<![CDATA[shannaswenson.com - My Blog]]>Thu, 19 Sep 2019 23:08:30 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Review for Saddler's Secret by Nicole Rodrigues]]>Fri, 20 Sep 2019 01:36:37 GMThttp://shannaswenson.com/my-blog/review-for-saddlers-secret-by-nicole-rodrigues
5 Top Secret Stars for Saddler's Secret

OMG! Ladies (and Gents) prepare yourselves for your next amazing romance series by the swoon-queen Nicole Rodrigues. She’s got another set of dynamic characters guaranteed to have you falling in love.

Genevieve Langston has just lost her best friend… Now, she’s heading back home to Arizona on a flight with a three-year old child that isn’t hers by blood and she trying so very hard to keep it together.

Enter MJ who instantly becomes her knight in shining armor on the plane ride from NY. He calms Mackenzie so easily, comforts Gen, and recommends her for a job in Arizona not far from where she’s going to be living. It’s as if all the cards have aligned in just the right way. He’s the perfect guardian angel that Gen needs in her time of sorrow.

As the months pass, Genevieve flourishes at Saddle Enterprises alongside co-owner and sister, Rochelle Saddler, of the head honcho himself, Machlin Saddler, whom Gen originally admired from afar as an absolute genius entrepreneur. But upon meeting Mac, he’s nothing but an arrogant chauvinistic womanizer, one Gen wants nothing to do with following her embarrassing confrontation with him.

With new intern Adam starting at her company and feeling an instant connect, Gen must fight off Machlin’s persistent advances, all the while balancing the life of a new mom, befriending the comical Rochelle, trying to keep her mother from drowning in her own sorrow and maintain her sanity. But now she’s working side by side with Machlin and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid his intriguing gaze.

This book was so well-written; it’s hilarious, emotional, sexy, swoony and totally unexpected. You’ll love Gen’s feistiness--she reminds me of my female character Jordan a lot--and you can completely relate to her and her plight, and Mac is a man you’ll love to hate and grow to love for he’s not quite what he seems. The whole Saddler family was introduced in this book and each of them is uniquely lovable in their own way. Rochelle is a total hoot and I can’t wait to read her story.

Nicole leaves you feeling gooey, surprised, and shows you that things aren’t always what they appear to be in this wonderful start to a series that I’m super excited about. And you should be too.

Saddler has a big secret… Don’t you wanna know what it is? ;-)

Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series 

Shanna loves a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart...and ones with cocky assholes like Machlin Saddler ;-)


Book Reviews
The Writer's Block Indie Author Interviews

<![CDATA[The Writer's Block- Interview with fellow indie author, Ivy McAdams]]>Thu, 29 Aug 2019 21:01:21 GMThttp://shannaswenson.com/my-blog/the-writers-block-interview-with-fellow-indie-author-ivy-mcadams
I grew up watching westerns with my father. Man, did he love a good western...and a good book too, as far as that goes. Ivy posted her blurb for Kidnapped by an Outlaw on The Writing Gals Facebook page to get some feedback and as soon as I read over it, I knew I had I would be checking her series out when it was ready. Upon grabbing this adventurous historical romance novel just a week after its release, I simply had to ask her what inspired her to write it. 
Here’s what she had to say: 
Me:   Hi Ivy, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?

Hey Shanna! I’m currently roasting in the heat of Florida, so there’s that. I live about ten miles from the Gulf of Mexico, but I’m one of those weirdos that doesn’t give two craps about the beach. For shame. :) I love the mountains and wide-open spaces instead, which show up a good deal in my books.
I’m a wife and a mom, the most important parts of me other than being a writer. Of course, those parts make my writing take ten times longer! :) I’ve always wanted to write books though. My mother told me I wrote my first book in preschool when I was five. When she came to pick me up, I was finishing it and asked her how to spell “illustrator.” Strange kid, teehee.
I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with writing since, I suppose. Dreams crushed by reality, life gets in the way, have to get a real job. All that. But now my dreams are here to stay, and I’m quite happy about that.

Me:   LOL! Nice. What inspired you to write Kidnapped by an Outlaw?

I write in many different genres, but I’ve always loved to read romance, so I wanted to make the plunge into that area. There’s something rugged and very appealing about cowboys to me, so I knew I wanted to hit that first (pun intended, perhaps). I have a lot of stories plotted for this little made-up town in Wyoming, but the thought of opening things up with the bad boys sounded like a lot of fun, and so Kidnapped by an Outlaw led the way.

Me: Haha, I understand the obsession with cowboys (wink wink) Now, how many books will be in the series?

Total? I’m not sure yet. I have lots of plans! There are four books written right now, and I have immediate plans for three more. There are tentative plans for some past that, so as long as readers still enjoy it, I’ll keep visiting Emerald Falls.
Me:  That’s awesome. An open-ended series, I love that! Which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?

Oh, man. Which of my children are my favorite? That’s cruel. :) I have a lot of favorites, but if I had to pick I’d say Clay. He’s the hero from the first book, Kidnapped by an Outlaw. He is just yummy. He’s definitely an outlaw and a little broody, but he’s also very sweet and protective of the heroine. Plus, you should see him in my head...
Me:   Ah, yes, I loved Clay. He was the perfect albeit sweet alpha outlaw. So, did anyone in real life inspire your characters? 

I tend to pull character traits and backstories from all over, but I almost never model a character after someone I know on a large scale. I do grab photos of celebrities that make me swoon for my heroes though.

Me:  I understand. I do the same. Now, have you ever been to Wyoming? Are the places in your book real or made up?  

