Monday’s Friend: Susan A Royal

We’ve got something a bit different on the blog today. This week’s guest is not an author, but a character. Xander is the protagonist of Susan A Royal’s new novel XANDER’s TANGLED WEB, and I am interviewing him today. Susan and I are doing a blog swap and she’s interviewing Shara Summers on her blog today, so hop on over to there once you’re finished here!

SJT: Tell us a bit about yourself, Xander. Where do you come from?

xanders tangled web-Small (2)X: My wife, Suse, and I are both descended from a race of little people called Mipins. While she’s a pretty little thing, I’m not much to look at, that’s for sure. Honestly, I don’t know what she sees in me. I tend to squint a lot when I’m pondering over things. She says it makes me look like there’s a woolly caterpillar crossing my forehead.

I’ve lived in Battington my whole life. It’s located in Seren Valley in the Kingdom of Regal, cradled on three sides by the Heliotrope Mountains and to the south by the Azure Sea. The picturesque township boasts fine buildings of red or blue brick and streets paved with smooth stones, bordered on either side with willow trees.

However, it’s best known for its marketplace. People came from far and wide to shop for the merchandise offered. Sellers of exotic spices and exquisite cloth do business next to apothecaries and goldsmiths. Food courts offer tasty delights like funnel cakes or hot sausage on a stick while actors’ troupes entertain with impromptu performances.

SJT: What do you do for a living?

X: For the past year I’ve been trying my hand at farming. Without much success I might add. Before that I was constable for the township of Battington, a job I dearly loved. That is until Cymon, the mayor, and I had some differences which led to a parting of the ways. That’s how I got into farming…and found out it wasn’t for me.

A few days ago I rod into town for supplies, and along came Cymon with an offer I couldn’t refuse. It’s only temporary, but he wants me to investigate Princess Mena’s disappearance. At double my former wages. With any luck I should be able to locate her, collect my wages along with the reward, and be home before harvest. Easy peasy…

SJT: What’s your favourite food and drink?

X: I’m fond of ale, particularly the ale at Ardley’s tavern. And it’s a good thing, because the food he offers is enough to turn even the strongest man’s stomach. Then again I’m biased. When it comes to cooking, no one can hold a candle to my Suse. She could boil shoe leather and it would taste like roast. A good thing too. She hasn’t had much to work with lately.

SJT: I gather you are currently seeking a member of royalty.

X: As I said, I’ve been hired to investigate Princess Mena’s disappearance. She vanished without a trace from the Marketplace a few nights ago. The whole town is in an uproar. King Leander has called for an early curfew and there is talk about postponing the Spring Festival.

SJT: Battington’s marketplace seems an unlikely place for a princess to be hanging about. What was she doing there?

X: My thoughts exactly.  According to everyone I’ve spoken to, she went to see Mercury, the apothecary. Not just for some ordinary, run of the mill spell, either. She wanted a love potion. That complicates things.

SJT: Do you think the gypsies have anything to do with her disappearance?

X: When Emil’s bunch is in the vicinity, they tend to get the blame for any sign of trouble. While they’re no doubt responsible for things like freshly baked pies vanishing from the windowsill, a missing chicken or clothing off the line, they’re generally harmless. They are a secretive bunch, though.

SJT: When you’re not out investigating, what do you like to do to relax?

X: I’ve always loved making rounds, seeing Battington’s streets are safe and secure for its inhabitants. Especially on a crisp night with the moon shining down out of a clear sky, its light bright enough to cast shadows. While the town is sleeping, I can relax and unwind.

SJT: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Xander. Now I’d better let you get back to your investigations.

Blurb for XANDER’S TANGLED WEB

When Princess Mena vanishes without a trace, Xander must deal with gypsies, love potions and half-truths before unraveling the mystery.

After a late night visit to Battington’s marketplace, Princess Mena vanishes without a trace. Merchants are frantic, because King Leander has called for a curfew and postponed the Spring Festival until further notice. Certain his former constable is the man for the job, the mayor hires Xander to investigate, hoping he can solve the mystery in a hurry so things can go back to normal.

But Xander’s not so sure that’s possible, because there’s romance involved, and he knows when that happens folks who are normally very sensible seem to lose all reason. In addition to sorting out truths, half-truths and outright lies, he must deal with gypsies, love potions and an illegal moonshine operation before he gets to the bottom of things.

