Author Spotlight: Sonia Hartl

 

 

Name: Sonia Hartl

Author of: Have a Little Faith in Me (Coming from Page Street, Fall 2019)

From: Grand Rapids, MI

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

The first thing I wrote was a book about penguins in the first grade for a school project, but I began writing more frequently in junior high, mostly poetry and short ghost stories.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I started out majoring in creative writing in college and had a huge stash of poetry and short stories I’d written over the years. I didn’t write my first novel until 2005 though (I was 25) because a lot of fear and self-doubt kept me back. My first novel started as a short story, but it begged to be longer, and one day I just sat down and forced myself to try.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

So many people. The writing community is amazingly supportive and helpful to newer writers just starting to find their way. Dannie Morin picked my manuscript for Pitch Wars in 2013 and changed everything for me. She taught me so much about plot, character arcs, organic dialogue, evocative narrative, all the things I needed to take my writing to the next level. I also met my long-time CP Jen Hawkins on the Pitch Wars Twitter feed while we were both hopefuls and she has been a constant source of support and wisdom over the years. And my agent Rebecca Podos is the best. She’s always encouraged me while pushing my writing to the next level, she’s truly my partner in this business in every sense of the word.

Do you exclusively write contemporary YA (young adult) or have you written in other genres?

I mostly write contemporary YA, but I’ve written in a few other genres and categories. My first manuscript was an adult dystopian, my second a YA ghost story, my third a NA romantic suspense, fourth and fifth were YA contemporary, sixth was a YA mystery, and seventh was HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME, which is a YA contemporary.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

When I’m drafting I try to squeeze at least two hours of writing time in a night, and if I’m really into what I’m drafting, I’ll write up to ten hours a day on the weekend. The work, life, write balance is tricky, but I’m fortunate to work at a job that gives me a reasonable amount of vacation and my family is really supportive. Most of my writing time is crammed into the two hours I have free at the end of the night though, usually from ten to midnight.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

That varies so widely from manuscript to manuscript. I had one take six months to draft and a year and a half to revise, and I had another that took a week to draft and two weeks to revise. Both of those are the exceptions though. I’d say average, it takes me about one to two months to draft and about two to three months to revise.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

It definitely depends on how knowledgeable I am about the story I’m going to tell. I’m a big fan of immersive settings that tend to have their own set of rules and norms, so that requires a certain amount of research to write well. I’ve done everything from spending hours reading blogs on certain subjects, to hiring experts to read over my manuscripts for accuracy.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

I don’t know if this is quirky or not, but I have dozens of first chapters for different stories in my Dropbox. I’ll sometimes write five first chapters for five different premises before I find one I want to progress to chapter two with.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

No, but I’d love to have an excuse to visit Ireland or Italy. I did set one manuscript on a remote island off the coast of Boston, and I’ve been to Boston, but I’m not sure if that counts. I’d really love to visit a small town with a quirky festival that the whole town puts their hearts into and write a story based on that.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

A lot of my inspiration comes from things I’m feeling strongly about at a particular time. I tend to create stories based around settings I’m curious about or obsessed with researching, and pair them with themes I’m passionate about diving into and subverting. I wouldn’t say there is an exact moment I’m hit with inspiration, but it’s more a slow growing interest that I need to write when I get to the point where I can’t stop thinking about it

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I mostly read YA contemporary, because that’s what I write, but I’m also a huge fan of YA thrillers/mysteries. I also occasionally enjoy contemporary fantasy, romance, and sci-fi, and historical. I’ll read across all genres and categories, as long as it’s a good story and can hold my attention.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Absolutely. I think all writers do.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

No, all my characters exist solely in my head.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

LUCKY FEW by Kathryn Ormsbee is so criminally underappreciated. It was such a fun, warm contemporary, and it’s one of those books that just makes you feel happy while reading it.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

I’d say maybe any book in Nora Roberts’ trilogies, but I don’t feel guilty about it, lol.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Not right now, there probably isn’t much to Google, but I might after my book is released. Just out of curiosity.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

Probably a penguin, for no other reason than I really like them.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Pacing. I’m constantly second-guessing and doubting my plot points and if they have enough impact to keep the reader turning the pages.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Keep going. It feels like the climb is so uphill and the odds are so long, but if you keep going, keep learning, and improving your craft, you will get where you need to be in your own time.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

I’m in the same boat, but maybe try to enjoy the ride. There is a lot about publishing that is completely out of our hands, so try to enjoy the things you can control.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I would say the biggest way is being a Pitch Wars mentor. I’ve been a mentor since 2015, and it is absolutely the most rewarding way to give back to the writing community. As a former mentee, I know how much it meant to me to be given the opportunity to learn from someone who was a few steps ahead of me on the journey. Being able to do that for someone else means the world to me.

Would you like to find out more about Sonia?

 

Have a Little Faith in Me

(Coming Fall 2019 from Page Street)

When CeCe’s born-again boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp to win him back, though she knows nothing about Christianity. But when he shows up with a new girlfriend—a True Believer—she must face the truth about her feelings, and about the night she lost her virginity. Publication is set for fall 2019

Add Have  A Little Faith in Me to your Goodreads list  

August #Giveaway: Win 1 of 20 free critiques

(*Updated to reflect additional critiques)

My birthday is this month and I’ve decided to give, give, give! (Oh, and I asked some of my friends to help me give)

For my August giveaway I’ve decided to gear it toward those of you out there who are still writing away, editing and polishing your manuscripts, obsessively revising your query letters, and dreaming of the day your efforts are rewarded. That’s right, authors, this one is for you.

At the end of  the month 21(!) free critiques will be given away.

So, what do you do to enter? Click on the Rafflecopter link and follow the prompts. And yes, there are a lot of Twitter profiles that you can follow, but there were a lot of generous authors who volunteered their time to help out, so please show them some love.

Details (and the Rafflecopter link) are below. Best of luck to everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal: If She Were Blind by Laney Wylde

 

If She Were Blind
Laney Wylde
(The After Twelve, #1)
Published by: Crimson Tree Publishing
Publication date: October 22nd 2018
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance, Thriller

Not everyone can get justice the traditional way—that’s where Estlyn Collins comes in. A young lawyer in Santa Monica, her “legal” service, After Twelve, works outside the courtroom to tip the scales when the justice system has failed.

For a price.

