Welcome to my blog spot- grab a cup of coffee and a good book ;-)
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a HUGE fan of anything horror! I fell in love at an early age with movie monsters. My favorite movie at the age of eight was Silver Bullet and I’ve always been fascinated with the unknown and unexplained- UFOs, cryptids, ghosts, mysteries and the paranormal. So when I saw WB advertising her book on Twitter back in December, I knew immediately from reading the blurb that it was going to be right up my alley! I finished Blood Drops in early January (you can read my lovely review of it here: http://shannaswenson.com/my-blog/review-of-blood-drops-by-wb-welch)
After finishing this incredibly poignant and very well-written collection of horror stories, I was curious to know more about WB and her work, so I recently got with her and interviewed her about her debut horror collection and what her writing life is like.
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Hi WB, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
WB: A little about myself? I’m short, I love coffee and tea and kombucha, and my favorite shoes are my slides. When did I know I was going to be a writer? That’s a kind of hard thing to nail down. I had dreams of being a novelist when I was seven or eight years old, but that wasn’t a practical or guaranteed career choice, so I didn’t start actively taking steps towards full-time writer status until about four years ago. I continued to self-study fiction writing after college, but when I re-read Stephen King’s On Writing in 2015, it lit some kind of new fire under my butt. Within a couple of months, I was starting my first novella.
Me: Awesome! What inspired you to write Blood Drops?
WB: I created a small, hand-printed anthology called “Blood Drop” a couple of years ago. That was inspired by a burlap coated book I came across in a bookstore one day. My boyfriend said it would be really cool if I printed some of my stories and made my own little book, so I did. Then later last year, I realized I had a bunch of stories I could pull together for a new collection, only this time, I printed it with Amazon so the potential for reach was greater.
Me: Nice, so which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?
WB: Ooooo. That’s tough. I guess I would have to say Her. We never learn her name, in the first story, but she is such a free-spirited, present, trusting, and experience-driven person.
Me: Yes, I can see that! Did anyone in real life inspire your characters?
WB: Yes and no. For me, I am always observing people and their tendencies, from relatives to strangers I see. While no character was directly inspired by one person, I am sure bits and pieces of lots of people reside in the pages.
Me: Haha, yes. I understand that well! Now, what are you working on currently?
WB: A few things actually. I am working on a zombie novella with Tory Hunter that we are both very excited about. We have some surprises lined up and some announcements coming soon, and we can’t wait to share more. I am also querying one novel while working on another, AND I recently started a short secret project that I hope to announce soon.
OH. Also, I’ll be starting stories for Blood Drops II sooooon!
Me: Yaayyy! How exciting! And Zombies…oohh, I’ll be checking that one out for sure! So, tell us a little about your writing process?
WB: I actually have an important technique I haven’t talked about too much publicly, so I’m glad you asked. I always, always, always find a photo of a person who I feel could represent my main character. I usually do this with my antagonist too. Now, this isn’t always true for short projects, but for anything over about five to ten thousand words, this is important. For some reason, it helps me connect with the MC…whenever I feel stuck, I stare at the photo, try to feel what they would feel, think what they would think. Maybe this helps me ‘not be myself,’ to cause some separation, so I don’t just feel like all of it is in my head. If I can stare at this real person and believe they are my MC, I can dive much further into their consciousness. Is that weird? I hope it’s not weird.
I also grab a thin, ruled, Moleskin journal for all new projects I start. This is where my story ideas go, as well as any notes I take when I am researching. Going off the idea that writing things down helps you remember them, I feel like this helps me retain the important details to access them when I am writing.
Me: That’s such a unique and interesting idea! I LOVE it! What drew you to the horror genre?
WB: I am drawn to all kinds of genres, but horror has always held a special place in my heart. I couldn’t tell you why. I saw my first scary movie when I was young, younger than ten at least. It terrified me, but I was hooked; the horror shelves at Blockbuster became my favorite. I collected and read Goosebumps, too.
Me: Who are your favorite authors/books?
WB: So many. Stephen King, Koontz, Lovecraft, Chuck Palahniuk, Joe Hill, Patrick Rothfuss, C.S Lewis, Thomas Ligotti…I’ve read some good ones lately by Paul Harding, Edan Lepucki, Jennifer McMahon, Kiersten White, and Bryce Andrews.
Me: All great ones! What do you love about writing?
WB: I love surprising myself. I love when I finish writing, read back over it, then find myself wondering where it came from. I love when I am able to get into the zone so well that the writing starts writing itself.
Me: Haha, yes, I know the feeling and yes, sometimes I read back through and I’m like “Man, that’s good stuff!” WB, final question: What are you looking forward to in 2019?
WB: All of it. You might have been expecting a more specific answer, but I don’t have one. There are a lot of good things happening, and I feel like there are many more still to come. Life is one surprise after another, and all we can do is take it as it comes, but I am willing, and I am ready.
Me: Agreed! That’s wonderful! Well, thank you so much for being my guest tonight, WB. It’s been a pleasure! I wish you all the best in your upcoming endeavors and look forward to checking out more of your future works!
You can find WB Welch’s Blood Drops on Amazon or order a signed paperback copy from her website. The links are below.
WB Welch often focuses on the darker side of human emotions, striving to write honest fiction with texture.
WB had always loved learning and new experiences. She worked for her college paper, at a law firm, in the family dental business…she rented a photo studio for a year, started a natural beauty and skin care line, was a certified personal trainer, and she recently completed a full-stack web development program. Thankfully, during all that time, she found her way back to fiction and is very happy to call herself a writer.
She is a contributing author on, Oh my Darlings, and Tory Hunter Books.
Follow her on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart. She also enjoys supporting her fellow indie authors.
I met the kind and comical JD Park on Goodreads and we became quick friends. JD is a busy wife and mother who writes sweet, clean romance novels. Her debut novel Coming Home was like taking a trip into a Hallmark movie. It was such a cute and endearing read that I wanted to know more about what inspired it and her Home series.
Here's what she had to say:
Me: Hi JD, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
JD: Hey Shanna! I am a stay at home mom with a 6yo boy and 3yo girl. I’ve been married to my husband for almost 8 years but have been with him for nearly 17. When did I know I was going to be a writer? Probably when my first book was published, haha. Really, though, I started reading a lot when my son wouldn't sleep at night. I read mostly romance and found that KU and .99 books were my jam. But with that came some not to thought out or edited books. I found myself saying “I think I can do this” and “I might be able to do it with fewer errors”, so I tried.
Me: LOL! That’s how it goes, you don’t know ‘til you know, right? So, what inspired you to write Coming Home?
JD: By the time my daughter arrived, I needed an outlet. Something that was just mine. Coming Home came from an idea I had. It ended up totally different than when it started. It just grew from there. The characters decided where their story would go and I was just along for the ride. It took over two years to get Coming Home finished and published.
Me: LOL! It’s so true, the characters kinda take the story away how they see fit, don’t they? (Shrug) Writers are the only ones who can say, “I do what the voices tell me to,” without being committed LOL!!! So, which character in your Home series is your favorite? Why?
JD: This is a tough question. I love so much about each of the characters. I guess I would say, Cole. He’s just good. Not because he has to be but because he can’t be any other way. It doesn’t hurt that he's a dreamboat ;)
Me: Haha! Yes, he is! ;-) Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters?
JD: Bits and pieces of my friends and family are in each one. They aren’t based on any one person. I have a lot of myself in my MC’s but they are not.
Me: Agreed. We can’t help but put ourselves into our characters… What are you working on now?
JD: Well, Finding Home is just about ready for publication, so I’ve switched my focus to Kira’s story. It doesn’t have a finished title yet, but I am leaning towards Building a Home.