Author bio:

Bio photo (2)Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan shares a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town with a ghost who likes to harmonize with her son when he plays guitar.

Mother to three children and their spouses, she has five grandchildren who are all unique and very special. Her family is rich with characters, both past and present. Her grandmother shared stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century.  She learned about growing up during the depression from her father and experienced being a teenager in WWII through her mother’s eyes.

Susan loves taking her readers through all kinds of exciting adventures. So far, she’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and From Now On. They are time travel adventures about two people who fall in love despite the fact they come from very different worlds. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy adventure/romance. Xander’s Tangled Web is a YA fantasy with romance. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N.

Want to know more? Visit susanaroyal.wordpress.com or susanaroyal.moonfruit.com for a peek inside this writer’s mind and see what she’s up to. You never know what new world she’s going to visit next.

Learn more about Susan’s books here:

Xander’s Tangled Web (fantasy, mystery)
In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)

Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)
Not Long Ago book trailer

All books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads.

 

Monthly Round-up: March 2016

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

I’m a week late posting the round-up for March. But life keeps getting away from me, and I was also in the midst of confirming some news I wanted to report on.

COMING SOON

Edits for SUFFER THE CHILDREN are more or less done, and we’re on track for a late spring release. I’m hoping to be able to confirm a release date soon. I’m expecting late May.

And now on to the Big News. I’ve just signed the contract for the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, and am pleased to be able to say that this novel has moved from the WIP section to ‘coming soon’. Although ‘coming soon’ is a bit of a relative term. Publication is estimated at Summer/Autumn 2017. So about 18 months away. I am looking forward to working with my editor at MuseItUp on this one. I have a feeling there’ll be lots of edits on this one, but between the two of us I am confident we can get it into shape.

PUBLICITY

I appeared on Eric Price‘s blog on 7 March as part of a blog swap sharing writing tips. I was talking about what I learned during the process of writing my first published novel.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I am now working in earnest on the new horror novel, which still doesn’t have a title. I’m referring to it as the ‘urban explorers novel’ because this is who it features as main characters.

There’s plenty to keep me busy here for a while. Catch you at the end of April!

Monday’s Friend: Barbara Ehrentreu

Today I’m pleased to welcome fellow Muser Barbara Ehrentreu to the blog, who’s going to offer us a view of writing from the pantser’s perspective.

Why I am a “Pantser”
By Barbara Ehretreu

People like James Patterson tell us that novels can be written according to a set outline and he makes a lot of money doing this kind of thing. Many people use outlines for their writing and for them it works. For me an outline is like a straight jacket. I only know the first sentence of my novel and then I write from there.

Barbara at Fairfield Bookstore signing headshotTo some people that would be a frightening experience. Imagine getting to the page and having no idea of what you are going to write. Well, I don’t quite have a blank mind about it. Before I have decided to write my novel I have an idea of my characters and I have developed them to the point where I pretty much know them. Of course as I am writing I get to know my characters better and better. Also from my characters I can pretty much get the plot of my novel.

So I sit down and write the first sentence and develop my characters and then write. Every time I sit down to write I never know what is going to happen. That is unless it is a complicated scene. I have had to stop and plot these scenes out so I won’t make a mistake. However, that is rare and usually I have the book at least halfway done before that happens.

I don’t know the ending to any of the books I write. For some this would put them in an anxious state the whole time they are writing. I know writers who write the ending before the book starts. For me the ending will come naturally and I’ll know it when it occurs. How do I know it? I just stop writing. The scene ends and I realize that is the ending. I do get a little nervous as the ending is getting closer. I can sense it and I want it to end, but I need to have accomplished all I wanted before the end. The characters need to have found some way to deal with plot complications and the ending needs to solve most of the major problems for them. For both of my published novels I cried for one and I was deliriously happy for the other.

AFTER333X555 (2)I’m not saying all writers should try this method, but if you are feeling like you are not writing in a fluid way and you want to have more freedom you might try it. It’s not for the faint of heart and you might need a lifejacket of an outline nearby for your first time. But if you are writing the second book in a series as I did, your characters know you so well they talk to you. Or rather, you know your characters so well it is like having a conversation with them. They whisper in your ear and oh, yeah, they add characters you had never thought would be there.

