Ashlea Thompson ~ Author Interview

Ashlea Thompson is an avid reader and a lover of Atlanta Braves Baseball and Crimson Tide Football.  She is also a member of the Alabama Writer’s Cooperative. “Steel Hearts” is her debut novella. 

Check out our interview on YouTube:

Check out HER book below!

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STEEL HEARTS by Ashlea Thompson

Lottie Mae Haywood is living her best life doing what she loves. Art. When she meets Jake Samford, she believes she has found the one to spend the rest of her life with. When he is not the man she thought, she returns home to Thomasville, AL. With a new love interest and things going well, her sister brings home Jake. Things take a turn, and Lottie has a decision to make. Will she make the right one?


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Meet Sci-fi and Fantasy Author Dan Rice…

Dan has wanted to write novels since first reading Frank Herbert’s Dune at the age of eleven. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he often goes hiking with his family through mist-shrouded forests and along alpine trails with expansive views.
Dragons Walk Among Us is his debut novel. He plans to keep writing fantasy and science-fiction for many years.

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How do you find the time to write?

Finding time to write can be challenging, especially when you’re a parent. I have two high-energy schoolboys who participate in all the activities of childhood. How do I find time to write? I follow a set routine and am always flexible.

I’m a big believer in the habit of writing every day. To accomplish this, on weekdays, I’m literally up before the crack of dawn, no later than 4:30 a.m. By five a.m., I’m doing something writing-related, often either pounding out a rough draft or editing a scene. My aim is to have about ninety minutes of uninterrupted writing time before my sons drag themselves out of bed to get ready for school. It also corresponds to when it’s time for me to prepare to hit the day job.

On the weekends, I don’t force myself out of bed at 4:30 in the morning, although sometimes I’m wide awake at that hour. Typically, I’ll still get up early and try to write until eight a.m. Then, after fixing breakfast for the family, I’m back at it until ten or eleven, depending on plans for the day and how restless the boys are. 

I’ve learned flexibility is vital if you want to keep your sanity. In On Writing,Stephen King points out that children and life in general often interrupt writing time. His solution is not to treat writing time as sacrosanct. Instead, work the time you write around everything else in your life. This is really great advice for all of us who have families and dreams of being future bestsellers.

What I do to be productive as a writer while having children might not work for everyone. That’s okay. Everyone’s situation is different. But having a set routine whenever possible and being flexible has served me well. I wrote my YA fantasy debut, Dragons Walk Among Us, by dragging myself up before everyone else in the household and not stressing out when the inevitable interruptions intruded on my writing time.

Do you think Writer’s Block exists?

I suppose it’s a subjective thing. If you think you suffer from it, you probably do. 

My critique group, the Puget Sound Writers’ Guild, had a resident writer, may he rest in peace, who staunchly did not believe in writer’s block. If you can’t come up with ideas and bring them to fruition, then you aren’t creative enough to cut it as a writer. He could be hard, but he was a best-selling author under several pen names, so who were we, his pupils, to contradict him.

Now, I won’t go so far as to say writer’s block simply does not exist. But I do think there are practices a writer can implement to overcome it. Personally, I’ve never suffered from writer’s block. For example, the characters and plot for Dragons Walk Among Us came easily to me. It probably helped that I’ve been thinking about some of the central fantasy elements of the story for years. Here’s my remedy, or put another way, how I avoid writer’s block.

I start small with a one-page concept that lays out the story from start to finish in broad strokes. This isn’t easy; it’s hard. It takes me numerous drafts to get the concept down to one page, but I think it’s worth it. From that, I create a scene-by-scene outline that I ultimately treat as a roadmap. It shows me how to get from the start line to the finish line, but I can always take detours and side trips along the way. I find the rough draft flows quite naturally from this roadmap.

If you suffer from writer’s block, start small. That strategy has always served me well.

Dragons Walk Among US is your debut novel. What can your readers expect to come next?

Dragons Walk Among Us is the first novel in The Allison Lee Chronicles. I can confirm that readers should expect more books featuring Allison Lee and her squad. Right now, I am planning four, maybe five, books to comprise the entire series.

Where do these books stand now? Well, I have the broad strokes outlined for the entire series. I’m currently writing the rough draft for the second installment. I’m about fifty percent through the draft. If everything goes to plan, I’ll have a complete manuscript ready to turn in to my publisher by December this year. The novel deals with similar themes of belonging and angst found in Dragons Walk Among Us, along with a few new topics readers will hopefully find engaging. Without giving too much away, portions of the second novel will take place in Southeast Asia. I’ve traveled the area extensively and hope my experiences will help me capture the essence of the region’s beauty and diverse cultures.

After book two, while I do have an outline, my plan is a bit more nebulous. That’s why I say the series might turn out to be five books as opposed to four. With any luck, these novels will come out steadily over the next several years. After completing The Allison Lee Chronicles, you can expect more action-packed sci-fi and fantasy tales with social commentary woven in that I think young adults will find very appealing.

Tell us about the protagonist in your novel Dragons Walk Among Us!

Allison Lee is the protagonist of my debut YA urban fantasy, Dragons Walk Among Us, and possesses a deep-seated need for belonging. In part, her yearning is no different than anyone else’s. She wants to be part of something greater than herself and be surrounded by people who accept her. These desires burn exceptionally bright in her because she has never known her mother, who she believes abandoned her at birth. Allison’s need for acceptance hits overdrive when she starts seeing or, perhaps, in reality, hallucinating dragons. When her best friends make it clear they believe she is delusional, their bonds of friendship begin to crack.

Allison is a passionate photographer with dreams of becoming a photojournalist. Her pictures of high school sporting events around Seattle are published weekly in her school’s online newspaper. She combines her love of photography with civic-mindedness, often documenting climate marches and social justice issues. When an unprovoked attack leaves her blind, Allison feels like her life has been flushed down the toilet and fears she will never photograph again.

I’m a big believer in the adage to write what you know. It allows me to inject verisimilitude into the story. For example, Allison is an avid photographer, often out and about with her camera in hand. Details on composition and exposure for different situations are sprinkled throughout the narrative. These details are accurate because I’m a shutterbug. I think these details are just enough to characterize Allison Lee, be interesting to readers, and add a sense of realism to a story that is, after all, a fantasy.

Would you like a chance to win a $35 Amazon gift card? 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.

I am happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about author Dan Rice. If you want to check out his debut novel Dragons Walk Among Us, click HERE!

Meet Author Samantha Wilde

Samantha Wilde resides in Saskatchewan, Canada, with her husband and two small daughters. Teddy, the family multi-poo, completes her family. Samantha writes steamy, fast-paced, romantic suspense novels in the rare moments she has uninterrupted—even interrupted, she manages to apply words to paper. Aside from her love of writing, her other interests include cooking vegan meals, fantasizing about working out, and eating far too much chocolate.

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

Becoming an author was a very organic experience for me. I started reading at a young age and was always writing short stories as a child. For me, writing was just part of who I was. It wasn’t until my late teenage years that I actually thought I could make a career out of writing. All of those old, unfinished and messy manuscripts were the stepping stones to my goal.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

Ha! I’m sure my husband would answer this better than me. I’m a very, very routine person. So much that I will get out of a warm bed to floss my teeth if I forgot.

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

My husband and I were almost in a plane crash eight years ago. We were flying home from Montego Bay and there was a bit of a storm. We were about forty-five minutes away from Jamaica, right over the ocean and we hit an air pocket. The only way I can describe it was like hitting a speed bump at three hundred miles an hour.

I had my seatbelt off because I was waiting to use the restroom. The plane dropped (for what seemed like forever). Everything went flying including a flight attendant. Because my seat belt was off I flew out of my seat. My husband grabbed me and pinned me down to keep me anchored. To this day, I don’t know how that airplane regained itself and we didn’t crash. We had four hours left of our flight, and I cried most of the way, lol.

I still feel bad for whoever was in the restroom!

What are some of your pet peeves?

A messy house, haha. Which is really unfortunate since I have two small kids and a puppy—to say I’m annoyed half the time is an understatement.

Where were you born/grew up at?

I’ve lived many places in Canada. I was born in Chatham, Ontario, but moved to Vernon, B.C. when I was two. I lived there for about five years, Airdrie, Alberta for a year or so and back to Ontario. I lived there for a good thirteen years and I’ve been in Saskatchewan for the twelve years. Now, my family and I are planning another move—am I the only one who gets the itch to be somewhere new? We’ve loved our time in Saskatchewan, but western areas are calling and I desperately want to be closer to the mountains.

What are you passionate about these days?

Health, but I don’t think that’s anything new, lol! I love teaching my kids about food and right now I’m starting to get more and more into fermented foods. I make sourdough bread, which isn’t as hard as it sounds. I feel better feeding my family less store-bought food and if I can make bread at home, why not?

I’m also finding a new passion in homeschooling my children. Before my oldest daughter was born, I always thought I would homeschool. But she’s a very outgoing child—extrovert would be a better term—and I quickly learned that she needed a school environment. She’s only been in school for half-days, but this year she’ll be entering grade one and my youngest will be in pre-k. And to be honest, I enjoy having them home, even if I get less work done. It’s very rewarding teaching them at home and although we have our struggles, it’s been a positive experience for all of us.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Eat far too much chocolate and watch Netflix, haha. But I also love yoga, working out, and trying to calm my mind enough to meditate.

How to find time to write as a parent?