Me: Aww, that sounds cute! How many books are there going to be in the Home series?
JD: There will be three. Coming Home, Finding Home and Building a Home. I never intended to have these books become a stand-alone series. Heck, I never intended to write more than one! But the characters took on a life of their own in my head and demanded to have their stories told.
Me: Ha ha, yes, they tend to do that! Now, I have to ask: As a busy wife and mom, how do you get any writing done?
JD: It’s not easy. I am not a morning person, so I don’t get up before the kids. I am a night owl but find it hard to get into the groove once the kids are in bed. I do a lot when my daughter goes to my mother-in-law's house to play. I can do it some afternoons when the kids play outside. It’s very sporadic. My dad is also ill and that took most of my December through early February. The first draft of Finding Home was done in November, but here is it April, and I am just now able to get to the publishing step.
Me: Aww, yes life tends to get in the way. I remember that about your dad, I hope he’s doing better. Tell me a bit about your new book, Finding Home, when is its debut?
JD: Finding Home is Jo’s story, who we met in Coming Home. She has a very cynical view of marriage since her mom has been married seven times! She believes in happily ever after just not the traditional way for her. This is a problem since the man she has chosen to build a life with is the marrying kind. Struggles arise, inner turmoil ensues, girlfriends come to the rescue. You know, a Hallmark movie. I have a release date set for April 26th barring any issues!
Me: Oooh, SO exciting!! It’s coming up soon! Now, what drew you to the romance genre?
JD: I love a happy ending. I’ve always been a huge sap. And the Hallmark channel is the greatest thing ever. It was a no brainer for me.
Me: Yes, happily ever after is so heart-warming!! Who are your favorite authors/books?
JD: When I was younger I read all the Nicholas Sparks book. Now that I’m older, the stories are a little too close to home. Once I started reading all the time, Maggie Shayne was a favorite for a long time. I love Lauren Blakely, Addison Moore, and Erin Nicholas. I don’t think I will ever be able to write the style of books they do, but I love reading them. The biggest bonus to becoming an indie author is being around so many great authors and finding their work. I love your books and can’t wait for Escape From Abundance! And of course, JK Rowling.
Me: Aww, well thank you! I’m excited to share Dallie’s story! It will be premiering soon! (Squeee) So, what do you love about writing?
JD: I love that it’s just mine. As a mom, there is almost nothing that isn’t shared. My husband, my food, and most importantly, my time. Writing is just for me. I also love being able to show my kids they can do anything. I’m a firm believer we lead by example and I want my kids to have a love of books and a drive to succeed.
Me: Aww, that’s so inspiring! I LOVE it!!! Now, what are you looking forward to in 2019?
JD: I’m looking forward to a lot! The release of Finding Home this month! Finishing up with Kira’s story and getting it published sometime this fall. But mostly, summer vacation! My husband is an Organic Farmer and the summer is our busiest season; It’s nice to have the freedom from school and the luxury of seeing dad when and wherever possible.
Shanna, I want to thank you for this interview and all the others you’ve done. It is such a great way to learn more about our fellow indie authors and the inspiration behind their characters. I also want to thank you for your continued support of the indie author community. You have been an integral part of my journey, and I know that many out there can say the same.
Me: Aww, well, I certainly try and thank you, JD. We are all in this together after all. Supporting one another is as vital as any other aspect of our process, I believe.
It’s truly been a pleasure getting to know all you wonderful authors and your works. I have made lasting connections and discovered some amazing books. I look forward to continuing these interviews and reading lots more indie books this year. I’m already up to 13 now. That’s gotta be a record for me as I’m a slow reader! I can’t wait to see how many I end up reading before the end of the year :-D
You can find Coming Home on Amazon in Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and in paperback formats. Finding Home, book 2 in the Home series, comes out on April 26th, so be sure to catch up now!!!
JD Park is the author of Coming Home and Finding Home (set to premiere on April 26th). She is a stay at home mom and wife of an organic farmer. She started writing to prevent her brain from turning to mush as the ABC’s, colors, and shapes weren’t stimulating enough. Her stories became her outlet. You can find JD on Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook. You can also email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to visit her website for all the latest!
Shanna Swenson, Author of the Abundance series
Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart. She also enjoys supporting her fellow indies.
Veronica and I met on Twitter last year when I first joined up on the #WritingCommunity there. I was "bedazzled" by her book teasers, tags and "glamorous" GIFs. I just read her debut cozy mystery novel, The Crown for Castlewood Manor, this month and wanted to talk with her about her book, her series and what inspired her to write it!
Here's what she had to say:
Me: Hi Veronica, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Veronica: Hi Shanna, thank you for having me as your guest! I’m a full time writer these days who loves to travel (the colder the destination the better!), read, and have a good time with friends and family (which includes my two cats, Daisy and Ebbie 😊).
I’ve always done technical writing during my engineering and software careers and have been an avid reader since I was a little girl. I was fortunate enough to ‘retire’ early and decided I was going to go out on a limb and see if I could put my little gray cells to work and write a cozy mystery. I started in 2016 and haven’t looked back!
Me: That’s wonderful, Veronica. How awesome! What inspired you to write The Crown for Castlewood Manor?
Veronica: I’m a huge fan of Downton Abbey, and after the 6th season ended I had to find a way to still experience the joys, adventures, sorrows and dangers that I had come to depend on from my beloved show. I have always heard it was best to write about the things you love, so that words will flow. I took inventory of all the things that made me feel inspired, thrilled, and delighted as a watcher of DA, and reader in the cozy mystery world, and transformed them to fit into my fictional world at the Cherrywood Hall estate in the English countryside. I asked the question, “Would you want a period drama series filmed at your home?” My writer’s mind took off from there…
Me: So cool! Which character in your series is your favorite? Why?
Veronica: I love my main character, Gemma Lancaster Phillips, PhD. I can empathize with some of her personal dilemmas (love life, career) and I thoroughly enjoy the world she’s fortunate enough to live in! She’s a young woman of privilege who finds herself by going back to her ancestral home, re-connecting with her British family members, meeting some very nice (and not so nice) people, and just maybe, find the man of her dreams. I love seeing how she reacts to the situations I put her in—I have to say, I’m quite impressed, LOL!
Me: Ha ha, nice! Did anyone in real life inspire your characters?
Veronica: I have bits and pieces of me in all my characters (I kind of know where Gemma gets her love of boots from, ahem). I use traits, mannerisms, and personalities from people I’ve met, both the good and the bad. I keep a log of expressions, phrases, etc. that I think are unique—you never know when they might be used!
Me: So true! I think we put a part of ourselves into each character! It just sorta happens. So, what are you working on now?
Veronica: I just finished the 4th book in the My American Almost Royal Cousin Series. I’m in the editing phase now…dun-dun-dun!
Me: Ah, yes the lovely editing phase…(banging head against a counter! LOL) Now, how many books are there going to be in the My Almost Royal American Cousin series?
Veronica: Initially I was planning for 7-10 books. I love writing a series because you get to know the characters and watch them develop. I know how I will end the series, and I may try an off-shoot for the next book—I’m still deciding 😊. Need to keep things interesting for myself and readers!
Me: Yes, series are so much fun! Love how they kinda spin off on their own! LOL! So, you write full time now? When do you get your writing in?
Veronica: I do write full time these days. I like to write early in the morning, but when I’m in full book mode, you just never know. The cats are used to coming downstairs with me at 1am or sleeping during the day. I’ve learned to strike while the inspiration is hot!
Me: Yes, agreed! Gotta take advantage of when those ideas when they are flowing. Now, tell me a bit about book 4. Does it have a title yet? When is its debut?
