Monday, June 29, 2015

Mike Hartner, I, James





AUTHOR:  Mike Hartner
BOOK TITLE: I, James
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Romance, Adventure
PUBLISHER: Eternity4Popsicle Publishing
BUY LINK:   http://goo.gl/NQHtwy



Please tell us about yourself.
This summer, I cross out of my forties.  I’m a husband, father, geek (retired), and patriot.  I’m a cheerleader to all my son’s activities, and I do my best as a support mechanism for my family.

Please tell us your latest news.
I, James, is Book Two in the Eternity Series.  You were nice enough to give me a blog post for Book One, I, Walter after its release.  I, James was released in September 2014, and currently has 14 reviews… half of which are 5 Star.   In November  2014, it hit #1 in historical fiction for Amazon.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? 
Writing time, for me, is an after-hours, when all the work is done, thing.  So, it’s sporadic.   But, it’s also my relax time, and I enjoy it very much.

When and why did you begin writing?
This particular series, The Eternity Series, I started writing about four years ago.  It wasn’t until after two years of dickering with the original manuscript that my editor and I went as far back as we could and found I, Walter waiting in the wings.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I, Walter is the first FICTION book I’ve written.  It was inspired by some information in history, and some family people that had done incredible things.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
Life.  Everything else. 

What are your thoughts about promotion?
Promotion is essential for the success of any endeavour.  It’s also the hardest part of r me as an author.  I’d much rather spend my evenings writing, and revising.   But, promotion is an essential part of marketing, and I’m trying very hard to get better at it.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
The toughest criticism about my writing, in general, is that some of my characters get a ‘free ride.’  They always seem to find a way through undesirable situations with having their mettle tested very hard. The biggest compliment is from returning readers.

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
Book Two, I think, had a little more to the characters.  But, it wasn’t a conscious effort.  I'm finding Book Three is very similar.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
 Writer’s block occurs regularly for all writers.  I view it as time for me to learn about some aspect that is stopping things from going forward. 

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I, James, I believe, is a story about the perseverance of the human soul.  Both James and Rosalind were put through many trials during their early years.  It’s a remarkable achievement to come through those trials with the character they both did.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is Eternity4Popsicle Publishing.  It is a self-pub company. I, Walter and the full Eternity series is its mandate.

What is your marketing plan?
My Marketing plan includes blog tours; being at book shows, kindle free days, and lots of signings in bookstores all over North America.

What are your current projects?
Book Three in the Eternity series is my current project.  It will be the end of the first of many trilogies in this Series.  And those who have had a first look have been happy with the content.

What do you plan for the future?
I don’t.  I write for the moment.  At the end of each book (or close to it) I learn of the key character for the next book (sometimes two books) and wait until they’re ready to tell their story.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
website: mikehartner.com
 Facebook.com/MHartnerAuthor
Twitter: @MHartnerAuthor

What genre do you write in and why? 
Historical Fiction, Romance, YA

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. 
I, James is the life story of James Crofter, the son of Walter Crofter.  It is the story of what happened after his capture in I, Walter.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?
Toward the end of I, Walter,  James chimed in that he wanted to tell his story.  It seemed appropriate considering his capture close to the end of I,Walter.  Hence, I, James.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
No, I bounce a few ideas and write them down on a white board.  Then, I let them spend a few days percolating before I write.

What comes first: the plot or characters?
Character.  Always.

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
In I, Walter  I loathed Gerald.  And with good reason.  In I, James, I have to say the character disliked the most had to be Rupert.  It is very, very difficult for me to believe why any person would try to kill or neglect their own children.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you?  Why or why not?
Writing for the young adult crowd, I never get too graphic.  But, I find that the reader’s mind imagines much more detail than any author is willing to use.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Getting the full story.

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process?
I, James took eleven months to write and edit.   To start the story, my muse introduced me to the main character.  A few days a week, I would stand at a whiteboard and write down what I thought was coming forward.   And then a few hours or days later, I would write.  And so it went.  Some days, I’d write new material, others I’d expand on what was already written. 
During the writing though, I needed to take some time off to mourn the loss of my father.  It took a lot out of me, and it delayed the release for several months.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?
The Eternity Series now has two books out:  I, Walter  and I, James.   I am planning, towards the end of June, to release Book Three in the series.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?
To write what they know about.  And to write a complete first draft before worrying about editing.  NaNoWriMo is fantastic for getting people to focus on the writing.

