Author Interview: Devorah Fox

Imagine waking up one morning to find that you’ve been mysteriously transformed into a homeless vagabond. It’s hard to argue against the notion that such a predicament would be less than ideal, not to mention wholly undesirable! Now, consider this: though you are presently inexplicably dispossessed, you were a respected king less than twenty-four hours ago. So is Robin Bewilliam’s plight in The Lost King — book one in the aptly-titled The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam series. 

Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar is pleased to introduce the author of The Lost King, Devorah Fox. Before we sit down with her, let’s take a look at some of her books’ covers.

The Lost King (The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam, #1)The King's Ransom (The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam Book 2)22615870
The Redoubt (The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam, #4)Naked Came the SharksDetour

author2.jpg1. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your series? On a related note, how different is the final product (the books) from your original vision?
I began The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam epic fantasy series by writing The Lost King. A friend had encountered several serious misfortunes in life. I wanted to see if I could make such a terrible fate end “happily ever after.” It ended up taking four books to get such a beleaguered life back on track.

I didn’t start with the intention of writing a series. But after The Lost King came out, readers asked when would the next book be released? The next book? As it turned out, King Bewilliam did have more to experience and I had more to write, thus came The King’s Ransom, The King’s Redress and The Redoubt.

I got the idea for my latest novel, a historical thriller entitled Detour, in 1993, and wrote the first chapter then. The story never quite left my consciousness. In 2014 I decided to get serious about finishing it. It launches in November, 2016.

2. Tell us a little bit about your books’ titles.
I find titles hard to come up with, although The Lost King story came to me title and all. I had the title for Book Four, The Redoubt, before I had the story itself. I liked the word and wanted an excuse to use it. The title for Naked Came the Sharks, a thriller which I wrote with three other people, is a nod to another collaborative work that was published in 1969. I went through about four other titles before I settled on the one for my latest release, another thriller: Detour.

3. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I have two typical writing sessions. I do some work during the day at my home office, writing straight onto the computer, listening to a Pandora station. Increasingly, though, I write in longhand on a lined yellow pad, crunched up on an old armchair in my living room, in the predawn hours and sometimes in the evening with the TV on for white noise.

4. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I’m more of a plotter than a panster. You might say I’m a “planster.” I like to start with something of a road map, a general outline of where I think the story should go and what characters should be in it. However I don’t make detailed chapter-by-chapter outlines. Once I’ve got the story rolling and some characters in place, I give the story its head. I do reach a point where I feel as though I’m not writing the story so much as I’m channeling it from some outside source.

I did try winging an entire novel during one National Novel Writing Month marathon, but found it too stressful to have a daily word count hanging over my head and no idea whatsoever about what to write. I’d rather give myself a little direction.

5. Any project in the works?
I plan to launch a detective story, The Zen Detective, in 2017. That was my National Novel Writing Month project for 2015. I’ll be starting a new novel, another detective story, for National Novel Writing Month 2016 and hope to have it finished by the end of 2017. Working title: The Blood Avenger.

6. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Since 2010, I have participated in National Novel Writing Month every year with only one exception. The goal of the marathon is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Thus I get a good start on a rough draft of about sixty to seventy percent of a book in a month’s time. I spend months finishing and revising it, though.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Dogs or cats?
Cats. I have two.

2. Summer or winter?
Winter. It’s great writing (and reading) weather.

3. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book, although my books are in both formats.

4. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in. I’m a morning lark, not a night owl.

5. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telepathy. Think how helpful that would be during Internet outages.

6. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Travel to the future. With all the time that I spend researching history for my novels, I might as well travel to the past, but I’m very much a modern gal.

7. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Sending a text. I hate using the phone.

8. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Car.

9. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Hotel. A room without room service is my idea of camping.

10. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Ooo, animal language. I already know quite a few languages spoken by humans.

11. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
I’ll give up movies and TV. I can’t go five minutes without the Internet.

12. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
I’ll take the expressway.

13. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
I’ll give up speaking. ‘Cause I can still write, right?

