Welcome to my blog spot- grab a cup of coffee and a good book ;-)
I met the lovely and talented, Bella Emy on Instagram and through networking in various groups began reading her work. Bella is a USA Today Bestselling Author and has her own library of amazing books on various platforms. I was lucky enough to read two of them so far and will be reading lots more before the years’ end.
Bella was able to take a few minutes out of her busy schedule to chat with me about her work, her writing life and what’s coming next for this “heart-breaker”.
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Hi Bella, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Me: It’s my pleasure having you on my blog! That’s so awesome, Bella. What inspired you to write Beneath a Starlit Sky?
Me: I just loved King of Arrogance too, OMG, Derek Mykels, grrr. I can’t wait for Between the Sheets! When will that one be out?
Me: Man, it’s gonna be so good. So, which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?
Me: Did anyone in real life inspire your characters?
Me: Haha, right! I understand completely (wink, wink) So, what are you working on now?
Me: Perfect! Our little secrets, haha!! Now, tell me about your writing process?
Me: Haha yes, understood. Hubby bought me a ton of notebooks for Christmas that I leave around the house to jot down inspiration on when it strikes! And I feel ya, no day starts without coffee. LOL! What drew you to the romance genre?
Me: Understood-100% and I agree. Romance is the best, but throwing in some tragedy is always a strength builder for the characters and the story ;-) Who are your favorite authors/books?
Me: Yes, love my BBBs and Nicholas Sparks too. What do you love about writing?
Me: Yes, it’s really the best feeling ever, being a creator! So, what are you looking forward to in 2019?
Me: Awesome. I wish you all the best and can’t wait to read more of your work in the future. It’s been a true pleasure. Thank you for joining me tonight!
You can find all of Bella's books on her website and be sure to follow her for updates, sneak peeks and more.
Bella Emy is a USA Today Bestselling Author.
She loves all books, but her favorite genre to read, as well as write, is romance. Bella loves creating heartbreaking stories that will deeply touch her readers, but in the end, a good HEA is usually the turnout.
Whenever Bella is not typing away on her computer with a nice hot cup of coffee, she loves spending time with her family and friends. Her favorite places to go are the movies, the beach, or just on a good plain old road trip. Some of her must haves are coffee, chocolate, pizza, music, & movies.
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna enjoys a good book that thrills, chills (and breaks) her heart. She also enjoys supporting her fellow indies...like Bella! :-D
I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Gabrielle G. through mutual author friends of ours on Instagram and was super excited to read Gab’s debut novel, Always & Only after it came out in March because it sounded unique and different. After the emotional rollercoaster that was this book left me craving more, I knew I wanted to interview Gabrielle and ask her about what inspired her to write this novel. (Read my review here)
(*To note- I just grabbed up book 2 in her Angels and Sunshine series- Never & Forever- SQQUEEE and guess what?! It’s on sale for ONLY $0.99 from now Thursday 6/6 until Sunday 6/9, so be sure to get your copy too!!! **Link at the bottom.
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Hi Gabrielle, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Gabrielle: Hi! Thanks for having me. So I’m French and Canadian, lived in Switzerland for thirteen years and now reside in Montreal with my husband, my three kids and a cat who hates me.
I always loved writing. I started when I was twelve to manage my teenage turmoil, but never published anything until this year except articles in magazine as I was a freelance writer for many years.
Me: What inspired you to write Always & Only?
Gabrielle: I was feeling very courageous reading romance about young adults when I was coming closer to forty. I remember thinking, what if the heroine was single again and totally freaking lost and if the Hero was the one sure of where their story goes? What if they were forty and didn’t have their shit together? What if she was the girl we all hate to be, but sometimes are anyways?
Me: Ha ha, yes, loved to hate Julia but that’s what made it unique. So, which character in your series is your favorite? Why?
Gabrielle: In the series Angels and Sunshine: Ryan. I loved to break him in Always & Only and write his story in Never & Forever. He’s sweet and savage at the same time. He has a lot of me in him.
In all my books: Dex. He’s in every book, every series, everywhere and he has such a big personality, I can make him say anything I don’t dare to mutter out loud.
