Dreams are Stranger than Fiction

Several months ago, I was privileged to be a part of an anthology with twelve other authors called Dreams are Stranger than Fiction. The idea was to take a dream we’d had and turn it into a story.

Here’s the link on Amazon.

And also, the Prologue from my story, It Brings the Wind:

Old man Jefferies reclined on his front porch and filled a pipe with tobacco. He didn’t smoke often, but when he did, it was usually during the summer before September’s harvest. To say he was anxious would be an understatement. The season had been unusually dry and the impending rain was much needed. After lighting the pipe, he inhaled and closed his eyes. The breath was deep enough to make him cough, but when the smoke circulated through his lungs, he relaxed.

Today had been a hard one. Most of them were, but today’s work was grueling. He’d been in the field at sun-up, cutting a water furrow in preparation for the inclement weather. The afternoon was spent in another field, loading and unloading hay for his cattle. Though it was back-breaking and tedious, that was a job he enjoyed. Had bovine farming been a lucrative business in the little town of Rouler, he’d sell all his tractors and combines and trade them in for another five-hundred head of cattle. But in Rouler and throughout the entire South, cotton was King as was sugarcane, soybeans, and corn.

As usual, his wife had prepared an outstanding meal. Pork chops, squash and butter beans they’d grown themselves, and a pan of cornbread. Mrs. Jefferies was known throughout four parishes for her home cooking. They’d met and married as high school sweethearts, had four daughters, and at least a dozen grandchildren. Three or four great-grands too. Their life wasn’t without hardships, mostly financial, but overall, Jefferies thought it had been a good run.

“Want a cup of coffee?” Mrs. Jefferies’ head poked through the screen door.

Beads of sweat lined his forehead, but he couldn’t refuse the bitter chicory flavor he’d grown accustomed to having every night. “Only if you’ll join me, hon.”

“I’d love to.”

Seconds later, she kicked open the screen with her foot and passed the cups to him. Closing the wooden door was not an option. Not if they wanted to sleep cool tonight. The sun had been down for hours, but the temperature and humidity remained high. Having lived Rouler their entire lives, they should’ve adapted to it, but both still complained daily.

“This heat, I swanee to the Good Lord it gets hotter every summer.”

“Don’t I know it,” he agreed. “Supper was exceptional tonight, hon. I don’t know how much better you’re gonna get at makin’ that stewed squash.”

“You flatter me.”

In the pasture in front of the house, the cows bellowed and snorted, indicating their irritation. At first, their displeasure was limited to only a few, but soon, the entire herd seemed to be bawling at the same time.

“Wonder what’s got them stirred up?” Mrs. Jefferies asked, her head tilted to one side as if she could hear the culprit over the cattle’s distress.

“Not a damn clue, but I swear if it’s those kids comin’ to tip ‘em over, I’m gonna pump ‘em full of lead.” He stood and went inside, his footfalls heavy enough to be heard on the porch.

“They’re kids,” she called out. “Don’t you remember what it was like to be fifteen?”

After he returned with his shotgun, he clicked off the safety and tramped down the steps. “Barely. Have the phone ready to call the police. If I can’t shoot their asses, you can bet I’m havin’ them hauled off to jail.”

“I’ll be waitin’.”

Trudging through the gate, Mr. Jefferies entered the pasture, certain the herd was closer to the fence. He hadn’t brought a flashlight because the full moon had been enough illumination, but a dark cloud appeared in what he thought was a cloudless sky. The cattle’s grunts and groans grew louder. So loud that he wondered if they were in pain.

Mr. Jefferies started to call out for his wife, but as soon as he opened his mouth, the bellowing stopped.


Complete silence.

Dead silence.

With uneasy steps, he edged back towards the dim light of home, still unable to see his surroundings until he felt something warm and wet pool around his feet. Had he stepped in manure? The cloud disintegrated above him, and offered the full glow of the moon. Mr. Jefferies glanced down and his voice caught in his throat. He hadn’t stepped in manure, but the intestines of a cow, and around him lay the herd. The entire herd. Five thousand dead, disemboweled cows.

A bitter wind blew through the dry grass and froze it solid. Mr. Jefferies had never experienced air this bone-chilling cold in his entire seventy-seven-years, not even when he went elk hunting in Alaska and especially not in Louisiana in the summertime. His boots stiffened and when he tried to move, he couldn’t. Desperate, he fired off a warning shot, but it was too late. A grey mass hurled towards him, leaving nothing but a pool of blood and the gun.

The Island

From the USA Today bestselling fantasy author of the House of Crimson & Clover novels comes a chilling new historical fantasy series, Vampires of the Merovingi. Ancient lore, a vidid historical backdrop, and elusive, tantalizing mythical creatures await readers as they dive into the secretive, ancient, powerful world of The Saga of Crimson & Clover.

1789. Saint-Domingue. Hispaniola. West Indies.

Etienne de Blanchefort has seen incredible success as a colonial planter in the Northern Province of Saint-Domingue. Though uprooting his family from France a decade past was a gamble, life in the tropical West Indies has been good to him, his wife, and four children. With France embroiled in their great revolution across the Atlantic, he harbors little doubt he made the right decision for his family’s future.

Until, that is, the arrival of his fiend.

Etienne’s practical nature cannot reconcile what he knows to be true of his world with what he cannot ignore about the abominable creature haunting his family and the island.

Nor can he ignore his wife’s terrifying dreams that slowly steal her vitality.

Or Victorine’s burgeoning free spirit and wariness of their way of life.

Or Nanette’s curious, furtive behavior as she hides in trees.