Time is something I struggle with! As I’m sure every author and parent does. My children are still young, not quite six and three-years-old so they’re very much in need of my attention. Especially my three-year-old who is our wild child that you can’t turn your back on. We’re also homeschooling, so that’s been fun, ha! Routine and consistency are key. I usually get an hour of work in the afternoon while the kids relax and I save the rest of my work for when they’re in bed, or when my husband takes them out on daddy-days.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Healthy-food, chocolate eating, momma mess.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I finished my first novel, Abducted.

Do you have a favorite movie?

I can’t think of a favorite movie off the top of my head, but I’m a little obsessed with Vikings and The Last Kingdom.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

All of them, actually!

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.

What inspired you to write Bound?

The first spark of inspiration for bound was a secret society/brotherhood. The second, almost instant inspiration was my father’s childhood. He and his six siblings were abandoned at a young age, and I really felt the need to share a tiny part of his story. 

What can we expect from you in the future?

Right now, I’m working on a novella series. If you know me personally, you know I’m obsessed with the mountains. I lived in British Columbia as a child and it’s my favorite place in the world. Naturally, I felt compelled to write a series around a small mountain town. I also have Dallas and Cole’s (Nash’s siblings from the Blood Brothers series) stories to tell! Which I’m hoping to complete that series next year. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Bound?

Nash Holmes is dark and dangerous. He’s a bit over confident, which cripples him when he comes face-to-face with Lexi. This super strong heroine drop-kicks Nash out of his comfort zone and it’s entertaining to watch unfold. Nash struggles because he’s used to holding the upper hand, but Lexi is way ahead of him on that count. Lexi has her own sufferings though. She’s hell-bent on destruction and is surprised when the man she should despise actually softens her.

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

The idea of a secret society was always fascinating to me. Once I started researching, Nash’s character came to mind. A man who’s loyal to the organization, but has his own line of morale that he won’t cross.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I loved the instant fire between Nash and Lexi. Not just the sexual tension that starts on page one, but the depths of each of their internal wounds.

Who designed your book covers?

Covers by Combs and she did a phenomenal job!

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

No! Lol. I don’t like the idea of having any regrets. Once I write a book, I don’t read it outside of editing, because there would be something I would want to change that would drive me nuts.

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

Oh, fun question! I could see Olivia Wilde playing Lexi. The male lead is a tough because I have a mega crush on Chris Hemsworth, and although he doesn’t look anything like Nash I’d maybe pick him in hopes of meeting him, lol.

How did you come up with name of this book?

Nash, the male lead, was adopted by the grand chancellor of Lionsgate Kinship. As a teenager he’s felt somewhat indebted and forever bound to the brotherhood. Bound relates to his internal and external struggles with his upbringing and life choices.

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

Without giving anything away, there’s a particular memory in Bound that Nash shares with Lexi. It was emotional for me to write as it’s a memory my dad had of his mom. Adding that to Nash’s character was very meaningful to me and I think that’s why it’s my favorite.

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

I’d say the characters hijack the story. I had a rough idea of the conflicts, but wrote this book without really knowing what the next chapter would hold. It was really just a matter of letting the characters react naturally and seeing where that took the book.

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

Bound has a little bit of everything. It has the suspense that will keep the pages turning, parts that will tug your heart strings, a dash of humor, and of course, a whole lot of steam! Bound is the full package and you won’t want to miss these characters duke it out.

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

Vanilla and sandalwood.

Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?’-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.

My husband, Jesse, is the type of person who knows something about everything. He’s fascinated with so many topics and which makes for some fun conversations between us. One being secret societies! The idea of a secret brotherhood was so fascinating to me that I had to run with it.

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

Lori Foster, Karen Robards, Lisa Jackson, Melinda Leigh, Megan March, Linda Howard, Sidney Sheldon.

How long have you been writing?

For as long as I can remember!

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

Very little, lol. I jump in and write, then research as I go.

Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely. There’s nothing else in the world for me except being a mom!

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

My favorite genre is romantic suspense (shocker). But I also love dark romance and paranormal romance. As long as there’s a love story and some heart-pounding moments, I’m in!

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

Silence because my head is just too loud, haha.

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

This might be a quirky quality, but I’m completely strict about finishing what I start. Not just with writing, but life in general. So I won’t start—or even read—another book while I’m in the process of creating.

Pen or type writer or computer?

Computer! My wrist would cramp in ten minutes if I wrote by pen, and my hand wouldn’t be able to keep up with the words.

What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?

My love for romantic suspense made me want to become an author. I hated waiting for my favorite authors to release books, so I decided to write exactly what I love to read. I’ve always known in my heart that writing is my path in this life. I don’t doubt for a second that it’s the right decision. Even if everyone hated my books, I’d still write them! Haha.

A day in the life of the author?

My six-year-old is up with the sun every day, but thankfully she’s an independent girl and will make herself breakfast and watch TV while I sleep in a bit. I workout at 6:30 and usually have time to shower before my three-year-old wakes up at 7:30 and chaos begins.

I make a quick and nutritious breakfast, either sourdough raisin bread or plain yogurt and berries—sometimes we make smoothies or fresh juices if the kids are feeling it. I try to do homeschooling first thing in the morning. My just-turned six-year-old is a fantastic reader (surprise, surprise!) and this helps a lot because she can read her math and French lessons with little help. During this time, I occupy my three-year-old with tracing or sensory activities. Then the kids play while I do the one thing that consumes the majority of my day—clean!

We hit up the park late morning, come home for lunch, and then the kids watch a movie in the afternoon while I squeeze in a bit of work. I often use this time to edit my critique partner’s chapters or do other non-writing tasks that I don’t have the stamina for in the evenings. When the movie is done, we take our puppy Ragnar for a walk, or go for a quick bike ride. The kids then play in the backyard while I make supper. I’m a stickler for bedtime, so we get ready for bed right when they finish eating and lights are out before 7:00 p.m. Routine is especially important for us because my husband travels for work, so it’s just the kids and I for part of the month! Once the kids are down, I focus on writing.

Advice they would give new authors?

No one has “time” nowadays. All we can do is make time. I find getting enough rest, working out, and being active with the kids, actually allows me to be more productive with writing. I’ve also learned that it’s not about how much “time” we have, but what we do with that time. For example, I could have my kids with grandma all day, and I might only write 500 words. But when I’m focused, and have nothing else on my plate and don’t allow for distractions, I can do that in ten minutes. Work with what you have and don’t be afraid to remove things/people that don’t serve you.

Describe your writing style.

Freestyle? Pantser? Definitely not organized plotting and planning, but as long as I have the characters firmly in mind, it works out great.

What makes a good story?

For me, a good romantic suspense keeps me on the edge of your seat. I love books that I get sucked into and can’t put down. The romance is where it’s at! I want my characters to love each other despite their circumstances and to fight for what they want—all the while trying to stay alive, haha!

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

I don’t do an outline, but I often wrap my head around the initial concept and then just start writing. Sometimes I don’t even do that and I just start the book off where the first spark of inspiration hit and see where it goes!

What is your writing Kryptonite?

My kitchen. I love to cook and am always making fresh sourdough bread, homemade applesauce and other dishes for my family. It’s easy to lose many hours a day in the kitchen.

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

I always strive to write something original, but I also feel like I don’t have much say in what happens. My imagination takes the book where it’s destined to go and the characters dictate that direction.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I love writing male characters! I don’t know why, but it comes easy to me. Maybe because the male energy I write is brash and I don’t need to overthink it, haha.

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

If I’m extremely focused, I can write a full-length novel in 8-10 weeks.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I don’t necessarily think of it as a block. But I have periods of the month where I slump and other periods where I’m highly productive. I keep meaning to see if astrology patterns have much to do with this or if it’s just the way I am, lol. But I’ve never been consistently blocked. I sense when my mind needs a break, which means I switch my focus to editing and other productive elements, and then the driving need to be creative returns.

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Meet Author Cristy Bowlin

Cristy L. Bowlin grew up in Ventura County, CA where she spent most of her free time ballet dancing and reading fantasy books. She got her BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in dance from the California Polytechnic State University. She then received her MA in English with a minor in gender and women’s studies from the University of Kentucky. She currently lives with her husband, daughter, and cat in Southern California where she is a college English professor. Her debut YA fantasy novel The Temple Dancer’s Diary was published in July 2019, and her next book Hybrid Magic was just  published in the summer of 2021.

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

I have always loved reading. I started reading Harry Potter in second grade and was instantly hooked. I would read any fantasy book I could get my hands on, and before long I was writing my own short stories in various notebooks that I had collected. When I went to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I majored in English with an emphasis on creative writing. While I was there, I realized that I also had a passion for teaching, so my creative writing took a backseat for a couple years while I got my Master’s degree in English at the University of Kentucky. Then once I returned to California and started teaching community college English classes, I started working on my first novel. It took me four years to write and edit The Temple Dancer’s Diary before it was ready for publication. After that I couldn’t get the characters out of my head and wanted to keep writing about the fantasy world I had crafted, which led to my spinoff series. After writing a standalone novel, I’m excited to be writing a trilogy starting with Hybrid Magic

What is something unique/quirky about you?

When I wasn’t reading or writing as a kid, I was dancing and singing. I was a quiet kid, but I loved performing on stage. It really brought me out of my shell and gave me more confidence. I started off with chorus and ballet classes. Then I eventually branched out to lots of other styles, including tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, and musical theatre. I did ballet for twenty years and used it as one of my inspirations for The Temple Dancer’s Diary. Even though I started tap dancing a lot later, that actually became my favorite dance style. I performed tap solos competitively in high school, and I choreographed a couple tap dances in college. I still take tap classes with my best friend to this day, but currently we are doing them on Zoom!

