Interview With Historical Author Emma Lombard

By way of introduction to Emma Lombard, here’s her bio.

I am an Australian author living in sunny Brisbane. I was born in the UK and I called Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years before moving to Australia in 2000.

Before I started writing historical fiction, I was and still am a master goat wrangler—in other words: a mother to four teenage sons! 

In my past life, I was a freelance editor in the corporate world and lent my editing prowess to various industries including aviation, aquatic ecology, education and the world of academia. But now, I am a full-time writer.

I am an active member of Twitter’s #WritingCommunity where I love welcoming new writers to social media and helping them find their voices. It is what inspired my blog series Twitter Tips for Newbies.

Now that you’ve been introduced to Emma, let’s get to know her a little better.

Hello, Emma, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

What inspired you to be a writer?

I produced my first hand-drawn book at age nine. I completed my first full manuscript at age fourteen.

Little did I realise how lucky I was at the time that through a friend, my raw manuscript was placed directly in front of an editor at a major publishing house (oh, what I wouldn’t give for that opportunity now!)

Having learned more about the publishing process, I now understand what a privilege it was for me to get that personalised rejection letter full of encouragement and advice—but at the time, it hurt so much!

Then life got in the way for a while and it wasn’t until later that I had the time and willpower to sit down and write seriously again. 

Is writing your full-time profession?

In 2018, I bit the bullet and gave up being a freelance editor in the corporate world to write full time.

I began treating my writing career seriously, investing time and resources into it as you would any new business.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing my current historical fiction series since 2016. I wanted to get a few manuscripts under my belt, not only for the experience but also to have enough material available should publication of my first book go well.

I love reading a book series, so it felt natural to write a story with series potential.

How many books have you written?

I have a four-book series under my belt. The first book, Discerning Grace, is fully polished and edited, and is currently in the querying trenches looking for an agent.

I’m busy revising and re-writing my second book. The other two are completed manuscripts that have been beta read several times but still need some polishing.

Which genre do you write?  

Historical fiction. Not only did my story find its origins from a true story back in the 1800s, but I prefer having a wealth of source documents to research in order to build the world in which my story takes place.

I take my hat off to science fiction and fantasy writers who create whole worlds from their imaginations!

What do you find most challenging writing for this genre?

Interestingly enough, there were several scenes I wrote based on factual events or characters that today’s modern audience (aka my beta readers and my editor) found implausible.

So, I had to find that sweet spot between toning down some of the more colourful events and keeping the plot going while still maintaining the historical flavour.

I also unearthed how much of an influence popular culture has on historical events that have been inaccurately portrayed over the years either through fictionalisation or screen adaptation. 

As a historical writer, you want to ensure you get all the facts straight but sometimes there comes a point in your story where creative license kicks in and certain events have to go a certain way to keep your readers engaged and entertained.

Some historical authors stick strictly to the facts, and kudos to them because this requires an extraordinary amount of research! But I have enjoyed bending the rules a little here and there to keep my story flowing.

Here’s an incredible blog post by historical editor, Andrew Noakes, who gathered the Top Tips on Writing Historical Fiction From 64 Successful Historical Novelists.

What are you working on now?

I have just signed up for a historical fiction writer’s group in which we will share, collaborate with and critique each other’s manuscripts. I honed my first book to be ready for querying by extensively using beta readers, professional manuscript assessors and an editor.

For my second book, I am trying a different approach by also using critique partners. Of course, I’ll still use my loyal beta readers who are all so wonderfully passionate about my story and my characters.

And my book shall not see the light of day until my editor has thoroughly picked it apart and helped me sew it back together again.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

My inspiration came from my grandmother who told me a juicy bit of family gossip!

This is what her letter said, ‘Your GGG grandmother was only 16 when she ran away from home to marry a sea captain… her family cut her off and she sailed the seas with him…’

As my grandmother put it, they were ‘… obviously a very enlightened couple, and she a very, very liberated woman.’ I knew right away I wanted to write that story—though mine is purely fictionalized.

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?  

Although I haven’t published my books yet, I have had the happy accident of publishing a blog series that took off—much to my utter surprise and delight! 

During my authoring journey, I researched the importance of having an author platform and one of the key elements of this is social media.

I had successfully dodged the social media bullet until that point, having not much interest in it for personal use. When I then dived into the deep end and re-launched my dormant Twitter account, I was hopelessly lost and overwhelmed.

However, I persevered, researched and experimented, and slowly I got the hang of it. I started a blog series called Twitter Tips for Newbies, mainly to document my bumbling journey into social media as a newbie, but it has gained a life of its own.

