It All Began When He Stole Her Cherries – Interview with @arawrites

Who doesn’t want to fall in love with a movie star…I mean, for real, and have them totally love you back? I love Ara James’s book Cherries because that’s exactly what happens to her heroine, Lia, during the Sundance Film Festival. Of course, romance is always a wild and harrowing ride, so there are many bumps and bruises along the way–not to mention cocktails and hangovers.

Cherries is a featured story on Wattpad and is currently ranked at #7 on the Chicklit Hot List! I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this amazing storyteller!

Reading tip: This book totally deserves fuzzy socks, a cozy blanket, and some hot cocoa.

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Read it FREE on Wattpad

CHERRIES

Lia has a dream job in Park City as a ski instructor to two amazing young girls. When the girls and their family leave town on short notice, they gift Lia two free passes to the Sundance Film Festival, which makes it hard to stay upset for long. With her best friend Callie in tow, Lia vows to enjoy the festival to the fullest – which includes crashing premiere parties and rubbing elbows with one of Hollywood’s hottest bachelors, Wren Ellison.

A week of carefree partying turns complicated when Callie starts disappearing, Wren pops up around every corner, and Lia realizes that the aspects of her life that she considered most stable are starting to shift out from under her feet.

Lia knows how to handle herself when things go wrong on the mountain. But can she manage when things start to go wrong on the ground?

What sparked the idea for Cherries?

Truthfully – sitting at a bar at a ski resort, bored out of my mind. I wondered: what would it look like to be hit on in a funny way, no sleaziness or blatantly ulterior motives? I first imagined Wren (the leading man) drunkenly stealing cherries from Lia’s drink and being escorted away by a caring friend. When I started writing, Lia’s voice was so strong that I knew the story would be about a lot more than a drunken hook-up. Park City, her job, and her best friend were her world, and I wanted them to carry through the whole story.

In your book, your leading lady falls for a movie star. What movie stars have you fallen for? (I’m a big fan of Thor myself.)

One detail Lia shares with me is her first celebrity crush: John Cusack in ‘Con Air.’ See also: Grosse Point Blank. Nowadays I’m a pretty big fan of Naveen Andrews, John Cho (RIP, Selfie, you were gone too soon), and any of Jane’s romantic interests on Jane the Virgin.

As for Thor – one of my readers envisioned Wren as Chris Hemsworth. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the Marvel actors, honestly. 😉

Are you a pantser or a plotter and why?

When it comes to short stories, I’m definitely a pantser. I’ll start with a scene, concept, or even a first sentence, and just see where it goes from there. Usually I can ride that wave for the appropriate several thousand words, and the story chooses its twists and turns (or so I think). Some stories grow bigger as I write them, and as I go along the skeleton plot I imagined turns into something much larger and intricate.

Cherries was a pretty straightforward story until I took an hour-long drive one day and figured out the finer points of the plot and learned some character background I hadn’t known until then. I scrawled out short notes for every chapter on a giant piece of posterboard as soon as I got home.

True story: There were only fifteen planned chapters. I need to learn some self-control.

If you could write in a different genre than your normal one, what would it be and why?

Although my larger ‘plots’ (they’re not books because they don’t exist yet!) have always been YA or NA, I never really saw myself as a Chicklit writer. I don’t prefer to read Chicklit or Romance – instead, I’m a sucker for fantasy, sci-fi, and epics of all sorts. I would really like to write either fantasy or sci-fi in the future, but as I’ve learned on my latest attempt: it involves a ton of world-building. Since I’m used to figuring out the finer points as I go, I need to sort a lot of these things out before I can dive in as much as I’d like. I got to write a fantasy ‘excerpt’ within Cherries which I really enjoyed! I think half the trick is pretending to be a middle-aged classically-educated British man. Preferably writing during World War II, but that part is optional.

How are we going to celebrate when you hit the best seller list?

Oh man! First I will need a mental health check to make sure I’m not hallucinating. After that, I might need to get some comfy shoes for my happy dance. And finally, it would seem only appropriate to toast with some well-made whiskey sours and some delectable baked goods. You can always tell when I’ve been writing hungry, my chapters will be full of amazing sounding food, and Cherries was a whole year’s worth of writing before dinner. 🙂

The Truth about Big Publishing

A couple of weeks ago, I asked several of my writing groups this question:

If you could ask a Big 5 editor a question about the industry, what would it be?

I had the amazing opportunity to sit down with editors from some of the biggest publishing houses in the world this past week, as well as a few different agents. To be honest, I was a little terrified going into it. I feared I would be viewed as the outsider who self-published, ICK! That couldn’t have been further from the truth. Here’s what they all had to say…

Self-publishing has lost the stigma it has carried for so long. All of the editors were very open to submissions from self-publishers. With that being said, there was still quite a bit of eye-rolling about self-publishing, but that’s fair; there’s a ton of crap out there, and you know it. However, self-publishers who have worked hard to be professional, have invested their own time and money into the process, and have been successful with sales and reviews have a much higher probability of getting picked up by a publisher. Why? Because they already come with fans, and they’ve proven they are dedicated to making writing a long-term career.

