Interview with Daredevil, Fantasy & Picture Book Author Ken Curtis

Ken Curtis works away at his day job in a medical laboratory and pretends to be an adult. He grew up in the desert of Arizona but now lives in the mountains of Utah. He has an amazing and supportive wife plus four precocious children who serve as his inspiration. He’s always seeking adventure: skiing in the winter, rock climbing in the summer, and pretty much any other fun and challenging outdoor activity.

Post Climb Selfie 29th street crag

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?

Since I was a child, I have dabbled in writing. I was always coming up with silly poems, songs, short stories, and the occasional attempt at a screenplay. Most of this was for my own amusement or to give to someone else. It wasn’t until I became a father that I decided that I wanted to take writing more seriously and really put together something long lasting, something to have more of a wide reach. I wanted my daughter, who is an avid reader, to be able to pick up something I wrote and think, ‘My Dad wrote this, I can do this too!’

I had a pretty serious rock climbing accident about 5 years ago that limited my ability to do much for a few weeks while I recuperated. Not that I recommend falling off a cliff or any other near death experience, but that downtime really jumpstarted my journey on being a writer as I finally had the time to bust some things out and think ‘Hey maybe I CAN do this writing thing.’

Can you tell us a little about what kind of book(s) you’ve written so far?

I have written a couple picture books that are my most polished MS’s. I also have written an epic fantasy that is mostly finished and is in the revision stage. I have a few other WIP’s that are slugging along slowly. Ridiculously slow. Like dial-up internet slow.

What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?

I am an eclectic writer. At first, I thought I should try and focus on one genre and pursue it full speed. I realized though, that I wasn’t happy this way. Ultimately I write for me and if I can get published, great, but I am not really looking to be a ‘successful’ author. I define my success by finishing something that I can be proud of and at least one other person can enjoy.

So, I write picture books, YA (mystery and fantasy), epic fantasy, historical fantasy, and I even have desires for a non-fiction piece on the history of slot canyons in Southern Utah that I am sure only my mom might read. Maybe.

What is your preferred path to publication?

I would really like to go traditional for my PB’s. For the novels I am working on, I think I would like to pursue traditional, but lately have been more inclined to go the self-published route.

How have you found the submission/querying process so far?

I have only minimal experiences thus far with querying and submission. I have one holiday children’s picture book that I have queried (unsuccessfully) only to a handful of agents. I have pitched it to a publishing house. They wanted it, and were ready to go, but as I looked into it more it didn’t feel quite right and didn’t seem like the fit I was looking for. So, I said no. As time has passed, I feel even better about that decision. I think the biggest takeaway from that for me is that the more you shop around the better the chance you have of finding the best fit. That and picthing in person isn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be!

All writers are readers so who are some of your favorite authors and why?

I probably struggle with my writing because I spend too much time reading. I will read and finish at least two books a week (I read fast). I love Brandon Sanderson, David Eddings, and Brent Weeks. I love the way they world build and create characters in fantasy settings that feel very real.

What inspires your ideas? How do you come up with them?

I try and find inspiration in everyday life. My kids and their antics have been a source of inspiration for characters, dialog and plot. I have a rhyming holiday picture book that I wrote only because my daughter accidentally found the secret stash of Christmas presents. I wanted to keep the magic of believing in Santa alive so I made up a story about how Santa has little elves that go around stashing gifts in peoples’ homes before Christmas because Santa needed a head start on delivering gifts. It very well could become my first published book.

That sounds like a great idea and would help so many parents! It’s also how my sister got busted lol.

Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I am very much a pantser. I will outline and plot in my head all the time, but if I am putting words to paper it is to write, not outline.

What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?

I have to isolate myself fully to really get the writing mojo going. No TV, no peoples, no social media, even (gasp!) no internet. I have tried to do word sprints and even helped host the Friday Night Writes #writeclub events, but I have found that sprints don’t’ work for me. I need prolonged exclusion. In fact, I am doing a three day backpacking trip off the grid in a couple weeks. I anticipate busting out some words on the trail.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?