Or Marius’ secret new friendship with one he cannot name.

Or Flosine’s unsettling drawings of a man from a time long before theirs.

Etienne’s fiend will not stay elusive for long. He has a request. A very particular, very important request, one that will change the lives of Etienne, his family, and his descendants forever.

Buy Links:





Google Play:

My review:


This book was the first in a fascinating new series by Sarah M. Cradit. I have to be honest: vampires aren’t my most favorite thing to read about but this book blew my mind! Cradit’s masterful storytelling combines equal parts mythology, history, and imagination to create a hauntingly beautiful tale of intrigue and opportunity. I would recommend to all lovers of historical fiction as well as paranormal fantasy.

Latch is LIVE! 

Fiona Davenport’s Passion, Vows & Babies Kindle World is launching 10 new stories!!
From sexy stories with married couples fighting outside forces to keep their Happily Ever After in the Passion & Vows series, to unexpected pregnancies that lead to happy marriages in the Yeah, Baby series, the Passion, Vows & Babies world is full of over-the-top alpha heroes, sassy heroines, insta-love, wedding bells, and growing families. While some characters have found the loves of their lives, there are plenty of new relationships to be explored. Who else is out there, just waiting for Passion, Vows & Babies to come along?

10 Authors!

10 Brand New Stories!

Check out the books here!

Anonymous Bride by KL Donn →

Body Language by Rochelle Paige →

Latch by Elizabeth Burgess →

Lust, Lies, & Leis by Kristen Luciani →

More than Falling by S. Van Horne →

The Perfect Couple by Ginger Scott →

Seven year Itch by Sarah Curtis →

Tough as Nails by Amy Briggs →

Unbearable by Kristen Hope Mazzola →

Undercover Marriage by N. Kuhn →


Learn More about the Passion, Vows & Babies Kindle World!
Join The Facebook group for fun activities, release parties, cover reveals, ARCs and to stay up to date on future launches!

The Hinterland Veil–Volume 7 in The House of Crimson and Clover


Bravery conquers fear. Fate races time.





Google Play:


The Deschanels are scattered across Europe, each in search of what matters most.

Finding himself closer to Ana every day, Finn must exercise patience, and follow his Quinlan training, to prevent losing her forever. 

Aleksandr sees the world through a different lens, as he discovers the joy and heartbreak of first love. 

Desperate for a miracle, Nicolas fears losing Mercy to her own delusions, and together they set off for Scotland in search of the unknown. 

At the center of everything sits Anasofiya and Cyler, each fighting their own internal battles, each hurtling toward very different outcomes. 

In this compelling seventh volume, our heroes grow ever closer to their goals as bravery conquers fear and fate races time. 

My review: Fans of Sarah M. Cradit have come to expect several things from her work, but two stand out to me: plot twists and non-stop action. The Hinterland Veil is a perfect example of her ability to pull the reader directly inside the story and just as the characters do–get moved around with the natural ebb and flow of the storyline.In this installment, we see our favorites (Nic&Mercy, Ana&Finn, young Alexsai) and others weather hardships, heartbreaks, and maybe even experience a triumph (seriously, plot twist of the century). THV is a full circle in many ways. Though it lacks the in-your-face gut punch of Midnight Dynasty or Myths of Midwinter, this book is the beginning of a HEA for many of the characters we’ve rejoiced and suffered with. As always, start from the beginning with Volume 1, Illusions of Eventide, grab a blanket and a bottle of wine (or seven), settle into a comfy chair and get started. Your housework may suffer, but you’ll be so lost in the world of the Deschanels and Sullivans that you won’t care. 

For Your Reading Pleasure…Tara Benham


Tara Benham is with us today. Let’s read about her writing process. 

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)
Hi!! I’m Tara Benham. I’m an Occupational Therapist, photographer and author. I have a fur baby and live in Kentucky. I have creative ADD, (as well as regular ADD) which can be spotted in my works. My first book was YA sci-fi/suspense but my WIP is YA paranormal.
Link for my book

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

Most of the time my characters choose their names. With “At Night’s End” I had McCaid and Ever’s names before I even had a story. 

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

You mean they’re not? Kidding. Yes. I do talk about them as if they were real. 

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

I listen to music even when I’m not writing. It is my muse. I listen to all kinds of music. However when I’m writing it’s usually Imagine Dragons, X Ambassadors, or Hollywood Undead. They really help with setting the mood for me. 

5. How long have you been writing?

I’ve wrote on and off for as long as I can remember but I got serious about it in 2011 when I started At Night’s End. 

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

There are still some days I’m unsure if I’m meant to be a writer. I love to write though so I will continue even if it’s just for myself. 

7. Do you have a muse?

Imagine Dragons. 

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

I attend UtopYa Con (now Utopia) this past June. It felt like finding home. I was surrounding by people who got me. It was very motivational and educational. 

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

My characters talk to me, and I talk to my computer or them as I write. I suppose that is a quirk? No superstitions though.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

My current WIP is titled “Falling” it’s the first in The Soul Collector’s Series. It’s about Bayla who is a soul collecting angel. In the first book, she is beginning her newest rescue mission.  

11. What book are you reading now?

It’s really hard for me to read when I’m writing. I’m always afraid the other authors idea’s or voice will bleed into my story. 
12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?

I write YA and usually in first person. It flows better for me. 

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I’m a total Pantser (fly by the seat of my pants) writer. I have no preparations, profiles or outlines. Just a general idea of the plot line. 

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

Usually I do, however sometimes my characters act up and change things on me. It happened with the Falling book recently. I find it fun and exciting for the most part. 

