Author Interview: Peri June

34053143Even the people closest to you can be monsters.

Maggie Martin is plagued by nightmares.
This hasn’t always been the case. She used to be your typical 17-year-old, worrying about boyfriends and college applications.
Until, one night, when she wakes up to the sound of screaming and witnesses the unthinkable. Now she’s scrambling to put the pieces of her life back together, which is not as easy as everyone would like her to believe.
Especially when she’s struggling just to BREATHE.

With the help of new friends, and a new love, will she be able to put her life back to rights? Or will the past come knocking once more?

It is my pleasure to introduce you all to the author of My Life As I Knew It, Peri June!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Peri June. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. I am a nocturnal creature of the worst kind. Reading (and writing) is just so much better at night. I have a very selfish sweet tooth. If you put something made of chocolate in front of me, I will eat it, even if you tell me not to. Lol.

2. When did you start writing?
I have always scribbled down ideas whenever I had them, but I was never serious about it. I only decided to sit down and write a few years ago. I released my first book in January.

3. Why did you start writing?
It’s an amazing escape from everyday life.

4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
Yes. It was summer a couple of years ago. I had the idea for “My Life As I Knew It” and I didn’t want to forget it, so I started writing and, before I knew it, I had written the whole thing. The concept of the story as a whole didn’t change, only the details did. One character that was supposed to be only mentioned in passing became a solid supporting character and my personal favorite. That was a nice surprise.

5. How did you arrive at your book’s title?
The title of “My Life As I Knew It” came to me when I first thought of the idea for the book. It was the only title I considered.

6. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
Like I mentioned above, the character of “Kevin” wasn’t supposed to be an actual character, but I felt there was more to his story and I decided to explore it and then he became my favorite. The character that was the most fun to write has to be the main guy “Sam”. I simply love his sense of humor.

7. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in My Life As I Knew It.
Maggie: Smart, loyal, funny, anxious.

8. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I like to write exclusively at night, in my living room, after the whole world goes to sleep. I don’t really have a specific word count to get through. I write until the words stop coming and then continue another day.

9. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
Definitely for them. More often than not, I deviate from my original outline, but it’s still nice to have a clear picture of where you want to take the story.

10. Any projects in the works?
I’m currently working on a story set in college. It’s still in the early stages, but I’ve already deviated from the outline!

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

2. Dogs or cats?
Dogs.

3. Summer or winter?
Summer.

4. Cake or ice-cream?
Ice-cream.

5. Car or motorcycle?
Car.

6. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book.

7. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in.

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

9. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telekinesis.

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

11. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Making a phone call.

12. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Travelling by airplane.

13. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Staying in a hotel.

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

15. 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.

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

Author Interview: Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon

a-place-in-the-world-final-lo-resWhen her Colombian husband deserts her on his family’s coffee farm in a remote part of the Andes, Alicia struggles to make a life there for herself and her son even as guerrilla uprisings begin to threaten the area, and a nearby volcano rumbles to life. She forms a steadfast friendship with the barefoot housekeeper and a rugged geologist provides a love interest. This passionate story, about a young biologist and a multinational cast of characters, is like a South American “Out of Africa” in the final decades of 1900’s.

Sounds like an interesting read, doesn’t it? With us in the virtual studio is the author of the award-winning novel A Place in the World. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon! 😀

on-cover_1526ps-crp1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

  • Where you are from?

I grew up in Europe and South America. My dad was in the Air Force and then worked for different embassies; when I was 12 he retired in Costa Rica and I lived there the longest, so I used to say I was from Costa Rica. Americans didn’t believe me, maybe because I have light hair and eyes, but interestingly, Spanish speakers did!

  • Where do you currently reside?

I have lived in northern California for so long now I tell people I am from California.

  • Do you have any hobbies?

I photograph wildflowers and study French.

  • What do you do for a living?

I am a retired hydrogeologist. I volunteer now for a local creek group; we are trying to restore our downtown stream, which is partially encased in broken concrete. I majored in Geology and Biology which I sprinkle into my writing (a cloud forest features so prominently in A Place in the World that one reviewer called it a character.)

  • Give us a few fun facts about yourself.

