Interview with Lauren Baratz-Logsted

An Interview with Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of over 30 novels!

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

Thirty+ books into my career, it’s tough to pick one, but today I’ll say it’s The Twin’s Daughter, about a girl in Victorian England who discovers that her gorgeous society mother has an identical twin who was raised in the workhouse. It’s historical suspense and has romance and murder in it, so it’s the closest to being a same-shelf read with Zombie Abbey, the chief differences being that ZA takes place about 40 years later (in 1920), there are zombies rather than murder, and there’s a campy feel about the whole.

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

My very first book, Waiting for Dead Men’s Shoes, was reshaped and is available on Kindle.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

The 30+ novels I mentioned above have all come out since 2003, so I percolate differently and I’m never short of inspiration.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I write in what I call my basement cave. There are no windows in the room but there is a TV.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I’ve never hired an editor – I actually do some freelance editing for others myself! – but I do have a group of writers who’ve met in my home for about two decades and we read/critique each other. Also, depending on the needs of a particular book, I might reach out to certain people for a read.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I’m with you: I’m a physical book person all the way. I get my books from libraries and bookstores. My favorite bookstore – the one I worked in for 11 years – no longer exists, I’m afraid. That said, I’m not against ebooks, which my husband reads exclusively now. Really, whatever gets and keeps people excited about reading, I’m all for it.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

I really don’t have a favorite genre. I’ve written in nearly every genre imaginable for nearly every age group imaginable and I’m pretty much an equal-opportunity reader. In terms of age groups:

  1. childhood? 

The Prydain Chronicles, Lloyd Alexander

  1. adolescence? 

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

  1. young adult? 

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

  1. adult?

       Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job.

I’m on Twitter and Facebook, and that’s plenty for me. On Facebook, I talk about writing and reading a lot, but I mostly consider that – for me – to be a place for family and friends. I celebrate and commiserate with others there all the time. On Twitter, however, I’m very different. I consider that to be my more public/general space so while I talk reading and writing there too, I also provide a lot more content on things I’m watching and I engage about politics…a lot. 😊 Thanks for having me!

Interview with Lisa Brown Roberts

An Interview with Lisa Brown Roberts, author of Spies, Lies and Allies.

Award-winning romance author Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage catastrophes of tweezing off both eyebrows, or that time she crashed her car into a tree while trying to impress a guy. It’s no wonder she loves to write romantic comedies. Lisa’s books have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the School Library Journal. She lives in Colorado with her family, in which pets outnumber people.

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

Hmm…that’s like picking a favorite kid or pet! I love each of my books for different reasons, but my first book, How (not) to Fall in Love, will always have a special place in my heart.

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

I’ve abandoned my early efforts, however I used the main character from the first semi-decent book I wrote as an important secondary character in How (not) to Fall in Love. He became the uncle of my protagonist, and played a major role in the story.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Since my first novel came out in 2015, I’ve published a total of six novels. I never would’ve dreamed I could do that, but I was fortunate to be offered multiple book contracts – but then I had to produce much more quickly than I had prior to being published. However, by nature I’m more of a percolater and a tweaker. I can’t read my books after they are published because I want to revise them – again.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I can write anywhere. With a family and a day job, I have to use every spare writing minute I can find. My favorite writing space is my sunny home office, but I also write in my car, in doctors’ waiting rooms, libraries, coffee shops, restaurants…anywhere and everywhere. I use notebooks when I’m out and about, but do my main writing on my computer. Sometimes I dictate ideas or dialog into my phone when I’m out walking my dogs.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have wonderful critique partners I’ve worked with for years – they are all authors. I also have a couple of avid reader friends (not writers) who are great betas. My family doesn’t read my books until they’re in print, and honestly family members usually don’t make good beta readers because they’re too nice and don’t want to hurt my feelings.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

We have wonderful bookstores in Denver, Colorado- The Tattered Cover, Denver BookBar, Second Star to the Right, The Bookies, and more. I love print books,, but I also enjoy ebooks and audiobooks. I will use any media to enjoy a great story!

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

  1. childhood? Laura Ingalls Wilder, E.B. White, Dr. Seuss, Louisa May Alcott, Mary Norton
  2. adolescence? Paula Danziger, Judy Blume, S.E. Hinton
  3. young adult? The same as I’ve listed under adolescence. We didn’t really have YA when I was a teen.
  4. adult? So many I don’t know where to begin. Here are a few: Kristan Higgins, Anne Lamott, Jill Mansell, Sophie Kinsella, Sarah Hegger, Pamela Mingle, JoJoMoyes, John Irving, Graeme Simsion, Amy Reichert, Rainbow Rowell… I could go on and on!

