Announcement: The Light at Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners Book 2)

I am so happy to announce that my second book, The Light at Finnigan’s End, is going to be published on November 5, 2018. I am again working with the wonderful team at Changing Tides Publishing and this novel will be a follow up to A Shine That Defies the Dark, as well as #2 in The Rum Runners series.

 

Here is a little about The Light At Finnigan’s End:

Irish immigrant Deirdre Cassidy is determined to find out what happened to her brother, Finn. With the Great Depression sweeping the nation, Finn turned to the Moret Gang as a means of earning money and now he’s missing.

Deirdre manipulates her way into the depths of the most brutal bootleggers in southern Louisiana and one thing is clear, nothing happens without the approval of Claude Moret or his brother Jack. Before it’s over, Deirdre is determined to kill them both, even if she dies in the process.

The one thing Deirdre never counted on was Mo Moret. Claude’s son is as dangerous as he is magnetic, but Deirdre isn’t convinced he’ll ever be able to set aside his Moret loyalty for love. And Deirdre is determined to see the end of the Morets, however that end must come.

 

For those who are subscribed to my newsletter you’ll get a special sneak peak within the next week. If you’d like an early look at the first two chapters you still have time to sign up for my newsletter here

Many thanks to everyone who continued to ask for a second book and everyone who helped me along the way.

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Author Spotlight: Lucinda Stein

Name: Lucinda Stein

Author of: Jadeite’s Journey (Inkspell Publishing) and Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe

 

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

My first writing was free verse, but after all these years, I couldn’t tell you what I wrote about. I went on to write a novella (to be forever buried in a drawer!)

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

In the beginning, I wrote for my own enjoyment. Later I joined a writers’ group and discovered how much I needed to learn about the craft of writing. With the encouragement of other writers, I eventually worked to get my writing published.

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

Two gracious people were willing to look at my work and give me feedback. At that point, I took my writing seriously and became committed to learning everything I could about writing. Note: This is a lifelong process!

Do you exclusively write sci-fi/fantasy or have you written in other genres?

Jadeite’s Journey was my first sci-fi/dystopian novel, but I’m definitely a multi-genre author. I’ve written historical fiction, contemporary women’s fiction, a collection of short stories, and young adult fiction. I’m currently working on a YA magic realism novel.

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

While I was working fulltime, I would write for an hour or so after work. Now that I’m retired, I don’t have those same time constraints, but I still need to push myself and keep a regular writing routine.

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

My rough draft usually takes four to six months. With historical fiction, the process can take a year to two years. Revisions, which includes my own editing and suggestions from critique groups, can take a year or longer.

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

I usually have a rough idea how the story starts and ends. I do a character study for the main character. One of the most important things is to determine what the MC wants most deeply and why they struggle to attain that desire. This should be an emotional drive (to discover their true worth, find the strength to forgive, etc.) vs. an outward need (such as a job, relationship, etc.) which can be a subplot in the story.

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

I don’t spin three times before sitting down to the computer, but I do like to have coffee or a cold drink at my desk. In the beginning, I used music to set the mood, but now I’ve been writing for so long that just putting fingertips to keyboard gets my brain activated!

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

My first novel came out of lone hiking trips in the San Juan Mountains. Twice I took a wrong turn—once my German shepherd led me back to the trail and on another trip, a friendly hiker steered me straight! After coming across old mining ruins, I was inspired to write my first book, Maggie’s Way: The Story of a Defiant Pioneer Woman, published by Western Reflections Publishing.
A few years ago, I traveled with my husband to Oklahoma and visited his grandparents’ homestead. After hearing family stories while we were there, I found one particular event kept coming back to me. Soon I was researching the Depression era in Oklahoma and the Comanche tribe of which my husband is a member. The result was Dry Run, Oklahoma, a 2018 Oklahoma Book Award finalist.

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

Usually a very small thing is the seed for my story, but it’s an event that sticks in my mind until I write about it. Jadeite’s Journey, my YA novel, came out of my concern for the trouble in the world. I imagined a “perfect” future society. Of course to make a good story, this world turns out to have its own set of problems.

My adult novel, Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe, was inspired by a young woman who actually lived in the back of her antique store. The setting for my book is my hometown, which made for a lot of fun. The eccentric mother in the story—totally fictional!

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

Like my writing, I enjoy a variey of books from YA to adult, contemporary to classics.

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

I don’t intentionally hide things, but writers are definitely thieves. Like that old saying among writers—Watch out or you may turn up in one of my books. (Different names and faces of course!)

