20 Questions With...

20 Questions with…Kate Spitzmiller

 

It wasn’t long ago that I first heard Kate read two of her pieces and I was instantly brought back in time.  As a fan of ancient Greece and Rome I find myself falling in love with her characters along with the history that surrounds them.

Not only have we been awarded by Spider Road Press, but we both have pieces included in Approaching Footsteps which are definitely worth the read until her debut novel is released on Dec. 1 from Spider Road Press.

Even if historical fiction isn’t your thing the characters that Kate creates are so unique yet identifiable that you’ll have to find out what happens to the next.

So without further adieu I bring to you award-winning author Kate Spitzmiller.

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Twenty Questions With…Kate Spitzmiller

 

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours? I think it would have to be a toss-up between Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor.  Heart of Darkness taught me about the power of a single word, the weight just one word can carry, while Shipwrecked Sailor—a much shorter work—taught me about brevity and how much emotion and conflict and tension can be squeezed into a novella. They both taught me how important it is to write about the human condition.

 

  1. How old where you when you started writing? I don’t even remember. My Mom has stories I wrote in first or second grade. The first big project I remember writing formally was in eighth grade. It was for an assignment in social studies class. We were supposed to take on the persona of a representative from the Continental Congress and write a letter from their perspective. I wanted to write from the perspective of John Adams’ wife Abigail. I got a lot of grief from my teacher for that, because Abigail was a woman and not even at the Congress, but I fought my teacher on it and won out. I wrote a great letter!

 

 

  1. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Stephen King (definitely!), Joseph Conrad, James Michener, and Maya Angelou

 

  1. What would you eat? Well, I’m gluten intolerant, so something gluten-free. Maybe sushi. Or some nice mussels or New England clam chowder.

 

 

  1. How do you plot out your work? I’m a bit of a pantster, not a plotter. As an historical fiction writer, usually the scaffold of the story is there for me already, and I can just fill in the gaps with fictional aspects. But some of my best work has come from just having an end goal and then sitting down at the computer and letting the characters working it out on their own. For example, in my upcoming novel Companion of the Ash, I had two characters who had never met before but I needed them to become allies. They were already in an awkward position due to family issues. I had no idea how the conversation was going to go. So, I put them together in a room and just let them talk. The scene ended up being great. Sometimes you just have to let your characters lead the way.

 

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening? I usually get going around four or five o’clock in the afternoon and write until about midnight. I’m a night owl. Occasionally, if I’m working on something that has my head going a mile a minute, I’ll wake up early before work and write.

 

  1. Is there music on? Sometimes. It depends what I’m working on. I have a novel in the works that is set in Vietnam. When I’m working on that, I play Motown music for inspiration.

 

 

  1. What inspired your last story? Weirdly, one of my last published stories was inspired by a dream. I had a dream one night that my husband was a German spy during World War II and everyone hated me for it. I woke up and immediately took notes on the dream. The story, The Song of Saint George, ended up being about a woman who has to be convinced by British Intelligence that her husband is a spy. No one hates her (yet), but the basic element of her being married to a German spy is there.

 

  1. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. I suppose it would be cheating if I listed three Outlander books, so I’ll say the first book in the Outlander series,Continental Drift by Russell Banks, and The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

 

10.  What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? I think Game of Thrones is exceptionally well written. If you watch the bonus material after each episode and hear what the show’s creators have to say about each episode, you get an even greater sense of the meaning behind the writing. It’s good stuff. As for movies, generally speaking, I think anything directed by Ridley Scott is written well. He has a habit it seems of getting great screenwriters. I particularly liked the writing in Gladiator andThe Martian. In music, I am a huge Eagles fan, mostly because of their lyrics. Don Henley and Glen Frey tell great stories with most of their songs. “Lyin’ Eyes” is my favorite. It’s a very sad and poignant tale about two people who love each other but who can only be together very briefly because of circumstance.

 

 

11.  Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? For A Song of Saint George, I’d need a British actress for the role of Mrs. Ridley, so I might cast Sophie Turner fromGame of Thrones. She’d have to cut her hair, though, as the story is set during World War II.

 

12.  Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? In one of my scenes in my upcoming novel, my main character is sexually assaulted. This was a very difficult scene to write from an emotional standpoint. As writers, we get very attached to out characters, and I hated putting her through that. She’d already been through hell, and it was just awful to write. But it was necessary for the story.

 

13. Which was the easiest? I wrote A Song of Saint George in an afternoon—probably three hours—with very little editing. It’s a short piece, and mostly dialogue, but it just seemed to really flow. It’s the easiest thing I’ve ever written.

 

14.  Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? I think The House of Special Purpose, which is my story about Olga, the oldest Romanov daughter during her last days before the family is executed by the Bolsheviks. Even people who didn’t know the original historical story “got it,” and I was even told by a few that they learned something from it. A lot of people said they cried at the end—so I suppose that means they really “got it.”

 

15.  What are you working on now? I’m finishing up a novel set in the Roman Empire, 121 CE. It’s a historical with a romantic twist. I have one chapter to go and then the final edit. The novel is about two people—non-Romans—and their experiences as outsiders living within the Empire. There’s a lot of action and plot twists. I’ve done quite a bit of research for this novel, having traveled to Rome twice and northern England once to gather materials, notes, and photos of places and artifacts related to the time period and the story. Now I just need to get the novel finished!

 

  1. What story do you have to write before you die? Ever since high school, I’ve had an idea for a novel set during the Vietnam War. It’s been buzzing around in my head for months now, and I work on it every now and then. It’s going to be a huge project—Michener-sized. But I see it as my one big work. The entire story is already laid out in my head, I just need to get it down on paper. That’s the story I need to tell before I die.

