The 2019 Interview Series Featuring Kimberly Wenzler

IMG_0087 (1)You’re invited to a dinner party, are you:

  • The center of attention
  • Off in a corner talking to one or two people
  • Standing by the door waiting for a chance to leave
  • At home reading or writing your latest work
  • Why did you pick the response that you chose?

I love a dinner party, so I would be talking to hopefully two or more people. I enjoy socializing, spending time with friends and making new friends. And yes, I’d be holding a cocktail. I am not introverted, though I have a healthy fear of public speaking. But a party? I’m in!

24178What is the first book that made you cry?

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B.White, is the first book I remember as a child that really affected me. When Charlotte died, leaving Wilbur alone to carry her babies back to the farm, I was a goner. That book cemented my love of reading.

Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?

Authors have been only supportive and helpful to me from the beginning. I feel like I am part of a special club – no matter the success of the writers I meet. I showed up for a local author convention held at a library, clueless. Immediately, I was taken in and given pointers on how to set up my table. One author, who has since become a good friend and critique partner, even lent me her book holders so I could prop my books up and sell them! I sat next to a USA bestselling author who was generous with her time, answering questions and giving advice. I feel no competition at all. And now I can help others with less experience than me. There is enough space for everyone.

Stephen King on WritingWhat writing advice have you found to be the most useful?

My favorite book on the craft, and one I keep nearby, is On Writing, by Stephen King. This line stays with me: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

He offers so much more advice, but I find this to be most useful.

Blank paper with pen

Blank paper waiting for idea with mans hand and pen

Describe your writing space.

I have an office in my house where I write. It’s very calm: navy blue walls over white wainscoting, a simple wooden writing desk, very little furniture. So far, the walls are bare except for one canvas print hanging next to my desk. On it is painted the first line of my first book. It was a Christmas gift from a friend. I love to look at it and remember how I felt publishing my first book.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

What tools do you use to write?

The first draft is always done with pen and paper. I can write anywhere: on my couch, in the yard, on the beach, if I have headphones on with music. Then I end up in my office for the rest of the process (more writing and editing) and no music. I like the act of transcribing from the notebook to Word, which allows me to read the story again and make changes as I copy it. I don’t take advantage of software tools for writers, like Autocrit and Scrivener. I rely on my developmental editors and proofreaders.

Labels with social media icons. Concept.

How effective do you think social media is for authors? How should it be used?

Social media is important if used the right way. Right now, it’s a great way to connect with readers. I love when someone reaches out to say she loved a book or I made her laugh and cry. I receive a lot of Facebook messages and the occasional email. I’m on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads as well. There are so many places to be, it can get overwhelming. I am not pushy and there is a lot of noise.

I found my favorite author, Kristan Higgins, through social media. I somehow discovered her a few years ago and I started to follow her. Through her blogs and posts, she shares anecdotes of her life, her family and her writing and I absolutely love it. So, I started reading her books and they are as warm, funny and touching as she is. To me, she uses her powers of social media for good.

Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?

I write Women’s Fiction. I want readers to connect to the journey a character has gone through and be able to say, I’ve gone through that too or I can relate to her in some way.  I’ve been to dozens of book clubs over the past four years and this is the response I get. It’s all I want.

If you could interview a famous author, who would it be and what three questions would you ask him/her?

If given the opportunity, I would probably interview an author who lived fifty or so years ago, someone who wasn’t readily available on social media or social forums. Betty Smith, who wrote A Tree Grows In Brooklyn or Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird, are two people I’d love to have met.

I’d have so many questions, but would start with:

  • How did you come to write your novel?
  • Can you describe a typical day in your life?
  • What is your favorite dessert?

What books are you current reading?

227711Right now, I’m reading I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. I just finished Educated by Tara Westover, a memoir which was awesome and inspiring. Before that I read Bear Town by Fredrik Backman, who wooed me with his debut, A Man Called Ove.

About Kimberly:

Kimberly Wenzler was born and raised on Long Island, New York, where she currently resides with her husband and their two sons. She blogs at using humor to share her personal views on life, writing, and reading. Her third novel, The Fabric Of Us, was published in October, 2018.