15. Do your books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

If there’s a message or theme it’s purely accidental. I usually write for entertainment. 

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

I’m obsessed with coffee and Sunkist. 

17. Tell us about your other passions.

I love reading when I’m not writing. I also own a photography business that I love doing. It gives me a different creative outlet. 

18. What’s something interesting about you?

My A&P teacher was the kid from The Shining. 

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

From Falling 
Dinner was a fun event, Hannah joined us during her break. It was a nice distraction from my thoughts as we sat around the table at the café having fun, and laughing. Declan turned the charm on full blast, regaling us with his adventures of his travels. Whether they were stories made up for his part he was playing or if they were true, they were funny. He was in the middle of telling us about getting lost in a country that he wasn’t familiar with the language, and after some confusion, was able to procure a bed for the evening. He proceeded to explain that because of the lack of communication, he ended up sharing a bed with a little old lady, who thought he was sent as an answer to his prayers, and he spend the majority of the night fighting off her advances, or hiding in the bathroom of the hostel. We were in tears by the time he finished his story. Hannah had spit water everywhere, and Mr. Whitstock almost fell off his chair. Declan chuckled some at his story, but mostly he looked amused at his ability to make the four of us laugh so hard. We were just calming down when Gray headed our way for his break. Hannah gathered herself, and waved bye as she went back to work. Gray took her seat.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I love books that create worlds that allow you to escape. Even if just for a moment. I truly hope that I can provide that to you all with my books. Thank you for your support!!!

For Your Reading Pleasure…Colleen Nye


Today, Colleen Nye is with us. We’re glad she’s here! 

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)
I am a published author. Along with several anthologies, I have two novels, When in Maui and Immersion. I am also an event coordinator.
Email –
Facebook –
Twitter – @Colleen_Nye
Instagram – Authorcolleennye
Pintrest – @WriterNye

2. How do you choose names for your characters?
By basically, I think of a name, think of any rude nicknames or if the strength of the name feels like a fit for the strength of the character. Then I think about how it would sound of a fan would be raving about the book and how the name would sound int hat conversation. I go through names until i find one that seems to fit.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?
Yes…. I try not to, but yes, I do.

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?
I do! When in Maui actually has the Blue October discography as like a soundtrack. I had a playlist for when I was writing Immersion as well.

5. How long have you been writing?
Since I was a little girl.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.
I think I always knew it. But when I started writing when in Maui and finished it so quickly, it felt right.

7. Do you have a muse?
The world around me. Everyone.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

Reading, gaining life experience, watching movies and listening to what readers say about the books they’re reading.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

Shhhhh…. if I tell you, then you’ll jinx me.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

Which one? LOL I have a few. #1 When in Doubt (When in Maui, book 2). #2 I am co-leading a 5 book anthology set called The Debut Collective and have a short story in all five books. #3 I am leading an anthology set that’s a unique take on anthologies. I write the over-arching story line for each book, each book has it’s own theme. Each book also has a group of guest authors that write short pieces that are embedded in the story line that I write. So basically, a full novel with guest authors’ pieces throughout. Book 1 is going to print. Book two is started. Book three is gathering authors. #4 My writers’ group is starting their 4th anthology. (I’m in the second and third) #5 I have a sci-fi trilogy that’s knocking on my writer’s brain waiting for me to have some of this all completed so I can start in on that. #6 I have a published short story that has turned into a full novel in my head. I’m slowly working on that as well.

11. What book are you reading now?

I just closed two books. I need a break and am writing currently. But the were Stacey Rourke’s Steam and Amy Bartol’s Darken the Stars. Both AMAZING books!

12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?

I skip around, but I prefer clean NA

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I get an idea and start writing… I take notes along the way.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

When I write it. 

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

I would think every book has some sort of message. But I think it’s up to the reader to figure out what that is to them.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

Water… gotta keep hydrated! Smart water to be specific. And Dove Chocolate Bars. 

17. Tell us about your other passions.

Marketing. I love to market and network. And I’m starting a small publishing house to help some other great authors out that just don’t have a home yet for their book babies.

18. What’s something interesting about you?

Oh, i suppose that’s up to the observer. I’m strange, quirky and often misunderstood. But aren’t we all?

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

Who turned the sun on and why hasn’t anyone slapped them? I thought to myself and pulled the comforter over my head.

A few minutes later, I pulled the comforter back down, just enough to reach up and pull the curtain back a little. I peeked out the window and watched the snow falling gently over the landscape. The trees, grass and lawn ornaments were all covered. We had just had a slight ice storm a couple days prior, and this snowfall was covering the ice on the electrical lines and tree limbs making everything look like it was covered in white glitter in the sun shine.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?
Keep reading and letting your imaginations grow! Thank you for your support! And PLEASE don’t forget to leave reviews on Amazon and other platforms! It’s like food to writers! We require them to grow!

For Your Reading Pleasure…Susan Burdorf


Welcome back to For Your Reading Pleasure. Today’s guest is Susan Burdorf. 

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)Hello. My name is Susan Burdorf and I am the author of a YA Contemporary book called, “A Cygnet’s Tale” which is a modern retelling of the story of The Ugly Duckling. I am also a mom, a grandma, and I work full time as well as write. Here are some links to keep in touch with me (I LOVE it when my readers send me messages) Twitter: @susanburdorfauthor Facebook: website:

Buy Link: a Cygnet’s Tale
2. How do you choose names for your characters?

    Character names are not that hard for me. For some reason, maybe because the characters are contemporary, I do not have to work too hard to find names. I am a Girl Scout Leader and work with teens a lot so I draw my names from their names.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

Yes, I do.

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

I do listen to music, but I do not pick songs to match scenes like a lot of authors do. I find that music, or the tv playing, or the grandkids running around in the background is like white noise – I hear it, but I don’t really pay attention to it. It soothes my mind to be around noises that are familiar, but otherwise I ignore them. I really enjoy listening to James Blunt, One Republic, The Calling, or Enya when I write. Sometimes I like instrumental music like 2Cellos or Lindsey Stirling.

5. How long have you been writing? 

Someone else asked me this question the other day and I told him the story of my “What I Did Over the Summer” essay that we all had to write when I was in school. It was third grade and I wrote such a long essay that it was twelve pages (in my defense, it had been a very busy summer) and a teacher told me I should be a writer. I never stopped writing, but the real question here is not how long I have been writing, but how long have I thought of myself as a writer. And that question’s answer is – since I was a teen. I have numerous stories buried in a box that someday will be rediscovered as my “lost manuscripts” ala Harper Lee (no, not really, I am nowhere near her skill level and know it, but it is nice to dream) and then I will know I made it! I love to write, always have. As a young teen I wanted to go to college to be a journalist, but my parents talked me out of it. Every job I have ever had I have had a way of making writing a part of it. I love stories, I love plots, and I love to see my name in print.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

See the answer above.

7. Do you have a muse?

I do not have a muse. Although I believe I have a writing fairy who keeps sending me story ideas…usually when I am in the shower or in the car driving someplace or sleeping. Everywhere you can be where you cannot write down the ideas the ping pong around inside my head and that I wish I could write down! But, I think every writer has that issue!

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading) 

I am lucky to have started getting very serious about writing when UtopYA (now known as Utopia Con) began. I made connections and new friends. I joined groups on Facebook devoted to writing. I attend a monthly call with Heather Hildenbrand (the guru of everything writing) who invites guest speakers and allows fantastic conversations. I joined local writer’s groups to help me get started, and attend several conferences a year at which I am lucky enough to meet with and converse with folks who have made it onto best sellers lists and they let me pick their brains. The Indie writing community is vast and generous. I also attend workshops. At first I went to every workshop on writing I could find – query letters; plotting; character development, etc until I felt that they started repeating the messages. Now I am much more selective. For newbie writers I always recommend knowing what you want out of your writing and direct your outside activities toward achieving those goals. And I also tell them to READ. Read everything, not just how to books, but also books in and out of your genre. Write down phrases that make you think or are interesting to you and analyze them – it will help your writing improve. And make friends. Make friends with your fellow authors and your fans. WE, the writing community, are the best resource to improving writing, both our own and the rest of our community.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions? 

I don’t have any.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

I have a series of YA novellas that will release beginning in January 2016 with each one releasing each month. The series will involve a party where all the female guests come dressed as their favorite Fairy Tale character. Unbeknownst to the lead character who has invited her friends and their boyfriends, a demon has been released into their midst and forces them to act out the fairy tale of their costume with a twist…they must battle the demon and if they lose, he gets their souls. I am having a blast with this one, because it is so different and dark from anything I have ever written before. It is called the “A Little Midnight Madness” series. But before that one comes out I have two stand alone books releasing this year. Both are YA. “Breaking Fences” is the YA Contemporary story of Cutter Boone and his inability to release his guilt over the death of his father until he meets Melodie Graham, a former barrel racer and feisty daughter of a drunk who beats her. Both help each other discover the mystery of some cattle rustlers and face down three rabid coyotes along the way. The next book, due to release in December 2015 is called “Clockwork and Lace” and is a Steampunk novel about a young girl who must find her grandmother utilizing the help of a metal dragon who can talk and time travel.

11. What book are you reading now?

I am a moderator on a panel for Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN in October 2015 so I am reading the books of the panelists I will be introducing. One is “The Same Sky” by Amanda Eyre Ward and the other is “Dear Carolina” by Kristy Woodson Harvey. I just finished reading “The Orphan Queen” by Jodi Lawrence Meadows which I highly recommend.

12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?

I have written so far in YA Contemporary and one book, “A Cygnet’s Tale” is in first person POV. “Breaking Fences” is also YA Contemporary and is in third person. I know most YA books are first person, but I like the freedom of third person.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I do like to do character sketches for my complicated characters. Sometimes I have as much as 7 pages of information listed that show me where the character was born, what they like to eat, if they like designer clothes, what they watch on tv, what their favorite subject at school is, etc. I like to look online for pictures of people I think look like my image of the character. I outline some of the story to keep things on track, but I have found that as I write I tend to go off track anyway, the characters sometimes hijack the story…and at those times I let them take the lead.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

Yes, I do. I know the beginning, the middle, and the end of all my stories. That helps keep me on track. I find that not doing this first sends the story all over the place. That is no fun to read, and definitely no fun to edit.

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

Yes. I like my books to carry one theme since they are YA I want people to know they are okay just the way you are.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?


17. Tell us about your other passions.

My family is very important to me. I also love to hike and photography is something I enjoy. I also like to collect DVD’s. I have a pretty extensive movie collection. I like hockey, and enjoy going to games.
18. What’s something interesting about you?

I am a conservationist. I helped create an Arboretum in a town I lived in. We also created a Nature Trail and a butterfly garden which a local school uses to conduct science experiments like rainfall totals and plant growth.

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

This is the beginning of “A Cygnet’s Tale”:
“Fairy tales don’t always have a beautiful princess…or a happy ending.
Sometimes they have ugly ducklings who never grow into their wings.
And sometimes they have something altogether different, just because they can.
There are no rules in fairy tales, except that they must start with ‘once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a… and then you get to fill in the blank.”

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I want to remind readers to READ. Whether you read my books or not, just read. And after you read, please take the time to leave a review. Your author friends will appreciate it very much. Thank you for taking the time to visit with me and I hope to hear from you soon!

Susan Burdorf, Author

A Cygnet’s Tale (released May 2015)Breaking Fences (releasing soon)

For Your Reading Pleasure…Jamie Sheffield


Today we have Jamie Sheffield, author of the Tyler Cunningham Adirondack Mystery Series, featuring one of the most interesting protagonist I’ve ever read. Let’s hear about Jamie’s writing process.

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)

I live in the Adirondack Park in Northern New York with my wife and son and dogs, in a small house in a big forest. Although I dream of writing full-time, my current “day-job” is as a Special Education teacher in Lake Placid, NY. I love camping and canoeing and reading and cooking and travel.


2. How do you choose names for your characters?

I build my characters based on combinations of people that I know or read about, and generally crunch their names around enough to make them not instantly recognizable, but still close enough that I can hold onto the feeling of the people I used.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

I do, because by the time I get to/through the writing stage, they are real to me, and I know how the will act and react in a given situation.

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

I listen to classical music when I write … generally one of three playlists: The Goldberg Variations, a mellow Mozart mix, or classical guitar with Segovia and King. I like the music to occupy some parts of my brain and drown out distracting ambient noise, but not to grab my full attention (which is why I don’t write to music with lyrics).

5. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been serious about my writing since the summer of 2012; before that, I always did some writing, but could never commit to longer writing projects.


6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

I’ve always felt that I was meant to be a writer, but never felt that I had the time or ability or staying power to start and finish a novel. I remember writing stories when I was in primary school, and loving the narrative process.

7. Do you have a muse?

It will embarrass her to read this, but my wife is my muse. Stories come to me (from wherever they come) and I shape and craft and polish them with her in mind. She’s my target audience, and every story I tell is written for her to read and enjoy; knowing this pushes me to write the best stories I can.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

It sounds boring to type, but I think the two things that I do that most improve my writing are reading and writing. I read for hours every day … books and articles and poetry, fiction and non-fiction and writing instruction. I also try to write a few times every week … stories and poems

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

I don’t know if it’s superstition, but I’m a big believer in NaNoWriMo. The month-long writing sprint helped/allowed me to write my first novel, and I’ve gone back to use it every summer since to write the subsequent novels. I can’t imagine writing my books in any other way now, although I write all sorts of shorter fiction and poetry during the rest of the year.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

I’m working on a number of things right now: a lengthy piece (pieces) of serial fiction, a young adult fantasy story (I don’t know yet if it will be a novella or a novel), and I’m in the early stages of planning my next novel for this summer.


11. What book are you reading now?

I tend to read a bunch of books at once, switching around based on my mood. I’m also an unrepentant re-reader, circling back to books I’ve enjoyed in the past; I’m always pleased to find that I can find new things to love in almost any book.
■ Mira Grant’s “Deadline” trilogy (re-read)
■ A variety of Ernest Hemingway stories (re-read)
■ Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
■ The Brass Cupcake, by John D. MacDonald
■ The Peripheral, by William Gibson
■ The Blessing Way, by Tony Hillerman
■ Any Other Name, by Craig Johnson

12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?

I generally write in the mystery or crime or thriller neighborhoods. To date, just about everything I’ve written is first person; which makes me want to try writing from another point of view.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I write my novels during a summer month of NaNoWriMo, but tend to start getting ready months ahead of time. I like to map/outline the whole story in a general sense, and to get to know the characters pretty well before I get anywhere near the first day of writing. Once I start writing, the work I’ve done ahead of time serves as a “suggested route”, but I often find the characters and story wandering off my projected track to explore something I hadn’t conceived during the pre-planning

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

I tend to know, in broad strokes, how my stories will end, but the specifics and details often end up surprising me as I write them in the first draft … they also sometimes get altered after my beta-reader takes a look at the rough work.

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

Although I write my books for entertainment (both mine and my readers’), when they’re done, I generally find that they reflect/impart some moral (or immoral, or amoral) message/lesson that I have worked through in the process of exploring the landscapes of the book with my protagonist.


16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

I drink lots of coffee (black and sweet and large and strong, like my dogs, Miles and Puck) and Coke while I’m writing; I try to find and maintain a sweet-spot on the caffeination curve, somewhere between wired and vibrating (I find that some of my best writing comes when I’m amped enough to disconnect just slightly and my unconscious takes the reins just a bit).
I like neat and easy snacks while I’m writing … bite-sized and not requiring a napkin or keyboard clean-ups. cut up fruit and cheese and meat is my favorite, and I tend to break to make a plate every couple of hours.

17. Tell us about your other passions.

I love nerdy electronics (GPSrs and ereaders and watches). I enjoy exploring new and interesting places … foreign travel, abandoned buildings/towns, unique modes of travel, etc.. I’m very interested in advances in science and technology and the environment. I have lots of fun trying out new foods and recipes. I care deeply about animals in general, and shelter dogs most particularly, and spend lots of time walking dogs at our local shelter.

18. What’s something interesting about you?

There was a period right around when I turned forty that I went camping every single month for more than three years (I still go camping a number of times every year, in all seasons, in a camping hammock).

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

There was a gentle glow coming on in the sky to my right as I drove north through the cold and empty beauty of the Adirondack Park. I would have pointed the impending dawn out to the girl in the back of my Element if she wasn’t unconscious and bleeding on the easy-to-clean floor. I crossed the northern border of the Park at the same time that the sun crept over the white pines on the side of road. I don’t know if that first ray of morning caught her eye, but my passenger groaned, cleared her throat a bit to try and speak, then clacked her teeth hard together again to hold back whatever she was starting to say. I consulted the map in my head, determined that I wouldn’t make it to the house before she started acting up, thought about Murphy’s Law and the prevalence of state troopers on backcountry roads for only a moment, and then pulled over to deal with Sadie Hostetler.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I’m excited about the recent release of my third, and latest, novel, “Between the Carries”. It dovetails nicely with the previous books, and also with the novellas. I have a great time writing these books, and as much fun talking with people who’ve enjoyed them. I am working on a bunch of other writing projects currently, but am on track to write the next Tyler Cunningham adventure this summer, and can’t wait to share it with everyone early in 2016!

Thanks Jamie!! We enjoyed reading about your approach to writing. Good luck with Between the Carries.

For Your Reading Pleasure…Alana Woods


1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)

I’m a married empty-nester; my three children left home years ago and now all have three children of their own. Two boys and one girl each, how coincidental is that?! My husband’s name is John and we live in Australia’s national capital, Canberra, also referred to as the Bush Capital. It’s a lovely place surrounded by low mountain ranges. Our house backs on to a native reserve and we often have kangaroos outside. Out front we have a view of the Brindabellas, our local mountain range, and sitting on the loungeroom deck with a coffee or wine in hand, depending on the time of day, is a guaranteed soul soother. Our oldest daughter lives in the UK and we spend time there every year. I talk about my professional life in another question so I won’t repeat it here. And I’ve included links at the end of the interview.

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

They tend to just pop into my head. Sometimes I’ll have several jiggling around for top spot but I’m mindful of them fitting the person. There’s a funny story about the main male character in IMBROGLIO. His name is David Cameron. I wrote the first draft before the actual David Cameron became the UK PM but, you know, it never occurred to me that my David had the same name. It was only last year when a UK reviewer pointed it out that I had that forehead slapping moment.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

Not to other people, no. But do I talk to my characters? Yes. We have a very honest and open relationship; we can say anything to each other. Writing their stories wouldn’t be possible otherwise. And after their stories are told they don’t leave; they get on with their lives and let me know what they’re up to.

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

I need total quiet to stay inside my head.

5. How long have you been writing?

My 30+ year career was in publishing in the Australian federal govt public service. I worked across the publications, public relations and media fields. I did a lot of writing but was principally an editor. I’ve been fiction writing for that long as well.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

I don’t know that I’d couch it in quite that way but I’ve always liked telling stories and am happiest when I’ve got one percolating. And as far as being a professional writer and editor is concerned, I always said that if I had to work it was the perfect job.

7. Do you have a muse?

I have a very understanding, tolerant and patient husband. He’s indulged my need for writing time ever since we got together. Does that count as a muse?

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

Years ago when I realised I needed feedback on my fiction I did a university night course which led to a Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional Writing and then a Post Graduate Diploma in Communication. I’ve also been a member of community writing groups and writing organisations and participated in writing master classes. Nowadays it’s having my manuscripts critiqued and beta read.
Another way to improve is through reading. I’m a committed reader and I review most of the books I read. I believe that writing a considered review is a good way to hone your analytical skills.
I’m also a professional editor; that’s another terrific way to hone analytical skills in relation to what makes good writing.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

No superstitions but maybe a quirk. I guess I’m an anomaly as a writer. With digital publishing most authors seem to write very quickly and publish everything they write as soon as they’ve finished it. I don’t. My first three novels went into the fire; I viewed them as practice while I was trying to find my genre. I discovered it with my fourth and fifth novels and those are the two that I’ve published to date.
I’m also very slow to publish; I put what I think is the final draft in a drawer for at least a year and don’t look at it until I’ve forgotten most of the detail. That way when I look at it again I’m reading it afresh. It’s amazing how the deficiencies jump out. Consequently I have only two published novels to date as well as a short story compilation and a writing guide.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

My third novel. The draft has been in a drawer for years. I’ve delayed pulling it out for the last two years while getting set up on Amazon and social media as well as getting my website and blog up and running. Amazing how time consuming all that has been.
But I’m now going to delay it again to write a three-book series based on a jewellery theft. I was in Italy in July/August 2013 for my daughter’s wedding and had all of my jewellery stolen. I was traumatised to say the least. I’ve always known I’d turn it into a story one day and now’s the time.

11. What book are you reading now?

Renaissance 2.0 by Dean C Moore. He’s an indie author and I’ll be reviewing the book when I’ve finished.

12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?

I write contemporary fiction. It’s also been tagged as thriller, mystery, intrigue and literary.
My preferred POV is 3d person omniscient. My third novel is 3rd person single. That needs a bit of vigilance to ensure I stay in it! It’s easy to stray.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

It depends on the story line. With AUTOMATON I had the outline and main characters in my head before I started. When I began to write it the detail and secondary characters just happened. With IMBROGLIO there are two main characters whose stories run concurrently so I mapped out their days on a chart and filled in what they were doing in side-by-side columns. That way I knew what each was up to at any given time.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

When I set out I think I do. But that can change, depending where the characters take the story.

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

All books have a theme, but not necessarily a message. Both of my published novels are themed and there’s a message in each if the reader looks. But over-ridingly they’re for entertainment. One that’s on the drawing board will buck that trend as it will have a message no-one could miss. But that’s a couple of years away from being written.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

No snacks because I put weight on too easily. But continual tea and coffee. Constant sipping seems to fuel the flow.

17. Tell us about your other passions.

Travelling is one. My oldest daughter and her family live in the UK (I’m in Australia), so John and I visit her every year. We combine it with other adventures; in 2013 before going to Italy for her wedding we did the UK Coast-to-Coast walk. It took us 18 days and we loved it. This year we’ve been seeing a bit of Australia. Just after Easter we toured the bottom end of Western Australia, and in October we toured around Tasmania and climbed Cradle Mountain. That was a feat worth mentioning!

18. What’s something interesting about you?

Whatever I say here is going to sound contrived, silly or immodest. I’ll go for immodest. My first published novel AUTOMATON won best Australian self-published fiction in 2003 and was nominated by Sisters In Crime for the Davitt awards in 2004.

19. Share a small sample (limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

Here’s the opening to AUTOMATON.

It wasn’t his appearance that unnerved her, unexpected though it was with its neat new track runnelling the middle of his chin, curving through cheek and across the outer corner of his right eye to disappear into the hairline. It wasn’t even that they were alike in colouring and delicacy of features.

It was his expression. A mixture of hope and no hope.

He was red-haired, fresh smooth skinned, freckled with a faded tan, 19, and not far from the trial of his life.

For murder.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

Don’t leave me in a vacuum! Let me know what you think of my stories. Reviews are treasure, but so too are the personal emails. You can contact me via my website contact page. Receiving them makes my day. Actually, it’s more like my week. And I always have time to write back.

My links:
Amazon Author Page:

Books (the links are global smart links):
Imbroglio —
Automaton —
Tapestries and other short stories —
25 essential writing tips: guide to writing good fiction —

Thanks Alana! We’re glad you shared with us today!

Withering Hope by Layla Hagen

withering hope


Aimee’s wedding is supposed to turn out perfect. Her dress, her fiancé and the location—the idyllic holiday ranch in Brazil—are perfect.

But all Aimee’s plans come crashing down when the private jet that’s taking her from the U.S. to the ranch—where her fiancé awaits her—defects mid-flight and the pilot is forced to perform an emergency landing in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

With no way to reach civilization, being rescued is Aimee and Tristan’s—the pilot—only hope. A slim one that slowly withers away, desperation taking its place. Because death wanders in the jungle under many forms: starvation, diseases. Beasts.

As Aimee and Tristan fight to find ways to survive, they grow closer. Together they discover that facing old, inner agonies carved by painful pasts takes just as much courage, if not even more, than facing the rainforest.

Despite her devotion to her fiancé, Aimee can’t hide her feelings for Tristan—the man for whom she’s slowly becoming everything. You can hide many things in the rainforest. But not lies. Or love.

Withering Hope is the story of a man who desperately needs forgiveness and the woman who brings him hope. It is a story in which hope births wings and blooms into a love that is as beautiful and intense as it is forbidden.

Barnes & Noble:

layla wh2

Bio & Fun Facts
My name is Layla Hagen and I am a Contemporary Romance author.

I fell in love with books when I was nine years old, and my love affair with stories continues even now, many years later. I write romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world. And I drink coffee. Lots of it 😀

 Fun Facts about me and my writing
1. I sometimes name my male characters after actors I am crushing on 
2. I like writing in airports and planes, which has led to a number of embarrassing events (because writing steamy scenes in crowded planes can have only this one outcome).
3. I get ideas for scenes when I travel to work. When that happens, I’ll type them as quickly as I can in my smartphone, grinning, and sometimes chuckling out loud. I get a lot of confused stares 
4. I get ideas when I am stuck in the most boring situations. I think it’s my brain’s way to cope.
5. Movie soundtracks also get my creativity flowing. Funnily enough though, I can’t listen to music when I am writing. I need silence.
6. On that note, I also get ideas after I watch a movie. They are always completely unrelated to the movie I’ve just seen. Weird, huh?
7. Whenever I want to relax I watch “Honest Trailers” ( or “Everything wrong with…” ( They’re hilarious 
8. I love Christmas so much that I will often keep the tree until the end of January. After that, I still keep Christmas lights in my house for about a month.
9. I have probably seen Home Alone 20 times. I will still watch it every year on Christmas 
10. I run on coffee and ice-cream. Ice-cream mostly in the summer, coffee all year round. Several cups a day 

11. Though I have a series titled „Lost“ and „Withering Hope“ is about a plane crashing in a remote location, I have never actually seen the TV series Lost. Seeing it is very high on my to-do list though, especially since I adore Ian Sommerhalder.

12. There is a character called Chris in Withering Hope. Wonder how he got his name? I am a big fan of Chris Hemsworth (have been for a while, apparently still didn’t get over him). While I was looking for a name for that character, I watched a movie starring Chris Hemsworth and I was like YEAAAAAAAAh 😀 So, um, if I name a future character Ian, you’ll know why (see point 1 :-D)



This was my first book to read by Layla Hagen, and I was more than impressed. First off, the overall concept of the book…crashing into the Amazon rainforest – genius. I can only imagine how much research went into her location and learning about survival in a place off the grid. Secondly, the characters…well-developed and fleshed out. Raw, real, and heart-wrenching. The culmination of their feelings was expected, and had the author done it any other way, it wouldn’t have been right. Withering Hope is one of those books that you may have to read twice, because your flipping pages SO fast to find out what happens that you miss important details that make Tristan and Aimee’s story that much more endearing. 5 exciting stars!