Where were you born/grew up at?

I grew up in Ventura County, California. I felt so lucky to live near the beach and spent much of my summers swimming or reading by the pool. I definitely am not good with cold weather. I lived in Kentucky for two years while I was in graduate school, and that was more than enough cold weather for me. I’m happy to visit, but I will forever be a Southern California girl.

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

If it was my last day, I would spend it with my family. It wouldn’t really matter what we were doing as long as I could be with them.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I like to curl up on the couch with my husband to watch a movie or TV show together. Usually, our cat Percy will also join us for some cuddles. He’s a real snuggle bug, especially if we have a fuzzy blanket.

How to find time to write as a parent?

I’m still a new parent, so it’s definitely a learning curve! I am fortunate enough to have my parents living close by, so they can take care of my daughter when I need to get important work done, whether it’s related to teaching or writing. Otherwise, I try to write while my daughter naps or after she goes to bed at night. I’m a night owl anyways, and I usually get my best ideas late at night.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first truly considered myself a writer when I began sharing my writing with other people. Having critique partners is such an important part of the writing process. Over time it has gotten easier to take constructive criticism, and now I actually enjoy revising and editing my work to make it stronger.

Do you have a favorite movie?

I love The Hunger Games. The books are great, but I actually might like the movies even more. I rewatch them a couple times a year. I also love the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy and the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

I could imagine The Temple Dancer’s Diary being made into a movie. I think it would be neat to have a fantasy movie that contains dance performances.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

After I graduated from college, I took a trip to Europe with some friends. I started in England where I watched Macbeth at the Globe Theatre and went to a pub frequented by John Keats. Keats supposedly wrote “Ode to a Nightingale” there. Then I went to Greece and saw the Theatre of Dionysus. After that I traveled around Italy and France. In Italy, I got to see Dante Alighieri’s house.

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

It’s always hard to pick favorite books, so I’ll share some of my favorite authors. For all of these authors, I’ve read several of their books. My top 10 are Tamora Pierce, Suzanne Collins, Julie Kagawa, Marissa Meyer, J. K. Rowling, Anna Godbersen, Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Jane Austen, and the Bronte sisters.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing short stories and poems in my journals ever since I was a kid, but I started working on full-length novels six years ago.

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

Some of my characters come to me as I write. I have a plan for when I want to introduce new characters and what general role they need to fit into, but I don’t have a firm grasp of what those characters will be like. When I wrote The Temple Dancer’s Diary, I wasn’t really sure who I wanted the main antagonist to be until I was about halfway through my first draft.

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

I didn’t do a whole lot of research before I started writing my first book since I incorporated some personal interests that I was already familiar with, but I did spend a lot of time on my worldbuilding. I referred back to several fantasy maps from my favorite stories that I had read to help me plan the physical setting. Then I considered how I wanted the magic system, politics, and religion of my world to be set up. I also created a timeline of key historical events and a list of important people, even though many of them would just be background characters mentioned in passing. Once I actually start writing, I do my research along the way. Most of my research for my first book was about architecture, medicine, and clothing that would be worn during the Regency Era. For my current book Hybrid Magic, I did some research into botany and various social dances, like the quadrille.

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

Fantasy is my favorite genre to both read and write, but I still enjoy reading a variety of genres. I read literary classics, science fiction, dystopian fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, and some romance. I’ll even read horror as long as it’s by Stephen King.

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

I usually prefer to write in silence. I find it easier to think and be creative when I’m in a quiet environment. Once I get to the editing stage, I will sometimes listen to instrumental music.

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

I only write one book at a time because it helps me keep track of all of the details and become fully immersed in the story. As for reading, I usually read three or four books at once. I don’t have trouble switching back and forth between other people’s storylines.

Pen or type writer or computer?

For the early brainstorming and outlining, I like writing with a pen in one of my journals. I have different journals stashed in various rooms around the house. The one I keep by my bed gets filled with the most notes because I usually come up with the most ideas at night, sometimes even while I’m falling asleep. Once I’m done outlining and actually start drafting a book, I will type it up on the computer.

Tell us about a favorite character from a book.

I always love strong, intelligent female characters who unabashedly pursue what they want. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books and Alanna of Trebond from The Song of the Lioness Series were two of my favorite characters when I was growing up. I considered them to be role models of the type of young woman I wanted to be.

Advice they would give new authors?

My main advice is something my own creative writing professor told me: write what you know. I remember feeling frustrated when he first said that. I was trying to write a supernatural thriller about a married woman who was estranged from her husband and had a missing daughter. I really wanted to tell that story, but I was in over my head at twenty years old with limited writing experience. I took another class with the same teacher the next semester and wrote a handful of short stories based on personal experiences. This allowed me to start honing my craft in an authentic way, and eventually with more life experience and more exposure to other people’s stories, I was able to branch out to many more topics.

What are they currently reading?

I’m finishing up the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco, and then I plan to read the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.

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

I start with a rough handwritten outline. Usually I have more details in mind for the earlier chapters and leave the later chapters more open-ended so that I can let the story evolve as I write. Then I start drafting the chapters in order chronologically. My goal when drafting is to write about 5,000 words per week. Finally, the revision process takes the most time. I have several different people read my drafts, and I continuously make changes until the manuscript finally feels ready for copyediting.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think the most common trap is procrastination. Many people think of procrastination as putting something off by watching TV or going out with friends, but more often than not writers procrastinate by finding other ways to be productive. It could be cleaning your house, going to the gym, walking your dog, or running errands. Doing these types of things gets in the way of your ability to be creative and makes you feel like you never have time to write. If you want to be a writer, the best thing you can do is set aside a little bit of time to write every day, even if it is only ten minutes. It’s important to build a habit to make writing part of your everyday life.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I would tell my younger writing self not to be afraid to show other people my work. I should have realized earlier on that the people who really cared about me would be supportive and wanted to help me improve. I also could have benefited from more constructive criticism earlier on. It took me a long time to get over the knee-jerk reaction of feeling upset and defensive when I received writing critiques.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I do believe in writer’s block. As a teacher, I see it happen all the time with my students. When I experience writer’s block myself, I try to follow the same advice I give to my students. I give myself a short break by doing some exercise or taking a shower, and then I come back to the computer. Even if I still feel blocked, I force myself to do some freewriting for ten to fifteen minutes. I know that it won’t be the best, but at least I will have something to work with at that point.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Hybrid Magic is the start of a trilogy, so you can expect to see the rest of the books coming out over the next couple years! After that, I might venture into a different genre. Fantasy is my favorite, but I would love to try writing some sci-fi or dystopian stories too.

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.

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

Hybrid Magic is a spinoff that takes place ten years after the storyline of my first standalone novel, The Temple Dancer’s Diary. Some characters with smaller roles in The Temple Dancer’s Diary are now getting their chance in the spotlight with a story of their own.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Hybrid Magic?

This book is told from three different character perspectives, so I’ll share a bit about each of them.

First, Aaron Ztrong is a fourteen-year-old hybrid mage who became famous when he was younger for defeating another powerful mage. His magic abilities include healing, transforming objects, and making things levitate and fly through the air. His parents see so much potential in him, but he would rather spend his time with his friends and enjoy relaxing hobbies like fishing. He is a prankster who will do anything to get out of his lessons until his life is threatened by a group known as the Defenders who hunt down hybrid mages.

Second, Elara Pratt is a sixteen-year-old hybrid mage who grew up in a small farming village with her three younger siblings. Her magic involves helping plants flourish and grow in any environment. She can even transform into a dryad-like creature herself. After leaving her family behind to learn more about her abilities, she moves to a forest haven that was established to train and protect hybrid mages from the ruthless Defenders. Elara is optimistic, caring, and always eager to make a new friend. But no one is allowed to mess with her garden or any of her plant babies!

Finally, Theo Darien is a seventeen-year-old hybrid mage who grew up idolizing his father, a celebrated constable. Theo dreamed of having combat magic like his dad so that he too could take down criminals. He was initially excited upon discovering his unique abilities to transform any object into a weapon. Then his older half brother joined the Defenders and attempted to kill him because of those abilities. After running away from home, Theo was taken in by a teacher who promised to train and protect him. Theo is quiet and studious, yet also racked with guilt over his final confrontation with his brother. Now he is determined not to hurt anyone with his magic and will only use his powers for good.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

After writing my first book from a single perspective in first-person diary entries, I enjoyed writing this book in third-person point of view with multiple different character perspectives.

Who designed your book covers?

My best friend Naomi Henry designed both of my book covers. She is an amazing artist, and I was overjoyed that she wanted to work with me.

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

There are some personality traits each of my characters have that I based off of real people, but for the most part they came from my imagination.

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

My characters do hijack the story from time to time! I always create an outline before I start writing with major plot points that I want to include in each chapter, so I try to stick to that outline pretty closely for the plot and pacing. The characters develop more organically though. I start out with a few key personality traits in mind for each character, and then I see how they interact with one another. Sometimes their interactions and dialogue will surprise me by taking my story in cool new directions.

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

My book would have an autumn candle to match the cover art. It would be a burnt orange color with a woodsy scent containing a mixture of apple, pumpkin spice, and cloves.

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

I would love to get writing advice from Tamora Pierce. Her young adult fantasy books set in the Tortall Universe were my favorites growing up. The characters were nuanced, and the stories were so empowering for teenaged girls.

Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?’-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.