Now, that doesn’t mean they are going to jump at the opportunity to REPUBLISH your self-published work. I wouldn’t count on that at all unless you have hit the sweet spot of sales numbers. By sweet spot I mean your book has sold enough to prove it’s marketable but still hasn’t exhausted its market.

But for new work going forward, it is a good idea to let them know how your self-publishing endeavors have fared. Unless, you know, your sales numbers have been abysmal. You should probably keep that to yourself.

You asked. They answered.

Here are some answers to specific questions:

Where do you see big publishing houses in 5 years especially in light of print on demand and eBook options?

This was incredibly interesting to me. We all know the tides of publishing have changed. Barnes and Noble is really the only bookstore left standing, and the big publishers are all working together to help keep them standing. It’s only a matter of time before major print runs become obsolete, and big publishing is bracing for it. For the time being, in an effort to keep Barnes and Noble afloat, one publisher told me they won’t buy your book if they know Barnes and Noble won’t buy it. She even went so far as to say she has incredible, future best sellers from proven authors stuck in a drawer because it’s not what is marketable at the moment.

The lesson from this for you? Remember this when you get those rejections. It doesn’t necessarily mean your book isn’t publishable.

Why do literary agents think they are worth such high prices?

There were some amazing literary agents at this event. And the biggest realization I had is: ALL AGENTS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL. Some, like the ones I met with, don’t stop at simply selling your work to publishers. They help with branding, marketing, planning, editing, brainstorming…the list goes on and on. They would certainly, in my opinion, be worth their commission.

On an almost-unrelated note, Janet Reid wrote a great article over the weekend explaining this. You should read it. Why don’t big name authors just self-pub and make more money?

Does self-publishing a good product that gets good reviews (though not stellar sales due to limited marketing reach) negatively or positively impact how they view potential authors?

The literary agents I talked to said they pay most attention to the reviews. Publishers and agents realize new authors don’t have a platform to market to right away. An existing platform is certainly a bonus, but they are realistic about newcomers to the business.

Would you change your mind, if you knew I was a ghost writer for three of your best-selling authors?

I didn’t ask this one specifically because it doesn’t apply to me, but it was clear whatever experience and credentials you can present will help your query stand out among the masses.

Are you willing to work with authors who publish with multiple companies and also self-publish?

This was an overwhelming YES which completely took me by surprise. I think everyone I talked to actually encouraged hybrid authors because traditional publishing still takes (at the very minimum) a year to get a book into print.  Hybrid authors can self-publish in the interim to keep their platform “hot” and active. I hope it goes without saying that the self-published stuff needs to be up to par with the quality of the traditionally published work or this just won’t work.

What type of story or voice gets you excited? What tense/person do you prefer for fiction/fantasy?

This definitely varies from person to person, genre to genre, and is heavily dependent on the target audience.

Do they simply look at the story itself or do they take a close look at the author themselves?

They look at both, but as I said before, they are very realistic when it comes to new authors. They focus heavily on the MARKETABILITY of the story, not just if it’s good or not.

What I Learned

  • The best thing I took away from all this was the big, scary, intimidating mask I’ve always seen on the big publishing world was stripped away. These editors are amazing. They’re fun, down to earth, and incredibly kind and gracious.
  • Attending conferences is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL if you want to publish well. Even if you’re self-published–no, especially if you’re self-published. Why? Because you’re your own publisher, and you need to keep up with the big boys. Learn all you can from them if you want to compete.
  • Barbara Vey is amazing. You should look her up. She’s the queen of selling yourself as an author, in my opinion.
  • Always carry business cards. (Thanks, Barbara!)
  • Liz Pelletier (CEO & Publisher) of Entangled Publishing is brilliant. If you ever get the chance to sit in on one of her lectures, DO IT. You’ll thank me later. (Side note: I’m convinced Entangled is an excellent publisher who is on the cutting edge with hybrid authors. They accept unsolicited submissions.**)
  • Choose your literary agent wisely. A big name can be far less valuable than someone who is willing to get in the trenches with you and be a huge advocate for your work. Check out The Seymour Agency.
  • Join writers’ associations like RWA, Thriller Writers of America, etc. If I heard this once, I heard it a million times from everyone at the conference. Publishers and agents want to know you are invested in this business.
  • Sourcebooks is a great publisher particularly for Wattpad writers. They accept unsolicited submissions and don’t require the author to remove the story from Wattpad**. (Funny story. My friend Juliet Lyons just signed a 3 book deal with Sourcebooks, and her editor was one of the editors I met with! Small world!)

I’m forever grateful to The Seymour Agency for providing me with such an amazing opportunity. I can’t wait until next year!

**Note: I have not worked with these publishers. I’m only giving my overall impression. ALWAYS DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

Beyond the Dark Clouds – My Night with Stephen King and John Grisham

Yesterday, I told you the story behind why I chose to self-publish. My reason for sharing wasn’t to brag or to get sympathy and praise. I simply wanted you to be able to FEEL this story…

One week before I received the bad news about my cancer diagnosis, I flew to Nashville for my best friend’s birthday. I was still recovering from the biopsy surgery with a big ugly incision across my neck where they removed a tumor the size of a foosball. I wasn’t doing so great mentally because cancer’s bark is even worse than its bite, in my opinion. Not knowing was the worst part, and that day I had 2 hours of solitude to obsess over it.

