Maria Savva's Blog

June 25, 2016

I've been following Shelley Wilson on Twitter for a while. She's very friendly and supportive. She divides her time between fiction and non-fiction writing. I haven't read her books yet, but have heard about her YA fantasy trilogy. It sounds great. I invited Shelley here for a chat to find out more about her writing.


Welcome to my blog, Shelley! Thank you for joining me. Please introduce yourself.

Hi Maria, thank you so much for inviting me over for a chat. My name is Shelley Wilson, and I live in Solihull in the West Midlands with my three teenage children, a fat fish, and a loopy black cat called Luna.


I write non-fiction for adults in the self-help and personal development genre as well as young adult fantasy fiction - I’m like the Jekyll and Hyde of the book world! My background is in Holistic Health, so the self-help books are a bit like my day job role. Writing my young adult books is pure self-satisfaction. I might be in my mid-forties, but I’m a huge YA fan.

Tell us about your latest book.

Just recently, my non-fiction book has been getting a lot of airtime. I was incredibly fortunate to appear in the June issue of Writers’ Forum Magazine, and around the same time, I hit the number one spot on Amazon’s bestseller list for self-help and women’s fiction. All of this is fabulous news, but it also means that my poor fiction books get overlooked. So, to put this right, I’m going to share my YA news with your readers.

My Guardian Series is a fantasy trilogy based around the protagonist, Amber Noble. She is a sixteen-year-old Oracle, who has a ton of special powers thrust upon her and struggles to cope. She never believed in magic, so it’s all a bit much for her to accept. Her family is spread across the realms, and her BFF is kidnapped by supernatural soldiers. It’s tough being a teenager! She embarks on a series of quests throughout the books, getting caught up with witchcraft, faeries and demons as she saves friends and family, and vanquishes evil along the way. The final instalment, Guardians of the Lost Lands, comes out in November and goes much deeper and darker than the first two – I’m really excited about this one as we find Amber clinging to her sanity as the reader is taken on a whirlwind of emotion and action.

Guardians of the Dead (Book 1)
Guardians of the Sky (Book 2)
Guardians of the Lost Lands (Book 3)

Here’s the blurb for Guardians of the Dead (book 1):

One girl holds the key to an ancient pact that could destroy the world…

When sixteen-year-old Amber Noble’s dreams begin to weave into her reality, she turns to the mysterious Connor for help. His links to the supernatural world uncover a chilling truth about her hometown and a pact that must be re-paid with blood.

As her father alienates her, and the Guardians take her best friend, her true destiny unfolds, and she begins a quest that will see her past collide with her present.

Drawn deeper into the world of witchcraft and faeries, it is only at the end of her journey that she realises how much she could lose.

How long did it take you to write your last book?

For all three books in the trilogy, I used NaNoWriMo to pen the first draft. For anyone who doesn’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, an online competition to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I love this competition as I’m a bit of a deadline freak. I block out chunks of my day in the diary and write consistently. Even my family and friends know that I’m ‘unavailable for comment’ during November!

I only use NaNo to write the first draft – without this, I wouldn’t have anything to work with. It then takes me a couple of months to do the re-writes and edits. Book one was written in nine days; book two took me thirteen days, and the final instalment took me just over twenty days. I’ve already plotted out the next book I want to write for this year.

You're a fast writer!

What’s your favourite genre to read?

When I was a teenager, I would devour my dad’s Wilbur Smith books and steal my mum’s Mills & Boon novels.

Hahaha, I went through the Mills & Boon phase too. I think I read them all in my teens :)

As I hit my twenties, I went through a horror phase and lapped up anything written by James Herbert.

Ooh... I did that too!

At each stage in my life, I seem to have read books that weren’t aimed at the age I was at that time, and never more so than when I reached my mid-thirties and discovered young adult books. It was Maggie Stiefvater who initially hooked me in with her Shiver series which was about werewolves. For as long as I can remember I have had a fascination with the supernatural, mythology, and science-fiction and fantasy, so to discover a vast array of books on these very topics was delightful. The coming of age element is easy to read, and as I have a Peter Pan complex, it helps me to keep my teenage mind alive inside the forty-four-year-old body!

LOL I'm like that too. I like a good fantasy book. They're great for the imagination, I think :)

Young adult books don’t waffle. You are thrown straight into the action and tend to be swept along at breakneck speed. There is normally plenty of action, some PG snogging, and the good guy always wins. As ‘real life’ frightens the hell out of me, I’m quite thankful that I can escape into an alternate reality.

The passion I have for reading YA fantasy highlighted the need to write my own teenage books. Its development over the years is exciting, and I look forward to seeing what happens next for this genre.

Who does your cover design? Is there anyone you’d recommend?

Twitter is a wonderful place to meet people from the writing community and it’s thanks to this social media platform that I met my publishing partner, Blue Harvest Creative. I call them ‘publishing partner’ because they do so much more than just design my covers. These guys are fabulous to work with, taking your synopsis and turning it into a living and breathing product – I adore my YA covers and have received so many compliments about them – I can’t wait to see what book three will look like in November.

BHC not only create award winning cover designs but they also produce enchanting chapter headers for the interior, taking the theme of your book right the way through. BHC also provide Facebook and Twitter banners for your book launch, a full formatting service, and they can provide merchandising such as bookmarks and mugs, etc. They are hugely supportive of independent authors and have a dedicated author site. BHC is a full-service company who I would highly recommend –

What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?

I wrote a blog post dedicated to this particular question a while ago – it’s one of my most popular posts. I’m fortunate to have three amazing young adults under my roof; my eldest son is 18, middle son is 15, and my daughter is 14. It’s certainly come in handy when I needed to ask a YA related question! However, being a teenager, and especially a 16-year-old in this day and age is a tough job. We didn’t have the lure of social media twenty-four-seven when I was 16, in fact, we only had five television channels and if you needed to call your mum for a lift then you’d have to use the big red phone box on the corner of the street!

LOL It's amazing how fast technology has advanced, isn't it?

I offer my daughter plenty of advice on a daily basis. Some of it she accepts with grace, but most of it only gets me an eye-roll. One piece of advice I do repeat often – and this is something I wish someone had told me when I was younger – is to be yourself! Don’t let anyone force you into doing something you don’t want to do, or be someone you don’t want to be.

That is excellent advice

It’s far too easy for teenagers to be swayed by the group (more so for girls I think) but staying true to who you are is the best strategy. I love the quote, ‘In a world of Kardashians, be a Helena Bonham Carter.’

What social media sites can you most often be found on?

Too many! I love social media. As a fairly sociable character, it gives me endless opportunities to meet new people, chat with old friends, and talk about topics that interest me with like-minded people. The writing and blogging community is fantastic, especially as I don’t have any other writer friends in my local area. There’s only so much ‘book talk’ my kids will put up with!


I’m incredibly active on Twitter where I’ve made some wonderful friends. On Facebook, I have three pages - one is personal, one is for my motivational blog (, and the other is my YA Fantasy Author page ( I love the YA page as my followers are really interactive, and we have a lot of fun. I spend equal amounts of time on Twitter and Facebook as they provide my highest referrals to my blog and Amazon pages.

I love Pinterest, but don’t use it for business yet. I tend to create a board for every new book I write and pin all my character and scene inspiration to it. It’s nice to share this with my YA audience when I’m getting ready to launch a book.

I’ve recently joined Instagram to try and engage with my YA audience, but I got sidetracked by the incredible book bloggers and the gorgeous images they post! I need to sort my account out and stop drooling over all the ‘shelfies’.

I think I'm one of the only people who hasn't joined Instagram yet... it's on my to-do list

My kids have banned me from using Snapchat, but Terry Tyler told me that this is the place to be for my target audience – I wonder if I could sneak on without my kids knowing?


I’ve also looking into Tumblr but can’t quite get my head around it. I do have a LinkedIn account but rarely look at it.

Not sure if it’s classed as a social media site but I do enjoy popping on Goodreads and joining in with some of the discussions. I’ve found tons of great books on this site.

If you could invite 3 writers (past or present) to dinner, who would you invite and what would you cook?

I love this question! I’ve had to write a list and then methodically cut people until I’m left with my final three – I clearly have far too much time on my hands! Firsts off I would have to invite J.K.Rowling; as a single mum and lover of magic, I think the two of us would have a lot to talk about. Then I’d ask Joss Whedon to attend so I can try and convince him to write another Vampire Slayer television series. Finally, I would invite the late James Herbert so I could find out all his horror writing tricks. What would I cook? Hmm, could be tricky as my pièce de résistance is probably fish fingers, chips, and beans. I’d probably order pizza for delivery – more time to chat if I’m not stuck in the kitchen!

Thank you so much for letting me join you on your blog, Maria, it’s been great fun.

Thanks for being a fabulous guest, Shelley. I'm looking forward to reading your books.

Author links:

Goodreads YA:
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Published on June 25, 2016 07:03 • 286 views • Tags: author-interview, fantasy, guardians-series, interview, non-fiction, s-l-wilson, self-help, shelley-wilson, ya

June 23, 2016

I recently connected with Maria Nestorides on Twitter. She promotes her short stories there, so I read a few of them and enjoyed them immensely. She's a very talented writer who is skilled at drawing the reader into a story and weaving entertaining, realistic tales.

I wanted to find out more about Maria and her writing, so invited her along to my blog for a chat.


Hello, Maria. Welcome to my blog. Please introduce yourself.

I had a very interesting childhood because my family relocated every couple of years. I’m of Greek-Cypriot and Greek descent but was born in London, grew up in various places in the Middle East, went to university in New York and now live in Cyprus.

That's a lot of moving around :)

I’d like to believe that I’ve become quite adaptive in my approach to life because of moving around so much. I am happily married and have two teenage children, a pet dog, and a full time job, which leaves precious little time for writing (or anything else, for that matter). Despite that, I’ve written quite a few short stories, managed to complete an MA in Creative Writing in 2011 from Lancaster University and I have a romance/suspense novel in progress (that is taking far too long to complete) which is set in Morocco and is set on a rose farm.

That novel sounds interesting. Hurry up and finish it, so I can read it :)

Do you have a day job or write full time?

I work full time but try to make time every day for my writing, which is more often than not, very difficult to do. I also go through some phases when, whatever I do, there doesn’t seem to be any time to write or even think about writing. I then have to discipline myself, get my act together, and start again. I believe that we can achieve anything we really, really desire, as long as we put our mind to it.

It is very hard to find time to write with a day job. I often find myself staying up too late and regretting it in the morning!

What’s your favourite genre to read?

My favourite genre to read is romance, although fantasy comes in a very close second. I love the emotions that a good book can provoke and being swept away in that fantasy world. I know I’ve got a good read ahead of me when I can’t wait to get my hands on the book at any opportunity I have. That’s the reason I read most of my books digitally: my book is available to me anywhere, anytime.

What’s the best time of day for you to write?

Early morning, when my brain is alert and I’m still fresh and raring to go. I’m a morning person as far as getting anything done, goes. By the time the evening comes, I’m ready to call it quits and just vegetate on the sofa with my book.

Hahaha! I'm the complete opposite. I often write late into the night.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what type?

I do! I love listening to music when I write, and actually create playlists for each story I work on. The type of music I listen to depends on the story and sometimes, even what part of the story I’m writing. Sometimes, if the particular part of the story I’m writing is upbeat, I’ll listen to something happy, but other times when there’s a lot of emotion brewing around I’ll listen to something mellow or even sad. But most definitely music plays a big part in my writing process. Right now, for my novel-in-progress, I’ve created a playlist on Spotify that I keep adding more songs to as I go. For this story, I’m listening to songs that are gut-wrenchingly emotional.

Wow. That is really fascinating. It definitely seems that music is part of your creative process. Awesome. I can't listen to music when I write, I get too distracted by it and start singing along or dancing LOL :)

Apart from writing, what are your favourite pastimes?

I love spending time with my husband and kids. I’m very aware that I’ve only got a short period of time with my kids until they leave home and go off into the world to begin their own lives, so I really milk it whenever I can.

I also love reading, listening to music and singing in the car. I enjoy spending time with friends, I love a good meal and a glass of wine (or two), and I also really enjoy meditating and getting in touch with my spiritual side.

What’s your favourite book, and why is it your favourite?

I can’t say that I have one favourite book, but ranked among my all-time favourite books are The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho (The reason I love this book is that it makes me see the ‘bigger picture’ of things and it helps me leave that little everyday bubble that I sometimes get trapped in).

We have that book in common :) I've often said that The Alchemist is the book that inspired me to write my first novel. It's a wonderful story, isn't it? So simply written but with so much depth. I really think it's a life-changing book.

Also, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (because I’m given the opportunity to live in a world where nothing is what it seems, animals can speak and anything is possible).

The Chronicles of Narnia were among my favourite childhood books :)

...and the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling (because I can be Hermione and unlock doors with a wave of my magic wand “Alohomora!” and fight shoulder to shoulder with Harry while riding on a thestral).

I've never read any Harry Potter (probably the only person in the world who hasn't!)

I also adore Lisa Kleypas’s historical romance books because I love being swept away by a love that is all-consuming. She is always my favourite go-to romance author when I need my romance fix.

I've never heard of her. Will have to check out some of her books :)

What type of music do you prefer to listen to?

I love music so much that I don’t think there’s a type of music I can honestly say I don’t like. What makes a piece of music or a song stand out for me is the depth of emotions it elicits in me, that spine-tingling feeling. That’s the key. It might be the melody or it might be the words (although, more often than not it’s the melody that haunts me and makes me want to listen to a song over and over again). But in general, if you scan through my playlists you’ll find an extremely diverse variety of musical styles.

I'm like that too, I have quite diverse tastes in music although I lean more towards Heavy Metal and Rock.

When writing a novel or story, do you think word count is important? If so, what is the ideal length?

The only reason that I would say that word count is important is because it is so important to be able to write what you want to say with economy and by that, I mean, every word should be absolutely necessary. That’s why I love writing short stories. It makes me think about every word, every sentence, every paragraph, and whether it is absolutely necessary.

Very true.

What do you enjoy most about the writing process?

What I enjoy most about the writing process is also the part that frustrates me most, almost as if it’s the flip side to the same coin. I love that when I start creating a story, it takes on a life of its own. On the other hand, sometimes it breaks away from my control and takes me on such major detours, that I have trouble finding my way back!

Hahaha! :)

It's been wonderful to find out more about you, Maria. Thanks so much for joining me today and answering my questions. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work.


Author links:


Google Plus:



You can find Maria's stories at the following links:

Story Shack:

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Published on June 23, 2016 05:06 • 441 views • Tags: author-interview, fiction, maria-nestorides, short-stories

June 22, 2016

D.G. Torrens is an author that I've been following on social media for a few years. She's very friendly and supportive. Although I haven't read any of her fiction, it's on my to-do list. I've heard a lot of good things about her writing and she also has a bestselling novel to her name.

When I was setting up my author interview blog series, I was keen to invite Dawn Torrens so I could find out more about her writing.

A quote by D.G. Torrens: "If you close your eyes, you can be anywhere you wish to be." 

D.G. Torrens lives by the motto, "The child first and foremost."


Hi Dawn! Welcome to my blog. Please introduce yourself.

My name is, D.G. Torrens I am a full time author and an occasional, Headline Reviewer for BBC Radio WM 95.6 FM. I have written and published 13 books of various romantic genres over the past six years, including bestselling Amelia's Story: A Childhood Lost. I was born in Yorkshire, England. I currently live in Birmingham. I am married with a seven-year-old daughter, who is my entire world! My very first book, "Amelia's Story" has inspired people all over the world. And continues to do so. 

I am a prolific writer and in 2013, my works were recognised by BBC Radio WM, where I gave my first live interview on air in the BBC studios in Birmingham, UK. Since that interview I am now a regular on the show… lending my time as a Headline reviewer once or twice a week.

That's very impressive! I'll have to try to listen in to that!

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from many different areas of my life, it could be a dream I had the night before, which sows the seed of a story in my mind. One of my books, Broken Wings, was born from a dream!

That's fascinating. I know another author who has had entire stories come to her in dreams, Julie Elizabeth Powell. I don't think any of my stories have come to me that way, although dreams have featured quite a lot in my books because I sometimes have precognitive dreams and have always been interested in the meaning of dreams. I've occasionally had songs come to me in dreams, but never remember the music or lyrics well enough to do anything about it! :)

What else inspires your writing?

I may read a news article, or take a simple walk in the park, inspiration can come from anywhere or anything if you walk through life with your eyes wide open.

I pay attention to my surroundings and current affairs issues. All of which provide me with inspiration.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

My first piece of advice would be, NEVER GIVE UP! If you have a dream then pursue it regardless of what others think. Remember it is your dream not theirs.

Secondly, no matter how good you think you are at editing your own work – always hire a professional editor and proof reader. Your work will one day be up for public viewing and you want those all-important reviews to be in favour of you not against you. I cannot stress enough the importance of this. Remember, it is your reputation on the line so you want your work to be as word perfect as it can be.

Thirdly, good writers are also avid readers too. Read and read as often as you can. See how other successful authors form their stories, introduce their characters and back stories. Pay attention to the flow and movement of their story. You will be surprised how much you can learn yourself as an aspiring writer by reading great author works.

Great advice, Dawn

Do you have any promotion tips? Any websites that you can recommend?

Ah… Promotion, promotion, promotion – very important. This advice is for new and aspiring authors. If people don’t know about your book or books how will you receive sales? So, use your FB fan page to offer monthly giveaways to your fans. (If you do not have one, create one now even if your book is not yet published). Get the word out about your debut novel, create interest before it is published and get people excited about it… People love giveaways, so offer a special new release giveaway to help generate interest. This will encourage word to spread about your book and your author name too. Your author name is your brand. That is what you have to build on. Offer your Kindle book up for free occasionally (you need to be enrolled into Amazons KDP programme for this) or reduce the price to 99p or 99c. There are many book promotional sites out there, which have thousands of avid readers on their mailing lists just waiting to be notified about discounted and free books. This is a great way to get your unheard of book and name out there into the big world. Sites such as BookBub have millions of subscribers. They are very picky and you may have to be patient and submit your book several times over a period of time before they accept you. They are costly though, so you would need to budget for their promotions, but trust me they are so worth it and can get your book into the hands of 20, 30 and 40 thousand readers in one day. There are other smaller and cheaper sites too, such as: Robin reads, Freebooksy, Bargainbooksy, Booksends, Ereader News Today, Digital Book Today, Kindle Promos, Armadillo Books, Pixel of Ink, Indie Book Today, Adnetwork and many more… Look them up and familiarise yourself with them and their submission process and costs, this will help you once you are published and prepare you for your first promotion. Also, set up your own website, this is your very own promotional platform. Make it interesting and not too cluttered. People want to be able to navigate your site with ease otherwise they will not visit it again. The main important thing to remember is you have to speculate to accumulate, so budget for promotional costs monthly based on what you can afford, even if it is as little at £10 per month. Make sure you promote, whether big or small as you need to grow your brand and get the word out about your brand – YOUR NAME! Hope this is helpful to new and aspiring authors.

That is all very helpful, Dawn. Thank you.

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest release is called FORBIDDEN. This is a romantic suspense novel, which also touches on real life happenings. This book was a challenge for me in many ways as I was writing about two characters from two entirely different cultures who fall in love against their families’ wishes. Jessica, is white British and Ajay is Hindu. The obstacles their parents place in their path is incredible. The parents are both, strict, traditional Hindus and strict traditional Christians. Both sets of parents do not believe in interracial relationships or marriages of any kind. Thus, making the protagonists relationship very difficult. There is death, near death and tragic circumstances along the way in this emotion-charged love story against the odds…

Are there any characters in your books that are based on real people?

Ha,ha… Oh indeed, yes! I know so many interesting characters in my real life that occasionally one or two of them make their way into my books!

How much research do you do when writing a book?

I do tons of research for each and every book I write. If there is a medical condition that my characters get and I do not know much about it, then I research it to death. I also talk to people I know that may suffer from the same condition to get clarity. Research is so important. You have to know what you are talking about. Because if you don’t, some reader somewhere will pick up on it…I spend a third of my time researching. I love it and gain much knowledge from it too. I am learning about things all the time that I otherwise would not know about such as, places, medical conditions, trauma units, investigations and the process of all these subjects. I also have many methods of research. I try to write about things I have much knowledge about, however, when you write a lot of books you do have to broaden your horizon.

That's very true. I like that fact that I often learn lots of new things when writing a novel :)

Who does your cover design? Is there anyone you’d recommend?

I have two cover designers, they are both incredible and each of them has their own special area of expertise and they are, Ares Jun and David C Cassidy. They are truly amazing cover designers and I would highly recommend them. They are the face of my stories and they convey through their designs perfectly what my stories are about…

Apart from writing, what are your favourite pastimes?

My favourite pastimes are: Jogging, walking, spending lots of time with my daughter and family. I take part in a lot of charity runs at least 4 times a year for, Birmingham Children’s Hospital and cancer research, through organisations like, Race for life and The Great Morrison’s Run. Jogging clears my head and I come up with some great ideas while I am out jogging.

Ah, yes, I've seen a few of those pictures of your charity runs on FB! Very worthwhile causes.

Thank you so much for joining me here today, Dawn. It was great to find out more about you.


Websites and links:

FB author page:
Twitter: @Torrenstp
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Published on June 22, 2016 01:56 • 890 views • Tags: amelia-s-story, author-interview, d-g-torrens, fiction, forbidden, interview, novels

June 20, 2016

I have been a fan of Lisette Brodey's books for a few years now. Lisette is a talented author who has written many novels. I've particularly enjoyed her novels Crooked Moon and Squalor, New Mexico.

("Squalor, New Mexico" is currently on sale at 99c until 1st July 2016)

Whether she is writing Young Adult fiction, Chick Lit, or general fiction, Lisette's books are always full of realistic characters, and her writing is entertaining and thought-provoking.

She recently joined us as a contributing author for the Mind's Eye series. Her short stories in Triptychs are fantastic.

I always know when I start reading a book by this author that it will keep me interested. I've read most of her books and each one has something special.

I invited her here for a chat about her writing.


Hi Lisette, welcome to my blog! Thanks for joining me here. Please introduce yourself.

My name is Lisette Brodey. I’m the multi-genre author of six books: Crooked Moon; Squalor, New Mexico; Molly Hacker Is Too Picky!; and The Desert Series, a YA Paranormal trilogy that includes: Mystical High, Desert Star, and Drawn Apart.

Originally, from a suburb of Philadelphia, I have lived in New York City and now live, for the second time, in Los Angeles. (It’s a long story!)

Are there any characters in your books that are based on real people?

There isn’t one character in any of my books who is based on one specific person. There are many characters who have the traits of people I know or who are hybrids of real people and/or my imagination. Even if I were to start a book and write a character as a specific person, it wouldn’t be long before the character would take over and his or her unique personality would emerge.

When writing a novel or story, do you think word count is important? If so, what is the ideal length?

I’m glad you asked this, Maria. Like many areas of publishing, proper word count is one area in which there are many opinions and no definitive answer. I believe, for the most part, that a story is finished when the author is done telling it as it should be told. I’m not a fan of arbitrary word counts: If a book is in X genre, it should be X number of words. Yes, there may be suggested word counts that serve as guides, but I’ve seen so many cases where an author was told to cut 20K from a book not because it was long and rambling, but for the sole purpose of being X number of words.

I totally agree, Lisette.

Do you have a preferred writing space?

Yes, it is up on a mountain in Malibu overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is beautiful, quiet, and there is nothing to interrupt my thoughts or tangle with my creativity. Even when the gulls pass, they just wave and keep going. Unfortunately, this is my preferred spot and it does not exist in my life.

Hahahaha! I would like that spot too!

I write at my desk in the living room. However, I often take my laptop to a quieter place where I don’t see anything but the screen. Often, this does help me to focus much better.

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is Drawn Apart. It’s the third book in The Desert Series. While this series is classified as YA Paranormal, I see it more as a coming-of-age series (spanning six years) with paranormal elements. The stories deal with real-life issues (bullying, parental abandonment, mental illness etc.). Each of the three novels can be read as standalone books, although they are written to be read as a series.

Drawn Apart is the most romance-oriented book in the trilogy with themes of friendship, true love, soulmates, poetry, and past lives.

Each novel is published separately, but The Desert Series is available as a boxed set on Kindle, too.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

First: Write the story you really want to tell. Don’t write for a particular market because it’s “hot” right now. Write your passion.

Second: Don’t show your WIP to everyone you know. Why? You’ll get so many different reactions that it will confuse you and very likely mess with your confidence. If you are a person who likes to share as you write (which I’m usually not), be judicious.

Third: Do not rush to publication! Take the time to make your work the best it can be. Don’t skimp on editing, proofreading, or cover design. Even on a next-to-nothing budget, there are ways to make things work. By networking with other authors, reading blogs, and being active on social media, you can get a lot of terrific advice.

Great advice, Lisette.

What type of music do you prefer to listen to?

My favorite genre of music is R&B. There’s no one I enjoy more than Marvin Gaye. I also listen to a lot of show music, pop/rock, and sometimes classical. I also love a lot of music that is outside of my usual genres. For example, I just love listening to Evanescence with Amy Lee. That said, I do not listen to music while writing. Once in a while, if I have to drown out noise around me, I can write with classical music playing.

Where are your books on sale?

All of my books are on Additionally, they can all be read for free for members of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Maria.

It's been a pleasure, Lisette!


Author links:

Molly Hacker website:

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June 9, 2016

I met Joe Schwartz online a few years ago. He writes dark and gritty stories that will appeal to anyone who gangster tales, crime fiction, and stories about the darker side of life. I recently heard that he had a new release, so I thought it would be nice to invite him here to chat about his writing.


Hi Joe! Thanks for visiting my blog. Please introduce yourself

My name is Joe Schwartz and I write fiction for men which women seem to love. If I had to name what I do I'd call it transgressive fiction as the heroes in my stories usually abide by illegal or illicit means to achieve their goals. That said, my stories are filled with lots of cursing, drinking, drugs, and sex!

Where does your inspiration come from?

I get ideas from eavesdropping in public places like bathrooms and restaurants and standing in long lines at movie theaters, the news both print and TV, and occasionally from a family member. I've met a whole bunch of cops that love my stuff and who have refused to believe some of my stories are just fiction. To me, such is the stuff of great compliments.

That is a great compliment :) It's interesting how we can take inspiration from just overhearing conversations; I do that too!

Do you have a day job or write full time?

Yes and no. Yes, I work full-time, 40 hours a week as a programming specialist for a public library. What? A writer working in a library? What's next, musicians working in music stores? I write whenever I have the chance to actually do it. I write at work, I write at home, I write on vacation, I write on weekends and holidays, I write at ten pm and at three am, but most of all I invariably like to think about writing, what comes next, how can I make it so absurd and still believable but not even know what it is until I type it… ah, it is a splendid thing and I hope to God someday soon my work actually corresponds with me making an exceptional living.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

#1. Get an editor. Not your buddy or a friend, but someone who charges you money for their time because, wait for it, THEY ARE A PROFESSIONAL. If you want to be a pro at this stuff, you better act like one now. I've met a ton of writers who have rushed to publish and frankly have done their future work a disservice. Unlike actors or musicians, writers are judged harshly on an aggregate scale for their work. If a reader has deemed you to have written a book that really sucked, they will likely never read you again. Is that fair? No. Can you overcome it? Yes, but like Ringo says, "It don't come easy."

LOL Good advice :)

#2. Write every day.

#3. Write when you really don't want to do it.

Great tips!

Tell us about your latest book.

I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD is not like any book out there. Five writers, five stories all with the same title and yet you couldn't wish for more diverse, broad-spectrum of a book. My fellow author John F D Taff came to me with the idea about two years ago when it was nothing more than graffiti on a men's room wall (yes,really!). We both knew immediately that it was a potent phrase and decided to see if we could do something with it and indeed we have along with Josh Malerman, Erik Johnson, and J. Daniel Stone. I think readers will probably compare it to movies like Pulp Fiction or Donnie Darko before they might another book. Don't believe me? I certainly wouldn't either, so here's a link:

Wonderful concept.

What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?

Look, young Joe, I know you think you're some kind of hot-shit bass player, but bro, seriously, you are wasting your time. It will not get you laid and it sure as hell won't make you rich. I know, you love it. But you know what you might love more? College. What's that? School sucks? Well, so will the next twenty goddamn years of your life you little snot nosed bastard. You know what smart ass, have it your way. But do us all a favor, don't start drinking. Seriously, dude, you're a real asshole when you're drunk – Love, older and wiser Joe.

Hahahaha! Poor young Joe!

What’s your favourite book, and why is it your favourite?

I love answering this question. It is, without a doubt, Of Mice and Men. The book had a real effect on me. It made me understand poverty in America was not as obscure as the Eighties would have liked us to believe. That being poor has been a bitch since Christ was in the cradle. But most of all, I love that ending. You can keep your Edwards and Bellas, I'll take Lenny and George any day!

I have a hazy memory of studying that book at school... Funny, I remembered the names of the characters, but can't remember much else about it. I think I liked it... may have to reread it at some stage :)

Where are your books on sale?

All my books can be found on – Here's a tiny link:

Which social media sites can you most often be found on?

Twitter @JoesBlackTShirt and Facebook as Joe Schwartz

Do you have any advice for writers as to how to deal with bad reviews?

First, read them but don't dwell on them. Two, if you keep hearing the same thing over and over again, then fix it! Third, whenever you get your literal ass handed to you in a review, go read the one star reviews of say Stephen King or Antonya Nelson. It's amazing the revival you will experience when you realize the collective mile of shit we all have to crawl through as writers. Face it, you're in real good company when it comes to the flamers. Don't feed the trolls, man.

Hmm... I think most authors can relate to this (unfortunately)

Thanks so much for being a guest, Joe! Wishing you great success with your latest release, and all your writing!


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Published on June 09, 2016 11:20 • 461 views • Tags: author-interview, fiction, interview, joe-schwartz, men-s-fiction, short-stories

June 6, 2016

I first came across author Terry Tyler online when I read her brilliant novel You Wish....

That's still one of my favourite books. I've read a few more of her books since then and love her writing style. She's a prolific writer and currently has twelve books on Amazon.


Welcome, Terry. Thanks for visiting me here!

You've written lots of books! Where does your inspiration come from?

Now, this question is asked in virtually all author interviews; I have completed many of these over the past four or five years and I usually answer 'I don't know, it just appears'.

Ha, ha! That's usually the correct answer ;)

However, I'm delighted to say that, this time and with regard to my current work in progress, I can answer it properly! A few months ago I was undecided about what to start work on next. I had three ideas in note form: a post apocalyptic novella, a contemporary drama based on a historical period (as I've done before), and psychological thriller for which I couldn't think of a decent end. Then, one afternoon, I was having an Amazon browse and saw a title: The Serial Killer's Wife. And that was it. Those four words gave me the basic idea for my next novel....which leads me to your next question, Maria :)

Tell us about your latest book

It's a dark psychological drama. There's a serial killer on the loose, and five people suspect that the monster might be someone close to them. It's not a crime drama as such, as I don't particularly enjoy reading detective/crime stories and certainly don't want to write them, but obviously I've had to do a fair bit of research; I've kept police procedure bit to a minimum, though, and the police themselves are only minor characters. I've always been interested in serial killers, so know a fair bit about the psychology, but main characters are the five who fear they might know the killer. Plenty of opportunity for the red herrings and plot twists I love! It's called The Devil You Know; the title popped into my head along with the idea for the plot. I hope it will be ready for publication in October, but I'm still on the first draft; early days.

That sounds very interesting! A bit like Agatha Christie!

How long did it take you to write your last book?

My last book was Best Seller, a novella of 40K words, and it took about three and a half months. Two months for the first draft, six weeks for the rewrites. For a full length novel I usually reckon on three/four months for the first draft, and two or three months for the rewrites.

You're a fast writer! I wish I could keep up with reading them as you publish them... love your books! :)

Do you do your own editing or use a professional? Anyone you’d recommend?

I do my own editing. I don't want anyone telling me what I can and can't have in my own book, and think I have a fairly good handle on how to trim a novel down and make sure every word matters, although obviously my first books are not as tight as my more recent ones; your technique improves all the time. I have two reliable test readers, too. If you're not confident about going it alone, I'd recommend Alison Williams, @AlisonW_Editor on Twitter. She's as picky a reader as me, and we usually mirror each other's opinions when reviewing the same books!

Proofreading, however, is a different matter. Every writer needs a proofreader, because you can't spot your own typos/missing words, etc, and most people make errors like the odd misplaced hyphen. There are masses of cowboys out there these days, though, or just amateurs who don't know what a semicolon is for, let alone how to amend a wrongly assigned dependent clause, for instance. Recommendations: Julia Gibbs @ProofreadJulia, or Wendy Janes @WendyProof. Alison, Julia and Wendy come highly recommended by many, not just me!

Have you ever published something and wished you hadn’t?

Not in its entirety, but like most writers I sometimes read back my older books and go 'ouch' at certain bits, or am about to tweet an old blog post, then decide to give it a quick once-over just in time! Since Kindle publishing, it is all too easy to rush to get that first novel out; not all first novels are worthy of publication. Mine certainly wasn't! It was a multiple point of view drama of the type I write now, written in 1993; I've considered looking it out and rehashing, but I've probably re-used any decent ideas in it, anyway.

What are some of the pros/cons of being an indie author?

It's all down to you. I hear paperbacks are a pain in the neck to produce, too; I wouldn't know, I've never bothered with them.

It's not too bad but can be a bit expensive. I use I've heard CreateSpace is good too.

Creative freedom.
DIY means that you are forced to learn about the market and the publishing industry as a whole, which can only be a good thing.
Pricing, timescale and promotional freedom.
Being able to choose who edits and proofreads your book.
Keeping all the royalties.

Looks like the pros win! :)

What’s your favourite genre to read?

Historical fiction. At its best, I can't get enough! I like the quite serious and meticulously researched end of this genre that immerses the reader in the period. I am not keen on historical romance. I prefer stories that educate me about the period, as well as being entertaining. My favourite eras to read about are the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, and my favourite authors are Deborah Swift, Ann Swinfen, and Gemma Lawrence . I've also enjoyed Tony Riches, and some novels set in the 18th century by William Savage. For Victorian, I recommend Carol Hedges and Tom Williams.

My other favourite genre is post apocalyptic (may or may not include zombies), but it has to be really well written; there is a lot of junk around. I recommend Kate L. Mary, Frank Tayell, and John Privilege.

What genre do you write in?

A sort of mixed up non/multiple genre. Several regular readers have said that I have created my own....

That's cool!

I write contemporary (1970s to present day) fiction set in England, orientated towards relationships, but not romance; always character-driven, but with a certain amount of mystery and twistery; I like to keep the reader guessing about what will happen/who is behind what.

Mystery and twistery! I love that :)

When writing a novel or story, do you think word count is important? If so, what is the ideal length?

The ideal length is the the right length for that particular story, whatever that may be.

Agreed :)

If a book needs to be 125K words long to be told properly, then it does. Three of my books (Kings And Queens, Last Child, and The House Of York) are over 120K words long; happily, a couple of reviewers said they didn't feel that long; they weren't aware of 'wading through' them! Similarly, Best Seller is only 40K words long, because I decided the story was best told in novella form, with concise detail rather than a deeper exploration of the characters. Several reviews say it read as satisfyingly as a full length novel, which I was pleased about; however, one felt it should have been longer, with more background about the characters. You will never please everyone; you just have to write the book you need to write. Consider whether all the words are necessary, or if you've added superfluous detail or been self-indulgent. 'Padding' always shows. On the other hand, I've read books that are too short for a long and complex story, so I've failed to become involved in it. If you're not sure, get a couple of test readers upon whom you can rely to be honest.

Do you have any advice for writers as to how to deal with bad reviews?

Accept them as inevitable. I know they knock your confidence, and we all go through it, but, alas, not everyone will love everything you do.

Look up your all-time favourite books on Amazon. They will have some 1 and 2*, too. If Phillipa Gregory/Elizabeth Jane Howard/William Boyd, etc, can get bad reviews, so can you.

Don't challenge them; if you've made your book available on a site that allows readers to review, they have a right to express their opinion.

Learn from them; if more than one reader says the book has, for instance, unrealistic dialogue, they might be expressing the opinion of many; the majority of readers don't review, but will simply not buy another book from you.

A few mediocre reviews makes the book look more credible, as if it's been more widely read. Few things look more naff than just eight reviews, all 5*, written by people who've never reviewed anything else.

Don't consider 3* a bad review ~ 3* means 'it's okay' on Amazon and 'I like it' on Goodreads.

Don't complain to or about book bloggers who do not review your book favourably. You submitted the book; presumably you read the terms first.

Understand the difference between a bad review from a genuine reader who wasn't that keen on your book, and a troll who is out to get you personally. Most are the former, and shouting 'troll' every time you get a bad review can make you look a bit petulant!

Great advice

Many thanks, Maria, for inviting me to feature on your blog, and I do hope some of this has been of interest/help to your readers.

I'm sure it will be. Thanks so much for being a guest, Terry!


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Published on June 06, 2016 13:44 • 1,900 views • Tags: author-interview, contemporary-drama, historical-fiction, interview, novels, relationships, short-stories, terry-tyler

June 4, 2016

Julie Elizabeth Powell was one of the first authors I met when I joined Goodreads in 2008. I've also met her in person a few times. We've become great friends over the years. Julie is probably the most prolific writer I know. She publishes a few books and stories each year and now has a fantastic collection of books. I've enjoyed reading all of Julie's books. She writes in various genres, but mostly fantasy. Her imagination is amazing.

Julie has been a contributing writer in the BestsellerBound Anthologies and in the Mind's Eye series.


Hello, Julie! Great to have you as a guest here. Please introduce yourself.

Hello! My pen name is Julie Elizabeth Powell and I write in a variety of genres, styles and lengths for adults, YA, children and anyone in between or beyond. The variety is because I like to challenge my writing and I’d become bored if I were limited in any way.

I don’t follow rules, formulas or fashions. I am an independent author so I ‘do it all’ – writing, editing, proofreading, designing my own covers and publishing (and good at it, apart from when those gremlins trip me). And yes, that dreaded marketing and promoting (nope, not good at this).

Fantasy is my preferred genre, although I do love to write paranormal, science fiction and supernatural – anything ‘odd’. I have written murder mysteries, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, humour and non-fiction.

The biggest story is an epic fantasy, a trilogy called, The Avalon Trilogy for a mixed aged range – 10 – 110! I do write short stories, too. These are ideas /dreams that pop into my head and must be written or I’m haunted until they are.

Most of my books are stand alone, except for the Trilogy and my Weird series, where Henry Ian Darling searches for, or is landed with, oddities to solve, all of which will lead to something… ah, not telling. It’s a supernatural /paranormal series that is touched by humour but has its eerie moments.

Henry came to me through a dream and demanded action.

Gone, will always be my most important book due to why it was written; sparked by what happened to my daughter, and I’m pleased with it. I also hope it will help others to cope with the loss of a child or any of those terrible things that can happen during our lifetime. It’s not a depressing read! It’s a fantasy and is filled with adventure, humour and hope.

Some of my books contain strong language, violence and scenes of a sexual nature. Stories such as 13 (horror), Lost Shadows (psychological thriller /fantasy) and Dirty Business (crime thriller) necessitated the inclusion, although not for ‘gratification’ but so to fit in with the story.

I think it’s important to write stories with meaning, and yes, I’m sure mine entertain, too. I am particularly interested in the mind and how and why it works, and how /why people choose to do the things they do.

Oh yes, I’m English and live in the south of England and I’m a grammar snob and despair at how the English language is massacred. If I had a choice, I’d live in Florida, although I’d still keep my snobbish thoughts of English intact.

I frequently wonder if I’m an alien because I’ve never fitted in.

Writing is a fabulous vehicle for all my weird thoughts.

I think reading is a vital for any author. I like all kinds of genres except erotica, most romances, ‘vampire’, books with bare-chested men – yukkety yuk! I prefer stories that make me think /wonder; doesn’t matter what genre. I review for others, too.

Favourite book: The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (though not easy to choose, so many I’ve loved)

Favourite song: Over The Rainbow sung by Eva Cassidy.

Favourite film: Legend (fantasy)

Hobbies: reading, designing, card making, scrapbooking, jewellery making, 3D art, encaustic art, gardening, cinema, listening to music – all kinds except heavy rock or rap.

Currently reading: Khirro's Journey: The Complete Trilogy by Bruce Blake – fabulous fantasy.

Just finished reading: Another great read from Amy Cross.

Nineteen of my books are also available as audiobooks through Audible. The Star Realm is currently being narrated.

AND, The Star Realm is now permafree through Amazon UK, USA.

Aren’t I interesting? Splutter!

Hahaha! Thanks, Julie!

Why should people buy your books?

I never write anything without meaning. I like people to think and wonder and stretch their imagination. For me, there is no limit to the imagination.

For example: Gone – a fantasy, written in answer to the question that haunted me between my daughter’s first and second deaths: Where had my daughter gone? Samantha was severely brain damaged at the age of two, her essence wiped clean, while her suffering twisted shell survived for a further seventeen years. Hence the question. So I created a world and went in search of her.

It’s story of loss, grief, anger and guilt, and yet it is filled with hope. It’s a great adventure, too. I consider it to be unique.

Lost Shadows explores the workings of the mind, particularly memory and what we are with or without it.

13 is a comment on today’s modern world.

A Murderer's Heart delves into why people kill.

Dirty Business will keep you guessing until the end.

Of Sound Mind questions sanity/insanity.

Misadventures Of Fatwoman examines what it feels like to be fat – with humour – but I think many would relate to Andi’s situation.

Slings & Arrows is a non-fictional account of what happened to my daughter and why Gone was written.

I love writing for children (although I think adults would enjoy them, too). The Star Realm, Invasion, Secrets Of The Ice (The Avalon Trilogy) was triggered by the world I’d created in Gone – I couldn’t let it go to waste, so an epic fantasy adventure grew so big that I had to divide the story into three.

Knowing Jack is a mystery adventure which takes place in the Lake District around Christmas time. The inspiration for this came from my son’s amazing intuition. Both stories were fun to write, and yes, have varying levels of meaning.

My shorts: The Puzzling Brain Of Martha Tidberry, There Was An Old Woman, The Box That Jane Built (four horror shorts), Heaven: A Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy, The Fairy In The Tale, Christmas Past, Three Into One, Figments(collection) and Expressions (collection) have all come through dreams and are a mixture of fantasy, science fiction, horror, paranormal, post-apocalyptic and modern contemporary.

I’ve also written many short stories for collections with other authors. The Mind’s Eye series that include mine are: Triptychs, Tales From The Cacao Tree, and soon to be another. The BestsellerBound Anthology Vol3 also has one of mine. Paper Gold Publishing has several of my novels included in their boxsets: Legends (Gone, Of Sound Mind), Legacy (Fantasy Box Set Vol. 2): 10 Complete Novels & Novellas from your Favorite Fantasy Authors (The Star Realm #1 Avalon Trilogy, Invasion #2 Avalon Trilogy, Secrets Of The Ice #3 Avalon Trilogy), The Edge Of Madness (13, Dirty Business, Lost Shadows) and Affairs of the Heart(Misadventures Of Fatwoman).

There will soon be more.

I think people should buy my books because they’re great! Each story will grab you and you won’t want to put it down. And minds will be flung open with all manner of thoughts will pouring in.

Is that enough?

Ha, ha! Well, I'd definitely recommend all of your books. Have enjoyed them all.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Inspiration is everywhere, in everything. I never stop thinking – much to the horror of my mind and sleep wishes. When I do sleep, I constantly dream, many of which turn into stories. They are vivid and demand to be written. Sometimes it’s a feeling, sometimes a character or title. Or even just a name or world.

Do you have a day job or write full time?

I am a full time carer for my husband. I write when I can, although life is demanding and I’m forever busy. My last job was teaching but I had to stop for many reasons.

Now each day is filled to the brim – how did I find time to go out to work?

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write what you want. Ignore naysayers. Don’t follow others.

I like those.

Do you have any promotion tips? Any websites that you can recommend?

Ha, ha – if anyone has a good answer for this, please tell me. Hmm, well, I think the only way for me is to engage with others. I don’t sell many books, but actively promoting bores others and puts them off buying anyway.

I don’t know the answer to successful selling.

Tell us about your latest book.

I am currently trying to write a novel called, Maisie, which is another fantasy with a twist and includes something I’ve never done before – not telling. Life though is rather complicated and drags me away. I’m about halfway through. I love it when I am in the zone, however, and wish life would ease up and allow me to write more.

What are some of the pros/cons of being an indie author?

Pros – control. Cons – no money for anything, especially the hype machine. You have to do everything yourself (or you could hire out (design, for example) if you can afford it). I like to do everything except proofreading where I’m constantly chasing gremlins.

I bet you’re looking for gremlins now – how many typos have I made? Sigh.

I haven't found any! :) But I know what you mean!

Thanks for being a great guest, Julie. I hope this interview helps more people discover your wonderful writing!


Book links:

Amazon USA page -
Amazon UK page -


UK -


Author links:

Facebook page 1:
Facebook page 2:
Blogspot: http://julieelizabethpowell.blogspot....
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Published on June 04, 2016 14:53 • 531 views • Tags: author-interview, interview, julie-elizabeth-powell, mind-s-eye-series, novel, poetry, short-stories

June 2, 2016

Maria Haskins is a very talented writer and poet. She's also a translator. I met her online ages ago but didn't know she was a writer. Like me, she's mad about music and has a music blog Real Rock and Roll. I first came across her because of the music promotion she was doing. Then last year she published her collection of short stories Odin's Eye. It's a brilliant collection of science fiction short stories. I went on to read her poetry book, Cuts & Collected Poems 1989 - 2015, and now I'm a big fan of her work. Whether it's short stories or poetry, Maria is one of those writers who keeps the reader hooked from the first page. She's joined us for book five in the Mind's Eye series (to be published soon), and I currently blog with Maria and Darcia Helle on the Real Rock and Roll blog, and also the new sister-site, Soundwaves Review. Maria has become a good friend.


Hello, Maria! Thanks for visiting me here. Please introduce yourself.

I’m a writer and translator, born in Sweden but living in Canada since the early 1990s. My debut as a writer is lost in the prehistoric mists of time, but did happen in Sweden. Eventually I switched to writing in English, and these days I write mainly science fiction, fantasy and poetry.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Everywhere and nowhere. Sometimes a story starts with an opening line that just pops into my head, or with an idea like a “what if…”, or sometimes it starts with a character. It’s always different. Some of my best story ideas come to me when I’m walking the dog. Something about walking just seems to bring them out.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read a lot. Both the classics, and new works by new writers. I know that gets said a lot, but it’s very true: writers need to be readers. Also: write a bit every day, or at least write with regularity. Inspiration often won’t come until you sit down, even if it feels like you’re just slogging through things at times. Finally: be open to learning and changing and improving: try new things, read new things, write things you maybe didn’t think you could write. If nothing else, you might have some fun and learn what doesn’t work for you.

Great advice.

Tell us about your latest book.

I’ve got short stories coming out in two new anthologies this year. Two of them are in the next Mind’s Eye series, which I am very excited about, and I also have a new short story in the anthology ‘Tales From Alternate Earths’ from Inklings Press. That last one is a new thing for me: alternate history with a definite science fiction flavor. It’s the first time I’ve done an alternate history story so that’s really exciting.

Last year I self-published two books. One is a collection of science fiction short stories called "Odin’s Eye". The other is a sort of poetry-anthology called "Cuts & Collected Poems 1989-2015" which was a very interesting project for me. It includes one new collection of poetry (the first one I’ve written in English rather than Swedish), and also translations of my three previously published Swedish collections of poetry.

Do you have a preferred writing space?

My desk. It’s a messy desk and sort of in the middle of the house, but it’s the place where I can concentrate the best. Recently I’ve also done some writing “on the move”, bringing a laptop with me when the kids have activities, and that’s been a lot of fun too. I can actually get writing done away from my desk, which is a new discovery for me.

LOL I used to be like that. When I first started writing, I only ever wrote while in bed, late at night, and for ages thought that was the only place I'd be able to write. But I've found that I can write pretty much anywhere nowadays.

What’s your favourite genre to read?

Fantasy and science fiction for sure, or more broadly what’s called “speculative fiction”. Those have been my favoured genres ever since I was a child.

What genre do you write in?

I write mainly science fiction and fantasy, often with a darker tone, and poetry.

Apart from writing, what are your favourite pastimes?

Reading is one favourite for sure. I also love hiking and walking in the woods, and I love cooking and eating! Travel is something I also love, though I don’t do as much of it now as when I was younger.

What’s your favourite book, and why is it your favourite?

That would have to be The Lord of the Rings, because that’s the book I’ve re-read the most times of any book, ever. I just love the depth of it: that sense of entering another world and wanting to stay there.

Which social media sites can you most often be found on?

I’m very active on Twitter and Facebook . I also have an Instagram account (@mariahaskins), though I’m not as active there. I also blog on my website:

If you could invite 3 writers (past or present) to dinner, who would you invite and what would you cook?

Oh my… choices, choices... I’d invite Ursula K. Le Guin because I love her writing SO much. Umberto Eco, because he was such an amazing writer and had so many interesting thoughts on literature and the world. And then I’d invite Kai Ashante Wilson: he is a newer writer and I love his work (‘The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps’, for example), but he is not active on social media so I’d love to just talk science fiction and fantasy with him. As for food, I’d make it a potluck barbecue with lots of good beer, wine, steaks, corn on the cob, prawns, salad, and fresh strawberries for dessert. And… now I’m hungry!

Ha, ha! Now I'm hungry too!

Thanks for answering my questions, Maria!


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Published on June 02, 2016 02:13 • 946 views • Tags: author-interview, interview, maria-haskins, odin-s-eye, poetry, science-fiction, short-stories

May 31, 2016

Continuing my series of interviews with authors, today's guest is Michael Radcliffe. Michael publishes fabulous fantasy fiction under his author name J. Michael Radcliffe. He's one of my favourite authors and has also become a great friend. Michael has written a series of books "Beyond The Veil", as well as many short stories. He has been a contributor to the BestsellerBound Anthologies and The Mind's Eye series of books.


Hello, Michael! Thank you for being a guest here on my blog. Please introduce yourself.

My name is Michael Radcliffe, and I live in rural Kentucky with my family and our ever growing cadre of cats.

I still can't believe how many cats you have!