Find Kimberly’s Books:


Barnes & Noble online

Connect with Kimberly:






The 2019 Interview Series Featuring C.S. Boyack


What is your most interesting writing quirk?

Honestly, it’s bulldogs. I own two, Frankie and Otto. Otto weighs in at 65-70 pounds, and Frankie seems to hold steady at 55. They relate to my writing, in that they’re usually in my lap as I write. Otto always, Frankie less so. I have what’s called a chair-and-a-half with an ottoman. He usually takes up that half and leans his head against my shoulder as I write. When she joins in, she’s usually on the ottoman with her head across my legs.

It would feel odd if they weren’t there at this point. I require quiet when I write, and they’re good for that… unless the squirrel runs by on the fence. Then we take a quick break, freshen up the coffee and get back to it.

What do you think are the elements of a good story?

There are so many things that matter. For today, I’m going to have to focus on one. It’s that your characters have to drive the plot. They have to have some kind of skin in the game.

I come across stories where the character’s duty is to guard something, protect something, etc. Noble tasks, no doubt, but these characters aren’t driving the plot. They’re standing around, waiting for someone else to drive the plot. Beyond a paycheck, or a sense of honor, they don’t have skin in the game.

bear trap

What common traps do aspiring writers fall into?

I’m fairly sure others are answering some of these same questions, so I’m going to try to be different. Perfection is the enemy of completion. We all want to be perfect, yet you cannot find a book without a few typos, questionable sentences, or odd grammar. This includes the big publishing houses.

As an author, we rely upon critique groups, beta readers, editors, and sometimes all of them. Eventually, an author has to get a product to market. If you don’t get a product to market, you’re kind of defeating your own purpose.

Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?

The logical part of my brain says a bit of both. However, my experience with fellow authors is they are my best resource and some of my biggest fans. As an example, for every copy of Extra Innings you sell, I could look at it as a copy of The Enhanced League that I didn’t sell. That just isn’t the case.

Most people who read one of our baseball stories are likely to read both of them. Over the years, you’ve appeared on my blog, I’ve read and loved Extra Innings. I’ve been over here multiple times, and you’ve read The Enhanced League yourself.

You’re here for me when I have a new book to promote, and I will always be there if you need help spreading the word.


What marketing technique have you found to be the most effective? Ineffective?

My blog, Entertaining Stories, has always been my best tool. I get to be myself there, and have more words to play with than Twitter or Facebook. I can change the appearance from time to time, just to keep it looking fresh.

Trickling out bits of ongoing projects tends to whet readers’ interest. This can be me talking about individual plot points, or the fictional versions from my writing cabin.

My blog auto-feeds to most of the popular social media sites. I used to be more active on social media, but it seems to have really tailed off as far as a promotional too.


What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?

It really isn’t fair, but nothing comes first all the time. Many of my stories begin with a fully developed vignette. These can come from dreams, daydreams, but I prefer to blame my Muse.

I’ve had great characters show up in search of a plot. I currently have an outline going that involves more of some things I want to address in fiction. It needs characters, and an undertone of plot before I can start it.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)

My most important tool is an Apple iPad Pro, the big one. I have the Smart Keyboard for it, and it’s about the same as a laptop. I frequently use the split-screen option when I build my Lisa Burton Radio interviews. I also like the continuous updating to the cloud. No more remembering to save my work. I’m filling this interview out with it right now.

Do you outline? Are you a ‘pantser’? What techniques do you use to get started on a story?

I don’t know what I am, to tell the truth. I’m going to say outliner, but not exactly. I storyboard my tales. I have four or five storyboards in the works at any given time. If an idea haunts me, I use an app to start a board. I make an index card, add some visuals, and leave it alone. When more comes to me, I add to it.

Then I move the cards around to look something like a plot, but they aren’t the detailed outlines others use. My index cards are road markers for the story. I free write between the cards and it seems to work.

Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?

Define a genre. Yes and no. I write speculative fiction, but don’t stick to one specific sub-genre. My books cover science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal. They all require a suspension of disbelief, and I tend to orbit around them with my stories. It gives me a lot of room to change things up, and still remain true to the kind of stories I like.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

We have a camper and enjoy getting out on long weekends. If the season doesn’t lend itself to that, we enjoy what we call date night. This might involve dinner, or a movie, but some time away from the internet for sure. I take my iPad on camping trips, but aside from the word processor, almost everything else isn’t an option.

