Author Interview for Right Back Where We Started From by Joy Lanzendorfer

Image credit: Alta Online

1. Tell us about your writing process. Do you aim for a daily word count, page count, or a couple of scenes each day?

I adjust my goals based on what project I’m working on. For a first draft, I might set a word count or a certain number of pages a day or a week. If I’m writing an article or essay, I think in terms of drafts: Finish the draft, edit the draft, etc. If I’m editing a novel, I just try to work on it consistently every day. I find that it’s hard to predict novel editing, which can be excruciatingly slow, so I try to concentrate on focused blocks of time.

As for my schedule: Since I’m a full-time writer, I keep long hours. Before Covid, I had a satisfying writing routine where I got up early, wrote, sent my son to school, and spent the rest of the day working. Now I try to write during my son’s Zoom classes and when my husband is watching him. Right now as I type this, my son is lying on my arm. I didn’t know how good I had it, pre-Covid.


2. What gave you the inspiration for your book? (Is it part of a series?)

It comes from family myths I heard growing up, stories about our family that may or may not have happened. Things like the relatives owning a silver mine or my grandfather turning down an opportunity to draw Mickey Mouse for Disney or my aunt who was the belle of three counties. My grandfather was a storyteller and it’s unclear which stories are true. We don’t even know if he was German or Austrian because he said he was both. It got me thinking about how family identity feeds into personal identity, and how that in turn shapes our worldviews. My main character Sandra believes it’s her job to return her family name to greatness. Like many Americans, she believes she’s special, but the actual basis for this belief is very much in question.


3. Are you a pantser or a plotter? A bit of both?

I guess I’m a pantser. I crank out first drafts on instinct, writing into images or scene ideas. Then I spend forever editing to figure out what I’m really trying to say.


4. Do you prefer a certain type of music to listen to when you’re writing, or are you better with silence?

Definitely prefer music, unless I’m in the final stages of the process, when I need to listen to the rhythm of the language. Writing music is different from music I would label as my favorite musicians I would see in concert. It can’t be something that I’ll get caught up in or I’ll end up listening to music instead of writing. I love John Coltrane’s Giant Steps because its fizzy overflowing genius is infectious.


5. What book(s) are you reading now?

As I write this, I’m reading Kazuo Isiguro’s new book, Klara and the Sun, which is lovely. I’m also reading a book about Mary Astor’s scandalous purple diaries. I talk about books on my radio show/podcast What’s the Story? where I recommend a book every week.


6. Anything else you’d like us to know about this book or any others (past or future)?

Well, I finished the novel in 2012. When I originally sent it out for publication, Sandra was named Sandi. In the middle of submission, Hurricane Sandy and Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting happened, which seemed to sour editors on my book. Then my agent quit the industry and left the book stranded in email boxes all around New York. So I gave up on it completely, but then six years later, my current agent contacted me and asked if Right Back Where We Started From was available. It turned out she remembered my book from the first time I sent it out, and was able to sell it to Blackstone. You can never predict what’s going to happen in publishing.

 
7. Just for fun — what TV shows or movies have you really enjoyed (or disliked?) recently? 

So many shows disappoint me. They start out great but can’t keep it up. Or they turn into little morality plays to teach us lessons, which is dull and didactic and makes me feel like storytelling is regressing. So in this great golden age of TV, I find myself watching it less and less.

That said, right now I really like The Great Pottery Throw Down, a British competition about making pottery. The people are so talented and the judge cries tears of joy when they do well. I also like What We Do In The Shadows, Succession, and Better Call Saul.



Photo credit: @joylanzendorfer

Right Back Where We Started From

Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, Family Saga

Available from Blackstone Publishing on 4th May 2021.

See the book trailer on Youtube.

Goodreads

Amazon Kindle

Follow Joy on Twitter @joylanzendorfer and her website ohjoy.org.

Book Tour for The Man Before You by Shalana Battles Giveaway and Author Guest Post

The Man Before You
Grand Mesa Men Prequel
by Shalana Battles
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Time may not actually heal all wounds, but love just might.
Eloise’s husband was dead and she wished she were too. She quit going to work, refused to answer her phone or her front door, and shut out the people who cared about her. She felt imprisoned by her tainted memories, but couldn’t escape her own home or recliner, because she had to focus on breathing.
Six days after she buried her husband, Jack pounded on Eloise’s door. Jack, a man she hadn’t seen or spoken to in over a decade. Jack, the only man including her husband, who Eloise felt truly knew her.
Jack’s life hadn’t been without its fair share of loss. Breaking contact after Eloise’s marriage had seemed the best thing for them, but regret tortured Jack when Eloise swung open her door and he saw the shell of the woman he once loved.
Eloise pushed Jack away ten years ago and never expected him to come back into her life. She hated herself for wanting Jack to stay, but she couldn’t help but remember the love they once shared and the life that they could’ve had—or the life they could have now.
The longer Jack stayed, the more he realized Eloise blamed herself for not being there when her husband died. Jack wanted a second chance, but Eloise didn’t think she deserved one. Eloise wanted to find herself, but wasn’t sure she could while dealing with grief, Jack’s deployments, PTSD, and a universe that seemed determined to keep them apart.
A Second Chance Standalone Romance

 AUTHOR GUEST POST

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author? 