And the flight was terrible, figuratively and literally. The sky was black and ominous with the deep rumble of thunder and bright flashes of lightning. It was like a scene from a Stephen King novel. (Ha!) At one point during all the turbulence, I thought for sure the plane was going to break in half and cancer would no longer be an issue. But then something amazing happened. We broke through those dark clouds, and on the other side was blue sky. Bright, blue, sunny sky.

I don’t get philosophical or overly spiritual very often, so believe me when I say I know God spoke to me. “You’re in the middle of the dark clouds, Elicia, but blue skies are on the other side. I promise.”

I have tears as I write this.

That was February. A couple of months later, in the middle of chemo, I bellyflopped into self-publishing with The Bed She Made. And in November, I published my beloved book, The Soul Summoner and it went to #1, right up there with Stephen King.

This moment meant so much more than just ranking against a superstar author.  Stephen King wrote a book called On Writing that I read religiously once a year like I belong to some weird one-woman cult. In that book he talks a lot about writing honestly. Specifically, he says to write “without regard to what the Legion of Decency or the Christian Ladies’ Reading Circle may approve of.” I never intended to publish The Bed She Made because of its content. I worried about offending people. I worried about hurting feelings. I really worried about making my mother cry.

But Stephen King told me every single year: WRITE HONESTLY. So I tossed The Bed She Made out into the giant sea of readers…and she floated. 

Needless to say, Stephen King is a big deal over here in the Hyder house.

Now for the story you’ve been waiting for.

Two weeks ago, my husband, Chris, came home from work and said, “Did you know Stephen King and John Grisham are going to be at some writers’ conference near Tampa in a couple of weeks?”

I shook my head. “That can’t be true. If it was, I would’ve heard about it.”

“Seriously, my buddy’s wife is working it. He said she might be able to get you in.”

I immediately began scouring Google. I was right and very wrong. They were coming to Florida, but it wasn’t a writers’ conference; it was a benefit for a library foundation. A small event. A sold out event that I couldn’t afford to go to even if I could get tickets. My brain started spinning. Could it be possible that I might get in?

But reality quickly began to settle. The event was on a Tuesday night, two hours away from home. The kids had mid-term exams. My husband would be working in Washington. Heartbroken, I told Chris to thank his friend profusely, but I didn’t want them to go to any trouble since there was no way I could make it.

He didn’t listen to me.

A week later, he was working in D.C. when he called me on Skype. The conversation went something like this:

“I need you to not make plans on Tuesday. You’re going to Bradenton to meet Stephen King and John Grisham. I’ve arranged for the kids to be taken care of, and your best friend is taking off work to go with you.”

And I cried like someone had just died.

Stephen King is my husband’s most favorite author. We own all of his books, most of which I’m too scared to read. And even though my husband couldn’t go, he moved mountains so I could. Did I hit the marital jackpot or what? Eat your heart out ladies, he’s all mine. I love you, babe.

There is no doubt in my mind that everything happens for a reason, which is why I told my self-publishing story before I told this one. Had I not been diagnosed with cancer, I wouldn’t have self-published my book. Had that tumor not been malignant, my husband would still be a cop and we would never have met the awesome people who made this night happen. Had I not gone through chemo, I never would have made this amazing new sister-friend who went with me. She was my oncology nurse–she literally saved my life.

Elicia Hyder

How beautiful is the view of hindsight? You never know what brilliant light may be waiting on the other side of your darkest, most ominous and terrifying moments. You could be on the verge of all your dreams coming true and you just don’t know it yet. Never give up hope. Blue skies await.


On January 19th 2016, a boggling mix of Chris Hyder, Wendy and Eric, fate, a library, and Jesus made one of my biggest dreams a reality.

I got to tell Stephen King this same story and thank him–in person–for helping me get to that #1 spot just above his book. He hugged me and said “Congratulations.”

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He was totally gracious and laughed when I showed him the screenshot of our books on the Amazon best seller list.
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Then the photographer said, “I want to get a photo of the three best selling authors,” and I was sandwiched between Stephen King and John Grisham, cheesing like my preteen daughter at a One Direction concert. They are the Elvis and John Lennon of the literary world, after all.

Stephen King, John Grisham, and Elicia Hyder

THANK YOU to everyone who made this night possible: Chris, Wendy (the awesome photographer), Eric, Rena, Luis, Becky, Natalie, Stephen King, John Grisham, my kiddos, and the Manatee Library Foundation. And THANK YOU to everyone who has read and supported my books over the past six months. Who knows? I might not be here without YOU!


GIVEAWAY

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You Just Missed It! The Giveaway has ended.
I’ll be doing another one soon. If you want to be alerted about the next giveaway & get a FREE book, just click the following link:
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Photos by Wendy Dewhurst at www.blahblahblahonline.com/

 

One Year Ago Today – Why I Chose Self-Publishing

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… 2015 sucked. And it was awesome.

On this day one year ago, I was an unknown and unpublished author (im)patiently waiting to hear back from the three literary agents I had queried for The Soul Summoner. If you’re unfamiliar with the publishing process here’s a super-condensed 101:

  1. You write a book.
  2. You send letters to agents trying to interest them in your book.
  3. You get rejection after rejection after rejection.
  4. If an agent is interested, they might read your book.
  5. If they read your book and like it, they might offer to represent you to publishers.
  6. Then agents try to interest publishers in your book.
  7. And occasionally a publisher is interested enough to publish it.