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

I handle all of my own, because I’m reluctant to trust someone else to express my “social media self” accurately. Social media can be a minefield, so I tread carefully.

My favorite is Instagram, because I don’t encounter any drama there like sometimes happens on Twitter and Facebook. Also I love admiring others’ photos, and following all sorts of feeds, like crafts, food, travel etc.

About Spies, Lies, and Allies

Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media…and I’m afraid it’s working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

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Interview with Will Weisser

An Interview with Will Weisser, author of Ankaran Immersion

Born into a literary family (both his parents are authors and college professors), Will fell in love with science fiction and fantasy literature during the comics boom of the early 90’s and never looked back. Now residing in the fantastic realm known as the Philly ‘burbs, he uses his geek talents to program computers by day, while by night he huddles over unfinished manuscripts, attempting to engineer characters who touch the human spirit. In his scant free time he enjoys practicing martial arts (which he is pretty good at) and playing guitar (terribly).

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

After at least six re-writes, I published my first novel as The Reintegrators in 2013. While I’m proud of that book and the reader response to it, I’m not sure I would have spent so much time on it given a second chance. On the rare occasion I give advice, I lean toward telling new writers to get more practice writing novels from scratch, rather than re-polishing the same work over and over. I’m living proof you can make any book shine, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best use of your efforts toward developing as a writer.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Some pre-planning is always good, but years would be too much. If I let an idea sit for too long it usually loses what made it special to me, and becomes nothing more than a few uninspired sentences in my notes file. Ideas need to breathe as part of a living story in order to remain interesting.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

These days I do pretty much everything on my Macbook, whether at home or at Starbucks or wherever. I once tried editing on paper, and although it was a neat feeling, once I realized how long it would take to type up the changes I abandoned that process quickly. I’m not nearly patient enough to do twice as much work to accomplish one thing!

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

My wife reads all my books first. She’s an accomplished reader who finishes 50+ novels a year and she doesn’t hold anything back in her critiques. As much as I wish she would sometimes, I must admit she’s saved me quite a bit of embarrassment over the years. For the next phase I’ve been lucky enough to recruit some pro authors to read pieces of or the entirety of works in progress by swapping my own beta reads for theirs. That said, I know I need more “pure reader” interaction from a variety of sources, too, so I’m working on filling out a list of people who could give me more feedback on the next go-around–those who liked my other books, friends in the scifi/fantasy community, etc. With everyone’s shifting schedules and commitments it’s good to have a long list of betas to pad against dropouts.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I must admit I don’t go to bookstores too often. My shelves are all full and I barely have time to read anymore, even on my Kindle. Instead I listen to a lot of audio books while driving. It’s expensive, but I need to keep up with what’s current somehow if I’m going to continue this writing thing, or so I tell myself.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:
1. childhood? Too many to name, but one that jumps to mind at the moment is The Phantom Tollbooth. I recently read it to my son, and while the writing doesn’t quite hold up, the wealth of amazing ideas blew my mind as a kid.
2. adolescence? I was a big comics fan in my teens, starting with Marvel and DC, branching off into Image and then into independent and underground comics and cartoons. I did read the occasional novel, too, though. I recall reading Jurassic Park about a year before the movie came out, and the thrill the first time I saw that trailer–wow.
3. young adult? After high school I stuck mainly to science fiction. I read a lot of old classics and old Hugo winners, Asimov, Niven, etc. My favorites at the time were probably Neal Stephenson or Dan Simmons, big, sprawling books packed with really out-there imagery.
4. adult? For a long time I avoided fantasy altogether, with a couple exceptions: I loved Pratchett because he made me laugh, and I really dug Tad Williams’s Otherland tetrology, which though technically sci-fi I understand now was written in the vein of his epic fantasies. Beyond that, though, I associated fantasy with certain rather cheesy novels of the 1980s which were mainly stale re-treads of Tolkien. Then one day a friend told me to read a relatively unknown book called A Game of Thrones, which he claimed was “actually really great.” Beyond actually being great, that series opened my eyes to what a new generation of fantasy writers were doing to move the genre forward. Now fantasy is so positively flooded with new and exciting voices–Katherine Addison, N.K. Jemisin, Mark Lawrence, among others–that it makes science fiction look a bit stagnant by comparison. My science fiction novels excluded, of course ;).

