Guest Post ~ by Author Sarah Sutton

TWO KINDS OF US was such a fun story to write, mostly because it focuses on this girl, Destelle, so desperate to find out who she is and a boy, Harry, who feels like he’s lost his true self. Their dynamic is so inspiring to me, and whenever there was a scene with them together (and since it’s a romance, there were a LOT), I loved the tension and the way they always supported each other.

If I had to choose my favorite scene from the whole book, I think it would be the one where they share their first kiss. There’s something so magical about first kisses in themselves, but watching these two characters come together and take the risk of falling for someone, it’s just so great to me. Maybe it’s because I know they’re still both struggling with their inner demons at this point, but it’s also a way to take back the control of their lives. They’re both deciding that the other person is worth the risk, worth the fight, and there’s something so romantic about that to me.

These two characters have their struggles and conflicts, but it was so fun to see them grow over the course of this book. By the end, the journey they went through together really made them solid. Not just in each other, but confident in themselves as well. Harry and Destelle definitely hold my heart.

10 Rapid Fire Questions About Me

  1. What is your favorite movie?
    I’ve got two that I could watch again and again until the end of time—Tangled and Monte Carlo.
  2. Which of your novels can you see being made into a movie?
    I could definitely, definitely see TWO KINDS OF US being turned into a movie. Cute lead singers and a girl hiding her true identity? I’d so watch that!
  3. What is something unique and quirky about you?
    I’m obsessed with Coca-Cola and my favorite animal is a manatee!
  4. How did you become an author?
    I was in the first grade when I first starting writing—a Gingerbread Man fan-fiction. It was amazing (not really).
  5. What do you do to unwind or relax?
    It changes all the time, but I really like to listen to some relaxing music and journal out whatever’s going on in my brain!
  6. What’s your favorite food?
    Right now, I’m obsessed with breakfast tacos, especially the ones from a little shop near me. I’d marry one if I could!.
  7. Favorite book?
    Nevermore by Kelly Creagh will always be a favorite!
  8. Favorite ice cream flavor?
    I’m love, love, loving one scoop of chocolate paried with one scoop of cookie dough. It’s the perfect combination!
  9. Favorite TV show?
    I will always love The Vampire Diaries, but I recently just finished Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and I’ve got to say—it was epic!
  10. Favorite piece of writing advice?
    “Always remember why you’re writing.”

Ten fun questions about TWO KINDS OF US!

  1. What did you enjoy most about writing this book? This is a secret identities romance, so it was really fun trying to bring that aspect of keeping oneself hidden onto the page! My main character, Destelle, has this alter ego type of persona that gives her a boost of confidence, and it was fun to write out that dynamic. Destelle is more quiet and reserved, but that other persona, Stella, was confident and easygoing, and detailing out the journey of the two meshing into one was so much fun.
  2. Do you have any side stories about the characters? Not a side story per-se, but there is a character in this book who is going to get her own story very, very soon…
  3. What did you edit out of this book? A lot of this book was tweaked and reorganized, actually! I was looking back on it the other day and smiled a bit at how much this story has changed. In the original first draft, my main character, Destelle, actually had a really skeevy ex-boyfriend who caused a lot of conflict toward the middle of the book. I ultimately ended up cutting him because I thought he was just a bit too stereotypical, and the story functions much smoother without him.
  4. What is your favorite part of this book and why? Definitely the main character and the love interest. Harry, our main guy, is a tortured soul who has had a rough past, and him and Destelle, who’s lead more of a privileged life, interacting was so much fun to write. They’re quite opposite of each other, which is why this is really an opposites attract romance as well, but they really bring out the best in each other.
  5. Can you tell us a bit about the main characters? As I mentioned above, Harry’s had a rough past. He’s trying to find himself again after going through a life event that really rocked his world. He’s ashamed of his past, so when he meets Destelle, she makes him feel like he can leave it all behind. And Destelle’s a really interesting character too. She struggles with being her true self because she lives under the strict rule of her parents, so for a breath of fresh air, she created a persona named Stella. Her parents can never know about Stella, so watching her try to hide that identity was so cool to draw out. And, of course, the idea of telling Harry the truth about those identities, that caused a bit of anxiety!
  6. How long did it take you to write this book? I wrote this book for NaNoWriMo 2020, but it took me a little over a month to write to completion. But it was pretty swift moving after that! Wrote the very first draft in November, and now here we are!
  7. If this book were made into a film, who would play the lead? OOH, for Destelle, I can see maybe Bailey Madison or Odeya Rush. Odeya is a bit on the older side, but she’s definitely got the look down! For Harry, I picture him maybe as Jace Norman or Jay Jay Warren!
  8. Did you make a playlist for this book? I did! I put about ten songs on it, but one that really stands out as the perfect song for this book has got to be “Beautiful People” by Ed Sheeran!
  9. What was the hardest part to write? I think the hardest part for me was crafting the side character dynamics. I was so obsessed with Harry and Stella for the longest time that I really did struggle to go back and make sure that the side characters got some love too!
  10. Can we expect anything more from you in the future? Yes! I’ve got one more book coming out this year in November, and it’s going to be my first ever Christmas romance. I’m super excited to dive into that book and see where that wintery journey takes me!

