1. Your first novel Nine While Nine is a beautifully told dark fantasy surrounding the lore of the fae. What inspired you to write it?
A: First of all, thank you so much for the compliment. Being a fan of your work makes this an awesome compliment.
Nine While Nine all started with a dream. I was having a continuing series of dreams about the people, places, and situations that take place in the books. At the very beginning, there was a night I woke in a state of half-consciousness and heard words whispering in my head. I wrote down what was to become the Legacy of the Nine at about 3:00 am on a scrap of paper I found on my nightstand. I couldn’t shake it and it just snowballed from there. I absolutely fell in love with the realm of Tiarnas and the beings I was meeting in the dreams. I had to write it all down, so I wouldn’t lose any of it. What I found most exciting was that their world was spilling over into ours. That the Fae were returning. The dreams that Isabeau has in the books are based on the dreams I experienced.
2. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
A: Yes! I just wrapped up a super-secret horror anthology project that I can’t say anything about, except that it’s spooky and dark. After I finished that, I got back to work on Twelve Turnings, the next installment in The Nine While Nine Legacy series, and simultaneously started a spin-off YA dark fantasy called Neverly. Once those two are wrapped up, I’ll be getting back to a vampire novel I began two decades ago that has been screaming at me from my closet where all the notes and outlines are tucked away.
3. Wow, I can’t wait for this. Another good question is, what was the hardest part of the journey to becoming a published author?
A: Confidence and fear—I’m my own worst enemy. There is always, always, that underlying fear that it’s just not enough, that I can make it better. So, I tend to revise and revise past the point that I should be handling the MS anymore at all. Even though I’m well aware that those thoughts are a hindrance and creativity killer, they are still there and a constant inner battle.
Also, time. I’m a wife, mom, and have a job aside from writing, plus I take classes constantly, so etching out chunks of dedicated time is always a struggle.
4. What kind of books do you like to read?
A: I love to read just about everything and anything, all dependent on my mood at the time. Except instruction manuals. They don’t make the list at all. I also refuse to read within the genre in which I’m currently writing. I hate the feeling of comparing my words and ideas to another author, and I never want to be accused of “borrowing”.
5. Who is your favorite writer?
A: So many! It’s a super long list, but a few are Stephen King, Anne Rice, Signe Pike, Neil Gaiman, Nora Ephron, Maggie Stiefvater…again, I could go on and on….
6. You are a fellow coffee drinker. What makes the perfect cup of coffee?
A: Freshly ground beans are the trick and a high-quality roast. My current favorite coffee brands are Frothy Monkey Coffee, and Bones Coffee. I also just discovered that having a thermal carafe coffee maker is far more optimal than the traditional glass pot. You never get the scorched taste.
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If you are into the paranormal, haunted houses, and dark family secrets you will definitely want to check out author Maghen Connolly’s novel, Blake Manor. You will also want to hear about some real-life paranormal encounters she experienced.
#1. I’m so glad I met you on Instagram. I just started your debut novel, Blake Manor, and it is such a mysterious and layered read. What was your inspiration?
First of all let me start by saying thank you for reading my book and saying it’s a mysterious and layered read. It brings me such joy to see others enjoy my book.
I have always been drawn to the supernatural since I was a child, even in the TV shows and movies I would watch over and over again. Whether it be Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Xena the Warrior Princess, or the classic horror movies like Dracula and The Haunting. I was always drawn to the misunderstood character, the one that was either damaged in some way or had to face unforeseen obstacles in order to grow. I always wanted to write a book about a young woman trying to discover who she was, something I think all young women have an issue with at some point, I know I did. Then I wondered, what if it was more layered? What if it wasn’t just discovering who she was, but what she was? I have always been fascinated with witches, and the Salem witch trials was something that I always felt a strong connection with. Two years ago I went to Salem for the first time, sat down by a cemetery, and I just imagined Kyra and what she would be like. I bought a notebook from a drugstore and I just started writing the prologue, after that I needed to find out what happened next. Then somehow I created this world with characters that are based in the real world, dealing with real-world issues but with a supernatural spin. I feel in this book there is at least one character that you can look at and go, ‘hey that’s me.’ At least that’s what I hope it does, I know it does for me. I guess my biggest Inspiration for this book all boils down to wanting to give a voice to what it feels like when you’re struggling to find your place. I struggled quite a bit with that myself, so writing Kyra was a real labor of love for me.
#2. Name some of your favorite books and what elements they have in common?
Oh God, that’s a hard question for me. I am a huge book lover ever since I was a teenager, I have basically read anything I can get my hands on.