Veronica: Book 4 sees some major changes occurring at Cherrywood Hall for many of the characters. There was a big cliffhanger at the end of the 3rd book, Deadly Receptions; the Debut of Castlewood Manor. It was decision time for me as a writer—how far should I go? I’m still going back and forth with the title, hope to decide soon. As for the release, I’m shooting for an early July date. The 4th book takes place during Christmas/New Year’s, so we’ll have a ‘Christmas in July’ party!
Me: Ooh, sounds exciting! What drew you to the mystery genre?
Veronica: I’ve always loved mysteries—started with Trixie Belden when I was a girl and went on from there. I prefer cozy style mysteries vs. true crime—we get enough of that in real life, IMO. In the cozy world bad things happen (really bad things…) but life goes on around them, usually sipping tea or sherry, LOL. I have a lot of food scenes in my stories—the characters are often together at breakfast, lunch, tea or dinner. It’s a good way to get the dialogue flowing, and clues/insights exchanged.
Me: Ah, ha, yes! Who are your favorite authors/books?
Veronica: I adore Dame Agatha Christie, especially her Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot stories. Rhys Bowen is another favorite (Her Royal Spyness series). Since I became active on Twitter in 2018, I’ve been able to read many other authors and genres (including you, LUV Abundance!), and I love it! I try and read 1-2 books/week and do reviews. It’s my way of staying current and giving a little thank you to the #WritingCommunity.
Me: Yes, agreed! I’m so glad I found all these amazing writers… and their work! It’s been fun and exciting! Aww, thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed my book :-D So, what do you love about writing?
Veronica: I love meeting new characters and their worlds. I try and give a lot of detail in my books and being able to travel helps a lot with the setting descriptions. I enjoy sneaking to the locations my characters go to in my stories. It’s fun to sit in the ‘exact’ spot where events/conversations take place in your books, seeing the room from their perspective.
Me: That’s awesome! I can tell you put a lot of detail into your settings ;-) Alright, final question, Veronica: What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Veronica: For my writing life: I’m looking forward to the querying process, which I hope to start in the next few weeks (agent and publisher). It’s time to see how far my series can go. I will continue with the marketing and promos for the series (I just had book trailers completed for the 3 published books, I love them!). Most likely book 5 will be started too. 😊
For my personal life: Travel, travel, and more travel. Hubby and I have some fantastic trips lined up this year for our 20th wedding anniversary and I can’t wait!
Thank you very much for inviting me in as your guest, Shanna!
Crowns and Kisses,
Me: Wonderful! And thank you, Veronica! Happy travels and best of luck to you in your book ventures! It’s truly been a pleasure.
You can find Veronica’s books, My American Almost Royal Cousin series, (click on the pictures below) on Amazon in Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and paperback formats.
Veronica Cline Barton earned graduate degrees in both engineering and business and has had successful careers in the software and technology industries. Her lifelong love affair with British cozy murder mysteries inspired her to embark on a literary career. The Crown for Castlewood Manor is the first book in the My American Almost Royal Cousin Series, followed by Cast, Crew, & Carnage; the Filming of Castlewood Manor. The third book in the series, Deadly Receptions: the Debut of Castlewood Manor was released on February 1, 2019. When not traveling and spinning mystery yarns, she lives in California with her husband, Bruce, and her two cats, Daisy and Ebbie.
You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads and Bookbub as well as her blog.
Shanna Swenson, Author of the Abundance series
Shanna loves a good book that chills, thrills and warms her heart. She enjoys supporting her fellow indies authors too.
I read KJ Backer's epic debut fantasy novel Nav'Aria: The Marked Heir back in January and fell in love with unicorns all over again as she wove pure magic into the pages. (Read my review of it here.) After reading such a new and interesting take on the mythical creatures that I adored as a young girl, I had to "sit down" with her and ask her about her book, the writing life and what's next for this up and coming indie author!
Here's what she had to say:
Me: Hi Katie, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
KJ: Hi Shanna! Thanks for having me.
I am a former History teacher, turned adoptive/homeschool mom.
I have always been an avid reader… my Dad got me into reading at a young age. I think it was stories that drew me to teaching History. I’ve always loved learning about the world, and other cultures, and so it seemed like a natural fit. I enjoyed my time teaching and working with teens, and still love learning/discussing history, however, it is only more recently that I’ve realized that it is the “story” component that really drives my passion. In the past decade, I began writing, and it was then that I knew THIS is what I want to do. I’m excited for this next season of life.
Me: That’s awesome! I’m a bit of a history buff myself! So, what inspired you to write the Nav’Aria series?
KJ: When I was a little girl, I would visit my Grandpa’s house and run to stare at his painting in the hallway. It was of a downtrodden unicorn, appearing weary and worn, and I always wondered, “What could have happened to the unicorn to make it look so dejected?”
Years later, while I was a substitute teacher, I ran out of reading material for the day, and began scribbling. Doodling in a notebook really. My love for fantasy, the image of the unicorn, working with high school students, and my childhood growing up in Oregon, all kinda fell out on the page. I drew a hand with markings, with no idea where it would take me… eventually Nav’Aria presented itself on the page in that very classroom!
*Painting: “Beginning of the End” by Gene Waggoner (1981).
Me: Very cool! Which character of the series is your favorite? Why?
KJ: Ohhhhhh wow… tough question. I love them all, of course… well maybe not all. Narco is just awful!
I would probably have to say the unicorns are my favorite, specifically Trixon. I love writing his scenes!! He’s fierce, tough, loyal, a bit rash, and funny. I think some of my personality transferred to the page while writing him. If I was a unicorn, I’d want to be a warrior like Trixon.
Me: Haha! Yes, I love Trixon! And yes, boo Narco! So, did anyone in real life inspire your character, Darion? Vikaris?
KJ: My youngest brother, Danny, inspired the character of Darion… melded with some of my former students. Danny had just had a musical clef tattooed on his middle finger around the time I started writing, and it inspired the idea of a “Mark”.
Vikaris wasn’t necessarily inspired by any people I know, but more influenced by the great leaders/heroes I’ve read, taught about, and/or watched over the years. I wanted someone who so clearly exuded strength, valor, and the willingness to fight for his subjects. He is also a very fun character to write, because he is everything you’d want in a hero… and that’s extremely satisfying to create.
Me: Lol! Where the “mark” idea came from was gonna be my next question! And you did a great job portraying Vikaris as the noble king he is! Now, I gotta ask- Where did you get the idea for these battle-worthy unicorns that can talk?
KJ: That idea goes back to the gritty unicorn painting. When my Grandpa died, he left the painting to me in his will. It’s currently hanging in my office. I look at it EVERY DAY.
Having grown up looking at that unicorn… I wanted to see MORE from unicorns in other stories. They seem to so often be background characters. Passive. Weak. Pure. Cartoon. Sparkles and rainbows. And while that works in a lot of tales, I wanted to see them at the forefront—in battle--fighting for their Kingdom, and willing to do whatever it takes to rid their land of an evil usurper. THEY HAVE FREAKING HORNS AFTERALL, why not let them use them in a fight!?!?
Haha sorry… I’m getting a bit worked up on this one.
Me: Haha! Yes!!! Exactly! Well, it’s a great idea and a good reason to be passionate! ;-) What are you working on now?
KJ: Presently, I’m in the revision stages with the sequel, Nav’Aria: The Pyre of Tarsin. I’m also outlining and working on a non-fiction work as well.
Me: Now, how many books are there going to be in the series?
KJ: Nav’Aria is set to be a trilogy… and then, perhaps I’ll add in a collection of short stories showcasing the various species in Nav’Aria (unicorn, centaur, merfolk, troll, nymph).
Me: That would be cool!! So, what are you planning for after the series is complete?
