Author Interview: Michael Phillip Cash

Today’s guest is one of the most prolific writers to ever visit Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar. To his name are over twenty-six books and screenplays which, collectively, have garnered more than sixty awards. (Impressive, eh?) Of course — as I’m sure you’ve already figured out from this post’s title — I’m talking about Michael Phillip Cash, author of fantasy, horror, thriller, and suspense novels.

Without further ado, let’s get to know Michael.

Image may contain: 1 person1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Michael Phillip Cash. I like long walks on the beach and dark chocolate.  Actually only half of that is true.  I have been writing (albeit terribly) since I’m 15.  I started writing (a little better) screenplays when I turned 20.  I started writing (much better) novels in my late 20s.  I self-published all my works. I have a degree in English, a minor in education, a degree in finance and an MBA in Business Management.  I have a beautiful wife that keeps me grounded. I have two wonderful children that keep my imagination churning.  I haven’t eaten bread, rice, pasta or potatoes in 6 years. I haven’t eaten vegetables or fruit in 2 years.  I eat meat, butter and dairy on a daily basis, and I just recently started lifting heavy weights.  I have never felt healthier in my life.

2. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
Laptop on a pillow on my lap, in my den. Night time – around 8pm. Travel Channel or Food Network on in the background.

3. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
All of my books begin as screenplays. I need to map out all my characters and their arcs.  I cannot begin writing until I have a screenplay completed.  Then, once that’s done, I flesh out the novel.

4. What are you currently reading?
Spiritual Science, The Flat Earth Conspiracy, Jurassic Park, The Revenant Screenplay.

5. What is your favorite book?
The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles. This book is what got me to this point in my writing career. It’s the basis for the film The Secret.

6. Any project in the works?
I have a completed manuscript called Dragged Down Deep. Think Indiana Jones meets Creature from the Black Lagoon. I finished Monsterland 2, and now I’m working on Monsterland 3.

7. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
2 weeks for a screenplay – 3 weeks for a book.

8. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write every day. Write what you want, not what you think Hollywood will make next. Write every day.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Like choosing children, but if I must – movies.

2. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in with a movie and cake.

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

4. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
I sense the answer to this is telepathy.

5. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Past, but not to stop my mom from kissing Biff.

6. Working in a group or working alone?
Group.

7. Losing all of your money or losing every picture you’ve ever taken and every picture that has ever been taken of you?
I’m seriously sweating while answering these, and you’re making it worse. Lose money, because I can always make it back. Can’t get back those pictures.

8. Reading or writing?
Writing!

9. 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)?
Were these written by my wife? I love you honey. You’re my soulmate, and I would never think of answering a question like this.

10. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
You know the answer, I don’t have to say, rap the only way I’d speak, each and e’ry day.

11. Bungee jumping or going on the slingshot ride?
I’m more of a ‘It’s a Small World’ kinda guy.

12. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
I’m allergic to animals, and some humans, but mostly animals.

13. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
Busy expressway. I have an incredible personality and can stop a car to get them to help me.

14. Misunderstanding everything that is told to you or being misunderstood every time that you speak?
Huh?

15. Drinking a glass of expired, curdled milk or eating a bowl of cold, slimy worms? (Note: the worms would be dead, though not cooked.)
Worms. I’m a carnivore.

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

New Release Alert & Author Interview with Kristina Beck

Today’s post comes in the form of both a new release alert and author interview. Earlier this month, Kristina Beck’s debut novel, Lives Collide, hit virtual shelves. I am excited to announce that Kristina visits Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar today to talk to us about both her romance novel and the super interesting life she’s led thus far. Before we sit down with Kristina, let’s take a look at her book’s blurb:

33815063You can plan your life, but sometimes life has a mind of its own…

Following Lisa’s near-death experience as a teenager, she is haunted by the emerald-green eyes of the stranger who saved her life. Her only connection to him is the leather jacket he left behind. Years later, she’s still reeling from the aftereffects of her injuries, convinced that no man will love her once he uncovers her secret. She lives a life of solitude and hides behind her days of monotony. And then James storms into her life.

After James helps a young girl in a car accident, he sets his life course—determined that nothing will stand in his way. Once he accomplishes his dreams, one unforeseen event changes his orderly existence into one of chaos. He spirals downward and can’t summon the strength to pull himself from the edge of despair. Until Lisa becomes a beautiful distraction.

Familiarity and a sense of peace draw them to one another. They soon discover they lived parallel lives that intertwined at the most crucial points. Can their revelations help them face their fears and move forward, or will history repeat itself?

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m from the USA and was born and raised in New Jersey. I have three brothers and two sisters. I’m the youngest. After I graduated high school, I went to college and graduate school while working in the pharmaceutical industry.  I graduated college with a degree in biology. I pursued graduate school with the ultimate goal of receiving a master’s degree in Public Health. That goal was side-tracked because I met my future German husband. At one point, he had to move back to Germany for work. We had to make a decision as to where we should live after we got married. Without hesitation, I chose Germany.