I have recently learned that I am not a social writer. I need to get my words done with no feedback, no accountability partners, no word count reporting. I am all about pinging things off others, but only after the MS is done. I can be a social reviser.

Haha. That works too.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?

Everyone does things their way and that’s ok. I have spent time trying to fit other author’s paradigms of how things should be and it just burns me out. Find what you like and what you want and do it. Shia LeBouf was right, ‘DO IT!” but more importantly ‘Do You’.

Anything else you would like to add or talk about?

I am so thankful for the onine writer community who have been so supportive and become some of my best friends. Even if I never get published, I have made great lifelong friends along this journey.

Thank you so much! Where can people find out more about you and your books?

Website: www.kennethbcurtis.com                                        Online at: @CurtisKen (Twitter)

Interview with Thriller & Crime Fiction Author Ian Patrick

Ian retired from policing two years ago, after nearly thirty years service, mostly as a detective. He has investigated everything from theft to murder. He enjoys photography, drums and being outside. Ian is married with children and lives in Scotland with his springer spaniel that keeps him active along with an outdoor lifestyle. When he’s not writing you can find him on Twitter!  

Author Ian Patrick
Author Ian Patrick

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?

I’ve been writing, on and off, for the last fifteen years. I don’t know when I got started! I’ve never thought about that until now. I think it started with a story in my head and I completed the first draft of a novel in over thirteen years. That novel may never see the light of day. It was a learning experience that led me to start the one I currently have on submission.

Can you tell us a little about what kind of book(s) you’ve written so far?

My debut novel has a working title of Rubicon. The opening chapter was shortlisted in 2015 by No Exit Press in a competition to find a new voice for their publishing house. I didn’t win but did get the confidence to continue. If you like your crime dark, gritty and real then you will enjoy it. The question I asked myself is – what if? Some rules are there to be broken. In the world of policing and crime the end game can change.

What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?

I write crime/thriller. It works for me because I spent twenty-eight years as a police officer in London and most of those as a detective. I’m retired now as I joined at 19! It doesn’t make you a great writer but it does give you a feel for the subject! I wouldn’t recommend writing what you know but it has felt ok for me. Many great writers have produced work where they have had no experience, of the subject matter, but you feel as though you’re in the page.

What is your preferred path to publication?

Right now I’m pursuing a traditional route to publication. I’m open-minded though and can see the benefit in both traditional and self-publication. I have friends who have used both routes, with success, so time will tell for me. I believe writers should choose a route that suits them, their work and the time they have to promote it.

How have you found the submission/querying process so far?

A road of rejection. There is nothing fun about the submission process and if you can’t take criticism, or cope with negative feelings of self doubt, then don’t do it! This writers life has to be a MUST not a MAYBE. I have had my fair share of critics in my previous job so have a somewhat hardened resolve to it but it still smarts when your work is knocked back or criticised. That’s why it’s crucial to enjoy the love of writing and don’t get hung up on this area. I have had some positive feedback though. Agents and publishers may like your writing but the novel isn’t for them.

All writers are readers so who are some of your favourite authors and why?

I read lots of books across many genres and that helps with my writing as well as exposing me to some amazing authors. I enjoy reading Cormac McCarthy for his style of language and dialogue. Chuck Palahniuk for his crazy mind and concepts. Stephen king because, well, who doesn’t enjoy a book by him! As far as crime goes I was introduced to the genre through reading Ed McBain and he is my all time favourite. His writing is incredible as is Jim Thompson. Two great crime writers.

What inspires your ideas? How do you come up with them?

Reality! I write from the hip and hold no punches. My writing is brief, raw, and ideas just come up at the moment. I hope this lasts or my career could be a short one. I do use my past experiences as a source of inspiration and ideas, but policing changes so much you can’t always rely on them. Sometimes the best books have emanated from the most simple of human observation and that’s where I tend to start.

Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I have a start and a finish, nothing more. I let the characters and situation develop and go with it from there. In reality crime isn’t straight forward. There is always a backstory to each situation. You may end up with the same crime file at the end but the route to get there differs.

What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?

I grab three hours each day when I take my daughter to play group. The hall has a side room and I go in there and get on with it. Time is precious to me and I take each section of it with thanks. I don’t have a process as yet as I’m a newbie and this will need some developing.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?

To accept criticism with a willingness to change.

When I first joined the police, in the late eighties, this was part of a statement of common purpose. We had to learn the whole statement and this is the only part I can remember now! It is so true though. The critic may be right! If my first novel weren’t so honestly critiqued I wouldn’t have written the one I have on submission now.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?

Enjoy it. When we stop doing what we value in life then we may as well be dead. Don’t sweat the process and don’t get precious about it all, just write and see where it takes you. The route to publication changes all the time and now more than ever the options available are greater. Where you can, get to know the writing community around you and attend events. Don’t be stuck behind a screen, get out there. Life is brief and writing is a very small part of it.

SUCH GREAT ADVICE!!

Anything else you would like to add or talk about?

Thanks for the opportunity and I wish you every success with your current book.

Thank you so much! Where can people find out more about you and your books?

On Twiiter @imdambassador

Cover Reveal for PRETTY WICKED ~ By Kelly Charron

Pretty Wicked Printable 330 6x9

Cover image by Kellie Dennis – Book Cover By Design

The daughter of a local police detective, fifteen-year-old Ryann has spent most of her life studying how to pull off the most gruesome murders her small Colorado town has ever seen.

 But killing is only part of it. Ryann enjoys being the reason the cops are frenzied. The one who makes the neighbors lock their doors and windows on a hot summer’s day. The one everyone fears but no one suspects.

 Carving out her own murderous legacy proves harder than she predicted. Mistakes start adding up. And with the police getting closer, and her own father becoming suspicious, Ryann has to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than anyone else—or she’ll pay the ultimate price. 

*warning – some graphic content

Pretty Wicked is a mature YA novel intended for ages 16 and up.

Praise for Pretty Wicked:

 “This creepy novel places you inside the mind of a twisted teen killer, which is even more unsettling because of how familiar and normal she seems. Be prepared to leave the lights on and look at the people around you in a whole new way.”

-Eileen Cook | Author of WITH MALICE

“Dark and haunting, this witty thriller with its petite feminine anti-hero is an American Psycho for teens. Be prepared to sleep with the lights on.”

Lisa Voisin | Author of THE WATCHER SAGA

“Pretty Wicked is fresh, thrilling, and deeply haunting. I’ve never read anything like it! The story escalates from page one and will leave your pulse pounding as you wonder just how far Ryann will go. 5/5 stars.”

Tiana Warner | Author of ICE MASSACRE & ICE CRYPT

Excerpt from Pretty Wicked:

I heard the bell ring in the distance. Lunch was over. I leapt up to go when I was struck with panic. What if someone had seen me walk out there with Veronica? No one could know what I’d done. My breath hitched.

I ran as fast as I could back to the yard and to the first teacher I saw.

“Mrs. Hopkins! Come quick, Veronica’s really hurt!” I pretended to be hysterical so effectively that she couldn’t understand me the first few times.

She bent down so we were at eye level. “Where?”

“We went into the woods at the far end of the property. I’m sorry. I know we’re not allowed, but she fell and she’s not moving! You have to hurry!” I sobbed, shoulders shaking, snotty nose. I don’t know how I’d managed to look so distraught, but I nearly convinced myself.

Mrs. Hopkins turned to a kid named Austin, who was in the grade ahead of me. “Go get Mr. Chute. Tell him to call 911 and to come out and meet me in the woods.”

Austin, who was paper white, nodded and took off like his ass was on fire.

I ran back with Mrs. Hopkins to the rocks where I’d left Veronica. She was in the exact position I’d left her. Thankfully there was no miraculous recovery waiting for us.