Last January, I was at step two in the above process. I never heard anything back from two of those agents. But on February 5th I got a message from the third one. They loved my book.

Whoa.

Two hours after that conversation, I got a phone call from my doctor (at dinnertime, which is never good) that went something like this, “We think that lump on your neck is cancer. I’m sending you for more tests first thing in the morning.”

I made a LOT of very emotional phone calls that day. And, unfortunately, I received my cancer diagnosis a couple of weeks later: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage 2.

So much for publishing. Ugh. I had to try and not die and stuff.

In the middle of chemo, I decided to bypass the above process altogether and self-publish another book of mine. Maybe you read it. It’s called The Bed She Made. I self-published for two reasons:

1. I needed to start finding some fans who might eventually buy The Soul Summoner when it was published.
2. Honestly, I was afraid I might die and never see my books in print.

Well…something quite unexpected happened. The Bed She Made hit #1 in New Adult Women’s Fiction on Amazon and held the #1 slot in ChickLit on Wattpad for months. Wattpad gave it an award in November, and this month it will break a million reads. Oh, and between free and paid sales on all the major online retailers, it’s been downloaded around 50,000 times. I still can’t believe that nonsense.

I finished chemo in June, then went through three weeks of daily radiation treatments. In September, I started receiving offers from publishers who were interested in FINALLY publishing The Soul Summoner. BUT…I turned them all down and self-published it as well.

WHY? Am I now suddenly opposed to traditional publishing? Absolutely not. At the time, however, none of the offers were better than what I could do on my own.

And I was right. Two weeks after The Soul Summoner’s release in November, this happened:

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The Soul Summoner hit #1 in Psychic Suspense and Paranormal Suspense. And check out who was in the #2 slot!

Now, I had to tell you that story to tell you the next story…you know, the one where Stephen King took a picture  with me holding that screenshot up there:

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The whole story is coming this week with pictures and video from my night with Stephen King and John Grisham. Stay tuned because you might even win your own autographed copy of Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham!

And as for my health, I KICKED CANCER’S ASS.

2016 has certainly started off with a bang! I can’t wait to see where this journey goes.

The Bed She Made – The Back Story

Ever since The Bed She Made was released for publication, I’ve gotten a LOT of questions. The most prominent question has been, “Is this about you?”

Well…

Yes. And no.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

The Bed She Made is probably the closest thing I will ever write to an autobiographical novel without it being autobiographical at all. If you know much about my personal history, you will easily be able to spot the similarities between the protagonist and myself. Let’s go over a few:

  • Just like the story’s protagonist, Journey, I was a wild child in high school. My hair was short, always colorful, and sometimes shaved. I wore tie-dye and combat boots and opted for a skin-tight leopard print for my high school prom. (Not that I do any of those things anymore, *ahem.)
  • My best friend was the high school quarterback, and we went our separate ways because he wanted to be a cop and I was into the drug/party scene. This is our picture together at his graduation (aren’t we adorable?):

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  • I spent nine months in rehab when I was eighteen as opposed to Journey’s 30-day program.
  • My best girlfriend has really been 6’1 since middle school. She’s still my BFF after all these many years.

meg

  • My first husband died when he was 25 years old, but he was not a police officer. He was killed TEXTING AND DRIVING. Please, please, please don’t text and drive!
  • Steven’s character is sort of a hodge-podge of all the dysfunctional boyfriends I had when I was young.
  • I still live in Nashville, TN. My sister is here as well.
  • My father never shot and killed any of my old boyfriends, though I’m sure he considered it.
  • I married that high school quarterback in 2012, and we are living happily ever after. He’s a cop and he’s still in the military.
    elicia_chris2

The biggest similarity is the relationship between Journey and her parents. Like Journey’s parents, my mom and dad are ‘staunch Republicans, successful small business owners, and devout Southern Baptists’. We had a very strained relationship when I was younger. Thankfully, our relationship has been restored and my parents are now my closest allies.

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The story found in Chapter 7 “Daddy Issues” is very much a true story. I had been in trouble with the police and I was forced to return home with my parents. My dad “made my bed” that night.

The Bed She Made is close enough to my real life that it was very painful but therapeutic to write. Most of it, however, is straight-up fiction and the majority of the characters were birthed out my crazy imagination.

Oh… and yes, I have a phoenix tattoo, but I didn’t draw it myself. I have the artistic ability of a giraffe with a set of Crayola markers:

phoenix

If you haven’t already done so, please consider reviewing the book on Amazon. It helps me get advertising and it helps others find this story.

Review it now: https://www.amazon.com/review/create-review?ie=UTF8&asin=B00X1UHR48

The Emotions Thesaurus

Whenever I give writing advice, one tool I often refer to is The Emotions Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. It’s an amazing little book filled with appropriate body language, feelings, and actions concerning all sorts of emotions in your characters.

Today, it’s companion book, Emotion Amplifiers, is FREE on Amazon, so grab it while you can! Here are a couple of (affiliate) links.

 
 

Me, Myself, and I hate Pronoun Abuse #writingtips

Earballs (n) plural : : The part of your brain that ‘hears’ what you are visually reading.