Clearly, it resonates with many other new-to-social-media users out there!

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

There is SO much conflicting advice out there, even from publishing gurus, book marketers, editors, literary agents and published authors!

I scoured hundreds of social media accounts and blogs to find a handful of these professionals whose advice I liked, and whose advice fitted in with my long-term plan, and whose voice I enjoyed reading and learning from.

You don’t have to go on this adventure alone but pick who you want on your team and then filter out the rest of the noise to focus on achieving your writing and/or publishing goals.

Here are a few of my preferred go-to professionals (all of whom I follow on social media too):

Publishing guru: Jane Friedman

Book marketer: Shalya Raquel

Writing coaches: Angela Ackerman and Meg La Torre

Editors: Andrew Noakes and Maria Tureaud

Literary agents: Janet Reid (aka The Query Shark) and Eric Smith 

Published authors: Delilah S. Dawson and Diana Gabaldon

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?

To combat my chronic fear of heights, I climbed the Eiffel Tower TWICE! Gulp! Not sure that it cured me altogether, but it has helped lessen some of the terror!

What message are you sharing in your books?

The themes in my first novel, Discerning Grace, include:

an independent woman

the importance of love over money

appearances can be deceiving

love can conquer all

triumph over adversity

What are your favorite books?

The books I first fell in love with as a teenager were Wilbur Smith’s historical-adventure-family-sagas, particularly the Courtney series!

The first book that ever made me cry was The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay.

My current passion is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I’m definitely Team Jamie!

If you could create an author’s group with writers from any time period, who would you invite?

All three of the authors mentioned above!

Who has influenced your writing the most?

I have drawn on Wilbur Smith’s galloping historical adventures that don’t shy away from sweeping the globe and diving into other cultures.

Diana Gabaldon’s epic historical tomes are a brilliant source for learning how to use all your senses as a writer to build the old world, and for painting deep and meaningful relationships between characters, despite their human flaws.

When you’re not writing, where can we find you?

In the car, ferrying teenage boys to and from work.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?

Ooo, isn’t this every writer’s dream!

Due to the nature of my story aboard a 19th century Royal Naval tall ship, there aren’t that many female characters, though I could play no role on the ship since I get hideously sea sick!

I would have to stick with a role that is safe on land, perhaps one of the guests at the debutante ball in my opening scene—flouncy gown and all!

An elf named 12-25 approaches you. He’s sneezing, wheezing, coughing and there’s a strange tattoo of a snoring dog on his cheek. What do you do?

I’d send a letter to Santa at the North Pole informing him that one of his elves has gone rogue, and that he should send Mrs Claus with the med kit!

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Where can we find your books?

Alas, they are not out yet but in the meantime, folks are welcome to pop over to my website to meet some of my characters or subscribe to ‘By the Book’ Newsletter for some light authorly chats and to keep up-to-date with my book release news.

Thank you, Emma, for spending time with us and sharing your story as well as all the informative author links.

We look forward to seeing your books on store shelves one day. We wish you and Twitter Tips For Newbies continued success and lots of luck!

Interview With Author/Teacher Anthony Manna

Anthony Manna is a retired professor of literacy development- reading, writing, drama and other language arts. He is also an author of picture books and a collection of folk tales and fairy tales.

He loves books of all kinds, whether paper and electronic. He can’t get enough. He also loves writing and helping other writers.

Now that I’ve introduced you to Anthony, let’s get to know him a little better.

Hello, Anthony, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

Why did you become a teacher?

I was drawn to teaching as a profession because of instructors I had the pleasure of working with when I was in a Catholic seminary.

From them I learned just how valuable a teacher can be in helping young people grow mentally and spiritually while learning how to make sense of human experience—mine and others.

In the seminary and later in a monastery, I gained my first awareness of the value of embracing human diversity, civil rights, and social justice.

What grade did you teach?

Teaching hooked me when I was an aide in a Head Start classroom many years ago.

Following my seminary experience, I became an English literature major, then onto a master’s degree in English Education a.k.a. the language arts. After a three-year teaching gig in Istanbul, Turkey, I worked on a Ph.D., again with a focus on English language arts teaching and learning and drama as a learning medium. 

Along the way, I taught language arts in a preschool, middle school, and high school. And I loved the interactions, the connections with students, and all the learning I was doing about reaching our to students to motivate them to become confident, skilled readers and writers.