Me: Nice! Loved Ryan...and Dex. Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters? Julie? Ian? Ryan?
Gabrielle: Julie is inspired by a few of my friends who went through a separation or a divorce these past years and just lost their confidence and their way, wanting to refocus on themselves and went a little boy crazy.
Ian and Ryan are just pieces of all the men I know. Nobody in particular, everybody in general.
Me: Gotcha! So what are you working on now?
Gabrielle: Right now, I’m working on Asher’s story. He’s the nephew of Ian, the son of Virginia. His book won’t be in the Angels and Sunshine series, but there will be references of it of course.
I’m also editing Often & Suddenly, book 3 of the Angels and Sunshine series, m/m romance.
Me: Great! How many books are there going to be in the Angels and Sunshine series?
Always & Only released March 12th
Never & Forever released May 15th
Often & Suddenly which is planned for a summer release.
Me: So, what’s your writing process like?
Gabrielle: I don’t really have a process. I research a lot before and sometimes during. I plan every chapter, but sometimes my characters lead me in another direction. I complain a lot and listen to the playlist I create for the book. I write better in the morning and need to drink gallons of teas to go through the day.
Me: Tell me a bit about book 2, Never and Forever, that just debuted on May 15th? I can’t wait to read it!
Gabrielle: Never & Forever is a love story, but it’s also a story about moving forward, going over your addiction and finding peace. What I loved to do in this series was to play with the point of views the reader can experience. In book 2, you see the heroes of book 1 through another lens. And what you think happened in book 1, might be a different story in book 2… and then there is book 3. They are all standalone but interconnected.
Me: Sounds great! Now, what drew you to the romance genre?
Gabrielle: I’m the kind of person who peeks at the end of a book to know how it ends up. What I like is to see how we get from A to B, not what is B. Romance is perfect for that. You know the heroes will have a Happily Ever After, otherwise it isn’t romance. So, I always know where I need to go, I mainly never know how I’m bringing my readers there except through a lot of emotions.
Me: Got ya! I don’t ever peek. I like surprises. LOL! My cousin always did that, but I can’t bring myself to do it, ha ha!! Who are your favorite authors/books?
Gabrielle: My favorite book is a French book named If I was God by Barjavel. I read it many times.
In the romance genre, I’ll one-click J. Daniels, Melanie Harlow, LJ Shen without thinking twice.
I’ve read every book by Camilla Läckberg or Fred Vargas too (suspense) and love biographies and poetry.
Me: What do you love about writing?
Gabrielle: I didn’t think I would enjoy it so much, but talking with people about what they got from my book is really interesting. Each reader has another point of view depending what they have experienced in their life, and it’s amazing to see what I intended to create and how it has been interpreted.
Me: What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Gabrielle: Releasing 2 more books, writing some more, spending time with my family and turning 40. I love my birthday, and I know this year is going to be extra awesome. If anyone knows my husband, let him know my expectations are high.
Me: Haha, Nice. I hope it’s great! Thank you for being my guest. I wish you all the best!
You can find both of Gabrielle’s books on Amazon now.
Never and Forever is just $0.99 from now until Sunday-
Get your copy here
Who am I?
A question I haven't found the answer to yet...
I don't like coffee, I have a fluffy cat and a computer, that's all you need to know, right? Do you need more details about me?
I have a great heart but a dirty mouth.
I looooove my birthday, and I still celebrate my half-birthdays.
I have a dry, sarcastic, dirty sense of humor.
I'm a mom, and mostly I like it. (see above)
My cat hates me. (Not a joke)
My mother tongue isn't English, but I speak it very well with a slight French accent.
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, like Gab :-)
I met Heather during one of my book promos on Book Funnel, so when her book Clover Creek came out, I immediately fell in love with the cover and storyline. I quickly downloaded it, and I’m sure glad that I did because it was such a sweet and funny read. I mean what’s not to love about a small town, second chance romance, right? (It’s actually book one of a four part series- of which, book 2, Hickory Falls, premiered TODAY, so be sure to grab your copy! * Link at the bottom of the interview)
After I read this adorable novel, I knew that I wanted to interview her and ask her what inspired her to write it.
