Ashlea Thompson ~ Author Interview

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

Check out our interview on YouTube:

Check out HER book below!

(Click on the cover image to order your copy)

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STEEL HEARTS by Ashlea Thompson

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


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Meet Author A.K. Smith #giveaway

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

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


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

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

What is something unique/quirky about you?

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

Where were you born/grew up at?

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

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

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

What are you passionate about these days?

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

What do you do to unwind and relax?

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

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

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

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

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

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

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

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

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

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

What book do you think everyone should read?

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

How long have you been writing?

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

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

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

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

Do you see writing as a career?

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

What do you think about the current publishing market?

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

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

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

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pen or type writer or computer?

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

A day in the life of the author?

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

Advice they would give new authors?

 Don’t give up, keep writing

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

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

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you believe in writer’s block?

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

What inspired you to write Pseudocide

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

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

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

What can we expect from you in the future?

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

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

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

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

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

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

A young Miley Cyrus type actress would be perfect.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

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

How did you come up with name of this book?

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

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you like a chance to win an eBook of A Deep Thing and a $25 Amazon gift card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

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


Anna Stewart ~ Author Interview

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

Check out our interview on YouTube:

Check out BRIDE ON THE RUN below!

(Click on the cover image to order your copy)

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

BRIDE ON THE RUN

Finding true love…
In the unlikeliest places!

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


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Meet Author Gretchen S.B.

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

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


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

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

What is something unique/quirky about you?

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

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Halloween loving, world creating, kook

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

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

Do you have a favorite movie?

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

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

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

What inspired you to write Book Burgling Blood – Magic?

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

What can we expect from you in the future?

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

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

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

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

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

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

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

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

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

How long have you been writing?

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

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

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

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

Do you see writing as a career?

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

What do you think about the current publishing market?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice they would give new authors?

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

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

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

What is your writing Kryptonite?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you believe in writer’s block?

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

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Meet Authors Lauren Sevier & A. Smith

Lauren Sevier & A. Smith are long time friends and co-authors from southern Louisiana. Guns & Smoke, their first joint publication, began as a “short” story after having too much wine on girl’s night. Nine years later it is now the first novel in a Dystopian/Western Romance series. The duo has plans to publish several series together in the future. A. Smith spends her time with her two rescue dogs and rescue cat surrounding herself with books and Labyrinth paraphernalia. Lauren Sevier collects antique tea cups and tries to stay sane, though as the mother of a toddler she fails brilliantly most days. She also has a growing collection of crowns and tiaras and likes to act silly on Tiktok. Look for more thrilling novels from The Fools Adventure series in the future!

Lauren’s Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads

A. Smith’s Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram  * Amazon * Goodreads


An Interview With A. Smith

Describe your writing style. Generally speaking, I have a really lyrical and emotionally grounded writing style. It’s more pronounced in my solo works like my debut YA Fantasy novel ‘Songs Of Autumn’, but there’s a definite lyrical quality to the sections I write. I’m a fan of alliteration with purpose and finding almost musical beats in storytelling. I think just like the composition of a great song, story structure is very similar and that probably has something to do with it.

What makes a good story? Relatable characters with flaws and realistic stakes. I read somewhere that a problem a character can walk away from is a book a reader can put down and I don’t think I’ve ever felt any piece of writing advice so acutely before. The characters don’t necessarily have to be likeable, but they should be relatable. What’s more relatable than a person who isn’t perfect struggling with a problem that seems overwhelming or impossible to solve? I think I’ve felt that way in my own life so often that it just makes sense to me that other people will have too.

