WRITERS REACH: JILL NOJACK WITH 'THE FAMILIAR'

WRITERS REACH: JILL NOJACK WITH 'THE FAMILIAR'

On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today we celebrate JILL NOJACK's win on Kindle Scout with THE FAMILIAR, Book One in The Bad Tom Series, published by Kindle Press. Dangerous man hiding under the hood in the dark night forest

Sometimes a cat has to man up.

Tom has been mostly cat for a long time, but when the witch who enslaved him dies, he has one last chance to become a man again and maybe to find love, too. He just needs to tell Cassie, a sensible girl who knows nothing about the witchy business all around her, that he's trapped in the body of the kitten she cuddles at night. But cats aren't known for their conversational skills, and a powerful warlock is determined to take Cassie for himself. To make things worse, Tom is rapidly running out of lives.

  • The novel is Book One in the The Bad Tom series, which sounds like a delicious, witchy, and witty caper of magical storytelling and mayhem. Can you tell us what motivated your choice of subject matter and genre?

I write Fantasy because I like having at least one universe I have some control over. Anything I can wrangle into that realm is a possible story for me.

As to The Bad Tom series—it happened on pure whim. I wanted to write something in a hot genre and see how it did; it was a challenge to myself in many ways. But it had to be something that I would love writing, even though I had a monetary intent. Shifters are popular, so I ended up writing a quirky story about a kitten-shifter and the witches who love him.

I'm sure it will become a trend.

If not, bear-shifters are massive right now. Because they're big. And bigger is apparently better, or so they say. Looking at that the Nojack way, I'm thinking an elephant-shifter romance is up for me next. Or maybe a paranormal romantic comedy about a really sexy skeleton.

  • What did this book teach you about yourself as a writer?

Once it was selected for publication by Kindle Scout, it taught me I need to have a little more faith in my abilities. Even though I have a small number of dedicated readers for my self-published YA series, there was always that not-so-little voice shouting at me from the other room that I'm not a real writer. Not really. Not up to snuff anyway. Seriously, I hate that voice. Now I can shout back, "Oh yeah? Well, I got an advance, buddy, so I must be a real writer!"

  • Can you talk about the aspects of being an artist in general, and a writer specifically, that you find most challenging, and those aspects of creativity that come relatively easily?

I don't enjoy writing. Like Dorothy Parker, "I hate writing, I love having written." I'm terribly perfectionistic. That makes the first draft of a book a chore. It's also what makes me more proficient at drawing than painting. Pencils have those ever-so-handy erasers, but once you lay down watercolor or acrylic, it's difficult to redraw without ending up with a mess. I really, really want to be a painter, but I have terrible difficulty finishing a painting. And I used to have the same problem with rough drafts. But now (with the help of NanoWriMo), I've learned to drive quickly through laying down the bones of the story without bowing to the pressure of obsessive nit-pickiness. But editing that rough draft into the final one? Easy-peasy. Because that's where the magic happens. Once I have a rough draft completed, even if it has giant plot holes and lacks coherence, I'm golden. I can keep going for hours on pure flow without noticing the time passing. Because I completely dig making things better, perfect, whole.

  • What inspires you to write, and where do you look for motivation?

I was born with stories, songs, and pictures in my head, and they have been jostling to get out of there since I was old enough to have the means to express them. There's always an alternate world acting itself out in my head as I go through daily life.

Truthfully, when I get asked about inspiration and motivation, I'm not sure I understand the question.

  • You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

Kurt Vonnegut. Maybe Terry Pratchett. For all of the obvious reasons, but mostly because we could have a rip-roaring good laugh about being totally wrong about the whole bright light thing.

  • You're a writer, musician, and artist. What takes priority, and how do you see your career as an author developing?

Enjoying my efforts at the time I'm making them takes priority. Right now that's writing. But it was music for a very long time and art for a couple years after that. If I could figure out a way to go without sleep, I would happily fit them all in on a daily basis.

I expect my career as a writer will continue pretty much like it is right now—I will continue to write quirky fantasy stories for a small but much appreciated audience.

***

Kindle Scout winning author Jill Nojack is a writer, musician and artist. She has rarely managed to make a living from the pursuit of her creative endeavors. Instead, she's a corporate drone who stays up late to indulge her passion for writing, making music, and drawing/painting.

Way back in the long ago, Jill romped through a degree in English. She followed it up with a Master's degree in Sociology. During her time at University, she served on the staff of the school's literary magazine. She eventually stepped in to the editor's role, where she made every effort to look like she knew what she was doing.

When she isn't exploring her creative side, Jill enjoys laughing too loud and long in public and talking about herself in third person. She resides in the great American Midwest with a long-suffering, mean-girl cat.

***

Buy THE FAMILIAR and find out more about Jill on:

Her Website

Facebook

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We’d love to hear from you, so feel free to connect with JILL NOJACK right here.

WRITERS REACH: RACHEL CARR WITH 'FOUR'

WRITERS REACH: RACHEL CARR WITH 'FOUR'

On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today we celebrate R.E. CARR's win on Kindle Scout with FOUR, a deliciously quirky paranormal romance novel recently launched by Kindle Press.  

Four

Finding a job is never easy, and the only employment Gail usually finds is acting as Girl Friday for the mob. Lucky for Gail, Georgia Sutherland has just the job for her, that is, if she can handle working nights, managing a little blood, and a boss who's been dead for centuries.

In a single interview, Gail's world turns upside down as she discovers that all she’s seen in Hollywood isn’t quite true; vampires don't combust in sunlight, but they do fall in love.

Are Georgia's stories enough to persuade Gail to take the gig catering to an antediluvian vampire who's thirsty for a new personal assistant? If Gail wants to live out the year and retire rich, she just needs to remember the Four Rules that govern undead society.

  • FOUR did well on Kindle Scout and won a contract with Kindle Press. How did you manage your campaign, and how have you enjoyed the process of publication since?

“Managing a campaign” is an interesting way of putting it, as it implies conscious thought and planning. I stumbled into Kindle Scout because a friend of mine thought I should try for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (which was replaced with the Kindle Scout program). I had been in a dark place, writing for the better part of a decade and, honestly, had given up. I didn’t expect to be selected and once I was up there, I was sure I had no chance, but my friends constantly supported me and cheered me on. I did a few funny tweets and posted on Facebook to my friends, but I was really uncomfortable the whole time. Naturally that changed completely and my funk melted like ice cream in July when I actually was selected.

  • Can you tell us what motivated your choice of subject matter and genre?

FOUR was born of a dare, an epic rant. Even though I was a Goth in high school and college, vampires were never my favorite. In fact I liked to mock them, a lot, yet I watch the Underworld series as my ultimate guilty pleasure. So I suppose my relationship with the genre is complicated. After a particularly vitriolic session breaking down how mad I was at the concept of sparkling vampires, my friends dared me to “do better.” I honestly don’t know if I did better, but I certainly did different. At that point I just needed to write something, and it was completely unlike the science fiction and traditional fantasy that I'd written in the past.

  • What did this book teach you about yourself as a writer?

It taught me that I still had stories to tell. I felt like I had somehow pressed the pause button for years and lost myself in the process. I started FOUR while my mother was dying and it hit hard that there comes a moment when you run out of time. I learned through this book that I still has some spark left and words to say.

  • There are deft touches of humor in your writing that reviewers have applauded. Can you talk about the aspects of writing you find most challenging, and those that come relatively easily? 

Dying is easy, comedy is hard. A lot of the black humor was my own emotions welling up. We tend to tell jokes at funerals in my family and I wanted to just make people laugh. I love listening to people and usually love to talk, so dialogue is easy to me. On the flip side I tend to get lost in moments as a right brain dominant thinker and have to really force myself to write a linear plot. Almost always as I write it unfolds like an Eddie Izzard comedy routine – layers and layers of information that circle back from time to time and only make sense after you step back and think the whole thing through. I also have yet to master the happily ever after concept.

  • What inspires you to write, and where do you look for motivation?

I’m inspired sometimes by the most random things, including a coworkers total hatred of cilantro, but when I really need to settle down and recharge my batteries, it’s always music. I can lie back in bed with my headphones and just travel to other worlds. Each of my characters has a theme song and I make a playlist for each story I write. I just wish I didn’t get inspiration while in the shower, driving, or other inconvenient places.

  • You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

This question actually made me tear up. I think I’d want to be shown around by Jim Henson. I just want to sing It’s Not Easy Being Green and have a few moments to play, to talk to someone who created such beautiful creatures and kept me company when I was little and alone. Also I’d want to thank him because his tragedy saved both my and my son’s life. If I hadn’t learned the dangers of walking pneumonia, neither one of us would still be here today.

  • How do you see your career as an author developing? 

Right now I’m indulging my right brain and enjoying the moment. I want to finish the story I never thought I’d start within FOUR. I want to enjoy my stories and find more to tell, but whatever happens, I know now that I’m going to fight a little harder than ever, because time's arrow never stops moving forward. Also, one day, maybe I’ll write something with an unambiguous happy ending…maybe.

***

RACHELR. E. Carr likes to split her time between the alien (well, resident alien) she married, her two adorable offspring and the vast army of characters who constantly argue in her brain. She uses her past life as a video game reviewer to remind herself just how awesome it is to be writing novels now.

Rachel writes because she knows so many people and places that never quite made it into this version of the universe. It's her duty to let them out. Writing also gives her mind a certain peace and calm rarely felt in this multi-tasking, wired world.

***

Buy FOUR and find out more about Rachel on:

Her Website

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Amazon

Goodreads

We’d love to hear from you, so feel free to connect with R.E. CARR right here.

WRITERS REACH: FIONA QUINN WITH 'WEAKEST LYNX'

WRITERS REACH: FIONA QUINN WITH 'WEAKEST LYNX'

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On Fridays right here, authors talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Say hello to FIONA QUINN, who joins us to celebrate the success of WEAKEST LYNX, a Kindle Scout winner published by Kindle Press, and the subsequent sequels in the LYNX series. WeakestLynx

What Lexi wants is a simple life. What she gets is simply terrifying.

Lexi Sobado is a 20-year-old experienced intelligence consultant with a special psychic gift. However, her gift couldn’t prevent her from becoming the focus of a stalker’s desires. With a death threat shoved in her purse, she finds herself caught in the middle of a sinister web of crime and corruption.

Striker Rheas, a seasoned special agent, is charged with keeping Lexi safe. But can he keep his personal life separate from his professional life as he finds himself falling for his assignment?

What Lexi hides, what she reveals, and what she keeps trying to uncover is a delicate balancing act as she tries to save her own life and stop the killer. Can Lexi learn to love, trust, and harness the power of her psychic flashes before it’s too late?

  • WEAKEST LYNX was one of the early winners on Kindle Scout, and the sequels have launched in swift succession since. All the books in the LYNX series are doing well, with high rankings and well over a hundred positive reviews. Can you share your publishing journey with us--the highs / lows and moments when things came together?

Being an author is quite a journey isn’t it? One of the issues I had when it came to my books is that I knew LYNX would be an ongoing series, but the first four books would have a very clearly defined arch, and I wanted to honor reader momentum. It felt rude to ask readers to hang out and wait a year or so between books. When I submitted my ms to the Kindle Scout program, I had the first three books written and edited and the fourth well under way.

My Kindle Scout month was January 2015. I was offered a contract and my book was scheduled to go out April 21st. I put out book 2 on May 21 and book 3 on June 21. Book 4’s launch is November 1st.

By having the first four books in the LYNX series come out in quick succession, I was able to put a teaser chapter at the end of each book and a pre-order link, so those who enjoyed my series could keep on reading as soon as the next book came out. And the books have about the same sales numbers, so if someone reads book number 1, WEAKEST LYNX, they’re usually reading the whole series, which is very gratifying.

It’s a lot of work putting out four books in a year. And, to be honest, marketing is a huge ever changing bulls-eye. I wish it would magically take care of itself. But it is part of the modern writer's world. And the benefit is that I get to meet some really fantastic people.

  • Tell us about Lexi, the protagonist at the center of the series. Who or what inspired Lexi and how did she come to life in your mind?

A few years ago, I put my two youngest children in the back of my pale-blue minivan and started on a trek around the United States for six weeks. I’m an unschooling mom–that’s homeschool on steroids where everything and everyone is a potential for learning. My husband and I want our kids to have skill sets–tools for life’s toolbox if you will–available, and so that’s where we had them spend their time.

As I drove those long ten thousand miles I had plenty of time to think, and one of the things I contemplated was the effects that unschooling might have on my children once they were adults. This is a very non-traditional upbringing, and it makes their thought processes different than those who have traversed a more traditional route.