I have to say one of my favorite books was Stephanie Meyers Twilight. I loved the vampire aspect and how she turned what was always written about vampires on its end and gave it a new, refreshing take. Also, her book made me realize that all the stories I always wrote could be something one day. She was the first author that I saw make a real success out of writing that kind of genre before then I never realized that people would want or be interested in that. It also ignited my love for reading that I still have to this day.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is an absolute favorite of mine. I still read the Sherlock Holmes books and short stories over and over again. I always feel like I can get lost in his world. Whenever I read his books I was always amazed by how Sherlock came up with the answers and always got the bad guy. I also appreciated that he was a flawed character who had his own demons. I definitely think my characters have some of their own inner demons that they also try hard to suppress as he did.
Parnell Hall has been a favorite author of mine since I was a little girl. I picked his book, Cozy, from the library, and ran home to read it, not realizing that it was for an older audience. I loved how he wrote a mystery, how everything always flowed seamlessly from one chapter to the next. He always had a way to make you feel for the characters and make them almost jump off the page. He gave them such a humanity, and I found myself laughing out loud and rereading lines because I was so entertained. With my novel I tried to have some of that lightness, I never wanted my characters to take themselves to seriously. I think a good dose of humor, even in a darker book, has ways of adding more depth to the characters.
I could keep going but then this interview would be about 100 pages. I have so many authors I respect and look up to there is no way I could name them all. I’m just so very honored to be among them. To have the words I wrote be published alongside such talented people.
#3. Halloween just passed so I need to ask what is your favorite candy?
I definitely have a sweet tooth, although not as big as my fiancé; I think he can eat a tub of candy, Halloween or not. For me I love Snickers, I can eat those everyday. When I write I tend to lose track of time, so I have a hidden stash by my desk. I also love Twix and Swedish Fish, those I can eat any moment of the day.
#4. Blake Manor deals in the suspenseful and paranormal. Have you ever had a paranormal encounter?
I have in fact, more then one actually. I believe some people are more open to ghosts and spirits, and perhaps they can just feel things more than some other people can. My grandfather died when I was 13 years old, and I saw him a couple of days after he passed away, walking from his bedroom to the kitchen. I stood there, shocked, and a moment later he was gone. I didn’t feel scared, I could feel he was at peace, and I think he wanted me to know that. Another time is when I was 18, my father passed away. Shortly after, I was cleaning up after a Christmas party, and I kept hearing this ringing coming from the living room. I thought someone might have left their phone behind, so I looked but couldn’t find anything, even though it never stopped ringing. Eventually, I moved a sheet that was on the floor, and I found a little Jesus and Mary Statue that was my father’s. It had been broken for years, but he never thew it away. I grabbed it in my hand and started shaking, because the music mechanism inside was what was broken. I turned it on it’s side and the switch was in the off position. In that moment I could feel him near me, accompanied by the smell of his aftershave that lingered in the house for the next two weeks. He came to me one night near the end of that in a dream and told me goodbye, after which, the smell of his aftershave was gone. It was very emotional for me, but I’m also so happy I had that last moment with him.
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I got to talk with AJ Vrana about her debut novel, The Hollow Gods. I also learned a little about her. Not only is she a writer, but she has her Ph.D. and is skilled in martial arts. She also cared about my ear ticking so I think I’m getting a girl crush.
1. Congratulations on your upcoming novel, The Hollow Gods from The Parliament House. What can you tell us about the story and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you so much! Man, my heart literally skipped a beat when I read this question. It is so wild being interviewed! The Hollow Gods is a contemporary surrealist fantasy that takes places in an isolated little forest town called Black Hollow. The town is rich with folklore, and there’s one particular figure the people are terrified of: the Dreamwalker. She’s kind of like their version of the headless horseman from Sleepy Hollow, but she spirits away young women from Black Hollow and possesses them! Because
of this, the town is in a constant state of vigilance, and violence is not an uncommon occurrence because of how fiercely the townsfolk believe the Dreamwalker is a threat to them.
The book itself is structured around three narrators from very different walks of life. One is a depressed college student struggling to find her way; she doesn’t know what she wants in life or if her goals are really worthwhile. It’s a feeling so many of us have in our late teens and twenties, and I really wanted to convey that feeling of being adrift with my main protagonist. The second narrator is a social outcast with a potty mouth and a malevolent presence haunting him—and that’s all I’m going to tell you about that! The third narrator is an oncologist who just lost a young patient and wants nothing more than to get away, so he comes to Black Hollow while on mental health leave. In
one way or another, all three of these characters get tangled up in the fable of the Dreamwalker.
