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Interview with Tracie Podger   3 comments

Today’s interview is with Tracie Podger. Welcome to the blog.


Tell us something about yourself. 

TraciePodger Author PicI’m a full time author with a passion for photographing sharks. I’ve been a scuba diving instructor for about fifteen years now and although I don’t teach anymore, I still like to indulge in my hobby, underwater photography. I’m married and owned by a cat called George who doesn’t like me very much.


Cats will keep you humble. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I guess I came to writing later in life. Six or seven years ago I was undergoing therapy for depression (I was in the nuthouse) and part of that therapy was to write a journal. That journal morphed into a ‘story’. I found the process of writing cathartic and I lost myself in the fiction. I haven’t stopped writing.


Tell us about your writing process.

I have a notebook and I’ll write a very basic outline before I start. Then it’s straight from brain to laptop. I let the story go where it wants to go. Once I’m done, I leave that piece for a week or so then go back for a read through and edit. After, it’s off to betas then to my editors. I’ll do my last proofread from the paperback that I’ll receive before the book goes live.


What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I write contemporary romance and I like to explore relationships that are testing and not straightforward. I like to add an element of suspense. I’m known to read crime/thriller but it’s something I’m yet to write.


What are you passionate about?

The underwater environment and teaching people not to abuse our seas and critters. I’m passionate about being kind and making sure to do a good deed a day. I’m passionate about my family and my writing, about being the best person I can.


What is something you cannot live without?

TraciePodgerAVAecoverMy husband. If it hadn’t of been for him, I wouldn’t be here now.


When you are not writing, what do you do?

Scuba diving and travelling are two of my pastimes. I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to some wonderful countries, and explored the oceans.


Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

A Virtual Affair was the first book I wrote, the one that started life as a journal and was for my eyes only. It was the book that I used as part of my therapy through depression. That book was written six or seven years ago and although it’s had a rewrite and a lot of the personal stuff has been removed, I decided to publish this book in February. That one book did two things. It gave me a purpose to keep battling and I found a passion for something I didn’t know I had.


Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

Either personal experiences or dreams. Sounds mad, doesn’t it? Robert Stone, the lead man in the Fallen Angel Series, came to me as a dream. Each night it was as if he was telling me a story and I’d wake and write down that dream as a way of discharging it. Weeks later, after I’d written Virtual I read through the notebook and decided that was my next book.


My characters tell me stories too, just not in my dreams. When I’m doing something boring, usually. I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

TraciePodgerFA-Menofseries.001The laptop for sure, a pad and pencil (always has to be a pencil), and my iPad. This actually sounds like my idea of heaven. I’d write for half of that month and then I’d read for the other. I don’t read while I’m writing so I don’t actually get a great deal of opportunity to make my way through my TBR. Two weeks in an Alaskan Cabin (I’d prefer the Winter if that can be arranged) would be bliss – Can we do this? Pretty please?


If my husband gets a roof on it this summer, it might be possible. Talk about your books individually.

The Fallen Angel series is a Mafia Romance with a difference. It’s narrated by Brooke Stiles, a British woman who, while on holiday in Washington, DC, falls in love with the elusive Robert Stone. This is her journey of discovery, discovering who Robert really is, and having to alter her life to fit in with his. Now, she’s by no means a walkover, this girl is kickass.

We then have four character novels – Robert, Travis, Evelyn & Rocco. These can be read as standalones and in any order, at any time through the series. These books are the characters backstory, the ‘this is why they behave the way they do’. All are prior to the start of Fallen Angel, Part 1 (which is FREE on all platforms, by the way) but are not designed as prequels.

A Virtual Affair, I’ve already mentioned, is one woman’s journey through depression. In fact it contains one of my favourite tag lines – From her dream house in Kent, via the nuthouse, and eventually to a cottage on a beach.


What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

TraciePodgerFASeries.001That they’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster, that they’ve cried, screamed, and cursed. That they have enjoyed a piece of escapism for a few hours. I don’t presume to leave readers with a ‘message’, it’s not my place to do so. I just provide, hopefully, something to enjoy, a little bit of fun and hope that the reader loses a tiny piece of their heart to my characters.



What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Simple, it was keeping control at a time when my life was balancing precariously. I had an agent, we didn’t get on, and we parted company very early on. I submitted the very first draft of A Virtual Affair to other agents; no one was interested (and rightly so, it was terrible!) so I decided to go it alone. I made a ton of mistakes, I made a ton of great friends, and I learnt and grew in the process. I love self-publishing. It would be wonderful to see my books in stores and as an Indie this is possible but hard work.


What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

Control over all things, which for me, is a must. I can select when I release, cover design, word count, etc. I can ditch a book and start another without consequence. I can work to my timetable and I can alter that if I need to.


Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Distribution into stores. It’s possible as an Indie to see your book on a shelf but it’s hard work getting there.


Who designed your book cover/s?

Margreet Assleberg from Rebel Edit & Design. She is, not only an amazing designer, but a mind reader as well. I send her one obscure email and tell her I’m going to be a real pain on this one, and she’ll come back with virtually what I envisaged.


Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

Absolutely. However, there is a stigma surrounding indie. That stigma has been born from way too many people uploading poor quality books without guidance and with a small group of supporters unable to tell them the truth. With traditional publishing the book has gone through the gatekeeper (Agent), then editors and copy editors, and proof readers. That’s not to say a traditionally published book is error free. I recently finished a book put out by Harper Collins with many mistakes. Self published books often don’t have that level of checking.  That may be due to ignorance, finances, arrogance even.


I think it’s a mixture. Finances are a huge driver for me, but I work hard to overcome that, but I think some authors either don’t think it matters or they believe their story is so great that readers won’t care. Then they wonder why the book doesn’t sell.

A self published author that has the ability to learn their craft, to listen and take advice, to seek out guidance and to study the right ways forward will be able to produce work as high, if not higher, than a traditional publisher.


I entirely agree. Indie doesn’t need to be poor quality and there are a lot of us out there who are proving it.

To Browse Tracie’s books, please feel free to visit her Amazon page –

Or web site –

Posted July 6, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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Interview with Faith Blum   1 comment


Today’s interview is with Faith Blum. Welcome to the blog. Tell us something about yourself. 

Faith Blum Author PicThank you, Lela! I’m so glad to be here. I am a home-school graduate from Wisconsin who has always loved to read and write. My favorite genre for years has been historical fiction, but especially westerns. About a year ago, I quit my job doing data entry at an accountant’s office so I could write full-time. I am so glad that I did. It has been great!


At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

I wrote my first story when I was about ten as far as I can remember and I have been writing ever since. I never really anticipated being published, or really thought about it seriously until 2012 when a friend told me about a contest and I decided to polish up a novel for it. I didn’t win the contest, but that work was enough to give me the boost to become independently published.


When you are not writing, what do you do?

Read, play games with my family, crochet, knit, sew, and sometimes watch a movie. I’m also part of a Bible Study and help at a Good News Club, so I keep pretty busy.


Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

Faith Blum Might FortressMy most recent novel did, actually. I wrote the rough draft in a month and then let it sit for 2 or 3 months before beginning to edit it. As I edited it, I could completely relate to what my protagonist was going through. God must have known I would need those words during that editing time and had me write them back then. It was amazing!


Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

The first novel idea came from a short story contest that I was too old to enter. It went through a few transformations, but eventually became the first novel in my Hymns of the West series, A Mighty Fortress. The fifth book in the series got its inspiration from some random thoughts that went through my mind when a beta-reader of A Mighty Fortress asked if I was going to write a sequel. I told him I hadn’t planned on it, but then my brain started working.

After that, I ended up getting ideas for three books that came between A Mighty Fortress and The Solid Rock, but they all came from the characters in my first book. Since then, I’ve had ideas for other novels and stories and I’m not really sure where all of them come from.


What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

Faith Blum Amazing GraceI love to write in first person because it seems so personal that way. But I also like third person because you can get more points of view than just the one person. So I’m a little conflicted.


I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

I’m going to bring plenty of notebooks, pens, pencils, books on the Old West, my Bible, and Jaye L. Knight’s Ilyon Chronicles series. That way I can write a lot, do some research, study God’s word, and also have a fun series to read.


Talk about your books individually.

Faith Blum LilyI’ll try to keep this brief for each book. So, here’s the rapid fire version of each book in order of release with a sentence or two about the writing of them.

A Mighty Fortress (Hymns of the West #1): After their stagecoach is attacked by outlaws, an adventurous young man and his timid sister flee into unsettled territory and must find their way to town before they are killed by a pursuing gunslinger. This was my first published book and got me launched into what has now become my career (though I’m still figuring out how to best market and make enough money). AMF also introduces most of the characters who appear in the next four books of the series.