To sum it all up, writing as a pantser is something that you should do if you don’t care what your ending is going to be and you have a good set of characters developed. The characters will move your plot and you will find you will write more and be happier with what you write. But as I said it is not for those who are worried without an outline. To all the pantsers who are reading this, there are more of us than you think.
Blurb for AFTER:

After is a story about the struggles Lauren Walstein, a fifteen-year-old girl, has to go through when her father suddenly has a heart attack and undergoes bypass surgery. In one phone call her life changes completely. Lauren is a character with whom most teens will relate. Her best friend since kindergarten, Joey, is going out with her enemy and they have grown apart. Before the phone call all she thought about was getting a scholarship for softball, and the Mets. Suddenly she must deal with both her father’s illness and being in school. The demands on her from both ends complicate the story. In the middle of all this, she finds she is developing feelings for her best friend that are more than friendly. Is he feeling the same or is he just comforting her? In addition there is Joey’s mean girl friend Amber, who doesn’t appreciate Lauren being in the picture. Will Lauren’s father recover? How will Lauren cope with her new feelings for Joey?

ICBLJT Cover (2)Blurb for IF I COULD BE LIKE JENNIFER TAYLOR:

Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain. With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky junior quarterback, Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. When Jennifer is the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to spend the night to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?

Author Bio:

Barbara Ehrentreu grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Queens. She has lived and taught in Long Island, Buffalo, NY and Westchester, NY as well as a year in Los Angeles, CA. She has a Masters Degree in Reading and Writing K-12. Currently she is retired from teaching and living in Stamford, CT with her family. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor won second prize in Preditors & Editors as Best Young Adult Book for 2011. It was inspired by Paula Danziger for her children’s writing workshop at Manhattanville College. Her second book, After, considers what can happen to a teen when her father becomes ill with a heart attack. It is based on her own experiences when her husband had a heart attack and the aftermath of what she and her family experienced. She is preparing the sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. Barbara also writes poetry and several of her poems are published in the anthologies, World Poetry Open Mic, Prompted: An International Collection of Poetry, Beyond the Dark Room, Storm Cycle and Backlit Barbell. She has a blog, Barbara’s Meanderings, and she hosts a radio show on Blog Talk Radio, Red River Radio Tales from the Pages, once a month. She is a member of PEN Letters and SCBWI.

Links:

After:
MuseItUp Publishing
Amazon
For Nook on Barnes and Noble
If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor: (print and ebook)
MuseItUp Publishing
Amazon
For Nook on Barnes and Noble

Blog: Barbara’s Meanderings
Facebook Author Page
Twitter
Goodreads

Monday’s Friend: Eric Price

Today I’m delighted to be doing a blog swap with fellow MuseItUp author Eric Price. When you’ve finished reading his post here, hop on over to his blog, where I’m talking about the learning curve I experienced with my first published novel.

Welcome, Eric!

WELL, I WON’T DO THAT AGAIN
By Eric Price

When I set out to write my first novel, all I had written were some short stories, a couple newspaper articles, a few lesson plans, and some failed attempts at poetry. I wanted to try my hand at something longer, so I wrote a stand alone novel with the potential for developing it into a series. After several revisions, and a few rejection letters, I did a major rewrite and introduced a secondary character I intended to write as a main character in a future book.

Well, MuseItUp Publishing gave me a contract for the first one, which eventually became UNVEILING THE WIZARDS’ SHROUD. My intent was to take some time off from the world of Wittatun and develop some of the other story ideas first, but my new character, Yara, kept calling to me, and I had no choice but to proceed with her book. After taking much longer than anticipated, it finally became THE SQUIRE AND THE SLAVE MASTER, also with MuseItUp Publishing. Now, as I struggle with the third and (I’m almost positive) final volume of The Saga of the Wizards, A Wizard Reborn, I think I know what I’ve done wrong, and hopefully I’ve learned my lesson.

Unveiling Paperback Cover (2)Anyone who hasn’t written a book would probably think after writing a first draft, revising it countless times, rewriting it, working through it three times with the content editor, another two times with the line editor, and reading over it one last time for formatting before it finally gets published, that the author would have every word of the book memorized. I can’t say I know how it works for other authors, but for me…no, there are so many details about my own book I don’t know. I constantly had to refer to Unveiling while writing Squire, and now I’m find myself checking back with both of them while I write A Wizard Reborn. What did we last see this character doing? How did this character die? What is this character’s brother’s name?