I’ve been known to hack out a chapter under the awning with a cup of coffee, and a bulldog companion. It won’t upload to the cloud until I get home, but that’s okay. A bit of fresh air, some incredible views, and maybe a wild blackberry dessert is good for authors too.

About C.S. Boyak:

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Find C.S.’s Books:

Everything is available through my Amazon Author Page.


Connect with C.S. Boyack:

The best place to find me is at my blog, Entertaining Stories. I am present on various social media too. Here are the links to everything.

Blog MyNovels Twitter Goodreads Facebook Pinterest BookBub

The 2019 Interview Series Featuring Marcia Meara


What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?

Characters. Every time. I think about someone that would probably have an interesting story to tell, like an eco-tour boat captain and a wildlife photographer. I know they’ll provide me with lots of background I’m familiar with, and I have a feel for who they are before I begin to build a mystery or drama around them.

In the case of my second Wake-Robin Ridge book, A Boy Named Rabbit, a little boy alone in the wilderness came into my mind as I was falling asleep one night. I could swear I heard Sarah Gray (from Book 1) tell me he needed for his story to be told, and by the time I woke up, I knew exactly who he was and why he was alone. I went straight to the computer and started writing down every word of his adventure, just the way he told me it all happened. He still talks to me, to this day.

Sometimes, secondary characters in one of my books wave their hands around wildly, going, “Me, me, me! I have a story to tell, too.” So I write that one down, as well.

Do you outline? Are you a ‘pantser’? What techniques do you use to get started on a story?

I don’t work well from an outline. It slows me down, restricts what my characters want me to say, and in general, takes all my fun (and happy surprises) out of my writing. I keep a What-If sheet and brainstorm a bit on that, jotting down possible scenarios. And sometimes, when I start a new chapter, I’ll write down what I want to have accomplished by the end of it. That’s about as structured as I get.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)
Believe it or not, I use Word. Yes, I’ve tried Scrivener, Pro Writing Aid, and others, but I always come back to the simplicity of Word. As for how I keep track of my characters, research, maps, and What-If sheets—the answer is folders. In another life, I was a secretary, then an executive secretary, then an administrative assistant. File folders were what we had, so they became second nature to me. I have a Main folder for each WIP, with subfolders inside for everything I need. The folder is pinned to my task bar as I write, and I can click on it for reference any time I want. For me, it’s cleaner, neater, and far less distracting than a writing program with either a steep learning curve or a ton of bells and whistles that distract me from actually getting a story told.

Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?

I started my first book, Wake-Robin Ridge, with the idea of writing Romantic Suspense. It morphed in the middle into a bit of mild paranormal—a love story with a troublesome ghost. My subsequent books in the series have been centered around Appalachian legends, and feature a little boy with a powerful gift the mountain folks call the Sight, but which might be more familiar to many as a form of ESP. So Romantic Suspense went away to be replaced by something more mysterious and a little bit paranormal.

I tried Romantic Suspense again for Swamp Ghosts, Book 1 of my Riverbend series, and it stayed true to the genre. But then, certain secondary characters (the Painter brothers) wanted their own stories told. While the next two books in the series do contain romance, the main drama in each stems from things like dysfunctional family issues, PTSD, and a few tragedies resulting in death or major injury. So again, Romantic Suspense went away to be replaced by—oh, I don’t know—Contemporary Fiction, perhaps?

Then along came my Riverbend spinoff novellas (The Emissary 1 & 2) about overworked angels using hired help to keep an eye on souls in peril. Decidedly fantasy. I think.

I think overall, my books might be breaking the genre rules, but what can I do? These are the stories my characters wanted me to tell. So I did.

What is the first book that made you cry?

895886As a child, I was always a sucker for animal stories, so I’m not sure, but I suspect it would have been Lassie, Come Home. But I can’t begin to count the number of books that have made me cry over a lifetime of reading. Sometimes because the plot was so sad, sometimes because favorite characters died, and sometimes because the writing was so beautiful. A truly well-written line can make me cry to this day.

question-markAre there any authors whose work you admired at first that you then grew to dislike?