I wanted to be a rainforest biologist and that didn’t work out, but the novel gave me a chance to research and write about rain forests.

For years I was a volunteer with Guide Dogs for the Blind, which involved (before they begin their formal training) teaching the puppies how to behave in public and getting them used to every situation they might encounter, including traffic, loud noises, elevators, restaurants etc. A couple of our “puppies” are still “working” for people who love them.

I have a fun Pinterest site, Readers, Where in the World are You?”  where I ask readers to submit a picture of themselves with my book or any book. I have photos sent by people as far away as Japan and England.  If interested in adding to my photo “collection” please let me know!

2. When did you start writing?
I think I’ve been a story-teller since I was a kid. I used to make up stories for my little brother – he was a wonderful audience and hence the first person to encourage me! I submitted my first short story when I was 12 or 13.  Another short story, published in “Bacopa Literary Review” with a collection of other authors a few years ago, won honorable mention with GlimmerTrain Press.

3. Why did you start writing?
There are a couple of answers here: a.) I just did; without thinking about it, almost as a compulsion. I always had a story in my head that wanted to get out; b.)The other answer is a common one with writers whether we know it when we start or not: it is a way to process information, understand our own lives and share experiences and bits of knowledge we find interesting.

4. How did you arrive at your book’s title, A Place in the World?
wfall-hana-rd_840psI came up with it fairly early as the setting, a coffee finca (farm) surrounded by cloud forest, became a key element.  It is a double entendre because the story is about a young woman finding her “place in the world.”

Briefly, I thought I might call it A Woman without a Country, because the protagonist is seen as a foreigner wherever she lives and feels like a foreigner in her parents’ home country because she has never lived there.  I ended up using that for a chapter heading instead.

5. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
Carmen is the barefoot woman who has worked for this Colombian family since she was a teenager. She is ever cheerful despite a tough life. Carmen befriends Alicia (the protagonist) who is a young mother without any relatives and living in an isolated place.  All of the other characters are fictional, but Carmen is based on our housekeeper who was so kind to me when I was a teenager.  This is my tribute to her.

6. Let’s talk about what a typical writing session looks like for you.

  • Do you listen to music as you write?

Sometimes I’ll listen to something like Mozart (studies show his music stirs creativity).

  • What is your preferred writing time?

I sit down after breakfast and write most of the morning and sometimes after lunch, but I tend to be brain dead as the afternoon progresses. If the house happens to be quiet I’ll write for an hour before dinner, but most often I start again after 9pm. I get a lot done on planes and on vacation.

7. How do you feel about outlines?
I start out just writing scenes as they come to me and at some point piece them together through an outline to organize the plot.  This is what works for me.  I think an outline helps at some point structure a novel and allows you, for example to go back and foreshadow, but starting out that way would give me writer’s block!

8. What is your favorite book genre?
I love historical and multicultural fiction.

9. What is your favorite book?
I have more than one, but my favorite author is John Steinbeck. I love East of Eden, Mice and Men  and especially… Cannery Row – one of my all-time favorites because the characters and setting (Monterey, California) are magnificent! At the time I discovered it I was living in Latin America never dreaming someday I would live in California.  Many years later I worked in Steinbeck’s Salinas Valley and had the feeling I’d “come home.”

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

2. Dogs or cats?
Both! (Uh-oh I may not be good at this!)

3. Summer or winter?
Spring ( ok if I must pick I guess summer)

4. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book.

5. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in

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

7. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telepathy

8. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Text!

9. Working in a group or working alone?
Usually concentrate better alone

10. To find true love or to win the lottery?
Love.

11. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
Rap sounds more fun!

12. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Hard one, but I vote for animals!

13. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
Expressway

14. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
The former (you have to stay awake to walk anyway!)

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.)
Curdled milk

Thank you for joining us, Cinda!
Readers: want to connect with Cinda? You can find her on Goodreads and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her author website/blog. Interested in purchasing a copy of A Place in the World? Click here for a physical copy. Click here for the e-book.

Author Interview: Lorna Walker

Looking for a new series to dive into? Are you a fan of epic fantasy? If you answered ‘yes’ to the preceding two questions, I encourage you to stick around. Even if you answered ‘no,’ don’t go away. It’s always nice to learn about new up-and-coming authors, isn’t it? Glad you think so!

