Indie Author Interview #9 Sarah Addison-Fox

Happy Friday! I am so pleased to be hosting Sarah Addison-Fox on my blog today! Have you guys missed me indie author interviews? I have. Normally, I interview authors after I’ve read their work. Sarah is a special exception. But as you will see below you, she is funny, sweet, authentic, and she spells center, centre. What’s not to love? Without further ado…

First off, if you were a combination of three fictional characters, who would they be, and why?

Probably Maggie from my Allegiance series, because she’s a mum, has a heart to help children and tries her best to live her faith through actions. Lucy from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, because she’s honest and imaginative and the Princess from the Princess and the Pea because I’m really fussy.

 Honestly my husband jokes about how much of a Princess I am. Hey, what do you expect? The name Sarah means Princess right!

Besides writing, what are some of your favorite activities?

Reading action-packed books, watching action-packed movies…hmmm there is a theme developing here….

When did you start writing and why?

I started writing in earnest in January this year. Before then I’d studied, gained a diploma and an assortment of other qualifications but I never had the motivation to actually finish a novel.  

Last year I was diagnosed with MS, and suddenly my priorities changed. When I heard comedian Michael Jnr speak about people knowing their “What” (for me that was writing) but not understanding their “Why” everything fell into place. That was the push I needed. Now, after 20+ years of procrastinating I had the best reason in the world to write. For the Glory of God.

Tell us about your book, Disowned (Allegiance #1)! What do you love most about it?       

Disowned is the story of an unwanted slave girl, desperately trying to find a place to belong. A place where she is valued and loved. What I love most about Disowned, would have to be the characters. Especially Mick.

If readers came away with one thing from your book, what would you want it to be? 

Wow, that’s a great question. Maybe to examine how much of a gift freedom is? And to think about why slavery is still rampant today.

Can you tell us a little bit about the sequel without giving too much away?

The second in the series (Dissemble) centres around Celeste trying to keep the Haynes family safe all while deceiving them. She’s locked into a contract and if she breaks it, or fails, she could lose everything and everyone she’s come to love.

What characters/tropes/themes/plots would you love to see more of in fiction?

I’d love to see more functional families and more realism and more humour. Everybody is so serious! Oh, and lots more healthy, respectful, romantic relationships.

But not where the couple get married and never have any problems or any passion! That’s a pet peeve of mine. Passion is a joyous thing within the context that God frames it.

What are three tools/resources that you use as an indie author?

Does chocolate, epic music, and coke count? Er, Word, Mr Google, and kind friends.

What is your advice to aspiring authors?

Put your bottom on the chair, and commit. All the preparation, character profiles, world-building, and research will do you no good if you can’t make a regular commitment to write. The reason I can write a draft so quickly is because I have a 1000 word limit that I stick to every single day no matter if I feel like it.  

Don’t read over what you’ve written and obsess about getting it right the first time. The first draft is supposed to be dreadful. Give yourself permission to make a mess, concentrate on having fun and get those words down!

 It’s really an equation. If you commit to 1000 words a day for two months you’ll finish a first draft. Commitment plus time equals a novel.

Have you read any great indie books lately that you would like to recommend?

 Mind blank on specific authors! I’d have to go back and look on Goodreads, but I have a rule. If I start reading the sample and I don’t like, I put it aside.

If I start reading a book, and list it as reading, it means I’m interested and will see it through. I will never place a bad review. If I don’t like a book I’ve read, I’ll leave unrated and refrain from commenting.

I recommend any books I read which have Biblical truth, are a little different from the norm, have romance and action in them.  If the characters grab me, I don’t care about the technical errors. 

I don’t recommend books I feel are preachy, sappy or unrealistic.

Thanks so much, Sarah! I loved learning more about you and am eager to read your book!

If you want to learn more about Sarah, you can find her on:

Facebook:   sarahaddisonfoxfantasyauthor/
Twitter: @Saddisonfox
Goodreads: Sarah Addison-Fox

You can go buy her book now on Amazon. Or keep your eyes peeled for the Black Friday Sale coming soon from !

Indie Author Interview #8 Hannah Heath

Behold, Hannah Heath! The rock; the hard place. Like a wind from Gelderland, she sweeps by, blown far from her homeland in search of glory and honor. We walk in the garden of her turbulence! 
(Who can tell me what movie I stole that from?)
Look guys, it’s Hannah Heath! Up and coming author, sarcastic blogger, and all-around good friend! Hannah was one of the first people I met when I ventured into the scary world of indie publishing. I am so honored to have her on my blog today! Get ready to laugh.

Hello, Hannah! To start things off, if you were a combination of three books (or movies), what would they be and why? 
This question has caused me to instantly forget every book and movie I have ever identified with. Or read/seen, for that matter. *stares at bookshelf* Okay. I think I have it. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, because I make my way through life largely by being sarcastic and attempting not to panic when, in fact, I have no idea what’s going on. Lilo and Stitch: That movie everyone initially thinks is weird, but eventually ends up liking because of (or maybe in spite of) its creative quirkiness, slight morbidity, and odd thoughtfulness. And last but not least: The Martian by Andy Weir. Because there’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a bit of brain power, duct tape, potatoes, and a good sense of humor.

I’ve heard your 3 Year Blogging Anniversary is coming up! What made you start blogging and what do you like most about it? 
Yes. I’m so excited! At first, I started blogging purely to get my name out there and start building a writing platform. Honestly, though, I had no concrete plan (I rarely do), which is what made blogging fun. It’s given me a different type of creative outlet. YA Christian speculative fiction doesn’t always lend itself to quoting Batman or spewing sarcastic remarks about terrible cliches in fiction (believe me, I’ve tried), but blogging absolutely does. I love having the extra place to write out all the ideas I can’t quite cram into my current fictional stories.

If you could only be known for one thing as a writer, what would you want it to be? 
I want to be known for telling the truth. I want to be the writer who neither sugarcoats nor exaggerates, but shows the good and bad of life, the pain and the beauty, and, through doing this, gives my readers the desire and the courage to fight their fears.