I have! I love it there. The air is fresh, the views are spectacular, and the weather is wonderful. So different from Florida. 
Some of the areas in my books, like the Absaroka mountain range and the city of Sheridan, are real and mentioned to give the general area of northern Wyoming, but the town of Emerald Falls is fictional (as are two other places only mentioned so far, St. Aspen and Hollard). 
Me:   I love that!! Wyoming and Montana are on my bucket list. So, what are you working on now?

I’m doing the last bits of editing on a prequel for the series. Then I’m going to pick up a new project for a bit, get my feet wet and see how I like it, before I continue on with Emerald Falls Book Four. I’m excited about both!
Me:   Very cool! Tell us a little about your writing process? 

I like to plot, and I like to determine what my cover is going to look like. That means I spend time figuring out who my characters are and what they want, as well as digging up photos that capture them for me. It’s helpful to look at a photo (or even a completed cover) to help me get back into a couple’s flow. I write fast and edit slowly, which is irksome but necessary.
Me:   Nice. My cover is actually the last thing I do, so that’s interesting that you do yours first. What drew you to the historical romance genre?

I like “simpler time” stories. Things are so fast paced these days. It stresses me out sometimes. It’s nice to go back to a time when living life was a little slower. It may have been more dangerous, but hey, tomato tomahto, right? I like the restrictions it puts on my characters too. There are more rules about relationships and marriage, and someone can’t just pick up a cell phone and make problems all better. Hello, conflict!

Me:   Haha, yes and I agree. Would have loved to live during a “simpler” yet tougher time. Who are your favorite authors/books?

This is always so hard for me… I’m so spread across the genres. Let’s try this: Tolkien, J. K. Rowling, Kelley Armstrong and her Otherworld series, Jean M. Auel, Nicholas Evans, Kristen Ashley, Nora Roberts, Ruby Dixon, Craig Johnson, Sara Gruen.
Me:   Nice :-) What do you personally love about writing?

It’s like reading a book, letting yourself get lost in another world. Living the life of another person in another land. You suddenly have skills or problems you never had before, and you have to figure out how to overcome them. Writing is grasping that excitement of reading and taking it to the next level. Not only do I get to explore new worlds and characters, but I get to make the decisions. Building a story from the inside out is a blast.
Me:  Yes. Writing is the best! What are you looking forward to before the end of 2019?

Having my cowboy books come out in paperback in September. I can’t wait to have them on my shelf! And to have a second series growing in a new fun romance category. I’m so looking forward to getting those books out. Onward and upward, 2019!
Me:  Thank you so much for “being here” tonight, Ivy. Best of luck to you and your Emerald Falls Series. I know lovers of historical romance and cowboys will enjoy your series for sure. I certainly did! 
Ivy McAdams wants to be a cowgirl when she grows up.

She may reside on the beaches of Florida, but her heart lives in the wide open spaces of Wyoming. She grew up dreaming of horses, playing cowboys and indians on her grandfather's farm, and curling up on the couch with him to watch westerns. Cowboys have been her heroes ever since.

Ivy loves the warm feelings and happily ever afters of a romance novel and has married her passions together to bring you historical western romance stories.

When not writing, she's taking care of two beautiful girls and teaching them to adore books as much as she did growing up. She can't wait until they're big enough to dress in cowboy hats and ride horses with her.

Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series

Shanna enjoys reading about cowboys, historical or otherwise ;-) and supports her fellow indies, like Ivy McAdams 


Book Reviews
The Writer's Block Indie Author Interviews

<![CDATA[The Writer's Block- Interview with fellow indie author, Nicole Scarano]]>Thu, 22 Aug 2019 22:15:49 GMThttp://shannaswenson.com/my-blog/the-writers-block-interview-with-fellow-indie-author-nicole-scarano
I had the pleasure of meeting the highly talented Nicole Scarano on Twitter. I'd added her book to my Goodreads TBR stack long before it was recommended to me by my fellow indie author, J.D. Park. As soon as I saw that it was about Greek mythology, I jumped on that baby like a desert dweller to a bucket of water. With each page I read, I knew I was in the midst of a fascinating tale, and Ms. Scarano didn't disappoint. After reading it, I knew I had to ask her what inspired her to write it. Here's what she had to say:  

Me:   Hi Nicole. Thanks so much for being my guest tonight. I’m honored to have you here on my blog. Tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?

    Hi! Thank you for having me here. I am an indie author of Pomegranate which is a fantasy twist on the Hades and Persephone myth. My day job is video editing. I am a hard core dog mom and love rescued pitbulls. I adopted China five years ago, and her adorably sweet personality made me fall so in love with the breed.
    In high school, my dream was to move to L.A. and become a script writer and film director. I loved film and television (still do) and wanted to be a part of the movie magic. I wrote my first full length script in high school and my second in college. By the time I graduated with a degree in film, I had discovered while I loved all aspects of filmmaking, my true love was storytelling. Every movie or show starts with story. Without writers, we have no entertainment.  

Me:   Amen to that. I wanted to do movie makeup as I kid and would still love to do anything involving film. So, I gotta ask- What inspired you to write Pomegranate? Where did you get the idea to turn Hades into a woman? 

    I started Pomegranate as a script in college, but the story dates even further back. It has been over ten years since I first came up with the idea to write a reinvention of the Greek myths centering on Hades as a woman, but to be honest I cannot remember where exactly the idea started or what made me think of it. I have always loved the gods of death, though. Anubis, Hel, Hades. I love anti-heroes, villains, and darkness. Hades was always a god hated for his rule of the Underworld, but according to legend he was the more straightforward god. Unlike Zeus he didn’t often meddle in human affairs, seduce multiple women, or lie. He tended to do what he said he would, and I loved the idea that this man history hated was probably one of the more honorable god. I wanted to write a script with Hades as the MC, but I love female protagonists, so I’m sure that had something to do with the gender change.

