Category Archives: About Me

Interview with A New Look on Books

Rae over at A New Look on Books asked me to to an interview and I can finally share it with you!

Tell us about your journey of becoming an author and publishing your first book. Any extra advice to fellow dreamers?

I wish my journey to being a published author was inspirational, something novelists told themselves to bolster their spirits as they were working toward publication. I spent years wanting to be an author, writing in my spare time, and thanks to National Novel Writing Month in 2010, finally writing what would become my first book. I half-heartedly revised Witch for Hire several times, but life marched on, and I abandoned the book.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2013 that I started to get serious. At the time I was horribly depressed and was clinging to anything that I enjoyed. I went back to work on Witch for Hire. Over more than six long months I did the best editing I could, had a cover made, and figured out how to format an e-book.

The entire time I spent working on the book, I held onto the project with dogged determination, not letting anything get in my way. My fears and doubts didn’t matter any more. I didn’t care if I failed, so long as I tried. I knew, with absolute certainty, that I would regret never trying far more than I would regret failure.

January 11, 2014, I published Witch for Hire. I published it without telling my family because I didn’t believe the book would do well and I didn’t want to fail in the eyes of my loved ones. To my total shock, the book did well and in the spring of 2015, I quit my day job and started writing full time.

As for advice to fellow dreamers, I recommend finding a happier path to publication. Aside from that, you should find some likeminded friends, work on your craft, and you absolutely must read and write a lot. Odds are you’ll end up working two jobs to support yourself the one that pays bills and writing. It takes a huge amount of self-discipline to write after work, and on your weekend, instead of sleep, Star Wars, or friends. Along with the work ethic of a god, you’ll need an iron will, and the determination of a starving dog guarding a juicy bone.”

 

Looking on your website I see you have multiple writing projects at once. How do you manage to juggle all the characters, themes, and arcs for each project?

It isn’t easy, but after several years of working on my Witch’s Path Series, I wanted some variety and Fey Hearted wanted to be written. The story arcs are the easiest things to keep separate because Fey Hearted and its sequel are stories of personal growth, while the Witch’s Path Series is adventure based. In addition, the characters, worlds, and themes are distinct, which helps.

The Witch’s Path series is typically somewhat humorous, with magical absurdities, snark, and a strong connection to the world we live in. Fey Hearted is serious and thoughtful, focusing on themes of love, happiness, and consequences. The themes have helped shape the world and story into something very different from my other works.

The most confusing part is the creatures. Often when I dream up a new creature there’s the potential for it to go into either world depending on how it’s presented. I’m still working on that issue. Hopefully that aspect of the two worlds will clearly delineate while I’m writing the sequel to Fey Hearted.

 

Why focus on the fantasy/supernatural/science fiction genre?

Dragons! Unicorns! Magic! Things I always wished were real.:-)

Wait, I should give a serious answer. Growing up I read so many novels with fantasy elements and I fell in love with the genre. Not only does it transport the reader to a wonderful new world, but it’s allows you to enjoy adventure without living through the hardships. Plus, many of the problems characters face in a fantasy world mirror ones each of us face in life. To me, that gives the reader a way to process a problem that they may struggle with in real life in a much less threatening way.

 

What is your favorite element of writing about the supernatural?

The ability to create anything. The only limits are my imagination and ability to convey the information to the reader.

 

How do you go about creating one of your characters?

It depends. Every character develops slightly differently. Some are created because of what the story or other characters need. I find my main characters usually shape the characters in the rest of the story. Michelle, my main character from the Witch’s Path Series, came to me in a dream. Rose, from Fey Hearted, was more a creation of the world. I really wanted someone different from Michelle, and who could still be fierce. When I started to develop the world, I realized that it wasn’t enough for her to be fierce. She needed to be strong enough to fight convention, live with harsh consequences, and be passionate about family and happiness. Rose developed into a much quieter character, which was more challenging to write, but well worth it because I found new ways to demonstrate her abilities.

Excerpt from Fey Hearted

Fey Hearted is on sale for $0.99 June 9-16 on Amazon

 

Originally published at A New Look on Books June 11, 2016.