KJ: I have a few other works in mind… like the non-fiction book for example, which highlights our adoption journey. I also have a fun YA Fantasy stand-alone novel that I’m itching to get started! It’s EPIC!
Me: Nice! I can dig EPIC!!! Now, as a wife and mother, how do you get any writing done?
KJ: RIGHT!? It’s tough to balance… as I’m sure most writers find. It definitely takes will-power, and focus. And I’m the first to admit, that I’m still working on it.
This year, I have really tried to safeguard my mornings. I get up at 5 a.m. every day to ensure that I have some writing time before my family wakes up. I find that my brain works best first thing as far as writing goes. I live for that quiet time…. Just me and my pomeranians, and of course, a steaming cup of coffee!
Me: Yes, that coffee makes life so much easier! So, tell us a little about the next book of the series! When is its debut?
KJ: Nav’Aria: The Pyre of Tarsin is the second book in the series. It is intense! It has more of everything! More fighting, more intrigue, more suspense, heartache, love, and loss! It picks up right where the first book ends, and it is action-packed till the very end.
I had a friend recently (jokingly) get mad saying that the first book kept her on the edge of her seat and left her hanging, and wanted to make sure that the second wouldn’t do that. I just laughed…. I better get going on the third, because I know readers will be anxious to find out what happens next!
Hoping to release the sequel by Fall 2019! (Readers can learn more at www.kjbacker.com, and sign up there for my newsletter in order to be the FIRST to see the sequel’s cover reveal!)
Me: Oohh, I can’t wait!!! WHAT?! I live for books that keep me on the edge of my seat and if book 2 is half as good as book 1 was - which I know it will be ;-) - I’m gonna LOVE it!! What drew you to the fantasy genre?
KJ: My Dad. He took me to get my very first library card, and has fostered my love for reading my entire life. We love swapping books!
As a child I loved anything with a dragon, unicorn, and magic..clearly, I still do! I love reading and writing fantasy, and letting my imagination soar.
Me: Haha, understood. I still have an obsession with fantasy myself! Who are your favorite authors/books?
KJ: O.k. now we’re talking!! Is there a cut off for this question!? I LOVE SO MANY!
My MOST FAVORITE series is “The Wheel of Time” by Robert Jordan (concluded by Brandon Sanderson).
I also have read most of Brandon Sanderson’s works, and love them all… especially “The Stormlight Archive” series and “Warbreaker”. He is an incredible inspiration as an author. His love and dedication to his craft… and fans, is truly admirable. I so respect him.
Other favorite Fantasy series would include “A Song of Ice and Fire” and the “Harry Potter” series.
Jennifer Donnelly is another of my favorite authors. Her “Tea Rose” trilogy is super intense, and inspired me as a writer to not shy away from the gritty as a female author, and just as a writer in general. She is fantastic… and I enjoy following her on social media.
Another favorite is Ken Follett. I love reading Historical Fiction, and his “Pillars of the Earth”, “World Without End”, and “A Place Called Freedom” are some of my very most favorites.
Me: Wow! Looks like I have more books to add to my TBR pile ;-) So, what do you love about writing?
KJ: I honestly enjoy it all!
I am taking it in stride, and trying to enjoy the process as I learn from fellow authors, like YOU Shanna Swenson!! And, continue to push myself further with my writing, storytelling, goals, and expectations. It has honestly been an incredible journey.
Me: Aww, well, I’m glad to help in any way I can! :-D We are all in it together after all, and learning and connecting with each other is vital in this process, I believe! Final question, Katie! What are you looking forward to in 2019?
KJ: I published Nav’Aria: The Marked Heir on January 1st, so I already achieved one of my life-goals of actually publishing a book! And then to top it off, I wrote the entire sequel (first draft) in just three months… which for perspective, I started the first book 8 years ago, never expecting to actually finish it. So to be here in 2019 with a published book, and the sequel already in the editing phase is simply mind-blowing.
I truly feel blessed and inspired by the readers, my amazing family and friends, and the AWESOME #writingcommunity I have found on Twitter and Instagram, that has led me to make writer connections/friendships with people like you, Shanna. 2019 has been amazing… and I’m hoping it ends in a big way with the sequel published and book three in the works!!!!
***Look for me, K.J. Backer, on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)!
Thanks again, Shanna. This was a true privilege.
Me: Aww, yes, this journey has been incredible and the #writingcommunity has been invaluable. So many wonderful writers and readers.
Katie that sounds EPIC! I wish you all the best in your endeavors and look forward to reading the rest of the books in your action-packed fantasy series. It has truly been a pleasure! Thank you so much!
You can purchase KJ Backer’s debut novel Nav’Aria: The Marked Heir on Amazon (in Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and paperback formats) Be sure to follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads AND sign up for her newsletter, for the latest info on all things Nav’Arian.
P.S. She’ll be releasing the cover for book two soon, so DON’T miss out ;-) !!!
(Sign up here: www.kjbacker.com )
K. J. Backer (b. 1986), originally from Corbett, Oregon, is an American writer, wife, mother, teacher, singer, Pomeranian enthusiast, and world traveler who currently resides in Billings, Montana.
She credits her close family bonds, wild imagination, and love of books to her humble, rural upbringing. Backer has always been interested in other cultures and dreamed, from an early age, of traveling the world. Her numerous journeys as an adult have greatly impacted her life and development, and have left an indelible mark, too, in her writing. Backer’s ever-evolving writing and teaching focuses both on World History themes and positively impacting lives of today’s youth, interests strengthened during her years teaching high school History classes. The strong sense of people and their place evidenced in her writing comes from past and present journeys. The fragrant Douglas firs of her Oregon home, the ornate castles she strolled through in Europe, the Plains peoples’ resilience, the hospitable communities in Ethiopia, and the law-making endeavors witnessed in the U.S. Capitol all get new life in her Nav’Aria series. Her most sacred journey yet, motherhood through adoption, provides her best material. Affirming that hope is eternally fruitful, her years spent awaiting parenthood inspired her most productive and meaningful work.
Nav’Aria: The Marked Heir is her first novel.
Shanna Swenson, Author of the Abundance series
Shanna loves a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart. She also enjoys supporting her fellow indie authors.
Marni MacRae and I met on Goodreads through a mutual friend of ours, JD Park. After reading her book Nameless back in February, I knew I wanted to know more about her and her amazing works. Nameless was such a beautifully written love story about a woman who (literally) lost her identity and strives to get it back - check out my review of it here http://shannaswenson.com/my-blog/february-03rd-2019 - that I had to know more about what inspired her to write it and why.
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Hi Marni, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Marni: Hi Shanna! Well, I’m a mom of 7, wife of a terrific man and like you, an author. I always wanted to write. When I was little my mother would spin tales out of thin air and I thought it was the most powerful magic. I’ve been writing for decades, but didn’t get the nerve to publish until my early forties.
Me: Wow! 7! You are one busy lady! What inspired you to write Nameless?
Marni: I wanted the challenge of something unfamiliar to me. To write a character that I had nothing in common with but could love. Eve was born of an afternoon inspiration.
Me: Which character is your favorite? Why?
Marni: I have to say Ezra. I fell in love with him and his story, it snuck up on me and I wished I had written a whole book about him.
Me: I loved Ezra too. What a great side story. Did anyone in real life inspire your character, Eve? Nick?
Marni: Not Eve, she created herself, but Nick, I have to say my husband had a bit of influence there. He is my hero, I think he is in every hero I write in some way.
Me: Aww, I would tend to agree ;-) Although, Jack and Nathan were born in my mind long before I met my husband. I used to tease him and tell him that I created him into existence LOL! What are you working on now?
Marni: Right now I’m working on a completely different genre. Young adult, a speculative fiction set in America’s future. But Treasure is being tweaked for publishing!
