Interview with Multi-Genre Author R.A. Winter

RA Winter

I recently made the acquaintance of the energetic, sassy author, R.A. Winter. She writes in several genres, including fantasy, magical realism, dark fantasy, , time travel romance, contemporary Native American romance, and paranormal Native American western. And it seems she never rests when it comes to writing. Please help me to welcome R.A. Winter to Writing to be Read.

Kaye:  Hello and welcome. Would you start by sharing the story of your own publishing journey?

R.A.: I started out writing genealogy nonfiction books under my married name.  I love research and old libraries! I also love reading romances.  With so many ideas flirting around my head, I thought I’d give creative writing a go.

Kaye: Is there anything unique or unusual about your writing process?

R.A.: I write the raunchiest first draft, the humor is way over the top. Then I cut it down, and my crit circle cuts it down further.  My editor slices more.  They say that a bit of humor goes a long way.

Kaye: You have sites on both WordPress and Wix. Can you give us the advantages and disadvantages of each? Which site do you prefer? Why?

R.A.: Wix is easier to deal with, super simple to navigate and change.  WordPress is a bit of a pickle to deal with, and every time I change something, I mess up the page.  I do prefer WordPress because I can easily  share review and pages on a whim.  Wix doesn’t give you that option.

Kaye: You’re on the review team at The Naked Reviewers, where authors can submit a book and request an honest review. Would you like to tell us a little about that site and what the review process is?

R.A.: We have a group of published author on Scribophile.com who formed the group.  Right now, I think there is twelve of us.  When someone submits a book, we all read the first chapter, the ‘look inside’ feature on Amazon.  Then we rate the writing, the blurb, and the cover.  If two of us agree, we review the book.  Each Wednesday, two of us leave our review as a feature, if anyone else read it, they leave their thoughts in the ‘comment’ section.  It does mean that most books that we review get a 4.0 or higher rating, usually.  We wanted to show off the best books.

Kaye: You had bad experience with Amazon regarding reviews. This is something we’re hearing from many authors, although complaints vary. Many reviewers, including myself,  have had book reviews pulled by Amazon, with the claim that their terms of use were violated because of an existing relationship which would bias our opinions. I even heard of an reviewer whose reviews were pulled because Amazon saw that they were Facebook friends, which they claimed indicated a prior relationship. (This doesn’t make sense to me. Many authors who I have done reviews for have become virtual online friends because of the review, not the other way around.) Your experience was a bit different because it wasn’t books that you were reviewing. Would you like to tell us a little about your experience?

R.A.: I ordered products from Amazon.com.  A coffee grinder, a milk frother, and a small coffee taper, they just happened to be from the same company in China.  Now, I review every product I receive, but when I went to upload my reviews, Amazon wouldn’t allow it.  After contacting them, they said that I had a ‘relationship’ with the company in China and that I’d violated their terms.  Apparently, I ordered too many things from them. I just don’t understand. They ask you to review, you review… then they’re like… you review too much! They banned me for LIFE for writing any reviews.

My point to them was- IF I was screwing reviews, wouldn’t my books have like 300 hundred reviews instead of each of them having less then 10? I mean seriously. THAT’S what would have benefited me!

Kaye: What is one thing that your readers would never guess about you?

R.A.: I have five children… all boys. I’ve lived in 5 different countries too. I don’t know which one was harder to live through. And all my boys look like my husband.

Kaye: What are your secrets for juggling writing with family?

R.A.: My kids are older, so they don’t need me. I like to write at night, when the house is quiet and no one interrupts. My earbuds are essential, and a song list that corresponds to my writing mood.

Kaye: You have some really great covers, some of which you’ve shared here. What do you do for cover art? DIY, or hired out, or cookie cutter prefab? Do you have a great cover designer you’d like to recommend?

R.A.: Some  are creations of Kayci Morgan, from KreativeCovers.com.  A few I did myself, which you can probably tell.  Kayci is wonderful to work with and very reasonable.  I am learning Photoshop and I’m doing my own teasers.  I’m getting better but I just don’t have the finesse to do covers well.

Kaye: You have a paranormal romance fantasy novella, Twisted, which I’m excited to be reviewing here on Writing to be Read. (So watch for that review on Friday.) What can you tell us about that story?

TwistedforRAwitheyesR.A.: Twisted is a novella, and one of the hardest things I’ve

written.

It’s a Freaky-Friday, body switching piece… full of adult humor. A witch’s land is cursed. Males are no longer born to the vampires, nor are females born to the wolves. To end the curse, the witch must solve a riddle, and she has to have the cooperation of the vampires and the werewolves.

The only way to make them work together, is to make them work with themselves, so she switches their bodies. The male werewolf becomes the female vamp, and the vamp a male wolf. Then, the fun begins. It’s been called a cross between the “Underworld Series’ and ‘Once upon a Time.’

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

R.A.: My Spirit Key series was a way to keep my cat alive in my memories.  He’d just past away, and Dingle had the oddest personality for a cat. He always reminded me of an old man, you know the one.  The spunky old guy in the nursing home who’s constantly bugging the pretty nurses and running behind them with his walker, never able to catch them.  Occasionally, he’d pinch their behinds, but act like he didn’t do it. I taught Dingle how to wink, but usually he had this grumpy look on his face.  He used to love to jump out and scare me, then give me that ugh, you’re-stupid-to-fall-for-that-again look.  He’s now a ten-thousand year old spirit who has a bit of trickster in him.

Kaye: Your Spirit Key series are westerns with a bit of a different twist to them. Would you like to tell us about them?

R.A.: Contemporary Native American’s in a western setting with magical realism is the gist of the Spirit Key Series.  In book 1, we follow young Sara,  as  the ghosts of ancestors  haunt her days and try to keep her away from young RedHorse.  There’s a new spirit in town, a nefarious one who has his own agenda.  The Old One wants the land for the dead and he’ll do anything to have it, including taking away what Sara loves most.

Kaye: There are two books in The Spirit Key series: Painted Girl and Redhorse. What type of research did you do for these books?

R.A.: The first two book are contemporary, set in modern day Kansas on a farm.  Books 3 and 4 (which are almost finished) go back to 1950, and we delve into Grandfather’s life, and that of the ten-thousand year old spirit who watches over them.  My research centered on the old Indian Schools, and the horrors that the children underwent.  It’s all to stop the spirits from invading this world, and to give grandfather his happy ending.  The Native American research is from my family.

Kaye: You also write contemporary romance with a Native American twist. What about Little Sparrow, A Kiowa in Love or Red Dress, Two Wives?

R.A.: Those were my early books.  I’ve taken the ebooks down, and now I’m writing those into the Spirit Key Series.  Everyone is related, so it made sense to do that.  I kept the hard copies up because a few people really liked them the way they were.  My writing evolved, and I thought those two would be great as part of the Spirit Key Series with some rework.

Kaye: What is the attraction for adding a Native American element to your writing?

R.A.: Two fold.  My grandmother was ‘found’.  It was assumed that she was Native American.  This was in the 1880’s, a time when the tribes had to travel west and were forced onto reservations.  Our family farm was near one of the routes and my grandfather brought home a baby girl one day, saying that he’d found her. My cousins are Sioux.  I barely remember the eldest two girls but I do remember their beauty.  One day, when I was only six years old, they disappeared.  Just up and gone.  Our family went nuts, as you can imagine.  It wasn’t until twelve years later that we learned that they had been taken west  to different orphanages and divided up.   (This was the early ’70’s when the government still took NA children on a whim.)  Anyway, my stories revolve around finding your identity when you don’t know who you are, when you have no memories of your family.  My Native American family is rooted by my life stories. You know that you’re different, but you feel the same as everyone else.  You just have to find your own special, because it’s there, you don’t have to go looking for it.  It just may be hiding in plain sight.

Kaye: I’m also very interested in your time travel romances, As Long As I Have You and Always With You. What can you share with us about them?