When I moved into the university, in addition to teaching children’s, tween, and teen literature, and courses in writing—always with future and veteran teachers and their students as my primary audiences—I developed research projects that brought me into classrooms where I collaborated with teachers to explore activities that encouraged kids and teens to love reading and writing as they gained their proficiency.

Eventually, I totally lucked out and was invited to teach teachers in Greece and Albania. Those were life-changing experiences that awakened me to cultural experiences outside my comfort zone.

How has your teaching experience influenced your writing?

As a writer, I draw on many life experiences. As I continued teaching and researching at the university, I got deeper and deeper into the styles and manners of many literary texts, particularly texts that explored cultural diversity. Literature of many genres consumed me.

In the back of my mind I wondered if I would ever try my hand—and mind—at crafting a story. You see, as a university educator I was obliged to either publish or perish, so I kept my job and did a lot of academic publishing.

But writing stories or poems or plays? That seemed the kind of writing reserved for folks with special talent and skills. Ones, I imagined, I didn’t possess.

What inspired you to become a writer?

I ventured into writing stories because of my experience in a kindergarten in Greece. I had gone to Greece on a grant from my university. The grant directed me to teach and conduct research in the education department at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki.

What better way to learn about Greek culture than in a school. Into a kindergarten I went to collaborate with two very fine Greek teachers whose English language skills allowed them to help me navigate life in their classroom.

When story time rolled around each day, these kids stepped into the worlds of myths I was very familiar with. Worlds inhabited by Zeus, Demester, Atlas, Helios, Athena, Artemis, Icarus and other personages in that population of intriguing characters.

But then I found myself in a fascinating story world filled with giants, rival step-parents, charming princes and princesses, struggling brothers, nasty goblins, mysterious asking spirits, and the like. These stories were Greek folk and fairy tales.

With a Greek colleague, I researched these stories, translated them into English, and reimagined them for English speakers. That launched the Greek Folklore Project and my debut as a story writer.

Which genres do you write?

So far, my books are reimagined folk and fairy tales. Notice, please, how I avoid the more common term when it comes to working with these tales, the word, “retelling.”

I soon learned that the process of writing involved so much more than a mere “retelling.” It involves shaping a narrative just the way any story writer does it.

The labor of developing authentic characters in space and time conflicting, struggling, losing, winning—whatever characters do to live a life and survive—or not.

With my most recent book, Loukas and the Game of Chance, I reimagined a Greek tale of loss, struggle, and the search for redemption into a middle grade/middle school fantasy, which draws on some characteristics of the source tale, but moves into story territory far beyond the source’s economic narrative.

I invented characters and situations that turn the tale into a full-bodied fantasy driven by suspense.

What do you find most challenging writing for your genre?

This is a question kids like to ask when I visit them in their schools. I tell them my challenge is to sustain trust in myself as a writer once I’m engaged.

I struggle to step away from those pesky inner voices which tell me the writing is bad or too simple or utterly uninteresting. Whenever these voices talk to me, I tell them, “Don’t disturb me. You’re not my business anymore. Leave me alone.”

Then I move on, staying with the process and always reminding myself that writing is rewriting, that drafts are rough, and that if I keep working at it, something satisfying may emerge. Writing is a discipline. I need to discipline myself to keep writing. And it can be a labor of love.

What are you working on now?

These days, I’m working with a book marketer as I move toward the release of Loukas and the Game of Chance on October 1, 2019.

Folks—kids included—are surprised when they hear about the social media outreach authors must engage in these days if they want to make their books and themselves known.

With a book marketer, I’m learning to be active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and other social media platforms. I’m learning about the best content I can come up with to draw attention to myself and my new book.

You’ll hear a lot of writers—myself included—complain about the time social media activity takes, and that means the writing must be set aside temporarily. Complain and then accept outreach as a reality of a writer’s life these days.

In the little time that remains to write, I am working on two stories. Anthousa Xanthousa Chrisomalousa (a young female character’s name) is a variation of Rapunzel.

The Imposter is a tale of deception, intrigue, and the struggle the main character engages in as he tries to salvage his true identity from his enemy who stole it.

How many books have you written?

As an academic writer, I published several books—and many articles— about multicultural literature, teaching strategies, educational drama, and approaches to teaching writing.

As a story writer, I have co-authored Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale (Anne Schwartz/Atheneum), The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece (Schwarts & Wade/Random House), and Folktales from Greece: A Treasury of Delights (CLIO/Libraries Unlimited).

My solo book is Loukas and the Game of Chance which will be released October 1, 2019.

Have you won any awards?

