Our Featured Author for July: Jordan Barnes

Author Interview with Katherine E. Soto Author: Jordan P. Barnes

 1. What is the first book that made you cry? Where the Red Fern Grows.

 2. What is your writing Kryptonite? As a newer author, I am keenly aware that I need to read more, though this is not to be confused with me not being well read. I grew up in a family of avid readers, with a vast library at my disposal that my father had assimilated over a twenty-plus year career traveling the world in the Navy. As a child, my brothers and I could always stay up past our bedtime, but only if we were reading, and I read constantly throughout high school and college. My reading picked up more when I was homeless because it was the only entertainment I could afford. However, as life has picked up, and with our new baby Logan here, it is hard to set aside the time needed to read, especially when I am writing. I squeeze in reading when I can, and am grateful for audiobooks, but know that I can do better.

3. Who is one author you are friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? Glen Dahlgren, author of The Child of Chaos! Glen and I found each other via social media as we both self-published our debut books within months of each other. Beyond our friendship, I have turned to Glen to bounce ideas off of him, and we exchange ideas, successes and failures in an effort to constantly improve our craft and sales. I look up to Glen and his writing style, and though we write in very different genres, have found his input to be invaluable.  

 4. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? “Jordan, you have a predisposition to addictive tendencies that will induce a world of hurt upon you if left unchecked. Get help for your binge drinking, tell your brother Jonathan he will die at age 36 from alcoholism is things continue, and stay away drugs.”

5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? After publishing One Hit Away, I found myself motivated me to write with vigor and purpose. The response was more rewarding than I could have hoped for, and when I realized how far and wide a message of hope can travel, I made the life-changing decision to quit my day job and pursue my dream of writing full time. I finally understand what it means to love what you do.

6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? If you have not made any money, dream about it? I went through a couple of editors before I finally found Jessey Mills, and we connected in a way that went beyond the standard professional relationship between writer + editor. Not only did I receive critical developmental, line and copy editing services one would expect, but Jessey taught me a ton about craft and technique. I found my voice working with him, and believe that it was only as a team that One Hit Away won the 2020s Best Book of the Year Award from Indies Today.

7. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? In Hawai`i, it is customary for each family to have an Amakua, or Family Protector. It could be a Gecko (Mo`o) or type of Bird (`Iwa). Our Amakua is the Octopus (Tako), which is fitting because they are adaptable, able to squeeze out of tough situations and can hide in the smallest of crevices.

8. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Currently, I have a serialized book titled 12 RULES TO DIE BY: A HEROIN ADDICT’S TAKE ON LIFE IN LONG-TERM RECOVERY that will be available only on Kindle Vella, however I intend to add more episodes to increase the “rules” to twenty-five. I am also 90% complete with my current WIP BRIDGETOWN, which is a novel based in a syringe exchange in Portland, OR. The plot follows a team of Harm Reduction advocates as they scramble to save lives during a mass-overdose event, and I can’t wait to drop it.

9. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction? A lot of craft books (King’s ON WRITING, Brody’s SAVE THE CAT!) have made me realize there is a meaning to the madness, so through studying the design and execution of story, I dissect plot points, pacing, story arcs and character developments when reading.   (Side note: The thing is, I never aspired to be a writer—I just felt like I had a story to tell. I actually failed English in High School which hopefully goes to show that passion and motivation can take anyone where they want to be.) Back to the craft books. The thing is, they tend to sap a bit of magic from the experience, but as an author who is committed to being successful at making writing my full-time career, I do what I can to learn from the greats, take what I can and leave the rest.

10. How do you select the names of your characters? For my memoir, I was fortunate enough that nearly every character in my book signed a legal “permission to use name and likeness release” form. Because all but one individual allowed me to use their name, there wasn’t much room for interpretation. As for my current WIP, tentatively titled BRIDGETOWN, I had the pleasure of choosing names as I saw fit. A few just rolled off the tongue, while other characters were named after friends. Then, as a token of my appreciation, I allowed some contributors to my book the option to name a character as they saw fit. I felt like it was the least I could do since so many industry professionals were freely giving of their time and expertise.

11. What is your favorite childhood book? Easiest question ever . . . Treasure Island!

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/One-Hit-Away-Memoir-Recovery-ebook/dp/B085M78JWT

Book Blurb

At the age of 24, Jordan Barnes woke up next to a lifeless body, rifled through his dead friend’s pockets for any remaining heroin and went right back to using. Strung out and homeless during the supposed best years of his life, there was no clear way out of the Opioid Crisis ravaging the streets of Portland, Oregon. But though Jordan had long accepted his fate, his parents still held out hope, and would do everything in their power to get him the help he so desperately needed. After a harrowing journey that proves the life of an addict will always get worse, never better, Jordan found himself at the gates of Sand Island, Hawaii’s most notorious two-year inpatient treatment facility. He soon discovers that though his heart was in the right place, the hardest battle of his life was yet to come. One Hit Away is his arduous and unlikely true story of recovery, rehabilitation and redemption

Jordan Barnes

Bio

Jordan P. Barnes is a grateful alcoholic & addict in recovery and Sand Island Treatment Center is his home group. When he’s not sharing his experience, strength and hope through writing or talking story, he enjoys bodysurfing and gardening. Jordan resides in beautiful Kailua, Hawaiʻi with his lovely wife Chelsea and son Logan. He has been sober from all mind-and-mood-altering substances since August 29th, 2011. Jordan is an B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree, and his debut book, One Hit Away: A Memoir of Recovery, won 2020s “Best Book of the Year” award from www.IndiesToday.com and was a finalist in the 15th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards.