They’re all trying to understand the history behind the legend while stumbling to make sense of their own lives. Things get pretty hairy, however, when fears of the Dreamwalker’s return start to get out of control, the town grows violent, and our three narrators find themselves in the middle of it.
The Hollow Gods is largely inspired by folklore. At the time I wrote the first draft, I was living in Sapporo, Japan, and I had a lot of time on my hands. I was researching Japanese and Serbian folklore for my PhD and drew a ton of from those two traditions. Being Serbian myself, I sort of cherry-picked aspects of folk culture that I loved. The Dreamwalker, for example, is loosely based on the Kukeri warriors. They’re sort of like shamans from Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, parts of Romania and Greece. I also drew from Serbian wolf lore. There’s an old folk belief that when a woman lost several children through miscarriage or stillbirth, it was because witches had stolen the child’s soul.
When the next child was born, they’d be named ‘Vuk’, which is the Serbo-Croatian word for wolf. Wolves were revered for their ferocity, and people believed they were the only thing witches were too frightened to attack. The name Vuk is extremely popular, though few people realize it’s a kind of totem meant to protect them from evil! Two very important characters in the novel are based on this spiritual connection between wolf and man found in Serbian folklore. That all said, a good portion of my world-building around spirits is based on Japanese folklore, and I’ve been told that some parts of the book are reminiscent of Celtic mythology around Halloween and Elementals.
2. The first chapter of a novel is the hardest for me to write because I keep second-guessing where to begin. Which part of writing your book was the most challenging for you and why?
100% the first third. Juggling three narrators and setting up the conflict was a serious pain, and when I was done, I found myself staring at a very slow, overwrought first act. It was tiresome in its pacing and packed with too much information. I think I suffered through three or four edits to cut it down to something I was happy with. To give you an idea, my first draft of the novel was around 130k words. My final draft was 97k words. And yet! None of the major plot points and structure had changed. I cut over 30,000 words of exposition without any major restructuring. I also rewrote my first chapter 6 times!
3. What was your favorite book as a child? What book might we find on your bedside table today?
Well, here’s a doozy: I hated reading as a child. I didn’t get into reading until my undergrad, and I mostly blame our education system for that. The way books are chosen, assigned, and studied in elementary and high school was so discouraging for me that it turned me off reading for pleasure. It wasn’t until I took a Japanese literature and film course in university that I discovered a love of reading.
Currently, I’m reading Chantal Gadoury’s Winter Dream, and under that you’ll find V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light and Katherine Arden’s The Girl in the Tower.
4. My ear makes this weird ticking sound. My parents took me to all kinds of specialist as a child, but doctors could never pinpoint the reason. Tell us something strange or unusual about you?
Oh gosh, that must have been so frustrating! Hopefully you got accustomed to it and it doesn’t bother you now! I guess one strange thing about me is that I can’t feel temperature in my shins. I used to train in martial arts quite intensively. We’d practice roundhouse kicks on heavy bags, and the attrition deadens the nerves in your shins and the tops of your feet. It makes kicking less painful but if you stuck a block of ice on my leg I wouldn’t really feel it!
Yeah, I’m used to the ticking. I never knew that about roundhouse kicks. Good to know because my son is in karate. Thank you so much for answering some questions.
Check out her AJ’s links below and make sure you add The Hollow Gods to your tbr. Happy Labour Day!
Links about me:
Official website: http://thechaoscycle.com/
I recently had the chance to connect with author M. Ainihi. After reading her first book, I can’t wait to read the second.
1. You have written an amazing debut novel, Rise: A Blood Inheritance Novel and Lost, its sequel. What inspired you to write this story?
I can’t recall exactly what inspired me to write The Blood Inheritance Quartet. I have been working on the four books for quite some time.
Like many legends, I find the mythology pertaining to Jinn and Genies fascinating. As a child, I first encountered genies in movies such as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. It was probably only about six or seven years ago that I received a paperback of Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar by Robert Lebling, soon after which I read One Thousand and One Nights.
I should note that I am no expert in real-world Jinn. The race within the world of Sumir where my stories take place, have their own unique mythology.
2. You are also a mom and writer. How do you balance your writing time?
I try to write from about 10:00 am to 2:00 pm every day. Balancing my writing time has been a challenge this summer and once school is back in full swing, I will begin earlier.
It is also necessary to set aside a certain amount of time each week for marketing, formatting, updating my website, working with illustrators, cover designers and editors. In order to make time for this, I usually get up and start my day two hours earlier than the other members of my household.
Luckily, my family support’s me unequivocally and I have discovered some amazing helpful writing communities.