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. Do you manage your own profiles or did you choose someone else to?

I have a pretty lame social media presence. I am most active on Twitter where I share random thoughts sometimes, but I’m not what you’d call a prolific tweeter. I also have a public Facebook page but I don’t update it very often, as Facebook tends not to show your updates to anyone, anyway. My philosophy on social media is that I’m happy to engage with any fans/weirdos who want to contact me there, but actually building an audience on e.g. Twitter would require too much of a time investment which, even if it paid off in the end, wouldn’t be worth it from the perspective of maintaining my peace of mind.

About Ankaran Immersion:

All her life, Eveningstar of the Pure has honed her survival skills against the strand, a nanotech organism which infests most of the planet. And she has always shunned the Tainted, those who replace their body parts with tamed strand to enhance their bodies and minds. But then a gang of child soldiers kidnaps her brother, taking him to the distant Gridlands, past a gauntlet of shape-shifting monsters. In an eternal war between technology and nature—between those who oppose it and those who embrace it—Evie will need to break the law, put aside her distrust for the Tainted, and perhaps even take a few of their tricks for her own if she wants to save her brother.

Website: https://metanautics.net/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/metanautics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/willweisserbooks/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/wweisser
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cNcqbH

Interview with S.D. Grimm

An Interview with SD Grimm, author of Phoenix Fire

S. D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult fantasy and science fiction, which is to be expected from someone who looks up to heroes like Captain America and Wonder Woman, has been sorted into Gryffindor, and identifies as rebel scum. Her patronus is a red Voltron lion, her spirit animal is Toothless, and her favorite meal is second breakfast.She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency, her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog, and you can learn more about her upcoming novels at www.sdgrimm.com

Thank you so much for having me! I’m excited to be here!

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

I tend to love the novel I’m working on at the time most. And I love all my novels for different reasons. The epic feel in the sword and sorcery series with a world that was so much fun to create in my Children of the Blood Moon series is so fun, but what I love most in it is the character relationships. And in Summoner, Cody—oh my gosh, I love Cody—and his growing relationship with Allie is my favorite. I guess I love the characters the most. 

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

Mine is actually a middle grade novel. It’s not the genre I’m currently writing in, but there might be a day I dog it back out. For now, though, it’s fine where it is.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Both? I generally let ideas percolate for a year or more, but that’s because I have SO many that I simply can’t keep up with them. Last year I wrote two novels, and the year before that, I wrote three. This year I hope to write four. And I pull them all from the little greenhouse of growing ideas in my mind palace.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I vary between spaces. The couch, loveseat, bed, dining room table, moving vehicle while someone else drives, and occasionally my actual desk. I use my laptop most often.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have a group of beta readers and critique partners that I can call on for early readings. And, yes, many of them are family members who will tell it like it is.  And hiring an editor was a process of auditions in a way. But now that I am a freelance editor as well, I have many connections in that field.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

My favorite way to read is with a hardcover book. I love the feel, the smell, the sound of a turning page. But since being introduced to e-readers, I would say I do most of my late-night reading there. And there’s this amazing little bookshop downtown called Serendipity Books. It’s entrance is through a dark alley (well, the one I like to use). How perfect is that?!

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?

My favorite genre is hands-down YA fantasy and sci-fi.
1. childhood? C.S. Lewis and Jack London
2. adolescence? Richard Adams
3. young adult? Brian Jacques
4. adult? Too many! Maggie Stiefvater, CJ Redwine, Cornelia Funke, and Mary Weber.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. Since you manage your own profile, please tell me as much as you are comfortable with in regards to your preferred platform and an estimate of time you spend doing it [and whether you like doing it!].

I love IG the most. I use FB to connect mostly with friends I’ve met all over at writers’ conferences and things, whom I don’t live near. I use Twitter, but feel buried a lot. Instagram is my favorite because pretty pictures plus words. I spend waaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy too much time on SM sites responding and liking and posting and checking. So it’s something I’m trying to time manage better, TBH.

About Phoenix Fire:

After spending her life in foster care, Ava has finally found home. But all it takes is a chance encounter with hot nerd Wyatt Wilcox for it to unravel.

Now, things are starting to change. First, the flashes of memories slowly creeping in. Memories of other lives, lives that Wyatt is somehow in. Then, the healing. Any cut? Gone.

But when Cade and Nick show up, claiming to be her brothers, things get even weirder. They tell her she’s a Phoenix, sent to protect the world from monsters—monsters she never knew existed. It’s a little hard to accept. Especially when they tell her she has to end the life of a Phoenix turned rogue, or Cade will die.