Of Beginnings, Ends, and Abandoned Dreams

So much has happened in the past year. I keep looking around and asking myself how it came to be January. Surely, there are a few months to go before the new year. As it turns out, the calendar didn’t skip ahead; time simply passed at an unbelievable rate.

For me, this has been a year of change, a year in which I went after some of my dreams with a vengeance and other dreams found me. Many of the changes this year have been wonderful, amazing things that I thought I would only have in my imagination. To have them become reality, well, there are no words for how that feels.

I am so blessed to be a full time writer. I have wonderful fans that have made it possible for me to do what I love. I have a wonderful family, and I’ve been able to spend time with so many of them this year. I’ve been able to relocate back to Georgia, and reconnect with old friends. I’ve also been found by Prince Charming, which has been a wonderful thing of its own.

In all of these beautiful things, there are been some costs. That chemistry degree I worked so hard for? I’m not really using it. The family I have on the west coast? I don’t get to see them as much. That dream I had of living in a 600 sq. ft. home? Gone. Prince Charming couldn’t fit in there with me (not happily anyway). The idea of living deep in the mountains? That’s mostly gone as well. The dream of living on a house boat for a summer? Unlikely to happen. One dearly loved friend? No longer in my life.

There are so many good things in my life, and I’m very happy. But, I find myself mourning some of what I’ve had to relinquish. Oddly, some of the losses that sting the most are of things that shouldn’t be significant. That small house? It shouldn’t have hurt to let go of that dream, especially because it died due to Prince Charming, but it does. From time to time I think about what my life would’ve been like had I pursued that living situation. In my imagination, it’s simpler, quieter, and embodies the peaceful retreat I strive for in a dwelling.

In reality, that small home is very different. Its a sign that Prince Charming and I missed one another. We never did connect. It’s quiet because I’m hermit like, and when left alone will often forget to spend time with other humans. It’s simpler because there are fewer things in my life, and I know I’ll miss many of those things.

There really is nothing about that dream dying that should bother me so. I know I would think I was happy in that small house, but I would really be so very lonely. You see, what I have gained far outweighs what I might perceive as a loss. I have gained Prince Charming, someone I would not wish to do without. I have gained more friends, more family, and a life I adore. Perhaps it lacks the simplicity and quiet, but I think, a few years from now, I will have no regrets.

Then, why does it hurt?

After more brooding than I care to admit to, I think it comes to a simply reason. I was attached to that dream. It was what I created when I had a more complicated life and was dissatisfied. It was what I created when I dearly wanted to be left alone to be myself. In that creation, it came to mean something more.

That small house came to mean much more than a home I wanted. It turned into a symbol for having control over my life, my dream job, and the simplicity I’d found so hard to achieve. Somehow, over a few months, that little home turned into a sign that I’d achieved many things I’d been trying to accomplish for so long.

In putting all of those emotions and desires into something as simple as the place in which I live, I did myself and my dreams a great disservice. Instead of working for each of those things – the life, job, and simplicity I desired – independently, I rolled them into one dream. One that was all too easy to crumble.

The end of the year often makes me reflect on time gone by, what I wanted, what I achieved, and what I let go. This past year was a time of growth, where many things changed, and I consider it a year of beginnings. It was when I focused in on writing, new relationships, moved back to Georgia, and learned about myself.

It was also a year where reality looked me in the eye and I had to make choices about what I wanted the most. In hindsight, there are things I could’ve done better, but I have no regrets. Those choices brought me to where I am today, and I like this place, even if there are bittersweet moments.

Next year, I want to embrace what I began this year, continuing writing books and loving life. With that as a starting point, I want to grow. I want to be strong enough to let dreams be themselves rather than infusing them with deeper meaning that could be a achieved in many forms.

Next year, I want to give life to more of my dreams, and keep them true to themselves. Next year there will be more beginnings, and hopefully only good endings. If I’m lucky, I won’t have to abandon any dreams. Now that would be something.

Reading Journal 2

Today the order will roughly express my enjoyment of the books. (Please note this post contains affiliate links and Amazon will pay me a small commission if you purchase anything after clicking these links. Your cost is not increased by using these links.)

Scarlett (Lunar Chronicles Book 2) by Marissa Meyer. This is the sequel to Cinder and is a young adult novel in a dystopian world. This continued the fun of the first book, but rotated between Cinder and Scarlett. As before, it features a twist on an old fairy tale (this time Little Red Riding Hood), however it isn’t the same as Cinder because of the new storyline and people. I really liked this book and can’t wait to read the third one.

