Meet Author Carmilla Voiez #giveaway

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

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

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

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

To find out more, visit her website at www.carmillavoiez.com.

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An interview with Carmilla Voiez

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

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

What are some of your pet peeves?

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

How to find time to write as a parent?

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

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Gothic, feminist, thoughtful, empathetic, socialist.

What can we expect from you in the future?

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

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

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

What are your top 10 favorite authors?

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

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

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

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

Silence, so I can hear the voices clearly.

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

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


Meet Author Faith Marlow #giveaway

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

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

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

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

To find out more, visit her website at www.faithmarlow.com

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An interview with Faith Marlow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A day in the life of the author?

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

What do you do to unwind and relax?

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

What inspired you to write this book?,

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

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

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

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

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

What makes a good story?

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

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

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


Meet Author Lea Falls

Author Interview w/ Lea Falls!

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

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

What is something unique/quirky about you?

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

What are some of your pet peeves?

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

Where were you born/grew up at?

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

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

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

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

What kind of world ruler would you be?

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

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

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

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

What book do you think everyone should read?

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

How long have you been writing?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you see writing as a career?

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

What do you think about the current publishing market?

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

What are you passionate about these days?

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

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

What do you do to unwind and relax?

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

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

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

Do you have a favorite movie?

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

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

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

What inspired you to write this book?

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

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

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

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

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

What can we expect from you in the future?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who designed your book covers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you written any other books that are not published?

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

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

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

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

What did you edit out of this book?

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

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

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Meet Author Kelly Pawlik

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

So, what’s the deal with “The Link?”

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

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

Why the 80s?

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

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

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

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

What are your favorite things about the 80s?

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite scene in Yesterday’s Gone?

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

What is your favorite scene in Songs from the Wood?

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

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

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

Who designed your book covers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you enjoy most about writing this series?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to find time to write as a parent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Mother, RPG lover, mediocre gardener

What can we expect from you in the future?

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

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

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

Do you believe in writer’s block?

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

What are you currently reading?

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

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

What makes a good story?

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

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Cruising on Ice by Kerry Evelyn #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.

Cruising on Ice (Palmer City Voltage Book 1) by Kerry Evelyn

Genre: Sweet Friends-to-Lovers Hockey Romance

It’s true that hockey players break hearts.
Sometimes, it’s their own.

Taylor Ranford has three immediate goals: have a blast on her birthday cruise with her sister, help Team USA win the international cheerleading title, and earn enough money to put her through grad school. Not part of the plan: her sister getting sick and sending her best friend—and Taylor’s longtime crush—in her place. She can’t face the only guy she’s ever had feelings for treating her like she’s his little sister when she really wants so much more.

After a big blow to his career—and his ego—and with no immediate plans for the next season, Kingston Brewer jumps at the opportunity to go on a last-minute cruise with the bouncy-ponytailed cheerleading coach. Taylor had always been there when he needed her most, and he holds a soft spot for her in his heart. But after a few days on the ship, Kingston begins to see Taylor as more than just his best friend’s little sister.

Just when he thinks they can explore a future together, Kingston gets THE call from his agent. Now he has to make one of the most difficult choices in his personal and professional life. Will he give up the professional chance of a lifetime for a chance with the girl he’s fallen head-over-skates for?

Add to Goodreads * Amazon * B&N * Kobo * Smashwords

Kerry Evelyn is a native of the Massachusetts SouthCoast. She loves God, books of all kinds, traveling, taking selfies, sweet drinks, boy bands, and escaping into her imagination, where every child is happy and healthy, every house has a library, and her hubby wears coattails and a top hat 24/7.She is an instructor, mentor, and speaker, author of the Crane’s Cove series, small town romance set in Downeast Maine a Guest Author for the Cat’s Paw Cove Romance world, and several short stories.

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


Win a hockey-themed swag bundle with a $25 Amazon gift card!

Includes: $25 Amazon gift card, cheer bow, sea-themed journal, Sea World shell ornament, bottle of seashells, anchor-shaped soap, mermaid magnet, Seaworld playing cards, Dream Big ornament, Orlando Solar Bears towel, Happy Planner notebook, desk hockey game, Bolts trading card, Take a Shot! glass, Palmer City Voltage puck and magnet, NHL Fresh Ice wax melts, and an I Love Hockey sticker.

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

I am happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about Cruising On Ice by Kerry Evelyn.

Meet Author Laurisa White Reyes

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

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

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SAND AND SHADOW by Laurisa White Reyes

Tell us about Sand and Shadow.