14. Spending half a day locked in a coffin (there would be a hole for air, of course) or spending two days trapped at the bottom of a well?
I’ll take the coffin. Maybe I could catch a nap!

15. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Waaaahh!

Thank you for joining us, Devorah!
Readers: want to connect with Devorah? You can find her on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and YouTube. Also, be sure to check out her blog.

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Author Interview: Ben Jackson

Some authors choose to write solely within the confines of a single genre; every book that they release belongs to the same class. Ben Jackson is not one such author. Throughout his writing career, he has composed children’s books, dystopian fiction novels, and works of non-fiction. Take a gander at some of his titles’ covers down below.

How To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse: The Complete Guide To Urban Survival, Prepping and Zombie Defense.The BeforeLong Distance Relationships: Online Relationships to Military Relationships, surviving love from afar
The Day My Fart Followed Me HomeThe Day My Fart Followed Me To HockeyDivorce Recovery: Advice for women, men and parents, complete guide on custody, assets, separation and more.

Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Ben Jackson! He’s come to discuss his children’s books with us.

IMG_4672.JPG1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Australia, and have spent most my life living in Tasmania and Queensland. I’m a boilermaker welder by trade, specializing in aluminum boats, large passenger ferries for the most part. I met my current wife almost four years ago, and we live in a long-distance relationship, very long distance! She lives in London, ON Canada, and I live in Australia. Recently I became a Canadian permanent resident, so now I travel between Australia and Canada frequently. I’m not coming from any sort of formal writing education, just a reader from way back, that loves to read.

2. When did you start writing?
I have been writing for about three years now (paid). I work as a professional freelance writer, while I build up my author collection. I have several non-fiction books, as well as a new fiction book, The Before. My most popular books are my children’s books I write with my wife, Sam Lawrence, The Day My Fart Followed Me Home, and The Day My Fart Followed Me To Hockey.

3. Why did you start writing?
I started writing to prove a point. I work a paid freelance business copywriter and it all just sort of spread from there. One day I would love to stop working as a tradesman and just focus on writing full-time.

4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your debut children’s novel, The Day My Fart Followed Me Home?
My children’s book started very late in the evening, just sitting around with my wife. We just started writing the characters, and it all spread from there. The biggest problem is we would love to have hundreds, but need to focus on illustration budgets and timelines. We are trying as hard as we can to complete a Christmas edition.

5. Tell us a little bit about your children’s books’ titles.
The Day My Fart Followed Me Home and The Day My Fart Followed Me To Hockey were from memory almost the exact titles we came up with. We decided on these titles so that we could make it an ongoing series.

6. Do your children’s stories have a moral?
Our books are about some of the things kids are going through as they grow up. Dealing with body issues and pressure. Timmy is the little boy; his ‘friend’ is the Little Fart. The Little Fart is Timmy’s imaginary friends, his support. Just a fun way for kids to see that they can do whatever they want. We are writing another one about new babies next, and the challenges of siblings.

7. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
Of all the books, which I have written, across the different genres, Timmy and the Little Fart are my favorite! Soon, both Timmy and the Little Fart may have little sisters!

8. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I love watching TV and movies while I work. I always watch Netflix while I write. It probably distracts me, but I enjoy it, and if I didn’t enjoy writing, then I would quit! I’m a very casual writer, if I don’t feel like writing, I can’t force myself. I don’t write a lot while I’m out and about, but I do make notes on my phone about ideas.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
OMG, I couldn’t choose between the two, I read and watch movies! I also go to the cinema at least once a fortnight!

2. Dogs or cats?
Hmm. I love dogs. I also love cats. These questions are killing me, or highlighting the fact that I’m indecisive. Don’t leave me in charge, ever!

3. Summer or winter?
Summer all the way! Beaches, boats, and fishing.

4. Cake or ice-cream?
Ice-cream, soft serves are my favorite.

5. Car or motorcycle?
Cars, trucks especially and old muscle cars.

6. Ebook or physical book?
Physical books, I think it’s the smell.

7. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in, I’m a couch lover.