Be Thou My Vision (Hymns of the West #2): After learning of her younger brother’s death, an outspoken spinster defies her father and starts going to church, where she begins to care for the widower pastor’s two rambunctious boys who need a mother’s love. This book wasn’t originally going to happen, but after a beta-readers question, I decided Jed’s family needed some more story.

Amazing Grace (Hymns of the West #3): A doubting man agrees to wed a widowed mail-order bride, but he struggles with whether or not he can be a father to the woman’s daughter who desperately wants a father’s love. After writing about Anna in book 2, I couldn’t let Caleb’s story go unfinished, so he got his own book alongside his leading lady.

I Love Thee (Hymns of the West Novellas #1): When his sister dies, leaving him with four children ages 8 and under, Cole Baxter gets desperate. He decides he needs a wife. He writes to a mail order bride before realizing he almost threw away the best woman he could have. I introduced Cole Baxter in Amazing Grace, but after writing and editing the novel, I wanted to know more about him, so I wrote his story in this novella.

Pass Me Not (Hymns of the West Novellas #2): Timothy is at his wit’s end. His twelve year old half-sister has run off five housekeepers in almost a year. Since their parents died, she has grown wilder than ever. What can he do? As he looks for a new housekeeper, his eye catches sight of a mail order bride advertisement. One young lady has a younger sister and sounds like a God-fearing woman. Could this be the answer to his dilemma or will Louise run her off, too? Since I’d written one novella based off of minor characters, I decided to write the other two as well. The mail order brides in this novella and in Redeemed were originally introduced in Amazing Grace in their advertisements.

Faith Blum RedeemedRedeemed (Hymns of the West Novellas #3): Alexander Granger is tired of his father’s lectures and sermons. It’s time for payback. His plan is to pretend to marry a woman and scandalize his father when he finds out they aren’t really married. Will Mona accept his offer? Can Alex get away with his plan?

Lily of the Valley (Hymns of the West #4): Romance suddenly overwhelms a shy schoolteacher with three men out to court her, but rejecting one of them means having to deal with a bout of slander that could mean losing her position. One of my favorite novels to write, it is also my longest thus far.

The Solid Rock (Hymns of the West #5): A talented detective with a mission to find his kidnapped colleague finds himself working undercover with a heinous outlaw who has more plans than first meet the eye. This book was my first original idea for the sequel to A Mighty Fortress, but due to the timeframes, it ended up being the last in the series. It also ventured into new territory as my first successful mystery novel. Trivia fact: I wrote the rough draft (about 60,000 words) in just 32 days.

Life and Salvation (Hymns of the West Novellas Omnibus #1): This is a collection of the three novellas published so far.


Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

Faith Blum Solid RockYes. My goal as an author is to encourage Christians in their walk with God and to hopefully reach non-Christians with the Gospel.


What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

If they are Christians, I would like for them to think of how they can grow as a Christian to become more like Christ every day. If they are not a Christian, my prayer is for them to truly think about, and consider why they have not surrendered their life to Christ yet and possibly do it.


What influenced your decision to self-publish?

I had a few online friends who had self-published and as I looked into it, self-publishing was easier, more author focused, and I could be a lot more involved in the entire process.


What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

Faith Blum VisionWhat I think is the greatest advantage is being in control of the whole publishing process from content to formatting to book cover design.


Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Having the name of the publishing house behind your books, therefore getting the book out to more people.


Who designed your book covers?

Perry Elisabeth of Perry Elisabeth Designs designed all the covers for my novels,  Kendra at Kreative Kreations designed my novella covers, and I designed the cover for my novella collection and have designed the covers for my next three novella covers.


 Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

Yes, I believe they can. With hard work, a good editor and/or proofreader, good formatting, and cover designs, it is very possible.


Do you write specifically for a Christian audience? Why or why not?

Yes, I do write specifically for a Christian audience. As a Christian myself, I have had a hard time finding good historical fiction, either Christian or secular that I can really enjoy and are written well. My aim is to write good books that teach both some history and Christianity and still be enjoyable to read.


What are some of the special challenges of being a Christian writer?

Not getting too preachy. I didn’t think I was in my first book, but then I heard from a few others who said that I was, so there’s a fine balancing act there.


Christians are told to be “in the world, but not of it.” As a Christian writer, how do you write to conform to that scripture?

I think the best way to do that is to pray and then write what God wants you to write without compromise, even if it doesn’t conform to the world’s standards.


Do you feel that Christian writers are expected to conform to some standards that are perhaps not realistic to the world?

 Yes, especially romance writers. Romances today are expected to be accelerated timelines with the perfect man and perfect woman who have a perfect conflict and then end up falling in love anyway. I personally try to write stories that are realistic to real life, especially for any romance plots. I’m not condemning Christian writers who don’t, I just think it would be nice to present a “real” romance once in a while.


I don’t personally read romance for just that reason. Maybe you’ll change my mind. Do you feel that Christian writers should focus on writing really great story or on presenting the gospel clearly in everything they write? Or is it possible to do both?

I think it’s possible to do both. I’ve done it in most, if not all, of my books and it has been received well. I vary how I present the gospel and sometimes I kind of just slip it in, but it is still there. A reader recently told me that he appreciated how I presented the gospel so clearly in my book, Be Thou My Vision. He also mentioned that he was enjoying reading my book, too.


How do readers find you and your books?







Email: faith[dot]blum[dot]author[at]gmail[dot]com


Interview with Arthur Daigle   2 comments


Today’s interview is with fantasy author Arthur Daigle. It’s nice to have you visiting the blog, Arthur. Tell us something about yourself. 

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and I earned a biology degree from Champaign Urbana (what can I say, it seemed like a good idea at the time).  I’d like to say I pay my bills with my writing income, but that’s a filthy lie.  I’ve worked at a variety of establishments, including Brookfield Zoo, Morton Arboretum, Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, grading tests and working at a garden center.


Nothing wrong with that. Real life experience makes us better writers, in my opinion. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer? (When did you write your first story, for example?)

I started writing for fun in high school.  My work then will never see the light of day, and that’s a good thing.  (Lela laughs in agreement) I attended the College of DuPage where I had to write a paper for every class except math.  I later learned this was a deliberate move on the part of the college to get their students better prepared to write when they were employed.  With their help I got to be pretty good at writing.

I continued doing minor writing after that for fun. I joined a writers group based out of my local library. The group was a lot of fun and the members offered valuable advice. I eventually wrote a full length novel, William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins.  Friends and family members encouraged me to publish it. I eventually did so, and while it’s been a struggle to get it noticed I remain hopeful and have even published two sequels.


Tell us about your writing process.

It starts by taking walks. Not what you were expecting, I know, but it works for me.


Bradshaw King of GoblinsI hike in bear country, so it doesn’t seem strange to me. How do your walks work for you?

I take long walks with no company and no electronic devises, just me and a plastic bag to collect recyclables.  I come up with my best ideas during these walks.  No idea how it works, but it does.

The ideas come to me like movie clips running in my head. Each ‘clip’ would last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes in an actually movie. Once I have enough of these mental movie clips, I sew them together in my mind into a finished story. I then sit down at my computer and actually start writing.

When I write, it’s mostly just fleshing out the scenes I came up with during my walks. I sometimes come up with new scenes while I’m writing, and new jokes too, but I figure 80-90% of it is just copying down what I already have planned.


What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I write fantasy mixed with comedy. I also write a bit of science fiction, but this is in the minority. When I’m reading I actually prefer non-fiction. I enjoy histories, biographies, gardening and biology related books, military and war books, and occasionally stranger stuff like books on jade sculptures. Odd as this must seem, I don’t like reading fantasy or science fiction anymore. I used to love them, but I got a long string of bad books. This is actually one of the main reasons why I write. I’m trying to create the books I wish I could buy at the bookstore or check out at the library.


I know what you mean. What are you passionate about?

I’m a devout Catholic.  I’m also interested in preserving the environment.


What is something you cannot live without?

Bradshaw Faint Hope.jpgI need green and love gardening. I couldn’t survive in a dry or very cold environment where I couldn’t grow things or walk in forests. I also need to create. I once tried not to in college when my grades were dipping in Latin and I needed to focus on my classwork. It felt awful. I was miserable until I got back to drawing and writing again.


When you are not writing, what do you do?

I draw monsters, robots, aliens and other typical guy stuff. Some of these things find their way into my stories. I also garden, with an emphasis on growing stuff I can eat. These include tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, green beans and blackberries.


Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

The trite answer is everywhere, but it’s true. I’ve gotten story ideas from books, movies, songs, dreams, TV news, even back of the box video game descriptions. Often times I will see something with promise that was poorly executed and wonder how I could have fixed it. I keep working on the original idea and changing it until it is unrecognizable from the source material. Other times I honestly don’t know where this stuff comes from. I’ll be minding my own business when an idea shows up, no idea where it came from.