Tell us more about Skies of Dripping Gold. What was the journey like?
Let me explain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up: I have Lyme disease. I don’t like it and don’t want it. It is physically painful and brings a lot of emotional and spiritual suffering. One of my main struggles is not knowing if (or when) the pain will leave. Before writing the story, I was hurting both physically and spiritually and remember angrily thinking how I wished I could work my way to health rather than having faith in God and his plans. Gabriel’s story of climbing a tower to find healing for his sister just unrolled from there. The idea started from a place of angry desperation, but it ended up helping me into a better mindset.

What are you working on right now?
I’m currently re-writing my YA Christian fantasy novel: The Stump of the Terebinth Tree. It follows two desert elf assassins who struggle to eliminate a demonic sorcerer and have faith in something beyond their own swords. Originally, it was a 400-page mess. Now that I’m re-writing it, it’s a 100-page mess with about 200 pages to go.

How have you seen yourself improve as a writer and what do you still need to work on? 
I have finally learned how to spell the word “separate” correctly on the first try. Took a lifetime of struggle. Aside from that, I like to think that my dialogue, which used to be very stiff, has improved. I credit this to watching, studying, and laughing over numerous Carey Grant comedies. As for what I’m working on improving: Not being so afraid of ruining a story that I freeze up and have a difficult time writing anything at all.

What are three tools that you recommend for indie authors?
Get a whiteboard. A huge one. Seriously. They’re amazing. PicMonkey is great when it comes to creating promotional images…or even book covers. Also: Chocolate. Some people would argue that chocolate is not a tool, but those people would be wrong.

What kind of elements/themes/characters would you like to see more of in fiction?
I’d love to see more YA fiction showing the amazing accomplishments teenagers are capable of, rather than focusing on angst and pettiness. And it would make me very happy to see more well-rounded sick/disabled characters in fiction who are fighting to live well despite their challenges.

Would you rather live in Narnia, the Harry Potter world, or Middle Earth? And where specifically would you take up residence? 
Ah, man. Don’t make me choose! As much as I love C.S. Lewis, it comes down to whether I’d want to eat second breakfast in the Shire or play Quidditch at Hogwarts. Riding a broomstick wins out…But just barely. When I’m not living in Hogwarts I’d like to be training dragons in Romania. I’d make friends with Charlie and then maybe Mrs. Weasley would knit me a sweater. I’ve always wanted one of those.

Don’t you love her? Thanks for doing this interview, Hannah! Keep on writing and spreading hope and joy.
If you want to learn more about Hannah, check out her website: 
Follow her on Twitter: @_HannahHeath
Or go buy her short story: Skies of Dripping Gold

Indie Author Interview #7 K.L. Pierce

I’m excited to introduce my good friend K.L. Pierce! I was gonna have her on the blog sooner, but she asked me to wait until “summer” because she’s a super important college student. Lol. Jk.

Kirsten’s book Two Lives Three Choices is a SciFi allegory with themes of hope and redemption. It has a lot of heart, has a very original plot, and ends with a great hook for book number two. One thing I love about Kirsten is that she is always looking to improve her writing craft and communicating authentic hope and truth through her work! Read my full review of her book here.

When did you start writing Two Lives, Three Choices and how long did it take?

I probably started writing Two Lives Three Choices when I was around 15.  It took about a year to write the first draft.  However, as I was planning on making this into a series, I wanted to make sure I was committed by writing the first draft of the sequel as well.  Between writing, school, and editing Two Lives Three Choices, the grand total is probably around six years.  I’m committing myself to spend at least a couple more years with these characters, so hopefully they don’t get sick of me!

Without giving anything away, what are some of your favorite aspects of this book?

That’s tough, but I’d probably say the deep bonds between the characters.  Krysta’s friends are willing to sacrifice everything for her, and Krysta is willing to make the same sacrifice for them.  The love Krysta has for both her friends and her family is what drives her to grow into the person that she’s meant to become.

How far are you on the sequel and what can we look forward to in this next book?

The story is basically written.  Right now I’m in the editing phase.  Fixing those pesky little typos and figuring out what parts of the story are important and which parts need to be cut out.  I do have a title though: Two Lives Two Destinies.

As the title suggests, we’re going to be focusing on Krysta’s destiny throughout the book.  What exactly is her destiny?  How does her past play a role in that?  Both Etans and King Immanuel have a destiny in mind for her.  Krysta’s trying to figure out what those destinies are, and whether she has any control whatsoever.

I feel like I should know this, but I don’t: is there going to be a third book?

Haha yes there is.  While it’s still Krysta’s story, it’s going to be focusing more on the reactions that a couple characters have to Krysta’s struggles.  Specifically Dion, and another character who I can’t say because, spoilers. 🙂

What does your creative process look like? Has it changed over the years?

I’m a pantser at heart, so my creative process is a bit more free-flowing.  I usually pray before I write, because God is an infinite source of inspiration for me.  Then, I put on some music, and start typing away!  Sometimes I have to start over because it doesn’t feel like the story is going the “right way” or could be improved.  Once I feel like I’m going in the right direction, it’s a journey of discovery for both me and the characters.  There were actually some parts of Two Lives Three Choices that I didn’t know about until I wrote them.  I was like “What?! Cool!  What happens next?” Other times I have scenes that pop into my head and I think “Hmm, wonder if that’ll fit in anywhere.”  Then, five or so chapters later, I realize: “Hey!  That scene is next!”  I basically get the benefits of being a writer and a reader through this process.  It’s fun!

How have you seen yourself grow as an author? What do you still need to work on? And do you have any goals for yourself?