After she was taken away in an ambulance, Mrs. Hopkins and Mr. Chute walked me back and called my parents.

My dad showed up to the school, hugged me, and told me how brave I was.

After my mother had finally stopped fussing and checking on me every twenty minutes, I sat on my bed and thought about Veronica. It would be weird not to see her in class every day or hang out with her at lunch, not that we hung out that much. I was usually with Bao-yu anyway, but sometimes she came along. Maybe now B and I would be better friends. She wouldn’t have to share me anymore.

I wondered what I was feeling—if I was missing Veronica. But I didn’t think that’s what it was. The twinge in the bottom of my stomach didn’t have the achy hollowness that people refer to as a pit. It was more like butterflies.

Available for purchase September 30th in trade paperback.

Preorder the kindle version now on Amazon

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31394680-pretty-wicked?ac=1&from_search=true

 Questions about Pretty Wicked:

  • What inspired me to write such a dark character

I’ve always been fascinated with psychology and human motivation. Whenever I read a novel or watched a movie or television show, I was drawn to the villain. I wanted to understand what made them act the way they did––delve into what happened in their lives or minds to make them the person they had become.

When there was the odd story from the “villains” point of view, it seemed to characterize them as “misunderstood” and usually spun them into a likeable character who was the hero of that new version of the story. I wanted to write something unique and portray the villain realistically. What would the story look like if they were a true villain? I got the idea for a teenage serial killer who was unapologetic about who she was and what she wanted and thought it was really interesting to explore what her point of view would be if she drove the story and the “villain” was the detective trying to stop her.

  • Why I chose to self-publish

I did query it to literary agents and received a lot of positive praise for the book. In the end I kept hearing the same feedback: it’s a fascinating concept, the writing and voice are great, but we don’t think we can sell such a dark book to a publisher. I completely understand this. I know this book is going to be very polarizing. People will either love the concept or hate it. So far I have had overwhelmingly encouraging feedback from readers who understand that this is a fictional story that is trying to do something different from most novels. There was some interest from small publishers but the wait times were longer than I was comfortable with. I decided if I wanted to see this book out in the world I was going to have to do it myself. It was an intimidating process, but luckily I have an amazing and brilliant support group who helped me along the way.

  • What genres I write in

Psychological thriller, urban fantasy, and horror. I have two YA urban fantasy books, though one may never see the light of day. It’s my first book and would need to be rewritten before I decide its fate. The second (currently titled Wilde Magic) is the first in a planned series that I am very excited about.

Pretty Wicked is the second book I wrote and the first to be published. I have been writing for ten years. My first book was a YA urban fantasy that took me seven years to complete because I kept stopping for huge chunks of time while I completed my degrees (English Lit and Social Work). I finally got serious about writing in 2013 and have just completed my fourth novel.

  • Is Pretty Wicked a standalone novel?

The Pretty Wicked series will continue with adult books. The sequel, Wicked Fallout, is currently going through editing and the third book in the series is brewing in my mind. I have some very fun ideas for Ryann.

Wicked Fallout takes place twelve years later when Ryann is 27 years old. That’s all I can say right now as to not reveal spoilers.

  • Ryann is not a very likable character. I’ve been asked quite often if I like her and…

I actually do. I really enjoyed writing her. I don’t agree with anything she does at all! In that sense, Ryann is deplorable! But what I like is her humor and wit and the way she owns who she is. She was a fun character to write because she is so different to most characters out there. It’s like when you see a Hollywood actor discuss their favorite roles. Often they say the villain roles were their preferred because it was more fun and exciting to play. There are forbidden elements that make it a bit more exciting than the standard hero. It’s no different for me as the writer.

