Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Interview with Alicia Jasinska, author of The Dark Tide

1. Can you tell us a little about your book?

THE DARK TIDE is a dark, fairytale fantasy about a girl who tries to save the boy she likes from a wicked witch, only to fall
in love with the witch herself. 

Every year on St. Walpurga's Eve, Caldella's Witch Queen chooses a boy to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking. When Lina's crush is chosen she insists on taking his place and Queen Eva accepts - she'll sacrifice anyone if it means saving herself and her home. 

But Lina is not at all what Eva expected, and the Queen is nothing like Lina imagined. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other. As water floods the streets and the tide demands its sacrifice, they must choose who to save: themselves or their city. 

It's a very loose retelling of Tam Lin, set in a city inspired by the Polish legend of Wineta. At it's heart it's the dark f/f fantasy I wished for as a teen!

2. Are you working on anything new?

I'm currently working on what will *fingers crossed* be my book 2! I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say, but it's another standalone YA fantasy, set in a new wintery and very Polish-inspired world. DARK TIDE is an enemies-to-lovers story, but this new one is very much friends-to-enemies and it's so much fun to write!

3. What’s your writing process like?

I cry a lot haha; But I also outline extensively scene by scene. I need to know exactly how the story goes right to the end before I can get started. It means at the start I'm not getting a lot of words down, which is a struggle when I see other people's word counts (I'm always having to remind myself to keep my eyes on my own page) but the tradeoff is at the end I usually have a very clean draft. I also tend to draft in sections and give them to a friend to read as I go - this really helps, because that friend then nags me for more chapters, which keeps me motivated!
4. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Be kind to yourself❤I have to tell this to myself too! Beating yourself up because you're not where you want to be yet, or you think you haven't gotten enough words down that day, or you'll never be as good as famous author etc. It doesn't change the situation, it just makes you feel worse and sucks the joy out of writing. Take a breath, take a break, step away if you need to. Chasing a dream isn't easy and I think, at least mentally, sometimes we can make it harder for ourselves by piling on all this extra pressure. Try to treat and encourage yourself like you would a friend.

5. What are you currently reading?

I'm one of those people who can't stick to reading one book at a time, so I'm currently jumping back and forth between Erin Morgenstern's THE STARLESS SEA, Nina Varela's CRIER'S WAR, and Ryan La Sala's REVERIE. All of which are deliciously queer and lush and magical. I feel like we were spoilt with amazing books this year! 


Alicia Jasinska is a fantasy writer hailing from Sydney, Australia. A library technician by day, she spends her nights writing and hanging upside down from the trapeze and aerial hoop. Her debut YA novel THE DARK TIDE is coming from Sourcebooks FIRE (US) and Penguin Random House Australia (AUS/NZ) in June 2020. 


Monday, December 30, 2019

Interview with Julie Anne Lindsay, author of Apple Cider Slaying

1. How many books have you written? 

To date I've published 31 novels, using four pens names, but I've written nearly 40. Some will never make it to shelves because I was still learning the craft as I worked on them. Others are written and waiting their turns for publication in 2020 and 2021. I write as myself as well as under the names Bree Baker, Jacqueline Frost and Julie Chase. 

2. Can you tell us a little about your current release? 

Sure! I've recently released two cozy mysteries with Christmas themes. APPLE CIDER SLAYING is the first in a new Cider Shop Mystery series, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia, that I'm very excited about. I write that series as myself, and it was been well received by readers so far. Hooray! In Apple Cider Slaying, my heroine Winona Mae Montgomery lives on her family's apple orchard with her Granny Smythe and opens a cider shop to help save the failing farm. When Granny's neighbor and nemesis is found dead in the cider press, Winnie sets out to clear Granny's name and finds herself in the killer's sites in the process. 
About a month before that, I released, TIDE & PUNISHMENT, book 3 in the Seaside Cafe Mysteries, written as Bree Baker. This series is set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where my heroine, Everly Swan runs an iced tea shop from the first floor of her historic Victorian home on the beach. When the town mayor is killed at Everly's annual Christmas party, with a lawn gnome made by Everly's great aunt, Everly tries to uncover the truth about what really happened and save Christmas, but the real killer has other plans. 
In addition to these cozies, DEADLY COVER-UP, book 1 in a new romantic suspense series with Harlequin Intrigue, released this week! 
So, all-in-all, I'm staying plenty busy this holiday season!

3. What's your writing process like? 

I write full time now, so I get the kids off to school, then I sit down and write a chapter every day. I work from a fully detailed outline to keep me on track, then send my completed chapters to an author friend who reads for me and gives feedback. While she does that, I work on the next chapter. I don't go to bed until the chapter is written, and typically finish a novel every eight-to-ten weeks, including time to write the outline, synopsis and proposal. 

4. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors? 

My best advice is don't give up. This is your dream and no one is going to chase it for you. Writing is hard, but you can do it!. And the writing community is by far the most accepting and encouraging group I know.

5. What are you currently reading? I am currently reading The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton and The Black Hour by Lori Rader Day.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Interview with Cass Morris, author of From Unseen Fire

1. Can you tell us about your latest book?

From Unseen Fireis a historical fantasy set in a re-imagined ancient Rome, where magic shapes
the course of the nation as much as law, war, and politics. Our heroine Latona is a mage who has long suppressed her considerable powers, but she’s growing tired of making herself small for the sake of society’s comfort. As she begins to explore her potential, she’s supported by her sisters, one a canny socialite and the other a budding prophetess, and by Sempronius Tarren, an ambitious senator with good intentions and dark secrets. Together, they will use wit, charm, and magic to shape Aven’s fate, in defiance of foes wielding brutal violence and foul sorcery.