As an author, I have grown in my writing abilities, the ability to use constructive criticism for my benefit, and marketing abilities.  I know where my weak areas are and I have been striving to work on them as I write Two Lives Two Destinies.  While not all criticism is constructive, a lot of the feedback I’ve gotten from reviewers has been very helpful.  Finally, while marketing doesn’t come naturally to me, I am watching other authors, and slowly learning the tricks of the trade.  Still, there is always room for improvement, in all those areas.  My goals are to continue improving on my weak areas.  I still need to work on making sure that all the elements of a good book are there while also being concise.  I have a lot of ideas that flow through my head.  Sometimes it’s a challenge to sort through them all!  But sort through them I shall!

What are three tools you use as an indie author?

I use WordPress for my website and blog, Photoshop for book covers and graphics, and Microsoft Word for writing and editing.

Have you read any good indie books lately?

I’ve been on an indie-book marathon (if such a thing exists), so yes!  Most recently I read Branwen’s Quest by Katelyn Buxton, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I’ve also read Out of Darkness and Into the Void by E.B. Dawson (that name sound familiar?) Disclaimer: I was not in any way prompted to say this!  Go read her books, they’re awesome!  I also have a few other indie books/short stories on my TBR list on Goodreads, so the marathon continues!

What sets your writing apart/What is unique about your story?

I take aspects from different genres, insert my own spin on them, and synthesize something original.  For example, in Two Lives Three Choices, while the protagonists and her friends are around 16 (typical YA novel age), there isn’t as much emphasis on romance.  Instead, there’s more emphasis on familial relationships and friendship.  Another example is, while there are super powers involved (arguably more Sci-Fi), those that have them aren’t going to be saving this world.  My writing blends elements that people are familiar with but shifts the emphasis for a fresh take.

Has your major (computer science) helped you with your writing? 😉

Yeah, it has, although in more subtle ways than you would expect.  When writing programs, my professors strongly emphasize elegance, time efficiency, and space efficiency.  There are many ways to solve a problem, but some ways are better than others.

Writing is similar in a sense.  You can write the same story in a number of ways.  But what makes that story good is how elegant all the aspects of a book are developed.  As well as how much space (e.g. pages or word count) it takes to tell your story.  I’ve started considering my writing under a Computer Scientists eyes, and I think my writing will become stronger because of that.

Thanks so much for answering my questions (and thanks for that unsolicited shout out)! I loved learning a little more about you. If you want to learn even more about Kirsten, go follow her on Twitter: @KLPierceBooks

Or check out her blog/website:

Her book is available on Amazon.

Indie Author Interview #6 Beth Wangler

Beth and I are clearly going to have a lasting friendship because it was sparked by a mutual love of orange trees and knowledge of smudge pots (google it). I haven’t read as much of her work as I would like to. But her ambition is inspiring (you’ll see what I mean when you read the interview!)

First off, what a great name you have! You must be an intelligent, compassionate, interesting person. 😉 Tell us three fun facts about yourself! 
Three fun facts about myself are as follows: One, my favorite color is yellow.  Two, I love crochet, and have very strong opinions about it being better than knitting (all my friends now know the difference 😉 ).  Three, my first and last name can be interpreted as meaning “House of Sorrow on a Hill,” which I think is very poetic.
(Me: Sounds worthy of Anne of Green Gables!!)

If you had to live in Middle Earth (terrifying thought I know), where would you live and why? 
Ooo, I love this question! I would definitely choose to live in the Shire.  Rivendell and Lothlorien are enchanting, Gondor is stately, and Rohan is rustic, but nothing beats the coziness of the Shire.  Adventures are great, but for everyday life I’d rather have a cozy hole with a fire in the fireplace and a nice cup of tea.

I’ve talked to a lot of writers who dabbled in the craft for a while before fully pursuing it. Was there an epiphany moment for you when the sun shone down on you and butterflies landed on you and you knew you were chosen to be a writer? 
Haha, I don’t know about a moment when the sun shown down on me (I usually hide from the sun.  It likes to burn me).  But there was this:
When I was a child, I would devour books like one drinks water.  One day, when I was somewhere around the age of third grade, I was laying on my bedroom floor consuming the latest literary adventure.  Usually when I read, nothing could pull me out of the book, not without a lot of effort.  This particular occasion was different.  I paused in my reading and had an epiphany that would change my life: I could add books to the world, not just consume them.
I’ve been writing ever since.

Tell us a little bit about your other works (published or in process). 

In 2012, I independently published The Weavers’ Blessing, a fairy tale novella loosely inspired by “Snow White.”  It’s about a princess trying to save herself and her country from the evil king poisoning the land.  In the years following that, I wrote two more fairy tales and published them on my blog.  The second, The Kangraffs’ Curse, is about a runaway prince who has to face his parents in order to save a peaceful kingdom from destruction.  The third, Noemi’s Dragon, is about a princess who will fall prey to a dragon unless she finds her true love by her eighteenth birthday.
Most currently, I’m working on a fantasy series tentatively titled The Firstborn’s Legacy.  This series combines my loves for fantasy, history, and Bible stories in nine novels and some supplementary works in the form of poetry or short stories.  Child of the Kaites, the first novel, is about Raiballeon, who battles fear and world-bending evil spirits as she tries to free her people from slavery.  I publish new chapters on my blog bi-weekly (until the end of the school year, at which time I’ll return to weekly postings).
I’m editing book two, The Steward’s Apprentice, about orphaned Vree who takes up her mentor’s mantle and tries to become the strong leader she thinks she should be while dealing with the surly old Steward, small town bullies, and talking weasels.  I’m nearing the end of drafting The King’s Son, book three, which is roughly the Biblical story of Jonathan and David, but with dragons, fairies, and giants.

So, I’ve only been able to read 3-4 chapters of your work Child of the Kaites, but I’ve been loving it. Tell us a little bit about it. (General plot, inspiration etc) 
I’m so glad you’ve been loving it!  I love all your comments and feedback.
Child of the Kaites is the first novel in my The Firstborn’s Legacy series.  The whole series of 9 books plus some-odd supplementary pieces is inspired by the history of the world (broad, I know), specifically focusing in on Jewish/Christian/Biblical history.  CotK is inspired by the story of Moses and the Exodus.  At the start of the book, the people of Maraiah have been enslaved for generations.  Now, at last, their deity has heard their prayers for freedom and promises to answer through Raiballeon.  The problem is that Rai, an odd girl to begin with, has been living in exile on a neighboring island.  In exile, Rai resigned herself to life as a storyteller and as the quasi-servant of the family that sheltered her.
Then a person from her past unexpectedly appears, along with an enigmatic stranger.  Their unsettling presence forces Rai to ask herself if she’ll reclaim her calling and possibly die, or reject her purpose and let history forget her name.

What kind of books would you like to see more of? 
I would like to see more hopeful kinds of books.  I’m a middle school teacher, and I’m reminded every day of how many of my students are depressed.  I know it’s commonly viewed as the sign of a good writer to put your characters through all sorts of troubles and make their lives living nightmares.  While I agree that characters should face challenges, just like real people do, I want to see more books that embody hope in the darkest situations.  Our children–and we ourselves–need to be assured that the darkness will end and we don’t need to face our trials alone.  To quote Samwise Gamgee, we need the reminder that “there’s some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”
(Me: This is why we’re friends!!) 

What is one area you’ve seen yourself grow in as an author? 

I’ve seen myself grow in lots of areas, especially recently.  The areas of growth that most excite me are more behind-the-scenes.  In the past year, I’ve started actually outlining and doing more planning ahead for my stories.  This has helped tremendously, with keeping plots straight, characters consistent, and good ideas from dying.  I’ve also been amazed at how much plotting out my stories helps prevent writer’s block.  Since the beginning of last July, I’ve been writing six days a week with little deviance.  That’s amazing for me!  I never had this much consistency before.  I’m super excited about how much gets done when I write just a little every day.  I’d feared that planning things out would diminish my excitement for my stories, but I’m thrilled to find that I’m just as excited as before–if not more excited now.
For an area of growth you could observe when reading my stories, I think I’ve improved at balancing backstory.  I’m a history teacher at heart (and in reality).  I love inventing complex pasts and cultures, planning everything from clothing to customary greetings to political structures to religions.  It’s hard to hold back on sharing the world I’ve created, but I know I’ve gotten better at not info-dumping.  Of course, I still have a great deal of room for improvement.

What is one area you’d like to improve in and what steps do you plan to take to get there? 

I’d still like to get better about weaving in manageable amounts of worldbuilding, instead of overloading the first few chapters with it.  In addition to that, I really want to get better at writing romances.  Most stories have romantic subplots, and I think these relationships between characters can be incredibly beautiful and deepen stories.  I just find myself caught up in other subplots and the main plot, and usually my romances end up like this: “Oh, this character should like someone.  Well, I guess I’ll shove these two together.  Eh, good enough.  Now, back to the dragons.”
My go-to solution for anything is research.  Right now, that looks like observing how other authors do better jobs at this, reading articles, and paying more attention to the romantic relationships of the people around me.

Have you read any good indie books lately that you’d like to recommend? 

I’m reading Ashley D Hansen’s Ethan right now, which she publishes weekly on her blog.  It’s about Ethan, a secret agent on a mission that may be him beyond his advanced skill level: Working with a partner.  I also loved her The Darkest Hour, a distopian Sleeping Beauty where Aurora just wants to be a chemist and the evil queen has a (maybe) mystical gem.  I’m also reading J.E. Purazzi’s Revelation, a scifi/biopunk novella.  Since I just started, I can’t give a good description of it yet, but I’m loving her writing style and the character and world are intriguing so far 🙂

Thanks for the interview, Beth! I’m excited to read more of your work. Get to know Beth more on her website and follow her on Twitter: @beth_wangler !

Indie Author Interview #5 Bethany Jennings

I found Bethany Jennings through her hashtag game #WIPjoy and soon started hearing about her short story Threadbare. The premise piqued my curiosity and I decided to dive in. I’m so glad I did! The story is moving, genuine, and engaging. I immediately connected with the themes, almost as if this story was sparked from conversations I’ve had with my friends! I immediately hunted down the wonderful Miss Jennings and she was gracious enough to give me this beautiful, encouraging interview!

Hello, Bethany! Introduce yourself:  
Hello! I’m a writer of science-fiction and fantasy (usually for YA readers), a freelance editor, and sometimes a graphic designer. I’m also a homemaker and the mom of four kids under the age of seven. No, I don’t get much sleep. 😉

Where did the inspiration for Threadbare come from? 

Last summer I was forced to put away a story I’d been working on for over a decade – which was one of the most painful things I’ve ever done. There was the very natural grief at “shelving” a long-term dream, of course, but on top of that, I was plunged into loads of uncertainty, self-doubt, and the realization of how that project and my long-term goals as an author had become hidden idols in my life. I struggled with all this for months; every time I thought I’d gotten past my issues, I’d find a deeper complication to work through. I began to think of myself as having “tangles” from which God was gently helping me free.
One day I thought, “What if there was a girl literally trapped in tangles?” And Threadbare was born. I didn’t really expect to even finish the story!  I considered it a way to process my own struggle, and at one point I thought I was going to stop writing it because I didn’t think it was helping me move forward. But ultimately God brought me through to the end of my own tangles, and that healing was what enabled me to actually finish Threadbare. I’m so grateful! He not only gently taught me and helped me through my pain, but He also confirmed my calling as an author by letting me turn my struggle into a story that stands on its own and can encourage others! Threadbare is a testament to His goodness in every way. 🙂

I’ve seen some of your other fans begging for a full-length novel. Is that likely to happen? If not, are you working on any new projects? 
At this time, I don’t plan to write any full-length novels…but I do have ideas for more short stories about some of the other characters. *mysterious wink* And my current project is a fantasy short story, titled Dragon Lyric. It’s very different from Threadbare, delving into my darker, more hard-hitting side as an author.