A Word Cloud for Fun

April’s Featured Author of the Month: LD Wosar

Interview.

  1. What is the first book that made you cry?  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. There is a death scene of a popular character and I lost it .
  2. What is your writing Kryptonite?   My kryponite is the story itself. If I am not feeling it, it will never be finished.
  3. Who is one author are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?  Lori Aisling has been such an inspiration to me. Not only is she an enormously talented writer, she’s really helped me to develop more skills and helped me become a better writer.
  1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?  Don’t ever give up, if you have a story to tell, tell it. Write what you want, not what everyone else wants you to write.
  2. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?  The first book I self-published was a hot mess. I didn’t think about editors or formatters at the time, nor did I know about that. Since writing Hood of Sedna, I learned to make my own process however, never skipping professional editing and formatting.
  3. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? If you have not made any money, dream about it?  I barely have made a cent, compared to what I’ve spent.  I would say the best money spent is always my covers – I have an addiction. Also, currently I have decided to pay for a developmental editor as opposed to Alpha readers. So far, Amelia Oliver has been worth the money on this process.
  4. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?  I choose a crow, only because one of my favorite characters shift into that. A crow is dark and mysterious, he also has freedom hence why he is my spirit animal.
  5. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?  I currently have seven published books, eighth one will be released on December 1. Currently, I have two half-written books and I am revamping-more like a complete re-write – Hood of Sedna: A Capot Adventure Series I which will be released March 7, 2021 -exactly one year after its original release date.
  6. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?  I have read a few books, especially in the fantasy, PNR spectrum and learned anything is impossible and the sky is the limit with fantasy.
  7. How do you select the names of your characters?  Originally, my characters were named after my kids. Most of the time, I Google names depending on their region and go with that.
  8. What is your favorite childhood book?  I was a Nancy Drew girl, couldn’t get enough. I have never dabbled in mystery because knowing me, I’d give away the culprit in the first chapter. Although, I do add an element of surprise to my books – I love twists.
LD Wosar

About Me

My name is Lori Wosar, author name L.D. Wosar and I am now considered a Las Vegas, NV native. By day I am a Fraud Investigator for the Gaming Industry, night a fledgling author with big dreams. I did not publish my first book until June 2019 – a book that has conveniently disappeared from the radar, for good reason. I have completed writing my ninth book – Jaded Vamp: Jaded Vamp Series I and will be releasing that January 12, 2021. I wanted to keep my books clean, however, the naughty author in me has emerged and the steam has risen.

Blurb

I desire peace, everyone desires peace. No one wants to live in a dystopia, it is the utopia they desire. Well, guess what humans? A perfect world doesn’t exist, I don’t want perfection, I want it to be bearable and livable. Please tell me that is a suitable solution for you. Well, it has to be because I refuse to give any human empty promises, for it all ends up ugly if you don’t follow through.

My name is Margaret ‘Mags’ Graham, I am a gun-toting, sharp-shooting warrior. I am a legacy. A relic and I’m on a mission to bring peace not just for myself but for all of civilization in the form of an onyx heart-shaped talisman. It’s buried in some mountain range. Which one? I have no idea, just trying to figure that out.

Our Featured Author for March 2021- Curtis Deeter

  1. What is the first book that made you cry?

I’m sure there are a lot of books I read as a kid that I don’t remember, but my first memory crying during a story was in The Road. Now, as a new father, the ending hits especially hard.

2. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Not having enough energy (because, let’s face it, we can always find time somewhere) to write as much as I’d like. I love being a husband and a father, I wouldn’t trade a moment of that, but things like my day job, household choirs, running errands, etc. can be exhausting. I accept them as a necessary part of my life some days, but they take their toll physically and mentally more often than not.

3. Who is one author you are friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Leah McNaughton Lederman. She’s helped (whether she know it or not) keep me motivated when it comes to my local literary and arts magazine, Of Rust and Glass, and seeing her projects motivates me to continue mine.

  1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Finish what you start. I have a hundred different projects I never finished. Then, I sort of gave up for about five years because I was discouraged. Now, I try to finish every project I start (still not all the way there), put it out there, and I’m seeing incredible results. I wonder where I’d be as an author if I started working in earnest right out of college.

  1. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

My first novel-length book is through the final editing phases as we speak. The process has helped me see my work as not just mine but part of a bigger portfolio. It’s helped me accept that, eventually, I’ll have to release my story to the world.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? If you have not made any money, dream about it?

I bought a six pack of beer, Jackie O’s Razz Wheat, with my first royalty check. It was small, somewhere around $10, but it felt great. And Razz Wheat is one of my favorite drinks now. Win-win, yeah?