Even if I had one of those photographic memories, a second issue that frequents my pages is some minor detail in the earlier book(s) that really throws the proverbial monkey wrench in the works of my current work in progress. I’m constantly saying, “Why’d I do this?” or “Why didn’t I do that?” If this were a major movie franchise, I suppose I could ignore what happened in the previous volumes and move on with the story I want to write. (*Ahem* Yes, X-Men, you’re one of the franchises I’m talking about.) But since they’re books, I feel the need to make them as accurate as possible. A little planning could have saved me a lot of headaches and time.

The Squire and the Slave Master 333x500 (2)Speaking of time, this brings me to my final issue. I never seem to have enough time. In my ideal world, I would have had each book of the series release about a year apart. Two years separated books one and two. Time will tell how long it take book three to see the light of eReaders.

 I have nothing against series or series writing. I may do it again some day, but first I want to take a break and try writing some outstanding stand alone titles. What I won’t do is write a series one book at a time. If I do take the plunge, I’m writing the bare minimum of a first draft for each book of the series before the first one starts finding its way into publisher’s inboxes. But that’s me. How many series writers are out there? How do you like to organize your work and meet your writing goals?
 

About the Author:

Eric PriceEric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel. His second novel, The Squire and the Slave Master, continues the Saga of the Wizards. He is a member of SCBWI. Find him online at authorericprice.com.

Friday Fears: Two-sentence Horror #10

It’s Friday! And time to bring back the ‘Friday Fears’ feature, which involves horror stories of only two sentences.

So here are a couple of new ones from me:

 

Many people complimented me on my costume, and commented on how realistic the bloody knife looked. By the time they realised I wasn’t wearing a costume, it was too late.

 

When I woke up and could not see, my initial thought was that I had gone blind. I reached up to feel my face and that’s when I discovered that it wasn’t there – my body ended in a sticky mess where my neck had been.

 

As always, if you want to play, send me your two-sentence horror story and I’ll feature it next time.

Happy Friday, and don’t have nightmares!

Monthly Round-Up: February 2016

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

February is nearly over, and it has one extra day than usual this year, with it being a leap year and all. The days are gradually getting longer and it’s now still light when I leave the office at the end of the day. It’s still dark by the time I get home, mind, but you can’t have everything.

On with the news.

COMING SOON

No more news on a fixed release date for SUFFER THE CHILDREN, but it is meant to be coming out in Spring. Which means some time in the next three months. I’m expecting it to be around mid-May.

PUBLICITY

I’ve had two guest appearances this month. The first was on Amy McCorkle’s blog ‘Letters to Daniel‘. The brief was to write a letter to a hero who has changed your life in some way. So I wrote to Stephen King, who turned me on to writing horror.

I then had a guest post on Lay Lalone’s blog about why you shouldn’t listen to your English teacher.

WORK IN PROGRESS

SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the new Shara Summers book, is nearly finished! I know I’ve said that a few times, but this time I am confident I’m on the final draft. Now I just want to get the damn thing finished and submitted, so I can get back to writing the new horror novel, which has been languishing in a ‘barely started’ first draft stage for ages.

I’v got a busy month coming up in March, including my first convention of the 2016 season, the Sci Fi Weekender in Wales. Join me next month for the low down on how it went!

Monday’s Friend: Fiona Dodwell

Today I’m pleased to welcome another woman of horror to the blog – British horror writer Fiona Dodwell.

SJT: Some writers discover their calling at a very young age. Others arrive at it a bit later in life. How did it come to you?

Fiona DodwellFD: This is a tough one to answer, because in all honesty, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. I seem to have been born with a passion for writing, and there doesn’t seem to be a particular moment that sparked this, at least that I recall. It seems to be in my blood! One of my earliest memories is of writing short stories and poems, and of declaring to my teacher in primary school that “when I grow up, I want to write books.”