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers? I am notoriously bad at outlining and having any sort of plan whatsoever when writing. Abbie is actually the one of us who keeps me in line and on track. She usually helps keep timelines on track, and points out when a character’s perspective is missing. Or when we need to accomplish actual plot things in a chapter instead of it being all fluff and nonsense. Honestly, our readers should thank her for the fact that the book isn’t just an absolute mess. LOL! No, but really, drafting for me is all about discovery writing, while editing is where I’m able to tame the story into a believable plot and really make it shine. Abbie helps us to stay on track so that we can draft cleaner and have less overhaul to do in the editing process.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? Personally, a bit of both. Just like in life, writing is all about balance. We’re conscious of reader expectations but still make decisions based on what feels right for the characters and the story. Overall, we want readers to be satisfied but sometimes that means making decisions that aren’t exactly what they expect. It’s that moment of ‘Oh, I didn’t see that coming’ that will help them keep turning pages and keep being invested in the tale we’re weaving. But to completely ignore your audience and the genre expectations is really just asking for poor reviews. So, we try to balance both as best as we can to deliver a novel that’s familiar but new at the same time. Something that peaks your interest but you can’t predict where it’s going to end up.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Lauren has always told me that I am really good at writing men. As a CIS woman, I think one of the most difficult things about writing male characters is getting into the little nuances of being a male that aren’t inherently female. For example, Jesse was almost a little too polished, which is because I like to write male characters in how I would like to see a man. So including genitalia jokes isn’t something that comes naturally to me like it would a man, but it’s those little things that really make a character feel real to readers.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? Drafting a novel together is actually really quick for Abbie and I. We wrote the first draft of Guns & Smoke (it’s current iteration) in less than a month, and the sequel (which is even longer) we cranked out in 26 days. We’re currently working through the first draft of book #3 in the series so that we can hopefully cut down on time between publications for reader satisfaction.

Do you believe in writer’s block? Ha! I’m going to get some heat for this one. Writer’s block doesn’t exist. I thought it did for a really long time. I thought I was stuck in the throes of it for even longer. What I’ve discovered is that you can suffer from lack of confidence in yourself, or you can have an ‘editing block’ where you stop drafting to edit what you already have, psych yourself out, and end up never finishing. Or you can be struggling with ‘imposter syndrome’. Or you can be suffering from not taking enough breaks and refilling your creative well. But the writing is always there. There’s no block to it other than the obstacles you put in your own way. Once I realized that the thing stopping me wasn’t some concept of a ‘writer’s block’ that I couldn’t escape, it was clear to me how to move forward. I won’t say ‘easy’ because I don’t think it’s easy to get out of your own way. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But, it’s clear what path to take when you realize that the only person stopping you is yourself.

What can we expect from you in the future? So much! Guns & Smoke is the first in a four book series. In addition to those four, we have a couple of sequel series, a prequel series, a few novellas and an anthology set in The Fools Adventure world. We also have plans to write a Victorian-esque fantasy romance as well as a paranormal romance series together. Individually, Lauren is working diligently on the sequel to her YA Fantasy debut, Songs of Autumn, and I’m working on a Fantasy Romance novel with the intention to traditionally publish.

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters in Guns & Smoke? There is one side character in Guns & Smoke who pops up out of nowhere. It’s someone who was a big part of one of the main characters’ lives.

Where did you come up with the names in the story? Love this question! So, because this novel is a Dystopian/Western Romance it’s set in a not-so-distant future where the world has been ravaged by the effects of nuclear warfare. It’s the American Southwest and in a lot of ways, society has reverted back to a time much like the chaos of the Wild West from a not-so-distant past. There are themes in this book about history repeating itself and that’s definitely the case with the names of the characters in this book. Bonnie, for example, is literally name after Bonnie Parker of the infamous Outlaw duo Bonnie & Clyde. She explains in the book how she got her name. Jesse is also literally named after a murderous outlaw from the past. Jesse James. Only in his case, his father thought it would be funny to name him after an outlaw from his childhood and his mother lost a bet. Harry, Jesse’s younger brother, is affectionately coined ‘The Kid’ by Bonnie early on in the novel and this completes the main cast of characters, however, there are several other characters who share their fate with having wonderfully outlaw-inspired names throughout the book and the series as a whole.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Really delving into romance. While all of the projects I’ve written before have been centered around a romance, I’ve never embraced the genre until Lauren proposed it to me. Being able to fully dive into these characters in an adult genre really made them pop off of the page and come to life.