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

A wolf. My writing is a solo endeavor, and I’m entirely at peace with that. But I also realize I rely on the pack to take my writing from random lines in a notebook to published story. The latter still makes me a little uncomfortable, but I’m getting better at playing my role.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Off the top of my head, I have one complete novel (sequel to my soon to be published piece, Morning Blood in Mio), four that are about halfway there (high fantasy, dark fantasy-horror, comedic supernatural, and a scifi-horror), and a list of follow-ups for most of them. The Morning Blood series has about 10 books planned at this point, for example. I also have a collection of short stories, all with an element of fantasy, I’m currently revising and editing called Catching Lightning. It’s around 60k words, and I plan to self-publish it in the next month or so.

  1. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

Wow, great question. And really tough to answer. I’d have to say the first time I read a Sir Terry Pratchett novel my entire perspective on what makes good (fantasy) fiction. My mindset shifted from scene setting and purple prose, to character building, humor, and worldbuilding. There’s something special about a story that is equal parts hilarious and endearing, but also has a depth of worldbuilding that makes you forget you’re reading a novel. I aspire to be half as crafty as authors like STP someday.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

Honest answer? Completely random. When I start a story, I tend to attribute placeholder names to all the characters because I refuse to get bogged down in those details to the point it slows down my writing process. More often than not, the character names stick.

  1. What is your favorite childhood book?

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!! I don’t think it made me cry as a kid, but when my parents gave me a copy for high school graduation, I definitely did. Behind closed doors. Without them knowing, of course. There’s something about Dr. Seuss. No matter how silly, his stories always leave a lasting impression on me.

Updated Book Blurb:

Curtis’ book will come out soon. See his featured work in the featured anthologies. https://www.amazon.com/Curtis-A-Deeter/e/B0849Q5CB5

Morning Blood in Mio

Chase Cross, “detective” ordinaire, rolls into town behind the wheel of an old woody station wagon. When he careens into the Our Lady of the Woods shrine, he grabs Mio, Michigan’s attention, especially that of Sheriff Grace. Luckily, his poor driving retrieves the recently deceased bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Stillman from the apex of the shrine. Chase must help Mio solve the murders and piece itself back together—but first he needs to convince the Sheriff to let him out of jail.

Meanwhile, the Devil and Death arrive for their honeymoon, bringing with them a slew of strange, pseudo-biblical occurrences: water to booze, plagues of amphibians and Ford Focuses, and cupboards filled with rice. Some might call it spontaneous omening; others will simply call it young love.

Even with the cards stacked in his favor—his friend Bob, a cast of statues that animate every night, an angsty Jesus as his guiding light, and God, herself—the blundering “detective” might still manage to muck things up. But he might also manage to drop the quotation marks.

Morning Blood in Mio has been compared to Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and Douglas Adams. It is set to release June 15th, 2021. Follow Curtis A. Deeter for updates, giveaways, sneak peeks, and links to pre-order his debut novel.

In the meantime, check out his Amazon page to find a number of anthologies featuring his short stories. You’ll find a bit of everything, from the high fantasy world of Nabybee to Chuck Palahniuk-esque flash fiction, to keep you busy until his book launch.

Updated Bio: Curtis Deeter

Curtis A. Deeter is an author of fantasy, science fiction, and horror with over a dozen short pieces accepted in various print and electronic formats. He runs a local arts and literary community in Northwest Ohio called Of Rust and Glass. When he is not writing, he enjoys spending time with his family and taste-testing craft beer at local breweries.

Catching Lightning, Curtis A. Deeter’s first collection of short stories, is now available for pre-order and releases April 27th, 2021. With cover art painted by local artist Creative Inkwell and 28 unique tales, this is a cannot miss speculative fiction collection. 

https://books2read.com/u/38QrwB

What am I reading?

I am a writer and I like to help other writers, so I post a lot of things for writers to use on my blog.  I also have readers of my blog, so I must serve then also with things to read about.  I am hoping that my readers are writers, and my writers are readers.

I am a reader, too. Last year I read over 52 books.

What do I read? I read a lot fantasy and science fiction novels.  I will read an occasional romance.  I like the Reader’s Digest for a quick read. I like the San Diego Zoo’s Zoo News. I have a zoo membership, so the magazine comes for free. It hs information about the zoo’s animals and horticulture, plus upcoming events.

What authors do I enjoy reading?

Mercedes Lackey is one of my favorite authors. She has strong female characters in her books. Jolene is her latest. It is a book set in the old coal producing times of Tennessee. The title character is not the main character in the story, but she does cause some trouble for them when she tries to help.

Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern is an excellent set of books to read.  Her son Todd McCaffrey cowrote with her and has written several books in the series himself. Find a timeline on line and read the books in order of the timeline.

Terry Goodkind writes the Sword of Truth Series.  A series of books that takes world building into a new realm. I fell in love with his main characters Richard and Kahlan. Goodkind puts them through hell as they try to save their world several times from villains that either want to take over the world or want everyone dead.  Excellent fantasy adventure reads starting with Wizard’s First Rule.

What I am reading right now?  I finished The Lion of Cairo a few nights ago, then plunged into the military sci fi adventure Death Lands. 

What’s next?

It depends on what I find on my bookshelves. I have two bookshelves I am attempting to empty of the one book authors I have bought. I also have ARCS to read for other authors. I also have books on my Kindle app. I get a lot of free books on it.