My book awards:

Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale (Anne Schwartz/Atheneum, 1997), co-authored with Soula Mitakidou, illustrated by Giselle Potter~

American Library Association Notable Children’s Book

Selected among one hundred best books of the year by the New York Public Library

Recipient of the 1997 Marion Vannett Ridgway Award for first-time authors and illustrators. 

The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece (Schwartz & Wade/Random House, 2011)co-authored with Soula Mitakidou, illustrated by Giselle Potter~ is a Bank Street College of Education Best Book of 2012.

Loukas and the Game of Chance, illustrated by Donald Babisch—2019 Book Excellence Award Finalist.

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?

School visits are exciting and rewarding. I enjoy introducing kids and teens to my drafts while I’m in the process of composing, revising, and revising again. I do this with PowerPoint slides.

During these presentations, I like to dramatize my characters, using the voices I hear them speaking as I write.

Each presentation ends with a writing activity that I often assign to the groups I work with, giving them a few days to complete the assignment with their teacher’s assistance, of course.

When I return to the school, it’s time for the students to share their writing in small groups and also as solo presentations.

One successful writing prompt I’ve been using lately asks them to write a story based on this idea: …And they lived happily ever after…or did they?…What might happen when “happily ever after” turns into “…and they lived happily ever after until… …something really bad or strange happened?”

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

Read, read, read books in the types of literature you like—mystery, suspense, realism, poetry, short stories, humorous stories, plays, fantasy, science fiction—whatever interests you.

Then, reach out and read beyond your comfort zone. Talk to teachers, parents, librarians and friends and ask them for recommendations.

Learn the craft of writing from good teachers, workshop presenters in local libraries, and in summer writing camps.

There are also many good books that help writers to develop their craft. Books like Leap Write In: Adventures in Creative Writing (Roost Books, 2013) and Rip the Page: Adventures in Creative Writing (Roost 2010)—both wonderfully interactive guides by Karen Benke.

What message are you sharing in your books?

Sooner or later, we all make mistakes, fail, and experience tough times, but we all can find the courage to face our struggles, persevere, survive, and turn our life around. 

When you’re not writing where can we find you?

In the summer, in my garden. I also spend a lot of time at the local gym in spinning, pilates, aerobic classes.

And I love all kinds of theatrical presentations—local and in New York, one of favorite cities. Theater is about life. Theater teaches me a lot about how to live and also how not to live.

I’m glad that I once pursued a career in acting—it was like living in stories that I presented to audiences with other characters in the stories.

What are your favorite books?

Oh, my favorites could fill a notebook or two.

Right now my favorites are Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson, Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners by Naomi Shihab Nye, Crossover by Kwame Alexander, The Day the Universe Exploded My Head: Poems to Take You into Space and Back Again by Allan Wolf, and Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

Classics I love to read and reread are the Harry Potter books, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine Engle, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Holes by Louis Sachar, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and all the tales by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.

On your website you have educational materials for teachers. Can you tell us a little about them?

My website @ www.anthonymannabooks.com is filled with supportive resources for parents, teachers, kids, tweens, and teens.

They’ll find word games and activities that encourage active participation in reading and writing.

They’ll also find videos; lists of recommended books, including award-winning graphic novels for kids, tweens, and teen; links to websites for readers and writers; lots of printable and downloadable teaching and learning aids; and kids’ written responses to my school visits.

I also like to recommend Reading With Your Kids (www.readingwithyourskids.com). It’s a lively interactive website that features award-winning podcast interviews with authors and illustrators—mine will be available mid-September—book-buying programs, truly interesting blogs about reading and reading with kids, and fun activities.

What social media platforms do you frequent?

I am active on the following platforms:

https://www.facebook.com/anthony.l.manna
https://www.instagram.com/drtony42
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4710477.Anthony_Manna

Where can we find your books?

While Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale (Anne Schwartz/Atheneum) and The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece (Schwarts & Wade/Random House) are out of print, copies are available on amazon.com and in libraries.

Folktales from Greece: A Treasury of Delights (CLIO/Libraries Unlimited)—a collection of twenty stories and information about Greece’s history, storytelling, and foolklore— is available wherever books are sold and from the publisher at www.abc-clio.com.

Thank you, Anthony, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck.