I wrote the whole first draft of Hybrid Magic while I was pregnant with my daughter. I like to think that she was my muse, sparking inspiration whenever I experienced writer’s block.


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Meet Author A.K. Smith #giveaway

Full of wanderlust and a professional sunset watcher, A.K. Smith writes twisty suspense books that will keep you up late. Her debut novel, A Deep Thing was awarded the Readers Favorite Gold Medal. A freelance travel writer (under another name), she loves to experience the world, and discover new settings to feature in her latest novels and articles. If she’s not on the water or in the water, she is looking at the water. She spends her days working remotely online in either Mexico on the Sea of Cortez, or in the desert or forests of Arizona. Beautiful settings provide thousands of story ideas that she can’t wait to get down on paper. She is convinced, her best life is with a beach, a blanket, and a book.  Her big loves are her husband, family, friends, and kindness. Her goal is to step foot on every continent on Planet Earth (maybe even the moon) –she’s slowly getting there.

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


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

I’m a freelance travel writer and have written travel books, and travel articles for the last fifteen years. My favorite books to read are full of twisty suspense, and if they have a beach, an island, or an ocean in the setting, I’m in. I guess you write what you love to read, and both of my published books have settings by the ocean, intertwined with unique places to visit. My debut novel, A Deep Thing, was traditionally published by a small press less than five years ago. My new release, Pseudocide, is independently published by my publishing company, Books with Soul® Press. Books With Soul has published over 400 gift books, including children’s books, travel books and inspirational journals.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

 I work remotely from the beautiful Sea of Cortez in Mexico and the desert of Arizona. For my first book, A Deep Thing, I dove the beautiful cenotes of the Yucatan, so I could accurately write about them in my novel. My husband and I took 99 vacations in three years, and I wrote a book about how it is possible on a working budget.

Where were you born/grew up at?

I grew up in a small Western Pennsylvania town outside of Pittsburgh. Although, I have lived in over ten states and two countries.

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

Wow, that’s a tough question to answer, unless I could be like the main character in my book, Pseudocide and just fake my death and start all over again.

What are you passionate about these days?

Kindness, traveling, and sunsets. If I’m not on the water, in the water, or walking on the beach, I’m probably looking at the water. Now that traveling is back, I am passionate about my quest to step foot on every continent and explore this planet. I’m slowly getting there.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I love to stream twisty series or movies especially if they have an island or beach in them. I think there should be more series and movies with boats, oceans and unique destinations. That goes for books as well.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Beach lover writer who loves kindness…whoops that’s six.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

I can imagine my first novel, A Deep Thing, would make a great twisty adventure thriller, complete with islands, diving, and a college campus with a secret tunnel underneath. My second novel Pseudocide, I imagine as a young adult series, with gorgeous bay settings, thick green woods, and the shiny lights of Las Vegas.

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

To me that is harder than stating my favorite movie. I love books that take me on a journey and surprise me.

I’m a fan of Karen M. McManus, One of is Lying and Lauren Oliver’s, Panic. I love books that put females in the center of every story.

The Handmaids Tale, by Margaret Atwood is right up there with The Help and I loved Janet Fitch’s book, White Oleander, and the classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve read every Nicholas Sparks book and loved every minute of The Firm and A Time to Kill, by John Grisham

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins and Wool series by Hugh Howey and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens are some recent favorites. I also love Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Selections that focus on women authors and female protagonists.

What book do you think everyone should read?

Well, A Deep Thing or Pseudocide by A.K. Smith would be great to be on everyone’s list, if a writer doesn’t believe their book should be on everyone’s list, no one else will.

How long have you been writing?

I have journaled and created stories since I was a kid. But, in the last ten years, I made it a priority. Making it a priority and acting on it made it happen.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write? I try to create character sketches of my main characters before I write, but as the story develops, some characters creep in and I have to include them.

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

I am a researcher. In fact, the more I research the more ideas flow. It’s gathering the research together that develops my story. I read books, watch movies, and google everything!

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes, it is what I love to do, and I hope I can do it the rest of my life as a successful career.

What do you think about the current publishing market?

What I think, is there are so many great books out there, that is often difficult to get your book to stand out.But, if you can find enough fans, and you have a great story something good can happen.

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

Yes, I love to read, and I will read most fiction genres where I can learn something or go somewhere or that opens my mind to. My go to genre is twisty suspense– especially if it has a beach, an island, or an ocean as it’s setting. I also love magical realism and a twist of sci-fi. I love adventure stories with heart, that introduce me to somewhere new.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise?

I love the focus playlist on Spotify. However, sometimes I like to make a playlist for each book.

Why? My books playlist is something I share with my characters, my readers and they help set the mood or setting of the book. They also bring back great memories.

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

Oh, I have several going at a time and then pick one to focus and finish.

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

I read The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks for the first time when I was young, and it was such a great story, that I wished I would have written it. But, I also remember my first Dean Koontz novel, Whispers which made me so tense, that I wondered how I could make someone feel those emotions from words on paper.

Pen or type writer or computer?

Wow, Computer all the way, I can’t imagine pen, I wouldn’t be able to read my own handwriting.

A day in the life of the author?

Writing is a very solitary job. Mix it up, set a schedule to write then get up and move around and then stick to your writing schedule.

Advice they would give new authors?

 Don’t give up, keep writing

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

I have tried both outlining and writing with a general idea of plot. I think a rough outline works best for me, however outlines morph into their own path as I write. I believe every new writer should try out both methods, to see what works for them.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think giving up is a common trap. My advice is to go somewhere quiet, set a 30-minute alarm on your phone and just write. If it’s going well, do another 30 minutes, schedule this in every day and by the end of 6 months you will probably have a rough draft. A common mistake is thinking once you have the rough draft your novel is done. Oh, it’s only just begun, but at least you have something to work with. Don’t give up and don’t let others bring you down. Also, you must work with a good editor.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Wow, if I could time travel, I would tell my young self to start writing a book in high school. Would I listen? Hopefully. Imagine how many books I could have written if I only started when I was younger!

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

 If I could write fulltime, I could finish a novel in 3-6 months, but unfortunately life and other priorities get in the way. My two completed books have taken several years. My other suggestion, is to try to keep writing even when you are working on the finished rough draft, spend a little time on the next one, even if it’s just doing the research for an hour a day.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Absolutely does not exist in my mind, not having enough time to write is my only block.

What inspired you to write Pseudocide

There are numerous stories in history of men and women faking their death and starting over again. As technology progresses, and humans create more and more digital footprints, it will become difficult to accomplish this. We are tracked by our digital footprints.

Because of technology, and for the integrity of the story, my main character had to be young. Digital footprints of an adult are much harder to erase. The first few drafts were written before the pandemic, and as the pandemic of 2020 exploded, I tried to rewrite the manuscript and set it during pandemic times. It didn’t work. In the year of the pandemic, we are all more connected by technology than ever before, even children with online learning. So, the novel starts right before the pandemic.

As I googled ‘how to fake your death’, ‘gun violence” and ‘radical and domestic terrorism’ theories, I was concerned what my digital footprint must look like! My wish is to take my readers on a journey from Sunday’s point of view. I hope this book makes you feel. There are strong social issues such as bullying, racism, sexual assault, domestic abuse, and gun violence, which unfortunately are all too real in today’s world. For anyone who has experienced any of those issues, please know you are not alone. Talk to someone. There are resources in the back of the book to help anyone who needs to talk.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m working on a twisty suspense novel, set on a true to life island in the middle of the sea, with a medical school. I will be visiting that island for background and research.

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

The definition of Pseudocide is “faking one’s death”. Thoughts of writing Pseudocide began in 2015. I read an article about a man who faked his death, and then got caught. I reasoned, if I were ever going to fake my own death, I would never get caught. Why would one want to fake their death? Typically to start over, to escape something terrible.

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

I used interesting names I like; I always thought the name Sunday was a great name. Sometimes, I use friends or family members names (with their permission) and give that character a trait or two of that person and then mix it in with something completely off-the-wall.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

 I enjoyed creating the twists. I constantly asked myself, now what else can go wrong?

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

Sunday the protagonist is a good person in a bad situation. Regardless of what terrible circumstances life is throwing at her, she has a drive to succeed and change her destiny. Unfortunately, bad things happen to good people, but it’s what you do after, that counts.

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

 My first book, A Deep Thing was easy. The setting is almost like a character. Cenotes are beautiful luminescent deep underground caves; plus, there’s a deeper message to this thriller. It really is–a deep thing.

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

A young Miley Cyrus type actress would be perfect.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

Pseudocide deals with strong social issues teens and adults face every day. I think part of the solution of getting past these issues is understanding and knowing they are out there, not censoring them.

How did you come up with name of this book?

 I was fascinated with the word Pseudocide. I want readers to have to think about the word and what it means. Most people do not know what the definition is. I thought about calling the book, Playing Dead or You’re not really dead, are you? But I pictured the cover and just couldn’t change it.

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

 I love the ending, but I can’t tell you why or I would be spoiling the conclusion.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be?

Oh, I would like to spend a day with Hudson. I printed out a picture of him from the internet that captured Hudson, he was sitting in front of me when I wrote his chapters.