Sign up for my mailing list and check out upcoming books at: http://kellycharron.com

 Find me on:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyMCharron

 Facebook: https://goo.gl/UNkH3g

 Goodreads: https://goo.gl/rf4NlM

Cover Reveal for the ICE CRYPT by YA Author Tiana Warner

Meela has just returned from the Massacre—the annual attempt to wipe out the mermaids threatening her people’s survival. After forming an unlikely connection with Lysi, a mermaid she was trained to kill, Meela is determined to stop the war between humans and merpeople for good. She knows of a legendary weapon that could bring peace if she uses it against King Adaro, ruler of the Pacific Ocean. But her people have plans for future Massacres and refuse to help her uncover it.

While Meela works in secret to unearth the Host of Eriana, Lysi is held captive under Adaro’s tyranny. Sent to the battlefront, Lysi joins forces with a band of rebels that could either bring her freedom—or have her executed for treason.

Separated by the vast Pacific Ocean, Meela and Lysi must find a way to defeat King Adaro and end the war that has been keeping them apart.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00039]

Ice Crypt, the sequel to Ice Massacre, will be released in paperback and Kindle on July 25th, 2016.
– Check back on release day because the virtual launch party will kick off with chances to win huge prizes.
– Preorder on Amazon: http://amzn.to/28YbmBO
– Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29751984-ice-crypt
– Enter the giveaway to be among the first to receive a signed paperback copy.
– Interested in reading and reviewing Ice Massacre, Book One in the series? Receive a free Ice Massacre ebook in exchange for an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or another favourite book review site. Just contact Tiana Warner and tell her you’re interested in reviewing Ice Massacre.

Praise for Ice Massacre, Book One in the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy:

★ “… thought provoking and intelligent … fresh and thoroughly entertaining … Warner does a fantastic job creating a tight plot and masterfully creates a sense of atmosphere through subtle yet potent descriptions … Ice Massacre is a truly exceptional book.”
– Foreword Clarion Reviews, 5-star review Ice Massacre Cover

★ “Fascinating, unique, scary and written with a beautiful economy of words…”
– 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

#1 Amazon Kindle Best Seller
First Place Winner: Dante Rossetti Awards 2014
Foreword 10 Best Indie YA novels of 2014
Foreword Reviews’ 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Finalist

I have read both of these books and am a huge fan! Tiana has masterfully crafted an underwater world like no other you have experienced with fully realized characters that you want to root for. Intense, chilling and action packed, The Eriana Kwai books will keep you reading all night long.

Thanks for allowing me to host your cover reveal Tiana!

Interview with Contemporary Romance Author Laurel Greer

 

Laurel Greer
Laurel Greer

Desperate for a hockey-player fix during an NHL lockout, Laurel picked up her laptop. She couldn’t watch hot hockey players on TV, so she started writing about them. From blending a decades-long love of hockey with a few of her other interests—traveling in the BC Gulf Islands, romance novels, and gorgeous Scottish actors—the Vancouver Renegades and the Fraser family came to life. Laurel lives outside of Vancouver with her law-talking husband and two energetic daughters. She is currently seeking representation.

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?

Grade eight. I started writing fan fiction, though I had no idea what fan fiction was at the time. I just wanted to write extra epilogues for Julie Garwood novels and imagine myself falling in love with Pavel Bure. I wrote my first novel during an NHL strike. I was bored without hockey, so I wrote a book about a hockey player. It wasn’t publishable, but it hooked me in to figuring out how to make the next one better.

What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?

I write contemporary romance, both single-title and category length. I love experiencing the rise and fall of emotion while knowing a happily-ever-after ending is in store. And I’m a sucker for some of the classic romance tropes: friends-to-lovers, falling for a sibling’s best friend, return-to-hometown.

What are some of your other favorite avenues for storytelling besides books?

I watch a fair amount of television, moreso than movies, though I’ve seen my fair share of Disney princess movies with my kids in the past few years. I also love live theatre, particularly musicals.

What path are you going to pursue for publication?

I’m aiming for the agent-publishing house route at the moment (either print or digital-first).

All writers are readers so who are some of your favorite authors and why?