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

What inspired you to write Sand and Shadow?

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

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

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

What was the writing process like for this book?

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

Besides writing, how do you spend your time?

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

What sorts of books do you enjoy reading?

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

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Lilies of the Field by William E. Barrett

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

What do you enjoy most about writing?

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

What kind of research goes into your writing?

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


Meet Author Katherine H. Brown

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

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An Interview With The Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does your writing process look like?

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

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

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

*Prize #1:*

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

*Prize #2:*

Bookmarks and an ebook of The Lady and the Leprechaun

*Prize #3:*

$10 Amazon gift card


Strangers’ Kingdom by Brandon Barrows #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.

Strangers’ Kingdom by Brandon Barrows ~ Genre: Mystery

Politically blacklisted detective Luke Campbell’s last chance in law-enforcement is a job with the police department of rural Granton, Vermont. It’s a beautiful town, home to a beautiful, intriguing girl who’s caught his eye, and it’s a chance at redemption. Even if his new boss seems strange, secretive, and vaguely sinister, Campbell is willing to give this opportunity a shot. And no sooner does he make that decision than the first in a series of murders is discovered, starting a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone in this once-quiet town.

Goodreads * Amazon

Brandon Barrows is the award-nominated authors of the novels Burn Me Out and This Rough Old World as well as over fifty published stories, selected of which have been collected into the books The Altar in the Hills and The Castle-Town Tragedy.

He is also the writer of nearly one-hundred individual comic book issues.

He is an active member of both the Private Eye Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.

Website * Twitter * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Would you like a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Hi. I’m Brandon Barrows. Maybe we’ve met before. Maybe you know me from my previous novel Burn Me Out, or from stories of mine that have appeared in various magazines and anthologies. Burn Me Out and many of those stories are lodged firmly in the noir category of crime fiction, so Strangers’ Kingdom is something a little different for me: a true mystery. It’s also a police procedural set in rural Vermont, which was harder to write than it sounds.

So it’s something different for me as a writer. So what, you might think. Well, I’ll tell you: because it’s a novel I put a tremendous amount of effort, heart, and hopefully you’ll agree, soul into that I know you’ll enjoy.

Let’s start with the basics – the blurb.

Politically blacklisted detective Luke Campbell’s last chance in law-enforcement is a job with the police department of rural Granton, Vermont. It’s a beautiful town, home to a beautiful, intriguing girl who’s caught his eye, and it’s a chance at redemption. Even if his new boss seems strange, secretive, and vaguely sinister, Campbell is willing to give this opportunity a shot. And no sooner does he make that decision than the first in a series of murders is discovered, starting a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone in this once-quiet town…

How does that grab you? Interested in knowing a little more, hopefully?

Well, the setting came first. While the town of Granton is fictional, the area where the book is set, Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, is very real. In fact, it’s where my mother grew up and a place I still have family. Being in a sort of triangle between two states and Canada, there’s a lot that goes on up there, probably more than we’ll ever know. Despite everything that can happen in such a setting, though, for most people, a rural town is a very small world and that’s certainly true of the main character, Luke Campbell. Luke grew up in Vermont, but lived most of his adult life in Albany, New York before coming to Granton. Because of that, it’s less a homecoming for him than it is a brand-new world, something both he as the protagonist and I, as the writer, were continually discovering while I wrote it.

So why a police procedural mystery? Truthfully, it didn’t start out that way. It began as a rural noir, like many of my short stories, but I discovered early on that it just wasn’t working for me. I couldn’t tell the story the way it needed to be told if I stuck to that and I liked the ideas I had for this book so much, I wasn’t willing to create something I felt inferior, so I played around with the format, switched it up, and ended up creating an entirely new protagonist to go along with the new format.

And you know, I really liked Luke Campbell, right from the start. He’s had a rough go of it, and he’s still trying to make the best of it, while going out of his way to help people—like a lonely, bullied little boy and his mother, both of him Luke comes to care about deeply—even though he’s got every right to be bitter about his situation.

Of course, he’s just one of the characters, but he is the main character and I like to think he both embodies the central theme of the novel and recognizes it for himself in the course of the work: that there are no “bad guys” or “good guys” out there, just people. Everyone does terrible things at some point in their life—whether intentionally or not—and not one of us is completely “bad”. Everyone is just trying to get along and do the best they can. Sometimes we fail at that. There are certainly criminals in this novel, but everyone in it is guilty to some extent and everyone has their good qualities, too. I always try to infuse my work with emotion, and this is something that really hit me as I was writing Strangers’ Kingdom, so I hope it’s something that comes across to you, the readers.