With Wyatt’s increasingly suspicious behavior, Ava’s determined to figure out what he’s hiding. Unless she can discover Wyatt’s secret in time and complete her Phoenix training, she’ll lose the life, love, and family she never thought she could have.

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Author Links: Website |  Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon | Entangled Publishing

Interview with Lynn Steigleder

An Interview with Lynn Steigleder, author of the “Rising Tide” series and
“Terminal Core”

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

DEADLY REIGN

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

I am fortunate not to have anything outstanding. All my work is either complete or headed in that direction.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

One a year is a good pace, although at the present, marketing takes up a good portion of my time. So much so it’s causing a delay in the completion of my latest manuscript.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I do the majority of my writing at home. There have been times when traveling I would use my laptop, which brings me to the next question: always digital.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I am so blessed to have an assistant who is an English major. She takes care of my editing needs. I have family and friends who will read my books and give me feedback.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I was drawn to Science Fiction and Fantasy (no unicorns) from a young age. I want to be able to touch a book, especially one with a dramatic cover. I guess I’m guilty of judging many books by their covers. I don’t have a favorite book store, but I do have a wild imagination.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:
Favorite genre: Science Fiction.
1. childhood? Superhero comic books
2. adolescence? Superhero comic books
3. young adult? Robert Heinlein
4. adult?` Stephen King

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. If you have chosen someone to manage your profile, please tell me why you did this?

I manage my own profile. I write a blog and publish a story once a week. I have a newsletter through my website, which I send out bi-weekly. I have a Facebook page. I have a Twitter account that is tied in to my blog and newsletter. I have author pages on GoodReads and Amazon. I use Book Buzz which allows me to write tweets ahead of time and spread them out to be tweeted on the days and time I choose. I write short stories and publish them on WordPress which sends them to all of my followers, Twitter and Facebook. Lastly, I post pictures of my novel covers on Pinterest.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Being as this is my first printed interview, I’ll have to let you know.

Interview with Tesfahiwet Mekonnen

An Interview with Tesfahiwet Mekonnen, author of Happyland

My name is Tesfahiwet Mekonnen—I go by the abridged version: Tes Mekonnen. I came to America (1990) at the age of 4. I was born in Sudan, but I am Eritrean (a country on the horn of Africa) because my parents are Eritrean. They fled Eritrea because of the war and trekked to a refugee camp in Sudan and they started a temporary life there. Then we got on an aeroplane in and came to America. I’ve written a couple of things that I am proud of because I put so much into them, particularly Happyland.

What have you written?

I’ve written Blue Ivy Carter: A Little, Big Story. I wrote this story because I read an article where folks were attacking the appearance of a little girl—that little girl happens to be Blue Ivy Carter. What is wrong with folk? Even kids aren’t sacred on the Internet. Leave the kids alone—they don’t deserve your venom. I’ve also written The Book of Teezus: Thus Spoke Me (a book of original quotes that comes in 2 versions), and Happyland: A Fairy Tale in Two Parts—the book I am presenting today.

What is this your own personal favourite project?

