Author Spotlight: James L. Weaver

Name: James L. Weaver 

Author of: Poor Boy Road; Ares Road; Blackbird Road (Lakewater Press)

Jack & Diane

From: Olathe, Kansas (a suburb of Kansas City, a mere 250 miles from the geographic center of the United States)

 

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

The first story of any real length was a handwritten tale of a monster versus a knight that I did for a high school English class – Sir (something or other) and the Gorgon, I believe it was called. I still have it in a box in the basement and it is pretty horrible. Maybe when I become a New York Times Best Selling author, I’ll auction it off for charity. Maybe. It’s pretty bad.  Though, I did get an “A” on the assignment!

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

I’ve always had the thought it would be “fun” to be a writer. I’d written a lot of short stories and a couple of novels, and I tried to unsuccessfully land an agent. I didn’t really have an inkling that it could be a possibility until I finished the first draft of Poor Boy Road. I still didn’t have an agent, but I had a vision of a series featuring Jake Caldwell that might just get me to where I wanted to go. I still can’t quit my day job, but I’d love to be able to write full-time.

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

Number one above anyone else is Kate Foster at Lakewater Press. She’s the one who came to me and said she loved Poor Boy Road and wanted it. She guided me in carving and polishing that lump of stone into an award winning novel I’m very proud of. She’s a fantastic cheerleader and I’m so glad she took a chance on me.

Do you exclusively write crime thrillers or have you written in other genres?

I love crime thrillers, but I had an idea years ago about a coming of age love story between a boy and girl in Kansas City. I wrote the manuscript and went through the agent hunting process with no success. I let it sit in a drawer for a number of years and discovered it again when I was looking for tax records or something. After I read it again, I decided it was too good a story to just sit and rot in the bottom of a drawer. So, I polished and went agent hunting again. About that time, my mom was diagnosed with cancer with a bleak prognosis. She’d always encouraged my writing and I could think of nothing she’d love more than to have my book in her hands, so I decided to self-publish it. Unfortunately, the cancer was vicious and she died three months from diagnosis, so she never got to see it. It’s gotten great reviews and I’m proud of it. I have someone sniffing around for a movie option of it, so I reworked it and had professional editor Rebecca Carpenter work her magic on it. So, the new and improved Jack & Diane is now available on Amazon. It really is a sweet story and anyone who grew up around the 80’s will love the references.

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

I have a full-time job, a great wife and two active teens involved in sports and other extracurricular activities. As such, I don’t really have a set schedule, but write when I can squeeze it in – most typically between 10 pm and midnight when everyone else goes to bed and a few hours squeezed in on the weekends. It really depends on what stage of the writing process I’m in and if I’m binge watching anything on Netflix or Amazon.

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

First draft has typically been about five to six months and then another month on the first round of revisions. It depends on how hung up I get on the plot. The plot for Poor Boy Road crystallized in my mind in a fifteen minute car ride. For my upcoming Jake Caldwell novel Blackbird Road, I got really hung up on a few of the plot points and it took me much longer to work through those road blocks.

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

The process has grown. With Poor Boy Road, I didn’t outline the book at all. I just wrote it because I had a clear line of sight of where I wanted it to go right from the get go. Ares Road was a more complex plot and I made it a little more than halfway through it before I realized I was confusing myself and mucking the story up. I sat down and plotted it out and the story flowed much better. Blackbird Road was even more complex with Jake going up against two different villains, each with their own plotlines and I got seriously locked up trying to work through things, even with a formal outline. The book Mastering Suspense, Structure and Plot by Jane Cleland really helped me burst through the roadblock and provided me with a different methodology to map out the entire book. I’d highly recommend the book and her process if this is something you struggle with.

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

Not that I can think of. I’m a pretty regular, down to earth guy.

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 books are set in Kansas City and around Warsaw, Missouri which is a small town in Benton County around the Lake of the Ozarks. It’s an area where my dad and his family grew up and I spent a lot of time in the area as a kid. While I was writing Poor Boy Road, my dad and I hopped in the car and he drove me around the area and told me a lot of stories about the area and his life, some I’d heard and many I hadn’t. We hit the nice areas with sprawling ranches with pretty white fences, and some areas with trailers and houses in such shambles that you’d think they were abandoned until you saw someone moving about or laundry hanging on a clothesline. I don’t know if you’d call that a literary pilgrimage or not, but it spurred my writing and is one of my favorite memories with my dad.

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

I had the character of Jake Caldwell mulling in my head for months, but couldn’t come up with the right setting to place a leg breaker for the mafia who wanted out.  When I traveled back to Warsaw for my grandmother’s funeral, the beautiful setting of the area mixed in with the seedier aspect of the county’s drug problem seemed a perfect setting to establish where Jake came from. The inspiration and the entire plot literally developed in the car ride from the cemetery back to my dad’s house.

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

I love thrillers, but am evolving to other genres. There’s really three authors that I will immediately buy anything they write – Stephen King, Lee Child and John Sandford. Give me a good supernatural King tale, or an intense ride with Child’s Jack Reacher or Sandford’s Lucas Davenport and I’m on cloud nine. A few other authors that knock my socks off are John Hart, Jonathan Tropper and Fredrik Backman – my Lord can those guys write! They make me feel like a kindergartner with a crayon and a Big Chief tablet.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? There’s some nuggets hidden in that only a select few will catch. The fun part is when they call you out on it.

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

You can’t craft a character out of thin air that doesn’t take on some semblance of real people in your life. You pick a trait here and there from different people and mold them into a relatable character. As a tribute to friends and fans, a lot of the character last names in my books are based from real life people. The characters themselves are not, but people seem to get a kick out of seeing their name in print. The bad part comes when you have to kill off their “character”! I had two friends whose last names I used as FBI agents in Ares Road and they actually were arguing over a beer one night about which character was better. That was a really cool moment.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. It’s a teenage love story of vampires and werewolves, but Meyer wrote a really compelling tale. I read them all.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Google myself? Maybe once a year. Check my reviews on Amazon or Goodreads? Probably twice a day.

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

Scene setting. I think I’m really good with dialog, but setting a scene is sometimes a challenge. That’s why writers like King, Hart and Backman blow me away – their scenes are so incredibly vivid and I turn green with envy reading them. I’m working on it, though!