I took that premise into my LYNX series. How would a young woman, who was raised as an unschooler, faced with the crisis of a lifetime, react differently than one might expect? How could her out-of-the-box thinking and interesting skill sets help her stay alive when there was a serial killer stalking her?

Lexi was inspired by my oldest daughter–the skill sets (apart from Lexi’s psychic abilities) are all skills my daughter developed during her unschooling days, though I dropped the skill level on some of them–my daughter was a nurse at age 20 while Lexi is an EMT, for example. It was a lot of fun getting to explore the possibilities of putting my oldest child’s skills to the test–thankfully she’s never had a crazy man on her trail.

  • What were the most challenging aspects of writing the series, and what came easily?

Writing the stories came easily. The research was great fun.

I was challenged on two fronts. I am an unschooling mom which means I’m busy with my kids. And writing for me takes long introspective periods without interruption–those were very difficult to find. There was always someone bursting through my door. So finding a balance—finding a way to have time inside my head and also being there for the other parts of my life—I found and still find difficult. Second, with the ever-changing publishing arena, I needed to figure out a way that I was comfortable getting my work out.

  • What did this series teach you about yourself as a writer and as a person?

Ha! I learned that it takes an enormous amount of dedication to get from point A to point B. And as soon as you arrive at point B, another journey begins. And I learned just how rewarding it feels to have people read, “get”, and comment on my work. That’s the absolute best!

  • You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

Oh, my. Jane Austen, Buddah, Thomas Jefferson, Cleopatra . . . so many–too many. I can’t home in on just one. In this lifetime, I would love some quiet time with the Dalai Lama.

  • Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.

WEAKEST LYNX is the beginning of Lexi’s journey, where she finds her team and starts her job.

MISSING LYNX – we get to meet –oh so briefly – Lexi’s mentor and realize that her past connections can come back to bite her.

CHAIN LYNX – Lexi is finally home from her misadventures, but home does not mean safe. She is putting the puzzle pieces together to find out why these horrible things keep happening to her.

CUFF LYNX – Lexi’s beloved Iniquus where she and her team are headquartered is under attack. But it’s nothing that anyone has ever experienced before. They depend on Lexi to figure out the problem and to save not only Iniquus but keep America safe, too.

I am taking a little break from the Lynx series and starting a spinoff series of romantic suspense starring the Strike Force men. The first one (the one I’m working on now) is IN TOO DEEP about Deep Del Toro.

I’m also plotting the sequel to MINE (a novella about a science teacher interning for her CSI degree); it’s called YOURS, and we see Kate’s journey continue.

  • What are your future plans as an author? How do you see your career developing?

Being an author is a journey that I am taking one step at a time. I hope readers will continue to enjoy my books.

In the future, when my husband retires from his job, I’d like to go and live for one year in a different country/culture over a ten year stretch. I’d like to write a series of novels from each country embracing the foods, colors, sounds, and people. I think that would be a marvelous adventure.

***

rsz_img_3889_0066_edited-1Canadian born, Fiona Quinn is now rooted in the Old Dominion outside of D.C. with her husband and four children. There, she homeschools, pops chocolates, devours books, and taps continuously on her laptop.

She is the creative force behind the popular blog ThrillWriting

Quinn writes the bestselling Lynx Series including: Kindle Scout winning novel WEAKEST LYNX as well as MISSING LYNX, CHAIN LYNX, and CUFF LYNX. She also wrote the mystery novella, MINE and co-authored CHAOS IS COME AGAIN, a noir comedy.

Look for her newest series, STRIKE FORCE, in 2016.

Visit FIONA QUINN

at Amazon Author Central,

buy WEAKEST LYNX,

and connect with her on:

Her website

Blog

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

***

Thanks for stopping by...we’d love to hear from you.

 

WRITERS REACH: KIM CARMICHAEL WITH 'TYPECAST', A 'HOLLYWOOD STARDUST' NOVEL

WRITERS REACH: KIM CARMICHAEL WITH 'TYPECAST', A 'HOLLYWOOD STARDUST' NOVEL

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On Fridays right here, authors talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today KIM CARMICHAEL joins us to celebrate the success of TYPECAST, a HOLLYWOOD STARDUST novel that won a Kindle Press contract through Kindle Scout. TYPECAST has attracted over 50 favorable reviews in the short time since its launch.

TYPECAST

What's your fantasy?

Twenty years ago, the movie Hollywood Stardust defined a generation of teens and changed the four actors’ lives forever. Typecast as the villain, both in front and behind the silver screen, Logan Alexander has purposely allowed his star to fade. Now with the 20th Anniversary of the movie on the horizon, he is the only one fit to step into the spotlight, deal with the unwanted publicity, and make sure that things meant to be left on the cutting room floor remain there. Ivy Vermont has always longed to be a leading lady, yet her paralyzing stage fright has relegated her to stay behind the scenes as a fact checker for Chargge.com’s entertainment webcasts. However, when her one-time poster-boy crush walks in to the studio demanding only she be in charge of his story, she knows she must take advantage of her big break. Now, Logan tightropes between old loyalties and new love, while Ivy struggles to stay in reality with her ultimate fantasy.

  • Your novel did well on Kindle Scout and won a contract with Kindle Press. How easy or difficult was your campaign and how have you enjoyed the process of publication since?

I am a control freak and anxious by nature, so the campaign was stressful. I'm thankful that when I did it, they didn’t have all the statistics; you were either hot and trending, or you weren’t. I think now it would be worse because I'd be looking at every number. TYPECAST was my second entry into the Kindle Scout program; the first one didn't make it. I think I was expecting to lose again, so winning was a pleasant surprise. Kindle Press has been amazing and so easy to work with, much easier than the campaign. I suffer a bit from being a control freak, but they were so cool about answering all my questions. Everyone was so professional.

  • Can you tell us what motivated your choice of setting and subject matter? How do you relate to both personally?

I am a Los Angeles girl, grew up on the fringes of the movie industry. I really wanted to take some of the movies we knew and loved as teenagers and explore what happens to actors 20 years later. I know we all have our fantasies about what its like to be “one of them."

  • What did this book teach you about yourself as a writer?

First and foremost, I can give up control of my baby and live LOL. Second, I can write a flashback. Third, I can grow with every book and should grow with every book. Lastly, I can add a scene even after the book is ready to go to the proofreader (though I wasn’t happy as any writer will tell you). (Before submission to Kindle Scout my editor made me add a scene).

  • Can you describe your journey to publication prior to Kindle Scout: the torment and elation, the times none of it made any sense, the moments when it all came together?

Ok, I’m going to be completely honest here. I had submitted to Kindle Scout before with ON THE DOTTED LINE and lost, but the book did really well. When it came time for TYPECAST, I thought the same thing would happen and tried to look at it as publicity for the book. I was honestly shocked when it won. Still, in the back of my mind when I was campaigning for the book, I did want to win. Then the Kindle Press team had something funky going on with my email, and I didn’t get the notification that I'd won until later than I should have. The anxiety during that time was incredible. As I said, I’m a control freak. The hardest part thus far has been stepping back and letting the publisher do what's needed and realizing I don’t have control. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over it.

  • What inspires you to write, and where do you look for motivation?  

I usually get a spark on a character and that’s what motivates me.  Things from my life and my work I find interesting.

  • You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

Darn, I was hoping I could say one of my characters (wouldn’t that be cool!).  I'm going to say Carl Sagan because the man was brilliant, and just being able to talk to him would be incredible. I also think he would have the inside track on the afterlife. Him or VC Andrews. VC only because really, wouldn’t you love to know if the story was true?

  • Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.

Well, as of today (10/23) the second book in the series has been released, LIMELIGHT, which is Drew and Erin’s story.  Idolized is in production now (lol).  There is also a companion series called Hollywood Stardust Supporting Roles that covers the lives of the secondary characters.  The first of that series - GISELLE & WILSON - is free on Amazon.  All the books are stand alone, have their own central couple and can be read in any order.  I will also be writing out the movies covered in the books as stories but that is a bit further out in the future.

***

LIMELIGHT

Limelight Cover Green copy copy

Worth The Wait…

Twenty years ago, Drew Fulton was made famous in the genre-changing movie, Hollywood Stardust, and fell in love with his costar, Erin Holland. Left heartbroken and fed up, he played his ultimate role and walked away from his life, taking on an entirely new persona. Now he wants everything back, from his place in the limelight to the love that made him leave. He only needs to make sure he can leave the past in the past.

Known as the spoiled, has-been star of Hollywood, Erin Holland has spent the last two decades pining away for the one love she cannot have. Blindsided when Drew Fulton appears in her life as mysteriously as he disappeared, she is torn between acting on her heart and using Drew’s reappearance to relight her star.

Together for the first time in twenty years, their true passion consumes them, but the sparks of old wounds still threaten to burn out of control before they can decide if their love was worth waiting for.

Limelight is a Hollywood Stardust novel.

All books are stand alone, no cliff hangers, with their own central couple. They can be read in any order.

***

kim-2bwKim Carmichael began writing ten years ago when her love of happy endings inspired her to create her own. A Southern California native, Kim's contemporary romance combines Hollywood magic with pop culture to create quirky characters set against some of most unique and colorful settings in the world. With a weakness for designer purses, bad boys and techno geeks, Kim married her own computer whiz after he proved he could keep her all her gadgets running and finally admitted handbags were an investment. Kim is a PAN member of the Romance Writers of America, as well as some small specialty chapters. A multi-published author, Kim's books are available all over the world. When not writing, she can usually be found slathered in sunscreen trolling Los Angeles and helping top doctors build their practices.

Visit KIM CARMICHAEL at Amazon Author Central,

buy TYPECAST

and connect with her on:

Her website

Hollywood Stardust website

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

***

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WRITERS REACH: MAGGIE TOUSSAINT WRITING AS RIGEL CARSON WITH 'G-1' AND 'G-2'

WRITERS REACH: MAGGIE TOUSSAINT WRITING AS RIGEL CARSON WITH 'G-1' AND 'G-2'

On Fridays right here, authors talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today we welcome award-winning MAGGIE TOUSSAINT writing as RIGEL CARSON, to celebrate the success of G-1, a Kindle Scout winner published by Kindle Press, and the sequel, G-2, launched in September, 2015. G1

Though plague, locusts, and earthquakes riddle 2065 Earth, Dr. Zeke Landry focuses on the one resource vital to the planet's survival: the world’s quickly vanishing water supply. When his uncle disappears, Zeke abandons his hydrology research to find Uncle John. His efforts land him in deep trouble. The Chameleons, a secret society, believe Zeke has the keystone, an object of great power. This group has already murdered in its quest to find the keystone, so if Zeke can’t produce it, his hours are numbered. Time’s running out for Zeke . . . and the world.

G2

Brand new Guardian of Earth, Dr. Zeke Landry, is just learning the ropes when his extraterrestrial warning system sounds. Merciless invaders are on their way to 2065 Earth. With no tangible proof, Zeke is powerless to warn anyone until the space ships arrive. First Contact has finally happened, and the aliens are tall and green. The Maleem say they come in peace and want to explore trade opportunities. World leaders salivate at the chance for interstellar markets. As the Maleem tour the planet, countries welcome them with open arms and try to curry favor. Meanwhile, pop star Queen Bea and her sister are stranded in Japan, diverting Zeke and his android’s attention. Bea sings her pop hit, Little Green Men, during a friend’s concert, and the Maleem show up for the performance. Afterward, the Maleem hand out jeweled necklaces to key leaders, enslaving them and beginning a reign of terror and annihilation. When Zeke is enslaved by the Maleem, all looks bleak for humanity. Outgunned, outmaneuvered, and outfoxed, citizens of Earth are doomed, unless someone helps them. Can Zeke rally and save the world a second time?

  • G-1 was one of the early winners on Kindle Scout, and the sequel, G-2, was launched in September. Both books are attracting good reviews. Can you share your publishing journey with us--the highs / lows and moments when things came together?

Before the Kindle Scout contract, I was lucky enough to be published and award-winning in both Romance (HOUSE OF LIES, NO SECOND CHANCE, SEENG RED, MUDDY WATERS, HOT WATER, and ROUGH WATERS) and Mystery (IN FOR A PENNYON THE NICKEL, DIME IF I KNOW, DEATH, ISLAND STYLEMURDER IN THE BUFF, GONE AND DONE IT, and BUBBA DONE IT).

I had the idea to set a mystery in the future with a scientist as the lead character. One story led to another, and I soon had three books in this series written. Somewhat to my surprise, my new mystery series wasn’t classified as a mystery at all. It fell into a new genre (for me). My agent kept getting back replies that said things like “the writing is good, the story is good, but we aren’t acquiring midlist authors.” Bummer.