 And what would you do during that day? Well, if you read the book, you would understand, I would like to go on “Hudson’s Ten Buck Tour” in Las Vegas.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? My imagination, mixed in with a little reality. I worked at an Alice Paul House Crisis Center in graduate school in Indiana, Pa. Unfortunately, I witnessed abuse and sad stories. But, I also witnessed strong teens and women that become survivors with a story to tell, and a strong ladder to climb. Teens, women, and any person that has been a victim of abuse need to know they are not alone. They are survivors, their story might just help someone else out.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story? My characters definitely jumped off the page, right before my very eyes and there was a little bit of hijacking going on. One character who wasn’t supposed to be the good guy initially, talked me out of making him the bad guy.

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

I think teen social issues should be addressed at home and in school. Discussion of issues is healthy and helpful. If Sunday’s story makes the reader feel, or learn one small thing about understanding troublesome situations, then this is a must read. If the readers are surprised at the outcome, then perhaps they opened their mind to the what if’s.

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

Well, my character Sunday could answer that question in a heartbeat, as she has an extraordinary sense of smell. A mix of woods and sea with cinnamon and dryer sheets.

Is there a writer which brain you would love to pick for advice?

Oh, I would go straight to the top and pick J.K. Rowling’s mind. What a fascinating mind to pick.

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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.


Anna Stewart ~ Author Interview

USA Today and national bestselling author Anna J Stewart writes sweet to spicy romances for Harlequin and ARC Manor’s Caezik Romance. Her sweet Heartwarming books include the Butterfly Harbor series as well as the ongoing Blackwell continuity series. She is also the author of the Honor Bound series for Harlequin Romantic Suspense and contributes to the bestselling continuity series, the Coltons. Her second Butterfly Harbor romance, RECIPE FOR REDEMPTION, was optioned as a TV movie and aired as CHRISTMAS RECIPE FOR ROMANCE in 2019 on UpTV.

Check out our interview on YouTube:

Check out BRIDE ON THE RUN below!

(Click on the cover image to order your copy)

(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.)

BRIDE ON THE RUN

Finding true love…
In the unlikeliest places!

Sienna Fairchild never imagined she’d be a runaway bride. Or that she’d stow away on a worn-down boat belonging to handsome tour operator Monty Bettencourt. Monty’s used to navigating rough seas, but Sienna might overturn his whole life, and avoiding drama is tough in such close quarters! If Sienna’s sure she doesn’t know what she wants, then why does running away feel so much like coming home?


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Meet Author K.J. Gillenwater

K. J. Gillenwater has a B.A. in English and Spanish from Valparaiso University and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from University of California, Santa Barbara. She worked as a Russian linguist in the U.S. Navy, spending time at the National Security Agency doing secret things. After six years of service, she ended up as a technical writer in the software industry.

She has lived all over the U.S. and currently resides in Wyoming with her family where she runs her own business writing government proposals and squeezes in fiction writing when she can.

In the winter she likes to ski and snowshoe; in the summer she likes to garden with her husband, take walks with her dogs, and take trips into the Big Horn Mountains nearby. She has written multiple books, including several short story collections.

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


What is something unique/quirky about you?

I am multi-lingual. I studied Spanish all through high school, made it one of my majors in college, I studied abroad in Mexico my sophomore year and then got a master’s degree in Latin American Studies. Then, I joined the Navy and went to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California where they taught me Russian.

Then, I got an assignment to the National Security Agency at Fort Meade in Maryland where I held a top-secret security clearance and did things of which I cannot speak!

It sounds more exciting than it actually was…as some of my fellow sailors ended up on submarines or on recon flights picking up signals and translating, while I was just sitting behind a desk in a room with no windows for three years. LOL.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for almost 20 years now. Since my children were very little. I’ve always wanted to be an author, but didn’t think I had a full-length book in me. When NaNoWriMo was barely anything, I read about it in the newspaper of all things, and I thought I’d give it a try. I had never written a full book, only short stories, and wanted to give it a go. I had no plot in mind, I just sat down at my computer and made myself write whatever I wanted to.

I ended up with almost 40,000 crappy words written that November, which turned into a book I finished. But it will stay on my hard drive never to see the light of day. Really, that’s the best place for it. Trust me!

From there, I followed my muse and eventually ended up with a publishing contract with Samhain Publishing for my paranormal suspense book, The Ninth Curse.

I took a break from writing for about eight years after a divorce to focus on my children as a single mother. But dove back into writing a few years ago with a passion and haven’t looked back since.

Describe your writing style.

I have been told my many an editor that I have ‘choppy’ style. I am not the kind of writer who writes long, gorgeous descriptive sentences. I think that is because I love writing action and suspense. And things happen quickly in those genres, so you don’t want to slow down the action with lots of words.

Editors will usually combine my sentences into one connected piece, which I typically accept. But this is how the story comes out of my head and onto paper, so it can feel a bit strange to smooth things out for the reader.

If I can keep a bit of the choppy, I will do it! LOL.

I also have a great fear of writing something ‘corny.’ Not sure how people decide if something is corny or not. I want realistic dialogue and realistic thinking and decision-making. Maybe I’m not successful to some readers, but I want them to know it is important to me to be as real as I can when I’m writing my scenes and characters.

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.

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

Oh, what author doesn’t fantasize about her book being picked up for film?

When I started writing Illegal I wanted it to be like a romance version of The Bourne Identity. Selena is a quick thinker who has some guts, and she takes this embassy worker on race across Mexico to get away from bad guys who come after her for a reason unknown to her. So a very similar feel to The Bourne Identity when Jason wakes up with no memory of who he is and must figure things out alone and on the run.

For the heroine, I’d love to see someone like Lindsay Morgan, Raven from The 100, play Selena. She can play tough, smart and sexy all at the same time. And for the hero? Well, in my mind he looked just like Jensen Ackles from the early days of Supernatural, but I suppose he’s getting too old to play Wyatt. Guess I’m showing my age with my casting! LOL. So, I guess Connor Jessup, Tyler in Locke & Key on Netflix, would be a better age match and has a similar look to me.

But seriously, I wouldn’t be picky. I’d be over the moon if Hollywood came knocking and wanted to take my book and film-ify it!

What is your favorite part of your book Illegal and why?

My favorite part of Illegal is when the two of them, Selena and Wyatt, become separated (I won’t give away how or why). That’s when the action and danger really picks up. I so much enjoy writing scenes with a lot of tension and drama. So once I build up the background of the story and introduce these characters, to put them in a horrible situation and just let ‘em go is so much fun for me as an author.

Also, at that point in the book, a lot of secrets are revealed and questions are answered. Everything comes together in a big explosive WOW ending…I want my readers to love that part as much as I do.

What inspired you to write your book Illegal?

A news story inspired me, plus my own background and experiences. I read a news story about a young man who had been deported to Mexico. He’d lived most of his life in the United States, but had been born in Mexico and had been brought to the U.S. illegally as a child. He was struggling to survive in a country that he had no memories of and in which he had few connections. I couldn’t even imagine being in his situation and thought about how I would handle such a shock.

In college, I was a Spanish major and had studied at La Universidad de las Americas in Puebla, Mexico for a semester. So I have an affinity for Mexico and did a lot of traveling by bus all over the country when I was there. I seem to be drawn to Mexico as a setting for my books…as I have another contemporary romance set in Acapulco. I imagined a story that would intertwine this immigration theme with some of the other problems Mexico currently suffers from…the drug trade, cartel wars, police corruption. It had all the elements of a really suspenseful story.

After I wrote most of the book, I wanted to find out more about our immigration laws, how that affects people here in the U.S. and what their options are to become legal citizens. I enlisted the help of a really lovely immigration attorney from southern California to ensure the details of my book were accurate to the laws we have now.

My hope is that readers will be entertained by my story of Selena and Wyatt, but also learn something in the process.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I currently am working on several projects at once, as my mind wants to jump to the next new thing. It’s fun to juggle projects, so I never get bored of a story. I can always write a scene in a book that my creative self wants to write and then write something else in another book as the muse directs me.

My main projects are:

  • The Genesis Machine. This is a work of serialized fiction that will be available in the new Kindle Vella app that will be coming online soon. I describe it as: ‘when NCIS meets the X-files.’ It’s a science fiction technothriller with some romance.
  • Aurora’s Winter. This is a sequel to my book Aurora’s Gold. It takes place in Nome, Alaska and features an underwater gold dredging heroine who falls in love with a damaged Navy veteran with a past. Its part adventure, part suspense, part romance and will be a trilogy of books when I’m done. This book should be out by the end of 2021 if all goes according to plan.
  • Revenge Honeymoon. This is a contemporary romance with a rom-com feel to it. A woman gets left at the altar and decides to take her maid-of-honor on the honeymoon cruise she’d booked for her and her fiancé. The cruise is for honeymooners only, so there are some misunderstandings and fun things that will happen as these two women come to grips with their love lives and their decisions. And, of course, we will have a cute romance!

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

I started out as a full-on pantster. I plotted nothing. I started with an idea for a book, an opening scene and knowing where I wanted to end things. The rest was up to me to figure out along the way. This resulted in a long, painful writing process, and I’d get stalled out…sometimes for months. I think it took me two years to write The Ninth Curse from beginning to end, including the edits.

Then, I went on a writers’ cruise several years ago, just as I was getting back into writing again. The speaker said this: if you are a pantster, you will eventually become a plotter.

I mulled that one over and wondered if my difficulties lay in the fact I didn’t at least come up with a simple plot ahead of time. Since that time, I have attempted to refine my process. I have written simple outlines of 1 to 3 pages to give me at least a path to follow. Sometimes I expand on that outline to get into the deeper elements of the story, which has seemed to help me with my writing.

I wrote Illegal in about seven months from beginning to end, so maybe this has helped! I used the process outlines in Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes for that one. And I recommend that book to anyone who might be struggling with the plotting or pacing of a romance.