As I said, this is a book I put a lot of effort into. It took me nearly three years, off and on, to write – longer than any of my other novels, by far. But it was worth it. I’m very happy with it and I hope you will be, too. So do us both a favor and give it a read, will you? If you like mysteries, crime, and small-town stories about people doing their best I know you’ll love it as much as I do.

I am happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about Strangers’ Kingdom by Brandon Barrows.

Meet Author Kerry Evelyn!

Kerry Evelyn is a native of the Massachusetts SouthCoast. She loves God, books of all kinds, traveling, taking selfies, sweet drinks, boy bands, and escaping into her imagination, where every child is happy and healthy, every house has a library, and her hubby wears coattails and a top hat 24/7.She is an instructor, mentor, and speaker, author of the Crane’s Cove series, small town romance set in Downeast Maine a Guest Author for the Cat’s Paw Cove Romance world, and several short stories.

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


How long have you been writing?

All my life! I started writing novels in October of 2015. I was challenged to write and finish a book. I didn’t finish that first one, but the second one, Love on the Edge published in December 2017, and I haven’t stopped since!

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

I do! I read pretty much everything except horror and erotica. I also write widely—my imagination is all over the place, and I keep the stories fresh and interesting by writing them differently. But almost all of my books connect to each other.

Advice you would give new authors?

  • Read dozens of books in the genre you want to write so you can get a feel for the structure and nuances. Readers have expectations, and if your romance doesn’t have a happily-every-after, or you kill off a pet or child, or you miss certain story beats, it’s going to feel off to the reader. We are wired for story, and the brain science of it is fascinating. I recommend Story Genius by Lisa Cron. She breaks it down and explains it. So fascinating!
  • Join a professional writer’s group. Plug into a writing community, preferably in your genre, and learn from people who are at the various stages you will be hitting on your way to your goals.
  • Take a LOT of writing classes. Books are great, but you need live instruction and critical feedback from people who know what they’re doing. Ask questions, be brave and share your work for feedback—you’ll learn a lot!
  • Attend reader and writer conferences. Meet people, network, and spend time with the authors who are where you want to be.
  • NEVER ask for free advice or to pick someone’s brain, UNLESS you have already established a friendship. Our time and hard-earned knowledge is valuable. We want to give back, but we’re selective because we repeat the same things over and over and only a fraction of prospective authors ever listen. Most authors charge consulting fees. Ask about that. I suggest reading one of the author’s books before starting a conversation, unless you want to hire the author, then just book and appointment.
  • Have thick skin. Don’t take criticism personally. We all start out as immature writes, and we get better with time.
  • Remember, not everyone is your audience. The trick is to find the right audience for your story. When you do, magic happens, and the love fest begins (from both sides)!

 What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Reading too many how-to books. Every writer’s process is different. I suggest experimenting with processes that interest you on short stories. Then, when you find a groove, write a longer story. The short, if it relates to the novel, can be used as a reader magnet to build your newsletter list prior to your book’s publication. Then, you’ll have hundreds or thousands of potential buyers on release day!

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Big revisions! If I have to delete or move something I am attached to, I put if off as long as I can.

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

Start sooner and save EVERYTHING! Do not quit that writing class before the last assignment just because you’re moving out of state. Push though and FINISH. And don’t wait 13 years to get back to it!

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

Writing guys can be hard. I have to put myself in their heads – and that can be a scary place, haha!!

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

Depending on the length, 2-3 months for the first draft. Then 2-3 more months of critique partners, beta readers and editors before it’s ready to be published.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes, and no. I do get stuck. The fix is knowing your characters. If you know what’s going to harm them or trip them up, send that thing their way. They’ll keep busy for awhile trying to work it out!

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always been a hockey fan.  No Sweet 16 party for me – I dragged my friends to a hockey game! Several of the players were friends of mine, and I loved to watch them play. When I moved to Florida, I couldn’t find anyone to go to games with me. It was such a bummer! A couple years ago, I decided to write a short romance story, Love on the Ice, and during my research I discovered hockey romance was thing! I read a Kat Mizera book and was hooked! That story went on to become finalist in the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Awards and is my bestseller to date. It was time to make it into a series!

What can we expect from you in the future?