Meanwhile, I’d acquired rights back for some previous books and released them under my own imprint. I’d decided to indie pub my series when I heard about Kindle Scout. The possibility of a strong marketing partner appealed to me, so I subbed the first book of the series, G-1, to this brand new reader-powered publishing process. I was a nervous wreck during that 30-day campaign to attract reader votes. No one was more surprised – or elated – than me when I was offered a Kindle Press contract for G-1.

Some Kindle Scout authors went through the process again with their sequels. I decided against going through that stress again. So I hired a professional editor and released the next book, G-2, under my own imprint last month. I have plans to get G-3 out before Christmas--the luxury of DIY publishing is that the author sets the timeline.

  • Tell us about the GUARDIAN OF THE EARTH series, which is set in the future on a beleaguered Earth. One of the looming crises is a diminishing water supply, not to mention hostile alien invaders. What draws you to your subject matter?

I’m the daughter of a fisherman, and I grew up in and around the Atlantic Ocean. In college, I gained a basic understanding of scientific processes, like the water cycle. Then in my scientific career, I worked in an aquaculture facility. Writing a series where water and other elements provide pinch points allows me to tap into what I know.

Conflict drives stories. Put two hungry dogs in a pen with one bone, and you’ll see action. Since I’d developed a solid writing style in Mystery and Romance, I knew that I write character-driven stories with a whodunit plot. Setting the GUARDIAN OF EARTH series 50 years in the future allowed me to add societal pressure points.

Currently, in arid parts of the US and globally, drinking water is a huge issue. Imagine a future world where water is rationed, where food is in short supply. That creates a pressure cooker situation. It creates a strong reaction chain when an outside force tries to take over. Two dogs, one bone–that was my goal in creating the GUARDIAN OF EARTH series.

  • You've created some compelling and flamboyant characters that are easy to connect with and care about. How do they come to life in your mind?

I can explain this in four words: I’m from the South.

Need more? Everybody and their brother is a storyteller around here. You can’t walk into the post office or stand in the grocery store line without hearing a story or two. The simplest thing becomes a story, like this…I walked out to get this newspaper this morning and saw a pair of beady eyes staring at me from a freshly fallen clump of Spanish moss. I didn’t know whether to run back inside or check it out. My heart was racing like some alien was hiding under there, but I had to know what it was, so I inched closer, stooping to grab a nearby stick, of course. Not just any old stick either, but the slickety one the neighbor’s Houdini dog dropped on Sunday when he did his business beside the azalea bush, but that’s another story. Anyway, I was staring at that crazy thing as I approached, wishing like anything I’d put on a pair of real shoes instead of grody flip flops, when a peal of thunder sounded and froze me in my tracks. The pile of moss let out a shriek and darted across my foot and into the woods….

See? Even trying to tell you a story about storytellers, I ended up writing a story. We’re all bent a little different down here, but that’s a good thing. We prize eccentricity.

  • What were the most challenging aspects of writing either novel, and what came easily?

The challenging part: once a science nerd, always a science nerd. I really get into the science parts of these books. The trick is to make it accessible to the average reader, and at the same time authentic so that someone from your field wouldn’t call you out on a mistake.

The easy part: developing the rapport between my android character, Forman, and my lead, Dr. Zeke Landry. Forman says all the lines and things I wish I had the guts to say in real life, while Zeke shares my worries about new situations, travel, and people in general.

  • What did this series teach you about yourself as a writer and as a person?

I love writing the GUARDIAN OF EARTH series because it allows me to incorporate elements from my entire life. People have asked me who I identify most with in the series. I don’t actually see myself as Forman or Zeke. Instead, I see myself as Jessie, the girl who falls for Zeke. Jessie is the glue that holds everything together, the helpmate.

My take-home from that realization is that all characters contribute to the story, and all contributions in life, no matter how big or small, matter. Every-day people are just as important as superstars.

  • You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

I’ve been a Jayne Ann Krentz fan for twenty years, and even though she’s still alive and probably healthier than I am, I’d love to have Jayne and my sister be my escorts. Jayne writes paranormal romantic suspense in the past, present, and future, so I figure she has mastered the space/time continuum. My sister is already on the Other Side with her best pal from childhood. I know she’ll be there for me because we still feel so connected.

  • Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.

My dystopian thriller book 3, G-3, will release later this year. My 2016 mystery, DOGGONE IT, book 3 in my DREAMWALKER paranormal mystery series, will be out next summer. My prospective 2017 mystery, DADGUMMIT, is in acquisitions, and I’m working on the 2018 book, CONFOUND IT, right now. Once I complete that 2018 mystery, I plan to write the next GUARDIAN book.

  • What are your future plans as an author? How do you see your career developing?

I plan to keep writing as long as the brain and the hands hold out.

***

MaggieToussaint_Large

Formerly a contract scientist for the U.S. Army and a freelance reporter, Southern author Rigel Carson, the pen name of Maggie Toussaint, is multi-published in suspense, mystery, and dystopian fiction. Her background in environmental science and toxicology, as well as years spent doing water research, provide the impetus for this new science fiction/dystopian thriller series. Rigel’s series is set on a futuristic Earth, fifty years from now.

Visit MAGGIE TOUSSAINT

at Amazon Author Central,

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***

And to capture your imagination, here's an excerpt from the series:

Shadows flickered in the darkness, black on black, Zeke’s mental gaze keenly attuned to the dark nuances. Frissons of dread peppered his thoughts, rattling his senses. He floated in the timeless void of space. Cold. Alone. Afraid.

Without warning, a line drive of thought energy socked him. He struggled to hold the link. The vermillion-tinged darkness reminded him of primordial ooze from which there was no escape. Was his planet destined to go the way of the dinosaurs?

Several voices spoke in uneasy unison, adding to Zeke’s disembodied sense. We have not been successful in dealing with Maleem. They take. They do not negotiate. They do not compromise.

His spirits plummeted. There had to be a way. He couldn’t give up on his planet without a fight. Someone, somewhere must have beaten the Maleem before. Earth needed to build on that success. He fired a query across the vacuum of space. Wait! What about those few stragglers on Drigil Eight? How did they survive?

The link hummed with energy. It buzzed bright in his head as if hundreds spoke at once. Zeke allowed himself to hope. All wasn’t lost. It couldn’t be. More than seven billion people lived on Earth. So many innocent lives at stake.

We have sent a query, young Zeke. We will advise you in due time.

***

Thanks for stopping by...we’d love to hear from you.

WRITERS REACH: THE BEHRG WITH 'HOUSEBROKEN' AND 'THE CREATION'

WRITERS REACH: THE BEHRG WITH 'HOUSEBROKEN' AND 'THE CREATION'

On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today we celebrate THE BEHRG's double win on Kindle Scout with HOUSEBROKEN and THE CREATION, both published through Kindle Press. Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00075]

"It was a kidnapping, but in all the wrong ways. No ransom, no demands; there was nothing they wanted--other than to observe."

Blake Crochet and his family are taken hostage in their own home and forced to act out their everyday lives under the observance of two psychotic kidnappers. They soon learn that the consequences of both action and inaction are more terrifying than they imagined. As the motives behind the kidnapping are revealed, Blake must sacrifice everything to hold on to the ever-shifting definition of what his family has become. In his battle for survival, he will face the ultimate consequence: for to fight a devil, you may have to become one yourself.

creation

Deep in the jungles of the Amazon Rainforest, a dying phytopharmacologist has begun a search that could change the fate of humanity forever. Joining depraved scientists and ruthless mercenaries, he seeks to overcome humanity's one common enemy: Mortality. Meanwhile, plans have been laid by an eco-revolutionary group, led by rebel Faye Moanna, to put an end to the illegal deforestation taking place in the Amazon. But her true motives may compromise much more than their sociopolitical agenda. Because a frightening power is stirring in the Amazon, an event beginning that only occurred once in the history of the Earth--during its process of Creation. And it will take more than tenacity and ingenuity to survive the coming seven days. The Creation is about to begin anew on planet Earth, and what these two groups are about to discover is that in order to Create, one must first Destroy.

  • Your second novel, THE CREATION, did well on Kindle Scout, hot on the heels of HOUSEBROKEN, one of the earliest novels to win a contract through Kindle Scout. How daunting was running two campaigns and can you share some of the high/low points? 

HOUSEBROKEN was introduced in the very first round of Kindle Scout. I knew at the time that this was quite a groundbreaking launchpad, but really didn't know what to expect. I had actually finished the umpteenth draft of HOUSEBROKEN earlier that year, in February of 2014, but wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. Kindle Scout seemed like one of those doors opening at the right time and right place, and I've been pleased with the results. For THE CREATION I actually decided to self-publish the novel. I wanted to have that experience, have a little more control over pricing and promotions, as well as really be able to compare the two. I'm a pretty big believer in that there's no magic key to success, it takes trying a lot of everything and moving forward, often an inch at a time. I've learned so much from both of my publishing experiences to date, and would look to both options for future novels.

  • HOUSEBROKEN tells the story of a home invasion in contemporary America, focusing on one family's trauma and fragmentation, while THE CREATION is set in the Venezuelan Rainforest and has a broader, more sweeping narrative with wider implications. As a writer, what elements do your novels have in common? (I'm thinking genre or perhaps the dark threads that run through both?)

I had spent over ten years writing screenplays before I dove into HOUSEBROKEN, and with my first attempt at writing a novel I thought it'd be easier to have a contained idea rather than some sweeping epic. Boy was I wrong!! I actually have a document with over 100,000 words that were cut from my first attempt at novel writing. Ideas that ran into walls or that felt either too cliche or forced, entire subplots, etc, etc. But through the process, I learned so much. As far as common themes within these novels, there are a few. My writing style tends to be a little dark as I have a fascination with characters who are extremely flawed. As I was putting the final touches on THE CREATION, I realized that I didn't have a single character in the novel that I would probably be friends with. They're all passionate, dynamic forces; people that are so interesting ... but they're also seriously messed up. To me, fiction and art are a way to reveal inner truths to the reader / viewer about themselves, sometimes through watching the actions of another. Take, for instance, BREAKING BAD--very few people would ever stoop to the actions of Walter White, yet we loved going on that journey with him, watching him sacrifice his soul a piece at a time. And in those quiet moments we find ourselves in, we can reflect on what choices we may be making that could lead us down paths we're better off not exploring. Those are the types of characters that interest me. I have a tough time writing with "the hero" or "the love interest" or "the bad guy" archetypes in mind. And when you let your characters fully reveal how screwed up they are, they literally write themselves, making choices that constantly surprise you but are organic to who they are.

  • THE CREATION's setting is especially significant to you. Can you tell us why you’re drawn to that part of the world?

Absolutely, and I'm so thrilled to hear that your novel, GRAVE OF HUMMINGBIRDS, is set in a similar locale!! My newest novel, THE CREATION, is based on the concept of a 'god-like' being starting the 7 day process of THE CREATION over again. But, of course, in order to create, one must first destroy. I set the novel in the Amazon Rainforest, in Southern Venezuela, where a new 'Garden of Eden' is being introduced as the world is remade. I'm fortunate that in my life I had the opportunity to live in Venezuela for two years, while serving a mission for my church. I learned, lived, and grew to love the culture and people of that country, and it's exciting to be able to share some of that within my writing, to "revisit" a part of my past that played such a big part in creating who I am today. The Amazon, itself, is amazing, and there's so much that people don't realize about it. It's something you can't gain a full appreciation for without walking through those jungles, seeing both the beauties of nature and also what man is doing to it. While my novel has some characters that strongly oppose the deforestation that's taking place there, I was careful to make sure it didn't come off as preachy or with a message behind the writing. Nothing turns me off more than when someone tries to convert me to their way of thinking in a piece of art. That being said, 100% of the proceeds from THE CREATION are being donated to organizations that are actively pursuing ways to save the rainforests. It's a small way in which I can contribute and allows me to believe that, despite my writing dark thrillers, maybe I can do some good in the world through my written words.

  • What were the most challenging aspects of writing this novel, and what came easily?

HOUSEBROKEN was by far the more difficult of the two to write, mainly because it was such a contained thriller / story. I wrote a screenplay for THE CREATION a few years ago, which has been a rough blueprint for where I want to go with the novels and has definitely made the process a little easier. Though it has been surprising the different directions the book has taken from the outline of the script format.

  • What did this book teach you about yourself as a writer and as a person?

In writing THE CREATION, I've had to get into the minds of some pretty despicable people. It's made me realize, however, that everyone--no matter their actions--feels justified in the choices they make. They may be the "wrong" choices and they may never know they're wrong, but there are reasons for them that, in the moment, make them the only viable choice. It's helped me to really look at people and the decisions and actions they make differently, allowing me to be a lot less judgmental in a strange way. This novel has also helped me to prove, to myself at least, that I am a writer. My debut novel wasn't a fluke or lucky accident. Writing has always been a big part of my life but this novel has helped me "feel" like an author.

  • Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.

I'm concurrently working on the next chapters in THE CREATION series, as well as a horror novel which I feel has an extremely unique angle. Can't give much away about it yet, but I feel it could be a game changer.

  • What are your future plans as an author? How do you see your career developing?

I ask my magic eight ball this every morning but so far it's been pretty murky with the answers. Right now I'm focused on continuing to write and slowly growing my reader base. I love that in today's market you don't have to be just a one-genre or type of writer. In the future, I see myself self-publishing, publishing with an imprint or even trad publisher, and continuing to explore the many options that are out there. Screenwriting is definitely not just a thing of the past as well.

***

20140715_214409 (1)

THE BEHRG is the author of literary works ranging from screenplays to 'to-do' lists. His debut novel, HOUSEBROKEN, was a First-Round Kindle Scout Selection and semi-finalist in the 2015 Kindle Book Awards. His latest novel, THE CREATION, is the first in a dark supernatural trilogy about a ‘god-like’ being starting the seven days of the Creation over again. Books two and three are due out in 2016. THE BEHRG’s ‘to-do’ list should be completed by 2017...(though his wife is hoping for a little sooner). 

Buy HOUSEBROKEN and THE CREATION,

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WRITERS REACH: HEATHER BALOG WITH 'THE DEAD OF SUMMER'

WRITERS REACH: HEATHER BALOG WITH 'THE DEAD OF SUMMER'

On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today we celebrate HEATHER BALOG's win on Kindle Scout with THE DEAD OF SUMMER, launched on September 29th through Kindle Press. deadofsummer

Funny and charmingly awkward Kennedy Ryan is sixteen years old with a dominating (and gorgeous) best friend, a mother who won't leave the house, and a crush on Carson, the mysterious new boy in town. Her life is totally normal...or so she keeps telling herself until her mother begins acting strangely, or at least more strangely than usual. When Kennedy stumbles upon a dead body hidden in the basement, she enlists Carson’s help to solve the mystery, and it’s sayonara normalcy, and quite possibly goodbye to everything she knows.

  1. Your novel did well on Kindle Scout and launched on Tuesday. Congratulations! Can you share why you decided to go with Kindle Scout and let us in on some of the highlights of your campaign?

Yes! I celebrated with my first back to school cold attacking me full force! Hehehe...no, I didn't really do anything to celebrate. This is the first book I have not self-pubbed, so it's been a little weird for me not to be able to see how it's doing. I will probably save the celebration for when I get my first royalty report.

As for why I decided to go with Kindle Scout--every year I participate in NaNoWriMo in November. I have been participating in The Amazon Breakthrough Novel in the beginning of every year as well, using my NaNo novel. Each year, I've gotten farther along in the contest--I was hoping that 2015 would be my year to be a finalist. But unfortunately, there was no ABNA Contest this year. After a little research, my husband (who is sometimes my helpful assistant) stumbled upon Kindle Scout and encouraged me to enter my NaNoWriMo 2014 novel. I was very nervous at first--I wasn't sure how it would be received. But when I had tons of shares from my Facebook page and it was hot and trending for almost 200 hours of the campaign, I was blown away by the support and thrilled that I had decided to take this leap of faith.

  1. What were the most challenging aspects of writing this book, and what came easily? Is there something special about THE DEAD OF SUMMER that makes it a standout from your other work? 

For me, the hardest part was writing in teen voice. As much as I claim to remember my teen years, I've blocked out a significant portion of the painful events...events that would help create believable teenage angst in my character, Kennedy. I had to dig deep to fell like a teen again (shiver). THE DEAD OF SUMMER  is also my only published YA novel. I usually write Chick Lit and Women's Fiction.

The easiest part was creating the characters. I already had Kennedy, Carson, and Lindy's personalities in my head before I even wrote the first word. I loved those characters, their flaws and all. It's easy to write a character when you love them.

  1. What inspired you to write THE DEAD OF SUMMER?

Lately I've been reading a lot of YA novels. I have a son in high school and a daughter soon to be in middle school. I like to keep abreast of what's going on in their lives, not only through engaging with them (or as my son says, "spying on them"), but keeping current on movies, music, and book trends. So in my reading, I wondered why there weren't more YA Mystery/Suspense novels. Those were the kind I would have enjoyed as a pre-teen or teen. So I set out to write a funny, heartfelt, mysterious YA novel with a twist. I hope that I've succeeded with THE DEAD OF SUMMER.

  1. What did this book teach you about yourself as a writer and as a person?

With every book I write, I learn something new about the writing process, the publishing process, and myself. This book was no exception. This book taught me that I can make things happen for myself. I believed in THE DEAD OF SUMMER and shopped it around to a few agents at a conference. Several were very interested, but admitted that the sub-genre that I was aiming for was uncharted waters and they weren't sure about the market. I wanted to share this story and wouldn't take no for an answer, which is one of the reasons I ultimately decided to try Kindle Scout. And throughout the Kindle Scout process, I've gained valuable knowledge from writers who have gone before me and have inspired me. I have to be willing to take risks...not only in writing, but in my life. I would be missing out on so much had I not submitted my novel to Kindle Scout. Don't be afraid to fail---failure will happen. But you'll never succeed if you don't risk failure.

  1. You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

This is such a difficult question for me...there aren't many people of celebrity status that I admire. I'm definitely not someone awestruck by celebrity. But if I had to choose someone, I would say Judy Blume. It was her writing that inspired my love of reading as a child. I've always admired her ability to really connect with her readers, old and young, and I'd be thrilled to pick her brain. In fact, can I pick her brain now? I don't want to wait for the light at the end of the tunnel...

  1. Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.

I wrote my first novel ALL SHE EVER WANTED in early 2011. I  was going through a difficult time in my life and experiencing a lot of stress in my job. I began dreaming up the main character as sort of a stress relieving exercise and found writing about her was pretty cathartic. She was a career woman with everything she could dream of, yet her life felt incomplete. She made a lot of mistakes trying to find what was missing, and writing about her mistakes and the impact they made on her life, made my problems seem silly and insignificant. I actually wrote the whole thing in a marble notebook in six weeks, and then decided I loved the story so much, I would copy it to the computer. I was so proud of my efforts, I looked into self publishing, never thinking anyone would read it, let alone buy it. But when rave reviews and encouragement trickled in, I was inspired to write more. And I haven't been able to stop since. The next year I wrote a book about a mother who is suffering from post-partum depression and grieving the loss of a child at the same time. It took an emotional toll on me, so I ended up putting off publishing it for almost three years. I also wrote a book called LETTERS TO MY SISTER'S SHRINK about a suicidal bride who will only communicate with her therapist through letters.

After writing these emotional stories, I needed some fun. I opted for chick-lit, looking to try my hand at comedic writing. NOTE TO SELF: CHANGE THE LOCKS was much more light-hearted than what I was used to. And I loved writing it, knowing it would make people smile instead of weep. So I started to write a series about a (busybody) frazzled mom of four who stumbles upon mysteries and gets ensnared in them. Amy Maxwell is by far my favorite character to write...she's scatterbrained, and I think nearly any mom today can understand her. Yes, her antics are far-fetched, but that's what's so fun about the series...you know none of those things are happening to an everyday mom, but moms can relate all the same.

  1. What are your future plans as an author? How do you see your career developing?

This is kind of like the job performance reviews I have to write for my boss every year. ;)

I'd love to see my writing developing into a full time job. Correction...it IS a full time job. There is so much besides writing that authors must do to get their books read...it's mindblowing. But I haven't been able to dedicate the time to it that I'd like with my "real" full time job (the one that pays for my book habit). So in the future, I would love to be able to focus solely on writing. Until then, I'm content to continue with my Amy Maxwell series and occasionally work on deeper novels that tug at the heartstrings. I'd also like to be able to get more proficient with technology--I'm seriously pathetic--my ten year old has to help me with my iPad, and my fourteen year old helps me with Google. It would be great if I could spend more time on social media, letting readers know what I'm up to. And no, I won't post pictures of my dinner (unless it's AMAZING) or give blow by blow status updates of my day.

***

heatherbalogHeather Balog is mother to two small humans, one large grown-up husband, two furry canines, and one cranky cat. By day she is a school nurse, penning her novels by candlelight. While not writing, mothering, or working, she can be found with her nose in a book and a cleaning rag in her hand (or a glass of wine…). She not only writes novels, but is the snarky voice behind The Bad Mommy Diaries blog.

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WRITERS REACH: S.M. FREEDMAN WITH 'THE FAITHFUL'

WRITERS REACH: S.M. FREEDMAN WITH 'THE FAITHFUL'

On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. S.M. Freedman's debut thriller, THE FAITHFUL, excelled in the last year of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award's running, and it wasn't long before the book drew the attention of Thomas & Mercer, Amazon's Mystery/Thriller imprint. In anticipation of the launch on September 29th of this acclaimed novel, Shoshona shares her insight and experience. thefaithful

FBI agent Josh Metcalf believes he has uncovered a decades-long conspiracy involving missing children. His obsession has led him to compile hundreds of cases. All involve children rumored to have psychic abilities—and all have no witnesses, no leads, and no resolution.

Meanwhile, Rowan Wilson, a meteorite hunter for NASA’s Spaceguard Program, is losing her grip on the past. Memories of the childhood she thought she’d had are vanishing, and dark recollections of kidnappings, mind control, and an isolated mountain ranch are taking their place.

When Rowan’s shadowed past converges with Josh’s research, they uncover a deadly plot to reshape humanity. With the world’s survival dependent on stopping a vast network of conspirators, can they decipher—and expose—the truth in time?

  • Can you share some of the highlights of your publishing journey since your participation in ABNA?

I’m still so sad that ABNA is finished! It created such a great author community—and that, more than anything, was the highlight for me. I met some amazing writers with whom I now share this writerly journey, and I’m forever grateful to ABNA for the introduction.

Partway through ABNA, I decided to self-publish. Fueled by the desire to keep my book-baby completely my own, I turned away from the traditional route of agents, query letters, submission packages, etc. While Amazon makes self-publishing a fairly simple process, there’s a huge learning curve involved if you want to do it well. There’s editing and formatting and cover design and, scariest of all, marketing. I learned a ton, and for the most part, it was a lot of fun to steer my own ship.

This past February, I was contacted out of the blue by an acquisitions editor from Thomas & Mercer. I must admit I almost deleted her email, thinking it was spam that had somehow missed the filter. And then I read it more carefully, and my heart started to do a little pitter-pat inside my chest. The gist of her email was this: She’d read and loved The Faithful, and she wanted to discuss republishing it under Thomas & Mercer’s label. She wanted to take it global, and put the strength of Amazon’s marketing team behind it.

I was intrigued, but also very nervous. There’s a freedom that comes along with self-publishing, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to give that up. I’ve heard many horror stories from authors who have inked deals with publishing houses and lost their say in how the book was finalized. By publication time, the author no longer felt any connection to their book-baby.

In one of our initial conversations, the acquisitions editor assured me that despite being part of the Amazon monolith, T&M did things differently. They were author-centric and had the feel of a small publishing house. And she was right. They’re amazing!

  • What has working with T&M been like? Can you walk us through the process?

I’ve really enjoyed the whole darn thing! Because I don’t have an agent serving as my go-between, I’ve had the chance to be hands on with everyone at T&M. I’ve gotten to know their editors, their marketing people, and their author relations team—each and every one of them is passionate and dedicated and funny and smart and kind.

The Faithful went through a developmental edit, followed by several copy edits with different editors. Improvements to the story were suggested by their editors rather than demanded, and left for me to complete as best I could. I was reminded many times that I had the right to say no if I didn’t agree with a suggestion, but I never felt the need; they know what they’re talking about!

T&M involved me in every detail of decision-making, from marketing blurbs to the design of the book cover. It was like a whole bunch of smarty-pants brains came together with the goal of making every word, every design element, every little thing, the best it could be. So now, four short days away from the launch of the republished version of The Faithful, I not only feel just as connected to my book-baby, but also like I had the help of a super-smart village in raising it—and it’s now on its way to Harvard.

  • What were the most challenging aspects of writing this book, and what came easily? 

