Wednesday, September 2, 2015

SHACKLED by Tom Leveen

I've featured Tom Leveen before, and he always has such super-smart things to say. So when I found out his new book SHACKLED came out August 18, I immediately ordered it for my library system and contacted him for an interview. Have a look:

From Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Pelly has a master plan. After years of therapy, medication, and even a stint in a mental hospital, she’s finally ready to re-enter the world of the living. Pelly has been suffering from severe panic attacks ever since her best friend, Tara, disappeared from a mall six years ago.

And her plan seems to be working, until an unkempt girl accompanied by an older man walks into the coffee shop where she works. Pelly thinks she’s seen a ghost, until the girl mouths “help me” on the way out, and Pelly knows she’s just seen Tara.

Too shocked to do anything, Pelly helplessly watches Tara slip away again as she steels herself against a renewed spiral of crippling anxiety. But rather than being overcome by anxiety, Pelly feels more energized than she has in years. Determined to track down enough evidence to force the police to reopen Tara’s file, Pelly’s master plan takes a turn for the dangerous.

Pelly decides she cannot be shackled by her past—and the anxiety, fear, and grief that comes with it—any longer if she wants to save Tara. But in seeking answers through whatever means necessary, she’ll come face-to-face with true evil. And not all the shackles are in her head...

Tom was also kind enough to answer some follow-up interview questions:

I love that you're addressing PTSD issues in SHACKLED. What inspired the story, and what do you hope teens gain from reading it?

The suspense/thriller aspects of SHACKLED were originally inspired by a strange dollhouse display at the library where I used to work. It had a furnished attic...but no way to get to it. I thought that was an odd detail to be left out, and imagined two people noticing it and talking about who might be secreted away in such a place if the dollhouse was a real house somewhere. That led to a story about a girl being kidnapped while running away from home and finding this part-time library job, which ultimately morphed into the plot of SHACKLED. As for the thematic elements of Pelly's psychological issues, those are completely based on my own experience. After a lifetime of distressing and disruptive symptoms, I've finally been diagnosed with PTSD stemming from some things that happened in childhood; additionally, I had a severe panic disorder for many years in my twenties which has since mostly resolved. Combining those two elements is where the novel finally sprang from.

The greatest stories are derived from personal experiences--and you always bring such unique perspectives to your work. Your last book, RANDOM, had a brilliant tagline: "Not guilty doesn't mean you're innocent." In what ways does this relate to Tori's story, and how did it develop as you wrote it?

The thing about RANDOM that I wish I'd made more clear at the outset is that Tori is, in literary terms, the villain of the piece. She is certainly the protagonist, but she is also a villain. She refuses for most of the novel to accept her role in a tragedy, like so many people do. Whether or not a court would find her guilty of a crime is one thing; whether or not she's morally culpable - whether by action or inaction - is another thing altogether. I did not set out to write a novel about the redemption of a bad guy, and it's "easy" to write from a victim's point of view. I was interested in getting into the head of a villain and trying to figure out her motives. Tori is very young and has a lot to learn; I think the story of RANDOM is only the first step in her learning to accept the wrongs she's done, and how and why she can make better choices in the future.

I like that she doesn't fit into any particular mold--I think that's what makes your protagonists so compelling. In our last interview, you mentioned a possible supernatural YA in the pipeline. How has that project developed since?

Yes! I'm happy to announce that my novel HELLWORLD has been picked up by Simon Pulse for a Fall 2017 release. It basically asks the question, What happens if all literal hell breaks loose and there's nothing you can do about it? A group of teens goes looking for their ghost-hunting parents who went missing five years ago and inadvertently open up a hellmouthy kind of portal that unleashes Lovecraftian monsters into the world. Thematically it's about how we deal with things that we cannot control, like illness or other tragedies. Apart from that, it's a pretty scary horror story!

Oooh, sounds fantastic! Thanks, Tom, for yet another excellent interview!

SHACKLED is now available at Amazon, and you can view and buy Tom's fabulous other books here


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I CRAWL THROUGH IT, by A.S. King

I've been fortunate to feature A.S. King in the past, namely here, and here. With each interview, I learn something new, and this time was no exception. I even won this from thenovl.com:

Notice the helicopter pilot key chain.
Here's some more information about I CRAWL THROUGH IT:

From Goodreads:

Four talented teenagers are traumatized—coping with grief, surviving trauma, facing the anxiety of standardized tests and the neglect of self-absorbed adults—and they'll do anything to escape the pressure. They'll even build an invisible helicopter, to fly far away to a place where everyone will understand them... until they learn the only way to escape reality is to fly right into it.


