Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Author Interview - Aminata Coote


Aminata Coote fell in love with books as a child. She writes stories that point to a God bigger than our failings and walks with us through our trials. She is also the author of several Bible studies and devotionals for women. Aminata lives in Montego Bay, Jamaica with her husband and son.

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what is it about?

His Perfect Choice is the final book in my Orange Valley series. It features Jessica Smith who was an antagonist in His Perfect Match which is book one in the series. Jessica has to learn to be honest about who she is and her needs so she can follow her path rather than chase after unrealistic expectations. The love interest, Andre Meyers, had been in love with Jessica for years so there's a hint of unrequited love. Other tropes you'll find in His Perfect Choice are learning to love, redemption, and found family.

Q2: How long does it take you to write a book? How long does each stage of the process usually take?

It varies. I've taken anywhere from two weeks to four months to complete a first draft (depending on the length of the book). My thing is challenges: I like to give myself a target to see how well I can meet it and how I feel during the process. For me, the drafting is easier (not that everything is perfect), but I can meet a manuscript completion date if I set my mind to it. The part I struggle with is revisions--that takes forever! Okay, realistically, it's probably about 2-3 months depending on how clean my first draft is.

Q3: What is your favourite type of character to write?

I like writing characters who either start with no or weak faith and then, as the story unfolds, they encounter God and He turns their life around.

Q4: Do you mine your own life for ideas, settings and/or characters?

They say you should "write what you know" which is one of the reasons Orange Valley is a town on an island. Now people may read it and wonder why my characters never go to the beach, but... I've lived on an island my whole life and we don't go to the beach as often as we'd like.

Q5: What is something you wish you had known earlier on in your writing career?

To keep writing and talking about my books. I took a year off to write full-time, wrote a couple of books, and sat back waiting for the books to sell... As you can imagine, that didn't happen, at least not the volume I was expecting. I finally realized that I had tons more books to write and I needed to get started. I also needed to find ways to talk about what I'm writing that invite my community to be a part of the process.

Q6: What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a writing rut? Is there any strategy you find works for you to help the words start flowing again? 

I don't get writing ruts as much as I once did--not since I started setting manuscript due dates for my books. Because I set that deadline, I have to find a way to write. If the words aren't flowing, then I go for a walk. This isn't always possible since I write at night, so I pace on my roof (that's not as dangerous as it sounds). My husband is usually willing to walk with me and I bounce ideas off him until I feel the words bubbling up. If that doesn't work, then I work on another project. Sometimes the brain just needs a break from the thing it's hyper-focused on.

Q7: What is your favourite writing resource?

The Reedsy Book Editor. My computer crashed in 2022 and I lost more words than I want to remember. With Reedsy, my manuscript is automatically saved. I can write on my phone and it syncs to the cloud. Plus, I have a built-in book formatter and e-book/paperback file generator.

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

My ideal reader is someone who enjoys reading about characters who remind them of themselves. People who struggle in their faith but are ultimately able to connect to their Heavenly Father and gain victory over their situation.

Q9: What authors or books inspire you the most?

So many authors and books inspire me that if I were to name that all it would take forever. I'm inspired by authors who are not afraid to write about hard things, whose stories have characters who actively exercise their faith and are not afraid to admit that they're Christians or that sometimes they struggle.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

She Reigns by Tarah-Lynn Saint-Elien, In This Moment by Gabrielle Meyer, The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman, Living Beyond Your Feelings by Joyce Meyer.

His Perfect Choice is book three in the Orange Valley series and releases on August 25, 2023

To find out more about Aminata Coote, check out her author website aaminatacoote.com, or her faith-based website at hebrews12endurance.com.


His Perfect Choice

Jessica Smith has always prided herself on being in control, but when her vision of being the perfect pastor's wife falls apart, she's forced to confront her vulnerability. As she battles weakness and fatigue, she attributes it to a stubborn cold until a diagnosis of Guillain-Barré Syndrome shakes her world. Determined to overcome the illness, she's thrown into a challenging journey with her physical therapist, Andre Meyers. Andre has been in love with Jessica for years but watched her chase after someone who didn't know she existed. When he’s assigned as her therapist, he sees this as a chance to show her how much she means to him. As they work together, they must confront their past and discover that God can use brokenness to create a beautiful ending. Will they take a chance on each other and find their happily-ever-after? Find out in this heartwarming tale of hope, faith, and second chances


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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

The Shadow of the King is here!

 

The first of an ongoing enovella series has been released, entirely free for my newsletter subscribers.