But these days I am of the mindset that I write what I feel like writing. That is why I now juggle multiple books at once. I have ideas in my head that get me excited, where before I’d see them as distractions from completing the current project I was working on. I see these ideas as a ‘strike while the iron is hot’ opportunity. Whenever I come up with an idea or a scene, I write it. No matter if it’s out of order from the plot of if I’m in the middle of writing something else.

I want to encourage my creative side more by getting as much as possible down on paper while it’s in my head. I also have started to use a voice-to-text app on my phone and tablet when I don’t have time to type things up.

In fact, I’m writing a whole three-book series (at least I think it will be a three-book series) using voice-to-text 95% of the time. I want to stop limiting myself, slowing myself down and getting in the way of my creative brain. I am trying whatever I can to get down those ideas on paper as quickly as possible.

My goal for the next year is to finish five separate projects. I don’t know if I can do it, but I sure as hell want to try!

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Meet Author Gretchen S.B.

Gretchen spawned in the Puget Sound region. After some wandering she returned there and now lives with her husband and the daintiest Rottweiler on the planet. When not drowning herself in coffee, as is custom in the Greater Seattle Area, Gretchen can be found at her day job or sitting at her desk in the home office, flailing her arms as she dictates to her computer.

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

I have been writing and telling stories since I was very, very little. I didn’t think seriously about writing and publishing my stories until I was in college. But this was before the Kindle and all that, so I sent out query letters to agents and publishers and no one was interested in publishing my work. Then in 2013 a friend of mine, who published his book independently via Kindle publishing, told me about Kindle publishing and how easy it had been for him and after weeks and months of talking about this I finally published Lady of the Dead.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

Something quirky about me, oh man, one of the funnier ones is that I volunteered in different positions, at haunted houses for about 10 or 11 years in my late teens and early 20s. I love working at haunted houses. I was the casting director for a while and it was so much fun. I love it so much! It was such a large part of my life for those years. The quirky bit, the really funny part, is that one of the haunted houses the group I worked with was, is actually where I met my husband. It took 2 or 3 years before we started dating. When we started dating, we spent that whole season dating in secret, which looking back, was pretty entertaining. I was the casting director and he was the pirate captain for the ghostly pirate ship.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Halloween loving, world creating, kook

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself a writer around the time I was working on my fifth or sixth book. My first three books were across three different series and I had them mostly, if not all, written by the time I got around to publishing them. My fourth book I wrote from scratch and my fifth one I think had a few thousand words in it when I settled down to publish it. Once I published those two books I proved to myself that I wasn’t a one book wonder, could write across multiple genres: at that point I had paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and wholesome romance. I considered myself a writer because it wasn’t just books I already had finished that I was publishing. I was writing them expressly to publish them and I remember thinking that I wasn’t a writer when someone called me one and then one day after or during the fifth book that mentality changed. It was a really gradual process for me.

Do you have a favorite movie?

Oh man, I switch between the Saint with Val Kilmer, Ghostbusters one and two, Brotherhood of the Wolf which is a French film that takes place in 1700s rural France, and Bride and Prejudice which is a Bollywood/British hybrid of Pride and Prejudice. Those are my tried-and-true favorite movies and they jockey for first place depending on what mood I’m in.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

I think it’s a tie between the Jas Bond series, I think Jas would make a really good TV show. As well as the Anthony Hollownton series, a homicide detective who gets an un-Orthodox introduction, via a murderer, into the supernatural world. I could definitely see Tony being made into movies but I would be super excited if any of my books got made into TV shows or movies

What inspired you to write Book Burgling Blood – Magic?

My inspiration for this book is a little funny. I wanted to write a supernatural book about my husband and his job. My husband is a retail manager and our Rottweiler goes with him to work. The stories he comes home and tells me are hilarious and ridiculous and sometimes you think he’s making it up even though I know for a fact he’s not. So, I wanted to have a very self-deprecating, version of my husband, a store owner that I could throw into a paranormal world and see what happened. Jas bond definitely moved away from that initial caricature of my husband once I was really writing the first book but my husband was definitely the inspiration for this story. When I read it to him he tells me that the Rottweiler Bailey is a much better representation of our Rottweiler then Jas is of him.

What can we expect from you in the future?

All the things! I’m just kidding, I do an author podcast titled Exceptionally Average Authors Explain it All, with an author friend of mine Stevie Ray Causey. In that podcast we talk about how I jump from project to project really easily and struggle with setting goals and sticking to them. But you’ll definitely see the second season of our podcast, we’re currently at the midseason break. I am also releasing the first four books of the Jas Bond series between now and the end of July. Right now I’m thinking there are eight books in the series total and I’m hoping to have all of those out by the end of the year. I am also hoping to have some other books out this year but I’m not sure what other titles there will be or what genre, it will all depend on what I can fit around Jas Bond’s schedule.

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

I do not have any publishable side stories about the characters right now. That could change later, but as of right now I don’t. I do however know things like how Jas started working with Sven, I have that whole scene played out in my head. Or why Jas broke up with his fiancée and the story behind that. But I don’t think any of those side stories will end up getting published, they might be in some small capacity in one of the main series, but as of right now no publishable side stories.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in this book?

Sure, there are a cast of characters in the Jas Bond world. There’s Jas who is a magic-less son of a witch who owns a magical antiques store. His mother owned it before him and his grandmother before her and they are both witches so running the store was a lot easier for them than it is him. He has a rambunctious young Rottweiler named Bailey who is very opinionated and what she wants and when she wants it. He has a best friend Blake who is a werewolf, paranormal police detective who Bailey likes more than Jas. There is also Sven who is a dwarf that works at the antique shop he works in the back fixing objects that come into the shop that are broken. Though his name is Sven he is actually Scottish and very old but we don’t know his exact age. There is also Violetta who is Jas’s ex-fiancé. She is a very powerful witch and a very free spirit, she travels a lot she’s very no-nonsense she and Jas are on very good terms and are still friends even though sometimes they bicker a little bit and there’s a little bit of stress between them from time to time.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I enjoy writing Snark so anytime someone was snarky I enjoyed it. I enjoy writing Sven a lot because he wants no part of what’s happening in about three quarters of the stories and sometimes he just gets dragged in reluctantly and I really love that. I also really love writing Bailey the Rottweiler. I personally love my Rottweiler. She’s fantastic! She’s a great dog. I can’t say enough weirdly adoring things about her. So giving the Rottweiler in the story personality was a big thing for me and anytime Bailey is doing something that displays that personality I’m usually enjoying myself immensely writing that personality into the book.

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

The main character in this book Jas Bond owns a magical antiques store. There’s all kinds of magical objects in it and it’s the business his mother owned and his grandmother before that. He was basically raised to take over the store. So he is doing what’s basically expected of him even though he himself does not possess any magical abilities like his mother and grandmother do. What makes him tick as he is just trying to live his life as best he can while being supernatural world adjacent. He doesn’t have a lot of ambition to do anything else. He’s good at his job. He has a comfortable life and that is enough for him. He just wants to maintain his current level of lifestyle and what happens over the course of the stories ends up making that increasingly difficult.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was in early elementary school. We wrote stories and then drew pictures with them. My stories were moderately creative for that age. The older I got when I got writing assignments the more creative and outlandish they got. But when I was younger I wanted to be an actress so that was more my creative outlet in writing which meant that my storytelling was more just that, storytelling and not being written down. I didn’t start writing down my stories until I was a teenager and even then it was just bits and pieces I would occasionally work on but since I was writing by hand I was constantly losing them. Once I had my own laptop for college I was taking writing more seriously because I saw how many ideas I had that I just yearned to write down. Wanting to publish was a dream but at that point it wasn’t really available to me and then in October 2013 I published my first book and I have never looked back.

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

My characters definitely come to me as I write them. Every once in a while a world will occur to me first and then I will backtrack and see what sort of characters could live in that world. But usually there is one character and I want to see how they react in a given situation. Sometimes there will be two. By the time I start world building and creating the story more characters will pop up as I’m writing. I usually don’t have a solid idea of the entire cast of characters until I’m at least partway into either the first book in the series or partway into that one single solitary book if it’s a standalone.

The one exception is the clean romances where it’s just one set of main characters male and female. Those I tend to know from the get go even if I don’t have a more fleshed out idea of what they’re like. Secondary characters are more fleshed out, like with my Lantern Lake series which takes place in a small town. With a small town romance characters who might be the main character in one book will show up as reoccurring side characters in others.

Do you see writing as a career?

I think writing is a perfectly possible career choice. But it is very hard to break into. I currently have a day job that pays all of my bills and writing is a, I don’t want to call it a side hustle, but it’s something very similar. If I could be a full-time writer and make that my career I would be over the moon. I just keep working at it and working at it and hopefully someday I will be able to reach that goal.

What do you think about the current publishing market?

I think the current publishing market is a fascinating place. When I started it was easier to get people to read your books. There weren’t as many books at the end of 2013 as there are now. There are now more than, I think last I saw, 10 million titles on Amazon which is insane and that’s just the e-books I believe. It’s become much harder to find readers and so you have to be savvy about your marketing, which I definitely am not. It’s a fascinating place to be and there are so many of us so there are more likely to be people that you can connect with however there are so many of us and the network is so vast you can’t always find them really easily. So overall it’s a really interesting place but it is definitely saturated and you just have to be more strategic then you did in even 2016 when it comes to how you place your book and how you market.