I want to talk about pronouns. Specifically, I want to address the ever-confusing REFLEXIVE PRONOUN. Like my beloved semicolon, there is much abuse in the Reflexive Pronoun world. We’re all going to take a giant leap toward ending Reflexive Pronoun abuse!

What is a Reflexive Pronoun? Myself, Himself, Herself, etc.

For now… I’m only going to focus on Myself. Because if you can master “myself” you can figure out all the others by YOURSELF. See what I did there?

Me – Me is an object pronoun. Me is always used as the object of sentence. In other words, the VERB is happening TO ME. You can remember this by asking, “What is happening to me??”

She gave me the cookie.
He ran beside me.
The dog chased me.

In all of those examples something is happening to ME, making ME the object of the action.

I – I is a subject pronoun. I am always the subject of my own sentence because I am the master of my own universe.

I like cake. Who likes cake? I do.
I am a writer. Who’s a writer? I am.
I would like you to learn about pronouns. Who would like you to learn? I would!

Myself – Myself is a reflexive pronoun. It is used ONLY in conjunction with I. It is used to add emphasis and/or REFLECT back on the subject of the sentence. And WHO is the subject?? Duh, I AM.

I did the job myself.
I propped myself up on the pillow.
I, myself, did all the work.

*******************

<BEGIN RANT>

Now, I’m  going to rant about something that bugs the bejeezus out of me in fiction writing. It’s when authors using reflexive pronouns like this:

I found myself standing before the king.
I found myself in a lot of trouble.
I found myself confessing my hatred for pronoun abuse.

Grammatically, this is perfectly correct.

But figuratively, it makes me want to claw my earballs out.

It’s like the character has suddenly woken up from a coma. “What the f*@% am I doing here!?!”

But… that’s a personal thing for me. Technically, like I said, there’s nothing wrong with it. Just know: if I ever read your work and come across this phrase used in any other way than a character going on an Eat-Pray-Love-type journey to “Find Themself” in a very spiritual sense, I’m pointing and laughing at you.

</END RANT>

*******************

What about that tricky little conjunction “AND”?

“And” always seems to screw up the best of us.

Carol and I went to the store.
She sang louder than Debbie and me.

How do you keep those straight? Drop what’s on the other side of the conjunction and decide what makes sense.

I went to the store. (Me went to the store, is just plain dumb, right?)
She sang louder than me.

Want to point and laugh at me? Here’s an actual example from my published novel, THE SOUL SUMMONER:

He was a bit older than Adrianne and myself, maybe twenty-two, and he had a sweet, genuine smile.

That was published in the first edition. And it’s wrong. 🙂 Nice, huh? Made it past my editor and 6 proofreaders. The correct form of that sentence would be:

He was a bit older than Adrianne and me, maybe twenty-two…

Eeek! Even reading that now, it hurts my earballs. Why? Because it sounds wrong. Why does sound wrong? Because Americans don’t speak good!

Apply the rules above to determine which word to use:

Who is the subject? Not I. He is.
If the subject is anything or anyone other than “I”, YOU CANNOT USE MYSELF.

What happens if I drop what’s on the other side of that conjunction? I’m going to remove Adrianne and see what happens…

He was a bit older than ME.

Ahh… that makes perfect sense. Right?

Clear as mud, are we?

The Brits Don’t Have ALL the Good Historical Fiction – Blue Honor by @KWilliamsAuthor

This year has been tough physically for me. If you’ve been around here for any amount of time, you probably know I battled cancer. Do you know what kept me going through those dark days of chemo? Books. Surprise, surprise, right? The author loves to read. Shocker.

Well.. I don’t like talking about ‘favorites’ because I have a lot of author-friends whom I love and respect more than life itself, but I’m going to tell you about MY FAVORITE book that carried me through chemo. It’s a little gem called Blue Honor by K. Williams.

About the book…

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Blue Honor tracks four tightly twining families during the American Civil War. Each member is asked to sacrifice more than their share to see friends and loved ones through the terrible times. The only certainty they have is that nothing will be the same.

Emily Conrad is the bookish daughter of a wealthy dairy family from Vermont. Her indulgent father has educated her and bred ideas that aren’t acceptable to her more urbane mother, who thinks Emily needs to settle down with her longtime friend and town philanderer Evan Howell. The outbreak of war frees Emily from these expectations for a time, but a stranger soon arrives after the guns begin to blaze, threatening her plans more than societal conventions ever could.

Devoted to the young woman who healed her wounds, Henrietta has become part of the Conrad family, hoping that she may one day see her husband and son again. As a runaway slave, she’s been lucky enough to find this slice of peace in Vermont, but the return of Evan Howell and the man he brings with him portends great change that might see her locked back in irons, if not executed for what she’s done.

Evan isn’t as bad as his reputation has made him out to be. He knows his chum Emily will make the best doctor Vermont has ever seen, and he knows he’s not the man to marry her. With a little manipulation, he convinces his commanding officer, Lieutenant Joseph Maynard, to take leave with him and see the beauty of the north. He just doesn’t let on it’s not hillsides and streams he’s setting the man up for.