8. Living in the city or living in the country?
Love the country.

9. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telepathy.

10. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
The future, purely for financial reasons. We all want to be rich!

11. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Sending a text, I’m a writer!

12. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
I love road trips and fly all the time. Driving for me if I can choose.

13. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Hotel, I hate camping!

14. Working in a group or working alone?
Working alone, I’m Han Solo.

15. Losing all of your money or losing every picture you’ve ever taken and every picture that has ever been taken of you?
I’d hate to lose all my money, oh yeah, I don’t have any. Photos.

Thank you for joining us, Ben!
Readers: want to connect with Ben? You can find him on Facebook (author profile and book page) and Goodreads. Also, be sure to check out his page on Amazon.

Author Interview: Rohvannyn Shaw

I am thrilled to announce that the author of The Dice of Fate, Rohvannyn Shaw, joins us today to talk about her novel. Before we meet her, let’s take a quick look at her book’s blurb:

The Dice of Fate

It is another average day working the phones in the call center, and Sanae is prepared for another long day of nothing interesting happening. When she suddenly finds herself stranded in the middle of a mysterious forest, far away from everything and everyone she knows, she has no choice but to explore the new land and meet whatever strange creatures might dwell there. Luckily, she hasn’t forgotten her sense of adventure, and she tackles the new challenges with vigor. But for each answer she finds, there are new questions. What brought her here? Will she ever return? And if she could, would she want to go? One thing is certain, Sanae will never be the same.

(Note: The Dice of Fate is suitable for all ages. It is the first installment in a trilogy.) 

Now, let’s meet Rohvannyn Shaw — today’s visiting architect!

author photo with acacia 1200.JPG1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in Tucson, Arizona. I lived in the Pacific NorthWet for around 30 years before deciding that the webbing between my toes needed to dry out. I like to draw and paint, make greeting cards, write of course, both short stories and novels. I also blog and I write real letters with my fountain pen. I work in customer service because it pays the bills and also inspires my humor writing. I enjoy heavy metal and Celtic folk music, and I do everything my calico tells me to. I have a partner who is very dear to me. Lately I’ve developed a passion for photography. I love seeking out all the little bits of undiscovered beauty in my beloved Sonora Desert.

Here are a few random facts about me: Once, I sneaked up on a cat who was hunting a mouse, and caught both cat and mouse. Both were surprised. I lived for a year at a small municipal airport. I soloed a plane before I ever drove a car by myself. I was once caught in a Monsoon flood and my car was nearly swept away. I used to take notes in history class using a dip pen. I wrote my first completed novel, at work, between calls.

2. When did you start writing?
I think I made my first real attempt to write when tried to write a Star Trek novel. I was around 12. It was really, truly terrible and all done in longhand – I think I managed seventeen pages. I started writing a lot more in college, when I had time and privacy, and things to inspire me.

Honestly, age and growing patience helped my writing the most, along with a greater ability to type. I wrote most of a novel in my twenties and still have plans to finish it someday, it’s really not bad for an early work. Life experience has helped make me a better writer too. I’ve dabbled in writing articles for magazines as well, a practice that led directly into my blog writing. I started writing seriously, strangely enough, during NaNoWriMo a few years ago.

3. Why did you start writing?
I started writing my novel, The Dice of Fate, for three main reasons. One, I had an idea rattling around in my head. I wanted to start a story and just see where it went. Two, I was posting on a site that paid per view and I wanted to have new content every day. Three, I was really inspired by NaNoWriMo, and I badly wanted to finish a novel – finally!

4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
I’d been going through my idea file, looking for novel ideas, and saw one that I’d been kicking around for years. You see, whenever I get an idea for a story I try to write it down somewhere then transcribe it into this little text file, so if I need an idea I’ll always have something. When I looked in that time, there it was!

5. How different is the final product (the book) from your original vision?
It’s definitely different. Originally the story was going to be about a gaming group who was transported into the world of their RPG, and they’d have to live out all their scenarios with the rattling of their Gamemaster’s dice going when anything significant happened.

6. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
The title almost helped write the story. It came with the original idea, and even though the story itself morphed, the title stayed the same. The idea just kind of popped up in my head one day, and has actually been around for quite a while in my notes. I think the file is four or five hard drives old!

Originally I was going to call my novel “The Bones Of Fate.”

7. Does your story have a moral?
Generally, the moral is “we make our own destiny.” The main character goes through a lot and learns about how even though she may have had really strange things happen to her, she still has control over how she reacts and what she does to change her situation. The story is ultimately about empowerment, but not in a preachy way. When my main character was dumped flat footed into the world she landed in, she could have given up or freaked out. She thought about it, but ultimately, she started walking and looking for ways to survive. So it went, till the end.

8. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
I think I like the young dragon, Khurriath, the best. He’s such a geek, and he collects rocks and treasures but can’t really carry much with him. I had fun creating him and I want to tell more of his story. I also like showing how he grows during the course of the plot, and become more self reliant.

9. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in The Dice of Fate.
A curious wanderer, set adrift.

10. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I write when and where I can. I might grab an hour on a weekend morning when my partner is doing a render, or log in to FastPencil at night when the calls don’t come in as fast. I have to be good at starting and stopping quickly and dealing with lots of interruptions. At home, the interruption might have orange, black and white fur and a floofy tail. I don’t set daily goals for myself unless it’s November.

11. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I love outlines. I never finished a novel until I started using them. Though I’ll make changes before I’m done with the novel, I find they are an awesome way for sketching out the shape of the story so I don’t forget where I’m going, where I want to end up, or just get lost in the narrative. Making an outline for that moment when you get the most amazing idea but know you won’t have time to get it all down in one sitting. You can include notes for mood or character actions in your outline, so you don’t forget things later, or even sketch out individual scenes so you capture the freshness of your idea.

12. Any project in the works?
I’m working on “Silverwings,” a fantasy novel about a Magician’s apprentice who finds a winged mare in the forest and has to protect her from her cruel former master. I’m also working on completing the last few chapters of “Rageth,” a comedic horror story about two metalheads and a nurse who have to deal with a supernatural creature that invades the Tucson city electric system. Farther out, I’ll be finishing “blood tide,” a science fiction story set on a desert world many years after a civilization collapse. I’m also roughing out a non fiction collection of stories about people who decided to take control over their own destinies. It will be called “From Humble Beginnings.”

13. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Anywhere from a few months to a decade or more, depending on the book.

14. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. Persistence trumps talent almost every time. Keep learning, keep growing, keep reading other people’s work, always think about how you can make your own work better. Play, but don’t forget to think. Know why you do everything. Learn about the world and let that enrich your own writing. And don’t forget – never give up.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books!

2. Dogs or cats?
Cats!

3. Summer or winter?
Summer. I moved to a place called Dry Place, after all!

4. Ebook or physical book?
Ebook – for portability and that way I never have to lose my library again.

5. Living in the city or living in the country?
For now, city.

6. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telekinesis. It would be neat to have and wouldn’t threaten my sanity!

7. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Airplane if possible and private.

8. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Camping, camping, always camping!

9. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
I was about to say Jane Austen, but then I realized 21st century rap lyrics would give more variety.

10. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Animal languages – I could be a really great vet assistant or animal trainer. Then again, humans are animals too, so maybe I’d also have that insight.

11. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
*breaks into cold sweat* No internet? How horrible is that? I need my net. And I already don’t watch Movies or TV shows except for special occasions.

12. To never speak again or to never eat solid food again?
I’d buy a blender and yak away.

13. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Stay awake, provided I was able to have help staying awake.

14. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
Never watch another film. Books are just too awesome.

15. Finding yourself caught in the middle of a hurricane or finding yourself caught in the middle of a snowstorm? (Note: in both scenarios, you’d be outdoors and have no access to shelter.)
Snowstorm. Definitely snowstorm. I can build a snow cave if I have to. I’ve been in a hurricane before and I definitely needed shelter!