I’m Shalana Battles. I write romance, but I mix it up with magic and the paranormal. I struggled for a long time with this idea that as a writer I had to choose one genre and stick with it. I saw a lot of videos and posts talking about sticking to one genre. However, I had stories in my head that crossed genres and I didn’t want to publish under multiple names. The way I fixed this problem was to add a clover to my books that are contemporary romance. My first novel, Soul Jumper, is a paranormal romance and it doesn’t have the clover. The Man Before You, a contemporary romance, does. My next book, Encampment is fantasy/romance and won’t have the clover. I wanted a way to clue readers into what they were getting into without changing my name. So far, it’s worked well for me. I’m excited to see what happens as I continue to publish. 

 

I’ve always been a writer. I have stories dating all the way back to four year old me. I’ve always known that I wanted to tell stories. I studied journalism and cultural anthropology in college largely because their foundations are in storytelling. After I had my son, I took the plunge and started my lifestyle blog, battlingthechaos.com. After that, I started working seriously on my first book, Soul Jumper, and I’ve spent every bit of the last three years focused on making being an author my career. I’ve always known what I wanted to do, I just spent a long time not sure how to get there. I’m still learning every day, but I love the journey I’m on and can’t wait to see where it leads. 

 

What are some of your pet peeves? 

 

I hate when people don’t push in their chairs. I’m also very big on being polite. It’s super annoying to me when people don’t say please/thank you. I’ve been told I say those things too much, haha, but I think it’s important to let others know that I appreciate them! 

 

Where were you born/grew up at? 

I was born in Globe, Arizona, and I grew up in Morenci, Arizona. Something pretty cool about Morenci is that it’s one of the last truly company owned towns in existence. Morenci is a copper mining town (technically a camp) and everything – houses, land, etc. – is all owned by Freeport McMoRan (FMI). I grew up a lot differently than most, because to live in Morenci you have to work for FMI. I never saw class differences growing up, because all of my peers had parents working for the same company as my dad, making roughly the same money. Everyone I knew had similar or the same clothes, toys, and cars. 

 

If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, I’d spend my last day making sure my son had the absolute best day. I’d want his last memories of me to be fun. I’d tell him repeatedly how wonderful he is and how much I love him. We’d spend the whole day doing all the things he loves.

 

What are you passionate about these days? 

I’m passionate about writing, but that’s a given. With my writing, I have a passion for giving back. I knew from the start that I wanted to use my books to help others. When I published Soul Jumper, I donated $1 of every paperback sold in October (Domestic Violence Awareness month) to The Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation. When I published The Man Before You, I started a Patreon that I will use for all future books. Currently, my Patreon is benefiting Base Camp 40 and the Jaim’ee Rodriguez scholarship fund. I was raised by a mom who would give the shirt off her back to help someone else, and I love that my books can help do a little good in the world. Being able to grow my donation projects is a huge motivating factor on my publishing journey.  

 

I’m also very passionate about animals/animal rights. I have three dogs, goats, a mini horse, two rabbits, a red ear slider turtle, and chickens. Giving rescues or pets being rehomed a loving home is super important to me. I think it’s imperative that we are educating people on animals as well as the importance of hunting and land conservation. In The Man Before You, Eloise opens her own animal sanctuary and I’d love that to be me one day.

 

Prior to Covid, I was a full-time high school English teacher. My passion for education has changed over the years, but the love of learning has always remained. I’ve been on multiple committees to better our education system and I don’t see myself ever completely leaving that world. In my mind, there are so many things that we could be doing better, and fighting for our kids and their education is a fight worth fighting. 

 

What do you do to unwind and relax? 

When I want to unwind, I binge shows like Bones, Criminal Minds, Castle, and 911. I love being able to sit down and watch a show for hours on end and give my brain a break. I enjoy reading and photography as well.  

 

How to find time to write as a parent?

I have a three year old son who is extremely busy. In the mornings while he eats breakfast, I write. Occasionally, he still naps (like now, haha) and I can sit down and work. It’s funny too, because I get a ton of writing done if I’m working outside my home, like when I was teaching full time or when I substitute teach. I get the majority of my writing done at home when my son is asleep or entertaining himself. A couple of days ago, he spent a good amount of time playing with Playdoh and I was able to write for a while while he played.   