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

FD: Not to over-think things. I believe it’s far too easy to put up your own road-blocks, to keep thinking of the struggles, obstacles and difficulties in writing. The reasons can be many: I don’t have much time. I find this story hard to write. What if no one likes it? Am I good enough? You can carry these issues around and let it stop you, or you can ignore the doubts and simply try. Only two things can happen: 1) You complete a story you are happy with, which is an immense achievement or 2) You write something you feel unhappy with. Ultimately, neither of those two outcomes are a waste of time – all the while you are trying, working, writing and practising, you are becoming the best writer you can be. Don’t let doubts stop you, or you’ll never reach your full potential. You’ll never know what you could have done.

SJT: You seem to have been rather busy in the last six months, with several new releases. Want to tell us about them?

FD: Yes, I’ve had a really good time lately. Last year, I was offered representation with Media Bitch Literary Agency, and from the team there I’ve had a lot of support. The agents there are amazing – always helping, supporting, promoting and uplifting their authors. That’s a big part of why I’ve been able to get a lot done – they’ve been behind me all the way, helping me. In the last few months, I’ve released Nails, which is a paranormal novella, The Redwood Lodge Investigation and Juniper’s Shadow, which is the first segment of what will eventually be a trilogy. I also took part in The Dichotomy of Christmas, an anthology of horror stories alongside wonderful talents such as Graham Masterton, Michael Bray and M.R Sellars.

nails full wrap NO SPINE (2)SJT: Why is horror the genre for you? What’s the appeal, for you, about writing spooky stories?

FD: From the youngest age, I loved telling friends ghost stories at sleep-overs, and watching scary movies. I’ve always had a morbid fascination with anything dark or creepy. I used to go to the library and borrow books on hauntings, and obsess over the tales for days. I’m not so much into blood and gore, but I love a good creepy ghost story. I think it’s because I find reading something scary quite thrilling. I love the fear, the tension, the sense of darkness. I’m really not someone who loves comedies and romantic films!

SJT: February is Women In Horror month. Would you say that there is still a misconception out there that women don’t write horror? Have things improved? Discuss!

FD: I think horror is still very dominated by male presence – we have Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Adam Nevill, Jack Ketchum, Joe Hill etc who are all brilliant, and who I very much admire. But I think females can bring something different to the table, something that shouldn’t be ignored. There is a quiet and sinister element to certain female horror writers that really gets under my skin, in such a delicious way. One only has to read Susan Hill, Alison Littlewood, Sarah Pinborough or Shirley Jackson to know that a female writer can be very dark – in a very unnerving way. I love that more and more female horror writers are making a name for themselves. With the advent of ebook publishing, I think we will start to see more of us, and hopefully the playing field will be a little more level as time goes on.

SJT: What projects have you got on the go at the moment?

FD: I have some projects ahead of me in 2016 that I am very excited about. There are some that I can’t yet share, unfortunately, but I promise there is a lot going on.

Juniper FINAL (2)What I can tell you is that I am taking part in a horror anthology which will be released in March, called Beasts. I am really happy to be sharing pages alongside Jack Ketchum, Iain Rob Wright, Michael Bray and many, many more fantastic writers on that project. I will also be releasing a novella entitled The Faceless, which has been great fun to write.

Later in the year I will hopefully be releasing my fourth full-length novel, The Risen. That novel is in the hands of my agent as we speak, and being shopped around various publishers. So it’s full steam ahead, and I am really excited to see what the year brings. I’m enjoying being busy, and it’s keeping me out of trouble!

Many thanks to Fiona for being my guest today! You can find all of Fiona’s books at Amazon.

The Ten Commandments of Writing #7: Thou Shalt Not Write for Fame and Fortune

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

There’s this misconception out there that writing is a glamorous life, and that writers just rattle off a novel and sit back and let the money roll in. This misconception is enhanced by the media, which focuses on writers like J.K. Rowlings, E.L. James and Neil Gaiman, and how much money they’ve made.

It’s true that all of these people have made a good living from writing, but sadly they are the exception, rather than the rule. The BBC published an article in 2014 stating that the average full-time writer was now earning £11,000 a year, which was well down on the last survey done nearly ten years earlier. Significantly, the same article also points out that the number of UK writers working full-time had also dropped quite dramatically – from 40% to 11.5%. Every time I get a royalty statement, I get depressed. If I were to add up all the royalties I’ve received since my first novel got published six years ago, it still equates to a sum that’s less than what I earn in a month in the day job.