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

Consciously or unconsciously, I’m sure my characters are composites of people I’ve known.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I loved Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, a National Book Award finalist and a Printz Award winner. The book shows up occasionally on Instagram (bookstagrams, specifically) but for the most part, seems underappreciated. It’s a unique YA book with a great theme.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

This winter, I read Les Miserable, a 900 page classic. I love the theme of redemption and fresh starts. The guilty part? I had to skim and skip the long passages about the French Revolution and other exceedingly long parts of French political history.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Occasionally, I check on the results of a book promotion.

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

Definitely an owl. They’re always watching (for mistakes, improvement, inspiration) and wise in making decisions (revision, storyline.)

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

I struggle with finding where to start the story. There’s always the temptation to give too much information too soon. The reader need to be “hooked” into the story more than they need to know the main character or anything leading up to the story. Start with conflict and an inciting event.

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

A healthy critique group is essential for growth. Each member should be committed to improving his/her own work. This includes studying the advice of professional writers from books and workshops, and a willingness to take suggestions. In a good critique group, everyone wants to see each other improve.

If a suggestion is made by two or more people, take serious note of that suggestion. There’s so much to learn about the art and craft of writing that the effort can be daunting. Perseverance is required—it’s hard work—but hang in there and never stop learning.

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

Prepare yourself to be disappointed with book sales. Promotion is grueling and building a following takes time. Learn everything you can about the business and pump other authors (hopefully gracious ones) about things you should be doing.

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

Without any financial compensation, I took on a new writer who wanted mentoring. She was so dedicated to learning she quickly grew in skill, became published, and now we critique each other’s work! I am so grateful for the writers in my life who were willing to share what they had learned that I try to pass it on. I encourage new writers to join writers’ groups and also find a critique group with members dedicated to helping each other in a kind, supportive manner.

Want to know more about Lucinda?

 

Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe 

After growing up in the back of a secondhand store, Liza swore she’d never return home. But twenty-three-year-old Liza has lost all sense of direction after her divorce. Her mother, Minnie, a product of the hippie era, now resides in an antique store, her eccentricity known to all in the small Midwestern town. To Liza’s chagrin, she’s once again living in a store.

When a toddler is abandoned in Minnie’s shop, Liza takes in the child she calls Sweetie, hoping the young woman who left her will return. Liza soon finds her priorities change. She falls in love with the little girl and refuses to report Sweetie to the authorities. When the young woman who abandoned the child returns a year later, Liza’s force to make a decision—give up Sweetie or go the run.

Buy Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 

 

Jadeite’s Journey 

Jadeite’s perfect world comes crashing down on her. In the futuristic world of United Society, her only problem has been how to act around the cute boy on the air shuttle. But Jadeite’s world changes when she comes across a man who looks alarmingly like her father. Clones were declared illegal years ago. When she sees her father, a robotic engineer, headed to the Dark Edge of United Society, she follows him and uncovers her father’s secret life.

Jadeite shadows her father past the boundary of United Society and into a primitive world of canyons and high deserts. She learns her father is a Ridge Runner passing between the two worlds. Even more alarming, she discovers her younger brother, Malachite, is sick and requires medicine only available from over the Ridge. After her father is arrested, Jadeite takes his place in order to save her brother’s life.

But her world turns even more precarious after she breaks up with her obsessive boyfriend, Mattie. Jadeite soon learns his threats are more than words, and she finds her life is in jeopardy.

Buy Jadeite’s Journey from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

 

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Author Spotlight: Kim Chance

Name:  Kim Chance

Author of: Keeper; Seeker (coming Fall 2019)

From: Flux Books

 

 

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

The first piece of original fiction I remember ever writing was a short story about a girl named Katie and a boy named Barry who fall madly and love and get married. It was about three pages long. I was very much into romance and fairy tales when I was younger! I still have it somewhere, though I think I’d be slightly horrified to read it! Can we say insta-love? LOL! 

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

I majored in Journalism in college, so I was already on the path of using writing for my career, but I never occurred to me to pursue fiction writing until after I had graduated. I was 22 and newly married. My hubby was deployed and I was living in a brand new town with no friends or family nearby. I started dabbling in fanfiction just for fun, and when a friend suggested I write my own story, I decided to give it a try! The rest, as they say, is history!

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

 Not really. I sort of fumbled way through it on my own, to be honest. I did a lot of research and read a lot of craft books. Now, I’m part of a wonderful writing community and I have some amazing people in my corner. However, when I first started this journey, it was pretty much just me, my laptop, and a dream!

Do you exclusively write fantasy or have you written in other genres?

I’ve not written in other genres yet, but I’d like to in the future. I really don’t want to limit myself or put myself in a box. I know they say that writers should stick to one genre, but I’m not sure I agree with that. I plan to tell whatever story I’m most passionate about at the time, regardless of genre. Fantasy is definitely a soft spot for me, so I’m sure I will continue to write those types of stories, but I’d love to branch out as well.