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

TRUTH. Find someone who will tell you what sucks and what they love (and they need to do both). Early on, I had beta readers who would hand a draft back and say “That was really good” and that was it. THAT DOESN’T HELP ME! I want someone to tell me they laughed out loud because something was so funny in one part and they laughed out loud at another point because a plot point was so ludicrous. Does it hurt to get that blunt feedback? Hell, yes! But, I’d rather have them tell me so I can fix it, than to have the novel rejected, or get a one star review on Amazon or Goodreads. Find someone who will tell you the truth!

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? MARKETING. Unless you have an agent who is going to do it for you, you’d better figure out a marketing plan. It’s taken me a while to get that through my thick head, but establishing a social media presence and marketing yourself will be key to your success. I still struggle with it, but am getting better. There’s so many great and unknown writers out there – how are you going to make your voice heard through the noise?

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

I’m happy to talk with someone or give a critique of a sample of their work.

Want to know more about James?

  • Visit James at his website
  • Like his Facebook page
  • Follow James on Twitter
  • See what James is posting on Instagram
  • Check out what he’s reading–and writing–on Goodreads  (look for Jack & Diane, Poor Boy Road, Ares Road, and Blackbird Road as there’s a couple other authors by the same name whose books keep showing up on my profile)

 Poor Boy Road (Jake Caldwell, Book 1)

ONCE YOU START RUNNING, IT’S HARD TO STOP.

Mob enforcer, Jake Caldwell is in the dark business of breaking kneecaps and snapping bones. But each job sends him one step closer to turning into the man he swore he’d never become – his violent and abusive father. Leaving the mob is easier said than done, so when his boss offers a bloody way out, Jake has no choice but to take it, even if it means confronting ghosts of old.

Arriving in his Lake of the Ozarks hometown, Jake has two things on his mind: kill ruthless drug lord Shane Langston and bury his dying father. What he doesn’t expect is to fall in love all over again and team up with his best friend Bear, the Sheriff of Benton County, to take Langston down. Racing through the countryside searching for Langston, the web of murder, meth and kidnapping widens, all pointing toward a past Jake can’t escape and a place he never wanted to return – Poor Boy Road.
An AWARD FINALIST crime thriller! Book one in the Jake Caldwell series.

For fans of Jack Reacher and The Prey Series by John Sanford, this “great suspenseful read” is “more truth than fiction” that you won’t be able to put down

Get Poor Boy Road on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 Ares Road (Jake Caldwell, Book 2)

With his days as a mob enforcer behind him, Jake Caldwell’s trying to go straight.

But it seems his past won’t let him go.

His first job working as a private investigator turns up a teenage girl screaming down a dead man’s cell phone, and Logan, his mentor and the only man with answers, beaten into a coma.

Now Jake’s taking it personally.

The only clues Jake has to unravel the mystery are a Russian with a stolen, silver briefcase and three names: Snell, Parley and Ares. Teaming up with his best friend Bear, the Sheriff of his home town, and an attractive FBI agent, Jake quickly discovers they’re not the only ones looking for the briefcase and its deadly contents.

It’s no longer about seeking revenge.

The “thrilling second book in the JAKE CALDWELL series” is a “heart-stopping ride” that won’t disappoint fans of Lee Child’s JACK REACHER and John Sandford’s THE PREY series.

Get Ares Road on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 Blackbird Road (Jake Caldwell, Book 3)

With his wedding day fast approaching and his PI boss heading out of town, ex-mob enforcer Jake Caldwell decides to take one more job before a much needed vacation. But in a matter of days, his client is assassinated and her six-year-old son kidnapped.

With just a few clues, Jake calls on old friends to help track down the person responsible. Only this time his fiancée Maggie, desperate for Jake to leave his violent history behind, can’t guarantee she’ll be there when, or if, he comes home.

But Jake can’t turn his back on those who need him. It’s in his blood.

A perilous plot of lies and secrets unfolds, and Jake encounters criminals more brutal than ever. And when a threat to thousands of innocent lives is uncovered, Jake once again dives back into his past, requesting favors from some unexpected and unsavory contacts.

Jake needs to stay one step ahead of the bad guys if he’s to have any future at all.

The third book in the award-winning JAKE CALDWELL series is an intense, complex, and frantic race against time. Weaver has done it again in this raw and riveting read set in the Ozarks.

Get Blackbird Road on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 Jack & Diane

When his best friend moves away, nine year old Jack Phipps is sure nobody can replace him in the house across the street…until Diane Riven moves in. Their friendship and romance takes us on the journey of their lives, to the sweet places where they learn to love and trust, and the dark corners where bullies terrorize and hearts break. It’s the coming of age story of a boy and girl who discover that together they can accomplish anything, but that even true love has its limits.

Get Jack & Diane on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

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Book Blitz: Hiro Loves Kite by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

 

Hiro Loves Kite
Lauren Nicolle Taylor
(Paper Stars #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 27th 2018
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

We offer our wounds and scars. Understanding that’s part of what makes us beautiful.

Nora finally has her beloved sister Frankie back but that’s just the beginning of their struggles. She must now become Kite. A stronger, more independent version of herself. A King. A guardian.

And Kettle has Kite’s heart. She gives it freely. But as he holds it, dear and close like a lost treasure, something holds him back: A feeling that he doesn’t deserve good things. A looming shadow that threatens to separate them. Kettle must accept that he is also Hiro: A Japanese American with every right to happiness and freedom.

Because Hiro loves Kite. And Kite won’t wait forever for him to tell her.

But they’re standing on icy ground. As the leverage they had on Kite’s abusive father wavers and life on the street affects Frankie’s health, the challenges threaten to break their bond.

Snow is gathering at the station doors and doubts are piling high. They must rely on each other. Believe in the magic that got them this far. If they don’t, it’s not just their future in jeopardy but the fates of all the street kids in their care. All the Kings.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

Frankie Comes Home…

Paying for a hot dog in pennies and dimes is embarrassing. Being two pennies short and having the hot dog stand guy take pity on us was completely humiliating. We’re skinny. I just hope the Kings haven’t eaten everything we had stored away.

Without Kin and Keeps, there’s been a little more to go around. My shoulders sag. Now there are more mouths to feed. My fingers scrape the insides of my pockets, searching for a coin that maybe got snagged in the seams. If I turn them inside out, I really will look like a street urchin. I’m the pirate who opens the treasure chest, finds he’s been beat, and opens it again just to rub it in. I snort.

We wait for a large crowd to head for the subway and melt in. Frankie’s eyes are as wide as a sliced moon as we weave and duck. Eyes on each other, hands gripped tightly.