3. How do you deal with writer’s block?
If I get stuck on a certain part of a chapter, I usually take a long walk and listen to some music. If that doesn’t work, I do some creative activity related to my stories such as coming up with concepts for new illustrations, cover designs, or updating my website pages.
4. What advice do you have for a first-time writer?
I believe as a first-time author, finding the right editor is key. There is real value in collaboration, and I don’t think that I would have had the confidence in my first manuscript to publish without the help of my editors and proofreaders.
Of course, we don’t all have the same writing process, so my tip is to find an editor that inspires you. Having the right editor will help you improve your overall manuscript, while also maintaining your vision.
5. As a kid I went to antique shops with my parents and rubbed every bottle I saw in hopes of discovering my Genie and being granted three wishes. What would your three wishes be?
That’s a tough question…
I would wish for world peace or at least a world where people were kinder to one another.
I would like to have a photographic memory.
Also, having more time in the day without needing more sleep would be nice.
Find out more about her at https://mainihi.wordpress.com/2019/05/09/castles-and-updates/
Or pick up a copy of Rise: A Blood Inheritance Novel! Amazon
I’m happy to say Alexa Whitewolf dropped in!
Alexa Whitewolf is a writer& blogger and author of fantasy romance, young adult & paranormal romance like:
Just to name a few. I just started reading Alexa’s first book, Avalon and am already hooked. She is incredibly talented and even has a cool dog.
1. You have written so many bestselling books. I guess I’ll start by asking you what made you want to be a writer? Where do your ideas come from?
I think I’ve always been attracted by the idea of creating my own worlds. Growing up, I was an avid reader from a young age, and I loved getting lost in the pages of books. At some point when I moved to Canada, reading wasn’t enough anymore, and I craved somewhere to channel all my emotions, and dreams into. Writing started off more as a way to solve my own problems – with my youngest character, Freya from The Sage’s Legacy – and then evolved from there. I think the moment I really decided being a writer was it for me, was when I got back to writing after a hiatus, in university. The complete exhilaration of words pouring onto the page, writing by the candlelight in the middle of the night…. Nothing compares to the joy writing brings me, and hearing back from readers who also enjoy the stories and get lost in them. That, more than anything is what really keeps me going.
As for the ideas, I think I’ve got two brains running in parallel or something. One part of me is so logical (I’m a Capricorn!) and focused on being a good employee, etc. And then the other part of me is always engaged in some sort of mental tug-of-war with one (or more) of my characters, each demanding their little moment of spotlight and a story being told. A lot of times, an idea will come from a conversation, or a word I read. But more often than not, it’s in dreams I get the ideas. I’ll wake up from something incredibly vivid, grab my dream journal and pour out all the details.
2. Can you tell us a little about the Avalon Chronicles series and about its upcoming conclusion, Atrox?
Of course! The Avalon Chronicles was my first series written as an adult. It’s basically a retelling of the Arthurian legend, but set in the modern world in Avignon, France. Only rather than focus on Arthur, Guinevere, and the lot, you’ll see instead the untold story of the Lady of the Lake. She’s one of the most obscure characters in the legend, and I’ve always been a fan of her! So this entire series is basically me taking than fandom and doing it justice J
Vivienne and Sébastien are the two main characters, with a love story that spans centuries – filled with pain, as well. When she reincarnates in the modern world, Vivienne doesn’t remember her past as the Lady of the Lake, but her enemies do, and intend to get vengeance. Sébastien, her guardian from the past, is there to help her out, but nothing is as easy as it seems.
And the thing is, though it’s got that element of instalove at the beginning, the journey is nowhere easy for them. I wanted Vivienne to have conflict both internally and externally, but not just with her enemies, also with herself and in her love life. And you really see that journey in the pages of Avalon, as she comes into her own, both her and Sébastien. And you see them grow together, as well as peek into the past through flashbacks. Once that basis is set in book 1, you get to have more fun in books 2 and 3 with the rest of the gang – Merlin, Guinevere, Arthur, etc.
As for Atrox – he’s my favorite! You meet him first as Alistair in Avalon Dreams, and that’s really how his story comes about. The entire series was meant to be a standalone, but then… Well, Alistair wouldn’t leave it be haha. So his story evolved, and then book 2 and 3 were written, but even throughout it’s all so focused on Viv and Seb that you don’t get to see his conclusion. So Atrox is really that – Atrox’s journey to love, but also to himself. It takes place half in the Fae realm, and half… Well. I won’t give up too much, but there’s tons of action and some swoon J
3. If you had to be stranded on a deserted island with a character from one of your novels which one would you choose and why?