It was a huge decision but it was made so easily. I needed change. Going to school and working full-time became exhausting as well as boring. I made the hard choice to stop graduate school. Moving to another country, starting a family and becoming a stay-at-home mom was never a thought in my mind before I met my husband. My ambition at the time was to climb the corporate ladder in the pharma industry.

I was up for an adventure and a change of pace. Within a year, I was living in Munich, Germany. Before I started my new job in Germany, I had one whole month with nothing to do other than to take German classes. I never lived so carefree. It was the best feeling. Talk about a one-eighty in lifestyle. My obsession with reading started during that month of freedom. I regret not reading more when I was younger. Now I can’t stop. My kids love to read as well.

Meeting my husband has changed my life in ways I never thought possible. Living in another country with my family has taught me so much more than any university could. I was never one for taking chances but I have no regrets taking this one. I have learned so much about different cultures. Each one has its positive and negatives including the USA. On top of that I have learned to speak another language.

After moving four times in thirteen years, we happily reside in the farthest southwest tip of Germany which borders France and Switzerland. Finally, we found a place we can call home.

2. When did you start writing?
I started writing about fifteen months ago. I read as much as possible which created my desire to write. I enjoy genres such as romance, science fiction and fantasy. My first novel, Lives Collide, is a new adult/contemporary romance novel. It is book one of the Collide series. I always had an idea for Lives Collide. After a lot of encouragement from my husband, Lives Collide was released in February.

3. Why did you start writing?
I was tired of reading books when I had an idea of my own. Living in Germany for so many years, I felt and still feel that I’m losing some of my English skills. Writing this novel has stimulated my brain and has improved my English above and beyond. I enjoyed every step of the process no matter how overwhelming it was. I should probably be improving my German language skills but writing this book was a lot more fun.

The world is under a lot of stress at the moment. I hope that my readers get lost in my books and can block out some of that negativity. I just want to make people smile.

4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
I don’t remember the exact moment I came up with the idea. I always knew how I would start the book. Then I just let my fingers speed type on my computer. When I look back at my first draft, it is embarrassing. Other than the first chapter, it looks nothing like the final book. It was amazing how the twists and turns of the book spun its web in my head.

5. How did you arrive at your book’s title?
Even my book’s title is different from the original one. My first title was The Reason and would be book one of the Chances Are series. I had this nagging feeling it wasn’t catchy enough or emotional enough. As I read my book over and over again, I saw the word collide a couple of times. Then it got me thinking, Lives Collide, Collide series. I pitched it to my editor and she loved it.

6. Does your story have a moral?
The main theme of my books in the Collide series is chance meetings. Are you meant to be with this person regardless how you met? Would you have met under different circumstances? Does timing have something to do with it? Is it all coincidence or is it destiny?

I love hearing how couples have met. Some have really interesting and bizarre stories that can give you goosebumps. I remember reading about one situation where a couple met and married. Years later they found a picture of when the man was little boy. In the background of the picture was the woman when she was a young girl. They never met until several years later.

7. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I need to be in a bright and comfortable place to write. One room of my house has a wall of windows. My desk faces those windows. I have a great view of my garden and of the Black Forest. It is a bit hot during the summer but very cozy when the sun shines in on cold winter days. This part of the room is centered in the middle of the main floor. I have access to everything within seconds.

I write mostly when my kids are at school or after they go to bed. In Germany, the school day is not very long in elementary school. Two out of three of my kids are home by one p.m. I need to take advantage of the quiet time in the morning. Most of the time I write in silence but once in a while I’ll play classical music. I can’t listen to someone singing because it distracts my thoughts. It’s as if someone is sitting next to me and constantly talking. I would get nothing done. Also, when my kids get home, there is constant noise. When I’m alone I need the quiet.

I do not push myself to write a certain amount of words a day. It doesn’t work that way when I have other responsibilities to deal with on top of writing. I’m happy when I even get ten minutes in. I can write with my kids running around me but it can really interrupt my creativity and speed. This is one reason why I chose self-publishing. I need to work at my own pace.

8. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I’m a disorganized person by nature. I could write an outline but I would never follow it. My head goes in different directions and then the outline would need to be written again. I need to just go with the flow and not follow anything too strictly. However, I do write descriptions of my characters beforehand.

9. What is your favorite book genre?
My preferred book genre is romance of all kinds. I prefer to read and write in first person point of view rotating between the woman and the man. I love reading what both are thinking. It makes the book more interesting to me.

10. Any project in the works?
I’m currently working on the second book in the Collide series. The title is Dreams Collide. I’m half way through the first draft. Now that the first book has been released, I can focus on Dreams Collide.

11. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t waste your time dreaming about writing your book….just do it. It is hard but worth the chance and is a lot of fun. You need to push yourself. I had bad days and great days. Don’t give up. I promised myself I wouldn’t give up and now my book out there to read. Fear shouldn’t stop you and learn how to take negative criticism. Use it as a way to learn, not a way to discourage you. It is truly a great accomplishment to have the final book in your hand. I promise.