Me: Now, as a wife and mother, how do you get any writing done?
Marni: That’s a great question! How do I? It amazes me when any quiet moment happens. I sneak off and squeeze every drop out of it I can. Also, having been born in a large family I’m highly adept at blocking out the world. It’s one of my super powers.
Me: Haha, I wish I could do that, but I need radio silence to write or read :-/ It’s a curse I would say LOL! Now, tell us a little about your next book, Treasure! When is its debut?
Marni: Treasure was a funny thought late at night. The next day I wrote down the first line, and the pages begin to flow. It’s about a young woman who comes into a very large inheritance and a treasure hunt her benefactor left behind. It’s fun and interesting, I keep getting drug into the details of the treasure and lose track of the characters! I am excited to see it in print this summer!
Me: Oohh, sounds like fun! I can’t wait to check it out! So, what drew you to the romance genre?
Marni: Love, love, love. I’m a romantic and I feed off the build and excitement of a burgeoning relationship. But I love writing numerous genres. I have a passion for YA as well as mystery and adventure. I hope my readers enjoy the new works I will be publishing as much as they have enjoyed my romance novels.
Me: Yes, I believe most of us authors have interests in other genres as well. Now, who are your favorite authors/books?
Marni: I love Jodi Picoult, Hugh Howey, and hundreds more. My first true love was C.S. Lewis, but anyone who puts pen to paper has my respect.
Me: What do you love about writing?
Marni: I love the surprise the most. Of growing an idea and watching the characters come to life. I love when I lose myself in the writing and it transports me through no effort of my own, it grows like a child and the characters say things that make me laugh, make me cry just like my own kids. It’s an amazing blessing to do what I love.
Me: Watching the characters come into their own is what I love too. They just seem to take you away. What are you looking forward to this year?
Marni: Sunshine! It has been snowing for so long I’m afraid I will never truly thaw out. But aside from weather I am looking forward to wrapping up the three projects I have in the works and discovering how each story ends.
Thank you for having me, Shanna, and may your future be bright. I look forward to your next book!
Me: And thank you, Marni. It’s been a pleasure. I can’t wait to read more of your work as well. Lady Sun sounds like the perfect beach read for my May vacation ;-)
You can find Marni MacRae’s, Nameless, on Amazon in Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and paperback formats. It’s an intriguing tale of mystery, suspense and of course, romance ;-) Also check out her awarding winning debut novel, Lady Sun. (Click on the pictures below to open the Amazon Buy links)
Marni MacRae is an International Award winning author, who spends most of her time creating her own life story. Although writing has always been her dream, being a mother, a wife and a pioneer of mostly finished projects, she frequently writes in the dark of night whilst children/husband/animals sleep.
Raised in the woods of Idaho and gypsied about the majority of America, Marni has settled in the beautiful Northwest with the love of her life and their passel of children. Summers are spent weeding the garden and wondering where that darn cow got off to this time. Winters are spent curled up with a book in front the fire. Old school.
She is currently working on Treasure set to debut this summer. Visit her website below to learn more.
Shanna Swenson, Author of the Abundance series
Shanna loves a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart. She also loves supporting her fellow indies
I recently read Patricia D. Adams debut novel, A Secret Place of Thunder, last month. (Click here for my review on it!) It's Book one of the Patriach's Covenant Series- available where books are sold. It was a great read, of biblical proportions, and with my own Christian upbringing I enjoyed it all the more, so I wanted to ask her some questions about what inspired her to write it, what her writing life is like and what's coming next for this up and coming fellow indie!
Here's what she had to say!
Me: Hi Patty, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Patty: Hi, Shanna! I am a new indie author. I am 35 years old, a wife and mother of twin boys. I love to do crafty things, read, love TV shows and movies. I love all things Disney and Disney world and I also am a huge fan of the Winchester brothers. Above all I love spending time with family and friends. Oh, and ice cream is my favorite treat.
I did not always start out wanting to be a writer. When I was a child, I wanted to be a pediatrician. As I grew up, my ideas changed, I wanted to be a voice over for a new Disney princess, and then finally decided that I wanted to teach young children. I also went with my mother to college, and we both received our floral design degree. During the course of getting my degree, I found out I was pregnant. It was then that I began to rekindle my love of reading. I then realized that my true calling was writing.
Me: LOL! It seems most authors don't know they are going to be authors, until boom, we've published a book ;-) What inspired you to write the Patriarch's Covenant series?
Patty: About 10 years ago, I had an idea for a novel and began to flesh it out. During the process I had a dream one night. In this dream, a new idea for my novel was born. I ended up throwing out more than 40,000 words from the original manuscript to allow for the flow of the new idea. I fought with it because I felt this was a HUGE idea and didn’t know how it would be received. My own self-doubt and the message I felt needed to be heard made me torn on the idea alone. So, I started writing it solely for myself. It wasn’t until 2018 that I began to regain my faith in myself and my novel.
Me: What was it that restored your faith?
Patty: It was several things. Hard to put into words, but I will try. He gave me the idea for the novel through a dream. It was one that, I just knew immediately it was from Him. As a spiritual believer, when God speaks to you, you always just know His voice. I wrote it down, but it weighed heavily. I knew it was important and it caused me to doubt myself and my abilities to handle such an enormous task. Self doubt always get to a writer. The dream I was given changed the story of my novel greatly, so I denied it. I didn't fell I could do what was necessary. Later, when a visiting pastor of my church called out to me during his sermon and told me to believe that God is in control and that through Him I could, I began to write the story. It wasn't instant faith. Many times throughout writing, I doubted my ability and even quit writing it all together, but every time I stopped, God sent that same preacher to give me yet another message to trust and believe I can. In January of 2018, it was the third and final time I needed his message. I then began to finish the novel. It is one of His stories and I'm just an author; she who holds the pen. I finished with the help of my family and a few amazing people that I cannot be more certain God placed on my journey. I published the novel in November, and everything since the dream He gave me to now, he has led. I have not done anything but follow Him and trust that I could because of Him. Since November, I have a social media following of approximately 10,000 people, not one single doubt in my mind that He directed them to me or me to them. Testimony truths are scary things, but sometimes, they are also just as important as the message delivered from the messenger.
Me: Wow, that's truly beautiful, Patty! I have such chills! :-O Now, where did the title, A Secret Place of Thunder, come from?
Patty: All of my titles in some way refer to scripture.
Psalm 81:7 Thou calledst in trouble and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder
Me: Girl, you just gave me chills AGAIN! That's awesome! I love it! Which character of the series is your favorite? Why?
Patty: Grace is certainly one of my favorites. She is a lot like me, she is reluctant to accept her path and she fights her way through destiny. She is like so many of us who doubt our own abilities. I admire her ultimate strength and think that I aspire to be like her in that way.
Me: So, is Grace modeled after you? What about Eli?
Patty: Well, actually yes. I drew from my own experiences and struggles with my own path in life for Grace and actually many of the other characters. Not really knowing what is around the next corner but just having faith to step out of your comfort zone and believe that you will not fail. Faith enough to take that next step.
Eli and Lucas are a lot like the significant male figures in my life. They fight like my twin boys and some of their humor is even the same. They also have plenty of both of their characteristics. To me, my characters are all one big family. Eli though I drew from my husband. I know he comes off as emotional and volatile with his temper, but he is so smart and witty under that moodiness. There is so much more depth to Eli and what he has been through than what GRACE could/can see. He plays so much close to his heart. I would love to voice that later on.
Me: Ah, yes, he seems to be ;-) What are you working on now?
Patty: Currently I am working on book 2 in the series The Realm of Duality. I am so excited for it. I also have a surprise novella and a Stand-alone new adult romance novel called Breaking Pointe. Breaking Pointe is not in the Patriarchs Covenant Series. It is a little side project I work on when the Teenage drama gets too moody and broody. An outlet for being more of an Adult if you will.