There is an ambivalent attachment to Happyland. Before I go into why, I need to explain the genesis of this story. Happyland began as a writing prompt in a creative writing class. This was in 2010. I really didn’t think much of it till I received decent feedback. I allowed my creativity to reign freely. I realized I could take chances with my writing. Happyland was terribly rough, but I had a decent framework for what Happyland would eventually become. Then I started popping pills (Adderall) and my terrible addiction made a straight-up mess of the story. I really took a decent story and destroyed it. It became absolute gobbledygook. This is why I am ambivalent. I got sick, cleaned myself up and chucked Happyland because I couldn’t even look at it without grimacing. I had gained some objectivity and I couldn’t even read the story because it was absolutely nonsensical. It was ramblings of a man gone fuckin’ mad. I dropped out of school for the 2nd fucking time. I was absolutely empty. I had nothing, but my writing. The irony is what destroyed me is what saved me. I had to justify my life somehow and I started scribbling in a cheap journal. I finally completed Happyland. I was able to complete the story with a clean mind. I still wasn’t insecure about my writing, so I hired a credible editor. I received some great constructive criticism and kept tweaking my work. I started gaining more confidence in what type of writer I wanted to be. Frustration started to mount because of the rejection. I don’t mind the rejection, but the waiting was disrupting my progress. I decided to become a bit proactive. I was still in a rut because Happyland needed something more—illustrations. I posted an advertisement that was fraught with hubris to lure the best illustrators I could possibly find on a minor income. Serendipitously, I found a great illustrator, Anthony Resto. The oddity was I posted an ad in Seattle and he was from Indiana. I asked for a quick sketch and as soon as I saw his drawing of Lily Marshmallow, I needed to have him for my book. I am astounded by the fact that we have never even met. We’ve only talked once. The whole collaboration was done via texting. I transferred what was in my head and he captured it beautifully. Happyland is my favorite work because I did everything to create a work that is of high quality. Sorry for the longwinded, roundabout answer. It took awhile to get to this point, but it finally came together.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Forget percolate, I let it ferment till I get drunk enough to write. I am just joking. I don’t like forcing anything—I’m lazy that way. I am not really a disciplined writer. I don’t wake up a 9 a.m. and start writing until a certain time. I can’t do that. I wish I were able to that. I get ideas and let it stay in my head. If it is a quality idea, I jot it down. Happyland was frustrating because it was more imaginative and it exhausted me. It strained my mind’s eye. That is poetic of saying…I’m that imaginative. I like working on different projects. I got frustrated with Happyland, so I started The Book of Teezus. Since it is a book of quotes, it didn’t require that much time. I was able to compile quotes. I have a couple half-cooked ideas that I might explore later. I am just all over the place.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I used to prefer writing in journals, but I was just so disorganized. I got accustomed to typing up my ideas. I do everything digitally now because it is just much faster to capture my thoughts. I am not the most disciplined writer. I get a bit inspired and thoughts just flood out and typing the flood is easier and faster. I like getting stuff on the page. I worry about cleaning later. I prefer working by myself and using my computer.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

Happyland was lucky enough to spawn from a writing class. My peers were the beta-readers. As of now, I just utilize an editor and myself. I am not lucky enough to have family members that would read and comment on my novel. They are loving, but not a reading bunch. I wish that was the case because I put so much into this work and the best validation is from close ones. My mother knows I write but doesn’t know what I’ve written. We speak different languages. I came here when I was 4 years old and I speak English. My mother doesn’t speak English. I speak rudimentary Tigrinya (language from the African country of Eritrea.). She speaks Tigrinya fluently. It really does suck that I can’t much speak with my mother outside of unpleasant pleasantries. This is the life. Tigrinya is language that isn’t taught everywhere and Eritrea is such a small country. My mother is very supportive nonetheless.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

My love of writing was birthed out of reading. I started reading and reading and realized I could write. I like the physical feel of books. I don’t own a kindle and I am not a fan of digital reading. Going to secondhand bookstores helps you discover new writers and different editions of books. It is like a scavenger hunt. Whenever I go to Goodwill, I never know what book I will be purchasing. I really don’t know where I source my material. An idea pops into my head and I just go from there. Sometimes it grows into something worthwhile. I am not the best writer, but I try to take fun chances. I am a proponent of fantastic failure rather than mediocrity. It starts with an idea and then I must execute that idea. It is all about the execution of the idea. Since having a reliable illustrator, I just present an idea to him and he draws it up and that inspires me. My words are competing with the illustrations. Whenever I am in a rut, I try to visualize something. If I can’t write that visualization, I commission it to be drawn up. Most of the images from Happyland are ideas that I thought would be fun to look at. I had these images in my head and my writing is to describe those images. I write because I don’t how to paint. I am not the best writer, so I prefer the aid of illustrations.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

Adult. The first books that started this whole love of writing were Crime and Punishment and Anna Karenina. I’ve read a lot of folks, but Tolstoy sticks out because of Anna Karenina (the Richard Pevear and Volokhonsky translation). I think that book is perfect and sustains resplendency for 800 pages. He only needed to write that one book and he would be one of the best writers. A work that had the most profound influence on me is The Stranger (Albert Camus), but I don’t know why. Maybe, I have a lot of Meursault in me.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job.
– If you have chosen someone to manage your profile, please tell me why you did this?

I think social media has warranted your disgust. This is the brave new world.  I have chosen to manage my own profile because it is a necessary evil and secretary is away on business— for forever. I utilize social media sparingly. I have an Instagram account (@TesMekonnen) because most of my work involves illustrations and I like to display them. I wish I were more active on Twitter and Facebook because that is the way everything is going. If you don’t have an online presence, you practically don’t exist. If I didn’t have something to sell in the form of art, I probably would refrain from using social media. If you’re going to self-publish, you have to take advantage of every cheap promotion. If it is free, it is for me.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next? 