Kite pushes Frankie’s head under the turnstile as I pay with our last coin. She presses her back into me. The smell of faint perfume, the last of her old life, and salt, the new, coming from her hair. As I reach around her to push the stile, a two for one, her breath catches. I let my hand rest on her waist for a second. Let myself imagine we’re a couple on our way home from a shopping trip, and then it falls like so many un-granted wishes into a fountain.

Leaning close to her ear so she can hear me, I hold my breath, thinking inhaling any more of her sweetness may actually kill me. “Ready?”

She nods. Her cheek brushing my lips.

We take our route to the secret door. To the home we now share like kids playing house, only far too real.

Frankie, to her credit, rolls with the punches. Punch one: Hot dogs instead of roast beef and gravy for dinner. Punch Two: Cheating our way through the subway. Punch Three… I knock on the King’s door, and Krow answers. He looks us up and down, slick and distrustful for a moment, then breaks into a grin. “Kettle! Kite!” he shouts. “Kettle and Kite are home.” He stares at my hands. When he sees there’s no food—only a suitcase—he quickly looks away. But there’s no hiding his disappointment.

Frankie squeezes her way through the doorway into the vast, abandoned subway tunnel. My home. My refuge. And now hers. Blinking, she stands on her tiptoes. Lip in teeth. “Holy hell!” she shouts, and several Kings look her way.

Kite flushes pink, then taps her sister’s shoulder. “Frankie!” she chastises. “Language.”

We step inside, and Frankie swings her head from side to side. “I mean tank you, holy hell.”

We both chuckle, eyes connecting over the top of her head.

Punch three: “This is where we’re going to be staying for a while,” Kite’s voice chases after a galloping Frankie as she jumps from bed to bed. She is the spokes of a traveling star. She is the light you can’t catch.

Frankie doesn’t hear her, and Kite runs to catch her sister. I drag the case inside, plonk it on Kin’s bed. Now Kite’s to share with her sister.

Finally, Frankie stops running and presses a palm to her chest as she wheezes. Kite rushes to her, and she puts both hands on her sister’s shoulders. “Are you okay?”

Punch four is for me, and I feel it sock me right in the guts. As I watch them, I know. Like really know that I would do anything to help them. They are instantly and permanently part of this family. And it scares me.

Author Bio:

Lauren is the bestselling author of THE WOODLANDS SERIES and the award-winning YA novel NORA & KETTLE (Gold medal Winner for Multicultural fiction, Independent Publishers Book Awards 2017).

She has a Health Science degree and an honors degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology. A full time writer, hapa and artist, Lauren lives in the tucked away, Adelaide hills with her husband and three children.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Author Spotlight: Rebecca Carpenter

Name: Rebecca Carpenter  

Author of: The Metamorphosis Series: Butterfly Bones (Book 1), Butterfly Blood (Book 2, Available 8/28/18, Lakewater Press)

From: Fruita, Colorado

 

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

I began writing as soon as I could form a sentence on paper. But the first piece that brought attention to my writing was a poem I wrote in the third grade entitled, “Love Is…” My poem won a contest, and I was placed in a creative writing course with other winners. That’s when I knew my words had power.

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

I think I have always wanted to pursue writing as a profession, but until my kids were raised, I just didn’t have the time. But I didn’t begin with novels. After watching one-too-many poorly written movies, I told my husband I could write a better script than that, and so I did. I bought the software needed for screenwriting and went to town. My first two screenplays won Honorable Mention in the Colorado Screenplay Awards. But after realizing how hard it is to break into screenwriting, I decided to switch to novels.

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

My SCBWI critique group was amazing. And after I used a professional editor, she hooked me up with a local writer to help me learn the “craft” of writing. We have been weekly critique partners ever since, and she has taught me a wealth of writing tips.

Do you exclusively write young adult or have you written in other genres?

I write screenplays, drama and Rom-coms, and I also dabble in picture books and middle grade.

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

I write any chance I can: at work during rest time for the children in my prekindergarten class; in the evenings after supper; early mornings on weekends, and sometimes all day in my pajamas on weekends.  It is quite difficult to balance my writing and family time. My husband complains often of my lack on involvement with him. So I try to shut off the computer and give him quality time as much as possible. This is a challenge when I work sixty hours a week, copyedit part time, and copyedit for Lakewater Press as well.

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

A first draft can take me anywhere from six months to a year, depending on how much time I have to devote to writing and how much research I have to perform.

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

I use a general plotline, as well as write my premise and goals for my point-of-view characters. I use characterization sheets in the beginning to make sure I stay true to facts and personality traits unique to each character. I typically research as it comes up in the script. This way I can be writing and putting my ideas onto paper as they come to me instead of finding myself bogged down in research.

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

Not that I know of. I do have to be surrounded with noise, so I write in the front room with the television on. And if I talk to my hubby on occasion, I can usually get away with it.

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 wouldn’t call it a pilgrimage since I only traveled a few miles. But I visited our local butterfly house and asked lots of questions about raising butterflies and the laws surrounding that. Interesting to find out butterflies are categorized by the government as a pest, and special permits must be obtained to keep and breed them.

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

Inspiration comes in spurts for me. Either feast or famine. So I’ll be flooded with fifty ideas, and I write them all down, or I can go months with nothing. But Butterfly Bones came from a song by The Cure, called “Caterpillar Girl.” It started as a horror, but ended up being a soft science fiction. Darn characters think they know the story better than the writer. J

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

I love to read thrillers, but I also will read anything that’s well-written. Don’t care the genre. Since I work with children, I also love picture books.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? I use family names as well lots of foreshadowing, but nothing all “cloak and daggery.”

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

Sometimes, but not always. I try to give each one a distinct personality by drawing off people I know, but sometimes they are purely made up from my imagination.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I loved Defending Jacob by William Landay. The twists and turns in that book and then the climax were so unexpected that I still think about them, even after years of reading the story. I hope to see it made into a major motion picture someday.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Twilight series.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Nope. But my hubby does.

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

A butterfly, of course.

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

Promotion. Promotion. Promotion.

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

Never. Give. Up. Keep reading. Keep writing. Join a critique group.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? It takes time to write the story, and it takes time to build your audience. Keep at it. Keep at it. Keep at it.

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

I offer free critiques, Beta reading, and give as much advice as I can on my blog. I am always open for questions or general writing advice.

Do you want more information on Rebecca and her books?