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

2. Dogs or cats?
Cats. I love when a cat lays on me and purrs. I don’t have any pets now but I do miss having a cat.

3. Summer or winter?
Summer. Less clothes, more ice-cream, glass of wine or a beer out on the terrace at night, eat outside at restaurants and cafes, taking power naps on a chair in the garden….

4. Cake or ice-cream?
Ice-cream – I eat it almost every day during the summer and not the low-fat kind. Delicious.

5. Car or motorcycle?
Car. I think motorcycles are dangerous.

6. Ebook or physical book?
I really like physical books but I like eBooks to save space. It is also easier to travel with. When I’m away for a long time, I don’t need to carry several books with me.

7. Living in the city or living in the country?
Living in the country – I like the quiet and fresh air. I would rather hear birds chirping rather than constant traffic. I like that my kids can run around outside in the orchards or vineyards around my house.

8. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Unfortunately sending a text. I’m not someone who likes to talk on the phone. I know it is very impersonal. I would rather talk face to face.

9. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Definitely by car. I have a horrible fear of flying. I do it but I don’t like it. My body is tense the entire flight. I can’t relax. I wait to read books that I have been looking forward to reading. It makes the time go so much faster.

10. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Hotel. I need my own bathroom.

11. To find true love or to win the lottery?
Of course, to find true love. I’m writing romance novels.

12. 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)?
I would rather have someone declare me the love of their life. I know what heartache is and have no desire to feel it again. I don’t want people to suffer either but I need to be selfish when it comes to my heart.

13. Bungee jumping or going on the slingshot ride?
Neither. I have a fear of heights, hence why I hate to fly. It gives me the chills just thinking about it.

14. 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. I live in a country where I hear several languages all around me. It is exhausting sometimes. I wish I didn’t have to think so much and wonder what people are saying. It would make my life a lot easier.

15. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Going without watching TV/Movies. The internet is more important to me for writing as well as communicating with my family and friends in the US.

16. To never speak again or to never eat solid food again?
To never eat solid food again. I like to talk to people and to socialize (just not on the phone). I could live off of smoothies all day long.

17. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Walking for twenty-four hours straight. I hate how I feel when I haven’t slept for over twenty-four hours let alone forty-eight hours.

18. Misunderstanding everything that is told to you or being misunderstood every time that you speak?
This one is hard to answer. I have lived in situations where I’ve experienced both due to language barriers. I don’t like either one. It is truly frustrating when I’m misunderstood in a situation where it is crucial to get my point across. Sometimes I would go home crying.

19. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
Losing my ability to hear. As I have said, I like to talk. However, I always claim I have mother’s ears. I hear every little thing. To not have that anymore would be horrible.

20. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
To never watch another film. I could read 24 hours a day if I could. I can’t say that about movies or TV.

21. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Hard decision. I eat and drink both every day. I think I would have to say never to eat chocolate again. There is always coffee in my house but I can’t say that about chocolate.

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

Author Interview: Kay MacLeod

32828654After stumbling upon an otherworldly ritual, Kitty Fairlow discovers that her own incredible hunting skills are not merely due to a lifetime of training. She has been gifted powers from an ancient spirit, passed down by her father. She is a Constellation. And she’s not the only one.

A new generation of heroes have each inherited unique abilities in order to prevent the corruption of their world by the Tenebri, a race that thrives on life energy. Kitty, along with a high-born dancer and a snarky juggler, must find their allies before the Tenebri army picks them off.

With the powerful enemy emerging, can the Constellations gather in time to put an end to the threat for good, or will their foe succeed and wreak the same destruction they have unleashed on their own world?

Talk about intriguing! With us today is the author of Heirs of Power, Kay MacLeod.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! I’m Kay MacLeod, author of The Constellation Saga. I’m from England and live with my husband and cat. I love reading, writing, gaming and drinking tea. Anything with fantastical creatures or awesome powers will draw me in, like Pokémon, superheroes or dungeons and dragons.

2. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
The idea for The Constellation Saga started with an idea for a character’s power. I was laying down on my bed lamenting that so many things had been overdone, you have the fire guy and the ice guy and the healer…Then a weird thought struck me, I ran with it and realised that it would be a lot of fun to play with. One of my characters can switch two objects of a similar size if he’s touching one and can see the other, this works on people too and they don’t always appreciate it! I call it Juggling.

I knew I had to do something with this so I decided to have a group of people with unique abilities and an invading spirit army for them to fight against. That’s how the first novel, Heirs of Power, was created.

3. How did you arrive at your book’s title?
I had a lot of debates with myself about what to name this book, I was originally thinking about using the characters or their weapon’s names but it didn’t feel like it helped to show what it was about. Then I considered ‘A Gathering of Constellations’ but it felt weak. So, I went back and tried to describe the story in the least amount of words I could, so ‘Heirs of Power’ was born! The main characters have each inherited a powerful spirit from one of their parents, this provides their magical abilities so the title made sense to me as soon as I thought of it.

4. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
I have to say male lead, Asher Grey. He’s the one with the Juggling ability and I’ve had so much fun coming up with ways for him to utilise it. I love his attitude even more though- he’s snarky, elitist, grumpy and sarcastic, yet so adorable! He bounces off the protagonist, Kitty, really well and their banter makes me ashamed at how much I laugh out loud at words I wrote…

5. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Heirs of Power.
Kitty is- Compassionate, naive, impulsive, skilful and determined.

6. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I think they are very important, especially when you’re trying to build a whole world! I plan heavily at the start of a novel to make sure I have a believable world, well-rounded characters and a plot that flows well throughout the book. That doesn’t mean that I always follow it though, if a great idea springs to mind or I feel like something would fit better at a different point I’m not against shifting things around. The ending to Heirs of Power changed pretty dramatically by the time I reached it, but I wouldn’t have gotten there in the first place if I didn’t have the outline to guide me.

7. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
Characters. Without a doubt. I could read something mundane where everyone is sitting around, drinking tea and not doing much if it’s people that I’m fascinated in doing it. Give me the world’s most exciting story with explosions, dragons and huge twists- I won’t be gripped if it involves characters that feel so flat I don’t care about them.

I also like a bit of unpredictability, there’s nothing worse than guessing every plot point before it happens.

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

2. Dogs or cats?
Cats.

3. Cake or ice-cream?
Cake.

4. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in.

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

6. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Sending a text.

7. Working in a group or working alone?
Working alone.

8. To find true love or to win the lottery?
True love always wins!

9. Reading or writing?
Writing.

10. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Animals, I want to know what my cat really thinks of me.

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

12. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Staying awake for forty-eight hours.

13. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Never drink a cup of coffee (easy one for a tea addict!)

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

Author Interview: Nancy Panko

Not too many people can boast about having had their work published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Nancy Panko can! On top of that, Nancy is the author of the soon-to-be-released Guiding Missal, a novel which centers on the relationship between three generations of military men and a spirited prayer book. Interested in learning more about Guiding Missal? Stick around. Nancy has lots of interesting information to share with us today!

fullsizeoutput_21c71. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in the dining room of a farm house in central New York State, but lived most of my life in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. My husband and I moved to Fuquay Varina, N.C. to be closer to our children almost 10 years ago and love it here.

I’ve always been a crafty person and love to make jewelry or sew unusual things.

I’m a retired pediatric nurse, now a writer.

I started my education at the State University of New York at Alfred, but dropped out after a year. Seventeen years later, I enrolled at Lock Haven University to challenge myself with the hardest things I could take to see if I could hack nursing school. I got all A’s and B’s and it was off to nursing school. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done, but the most worthwhile and I graduated in 1982 having made Dean’s List repeatedly. As nurses, we do a lot of writing and it has to be understandable. Nurses must be good communicators, it gave me an excellent foundation in my straight forward style of writing.

In our leisure time, we love to spend time on our pontoon boat. Actually being on, in, or around the water is our favorite thing to do. I get a great sense of satisfaction in piloting the boat for the fisher people with a good book on my lap. When we reach “the spot,” the fresh air, water and quiet (until someone gets a fish on) makes for good reading.

2. When did you start writing?
I started writing professionally in 2012. We had gone on a cruise with good friends and I was telling them about a patient I’d taken care of in ICU. That patient changed my life. He wasn’t expected to live, but live he did, and he and I experienced a journey of healing. When I was done telling the story, everyone was dabbing their eyes and my friend said “That story needs to be shared. You must write that story!” She would know, as Ellen Edwards Kennedy is a writer of a lovely cozy mystery series. So, I wrote the story and “Journey of Healing” was first published in Christian Women’s Voice in California. I submitted it to Chicken Soup for the Soul and Guidepost Magazine and they both published it in different years with different titles.

That story was followed by six more stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul and two more in Guidepost.

option-13. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for Guiding Missal
The idea for my novel, Guiding Missal hit me in 1994.

4. How different is the final product (the book) from your original vision?
The manuscript evolved from a short story to a full length novel over time and the characters became more three dimensional. The structure of the book changed from a three part book to stories and characters flowing along a time line. As I grew as an author, the book became better and better. It has taken about 8 years to write this story, with many stops and starts because life got in the way. About a year of that time was research because it needed to be historically correct. I did lots of personal interviews and I had men in their 80’s sharing stories in their letters about their experiences in WWII.

5. How did you arrive at your book’s title?
The title “Guiding Missal” came about during a brain storming session with friends. We knew that the prayer book was the omniscient narrator of the story and that it was carried by all three generations of military men. The Holy Spirit within the pages of the missal (another term for prayer book) guided and protected each man. At first it was Guided Missal until one of my readers pointed out that it was the missal that was doing the Guiding. Necessarily, it became Guiding Missal.

6. Does your story have a moral?
The overall theme or moral to this story is that with faith, gratitude and love, God can perform miracles even on the battlefield.

7. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
The most fun character to develop and write is that of the omniscient missal which tells and is a character in the story. I believe he’s male, God fearing, faithful but humble.

8. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Guiding Missal.
My protagonist in Guiding Missal is: Omniscient, reverent, feisty and funny.

9. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
A typical writing session for me is totally quiet at my computer in my home office. I like the mornings and early afternoons. At times when I feel overcome with ideas and a story line, I will write in the wee hours of the morning. I don’t set word count goals, but rather time goals and, with that, the word count comes.

10. How do you feel about outlines?
I don’t typically start an outline, but rather write in scenes and establish a direction. Later on I go back and fill in the details.

11. What is your favorite book genre?
My favorite genre is a mystery, second favorite is a historical novel and then a good love story. I write a lot of non-fiction for Chicken Soup and Guideposts, things that have happened to me or my family, but my novel, although based on actual events, is fiction because of the character of the missal.

I enjoy reading Ellen Edwards Kennedy’s cozy mysteries. She has a wonderful way with the English language and a great sense of humor and her books are “flinch free.” I just finished Situation Room by Jack Mars. I love anything by the late Vince Flynn, Michael Connelly and I enjoyed A Higher Call by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander. The Help by Kathryn Stockett is one of my favs. I can’t forget Wayne Stinnett’s series, enjoyed every one.

12. What is your favorite book?
Asking, “what’s your favorite book?” is liking asking who’s my favorite child. There are so many over the years. Different styles of writing, different genres, complex characters. I truly enjoyed everything James Michener wrote, he was a master of detail. I loved Stieg Larsson’s series about the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I loved Water for Elephants and Heaven is for Real.

13. Any project in the works?
The current project is getting Guiding Missal to the public and making everyone aware of how incredibly special this book is.

14. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
A story is ‘good’ if it makes me laugh, cry or feel some emotion. I’m always sad to have a good story end. If it leaves me wanting more, it’s a hit!

15. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep on honing your craft. Start by writing short stories, make them gripping, touching or exciting in some way. Get your feet on the ground and just keep moving forward.

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

2. Dogs or cats?
Dogs, especially black labs

3. Summer or winter?
Summer, more boat time

4. Cake or ice-cream?
Cake

5. Car or motorcycle?
Car

6. Ebook or physical book?
Both

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

8. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telepathy

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

10. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Hotel

11. To find true love or to win the lottery?
Find true love

12. Reading or writing?
Writing, for sure!

13. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
Never to watch another film

14. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Coffee, don’t take away my chocolate!

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

Author Interview: Victoria Zigler

Prolific author Victoria Zigler joins us in the virtual studio. Among the various works to her name are the Magical Chapters trilogy, the Toby’s Tales series, the Kero’s World series, the Degu Days duology, and the Zeena Dragon Fae series.

Let’s sit down with this incredible architect of worlds afar and learn more about her!

tori-september-20151. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Victoria Zigler, but most people just call me Tori – you can do the same, if you like.  I was born and raised in the shadow of the Black Mountains in South-West Wales, UK, other than a couple of years in my early teens when I lived on the English coast, and six months in my late teens when I lived in Canada with the man who became my husband during that time.  These days I’m back to living on the South-East coast of England, in the same general area I lived for those couple of years during my early teens, along with my hubby and our rodent gang.

I’m both a poet and an author of children’s stories.  When I’m not writing, chances are I’m either reading, spending time with my hubby and pets, sorting eMails, putting in an appearance on social media, or dabbling in one of the other hobbies and interests that capture my attention from time to time, such as watching movies, listening to music, doing crafts, and playing roleplaying games (games like Dungeons And Dragons, and that kind of thing).  Either that, or it’s because I have yet to figure out where I can get a house elf or brownie, so I’m forced to worry about things like household chores and errands.  Although, hubby’s pretty good at helping with those, so I sometimes get to skip them and get some extra reading or writing time in.

Also, having battled with Glaucoma since birth, I’m now completely blind, since I lost the last of my sight in my early 20s.

2. When did you start writing?
I learned to read and write young, partially due to having older brothers and wanting to copy them.  I’ve been writing since I knew how, and was writing poetry and short stories “just because” even in my early school days.  I even won a medal in a writing contest when I was seven years old.  But I only started publishing my books in 2012.  To date I’ve published seven poetry collections, 42 children’s stories, and a story in a sci-fi and fantasy anthology, with plenty more poems and stories planned for the future.

Among the children’s stories are a series about a little boy’s struggles with adapting after sight loss, a series based on the life of my beloved West Highland White Terrier, another shorter series based on events in the lives of my degus, a series about a faerie dragon and a pixie saving the world from a jealous fairy’s evil magic, and a trilogy about a young witch and a pineapple loving dragon.  The rest are stand-alone stories mostly in the fairy tale or talking animal categories, although I do also have a science fiction story, as well as a historical fiction story based on the battle of Hastings.