Would you like a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Meet Author Kristen Braddock!

Characters and their worlds have inundated Kristen’s mind since she was a kid. Traveling to far off places and having words on a piece of paper transform into entire scenes pulling at her emotions is an obsession.

Her goal as a fantasy author isn’t solely to relish in her imagination, but to bring representation to this genre. She wants stories with characters who are diverse inside and out. Their differences are not the focal point of the story, but rather a natural part of their being. Due to this, you will often not only find characters of varying ethnicities, but of the LGBTQ+ community, who battle diseases, are neuroatypical, and plenty of other areas that make us all so different from each other. These are not their defining qualities. It’s simply a part of who they are. To further support these communities, Kristen donates 10% of her profits to various organizations.

When Kristen isn’t cooped up on her computer or curled up with a book, she is often outdoors– hiking, snorkeling, diving, camping, etc. 

Currently, she resides in California with her husband and fur babies (two dogs and a cat). 

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author? I have written since I was six years old, which I feel many authors find their initial interest at a young age. My two passions in life have always been writing stories and the ocean. I became a SCUBA instructor and work as a Marine Science teacher, so I figured it was time to pursue my other passion in life. Last year, I finished a novel I started in college, and after falling down an indie author rabbit hole during 2020, I committed to becoming an author. I don’t want to live my life with a “what if” hanging over my head. I have always made choices based on what I will regret the least, and I knew if I never pursued publishing a book it would be something I’d regret. So, voila! An author I became! I don’t have expectations to make millions as an author, but I know when all is said and done I will have given it my all. Talking with my readers about moments they love, characters they enjoy, or fan theories is so unbelievably exciting and something I truly relish.

What is something unique/quirky about you? After college, I sold everything I owned, paid off my student loans, and left the United States to live abroad for two years, including England, Indonesia, and Belize. The last is where I met my partner, and he loved me enough to move back to states while I attended graduate school. Also, if you were to add all my scuba dives together, I will have spent roughly 3.5-4 months of my life underwater.

Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you! Any of my “interesting” things will probably be ocean based. How about one of the many times I got to dive with wild dolphins? Or one of the times an octopus reached out its tentacle to touch my finger like a perfect rendition of E.T.? I’ve had to kick a shark in the nose before because it got a little too aggressive, but I don’t like telling this story because I already hate how fearful of sharks people are, which has led us to slaughtering 90% of them. So, perhaps the times I’ve pet sharks while they swam by me or were asleep in the sand? Sea turtles have startled me more than anything because they will swim right into you without a care in the world. Honestly, I can talk about the ocean and my experiences for hours. Feel free to find me on any social media (facebook, instagram, tiktok) and I will happily tell you all the fun stories!

Where were you born/grew up at? I was born in California, but moved to the East coast near my 2ns birthday. I spent my childhood in a rural town in Maryland with five and a half acres, horses, and running through the woods playing with the fairies that lived there. I moved back to Southern California one week before high school started, and have been on the West Coast ever since (more less, if we disclude my travel years and when I lived on Kauai), so I consider myself “bi-coastal.”

If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day? SCUBA diving, spending time with loved ones, and binging on all my favorite foods.

Who is your hero and why? Sylvia Earle because she is one of the first female marine scientists who helped change the game with deep sea diving. Also, she’s a huge proponent for ocean conservation and is a general bad a**. (Am I allowed to say that?) In terms of writing, Annette Marie is an absolutely amazing indie fantasy author who creates such intricate and realistic worlds that I’m blown away by her books every time. OR Audrey Grey, another amazing indie fantasy author, and I’m obsessed with her morally grey characters, and character development is **chefs kiss**.

What kind of world ruler would you be? A terrible one, I’m sure. I have no interest in being a world ruler. I am NOT the chosen one and I’m perfectly fine with that.

What are you passionate about these days? Writing, teaching, the ocean, traveling. Not much has changed since I was a kid it seems. When it comes to pure passion, to where I feel it deep in my gut of something I want to do…

For writing, it’s bringing diversity to the fantasy genre. I’m not only talking about racial diversity, but neurodiveristy, gender diversity, physical diversity, sexual orientation diversity. We live in a complex world where humans greatly differ from one another in so many ways, so why should a fantasy world be any different? On top of that, I want to give back to these communities I aim to represent in my novels, so not only do I hire sensitivity readers for narratives I am not familiar with, but I donate 10% of my profits to various non-profits. For Banshee’s Curse, since one of the main side characters has autism, I am donating to Foundations of Divergent Minds. It’s run by autistic people, not parents of autistic people, and has a staff highly composed of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people too.