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

My schedule is 100% unpredictable. I have two school-age children and a baby. That in itself is a recipe for chaos! J I do the majority of my writing at night once the littles are asleep. It’s not ideal, but it’s the only time I can truly focus without interruptions. I do try to squeeze writing time in during the day if I can (i.e. while the baby naps), but I usually have other responsibilities to manage during that time (laundry, cleaning the house, paying bills, etc.) as well. It is VERY difficult to juggle everything, and honestly, I’m not sure I’ve yet to figure out a true work/life/writing balance yet. I’m constantly working towards that though. I think the key is readjustment and trial and error. Just keep changing things up until you find what works for you!

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

FOREVER. I’m seriously the world’s slowest drafter. When I wrote Keeper, I wasn’t agented and I didn’t have a publishing contract, so I wrote on my own timetable. It took me about three years to write the draft that ended up being the published book. For Seeker, the sequel to Keeper, I’m on deadline with my publisher. I have a little less than six months to write and turn in the draft. No pressure! Revisions tend to go much quicker for me because I enjoy the revision process so much more than drafting. I’ll likely get about two months or so to revise Seeker before it gets sent off for ARC printing.

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

I’m a big plotter, so I do an extensive outline and character profiles before I begin each book. If there’s research to be done, I typically try to do as much as I can ahead of time, but stuff always comes up while I’m drafting too.

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

Haha! No, not really. I’m pretty boring! I do need music and hard candy though (jolly ranchers are my fav!).

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

Unfortunately, not. I’ve never been outside of the US, which is something I hope to remedy soon! There are so many places I’d love to see and visit—especially for writing inspiration!

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

For me, I don’t think it was one specific thing that inspired the story in Keeper. There were many things! I do remember the moment when a certain plot twist popped into my head. It changed EVERYTHING I had already written, but it was so exciting, I didn’t mind!

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

I’m a pretty eclectic reader, but fantasy and historical are my favorites!

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

I didn’t do that in Keeper, nor do I have anything like that planned for Seeker. However, I do have another WIP that I plan to finish after Seeker is turned in. In that book, there are multiple easter eggs!

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

Yes and no. Most of the characters are entirely their own people, but there are some bits and pieces I pulled from real like. For example, Lainey’s name comes from my middle name which is Elaine. I’m named after my grandmother and wanted to honor her in that way. Also, Maggie, Lainey’s best friend, is very similar to my real life best friend, Carrie. Carrie isn’t a comic book nerd, but she is fiercely loyal and protective of me and always has my back—just like Maggie always has Lainey’s! I also used my husband as inspiration for the villain of the story, the Master. That sounds really odd, doesn’t it? Lol! My husband has a pretty dry sarcastic wit and so does the Master. That’s where the similarities stop though!

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer. It’s her adult sci-fi and it’s one of my favorite books of all time. It’s so undervalued and appreciated, which is a shame because it’s an incredible book. I can’t recommend it enough.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Twilight, of course! (Also, by Stephenie Meyer)

 Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

 Not very often, but I have done it before!

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

 I would definitely choose a fox! I think they’re cute and clever!

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

Characterization. I always feel like I need to dig a little deeper with my characters. I usually get there, but it takes a while to really get inside their heads.

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

 Don’t be your own worst enemy. Writing a book is a difficult process, and it’s very easy to succumb to self-doubt and fear. Don’t stop yourself from doing what you love just because it’s scary. Keep writing and never stop. You can do it!

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

Don’t read your reviews. I know the temptation is there, but don’t do it. Reviews are for readers not for authors, and while the good reviews are awesome, negative reviews can really hamper creativity. Have someone else send you the good ones, but stay away from the bad ones. Protect your creative headspace!

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

Helping other writers is super important to me! That’s why I started my YouTube channel so that I could share what I’ve learned on my journey with others. I post weekly writing advice videos on my channel. I also host a monthly twitter chat to help writers connect with other writers under the hashtag #Chance2Connect. The chat is on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 9pm CST.

Want to find out more about Kim?

 

Keeper

When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother.

After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book. But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic.

With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book.

 

Get your copy of Keeper from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

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Author Spotlight: Katerina Baker

Name: Katerina Baker

Author of: The Corner Office (Self Published)

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? I always thought I would be a full time writer in retirement, but until then I am managing to write in my spare time. As to whether I can call it a profession? I am definitely not the writer who has ambition to release many books per year. I prefer to let the books “stew” and grow, add on shape that can only happen when I take breaks from the novel I’m writing.

The first book I completed was started six years ago, which began my journey as an author. I remember sending my very first query letter to a New York City agent–only one because I did my research and I knew he was the perfect agent for me–and waiting for a phone call from him that same day. I think I even moved my meetings around so I would be available when he called.