All of my books are available as eBooks via Smashwords and the retailers they distribute to (such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple iBooks) and as paperbacks via CreateSpace and the places they distribute to (such as most of the Amazon sites, and Barnes & Noble).

3. Why did you start writing?
I don’t know why I started writing to begin with.  I know I learned to read and write quickly because I wanted to do “homework” like my big brothers.  But I couldn’t tell you what made me start writing poems and stories of my own.  I guess I just thought it was fun.  Regardless of the reason though, these days I write because I have to.  There are stories in my head, and I have to write them down.  It’s as simple as that.

4. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I’m not sure I have a “typical” writing session.  I write every day, but exactly how long for, and at what time, depends on what else is going on that day.  I always write at my desk these days though.  We have the second bedroom set up as a sort of home office, and both hubby and I have our computers in there.  I didn’t used to always write at my desk.  Before I lost my sight, I wrote in cafes, at bus stops, or wherever I happened to be.  Then, after I lost my sight, I had a laptop that I used to write in different locations.  We scrapped the laptop idea when I kept putting it down and forgetting where though… I stepped on it one too many times, and it broke.  After that happened twice, we decided it would be better for me to stick to a desktop computer.  Anyway, other than my computer – and the software required to make it do what I need it to – the only thing I need to be able to write is to not be too hungry or thirsty.  I always have a drink beside me, and tend to write better if it’s not close to dinner time, or I have snacks to hand.

5. How do you feel about outlines?
Outlines may work well for some people, but they don’t work for me.  I never know exactly where my story is going until I get there.  I did try outlines once, but my characters wouldn’t listen to me, so I just ended up scrapping the outline anyhow.  I figure there’s no point wasting time on outlines if they’ll only end up scrapped.  So I just get on with writing the story.

6. What is your favorite book genre?
My absolute favourite genre is fantasy, both for reading and writing.  I do read almost all genres though, and have dabbled in writing for a couple of other genres too, with plans to do this a little more in the future.

7. Any project in the works?
Always! At the moment I’m working on writing the poems for my eighth poetry collection, while also writing a pirate themed adventure story.  While working on those things, I’m also playing about a little with some other potential ideas, but none of those have gone far enough to be discussed yet.

8. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
It varies, depending on how much time I end up spending on writing each day, how quickly I’m able to figure out where the story is going next, how long it is, and whether I find myself needing to look something up before I can move on with the story, or can wait to double-check facts until the first draft is done and it’s time to do the next draft.  The quickest was written, edited, and published, all within a month.  The slowest took almost two months just to write the first draft.  Of course, those times are based on estimates… Well, except for the quickest one, since I know the final book in my “Kero’s World” series was published within a month.  But I’m usually dabbling a bit with my next project while working on my current one, which makes it difficult to give a totally accurate estimate on how long it takes me to write something.

9. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
I don’t think there’s one single thing that universally makes a “good” story.  Several factors come in to play, and which is most important depends on the story in question, whether the story is more plot or character driven, what genre it’s in, etc.

10. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just write.  For one thing, practice makes perfect.  For another thing, if you don’t sit down and write, you’ll always just be an aspiring writer.  If you want to become an author, rather than remaining an aspiring writer, you need to write.  It sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how many people insist they want to write something, spend who knows how long reading books and articles on writing, attend workshops, etc, and yet fail to actually sit down and write.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?
1. Books or movies?
Books.  I do love movies, but if I had to pick, books would win hands down.

2. Summer or winter?
Winter.  I can deal with the cold better than heat.

3. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in.  My favourite place to spend my evenings is at home with a good book or movie, more often than not, it’s the book.

4. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telekinesis.  I’m not sure I want to explore the minds of most people.  However, having the ability to move objects with my mind would be super cool!

5. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Being able to travel to the past.  It would be great for research for historical elements in stories.

6. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Batman.  He’s cooler.

7. 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 animals.  I’ve often wished I could understand my pets better.  Plus, recent events lead me to believe animals would have more interesting and sensible things to say.

8. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Going without movies/TV shows.  Apart from anything else, my inbox would be scary if I couldn’t sort eMails for an entire week.  The thought of that alone makes me reluctant to give up the internet.

9. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Staying awake for 48 hours.  I’ve done it, and know I can.  OK, so most times I haven’t meant to do it, but that’s not the point.  Either way, there’s no way I could walk for 24 hours, where as I know I can stay awake for 48 hours, so it’s an easy choice.

10. 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.)
Finding myself in the middle of a snowstorm.  For one thing, I love snow.  OK, I might not love it so much after being stuck in a snowstorm, but whatever.  Anyway, for another thing, I can build a snow cave and wait out a snowstorm, where as there’s no telling what will happen to me in a hurricane.

11. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Since I can’t stand coffee, I’ll gladly agree to never have it again, especially if the alternative would be never having chocolate again.  Chocolate is an essential food group, you know!

12. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall?
If I was two inches tall, would I have wings like a fairy or pixie? Well, it doesn’t matter.  I mean, it would be cool if I did, but it’s OK if I wouldn’t.  I’d still rather be two inches tall than two stories tall, even if I don’t get wings.

13. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be [insert your favorite holiday here]?
Have every day be Saturday.  I love the holidays, but I think they’d lose their appeal if they happened every day.  Plus, most things aren’t open over here on the holidays, so if it’s the holidays every day, how am I supposed to get hold of chocolate? Better stick with it being Saturday every day, I think.

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

Author Interview: Louise Cornelius

gotr-kdp-coverFor librarian, Emily Carson, life is great. She has a good job, thriving career, good friends and family. After the death of her parents, she has finally managed to piece her life back together. Everything seems to be going well. Until, one night, she mistakenly meets them. A group of mysterious men holding a secret meeting. Who are they? And what are they planning? To make matters worse these men don’t seem ordinary to her. There is something very strange about them. Curious, she acquires the help of the weird but quirky genius, Ethan Cunningham. But, to her surprise, he has secrets of his own. Meanwhile, little does she know, she is treading down a dangerous path and she now has a target on her back. Her whole world gets turned upside down as she is taken through a series of events that leads her to shocking new discoveries.

Please help me welcome the author of The Guardians of the Relic, Louise Cornelius!

dsc_02341. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am from the city of Durban in South Africa. Our city is known for it’s beautiful beaches. There is no place better to be on a Saturday morning than the beach enjoying the sun. I haved lived here all my life. I studied at a local private college and have a degree in Accounting and Finance. In my spare time I love reading, writing, watching movies and listening to podcasts. I also love socialising and spending time with family and friends.

2. When did you start writing?
When I was younger, I used to borrow books from the school library. Generally, when I finished reading a book, I would consider the various possibilities of how the book could have ended. I think that’s where my interest in writing really started. My favourites back then were The Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene. I have started my career by writing a short story called The Final Act last year which is now available on Amazon. My new novel The Guardians of the Relic falls under the fantasy and paranormal category. I got the initial idea for the book from an old movie I watched a long time ago. I adapted the story from just one scene in the movie. The ideas for the rest of the story just came to me while writing.

3. Why did you start writing?
I initially started writing because I needed an outlet for my creativity. I had all these stories in my head and no idea what to do with them. As I began writing, I realised that I had finally found my true passion.

4. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
My favourite character in the Guardians is Ethan Cunningham. I loved his character mainly because he was so unique and fit into the storyline so well. I had fun developing his character.

5. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
My typical day of writing usually starts in the morning. I prefer to be locked  in a room all day, as I find it helps me work better. I don’t really set a word count but the minimum amount of words I write a day is usually around 800.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books – I am an avid reader so that’s a no brainer.

2. Summer or winter?
Summer – I love the beach so summer is definitely better than the cold.

3. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book – This is a tough one since I read both. But I would have to say a physical book because there is nothing better than owning a hard copy of your favourite novel.

4. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telepathy – After reading Stephen king’s novel Carrie, I don’t think I would like to have the power of telekinesis. Mind reading would be so much more fun.

5. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Past – I think it would be so fascinating to travel back in time, especially to the nineteen hundreds. The days when people used to have “The Great Gatsby” style parties. Of course, I also love the music.

6. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Batman for a day – Well his life is pretty great, he enjoys being Bruce Wayne the billionaire by day and a superhero by night.

7. Reading or writing?
Writing – This is a hard choice. I really love doing both but I would have to say writing. Writing my own story and getting to create the characters is definitely more fun.

8. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
I would rather go without television shows or movies for a week than without internet access. I mean, I panic when it goes down for an hour!

9. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
To never watch another movie. I definitely could not handle never reading a book again.

10. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
I would choose never eat a piece of chocolate. I don’t think I would be able to never drink another cup of cappuccino or coffee again.

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

Author Interview: Cindy Mezni

I am thrilled to announce that Cindy Mezni, author of the Red Era trilogy, is here! Her latest novel, Poisoned Iris, hit shelves just a few weeks ago; it’s the first installment in the aforementioned series.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at Cindy’s new book:

Athens was once the cradle of civilization. Now it’s slowly but surely becoming the tomb of humanity.
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The Red Plague, a violent virus which had run rampant decades ago, left its imprint on the planet and the flesh of men. All that remains of the modern world is an endless wasteland of ruins—Erebos—and two cities—Elysion, the obscure island of the Non-Infecteds about which no one knows a thing, and, Tartaros, the crumbling town of the Infecteds where despair, hatred, violence and poverty are the operative words.

And at the heart of this universe lives Irisya, a sixteen-year-old Non-Infected girl, staying recluse in her home to be safe and relying on her brother, Memphis, for everything.

But then, one day, he disappears without a trace.

Irisya has no choice. To save him, to survive, she will have to brave all the dangers of the outside world.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Cindy Mezni and I was born in Switzerland. I’m still living in the region I was born and I wouldn’t move for the world because I love my country and above all the place where I live. I’m a reading and writing addict—no kidding, it’s a real obsession, not a day goes by without me reading or writing some pages. I write in French and in English and publish my books in both languages.