In teaching, my other profession when I’m not writing books, I’m passionate about getting teachers training beyond the subjects they teach or classroom management. I truly believe teachers are not only there to teach a topic, but often wind up as mentors and are on the forefront if a student is having a rough time. I want to know teachers have the right tools to handle those difficult situations in order to best support students, and I want to be sure students are getting the correct initial support too.

What do you do to unwind and relax? Read. Watch movies/tv shows/anime. Anything that is story telling I love. Otherwise I’m fairly outdoorsy. Hiking with my pups, camping, fishing, diving are all activities I love too.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less! Empathetic. Driven. Oddball. Loyal. Mermaid.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? Probably in college. I was initially a Creative Writing major before I changed to a Biology major. Sometimes it can be hard to consider yourself a writer, but I made a distinction between “writer” and “author”, and it helped me embrace the former.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie? Any of them! Although, my YA mermaid novel may be difficult without the entire thing being CGI. But you never know with today’s technology!

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? First, I wouldn’t use the word ‘spirit animal’ due to cultural appropriation and I’m not Native. However, my mascot/avatar would most likely be a dolphin. It sounds cliche with my love for the ocean, but I’m generally energetic, I would fight for my family/loved ones, and my brain is always running on full power. These are all characteristics I associate with dolphins. Fun fact! Dolphins sleep with only half of their brain at a time. In Hawaii, if you find spinner dolphins close to shore, with only a couple of dolphins spinning on the outskirts of the pod, they are actually sleeping and the ones jumping out of the water are trying to herd the others. Also, they’ll twist to the side to watch underneath them with the side that’s “on” in order to look for predators, and being over sandy bottoms it’s easier to do this because the predators will stick out more. I worked as a SCUBA instructor in Kauai before moving back to California to teach high school science, thus the random knowledge.

What inspired you to write this book? I love fantasy, all subgenres, and there’s common mythical beings who get written about (vampires, shifters, fae, witches to name a few), and I was trying to think of a “darker” fantasy character to write about, and a banshee popped into my mind. Researching it more, I found out banshees stem from Irish/Celtic folklore, and it was a slippery slope from there, leading me to all the other characters like druids, pucas, and other Celtilc fae.

What can we expect from you in the future? **Chants** More books! More books! More books! I wish I could write as fast as my novel ideas sprout in my brain. I plan for Banshee’s Curse to be a 4 or 5 book series. Plus, I have the first book of my YA mermaid series written, and I hope for that to be a 4 book series. That one is really fun because I essentially thought, “I have a lot of knowledge about the ocean, so how can I take real ocean phenomena and create a mer-community?” I still take creative license plenty of times, but most of what I write is grounded in something factual, so in a way it hinges on sci-fi too. Also, I already have a witch-familiar trilogy loosely plotted, dragon shifters, and incubi/demon ideas. Different representations I will have across these will be more LGBTQ+ characters, cancer survivor, and epilepsy to name a few. Also, in my mermaid series I have a main character who lost an arm. I am so excited with how all these diversities wind into these fantasy worlds I’m creating. Again, I wish I could write faster. I want to get books out to readers as soon as I can, which is one of the many reasons I decided to go an indie instead of the traditional publishing route.

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters? I do have a prequel novella out called Losing The Light. It’s short and sweet, about five chapters, and written from the perspective of the main love interest about six years prior to when the main series takes place. What happens in this novella is so pivotal to why certain characters are certain ways in the main series, I couldn’t help but dive into the day that changed everything a little bit more.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Whisper of Darkness? Cara is the main character who has spent her life thinking she is cursed due to a ringing that occurs in her head before someone around her dies. Surprise! She’s not cursed, she’s a banshee! Other fun facts, she loves animals and makes inappropriate sounds when eating something delicious or has coffee. Also, she struggles with her mental health, which is to be expected when you have lived life with death haunt you.

Shay is a druid, and kind of a prick. He’s also the reason Cara ends up being taken away to another realm.

Killian can make a person’s worst nightmares come to life, but broody and hot despite the scars maring the left side of his body. Oh, and he loves crumble. Shay and Killian have a complex history, but I can’t tell you too much more because that’s part of the story!

I’d say these are the main three, at least for Book 1.

Where did you come up with the names in the story? Googling Irish/Celtic names until I found ones I liked. Sorry, it’s not more interesting than that.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? I really love complex characters. Creating their backstories was so wonderful, and really letting my mind fly when it comes to magic.

How did you come up with the title of your first novel? Darkness is a theme for both Cara and Killian, something they bond over, both with their powers and the darkness they fight mentally. Whisper of Darkness makes me think of those evil voices in the back of your mind. You know the ones. The ones who say you’re fat, not worthy of love, that you’ll never accomplish anything, and whatever other terrible things that make you question yourself and your life. Cara is haunted in many ways, and I feel it’s a darkness always whispering in her mind, in her soul, dragging her to a darker place.