I have a terrible habit of staying up until three in the morning reading New Adult sports romances. Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy, and Kristen Callihan are my favourites. And I haven’t met a Jill Shalvis hero who I didn’t love, nor a Kristan Higgins book that didn’t make me laugh.

What inspires your ideas? How do you come up with them?

I usually have plot bunnies hop out of one of my own interests or experiences. After getting entertained or fascinated by something, I start asking what-if questions.

What are you working on now? Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I’ve wanted to write about a Gulf Island summer camp for years, but it’s taken until now to discover the right plot for it. I’m currently making Camp Eaglecroft (and the families that run it) come to life, starring a handful of characters from a Vancouver NHL team. Outlining is a necessary evil, otherwise my characters have no goals and the plot doesn’t go anywhere.

What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?

I have a day job so I do most of my writing at night—I try to squeeze in a few hours after the kids have gone to bed. And I steal as much time as I can on weekends. I try to start from page one and complete a first draft before going back and fixing anything, but sometimes I jump ahead, or I end up having to fix parts of the beginning in order to get to the end. Using Scrivener has saved me a tremendous about of time and has really helped with organizing my first and second drafts.

If one of your novels was made into a movie, which would you choose and what actors would you cast to play the three main roles?

Oooh, tough question. All of them. But I’m going to go with the first in my Refuge Cove series so that I can cast Tom Hiddleston as Keir and make him speak with a Scottish accent. Anna Kendrick is close to how I think of Natalie. And for Natalie’s brother, Gage, I picture NHL player Patrick Sharp. Not an actor, but he’s pretty enough to be on-screen.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?

That writing takes a lot of work. Some people are successful early on, some take years or decades. But it’ll never happen if you stop, so keep going. Even if the words coming out are vomit-worthy. They’re always fixable.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing?

Find a good critique group/partner. Two parts making each other’s books better, one part pouring wine when the rejections arrive, and one part throwing confetti for good news.

(This is brilliant and so true).

Anything else you would like to add or talk about?

I’d love to connect on Twitter! As soon as I have book news, I’ll post it there and on my website.

Thank you so much! Where can people find out more about you and your books?

Website:      www.laurelgreer.com

Twitter:       @_laurelgreer

 

Interview with YA fantasy and Adult Contemporary Author B.L. Wheatley

B.L Wheatley is a librarian and mom of three daughters. She loves nature and spends most weekends hiking new trails while trying to keep up with the girls and puppy Luna as they run ahead to become wild things. She lives in Vancouver. And no one believes she writes about dragons. But who would? She’s not a very believable person. She is currently working on three books at once because she’s a master at multitasking.

Bee author photo

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?

I knew when I was ten. How did I know? I started ripping off Sweet Valley Twin stories. I figured if I could complete a “novel” (I think that, in my mind, equaled 55 pages) that I was a writer.

What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?

I write children’s fantasy, YA contemporary, and Women’s contemporary (is that a category? Don’t put this part in. This is a legit question for kelly). I love them for completely different reasons. With children’s fantasy it captures that part of me that refuses to grow up and not believe magic isn’t all around us. With contemporary for YA or Women’s it’s a way to express real life situations and emotions, to find a different way of looking at things that can bring an aha moment to a reader (and more often writer)

What are some of your other favorite avenues for storytelling besides books?

I love to tell people funny things that I’ve seen or have happened to me. It’s actually good practice anyways, because storytelling should be informal, a conversation between friends.

What path are you going to pursue for publication?

First, the traditional way. I’ll query, pitch in person when possible. Last resort will be sitting outside a publishers house. Or befriending JK Rowling by climbing over her wall. You know, the typical paths.

All writers are readers so who are some of your favorite authors and why?

JK Rowling. Duh. I love Liz Gilbert. I’ve decided she is my spirit animal. I also enjoyed A Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais. His writing made me hungry. A true sign of a skilled writer.

What inspires your ideas? How do you come up with them?

Sometimes they pop up while I’m talking to a cat. Other times when I’m talking to a friend and a kismet comment will bring it all to me. I find that most of my ideas are like hummingbirds – they pollinate from multiple places: conversations, books I’ve read, places I’ve been, things that make me curious.