From the blurb:

The royal Andiril clan of the kingdom of Baeral are a strong and proud family with dark power thrumming through their veins. They are defenders of the high seas, defeaters of would-be conquerors, not to mention makers of great wine. But when tragedy strikes, she who lurks in the shadows must do what needs to be done to ensure the family line does not cease to exist. For the Andiril family is the only thing standing between the witches and utter destruction at the hands of a nation who fears them.

The Shadow of the King is a fast paced, adult fantasy novella with lots of twists and turns that sets the scene for the action-packed Ethereal Bridges novella series.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Author Interview - Colleen Smith


Colleen Smith has always wanted to be an author, publishing her debut novel in 2023 is a dream come true. She is a multi-genre writer and doesn’t like to be put into a box – just try and get her to answer what her favorite anything is.

When she isn’t writing she’s trying to figure out life and stay sane while doing it – so far, most days she’s succeeding.

Genre: I’m a multi-genre author, but my debut is a coming-of-age contemporary novella.

Q&A

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what is it about?

The Summer with Annagale is about a young man who is going through some difficult times. In dealing with that, he’s pushing people away and shutting down. Then he meets someone during summer! It’s about holding onto hope, the power of friendship and seeing the world in a different way.

Q2: How long does it take you to write a book? How long does each stage of the process usually take?

That all depends on the season of life I’m in.

I love drafting and can usually write the first draft of a book quickly. Editing takes much longer.
Writing is an ongoing process for me. While I have always written, I’m still new to this craft and I’m still learning what works for me.

It doesn’t seem to matter how much I may plot before writing; things always change once I get into the head of my characters. I’m also only doing this part time; finding moments throughout my week to write – that definitely extends the length of how long things take me.

The Summer with Annagale was the most fleshed out from the get-go, besides a few additions and tweaks, what is being published is exactly how the story came to me in those early morning hours. But from first draft to published book it took about two years of stolen time to finish.

Q3: What is your favourite type of character to write?

Whatever kind of character my book needs! I love seeing the various kinds of strengths characters can have, but also seeing their vulnerability. I love exploring how that may present itself in different types of characters.

Q4: Do you mine your own life for ideas, settings and/or characters? If so, please give an example from your current book release where you have done this.

I definitely think that when I do my stories are stronger! That became very clear with The Summer with Annagale. I myself was going through a tough time, I had lost hope and was struggling. The Summer with Annagale draws from a lot of those feelings and emotions. It was also therapeutic. Writing about Aidan and Annagale helped me process what I was experiencing.

Q5: What is something you wish you had known earlier on in your writing career?

So many things! I wish I had studied the craft more, but also trusted my instincts more. There’s a lot of advice for writers out there and while there is power in learning as much as we can, we also need to understand what works for us and what we want in our own career.

Q6: What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a writing rut? Is there any strategy you find works for you to help the words start flowing again? 

I have a few things. Usually when that happens, I’ve been in my head too much or I’ve let expectations overwhelm me. Stepping away and free-form journaling is one of the best practices I have. Letting all my thoughts and feelings out on a page helps to clear my mind and help me refocus.  

Also, talking it out with someone. They aren’t in the thick of the story or issue and have a whole new perspective. I can’t count the times I’ve talked to my sister or critique partner and they’ve easily fixed an issue I was struggling with.

And sometimes I need time away to fill my creative well. Reading books, watching movies, doing a puzzle, or I even like glue-booking! That’s where I am right now. The last week or so I haven’t written anything, but my book is in the back of my mind, my ideas percolating – and I’ve figured out some plot issues that, had I forced myself to write, I wouldn’t have come to.

Q7: What is your favourite writing resource?

Books and stories! My goal is to read more craft books this year. But also, fiction books and watching movies are a great resource. We’re all telling a story and the more I consume the more I can see what I’m drawn to as a reader and breakdown what and why I like specific things.  

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

While it is a YA, it’s for anyone who has ever gone through a hard time. Anyone who has felt angry, hurt, broken, hopeless.

Q9: What authors or books inspire you the most?

As Danielle from Ever After said “I could no sooner choose a favorite star in the heavens.” Ever since I was young I have loved reading. As much as I’m a multi-genre writer, I’m a multi-genre reader. Each book I have read has inspired me!

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I just finished the Inheritance Games series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I’m almost done with On Wings of Ash and Dust by Brittany Wang and I’ve just started The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards and Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.

To find out more about Colleen Smith check out her linktr.ee or give her a follow on Instagram @colleensmithwrites. The Summer With Annagale is now available. From the blurb:

Can a summer change a life? Can a moment last forever?

Aidan’s life is falling apart – everything he thought he knew has been shattered. Now he’s forced to spend the summer at his mom’s aunt’s house in a small seaside town.