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Hi Heather, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Heather: I think it was gradual, actually. I have always loved reading. And for as long as I can remember, I’d hear a song or see a person and this story would play out in my head. Weird, I know lol. Then one day, I opened my laptop and started writing them down.
Me: LOL! I hear ya! Those stories in your head won’t be quieted! Now, what inspired you to write The Sweet Southern Nights series?
Heather: I love small town romance. Like the Hallmark stuff. And I’m from the South. So I thought it would be fun to write a small town series set around places I know.
Me: I’m southern too, born and raised. Which character in Clover Creek is your favorite? Why?
Heather: Gram! Because she is modeled after my own grandmother. Some of my best memories are of the times I’d spend at my grandparent’s house.
Me: Awww. I just loved Gram and yes, I can’t totally get that and relate. Just love my Nanny :-D So Gram’s character was inspired by a real life person, what about Claire? Jayce?
Heather: Jayce was actually inspired by- don’t laugh- but my sister in law. She works at a real life diamond supplier much like Sterling’s Silver. She started at the bottom and worked her way all the way up to the top. What she does and how the whole diamond industry works has always fascinated me.
Me: That’s awesome!! What are you working on now?
Heather: I am working on Sycamore Park, book three in the Sweet Southern Nights series.
Me: How many books are in The Sweet Southern Night series?
Heather: Four books
Me: Tell us a little bit about your writing process?
Heather: Oh gosh! Well, I’m definitely a plotter. I outline my outlines lol And I know a lot of authors pace themselves by word count. I don’t. I set a goal like - Okay today I’m going to get to such and such point in the story then, I can stop. I focus more on where the story is going than the actual words.
Me: Got ya! Tell me a bit about the next book of the series, Hickory Falls.
Heather: Hickory Falls is Bennett’s story and I LOVE it. It’s probably my favorite. Korie Lawson is a coffee shop owner who reads and reviews books as a hobby. Bennett is an author. She reviews his book. He doesn’t agree with her review so he emails her and…sparks fly. It’s super cute. I love bringing the book world into my books. And it released today, June 4.
Me: OMG!! I love it already! Can’t wait to read it!!! Now, what drew you to the romance genre?
Heather: Two words: Mr. Darcy
Me: Ha, ha! Got ya LOL!! Who are your favorite authors/books?
Heather: Jane Austen, obviously lol. I love the classics. Emily Bronte, F. Scott Fitzgerald, those guys. More modernly, I like Nancy Naigle, Brenda Novak, and tons of Indie authors. I love your book, Abundance!
Me: Awww, thank you! (blush) What do you, personally, love about writing?
Heather: Writing is therapeutic for me. I love the escape. I love creating this whole new world with these people I’d love to meet.
Me: Yes, agreed one hundred percent! It’s totally therapeutic and yes, me too! Final question, Heather: What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Heather: Sooooo many things! Meeting new people. Learning more about the business side of writing. Growing. Seeing where all my hard work takes me. I’m super excited about 2019.
Me: Awesome, well thank you so much for being my guest tonight, Heather. I wish you all the best and look forward to reading book 2, Hickory Falls.
You can find Heather's novels, Clover Creek and Hickory Falls on Amazon.
Heather Michelle is a brand-new contemporary romance author and shameless coffee-holic. When she's not putting words together to create heartwarming stories about love and life, she's either curled up under her favorite blanket reading Jane Austen, watching Hallmark, or sorting through endless piles of laundry. She spends the rest of her time with her wonderful husband, four amazing boys, and two spoiled furbabies.
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 indies :-D
I met fellow author Jacob Rundle on Twitter in the #writingcommunity several months ago, when he was asking for books to review. He was one of the first male readers to read both my books and he thoroughly enjoyed them, much to my delight! :-D When I found out that he had a fantasy post-apocalyptic novel coming out of his own, I knew I wanted to check it out! Here’s my review.
I recently “sat down” with Jacob to talk about his debut novel, Augur of Shadows and find out where his inspiration came from.