I know a lot of writers for whom writing is their full-time job. Most of them have a supplementary income, whether it be their partner’s income, running writing courses, or something else like an inheritance, investments or rental income. Not many of them would describe themselves as ‘well off’. Most are just about managing to get by.

Whatever your reasons are for writing, you shouldn’t be doing it for the money. By all means fantasise about being a full time writer, and maybe you might be able to make it work, but don’t go handing in your letter of resignation to the boss as soon as you get that first novel contract.

So there’s the myth busted about the fortune. What about the fame? There’s a famous quote out there – and I don’t know who it originated with – that says that it takes twenty years to become an overnight success. There are a lot of writers out there, competing with a limited reading public. I have a fantasy that I’ll meet someone at a party one day and upon hearing my name they’ll say, “oh yes, I know you. I’ve read one of your books.” It hasn’t happened yet. Maybe, if I keep on churning out the novels, I might get to that point by 2030. By which point I’ll be almost ready to start drawing my pension!

Write because you want to, write because you need to. But if you want fame and fortune, marry a footballer or a supermodel instead. It’ll be far less painful in the long run.

Monday’s Friend: Kay Lalone

As Women in Horror Month continues, I am pleased to welcome another woman of horror to the blog.  Today’s guest is Kay Lalone, author of spooky stories for children and young adults. Welcome, Kay!

SJT: Some writers discover their calling at a very young age. Others arrive at it a bit later in life. How did it come to you?

KL: I remember in grade school sitting at the kitchen table writing a short story and asking my mom how to spell words. So I knew at a young age that I wanted to be a writer.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

KL: My biggest influences were my parents because they taught me the joy of reading. Without that joy of reading, I don’t think I would have found the passion for writing my own stories.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

KL: That it is hard work. If you don’t have that passion to write, you will eventually give up. It’s not easy sending your story (baby) out into the world and seeing it rejected over and over again. You need to have that passion to write even if no one reads your words. You have a story to tell, so tell it.

SJT: Tell us about your latest release, FAMILY SECRET.

Family Secret 200x300 (2)KL: Sixteen-year-old Thomas Patrick Henry is thrown into a web of secrets and demons after his mother’s murder.

FAMILY SECRET is not based on a secret from my past or from my family. The idea for FAMILY SECRET came from a picture I saw for a writing class. The writing assignment was to look at a picture and develop a story from it. In the picture were a train and a boy and girl.

I asked the question, What if? What if this boy was running away from something? What if he felt like he wasn’t wanted? What if a secret was being kept from him? Asking what if gets the imagination flowing. Over the years (it took fifteen years before Family Secret became published) I just let my imagination run wild and soon it developed into the book it is today.

SJT: Have you always written spooky stories, or is this a genre you accidentally fell into?

KL: I have always loved to read mysteries and spooky stories. I was always told to write what you know. So, yes, I’ve always written spooky stories.

SJT: Have you ever put people you know in real life into your stories?

KL: No, not yet!

SJT: February is Women In Horror month. Would you say that there is still a misconception out there that women don’t write horror? Have things improved? Discuss!

KL: I have never really thought about it much. But yes I think there is still is a misconception about women writing horror. When I think about horror, the first author that pops into my head is Stephen King. I love to read his books. But recently I started reading a book by Willow Rose.

SJT: What projects have you got on the go at the moment?

KL: At the moment, I am revising a mystery, paranormal story titled MYSTERIOUS VISIONS. It is about a teenage girl who has visions. Of course, some of those visions are scary. There is mystery, romance, and ghosts in this story.

Blurb for FAMILY SECRET

On the road to solving his mother’s murder, sixteen-year-old Thomas Patrick Henry discovers a secret his father has kept from him for years. Tom thought Dad’s secret put him in danger, Mom’s secret is far worse. Magic. Witches. Ancient Book of Spells. Magical Amulet. Ghosts. Demons. Tom never thought these things existed until he is face to face with them. There is nothing else to do but destroy the demons before someone else Tom love dies. He already lost his mom and a close friend because this secret was kept from him. No one else will die. No one else will be possessed. Tom faces his demons. A mother’s love gives Tom the strength to slay his demons.