I read wide, and I write wide! This fall, look for How to Binge Write Your Novel from Writers’ Atelier Books and The Believer’s Journal for Everyday Faith from Orange Blossom Publishing. This holiday season I’ll release the next Palmer City Voltage Book, Christmas on Ice. A Voltage novella, Breaking the Ice, will be featured in the Late to Love, a Charity Anthology next February. All proceeds go to support my friend Teri, who helps run the Space Coast Book Lovers conference every summer, on her breast cancer journey. Twenty-five authors who know and love her are getting together for this one. You don’t want to miss it!

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

So many! My characters are constantly making appearances in others’ books!

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Cruising on Ice? How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?

My daughter has been asking me for years why I haven’t written a cheer story. We both love the sport, and Taylor has been in my head for a long time. As has Kingston—he was a side character in Love on the Ice, and I developed him completely when I wrote that story. I thought the two of them would be good together, as more than friends, and it was time to write their book. Since cheer comp season ends around the time of the hockey playoffs, I knew it would have to take place over the summer. The idea to put them on a cruise ship came to me when I was planning one of our family cruises. Their room has the layout our family had on the Disney Dream, and I pulled my favorite things from other ships, like the ice rink.

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

They just popped into my head! Poof! I rarely have trouble naming characters. They come to me with names and backstories all the time!

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Everything! It was so fun to bring these two characters to life on a cruise vacation! It made for some many romantic moments, and I also really love writing hockey scenes.

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

It was originally On the Edge. My characters were dealing with PTSD and staying at resort called the Cliff Walk in Downeast, Maine. A main scene takes place near the edge of a cliff. I loved that “edge” represented many things in the story. However, that title didn’t hint at the genre. While at an industry conference in July 2017, I mentioned that to my favorite Regency author, Anabelle Bryant, and she suggested simply adding Love to the title. So, Love on the Edge it became!

Who designed your book covers?

Chris Kridler of SkyDiary Productions did my Palmer City Voltage covers. Aren’t they gorgeous?

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

Nope! I love every word I wrote in Cruising on Ice! The freedom of publishing it myself come s with hiring an editing team that helps my vision come to life instead of trying to fit it to what’s trending in the market. Also, I love my ensemble cast! If I’d have pubbed it traditionally, I’m sure many of my side characters would have been cut.

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

I learned how much I didn’t know about hockey! I had the sport down but the contracts and expansion draft minutia – yeeesh! Luckily, I have some superfan friends and dear friend in the Florida Panthers organization who helped me get it all right. My Panther guy was especially helpful with the epilogue scene logistics, and when I sent him the finished version, he loved it!  it was an awesome moment for me

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

Oh, gosh—great question! I’m not sure, but I’d definitely want actors who could skate and fly in cheer stunts!

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

Please leave a review! Reviews let authors know what you loved, what you didn’t, how to improve, if you identified with a character, and the impact it had on you. No need to summarize—we just want to know how it made you feel. The quantity of reviews helps us sell more books, and your words help us keep writing, even on the hardest days.

How did you come up with name of this book?

I wanted “ice” to be in the title to keep the branding consistent. The original title was Love Off the Ice to mirror the prequel Love on the Ice, but I changed it as I developed the series.

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

Oh gosh…so many favorite parts! The game show, where Kingston and Taylor feel that warm and fuzzy shift…their first kiss…the epilogue…yeah, definitely the epilogue!

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

I would love to have a VIP pass to the arena to watch Kingston play! I could sit with Taylor and the Wags (wives and girlfriends) and cheer my heart out!

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

Entirely from my own imagination! However, I did pull some traits and memories from hockey players and cheerleaders I’ve known over the years. I was a cheerleader in high school, and when our hockey team advanced to the state championship, we rode on the bus with them. I will never forget the stench riding home with that equipment! My daughter did all-star cheer for several years, and we spent a lot of time watching all the teams practice and perform. Two of her tumbling coaches were on the 2019 USA cheer team, and several cheered in college. They were amazing and inspirational. One of my friends makes cheer bows, and she was especially helpful with developing Taylor’s business.

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

Oh no—no matter how much I plot and plan, they do what they please, and I love being surprised!

Have you written any other books that are not published?

Just one! The first book I started back in 2015 was a World War 2 historical. I entered it into a contest and scored super high, but I got stuck on a few plot points that weren’t realistic. I do plan to go back to it someday, when the time is right.

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

Ocean Breeze! But I also have a very cool set of wax melts called Fresh Ice that smells like a rink!

What did you edit out of this book?

A lot of backstory and description! If you have any questions about anything, blame my editors for making me cut it! Haha, just kidding! Without them, the pacing of the book would have been much slower. I love how they guide me in the sculpting and polishing of my stories!