 

 Butterfly Bones (Metamorphosis, Book 1)

HER BONES. HER FUTURE. HER SACRIFICE.

“I wish I was a normal fifteen-year-old. I have dreams that I am.”

Fifteen-year-old Bethany Keatley’s life is anything but perfect. Yet despite a rare bone disorder cursing her with the body of a ten year old, a dead mom, and being a target for the school bullies, things could be worse.

She owes her life to her scientist father and the butterfly hormone racing through her blood.

But the discovery of unexpected and horrifying side effects means her dreams of leaving the small-minded town of Springs, Georgia to become a scientist have all but shattered.

Her world becomes a prison and her existence a life sentence.

The only thing keeping Bethany fighting is her true love, football star Jeremiah Wright—if only he felt the same way. And now, with the clock ticking and her future uncertain, courage and the determination to survive must drive her decisions.

But nature has other plans, a sacrifice for Bethany’s life.

In this award-winning incredible debut, Rebecca Carpenter brings to life the “haunting and twisted story” of one girl and an ending that will blow your mind.

 

Get Butterfly Bones on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 Butterfly Blood (Metamorphosis, Book 2)

HER BLOOD. HER LOVE. HER FREEDOM.

“How many of my sins will have to be paid for in blood?”

Sixteen-year-old Bethany Keatley finally has the healthy body and looks she’s always desired. But the price she’s had to pay has left her traumatized.

The only thing making her battle on is the memory of that kiss with Jeremiah.

Now miles from him and living in Florida with an aunt she’s never met, shocking revelations about her parents are too much to bear. After collapsing from exhaustion and shock, Bethany wakes in a hospital bed awaiting test results—results that might lead to the discovery of her unusual butterfly blood.

But that’s the least of Bethany’s concerns when the doctor informs her she’s infected with a parasite and without immediate treatment she’ll die.

Too young to refuse and too weak to fight back, Bethany’s life once again hangs in the balance. Yet her scientific knowledge and suspicious nature lead her to unravel a horrifying web of lies.

Will nature intervene again, demanding another payment?

In this stunning sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES, Rebecca Carpenter raises the stakes and offers up an intense and heartbreaking ride that will leave you shocked to the core.

 

Get Butterfly Blood from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

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Book Review: Butterfly Blood by Rebecca Carpenter

“Nature demands payment. And nature demands balance.”

With the events of Butterfly Bones barely behind her, Bethany Keatley has just begun to settle into her new life when mother nature rears her ugly head again.

Cured of her bone disease and still reeling from her father’s last act, Bethany is now living with her aunt Denise in Florida and trying to adjust to a “normal” life. But the secrets from her past are threatening to rise up and destroy her chance for a new life.

First Bethany discovers a dark truth about her father. And then her miraculous cure, provided by the butterfly DNA that now courses through her veins, may actually prove fatal. But is the danger in the cure, or in the doctors who seem far too invested in studying her further?

In a parallel story line, Jeremiah is also dealing with the events of that last night at the Keatley house. He is not only grieving Bethany, but with losing everything he knows about himself. And there’s also that dark monster in the corner of his mind that’s demanding to be set free.

Butterfly Blood (book 2 in the Metamorphosis series) is an intense, action and emotion packed follow up to a truly unique novel and I couldn’t out it down.

 

*I received a copy of Butterfly Blood from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Butterfly Blood (Metamorphosis, Book 2) 

HER BLOOD. HER LOVE. HER FREEDOM.

“How many of my sins will have to be paid for in blood?”

Sixteen-year-old Bethany Keatley finally has the healthy body and looks she’s always desired. But the price she’s had to pay has left her traumatized.

The only thing making her battle on is the memory of that kiss with Jeremiah.

Now miles from him and living in Florida with an aunt she’s never met, shocking revelations about her parents are too much to bear. After collapsing from exhaustion and shock, Bethany wakes in a hospital bed awaiting test results—results that might lead to the discovery of her unusual butterfly blood.

But that’s the least of Bethany’s concerns when the doctor informs her she’s infected with a parasite and without immediate treatment she’ll die.

Too young to refuse and too weak to fight back, Bethany’s life once again hangs in the balance. Yet her scientific knowledge and suspicious nature lead her to unravel a horrifying web of lies.

Will nature intervene again, demanding another payment?

In this stunning sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES, Rebecca Carpenter raises the stakes and offers up an intense and heartbreaking ride that will leave you shocked to the core.

Get Butterfly Blood from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

About Rebecca Carpenter

Rebecca Carpenter is a native of western Colorado. She is married with two grown children and has been blessed with five amazing grandchildren. She owns and directs a large childcare center where she shares her love for books. She also works as a part time freelance copy editor and interns as an assistant to the editor for a small press, helping others attain their writing dreams.

 

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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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Author Spotlight: TJ Turner

 Name: TJ Turner

Author of: Lincoln’s Bodyguard; Land of Wolves: The Return of Lincoln’s Bodyguard

From: Yellow Springs, OH

 

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

I remember writing a brilliant piece of science fiction, a short story, when I was in about 5th grade (please note the sarcasm here!) I was devastated that it was not accepted into Isaac Asimov’s magazine! I had a lot to learn. I would love to find that story and to see just how horrible it really was. I wrote it late at night when my father brought home this “computer” thing, and I learned I could write a story, save it, and print it out on our old dot-matrix printer.

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

Honestly, it was after graduate school. That experience beat the fun out of me, and I took a long hard look at what I wanted to do with my life. My choices narrowed to astronaut, author, bike racer, or engineer. The first one didn’t work out, even after I chased it to the point of joining the Air Force. The whole bike race thing went pretty good for a while, and I raced at the National level a bit. But the guys who go pro were on a whole other level. I had just finished my PhD in engineering, so I marched happily along that route. When I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to wrote a novel, she told me something like, “that’s way too hard.” Challenge accepted! That first novel is something like that first story—awful!

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

Too many to list! Of course, my wife provided that initial kick (in the posterior). But then I found this really welcoming community of writer’s when I attended the Antioch Writer’s workshop. There I met many other folks on this same struggle to write and become published. In particular, I met Robert Inman as one of the faculty members. He in turn introduced me to his editor, Bill Phillips. Bill read through my second novel, and helped me revise it a few times. Then he delivered the awful news…move on to something else because something in this manuscript is not working. At first I was depressed about that verdict, but then Bill is a man who knows the industry—he worked at Little and Brown as an Editor. And I didn’t have to wait long for inspiration. The idea for LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD struck that very afternoon—for every door that closes! After that, I have several friends who proof-read my manuscripts, to include my wife Nancy, who is brutal in her redactions. Sharon Short, another novelist, has been amazing at giving great focused feedback. And of course, Elizabeth Kracht, my agent is awesome at honing in and finding any flaw. By the time it hits the publisher and my editor, it’s usually pretty clean.