Cress (Lunar Chronicles Book 3) by Marissa Meyer. This book was done in the same style as the two before it, and added more points of view. Cress’s story is a twist on Rapunzel. I still really love this series, but I’m finding it hard to continue to have a deep attachment to some of the characters because there are a lot of them and we don’t spend much time with some of them. That said, I can’t wait to read Winter!

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. (I’ve posted about this one on Twitter and Facebook because it’s awesome.) Another young adult novel that is strongly dystopian. It has elements of other popular books in that genre (Hunger Games, Divergent), though I would say it was darker. No sex, but there is torture. It does have a multi angled love story, but it’s deeper than being torn between two guys. All in all, I loved this book so much! I picked it up over breakfast and didn’t put it down until I finished it. I’m so sad that I have to wait for the next book.

The Martian by Andy Weir. (I’ve posted about this one on Twitter and Facebook because it’s awesome.) If you’re looking for a good science fiction, heavy on the science, this is the book for you. It’s smart, funny, full of ingenuity, and there isn’t a single swashbuckling hero fighting the evil empire. Basically, it’s everything I wanted in a Sci-Fi book as a kid but couldn’t find. It made this chemist’s heart skip a beat. (Yes, I was a chemist before I was a writer.) Side note, I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I can’t comment on it.

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Series) by Charlie N. Holmberg. This is a young adult novel set in the early 1900’s (I’m not sure of the exact time frame). The main character is 19, which is a nice change. She is a somewhat unwilling apprentice to a paper magician. When her master is attacked, she tries to help him. I really enjoyed the smaller scope of this book. While there were plenty of ways for the story to go big, it stayed focused on saving her master, and the magic felt very fresh. There were a few minor world building inconsistencies, but I look forward to the next book.

Defy (Defy Series Book 1) by Sara B. Larson. This is a young adult fantasy novel. This was a fun ready, about a female soldier who is one of the best swordsman in the army and a prince’s guard. From there all sorts of interesting things happen, including several types of magic. While I enjoyed this book, the love triangle didn’t work for me (but I’m rather rabidly against love triangles). Now, If you like love triangles, then you could have totally different feelings. I read this book really quickly, and the sequel is on my to read list, though it has a lot of company so I’m not sure when I’ll get to it.

Snow like Ashes by Sara Raasch. This is a sword and sorcery young adult novel. The main character goes on a quest to prove herself and it goes wrong, which ends up leading her to her full potential. No sex, though there is a lot of killing and a threat of rape. Now, I really enjoyed this book. There were some fun (if not totally surprising twists), and good lines.  However, (and this is just a me problem) I’m getting tired of 16 year olds saving the world. This is the the first of three (or more?) books, two of which are out. I haven’t read the sequels, but I’m sure I’ll get around to them.

Pegasus by Robin McKinley. This is a young adult book but it’s written more like high fantasy with a teen as the star. Now, let me be very clear. I loved this book. The world building is beautiful and the story is engaging if a slow burn. A softer story of self discovery and becoming someone who wants to create change is such a nice change from what else is out there. However! However! I can’t recommend it until the sequel is published because it ends mid-scene. There’s no build up to a cliff hanger, it simply ends. If/when the sequel comes out I’ll change my view, but I’m not holding my breath. Pegasus was published in 2010 and there’s no release date or official announcement for the next book.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. This is a sword and sorcery young adult novel. The main character is an overweight 16 year old princess who lacks self-confidence and has a God Stone in her belly button. This stone marks her as the person chosen to have a great, undefined duty. This book had great parts, good parts, and a few spots I wish had been handled differently. In the beginning, I was really interested in this character, especially her weight because of reviews I had read. On the post-reading side, I don’t like how she lost the weight because it wasn’t a part of character growth, but essentially forced upon her. The overall book was good and it has sequels (which I haven’t read) so the story continues.