Right.

That phone call never came, but I made another important one–to the editor who agreed to help me get the book into shape. Many revisions and almost three years later, that book did earn me my agent, which brings me to answering your next question…

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? God, too many people to count. But a few people did make a tremendous difference in my writing career. First off, my long-time writing buddy and an amazing author Camilla Monk. She was my first true fan who helped me see potential in my work. I remember how high I felt receiving her comments after she read my work in progress. I think all authors needs a few good cheerleaders, and Camilla was that person for me when I was just starting out.

The other people who really helped me are my agents. They worked with me on many gruesome revisions, relentlessly making me kill my darlings and pointing me in the right direction.
Do you exclusively write romance or have you written in other genres? All of the books I’m writing have strong Romantic aspect, but I’ve decided to not market all of them as Romance because some of them are not traditional romance. My latest novel Under the Scrubs, which will be published soon, will be marketed as Mystery, but there is a very strong romantic element and happily-for-now ending.
What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? I am one of those writers who gets up at 5 am to get a few words in and then revise it on the bus to work. I also write at nights and on weekends while my kids are at various activities. Overall, I find myself more productive when I do a few dedicated spurts of writing rather than doing it continuously for many hours. I need my breaks to produce the best stuff.
How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? The first draft might take 3-4 months but revisions could sometimes take years. The first novel in a series always takes longer, but sequels come much easier since I already have the special bond with the characters.
Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? I prefer to write about a topic that I know about, and my pre-work is focused around drafting a few-page synopsis.
Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? You mean the quirky habits I’d never want to tell anyone but your blog readers? None. Absolutely none. Just kidding. Well, when I get stuck, I like to play “what if” game with my kids. I give them a vague situation and ask them what would they do if they faced it. They win extra points if they find something absolutely ridiculous to resolve it. Under the Scrubs features quite a few of their gems, which is why this novel is that much more special for me.
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’ve extensively traveled in Turkey for a book I am writing. It’s about two Americans experiencing life in this beautiful country, and I wanted to make it truly authentic.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? The inspiration for Under the Scrubs came when I watched a movie about an FBI agent rescuing a girl-next-door. The movie finished as they walked into sunset together, and I thought, wait a minute. Would it really happen in real life? Would the people like that really get their happily-ever-after and what would it look like? The idea was born: pair up the most different people imaginable and explore their relationship, throw the craziest situations their way and see whether they’d manage to come out together. Would it work out? Would they be able to move past all the conflict? Or maybe life doesn’t really work that way. That’s how the idea started, but it evolved into a really fun novel and some really unusual characters.
Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? I love to read all sub-genres of Romance, particularly Romantic Suspense. In humorous mystery, Janet Evanovich is my hero.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? I hide a murder mystery in my books, but you’ll need to read all of them to find out. Just kidding.

I don’t know if this is really a secret but I spend a lot of time making up the names of fictional places in my books. A few of my characters also love to give nicknames for things, and I spent quite some time making those perfect.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? The female characters in my books are inspired by the women I knew and admired. I love writing about smart women: they are leaders, scientists, even hackers. They create their own destiny and make things happen. They show me the world I want for my daughters.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. There are so many undiscovered books that deserve more attention. I love Camilla Monk’s Spotless series. I think it’s a new classic that everyone should binge-read. How could you not love a hitman with an OCD?

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. You’ll get me in trouble here. I could spend days binge reading Outlander. I am the type of person who can re-read my favorite books over and over again and never get bored. I do sometimes go to my favorite scenes on my tenth read, though.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? Never. I don’t care nearly enough what people think of me. This is the same reason I rarely read book reviews. I always reply to any direct messages sent by my readers, though. Those are truly special.

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

It would be a pink pussy hat worn during women march.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? I could improve my world-building skills, particularly when writing imaginary places.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Never give up. If you want something badly enough, keep at it. Be open to constructive criticism, no matter how hard it might be to hear. Constantly grow and learn from others, and eventually it will happen. If you never give up, it’s not a question of if, but of when.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Market your book would be the smart advice, but really, do what makes you happy. Write a new book.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I spend a lot of time reading work-in-progress by other authors and providing feedback. I would love to be able to do more collaborations on marketing, but there’s never enough time in a day.

Where can people find more about you?

