Interview With Author/Sports Journalist John Coon

John Coon lives for adventure whether it be through writing or hiking through his favorite mountainside. John is a sports journalist who has turned his pen to fiction novels. His first novel, Pandora Reborn, debuted in 2018.

A native of Utah, John finds peace in nature and believes “life without creativity and imagination is hollow.”

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

Hello, John, welcome to Lemon Drop Literary. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

What inspired you to be a writer?

I’ve loved creating stories ever since I was a kid. I always had an active imagination. When I was in elementary school, for example, I daydreamed about being an actor starring in my own movies.

I had movie titles figured out and knew what each movie was about.  Some characters and fictional worlds I’ve created as an adult author can trace their roots back to this early time in my life.

Is writing your full-time profession?

Only if you include journalism into the mix. Reporting on pro sports and college sports remains my day job at the moment.

Fiction writing is a part-time pursuit for now. I hope to change that in the not-too-distant future.

How long have you been writing?

My first novel was published in June 2018, but I’ve been writing for three decades. I started writing my earliest stories when I was 12 years old. My parents owned an old manual typewriter and had set it up on a table in the back of the kitchen.

An older sister of mine wrote some short stories, and I decided one day I could write stories too. I grabbed some orange typing paper and started typing up stories on the typewriter.

Those early stories were about a litter of mischievous kittens based on some pet cats our family owned at the time. I eventually wrote nine connected stories about the kittens by the time I got into high school. Since that time, I have continued to write fiction and poetry.

Can you tell us about your experiences as a sports reporter?

When someone finds out I work as a sports reporter, their reaction is something like: “That must be so exciting getting paid to watch sports! You have a dream job.”

It surprises them when I reply it’s like any other job. Some days you enjoy it. Other days you can’t stand it. I’ve had tons of fun experiences in my 15 years of writing about sports.

I’ve ridden in a race car at 160 miles per hour. I’ve been able to witness athletes set world records. I’ve covered March Madness (the NCAA men’s basketball tournament) on several occasions.

I’ve also endured more stressful deadlines and sleepless nights than I care to remember. It can take a toll. Covering sports such as football or basketball creates a demanding day-to-day schedule, especially with social media basically demanding fresh content around the clock.

How has being a sports reporter influenced your work?

Being a reporter has helped me strengthen my observation skills. I see how people act, talk, and react in a wide variety of situations. I see how different personalities mesh with one another.

It has proven useful in crafting characters and dialogue that feel drawn from the real world. One of my primary goals in creating stories is to build a world populated with characters and settings that feel authentic. What I’ve observed and learned as a reporter helps me to better achieve such a goal.

Photo courtesy of: John Coon

How many books have you written?

I’ve published one novel so far and I’m currently working on my second one. Pandora Reborn, my debut novel, was released in June 2018.

Which genres do you write?

I write in multiple genres because I have ideas for stories and characters I want to develop that fit into different genres. Sometimes, I blend multiple genres within the same story. 

Pandora Reborn is primarily a young adult horror story that also blends elements from fantasy, mystery, and thriller genres. My upcoming novel will primarily be a science fiction thriller, but could also include a few horror elements because of the characters and the setting.

Honestly, it’s fun to not limit yourself to a single genre as a writer. It allows more flexibility and creativity in telling the story you want told.

What do you find most challenging writing for these genres?

For me, the one challenge in every story is making sure it feels authentic. I want to make these fictional worlds feel real, even when fantastic elements are involved.

Every fictional world is the real world to the characters who live in it. For that reason, I want their actions, reactions, and interactions to feel true to life.

Nothing bothers me more in genre fiction than plot armor. Forcing characters to say and do things simply because the plot tells them that’s what they’re supposed to do. It makes for uninteresting stories.

Drama and suspense build organically when characters feel like real people. You become emotionally invested in their journey and their fate ultimately matters to you.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently writing my second novel, the aforementioned science fiction thriller. I plan to publish it later this spring.

The story will follow four college students who are confronted with the results of alien genetic experimentation after being trapped in an isolated Texas town during a spring break road trip. It’s a re-imagining of a short story I wrote in college.

I expanded the narrative and added some characters and subplots to help flesh it out to novel length. Beyond that story, I have other science fiction novels in the works and a pair of sequels to Pandora Reborn in development.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

My characters are a melting pot of various personalities I’ve encountered and interacted with throughout my life. Like I mentioned earlier, I always pay attention to how other people act, interact, and react in situations, so my characters feel like real people.

Still, I don’t intentionally base any character on a single individual for obvious reasons. Many people would not react favorably to encountering a fictionalized version of themselves within a story.

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

Honestly, it has been a thrill to see so many people enjoy Pandora Reborn. I’ve received more favorable reviews and positive feedback than I ever anticipated. I love seeing other people embrace characters and stories that kicked around in my head for years.  It has given me tons of confidence while working on my second novel.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

Find your own voice. I often see advice to new authors that tells them to mimic what popular authors are doing or tells them to figure out which genre sells and dive in head first. That’s terrible advice, in my opinion.

The best thing you can do as an author is be true to yourself. Tell a story you want to tell. Then take plenty of time to craft it so that it is told in the best way possible. You will find an audience eventually and they will appreciate something that is authentic and well-written.

What readers don’t appreciate are slapdash by-the-numbers stories that are transparently designed to make a quick buck.

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

I’m the type of person who tries to make the world around me a better place. Life is so much better when we all choose to be good people.

We can bring happiness into our lives and other people’s lives by being kind, honest, and caring. I strive to live each day with this philosophy guiding me.

Photo courtesy of: John Coon

What message are you sharing in your books?

It really depends on the book. I don’t set out to impose a specific message on a novel. It just evolves organically as the story unfolds.

With Pandora Reborn, for example, a key message that emerges is the danger of being isolated. You look at all the major characters and they are all isolated to one degree or another when the story begins.

Ron Olson illustrates this perfectly. He is in a new town cut off from his old friends and his dad. Ron wants nothing to do with Deer Falls. As the story progresses, he learns in a real way that he can’t live isolated.

He is forced to find allies when a terrifying ancient witch begins wreaking havoc. It also forces Ron to repair his relationship with his mother to ensure her survival. The overall message, in a way, is that life’s battles are not meant to be fought alone and cannot be won alone.

What are your favorite books/authors?

Growing up, my favorite authors were Jack London, C.S. Lewis, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Edgar Allan Poe. I love the way they could build a world and make each character feel so real and alive — even in the most extreme or fantastic circumstances.

As an adult, I have also enjoyed fiction from authors like Michael Crichton, Stephen King, John Grisham, and Phillip K. Dick. My all-time favorite books are The Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve read every book in that series cover to cover multiple times.

Photo courtesy of: John Coon

What are your favorite movies, TV shows?

I have always loved Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s the perfect adventure movie with so many fun, iconic moments and memorable characters.

The original Star Wars trilogy ranks among my all-time favorites as well. My brother and I watched Star Wars so much as kids, we had memorized the dialogue from A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi word-for-word at one point.

The Simpsons is my no. 1 favorite TV show. Anyone who is around me long enough will hear me start dropping random quotes from episodes of The Simpsons into conversations. Sometimes, on Twitter, I’ll tweet out a quote of the day when I’m catching a first-run episode or a rerun.

Photo courtesy of: John Coon

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

If I’m not in front of my laptop, I’m most likely on a mountain conquering a new hiking trail or off finding something fun or interesting to capture in a photograph.

I grew up in a rural part of Utah, so I love the outdoors. I feel at peace when I can get away from the noise and lights of the city.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

My main author website can be found at johncoon.net. I have a blog up there where I share my experiences, offer useful writing tips, and spotlight books I’ve enjoyed from other indie authors.

Readers can also connect with me in the following places:

Facebook (www.facebook.com/jcoon)

Instagram (www.instagram.com/jcoon312)

Twitter (www.twitter.com/johncoonsports)

Goodreads (www.goodreads.com/author/show/18159853.John_Coon)

Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/johncoon)

Where can we find your books?

Pandora Reborn is available to purchase as an ebook or a paperback at most major online booksellers around the world.

Amazon –

ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DVRVG31

paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732487111

Barnes and Noble –

ebook: https://bit.ly/2KbaaNn

paperback: https://bit.ly/2R9WxhJ

Kobo –

ebook: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/pandora-reborn

Google Books –

ebook: https://bit.ly/2TxIofB

Apple Books –

ebook:  https://apple.co/2SqhgSo

Wal-Mart –

ebook: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Pandora-Reborn-eBook/973880190

paperback: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Pandora-Reborn/528186889

BAM! (Books-a-Million) –

paperback: https://tinyurl.com/y9fp4au4

Indiebound –

paperback: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781732487116

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

Photo courtesy of: John Coon

Interview With Romance Author Kirsten Nairn

Kirsten Nairn has a secret. It’s so hush-hush that even her family and close friends don‘t know what it is. The only people she’s shared this secret with is her readers and me. Would you like to know what her big secret is?

Kirsten is a writer. Her first contemporary romance novel A Sorry Affair debuted on July 31, 2017.

Edinburgh Castle
Photo courtesy of: Chris Sherlock; courtesy of:commons.wikimedia.org

Kirsten lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. Her favorite city is Edinburgh. She thinks it’s the most romantic city in the world and used it as the setting for A Sorry Affair.

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

Hello, Kirsten, and welcome. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

Pin Me Please!

What inspired you to be a writer?

I’m not sure anything inspired me as such, but more I just needed a shove to get me to put pen to paper! I work full time, have two children and naively thought I’d start writing when I was on maternity leave������. It took another 14 years to get me to a point where I had a spare, quiet moment to write.

Is writing your full-time profession?

No, I do it as a hobby at the moment. I’d love to do it full time, but it’s not viable at the moment. Maybe when I retire…

How long have you been writing?

Only about 3-4 years, although I had lots of stories in my head before that.

How many books have you written?

1 published and three more manuscripts almost ready for submission, another two ‘in-progress’.

Photo courtesy of: Kirsten Nairn

Which genre do you write? 

Contemporary Romance

What do you find most challenging writing for this genre?

Nothing challenging about the genre just the actual writing process.

Photo courtesy of: Pixel2013; courtesy of: Pixabay

What are you working on now?

I am really trying to get my current manuscript ready for submission, but I am also working on another about a holiday romance which blossoms, turns into a long distance relationship and in turn focusses on the dilemma of the main character and the choices and decisions she has to make

.Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

Well, my inspiration for the story above came from something I saw written in the sand at St. Andrew’s beach- I won’t give it away here as it features in the story.

My inspiration for A Sorry Affair came from a conversation I overheard on a train.

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

The marketing and promotion process- it’s all completely new and daunting, however I have built an author platform from scratch, developed a website and connected with people all over the world.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

If you have an idea, just find time and space and start writing. Hopefully the words will flow. Don’t think about it too much to begin with and get it all down on paper.

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

I write in secret! No one, not even my family or friends know I write or have published a book.

What message are you sharing in your books?

My stories are mainly high on the angst and emotional turmoil of some relationships, but there’s usually a happily ever after of sorts. If there’s any message it’s that all relationships have ups and downs and everyone makes mistakes. Whether we can move on and accept them is the big question.

What are your favorite books?           

Oh way too many to mention. I love all the John Irving books- The World According toGarp, The Hotel New Hampshire. Lord of the Rings, The Harry Potter series, Twilight, the classics, such as Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, anything by Mhairi McFarlane and Nick Spalding.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows?

Any films from the books listed above, but I also love the film, About Time, directed by Richard Curtis and in fact, anything by Richard Curtis.

Photo courtesy of: Kirsten Nairn

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

Working, running around after my children and their animals, running on my own, at the gym.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?                

Yes. Here are my links

facebook https://www.facebook.com/Kirsten-Nairn-1886899944963399/

twitter  https://twitter.com/KirstenNairn

Google plus https://plus.google.com/116661743998012242113

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.co.uk/chrnairn25/

my website https://kirstennairn.wordpress.com/

A Sorry Affair ‘landing page’ https://asorryaffair.wordpress.com/

Where can we find your books?

Amazon

Kobo

Waterstones

Smashwords

Goodreads

Barnes and Noble

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

Photo courtesy of: Kirsten Nairn

Interview With Author/Teacher Dean Russell-Rands

Dean Russell-Rands is a teacher, a writer, and an advocate for the under-represented. He discovered his passion for performing arts at a young age and has taken this creative zest with him wherever he goes, whether it be teaching in an elementary school classroom, writing a picture book, or reading children’s stories on his Youtube channel.

Dean lives in Essex with his husband and their cat named Shadow.

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

Pin Me Please!

Hello, Dean, and welcome. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

What inspired you to be a writer?

I’ve always been a creative person and a bit of a dreamer, really. I guess some people would say I had an overactive imagination (and hopefully I still do).

I started writing and performing at a young age–I had a poem published at age 9, a short story published at age 11, and then another poem at age 15.

Is writing your full-time profession?

It’s not my full-time occupation yet. I’m a teacher and I’m currently working as a supply teacher.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was young but I’ve taken it more seriously since completing my performing arts degree. I have a catalogue of stories saved and recently I put my hand to illustrating so I could self-publish.

Photo courtesy of: Dean Russell-Rands

How has teaching influenced your writing?

I had settled into a lovely school which I miss dearly but I realized that I was telling children to follow their dreams and I hadn’t fully chased my own.

Also, I told my last class I was getting married to a man, and they were so accepting but together we noticed that there aren’t many books that promote equality, diversity and inclusion.

I decided then I’d focus on my creative dreams and publish books that all children and families could relate to.

Photo courtesy of: Dean Russell-Rands

How many books have you written?

At the moment,  I’ve self-published one book ‘Love, Cuddled & Tickled Too!’. However, I have a catalogue of stories I continue to develop and tweak.

Can you tell us a little about your Youtube Channel Big Box Of Books?

I very quickly discovered that self-publishing requires a lot of effort and a lot of promotion. I turned to social media and my YouTube channel was born.

Big Box of Books is a tool I use to promote lesser known books including my own. There are so many great books out there that deserve to be read many times over.

What inspired you to start your Youtube Channel?

It was primarily my own struggle to promote my book but also seeing so many new children’s authors on Facebook pages and Instagram.

How can an author have their book read on your channel?

They can contact me via my Facebook page, Instagram or my website www.deanrussellrands.com

Photo courtesy of: Dean Russell-Rands

Which genre do you write? 

I write children’s picture books.

What do you find most challenging writing for this genre?

I think it’s about keeping an open mind to the age range of books–it’s important to remember the age of your audience but with important topics like ‘equality’ you want to remain as accessible as possible so that the right message can be spread to lots of readers.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a book that’s all about being different. It begins with everyone and everything looking the same but someone has an idea and it all starts to change…

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

With my first book, it was a lot about the families I worked with. I had a multi-racial girl in my class and I included a multi-racial family in the story so she could feel included.

With this book, it’s mostly people on the street and clowns. I think my inspiration is usually what I see around me and parts of myself that I want to explore too.

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

Recently, a girl at the school I’m currently working in told me she’d found my book. She said she really liked it and that it was a very important message for others to hear.

If I can make one child realize that love is love then I did my job.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

Just do it, take the plunge–once you put the effort into getting your work out there, more opportunities will come.

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

I have two beliefs–everyone has the right to be happy and everyone has the right to be treated equally.

Photo courtesy of: Dean Russell-Rands

What message are you sharing in your books?

Hopefully, exactly what I’ve written for question 16. We’re all different but deserve to be treated the same.

What are your favorite books/authors?

I have soooo many. I love Rachel Bright and Tom Fletcher.

As for adult books, I love an emotional story–Cecelia Ahearn and Rowan Coleman are great for that.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows?

I’m a total Netflix fan–Grace and Frankie is fantastic. I’m also desperate to watch Homecoming because I LOVE Julia Roberts.

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

If I’m not writing, I’m usually watching tv or a show. I love Wicked the musical. I also like travelling and this year I’ve got trips booked to New York and Disney World.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

There are links to all of my social media on my website: http://www.deanrussellrands.com/

Where can we find your books?

 Search for me on Amazon.

I’m currently organizing book signings with a certain Highstreet store and I’ll post the details on my website as soon I have finalized the details.

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

Photo courtesy of: Dean Russell-Rands

Interview With Author Kristin Ward

Kristin Ward is a benevolent soul who cares deeply about our environment. This love of nature comes through in her thought provoking writing where she presents characters and themes pertinent to our modern day society’s damaging effects on the world.

Kristin has a wonderful sense of humor, enjoys long walks with her family and welcomes the chance to spout her favorite movie quotes.

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

Pin Me Please!

Hello, Kristin, and welcome. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

What inspired you to be a writer?

I would have to go back to middle school, 7th grade to be precise. When my English teacher, whom I still keep in close contact with, likened my writing to Saki, the author of The Interlopers, I was hooked.

That defining moment began my foray into mad scribblings of terrible poetry and story starters galore.

As an adult, I spent many years dabbling in writing and began a few book ideas I have yet to complete, though I may never finish those as my interest waned.

The inspiration for my first self-published novel came from research I conducted while writing a graduate course in environmental education. As I dug into the history of the earth and learned about various environmental shifts, a seedling of an idea took root.

I began to wonder what the world would look like if drought ravaged the planet and water became the global currency. While this first book took about five years to write, family and career being the primary reason for the delay, I finally reached that pinnacle of achievement and published in May 2018.

The sequel was published in November, following a very strict deadline I had set for myself after completing the first book.

Is writing your full-time profession?

I would love to be an author full-time. In fact, that is an aspiration. However, I have a career outside of my author life I enjoy.

How long have you been writing? *see the response to the first question

Photo courtesy of: Kristin Ward

Have you won any awards?

Yes! I am overjoyed to say I recently won the 2018 Best Indie Book Award in young adult fiction. This award was incredibly validating as it tells me that the premise of my story and writing style have merit.

I have entered other competitions and will enter the sequel as well. I feel that book awards are a great way to reach a broad reader base and increase exposure as an author.

How many books have you written?

I have published two books. My plan for 2019 is to publish another two novels and a collection of my poetry (My 7th grade English teacher has repeatedly asked that I do so as she loves the poems I post on social media). 

Which genres do you write? 

My first two books, and my current work in progress, are in the young adult category. However, I have numerous story ideas floating around in my head and plan on branching out into adult fiction as well.

Photo courtesy of: Kristin Ward

What do you find most challenging writing for these genres?

I think the biggest hurdles, in any genre, are originality and large-scale appeal. While I feel that my first two works are original ideas, I struggle with reaching a broad reader base that includes teens.

Most of my readers are out of high school. I do a great deal of advertising and am active on social media in an effort to attract readers who enjoy dystopian fiction and hope that my novels find their way into the hands of high schoolers.

What are you working on now?

My current work in progress is a sci-fi-fantasy crossover with a bit a romance, all entwined in an environmental theme. I’m having a lot of fun developing the characters in this story and I’m looking forward to reaching the point when I can write the big action scenes. My goal is a spring release of this work.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

My inspiration comes from a variety of sources. I love reading a wide range of genres and am always inspired by the characters and story lines. I also get many of my ideas from my own interests and research I do along the way.

Like all authors, the characters I write always have pieces of my personality within them. The main character in my current work definitely has my sense of humor!

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

There are a few experiences that have been true milestones in this journey. The first of these was the moment I clicked submit on Amazon’s site.

It was elating and terrifying. My work would officially be in the hands of readers. This thing I had nurtured and kept close to my heart was suddenly out there for everyone to read, interpret and comment on.

It’s a bit like dropping one of my sons off at school for the first day of kindergarten! I was excited and a nervous wreck!

The most rewarding experiences come in the form of reader’s comments. Not everyone will like what an author writes, but when a reader takes the time to compose an honest review, it’s profound.

I have been blessed with a few truly glowing reviews that reflect the connection readers have with the characters and content of the books. A couple of comments on the sequel show a depth of understanding and appreciation for the message the story is conveying.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

“If you dream it, you can do it!” ~ Walt Disney

That quote sums up how I feel about someone who longs to be a writer. Publishing has transformed over the years and this shift has opened the door for new voices to make themselves known and share their work.

Self-publishing provides a platform accessible to everyone. Plus, the indie author community is incredibly supportive and I’m grateful to have joined their ranks.

For those writers just beginning their journey, here is some sound advice:

Hire an editor! Everyone needs one. I love my editor, David Taylor of thEditors.com. He’s helped me develop my first drafts into something wonderful through his expertise and understanding of the story I want to tell.

Establish a website and begin blogging. This was actually my first step. I started my blog and worked to establish a reader base for my blog and newsletter. It’s a great way to connect with readers and is a good platform to practice your writing chops!

Get on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter! Twitter is a huge platform for authors, agents, and publishers. On Facebook, you’ll find author groups that will enable you to connect and support each other.

Learn how to market your book. I never realized how important marketing is when publishing a book until I started this adventure. Author groups on Facebook are a great marketing asset!

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

I love connecting with readers and I’m very active on social media! Please reach out as I would love to hear from you

What message are you sharing in your books?

Big themes in my books revolve around the environment. In my first book, After the Green Withered, my main character inherited a world we are in the midst of creating.

Perhaps if people had made different choices, her world and the challenges she faces would be much different. I feel it’s important for us, as human beings, to step back and think about the world future generations will inherit. Every action is important, and no action is too small to make a difference.

What are your favorite books/authors?

In the dystopian genre, I really enjoyed The Giver, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Hunger Games. Each of these stories touches on themes that are thought-provoking.

I’m also a classic re-reader. The true test of whether I love a book or just like it is if I will re-read it. One of my favorite books to read every few years is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet.

This epic saga is a roller coaster of action, emotion, intrigue, corruption, and storytelling that takes me back to a world I love to visit every time I read it.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows?

I’m a movie nut and I quote movies. A lot. My favorite movie quotes come from The Princess Bride. If you were to come to my house and utter the phrase, “No more rhyming now, I mean it!” There would be a chorus of, “Anybody want a peanut?” Yep, from The Breakfast Club to Guardians of the Galaxy, my movie favorites come out in numerous quotes and references.

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

I love taking walks with my sons and our dogs. When the weather is nice and trails aren’t muddy, you can find me in the woods. I also enjoy relaxing at home, curling up on the sofa with a good book or chilling out with a great flick.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/kristin_ward_author/

website:

https://www.writingandmythreesons.com

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Kristin-Ward/e/B07D5LC4CR/

Twitter:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/KristinWardAuthor/

Where can we find your books?

Amazon:

And other online retailers:

https://www.books2read.com/b/after-the-green-withered

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

Interview With Children’s Author Margot Finke

Margot Finke is a natural-born storyteller. At ten, she discovered her talent for weaving a great tale but later put it aside to raise a family. This passion for spinning stories resurfaced during her time as a teacher’s aide and has inspired her to write an impressive sixteen books.

Originally from Australia, Margot Finke now lives in the USA with her family.

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

Pin Me Please!

Hello, Margot, and welcome.

Thank you for having me.

What inspired you to be a writer?

I have always written things—from the age of about 10.  I still have the first short story I wrote then–about a dog and her puppies.

Is writing your full-time profession?

Yes, it is. I didn’t begin full time writing until after I watched the taillights of our youngest kid’s car disappear down the road– off to college!  I need peace and quiet to write.  Rarely found when three teenagers live at home!

How did being a teacher‘s aide influence your writing?
It really gave me a huge PUSH.  A teacher I worked with heard me telling stories about the Aussie animals and the native people Down Under – the aboriginals. The indigenous people as they like to be called these days.

I used a detailed Australian map, and classes would pick an animal for me to talk about.  One teacher loved the tales I told – right off the top of my head.  She said I should write them down.  I did, and my “Magic Carpet of Books” was born.

How long have you been writing?
Bits and pieces, plays and stories, for as long as I can remember.  Seriously, for approximately 25 years I was one of the first to twist my husband’s arm into buying a computer. He didn’t GET it, but I did.

Being online opened a fantastic new world of writing and publishing contacts and opportunities. I got in touch with other writers and joined a wonderful critique group.  The six of us were all struggling to write well and were then unpublished. Every one of us had a fire in our belly to reach that Holy of Holies, Published Authorhood!

Photo courtesy of: Margot Finke

How many books have you written?
I have 16 books published, from picture books up to mid-grade.

Which genre do you write? 

I write a mixed bag of educational books for ages 5 through 10 years—fantasy, outback adventure that features Aussie aboriginals, family saga, ghost mystery,  helpful themes, and picture books with fun facts about animals (some in rhyme).

What do you find most challenging writing for this genre?
Ideas are not a challenge. An idea or theme comes and I do research if necessary, and then the idea takes shape—characters, facts, and the plot come together in an organic and natural way.

Although,  characters sometimes try to take over. But I tell them I’m the boss.  They might grumble and snarl a little, but threatening to kill them off in the last chapter usually works. After all, as the author I have the ultimate power, and my rambunctious characters know it!

What are you working on now?

At the moment, a medley of rhymes about life is milling about inside my brain. Some of my picture books are in rhyme, and I have always had a talent for writing that way. So, who knows what I will spin onto my pages in the coming months.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

Ideas come, stay a while, and then either become stored away for later use, or designated as trash.  Most of them come in the dead of night when I should be sleeping. 

I sneak into our bathroom, so as not wake my husband, and jot these freshly germinated ideas onto the paper I keep there—just in case genius strikes.

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

Definitely my SKYPE Author visits to classrooms in the US and other countries. I chat about what goes into writing a terrific story, and the importance of using active and powerful words. I also offer the teacher free books + other writing helpers. Students have fun while learning.

Hearing from individual kids, or the classes I have Skyped with, how much they loved my books. This happens a lot when I do a Skype Classroom Presentation. They have usually already read a selection of my books. I love answering their questions and chatting to them about the fun of writing stories of their own. Most children’s authors write for the LOVE of it. To not write is unthinkable!  We certainly don’t write for the big bucks we earn! 

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?
That’s easy.  Know the basics before you begin—grammar and punctuation are vital.  Use powerful words that paint mental pictures in your readers’ heads. FOCUS on tight plots, good pace, and characters that feel venerable and real.

Find a great critique group, where you all advise, offer comments, and encourage each other—one that writes for the same age as yourself.  My group played a huge part in my becoming published.

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?
Well for starters, I’m an Aussie transplant. I met and married a New York fellow while in Australia, and we ended up settling in Oregon. 

I clearly remember the first half of my life Down Under, so my Aussie roots are deep. I guess that’s why some of my books have Aussie themes and animals. 

Raising three kids, gardening, reading and travel, have filled the cracks between writing and promoting my books. Our three children turned out pretty well and live fairly close to us. We also have four delightful grandchildren, and one awesome great grandson.

Photo courtesy of: Margot Finke

What message are you sharing in your books?

I like to make my books “kid friendly,” with lots of fun, adventure, and things to learn tucked in here-and-there. When the story grips a child’s interest, learning simply becomes automatic.

What are your favorite books/authors?

Alice in Wonderland as a child. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, at the moment. 

A past favorite is The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, both by Khaled Hosseini. His use of descriptive language took me with him on his journey. I fell into the story and stayed there until it was done.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows?
This is Us, and Downton Abbey.

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

These days, winter finds me writing in my den, or by the fire, catching up on my reading. In summer, I help my husband in our extensive garden, enjoy the birds and hummers as they feed, or read in the shade while birds bathe in our two fountains. 

We used to travel a lot, but airports and plane travel today is not the fun it used o be. The last time we travelled, we ended up sleeping on the airport floor, because of some snafu or other.  My bones are still recovering!

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

Yes I do.*Website: http://www.margotfinke.com   ( Books-Writing Help –and more ).
*SKYPE Author Visits and Presentations to Schools: http://virtualschoolvisits.blogspot.com/

*Amazon/Kindle :
http://tinyurl.com/j26s6wu
*Facebook:  (Timeline)
https://www.facebook.com/margot.finke
*Linkedin:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/margot-finke-1a73608/ 
*Alignable Group: (vote for me as Small Business Person of the Year)
https://www.alignable.com/newberg-or/margot-finkes-world-of-books-for-children

*PINTEREST Boards:  ( My Books, Food, Parenting/Family, Teachers, Writing,  Special Needs, “Content” Editing,  +  much more:
https://www.pinterest.com/margotfinke/boards/   

Where can we find your books?
You can order my discounted and autographed books through my Website.  Email me – mfinke@frontier.com 

Also Amazon  (http://tinyurl.com/j26s6wu  ), B & N, + Little Book Cave.

I would like to thank Ellwyn for taking the time to interview me, and YOU, her wonderful Blog Fans, for reading about me.

Margot Finke–“Content” Editing.
Magic Carpet of 16x Books.

Skype Classroom Presentations.

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

Photo courtesy of: Margot Finke

Interview With Author Rosemary A. Johns

Everyone loves a rebel, most especially Rosemary A. Johns. A self-proclaimed rebel, Rosemary’s best-selling and multi-award winning fantasy novels are chock full of rabble-rousers, villains, and anti-heroes who fight in epic battles.

Rosemary lives in Oxford, where she enjoys listening to music, reading and cultivating her inner rebel.

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

Pin Me Please!

Hello, Rosemary, and welcome.

What inspired you to be a writer?

First, thanks for having me on Ellwyn!

I’ve always loved reading, and Oxford (where I live) has a rich history of fantasy writing. My parents allowed me to read their fantasy and science fiction books as well as explore our local libraries from a young age.

Yet I call it being compelled to write: I have a world inside my head that plays out – I see my stories like films and it’s a compulsion to write them down. I was a playwright before, as well as an actor and director, so writing has always been a part of me.

Is writing your full-time profession?

Yes—as well as being my passion!

How long have you been writing?

When I was eight years old, I wrote my first novel. My first short story was published when I was fourteen. I then wrote plays and owned a theatre company before turning to novels. 

Photo courtesy of: Rosemary A. Johns

Have you won any awards?

Yes, and I’m always honoured, whether they’re from the industry or voted for by readers. In theatre, you have immediate feedback (I loved acting in comedies for the buzz of making people laugh!), but when you write you only have awards or reviews to get that response, which is why they’re precious.

Recent awards include: Silver Award in the National Wishing Shelf Book Awards. Finalist in the IAN Book of the Year Awards. Runner-up in the Best Fantasy Book of the Year, Reality Bites Book Awards. Shortlisted in the International Rubery Book Awards.

Photo courtesy of: Rosemary A. Johns

How many books have you written?

An award-winning trilogy called REBEL VAMPIRES, which is a twist on vampire mythology with a sexy British vampire anti-hero at its heart.

Two novellas in USA Today Bestselling boxed sets.

Also, a USA Today Bestselling five book series called REBEL ANGELS, which is about an epic war between angels and vampires, with an unexpected heroine at its heart. It’s a sort of Buffy meets Lucifer, where vampires and angels are locked in a deadly war. Half vampire/half angel but raised by humans, Violet is caught between both sides… who want her back.

Photo courtesy of: Rosemary A. Johns

Which genres do you write? 

My genres are fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal normal romance and dark fantasy.

What do you find most challenging writing for these genres(s)?

Writing is about truth and emotion: it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about angels or the breakup of a marriage in 1950s America.

The trick is to find the universals and how it connects to the reader by putting all of yourself into the book—even the dark places—and shining a light on emotions, so that the reader sees themselves.

So, when I write fantasy, it’s magical and thrilling… but it’s also about trust, abandonment, fathers and daughters, love and what home means.

It’s not challenging, but it’s my one fundamental rule: where’s the truth. This probably comes from being an actress!

Photo courtesy of: Rosemary A. Johns

What are you working on now?

The fourth book in the REBEL ANGELS series is about to release on the 8th January: VAMPIRE MAGE. When three wishes offer Violet’s deepest desires, she should know better than to trust them. But can her shifter, vampire, and angel lovers save her from the dangerous magic unfurling inside her, or is LOVE the most dangerous magic of all…?

VAMPIRE MAGE: http://Viewbook.at/VampireMage

 I’m just starting to work on the fifth book in the series and it will be epic…

Photo courtesy of: Rosemary A. Johns

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

Light, in REBEL VAMPIRES, is a savant vampire who remembers everything as he lives over the centuries, and this is both a blessing and a curse.

http://viewbook.at/BloodDragons

The idea was inspired by my son who’s an autistic savant. Another character within the book is an autistic vampire, and one thing I always do within my books is reflect society across all spectrums—and as the heroes. Yet apart from his savant ability, Light’s voice sprang complete into my head.

Maybe because of my theatre background, voices usually come to me first, then I work on the character: how will they move? What clothes would they wear? What music would they listen to?

In REBEL ANGELS, Rebel, my punk Irish angel, sprang alive as soon as I knew these background details.

Photo courtesy of: Rosemary A. Johns

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

My Rebels! I have a fan group and street team called the Rebels, and they’ve been an incredible support, especially at more difficult times that all writers face, such as being trolled.

I receive messages and fan art around both series and hearing how much a book means to someone or has helped them is massively rewarding.

Light in particular has made a difference to people who have felt alone, a misfit, or the outsider (which is all of us at one time or another!), but he’s become the hero despite it and so he’s helped them through dark times. Books and characters have done that for me. I love Light and Violet, and my hope is that readers will as well!

You can apply to join Rosemary’s Rebels here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/698811356958470

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

Only write what you’re truly passionate about. Publishing is a difficult business, but if you start from the point of truly caring about what you write, then it’ll see you through.

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

You can sign up to my *VIP* newsletter here with news of my releases, promotions, and the free novella ALL THE TIN SOLDIERS: https://mailchi.mp/rosemaryajohns/subscribe-rebel-newsletter

This is where you can follow me or drop me a line!

Website: https://rosemaryajohns.com

Bookbub:https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rosemary-a-johns

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RosemaryAnnJohns

Twitter: @RosemaryAJohns

What message are you sharing in your books?

I’m a subversive artist—this means I challenge society’s lies: disabled people can’t be successful, money makes you happy, or men must be more dominant than women.

At the heart of my Rebel books are the themes of freedom, choice, and diversity. But it’s not a message, rather it’s themes: a reader can make up their own minds.

What are your favorite books/authors?

I have SO many… I read every day!

My favourite book is The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. I was a teenager when I read it for the first time.

It had a major impact because I realized you could write a beautiful monster who knew he was a monster. But have the reader still love him and be unable to put the book down. It inspired my love for the antihero. When I’m compared to Anne Rice, therefore, it’s extra special!

What are your favorite movies, TV shows?

Movies are a big inspiration for me: acting, writing, and directing… they’re all crafts. I love studying what works (or doesn’t!) and why.

I’m also into bingeing on boxed sets. There are incredible TV shows in fantasy, paranormal, and sci-fi: Buffy was my original love!

Thor: Ragnarok and the Guardians of the Galaxy films probably come the closest to my sense of humour..!

Christ Church, Oxford, UK: Photo courtesy of: Wikimediahttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christ_Church_Cathedral_Interior_2,_Oxford,_UK_-_Diliff.jpg

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

I’m a British author. I went to Christ Church, which is the college where they filmed Harry Potter, and I still do events and readings sometimes in Oxford. I also do events online, so you can find me wherever you are in the world!

Where can we find your books?

You can find them on Amazon: on Kindle, paperback, and audio book. You can also download them for FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

Here are the links:

BOOKS IN THE REBEL VERSE by ROSEMARY A JOHNS:

REBEL ANGELS:

VAMPIRE HUNTRESS: viewbook.at/VampireHuntress

VAMPIRE PRINCESS: viewbook.at/VampirePrincess

VAMPIRE DEVIL: http://Viewbook.at/VampireDevil

VAMPIRE MAGE: http://Viewbook.at/VampireMage

REBEL VAMPIRES TRILOGY:

http://viewbook.at/BloodDragons
http://viewbook.at/BloodShackles
http://viewbook.at/BloodRenegades

Thanks, this has been awesome!

You’re welcome. Thank you, Rosemary, for taking the time to share your story with us. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!

Photo courtesy of: Rosemary A. Johns

Interview With Author Rennie St. James

Rennie St. James loves many things: chocolate, horror movies, martial arts, yoga, travel and her three rescue kittens. She also loves to write and support Indie Authors through the Facebook group Clean Speculative Fiction Readers Group.

Rennie lives in Virginia and is a  proud member of house Slytherin.

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

Pin Me Please!

Hello, Rennie, and welcome. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

What inspired you to be a writer? 

I had the idea for my fantasy series in college but didn’t have a clue how to proceed.  It was years later that fan fiction inspired me to write. 

After six months of fan fiction, I was back to my original series and working hard. My fan fiction lessons have stayed with me and inspired some changes too.  Thanks to Grimm and Arrow, I love an ensemble cast and strong friendships.

Is writing your full-time profession?

No, unfortunately, I have a full-time job in the real world. 

How long have you been writing?

I posted my first fan fiction story December 2013. After a rather bumpy publishing history, I re-released the first books in my fantasy series this past fall as an indie author.

Photo courtesy of: Rennie St. James

How many books have you written?

While I’ve released three, I have three more written for the series.  I have also completed two romances and a collection of short stories I’ve yet to publish.

Which genre do you write? 

Currently, I’m writing urban fantasy, but I plan to branch out into romances in the next two years.

Photo courtesy of: Rennie St. James

What do you find most challenging writing for this genre?

While good characters and a strong plot are always necessary, fantasy requires a bit of world-building.  It is both challenging and exciting to bring magic into the real world though.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the next books in The Rahki Chronicles, a new grittier fantasy series,and some romances.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

Basically, anything I’ve ever read or watched inspires my characters.  Real world interactions also add to them. There’s the additional fact that I share many similarities with my heroes and villains!

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

I’ve been fortunate in my ARC reviews. One reader claimed a character as her book boyfriend. Another new reader friend revealed I’d caused her sleepless nights as she wanted to find out what happened. 

It was incredibly rewarding to pay it forward as I’ve had my share of book boyfriends and sleepless nights as well.

Photo courtesy of: Rennie St. James

What advice would you give to authors just starting out? 

Find patience.  To paraphrase one of my favorite quotes, writing a book is like telling a joke and having to wait two years to see if it’s funny.  You need patience when writing. 

You must learn to wait to edit newly finished works with fresh eyes.  You must learn to wait for others to read/ review your books.  You must learn to wait for acceptance and rejections.  And while you are waiting, you write.

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

Besides sharing similarities with my characters, writing allows me to share many of my favorite things.  You’ll find many references to martial arts, yoga, travel, history, animals, and chocolate in my stories. 

You’ll find the same things on my social media accounts so expect pictures of my cats and images of my fave desserts!

Photo courtesy of: Rennie St. James

What message are you sharing in your books? 

All of my characters are, in one way or another, finding his/ her place in the world.  I think that’s important for all of us.

What are your favorite books/authors?

 I read according to my mood so I enjoy classics from Jane Austen, steamy paranormal romances from Lynsay Sands, adventure stories from Michael Crichton, and clean, fluffy romances from Kristen Painter. 

I also love supporting Indie Authors and am always looking for my next fun read whether it’s romance, fantasy, adventure, or something entirely new.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows? 

Grimm and Arrow will remain close to my heart for my fan fiction start.  I also enjoy The Big Bang Theory, Elementary, The Good Place, and iZombie. The old school shows Gilmore Girls and Charmed will always be on my watch list.

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

 I enjoy working out at the gym and home. Travel is big hobby of mine so I try to take a couple weeks off each year for it.  Basically though, I’m a bit of homebody and enjoy chilling on the couch with my three kitties, family, and friends.

 Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc? 

My website has all of my social media contact so check me out at https://writerRSJ.com.

You’ll also find travel pictures, contests, free reads, and bonus Rahki material.

Where can we find your books?

Currently, Books 1-3 of The Rahki Chronicles are available from most digital stores.  You’ll definitely want to start with Azimuth: https://www.books2read.com/RahkiWorld

Links:

Website:             https://writerrsj.com/

Facebook:             https://www.facebook.com/writerRSJ/

Instagram:            https://www.instagram.com/writer.rsj/

Twitter:            https://twitter.com/WriterRSJ

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

Photo courtesy of: Rennie St. James