JULY’S FEATURED AUTHOR: ERRIN STEVENS

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..I always pictured myself as a writer, even when I was very young. I read fiction then and now like I breathe, which is to say constantly; and it was more than just a pastime, has always felt more visceral and necessary to me than that. I think incessant reading wired me up strangely, too, meaning I constructed a kind of narrative filter through which I apprehend life’s experiences. And view reality. I’m always working on how I would express in words what I see happening around me. But I didn’t give myself permission to take a serious run at storytelling until five years ago. I think I was able to write Updrift because I loved the premise, and because the genre felt approachable to me.

2) What reading means to you…..I read fiction as a child (and now, too!) like it’s an autonomic neurological function; and it was more than just a pastime, has always felt visceral and necessary to me. I know for a fact incessant reading wired me up strangely, meaning I constructed a kind of narrative filter through which I apprehend life’s experiences. And view reality. I’m always working on how I would express in words what I see happening around me. What I’m reading can often affect my writing voice, as well. Sometimes I reread works I admire just to have that particular writing taste in my mouth when I do a final edit.

3) Whats next for you…..I’m working like crazy on number three, Outrush. The story focuses on Maya and Aiden, sets up the possibility for a fourth book (featuring Peter and Xanthe), and is a good bit of both romance and suspense. I can’t wait to share my pretty, pretty cover (and my story, of course!) with all of you, which I’ve been hanging onto from the outset, since I had the first three in my series designed together.

JUNE’S FEATURED AUTHOR: Amanda Siegrist

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..I published my first novel back in April 2015. I had no experience whatsoever or any clue what I was doing. What I did know was I enjoyed myself and had so much fun. Still do! Publishing isn’t easy. Every time I release a new book, I get little butterflies in my stomach and that little self-doubt that no one will like my book. I’m not sure that’ll ever go away because each time I release a book, it’s like it’s for the first time. Exciting, exhilarating and nerve wracking! And I love it! I’ve since released 11 books, The Danger With Love my most recent release in April. It’s full of intrigue, suspense, and the best part, romance! I’m all about the romance and a happily ever after. If that’s what you want, that’s what you’ll get. I’ve had a few readers read several books and comment how it didn’t seem like the same author wrote them. When I write, I write what the story demands. Sometimes it does come out as a different “voice”. That’s not me, that’s my characters telling me how it’s gonna go. And yeah, those buggers tell me all the time what to do. *chuckles* There have been ups in this journey and of course downs, but the ups far outweigh the downs. I’m happy, I’m healthy, and I’m writing. I really can’t ask for more.

2) What reading means to you…..I love to read! Like, love! Really, really love! *laughs* Can you tell how much I love reading? I’ve read since I was able to read and haven’t been able to put books down since. For the longest time I was just a reader, not a writer. I love diving into a great book, whether it be a lovey-dovey romance or a tear-jerker one or one that makes me laugh, I read all kinds of romance. And yes, I generally only read romance because that’s my passion. That’s what I enjoy. I read for pleasure. While there might be other wonderful books out there in other genres, and I know there are, I love romance, so I read what I love. Sometimes reading is an escape from the real world and have some me time. Sometimes reading is just something to do to pass the boredom. Either way, I read all the time. A lot. Sometimes a story hits me in the heart, tugging at my emotions, and sometimes it does nothing but make me think I just spent three hours reading that. There’s nothing better than sitting down and reading, whether the book is good or bad. It’s in my blood and it’s never going to disappear. I love reading way too much to ever stop!

3) Whats next for you…..I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the past three years and love every minute it. I started my writing journey almost a year into my first year at staying home. I needed something else to occupy my time. Something else that was just for me. Now it’s what I consider “my job”. What’s so great is my kids understand that. They don’t think I just stay at home and take care of them; they know I write books, that I share them with the world. And I think it’s pretty cool! My daughter came home one day from school and said she made something for Dad. She made us guess what it was. Her clue was, “it’s something Mommy does”. Honestly, I was clueless. I said things from crafts to baking to reading. Her answer, “I wrote a book just like Mommy.” The pride and happiness in my heart couldn’t have gotten any bigger. *sniffles happy tears* It didn’t even occur to me to say writing. Don’t ask me why because I have no clue. Lol. I have a son under a year old, so I have a few more years staying at home to take care of him. When it’s time for him to go to school full-time, I won’t be rushing out to find another job. I have a job. It’s writing. I’ll continue writing and writing and writing. That’s what I love. I have a job that I enjoy getting out of bed for. Because sometimes people can’t say that. I have so many story ideas in my head, waiting to get out. I’m always busy writing a new book or editing a book that I’m getting ready for release. And marketing, too. The best part about marketing is meeting new people and sharing the love of reading…and writing! This is a beautiful journey I’m on and I can’t wait to see where it’ll take me.