 

  1. What’s your best fan story? I don’t actually have any fan stories.

 

  1. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? From my Roman novel, in the epilogue, when the main character is describing the life she is living with her husband after their journey across the Roman Empire to freedom, she says: “Daman and Aeneas may both be men who traveled far and honored the will of the Fates, but Daman chose a different path in the end — the path out of darkness; the path of humanity and light.”

 

  1. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Other than my historical characters (like Olga Romanov), one character was based on a person I know. I did that once. S/he is to remain nameless.

 

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character? Andromache, the main character in my upcoming novel Companion of the Ash. I didn’t create her, Homer did, but he made her out to be weak and rather pathetic. My version of her is brave and tough and vulnerable all at the same time. She is also able to forgive. I admire her for that.

 

 

You can find out more about the author on their blog katespitzmiller.com and purchase their work in Spider Road Press’s Approaching Footsteps from Amazon.

Companion of the Ash releases December 1, 2018.

But if you can’t wait until then take a look at some great reads-

The House of Special Purpose

The Song of Saint George

 

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My Girl

 

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20 Questions With...

20 Questions with…T. Haven Morse

She wears so many hats that I don’t even know where to begin.

But I guess that explains her poetry since it too has a million different perspectives.  I suppose it’s because T. Haven Morse perfected the craft of performance before she delved into the art of the written word.

When she’s not enjoying time on her ranch with her husband and children, she’s the girl Friday for Spider Road Press.

I’m so glad to have her on my side, so without further adieu may I introduce you to T. Haven Morse.

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Twenty Questions With…T. Haven Morse

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?

 

When I was eight, I took a small, thin book from my grandmother’s shelf: “Angel Unaware” by Dale Evans Rogers. The tale is written in first person, from the point of view of Dale’s sick daughter. Robin talks to God, sharing the story of her brief time on Earth. That was the first time a book brought me to tears. As Maya Angelou says—make them feel and they will remember. I’ve never forgotten.

 

  1. How old where you when you started writing?

 

In 1987, at the age of eleven, I published my first article for the Jones Gazette (our family newsletter). Titled “Grandparents Coming,” the piece was short but informative. My first paid gig was to write a script for a Six Flags Astroworld show in my early twenties. However, I didn’t actually go “pro” until my late thirties.

 

  1. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.

 

  1. Paulo Coelho—although we might need a translator
  2. Elizabeth Gilbert—she’s a writing idol of mine
  3. Maya Angelou—though we’d require a medium
  4. Holly Lyn Walrath—she’s local and we have lunch every Tuesday, so she’d be an easy one to arrange and I love talking writing-shop with her

 

  1. What would you eat?

 

Would it matter? No, but for the sake of this questionnaire and my longtime vegetarianism, let’s say veggie sushi and tempura with Boston Cream Pie for dessert (it’s my favorite).

 

  1. How do you plot out your work?

 

Each piece is different. Sometimes the story or poem just spills out like an uncontrollable gush of words, characters, and plot. Other times I actually outline the story with a set beginning, middle, end, theme, twists, and beats. However, even with those more structured creations, I always stay flexible for the unknown, alert to unexpected yet ever-present input from the characters or my muse.

 

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening?

 

Every day is my life is different. On certain days, I write first thing in the morning—before the sun is up. Other days, the writing happens in a hammock at high noon. And some days, words meet page after dinner or dark.

 

  1. Is there music on?

 

Almost always. Either the Hans Zimmer channel on Pandora or the DirectTV Movie Soundtrack channels usually. I’m not a fan of lyrics when I write but love emotion-filled music.

 

  1. What inspired your last story?

 

For the first time, I’m actually working with a Story Guide on a fantasy yarn based on a true experience in my life. My guide is the Amazing Alysia Seymour and the story is a metaphorical novelette about my daughter’s birth and the heart-wrenching trials of spending a week in the NICU. Leyna, my counterpart, deals with some nasty demons—inside and outside—as well as meets some extraordinary spirit guides along the way. It’s, by far, the most cathartic and honest work I’ve ever written.

 

  1. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.

 

  1. “By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” by Paulo Coelho
  2. “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert
  3. “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio

 

  1. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?

 

There are many! Currently on TV, I’m loving “The Alchemist” and “The Good Doctor.” In films, one of my favorites that I can’t believe wasn’t a book first is “The Age of Adeline.” I’m pretty much a fan of any screenplay by Darren Aronofsky (my first love of his work was “The Fountain”—still a regular go-to film for me) and Guillermo Del Torro. As for music, having work with Houston Grand Opera for six seasons, I’m a huge opera fan—especially of Iain Bell’s work. He’s incredible, as a writer and a human being.

 

  1. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?

 

I have a number of pieces in progress at the moment, and at all times. Cressida, my romantic fantasy lead for book one of the Feathers of the Phoenix series, would be played by India Eisley or an undiscovered talent with dark-hair and green-eyes. Leyna, fantasy protag in my based-on-true-life novelette, would be played well by Natalie Dormer from Games of Thrones/Hunger Games. Finding the lead for my historical fantasy WIP, “Tales of Tuttleman” might be tougher—Tuttleman is a two hundred year old talking pug. Not sure how we’d manage that one on screen!?! If animation or not, Paul Bettany would do his voice. No question!

 

  1. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?

 

“Cressida”, book one of a romantic fantasy, has been the hardest because she and I started together before I had a clue what I was doing. She went from hardcore romance (verging on erotica) to straight fantasy and has now pendulumed back to somewhere in the middle. But once we’ve figured out the right balance of sexy and fantastical, she’ll be amazing—as will her offspring in the Feathers of the Phoenix series.

