writing

Author Interview with Jeremy Simons

I met Jeremy a few weeks ago on a North Louisiana book group. It’s always nice to find people who write in my neck of the woods. As Jeremy references below, there’s not too many opportunities in this area to connect with other authors. I haven’t read any of his books yet, but they sound like the perfect addition to my  October TBR list. Thanks, Jeremy, for telling us about your process and best of luck to you. 

 

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

 My name is Jeremy Simons. I’m from Grayson, Louisiana, and am married with three daughters. I’m a horror/suspense author with Twilight Terror Press, a subdivision of Celestial Waters Publishing. Aside from my two published works with Celestial Waters, I’ve had numerous stories appear across the web and in zines and anthologies.

Buried Alive can be found here:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/595771

Amazon: http://amzn.to/239h8nt

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27968917

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/1123043067

Books-A-Million: https://m.booksamillion.com/p/9781519524751

Check out the official trailer here: https://youtu.be/a6ZlEmGXppo

 

My debut novel Untold Tale can be found here:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/606590

Amazon: http://amzn.to/23a5xof

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28506118

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/1123248192

Books-A-Million: https://m.booksamillion.com/p/9781523338481

Check out the official trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FV17n_m1O4

 

Stories:

A Dead Man Tells No Tales-Carnage Conservatory: http://carnageconservatory.com/2013/10/11/a-dead-man-tells-no-tales/

 

Beware of Hitchhikers-Aphelion: http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/shorts/2014/04/BewareHitchhikers.html

 

Beware of Hitchhikers II-Aphelion: http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/shorts/2014/08/BewareHitchhikers2.html

 

The Man In The Hills-Voices From A Coma: https://imaginalisdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/voices-from-a-coma-issue-1.pdf

 

Lifeless Lane-The Horror Zine: http://www.thehorrorzine.com/Fiction/Sept2014/JeremySimons/JeremySimons.html

In Print: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/069225255X/ref=mp_s_a_1_14?qid=1436242838&sr=8-14&pi=AC_SX110_SY165_QL70&keywords=the+horror+zine

 

White Christmas-Hellfire Crossroads Volume 4: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00PH62FMS/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1436242904&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SY200_QL40&keywords=hellfire+crossroads&dpPl=1&dpID=613oRarJsTL&ref=plSrch

 

White Christmas-Deathlehem Revisited: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0996223274/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1451537939&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX118_SY170_QL70&keywords=deathlehem+revisited

 

Trick or Treat-October’s End: http://www.lulu.com/shop/horrified-press/octobers-end/paperback/product-22361596.html

 

The Woman in Red-X3 Anthology: http://www.lulu.com/shop/thirteen-oclock-press/x3/paperback/product-22347417.html

 

Closing Time: http://www.short-stories.me/index.php/horror-stories/826-jeremy-simons

 

Five Days-Massacre Magazine: http://viewbook.at/massacre8

 

Beware of Hitchhikers 1 & 2-Midnight Ghosts: http://www.lulu.com/shop/thirteen-oclock-press/midnight-ghosts/paperback/product-22625899.html

 

You can find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeremysimonsauthor.

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeremi1986

My website: https://www.Jsimonsauthor.webnode.com

On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15044092.Jeremy_Simons

And on my Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/jeremysimons

 


2. How do you choose names for your characters?


I choose them in several different ways. Sometimes, they’re coincidental. Some, I base off of people in my life. There was even one occasion when I combined the names of three of my favorite horror actors to form the name of a serial killer. But usually, I just sift through random names until I find one that clicks.

 

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


 I think I have to say yes here. I definitely imagine them in real life situations and occasionally I will refer to them as if they are real.

 

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

Yes, although not traditional music. I usually listen to comedy tracks or parody songs while writing. Or I run on the Lex & Terry and listen to replays of their shows.


5. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing on and off since I was a kid. My mom still has a story I wrote for school when I was in third grade (I believe) about a ghostly next door neighbor. But I’ve only just recently had an interest in getting published. 