*The above books were difficult to rank because ,even with the flaws, they fell in the really like to love spectrum. The following books didn’t do as much for me.*

Matched (Matched Book 1) by Ally Condie. Also a young adult novel. This is the first of three books, and the only one of the series I’ve read. It’s another dystopian/post-dystopia society that is very big-brotherish. There were a few things I didn’t like about the book from a structure (of the story, use of language, or world) standpoint, but if you like teen romance with big-brother in the way, a hit of discord in the world, and a love triangle, this is for you.

Crossed (Matched Book 2) by Ally Condie. This is the sequel to Matched. I thought there was a lot of promise where the first book left off, and to me this mostly didn’t deliver. Very few things happened and most of the book was passing time between those events with little that was interesting or necessary for the plot. Perhaps the third book will pull some of those elements together but I haven’t read it and am unsure if I will.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. This was a young adult book with dystopian elements featuring fairies. I won’t be saying much about this because while it will work for some people, it hit some of my personal pet peeves about sex.

 

 

Reading Journal

I think of this website as a way to communicate information about my books and some information about me. The second part is a problem. I don’t like talking about me.

As a fan, I know what it’s like to want to know about an author. As an author, I know I should share because that’s what fans want. As a person, I don’t like social media and I primarily communicate with a small circle of friends. Those different ideas don’t mingle well.

My basic theory is simple. If you want to know something you should ask.

Really. Ask me questions.

I can answer questions. That’s easy 🙂

Anyway, for all the talking I do about my books, I haven’t told you guys much about what I like to read. When I had the day job and was writing on the side, I didn’t have enough time to do much reading. Now that I’ve transitioned to writing full time I have more time to read, which is awesome because I love reading!

If you want to know why I’m not reviewing these on Goodreads, there’s a simple answer. As an author, I don’t really like assigning stars to work’s I’ve read. All of these books had great points. Some of them worked better for me than other, and that’s just how reading works. Some very popular books have done nothing for me but I have friends who love them. In addition, I picked up some of these books for research rather than pleasure. That doesn’t make them bad books, but there may have been less excitement from the start. (Please note this post contains affiliate links and Amazon will pay me a small commission if you purchase anything after clicking these links. Your cost is not increased by using these links.)

Recent Reads: (in no real order)

A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn. This was a great young adult novel that doesn’t seem to be part of a series.  It was well written, engaging, and I felt like is was truly appropriate for a wide range of audiences, starting with younger teens. There are hints of romance, but no lasting romantic interest. I liked this book enough that I checked for a sequel and when I couldn’t find one I looked for her other works.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. This is a standalone young adult novel. It’s great for the horse loving teen (or adult). While it has an underlying romance, it’s subtle. This was an interesting take on water-horse mythology, and kept me turning pages.

The Selection (The Selection Book 1) and The Elite (The Selection Book 2) by Kiera Cass. This is a three book series, with a couple of spinoffs (additional novels and novellas).  One review I read described The Selection as the lead up to The Hunger Games (dresses, interviews, and the like) without the depth of The Hunger Games. I’d say is the dystopian royalty equivalent of The Bachelor. If that’s what you’re looking for, go for it. As for The Elite, it solidly continues the story, and brings in more social unrest. The male main character made some choices that I found disagreeable. At the same time the female lead wasn’t making great choices. Those are some pet peeves of mine, and why I didn’t read the third book. That said, these books did pull me along, and there were significant signs that the third book would include more of the dystopian/social unrest elements.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore. This is the first in a series of three, though I haven’t read the others so I’m not sure how dependent they are upon one another. While it’s considered a young adult book, I think it’s the least juvenile of the lot (followed by The Scorpio Races and A Creature of Moonlight). It does have a couple of scenes featuring sex, but they’re short and not overly descriptive. Graceling is an epic fantasy about fighting evils, being true to yourself, and overcoming obstacles. I couldn’t put it down. My only criticism is that, for me, the ending wasn’t very satisfying.

Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. This is the first in a multi book series (four or more depending on how you count). Pretty much everything about the book was awesome. Yes, it’s a young adult novel with dystopian qualities. However, the main character, Cinder, is a cyborg who is owned by her step-mother because cyborgs are property. She’s a mechanic and is wonderfully capable throughout the book. It’s a lovely twist on Cinderella that was fun to read and had some unexpected twists. I highly recommend it and am counting the minutes until I get my hands on the next book. Also, there wasn’t any sex at all.