ATROX! 100%!! He’s my favorite ever haha and I know I wouldn’t get bored with him! He’s got snarkiness and sarcasm, but deep down he’s a big teddy bear. And knowing he’s lived for millennia, has seen sooo much stuff, he’d be an invaluable source of stories and fun. I would never get bored with him haha.
4. What advice do you have for new writers?
Forget about the publishing process, the edits, the queries, the marketing. Just WRITE. Nonstop. Every free moment you have. Don’t make excuses, just do it. Let the words pour onto the page, and just keep going until they stop. You’ll have all the time in the world to polish the manuscript, figure out the queries, figure out if you want to self-pub, etc. But in the beginning, just write. Write and write some more.
Also, don’t tell people you’re writing a novel – unless it’s other writers. I’ve found family and friends can be a 50/50 on the subject, at least in my experience. And the pressure of actually having something finished may get to you. So just keep it to yourself, and write. Then if you need advice, nowhere better than the writing community to turn to! Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
But once the book is done… Then research marketing. Don’t throw your money at people who’ll do it for you, but do it for yourself. Nothing will ever serve you as well as you can serve yourself.
5. Finally, as a fellow coffee addict, how do you like your coffee?
Woohoo!!! I love my caramel macchiatos with extra EXTRA shots of espresso – I mean, 4 or 6. Especially mid-week. I work a full-time job on top of writing, and it’s not the easiest, so I need all the caffeine I can get! But if it’s not a handcrafted beverage, I usually go for black with 4 sugars J Enough to get me hyped up hehe!
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There are a couple things you should know about Carla Vonzale Lewis. She likes her martini’s shaken…never stirred and her debut novel, Lineage releases today!
So cool you have you on my blog. Let’s get right into this. They say a writer needs an elevator pitch. Give us the elevator pitch for your novel, Lineage?
Oh, boy, you went right for the jugular with this question! Okay, I will try.
A woman down on her luck and needing to find a job, takes a position at an insurance company only to learn her new employers are sacrificing people.
What inspired you to write Lineage?
I use to work in a call center. I don’t recommend this job for ANYONE! Once in a blue moon, the major players would come to our center for a center wide meeting. I use to wonder what they did all day. Like what exactly was their job. So in answer to that question, I wrote my first book based on a woman getting a job in a call center and learning her employers were sacrificing people. Morbid, I know. But I did warn you NOT to work in a call center.
If you had to choose 3 songs to be included in the Lineage soundtrack, what would they be? And Why?
Madness by Muze because yes, there is a healthy dose of madness in the story.
Keep the Streets Empty by Fever Ray, because it sets the right tone for the battle scenes. Nicole is discovering her power and the power of others and this song would be the slow motion version of her brain making those discoveries.
Change by Deftones because it has that sensual rhythm that is also present in the story.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Oh, it definitely energizes me! I love living in my story worlds. J
Finally, do you prefer coffee or tea?
I actually really enjoy both! Coffee in the morning to get me going and tea throughout the day.
Pick up a copy of her amazing new novel! Available on Amazon or wherever books are sold. Amazon
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Aislinn Honeycutt talks about her debut novel, Wandering in Wonderland…
1. Your debut novel, Wandering in Wonderland, is already getting great reviews and is on my tbr list. What is your favorite review and why?
In all aspects of my life, I try not to pick favorites and that feels true for the reviews. I’m really just happy that people are reading the novel and that most of them are hoping for a sequel. I like reading the two and three-star reviews I’ve gotten so far because they give me the realistic look at how my writing is and what opportunities I’m missing with those individuals as readers.
2. Do you have any writing quirks or rituals that help you write?
Back during NaNoWriMo I trained myself to write at night, usually starting around 9pm or so. I also got into the habit of wearing reading glasses and playing music over headphones.
3. Aside from Alice in Wonderland, what else inspired you to write this book?
6 years ago when I first started plotting the story, I just thought it’d be fun to see if I could write a whole book. Then, as the years went on and I had more and more life experiences, the concept of Wonderland really turned into what it secretly was all along: for me. The story became (what seemed like, anyway) the only thing in my life I could control so I poured everything I had into it. Finally, the promise of it becoming published came about and it morphed into the story it is today and it became just as much for my friends as it was for me all those years and drafts ago.
4. What character in your novel do you connect with/relate to most?
It might be a bit narcissistic but all the characters have some element of myself in their personality or quirks. Well, everyone but Horace. He was modeled after someone else who is no longer in my life. That all being said, Farren and Rorie will always have very special places in my heart. Rorie is the character who really started everything and there wouldn’t be a story without him and Farren wasn’t meant to have a strong presence in the story but like any good character, she grew on me until she became what she is today, which readers will experience the full force of their characters in the sequel.