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

I would love to chat with Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables. She made a living as a writer a century ago, and wrote what she referred to as “bread and butter” stories to pay the bills. I can’t seem to find the discipline to write anything I’m not excited about, and would love to know how she did it, and did it so well.

What are your favorite hockey teams?

My favorite teams are the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and my hometown Orlando Solar Bears!

Do you have a favorite hockey player?

Don’t laugh, but my assistant asked that question recently, and I named off 15 players! Here they are, in ABC order by last name: Noel Acciari, Ray Bourque, Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde, Wayne Gretzky, Spencer Knight, David Krejci, Nikita Kucherov, Pat Maroon, Cam Neely, Bobby Orr, David Pastrnak, Brayden Point, Luc Robitaille, and Tyler Seguin.

How did you choose your pen name?

My grandmother, Evelyn, was my best friend and greatest encourager. She died while I was writing my first book. Now our names are linked together on books, swag, social media; everywhere! I miss her so much.

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

I’ve been an avid reader since I borrowed Boy Crazy Stacy from my friend Kate in fourth grade! I’ve always been a writer; at three years old I wrote letters to my nana in heaven. By middle school, Zelda inspired me to draw my own fairyland maps and write stories about the characters who lived there. In high school, I wrote a children’s book and wrote for the school paper, and was co-editor for a year. I wrote feature articles for my college’s newspaper, and when I graduated, I wrote children’s stories for the kids in my elementary school classes. I was always the one to offer to write the newsletter in the groups I belonged to. But it wasn’t until 2015 I decided to give writing a novel a go. I always wanted to, but I lacked the skills and confidence to do it. When I was challenged to put on my big-girl pants and butt-kickin’ boots and do it already, I decided to take some classes and give it a try. Six years later, I’ve published eight novels and over a dozen short stories. I pinch myself daily.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

I put ketchup on my mac-n-cheese. I really love the tomatoey sweetness on melted cheddar. It’s not so weird, I think – lost of people put ketchup on cheeseburgers, haha!

What is your biggest pet peeve?

People who drive in the rain without their lights on. It’s the only way to see a white car in a snowstorm and a silver car in a steamy Florida summer deluge!

Where were you born/grew up at?

I grew up in Dartmouth, on the SouthCoast of Massachusetts. It’s a charming college town on Buzzards Bay, halfway between Providence Rhode Island Cape Cod. It’s got everything – farms, a state park, beautiful beaches, a mall, and Padanaram, a gorgeous historical village right on the water. Across the peninsula is Clark’s Cove and the city of New Bedford where I lived and taught elementary school for a couple years. The Covewalk, “floating” lighthouse, and coastal geography partially inspired my fictional town of Crane’s Cove.

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

If I was healthy, I’d take everyone I knew to Disney World and spend the day soaking in all the magic, until the last firework fizzled out. If I was bed-ridden, I’d want to be on a balcony overlooking the ocean, with my family and friends holding my hands and praying over me, and drift off to the peaceful sounds of the waves.

What kind of world ruler would you be?

I’m a Hufflepuff, so I’d need a second-in-command to keep me from ruling with my emotions, which would end in disaster.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I like to just sit. With a book, with a drink, with a person, with my laptop or notebook, etc. Just sit and enjoy the peace of being content.

How to find time to write as a parent?

Every year has been different! At first, I’d write while my kids were napping or after they went to bed. Then, while they were at school. Now I’m the study hall monitor at their school, and I get a lot of writing done while I’m watching the kids!

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Takes the road less traveled! I never do anything status quo. I felt Dumbledore’s words when he spoke about choosing what is right versus what is easy.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve been writing my whole life. I had work published in high school publications and wrote for the school newspaper and became co-editor-in-chief my junior-senior year. I always thought I would go into journalism, but it was too heart-wrenching for me. I wrote feature articles for my college paper, and took a children’s writing course when I graduated. Teaching elementary school gave me a ton of opportunities to make up stories and curriculum, and for a while it was enough. In 2015, after being challenged at a conference, I decided to finally write that novel I’d always aspired to create.

Do you have a favorite movie?

Depends on the day! My top two are The Sound of Music and Gone with the Wind!

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

Oh, any of them! They’re all such feel-good stories. But I think Love on the Edge would do the best in the theaters. The added element of suspense combined with my characters’ emotional wounds and kickass determination to get the bag guy would translate awesomely to film!