Who designed your book covers? A very talented friend and coworker designed Book 1, and I am using Miblart to design the others. My talented friend has 3 kids and is moving soon, so I didn’t want to make him commit to a 5 book series and figured it was better to find someone to finish out the series covers sooner rather than later.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? Don’t ask a writer that! We are our own worst critics! We will never be fully happy with our books, and we will always question things, even down to the “should I use the word ‘excited’ or ‘ecstatic’. So, needless to say I’ll say ‘no’ because if I think about it, I’ll question myself too much and start to stress out. See! Those little evil voices! Totally a thing. (Note: The end of this answer will only work if coupled with the ‘Title of your first novel’ question).

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book? So much! I learned so much about Irish and Celtic folklore. It was all wildly fascinating and so much fun to find ways to incorporate it. However, what I was most excited to learn about was more about autism for my character, Cadan. I did tons and tons of research as it is not a personal identity. However, I ended up hiring this absolutely amazing sensitivity reader who is not only autistic, but has a BA in creative writing and is currently working on a Master’s in Critical Theory with an emphasis on environmentalism, postcolonialism, race, gender and disability. They, also, identify as Black, an immigrant, trans, and indigenous. So, their scope both personally and academically/professionally was astounding. This made it so not only did they provide me feedback on Cadan, but often would explain more on the “why” behind including a specific characteristic. I wasn’t only being told what I did well or needed to work on, but learned why that is too. I am so immensely appreciative of them, and finding them was a complete blessing.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead? Lily Collins would be perfect.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers? Find me on social media and say ‘Hi’! I love creating worlds, my mind creates worlds even if I don’t write them down, but it’s the readers that keep the steam in my engine. Hearing what you love, fan theories, seeing fan art, or just connecting about our mutual love for fantasy is such a huge driving force and will make my entire day.

What is your favorite part of this book and why? I love the Korrigan! A small water sprite who can see the past, present, and future. I make her a little devilish and wildly beautiful. It’s one chapter encompassing one of the trials in the competition that Cara is a part of, but I love it so much!

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? 100% from my imagination. Well, I guess certain qualities of my main character was inspired by my alpha reader, like her love for animals.

Have you written any other books that are not published? My YA mermaid series, but I plan to publish Book 1 soon!

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be? “First Rain.” The smell of a first rain is so distinct, and that would 100% be my book. You’ll completely understand why if you decide to read it.

Is there an writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why? Any fantasy writer! I want all the author friends! Annette Marie, Sara J Maas, Laura Thalassa, Audrey Grey, Annette Marie, Leia Stone, Jaymin Eve, Jennifer L Armentrout, Holly Black, this list could go on forever! They are so amazing with their world building, character development, story flow. They are all icons in their own way, and it would be hard not to fangirl around any of them. I would do my best to play it cool though because I want more author friends. I adore the best friendship between Leia Stone and Jaymin Eve, and totally hope to find my author BFF one day.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write? They definitely come to me as I write. That’s part of the fun! Although, I usually start out with a solid main 3, but my favorite characters always end up being the ones I discover later. Cadan is my favorite character in Banshee’s Curse and Aadya is my favorite in Changing Tides, my YA mermaid book which will be released soon.

Do you see writing as a career? 1000%, yes. Honestly, I don’t think I fully comprehended how much I’d have to do as a writer. The idea of “I’m here to write and that’s all” feels completely absurd to me now. Definitely how I used to think, how the author wrote and others did everything else, but that’s not the case for 90% of authors, especially in today’s publishing world.

What do you think about the current publishing market? It’s evolving and oversaturated. With social media and the transformation of indie publishing over the past ten years, it’s wild… and exciting, stressful, overwhelming, inspiring. I am able to accomplish things I would’ve never thought possible fifteen years ago. However, this does make it very difficult for authors to gain recognition in the current market. The best marketing will and always has been the readers. Authoring is the equivalent to running a small business, so all your readers out there, please know that reviews really help us out. So whatever author you love, definitely give them a shout out on Amazon, Goodreads, Social Media, or wherever you feel most comfortable. I promise you, they will be immensely grateful for it.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? It depends, I’d prefer silence because music can distract me. However, if I’m at home, and my husband is watching TV in the other room, it can be more distracting for me. So, I made a Spotify writing playlist with various film scores from movies such as Narnia, Hunger Games, LOTR, Maleficent, Star Wars, etc. Recently, I found a Dark Academia Instrumental playlist I enjoy too. I’d be happy to share these playlists with any readers who are interested!