My biggest challenge was my own ignorance. I sat down to write this book without understanding what I was getting myself into, or how much work it would be. I wrote from the heart, using instinct rather than knowledge as my guide. It was kind of like a crash course in Novel Writing 101—and believe me, I crashed a lot. But I also learned a lot, most of all that I was stubborn enough to see it through to the end. And somewhere along the way, I realized the best thing of all: I love it! I’ve fallen completely gaga in love with every aspect of writing, from bumbling through the first draft to the honing and word-chiseling of the editing process. Recently my husband and I were talking about retirement plans, and I said to him, “You know what? I never ever ever want to retire!”

  • I'd love to know what drew you to your subject matter and how you managed to get under the skin of such a rich array of characters. Can you tell us a little about them?

I’m only just coming to realize how much I write what I fear: losing a child, things that go bump in the night, the end of days … there were certain chapters, like when Father Barnabas comes through Ryanne during hypnosis, where I ended up with a serious case of the willies and had trouble sleeping afterward! Ha ha. Silly writer, scaring herself!

As for the characters, each of them is a part of me. Ryanne is cheeky, geeky, awkward, loves junk food and hates exercise. Josh, the FBI agent, is true-blue, methodical and investigative, but has a giant poetic heart. He’ll never let you down and will fight to the bitter end for what he believes in. In Sumner I’ve unleashed my ill-timed and poorly filtered sense of humor. He says the things I think, but usually have the presence of mind to keep to myself. He’s a rough nut, but there’s a depth and seriousness to him that I’m only just beginning to tap.

  • You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

Stephen King, hands down! Wouldn’t that be a trip? Who better to escort you into the horrifying unknown than the king of horror? (Just FYI, if I see Pennywise the Clown I’m screaming. A lot.)

  • Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.

The Faithful’s sequel is written, although I’m keeping the title close to the vest for now. It picks up a few months after The Faithful left off, and let’s just say, I Fidele is far from finished. I think it’s going to be the dark-hearted middle child of the series. I’ve also been working on a detective story set in Palm Springs, which might end up becoming a series as well.

  • What are your future plans as an author? How do you see your career developing?

My plans are simple, really: Keep on writing until they pry that keyboard from my cold, dead hands. Why hello, Stephen King! How nice to finally meet you!

***

We wish S.M. Freedman a successful launch on the 29th. Until then, THE FAITHFUL can be pre-ordered today here.

Feel free to connect with her through the links below.

***

Author Photo 6-1S.M. Freedman is a top-ranked Amazon author in the Mystery, Thriller and Suspense categories, and a member of the WorldWiseWriters group. She lives in Vancouver with her husband, two children and a giant orange cat.

 She studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, and spent years as a private investigator and business owner.

Inspired by authors of many different genres (favorites include Sue Grafton, Diana Gabaldon, Jodi Picoult, Stephen King, Justin Cronin, Suzanne Collins, and Lawrence Hill, to name a few) she eventually turned back to her first love: writing. 

The Faithful, a paperback and Kindle Amazon Bestseller in both the US and the UK, and a Quarter Finalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, is her debut novel. It will be re-published globally by Thomas & Mercer (Amazon's Mystery/Thriller Imprint) in the fall of 2015. She's currently working on the sequel.

Buy THE FAITHFUL and find out more about S.M. Freedman at:

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WRITERS REACH: ALEX DOLAN WITH 'THE EUTHANIST'

WRITERS REACH: ALEX DOLAN WITH 'THE EUTHANIST'

On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today Alex Dolan shares his insight and experience with the launch of THE EUTHANIST, an auspicious debut in which 'he announces himself as a virtuoso of psychological suspense and a rightful heir to masters of the genre like Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott.' Euthenist

They know her as Kali, a young woman who helps to end the lives of people with terminal diseases, her reasons her own. She is there to see them off into the afterlife with kindness, with efficiency, and with two needles. She’s been a part of the right-to-die movement for years, an integral member, complicit in the deaths of twenty-seven men and women, all suffering, all dying.

When Kali helps the wrong patient, she is roped into a plot to gain vengeance on behalf of dozens. Her journey will make her question everything she ever thought she knew about herself.

And the last life she ends may be her own.  

  • You've been busy since THE EUTHANIST came out in June 2015. I managed to catch you on radio and at Book Passage in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. How much promotion have you done since the novel launched and can you share some of the highlights?

As a debut author, I’m grateful that a number of bookstores have been willing to host me. The highlights so far have included Thrillerfest in New York in July, an annual conference run by International Thriller Writers (ITW). During the conference, they staged a sort of “coming out” event where Steve Berry introduced debut authors like me.

I was also excited to join two episodes of The Narrative Breakdown, which is my favorite writing podcast. The hosts are charismatic and thoughtful, and they provide insightful tools for writers who want to hone their craft.

  • Can you tell us a little about your characters?

My main character is a death-with-dignity practitioner who goes by the name Kali. Until writing this book, Jack Kavorkian was the face of the movement, so I wanted to create a character that would be his complete opposite. She’s young, physically formidable, and a little coarse.

Because of what she does for a living, she’s an outlaw. So the primary conflict unfolds in the relationship between her and a character named Leland, who represents law enforcement. He’s strong-willed, supremely confident in his abilities, and his personality resembles Kali’s, which makes it easy for them to clash. They’re similar types of people with divergent values. Kali believes in mercy, and Leland believes in revenge.

  • What were the most challenging aspects of writing this book?

The book covers some delicate subject matter, and I wanted to approach it with respect. It was challenging to find a balance between telling a compelling story and not feeling exploitative. I hope readers think that I pulled that off.

The research around this book also took an emotional toll. Not to dramatize my role in this, because I just wrote about it, but it was taxing to learn what happens to people during end-of-life decisions. It gave me a stronger sense of my own mortality, and that wasn’t always pleasant.

  • What did this book teach you about yourself as a writer?

That I needed help.

Part of my breakthrough in this book was finding an editor to help me during the formative drafts. That editor was, of course, you, Jennifer Skutelsky. And I’ll shamelessly plug your services here.

(If anyone’s reading this and hoping to move toward the next stage of his or her career, I’d highly recommend working with Jenn. She’s one of the best editors I’ve ever met, and a pleasure to work with. Alex, thank you. This book, and your writing, was a revelation, a wonderful project to work on.)

There, my plug is over. But that was seriously one of the major milestones for me as a writer—finding a mentor who could coach me and help me define my weaknesses and improve.

I think there’s a misconception that writing is a completely solitary craft. Like any other creative medium, it helps to collaborate with the right people. From the time I scribbled the concept in a notebook till the time I held the finished copy, I worked with three main editors, and took the book through about 8-10 drafts.

  • You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

That’s a good question. It would probably change depending on different stages of my life. For a while it might have been Frank Stella (who’s alive, by the way), because his art inspired me throughout my childhood. I loved how he transformed the space for traditional two-dimensional wall-hanging art into a three-dimensional experience. These days, I might want Patton Oswalt or Hannibal Buress because they could soften the blow. But it would be great to see my father again too.

  • Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.

I’m close to an announcement for my second novel, THE EMPRESS. It’s a much different kind of thriller, set in the art world, but it shares a similar tone.

***

We look forward to good news and more from Alex.

Feel free to connect with him here and find him through the links below.

***

AD headshot 600Alex Dolan is a writer and musician based in California. His first book, THE EUTHANIST, represented by the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency is published through Diversion Books. He is also an executive committee member of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Litquake festival, and a member of the International Thriller Writers Debut Authors Program and Sisters in Crime. He has recorded four music albums, and created The End of the World festivals, which combined philanthropy with artists in music, fashion, film, literature, and the visual arts.

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WRITERS REACH: JAMES MORRIS WITH 'MELOPHOBIA'

WRITERS REACH: JAMES MORRIS WITH 'MELOPHOBIA'

On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today we celebrate JAMES MORRIS's second win on Kindle Scout with MELOPHOBIA, referred to by Publisher’s Weekly as “a convincing alternative history novel and…an accomplished coming-of-age love story that asks big questions about freedom and expressiveness in the face of oppression.” MELOPHOBIA is up for pre-sale now and is scheduled to launch on September 22, 2015 through Kindle Press. melophobia

Melophobia: fear or hatred of music.

The time—now; the place—America, but in a world where the government controls all forms of art and creativity. Any music sowing the seeds of anarchy is banned—destroyed if found—its creators and listeners harshly punished.

Merrin Pierce works as an undercover Patrol officer assigned to apprehend a fugitive musician who threatens the safe fabric of society, only to confront everything she thought to be true – her values, upbringing, job, and future.

Can love survive in a world without music?

And without further ado, here's James:

One of the things that make MELOPHOBIA such a memorable journey is seeing how Kindle Scout made it possible. I was always told by The Powers That Be that books about music were a hard sell in the marketplace; for whatever reason, “those kind of books” didn’t sell, and thus, even sending out the book to editors at traditional publishing houses was seen as a losing proposition. No one took the chance. So, it’s great that crowd-sourcing allowed this story an audience. I’ve always loved it even if it’s a mix of genres, and honestly, I could see it one day adapted to both a movie or even a Broadway show ala WICKED. One can dream, right?

MELOPHOBIA was born when a friend of mine told me he thought the United States was on the brink of a second Civil War during the 1960’s. He believed the US could’ve broken apart due to the influence of popular culture – especially music – in speaking for the disenfranchised younger generation. We’re all familiar with the terrible history: the assassinations, the riots, the counter-culture that the older generation despised and didn’t understand; and of course, an extremely unpopular war. Obviously, a second Civil War never happened, but I thought: what if music did spark a revolution back then? What would’ve happened? That’s the alternate history angle.

I also learned that nailing down the rights to use song lyrics in a manuscript is a Byzantine process. You might think one song lyric would have only one rights holder, but it turns out there are domestic rights-holders as well as foreign rights-holders. So tracking down, querying, waiting, and paying for the rights was a long process that I wouldn’t recommend unless a lyric is absolutely necessary. I felt like a movie producer purchasing the licenses required for the book, and I have an excel spreadsheet to prove it! Some lyrics I couldn’t use or were too expensive, which forced me to find alternative songs, or to cut the lyrics altogether. In the end, the changes actually made the manuscript better.

Once again, I learned that no manuscript, to paraphrase John Donne, is an island. I had input from beta-readers, and my wife is an excellent critique and brainstorm partner. I’m blessed to have talented people around me; they only make me look better!

Finally, the readers. This is my second book, and I don’t know how it will be received. But I’ve learned from my first book WHAT LIES WITHIN that having readers who appreciate the work is an amazing feeling. Writing is not a pragmatic endeavor: it generally doesn’t pay; while many people read, a vast majority don’t; and no one, really, (unless you’re JK Rowling during the height of Harry Potter) is waiting with baited breath for my next project. So, you kind of listen to that voice inside your head, and plunk along, wondering if it’s worth it at all, and then – someone likes your book! And that person recommends it to a friend, and suddenly there’s a conversation going on, and that is deeply gratifying.

***

JimMorrisPortraitJames Morris is a former television writer who now works in digital media. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching HOUSE HUNTERS RENOVATION, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles.

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WRITERS REACH: JINA BACARR WITH 'LOVE ME FOREVER'

WRITERS REACH: JINA BACARR WITH 'LOVE ME FOREVER'

On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Coinciding with PBS's rebroadcast of Ken Burns' THE CIVIL WAR--newly restored and in high definition--JINA BACARR joins us to celebrate the launch of her novel, LOVE ME FOREVER, a Kindle Scout winner published by Kindle Press. JINABOOK

When Liberty Jordan travels back to Antietam in 1862 during a Civil War re-enactment, one stolen kiss with Union officer, Major Flynt Stephens, makes her wonder if she wasn’t sent here for a reason. But Flynt is engaged to Pauletta Sue Buckingham, a Confederate spy who lost her husband. The war heats up when she saves Liberty—her mirror image—from rotting in a Yankee prison. Her price? Pretend to be her so she can fight for the cause. Can Liberty pull off the charade? And find love with Flynt?

  1. What were the most challenging aspects of writing this book, and what came easily?

Great question and one that trips easily off the pen: writing two heroines and two heroes and keeping them “wanting each other,” but not letting them get what they want (taking a breath here), while also keeping true to the timeline of the Civil War.

My time traveling heroine goes back to the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, the bloodiest day of the war. What was the hero doing? The other heroine? It was a challenge to make these three come together in a believable manner, but also on an emotional level that reflects the events of that day in history. That’s what time travel is all about, giving the reader that “you are there” feeling that this story couldn’t happen on any other day in history to anybody else but these three characters.

Since my hero is a Union Army battlefield physician, I had to come up with a way for him to encounter a captured Confederate prisoner (my heroine disguised as a Rebel lieutenant) and have him discover that officer is a woman, a beautiful woman he can’t forget. Then the other heroine shows up, who just happens to be his fiancée and a Confederate spy . . .

(Note: the second hero shows up later in the story.)