Visiting Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar today is Lorna Walker, author of the Penwel trilogy. Aldis (book one) was released in 2014, and Kadmos (book two) was published last month. We’ll be discussing the latter title with Lorna Walker, but before we do, let’s take a look at the blurbs of the aforementioned books:

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Jocelyne’s happy, but dull, life is completely shattered in one sunny afternoon. Fleeing from unknown pursuers, she finds herself in another world and discovers a family she never knew existed, including a twin brother with whom she shares an unusual connection. Before Jocelyne can settle into her new surroundings, where she is suddenly an important figure and magic is an accepted part of life, an old enemy resurfaces and the teenage girl must rely on a young bodyguard she hardly knows in order to save herself and her new found family.

 


34039153The Aldis’ might have destroyed Kolbyr in the battle to save their people, and the rest of Penwel, from the Fire Demon, but they have not defeated all their enemies.

Kiarr has survived, and finds someone in the wreckage of that fire that he can use to bring about the rise of Kadmos, and his master.

 

 


1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m from the UK, currently living in Essex. Besides writing, I enjoy playing computer games, mainly mmos and rpgs. I also love gardening. Before we moved into our current home we had no garden, so I carried out, what I called, vicarious gardening (descending on my parent’s and sister’s garden so I can get my fix). Now we’ve moved I have my own garden, and am thoroughly enjoying turning into my little haven.

2. When did you start writing?
I had always spent a lot of my spare time, as a teenager, day-dreaming. If I was walking to school, to the town centre, etc. then I would be day-dreaming, making up stories. When I listened to music I would day-dream ideas and stories that would fit the music, either the lyrics or the atmosphere the tune created. When I was sixteen, our English teacher spent several lessons getting us to write stories, covering different themes and styles. One weekend, I took an idea that I’d been mulling over and wrote it down. I nervously showed my teacher, who took it home and read it. When she gave it back to me (there were red pen marks on it, of course) she said she really enjoyed it, and that I should keep writing. I was thrilled, but also slightly annoyed because I had concluded that it was rubbish, and that I could do a lot better. I threw it away and re-wrote it. This was the beginning of Aldis, though I didn’t realise it at the time.

3. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for Kadmos, book two in the Penwil trilogy?
There were two major moments. The first was when I started writing Aldis, which was re-written many times because, at the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing, or where the story was going (the joy of being a teenager).

The second came when, years later, I picked up Aldis again, (Other things had taken priority in my life, so the story had fallen by the wayside.) threw a large chunk of it away, and came up with an actual, proper, story. Out of that idea came the major story arc, and the realisation that I was facing a trilogy rather than a single book.

I remember that day well, because it’s not often that you get a grown woman, in her late twenties, bouncing with excitement (I was literally jumping) along the pavement to meet her husband. This was the moment when the concept of Kadmos was born.

4. Does Kadmos have a moral?
There isn’t so much a moral for the story, but there is a major theme which runs throughout the story arc. ‘Control’, whether on a small or large scale, and how individuals and cultures deal with it, and its effects.

5. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
I’ve got to admit to having a soft spot for Anselm. There is so much in him which appeals to me as a human. He’s not perfect, but he does try.

6. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Kadmos.
Principled, strong, afraid, lonely, vulnerable.

7. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I normally write in the evenings. I’ll be sat on the sofa, in the frontroom, with the TV running on in the background, and a cat trying to fight his way onto my lap and the keyboard. (By the way, the cat is trying to do that right now). I try to aim for a chapter a week though, if it’s a large chapter, or if the story is being particularly awkward, I’ll allow for two weeks.

8. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I am very much for outlines, and planning. Kadmos was so much easier to write because I had key targets that I wanted to hit in each chapter. With Aldis I winged it a lot at the beginning (whilst I learnt about writing), which ultimately resulted in me re-writing the book from scratch. I will admit that, even with outlines, there is still a chance that you will find yourself somewhere that you didn’t expect. The trick is to see how you can take advantage of the situation.