I haven’t had too many interviews, but that seems like a good problem to have—the temptation of recycling. I can recycle certain things if they the questions are too similar.

Interview with Sarah Marie Graye

Interview with Sarah Marie Graye, author of The Second Cup

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

My first novel was an attempt at ‘chicklit’. It was awful because I couldn’t write happy characters so they came off as fake. Two of the characters I created for that novel were developed into characters for The Second Cup though, so the process was worth it. I also completed my chicklit novel, so I knew I could finish one – which was a great psychological stepping stone.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I would love to write that quickly! It just takes me longer to get my ideas on paper. I hope to get faster with each novel as I become more accomplished as a writer.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I have ADHD, so my approach to writing is a little unusual. I write snippets at they occur to me and then piece them together afterwards. I use an app called Evernote for my snippets – which I sometimes record as me speaking rather than writing. I also use it for images that inspire my ideas. About once a week I go through Evernote and paste different snippets into my manuscript. I build chapters up from these snippets as they start to connect to each other, which seems to happen naturally, so I guess that’s my subconscious working on my ideas.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I studied an MA Creative Writing in order to write The Second Cup so I had my own personal beta reader in my supervisor! Since being published, I’ve formed friendships with other writers whose work I respect who offer editorial services. My plan for my second novel is to have three or four “editorial beta readers” before the final edit. I admit there’s a temptation to ask bloggers who loved my first novel to beta read my second, but I’d rather ask them to read and review the final version.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would it be?

This is really difficult because each of my four main characters in The Second Cup is a representation of me in some way. The one least like me is Olivia, but she goes through the most positive transformation, so I’ll choose her!

Did you discover anything about yourself while you were writing your novel?

I believe I’ve become more empathetic. I created four characters that sometimes behave in ways I don’t personally find acceptable (for example, cheating on a partner). But it was important to understand the “why” of their behaviours in order to paint rounded characters. Looking into why someone behaves in a way I wouldn’t opened up all sorts of questions about my moral framework – and I realised I can’t judge other people by it; it’s a framework for me.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I’m a fan of real books – my preference is for paperbacks as hardbacks can be too heavy! But the ebook revolution has allowed so many more writers to be heard, which is amazing. I think ebooks are useful if you’re trying out new authors – but I buy a paperback version of any ebooks I really enjoy.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?

I read a lot of what has recently been named “uplit” – uplifting literature where the characters go though a mental or emotional transformation. I think many authors have been writing these sorts of stories long before the term came along, but it is making it easier for me to discover new ones now the term exists! Maggie O’Farrell is a perfect example of such an author – her flawed characters are so beautifully drawn that you love them for everything they are.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job If you manage your own profile, please tell me as much as you are comfortable with in regards to your preferred platform and an estimate of time you spend doing it [and whether you like doing it!].

I find the marketing side of social media hard work. I like to use it to chat to other writers and share ideas, but pushing my novel onto people makes me feel uncomfortable. My preferred platform is Twitter because I think it’s the best for getting involved in random conversations that can trigger ideas. It’s also where I look for bloggers who might be interested in reading and reviewing my novel.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next? 

Ha ha ha! Even if I’m giving the same answer to the same question I’ve answered before, I try to answer it in a different way. I leave answering these ones until last, so I’ve already found the right tempo for my answers in answering the other questions. (I answered this question first!)

 

Interview with Jaime Questell

An Interview with Jaime Questell, author of By a Charm and a Curse

Jaime Questell is a writer and graphic designer from Houston, Texas. She has also been a bookseller, a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and an administrative assistant. None of these jobs involved wrangling corgis, which is quite sad. She lives in the ‘burbs with her husband, children, and pets.

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

By a Charm and a Curse is my first published novel, but of my other manuscripts, the one I’m currently working on might be my favorite. It has witches and a good dose of the Mexican culture I grew up with. It’s set in a fictional Texas town that’s buried in secrets, and it’s been so much fun coming up with all the components.

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

OMG, that first novel! It is so, so rough. It’s definitely been gathering some cobwebs, but I don’t want to write it off forever. I’m thinking it could be reshaped one day, or potentially be harvested for dialogue (because there’s some funny stuff in there, if I’m remembering correctly).