Funny you should ask. I was just talking to a friend about a writer I no longer read. There are a couple, but one in particular comes to mind. I’m not naming names here, but I was a long-time fan of this author and loved every shivery, nail-biting moment in his earlier work. Then came a spate of truly bad books that made me rethink my original opinions. Some of them were well told, but were just hateful, mean-spirited stories. Others were just bad. Period. Then, I felt like the writer found his mojo again, and his books were worth my time once more. Alas. It didn’t last. I’m no longer interested in anything he does.

Reading is such a subjective matter, I would never suggest that my opinion on any author’s work means anything at all. I certainly don’t wish this one any ill will, and I can guarantee you, he still sells plenty of books—just not to me. (A fact that probably won’t keep him up at night.) 😊

Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?

Allies. I find writers that I’ve met or corresponded with to be the most supportive and helpful group of people I’ve ever known. And even those I’ve never met—or the few who haven’t been particularly friendly—are definitely not competitors. I mean, think about it. Books aren’t like paintings. You don’t pick out the perfect one to go over your sofa, and then stop shopping for them. The more books you read, the more you want to read, and the more you buy. And no writer, no matter how prolific, can produce enough books in an entire lifetime of publishing to satisfy anyone who really loves to read. There’s just no way your fellow writers can use up all your potential readers. At least, that’s how I see it.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

After years of reading just about every genre, including a lot of Urban Fantasy, I have finally discovered the sheer escapism of Epic Fantasy and have been wandering other realms for the last year or so. I don’t have as much time to read as I used to, way back BW. (Before Writing) But what time I do have, I’ve been spending in strange, alien kingdoms, rife with intrigue, mayhem, and battles with creatures large and small—all slathered with large dollops of magic. Why did I wait so long? No clue. But I’m making up for lost time, now. Sebastien de Castell, Scott Lynch, V. E. Schwab, Leigh Bardugo, Mark Lawrence, Robin Hobb, and pretty much anything by Brandon Sanderson, are just a few of the fantasy authors I’ve discovered I love.

Labels with social media icons. Concept.

How effective do you think social media is for authors? How should it be used?

I think social media can be used very effectively, but I haven’t mastered the art of marketing. Yet. Blogging is something I really enjoy, but Facebook, etc., not so much. I’m trying to put together a social media marketing plan that combines aspects I like with ones that are effective in reaching a wider audience. It’s one of my goals for 2019.

I think I’m pretty good at building a local readership, though, and do two or three appearances each month. I’ve done well using PowerPoint presentations on various topics, including my current series on Central Florida’s Fabulous Wildlife. Happily, these tie in with my Riverbend books, and I have a signing table set up for afterward. I also do Teas/Luncheons two or three times a year, Meet the Author Eco Tours on the St. Johns River, and I visit with private book clubs. All of these are fun and have netted me good sales. I believe online media marketing is vital for bigger numbers, however, and something I do intend to master.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read! I also enjoy gardening, birding, and nature. I used to canoe regularly until my back decided it was done with that, so now I go out on the river on my friend’s eco tour boat every chance I get.

Do grandkids count? I’m blessed with three and spending time with them is pure happiness.

All in all, I’m approaching my 75th birthday filled with gratitude for all the things in life I’m still able to do. And I recommend grabbing all the joy you can every day. Don’t forget to laugh. A lot! As my grandmother used to say, it’s good for what ails ye.

About Marcia:

Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and two small dachshunds. When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. At the age of five, Marcia declared she wanted to be an author, and is ecstatic that at age 69, she finally began pursuing that dream. Her belief in the redemptive power of love is a unifying factor in both of her popular series and her poetry.  Today, she’s still going strong, and plans to keep on writing until she falls face down on the keyboard, which she figures would be a pretty good way to go!