A day in the life of the author? My day is a little nuts since I’m a teacher as well. Usually, I wake up and will get to school about 1.5 hours before school starts, so I can spend the first 45-60 minutes in a structured environment writing. Once school begins, I focus on teaching, grading, and the other parts of my job. If there’s spare moments to write, such as my prep period, I will, but that’s not my priority when the kiddos are around. When the school day is done, I’ll go home, spend time with my pups, start prepping/cooking dinner. My husband will come home, and we’ll have a meal together, maybe watch a show, and then I’ll spend another 1-2 hours writing at the end of my day. My aim is always a minimum of half a chapter per day when I’m in the midst of the writing process. With editing, my goal is to complete one chapter per day at minimum. Also, in between these stretches, I am managing all my author social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok) and marketing. I am conversing with authors, attending meetings, running my New Adult and College Fantasy facebook group, critiquing other writer’s novels, conversing with my cover designer or beta readers, and plenty of other pieces of my small business (aka being an indie author). I am a one woman show right now, but I’m passionate and driven to give it my all.

Advice they would give new authors? I have plenty of advice, I could write a whole book on it. However, what I’ve been doing instead is making informational Tiktoks. So, that’s a great place to learn some advice or ask me questions if I don’t cover something you’re curious about.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? I don’t try to do either. I try to envision what I enjoy in a novel or what I want to read, and I write it. Don’t get me wrong, I totally want my readers to enjoy the book.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? Just write. And when they say the best way to become a better writer is to read and write, it’s true. But reading doesn’t need to be “the classics”, it can be books you love within the genre you want to write, and getting better with writing over time is a given because ‘practice makes perfect.’

How long on average does it take you to write a book? Changing Tides, my YA mermaid book, I wrote on and off for nine years. Whisper of Darkness took me about six months, and Beyond The Mist (Banshee’s Curse Book 2) took me about five months. I’m getting better all the time. It’s difficult since I’m a full time teacher too and cannot commit to writing at the same level other indie authors can. I truly feel I work two jobs, one of them being the equivalent to a small business.

Do you believe in writer’s block? I had no idea it was a ‘belief’, definitely thought it was a given. Absolutely, I believe in creative/writer’s block. However, what you decide to do when it occurs is what really matters. If I waited for inspiration every single time to write, it would take me years to finish a novel. Nanowrimo helps keep me on track, and forcing words out even if it’s only a page or two. My mantra when this occurs is “You can’t edit a blank page.” I don’t expect my first draft to be perfect, and believe the first draft’s purpose is to help the story exist outside of your head. I will often force out a chapter when I’m not feeling it, and then leave a comment of “expand” for when I go to edit it later. Oftentimes, I will have the inspiration at some point and I can go back and make the chapter better, and I never worry I’m not making any headway at all.

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Meet Author Jayme Phelps!

What inspired you to write this book? I really wanted a piece of pie from a specific restaurant and jokingly told my husband “I would give anything for a piece of that pie.” That made me wonder if I would really give anything in that moment and what other people might consider important enough to give their soul for.

What can we expect from you in the future? A lot more books! I didn’t realize how many story ideas I had until I wrote the first one, and now they really don’t stop.

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters? Yes!!! I am working on a sort of “spinoff” series that follows some of the character form the same universe. I’m super excited about it because the two series together form an origin sort of story.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Devil’s Intern? Well…Anna is a sort of bitter and spiteful character. She feels like she got the short end of the stick and wants to blame everyone except herself in the beginning. Stephan is her mentor and he wants Anna to do anything except what she’s doing. Silas, who is the Devil is only after one thing, souls. And Rachel is the friend that Anna didn’t want but ends up with anyway.

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book? I’m fascinated with the idea of what people are willing to give in order to get what they want. The characters on the other had just developed as I needed them. It’s almost like my characters pop into the story fully formed and I just give them obstacles and see how they react.

Where did you come up with the names in the story? Truly I think that’s the worst part. Once I have a character they usually get a generic name and then once I know their personality I can give them something permanent.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Watching the characters come to life and make decisions that even I didn’t see coming. I feel like most of the time I’m just a conduit. I just write down the movie as it’s playing in my mind.

Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick? Anna wants her life back, she wants to go back to the way things were and pretend that the world she’s in now is just a bad dream. Stephan wants as little to do with Anna as possible because he knows things that she does not and Rachel wants to take advantage of any situation that comes her way.

How did you come up with the title of your first novel? It’s just seemed logical for the direction of the novel.

Who designed your book covers? David Collins from DC cover creations.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? I don’t think so. I feel like it ended up exactly how it was supposed to be.

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book? That writing a book is about a lot more than just putting words on a page. There’s an art to writing a novel that I think can only be learned from actually doing it.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead? Emma Stone or Isla Fischer

Anything specific you want to tell your readers? Thank you! I hope you enjoy reading my book as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s still crazy to me that people I don’t know personally are reading my story and enjoying it.

What is your favorite part of this book and why? Surprisingly the Devil, Silas, is my favorite part. He’s sensible and funnier than I expected him to be, especially for who he is. Even when he’s stern and serious he’s still fair and witty.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? They’re entirely from my imagination though I’m sure they have have characteristics from people I know in real life.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story? Convince us why you feel your book is a must read. My characters are definitely in control. I know where they will start and have a pretty good idea where they’ll end up, but they give the story life and direction. I just put the words on paper. I think that shows when you read the story, these characters are their own people, they’re as real as I am on this page. That’s what I love so much about them.