Featured Author for January 2021- Angelique Jordonna

Angelique Jordonna and her book Dani   

Links

https://www.amazon.com/DANI-Angelique-Jordonna-ebook/dp/B089NXSG34/

http://www.angeliquejordonnaauthor.com

www.books2read.com/dani

Author Interview with Katherine E. Soto

1. What is the first book that made you cry?
          I don’t remember ever crying while reading a book. I don’t cry during movies either, except that one time during I Am Legend, where the dog died. Perhaps something is wrong with me emotionally.

2. What is your writing Kryptonite?
           I would say I’m my own kryptonite. I’m easily distracted by things. Social media, my wife, television. Also self doubt is a killer for me. Or work. People. Everything.

3. Who is one author you are friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
        My writing BFF or writing wife as I call her is A.J. Mullican. Awesome author and great friend. She does her best to motivate me and push me to do the things I need to do, even when I’m distracted, One day we will write a book together, actually that’s in the works but I’m surrounded by Kryptonite.

4. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
          Don’t give up and believe in yourself.

5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
          I have horrible grammar and spelling so working with my publisher has helped me know what to look for when editing my stories. I’ll never be great at it but, I’ve gotten better. I find myself going back to correct things now that I wouldn’t have worried about before.


6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? If you have not made any money, dream about it?
         A laptop.

7. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
          I’m pretty plain and simple so it wouldn’t be anything too over the top. Perhaps a cat of some sort.

8. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
       😬😬😬 At this point in time I have about fifteen unfinished pieces that I need to work on.

9. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

     😬😬😬 no

10. How do you select the names of your characters?
          I usually name my characters and my wife will go through and read my work… she’ll shake her head at me and say “That names not going to work, their name is….” And of course, I go back and change the name.

11. What is your favorite childhood book?
          It’s hard to choose just one. I loved Shel Silverstein when I was younger. Goosebumps/R.L. Stine. The Outsiders was great. Edgar Allen Poe was probably my favorite writer as a teenager though.

Author Bio:

Angelique Jordonna is a romance psych/thriller author from Michigan. She spent several years in San Antonio before moving to Kansas, and then back to Michigan where she currently resides with her wife, kids, and three dogs. Angelique spent her early years playing music and writing poetry, having several of her poems published in anthology books. She eventually transitioned into writing short stories and recently finished her first full-length novel. Currently, she is working on several other projects. When not working or writing she likes spending her time traveling, going to concerts, and meeting new friends along the way. She enjoys entertaining her troops with her sarcastic raunchy humor.

BLURB: DANI

A twisted childhood filled with abuse, pain, fear, and isolation has led Dani down a spiraling path of sinister and ever darker creative destruction . . . and into the arms of a lover named Lyric.

Everything begins to change for Dani, but will it last? Can finding an emotional connection with Lyric curb Dani’s sadistic hunger? Is this new love stronger than her deadly compulsions?

Just for Fun

Recent Book Reviews

These are four ARC books I was given and asked to read and write a review of each.

Fed by the Fae by AJ Mullican

See AJ Mullican’s Featured Author page: https://katherineesoto-author.com/index.php/2020/04/02/feature-author-interview-with-a-j-mullican/

Review by Katherine E. Soto

Lust that turns out to be soul mate love. Elven running around in skintight outfits.  A human who is at her wits end. The book Fed by the Fae by AJ Mullican is a fun adventurous romp through the Land of the Fae.

Molli is an average young woman in her early twenties. She is short is stature but is stacked in the right places.  She is on vacation in Ireland wandering from youth hostel to youth hostel, trying to stay one step away from starvation.  She knows no more money will come from her parents or ex-boyfriend. She wanders into the local woods on her way to the next town hoping the trees will keep the rain off her head, and maybe she will find some berries to eat. She stumbles across a Fairie Circle of mushrooms. The circle has berry bushes that look delicious.  She eats these berries, and her adventures begin.

The book is an adventure/ relationship story told from the main character’s viewpoint.  It reads from a twenty somethings view. Warning: Swearing and explicit sex scenes are in this book. However, the swearing is typical for a twenty-year-old to use in times of stress. The sex scenes drive the relationships between Molli’s three Fae and herself.  This book is a fun romp through Molli’s mistake of being Fed by the Fae to the ultimate end (or is it beginning) for her relationship with her three Fae.

Pact with the Pack by AJ Mullican

Review by Katherine E. Soto

I was given an ARC to read in exchange for this review.

Lycanthropy is the topic AJ Mullican uses to build relationships in the Pact with the Pack. Men that change into wolves and back again through the wolf magic.  They can also heal each other and themselves using the wolf magic.

Cherry gets mixed up with the wrong kind of boyfriend at the beginning of the book.  She breaks up with the controlling, freaked-out boyfriend who threatens to kill her. He can’t accept the breakup. Cherry ends up fleeing for her life to her Grandmother’s cabin in the mountain woods. Unfortunately, the boyfriend arrived first. He kills her Grandmother out of revenge and starts to kill Cherry. That’s when five wolves burst into the cabin to save her.  That’s when the real fun begins in this book.

The basis of relationships between Cherry and the five wolf/humans drives the rest of the book.  This is an erotic novel with X-rated scenes scattered throughout.  Swearing is also a part of some scenes in the book. If this bothers you, then do not read this book.   Otherwise this book shows how relationships can develop in a reverse harem involving five guys and one girl.