 

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I am so awed by the people who have an unending supply of ideas, but I definitely like to let things percolate. I like to make hidden Pinterest boards where I can post images that relate to the idea I have, so I can remember them later, but for the most part I just let the idea simmer in the back of my mind while I work on other things.

have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

Writing time is limited and precious, so I’ll write anywhere: at home, at Starbucks, while on my lunch hour, waiting for an oil change. And I prefer my laptop to write, but again, because I need to write whenever and wherever I can, I’ll write on my phone or in one of the bazillion notebooks I usually have on me. That said though, I do find that if I’m stuck, writing by hand usually works to get me unstuck.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I am incredibly lucky to have four critique partners who go over my work before I send it to my agent. I’ve worked with them for years, and their commentary is always on point and insightful. And I don’t work with an editor until my work is sold, but my agent is very editorial, which is fantastic. She really knows her stuff, and makes my writing better.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

Everywhere! My favorite indie bookshop is Murder by the Book in Houston. They have a great selection and a knowledgeable staff, and I love shopping there. But I also like to utilize the library. I recently discovered Overdrive, and it’s made my audiobook habit much easier to feed.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:
1. childhood? When I was a kid, I could not get enough of The Baby-Sitter’s Club. Every birthday, every bit of money I was able to save went toward those books. And then, when I was a little older, it turned into a Sweet Valley High obsession. Those felt so taboo after the BSC, I mean, there was kissing.
2. adolescence? The movie version of Jurassic Park (and let’s be honest, Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park) got me hooked on Michael Chrichton, which led to me reading everything I could get my hands on. Around this same time I became obsessed with the classics, but, of course, never the classics assigned to me in class. I loved Alexandre Dumas, and read The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers over and over.
3. young adult? I was working in a bookstore at this time, and that was pure temptation. I read everything and anything, but Sophie Kinsella and Louise Rennison were favorites at the time.
4. adult? I love to read across genres now. Some of my current favorites are Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black, Kelley Armstrong, Heidi Heilig, and Victoria Schwab. Basically, I’ll read anything that sounds good.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. You manage your own profile, please tell me as much as you are comfortable with in regards to your preferred platform and an estimate of time you spend doing it [and whether you like doing it!].

I’m too much of a control freak to relegate to anyone else. But I agree that social media is so overwhelming! It can be hard, feeling like you have to do everything. I think it’s better to choose one or two platforms and do them well. So I choose to focus on Twitter and Instagram. Every now and then I start to think that I should have a Facebook author page, but then I remember how much it would stress me out and that the page would suffer. I’m going to quote Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec here and say, “Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”

About By a Charm and a Curse:

Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

 

Buylinks: https://entangledpublishing.com/by-a-charm-and-a-curse.html

Author Links:
Author Website: jaimequestell.com
Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jaimequestell
Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaimequestell/
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15396319.Jaime_Questell
Author Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/jaime_q/
Newsletter: http://jaimequestell.com/events/

Interview with Erica Cameron

Interview with Erica Cameron, Author of Sea of Strangers

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

It’s so hard to pick because every book I’ve written has some special element that means a lot to me, but there is something incredibly wonderful about The Ryogan Chronicles. I love the world, the characters, and the story told there. I also love that I finally got to populate a world that I initially created back in college. That means more than I know how to explain.

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

In 2007-2008, I wrote my first ever original novel. It took the concept of angels and gave them a new origin story and whole new mythology. There was a lot I loved about that concept and the story itself, but it was my first novel and I made a lot of plotting mistakes I didn’t know how to fix. Although I did steal certain concepts and systems from that novel, it won’t ever be published.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Sea of Strangers is my third release in 2017, so I have to go with the option one! I am always working on something, and often have a few projects waiting in the wings. It’s hard to find the time and mental energy to work on all of them at once, but I am lucky enough to have a very wonderful editorial team at Entangled who make sure my books go out into the world as polished and pretty as they possibly can be.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

Thankfully, I’m not nearly so particular! I do almost all my writing in Word on a laptop, but I can write by hand if needed. Sometimes the change of method helps, actually. I have written in bed, at my desk, on a couch, an airplane, a car, on my phone on break at work—pretty much anywhere. I do enjoy writing at coffee shops, though! So long as I can get a comfortable seat somewhere, that is.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have had numerous beta readers over the years, and they have all helped me develop my work in wonderful ways. I especially like an early reader who asks questions. Sometimes they notice patterns or missing information that I never saw, and them asking questions about those things helps me even out the rough edges of the story. My family is incredibly supportive, but they tend to read the final versions rather than the early ones. As for editors, I’ve never actually paid for editorial services. When deciding to work with an editor at a publishing house, though, I need to know what they see in the story and what they’re hoping I can change in it. If their vision doesn’t match mine, the partnership won’t work. Everyone working on a novel needs to be heading toward the same end goal or the whole project will turn into a mess.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