Do you exclusively write historical fiction or have you written in other genres?

So far it’s been just historical fiction. At least all my published works are historical fiction. I know that as writers we sometimes get the advice to “write what you know”, but I think that turns out to be terrible advice. Instead, if you listen to any lectures by Andre Dubus III, I think he nails it. You should write what you are authentically curious about. I love history. In particular, I love American history. I read almost all historical fiction and non-fiction about our nation’s past. So the whole LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD inspiration probably came from that deep curiosity about our own history as a nation.

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

Absolutely! It’s really difficult to sleep. I don’t force the writing. If I feel like it, I write. If I don’t, then I leave it be. I find that works for me. But I am most productive between 10pm and 2am. The kids are asleep. Nancy has most likely fallen asleep with the TV on, and I can just zone out and write. I like to get a chapter a night in. Once I start writing, I need to finish that chapter or scene. Then the next day I start by re-reading that chapter, editing, and then pushing forward.

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

About 6 months. I find that process is getting smoother, and at 6 months I’m fairly confident in the draft I have. LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD took me much longer, but that was the first real published work. I learned a lot from that process.

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

It’s a lot of reading. I can generally narrow it down to a time period, and a general event for background. For instance, with LAND OF WOLVES, I read a ton about the westward migration along the Oregon trail, and then the Lakota wars. So those factor heavily into the second portion of the book. I would say that I spend a good 2-3 months in research up front, then start writing. When I hit walls, I go back to the research.

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

And you want me to tell! Well, I never let anyone read a manuscript until it’s all the way done. I let Nancy read one half way once, and she crushed my motivation to keep going on it. So I finish it, then take a couple of passes myself on the manuscript, then I let her read it. Other than that, I keep a list of words (kind of like filter words if you do a google on that term), to search for in my manuscript. That list has been found from experience, and points to places where I need to make my writing more impactful, or closer to the reader.

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! Or maybe more truthfully, the background came to me when I was out on a road trip. Our family took a trip a couple years ago to Yellowstone, to celebrate my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. So we took an extra week and went along a portion of the route of the Ingles family. My oldest is a huge Little House on the Prairie fan, and she loved stopping at all the sites. So when we traveled through the Dakotas, I started feeling the call of LAND OF WOLVES, and that I had to set a portion of the novel there.

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

So for LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD, that’s easy. When I received Bill Phillip’s recommendation to let go of my current project and move on, I literally left work early. We talked at lunch, and I think I made it another hour before I drove home. I had sunk so much time into that project, to see it flounder was hard to take. It was even harder to have to go home and admit to my wife that I had been spending hours upon hours of my life writing and it would go nowhere. But on the way home I turned on NPR, and Fresh Air was on one of our local channels. Terri Gross was interviewing someone, and they were talking about presidents. When they got to Lincoln she said something to the effect of: “Wouldn’t it be a different country if President Lincoln had a real bodyguard?” And just like that, the title of LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD flashed in my head.

For LAND OF WOLVES, I don’t know if I have such a singular moment. I knew it had to be a continuation of LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD, and I had the first half mapped out in my head. But it took that trip out west to see the second half of the novel. The pull of the landscape and the history there was too great to ignore. It had to go in the book.

And finally, for ANGEL IN THE FOG (working title), which I just turned in, I knew it would be the prequel that would be all about Molly—my female protagonist. Molly really comes into her own in LAND OF WOLVES, and a few friends and readers were hounding me about her story. I just didn’t know if I could write well for a female character, especially as well as Molly deserves. Then, and this is going to sound corny, I first heard the Kesha song Praying, and that was it. I play that song before each writing session on Angel on the Fog. It put me in the right mood to write Molly, and really try to give her the voice she deserved.

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

It’s been a lot of Historical Fiction, and pure history. I might need to branch out! My favorite books? In non-fiction: Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, April 1865, the Month that Saved America, and XXX. Those books really show you how many stories we’ve lost to time. How many people who suffered, or persevered, or overcame awesome struggles, that we’ll never know about. I want to give them all a voice, even if I can only write a few books. On the fiction side, my absolute favorite is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I wish I could write like him. That was the first book where I NOTICED amazing writing. After that, Red Badge of Courage (an oldie!), Cold Mountain, and True Grit. All great reads.

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

YES! But if I tell you…but yes, I do!

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

Yes and no. They’re all bits and pieces of real people I meet and characters I make up.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

There’s a few that grab me as being under appreciated. One that comes to mind is True Grit. And I know, it’s wildly popular. But it didn’t win any awards that I can think of, and I think it kind of gets overlooked for one of the principal things it does—places a female character out front as a strong driving lead throughout the book. In fact, she’s the reason the men even take up the whole adventure. If you think about the setting, in the Old West, and when the book was written (1968), that’s pretty interesting. On the truly unappreciated side, there’s this book written by a former aid worker in Afghanistan: Allah’s Angels. If I remember right, it’s self-published, and it could have used some editorial work, but the basic story was very compelling. Again, a female lead in a male dominated world. It may have had its shortcomings in terms of the writing, but the story is something I still think on.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Glory Road by Robert Heinlein. I first picked it up form a discarded pile in Bagram Afghanistan in 2010. I read it, and thought…what the heck was that? Then I read it again. I still have no idea what really happens in that book, but every once in a while, it makes me think about it. Kind of crazy.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

I’ve done it! I admit it…the football player TJ Turner is still way more popular than I am!

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

I’ll go with the wolf. I like the quote that you sometimes see around: “The lion and tiger might be stronger, but the wolf does not perform in the circus.” It’s a pack animal and needs a family around to succeed. I’ve certainly needed that and continue to need the support of my pack.

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

I think my biggest weakness is truly flushing out my antagonists. Part of that in my first two novels comes from POV. I used the 1st person, so it’s hard to really get into the mind of the “enemy”. In ANGEL IN THE FOG, I wrote it in 3rd person, and that felt more natural. But the more believable and human you can make your antagonists, the higher the stakes. It becomes a better story.

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

READ. Then start writing. Then finish writing. Then find someone who loves you to look at it. Then find someone who DOESN’T love you to look at it.