Thanks to her powerful underground network, Estlyn’s success rate is stellar, and her inbox stays filled with inquires from the desperate and vengeful. But when one of those names is a ghost from her past seeking vengeance against her, she’s shaken to her core. Off balance and scared to be alone, she makes an impulsive move for a guy. He’s a complication she doesn’t have time for, but it turns out he may also be an unlikely—if unwitting—asset.

Treading the rapidly thinning line between personal and professional, Estlyn pursues her target while outrunning the one on her own back—only to find she may be running into a lot more than she bargained for.

IF SHE WERE BLIND is the first book in the engaging New Adult series AFTER TWELVE by author Laney Wylde. Perfect for fans of the television shows REVENGE, SCANDAL, and VERONICA MARS, the AFTER TWELVE Series is a gritty social-issue drama that delivers steamy romance, intrigue, and the most bittersweet revenge plots. Estlyn’s determination to right every wrong is sure to quench your thirst for justice, yet leave you wanting more.

Goodreads / Amazon

Only 99¢ during pre-orders only!

 

Author Bio:

Boy-mom, doctor’s wife, Christ-follower, mathematician, SoCal-dweller, lover of 30 Rock.

Most recently, writer.

I hope you’ll enjoy my debut, Never Touched, out November 12, and available for preorder!

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Author Spotlight: C.M. McCoy

Name: C.M. McCoy 

Author of: EERIE

From: Alaska

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?  It was a “descriptive paragraph” assignment from the 5th grade. My teacher, Mrs. Brady, was so excited about my stinky hamster paragraph, she made me read it aloud to the 3 other 5th grade classes. I was mortified, dead scared, and actually vomited. Worst reward ever.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? It was after I’d retired from the Air Force and after I’d retired from engineering. I’d written a memoir and signed with a literary agent. After that, I caught the fiction bug, and the rest is mystery. Writing is a funny profession in that one never stops pursuing it. The market is ever changing; agents and editors come and go, and one misstep on social media can rally the review trolls–effectively torpedoing your paycheck. Sometimes it feels more like the pot at the end of the rainbow than it does a career.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? There have been many who’ve been the proverbial lighthouse in the channel. Too many to name really, but agent Michelle Johnson tops my list of advisers/supporters during my journey to publication. She was extremely generous with her time and wisdom, and I’m forever grateful for her unwavering support. In addition, I have been blessed with the world’s best critique partners, who helped me hone my craft and who helped me shape up the structure of what would be my debut novel. Quite honestly, after paying thousands for professional editors who offered little to nothing in the way of actual editing suggestions, I found critique partners were far more adept at recognizing and suggesting edits for structural shortcomings, character arcs, plot holes, and craft mistakes. Sarah Adair, an unpublished author who shies away from social media, was especially helpful. I found her through Maggie Stiefvater’s Critique Partner Match-up several years ago.

Do you exclusively write paranormal or have you written in other genres? I also write YA and Adult thriller, speculative, and Picture Books. I’ve dreamed of writing a contemporary, but something urgent and usually monstrous seems to always pop up on those opening pages. I’m sure there’s something psychologically avoidy (that’s totally a thing) is happening there, but I’ve never dug deep enough into my psyche to figure it out.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? Good lord, it’s hard to find quiet time between mom-ing and wife-ing and agent-ing. I love my family to pieces, and I’m acutely aware of one thing: when I’m on my deathbed, I’ll never regret “missing out  on writing time,” but I’ll sure as hell want more play time with my husband, my kindergartener, my sister, my mom and dad, etc. I’ve had enough close calls to know what’s truly important in life. And so I sneak writing time in when everyone’s asleep. Getting up at 0330 helps. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? First drafts–this varies from 2 weeks to 7 months for me. Revisions continue until I perform the “good enough” nod. My husband, who piloted the Space Shuttle back in 2006 and whose mission rewired the Space Station, has this saying he picked up from one of his commanders at NASA: “better” is the enemy of “good enough.” For me, here on Earth, it means to mind your resources–an author’s time and energy are finite quantities, and spending them on an endless pursuit to make one MS “better” (which is a moving target) means the next MS never gets written. Recognizing when a MS has reached “good enough,” even if it’s “good enough for now” means moving forward. Getting stuck in the “it needs to be better” loop can stall a writer’s career. Some MS’s won’t sell (for now) no matter how many revisions an author makes, and it’s okay to put that MS in a drawer and call it good enough for now.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? Most of my preparation involves daydreaming. I have to know my main character through and through before I begin a draft. I may scribble out snippets of dialogue or a scene here and there, but most of my prep stays in my head. As for research, I find and interrogate people who share an experience or hobby or career or personality trait that one of my characters shares. I also research maps, chemistry, medicine, murder, mental health, engines, thermodynamics, string theory, bacterial growth rates, etc…you know, the usual.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Nope. 😀

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? I spent 7 days canoeing through the no-kidding Alaska bush. Out of cell phone coverage, far from roads and people, and on a deadline to reach to a checkpoint near the Yukon river so that I didn’t miss my scheduled bush-plane pick-up. It was refreshing and terrifying at once, and it truly helped me shape the setting of EERIE and of my YA thriller, both of which are set in part in the Alaska bush.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? I usually find inspiration from staring at the back of my eyelids after an exciting day. I can say that I remember an acute moment of illogical tree fear while camping one winter night, and that may have fed into EERIE’s carnivorous tree problem…

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? I’m a mood reader who switches between nonfiction and fiction of most genres. I rarely get into a literary phase, and high fantasy isn’t my jam, but for the most part, I’ll read anything that tickles my neurons.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Oh yes. *evil grin*

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes to both. Some characters are a mash-up of different friends, and some are inspired by chance encounters with complete strangers.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater. I absolutely adore that book.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. A BEDTIME STORY by LC Moon. This was a steamy Beauty and the Beast retelling by an indie author who, sadly, hasn’t published the sequel. I’m still hoping though…

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? No, but I do have a Google news alert set up, which sends me the strangest emails. For example, just a couple weeks ago, I learned a very beautiful actress would portray a fictional me in an upcoming film starring Natalie Portman.  *shrugs*

As a writer, what animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? Tough choice. I’d say a snow ember. Or a snarling Yeti. Tough choice…

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Am I constantly answering questions that aren’t asked? Yes. Yes I am. Which is not as much a struggle as it is an annoyance. I should be more focused. I should take my own advice.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Don’t quit. (that’s 2 words)

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Don’t quit. Many authors have such an unfulfilling and even discouraging experience after their first book publishes, that they stop writing altogether. Don’t quit.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I mentor. In 2017, I mentored an author in #PitchWars, and prior to that, I’ve mentored in contests like #NoQS and Query Kombat. I sneak into support groups and offer encouragement whenever I can. I lead workshops at schools and online. I’m still a work in progress myself, and I appreciate the reciprocation in this wonderful community. Now that I’m a literary agent and building my list, I try to be as specific and encouraging in my feedback as I can. I hate rejection. It stinks. Having received over 300 rejections for my own work before finding an agent, I can appreciate the sting I now send out, and I’m always thinking of the person on the other end and hoping they persevere in their journey to publication. <3

Would you like to know more about C.M. McCoy?