Have you written any other books that are not published? Yes, I have book two for this series written and it’s in the beta stage right now. I have also written book one of a series that runs parallel to this one that features some of the more minor characters from this series. 

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be? Cinnamon, because it’s spicy like my characters, their adventures, and the alcohol they drink.

What did you edit out of this book? Nothing. I write pretty concisely so if anything there have been additions, but I didn’t have to edit anything out.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why? No, because I talk to other writers on a regular basis and I find that most are more than willing to talk about writing because it’s something we’re all passionate about, so we can talk forever about anything to do with it.

Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know? Devil’s Intern was requested by multiple publishers after just it’s first draft. Also, I like to write during Nanowrimo because my friends and I challenge each other to see how many words we can write each day. Book 2 of this series was written in 3 weeks because I’m competitive and I wanted to reach my goal before my friends did.

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors? Definitely Meghan Ciana Doidge, Rachel Caine, Kim Harrison, Genevieve Cogman, Cassandra Clare, Gina Lamanna, Shannon Mayer, Ransom Riggs, Mary Janice Davidson and Charlaine Harris

What book do you think everyone should read? If you want Urban Fantasy I would say Cupcakes, Trinkets, and other Deadly Magic.

How long have you been writing? A little over a year.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write? They all come as I write. I like to think that I am a plotter because I like an outline, but truthfully most of it just comes out on the page, including the characters. They sort of just pop up as I need them, kind of like watching a movie unfold in my head.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book? Honestly, none. Not yet anyway. I think that new writers typically tend to write what they’re familiar with, so I didn’t really research for the first book. Though for book 2 I researched a few different places that my character had connections with before she died.

Do you see writing as a career? Not yet. I think mainly because I love my job. I’m a full-time educational sign language interpreter and this was just something I did on a whim. Though now that my book is being published and I have so many ideas for more stories I could see it quickly becoming a second career.

What do you think about the current publishing market? I think the current publishing market is interesting. I didn’t really know anything about writing books or publishing before 2020, so I’m still learning, but there’s so much more to the whole process than I ever would have thought.

I had no idea that there are multiple “paths to publishing.” I just thought that you had to query publishers or agents and you would get published or not. I think that it’s pretty cool to have so many different ways to publish a book. But for me personally, I didn’t want to self-publish because I wanted someone else to think that my work was worthy too. It’s weird how much I value that validation.

Crazy thing is that I pitched my book on Twitter just to see if someone would be interested in the idea the day after I finished the first draft. I had no idea that it would be something that people would want and get me a publishing deal. I think really, I just feel lucky that my book got picked up so quickly by a publisher. 

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre? Ummm yes!!! I have been a reader my entire life, in fact I read at least 2 books a month and my favorite genre is the one I write in, Urban Fantasy.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? Both. I think that there’s something to be said about the emotion that music evokes and when I’m listening to music I find myself writing full scenes based solely on how the song made me feel. However, most of the time I write in silence because I need my fingers to keep up with my thoughts as the story flows. 

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time? Well, right now I’m writing one at a time, though I do have two series that I’m working on, both of them part of the same universe.

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose? Hmmmm, that’s a tough question. I guess I would say Harry Potter. Mainly because it has really impacted so many people on such a broad scale from all different age levels. It’s one of those books I think will sort of transcend time.

Pen or type writer or computer? Computer all the way. I am very technologically connected and really my hand can’t keep up with my brain if I’m physically putting pen to paper. I also like the convenience of a laptop with all of it’s awesome word processing and editing software because I can work on things in multiple different places, whether it’s at my desk or on my phone.

Tell us about a favorite character from a book. A favorite character in general would have to be Jade from the Dowser series, I think I just felt like she’s really relatable and she has her own cupcake bakery for crying out loud. I mean I feel that on a whole other level. If you ask anyone that knows me they will tell you that my favorite cake is a cupcake, because it’s your very own personal slice of heaven that you don’t have to share. Plus I was a cake decorator for a lot of years so I relate to that too.

What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision? Well, I have some serious imposter syndrome because even though my book is being published, I don’t really think of myself as an author. I just have stories to tell, and I think it’s the right decision to share any kind of creativity that might bring other people joy.

A day in the life of the author? It definitely varies. Right now I’m sort of between projects as my first book launches and my second book is in the beta stage. So, I would say, I spend a lot of time on putting together book teasers and posts, Then I spend time on social media doing “marketing”, and finally I work on editing or new projects like the outline for book 3.

Advice you would give new authors? Write a full draft as quickly as possible. I know that it’s tempting to want to edit as you go but a lot of times that leads to more editing than actual writing, so finish the first draft and then edit. Also put your work out there. It’s scary and not everyone is going to like it, but it’s truly the best way to get better.