 

I think writers who are parents need to be okay with the fact that their schedule is going to look a lot different than a writer who doesn’t have kids or a partner. You have to find a schedule that works for you and if it’s weird hours, then it’s weird hours. Writing when you can is also important. You may only get five to ten minutes randomly throughout the day, but those minutes and words will add up. Just because you can’t sit down and write for six hours straight doesn’t mean you can’t finish a book. Also, kids do get on a schedule. Sometimes parents put them on that schedule and sometimes (like with my son) it happens organically, but regardless it will happen. Once it does, work your writing into that routine. I know my son will let me drink coffee and write while he eats breakfast. I know he’ll want to go outside and I often take my laptop out while he plays with his trucks in our backyard. I’ve written sitting in our bathroom as he plays in the tub. The time is there, I promise. You just have to see those moments in your day and capitalize on them. 

 

What can we expect from you in the future? 

I have a schedule of books for the next three years! One of those projects is a spinoff of The Man Before You that I’m making into a series. I’m calling it The Grand Mesa Men and it will focus on Jesse’s sons (who you meet in The Man Before You) finding love. 

 

My next book, Encampment, is set to come out in May 2021. I also plan to release the first book in the Grand Mesa series in July 2021 and hope to publish the sequel to Soul Jumper in October 2021. 

 

Who designed your book covers? 

Designed with Grace and I adore her! Her covers are incredible.

 

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book? 

Yes! I learned a ton, but the most important thing I learned was not to rush the process. With my first book, Soul Jumper, I spent nine months editing. When I finished The Man Before You I didn’t want it to take another nine months or more to see it published. I got impatient. I set a deadline on The Man Before You that drove me and my editor a bit crazy. Also, on Amazon if you miss your posting deadline, you are not allowed to set up a book for pre-order for TWO YEARS! AH! Long story short, with the time difference, I missed the deadline and was super panicked that I wasn’t going to be able to allow readers to pre-order for the next two years. I called Amazon and they were really helpful and lifted the ban for me, thank goodness, but I never should have set myself up for failure like that in the first place. I am currently working on my next book, Encampment, that comes out in May and I left myself two weeks between my editor returning it and it having to be uploaded to Amazon. For The Man Before You I gave myself less than two days. Crazy, I know. 

 

I will never push myself like that again. It wasn’t fair to my editor and it wasn’t fair to my book. It is so easy to just want to publish the next one, but being in a rush means risking publishing a book that isn’t ready. It means a higher possibility of mistakes, typos, plot holes, and losing privileges such as offering pre-orders. I am blessed with an amazing editor, who made sure The Man Before You was publish-ready, but the stress of that wasn’t worth it. Clearly, I had to learn this lesson the hard way, but I don’t recommend that route. The planning process that goes into publishing a book will never be ignored by me again. 

 

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?   

 

All of my characters are based on real people, but some more so than others. Sometimes I’ll have a character that is heavily based on one person and other times I’ll have a character that is pieces of multiple people. I’m of the frame of mind that everything comes from somewhere, so even if writers don’t always know who their character inspiration is, there is one out there somewhere. I usually recognize when I’m basing a character on a specific person and will sometimes have to change things so that the character isn’t too much like the actual person. Other times, I will make up a lot about a character from my imagination, but will still reference a real person when I’m writing reactions and emotions. 

 

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story? Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.

 

My characters always hijack the story. I look at writing differently than a lot of people I know. When I write, I obviously use my imagination, but I picture the stories I’m writing as alternate lives. If things had worked out a different way, if we lived in a different type of world, if I had said yes/no to a specific person from my past…there’s infinite possibilities if you start to think about every big choice you’ve ever made. You really can live a million lives in one lifetime. I truly believe that. The Mark Batterson quote, “You’re only one defining decision away from a totally different life,” sums up my writing style. I use my writing to explore those alternatives. In life, we don’t always get a say and my characters are no different. Things happen to them and they react to those things, usually in a way that surprises me. I almost never feel fully in control of my stories, because I envision them as universes playing out and they always do that in their own way.  

 

The Man Before You deals with a lot of emotional topics, but it all comes down to who we are as people after we lose someone that matters to us. Every person deals with that differently, but we’re all the same in the sense that it changes us. When a person reads The Man Before You, or any of my books, I hope that they find comfort in the unknown, in the tragic, and can live in the silver lining that we’re all desperate to find. 

 

What did you edit out of this book?

The major edits I made on The Man Before You dealt with shifts in the point of view. Originally, the book jumped between the main characters, Jack and Eloise, without indicating a transition. Beta readers noticed, but didn’t say it should be changed. All of my Beta readers said that once they realized what was happening, they were okay with it. However, my editor definitely thought it should be changed to avoid confusion. I also had moments where I included the point of views of side characters, like Nickie, Eloise’s best friend. Those are gone in the final version. I hated making some of those changes, because I felt that those points of views allowed readers to see another side of Eloise, and know her through the eyes of her best friend. But, I agree that the book flows much better now and leaves way less room for confusion. It’s also not common practice to include the point of view of a side character or characters. I’ve seen it done, and even done well, but it’s not something readers see much of. In this instance, I decided to go the route that was expected and common practice. 