What is your favorite part of this book and why? My favorite part of the book are the quiet moments, when Bonnie and Jesse aren’t at each other’s throats and they’re actually being vulnerable with one another. There’s just something about two characters that push past their defenses and come together that really touches my heart. There’s this really great scene between Bonnie and Jesse in chapter ten of Guns & Smoke where they’ve just gone through something really terrible. They open up to one another, which leads them farther into the unknown, but also closer together.  

Have you written any other books that are not published? Literally tons. I have a novel that I’ve been working on for fourteen years. I have really terrible depression and anxiety, and I continually get in my head about it. The story has literally changed so many times, and it’s still not ready for the public just yet, but get this: a secret society of witches, New Orleans, and romance. I also have more than a dozen works in various planning stages that I cannot wait to write.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre? I read almost anything that I can get my hands on! While Fantasy is probably my favorite genre right now, I have always had a soft spot for dystopian literature like Divergent or The Hunger Games. I’m really big into Sarah J Maas right now. I really love her mental health representation, plus Cassian from A Court of Thorns and Roses is basically my one true love.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? Silence is the death of my writing! I have to have music. Lauren and I both will find one song when we’re writing a particular scene that encapsulates the mood and listen to it over and over again. When there’s silence or I have background noise, I struggle to focus, so I plug in my earbuds and just go!

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose? Harry Potter. Because I’d be set for life!

Pen or type writer or computer? Computer. All the way. I’m no good with dictation software and I think I need the textile feel of the keys on the keyboard to get into a good writing rhythm. There are times when I long-hand scenes that I need to sit with and really nurse the words to make them sound exactly right, but that’s when I can take my time with a section. I write a LOT slower than I type, so for initial drafting and not refining or re-writing, it’s always the computer for me.

Tell us about a favorite character from a book. I feel like people are sick of this answer from me, but Kaz Brekker from the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo is currently my favorite character. He’s almost like the rebirth of the anti-hero in modern fiction and I’m living for it. I have a soft spot for misanthropes and anti-heroes in literature, I seriously fall way too hard in love with them. The amount of character development Bardugo was able to write into his character is still something that astounds me to this day.

What advice would you give new authors? I feel like I give this advice so much, but I feel like it is the one thing that has really helped me: read. Read every single thing that you can get your hands on. You have to study the craft of writing, which doesn’t mean just reading non-fiction craft books. It’s important to read what is big in the market and find the things that you enjoy in those novels and figure out how you can incorporate that feeling into your own work.  


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Two Kinds of Us by Sarah Sutton #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.

Two Kinds of Us (Love in Fenton County Book 5) by Sarah Sutton

Genre: YA Romance

DIAMONDS MEET ROCK ‘N ROLL AND SECRETS MEET THEIR END.

In a life of diamond bracelets and country clubs, I’m the perfect daughter. I get all the right grades, volunteer at all the right organizations, apply to all the right colleges.

And I hate every second of it. At the rate my life is playing out, under the strict rule of my parents, politicians and housewives will be my future.

Until I meet Harry.

Harry’s a singer in a rock band with a voice so beautiful that I actually feel hypnotized. Doesn’t hurt that he’s hot either, and with the kind, flirty personality to match, it’s the perfect trifecta. And even better, he sees the me I want to be. He sees me as the girl who can break free of the life she’s trapped in, who can control her own future.

The only problem? He knows me as Stella, my fun, carefree alter ego—so drastically different from Destelle, the girl who is trapped in the life her parents rule.

But as we get closer, I realize Harry’s keeping a secret of his own, something related to the dark past that he’s trying to move on from, and when I find out, everything we’ve built could come crashing down.

This is the fifth book in the Love in Fenton County Series, but can be read as a standalone. Check out this Opposites Attract + Hidden Identities Romance today!

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Sarah Sutton is the author of YA Contemporary Romance books from a tiny town in Michigan. These standalone novels can be read in any order and are sure to leave you swooning. She’s always loved the idea of falling in love; capturing the fall through words and heart-melting kisses is one of her passions! Meet-cutes? She’ll take all of them! Accidental touches? She lives for them! First kisses? Yes, please!

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

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

I am happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about

Guest Post ~ by Author Sarah Sutton

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

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

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

10 Rapid Fire Questions About Me

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

Ten fun questions about TWO KINDS OF US!

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

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


Meet Author Kristen Braddock!

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

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

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

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

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you like a chance to win a Signed paperback + Swag Pack, a $15 Amazon gift card, or an eBook copy of Whisper of Darkness? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

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Meet Marc R. Micciola, author of Ascension!

Hello readers and writers! My name is Marc R Micciola and I am a self-published author from Brampton, Ontario, Canada. I always enjoyed stories, soaking them in through any format possible. My favourite way to tell my own stories is through writing, and it took me a while to fully embrace that. Writing isn’t exactly the most practical career, especially fiction writing, so I was discouraged from becoming an author most of my life. My mental health hasn’t always been the greatest either, so I had to deal with anxieties and depressive thoughts too. Thankfully, I finally got into a place where I said “Screw it” and decided to really work on writing a book. It was during a time in my life where I was really working on myself, and I truly believe this book got me to where I am today. My two dogs, Rielly and Ace, keep me grounded and happy while my best friend Mackenzie keeps me motivated and positive. Oh! Silly me. I just realized I haven’t even mentioned the name of my debut novel! My very first book is named Ascension, and is the first book in a series named The Age of Shadow Saga.

Ascension is my baby. I’ve had ideas for books before, even managed to write out a bit of them too, but Ascension is my first full fledged novel that I have written and published. The story that I plan to stretch out over three books is very character driven, and it’s one of the reasons why I love it so much. The world Ascension takes place in is wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but the characters are what makes the book shine. All these characters have grown and changed over the near four years of creating this story and the world surrounding it. Hell, I’m still working on the world! I’ve invested so much time and work into the worldbuilding of The Age of Shadow Saga that I could do countless books based on stories taking place hundreds and even thousands of years before Ascension. I tried to give the reader a glimpse of just how dense the history of this world is by describing relationships between nations and name dropping important moments in history. The entire story of Ascension is told in first person, via the point of view of five characters. Those character’s names are Iver, Einar, Otti, Elouera, and Sigurd. I’ve done my best to make each character unique in how they see the world and how they respond to certain events throughout the story. One thing I know I did well was having every character at the end of the novel be somewhere different than where they were when we are first introduced to them; emotionally, physically, and mentally.

I got my love for character chapters from George RR Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire. The love and appreciation for writing in a first person point of view came from Mark Lawrence’s series The Broken Empire. I had learned to tell stories in third person, but as the years went on I began to truly fall in love with first person and the intimacy it brought to stories. Being inside a character’s head allowed me to really connect with them, experiencing the story in a more intimate way. This is why I went with first person for Ascension. I did a lot of research when it came to worldbuilding, but I also did some research for my characters. I wanted my characters to react to certain events in a genuine way, and I wanted to know what effect those events would have on their psyche. The search I went on actually helped me learn some things about myself too, so it was very worthwhile work. I really think that great characters make a great story, so I worked really hard to develop even secondary and tertiary characters that seemed as real as possible. When I write, I aim for a grounded experience without losing out of the wonder of a fantasy world. I think I did a really good job at bringing that goal to life with Ascension, and I can’t wait for you to let me know what you think. Enjoy your next read, enjoy the next story you write and always be true to who you are!


Celaine Charles ~ Author Interview

Celaine Charles’ YA Fantasy, Seam Keepers, debuted May 12, 2021 (The Wild Rose Press). Always busy, Celaine is currently drafting the sequel, Dream Keepers, along with a brand-new YA Contemporary Fantasy, Life Song, and writing poems inspired by nature.

Check out our interview on YouTube:

Check out HER book below!

(Click on the cover images to order your copy)

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

SEAM KEEPERS – Ashton Nichols dreads the change graduation will bring, most of all, losing her impulsive best friend, Mason. Her world turns upside down when she follows him into the woods and encounters a demon and a destiny beyond what she ever imagined.

Mason Deed seeks freedom from his grief-stricken father. But after his encounter in the woods, he must think about Ashton’s safety. Hiding the truth from her about her identity leaves them both vulnerable and caught between good and evil.

Together they uncover the unimaginable. Will they find enough courage and strength to claim their own free will, save their families, and protect human souls?


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