Marcia’s Books:

Marcia has published six novels, one novella, and one book of poetry to date, all of which are available on Amazon:

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Wake-Robin Ridge

ABNR cover at 50%

A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2

Harb 60% cover sized for memes

Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3

Swamp Ghosts Cover @ 30%

Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel

Finding Hunter_kindle cover2

Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2

TDP 60% cover sized for memes

That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3

The Emissary_kindle cover_final 2at35%

The Emissary: A Riverbend Spinoff Novella

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Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love

Connect with Marcia:

Marcia’s Amazon Author Page

You can reach Marcia via email at or on the following social media sites:

The Write Stuff:

Twitter: @marciameara



Bookin’ It:


The 2019 Interview Series Featuring Ted Myers

TedHeadshotWhat is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Like many writers, the morning seems to be the best time for me. I don’t get up that early, but if I start writing before the trivia of the day starts cluttering my brain, I find I do better work.

quirkWhat is your most interesting writing quirk?

I don’t stay in a genre. Since I write purely for myself, my writing is based on an inspiration that strikes like a bolt of lightning. So, my first published book was a memoir, because Mark Twain said “Write what you know.” And because my life had been – interesting to say the least. But I always gravitated toward fiction in my short stories, and so Fluffy’s Revolution turned out to be young adult science fiction. It was inspired by a news article about geneticists injecting human DNA into the brains of unborn mice. I workshopped it in a novel-writing class at UCLA, and when I introduced Fluffy to the class, they all said, “Oh, it’s YA.” I said, “What’s YA?”

What do you think are the elements of a good story?

#1 Truth. In fiction, using something that’s true in real life gives the story more authenticity. #2 The rise and release of tension. Of course, the story arc they teach you in writing school is a good rule of thumb. But I’ve seen authors throw that out the window and produce gems. #3 Visuals. Make your readers see it like a movie. #4 Surprise. If your readers, like me, are reading for entertainment, the story should take a lot of unexpected twists and turns. When I critiqued songs for nascent songwriters, I said the same thing: The melody and chord changes should include an unexpected and emotionally satisfying turn. With a novel, it could be many unexpected reveals and denouements. #5 Know how it ends. You may not know what’s going to happen next, but always know where you’re going to end up.

bear trap

What common traps do aspiring writers fall into?

Predictability. Tired tropes. Action without emotion. Over-explication – telling rather than showing.

Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?

I’m not competitive. I don’t write for fame or fortune. I write because I have to. And I can afford to. I view all authors as allies and potential teachers. I read their work to become a better writer.

Image result for j.d. salingerAre there any authors whose work you admired at first that you then grew to dislike?

The only thing by J.D. Salinger I’ve read is The Catcher in the Rye. I read it when I was in high school at the age of sixteen – the same age as its protagonist, Holden Caulfield. I guess I liked it okay, although I can’t remember for sure. Everyone else my age was reading it then, and so I read it. I re-read it recently, when I got the idea to fictionalize a trip to Europe I had taken when I was seventeen. It fell flat for me. As an adult, Holden just wasn’t holdin’ my interest. I found him dull, slow, inarticulate, and immature. In short, he was not a sympathetic protagonist. Why the book sold over 60,000,000 copies, I have no idea. But my tastes have never been those of the mainstream.

What writing advice have you found to be the most useful? (Book, blog, etc.)

Method and Madness: The Making of a Story by Alice LaPlante, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and the spirited and riotous counsel of my memoir teacher, Erika Schickel.

Do you outline? Are you a ‘pantser’? What techniques do you use to get started on a story?

I usually do dash off some kind of outline, but without much detail. And then I completely ignore it.

Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?

It’s with a mixture of pride and shame that I admit that I am virtually genre-less. If an idea grabs me, I go with it. That said, I spent quite a lot of time writing short stories for a themed collection called Tales from the Hereafter, all first-person narratives by people who are dead. I’ve always been fascinated by the metaphysical and the notion of spiritual evolution, so I will likely return to that niche from time to time.

13426056What book(s) are you currently reading?

Although I’m sure this will no longer be the case when you publish this interview, I’m now reading Up Jumps the Devil by Michael Poore it’s a debut novel and I am greatly impressed. The idea is completely original and his writing is razor-sharp and witty. I highly recommend it. I just downloaded the Kindle of his second book, Reincarnation Blues, which sounds right down my alley.