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


 Just a few years ago. I kept all of my stories in a small filing box at my mom’s, and I was moving some stuff out of her house and came across it. By then, it had been so long since I’d written anything or even looked at them that when I read back through them it was like reading a new author. And not to toot my own horn, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. I knew then that I had to try. And when my first story, A Dead Man Tells No Tales, was published on Carnage Conservatory’s website (even though it was a small venue with no monetary pay), I knew it was meant to be.

 

7. Do you have a muse?

 My muse would have to be my wife. She was definitely the inspiration behind Buried Alive. She inspires me to be better and do better.
 

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


I improve by simply reading and writing. Any critiques I receive through rejections, reviews, or editors…I incorporate those into all of my writing and not just that particular work. I do wish there were workshops and conferences in my area…I’d definitely attend.
 

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?


I don’t believe I have any quirks or superstitions. I just write.


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

 My current work-in-progress is about an alligator. I’ve always had a fascination with alligators, and in Louisiana, although they are commonplace, I don’t recall any attacks in my area. My job as a horror/suspense writer is to bring forth the terrifying, bring to light what you never think possible, and what better way to do that than dropping a monstrous man-eater into a river where there has never been an attack (at least not in my thirty years of existence).


 11. What book are you reading now?


 I’m currently reading Miss Crabtree’s School for Unnaturals (The Unnaturals Book 1) by Hargrove Perth. 

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


I write mostly horror and supernatural, with some suspense thrown in; I’d like to believe I could write in any genre, but for the time being, it always seems to go dark. As far as POV, it’s whatever strikes me at that time. Most of my works are third-person POV, but love first-person because of the correlation between myself and the narrator; first-person (at least to me) seems more intimate; it’s more like I’m writing about myself than a fictitious character, and I think the emotion becomes deeper…realer.

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

Preparation for me is simple and minimal. I prefer to steer away from chapter outlines and just let the writing flow; you can always edit later if the chapters run on too long. I start with a few main characters (usually two or three), give them a basic profile (looks, profession if they have one, point to the plot, etc.), and just cut loose. The plot is the most important to me: beginning, conflict in the middle, end. For me, too much characterization or these meticulous outlines that you can easily get hung up on sticking to can bog down a good story before it even gets started if you’re not careful. Let the plot be the strength. Build the characters off of the plot…not the other way around. And just let the story flow.

 
14. Do you know how your stories will end?


 Yes and no. I always start out with an ending in mind, but it seldom plays out that way. It goes back to minimal preparation I guess. The less you know about the story and characters, the more freedom you’re giving them to take the story in whatever direction it needs to go. It’s more of a surprise that way, and if the writer isn’t surprised and blown away by the story, the reader will not be either.
 

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


I think if you look hard enough in any book, you’ll find a message, and it always be interpreted differently depending on the reader. My novella, Buried Alive, that message is clear and easy: revenge, justice, standing up for yourself, not depending on anyone but yourself. But my novel, Untold Tale, not so much; never trust the government could be an angle I guess, or maybe, taking responsibility for your actions (but it ends horribly for most involved). You be the judge. But entertainment is equally important. If I’m not entertained by the story and enjoying myself, the writing will be stale.

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


I guess I’d say sunflower seeds, ranch or pickle flavored.

17. Tell us about your other passions.


Reading, of course. Spending time with my wife and kids. Playing video games. Cooking. Playing basketball.

 18. What’s something interesting about you?


My intelligence. Most people look at me and think that I’m not that smart based on my appearance or accent. But I love proving them wrong.
 

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

Simon inched backwards, afraid to remove his view from the wreckage, oblivious to what lurked behind him. He stopped cold when his back bumped into something solid. His heart leapt in his throat as that precarious snarling started up once more. He turned, unsure if he wanted to see it coming or not, not really wanting to see it, but unable to maintain a blind eye against it.

This is a paragraph from my current work-in-progress about an alligator. It’s untitled at this point.
 