Describe your writing style. I have no idea! Again. I’m still really new to this whole writing thing so it’s hard to say. I know that I prefer to write first person, because I love to experience a story through the eyes of the character. Plus, I like the idea of not knowing everything. With first person the reader only knows what the character knows, and a lot of times, that’s not a whole lot.

What makes a good story? For me as a reader I would say the ability to pull me in and make me forget that I’m not actually the character. I love to feel what each character feels and live their life with them. I love series for that reason and it’s always heartbreaking for me when the series ends and there are no more adventures to follow.

What are they currently reading? Right now I’m reading Magic Julep, book 7 in the Magic and Mixology series by Gina Lamanna. But, I’m also listening to Midlife Fairy Hunter By Shannon Mayer.

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I definitely start my stories with an outline. I think that it makes the process go faster.  Though I don’t give it a lot of details, I know where the story starts and I have a good idea of how it will end, so I like to just put down the big events in the order I see them happening. Then I connect the dots so to speak, moving from on event to the next using as many chapter as it takes to get there.

I think that one common trap for aspiring writers is to never finish a full draft or to keep doing the same thing again and again even if it’s not working. Some people need an outline but don’t use on and some people don’t need one but put one together and try to force themselves to follow it anyway. I think that it’s important to remember that you will always find something that needs to be edited, but if you never finish the book then you can’t publish it, and it’s important to remember that it’s okay to try something different.

What is your writing Kryptonite? My own negative self-talk. It’s hard to get past that sometimes, and I have to be wary of falling into the trap of putting myself down until I can’t write at all.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? I try to be original; I think. Really, I just write what I would want to read and hope that others will want to read it too.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? Just because you’ve read a ton of books, doesn’t mean you know how to write a book. There’s an art to writing and it takes practice and knowledge to get it right. There are definitely people that are more natural writers than others, but it still takes time and hard work. So don’t give up.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? I think it’s getting their mannerisms or speech patterns right. It’s hard to describe some things clearly because they’re not natural for me, like how a guy would speak to a woman vs another man, or their facial expressions.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? It takes me around 2-3 days to outline a book and then 3-4 weeks to write a first draft of the story. Then I use another week to do content edits and spelling and grammar checks before I send it out to beta readers for their initial thoughts.

Do you believe in writer’s block? I guess it depends on the person. Though I don’t believe in writers block for me. But that’s only because I learned quickly what would cause me to be blocked. Personally, if I come to a point where I can’t go any further I know that it’s because I forced a character to do something that they wouldn’t actually do and then I come up against a wall.

Because I let my characters take control of their story, they become a sort of living entity and I get to live sort of vicariously through them. So, if the story flow stops suddenly, or I can’t see the next scene in my mind, then I have to go back and figure out where it was that I stepped in as the writer. From there I let the character take the reins again and make that decision organically. That always seems to fix it for me. That’s why my outlines are sort of vague, I don’t want to get so caught up in what I want my characters to do that I end up having to backtrack a hundred time.

Would you like a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or a Swag pack that includes T-shirt, stickers, poster & book marks? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

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Everdal Update #9…

Photo by Ann H on

Update #8 June 3, 2021

GENRE: YA/NA Fantasy
Status: First Draft Complete
Days in current Status: To Many
Days of actual writing: 25
Current Word Count: 64,223
Current Chapter Count Complete: 19
NEXT STEPS: Re-writes - Estimated completion date: unknown

The 1st draft is FINALLY done!

Well, its done.

I’m not going to lie, its an ugly first draft, but its done.

I think the story has great bones and the characters are fun… relatable… and likeable, for the most part. wink-wink…

I can’t wait to dig in and get started on the re-writes.

Photo by Janko Ferlic on

Everdal Update #8…

Update #8 April 28, 2021

GENRE: YA/NA Fantasy
Status: Writing First Draft
Days in current Status: 93
Days of actual writing: 19
Current Word Count: 40,890
Current Chapter Count Complete: 16
NEXT STEPS: Complete first draft - Estimated completion date: 5/31/2021

What Happened?!?!

I haven't written a single word in two weeks...

My minds been muddled.
My mouth has gone dry.
My eyes can't see and my body aches.

Words come in overloading waterfalls.
Images crowd my vision.
Time passes to quickly and I can't catch up.

Tonight, I tell myself.
Tomorrow, I say.
14 days gone already, how many more can I chance?!
Photo by Sam Kolder on

Everdal Update #7…

Image by TanteTati from Pixabay 

Update #7 April 14, 2021

GENRE: YA/NA Fantasy
Status: Writing First Draft
Days in current Status: 79
Days of actual writing: 19
Current Word Count: 40,890
Current Chapter Count Complete: 16
NEXT STEPS: Complete first draft - Estimated completion date: 5/31/2021

The End…

I am usually a chronological writer. Meaning, I write from the beginning of a story to the end. Every now and then, a scene pops into my mind out of order and I quickly type it up so I don’t forget it, but usually I type my stories in order. So, you can imagine my surprise when I recently typed the final chapter of my latest work in progress… at least five chapters early. I’ve never known what was going to happen so soon into the writing process. To be perfectly honest, I’m excited and a bit weirded out. I’m not sure I want to know the ending so soon… I’m not sure how I feel about it, other than to know that it is the right ending for this particular book. I don’t even know how we get there yet. But, I have a feeling its going to be a crazy, exciting, and bumpy ride. I can’t wait to share this adventure with all of you.