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

The same! Being published is just another step in the journey, it doesn’t make you a better or worse writer. Keep striving to improve.

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

Probably the biggest way is through the Antioch Writer’s Workshop. I’m currently the President of the board of trustees, who organizes and runs the workshop. It’s a great place, where I got my start. So we’ve implemented many programs, including ones for young writers. If you’re looking for a community, come and check it out! We’re all about empowering writers.

Want more information on TJ and his books?

 

Lincoln’s Bodyguard

In Lincoln’s Bodyguard, an alternative version of American history, President Lincoln is saved from assassination. Though he prophesied his own death the only way he believed the South would truly surrender Lincoln never accounted for the heroics of his bodyguard, Joseph Foster. A biracial mix of white and Miami Indian, Joseph makes an enemy of the South by killing John Wilkes Booth and preventing the death of the president. His wife is murdered and his daughter kidnapped, sending Joseph on a revenge-fueled rampage to recover his daughter. When his search fails, he disappears as the nation falls into a simmering insurgency instead of an end to the War. Years later, Joseph is still running from his past when he receives a letter from Lincoln pleading for help. The President has a secret mission. Pursued from the outset, Joseph turns to the only person who might help, the woman he abandoned years earlier. If he can win Molly over, he might just fulfill the President s urgent request, find his daughter, and maybe even hasten the end of the War.

 

Buy Lincoln’s Bodyguard from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 Land of Wolves

Land of Wolves finds Joseph Foster with Molly as they settle into a new-found life in the hills of Tennessee. But Abraham Lincoln’s former bodyguard, the man who saved the President’s life, cannot escape the Consortium as they come roaring back, killing his mother, abducting his daughter—all to coerce his Congressional testimony on their behalf.

Instead, Joseph and Molly strike the Consortium in their own safe haven of New York City. In a Bonnie and Clyde-like twist, they rob from the Consortium to draw out their leader—General Dorsey. But the hidden plan reveals more than they counted on, exposing the true intention to steal the Black Hills and the gold underneath from the Lakota Sioux. Land of Wolves traverses the American landscape, where only a full reconciliation with Joseph’s native heritage and a cast of characters ripped from history—including Lincoln—can bring true peace and stop General Dorsey and the evil Industrial Consortium.

 

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Author Spotlight: Susan Harris

Name: Susan Harris

Author of: Shattered Memories; Jessie’s Girl; The Ever Chase Chronicles (Skin and Bones; Collateral Damage; Smoke and Mirrors; Night of the Hunter and Never Back Down)

From: Cork Ireland

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? I used to write a lot of poetry as a child and make up short stories. I wrote a poem for a local newsletter about my dad and how awesome he is!

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? I’ve always wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. When I realized that acting, my other love, wasn’t meant for me, I continued to write despite not knowing if anyone would read them!

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?  When Shattered Memories was selected to be published by the amazing Clean Teen Publishing, I met a wonderful person called Melanie Newton  or(NerdGirlVamp or Melanie’s Muses as she is also known) who has become one of my closest friends. She kicks my ass when I doubt myself, tells me straight out if an idea will work and is basically just an all round amazing person.  She has helped me out so many times and I feel truly blessed to call her a  friend.

Do you exclusively write paranormal romance/crime novels or have you written in other genres? I love paranormal books but I do go off when the story takes me there! Shattered Memories is a YA Dystopian and Jessie’s Girl is contemporary romance. I am currently working on a book that could be classed as Fantasy and Romance …I like to think I am open to writing anything, if inspiration hits.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? Juggling a work life balance is extremely hard. I work full time, write as much as I can and sometimes venture out of the writing cave to do some fun things! I hate when I get into the flow of a story and have to table it to do non fun stuff like pay bills and socialize lol

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? It takes me about three to four months to get the first draft done and then go over for revisions. Once the first draft is done, I tend to send it to my trusty beta reader who is way better at spotting my errors than I am.

 Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?  It does depend on the book. For the Ever Chace Chronicles, I did an online course in Criminal Psychology so that I could write true about profiling and the likes. I want it to be realistic even if the supernatural aspect isn’t. I spend hours creating playlists as music plays a very crucial part of my writing process. I’m also a very big outliner and spend a lot of time planning and preparing for each chapter…that is until one of the characters misbehaves and completely changes my entire story!

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? I don’t think so! I know I use the same kind of pens and notebooks for each story I outline, but then again, I do have OCD so the quirks I have are just really all me lol

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? Yes actually I have. Last year, while writing Night of the Hunter I went to Paris for a couple of days by myself. It was m=one of the best experiences of my life. I went to the catacombs, and Pére Lachaise Cemetery. All of those amazing places were written into the book and make it so much better than I could have imagined.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?  With The Ever Chace Chronicles, I had been toying with an idea for a while and one night, I was watching Criminal Minds and suddenly thought, what would Hotch be like if he were a werewolf? And the Character of Derek Doyle was created!

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? I love paranormal romance and fantasy. I am a big fan of J.R Ward, Laurel K Hamilton, Nalini Singh, Sarah J Maas, Darynda Jones, Rachel Vincent, Ilona Andrews to name but a few…I know I am missing some of my favorites but there are too many to name. I am, first and foremost a reader!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? I do actually. When I wrote Shattered Memories, it was because I had just been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, OCD and depression and my CBT therapist thought it would be a good idea to use my conflicting emotions any convey it in a story. All of the pain, all of the isolation that Alana, the main character, was going through was what I was going through.             I also like to use funny things people have said and use them for certain characters.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Some are …Melanie from The Ever Chace Chronicles is based off of Melanie my friend. Alana from Shattered Memories is also based on the real Alana. Donnie from Ever Chace is based off of Tom Hardy, but that’s for purely selfish reasons lol

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.  Can I say my own? Lol No okay…I’m thinking, I’m thinking….Maybe any of the books by Cat Clarke…she is probably one of the only out of genre authors that I tend to read. Her first book Entangled was sooooooooooo good and A Kiss in the Dark is one of my all time fave books!

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. The Fault in Our Stars…its john Green I have no other excuse.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? Nope, not at all. I have no delusions of grandeur haha

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? Definitely a wolf…or werewolf to be more precise!