Loukas and the Game of Chance by Anthony L. Manna, Illustrated by Donald Babisch (Mascot Books, 2019). Synopsis:

A reimagined Greek folktale, Loukas and the Game of Chance is the story of  a flute-playing boy who befriends a magical talking, dancing snake. The snake bestows fortune and favor upon Loukas, but some years later, tempted by greed and pride, Loukas loses all his riches and even his family. He now must embark on a treacherous journey filled with suspense and intrigue to find Destiny, the Sun, and the Moon. They’ll surely allow him to reverse his misfortune, restore his honor, and win back all that he loves and treasures, won’t they?

The story is illuminated by ten pen and ink drawings. 

Interview With Author Ariel Bernstein

By way of introduction to Ariel Bernstein, here is the bio from her Amazon page. It captured her personality so perfeclty; I had to use it. 

Ariel Bernstein is a writer of picture books and chapter books. She lives in New Jersey with her family, many mismatched socks, and the occasional balloon.

I think it shows how witty and lighthearted she is. Someone like that makes the perfect children’s author.

Now that I’ve introduced you to Ariel, let’s get to know her a little better.

Ariel has a brand new book out.

Available on Amazon

  • Age Range: 5 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3
  • Series: Warren & Dragon (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books (June 25, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451481078

Warren and Dragon are setting out on their most unspooky, totally normal, not-scary-at-all adventure yet…their first sleepover!

Warren is a seven-year-old boy and Dragon is part stuffed animal, part fierce dragon, part best friend–depending on what part you believe most. And Michael is their new friend and next-door neighbor. When Michael invites them over to go “camping” in his basement, the dynamic duo don’t know whether they’re more excited or nervous about it. This is their very first sleepover. EVER. Sure, Michael promised there would be not one but two desserts to look forward to. But he also said he wants to swap–gulp–scary stories. Warren can think of nothing more embarrassing than calling his parents to pick him up early from a sleepover, but how is he supposed to fall asleep in a dark basement full of mysterious and unfamiliar noises?

Hello, Ariel, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications.

Thank you for having me.

What inspired you to be a writer? 

I was inspired to write just by reading books that I loved. They made me want to create stories that would make others laugh and imagine things.

Is writing your full-time profession? 

It is!

How long have you been writing? 

I’ve been writing off and on since high school. But in terms of children’s literature, about 5 years.

How many books have you written? 

Too many to count! But in terms of books that have or will be published, the number is seven (so far). 

Which genres do you write?  

I write fictional stories, mostly with lots of humor.

What do you find most challenging writing for these genres? 

Making sure that the reader will get my sense of humor! What seems obviously funny to me is not always apparent to someone else.

What are you working on now? 

I’m working on more picture books and an early reader series.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters? 

Honestly, inspiration can come anywhere at any time! Whenever I find something extra interesting, funny, scary, etc., it makes me wonder if there’s a story waiting to be told.

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?  

Getting to read my books to kids and seeing their reactions. I love to hear them laughing at the funny parts and answering all their questions.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out? 

Find a great critique group who will give you honest, helpful feedback.

What message are you sharing in your books? 

I try to make my messages subtle so the reader doesn’t feel like the story is weighed down by them. But usually they are about appreciating what you already have.

What are your favorite books/authors? 

So many! My favorite picture book of all time is Maurice Sendak’s OUTSIDE OVER THERE. And I will always love Roald Dahl’s THE WITCHES, which is one of the books that inspired me to create my own stories. 

For “grown-up” books, I enjoy short story collections by Kelly Link and Jhumpa Lahiri.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows? 

I really enjoyed VEEP. For movies, I can watch MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS anytime and get pulled right back in. 

When you’re not writing where can we find you? 

Hanging out with my family.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie? 

I haven’t written this yet, but it would be a scene on a beach where I am in the background, relaxing with a cool drink. 

Obviously, I would have to spend a lot of time preparing for the role.

An elf named 12-25 approaches you. He’s sneezing, wheezing, coughing and there’s a strange tattoo of a snoring dog on his cheek. What do you do? 

I suppose I’d ask if he needed a tissue and some water.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc? 

I do! On Facebook you can find me @ArielBBooks, and my website is: https://www.arielbernsteinbooks.com.

Where can we find your books? 

You can find my books in libraries and bookstores (or requested if they are not there). Also, my books can be ordered through IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Thank you, Ariel, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!

Interview With Author Jesse Frankel

By way of introduction, here is J.S. Frankel’s bio.
J.S. Frankel was born in Toronto, Canada and grew up there, receiving his tertiary education from the University of Toronto and graduating with a double major in English Literature and Political Science.

After working at Gray Coach Lines for a grand total of three years, he came to Japan at twenty-six and has been there ever since, teaching English to all students who enter his hallowed school of learning.

In 1997, he married Akiko Koike. He, his wife and his two children, Kai and Ray, live in Osaka. His hobbies include weight training, watching movies when his writing schedule allows, and listening to various kinds of music. 


Now that I’ve introduced you to J.S., let’s get to know him a little better.

Hello, J.S., welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.


What inspired you to be a writer?

I had an idea one day a few years ago for a story, and something inside me compelled me to put pen to paper. I think people are natural storytellers, but I wanted to do something special, and so… here we are!

Is writing your full-time profession?


No, not yet, anyway. I work as an ESL teacher and edit on the side. I’d love to become a full-time author, but those funds have to roll in first.

How long have you been writing?

Only about six years.

Have you won any awards?

I’ve won a few minor awards, but those are nothing, really. My biggest ‘award’—or reward,—is if someone says, “I loved your book!”

How many books have you written?

So far, thirty-five. I’ve got more on the way.

Which genre do you write?


YA Fantasy, with a lot of action, a bit of romance, and usually a happy ending.

What do you find most challenging writing for this genre?


There are a lot of tropes in any genre. I try to subvert those tropes if I can, or make fun of them in some way. What I really want is to make each book unique and fresh.

What are you working on now?


Right now, I’m editing an old story of mine and cutting it down. I may self-publish it or submit it. I haven’t decided.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?
I look at the world around me, the events unfolding, and I let my mind wander where it will. Inspiration is all around us; you just have to think about it.

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?


Having people compliment me on my style and stories. That’s good enough for me.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?


Cliché time: don’t give up. I was rejected over fifty times before someone took a chance on me. Keep writing, study the art, and improve. Let no one dissuade you from achieving your goal!

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?

I’m not very exciting; I don’t go on Bond missions every single day, except in my head. Hmmm… well, I’m a resident of Japan and I speak the language well enough. My wife is Japanese, and we make our home in Osaka. That’s about it, really.

What message are you sharing in your books?


Essentially that you can overcome the odds if you work hard enough at it. All my characters are underdogs, the fringers of society, and they have an every person quality to them. No person is a failure as long as they try. It’s a cliché, yes, but one I wholeheartedly believe in.

What are your favorite books/authors?


Favorite authors would be Robert McCammon—Gone South is his best work, in my opinion, and Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Inferno stands alone in sci-fi/fantasy, to me, anyway.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows?


I watch little TV these days, but I love the original Star Trek.
Movie-wise, anything superhero. Ironman, Batman, Wonder Woman…they all rock.

When you’re not writing where can we find you?


I’m usually on Facebook or Twitter.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?


Anything is okay, as long as I don’t end up as the first victim!

An elf named 12-25 approaches you. He’s sneezing, wheezing, coughing and there’s a strange tattoo of a snoring dog on his cheek. What do you do?


Run like crazy and hope I don’t mutate!

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?


I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007640056961

Where can we find your books?

You can find them here!–> (Amazon) https://www.amazon.com/J.S.-Frankel/e/B004XUUTB8/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Or here http://www.devinedestinies.com/js-frankel/

Thank you, Jesse, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!

Photo courtesy of: Brian Merrill; courtesy of: Pixabay
Osaka

Interview With Author Christen Stovall

Christen Stovall is no stranger to hard work and the soul-searching struggle of profound loss. Shortly after marrying, Christen’s soul mate and husband ended his own life.

To cope with this devastating loss, Christen turned to writing as a way of making sense of it all. This mourning process conceived her trilogy The Song of Souls Trilogy.

Christen lives Kansas in the home she and her late husband shared. 

Now that I’ve introduced you to Christen let’s get to know her a little better.

Hello, Christen, and welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

What inspired you to be a writer?


I can’t really say it was one defining moment. I can’t remember a time
when I didn’t engage in some form of storytelling. I’ve always daydreamed, or imagined detailed stories in my head.

More than one teacher told my parents I was “a good student, but she’s constantly daydreaming.” It wasn’t until I was in my mid-teens that the idea of actually writing a story occurred to me.

It became something of an addiction after that though it was still years before I considered writing a book.

Is writing your full-time profession?


Yes. I do some odd jobs on the side, but writing is my career and absolute focus.

How long have you been writing?


I was sixteen the first time I wrote out one of my stories. I’ve always been a storyteller though.

Photo courtesy of: Christen Stovall

How many books have you written?


I have published the first two books of the Song of Souls: Soulbound and Soulfire. The third book, Boundless, is going through the editing process now. It’s scheduled for release in August of this year.

