My Writing Process – Timelines

One of the things I love about my overall process is that I don’t really have a timeline. I start a story when I start it, and I finish it when I finish it. My timeline doesn’t really come into play until I’ve completed a story — because, for the most part, that’s when the pressure is off ME. Hehe.

When I started my writing journey, I wanted this to be fun for me. I wanted to enjoy what I was doing. And so far, I have. I write when I want or when need to, and when I’m blocked or otherwise at a loss for words, I set whatever I’m working on aside and either work on another story or do something else entirely.

I have that freedom and I love it.

Currently, I’ve got about seven stories I’ve started. Some have 20k words written, some have 100 words written, most are in between. Anyway, I decide which story to tackle based on my mood and which characters are talking to me. When a story is nearing completion, I do try to focus most of my energy on that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The most important thing to me is that I don’t force the story to happen. That’s why I don’t do timelines or deadlines when I’m writing. I’m afraid that if I’m under the wire, I’m going to produce crap. That’s not me saying writers with deadlines produce crap, it’s me saying that if I am under the pressure of a deadline, I will produce crap.

However, I might make some loose goals if I feel the end is near. For example, at the time I’m writing this post (it’s a Friday), I’ve got about 5 solid hours left of work to do on Wildflower (JACT 2.5). So I told myself yesterday, “Self, try to finish Joey’s book by Sunday.” Then I proceeded to play on Facebook, make teasers, and do all sorts of other things that had absolutely nothing to do with Wildflower. Reason #2 I wouldn’t make deadlines: I would constantly disappoint myself!

So, I wait until I’m finished with a story before setting up a timeline and my timeline consists of start/end dates for the following processes: re-read/re-write, beta, beta implementation, edit, edit implementation, proofread, send out ARCs, and finally, the release date. Somewhere in there I’ll insert: blog activity sign-up, cover reveal, release blitz/tour, etc. I space the items on this timeline out based on what has been most effective with previous releases, availability of service providers, time of  year, length of book, etc.

This process, and all my writing processes, are like living organisms in that they are constantly changing, growing, shrinking, etc. I try different methods until I find what fits and I discover new methods when I’m not even looking. I’ve found that my flexibility is one of the things that makes writing so much fun for me. It keeps things fresh and I don’t get lost to routines.

So tell me…
Authors, what do your timelines look like?
Readers, do you have any processes or hobbies you set up timelines for? 

Author Interview – Kayla Smith

I met Kayla about a year ago, when I first published Our Moon. I can’t remember exactly how we met, but I believe we may have participated in each other’s release parties? Maybe? Anyway, we’ve been chatting ever since and are now both participating authors in a multi-genre readers group, Readers of the Hidden Trove. If you’re not a member, check it out!

About Kayla, the author:

Tell us about your books/series, feel free to include links!

Devina is about a vampire, not just a normal vampire, she is a Royal Vampire. They are stronger and more powerful than regular vampires. Also, vampires are born not created. If they are created they are evil. Anyway, she is driven by revenge to catch the two men responsible for killing her mom and dad. On her quest to find them she meets Sebastian. Her destined mate. They go through hell and back but eventually figure out who is after her parents and them.

You can get Devina here Amazon or Smashwords.Kayla9

My Pandora series is about a girl who grew up in this world, but was born in Pandora, the kingdom she is a Princess of. She is also the key to winning the sixteen-year long war that the Evil Queen has been so kind to lead. Jackie is blessed, or cursed, with many gifts that a normal Pandorian would only dream of having. But these powers, although powerful, may lead to her premature death, if not used correctly. Zack, her lifelong best friend is there with her every step of the way. He has agreed to be her personal guard and he helps train her. You can get Return to Pandora at Amazon or Smashwords.

You can also get Into Pandora book 2 at Amazon or Smashwords.

What genre(s) do you write in?

I mostly stick to Paranormal. I like that anything can happen in a supernatural book. I tired writing one that wasn’t and I kept finding myself lost with where to take it.

Are any of your books your favorite?

Yes, one that I am working on right now. It doesn’t have a title yet. But it’s in the works and I am loving it.   

Where do you get your inspiration from? How do you come up with your characters and stories?

Most of the time they come in dreams. Yes, I dream up most of my stories. Except, sometimes they run through my head at the oddest of times. I could be driving home from a long day at work and my brain is still going strong. I came up with a new story that I am working on with another author at the moment from one of my drives home. But another story I am working on came from a dream. Well, more than one dream. Once I have an idea and I start writing it, my brain goes into overdrive giving me all these endless possibilities that I can add into my book.

I can relate. I have the same issues with my characters and inspiration. They start talking to me at the most random and unexpected times! ~ Jennifer

Are there any characters you love more than others? Why?

I think it’s Devina. But when I first wrote Pandora I was in love with how I made Jackie, strong, yet innocent in her lack of knowledge and her ability to actual take a life.

Devina is an adult, so she is strong willed and knows what she wants. She is fierce and doesn’t care for anyone but Ally. Ally is her “sister” and Devina will kill anyone who tries to harm her. Even though she is fierce she is still vulnerable and Sebastian brings that vulnerability out of her more and more.

Any characters you hate? Why?

Hate is a strong word. But, I dislike one or two from my Pandora series. They wont make it far in this series. And those die or have died are the ones I didn’t care for when I was writing the story.

If you were in a bind, which one of your characters would you call? Why?

Devina. She is very resourceful.

Kayla11Are there any pieces of you in your books?

More of me in Return to Pandora than Into Pandora, and my sassiness is a big part of Devina. But I can’t tell you which parts of me are in Jackie, because well, because that’s just not that important. lol

Which of your books would you recommend to a new reader?

I would first have to ask if they like vampires or not. If they do, then I immediately tell them to read Devina. If not then I tell them to go for Return to Pandora.

Why and when did you start writing?

I was depressed and writing came naturally to me. Writing also cheered me up more so I made it part of my life.

What’s the most difficult part of being a writer?