LOVE ME FOREVER follows the war from September 17, 1862 till May 2, 1863. Writing romance against the backdrop of war is very dramatic and soul-searching, but it also has to be tender and show the moments when the characters try to forget the war for a moment and let their passions overtake them.

The Civil War is so well documented, you can’t afford to slip in the mud . . . make a mistake. I have three battles in my story—Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville—and I lived the angst right along with my characters, smelling the gunpowder, cringing at the sound of canon fire, feeling their pain, even tripping on a petticoat and hearing it rip as I tried to get every detail correct. Which is why I’m so excited that PBS is rebroadcasting Ken Burns’ THE CIVIL WAR, remastered and in high definition from September 7-11, 2015. I wanted to bring that same emotional commitment to LOVE ME FOREVER, where you experience the war through the eyes of four very different characters and absorb it. Let it get under your skin so you feel like you’ve stepped into those old photographs and can actually see the characters’ eyes blink, smell the stink of war on their clothes, and hear them breathing.

What came easily?

The dialogue.

I have a theater background and I love the power of the spoken word. More importantly, what isn’t said. The subtext. Since I know the characters so well, their volleying back and forth was not only fun to write but invigorating. Especially when my time traveling heroine and her battlefield physician get into an argument over the conditions of prisoners of war and the practice of medicine at that time. Also, the two heroines are constantly trying to win over the other about who will win the war: the North or the South. My time traveler knows the outcome, but my Southern belle does her best to convince her the cause is worth fighting for, especially when it comes to the rights of Southern women. There is no black or white here, but many shades of gray as these two women begin to understand each other and question their own beliefs.

  1. Tell us about your main characters and what drives them.

Heroine: Liberty Jordan, history teacher, part time EMT, Civil War reenactor. Liberty never knew her family, grew up in the foster care system, and wants with her whole heart to “find her way home.” She pays it forward for the education she received by taking her students on field trips, which brings her to Sharpsburg, Maryland and the reenactment of Antietam. Dressed as a Confederate officer, she’s determined not to let the kids down. She gives it her all and ends up flying back through time when she finds an old Civil War buckle in the mud and a mortar shell hits too close to where she’s entrenched. Once she realizes what happened to her, she’s determined to save lives back in this time. Little does she know she’s going to buck heads with a wildly handsome Union Army physician and a stubborn Southern belle . . . but she never gives up her belief that she can make a difference in this war, even if it’s the end of her.

Hero: Major Flynt Stephens: a Union Army physician, a Virginia gentleman, and the owner of Rosebriar plantation. A staunch believer that the Union must be preserved at all costs, he joins the Fighting Fifth of the II Corps and finds himself setting up a tent hospital on the bloody battlefield. His passion for science and his search for answers in how to save the wounded drives him beyond anything else. He has little time for courting a lady, though he feels honor bound to marry the daughter of an old family friend when she shows up on his doorstep after her plantation was destroyed by Federals. Then his world is shaken up when a fascinating woman dressed as a Rebel officer enters his realm. Who is she? Where did she come from? He can’t believe her medical knowledge and how her ideas about science mirror his own. He’s drawn to her and when she’s sent to a Yankee prison in Baltimore, he swears he won’t rest until he finds her again. There’s only one problem . . . his fiancée, Pauletta Sue.

Heroine: Pauletta Sue Buckingham: a Tennessee belle. She has a fierceness inside her to avenge the wrongful death of the man she loved by the Yankees that is so strong, she will do anything to set things right, even marrying a man she doesn’t love. And spying for the Confederacy. She grew up on a plantation as a privileged belle, but her papa was a good, God-fearing man and didn’t treat his “people” badly, giving them everything he could. But like so many Southerners, he didn’t understand it wasn’t enough, that they weren’t really free; Pauletta Sue does. She befriends Bedelia, a young black girl, as a child and side by side these two fight a different kind of war: equality for all Southern women. She never figured coming up against a young woman who looks exactly like her . . . Liberty is her twin . . . a woman who has all the wrong ideas about the war, but who proves very useful to the belle in her spying ventures.

This book taught me that writing historical fiction is one of the most difficult genres to get down on paper, but an important one. As a writer, you have an obligation to present the facts, but you also have an obligation to let the characters tell their story. Dig, dig, dig until you understand the world they live in, not use preconceived ideas, and then keep digging until you find the truth about that world, even if it hurts.

I grew up in different parts of the country and I’ve visited nearly every state in my travels. I’ve spent a lot of time in the South and I still feel the glow of that Southern patina shine through when I write about it. The Civil War changed us (as Ken Burns so aptly says in a PBS interview) and writing about it changed me. As my heroine, Liberty, yearns so dearly for a home and family, I yearned to set the records straight for both sides, especially when it comes to the heroics of women from both the North and the South. We are all sisters in our fight to find our place in this world, no matter what time we live in.

  1. Can you describe your journey to publication: the torment and elation, the times none of it made any sense, the moments when it all came together?

I’ve had a varied writing career—books (both fiction and nonfiction), plays, travel articles, computer column, ad writing, radio spots, technical writing, TV, etc.—not a straight road by any means, but a fabulously interesting one. It comes from being on the road a lot as a kid then an adult, traveling around the country and the world, poking my nose into every corner like a curious detective, asking why . . . and where did that come from? I’ve always found a certain fascination for history and God knows, I’ve visited every museum that would let me in. I love walking through history—from Pompeii to Verdun to Old Paris. The voices of the past speak to me through carriages with cracked leather seats, stiff ivory-colored crinolines, and worn satin slippers. I’ve always wondered what it was like to walk in those slippers when they were new.

Writing about it is my greatest joy.

  1. You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you’ve always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

Joan of Arc.

When I was a young girl about thirteen, my Great Aunt Marie with the dancing green eyes gave me a book with a teal blue cover. Plain with no book jacket. No fancy blurb. Ordinary type. But oh, what an adventure lay between those pages. The story depicted the extraordinary life of the girl soldier, Joan of Arc. I read that book a million times over the years and still have it. Her story has stayed with me always, comforted me in hard times, enlightened me in worrisome ones, and thrilled me with each new read.

The saint’s courage and commitment to stick to her beliefs is awe inspiring and her determination to follow that path no matter what is the grit you need to be a writer. She’s kept me on my path. It’s a tough road, but one well taken.

  1. Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my historical romance, TITANIC RHAPSODY. It’s not a time travel, but the story of a poor Irish girl, Katie O’Reilly, a handsome gentleman gambler, Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn, and the beautiful Countess of Marbury and how their lives are forever changed aboard the Titanic. Every detail my characters experience is as it happened on that fateful night, April 14, 1912.

You can see the trailer I made here: http://jinabacarr.com/titanicrhapsody.html

I can’t end this interview without mentioning the sequel I’m writing to LOVE ME FOREVER. When I finished my story (and yes, there is a happy ending), I kept feeling this tugging at my heart to find out what happened to those left behind back in 1863 . . .

I won’t tell you who got left behind, but in LOVE ME ALWAYS, we pick up the story in 1865 and go on another time-traveling adventure. . .listening?

***

JINAI discovered early on I inherited the gift of the gab from my large Irish family when I penned a story about a princess who ran away to Paris with her pet turtle Lulu. I was twelve. I grew up listening to their wild, outlandish tales and it was those early years of storytelling that led to my love of history and traveling. I enjoy writing to classical music with a hot cup of java by my side. I adore dark chocolate truffles, vintage anything, the smell of bread baking, and rainy days in museums.

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We’d love to hear from you, so feel free to connect with JINA BACARR right here.

Some Thoughts on Losing and Reclaiming Power

Some Thoughts on Losing and Reclaiming Power

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Lately the word 'power' has been knocking at my brain. I've become discerning about what I let in to this squiggly maze of horror and delight, because it might just as easily be the girl from The Ring as Special Agent Gibbs. But the concept has been nagging, so I'm opening the door. Power and all its implications lie at the heart of everything that matters to me. Power is the very worst thing you can steal from another being, and we do it all the time, in a myriad of ways. Sometimes we go about it with malice aforethought, subversively, in that sneaky part of ourselves that's dark and enjoys pulling the wings off model airplanes. Maybe we go after someone else's power because we don't have any of our own and we'll take it from those who have no choice: the dog, who loves us; the nerdy kid in the playground, who's terrified; the immigrant who'll work for less than minimum wage because that's better than death in his home country.

But we don't only undermine the power of others. We give away our own, sometimes voluntarily, maybe even consciously. We lose our power to Titans of commerce and politics, and too often forfeit it to those who don't have our best interests at heart. We even give it up to those who'd destroy us.

When my daughter was born, one of the reasons I felt like a big mass of fearful, quivering, tearful (all the time) jello was because her power rested in my perfectly fallible hands. I had to protect her; I had to make sure Life wore a mask and gloves before messing with her, so, you know, it wouldn't pass on any germs; I had to keep her safe, when I knew how Life snickered, if not laughed outright, at such a plan. I made a pact with the unseen, all knowing gods of adverse fate and circumstance that they would go through me to get to her, and take me in her place, if it ever came to that.

See, I was powerless, too. In my awe and adoration, I gave Squidy all my power, and she held it in those pudgy little hands, flinging and tossing and catching it until I was certain she'd drop or demolish it. But she never did. She has always kept it safe.

So what did it mean, me holding her power, and she holding mine? Perhaps it meant that, at some primal level, nature understands that balance at its most steady lies in this exchange. There's give and take--it's not linear or constant--but it's reciprocal, and that's what gives power its richness. Not the shenanigans of a dysfunctional ego that sets us above or below others in a position of dominance and control.

At the core of all my experience of sorrow and despair, fear and rage, lies an enduring hatred of bullies, and while this intolerance is rooted in childhood, beneath it lies an abhorrence for the abuse of power. So when I see dogs in a cage, or a carrier full of livestock on its way to a slaughterhouse, or doomed migrants in a truck, the grief that overcomes me has to do with each individual's unbearable relinquishing of power to those who have no plan to honor it. A protagonist in my novel becomes a forensic anthropologist because she believes that every life matters. That's how I feel.

I've seen what the loss of power does to someone, and I've lost my own from time to time. I still have moments where I struggle to reclaim it. Defining it helps, and knowing what I want it to look like, too. Claiming power gives me the means to empower others, and that's what my life must be about. Maybe I didn't dare define or claim it before because once I held it, delicate and mercurial, could I trust it?

Who and what do we become if we acknowledge that we're powerful? It's a beautiful question and the answer is like a deep breath of clean, mountain air. Because I think that acknowledgement is all it takes. At a trickle or a roar, power can be wrested from those who've stolen it, and shared with those who have none of their own.

WRITERS REACH: AMY WOLF WITH 'The Misses Brontë’s Establishment'

WRITERS REACH: AMY WOLF WITH 'The Misses Brontë’s Establishment'

On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today AMY WOLF joins us to celebrate the launch of her novel, The Misses Brontë’s Establishmenta Kindle Scout winner published by Kindle Press. amy D SIZE text2

What if Branwell Brontë had not died before Emily? What if Charlotte were able to marry her Mr. Rochester? What if the Misses Brontë's Establishment actually did find a pupil: one who is taught by three geniuses?

Meet Maria Shelby, spoiled–and rich–daughter of a knight in mid-Victorian England. Maria has a habit of getting into trouble: at eighteen, she’s already been sacked from six London schools and no one else will have her--except The Misses Brontë’s Establishment in the remote Yorkshire village of Haworth.

Maria is bundled off to Exile, to a land as strange to her as the Brontë’s imagined Gondal. She finds herself constantly freezing; the strange family she resides with actually recites Shakespeare at the table(!); the brother is a poesy-spouting firebrand; and as for the median Miss Brontë, let’s just say she’s a bit lacking when it comes to social skills.

Yet with the passage of time, Maria–so ignorant she cannot add a simple sum or say hello in French–comes to value her teachers: Charlotte, Emily, and Anne. She studies German, Geography, and Philosophy, subjects utterly verboten for women at the time, and gets to read George Sand.

During her stay at the Parsonage, Maria discovers some explosive letters addressed by Charlotte to Monsieur Heger, the model for Mr. Rochester, in Brussels. This spurs Maria to become a proto-detective, not to mention a first-class spy. Gradually, she finds herself attracted to the romantic, red-haired Branwell and becomes a friend to Charlotte, who is tortured by thoughts of Monsieur Heger and her own thwarted ambition.

Maria serves as our eyes and ears to incredible literary history: the creation of the Brontë masterpieces Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. She lives through the scathing reviews, the searing deaths of Emily and Anne, and the near-hopeless fall of Branwell as he descends into drink and opium. Will Branwell ever recover? Will Charlotte reunite with Heger, or end up marrying her father’s stiff curate? And what about that strange vision which keeps assailing Maria in the cellar?