Eerie

The sensational teen paranormal romance featured in PEOPLE Magazine and on INSIDE EDITION! 

Hailey Hartley has just enrolled in the world’s premier supernatural university. It’s a school she’s never heard of, located in a town called The Middle of Nowhere, and run by a creature that’s not supposed to exist. But at least she got a scholarship…

Hailey’s dreams have always been, well…vivid. As in monsters from her nightmares follow her into her waking life vivid. When her big sister goes missing, eighteen-year-old Hailey finds only one place offers her answers–a paranormal university in Alaska. There, she studies the science of the supernatural and must learn to live with a roommate from Hell, survive her otherworldly classes, and hope the only creature who can save her from an evil monster doesn’t decide to kill her himself.

Get Eerie on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

Cover Reveal: The Light At Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners, Book 2)

COVER REVEAL AND SEQUEL ANNOUNCEMENT:

The stand-alone historical romance that stole America’s hearts has a sequel coming out. A Shine that Defies the Dark by Jodi Gallegos released in December 2017 and has received amazing reviews and shout outs from the public. So much so that the author decided to expand the world of the novel and create another sequel or world novel that can be read as part of the series or as another stand-alone Historical Romance. The Light at Finnigan’s End is scheduled to release on November 5, 2018 as book two in The Rum Runners Series. Check out the official cover reveal below and then be sure to leave a comment or two on what you think of the novel. Also, Kindle Unlimited subscribers can check out the first novel for free right now on Amazon.

COVER REVEAL:

 

The Light at Finnigan’s End
Jodi Gallegos
Published by: Changing Tides Publishing
Publication date: November 5, 2018
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance

Cleric’s Cove is home to the most brutal gang of bootleggers in Southern Louisiana, the Moret family. Desperate to find out what happened to her brother Finn, Deirdre Cassidy is determined to use her skills as a healer, as well as her feminine charms, to infiltrate the Moret crime family. Once she’s ensconced in the Moret hideout, she hopes to gather information that will lead her to Finn—or help her destroy the family that caused his disappearance.

But the one thing Deirdre never counted on is Mo Moret. The eldest son and head of the Moret gang, Mo is incredibly dangerous, yet magnetic—the attraction between them palpable. Still, Deirdre doesn’t believe he’ll ever set aside family loyalty for love. And even if he did, Deirdre has vowed to see the end of the Morets—whatever the cost.

The second installment in the popular Rum Runners series by Jodi Gallegos, The Light at Finnigan’s End is a fast-paced romance with elements of historical fiction, set against the gritty backdrop of depression-era southern Louisiana.

Goodreads / Pre-order coming August 8th.

 

READ BOOK ONE TODAY!

A Shine That Defies The Dark
Jodi Gallegos
Published by: Changing Tides Publishing
Publication date: December 5th 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance

Gripping, romantic, and evocative of its time— A Shine that Defies the Dark is a spellbinding story of one woman who will stop at nothing to survive during a tumultuous time in American history.

After a six-year exile, Ophelia Breaux and her mother are overjoyed to return to the Louisiana bayou. But it seems the ghosts of the epic feud that drove them away still haunt Plaquemines Parish, and with the Great Depression sweeping the nation, the two soon find they can’t make ends meet.

Seeing no other option, Ophelia’s mother takes the drastic step of sharing her bed with the town judge in exchange for a reduced rent. The judge has had a life-long obsession with Momma, and Ophelia is desperate to end this arrangement and get her away from him.

When Remy Granger shows up, Ophelia knows it could mean more trouble—and that’s the last thing they need. Handsome and dangerous, he’s the first boy she ever kissed, and a member of the most notorious family in southern Louisiana—but he’s also got an opportunity for fast money in rumrunning. Ophelia goes all in, and it turns out she may have a knack for the business. But she’s going to have to run even faster if she wants to save Momma… dodging the cops, rival gangs, and her traitorous heart at every turn.

Goodreads / Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

 

Author Bio:

Jodi is a YA writer, black belt, and registered nurse. She lives with her husband, three sons and an evolving herd of undisciplined animals in Colorado. She has a well-earned fear of bears, but tolerates the Teddy and Gummy variety. She has been obsessed with books, both reading and writing them, for most of her life and prefers the written word to having actual conversations. The most current projected completion date of her To Be Read book collection is May 17, 2176.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

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Author Spotlight: Julie Wetzel

Name:   Julie Wetzel  

Author of:   The Dragons of Eternity Series: On the Accidental Wings of Dragons; For the Memory of Dragons; For the Heart of Dragons; A Castle for Dragons, the First Archive; For the Kingdom of Dragons (coming Sept. 2018)

Kindling Flames Series: Gathering Tinder; Flying Sparks; Smoke Rising; Stolen Fire; Burning Nights; Blazing Moon; Granting Wishes (Crimson Tree Publishing)

White Lies (Changing Tides Publishing)

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?   I did not grow up as a writer, so remembering the first thing I wrote is pretty easy. I started writing in 2011 when my sister called me from the ship she was serving on. She’d entered a war zone and wasn’t allowed to get online, but she could get emails. She asked to write her something fun. At the time I was really into the anime Skip Beat!, so I wrote a very long and rambling fanfiction for that. I did post it online, and if you know where to look, you can still find it. It wasn’t my best work and I’ve considered going back and fixing it, but it’s fanfiction. It’s not supposed to be well written, just entertaining.

After that I got more comfortable with the whole concept of making up stories and started off into something my sister would actually read. She requested a vampire story and so Kindling Flames was born. The rest of story, as they say, is history.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?  I never really thought about being a professional writer. I started writing to entertain my sister. I did three to five thousand words a day and sent them to her so she would have something new to read when she got off duty. At first it was just something fun, then I got emails from her shipmates telling me she had sent them a part of the story and they wanted the rest. So I started emailing them chapters daily. After a few months of this, I started to get requests for the book in print so people could share it with other. On a whim, I started sending the manuscript off to publisher to see if I could find someone to publish it. As I did that, I went on to write more stories for my new friends. After several errors and many rejection letters, I finally found Crimson Tree Publishing. They loved my story and thought it would be just what they wanted. It wasn’t until after I published On the Accidental Wings of Dragons(my sixth title) and my publisher suggested that I quit my day job and work on writing full time that I even though about making writing my profession. Everything up to that point was just fun. I’m still waiting for everyone to wake up and realize I’m faking this whole writing career thing.

 Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?  There were a lot of people that helped me along the way. The ladies from CTP were always there when I had questions, Ethan Gregory always had good words and advice for me, but I think the person that helped me the most was Sherry Ficklin. She taught me the ropes and let me tag along with her at my first few conventions. She gave me advice and listened to me whine when things got too much for me. And for the longest time, my goal was to be as successful in the book world as she was. A fact I’m sure she would find extremely funny.

Do you exclusively romance or have you written in other genres?  No. I am not exclusively romance. I like to write what I like to read and that’s a bit of everything. My main two series are Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. I have done a short sci-fi that I want to expand on and I have a few pieces in the works that span from twisted fairytales to space adventures.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?  I usually try to keep my books moving forward at a steady pace, but recently I’ve been having problems balancing things. There’s been some turmoil at work that took me from three half-days a week to full time. The extra money is nice, but I’ve not been able to get into a groove that lets me do the things I need to do.  I’ve been scatterbrained and that doesn’t make writing easy. I’m starting to find that balance again and have worked writing back into my life. Now I just need work to hire a few good people and a mechanic so I can get back to my three days away and put the stories in my head down on paper.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?  First drafts can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on how motivated I am to work on them and what else is going on in my life. Once I get a draft done, I read through it three times before sending it to my beta readers. Once they go through it and send it back to me. I read through it again before sending it on to submissions. This can take anywhere from a few days to weeks depending on how long the piece is.

 Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?  That depends on the book. If the book deals with a subject I’m familiar with, I don’t do any research. If there is an aspect of the book I’m unfamiliar with, I tend to spend weeks looking up as much as I can.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?  Why would I tell you thing I don’t want people to know? But to answer the question, yes, I do have quirky writing habits. Most of my best writing is done on paper with special pencils. I keep my pencils in a tooth brush case to keep the tips from getting broken. I also do my best writing between midnight and three am.

 Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?  I can’t say I’ve done pilgrimages or specific research for my books. I have spent a lot of time on YouTube looking up travel videos and I have pulled a lot of experiences from my actual life. I love to travel and have seen thirty-nine states and five countries. I have foreign friends that give me insight into their culture. That has helped me pull some interesting thing into my novels.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? Nope. Inspiration strikes me at odd times. My first novel was a request, but I don’t recall how I came up with that character or plot line. Some of my other books have been dreams, both day dreams and nightmares. Some were spin offs of ideas I saw on TV or requests for a certain type of book. Some were bad pizza and beer. It’s hard to say where my ideas come from.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?  The genre I prefer depends on my mood. I do tend to do fantasy, either paranormal or urban, because I like the idea that there’s more out there. But, I also do a lot of romance, because I’m a sucker for a happy ending. The only genre I don’t enjoy is horror. I have a vivid imagination and it keeps me up at night. I still can’t sleep with my closet door open.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?  There are a few characters in all of my novels that are directly taken from people in my real life, but only they would know who they are. There are also a few places and events that I have seen or done. So yes, Easter eggs galore… But only I, or people who truly know me, can tell you where they are.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?  The main characters in my books are always fictional. Pieces of my own creations… However, some of the side characters are made up of people I know that have requested to be included, or I felt the need to kill. You guess as to which ones those are.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. One of my books? I have a short story in the Fated Destinations Anthology that I don’t think gets enough love, but the rest of my books do tend to be well loved.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.  Straight up: Granting Wishes. Yes, it was adapted to the Kindling Flames world be a giveaway for BEA, but I started that one daydreaming while fixing a light on a shelf. Out of all of the books I’ve written, it’s my favorite to this day. I can read that over and over and never get tired.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?  I have. Most of the time I’m looking for fanfiction. That’s my goal in life, to be popular enough for someone to do fanfiction on my books. So far I’ve been very disappointed.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?  A dragon.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?  I don’t want this to make me sound unapproachable. I love hearing from fans and meeting new people, but I dislike dealing with people in large groups. I’ve always been the person on the outside looking in, but I’ve had to learn to be the person people are looking in on. Sometimes it makes me super uncomfortable to be in a place with more than a few people. It’s something I’m working on.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? You’re going to need some thick skin. Publishing is a hard job and a lot of people are going to throw crap at you and your work. You are putting a piece of yourself out for the world to see and you can’t be sensitive about it. You’re going to need to understand that not every bad review is a personal attack and not everyone is going to like what you do. It’s going to be tough, and it’s not going to get better, no matter how many books you sell. People are mean. There’s only one person you have to please: Yourself. Understand that and go on with your head held high. There are people out there that will love you.

 What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?  Stop and consider how your actions appear in the public eye before you act. If you come off as a self-centered diva, people will treat you that way. There’s a reason there’s a hashtag for Authors behaving badly. Mind your manners, treat people with kindness and respect, and you will go far. Treat people like stepping stones or trash and you will shoot your career in the face.

 In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?  The only things I have to pay forwards are the things I have learned in this business. I can’t do reviews because Amazon hates me, I’m a horrible beta reader, and I tend not to read a lot of books while I’m working on something. But, I have learned a lot and am always open to answering questions when I can. My husband calls me a well of useless knowledge, but I’m happy to share it when I can.

Want more information about Julie and her books?

White Lies

When her identical twin comes down with a stomach bug, Molly finds herself suckered into a huge favor. Impersonating her twin for a romantic dinner…with her sister’s amazingly hot boyfriend. After a minor accident has Molly spending the night in his arms, she swears off standing in for her sister again. But thing’s don’t always turn out as planned…

A chance meeting at lunch changes everything. Now, Molly’s faced with a hard decision. Should she keep her sister’s secret and continue pretending to be her twin, or follow her heart and tell the man she’s falling for the truth? Both choices will lead to the end of a relationship. But how do you choose between a sister you love and the man of your dreams?