I would have to say that it varies during each book. I hate edits. No I despise them. But marketing and keeping up with it is the hardest part, besides getting people who have read my books to review them.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

Starting a new story is always the best. New characters, new adventures, and new everything. Even if its book 4 in a series, it’s still the best.

How do you handle criticism…constructive or otherwise?

I have had to deal with criticism in everything I have ever done. I know it helps to shape me, and I try to ignore the nasty and use the rest to better myself and my writing, but I don’t get too worked up with it. We are always going to have people that don’t like what we write even if it’s a NY times best seller. It’s part of the job.

What’s the best advice you’ve received as an author?

To get a professional editor and use better covers. My first book, long before my Pandora series was a horrible book. The storyline was great, but the book lacked an editor and a lot of the things wrong with it would have been fixed if I had only just paid for it then.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

I need snacks, and music. I prefer Reese’s, but chocolate in general in the best.  

How do you handle writer’s block?

I read. I read anything I have or can get in the same genre I am writing and after that book is done I go back to my keyboard and my brain is actually functioning again.

Do you have a go-to book blog?

No, I am still new to this blog business.

What is one thing you want people to know about you as an author?

That I strive to make each book better than the last and I am a very hardworking individual.

Do you have a current WIP, upcoming release, or other exciting book news you’d like to talk about?

I am working on book 3 of Pandora Series. If by some miracle I have it done before the end of the year I will have that one in December. I also have another book Michelle and I are working on and we planned for December as well. So we will see. That last one is still in the very early stages of being written so there isn’t much to discuss. I can’t really discuss book 3 of Pandora just because things I say will be a giveaway, but it is coming along great and there are many surprises laced into this beauty.

About Kayla, the person:

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I have 3 kids. I got married August 1st, I’m super excited. I also work full time as a Department manager for McDonald’s. I’ve working for McDonald’s for 10 years, and even though I am still there, I work hard and like it because they work with my schedule as a mom.

Favorite thing about your hometown?

My hometown is small. I knew everyone around my age, but it is a boring town, there isn’t much to do. No theater or mall, or anything like that for kids. But, my favorite part is the trial from West Street school (that starts in Southbridge) that leads you to Westville Dam (that ends in Sturbridge). Westville Dam is a nature trail as well. It circles the dam, and there are places to fish, and have picnics and parties.

Farthest place you’ve traveled from home?

My new place of living. Florida. I used to live in Massachusetts.

Favorite…Food? Color? Place? Movie? TV show? Song? Band? Etc…(whatever favorite things you’d like to share)

Food, Lasagna, Colors. Are purple, red, and lime green. Place, Westville dam. TV Show, only one? I love Arrow, the Flash, NCIS, Bones, The Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time. There are many more. These are my top choices.

Any weird collections?

I collect Scooby-Doo items. I have at least 10 stuffed animals and figurines in the boxes still. I even have a Pez collection of them.

Strange habits?

Define strange. I am a very unique induvial. All of my habits, may be strange. haha

What is something you’d like the book community to know about you as a person?

I am shy at first, and some people take it as me being rude. I have no intentions of being a rude person, I just don’t know how to make small talk with strangers. (Yeah, I’m that person.) Once you get to know me, I am pretty out going and enjoy spending time with everyone. So if you ever meet me, give me time to come out of my shell, I promise, I am not always that quiet and unsocial. Just ask my boss. 😉

Links:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Newsletter
Amazon Author Page
Goodreads Author Page

I’m so excited to have had Kayla here today. I hope you’ll check out her books and find something you like! Also, congrats to Kayla on being a newlywed! I wish you all the best!!

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If you’re an author, reader, or blogger and you want to be featured here in an interview, spotlight, or guest post. Let me know! jenniferlallenauthor@gmail.com

Five Random Facts About Me & KU Challenge

1. I collect shot glasses. I probably have more than 200 now and they are overflowing in my kitchen. I have to buy one every time I travel, or when I visit somewhere that has souvenir glasses. Even if I’ve been there before…even if I’ve purchased one before…there’s always a new one. It’s an addiction. I love it.

2. I’m lactose intolerant. Do you know how much it sucks to be a lactose intolerant Italian?

3. I have three siblings/siblings-in-law named Chris. BIL #1 – Christopher, BIL #3 – Christopher, Sister #1 – Christine. And I number those either in the order in which they became my in-law and/or by their age. Random fact within a fact: I have six brothers-in-law, two sisters-in-law, and three sisters.

4. I worked as a nanny for four years. Started with two kids (different families that did child care together) and ended with five.

5. I was born and raised in New York, on Long Island. I miss it.

September KU Challenge & Giveaway

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Join the September KU Challenge & Giveaway 9/1-9/30!
Over 60 authors have come together to offer an awesome giveaway in an effort to find new readers!

Come meet your new favorite author. Read for FREE with KU. Even better, we’ve pooled our funds to offer an awesome giveaway! Enter to win a Kindle and Amazon Gift Cards just for reading and telling us what you liked.

Not a Kindle Unlimited Member? You can enjoy a 30 day trial membership by clicking here. But don’t forget to start it on the 1st so you can take full advantage of the KU Challenge!

Join the challenge by clicking here.

Author Interview – Theresa Hissong

Today we’re chatting with Theresa Hissong. Theresa and I met in a group dedicated to rock star romance. We’re both lovers of rock music, so there’s lots to relate to there. I haven’t read any of Theresa’s work yet, but per her recommendation, I’m going to pick up a copy of Fully Loaded! I hope you do, too.

About Theresa, the author:

Tell us about your books/series:Theresa1

My rockstar series, Fatal Cross Live! follows the band Fatal Cross after they have cleaned up their life and are back on the road, living their dreams and meeting the woman who will own their hearts.

My vampire books are one of the first books I ever wrote.  The Warriors of the Krieger series follows ancient warriors who are the police force for the vampires in the fictional town of Port Royal.  Vampires are known by the humans and somewhat accepted. The two book available are Blood & Roses and Blood at Stake

Werepanthers are the sexy black cats that prowl in my series, Rise of the Pride.  The pride has recently been outed to the humans and they are learning to live amongst them.  The story follows these shifters as they meet their mates and try to keep everyone in their small Mississippi town safe from their enemies.