MAY’S FEATURED AUTHOR: RICHARD CROFTON

Authors

R.C21) Your Journey as an Author…..Since I was little, I’ve always enjoyed writing stories, but I never took the activity seriously enough to save my work. Most of the time, I’d reread what I’d written and cringe at the corniness. But a few years ago, the idea for The Keepers of White series came to me out of nowhere, and I found myself writing while the story in my mind continued to expand. Over a year ago, I had nearly completed the first three books of the series, but I wasn’t sure if I would ever publish. At that time however, I discovered a local short story contest for an anthology that was to be published in my town; the proceeds would all go toward the Christmas Come True Foundation. With nothing to lose and for the sake of charity, I submitted. I was soon contacted by the woman heading the project: she praised my writing skills, amazed I’d never before published, and selected my story as the one of the ten in the collection (it’s titled “The Choice” in A Night Like This: A Flagler County Anthology). This experience encouraged me take a more serious effort at writing.

2) What reading means to you…..As a former English teacher, reading is obviously a very important activity in my eyes. It expands the mind, makes us question, causes us to entertain the enigmatic “What If’s” in life, and offers a healthy escape into amazing, imaginative, and colorful worlds. Whether it be fiction or non-fiction, when we read, we gain knowledge and information, we consider alternate and opposing ideas from our own, helping us to achieve open-mindedness, and we discover a serene enjoyment. In short, reading means self-growth. Regardless of our age, experience, or level of intelligence or wisdom, we can always continue to grow, and reading provides the path to do so.

3) Whats next for you…..Agents of Shadow is the first book in The Keepers of White series. I’ve already completed Books II and III because initially, the three made up one complete story. However, together it was far too large a manuscript to publish as one book, so I had to break it up into three. The second book, The Paladin’s Message, is currently being proofread and, once I can get an artist to create the exact cover I desire for it, will hopefully be released sometime in the summer of 2017. The third book is still without a title, but I’m hoping to publish that one about six months after the second. I’m currently writing the fourth book. I also plan to write an anthology of short stories with a central theme regarding human redemption and spiritual influence, and one of the short stories in that anthology will consist of a quick adventure by the protagonist in The Keepers of White series when he was a teenager. Finally, if I ever brave the non-fiction world, I will one day a humor-toned collection of my experiences as a middle school teacher.

APRIL’S FEATURED AUTHOR: S.P. OLDHAM

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..It might sound something of a cliché but I have genuinely written stories and poetry of my own volition since my very early childhood, my first poem being published in a local magazine some time later when I was twelve. For many years writing was a private pleasure, something I shared with very few people outside of my family and closest friends. About fifteen years or so ago I joined an online writing site, which helped in building my confidence and honing my skills tremendously; learning from other writers can be a valuable tool. I began having work accepted in various anthologies, in e-zines, magazines, greetings cards and so on. I also had a story professionally read and broadcast on Rutland Radio’s ‘Sunday Night Story.’ Finally, a little over a year ago, having had no luck with conventional publishing routes, I decided to try self-publishing. I have learned a great deal in the time since and whilst I still have a long way to go, at least now I feel I have a chance at success and at finding readers who might enjoy my writing style and what I have to offer.

2) What reading means to you…..Reading is one of my lifelong passions. It is hard to fully describe what it means to me. On one level, it is something for which I will be eternally grateful to my parents for. Both were avid readers and so thanks to them I grew up in a house where there were always books around and where reading was actively encouraged. I used to go to bed feeling lucky if I was allowed to keep the light on for half an hour to read! I can still clearly recall the cover images of some of my favourite childhood books. The recollection always fills me with nostalgia. As an adult, reading is an escape, an education, often a revelation. I have learned so very much about such a wide variety of subjects, especially those that have always held an interest for me, such as history. I have experienced the delicious anticipation of getting all the jobs done so I can curl up with my book. I have fallen asleep countless times with a book on my face! Reading is a reward, a comfort, a reassurance and a privilege, to me.