And here are her answers to some follow-up interview questions!

I love the beginning of I CRAWL THROUGH IT, especially the part about Gustav's invisible helicopter. What books did you read while you wrote I CRAWL THROUGH IT, and in what ways, if any, did they influence the story?

What a great place to start. Surrealism has always been one of my favorite types of writing and when I started I CRAWL THROUGH IT, I hadn’t read surrealist fiction in more than a decade. So, I pulled out a few classics from my bookshelf (Kafka and Burroughs) and then went looking for contemporary surrealist books. The two I enjoyed the most were Daniel Fights a Hurricane by Shane Jones and The Man Suit by Zachary Schomburg. I still read bits and pieces of Schomburg’s book daily. It’s wonderful and very strange. I also swam inside a Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story collection at the time. Magic realism, I know, but some of those stories were completely awesome and messed up. “Eva Is Inside Her Cat” is just so great.


Marquez is fantastic. I've heard his story "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" is definitely worth reading as well. I CRAWL THROUGH IT also explores the pressure teens face. How were you able to tap into these anxieties, and what do you hope readers will gain from reading about them?

I think we all face very real pressures when it comes to violence in our culture. Whether it’s random gun violence or other types of crime, I think all humans no matter their age can relate to feeling anxious at certain times or in certain situations. As for the pressures of standardized testing, I tap into that by talking to teenagers who have to take too many tests—or more saddening, who have to prep for those tests all year long rather than explore education in a a more organic way led by trained and enthusiastic teachers. I guarantee you those teachers do not want to be teaching to tests any more than the students want to be learning to them.

I meet many students who ask me what the answers are to my books—as if there are clear answers to any piece of fiction. They need the answers. It’s for the test. This is a great way to learn about many things. As a math nerd, I fully support trying to find the right answers. But in fiction, which is art, “right” answers are often fleeting, varied, or just not there. I suppose I hope that readers of I CRAWL THROUGH IT realize that if they are in school, stuck doing these tests, they can crawl through it and come out the other side knowing they can be free to think what they want when they are done. They are free to be what they want when they are done. They can finally realize that maybe no one was asking the right questions, especially in a real-world arena where violence and fear are very real…and yet never on the test.


Exactly. I'm reminded of REALITY BOY, and how Gerald's TV life isn't a reality at all. It shows how all your books offer an opportunity to discover the beauty of painting outside the lines. In our last interview, you mentioned that the opening of GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE was inspired by an example of your own writing during a revision workshop. In what other ways, if any, does teaching writing inspire your creativity?

Teaching is fantastic inspiration. Conducting workshops in high schools brings me closer to my teen self because even though I’m well past my teen years, I can see clearly that students today face similar challenges to what I did…and so much more. Interacting with students is always helpful because it reminds me about why I write books with teens in them. I want them to have a voice. I want them to be taken seriously. I had neither of these things as a teen and I think our culture of condescension toward teens is really damaging. So I like to inspire students when I see them in schools, and they, in turn, inspire me.

I recently taught three semesters of grad school at Vermont College of Fine Arts and the effect it had on me was mind-blowing. Not only did I get to interact with other writers for two-week-long residencies twice a year but I got to work with some very talented students who made me realize that I could do things I’ve never tried before. For example, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to write a middle grade book had it not been for my time at VCFA. Also, my 2016 YA book was inspired by a student lecture at VCFA—by a writing exercise. Soon after that exercise, I got the idea for the book and the exercise (an expanded version) is one of the main working parts of the book. That book wouldn’t exist if it were not for that student’s lecture. Teaching opens my mind. I think that in itself is a big plus for any writer.

Indeed it is! Thanks so much for yet another excellent interview!

You can pre-order copies of I CRAWL THROUGH IT using the links below:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Or these other online retailers.