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Every place I travel to is a literary pilgrimage! If it’s not a place I’ve already written, I treat it as a future setting. I read all the things, visit all the things that interest me, and make note of everything I love about it for possible future reference.

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

Definitely a swan! My grandmother, Evelyn loved swans. They’re beautiful, full of grace, and mate for life. Perfect for a romance novelist!

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Meet Authors Dana Bowen and Chloe Brogan

Dana and Chloe grew up in rural Ohio, and sparked a close friendship in the summer of 2019. When the Pandemic hit in 2020 they saw it as an opportunity to be adventurous. As two young moms, they spent months finding creative outlets through baking and art, but they were running out of things to do. So, when Dana came to Chloe one Friday over coffee and suggested they write a book — it seemed like the next logical step in their endeavors to use their time at home to pursue something they’d always dreamed of doing. The two discovered quickly that they made a great pair, and the story spun itself together almost overnight. The pair plan to keep up the momentum as Indie Authors, exploring all subgenres of romance in their coming stories.

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

Chloe and I became friends back in 2019. Our husbands were friends, and after some poking and prodding from my husband we went over to their house one night to play boardgames. Then maybe a week or so later, Chloe and I got to talking, and ended up having coffee together. And that was about it. Since then we weathered a pandemic together, and a whole year of homeschooling our kids. I’ve been eternally grateful for her friendship over the last few years.

Back in December of 2020 I was actually spending an afternoon with my cousin and she and I got to talking about my old habits of writing terribly cringy short stories. After she and I talked, I got to thinking and googling how to write a book. It seemed like a crazy idea, but it had been months of staying inside due to Covid and I felt like I was losing grip on the things that brought me joy to do. After having small children, most of my hobbies had gone out the window.

I remember it was a Friday afternoon in December, and I walked into Chloe’s house, plopped down on her couch and told her that I wanted to write a book– and I wanted her to help me. I’m very aware of the fact Chloe thought I was a little nuts, but she jumped on board with me almost immediately.

I think that night she and I wrote the first 3 Chapters together, and we had an outline for the first 6. Somewhere in the mess of things about a month later we realized we actually might have a story coming together. After a conversation we had about how far we were going to take this whole writing thing we actually got down to business. We created an actual concrete outline and a character bible. We started talking to people about our ideas, and let some of our friends and family read our first draft. It didn’t fully sink in what was happening though until we found our editor, and actually started shaping our story into something real.

I can honestly say I’ve loved every minute of working with Chloe on this, and I can’t wait to bring the rest of our works out into the open here soon.

Advice for New Authors?

As a new Author myself? Don’t let perfect get in the way of good. It’s something my Mother tells me all the time. It’s one of the reasons superman movies don’t sell well. Perfection is impossible. Making sure everything is perfect is impossible. We love flaws the human race loves to be validated. We might have one typo but it doesn’t ruin the message of our whole book. We will do better, grow, and learn and so will you.

Chasing Catherine, our protagonist is running from perfection and the lies that surround it. Perfect is impossible but Good is real raw and obtainable. I think for our antagonist Marcus that his fatal flaw is he and everything around him has to be perfect. Don’t fall into that trap or that book you wrote will never get published and you will pick at it on and off for years telling yourself you’ll publish when it’s perfect. Which it will never be perfect and so it will never be published. Take the leap go with the good.

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

D: I’ve always had a love for reading and writing–and with Covid kind of messing up everything I thought I wanted from the next few years of my life–it seemed like a solid logical thing to try. After holding a physical copy of Chloe and my book, I am sure it was the right thing to do.

C: I’ve always loved to write. I’ve always been a creative person. I get hit by imposter syndrome a lot and I feel like somehow I’m tricking everyone into liking me and my art. Which logically makes no sense but it’s such a real feeling. I wanted to write and leave my mark but was too scared. When Dana came to me and said hey “I wrote this will you read it” and it was a couple pages I wanted to do for her what I was scared to do for myself and supported her. Then when we started on chapter to she trusted me to write some and then believed in me and pushed me.

So long story short I’ve always wanted to and without Dana I wouldn’t have. I held our book for the first time a few days ago. While that uglly imposter syndrome tried to creep on me I know what we wrote was good and that it was the right decision and I can’t wait to do more.

A day in the life of the author?

D: I don’t think I’m quite at the point of considering myself an author. I don’t spend days and days writing at a time. My ‘Author Life’ looks a lot like me taking care of my kids and doing chores, then standing in the shower 15 minutes longer than I should have to type out the random idea I had for a book on my phone.