Thank you for joining us, Rohvannyn!
Readers: want to connect with Rohvannyn? You can find her on Goodreads and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her author website and blog.

New Release Alert: Coastal Spirit

Big news! Lindsay Marie Miller is releasing the final installment in the Jungle Eyes trilogy today. To learn all about Coastal Spirit, be sure to continue reading. Note that you can get the first book in the Jungle Eyes trilogy for free, and you can get the second book for just $0.99! Details are down below. 

(To check out my interview with Lindsay Marie Miller, click here.)

Coastal Spirit eBook Cover.jpg

Title: Coastal Spirit
Series: Jungle Eyes Trilogy, #3
Author: Lindsay Marie Miller
Genre: Romance, Action/Adventure, Historical
Release Date: October 18, 2016

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SYNOPSIS

Stranded in paradise, Henry and Elaine Rochester struggle to stay alive in the third and final installment of the Jungle Eyes Trilogy. Judas remains on the hunt for treasure and blood, while young Louisa has fallen in love with the man who kidnapped her.

When a ship arrives in pursuit of Captain William Pierce, Elaine is captured yet again by a ruthless hunter. Forced to expose the beautiful creatures she adores, Elaine reckons with the painful loss of Jade. But the strangers in the jungle are not who they appear to be. Will everyone make it off the island alive?

COASTAL SPIRIT IS $0.99 FOR A LIMITED TIME!

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ALSO…JUNGLE EYES IS FREE!

Download it today at the following retailers:

Jungle Eyes Cover Art.jpgAmazon

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GET ISLAND SMILE FOR JUST $0.99!

Island Smile Cover Art.jpgAmazon

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Photo.jpgLINDSAY MARIE MILLER graduated from Florida State University Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. An incurable romantic at heart, she enjoys writing about strong heroines and the honorable gentlemen who claim their hearts. The author resides in her hometown of Tallahassee, FL, where she is currently working on her next novel.

CONNECT WITH LINDSAY MARIE MILLER

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Author Interview: J.P. Cawood

Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar is excited to welcome J.P. Cawood, author of Love from Mars and Sam & The Secrets of the Universe. The former title, Love from Mars, is a romance novel with science fiction elements, and it’s currently in the running to be published on Kindle Scout. Let’s take a look at its blurb:

The cover of my first book, Love from Mars. Nominate the book for publication on Kindle Scout! https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/2DLGM5F7LJ8H0Six people have been chosen to colonize Mars, including the charismatic and noble Ryan Clarke. Emma, a headstrong reporter, meets Ryan at the Martian Six press conference. Despite the fact that he has a one-way ticket to another planet, they can’t resist their undeniable connection. Their whirlwind romance is rocked by one shocking revelation after another as the mission prepares to launch. Let the countdown begin… 

Sound interesting? Want a chance to win a FREE copy? Great! All you have to do is click here and nominate Love on Mars to be published on Kindle Scout. If Love on Mars wins, everyone who nominated it will receive a copy of the novel. You have until 7 November 2016 to cast your nomination. 

Now — without further ado — let’s meet J.P. Cawood.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from Milwaukee, WI and came out to Los Angeles to go to USC film school. I’ve worked in film and TV development for the last ten years and have sold series & pilots to Syfy Network, Lifetime Movie Network, Investigation Discovery, History Channel, and Destination America. Most recently, I created TLC’s hit show My Giant Life, which recently aired its second season. I’ve written and story consulted on screenplays in the past, but only recently decided to focus on writing books.

2. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
The idea for Love from Mars came to me in a dream. It played out like an entire movie as I slept. When I woke up the next morning, I raced to write it down. As I sat down to write the book, I took my initial dream notes and fleshed them out into an outline. The story has definitely evolved and fleshed out from the initial dream, but the major elements were all there from the start. Working with beta readers has been helpful to further flesh out story beats that were weak or needed more development.

3. Does your story have a moral?
Love from Mars is a love story about a couple that faces unbelievable obstacles to be together. It’s about creating a spiritual connection that is so powerful it has the ability to transcend space and time. There are metaphysical and spiritual elements that point to the endless possibilities of the Universe. Belief in those possibilities is the first step toward making them a reality.

4. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I strongly recommend outlines and use them for everything I do, even reality TV concepts. It’s a great way to get your ideas down on paper and refine the overall arc before diving into the actual writing.

5. Any project in the works?
I’ve written another book called Sam & The Secrets of the Universe. It’s a science fiction fantasy and the protagonist is a fifteen-year-old boy who has died on Earth. He wakes up on a strange planet and is given the opportunity to learn the secrets of the Universe. If he passes his tests, he’ll graduate to the next level. If he fails, he’ll be “Reset.” It’s a cosmic adventure that involves Black Holes, atomic particles, and the Anti-Universe. I plan to release that very soon. For updates on this project and more, sign up for my newsletter at http://www.jpcawood.com

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Dogs or cats?
I have a cat named Ananda. Her face is split perfectly down the middle; one side orange and the other black.

2. Summer or winter?
Summer. I live in LA because the weather is perfect all year long.

3. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
The future! I’d love to see how humans progress, on this planet and others.

4. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Text. The only people I usually talk to on the phone is my family.

5. Losing all of your money or losing every picture you’ve ever taken and every picture that has ever been taken of you?
Losing every picture that has ever been taken of me. That’d be healthy for my ego.

6. To find true love or to win the lottery?
I’ve already found true love so I’d love to win the lottery next 🙂

7. Bungee jumping or going on the slingshot ride?
I love rollercoasters and rides so definitely the slingshot. Where do I sign up?

8. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
I’d love to speak every human language. That’d be amazing. I only have very rough French.

9. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
I need the internet. How did we live ever without it?

10. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
I don’t drink coffee. I prefer tea. I call it my life juice.

Thank you for joining us, J.P.!
Readers: want to connect with J.P.? You can find her on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her author website.

Author Interview: Sharlin Craig

Joining us this fine day is Sharlin Craig, author of Ornaments of Love. Before we bombard Sharlin with questions, let’s take a quick look at her novel.

OrnOfLoveCover.jpgA touching Christmas story with glowing illustrations, Ornaments of Love is a story to cherish for years to come. A beautiful tale of Ayana, an endearing ten-year-old who excitedly anticipates that special time of year when the entire family joins together to decorate and admire the Christmas tree.

But sadly this year is different. Ayana realizes that her mom and dad are far too busy with everything else to enjoy the tree with Ayana. Then, something unexpected happens and the family is brought together with tenderness and joy.

Filled to the brim and overflowing with charming moments, gentle humor, and timeless illustrations, this beautiful story is a wonderful reminder of what’s important not only during the Christmas season, but every day of our lives. Ornaments of Love is destined to become one of your favorite holiday stories. One that will remain in your heart forever.

Sharlin.jpg1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from Detroit, Michigan and I currently reside in Santa Ana, California. I love to write children’s books and music. I enjoy gardening because I like being outdoors and seeing the garden transform into something beautiful. My family and I adopted an adorable miniature schnauzer puppy a few months ago and I’m working daily to train her. I love being a mom, wife and music teacher. I enjoy reading books and watching movies and could survive on Starbuck’s French roast coffee, Ghirardelli dark chocolate, and red wine. I love hugs, laughing, spending time with my family and friends, exploring new restaurants, the outdoors, sunsets, picnics and accomplishing my goals.

2. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
The book that I wrote, “Ornaments of Love”, basically came up with its own title. The story is all about the loving memories that each Christmas tree ornament represents.

3. Does your story have a moral?
I hesitate to say my story has a moral because I prefer the story speak for itself. But I do hope that families walk away after reading “Ornaments of Love” making a conscious point to spend quality time together over the holidays and throughout the rest of the year.

4. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
The protagonist, Ayana, is my favorite character. She expresses her feelings throughout the book and isn’t afraid to show her vulnerability or disappointment. She has faith in her family and rejoices when her family finally makes time to spend together.