What are you working on now? Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I’m working on a women’s fiction contemporary novel. I was writing by the seat of my pants till 18k word count and then realized, I need to have a loose outline. Mainly the outline occurred once the story had solidified within my brain and I had the general ending in mind.

What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?

I tend to write in the morning during the weekend. I also write after I’ve put the kids to bed. I’ll even write during my lunch break. Are you seeing a pattern? I write where I can and I grab moments. It’s balanced by my Friday’s off, when I’ll shlep to a coffeeshop and write for a few hours at a time before I have to do school runs.

If one of your novels was made into a movie, which would you choose and what actor would you cast to play the main role?

A tough one. I want them to ALL be movies. But if I had to pick one…my children’s fantasy with dragons, cats, and a girl. Because who doesn’t love a lovable dragon with it’s own netflix account? Pretty sure the dragons would animated. Unless we find a real one. The girl protag could be played by a young Rachel McAdams.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?

To ignore my inner voice that says ‘you suck’ and ‘you’re faking it till you’re making it’. That it’s not a hobby. That my persistence is what makes me a writer.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing?

Just keep writing. Deceptively simple, right?

Anything else you would like to add or talk about?

Reading is HUGE (imagine Trump’s voice saying this (or that he even reads)). It’s probably the single most important thing you can do as a writer. It’s the equivalent of going to Italy to learn the Italian language versus trying to learn it by hanging out in Jersey Shore.

You are hysterical! TRULY. Thank you so much! Where can people contact you?

On Twitter: @BLWheatley

SEVEN LESSONS LEARNED FROM WRITING A SERIES ~ By Guest Host Lisa Voisin

LISA-blue shirt

About six or seven years ago, I attended a workshop at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference about writing a series. It was led by Richelle Mead, author of the Vampire Academy series. One of the takeaways I got from that session was that romance didn’t lend itself well to a series, because, structurally, it has to have a happy ending. As an author of Urban Fantasy herself, Mead outlined the differences between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy (both being popular genres at the time), and recommended that if the story was to become a series, it would have to switch genres. Which meant the focus had to shift from romance, where the objective is two characters getting together, to adventure, where the romance takes a back seat.

Lesson 1: Genre Matters

I took this lesson to heart when I decided to make The Watcher into a series. Genre is important. There are some genres that aren’t as easily converted into a series. Though the love story between Mia and Michael continues in The Angel Killer (Book 2 of The Watcher Saga), the focus of the story is less romance and more adventure, with fantasy and horror elements. That story continues in The Warrior Prophet (book 3).

Lesson 2: Know Your World and Characters

I tend to write my stories with only a minimal outline. I knew where I was going, but I write the scenes without planning them in advance, so I’m more of a pantser than a plotter. Because I do that, I had to keep track of my world and its rules and well as my characters’ histories, so that I didn’t contradict myself. Luckily, I wrote my stories one after the other without too much time in between, so the story was still fresh in my head when I started drafting the next. At times, though, I had to search my previous books for references to things that happened, specifically in the characters’ past lives, to make sure it all made sense.

Though I wrote the second and third books in close proximity to each other, I changed computers between them, and I lost the computer The Watcher was written on, so some of my early character sketches were missing. Luckily, I remembered most of the information. But if I were to do it again, I would certainly back up all my files and not just drafts of my story.

Lesson 3: Keep Going!

One of the toughest things when writing a series is to not get discouraged. Because of the way things turned out at the end of The Angel Killer, I was really motivated to finish The Warrior Prophet. My readers were demanding it. On one hand, it felt good to know that my book had affected people. But on the other, I felt bad for my characters and had to get them out.