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Being proud of my accomplishments, I once had a teacher in school tell me I would never be a writer, and now here I am, about to publish my 6th full length novel. I think I proved her wrong many times over.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?  I have a quote tattooed on my arm that reminds me everyday to stay humble and not forget why it is I have to write. It’s a Cyril Connelly quote that I also have above my writing space “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”  I like to think it means that if you are writing simply to get published and not because you are writing for you the there is no point in it. You have to put all of you in your writing, or else the reader won’t feel it.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? You are doing just fine. Breath, relax, and never, ever, take any reviews to heart!

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I share links when asked. I’m also open to give advice though I feel completely unqualified to do so. And more than that, I am more than happy to be an ear or helping hand.

Want to know more about Susan?

 

Skin and Bones (The Ever Chace Chronicles, Book 1)

Being human in a world filled with supernatural creatures can give a girl a complex. Dr. Ever Chace wants nothing more than to be able to stand out in this crazy place she calls home. When she’s asked to consult on a case where teens are being brutalized, she relishes the chance to make a difference by helping to stop a monster. But when she’s teamed up to work alongside a sexy shifter, she ends up with more than she bargained for.
Derek Doyle has been a member of the Paranormal Investigations Team since the monsters first revealed themselves to the world. Considering he believes it takes a monster to catch a monster, he’s definitely in the right place. As a lone wolf not used to letting many people in, he isn’t prepared for the effect his new partner, consultant Dr. Ever Chace, has on him.
With a murderer on the loose, Ever and Derek will have to put their attraction aside while the hunt continues. Easier said than done… right?

 

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 Collateral Damage (The Ever Chace Chronicles, Book 2)

When Derek Doyle wakes up next to a ripped-apart body, he’s terrified he’s about to lose everything he holds dear—Ever, his job, and his family. Dealing with his past has never come easy to Derek, especially since he’s too afraid of what people would think if they knew exactly what kind of monster he really is. But finding out who’s setting him up could be harder than the team thinks. As long as Derek has lived, there’s bound to be a long list of enemies.
Ever Chace has a lot on her plate. Confronted with the possibility that she is indeed losing her mind, Ever tries to push it aside as they deal with the ramifications of Derek’s past. Every new relationship has teething problems, but learning to deal with a mate who’s used to being a lone wolf has its own set of issues.
Can the team figure out how to save Derek from a swift execution? And just how much strain will the revelations put on Derek and Ever’s shiny new relationship?
Collateral Damage is the exciting sequel to Skin and Bones by Susan Harris.

 

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Smoke and Mirrors (The Ever Chace Chronicles, Book 3) 

Ever Chace is a Valkyrie, but not just any Valkyrie—she’s a Valkyrie queen in the making.
Torn between the past and present, love and obligation, Ever is terrified of saying the words that would break the curse she is bound to. Pushing Derek away hasn’t simplified things; it has only made her miserable. With her father waking, and her and Derek’s lives on the line, can she really shy away from who and what she is becoming? How long can Ever keep her past lives a secret?
Pushing thoughts of his mate aside, Derek tries to focus on the task at hand—tracking down a monster that leaves nothing but a husk behind. But Ever is never truly off his mind, even as two of his own become targets of the unsub. Can he set his personal distractions aside to keep his team alive?

 

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Night of the Hunter (The Ever Chace Chronicles, Book 4)

Caitlyn Hardi is on a mission…a suicide mission. Driven by the pain of the past, she sets out to confront the monster deep in the Catacombs of Paris—the one who took everything from her. Caitlyn doesn’t care if she survives Paris. Her only concern is that the vampire who made her does not take another family from her. If dying means keeping everyone she loves safe—especially Donnie—then Caitlyn can accept that…as long as she can take her maker to Hell with her.
Donnie O’Carroll began to live the moment Caitlyn made him a vampire. Caitlyn gave him a family, a purpose, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to allow the darkness to overwhelm the woman he loves. He will fight to the end to prove to Caitlyn that love can conquer all—even if he has to die to do it.
Sacrifice, a supernatural assassin, and immortal love are on a cosmic collision course in this powerful fourth installment of the Ever Chace Chronicles.

 

Buy Night of the Hunter from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Never Back Down (The Ever Chace Chronicles, Book 5)

(Coming June 26, 2018)

Since the day that she was abandoned on the shores of Valhalla, and fought her way to be the fiercest Valkyrie, Erika has lived by those three words. There has never been a challenge Erika has backed down from; apart from Loki. But when Erika embeds herself in a supernatural fight club in the hopes that she can weed out Odin’s location, Erika will be put to the test. And when love and loyalty cause confusion, can this battle-hardened warrior finally let her guard down enough to see what’s been in front of her all along?

Loki knew the moment he clapped eyes on the beautiful warrior that she was meant for him. However, the Norse God of mischief hides a secret; he was once cursed and has shied away from his feelings to shield himself from hurt. Can he convince Erika that he’s the one meant for her, will he be forced to watch the woman he wants for himself spiral out of control?

 

Buy Never Back Down from Amazon

 

Shattered Memories

Shattered Memories is a stand alone psychological science fiction romance thriller perfect for fans of Hunger Games and Shatter Me.

A terrible tragedy forced Alana McCarthy to forget a year of her life. Now she is to be executed for a crime she doesn’t remember committing—the murder of her entire family. Lost and alone, Alana is terrified of unlocking secrets buried so deep inside her mind that she’s willing to forget the one person who could set her free.
Daniel Costello hasn’t forgotten about Alana, and he will do anything and everything to protect the girl he loves. But first, Alana needs to unlock her memories and find out the truth about what happened the night her family was killed.
The day of her execution is set. Together, will Alana and Daniel be able to uncover the truth behind her family’s deaths before it’s too late?

 

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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: Barbara Quinn

Name: Barbara Quinn

Author of: The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me (Lakewater Press)

Speed of Dark; Hard Head (Eternal Press)

36C; Slings and Arrows (DiskUs Publishing)

 

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

I started writing early; at five or six years old. I remember my brother and I put plays on for my parents and the rest of the family. The first piece I wrote that was “produced” was for my Girl Scout Troop.

It was a “fractured fairy tale” in which Evil Red Riding Hood tormented the sensitive Big Wolf. It was a musical. I wrote the songs and directed too! Much polite parental applause made me feel wonderful.

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

I’ve never stopped writing. For a number of years I practiced law which paid the bills. I drafted laws and briefs and contracts but even then in the mornings I’d carve out a little time to work on a short story. I also worked for a few local papers covering trials and writing a legal column for laymen.