Angry and hurt, he plans to avoid everyone and everything. But when a local girl passes him multiple times with large baskets of yellow flowers, he can’t stop his curiosity. The decision to follow her might not only change his summer but his life as well.

Is there more than meets the eye to a Caesar salad, a yellow flower, or a seashell? Can hope and friendship be found in a seemingly broken and confused world? The Summer with Annagale is a reminder that there is magic in everyday life, and even in dark times hope can still exist.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Author Interview - Meagan Johnson


I am a NA Author from Utah. Crowned in Shadows is my debut novel out May 22, 2023. I am married to my best friend and have the best little girl in the world. When I'm not writing I like drawing or painting, playing video games, reading, playing with my toddler, and gardening.

Genre: New Adult Fantasy Romance

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what is it about?

Crowned in Shadows is my debut Fantasy Romance novel that follows a princess desperate not to repeat the past and an old flame who makes it difficult for her to move on.

Q2: How long does it take you to write a book? How long does each stage of the process usually take?

I got the idea for Crowned in Shadows when I was 12 years old, and obviously the story has changed a lot since then. I worked on it on and off for many years, but really took it seriously in 2021 when I chose to work on the story for Nano. With earnest intent, it took me a little over a year to get to the publishing stage. Given that this is my first novel, I'm a little more gracious with myself, but I'd love to have a faster turn around time. Working on Crowned in Shadows, each step of my process took about 2-3 months each.

Q3: What is your favourite type of character to write?

In Crowned in Shadows, my favorite character to write was the cinnamon roll love interest. This character is different though because he "looks like he would unalive you and could unalive you" but is such a softie for the female lead and every time he's on the page *simp* I just love that kind of character.

Q4: Do you mine your own life for ideas, settings and/or characters? If so, please give an example from your current book release where you have done this.

I did! In Crowned in Shadows there was a scene I really struggled getting the emotions right for and I went the route of using a very specific incident where I had to tell someone I cared deeply about that I didn't love them like they loved me and it really helped get my main characters to where they needed to be.

Q5: What is something you wish you had known earlier on it your writing career?

That art is subjective. I am a natural born people pleaser and so when I started this journey I was so intent on making sure everyone loved every aspect of my story no matter what. After many, MANY, tears and breakdowns, I was reminded that I needed to write my book for me first. It was my story to tell after all. And that no matter how hard I worked- all the blood, sweat, and tears- there would be people out there who won't like my book, and that's okay. Not every book is for everyone, and honestly, that reminder was very freeing.

Q6: What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a writing rut? Is there any strategy you find works for you to help the words start flowing again? 

It sounds so cliché, but showers! Showers are nice and relaxing and I believe it tricks your brain into forgetting that you are in a rut. However, that doesn't always work. Sometimes I've found that skipping the scene I'm stuck on and forging ahead helps too. Truthfully it depends on the day and how badly I'm in a rut.

Q7: What is your favourite writing resource?

I really don't have a lot. When I started taking Crowned in Shadows seriously I had no resources. I had tried watching a variety of YouTube videos, read countless articles. And in the end, I found that there is no right way to write a novel. Everyone has their own thing, mine just happened to be flying by the seat of my pants. But also, a good playlist works wonders!

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

The age old question! This one has always been so hard for me, because in my mind if someone likes fantasy romance then I say, "You should read Crowned in Shadows." What it comes down to is this: If you’re a reader and you love fantasy, unique magic systems, scorned lovers, and a dash of romance, then Crowned in Shadows is right up your alley.

Q9: What authors or books inspire you the most?

Renee Dugan and her books (The Starcashers Saga) helped me a lot. Julia Scott is also another one. She was my first Instagram follower and she was so nice and friendly and I've never forgotten that and following her author Sister of the Stars journey reminds me that it’s okay to take breaks and not burn yourself out. She's a rockstar!

Q10: What are you currently reading?

So many things! I always have multiple books being read at a time (not always by choice- thank you library). Right now I am currently rereading The Selection, but am also reading Zodiac Academy, and I am about to start.

To find out more about Meagan Johnson check out her website or give her a follow on Instagram @meaganjohnson_author.

Crowned in Shadows is now available in paperback and ebook. From the blurb:

Princess Danielle has lost everything at the hands of the Shadow King and his army of death. The start of the war cost her her home, family, and the one person she trusted most. She retreats from public life to find solace in her grief but discovers a determination to never relive the past that nearly broke her. She enlists a group of legendary warriors to train her to fight back against the darkness of the world. After months of training she finds her life once again threatened by the Shadow King. Now, she is prepared to fight for what’s left of her home and family. Everett has continuously reaped the consequences of war since the Shadow King’s invasion. Weighed down by guilt from the choices he has been forced to make, he finds himself in self-imposed isolation. Hidden from the world, he attempts to put back together the remaining shards of his life. When he is called back to his former life at court, he is forced to wonder what the cost of war will be, and how it will affect those that he loves. Can Danielle and Everett confront their past and make the necessary decisions to save the future of their kingdom?