Can you tell us anything more about the interesting world you created in Threadbare? Any fun facts that you had to leave out?
One of Bess’s teammates used to be a Drifter… I may delve into that in a future story… 😀

I understand you are also a freelance editor. What is it that you love most about editing other authors’ work?
I love cleaning up prose! Making sentences smoother and snappier – while maintaining the author’s voice – is something I really enjoy. And actually, even more than editing, I enjoy helping authors write the blurbs (back cover descriptions) for their books.

 Have you read any great indie books lately that you’d recommend?

I highly recommend “The Girl Who Could See” by Kara Swanson! – a YA sci-fi/urban fantasy novella that releases on June 1st. That story grabbed me by the heart, and is in some ways similar to my own work, with strong themes of hidden realities.

 What is one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring indie authors? 

Be rigorous about making your books professional and polished – editing and cover art can be expensive, and sometimes the editing feedback is hard to hear, but it’s all worth it to make your book really shine. 🙂 And becoming “known” as an author is a long and difficult process; have patience with that, and expect that you’ll need to publish quite a few stories before your readership starts to really grow.

 What are three tools you use as an indie author (or that you’d recommend)? 

I LOVE using Pixabay (a database for free and 100% copyright-free pictures) and Canva (a free online photo editing site) to make graphics for quotes or promotions. Those are very handy tools. And I recommend good writing blogs like or, to learn more about your craft and find good troubleshooting tips.
Thank you so much for interviewing me!
Thank you, Bethany! The world needs more of your work, so keep writing!
To learn more about Bethany Jennings, go check out her website and follow her on Twitter: @simmeringmind
And I go read Threadbare! Right now!

Indie Author Interview #4 Katelyn Buxton

Meet Katelyn Buxton! So one of the things I love about the indie writing community is that everybody is at different places in their writing journey, and I get to learn from them all!

It takes boldness to put your work out there. If I had put my 15-year-old story about a lighthouse on the internet, I probably would have gotten a lot of feedback and grown a lot faster. Instead, I buried it away, along with all of my work until this year.

The other trap I fell into was constant rewriting. Granted, my work needed it. But I didn’t see myself really grow until I pushed forward on a new project. That’s when I was able to go back and really revise well. So I salute Katelyn for charging ahead in her series. I am excited to follow along and watch her grow as an author! Her first book Branwen’s Quest is a fun YA fantasy adventure with themes of redemption and forgiveness. Elements in it reminded me of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Me: What inspired you to write?
Katelyn: It was actually a history assignment in eighth grade that got me started writing stories. Before that, I hated writing. The assignment called for me to write the first chapter of a story with a cliffhanger—after that first chapter, it wasn’t just my family that wanted to know more—I wanted to know what happened next too, so I wrote the next chapter. And the next, and the next, until it was done. After that first, short 10-chapter story about an anthropomorphic mouse named Matthias, I found I had enjoyed writing it so much that I wrote a sequel. The rest is history—I had fallen hopelessly in love with writing.

Me: Can you name a couple authors that have influenced you?
Katelyn: Brian Jacques with his Redwall fantasy series about mice first and foremost, (note the subject of my very first story), but I’d also have to say Lois Walfrid Johnson with her Viking Quest series, and Arnold Ytreeide.

Me: Tell us about your Warriors of Aralan series.
Katelyn: The Warriors of Aralan series begins with Branwen’s Quest, which was originally supposed to be a standalone—so in other words, I never intended it to be a series at all. In the end, it turned out a lot like my history-assignment story—I wrote Branwen’s Quest, and then found I had to have a sequel. After that, I thought it should at least be a trilogy, and then God got hold of my writing with book four, and it really took off. Currently I’ve written nine books to the series, with six published, and the seventh on the way. They’re fantasy, leaning towards a more historically accurate dark ages, featuring real people with real problems, and after book four, real faith. Life’s messy—it isn’t always easy—and I hope readers can see that reflected in my stories.

Me: When did you start this series?

Katelyn: I started the Warriors of Aralan series five years ago, when I was fifteen. It seems a little strange to think that I’ve been writing the same series for five years, but I have.

Me:  How have you seen yourself improve as an author?

Katelyn: There’s a quote by Ernest Hemingway, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master,” but I’ve seen myself improve so much from my early years of writing, and even from Branwen’s Quest to book nine of the Warriors of Aralan series. Writing is a learning process, so I think I’ll always be learning more every time I open up a new document, but characterization and writing authentic dialogue is an area I’ve worked hard to improve since beginning.

Me: What is an area you still need to improve in as an author?
Katelyn: Writing is so much about finding the balance in things. The balance between realistic emotion, and going overboard. The balance between writing in my faith authentically and thumping people over the head with the Bible. The balance between injecting myself into each and every character, and making them too much the same in the process. Finding the balance in things is always something I could use improvement in.

Me: What are you working on right now?
Katelyn: Currently I am working on editing Warriors of Aralan #7, and hoping to publish it soon.

Me: Is it important to read your books in order or can readers jump in anywhere?
Katelyn: To a certain extent, yes, it is necessary to read them in order. Other than the beginning, book four is a fairly decent place to start, since it signals a kind of “new beginning,” by moving on to Branwen’s children’s generation. But if you’re like me and like things in order, Branwen’s Quest is the best place to start.

Me: What sets your writing/books apart? Tell us what is unique about them?
Katelyn: Well, first of all, I believe in writing honestly. I don’t go into the gory details (whatever the case may be), because I also believe in family-friendliness, but I do try to truthfully deal with the hard things as they come up. I’ll have to admit, I didn’t always write this way, but God put it on my heart to begin during the writing of Warriors of Aralan book four.
As for my writing style, it’s kind of a mishmash of the three authors I mentioned previously, but over the years I feel I’ve developed my own voice through it. The Warriors of Aralan series is also unique for a fantasy series in the respect that there’s very little “magic” (Branwen’s Quest is the only one that bears any of it), and there’s only one race—humans.