About Ted:

After twenty years trembling on the brink of rock stardom and fifteen years working at record companies, Ted Myers left the music business—or perhaps it was the other way around—and took a job as a copywriter at an advertising agency. This cemented his determination to make his mark as an author.

His nonfiction has appeared in Working Musicians (Harper Collins), By the Time We Got to Woodstock: The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Revolution of 1969 (Backbeat Books), and Popular Music and Society. His fiction has appeared online at Literally Stories and in print in the To Hull & Back Short Story Anthology 2016. In 2017, his epic and amusing memoir, Making It: Music, Sex & Drugs in the Golden Age of Rock was published by Calumet Editions. In 2017 and 2018, more fiction appeared in Iconoclast magazine, The Mystic Blue Review, Centum Press’ 100 Voices Anthology, Culture Cult Magazine, the Ink Stains Anthology, Vol. 9, and Bewildering Stories. Fluffy’s Revolution, published by Black Rose Writing, is his first novel.

FluffyFrontCoverFind Ted’s Books:

My Amazon Author page,, contains all of the books available on Amazon in which my work appears. A dedicated website for Fluffy’s Revolution will be unveiled with the release of the book in March 2019, as will my Facebook Author page. My WordPress blog is here: I don’t pay much attention to Twitter, but my Twitter account is here: @TedMyersAuthor

Connect with Ted:

The 2019 Author Interview Series Featuring V.M. Sang


What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

It’s a bit chaotic and random, I’m afraid. I have to fit it in whenever I can. Usually in the afternoons. Although I’m not ‘going out’ to work, as I’m retired, I have chores to do in the mornings, and shopping and stuff as well. I would like to spend much more time writing, but there’s also marketing.

I tend to sit down at my computer with good intentions, only to get distracted by other things, like posting on my blog, Facebook and Twitter.

What do you think are the elements of a good story?

Of course, there’s conflict. I had to say that. It’s mentioned in every blogpost and book about writing. Emotion is an important part, though. The reader must feel what the protagonist is going through. If they don’t, then they have no real reason to continue reading.

Surprise is also important. Why continue to read if you know exactly what’s going to happen?

What is the first book that made you cry?

That’s easy. When I was about 6 or 7, my grandfather gave me a book called Odd. I’ve no idea who it was by, but it told the story of a little girl, the meddle one of 5 children, who always felt different. Her older brother and sister were best friends, and the younger 2 were twins. She was lonely. She belonged to a religious family (my grandparents were religious, too) Then someone gave her a puppy and she no longer felt lonely, but the dog got bitten saving her from a rabid dog and it died. She was heartbroken. I cried at that.

Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?

I think fellow authors are allies. The ones I’ve met on the net have been great. Supportive and encouraging, and they have helped me no end. My writing has improved mainly due to help and encouragement from these wonderful people.


What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?

Often the plot, but in some cases, a character appears in my head and insists I write their story. It cabn be a combination of the two. The idea for a story appears along with the main character.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)

I use a computer. Maybe not the best thing as it’s too easy to get distracted. But I find it useful if I suddenly realize there’s something I need to know and I can immediately look it up.

Do you outline? Are you a ‘pantser’? What techniques do you use to get started on a story?

Outlining? What’s that? Actually, I do outline, but only very informally, and in my head. I rarely write anything down about the story, but I do know where its going in general terms. The problem with this way, though, is that I sometimes get sidetracked along a path and have to delete a lot of words.

Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?

I started off writing in Fantasy only, but a story, or series of stories, that have been sitting in my subconscious for decades have suddenly decided they waited long enough, and so I decided to write them, They are hstorical. Much more difficult than fantasy, I can tell you.

37903770What book(s) are you currently reading?

The Myths of the Vikings by Neil Gaiman.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read, of course, and cook meals and bake. (I have a recipe book out as well as novels.) I also enjoy painting, card-making, cross-stitch, occasional knitting, crochet and tatting. I like walking on the Downs near where I live in the south of England.