You can find all of my books on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, and more!

What genre(s) do you write in?

I write contemporary and paranormal romance.  My contemporary romance books are all about rock stars and my paranormal books feature werepanters and vampires in separate series’.

Are any of your books your favorite?

They all hold a special place in my heart. I don’t think I could ever pick a favorite.

Where do you get your inspiration from? How do you come up with your characters and stories?

For my rocker books, I attend a ton of concerts!  I’ve been known to travel up to 800 miles to see a show that I want to check off my bucket list.  In the last three years, I have met and become friends with some real life rock stars and they are always willing to answer any questions I might have when I’m researching for a book.

I can relate. I attended a rock festival earlier this year and came home with TONS of ideas to implement into a few rock star romance books. That and inspiration for new stories! ~ Jennifer

Are there any characters you love more than others? Why?

That answer varies from time to time.  Right now, I am totally in love with my panthers in the Rise of the Pride series.  This is a new series and I’m finding myself drawn to them more so than any other characters.  

Any characters you hate? Why?

Only the villains, but they get their due. Ha!

If you had to choose just one of your characters to party with, who would you pick?   Theresa4.jpeg

Oh, that one is easy! Donovan Milano from my book, Fully Loaded.  I wrote that book for
the charity Star Treatments.  The founder of the charity is rockstar bassist, Matt DiRito and also a great friend.  I don’t get to see him as much as I’d like, but when we do get a chance to cross paths, it’s always a wonderful time.

I looked up this organization, and wow! What they do is absolutely amazing! It’s definitely an organization I would support and you should check it out by clicking on the link above. ~ Jennifer

Are there any pieces of you in your books?

I tell everyone that each character has something of myself in each one.  It’s for the fans to find out what that is.

Which of your books would you recommend to a new reader?

I would start with Fully Loaded.  It is a stand-alone book and 50% of the proceeds go toward charity. Plus, I kind of love that book!

Why and when did you start writing?

In 2008, I was a military wife who’d just sent her husband to Iraq for the third time.  The deployment was going to be almost 10 months and I was tossing around ideas to burn the time with my best friend.  She suggested I try to write a book.  I laughed and laughed and laughed.

That night after the kids went to bed, I started thinking about what she’d said and then I thought “Why not?” I ended up writing a story with all of my friends as paranormal creatures and finished that book in about four months.  

After I read what I’d written, I caught the bug.  I started another book and wrote that one by the time my husband returned home. That book was my favorite and I sat on it for almost five years before I decided to publish it.  It is my very first book and is called “Blood & Roses” and it’s free everywhere.

I ended up closing my computer for awhile and didn’t think about writing again until the next deployment about a year later.  As time went on, I only wrote for fun, but never had anything concrete.

A few months before my husband retired from the military, I had an idea for a rockstar book and began writing again.

I haven’t looked back since.  It has been 3 years and I have no intention of stopping.  As long as I have a story inside me, I will continue to write, because I truly believe I have found my calling in life.

What’s the most difficult part of being a writer?

As a new writer, it’s self-doubt and being your own worst critic.  After you are published, it’s getting your name out there.  The long hours spent doing all of the behind the scenes stuff can take a toll, but in the end, when the readers send you beautiful emails and letters, saying how much they love your work, it’s worth all of the tears and stress.

I can completely relate to this. I am my own worst critic! And you are absolutely right, the messages from readers make all the ups and downs worth it. It’s an amazing experience. ~ Jennifer

What’s the best advice you’ve received as an author?

Write, write, and write!

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

No, I don’t think so.  Maybe, that I have to listen to music with headphones only and it MUST be blaring!  Like so loud that it forces me into the zone.

How do you handle writer’s block?

I heard something recently that I tried and it worked!  I was told to close my eyes and pretend I am my character. Take a walk, being them.  See what they see.  Where are they going?  What do they see?  What is going on around them? Who do they see along their way?  

That little bit of advice helped me out of a three week writer’s block on my last book.  

Do you have a current WIP, upcoming release, or other exciting book news you’d like to talk about?

I just sent book 2 in my Rise of the Pride series off to my editor.  The release date for “Winter” will be August 2nd! I’m so excited!

About Theresa, the person:

What do you do when you’re not writing?  

I love to fish and if I am not writing, you will usually find me at a lake with a lawn chair and a cold drink.

Farthest place you’ve traveled from home?  

Being military, our home was wherever we were sent.  We were never stationed overseas, but I would have to say that the furthest place was when we were stationed in Florida and took a 6 day trip to Forks, Washington to geek out over Twilight.  It was the best trip ever!

Favorite…Food? Color? Place? Movie? TV show? Song? Band? Etc…

Oh, wow! Food = Fried Chicken…Color = Red…Place = The Olympic Peninsula in Washington State…Movie = Underworld…TV Show= I haven’t watched TV in so long, I couldn’t even name anything…Band = Pop Evil

Any weird collections?

I used to collect movie scripts from vampire movies/TV shows (Twilight Saga & Vampire Diaries Pilot Episode)

Strange habits?

I eat way too many pickles! Haha!

What is something you’d like the book community to know about you as a person?

My fans are always telling me about concerts they are going to attend.  Reason why?  Because, if they are close and I can get away, I will meet them and be their concert buddy!  

Other than that…I am just me.

Links:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Newsletter
Amazon Author Page
Goodreads Author Page

I’m so excited Theresa stopped by and I loved learning a little more about her. As an author, it’s always fun to see what you have in common with other authors, and also what you can learn from them. Thanks so much for the interview, Theresa!


If you’re an author, blogger, or reader and are interested in doing an interview, guest post, or spotlight of some kind, give me a shout! jenniferlallenauthor@gmail.com

My Writing Process – Drafts, Start to Finish

A few people have asked me about the steps I take when writing a story. There are a TON of steps involved in writing a story, so today I’ll just share about the numerous drafts I produce and a few tidbits about each of them. This is by no means the Holy Grail of all processes, I’m sure there are hundreds of writers out there who have a better process than this, but I thought it might be interesting to readers to see how my stories come together.