Get it on Amazon 

The Dragons of Eternity:

On The Accidental Wings of Dragons  (The Dragons of Eternity, Book 1)

When Michael Duncan is sent to investigate the disappearance of several dragon subjects, he finds himself in a bind. Locked in a dungeon, his only hope lies wrapped in a bundle of cloth tossed at his feet. One kiss and his life is changed forever. Hunted by his own people for crimes he didn’t commit, Michael has to learn a whole new life at the hands of a beautiful woman. Can she help him clear his name, or will just being in her presence get him sentenced to death?

Carissa Markel doesn’t know who this man chained to the wall is, but he’s her only chance for escape. She has power, but, born without a voice, she lacks the means to wield it. One choice, made in desperation, sends them running for his life. Does she have the strength to help him clear his name? And what will her brother, the King of Dragons, do if he finds out what she’s done? That’s immaterial, the real question is… can she keep her hands off him long enough to find out?

Buy it from Amazon

For the Memory of Dragons (The Dragons of Eternity, Book 2)

What do you do when a dragon crash-lands in your backyard?

That’s the question Terra’s faced with when one of these creatures plows down into her cornfield. Should she help out the hunk of a man the dragon turns into, or turn him over to the trigger-happy ‘authorities’ that have come looking for him? The deciding factor—he has no memory. Giving him up just doesn’t seem right… at least until she knows the truth of who he is.

Alex has forgotten a thing or two—his name being one of them—but he knows there is something important that he needs to remember, if he could just get his battered brain to work properly. A little rest might help, but there’s no time for that when the bullets start flying.

Now he has to follow the few clues he has to discover who he is, and why people are trying to kill him. But that’s the easy part. The hard part will be keeping his hands off the lovely lady helping him.

Get it from Amazon

For the Heart of Dragons (The Dragons of Eternity, Book 3)

Disconnection is a very serious issue for dragons that can leave them stuck in one form or another, but it’s a condition that usually comes on slowly and rarely catches anyone by surprise. No one knows this better the Kara Rose, Eternity’s leading specialist in the treatment of this condition. So when the head of Eternity demands her presence for an emergency, she can’t imagine what he could want. She is, after all, only a therapist.

As a top mage with Eternity, Noah Dove has worked with dragons for most of his life, so he is used to their odd quirks and physical needs. When a dark beauty shows up to disrupt the king’s celebrations, he agrees to go with her to keep the peace. When Noah is unable to protect the woman from the group killing dragons, he’s left with her last request—to save her dragon. It would normally be an impossible task, but with a bit of magic and some help from the dragon, Noah forms the one thing that can transfer a dragon from one person to another—a Heart Stone.

Now the dragon is loose and out of control… and the only person who can help is Kara. With Noah’s consciousness locked away beyond her reach, she must somehow find a way to soothe the dragon and connect two halves that were never a whole. The task is daunting and will push her knowledge—and personal boundaries—to their limit and beyond.

 Get it from Amazon

A Castle For Dragons (The Dragons of Eternity, The First Archive)

With a dragon ravaging the countryside, the Prince of Dragons sends out his best man, Patrick Mylan. His orders—secure an abandoned castle and stop the foul beast from stealing more maidens. This shouldn’t be an issue for an Elite of Eternity.

But there is more going on than there seems. When other dragons are sighted in the area, the town sends their maidens to their new lord for protection. Patrick’s life just became a lot more complicated. With the dragon he’s hunting acting odd and a castle filled with women distracting him, how is he supposed to do the job he was sent for? And what are the ladies going to do when they find out he’s the other dragon in the area?

Get it from Amazon

 

 

 

For the Kingdom of Dragons (The Dragons of Eternity, Book Four)–coming September 4, 2018

Kyle Markel, the King of Dragons, is presumed dead when his plane disappears over the cold waters of the Northern Sound. To make matters worse, his sister, Carissa Markel, has been given undeniable proof that Kyle’s longtime friend, Daniel Callaghan, has been sabotaging the largest investigation Eternity has ever had. He may have also been involved with Kyle’s disappearance.

But all is not what it seems.

That’s something Angela Lewis discovers when she’s awoken in the middle of the night by a strange and violent ceremony. Her quick thinking frees the handsome man tied to the table, but the knife in his chest makes his survival questionable. Unsure who to trust, she finds herself running to the only place the stranger is willing to go—The Dragon’s Wing.

Can Angela find someone to save him? And without their king, what will become of the kingdom of dragons?

Pre-order now on Amazon

Kindling Flames (The Ancient Fire Series)

Gathering Tinder (The Ancient Fire, Book 1)

After landing a job as assistant to a handsome CEO, Victoria Westernly feels like her life is finally on the right track. But when she discovers her new boss is the city’s most powerful vampire, she’ll have to decide whether her attraction to him is worth the risk…

The Kindling Flames Series is a paranormal romance saga with over 2,300 five-star reviews on Goodreads. Dive into a series filled with sexy vampires, werewolves, shifters, Fae folk, and more. Science fiction and urban fantasy romance lovers unite because this series has seven exciting books that readers have compared to other popular vampire romance novels such as: A Shade of Vampire Series by Bella Forest, the Immortals After Dark Series by Kresley Cole, The Sookie Stackhouse Novels(True Blood) by Charlaine Harris, The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, The Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, and The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J.R. Ward.

Get it on Amazon

 

 

Flying Sparks (The Ancient Fire, Book 2)

When Vicky becomes the target of a serial arsonist plaguing the city, Darien calls on the supernatural community to help. Pulling the creatures of the night together to cooperate on any project is troublesome at the best of times. The fact that the one responsible for the city’s woes is a being of fire and magic leads the reluctant groups to a truce that makes…

The Kindling Flames Series is a paranormal romance saga with over 2,300 five-star reviews on Goodreads. Dive into a series filled with sexy vampires, werewolves, shifters, Fae folk, and more. Science fiction and urban fantasy romance lovers unite because this series has seven exciting books that readers have compared to other popular vampire romance novels such as: A Shade of Vampire Series by Bella Forest, the Immortals After Dark Series by Kresley Cole, The Sookie Stackhouse Novels(True Blood) by Charlaine Harris, The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, The Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, and The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J.R. Ward.

Get it on Amazon

 

 

Smoke Rising (The Ancient Fire, Book 3)

Is there such a thing as a normal life when you live with an ancient vampire and a temperamental hellhound?

Victoria Westernly was just starting to think so. With Samhain just around the corner and the promise of a Halloween Ball, her life was looking good. Even the addition of a new master vampire couldn’t bring her down.

When Victoria and Darien become the victims of a series of unfortunate accidents, they know something’s up. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. But, the question is… who is burning what?