Pick up your copy today!
Author interview with the lovely Bibiana Krall
I was lucky enough to connect with Bibiana Krall who is the author of numerous literary works. She gives insight into the short story, novella, and novel. I recently read Corvus Hall, a brilliant and suspenseful novella, you need to check out.
Thank you so much for interviewing me on your blog, R.J. I’m so excited to be here.
1. Bibiana tell us a little about your writing. How many pieces do you have available on Amazon?
I have fifteen titles on Amazon with two short story collections, three novels (one in French.) The remainder are short stories and lastly, a paranormal novella named Corvus Hall, which is book one in The Irish Phantom Series. I am hard at work on the second novella now, Loftus Hall.
They are multi-genre, from coming of age, thrillers, magical realism and paranormal or supernatural suspense. Suspense is the rocket fuel and all stories feature a female main character.
My goal will always be to show that females can not only carry a story, but in real life we are capable, intelligent, badasses and we have always been strong. That doesn’t always mean that we own a sword or know how to shoot straight either. It’s about depicting women or girls as complex, interesting people who face challenges unseen by some and perhaps my stories try to show the way out of the rabbit hole as well? No matter what I write, the number one thing is always to entertain, and escape––after all that’s why most people read and enjoy genre fiction.
2. What appeals to you about the short story as compared to writing a novel and vice versa?
The short story is a form I have both loved and detested as a writer, student and reader, until I discovered that not everyone who writes them understands that the majority of us yearn for a feeling of completion from a story, regardless of length. Edgar Allan Poe, Flannery O’Connor, Ray Bradbury and Joyce Carole Oates became my literary guides and forever changed my reading habits a few years ago. They are all masters at short story form for one reason or another.
When written properly, a short story will offer a beginning, middle and end, just like a novel, but it’s in hyper speed with no extra words. I liken writing a short story to a wild sprint and composing a novel to tackling an ironman. I have come to love creating both short stories and novels and I draft one or two novels a year and four or five short stories in-between, when I feel less than enthused about line revisions or need new something to push me over the hump.
The things I adore about writing is the time to develop an intricate plot, get to know my characters, to add detail and emotional layers using imagery. I luxuriate in these aspects of a novel when reading or writing one, so that’s the major and most important difference to me.
3. Who’s your childhood literary superhero? Who do you like to read today?
Charlotte Bronte. I don’t actually have a modern-day one, although I deeply admire Margaret Atwood for her unabashed look at what feminism means and how things still need to change. I am thrilled that a new generation has discovered her timely work.
Lately, I have been doing a lot of exploration, reading literary fiction, psychological suspense, contemporary, coming of age, and women’s fiction. I am fully aware that in order to be a successful writer, I must read what’s current (Indie and Traditional) and constantly explore what reader’s want. I am so ready for a writer crush, so please bring it on!
4. I love the covers of your works. Did you have a part in the design process?
I make my own covers and produce cinematic book trailers on YouTube as well. Luckily there are some incredibly talented photographers that allow their digital images to be used for other art forms. I travel often and use my photos whenever they work for a particular project. I used a cover artist once and it was beautiful, but I think it was too soon. After the project was done, the cover didn’t feel right anymore, so I’ve learned to wait until the story has found its depth for the visual and expensive part of the process.
5. Writer’s stories almost become like their children. Do you have a favorite?
That’s tough. I would say that my characters become my children, confidantes and friends. I love Gracie and Gus in my coming of age story, Carolina Spirit for their generous souls and incredible friendship and Sophia from Escape Into The Blue for never backing down and holding out for her happiness, regardless of the situation. The girl is a firecracker! Every character has a place in my heart, because mine are written so realistically, they come alive and we walk together.
Thank you so much for your interest R.J. I am excited about the future and look forward to knowing your work as well.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
“Immersive writing in search of the heroine.”
C.M. Turner Talks
I was recently gifted the novel, Not Flowers for Charlie and was both moved and impressed by this must-read, coming of age novel. The author, C.M. Turner, was kind enough to answer some questions for me.
1. What inspired your beautiful coming of age novel, Not Flowers for Charlie?
I was 30,000 feet in the air, returning to Kentucky from a trip to Southern California where I was born and raised. While listening to music on the plane, I became nostalgic—thinking about growing up in a blended family. Before the plane could touch down in Louisville, a story had been developing and brewing in my thoughts.
I had written poetry in the past but had never considered a deeper or lengthier project. It wasn’t even on my radar.
“Not Flowers For Charlie,” began as a short story, then like myself over the years, it grew. I finished what was to become a full-length novel while living on Bainbridge Island in the state of Washington.