Before I Crawl Through It, Amy's YA novel, Glory O'Brien's History of the Future garnered six starred trade reviews and landed on several end of year best lists since its release in October 2014. Reality Boy (October 2013) was a A New York Times Editors' Choice, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and School Library Journal Best Book of 2013, a Junior Library Guild Selection, Amazon Best Books for October, and a Winter 2013-2014 Kids' Indie Next List Top Ten pick. 2012's Ask the Passengers (Little, Brown October 2012) is a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner, a Junior Library Guild selection, a Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly & School Library Journal Best Book of 2012, an Indie Next List pick and has been called "Another thoughtful, and often breathtaking achievement" by Booklist in one of six starred trade reviews for the book. Everybody Sees the Ants (Little, Brown October 2011) was an Andre Norton Award finalist, a Cybils finalist, and a 2012 YALSA Top Ten book for young adults. Her 2010 YA novel, Please Ignore Vera Dietz was a 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, an Edgar Award Nominee, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book for Teens 2010, a Junior Library Guild selection and a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick. Her first YA novel, The Dust of 100 Dogs, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an Indie Next pick and a Cybil award finalist. Her short fiction for adults has been widely published and was nominated for Best New American Voices 2010. Her short fiction collection, Monica Never Shuts Up is available in paperback and all ebook formats. Amy now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children, teaches  writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program, and is a huge fan of Kurt Vonnegut, corn on the cob, libraries, and roller skating.

Visit her full website here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A NIGHT DIVIDED by Jennifer A. Nielsen

I featured Jennifer A. Nielsen's books earlier this year, and I read THE FALSE PRINCE, which was fantastic. And, wouldn't you know, when I exited my office today, I happened to see this "Book Club in a Box."

Open the box!

I was all set to review THE FALSE PRINCE, but when Jennifer told me the plot of her newest book, A NIGHT DIVIDED, set to debut August 25, I knew it had to take center stage. I even bought some copies for my new library system. (Stay tuned for a review of THE FALSE PRINCE at a later date.)

From Goodreads:



With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can't help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

Jennifer also answered some follow-up interview questions!

In our last interview, you talked about the value of courage. Which of your characters do you feel is most courageous, and why?

Courage is a persistent theme throughout all of my books, and each of my heroes is at some point required to stand and face the thing they fear most. In fact, in A NIGHT DIVIDED, the main character, Gerta, discusses this exact concept with her brother, Fritz. She feels trapped behind the Berlin Wall in Cold War East Germany and mentions to Fritz that she wonders if there is any way to escape. When he asks if she would ever attempt to leave, she says she would only try escaping if she knew she would succeed, because “that’s all the courage in me.” Fritz answers, “Courage isn’t knowing you can do something. It’s only being willing to try.”


Wise words from Fritz. As mentioned above, A NIGHT DIVIDED takes place during the rise of the Berlin Wall. What about Greta's story do you feel will most resonate with readers?

At the heart of the story is Gerta’s desire to have her family all together. Gerta’s father and middle brother are in the west, and if they try to come home they will be arrested. Greta lives in the east with her oldest brother and mother, and if they try to leave, they could be shot. Despite that danger, Gerta feels constantly divided between the east and west.

I think readers will identify with Gerta’s love for her family. We all have families, and while some might struggle more than others, we tend to want the best for everyone in our family circle. Gerta wants that too, and readers will resonate with that.

I'm sure they will! If you could take five books to an island with you, what would they be and why?

1. Scriptures (If I’m on the island long enough I might actually finish it all!)
2. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (The 3 books-in-1 edition, of course!)
3. The Art of War by Sun Tzu (I learn more every time I read that book)
4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Until I have it fully memorized, I can always re-read it)
5. A blank journal, which I would use to write the next book! Better hope I don’t forget the pen!

Thanks, Jennifer! Definitely don't forget your pen!

Links to order A NIGHT DIVIDED are included below:


And for more on Jennifer and her other books, be sure to visit her website: http://www.jennielsen.com/

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

BUTTERMAN (TIME) TRAVEL, INC and INDUCTION DAY by PK Hrezo

After collaborating with her on Operation Awesome, I was excited to finally meet PK Hrezo at UTopYAcon back in June. And when I found out about her Butterman Time Travel Inc. series, I knew I had to feature it:

Welcome to Butterman Travel, Incorporated; a full service agency designed to meet all your exclusive time travel needs. We're a family owned and operated business with one hundred years of experience. A place where you can rest assured, safety and reliability always come first. Anxious to attend some special event from the past? Or for a glimpse of what the future holds? You've come to the right place. We're a fully accredited operation, offering an array of services; including, but not limited to: customized travel plans, professionally piloted operations, and personal trip guides. *Terms and conditions do apply. Use our Web conferencing to contact our frontline reservation specialist, Bianca Butterman, who will handle all your inquiries in a professional and efficient manner, offering a tentative itinerary and free fare quote, so you can make the most of your time trip. We look forward to serving you at Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.

Book One: BUTTERMAN (TIME) TRAVEL, INC.