Me: What are three tools you use as an indie author?
Katelyn: I use Canva for making my eBook covers and blog graphics, Mailchimp for my author newsletter, and Weebly for my website/blog. Becoming an indie author means learning to use a lot of programs and sites that I never would have otherwise.

Me: Have you read any good indie books lately?
Katelyn: Unfortunately, I do not read many indie books, but I have several on my TBR list that I need to get to and support my fellow authors.

Thanks so much Katelyn!
Go check out her work: Branwen’s Quest and the rest of the series is available on amazon!
Or find out more about her on her website.
And don’t forget to follow her on twitter!

Indie Author Interview #3 Nate Philbrick

I stumbled upon Where the Woods Grow Wild a couple months ago and was unexpectedly delighted by it. I had just begun my foray into the indie author world and this book will always stand out to me as an example of how good indie fic can be. It’s a clean, light-hearted tale full of imagination. I felt like a kid exploring Narnia again! Needless to say, I am very excited for the sequel. So I hunted Mr. Nate Philbrick down to answer some of my questions:
Me: What does your creative process look like? (Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have a daily routine?)
Philbrick: I’d say I’m 75% plotter and 25% pantser. So I’m a plontser. Yep. I’m that guy plontsing around with a mug of coffee. I love outlines, and I need to know all the steps I need to take before I start writing. That being said, when it comes to individual scenes, I prefer to let those grow organically if that makes sense. And even my scene-by-scene outline is subject to change at any given moment.
Me: From start to finish, could you estimate how long it took to write “Where the Woods Grow Wild”?
Philbrick: The first draft took about four months, but the idea-to-publication process took a year almost to the day.
Me: Can you name three books that have impacted you?
Philbrick: Yeah! Tears of a Dragon (Bryan Davis) really shaped the way I saw life as a teenager. A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness) turned me into a puddle on the floor, and The Book Thief was pretty boring but it sure impacted my toe that one time I dropped it.
Me: What are three tools you use as an indie author?
Whenever I’m writing/planning/editing, I almost always have Scrivener open, a physical notebook on the desk beside me, and color coded pens because those make me feel fancy. However, when I’m proofreading or marketing I make good use of a tissue box and a punching bag.
Me: Have you read any great indie books lately?
Philbrick: To be perfectly honest, I don’t read indie books as much as I’d like to. However, I recently beta-read a short story/novella by Rachel Lester, which I won’t say anything about except that the ending punched me in the gut and I can’t wait for her to publish it.
Me: What area do you need to grow in as an author and what steps are you taking to get there?
Philbrick: If I want my career to keep growing, I really need to eliminate those months between projects during which I just can’t seem to get into gear. Once I get the ball rolling I’m fine, but I typically struggle in those in-between stages.
Me: If you had to branch out into another genre, what would it be?
Philbrick: Oh boy. I don’t know if I’d ever be able to write anything but fantasy, but if I had to give it a shot, I’d probably go for historical fiction (I’d say sci-fi just to stay speculative, but let’s be honest; I’m too dumb to write technology beyond “he pushed the shiny thing and they all died.”
Me: What are you working on right now? 
Philbrick: I’m about 2/3 of the way through the first draft of Where the Woods Grow in Flames, the sequel to Where the Woods Grow Wild.
Me: What can we look forward to in the next book? (And is there a tentative release date?)

Philbrick: Readers of Where the Woods Grow Wild can look forward to a whole lot more snark from the original cast of characters, as well as some new (yet familiar) additions that I’ve had a blast fleshing out (let’s just say Percy and Mr. Stump both get a lot more stage time.)

I don’t have a specific release date yet, but my goal is to get it out this summer.
Me: It looks like you are a Star Wars fan. Pick a favorite film and a favorite character!
Philbrick: I’m a huge Star Wars fan! Star Wars: Rebels is actually my favorite chapter in the saga, but that’s not a film, so I’m going to have to go with Rogue One and/or Revenge of the Sith. My favorite Star Wars character is Ahsoka Tano, hands down.
So there you have it, folks! Want more of Nate Philbrick? Go check out his blog. Follow him on twitter. And if you haven’t yet, pick up a copy of Where the Woods Grow Wild

Indie Author Interview #2 J.E. Purrazzi

 J.E. Purrazzi’s prequel novella Revelation was just released on April 23rd!
I got to read it ahead of time and was intrigued by the worldbuilding, the technology, and the questions raised in this book.
Luckily I snagged an interview with her and I appreciated her genuine answers. I hope you will too!
Me: So, “Revelation” is the prequel to an entire trilogy? What do you hope readers will get out of this novella?

Purrazzi: Revelation is a prequel novella to a Biopunk post-apocalyptic trilogy. There are some functional things it needs to do as the first in a series, such as setting up a pretty complicated world and introducing some major concepts. In all my work I try to marry the best of classic fiction (character development and strong themes), with the best of modern fiction (an addictive, fast pace). What I really hope readers will be able to take away is an excitement for the world that leaves them wanting more, while not making them feel like the story went unfinished.