What do you do when you’re not writing? 
Everything.  I’m the family chauffeur, I’m the cheering squad for my son’s sports teams, I’m the grocer, and the gopher for the family.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
Authors.  I have read a diverse set of books over the past few years, in part because I’ve been able to get to know the authors.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
Incomplete endings.  I’m not talking about books that begin series.  They have an ending but leave questions for the next book and are satisfying anyway.  I’m referring to books where the ending seems to be slapped on after running out of steam.

What books have most influenced your life?
Victor Hugo’s books, The Three Musketeers, Citizen Kane, Count of Monte Cristo, all Shakespeare’s plays, and Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales.

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?
supportive, independent, father, husband, geek, patriot, Samaritan

Describe your writing space.
Comfortable seating, blankets and covers, pillows for back support, internet connection, light switch

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
The most favorite part has been reading and listening to reviews.  The least favorite part has been all of the marketing and promo work.  But, I have done it.




I, James is the second in a series of books in a saga which will span continents and time to arrive in present day North America. Each in the series will be connected, though that connection may not be obvious for several more books. It's almost like looking at a menorah (sic). Many lines, seemingly individual, connect to center at different points.



James Crofter was ripped from his family at age 11.
Within a year the prince was a pauper in a foreign land.
Is nature stronger than nurture? And even if it is, can James find the happiness he so richly desires?

 


Monday, June 22, 2015

SHARON TREGENZA, THE SHIVER STONE, #giveaway, #free ebook






NOTE:  Sharon would like to send a copy of her latest book THE SHIVER STONE to one lucky commenter.  Please be sure to leave contact information so Sharon can get in touch with the winner.


AUTHOR: SHARON TREGENZA
BOOK TITLE: THE SHIVER STONE
GENRE: MG MYSTERY
PUBLISHER: FIREFLY PRESS
BUY LINK: UK -- http://amzn.to/1Fxqs8L  (Paperback and Kindle)
US -- http://amzn.to/1Q4Spr4  (Paperback and Kindle)

1.     Please tell us about yourself.

Hi, I’m a British children’s author. I’ve lived in several countries and in many counties of the UK. I’m now in a converted Chapel in a village called Box near the historic city of Bath. I have a terrific family, some super friends and a neurotic dog called Reilly.
  
2.     What inspired you to write your first book?

I’d been writing and publishing children’s magazine stories for years but wanted to up the ante and try a book. I decided to go for the Kelpie’s Prize (a competition in the UK, for a MG book) I won. My MG Mystery “Tarantula Tide” also won a second award.

3.     Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned loads: I learned NOT to leave things to the last minute. I learned (for me) plotting is a must or I quickly get bogged down. I learned I can’t work without buckets of coffee and a bag of brazil nuts.

4.     Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

The publisher for my last book, Firefly Press, is in Wales and as my book “The Shiver Stone” was set there it seemed an obvious choice. They’ve been a real joy to work with – enthusiastic and helpful. There’s a party coming up soon and I’ll meet their other authors in person.

5.     What are your current projects?

I recently completed a second Masters degree -- this time in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. The book for my dissertation, another MG Mystery called “The Jewelled Jaguar” has been taken on by an agent and will be sent to publishers. I’m also working on two more MG mysteries.

6.     What do you plan for the future?

I plan to write more MG mysteries. I love the genre -- the plotting and layering with clues and red herrings adds another dimension. They’re so much fun to do.

7.     What are your thoughts about promotion?

I know it ‘s a necessary part of being an author these days but to begin with I found it hard, embarrassing even. Now I enjoy social media, especially Facebook, and the interaction has been fun as well as useful. I’ve “met” so many interesting authors of all genres. I’m going to a convention next month to learn a little more.

How can we find you?


1.     Why do you feel qualified to write a children’s book?

As I’ve already mentioned I wrote children’s magazine stories for years so it was a natural progression to write books. Also I think my reading brain was at it’s height when I was around 12. I read compulsively and the enchantment of that time has had a huge influence on my work.
  