The first draft I call my WIP (work in progress) draft. It’s rough and messy. Sometimes this takes me a few days, other times it takes me several months. For example, I took on a short story project last week and it’s done already. It took me about 4 days to complete the first draft. I have another WIP I’ve been working on for over a year, it’s a novella, and it’s still not done. I have other WIPs I’ve started and have a chapter or prologue done, but that’s it. This is the part of my process where all my creative juices need to be flowing. I don’t push it, if the story isn’t talking, I stop and work on something else. Near the end of this draft, or upon completion, is when I’ll announce that this story is happening. Since it can take anywhere from a week to a year to put it together, I don’t like to say anything until I know publication is imminent. Yeah, I have a WIP or two that people know about, like Joey’s story from the JACT series, but that’s because it’s a series and it’s expected. I haven’t “officially” announced it yet, and I won’t until it’s complete.

The next draft is my WIP-II. This is my re-write phase. I re-read the story and make sure everything appears cohesive, make some changes, and sometimes end up re-writing huge chunks of the manuscript. This part of the process is so important because when I write a story over a long period of time, I need to make sure it all meshes together. I might have been feeling a particular way when I wrote the first three chapters in June, and then differently when I wrote the next four chapters in December. So it’s important to make sure there’s a nice, smooth flow. This usually only takes a couple of days, unless I’m planning a major overhaul, then it might take longer because those creative juices need to be present again.

Next up is BETA. I send the manuscript to my beta readers unedited, and request a turnaround that makes sense with the length of the story. Usually, it’s about two weeks. It also depends on my planned timeline. Generally, I’m pretty easy going when it comes to my timeline. I’ve released four books, and out of those four, I’ve only put one on a strict timeline, Right Place, Right Time, because I wanted it to be released before a signing I was attending. Otherwise, I just go with the flow and wing it, allowing lots of room for error in my timeline. And I err a lot.

After BETA, I have my beta feedback implementation phase. This is when I…you guessed it…implement beta feedback. Sometimes this involves an overhaul. Not fun, but it happens. It happened with Our Moon and Right Place, Right Time. I changed A LOT in those books after BETA. I try to plan about a week for this. Sometimes it only takes a day, sometimes it takes longer than a week.

Next is the editing phase. I send it to my editor and she works her magic. The length of time this takes varies depending on how many mistakes I make and the length of the manuscript. When I get it back from my editor, I accept her spelling/grammar changes, review her notes and recommendations, and make the necessary changes.

Then we have proofreading! I send the proofread version of the book to my proofreader and she highlights any misspellings that made it through all the previous stages and I make those corrections. She also points out anything else she sees wrong with the formatting and/or story line.

Last is the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) stage. Somewhere along the way (I’ll talk about my publication timeline in another post), people have signed up to receive ARCs, so this is the point where I’ll send it to them. This takes place about 20-30 days before the scheduled release. It really depends on when editing is finished.

The only thing that happens after the ARC is polishing the final manuscript file, and making sure all the metadata is good to go and the cover is ready. Then I’ll upload the ebook and paperback files in the appropriate places and proof them.

Voila!

I think the most important things to take from this is that it’s not an exact science, there needs to be room for error, and it’s a process. I’m sure no two writers work the same way, but this is how I operate. At least for now. And it works for me. It’s not super intensive (which is exactly how I want it to be), there’s just a lot of reading and writing involved. It’s a good thing I like to do both!

Author Interview – MS Murray

I met MS Murray through a mutual acquaintance in a little readers group called Readers of the Hidden Trove. Check it out on Facebook, if you’re not already a member. We’ve chatted via Skype a few times and I gotta say, I love her accent! I look forward to introducing you to her here in this interview!! Oh…and get this…her hometown has a castle! A castle, people!

About MS Murray, the authorMichelle1

Tell us about your bo
oks/series, feel free to include links!

At the moment I have only two books out. One is a standalone and the other is part of a series of books called CASSIE. The standalone is called Silver Bells, Curses and Spells and Spells that was co-written with the fabulous K.M. Thompson. The book is based in New Orleans and is about a witch who has no luck with anything she casts. She’s a bit of a hot mess when it comes to spells. She ends up accidently causing it to snow in New Orleans making for a white Christmas that’s only a few weeks away. Eryx Castille is the asshole tycoon that wants to knock down the block she lives and works in and so she tries everything to deter him. Of course in her anger she turns to her spells to help and ends up cursing them both. They’ve both been given a tough lot in life and start to thaw a little toward each other. But first they need to get though the curse.

My other book CASSIE Black Sand was released in February this year and follows Cassiella Iron. Cassie comes from a long line of Hunters, a secret organization of people who keep the supernatural in order. Cassie ends up in a magical accident when she turns eighteen and for her, that’s the final straw. She doesn’t want to follow in her mother and father’s footsteps. All she wants is a normal nine to five doing something mundane and ordinary. On the day she graduates she’s moving from her family mansion into the guest house and on her last trip to the main house, it explodes, with her parents and little sister inside. She soon discovers that her parents were inside but that Jess her sister has been taken. From there Cassie dons her Hunter training like a glove and goes on the hunt for her sister and answers. She seeks out Vampire Lord Gabriel when the car she’s tracking leads into his territory. Together they search for Jess, but Cassie is suspicious of Gabriel. Why is he helping her and asking nothing in return?

The CASSIE series will have six books in total. In May I finished the second book CASSIE Blood Ties and just last week started writing CASSIE Bloodlines.

Amazon US: http://alturl.com/2jji9
Amazon UK: http://alturl.com/y6cj3
Amazon CA: http://alturl.com/rr3ps
Amazon AU: http://alturl.com/exmux
Smashwords: http://alturl.com/mxxdb
Kobo: http://alturl.com/n72kk
Nook: http://alturl.com/b5icbMichelle2

What genre(s) do you write in?