Me: LOL! Nice! I look forward to checking that out ;-) Now, how many books are there going to be in the Patriarch's Covenant Series?
Patty: There are four novels in the series. I do plan to release two novellas, and a guide book. There is so much more to the story that is hidden between lines and pages that I feel a guide book may come in handy to explain in further detailing why I chose certain things and phrases and locations. I think it would just be one of those really cool things to have. Maybe even include parts of my notes and where all you can find each parable and scripture I drew from in the series.
Me: That's so cool! :-D So, what are you planning for after the series is complete?
Patty: Well, I do plan to write more. I have over fifty-eight and growing ideas for other stories that should be told. I keep them in a secret location so that when its time I can see which I want to write. Some may never see the light of day but others I think will be so fun to tell. Not all of my novel ideas are series and not all are strictly Christian.
Me: Fifty-eight?! Wow!! That's amazing!!! Now, as a wife and mother, how do you get any writing done?
Patty: It is always a struggle to wear so many hats. I love writing and creating worlds, I often get lost in the process and it makes me late. I AM NEVER ON TIME ANYMORE but as someone else says “a wizard is never late nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.” I like to think of writers as wizards because we are creatures of magic. I also help my husband out with his business doing the paperwork. Again, sometimes it takes a little longer than planned but I am always able to provide at least some support for him so that he is not as taxed with work. We are a people of many hats I guess you could say but we juggle well. I like to write when the boys are at school since the house is quiet, and sometimes at night I will work into the late hours to make sure I have time with the family. For my husband, my boys and I, it’s certainly a struggle to do it all, but it’s something we all help each other out in and are able to be there for each other. We’re all a team.
Me: LOL! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who runs late creating worlds, haha. I love that you likened writers to wizards. I'll take that! :-D Tell us a little about the next book of the series! When is its debut?
Patty: Book two is going to be more in-depth look at the spiritual realm and the crisis that occurred during the end of book one. Grace is still learning how great of a burden she has to carry and what her ultimate action plan will be all while dealing with tremendous loss to her as well as the end of some of her dreams. Grace will face many hardships still, and she will be broken and rebuilt many times on her path, but she will always grow stronger. However, I have several twists and turns amongst this path that I believe you guys won’t see coming. I hope that you are all prepared for quite the ride. It’s going to be a fun one.
I do not have a release date for book two because I am a turtle writer and am currently thinly spread with the end of school activities. I always have to plan way in advance. But I will be announcing a date soon, currently it is looking like the end of summer to mid fall of 2019. If I can write a little faster, I will for sure because I think you guys will love where this story is going.
Me: Squeee... I can't wait!! I love twists and turns. What drew you to the YA Christian genre?
Patty: I really wanted to write something that anyone of any age could enjoy and relate to. The message has such a great story line for kids and teens, but it also has a deep-seated spiritual meaning “between the pages”. It’s not hidden but, yet it is in some code for adults to decipher. It’s one of those things that naturally happened. I did not originally set out to be exclusively a Christian author. My goal was just to write the novel, but this was it’s natural fitting.
Me: Nice! Now, who are your favorite authors/books?
Patty: I have many favorite authors and books; many people influenced my writing. I have always had a passion for children’s literature, some of my favorites are Alice In Wonderland and Little Women. I also have a great appreciation for more current contemporary authors such as Jennifer Armentrout and Colleen Hoover. And then there are my fellow indie authors, who inspire me EVERY DAY.
Me: I think I may know who those are ;-) So, what do you love about writing?
Patty: To me writing is magic. I love crafting the imagination. I love making childhood free of restraining ideas, I love that writing can do that. I also love to create. Characters and the worlds they live in are among my top favorite things to craft.
Me: What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Patty: Finishing book two of course! I always have a goal to meet my best friend and our families in Disney world.
Me: That's awesome! I hope you enjoy Disney World! I can’t wait to see what's in store for book 2! Thank you for taking the time to sit with me and discuss your work. It’s been spiritual, literally!
You can find Patricia D. Adam's, A Secret Place of Thunder, anywhere where books are sold! Below is a link to her website and the Amazon link. Get this YA Christian novel now! It's a beautiful journey and now knowing Patty personally, it holds such a significant meaning.
Patricia, is a wife and mother of twin boys, loves all of the crafty things, devours books like they are life, loves TV watching, Movie watching, and Spending time with family and friends. She also loves Ice cream, starburst, the color Purple, Disney world, Is a RavenClaw, and a Big fan of the Winchester brothers. She spends most of her time sporting T-shirts, pjs and Messy buns under blankets with her dogs while creating worlds at the computer like a true introvert. Patricia Adams is the author of the Patriarchs Covenant Saga, A Young Adult four book series. A Secret Place of Thunder is her debut novel.
Shanna Swenson, Author of the Abundance series
Shanna loves a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart. She also loves supporting her fellow indies.
I want to introduce you to Caleb Wright, a friend of mine on Twitter and fellow indie author of The Odyssey of the Dragolitha series. As a lover of dragons - after all, my high school mascot was a dragon ;-) - when I saw Caleb's covers, I was intrigued to say the least. I actually won his first two books of the series in a giveaway on Twitter. I received two beautiful autographed copies in the mail and just recently finished them. (See my reviews.) After reading his fantasy novels, I decided to ask him some questions about his books, writing life and what he’s up to next!
Here’s what he had to say:
Me: Hi Caleb, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Caleb: I have actually wrote poetry since I was younger, I’d say early teens. As far as novel writing I only started in 2018, and discovered the passion accidentally.
Me: Ha, ha! Isn’t that how it always goes? What inspired you to write the Dragolitha series?
Caleb: Once I decided to write, I thought of my favorite game from my childhood, Legend of the Dragoon, a PlayStation 1 game. A lot of elements of that game along with movies such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Narnia gave influence as well.
Me: That’s great! Some great movies I must say too ;-) Which character of the series is your favorite? Why?
Caleb: My favorite is Incindia. I won’t spoil anything, but through her journey of the series she has the most dynamic character arcs and evolutions. In my mind she is the embodiment of Fire, fury, and a powerful woman.
Me: I tend to agree. She definitely has a fiery personality to go with her name ;-) Did anyone in real life inspire your characters?
Caleb: Raelynni, a character in book two is directly made for my sister and is a spin on the character Sailor moon an older anime TV series.
Me: I can see that! I definitely see the Sailor Moon side of her ;-) So, what are you working on now?
Caleb: Editing book four and five of the series, and writing a horror fantasy that actually ties in with the series. I had made a decision to cameo characters into other stories so that way backstories and side arcs could live on in their own fashions and all be part of the same universe.
Me: That’s awesome! Those side and backstories tend to sneak up on us, now don’t they? LOL! Now, how many books are there going to be in the series?
Caleb: Five books is all the Dragolitha series is, but the universal overlay of all the books is unimaginable to an amounted number just yet.
Me: Ahhh, got it! Very cool! So, what are you planning for after the series is complete?
Caleb: Already working on the horror series, a video game to go along with the books and a co-authored paranormal romance thriller. I tend to keep busy lol.
Me: I hear ya there ;-) I enjoy horror. And I’ve seen snippets of your video games, very neat, Caleb! Now, as a busy father, how do you get any writing done?
Caleb: 30 minutes of writing before going to work while daughter is asleep. 1 hour during lunch break and 3 hours of writing when daughter lays down for bed after spending time with the wife.
Me: Tell us a little about your next book! When is its debut?
Caleb: Book four; The Odyssey of the Dragolitha Faced with Destiny, is currently planned for mid-April to 1st of May.