9. What is your favorite book?
I don’t think I have a favourite book, though there are some that I return to, time and again. I have sobbed repeatedly over Vanyal in Mercedes Lackey’s ‘Magic’s Pawn’. That one has to be read with a tissue box by my side. But my favourite author is Terry Pratchett. I always enjoy any of his books with Vimes in them…or Moist…or the witches. I just love his writing style. I love how he adapts it, the words he uses, to fit a character.

10. Any project in the works?
I working on the final book to the Trilogy, Meredene.

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

2. Summer or winter?
Summer

3. Cake or ice-cream?
Cake

4. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in

5. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telekinesis

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

7. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Phone call

8. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Hotel

9. Working in a group or working alone?
Alone

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

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

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

13. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
Losing ability to speak.

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?
Half a day in the coffin.

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

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

Author Interview: Groovy Lee

34097626Sixteen year-old Mira is an Egyptian girl who lives a quiet life in her small village in Lower Egypt 3303 B.C.E. But two visitors from the planet Aut are about to change that. The first “flying metal” that whips across the sky carries a murderous plague by the name of Demen. The second one that follows, brings a bounty-hunter named Weir. Against her father’s wishes, Mira becomes Weir’s accomplice in his mission to apprehend Demen before another woman dies by his hands.

But there’s a problem: Demen is now a powerful Pharaoh in the city of Sharkura. Will apprehending him cost Weir and Mira their lives?

Almay, California, USA, twenty-first century:
Tina Leggs oversees the artifacts and exhibits of the Graham-Arlee museum. She has no idea that the mummy exhibit that’s drawing huge crowds, is the same Demen that her ancestor, Mira, bravely faced centuries ago.

Demen is no longer a powerful Pharaoh. Now, he’s nothing more than a museum exhibit since he was discovered in the Valley of the Kings. But a rare occurrence will give him life once more. And his desire to kill the misery known as woman is as strong as ever.

Enter Q, a second bounty-hunter sent from Aut to capture him. Like Mira, Tina has been cast into the role of ally to this handsome visitor. Amid the destruction Demen is causing, and the risk to their lives to stop him, they realize their deep love for one another.

But, will she leave her family on Earth for the sake of that love?

Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the author of A Body Resurrected, Groovy Lee!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in Nashville, TN in the deep south where the number four has two syllables. I somehow did not acquire that distinct Southern accent, but I am accustomed to expressions of “Yall”, “Ain’t”, and when I’m really mad–“Ain’t gonna!”.

I’m addicted to bottled tea and cooking shows; I also crochet and collect crystal. My best friend and Queen is my daughter who gets daily foot massages from me.

My most favorite time of the year is tennis season. When the French Open, Wimbledon, and The US Open are airing, you can look for me, but you won’t find me. Unless you know where my 53″ television set is.

2. When did you start writing?
I was an avid reader as a child, and that sparked a vivid imagination. I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil in my hand. But what got me writing seriously was the old Harlequin Classic love novels. I became hooked the moment I began reading the works of Janet Dailey and Violet Winspear. And I wanted to write love stories that made others feel as good as theirs did.

3. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for A Body Resurrected?
For my new release, A Body Resurrected, it was the moment my daughter suggested I write a book after my favorite genre of movies, those with monsters in them. One day, we were watching one such movie and she said, “So, why don’t you write one?” The storyline and characters began forming right then.

4. How did you arrive at your new release’s title? 
A Body Resurrected is about an evil serial killer in early Egypt who met his end wrapped as a mummy. But then a rare occurrence happens and in our present day, he’s given life again, which explains the title. There were other titles, but I’m too embarrassed to mention them.

5. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in A Body Resurrected.
Mira and Tina are strong, courageous, loyal, smart women.

6. What does a typical writing session look like for you? 
When I’m at the beginning stages, I write upstairs in my bed while Perry Mason is on the television. When I start the editing process, I’m downstairs at the computer when no one’s home, and the house is quiet.

7. What is your favorite book?
Believe it or not, my favorite book is any written by Dr. Seuss. I think he was such a brilliant, one-of-a-kind, children’s author. His books held serious moral lessons, and he was able to tell them while making reading a fun thing to do.

8. Any project in the works? 
I’ve just released my latest, but I plan to release a Romantic/Suspense in the fall (no title yet). It’s about a precious heirloom that gives the holder power to rule a family dynasty. Family members are killing one another to obtain this precious jewel. The protagonist has no idea it’s in her possession.