Everdal Update #6…

Update #6 March 31, 2021

GENRE: YA/NA Fantasy
Status: Writing First Draft
Days in current Status: 65
Days of actual writing: 14
Current Word Count: 33,560
Current Chapter Count Complete: 15
NEXT STEPS: Complete first draft - Estimated completion date: 5/31/2021

A Month of Excuses!

If I had a dollar for every excuse I made not to write over the past month… Well, I’d have a lot of dollars.

  • Work Deadlines
  • Kid Commitments
  • Home Owner Obligations
  • Wifely Responsibilities
  • To Tired
  • I Need to Exercise
  • To Much Computer Time
  • I Have to Cook

No More Excuses!

They say that you are more likely to reach your goals if you write them down and share them with others. Unfortunately, that didn’t work for me… I missed my writing deadline of March 31st (today). But, I don’t give up so easily. I’m setting a new deadline and this time it will stick. Come hell or high water! I will have the first draft of Everdal done by May 31, 2021. I hope each and every one of you reading this, will hold me to it. Comment below… message me… email me (… Tweet me @Nina_Soden… tag me on Instagram Nina_Soden… just find a way to let me know you are pushing me to reach this goal. Sometimes it takes outside inspiration and motivation. Sometimes it just takes finding an extra thirty minutes in a day. I think I need a little of both. Ok, no more slaking… I’m going to go put in an hour of writing and try to get another 1,000 words in before I stop for the night.

Everdal Update #5…

Image by MattHrusc from Pixabay.

Update #5 March 17, 2021

GENRE: YA/NA Fantasy
Status: Writing First Draft
Days in current Status: 51
Days of actual writing: 13
Current Word Count: 30,891
Current Chapter Count Complete: 15
NEXT STEPS: Complete first draft - Estimated completion date: 3/31/2021


Ever feel like time is running out? Yeah, me too!

The good thing is, I created my own deadline for this project. Sure, I still want to reach the goal of having my first draft written by March 31st, but if I don’t reach it… I can always push the deadline date.

A glimpse into the life of Celeste Amora Stevenson Dupont

When your life has been turned upside down, but prom is just around the corner, you sneak away to find the perfect dress… one fit for a princess!

Everdal Update #4…

Update #4 February 27, 2021

GENRE: YA/NA Fantasy
Status: Writing First Draft
Days in current Status: 34
Days of actual writing: 10
Current Word Count: 26,519
Current Chapter Count Complete: 14
NEXT STEPS: Complete first draft - Estimated completion date: 3/31/2021

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t get nearly as much done as I had hoped I would since the last update, but the crazy winter storm that hit the Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and who knows were else kind of made it hard. My family and I went to California for a four day weekend and ended up getting stuck in San Diego for a full week, unable to get a flight home. I wrote a total of ZERO WORDS while I was gone. I decided the enjoy the family time instead of worrying about my word count. But, I am back on track and I am still aiming for March 31st as a first draft due date. Keep me in your prayers.

In the meantime, check out the fun photos from my trip!

#Theredheadedauthor Presents the November 2020 New York Times TOP 10 Best Sellers – YOUNG ADULT

As an avid reader of fiction (and an author who one day hopes to make the list) I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE checking out the New York Times Best Seller list. So, here it is… The independently ranked top 10 Young Adult selections for November 2020!

If you’ve read any of the TOP 10 selections and recommend them, please comment below and let me know. If you see something you like and plan to pick up a copy, you can do so by clicking on the cover image, the title or the [BUY IT HERE] button.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

#1 The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

A 16-year-old girl sees a police officer killer her friend.

#2 Stamped

by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

An exploration of racism and anti-racism in America.

#3 A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

by Holly Jackson

While trying to solve a murder-suicide case for her senior project, Pip now finds her life in jeopardy.

#4 Hocus Pocus and The All-New Sequel

by A.W. Jantha

Poppy fights to save her family from the Sanderson sisters.

#5 All This Time

by Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott

Two teenagers suffering from loss find healing in each other.

#6 Punching The Air

by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison, Amal uses the freedom of art to overcome his incarceration.

#7 One Of Us Is Lying

by Karen M. McManus

For five students, a detour into detention ends in murder.

#8 The Black Kids

by Christina Hammonds Reed

A wealthy Black teen’s life is shaken up during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

#9 The Lost Book of the White

by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

Magnus and Alec must retrieve the Book of the White, which is stolen from their apartment.

#10 Dear Justyce

by Nic Stone

Quan, an incarcerated 16-year-old, takes solace in correspondence with his friend Justyce.

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