Get it on Amazon

 

 

 

Stolen Fire (The Ancient Fire, Book 4)

Night. A time of quiet, of peace, of rest, and now, a time of terror. 

With an uncontrolled vampire plaguing the city, the Vampire Council of Brenton once again calls on Darien Ritter for help.

Overwhelmed with the issues of a new menagerie and plans for his wedding, Darien still manages to step up and answer the call. The only problem is, he suddenly finds himself a little too… human. 

Get it from Amazon

 

 

 

Burning Nights (The Ancient Fire, Book 5)

After a wedding filled with werewolves, fay, and vampires, Vicky is looking forward to a nice, quiet honeymoon away from the chaos of Darien’s daily life. But nothing is ever simple with an Ancient Vampire around. When the Vampire Council of Hawaii finds out Darien and his new bride are coming, they are determined to see that Darien is honored properly. But vampire etiquette isn’t for the faint of heart. The nights could burn when lines are drawn… and Darien finds himself in a turf war he never intended to start.

Get it on Amazon

 

 

 

 

Blazing Moon (The Ancient Fire, Book 6)

Trouble has once again found its way to Brenton…

When a pack of rogue werewolves makes a grab for the local pack’s land, Rupert, the local alpha, does his best to keep the peace. Unfortunately, his people have been having some issues of their own that complicate matters.

When Phelan, Rupert’s second, becomes the latest wolf to lose control over a simple dispute, Rupert is left with no other choice than to seek outside help.

Krissy, a human empath who stumbled on the scene, was able to help Phelan, but dealing with an entire pack of enraged werewolves is too much for one person to handle. With Master Darien on his honeymoon, Rupert turns to his next best choice—Elliot.

Now Phelan, Elliot, and Krissy have to discover what’s driving the weres into emotionally savage rages before all hell breaks loose and destroys the wolves of Brenton.

Get it on Amazon

 

Book Release: Searching (The Fading Series, Book 2) by Cindy Cipriano

Searching
Cindy Cipriano
(The Fading Series, #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: July 20th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

A fast-paced fantasy romance with rich characters and immersive storytelling,Searching is the second book in theFading series by award-winning author Cindy Cipriano.

To say Leath is traveling light is an understatement. She’s only bringing three things on her trip. One is a silver heart locket—a gift from her longtime best-friend-turned-boyfriend Victor Santana. Next is a wedding token in the shape of a J, from James Turner. And of course, she’s packing her pistol. That’s it. She knows that when she leaves Woodvine, even her own mother may not remember her in the shifted reality that will be left behind. Bringing anything else would be pointless. But she’s driven now, by something that eclipses everything else, something she just got back: her memories. And now that she remembers James—she won’t stop searching until she finds him.

Goodreads / Amazon

LEARN MORE ABOUT SEARCHING!

One-liner for Searching?
How far would you search for The One?

More details?
Leath is packing light: just her two lockets (one from Victor, one from James) – and of course, her pistol. She knows that when she leaves Woodvine, even her own mother may not remember her in the shifted reality that will be left behind. But she’s driven by something that eclipses everything else: her recovered memories. Now that she remembers James—she won’t stop searching until she finds him.

Where did the idea come from for Searching?
Searching is the second book in The Fading Series. Searching takes up immediately where Fading left off, just as Leath puts her foot down inside Judaculla.

What genre is Searching?
Young adult.
But – the entire series crosses genres. It’s a paranormal, dystopian, young adult romance mash-up. Searching is also a crossover, appealing to young adults and up.

Who would enjoy reading Searching?
Fans of Fading who are waiting to find out if it’s Victor or James.

And, anyone who has ever been in love with two people at the same time.

Favorite lines from Searching:

  1. I wanted to touch him. So I did. (pg. 1)
  2. The first time I held hands with Victor Santana, it wasn’t romantic. Not at all. (pg. 3)
  3. Victor’s strong hand cradled mine, and he became my tether to reality. (pg. 3)
  4. His warm lips brushed against my ear as he whispered three little words. “I can wait.” (pg. 6)
  5. Name James Turner. Age 17. Parents Emancipated Minor. (pgs. 10-11)
  6. “I don’t usually get this close to a girl, unless I’m going to kiss her,” said the boy, giving me a playful grin. (pg. 23)
  7. When we were apart, it seemed as if all of eternity passed before I saw him again. (pg. 110)
  8. To one boy, I’d gladly give my heart. To the other, my life. (pg. 130)
  9. I wondered how long a person could live like this, so completely torn in half. (pg. 130)
  10. She could have any boy in the restaurant. Why was she falling all over mine? (pg. 147)
  11. But right now I had him. The boy of my dreams. (pg. 174)
  12. “I will never stop loving you,” he said. “Not even in death.” (pg. 268)

James is sort of a two-sides-to-one-coin kind of guy. Was it difficult writing his character?
Definitely, but so worth it!
*sighs*
He’s drop-dead gorgeous and funny, but he hovers over dark territory. It was a challenge writing him because I wanted my readers to see what Leath sees in James. In Searching, fans will see just how deep James’s feelings for Leath go.

And Leath’s other love interest, Victor, was it hard to write him?
Not a bit.
*sighs again*
Victor is the definition of the perfect guy. He’s good-looking, funny, confident and charismatic. Not to mention he has an exceptionally beautiful heart.

Who is your favorite character in Searching?
Ever continues to be my favorite character. She’s the girl you love to hate. I think we’re all hoping that in the end, she’ll do the right thing. The problem is we lose a faith in her each time she opens her mouth. As I continue writing the series, I’m currently working on book three and James is fast becoming a close second to Ever as my favorite character. I think readers will enjoy watching James’s growth from Fading to Searching to where I am now in writing the series.

Who designed the cover of Searching?
The talented Marya Heidel. Isn’t it stunning?!

How many books are in the Searching series? There will be at least 4 books in the series.

How can readers keep up with you and the Fading series?
Anything and everything about The Fading Series can be found at Clean Teen Publishing or CindyCipriano.com.

 

Author Bio:

Cindy Cipriano lives in North Carolina with her husband, son and their 27 pets.

Not really.

Just three dogs who think they are children and three cats who think they are raccoons. It only seems as if they make 27. When Cindy isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and the avoidance of cooking.

Cindy’s first novel, The Circle, Book One of The Sidhe won the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Silver Award for Pre-Teen Fiction – Fantasy. Other titles in the series include The Choice, Book Two of The Sidhe (2015) and The Lost, Book Three of The Sidhe (2017). This seven-book series is published by Odyssey Books.