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

The author Noel Hynd encouraged me to keep at my writing. He discovered a piece I had written in a writing area I used to manage and we became friends. I learned to write the parts I know from him and not worry about the rest, and to up the emotional impact of my story.

Do you exclusively write contemporary women’s fiction or have you written in other genres?

I’ve written in several genres: Fantasy, paranormal, romantic suspense, chick lit. I’m currently working on a steampunk novella. And a big women’s fiction that’s eating me alive.

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

It’s very hard for me to find time to write, but I do set aside time in the late afternoons to sit down and let out whatever it is that is pent up. I’m not working full-time any longer, but life and family do occupy a lot of time. As does procrastination.

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

A first draft usually takes me a year to complete, sometimes more. I can spend another year revising.

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

I do a lot of research as I hate to be inaccurate. I recently spent hours learning about hot air balloons. And for my Springsteen book I spent hours poring over his lyrics and listening to songs to find the right match to what my main character, Sofia, was experiencing.

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

I need quiet to write. And not much life chaos spinning in my brain to distract me. Once I start rolling, I lose track of time and place. I used to set an alarm when my son was in school so I’d remember to pick him up. I began using an alarm after I did once get lost in a writing fog and forget the time. I rushed to school to find him waiting alone outside his classroom. Never again!

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

One of my books, Hard Head, has a scene set at the Palio in Siena, a fascinating horse race around the town square filled with intrigue and pageantry.. They bring in dirt to cover the square to make a track. I devoured every article I could about this ancient race. After publication, I visited Siena and enjoyed walking around the square. I didn’t see the Palio as it’s held only twice a year, but I did get to imagine it right there.

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

For me inspiration is an amorphous fog that’s always with me and I never know what’s going to pop out or when. At some point everything starts to gel.  I can’t control it but I have to sit down and trust the process  can happen.

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

I read mostly fiction. I love anything by Anne Tyler, T Coraghessan Boyle, Christopher Moore.I also loved Enders Game by Orson Scott Card. My favorite books of late are the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan trilogy. What a consummate body of complex but entertaining fiction she’s written.

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

I tend to name characters after people who have helped me out along the way. I do try to make those characters nice ones and not kill them off!

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

For sure! I often reach back in time to my own childhood and to the advice given by my parents and grandparents. The grandfather in Hard Head is a blending of my father and my grandfather. They were from Calabria and the Calabrese who are known for their stubborness and hard heads, literally and figuratively ,are called Testa Dura, which translates as hard head. The Summer Springstgeen’s Songs Saved Me is a tribute to the healing power of Bruce Springsteen’s music and I’ve always been a Bruce fan. My book 36C is a story of a gal who sells lingerie. I did that for a summer job once.  And Speed of Dark opens with a scene of kids pedaling their bikes behind a DDT truck that’s spreading it’s poisonous gas to kill mosquitos. Amazingly, the kids in the neighborhood, incuding me, used to do that.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

A Confederacy of Dunces. It’s the funniest novel. It’s received many awards,but I think it deserves more widespread acclaim.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Nope. Don’t have one. I’m a picky guilt-free reader.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Haw! I have a Google alert set for my name in case it’s ever mentioned. But there are other Barbara Quinns out there so I get more of those than about me!

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

The dolphin! I see them quite a lot in Florida and at the Jersey shore. Recently I took a boat ride with a dog that knew where to find them and manatees. It was  fascinating and magical to see the interaction of these different caring and protective species.

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

I wish I were more productive. I work very slowly.

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

Persist. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

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

Enjoy! It’s real.

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

For many years I published an online literary ezine called The Rose and Thorn. It was staffed by volunteer writers and we gave many, many, writers their start in fiction and poetry publication. I enjoyed that venture. Now, aspiring writers write to me asking for advice and I’m happy to help them along the path.

Interested in learning more about Barbara?

 

The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me 

Catching her husband with his face between the long, silky legs of another woman is the last thing Sofia expects–and on today of all days.

So, after scratching an expletive into his Porsche and setting the cheating bastard’s clothes on fire, she cranks up her beloved Bruce and flees, vowing never to look back.

Seeking solace in the peaceful beachside town of Bradley Beach, NJ, Sof is determined to divorce and start over. And, with the help of best friends, new acquaintances, a sexy neighbor, and the powerful songs of Springsteen, this may be the place where her wounds can heal. But, as if she hasn’t faced her share of life’s challenges, a final flurry of obstacles awaits.

In order to head courageously toward the future, Sofia must first let go of her past, find freedom, and mend her broken soul.

 

Get The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Speed of Dark

There are some people you never forget. In the summer of 1964, Luke D’Angelo falls for one of them–a mysterious girl named Celeste. Like Luke, Celeste is an outsider struggling to find her identity, but unlike Luke, Celeste has special powers that have the potential to destroy everything Luke and his friends believe in.

Luke and his mentally challenged sister become fast friends with this curious girl. Set in upstate New York, in a town that is home to a shrimp cocktail plant that belches a foul-smelling tomato and fish fog, this coming of age tale about a girl with a dream and the teens who want to help her fulfill it, is a balance between the comic and the profound. The story resonates with the message that inside each of us is a light that burns so bright no dark can extinguish it. But at what cost?

 

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Hard Head 

A mother and daughter discover some things can be more deadly than the Mafia…

Rosanna Sweeney defies her father’s deathbed order that she never go to Italy. She and her teenage daughter journey across Italy to the Calabrian town of her father’s birth. In their quest, they find romance, learn about one another, and uncover a past that links them to secret societies far worse than the Mafia. Can they survive their dark legacy?

 

Get Hard Head on Amazon or from Barnes and Noble

 

 

 

36C 

Tressa Connell dreams of finding the right fellow, of putting her graphics art degree to work, and of traveling to Venice. The reality is that she’s stuck in a dead-end job selling lingerie to rail-thin women who prowl the high-end Manhattan boutique where she works. Hounded by a helmet-haired boss, befriended by a troubled Latina makeup artist, and wooed by a Jewish cop, Tressa also has a giant grandfather clock strapped to her back, a bushel of eggs in her arms, and her mother cracking a Pampers whip over her head.

 

Get 36C from Amazon 

 

 

 

Slings and Arrows 

When massage therapist Ellen D’Este separates from her husband her life begins to unravel. In an attempt to reinvent herself, she encounters a female spiritualist and a handsome stranger who turn her world upside down. Can she find love, faith and meaning in life or will she be the unwitting pawn of a charlatan?

 

Get Slings and Arrows from Amazon

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