I’ve had similar inspiration experiences. What sort of research do you do for your novels?

Here’s where comedy and fantasy really shines! I do very little research for my books. I get some ideas from books I’ve already read, but in fantasy I can make many of my own rules. My goblins don’t have to be replicas of mythological goblins, nor do my trolls, dwarfs, elves or dragons. Since the books are supposed to be funny I can get away with even more. My dwarfs work in corporations, my trolls act like soccer hooligans and my elves fight one another more than anyone else.


That sounds like fun reading. If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

Bradshaw WarI shoot for silly. There’s a line in the original Clash of the Titans where a former playwright says he used to write tragedies until he realized there were enough of those in the world. I kind of took that for my motto. If you want to cry a river then all you have to do it turn on the evening news. I want my readers to laugh out loud and feel better when they’re done with my books.


That’s refreshing. Do you have a special place where you write?

That’s changed over the years. I used to write in a spare bedroom, but lately I’ve done my work in the basement. Both places are fairly quiet.


Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

A recurring theme in my books is racism and bullying. My goblins are considered the lowest of the low. They’re looked down on, belittled and robbed by just about anyone. They live in garbage dumps, wastelands and other undesirable places because larger and more powerful races pushed them from the nicer locations. As the series progresses, Will gets the goblins to realize they can fight back, and they can win.


Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

Plot.  I honestly don’t see another way to do it well.


I think it’s all depends on how your mind works Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

As described above, I do a sort of mental outline.  I’ve tried doing the discovery method and it falls apart in the first few pages.


What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

I do third person for most of my work.  It gives you the option to go to another character when necessary.


Do you head-hop?

Only a little.  William Bradshaw gets most of the airtime in my books so it’s mostly told from his perspective. As a bonus, Will is a normal person on a crazy fantasy world, so he’s the one readers are mostly likely to understand. When necessary I give another character a few pages if the story requires it and Will’s not around for that scene.


I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

Curse you and your Robinson Crusoe abandonment!  I can’t grow tomatoes in Alaska!  (Insert violent grumbling here).  Okay, gardening is out since it’s Alaska and their summers are too cold and short for anything except cabbage, which I am not eating.  That means it’s hiking and exploring time.  I’ll enjoy the forests as much as possible.  Books would include the Bible, anything about Jim Henson (he’s a role model for me), and geology books.  I’m told they’ve found some pretty big pieces of jade in Alaska, so if I’m being dumped there it might be a good time to go prospecting.


We do have lovely jade, which kudos for knowing. Talk about your books individually.

William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins:

Will Bradshaw is desperate for work when he accepts a management job from the law firm of Cickam, Wender and Downe. Too late he learns that his job is to ‘manage’ the goblins on the world of Other Place as their king. His goblin followers are short, stupid and mildly crazy. They treat his commands as well-intended suggestions, and setting traps is the national pastime. Will’s kingdom is a former dwarf strip mine, which is still recovering after 90 years. Will can get home if he can find a loophole in his king contract with the lawyers.

That’s soon the least of his worries when he accidentally starts a war with a neighbouring human kingdom and their fashion obsessed monarch, Kervol Ket. The only way Will is going to live long enough to get home is by winning the war, a tall order when Kervol has archers, foot soldiers, knights and siege weapons. Worse, goblins haven’t won a war in recorded history, and they have no interest in winning this one, either.

William Bradshaw and a Faint Hope:

Will Bradshaw is still King of the Goblins whether he wants the job or not. He’s just learned that the legendary Bottle of Hope is hidden somewhere in his rattletrap kingdom. The bottle is highly prized, for even a single drop of its water can heal any injury or illness.

This is not a good thing. Thieves, adventurers and treasure hunters are flooding into the kingdom to steal it, and an army is not far behind. An ancient evil is also coming to destroy the Bottle of Hope. Will and his friends have to find the Bottle of Hope and get it out of the kingdom while they still have a kingdom.

William Bradshaw and War Unending:

Will Bradshaw still has a kingdom to rule despite the best efforts of both his enemies and his friends. His hectic life soon gets worse when a dwarf brings him a wounded goblin. The poor goblin has learned that a horrible evil long though contained has escaped its prison. An army of immortal madmen are on the march and coming after all the races of Other Place. Goblins, trolls, elves, dwarfs and even other men are in danger.

Will and his goblins aren’t going to be enough to face this threat. He’s going to need help from new friends and old enemies to win the day. There’s just one question: how do you beat men who can’t die?


There’s a Bruce Campbell sort of feel to those descriptions. They sound like fun reads. What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

Laugh!  Laugh so loud that people stare at you and wonder if you’re okay. Laugh so long that your troubles are pushed to the background where they belong.


What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Desperation, pure and simple. I was originally published traditionally. I found a small publisher who liked my work and gave me a chance. It worked out great for the first 9 months or so and then began to sour. We parted ways shortly thereafter.

Problem was, publishers don’t want to touch previously published books. There are a couple reasons why, but a big one is if it didn’t do well once it’s not worth risking their money on. I couldn’t find a new publisher and didn’t want to abandon my book, so I went to CreateSpace and got started with them. I’d still like to have a publisher, but that’s not an option so I forge on alone.


Since you have experience with both traditional and indie publishing, compare the two.

There’s surprisingly little difference between the two. Most traditional publishers are bleeding money. They don’t spend the time and dollars on marketing, largely since 60% of their books lose money. Of course that becomes sort of a Catch 22, since books are pretty much doomed to fail without marketing support from the publisher. This means the author is not only writing the book but also marketing it. Many publishers expect authors to also have their books edited at their expense before they’ll consider reading them. Bottom line, you’re already doing most of the work of a self publisher.


There are people who believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

I couldn’t say. Traditionally published books are seen as better than indie work, and there’s some truth to that. When they choose to invest the money, traditional publishers can market books far better than indies as well.


What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

As I stated above, going independent was less a choice than a requirement after my old publisher dropped me. If there is any advantage to doing this myself, it’s that I have control over the final product.


Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

They lack the channels for marketing books as efficiently as traditional publishers.  Traditional publishers can also get reviews from professional reviewers whose names carry more weight.


With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

No idea.  My best efforts at marketing my books haven’t been all that successful.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to share.


Why do you think I’m asking? As an indie author myself, you’re not saying anything I don’t know, but I ask hoping to gain the knowledge others have gain. Who designed your book cover/s?

This is going to be embarrassing.  My first book cover was designed by Aaron Williams, a fantasy artist and cartoonist of some reputation. I was very glad to get him.  Unfortunately when I did my second book Aaron was overbooked and couldn’t do the work. I hired a lady named Vanette Kosman for that one. When I was ready to publish book 3, Vanette was also unavailable and asked if I could wait 2-3 months. I didn’t want to wait that long and I was worried that the 2-3 months might grow, so I contacted my current artist Jon Hrubesch.


Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

Yes, and in some cases they can produce superior work. I’ve read traditionally published books that were garbage and left me wondering why someone didn’t take the author aside and club them over the head with a dead badger. Seriously, we’re talking bad writing, cardboard cutout characters, gaping plot holes and other problems.

Indie books need good writing above all else. Make it stunning and as original as possible.  After that the book needs beta readers. Find people who love you enough to say your book sucks and hand it to them. Flattery gets you nothing while an honest critique is worth its weight in gold. Next step, edit the book until you can’t stand the sight of it. Round after round of editing is needed to find the flaws and get rid of them. If you can afford it, get a professional to look at it, but only after you’ve worked hard at it yourself. Lastly, buy good cover art. Note I didn’t say expensive cover art. I met a guy who wanted $650 for a cover.  He’s good, no question, but that’s a lot of money and he couldn’t work in the style I needed. There are plenty of artists out there who are talented and affordable.


Do you belong to a writer’s cooperative? Describe your experience with that.

I didn’t know such a thing existed until you mentioned it. I used to belong to a writers group at my library. They offered great advice, but often times I was the only person who wrote anything. Many of them had wonderful plans for books they were going to write, but the next time we met there wasn’t a word written. Others got a chapter or two done, promising work, too, and then never returned. The group folded due to lack of attendance.


Do you write specifically for a Christian audience? Why or why not?

I write fantasy and comedy.  I feel a good fantasy can have important theological elements in the same vein as C S Lewis and J R Tolkien.  I’m not sure if I achieved that in my writing, but I try.


Do you find that the Christian reader community is accepting of speculative fiction?


By and large yes, but there are exceptions. I have met people who state theirs is a Christian household and fantasy isn’t welcome. Personally I feel there doesn’t have to be a division between the two, and most of my readers are religious.