Here’s what he had to say:
Me: Hi Jacob, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Jacob: I have always had stories run in my mind ever since I was a child. My mother taught me to embrace my imagination. Fantasy stories, comic books and movies have always been a major part of my life. I knew that one day I would be writing the stories in my head onto a piece of paper.
Me: That’s great! What inspired you to write Augur of Shadows?
Jacob: Honestly, as a book reviewer, I have read numerous pre-/post-apocalyptic stories, and I noticed a pattern. I wanted to write a story that was different; a story that truly showed that an entire planet was affected by a cosmic threat.
So, my story has three main characters: one who is a gay caucasian, another who is Latina, and the third is a Haitian boy. This cosmic threat poses a threat to the entire world.
Me: Yes, you definitely reflected that and it was truly unique. I enjoyed that you covered several ethnicities. Now, how many books will be in the Destined series?
Jacob: There will be 4 books, plus a pre-quel. All of the stories have been plotted out. Also, there are many other projects involved with this story. More will be revealed in time.
Me: Nice! That’s awesome! Which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?
Jacob: I love each of my main characters. However, I really love Etlina. She is a strong latina who embraces her magical heritage.
Me: Yes, she’s a fav of mine too! Just loved her sass and strength! Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters?
Jacob: Henri is inspired from me. Many of the emotional turmoil reflects many of the ones that I dealt with when I was younger. Growing up, I have always loved different languages and cultures. So, I have god family that are Haitian and Latino. I wanted to incorporate as many languages and cultures in my story.
Me: That’s great! What are you working on now?
Jacob: I am working on book 2 of the Destined Series. I am so proud of this book. Book 2 is far more emotional and the tone is darker. It’s a nice progression of the series.
Me: Ooh...exciting!!! Tell us a little about your writing process?
Jacob: My writing process is quite simple. I have an idea for a story. First off, I envision the cover of the book. Then, I plot out the story. I don’t write a vast outline. I still want my story to evolve. I push myself to write the first draft. After that, I start the editing/revision process.
Me: What drew you to the YA fantasy genre?
Jacob: Well, I do love any type of fantasy. My first book just so happens to be a YA novel. There is a time jump in Book 2, so it isn’t quite a YA story. YA stories tend to remind of my youth.
Me: Cool. So, who are your favorite authors/books?
Jacob: There are so many authors out there. I enjoy reading C.S. Lewis, Shakespere, Shayne Silvers.
Me: Yes, Shakespeare is super lovable! Now, what do you personally love about writing?
Jacob: I love putting the words on paper; seeing one’s story unfold on the paper is such a liberating experience. Also, I love seeing people read my story and taking in their input. Honestly, the entire writing process is amazing. I love it all.
Me: Ha, ha, agreed!! What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Jacob: I am looking forward to releasing Book 2 and hopefully, releasing book 3.
Me: Great! Well, thank you so much for being my guest tonight! I wish you the best in all your writing adventures!
You can find Jacob Rundle’s debut YA fantasy novel, Augur of Shadows, on Amazon
Jacob John Rundle was born on September 27, 1985, in Galesburg, IL. He attended Knox College, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Russian Language and Literature. He served eight years in the United States Navy as a Nuclear Mechanic.
After finishing his time with the Navy, he moved to New Orleans, and it is where he resides, pursuing his dream of being a writer.
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 indies.
I met Danielle Novotny on Goodreads, not long after I joined back in September of last year, in fact. Her debut novel, Remade was actually the very first indie book I ever read on my self-publishing journey, AND the first one that I blogged a review about on my blog, so regardless of the fact that her book is super awesome, has great characters and lots of action, (Check out my review of it here,) it also holds a special place in my heart. I have said before that reading all these amazing works by my fellow indies-- who’ve also become my good friends too-- makes me feel like I’m glimpsing into the author’s soul. This book is no different! Remade made me laugh, cry, gasp and even swoon. And because of that, I wanted to ask Danielle what inspired her to write it and what’s coming next for the incredible Nova squad!