3) Whats next for you…..My personal health circumstances may well dictate the next phase of my working life, something over which I may not have much control. No matter what, I hope I will always read for the sheer pleasure of it. As far as writing goes, it is as fundamental to me as breathing; a compulsion almost. Whether or not I ‘make it,’ in the orthodox sense, as a writer, will have no bearing upon my work in the end. I will write nonetheless because it is part of who I am and what I do. As for my books, I have just begun a Victorian Romance with something of a difference, and I have plans for another horror/speculative fiction work for later in the year or perhaps early next year. Of course, every writer out there hopes to be read and enjoyed and I am no different. I recently penned a phrase ‘Write like the whole world is reading,’ and that is just what I intend to do.

FEBRUARY’S FEATURED AUTHOR: J.P. Cawood

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..My journey as an author started with a leap of faith. In the midst of a successful career creating TV shows, my boyfriend received a six-month gig in London. It was a great opportunity for him, and I was supportive of him going. Not wanting to be apart, we decided that I would quit my job and go with him. So I left Los Angeles for London, where I focused full-time on my writing. I had been working on Sam & The Secrets of the Universe in my spare time, so it was such a treat to have no distractions. I finished that book and wrote my second, Love from Mars. The rainy London weather made it much easier to concentrate than the SoCal sun! That leap of faith in quitting my job was so worth it. Not only did I come back to LA with two completed books, I also got engaged!

2) What reading means to you…..Reading is so meaningful because it’s a way to learn and grow through an exchange of ideas. I read a lot of non-fiction books that teach me new ideas, ways of living, and skills. Fiction takes me on an adventure or allows me to see the world from new perspectives. I love stories that embark on an emotional journey because they are like a mirror, allowing me to see myself through the reflection of other characters, their struggles, and how they handle the twists and turns.

3) Whats next for you…..I have two more books outlined and plan to keep writing! I’ll continue to focus in the science fiction genre because it’s exciting to explore themes of consciousness, cosmic conflict, and new frontiers of understanding. I already have the cover designed for my next book so that’s exciting! I’ll soon be producing the audio books for Sam & The Secrets of the Universe and Love from Mars. I’d also like to adapt my stories into screenplays, bringing in my previous experiences in TV and film.

JANUARY’S FEATURED AUTHOR: Calvin Dean

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..My journey started in high school. When I was a freshman, my English teacher asked each student to write a short story. I wrote a Twilight Zone-esqe story entitled The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff. At about this same time, I began working at a radio station where I wrote advertising copy. By age 18, I won a State Wide Award for a 30-second radio ad. So I’ve been writing short pieces for a long time. About eight years ago, I decided to write a novel. I took the basic premise from the “Epitaph” short story. Five years later—yes, count them—five long years later, I had a novel. I learned so much from that process that I wrote my second book, A Door Unlocked, in four months. I just released a third book, Curses, and now I’m shopping my fourth book, Geriatric Delinquents, to publishers. Stay tuned on that one. I’m really excited about it.

2) What reading means to you…..To many, reading is a social awakening, a learning and growing experience. And while this is true for me too, more than that, reading is simply a pleasure, an escape. I don’t require that an author lead me down the path of knowledge, though if he or she does, that’s great. All I require is that the author takes me on an incredible journey. Tell me an entertaining story. It can be weird, frightening, funny, happy, suspenseful, whatever. I just want to be entertained. That’s why I read. That’s how I try to write.

3) Whats next for you…..That depends on how the public receives Curses and Geriatric Delinquents. I really like the characters in both books. Here’s the strange part, in Curses, my protagonist took the novel in a completely different direction from what I originally planned. I intended to write a typical, old-fashioned ghost story. And while the book contains some freaky scenes, Martin steered me in a humorous direction. I explain this in the acknowledgements section of the book … how he practically conked me on the head and took over the keyboard. In my fourth book, yet to be released, I went completely off the reservation. All of my work so far has dealt with the paranormal. Not so with Geriatric Delinquents. This is a contemporary southern satire. (I’m from Mississippi in the southeastern USA, so I’m eat-up with it). It’s about two sisters who oppose a proposition to legalize marijuana in their small town. To their chagrin, their aging rock star brother returns home to support the measure. Imagine Dolly Parton as the older sister and Goldie Hawn as the younger sister. Then imagine someone like Mick Jagger as the brother. As you might expect, all parties are butting heads and pulling in opposite directions until the day of the election. There’s plenty of conflict, and therefore, plenty of humor. I really like this story and hope to follow up with more.

DECEMBER’S FEATURED AUTHOR: DONNA STEELE.

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..I have always written, even before I realized that’s what I was doing. I wrote my first novel (which will never see the light of day) at the age of sixteen. When I stumbled upon fanfiction for the X-Files I knew I was home, and wrote those stories for ten years before getting up the courage to submit one of my “real” stories to an actual publisher. Science Fiction and Paranormal have always drawn me-there are no limits to where you can go! My nineteenth book – Another Time (the first in the Guardians of Time Series) is in the final edit stage with Soul Mate Publishing. The second in the series is proceeding.

2) What reading means to you…..Reading is the escape from the real world for me. As an introvert shoved into an extrovert position before I retired, I was always exhausted. Reading (or listening to a book during my commute) kept me sane and grounded. I love that the possibilities are endless – new worlds, history, heroes, even monsters and always heroines to take me away.

3) Whats next for you…..More books. The first sequel to Another Time is well underway; I also have a shifter trilogy in process. The first book is finished and the second and third are shaping up. Since I retired and now write full time the floodgates have opened!

NOVEMBER’S FEATURED AUTHOR: Russ Linton.

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..In the fourth grade, I wrote down the vague goal of becoming a “writer and an artist” when I grew up. When I finally embarked on that journey it led me from philosopher to graphic designer to stay at home parent, and even a stint with the FBI. It wasn’t until after all that, I finally got around to the “writing” part. That journey has shaped and informed what I write and what I read. My style is an eclectic mix: fantasy and science fiction with a dose of realism tempered by a quasi-literary style. I write for adults who are young at heart and youngsters who are old souls. I write about the struggles of life and try to impart a touch of magic to them. I am a guide on this journey and hope to invite as many people as possible along the way.

2) What reading means to you…..Like many writers, I was an early bloomer when it came to reading skills. As a child my mom made reading to myself and twin sister a priority along with ensuring frequent trips to the public library. I recall many of those early readers, from the whimsy of Seuss to the poetry of Silverstein. But the first chapter book I ever read that left a lasting impression was C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew. I didn’t realize how deeply that story affected me until on this full time writing journey, I sat down to re-read it. I’m not an overly emotional person, but I was moved to tears when I read the description of the Wood Between the Worlds after so many years. The thing that got me was when the children surface and you realize that they came from a single pool and the wood is filled with pools and the possibilities are endless. That’s at the heart of what reading means to me and why I want to open up those other worlds as a writer.

3) Whats next for you…..More books. I’m in the final stages for book three of my Stormblade Saga, a tale about a bugman monk raised by humans who struggles to find his place in the world. I’m also working on the second novel in my Crimson Son Universe. Spencer, the powerless son of the world’s toughest superhero is back. Events which he helped bring about have reshaped the world of Augments and he and Eric face a super-villain they’re not sure is truly their enemy. Once I’ve gotten those words out, I’m excited about the prospect of diving into another one of those pools. I have to avoid thinking about it for now because I might jump too soon and leave the rest of them behind.

OCTOBER’S FEATURED AUTHOR: Luna Saint Claire.

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..The Sleeping Serpent is my debut novel. I wrote the story that compelled me. It had been trying to escape for several years. I wasn’t ready to allow it to emerge until January 2013 and then I wrote unwaveringly for three years until publishing The Sleeping Serpent in October of 2015. It is a psychological erotic thriller about a narcissistic abusive yoga guru who seduces women for his personal gain.

The story flowed out of me without any obstacles. Then it was easy to go back and work on making beautiful sentences, and tweaking structure. I love richly written detail that describes place and enhances the character development, such as what people are wearing, eating, music they are listening to, and even what car they drive. I have been praised by readers for exquisite description and I have also been criticized for it.

I consider myself a Creator. In my life I have been a ballet dancer, painter, experimented with poetry, interior design and crafting, and made a living creating the wardrobe looks for characters. I feel that writing The Sleeping Serpent has stretched me creatively. This has been probably the most creative process I have experienced.