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

I love to read, though now that I am working so hard on being an author I do not get to read as much as I want. Since covid started I do eat through audiobooks a lot faster. It used to be that I would just listen to them on my commute, my commute into work is about 70 minutes each way so I would listen to audiobooks or music to and from work on the bus. And that’s my main way of consuming literature. I read across the same genres that I write. There’s a lot of paranormal thrillers, urban fantasy, paranormal romances, some clean and wholesome romances. The one genre I would love to break into that I haven’t yet that I read his cozy mysteries. I love cozy mysteries especially paranormal cozy mysteries and my goal is to one day write in that genre as well.

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

It varies for me. If I am actually writing like fingers to the keyboard I need music in the background to distract my mind, I guess is the best way to put it. It can’t have a lot of words so it can’t be an audiobook. It has to be music and nothing that’s incredibly catchy so that I want to sing along because than I get distracted and I’m not writing. If I’m dictating it’s harder to have music going because sometimes the mic will pick up the lyrics from the song or get confused and then that gets into the dictation which can be funny but also a little frustrating. So if I’m dictating it tends to be in silence if I’m writing I will have music going and I tend to have that music match the genre that I’m writing. I’ll listen to darker music or something like death metal if I’m writing more of the urban fantasies. If I’m writing the clean romances it’s more upbeat music usually from the mid to late 90s and 2000s so I’ve definitely built myself environmental niches depending on what I’m working on.

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

I do not write one book at a time. I’m getting better about it but distraction is a big thing for me. I struggle to write one series at a time so writing Jas Bond has been an interesting development for me because I have gotten through 3 ½ books and I mainly concentrating on that series. It’s been interesting to be just focused on one series as normally I will be world building in one book, writing another, and editing in a third. I don’t consistently stay in one world which is probably bad but I’m hoping to pick up better habits as I go.

Advice they would give new authors?

Go at your own pace. Writers do this whole thing drastically different from person to person. If people tell you how they world build or how they write, try it, see if it works for you. If it doesn’t don’t get discouraged or feel embarrassed. We are all different in how we do this. Stevie and I talk about this on our podcast Exceptionally Average Authors Explain it All. Almost every step of writing is done differently and it’s all about finding what works best for you. If you need to be in a crowded café to write the pandemic probably isn’t the best time for you but you know that’s how you have to do it. If you have to be at home in a specific chair with specific lighting and specific candles burning than do it. If you have to edit as you go or you have to plot ahead of time or you have to write on the fly. Don’t be afraid to try new methods but definitely don’t get frustrated if other people’s methods don’t work for you. Also work on sustainability for you. If you’re going to write just one book awesome good for you but if you’re planning to write a bunch find a plan that is sustainable for you. Don’t try to rapid release if it takes you longer to write. Either wait until you have finished writing all of it or maybe piece your releases out farther apart so that you’re not stressing yourself in writing too fast. Find what works best for you and do it. That’s the best advice I can give is due this crazy thing in a way that works for you.

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

I used to be strictly a fly by the seat of my pants kind of writer. It wasn’t until I was maybe a dozen books in that I started to incorporate outlining in a meaningful way. I don’t outline in the traditional sense. I might know the major plot points or beats to the story and I pants my way to each plot point. What I tend to do is just start the story until I hit a point where I’m not sure what comes next and then I will do a paragraph outline about what the next steps are the character needs to take or what steps are further down the road. Which gives me a better idea on how to get there. So I still pants the beginning of books but once I’ve started them and have a feel for them I then do an outline of sorts for the rest of the book so I guess I’m a combination writer.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Ideas, I get ideas in my sleep, I get ideas from reading stories, watching TV, or just from doing something in my day-to-day life. When I get a new idea if it’s even somewhat sound I want to write it down and I want to work on it and I want to flesh it out and I struggle with being that easily distracted and producing the books I need to do. You can see this pretty evidently from the fact that only one of the four series I have been working on is complete. My Night World Series has 20 some odd books planned but only five are out. Because I don’t work on the stories back to back and skip all over the place because I get a new idea that I want to work on I don’t release things as fast or as consistently as I should and that is definitely my kryptonite. I get really excited about new ideas and that I want to play with them.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Finish one series before publishing. Or at least write consistently in one series before publishing a new one. I published the first book in my Night World Series first, then the first in my Berman’s Wolves series, then the first book in my Hollownton series before going back and doing book 2 in the Night World Series. I thought at the time that it would be great because I was writing across several fantasy subgenres but in actuality, I was confusing my audience because they wanted the next book in that series and then had to wait years. And then once I had started doing that I felt I had to continue writing one book in each series at a time which meant that there were 2 to 3 years between books and I would definitely tell younger me to knock that off and just work on one at a time.

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

It depends on the length and how busy I am at my day job. I finished my book Lady of the Dead in seven months, the first Jas Bond book, which is much shorter, took me nine days. Then there’s my second Berman’s Wolves book, which took me almost a year and ½ to complete. It varies on how long it is and my interest on what I feel like writing. Because once you started a series you have to finish it in my opinion and when you want to write something else it makes it harder to maintain what you should be working on. So it definitely takes me a while to finish my books because I get so easily distracted and because I have a day job with a long commute so I can’t spend as much time writing as I would like.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Oh heck yes! Writer’s block was not a big deal for me until I hit my second Berman’s wolves book. By the time I got around to writing the second book I had kind of lost the thread on the series. When I originally wrote the first one I didn’t know how many books it was or where it was going. By the time I got to the second one I was struggling with what I had originally wanted the series to be. It was also hard to write in that world coming back so many years after writing the first one. I’d written the first one in 2007 and I think I wrote the second one in 2015. So there was a very large gap and it was very difficult to come back to that and to figure out where the book was going. Writer’s block hit me really hard for the first time with that story which is why it took me about a year and ½ to finish it.

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NIGHTSHADE by Dr. Stuart Knott

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Who is Nightshade?

That’s the question that has gripped the townsfolk of Westbridge, a perilous borough in the Midlands beset by knife crime, drugs, and violence.

Who is Nightshade?

That’s the question that has dogged Blake Harte, a sadistic thug and co-founder of the Cougars, the most violent and dangerous gang in Westbridge’s history.

Who is Nightshade?

That’s the question that has tormented Chris Hauser, a troubled teenager pushed to the edge and lashing out with uncharacteristic aggression.

Who is Nightshade?
A teen pushed to the edge. A town on the brink. Both about to change forever. A life-changing event leads Chris Hauser to adopt a vigilante persona and sets him on a collision course with anarchy.

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Dr. Stuart Knott is a lifelong fan of horror, science-fiction, and action films, he has spent much of his free time between working and studying writing stories of varying length and quality. Having completed his PhD, he now applies his skills to critiquing the media he loves so much and has been branching out into self-publishing his stories through Amazon. 
Much of his writing comes from his own sordid imagination or is inspired heavily by his life and the people and events he has encountered and witnessed. At its core, his writing seeks to take the normal, everyday, and the mundane and introduce a fantastical element to it, be it horrific or dangerous, and focuses on dark humor and character-building.

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What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or fewer words, what would you say? 
It’s titled Nightshade: The Inception. It’s a thriller, something of a coming-of-age tale, in which a troubled teenager adopts a vigilante persona. 

Is the above book part of a series? 
It’s not, no, though all of my works are tangentially related in some ways. 

How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book(s)? 
I made it myself using a website called Canva. It’s a really good, user-friendly website for creating banners and logos and book covers and has some great options on there for independent authors like myself who can’t necessarily afford to pay for a cover to be created. 

I came up with it through wanting to use a simple, central image to kind of define one of the themes of the book: anarchy. I wanted something simple but also quite memorable and striking and I’m really happy with how it turned out. 

Did you listen to any particular songs while writing your book(s)? 
Absolutely, yes. I always have a few songs on the go when I’m writing, if not an entire playlist, but Nightshade: The Inception was started way back in about 2004-ish, when my love for nu-metal was really starting to blossom, so I listened to a lot of songs by bands like Linkin Park, Adema, and Disturbed.   As I edited and finalised the book, though, I was listening to Cold, Five Finger Death Punch, and Breaking Benjamin and basically anything that conjured up the feelings I was trying to evoke in the book. I actually put together a playlist on YouTube if people are interested: 

How did you come up with the title for your book(s)? 
The title actually has been pretty consistent over the years. It began really basic as Project: Mask and then, once I settled on the character’s vigilante persona, I knew that “Nightshade” had to be front and centre. When I started to finalise it for publication, I added the “The Inception” subtitle to indicate that it was the origin/beginnings of this character and to naturally leave the door open for potential follow-ups. 

Do you have a book trailer? If so, where can we watch it? 
I do, actually, yes. I cobbled it together on a website called Biteable and it can be viewed here: 

In your latest novel, who is the lead character and can you tell us a little about him/her? 
So my main character is Christian “Chris” Hauser, a nineteen-year-old boy who live sin the fictional town of Westbridge in the United Kingdom. He’s very much based on me at that age; generally a sarcastic and insightful character, his personality has shifted into uncharacteristic glumness and angst following a difficult break-up. Usually the cool-headed one, he lets his emotions overwhelm him and these drive him towards a somewhat self-destructive and violent path. He struggles a lot to reconcile these emotions, distancing himself from friends and family somewhat, and has quite an in-depth internal dialogue where he tries to come to terms with the impact his actions have on those around him. 