Me: I must ask, what drew you to the fantasy genre?
Caleb: I want to be able to bend the realities of current ideals and take research and imagination and mash them together expanding the mind of the reader.
Me: What inspired the Asian theme in your books?
Caleb: When I looked up the names that meant dragon, Asian names came up. Plus my wife is a fan of K-Pop, so I wanted to dive into that sub class of thinking.
Me: Love it! Great take on it! So, who are your favorite authors/books?
Caleb: J.K. Rowling, Tolkien, and of Mice and Men
Me: J.K Rowling tends to be a favorite among us ;-) What do you love about writing?
Caleb: I can constantly build and create until there is nothing left in my soul and heart. I pour out emotion, feeling, tension, and experience into what I write.
Me: Love it! I think all us writers tend to pour our hearts and souls into what we do, which makes us not only work hard for it but makes it our true passion. Ok, final question Caleb. What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Caleb: I’m looking forward to launching my video game to pair along with the first book and to publish the last of my series along with maybe one standalone book as well. If I’m really lucky maybe two stand-alone. But we will see the success of the video game. If that does well I’ll be creating the sequel to it immediately.
You can find Caleb Wright's books on Amazon now.
(Click on the books below to be taken to their Amazon pages.)
His next book in the series, Book 4, The Odyssey of The Dragolitha: Faced with Destiny, is set to release mid April/early May.
Caleb Wright grew up in NY. He wrote poetry in school, served in the Air Force and was blessed with a daughter whom he dedicated his books to (I just love that!). His female characters were written to empower his little girl. Not only does he write books, he also builds video games too, ones that are designed after his book series! How cool is that?!
Visit his website for more details.
Shanna Swenson, Author of the Abundance series
Shanna loves a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart. She also loves supporting her fellow indies.
C. R. Pugh is the author of Hunted in the Valley and Secrets of the Valley, two great young adult novels that are packed with action, intrigue and even some romance. She's a runner, GIF queen on Twitter, wife and mother.
I recently "sat down with her" after reading book 2 of her Valley series, Secrets of the Valley, and asked her some questions about it, her writing and what this busy former teacher is up to next!
Here's what she told me:
Me: Hi CR, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
CR: I actually didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer. Books have always been a part of my life and I have a vivid imagination. During my childhood, I had terrible nightmares. My mom taught me to make up happy endings for my nightmares so they wouldn’t be scary anymore. That has always stayed with me. Even now, when I have detailed dreams, I can’t help but think about them until they blossom into interesting stories. Seven years ago, I finally took up the challenge to actually write one of those stories down.
Me: What inspired you to write the Valley Series?
CR: It was one of my strange dreams that inspired Hunted in the Valley. I’d been thinking about that dream, turning it into story, for a couple of years when a teacher-friend of mine told me I simply had to write it. I thought she was crazy. “I'm not a writer! I can’t write books!” My friend was writing a book at the time as well and I felt that small voice saying, “Huh, maybe you can write it.” I knew I would never know if I didn’t try, so I sat down one day and said, “I’m doing this.”
Me: Nice! Well, I’m glad you did :-) Which character of the series is your favorite? Why?
CR: When I started writing Hunted in the Valley, my favorite character was Ravyn. I love strong female characters, especially fighters. It’s my favorite kind of story to read. Right now, moving into book 3, I think I am loving Pierce more and more. In Hunted, there a lot of mystery surrounding his character. I’ve enjoyed bringing his personality to light and show his true colors. Thorne’s sisters were a lot of fun to write as well. They are audacious and funny. You will enjoy getting to know them!
Me: Oooh, I can’t wait to get to know more about Pierce! How intriguing! Did anyone in real life inspire your character, Ravyn? Thorne?
CR: No one in real life inspired my characters. I will admit, however, that it was Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer that was in the dream I had about this story. That’s where Thorne’s blonde hair came from.
Some of Ravyn’s traits come from me. I was always terrified of the dark and had bad dreams.
I mainly took a few of my favorite qualities from characters I enjoyed watching or reading and created two people that might mesh well together.
Me: Spike! Ah, love it!! What are you working on now?
CR: I am in the middle of writing book three of the Old Sequoia Valley series now. I’m hoping to be finished by the end of March. The title has not been decided on.and my editor will not get it until September but I’m excited about how the story is going to unfold!
Me: I’m super excited for book 3… Now, how many books are there going to be in the Valley Series?
CR: To be honest, it’s hard to say. When I first started writing Hunted, I meant for it to be a stand alone. I was a brand new writer and didn’t know what I was doing! My story just kept going, so I finished book one and started book two. I would like to say that this series will finish in three books to be a well-rounded trilogy, but I am open to four if the story takes me in that direction. Whatever I do, I won’t be rushing an ending. Readers deserve to have a fantastic finale for Ravyn and Thorne!
Me: Haha! Yes we do ;-) I’m all for more books myself :-) So, what are you planning for after the series is complete?
CR: After I finished Hunted in the Valley seven years ago, I didn’t know where the story was going, so I set it down and wrote two other books. One of them was a historical fantasy set in the Pre-Revolution American Colonies. I have a wonderful cast for this story. Think Pirates of the Caribbean meets the Patriot. The story is much lighter and funnier than the Old Sequoia Valley series. I’m excited to get back to that story.
Me: OMG! That sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to read it! Now, as a wife and mother, how do you get any writing done?
CR: I am lucky to be able to stay at home while my daughter goes to school all day. I spend much of that time writing and editing. Summertime is much more difficult while she is home all day. The early morning hours are my friend during those months.
Me: Got ya! Glad you can get that needed writing time in. Tell us a little about the next book of the series! When is its debut?
CR: In book three, Ravyn and Thorne have been reunited, but General Wolfe still remains hidden inside the compound. They must find a way to eliminate him without killing a lot of innocent people. Max, a Warrior from the hunt in book one, is stepping forward and giving us his point of view from inside of Peton now that Thorne and a small contingent of Warriors have gone back to the Valley. You will continue to see Thorne’s sisters, and I’m excited to introduce some new and interesting characters to the story. The scientist inside the compound - his name is Audrick - will be making his debut in book three as well. It was important to me to tell his side of the story, knowing what was happening inside the compound.
Right now, I am hoping that book three will be ready to launch by the middle of November, just in time for Christmas!
Me: Oohh, all good stuff!! I’m so excited!! CR- I gotta ask! What drew you to the YA genre?
CR: Harry Potter. My sister pushed those books in my hand and told me I had to read them. My love of young adult books grew from there. It helped that I worked at the middle school level most of my teaching career. We had an amazing librarian - I called her my book-dealer! She and I could talk books for hours and she always had recommendations for me. Thank you, Heather!
Another reason I write YA is because I want to write books that appeal to boys. There were a few boys in my classes that truly loved reading, but others could never find anything they enjoyed. Hunger Games and Harry Potter seemed to be the only ones they would pick up. I challenged myself to write books that would appeal to both males and females alike.
Me: That’s awesome!!! I love YA books myself, well books in general really, LOL but the Hunger Games was such a great series! Speaking of the Hunger Games and Harry Potter! Who are your favorite authors/books?
CR: The Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguirre, the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, Legend trilogy by Marie Lu, Hunger Games by Sarah Collins, and the Finishing School for Spies series by Gail Carriger have been my biggest influences and favorite reads.
Me: I plan to get into the Throne of Glass series myself, so many great books out there to read!! What do you love about writing?
CR: I love that my imagination finally has an outlet. I’ve had all these stories inside my head all these years and I never believed anything would come of them. Even if all of my stories don’t make it to publication, it’s thrilling to see my characters coming to life.
Me: Agreed!! I love letting them take control and see what happens, it’s such a good feeling. Final question- What are you looking forward to in 2019?
