Welcome to my blog spot- grab a cup of coffee and a good book ;-)
Five spooky stars for Haunted Attraction
What’s more perfect than a haunted house romance this time of year?
And this book delivers.
Set in two time periods, I loved the multiple POVs and flashbacks. This was a slow-burn with a jaded female MC, Jess, who is the recent victim of a breakup. Jess has never had the chance to really find herself until she’s free from the bonds of a suffocating relationship.
Matthew is an easy-going, closet writer with an uncomplicated life. He’s a lovable contractor who has just the right amount of patience and passion.
Tensions mount as Jess and Matthew begin renovating a house to turn it into a B&B and realize they aren’t “alone” when haunting footsteps are heard one night. They must solve the mystery of “Randy” while fighting their undeniable attraction to one another.
Ghosts, drama, love, endurance, and mystery abound in this page-turner with just the right amount of spooks and spunk.
This book was a great read. I highly recommend it!
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance and Gods of the Gridiron series'
Shanna loves a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart... and has spooky ghosts like this one did ;-)
I recently discovered Amanda’s Tide series as I was browsing Instagram. It was actually the third book in the series, King of The Tides, that caught my eye and had me going, “hmmm, that looks interesting!”
After reading the blurb and realizing it was about Atlantis, I was sold. (Something about that mystic underwater city has always fascinated me.) When I reached out to Amanda, I knew I wanted the whole series in paperback, so I was grateful to get them beforehand and get to take them on vacation with me. Who doesn’t love an action-packed and romantic beach read? Moontide was just that: the perfect beach read. So I wanted to ask Amanda what inspired it!
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Hi Amanda, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Amanda: Hi, Shanna! Well, I’m a Colorado native. My husband and I both are, and we live in a rural area of the state with our five kids, a Dauchsy / Bassett hound and a mini pot-belly pig. When I’m not running around with the kiddos, I write paranormal and fantasy romance.
I started writing at a very young age and even proclaimed that I was going to be an author when I grew up when I was around six. I would sit at my mom’s old typewriter and plunk out stories on it and use this really cool stuff called “whiteout”... it was great. Lol. Around age ten or so, I started to get seriously obsessed with ballet and so I left my writing interests by the wayside to hard core train as a classical dancer which I acquired some now-long-since-forgotten accolades at and even went on to teach the discipline and choreograph up until I had a family of my own. Around baby number four, I said enough was enough and stopped dancing only to realize that one of the things I missed about that artform was the storytelling it involved and so I took up writing as a hobby. Around 2017, I finally made good on my six-year-old self’s declaration and self published my first book.
Me: That’s awesome. I always wanted to be a ballerina myself. Now, what inspired you to write The Tides series?
Amanda: I’ve always loved fantasy and fantasy romance, in particular, as well as having a huge, nerdy interest in mythology and folklore. I’m super intrigued by the different writings and theories surrounding Atlantis and thought it would be a fun idea to build a story world around.
Me: Yes! I’m a big fan of mythology and folklore myself. So, how many books will be in the series?
Amanda: Oh, boy, well, there are ten original sons of Poseidon that ruled the kingdom of Atlantis back in the day and my Lost Kings of Atlantis from the Tides series are descendants of theirs so there could potentially be ten books. It’s a wacky, ever changing story world though so you never know what will happen. The exact number of books is up to the gods. *wink, wink.
Me: Haha! Love it!!! Which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?
Amanda: This feels like picking a favorite child! I don’t know. I get very invested in the characters as I’m writing them, but if I had to pick a favorite main character, it would probably be Marley. Her book is such a roller coaster ride and she deals with a lot emotionally. I really liked writing her journey. Whole series-wise, overall, I have to say, I also really love Krav. He’s shown up in every Tides book so far and it’s always fun to write his scenes.
Me: Yes, he’s awesome and I’m excited to read Marley’s book too. Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters?
Amanda: Absolutely. There are little bits and pieces of personalities I’ve come across throughout my life in all of my characters. Cindy’s character (from Moontide) has a lot in common with my sister, who’s one of my best buds in the whole world.
Me: LOL! Awww. That’s great. I do the same. Put pieces of myself and my family into my characters. It’s what us writers do I guess LOL! What are you working on now?
Amanda: Right now, I am hard at work on the fourth book in the Tides of Atlantis series, titled Storm Tide. It’s set in Iceland and I think it will be a lot of fun. I’m also getting the rough outline started for a fifth book in the series and am editing a little novella for my mailing list that will fit into the Tides world as well. Beyond that, I’m hoping to find the time to write another fairy tale for my Enchanted Lands collection, which will all be medieval, fantasy romances.
Me: So cool! Exciting stuff coming our way… Now, tell us a little about your writing process?