2. How does it feel to be a published author?

There’s a line from the musical Wicked, at the top of the second act, when Glinda says, “Getting your dreams, it’s strange, but it seems, a little, well… complicated.” I think about that a lot. Being a novelist has been my dream since I was eleven years old, and even though I knew it wouldn’t be all candy and rainbows going in, there are more complications than I’d imagined. It’s such a thrill to hold your own book, to see it in stores, to sign it for readers -- but at the same time, writing gets harder. There are expectations to live up to, and it can be hard to remember to please yourself first before worrying about pleasing others.

3. What’s your writing process like?

Chaotic. I am constitutionally incapable of writing in a straight line. I tend to start with some strong images and snips of conversation around which I can build characters, and then once I’ve gotten them colliding into each other for a while, I can figure out what the plot is. Scrivener has been a godsend for me, since it makes it so easy to write non-sequentially and re-order scenes.

4. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Know what you love about the story you want to tell. Keep that as your guiding star.

5. What are you currently reading?

I’ve generally got a few different books going in different formats. Currently I’m working on Domina: The Women Who Made Imperial Romeby Guy de la Bedoyere in print, Lady Hotspurby Tessa Gratton in ebook, and I’m waiting for the The Art of Theftby Sherry Thomas to come available from my library in audio.

Bio: Cass Morris works as a writer and educator in central Virginia and occasionally moonlights as
a bookseller in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She completed her Master of Letters at Mary Baldwin University in 2010, and she earned her undergraduate degree, a BA in English with a minor in history, from the College of William and Mary in 2007. She reads voraciously, wears corsets voluntarily, and will beat you at MarioKart. Her debut novel, From Unseen Fire: Book One of the Aven Cycle, is a Roman-flavored historical fantasy released by DAW Books.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Interview with Danika Stone, author of Switchback

1. Can you tell us a little about your next book?
The paperback version of Switchback hits stores in May, which is very exciting, but if you mean something new, that would be another mystery-thriller. The final book in my Waterton trilogy – Fall of Night – hits Edge of Wild and The Dark Divide) come together in a dark, edge-of-your-seat finale. Having never written a trilogy before, I was thrilled when my editor and publisher both fell in love with this tale! In it, the main characters, Rich and Louise, are starting their life together when Rich’s past comes to haunt him. He’s not the only one dealing with ‘ghosts’. Sadie Black Plume, the senior police officer in town, is haunted by memories of her one-time partner, even as she is faced with investigating a new rash of murders in the lonely mountain town.
bookstores next fall and brings the series to a close. All readers’ favorite characters from books 1 and 2 (
2. Are you working on anything new?
I am currently editing two YA projects, both of which are departures in genre for me. The first is an action-adventure that circles around a high school student caught up in a high-stakes game of survival when the coffee shop she’s in is taken over by bombers. The second is a m/m science fiction novel about a boy from Mars who is determined to make a new life for himself… even if it means joining the ‘enemy’ on Earth by enlisting in the Terran Forces. They’re projects that are very close to my heart and – fingers crossed! – ones that I hope you’ll be hearing more about in the coming year.
3. What’s your writing process like?
My books always start with a ‘what if?’ question. Once I have this spark of an idea, I mull over potential plots, gathering snippets of ideas for the characters that inhabit the world and spending weeks and months (and sometimes years) just thinking through the idea. Once the characters become absolutely clear to me, I sketch out a rough roadmap of what I’d like to write plotwise. At the twenty-page mark, I stop planning, and jump into manuscript-writing.
For me, that moment is the official starting point of WRITING A BOOK™. In this stage, I am hyper-focused on writing time. I get up at 5:00 AM to write and I sometimes stay up late into the night, but however it happens, I write a minimum of 1000 words a day – Every. Single. Day. – until I finish the last page. It’s the momentum that keeps me going. When I have the (very) rough draft done, I take a break for couple weeks to let it ‘sit’, then come back to it with fresh eyes. I polish it and when that’s done, I send it to alpha-readers. There are replies and another round of polishing, and then it goes out to beta-readers. One more polish and it’s ready to go to my agent… and then the REAL edits begin!
4. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
No one tells you how challenging publishing is, even for successful authors. You need to accept that painful, recurring rejection is the norm. You write anyways. If you have the mindset that it’s about chiseling handholds, rather than creating something perfect based on innate talent, you’re more likely to keep at it. Querying / editing / submitting / promoting all comes down to never giving up.
tl;dr – Just. Keep. Going.
5. What are you currently reading?
The last book I read was Wilder Girls (Rory Powers)which was absolutely amazing! Currently on my TBR, I have Wicked Saints (Emily A. Duncan), Scars Like Wings (Erin Stewart), and Advice for Amateur Taxidermists & Beekeepers (Erin Emily Anne Vance).  I’m looking forward to jumping into those over the holidays!
Thank you so much for interviewing me, Tanya. It was great to chat about writing!
Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the Switchback (Macmillan, 2019), Internet Famous (Macmillan, 2017) and All the Feels (Macmillan, 2016); and adults: Fall of Night (Stonehouse, 2020), The Dark Divide (Stonehouse, 2018) and Edge Of Wild (Stonehouse, 2016).    
throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both teens:
When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.
Ms. Stone is represented by Moe Ferrara of BookEnds Literary Agency

Friday, December 27, 2019

Interview with John M. Withers IV, author of Handsome Boy

Can you tell us a little about your book?

All of my books thus far are Interactive Fiction. Readers make decisions on how the story unfolds. My mot recent, Handsome Boy, is purely choice based. Some of my other works, the Castles of Imagination series, require dice to decide success or failure in certain situations. Handsome Boy is an interactive fiction romance novella. It is a short read where the reader makes decisions to decide if the main character Sean will approach the girl he has a crush on, spend time helping a despondent friend, or try to do both. The Castles of Imagination begins with a couple high schoolers using RPGs to survive high school stress. The reader makes decisions for the high school protagonist and the frame tale RPG game barbarian as well. Each book in the series moves the characters forward in time, so decisions in the earlier books have impact later in the series. I plan on exploring various ways to make choices in interactive fiction books as I move forward on new series.

How many books have you published?

Handsome Boy is my most recent book. 
My first book was Goblin's Gift, the beginning of my Castles of Imagination series. I still have two more books and another prequel sampler forthcoming to finish that series. Hopefully book five will be available soon.

What's your writing process like?

I tend to write best when I can spend hours on it. I prefer to block out afternoons, evenings, or entire days. Since I write interactive fiction, I have to be able to follow the webbing and ensure scenes do not conflict elsewhere in the book. Since it is a connected series, events in the books have to impact the rest of the series. That process works well for the Castles of Imagination series books. Sadly, it can be hard to carve out those hours around work and family. I need to spend a few more long mornings finishing the next book in the series. I'm hoping my spring teaching schedule will let me finish writing the remaining sections and move into editing soon.

Trying something new, I spent an hour a morning writing a non-interactive fiction book. It was interesting to wake up early, do a few chores, and then sit down and write for an hour. That was an easier way to fit writing into my morning. It worked for that project, Car in the Fog. That book is currently being edited.  I was able to write Handsome Boy similarly. I wrote an hour a day a few days a week. It was nice to be able to work in smaller sections on shorter books with less inter-connectivity. The reading paths have to make sense, but since they do not impact other books in the series Handsome Boy was easier to write and edit.

I have also written a few short RPGs published on Itch.io this year. Those are small projects that I usually work on for a few days writing and a few more editing.

I am working on a Dungeon Crawl Classics zine. That project will use a new collaborator and I am looking forward to working out our editing process together.

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Go write. Find a way to express yourself to the world.
My books may never appeal to the widest audience and be best sellers, but they allow me to express myself to the world. Luckily, my day job can pay the bills, so I am fortunate I can write the books I want to write and not worry about sales figures. I'm writing books filled with general geekiness, RPG players, comics and games shops, and haunted cars. I'm writing books with atypical protagonists. I'm writing the books I want to exist. I'm a firm believer that there is room on bookshelves for more diversity and new voices, but that only happens when more diverse writers write. 

What are you currently reading?

Most recently,I have read a lot of R.L. Stine Goosebumps and Ghosts of Fear Street books. They're fun and fast. I read nearly a hundred of them in the past year or so. I stopped to read the most recent paperback from R.A. Salvatore. I'm awaiting the next Green Rider book from Kristen Britain and small book from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I enjoy long series.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Interview with Janina Franck, author of White Devil

Can you tell us a little about your book?

 The book I'd like to talk about is "White Devil". It's a YA fantasy adventure story with triple-POV set in a fictional world. 
In theory, this is the second book in the Chronicles of the Bat Series, but the story doesn't have a direct dependency on the first book - while the main cast of the first book returns and joins the story (taking over one of the viewpoints in the form of Balthasar, the ex-pirate navigator and librarian), the rest of the characters in the story, including the main character Lilith, are new. The third point of view is taken over by Death herself. 
I won't give away too many details, but the main struggles in the story are all about "home". For some characters that means finding a new home. For others that means protecting their home at any cost.
To give you a rough idea - Lilith's home, an isolated mountain regions in the country of Pbecrah, is threatened to be invaded soon, due to a grave and unforgivable mistake by Pbecrah's leader, which cost many lives. Lilith is sent to find a rumoured artifact that may hold the power needed to protect this region, the Highlands, from the invasion and give it the power to distance itself from the country that's at fault, Pbrecah. That is, if it truly exists. She is joined on this adventure by a grumpy talking raven, and a rag-tag group of ex-pirates who are new to this part of the world. Along the way, they explore all sorts of leads, and dig through archives and libraries in hopes of finding a clue, while the situation in the Highlands gets more tense by the day as negotiations fail and villagers have to take up arms.
What will happen exactly, you'll need to find out yourself.

Is this the first book you've had published?

The first book I ever published was the prequel, "Captain Black Shadow", a novel all about pirates and the never ending question of morality - good and bad. I also published an YA Anthology  - "A Touch of Magic", which features six other fantastic authors and their stories alongside my own. Also, spoiler alert, the third book in the series, "Sand & Snow" will be released in April by Snowy Wings Publishing.

What's your writing process like?

 My writing process varies. 

Generally speaking, there has to be a spark first. Something that gets my thoughts racing and makes me excited. Once that happens, my brain starts spurting out ideas left right and centre and will reevaluate them until something feels right. 
Then I keep thinking about this idea, sometimes talk about it with friends, until a clearer idea peels itself from the wishy-washy idea basin. This part often happens during a car or bus ride. Or when I'm waiting in line somewhere. That's usually when I whip out my notebook and just start jotting my thoughts down. Sometimes, that'll still be pretty vague, but other times I already get a complete story line out then and there. 
Either way, the next step is to start writing. 
Then, after a few pages, let's say about 5 to 10K in, I usually realize that either, my characters are flat and without real personality, or they start carving a personality out for themselves. In the second case, I can then just take notes on what I notice about them and fill in the gaps. In the first case, I create them from scratch, to determine their past, present and hopes and wishes for their future, character flaws and strengths alike. Little quirks and things like that.
Then I go over what I've written so far, and either scrap it all to rewrite, or just tweak it a little, before moving on to the rest of the story. 

Then again, other times, an idea just suddenly, randomly pops into my head and I start writing right away and everything feels right as it builds itself. The notebook comes into play whenever I continue writing in my head but don't have access to a computer. 

When it comes to where I write, it doesn't matter too much. My preferences would be in either absolute silence with no one even nearby, ideally not even in the same building, or in a café. (Yeah I know, that one doesn't really make sense to me either, but it seems to get my creative juices flowing). 
I do have a few tricks that I know help me out though:
  • Tea. I love tea. Adore it. I almost always make tea when I write. (Or buy, in the case of cafés)
  • A comfortable seat. And I mean real comfy. (Ideally also somewhere where no one can look over my shoulder. I like a wall to my backside, thank you very much.)
  • Chocolate. Not a lot, even a brownie does the job, but just a little sweetness to go with my tea helps give me energy.
  • I tend to write better in the morning than the evening, so just after getting up, along with my first cup of the day, that's a good time to be creative for me. 
  • My notebook. It's full of random ideas or short scenes, sometimes even just scribbles or doodles. It helps me to stay on track and means I always have a place to check (and take) my notes.
  •  I don't think I can ever stop coming up with new ideas that are filling my notebook, and there are always several projects that are kind of being worked on. 

Are you working on anything new?

Right now there are two stories I'm actively working on - A sci-fi novel based on a short story (Space witches and technomancy - need I say more?), and a novella (?) about a little Japanese girl stuck in limbo. 
There was a third - a dystopian sci-fi novel set in Brazil, but that one needs a little time before I can return to it.

What are you currently reading?

I just started reading a new book I stumbled upon accidentally. It's a cozy mystery with dragons set in England. Who doesn't want to read that? Right? 
I'm about four chapters (and character viewpoints) in, and I can only say that so far, I'm loving it. Whenever the viewpoint changes, the (third person) narration clearly reflects that character's personality. It's also quite light-hearted with a few humorous notes sprinkled throughout. And, I'd like to say this again, it's a cozy mystery with dragons.
If you're curious too, check out "Baking Bad" by Kim M. Watt. 


Janina Franck was born in the Black Forest in Germany. Growing up there, she shared a room with
many of her bookish friends, and by that, shall we say, they were the paper and ink kind. Her imagination spurred by her environment and choice in company, she began writing at a young age.
Later on, she moved to the emerald island of legends and myths, Ireland, where she completed her education in Modern Languages and Multimedia. While her surroundings changed, her desire to create stories did not, and she continues to write and work on her stories whenever she’s not busy adventuring.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Interview with Elisha Bugg, author of Reluctant Guardian

1. Can you tell us a little about your book?

RELUCTANT GUARDIAN is a paranormal romance novel set in an imaginary, present day world .
Thane is a wolf shifter and elite solider in an organisation known as the Guardians, who walks on the edge of becoming rogue after the death of his family at the hands of humans.
He's asked to return to his hometown in order to fight against the hunters who seek his kind, but he doesn't expect to bump into an unfamiliar human female who awakens his dark desires.
He's intrigued by his reaction to her and decides to watch her from a distance, never expecting she could be a target, or that she would lead him to find the man he's been searching for for the last twenty years.
Anya doesn't remember much of her passed, but when she comes face to face with an intimidating stranger who makes her act out of character, her life begins to change. Dreams of a black wolf opening up a world she never knew existed.
Together they uncover many secrets and betrayls, whilst they also learn more about each other and this unsatible hunger they have for one another.

Thane must put his past behind him or risk losing the woman meant to be his for eternity.
Anya has to discover who she is an help show this powerful beast that he isn't the monster he fears he is.  

2. Is this the first book you’ve had published?

Reluctant Guardian is my 1st published book, but I've already released a prequel short story availble from subscribing to my newsletter.

3. Are you working on anything new?

I'm currently working on three other projects.
- Book 2 of my Otherworld Guardians series is underway, around 1/4 of the book drafted.
- A paranormal/historical romance crossover that I started working on for NaNoWriMo 2019 and hope to be released early 2020. 
- And my DemonWarrior series which I've started working on book 1 and have around half the story panned out. 

4. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don't give up.
Allow yourself to take breaks and not beat yourself up about it. Sometimes the rest does us good and allows us to come back with a clear head. 
The 1st draft is not meant to be perfect, its just you getting the ideas out of your head. Perfecting it is what editing is for. 
Try to write a little everyday, even if it's only 50 words. 
Set yourself achievable goals rather than trying to stretch yourself too thin. 

5. What are you currently reading? 

I've purchased a lot of indie author books over the past month ready to read over the Christmas holidays.
I just finished Dark by Kat Kinney; and have just begun The Rose and the Thorn by Katherine Macdonald.


Monday, December 23, 2019

Interview with Arianne Costner, author of My Life As A Potato

1. Can you tell us a little about your book?

Happy to! MY LIFE AS A POTATO is about a boy named Ben who recently moved to Idaho. He didn’t get noticed much at
his last school and is hoping to start over with a fresh slate and maybe become more popular. One day in the cafeteria, he accidentally injures the school mascot through an incident involving a hot dog. Now he has to substitute for the mascot. One problem: it's a potato. A supremely dorky potato. 

Ben tries to keep his mascot identity a secret while dealing with friendships, a crush, and his own clumsiness. It results in lots of funny scenarios and misunderstandings, but in the end, he learns that nothing is cooler than just being yourself!

2. When does it release?

On March 24, 2020. Trust me, I am counting down the days! It is currently available for pre-order at your local Indie, Amazon, B/N, and Target. 

3. Are you working on anything new?

I just finished my second book. I don’t think I can tell many details yet, but it is another school story about a goofy class clown. I’ve always wanted to write a story about a class clown who was deeper than he seemed, and I’ve fallen in love with this second story just as much as with my first!

4. What piece of advice would you give aspiring authors?

Enjoy what you do! It’s amazing to be able to create characters and worlds that evoke real feelings. Study up on craft! And read in your genre. A lot. 

5. What are you currently reading?  

I just started SUNNY SIDE UP, a graphic novel by Jennifer Holm about a girl who goes to live in Florida with her grandpa for a summer. So far I am really enjoying it!

Thanks for taking the time to do this Tanya!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Interview with Jess Michaels, author of A Reluctant Bride

1. How many books have you written? 

Written? Close to 90, which includes books that will never come out from under the bed and several books coming up for publication in 2020 that aren't released yet. My January book will be my 83rd published book. 

2. Can you tell us a little about your most recent book?

My next book is A Reluctant Bride, which comes out January 7. It's the first in a three book series featuring a set of triplets who find themselves in a pickle when the one who is about to be married to an earl decides to run away instead. She has her sister trade places with her and suddenly that sister has to marry him instead. So there's mistaken identity (briefly), a marriage of convenience, a serious amount of longing, a lot of sexy stuff and ultimately love. The second book follows our run away (A Reckless Runaway, out February 4) and the third is the sister who is left to clean up the mess and redeem the "villain" (A Counterfeit Courtesan, out March 3). I'm very excited, as this is a return to full-length work after a year of just novellas. 

3. What’s your writing process like?

I'm a big plotter/prewriter. So I do the Verbalize system from Damon Suede, find the verb for each character, build out their character sheet and then do "Scene sketches" which is a bit of a plotting/pre-writing hybrid. Once I have enough of them that I can't wait, I write. When I run out of scenes, I sketch some more. So I'm a plotter with room to move. I write 5 days a week, have daily page goals and write a book in about 4-5 weeks. 

4. What genres do you write?

Historical romance (though in the past I've written erotic romance and urban fantasy). I see better results by focusing on one pen name and one genre and I really enjoy historical.

5. If you could give aspiring authors a piece of advice what would it be?

Don't just do what you think everyone else is doing. Analyze it in the context of your own goals for your career. Not everything is for you and sticking to your own path will get you where you want to go faster than trying to do what everything else is finding success with. I've been writing a "dead" genre for nearly 20 years and I do pretty well. I think that comes from building an audience through consistent writing quality and production. 

But also, don't listen to me either if what I say doesn't fit. :) 

Here are some links:

site: www.authorjessmichaels.com (where you can also find my podcast for writers)
@jessmichaelsbks for all the socials

Bio: Jess Michaels is a 10-Time USA Today Bestselling author of historical romance. She also has a podcast for writers called Journeys of Romance, where she talks with other authors about their paths of publication and production. She recently moved to Dallas with her husband, where they are still trying to eat at all the restaurants people recommend to them. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Interview with author S.M. Carriere

1. What have you been working on since we last talked?
  Ooph, it's been a while. How are you, by the way?  Let's see, I've written and had two books published by Renaissance Press, and I am currently writing the second book of a three book portal fantasy/magical realism series.  It uses an awful lot of really cool aspects of Celtic mythology... but with laser guns!  I'm having a stupid fun time with it.

2. How has your writing process changed over the years?

    Honestly, it hasn't much.  I still only start writing when I have a character and an ending, and I still leave it up to the characters to figure out how they get to the end.  It's pretty fun to discover the story along the way.

3. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

    I have two.  If you're in it for the money, you're not going to get very far.  Second, don't give up.  Honestly, it seems to me that the difference between a successful author and one who isn't is whether or not they just keep going.  It can be depressing and hard, but just keep at it.

4. How many books have you written?

    Published, I have eight.  I have a further three and two thirds written.

5. What are you currently reading?

    Nothing, though I just finished a book called Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite.  It wasn't my favourite book ever, being mostly romance, but I do love how well it handled its queer characters.  I think a lot of writers could learn by its example.

When S.M. Carrière isn't brutally killing your favourite characters, she spends her time teaching martial
arts, live streaming video games, and cuddling her cats. In other words, she spends her time teaching others to kill, streaming her digital kills, and cuddling furry murderers.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Interview with AS Youngless, author of For Hire

1. Can you tells us about your story and the anthology it's featured in?

My story, FOR HIRE, it the tale of a teenage werewolf named Jenny, who works as a hired assassin each full moon. The story begins with Jenny and her handler, Peter, talking to a potential client--but things quickly go south and suddenly, Jenny's life unravels. My story is published in Made in LA: Chasing the Elusive Dream, which is the second volume of the Made in LA Anthology series. The editor's description is: Chasing the Elusive Dream explores the fantasies people carry with them to LA, as well as the dreams Angelenos dream while surrounded by this vast and evolving city. This anthology series showcases a diverse range of voices and genres. Literary or contemporary, fantasy, or science fiction, each story in this volume invites you to view this urban landscape through a different lens.

The Made in LA Anthology series came to be when Cody Sisco, Gabi Lorino, and Allison Rose set up a 'Made in LA' booth at the annual LA Times Festival of Books. People kept asking which books had the stories set in Los Angeles, and this sparked the idea that they should edit an anthology featuring stories set in Los Angeles. Thus was born the Made in LA Anthologies. They are currently reviewing titles for Book 3. (Name TBA).

The reason this anthology appealed to me is I'm a fan of Los Angeles--not the LA everyone else sees on the news, in papers, or magazines--but the history and the culture of the city. It's a beautiful mess which I find relatable. 

2. Is this the first thing you've had published?

FOR HIRE is the first short story I've had published. 

3. Are you currently working on anything new?

I'm always working on somethings. I've written a handful of other short stories that I'm currently submitting to anthologies, magazines, and online blogs. I'm also plotting a full-length YA Science Fiction Novel, but it's in the early stages and not ready to be discussed. (But I'm excited about it!)

4. What piece of advice would you give aspiring authors?

First, comparing your work to other published pieces is a waste of energy. Don't do that to yourself, ever. Read to enjoy the work, not to compare it to you as a writer. Second, the more you write, the better you get at it. So, even if you don't finish the story, novel, poem, etc., you'll be a better writer for having started it. Also, the only way to fail is to quit. Take breaks, but don't give up.

5. What are you currently reading?

I just finished Marie Lu's WARCROSS series and began the VAGABOND series by Takehiko Inoue (a Japanese manga series.) 

AS Youngless has been passionate about writing since her childhood. She runs the Graphic Novel Book Club for elementary aged students in the hope of sharing her love of writing with the next generation. She is the debut author of, “For Hire,” and lives in beautiful Los Angeles with her husband, son, and multiple animals.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Interview with Aimee Lucido, author of Emmy in the Key of Code

1. What’s the title of your book and can you tell us a little about it?

My book is called Emmy in the Key of Code, and it's about a twelve-year-old girl named Emmy who comes from a family of musicians. Her mom is an opera singer, her dad is a pianist, but even though Emmy loves music, and even thinks in music-like poetry, she feels like she's not good at actually making music. So, when she moves to San Francisco for her dad's job, she finds herself unexpectedly connecting to the material in a computer science class through a language she is familiar with: music. The story is a novel in verse (so, told in a series of short poems) and as Emmy learns various computer science concepts, the poetry of the book starts to mimic the language of code. Emmy in the Key of Code is perfect for fans of SECRET CODERS and THE CROSSOVER.
2. Do you have a certain process when it comes to writing?

My process really varies from book to book, but I do tend to feel like I need to write a book all the way through in order to feel like I have a handle on it. I tend to send projects to my friends and family repeatedly throughout the process, because I love getting feedback from people I trust, but I usually enjoy the revision stages of writing more than the drafting stages. Also, I tend to do a lot of my writing in my head before I do the writing on the page, and most of that head-writing happens in the middle of the night when I'm having trouble sleeping. 

3. Are you currently working on a new book?

I'm currently in revisions for my second book, RECIPE FOR DISASTER, which comes out in spring of 2021. RECIPE FOR DISASTER is a hybrid of prose, verse, and recipes about a 12-year-old girl named Hannah whose best friend's Bat Mitzvah inspires her to plan one for herself. But when she finds out that her Jewish and non-Jewish family is split on whether she is "Jewish enough" for one, she takes matters into her own hands to plan the rite of passage she craves, discovering her own Jewish identity along the way. 
4. What’s your favorite book to read again and again?

I will never tire of reading Matilda, The Golden Compass, and Harry Potter, all of which I have probably read close to a dozen times a piece.
5. What are you currently reading?

I'm currently halfway through a gorgeous novel in verse called The Moon Within, by Aida Salazar, and the next book on my TBR stack is Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds.
Aimee Lucido is the author of EMMY IN THE KEY OF CODE and the upcoming RECIPE FOR DISASTER (Versify, Spring 2021). She’s a software engineer who has worked at
Google, Facebook, and Uber, and she got her MFA in writing for children and young adults at Hamline University. She lives with her husband in San Francisco where she likes to bake, run marathons, and write crossword puzzles.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Interview with Don Zolidis, author of War and Speech

Can you tell us a little about your book? 

WAR AND SPEECH - it's about a girl who joins the number one high school speech team in the country in order to destroy it from the inside out. It's a bit of a caper book, very funny, about a girl joining a conspiracy to take down the ultra-competitive and destructive speech coach and his squad of hyper-achieving speech bullies. 

When does your new book release?

 May 5th, 2020. 

What's your writing process like?

I do a lot of pre-writing. For this book, I spent a year as an assistant speech coach at a local high school, drinking in the culture, going to tournaments, etc... I had an idea of where I wanted the story to go, but I'm usually pretty flexible and try to follow where the story leads. I have an outline, but I'm always revising my outline as I go, as the path becomes clearer. When I'm drafting, I try to go for big stretches, shutting down the internet and usually finding a place in a coffee shop to bang out words. 

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

KEEP GOING. I wrote 5 books with an agent before I managed to sell one, and with each failure I learned something. Fail, and fail often. The more you fail at this, the better you're eventually going to get. 

What are you currently reading? 

I'm reading ROSEWATER, which is a Nigerian sci-fi novel set in 2066 with illegal gangs, aliens, zombies, and psychic powers. Really really fun. I just finished LET'S CALL IT A DOOMSDAY by Katie Henry. I love her sense of humor and character. 

Don Zolidis holds a B.A. in English from Carleton College and an M.F.A. in playwriting from the Actor’s Studio Program at the New School University. For the past five years, he’s been the most-produced playwright in American schools. His more than 110 published plays have been performed over 30,000 times, appearing in every state, every Canadian province, and 67 different countries. 
His first novel, THE SEVEN TORMENTS OF AMY AND CRAIG (A LOVE STORY) was published in 2018 by Disney-Hyperion. His second book, WAR AND SPEECH, will be released in 2020. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Interview with Laura Shovan, author of Takedown

1. What have you been working on since the last time we spoke?
Hi, Tanya. Thanks for inviting me to Bookish Fangirl!

Last time we spoke, my debut middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, had just been published. It’s been a busy and exciting time since then. Takedown, the story of the first girl on an all boys’ wrestling team, came out in 2018 and was chosen for the Amelia Bloomer List offeminist books for children. I just found out it's an Amazon Prime Book Box for children selection! I’ve been working on a collaborative middle grade novel with Saadia Faruqi, author of the Meet Yasmin! early reader series. A Place at the Table publishes in May, 2020, from Clarion/HMH.

2. How many books that you’ve written been published?
In addition to my three middle grade novels, I have one poetry chapbook for adults (Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone, CityLit Press), and two poetry anthologies -- one which I edited and one I co-edited with poet Virginia Crawford. They are Life in Me Like Grass on Fire: Love Poems(MWA Books), and Voices Fly, a collection of poetry workshops and student poems from the Maryland State Arts Council’s Artist-in-Residence program, for which I teach. Voices Fly is available to educators as a PDF. https://laurashovan.com/book/voices-fly/

3. Can you share a little bit of what you’re currently working on?
Saadia and I are putting the final touches on A Place at the Table. Our last task is to review recipes, which will be included in the book!
I am also working on a book of robot poems for kids, inspired by the robot doodles that I post on Instagram. That has been such a fun project. I’ve missed the playfulness of poetry since Takedown and A Place at the Table are written in prose.

4. Does your next book have a release date?
A Place at the Table publishes on May 12, 2020.

5. What books are you currently enjoying?
I’ve been reading middle grade ARCs as part of the #bookexpedition group. Some recent favorites are: Nic Stone’s Clean Getaway and the graphic memoir I Was Their American Dreamby Malaka Gharib. I can’t wait to dig into Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo’s new book, A Galaxy of Sea Stars, which publishes in February. The ARC is on top of my TBR pile.

Laura Shovan's debut middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, won several awards, including NCTE 2017 Notable Verse. Her novel Takedown was selected by Junior  Library Guild and PJ Our Way, and was on the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer list of feminist books. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with author/activist Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a longtime poet-in-the-schools in Maryland. She likes to knit, bake bread, and doodle robots. 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Interview with Valerie Douglas, author of the Coming Storm series

1. What are you currently working on and can you tell us a little about it? 

Currently working on an epic fantasy from my Coming Storm series. Dark wizards have risen in the Kingdoms once again and Alon, leader of the Hunters for the Three, and Misha, mind-magic wizard, must answer or the Kingdoms will fall to Darkness.

2. Do you have a specific process when you’re writing? 

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool pantser, joining the people in my books, following where they lead as they fight against terrible enemies.

3. What are you reading at the moment? 

I rarely read while writing, but when I do read, I read anything.

4. How many books have you written? 

29, and counting.

5. What’s your favorite genre to write? 

All of them, I love a challenge. So I write epic fantasy, suspense, westerns, a horror novel, and, under my V. J. Devereaux pen name, erotic romance.

Valerie Douglas has written over 20 novels that reflect her eclectic tastes. A fan of almost every genre, she's  written the high fantasy Coming Storm series, Song of the Fairy Queen, and the Servant of the Gods historical fantasy series, as well as mysteries, thrillers, westerns, romantic suspense, and romance. She writes books for adults with rich character and plot-driven stories. 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Excerpt of Learning To Fall by Dean Mann

I’ve always known I was different from everyone around me, I just couldn’t pinpoint what it was, until the moment the other boys were talking about girls and getting girlfriends, I was fantasizing about someone different. A boy, named Matthew Price - the cool kid, that everyone wanted to be friends with. He was tall, had black hair, and skinny, yet someone I had strange feelings for. It wasn’t until my friend at the time; Brad asked me why I haven’t said anything during the conversation. 
I shrug, “I’m just not interested.” 
His face changes, “Are you gay then?” 
Seeing as this is the first time, I’ve heard the word in my nine years, I have no connotation as to what it means, but it feels right, “What’s that?” 
            “It’s when a boy likes boys. You know, gay.”
             I shrug once again as if it’s the only thing I know how to do at this moment, “If that’s what it means, then sure. I guess so.”
            “Do you like me,” Brad asks. 
            Confused by his question, I respond with a question, “What do you mean?”
            “Like do you like me, like I like Olivia,” He states. 
            I reply honestly, “I don’t think so.”
            “Why not?”
            “I don’t know; I just like you as a friend. I guess,” another shrug. 
            “Who do you like then?”
            “I think I like Matthew,” I reply Uncrossing my legs from the crisscross position they were in. 
            Brad pauses, “Matthew?”
            “Yeah, Price.”
            “Why,” he asks, raising his eyebrows. 
            “I don’t know; I just do, I guess.”
           Later that afternoon, Brad went and told Matthew that I liked him and that I was gay.
I mean it wasn’t a lie, I didn’t see any harm in it. I was in fifth grade, how was I supposed to know there was a stigma attached to the word ‘gay’? However, I did get the memo when Matthew came up to me, punched me in the face, and proceeded to tell me to stay away from him. As if that wasn’t enough, he then told everyone to stay away from me. Which they did, because Matthew was Matthew. Pretty soon, I was known as the “gay” kid in school.
           That evening, when my mom (also known as Susan,) came home from work, she called me into the kitchen and told me she had gotten a call from the school saying I’ve been in a fight. 
“Okay,” I say. 
Her purse sits on the kitchen counter, as she rummages through it, looking for God knows what, “I also received a call from Mrs. Price,” she states. 
            “Okay,” I respond, not seeing what this has to do with anything. 
            “Do you know what she told me,” she looks up from her rummaging. 
            “That Matthew was sorry,” I was guessing, knowing it was wrong. 
            She shakes her head and replies, “No, that Matthew told her, that you said you were gay and that you liked him.” 
            “I like him yes,” I state, not wavering on my story. 
           Susan places her hands on her hips and bends at the waist, just slightly concerned, “But, as a friend.”
            “I don’t know; I think he’s cute.”
            The look on her face went from questioning to horrified. “You don’t mean that.”
            Confused as to why this is a big deal, I respond, “Yes, I do.”
           Susan stands upright now, her finger beings to wave in my face, “You don’t, and that’s final, do you understand?” 
            “I don’t see why I can’t like boys when everyone likes girls,” I reply, taking a step back. 
            “Because it’s wrong,” she says, taking a step forward. 
            “Says who,” I question her, and I see a spark in her eyes begin to light the fire underneath her skin. 
            “The Bible.”
            “We don’t go to church. Why do you all of a sudden believe the Bible?”
            Her posture changes to that of a teacher's when they begin to get fed up with all of the bullshit questions her students ask over and over again, "Because it's where our laws come from." 
            Knowing I won’t win or get a better understanding of who I was, I continue to question her, knowing what it could possibly lead to, “But, it’s not even a law. It makes no sense.” 
            “You better learn to find some sense in it, before I beat it into you,
 she states, spitting the words through her teeth. 
            “Okay,” I reply, dropping it. 
            “Okay,” she wants more, but I won’t let her have it.
            Taking a step back from her approaching body, I speak before thinking, “I said okay. Can I go now?”
            She nods her head, signaling to get out of her vicinity, but this conversation is far from over. 