 

The Corner Office                                                            

Tara Johnson’s sacrifices are about to pay off: a senior executive at thirty-five at a Fortune 500 company, she’s one of the two finalists in line for a Managing Director position. Unfortunately, her rival of fifteen years, the charming, infuriating Richard Boyd, is just as qualified, and unlike her, he’s willing to cross pretty much every line to get what he wants.
Of all the things Tara stored in the attic to make it to the top, it’s her personal life she misses the most. That is, until she starts a steamy affair with sex god Aidan, her direct report. Interoffice relationships with a subordinate can mean the end of a career, and when Richard finds out, it’s the perfect opportunity to take his high-heeled nemesis out, especially since he’s still nursing a grudge against Tara for rejecting him years ago.
But Tara’s increasingly domineering lover has his own dark secrets, endangering more than just her career. As her liaison spirals out of control, salvation will come from the man she always thought she hated, and perhaps the only one to truly understand her.

 

Buy your copy of The Corner Office on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

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Author Spotlight: Sharonlee Holder

Name: Sharonlee Holder

Author of: Resurgence; Renegade (coming in 28 May 2018; Changing Tides Publishing)

From: Johannesburg, South Africa

 

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

It was so long ago that I think it involved a stone tablet, hammer and chisel. LOL. I do, however, remember writing a short story for my girls when they were little entitled ‘Betty & Bumper Go Adventuring’. I printed it out, drew pictures for it and stapled its ‘spine’ together. I think one of the girls may still have it somewhere.

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

I have always written for my own entertainment and spent the last ten years writing characters and telling their stories with others in various collaborative roleplaying communities themed around the world of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern book series. I also participated in NaNo in both 2012 and 2014. It wasn’t until the April Camp Nano in 2016 (during which the first 50k words of Resurgence were written) that I began to dream about the idea of turning my storytelling passion into a profession.

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

My family and a couple of close friends. I know, that sounds so cliched. But were it not for their encouragement and support, I would never have had the courage to submit Resurgence in the first place. I must give my mom extra kudos for the hours and hours that she patiently listened to me blathering on about my characters like they were real people. She is still my number one sounding board when I need to brainstorm a plot twist or when I’m having a crisis of word flow.

Do you exclusively write paranormal romance or have you written in other genres?

I have a half-finished contemporary MC romance that is a stand-alone that I hope to complete this year and submit for consideration. NaNo 2012 I started but never completed a high fantasy novel, but even that has romance woven into it 😉

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

As an adult with ADD, maintaining any kind of balance and/or focus can be a challenge at times. This is where my passion for music comes in and helps to centre me during writing sessions. I am also truly grateful to be able to say that writing is my work. While I also design patterns for crochet toys and sell those through my Etsy shop on the side, I am determined to turn my writing passion into a sustainable career. Scary, nerve-wracking but altogether exciting too!

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

Resurgence took me four months to write, Renegade, five months – longer if you count the break I took when I began writing the MC Contemp Romance I have yet to finish. I’m hoping to get book 3 out in four and a half months.

 

As for revisions, I am a lineal writer that starts at Chapter 1 and writes straight through to The End, editing as I go. While this approach does to tend to slow me down so far, it has also served to lessen the need for hefty revisions. I am also a total pantster. While I may know the overall plot and how the book will end, my approach is very definitely that of discovery writing. My little ADD brain would get bored and disengage if it knew too much in advance 😉

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

Since I’m a pantster and revel in discovery writing, I tend to research as I go. Again, it does make for a bit of a stop-start approach but so far, it’s worked for me. That is, if you discount falling down rabbit holes that began with Googling: How long does it take to dig a grave by hand? And somehow ends with: Watching a Facebook video of someone making a three flavour swiss roll. I can’t even claim that I then went on to make said swiss roll for the family. LOL.

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

I feel like I should plead the fifth here. LOL. Coffee. There must always be coffee! Coffee and a short one-minute track from the band Thousand Foot Krutch called The Introduction that I listen to on my headphones at the start of each writing session. Not sure if it’s because I’m trying to invoke my muse, or it simply helps to clear the cobwebs from my head, but it seems to get me into the space I need to be in. The lyrics:

Welcome. You have activated all systems. Deactivation is not an option. You must find the truth. Remember, not everything is what it seems. If you don’t stand for something, you might fall for anything. The end is where we begin.

The link: https://youtu.be/azkL37-ipKU

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 have! Aside from visiting the local graveyard where Ross, Apollo, Ares and Keanu have their little showdown in Resurgence, my #HEA surprised me with a trip to Underberg in the Drakensberg mountains to the exact location that has inspired the compound that Eros and the resistance take over at the end of Resurgence. It was amazing! There is an old abandoned hospital that inspired the one in Renegade (book 2) that’s just down the road from where I live. However, since it’s listed as one of the top ten most haunted places in South Africa I am way too chicken to check it out myself 😉 There I cheated and relied heavily on Youtube videos taken inside the dilapidated buildings by paranormal investigators and Google Earth for a 3D external view. I’ll be sharing some of those links on my blog and Facebook in the weeks leading up to Renegade’s release.