Will Cherry escape the threats to her life, or will the pack suffer the consequences of protecting her? Can she learn to control an Alpha wolf and his pack, or does she even need to?

 I have enjoyed both books I have read in this series.  Pact with the Pack is a fast-paced adventurous novel.

The Heir of G.O’D. Revelations by Harper Maze
Reviewed by Katherine E. Soto

What an odd book I said to myself as I began to read it. It took one or two chapters to bring the dystopian world that the main character Ana lives in into focus. Ana is a major game player in the Arenas and tournaments set up in the world they call Sol that has taken over the virtual world on the 3arth. Sol is a giant conglomerate run by two massive companies. One does the game play and runs it, while the other gives away the equipment to play it. It’s a fine mix of the two.

It is easily overbalanced when a year before the Heir is to turn 18 years old, the dying wishes of his or her father is given to the world in a threatening gesture. The dying father says that the Heir must decide to cut off Sol or leave it running for the world to continue to live in. Unfortunately, no one knows who the Heir is. The only thing they know is that the Heir was bind at birth. Of course, it is noted by the news that blind people are being kidnapped off the streets and are disappearing.

Did I not tell you Ana is blind? Ana can see in the world of Sol due to her implants and a VR machine in the game. She cannot see anything in the real world. This makes her terrified of the real world. Ana gets involved in trying to get a visor that will help her see in the real world before the world of Sol is taken offline permanently. Adventures follow her and anyone involved with her.
I know I said it is an odd book, but it grows on you. Ana is a likeable character who sort of falls into trouble even though she has the best laid plans. She is a capable warrior in the gaming scenes in the book. She is pitiable when she travels in the real world. Her friends try to protect her and go along with most of her wants. They worry about her obsession to be able to see in the real world.

This book is full of lights and darks, good characters, and ones you would not want to meet in a dark alley. The book ends on a cliff hanger. I look forward to reading book II in this series to see what happens to the world and to Ana. 

Review of the Sand Sea by Michael McClellan

Reviewed By Katherine E. Soto

This is a fantasy adventure. It takes the reader from one end of a different world to another in a beautifully written saga that concerns a prophecy. The prophecy pulls together people from foreign lands on a different world into the Desert Sea area to demand its fulfillment. An adventurer decides to take an expedition into the area where he runs into much trouble. Is hegoing to make the trade for the things his government wants? A young man who is indiscreet and a drunk, is kidnapped from the expedition and brought to the desert people to be their leader. Is he the prophesied leader? A young lady of proper breeding is along for the adventure with this expedition. Can she represent her father’s interests and stay alive? A young girl is almost thrown into the fire to be executed. She is rescued and on the run to the people in the desert to become their leader. Can she make the right choices? A leader of a land chases this girl across the lands, while his men plot against him. Who will survive? The prophecy brings this disparate band together to decide the fate of their world. I enjoyed reading this fantasy adventure story. I would recommend it to anyone who looks for a good read about a memorable world with interesting characters.

Featured Author Of the Month November 2020: Michelle Murray

Author interview with Michelle Murray

Q:  What is the first book that made you cry?

A: The first book that made my cry is a book called “A Child Called It” – I don’t even remember why I read that book, but this account of child abuse would make anyone cry.

Q: What is your writing Kryptonite?

A: I would have to say just doing it, just sitting down and writing. It sounds harder than it is or should be. Some days, you just don’t feel the mojo, or make excuses not to do it. That is one of the reasons I love National Novel Writing Month in November, it gives me the motivation, guidance, and fellowship to concentrate on my writing. Though, I have only completed a novel in a month one time, I love the fellowship and getting to know fellow authors. I will miss our meetings this year.  If anyone wants to be writing buddies, this year friend me on https://nanowrimo.org/

Q: Who is one author you are friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

A: None of my close friends write, but I do belong to the Kenosha Writers Guild. Having a place to share my writing and get feedback has been extremely helpful. They help me see things I might have missed, and give suggestion for places things can be clearer, or maybe is missing something.

I also had some beta readers read my work and give their feedback and suggestions. I highly suggest using/finding a writer’s groups, and beta readers.

It amazes me what other people interrupt/find in my work.

Q: If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?

A: I would tell my younger self (and myself now for that matter) to keep at it, keep writing, keep submitting. Don’t give up. Don’t let others discourage you from your passion. Don’t let anyone tell you it is a waste of time. Anything that you enjoy is not a waste of time!

Look around and you will be surprised at the amount of creativity in your local community.

Reach out and become involved with them. Surround yourself with positivity and support.

The world can be negative enough, you don’t need to be around anyone that adds to it.

Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

A: Well, I went from small poems to a book, so that was a bit of a change. I also learned to flesh out the story and characters more.

I created a world and characters out of my imagination and crafted a story, and that is something I will always be proud of.

However, some things still haven’t changed. I still handwrite everything first; I just can’t get into typing up my stories on the computer. It doesn’t have the same feel.

I do use a rough outline and sketch of where I think the story should go, which I don’t do with my poetry. Though, sometimes, the characters have different ideas!

Q: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? If you have not made any money, do you dream about it?

A: I would say the best money I every spent as a writer is in marketing. Getting the word out about my book, and having people buy it and read it is the best experience I think I’ll ever have.

Good notebooks and pens are always an investment also, a writer can never have too many notebooks or pens. I have notebooks lying all over the house, my husband always sighs at me, but you never know when inspiration or a story idea might come.