 

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write? 

Characters 100% come to me as I write. When I started The Man Before You, Jesse and his sons weren’t even a thought. It wasn’t until I got to that point in the book, that Jesse evolved and developed. I write a lot like people go through life. We don’t meet all our people right at the beginning. Things happen, things change, people move in and out of our lives and it works the same for my characters. Eloise found herself in a situation where she needed help and that led to her meeting Jesse and his sons. Writing this makes me realize how very little I plan out a story before diving in, haha. 

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

I don’t research before beginning a book, but I do a ton of research as I write. For The Man Before You, I talked to two people in depth about their experiences in the military. I also questioned multiple others about their experiences. I spoke to wives who are married to people in the military as well. When I’m writing and I get to a spot where I know I don’t have the experience or knowledge to write the scene, I seek that out. 

 

For my first book, Soul Jumper, I had to research parallel universes. I didn’t get theoretical in the book, but I wanted to have an understanding of the concept to a point that I could write it in a realistic way. This research didn’t happen until I was doing my first round of edits.  

 

For my next book, Encampment, I had about half of the book written before I started researching the history of witches. I found out a lot of information and went back and changed my story where I needed to in order to make it more accurate. I also spent hours and hours researching how to write horror and I did this for one scene. The book itself isn’t horror, but there’s a scene that is bloody and scary and as a romance writer I had no idea how to do that. So, after well over six hours of researching horror writing, I wrote my two page scene.   

 

My biggest thing is getting the words on the page. I can do a lot with 30 or 40 thousand words, but I can’t do anything with a blank page. I tend to write until I hit a wall and then I go back and research and pick it apart.   

 

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? 

When I write, I listen to a single song on repeat. I see that song as the theme song for the book. With Soul Jumper it was Lead Me Back by San Holo and for The Man Before You it was Dive by Ed Sheeran. I get a ton of inspiration when I hear the same song over and over. I use the song to tell the story. Songs tell stories on their own, but when I can picture the actions of my characters to the music it helps me tremendously in moving my writing forward. 

 

The Man Before also has a playlist. It’s on my YouTube channel. 

 

Advice they would give new authors? 

 

My biggest piece of advice is to trust yourself. Writing is very subjective and as a beginner it is easy to think you have to make every change that is recommended to you. Definitely take advice from your Beta readers and your editor and listen to readers’ opinions, because most of the time they make the story better. That isn’t the same thing as never saying no. Make the changes you want to make. Remind yourself why you’re telling the story and stay true to your vision for that story. The flip side of that is, don’t only say no. You have to find balance and find people that want to help you grow and succeed. Criticism doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. You have to be open minded to the suggestions of others, but you don’t have to live by those suggestions. I realize this is a lot easier said than done. For me, it helps to read feedback and let it sit with me for a day or two before I decide what I’m going to do. Sometimes I write the changes, read them, and then decide which version I like better. 

 

With The Man Before You, one of the hardest changes to swallow was making the main character, Jack’s best friend, Chase, undeployable. After a mission, Chase starts suffering symptoms of PTSD. He goes to Jack for help and shortly after they’re redeployed. In the original version, Chase was with Jack and I wanted them together so, so badly. However, it was pointed out to me, multiple times, that Chase wouldn’t be deployed after seeking help for PTSD. I had to rewrite huge chunks of my story and also develop another character enough that they could be the one with Jack on that deployment. It was rough. I had this pictured so perfectly in my head. It was important to me that those two be together on that deployment. However, accuracy was more important. Showing Chase choose to get help was more important. This was a super hard change to swallow, but when I gave in and tried it my book got better. 

 

I’ve also been blessed to find a couple of people who will read things and give me feedback. Find two or three people that can read your stuff and give you honest feedback. Having someone read your drafts and only tell you how amazing you are isn’t going to help you grow as a writer.  

 

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers?

 

I never outline a book first. I know some people are cringing at that, but I honestly believe that writers can get so caught up in the process that they never get past the planning stage. I see so many writers in the writing community online that have been planning and outlining for literal years. You can think and think and think and plan, but that isn’t getting words on the page. I am 100% a dive right in writer. I just write what’s in my head to start a story and almost always I’m not starting at the beginning, but when I get all of it on the page then I have a true starting point. You don’t have to have a perfectly planned out story to write a book. I think too often aspiring writers are so afraid of failing, either not finishing the book, or it being bad, that they don’t ever start the book.  

 

I am usually about halfway done with a book, word count wise, before I go through and roughly outline. When I say rough, I mean super rough. I read what’s there and say okay I need a chapter before this and x, y, z needs to happen to get us here. So, I’ll add a blank page and write down a couple bullet points. Once I’m at the end, I write down what else needs to happen in order to reach the resolution.  

 

Another thing I do way later is even out the number of pages in each of my chapters. I learned this while writing Soul Jumper. I’d have one chapter that was 5 pages long and another that was 18 pages long. Now, when I’m close to finishing a draft I’ll go through and count my pages. I end up with a range so that each chapter is between 10-14 pages or whatever that count ends up being. While I do this, I make notes in my notebook about what each chapter still needs, what I need to research, or I make a check mark indicating that the chapter is done. It’s basically a t-chart with the chapter number on one side, and the page count and notes on the other side. 

 

I definitely believe that there is such a thing as too much planning. Each person should write in a way that works for them. However, if your goal is to finish and publish a book then don’t fall into the trap of spending months making notes about your main character’s favorite color and how they take their coffee. Those are fun things that you can play with later. Focus on the things that will move your story forward and on finishing your draft. 

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

 

To start sharing my writing sooner! I spent years not sharing my writing and that isn’t the way to get better. I see young kids now posting their stuff all over the internet and I think that’s amazing. There are so many platforms now to post stories on and they don’t have to be stories that you plan to publish either. Just get your stuff out there, let people read it and get their feedback. 

 

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

 

This is a fun one, because I actually struggle more writing characters from the same sex. In Soul Jumper, my main character is male and in The Man Before You readers get both perspectives. There are times when I have no clue how a male would react to something, and in that case, I ask. I ask friends, or my husband, or one of my brothers. I have made a lot of phone calls to males in my life saying, here’s the scenario, now what would you do? This makes it easy on me, because I have multiple men telling me how to handle the situation. It takes some of the pressure off. 

 

In general, I just tend to gravitate toward writing male characters. The Grand Mesa Men series is going to be told from the point of views of each of Jesse’s sons. I may include the female main character as well, but I’m still deciding on that. I can’t really explain why, but males are just easier for me to write. 

 

When I’m writing females, I think I tend to overthink it because I know that not all women are going to react to something the same way I will. The way I feel about something doesn’t speak for all females. For some reason that makes me struggle so much more, because I want to attack it from as many angles as possible. It sounds silly, but I question myself way more when writing same sex characters.  

 

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I do to an extent. I know from experience that there are times when I have to step away from a scene because I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do next. Where I’m probably different is I don’t step away from the whole story. I will write a note at that spot in bold that tells me what I need there and then I move on. I skip over that part and keep writing. Eventually, the scene comes to me and I can go back and fill it in. The difficult part here is that sometimes that scene affects things after it and I’ll have to make changes to pieces that I wrote when I skipped that part. It’s worth it to me to make a few small changes, instead of just stopping completely for hours or days until my brain can process that section. So, yes, I think writer’s block is real, but no I don’t think it has to halt the entire draft.    
  

Shalana Battles is a YA/Adult writer who tells stories about love…sometimes with witches and ghosts. Her debut novel, SOUL JUMPER released October, 6, 2020. Be the first to hear about upcoming projects and book updates by signing up for her newsletter below!
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
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Book Tour, Giveaway, and Author Guest Post for The Royal Mages Series by Kristin Ping

 
 
 
First Sight
The Royal Mages Book 1
by Kristin Ping
Genre: Paranormal Romance
 
 
 
Young, French, and working in the USA, Danielle Laurant has it all—including the love of heartthrob Marick Young.
However, there’s something sinister brewing underneath their love.
Secrets can make or break any relationship—but especially when it’s one that goes against the grain of otherworldly laws.
Marick is the prince of warlocks and his father refuses to allow his son to love a human girl and Marick refuses to let her go.
Marick introduces Danielle to a world she didn’t know existed. But she needs to end their relationship or force him to lose his crown. And if it isn’t done soon, it won’t matter anyway. She’ll be put to death.
In this exciting, fast paced, introduction to the Royal Mages series by USA Today Bestselling Author Kristin Ping, prepare for a forbidden romance like no other.
 
 
**Get it FREE!!**
 
 
 
Forever Part I
The Royal Mages Book 2
 
 
Danielle Laurant has been struggling to be accepted behind the vail where witches and other supernatural roams free. But she is fighting for that chance, for her half witch/human unborn babies to live in the world where they belong, and juggling her new duties is a lot harder than what she is used to.
Marick Young, the prince of the mages, had to abdicate his throne in order to have the love of his life Danielle by his side. Still, it’s a hard struggle to be truly accepted as it’s forbidden to love a human.
Still, secrets can make or break any situation—especially when it’s one that goes against the grain of otherworldly laws. And Danielle is stuck right in the middle.
In this exciting, fast paced, second part of the Royal Mages series by USA Today Bestselling Author Kristin Ping, prepare for a forbidden romance like no other.
 
 
 
 
 
Forever Part II
The Royal Mages Book 3
 
 
Forever Part II is the final book in the Royal Mages trilogy.
A deadly and forbidden potion has back fired badly on Danielle’s life where she forgets Marick and her life as the wife of a royal mage.
She is stuck with a terrifying memory fed to her and finds herself living in a dark and unforgiving world.
Is her love for Marick strong enough to find him again? and what secrets is she going to unvail this time?
In this exciting, fast paced, third part to the Royal Mages trilogy by USA Today Bestselling Author Kristin Ping, prepare for a forbidden romance like no other.
 
 
 
 
GUEST POST BY THE AUTHOR —  10 Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author I Didn’t Know Before This one is always fun, and hopefully, new and aspiring authors could take something from my experience. I started to write in 2009. I was 29 years old and thought I would become the next J.K Rowling. I’m honest as can come, and let’s face it, every new author who gets an idea thinks their book will be the next Harry Potter. Newsflash, and it is a big wake up call, your book won’t be the next Harry Potter unless you really have something gold in your hands. So yes, that is my number 1. Your book won’t be the next Harry Potter. Number 2: Reviews. If I knew reviews could be that harsh, I probably would never have started to write. The funny part is, it’s like 5% of my reviews are so negative, I wanted to sit in a corner and cry. The other 95% struggle to actually wait for my next book. Authors quit writing because of their reviews. They can be brutal, and less than a percent of those reviews are actually helpful. You get negative reviews that you learn from, and those readers I treasure as they tell you what they find wrong with your book. The other part likes to tell you what trash your book is, and we call those reviewers, Trolls. They are known as trolls as they do not know how to write a review that helps authors and actually trash their writing dreams. It’s one of the reasons I do not read my reviews anymore as I always concentrate on those 5% negative reviews and forget about the 95% that actually loved it. Number 3. Marketing. If I knew that I would spend so much time on marketing, I would probably choose a different career. But I love the first part so much, it’s like breathing that marketing is just something I have to do. Number 4. Writing the book. My first book took three years to write, and I thought it was the most challenging part I’d ever done. Writing the book is the easiest part. I wish I knew that before I published. Number 5. Wattpad. I wish I knew about Wattpad before I started. Wattpad is a beautiful site if you are starting out, trying to build your fan base. It’s a bit harder if you are an established author using Wattpad and then developing your career. Number 6. Publishers. I was with a publisher first before I stepped out on my own. Publishers can really make things sound so sparkling and pretty. Giving you the idea that all you are going to do is write the book. It’s not the truth. If you are not a prominent name author, you will work your tush off for a crazy small amount of the percentage when it comes to royalties. You are lucky if publishers give you half, but most provide you with anything from 12 to 25% of the cut. So be careful when it comes to publishers. They have their strong points in getting your book out there, but you can also step in a ditch and struggle to get out. Number 7. Editing, editing, editing. English isn’t my first language, and I can’t tell how important it is to get an editor that can actually edit a book. I had many, many people telling me that they are brilliant at editing. Then I trust them and guess what, when my book gets released, plenty of reviews streamed in about my book being riddled with mistakes. It’s hard to find an editor, and I wished that I actually took an editor’s course before writing. Number 8. You are going to work your butt off. If you are not prepared to work your butt off (not meaning literally as you sit on a chair), then don’t do this. I never worked this hard at any of my jobs. So be prepared to work your butt off. Number 9. Funnel sites. Ever heard of Book funnel, Prolific, and StoryOrigin. Yip, I wish that I knew about them when I started. They are excellent sites that help you gain newsletter subscribers that love books. You need those to make a success from your writing career. Number 10: Networking. You need authors to help you make a success in this career. I started late in life when it comes to this, but glad that I discovered it eventually. This industry is not a competition. The sun is big enough for all of us, and you need author buddies to help with pushing and cross-promoting. It’s like one hand washes the other. Bloggers. Bloggers are gold. Treasure them, and work on your blogger list as you grow. And that is my ten top list I wish I knew before I published my book. If you have anything to add, leave it in the comments. I might not even know about it.
Kristin resides in South Africa, East side of Johannesburg with her husband and two beautiful little girls. Writing has always been a passion of hers and she’s living the dream, being able to write every day. ” I love life, cherish every special second of it and live my dream.” She has recently started her own Publishing company – Fire Quill Publishing in South Africa – http://www.firequillpublishing.com/
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
$10 Amazon

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway for The Hotel by Jennifer Anne Gordon

From Daylight to Madness
The Hotel Book 1
by Jennifer Anne Gordon
Genre: Psychological Suspense, Gothic Horror
The latest book from the critically acclaimed author of Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent; Jennifer Anne Gordon.
On an almost uninhabitable rocky island off the coast of Maine, a Hotel looms over the shore, an ever-present gray lady that stands strong like a guard, keeping watch. For many who come here, this island is a sanctuary and a betrayal.
This is a place where memories linger like ghosts, and the ephemeral nature of time begins to peel away …like the sanity of all who have been unlucky enough to step foot on its shore.
In the late spring of 1873, Isabelle gave birth to her son Oscar, he cried for three startling minutes, and then went silent. During the months that follow, Isabelle is drugged and lulled into an almost hallucinatory world of grief and fear. Her life begins to feel as though it exists in a terrifying new reality separated from those around her …
When her grieving begins to make her husband, Henry, uncomfortable, he and his mother conspire to send Isabelle away to a Summer Hotel on Dagger Island, where she can rest and heal. While they are adamant that the hotel is not an asylum and that Isabelle will be able to return eventually to her home, Isabelle understands in her heart that it is all a lie. That perhaps, everything about being a woman in this time, may have always been a lie.
Her family has lied to her, and she has lied to herself.
The Hotel, of course, is not what it seems, and the foreboding Dagger Island begins to feel more like a prison than a retreat. Isabelle hears relentless sounds coming from the attic above her room, and the ever-present cries of small children scream in her head almost constantly. Are they hallucinations, or are they connected to the small cemetery she found, filled with the fresh dirt of little graves, the brokenhearted reminders of people that no one believes ever existed?
She meets a fellow guest at the Hotel, a young, enigmatic, and deeply damaged priest, named Francis.
Together they teeter on the edges of reality and try desperately to become free from the fates that their pasts have bound them to.
From Daylight to Madness is a poetic, and haunting Gothic Fiction novel that is both profoundly unsettling and darkly romantic.
**Only .99 cents!!**
When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk
The Hotel Book 2
Critically acclaimed Author Jennifer Anne Gordon’s conclusion to The Hotel Series, with the sequel to From Daylight to Madness.
In one startling moment in the late summer of 1873 a tragedy fell like summer sun on the gray jagged shores of Dagger Island. Francis loses everything he thought his life was, and what it could have become. His heart breaks and his feet run, all the way back to his childhood home, he reaches for a past that may not exist.
He is there, in the little house in Dorchester Neck. A place haunted with missing time. He feels the comfort from walls that lean in too close, but then …He feels the trauma that ripped his life in two and in a blink of an eye he is back at the hotel. He can feel the memories fade as the cold fingers of winter wrap around him. He does not know how he got there, or indeed if he ever left.
Francis has lived his whole life veiled in the memories that are more alive than his present. The current days fade away before he can hold on to him. Everything he was or thought he could have been is gone. He realizes he may be a monster, and the person he has fallen in love with may not even exist. Francis holds onto the memories he thinks are real …until he is almost consumed by them.
Francis is isolated in a world of mesmerism, with his tormentor and healer Doctor Hughes.
Francis is a guest in this hotel with his past, his present, and who he believes to be his future. Isabelle. His world is a labyrinth … he feels her hand in his. The fingers intertwine and there is nothing left but her …
She is a memory, a ghost, and a hallucination.
He can almost remember the moment when his father’s glass shattered into his face…he can almost remember who he was before he was broken in two.
He can almost remember…
He can almost…
He can…
He…
JENNIFER ANNE GORDON is a professional ballroom dancer and choreographer by day, and a curly haired neurotic writer by night. She is an actor, a traveler, a photographer, a lover of Gothic Horror, and a dog mom. She lives in the wilds of New Hampshire with her partner on and off the dance floor. Her novels include the Kindle Award for Horror 2020 Winning book, Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent, as well as the historical Gothic novel From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1) as well as When The Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel #2). She also has a published collection of her artwork, titled “Victoriana {mixed media art of jennifer anne gordon}.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
An autographed copy of my novel Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent
(finalist for the kindle awards for horror 2020),
An autographed copy of my art book “Victoriana: mixed media art of Jennifer Anne Gordon”
and a $15 Amazon Gift Card.

Book Blog Tour and Guest Post for The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes by Liese Sherwood-Fabre

The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes: Essays on Victorian England
Box Set Volumes 1 & 2
by Liese Sherwood-Fabre
Genre: Non-Fiction
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories are full of everyday Victorian activities and events that send the twenty-first-century reader to consult their reference books. Few, for example, are intimately acquainted with the responsibilities of a country squire, the importance of gentlemen’s clubs, or the intricacies of the Victorian monetary system.
These forty-eight short essays, gathered together from the first two volumes of “The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes” series, explore various aspects of life mentioned in the original stories. Readers gain modern-day insight into the nineteenth-century world. Untangle the complexities of inheritance, the Victorian wedding, and the treatment of brain fever. Discover the pleasures of the circus, the Turkish bath, and beekeeping. Such examinations bring deeper meaning and color to the adventures of the world’s most famous consulting detective.
**Only .99 cents!!**
The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes: Essays on Victorian England
Volume Three
What do “slop shops,” “scissorizing,” “agony aunts,” and “foolscap” have in common?
These and other Victorian references appear throughout the original Sherlock Holmes tales. What was part of everyday existence to the Victorian has the modern day reader running to references books to discover its significance. These twenty-four short essays explore various aspects of life mentioned in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes tales, providing modern-day insight into the nineteenth century world. Topics include:
*Violins
*Electric vs. Gas Lighting
*Scrapbooking
*Agony Columns
*The Agra Fort
*Cardboard
*Sound Recordings
*Telephones
*Jellyfish
*Rugby
*Brandy
*The Opera
*The Crown Jewels
*Yellow Fever
*Snakes
*Italian Political Organizations
*Banks
*Diabetes
*Pocket Watches
*Writing Paper
*Coroners
*Pawnshops
*Clothing
*Calling Cards
This collection also includes a bonus essay—”Evil Women: The Villainesses of the Canon,” originally published in the Baker Street Journal.
Be prepared to be enlightened and entertained!”
– Carole Nelson Douglas, Bestselling Author
**Only $1.99!!**

How I Write

 

Most writers will tell you they are either a “plotter” or a “pantser.” That is, some writers will develop extensive outlines before they begin writing. They know exactly where the story is going and how the characters will move through the plot—from beginning to end. I’ve even read of some who, given this approach, will be able to identify specific areas that need to be researched and complete that as well before writing the first draft.

 

I admire and envy such writers because I’m a complete pantser—someone writes by the seat of her pants. I have no idea where I’m going until I get there, letting the characters lead me through the journey. I do know the end in a vague way. A mystery will have a solution. A romance, its happy ending. The world is saved in a thriller. I tend to write linearly—I start at the beginning and keep going. When I get stuck, I consider what possible plot complications—the more perilous, the better. This requires me to stop at times to research something I never knew I needed to know about until then. At this point, I have to be disciplined because it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole chasing after fun and interesting facts that might or might not be related to what I’m writing.

 

In the end, I have a hot mess (plot holes, too much/too little description, a plot thread that goes nowhere) that I have to organize into a coherent story—that’s where outlining and other techniques come in handy. But for me, the unexpected directions are just part of the joy of writing.

 

To see the results of some of Dr. Sherwood-Fabre’s research, check out her series of essays on “The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes.” Volume Three has just been released, and the first two are now available in eBook as a box set.

Liese Sherwood-Fabre has won awards for her thrillers, romance, and literary short stories, and NYT bestselling author Steve Berry describes her writing as “gimmick-free, old-fashioned storytelling.”
In the second grade, she knew she was destined to write when she got an A+ for her story about Dick, Jane, and Sally’s ruined picnic. After obtaining her PhD from Indiana University, she joined the federal government and had the opportunity to work and live internationally for more than fifteen years. She draws upon these experiences to endow her characters with deep conflicts and emotions.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
$15 Gift Card (reader’s choice–Amazon or Apple)

Book Blog Tour for Born at Dawn by Christina Davis

Born At Dawn
Da’Valia Trilogy Book 1
by Christina Davis
Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure
When a heist goes terribly wrong and the binding spell holding 17-year-old Neva’s powers at bay is shattered, the half-human thief knows she’s in trouble.
Neva has always hidden her Da’Valian heritage while working risky jobs to make a name for herself and serving at her family’s tavern, but she won’t be able to hide much longer. She can either risk the safety of those she cares about or seek out her mother’s people to gain control over her emerging powers.
The Da’Valia are beautiful, brutal creatures created by the god of war, and the austere Da’Valian soldier Astiand reluctantly agrees to take Neva to his clan under his protection. She makes unexpected friends, including the handsome fighter Emiliand, and a new enemy in the clan’s ruthless leader.
Spying on her guardian, the sly heroine quickly discovers just how deep she has stumbled into a dangerous, developing clan feud.
Will she be able to embrace who she is in time to keep her loved ones safe?
This book is about a race of warriors and contains violent scenes, which may not be suitable for all audiences.
•••
Here’s what early readers of BORN AT DAWN had to say…
“It’s so good!!! I’m slightly obsessed ♥ …I need more Astiand and Neva moments” ★★★★★
“I always wanted to read more and struggled to put the book down” ★★★★★
“I adored the book. It’s unique, and the characters are incredible.” ★★★★★
“The pacing of the plot was one of the things that impressed me when reading this book: from the high-tension beginning, to the way world-building details were strung seamlessly … every chapter left me eager to read more without making me feel as if I was being constantly strung along by cliffhangers.” ★★★★
**On Sale until Nov 22nd!**
Christina Davis was raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and she spent much of her childhood in and out of hospitals, embracing reading as an escape. After being home-schooled through high school, she graduated summa cum laude from San Jose State University and attended NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute before embarking on a decade-long career in journalism. She enjoys chocolate, cosplay, coffee, and board games, but not necessarily in that order. She now lives in beautiful Monterey County with her husband and daughter.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
$20 Amazon