I don’t specifically write in any one particular genre. I’m more of a free spirit writer or as I like to call it a fart in the wind writer. I go wherever it takes me. My favorite genre to write in is fantasy. I love making up everything in the story, imagining something completely new. I have roughly at this moment in time ten books that I’ve started writing and in various genres. In my projects file I have a contemporary standalone, a contemporary romance series, a fairytale contemporary series, a dystopian series and a werewolf/shifter romance series to mention a few lol. Just a few. I know some writers pick one genre and stick to that, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, I’m personally just not like that. I’m too random of a person to not write in a variety of genres.

Are any of your books your favorite?

That’s a tough one. I can’t say that I prefer one to the other. They’re so different and I love them for different reasons.

Where do you get your inspiration from? How do you come up with your characters and stories?

This happens in a variety of ways. As I’ve said, I’m a pretty random person. Sometimes I have a dream about a story and when I wake up I instantly write it down so I don’t forget. Other times I’ll hit me like a shovel to the face. I’ll be talking to someone, watching something or cleaning and it’ll hit me. I sometimes get inspiration from TV or other books I read. I don’t steal other writer’s ideas or anything, just sometimes I’ll read something and the shovel strikes again.

Are there any characters you love more than others? Why?

There are. I can’t say too much but the second book in the CASSIE has some new characters who I love to pieces. Cassie, Gabriel and Andrea are probably my favorite. Cassie’s kinda feisty. She’s got an inner strength I completely admire and she’s a bit of a badass. Gabriel is a bit of an arse, but there’s more to him than that. I always write a little piece of myself in my characters and Gabriel represents the quiet part of me. The internalizer. As for Andrea, well she’s a little clumsy and a lot feisty too. I can totally relate to her when she does something stupid. I do silly things all the time then wish I could use the Idea Shovel to bury myself.

Any characters you hate? Why?

Ishtar. I definitely hate her. She’s a power hungry Hunter in the Cassie series. In the first book there’s only a little about her but the second book you get to know a little more. I’ll leave it like that because I can’t give too much away. Mwahahaha!!

If you had a bad day, which one of your characters would you reach out to for support?

Gabriel. I know a bit strange given he’s an arse and well an arse. But most of the time if I’m having a bad day I just really want someone to listen. I don’t need someone to tell me everything will be okay because sometimes it won’t. Gabriel wouldn’t bullshit me.

Are there any pieces of you in your books?

All of them. I can’t help but write myself in there. As I said before my character have some of my characteristics. They’re not me but they’re little pieces of me.

Which of your books would you recommend to a new reader?

Honestly I’m not sure. I think I’d say Silver Bells, Curses and Spells, more because it’s a standalone. I think if I recommended my CASSIE series they might not want to commit to a full series, especially if they’re new to reading.

Why and when did you start writing?

I started writing as a hobby. I fell in love with reading when I was roughly twenty-three. From there I got this idea for a story and started writing little bits and pieces. I honestly had no intention of writing a book, but the more I got into it the more I wrote. My step-dad passed away within two weeks of being told his cancer had returned after being given the all clear. I think when you lose someone you start to re-evaluate your own life. At the time I was a stay at home mum and had been for roughly eight years. I was a young mum and so my life had been bringing up my children. Something that I had chosen. When they went away to school I was a little at a loss on what to do with myself. That’s when the reading stared which eventually lead to my hobby. After Frank passed I put all my writing together and sent it off to an editor who encouraged me to keep going. I had the support of my family and friends but it was her encouragement that made me say, ‘this is it. This is my thing.’

What’s the most difficult part of being a writer?

God, there are so many. Time and juggling kids, house and husband every day. Keeping to my deadlines. Research and keeping up with social media. I could go on haha.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

The End. It’s so satisfying finishing a book. I can’t even begin to describe the high I get when I write those two little words. I also love when major parts of my story come together or I write I plot twist. I love those parts. When I write a plot twist I laugh an evil laugh and rub my hands together.

How do you handle criticism…constructive or otherwise?

Oh I love constructive criticism. The way I look at it is, I don’t always see what’s wrong with my book. Sometimes it takes another pair of eyes to find it and says Michelle your book sucks then point’s out the sucky parts. I encourage my Betas to be as harsh as possible. How do I expect my books to do well if the material is awful and unreadable? I haven’t had any bad reviews yet but I know there yet to come. I know myself they’ll hurt but the beauty of a book is always in the eye of the beholder. What one readers loves another wont. It’s just how it goes.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

I have many haha. When I’m writing an MS I put on a movie in the background. I then proceed to watch the movie on repeat until I’ve finished what I’m writing whether that be a chapter I need to finish or the entire book. When I was writing CASSIE Blood Ties my second book in the CASSIE series, I watched Jurassic World all day every day for two weeks. I find that when I’m in the ‘zone’ that I need background noise and when it’s repeated then I can keep my focus a lot better. During the making of one of my books I watch on average three – four movies, depending on what I’m writing and where I am in the story. That’s just one of them though. I have loads more.

How do you handle writer’s block?

Oh man!! I have a few different ways. One: dance. I fling on some tunes and dance like no one is watching, which I hope no one is, and dance it out. Sometimes it works just to focus on something else. Two: I read. Sometimes I just need to chill and not try to push the story too hard. Three: I talk to Kayla when I have writer’s block. Sometimes talking to someone can help me climb the wall blocking my creative juices. Four: Take a step away. There are times when none of this works and I have to take a breather. A few days where I do nothing in conjunction to writing. I don’t think there’s any right way to deal with it, I think what works for one writer won’t work for another.

Do you have a go-to book blog?

Not yet. It is on my to do list. Find a good book blog, right along with the other hundred things I’ve got to do. Any recommendations?

What is one thing you want people to know about you as an author?

I’m definitely as crazy as you think I am and I talk sooooo much. Jennifer can attest to that.

Do you have a current WIP, upcoming release, or other exciting book news you’d like to talk about?