It’s the year 2069 and even though eighteen-year-old Bianca Butterman is heir to the family biz, she may never see the day her time-craft license becomes official. When a government agent starts nosing around the operation, Butterman Travel, Inc. gets stuck with a full audit—part of a government take-over scheme to shut down all private time travel agencies. Enter former boy band superstar, Tristan Helms, desperate to retrieve a lost item from his past and willing to pay triple fare for a time-trip to get there, and Bianca has to find a way to complete the job and return home before the government gets wind and shuts down the family biz for good.




Book Two: INDUCTION DAY


The year 2069 is coming to a close, and eighteen-year-old Bianca Butterman's time-craft license is finally official. She's ready for the Induction Day she's waited for since she was a kid-the one that will secure her name on the Butterman family tree of time travelers. But ever since the media discovered Bianca is pop superstar Tristan Helms' latest new honey, everything Bianca does or says becomes a target of criticism. Having her professional credibility topping the gossip sites across social media is an open invitation for the government to step in and regulate Bianca's Induction. Now she will have to ask herself if saving 1500 people from drowning is worth losing everything she's ever worked for, including the Butterman family biz.



PK also answered some interview questions:

In addition to writing speculative fiction, you craft pixie ornaments called PK's Pixies. In what ways, if any, do these different art forms inform one another, and what do you like most about each?

I get creative fulfillment from both, but each are so different from one another. Writing requires lots of sitting still and thinking. Crafting lets me move around, work with my hands, and work with tangible colors and textures. Yet they both filter into the other. Taking a break from writing so I can craft opens up my creative vein even more which leads me to story revelations and epiphanies because I'm letting it simmer in the back of my head while I craft. I think sometimes we try to force the stories out, when what they need is time to breathe in between.

So true--must be why writing ideas (and solutions) come to me after I allow myself some mind space. How has the Butterman series grown over time, and in what ways has it informed your writing process?

I wrote the first three volumes fast, and I never expected it to go beyond book 1 when I wrote it. I realized I needed to give Bianca her induction day since it's such a big part of who she is, so I knew if I didn't write book 2, Induction Day, I'd be missing out on really developing her character. I plotted out ID, then got the idea to write a prequel of Bianca's earlier years in diary format and put it up on Wattpad as I went. It gained a large following and was featured there for a few weeks. I ended up with a 30K word novella afterward, and later published it on its own. Writing Diary of a Teenage Time Traveler BEFORE writing Induction Day was huge in so many ways. For one, it slowed me down, and although I hated that, it ended up giving me so much insight into Bianca's character. I knew her inside out by the time I was ready to take on the sequel.

I highly recommend that process for anyone hoping to better their character development. Write a journal in whatever character's point of view you want to get inside the head of and don't force any rules, just write, considering what wounds your character may have that helped developed the way they are and the goals they seek to achieve.

I'll definitely give that a try--especially since character development is something I'd like to improve on. You also have an email list. How have you found this useful in reaching readers, and what would you recommend to authors wanting to start an email newsletter?

I took a marketing class after indie publishing and the biggest take away from it was having that newsletter and adding to it. It differs from all of social media because it guarantees your readers see it (as long as they open the email) whereas social media platforms tend to pick and choose newsworthy info. If you treat your newsletter readers like loyal fans, they'll continue to support your work.

I recommend starting an email and growing it organically. Don't worry about having contests and other gimmicks to get people to sign up for it. You want REAL fans who really are interested in your work, or else you have an email list of people who don't care and unsubscribe anyway. I also recommend sticking to the AIDA concept with your newsletter content.

AIDA is Attention, Interesting, Desire, Action

Get your reader's attention with interesting content and create a desire in them to take action.

I think I need to tack that to my wall! What are some of your current projects?

I've been wrapped up in a narrative nonfiction project for awhile now. It's for a local mom of a victim of a brutal crime, and it's been a heavy project, but it's also developed my writing skills well beyond what they've ever been. Emotion is an enormous element in crafting a story that grips readers, and this story is teeming with emotion. It's really helped me learn how to better convey it, and how to move my reader with ups and downs of real life suspense and heartache and joy.

I'm also just finishing up a contemporary commercial fiction project that I hope to go on submission with in the fall. Here's the tagline for it:

Former fatty finds more than a romance with the plaza handyman when she takes on her health guru's challenge of facing temptation by working in a beachside upscale cupcakery all summer.

Great tagline! 

All books in the Butterman series, as well as PK's other books can be found on her Amazon.com author page.