 5. What is your favorite book genre?
I enjoy a good fictional novel, maybe historical in nature or if it’s just plain fun. And I adore children’s picture books, especially the ones that touch my heart or make me laugh. I love to share my favorite picture books with my nine-year-old daughter so we can laugh together or read about something impactful.

6. Any project in the works?
I have several ideas for future projects. After Christmas, I’ll evaluate the ideas that I have and make a decision to work on the one that I believe in the most.

7. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
I think a story is good if it sticks with me after I read it. It needs to affect me emotionally somehow either through humor, depth, cleverness or where I learned something new and important. I feel a good book is one I’ve never read before. It’s new and different. It has to be a quality read where it’s clear the author devoted himself/herself to excellence throughout the book.

8. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
My advice to aspiring writers is to become immersed in every way imaginable into the craft of writing. Also, read, read, read!

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Dogs or cats?
Dogs

2. Summer or winter?
Summer

3. Cake or ice-cream?
Cake — chocolate!

4. Car or motorcycle?
Car

5. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book

6. Nights out or nights in? 
Nights in

7. Living in the city or living in the country?
Country

8. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telepathy

9. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Past

10. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Car

11. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Hotel

12. Working in a group or working alone?
Alone

13. To find true love or to win the lottery?
True love

14. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Spider-Man

15. To find the love of your life (only to find out that you’re not the love of their life) or to have someone declare you the love of their life (note, however, that this someone is not a person whom you are romantically interested in)?
Have someone declare I’m the love of their life.

16. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
Using rap lyrics from songs in the 21st century

17. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind.

18. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Going without movies or TV for a week

19. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be Saturday?
Have every day be Saturday.

Thank you for joining us, Sharlin!
Readers: want to connect with Sharlin? You can find her on Goodreads and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her author website.

Author Interview: Roxana Nastase (a.k.a. Rowena Dawn)

Guess who’s visiting today? It’s Rowena Dawn! For those of you who aren’t familiar with her work, she’s the author of the following titles:

  • Mayhem on Nightingale Street
  • Leap of Faith
  • Double-Edged: Perfect Halves
  • Becka’s Awakening

(Fun fact: Rowena writes both romance novels and crime-thrillers.)

Let’s sit down with this architect and discuss her writing over some coffee. 😀

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1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
My country of origin is Romania and I spent my first few decades (let’s say almost four) there. I moved to Canada, to Quebec first and then to Toronto, but at heart I’m still Romanian. My values haven’t changed – it was too late for that. I love Romania, I enjoyed Quebec and, let’s say, I tolerate Toronto. Too crowded and too noisy for me, I suppose, but perfect for my daughter. Eh, different generations, I suppose.

I’ve passed through various phases and I enjoyed things for a while and got bored after some time. What stuck with me was reading. This is my hobby, I think, although I’ve never thought about that. However, if I can’t read at least a few pages a day, I’m antsy and I can’t even go to bed.

Another hobby – as my friends would say, was collecting degrees. I’ve always been passionate about too many things and I couldn’t decide. I started studying French literature and then Geography. I went to Law School for two years and then I studied English Lit. I went for a Master’s in International Relations and after a while for another one in Biogeography. Yes, I know, it’s all over the map. Anyway, everything helps. I have knowledge I can dip in whenever I need it and I learnt to apply logic and to make associations.

I am a very disorganized person in all aspects of my life other than my work. Worse, I’m very forgetful. I leave the room and after a minute I don’t remember why. However, I can remember exactly how my characters look or what they said and when. I’ve always had the reputation of a good kid or a good girl and that’s ironic. I always broke the rules. I don’t like rules, and in my house there aren’t any.

2. When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was around eight. I had a good imagination and I liked to write stories. At that time, I used to write poetry, as well. I published very late in life. My first novel was a thriller, published under my real name: Mayhem on Nightingale Street and then I tried my hand in romance with Double-Edged (Book One in Perfect Halves) and Leap of Faith, under my pen name Rowena Dawn. I have just launched a new romance, Becka’s Awakening (Book One in The Winstons series) and I am already plotting Book Two.

3. Why did you start writing?
I started writing because I have a hyper-active imagination and I have a compulsion about putting stories on paper (metaphorically speaking – I haven’t written a story on a paper for a long time now).

4. Do you recall the moment you conceived the idea for your first novel?
Oh, yes. It was January 1st 2003. I woke up in the morning and I started writing Mayhem on Nightingale Street. I wrote almost continuously until I finished it. I wrote the book in about three months and then I put it away. After a few more months, I realized there were changes to be made. However, the content didn’t change. I changed phrasing and I am sure that if I try the same now, I would make other changes like that. Time has the power to make you feel differently about words.

5. Tell us a little bit about your newest book’s title, Becka’s Awakening.
Initially, I wanted to use “Becka” as a title for the book I have just launched. However, although it said something to me, I was sure that the potential reader would feel nothing seeing it. After about a week of thinking, I chose Becka’s Awakening because that’s what Becka does: she opens her eyes towards feelings and sensations she heard about, but never experienced first-hand. It is like an Awakening. Besides that, although she was determined to get the money at the beginning of the story, the end shows a dramatic change in her thinking. That’s another type of awakening, in my opinion.

6. Does Becka’s Awakening have a moral?
I think that the moral of the book is that you might not end up with everything; however, if your heart is content, then you don’t need everything. Finding a soul mate can bring you happiness in the long run while money might bring you just a piece of happiness, especially if there are strings attached. One of the themes in this book is that opposites attract. Becka is somewhat naïve while Bryan has seen too much of the ugly side of life; however, they complete each other.

7. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
I think I favor Bryan, the hero in Becka’s Awakening. He is a strong man, with a speckled past and some psychological issues. He seems ready to take advantage of the situation, but then he falls so hard for the heroine that he doesn’t know where he’s coming from or where he’s going.

Becka was fun to write and she was a challenge. It’s not easy to remember how 19-year-olds think and react.

8. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Becka’s Awakening.
Becka is: short, curvy, stubborn, sweet.

9. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
Sometimes I listen to music, especially if my next door neighbors have one of their quarreling sessions. That’s not very helpful when you try to write a love scene, believe me. Most of the time, I prefer to be only with my thoughts. I don’t write during a specific moment of the day. It depends on inspiration and other work as well. However, I do prefer writing in the yard. Now, with the rains and soon snow, that will have to change. I never set daily goals. As I said, I like to break rules and I couldn’t respect such a goal.

10. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I have no feelings about them whatsoever.

11. What is your favorite book genre?
I read thrillers and romance and I write thrillers and romance.

12. What is currently on your to-be-read shelf?
I have lots of books on my to-be-read shelf. However, right now I’m reading a poetry book. I promised a review.

13. What is your favorite book?
I have several favorite books; however, I think I should mention Mermoz by Joseph Kessel. I read it when I was very young, but it stayed with me along the time. It touched me deeply: the courage, the hope…

14. Any project in the works?
I have four novels and a novelette in the works. I write on each of them depending on the mood. However, I am pretty sure I will finish the novelette first. It’s three quarters written while the others have only a few chapters in.

15. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
For the first draft, I usually need between one and three months. The problem is that there is a second and sometimes a third one before sending it to an editor.

16. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
The characters and the action.

17. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
To try. No one lost anything by trying but achieved nothing if they didn’t.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books

2. Dogs or cats?
Both

3. Summer or winter?
Winter

4. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in

5. Living in the city or living in the country?
Living in the country

6. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telepathy

7. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Being able to travel to the future

8. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Batman

9. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Every language known to animals

10. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Without watching any movies/television shows for a week

11. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
To never watch another film

12. Finding yourself caught in the middle of a hurricane or finding yourself caught in the middle of a snowstorm? (Note: in both scenarios, you’d be outdoors and have no access to shelter.)
Snowstorm

13. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Never eat a piece of chocolate

14. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be Saturday?
Have every day be Saturday

Thank you for joining us, Roxana!
Readers: want to connect with Roxana? You can find her on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her blog.