I started writing in 2002, but did not publish my first book until late 2010. Since then I have gone on to write four full length books and about fifteen short stories. My muse is a small dragon statuette, whom I have named ‘Idris.’ He provides ideas, motivation, and lots and lots of criticism of my work!

Ha, ha! I love Idris!

Tell us more about your cats!

We have cats. Lots of cats. They seem to keep finding us, and being soft-hearted we can’t turn any of them away. At last count we have 8 cats that are ours (2 live outside), as well as 2 strays that visit every few weeks.

Do you have a day job or write full time?

By day I am the Executive Vice President responsible for Compliance at a local community bank – meaning I work as a liaison with state and federal regulators, conduct audits, and read and interpret laws and regulations. My most important responsibility however, is education – I’m responsible for keeping all 200 of our people informed and up to speed on the rules that affect their jobs.

It's an amazing achievement to do that and still be able to find time to write all your wonderful stories!

Why should people buy your books?

Because I like to think I am a decent storyteller.

You're a excellent storyteller!

I want to share the worlds I have created with people. I want to tell my characters’ stories, so they can live on in the imagination of others.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My muse can be mercurial at times. I can never be certain what may inspire me; sometimes I will stare at a blank screen for an hour and *nothing* comes to mind. Other times, I can’t type fast enough to get the words down on the page. Recently I was fortunate enough to participate in a project with some brilliant writers (like Maria Savva)


...and a couple of photographers. Each writer was given two or three original photos and asked to write a short story inspired by same. It was tremendous fun, and I surprised myself with some of the stories I created.

It's been great having you on board for the Mind's Eye series, Michael. I've enjoyed all your stories!

What’s the best time of day for you to write?

I do my best writing at night, usually very late around 10pm or later.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what type?

Absolutely – music helps lubricate the imagination! Most of the time I listen to classical music or movie soundtracks, such as the music from Star Wars or Game of Thrones. Although I absolutely love Vivaldi and Mozart as well.

Apart from writing, what are your favourite pastimes?

I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, and cooking. While I also enjoy gardening, I rarely have the time anymore.

What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?

Don’t give up, it gets better (it just takes a while). Ignore the bullies and have confidence in yourself – their opinions are irrelevant. Find people who value you for who you are – don’t change just to make others happy.

Great advice.

Do you format your own books?

Yes, although there are times I wish I didn’t. I have a love/hate relationship with Microsoft Word.

Where are your books on sale?

All of my books and short stories can be found on Amazon.

Which social media sites can you most often be found on?

I am on Facebook and I have toyed with Instagram. I’ve never learned how to Snapchat, but you can find me on Twitter as @Alderdrache.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Somewhere tropical, because I love the ocean. I also love tropical plants and flowers.

Do you have any advice for writers as to how to deal with bad reviews?

Although this is far more difficult in practice, ignore them. Reading is inherently subjective, and no matter how perfect your prose or how spot on your editing is, someone, somewhere, will not like your story. I had one reviewer complain that my “novel” was far too short – when in fact they had read one of my (clearly labeled) short stories! Some reviewers seem to revel in trying to wound writers, seeming to derive some sort of perverted sense of accomplishment by tearing someone down. It never ceases to amaze me how cruel some humans are to those of their own species – which is why I often prefer the company of dragons!

LOL Sadly, I can totally understand that!

What do you enjoy most about the writing process?

I know this sounds insane, but I love to watch a story unfold in front of my eyes. As I write a story, I can see and hear the characters in my mind, almost as if I’m watching a movie. When I was writing my last novel, "Touch of Darkness," I could see the characters so clearly as I wrote the climactic ending I was almost in tears. I also really enjoy the world-building process. As a fantasy writer, I love fleshing out the details of the world inhabited by my characters.

Your stories are very vivid! I'm looking forward to reading more from you! Thanks for taking part in this interview series, Michael!


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Published on May 31, 2016 02:30 • 552 views • Tags: author-interview, beyond-the-veil, fantasy, interview, j-michael-radcliffe, short-stories

May 28, 2016

I've met hundreds of talented authors over the years. Many of them have become great friends. It's been a while since I've interviewed authors on my blog, so I thought it would be nice to have a series of interviews here and maybe introduce you to some writers you've never heard of. They'll be sharing their experiences about writing, editing, publishing, etc. I hope you'll find some new favourite authors through this series.

My first guest is Jennifer Lane. I met Jen online when I was part of the BestsellerBound community of writers.


Do you have a day job or write full time?

I’m a psychologist/author (psycho author).

Ha, ha!

I love my day job as a therapist and my night job as an author is damn fun, too! I combine the two by writing therapy scenes in my novels.

I'm sure you hear some interesting stories!

Tell us about your latest book

My latest book is Spiked (Blocked #3), the conclusion to my college sports romance trilogy. Singer-songwriter Mateo crushes on speedy swimmer Jessica. The release date is October 1, 2016.

How long did it take you to write your last book?

It typically takes me 9 months to write a book.

Do you do your own editing or use a professional? Anyone you’d recommend?

Hands down I recommend professional editing. It’s totally worth the cost because I believe it’s impossible to edit our own writing. I’ve been lucky to work with the same editor for six novels and one novella: Jessica Royer Ocken. She has greatly improved my writing. Less adverb abuse and more tightness.

What are some of the pros/cons of being an indie author?

I went with a small publisher for my first four novels and I’m grateful for their tutelage. But I adore the autonomy of self-publishing. I’m quite impatient so it’s a relief to establish my own timeline for publication, and I enjoy the creative freedoms.

Who does your cover design? Is there anyone you’d recommend?

My book designer is Coreen Montagna. I love her covers and her interior design. She’s great at formatting, too!

When writing a novel or story, do you think word count is important? If so, what is the ideal length?

My first novels were epic stories around 200,000 words. Wow, I guess I had a LOT to say!

That's a lot of words!

Editing helped pare them down but they were still too bloated. I like 100,000 words for an adult novel but I believe Young Adult and New Adult should be shorter. I aim for 80,000 words in my New Adult sports romances.

Do you have any advice for writers as to how to deal with bad reviews?

I have too much experience in this area. Form a private group of trusted authors to vent to now and then. Step away from the computer and do not respond to bad reviews. Look up your absolute favorite book—one you think is brilliant—and read the negative reviews. Mind-blowing! Also, remember your experience as a reader—sometimes you feel let disappointed and angry about the author’s choices. No book can please every reader.

Great advice, Jen! Thanks for joining me here, and good luck with the launch of "Spiked"!


You can sign up for Jen's newsletter here:

Author Bio:

Get psyched for romance with psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane! By day she’s a therapist, and by night she’s a writer. She can’t decide which is more fun.

Jen adores creating sporty heroines and hot heroes in her college sport romances. Volleyball wonder Lucia Ramirez found her love match in Blocked despite the glaring political spotlight aimed on her family. In Aced, the second book in the Blocked series, it’s her brother Alejandro’s turn to get lucky in love. Next up is Spiked (Blocked #3) in October of 2016.

A swimmer and volleyball player in college, Jen writes swimming-based romances as well: Streamline, a military mystery, and the free New Adult novella Swim Recruit.

Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is also the author of The Conduct Series, a romantic-suspense trilogy that includes With Good Behavior, Bad Behavior, and On Best Behavior.

Ultimately, whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, attending book club, and visiting her sisters in Chicago and Hilton Head.

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Published on May 28, 2016 07:44 • 951 views • Tags: author-interview, editing, indie, jennifer-lane, spiked, writing