2.     Do you outline before you write?

Yes. I have cork tiles stuck on the wall of my study -- they’re numbered to represent the chapters. It gives me the freedom to juggle and jiggle scenes before I write them down.

3.     What comes first the plot or the characters?

For me, as a mystery writer, it’s the plot. It has to have twists and turns and be strong enough to carry the story. 

4.     How do you decide how your characters should look?

This is an interesting question and I’m not sure I have an answer. I do make extensive character charts and through this the physical features emerge almost on their own. Charts help me establish a character’s idiosyncrasies too.

5.     Did your books require a lot of research?

As I love the odd and unusual all my books require a lot of research. For “The Shiver Stone” I looked at ancient standing stones, fox hunting and whelk fishing. For “The Jewelled Jaguar” the book I’ve just completed – historical workhouses, sinkholes, and Aztec sacrificial knives. I do enjoy a bit of research.

What books have most influenced your life?

“The Phantom Tollbooth” -- when I first discovered words could be twisted and turned, muddled and mixed and buckled and bent out of shape – wonderfully.

“Holes” – to my mind the most perfectly constructed book for kids and YA - ever.

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?

HAPPY
FUNNY (Well, I think I am – others may differ)
DETERMINED
OPTIMISTIC
CREATIVE
PASSIONATE AND COMPASSIONATE






Reviews by other children’s authors:

An unusual and original novel which hooks you in from the start. Young readers will enjoy this mysterious, lyrical adventure with a dark secret at its heart. -- Steve Voake

A heart-in-the-mouth adventure story, presided over by the mysterious Shiver Stone, with the gentle swoosh and crackle of the waves as its soundtrack. -- Sue Purkiss

Beautifully crafted, with a plot that perfectly balances family drama with mystery. The beaches of Pembrokeshire are a wonderful backdrop to adventure! -- Elen Caldecott

Review by one of Amazon’s top Children’s book reviewers:


Spirited twelve year old Carys endeavours to reveal the identity of an elusive visitor, who leaves intriguing sculptures on the beach overnight.

Yet, under the watchful eye of the Shiver Stone standing proud and mysterious on a cliff top overlooking the sea, she and her new friend, Jago, discover even more secrets and danger along the way. With an adorable Yorkshire terrier called Tia in tow – what more could anyone want!

This quickstep of a story offers a real adventure for children, there’s plenty going on from the moment you open the cover. It’s easy to conjure an instant picture in your mind of each character, which made this book a delight to read - and the ending was perfectly crafted.

An altogether great read.







Monday, June 15, 2015

Kristy Woodson Harvey, Dear Carolina


AUTHOR: Kristy Woodson Harvey
BOOK TITLE: Dear Carolina
GENRE: Women’s Fiction
PUBLISHER: Berkley/Penguin
BUY LINK: http://bit.ly/1KWQwwW, http://amzn.to/1yG4LkQ


Please tell us about yourself. 
Hi, everyone! Thanks so much for having me, Penny! I’m a wife and mom from North Carolina, and I am so excited to be a debut novelist as well! Writing is my passion, but I also love interior design, yoga, cooking, and, of course, reading!

Please tell us your latest news. 
I’m so excited because I have recently gotten a second book deal for a new novel that should be released toward the beginning of 2016.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? 
I’m technically a full-time mom, but my son is in pre-school four mornings a week now, so those three hours are a whirlwind! I’m a design blogger, (www.mydesignchic.com) have an author blog, regularly contribute to Houzz, Domino magazine and The Salisbury Post, and am always working on a novel, so that time is so precious! I have a wonderful husband who usually takes over daddy duty and affords me a little writing time on the weekends. Somehow it all works out, and it’s the perfect combination of getting to pursue my passions and still spend a ton of quality time with my little guy.

When and why did you begin writing? 
I think I’ve always been writing. I remember being small and carrying around notebooks writing stories. I had my first newspaper internship when I was sixteen, and I was hooked! I went to journalism school and fully intended to be a journalist. The novel writing was a bit of a surprise, but I am totally in love with it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them? 
My publisher is Berkley/Penguin, and I connected with them in a really fun way! I submitted Dear Carolina to the TARA writing contest, and I won. The final judge is my now editor. My agent was crucial in connecting all the dots between the win and deal, but it seemed like such a cool way to get a book deal. It was totally unexpected!

What do you plan for the future? 
I love freelance writing, so I’d like to keep exploring opportunities there, but, mostly, I want to do everything I can to keep writing novels and getting them published. Being an author is a dream come true, and I don’t want the dream to end!

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.? 



Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. 
Dear Carolina is written from a birth mother and adoptive mother about the ways their lives change in the year after the birth of their daughter. At it’s core, though, it’s really a story about two women and how they change each other’s lives completely.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process? 
No! I usually get an idea for a character and then a scene. And wherever that scene is, beginning middle or end, is where I begin. There’s a lot of shuffling chapters around after that!

What comes first: the plot or characters? 
The characters! I get the ideas for the characters and it’s like they write their own story. It’s amazing!

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process? 
When I’m concentrating on a new work in progress, I try to be very scheduled. I write 2,000 words a day, and it usually takes me about two months to get the draft down. But that’s the easy part! Then I edit for a couple of months. Then I start a new WIP and come back to the former one a couple of months later and edit all over again. It’s so fun for it to feel like a brand new book. I’ve forgotten some things and am surprised at different points.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release? 
My debut, Dear Carolina, came out May 5, 2015, and my second novel will be released some time early 2016.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out? 
You have to be dedicated, determined and a little creative on the road to publication. There’s going to be rejection along the way, but that ultimate “yes” feels so amazing!

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun? 
I will read anything. But, when I can’t put it down, I know I’m loving it!

Describe your writing space. 
This topic always makes me laugh. I have this beautiful desk at our house that my husband treated me to for my birthday, overlooking the water. But, in honesty, I write in the line for preschool pickup, in the front seat of the car when my son falls asleep unexpectedly, in Starbucks, in the library, on the couch… I am so fortunate that I can pretty much write anywhere, any time. If not, there’s no way I could make this work!


Thank you so much for letting me be a part of this wonderful series! I am so excited about the release of this novel and so grateful for the help in sharing it with the world!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Kevin Hopson, The Fire King



AUTHOR: Kevin Hopson
BOOK TITLE: The Fire King
GENRE: Young adult fantasy
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I would say part-time since I’m a stay-at-home dad and my writing comes and goes. However, when I do go into writing mode, it is very much a full-time job until I’m done with the project. Because I have a toddler at home, it can be difficult organizing my writing time. I’m most productive in the morning, when given the chance, but most of my writing has to be done at night after my son goes to bed.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

I love to read and watch movies. I’m also a big sports fan, particularly soccer, and enjoy spending some of my downtime with family.

What are your thoughts about promotion?

I’m not an overly-aggressive promoter, but it’s something that has to be done if you’re going to get the word out and market yourself. I like to use social media, book clubs, blog tours, contest giveaways and general word-of-mouth to promote my works.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?

The toughest criticism probably came with my first short story, World of Ash. I have grown so much as a writer and person in the last few years, and I see many things that could be changed for the better with my earlier works. Anyway, a review site absolutely destroyed the book, citing issues with both the characters and plot. At the same time, another review site gave it a glowing review and recommended it as one of their top picks. As a result, it just goes to show that you can’t please everyone as a writer.

I always use criticism and praise as means of improving my writing. However, I have a certain style of writing, which I won’t change for anyone. It’s who I am, like it or not.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

MuseItUp Publishing is my publisher. I came across the company when they were a fledgling several years ago. I didn’t have any luck placing a couple of my short stories, so I submitted both of them to MuseItUp. They found homes with MuseItUp, and I’ve been with the company ever since.

What are your current projects?

I just finished edits on a story that’s different from anything I’ve ever written. It’s based on my personal experience with loss. More specifically, the loss of my first son, Aydin. I’ve already received a lot of positive feedback from editors and others who have read the story, which is titled Delivering Jacob. It has a little bit of everything in it…mystery, romance, crime, action, and thrills. I’m also working on edits for a prequel/spin-off to The Fire King, which touches on the early days of Modrad the dwarf.

What do you plan for the future?

I have yet to write my first full-length novel, so that’s still on my bucket list. In the meantime, I’m pretty happy writing shorter pieces, and I want to start submitting more stories for anthologies and magazines as well.

What genre do you write in and why?