I have a few projects I’m really excited about. The first would be that CASSIE Blood Ties will hopefully be released in the next few months. I don’t have a date as I’m waiting for my editor to get back to me. There is also a secret project I’m working on with the amazing Kayla Smith, but I can’t say too much about it at the moment.

About MS Murray, the person:

What do you do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing I spend time with my husband and kids. When we’ve got nothing planned I tend to read or buy stickers. I’m in love with my planner and buy too many stickers for it.

Favorite thing about your hometown?

Oh there’s lots I love about where I live. My favorite thing is probably the Castle. We have a Castle that sits on a hill in the middle of our village and it’s pretty awesome. There’s a lot of history here.

Farthest place you’ve traveled from home?

Switzerland. We travelled there with the school and oh, my, god, it was breathtaking. Honestly amazing. I’d love to go back one day.

Favorite…Food? Color? Place? Movie? TV show? Song? Band? Etc…

I don’t have a favorite color. I think the fact that we even have color is amazing. They’re all so pretty. As for food, man that’s even tougher. I love chocolate, pizza, pasta, Tyrells crisps, steak, all kinds of BBQ food – especially if it’s pork, haggis, food…there’s too much amazing-ness to choose from. At the moment my favorite movie is Jurassic World. Gotta love some dinosaurs and a bit of Chris Pratt. As for TV shows, at the moment I’m loving Wayward Pines. Holy crap, I didn’t see that plot twist coming. I had to pause the TV and freak out for a second. But overall I love Supernatural.

Any weird collections?

I haven’t got any weird collections recently, but in my loft (attic) I have roughly three boxes filled with porcelain dolls that I started to collect when I was roughly nine. They’re so pretty but they freak my husband out. Maybe I’ll bring them down for Halloween, wait till he’s asleep then place them all around the room. Pretend to sleep myself then wait for the girly screams. Yes, I’m evil. I know.

Strange habits?

Yes, I can’t have space between my husband’s pillow and mine. I know when there’s a gap and instantly wake up and fix it. It’s weird I know.

What is something you’d like the book community to know about you as a person?

I love you guys. Which means I love myself too cause I’m part of the book community lol. Without your support over the past few years I wouldn’t be here today. I greatly appreciate every single one of you!!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Don’t be afraid to reach for your dreams. Nothing in this life comes easy, not a thing worth having anyway. You gotta work hard to reach them. Don’t give up, your stronger than you think you are!!

Links:

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Thanks for coming by, MS Murray! It was so good to have you here and learn more about you and your books!!

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Authors With Southern Charm Re-Cap

My second signing has come and gone and I miss it already!!

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What I love about signings is having the opportunity to meet readers and other authors. If I were to take a personality test (which I have; hello, psych major here!), it would tell you that I’m about 50/50 introverted/extroverted. I translate that to mean that while I love chilling in my house reading or writing, I also love interacting with people, especially those with common interests. A book convention? It’s the best of both worlds for me, and probably to others as well as I bet there are a lot of other bookworms like myself who are introverted and would rather be at home reading, unless they have someone who gets it to chat with.

So I had a great time and met lots of great people. I loved being able to put actual faces to the names I’ve chatted with on Facebook, too. I met, in person, three of the people who are putting on three future events I’m attending, and that was really neat. I also met a few readers I know from FB as well. I think I said this in my last signing recap post, but having everything happen in person makes things so much more real! I love it.

My husband, Brad, got to attend this signing with me. He went with me to Sassy in Savannah back in October (I went as a reader) and I think he was mildly terrified of the book world. But he wanted to support me and see me in action, so-to-speak, so he bucked up and came. We set up at the venue Friday night and met a few people. We hit it off with Harper Sloane and Felicia Lynn (their tables were right beside mine) off the bat due to Pokemon Go. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that. 😉 And I got to meet author AF Crowell and MJ Carnal, too.

The day of the signing was long, but it was fun. I got to chat with author Rie Warren, who was seated sort of across from me. I met another FB friend and blogger, Kim. I also got to meet Stephanie from Stephanie’s Book Reports. Steffy Rogers was seated across from me and I enjoyed chatting with her.

Unfortunately I didn’t make it around to all the tables as I would have liked. The signing room was very large, so I was afraid if I went to the other side of the room, I’d miss a reader who stopped by to visit me, and I was there for the readers, not to indulge my own fangirling. So I’m a little bummed about that, but I’ll live. My goal for the next signing is to try to make it around to see everyone, maybe during set-up or something.

All in all, it was a great day. Sheraka and Jessica from Crazy and Chaotic Book Babes did a great job organizing the event. I also got some fun ideas from other authors of things to do at future events.

Next stop: Carolina Book Fest in Charlotte, NC. I am glad for the few months of reprieve, but I’m already excited for it. I can’t wait to meet more readers!

Blogger Interview – Jackie from Bookworm Mom!

About Jackie, the reader/bloggerInterview_Blogger_Jackie2

What’s the name of your blog? Links?

My blog is called Bookworm Mom.

The link to my blog site is http://bookworm-mom.blogspot.com

The link to my blog’s Facebook page is http://facebook.com/bookwormmomblog

Is it just you running the show, or do you have help? 

It’s just me.  🙂

Tell us a little about the things you post on your blog. 

I post reviews, spotlight type posts, cover reveals, book tours, release blitzes, excerpt reveals, and things like that.  I have also recently started to participate in a couple weekly features, so I’m excited about getting some new content posted to the blog.

What’s one thing you want everyone to know about your blog?  

It’s just a little piece of me where I post about the books that I love.

What’s your most favorite thing about blogging? 

Definitely meeting new authors, discovering new books, and making new book friends!

Least favorite? 

I can’t say that I really have a least favorite thing about blogging.  I love it all.

Favorite swag to receive or to giveaway? 

I love to receive any kind of swag, especially bookmarks, pens, and lip balm.  I haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve been able to give any swag away, but I’d love to be able to do that someday.

Most prized book possession? 

Definitely my signed books.  I will always cherish those.

What is the absolute best moment you’ve had as a blogger? 

I think any time I’m able to form a relationship with an author is pretty special.  There are some that I really feel like I’ve gotten to know and can call a friend.

What is your favorite genre or sub-genre and why? 

I love to read romance books, specifically NA, YA, and contemporary.  I also enjoy romantic suspense and romantic comedy.  I just love the feeling of watching these characters who seem so real to you fall in love and start their life together.

Have you ever read a book that completely destroyed you? 

Yes!  Stay by B.A. Wolfe completely wrecked me.  There was a part of the book where I actually had to put my Kindle down and I broke down sobbing.  It was a straight up ugly cry moment.  My husband was sitting in the chair across from me and he looked at me like I was crazy once he realized I was crying over the book.  LOL!

Have you ever not been able to finish a book? What did you do? How did it make you feel?  

There have been a few times recently when I’ve been unable to finish the book.  I just set it aside and move on to a different one.  I feel bad when I’m unable to finish a book, but I keep telling myself it’s okay because you’re not going to like every single book you pick up.

Interview_Blogger_Jackie2About Jackie, the person:

Favorite hobby (aside from reading and blogging)? 

I really enjoy photography.

Favorite thing about your hometown? 

There is always something to do here.

Farthest place you’ve traveled from home? 

Our chorus class in high school traveled to a competition up in Pennsylvania.  (I’m in North Carolina)

Favorite…Food? Color? Place? Movie? TV show? Song? Band? Etc…

Food:  Pizza!

Color:  Blue and Pink

Place:  any kind of book store 😉

Movie:  How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

TV Show:  (Ohh, this may be a long list. I can’t list just one LOL!)  Grey’s Anatomy, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, General Hospital, Friends, King of Queens

Any weird collections? 

Nope.

Strange habits? 

Not that I can think of.

What is something you’d like the book community to know about you as a person?

I’m a very shy but fun and loyal person and I love making new friends so feel free to reach out to me!  🙂

Any final parting words? 

Thanks for interviewing me!  I had fun sharing about myself and my blog.  🙂

Second Chances Series Special – FREE & SALE

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Exciting news to share today! If you follow me on Facebook or receive my newsletter, then you already know…my Second Chances series is on special this week!!

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Change of Heart (Second Chances 1) ~ FREE

Casey Evans and Decker Abrams had been best friends since they became neighbors at the age of six. After high school, Casey abruptly leaves their hometown of Charleston, South Carolina for the west coast, leaving Decker wondering where she went and why she left.

Three years later the two are reunited, both harboring some old resentment towards the other. Not to mention, Casey has been hiding a pretty big secret from Decker all those years. Not willing to risk losing Casey again, Decker follows her back to California in an attempt to save their friendship.

Will Casey and Decker work out their issues and be best friends again? Or will they finally become something more?

Get it on Amazon now!!

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Right Place, Right Time (Second Chances 2) ~ 99 cents Pre-Order

Kate Dumont is an achiever, completely focused on her future. Playing the role of brilliant pre-med student doesn’t leave her much time for anything else. But is she working towards the future she wants, or the future her elitist parents have planned out for her?

Jay Spencer grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. He’s made some mistakes, and one in particular will follow him around for the rest of his life. He spends most of his days keeping himself out of trouble by following his passion, riding and repairing motorcycles.

Two lost souls met on the side of a South Carolina highway three years ago, neither one knowing what they would eventually mean to each other. Reunited in California, Kate and Jay feel a pull towards one another they cannot explain…and they’re not even sure if they should try.

Will they help each other bring out the best in themselves? Or are their lives too different to even have a chance?

Get it on Amazon now!!

Author Interview – Maria Bernard

AuthorPicI met this lovely lady last year due to our love of rockstar romance! I joined a rockstar romance book group she manages, Rockstars Among Us, and we both participated in a Rocktoberfest event on Facebook. I haven’t read any of her books yet, but I’m just dying to dig into them. Her newest release, House of Goths, has intrigued me and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!!

About Maria Bernard, the author.

Tell us about your books/series, feel free to include links!

So far, I have written and published thirteen books. I have self-published two completed series of four books each, two spinoffs, and two stand-alone books. Very recently, I have released my thirteenth book, House of Goths.

My books are considered by readers as highly romantic and sweet with a healthy dose of steam. My bands feature realistic characters with enough quirks to suck readers into their angsty little worlds and hold them there. The bands and individual artists in my books are not world renowned musicians. The stories mostly focus on up-and-coming musicians. One or two books feature rockers who’ve achieved a certain level of fame to then suffer the consequences of that very same fame. I like writing about the different aspects related to being in a band, and how each member brings with them their own individual personalities and talents.

What genre(s) do you write in?

I write contemporary romance focussing on the rock star sub-genre. I have also written one paranormal rock star romance.

Are any of your books your favorite?

House of Goths, The Balcony, and A Dream For Winter.

Where do you get your inspiration from? How do you come up with your characters and stories?

I get my inspirations by daydreaming about imaginary lives and situations. Musicians and artists have always intrigued me. Creativity attracts me and I love being around creative types. They captivate me. I’m not so much attracted to those in positions of power but show me a songwriter or a painter and I’m all about it.

Are there any characters you love more than others? Why?

I love them all, but I do have favourites. Ashton Wright from Hand In Glove because he was my first born, Sage Winters Lane, the original Gothstar from A Dream for Winter will always have a special place in my heart. Darien River from Joy and Sorrow is my dream come true, and I absolutely adore Becky Sparks from my new release, House of Goths.

Any characters you hate? Why?

I don’t hate any of my main characters. But there are a couple of villains I may not like.

If you could choose one of your characters to travel the world with, who would you choose and why?

Great question! I absolutely adore travelling, so much so, that I’ve written travels into many of my books. In fact, I’ve travelled in most of my books with many of my characters since they are in bands and they tour. I’ve gone to OBX a few times with my characters from the Stick Shift Lips Series. I’ve gone to LA’s infamous Sunset Strip with my characters in Dream Crush! I’ve hinted at England with my These Bones Goth Series.

HouseofGothsNow, since my House of Goths release, I’m tagging along on a trip to England with Crispin Clover, who has gotten quite the loyal following. I am so looking forward to this trip! That’s one of the greatest benefits of being a writer. I honestly feel as if I am planning a real trip with this guy. Should be quite interesting. He’s a moody one, though. Not always a good quality in a travelling companion, but it should make for an interesting adventure.

Are there any pieces of you in your books?

Besides being a writer, I am a visual artist. I studied Fine Arts, Drawing and Painting at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). This trait is found in quite a few of my characters. For example, Falquen Forrester from Falquen’s Nest is a bass player and a painter who owns an art supply shop. His love interest, Janie Drago is a watercolorist. Chloe Martin from Hand In Glove is also an artist, as well as her sidekick, Audrey from Sound Shelter who is a Graphic Designer.

Which of your books would you recommend to someone who hasn’t read your books before?

I would recommend Falquen’s Nest since it is the first book of four in my These Bones Series. Hopefully, by reading it, you would then get hooked and read the rest. Also, I really enjoyed writing it. The characters are unique. They’re goths, they’re rockstars, but they also have other interesting qualities that make them who they are.

Why and when did you start writing?

I started writing during a spell of insomnia about six years ago. I was working midnights, and on my days off, my system was all messed up. I’d wake up at 3 AM. I’d be wide awake. I had to do something or I’d go bonkers. So, I started writing out my daydreams. I loved it. I took to it quite naturally. Eventually, I had the entire Stick Shift Lips Series written before I published book one. Eventually, I got up the nerve to self-publish and I’ve never looked back.

What’s the most difficult part of being a writer?

For me, it has to be when a character of mine is torn apart or misunderstood. These are my kids after all. No one likes their kids being picked on. While I get that certain characters are rather unlikable since I may have written them that way on purpose, I like to think that they have redeeming qualities.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

Besides the actual act of writing itself, my favourite part of the process is when a reader reaches out to me to tell me that they loved my book. More than that, because they related to the story on a personal level or that I have somehow given them an escape from reality.

How do you handle criticism…constructive or otherwise?

Well, I get offended at first. Then I think about it. Then I take the good with the bad and see where I can make positive changes in current and future projects. At some point, I will laugh at myself for taking it too seriously. I’ve often said that it is not thick skin I need, it’s a sense of humour that is my best form self-preservation. The ability to laugh or smile at my mistakes has been a lifesaver to my sensitive soul.

It’s always hard to take criticism. The ego does not like it at all, but once I allow the initial feelings to pass, I can focus on the helpful aspect of the critique and use it to better myself. Also, I try not to beat myself up about it. In the end, no one’s perfect.

What’s the best advice you’ve received as an author?

The best advice came from my husband and best friend who encouraged me to get up the courage to self-publish. Also not to be too harsh on myself if I should happen to make mistakes. We learn from our mistakes. Even if we fall on our faces, we will get back up again.

How do you handle writer’s block?

Writer’s block is not my problem but procrastination is. Plus with so many distractions like Social Media, it’s very challenging to simple focus of the writing.

What is one thing you want people to know about you as an author?

I am an idealist. While I try and bring readers some form of realism in my stories, you will always be given a sweet if not bittersweet experience. I’m a protective, & kind creator of characters. My characters may have it rough at times but they will prevail in the end.

Do you have a current WIP, upcoming release, or other exciting book news you’d like to talk about?

I have a number of things currently on the go. I did promise myself to take a couple of months off between my last release and my next project. I need that space to declutter the brain. But in the near future I have a romantic suspense to release. I’m aiming for late Fall if not Christmastime. Besides that one, I’m very excited to be a part of a top secret collaboration with a talented bunch of authors. (But that’s all I am going to say on the matter.)

About Maria Bernard, the person.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Originally a Veterinarian because of my love of animals. But then I realized I was too sensitive to be around pain & suffering. So then I chose to be an Artist, to paint and draw. It was a more natural fit with my personality.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Recently, I’ve been busy promoting, building my website/blog. I’ve also been working on my newsletter. It’s endless, really.

Favorite thing about your hometown?

I grew up in Toronto which is a great multicultural city with a ton of creative types/artists/musicians.

Farthest place you’ve traveled from home?

To Rome on a cruise ship!

Favorite…Food? Color? Place? Movie? TV show? Song? Band? Etc…

Food: I love fresh bread. I cannot live without it. Give me a loaf of Fresh Italian Bread and a glass of red wine and I’m in heaven.
Colour: Red
Place: Not so much a place but the journey itself. I’ve learned that from travelling. It’s the anticipation of discovery that compels me!
TV Show: None
Movie(s): Last of The Mohicans, Pirates of The Caribbean 1, Interview With A Vampire, Only Lovers Left Alive.
Song: Too many to mention
Band(s): Duran Duran, U2, The Cure and HIM

Any weird collections?

No, and I am glad I’ve never been a collector of anything. I like open space too much. And I can’t stand clutter. I’m forever minimizing around the house.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

As always the best way to discover a new to you author is to read their books. Just so you know, I currently have two FREE firsts-of-series for those readers who haven’t yet met me.
Hand in Glove, Stick Shift Lips Rockstar Romance Series, Book One
Falquen’s Nest, These Bones Rockstar Romance Series, Book One

Both books will give you a good look into my writing. Hopefully you’ll get hooked!

*These freebies are available from all major ebook sellers including iBooks, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords and Amazon. *Please, first verify with your Amazon Book Store.
Also be sure to add my BLOG to your browser to learn more about my books, and stop in regularly for updates!
Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER to receive news on book releases, book news, and sales!

Additional Links:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Facebook: House of Goths
Twitter
Newsletter
Amazon Author Page
Goodreads Author Page

Big thanks to Maria Bernard for tolerating my questions!! I’m so happy to have connected with you and made another friend in the book community. Us Indies have to stick together!

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If you are a writer, blogger, reader, or other service providing member of the book community and want to be interviewed, shoot me a message at jenniferlallenauthor@gmail.com!