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

With my #HEA being a patched member of the Hell Razors bike club, inspiration for my unfinished contemporary MC romance is taken directly from my and his involvement in the biker club life. The inspiration for Blood of The Custodians grew from a series of What Ifs after watching the delicious Henry Cavill in the 2011 movie, Immortals – What if the gods of Greek and Roman times still lived among us? What would they look like? What would their politics be? How would they integrate with us and what have they been up to for the past one thousand years?

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

Paranormal romance all the way with a brief tour here and there through high or urban fantasy as well as historical fiction as written by the incredible Ken Follet. When it comes to PNR, I will admit to having a mega fangirl crush on JR Ward, author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and would probably swoon dead away if ever I got to meet her. Ward writes PNR and vampires like no one I’ve ever read before – Edgy, fast-paced, steal-your-breath away, melt-your-bones stuff. Karen Marie Moning, author of the Fever series is a close second – Jericho Barrons is delicious! When it comes to contemporary romance, Lori Foster’s Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor is my all-time favourite series from her so far. In this series, Foster writes the perfect blend of hot alpha males working as white hat mercenaries with steamy romance all while dealing with the grim reality of the modern-day slave trade.

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

Haha. Yes. Yes, I do 😉 There is a scene in Resurgence where Antara encounters Tryston (The Dark Hunter) for the first time that was inspired by a recurring nightmare I used to have as a teenager living at the coast. In Renegade, there is a scene set in Chicago that briefly touches on a strange little house squished between two modern hotels. Back in March of 2013, during a trip to the States, I stood outside in the middle of a snowstorm opposite the real-life inspiration and told my #HEA that one day, I would write a book and put that little double-storey house in it. Total squee moment when finally, I got to do just that! I only wish I could have written more about it.

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

Oh, this could get me into trouble. LOL. One or two of my characters are certainly drawn from real-life inspiration. For instance, Hailey, Antara’s BFF, is a composite of the close friend of one of my daughters and a friend of mine from the Hell Razors all wrapped up in the bounce and charm of a Jack Russell 😉 The real-life sources of Hailey’s inspiration are aware of this. Except the Jack Russell who was more interested in chasing imaginary squirrels than hearing how she had inspired a character.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

Gladiatrix by Russell Whitfield. I received the first book as a gift from a dear friend back in 2011 and loved reading about Lysandra, a Spartan warrior priestess who fights her way from shipwrecked slave to fearsome victor in the gladiatorial arena facing many deadly foes and circumstances along the way.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Wheels Up (Out of Uniform) by Annabeth Albert. A m/m military romance I thoroughly enjoyed Annabeth’s exploration of the psychology and dangers involved when a pair of new lovers suddenly find themselves thrust into the forbidden territory of a relationship between a commanding officer and enlisted man due to an unforseen transfer. What an emotional rollercoaster! And…hot, hot, hot!

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Haha. Haven’t we all? My results are pretty boring though. It’s all book/author stuff and the various crochet and cross stitch patterns I’ve designed for magazines or that I sell on my Etsy shop.

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

Given how dragon obsessed I am, that would have to be it 🙂

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

Putting down more words in a day that by the end of it, will survive my daily edits. My greatest aspiration is to be able to achieve a steady flow of between 3,000 and 4,000 words a day that make it passed edits.

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

Read. Read, read, read! And I don’t just mean novels in the genre you want to write in but everything about the craft of writing and publishing that you can get your hands on! Sign up for newsletters that offer free advice, read articles by other authors, editors and publishers. Follow published authors, editors, agents and publishers on social media as they not only have sage advice to give but will often share articles on all things related to the craft of writing. Things such as the difference between ‘showing’ and ‘telling’, character growth, plot development, query letters, writing a synopsis etc. Angela Ackerman on twitter is a brilliant place to start. She’s always sharing amazing tips and hints.

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

Social media! That’s two. #mybad. Seriously though, get on social media, follow other authors, book reviewers, bloggers, like their posts, share their stuff, retweet. Reach out. ENGAGE! It’s not just about marketing your book. You need to network and build relationships too.

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

While I’m not as good about blogging as I should be, I do like to reach out one-on-one and share what I’ve learned in terms of what’s worked for me and what hasn’t, what info is out there for the taking and where to find it. I know how lonely and overwhelming the journey can be and how much just even the smallest bit of encouragement can help.

Where can people find more about you?