Which genres do you write?


High fantasy, with some romance mixed in, but that’s secondary. I will probably branch out occasionally but fantasy is my passion. 

What do you find most challenging writing for these genres?


Finding new ways to tell the kind of stories I enjoy. I want to give my work a timeless quality and enjoy mixing classic fairytale and folklore aspects.

The difficulty with that is that it’s become super trendy to brand those kinds of things as “tropey.” I try to give them a twist, but there will always be critics.

Photo courtesy of: Christen Stovall

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?


That’s not a simple answer. Each character I come up with is inspired in a different way.

My experiences inspired in the Song of Souls Trilogy heroine, Aislynn, and her Soulmate, Rorin, and the struggles as a young widow. They were inspired by my own experiences, but are not meant to represent myself, or my late husband.

It’s more a representation of the complexity of grief, and of moving forward after loss. Other characters have been inspired by friends, and some are inspired by a piece of music, or even a single look on an actor’s face in a movie or TV show.

Inspiration is literally everywhere if you keep your eyes and ears open to it.

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?


When a reader contacted me and told me how much my books, and my own story had impacted her. Her husband was killed in an accident a few months prior to discovering my books.

We exchanged messages for some time, but have lost touch since. Knowing it helped her in some way makes everything worthwhile.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?


Write all the time, even if it’s just for fun. Also, and this one is crucial, hire a PROFESSIONAL editor. Do not ask a friend, get someone who will rip your work apart and force you to grow and improve.

No matter how good your story is, or how proficient your writing, you need an unbiased pair of eyes. Get an editor, park the ego, and listen to what your editor tells you.

They aren’t there to fawn over you and tell you how great you are. An editor is there to tell you what you’re doing wrong and how to be better.

Photo courtesy of: Goran Horvat; courtesy of: Pixabay
If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text 741741 for free, confidential support via text message.

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?


I would actually. I want people to know about my personal story because it has so much impact on my writing. When I was twenty-eight, after a year and a half of marriage, my husband ended his life. I was devastated.

In the blink of an eye it shattered all my hopes and dreams beyond measure. We didn’t have children, our life together was only beginning. Suicide doesn’t bring an end to a person’s pain, it only puts that pain on the people they loved. It’s a tragic and terrible reality to face.

But I persevered and found my strength and my smile again.  I also found my voice, and the inspiration for the Song of Souls Trilogy was born. Writing these books has helped me work through and share my story in a way that felt safe and comfortable.

They’ve given a legacy to my time with my husband and meaning to all the pain of losing him. I will write other books, but these will always have special meaning.

What message are you sharing in your books?


That no matter what happens in your life, there’s always hope. You can overcome anything if you believe in yourself and hold to that. Live your life from a place of love, for the people around you, and for yourself.

Photo courtesy of: Christen Stovall

What are your favorite books/authors?


Tolkien’s work is a definite favorite of mine, and a big impact on my writing. Juliet Marrillier is probably my favorite author though. Her Sevenwaters Series is AMAZING! If you’ve never read her work, you should start today.

I recommend the aforementioned Sevenwaters Series, (it’s my favorite). The first book is Daughter of the Forest. It’s a brilliant retelling of the fairytale The Six Swans. I’m not usually a fan of retold stories, but this one is amazing.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows?


As far as movies go, name a fantasy film and it’s probably on my list. A few worth mentioning specifically are Lord of the Rings (obviously), The Princess Bride, Willow, Stardust, The Wizard of Oz.

My favorite TV series include The Tudors, Outlander, Game of Thrones, Versailles, Legend of the Seeker, most of the Star Trek Series, Once Upon a Time (though the later seasons were a bit redundant), and The Last Kingdom.

I recently started watching Bodyguard as well. It’s not my usual taste, but well done.

When you’re not writing where can we find you?


Well, Facebook, Twitter (though I’m not great about tweeting, lol), Instagram, Goodreads, and possibly Realm of the Mist Entertainment.

I used to co-host an online radio show there but stepped back to finish my trilogy. I have since been approached to return, but we’re looking at whether it can be worked out with my schedule.

Guilty pleasure admission, I love the online game Star Wars: The Old Republic and have been known to sneak around as an Imperial agent by the name of Inari-zun in a galaxy far, far away, lol.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?


Totally a thing I’ve imagined, lol. Presumably, it would be made into three movies since I have a book trilogy. I think in the first one I’d like to be one of the Soulbound.

In the second, I think it would be fun to be a random baddie that one of my heroes takes out. I’m not sure about the third book, something that has a bit more meaning, I suppose.