Before Covid, I used to bring a notebook with me and write on my lunch hour, but that’s a little harder these days if the weather isn’t nice.

I have made some money off my books, but not enough to quit my day job.

I do dream of more people reading my books and poems, and hopefully enjoying them. I never started this to be famous, and that is not my intention, but would always like more fans/readers.

Q: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

A: I think I would choose a dream catcher. The power of dreams inspired me to write my series, and there is such a mystery about them. Why do we dream certain things? Why can we remember some and not others? A dream catcher is supposed to protect you from shadows and bad dreams. I am a positive person, and I think that would be powerful protection to avoid negative energy at night (and during the day if possible)

Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

A; I have one fully completed unpublished book, a continuation of my Dream Walker series. One of these days, I will get it edited, find a cover, and publish it. I really think I have come a long way since the first book. I also have started Lightning’s Journey a prequel of what the white wizard Lightning was like before being turned into stone.

I have also started another similar book where a girl goes to another world to fight the darkness.

So that makes one completed unpublished, and two in progress.

I also started a short story about my main character and a vampire, so I guess that’s four.

If we are counting short stories, I wrote one called Rif the Snow Dog, which is unpublished.

So, we are up to five!

Q: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction:

A: I can’t think of anything off my head that made me think differently. I read a lot of fantasy series, but I’ve recently starting readying mystery books as well. Of course, the classics are always fun to re-visit.

Q: How do you select the names of your characters?

A; I selected Miranda using alliteration, I wanted the same sound as Mystica.

For the wizards, I came up with a list of words for both Shadow and Light, and went from there

Lightning, Midnight, Shadow, Silver, Spyder, and Polaris – Can you guess which is which?

Q What is your favorite childhood book?

A I would have to say my favorite childhood book would be a tie between Huckleberry Finn, and Chronicles of Narnia.

I love Huckleberry’s Finn adventures, and am a big fan of Mark Twain. I also, as I mentioned before I am a big fantasy fan, so Chronicles of Narnia has always been one of my favorites.

Biography

Michelle Murray

Michelle is a married working mother of two fine young men (her children). She lives in Wisconsin. When not writing, she enjoys reading especially science fiction/fantasy and classics.
Her favorite authors include Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Margaret Weiss, and Colleen Houck.
She also enjoys doing painting and crafts, and spending time with her family. She enjoys going for walks, and swimming. She has been known to jump in Lake Michigan with no life jacket!

Book Blurb

 Author picture Once upon Mystica, there were six wizards, three light and three dark. One day, one of the dark wizards said a spell to trap the fellow wizards. The spell went astray, and all of the wizards were trapped in stones. Now, one curious boy finds one of these stones and releases Midnight. Midnight is loose on Mystica! He gathers an army and prepares for war. Miranda is an average college girl, until she has dreams of Mystica. Her dreams lead her to travel through Mystica to find Lightning, the one wizard that can defeat Midnight. Follow Miranda through the Plains, Ice.

Featured Author of the Month: August 2020 Theresa Halvorsen

Author Interview with Katherine E. Soto

  1. What is the first book that made you cry?
    Oh wow, the first one? Probably one from the Little House on the Prairie series.
  2. What is your writing Kryptonite?
    Facebook and my day job. Sigh…
  3. Who is one author are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
    I am blessed to know so many writer friends. Chris Bannor has been my writing partner from when I restarted this writing gig two years ago. She’s great to talk through writing issues with. And I have to give a shout out to the other Semi-Sages from my Podcast, Semi-Sages of the Pages. Their friendship and attention to detail has made a huge difference in my writing.
  4. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
    Don’t stop writing. You need it for your sanity and I’m not kidding. You will save yourself so much pain if you don’t stop writing.
  5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
    Ummm…it’s made it harder to find the time to write because marketing takes up so much of my time.
  6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? If you have not made any money, dream about it?
    Writer’s Crutch, a San Diego based marketing class by writers for writers. From that I not only learned so much about writing, but was able to connect with other writers and have made some wonderful friends.
  7. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? This one is a hard one. I’ve always been very drawn toward hummingbirds and their symbol of hope.
  8. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Too many. I also have a long list of ideas. I have a paranormal romance based in Sacramento currently with beta readers, and I have the sequel for Warehouse Dreams that is a really, really, really rough draft. I’ve been collecting stories from around Temecula for a true ghost story book and I’m considering writing one based in Sacramento too.
  9. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction? Nothing comes to mind. I love fiction because there are no ‘rules’. There’s guidelines and expectations from readers, but you can write whatever you want.
  10. How do you select the names of your characters? I’m terrible about this. I just use place holders (Miguel, Jon, Julio, Jane, Liz), for early drafts, and then I’ll spend 20 seconds on a google search until something feels right. My beta readers know to double check to make sure I caught all the name changes. Sometimes I’ll use people’s names that mean something to me. For example, Eeva is a shout-out to my son who loved Wall-e, Fluffy is a shout-out to my other son’s cat. Miriam is the name of my great-aunt. But I truly spend almost no time on this. 
  11. What is your favorite childhood book? I have so many! Little Women for one and Ozma of Oz for another. I actually loved all the Oz books. I loved the Secret Garden and read every single one of the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy, Drew and the Hardy Boys books I could find. 