2. What was the hardest part of finishing a book for you?
The hardest part of finishing a book for me has been knowing when to let go. With every edit, comes not only exclusions but also additions. I have never been able to simply read something I wrote and enjoy it. There is always that nagging desire to make it better.
3. What is your writing kryptonite?
I hope this will be an acceptable answer to your question, R.J. My kryptonite in regard to writing, is anything relating to the business end of our field. Marketing, promoting, submissions, writing summaries and descriptions, are all alien and unappealing to me. I’d rather write a brand-new book than have to do a blurb. I do, however, enjoy posting reviews on books I like and doing interviews with fellow authors like yourself.
4. What comes first in your imagination, the plot or characters?
The plot definitely comes first in my process and the characters are built around it. Often, I start with a minimal amount of characters and as the story grows, so do the number of characters. The first novel I published, started with two main characters and by the end of the book, there were over a hundred secondaries…some more important than others. The story revolves around a town, so in order to be credible, the reader needed to have a sense of ample inhabitants.
5. Do you any advice for a new writer?
I suppose the best advice I could share with a new writer, is to tell them there is a wealth of stories surrounding us at all times—whether it be old family tales passed down through the generations or gossip learned from the local hairdressers and barber shops.
I have personally found that incorporating old family stories into my work can lend an element of truth to it, as well as providing a little levity.
The point being, just living affords a writer plenty of material. All you need do is be attentive and listen, then choose the material that best suits your particular project.
In closing R.J., I would like to express my gratitude to you for inviting me to do this interview.
It’s been a great pleasure getting to know you.
C.M. Turner’s novels: Not Flowers for Charlie and Where the Ironweed Blooms are available on Amazon.
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1. They say we always remember our first love. What is the first book that you fell in love with and why?
The first book I remember falling in love with so much that it moved me to tears was Charlotte’s Web. I think I read it in 3rd or 4th grade, and I picked up the book because I loved the movie so much. I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was really little and I think that book was part of that reason.
2. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It really depends on what step of the writing process we’re talking about! If I’m working on edits or marketing, I find that kind of work can exhaust me after a while. But writing itself? Oh my goodness, knowing I get to go write on a piece will sometimes get me out of bed at 5 AM. Knowing I get to squeeze in a few words over maybe ten minutes will make me excited to hop back in. I can plan out a book, but I love letting the story and characters take me places, so I’m eager to find out what happens next even though I have a good idea of where it’s going.
3. In your opinion, what qualities make a great protagonist?
They need to have some quality about them that makes them likable. This doesn’t have to be much, but the reader really needs to be sympathetic to them in order to be willing to join them on their journey. They also don’t have to make smart decisions all the time, but they need to be clever for me. I don’t mind occasionally ringing my hands at a protagonist, but I can’t handle a whole book doing that. It’s emotionally exhausting since I get so involved in the character and in the world.
4. What are you working on now?
Right now I’m finishing up my manuscript for Broken, the sequel to Stolen, to send off to my publisher. I’m really excited by the twists that have appeared throughout this book and I’m looking forward to seeing what my readers think of it. It’s definitely taking a darker path than Stolen did, but it’s necessary for the storyline.
5. If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
Please don’t give up on your dreams, even if it seems like it’ll never happen. You have the determination and the imagination to reach your goal, you just have to keep at it, even if those rejection letters are painful.
6. After publishing several books, what is your advice to aspiring writers about the querying process?
One of the things I’ve learned the most, and that a good writer friend of mine told me years ago, is that there are all sorts of paths to reaching that dream of being a published author. You can go the self-publishing route, which I tried for a while. You can aim for short stories, which I also tried. You can also go try to find an agent, which I’m still working on. Or you can find a small publisher that fits your dark little darlings to a tee.
I know it’s hard to hear right now, but perseverance is the best way to get to where you want to be. Keep writing, keep putting yourself out there. Toughen up your skin and realize that there’s always another story inside of you. Your mind is an endless fount of inspiration and even if you’re still learning the writing craft, you have to believe in yourself in order to ultimately succeed.
7. What was your inspiration for your latest novel, Stolen?
I wish this was a simple answer, one I could rattle off in a few words, but like most inspiration, it is more complex than that.
Years ago I used to take part in private little writing community on Livejournal called OfThePistol. Each week they would post up picture prompts and we would come up with stories. They could be any kind of story, so long as it was inspired by the picture. The photo they gave was a lovely little gif from Alice in Wonderland with Alice lying down in a field of daisies, with the words sprawled on top “When I’m lonely in a world of my own.” It made me think of springtime and of flowers, and what it might be like to live in a land that was forever in spring.