Kay and her family

Kay and her family

Author Bio

Kay lives in Michigan with her husband and teenage son (two older sons and a daughter-in-law and her first grandbaby live nearby) and two dogs. She loves to get up every morning and write about ghosts, the paranormal, and things that go bump in the night. She writes PB, MG and YA novels. No matter the books she writes, she wants her readers to feel like they have met a new friend. She is an avid reader of just about any type of book (mystery, paranormal, and ghost stories are my favorites). She does reviews and posts them on her website and blog. She loves to collect old books, antiques, and collectibles and you can find many of her antiques and collectibles selling on ebay and at fleamarkets.

Catch up with Kay and her books at the following links:

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Monday’s Friend: Diane Dooley

February is Women in Horror month, so I am featuring women horror writers for my Monday’s Friends feature all of this month. My first woman of horror is author Diane Dooley. Welcome, Diane!

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

DD: I’ve always been a voracious reader, but for many years the idea as me as a writer never occurred to me. It wasn’t until I was on maternity leave with my second child that I decided to try my hand at it as an intellectual exercise. I wrote a novel in six weeks and it was terrible. But I’d been bitten by the writing bug and I’ve been unable to shake it off ever since.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

DD: Ah, too numerous to mention, but I’ll give it a try. I’m very influenced by music. Often, the first little throb of a story comes while I’m listening to music or reading poetry. And the real world is a big influence, things I’ve seen: a house scarred by lightning rods, an abandoned graveyard, a rusted wheelchair in a ditch. Art is another inspiration, as well as the field of psychology. A short story soon to be published by Liquid Imagination was inspired by this photograph of an infamous psychological experiment:

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Among the authors that have most influenced me are Octavia Butler, CJ Cherryh, Shirley Jackson, Philip K. Dick, Daphne du Maurier, Jane Austen, and Vladimir Nabokov. Add to this list an untold number of poets and musicians.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

DD: Most likely you’re going to suck at first. Take the time to learn the craft of writing. Work hard, seek out critique, and don’t rush to publish.

SJT: Tell us about your latest release.

DD: DOWN BY THE DARK WATER​ is a Scottish Gothic, the first of three I have planned. It’s dark and twisted and is stuffed with characters nobody can like very much. I loved writing it.

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SJT: You describe yourself as writing ‘romance, science fiction and horror – sometimes all in the same story’. Do you purposefully set out to mash genres, or does the story usually just develop that way?

DD: I really can’t help mashing up genres. I’ve tried to write to the specific tropes of specific genres, but those projects usually end up getting abandoned due to my lack of passion for them. I use that particular tagline to let potential readers know that anything might happen and to expect the unexpected.

SJT: Plotter or pantser?

DD: Kind of a hybrid. I think a lot about a story before I even sit down to write it. Often, the story is mostly complete in my head, and I just need to type it into words. I keep a few notes on characters and settings, but I don’t do a written outline.

SJT: February is Women In Horror month. Would you say that there is still a misconception out there that women don’t write horror? Have things improved? Discuss!

DD: I think horror is still very much a male-­dominated genre. When I browse the book offerings it’s mostly male names on the books. One has to work a bit to find female horror authors, and I rely quite heavily on recommendations from others. I don’t know if I really fit well in the horror genre, to be honest. What I call my horror stories are very dark, very twisted, but rarely have any kind of supernatural aspect to them. My horror stories are usually about the most terrifying monster of all: humanity.

Have things improved for women writing horror? I’d say that self­-publishing has allowed female voices to be heard more frequently. On the other hand, the sheer glut of books being published makes them just as hard to discover.

SJT: What projects have you got on the go at the moment?

DD: My main project at the moment is a horror novel set in rural upstate New York, where I live. As usual, it’s got a couple of genres going on. It’s a historical and contemporary dual timeline American Gothic sort of thing with an awful lot of body fluids and rotting vegetation. Typical me, in other words. Side projects are a blue collar romance set in the seedy side of the country music business, and the other two Scottish Gothic novellas.

Thanks for having me, Sara!

***

Diane Dooley was born in the Channel Islands and grew up in Scotland. She finally settled down in Upstate New York where the summers are short and the winters just might kill you. She lives with her best friend/husband and two obstreperous boy children in a falling­down farmhouse in the sticks.

Diane writes ​short stories​ and ​novellas​ in several genres, and has been published in a variety of online and print publications, as well as by several digital­first publishing houses.

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