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

 Thank you and keep reading. That’s the truth, but also to please post reviews. Don’t be shy about it. Reviews are critical to an indie author. If you follow me on social media, like and share when you see a post. Promotions are hard work and their success lies heavily on the fans. Exposure is an indie author’s best friend.

Housekeeping, Happy Birthday, and a Bloody Caduceus  

If that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will. 

Happy two-year-old book birthday to my very first book formerly known as The Waiting. When I began publishing two years ago, I was young and naive regarding the ways of the book world and honestly believed within 6 months, I’d have made my editing investment back and readers would be clamoring for the second installment. Neither of those things happened.  It. Was. Depressing.

I wanted to quit. 

Like seriously, wanted to throw in the towel and walk away from writing forever because in my mind, not only had I wasted money, I’d wasted my time and my editor’s time. But thanks to encouraging friends and family, I didn’t give up, because there’s nothing in this world that brings me as much joy as creating stories. Over the next year, my family went through our lowest time ever. We struggled personally, financially, emotionally. Through it all, I kept writing… pulling the hurt and frustration from my own life and pouring it into the pages of these books. 

Bet you think this story ends with some motivational spiel about how I made it to a bestsellers list or sold thousands of copies of my books. It doesn’t. Not yet, at least. But give me time. Age brings wisdom for sure and experience puts you in touch with those wiser than you. I’ve been blessed with both of those things recently.

My first series (The Waiting Series) is undergoing a complete makeover. In an effort to match the outward packaging to the inward machinations, backstabbing, and revenge we all know these books to be, I’ve changed the name of the series to COUNTERPLAY. For those of you who don’t know much about chess, Counterplay is  is defined as defined as active maneuvering by the player in an inferior or defensive position.

Could that be any more perfect for this tumultuous cast of characters? 

In addition to the series name change, the titles and covers will be different as well. Kathy, my beloved editor, will be making a pass over each book again, and Sarah M. Cradit (who did Witch Dance’s cover) has created compelling and poignant cover art, that nearly took my breath away. The above Cadduses is for the prequel and this is the art for the first cover. 


In addition to allllll these awesome things, I finally have a newsletter. Promise to keep it relevant and spam free. Sign up HERE and receive a COUNTERPLAY short story. 

What I’m working on: 

  • I’ve had the privilege of alpha reading Sarah M. Cradit‘s latest novel, Secrets Amongst the Cypress, and while Sarah is away on business, I’m making a run through. If you like paranormal and New Orleans, you’ll love her. Seriously. 
  • Revising ALL six of the available COUNTERPLAY books, plus editing next one to be published. Not much will be different, but for creative reasons, a few names have been tweaked and situations changed within the series. 
  • Writing COUNTERPLAY’s seventh installment. 

So…two years later, I’m not quitting. I’m not giving up. I’ll keep writing my stories and do whatever it takes to get them seen. But I can’t do it alone, so thank you to all the people who constantly encourage me or listen when I complain. This isn’t an easy profession, but there’s nothing else in the world I’d rather do. ❤️

Things You Don’t Know When You Decide to Self-publish Your Book

Hey y’all… I’m starting a new 5 part series about things I didn’t know when I set out on this writing journey three years ago. I’m making the assumption that unless you already know someone in the business or were born into a literary family – you don’t either. For my author friends, feel free to add in your experiences or elaborate in the comments. 

A bit about my experience: I.Had.None. Aside from being gifted with words and arranging them (i.e. a good writer) I knew NOTHING about writing a book. 


I seriously took three novels (I’ll elaborate more in future weeks) and highlighted dialogue tags and studied structure. It was totally uncharted territory, and I was more than scared about my ability to tell a tale. I’d tried before (not in earnest) and failed but this time, it was different. I was different. The day I wrote the opening lines for my first book The Waiting, I knew I had something special and worth fighting for. 

There’s no way to prepare yourself for all that comes along with self-publishing, but hopefully this will show you rookie mistakes to avoid and ways to get a step ahead. So without further adieu, here’s the first thing you don’t know when you decide to self-publish. 