I write in several genres, including dark fiction, science fiction and fantasy, and crime fiction. Though I started out writing a lot of dark fiction, I have gotten away from that genre a little bit to expand my mind and my writing. As long as there’s a good story to tell, I figure I can write in just about in genre.

What is your experience working or being around children or teens?

I have a toddler of my own along with three nieces and two nephews. I’ve also coached high school sports. Though I’m far from an expert on kids, my experiences with them have helped when it comes to writing for them. 

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?

Sometimes I put stuff down on paper and other times I don’t. If I outline, I typically do it in my head, and I rarely have an entire story planned out from beginning to end. I’ve noticed that my stories can take some really interesting turns if I let them play out naturally, as opposed to outlining everything from the beginning.

What comes first: the plot or characters?

Plot almost always comes first, at least when brainstorming. This doesn’t mean I put more emphasis on plot than characters when actually writing. It just means I need an idea before thinking about which characters I want to include in a story. I’m not the type who has to build a story around characters. It’s usually the other way around with me.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

A good, page-turning story. Even if a book picks up the pace later on or has a great ending, I might not read that far if it starts out slow. I want something that grabs my attention from the very beginning and doesn’t let up.  

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?


Lack of editing. I can’t stand reading a story where I’m constantly being distracted by typos, bad grammar, etc. Even if the plot and/or characters are good, poor editing is enough to turn me away.



Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

The Fire King is a young adult fantasy novella. The following is a blurb for it.

The planet Oabrora faces a perpetual winter after a human mage, Vico, causes all of the volcanos in the dragon homeland of Jifihx to erupt. Three dragon siblings—Mianth, Tulvir, and Hirador—survive the blast and set out on a journey to bring Vico to justice. However, when they cross paths with two humans, they discover a far worse enemy than Vico.  

Monday, June 1, 2015

Melanie Abed, Anni Moon & The Elemental Artifact





AUTHOR: Melanie Abed           
BOOK TITLE: Anni Moon & The Elemental Artifact
GENRE: Middle Grade/Tween, Fantasy/Adventure
PUBLISHER: Oculus Print
BUY LINK:


Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? I am mostly a full-time writer, however, life gets in the way from time to time. For example, we just moved recently and that was a massive disrupter. How, when, and where I write depends on what I’m doing. If I’m brainstorming, or working on outlines, I like to be in energetic environments like coffee shops. I usually write in the afternoon and evenings. I wish I was the kind of writer that was up before the sun, pen in hand, but that’s not me at all. I tend to be more of a night owl; I find I can focus better on edits during the evening, without the chaos that ensues during the day. Strangely I enjoy writing during rainy weather, somehow it helps narrow my focus, too, but in Los Angeles those odds are usually slim to none, especially now that we are in a drought.

When and why did you begin writing? Anni Moon has been a character floating around in my head for over a decade before I started writing about her.  Growing up I wanted to read a story about a tough spunky girl who was not only brave and fearless in the face of adventure. I wrote her story because it was a story that I absolutely needed to tell. Over the years, bits and pieces of the story were cobbled together after writing and rewriting the entire book a few times. I guess you could say that I’ve been in love with stories from the moment my Grandmother started reading them to me, and I believe it was that love that inspired me to want to write as w­ell. So, actually I should thank my most wonderful, amazing Grandma, Myrtle, for her love of stories, too.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment? The toughest criticism came on my first novel, ten years ago, when I was told I needed to start over and write from scratch. That was very hard to hear at the time, but extremely necessary advice. That novel was awful, and needed a lot of work, but at the same time it taught me so much. Back then, I discovered that there are certain rules to writing, and some that are extremely necessary to employ in certain kinds of genres. Sometimes I wished I learned these rules earlier, but that’s not how writing works, is it? I’ve been very fortunate to get some really lovely compliments on Anni Moon, lots of references to some of my favorite authors, which is so wonderful to hear, but truth be told I don’t let it go to my head. I think the most important thing about writing is shielding yourself from both positive and negative reviews and just focusing on the story at hand, because that’s what’s important.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it? I don’t really believe in writers block, so I don’t like to give it any credence. So long as I have a good writing system in place, and a few writing projects to constantly work on, I stay super busy. Daydreaming for me is a huge part of the writing process.