Book Blurb

Available at
Amazon:

Just Published!  Kindle edition!
https://www.amazon.com/Warehouse-Dreams-Theresa-Halvorsen-ebook/dp/B08CD14SY9


Kendle’s job is on the line every time she rescues a Wild teen. But Wilds, with their uncontrolled psychic abilities, need her help. They need the chronically underfunded Warehouse, the only school available for Wilds. But accepting a teen with potentially dangerous abilities puts her at odds with her boss; refusing means the teen faces life institutionalized, sedated, and under restraint.
Stephen, the new telepathy teacher, is a Bred. His wealthy parents paid for his perfect genetic code. He’s not used to the Warehouse’s long hours, to students who float beds through walls during nightmares, or send fishbowls through windows—not to mention the food sucks. The only bright spot is the fascinating Wild teacher in the next room who plays amazing cello or guitar music late at night.
Kendle doesn’t think Stephen belongs at the Warehouse, but when he helps save her and her students from a violent mob, she wonders if she was wrong…and if a Bred like Stephen might
fall for a Wild like her. But Kendle has little time for romance. As society ramps up its hatred of Wilds and the Warehouse’s resources stretch desperately thin, Kendle must find a way to keep the director from expelling the most gifted students as dangers to the school.

Author Bio

Theresa Halvorsen

Theresa Halvorsen has never met a profanity she hasn’t enjoyed. She’s generally overly caffeinated and at times, wine soaked. She’s the author of both nonfiction and speculative fiction works and wonders what sleep is. When she’s not writing or podcasting at Semi-Sages of the Pages she’s commuting through San Diego traffic to her healthcare position. In whatever free time is left, Theresa enjoys board games, geeky conventions, and reading. She loves meeting and assisting other writers, and being a Beta reader is a particular joy. Her life goal is to give “Oh-My-Gosh-This-Book-Is-So-Good” happiness to her readers. She lives in Temecula with her amazing and supportive husband, on occasion, her college age twins and the pets they’d promised to care for. Find her at www.theresaHauthor.com and on Twitter and Facebook.

Her book Warehouse Dreams is Available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Warehouse-Dreams-Theresa-Halvorsen-ebook/dp/B08CD14SY9

Review by Katherine E. Soto

 Warehouse Dreams is the story of a woman involved with a school for students who have Wild telepathic abilities.  Kendle is an assistant to the administrator of the school.  She had been a student at the school.  The administrator found her as a teenager in bad straits in Las Vegas trying to survive by stealing on the streets. 

A hunky young teacher named Stephen moves into the school to teach telepathic control to the students in his classes.  At first, he hates it there, but soon a relationship begins to blossom between Kendle and him.  Dreams figure prominently in their relationship.  The relationship is on and off while Kendle goes through adventures with the students in the school.  She is attempting to manage unusual talents who are enrolled.

This book is an adventure in itself, as well as a psuedo-romance.  It takes the reader from one emotion to another as things happen quickly to Kendle and the students in the school. I rooted for her all the way despite her background and the way she coped with things.  I hope if the world happens to have changes within the human genome, we would rise to the occasion, not sink into the oblivion of wanting to change or get rid of those different from the norm.

Read Warehouse Dreams if you want to read about likable characters with flaws, and have an adventure that will keep you reading.

Planning Your Novel – Guest Post by Dan Rice

Howdy,

For my inaugural guest post, I thought I’d give you some insight into my novel planning process. I started my authorial journey wide-eyed and wet behind the ears, determined to write an epic fantasy. Fortunately, I belong to an active critique group, and we had a mentor in our resident writer. From our mentor, we learned a robust plan is essential to crafting a novel. My personal process is based on what I learned in those formative years. It works great, at least for me, and has allowed me to finish a rough draft of my current WIP in less than six months. That’s from no plan or written scene to a rough draft. I think that’s pretty good for a bloke who still slaves away at the 9 to 5 and has a family.

Below you’ll see a breakdown of my planning process. I’ll illuminate each facet of the plan.

  1. Concept: a high-level overview of the entire story that focuses on the conflict.
  2. Scene outline: lists out each scene with a focus on the conflict.
  3. Scene summary: add details to the scenes–characters involved, setting, time of day, breakdown of the action.
  4. Chapter outline: step-by-step outline of what happens in a chapter (I write this for a chapter just before drafting it).

First, let’s dive into the concept. The goal is to boil the entire novel down to a one-page document that focuses on the protagonist, antagonist, and conflict. I often can’t do this right away. Instead, I create an outline that might span twenty pages or more. While I’m doing this, I’ll start creating the character list and character sketches, think bios. Once I have a solid idea of how the story will unfold, I’ll take the outline and condense it into a one-page concept. I think it’s worthwhile to always create a one-page concept because it forces the writer to focus on the essential characters and critical plot points.

The scene outline is derived from the concept, an expansion of it, so to speak. I literally number each scene. While creating the outline, I concentrate on capturing the primary conflict for each scene and which character will serve as the narrative voice. While working on my forthcoming novel Solarflame, I found it useful to do separate scene outlines for each of my major characters. Then I wove the outlines together to make a coherent whole. Again, at this point, I’m still working on the character list and character sketches. You can think of the process as iterative – new character sketches are created while existing sketches are refined.