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Hi Danielle, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Danielle: I’ve always been a writer. When I was younger, it was small, fictional stories (2-3 pages), and then throughout middle and high school I wrote poetry. In college I took a handful of English classes, enough to earn me a minor, and it was then that I really started to enjoy writing essays and analyzing writing.
But the big shift came about a year after I graduated from Brandeis University. I was reflecting on how many books I’ve read throughout my life, and I asked myself, “Why not try to write an actual book?” I started with an idea that I had written down a few years earlier, but it was slow going. And then… BAM! I got my idea for Remade. The rest was history!
Me: Haha, isn’t that the way it goes? So, what inspired you to write Remade?
Danielle: I’ve always been a vivid dreamer. There are even dreams from my childhood that I can still remember in detail. One night I had a dream, in a first-person view, about a young woman who was fighting aliens. She had these really cool abilities, but she seemed entirely unsure about herself. The dream skipped around – I saw six or seven scenes with her doing various things. When I woke up, the memory of the dream was so vivid that I had to write it down. And the more I wrote, the more I saw logical, plot-like connections between the scenes that took place in my dream. What I thought was originally going to be one book expanded into two, and then they became three!
The exciting part is that I haven’t even written out all of my dream-scenes yet. Remade contains a handful from that initial dream, but I have even more coming in book two and three. Aside from loving how the story has shaped up, I think my desire to finally, fully, write out those last few scenes is really motivating me to continue this series.
Me: Oh, how exciting!! It truly amazes me how many authors tell me that their books were inspired by dreams… Which character in your collection is your favorite? Why?
Danielle: I’m going to cheat here just a little bit, but Gunther and Gráinne are my favorites. These mysterious twins have shared very little about their background or how they came to know so much about spaceships, circuitry, and all things tech. They might not say a lot, but something they do behind the scenes in book two will have a BIG impact in book three!
Me: Ah, yes, the twins!! So cool! I can’t wait to read more about it! Now, did anyone in real life inspire your characters? Aliya? Caspian?
Danielle: In my first dream about my plot, it really felt like I was living out the things Aliya was doing. And even as I wrote out my ideas – and even my first few chapters – it was hard to fully separate myself from her. I even had trouble coming up with a name for her for a long time! I knew I couldn’t call her by my name, so in my notes she was “the girl” for three to four chapters. Aliya still reflects a ton of my own characteristics, but she has definitely grown into her own person.
Me: Wow, that’s incredible. So amazing to have yourself reflected in your characters. Caspian is such a great name! How did you come up with it?
Danielle: Oh boy haha. Well Caspian originally had a different name (and for the life of me I can’t remember what it was, sorry!) when I started outlining. For some reason it didn’t seem to fit the character I was creating as I wove him into the story, and Caspian sort of came out of the blue! It fit really well in a scene I’m putting in book two, which I’ve been planning since I started writing, so it just stuck!
Me: It’s perfect!!! I love it!! Now, I assume you’re working on book two now?
Danielle: Yes, I’m working on the sequel to Remade. This work in progress has a title and a cover, but I’m keeping those secret for now! I also have an idea for a dystopian novel that’s been rolling around in my head for a few months now. I have most of an outline for it, but aside from that, I’m not actively writing it yet.
Me: Secrets. Ahhh... the suspense is killing me! When are you hoping to release it?
Danielle: I was originally hoping to release book two in the fall, but because writing is still slow-going with this new job, it’s looking more like a winter release right now.
Me: I understand. It’s hectic trying to work two full time jobs, but I love it and wouldn’t change a thing! So, tell us a little about your writing process?
Danielle: My writing process is a little all over the place, haha. I had most of an outline for Remade when I first dove into writing it out, but the middle and tons of smaller details appeared on the page in the spur of the moment. I even jumped around writing a chapter at the beginning, then skipping to the end, and then going back to another point in the book. I’m trying to be much more methodical and chronological in writing out book two. Now, I’m working from a full outline for the book, and while smaller details still come to me as I’m writing out the chapter, following the outline helps me keep my thoughts organized. The end of this book, however, is my exception to the chronological writing rule. I’ve seen those few scenes so many times in my head that I already have the last few chapters already written.