Excerpts from Withering Hope
Excerpt 1
(Aimee’s POV)
I wake up covered in cold sweat and something soft that might be a blanket. I can’t tell for sure, because when I open my eyes, it’s dark. When I try to move, a sharp pain in my temple makes me gasp.
“Tristan.” The word comes out almost like a cry. In the faint moonlight coming in through the windows, I see him leaning on the seat in front of me, hovering over me. I imagine his dark brown eyes searching me worriedly.
“Are you hurt?”
“Just my temple, but I’m not bleeding,” I say, running my fingers over the tender spot. I assess him next. It’s difficult given the dim moonlight. His white uniform shirt is smeared with dirt, but he appears unharmed. I turn my head toward the window. I can’t gauge anything outside in the darkness.
“Where are we?” I ask.
“We landed,” Tristan says simply, and when I turn to look at him he adds, “… in the rainforest.”
I nod, trying not to let the tight knot of fear in my chest overtake me. If I let it spiral out, I may not be able to control it.
“Shouldn’t we … like… leave the plane or something? Until they rescue us? Is it safe for us to be inside?”
Tristan runs a hand through his short, black hair. “Trust me, this is the only safe place. I checked outside for any fuel leaks, but we’re good.”
“You got out?” I whisper.
“I want—” I say, opening my seatbelt and trying to stand. But dizziness forces me back into my chair.
“No,” Tristan says, and he slumps in the seat opposite mine on the other side of the slim aisle. “Listen to me. You need to calm down.”
“How deep in the forest are we, Tristan?”
He leans back, answering after a long pause. “Deep enough.”
“How will they find us?” I curl my knees to my chest under the blanket, the dizziness growing. I wonder when Tristan put the blanket over me.
“They will,” Tristan says.
“But there is something we can do to make it easier for them, isn’t there?”
“Right now, there isn’t.”
“Can contact someone at base?” I ask weakly.
“No. We lost all communication a while ago.” His shoulders slump, and even in the moonlight, I notice his features tighten. His high cheekbones, which usually give him a noble appearance, now make him look gaunt. Yet instead of panic, I’m engulfed in weakness. My limbs feel heavy. Fog settles over my mind.
“What happened to the engine?” I whisper.
“Engine failure.”
“Can you repair it?”
“There is really no way to send anyone a message?”
“No.” As if in a dream, I feel Tristan put a pillow under my head and recline my seat.

Excerpt 2
(Tristan’s POV)
No rescue helicopter arrives. Not the following morning, or any morning after it. I expect Aimee to break down, but she doesn’t. It shouldn’t surprise me, though. I’ve suspected she is strong since I first met her.
Chris Moore hired me as his pilot two and a half years ago, giving me the chance for a
fresh start I so desperately needed. I was grateful to him, and even liked him. Despite his wealth and success, he was grounded and unpretentious. When I first met Aimee, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she was just as unassuming.
And so much more.
She went out of her way to be friendly, making it easy to adjust to my side job as her driver when Chris didn’t need me as a pilot. I suppose I came off as cold to her, because I only acknowledged her effort with a curt thank you. But I wasn’t used to anyone being friendly to me. Over the past years people had either shown me pity or feared me. Not Aimee. Of course, she didn’t know anything about my past—Chris kept his word and never told her.
When first I drove Aimee to Chris’s parents’ mansion, I realized Aimee hadn’t given me any special treatment. She was genuinely friendly to everyone on the staff. They all liked to be around her.
So did I.
I liked it a little too much.
She had a way of growing on people without even trying. She was warm and eager to get to really know people. A bit too eager… and the secrets I carried were best left buried. So I was content with being around her, or observing her from a distance.
From where it was safe.
Here, where our lifeline depends on working and sticking together, where I’m prepared to do just about anything to keep her safe, it will be hard to keep that distance, but I will do my best.

Excerpt 3
(Aimee’s POV)
“Just stay with for a little while, please. I need you so much, Aimee.” The sound of my name from his mouth awakens something in me that has me writhing in a blazing torture. It’s doing things to me it shouldn’t do.
“Shh, okay. I’ll stay. I know it helps having someone.”
“Not someone. You. You make the memories bearable, the present better. You have an unbelievably strong will to keep going, even if you don’t know where you’re heading, hoping you’ll find something worthy at the end of the road. You have an inherent ability to pick up the good on the way—those that give you strength, the happy things, like your poems—and you go on. You pass that strength onto others, even if it costs you sleep and peace.
“I used to hate waking up every morning. Now I look forward to every day, even though we’re stuck in this place. Because it means one more day with you.” He caresses my lips with his thumb. I open my mouth, but he shakes his head. “Don’t say anything, please.”
For a long moment, we are silent, our gazes locked. I breathe in his hot breaths, tension crackling in the short distance between our lips. Then he pulls me into a kiss. The touch of his lips on mine electrifies me, shimmer after shimmer coursing through my nerve endings. His tongue takes mine in a primal claim. Icy shivers splinter my skin, and at the same time, fire awakens deep within me. I’ve never been kissed like this. Ferociously, with absolute, desperate need. I try to temper the heated emotions building inside me. I try to remember it’s wrong. But that fleeting thought is drowned by the heat igniting his lips and hands, and I surrender. Tristan deepens the kiss until I’m out of breath. I become aware of his hard chest muscles, of every line and every ridge, as my hands roam wildly with a greed I don’t recognize. His hands graze my body, traveling from my back to my thighs, spreading the fire in my center; I’m convinced it will consume me. With a jolt, he pulls me even closer to him, so I’m all but straddling him. His fingers fumble with my hair, as his blessed mouth cradles mine, coaxing a whimper from me.

layla withering hope 1