What is your character’s greatest strengths? 
His loyalty to his friends and family, for one, and his willingness to set aside his own issues and problems for others. What’s more paramount though is how selfless the character often is; even though his actions are often out of anger or selfish motivations, he always tries to do the right thing and I think that’s very important to his growth in the book. 

And what are his/her greatest weaknesses? 
He’s far too sensitive for his own good, for one thing. He’s also young; while he might see things differently and have a logical head on his shoulders compared to his friends, he’s still a teenager and hasn’t yet realised how things can be sometimes so he has a steep learning curve in the book. What are some of his/her favorite foods?
He’s based on me so he loves a greasy cheeseburger and big, chunk chips/fries.  

What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
He doesn’t realise how much of a positive impact he has on people; he just kind of sees himself as “there” and not as a pivotal element in his friendship circle or even in the town once he starts going out in a mask and such. Things very quickly spiral out of control for him, which makes things a bit intense and scary for him, but he goes largely unaware of how much his actions affect the criminal element of Westbridge until probably the very end of the book. 

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why? 
I hope they do like him. He’s meant to be flawed and vulnerable and sympathetic; he routinely chastises himself and his actions so even if he does something wrong it’s not really from a place of malice. I try to make him layered and complex so that he could be someone you know and surround him with characters who don’t have quite the same balance of emotion and logic as he does so he appears more grounded even when he’s losing control.  

What first gave you the idea for your latest book? 
A very similar event happened to me that Chris goes through; I had a rough break-up and turned those feelings inwardly in destructive ways and writing was a good way of coming to terms with those conflicting feelings. I also read a lot of comic books and watch a lot of superhero movies and one big influence on my book was the film adaptation of The Crow, a fantastically dark and gritty urban story. As the years went by the likes of Kick-Ass and Super came out and I was excited at how similar they were in their premise to my book, so they may have influenced me later in the edits. 

What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter? 
“Pantster”? I like that! But no, I’m definitely a “plotter”. I get the germ of an idea, jot out the basic premise, then map out the main characters a bit before deciding on how the story will go and then, once I have a rough idea of the chapters, I start to break down what’s going to happen and when and let it evolve from there. 

Have you come across any specific challenges in writing or publishing? What would you do differently the next time?
So many when trying to publish! First of all there’s the fact that it is incredibly hard to get published traditionally as literary agents and publishers either just ignore you or aren’t interested. It wouldn’t be so bad if you were given some feedback but you rarely are and, if you do get feedback, it’s either very general or it’s a lot of different criteria that fundamentally change your work. 

Also there’s the threat of so-called “vanity publishers”, who try to woo you with praise and promises to publish your work and then ask for thousands of pounds/dollars with no guarantee of your work actually being published or successful. The marketing, too, can be very difficult; if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that “likes” and followers don’t equate to sales or reviews so you really have to be bold and network and put yourself out there constantly to get your work seen. 

Are you a self-published/Indie author or did you publish through a traditional publishing company?
I’m self-published. My dream/goal is to one day be traditionally published and see my book sitting on a shelf in a book shop (or even a thrift shop!) but it’s so hard to go that route. Self-publishing through Amazon is a much better solution, especially for independent authors.

If you’re a self-published/Indie author what made you go that route instead of the traditional publishing route? 
Not just because traditional publishing is almost impenetrable but also because self-publishing allows you to reach a lot of readers very quickly. E-books and Kindles and such have become tremendously popular and are very cheap to download so it’s great for independent authors who have a lot of short stories or novellas to get their work published. 

What’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing? 
Just to stay the course and stay focused. It’s so easy to become disheartened or frustrated but you have to keep at it; plug your book, writing, and content as much as you can and reach out to other writers on social media to build a network. It all helps and will help to raise your author profile over time but, at the end of the day, nothing happens unless you make it happen so you have to do something. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to start writing?
Be prepared. Have a plan, do your research, and decide what route is best for you. Invest in an editor or proof-reader, fi you’re not confident at that, and in a cover, banner, and website as well if you think it’s going to help. Most of all, though: write! Even if you’re having a bad day, something is better than nothing and you can always turn a “bad” piece of writing into something positive. 


Meet Author Laurencia Hoffman

Laurencia Hoffman specializes in various sub-genres of romance. Her stories often focus on the darker side of fiction, but love and survival remain the central themes throughout her work.

When she’s not writing, she also enjoys playing video games with her family, listening to music, satisfying her sweet tooth, and watching films.

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

A big hello to everyone who doesn’t know me! Which is probably most of you. I must have been somewhere around sixteen or seventeen when I decided that I wanted to get my stories published. I did my research and learned the difference between finding an agent to bring your story to big publishers, self-publishing, and independent publishing companies. I didn’t want to self-publish because that seemed too large a task. I’ve tried to find an agent a few times and was unsuccessful. Finally, I decided that putting my stories out into the world was more important to me than getting in with the big publishing houses. It’s hard to remember everything exactly, but I think I was twenty years old when I had my first novella published.

What are you passionate about these days?

I think I’m passionate about the same things I always have been: movies, writing, and my family.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I watch TV and order take-out! For me, there’s nothing more relaxing than that.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pen, or so I’ve been told. I considered myself a writer when I was somewhere around twelve or thirteen, and I started to take writing seriously when I was sixteen.

Do you have a favorite movie?

Honestly, I love movies too much to have a favorite. I’ll say that right now it’s a tie between The King (2019) and Little Women (2019).

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

I picture all of them as movies when I’m writing them, but the book that I think would the best fit for a movie is Remember My Name.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

A Unicorn! I have always loved Unicorns. I’ve been fascinated by them since I was a child. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle fueled my love for them.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m working on a Fantasy novella series called a True Knight. Watch out for that one later this year! It’s a project I’ve wanted to work on since I was a teenager, but it never came together. Until now!

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

I do have a few stories/scenes that didn’t make it into the book. I didn’t think they were important to the overall story, but it’s an expansion of Shane’s childhood and memories.

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

For every story, I do a Google search for names until I find ones that I like, first and last names included. They have to “feel” right to me.

What did you enjoy most about writing Remember My Name?

I enjoyed the challenge. I had never written a character like Shane before, someone who, let’s face it, can be quite prickly! That, combined with his secrets, his stubbornness to keep them, and his inability to open up to anyone…I really had my hands full!

Who designed your book cover?

Melissa Stevens at The Illustrated Author Design Services. Her work is beautiful!

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

Oh, that’s such a tough question. There are always things I want to go back and change, but I have to accept that I did the best I could at the time!

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

I’ve always pictured Timothée Chalamet as Shane Coulter. In fact, the book is dedicated to him for that very reason!

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

Thank you for reading my work. Your support means more to me than you will ever know.

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

They are all from my imagination. I do try to bring a sense of realism into my stories. Some elements may have been inspired by real life events or several different films, but what originally inspires me or sparks an idea tends to become unrecognizable when it’s implemented into my work.

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 couldn’t get Shane to listen to me if I tried! The characters have full control, I’m just the vessel.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

Yes, I have several unpublished works. I’m not sure if I will ever get them published. There are some stories that simply take priority over others. And, truthfully, sometimes I forget that I have finished stories sitting in my documents!

What did you edit out of this book?

I specifically remember removing a scene between Shane and his father. There are flashbacks in the book that are in chronological order being from Shane’s childhood to his adulthood, but at the end of the book, I had a flashback where Shane was back to being a child. It just didn’t fit. I didn’t want to mess up the nice, neat, chronological order I’d worked so hard on!

Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?’-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.

Shane was originally a character I created within a roleplaying community of writers. The more his story was revealed to me, the more he intrigued me, and I just had to write a book about him…which has now turned into a series!

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

My main character always comes to me before I write a single word. There are supporting characters and relationships that I learn about as I go along.

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

It depends on the book. Sometimes I have to research symptoms and outlooks for medical conditions. For Shane, I had to figure out his specific heart condition, find the best and worst cases, how long someone with his diagnosis is expected to live, etc. It’s difficult to keep track of everything, so I try to take notes and bookmark my sources to go back to when I need a refresher!

Do you see writing as a career?

I would love to write as a career. Writing is my passion and I can’t imagine not doing it, so I’d be happy to write for the rest of my life.

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

I think it depends on what scene I’m writing. If it’s an emotional or dramatic scene, I have to play music to set the mood and get into the zone. If nothing particularly complicated is happening, sometimes I write in silence.

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

I usually have multiple. They don’t all get finished, mind you. On average, I write two books at a time and go back and forth depending on which story I feel most inspired for.

Pen or type writer or computer?

Computer for speed and efficiency. Pen for emergencies, such as when I’m out and about without a computer.

What are you currently reading?

Bones and All by Camille DeAngelis.

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

I absolutely have to write an outline at least a few chapters in advance. I usually flesh it out as I go, but if I don’t have something to follow and a plan for what to do next, I get lost.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

My inability to focus! If I was able to focus for more than one or two hours at a time, I think I would get so much more work done. Even during those one to two hours, I take breaks in between. Finding quiet time to match up with my ability to concentrate is so challenging!

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

Oh, heck if I know what readers want. I go wherever the story takes me, whether I like it or not! As long as the story feels “right” and I’m staying true to the characters and their story, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Including myself.

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

Depending on the length of the story and the complications of the plot, it could take me anywhere from 3 months to 5 years to complete a story. There’s been a story or two where I have taken years away from writing it, and then come back and finish it.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Oh, yes. Seems like I have it constantly. Recently, I’ve heard it referred to as writer’s doubt. And because I constantly struggle with writing, and whether or not I can convince myself that it’s any good, I would say I have a mix of both.

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