Joseph has both power and privilege as the son of a Baltimore lawyer, but neither can guarantee him the things he wants in life. His commission in the army is likely to lead to death, a sacrifice he was willing to make to end slavery in the States—that was until he saw Emily Conrad. Torn between duty and desire, Joseph struggles to stay standing for that which he once held strong convictions. War weary, they all march on to duty…


I was so excited that she agreed to be interviewed on my blog. It was a total fangirl moment for me! So without further ado…

Author Interview with K. Williams

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One of my favorite things about Blue Honor is the attention to detail you put into the history of it. I felt smarter for reading it when I was finished! What is that process like for you? Do you have formal education in history or are you just a history buff who studies it for pleasure?

That process is probably a little insane, but it works for me. I have a lot of background in history, growing up in a house with a veteran and being surrounded by history, history buffs and other vets. I’d say that had an influence on how I proceeded in life.

For my undergraduate studies, I minored in European, British and early some American history. I majored in English, reading a lot of British Lit, but also Native Lit and some American. When I got to my master’s program, I had already done 99% of the work on Blue (and those studies focused on political history of the US and Film; emphasis on race and gender). I pretty much wrote the story and kept my resources handy as I wrote. I knew a great deal about the history/period, but specific details and dates had to be looked up. I’d look those up as I went along, as needed, so it wasn’t overwhelming the story.  Some materials you read end to end before getting started so you have a base to work with, and others you use as secondary information for the tidbits, or to fill in any cracks. Ken Burns’ work The Civil War had a huge impact on me, helping me to focus my story and understand the period.

Being from North Carolina, the majority of the books I’ve read about the Civil War have been from a Southern perspective. Blue Honor is told from the perspective of the Union side with a few characters who seem to carry the traits of the best of Southern and Northern ideals without being Confederate sympathizers. What influenced the decision to put your leading characters in a slightly gray area?

Well, Vermont is very much a Northern place, as I see it—even more so than New York. They were the first state in the Union to outlaw slavery. They also had a large black regiment. Vermont has always been on the cutting edge of progress. I think that’s quite exemplary of what has been labeled Northern ideals. That said, there isn’t anywhere in the States that you can go where you don’t find people with traditions, although the South is stereotyped as ‘down home traditional’. Northern or Southern, Americans have traditions and they also want to progress. I think those common core ideals of humanity reign true throughout all people, despite how we want to paint them, in order to either feel superior or suit some other need. Privilege, for instance, is at the root of a lot of misunderstanding. We take for granted that our perspectives on life and the world are universal, or that the United States is singular in every aspect, when that is not at all the truth. I remember a colleague who, many years ago, was asked if they had corn in France—well corn is grain to Europeans, but he knew what she meant by it (maize), and responded with equal surprise that they indeed did. That is how privilege works, it precludes us from realizing how very similar all of humanity is, and that because someone is from outside the US borders that they’re not a rube living in rudimentary conditions. Despite cultural quirks here and there (like calling orange soda pop in other states, or Sprite a lemonade in the UK) we’re all on the same page, all trying to live and be happy.

That’s why the gray area, bad guys don’t wear a certain color, although it feels that way at times, and good guys are not always in a ten gallon white hat. Striking realism requires a balance, hence Joseph’s refusal to abide abuse and slavery despite growing up with that institution at his doorstep, while his father is a little more passive about the matter due to age and his legal career, and Mr. Oates is aggressively pro slavery, believing Africans were not human or deserving of equal rights. Mr. Oates is not all of the South, because you have Joseph there denying that. Likewise, you have Emily and her mother as opposing forces and even some of the folks in Vermont aren’t all that keen on blacks, despite the state voting slavery out. Other than that, the grayness can be found in the fact that things change. The way we view events, current or past, changes with the experiences and knowledge we gain in life, and are really defined by the context of the temporal. One overarching idea/thing may be at the heart of an event/view, but it is dotted with many other ideas/things. That’s called intertext and that is a fascinating subject I love writing about.

One of my favorite characters is Henrietta, a runaway slave who is rescued by the Conrad family. Is she based on a real historical figure?

Henrietta is completely fictional. I struggled a great deal with writing her. How can a white girl from privilege ever understand the struggle of this woman? How I approached her came from a couple of places. The invasion of Afghanistan by Taliban forces back in the 1980s changed that state forever. Up until that moment, they were quite a progressive country. You can see pictures from the 1950s-1970s of many of the Middle Eastern States prior to the rise of fascism there, and they don’t look at all different from the United States at the time. Many of the countries are on par with the west still, despite terrible poverty (we have that too). Anway…I was given an article to read about these changes in my junior year of high school. It illustrated what was happening to the women in the region. Prior to the takeover, women were lawyers, teachers, doctors, all kinds of professionals, but then that was banned upon pain of death. I read about refugees and I read about one woman who had been a doctor. This doctor lay down on a cot, faced the wall and expired. She willed herself to die because she could not accept this change and give up her former life. They would have executed her if she continued to practice, as she could not run away and resume her life in another place—but, imagine being forced from your home or accepting the decimation of your equality. Hettie was derived from the emotions that I had in that moment, wondering what it would be like if I could not write again because the laws of the country were changed and women were forbidden such things. My guts ached and I cried for this woman. I empathized so deeply with her plight. My empathy deepened as I continued in my career, facing rejections and insurmountable obstacles in my path. Had a man written Blue Honor, would it have taken me so long to get it published? So many articles are written on this topic and it’s a very real struggle. Secondly, would they have labeled it romance, as they were wanting to do—waring between the label of literature and romance. This has also been written about extensively. Much of women’s writing is dismissed to Women’s fiction and Romance simply because women wrote it, and it has very little fit in those categories. Blue, in my estimation of the work and intent I put into, deserved a more proper label that it didn’t achieve because of the gender of the author. My fear is that readers will be disappointed in the work, because it doesn’t fit the romance parameters they’re expecting. Being mislabeled, misrepresented if you will, is agonizing. This experience with gender bias also helped forge Hettie. It was the closest I could come to the kind of suffering she experiences. That said, I’d love to see her discussed in classrooms and beyond, as those around her as well as herself expose the nuance of privilege and race. Maybe in that she’s representative of many historical figures, both known and unknown.