Always With YouR.A.: These were part of an anthology, and part of a series inside the anthology. The rules  are simple, Cupid owns a bar, and his mate has a special tattoo that glows when soul mates are touched.  In book 1, Ann Paolo comes to the bar with her dog.  Unbeknownst to her, the dog, Han, is the spirit of a long dead Native American,  who has been cursed to follow Ann through time, always to love her, and be loved, but never to be with her.  Cupid sends them back in time, so Han can erase his curse.  In book 2, Ann’s back, because so many lifetimes couldn’t be rewritten.  This time, Cupid calls on the fates to bring Han to life in this day and time.  The fates have a bit of trouble writing him into time-line, so they turn to Netflix for ideas.  Han is now, Dan Winchesty, from the TV show Super-Unnatural Killers and Revealers  Suckers for short.  You know, Dan Winchesty- the one with the perky nipples?  It’s a spoof on Supernatural, and I think it’s hilarious, but that’s just my opinion.

Kaye: What is your favorite genre to write in so far? Why?

R.A.: I love magical realism and fantasy.  Creating my own world, and rules, takes a lot of thought and design.  You just can’t pop something on paper, it has to make sense, have rules, have life, and you have to bring a reader into your world and make them happy.

Kaye: How much non-writing work, (marketing & promotion, illustrations & book covers, etc…), do you do yourself for your books?

R.A.: I do all my own marketing, which isn’t much.  Word of mouth is my best friend, because lets face it, my works are different.  I just had a review from a guy, who said that someone at work bullied him into reading it and he loved it, even with the romance in the book.  I think that was a compliment.

Kaye: If one of your books was made into a film, which book would you want it to be? And who would you like to play the lead?

R.A.: Hmm, I’d love the Spirit Key to be a series on Netflix, but for a movie, I’d chose Twisted. Sam Witwer and Meaghan Rath. They had great chemistry in Being Human.  Now, however, Meaghan would be a vampire, and Sam would be a wolf.

Kaye: What’s next? What does the future look like for R.A, Winter?

R.A.: Oh, I have at least six books in various stages of completion. Twisted will be turned
into a series, readers have asked for that. I’m also writing a series about Death Takers
coming alive and finding love. It’s a dark romance series that takes the reader on a
journey to Tartarus and the bowels of hell. Book 1 is finished, book 2 is halfway. Once
book 2 is ready I’ll publish.

Kaye: If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

R.A.: I’ve done a lot of things on my bucket list. I’ve traveled the world, lived in five different countries and enjoyed most of my life. If I had a lot of money, I’d pay off my family’s student loans. Right now, it’s around 200k, and I’m serious. It would be life changing for them to pay off their debts. BTW, I have one family member, with 100k debt who graduated from Pitt with a bachelor’s in psychology. Anyone have any job prospects for him? E-mail me.

I want to thank R.A. Winter for joining us today and putting up with my interrogation. Seriously though, she was really a good sport about answering all of my questions with open, honest answers. You can find out more about her and her writing on her website, her Spirit Keys site, or her Amazon Author Page.

 

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Interview with author Ashley Scott

Ashley Scott

I always love to do interviews with new authors, because they get so excited. The first interview I ever did, with Dan Alatore, I was riding on the top of the world. For me, it signified that this was it and I was really a published author. Today we have an up and coming author with us, Ashley Scott, whose debute novel is a dark fantasy action thriller, Demon Anarchy. She’s here today to tell us about her book and a little about herself, as well.

Kaye: Would you share the story of your own publishing journey?

Ashley: My publishing story began with a manuscript of course. Once completed, my beta readers tore it apart piece by piece. I had to make changes before daring to pass it along to my editor, who also helped strengthen my story, Demon Anarchy, before deciding where to publish. Should I publish through a house or self publish through a website? After doing some research I decided to self publish through Amazon with assistance of a few friends who have done this process before. I love how simple it was however my next goal is to publish a book through a publishing house.

Kaye: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

Ashley: I guess you could say a little bit of both. If I plot out my story chapter by chapter (I’ve tried this method before and it took me weeks, I finally accomplished beginning to end and threw all my notes out because I grew bored of the story). This proved to me I required some mystery involved in plotting my stories. So now I write very minimal notes and type what comes to mind. I believe some plotting is good to keep the flow of your story and to keep your readers interested.

Kaye: What is the one thing in your writing career that is the most unusual or unique thing you’ve done so far?

Ashley: Um….how about try ‘too hard’? If that’s a thing? I used to get up in the early hours of dawn to type a page or two before going to college or going to work. I also used to trial so many different methods of plotting and note taking it drove me insane! So I settled for what currently works and blocked out a reasonable amount of time during the day to type.

Kaye: Would you like to talk a little about your blog or website?

Ashley: Currently, I don’t have a blog. I only have a website where you can find a buy link to my book Demon Anarchy along with my contact information and monthly author interviews I post to help authors succeed at reaching out to their audiences.

Kaye: What was the most fun interview you’ve ever done? Why?

Ashley: I’ve only completed a few author interviews so far, I think all of them are fun to do in a way.

Kaye: Would you like to tell us a little about Demon Anarchy?

Ashley: Would I ever! It’s not only a page flipper flooded with action including explosive weaponry, but also combined with entrancing romantic encounters and a twisted plot line. It opens to New York City, the big apple, where the reader discovers demons lurching in the shadows of the city living off the blood of humans. Only agents know of their existence, the rest are left blind to the war about to appear within the allies and streets.

Time isn’t on their side when the agents discover the leader of the demons appear and wreak havoc among the city by rallying the numbers, creating Demon Anarchy.

Demon Anarchy

Kaye: If Demon Anarchy was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Ashley: I keep jumping between two main characters. Alice, an agent trained to kill demons, and Damien a half demon who feels trapped between the human the demon world. Damien would be my first choice, Mr. Bad Apple and won’t take a no for an answer, however Alice whose stubborn and strong willed personality takes a close second. I would cast Milla Jovovich as Alice, and Christian Bale as Damien.

Kaye: It seems that you travel quite a bit. Have any of the places you’ve traveled ended up in your books? Which ones?

Ashley: I love to travel, which is why I’ve traveled different parts of the world with my husband. Yes, I’ve traveled to New York City which is the setting for my story Demon Anarchy as portrayed with descriptions of alleyways during rainy nights and the busy crowded streets filled with people during the day. I always thought the big apple would be the perfect location for demons lurking in the shadows.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Ashley: Not sure….there has been so many random moments where all I have to do is listen to the right music or see something that sparks my imagination and my thoughts go wild.

Kaye: What can you tell us about what’s in store for your readers? Any WIPs you’d like talk about?

Ashley: I’m currently 22 weeks pregnant and am due in November, so my writing has slowed down a bit. But I’m still hammering away at the first book of a trilogy consisting of young women who revolutionize their kingdom in the early 1800’s. The book I’m currently typing is about a young woman who fights against the world of men to become the first female professor in her kingdom by entering the king’s challenge, a challenge of the mind proven to pluck out the smartest individual in Cirus whose worthy enough to tutor the future heir to the throne. However within time the plot could change a little depending on my mood/interest, but this is the strongest plot I’m currently focusing a lot of my time and effort on.

Kaye: Describe yourself in three words.

Ashley: Friendly. Gregarious. Social.

Kaye: Your introduction on your Facebook page says, “Multi-tasking is my talent”. Besides writing, what are your other talents?

Ashley: Playing tennis, editing manuscripts, and developing exercise programs for the elderly.

I want to thank Ashley Scottt for joining us today. I hope you had as much fun answering the questions as I did asking them. For those of you who would like to learn more about Ashley Scott and her writing, you can drop by any of the links below.
Links:
Author Website: www.authorashleylscott.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashley.scott.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorashscott
Amazon Author Website: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B01M0KUCO5/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true
Book Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Demon-Anarchy-Ashley-Scott-ebook/dp/B01LXLWA6I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531256826&sr=8-1&keywords=Demon+Anarchy
Google+ : https://plus.google.com/u/1/115295645549324942619
Ashley Scott Banner

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If you’re an author and you’d like to be interviewed on Writing to be Read, email Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com and put Interview Request in the subject line.


Interview with author Tom Johnson

Tom's Back Cover Picture

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing an old hand in the writing and publishing business, author Tom Johnson. Tom has written stories from a young age. He has been publishing his writing for more than twenty-two years and has over eighty books in publication. He grew up reading comic books and pulp fiction, becoming a collector in adulthood and his stories reflect the fascination that those books held for him. He has also written numerous nonfiction books and is currently involved in writing children’s stories. Please help me welcome Tom Johnson.

Kaye: Hi Tom. Although in the past, you’ve written and published many different genres, you are currently writing only children’s stories. So, let’s talk about that. Tell me a little about your stories.

Tom: My children stories are about 1k and meant as bedtime tales, and to be read in classroom or library settings. They are short stories with little morals to teach children something about life.

Kaye: Are they a series or stand alone?

Tom: They are a series, and published in anthologies about once a year. There have been four anthologies so far. I was invited to participate beginning in volume  #3. The anthology is called Wire Dog Storybook. Here is the background. True story. A young girl, Ellen Walters, asked her father, David Walters, if she could have a dog, and he said, “No.” So she found an old wire hanger and shaped it to resemble a dog, and called it wire dog. David Walters was fascinated by her ingenuity and created the Wire Dog Storybooks. So the stories usually feature Ellen and Wire Dog, but always Wire Dog. Five of my stories have been published so far, and I’ve written three more for the 2018 yearbook when it comes out at the end of the year.

Kaye: What age group are they aimed at?

Tom: I feel that we should begin reading to our children by age one. With that in mind, my stories are aimed at the age group of 1 to 5. However, older children will enjoy the stories, as do adults.

To get a better idea of what Tom’s children’s stories are like, you can get a free copy of one here. They are short and can be read in only a few minutes.: Wire Dog Has An Ugly Mood Day Or The House of 1000 Mirrors https://wiredogstories.com/2016/01/19/story-40-wire-dog-has-an-ugly-mood-day/

Kaye: What differences do you see between writing for children and writing adult fiction?

Tom: Adult fiction usually means, “no holds barred”, while writing children stories you want to stay away from violence, horror, and adult themes. Keep in mind, young children absorb what they hear quickly, and some themes could have an adverse effect on young minds. When writing for children we must keep this in mind.

Kaye: What appeals to you about writing for children?

Tom: Do you remember the old radio show for kids, Let’s Pretend ? It produced shows for children that acted out fairy tales and light adventures – nothing as harsh as today’s cartoons that are aimed at our youth. Well, I have the chance to import my love for adventure in tales easily understood by young people; children who some day may also experience that same love to pass on to their children. Stories that give our children a moral to live by, not “It’s clobbering time!” Or Pow! Bang! Boom! It’s something my mother did for me when I was little, and now I have the same opportunity, and I’m not going to pass it up.

You can get the Wire Dog books here:

Wire Dog Storybook #3 http://www.lulu.com/shop/david-clyde-walters/wire-dog-storybook-3-in-full-color/paperback/product-22554849.html

Wire Dog Storybook #4 http://www.lulu.com/shop/david-clyde-walters/wire-dog-storybook-4-in-color/paperback/product-23424745.html

Kaye: You have wanted to write for children since you were little and your mother used to read to you.

Tom: Oh, yes. I hope that mothers are still reading to their children. They learn at such a young age, and we’re missing an opportunity if we fail them when they’re young. They will never forget what they learn as children, it’s when their minds are growing and grasping at everything. I think one of the first words they learn is, “Why?”

Kaye: What were your favorite children’s stories?

Tom: Really, I would have to look them up in the book of fairy tales on my shelf. There were so many she read to me. Knights saving young damsels come to mind. I remember one particular fairy tale where the princess was on a glass mountain, and the young knight had to save her. She watched each day as a knight riding brown horse attempts to scale the glass mountain, then a knight on a white horse, and so on, until the final day when a knight riding a great steed scales the mountain, and we find out that he was the knight on the brown horse, the white horse, etc. It wasn’t the color of the horse, but the persistence of the knight that finally achieved the goal.

Kaye: In what ways do the stories you write emulate those favorites from your childhood?

Tom: Like the fairy tale I mentioned above, my stories will also have a similar moral – it’s not the color of the horse, or the knight’s armor, but his persistence that wins the hand of the princess. Do the right thing, for the right reason. Persevere. If you don’t succeed today, try and try again.

Kaye: You have written since you were a young man, for fifty some years, and you had your own small press for many years. Always, your life seems to have writing at the center of it. Looking back on your life, what does writing mean to you?

Tom: I think writing was always an escape to other worlds, other realms, and other dimensions. We could be anyone we wanted, go anywhere we wished, and experience great adventures. We create those worlds and people we want in them, and our heroes and heroines are who we want to be, or the friends we want beside us. We choose those things that mean the most to us. Whether we’re a cowboy or cowgirl, Conan or Xena, we bring the characters to life. That’s what writing means to me, to give life to my characters.

Kaye: How do you see the rise of digital publishing affecting authors of today?

Tom: Publishing has never been easier. When we were publishing the small press magazines, it was hands on. We did every aspect of the business, from reading, approving or rejecting, editing, set up and printing, then mailing to subscribers and bookstores that carried our magazines. Today we have Lulu and Amazon for all that. We just write, they publish. Anyone can be a writer or publisher now.

These Alien SkiesKaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Tom: I had a dream one night. A young boy was in the woods dying when a strange being found him and comforted him as he passed. The strange being was an alien and I saw the saucer-shaped craft behind him. When I woke the dream stayed with me. Did the alien kill the boy? Why was the alien there? What was the boy doing in the woods? It wouldn’t let go of me. I wrote What Goes There from that dream. The boy was dying from snakebite and the alien took his pain from him so he could pass more easily. Then I made a mystery with the plot. The story is part of my book, These Alien Skies.

Kaye: Is there anything unique or unusual about your writing process?

Tom: When I write, I don’t want to be disturbed. No music, no background noise at all. My work computer is in my bedroom. I close my door from all outside communication, telephone, wife, neighbors, etc. I have to be alone when I write.

Kaye: You’ve written over eighty books in many different genres over the course of your career. Which of your books would you say are your favorites? Why?

Guns of the Black GhostTom: If we’re speaking of my fiction stories I would probably say my favorite is Guns of The Black Ghost, as it is my homage to Walter Gibson and his character The Shadow (remember him). The Shadow was one of my favorite radio dramas as a kid, and I met the creator of the character, Walter Gibson, in the mid-1970s and we were friends until his passing. I always wanted to write a Shadow novel, but copyright protection kept me from it, thus my own character, The Black Ghost came into being.

However, my non-fiction research books are probably my best sellers. I’ve written over half a dozen of them. A lot of work went into them. A lot of reading and studying, and I think it paid off, as fans have all bought the huge books for the data. These are books that don’t get thrown away, but have a special place on their bookshelves.

Kaye: So, tell us a little about your nofiction books. What is the subject matter and how did you come to write them?

Tom: As a pulp collector it was natural for me to become a historian. I had completed runs in many of the lead characters, thus had the opportunity to study the novels for research, identifying authors, plots, etc. At the time I was writing fiction and Introductions for ALTUS PRESS books, and the publisher wanted my research put into books. Some of those series were Secret Agent X Companion, Operator #5 Companion (History of The Purple Wars), The Phantom Detective Companion, The Black Bat Companion, Dan Fowler’s G-Men Companion, and Echoes 30. Several ran for twenty years, and 171 issues. Some not so long, but just as popular to the fan and collectors today. There may be others, my mind is slipping, but these were the big volumes. They covered the complete pulp series of each title. Echoes 30 covered conventions, pulp books, authors, artists, and publishers. All are in demand and have been good sellers.

 

Kaye: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

Tom: I’m a pantser. I never could understand why you needed to write a fifty-page plot outline, just write the darn book. Once the words start flowing you don’t want them to stop. And they will, if you’re outlining.

Kaye: What do you think is the single most important element in a story?

Tom: Characterization. Make your characters come alive. You want readers to connect to them, feel for them, and be drawn to them. The plot will work itself out, but if your characters aren’t real I don’t care how much of a plot you have, it will bomb.

Kaye: If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Tom: I don’t know that I would want to be rich and famous. What would be next? I want to always be reaching, always trying to entertain. If I set my goal for rich and famous I might forget about the entertainment and pleasure we get from writing. If I entertain one person, then I am already rich. Besides, we already have money, and fame is fleeting at best.

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Tom: Write what you know. I’ve read a lot of books where the author is writing about something s/he knows nothing about, and it shows. I know information is at the tip of one’s fingers today, but if you haven’t truly experienced something you will come off as unbelievable if you try to write about the subject.

I want to thank Tom for joining us today on Writing to be Read and offering up some really great answers to my questions. I have really enjoyed having him. If you’d like to learn more about Tom Johnson or his books you can check out his website or his Amazon Author Page.

 

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Interview with Paranormal Romance Novelist Lilly Rayman

L Rayman

I’m pleased to welcome romance author Lilly Rayman as my guest here on Writing to be Read. Lilly is an Australian author who writes both paranormal romance and historic romance, and has short stories featured in several anthologies. I recently met Lilly during a Facebook book event and I’m looking forward to reading her work. (Watch for my review of An Unexpected Mating in future reviews.) Today she’s here to share the details of her writing and give us a glimpse into her upcoming release, An Unexpected Revelation, the second book in her Unexpected Trilogy, which is scheduled for release the end of this month.

Kaye: Hi Lilly. Would you share the story of your author’s journey?

Lilly: I would write when I was a teenager, stories that were a collage of my favourite books that I had read at the time. But then after I left school, I stopped writing, although I did keep reading. After my first daughter was born, I was reading a lot, and I found Wattpad, allowing me to read freely. But after reading a lot of amateur stories that all had the same cliché storylines, I found myself with a whole new story in my mind that avoided those cliché’s. I used Wattpad to write it, and it got great feedback. I was encouraged to add my story to an online writing competition, and it won best work and most popular work. The prize money allowed me to get it edited, and then I published An Unexpected Bonding, book one of the Unexpected Trilogy. I was hooked, and storylines came flowing out of me. I’ve since published a pair of short stories that challenge the concept of HEA, called Mated Hearts, and my first Historical Romance, Red Wolf, which is a story that has been with me for 13 years or so, and I was so pleased to finally be able to write it. I also have an anthology story connected to my trilogy published, and a permafree short story companion novel to the trilogy.

Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Lilly: I think I’ve always wanted to be an author, it just took me a while to actually get to this point in my life. I used to write a lot as a child, and then as a teenager I wrote to escape from bullies that tormented my school life. Then life after school got in the way, although I would still read. When I had my first daughter, I found myself once more wanting to sit down and write again.

Red Wolf - Mine

Kaye: Is Red Wolf the only historical romance you’ve written?

Lilly: Red Wolf is currently the only historical fiction at present that is published, but I have another historical in progress at the moment.

Kaye: What is it that appeals to you about historic fiction?

Lilly: Red Wolf, the prologue was a scene that has been in my mind since I was 19, and beside the strengthening of my use of words, tense ect, it hasn’t changed. The following story that centres around that scene has, and honestly it is a far better story than it ever would have been had I followed the original immature story idea I originally had.

As for why it appeals? I’m not that sure. It was simpler time, if not sometimes more violent or harder. But men were men, chivalry wasn’t dead and there is a romance to historical eras that has always appealed to me as reader from a young age alongside all my fantasy books.

Tas TLC Mated Hearts

Kaye: You describe your two story combo, Mated Hearts, as a paranormal romance with a western flair. How did you end up with such an unusual genre combo?

Lilly: Paranormal with western flair, means my shifters are cowboys or country folk. My Unexpected Series is set in Texas, and The Last Centaur is set in Montana. As for how I ended up with the unusual genre combo? I guess because I’m married to an Aussie stockman, which is basically a cowboy, and the life we’ve lived, in the stock camps, mustering cattle, catching bulls, attending rodeos, it gave me some experience to draw on. I just couldn’t rationalise a wolf pack running around Australia, so settled for Texas as my setting instead.
Kaye: Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?
Lilly: Reading, spending time with my family, and working on the farm, which includes feeding cattle and horses, as well as branding time.
Kaye: If you have a blog, how did that start and what is it about?
Lilly: I only have a basic blog on my website, which is to try and keep an online presence when I decided to publish as an independent author.
Kaye: Tell us about your Facebook readers group, Lilly’s Lycans.
Lilly: Lilly’s Lycans is a reader group with style. I’ve been working at building up my group since March, and slowly its building in numbers. I try to have an active schedule of fun posts and encourage other authors to participate twice a week to introduce my Lycan’s to a variety of authors. I also run a reader rewards program, which is a special surprise treat, something different, at the end of every month for the most active member of the group.
Kaye: Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?
Lilly: Anne Maccaffery. She was the most talented wordsmith who created the world of Pern, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with every one of her Dragon’s their riders, and all the holders or journeymen.
Kaye: What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story? What’s the least fun part?
Lilly: The most fun is creating a story that people can fall into and float through it rather than simply read it. The least fun is when you’ve got two books scheduled to come out in the near future.

Kaye: How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the process for you?
Lilly: Some titles come to me with the initial concept of the story. Other titles come to me as I work through the story.

Kaye: What is the working title of your next book?
Lilly: Which one? Lol. I have two dragon stories in progress, Dragon Scorned and Heartstone of Dragons. I also have an historical romance called Roping Her Duke on the Go. I’m also working on An Unexpected Hellhound, which is the final book in my trilogy, and I will be a part of a collaboration and a couple of anthologies in 2019.

AUR Death of Me

Kaye: Can you tell us a little about An Unexpected Revelation and An Unexpected Hellhound? When are they scheduled for release?
Lilly: An Unexpected Revelation is the second book of my Unexpected Trilogy and is due for release on the 30th June. An Unexpected Hellhound is the last book of the trilogy, and I am hoping to have it ready for a 2019 release.
Kaye: What is the one thing in your writing career that is the most unusual or unique thing you’ve done so far?
Lilly: Probably “Love Hurts”. It was a very short story that was published in the Love Sucks: An Anti-Valentines Day Anthology that was released in February 2018. It was a challenge to me as a romance author to actually write something so anti-romance. I am rather pleased with how well it turned out.
Kaye: What do you think is the single most important element in a story?
Lilly: Avoiding the cliché of other books in the genre.

Kaye: With that in mind, can you tell me what makes your books different?

Lilly: The main complaint I had with werewolf stories was the weak knee heroines needing to be rescued by an aggressive alpha who was fated to the complete opposite (who in reality would never work with that sort of personality, they would be beaten and downtrodden). Or the whole element of mate rejection, and the mess that ensues that is the whole basis of the story that just has a reader growling.

The alternative to the weak knee heroine is a finger raised, crass mouthed, kill them all bad ass. Or at least these were what I was reading a lot of when An Unexpected Bonding was first conceived.
An Unexpected Bonding has a pair of leading characters who are both heart broken from losing the loves of their lives. They are attracted to each other when they meet, but have to work past their own heart ache of grief to see what is in front of them. Mate bonds aren’t necessarily instantly recognised, unless the wolf is open to finding their mate, and when they are, the bond is seen and the mate wanted.
My story might be paranormal, but it is still filled with the normal issues of every day life, and dealt with in the same way. Liv is a strong character, yet she is not a bad ass, crass mouth. She also has her weaknesses and her flaws.
The history of my vampires and wolf nation is steeped into mythology in such a way that readers comment on how believable it makes it feel, that they can read (as a normal contemporary reader) and accept without question the magic and power of the supernatural and their characters.

Kaye: What do you do for cover art? DIY, or hired out, or cookie cutter prefab?
Lilly: I have the most amazing cover artist who does the most awesome cover art for me.

Livvie - Lupa2

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Lilly: It wasn’t advice per say that was given personally to me, but rather a book I downloaded by Rayne Hall, The Word Loss Diet. The contents of that book have held with me from the moment I read it and applied it to my first book, An Unexpected Bonding. I try and keep those rules and the advice in the book, at the forefront of my mind whilst I write, and again while I edit. It allows me to present, what I believe is a more professional polished book, since the advice gives authors the chance to lift their work up from the amateur level of writing to a more professional feel.

Kaye: Would you like to share links to your books and website, etc… so that readers who are interested will know where to find you?

Lilly:

Website: http://lillyrayman0007.wixsite.com/lillyrayman

Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9866872.Lilly_Rayman

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Lilly-Rayman/e/B00X5CR5QC

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/LillyRayman0007/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lillyrayman0007

Books – Buy links and blurbs:

Red Wolf (FREE in KU / $2.99)
BUY LINK: Books2read.com/RedWolf
By royal dictate, Lady Jacqueline, tempestuous Duchess of Wolvarden and tall, dark and dashingly handsome Prince Leopold of Mercia, are to be married, whether they want to or not.
Although their first meeting is less than promising, they eventually reach an understanding, but what began as a discharge of duty for Leopold, quickly becomes his most fervent wish.
The only obstacle to Leopold’s desire seems to be Red Wolf, resident champion knight of Wolvarden. Will the only knight able to defeat Prince Leopold stand in the way of his quest to win his duchesses heart?
Meanwhile, danger stalks Wolvarden, and Leopold may find Red Wolf is not the enemy after all.

An Unexpected Bonding: Book 1 in The Unexpected Trilogy (FREE in KU / $2.99)
BUY LINK: Books2read.com/AnUnexpectedBonding
For centuries there has been hatred, bloodshed and killing between the vampire and wolf nations.
Livvie
After the death of her mother, she was now the only wolf-less member of the Romulus pack, and found it almost impossible to live with them. With the Alpha’s permission she left to travel the country. When she fell in love, she found her place in the world and settled with the man of her dreams on his cattle ranch in Texas. But after nearly a decade away from the pack, Livvie’s life is about to change. Will she embrace this change or fight it?
Darius
The vampire, son of the Egyptian Sun God Ra, is wandering. His heart is aching, and his soul is restless. Eventually he finds himself in Texas, working for a beautiful woman with a magnetic pull he does not understand. It’s only when she is taken from him, that he recognises a bond that is stronger than all others. The truth of that bond will shake him to his core.
Will the unexpected bonding between wolf and vampire be enough to overcome the centuries of hatred and bring peace and unity to all?
Will the wolf and the vampire overcome their own heartaches to accept their bonding and let romance evolve?
Best Work and Most Popular Work in the iParchment writing rally 2014.

Mated Hearts (FREE in KU / 99c)
BUY LINK: Books2read.com/MatedHearts
Mated Hearts brings together two short stories from Paranormal Romance author Lilly Rayman. The Last Centaur has Lilly’s “Western Flair”, and StarCrossed is set in Lilly’s home country of Australia and brings a paranormal twist to everyone’s favourite Shakespearian tragedy.
The Last Centaur
Tasunke likes to keep to himself on his modest property on Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Breeding horses are his life and livelihood, after all, he understands horses better than people. One day, Tas finds his quiet existence on the remote plains at the foot of the Rocky Mountains being disturbed when he stumbles across a beautiful young woman in need of help.
Paisley is on the run. An abusive boyfriend threatened to kill her. When she overhears him planning to kill someone, she knows he will make good on his threat. In an attempt to make it back to Canada before he can kill her, she finds her car tumbling off the roadside.
Just when she thinks she is about to die, she is rescued by a rugged cowboy. Can Tas keep them both safe from a murderous boyfriend?
StarCrossed
Julie Capaldi; senator’s daughter and Roman Montana; bikie bad-boy find their eyes meeting across the crowded dance floor of the Verona bar. Their love is instant, their mating forbidden.
StarCrossed is the tragic story of two young wolves destined for each other, yet having to fight their warring families for the chance to be together forever. Both stories contain mature content, which includes but is not limited to sexual scenes, swearing and violence.

An Unexpected Mating: Companion Novel to The Unexpected Trilogy (FREE EVERYWHERE)
BUY LINK: books2read.com/AnUnexpectedMating

AUM Blurb

Will the love of his children be enough to give meaning to his life?

I want to thank Lilly for joining us today and sharing her writings and her thoughts with us.

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Interview with author B. Lynn Goodwin

B. Lynn Goodwin

My guest today is an author with a unique story. She’s published three books, two of which are nonfiction, inspired by her own experiences. The third is a work of fiction, so she traverses both realms. In addition she does editing and acts as a writing coach for her fellow authors on her site, Writer Advice. Her book, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62, which she’s going to tell us about, has recently become a 2018 National Indie Excellence Award finalist. I am pleased to welcome B. Lynn Goodwin to Writing to be Read.

Kaye: Would you share briefly the story of your own publishing journey?

Lynn: I began writing seriously while I was also caring for my mother in the last years of her life. It was a great outlet. I also began Writer Advicewww.writeradvice.com, which started as an e-mail newsletter with a mailing list of 35. Sorry this isn’t linear—but life events often overlap.

Since my mother was a private person, I decided not to tell her story. A better option was writing a book to help caregivers journal relieve stress, and You Want Me to Do WHAT?: Journaling for Caregivers was born.

Afterwards, I returned to a book I’d started years earlier, a YA that I renamed Talent. It was incomplete until I gave the protagonist, Sandee Mason, a brother. The pitch became “Sandee Mason wants to find her talent, get her license, and stop living in the shadow of her big brother, who disappeared while serving in Afghanistan.” The publisher, Eternal Press, has changed three times since I signed the contract. While I was doing both of these books I also started running writing contests on Writer Advice and had the pleasure of reading some amazing books from Random House for review.

Richard and LynnKaye: Your most recent book is Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. This book is your story in memoir. Would you tell us a little about how this book came into being?

Lynn: I knew Richard was special by our second date. Maybe earlier. To find out how I knew, read the book. 😉

I began taking notes early on, because he told me he was looking for a wife before we met, and I thought that if this worked out, or even if it didn’t, the story of a 62-year-old woman who had never been married and a two-time widower she met on Craigslist had to be unique. To find out why, read the book.

Kaye: You recently became a 2018 National Indie Excellence Award finalist for Never Too Late. Did you do anything special to get to that point?

Lynn: Only if you consider entering special. I’ve been looking for indie contests where I thought I might stand a chance. This one looked a bit too big, but I entered it anyway.

Kaye: Writing memoir requires an author to open up and reveal parts of themselves. For many that’s hard to do. What motivates you to share your story with others?

Lynn: I figured if a woman who looked like me and had my level of inexperience could get married at 62 there was hope for everyone. Women needed to know that. Richard read the book before I sent it out, and I put the rest of the world on a back burner.

Kaye: What is it you hope your readers will come away with from Never Too Late?

Lynn: It is never too late to find happiness, especially when you accept what is and is not within your control.

R & Me

Kaye: Your previous works include You Want Me To Do What?: Journaling for Caregivers, and Talent, the story of a young girl who lost her older brother in Afghanistan and is struggling to get out from under the stigma of his death to become her own value. How is Never Too Late different from the other books you’ve written?

Lynn: Every book is different. Never Too Late is a memoir that reads like a novel. The only other novel I’d written was for young adults. The only other book for adults I’d written was about empowering oneself by journaling. Self-help meets how-to, as one reviewer put it.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Lynn: Tough question. I’ve played around with telling a story from the pov of a mentally ill woman, and that was both unsettling and intriguing. I’m not mentally ill, but I’ve read about mental illness, and I’m fascinated by all the different ways we see the world.

Kaye: On your site, Writer’s Advice, you give out a lot of advice to fellow writers. What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Lynn: Although I’m not sure what was best, here are the statements I remember well:
1. When free writing, go wherever the writing takes you.
2. Edit later.
3. Go deeper (whatever that means to you).
4. Put your writing in a different font and color and read it out loud or have someone read it to you. It will help you catch the errors you never see.
5. You don’t lose until you quit trying.

Kaye: If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Lynn: Seriously? I don’t think there’s much I’d change, though if I were famous, I’d make more time for interviews, and if I were rich, I hope I’d give to causes that make the world better.

Kaye: For you, what is the biggest challenge of being a writer?

Lynn: I couldn’t say whether it’s being more open to suggestions or rising above the doubts that plague all of us (except the top 3% and even they may have doubts).

Kaye: What kind of Chinese food do you order all the time?

Lynn: Zucchini chicken or beef broccoli with steamed rice, but we don’t eat Chinese food all the time.

I want to thank Lynn for joining us and sharing with us today. It’s been a pleasure chatting with her. And thank all my readers for joining us, too. If you want to learn more about B. Lynn Goodwin, check her out on Writer Advice or visit her Amazon Author page.

 

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Interview with Independent Author Chele Pedersen Smith

Chele

Our guest today on Writing to be Read is a newly blossoming independent author of two very different books; the first a spy romance and the second a collection of inspirational stories, Chele Pedersen Smith. I recently met Chele through a Facebook book event in which I was lucky enough to win a free copy of her spy romance, Behind Frenemy Lines. After chatting with her, I see many ways in which she and I are kindred spirits, including that she also put off pursuing her passion until our later years, and also in her enthusiasm for the craft and the many creative ideas she has for getting her works into readers’ hands. I’ve enjoyed interviewing her and I hope my readers will enjoy it to as I share it with you.

Kaye: In On Writing, Stephen King talks about how he started his writing career with his brother, printing news on an old printing press, using grape jelly for ink. You have a similar start. Would you share the story of your author’s journey?

Chele: Sure! I’ve been writing since the bicentennial, which sounds really ancient and colonial. Ha-ha. In sixth grade when my best friend Debby and I won the school’s first annual hobby contest with our collaborated mystery booklets. We were totally shocked because a classmate entered her motorcycle and we thought for sure Annette would win. It just goes to show that sometimes the best things are simple and come in small packages!

In junior high, I wrote a teen mystery series my friends loved to read, sometimes before the ink dried on a chapter. I’d fold bunch of unlined white paper and staple it. The plots revolved around protagonist Sherri Whitman and her friend Anna Daine. Anna was more like me, the ordinary girl with ironic luck and Sherri was my alter ego— pretty, more daring and often accomplished what she set out to do. There are 17 books in this series, mostly short booklets until high school when I switched to writing on notebook paper fastened in folders. A bridging symbol between the booklets and the note books is book nine written in a blank journal. Now, that felt like a real book and I think it was the beginning of a serious dream.

With more room to write in the folders and a little maturity, the stories morphed into multiple, more complicated plots. In high school, I took all the writing electives and was on the school paper senior year as well as my first semester of college where I started to major in communications.

One day watching Romancing the Stone, Kathleen Turner’s character was a writer and I noticed she typed her books on a typewriter off the top of her head. I thought, “That is what real writers do!” so I started writing that way too. It was hard to think that way at first, and typewriters did not have the ease computers have today when it came to errors. Now it is second nature to write this way. I still use journals to jot down ideas and I have a separate document on each book called, “Notes for Behind Frenemy Lines,” etc. That way I can cut and paste dialogue if I want to save it for another place, or remind myself what I want to include in the story.

At 21, I tried my first stab at getting published. It was a Sherri manuscript about an amazing mystery that happened to me during my first semester of college. I sent it to a publishing house for young adults and got my first rejection! I was bummed but proceeded to send it to several young adult publishers who said it was too short. So I added other mysteries and back stories from previous Sherri books, but it still got rejected. Only Scholastic gave me detailed criticism and sent me two paperbacks to use as examples. By then I was a newlywed and put it aside to figure out later. I was focused on writing short stories and sending them to Redbook because they use to have contests. I never won but I still have those and other short stories from the 80s, as well as most of the Sherri series.

SherriBooks.jpg

After years of hiatus, I got back into fiction writing the summer of 2013. An idea for a story kept circling my head like a vulture. It would not go away. Characters formed, names were tried on for size. The perfect first hook crafted itself. Finally one morning, I made coffee, opened a Word doc and then typed out that sentence. And just like that I was writing again! The story is called Confessions of a Goody-Goody and is a bit of a struggle at times because it is based on real life juicy events. I thought Goody-Goody would be my first book, but I got stuck halfway through. It got too personal and I didn’t know how to proceed.

In the meantime, I enrolled in college so I set aside. I took creative writing courses and the writing prompts helped me take Goody-Goody to a higher level. Plus I am adding in a lot of fiction, so I do plan to finish it! In fact, a chapter excerpt appears in our latest literary magazine to set my goal in ink!

Kaye: You gave up a promising career in the health care field to become an author. How do you justify that? Any regrets?

Chele: I had quitter’s remorse at first. I rarely give up on something, but after bailing after just one week in the dental hygiene program, I cried hysterically. What had I done? I felt lost. Did I just make the biggest mistake of my life wasting all that hard work, all those sciences, maintaining A’s to get in?( It wasn’t really a waste because exercised brain power and I made a great group of friends my age and we rocked!)

After waffling on other majors, I ended up in communication because it was the closest thing to a writing degree available. (It’s funny, coming full circle from my youth.) The electives included two creative writing classes, which I loved, and two journalism levels.  I lucked out because the spring J2 involved a trip to NYC media writing conference and that was a blast. The good news is, just this the fall, the school branched communications into concentrations and voila–professional writing materialized! It was like the movie Field of Dreams: take writing classes and the degree will come!  So now, I’m there with just four classes left.

At this point, I’m mainly getting the degree to complement my novel writing. I’ve recently received fantastic validation through the English department via several professors and have just won two awards for my writing! So I definitely feel I made the right choice. But as for making moolah, if a job in the field isn’t feasible, I will probably fall back on my pharmacy technician training and write novels in my free time.  I’ve kept up with my pharmacy certification just in case.

Kaye: What is the biggest challenge of being a writer for you?

Chele: The writing is the fun part, compared to formatting paperbacks and self-promoting. But I’d have to say it is a toss-up between finding time to write and my husband giving me a hard time about it. Since he went to the awards night with me, he seems more impressed and realizes it is more than just a hobby.

I mostly write during semester breaks which isn’t very long, unless it is summer. (Although most summers I’ve taken classes, too.) I have all these book ideas and half-finished projects. I’m afraid I’ll lose steam or the muse will leave me before I get them done. And I’m a revision queen so even after I do finish a book, it takes time to patch plot holes, paint in more details, and weed out never-ending typos.

Kaye: What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Chele: I’m corny and get excited over little things. I never lost my childhood wonder. I love word play so much, maybe I should’ve gone into advertising. The corniness may not come as a surprise to anyonewho reads Behind Frenemy Lines. Lee has some punny lines.

Maybe a more of a shock is that in the 80s, I wanted to be a radio DJ. 1984 was so “outrageous” as Lionel Richie exclaimed at the music awards that year and I remember thinking music would never be as good it was then!  We had Michael Jackson at his peak, Kool and the Gang and Madonna, and the British bands! (Little did I know a guy named Adam Levine would arrive on the scene and swoon me in the 21st century.)

In my late teens, I’d play DJ in my room with my little brother, practice queuing up and spinning records and timing announcements with my stereo. Well, it paid off, because the first year at the college, they had an opening for DJ at the school radio station and I had a stint for about a month. It was fun to live out a brief dream, even though I’m not sure anyone actually listened.

Kaye: You have plans for a sequel to Behind Frenemy Lines, and several other writing projects for 2018. Would you like to tell us a little about what’s in store?

 Chele: I’m working on a romantic comedy novella. I don’t want to give the premise away or the title just yet because it is a unique way to meet a date. When I needed character names, I turned to classic Hollywood starlets so that was fun. I hope to finish it this summer. I already have the cover made to inspire me! By the way, my covers are made by graphic designer Steven Novak. He has the knack of turning my visions into fabulous covers! I also have two other romance novellas started. Maybe I’ll offer them as a tri-pack.

As for the BFL sequel, Galaxy’s heritage has Russian connections and it falls nicely into current events. But I have some comedic moments and surprises up my sleeve too. And of course it will follow the trysts and trusts issue like the first book.

I write off the cuff, so I don’t know what will happen exactly in each work. In that novella, will Viv’s stalking of her crush win him over? Or will it make him mad? I have no idea yet. Maybe the characters will take over and surprise me.  I also plan to revamp and publish the Sherri Whitman series, maybe as a whole unless I lengthen each mystery, and the one that got rejections—Will the Real Green Phantom Please Stand Up— is on my list too! Currently I am compiling the 80s short-stories into a speculative fiction book. So the muse needs to stick around.

Kaye: How did your blog start and what’s it about?

Chele: I have a blog on Goodreads.  I’m still experimenting with to get it just right. I try to keep it about topics related to my books and writing, mainly romance, but have also ventured off into pop culture ponderings. It may just become the life of a writer.

Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing? Why?  

Chele: I like the solitude of morning home alone with a cup of coffee and my favorite songs blasting. No one interrupting me except Penny, the golden. I love the night too; it is mysterious and brings out the muse, but it is not usually practical to write then. Except for an odd summer night last year I was not sleepy at all, so I got up to write in the living room. I sat in the dark by the glow of the laptop with a happy golden retriever curled by my side until 4 am! That was when I wrote the last scene of Behind Frenemy Lines—the prologue!

Kaye: If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Chele: I’d jump for joy and thank God. He gave me this talent and being able to make a living on it would be a pinch- me moment! Then I’d hire a housekeeper because I hate cleaning and clutter. It would be amazing to go a book tour and be a guest on Ellen. Being in the spotlight would feel awkward though. Being a writer, it would be nice to have my name known. But I don’t want to be famous exactly; I’d love for my characters to be. When I got my first review from a Goodreads giveaway and the reader fell in love with Lee, I was ecstatic! It was what I hoped would happen. When reviewers mention Galaxy, I’m thrilled. I made these guys up and now people are getting to know them.

Kaye: In a story we are often asked to create images for the reader that we may not have experienced ourselves. When have you had to do that?

Chele: I write what I know, but I also Google a lot! There is a scene in Behind Frenemy Lines where Lee and Galaxy go to the White House to interview Anita, the communications director, about the threats made. I’ve seen the outside of the White House from a park gate, but have never been inside. So, I scoured virtual tours online and described it from there. After the meeting, the spies go rogue exploring the place, so I had to look up different rooms and recreate the experience the best I could.

I’ve also researched Russian Heirloom furniture, so I could describe some antique pieces in Galaxy’s apartment. Soon after, I received a brochure in the mail about Russian art and heirlooms.  I couldn’t believe it!

Kaye: You’re a mom as well as being an author. What are your secrets for juggling writing with family?

Chele: My kids are grown now—my son is 27 and daughter is 19 — but they were still young when I was writing the spiritual stories. I only wrote sporadically then, mostly holiday newsletters, and I would craft those when they were in bed. When I got back into writing four years ago, my daughter was about to graduate from 8th grade. So it was easier then. I write while she sleeps in. As for writing around a husband, I like my free time during the week when he’s at work.

Kaye: What is the one thing you hope to have taught your children?

Chele: I hope they see I’m accomplishing my life’s dream, and dreams don’t happen by themselves. You have to put the effort in and seek out the opportunities and avenues to get you there. My daughter is an amazing artist and she is going to school for an art degree. I don’t tell her she has to be a doctor or lawyer. Art is good therapy for her. My son is great at math and has a business degree with a math minor. He’s still trying to find his degree job, but in the meantime is advancing in a job he’s had for 10 years. He likes to do creative writing as a tension reliever after work and my daughter just got public praise from her English professor for a creative angle in her final essay. As a writer and mother, that makes me both proud and relieved. I love that they have writing skills but mostly they are doing what they love.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Chele: At a Disney resort three years ago, the maintenance crew knocked on the door and were swapping out tree plants. I hadn’t noticed ours and it looked fine when they carted it away, leaving a fresher one in its place. I thought, “how strange.” It seemed suspicious to me, but we were busy and I didn’t think much more about it until we got home. I knew I wanted to work it into a story someday. It happened to fit a scene in BFL, so in it went. What happens in the book  is much more exciting than in real life. Also that summer, we received an automated call from our electric company about a 3 am power outage planned to replace transformers. I thought, wouldn’t that be a perfect cover-up to commit a crime? So it found its way there, too.

Every day events make me suspicious now.

Kaye: Your two published works are very different genres. How do you get from inspirational nonfiction to a romantic thriller? What other genres might be in store for your readers?

Chele: Behind Frenemy Lines, is a tasteful spy romance, and was my first published book in January 2017. Almost a year after I started writing fiction again, my husband was going to Germany for business and I thought it would be fun to test my writing out on him I decided to write a spy scene, since that was what he liked to read— Jack Reacher, Jack Ryan, and all that. I hid it in his suitcase, so well in fact, after two days I had to inquire about it and give hints. He really liked it. I added back stories and a serious case to solve. The challenge was adding politics. I joke that I have political amnesia because I don’t understand it very well and I find it boring. I also wanted something unique since that is the genre he reads, he probably has heard every plot out there. So I came up with a unique premise, but it does veer off in other directions too.

Since he traveled often that year in 2014, I kept writing other suitcase chapters, just for kicks with no intention of publishing. About two-thirds done I knew I wanted it to be my first book. And the more I developed secret agent Lee Clancy, the more I fell in love with him. He’s a gallant gentleman, has confidence but is not arrogant, knows how to romance, but he isn’t perfect. He’s a real guy, flaws and all. He woos his spy partner, Galaxy O’Jordan, but isn’t sure if he wants to kiss her or wring her neck. The feeling is mutual.

Gal is complicated, beautiful, has body image issues and is klutzy like me, which adds light comedy. She is ruthless but vulnerable and has questionable connections with a shady past. I originally made her up in 11th grade journalism class in 1981 for the conclusion to a T.V script, but I added her multi-faceted personality in 2014. I’m not sure where her name came from. I wanted something exotic for her honey-trapping role, but maybe I was influenced by Star Wars or the space shuttle hoopla back then. I still love her name today!

When White House threats dredge up an old presidential cover up, the case careens a crazy corner into la-la land and it’s up to NSA’s Link agency to figure it out.  Enter Galaxy O’Jordan, feminist crusader with a shady past. An agent harboring secrets, she’s sworn off love while mending a broken heart. It’s just her luck when she’s paired with chivalrous hunk Lee Clancy, surveillance specialist!  It’s not long before they’re smitten, despite their best efforts to play it cool.

BFLPGBookpile

The Pearly Gates Phone Company was published in October 2017 and is an uplifting collection of mini-miracles that happened in my life as well as my family and friends. Remember those spiritual shorts I kept submitting to a Christian magazine? I realized I had quite a few stacking up. From there I wrote a bunch more. There are 33 anecdotal snippets to inspire hope, comfort and give a few chuckles. The title is from the main story in the book, about my dad calling a month after he died. This was 2002 but if it happened today, I think we would have a better explanation about technology. Still, it was a goosebumps moment that was so remarkable, I had to write about it soon after it happened. The original was too long and complicated, but it’s had a few revisions since then, 2014 being the most recent. That is when just the right title popped into my head. I knew it would make the perfect title for the book too.

Have you ever been wowed by the wonders of God? Or enchanted by an extraordinary event? This is a book of coincidental moments, those instances that stop you in your tracks, and you know deep inside it could only be explained by heavenly evidence.

Kaye: You have two very unique titles for your books. How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the writing process for you?

Chele: Thank you! I love whimsy titles. Sometimes the perfect one just comes to me, even before I start the story, like the novella and Confessions of a Goody-Goody. But for the two books out now, the names did not immediately click until halfway through. Behind Frenemy Lines had the working title Spy Story as I chiseled away on each traveling chapter. Especially since I threw it together a day or two before my husband’s trip. It was just a place holder, really. Then my daughter was having trouble with a friend and we were not sure if this girl was a friend or enemy so I referred to her as a frenemy. With that word in my head, I suddenly had a title—a play on the movie, “Behind Enemy Lines.” And it was perfect since we don’t know which side Galaxy is on.

As for The Pearly Gates Phone Company, during the original writing, I had the title, “A Call from Heaven” and then with a rewrite, other titles like, “Hello from Hippie Heaven” or “A Heavenly Hello” materialized, but did not feel right. I knew I wanted something more fun. Finally, during the last revision, it popped in!

Kaye: What’s your favorite social media site for promotion? Why?

Chele: Facebook seems to be the easiest and I like Instagram. Twitter seems mysterious to me. I’ve tweeted and try to use hashtags, but not sure how effective it is. The self-promoting concept is one of the most challenging parts of being an author.

Kaye: How would you describe yourself in three words?

Chele: Goofy, Creative, Lifetime learner

Kaye: What makes you laugh or cry?

Chele: I’d rather laugh than cry, so I enjoy comedies. There is no shame in crying, but for me personally, it is easier to laugh. Maybe because I “ugly-cry.” There isn’t anything lady-like about it. Everyday moments crack me up. I always say, “Life’s a sitcom.”  And that usually refers to mishaps happening to me.

At orientation a few years ago, they played a little cartoon emphasizing students asking for help to do all they can to pass, rather than use excuses and blame the professor. The cartoon was drawn simply and used computerized, monotone voices, which sounded so funny. I was trying so hard not to burst into a fit and almost left the auditorium, but luckily I was able to keep it under wraps. Good thing, because no one else was laughing. I am easily amused and find if we don’t take life too seriously, we can have a good time.

Sometimes my laughter rolls into crying, especially if I am tired or needed a good cry and brushed it off. An episode of The Goldbergs had me laughing so hard, I was in tears. My daughter came home and I couldn’t even talk to explain what was going on. I could only point to the TV. In the ep, Barry was trying to make sculptures of his girlfriend, copying a cue from Lionel Richie in his video “Hello.”  His attempts were hideous, and each one was funnier than the last. I just lost it.

As for crying, I am soft-hearted when it comes to children and animals, so I avoid movies with disturbing themes, but sometimes they sneak in a “feel good movie of the year.” I hate that!

I had big crying jags moving here and experiencing my first partially empty nest when my son stayed behind to move in with his dad to finish college. It felt so unnatural.  Another big tears moment was a month later. Losing our old golden retriever, Buster was one of the saddest days I can remember, aside from losing my parents.

I’ve also cried out of sheer happiness, like when my daughter said she wrote about my mom as her favorite relative. I knew she would love to know that!  Or when I was trying to track down a friend and finally got a letter from his mother. That was in the 80s, before internet and Facebook, so it felt like a true miracle.

Thank you for asking me all these wonderful questions.

Thank you Chele, for joining us and sharing today on Writing to be Read. It obvious that you really opened yourself up and spoke from the heart. It has been great to interview you. I hope all my readers will thank you as well, and remember to watch for my review in the near future of Behind Frenemy Lines.  You can find ouot more about Chele and her books here:

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/chele.pedersensmith.5?lst=1570686027%3A100021726966363%3A1528131001

Facebook group: Chele’s Galaxy

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cpsmithbooks

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/chelepedersensmith

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16337551.Chele_Pedersen_Smith

 

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Interview with multi-genre author Ashley Fontainne

Ashley Fontainne

I recently had the pleasure of virtually meeting this charming author when I did a review of her thriller, Zero Balance, earlier this month. This woman is an award winning, muti-genre, best selling author with over twenty books on the bestseller lists. Her genres include: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Coming of Age, Addiction, Romantic Suspense, and Short Stories. She’s an independent author, who founded her own independent press, BSMW, and one of her books has been turned into an independent film. Please help me welcome Ashley Fontainne to Writing to be Read.

Kaye: You brand yourself “The Dark Southern Belle” on your website. Where does this title come from?

Ashley: A fan coined the phrase in a review of one of my books. It made me smile. I  knew as soon as I read it that it was the perfect catch phrase.

Kaye: Would you share a little about your own author’s journey with us?

Ashley: It has been a crazy ride! Seven years ago, I had no clue how my life would change when I hit “publish” on Amazon Kindle with my first title. I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself in to, and though the road has been rough at times, wouldn’t change a thing!

Kaye: What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Ashley: I am a huge crybaby. In fact, I refuse to watch certain movies or read particular genres of books because, despite the subject matter of most of my books, I have a very sensitive side. I still tear up at the end scene of Homeward Bound when Shadow appears on the hill.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Ashley: There have been a lot, but the one that stands out the most is for my zombie series. I am a huge fan of the genre and of course, The Walking Dead. I wanted to add a different take on how the zombie apocalypse starts. The rampant abuse of drugs in our society was the perfect fit and the second the two ideas connected, I started writing.

Kaye: You have some really interesting titles. One of my favorites is Fine as Frog Hair. The title makes me want to read it and I haven’t even read the description for the book. How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the process for you?

Ashley: Fine as Frog Hair is a saying my grandfather was fond of using when asked, “How are you?” He liked to say, “Why honey, I’m fine as frog hair.” It’s a cute southern expression and since the short story is loosely based off his life, I thought the title fit perfectly. Like the stories, the titles appear out of thin air.

Kaye: You write in multiple genres. What are the differences for you as you write each one?

Ashley: Nothing really. I refuse to pigeonhole my creativity into just one genre. A story is a story no matter the backdrop. A character and/or idea pops into my head and I just let the words flow.

Kaye: You’re an award winning author. Which awards have you been the recipient of?

Ashley: Number Seventy-Five won the Bronze in Fiction/Suspense from Readers’ Favorite. The Lie won Gold from the Illumination Book Awards.

Kaye: Would you tell us about One of a Kind Covers?

Ashley: As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t know a thing about epub, mobi, formatting or cover design when I first jumped into this crazy world. Over the years, I taught myself how to do all of those things out of financial necessity, and in the course of doing so, other authors came to me, asking if I would design a cover for them, which is how One of a Kind Covers came about.

Kaye: You’re the founder of your own independent press, RSMW. Tell us about RSMW.  ; What does RSMW stand for? What’s the story behind it?

Ashley: RMSW Press stands for Rambling Mad Southern Woman, which is also the name of my blog. While learning how to design a website and blog, I was so frustrated I almost gave up. I was complaining about it to my husband and said, “I feel like a rambling mad southern woman,” and poof! There was the title.

Fatal AgreementsKaye: Your latest release is Fatal Agreements, which came out April 23rd. Would you tell us a little about that book?

Ashley: Whispered rumors tickled the ears of the residents of an entire town for decades about the disturbing secrets of the old Halstead House, dating all the way back to the early 1920s. Most people didn’t believe them. Several people will soon discover they should have listened.

Three years after struggling to cope with the death of her beloved father and escaping an abusive relationship, Samantha Chapman decides it’s time to return to her hometown of Hot Springs. She buys the ramshackle Halstead House, eager to transform the dilapidated, abandoned piece of history into her new law office and residence, hoping it will be the start of a brighter chapter and a safe haven to escape her personal demons.

Instead of newfound freedom, things take a dark turn when the resurrection of the old home reveals the disturbing secrets hidden within its walls. When youthful transgressions of numerous people come to light, including ones some members of the Chapman family are desperate to contain, it reveals the sins of the past. They collide with the grave mistakes of the present, creating a perfect storm of chaos and death for not only the Chapman family but others as well.

Some will survive.

Others will get burned.

Sam and her loved ones realize some family secrets should have remained buried.

Kaye: Your book Ruined Wings was turned into an independent film. Can you tell us how that came about? Who wrote the screenplay?

Ashley: I wrote the screenplay along with the Executive Producer, Sabrina Stewart. We have been a tight duo since the first day we connected years ago when she auditioned to narrate Number Seventy-Five. I sent her the book and she loved it. Opioid addiction is a major crisis in our world and we hope through this movie to help stop the plague.

Kaye: What was it like to see your characters come alive on the screen?

Ashley: Life-changing. Humbling. Terrifying!

Kaye: You also have a GoFundMe campaign going to fund the film. Would you like to tell us about it and how readers can contribute?

Ashley: The film will be shared at no cost to educators and organizations to be played at schools, churches, civic meetings and youth organizations where it can target those most vulnerable to fall into the pit of abuse and addiction. Donate  here:  https://www.gofundme.com/independent-film-ruined-wings

Kaye: What is the working title of your next book?

Ashley: Blood Stain

Kaye: Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Ashley: Edgar Allan Poe.

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Ashley: Grow a thick skin. Never give up. Hone your craft. Write from the heart.

I want to thank Ashley Fontainne for joining us here on Writing to be Read. You can learn more about Ashley at the following places:

Website: http://www.ashleyfontainne.com/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ashley.fontainne/

Blog: http://ramblingsofamadsouthernwoman.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AshleyFontainne
Movie site of Ruined Wingshttps://ruinedwings.com/

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