Miller’s Island Mysteries #1 The Case of the Toxic River (2017) is the first in her eleven-book science mystery series (Vulpine Press). #2 The Case of the Catalyst will release in 2018.

Look for Fading, the first in her young adult series, in April 2018. (Clean Teen Publishing). Fading is the tale of first loves and the consequence of dreaming up Mr. Right.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
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The Light At Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners, Book 2) Coming 11/5/18

Why haven’t I posted about this sooner? Honestly, I’ve been talking about it so much I thought I had.

However, this is my official, official announcement that the sequel to A Shine That Defies the Dark (henceforth to be known also as the first book in the Rum Runners series) will be published on November 5, 2018.

There will be an official cover reveal soon (psst—if you follow me on Goodreads you may have some inside scoop!), but for now I can only show you this:

High School Reunion (Why Is This Not a Musical?)

My high school reunion is this weekend.

I’ve  been lying low, flying under the radar. I’ve joined the Facebook group, read the posts, and looked at the pictures, but I have neither commented nor responded (or even decided) if I’m actually going. I didn’t go to the first one (in truth, I didn’t even hear about it), and I only hear rumors about the second.

A lot of things have happened since I last saw many of the people I graduated with. To put it into perspective as to how long it’s been, these are some of the things that were happening in the world the year we graduated:

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  • The Jamaican Bobsled Team Debuted at The Calgary Winter Olympics

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  • 2 1/2 Years after the Challenger tragedy the Space Shuttle Discovery was launched

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  • 4 years after the disease was recognized, the 1st World Aids Day was held

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  • The President we had (and the one that was voted in that year)

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  • Ben Johnson won gold in Seoul. Three days later he was stripped of his medal, and Olympic record, after testing positive for steroids. Carl Lewis was awarded the gold medal and Olympic record.

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  • Pan Am flight 103 was bombed while flying over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 243 passengers and 16 crew members.

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  • Eli Lilly began marketing Prozac in January, annual sales hit $350 million within a year ( #HowIShouldHaveInvestedMyTacoBellEarnings)

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  • Crack cocaine became a thing (is it even still a thing?)

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  • Residents of super-ultra-rural areas of California & Nevada were relieved to finally know that they weren’t imaging those “hovering crafts” they saw in the night sky. The US Government finally unveiled the B2 Bomber.

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  • Stephen Hawking released A Brief History of Time

 

So, as you can see, we left our glory years of high school and walked into the hope and promise the late 80’s had to offer. And that’s the last time I saw many of my classmates.

With the invention of Facebook I’ve managed to connect with a few of them. If nothing else, we are “Facebook Friends” and will occasionally Like or comment on each others posts. In all honesty though, our community was on the small side and we tended to hang out with kids in the classes ahead of and behind us. At various points we ended up in different districts and I can’t remember exactly if my Facebook friends are high school friends, junior high school– or even elementary school!– ones. This reunion will actually be a combination of the graduating class of three (!) local high schools.

So, if it’s been so long why am I so anxiety ridden about going and seeing everyone? Aren’t I excited at the chance?

Well, I have reasons to be anxious, and I think I may not be alone (really, I can’t be alone, can I?).

  1. I’m anxiety-ridden by nature. I don’t do well in large groups or around people I’m not comfortable with (I actually don’t even do well around the people I see regularly and do feel comfortable with).
  2.  I’m not a social creature. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not antisocial. I’m just a person who is comfortable and content in my own quiet world. I never viewed myself as a highly social person. I was a side-kick to my friend, Lysa. Now she should have a Doctorate in Social Interactions. She’s good with people. She’s confident in groups and she remembers everyone and most of the things that happened to, with and around everyone we hung out with. I was pretty much the grumpy (occasionally drunken) sidekick.
  3. I have insecurities. Lots of them. At the top of the list is the fact that I’ve gained weight (a lot!). I’m sure there are plenty of us who have gained weight as we aged, and I think they all still look great, but I can’t give myself that consideration.
  4. I am no less socially awkward now than I was back then. Maybe even more so now (see #3).
  5. I am horrible at recalling names. I generally remember a face, but can’t always pair it with the proper name (see #4-Socially Awkward).
  6. Sometimes my facial recognition skills fail me. Two days ago I had a conversation with a junior high school classmate. I’d remember her face anywhere!! She looked exactly the same, a fact a marveled at as I walked away. How, after all these years can she still look exactly the same as the last time I saw her?  The answer came as I recalled the confusion in her eyes (though she was sweetly trying to play the whole thing off) and pieced together the reality. I’d been speaking to her daughter!!!! A true Doppelgänger, but not who I thought (see #4-Socially Awkward).

While it may seem like I’ve been obsessing over the negative (and maybe I have) I’ve also tried to come up with reasons that I should go to my high school reunion. I’ve worked long and hard to come up with a list of things I can be proud of, reasons that I can show my up to my high school reunion without shame. Here are the highlights:

  1. During all the years since graduation I haven’t been featured in The Blotter (our local who’s-who of law enforcement attention).
  2. I’ve never been forced to flee from an angry mob in a foreign country.
  3. My family has never had to arrange my release from a third-world prison.
  4. I’ve never been the awkward subject of a photo that’s gone viral and spawned thousands of memes.
  5. I haven’t bilked any charities for millions and had to flee to the islands.
  6. I haven’t hacked into any multi-national corporations, released inflammatory e-mails, or tried to influence elections.
  7. My personal nuclear program abides by all limitations imposed by the UN.
  8. I’ve never been the subject of a Dateline or 20/20 investigation.

All in all, a pretty good track record, in my opinion. So I may do it. I may face my fears and step into a room full of people I haven’t seen in *information redacted to protect the innocent and vain*  years.

But, until then, please enjoy a few more images from our world during the year of our graduation:

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Author Spotlight: Laurie Bell

Name: Laurie Bell  

Author of: The Butterfly Stone (Wyvern’s Peak Publishing)

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? I think it was a Choose Your Own Adventure story, about a female Doctor Who. I wrote it with a writer friend after school, (I still have it too). But I know I was writing stories well before then, this is just the one that sticks in my memory. I probably wrote fan fiction too… I loved the book The BFG when I was little so I would not be surprised if I wrote something along those lines.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? Seriously? About 5 years ago, but I have been writing since I was a little kid and then when the internet came along I was writing online in various chats, message boards and blogs all the time. A lot of fan fiction stuff and a lot of my own musings, bits and bobs and things that made me happy. LOL I was an angsty teenager, so probably a heap of that too.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? I did a lot of research online and I have a really good friend, who was also going through the author journey at the same time. We helped and still help each other a lot. Once I got onto the online writer community on Twitter things really took off. I have met some wonderful and supportive writers online, met some fabulous CPs (Critique Partners) and editors and friends. You sort of learn things together and help each other out. One person who really was fabulous was a fellow writer (who is also with my publisher). Lauren is an amazing writer and super supportive of her fellow authors.