Me: What is your work similar to? Who do you think will like it?
Purrazzi: Readers so far have found similarities in my work to a few well-known Sci-Fi stories. The Malfunction Trilogy has been compared to Hugh Howey’s “Wool”, Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game”, and the Sci-Fi movie trilogy “The Matrix”. It’s hard to judge the flavor of your own writing. My aim is to get the reader into the character’s head with an immersive style and draw out some deep questions to chew on while keeping a good pace. My hope is that it can be enjoyed both by readers who just want entertainment as well as by people who want to think a bit longer on the themes that I’ve highlighted.
Me: What are the themes and messages in this trilogy? And can you talk about them without giving anything away?
Purrazzi: When it comes to writing the two things that I lean on more heavily than anything else is “Theme” and “Character Building”. So, yes, there are a lot of themes in the trilogy. While I do want readers to be able to draw things out for themselves, (and each book does have a slightly different emphasis) I will not make it a secret that these books are, for me, about the value of human life. From the beginning, writing these have been a way for me to work out some of the pain that my family has suffered from the loss of my unborn step-children. It is a loss that is deeply felt by me, my husband, and the mother of the children. It may seem like an odd thing for me to be mourning over, but unless you have lost children, you will never understand the impact that has on a person. While it is different for me, the effect the loss has had on my husband has been felt in our marriage, especially as we haven’t been able to have any of our own children.
Of course, there are other causes that have been laid heavily on me while writing this, including my sorrow over human trafficking, and the effect of walking through my mother’s cancer with my family. All these things work well with the themes that the biopunk sub-genre naturally highlights with bioethics.
While all these things did impact the story, my greatest hope is not to “preach” to my readers, but to ask questions and then trust them to find the truth for themselves.
All that being said, Revelation is, at its root, a story about an abandoned boy and how his pain drives him to interact with the harsh world around him.
Me: What does your creative process look like? (Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have a daily routine?)
Purrazzi: I am somewhere between a plotter and a pantser. My creative process can pretty much be summed up in two words: “day dreaming”. It usually starts with two things: a vague impression of a character and the beginning concept of the climax. From there, I start to flesh out the character in my mind and put him into the climax, always asking the question “Why?” If at any point, I can’t find an answer for that question, I file that idea away. Maybe I will fold it into another story later, maybe it will be lost. 
Eventually, I start telling myself the story, starting with the scenes with the most emotion. When I drive, when I am falling asleep, whenever I have a free moment I think through every word choice. Over and Over and Over, I patch holes and grow my characters and world. Sometimes I make notes, or do research, or watch a movie or read a book to get ideas, but eventually, I have something formed enough that I can start writing it down. Everything else I just invent as it comes out. By then, there isn’t much I haven’t “written” in my head a hundred times.
Me: Tell us more about you. Why do you write?
Purrazzi: I am an introvert, a cynic, an artist and I like to also imagine that I’m an intellectual. I have a million and one interests, among them reading, fish keeping, fine art and I love to consume as much information as I can find. Pretty much on anything, except for math. I grew up overseas, on a small Island country that most people have never heard of. I am starting to settle into life in America, but Papua New Guinea will always be home. I don’t think I will ever stop dreaming of it and waking up feeling just a bit more empty. I firmly believe heaven will have a little piece of PNG for me.
I write for a lot of reasons. The first being, I love to read. I love teaching and telling stories, and writing gives me a way to do that without losing anyone’s attention. It’s also helped me overcome panic attacks and depression that have been sneaking in here and there (as is common with us introverts).
Me: What are three tools you use as an indie author?
Purrazzi: My top three tools: YouTube. You can find so much on there, for research, writing and story craft, or even just for music. I have been watching a lot of surgeries on there lately. It’s as gross as it sounds but when Malfunction comes out, you will see why.
The Story Grid. This is one of the best resources I’ve ever been introduced to. There is a book, a podcast, and countless articles as well as a method for self-editing your novel that is super immersive.
Finally: podcasts. Most of the podcasts I listen to are either for research purposes of for the marketing side of writing. When it comes to self-publishing you can’t just be a good writer, you also have to know what you are doing when it comes to selling the book. I listen to at least an hour and a half of podcasts on my drive to work every day. In my mind, you can never do too much research to prepare for anything. If I stop learning, I might as well stop writing too, because that will mean I’ve lost interest.
Me: Have you read any great indie books lately?
Purrazzi: I’ve been reading some great books lately. Currently, I’m reading “Out of Darkness” by our own E.B. Dawson, and a book called Minutia by Steve Evens. Both are really fast paced, very intelligent, and have great premises. I also just started reading an ARC by one of my personal favorite self-published authors and a close friend and mentor, Sarah K. L. Wilson. This book is called “Lighting Strikes Twice” and is the sequel to her fantasy novel “The Teeth of the Gods”. I also just blew through “The Jenkins Cycle Trilogy” by John L. Monk. They are a bit on the darker side, so you want to be careful if you are squeamish (Think Paranormal “Punisher” with a lot of humor) but they are great.
Me: What area do you need to grow in as an author and what steps are you taking to get there?
Purrazzi: I can’t write romance for anything. I’m not a romantic person at heart. In that way, my poor husband and I are not matched well because he is 100% a “touch” love. I hate snuggling and romantic gestures make me uncomfortable. I am doing my best to work on that aspect of writing, but I naturally write family-love and friendship-love easier. I also struggle writing female leads. I have no clue as to why.
I think the biggest area where I need to grow is just in marketing and publishing. It is my first time and I have a lot to learn.
Me: If you had to branch out into another genre, what would it be?
Purrazzi: Historic Fiction, no question. Right now I gave myself a good broad category with Speculative Fiction. I have the first drafts of my Sci-Fi trilogy done as well as a fantasy book which will be released next year, after edits, and a Paranormal Thriller short story serial. That is a broad stretch of genres right there. My first love has always been Historic Fiction, though. I have a million ideas that I want to play around with. What is keeping me back is just the sheer amount of research that goes into it. I don’t want to jump into that until I have the time to do it right and keep my sanity. I do intend to play around in the “non-fiction” sandbox as well.
Me: What can we look forward to in the next book? (And is there a tentative release date?)
Purrazzi: I am currently in the middle of the fourth draft of Malfunction. My intention is to release it by the end of July, with the remaining books releasing every three months. Of course, I want to provide you all with the very best books I can write, so if I feel like I need more time, I’ll possibly move it to every six months.
If you enjoyed Revelation, Malfunction is going to be a real treat for you! Cowl will be back, but you will also be introduced to some new characters. One new point of view character is Menrva, who is Cowl’s childhood friend and probably has more of “me” in her than any character I’ve ever written. We will also get to climb into Bas’ point of view. Unlike Revelation, this story is mostly about Bas, and we will get a lot of questions answered about his past and his purpose. Also, if the idea of the Wreckers has peaked your interest, we will get to see the monsters up close and personal.
Expect a blistering pace, some emotional reveals, and a couple twists and turns that will knock you off your feet. Expect a lot more running and shooting.
You can learn more about J.E. Purrazzi on her website:
Grab a copy of Revelation!
Or follow her on social media!
Thanks again, Jill!