 

 

BLOOD OF THE CUSTODIANS 

RESURGENCE – Book one

It’s been a thousand years since the Fates destroyed Olympus, forcing the gods into exile among the humans. Now, led by Eros, the sons and daughters of the Olympians are preparing for war. They are determined to win their freedom, but the Fates will do anything to keep the status quo. A prophesied weapon—said to be able to destroy the Fates—is sought by both sides.  Eros and the resistance want to use it to win their freedom, while the Fates race to find the weapon first and destroy it.

 

Antara, a hybrid of human and Custodial descent, comes into her ancestral powers as the very Tracker Eros needs to find the weapon. Kidnapped, held hostage and forced to confront the hidden truth about her own heritage, Antara is drawn deeper and deeper into a world she never knew existed. Things would be a lot simpler if she could just hate Eros for bringing her here; if his fate weren’t now bound to her own—and if, despite everything, she didn’t already find herself falling in love with him…

 

Set in modern day urban South Africa, Resurgence is a fast-paced paranormal romance featuring rich, dynamic characters centered on a smoldering love story and timeless themes.

 

One Liner: Love has the power to move gods.

 

BUY LINKS: FREE

Amazon
Smashwords
Nook

 

 

 

RENEGADE – Book two

In the ongoing war between the Fates and the resistance, Colin Murphy, bastard son of Hades finds himself caught between his loyalty to Eros and a past intent on destroying him.

Pursued by Persephone’s bounty hunters with a pissed-off daemon to contend with, there is one thing that Murphy knows for sure – Hailey, the human he now shares his mind and body with, is the innocent in all of it. She is a firefly flickering in the darkness of his black existence and he will do anything to protect her light.

Groomed to be a socialite with a conscience and with her future mapped out for her, nothing could have prepared Hailey for the rude ending to life as she knew it. Or, for that matter, the impact of living in such close, intimate confines with a forsaken son of hell. He’s powerful, dangerous and her only hope of escaping the dark forces after her.

Boundaries will be tested, loyalties questioned, and hearts pushed to the limits in this action-packed paranormal romance that continues the epic Blood of the Custodians saga by Sharonlee Holder.

 

One Liner: He’ll risk his heart to save her soul.

 

PRE-ORDER LINKS:

Amazon Pre-order 

Nook Pre-order

 

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A Colorado Girl and Harry Potter Fandom

A few weeks ago I was in Scotland. Aside from the castles, thrones, and really old stuff (more to come on that later) I had the chance to indulge in some Harry Potter fandom. Just to clarify, I’m not someone who knows Harry Potter trivia in detail. I’ve read the books, seen the movies, and I’m a fan of both and of the mystique that surrounds all things Potter-ish.

That said, while in Scotland I did engage in some literary fandom. Months before our trip my sister-in-law, Kate, sent me a link to The Elephant House. This (for those who don’t know) is a lovely little tea & coffee shop in Edinburgh where JK Rowling spent some time writing Harry Potter while looking out the windows at amazing architecture of that historic city. After some more research I discovered just how rooted in Harry Potter this little cafe has become. People from all over the world visit and, because it’s become the thing to do, write messages on the bathroom walls. Initially, the owners and staff tried to paint over the graffiti, but it’s rumored that by the end of the day the walls would be covered again. And so they gave up. Now, the walls of the bathrooms, the mirrors, pictures, towel dispensers, even the ceilings have messages to and from Harry Potter fans from across the world.

And so, not only did I have a beverage–Fleur’s Fantasy–and a delicious piece of Victorian sponge cake, I made a point to use the bathroom (and I brought a marker and put my name on the wall!).

                

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Hunger: A Tale of Courage by Donna Jo Napoli

 

 

 

“Through the eyes of twelve-year-old Lorraine this haunting novel from the award-winning author of Hidden and Hush gives insight and understanding into a little known part of history—the Irish potato famine.

It is the autumn of 1846 in Ireland. Lorraine and her brother are waiting for the time to pick the potato crop on their family farm leased from an English landowner. But this year is different—the spuds are mushy and ruined. What will Lorraine and her family do?

Then Lorraine meets Miss Susannah, the daughter of the wealthy English landowner who owns Lorraine’s family’s farm, and the girls form an unlikely friendship that they must keep a secret from everyone. Two different cultures come together in a deserted Irish meadow. And Lorraine has one question: how can she help her family survive?

A little known part of history, the Irish potato famine altered history forever and caused a great immigration in the later part of the 1800s. Lorraine’s story is a heartbreaking and ultimately redemptive story of one girl’s strength and resolve to save herself and her family against all odds.”

 

I’ve been a fan of Donna Jo Napoli’s writing since I stumbled upon Hush while doing reviews for an old YA book review site. When I saw Hunger listed on NetGalley I requested it right away and crossed my fingers that I’d get approved. I was not disappointed.