And to find out more about PK herself, click the below links:

PK Hrezo
 ~Author and Artist~
            
* Follow Me Down the Rabbit Hole *  
     NEWSLETTER WEBSITE  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

HOUR OF MISCHIEF by Aimee Hyndman

Welcome to August! I'm settling into my new job as Youth Services Selector, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that my new library was recently featured on Buzzfeed! I'm so proud to be a part of such an amazing group of collaborators.

On to our August authors! First up is Aimee Hyndman. Aimee and I met when we collaborated on Operation Awesome, and when HOUR OF MISCHIEF found a publisher, I knew I had to feature it.

From Goodreads:

Born in a whorehouse in the slums of Fortuna and burdened with a prosthetic arm, seventeen-year-old JANET REDSTONE doesn’t think she owes the Clockwork Gods anything—which is why she makes a living stealing from their temples. But when she lands her team in prison, making a pact with the God of Mischief, ITAZURA, is the only way to right her wrongs and free her friends.

Janet doesn’t trust Itazura as far as she can punch him, but with her soul in his hands, she has no choice but to do what he says. The clockwork gods and the bad-tempered elder gods of the ancient past are locked in a game of cat and mouse and the human realms are caught in the middle. If Janet can’t somehow convince the gods to step in a save the world, humanity is in an abyss of trouble.

Using her unconventional wits, an impressive tolerance to alcohol, and a strong right hook, Janet has to convince the gods that humanity is worth saving. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more difficult to stop an apocalypse when you’re slowly being driven crazy by the Lord of Mischief, especially when he starts growing on you.

Aimee also answered some interview questions!

According to your bio, you are currently attaining a double-major in Creative Writing and English. What led to this decision, and can you tell us more about your journey toward publication?

I've always loved writing since before I could write actual words. I loved to invent stories with my stuffed animals, usually with dramatic, tragic plots. So I think I always knew I wanted to major in creative writing and since I also love to read, English was an obvious supplement.

I started my journey toward publication back in high school when I queried my first novel which didn't get much attention. I wrote HOUR OF MISCHIEF my senior year of high school and one year later decided to start querying it on sort of a whim when I saw #pitmad happening on twitter. A few months and several email mishaps later, I got the call from the amazing Laura Zats. I signed with her that February and we began to work toward getting the MS into submission shape. Then that next fall she called me again to tell me about the offer from Curiosity Quills Press. I don't think I responded coherently. In fact, the words 'are you serious' were probably used at least five times.

And now we're only a couple months away from publication. It's all happened so fast. It's kind of crazy but I'm SO excited to have gotten to this point.

And we're excited for you! I love the premise of HOUR OF MISCHIEF. How did the idea come to you, and what do you want readers to take away from the story?

The idea for HOUR OF MISCHIEF came to me during my final year at Shared Worlds, a fantasy based writing camp for teens. We were split into world building groups and had to create worlds from scratch. On the very first day, a thought occurred to me: Thief teams up with the God of Mischief to save the world. And it stuck like glue. I wrote that idea as my final short story for camp but 8,000 words was nowhere near enough to tell the story like I wanted to. To me, HOUR OF MISCHIEF is fun even though it deals with some weightier topics. For the first book at least, I wanted the more serious themes to blend well with the humor. There's an overarching theme and message to the series I think, but it's not as prevalent in book one. More than anything, I want the reader to have fun and feel something as they're reading the book. I want them to laugh and panic with the characters. Because the books I attached to hardest were the ones that make me feel something.

Shared Worlds sounds fantastic! (Here's a link for those interested in finding out more about it.) And Janet Redstone, your main character, will definitely resonate with readers. If you could have lunch with Janet, where would you go (and what would you have for lunch)?

I think I would take Janet to a nice burger joint. She strikes me as someone who likes greasy food. She would order too much for her stomach but she hates wasting food so she would eat it all and get sick.

Poor Janet! What are some of your current projects? Will HOUR OF MISCHIEF have a sequel?

HOUR OF MISCHIEF is the first book in a four book series. I recently finished editing book 2, currently titled SEASON OF WIND. As for other projects, I'm working on rewriting my first ever novel (it needs some major improvements). I'm also working on a collaborative Urban Fantasy project with some friends. It’s a pretty massive endeavor so it will be awhile before that is finished!

Sounds like you'll have your hands full! Thanks again for such a great interview.

To pre-order HOUR OF MISCHIEF on Amazon, feel free to click the icon below:


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Going dark in July...

Hi, all. So. Here's the deal. I just accepted a new job as Youth Services Selector for the Sacramento Public Library. There are many good things about this decision, but the best part is that my blog content here will finally match up with my library job! Woo hoo!