1) You will step out of your comfort zone. 

I’m an introvert. Like, bad. Plus, most of the time, I’m socially awkward as hell. I feel things, express things that most normal people walking around don’t, and this can lead to them getting very overwhelmed by me and my personality. For the most part, becoming a nurse (and the natural extrovert qualities you MUST possess to do that job) helped me overcome this or rather, tone myself down, because let’s just be honest, no one wants a teary nurse who may or may not be crying because she’s 1) angry 2) sad or 3) happy. 

Kristen Bell (of Frozen fame for those of you who’ve lived in a box for the past three years) said if she’s not within a 3-7 on the emotional scale, she’s crying. Seriously, this is me. If I am even a half step past those numbers, I’m weeping – or trying not to. Btw, if you’ve never seen her sloth video, it’s a must watch! (Kristen Bell on Ellen)

All this to say, it’s not easy for me to step out of my cocoon and put myself and my books (essentially my children) out for the world to see and scrutinize. I’ll admit, I’ve received more praise and acceptance than critical comments, but even positive accolades take me to an uncomfortable place where I have to talk about myself and what I do. But I believe in order to grow as a person and as a writer, we have to be willing to put ourselves in situations where we are totally and completely uncomfortable. I liken it to fight or flight. Sinking or swimming. How do we hold up under pressure? Do we shy away? Or do we meet the challenge head on?


Yesterday, I took part in my very first video interview. I was asked the evening before by J.A. Allen of Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins as a prize for winning her weekly challenge (check them out on her blog under #SSC) and though I was hesitant, I said yes. Now that I think about it, having to decide in less than five minutes was probably for the best. I’m a planner with extremely sudden burst of impulsiveness and I’m glad (for once) my spontaneous side took over. 

J.A. is a co-host on a weekly show on YouTube (Writers off Task with Friends) along with Dan Alatorre and Allison Maruska. And even though, I was nervous, those three were a blast and made me feel comfortable from the start. That’s not to say I didn’t have my moments of super weird wandering eyes, over-exaggerated Southern accent, and general overall awkwardness, but that’s okay. Vulnerable is beautiful. It’s authentic and it stretches you to become a better version of yourself. So take the chance and get out of the comfort zone! You never know what’s on the other side.

Vulnerable is Beautiful artwork by my supremely talented Sister of the Moon, Sierrah. She is also Starling Hopewell. 

New release from Clara Stone

  
 

Fearless For Love by Clara Stone

a Lovelly Series (Book 3)

Genre: Romantic Suspense and New Adult

 

BUY THE BOOK

 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1YvVN3q

iBooks: http://apple.co/1MdZ0E2

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1RXSKPI

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

 

Harrington Lovelly has always been the black sheep of his family. A spontaneous troublemaker with sarcastic charm and good looks to spare, he’s the wild card, the brother no one knew how to control. And he likes it that way. Now, on the cusp of turning twenty-five, he’s fighting for what he believes is right, fighting to save his best friend Fisher from the most notorious underground fight club in Florida. He’s fearless . . . in everything but love.

Twenty-three-year-old Jessica Owens is done throwing her life away for a promise she made to her deceased father. Leaving behind everything she’s ever known in the hopes of starting a new life is the single most daring act of rebellion she’s ever done, but she’s determined. This time, her past won’t haunt her. This time, she’ll get it right. This time, she might even fall in love. 

Neither Jessica nor Harrington know what fate has in store for them, but when Harrington’s efforts to save his friend bring him to the very town Jessica escaped to, they’ll find their paths crossing in a classic case of being in the right place at the right time. And this time, they’ll have to fight hard to rise above everything standing in their way. Together. 

Gritty, action-packed, and breathtaking, Fearless For Love brings a darker edge to the series, while still keeping the signature, heart-wrenching emotion of its predecessors. A story at once akin and completely unlike that of the first two installments, it asks the question: how do you love, when love is what you fear most? 