Connect with VM:

Find me at http://aspholessaria,

Twitter: @VM_Sang




Find VM’s Books:









The 2019 Interview Series Featuring Jacqui Murray

JMurray--early for TF interview

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I primarily teach grad school online so much of my non-writing time is spent preparing for the classes, grading, or interacting with my students. Other than that, I do a lot of freelance work revolving around technology in education, writing for corporations, ezines, and other online websites

You’re invited to a dinner party are you:

Off in a corner talking to one or two people—I’m probably chatting with a few people but doing more listening than talking. I consider myself rather boring so enjoy digging into the interesting stuff others do!

bear trap

What common traps do aspiring writers fall into?

Thinking they don’t need some sort of guidance with their writing is a biggy. I’ll give you an example. There are tons of genres in writing and each has a set of rules that make the genre what readers expect. One might be thrillers where you must have a bigger-than-life flawed hero who regularly does the impossible with humility. Readers will be bored with a bumbling hero who stumbles into his victories—or doesn’t even succeed.

Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?

I can’t imagine considering them anything but allies. It’s not like there’s a finite number of readers that must be divided among the available books. Not at all! There are so many readers out there, good books will always find an audience.

Image result for patricia cornwellAre there any authors whose work you admired at first that you then grew to dislike?

Yes! Patricia Cornwell. I loved her early Kay Scarpetta books. They were almost procedurals in forensic medicine. But she seemed to lose her way, spending way too much time in later books on feelings and emotions rather than action. Sad…


What marketing technique have you found to be the most effective? Ineffective?

The most effective marketing for me is through my blogs—developing a community, getting to know other bloggers who help me spread the word about my books (as I do for them). The most ineffective has been every single technique I ever paid for. That includes Amazon ads, paid marketing, ad placement on websites—nothing like that has ever worked.

What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?

Since my books are plot-driven, it’s definitely the plot. The characters are important and they drive plot development but the story revolves around the action that is taking place rather than the thoughts of the characters or their personal growth (though I do include both of those).

Blank paper with penDescribe your writing space.

I love where I write. I have a big wrap-around desk with two monitors and room for my iPad, Surface Pro, and smartphone (for research and virtual chats). Behind me are all of my writing and research books—shelves of them. All I have to do is swivel and I can put my fingers on my Urban Thesaurus or a book of character traits to inspire me.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)

I write directly to a computer, mostly in Word. I have rheumatoid arthritis so my hands don’t work too well. Handwriting is a disaster. I draft, write, edit, and finish on my desktop computer.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’m currently binging on Westerns. I like the black-and-white characters, bias for action, and outdoors survivalist settings. They inspire me for the prehistoric fiction trilogies I currently write. I’m a whale reader so I consume these Westerns—up to six a week. There are a few Western authors getting rich off of me!

About Jacqui:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Time, first in the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, an adjunct professor, an Amazon Vine Voice, columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest, March 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

Find Jacqui’s Books:

THAS-smallTo Hunt a Sub

From Kindle

TFD cover--smaller--officialTwenty-four Days

From Kindle

Born in a Treacherous Time - eBook small

Born in a Treacherous Time

From Kindle

Survival of the Fittest - eBook small

Survival of the Fittest

Coming in March to Kindle


Building a Midshipman

From Amazon (print only)

Connect with Jacqui:


Goodreads author page

Personal blog: Jacqui Murray’s WordDreams

Online resume: Jacqui Murray

The 2019 Author Series Featuring Melanie Mezzancello


What is your most interesting writing quirk?

I don’t know if it’s a quirk, exactly. When I’m writing, I can picture my story unfold as if I’m watching a film on a screen. I can imagine exactly how each character looks and sounds, down to the minute detail. In fact, when I was writing Love Snaggs, I could easily picture my story as an animated movie.

What do you think are the elements of a good story?

Of course, the plot has to be good; it has to draw me in. But for a story to be exquisite, you have to give your readers an immersive experience, not only with the plot but also with the characters. The characters have to be robust & realistic in such a way that the reader can truly empathize with them and make an emotional connection. And last, but certainly not least, the ending should leave the reader hungering for more.

You’re invited to a dinner party. Are you:

  • The center of attention
  • Off in a corner talking to one or two people
  • Standing by the door waiting for a chance to leave
  • At home reading or writing your latest work
  • Why did you pick the response that you chose?

This question made me laugh a little. In the old days, I would have been close to the center of attention at any kind of party. Nowadays, you’d catch me off in a corner taking to one or two people. I guess life shapes us in different ways, and for me I’ve become more introspective and thoughtful, and a bit less of the social butterfly I was in days past.

1953What is the first book that made you cry?

I had to really think about this one. It was probably A Tale of Two Cities. I remember reading it when I was in high school. It was when Sydney Carton switched places with Charles Darnay, knowing he’d be executed at the guillotine.

What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?

Honestly, the more I thought about this question, the more I ended up in a circular argument with myself. When I write, I am not structured at all. I prefer a free-flowing approach, and I usually develop both the plot and the characters as I go along. Although, I do have a “library” of characters that I’ve conjured up and put on ice for the time being!

Blank paper with penDescribe your writing space.

I’m not too picky, and I can write practically anywhere, but I usually prefer to write late at night when it’s quiet and free of distractions. A long time ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I got in the habit of carrying a journal with me wherever I went. I spent a lot of time in hospitals, and there was a lot of waiting. Writing in those journals was the outlet that helped to keep me grounded and calmed my fears during that difficult time. In fact, I wrote a whole book about my experience with cancer. I never published it though. It turns out it was much too personal a story to share with the world.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

What tools do you use to write?

Besides my plethora of journals and colored pens, I predominantly use my iPad to write. I found a great and inexpensive app called TextilusPro. I like it because it’s the closest thing to Microsoft Word that I’ve found, and it’s easy to use and has some useful features. And of course, every writer needs a thesaurus.

Also, it’s not exactly a tool in the traditional sense, but you have to have some inspiration too! Personally, I sometimes feel bogged down by technology. It helps to find some time each day to unplug and get outdoors where it’s quiet so I can clear my head. Just being outside and connecting with nature really jolts my creativity.

koontzIf you could interview a famous author, who would it be and what three questions would you ask him or her?

Without a doubt, I would love to sit down and chat with Dean Koontz. Of all of my favorite authors, I’ve probably read him the most. Naturally, I would want to know how he keeps coming up with ideas for new stories, especially because his ideas are so wild and out there! But I’d also want to know more about him as a regular person. What’s his favorite meal? What makes him laugh? What kind of music does he like? Does he have any phobias?

bear trap

What common traps do aspiring writers fall into? 

I think the biggest trap aspiring writers fall into is believing “I can’t.” We spend so much time doubting ourselves and spinning our wheels about what we can’t do instead of just doing it. Sometimes our biggest obstacle is ourselves. We could all use a little Jedi training in that regard, right? Just ask yourself… what would Yoda do?

That being said, it’s also important to seek out feedback on our work. Accepting constructive criticism is an integral part of growing as a writer. It can be intimidating to ask for honest feedback, but it’s worth it!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with my family and my dog Wesley. I love to knit, crochet and play music on my ukulele & guitar. And I’m Italian, so I love to cook, and I’m one heck of a home baker too, if I do say so myself! I live in the beautiful State of Florida, and when the weather is nice, you’ll find me somewhere along Route A1A with the rag top down, headed to one of our lovely beaches.

I also really enjoy traveling, especially by sea. I’ve been to some amazing places. Last year I had the unique opportunity to visit Antarctica. It was breathtakingly beautiful and so inspiring. For me, it’s important to spend time in nature like that. And of course, hanging out with the penguins was just epic!!

About Melanie:

I’m Melanie, and I’m the author of Love Snaggs. I’ve always loved to write. If fact, writing
helped me get through some of the toughest times in my life, including battling breast cancer.

I’m happy to say that I’m a 10-year Survivor. I grew up in North Providence, RI, but I’ve called Central Florida my home for over 20 years. What else about me? I’m a huge New England Patriots fan, my favorite place is at the beach, I learned some of my best life lessons from Yoda, and I make a wicked awesome pie. Live a life of gratitude.
Love Snaggs is my first book. I’m proud to say that it has a 5-Star rating on Amazon! I hope that it brings as much joy into your heart as Snaggs brought into mine.

Find Melanie’s Book:

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