 Where do readers find you and your books?

Links to books:

William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins:


William Bradshaw and a Faint Hope:


William Bradshaw and War Unending:


Find Arthur Daigle on Facebook.

Visit with Claire MT Stibbe   1 comment

Claire MT Stibbe is one of my favorite authors and I am proud to share space with her on the Breakwater Harbor Books imprint. So when she came out with a new book, I asked her to stop by the blog. Welcome, Claire. I’ve interviewed you before, so let’s dispense with the bio and get down to the meat. What challenges have you had to overcome or deal with in order to write?

CMT Stibbe Author PicWorking full time has always been a challenge since there are so few hours left in the day to sit down in a dedicated space and write. Now my main challenge is social media, updating webpages, editing, blogs, proofreading, reviews, formatting and Facebook. Each tiny distraction takes away precious minutes and hours from getting back into my writing zone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself not to be sidetracked by the onslaught of bestselling workshops that promise essential writing tips, marketing and promotion. There’s only so many you can take.


I think that’s a struggle for many authors these days, myself included. How do you think this challenge has impact on your writing?
I love doing it all. That’s the problem. But these commitments need to be managed. Having succumbed to an egg-timer and doing only one hour a day for twitter and Facebook, I have found a large chunk of time to write. My contemporary crime books don’t really fit the blueprint of thriller & suspense. They tend to fall somewhere between literary and mystery rather than being branded to one or the other. So I call them Myst-Lit (or Mis-Fit).


I like that. What was your greatest fear when you first started to write?

Criticism. There are so many writers out there who have folded under that big giant, lost all their drive, passion and nerve. It’s awful to watch. I fell victim to the thought that making a book public would attract a queue of literary critics and I’d be buried under a CMT Stibbe Review Pupmorass of one-star reviews. I remember going to a dinner party in London several years ago and sitting next to a man who kept referring to my writing as ‘a little project’ and ‘did I understand that writers must have a PhD to be considered for publication.’ I decided to load my sling and be a David to that Goliath. Reviews can be harsh, but we need them all the same.

Here’s my review puppy. I trot him out when reviews are scarce. Who can resist those little boot-button eyes…


What advice would you give to someone who wants to write but is feeling held back by circumstances and/or challenges?

All books are subjective and reviewers are only doing what comes naturally― evaluating the story. Take constructive criticism on the chin and learn from it and take no notice of the one-star bandits. All the best authors have them so why shouldn’t we? Trust your gut, change what you feel you need to change and leave the rest. Write until you croak.


Tell us about something you’ve written that you’re really proud of, and something you’re writing now.

CMT Stibbe 3I wrote The 9th Hour, a contemporary mystery /thriller set in New Mexico. The first book in a seven-part series introduces Temeke as the MC, an English detective who couldn’t be further from his native stomping ground. He is not much liked by his peers and due to a barrage of poorly chosen words finds himself ousted from Homicide and sent to Northwest Area Command.

When the ninth young girl falls into the clutches of a serial killer, maverick detective, David Temeke, faces a race against time to save her life.

The Duke City Police Department in Albuquerque, New Mexico is no stranger to gruesome murders, but this new serial killer on their block keeps the body parts of his eight young victims as trophies and has a worrying obsession with the number 9. The suspect is incarcerated in the state’s high-security penitentiary but Unit Commander Hackett is faced with a dilemma when another teenage girl goes missing.

Detective Temeke and his new partner, Malin Santiago, are sent to solve a baffling crime in the dense forests of New Mexico’s Cimarron State Park. But time is running out. Can they unravel the mysteries of Norse legends and thwart the 9th Hour killer before he dismembers his next victim?

This is the first in the Detective Temeke Crime series.

CMT Stibbe 4Night Eyes is the second in the series and was released last week. I think this is my favorite book so far.

When the young son of Albuquerque’s Mayor is kidnapped, Detective David Temeke and his partner Malin Santiago are called to investigate.

Meanwhile, a 10-year inquiry into the murders of several young boys has gone cold. No witnesses, no suspect. Or so the police believe. But a mysterious phone call leads Temeke and Santiago to the remains of a young boy found near the ancient ruins of an Anasazi settlement. Is this a random act or the work of the serial killer?

Drawn deeper into the wilderness by a man waging a war with his past, twelve year old boy-scout, Adam, must use everything he has learned to stay alive.

Temeke and Santiago are pushed to the limit in the second book of this thrilling, fast-paced series set in New Mexico.

An electrifying new edition to the Stibbe arsenal, Night Eyes confronts the relationship between husband and wife, father and son, detective and villain. Temeke comes to understand that he is dealing with a perpetrator who will put him to the test, both professionally and personally and, at the same time, battle the darkest demons in himself. Not since Marklund’s Annika Bengtzon series, has there been a novel with as much insight into spiritual warfare. Fast-moving, riveting reading which ranks with the best thrillers out there. ~ Noble Lizard Publishing.

CMT Stibbe 5
To find out more about Claire’s books, visit her website here

Also by Claire Stibbe

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Claire is also a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, New Mexico Book Co-op and the Southwest Writers Association.

Claire M.T. Stibbe


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Interview with Dakota Willink   1 comment


Today’s interview is with Dakota Willink. Welcome to the blog. Welcome to the blog, Dakota. Tell us something about yourself.

Dakota WillinkI am a self-employed writer and editor, and the author of Heart of Stone, a contemporary romance novel. I reside in the Buffalo, NY area. I wasn’t always a writer, but have a degree in business and worked in retail sales for many years. Over time, I wasn’t happy with my career choice. I had always dreamed of writing a book, but never believed that “real” people could do it. In 2013, I finally gathered enough courage to turn my dreams into a reality and began to put words on paper. Eventually, I began to describe my life as a book. Everything I saw or heard throughout the day intertwined with my imagination for the creation of future writings. Fortunately for me, my husband pays the bills. Writing is now my official career, but there isn’t a lot of money in it when you first start out.


No, there isn’t. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

I always wanted to write, but considered writing a pipedream until a few years ago. I met someone locally who wrote and published a couple of novels. She was a wife and mother of three – and just as busy as I was. It was then that I realized that I needed to stop making excuses and just do it. So I did. When my husband read what I had been working on, he became my biggest fan and encouraged me to quit my job to focus solely on finishing Heart of Stone. I published the novel in December of 2015.


Tell us about your writing process.

I am someone that just writes whatever comes to mind. I once tried outlining the framework for my book, but found that it gets in the way of the creative process. I’m the type of person that will just think of an idea, and then let the words flow. I never let the lack of a computer at my fingertips get in the way, and I can often be caught dictating ideas to Siri when I’m driving and my imagination strikes.


Ah, so you’re a pantser. From one pantser to another … there’s nothing wrong with it. What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

My favourite thing to write about is romance, although I’d like to try my hand at fantasy or paranormal one day.

As for reading, the last time I stayed up all night reading a book was when the last Harry Potter book was released – I am a huge fan. As for other books, I read so many genres and have quite a few favorite authors. Sylvia Day, Ken Follett, Emma Campion, Steven Saylor, Dan Brown, and Shayla Black are amongst them.


What are you passionate about?
That’s a long list…I’m passionate about a lot of things – politics, reading, writing, the importance health & fitness, animal rights. But my biggest passion is my family. I’ve been married for 16 years to a wonderful man and we have two amazing teenagers. Everything I do is for them.


What is something you cannot live without?
Coffee…I swear, since the release of Heart of Stone, it’s been my lifeline.


When you are not writing, what do you do?
As a mom of two very busy teenagers, I spend a lot time driving them to and from their various activities. I try to spend as much time with my family as I can. In the busy world that we live in, sometimes I feel like we don’t get enough of that. However, we own a boat and summer is right around the corner – I’m looking forward to making up some lost family time on the water.


Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?
I get inspiration from everywhere, but especially in music. I’m a lover of music, and appreciate the power and stimulating effect it can have on the brain. I often use lyrics and melodies to help me through bouts of writer’s block. At the end of my novel, you can find an author’s note that recognizes and thanks the artists that gave me inspiration.
What sort of research do you do for your novels?
I’ve had to do a lot of research, and not only online. I’ve actually traveled to complete some of my research. The setting for Heart of Stone is New York City, and I took a trip there at Christmas time in 2014. I walked the streets for hours on end, trying to find the perfect location for Krystina’s apartment and Alexander’s Penthouse. I researched real-estate prices, took note of the smells in the air, and absorbed every detail about Washington Square Park. I fell in love with NY at Christmas time while I was there, and plan to incorporate the holiday season in the third book of The Stone Series.


