriller.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Wolfe’s strong female characters, whom all appear to be flawed, never disappoint. ” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wow! Just Wow! “This is the first book by this author that I read but I’m definitely reading more!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a chilling, thrilling story, fueled by pure adrenalin, and with more ups and downs than a roller-coaster!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“The action is immediate and nonstop, and just when you think you have it all figured out, Wolfe tosses in a twist so masterful that it’ll make your head spin.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wow… Leslie Wolfe is an incredible storyteller.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Leslie Wolfe’s books draw you in, take you along for the ride, and finish with your appreciation of a strong woman! Her books leave you satisfied, yet wanting more!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Leslie Wolfe has an uncanny ability to bring strong, endearing female leads to life.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Leslie Wolfe’s books are riveting. Her stories keep you glued to the story with always a surprising ending.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Twist upon twist. You won’t be able to put this down.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and other books by Leslie Wolfe!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Leslie Wolfe is a bestselling author whose novels break the mold of traditional thrillers. She creates unforgettable, brilliant, strong women heroes who deliver fast-paced, satisfying suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology.

Leslie released the first novel, Executive, in October 2011. Since then, she has written many more, continuing to break down barriers of traditional thrillers. Her style of fast-paced suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology, has made Leslie one of the most read authors in the genre and she has created an array of unforgettable, brilliant and strong women heroes along the way.

A recently released standalone and an addictive, heart-stopping psychological thriller, The Girl You Killed will appeal to fans of The Undoing, The Silent Patient, or Little Fires Everywhere. Reminiscent of the television drama Criminal Minds, her series of books featuring the fierce and relentless FBI Agent Tess Winnett would be of great interest to readers of James Patterson, Melinda Leigh, and David Baldacci crime thrillers. Fans of Kendra Elliot and Robert Dugoni suspenseful mysteries would love the Las Vegas Crime series, featuring the tension-filled relationship between Baxter and Holt. Finally, her Alex Hoffmann series of political and espionage action adventure will enthrall readers of Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, and Lee Child.

Leslie has received much acclaim for her work, including inquiries from Hollywood, and her books offer something that is different and tangible, with readers becoming invested in not only the main characters and plot but also with the ruthless minds of the killers she creates.

A complete list of Leslie’s titles is available at

Leslie enjoys engaging with readers every day and would love to hear from you. Become an insider: gain early access to previews of Leslie’s new novels.

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Would you like a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift Card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Q&A with Leslie Wolfe

Andrea Brafford’s life is nearly perfect. A passionate marine biologist, happily married to Craig, the man she loves, recently moved into a home commensurate with their success to enjoy a life many others only dream about, in one of Houston’s most desirable suburbs. But only a few months later, a trial that dramatically polarizes their town names Craig Brafford as a defendant in the murder of his young wife, shattering the serenity of the peaceful community.

Andi’s name is on everyone’s lips, her relationships exposed and torn to shreds in a highly publicized case that has everyone’s eyes glued to the internet. Andrea’s life remains a mystery that investigators and public opinion equally fail to solve. Was she the happy, devoted wife she’d made everyone believe she was?

The Girl You Killed is about domestic abuse that evolves into murder. Not the violent type, with bruises and broken bones, not the type a victim can see coming and run for her life. This story is about an insidious, stealthy form of abuse so devious it ensnares the victim who cannot even realize she’s being manipulated and submitted to the predator’s will, a means to an end, nothing more.

  • What would readers remember after they finish reading the book?

They will remember that appearances can be deceiving in more ways than one. A cunning, skilled predator can easily deceive young and impressionable women, especially those who want so much to believe fairy tales can happen to them that they choose to lie to themselves to keep the dream alive.

  • Your writing style is fast, filled with dialogue, almost at the expense of descriptives and narratives. Why is that?

This is how human beings interact, especially when under pressure or stress. We stop paying attention to our surroundings, and focus on the task at hand. People interact with one another, talk to one another, and have feelings for one another and for everything we do. That’s what I’m focused on, rather than specifying each article of clothing someone wears, or the color of the flower vase in an office somewhere. This technique isn’t necessarily good or bad; just somewhat different from mainstream.

  •  What’s the biggest compliment you received from a fan?

It’s when readers tell me they stay up all night to finish the book, because they couldn’t put it down. That’s music to my ears J Like any other artist and entertainer, I thrive knowing that I deliver that escape into the fictional world in a grasping, gritty, and memorable way.

  • You mentioned science, technology, psychology. How do you keep it real?

I do extensive amounts of research for my work, and I’m fascinated by what I have the opportunity to learn. Additionally, sections of my books go through a process of validation at the hands of several fantastic partners who are law enforcement officers, attorneys, scientists, doctors in medicine. In Dawn Girl, for example, there are sections that speak about using certain plant extracts and animal venoms to achieve certain goals. Despite the extensive research, my hands were shaking a little as I wrote them, metaphorically speaking, and I was relieved when my research “passed scientific review.”

  • Do you do any book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Apart from social media and email interactions, I’m a veritable recluse. Email is the best and quickest way to reach me, and I was fortunate to build true friendships with readers over email. The majority of my readers ask me when’s the next book coming out, not when I’m getting out of the house, so I get the hint and keep on writing.

  • Is this book a first in a series and going to be continued?

This book is a standalone, a story centered on a certain family and its layered dysfunction. While this book isn’t what readers would call a “series first,” there are several Leslie Wolfe series you might enjoy.

The Tess Winnett Series features FBI Special Agent Tess Winnett in a series of eight (so far) gripping crime thrillers you won’t be able to put down. The first title in that series is Dawn Girl, but all books can be read as standalones.

Baxter & Holt is a three-book series featuring two Las Vegas detectives who trust each other with their lives, only not with their deepest, darkest secrets. Start this engrossing series with Las Vegas Girl.

Alex Hoffmann is an action-adventure series featuring a young and smart heroine and her team of private investigators. They follow their cases wherever those might take them, even if that means behind enemy lines, in five engrossing thrillers that will remind you of James Bond and Jack Reacher. The book that will get you started on this adventure is Executive.

Meet Author Carmilla Voiez #giveaway

Carmilla Voiez is proudly pansexual, and an autistic introvert who finds writing much easier than verbal communication. A lifelong Goth, she is passionate about horror, the alt scene, intersectional feminism, art, nature and animals. She lives by the sea in North Scotland and is studying an Arts and Humanities (Creating Writing) BA(Hons) degree.

Carmilla grew up on a varied diet of horror. Her earliest influences as a teenage reader were Graham Masterton, Brian Lumley and Clive Barker mixed with the romance of Hammer Horror and the visceral violence of the first wave of Video Nasties. Fascinated by the Goth aesthetic and enchanted by threnodies of eighties Goth and post-punk music she evolved into the creature of darkness we find today.

Her books are both extraordinarily personal and universally challenging. As Jef Withonef of Houston Press once said – “You do not read her books, you survive them.”

Carmilla’s bibliography includes The Venus Virus, The Starblood (four book) Series, Starblood the graphic novel, Psychonaut the graphic novel, The Ballerina and the Revolutionary, Broken Mirror and Other Morbid Tales. Her short stories have been included in Zombie Punks Fuck Off, Another Beautiful Nightmare, Elements of Horror: Water, D is for Demons, Trembling With Fear, and Sirens Call Magazine.

To find out more, visit her website at

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An interview with Carmilla Voiez

Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!

I used to run a Gothic Clothing company and we decided that a disused asylum would be the perfect place for a photo shoot. Having obtained permission, we camped out there for a day, but it was very spooky and the wind howled through windows and made zombie noises that were just a little too atmospheric at times. There was an old bathtub which was due to be scrapped, and we had made fake blood to drip down it. I was doing this while one of the models was getting changed. She came in wearing a distressed black dress and yellow contact lenses. I saw her from the corner of my eye, thought she was the living dead and screamed. Afterwards, she told me that my reaction inspired her to rock that outfit in the photos, and they were incredible. 

What are some of your pet peeves?

Writers who refuse to read books. You’d be surprised how many writers are proud that they don’t read. I cannot fathom why someone would want to create in a medium that they don’t love or at least appreciate.

How to find time to write as a parent?

It’s easier now I have teenagers. Mum is the last person they want to hang out with. When they were younger, I would wake up around 5 am and write for a couple of hours before they started their day.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Gothic, feminist, thoughtful, empathetic, socialist.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I am currently writing an urban fantasy set in a women’s prison, while my artist is painting the pages for our third graphic novel.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

You are the most important part of writing and if you take the time to review a book, you are a hero. Thank you.

What are your top 10 favorite authors?

Clive Barker, Toni Morrison, Iain Banks, Victor Lavalle, Sarah Waters, Arundhati Roy, Storm Constantine, Douglas Adams, Thomas Ligotti and Adam Nevill.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

I love reading. I read across a wide range of genres including non-fiction, but Horror and Fantasy are my favourites.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

Silence, so I can hear the voices clearly.

Would you like a chance to win a $10 Amazon giftcard + ebook of Starblood by Carmilla Voiez? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.

Meet Author Faith Marlow #giveaway

Faith Marlow is a USA Today best selling author of dark fantasy/ paranormal/ horror. Her stories stir emotions and explore the thin veil between human and the inhuman. Dark, yet inviting and familiar, Faith seeks to deliver chills with a sense of class, and sometimes a bit of heat. With each story, she hopes to build exposure for fellow women authors and artists who create horror.

Her debut, “Being Mrs. Dracula“, chronicles the lives of Count Dracula’s three beautiful, yet very different wives, Valeria, Ilona, and Fleur. The story continues with “Being Dracula’s Widow” and the third installment of the series “Being Dracula’s Heir“. The fourth book is currently in development.

Faith’s latest project, the “Scorned Women” series launched in 2020 with its first book, a retelling of the story of Medusa. Each book in this series will focus on a different woman in and seek to give them a second chance.