2. When did you start writing?
I started writing during my high school years. It all started with fanfictions, then one day came the idea of my first book Shadow’s Dangers, a YA paranormal romance. After I found a publisher for my first book, I tried my hand at two other genres and wrote and published an adult dark fantasy titled Ex Tenebris and a YA dystopia titled Poisoned Iris.

3. Why did you start writing?
The storyline of a very popular book I was reading wasn’t going the way I wanted so, as soon as I finished it, I rewrote the story and posted it on a blog to share it with other fans of said book.

4. How did you arrive at your book’s title?
My latest release is titled “Poisoned Iris”. It’s some kind of wordplay because my heroine’s name is Irisya—after the iris flowers—but her nickname is Iris, her mother often comparing her to her favorite flowers. Due to terrible events that followed her birth, Irisya saw herself as a poisoned iris, hence the title.

5. Does your story have a moral?
The world in my latest release “Poisoned Iris” is a very bleak and violent one and I wanted the moral of my story to be that, even in the darkest of times, there’s still hope and good things can come out of terrible events.

6. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Poisoned Iris.
Caring, selfless, optimist, and determined.

7. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I’m usually comfortably sitting on my sofa with a lot of cushions all around, and my laptop and my keyboard in front of me. There’s also probably one or both of my dogs sleeping close to me.

  • Do you listen to music as you write?

If I’m writing, you can be sure I have my earbuds on and I’m listening to movies or TV shows soundtracks.

  • What is your preferred writing time? Morning? Afternoon? Late at night?

Late at night because everyone is asleep, everything I have to do is done and I have less chances of being disturbed by something or someone.

  • Do you prefer writing outside or indoors?

Always indoors. I can’t write outside, there’s too much distraction. Also I need to be comfortable to write.

  • Do you like to write in public places, or do you seek out isolation?

I need public places to “live” the scenes I’ll write but I need to be alone or at least undisturbed by the outside world when I write.

8. What is your favorite book genre?
I love all genres. I read a lot of romance books but I also love dystopian or post-apocalyptic books.

9. What is currently on your to-be-read shelf?
A lot of romance and dystopian books.

10. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
It can be the characters or it can be the world building—even if I dislike every character in the book, if the world the author has built is one that makes me want to visit it, I’ll consider that story a good story.

11. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write, write, write and write. Even if you feel like what you’re writing is really bad, keep writing. Practice makes better. Oh and don’t let a publisher/agent rejection or a bad review get to you. There will always be people who don’t like your story, just like there will always be people who like it. So keep doing what you love and write for yourself and the people who like what you do.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Do I really have to choose? Ugh, it’s so hard… Okay, books because it was my first passion.

2. Dogs or cats?
Dogs—sorry my adorable cat.

3. Summer or winter?
Summer means sun and swimming but winter means snow so winter it is.

4. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Not sure I wanna know what’s inside other people heads, even if talking with someone without anyone knowing we’re talking sounds kinda fun. But, well, telekinesis means not having to get up to get something to drink or to eat, or my phone when it’s ringing in the room next door so it wins lol.

5. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
I love Spider-Man and climbing walls and playing Tarzan in the streets sounds great (and seeing Captain America for real sounds even more great) but Batman got the TUMBLER and the possibility of seeing Catwoman. I mean THE TUMBLER and CATWOMAN. Of course I choose being Batman for a day!

6. Reading or writing?
I can’t choose. It’s like asking me if I prefer my first daughter or my second daughter. Okay, the comparison is a bit much… and I have no kids but I’m sure you get what I mean.

7. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Since we’ll probably have an app that does that for human languages in the near future, I’m choosing animal languages.

8. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Since I know what awaits me because I already did that—I know, that’s bad, don’t do that—I prefer staying awake for forty-eight hours.

9. Drinking a glass of expired, curdled milk or eating a bowl of cold, slimy worms?
No reflexion needed, I prefer the milk. I don’t care if I end up sick, there’s no way I’m eating worms—yeah, if there’s an apocalypse, I’m toast… which is very ironic for someone who loves writing or reading post-apocalyptic stories, I know.

10. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
Losing my ability to speak because I can’t imagine not hearing my loved ones, my dogs or my cat or music again.

11. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
To never watch another film. When I say I can’t live without reading/writing, I’m really not kidding.

12. 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?
The memory of “The Ring” movie is still very vivid in my mind so I prefer the coffin.

13. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
I don’t like coffee—shocking for a writer, I know—so the choice is easy. Farewell, my dear not-friend coffee.

14. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
Is that a real question? I’m asking because one of those propositions got Daryl, Rick and Michonne—and now Jesus—included so I assumed the answer would be evident 😉

15. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be Christmas?
Have every day be Saturday. I love Christmas and seeing all my loved ones and offering them gifts that make them happy but Saturdays mean no work, no chores and lazy mornings and afternoons so yeah, my choice is Saturday.

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