C: Are we author technically but financially we can’t make it our whole lives yet. So most days I spend homeschooling kids or wiping butts and then once the kids are asleep I blast some Lo-Fi hip hop and start writing.

Describe your writing style.

D: I don’t really know. Modern, descriptive, and slightly romantic.

C: I think my writing style can be very casual and I lean more towards comedy. I wonder if you all can pick who’s who from our book.

What makes a good story?

D: Passion. I don’t mean passion like romance specifically, I mean as an author you have to have some sort of passion for what you’re doing. You can have good ideas, but if you don’t feel a certain way about your setting, characters, or story, you won’t have a good story.

C:{Uh insert cheesy thing here} To be honest no matter what, to have a Good story you need a certain level of talent. My grandpa always said there some people who tell you “I got this bag from Kroger” then there are people you say “So you’re not going to believe this I was in Kroger today and they were out of tofu so I strolled around and from the corner of my eye I caught this beautiful man so I walked his way pretended I was shopping for book bags too and so I bought this book bag to get a guys number.”

What are they currently reading?

D: I’m currently reading two books. Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and A Week to be Wicked, by Tessa Dare.

C: I’ll be Gone in The Dark by Michelle McNamara and The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn. Honestly life is stranger than fiction for me.

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

D: I really like having a plan laid out before doing too much. I like making sure my characters are in order, and I like to have a general idea in place before diving too deep.

C: I will lay out something real basic then just word vomit.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

D: Mental Illness. Lol

C: Digging deep. I love writing the levity and comedy scenes, but I wrote a few scenes from Catherine’s point of view and had to face some of my own struggles while writing it and avoided writing the scene.

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

D: I think in Chasing Catherine I got everything I wanted the book to be. In some ways I know that we didn’t do things quite like everyone expected, but Chloe and I knew what we wanted.

C: I think we deliver what we want. We don’t have a following yet so for now we get to be raw and write for us. Who knows if we get famous maybe we have to be more conscious of what readers want but now it’s raw and real.

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

D: I would push my younger self to be fearless when writing a lot sooner. I think everything happens for a reason, and I don’t think I’d have published my book before now anyway. But I wish I wouldn’t have quieted this love for writing for so long. I told myself it was an impossible feat, but it turns out putting your work out there is way more possible than I let myself believe for a long time.

C: I agree with Dana. I think this book was meant to be our first book. I had a teacher who just didn’t like me. I excelled in language arts in school but she brow beat me into not believing in myself. I just want to show young Chloe we didn’t and we shouldn’t believe that teacher.

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

D: Chasing Catherine is a single POV, so we didn’t run into too many issues with that. But I have noticed in other things I’m working on, it’s hard to balance what people really think and do with what we can perceive from an outside view. But I’m not sure that’s a matter of gender. I think it’s when trying to write from any POV that isn’t your own. It’s just a lot of experimenting to figure out what feels right,

C: I 100% agree with Dana, it’s not so much gender but that person in particular may respond differently. We were working on a scene where someone is comforting Nathan. She felt that the should hug and do this or that. Nathan is raised catholic and physical touch would not be appropriate for him to be touched by a femme character or anyone because that’s not how within his culture he would associate in that way with a nonromantic partner who’s not family.

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

D: Alone it’s appearing to take me much longer. But together I think Chloe and I finished the first and second draft of this one and editing process in about 6 months.

C: For this book it was about 6 months. My solo project has taken me longer but our main focus has been this so that’s to be expected.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

D: Oh for sure. Lack of inspiration can be infuriating. Honestly it’s part of why I was so glad Chloe and I could do this together. Because there were nights where my brain just wouldn’t work and I could text her and tell her I was tapping out for the night, and Chloe would pick up where I left off without missing a beat.

C: I think mental health is a big player in writers block. So of course writers block is real. I’m really glad we were able to tag team this book and tag out if we needed.

What book do you think everyone should read?

D: I think everyone should read George Orwell’s 1984, and anything by Ted Dekker.

C: I think The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, it’s just a favorite of mine.

How long have you been writing?

D: creatively and for myself I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I started writing poetry and short stories in elementary school, and was always filling notebooks with book ideas. But this is my first actual work that I’ve published.

C: Dana and I have similar writing stories a lot privately to keep to ourselves. My love of reading really pushed that creative side of me. Without Dana I don’t think I would’ve ever had the courage to actually get something published.