Me: Haha, yes, I think every writer has a different approach! Whatever works, right? Now, what drew you to the space opera genre?
Danielle: When picking a sci-fi subgenre there are quite a few paths you can take: cyberpunk, space opera, alien invasion, climate fiction – and tons more. I knew that Remade wasn’t pure science fiction because I don’t have all the nitty-gritty details about how space travel occurs or tons of futuristic weapons explained in great detail. As I conducted my subgenre research, I came across this description, “Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking.” It was a great fit because I do have all of those elements without the deep dive into physics and science.
Me: Yes, VERY fitting, in fact! Who are your favorite authors/books?
Danielle: I have quite a few! A longtime favorite has been The Host by Stephenie Meyer. The subtle alien takeover was such a neat concept to me when I first read it, and then the identity crisis that Wanderer and Melanie work through was really powerful. And then I adore the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. Despite writing a fantasy complete with magic, fae, and other mystical creatures, Maas made each character a complete and relatable person with a truly compelling plot. Another great one is Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I was completely blown away by her writing style in book one of the series – it was like nothing I’d ever read! And finally, the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown. Think Hunger Games taking place on Mars with epic space-knights. I’ll definitely try to channel his creativity as I write parts of book three.
Me: Yes, I loved The Host, such a unique idea… and I see now I have a few more reads to add to my TBR pile!
What do you love about writing?
Danielle: I love being creative. I’ve always loved crafting, reading, and writing, and being an indie author really rolled all three of those elements together for me. The creativity of coming up with my own story… rereading what I had written and surprising myself but what I had put together… and designing my book and cover to look the way I imagined it. It really was an incredible moment when I unwrapped my first copy of Remade and knew that I had done it. I’d taken a step towards becoming like one of the authors who had inspired me while I grew up.
Me: Aww, yes, I agree. Such a profound and surreal moment in time to see your work “come to life”.
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Danielle: A lot! It’s already been a big year for me – both in writing and non-writing activities – and I have a lot more planned. I’m hoping to have book two out before the end of the year, and I’ll be attending an authors and artists convention in August that I’m really looking forward to. And who knows what else will pop up along the way!
Me: How exciting!! Well I wish you the best in your writing…and non-writing… adventures :-D ! It’s been a real pleasure. Thank you so much for joining me and being a guest on my blog! And happy writing! I can’t wait for book 2.
You can find Danielle Novotny’s Remade, an action-packed sci-fi adventure with elements of Frankenstein meets Nebula, where books are sold. Find the Amazon link below!
Danielle Novotny grew up reading all genres of fiction and has always loved writing. Inspired by these stories, she began her writing career in 2016. Her debut novel, Remade, was published in August of 2018, and she is currently working on the sequel.
Danielle was born in New Jersey, lived in California for a decade, and then returned to New Jersey for several years before attending college at Brandeis University where she pursued psychology, English, and legal studies. When she's not writing, Danielle works as an event marketing manager during the week and as a cheesemonger on the weekend.
You can follow her on Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram and Facebook.
Shanna Swenson, author of the Abundance series
Shanna loves a good book that chills, thrills and warms her heart. She also enjoys supporting her fellow indie authors.
I met Joshua Grant through Goodreads and became a member on his amazing indie author supporting website www.diabolicshrimp.com. I found his books to sound thoroughly intriguing and entertaining -- and being a fan of all things horror-- I decided to read Pandora back in December, the first book in his heart-pounding The Organization series. (Check out my review on it here.) After reading this thrilling tale, with all the surprise elements, horror and action of The Thing and Dead Space, I wanted to “sit down” with him and ask him what inspired it.
Here’s what he had to say:
Me: Hi Joshua, tell me a little about yourself? When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Joshua: Oh gosh, a dangerous thing when asking a writer to tell you his story! :) I’m a crazy guy who loves working with kiddos, playing video games, and occasionally writing. I’ve had a pretty adventurous life so far with things like sailing the ocean and surviving a flash flood, but I really just love people and laughing and experiencing life together. Not sure I ever really knew I was going to be a writer (maybe even still haha!). My middle school English teacher left some nice comments on one of my short stories that made me think ‘hey, maybe I can write something decent.’ I then just wrote for the fun of it ever since. I quit a lot along the way but always got that writer’s bug back. I just love imagining stories when I run out of stuff that entertains me and decide to write it all down.