If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

I write romance, so I tried to keep the overall tone appropriate for my audience. I strived to ensure that the narrative and conversations were clean and concise so that it was an easy read. In Heart of Stone, the reader can expect a mix of humor, drama, romance, and sexual angst.


Do you have a special place where you write?
It varies on my mood. Sometimes I write in my office, other times I write under a blanket on the couch. During the summer months, I like to sit on the front porch with my laptop.

Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

Heart of Stone (The Stone Series Book 1)I think I am more character driven. I like to be able to feel what the characters are feeling – emotion has a lot of power in a story.


I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

Of course I’d bring a bunch of books – probably a mix between Colleen Hoover and Ken Follet. I’d also bring hiking boots and a camera. I’ve never been to Alaska, but I can only imagine the breathtaking images that I’d be able to capture.


So tell us about your book.

Heart of Stone went through many stages. I had initially written it from the heroine’s point of view only, and I added the hero’s viewpoint in later. Below is a synopsis of the story. However, this isn’t the synopsis that is written on the back of the book – this one has more detail and is usually reserved for publishers. This is the first time that I’m giving it out publically. I hope you enjoy!

Krystina Cole was a girl on a mission. As a recent college graduate, she was looking to establish a solid career in New York City. She had big dreams and aspirations, but the competition for marketing jobs in the city was fierce. After six months of relentless searching, she needed to take a break. Carving out a few hours of self-indulgence, Krystina planned to simply enjoy a cup of coffee and a book amidst the changing foliage of a beautiful autumn day. However, fate had another idea in mind for her – one that would upend the independent lifestyle that she worked so hard to maintain.

Alexander Stone, the New York real-estate tycoon, was amongst the wealthiest and most successful in the city. As the Chief Executive Officer of Stone Enterprise, a multi-billion dollar corporation that he built from the ground up, he was an expert on getting what he wanted. He understood the value of finesse, and the importance of patience and diligence to achieve the desired result. He relied on his naturally sharp instincts to guide him through life, and it had never failed him.

But a chance run in with Krystina Cole quickly turned his world upside down. Her quick wit and firecracker attitude was the complete opposite of what he wanted in a woman, and his trusted instincts betrayed him at every turn. Even though he knows that he shouldn’t, Alexander can’t help but to want her. Krystina was like the forbidden fruit, immune to his charms and wealth, fighting his advances every step of the way. She went against his rules and everything that he valued – control and discretion holding the upmost importance.
Unable to control her, he knew that she was a risk. But that only served to make her that much more appealing. She unknowingly changed everything that he had ever known about dominance and desire. Intrigued, he cannot help but begin the relentless pursuit to gain her affection, something that he has never once had to do before with a woman. He only knew that he had to possess this one, regardless of the consequences, so he made her an offer that she couldn’t refuse.

Krystina saw the way that Alexander looked at her. She was able to see the dark promises hidden in the depths of his lethally stunning blue eyes. She wanted him. Desperately. And the realization of that fact was a tough pill for her to swallow. But the shadows of her past haunted her, making her terrified to explore possibilities that she could never before have imagined. She was flawed and damaged, relying on carefully built walls to protect her from the scars of her past. Yet somehow, Alexander Stone had the ability to easily crack through them. He was beautifully dangerous, a white-hot flame that she was drawn to and couldn’t resist.

She was curious about his clandestine world and all that it entailed, but her subconscious was telling her to run. She knew better than to give in, for caving to Alexander would mean giving up everything that she had worked so hard to overcome. Nevertheless, making the decision to deny him was a difficult one. Not only did he stir up feelings and emotions that she had longed buried, but he also offered her the job opportunity of a lifetime. Refusing him physically and emotionally might protect her heart, but she risked losing so much more in the process.

Taking a chance, Krystina begins to explore her attraction to Alexander. It’s an arduous struggle, as Alexander does everything he can do to control her, while she does everything to thwart him. But through it all, neither one can deny the carnal need that burns between them. With only one look, the air in the room around them seemed to sizzle, like the wick of a time bomb waiting to go off.

However, Krystina and Alexander are clinging to the secrets of their pasts, and neither of them is willing to compromise. Krystina’s hardened heart makes emotional surrender a hard limit. But for Alexander, revealing his past could have devastating results.
As Alexander pulls Krystina further into his provocative world, they begin to realize exactly how different they are and trust becomes more important than ever before. Entangled by their secrets, they try to defy the odds. Determined to make their newfound relationship work, Krystina lets go of her heartbreaking past and bares her soul, only to be disappointed when Alexander still desperately clings to his.

In an attempt at compromise, Alexander gives Krystina a front row seat to his alternative lifestyle by taking her to a private BDSM nightclub. She is exposed to a dark underworld that is beyond her wildest imagination.

She finally begins to understand what it means to truly submit – full surrender, complete abandonment, and irrevocable trust. Conflicted over whether or not she could give Alexander her absolute submission, she tries to separate her curiosity and desire from the bizarre situation before her. Until suddenly, Krystina’s past and present unexpectedly collide with the arrival of her long ago boyfriend, the reason behind her heart of stone. Now the lines are blurred. Should she allow her past to control her future? Or should she let her passion for Alexander take her beyond her limits to the sharpest edge of obsession?


Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?
It’s not so much a message, but more a lifestyle accuracy. So often I read books that portray the wrong idea about what BDSM is, giving so many woman false notions. That can be a let down for those expecting something that isn’t, not to mention potentially dangerous. BDSM is not supposed to be abuse, and while my book only touches on the mild aspects of the lifestyle, I did a ton of research to make sure that I depicted it correctly.
What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?
I want them to feel satisfied that reading my book was time well spent. I also hope that they can connect with the characters as much as I did.
What influenced your decision to self-publish?
It just seemed the easiest way to go, especially because I had no idea where to start with publishing houses. However, since the release of my book, I learned a lot. I’ve since sent queries to various publishing houses and have received responses from a few that are interested in picking up my title. Now, I just need to decide where I’m going in the future.


There are people believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

It’s so easy to self-publish now, that I think some “brick and mortar” publishers will struggle to survive. However, for the reader, buying a book written by an unknown self-published author can have risks because just about anyone can publish today. It becomes a crap shoot – you could end up buying a mismatched story with poor editing, or you could land your new favorite author. Because of this, I don’t think traditional publishing will ever go away. Too many people shy away from Indie authors, thinking that only traditionally published authors are worth reading. I personally don’t choose a book that way – I am a review reader. That’s why it’s so important for readers to write them.
I agree totally about the reviews. What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishng?
The author has total control.


Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?
We miss out on promotion, exposure, and time. Publishing houses give all of that to their authors – they promote, they know how to get books in front of the right reviewers, and they give the author time to simply write the next book. Independent authors have to do all of their own promotions (which can be costly), and they have to sort through endless websites to find reviewers. It’s very hard work. At the end of the day, there is little time left to write.


Who designed your book cover/s?

I designed my own cover.
Do you belong to a writer’s cooperative? Describe your experience with that.

I am an associate member of Romance Writers of America. So far, it’s been good, as their resources are endless and everyone is willing to help each other out.
Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true-life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

The book is completely fictional, with the exception of a few minor tidbits that I pulled from my personal experience. In Heart of Stone, Alexander mentions stumbling across a man playing a guitar in Venice. That actually happened my husband and me in Venice. We listened to the musician play for hours and purchased his CD’s. In addition, La Biga is a very real place in Rome, Italy. It’s located near the Roman Colosseum, and a favorite stop for my family when we travel there.


Where can readers find you and your book?

Website –

Email –

Heart of Stone on Amazon

Cover Design   5 comments

So I’m working on the cover for Objects in View, the second book in Transformation Project. Someday, maybe, I’ll be able to afford a cover designer, but for now, I can’t and I am not without skills in this department, so why not use them?

I am not without bravery when I create my covers. I could go with a generic faded background where you can’t tell what the book might be about, but I don’t. I’ve always liked books that gave me a hint of what is inside the cover. Books don’t just speak with words. The way they are designed communicates so much.

I honestly think a lot of authors and publishers miss the point that the cover is a teaser. You want folks to see the cover and say “Hey, I want to read this book.”

The trend in book covers these days is to stick a face somewhere against an out-of-focus background with a nice bold title. There’s a similarity to many that doesn’t tell me much. I like a book cover that presents a puzzle, that makes the reader think.


You clearly don’t want to overdo this and confuse the reader, but you want the cover to create questions that the reader would now like to have answered. At the least, there should be something from the book on the cover. Hence why I added the cover images of other authors to this blog post.

You can buy cover images from websites and I’m not denigrating these. They’ve opened up a world of decent covers for indie authors who are not artists or who don’t know any artists or who can’t afford more expensive cover art. Just be aware that generic covers may lack what you want most from a cover, the “free” marketing potential of a cover that says “Hey, there’s something good beneath this cover. Come check it out.”