Faith is also proud to be featured in multiple short story anthologies. When she isn’t writing or reading, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching a horror movie, online shopping for Funko Pop! figures, at a rock show, or entertaining her house panther, Teddy. She lives in Tennessee with her husband, Scottie, and son, Avery.

To find out more, visit her website at

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An interview with Faith Marlow

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

My name is Faith. I live in East Tennessee, born and raised. My first writing experience was in the fifth grade. Our teacher, Mr. Archer, encouraged my class to write poetry about various subjects. Along with our illustrations, we created little booklets called Visions. This was the first time I saw my name in print, but not the first time I saw myself as an author.

When I was very young, I wrote the date inside of my favorite book, The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, like someone had checked it out at the library. May 30, 1986. I had also marked out the author’s name, and wrote my name over it instead. My one and only act of plagiarism was committed in my bedroom when I was eight years old because I loved that book so much I wish I had wrote it.

I found I had a knack in for fiction and short stories in my English Lit classes in High School and college, but I didn’t pursue novel writing until years later. Movies and stories about Dracula and his brides had always been interesting to me. I had also heard (although debated) that Bram Stoker had drawn inspiration from stories of Vlad the Impaler. The movies I’d watched about Dracula until then always had the “brides” but they were little more than eye candy. Sensual, obedient, beautiful women who only existed to assist Dracula with his agenda. I decided to find out more about these overlooked characters.

I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and was shocked to find that little more was said about these “weird sisters” than what was depicted in the movies I had watched. It was my assumption that if Bram Stoker had drawn inspiration from Vlad the Impaler for Dracula, then perhaps there would be evidence of the brides in his story. What I discovered was tragic. Little more was known about either of them aside from how they intersected with Vlad’s life and conquests. I thought it was such a disservice to these women, and later the fictional characters, that collectively, they were seen and not heard. I wasn’t able to change history, but I could give these fictional women more. Inspired by these fictional characters and the real women of history, I set to writing my first novel, Being Mrs. Dracula. My main character, Vlad Dracula’s first wife, was named Valeria- which means “to be strong” in her native Romanian. Valeria’s story continues in Being Dracula’s Widow and Being Dracula’s Heir. A fourth book in the series is currently being written.

You can read more about the true “Brides of Dracula” here

After my experience writing Being Mrs. Dracula, my soft spot for “monsters” was sealed and has become a reoccurring theme in my stories. Ghosts with unfinished business, a woman who chooses to be a werewolf instead being of trapped by her ignored women’s health issues, and most recently, a retelling of the story of Medusa in my new Scorned Women series.  I am currently working on the next book in that series, a retelling of the bride of Frankenstien’s monster.

A day in the life of the author?

A day in my life as an author is probably not what most people would expect. It’s not what I thought it would be from films and television shows I watched growing up. I work a full 40 hour week in Information Technology. I only get to focus on writing on the afternoons and weekends. I also have to make time for family, and just living life outside of work. The most ironic part of all is how little of an author’s writing time is spent writing. I often spend more time with promo and the logistic side of writing that I do creating. And I am far from being a unique case. Almost every author I know has a similar situation, which is why it can take us a while to get the next book out.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I really don’t have much relaxation time, which is why I picked this question as one to answer. I am a workaholic by nature, so setting aside time to rest is something I have to consciously do because I will go until I’m exhausted if I don’t make an effort to have a break. When I do, it is usually watching a movie, typically horror or sci-fi, a documentary, or a music venue if Covid-19 guidelines are being followed at the location.

What inspired you to write this book?,

I think Carmilla and I were inspired by many things. Of course, I can’t truly speak for her but it started with us wanting to work on a project together. I think I mentioned I had always wanted to write a straight up ghost story. Then we starting talking about possible locations, and of course the American south is a hotbed of ghost stories and legends. Combine that with the numerous examples of civil and racial tensions and protests, and how that intersects with the south, Our Fearful Roots bloomed from that place. I feel we both try to be socially aware and respectful of other people’s experiences and we both strongly support equality. This story allowed us to explore these ideas, but through a lens of horror, which is a genre we both enjoy working in. I think Our Fearful Roots is most certainly a horror story, not just a ghost story, and not all of the horror it discusses is paranormal.

Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.

I think Our Fearful Roots is a must read because it is a perfect ghost story for creepy season. It has slow burn tension, legitimate bone chilling scares, and characters that are relatable, so the reader will be able to vicariously have these experiences. I sincerely believe that we have used some elements in Our Fearful Roots that readers will not have encountered in any other story, book or film. It’s a sincere story, thick with emotions, a healthy dose of horror to get hearts pumping just in time for Halloween.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

I typically have multiple projects started, but I tend to either finish the project I am on, or at least make some significant progress on one project before moving to another. When the idea of Our Fearful Roots was developed, I put my personal projects on the back burner because we were excited to dive into this story. I think Carmilla has a much stronger skill for working on multiple projects at one time.

What makes a good story?

I think strong, relatable characters are probably the most important part of any story. You could have an iron clad plot, a totally unique story, with a perfect ending, but if readers do not connect to the characters, they will have no incentive to finish the story. Of course, a strong plot and engaging story is very important, but I think it hinges on the richness of the characters.

Would you like a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card + ebook of Being Mrs. Dracula by Faith Marlow? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.

Meet Author Lea Falls

Author Interview w/ Lea Falls!

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

My head has always been full of stories. I feel like I process the world through storytelling. As a kid, I used to sit in front of this beautiful porcelain doll my grandma owned. It was bigger than me back then. I just sat there for hours, thinking up stories about her, and honestly, I don’t think that ever really changed. My heart always belonged to stories and performing. As a teenager, I joined my first acting group. I loved being on stage, but I also wanted to tell my own tales, so I channeled my 2009 vampire craze into writing a play about a lone hunter at a vampire banquet, where they recounted the ways they influenced history. We performed it at our local theatre and it was so much fun. Later in college, when I studied acting, improv theatre changed the way I look at stories. My friend and I founded a long-form improv group and we performed full-length plays that were made up on the spot. It taught me what elements any good story needed and how to feel when a scene is working or requires a change. In an improv group, everyone has a specialty, and I was the “fixer”, the one that ran on stage when the story was getting off track or details weren’t connecting properly. I became really good at spotting plotholes and adding the right kinds of conflict to keep us going. I don’t think I’d be the writer I am today without improv.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

I absolutely adore lemons. I need lemon juice on most savory things I eat and I love drinking it straight without diluting it. I’ve even infected my wife with this quirk. Now she’s the one who eats a bite of dinner and says “Needs more lemon”.

What are some of your pet peeves?

 I feel like this is more of a full-grown elephant peeve, but I can’t stand people talking during movies or TV shows. It’s okay if they do that on their own, but if I’m there, please please please, pause the dang film! The moment two people talk at once, I just can’t hear anything anymore and it overwhelms me immediately. I also have a slight snob streak, so I tend to be the “Respect the art!!” type.

Where were you born/grew up at?

 I was born in the Rhineland of Germany, an hour away from Cologne. It’s a beautiful area with fortresses and mountains. When I brought my wife there two decades later, she loved it for its fairytale-esque nature.

Then, right before I turned ten, we moved to the North Sea. Our house was just a thirty-minute walk from the water, which was lovely, although I didnÄt go as often as I wished I had. Both places were small towns, and while they have their perks, I was very eager to explore the big city, when I moved to San Francisco at eighteen. I’m a city lady at heart!

If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

I’m not that scared of dying, to be honest. I have so many plans, so it’d be quite frustrating not to be able to execute them, but I wouldn’t want to try to squeeze them all in one day. I’m most scared of what I’d leave behind. So I would choose to spend the day with my wife, maybe in a favorite cafe of ours, writing a lot of letters to my loved ones, something they can hold on to. Then, when I felt like I’ve written an adequate amount, I’d want to briefly outline as many of my book ideas as possible and hand all of those over to my wife. She obviously wouldn’t have to write them all, but she’s a fantastic writer, and this way at least some of my stories would still get birthed. Then, at the end of the day, I’d like to dress up in an extravagant gown and see a Broadway show.

What kind of world ruler would you be?

 A stressed one. I have no interest in going into politics. I don’t think I could handle disagreements over things that are so obvious to me, and I don’t know how I’d deal with the slow speed of change, especially when people’s livelihoods are at stake. I have so much respect for people like Cori Bush and AOC, who throw themselves into the fight every single day, but I don’t think my temperament could handle it.

If I were, however, a world leader, I’d want to establish some kind of compassion/self-reflection/anti-propaganda course or test for everyone in my cabinet, and I’d want my advisors to be as diverse as possible, because that’s what democracy should be about, in opinion. It should represent everyone. I’d also start by having a reckoning with our history because reflecting on where we’ve come from, the mistakes we’ve made, the darkness we don’t want to repeat is an important part of self-growth and I believe it’s required for societal growth as well. So I do have a lot of ideas on what I’d want to implement, but I’m not confident I could convince people to listen. I’m better suited for the arts.

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

This is How You Lose the Time War, A Little Princess, Fragile Wings, Les Miserables, Into the Drowning Deep, The Gilded Ones, Less, Kindred (in no particular order except for the first one)

What book do you think everyone should read?

 Kindred!! Octavia Butler’s writing is fantastic, gripping, and so important. It’s such a great exploration of how the time you live in shapes you.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first short story in elementary school, but I barely remember it. Apparently, it was about an elvish princess trying to get rid of a wall, or something like that? Clearly, that was my character Ally Verdain in the making! At age 11, I wrote my first screenplay and I remember absolutely loving it. It felt wonderful to get lost in the storytelling. In it, a princess gets swapped at birth and grows up with a sweet peasant family until the truth is revealed. Then she fights to reclaim her throne. I’m proud of the story, though I did think that if you want to write a dramatic scene, you just have to use a lot of exclamation marks!!!!

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

Usually, two characters come to me first. I’m very relationship-oriented when I write. It doesn’t have to be romantic–my current project is about platonic love–but there’s always some strong connection that draws me to a story. After that, characters come to me while writing. So far, my first drafts have been very messy and explorative. But I usually sense when a newly appeared character is going to hijack the story. In my current project, a guy walked in, spoke once, and I immediately knew he’d be important. I hadn’t planned for a specific love interest but that’s exactly what he is now. It’s an exciting part of the journey to discover who you’ll meet along the way.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

 That depends on the project, but I usually research as I go. GODDESS OF LIMBO took a lot of research–everything from names to cultures to idiosyncrasies of a specific time period. When I’m on a roll with a scene, I usually write “BLOB” or “insert description here” and then come back to it. But sometimes it’s too vital an aspect of the chapter, so I end up researching details every few lines. It can be a bit cumbersome but it often leads me down really interesting paths. Then there’s another kind of research that I do outside of the writing process. No matter what story I’m working on, I’m always trying to learn more about writing diversity, about people and what makes them tick, about harmful tropes we keep including into stories. I’m by no means perfect, but I think it’s important to keep widening your worldview if you want to improve your stories.

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes, absolutely, I see myself as an actor/writer, though I had to put the acting part on hold for a bit due to the pandemic and chronic illness. I’m also hoping to get into audiobook narration next year. I took some classes on it in college and am excited to narrate GODDESS OF LIMBO once I have the right equipment. I have very ambitious goals for my writing career and am ultimately hoping to work as a hybrid author, both traditionally and independently published.

What do you think about the current publishing market?

Oof, it’s complicated! I think it’s wonderful that indie publishing is becoming more and more of a feasible option. It allows for more freedom and diversity in publishing. At the same time, it’s a lot of work, and I think long-term I’d prefer to spend more time writing than handling the business aspects of it. The traditional publishing market is, however, slightly broken. So many traditionally published authors aren’t earning a living wage off their books and while not one specific area is to blame, there has to be a better way than artists not making money off their art. We can do better than that! I also think there’s an unfair focus on social media when it comes to publishing as well. Everyone tells authors they have to build their author platform and yes, it is much easier for writers with huge platforms to become bestsellers, but other forms of marketing are equally if not more important. As a bit of an introvert who struggles with social media, it can feel like you’re doomed from the getgo. But the more research I do, the less that seems true. So there’s a lot of misinformation out there, both in the indie and the traditional market. Overall though, I’m happy that more books than ever are being published and read. That is wonderful for the world.

What are you passionate about these days?

Accessibility. As terrible as the pandemic is, it’s shown us the many possibilities on how to make everything more accessible to disabled and chronically ill folks. I hope we will carry these realizations forward and not try to return to a less accessible world once some of us can go back to “normalcy”. I, myself, have learned a lot on how to make content more inclusive in the past year, but also know there’s still so much to learn. It’s exciting to see that platforms are slowly catching up–subtitles are becoming more available, and work from home is an option for many. It’s also a subject dear to the heart for both my wife and me. She’s narcoleptic, which she handles well when accommodations are given. A few extra five-minute breaks are all it takes, but she’d gotten laid off for it before when she’d been doing stellar work, and it’s just not fair. I have several conditions that require accommodations as well, and oh my goodness, does proper care make a difference! For example, nowadays everything is so digital, but because of chronic migraines, I can’t look at screens for too long. There are red filters for which I’m incredibly grateful for, but still, it’s not enough. A few months ago, however, I bought a Neo2 Alphasmart electronic typewriter from… I don’t know, the 90s? And it’s amazing! I’m writing my response currently on it because there is no blue light involved. It has completely changed my life as a writer, and it seems so easy. If we were able to make electronic devices like this thirty years ago, why can’t we do it now? I’m hopeful that one day there’ll be screens using this kind of technology.

I’m passionate about this topic because the more we educate ourselves and each other, the more everyone can be included. An inclusive society enriches us all.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

The must-have answer, of course, is reading. For years, I only did it sporadically, but this year, I’ve finally been able to squeeze daily reading back into my schedule. Apart from that, I love Dungeons & Dragons, and tabletop RPG games in general. My wife and I are currently running a two-person gay pirate adventure game and that’s a lot of fun. My character started out as a cook, but she quickly learned how to kick booty. My friends and I are also big fans of playing Among us. I used to be a lousy alien impostor, but I’m finally getting better. My best friend can still tell immediately if I’m the impostor. He says my voice changes. It’s hopeless. I just gotta murder him quickly!

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

I hate limited word counts… that’s five words, right? Okay, okay, I’ll give it an honest try. Ambitious, bubbly, curious storyteller dork. There we go 🙂

Do you have a favorite movie?

One of my absolute favorites is “Cloud Atlas”, and I don’t think it’s surprising if you look at my preferred way of telling stories. This movie is almost spiritual to me! I love how the characters’ lives of different ages are all interconnected and affect each other. I get goosebumps just thinking about it and the score is so beautiful! It’s also very romantic, and I love a good star-crossed sweethearts story.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

 I don’t know if it counts as a full pilgrimage, but my wife and I loved walking through London when we lived there, and most of the characters and plotlines of GODDESS OF LIMBO were birthed on those walks. The old architecture was perfect for envisioning grand fantasy tales. There is one building in particular near Waterloo station that has a lovely round tower with a circular room on the highest floor. We called that one our “Bored Reginald” tower, because the jester, and loved one of a protagonist, lives in a similar tower room in the palace. I still go on long walks to kickstart my imagination.

What inspired you to write this book?

GODDESS OF LIMBO guided me out of a tough time. I’ll always be grateful for the spark of inspiration that led to where I am now.

I’ve always been an actor/writer, but I focused on acting first. After I finished college, I ended up in a difficult financial spot, couldn’t get any roles because of my accent, and struggled with chronic illness. I felt completely creatively depleted. That’s when my wife started a Dungeons & Dragons game for my friends and me. I fell in love with both my character and her love interest. The storytelling of the game rekindled my imagination and I ended up writing “fanfiction” about my character and her girlfriend. My wife and I created a whole canon outside of the game and kept adding characters to it. We basically came up with a world of our own and played improv scenes set in it every evening after work. Every bathroom break at work turned into me typing out little scenes for the characters and before I knew it, we’d created an epic, intricate fantasy world. Then, when I was sick one day, I decided to write the origin story of my character’s dad. That is now chapter five of GODDESS OF LIMBO. I dove into the love interest’s mother–Ally–next, and suddenly the parents became the true story.

The first draft barely resembles the book now. My Dungeons & Dragons character and her love interest will only be children in the overall series. In the end, it wasn’t their story.

It took me five months to realize that what I was writing might become a book, and another year to truly commit to becoming an author.

I’ve always wanted to be an author, but I thought I couldn’t pursue it until I was in my fifties. I thought I had to establish my acting career first. Writing one book seemed like an impossible journey to me. Now I don’ want to stop. I love this series, but I’m excited about all the other stories I plan to tell as well. I was so lost when the first inspiration for GODDESS OF LIMBO came to me. I don’t want to know where I’d be if I hadn’t followed it.

What can we expect from you in the future?

The Forgotten Splinters Chronicles is currently planned as a five-book series, although the next part will be a prequel novella that takes place right after the prologue. It’s still in the drafting phase, but I’d like it to stand on its own, so people can read it before or after GODDESS OF LIMBO.

In terms of other novels–I have about thirty-five stories on my “to be written” pile right now and it’s steadily growing. While I really enjoy writing fantasy, I’d like to branch out into other genres as well. One of my current projects is a contemporary coming-of-age story about two queer runaway kids growing up on the streets of San Francisco. It’s in the second draft stage now. After that, I’m not sure which one I’ll choose from my idea pile. The close contesters are a space mermaid Sci-Fi, an underwater fantasy romance, and a pirate adventure. 2022, however, will be dedicated entirely to GODDESS OF LIMBO’s sequel. I’ve already written a few chapters for it..

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in GODDESS OF LIMBO?

I have a large cast of characters as their stories are all interconnected, so when people ask me to talk about my protagonist, I’m tempted to give a dozen ted talks. But seeing as occasional restrain is a virtue, let’s just touch on three of the main ones.

Ally, or the elvish Princess Alexandra Verdain, has endured many hardships–the Council stripping her power exiled her grandmothers, her mother died during Ally’s mysterious birth and her father disappeared when she was ten, she was married off as a child to a ruthless magic-bearer, and her nation ridicules and infantilizes her because of her schizoaffective disorder. Despite all that, she’s brilliant, snarky, endlessly curious, and undeterred once she’s set her mind on something. She’s had a long-term affair with her court jester and cares about Elfentum’s future, even if it doesn’t care about her.

Captain Subira Se’azana is still trying to understand who she truly is. She grew up in a noble family in Fi’Teri, deeply religious and set to advance in court, but she ran away to Virisunder as a child and became the mentee of Ally’s grandmother who runs a military academy. When we meet Subira, she’s on the cusp of change–in a war declared lost that she’s determined to win, pregnant and in love with a man who only noticed her after she saved his life, and torn between the military career that gives her purpose and dreams of becoming a dancer and having a loving family, unlike the one she came from. She’s a serious person with a sharp-edged wit, strong on the battlefield but uncertain in her private life.

And lastly, let’s talk about Vana Ackerman. She’s a feisty farm girl that lived through famines and wars and is sick of her town’s ruthless nobility. Even as a six-year-old, she talks about revolution, and by the time she’s sixteen, she’s known around town for her rebel band The Spirit and the Enforcer. The Spirit is her best friend Jules and when we met her, they’ve just broken up, because she’s realized she’s gay. Nevertheless, they plan to take down their nation together. Unfortunately, the beautiful teenage daughter of the local duke gets in their way. Vana has a big heart and a strong sense of justice, but she tends to jump the gun and hasn’t fully understood what the reality of revolution entails.

Where did you come up with the names in the story?

 I came up with character names in three different ways. Some were named by my wife, back when we first explored their storylines in D&D and improv scenes. My favorite of those is Vana, because it’s not actually a real name, but she thought it was and I loved it, so we’ve kept it. Other names were inspired by real people in history. General Makeda, Ally’s grandmother and principal of the most prestigious military academy, was named after an Ethiopian queen. She’s from Fi’Teri, which is loosely inspired by Ethiopian culture. The last and most common way I found names was by searching baby name suggestions from cultures most closely aligned to the fictional nation the character is from. Sachihiro, for example, is a Mayan name meaning “broad happiness”. He’s from Tribu La’am, which is inspired by Mesoamerica.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Writing GODDESS OF LIMBO has been an incredible journey. There are so many moments I treasure from the first four-day mini-vacation I took to focus on writing to the coffee-fueled everyday hustle of finishing the second draft on a deadline. It truly taught me how to write a book, how to become an author, and how to wholeheartedly embrace my imagination.

One of the aspects I’ve enjoyed the most from the very beginning was the jester’s tricks and his dialogue. He always has a turn of phrase or a silly pun on his lips, and despite his overall tragic character, he’s a joy to write.

I also love Martín’s chapters, because his internal monologues are the funniest to write. They’re less fun to edit because I need to delete a lot of his profanity.

Every POV character has its own perks though. Ally’s chapters always require me to pull up “Physics for kids” sites to try and understand the way she’s thinking, so progress is slow, but I also love it because her perception of life differs from mine. Sachihiro, on the other hand, perceives things similarly to me (even though his personality is very different from mine) so his thoughts tend to flow nicely. I love writing Subira for the fierce fight scenes, and Vana for her big ideas and grand speeches on justice. So really, every character has its own perks and I shall dearly miss writing the ones that didn’t survive the first book…

How did you come up with the title of your first novel?

Coming up with the title GODDESS OF LIMBO was a long and chaotic journey. It’s funny, because nowadays I don’t struggle with titles at all. I already have the sequel name and am really excited to share it.

But for the longest time, GODDESS OF LIMBO was just “The Frieda Kilburn Saga”. Frieda Kilburn was the D&D character that inspired everything. For some odd reason, I named her Frieda after Friedrich Nietzche–something about her moral view of the world? I have no idea! And Kilburn after the London neighborhood my train passed through on the way to work. She briefly appears in GODDESS OF LIMBO, but it’s no longer her story. Nevertheless, I kept the name until the first draft was done and I had to come up with something better to submit it for a workshop. Limbo, the realm of lost things, had already become an important part of the story, so I named it “Whispers from limbo”. Half a year later, I decided it wasn’t snappy enough, so I changed it to “Limbo calls”. A demon plot that becomes important in the sequel played a much bigger part in the initial drafts, so I thought it might fit. I still didn’t love it. When I finished the full rewrite, I realized that despite the interweaving narratives, at its core, it’s the story of the goddess Alames–Goddess of Limbo.

My wife and I have an inside joke that Alames isn’t actually the goddess of limbo and it’s referring to a different goddess, but you’ll have to read the book to decide that for your own…

Who designed your book covers?

Franzi Haase from, @coverdungeonrabbit on Instagram! I’m so grateful I found her. She was a joy to work with and took my vague ideas to create this gorgeous cover. It’s exactly how I wanted it to be! I can’t wait to work with her again for future covers. Picking a cover artist was one of the scariest parts of the publishing process. So scary, that for a while I considered designing it myself, but I couldn’t do it justice. Then I saw Franzi’s work on Instagram and fell in love with it!

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Yes, I absolutely would. Writing is such an intimate reflection of our insides and even though I’m deeply proud of this book, I have grown a lot since finishing the final draft and there are a few nuances I wish I’d put more thought into. I want to be clear, I don’t regret anything. If I wouldn’t love my book wholeheartedly, I wouldn’t be putting it out there. Honestly, I don’t think I could, because it’s scary enough to send it to hundreds of reviewers, promising them they’ll enjoy it, when truly, you have no idea. Every time I reread GODDESS OF LIMBO, it makes me incredibly happy. But it also deals with a lot of sensitive topics and there’s one nuance, in particular, I wish I could add. I have a lot of different cultures in this book, but there’s one subculture that we’ve only met one character from and that character is a darker shade of morally grey. From the beginning, I’ve planned to introduce a place full of those people in the third book, and most of them will be positive, good-hearted characters. But they aren’t in this book… So every now and then I get a small panic attack over potentially implying something I hadn’t intended. That’s probably a common issue among epic fantasy writers who juggle so many cultures, especially if diversity and representation are important to them. They’re vital to me. But we live in a society full of marginalization and I personally am constantly unlearning the subconscious biases I grew up with. I think as we evolve as people, our writing will become better and better. Even though I wish every book I write could be 100% perfect in my eyes, I realize that will never be possible, and that’s okay.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

This is a fun question for me and I’m going to be shameless about it. I’m an actor as well as a writer. I have a degree in film acting and so does my wife. I absolutely want to play Alames. Get the blue stage makeup–I’m ready! My wife wants to play the magical engineer Zazil and I think she’d be great at it. My best friend Nick also needs to play a role but we’re not certain which one yet. Maybe the casting director gets to have a say after all.

As to more known actors–I think Cara Delevigne would make a great Ally, especially after seeing her in Carnival Row, and I’d be honored if the amazing Lupita Nyong’o would play Subira. I’d also love for the actors’ identities to line up with the characters’ to a certain degree. Martín, for example, would have to be played by a Latino trans man, or I’d be upset. I would definitely want to make sure there’s no whitewashing happening either. So to conclude, I have a lot of opinions on acting 😉

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

This is a tricky question. So many moments are dear to me and then there are the ones I strongly connect with personal memories of writing them.

One of my favorite chapters is the Hard Rime River chapter. I love the setting, and it caught me completely off guard when I wrote it. The way it came together changed the whole trajectory of the book. I got so excited about the chapter that when I first presented it to my beta readers, they had no idea what was going on. I’ve rewritten it several times since and learned that me loving a part probably means I skipped the “make sure your readers get what’s happening” aspect. I tend to get lost in those moments.

My favorite part, truly, is the ending though. I’m so happy with how it all turned out. Writing beginnings is tough for me but I love stringing everything together. The moment everything fully connects feels so special. It makes me excited for the sequel because those connections have already been established now.

As to character journeys, I’m the proudest of Richard’s. Admittedly, it’s the one I’m most nervous about too because it deals with several delicate and painful topics, but I think it ends in a beautifully cathartic place. He has, perhaps, the most character development throughout the first book.

Finally, there are about four jokes I absolutely adore. When I find something funny, it never fails to crack me up. My wife still sends me a silly gif from two years ago and I can’t stop laughing at it. So those four jokes are absolutely wonderful to return to.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Oh goodness, most of them! But I also feel like I already have. I know so much about them, have spent hours imagining details that will never make it into the books. Character work is my favorite part, both in acting and writing. In our daily life, we always have some sort of mask on. Even when you’re very close with someone, you won’t know their thoughts, won’t know how they see life. All of that is possible when getting to know a character. They’re all flawed, yet I’m incredibly protective of all of them because I feel like I understand them better than I understand most real people. I need to note here that I’m talking about the point of view characters, not the villains. I do not under any circumstances want to spend a day with Prince Josef.

But if I could choose one of them to manifest into reality for a day, I’d probably want to do an improv show with the court jester Bored Reginald. He’s a grand illusionist and could whip up a fantastic set. I think our creative visions would align pretty well and rehearsing with him would be a blast. If I get more than one day, we’ll go on tour!

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

 I’m leaning toward the second one, but I feel like characters have such a mind of their own, they come out of some idea cloud. That’s probably an eccentric view on it, but itÄs how I experience it every time I write. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about book ideas like they’re these spirits of muses that come to writers, insisting to be born. I like that idea. I also think stories reflect paths our collective unconscious has taken. Sure, it’s all fiction, but in a way, it’s also all true. We find ourselves in characters, in their struggles, their lessons. I wouldn’t claim all that magic stems from my imagination alone.

I definitely don’t base characters off of people I know. I admit, I took inspiration for the physical description of two villains from people I knew, but that’s it. My best friend insists he sees a lot of Ally in me, but I can’t even do simple math and am much more of a pacifist than she is, so I don’t see it.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

They absolutely hijack the story. I wouldn’t even call it hijacking. They’re the ones steering the train, owning the railroad, creating the schedule. I just hop on and see where we’re going. I might think we’re cruising through Scotland only to look out the window and find myself in a jungle.

An example of that is my character, Robert. In the early drafts, when I was just learning the story, he was a royal guard, and that’s it. In the first real draft, I gave him a love interest and a whole unrelated side quest. Then, in my big rewrite, he talked to Ally for the first time and their chemistry was irresistible. It was entirely unexpected and changed everything. Suddenly he became a new romantic interest for Ally, and without spoiling anything, the ending couldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Robert’s change of direction. The whole series changed because of his influence and I’m glad for it.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

Yes! My short story EMILY’S HEIRS will be published in Hansen House Books’ queer SFF anthology ELIXIR: Stories of Hope and Healing in January 2022. I’m very excited to be part of this incredible project! My story is about a lesbian autistic girl and her intersex best friend breaking into a futuristic fertility clinic to stop irreversible eugenics.

I’m also working on a contemporary coming-of-age story called A FEW SPOTS PAST THE SUN about two queer runaway foster kids growing up on the streets of San Francisco. The first draft is written, but it’s an incredibly rough mess, so I’m working my way through that right now. My plan is to become a hybrid author, so I’m hoping to traditionally publish that story.

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?

I was staring at this question blankly and decided to ask my wife. She said “blood”, which was unhelpful. Let me see… daffodils, old parchment, and cinnamon. There we go!

What did you edit out of this book?

About two other books worth! Ally’s firstborn daughter, Josefine, who she wasn’t allowed to care for or even see much, had five whole chapters. She only appears briefly in one Ally chapter now. Richard also had a second son named Elvor, who truly was just an unpleasant fellow. I didn’t even enjoy writing him that much, but he was part of the very first idea dump, so he got three chapters of questionable content in the first draft. I deleted his character completely in the rewrite. Dillon, Ally’s first personal guard, had a huge arc as well, and so did the jester’s assistant Cleo. Both of them disappeared almost completely. Vana was originally an adult and married to a duchess named Marella. They fought Josefine, riding a demon, together on a grand battlefield. It was epic and also utter nonsense in the context of the actual story. The goddess Alames used to appear to Zazil in a strange vision and declare her the chosen one for a minor subplot. I had just finished a venti vanilla latte and thought it was my best writing ever! I’m going to post the original outline on my Patreon soon. It’s hilarious to me how little it has to do with GODDESS OF LIMBO’s actual plot.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why? I would absolutely love to take a class from the authors of THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR. Amal et-Mohtar and Max Gladestone’s storytelling moved me more than I thought possible. They told a grand epic within the pages of a novella. I’m absolutely in awe of their talent and would love to write a story like that someday. My imagination tends to think in epic spans as well, hence I started with a five-book epic fantasy series. But to condense that grand of a picture into the pure essence of it– Amazing! I’d love to learn how to do that. 

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Meet Author Kelly Pawlik

Kelly Pawlik dabbled with story writing from a young age. She spent her childhood reading, dressing her beloved cat, Midnight, up in doll clothes and hunting garter snakes in the backyard. Her favourite cartoon as a child was Jem and she is proud to own the full box set of DVDs. Her childhood dream was to be an author and she is proud to be bringing characters to life with the Olympic Vista Chronicles.

Kelly is a tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) writer and has released multiple RPG supplements with her husband under their micro-publishing company, Dire Rugrat Publishing. She has also contributed to several best-selling works with Kobold Press.

Kelly lives on Vancouver Island, BC with her husband, their three inquisitive children, and two lazy cats.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?

My husband and I are both avid gamers. We play a lot of tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGS). The characters in this book, or at least most of them, have appeared in various forms across a bunch of our campaigns. (This is probably one of my favorite versions of them though!) The Olympic Vista Chronicles are inspired by some time we spent playing the Tales From the Loop RPG, which is a great system set in “the 80s that never was.”

The characters have come to be very real for me, for both of us, and it’s a little scary but also super gratifying to put them out into the world in these novellas so other people can meet them.

So, what’s the deal with “The Link?”

The books are set in this small fictional town called Olympic Vista. (It’s not too far from Olympia, WA.) The whole town sort of formed around this research and development facility.  No one talks about exactly what they do there. It’s all pretty secretive. What people do know is that it was started by James Morrison. He ran the place for years, slowly growing it and bringing on more scientists. Dr. Morrison had a theory that everything was connected (or “linked”) and a lot of research stemmed from that. For the most part, the research is contained to the lab, but once in awhile something slips through, or an employee goes rogue, or the area just attracts some unwanted attention.

Some residents attribute weird happenings in town to the facility, but most people just go about their business, happy for the inexpensive houses and proximity to Olympia.

Why the 80s?

My husband and I had been playing the Tales From the Loop RPG, which is set in the 80s (“that never was”), but also, Stranger Things has been such a big influence in the media since its release.

Trends from lots of decades seem to circle back into style, but 80s trends are really coming back in all sort of places from fashion to home décor. I think there’s something about that time period. Even cartoon favorites like My Little Pony just don’t seem to go out of style, even if they’ve had a huge revamp appearance-wise.

I have very fond memories of watching Jem and Lady Lovelylocks, I can remember a collection of the hard sided plastic lunch boxes with images of She-ra or Sesame Street on them, and my brother was super into the Ninja Turtles, so we used to play that a lot. There’s just something about the more simplistic time of the 80s that has this nostalgia to it.

Plus, it’s way easier for kids to get themselves into and out of trouble when there aren’t hovering parents and cell phones!

What are your favorite things about the 80s?

The toys. I remember my Jem doll who didn’t fit any of Barbie’s clothes. She had these huge flat feet! Or the brightly colored toy rotary phone that every kid seemed to have.

Then there’s the cartoons. They are honestly so terrible, but in that nostalgic way. It’s amazing how far cartoons have come.

In truth, I was a bit young for some of the 80s vibes as I’m an 80s baby. (Of course, if you listen to Robin in How I Met Your Mother, the 80s didn’t come to Canada until the early 90s!) I’ve got some fond memories from the later 80s and early 90s though, and the internet is such an amazing thing.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

A bit of both! I often find the dialogue writes itself. I can’t seem to control everything they say, for better or worse. The characters all have such distinctive personalities to me, their own flaws and hopes and aspirations. So, I have a general idea of where everything is going, but once in awhile they surprise me.

What is your favorite scene in Yesterday’s Gone?

There are so many I love, but I really enjoy the scene in the park after the kids have snuck into the haunted house. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but Darius’ excitement for the whole situation, and his willingness to just go with it, in contrast to the others who are still coming to grips with the discovery, it just makes me smile every time I read it.

What is your favorite scene in Songs from the Wood?

That’s tough. We really see a lot more of the home lives for these kids in book two, and I really like that. Darius’ interactions with his mother give us a better picture of who Darius is. We get to see Adelaide with her mother as well. And we get to meet Tetsu’s mother in book two, and she makes any scene she’s in wonderful. Tetsu has this way about him, but like so many kids, like so many people, it’s a façade. Mrs. Nomura is a no-nonsense woman and she adds this dynamic that I enjoy. There’s a lot of excitement in the woods, of course, but the banter (or lack of) between parent and child really excites me.

Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.

It’s a little bit of everything: snappy dialogue, friendship, 80s nostalgia, a touch of horror and a small pinch of young love. It’s a quick read, so there isn’t a big commitment, but if you love it, there’s so much more to come. It was written to be a great read for busy adults. Pick it up, meet some new friends, and finish the adventure in an afternoon. What have you got to lose?

Who designed your book covers?

Greta Paliulyte. I found her through Fiverr and I loved her style. They are a bit different, maybe not in the usual wheelhouse of this type of book, but I love the sort of 80s vibe they give off, like a book you’d pull off a shelf in your grandma’s dusty basement.

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?

Oh, that’s a fun question! I suppose it would be those scratch and sniff stickers from the 80s, but mixed with a musty old house.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

I honestly read a lot of YA, especially fantasy YA. I like it, because I like an easy read, but sometimes I wish there was just a bit more to it, or a bit less than some of the books on the fiction market have. As a working parent I found I had less and less time to read and it was frustrating. I’d make it through some YA books now and then, and I enjoyed them, but I still wanted more.

So many people in my life think of me as an avid and voracious reader, but the number of books I was getting through in recent years really diminished. My goal with Olympic Vista Chronicles is to help other people like me, who want to read, who love to read, to feel like they have these bite-sized piece they can get through. The “problem” or adventure in each book is contained to that book, but strung together the series make a bigger and more satisfying story.

Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?

Darius, the rich-kid from Boston, has such a curious mind. In some ways, he’s been super sheltered and the idea that he could have this group of friends, that he could go on these adventures, it’s really exhilarating for him.

Adelaide, is a bit different. She’s the glue that holds her circle of friends together, even if she doesn’t realize it. She’s had a tough life. Her mother can’t seem to hold down a job, she burns just about anything she cooks and she has horrible taste in men. Her dad isn’t in the picture at all and there’s been a revolving door of roommates over the years. Adelaide spends more time being the adult than her mother does, and Darius’ arrival in town gives her a chance to be a kid and get in trouble and just live.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

None of the characters are based on anyone I’ve met exactly, but I don’t know if anything can come completely from people’s imagination; everything we do, everything we see, it can affect us. I have no doubt my interactions with various people, things they have said to me or I’ve ever heard, they all play a part in the creation of these characters. 

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

I might just be working on a few! I have an idea for a short story collection I’d like to put together. The main characters of the novella series won’t feature too prominently, but they’ll be around for parts of the book. Their friends, however… we’ll have to see!

In the meantime, there is a short story available to people who sign up for my newsletter. It’s still set in Olympic Vista, but it has very different characters. It’s much less horror and much more friendship with a touch of sadness. (I only send out a newsletter about once a month, but subscribers will get access to novella updates and behind-the-scenes information!)

There are some unanswered questions throughout the two books. Are the answers coming soon?

I really endeavour to wrap things up in each book, but Olympic Vista is a strange place and we’re following a group of preteens as they investigate the weirdness around them. Sometimes the answers are just out of reach, but don’t worry: a lot of questions will be answered in due time. 

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

I honestly can’t pinpoint when I become an author. I can remember trying to write stories before I could actually write. (I distinctly remember one of my older half-brothers refusing to sit as a captive audience writing down my every word!) And I know I played around with stories and poems through school. Several years ago, I started writing roleplaying game (RPG) supplements, and that just sort of kept evolving. Some of it was really rules based, but other parts were adventures or really descriptive.

As far as my novella fiction work goes, I dabbled a bit with passages of work that could become novels or short stories over the years, but nothing really came of it. Between work and kids, there just isn’t always a lot of time and the idea of actually writing a whole book and figuring out what to do with it was really intimidating.

When COVID hit and everyone tucked themselves away, I saw all these posts on social media about what people were doing with their free time I was a little jealous. I’ve got three kids and, due to a health scare with our youngest a couple of years ago, we decided to homeschool them last year. I felt like I had no time at all, let alone this extra time everyone was talking about!

Still, I felt inspired to take baby steps, so earlier this year I enrolled in an online writing course through the community college. It really pushed me to carve out a bit of time for writing. I wasn’t thrilled with the short story I had at the end of it, but it did reignite my passion for writing. My husband was super supportive and kept encouraging me to write more, and so I did. I ended up with a ton of words and too many ideas, so I sought some help from that instructor and she suggested going with a series of novellas. Now here we are!

Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Surrey, BC. I’ve never lived anywhere but Vancouver Island, but my mum was pregnant and went to the mainland for a concert with my father. Apparently, the doctor had said she’d be fine, but a few hours before the show she went into labour. I had to hear for years about how she knew exactly when Jethro Tull last played in the Vancouver area. I actually offered to buy her a ticket when they passed through again in 2011.

What do you enjoy most about writing this series?

I love getting to bring these characters to life, so to speak. They feel like friends to me, and writing out these adventures, instead of just having them in my head, allows other people to meet them, to love them or hate them (or love to hate them!).  It is also a lot of fun to dig deeper into the 80s. I have a playlist of songs I play to get me in the mood sometimes, and I’ve been digging out the 80s movies to watch as a family. It’s amazing what was acceptable back then!

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

So much! And sometimes it’s the small things. I’m from Canada, but I try to ensure the characters refer to things as they would in the US, so soda (not pop). I discovered that Bits-n-Bites are Canadian, so I had to swap them out for Chex Mix. Also, I’ve always called it Kraft Dinner, but I learned that in the US it’s called Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Who knew, right?

You’ve published two books now, both in the same series. Do you have a favorite, and if so, why?

The second book for sure. Yesterday’s Gone, the first book, has a lot of set up in it. I think that’s difficult to avoid in the first book in the series. Songs from the Wood has a lot more about the characters and their interactions with each other. There are more musical references and, I think, an even better feeling of the 80s. If you are on the fence with book one, I really recommend checking out book two. There’s a lot of fun in those pages, including a party!

Why did you decide to write YA?
I’m not sure I did, honestly. I set out to write this series with the intention of providing a great story to adults who were nostalgic for the 80s and wanted a fun, quick read. I often feel like I don’t have enough time to read anymore, and so when I do sit down with a book, I want to be able to get into it easily, to fall into the pages and feel like I’m right there, a part of the story.

I kind of tried avoid the idea of a YA novella, but here we are! I was surprised to learn that (according to different reports) between 55-70% of YA book sales are adults. It sounds like lots of adults love their YA fiction.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

So many of them. Honestly. Just for different reasons. I’d be so nervous hanging out with Tetsu because of all the trouble he’d probably get us in, but he’s got a certain charm to him and it would be a day to never forget. I doubt I’d get to decide what we did though! Darius is just so enthusiastic it would be hard to not want to spend time with him. We could bike around or swim in his pool. And sweet little Kurt… I’d want to take him out of his house and let him go wild in the bookstore. Adelaide, well, I’d love to hear her deepest fears and promise her I’ll keep them a secret, then eat a big meal and hand her a packet of leftovers. Andy, and he doesn’t make much of an appearance yet, he’d be fun to spend time with. We’d go for a hike and get ice cream afterward, then maybe watch Indiana Jones or James Bond in the evening.

How to find time to write as a parent?

Oh my gosh, that’s difficult! Some days are way more successful than others. My kids are 7, 9 and 11. Sometimes they all want to play video games and I try to seize that opportunity to write in peace, but they usually end up fighting about whatever game they are playing. Sometimes my husband runs interference, but he’s got a job as well, so sometime I have to just give up.

I read this trick once about setting a schedule for writing where you have these zones: red zone means no writing; yellow zone is good for editing and review; green zone means you have no distractions and should be dedicated writing time. I often feel like I live in the red and yellow zones!

That said, my mum lives in town and she takes them for a sleepover now and then so I try to blitz through some words while they are out of the house.

What do your children think about you being an author? Are they supportive of your writing?

My kids are pretty happy for me to be doing something I want to do. I really had to explain how important my writing time was for them to understand how difficult it is when I’m interrupted. I try to make it up to them with visits to fun places, playing games (my son has a magnetic dart board and loves our daily games on it), and freezies.

I still get interrupted now and then, but they do their best. They were so excited for me when book one, Yesterday’s Gone, arrived in print at our house. Out of the blue sometimes one of them will say something like “I hope you sell a thousand copies of your book.” I love it. I love them. 

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Mother, RPG lover, mediocre gardener

What can we expect from you in the future?

More of this! I’m really excited about the Olympic Vista Chronicles series, so I’m working away on those. The first book was released in July and the second in September. The drafts for book three and book four are in various states, so it’s a great time to get into the series – there should be more books coming really soon!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?

I don’t know what’s going on in their heads! I (mostly) understand pre-teen and teen girls, but boys? My eldest isn’t quite that old yet, though he’s getting close, so I don’t have a lot of experience with that, and I didn’t have a lot of male friends when I was younger. I think it’s because the few there were kept breaking my toys and so I didn’t want them around! I do my best, work with how I feel the characters are, then look to my beta-readers. They’ve been really great at pointing out flaws. They tried to make suggestions with the girls though and I had to go back to my other beta-readers who assured me I’d captured the girls just fine.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I did, but I’m not sure I do now. I think you can be a position to write better or worse, as in some writing may require a much heavier editing hand, but I don’t think there’s a problem you can’t get past by just writing. You may have to skip further forward and then go back and fill in the blanks, but the best way through is to just write.

What are you currently reading?

I have about seven books on the go. It’s way too many! I’m at various points of An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, Becoming by Michelle Obama, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and the Dead of Night by John Marsden (that last one is a re-read). I hope to finish some of them up soon, but I keep getting distracted.

I actually added another one to my pile, Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions. I’ve been much more diligent about reading it. He has this whimsical horror to his work that I love.

What makes a good story?

A good story makes you feel something. You feel what the characters do or you feel for the characters, or both. A story that makes you keep reading, makes you wonder what happens next, that’s a good story. A good story makes you invest yourself in it. It makes you care.

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Meet Author John Calia

John Calia – A Brooklyn-born, second generation American and the eldest of three boys, writing is his third career and the one about which he is most passionate.  Following graduation from the US Naval Academy and active duty in the Navy, he embarked on a career in business.  He began writing his blog “Who Will Lead?” in 2010 attracting over 120,000 readers.  It inspired him to write his first book, an Amazon five-star rated business fable titled “The Reluctant CEO.”  Currently he makes his home in Fairport, NY, a village on the Erie Canal.

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Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

Writing is my fourth (or maybe fifth) career.  I have been a U.S. Navy officer, a banker, an entrepreneur and business consultant.  I began writing a blog in 2010 at the encouragement of a good friend and found a following (over 120,000 readers).  My brother encouraged me to write a book, but I resisted.  Coincidentally, a development rep from a small indie publisher reached out to me right after my brother died (from Lyme Disease).  “I’ve reading your blog,” he said.  “If you ever decide to write a book, let me know.  We’d love to publish it.”  It took another year for me to complete The Reluctant CEO: Succeeding Without Losing Your Soul.  I sent him a final draft.  “It may take me a while to get back to you on this,” he said.  Two days later he sent me a contract.  The book was released the following year in May 2016.

The book was a success in the narrow audience I chose.  It received 5-star ratings on Amazon.  And that made me want to write another book.  But I wanted a broader audience.  I wrote a near-future, science-fiction novel “The Awakening of Artemis” which will be published on September 29, 2021 for two reasons: (1) science-fiction has a huge audience; and, (2) I wanted to write about the effect of artificial intelligence on society. 

What is something unique/quirky about you?

Not a damn thing!  Well, I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.  That’s not quirky or unique.  But it’s uncommon for sure. 

Where were you born/grew up at?

I was born in Brooklyn – the old Brooklyn made up of ethnic neighborhoods.  My father used his WWII veteran benefits to buy us a house in the Long Island suburbs, where I lived until I graduated high school.  I’ve only been back for occasional visits since and have lived in nine U.S. states. 

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Frankly, what I find most relaxing is writing.  Other than that, I spend time on the water in the lakes and harbors of western New York state. 

What inspired you to write this book?

The birth of my granddaughter, Emily Grace Martinez-Calia.  She is the first female in my bloodline in 90 years. I wonder what life will be like for her 30 years in the future.  What kind of world will she live in?  How will she deal with mid-21st Century reality?

What can we expect from you in the future?

Book 2 in this series will likely be titled “False Flag.”  It will bring in some of the recently revealed pseudo-facts from the U.S. government’s release of information about UFO’s and alien visits to Earth.

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

The main character is Diana Gutierrez-Adams.  She grows up in a military family and elects to join the first class to graduate from the US Space Force Academy in 2040. She is grounded in traditional values and is raised by her father to be a strong independent woman.  She cares about the cause of women in society and is encouraged by the ascension of women into leadership roles.  She is goal oriented and focused but can undermine herself when she perceives injustice, particularly when it is directed at one of her friends and co-workers.

The formative experience of Diana’s adult life came during a war.  From her underground bunker in Nevada she identified targets and launch stealth missiles toward their targets.  During her shift at the controls, her base was struck by an enemy missile.  She assumed control of the automated fire control system and destroyed the enemy.

Emerging from her bunker, she realized how lucky she was to have survived.  Engulfed in smoke and still smoldering, the base was barely recognizable.  She stumbled toward HQ, the operations center, tripping several times, once over a dead body, another over a disembodied leg.  The ground was hot! She burned her left hand when she broke her fall.  Disoriented, weak and in pain, it took a few minutes (seemed like hours) to realize that HQ was gone – completely vaporized.  In its place were smoldering ashes.  No human remains were evident.  Commanding the operations center that directed all the launch stations was Base Commanding Officer, Brigadier General Paul Adams – her father.

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?

The characters mirror the characters in The Wizard of Oz. 

Where did you come up with the names in the story?

Main character:  Diana: the Roman Goddess of the Hunt, protector of women and children, fierce warrior and loyal to a fault.  (Dorothy is her alter ego in The Wizard of Oz.)

Her sidekick and soul mate:  Gabrielle, chosen from the sidekick in the TV series “Xena, Warrior Princess. (Represents Diana’s heart.)

Nick Adams: An often-used name in the books written by Hemingway.  Plus my Dad was named Nick.  He’s a Nobel-winning mathematician in the book.  (the brain.)