9. How long does it usually take you to write a book? 
From six months to a year.

10. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’? 
A story that can keep me glued to the pages, touch all of my emotions, have twists and turns I didn’t see coming, and last but not least, have a romantic interest. All this without being gory, graphic, and assaulted by the “F” bomb.

11. What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 
Learn your craft. Often times, what’s in our heads doesn’t come out the same when you write it on paper. We must learn how to master this by reading, and or, taking classes. Write what’s in your heart; not what you think your readers want. Not everyone is going to like what you write, and that’s okay. Be happy about those that can’t wait for your next book to come out. And HAVE FUN!

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

2. Summer or winter? 
Summer, please.

3. Nights in or nights out? 
Nights in. It’s a dangerous world out there.

4. Living in the city or living in the country?
Living in the country. Give me space!

5. To find true love or to win the lottery? 
True love. As that old saying from the movie, Mahogany, goes, “Success is nothing without someone to share it with.”

6. To never speak again or to never eat solid food again?
To never speak again. I love food too much. We’re having an affair.

7. Drinking a glass of expired, curdled milk or eating a bowl of cold, slimy worms?
I grew up in the country. So, it’s a glass of expired, curdled milk known as buttermilk. And we used to crumble corn bread inside out glasses and have a good, country meal.

8. 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.)
In the middle of a hurricane, it’s kind of exciting. I hate winter.

9. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Although I’m this close to being a chocoholic, I need my coffee.

10. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall? 
I’m already two stories tall, so I’ll just stay that way, thank-you.

11. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
Hands down, The Walking Dead. I can’t get enough of it. Put me in, please.

12. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be Friday? 
Have every day be Friday. It’s usually rest-and-do-what-you-want-day.

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

Author Interview: M.K. Williams

Lovers of story collections, gather round! In the virtual studio is M.K. Williams, author of The Games You Cannot Win — a work composed of, you guessed it, short stories. 😀 Before we sit down with M.K. to discuss her writing, let us quickly familiarize ourselves with The Games You Cannot Win and the tales contained therein.

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Roll the dice, pick a card, tell a lie, hide the truth. Whatever the move, it’s all just part of the game. Follow the lives of four very different characters who are all trapped in an insidious game. Each story delves into the intricate web of misaligned motives and obscured half-truths.

In This Business
A career hangs in the balance between a wicked deal with a publishing company and a daughter’s loyalty to her mother. As she works furiously to meet her deadline, she debates the impending betrayal: her ambition, or her beloved mother.

The Joker
In the middle of his quarter-life crisis, Randolf, a young reporter, stumbles upon a political scandal so dark and treacherous that it threatens the very fabric of our democracy. Will he reveal the truth before it is too late, or will the innate powers of human nature ruin his story before it is even printed?

Dolly
Katherine Hertzfeld-Doll has just begun her term as a Supreme Court Justice. Before she can even get her bearings she is thrown into a scandal that threatens to compromise her life’s work and end her career. Will she cave under the pressure or will she use her political power to hide the truth?

Escaping Avila Chase
Agent Trevor Hobbertson is about to crack the most important case of his career with the FBI. As he pursues the criminal he is also taunted by vivid memories of his ex-girlfriend. Is that nagging feeling that he is being taunted founded, or is there an evil mastermind lurking behind the scenes and planning his demise?

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am originally from Philadelphia but, I currently live in Tampa, FL. I have used both cities as locations in my work. In my latest book, The Games You Cannot Win, the last of the short stories is set in Philadelphia. It was wonderful to explore the city again through the eyes of my characters.

2. How different is The Games You Cannot Win from your original vision? That is, did the structure and content of the novel change with the passage of time?
Each of the short stories in The Games You Cannot Win has a very different origin story. In This Business and Dolly were both stories I’d written years ago, and I revisited them last year when I wanted to put the collection together. I ended-up re-writing both to some extent. In This Business was modified and updated. Dolly was completely re-written twice. I have lots of extra bits to the story between the main characters that just didn’t make it into the final cut.