*This book is a standalone within the Lovelly series and is not intended for readers under 18, due to language, violence, and subject matter. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  
 
FACEBOOK ~ WEBSITE ~ TWITTER 

PINTEREST ~ INSTAGRAM

 

Clara Stone lives in the beautiful city of Boise, ID. Unlike what most believe about Idaho, it’s more than a sack full of potatoes. When she’s not writing, you’ll catch Clara reading mostly YA books and enjoying time with her family. She is a proud CW TV addict.

The Dracian Legacy is her first YA paranormal romance series. She strongly believes that true love conquers all and that’s a common theme you’ll find within her novels.

She is published through Reuts Publications.

 
 
 

Congratulations! You’ve received a bad review🎉

  
Bad reviews… every single writer in the world has them. 

Except me. 

Let me preface this by saying I don’t have a ton of reviews for my first series–a very modest amount in fact–but what I do have are positive, uplifting, and everything you want to hear about when you read that someone enjoyed your book. However, because my genre isn’t the hot market right now, I thought…why not see if I can figure out a paranormal series? I’d had an idea brewing for a while and my desire to get ‘in the game’ spurred it on. Pretty soon, I was loving my characters and my story. I knew I had a winner. My editor gets it, loves it. Same with my beta readers. I am on Cloud Nine sending to reviewers believing we are going straight to #1. 

Until yesterday. 

I received not one, but TWO two star reviews, and for a good twenty-four hour timeframe all my literary dreams came crashing around me. 

Questioning my ability as a writer is nothing new. Every writer I know has been talked down from the ledge of tossing their computer to its death more than once, but yesterday it felt different. It was different. Because up until now, everybody has liked my stories. 

And now someone doesn’t. Two someone’s actually. 

After much crying to my very supportive friends and family, I’ve come to the conclusion that bad reviews are impossible to avoid. They are a rite of passage for all authors. They shouldn’t be feared, but embraced as a part of living out our dreams because to truly live, you have to take the good with the bad. To avoid less than three star reviews, I would have to give up the only thing that’s ever meant anything to me, and that’s just not a life I’m willing to live. 

So what am I going to do?
 Take a deep breath. Maybe eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. Possibly read a few of J.K. Rowling’s rejection letters, or Charles Dickens’ one star reviews… and… keep writing.

Always keep writing. 

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. 

http://www.facebook.com/TaraBenhamAuthor
Link for my book 
http://www.amazon.com/At-Nights-End-Tara-Benham-ebook/dp/B015HXP5WM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442580645&sr=8-1&keywords=tara+benham

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…Shantella Benson

  
Today’s feature is Shantella Benson. We’re glad to have her today! 

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page) I’m a debut author. The first book in my Dystopian trilogy releases March 2016. After that, I will be published in the DC Anthologies, a five book anthology by group of eager and inspired authors who met at UtopYA 2015 (now called Utopia). I have two paranormal short stories in two different books. 

I also have a book blog called The WordSmithe at thewordsmithe.wordpress.com. I review books that inspire my writing—mostly YA and NA Dystopian/scifi, paranormal, and urban fantasy. I even will review Contemporary Romance. The only genre I won’t review on my blog is erotica. I’m not opposed to reading it. I’m just thinking of my audience which does include teens.

2. How do you choose names for your characters? I have a few websites I frequent for names. In my trilogy, The Alliance Chronicles, the main characters are ethnically diverse. In their society, multicultural people are known as Hybrids and their names usually reflect their ethnicities. The male main character is Zared Aoki, a Hybrid of Indian and Korean heritage. The female main character’s parents wanted to hide her Hybrid status, but her name (Truly Shara Shepard) has a special meaning in the story.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real? Of course, doesn’t all writers?

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind? Yes! I actually create playlists on Spotify. Each book in the trilogy has its own list (Regress, Rescue and Restore). I also have a playlist for paranormal writing and one for my urban fantasy. 

I like to choose music with lyrics that mean something to the story. They may set a scene (intimacy, loss, challenge) or simply put me in the mood for writing a certain character (Eminem when I’m writing about Zared, for instance).