How are we going to celebrate when you hit the best seller list?

Probably with a ‘fat dinner’—cheeseburger and fries from Five Guys or maybe a Hattie’s Chicken shack run. Chill out with my dog, Sadie Sue and relax for a bit.

Where to Find K. Williams on the WWW:

Website: http://authorkwilliams.com/

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6033812.K_Williams

Booktrope: http://booktrope.com/book_authors/k-williams/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/K.-Williams/e/B002YFZ018/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1443571721&sr=8-1

Kinja: https://kinja.com/kwilliams0603

deviantArt.com: http://kwilliamsphoto.deviantart.com/

Stage 32: https://www.stage32.com/profile/36578/k-williams

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/KellyWilliams701

International Thriller Writers: http://thrillerwriters.org/connect/profile/2579

It began with the Third Reich… – Marrow Charm by @Krazydiamond07

Have you ever read something, heard a song, or watched a movie and thought, “Dang… I wish I had thought of that”?

That’s how I feel about Marrow Charm by Kristin Jacques, a.k.a. KrazyDiamond. (Yes, she likes Pink Floyd, I asked.) Apparently, a lot of other people loved this book as much as I did, and it was a 2015 Watty Award winner! Keep an eye on this new author, folks. This chick is going places!

marrowRead it FREE on Wattpad!

Magic runs bone deep…

In a world overrun by monsters, humans struggle for survival underground. Magic is feared and reviled, but rooted deep in the bloodlines of families, cropping up once a generation. These individuals are cast out, banished to the Above where humans are far, far down the food chain.

When her younger brother is tainted by magic and forced to the surface, Azzy follows, determined to save the only family she has left, no matter what he becomes.

Check out this prologue. OMG.

It began with the Third Reich.

Magic suffered a slow death in the minds of mankind, supplanted by the cold steel of the industrial age and the callous march of science. Long forgotten were the warnings, the rules, and the boundaries that must not be crossed.

In his desire to bring the world to heel, the Führer broke them all, combining his mad science with the darkest depths of sorcery. No one believed his experiments would wake something in the ether. No one thought he would bring something through the Gate. Not even he did, caught off guard when the abyss stared back. A vision of a new world sank its claws into his mind and drove him insane.

As nations allied against him, turning the physical tide of battle, the Führer opened the Gate to the waiting void, and put a bullet through his temple. The dark magic rolled over the world, twisting the natural order, creating abominations and mutated versions of the wildlife. It sought out the hidden potential in human bloodlines, transforming millions into monsters.

Humans toppled far down the food chain, hunted and preyed upon by a world in chaos. Desperation drove them underground, huddling in ramshackle settlements deep in the earth. For generations, mankind scratched out a living in bedrock and darkness, fearful of magic, fearful of what it did to their neighbors, and loved ones.

Willing to do anything to keep it out.

Author Interview with Kristin Jacques

Marrow Charm is fast-paced, high intensity adventure fantasy. It has a very elaborate plot, one that I’ve not seen done before. Where’d you get the idea?

May sound cheesy, but I did indeed have a dream. Or more accurately, a crazy nightmare that woke me up at 3:30 in the morning. Instead of going back to sleep, I whipped out the laptop and started writing. The premise came later, when I realized I wanted the setting of this world to be a twisted version of Earth. The idea of Nazi’s dabbling in the Occult is based in history. That is the flash point. The actual story begins a few generations after the event with a fully changed world.

Your world-building skills are well defined, so I think it’s safe to guess that you’re an avid reader. Who are some of your favorite authors that have influenced your style?

Some of my favorite authors are Tamora Pierce and Terry Pratchett, both masters of world building, with massive story lines that take place in their created universe. It is fair to say I am also heavily influenced by Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman. Fantastic story tellers and both authors have a knack for entwining magic with reality.

I get asked a lot how I balance life with writing. Honestly, I don’t do it very well. 🙂 You’re a wife and mother with a full-time job (or two). How do you find time to write?

There are days it happens and days it doesn’t. There are good weeks and bad weeks. You steal moments where you can, sacrifice a bit of sleep here and there, and combine tasks, like snuggling with a laptop while your little ones watch a movie with you. My best writing time is after the school bus comes, before work. The weekends are a free-for-all but if you are passionate about writing, you make the time no matter what.

How are we going to celebrate when you hit the best seller list?

First Item: Living Room Dance Party.

You can find Kristin Jacques on the WWW at:

Cursed Times, Now What? by @lina_hanson

I read Cursed Times-Now What? in about two days. I loved it! Being that I sort of feel like a brainless writer–meaning that I would love to write historical fiction if I weren’t so lazy–I was blown away by the amount of research and attention to detail that Lina put into this book. Rightfully so, this book was awarded a 2015 Watty Award out of 75,000 entries! Congratulations, Lina!

Cursed Times – Now What? by Lina Hanson

From Pyramids to Standing Stones; from the high-tech 21th century Earth to a parallel past full of magic: ‘Cursed Times’ follows the adventures of an extraordinary woman. Trueth, last of the European witches (or so she thinks) sets off on a vacation from hell which starts in an underground temple and goes downhill from there. Together with her new-found friends she solves a 5000-year old riddle and, as a reward, not only gets heart-broken but stranded in an alternative Egyptian civilization.

The place is as full of magic as it is lacking in decent showers. Instead, there is evil lurking just below the surface of the Nile and Trueth will need to embark on yet another world-saving adventure. One that hopefully does not end with a romantic shipping-wreck…

CursedTimes2Read it FREE on Wattpad!

What sparked the idea for the novel?

I’m fascinated by history. Especially the long bloom of the ancient Egyptian civilisation has me intrigued and I read tons of novels over the years. I read less about the witchhunts but I’m still intrigued at what sparked this outburst of inhumanity. It felt natural to combine the two and throw in a lot of humour, which is another thing I like a lot. And cats. Must have cats!

I get  the impression you’re a big traveler. Is it safe to assume you’ve visited the settings of the book?

I have been to Egypt several times, and I lived in Britain and worked in tourism jobs. I really know the country very, very well.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Hm. I use the Scrivener corkboard function to plan the plotline and I plan each chapter in terms of purpose, characters, conflict etc. But things change. A lot. It’s an organic process. I need to have a view of the characters and the purposes and rough outline though. Based on that I’, probably a plantser or potter. Or whatever a hybrid would look like.

I’m a fan of Terry Pratchett and you might notice it. Not in terms of style – I would not remotely aspire to his levels. But I love to couch my opinion of certain ongoings in our world into fiction. There are some clear ‘messages’. I dare say the novel is still highly enjoyable.

If you could write in a different genre than your normal one, what would it be and why?

I shifted from fantasy to paranormal to adventure. I believe I’m writing fantasy adventures. My secret ambition is to write cozy mysteries with a fantasy touch, lighter than the Cursed Times series. Let me just finish this one and I’ll be off on that project.

How are we going to celebrate when you hit the best seller list?

Not sure. I think I would do what I did when I won a Wattys Award – just stare at the screen and go ‘Nah, not possible.’ And then just continue. And secretly be very, very happy. And hope I get tons of money so that I can do some good for at least a few of all the people suffering in this world!

Find Lina on the WWW at:

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I’m Getting DRUNK ON LOVE with @natmarieauthor

If I were to pick a Wattpad author who I think has a similar style to my writing, it would be Natalie Marie, hands down! I love this book. It’s easy to read, it’s fun, and it’s got a love story that will make your toes curl.

Drunk on Love by Natalie Marie

Something old: Her ex-boyfriend, Casey. Something new: His gorgeous wife, Julia. Something borrowed: A slinky, black dress. Something blue: A pair of eyes staring at her like she’s crazy.

Somehow Becca Felix tricked herself into thinking that going to Casey’s wedding was a good idea. It wasn’t. In fact, it was beyond terrible. Not only did she make a fool of herself, but she woke up with a killer hang-over and in bed with his best friend. Cue the awkwardness and watch the sparks fly.

This is a story about letting go, hanging on, realizing who you are and why fate should always come with a pair of blue eyes.

natmarie2Read it FREE on Wattpad

What sparked the idea for Drunk on Love?

Drunk on Love actually started life out as a short story. I was a year out of college and found myself amidst wedding season and several friends starting the next chapter of their lives with their special someones.
There were always reconnection with new people, old acquaintances and a slew of quasi-wedding dates. Becca and Nick’s story was born.

Your book starts with your MC having to attend the wedding of her ex-boyfriend. Oh, the horror! Have you or would you do this?

I have not attended an ex’s wedding, but I have been to a wedding or two where ex’s of guests or the bride or groom were present. It’s the nature of a close knit group of friends and college town I suppose. Would I do
this? I’m not sure. I guess I’ll know if the opportunity presents itself.

I know I tend to weave in parts of my personality into my female lead characters. Do you see any of yourself in Becca?

I think inadvertently there is a bit of me in all of my characters, and my friends for that matter. Like me, Becca enjoys what she does for a living, is close to her family and is a closet romantic.

Are you a pantser or a plotter and why?

I’ve tried honorably and adamantly to be a plotter. I have almost OCD-like tendencies in other parts of my life, but aside from very blurry scenes and general plot lines I can’t force my writing. I’m a pantser through and through.

How are we going to celebrate when you hit the best seller list?

This is mind-boggling to even think of this happening. I picture a signing with big cardboard character cutouts and drinks all around to celebrate. Just enjoying the moment with everyone who helped inspire me and make it possible.

Find Natalie Marie on the WWW at:

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