So, let me critique the covers I’m featuring here. Katharine Kerr’s Deverry Cycle had smack-awesome covers after the first two books were published. The scene from the cover actually occurs in the book, by the way. That’s Rhodry and Yren sheltering in a broken dun. More, though, if you had never read one of Kerr’s books, you might be curious about the clothes these men are wearing and what those strange ruins are behind them. They’re in intense conversation about something. What? And why the heck do the horses still carry their burdens when the men are resting by a campfire?

fantasy_coverThe Way of Kings has less detail, but it makes it really clear that there will be epic battles in this book and probably involve very challenging landscape — which the book has. And the use of color definitely catches your eye even in a thumbnail. Brandson Sanderson’s name dominates the cover, and would eclipse the title if the title weren’t in red. That’s fine … for Brandon Sanderson who is just coming off finishing the Wheel of Time series. He’s an A-list fantasy writer. As an indie author, my name has no marketing value. The title is far more important and it should take center stage.

Now, let’s use an example here. I have published two epic fantasies. Would this generic cover be appropriate for either one of them?  I would argue “no”. The cover says to me that there will be a weak female with a fencing sword being victimized in this novel and maybe it’s going to rain and … is that a campfire near her butt? None of that occurs in The Willow Branch or Mirklin Wood. So why would I elect to put this cover from The Book Cover Designer website on my book?

Willow Branch Blue White Recreation CoverI wouldn’t. This is not a complaint against The Book Cover Designer website. They have some cool covers advertised and a few I actually would buy if I needed a cover and couldn’t create one of my own. I can go out and buy my own images and put them together in a collage that will hint at what is inside the book. So why wouldn’t I do that since I actually have those skills?

My point in this article is not to discourage indie authors from using cover designers, but to point out that we don’t need to be constrained by rules when we are indies. The “authors should never design their own covers” rule should be grouped with the “self-publishing is only for bad books” thought. The point of self-publishing is to put out a quality product. If you can’t do that with the skills you have, hire the skills you need. If you can … that leaves you with more money to spend on some other facet of book publishing where you need help.

Don’t be discouraged by rules that other people put on you. It’s okay to get advice, but ultimately, remember that its your name that ends up on the front of the book.

Interview with DG Driver   1 comment

Today’s interview is with D. G. Driver. Welcome to the blog, Donna. Tell us something about yourself. 



I grew up in Southern California, but I’ve lived near Nashville, TN for 13 years now. I miss the ocean every day. During the day I am the lead infant teacher at a Child Development Center in Nashville that helps both typically developing and special needs children. I am married with two grown step-daughters and a daughter of my own in high school. We are all performers. I once was a professional actress/singer, but now I enjoy doing community theatre musicals with my husband (and sometimes my kids). I’ve been cutting back to only one show a year lately so I can devote more time to my writing. I primarily write YA and Middle Grade fiction, but I have a story in an adult romance anthology coming out soon. I enjoyed writing that so much that I’m thinking of writing a full-length romance soon.


Anthologies are great for getting us to stretch our writer wings. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

This isn’t a light on or off question for me. I wrote purely as a hobby through school, and I even slowly worked my way through penning a horror novel while in college. I started submitting some stuff after I graduated from college, but I didn’t seriously consider writing as a career choice until after I sold my first story and had my first children’s play produced a couple years later. Slowly I phased out my acting pursuits and began focusing on writing instead.


Driver PassingNotesTell us about your writing process.

I like to plot out my novels in chunky outlines before I begin. Each paragraph of outline is what essentially will go into each chapter. As I write, the story often ventures away from this outline, and I have to readjust it as I go. As far as how I approach my writing time? Well, I squeeze it in when I can. Usually the bulk of my writing is done on the weekends.


What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I am a plot girl. I love books with lots of action and adventure in them. Quiet books about interesting people don’t grab me as much. I read a ton of YA, because that’s what I write. My favorite books right now are The Raven Boys series by Maggie Steifvader and all of the books by Sharon Cameron. I also love everything Libba Bray writes.


What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about special education and arts education (particularly theatre and music). I am also passionate about keeping the environment clean and healthy, this is a theme imbedded in my Juniper Sawfeather book series.


Driver CryforseaWhen you are not writing, what do you do?

I watch a tremendous amount of TV. I didn’t when I was younger, but the invention of the DVR has changed my life. I only watch TV, though, in the evenings with my husband (sometimes the girls, if they’re interested). I’m partial to science fiction and fantasy shows, but I’m equally in love with classic films. Every day I spend a dedicated amount of time to my social media pages. I’m busiest on Instagram, Twitter, and my Facebook page. Once or twice a year I’ll get involved in a community theatre musical. I love doing them, but they are very time-consuming. There are two back-to-back at a local theatre this year that I want to be in – badly – but I probably will have to choose between them.


Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

I co-wrote a series of biographies on classical composers and a nonfiction book about The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. These were all published by Morgan Reynolds Publishers between 2005-2008 (written as Donna Getzinger). They were my first opportunities to work with an editor that did more than proof-reading, and the experience was intense. I learned a ton about research and revision doing these books. It changed my ability level and gave me a lot of confidence. While I’m not pursuing any non-fiction at the moment, I definitely use what I learned from that experience toward what I’m writing now.


Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

I get some of my ideas from snippets on the news or documentaries. Sometimes they come from my own experiences. Passing Notes, for example, came out of watching one of my step-daughters communicate with her then boyfriend only through texting. I thought it was terribly un-romantic. Around the same time, cursive writing was being cut from a lot of elementary school curriculum (learned from the news). I combined those things to create that story.

My short story in Second Chance for Love was born out of a memory of when I was a bit younger and I got stopped for speeding. I remember crying, pitifully, because I knew I’d be late for work. I turned that around to wonder what a cop feels like when he stops people like me.


Driver WhisperWoodsFRNTIf someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

I write about teenagers in realistic settings who encounter magic and fantasy and have to figure out what to do now that everything they know about what’s “real” has changed.


Do you have a special place where you write?

I wouldn’t call it special. I do have my own office in my house. It is very small and cluttered, but it is mine.


Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

I am definitely a plot driven writer. I like things to happen in stories, so I always create my plot first. My characters’ choices are decided by what is happening to them.


Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

I’m a little of both, as I mentioned above. My outlines are not super specific, just chunks of “what happens next” to force me along a road. When that little paragraph turns into a 15-25 page chapter, though, I find lots of things change, and my planned plot is constantly evolving.


What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

I prefer first person past tense. Funny enough, a lot of my first drafts are in 3rd person, and when I revise them, I move them to first person. I like the immediacy of it. My novella “A Ticket to Her Heart” in the upcoming romance short story collection Second Chance for Love (Satin Romance, April 2016) is the first time I’ve written in first person, present tense. It’s a little odd to write like that, I found, because I can’t ever refer to something as a memory. It’s all happening right then.


I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

I think I’d hike a lot. I used to hike often, but now I’m too busy. I’d bring notebooks and write by hand outdoors. I like doing that sometimes too. I would in fact bring books – lots of them. They’d be books I hadn’t read yet, because I don’t often re-read books. I might pick some by my favorite authors to guarantee they’d be enjoyable.

Driver Discovermagicflier

Talk about your books individually.

Cry of the Sea is the first book in my Juniper Sawfeather series. In this book, Juniper, teen daughter of environmental activists, discovers real mermaids washed up on the beach during an oil spill. In her efforts to save them, she finds herself in the middle of a struggle between her parents, the media, the kids at school, a marine biologist (and his handsome young intern), and the oil company over the fate of the mermaids. Can she save them from being exploited? Or killed?


Whisper of the Woods is the 2nd installment of the Juniper Sawfeather series. Her parents have moved on to protest the logging of old growth trees. Juniper becomes obsessed with one giant tree, and it seems the tree is obsessed with her. Soon she finds herself trapped 150 feet up in its branches, and the ancient tree spirit living inside it doesn’t seem to be interested in letting her go or allow anyone to save her. Will her feet ever touch the ground again?


Passing Notes is a sweet YA romance novella about a ghost that teaches Mark to write a perfect love letter in order to impress the girl he adores. If he follows the ghost’s advice, will he win Bethany’s heart? A heart-warming story about love and family.


Driver 2ndChanceLove_FINALSecond Chance for Love is a brand new anthology of sweet romance stories about single parents finding new love. This is a not a YA book, although my story “Ticket to Her Heart” does feature a prominent teen character. My story is about a traffic cop (who is a single father of a teen) who falls for a woman he has ticketed for speeding. With his daughter’s help, he connects with her again, but he can’t tell her he’s the cop he gave her the ticket or it’ll ruin everything. This book is being released by Satin Romance in April, 2016.



Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

No, it wasn’t. For both of my Juniper Sawfeather books and my novella Passing Notes, reviewers are always pointing out the important underlying themes of environment or communication. I did put those in there, but the books are not intended to be message books. When I initially wrote Cry of the Sea, I was writing an action-packed YA fantasy novel.  Passing Notes was meant to be a charming romance that might bring out some tears toward the end.  The environment and written communication are important in these books, but what I really want young readers to take away that Juniper is a strong girl who cares about doing the right thing, and Mark is a good-hearted guy learning how to express himself.


What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I’d like readers to come away from my books with a desire for action. I’d like them to remember to throw away their trash when they’re at the beach or in the woods. I’d like them to make an effort to write a lovely note to a friend or boyfriend/girlfriend to share how much they care.



Where can interested readers find you and your books? 

My website:

My publisher:


Amazon Kindle:

Cry of the Sea –

Whisper of the Woods

 Passing Notes




Cry of the Sea

Whisper of the Woods

Passing Notes



Lulu (for print)

Cry of the Sea

Whisper of the Woods


Second Chance for Love (no buy links yet, just the publisher link)

or find updates at


Interview with Rebecca Lombardo   3 comments

Today’s interview is with author Rebecca Lombardo. Welcome to the blog, Bekka. Tell us something about yourself. (Where are you from, what do you do to pay the bills, significant relationships, as little or as much as you want).

Lombardo Author PicI am from Michigan, I’ve lived here my whole life.  I’m very happily married to an amazing man.  This August it will be 15 years.  I come from a large family.  We don’t have kids, but we do have 5 cats that we rescued. We adore them.


At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve had an idea that I wanted to be a writer since third grade.  I can recall writing a story, with my own illustrations, all in crayon.  It was about a little American Indian girl named White Cloud that lost her feather.  It just felt right to me, so that was my ultimate goal for most of my life.


Tell us about your writing process.

I don’t actually have a set writing process that I utilize every time I write.  It tends to vary.  Being bipolar, I have to take what I can get.  There are times when I experience months of writer’s block and occasionally months of wanting to write every day. The wheels are constantly turning inside my head.  If I get an idea, and I can come up with at least 2 sentences to back up the concept, I will try to develop it.  However, it doesn’t always work.


Lombardo Author Event.jpgWhat is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

My favorite genre to write is obviously memoir.  I like being able to write from personal experience.  I also enjoy reading memoirs and biographies.  I enjoy true crime, some historical books, and I have a few select chick-lit authors that I enjoy reading.


What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about mental health and the stigma that surrounds mental illness.  I’m passionate about animal cruelty, and photography.  I’m also extremely focused on raising awareness on the benefits of non GMO food.


What is something you cannot live without?

I couldn’t live without my husband and my cats for sure, but I love movies and TV so much, I don’t know what I would do without the ability to escape for a little while.


When you are not writing, what do you do?

When I’m not writing, I am usually most often promoting my book. As I stated, I do love photography and recently got a new camera as a gift, so I will get out and do that whenever I can. I spend a lot of time with my husband, we’re joined at the hip.  Frankly, I spend quite a bit of time managing my mental illness symptoms and trying to raise awareness.


Lombardo Not Your JourneyHave you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

I’ve only written the one book so far, and if anyone were to ask me about it, I would tell them this: it’s a real, raw, and heartbreaking account of a very dark time in my life, and I how I made it back. I don’t hold anything back about what I’ve been through.  It’s important that people understand what mental illness is truly like.


If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

Life filled with love, despite their condition.


Do you have a special place where you write?

When I’m writing, it’s almost 100% of the time on my laptop at my desk in our bedroom. Red is my favorite color, and our bedroom is red, my laptop is red…it all gives me a somewhat comforting feeling.


What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

I prefer to write from my own point of view at this point.  I don’t know if that will change in the future.  I don’t do a lot of research or focus a lot on creating specific storylines, because I find that just allowing it to flow organically gives it a realistic quality that people enjoy.


I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

If I’m stuck in a remote cabin in Alaska for a month, I think I would spend a lot of time just trying to be in the present, and not dwelling on the issues from the past. I would definitely try to center myself and stop worrying all the time.  I would for sure want my camera, I think that would be amazing. As far as books, I would probably take Memoirs of a Geisha and/or The Joy Luck Club. Leah Remini’s memoir, Troublemaker is fascinating, and I could read that a million times. I would probably also take some books by Jane Green and Jennifer Weiner, they’re two of my favorites. Most of all, I would relax and enjoy some stress-free time away from social media and the world.


Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

It was my intention that my memoir deliver a message. I just wanted people that are dealing with the same type of issues that I am to know that they are not alone.  My book is a cautionary tale of what didn’t work in my life with mental illness.  I also wanted to make sure that the loved ones of the people dealing with these issues could get a grasp on just what their family member is going through.


What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I would want someone that read my book to know that they’re not alone … that things can get better if they put some work into the process. I want them to learn from my story what NOT to do, and most importantly I would like them to learn that it is possible to lead a happy and productive.


How do readers find you?

Interview with Lucinda E. Clarke   1 comment

LClarke Author PhotoToday’s interview is with Lucinda E. Clarke, a friend from the Booktrap, and quite the adventuress. Tell us something about yourself, Lucinda. 

Starting with basics, I was conceived and born in Dublin, Ireland (I don’t remember the conception part too well), then taken to England. By the time I got married I had spent years and years in the classroom, then trained to spend the rest of my life in the classroom, so I was not ready for the big, bad world.

That is so true for all of us.School is definitely not real life.

After first wedding, I tried crofting in Scotland (disaster we couldn’t get a spade through the permafrost) – bred small animals for pet shops (disaster, they all died) –  bred dogs (disaster, one took off and killed chickens).

So we took off for Kenya (disaster, husband walked off the job and we were almost stranded). On to Libya (disaster, this time we were thrown out of the country altogether), then Botswana (disaster, husband got fired, and I ran the worst riding school in the world). Then South Africa (finally success!!!) After slogging for a while in the classroom (this time I was fired) I began to write for radio and TV. Eventually I had my own video production company.

LClarke EggshellsWhat was the first story you wrote and how old were you?

You want me to remember that far back? I think it was when I was about 6 and it was written on little scraps of paper and I was so proud of it until my mother sneered at it. I do remember being an avid reader of Enid Blyton and thinking this doesn’t look too difficult, I could do this! (I was a precocious brat).

What are you passionate about?

My writing. Injustices against women. Cutting down trees. Population control.

What can you not live without?

In no particular order – my laptop, my iPad and my iPhone, a good internet connection and I better add my husband in there as well. Peace and quiet to write, beauty around me, that is vital too.

LClarke TLPYou lived in South Africa, have met Nelson Mandela, (scary) had a huge career in broadcast journalism (thank you). Tell us about that.

I am passionate about Africa and her people, but I just wish they would go the mentorship route and stop worrying about skin colour. In my books Truth, Lies and Propaganda and More Truth, Lies and Propaganda I tried to point out that mindsets and tribalism and nepotism are a factor, not race. I want to cry when I see how things are developing now in South Africa, everyone is adversely affected, all races and all people, except for the elite few who are exploiting those who are weaker.

Tell us about Walking Over Eggshells.

Originally I wrote this as a long, long letter to my children, and it stayed in manuscript form for several years. Then after the bombardment from the media about sexual abuse and how terrible it was, I began to get angry. Sure, that is horrific, but emotional abuse is more insidious. It does not stop at maturity, it does not stop if you move away, it goes on relentlessly, even after death. It’s difficult to pinpoint, almost impossible to explain and a nightmare to prove. It robs you of your self worth, your self confidence and your relationships with everyone you meet.

Then one day I decided to publish, in the hope that it might help even a few people who had had the same experiences. The emails I’ve received have been amazing and I have no regrets about sharing my story with the world (well a few people anyway!)LClarke More TLP

But it’s not a doom and gloom book, there is lots of humour there, and I think, an easy read.

Tell us about Amie.

Amie is my first real attempt at a full length novel. Most of my documentaries I turned into short, funny stories as they were aimed at educating and I feel this is best done through humour.

It was much harder than the autobiographies as I had to ‘make stuff up’ and I had to remember who was where and how they would behave in character. I’ve written stage plays, so I had a grounding in that format, but a 108,000-word book was much, much trickier. I just sit down at the lap top and write. I only have a basic storyline in my head and the characters take over and then I have to go back and mop up afterwards in case they made mistakes or contradicted themselves. It’s nothing to do with me, I blame them every time, I’m just on the scene to write down what they tell me.

LClarke AmieOh, I so represent that!

I have just finished the second Amie book – Amie and the African Child – which I hope to publish in August if not sooner.

I have a love / hate relationship with Amie, but she has become more feisty and so I like her a little better now.

I love feisty female characters. Tell us about Truth, Lies and Propaganda 1 and 2. Having been a journalist, I find that most of my former colleagues don’t see themselves as propagandists, but I know they are. So talk about that some.

These two books follow my writing career from the beginning to when I left South Africa. I had dreamed of writing for a living ever since I could remember, but was told to ‘get a proper job’ (hence the teaching).

It’s almost impossible not to play the propaganda game. Every newspaper has an agenda or supports one political party or another, or the views of the proprietor. If you are paid to write, then you write what the client wants, and I had my share of the clients from hell! You soon learn to take criticism (the customer / client is always right even when they are wrong), hone your tact and diplomacy and I guess lifting the lid on the few blatant examples in the books, I was getting my revenge!

Sure, you can starve in a garret and hold fast to your principles, but if you want the luxuries in life, such as food, a roof and clothes to wear, then you toe the line. I worked with some amazing people and many of the stories I reported and filmed were true to life, but of course it is the ones which tell lies, which tell the funny stories.

I feel very privileged to have been welcomed into rural huts, township shacks, Chief’s councils, had my fortune told by a witch doctor, visited AIDS patients, there are just too many incidents to mention here. I believe I saw Africa as few others have. I’d ask my crew to take care of me as I was probably the only white person for miles in any direction. I have to read my books to remember it all.

Every incident in both books really happened without exaggeration.

What are your literary plans for the future?

This is going to sound so pompous, but you asked? OK, so I’m not going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, they don’t go for the kind of books I write. One of my heroines is Dorothy Parker and I would be in my seventh heaven (or the other place) if any of my phrases or sayings were to be printed in a book of quotations, that would be great!

Of course I’d love to be on all the bestseller lists, and write the screen play from one of my books. On a more practical level, I’m hoping they will put up a shelf for me in the local old folks home, so I can gaze at my books when I can no longer get out of bed. I’m almost up to 5 now and I plan to write a whole lot more.

Anything else you would like to say.

Since I have been a lecturer in script-writing, I can’t help be honest, so if anyone asks me for a review, or comments they will always get the truth. I still have grave doubts about my own writing, I’ve always been the same and never believed all the awards even when I walked up to collect them. The only advice I can give any new writers is to sit down and write, do it and then get ready to change it again and again until it is right. It’s worth it.

I am happy to be self published, and I’ve been approached by a publisher and refused. It’s much harder on your own, but more rewarding. I’ve been published by two of the Big 5 way back in the 80’s and so far (I could be bribed) I’m happy to continue being self employed.

There are two amazing moments in life – when you hold your baby in your arms and when you hold your first book in your hands.

Links, websites, cover art, author pic, etc.

Walking over Eggshells

Amie an African Adventure

Truth, Lies and Propaganda

More Truth, Lies and Propaganda

Blog link

Web page


twitter name   @LucindaEClarke


Facebook             My page


 Walking over Eggshells page

Amie page   Amy page

Further links for Walking over Eggshells

Barnes & Noble

Apple itunes




iTunes store

amazon author page Lucinda…/B00FDW…/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3…

We Should Be Dancing   5 comments

What sort of music was I listening to in high school?

You want to know that right?

Welcome to the Blog Hop. If you want to join, here’s the link. Before we get started, have you checked out Traci Wooden-Carlisle’s blog. I’m think she was listening to some really hot music in high school. And, while you’re at it, check out her books, because … you know, we author types like that sort of attention.

I grew up in the 1970s, which was a great decade for music. The drug fueled 60s were fading and music wasn’t just screaming electric guitars anymore. Musicianship and lyrics were back. I also grew up in a town with limited radio stations. We had five — two didn’t count. The religious station played old-timey gospel music (don’t get me wrong, I love Christian music, but ugh) and the university station was trying to convince us to love classical and liberal talk radio. The other three stations played a wide variety of music in keeping with the idea that they were the only game in town and there was a lot of music out there. I actually wish we would return to an era when when radio stations were not silos to certain genres of music.

Yeah, there was disco, which despite its shortcomings, was a great sound to dance to, but there were also some great rock bands that were born in the 1970s.

Disco gave us Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” — which was anything but a disco song, ABBA gave us “Dancing Queen” and anything coming out of Saturday Night Fever would get your feet moving.

If you were into country there were lots to choose from This was the heyday of Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty, Glenn Campbell, and Johnny Cash. Kenny Rogers was in his country phase and Dolly Pardon’s “Jolene” staged a wonderful crossover.

Because I became a Christian in this era, I have to say there were a few good Christian bands out there that should get a nod. We had to listen to bootleg tapes because our local religious radio thought they were devil worshippers, but a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do. Larry Norman may not have been a great musician, but he had the gall to record “Upon This Rock” (technically 1969) and push the issue of making Christian music relevant to the generation surrounding it. His “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” played a big hand in my letting go and letting God. Randy Stonehill, Mylon LeFebre, Sweet Comfort Band and Petra reached out to a generation of Christian teens who had had about all we could take of the whiney blue-grassy “gospel” of the day, but also wanted an occasional break from the themes of secular lyrics. (NOTE: My daughter is a professional bluegrass musician today; I do not hate her music and believe that the reason “gospel” music in the 1970s was so bad was that Christian musicians were being oppressed by Pharisees of their day).

Obviously, I didn’t limit my listening spectrum per some man-made “spiritual” rule, although I still like lyrics that uplift.

Not to forget drugs entirely, Pink Floyd reminded us of the lifestyle of the average rockster with “Comfortably Numb” from their tour de force album The Wall, which in the 80s became a MTV-inspired movie. I can never shake that image of the guy floating in the pool with the blood flowing from his wrists.

I actually liked PF, but I personally preferred my bands a little less suicidal.

The Beatles released their last album with “The Long and Winding Road” and “Let it Be” to kick off a decade and then Paul McCartney starting working on making us forget the Beatles with Wings and “Band on the Run” while Elton John was pumping out soft rock gems like “Tiny Dancer” and “Rocket Man.” There were the Carpenters, Diana Ross, Gloria Gaynor, Neil Diamond, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin (Me and Bobby McGee) and James Taylor (Fire and Rain, Shower the People), Santana, Atlanta Rhythm Section– all great entertainers.

Don McLean (American Pie, Vincent), Kansas (Dust in the Wind, Carry On Wayward Son), Terry Jacks (Seasons in the Sun), Harry Chapin (Cats Cradle), Simon & Garfunkle (Cecilia, El Condor Pasa, Sound of Silence), Dan Fogelberg (Leader of the Band, Run for the Roses) and John Denver made us appreciate lyrics and Jim Croce and Ray Stevens injected humor into music. Gordon Lightfoot was incredible (Sundown, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald)..

Stevie Wonder gave us “Superstition” and Lou Reed recorded “Walk on the Wild Side”. Gladys Knight and the Pips recorded “Midnight Train to Georgia” (I’d rather live in his world than live without him in mine). Rod Stewart proved that a raspy voice and a mandolin could indeed make beautiful music with “Maggie”. Bob Dylan was back with the album Blood on the Tracks and “Tangled Up in Blue”.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band came out with “Born to Run”, “Thunder Road” and “Lost in the Flood” and Springsteen found time to write the visceral love song “Because the Night” for Patti Smith. Those few of us who knew he existed back then knew he was headed for greatness.

Fleetwood Mac had “Go Your Own Way”, “You Make Loving Fun” and “Sara”, but they’d actually be more of an 80s group whose 70s songs would become popular later.

The Eagles are often thought of as an 80s band because they got their big play on radio stations then, but in reality they made most of their albums in the 1970s and they probably go down as my favorite band of the era because of songs like “Take It Ease”, “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, “Tequila Sunrise”, and “Life in the Fast Lane”. The Eagles spawned a couple of  really phenomenal solo careers, plus Timothy B. Schmidt is in the background of almost every good album produced in the 1980s. Nothing made me happier than when they ended their 14-year vacation with the album When Hell Freezes Over and songs like “Get Over It and “Love Will Keep Us Alive.” I know, not 1970s songs, but worth the mention.

Last but not least, although she technically was unknown while I was in high school, Pat Benatar released her first hit single “Heartbreaker” the summer I graduated.

I gotta say that any era of music you can dance to has got my vote and the 70s — well …, there’s a reason rappers take pieces of 70s B-side songs and cover them as rap songs. It was a phenomenal era for music and one I don’t expect to see again anytime in my lifetime.
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Posted September 15, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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