2) What reading means to you…..I usually read two or three books at a time—non-fiction on subjects that interest me or are research for what I am writing. And always a novel. Right now I am reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces for a greater understanding of the hero’s journey. Cutting for Stone a novel. And the new Elizabeth Gilbert book Big Magic, about creativity written with Liz’s wit and spiritual insight.

I rarely read disposable genre fiction. I love beautiful sentences, character description, the psychological workings driving motivation, and a thought provoking story. I adore the works of Jhumpa Lahiri that are rich in character description. Ian McEwan never fails to take my breath away with beautiful sentences that reveal the dark side of the soul. I love Elizabeth Gilbert for her wit and eloquence. Her memoir, Eat Pray Love, is inspired. I can add to that Hemingway for simplicity and Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa for eloquence and vivid description. Donna Tart’s Goldfinch was magnificent. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina inspired The Sleeping Serpent, and The Death of Ivan Ilyich is an inspiration for the book I am writing now. I could go on…

3) Whats next for you…..Recently, I have been reading about affliction—suffering that imbues one’s soul—in an essay by the French philosopher Simone Weil. I am exploring the spiritual question how humans can have hope or faith when suffering something so internally painful. Can it be surmounted? In the novel I am currently writing, the hero is deeply afflicted and goes on The Hero’s Journey in a quest for redemption. These are iconic themes in mythology and literature from The Odyssey to Lord of the Rings. One of the greatest examples of a classic redemption story is the poem by Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner which explores the themes of shame and guilt and the spiritual process of redemption. I am enjoying reading these classic stories and allowing the spirit to move through me. This next novel will take some time to come to fruition.

September’s Featured Author: Terry Lynn Thomas.

Authors

 

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..I dreamt of being a writer for as long as I can remember. This childhood vision consisted of me slaving away in a charming attic studio, while the rain pounded against the windows, and the steam wafted from the mug sitting at my elbow. I have always loved books, and (like all writers) am pretty introverted, so I spent my childhood reading. I spent a lot of my life wanting to be a writer, but never doing the actual work needed to get anywhere. Day-to-day adult responsibilities soon took over my life, and writing creatively (I work as a paralegal, so I do write at work.) slipped further and further out of reach. I did tinker around and wrote a handful of bad novels, and even went so far as to secure agent representation, but nothing ever came of it. Flash forward 20 years when I met my husband, a talented artist in his own right, in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I am originally from.

 

He was homesick and wanted to live nearer his parents. So when he asked me if I would move to Mississippi with him, I said yes! (This is true: He promised to buy me a horse if I moved with him. He kept his promise.) Relocating to the South was a huge uprooting for me, and while I was sad to say goodbye to the friends, restaurants, bookstores, and libraries I had frequented my entire adult life, I embraced my new adventure, especially since I was being handed a golden opportunity to bow out from responsibilities and write. I now consider myself a full-fledged, real life writer, and I will never quit. Writing is now a priority for me. I am so grateful that I was given the time and the opportunity to pursue this dream. (My husband gets a lot of credit for this.)

So I went to work and wrote three crappy novels in the course of two years. (I burned them. They will NEVER see the light of day.) I’ve always loved the Gothic fiction from the 1930s through the 1970s. (Think Georgette Heyer, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Mary Stewart, Dorothy Eden, and the like). Those were the books that I reached for, those were the books that I found myself reading over and over. I set out to create the Sarah Bennett Mysteries with those type of books in mind. I really love writing about an era where there are no cell phones or computers, and revisiting a time when people were much more connected to one another, both individually and as a community. I hope that young readers who pick up a Sarah book will visualize what it was like to live in a time before everyone was so plugged in. As a writer, this is really important to me. In many ways technology is a good thing, but we got along without it. It’s important to remember the past, and how things used to be.

2) What reading means to you…..A lot of my feeling about this question is encapsulated in my writers’ journey question above. Reading means the world. It is the thing that keeps me sane. Reading is my sanctuary, my intellectual comfort food, if that makes sense. We don’t have a television, and although we do watch shows via Netflix on our computer, my husband and I are both readers. The world would be a better place if more people read.

3) Whats next for you…..Book three of the Sarah series is drafted, and I am getting ready to edit it. (I let my books sit for a while before I start the editing process.) I hope to write at least another three Sarah stories. I also have a passion for middle-grade literature, and hope to do some collaborating in 2017 with a really talented writer in that genre. I also have an idea for a mystery series featuring an older woman, which takes place in the UK. Research trip! I love this job….