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Author Interview - Julia Blake


I’m JuliaBlake, a multi-genre author of fourteen books published to date and book fifteen on the cusp of being launched. I live in the East of England with one very friendly little black cat, a grumpy baby tortoise, and my teenage daughter when she’s home from university. I like the simple things – good food, red wine, and preferably sharing both with good friends.

Genre: So far? Contemporary drama, romantic suspense, YA fantasy, folklore fantasy, steampunk fairy-tale retelling, sci-fi, short stories, and poetry.

Q&A

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what is it about?

It’s called Mage Quest and it is Volume II of the Erinsmore Chronicles. It’s been four long years since Ruby was last in Erinsmore, but, when she returns it’s to find over twenty years have passed there. Her friends are older, and Ruby is an aunt to eighteen-year-old twins. Agreeing to go on a quest to find her niece’s mage, Ruby has no idea of the adventures that await them. With dragons, a cyclops, brigands, pirates, a beautiful demon intent on world domination, oh, and mermaids – this book is a wild exciting ride from beginning to end.

Q2: How long does it take you to write a book? How long does each stage of the process usually take?

I’m a very fast and accurate writer. Mage Quest is 100,000 words long and it took me 23 days to hammer it out. Luckily, I write an extremely clean first draft. I run each chapter through spellcheck and Grammarly as I go, then read through once it’s finished to check continuity. I listen to it on readback, and then it’s off to my proofreaders. I make any amendments they suggest. It goes to my beta readers, and then it’s good to be published.

Q3: What is your favourite type of character to write?

Definitely villains. They are so much more interesting than the good guys. I’m fascinated by what makes a character evil. Were they born that way or did circumstances in their life force them down that path? The villain in Mage Quest is a beautiful, sweet, and compelling demon called Lyllith, who has the power to force people to obey her and believe they are happy doing so. She feeds off their emotions and wants the whole world to love her.

Q4: Do you mine your own life for ideas, settings and/or characters? If so, please give an example from your current book release where you have done this.

In my fantasy novels, I don’t really draw from my personal life, but in my contemporary novels, I definitely do. The Perennials Trilogy is a prime example of this. In book one, Becoming Lili, I draw upon my experiences of being viciously bullied at school. In book two, Chaining Daisy, I relive the hell of being in an abusive marriage and how I escaped and survived. Book three, Rambling Rose, is the aftermath of a marriage break up, of a demoralising and unfair divorce, and of finding myself a single parent.

Q5: What is something you wish you had known earlier on in your writing career?

Write whenever you can – because housework and all the other stuff I procrastinate with will always be there. Don’t worry about what other writers are doing and don’t compare yourself to them. Write because you love it.

Q6: What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a writing rut? Is there any strategy you find works for you to help the words start flowing again? 

I don’t tend to get into writing ruts. Because of the way I write – a process I like to call binge writing – I can go months without writing a word, but it is all churning away in my mind, so, when I finally sit down and start to write it’s like the dam has burst and all these words come gushing out.

Q7: What is your favourite writing resource?

Grammarly is useful, I tend to run each chapter through it as I finish writing them. I also like the read-back facility on Word. It is such an incredibly useful editing tool. As for actual writing resources – I’m a simple writer and I don’t need fancy notepads, pens, stickers, notice boards, plotting apps, writing self-help books, playlists, or any of the stuff that other writers seem to need. No, when I sit down to write it’s just me, my laptop, and a glass of water.

Q8: You are such a prolific writer with a wide range of characters and settings, and you seem to dip in and out of your different book series. What strategies do you have to remember all of the separate details and character voices?

Ooh, I honestly don’t know. Maybe because all my characters are like family to me. They have such a clear and distinct presence within my mind that it’s easy to keep them all straight. I guess it’s a bit like when you have several TV shows on the go at once – you keep them all straight in your mind because they’re all so different.

Q9: What authors or books inspire you the most?

I love the epic fantasy novels by Robin Hobb – she taught me not to be afraid of long books and great sweeping book series. Of sowing the seeds of a plot arc that won’t be fulfilled until fifteen books later – to play the long game.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I am currently re-reading the books by Karen Miller. I love the world-building in her novels and the complexities of her characters. I will also be reading an indie book because I like to read and review a fellow indie author once a week.

To find out more about Julia Blake check out her Linktr.ee, or give her a follow on Instagram @juliablakeauthor. Mage Quest is now available in paperback and ebook. From the blurb:

Erinsmore ...

Ruby has longed to return for six lonely years. When her wish is granted, over twenty years have elapsed in that magical land. Ruby's family and friends are older. Her dragon, Iliana, is fully grown. And she's an aunt to teenage twins.

After his mother's death, Finley Smith is sent to live with his uncle Mick. Curious about the red-headed woman who visits Mick to talk about somewhere called Erinsmore, Finley follows Ruby into a strange new world. Invited to accompany the royal twins on a quest to find the Mage to the Heir Apparent, Ruby and Finley have no idea of the dangers ahead.

Joined on their journey by the twins' bodyguard, Merric, and the mysterious healer, Xem, this odd assortment of adventurers will face dangerous creatures, dark magic, and an evil foe intent on conquering Erinsmore.

Against overwhelming adversity, Ruby and her friends will discover that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.

Let the Quest Commence ...

Mage Quest is Volume Two of the wonderful Erinsmore Chronicles



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Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Author Interview - Elise Carlson


Elise Carlson (they/them) is an Aussie who graduated from playing imaginary games in their extensive backyard to writing epic YA Fantasy. In between educating energetic, enthusiastic minds as excited about life as they are —children— and adventures in Europe, North America, South-East Asia and locally, Elise enjoys writing adventures and epic conflicts for the young and young at heart.

Genre: YA Fantasy

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what is it about?

In Secrets of the Sorcery War, nonbinary Regent Ruarnon's parents are held prisoner by monster-breeding, sorcerer-king Nartzeer. Ruarnon sets sail, seeking allies and tools to enable them to recover their parents. Meanwhile, lost Aussie Linh and her friends believe their only means of getting home —magic gateways and sorcerers with the power and knowledge to activate said gateways— lie in Nartzeer's homeland. Their homeward quest will take them beyond the protection of Ruarnon's rescue expedition, so they seek skills and advantages to equip them to survive their journey home. Meanwhile, Nartzeer's sorcerers tell a different tale. His ships sail east, loaded with monsters, pursuing unknown means in lands Ruarnon and company believe uninhabited. Both sides pursue secrets from the Sorcery War, and Nartzeer's quest threatens to destroy Ruarnon's allies, and sink the ship on which Ruarnon and Linh sail. Secrets of the Sorcery War is book 2 in the Ruarnon Trilogy, an epic YA Fantasy that was released April 16, 2023.

Q2: How long does it take you to write a book? How long does each stage of the process usually take?

The advantage of having majored in archaeology and ancient history, with a minor in politics, is that any details I need to research for world-building purposes are often minor and merely icing on the cake. So research and world-building tend to be only a matter of weeks. Drafting takes a few months, each round of revisions or redrafting also taking a few months. I normally redraft each book around 4-5 times, and mostly spend my year teaching full time with a little travel on the side. So to get a book from idea to fully edited and ready to publish... my debut, Manipulator's War and my second book, Secrets of the Sorcery War took around 7 years each. War in Sorcery's Shadow will likely be the same. (I hope to release book 3 in 2024, as I tend to draft book 1, then book 2, then book 3, then begin edits on book 1, then book 2 first round edits etc, on constant rotation.)

Q3: What is your favourite type of character to write?

The antagonist. Heroes always try to do what's right and tend to have less clouded judgement. Clouded judgement is what I find fascinating in antagonists. I love writing antagonists every bit as altruistic as the hero, but not so fortunate in their personal circumstances. That describes both King Kyura (Manipulator's War's antagonist) and King Nartzeer (the whole Ruarnon Trilogy's antagonist). Neither Kyura nor Nartzeer is as predisposed to be optimistic in their hopes for their people as my hero, Regent Ruarnon, and both are less fortunate in their personal circumstances. Nartzer has experienced a good deal of trauma, and his trauma predisposes him to tragic errors of judgement. I don't want my readers to hate my antagonists. I want readers to cheer them on, wince when they stumble and weep when they fail. This too is why I enjoy writing antagonists.

Q4: Do you mine your own life for ideas, settings and/or characters? If so, please give an example from your current book release where you have done this.

As a nonbinary, asexual, aromantic person, I have to consciously disassociate from myself to write characters who relate to each other along binary gender lines, and who experience sexual and romantic attraction to anyone. Whenever I focus on other aspects of the story, I forget to do this. So it's no coincidence that Ruarnon is nonbinary (I identified their gender shortly after identifying my own), or that they and lost Aussie Linh in the Ruarnon Trilogy are asexual and aromantic. Similarly, in envisioning how four Aussie teens may respond to the shock of literally stepping from Australia to another world, and their struggle to get home, of course one of them was going to channel my energetic, always wanting to make people smile self. And my restlessness, and ADHD self, enter Troy. And as a neurodiverse person who spends just as much time internalising and rehearsing conversations in my head as I do speaking out loud, naturally Ruarnon, Linh and Aboriginal Aussie Michael were going to be deep thinkers. So a good deal of my characters' traits are portioned out from my own character. My plots on the other hand begin with seeds of my emotions. I often experience emotion as instrumental music well suited to that emotion playing in my head. Then I envision an (often) dramatic scene unfolding, matching the crescendo of that music and emotion. And when I weave these scenes together into a novel, my plot grows out of scenes born of my emotions. The abduction of Ruarnon's parents began this way. I was restless about something that wasn't right. Antsy. And in my mind, there was Ruarnon, standing on a balcony, their posture slackening in shock as they witnessed their mother bound and being whisked away in a carriage late at night.

Q5: What is something you wish you had known earlier on it your writing career?

Just because you didn't outline the main sequence of events and growth points of your characters before writing, or during writing the novel doesn't mean you can't do it after the first draft. Or the second, or the third. Outlining my novel after the fourth draft made editing Manipulator's War a long and messy process, and gave my lovely critical readers and editors more work than they would otherwise have had. Both they and I were very happy with the end result, but when a shorter, smoother, easier road is an option —I'll take that road in future!

Q6: What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a writing rut? Is there any strategy you find works for you to help the words start flowing again? 

I work in an emotionally demanding full-time job, which mostly relegates headspace and time for writing epic fantasy novels to Sunday afternoons, or failing that, to school holidays. With time and the capacity to hold fully fleshed-out characters and complex plots in my head at a premium, it's usually all systems go for the day or writing session until I run out of energy to continue. Its returning to a novel after life keeps me so busy I have to put it down for weeks or months that I find challenging. Re-reading the book so far helps me get back into the zone.

Q7: What is your favourite writing resource?

The Emotion Thesaurus. My feelings tend to express themselves as instrumental music, with precious few or no physical reactions or cues in my body because I suppressed negative feelings a great deal as a child, and often still do as an adult. My characters' emotions as they fight wars they don't wish to fight, get lost in the world of Umarinaris, encounter monsters, magic reviving out of myth etc, and respond physically to dramatic events unfolding around them comes naturally in dialogue, but not physical cues. So to show disappointment in the slumping of shoulders, reserved mirth in a twitch of the lips etc, I flag those bits when drafting, then return to the flags with my Emotion Thesaurus for ideas on filling in the emotion-showing blanks.

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

My ideal reader likes fast-paced stories with lots of action. They value an unpredictable plot over a smooth and gentle ride and complex plots they can really sink their teeth into. They appreciate LGBTQ+ representation (especially gender diversity), diverse characters in general, rich world-building and may also share my appreciation of ancient civilisations. They may enjoy romantic subplots, but don't depend on romantic themes to really sink their teeth into a story. They appreciate platonic friendships and found family. They share my passion for adventure, and my insatiable appetite for knowing what lies beyond the horizon, or in this case, on the next page.

Q9: What authors or books inspire you the most?

For me, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time was a master class of character development, writing multiple points of view effectively and incredibly rich world-building. Wheel of Time is enough inspiration for me as a fantasy writer of secondary worlds for the rest of my career. But Brandon Sanderson's characters in the Stormlight Archives also encouraged me to slow down, and ensure I breathed life fully into my own cast. Meanwhile, the basic narrative structures of enemies my characters hear about, grow wary of and struggle to piece together clues to understand said enemies motives, and the story structure of a story unfolding across a fantasy world, are very much inspired by Final Fantasy games, especially my favourites, XIII and X.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

The Rarkyn's Familiar, a YA Fantasy by Nikky Lee and The Raven and the Dove, a viking historical novel by K.M. Butler.

To find out more about Elise Carlson check out their Website, Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads pages. Give them a follow on Instagram @eliseswritings.

Secrets of the Sorcery War, Book 2 of the Ruarnon Trilogy is now available in ebook, with the paperback soon to follow. From the blurb:

Secrets lie across the seas.

Heir Ruarnon seeks allies to free their parents from unpredictable sorcerer-king Nartzeer. The reclusive Urai are not who they had in mind but can offer far more than Ruarnon anticipates. However, negotiations are interrupted when Nartzeer's murderous grey-hided damars are sighted sailing towards Tarlah.

The damars' human handlers are lost Vietnamese-Aussie Linh's chance to confirm that her gateway home —and sorcerers able (and hopefully willing) to operate it— lie in the dangerous West.

When Linh sets sail to confront the handlers, she learns that magic is very much still wielded on Umarinaris. That some of the Sorcery War's deadliest weapons survived. And that Nartzeer somehow knows all of this and has his own plans for those weapons.

But is Nartzeer the villain everyone in the East believes? What do his fleets truly seek in the Eastern Seas? And why have the damars become so formidable that they threaten to sink Ruarnon's ship and overrun all of Ruarnon's potential allies?


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Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Author Interview - Micheal Anderson


Micheal Anderson is the author of the STEM focused Zoey Lyndon chapterbook series. She enjoys writing middle grade fiction and understands the value of representation in children’s stories. Her mission is to normalize encouraging Black and Brown girls to pursue more math and science in order to help close the gender gap which exists in the STEM fields. She is a member of Jack and Jill Associates, The Links Inc., and Society of Children’s Book, Writers, and Illustrators. Micheal lives in St. Charles, Missouri with her husband Rodney. She’s an active volunteer in her community, enjoys listening to jazz music, and loves to travel abroad.

Genre: Children - Middle Grade Fiction

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what is it about?

Zoey Lyndon's Misadventures at Camp is a story about summer camp mishaps, friendships, and a bit of mystery. This is the third book in the STEM focused series ... this book encourages an interest in Engineering.

Q2: How long does it take you to write a book? How long does each stage of the process usually take?

I find the more I write, the less time my stories take to complete. The book I'm currently working on has taken about 6 months. The Misadventures at Camp took 7 months.

Q3: What is your favourite type of character to write?

I'm finding I enjoy writing messy characters. Interesting characters who happen to have some sass and attitude are exciting to me and I really enjoy writing them into my storylines. I also think they add depth to the story.

Q4: What is something you wish you had known earlier on it your writing career?

It would have been nice to know more about promoting my books. Marketing your books is its own beast and you have to learn what works best for you. Don't allow yourself to get bogged down by trying to do what's working for someone else ... you have to go at your own pace and do what works for you.

Q5: What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a writing rut? Is there any strategy you find works for you to help the words start flowing again? 

Initially, I'll try to press through it which sometimes will help. If pressing through doesn't help, then sometimes I have to simply walk away and come back to my story in a couple of days. I find when I give myself time away and come back to it with fresh eyes, it will often do the trick.

Q6: What is your favourite writing resource?

I'd have to say a combination of my own experiences or the experiences of others which I witnessed. Story ideas come to me at random moments and I'll jot them down on my phone or in a notebook I keep on my writing desk.

Q7: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

My ideal reader is a someone who can read independently and beyond picture books. Readers who are ready to tackle early chapter books and enjoy a good slice of life story. Also anyone interested fun stories with a touch of drama and mystery.

Q8: What authors or books inspire you the most?

In the middle grade genre, I'd say Renee Watson and L.B. Anne. I also like Isabel Wilkerson and Beverly Jenkins.

Q9: What are you currently reading?

I just finished reading The Davenports by Krystal Marquis and it was so good.

To find out more about Micheal Anderson check out her website www.everythingmicheal.com (where you can download a copy of the free teachers guide for Zoey Lyndon's Misadventures at Camp), or give her a follow on Instagram @everythingmicheal. From the blurb:

Zoey and her bestie, Tommi, are hitting the trails! They’re attending Camp Whispering Pines, a five-night Engineering Camp Experience. Things are off to a great start, and Zoey’s enjoying her camp friends and newfound freedom. But things take an unexpected turn when Zoey and her friends stumble upon an interesting discovery—the camp’s legendary One-Eyed Nelson is in fact a real person! And to make matters worse, Zoey makes a decision that places her and a cabin mate in danger, putting them both at risk of being dismissed from camp. Will Zoey and her friends uncover the truth about One-Eyed Nelson? What consequence will Zoey’s decision have?

Zoey Lyndon's Misadventures at Camp is now available in ebook, paperback and hardcover.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Author Interview - Maxx Victor

Maxx Victor is an Australian author, musician, and secondary school science teacher, who has achieved award winning success with his short stories. A dedicated husband and proud father of two, he is also highly involved in his local arts community; performing in bands and producing and directing amateur films.

Maxx’s author journey began at a very young age. As a child with dyslexia, reading and writing were a constant struggle. To help, his father implemented the nightly routine of reading Titin and Asterix comics and Biggles books to Maxx and his brother; installing a lifelong passion for reading. Maxx’s mother also encouraged him to write stories (some which he has kept to this day).

During his secondary school years, Maxx unearthed a love for music. He regularly wrote poetry and song lyrics, as well as scripts for plays and short films. Something again sparked the curiosity for writing stories when Maxx’s children were toddlers. He frequently created impromptu, twisted fairy-tale bedtime stories, with his family members as the main characters. Maxx now writes teen fiction and hopes that his writing can inspire young people to be defined by their passions and talents, not by the things that the world will tell them are impairments.

Genre: Paranormal Romance and SciFi

Q&A

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what is it about?

My latest book is the second in my Anchor and the Moon series, titled Hearts and Diamonds. In this book we continue following the romance and adventures of the two main protagonists, Cinder and Black, two young people with paranormal abilities. In searching for their missing friend Dom, they inadvertently draw the interest of an ancient evil. On returning to their sleepy beach-town home, they unwittingly unleash this evil on their friends and family. All the books in the Anchor and the Moon series will be modern-day, shifter romance twists on popular fairy tales. Hearts and Diamonds is inspired by Snow White and Cinder and Black was a reimagining of Cinderella. The books feature fun, action, romance, and mystery. There is a lot of flirting and inuendo, but the spice levels are still appropriate for young and old alike.

Q2: How long does it take you to write a book? How long does each stage of the process usually take?

My first book, Cinder and Black, was my hobby and passion for more than a decade as I learned how to write. I published Cinder and Black in 2021

For Hearts and Diamonds, I set myself the challenge to write and publish a book in 12 months. With a great deal of extra time on my hands during the pandemic, I managed to successfully write, edit, and publish Hearts and Diamonds in a year. As much as I like the idea of publishing a book each year, I am not going to put that time constraint on the third book. Working to that timeline made my writing feel too much like a job rather than a passion.

Q3: What is your favourite type of character to write?

I like to write witty and cheeky characters. My character Dom is made up of the worst parts of my friends (or best depending on your point of view). Dom isn’t afraid to say all those things we wish we could say. I also like that under all his bravado, there is a heart of gold.

Q4: Do you mine your own life for ideas, settings and/or characters? If so, please give an example from your current book release where you have done this.

The main setting for my books is a small beach town called Heathcote. While Heathcote is a fictional town, it is very much inspired by the towns I spent my summer holidays in as a child. The banter between best friends Black and Dom is definitely inspired by my interactions with my brother and my close group of friends. The most horrible insults are always saved for your best mates.

In my “day-job”, I am a high school teacher. I get the opportunity to meet all kinds of crazy, weird, wonderful young people. Dom’s younger sister Torry is one of these great teenagers. She is definitely on the autism spectrum, which makes her all the more lovable and engaging. Many of my readers tell me that Torry is their favourite character.

Q5: What is something you wish you had known earlier on it your writing career?

I wish I had known that I needed to have a marketing plan and that I had started that long before the book was published. As I assume many writers do, I just thought I could write a great book, give it a great cover, put it on Amazon and sell thousands of copies each month. I have had over 1000 copies of Cinder and Black downloaded in one month, but I had to work very hard to make that happen.

Q6: What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a writing rut? Is there any strategy you find works for you to help the words start flowing again? 

This happens to me often. I am very envious of people who can write 10,000 words a day, that is not me. Some days I struggle to write 10 words I am happy with.

The two things I find that work for me are re-setting my brain to be in a creative state, and removing myself from distractions. To re-set, I will take a walk through the bushland near my home (another influence for the town of Heathcote) and listen to music. I have created playlists that remind me of each of my characters. If I am trying to write a scene with Dom in it for example, I will listen to hard rock.

To remove myself from distractions I will take myself to a café. I’ll order a pot of tea and some cake and keep writing until the pot is empty. If I have time, I might then order lunch and keep working.

Q7: What is your favourite writing resource?

Punctuation has always been an issue for me, so I love ProWritingAid. I use ProWritingAid a few times in my writing process. At the end of the first draft, before I send my work to the editor and as a final check before publishing.

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

My books are for a YA audience, but I have had people from primary school age to retirees tell me that they have enjoyed them.

I would say my ideal audience is anyone that likes a bit fun, action and mystery mixed with a good shifter romance.

Q9: You are writing book 3 of a series. What challenges have you encountered when writing the later books of a series, compared with writing the first book?

As I said earlier, the first book was my hobby for more than 10 years. I was fine with this book taking years because it was just something fun to do in my spare time. Now that I have that first book out, I just want to write and publish more books. My biggest challenge is not having enough time to get all the stories I have floating around my head down on the page.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

Fairy Tale by Stephen King and The Hub by Liv Evans

To find out more about Maxx Victor check out his linktr.ee or give him a follow on Instagram @maxxvictorbooks. Hearts and Diamonds, Book 2 of the Anchor and the Moon series is out now and is available as ebook and paperback. From the blurb:


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