            Fast forward to four years, and I’m in the ninth grade, keeping to myself. My once outgoing personality faded after that dreaded conversation with my mom and a few more beatings, just to ensure I understood.  I began to keep my feelings to myself. Something I never thought I’d have to do. I was quiet now, I kept my head low, but it didn’t stop my once friends from pushing me into the brick walls around the school, hitting books out of my hands and trying to trip me every chance they got. My first year of high school sucked mainly the freshman dance, which is the only time I’ve ever gone to a school function by choice. 
 It was when I had finally decided just to say fuck it and be open about my sexuality. This dance was the perfect place to really let go, of all of my worries. I had no date, nor did I go with friends. I Just wanted to go, to blend in and let people know I’m normal and they have nothing to fear from me. 
            The lights were blue and purple; it was winter formal. I had my mom buy me a black suit, with a yellow vest, teal tie, and a pair of yellow converses. Pretty much, I stood out from the moment I stepped out of her car. 
            Matthew, the one I had the crush on in my younger years had really taken a turn after his dad went to jail for fraud and his mom slowly lost it, so he kind of became the popular outcast. Well, what made him popular was the fear he instilled in people. Any aggression he had, he took it out on me. I guess looking back at it, I have no idea why I wanted to go to this dance, knowing he’d be there. 
Well, after standing in the back, bobbing my head, and moving to the dancefloor for the cha-cha-slide. (Yup, that's the only dance I dared to go to,) I decided it would be a good time to go home while I still felt like I accomplished something. Matthew, on the other hand, though I was having too much of a good time and followed me out to the parking lot as I waited for my mom.
            His black hair spiked, and his pukka shell necklace sat tight against his throat. “You shouldn’t have come tonight,” he said. 
            I try to stand my ground, though my voice quivers, “I go to this school too; I can go to whichever event I want to.” 
            “Fags like you don’t belong here,” he states, thinking that a simple word would cause me to back down from the impending doom he wants to cause. 
            I bite, knowing what I’m about to say will increase the urge in him to fight me, “Fag, huh? That a word your dad taught you while he’s been in prison.” 
            I watch his fists tighten. I keep an eye on them, waiting for them to swing. There’s a part of me that wishes he would. “At least my dad’s not a queer, butt pirate like you.” His insult lands flat on me. 
            “Do you know what happens in prison, especially to the ones that steal money? By the time your dad gets out, he’s going to be gayer than me,” I smirk, proud of myself for standing my ground. 
            Matthew, body trembling, raises one hand, and three of his cronies making their way out onto the sidewalk behind me.  
            “You’re dead, faggot.” He throws the first punch, landing on my jaw, I try to fight back, but two people grab my arms and begin to hold me down, forcing me to my knees as Matthew takes his cheap shots. A few to the stomach, then to the face. I feel the blood, warm as it falls from my lips. I can taste the iron. My left eye begins to swell as he removes his fist from the socket. 
The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital, and my dad, yelling at Susan for letting this happen to me. 
            “He can’t go back to that hick school. I will not allow it.” My dad says, standing at the end of the bed. 
            “It’s not the school that did it to him,” Susan replies.
            I can hear Dad trying forcing himself not to yell, “Oh, no? They didn’t try to stop it either. I’m sure they sat there and watched before trying to intervene.” 
           Susan rebuttals, “If he would just listen to what I’ve said and just kept his mouth shut about his sickness.” 
            “Sickness, sickness? Susan, our son, is 13 years old he’s tried to kill himself once, because he’s different than other kids, and then he gets the shit beat out of him because he finally wants to be who he is. No, I will not allow that. He can come live with me and go to Clarence.”  
            “You can’t raise him, you’re never home!” she begins to raise her voice. 
            Dad argues, but remains calm, “Honestly, Susan, we can move him anywhere, and he’d be better off than here with you,” 
Learning to Fall_Cover.pdf           I can her trying to keep her voice low, as to not wake me up.  “You take that back.” 
            “Look at him, Susan. Look at what you have done to our son and will keep doing if you make him stay with you.”             Susan sounds as if she’s about to cry, the idea of losing her son must be too hard for her, even if he is the least favorite child, “I’ll switch his schools, somewhere they won’t know he’s gay, and I’ll make sure he doesn’t say a word.” 
            This is when I feel I need to step in, for me at least, "I'd rather live with dad," I grunt. My chest hurts, and my face tight.  
            Both parents rush over to my side. “You’re just in pain; you don’t know what you’re saying,” Susan says. 
            “I’m not going to hide from the world. I’d rather go somewhere I can be open with who I am. It’s what my therapist said I needed anyway,” I lie, but for a good reason this time. 
            Susan’s pencil-thin lips pucker as if she just sucked on a lemon, “I won’t have you live under my roof if you plan to be openly gay.” 
            “Then it’s a good thing I choose to live with dad,” I say before closing my one open eye.