Dolly was initially inspired by that slow burning anger that I often feel as a woman based on how men regard me and other women. What sparked it was when an old friend, or someone I thought was a friend, tried to manipulate me. I felt this very subtle anger about the fact that this person, who was supposed to be my friend, seemed to have no regard for the outcome of their actions. If felt like they just wanted to play some kind of game. From that experience the first version of Dolly was drafted. After several years and experiencing other incidents when I felt that I was being undermined, I realized that the people trying to hurt me would only affect me as much I allowed them to. That made me feel powerful. I had the power to ignore them and keep them out of my life. That was the feeling I was trying to channel in Dolly.

The original concept for Dolly was very one-sided and came from a place of anger. The final product is more nuanced and I think it is much better for that.

3. How did you arrive at your book’s title?
When I was trying to figure out which of the short stories I had written to put in a collection I wanted to find some common thread to tie them together, rather than just putting them all in one book and calling it a day. I selected the four stories that made it into the collection because each one detailed some kind of game that the main character was caught in, real or perceived.

I was initially planning to call it “Modern Games” because none of these stories deals with what people traditionally think of as a game- cards, board games, etc. They all deal with mind-games that people play on each other or with themselves. But I had a small concern that I may run into some issues with the Olympics being considered the Modern Olympic Games. That’s why I decided to drop that as the title and went with The Games You Cannot Win.

4. Do the stories in The Games You Cannot Win have a moral?
Absolutely. Even though these stories are short, I took a lot of care to put a message into each one that was subtle enough to not be obnoxious, but present enough to not be missed.

For the first story, In This Business, I wanted the reader to come away with the sense that they didn’t have to live their lives, or measure their lives, by another person’s definition of success.

For Escaping Avila Chase, I wanted to start to tackle this very complex and massive topic of domestic violence and violence against women. It’s a huge topic and would be difficult to try to capture in one novel, let alone a whole series. So, I took one small notion of the topic and decided to flip it on its head: could a man who hit a woman ever forgive himself, even when society was ready with excuses for him? Could a woman really leave at the first sign of violence and never look back? These are two very charged questions and a small, small portion of the larger discussion, but I wanted to start to tackle it in this story. I think anyone who reads it should feel conflicted and it should make them think a bit more critically about this global issue.

5. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
A typical writing session for me is about an hour at a maximum. Any longer than that and I get distracted or I just trudge through without much creativity. I do prefer to listen to music as I write, I usually create a playlist for each story or novel that I work on so that I can get into the right mindset. I’ve made those playlists available on Spotify for fans to listen to as well.

I could write at just about any time, but I usually have to take the time when I can find it. I keep a journal with me so I can write down ideas when I have them.

6. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I always use an outline! I would just ramble on forever if I didn’t have a clear idea of where I was going. I don’t usually build out an outline until I know how I want to story to unfold.

7. Any project in the works?
Yes, I am working on another full-length novel. This will be another thriller and I am about halfway done the writing process, then comes editing. I seem to be in the pattern of publishing one book a year so I’d like to keep that trend going.

8. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Even though I have published one book a year for the past two years, I had been working on those projects for about 3 years. Because I have multiple stories that I work on at a time I can start something when I am excited about it and put it away when I lose that vigor. Once I really decide to make a story my main focus however, it takes about a year from starting the outline to final publication with all of the writing, editing, formatting, editing, revising, editing, etc.

9. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep at it! It may seem like there are so many authors in the world today, and there are, but for each of those published authors (indie or otherwise) there are 4-5 more who talk a big game and have never written a word. Keep writing, keep working at it!

And now for a game of “Which (Do/Would) You Prefer?”
1. Dogs or cats?
Dogs! (Sorry cats, I’m allergic to you L )

2. Summer or winter?
Summer (that’s why I moved to Florida)

3. Cake or ice-cream?
Ice-cream

4. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in

5. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Text!

6. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Car

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’d lose the money. I can always make that back.

8. To find true love or to win the lottery?
Both I guess, finding my true love felt like winning the lottery.

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

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

11. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
No internet

12. To never speak again or to never eat solid food again?
Not speaking, I love food too much to choose the other option.

13. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
That’s easy, I don’t like coffee at all. I could easily give that one up forever!

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

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.