Me: Haha, that seems to be the going answer… We don’t know we’ll be writers...until we are!
So, what inspired you to write The Organization books?
Joshua: A lot of things came together at the right time for The Organization. I always loved things like Resident Evil and The Thing growing up (even though I’m a big scaredy cat) and I wanted to capture the gritty feel, creepy but fascinating creatures, and hapless heroes of those types of things. After playing a game called Dead Space (a friend made me do it), I had this nightmare that became the basis of Pandora, although it was set in space. Right at that same time, I took a cruise for the first time and thought that’d be the perfect interesting setting for the book that’s both isolated but also within the reach of everyday people as opposed to my original space idea.
Me: Yes, I’m a huge fan of horror and love both those movies. Hubby has played Dead Space many times, and I would watch along as if I were watching a movie, so entrancing! Those things would creep me out when they jump out of the vents and such. It was definitely not a game you could play alone or at night, haha! I saw elements of it in Pandora for sure.
Now, which character in your Organization series is your favorite? Why?
Joshua: Yeesh! That’s a tough one! I love all my characters (even the horrible ones). Coby is a kid in Jericho, and I love his dynamic with Thomas, his stepbrother since it highlights a lot of the moral struggle that The Organization series is all about. All of the characters in Pandora are really near and dear to my heart, but I loved setting up everything between Aubrey and Julian. All of my characters in The Organization are survivors in more ways than one, so making Aubrey vulnerable and kickbutt at the same time was really hard but I like how it all turned out.
One of the things I really love about writing this series is making my creatures in each book a character. Even though it’s really creepy, I enjoyed getting to highlight Watcher’s dark mind and showing the runoff dangers of unchecked evil.
Me: Yes, Aubrey was awesome…and Julian too! You did a great job defining them! And I LOVED getting Watcher’s POV. It was so unique and entertaining! Did anyone in real life inspire your characters?
Joshua: In a roundabout way. I never write someone into a character directly. I’m not a good enough writer to do that well honestly. In Pandora, Julian is a mercenary who is trying to get enough money to get his younger brother Ricardo out of a life of slums and drug lords. They’re named after two kiddos I support from El Salvador. Aubrey’s last name is for a friend of mine and his family. He passed from cancer shortly after publishing that book, so I wanted to honor him through some of her character and her struggle. She’s also a bit of me though since I lost someone I really loved and slowly had to piece myself back together (that’s also sort of the central theme in Pandora as well).
In Jericho, there’s this kick butt cop named Angela who heads to this mountain town to find her brother. She’s named after my sister and some of their sibling dynamic is based on that. So I guess…yes? Haha!
Me: LOL! I think we tend to write a bit of ourselves and loved ones, subconsciously, into our characters ;-)
What are you working on now?
Joshua: I sort of put myself in a hole by publishing the start to about 7,000 series! :) I’m hard at work kicking out Silly Tales from Albanon, a quirky light hearted collection of short stories in a fantasy world that are all connected and build towards a twist ending. That’ll be published in a month, so I’m in the final production phase on that one. I’m almost (fingers crossed) finished writing the rough draft for The Sixth Ascendant, the second novel in my Ascendants trilogy. I’m also several chapters into Icarus, the third novel in The Organization, as well as Axiom, the follow up to Nexus.
Me: Wow!! You are on a roll!! And here I thought I was busy, LOL!!
Are there going to be more books in the Organization series?
Joshua: Oh yes! The Organization was always meant to be four books long: Pandora, Jericho, Icarus, and Babel. The first three are sort of standalone stories (they’re all connected, some more subtly than others). They all build towards the fourth one that pulls them all together. Each title is connected to an ancient story that is the heart of the moral struggle happening within it. It’s basically like building a house of cards that I’m going to pull down in the fourth one!