With the first cut of the scene outline complete, I’ll typically begin fine tuning it by adding and removing scenes. Also, I’ll make a record of any ideas I have for scenes. Sometimes this includes creating scene specific outlines. Basically, I’m trying to note all the great ideas I have while weeding out the chaff.

Once I’m happy with the scene outline, I start working on the scene summary. You can think of it as the frosting on the cake. I’ll take into account details like time of day, weather, all the characters involved, and anything else I can think of that is pertinent to the scene. After this document is completed, all the scenes are pretty well fleshed out, as are the character list and character sketches.

Now, I’m finally ready to work on the rough draft. I expand the scene summary, or in some cases, multiple scene summaries into a chapter outline for each chapter as I go. Once a chapter outline is complete, writing the actual chapter goes quickly. In short order, I have a completed rough draft.

 The nice part about this technique is that it gives your story a scaffolding to hang on right out the chute. If done conscientiously, you’ll find your rough draft has very few, if any, plot holes to plug. For me, this allows for concentrating on wordsmithing and characterization during the editing process. I know this much planning isn’t for everyone, some people like writing to be more freeform. But if you’re having trouble knocking out a coherent novel, try this process or something similar. You might be happy that you did.

Author Bio:

While not entertaining a pair of young lads or pulling the 9 to 5, Dan writes fiction, mostly speculative. His debut fantasy novel Solarflame will be released in 2021. To read his thoughts on writing and view his complete bibliography, please visit https://danscifi.com.

Featured Author: Rozita Berry

Author Interview Rozita Berry

  • What is the first book that made you cry?

Me:  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. 

  • What is your writing Kryptonite?

Me:  Marketing.  Never a strong point of mine.

  • Who is one author are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Me:  There are several, but I think of Nancy Moors.  She has a unique style that resonates with me, and she takes an interest in other people’s writing.

  • If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Me:  You’re not going to change the world with your writing, so never mind that.  You’re going to make a few readers happy, that’s all, so aim for that first and foremost. 

  • How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

M:  It motivated me to write more and explore other styles of writing.

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? If you have not made any money, dream about it?

Me:  Getting a book professionally edited.  Cost me almost a thousand, but I learned a HUGE amount of things about writing that I didn’t learn in college, so it was worth the price even though it didn’t get the book published.

  • As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Me:  The cat.  I have four.  I have always been a cat person.  I love exotic cats too although I’ve never owned one and probably never will.

  • How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Me:  One.  It’s coming along slowly.

  • Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

Me:  The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I came to it late in life (almost 20 years ago) and it totally changed how I thought about fiction even though I’m not really a fantasy writer myself.  It’s hard to explain how.  At first I almost quit writing because I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t think I could ever surpass this series.  Then I started writing fan fiction, which gave me a chance to hone my craft and get immediate feedback on my writing.  Then eventually I began writing original fiction once more, but on a less epic scale.  YA then became my genre of choice.

  • How do you select the names of your characters?

Me:  I think the Muse tells me their names.  LOL  I really don’t know.  Names just come to me while I write, and I create the character the name suggests to me.

  •  What is your favorite childhood book?

Me:  Probably Little Women.  The first book I published was a modern-day retelling of it.  I also loved the Little House series, along with The Five Little Peppers, Caddie Woodlawn, and Heidi. I read them all over and over.

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3gKNhxB

RoZita Berry—Bio

I live in Jonesboro, Arkansas with my four cats:  Ringtail, Hansel, Fritz, and Frankie.  All boys, all pesky and all sweet.  I attended college at Arkansas State University and graduated with a MSE in English, and have done some teaching in Freshman English.  I’ve published nine books on Amazon, mostly young adult novels and one book of poetry, and I’m working on the tenth.  I work as a home health aide at the East Area Arkansas Agency on Aging in order to make money.

I am also a composer and singer/songwriter, and have written dozens of songs and compositions. Moonshine Lullaby is my first traditionally published book.

Moonshine Lullaby:  Book Blurb

     Tanya Lauterbach, 17-year-old daughter of country music diva Rita Harding, didn’t want to leave Nashville to stay with her father’s family in the Blue Ridge Mountains while her mother went on a world tour. She was a city girl! She almost had to be dragged out kicking and screaming. But after she got there and settled in, the hills began to work their magic…not the least of which included a charming, handsome young man with a mysterious past and possibly dangerous present. 

Available on Amazon

Review of Moonshine Lullaby by Rozita Berry

By Katherine Soto   (Arc Read)

This is a well written story of a coming of age and life for a teenage girl.  Her famous singer mother drops her off in rural country with her Dad while goes on a world tour.  Tanya does not want to be there at all.  She wants to be back in the city with all her friends. Her Mom gives her no choice.

Tanya does not know her Dad and his family very well.  She tries to get along with everyone in the family at family gatherings and in the house the live in.  She attempts to fit in.

Of course, there are two boys vying for her attention. Seth is a country boy blonde and good looking.  Tanner is a cowboy singer, so good-looking Tanya’s sister has a crush on him. There is an adventure with murder, kidnapping, and intrigue. Through everything, Tanya learns things about herself she never thought were possible.

This story is a good young adult read for someone wanting an easy to follow romance/adventure with a coming of age story weaved throughout.