Part suspense, part high comedy, part Victorian novel, The Misses Brontë’s Establishment takes the reader on a profound literary journey, along with young Maria.

  1. What were the most challenging aspects of writing this book, and what came easily?

I’d say the primary challenge was staying true to who the Brontës were, both as writers and people. I’ve been researching for fifteen years–including visits to most of the Brontë sites and reading all the biographies–so I think I have a decent grounding in what made this family tick.

What came easily, oddly enough, was emulating the style of Victorian prose. I’ve read so many novels from this period, and in my English B.A. essays, scored highest on the Victorians, so the style really flowed. If I had a doubt about the etymology of a word, I would look it up to make sure it was in use during the 1840’s. Not fanatical or anything, oh no. . .

  1. Tell us about your main characters and what drives them.

My main character is Maria Shelby, a young girl who is used to being spoiled and coddled in London. She’s rich, her father is a knight, she’s pretty and has many suitors. But her dad gets tired of her being kicked out of girls’ schools, so he “remands her to Haworth,” to the Misses Brontë’s Establishment. Here, Maria is exposed not only to the “heathen” North, but also to poverty, since the Brontës live very modestly.

At first, she is contemptuous of her three teachers–Charlotte, Emily, and Anne–but as her tenure there lengthens, she comes to appreciate the power of the mind as opposed to that of position. She gets very close to Charlotte and helps her attain the love of her life (as well as finding her own in Haworth).

Charlotte Brontë is who she is: a genius; a great writer who was the most ambitious of the three sisters and who in fact was responsible for their works’ publication. She is hyper-sensitive, a hypochondriac, passionate, and has the zeal of a monastic when it comes to art. She isn’t afraid to challenge the luminaries of the day, from Thackeray to Harriet Martineau. As tragedy strikes her family, she develops a thicker skin and is able to answer her critics. Plus, with Maria’s help, she is reunited with her first--and greatest love--the real-life man who served as the model for Mr. Rochester.

  1. Can you describe your journey to publication: the torment and elation, the times none of it made any sense, the moments when it all came together?

For me, it’s mainly been torment :). I knew I wanted to write from the fourth grade on, but there was always that nagging concern standing in my way: the need to make money. So I started my career in the film industry, which lasted for 15 years, then branched off into IT and database development.

My writing career turned around when I went to the ’92 Clarion West Writer’s Workshop in Seattle. Each week, we were taught by amazing pro's (among them, John Crowley and Pat Cadigan) and I not only formed lifetime friendships, but also started selling to the professional market. All in all, I’ve sold 38 short stories.

I took a shot at self-publishing on KDP with a memoir, and achieved more than average success.

Now, with The Misses Brontë’s Establishment, I’m going out with a paperback as well, so we’ll see what happens.

As far as NYC, they do their best to ignore me. It must be an LA/NY thing!

  1. You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

Charlotte Brontë. I love her, I really do, for her genius; forward-thinking feminism; ambition; and perseverance. Mainly, for her courage.

  1. Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.

OK, here we go! I have a memoir on Amazon Kindle, Don’t Let Me Die in a Motel 6. This is the story of my life during and after the Great Recession, hitting such high marks as unemployment, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and repo. Here’s the fun part: it’s a comedy!   Republicans tend to hate this since it defies their Well, if you’d only saved more . . . mythos. But if you’re a Dem or even faintly progressive, I think this is a fun, poignant read.

In the pipeline: a YA fantasy series The Cavernis Trilogy. My first love is fantasy (hence, Clarion) and this is the tale of Mattie Sharp, an L.A. teen who is whisked to Cavernis, a world teaming with dragons. There, she is reunited with her childhood pal – the wyvern Artorius – trains to be a female knight, and meets the guy she falls for – except at first, he’s a dragon. This is definitely a comic (as in humorous) tale, and I’ve created a world of dragons the likes of which has never been seen before. NYC, are you listening?

Here are two other amazing facts:

  • The Misses Brontë’s Establishment was meant to be real. After Charlotte & Emily returned from studying in Brussels, they printed a flyer (which appears in the book) soliciting pupils. Since Haworth was so remote, no one responded and this “school scheme” was dropped.
  • I used to do stand-up at The Comedy Store in Hollywood!

***

AmyAuthorPic (1)Amy Wolf is a Kindle Scout winner for her novel The Misses Brontë’s Establishment, which launched on August 11, 2015. She has published 38 short stories in the fantasy/sf genres, including Realms Of Fantasy (2) and Interzone (U.K.). She is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and has an honors degree in English from The University of London. She started her career working for the major Hollywood studios, especially 20th Century Fox. One of three natives out of 10 million, Amy was forced from LA and now lives in Seattle (where it rains). She has one adult daughter currently terrorizing LA, 2 horses, 2 dogs, and a bunny.

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Brooke Warner's Editing Insights

Brooke Warner's Editing Insights

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There are many conflicting opinions about editing: why bother; how much; what to demand/expect; what's editing anyway? Brooke Warner says it in a nutshell. In a later post, I'll share what the editing process has meant to me as a writer, and how I work as an editor for others. http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/editorial-services-explained-how-the-industry-thinks-about-editin

WRITERS REACH: ROAN POULTER WITH 'THE LONG ROAD HOME'

WRITERS REACH: ROAN POULTER WITH 'THE LONG ROAD HOME'

On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today ROAN POULTER joins us to celebrate the launch of his novel, THE LONG ROAD HOME, a Kindle Scout winner published by Kindle Press. Roan

Jordan Carter's mother was more than famous, she was a literary icon. Her death leaves him alone in the world and feeling diminished. When he meets Siena, he thinks he may have stumbled upon the love of a lifetime.

But when larger questions of Siena’s past and Jordan’s unfinished task of scattering his mother's ashes separate them, can they endure the length of road that divides them? As the miles roll on, Jordan is forced to face the reality of who his mother was and discover the man he will become.

  1. What were the most challenging aspects of writing this book, and what came easily?

Writing is an organic process for me, which means I only write well while the juices are flowing. This works well most of the time because I enjoy writing, but when a block or boring section weighs on me it can take weeks or months to get through it. Editing, well, I’d rather re-tar my roof. What kept me stepping forward was the hope that a couple of people would catch all the interwoven threads between not only THE LONG ROAD HOME and the prior two books in the series, but the writings (under pseudonym) of a main character. The idea of creating a world with call backs and Easter eggs still puts a smile on my face.

  1. Tell us about your main characters and what drives them.

THE LONG ROAD HOME is Jordan’s story; he was a minor character in the first two books (THE END OF THE ROAD and ALL ROADS SOUTH). He’s been mainly luggage, in his life and in the books, so to take him out to find what really made him tick was a great pleasure. He’s the dutiful son, following all the rules and regulations his mother loathed. Yet he is still his mother’s son, and it’s those glimpses of her in him that really give him depth. Death has been a major feature of his life. The death of his father and brother at ten derailed his happy family life; here his mother’s demise sets him on a different path shortly after he thought his course was set. I hate to admit it, but I cried a couple times writing this book--Jordan is so desperate for someone to give him that missing fatherly/motherly affection that it overwhelmed even the storyteller. As with the two prior books, the journey is not only a metaphor for the change and progress he makes, but a main character, protagonist and antagonist.

  1. Can you describe your journey to publication: the torment and elation, the times none of it made any sense, the moments when it all came together?

I sent my letters to agents, many of which rejected me within a minute or two. The rest took a day or two, or never responded at all. I never even got asked to send a sample. The rejection started to get to me, dissolving the joy I found in writing. The thought that I might write something beautiful, yet never see it in print because I lacked salesmanship almost killed my writing career at book one. I looked into vanity presses, but quickly discovered that most of them were predatory in nature. Amazon and CreateSpace are really what brought it together for me. I won an Honorable Mention in the Utah Division of Arts and Museums Original Writing Competition in 2012. A few people actually read my book and told me what they thought, good and bad. Spurred by that I’ve been writing since. My greatest joy is being able to autograph a copy of my book.

  1. You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

I love stories and epic conversations. I relocated to the South partially because of how much I enjoy it. I would love to speak with Ernest Hemingway. I realize that’s an uninspired answer, but FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS changed my life. His masculine and detailed yet unflowery style caught and kept my undivided attention for a decade. I still reread FWtBT and A FAREWELL TO ARMS on an annual basis. I think Mark Twain might also be an interesting fellow to meet.

  1. Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.

My Trilogy, of which THE LONG ROAD HOME is the final book, consists of THE END OF THE ROAD and ALL ROADS SOUTH. Each book follows a main character on some sort of trip as they deal with some tragedy or hardship. They say write what you know, and as someone who took a year off work to travel the four corners of the U.S. in a motorhome with my family in tow, the constant barrage of chaos that comes with endurance travel is a great mechanism of change. I wrote a satirical self-help book called SelfHelpLess (Under pseudonym Dr. Richard Cranium) which might just be the best thing I ever wrote. I also wrote a series of erotic short stories (Under pseudonym Anne Carter) called EROS’ GAME. I have about a half dozen books in the 1/4 to 1/3 complete stages.

***

reverse warriorRoan Poulter is a native of Utah, recently relocated to remodel and refurbish a Bed and Breakfast near Cape Canaveral Florida. He spent a year travelling the US in a motorhome with his wife, two teenagers and a criminally overweight Chihuahua. Heaven holds nothing for him beyond ten thousand miles of unmapped roads, a motorcycle and a spare can of gas.

***

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The Curious Case of Hybrid Authors and the Need for Speed

This is an interesting post by Ania Ahlborn. I'm not a fast writer; it takes time for me to develop characters and detail, to climb out of plot holes and then, when I'm done, to ponder some of the decisions I've made. It can take years, certainly months. I feel better about that now.

BirdEater

WRITERS REACH: B.A. SPANGLER WITH 'KILLING KATIE'

WRITERS REACH: B.A. SPANGLER WITH 'KILLING KATIE'

On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today Brian Spangler joins us to celebrate the launch of his novel, KILLING KATIEa Kindle Scout winner published by Kindle Press. Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00008]

I was having an affair with murder.

There. I admit it.

And there was no program for me—no rehab or clinic. I couldn’t deny my obsession, my fantasy. Murder. 

It was only a matter of time before someone died. And I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop after just one.

So, when the temptations became too intense, I risked everything for one little taste. Immediately, my life was filled with twists and turns and thrills—the seductive arms of a dark society embracing my desires, relentlessly drawing me in until I lost sight of who I was.

But my husband is a police detective, and some of my nightly adventures have showed up on his desk. My newfound world, my fantasies--they've bled into my family's lives. No matter what I try, I’m tangled up in a deep web of lies, telling one after another to throw off the suspicions of the man I love and save who we are.

I know people live for the idea that their fantasies can come true. The question I began to ask was should they?

  1. What were the most challenging aspects of writing this book, and what came easily?

KILLING KATIE is one of the first books I’ve written where I purposely went into the project with an objective. I wanted the readers to love the main character’s story even when they disagreed with her. That was the easy part—knowing what I wanted to accomplish. The difficulty, the challenge, was everything else.

The main character in KILLING KATIE is by far the most complex I’ve ever written. Amy Sholes is a character you know you should not like. And yet, you can't help but want to like her. Better yet, she just might be someone you can relate to.

What made her character difficult was in accomplishing my goal while staying true to the main character. As writers, the story has to stay true to the development of the characters we create. I tend to fall out of movies and books when the main character does something that seems unrealistic and doesn’t fit who they are. Readers can see through over-reaching and general character mistakes.

  1. Tell us about your main characters and what drives them.

I grew up watching television shows like Dallas where we had bigger-than-life personalities such as JR—a character you just loved to hate. Fast forward to the days of Netflix and the series sensation, BREAKING BAD, and we have another great main character in Walter White.

JR and Walter are main characters that bring unique conflicts to great stories. I wanted the same to drive my main character, Amy Sholes. On the surface, Amy is a loving housewife and mother who would do anything for her family. But Amy also has a dark side, a secret: murder. She is fascinated by it.

When desire meets opportunity, Amy makes a decision she believes will help her family while allowing her to act on her fantasies. But sometimes, desire and opportunity are a ruse and the results catastrophic.

What drives Amy through the KILLING KATIE story is her struggle to be a mother and a wife, but to also become the person she knows herself to be. As a writer, I’m drawn to see what Amy is going to do next.

  1. Can you describe your journey to publication: the torment and elation, the times none of it made any sense, the moments when it all came together?

Growing up, I would never have considered writing a book—let alone publishing one. In fact, there was a time when I wouldn’t have read a book. But here I am, writing a thousand words a day (give or take), and steadily growing a list of stories I can’t wait to write.

When I was young, I struggled with dyslexia. It was bad enough for me to have been held back in school—unable to read and write while everyone around me did so with ease. But after a few years of re-training my brain, I began to catch up, and in the process, I discovered fiction. It wasn’t long after reading some classic stories (ROBINSON CRUSOE was a favorite) that I began to pen stories of my own. They were silly, indiscriminate, tiny disasters, but seeing the images in my head and then putting the scenes to paper did something that I found rewarding.

I wrote a lot of short stories, most of them now lost: discarded papers and notebooks, old floppy disks, a crashed hard-drive. Five years ago, my family and I were on vacation and I’d been juggling a story idea in my head. By the last day of the vacation, I’d written a few pages: an opening to what later became SUPERMAN'S CAPE. It was raw and ugly, but there were some good pieces. I finished writing the book and then quickly rewrote it, having read a few books on writing fiction and learned the basic structures of dialog. I had no idea what to do with SUPERMAN'S CAPE and had never heard of indie publishing. I learned about agents and sending queries. And then I learned about rejections.

After I’d started on my second book, AN ORDER OF COFFEE AND TEARS, I read Stephen King’s Memoirs. It was in his memoirs, I learned the basic rules. Read every day. Write every day. And so that is what I do. Indie publishing became a natural direction for me. I published SUPERMAN'S CAPE and soon after, I published AN ORDER OF COFFEE AND TEARS.

Every book is a struggle when it comes to marketing and promoting, but that is part of the work. Would I rather spend my day reading and writing? Absolutely. But I also like to talk to readers. I frequent Goodreads and Facebook and respond to every email I receive.

Although the path to publishing seems to change every day, writing is still writing. My writing career came into being around the same time Amazon started drastically changing everything. Is that a good thing? Who knows, but I know I need to remain aware of the publishing landscape and the changes taking place. Kindle Scout is a terrific example of recent changes. Modeled after baseball leagues and their farm teams, Amazon has created their scouting program, enlisting the help of readers to eliminate the traditional slush pile.

  1. You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

John Steinbeck. I’m not even sure what I’d ask—probably fall over first.

Reading OF MICE AND MEN was the first time I ever felt something, that special something that spoke to me and said, "You can do that too." Steinbeck's work woke up the writer in me and encouraged me to want to write.

  1. Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.

So many stories, so little time to write them all.

My previously published books cross multiple genres. I tend to write absent of any particular genre—meaning, I write the story I’m thinking about more than any other. In today’s publishing world, this is not a favorable path for publishing and in growing a reader base. When I began to pick up readers with my book, AN ORDER OF COFFEE AND TEARS (Contemporary Women’s Fiction), I should have quickly jumped into writing another book in the same genre. Instead, I ran head first into a new Sci-Fi series and did not resurface until the series was completed.

I like to write the stories in my head, but jumping genres meant that I was starting all over. Did I learn my lesson? Of course not, I’m a writer.

After the Sci-Fi series, I could have gone back to writing Women’s fiction—another Coffee and Tears perhaps, but a new series popped into my head. This time, I'm committed to writing a crime thriller series called: AN AFFAIR WITH MURDER. Book 1, KILLING KATIE, was picked up by Amazon’s Scout program and published by Kindle Press.

Writing crime thrillers is awesome. Let me say that again: AWESOME! It’s a total blast. I’m nearly finished with Book 2, A PAINFUL TRUTH, and have outlined book 3. The crime thriller genre is fun fun.

After I’m finished with my latest series, I’ve got some new story ideas that have begun to take root and grow. One is a new dystopian thriller, and the other is a new crime thriller. I’m leaning toward the latter, but may pen a novella for the first, releasing serial installments between novels. We’ll see.

***

Who am I?

I'm a resident of Virginia, living with my wife and children, along with four cats (sometimes more), a parrot, lizard and the funniest chinchilla on the east coast.

Although I live in Virginia, my heart is still in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I grew up. And I hope that one day, I'll be able to call Philadelphia home again.

BASpanglerPhotoGrowing up, I liked to read short stories, but struggled with the words. You see, I had a secret: a sad little secret. Ashamed and embarrassed, I was the little kid in the back row of the schoolroom, quietly moving my lips along with the class while everyone read aloud. I couldn't read. I couldn't write. I hoped nobody would notice, but they did. They always did.

By the time I'd reached the fourth grade, my secret wasn't a secret anymore. The teachers knew something was wrong. Dyslexia. Maybe that is why I liked science fiction so much? All those crazy looking glyphs on the screen, glowing, flashing.
The fix? Back to the third grade for me, and then special classes three days a week. It worked. Once I started reading, I never stopped. Stephen King, Piers Anthony, Dean Koontz, and even the Judy Blume books my sisters discarded.

I'm still one of the slowest readers I know, but school was never a problem again. I finally graduated the third grade, and then kept on going until I finished my Masters. 

These days, I work as an engineer and spend my nights writing, editing and thinking up the next great story.

***

Buy KILLING KATIE and find out more about Brian on:

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Writers Reach: Teresa Roman with 'Back To Us'

Writers Reach: Teresa Roman with 'Back To Us'

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On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today Teresa Roman joins us to celebrate the launch of her novel, BACK TO USa Kindle Scout winner published by Kindle Press. BackToUs

Abandoned by her parents at fourteen, Jessica knows what it means to struggle. She's vowed that getting her degree is the only thing she has time for, until a summer internship brings Justin into her life.

But Justin has scars of his own. A tour of duty in Afghanistan has left him with wounds. A medical discharge from the Navy leaves Justin struggling to make sense of his new reality. Then he meets Jessica; but can the two of them leave their pain in the past and make a future together?

  1. What were the most challenging aspects of writing this book, and what came easily?

The most challenging aspect of writing this book was trying to convey the characters' emotions.

My characters were riddled with self-doubt and insecurity based on their life experiences. That was an important piece of who they were and I tried my best to pass that along to the readers.

What came easily was the setting. I grew up in New York. I rode those same subways trains and visited the places described in my book. I used to live in an apartment very much like the one my main character Jessica did.

  1. Tell us about your main characters and what drives them.

Jessica Maravic was abandoned by her parents at the age of 14 and lived in a group home until she went to college. She sees a college degree as her way out of the life she’s living. The promise of a better future is what drives her, but self-doubt holds her back.

In contrast, Justin Lambert comes from a privileged family. Instead of following in his family’s footsteps and going to college, he decides to enlist in the Navy. An injury during a tour of duty in Afghanistan ends his military career and forces him to return home to a life he never wanted for himself.

  1. Can you describe your journey to publication: the torment and elation, the times none of it made any sense, the moments when it all came together?

BACK TO US was the second book I wrote. The idea came to me partly because my husband was in the Navy and partly because I imagined the character of Jessica and felt compelled to tell her story. I finished it much quicker than my first book, and when I was done I wasn’t sure what route I wanted to take when it came to publication. When I learned of the Kindle Scout program I decided to submit BACK TO US for consideration. I was cautiously optimistic about my book’s chances, but when it got selected I was beyond thrilled. I’m a debut author so I feel very honored that my book was chosen.

  1. You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

I would say Josephine Baker. I’ve always been fascinated by her. She was so brave and talented and I admire the good she did for this world as well as her talent.

  1. Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.

My next book is tentatively titled IN DARKNESS and is a YA urban fantasy. It tells the story of a girl named Lilli who finds out that there is a whole other world that she never imagined, a world where magic is real. There’s a reason that knowledge was kept from her. In that world lives a witch her mother has spent her entire life trying to protect her from, but her mother’s spells aren’t enough to keep Lilli from hurtling towards her destiny.

IMG_0845***

Teresa Roman is a lover of books, which is what inspired her to write. She currently resides in Sacramento, CA with her husband, three adorable children and a doxiepoo named Parker her son convinced them to adopt. When she isn't at her day job or running around with her kids, you can find her in front of the computer writing or with her head buried in another book.

 

 

 

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Writers Reach: M.R. Pritchard with 'Let Her Go'

Writers Reach: M.R. Pritchard with 'Let Her Go'

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On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today M.R. Pritchard joins us to celebrate the launch of her novel, LET HER GOa Kindle Scout winner published by Kindle Press. Let Her Go

A second chance at love is a fight to the very end.

Guys like Alex Sullivan don’t come around every day, but when they do, they aren’t looking for girls like Morgan. She is the unexpected one, the unplanned daughter of parents who don’t want her; she has always stood in the shadow of her beautiful-but-dead twin sister. So when Morgan lands a marriage proposal from the handsome businessman, she pounces on the opportunity.

While Morgan is basking in the joy of feeling wanted for once, Alex’s untimely death sends her life into a downward spiral, and she’s left picking up the pieces while the tabloids, pesky neighbors, and an eight-point buck haunt her.

The only thing keeping Morgan grounded is her new found love of running. And then there’s her newly acquired business partner, stoic MMA fighter Nick “The Strangler” Stacks. Morgan and Nick have never been able to get along, but Alex’s tragic death forces them to interact when he leaves the two as owners of his successful gym.

After years of tepid interactions, Morgan and Nick finally find that they have more in common than they previously thought, and it’s enough to make one of them want to tap out on their disastrous relationship for good.

  1. What were the most challenging aspects of writing this book, and what came easily?
LET HER GO was a book that I had wanted to write for a long long time. For close to a year I thought about the main character, Meg, and all I was going to put her through. When I started writing I already had about two pages of notes/scenes written and I just had to put it all together. As a result, LET HER GO was one of the fastest books I've ever written. I think I had it done in about eight weeks, and then I spent a few more weeks perfecting it and analyzing beta-reader feedback. The most challenging part was not going full-blown sci-fi/fantasy with the book since that's what I primarily write. I did sneak a little bit in though, in the form of reincarnation that hints on magical realism. Since Meg deals with loss in this book, she spends some time evaluating her faith and the beliefs of the people in her life.

  1. Tell us about your main characters and what drives them.

In LET HER GO, Meg is a bit of a sad soul. She has a severe case of low self-esteem that stems from standing in the shadows of her twin sister and handsome husband. After losing both, Meg does a little soul searching; she's driven to figure out who she is and gains her confidence along the way. Nick is driven by a mistake he made as a teenager. There was a moment when he should have intervened but didn't. Now he's a fighter who sees each match as a moment to atone for his wrongs.

  1. Can you describe your journey to publication: the torment and elation, the times none of it made any sense, the moments when it all came together?

Oh man, there's so much torment, so little elation, and still, I feel like nothing makes sense at all, ever.

I started out as a self-published author and there was a lot of learning and still more as algorithms and reader preferences change. I've always written what I loved and have had a hard time finding a home for it. I've queried agents with each book and have amassed an inbox full of rejection letters with each one. Afterwards I continued on to self-pub each one and found readers who love my books. But everything came together when I won the Kindle Scout campaign. Life as a writer is filled with self-doubt and confidence struggles, but after getting the congratulations email from Kindle Scout I finally felt like I was doing something right. And then, after winning the Kindle Scout campaign, I was introduced to this amazing group of authors. After navigating the publication landscape alone for so long, it was really great to connect with real people who care. Aspiring authors should look for fellow writers that they can really connect with because there is a lot of negativity, bullying, and meanness out there on the internet. I finally feel like I've found a group of authors who are supportive and as driven as me, and I almost think that's better than winning the Scout campaign.

  1. You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?

Gosh, that's deep. You know what, I can't even think of one. I have this belief that people in the spotlight never truly reveal who they really are. There's always a front; you're never going to really know that person. I love the arts and I love the sciences, but with something as intimate as death I'd want to see real people who impacted my life and showed me love. I would want to see someone who altered my life on a deep personal level. If my husband passes before I do, I'd want to see him escort me through the tunnel. We married young and we've gone through so much together. He's always been supportive of me and my dreams. If I go first, I think I'd like to have my great-grandmother there. She died when I was a kid but the memories I have of her are good ones; she was this little old lady who lived alone in the Adirondacks. She was always caring and attentive and told great stories about the Great Depression.

  1. Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.
I try to keep my upcoming books secret but I will say that I'm working on a novella that's set in another author's Kindle World. I'm also working on a post-apocalyptic novel and I have two novels similar to LET HER GO planned.

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M.R. Pritchard is a lifelong inhabitant of upstate NY. She lives near the shores of Lake Ontario where she spends her days reading and writing and watching the snow fall. When she is not writing she is a NICU Nurse, wife, mother, gardener, aquarist, book hoarder and science geek. She holds degrees in Biochemistry and Nursing. M.R. Pritchard likes books, coffee, and rum. 

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