There is a dearth of good independent bookstores in my area! The best one is about an hour away—Books & Books in Coral Gables. There are several Barnes & Nobles, though, and I even work at one close to home! It’s a brilliant job, but also difficult. I want to bring home so many books I don’t have the time to read or the space to keep! I do read electronically a lot, and I don’t mind that format. However, seeing my bookshelves full to the point of groaning under the weight of my library is something I won’t easily give up.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

  1. childhood?Once I got to the point of picking my own books and authors, I fell in love with fantasy! Tamora Pierce was my first ever favorite author.
  2. adolescence?I stuck to the sci-fi/fantasy realm for a long time, but I also tended to read mysteries my dad left around the house. He was going through a James Patterson phase at that point. Those were also the years I introduced myself to Anne McCaffrey’s Pern world.
  3. young adult? College interrupted my reading years (it’s hard to read anything you’re not assigned!), but once I graduated I also branched out. Romance. Classic literature. I discovered authors like Georgette Heyer, Jasper Fforde, Jim Butcher, Jacqueline Carey, Brandon Sanderson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and more. So many more. It helped, of course, that I worked at Borders Bookstore for a couple years after college. It’s also what brought me back to the world of young adult, a section that didn’t really exist when I actually was a young adult. [Rose: A woman after my own heart!]
  4. adult? These days I read mostly young adult, middle grade, and adult (though mainly sci-fi/fantasy). Most recently, I read and loved Fish in a Treeby Lynda Mullaly Hunt, This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, and The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. Do you manage your own profiles or did you choose someone else to?

I’m on several social media sites and it’s all my own posts and comments! Which is probably why my Facebook and Tumblr pages are all but ignored. Social media is time consuming, and I only have so many hours in the day. I used to be way more involved online and would post several times a day on my various accounts, but I’ve been forced by necessity to pare it back until I mainly check notifications, answer direct messages and comments, and then log off again. I like being able to talk to friends across the country (and the world), however, if I have to choose between social media and either writing time or sleep, social media usually loses.

About Sea of Strangers (The Ryogan Chronicles, #2):

Know your enemy if you want to survive…

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal.

Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.

About Erica Cameron:

Erica Cameron is the author of books for young adults including the Ryogan Chronicles, the Assassins duology, and The Dream War Saga. She also co-authored the Laguna Tides novels with Lani Woodland. An advocate for asexuality and emotional abuse awareness, Erica has also worked with teens at a residential rehabilitation facility in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale.

Website: ByEricaCameron.com

Blog: ByEricaCameron.com/wp/blog/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ByEricaCameron

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ByEricaCameron

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ericacameron

Newsletter: http://byericacameron.com/wp/newsletter/

Interview with Amber Hart

An Interview with Amber Hart, author of Wicked Charm

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

I think whatever book I’ve written last—in this case, Wicked Charm—is always my favorite. It’s fresh on my mind, and exciting, and I adore being able to share it with readers.

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

 

My first stories were written with crayon. They have somehow been lost over the years, which is probably, mercifully, a good thing.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Inspiration is around me daily. I would love to aim for a novel a year, but it does seem to be more around the two year mark. I definitely get many, many more ideas than I’m able to write. I listen to the ones that are the loudest.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

Pen and paper feels the most organic to me, but a laptop is more feasible, so I work on that. I prefer to work at home, with a cup of tea, silence, surrounded my novels, and my cat curled up at my feet.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

When I first started, I had beta readers, but now my agent reads the manuscripts first. Occasionally I hand it over to a trusted friend or fellow author, when they have time to read, and I always appreciate their feedback. I leave the editor decision to my agent and publisher, because they know what’s best for my stories. Thankfully.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I see the need for paper books and ebooks. I love both. I support both. Paper books have the allure of touching a physical copy and giving it a home on your shelf, along with the smell of parchment and ink. Ebooks have the allure of fitting into tighter places and containing many stories all in one device, of being practical for travel, and of being incredible space savers.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

  1. childhood?  Thriller. Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine
  2. adolescence? Fearless series by Francine Pascal and Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  3. young adult? I love all genres, but suppose I lean a little more towards fantasy
  4. adult? Contemporary or fun/flirty romance. I love stories with happy endings.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. Where can my readers find you?

I’m on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, and Goodreads. They all help draw readers to novels!

Amber: Thanks for the interview! I hope readers enjoy Wicked Charm.