Tony Russo: I just like the name.  (Courage personified.)

How did you come up with the title of the book?

Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo in Greek Mythology.  Diana (main character’s name) is the Roman equivalent.  The “Awakening” takes place because of the heroic journey that Diana undertakes on behalf of her grandfather (Nick Adams).

Who designed your book covers?

I hired a great graphics guy in the U.K. through His name is Nick Castle.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Kristen Stewart or Zoe Kravitz.

What did you edit out of this book?

I started my writing career as a blogger.  My editor pushed me to delete sections that sounded like an essay and slowed the story.  I’ve used those sections in my author website

Is there a writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?

There are so many great writers.  But the greatest storyteller might be J.K. Rowling.  I would love to be able to pick her brain as I write my next book. 

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

MUSIC!!!  I have to have music playing to write. 

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Writer’s Block by Casia Pickering

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

An authors thoughts on Writer’s Block

by Casia Pickering

Writer’s block. It’s real, folks. Seriously. Take right this moment as an example. I wanted to sound pretentious, informative, and intellectual, permitted to sit among the greats, but really, I’m just me- a writer with the block. The block is called “The Guest Post.”

For me, I dislike calling it a block. A block feels like a Rubix cube or a blockage in the circulatory system. One aspect is easily solvable if you know the formula or have the time to take off the stickers and place them on the cube correctly. The other image? Well, without proper medical care, that shit can kill you.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t have the patience to take off the stickers on a Rubix cube, nor do I feel like getting probed to see if I’m going to kick the bucket anytime soon. Let’s face it; neither image feels very “Author.”

Nope. I consider the block as a wall because that’s what it is. You are running through a maze made by your imagination, and you made the wrong turn, meeting with a wall- The Writer’s Wall. 

So, what do you do about the wall? It’s pretty simple. You have three options from where I stand, and all of them suck, but hey, you can get around it.

Option one is backtracking. Follow down the path you just went through and see what had caused you to make that wrong turn. There was one time I met the wall, and I backtracked. It turned out that a secondary love interest to the triangle wanted more screen time. It turns out he was a central character, that he had personality, and I needed to show it. I have to rewrite that story again because it turns out I still haven’t given him the love he needs.

Option two is breaking the wall. Just go for it. Write something completely off the wall in your story. Force the story to happen. Just grab that sledgehammer and slam it into the bricks, break the plaster, cut through the drywall, and make that small home into a beautiful renovation that will make HGTV cry tears of adoration. This is an excellent option if you are on a blank page. A great example of me doing that is at the beginning of this post. That was me taking the sledgehammer into the wall.

Option three is parkour. Come on. I know you had to have run and jumped on a jungle gym as a child. Do you remember being fearless? I do. Sometimes, I do silly things and twirl, all the while screaming “Parkour.” Yes, it does make people stare at me, but hey, it works. No, I don’t do actual parkour, but I do like to do something physical and productive to break what keeps me from writing. Usually, it is chores or just doing something silly. What matters is you don’t focus on the act of writing. Instead, you do something different. Eventually, the blood will get to the brain, and the brain will hit the imagination, thereby helping you write.

So, is the block actual? Yes, but it’s a wall, and everyone knows that if you can build a wall, you can tear it down. That’s why we made catapults, to fly over them and take over the kingdom.

Meet Author Rachel Rossano

Rachel Rossano is a happily married mother of three children. She spends her days teaching, mothering, and keeping the chaos at bay. After the little ones are in bed, she immerses herself in the fantasy worlds of her books. Tales of romance, adventure, and virtue set in a medieval fantasy world are her preference, but she also writes speculative fantasy and a bit of science fiction.

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How do you find time to write as a parent?

When my kids were young, naptimes and bedtime were my writing time. Now that I have pre-teens and teens, they are old enough to respect my need for writing time. I announce when I will be writing that day and then enforce only an emergency rule. It is a challenge because I love my kids and enjoy spending time with them, but I have to write if I am going to produce more books.

What inspired you to write this book?

Rumpled Rhett came from multiple inspiration sources.

First, there was the huntsman from fairytales. He appears most notably in “Snow White” and “Red Riding Hood.” I always thought he should have a story of his own. Years ago, a friend of mine started writing a story about Snow White and the huntsman, which I really enjoyed. She never finished it, but I couldn’t shake the idea that the huntsman needed his own story.

There is the billed source of inspiration, Rumpelstiltskin himself. The fairytale was always a fascinating one for me. After reading K. M. Shea’s retelling, I began brainstorming alternative stories where Rumple could be the hero of his own tale. By the way, I highly recommend K. M. Shea’s Rumpelstiltskin.

Then, there was a surprise inspiration source in Between Floors by W. R. Gingell. Athelas and the dynamic between him and Pet inspired the crisis point at the climax of Rumpled Rhett.

Oh, and finally, I was inspired by “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. The fact it has been a favorite poem of mine since childhood probably betrays a bit more of the strangeness of my interests. It is a tragedy, and I almost exclusively write happy endings (my two tragedies are short stories in The Making of a Man short story anthology, if anyone is interested).

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I absolutely loved Rhett. Writing his character was fun from the beginning to the end. After adorkable Silas in Grace by Contract and scholarly Crispin in Reclaiming Ryda, it was wonderful to get back to one of my favorite kinds of heroes, the man of action and danger. Who doesn’t daydream about a hero capable of defending her from the trials of life?

Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

It depends on the book, but most of my characters tend to hijack their own stories. In the case of Rumpled Rhett, Rhett had a moment where he insisted on burning Cat’s socks. The struggle between me and the character became a blog post for Lands Uncharted ( Spoiler: he won the argument.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

The short answer is a resounding yes. First, there is my early work which I hope will never make it into print.

Then, there is an epic science fiction romance series for which I have written the first book, Diaspora (rough draft). I can’t publish the first book until I write the second.

Oh, and I have a contemporary Christian novel written and tentatively titled White Bear. It is inspired by “East of Sun West of the Moon” and is set in the early 2000s. That one might appear soon. I have to fix a plot hole and get it through editing.

Finally, I have a long-lost (not really) fourth and final novel in The Theodoric Saga that has so many issues that it will require an extensive rewrite to bring it up to my current standards. I might just start that one from scratch…or bury it with my early work, never to see the publishing light of day.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

It depends. Some characters appear in a flash of inspiration with their own distinct voice and personality. Those characters are the ones I spend the book discovering as I write. Other characters are built, piece by piece, either through the plotting or the writing process. Either way, writing them and finding their voice is a journey of delightful discovery.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

I would prefer silence or listening to music that is so familiar that I can tune it out. But as a mother of three, I have to be flexible. Writing with the background noises of life going on around me is a necessity.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

I usually only draft one book at a time, but I can be developing other book ideas while drafting one. Oh, and I publish and promote while writing the next novel. For example, at this moment, I am writing the next Once Upon a Duchy novel, editing a short novella for a multiple author project, plotting a different project, and promoting Rumpled Rhett. I am constantly juggling multiple projects.

What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

First comes inspiration. An idea, an image, or just a conversation can prompt a story idea. I immediately begin playing with it in my head to see if it is viable. Does it make sense? Does it excite me? Is it something I could make work?

Once I am confident I can make it work, I start sketching a rough high-level collection of plot points. Perhaps a few characters and interactions are added. I keep mulling as I collect ideas in a Word document, so everything is in one place.

Then, I sit down and plot out a series of points. Tensions, crises, motivations, villains, antagonists, pressures, family, settings, etc., until I get a solid framework. At this point, I know that it might change and shift as I develop it.

At the same time as this plotting/brainstorming is going on, I start collecting research and inspirational pieces.

Once I have a solid handle on the story, characters, and plot, I usually start writing. I write in chronological order. No scene hopping allowed. As I write, the story changes. Sometimes the end result looks nothing like the original plan. Other times, only some things change. Frequently the climax shifts around depending on what is needed to tie it all together into a satisfying ending.

When I finally finish the rough draft, it is time for proofing, beta readers, editors, and final polishing.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Oh, that is a tricky question. Some of my books, like The Talented Trilogy, took years and years. While others, like Rumpled Rhett, took about six months. It depends on what else is going on in my life, the time I can devote to getting words on the page, and my health. Writing while dealing with brain fog is dangerous. Characters do unexpected things, I drop words, or make little sense on those days.

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Meet Author Laurisa White Reyes

Laurisa White Reyes is the author of sixteen books. Her middle grade novel THE STORYTELLERS won the 2015 Spark Award from The Society of Children’s Books Authors & Illustrators (SCBWI) and her young adult novel PETALS received the 2017 Spark Honor Award.

In addition to writing, Laurisa also is the founder and Senior Editor of Skyrocket Press, which publishes quality fiction and non-fiction for a variety of readers. She also teaches English composition at College of the Canyons in Southern California. To subscribe to Laurisa’s monthly newsletter, visit her website at

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SAND AND SHADOW by Laurisa White Reyes

Tell us about Sand and Shadow.

Mission Specialist Adán Fuentes awakes from cryo-hybernation and discovers that he is one of seven survivors of the shuttle Carpathia’s crew. The shuttle’s been damaged, and they are on a distant planet, way off course from their intended destination and purpose. When they are attacked by some unseen creature, the crew must race against time to figure out where they are, how they got there, and how to defend themselves – if they can. Think The Martian meets Alien.

What inspired you to write Sand and Shadow?

When I was kid, one of my favorite movies was Forbidden Planet, about a scientist on a distant planet who somehow taps into the deepest recesses of his psyche and unleashes a monster. I watched the video over and over for years and have always been fascinated with the plot. I watched it a few months ago. The movie is very hokie by today’s standards, but the premise still holds up. I wanted to create a new story with new characters but based on a similar idea: that humans and the human mind are capable of both great good and profound evil.

Most of your books are either fantasy or contemporary young adult. What motivated you to delve into science fiction/horror?