5. How long have you been writing? I have been writing on and off for years. A year ago, however, I got serious and decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. I wrote the rough draft for Regress: The Alliance Chronicles Book One.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer. This happened recently when I started world building for my urban fantasy. I enjoyed creating maps, doing research, and creating a Pinterest board for the project. I realized this was something I used to do as a kid writing stories. Back then, I clipped pictures of possible characters from magazines and catalogs. I took cardboard and created maps. I even took pictures from decorating magazines to create scenes.

7. Do you have a muse? Yes, and she can be quite temperamental. I tried to plot the second book in the trilogy. She let me write about 6,000 words and then shut up. When I put the carefully crafted plot to the side and returned to my pantser ways, she spoke again. Lesson learned.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading) All of the above. I attended my very first conference, UtopYA Con, back in June. It was phenomenal. I participated in workshops/panels and learned a lot. I also picked up a critique partner from that convention. She has helped me immensely. I learned what my writing was lacking, and it has been a delightful journey with her.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions? Not yet. My husband may beg to differ, though.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress. I actually have a few things I’m working on. It’s the great thing about writing. It feeds my need to stay busy. I just finished the rough draft for book two in the trilogy, Rescue: The Alliance Chronicles Book Two. I’ll be writing the rough draft for my urban fantasy during NaNoWriMo. It’s based off the folk tale called The Raven by the Brothers Grimm. In their tale, there’s a young child who is turned into a raven because she was bothering her mother. In my story, the girl was transformed into a raven to protect her identity from a demon uncle who wanted her dead. There are shapeshifters and portals into another world.

 
11. What book are you reading now? I’m reading a few at the moment: Forsaken by J.D. Barker, Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray and Secrets by Christina Benjamin.

12. What genre do you write in? What about POV? Dystopian and Paranormal/Urban Fantasy. I love first person POV.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines? Believe it not, the sparks to my writing prep usually start in the shower. I get an idea in my head and I kind of flesh it out in the shower. Once I get an idea, I start imagining characters. I like to do the secret boards on Pinterest. I’ll pin images of the characters and scene ideas. 

I don’t really outline. I write out a story premise. For the trilogy, I created propaganda quotes to begin each chapter. So, I decided how many quotes I wanted and that determined, roughly, how many chapters were in the book. For the Urban Fantasy, I just started writing scenes as they came to me.

For the short stories, I used the same process, but I had to determine Beginning, Middle and End. I had to adhere to that structure more closely to stay within the word count required.

14. Do you know how your stories will end? With the short stories most definitely. With the trilogy and even the Urban Fantasy, I listen to my characters. With the rough draft I just completed, I didn’t know how to end it until a few days ago.

15. Do your books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment? There’s a message in the trilogy. Right now, the Urban Fantasy is just entertainment. Oh, and there’s a theme for the short stories.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing? I love Welch’s Fruit Snacks, but I need to eat healthier. So, I gave them up. It’s hard. Now, I’ll reach for some microwave popcorn (not the same pleasure). If I’m not guzzling water, I have a glass of wine for the evening writing session.

17. Tell us about your other passions. I love tv marathon sessions! I also enjoy acrylic painting, sewing and discovering new crafts.

18. What’s something interesting about you? I’ve worked in a variety of industries—tv news, community newspaper, veterinary medicine, video duplication, computer software development—just to name a few. I also use to groom Samoyeds for dog shows. We owned three Samoyeds, one was a show dog.

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

This is the opening paragraph from Regress: The Alliance Chronicles Book One.

Someone once compared living in New Detroit to having a religion. It was a fanciful idea about living a life full of hope despite the presence of tragedy. Illogical. Irrational. Life in my town required a lot more than hope. It required a blind eye shutting out the ever-present insanity on our streets. It helped if you could block out the scars from our wars. Fortitude was a better word.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers? Check out my blog. I post updates on my writing each week. I’ll be posting more about my upcoming releases too.