Me: That is so super cool! I love it!! And I, too, have always been fascinated by the Egyptian and Greek gods too. (If I ever have another dog, it’s gonna be a Doberman named Anubis) Now,  I bet you had to do a great deal of research on this novel before writing it. Did you plot everything out or did you just let the pages take you away and see where it was going to go?

    Yes and no. Of course I had to research each myth and know what the originals told and work them into the plot, but the great thing about re-inventing myths is that you only have to know the basics before you write your own version. When Pomegranate first started, it was right after college, and it began as a script. I did not outline and by the time Hades meets Keres (for those of you who have read this you know how soon into the book it is) I felt the idea was good, but it was going in a direction I did not like. I deleted everything, wrote an outline, and then turned it into a book. I outline everything to this day, even shorts.

Me:  Good point. How long did it take you to write this book? 

    About six years. I started it after college and wrote a lot at first, but I got a full-time job, adopted China, and eventually started dating someone seriously. I kept finding less and less time to work, and Pomegranate got abandoned. It always seemed like an impossible dream. Then two-and-a-half years ago, I went through a rough patch and felt I was floundering in life. I got a tattoo of a line of dialogue I wrote; partially because I love it and partially because in essence it is about facing the impossible and fighting anyway. I picked Pomegranate back up and have not stopped writing since.

Me:  I understand one hundred percent. Abundance was written well over fifteen years ago, and my own personal struggles helped give me the courage to publish. So, which character in your book is your favorite-- Besides Kerberos ;-) LOL? Why?

    Hades. I adore her. She is so much a part of me. Sometimes when I write I feel Nicole is gone and only Hades exists. She is so badass and loving. To me she is the best part of the book. I love Alkaios cause I mean, how can you not? I also love Keres and Charon. Keres is the friend we all want, and Charon is this surrogate father to Hades, guiding her through her new godhood.

Me:   I love it and love all those characters too. Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters? Hades? Alkaios? 

    Hades definitely is inspired by me. I did not write her as a biography or even do this on purpose, she just evolved that way. She is partially who I am, and who I want to be. Kerberos is inspired by China, my rescued pitbull. People dislike the breed or fear them, and these dogs are often mistreated. China came to me so shut down and anxious. She does not trust easily, but once you bond (and she is so sweet and bonds with almost everyone) she is loyal and full of love. Kerberos and Hades have a similar relationship. He is feared and hated and doesn’t trust easily, but with Hades, he is a big bed-hog puppy… with three heads, a leathery hide, and razor spikes

Me:   I love it. Dogs are the best. What are you working on now?

    The sequel to Pomegranate. It is so close to being done and should hit sometime later this year. I also have a YA Dystopian in the works as well as a romance novella.

Me:   Awesome! What drew you to the fantasy genre?

    I have a weird relationship with genres. I never set out to write any certain genre. I just come up with a story and then go ‘I guess this is what it is’. Most of my stuff stays in the fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian/apocalyptic genre, but I tend to genre blend. I love doing this. Pomegranate is Fantasy Historical Fiction, and my next series will be a sci-fi fantasy.

Me:   Ha ha, you sound like me, I never set out to write a specific genre either, but it is what it is, right? So, who are your favorite authors/books?

    Thunderhead (sequel to Scythe) by Neal Shusterman
    Red Rising by Pierce Brown
    Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
    The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

Me:   Hmm, I’ll have to check those out! What do you personally love about writing?

    The ability to live lives that are impossible, exciting, and beautiful. I love so much about writing and reading, but I think one of the most magical parts of a book is its ability to transport us into these adventures. Real life often is composed of endless days that consist of waking up, going to the office, coming home to errands, cleaning, cooking to go to bed and repeat. Writing and books open up worlds to you; adventures and romance. I love living through their stories. I also love a good plot. There is something about a plot so well crafted that I cannot guess the ending. An interesting soulful story sticks with you, and I want to give my version of those stories to the world.

Me:  Amen to that!! What are you looking forward to before year’s end?

       Pitchfork finally being published! This sequel is two years in the making. I have written shorts for contest and a novella all to hone my skill, and this new book really shows my growth as an author. I cannot wait.

Me: That makes two of us, Nicole. I am super excited to read book 2. You have a true talent. Thanks so much for ‘hanging out with me’, I wish you all the best :-)
Nicole Scarano is an avid Audible listener, book reader, and TV lover and therefore loves the art of storytelling.  She is the author of "Pomegranate" which follows Hades rise from mortal woman to god of the underworld.  By day she is a video editor and dog walker, and in her spare time she is working on two novels, a novella, and any other short story that comes to mind while her rescued pitbull, China, keeps her company.

Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series

Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart...and supporting her fellow indies, like Nicole Scarano ;-) 


Book Reviews
The Writer's Block Indie Author Interviews

<![CDATA[Review for Kidnapped by an Outlaw by Ivy McAdams]]>Mon, 12 Aug 2019 21:05:54 GMThttp://shannaswenson.com/my-blog/review-for-kidnapped-by-an-outlaw-by-ivy-mcadams
5 outstanding stars for Kidnapped by an Outlaw 

Ivy McAdams is a new to me author and this debut novel set the pace for a fun series that I look forward to getting lost in. 

As a fellow cowboy and adventure lover, the blurb to this book grabbed me right away. It’d been a hot minute since I’d read a historical romance novel and this one just sounded too fun to miss out on. 