Napoli has once again proven that she is a master in historical fiction. Not only has she constructed a well-researched world for her characters, but she’s delivered a heart wrenching storyline that kept me thoroughly tied to the pages.

Hunger is set during the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840’s. Twelve-year-old Lorraine, awakens one morning to the panicked sounds of her parents desperately trying to salvage their crops from another devastating fungal outbreak. In Lorraine’s small community of cottier farmers—and across Ireland—the Irish tenants face another winter of starvation and disease while their British landlords ignore—and even deny—their plight.

Lorraine soon finds herself walking a line between her dying friends and family and a friendship with the landlord’s sassy and self-involved daughter. Lorraine finds herself trying to convince Susannah as to the reality of the plight of the Irish, but Susannah has been raised believing the Irish have every opportunity if only they would take it upon themselves to fulfill them.

Hunger is filled with heartbreaking realities and conflicting moral decisions that must be made as Lorraine and her friends face a crisis of historical proportions. I was mesmerized, heartbroken, and could even feel the hunger—and guilt—as I read. Donna Jo Napoli has proven again that she is a master of historical fiction.

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to review this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Hunger: A Tale of Courage here on Amazon.com

 

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Double Cover Reveal: A Falling Friend & A Forsaken Friend

 

 

A FALLING FRIEND
There are two sides to every friendship.
After spending her twenties sailing the globe, making love on fine white sand, and thinking only of today, Teri Meyer returns to Yorkshire – and back into the life of childhood friend Lee. Plus, there’s the new job, new man – or three – and the guaranteed lump sum of a bursary for her academic research piece on the way. Life is first-rate.
What could possibly go wrong?
Going out on a limb to get best friend Teri a job at the same university seemed like a great idea. But it doesn’t take long for Lee Harper to notice a pattern. Teri seems to attract trouble, or maybe she creates it, and Lee can see exactly where things are spiralling – downwards. But Teri’s not the sort to heed a warning, so Lee has no choice but to stand by and watch.
And besides, she has her own life to straighten out.
For fans of BRIDGET JONES, this ‘witty’ chick lit has been described as a ‘rollicking good read’ and is the first in the FRIENDS trilogy following the lives of two thirty-something women, who, despite their close friendship, don’t always see eye-to-eye.
Amazon US Amazon UK Barnes & Noble Goodreads

A FORSAKEN FRIEND
No-one said friendship was easy.
Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help.
But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire…
It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined.
Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea.
The FRIENDS trilogy continues in this heartwarming and hilarious hoot as two best friends navigate men, careers, family and rock bottom in this brilliant sequel to A FALLING FRIEND.
Amazon US    Amazon UK

 

About the Authors

Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations.
More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University.
The pair, who have been friends for 25 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage).
Their debut novel, A Falling Friend, published by Lakewater Press, has been followed by a second book, A Failing Friend, in their Friends trilogy.
Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home.
Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.
They blog about books at https://bookloversbooklist.com/
You can find both Sue and Susan on Twitter: @SueF_Writer and @wordfocus

 

Giveaway
One winner will receive an e-book of A FALLING FRIEND and an e-ARC of A FORSAKEN FRIEND as well as wine voucher!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cover Reveal: Alive? by Melissa Woods

Alive?
Melissa Woods
(The Alive? Series, #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: October 30th 2018
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Zombies

Everyone knows the first rule of the zombie apocalypse: Don’t. Get. Bitten.

Too bad Violet has never been great at following the rules. Walking home after a night of partying, she manages to let one of the Dead take a chunk out of her only hours after they’ve begun walking again. Fortunately for Violet, she doesn’t die. Unfortunately for Violet—she’s not exactly alive, either.

Violet’s body is undergoing changes, and suddenly the taste of human flesh is not as revolting as it once sounded. Controlling her new urges will be hard. Living with survivors who have no idea will be even harder. And the real zombies? They still want to eat her, too…

Surviving the zompocalypse is tricky when you play for both teams.

New from author Melissa Woods, Alive? is a heart-pounding adventure with suspenseful plot twists, complex characters, and a dash of dark humor. Gritty and raw, Alive? is sure to keep you guessing, and will delight zombie apocalypse fans everywhere.

Add to Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Melissa is a Primary School teacher by day and a writer by night. She grew up in a small town in the UK, and spent of her time with her nose in a book. Her childhood was filled with R.L Stein, Jacqueline Wilson, and J.K Rowling, and they inspired her to begin creating her own worlds. Melissa has always been fascinated with stories about living through an apocalyptic event, and with characters who feel so real that they become part of the reader long after the book was put away. She wrote the first draft of Alive? at sixteen, and has been hooked on writing ever since.

When she’s not writing, Melissa enjoys reading, playing video games, crocheting, and spending time with her two dogs (and occasionally her husband).

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