Indie Author Interview #1 Kyle Robert Shultz

I’ve had my eye on The Beast of Talesend for a while now. But I only recently got around to reading it. I enjoyed it so much that I just had to feature it on my blog and author Kyle Robert Shultz was kind enough to give me an interview!

For those of you who haven’t read it, it’s set in the post-magic world of fairytales. The protagonist Nick Beasley is a private detective who makes a living from disproving anything that appears magical. But his neat little worldview is shaken when he is hired to help retrieve a magic artifact. I don’t want to give away any more, but this book is full of action and a whole lot of fun! You can read my review of it on Goodreads here. Let’s get to the interview!

Me: What does your creative process look like? (Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have a daily routine?)

KRS: My process is a mix between plotting and pantsing. I lean more toward the plotting end of the spectrum–I don’t begin writing a story until I have at least a rough idea of the major plot points and know how it’s going to end. But I try not to plan things too meticulously, as sometimes ideas occur to me while I’m drafting which are better than what I have in my outline. I like to leave some wiggle-room. I don’t exactly have a daily routine, as my work schedule tends to be unpredictable, but I’ve found bullet journaling to be a big help in keeping track of all my tasks and projects.

Me: From start to finish, could you estimate how long it took to write “The Beast of Talesend”?

KRS: About six months…not counting the three months I spent thinking that it was an irredeemable mess that should never see the light of day. I shoved it away in a dark corner of my Dropbox after finishing the first draft and tried to switch to other projects, but I just couldn’t get the characters or the premise out of my head. Then I tried to “fix” it by re-writing it from scratch, and ended up losing all the charm of the first version. Finally, I took the original draft, made minimal edits, and published it. So far, I haven’t been sorry. Here’s hoping future books come a little more easily.

Me: Can you name three books that have impacted you?

KRS: The Magician’s Nephew may not be everyone’s favorite Chronicle of Narnia, but it’s definitely mine. It was the book that sparked my love for speculative fiction in the first place, and introduced me to higher concepts of the genre (like the multiverse) which eventually became a part of my own writing. The books of P.G. Wodehouse, such as Right Ho, Jeeves, have been a major influence on my writing style. In the nonfiction realm, James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure is my favorite craft resource. It helps authors find the logic of their stories without stifling their spontaneity.

Me: What are three tools you use as an indie author?

KRS: Like many other authors, I don’t think I could do without Scrivener. It’s definitely the best writing software out there. I use it for my blog posts and newsletters in addition to my fiction. The website One Stop For Writers, with its many thesauri and story-planning tools, is an extremely helpful resource I’ve discovered recently. I also rely heavily on Adobe Photoshop for designing my book covers.

Me: Have you read any great indie books lately?

KRS: I’m currently reading Beggar Magic by H.L. Burke–it’s fantastic. Great characters and an enthralling magic system. I’ve been fortunate enough to beta-read her upcoming fairy-tale novel Coiled as well. That’s definitely one to watch out for; it’s probably the best work of its kind that I’ve ever read. Another indie gem I’ve been enjoying is Marc Secchia’s Dragonfriend. His worldbuilding and description are breathtaking.

Me: What area do you need to grow in as an author and what steps are you taking to get there?

KRS: I’ve been told by a number of people that I need to spend more time and effort on descriptions. Lately I’ve paid close attention to how other writers handle this in the books I read. It’s easy for me to get too eager as I write and jump ahead to the action while skipping details, but if I get myself in the right headspace by reading a well-written book, it helps me to do better in this area.

Me: If you had to branch out into another genre, what would it be?

KRS: I have a number of genres on my author’s bucket list, though they’re all more or less subgenres of speculative fiction. I’d like to tackle superhero stories at some point; I have an idea for an unusual twist on the genre that might generate some interest. I’d also love to try my hand at something in the space-opera realm. I don’t really feel inspired to write anything without sci-fi or fantasy overtones. I wouldn’t be able to commit to creating a story set squarely in the real world.

Me: What are you working on right now?

KRS: The Stroke of Eleven, a sequel to The Beast of Talesend and a very unusual take on the tale of Cinderella. It’s all outlined, and it’s currently my Camp NaNoWriMo project…though I’m severely behind on my word count at present, so we’ll have to see how that goes. 🙂 I’m also planning some spin-off stories set in the Beaumont and Beasley universe. I have a novella prequel to The Beast of Talesend in the first draft stage, and some companion short stories outlined.

Me: What can we look forward to in the next book?

KRS: More magic, more monsters, and quite a bit of timey-wimeyness. 🙂 The Stroke of Eleven deals directly with the fallout of The Beast of Talesend while telling a whole new story at the same time. There’s another creepy old castle involved, but it’s very different from the one in the first book. A dark secret behind the story of Cinderella is revealed, and some other characters from classic tales make surprise appearances…not to mention a mysterious stranger whose identity will come as an unpleasant shock to Nick and Cordelia.

Me: I know you are a Doctor Who fan. Which Doctor and Companion is your favorite and why?

KRS: On TV, definitely the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble. There’s just nothing like their hilarious, heartwarming chemistry. But I’d have to say my all-time favorite Doctor/companion team is the one featured in Big Finish Productions’ Doom Coalition audio series: the Eighth Doctor, Liv Chenka, and Helen Sinclair. They have a very unique dynamic and deal with a fascinating mix of story elements and characters from both the classic and new series of Doctor Who.

Go check out this amazing book on Amazon! Or go learn more about the author on his website:

Thanks again, Kyle!