Amanda: I spend a lot of time, initially, just thinking about my story world when I have a new idea and am getting a feel for the characters. Sometimes, I’ll write down short scenes as they come to me.Then I go through and map out a rough outline which I go through later and add more detail to. I basically always have a notebook with me so that I can jot down any little thought as it comes to me. This is how I get myself started anyway. There’s always a whole lot of research involved as well, but these are the steps I take leading up to the actual writing.
Me: Oh yes, research, research, research... and notebooks are MUST-HAVES, LOL!. What drew you to the fantasy romance genre?
Ever since I was little, I’ve been drawn to fantasy. I just have always been carried away by stories with magic and impossible happenings in them.
Me: Agreed!! Fantasy is my go-to! So, who are your favorite authors/books?
Amanda: Probably my first fantasy favorite was the story of King Arthur and his Knights. I have a bunch of favorite authors though: L.M. Montgomery, The Brontes, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Tolkien from among the classics. I also used to love reading Morgan Llewellyn and Orson Scott Card. My favorite fantasy romance authors from today include people like Karen Moning, Sherrilynn Kenyon, Grace Draven and C.L. Wilson. If we’re talking the romance genre in general though, oh my gosh, there are too many to count!
Me: Sounds like I got more books going into my TBR pile... LOL. Now, what do you personally love about writing?
Amanda: I love the idea of creating a world that readers can escape into and be invested in. There’s something delicious about being sucked into a story and feeling like I’m a part of everything going on and like I actually know the characters personally. I hope to someday be able to create a story world that does the same kind of thing for my readers.
Me: Ummm, you have, lady. I’m totally engrossed in these swoony, muscled kings!!! Last question: What are you looking forward to in 2020?
Amanda: Honestly, we’re taking it one day at a time this year, as I’m sure so many people are. Having a young family right now, as I do, I think the idea that we need to not take any one moment for granted has really hit home. I feel truly blessed each day for all the small things. As for my writing, I’m really looking forward to bringing more of the Tides series journey together and am excited for whatever new adventure that leads me into.
Me: Aww, yes, agreed. 2020 has been a whirlwind of a year. Well, wishing you safety and time to write, my friend. Thanks for joining me on my blog today.
Amanda V. Shane is a Colorado native and fully admits to being a library dork growing up. To this day, she loves the smell of book paper on an almost fetish level (okay, maybe not, but that gives you a peek into the dark and twisted mind of this author). One of her first book romances came at the age of nine when, in a far back aisle, she found the story of King Arthur and was entranced by the blood purple canvas cover with gold leafing (she likes shiny things.)
Since then, she's been hooked on stories with magic, mythical beings, daring heroes and, of course, desperate romance. She started writing at a very young age, but somewhere along the line, she left the creation of tales on the page for those on the stage and enjoyed a short career as a professional ballet dancer and an even longer one as a dance instructor and youth company director / choreographer. Nowadays, she is happy to be bringing fantasy and romance together in written form again and has had a wonderful time writing about some of the more obscure characters from the world's most renowned story ballets such as, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. You can read these timeless romances in her Enchanted Lands novels.
She writes paranormal and fantasy romance from her home where she lives with her family and a Bassett hound that she routinely has to fight for the "soft" end of the couch to set up with her laptop. She likes chocolate, wine, coffee and kids, in no particular order ;)
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series and Gods of the Gridiron series
Where swoony hunks are awaiting to take your breath away.
Five fiery stars for The Night She Fell
Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned…or that of a woman when you mess with her family.
Coralena del Prado is an easy-going, light-hearted young woman with a growing skill, not only to cook but to wield spells in her cooking, as her mother does. These “gifted” women own a bustling restaurant in Greenwich using their magic to keep customers coming back for more with their decadently delicious treats. Cori’s gift is slow to come though making her doubt her abilities and she longs for a life that doesn’t revolve around keeping NYC’s elite happy. (I mean, we can all relate, right?)
Enter Hayden Colburn, who is simply irresistible. He’s the handsome and rich son of said elite and the brother to Bronte, one of Cori’s fellow classmates who comes in all the time to beguile—and bedevil—Cori with her lavish lifestyle. Cori’s mother and father used to work for the Colburns, so they are no strangers to her. Incidentally, Cori gets invited to Bronte’s birthday party and when Bronte fails to deliver, it’s Hayden who saves the day.
Not only does he get Cori and her friend Monica into one of the hottest clubs in NYC, Inferno (such a great name for a club) he’s apt to take Cori under his wing, show her around, and have her all wrapped up in his charms by night’s end.
But Cori is unknowingly about to get herself involved in a deep, dark family secret that will literally open Pandora’s box and change her life, and heart, forever.
This book has it all: romance, intrigue, drama, mystery, horror, paranormal, action, and suspense. Think Romeo and Juliet meets Carrie meets The Dark Phoenix that’s what you’ll find on these pages. An intricately woven tale of incredible power and the price that comes with it.
Jennifer Soucy isn't one to disappoint. Her writing is descriptive, fulfilling, and engaging. Be sure you follow her because this lady is up and coming in the world of horror!!
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance and Gods of the Gridiron series'
Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart... and wows her like this one did!
5 "beaching" stars for Moontide
What’s not to love about a gorgeous sea captain, enchanting Atlantis, and an unsuspecting female who’s searching for her friend when she gets caught up in mystical forces?
I loved that this book started off with a flashback to Atlantis. I was immediately hooked! From there it bounced to many POVs, which as a fantasy reader I absolutely LOVE. (Give me ALL the POVs!!) There was so much going on and I kept turning the pages to find out what would happen next.
It was funny, exciting, and had me swooning!
Sweet Cindy Pierce, who’s always been plagued with vivid dreams, meets dashing Captain Ronan Garring in Miami while searching for her missing friend, Kay, at a hot Miami nightclub. The look of this handsome stranger is enticing, otherworldly even, despite that he doesn’t act or talk like a modern-day man; something strange is going on here. Little does Cindy know that Ronan has until sunrise to get back to the Tides portal and his island, or he’ll die. But she soon sees there’s something unbelievable happening that she can neither explain nor understand. She will be literally swept away by romance, action… and a prophecy as old as time itself.
This was such a great beach read with tropical locales, conspiracy, romance, fantasy, and action. It had a Pirates of the Caribbean meets Men In Black meets Ghost Busters meets Clash of the Titans vibe. It literally had it all: sex, laughs, adventure, and enchantment.
I loved this book and would highly recommend to any and all lovers of fantasy romance!
(I'm so glad I got the entire series in paperback :-D I'll be digging into book 2 very soon!)
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance and God of the Gridiron series'
Shanna loves a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart...and ones with hunky sea captains to swoon over while she's at the beach ;-)
Five Scandalous Stars for Saddler's Scandal
OMG! Just when I think I’ve read my favorite Nicole Rodrigues novel, I realize I haven’t…
This one was my favorite of the series because well, one word-- Andre.
He’s a professional by day in his glasses, but once he pulls those babies off, he turns into a bad boy. A bad boy who knows how to talk dirty. And sweet, whatever the occasion calls for.
This is a forbidden romance/enemies to lovers and everyone knows those are my fave. Add in sweet little Dakota Saddler and you’ve got one heck of a chemistry here. Who knew that opposite would attract so perfectly?
Two teachers, thrust together by fate, time after time…cohabitation, teaching and soccer… There’s bound to be sparks flying, right?
This book was hilarious, sexy, steamy, fun, sweet and endearing. I loved the dynamics of both these characters, how they responded to one another, how they learned from each other and adapted to one another. The connection was off the charts--seamless--so much so that this is one of my favorite couples of both Nicole’s series.
If you love a book that leaves you laughing and swoony then don’t miss the finale to the Saddler series. It’s a bittersweet goodbye but sooo worth the wild ride!
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series and PERSONAL FOUL
Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart...and makes her swoon like Nicole Rodrigues' book boyfriends do ;-)
Five Fun Stars for Building a Home
J.D. Park brings you home once again…
Kira Lang is your typical girl next door, kind, giving, hard-working... and totally has her life together. That is, until Ben Rawlings is hired to work at her company.
Ah, Ben. Every girl wants a hunky man who simply wants to prove himself to her and her child. Ben is everything Kira didn’t plan and then some. Sweet, swoony, and an absolute stud.
But Kira has more than her own heart to consider, she also has her child Cline’s too. Can she move past her hesitations and embrace the love Ben offers or will she be too late when Ben’s past comes to claim what she hasn’t yet? You’ll just have to read it and find out.
This book was funny, sweet and romantic. Ben was the perfect book boyfriend and made me swoon hard for how he treated Cline.
If you love a clean romance with an HEA that makes you laugh, then check this one out.
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series and PERSONAL FOUL
Shanna loves a good book that chills, thrills, and warms her heart...and makes her feel at home like this one did :-D
Five frightening stars for Demon In Me
This was my first book by Jennifer Soucy and it won’t be my last.
Demon In Me was rife with haunting realism and nostalgia. It was beautifully written, sad, eerie, and funny...and spoke to my inner “demons.”
Layla is a former heroin addict who’s making it big in a rock band as a drummer in Las Vegas. Life isn’t all glitz and glamour, but it’s better than it's been and she has her lead and BFF, a Tokyo god himself, Raij to thank for most of it.
That is, until she gets the call all daughters dread: her mom is fading fast and wants her home. Only Layla hasn’t been home in ten long years and, with vivid flashbacks of a past she’d rather wipe off the face of the earth, the reader soon learns why. Layla’s tragic and sordid childhood is a whirlwind of heartache, tragedy and loss. Blackpool is where her life almost ended, and she’s avoided the town and her family for more reasons than what she originally thought. Layla is holding a dark secret - something she’s pushed to the recesses of her mind - within that is about to come to the surface once more. Can she go back and face what happened to her father? Will the truth about his death be more than she can handle? Can she come to terms with her family and let go of her demons?
You’ll just have to read it and find out because I’m not giving away any spoilers. Let me just say that you’re gonna love Layla, Cole, Raij, the munchkins and Ma - to name a few.
Layla was very relatable and I felt her emotions through Jen’s words. Cole was the truest knight in shining armor I’ve ever met, talk about the patience of Job… Ma and the munchkins were uber lovable and Raij was larger than life in more ways than one. I loved the symbolism of darkness within, the unbreakable bond between sisters, and the power to be stronger than your “demons”.
Jen has an eloquence with words and I found myself loving how she described characters, situations and places. If you’re looking for a horror book that does more than scare you, check this one out. You won’t be disappointed!
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series and PERSONAL FOUL
Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart...and one that goes bump in the night, like this one did! ;-)
I met the amazing writer and avid reader, Jennifer Soucy on Twitter last year when our buddy Marc formed a group that would later be known as my Twitt fam. These wonderfully talented people have been my sounding board, my ventilation shaft, and my shoulder to cry on. They’ve shared my accomplishments, trials, and tribulations. Jen has read and fallen in love with many of my characters over the last year and a half. She’s one of my most treasured betas and she truly has a heart of gold. She’s been a great friend and valued fellow writer.
She’s an author of several works including horror, so naturally when she was set to publish a book, I wanted to read it! I recently finished an ARC of her debut novel, Demon in Me. This baby premieres this Saturday, March 21st by the way and I was awed by her creative mind and eloquent words. I knew I had to ask her what inspired this work and her characters.
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Hi Jennifer, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Jen: Hey, Shanna! I’m 41 now--a Connecticut Yankee living in Georgia. My parents are down here too, as well as my younger twin sisters. I’ve worked most of my life in the service industry (25yrs now), but I absolutely love bartending the most. I’ve been with my boyfriend for nearly twenty years and, while we don’t have kids, we adore our baby kitty Guinness (a 20lb siamese, so hardly a baby but you feel me!).
I always loved reading. My mom still talks about how I was 3 or 4, sitting alone in my room with my Golden Books and reading out loud. She was never sure if I had memorized the words from her reading them to me, or if I just caught on by myself, but it impressed her.
Ever since then, both her and my grandmother showered me with books and frequent trips to the library. I always excelled at writing--at least, in school--winning awards at a young age. When I was 12, my parents bought me one of those old-fashioned typewriters--you know, big metal beasts that require ribbon and ink. I was on it every day, writing what I was sure would be the next in a line of fantastic spooky stories (a very odd mashup of Stephen King and V.C. Andrews which I mostly wiped from my mind, but I was a kid)!
Life got in the way of my dreams, as it does for so many. I stopped writing, focusing on work and survival. When I was nearing 40, I had an epiphany while bartending: What in the hell am I doing with my life? And boom, that was it. I cut my hours and got to work, and I haven’t looked back since.
Me: Awesome! I love both those authors! Now, what inspired you to write Demon In Me?
Jen: Demon In Me was actually the third book I wrote after beginning my mid-life writing binge (3 novels from June to December 2018). It took me about 2 months to knock out the first draft because it flooded out. My family has suffered from addiction, something I toyed with in my youth as well. Also, I spent several years as a teenager in and out of hospitals for suicide attempts (one of which was nearly successful).
I wanted to create a character with similar struggles; although, Layla had it worse than me in almost every instance. I remember sitting in front of my computer, daydreaming as the story shaped up. I thought something like, “Everybody has inner demons. But they’re not real...are they?” That was all it took. And it ended up being my hook!
As I stated, I’m from Connecticut. While it wasn’t always bad growing up there, I fled as quick as I could--more because of me than the area or people. I fled to Georgia to start a new life, but I also lived for a time in Las Vegas with the same goal--a fresh start, trying something new. Las Vegas is definitely a city who welcomes and nurtures refugees, and I absolutely loved my time there. I wanted to convey that love in a story, too, even if we only see it briefly in the story.
Me: Isn’t it amazing how our works can be so personal. Even when we don’t intend to, we write facets of ourselves into our characters? You lived in Vegas? How cool! So, which character in this book is your favorite? Why?
Jen: Layla is my favorite, simply because we bonded through our similar experiences. Her struggles, insecurities, and doubts resonated with me so much. Plus, as a writer, first-person is a hugely intimate PoV. Which is why I can’t write a villain in 1st person--it would scare the crap out of me, for real.
If I had a second-favorite character, it would absolutely be Raij. I honestly think he birthed himself--one minute, he just popped on the page and I was like “Who are you?” He’s the best friend we all dream of and some of us are lucky enough to have. He’s funny, irreverent, gets into wild situations, but he’s got a heart of pure gold (you should see some of my deleted scenes, or the ones that never made it to the page!).
Me: LOL! It’s funny how that happens, isn’t it? Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters? Layla? Cole? Raij?
Jen: I’ve seen other authors attempt to tackle this question, so I’ll say my version of it. None of my characters was inspired by any one person in particular. However, for the people who are closest to me, they’ll definitely see familiar slivers here and there.
As far as Jake and Alice, the adorable nephew and niece, I was absolutely inspired by my 30+ nieces and nephews. I never had children, but I love these kids as if they were my own. I definitely channeled those emotions when building Layla’s relationship with the kids--how even when they’re not your own, nieces and nephews can absolutely melt your heart with their open and generous love.
Me: Ha ha, yes! Agreed! What are you working on now?
Jen: That’s a complicated question, lol. I have a contract with RhetAskew publishing for the first book I wrote in the summer of 2018. It’s a YA/NA dark fantasy/horror (due early 2021) about a teen from Boston who gets the shock of her life close to her 18th birthday. Someone breaks into her room, a girl who looks like a younger version of her dead mother...and, supernatural hijinks and Celtic folklore abound!
I have several queries out for 2 other finished novels. I also wrote nearly 10 short stories I’m shopping for various anthologies.
As for “in-progress” projects, I have a sequel nearly done for the YA/NA book above. And, I’m working on the next draft for a modern re-telling of the Persephone and Hades myth but with witches and satanists. Also, there’s a new novel shaping up but I can’t talk about it yet til I uncover more so...to be continued!
Me: How fun! I can’t wait to read more of your work!! So, tell us a little about your writing process?
Jen: For the most part, I prefer writing as soon as I wake up. I find the words and images flow best when I’m still half-asleep. However, when the story really kicks in, I’ve been known to go on binges for up to 10k words from sunrise to sunset. You know how it is, when it’s coming you have to get it down right then and there!
Another thing I do when starting any project is creating a playlist. Music is a huge part of my life, something I love as much as books. I find that having the songs play in the background distracts my conscious mind so my subconscious can run wild. Each playlist is specifically crafted to reflect certain characters or specific scenes/themes. It drives my boyfriend crazy cause he’ll look one over and be like, “Why do you have this song but not that one. How could you leave such a classic off?” But, I remind him every time, even if I love a song/artist they don’t make the playlist unless they fit the criteria!
As you know, I included an excerpt of the playlist for Demon In Me at the back of the book. With Layla as a musician, it just seemed appropriate. Plus, I’ve recently seen some authors doing it so I was inspired to add it as well.
Me: Same here, I get the best ideas when I’m still sleepy too! You got to go with the flow, literally LOL! And I agree, music is life!! Now, horror is one of my favorite genres? What drew you to it?
Jen: I blame fairy tales. And not the cute Disney versions, I’m talking the dark and bloody classics whispered over hearths for hundreds of years before being eventually written down for posterity. I do love Disney, of course, and those were some of my first and favorite movies. But, my grandmother encouraged my love of fairy tales by reading the old versions to me every time I slept over (which was a lot). Mutilation, abuse, cannibalism, trauma--you name it, she read it. And my little ears soaked it all up.
As I grew older, my reading diversified, of course. But I always gravitated towards fantastic tales, anything different from the world I knew--the darker, the better.
My first pure horror read was from Stephen King, naturally. My best friend at the time (we were 9) started reading It. I saw the size of that book and opted for something less intimidating, choosing The Shining. I honestly think I got the better end of the deal (even though It is amazing). The story of the Torrances and The Overlook blew my mind, and nearly scared the life out of me. But, I understood Danny Torrance and really connected with him. To this day, it’s one of my favorite books ever. Without Mr. King, I never would’ve dived into a genre that has become one of the cornerstones of my life. I cannot emphasize enough how much of a horror nerd/fangirl I am...to my mother’s constant dismay, lol.
Me: LOL! My mom and dad were fans too. My favorite movie at the age of eight was Silver Bullet, so I get it. So, who are your favorite authors/books?
Jen: There are so many, it’s ridiculous! And I’m sure I’ll forget a few, so I’ll try to keep it simple.
Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Peter Straub, Richard Matheson, William Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jane Austen, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck, Anne Rice, Sylvia Plath, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Daphne Du Maurier, Laura Esquivel, Anne Rivers Siddons, Frank Herbert, Neil Gaiman...ok, I should totally stop.
As far as modern horror authors (who are rocking the genre, btw), I love Paul Tremblay, Grady Hendrix, Stephen Graham Jones, Victor LaValle, Adam Nevill, Ania Ahlborn, Gabino Iglesias, Kealan Patrick Burke, Gwendolyn Kiste, Chad Lutzke, Gemma Amor, Jonathan Janz, Scott Thomas, Zoje Stage, and so many more. This is really a Golden Age for horror!
Me: Wow that’s quite a list. I’ll have to check some of these out! Now, what do you personally love about writing?
For me, writing has been a natural extension of reading--an escape to a different world. Not always a better world, especially with my love of dark fiction. But, sometimes that helps--a catharsis that increases when the characters have way worse lives than you.
One of my favorite parts about writing is the “a-ha!” moment. I tend more towards pantsing (a silly term, I know), although I create general outlines to start myself off. I always know certain key scenes will happen, and most times I start with an ending in mind. The fun is taking the characters I built and seeing how they arrive at those destinations, because sometimes they take me on some crazy detours. It’s sort of spooky, until I remind myself that no matter how real my characters feel they’re still me! But for a second, it’s an amazing sensation...connecting myself with something Other.
Me: Ha ha, I understand completely! I’m a "pantser" myself and it's always fun to see where these characters will take us.
Final question: What are you looking forward to this year?
Jen: I’m so looking forward to finishing the editing rounds on my YA/NA book for RA. I cannot wait to share Evie Bonaventura with the world. She’s my first baby, and one I’ll be working on in sequels because I love her so much (even though, she’d probably smack me for the shit I put her through lol).
I have some travel goals, if I can fit them in with work. I’d really love to go outside of the country, as I’ve never been (another bonus of reading, the travel!). I also would like to go to at least one horror convention sometime this year and try my hand at face-to-face networking.
As for the rest, I hope to continue working on my stories so I can share more with the world. There’s plenty of weirdness still up in my brain, dying for a chance to shine.
Me: Nice, well I know I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for you! And as always, my friend, I wish you the best of luck in all your adventures!
Jennifer Soucy is a quintessential New England girl, born and raised in Connecticut. A wanderer by nature, she moved to the Atlanta area with her family when she was nineteen and delights in being called a “Damn Yankee”. She also lived nearly two years in Las Vegas, her home away from home. Back in Georgia now, she started writing again to fulfill her childhood dreams. This writer, assistant editor, and professional bartender is also a proud nerd who enjoys anything involving horror and fantasy. She hopes to continue publishing books that occasionally make people sleep with the light on.
Check out my website at jenniferlsoucy.com for updates, blogs, and more!
Demon in Me premiers Saturday, be sure to pre-order your copy now!
Shanna Swenson, author of Abundance and PERSONAL FOUL
I write what the characters in my head tell me to ;-)
I met the sweet and beautiful--inside AND out--Kali Brixton on Instagram last year and reached out to her to review my debut romance series, of which, she kindly indulged me and wrote some of the most amazing reviews on my books to date. You can find them HERE
I recently read her debut novel and if you’re a fan of broken, alpha heroes and second chance romances then you’ll need to grab your copy HERE
After reading this touching and endearing book, I knew I wanted to know more about Kali and what inspired her to write these lovable characters.
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Hi Kali, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
KB: Hey Shanna! Thank you so much for having me over for this interview 😉 I’m a KY living in a WV world 💖 I may live across the border, but my heart is tattooed with #bluegrassorbust on it. 😁 I am a high school freshman English teacher (and yes, I’m crazy). I’ve been married to my amazing husband for 11 years. I’m an avid romance reader and adore the crap outta HEAs!
In addition to being head HEA cheerleader, my body loves to be an overachiever at collecting ailments: breast cancer at 29, infertility, Hashimoto’s, depression, PCOS, and a few other weird things. Although these have enormously impacted my life, by sharing my story with others, it has also brought some of the most amazing people into my world that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Ever since I was a young girl, I loved to read and write. My love of reading waned in high school, but writing remained a favorite pastime into adulthood. I always geeked out a bit when we were presented with the opportunity to do some sort of creative writing project. It’s been a dream of mine to publish a book for years (and years and years), but going through breast cancer was a stark reminder that my time on Earth is limited and I needed to spend those moments doing the things I love.
Me: Aww, I understand medical illness all too well, my friend. Now, what inspired you to write To Have?
KB: The idea came to me. I know that's crazy, but it's the truth 😂. I had went on a reading bender and was thinking about how some stories fail to touch on real world issues. Then, I started thinking about a little boy whose only crime was being born to the wrong set of parents. A little boy who saw salvation in his kitchen window and eternal love in a little blonde-haired girl. I thought about the things that little boy had experienced, which were probably very similar to what some of my own students experience every day due to a horrible home life. And I thought: what if I gave them a name and a voice? What if I showed that hope is not lost and for every awful person in the world, there is a person who wants to love and accept them?
One of my favorite and most painful scenes to write dealt with the abuse Deacon suffered at his father's hands. I had had a time with D+C going silent on me for a while, so I asked Deacon, "If you won't give me your story, then give me your pain." He did, and it changed everything. 💖
Me: How many books will be in the Vows series?
KB: There will be 4 books in the original series. I am planning for 5ish for the spin-off and, if the inspiration continues to crank out, another 10 in the continuation series. 😯 That's a LOT of storyline to be written, but when I think I have it all figured out, another character comes out of the woodwork and the creative juices start flowing again. 😂
Me: Right! I know!! So, which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?
KB: Gosh… I legit don't know 😂. There are pieces of each character I adore so much (Charlotte's devotion to family, Nikki's creativity, Staci's sass, Grey's comic relief, Elsie's grandmotherly advice), it's hard to narrow it down. 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔. I'd probably have to go with Mason and Deacon because broken characters are my favorites. They awaken the maternal instinct within me to protect them from all the hurt.
Me: Yes, broken ones are the best. Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters? Deacon? Charlotte? Mason? Grey?
KB: Deacon came to me as-is, with his raven locks and haunted ice blue eyes. His imposing 6'4" figure hid the scared little boy within and I immediately fell in love with him. 💖. Charlotte was always a buxom blonde, but originally had curly, ash blonde hair. After spending some time with her and writing her dad's dream about his little girl, I made some changes to fit the much clearer picture of Charlotte.
Grey and Mason… Now, that's an interesting one 😁. When I was creating the twins, I knew they were very similar to Charlotte, with their blonde locks, grayish-green eyes and charming looks. I knew they'd have a bright smile (well, Grey at least because Mason mostly snarls 😂), and they'd have the typical all-American, boy-next-door good looks. What I didn't bank on was that my Grey and Mason already existed in a living, breathing Adonis: the handsome Anders Schnell. 🤗 Follow him on IG! http://instagram.com/andersschnell
Me: I’m gonna have to search him. Ha ha! So, what are you working on now?
KB: Currently, I have multiple irons in the fire. I am slated to release Books 2 & 3 of the Vows Series (Early Summer 2020 + Late Fall 2020). I am also collaborating with multiple authors on a variety of projects: a contemporary romance collection (tentatively June 2020), a novella for a dark romance series (tentatively Fall 2020), and a sweets-inspired rom-com collection (Late Fall/Early Winter 2020).
So much writing, so little time...but I couldn’t be happier to be a part of these worlds! ;)
Me: Super exciting ;-) Tell us a little about your writing process?
KB: I’m a total pantser who’s trying to morph into a plotser. :D In the past, I was satisfied to have a general idea of the story, then write scenes as I feel inspired. This makes for a much more chaotic WP, which is why I’m trying to corral the craziness in my brain and find my sweet spot of writing.
To Have was patchworked together because I wrote almost solely based on emotion and inspiration, but to create more works in a smaller time frame, I’ve learned that I have to have a better game plan.
I teach writing every day in class, but novel-writing is vastly different from anything I teach and have ever written in the past. There was a steep learning curve (mostly because I’m stubborn… LOL!); however, I had numerous authors who I now call friends to advise me to plan more, then write to save time and heartache.
All that being said, two of my favorite scenes were written solely from inspiration and emotion, so there’s a balance somewhere. Like many, I’m just trying to find mine ;)
Me: LOL! It’s a subjective process for sure! What drew you to the romance genre?
KB: Cinderella 😁 I watched it and The Wizard of Oz somewhere around a bajillion times growing up, so cheering for a couple’s or a character’s HEA became deeply ingrained into my DNA early on.
After I went through breast cancer, I suffered from severe depression. Writing had always been cathartic for me, so I decided to write about my BC journey in addition to a situation that my husband’s family went through when he was young. While taking notes and researching for both, I wondered how I would go about publishing those two books. I stumbled upon Wattpad when I found an article about self-publishing and was shocked at how many different stories were on there!
I found some amazing romances there and fell so in love with the characters and their struggles to rise above all the mess. One of my favorite Wattpad writers, Kimber Lee (@kanyeinyerruptedme), released two stories on Radish, so I followed her there to support her and the stories. This led me to Tess Oliver and Ella Sheridan, which then led me to Amazon to purchase their books because I was a woman obsessed. 😂 I came upon a book that was labeled as Kindle Unlimited and started researching what KU was. Needless to say, a few years later, I’m still a devoted KU reader and chose to put my book baby To Have there as well!
Me: So, who are your favorite authors/books?
KB: I have many authors I adore (the grand majority being indies), but to narrow it down: Ella Sheridan and Tess Oliver. These ladies have created several worlds and several book boyfriends that I’ll never forget and always want to revisit. Meghan March ranks high on my list as well, especially with her recent Legend trilogy. All these ladies are experts in romantic suspense and always keep me on the edge of my seat with their heart-stopping/wrenching/melting stories.
Me: I just got Ella Sheridan’s Assassin’s Mark and I’m eager to dig in. Now, what do you personally love about writing?
KB: I love the catharsis writing offers. It's amazing to take these wild ideas in my head and make them come alive. Pouring your heart onto page after page is a terrifying thing when you think about others reading your work, but what an amazing feeling it is to have others tell you they fell in love with the same characters who made you weep and scream and feel on so many levels.
Back when I went through BC, facing my mortality and the possibility that I might not be in the world anymore lit a fire under me to leave a piece of myself behind. Since I'm unable to have children myself, what better thing to leave of myself in the world than stories where people overcome the odds and find their own happy endings? 😉
Me: Amen to that! I always say, “I write for me. To be able to read what I want to.” Last question, Kali: What are you looking forward to in 2020?
KB: I'm looking most forward to connecting with more people in the romance community, doing a signing or two (hopefully 😁), releasing more book babies into the world, and working on exciting projects that are piling into 2021. 🤘 It's a full docket, but the excitement is intoxicating and addicting!
Me: Haha, yes it is! I am stoked to meet you face to face in Gatlinburg at the signing. I know you, me and Nic are gonna have a blast! I wish you all the best in your endeavors, my friend! Here’s to touching even more hearts in 2020!
Kali Brixton is the alter ego of a mild-mannered English teacher who adores the written word and a good ol'-fashioned love story (or song). Cinderella will forever be her bread, butter, and jelly, and glitter runs in her veins.
She believes in the healing power of hugs, humor, and HEAs. All things sparkly, cheesy, and Wizard of Oz-zy are guaranteed attention-grabbers.
Although rooted deep within the Appalachian Mountains, she has a heart full of wanderlust. Kali dreams of one day becoming a full-time author and traveling to faraway lands. Until then, she will continue to teach high school students the indisputable importance of Poe and puns.
Kali resides with her own Prince Charming/partner-in-crime/husband of more than a decade and the dreams that are now too big to stay within her wild imagination.
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Where swoony cowboys await to take your breath away...
Five suspenseful stars for Silenced by Sin
**Trigger warning: If you are sensitive to violence, murder, pain, torture, abuse or you’re squeamish then portions of this book may bother you. Reader discretion advised.**
Biker take me away!!!
Book 2 in Ashley’s Heaven’s Guardians MC series doesn’t disappoint. This is Patch aka Evander Cruz’s story and he’s just as lovable as he was when I was introduced to him in the first book. Patch is the doctor of the group, but don’t let that fool you. He’s just as much a vigilante as he is a savior. For as much as that Hippocratic oath calls to him, the destruction of evil is just as strong, and for wrongdoers, Hell hath no fury like that of the Heaven’s Guardians MC. They protect their own and those less fortunate too, which makes them all so endearing. Each member is as unique as their handles and Patch is no exception. I was eager to hear his story following book one--for these books are so distinctive and I knew I would love them immediately.
Alaska Watson is a spitfire and an easily lovable heroine. She’s a single mom who works hard and will do anything to keep her daughter safe. Grace is absolutely precious and her precociousness reminded me of my own sweet baby heroine, Dallas Kinsen. Alaska and Grace are the perfect duo for a lost soul like Patch, but he doesn’t want a replacement family and soon he’s trying hard to fit the burning desire to have them filling the void in his life.
But Alaska and Patch have grave secrets, secrets that may cost them everything.
I loved this sequel and loved how the story flowed seamlessly, as if I had never left Colorado or the gang. And these bikers are so swoony too. I loved catching up with Willow, Leo, and Priest. Bullet and Demon too. And Angel is as funny as ever. Alaska was as original as her namesake and despite the many times I was yelling at her to, “OMG!, Stop,” and “Just listen to Patch,” she didn’t and became a bad-a$$ for it. Love a woman who can handle her own ;-)
This book had suspense, drama, action, laughs, tears, gasps and awe. I was literally heartbroken for this couple but in the end it all came together in a beautiful culmination and I’m super excited for book 3, Bullet’s story as well as the last two. I can’t wait to see what Ashley has in store next!!!
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart...and has it racing like this biker MC romance did! :-D