Agent 12-25 from Chris Kringle’s Cops

An elf named 12-25 approaches you. He’s sneezing, wheezing, coughing and there’s a strange tattoo of a snoring dog on his cheek. What do you do?

Offer him a tissue and a lozenge, and ask if he can help me get into Rivendell, lol.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?


I do!
Book page – https://www.facebook.com/SoulboundSongofSoulsTrilogy/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/christenstovall

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/christenstovall/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14246037.Christen_Stovall

I’m currently looking into creating a new website.

Where can we find your books?


Amazon, Barnes and Noble (upon request), a limited number of bookstores in Kansas, and through me personally for residents of the United States.

Thank you, Christen, for spending time with us and sharing your story. It is wonderful to hear how you turned your greatest struggle into a creative strength. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!

Photo courtesy of: Christen Stovall

Interview With Author Ashley Munoz

Ashley Munoz is a mother, a wife, a blogger and has recently become a published author. Her first novel debuted in September 2018.

Ashley believes in going after your dreams and all the hard work that goes along with it. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, fantasy novels, and almost anything that is swoon worthy.

Ashley lives in Oregon with her husband and four children.

Now that I’ve introduced you to Ashley let’s get to know her a little better.

Photo courtesy of: Ashley Munoz

Hello, Ashley, and welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

What inspired you to be a writer?

—Honestly, I’ve always enjoyed writing. I blogged a ton before I actually launched into publishing. But it was reading that made me want to take the leap. That saying, “write the story you want to read…” got stuck in my head and I just wrote until I owned that story.

Is writing your full-time profession?

—-Yes, that and staying home with my two-year-old.

Photo courtesy of: Ashley Munoz

How long have you been writing?

—- Blogging for nearly five years, but I debuted as a published author in September of 2018.

How many books have you written?

—I just finished my second full length novel.

Which genres do you write? 

–Right now, contemporary romance but I have started a YA Fantasy book.

Photo courtesy of: Ashley Munoz

What do you find most challenging writing for these genres?

— Contemporary Romance is fun to write but I find it difficult to challenge myself to turn the story into something that hasn’t been done before. Use different words and phrases that haven’t been seen in other romance books.

Part of this is not filling my books with sex scenes. I have nothing against authors who do, there’s certainly a market for that, but for my own work; I have to push for more. With the YA Fantasy- I find it difficult to world build.

What are you working on now?

—I’m currently co writing a romantic comedy with my best friend who’s also a full time author.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

—No place in particular- they just show up in my head and talk.

Photo courtesy of: Ashley Munoz

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work? 

— Getting messages from people about how much my work has touched them or how much they loved my book.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

— Grow thick skin and invite only the critique from people who’ve walked this road into your life. Other people’s voices and opinions will only weigh you down. Don’t give up, don’t compare your first draft to someone’s completed one.

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?

– I have four children. I wrote my debut book from the Google docs app on my cell phone while I nursed my infant son. I turned every sleepless night into a work in progress. Every carpool pick up was turned into a new chapter that was written. It’s not easy to grab your dreams, just start somewhere.

What message are you sharing in your books?

— I focus a lot on overcoming emotional adversity in my heroine’s. They have to dig deep to overcome demons that have tried to hold them back. My stories are about victory and strength; standing again after being knocked down.

What are your favorite books/authors?

-—Anything Mariana Zapata has written. I also love LJ Shen, Devney Perry, Penny Reid, Dannika Dark, Ilona Andrews, and Sarah J Maas. Favorite Books: Wait For It– Mariana Zapata- Under Locke by Mariana Zapata. Court of Thornes and Roses by Sarah J Maas. Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid. Vicious by Lj Shen. Tattered by Devney Perry. The Seven Series by Dannika Dark. The Kate Daniel Series by Ilona Andrews.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows?

— Movies: Green Street Hooligans, The Boondock Saints, Knockaround Guys, The God Father, Alice and Wonderland (Tim Burton’s Version) Maleficent– Tv Shows: Parks N Rec, Outlander, The Office, Gilmore Girls.

When you’re not writing where can we find you?

— Doing something with my family- Hiking, cuddling under blankets while we watch a Redbox movie, the park, or in the backyard.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

Yes- www.ashleymunozbooks.comhttps://www.facebook.com/ashleymunozauthorpage/

Where can we find your books?           

Currently my books are exclusively on Amazon.

Thank you, Ashley, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!

Photo courtesy of: Ashley Munoz