 

  1. Which was the easiest?

 

My first poetry collection published, “Flooded By”, simply poured out in about 45 days. That collection is way more muse than me. The persona poet in me took over and ran for the finish line, dragging me behind.

 

  1. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?

 

I just finished a flash piece called “More Than a Pigg” for a contest. With the exception of one beta reader, everyone else who has read her, has absolutely loved the story. They were engrossed, sad to see the end, and were still reeling days later. Hopefully, she’ll win the contest and be published later this year. If not, I will definitely shop her around more. People need to hear this story.

 

  1. What are you working on now?

 

Lots of things! See above. 🙂 In a nutshell, book one of a romantic fantasy series, a free-standing fantasy novelette based on a true event in my life, a novella about a two hundred year old talking pug (think Forrest Gump meets Frank from Men in Black), and a series of chapbooks based on writing prompts called “Splintered Musings.” No, I don’t sleep. And when I do, I dream in epic storylines!?!

 

  1. What story do you have to write before you die?

 

All of them. I will write until my last day, I have no doubt. My muse is faithful and will guide me to the stories I need to share.

 

  1. What’s your best fan story?

 

One of the poems in “Flooded By” is a glimpse into the love between a ghost-woman named Melody and a Catholic priest. It’s pure and complicated and lovely. I’ve had many readers, including some esteemed writer colleagues, tell me how much they love that poem. I love it too.

 

  1. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?

 

This is hard for a multi-genre writer like me, whose style is all over the place. But let’s go with this one from “The Tales of Tuttleman”:

 

“Although we were about the same age when we first met, I matured much faster than he did and achieved an adult perspective while he was still foundering with pimples and discovering what to do with his Wee Willy Winky.”

 

  1. Have you ever based characters off of real people?

 

Sure. In one of my current works-in-progress, there are three fantastical bird-women that are based loosely on my great-grandmothers (the three I knew). I’ve loved spending time with them while writing the story.

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character?

 

Wow! That’s a wide-open question!?! In my own work, I have a serious writer-crush on Tuttleman—the two hundred year old talking pug—right now. He’s funny and charming and British with a wealth of knowledge and life-experience. Plus, he’s introduced me to Mary Shelley, Jack the Ripper, Nina Simone, Nelson Mandela, and a number of other famous and infamous people from history.

 

As for characters that aren’t mine, I absolutely love Odd Thomas—created by Dean Koontz. He’s young but wise, funny but poignant, and laidback but polite. A well-rounded twenty-something who sees ghosts and helps solve murder mysteries. What’s not to like?

 

 

 

You can find out more about the author on their blog “The Bountiful Balcony Buzz” (https://www.bountifulbalconybooks.com/blog) and purchase their work from the Bountiful Balcony Bookstore (https://www.bountifulbalconybooks.com/bookstore) and Amazon.

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20 Questions With...

20 Questions with…Andrea Barbosa

I can’t say that I’ve met anyone ‘famous’ per se, but I have met a silver medal winning poet, which is as close as I might ever get.

And that’s totally okay with me.

Andrea Barbosa is a throughly talented author and I’m so very proud to have my own work included alongside hers.  We’ve even entered many of the same contests and the only way I’m able to accept the loss of first place, is because she won it.

 

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Jennifer Leeper, Andrea Barbosa, and Melissa Algood (me) accepting our awards for the Spider Road Press Flash Fiction Contest 2016

It’s  not only amazing that Andrea is award-winning poet and author; but English is her second language, and yet she strings together prose that is pure magic.  The Brazilian born, high powered business woman never lets anything get in the way of her beloved son; not even her fictional characters.  Every time I see her she tells me about the latest in his life, and is always an internal part of his life.

So yeah, she’s a great mom too.

I’m so happy to bring author Andrea Barbosa to you, and to have her answer my 20 questions.

 

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Twenty Questions With…Andrea Barbosa

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours? I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child, so it’s hard to remember what book exactly incited that desire within me, for I loved all fairy tales. One tale that I particularly recall is Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose.
  2. How old were you when you started writing? 12, 13, maybe earlier.
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Shakespeare, Hemingway, Henry Miller, Anais Nin. Of course, they’re all dead but it would be a fantastic gathering.
  4. What would you eat? Anything vegetarian.
  5. How do you plot out your work? The characters take control and I plot as we go, usually.
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? Evening.
  7. Is there music on? It depends. I like the silence but sometimes I need the music for inspiration for a particular scene or for a particular mood.
  8. What inspired your last story? My love for Greece and Greek history.
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. The Colossus of Maroussi (Henry Miller), The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde).
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? One movie that comes to mind as being well written is Arrival, as it conveyed a poignant story.
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? To be Nikos, my Greek character in Olympian Passion, I always look at British model David Gandy. But since Gandy’s not an actor and wouldn’t have a Greek accent that Nikos needs to have, I’d choose Greek actor Apostolis Totsikas.
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? The romance novels are the hardest to write because I find the steamy scenes hard to describe.
  13. Which was the easiest? Poems are the easiest pieces that I write.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? The romance novels usually. In the second novel in the Olympian Love trilogy, Olympian Heartbreak, I did a lot of research about Greece. Several readers wrote to me praising the way I described the country, one even daring to say she felt that Greece was like it’s own character in the book, that I did such a good job that she felt she was in Greece while reading the book.
  15. What are you working on now? The final and last book in the Olympian Love trilogy.
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? Haven’t thought about that… ideas come and go but the one I had to write was my psychological thriller Massive Black Hole and I’m glad I was able to have it published.
  17. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? Since I write poetry, short stories, fiction, and romance novels, it’s hard to find a particular sentence for my style. So I’m giving you a verse that I really like from one of my poems: “and the images vanish like soft clouds up high, transforming the colors of my rainbow into the dark loneliness of my night.”
  18. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Not entirely but I believe there’s a little bit of people I know in every character.
  19. Who’s your favorite character? From the ones I’ve written, Nikos, the protagonist of the Olympian Love trilogy. I love writing him. He’s complex, enigmatic, a little mysterious, and of course, extremely handsome, a typical alpha male, and a Greek archaeologist.

 

Thank you!

 

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Chantell Renee, a wonderful reader, Myself, and Andrea Barbosa

You can find out more about the author on their blog http://massiveblackholenovel.blogspot.com/ , and purchase their work from Amazon. Andrya Bailey (romance): https://www.amazon.com/Andrya-Bailey/e/B01667R2D8.

Andrea Barbosa (fiction, short stories, poetry): https://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Barbosa/e/B00DGXPK6W

 

 

 

Mad Girl's Publishing, short stories, upcoming releases

A sneak peak of ‘Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions’

After a ton of hard work (not only by me and Chantell Renee but 4 other indie authors) the newest anthology from the Hair Raising Tales series, and the first collection from Mad Girl’s publishing is now available for pre-order!

‘Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions’ is out NOW and is perfect for the reader that you love, or even the horror reader within.

Inside you’ll be enraptured by thirteen stories from six indie authors that make you think beyond the fairy tale image of ‘evil’.

Tales ranging from murderous children to a mother’s never ending love, ‘Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions’ will make you think of the wicked in a whole new light.

This collections includes words from award-winning authors like Jae Mazer, and emerging writers like Kyle D. Garrett.

To get a taste of what you’re in for I’ve posted the beginning of one of my pieces ‘The Orchard’ which is (at least right now) the darkest story I’ve ever written.  Please be aware the story contains MATURE CONTENT!

The Orchard ©

By Melissa Algood (2016)

“I got her.”

“Bullshit.”  A metallic click, a hiss, then I put the can of rock gut to my lips.

“I can show you.”  A plume of smoke followed his words.

“Show me what?”

“I kept her so you could see.”

“You think I’m some kinda freak?”

For a second his eyes glazed over before he answered.  “You think I’m a freak?”

“Nah, man.”  More beer oozed down my throat.  “I mean, I know you’ve been talking about it.  But talking ain’t doing.”

“I told you.  I got her.”

“Fine.”  I threw the empty can into the trash can.  “Show me.”

All the roads in our town were dirt; not a stoplight to speak of.  Everyone who lived out here knew where they were without street signs, which was good considering we only had a handful of those.  Jerry and I had lived together for a couple of years.  He’d never brought a girl home, as far as I could remember, but he paid his half of all the bills on time.  Up until now, I didn’t mind hearing him talk about the women in town-one in particular-but I never thought that he’d really do anything about it.

“It was late, you know after the ball game, so she was out.  I got into the back window.  It was open just like you said…”

My jaw clenched. “I never said anything to you, Jerry.”

His hands were still on ten and two when he turned to me.  “Don’t you remember, Noah?  Back when we were looking at the yearbook a few months ago?”

Jerry’s words bounced around the inside of the Silverado.  “Shut the fuck up with that.”  The memory of the both of us drunk enough to admit our deepest desires, but sober enough to make a plan, boiled in my stomach.  “Don’t ever talk about that night again.  You got it?”

“Yeah.”

“Say it.”

“Say what?”

“Jerry, you’re so fucking stupid.  Just keep your damn mouth shut.”

 

The out-of-towners who came to see the leaves change could never tell the difference between one tree and another, but I was born here so each piece of greenery was its own landmark.  I could smell the crisp apples in the air long before Jerry made the turn into the orchard.  The acres that spanned before us were more than a food source; teenagers used it as a locale for parties.  The first time I came out to the orchard was in fifth grade when the word around school was that the Buckhill brothers were going to rage on each other over the head cheerleader of our town’s only high school.  I could still feel the rush when one brother knocked out the other’s front teeth.  Iron still lingered in the air, although this time I knew that Jerry was the cause.

 

Scary human skull crying blood isolated on black background

You can read this story along with a few never before seen stories like Last Look, Circus Freak, After The Fire, and a post apocalyptic flash fiction piece Underground Railroad in the upcoming collection ‘Everyone Dies: Collected Works of a Morbid Author’.

Look for the first collection of short fiction of Melissa Algood brought to you from Mad Girl’s Publishing out 2019.

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20 Questions With...

20 Questions with R.L. Nolen

I was a fan before we met.

And when we did I couldn’t help but tell her that I loved her book while we were still shaking hands.

Deadly Thyme is a haunting love story, in a way, my favorite combination.  Throughout the years I’ve had the pleasure of signing my own works alongside her, had her input on my own work long before publishing, and she’s my go to when I find myself with a big issue in the writing world.

She’s lived all over the world, trained as a graphic artist, teaches our youth, and co founded the Houston Writers House which is a great place for authors of all levels.  I always learn at least one thing when I go to one of their Tuesday socials.

You might know her as R.L. Nolen, but I call her Rebecca, and she was integral in the publishing of Everything That Counts and in the future re-release of my romantic thriller (stay tuned for detail on that).

Until then Rebecca Nolen answers my 20 Questions…

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  1.  Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?  I believe the one book that made me want to writer adventure stories was “The Black Rose” by Thomas B. Costain.


2        How old where you when you started writing?  I distinctly remember I wrote my first book at the age of 16 that I hoped to get published. 

Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.  A.A. Milne, Charles Dickens, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell 

What would you eat?  I believe we would all settle down to a fine high tea in a small room with a roaring fireplace and linen tableclothes.

How do you plot out your work? I start with a small idea and write a page or two of how that will be a story.

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening? I write best in the morning.
  2. Is there music on?
    Yes, I listen to anything quiet with an allegro beat.
  3.  What inspired your last story?  I was trying to come up with a plot and I was thinking about stray cats.
  4.  Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.
    Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin, The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves, The Girls by Lisa Jewell
  5. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? The Good Wife, anything by Lynda LaPlante
  6. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? Some good looking Brit with green eyes.
  7. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? The very next book
  8.      Which was the easiest? Surprisingly the next book was a lot easier
  9. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?I’m so happy when readers “get” The Dry – it has many layers.
  10. What are you working on now?I’m working on the next Deadly book – Deadly Haste
  11. What story do you have to write before you die?I have to get a picture book manuscript published
  12. What’s your best fan story?I have a lot of fans with Deadly Thyme
  13. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?
    That’s a really difficult one to answer. My style is so very different in each book. In The Dry I like my first sentence: “There was a lot of dark in the house in Jeffersonville, Virginia, several long halls, lots of doorways, and countless deep corners.
  14. Have you ever based characters off of real people?Of course, but I take bits and pieces of different people and collage them together to bring alive someone unique.
  15. Who’s your favorite character?
    My favorite character may be Morrigan Wasp. She is a fearless warrior and leader to her vespid colony

Find out more about Rebecca Nolen here.

 

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20 Questions With..., Everything That Counts

20 Questions With…Melissa Algood

 

This is usually the time that I tell you how much I love the author that’s answering my 20 questions, or how we met, but this time I’m taking over.

I’ve throughly enjoyed reading my friends answers, because they all have done it so differently.  Honestly I didn’t expect them to put so much thought into their answers, or trying to figure out the ‘right’ answer, when in fact there is not right or wrong.  I intended for the author to interpret the questions however they wanted to, not for my ‘permission’ on how to answer.  Therefore I did cheat on pretty much all of the questions (if there is a way to cheat on questions that don’t lead to a grade).

So thank you to all of the authors that I’ve highlighted before, not only for being good sports, witty, and insightful, but for being my friend.

The first time I remember saying that I wanted to be an author was when I was about eleven or twelve.  I never imagined that people would really read my stuff, I mean at least not while I was alive.  Sylvia Plath has always been a favorite of mine, hence naming my publishing company Mad Girl’s Publishing after her poem ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’.

I am very happy to announce that I’ve publishing my first book-which will be officially released on August 24 at River Oaks Bookstore.  I hope that you’ll join me to celebrate the release of ‘Everything That Counts’ from 4-6 pm.

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I don’t really know what else to say-other than that writing isn’t something ‘fun’ for me-it’s a necessity due to the people that live out their lives in my head.  Thankfully at least some people like to join me on the journey – thank you for that.

So without further adieu I answer the infamous 20 questions

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Twenty Questions With…Melissa Algood

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?   ‘Watership Down’ by Richard Adams.  I remember reading the introduction (yes I’m such a dork I read the introduction to novels) in which he said that the story of Fiver and Hazel was originally something he told his daughters as he put them to bed and they begged him to write it down.  Also ‘Fool On A Hill’ by Matt Ruff-it throughly transported me and I wanted to take a ride like that as often as possible.
  2. How old where you when you started writing?  Young, maybe 11.  In middle school a tutor mentioned how detailed a piece I wrote for English was (I described a door creaking open as if a rat were being crushed in the frame).  I also wrote little short stories for my first boyfriends mother (a dramatized version of a woman crossing the street was my first).  In high school I pledged to write a poem a day which helped me the most overall, and I still read the poems if I want to go back in time.
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.  Richard Adams, Matt Ruff, Nicola Yoon, and Courtney Summers.
  4. What would you eat? Probably not rabbit…I’m picturing a sleep over environment which includes pizza and sodas.
  5. How do you plot out your work? I usually don’t.  I get a scene in my head, and I’ll play it over and over again until it is as clear as an Oscar winning film and then I write it.  Although this often causes a lot of work once I’m ‘done’ with the first draft so from now on I really need to do an outline first (but I did do that for ‘The Bakery Assistant’ which I have yet to complete and I lost the outline).  
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? Whenever I can, but usually after I’ve had my coffee.  But I have written many a scene while a color client of mine has been processing (I’m a hairstylist in ‘real’ life)
  7. Is there music on? This is the most important part of the writing process for me-I will spend more time on a playlist then virtually any other planning of a piece.  It will get so intense that a song will forever be intertwined with a character or scene.  I have posted the playlists for ‘Blood On The Potomac’  and ‘Everything That Counts’ on this blog.
  8. What inspired your last story?  A client inspired ‘Everything That Counts’ but I’ve been working on a lot more short stories which seem to be inspired by the copious amount of true crime podcasts I listen to (My Favorite Murder, Up And Vanished, Serial, Undisclosed, True Crime Garage, Last Podcast On The Left)
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. ‘All The Rage’ by Country Summers and ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ by Jay Asher because both stories are so fucking important for everyone on Earth to read especially young adults.  ‘All The Rage’ is so poetically written although the content is something most people won’t read because it’s a difficult topic.  Similarly Asher’s novel does shine a light on many things that American society wants to put in the dark and he does it so intelligently that you’re enraptured.  ‘The Sky Is Everywhere’ by Jandy Nelson is achingly beautiful more like an epic poem, or a song, than a novel.  And I wish I could create another world like George R.R. Martin, but I can’t plan ahead that well.
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’, ‘House of Cards’, and ‘Master of None’ on Netflix.  I’m also the biggest fan of ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Sons of Anarchy’ (which I binge watched while writing ‘Everything That Counts’), and ‘The Sopranos’ and my all time favs ‘Daria’ and ‘My So-Called Life’ and ‘Lost’ (which I binged while writing ‘Blood On The Potomac’).  As far as films I love ‘Donnie Darko’ although I’m not really sure what happened, and anything by Wes Anderson.
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?  I kinda like Miles Teller for Blake, but I’m not sure if he’s tall/lanky enough…maybe he’s more of a Nat Wolff. Rachel Hurd-Wood or Daisy Lewis for Sophie, Britt Robertson for Zoe.  
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? I would say all of them, but for different reasons.  ‘The Bakery Assistant’ needs more research (so if you’re a lawyer on the east coast lemme know) ‘WinterGull Lane’ because it took me to such a dark place.
  13. Which was the easiest? Most of my short stories are quick as lightening, which might be why I write them so much more often.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? ‘The End’ is a short story I won an award for about a young boy who grows up during the apocalypse.  I didn’t get hung up on how it all went down, but what it’s like to actually live after everyone else is dead.  At a book release the wife of another author told me that she loved that George still found it important to look at the artwork that still existed on the walls of the hotels in Las Vegas, because what’s the point of living if you don’t have the opportunity to enjoy art.
  15. What are you working on now? The novels that I mentioned before, and to write enough short stories to publish my collection called ‘Everyone Dies’.
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? All of them
  17. What’s your best fan story? When I sold an anthology to a teenage girl at a Comic Con in Houston and she shared with me her journal of poetry that she carries with her, then later that day came by to told me how much she loved my story.  Or when I read my piece ‘Thomas’ at the Spider Road Press award ceremony and one of my friends told me that it was the only piece that made her cry.
  18. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? ‘We trudged onto the darkened stage covered in blood and glitter.’ from the story ‘Even Aliens Watch Reality T.V.’ my man’s favorite story that I’ve ever written.
  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people?  There are attributes that are based off real people, and I talk a lot so I listen to how people talk and infuse that into my work.  So yes, but not enough to have anyone worry.
  20. Who’s your favorite character?  I’m gonna cheat and say that I have a fav from each piece-Samantha Locke ‘Blood On The Potomac’, Blake Morgan ‘Everything That Coutns’, Claire Fisher ‘The Bakery Assistant’, and Stormy O’Dell ‘WinterGull Lane’

 

 

You can follow me on this blog, on TwitterFacebook, and you can buy all my work on Amazon

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short stories

Want to get your work published?

Last October my dear friend, and fellow author, Chantell Renee and I compiled a collection of 21 horror stories from seven authors.  It was a lot of hard work, but even more fun.  Many of the authors have been highlighted in my 20 Questions series, and you can check out pics from the release party here.

Now we’re working on our next anthology entitled Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions-and we know that you’re interested in joining in on the fun and become a published author yourself.

I’m looking to publish early 2018-which means I’ll have to have your short story/poem/flash fiction by October 1, 2017 emailed to madgirlspublishing@gmail.com

Still interested?  Then read the rest of the info below-

Looking for authors that like to write about the dark side.

Submit your work to Mad Girl’s Publishing for the upcoming Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions

1. All stories/flash fiction/poems must be from the perspective of a ‘villain’ They can be from a fairy tale, from another universe, or your old boss-as long as the story is told through a ‘villains’ perspective.

2. Feel free to choose if the villain is found in any way redeemable.

3. This short story (5000 words max)
/flash fiction (800 words max)/
poem (1200 words max) can be previously published or simultaneously published (as long as you also promote the anthology otherwise what’s the point).

4. You the author keep all rights to your work therefore it must be an original piece.

5. This is something I’m doing more for fun then for the $ therefore I don’t have any funds to pay you for the publication. But your piece will be professionally edited and as you know I love to promote my work and go to many events to sell such anthologies which will promote you and your work. (pretty much check out the first Hair Raising Tales and you can see that we proudly highlighted all of our authors).

6. This will only be an e-book. As I said I’m doing this for fun and I don’t have that much fun formatting therefore I’m only gonna do an e-book (but hey it will save a forest, right?)

7. Right now I’m shooting to release on Valentine’s Day.
Therefore I need all your pieces in by Sunday October 1.
I’m going to approve all the pieces by Wednesday November 1 and expect any bio’s and pictures by Tuesday November 7.

So if that time frame doesn’t work out for you then you need to opt out now.

e-mail stories to madgirlspublishing@gmail.com by October 1, 2017

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20 Questions With..., pictures

20 Questions with…Gay Yellen

She’s an actress, assistant director, journalist, an award winning novelist-and she’s also a dear friend.  Gay Yellen has a shrewd eye for detail, in fact I wanted to hire her as my editor, she didn’t have time (I mean look at her credentials she’s a busy lady) but encouraged me to really go through my manuscript.

Later I still had to hire an editor, but at least my tenses were correct, and without Gay encouraging me to tackle my greatest writing fear-editing- I wouldn’t be as strong as a writer as I am.

I’ve had the pleasure of having my poetry published along with hers in the collection IN THE QUESTIONS from Spider Road Press and we were in the same critique circle for several years which was educational and fun.  I highly recommend her Samantha Newman mystery series (her Samantha is much different from my Samantha Locke in ‘Blood On The Potomac’ in which we joked often during cc) not only does it keep you on the edge of your seat, but Yellen’s descriptive quality, especially with food, is so precise that your mouth begins to water.  Needless to say I think that she needs to come out with a cookbook.

And now I’m going to introduce you to the woman who’s done it all, and now is sharing her stories with the world, thankfully I had the chance to live during the same time as her thus able to meet her characters.

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Twenty Questions with Gay Yellen

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?     I can’t really pick one. Writing seemed to be a natural extension of reading, and as a child, I read voraciously. Family lore has it that when I was a toddler, I would turn magazine pages and babble words as if I were reading them.

  2. How old where you when you started writing?    In my baby book, my mother recorded a poem that she swears I made up at the age of three.

  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.   Anthony Doerr. Hank Phillippi Ryan. James Michener. Theodore Geisel.

  4. What would you eat?      Fries. Vanilla malts. Maybe Green Eggs and Ham.

  5. How do you plot out your work?      I’m not much of a plotter, except for the bare-bones structure. Once I have the main characters and what the story is about, the rest more or less falls into place, although it takes quite a while to get to The End.

  6. Do you write in the morning or evening?      I start in the morning and work as long as I can.

  7. Is there music on?       Not for my mysteries. I’m also working on a historical fiction, and I use music of that period to help immerse me in what is otherwise a distant and underexplored era.

  8. What inspired your last story?       After The Body Business was published, I regretted cutting the ending short, leaving readers hanging. I wrote The Body Next Door to continue the story. Now that it’s won the international Chanticleer Mystery & Mayhem Award, I’m glad I made that decision.

  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.     All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson. The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak.

  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?    TV has some of the best writing ever. Veep, Silicon Valley, Life in Pieces, Better Call Saul come to mind.

  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?                        Emma Stone would be a perfect Samantha Newman.

  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?     The next one.

  13. Which was the easiest?    The Body Business. I’d just helped the author of an international thriller polish his book, Five Minutes to Midnight, which did very well, according to The New York Times. That success led me to try writing one of my own.

  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?              I love to hear from readers, whether they leave a question for me on my website, or I get to meet them in person at a book club or other public appearance. It’s a thrill for a writer to learn how the characters on the page come alive in a reader’s imagination.

  15. What are you working on now?     Book 3 of The Samantha Newman Series.

  16. What story do you have to write before you die?     The historical fiction has been in my heart for years. I started it years ago before my first mystery was published. The opening chapters actually won Best Historical Fiction in a Houston Writers Guild contest in 2013.

  17. What’s your best fan story?         I love meeting new fans who tell me that my book brightened a few hours of their lives. And when a long-ago friend discovers my books and reconnects with me, it’s a plus I hadn’t counted on, and I love it. That’s a long way of saying I have no best fan story, just a lot of wonderful encounters with readers.

  18. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?   Here’s one from The Body Next Door. Samantha is talking about the little girl she’d befriended a few days earlier: Anyone but Lizzie would have annoyed me beyond endurance, but somehow, we vibrated at the same frequency.

  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people?   A writer’s head is filled with experiences, some we’re conscious of and some that seem to bubble up from nowhere. I’ve never consciously based an entire character on any real person, but some character traits may resemble those of people I’ve observed.

  20. Who’s your favorite character?   Lizzie, from The Body Next Door. That sad, lonely little girl in need of a friend. I have no idea where she sprang from, but I fell in love with her at first sight, as did Samantha Newman. I think that relationship helped define Samantha in a good way. I still think about Lizzie. She’ll definitely be in Book 3.

You can find out more about the author on her website: http://www.GayYellen.com and purchase her work from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or your favorite indie bookstore.

20 Questions With..., pictures, short stories

20 Questions with Jas T. Ward

Maybe I’ve said it before, but I’m a real big fan of Jas T. Ward.  She is known for her romance but I love her shorter pieces.  A collection called ‘Bits and Pieces: Tales and Sonnets’ is by far my favorite, although Ward admits that some of the stories are ‘rejects’ I find them illuminating.

Ward has had literally and figuratively every punch thrown at her, and yet she comes back strong in her writing.  Her characters share her resilience, lust for life, and are truly unforgettable.  She has over eight titles available for you guys to check out, as well as a coloring book that lets you tap into your own artistic abilities.

Jas is a dear friend, and I’m proud to be one of her stalkers.  Now it’s time for you to hear from her….

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20 Questions with Jas T. Ward

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours? You may find this odd, but it was the children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit. Something about it pulls me in today. It has a low word count actually, but the emotions behind the words. Amazing. I wanted to do that. I wanted to put emotions behind the words, draw a picture without having to be artistic, and have people feel. With words.
  2. How old where you when you started writing? I wrote my first story when I was about 8 years old. Pictures and everything. I spent days gluing those notebook paper pages together. It was not a work of art. LOL. But I’ve always written and I don’t see that changing. Sure, the audience may change and the scope, but no. I’ll probably write my goodbye on my death bed.
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Well, I’ve already met you and would love to have eats with you again. But four I haven’t met to share the meal. Hmmm… Amy Tan, Ken Follett, Penelope Reid and Colleen Hoover.
  4. What would you eat? Has to be a Chinese food with huge trays of food made for the masses. I think you can tell a lot about what choices creative people when it comes to a selection of food. For me? Sushi, dumplings and coconut shrimp. Oh, and spring rolls. 🙂
  5. How do you plot out your work? I don’t. I have tried to use all the tactics – outline, story boarding. But none of it worked. Or it just went unused. The only two things I do is know my beginning and my ending. Then, the challenge is to make them meet up with what ever flows in the middle. Otherwise, I just start writing without a clue how that’s going to happen.
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? I am inconsistent as all get-out. Some days it’s one and other days it’s the other. I think it has to do with my brain just goes on overdrive without warning. It’s a curse and a blessing so I’m not complaining.
  7. Is there music on? Not usually. I do have a movie or TV playing as white noise for the side of my nature that balks at having to write. But every now and then there is a soundtrack needed and when there is, it’s usually Linkin Park.
  8. What inspired your last story? That’s a complicated question to answer. My upcoming book releasing 06/13 – Soul Bound: The Warrior was inspired by real life events of my own. Some dark tragedy and loss. I still can’t really talk about it personally, but I was able to tap into it to write this fictional story. I see that as progress and it actually brought about some closure. Though I’m not really sure I’ll ever completely have that. But it’s nice to know I can go there… if only a little bit.
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. Oh wow, that’s a toughie… hmm. Any of the Pillars of the Earth books by Ken Follett. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and The Dark Tower by Stephen King.
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? I was just having this conversation with a author friend of mine. I don’t know if you or any of your followers remember a show called ‘The Red Shoe Diaries’, but that show was amazing in how it told a different story every week from the view of one man reflecting on love. Another one that I think is incredibly well written and produced is ‘The Story of Us’. Also, the limited series ‘Big Little Lies’ was AMAZING. It needs every award there is for acting, directing and story. Movies? I love big budget movies. Deadpool was genius. Different, a thrill ride, dark elements and sex. It remembered me of my books. 😀
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? My reader club had this discussion. They all saw a younger Gerard Butler when discussing Jace Camden from Soul Bound. Brooding and intense with a soul you wanted to know, but it wasn’t going to be easy.
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? Soul Bound, without a doubt. It was just so personal. And there’s some scenes in the book that are not fiction. They happened. I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide which.
  13. Which was the easiest? Partly because his foundation had already been solidified in the first books of the series but also because he was just so much fun to step into the skin of. I had a lot of fun writing that book even though it was a paranormal, thriler book. Jess Bailey is something else.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? Madness, pretty much. The main character, Reno is so flawed. But he’s so good natured with a big heart. And mental special – he has a split personality and a much darker side. And he’s driven from forces beyond his control, literally and figuratively. I think the people that have gotten to know me, know I’m the same in a lot of ways.
  15. What are you working on now? Now that Soul Bound is at the formatting stage, I’m working on another ‘Romance – The Ward Way’ titled – ‘A Little Pill Called Love’. Which means it’s quirky, fun, has some love and intimacy but some series twists in it, but also takes on social issues in a background way. The reader goes in and realizes they learned something or found something in themselves without it being preached or lectured about within the pages. The characters took them there without even realizing it. This book will deal with severe bi-polar disorder and love.unnamed-2
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? My own. And considering how slow it is getting it out and on paper, I better live a LONG time. But I think I’m getting closer to being able to it. Soul Bound proved I could go there. I just hope it continues.
  17. What’s your best fan story? Ah, I have so many. The readers are amazing and how they have come to love the characters, many who have actual, interacting profiles on social media thanks to people who wanted to fan-fic/role play them, they love them even more. But I made the mistake of killing off Reno. And meant for it to be for good. Bad idea… They went ballistic! They sent me hate mail and inboxes of anger. They went on my wall and posted the meanest memes. Some they even created of “Bring Our Candyman Back!” And others threatened to boycott me and my books. Heck, there was a petition started with thousands of signatures. I was FLOORED. But, due to that love the Shadow-Keepers series was born and I am so grateful for that. I think that’s when I realized that not only are the voices of our characters rattling in our heads real to us in a way, they are also the same for our readers. It’s something we should always keep in mind. We want our readers to believe the escape we’re giving them—and the people that live there.
  18. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? .. that’s a hard one and I would probably spend days in all my books to find the very best one. I think, if I have to have one sentence it would be – Don’t judge me or the world I’m showing you until the ride is over. Then, you’ll understand. If not, sorry, no refunds. 🙂
  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Not yet. But when I write my real story? Oh yeah, They’re in there.
  20. Who’s your favorite character? Easy and the fans would revolt if I didn’t say it – Reno Sundown. I love that character so much. My inner child given life. As a hot badass doesn’t hurt.

 

You can find out more about the author on their Facebook Author Page-Jas T Ward and purchase their work from Amazon.

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Contests, Flash Fiction, pictures, Signing Events

We can’t do it alone (women writers unite)

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As Women’s History Month is upon us I couldn’t help but think of all the women who’ve helped me through my writing career.

I’ll highlight some of them, but this by no means includes all of the powerful women that I’ve come across since I’ve joined the writing community.  They know who they are, even if I do carelessly forget to mention them, they will forever be a part of my life, and I’ll forever be grateful for you.

I’ll begin with ‘the dream team’ as we often call ourselves which includes Andrea BarbosaChantell Renee, and myself.  We’re all award winning authors, and have sometimes placed in the same contest thus giving us another opportunity to be together.  Throughout the years we’ve worked on anthologies together including ‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’ that Chantell and I published together.

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Next of course would be Fern Brady who’s not only my publisher Inklings Publishing, sometime writing partner, but a dear friend.  Without her my debut romantic thriller Blood On The Potomac wouldn’t exist.  She helped shape me into the writer that has a fan page.

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Next is the amazingly talented Patricia Flaherty Pagan who founded Spider Road Press which has published work from all the before mentioned authors.  She’s a fantastic author in her own right, highly intelligent, and a highly dedicated mom.  Patty is not just a strong female writer, she’s a life goal achiever.

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Finally I’d like to highlight, Rebecca Nolan, an author I was a fan of before we worked together on my upcoming YA novel ‘Everything That Counts’.  She’s been an amazing mentor to me and has given me the drive to work harder than I ever have before.

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Thank you to all the female authors I know and love including Gay YellenPamela Fagan HutchinsCourtney Summers, and Taylor Stevens (only two of which I’ve had the pleasure of actually meeting.

Women everywhere need to stand together-that’s the only way we’ll make it in the end-if we support each other.  Let’s work on making this world better for the women of the future.

Don’t miss a chance to read these amazing women’s work-simply click on their name to check out some stories that will stay with you long after you put the book down.

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