I’m a sucker for horror fiction. Every summer, I read nothing but horror. I’ve read a lot of zombie and haunted house books over the years. Most of the short stories I’ve written are either horror or speculative in nature. Even a couple of my novels have elements of psychological suspense. So, I was destined to eventually write something seriously hard core like Sand and Shadow. I would love to write more in this genre. I’ve got some good ideas.

What was the writing process like for this book?

I began writing the first draft in 2012, the year my very first novel was published. By then, I’d already written a dozen other manuscripts, each of which has taken about eight years on average from start to publication. Writing is a long process for me. I muddle over details for years before I ever begin to write. I finished the first draft of Sand and Shadow in about a year, but then it sat on the back burner while I revised and published my other books. Eventually, I came back around to it. I spent all of 2020 revising and polishing it, and most of this year on everything else it takes to publish a book.

Besides writing, how do you spend your time?

Writing is on and off, depending on which project I’m working on. I just finished the first draft of a historical novel that I’ve been working on for about five years. So, I’m not writing anything new at the moment. I’m currently focused on promoting and marketing my backlist, which is like a part-time job. I own my own small press, and we’re actually publishing our second contest winner this fall, a memoir called A Sacred Duty: How a whistleblower took on the VA and won by Paula Pedene. So, I’m spending time editing and designing that book as well. When I’m not writing/editing/designing, I spend the rest of my time with my thirteen-year-old son (he’s my youngest of five kids – the others are all adults now). I homeschool him and transport him to his many activities: scouts, horseback riding, theater, piano, voice lessons. I volunteer with scouting and theater as well. Oh, and I also teach college composition part-time, take care of my home and family, and I read. A lot.

What sorts of books do you enjoy reading?

I’ve always been an avid reader. As a kid and teenager, my brothers would spend Saturday afternoons outdoors pulling weeds and doing yardwork for my dad. I’d be lying in bed devouring a book. I read between 30-50 books a year in a variety of genres. Summers are devoted to horror fiction, especially zombies and supernatural thrillers. But I also love historical non-fiction, young adult, suspense, and mysteries. The only genre I won’t touch is romance. Blech. I’ll read a book with some romance in it but never a straight up romance novel. Some of the best books I’ve ever read include:

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Lilies of the Field by William E. Barrett

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Most novelists can tell you that something magical happens while you’re writing a first draft. When you get really into the story, the real world seems to dissolve, and you’re transported into a world of your own making. My husband and kids joke that they can ask me anything while I’m writing, and I’ll just nod my head and have no recollection of what I’ve agreed to. And then somewhere along the line, it’s hard to explain, but the story takes on a life of its own. Like you’re not writing the story but it’s writing itself, and you as the author are the conduit rather than the creator. The characters become, in some sense, real beings, and the writer’s job is to be faithful to those characters and the story. That’s why I love writing first drafts. It’s the creative, magical experience that is so remarkable. But then later, the real work begins with editing and revising. It’s a completely different mental process, and I enjoy that too but in a different way. Editing, to me, is like shaping clay on a potter’s wheel, molding the material that is already there into something really beautiful.

What kind of research goes into your writing?

I love research. I’ve spent countless hours researching for each of my novels: reading non-fiction books, newspapers, magazines, online studies and websites, conducting interviews, and even on-location travel. For my novel Sand and Shadow, I had to learn about cryogenics, habitable planets, ESP, light speed calculations, and a bunch of other stuff. My dad was a computer programmer for Jet Propulsion Laboratories working on deep space craft like Voyager and Ulysses. He first introduced me to the idea of planetary colonization and deep space travel. What we’ve always considered science fiction is, in reality, within reach. I didn’t want the book to sound too futuristic but something that could happen within the next few years. The secret to good research for any book is for the information to be so smoothly incorporated into the story that the readers don’t notice it. Like the beams and bolts make up the structure of a building. It should be invisible to the naked eye.

Meet Author Katherine H. Brown

Katherine Brown is a Texas girl with books in her blood. She has been reading as long as she can remember and has been “making books” from the time she was a child. Her first few were of a non-traditional binding – cardboard & wrapping paper stapled with handwritten pages in the middle & a ribbon closure! Her love of books runs deep and she hopes to encourage readers of all ages to explore and use their imagination by helping them fall in love with books just like she did.Katherine is married to a wonderful man, Patrick, and has a spunky, smart, amazing step-daughter Lexi. Lexi is the biggest fan of this author’s first published series, School is Scary, and is constantly asking when the next book will be finished so she can read it too.
When not writing or reading, you can often find Katherine eating chocolate or enjoying time with family.

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An Interview With The Author

Do you try to be more original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I saw this question posed and was at odds on how to answer it. The truth is, I feel like my writing is original because it all comes to me little bits at a time during brainstorming, or driving down the road and a random bit of dialogue that goes with no story I’ve written yet pops into my head and so on, thus making it very original to me. I don’t feel like I write cookie-cutter stories. In fact, sometimes I’m afraid I don’t even follow the rules of writing very well.

As a reader myself, I love a good trope. You know, the amateur artist turned sleuth will always get her bad guy; the man and woman on opposite sides of an issue will fight and fight until they realize they actually don’t want to fight but, rather, have fallen in love, the best friend has a secret crush, etc. I never get tired of them. Give me ten Beauty and the Beast retellings and I’ll love at least eight of them. Yet, as a writer, I find it difficult to follow a tried and true trope pattern absolutely and with no alterations. I don’t know if it is because it feels like copying, or if it is the fear that my story won’t live up to those stories, but somehow I always feel like my story is slightly different or unconventional in the way I tell it. In fact, I sometimes chastise myself because when I finish writing, I’m not sure I even know how to pick the correct genre to describe my book because I didn’t hit every single best-selling trope or expectation out there. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? I couldn’t really say. I have readers who leave beautiful reviews on how much they enjoyed the stories and characters especially. I have other reviews huffing that there is far too much fluff taking up the pages.

All readers are different so I think it is fine when stories are something different, as well.

However, I still feel like I try to give readers what they want: characters they can know and be invested in, and a story that draws you into it until the last page. A memorable scene. A funny line. All the feels. You be the judge; I can’t wait to hear readers’ thoughts on The Librarian’s Treasure.

Can you tell us a little about The Librarian’s Treasure?

Of everything that I’ve written, this story has taken the longest. I whipped out a beginning in no time flat, falling in love with the idea of an orphaned librarian getting wrapped up in intrigue and adventure. And then, I stopped. For whatever reason, it just felt like nothing I wrote was good enough.

A year or so later, I picked it up and tried once more. This time, it was Drake who refused to cooperate. Was he a spy? An assassin? A love interest? A messenger? Writing him felt incomplete as I couldn’t decide what his future in the book would be. So, I stopped. Again.

And then, after another almost two years, the story resurfaced in my stack of unfinished projects and I knew I wanted to give it breath and life and wings to fly into the world, your world, readers. I still loved my idea and I was ready to sit down and do the hard work of erasing and starting over fresh. No more picking up in the middle. It was hard. I hate erasing. Or backspacing, as the case may be. But I did it. And oh! I’m so glad that I did. Raegan and Drake and the League are even better than I ever imagined them (with lots of encouragement from my editor to embrace a little more fantasy for the first time). I hope that you enjoy spending time with Raegan and Drake and getting to know them as much as I did. It was so refreshing to finish this story, that I jumped right into writing the prequel; another something I never thought I would do….write books out of order lol, but I didn’t know it needed a prequel until the story ended and Raegan had some unanswered questions.

Thank you again for spending time with me today! Happy reading.

How long have you wanted to become an author / why did you become an author / is being an author your chosen career?

Forever. No, really. I started “making books” from cardboard and paper and ribbon as a little girl. My parents were always happy to read my scribbles. As a pre-teen, I even “self-published” a newsletter from our desktop computer and printer, charging my (married) parents separately to read about school or poems that I’d written and jokes from my little sister. I love words. The possibilities of words. The evasiveness of words. The magic that is making your words say something that brings a picture to life for you or others when those words are read.

Now, don’t get me wrong – some days my words are bogged down and written in a fog of exhaustion and they come out as low-bar as you can imagine. I have so much room for improvement, as do most people in most careers if they are honest, but I thoroughly enjoy writing for the creativity of it. I became an author when I looked up from my day job one day and remembered my dreams; those dreams as a girl and teenager of seeing a book with my name on it, they came rushing back as I sat angrily at my desk annoyed at some coworker or customer for yet another ridiculous request. I knew that I wanted to at least take a shot at doing something that brought me happiness instead of ulcers. Even if it meant that I failed. I haven’t failed yet because I’m still pursuing this passion of weaving words together and seeing them hit the page to create a story that nobody has ever heard before. Now, I’m not a best-seller or financially at peace with my author career at this point, but that is okay because my theory is that you have to start at the bottom of any corporate ladder and work your way up; I’m willing to do the work.

I hope that readers who find my books find friends in the characters, find adventure in the pages, and find something beautiful or unique in the scenes. If they do, I’m a success already.

What does your writing process look like?

I typically can only write when my little girl is at naptime so it is a quick and quiet time of putting as many words together as I can. I have on occasion used a Disney playlist as background music, but honestly, even before my baby girl was born, I have always preferred to write in silence. The tapping of keys on my laptop is all of the noise that I need. It is literally the sound of success, being productive and getting the story out. It encourages me to think and type quickly. In fact, I can’t write nearly as well or fast using dictation. When typing, the words (a lot of the time, yes I get stuck, too) simply flow out of my fingertips.

I do like to have a snack and either water, tea, or lemonade nearby when I’m writing as well. Typically, the snack takes the form of mini M&Ms, dark chocolate chips, or peanut butter protein balls.

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

*Prize #1:*

Book tote, bookmarks, One shamrock charm bracelet, & an ebook copy of The Lady & the Leprechaun (prequel to The Librarian’s Treasure)

*Prize #2:*

Bookmarks and an ebook of The Lady and the Leprechaun

*Prize #3:*

$10 Amazon gift card