What are your current projects? I am currently working on Anni Moon’s second book, as well as two companion books, which are part of the series, too. After that, I have a few book projects that I’m working on: a younger aged chapter book, an adult mystery, and possibly two Sci-Fi stories.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. Anni Moon & The Elemental Artifact is a modern day fantasy, action-adventure, with a dash of mystery, for readers aged 10 to 100. It’s a story about friendship, and two girls who will do whatever it takes to save the other. Additionally, it is a book about diversity. I intentionally created a world that had few borders with lots of racially diverse characters, defined by their personalities rather than the color of their skin or their gender. This is the first book in a planned series of at least six full-length novels, with some additional companion books along the way (because the Elemental world is a vast one!).

What genre do you write in and why? I write in the Mystery, Fantasy, Adventure genres, mostly because that’s what I enjoy reading. I’m also a huge fan of Science Fiction, too, not to mention a really big Star Wars nut, so I suppose it goes without saying that there are a few Sci-fi inspired elements floating around in the overall series.

Why do you feel qualified to write a children’s or teen novel?
Ha ha ha, that’s a great question! I wonder if anyone ever thinks they are qualified to write a children’s or teen novel. It certainly took me a long time to have the courage to put my story out into the world, but I think that the decade long research of children’s lit made me feel a bit more confident. 

What books have most influenced your life? What influences your writing?
 I’ve long been an admirer of Charles Dickens and primarily I would say that it was his work that had inspired me the most. I’m an incredible fan of his book David Copperfield. When I started to reread Charles Dickens’ novels as an adult, I truly became inspired to write a story.
A few other favorite authors are: Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett, Chris Wooding, and J.K. Rowling.

Is this your first published children’s work? What other types of writing have you done? This is my first published children’s work. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I was published in a Medical Journal after completing my Master’s program in Psychology.

Why did you choose to write a children’s book? I’ve been reading and researching Children’s Middle Grade literature from both the UK and the US for well over a decade, which my husband jokes was my own personal masters program. I particularly love stories made for this age range, and the stories often contain messages of hope, highlight courage and bravery, admirable morals, etc. that even adults need to be reminded of from time to time.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? The most challenging aspect of writing has been balancing what the reader needs to know, especially introducing the Elemental fantasy world, and striving to create an engaging plot that pushes the story forward.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
What comes first: the plot or characters? Before writing this story, the characters and the general concept came first, then I plot and outline. I knew Anni & Lexi’s characters almost instinctively, and I could see Waterstone Academy. As a child, I lived in the Edgewater, just like Anni does, and I imagined that there was a secret portal door to another world; these early imaginings greatly influenced certain aspects of this story. 

How did you decide how your characters should look? I intentionally created an ethnically mixed cast of characters. Growing up as a kid in Chicago, I was surrounded by a group of children from different countries so when I started thinking about my cast it came naturally to emphasize their diversity. It has been so interesting getting feedback from readers regarding the characters and how they imagined them in their minds and how the illustrations often match, or are entirely different.

What do you do when you’re not writing? I am an avid gardener, and butterfly enthusiast. I’ve been growing butterfly gardens for some years now, but this past year my husband and I raised 150 Monarch butterflies. My husband and I were very excited about this and have decided to create a small book to teach people how to do this, too.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun? Generally, I look for stories that completely transport the reader, because I want to totally disappear into that story’s world. Also, I love books that make me think. I enjoy solving mysteries, and sort of hate it when I’ve figured things out long before the reveal. Most recently this happened with a highly acclaimed author’s book which, by the way, was excellent, but the author revealed one clue, almost too soon in the plot, and from then I knew who the killer was. However, knowing that wasn’t so bad, because the book was still a fun read.


What seven words would you use to describe yourself? Does my Meyer-Briggs test count?  I’m an INFJ, to a tee, but you want only seven words? Okay, here you go: Conscientious, Big-Picture Person, Intuitive, Abstract, Complex, Independent, and Adaptable.



Short Synopsis:
Anni doesn’t know about Elementals, Funk, Zephyrs, excited talking Bat-Rat creatures, and, least of all, Dragons. When her best friend is kidnapped, they are both pulled into the Elemental world where all this is normal. In a race against time, Anni must master this new world and save Lexi, all while knowing there’s no return to her old life. But saving her friend could cost Anni more than she’s bargained for.