I came up with a short piece about a girl with a magical map who needed to find her way through a garden to reach her lessons. Unfortunately, as soon as she became late, the map went dark and she couldn’t find her way. So she asked a stone lion who was lazily lounging nearby to help her get to class, and they headed off together through the beautiful garden.
That story ultimately got changed around completely to be used in Stolen. The stone lion had several personality shifts and eventually became Mawr. The unnamed protagonist in the original piece became Shaleigh, an urban explorer with anger issues, in Stolen. Now I’m working on a trilogy featuring her adventures through and beyond the Garden, which ironically didn’t change too terribly much from that original piece.
Thank you for allowing me to be a guest on your blog! I’m so happy you reached out to have me.
Feel free to follow me or pick up a copy of Stolen:
Stolen on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37654241-stolen
Talking with Phillip D. Curwood about writing, ghosts and time travel.
I asked author, Phillip Curwood some questions and was definitely surprised by his answers. He is a writer of the intriguing paranormal novel, Arabella: A picture of Beauty which may have real-life inspiration.
1. What inspired your latest novel, Heather in May?
I was simply inspired to write this novel because of my love for the North York Moors. The surrounding moors that I love to tread hold such mystery, which in turn has always fired my imagination. The town of Helmsley sits on the edge of the lonely moors, and the Black Swan Inn is the hotel I stay when hiking. It’s the same black and white timber-framed hotel that became The Rivvis (Yorkshire slang for Rievaulx village and Abbey) in my book.
2. What advice do you have for new writers?
My advice would be to never give up and only listen to constructive criticism that would help you grow as a writer.
3. What is your favorite genre to write and why?
My favourite genre(s) has always been the Paranormal and Sci-fi. Living in a haunted house for 13-years lent weight to my curiosity of the Afterlife in my later years. Sci-fi, on the other hand, is my escape and refuge. It all began with a single book by James Blish entitled – Welcome to Mars.
4. What are you working on now?
I’m working on a fairly complex time travel novel entitled – Time Light. It involves alternate realities, time manipulation, a Jason Bourne-style feel and other paraphernalia I cannot divulge, at this moment in (time).
5. Arabella was a great ghost story. If you had to be haunted by another fictional character who would it be?
If I had to be haunted by another fictional character, it would have to be a lady as beautiful as Lady Arabella herself.
6. Have you ever had a paranormal encounter?
Referring back to question 3; I’ve had several encounters of the paranormal over 13-years of living in an extremely haunted house. The ghosts name in question was Mary Anne Belle, and she killed herself by throwing herself down a well 150-years ago, due to the abuse from her husband. I’ve witnessed balls of light, grey mist, a disembodied hand waving at me, faces peering through our windows.
7. You are a self-described history geek. If you had to leave in another century which one would you chose and why?
I’d love to live in the early nineteenth century, mostly because I loved the way they dressed back then. They prided themselves on good manners and etiquette, and I feel they had more freedom back then… no computers or Smartphones either.
Questions for Candace
I had the opportunity to ask Candace Robinson a few questions. She has published several books including Bacon Pie (Co-authored with Gerardo Delgadillo) from Evernight Teen, and Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault from the Parliament House Press, just to name a few. She writes romantic, dark and quirky tales that must be checked out. Her upcoming novel, Clouded by Envy will be available February 19th, is already creating a buzz.
1. What’s the elevator pitch for your upcoming novel, Clouded by Envy?
Dorian Gray meets Ferngully! A little yin to the yang!
2. Assign Marry, bury or date to the following superheroes: Thor, Batman, and the Black Panther.
That is a toughy! Marry Thor because, well, his costume is and hair is awesome! Date Black Panther because he has Panther in his name! And bury Batman because I don’t know which Batman we are talking about!
3. They say no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. As a writer how many times have your own stories made you cry?
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever cried reading my stuff. But I will say that I’ve felt my heart crack a whole lot!
4. What’s your advice for writers trying to get published for the first time?
Do not give up! If your goal is to go with a bigger publisher, then you have to keep on querying. If it’s not working then, also look for fresh beta readers to see if maybe they can help improve some things.
5. You are such an amazing writer. If you had to choose one of your novels to become a major motion picture which one would it be and why? What actors would you cast in the leading roles?
I think Bacon Pie, only because I would love to see the super humorous parts! My preference for actors is always unknowns so I would really like it if they were some undiscovered awesome talent or something!
6. Since Valentine’s Day is here, a good question is what’s your favorite candy?
White chocolate Reeces! Someone buy me that huge one that comes out each year!
Want to learn more about Candace and her awesome books visit her website.