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

D: In my experience so far, characters seem to come as needed. Whether it’s during the initial outline process where you’re deciding what’s going to happen in the book; or when you’re in the midst of a draft and decide you need things said that a certain person needs to say. We didn’t originally give Nathan’s family a ton of depth, but after writing the first draft it became apparent we needed them for Nathan’s backstory to have real depth.

C: I think our character came to us as we needed when we started writing all we had was Darby (What Dana OG named Catherine) Then Darby became Catherine and the man in the distance became Nathan.

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

D: Aside from the initial googling I did on how to write up a Character bible and a book outline, I didn’t do much research. We kept things pretty familiar–drawing a lot of scenery and dialogue from what we knew.

C:Most of our research was done during, to make sure we had some accuracy.

Do you see writing as a career?

D: I honestly really want it to be a career. I have more stories to tell!

C: I would love if we really were able to keep doing this. I love every second of it and want this to be my life forever.

What do you think about the current publishing market?

D: I think that the ease behind self publishing is both fantastic and horrible. I think everyone has a story to tell, and everyone should get to have their voice, but as a self-published author it is incredibly hard to make it. Big publishing firms are looking for the next Harry Potter or Fifty Shades of Grey, and it’s really hard as a small author to compete with huge companies.

C:I think self publishing is a gift and a curse. We can get our story out with out paying an arm and a leg for an agent but it’s impossible to compete with the reach of a publishing company.

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

D: I love reading. But I am a genre jumper. I don’t have just one I love. As a kid I read mostly classics. I loved Treasure Island, and Romeo and Juliet. As a teen I read a lot of fantasy, and YA books. As an adult I love romance, mystery/thriller, and true crime.

C:I have loved reading forever, its been a safe haven for me as long as I can remember. Growing up poor books gave me the things I could never have. I love all genres honestly I currently mostly read biographies.

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

D: My poor ADHD brain doesn’t know what it wants, I do best with minimal distractions, but if it’s too quiet my mind wanders.

C: I think being a parent means silence isn’t even an option.

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

D: Currently I’m working on the second book for this series, a shorter Novella type story with Amber, and a few other things.

C: Currently I have few projects going dana has a few projects we have a few together.

Pen or type writer or computer?

D: For a long time I always wrote on pen and paper. But for ease while trying to write professionally, and with another person it makes the most sense to share a google doc with Chloe.

C:I use to prefer pen and paper but I’ve become quite fond of typing on the computer through this process.

Tell us about a favorite character from a book.

D: I have two. Eleanor from Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. To this day that whole book is a favorite, and should be on everyone’s reading list. And as a kid I idolized Arya from the The Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini. They are both amazing female characters. 

C: I’ve mostly been reading biographies and nonfiction. To pull back from my brain of characters I love a lot fall under the John green Manic Pixie girl like Alaska from Looking For Alaska.

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

I think there is actually a lot to say for this, more than just a rapid fire interview question. We have a very deep connection to this book. When we started out to write this story, it was a bit of a joke. We started writing with all of the classic tropes in mind. Girl meets boy, boy fixes all of her problems, and they live happily ever after.

But something that has been so treasured through this writing experience is how many other forms of love come in this novel. I remember sitting with Chloe sometime after we had really gotten into writing our second draft, and we were trying to think of a name for the book. We dug through a laundry list pile of book names that we either randomly generated or took from key words in the book. But none of them seemed to truly fit with what we wanted to express.

When we spent some time looking through the themes of our book, it became quickly obvious that we had so much more in between the pages than just steamy romance. While steamy romance is amazing and so much fun to write, we really wanted to drive home what it looks like to experience loving relationships with family and friends as well. I think true, loving platonic relationships aren’t showcased enough in literature as it is. And true passion for someone can extend farther than stolen kisses and bedroom eyes. We all love a good whirlwind romance, but my true love for our story lies in Catherine’s relationship with Cici, Amber, and Meghan.

People experience all kinds of love throughout their lives. Familial love, friendly love, and romantic love. Catherine is lifted by the people around her for the first time in her life. It’s an incredibly healing experience to bear your soul to people and have them love you unconditionally. And sometimes it’s those people around you that help you learn to love yourself. A great deal can be said for pursuing your own life, thoughts, and dreams with the support of the important people around you. It was so important by the end of our story that we showed Catherine choosing to chase herself for probably the first time in her life.

I think our book is a must read because of those things. I want people to see the healing that comes from being supported, and I want people to see that even when you’re faced with hard things, toxic people, and your own self doubt. There are people around you that will hold you up. There are people around you who will always help you succeed, and be the support you need. You just have to be willing to ask for help and look around. The world isn’t hopeless.

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