Me: That’s awesome!! I can’t wait to read them all!
Now, as a busy teacher, how do you ever get any writing done?
Joshua: Haha! I haven’t quite figured that one out yet! These days I just guest teach to still be involved with my degree, and I work with kiddos at church and at camp, so I get a decent amount of time to write. I’m kinda a night owl so I do a lot of writing while burning the midnight oil (it’s especially creepy when I’m writing one of my horror books).
Me: Oh, I’m sure and a great time to write horror tales too ;-)
Tell me a bit about your new book, Nexus, that just released in February. How many books will be in the series?
Joshua: Nexus is like the weird mash up between the meaningful tones of my fantasy series and the intense horror scenes of my horror series. I was kinda going for the emotional punch of The Giver meets the actiony chase scenes of The Terminator. I was listening to one of the world’s lead developers of robotics one day and he talked about how human beings aren’t special which I fundamentally disagreed with. I started thinking about what makes us special, which is actually more of a difficult question than I thought. I think I laid it out pretty well in Nexus. 15 year old Jonah is surviving in the horror of a post apocalyptic world controlled by killing machines, but he’s not entirely human. He might be my favorite character I ever created, but that’s always hard to say. It’s an emotional book and definitely the deepest thing I’ve ever written. Nexus is a trilogy, followed by Axiom and eventually Confluence.
Me: Sounds intriguing! I can’t wait to check it out! What drew you to the horror genre?
Joshua: I never expected to write a horror book (let alone several). Growing up with things like Resident Evil and Phantoms, I always loved the weird creatures and how close people could get while trying to escape them. It was interesting to me how dire situations highlighted the best and worst that humanity had to offer and thought that would be the perfect place to have this larger moral argument. It was all about trying to capture this feeling of true good versus the different shades of evil. I also just love creature features and eventually ran out of them so I decided to write my own.
Me: Nice! I agree! And I just love a good scare! Now, who are your favorite authors/books?
Joshua: I actually started reading late in life so that list is a little short. I’m a huge movie and video game buff so a lot of my influence comes from those. Lately though I’ve fallen in love with reading! There are three authors I will always have to come back to. Lois Lowry is the best author in existence. She doesn’t have a lot of plot, but her writing worms its way into your heart and sticks there. Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson) is just incredible. And the biggest influence on my writing has to be S.D. Perry who does a fantastic job making a heart pounding thriller!
Me: Sounds like I have some authors to check out ;-) So, what do you love about writing?
Joshua: As much as I love movies and video games, books have the greatest power of any medium to make you feel something. You can take more time in a book to explore meaningful topics. Writing has changed me on a profound level and allows me to feel a deeper connection to the world. I also love putting twists in all of my stories. It’s like a surprise birthday and you can’t wait to see the reader open their presents.
Me: Haha, I love that! It’s a great way to describe it!
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Joshua: There’s so much to look forward to these days I’m having trouble keeping up! One of the number one things I’m looking forward to seeing this year is the SpaceX Starship test flight. It’s a revolutionary rocket that can potentially take 100 people to Mars and will open up space to the masses and they’re testing its prototype at the end of this year! I’m also looking forward to seeing them finish off the pointless Star Wars trilogy so we can get back to the cooler side Star Wars stories! :)
Me: Haha yes! Star Wars and The Avengers: Endgame (premieres tonight) are two I’m looking forward to myself as well as this last season of GOT :-D!
Well, thank you so much, Joshua, for being my guest tonight! It’s been a pleasure and I wish you all the best in your writing career.
You can find all Joshua Grant’s books on Amazon. He’s a fantasy, science fiction and horror writer.
Joshua Grant is a self-proclaimed Bond villain and a thousandaire philanthropist (like a billionaire philanthropist, just with a lot less money). He has survived a flash food, encountered numerous bears, and sailed the ocean blue. Josh loves to read, write, play video games, and occasionally read up on the crazy science that’s happening in the world, but most of all he loves just getting people together to love, laugh and grow alongside each other. Currently, Josh makes a living teaching and working with kids in various environments, with the occasional novel always in the works.
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.
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.