CR: The first thing I’m looking forward to is finishing book three of the Old Sequoia Valley series and giving my characters an amazing ending to their journey.
I’m also excited to begin a new story. My goal is to write one new book before the year’s end. I have a couple of ideas for stand-alone novels. One is a high fantasy and the other is a historical fiction.
Me: Wow, I can’t wait to see what new and wonderful stories you generate, CR. Thank you for taking the time to sit with me and discuss your work. It’s been a true pleasure!
You can find C.R. Pugh’s Hunted in the Valley and Secrets of the Valley both available now on Amazon (Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and in paperback)
C.R. Pugh grew up outside of Atlanta, Georgia where she graduated high school. After graduating college she moved to Texas and began her teaching career. Ms. Pugh never imagined becoming a writer and, in fact, hated most of her literature classes growing up!
It was the growing popularity of Harry Potter and, later on, Hunger Games that drew Ms. Pugh back into the world of fiction. Living in the North Dallas area, Pugh began working at a middle school with a fabulous library (and a wonderful librarian **my book-dealer**). Pugh was well-supplied with books that she just devoured.
It was there at that particular middle school, while teaching full time, that she began tinkering with the idea of writing her own work of fiction. Pugh's debut novel, Hunted in the Valley was published August 2018. The sequel came out February 2019. Book 3 (title TBD) is on track to be released November 2019.
C.R. Pugh is now a full time stay at home mom and writer. She loves being involved at her daughter's elementary school. Other hobbies include reading (of course),running long distance, binge-watching NCIS, and making Friends jokes about anything and everything!
Shanna Swenson, Author of the Abundance series
Shanna loves a good book that thrills, chills and warms her heart. She also loves supporting her fellow indies.
Nicole Rodrigues is the author of the Double Play Series, Pinky Promise and Always in Your Corner. She's also a busy wife and mother of three.
I recently "sat down with her" after reading her latest novel, Going, Going, Goner and asked her some questions about her latest book and upcoming new release.
Here's what she had to say:
Me: Hi Nicole, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Nicole: Hi Shanna!! So I loved to write in high school and in college. I would plot out different stories and didn’t really do anywhere with them because I was a little self conscious about them. My freshman year in college I took an English class and my professor asked me why I was a Math major instead of an English one! I started writing more and more throughout college, taking a lot of different fiction classes but put it on the back burner to become a High School English teacher. Moving down to Tennessee, I became a stay at home mom and my husband pushed me to publish now that I had so much more time to focus on it and it was the best thing I’ve ever done!! (Aside from marrying him and having our three kiddos of course ;) )
Me: Haha, exactly! So, what inspired you to write the Double Play Series?
Nicole: I love sports, I’m a huge sports fan and baseball has always been my favorite. I had the idea for such a long time and it actually was a slightly different version I started to write out. I sometimes verbally plot out loud to my husband and he told me to see what would happen if I changed it to the version it became and I think it made it so much better!! I don’t want to give too much away but let’s say I originally had only one curveball but then changed it to two ;)
Me: Wow! And what a great idea it was! Love it! (You'll have to read Curveball to know what she's talking about, wink wink) Which character of the series is your favorite? Why?
Nicole: Right now I’m halfway done with the last book and it’s so hard to choose!! Charlotte and Gabriel will always have a special place in my heart because they were my first. They each have their own amazing quality. My most loving and resilient would have to be Savannah, my sassiest Lacey. My fiercest and most good hearted would be Charlotte and lastly but certainly not least my absolute warrior would be Normani! The men, forget it!! Gabriel is my alpha a-hole with an amazingly loving heart! Jackson is just the absolute perfect doting book boyfriend. Damon is definitely my sexy, dirty man. Devin is the broken, hot headed, secret ball of mush! And lastly Nico, the persistent Hulk that brings the Queen of sass to her knees!
Me: Such great characters, Nic! Did anyone in real life inspire your character, Jackson? Savannah?
Nicole: I think bits and pieces of each character I take from real life, but for the most part their interactions and their characters are just thoughts I’ve had in my head.
Me: Well, you did a great job. They are amazing. What are you working on now?
Nicole: I am currently finishing editing Book 4, Devin’s book, Changeup and also halfway done with the last book in the series, Lacey’s, Walk-Off.
Me: Ooh! Can't wait!! How many books are there going to be in the Double Play Series?
Nicole: There are going to be five books!
Me: What are you planning for after this series is complete?
Nicole: I said I wouldn’t write another series so soon after this one but I actually have another series literally all plotted out already! I swear I just get an idea in my head and it just develops into this crazy idea that will now follow a new family. I can say that I am super excited about this one because each book is super different. I am breaking away from the sports romance for a little while and it will follow a man and his three younger sisters. Each book, a different sibling! I am soooooooo excited about it and probably will go right into writing after I’m done with book 5 in Double Play!
Me: Haha! I love when those random ideas pop up! It sounds great! Now, as a wife and mother of three children, how do you get any writing done? LOL!
Nicole: Haha good question! I write during down time, really early in the morning when everyone is still sleeping and late into the night when everyone goes to bed! I also write when my kids are in school which makes it easier. I usually barricade a little section off so the baby can crawl around and I sit with my laptop! Anyway I can! LOL
Me: Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, right? So, tell us a little about Ballers with Benefits, the next book of the series! When is its debut!
Nicole: So Ballers With Benefits releases March 22nd. It is Bella’s book, (Charlotte & Gabriel’s daughter) and it picks up three years after book 2 finishes. Her one night stand with Damon Johnson (who we meet briefly in book 2) turns into an addiction and they try to navigate their relationship without falling for one another. We all know how that goes ;). The whole gang is back and we also get introduced to Normani (Devin’s love interest in book 4) and we see the start of Lacey and Nico’s relationship (Book 5)!
Me: Squee, I can't wait!! So exciting!! What drew you to the romance genre?
Nicole: Honestly, I loved reading happily ever after books, romance has always been my go to genre, my go to movie choice, my go to everything. I LOVE love and I love writing about people getting their happily ever after!
Me: Nice! Everyone deserves a happily ever after! Who are your favorite authors/books?
Nicole: I have sooooo many but I guess Emily Goodwin, Tia Louise, Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland, Lauren Landish, Adriana Locke, Lauren Layne, Helen Hardt...so many more! There are so many amazing authors out there!
Me: I know, SO many. It's hard to list them all! What do you love about writing?
Nicole: I love the end product, obviously! LOL I love when people read my books and message me how much they loved it, and how much they loved a certain scene, how something made them cry (yes I like making people cry ;) ) I also love just the writing part. I like kind of black out as I write so it’s fun to go back and read what I wrote afterwards. Sometimes I read it over and I’m like, “Wait, I wrote this?!” LOL
Me: I know! It's like you get lost in your own world then when you read back through. You gotta give yourself a pat on the back for how awesome it came out :-) So, what are you looking forward to in 2019?
Nicole: I’m looking forward to everyone reading the entire Double Play Series because I know a lot of people are waiting until book 5 is out! I also am super excited to start writing my next series. I am NOT looking forward to saying goodbye to my Gavinwood’s and Turners though. I will cry like a baby when it’s over! LOL
The lovely Nicole Rodrigues was born in Queens, NY and later grew up in Long Island, NY. She went to Adelphi University and majored in English Education with a Creative Writing minor. She taught High School English throughout Long Island and Brooklyn, NY until relocating to the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee where she currently resides with her husband, two daughters and son. She is the author of the Double Play Series, Pinky Promise and Always in Your Corner. You can visit her website and purchase her books below. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Shanna Swenson, Author
Shanna is the author of the Abundance series. She loves a good book that chills, thrills and warms her heart.