Of course, this will translate to a lot of busy--resigning old position, moving from current house, finding a new place to live, etc. So, for my sanity (and yours too) I am going to unplug from this blog during the rest of July. But definitely stay tuned for more interviews in August--I met TONS of amazing people at BEA, UTopYAcon, and ALA, and I can't wait to share all their new and wonderful books with you.

So, adieu for now! See you in August.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

THE COWBOY ROCK STAR by K.C. Klein

I met K.C. Klein through Erin Kellison, who I featured last week. I've also featured K.C. here and here. She has a brand new book out, THE COWBOY ROCK STAR, first in the Somewhere, TX series. Have a look!

Everyone loves a rock star.
What country legend Brent Kane needs is a good old fashioned hook-up. With pressure to write his next album mounting and the sales from his latest album teetering, Brent needs to find his muse –hot sex with no commitment—fast. So when Brent holes up at his best friend’s ranch in Somewhere Texas to write his next single the last thing he expected was to find his muse in the form of his best friend’s little sister.

DJ Diaz, the nonsense part owner of the Double D Ranch, is not at all affected by Brent’s good looks and play boy charm. She’s fallen once before and learned firsthand the heartache of loving a rock star. But spending time with the man who let her down ten years ago shows her that something’s missing from her life—fun.

But will DJ be able to keep her heart from becoming involved in this “just for fun” relationship? And more importantly, will Brent?

K.C. also answered some follow-up interview questions!

Since our last interview, you've penned THE COWBOY ROCK STAR, part of the Texas Sunrise Box Set. How did the book come about, and what about it was the most fun to write? 

This book ended up being life changing for me. A little less than a year ago I connected with a great bunch of indie authors who were interested in doing a box set together. Fast forward numerous ups and downs and curve balls, five of us authors formed a company called the Chick Tales.

The THE ROCK STAR COWBOY has been my funniest book to date. I usually am pretty nervous about writing humor. I think it's one of the hardest things to get across on the page, but the hero in Rock Star, Brent Kane, could be written in no other way. He is pretty full of himself, and yet, at the same time doesn't take himself too seriously. It was really fun writing about some of the crazy situations Brent finds himself in. So even though there are times that the heroine, DJ, may want to choke him, I know the readers will still be rooting for them both to get their happy-ever-after.

I'm sure they will! How did the concept of Somewhere, TX come about, and how is it developing?

Chick Tales published our first box set called TEXAS SUNRISE, in which we created a central town called Somewhere TX. We created all the characters, maps, and timelines for this town and we hope to continue publishing in Somewhere for a long time to come. So yes, THE COWBOY ROCK STAR was life changing for me because from this book, not only did I get great company, but a wonderful group of authors that I now call my friends.

Sounds like lots of benefits all around! Your first book, DARK FUTURE, came out in 2011. What have you learned as a writer in the four years since publication, and is there anything you'd do differently?

Ha! I think the question should be would I do anything the same? I feel like I spent a good portion of the time at the beginning of my career muddled in self-doubt. There was so much time wasted in wondering if I was good enough or wanting to write for the approval of others. I remember thinking that I would live or die by a review left on Amazon or my editor's comments. Not anymore. If people don't like my writing, so be it. If people don't want to read my books, so be it. What I realized is that at the end of the day, I am writing for myself. Which may seem weird since I would love to have millions of fans around the world who love and support my work, but if I am not happy with my book/writing than it doesn't matter what anyone says...I'll never be satisfied. But the flip side of this is true. If I am happy with my work than it doesn't matter what people say because I know that I accomplished the goal of that book and I did it to the best of my ability. In the end, it is my name out there and I have to be proud of my work. Fortunately, when I am happy with a book, readers seem to agree.

I'm so glad you're writing what's true to you, and not caring what others think! What are some of your current projects? 

My latest space opera romance, THE SPACE CAPTAIN'S COURTESAN, is out and has gotten some great reviews. It is probably my favorite book to date. The next Somewhere, TX box set, TEXAS STRAIGHT UP, will be out this July and my book, THE BLACKHEARTED COWBOY, will be one of the five full length novels. I'm excited to see what readers think about the second installment in the Somewhere TX series. THE BALCKHEARTED COWBOY is very much in a different vein than ROCK STAR. It explores some darker themes and has some very emotional subject matter. I hope readers will enjoy it as much as they did my first installment.

To grab THE COWBOY ROCK STAR for yourself, feel free to click on the Amazon icon below: