Books I & II of The Lova Chronicles is available now!

The Lova Chronicles kicked off with The Earthen Shroud in August 2013!

Want Your Book to Read Like a Movie?

Check out my book trailer and see how I did it!

Author Book Signing

I've only done this once, but I had the time of my life! You can too; see how.

Food-Inspired Art

Check out my guest post on Notebook Blogairy about how food inspires my writing.

Pages From My Diary

I started a new blog series: awesome, intimate, legendary.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Kyra Gregory

I am so pleased to present this Soapbox Spotlight today--because this installment of Spotlight is my 100th post!  Today's Spotlight author is Kyra Gregory, a YA fantasy novelist from Malta.  She is here talking about her latest work, Secrets Clad in Light.

Welcome, Kyra!  Tell us about yourself.

I'm a young writer from the island of Malta. As I write and self-publish, I'm studying to become a teacher for early years. My family says I've been writing since a very young age; this developed from short stories to fan fictions, lyrics for a bands, and novels. I have a real passion for reading manga (Japanese comic books), and they're probably the only thing that can steal me away from writing.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I was always picking out my favourite moments in things I'd seen or read or even things I'd felt and then making a story out of them. I was always reading; story-telling seemed quite natural to me at the time. Years later, I was writing lyrics to a song a friend of mine had composed; you could say I had been caught because I'd had no intention of showing them to him. From then on, I was continuously encouraged by him to keep writing lyrics. I did so but my passion was always more in prose so I kept writing stories, first with fan fiction and short stories and novels later on.

What inspires you to write and why?

Plenty of things inspire me and I think the only thing they all have in common with each other is that they evoke feeling out of me, a deeper emotion. A lot of my stories are very much character-driven which I find enjoyable because everyone is so unique; their feelings and actions to a situation, different combinations of people make completely different stories and I love exploring that. An issue that needs to be talked about is something that inspires me to shed some light on it in the most relatable way possible.

Tell us about your latest work. Can you share a little of it with us?

It could be said that I got a lot out of writing this story. It was achieving a massive goal that I'd had set in my mind a long time ago. I had wanted to write a story in 19th Century London, my favourite period, but found it so incredibly difficult. It's a moving and mysterious story.

London,1888. Henry decides to abandon all social conventions and rescue his lover, Seth, from an abusive household. He has replayed the moment in his head and has always known it wouldn't be easy. He has never thought that it would be Seth who would cut his time too short. With Seth barely breathing, Henry must make the hardest decision of his life: try to save Seth, possibly condemning him to a life of suffering, or let him pass on in peace. But the arrival of a young stranger forces Henry's hand, doing little to ease his qualms of uncertainty as everything he thought he knew changes.

Caught between self-doubt and his own selfish desires Henry learns to fight it all, using this stranger as a light to shine on what he hopes is the right path... All the while aware that there is still so much he doesn't yet know...

That sounds interesting! Can you tell us a little about your main character?

Henry knows what he wants and prepared himself for all the consequences that would come from trying to get it, but when the circumstances change and things don't go as he's imagined, he is instantly lost. He has enough self-awareness to realise that his desires can border selfishness and this makes making decisions extremely difficult for him. He's also a very caring, loving character but he's not trusting by nature; that kind of conflict within him gets him into a lot of trouble.

How did you develop your plot and characters?

They developed almost all by themselves to be perfectly honest with you. I first came up with the idea for this story when I was completing Lady in Red; there were two characters in that novel that I wondered how they would have developed had the circumstances been a little bit different. After many failed attempts at writing a story effectively in 19th Century London I chose to try again and once I developed the circumstances for Henry things went on from there. There was little intention for the story to become as mysterious as it did. The character Mary became unlike any other character I had written before; she was more mysterious than I thought she would be, even to myself. I felt intrigued by her but she also scared me. She definitely made writing the story a challenge but absolutely exciting at the same time.

It's amazing and wonderful to watch your characters become real people with depth of personality!  Do you feel you have you developed a specific writing style?

I would say that I've developed a writing style that suits me best, but I don't think I could quite describe it even if I wanted to. I suppose the reason is because I always adapt it to whatever I'm writing at the time. Since I write so many different genres my writing style changes to suit the story. For Secrets Clad in Light, I wrote in a way that I don't think I have before in order to suit a period in which I had never written before. Historical fiction is tricky because you need to try to make the dialogue suit the time but also keep it understandable for readers. I worked with my style to try to find a balance in that.

How do you come up with new novel ideas?

I'm inspired by so many things, but usually my novel ideas come from a character. Sometimes I would want to experiment with a character and their qualities, and I start to build a story around them. You could say it's like a puzzle because frankly I don't know where the bigger ideas come from sometimes. It's very much like putting together a puzzle without knowing at all what the end result will look like until I'm further into the writing process.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I would have to say I'm a plotter. I don't particularly try to be but the thing is that I often have plenty of novel ideas in my head at one time and I consider it a shame if I were to just let them disappear like that. While writing a novel I begin scribbling a few notes for another story; by the time I'm ready to start that story I already have one or two others in my head. In order for me to effectively keep all the feelings and scenes pertaining to a particular story in the right place I've learnt to plot things efficiently. This doesn't mean that things don't change or that I keep myself confined, spontaneity is good for the soul after all, but it definitely helps. It also means that I write stories a lot faster which I'm happy about.

What do you love about independent publishing?

For how much work it is it's all worth it for me. I tried traditional publishing and it never happened because there were problems from the start. I'm a control freak; I want my hand in all aspects of my projects. I have a vision of what I'm creating and I'd like to stick to that vision. It's not as though I won't accept others opinions but it means that in the end what closest fits my vision will be what I decide to do. There's no one around to tell me "you can't do that" and I love that.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Still writing, definitely. Writing, being able to write like this, means the most to me right now so I hope that in five years time I hope I'd have even more time to devote to writing. After all, the thing I'm most passionate about is the thing I want to do all the time, no matter how tough things may get.

Thanks for joining us, Kyra!

Thank you so much for having me!

You can find Kyra at the following links:

You can find Kyra's book at the following links:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Book-to-Movie Classics: A Christmas Carol

In the festive spirit of Christmas, I wanted to be able to talk about a movie that I, and maybe you too, watch every year.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens has been rewritten and remixed a million times.  You see the multiple variations on Hallmark Channel, GMC and ABC Family.  I've even written my own version of the classic story.  Everyone has their favorites, but I'm going to share mine here today.

First, let me say the novel is fantastic.  It is a classic you cannot go your whole life without reading; I read my well-worn copy every year.  "The Marleys were dead to begin with; dead as a doornail."  What a way to start a story, and literally that is the very first sentence in this novel.  Dickens manages to be both inspiring and frightening simultaneously in this tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a decrepit and greedy miser.  He has alienated his nephew, the only member left of his family, and ostracized anyone else who was remotely interested in getting close to him.  His focus is to spend as little money as possible and ignore the plight of those around him, even his faithful clerk, Bob Cratchit, who has a very sick young son.  The story is set in the early 1800s, although I've seen it modernized in several variations.

I have three favorite movie translations of this classic story.  The first is the George C. Scott version (1984).  I love it primarily for its brilliant acting, as evidenced by the clip I've included for you here.  But also, it reflects the true heart of the story.  Scrooge doesn't convert too fast, and is deliciously delightful to hate!  The screenwriter and director have done a wonderful job of sticking as close to the original story as possible while adding a theatrical element that keeps you from getting bored.  The music in this movie steals the show!  Man, whoever directed the orchestra in this film knew how to evoke an emotion!  The drama is played perfectly; you even catch yourself laughing at the disillusioned Scrooge and his crude, "hum bug" disposition, especially when he's being mocked.  If you liked that clip, you can watch the whole version here.

Disney, being the wonderfully talented animators they are, put out their own version of this classic tale in 2010.  It is available in 3D, as well as standard DVD and Blu-ray formats.  It stars none other than the fabulously versatile Jim Carrey, whom I also loved in Disney's How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  He has a knack for capturing a character and accentuating their strengths and weaknesses.  Jim, also being a comedian, has added the traditional humor to the story in places you wouldn't have expected it, but shows he can also be terrifyingly mean in Scrooge's notoriously dramatic speeches.  Reminiscent of Tom Hanks' turn in The Polar Express, Carrey plays multiple parts.  In addition to Scrooge, you will see him as the Ghosts of  Marley, Christmas Past and Present, and young Ebenezer.  I will warn parents that although it says Disney, this movie has some very stark and frightening elements that could scare or be too adult for younger children.

My absolute FAVORITE version of this book (and ultimately, my favorite Christmas movie PERIOD) is The Muppet Christmas CarolYes, it's the Muppets, which immediately makes it a musical, but this, in my opinion is the best version for children.  Like the previous two movies I've mentioned, it too sticks very closely to the story, but of course, livens it up in a way no previous story could ever do it.  After all, it's the Muppets!  Who can tell a story better than the Henson crew?  The Great Gonzo takes the helm as Charles Dickens, narrating the story almost verbatim from the original text of the book.  You can't get more classic than that.  The DVD offers an extended version, too, that has some songs and scenes the theatrical version lacked.  It also has a "making of" featurette, but if your kids are anything like mine, they won't want to know the Muppets, or any puppet for that matter, isn't actually a real person (haha!).  Kermit and Miss Piggy are the humble Cratchits and Michael Caine stars as the infamous Ebenezer.

Now, I have neglected to include Scrooged (1988) with Bill Murray.  I watch this whenever it comes on, and I do love it, strays too much from the traditional version for me.  That's a good thing when you think about this movie and how it was done, and primarily it's purpose is to be humorous.  Even the scary parts turn out to be more funny than frightening.  But I love it because it makes me laugh.  Alfre Woodard is a brilliant Cratchit spin, and this is one of Bobcat Goldthwait's best appearances.  Again, there's just too much going on here for this to be one of my favorites, although I do love a good comedy.

Happy holidays everybody, and find A Christmas Carol that you love this season!  Don't forget to tell me all about it :-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Michelle Robinson

Welcome to another Soapbox Spotlight!  Today's guest is Michelle Robinson.  Michelle was born and raised in Oakland, CA. Oakland’s rich culture has laid the fabric for this story. She’s been doing hair for two decades. As a hairstylist, it’s safe to say she has also served as a therapist to her clients. She has heard and witnessed it all right behind her styling chair. From her experiences, she’s given advice to many and has watched people’s lives transition. With this driving force, she has finally penned her first novel, Right Before my Eyes.

Welcome, Michelle!  Can you tell our readers about yourself?

I love music. Compassionate. I’m a great friend, daughter, cousin, girlfriend, hairstylist, poet & thinker. I am a humanitarian. My belief is you owe it to life to give to others. I have a high moral background. I am a dreamer. As long as you have a dream, life should keep you busy. I am a believer that all things are possible. I’m also an artist so I creatively think outside the box. I’m a go-getter so I don’t take no as an option for me. I’m organized to the point that I can’t function in confusion. I can be the life of the party & also like spending time alone. I also love taking naps.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since authorship?

It’s important to have a great editor.

Isn't that ever true!  What was your path towards publication like?

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had two friends that were writing books who I could call on for help, referrals and advice. So I literally had to learn the steps along the way.  I prayed a lot, developed more patience and had to lean on my own understanding through this process. I had bad luck with two different editors. I learned that your editor should have a degree in English not Journalism. I ended up having to proofread my own book twice before I submitted it to my publisher because my second editor couldn’t spell or take criticism. But he fell in love with the story, gave a lot of compliments about my writing and gave me advice to write in past tense. I had to figure out that in order to get my book cover the way I dreamt of it, I had to hire a photographer and the models, so I did and my vision came to life.

How do you balance your life as an author with your duties as a business person, employee, parent and/or spouse?

I go to bed at a reasonable hour. That allows me to wake up a little earlier than I need to so that I have time to myself. I start my day praying and reflecting and then head to the gym or go for a walk. I take a day off during the week dedicated to writing. I run my business on the other four days. Weekends are for church, family, friends and fun and if not, then I write!

What can we expect from you in the future?

More books, maybe a movie.

What is your best advice for getting past writer's block?

Don’t end your writing at the end of a chapter. Stop in the middle of the sentence. That gives you a good jump start and get the creative juices flowing on the next time you begin writing.

Great tip!  I'll have to try that.  What was the best writing-related advice you ever received?

To just keep writing.
Thanks for joining us today, Michelle!

You can find Michelle at the following links:

Twitter: @BooksbyMichelle
Fan Page:

You can find Michelle's book at the following links:


Barnes & Noble:


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Yvonne Harriott

Thank you for joining us today on Soapbox Spotlight!  I hope you're getting your turkey ready!  Today's featured author is Yvonne Harriott, a romance author from Canada.  She's here to talk to us about her latest work, Cat 'N Mouse.

Great photo!  Tell us more about you, Yvonne.

Well, I’m from Canada, and a member of Romance Writers of America.  I love to read. Writing is my passion. I always have a book with me. Since I purchased my Kindle back in February, I can now carry over a hundred books with me. I love to travel and I have a sweet tooth. Lay’s potato chips are my Achilles Heel.

What inspired you to write your first book, and what was it?

I’d written a collection of short stories over the years. Most of them were written for contests. Some have won and placed in contests. One particular short story entitled, “The Wedding” was published in Today’s Blackwoman Magazine, September 2001 issue. I compiled all the short stories that I’d written and divided them into two collections – a romantic and a dramatic collection. “The Wedding and Other Short Romantic Stories” – the romantic collection was the first book that I published.

What inspires you to write?

My imagination...just about anything. If I read an article in the paper or see something unusual on the street, whatever it may be, my mind is instantly thinking how can I incorporate it into a story. A perfect example…on my way into work last week I saw a woman, great shape, tanned and fit with long blond hair. She was wearing a black bustier (she was spilling out of it), black shorts and rubber boots walking a pit bull at seven o’clock in the morning. That’s a story waiting to be written.

Haha, nice!  How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I started off with a diary when I was very young and kept a journal, from there the fiction side developed. I would make up these stories and write them down.

That's very similar to how I started!  Do you travel much concerning your book(s)?

I try to vacation and visit the places where my books are set. If I can’t then the Internet is the next best thing. I was in Chicago back in June so my next romantic suspense or some of it will be set in Chicago.

How do you deal with rejection?

A big bag of Lay’s potato chips and a bottle of water. Then I move on.

My vice is ice cream.  What are your current writing projects now?

I’ve just started research for my next romantic suspense novel, Hit ‘N Run. Hit ‘N Run is the final book in the “N” series. I don’t even know if I should call it a series. After I wrote, Hide ‘N Seek, I couldn’t let go of the detective, Samuel O’Malley so I gave him his own book in Cat ‘N Mouse. Hit ‘N Run is Sydney’s story. She was a character in Hide ‘N Seek, living in the shadow of her sister. I hope to make her shine in Hit ‘N Run.

How did you come up with the title?

I can’t start a book or a short story without a title. Nine point nine times out of ten, the title I choose I stick with. I may have the story idea but my fingers don’t hit the keyboard until I have a title. That’s how it was with Cat ‘N Mouse. I know it’s weird.

Very interesting!  Can you tell us about the main character?

Alexandria ‘Princess’ Prescott is one of the most exciting characters I’ve ever created. I had so much fun bringing her to life on the page. She’s a daddy’s girl, stubborn, a little self centered, spoiled and rich. She’s also living a double life. One of my reviews on Amazon pointed out that she matures as the story unfolds. That’s so true. There is a transformation with her character and I think that’s when you fall in love with her.

Sam O’Malley, what can I say about Sam? He hates rich people and he’s a perfect match for Alexandria. He’s a control freak with all sorts of issues. He was shot in the line of duty and it messed him up. There are a lot of things going on with him that he needs to work out through out the story, yet he spends most of it in denial. Alexandria is the perfect love interest for him because she pushes him to his limits, constantly testing him.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

My characters are always going through some kind of drama or crisis, but it all works out in the end. Some times because of what the characters have experienced in their past they have emotional issues. The message is – it doesn’t matter what you are going through you can make it. Don’t let it take you under. Just hang on. There is quote by Franklin Roosevelt that says, “ When you’ve come to the end of your rope tie a knot and hang on.”

What do you look for in a cover?

It has to be sexy and eye-catching. From all the feedback I’ve gotten from Cat ‘N Mouse, it definitely did that. I believe that once a book cover catches your eye you have to pick the book up. I have a fantastic cover designer, Brian Da Silva

Thanks for joining us, Yvonne!

You can find Yvonne at the following links:


You can find Yvonne's books at the following links:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Susan Noble

I am so pleased to be able to share another Soapbox Spotlight with you this morning: Ms. Susan Noble.  Susan is a woman after my own heart, writing anything that moves her.  Her popularity, however, spawns from a fantasy trilogy called "The Elemental".  Please join me in welcoming her to our site!

Tell us about yourself, Susan.

I am a stay-at-home mom, so I basically divide my time between raising my two children, volunteering at their schools and writing. I love magic and dragons so it just seemed natural to start writing about them. When I am not writing, taking care of the kids (or my husband and three cats), I try to find time to read.

How long have you been writing?

I have always been a writer. As a child I wrote short stories and poems. In high school, I wrote for the student newspaper and liked it enough to make journalism my major in college. However, it wasn’t until after college that I began working on my first novel, Summoned.

I got a similar start.  What first attracted you to this genre?

I have always liked stories of people with extraordinary power, whether it was magic, telekinesis or some other power that average people didn’t have. And of course since I love dragons, it was easy to decide to write fantasy novels.

Does the writing get easier with each new book?

Since I have been working on a trilogy, I would have to say that yes, it gets easier writing each new book. I already know most of the characters so it feels very familiar to keep writing about them. In fact, Tosh, the main character from The Search is also one of the main characters from my The Elemental trilogy so it was a breeze to write, too.

Do you consider yourself a pantser or plotter?

I would say a little of both. I do plot out a rough outline but then as I write I don’t always stick with it. I let the story develop and just try to go with the flow.  You never know where your characters will lead you.

I feel exactly the same way.  What about the title; how did you come up with it?

The title for The Search came pretty easily. The STACs, which a telepathic cats that can sense people who possess elemental power, have been on the search for the one person destined to save the Land.  They refer to this as “The Search” so that of course became the title for this short story. 

What are your current writing projects?

I am just finishing up Destiny, the third book in my The Elemental trilogy. It should be out by the end of this month. After that, I will begin work on a stand-alone book called Alexandria.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I would say write because you love it. And don’t take criticism to heart. Not everyone is going to love your writing no matter how good it is.

Your writing space: neat or messy?

For as organized as I am in most parts of my life, my desk is awful messy. I just hate filing so everything ends up in piles on my desk.  And there is always at least one notepad sitting out for me to write down other things I need to do.

That's so true for me, too!  What genre of books do you read, or do you stick with the genre you write in?

I of course read fantasy but also enjoy romance, mysteries and suspense.
What do you do to unwind and relax?

Reading is my favorite way to relax though I sometimes don’t have enough time to do that.  I also like to watch a little TV sometimes. Once Upon a Time and Arrow (hmm, both fantasy based shows) are my favorites.

Haha, figures!  Thanks for joining us, Susan!

My pleasure, Ray.  Thank you for having me!

You can find Susan at the following links:

Readers can find more about me by visiting my blog, Into Another World, ( or by checking out my author page on Independent Author’s Network.  (

You can find Susan's books at the following links:

The Search can be purchased exclusively from Amazon.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Tallis Piaget

Thank you for joining me for another Soapbox Spotlight!  Today's guest is Tallis Piaget, author of Black Boogiemen.  Tallis has spent most of his professional career as--get this--a biochemist, but has spent the last two years honing his creative writing skills.

Tell us about yourself, Tallis.

I am the author of the critically-acclaimed book, Black Boogiemen.  I am the executive editor of the Insight2Incite Magazine, as well as a co-host of the Insight Radio Show.  Though Black Boogiemen is my first published material, I’ve has been refining my craft for over 20 years.

I have undergone strenuous training in proper scientific, technical writing, and I’ve written creatively for years.  These two skills culminate into a unique writing style that’s leaving readers unable to close this book.  I am now earning my Masters in writing and plan on becoming a college professor.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Yes I do.  In my fifth grade class I was introduced to an idea called “creative writing”.  Before then, I only remember writing papers in more of an essay format (i.e. book reports, history papers, civic papers etc.) Well, in this creative writing class, we were shown how to free write, and we were encouraged to create our own worlds with our words.  I loved it!  Not only did I love it, but I excelled at it.  My teacher constantly commended me on my writing and imaginative mind.  The rest is history.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

The hardest part of writing is the editing process.  For a true writer, writing is actually quite easy.  It’s having to reread your work and seeing all of the mistakes that’s agonizing.  Also, getting the critiques from your beta readers can really hurt your feelings.  So the editing process is the most arduous part of the writing process. 

Did writing this new book teach you anything, and what was it?

Yes indeed.  If it is one thing I learned from writing this book, it is that we can truly do anything we set our minds to.  I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but for some reason I believed it to be out of my reach and more of a dream.  So accomplishing this writing feat has shown me that I can truly reach the stars if so choose.  I can truly live my dreams.
What is your greatest strength as a writer?

My greatest strength as a writer would be my analytical skills (intellect), and my ability to relate to almost anyone, and my unique way of thinking.  That relator skill allows me to build characters that leap off of the page and cause the reader to feel as though he knows my characters personally.  My analytical skills allow me to build scenarios that seem plausible and believable as opposed to situations that lack a logical flow.  And my unique mind forces me to think of stories that are extremely original which is important for any good author.   

Can you tell us about your main character?

My main character is Dr. Branch.  He is a PhD biochemist that was raised in the worse parts of the inner city.  He grows to become a world renowned scientist and of course leaves the impoverished community in which he was brought up.  He soon suffers a horrific calamity which causes him to become the leader that this country so sorely needs.  His tragedy becomes the catalyst needed to morph him into one of the most powerful people in history’s tomes.  He is somewhat a genius, he is a prolific speaker, and he believes himself to be extremely honorable.  Mainly, Dr. Branch truly represents the dichotomy of man: a really good person, that can do some really bad things.

How did you develop your plot and characters?

This may sound weird, but the plot developed as I wrote.  There were times when I didn’t know what my characters would do next or where the story would go… I merely listened to the muse whispering in my ear and wrote the information I attained from her sweet, wispy voice.  Amazingly the story coalesced into the finished novel “Black Boogiemen”.   Apparently my muse was at the top of her game while speaking to me :-)

What genre of books do you read, or do you stick with the genre you write in?

I prefer sci-fi and fantasy.  The worlds those writers build are just majestic, and it is such a pleasure visiting those ancient, mythical realms or visiting those distant future planets.   I do force myself to read non-fiction; I consider that exercising my brain.  But I prefer to read some good fiction.  

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

The hardest part about writing this book was airing black America’s dirty laundry.  When a person expounds on their ethnic group’s issues, usually they are ostracized and are considered pariahs.  The older you get the more you realize that people hate to hear the truth.  Though this book is fictional it is still filled with tons of truth.  To write some of the horrific statistics and to divulge some of the inner city machinations was really hard to do.

Would or have you considered writing in another genre?

Absolutely… I am an original thinker, I can not confine myself to one mode of writing.   So I am writing a mythical book, and I am also working on a great scifi novel.  I do not want to bore people with the same ideas over and over.  So I try my best to think outside the box.  I want to be known as a prolific writer and that will never happen if I stick to one genre.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There is certainly a message in my book.  It is actually a universal message.  It basically states that if the proletariat ever wants their lifestyle to improve they must be the ones to initiate that process.  To expect the government to change anything is being naive.  It’s the systems job to keep status quo, and if we the people want a better life we will have to be the ones to get it.  We can not wait for any outside source to help us, we should and we can rely on ourselves.

And one final message is that each individual has the power to be something great, they just have to believe.

 Thank you for joining us, Tallis!

You can find Tallis at the following links:

Facebook and twitter name is simply “Black Boogiemen”.
Blog website:  
Book’s website:
You can find Black Boogiemen at the following links:
Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Monday, November 5, 2012

10 Tips to Better Blogging

Blogging is hard.  There is certainly a joy in it, and writing blog posts helps me hone my writing skills.  But I needed to know how to make my blogging better and more efficient.  I took a blog course and conversed with my fellow bloggers.  Then, I took a good hard look at my blog and evaluated my style and desires.

Here are some tips I used to make my blog better.

1. Focus your content.  What are you writing about?  Sometimes, this question is better posed as What do you like?  That's what I asked myself when I started this blog.  I knew I wanted to share my writing experience, with my readers and with other writers.  And I knew I wanted to talk about books I was reading.  I also love movies.  So I developed features that revolved around these topics.

2. Be consistent.  You don't have to blog every day, or even every week if you can't find the time.  But be sure that you are consistent.  Humans, readers especially, are creatures of habit.  They want to know the next time they can find new content on your site.  On Soapbox, readers can expect an author spotlight every Wednesday, author tips on first (sometimes second) Mondays and Book-to-Movie Classics every last Friday.

3. Monitor your page views and statistics.  Readers don't always subscribe to your site, nor do they always comment.  Some are reading from RSS feeds, Twitter notices and Facebook posts. The best way to gauge your progress is by monitoring your page views and other blog statistics your host site provides on your dashboard.  From there, you can see what topics interest your readers most so you can continue building on your popularity.

4.  Guest blog.  You can often increase your readership by guest blogging.  The best way to get guest blog appearances on other sites is by offering them.  Many bloggers are willing to do guest exchanges so that both bloggers get exposure.  Google the topics you love to discuss on your blog and find other bloggers who write about the same things.  Then offer the orchestrator an opportunity to write a guest post on your topic.  If you're an author, like me, most other authors are looking for new venues to promote; offer them a feature on your site and typically, they offer an exchange appearance on theirs.  Remember to include the link to your blog or website in your post!

5. Add visual cues.  Each post you create should have some sort of visual.  Even during National Poetry Month--when I post my and other poets' prose--I always include a picture that I think accurately reflects the emotion of that poem.  When I first started this blog, it wasn't very visual at all.  I was just writing stuff I felt, hoping other people cared (haha!).  But I started researching other blogs, especially the ones with heavy readership, and I realized that the ones I liked most had colorful pictures and videos.  In this age of technology, we tend to want something interactive and eye-catching to keep our attention.  Beautify your post with attractive images, and watch your readership grow.

6. Be passionate.  I said in Why I Write that passion is essential to garnering a strong readership.  Of course, I was talking about authorship at the time, but it applies to blogging, too.  Blogging is writing, just on another venue.  The same passion for what you do needs to be present in your blog as well as your other writing; otherwise, why would anyone care?

7. Streamline.  Make things easy on yourself.  Use a blog host that allows you to schedule your posts ahead of time.  I only create posts on Tuesday mornings so that all my time isn't consumed with writing blogs.  It also helps to know what topics you're going to write about ahead of time.
     7a. Developing steady features can help with this task. I get asked all the time how I come up with topics. Like I said in the first tip, once I narrowed down the subjects I wanted to talk about, I created features that reflected those subjects.  I love books, so Soapbox Spotlight and RJS Reviews feature new indie authors and books I've read.  I love to write so I try to share the benefit of my wisdom in my Author Tips feature.  And movies are my guilty pastime so each month, I rate movies based on novels in my Book-to-Movie Classics.

8. Create backlinks.  I did it all throughout this post! Creating backlinks to your topics and posts, both in your own blogs and in guest features, is an easy and efficient way to build your SEO (search engine optimization), and gives your readers quick links to other related topics.

9. Mind your titles.  You want your topics to be easy to find on search engines.  Try to make your post titles simple but catchy.  It is this title after all that search engines are perusing, and it can make all the difference.  For example, one of my first blogs was about the correlation between suffering and aesthetic genius that hardly got any views.  After I changed the title and added a few pics, that post became one of my most popular blog posts to date.  Most blog hosts give you the option to change your post title, even after it's gone live, so you have more than one shot at it.  Make it count.

10. Do it because you love it.  If you're blogging just to advertise or make money, you're in the wrong business.  It is the rare occasion that an independent blogger can make a living running their own site.  The ones that do invested a lot of capital in order to hire writers, web designers, and IT techs.  If you're anything like me, you are not that person.  You need a heavy readership to garner any real money from ads and solicitation links, mostly because only a small percentage of internet viewers (something like 7%) click on relevant advertisements.  So until you get some outrageous daily view counts (something in the ball park of thousands), don't sweat the money.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: J T Baroni

Thank you for joining us for another Soapbox Spotlight!  Today's guest is my good friend J.T. Baroni.  He has written an amazing horror novel by the name of The Legend of Rachel Petersen.  I was given the honor of reviewing the book, so what a fitting way to start our Halloween...

Welcome, Jim!  Let's get right to it.  Your main character is Christian Kane, a journalist who writes a novel about a creepy ghost girl after being inspired by a cemetery tombstone.  Needless to say, I'm seeing quite a few similarities between you and your character.  Were these references intentional or mistakenly transposed?

Being an avid outdoorsman, I had stumbled upon a lone grave in the middle of the woods, and thought to myself, “How strange! Why did this person end up out here?” Talk about inspiration! A story immediately came to mind, which I was compelled to write.

Now, if you read the blurb on my book, “Outraged when The Pittsburgh Post Gazette overlooks him for a promotion, 39 years old Sports Writer Christian Kane quits and moves to the country to write fiction. Inspiration flows from a grave he stumbles upon in the woods. Driven, he compiles The Legend of Rachel Petersen, a fascinating and horrific story revolving around the dead twelve-year-old girl laid to rest beneath the weathered tombstone. His book quickly becomes a best seller, which Hollywood then turns in to a blockbuster movie. Kane becomes rich and famous, but does Rachel Petersen become more than a figment of his imagination?”

You will see these references were definitely not a coincidence.

The Legend of Rachel Petersen is an incredible blend of humor and suspense, a rare talent for sure. How do you achieve this?

 By using everyday occurrences, I strived to make this novel touch on every one of the reader’s emotions, feelings, and senses. I want readers to feel Kane’s anger when he was not granted the well-deserved promotion, and to feel the love between the Kanes.

This happily married couple has a sense of humor, so I also wanted a few chuckles, for an example, when the choking partygoer coughed up the stuffed mushroom appetizer that bounced off Shelby’s forehead. While on the other hand, readers will wince at the maggot-infested, gut-wrenching stinking rotting corpse, while wondering when Rachel will show her evil little face next.

Most writers fit into one of two categories: pantsers, who write only when inspired by an idea (and are typically identified by a desk covered in post-its) or plotters, who tend to organize their thoughts and story lines in well-graphed notebooks or bulleted Word files.  Which best describes your style?

My writing style would be a ‘plotting pantser’, minus any post-its or notebooks. I keep it all in my head, when inspiration makes me write. I don’t use an outline; instead, I write a few pages and then I edit that, and then I write some more pages and re-edit every word from the start. Each time I sit down to write, I usually start reading and editing from the beginning of the book until I’m at least five chapters into it.

I also like to envision my story mentally as if I’m watching a movie, and then I do my best to describe the scenes and characters by putting words to paper.

The movie thing resonates with me; I do that, too!  You mentioned your book took a year and a half to pen. Was that length of time due to research, and what else lengthened your writing time?

Having a daytime job is a huge, but necessary, burdening obstacle in this starving artist’s life! Add to that, a family, a dog, gardening, hunting and fishing; all take time away from the typewriter.

Not only did I research The Civil War for correct dates and places, I found it necessary to go online and brush up on my grammar and punctuation skills. The Legend of Rachel Petersen is the first book I have ever written, and I have been out of school for three and a half decades. I had forgotten what a dangling participle was.

Writing this novel is one more item scratched from my bucket list.

A portion of your book proceeds go to Leader Dogs for the Blind. I know that charity is dear to you; can you tell our readers more about that?

I am donating a portion of my book’s proceeds to The Leader Dogs for the Blind, located in Rochester Hills, Michigan. This organization has been training Leader Dogs and sponsoring them to blind people, free of charge, since 1939, and they have achieved this amazing feat all from donations. The reason I want to donate to Leader Dogs is because my older brother, Gene, blind since birth, is currently on his third canine companion. In addition, I am the Vice President with the local Lions International Club.

I know all too well, both their generosity and the impact of their invaluable services. Furthering that statement, I also understand first handedly how strongly the visually impaired faithfully depend, trust, and rely on their dogs, whereas Gene is on his third leader dog.

Thanks to everyone who helps support my cause! Raising a puppy to Leader Dog status is extremely expensive, averaging forty five thousand dollars per sponsored dog.

Thanks for joining us, Jim!

I would also like to give a big hug and a thank you to Raynetta for reviewing my book and having me as a guest on her beautiful blog!

RJS Book Review
I was a little nervous about reviewing The Legend of Rachel Petersen, typically because I tend not to like horror books.  Unless you're Stephen King, they're just not scary.  If I'm going to bother picking up a genre book, it had better deliver what that genre should--for horror books, I want to be scared.  It's a simple as that.
Let's just say Rachel Petersen delivered--in a BIG way.  There were significant moments in the book where I literally jumped.  Baroni's imagery is so vivid that you found yourself right there with the characters, running from a phantom through the woods or desperately brushing crawling bugs from your body.  The suspense was phenomenally breath-taking, and I had several moments where I took a note from Joey [on Friends] and hid my e-reader in the freezer.
If I had one criticism, it would be that the story drags in the middle.  There's a lot of set-up once Rachel's story is introduced.  And since the novel is a story within a story within a story, I really had to pace myself to keep up.
4/5 suns: This book was a page turner for sure!

You can find J.T. at the following links:
You can find J.T.'s books at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Book-to-Movie Classics: Think Like a Man

I'm going to start this blog by being honest and admitting I own a copy of Steve Harvey's first book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.  I'll go so far as to say I've owned it for awhile.  I will go a step further and say it was a fascinating read.  Any insight into what is ordinarily a very guarded male mind is a welcomed foray.  As a now single woman, fresh off a 10-year relationship gone horribly wrong, and back on the dating scene, I found that a lot of Steve's comments, while they seem common sense, are things I, and many of my girlfriends, were clueless about were it not for the book.  Every woman has that girlfriend who sleeps with guys on the first date, or the super successful elitist who thinks the bank account makes the man.  There are even those of us who simply believe in love (that's me) and tend to try to make everything into a fairy tale.  Truth be told (and I've confirmed this with some guy friends), Steve got it right, and if women understood how guys love and communicate, we'd be less likely to hold on much too long to the bad relationships and throw away the good.
Steve discusses many aspects about dating that seem or feel taboo to many women.  For instance, how soon is too soon to introduce him to my children?  How long should I wait to be physically intimate?  Why do men cheat?  Do men really want to fall in love?  The answers to these questions are practical and real, albeit not always what you're expecting.  A lot of the answers to those burning questions are "Because we can."  Infuriating, right?  But what was more fascinating to me was the empowerment Steve infuses into this book.  The answer is infuriating because you find that you are the reason they can; we put up with it.  And if that individual man knew he couldn't get away with that with you, he wouldn't try.  He'd either leave you alone altogether or come correct.  Steve points out the insecurity most women have: the fear of being alone.  And any assertion we have that threatens to scare a man off breeds a desperation within us that screams, "Where will I find another one?"  Steve reassures us that there are good men out there--if we bother focusing our attention on our own self-esteem and demanding for ourselves the respect and love we deserve.
This mantra continues into the adapted movie, Think Like a Man.  In a star-studded cast, Think Like a Man delivers humor and true sentiment in a BIG way.  I must say, Kevin Hart steals the show.  The only divorcing man in the group of men featured, his comedically bitter perspective of relationships on the other side of love is both endearing and real.  Of course, there's enough chocolate on both sides in this movie: the cast is stacked with some of the most prominent African-American actors in the industry, each bringing their own style and charisma to the screen.  While the archetypes in this film cover broad generalizations--like "Mama's Boy vs Single Mom"--each actor brings a natural atypical personification to their roles.
I was wonderfully entertained!  I must admit, I didn't expect to like this movie.  I thought it would be another generic black romantic comedy.  I've gotten a bit desensitized to the "happily ever after" endings of rom-coms (seeing as the only one I ever saw that didn't end that way was The Break-up, the ending of which was oddly dissatifying!).  But, despite the way it ended, I was incredibly captivated.  It was a laugh-out-loud good time, and everything I wanted from a romantic comedy.  You'll be hard pressed to find a man willing to watch it with you (haha!), but the national rating is a 9 out of 10.
5/5 suns: The movie is an entertaining watch regardless of where you are in your relationship, but the book is a must-read road map for the single woman.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Ahmad Taylor

Thanks for joining us!  Today's guest is Ahmad Taylor, a 36 year old budding sci-fi thriller author and former NYC police officer from Brookly, NY.  Ahmad gave me the honor of reviewing his  bestselling, award-winning debut novel, Dark Side of the Moon, which is also pending a sequel some time this fall.  Welcome, Ahmad!

Can you tell us about your latest work, the sequel Darker Side of the Moon?

In Darker Side of the Moon, former agent Derrick Thomas’s journey to save his family and uncover the truth about a secret government program using violent criminals for slave labor continues. Derrick awakens at a secret government facility on the surface of the Moon in more trouble than he could have ever imagined. He finds himself in the middle of a prisoner revolt and his family still missing and feared dead; oh, and the least of his problems is his missing left hand. After rescuing the hostages of the lunar site, Derrick follows a lead that takes him back to Earth to track down his family and attempt to take down the leader of ARCA, the clandestine government agency which has been performing unconscionable experiments on unwitting test subjects for more than 40 years.

Wow, that sounds exciting!  Okay, so if your book became a movie, who do you see playing your main characters?

From page one of DSOM, I always imagined the two main characters, Derrick and Jeanie Thomas, being played by Will Smith and Paula Patton. Just a combo I think would really work on screen.

What projects can we expect from you in the future?

While there is a third book in the Dark Side series, I plan to take a break from [that] for a moment and work on a few individual works:

• Crime novel about a bank heist gone awry;
• Suspense/Thriller about a futuristic society where people use clones to commit horrific crimes with total legal impunity, until…
• Drama about a vampire who shows readers the sad irony of being immortal.

Those are just a few of the tales I have in my pipeline. I have a few more, including a mega series that will probably take me the better part of a decade to construct.

That's a pretty full plate.  Do you have any advice for other writers?

Determine whether you can truly do this for the rest of your life. It is such a great rush creating something new and original, and while the dream of being a famous and successful author producing quality literature seems very enticing, the reality is that there are few to no overnight successes in the literary arena, and if you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to plug away during the hard times, then you will find this a hard path to follow.

That being said, if you truly love writing, don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way. There is no greater satisfaction than proving yourself worthy and your critics wrong.

 RJS Book Review
Dark Side of the Moon is about Derrick Thomas, a 28-year-old government agent, who finds himself caught up in a whirlwind mystery of intrigue and covert, top-secret intel--only to find that his father and sister are somehow dangling at the center of it.  This book has all the things you love about a great sci-fi story: futuristic weapons, engaging fight scenes, government cover-ups and an extensive list of dead bodies.  The twists and turns this novel takes are inventive and intricate as the plot builds from one discovery to the next.
But Dark Side doesn't open this strong.  I was often confused by the flashbacks and their relevance, and Taylor takes awhile (almost a hundred pages) to bring the reader to the real plot of the story.  There was quite a bit of jumping around in the opening chapters of the novel, and I had trouble getting my footing in the plot lines because of it.
Don't let that discourage you, though; once Dark Side picks up, it doesn't let go.  And the ending delivers a great big WTF, leaving you panting for the pending sequel.

3.5/5 suns: The first hundred pages almost killed it for me, but I'm glad I persevered.

You can find Ahmad at the following links:

Twitter: @AhmadDarkside
Darkside Blog:

You can find Ahmad's book(s) at the following links:


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Allison Merritt

Thank you for joining us for another installment of Soapbox Spotlight!  Today's guest is Allison Merritt, a seasoned romance novelist with a bunch of great books already under her belt.  Join us as she discusses her latest book, The Sky Pirate's Wife.

Tell us about yourself, Allison.

I’ve always been a serious reader, so it comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I wanted to be an author as well. I’m from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri where I live with my husband and our dogs. Hiking and photography are two of my passions besides writing.

What first attracted you to this genre?

The first time I saw The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I was in college and I didn't really grasp the whole “steampunk” idea, but I loved the movie. I watched it again while I was writing a historical romance, and I said, “I could write a book like that!” So the Legends and Lovers Series was born from watching movies like LXG, Van Helsing, Jonah Hex, and Disney's Treasure Planet might have had a little something to do with it. I started reading Cheri Priest's Clockwork Century series and following other steampunk authors so I could get a better grasp of the genre.

Tell us about your latest work.  Can you share a little of it with us?

The Sky Pirate's Wife is the second book in the Legends and Lovers Series. The hero, Captain Alwin van Buren, is one of the secondary characters from The Treasure Hunter's Lady. I couldn't get him to leave me alone, so he got his own book, which sparked the idea for a series.

After a tragic airship wreck, Captain Alwin van Buren makes a drastic decision to obtain a wealthy bride in order to save his flagging business. He meets his match in Sophie Barnes, heiress to an airship empire. After he seduces her and ensures their marriage—igniting a rivalry with her godfather—he learns the green-eyed beauty is as headstrong as he is.

Sophie knows Van Buren's reputation based on a series of dime novels written about his adventures. Determined to be more than an end to a means, she despises him for luring her into marriage. In fiction, he's a no-nonsense captain on the verge of piracy, but the flesh-and-blood man wins her heart by proving she's worth more to him than her money.

Their love is threatened when Sophie learns Van Buren's airship accident was a result of mythical creatures. Winged predators that appear to have a grudge against him, a fact he deliberately hid by accusing her godfather of sabotage. If she can forgive him for that, they still have to face the danger when they're cornered and at the mercy of beasts and the evil that controls them.

How did you come up with the title?

I'm really terrible at titles. I actually came up with The Sky Pirate's Wife while I was writing The Treasure Hunter's Lady. I thought, if the heroine of that novel would just fall in love with the airship captain, I'd call it The Sky Pirate's Wife. So it was actually that title that led to the title for the first novel.

How did you develop your plot and characters?

The hero came first for this book. Alwin van Buren is a Dutch airship captain. In the series, when I first started writing, it was set in Australia and the country was claimed by the Dutch in the early 1700's. When I changed the setting to America, I didn't mess with Van Buren's background. As for the plot, I tried to think of what would ruin an airship captain. The perfect solution was an attack by paranormal birds that seem bent on destroying him. It almost leads to the ruination of his company. In order to get money, I decided he needed to marry an heiress. Sophie came into the picture, the naïve about business and love.

As for the bird, which one of the characters labels thunderbirds, I did research and found out that there are a lot of reports of people seeing birds too big to be real flying around, particularly in the Midwest. There seem to be a lot of people who know someone who knows someone whose second cousin twice removed had a pet or child picked up by a giant bird.

What do you love about independent publishing?

I'm a control freak. I love that I decide when to release the book, I have all the say in the covers, I can give away as many copies as I want in contests or for review. It works out very well as a hands-on experience.

What genre of books do you read, or do you stick with the genre you write in?

I'm not terribly picky. I adore YA fiction, and I'd say that probably my main genre for reading, but romance is running a close second. I'm not a big fan of Regency, but most of the others I'll pick up, particularly if it contains hot cowboys. I'm a huge Dean Koontz fan, especially the Odd Thomas series.

What projects can we expect from you in the future?

Around the first of August I finished the third book in the Legends and Lovers series, so I think that will be an early spring release. I'm working on the fourth book right and I have some pretty solid ideas for the fifth one, which I'm fairly certain will be the last in the series. After that, I have a great idea for a paranormal historical romance.

What do you believe contributes to making a writer successful?

Joining a writing group or a critique group and finding beta readers. I'm very introverted, so making friends is hard for me, but I've been fortunate enough to find some writing friends both online and offline who support me. They understand my success and my failures. I've also been lucky enough to have family support. It's important that people believe in you.

What are some of your favorites (foods, color, musicians)?

Favorite food – lemon meringue pie without the meringue.
Favorite color – green
Favorite musicians (because I can't just pick one) – Shinedown, The Fray, Lady Antebellum
Favorite TV show – M*A*S*H

Do you have (a) muse(s)?  If so, what are they like?

I call my muse Leif. He's a really hairy little guy who's too fond of alcohol, would rather be sunbathing in a boat on the ocean, and doesn't put up with the Evil Internal Editor. When he's in the mood to talk, he has amazing ideas.
Thanks for joining us, Allison!

You can find Allison at the following links:

Blog –
Facebook –
Twitter –
Google Plus – &

You can find Allison's exceptional books at the following links:



Monday, October 8, 2012

Scheduling: Mischief Managed

In a previous blog post, fresh off my new "success" with The Grim, I found myself swamped: my indie author life in one hand, my personal life in the other.  My two babies (my novel and son) could not seem to agree; each wanted my time all to themselves.  I found that success, on both fronts, would come from some good ol' Steve Harvey advice.

A viewer/listener had asked Steve how he managed to be so successful.  Besides prayer and fairness, Steve confessed his secret was scheduling: he plans every hour of his day.  Even if he is just watching television, he knows for exactly how long he's going to do that, and he never wastes an hour, from the time he gets up until he lays down.  I took this information to heart, and for you busy indie authors out there, I think this will help you, too.

If you're like me, you have a full plate.  You're trying to write, blog, maintain social media sites (and there can be quite a few of those), promote and hone your craft all at the same time.  And that's just your author schedule.  First, create a list of all the things you need to do as an author, and make a second list for your responsibilities at home.  Find a pocket appointment calendar (or, in this technological age, make use of your smartphone or tablet scheduler) and divvy up your time.  Here's some tips on setting your schedule.

1. Assign a specific day for larger tasks.  Some things just take a lot of time to do.  Give these time-consuming tasks a large block once a week for efficient management.  For instance, I write all my blogs on Tuesday mornings.  I make a list of all the blogs I want to write that day, and block off my entire morning, from 7:30 until 12:30, to get them written.  I don't do anything else but write blogs during that block of time (that includes taking anything other than emergency phone calls).  Whatever blogs that do not get written in that block of time get scheduled for the following Tuesday.  If you know a large task is going to build up on you if you wait a week (like say, emails), schedule smaller intervals daily to stay on top it.

2. Be realistic about how long things take, and leave room for commutes.  I have "School Pick-up" on my schedule for the days I have to get my son from school.  So my schedule also allows for my travel time to the school and the time I am in que.  However, the que line for dismissal is a long wait; I make use of this down time by scheduling "Read for Book Review" in the twenty minutes I'm waiting for school to let out.

3. Schedule some leisure.  Block out time frames to do things you enjoy (other than writing), and plan daily family time.  All work and no play can make anyone a grouch.

4. Write, daily.  You are a writer.  You cannot be a successful writer if you do not find time to write.  Know yourself and the time it takes for you to get focused and churn out material.  For me, I know I spend at least 30 minutes rereading my previous material and about 30 minutes dawdling for ideas.  I block off at least two (2) hours of writing time a day; that way I know at least one hour was productive.

5. Be flexible.  We all have those last minute upsets that throw our whole day off.  You had planned to write before you started dinner, but Mikey threw up at school so now you have to go get him and the rest of your afternoon will be spent in the emergency room.  Bend with the events, but be sure to reschedule whatever you had planned that day so that everything gets done.  Life throws us curve balls; that doesn't mean we have to strike out.

It will seem like a lot at first until you get the hang of working from a schedule, but I've been doing it for several months now, and I've never felt so organized and motivated.  The only days I'm truly overwhelmed are the curve ball days--and let's face it, they happen.  So if you're tired of the ticking time bomb, even if you're not an author, try this method.  And be sure to let me know how it works for you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Anna Patricio

Thank you for joining us on another Soapbox Spotlight!  Today's Spotlight author is Anna Patricio, a debut historical fiction author from Australia.  She took Early Christian and Jewish Studies in college as well as Egyptology.  Her love for the cultures of the Middle East in turn inspired her to write her premiere novel, Asenath.

Besides your studies in Middle Eastern culture, what inspired you to write this book?

I have always loved the [Biblical] story of Joseph, as well as adored his character. Some time ago, I grew curious [about] who his wife was. When I looked her up, I found hardly anything on her. I began to imagine what she might have been like. I then thought it might be nice to write about it.
I have actually been wanting to write a novel about Asenath for the longest time—since my student days. I tried everything: have it in third-person, beginning with Joseph and Asenath’s wedding, even a contemporary story in which a modern-day couple find “connections” to Joseph and Asenath. I even tried writing from the “middle” of a novel but that didn’t work.
It was an on-off thing. Then on New Year's, I finally buckled down and wrote—and finished—the novel. I daresay that this idea found me, rather than I looking for it.

Can you tell us about your main character?

Asenath is the daughter of a priest of Heliopolis, also known as On / Iunu (the latter being the Egyptian name; Heliopolis is the Greek). In my novel, I have her as the adopted daughter of the priest; originally she is a fisherman’s daughter from an inconspicuous village along the Nile. Through a bizarre series of events, she winds up in the big city where she is adopted by the powerful high priest and his wife. When she grows into a young woman, she meets the Hebrew steward Joseph, who eventually becomes her love interest.

I was inspired to take liberties with her parentage after reading this Jewish folktale which also had her as the adopted daughter of the priest. The folktale, however, had Asenath being of secretly Hebrew heritage! I thought it was interesting, but in real life, I think Asenath was Egyptian through and through.

How important do you think villains are in a story?

[Villians are] quite important, as they represent an obstacle the hero/ine has to face. I think it’s important to make a novel engaging, the main character must always be “in hot water” (to quote some writers’ advice book I read). Otherwise, once the problems are solved, the stories are over.
I also like novels to be realistic, and villains make it so. After all, I guess all of us have met that “thorn in the flesh” at one point or another.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Well, I like Arthur Golden who wrote Memoirs of a Geisha. I love his writing style, and the story was very poignant. His main characters’ long-suffering love for [the Chairman] was very touching as well. I’ve read my copy of the novel so many times, that the pages have already fallen off the spine. He was one of my influences for Asenath, actually.

I also like the works of Wilbur Smith and Pauline Gedge, who write excellent and well-researched novels set in Ancient Egypt. And I’ve read one novel by Alex G. Chappell that impressed me very much—he wrote a very sweet romance novel of Joseph and Asenath simply entitled—why—Joseph and Asenath! The last pages drew me to the edge of my seat. It is an underappreciated gem.

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?

Yes, I am reading Pauline Gedge’s House of Dreams. I am still in the early parts of the novel, but I love it. I like to read a Pauline Gedge novel slowly at first, as she has all this intricate descriptions and details. Eventually, the plot speeds up.

How do you deal with rejection letters?

Well, can’t do anything about them really. After reading it, I forget about it and move on. “There are still others to query,” I think.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes – before querying an agent/publisher, research them. There are many scammers out there who will give you stress to no end. I nearly fell for a scam myself until I heard about it in these writers’ warnings/advice. Be careful.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Read, watch TV or movies, browse in shops—especially bookshops, and spend time with my dachshund Chestnut. I am a huge dog lover, by the way.

What are some of your favorites (foods, color, musicians)?

My favourite foods are pesto pasta, dark chocolate, stuffed crust pizza (as long as there are no onions cuz I am allergic to them), pad thai, yang chow fried rice and sushi with cream cheese - not all at the same time, of course! My favourite colours are all hues of violet—purple, lavender, indigo, orchid etc. My favourite kind of music is classical and New Age/fantasy (such as the music of Loreena McKennitt), although I listen to anything except heavy metal and rap.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

Well, being published! ‘Nuff said! Also having total strangers tell me they loved my book. That is very encouraging.

Thank you for visiting us today, Anna!

You can find Anna at the following links:

You can find Anna's book Asenath at the following links:

Ebook Edition

Paperback Edition (For those in Sydney, Australia this is across Queen Victoria Building; they have the book in stock)