Sadie Turner is riding the train on her way back home with her father, who has just stepped out for air, when the unthinkable happens. Train robbers are headed her way down the aisle. Two of them to be exact, and one with the bluest eyes she’s ever seen. (What girl ain’t a sucker for some sexy baby blues, am I right?) Next thing Sadie knows, Papa has a gun to his head and she’s being taken outside to jump from a moving train.

What follows is an adventure into the wild west as Sadie is taken into an outlaw gang’s camp as a prisoner, her soon to be marriage to a well-off rancher’s son now on the line, and a ransom note is being sent to her last remaining family back in Emerald Falls. Not to mention the budding love interest from one of the outlaws who’s taken her captive. After all, Clay Pearson is handsome, broad-shouldered, and gives Sadie butterflies each time he looks at her. 

These two were a match made in Heaven as Sadie soon realizes that life might just be more exciting on the other side of the train tracks than she ever imagined it could be.

I loved watching these two lovers find themselves while falling for one another- Sadie’s strength and perseverance and Clay’s kindness and protectiveness towards her. He was so swoony!

If you love a good historic outlaw love story with excitement then grab this one up. You won’t be disappointed. I’m excited to head back to Emerald Falls for book 2 in the series, Ginny’s story, Seduced by a Wrangler

Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series

Shanna loves a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart...and has her jumping off moving trains onto horse's backs with a good-looking outlaw too ;-) 


Book Reviews
The Writer's Block Indie Author Interviews

<![CDATA[Review for Reckless by Evelyn Montgomery]]>Thu, 08 Aug 2019 01:38:07 GMThttp://shannaswenson.com/my-blog/review-for-reckless-by-evelyn-montgomery
Edgy, spicy, sexy- that’s what Reckless is…

Take a trip to the Big Easy in this endearing, raw and steamiest of the three reads in the Kismet series. Evelyn Montgomery has taken the Kismet series to a new level in this one, folks. New Orleans is H-O-T.

This book follows Rex Roberts and Gwen Coppola whom we were introduced to in books 1 and 2. 

Gwen is the best friend of Evelyn Monroe (now Stewart) and the spunky redhead with a tragic past that haunts her and a secret that has kept her from true love for over a decade now. 

Rex Roberts is Noah Stewart’s best friend, and well, Eve’s too for that matter, and he’s surreptitiously loved Gwen since they were teenagers. But he too has a big secret he has yet to get to share with her, a secret that has eaten him up every day since Gwen’s twin sister’s death.  

These two lovers reconnect at the airport bar on their way home from Eve and Noah’s wedding. And we all know what bottled up feelings and a little booze will do (wink wink) and Rex and Gwen see this as kismet and choose not to let the opportunity pass them by.

However, Gwen wakes the next morning and decides not to be made a fool of… after all, how could she allow Rex to get back into her bed once again and so close to her heart? So, she bails before he has a chance to hurt her once more.  

Rex somehow has run Gwen off, she eludes him and has for so many years. Why is it that he can’t seem to get things right and tell her how he really feels? How do they keep screwing things up? 

Enter New Orleans, Gwen is there on business and coincidentally Rex (and his newest club) just happens to be her next client. Is this for real? 

Gwen and Rex collide in this spicy romance novel. Two stubborn souls who were meant to be together, souls that fate just keeps throwing itself at hoping they will finally work their shit out and get together, but these two are as hard-headed as the foundations of the French Quarter and it’s gonna take a lot to convince the other of their true intentions. 

I loved getting to reconnect with Noah and Eve and see how happy they were. I also loved the descriptions of New Orleans and the angst building in this book, and the ending was perfect. I laughed, I cried and I was yelling at Gwen and Rex a good bit, but after all love is complicated and these two have never come clean with each other…until now. The truth hurts and a tragic past is not always an easy pill to swallow. 

So, if you’re looking for a good summer read that’s as spicy as cajun crawfish étouffée then grab this one and eat it up! 

Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series

Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart...and one that takes her to the Big Easy like this one did. 


Book Reviews
The Writer's Block Indie Author Interviews

<![CDATA[The Writer's Block- Interview with fellow indie author, Michelle Hillstrom]]>Thu, 01 Aug 2019 21:51:01 GMThttp://shannaswenson.com/my-blog/the-writers-block-interview-with-fellow-indie-author-michelle-hillstrom
I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Michelle Hillstrom almost from the very beginning of joining Instagram. We were grouped together in a romance author huddle that a mutual friend of ours put together and I’m super glad we found one another. The support of the Instagram writing/reading community has been invaluable.

Once I saw that Michelle wrote paranormal romance, I was super excited to read her work--as I’m a big fan of all things that go bump in the night. I won five of her books as part of a giveaway on Instagram -- Yaaayyy me ;-) -- a few months ago and read the first one of her books in her Kiss series while I was chillin’ at the pool this summer.
Here’s my review of it Goodreads.
After reading this intriguing debut vampire novel of hers, I wanted to ask her what inspired her to write it. 
Here’s what she had to say: 
Me:   Hi Michelle, tell me a little bit about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Michelle: Hi, Shanna! Thank you for asking me to do this interview! So, a little about me… I was born and raised in Texas. I’m a Marine Corps Veteran, a Fur Mom, and a chronic illness warrior. I began writing as a child and wrote my first novel when I was twelve. It wasn’t very good, but that was when I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I grew up with a love for books thanks to my parents who would read to me every night before bed and would take me to the library frequently to check out books.
Me:   That’s awesome and thank you for your service :-) So, what inspired you to write The Kiss Series?
Michelle: The Kiss Series was inspired by a dream that I had one night where I saw a girl watching a guy walk down a set of stairs talking to his friends. (The scene in chapter one of The Faithful Kiss.)
The Kiss Series is actually a combination of that idea and an idea that I had of a vampire who was in love with a vampire slayer who was frequently reincarnated. I ended up cutting out the vampire slayer and setting it on a college campus instead of during the Renaissance.
Me: Now, how many books will be in the series?
Michelle: The series will be a total of six, maybe seven books, but at the moment I’ve stepped away from the series to publish two standalone books that were clamoring for me to write them and preventing me from focusing on the series.
Me:  Ha ha, right! Which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?
Michelle: In The Kiss Series, I think that Elizabeth is my favorite character. She is so tragic, dark, and has experienced so much trauma. It makes her a very interesting character. Writing her book was the most fun for me because I really got too dig deep into her motivations and her psyche.
Me:   She is quite a character just from what I read of her. I’m eager to see her history. 
Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters? 

Michelle: There are bits and pieces of different people in some of my characters, but none of the characters were based solely off of one person.
Me:   What are you working on now?

Michelle: Currently I am preparing FRIENDZONE, (a New Adult, Jock Romance) for publication while simultaneously writing Courting Death (a Dark, Fantasy Romance).
Me:   Ooohh, sounds interesting! Tell us a little about your writing process? 
Michelle: I don’t have a very strict formula or process when it comes to writing. I’m mostly just moved to write by my Muse, usually at the most inconvenient times. But, I actually do a very large part of my writing on my cell phone while soaking in bubble baths, or jotting down different scenes on my water-proof notepad while in the shower. Water seems to really help me get the words flowing.
Me:   Haha, isn’t that the way it goes…wanting to write at the most inopportune times! Now, what drew you to the paranormal romance genre?
Michelle: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” started my fascination with vampires. Angel and Spike were my first vampire loves and they inspired me to write a vampire romance story. But I never got around to finishing because life took me on a detour from writing for a few years. It wasn’t until a friend introduced me to the Twilight Series back in 2008 that I was brought out of the dark, uncreative place that I had found myself in and got back to reading and writing and really started to focus on writing my own paranormal romance series. 
Me:   OMG, I LOVE Buffy and Angel AND the Twilight series. So, who are your favorite authors/books?
Michelle: How can you ask me that??!?! Well… let’s see… I have to give a shout out to Stephenie Meyer since she got me back into reading and writing. Gone with the Wind, Where the Red Fern Grows, Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, Outlander, Harry Potter, Rebecca, Gillian Flynn, Anne Rice, Victoria Holt, but right now I am really enjoying reading a lot of indie books.
Me:   All great ones and likewise! I’ve read so many awesome indie books! Now, what do you personally love about writing?

Michelle: I love just getting lost in a new story that I am writing. Creating characters that people will fall in love with, become invested in, and care about what ends up happening to them. I always say that I’m just a big kid who never outgrew her imagination, but now instead of acting out stories with my Barbies, I write the stories down and create books.
Me:  Ha ha, yes! But where’s the fun in growing up? ;-) Now, what are you looking forward to this year?
Michelle: I am looking forward to the release of FRIENDZONE in December!
Me: That's great, it sounds so good. Can't wait for it! 

Thank you so much for being my guest tonight, Michelle. It’s been a pleasure. 
You can grab Michelle Hillstrom’s Kiss series and all her other books on Amazon here. 
Michelle Hillstrom is a New Adult Romance Author. Her work includes “The Kiss Series,” “Insomnia,” and “#MeToo: A Collection of True Story Crimes Against Women.”
Michelle was born and raised in Texas where she began writing short stories at a very young age and wrote a novel at age twelve.
When she isn’t writing, Ms. Hillstrom advocates for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, animal rights, and suicide prevention and mental health. She enjoys cooking, dancing, and reading. She spends as much time as she can with family, friends, and her two Labradors.
Ms. Hillstrom was honored to serve her country in the Marine Corps Reserves before being medically discharged.
Michelle Hillstrom continues to reside and write in her Texas Hometown.

Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series 

Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills, and warms her heart... and supporting the spooky bitches of Lubbock too :-D


Book Reviews
The Writer's Block Indie Author Interviews

<![CDATA[Review for Pomegranate by Nicole Scarano]]>Mon, 29 Jul 2019 23:28:06 GMThttp://shannaswenson.com/my-blog/review-for-pomegranate-by-nicole-scarano
5 EPIC stars for Pomegranate

O-M-G, for real though. Talk about a god-send-- Pun intended. This book has all the makings of an incredible book (and movie if I’m being blatantly honest.) Pomegranate is brilliantly written. It’s a gloriously epic twist on one of the most favorite and well known myths in history... and it’s executed perfectly

With that being said, be sure to grab your copy on Kindle Unlimited (or buy it for that matter because you will NOT be disappointed!) then sit back and let me tell you how much you are going to LOVE this book. 

Ok, so we’ve all been told the legend of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, right? Now...what if we were to change things up a little bit? The story isn’t quite like what we thought it was in this new take. 

Proud Zeus, king of the ancient Greek gods, is facing a big dilemma. He’s in love with a beautiful redhead (man, those redheads I tell ya--wink wink) but she’s not a god, albeit an immortal of Olympus, and she’s not the one whom he’s promised to. Zeus knows he must appease his fellow gods and do his duty to the realm and prevent another war, thus he does the one thing he can do-- He gives up his beautiful immortal woman for Hera, his queen. 

Not only does he do this, he also (in typical man fashion) allows his new wife to force his hand, in seeking to banish her. So he must do something bold, something brazen, something that hasn’t ever been done before... Hera, wishes for the girl to be gone, gone from Olympus, gone from her sight- as she will not be embarrassed to see her new husband parading around with his mistress. Zeus again has no choice, for Hera has threatened to kill the woman he loves-- and in the worst possible way imaginable. 

So, his lover is brought before the council and bestowed a gift, a gift unlike any other. She will be an ambassador to the unchecked Underworld, a new god to join their ranks, the keeper of Hell. She is Hades, god of darkness. 

Now, as we all know, Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned…And scorn this magnificent god does, and oh so well I might add. What follows is the incredible journey of a woman turned deity, whose rise to power was something she never asked for, and yet she yields it so eloquently. Hades is admirable, merciful, fierce, fair, and even in her tantrums, simply stunning. Hades shines brightly in her dark and dismal prison in the most amazing ways possible as Nicole introduces you to all the Greek gods, creatures, and places we all know and love in the classic mythology. 

This book is powerful and exciting, tear-jerking, heart-pounding and fist-clenching. It’s a story of humility, love, power, determination and sacrifice. It captivates you from the very first page to the very last, leaving you wanting more. Like, I legit don’t know how I’m gonna wait for the sequel… This is as bad as having to wait a year and a half for the conclusion of Game of Thrones. (Insert foot-stomping, pouting face GIF) I didn’t want it to end, but I couldn’t stop reading either. This is one of those books, so be prepared to do nothing until you finish it. Good luck. I’m gonna hit the channel guide and find Clash of the Titans now and eat a pomegranate.

Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series 

Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart...and takes her to Mt. Olympus, the Underworld, Tartarus and Elysium like this one did ;-) 


Book Reviews
The Writer's Block Indie Author Interviews

<![CDATA[The Writer's Block- Interview with fellow indie author, Ashley Lane]]>Thu, 25 Jul 2019 21:51:44 GMThttp://shannaswenson.com/my-blog/the-writers-block-interview-with-fellow-indie-author-ashley-lane
I met the amazingly talented Ashley Lane back when I did my first promotion on Book Funnel in February. Once I saw the premise of her book in the blurb, I knew I was gonna snatch that baby up and be sucked right up into the pages. So I pre-ordered my copy, and when her book came out last month, I dug in. I was blown away by the sheer imagination and uniqueness that was this book. Ashley did a fabulous job bringing her characters to life--and we all know how much I love dynamic characters that I can relate to. Upon reading Washed in Blood, (you can read my five star review of it here) I simply had to know what inspired her to write this gripping and beautifully written novel. 
Here’s what she had to say: 
Me:   Hi Ashley, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Ashley: Well, I’m a Georgia Peach born and raised. My husband and I are high school sweethearts, and though we went to the same school, we actually ‘met’ on facebook when I commented on his status out of the blue. We started dating the summer before my senior year and were the stereotypical “football star and band geek couple”. We celebrated our nine year wedding anniversary this past May and we have two boys aged 9 and almost 2, three cats, a dog and a hamster. 
As far as knowing when I was going to be a writer… it’s a long bumpy road but I’ve never been one to shy away from telling my story in its entirety so here it is. I’ve always been a person that doesn’t really fit any type of mold. In high school I was unapologetically outgoing. I was bright and loud and wore confidence like a second skin. I was never one of those that knew what I wanted to be, because so many things interested me. Back then, the thought of having to pick one and settle made me sick to my stomach- but all of that changed after my first son was born.
I struggled with severe postpartum depression which was eventually re-diagnosed as treatment resistant major depressive disorder. It took doctors four years and over forty antidepressants to discover that after about three months, my body built up a tolerance to the drugs I was taking. In 2015 I had a device implanted into my chest called a Vagus Nerve Stimulator. The device works by shocking the vagus nerve which causes my brain to naturally create more serotonin and dopamine. I’ve been antidepressant free for four years now but the journey through battling major depression and anxiety gave me a complete internal makeover. My social anxiety is crippling. I struggle heavily with eye contact and being hugged or touched. All of these things combined made working in the ‘real world’ hard on me so I became the best stay at home wife and mom that I could be. Still, despite all of the cards stacked against me, I’ve always felt like I was made for something more. 
And one day it just clicked. To help deal with my depression my husband had purchased me a Kindle, Christmas 2014. Reading became my escape. For just a little while, I was able to live a life where there was no depression or anxiety. Or if there was, I was able to battle it with them and see there was hope for coming out on the other side. So I thought to myself… what if I could write something that could also give someone that escape? And I realized I’d never wanted to do anything more in my life. 

Me:   Wow, I’m so sorry that happened to you. What a story. Georgia girls- we rock ;-) Maybe I’m just biased though LOL! So, what inspired you to write Washed in Blood?
Ashley: Honestly? I tried to write a rom-com first. My husband and I have one of those almost cheesy- blissfully fun and happy marriages. Arguments are far and few between and I figured, hey- I’m living this shit, how hard could it be to write? 
HA! Any humor I have in real life most definitely does not translate onto paper for me. I also noticed no matter how hard I tried to make things light and fluffy, they kept turning dark and twisted. Finally I stopped fighting it and went with the flow. 

Me:  Well, I’m glad you did because it was A-MAY-zing. Now, how many books will be in the series?
Ashley: There will be 5 in the series. Each ‘brother’: Priest, Patch, Bullet, Angel and Demon- will be getting their own book. 
Me:  And I can’t wait for each one of them! Squeee. Which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?
Ashley: Gah, that feels like such an impossible question. As cliche as this is going to sound, Priest started everything for me. So many pieces of myself are woven into his and Willow’s story. I’ll always have a deep connection with them that I don’t know if I’ll be able to replicate with any of the others. 
Me:   Well, what’s not to love about him. He is super H-O-T. Swoony, strong...I’ll stop… Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters? Priest? Willow? Vince? 
Ashley: Those particular characters? No. Demon’s sister’s name is Sara, and I do have a bestie in real life named Sara that the character payed homage to. She’s not a crack whore, but she did have an ex, Tony- that was a real douche in real life as well so I had great pleasure writing his demise in the book. 
Me:   What are you working on now?
Ashley: Right now I’m working on Patch’s story. My goal is to have Silenced By Sin ready to release mid-September. But- I’m also the queen of procrastination and I’ve also been sworn off by my editor/best friend of putting up a pre-order until at least my first draft is finished. 
Me:   LOL!! Woot, woot! Loved him too! Now, tell us a little about your writing process?
Ashley: Um… if you throw a cat in a bathtub, it’s probably less chaotic than my writing process. No joke. I changed the complete story line for WIB two weeks before I released. I think it was the only time I was thankful that my editor lives in Australia because if it were any closer, she surely would have come and strangled me. 
Me:   Baaahhhhaaa! Cat in a bathtub. You’re hilarious! Well, it totally worked, so I’m glad you did what you did :-D So, I gotta ask, what drew you to the motorcycle romance genre?

Ashley: Motorcycle Romance’s have alpha men unlike any other that I’ve read. I love how fiercely unapologetic they are about loving and protecting their women. I knew at least for my first series that’s what I wanted to break me into the writing world. 
I also cuss like a sailor so, it was basically a perfect fit. 

Me:   Well, you nailed the freakin’ nail on the head. It was my first and I absolutely loved it...it definitely won’t be my last. (I also cuss like a sailor too :-S) Who are your favorite authors/books?
Ashley: How much time do I have? Let’s see, right off the top of my head Lani Lynn Vale, Cambria Hebert, Kristen Ashley, and Kennedy Fox are a few of my one clicks. Lady Luck by Kristen Ashley is my number one re-read book. 
Me:   LOL! Right. Nice, I got some of those in my TBR too. So, what do you personally love about writing?
Ashley: I love the freedom you have. Sitting down at a blank word document is what I would imagine an artist feels like sitting down at a blank canvas, or a musician sitting down to blank sheet music. The possibilities are endless. My anxiety may keep me from traveling the world but if I want to visit the Sistine Chapel, it’s at the tips of my fingers to do so.
Me:  Yes. It’s amazing to be able to create a masterpiece on a blank sheet of paper. Soo mind-blowing! What are you looking forward to this year?
Ashley: My youngest son turns two September first, so these are the months where everything with him is an exciting adventure. My husband, older son and I are each equally excited about seeing and experiencing his reaction to Halloween and Christmas this year. 
Me:  Awww, how sweet. That’s such a fun age. Well, thank you so much for spending time with me tonight, Ash. I wish you all the best in your writing career and your upcoming books. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this crew of sexy and swoony bikers of yours ;-) 

You can grab Ashley Lane's debut biker romance novel, now available on Amazon. 
Being the boy mom of a 9 and 2 year old, means Ashley Lane lives off Goldfish crumbs and Diet Coke. When her life isn't being ruled by her tiny minions and their endless activities, you can typically find her parked on the couch, Kindle within reach, catching up on the previous weeks episode of Grey's Anatomy or Hell's Kitchen.

Shanna Swenson, author of Abundance series

Shanna enjoys good books that thrills, chill and warm her heart...she also supports her fellow indies like this kick-a$$ author friend of hers, Ashley Lane 


Book Reviews
The Writer's Block Indie Author Interviews

<![CDATA[The Writer's Block- Interview with fellow indie author, Evelyn Montgomery]]>Thu, 18 Jul 2019 22:24:13 GMThttp://shannaswenson.com/my-blog/the-writers-block-interview-with-fellow-indie-author-evelyn-montgomery
I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely and talented Evelyn Montgomery on Instagram among many of the indie romance authors in that supportive writing/reading community. We connected easily and as soon as I read the blurb for her book Indecision, I knew it was going to be right up my alley- Firefighter southern gent and a strong Cali girl writer, what’s not to love about that? After I read it, I had to know what inspired her to write it. 
Here’s what she had to say:

Me:   Hi Evelyn, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?

Evelyn: I’m a Southern California girl, who grew up in Northern California before moving to Central Kentucky almost three years ago. I knew at a very young age I wanted to be a writer. To be honest, it has always been with me before I could even write words. I would scribble down what I thought was a book on several pieces of paper and staple them together, very proud of what I created. I was probably about 4 years old. 
Me:   Aww, how cute is that! I love it! So, what inspired you to write Indecision?
Evelyn: Indecision is sort of an autobiography in some ways. In a lot of ways it is not, but there are very similar mirrored situations in the book that took place in real life. I am a journalist. I was born in Orange County. My family still lives in Huntington Beach and I always wanted to move back there. 
A lot of the characters have traits from friends I call family in my life, but for the most part are made up. I wanted to tell the struggle of a woman having to give up her dreams for something she did not expect. I guess in a lot of ways like I feel I gave up mine. 
Don’t get me wrong though, I am happy here in Central Kentucky. But Cali will always be home. 
Me:  Awww, it’s such a beautiful location for this book, I’ve always wanted to go there. Why did you choose this setting for your book? 
Evelyn: I grew up there for 34 years. It was all I knew before moving to the South. I wanted to write about what I knew. The great places I have visited and the places I called home. 
Me: I love it!! Now, how many books are in the Kismet series?

Evelyn: Three. The fourth is in production. ;) 
Me:  Awesome! I’m excited to read Reckless soon. So, which character in the collection is your favorite? Why?
Evelyn: Before I started writing my current work in progress, I would say Rex. He is the man candy in book 3. But now, I am falling in love with Jolene and Troy in book 4 and can’t wait for others to fall in love with them too. 
Me:   Aww, yaayyy. From the teasers I’ve seen I can understand that ;-) 
Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters? Noah? Evelyn? Rex? Gwen? 

Evelyn: Noah is completely made up. Not one person inspired him. I wanted to create my own version of a southern dream, and so he was created. Lol Evelyn takes part of my personality, but she is A LOT her own too. Gwen is me mixed with a lot of my longtime best girlfriends. Rex, lol, he’s everyone's favorite guy friend and the man most women drool over but know they can never tame. I created him with that mindset, and that is for sure how he turned out. 
Me:   Haha, yes! Understood! So, what are you working on now?
Evelyn: Deliverance - A military romance due out this fall. I am hoping early October if not sooner. It is the story of Jolene, Noah’s sister, and Troy Young. 
Me:   I can’t wait!!! Tell us a little about your writing process? 

Evelyn: For Indecision and Devotion - I did not plan. I just wrote as the story flowed out of me. For Reckless, I plan and plotted for the first time. I can honestly say I think that made the book take longer to write. For Deliverance, I am going back to the way I naturally am - realizing I am not a planner or plotter. So far the story is flowing well and i don’t feel trapped in a plotted box like I did with book 3. 
Me:   LOL! Yeah, I’m not much of a plotter myself so I completely understand that! 
What drew you to the romance genre?

Evelyn: I am a woman who loves a good love story. Enough said. ;)
Me:   Haha! I’ll drink to that ;-) Who are your favorite authors/books?
Evelyn: My all time favorite is F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby. Some Contemporary Romance authors I like are: K. Broomberg, Adrianna Locke, Corrine Michaels, Britney Cherry and Melanie Harlow. 
Me:   I guessed as much when I read about Gatsbys ;-) Now, what do you personally love about writing?
Evelyn: Creating worlds. I love the feeling I get from starting and not knowing what is going to come out, and later standing back and thinking- Oh my, did I write that? The feedback from readers is amazing too. I have met some amazing faithful readers and some awesome author friends since starting my indie author journey.
Me:  Agreed 100%. So, what are you looking forward to in 2019?
Evelyn: My first book signing. Finishing Deliverance. Making new author friends and talking with readers who enjoy what I have written. 
Me: The signing is going to be awesome! I can’t wait!! I wish you all the best, Eve. And I look forward to meeting you face to face in October. It’s so amazing to be on this great writing journey and have so many supportive and awesome women by my side. 

Grab Evelyn’s Kismet series, now available on Amazon. 
Evelyn Montgomery is a Southern California girl now embracing her southern roots in Central Kentucky. She is the author if The Kismet Series, available on Amazon. Her novels take you from the West Coast to the deep South. When she is not writing, she works as a journalist and editor of a community newspaper. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her three children - Ava, Sophia and Logan - and her husband, Jason.

Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series

Shanna enjoys good books that thrill, chill and warm her heart...and supporting her fellow indie authors, like Evelyn Montgomery


Book Reviews
The Writer's Block Indie Author Interviews

<![CDATA[Review for Devotion by Evelyn Montgomery]]>Tue, 16 Jul 2019 01:01:09 GMThttp://shannaswenson.com/my-blog/review-for-devotion-by-evelyn-montgomery
5 Dazzling Stars for Devotion

Ah, love… It never fails to endure and in this book it simply did, again and again and again! 

This was the sweet and satisfying conclusion to Book 1, Indecision, in Evelyn Montgomery’s Kismet series. It picked up right where Indecision left off. 

Noah, upon hearing Eve and Gwen talking on his way into the hospital room, is devastated to know that Eve’s feelings for him are unrequited. He leaves in a mad dash to escape both his breaking heart and to run from the stain his past has marked him with, no matter the attempts to break away from it. 

Eve is left alone to recover without the man she loves, not understanding that he had even attempted to come see her at the hospital let alone misinterpreted her words. She’s left with nothing but a note of encouragement as Noah heads home to Kentucky--Jack’s (my male MC in Abundance) home state btw, how could I not be intrigued?--freeing her to live the life she’s always dreamed...without him. But being without him, even if that’s what he seems to want, is killing her. 

Gwen is the one to suggest they go to Kentucky after him as she has an idea of why he might have hightailed it out of Dodge. 

What follows is beautiful scenery, a makeup made in Heaven, and the beginning of a new life for Evelyn Monroe as she finally stops to smell the literal roses and embraces where her life is taking her. 

But just as Noah and Evelyn’s fate seems to have ultimately turned around and their paths are headed where they were destined to go, that awful past Noah thought was behind him has just threw a major sucker punch to his gut and that happily ever after he was hoping for with the beautiful woman of his dreams may never be. 

A determined woman, a broken man torn by heartbreak, and a devotion so strong it can withstand miles and months and leagues apart. That is what you’ll find in this beautifully written story of Evelyn Montgomery’s. We should all be lucky enough to meet a man like Noah Stewart with his southern charm and big heart, to be a woman with the backbone, strength, and spirit of Evelyn Monroe, and to have a relentless fortified love that bonds these two lovers to each other forever. 

Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series

Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart...and showcases the power of love like this one did ;-) 


Book Reviews
The Writer's Block Indie Author Interviews