Lesson 4: Cliff Hangers

I have learned that there isn’t a cliff hanger that isn’t risky. The main risk being they upset your readers. But there are ways to do them. The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that the story problem for the book must be solved. It may not be solved well. There may be a cost, or there may be complications. Those complications are really the only way you can have a cliff hanger and not break your story. For instance, nobody liked the fact that at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo was trapped in carbonite. But it was still a legitimate cliff hanger, because the rest of the Rebels were safe. They’d met their objective.

Lesson 5: Timing is Key

While I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase about timing to cover any range of subjects, it is also true when writing a series. Sometimes waiting too long between books can cost you your readers. While I’d hoped that fans of my first book would rush out and buy the second, there was almost two years between the release of the first and second book. People move on. Tastes change.

Sure, perhaps if I were Harper Lee or even George R.R. Martin, I’d have enough of a readership that my sequel would be big news. But I’m not those authors. I’m me. And if I were to write a series again, I’d make sure I had a second book ready to go when the first book was sold, so that it could be ready to market right away.

Lesson 6: The Need to Please

This is true about all writing: you simply cannot please everyone. Those who loved the romance of The Watcher may be a bit shocked by the action in The Angel Killer, while others were pleasantly surprised. You’ll change and grow as an author with every book your write. You have to own that, and not worry about what some readers think. Just write the best story you can.

Lesson 7: Letting Go

Lastly, one of the hardest things about any book is letting it go. As the author, you’ve lived in this world with these characters in your head for years. With a series, that timeframe is even longer. I’ve been living with these characters for seven years now. Letting them go was like kicking your teenage kids out of the house! It was harder than I thought. For the final book, The Warrior Prophet, that meant I lingered on the edits a bit longer than necessary. It also made starting new projects more difficult, because I missed my “old” characters.

On that note, in order to let go, I realized I needed to keep writing—just writing something else! I’m working on a new story, in a new world, with new characters, something completely different. When I get nostalgic for the old characters, I can always go back and visit. But then, it’s time to move on.

Check out The Watcher Saga and Lisa’s newest release in the series THE WARRIOR PROPHET at:

Amazon: Kindle: http://amzn.to/1Rkq5RK

Amazon Print: http://amzn.to/1QJEsi4

Kobo (epub): https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-warrior-prophet-2

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-warrior-prophet-lisa-voisin/1123449947

WP

read a Teaser Excerpt here:

Hell

Hands clawed at me as we passed through the blackness. The reek of sulfur and rot made a hot rush of bile rise to my throat. Arielle had said my soul would act as though I had a body, but my actual body was lying in a bed fifty feet below.

We pushed through a thick blanket of black smog and then met a stretchy, membranous substance. Once we pressed our way through, we stepped out onto a huge, empty field. The ground was covered in charred ash. The air itself had to be a thousand degrees, and, if I’d had a body, it would have been incinerated. With stealthy, silent movements, he led me across the field, each step hovering above the ground.

“Welcome to Hell.” His smirk made me want to slap him. “Well, one of the lesser territories.”

Lesser territories? How many are there?”

“Hundreds, if not more. This one’s a soul wasteland.”

“You think Michael’s here? In a soul wasteland?”

“No, but it’s easy enough to get here. It’s not heavily guarded because there’s nothing to protect.” Cinders rained from a dull charcoal sky choked with clouds, landing in his hair. He brushed them away. “When a soul is all used up, the only thing left is an ashen residue. That’s what’s beneath us. It’s why we’re hovering.”

I covered my nose with my hands to keep out the foul stench. “Oh God.”

“Don’t say that word around here.” He scanned the area and lowered his voice. “You’ll attract attention. Draw your sword.”

“Why?” I reached between my shoulder blades to find my sword hilt. “Won’t it attract attention, too?”

“It’s better to have it handy if you need it. But don’t extend it until I say so, or we’ll draw a crowd.”

I didn’t know what I’d expected Hell to be like, but this barren field wasn’t it. Above us, the clouds undulated in the sky, their tattered, ragged forms joining and separating like a flock of birds. They weren’t clouds at all but flyers. A squadron of them.

“They know we’re here.”

miaquote