Do you exclusively Sci-fi/fantasy or have you written in other genres? I mostly write Sci Fi and Fantasy. I’ve also dabbled in Supernatural Contemporary, but I am certainly more comfortable amongst spaceships and magic. It’s my one true love so to speak. When I was little my Poppa read me a book of short stories over and over about knights, witches, dragons and trolls… I got my first taste of fantasy sitting on his knee listening to him read.

 What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? HA! Work life balance? What’s that? I work full time, so I mostly write on the train, at lunchtime and in coffee shops on the weekend. I aim for a chapter a week… sometimes I get more, sometimes less. Depends on the stage of the book I’m at, and, if I’m at the beginning, middle or end or if I am editing.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? First draft usually takes about 6 to 8 months. Then up to a year of edits, depending on if I actually like the first draft or if I end up doing a major rewrite. I also send it to my CP’s for things I miss. My CP’s are the best in the world!

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? As my books tend to be sci fi or fantasy, it’s not so much research as it is worldbuilding. But I do google a lot, read as much as I can, A lot of non-fiction science mags and books too. I enjoy learning and sort of absorb a lot as I read. It finds its way into my stories. In the end, my stories are about the people. Families and friends, so I also look around me at the way people interact with each other. The world is research if you sit back and look. (and a lot of TV and movies… As far as I am concerned… everything is research).

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Hmmmmm do I want to tell you? Haha, I don’t know that they are embarrassing, but yes quirky perhaps? I hand write my first draft (and I have awful handwriting… when I’m in a flow it’s hard to actually read my draft back. When I type it all up I can stare at the page for a good ten minutes trying to figure out what it was that I wrote!

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? I’d love to go to NASA one day. There is also a space array in WA, Australia that I would love to visit… or Hawaii, when there is not an eruption taking place (Mind you…. How amazing are the pictures? Mother nature at her most violent and beautiful.)

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? Oh…. It’s funny. Sometimes it is a view, or an overheard phrase. With The Butterfly Stone it was actually a prompt. I wrote a short story based on a random prompt I read and loved the character so much I wanted to tell the rest of her story.

For Blood Fever (my upcoming novel) I can remember writing parts of it in my little rental on my recliner but I can’t remember the prompt. I know I wanted a female James Bond in space. Secret Agents and spaceships, who wouldn’t want that.

For White Fire (Jan 2019) well… I wrote that when I was 17 (way way way back in the past… and I wrote that because… well… Star Wars (originals). The Empire Strikes Back was my favorite movie. But I wanted Princess Leia to be Han Solo (In my head she was). So, I wrote the Star Wars movie I wanted to see when I was little. A kick ass hero who could rescue herself, defeat the bad guys and save the galaxy.

My newest WIP well… hahaha that came to me on the train.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? Sci Fi and fantasy of course. Anything by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Chuck Wendig. And fan fiction novels… you know, the novelisations that continue a TV show or move once it’s been cancelled? I LOVE those.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Oh yeah, I have references all the way though, but mostly to amuse myself. IF people reading them find them and get the reference well, that’s like an added bonus!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes and no, my characters – my main characters – are all based on who I wish I could be. (Brave, dangerous, awesome…)

Otherwise, mostly they are completely made up… though White Fire does have a few people in it that my friends know about 😊

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. Do you have a couple of years? Hahahaha. Honestly, there are so many indie books that people just don’t know about. I am always giving friends recommendations of books I love. (For sci fi fans… you have to read The Illuminae Files) for Supernatural Noir (The Burned Man series)

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. Oooooooo Pride and Prejudice. But I kinda wish Lizzy had told Darcy to go…. *rest of sentence deleted for inappropriate content*

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? Absolutely. Hahahah there is an American Footballer with my name so unless I put in “writer” or “author” in the search field I am always disappointed!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? I like to believe it would be a wolf or eagle… Something about being a protector of the pack (but also a loner), but somehow I think it would probably be a house cat, like a Burmese 😊 (At least that’s what my partner would say)

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Grammar, OMG I’m not even trying to hide that one. And show… show show show *Sigh!*

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Don’t give up. Stick at it and ignore the people who tell you not to bother or that it is a waste of time and energy for little return. If you love it… do it anyway.

And to understand that rejections are not about YOU as a person. It’s a hard one to learn, but once you understand that, it’s a lot easier to accept a rejection and keep on keeping on.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Don’t stop writing… ever.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I love reading, I will read anything anyone sends me (provided I have time). I love to read, so if you ask and if I have time, I will read anything for anyone and offer suggestions. I’m also happy to listen. It’s a tough business, sometimes just being there is enough.

Want to find more about Laurie?

The Butterfly Stone (The Stones of Power, Book 1)  

“DON’T LET THE SHADOW TOUCH YOU.”

Beware! Something is after Tracey Masters, a Mage-kind teen in a mostly non-magical world—a world where people like Tracey are often feared, and oppressed. Add to this stress a crazy family life, the schizo pressures of school, friends, and bullies, and working a boring job as an assistant at her uncle’s detective agency for magical types, and life isn’t just hard, it’s chaos! That is, until a mysterious woman walks through the door with a case about a missing necklace known as the Butterfly Stone.

The case seems to be the big break Tracey is looking for to prove herself and her abilities as Mage-kind. But she unexpectedly finds herself dangerously connected to it when the evidence takes a turn that reveals secrets from Tracey’s past, and places her friends and family in mortal danger.

She also discovers that she’s being hunted by a shadow that senses her magic is the key to unlocking the power it’s after.
The magic within the Butterfly Stone is too powerful to be contained, but if Tracey doesn’t learn how to control it, and escape the threat of the shadow that surrounds it, she could lose everything and everyone she cares about … beginning with her younger sister, Sarah.

Laurie Bell’s first young adult novel is fresh, fast-paced, and fun. It’s filled with what makes life interesting, hard, and yet, worth living. You’ll believe in magic again, but you’ll also remember that the magic of family and friendship is where life is best lived.

 

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