Learning by Going, by Caryn Larrinaga

Everyone loves a good ghost story and with October lurking just around the corner I thought it was a brilliant idea to bring on a friend who has mastered the art of spooky. Today I’m thrilled to share a wonderfully insightful article written by the talented and imaginative Caryn Larrinaga.

Learning by Going

by Caryn Larrinaga

Table of Contents for Fey Sidhe

Many years ago (don’t ask me how many; I’m in denial), I had to put together a notebook of poetry for my high school creative writing class. Looking back, I’m a little in awe of myself. Not because of the quality of my poems—they were exactly the kind of thing you’d expect a lovestruck sixteen-year-old to be writing—but because I had the balls to put my own work next to the likes of e.e. Cummings and Theodore Roethke… and an awful lot of lyrics from Delerium’s Poem album. Fitting, right?

Cover of Fey Sidhe

Much as my own poems and the choice to name the collection “Fey Sidhe” make me cringe a little bit (I was obsessed with elves and fairies… okay, fine! Am obsessed with them), this hand-bound notebook is my favorite souvenir of high school. Teenaged Caryn, though a terrible poet herself, had pretty decent taste, and some of the pieces I chose to include had a lasting impact on me, especially the opening stanza of Roethe’s “Waking.”

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.

I learn by going where I have to go.

The Waking, by Theodore Roethke

I love those three lines, especially the last. I learn by going where I have to go. It’s similar to the “zen driving” idea Douglas Adams came up with in the Dirk Gently books (which I also love). The idea that we can have destinations in mind but not really know where we’re supposed to end up until we start taking the journey… it’s something that’s resonated with me as I’ve bumbled through my adult life, and especially as I’ve bumbled through my writing.

Some writers are super organized and plot their books thoroughly. I try to do that with everything I write. I chart out the beats, working backwards from the ending, and jot down a few sentences about what each scene needs to do for the story.

Then I start writing, and that’s when I really figure out where the story is going. Most of the time, I deviate from my plot a lot, especially in the meaty middle part of the book. With short stories, things weirdly go even more off the rails (you’d think fewer words would give me fewer opportunities to deviate from the plan, right?).

This combination of plotting and flying by the seat of your pants is lovingly referred to as “plotsing” in writerly circles, and for me, it makes the writing journey so much more fun. I don’t feel like any of the words I end up throwing away are wasted; they all gave me some much-needed experience and were opportunities to get to know myself a little bit better.

Writing, just like any art, is something you can’t get better at just by reading books and soaking up advice at conferences and conventions. In the end, you actually have to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and start making words. It’s one of those things you can only learn as you go, putting your fear of failure aside as you grow and improve.

So plot… or don’t. Make plans… or don’t. Either way, you’ll learn by going (and writing) where you have to go.

Don’t let that twinkle in her eye fool you, Caryn’s got some deliciously dark stories hiding inside her.

About today’s guest author:

Caryn Larrinaga is an award-winning mystery, horror, and urban fantasy writer. Her debut novel, Donn’s Hill, was awarded the League of Utah Writers 2017 Silver Quill in the adult novel category and was a 2017 Dragon Award finalist.  

Watching scary movies through split fingers terrified Caryn as a child, and those nightmares inspire her to write now. Her 90-year-old house has a colorful history, and the creaking walls and narrow hallways send her running (never walking) up the stairs. Exploring her fears through writing makes Caryn feel a little less foolish for wanting a buddy to accompany her into the tool shed.

Caryn lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and their clowder of cats. Visit www.carynlarrinaga.com to claim a free ebook and audiobook!

Connect with Caryn:

Be sure to check out the first book in the award-winning Soul Searchers Mysteries series, Donn’s Hill. I hear the sequel, Donn’s Shadow is due to come out the end of October – so much win!

About Donn’s Hill –

Mackenzie Clair needs a fresh start. The death of her father and a broken relationship rendered her old life unlivable. What better place to build a new one than Donn’s Hill, the most haunted town in America and her favorite childhood vacation spot?

But returning to Donn’s Hill awakens more than nostalgia. As memories resurface, so does a lost psychic ability to talk to the dead… a power the poltergeist haunting Mac’s apartment is eager to use. 

Aided by her new roommate—a spirited Tortoiseshell cat named Striker—and the ghost-hunting crew of the Soul Searchers, Mac struggles to control her newfound talents. She’d better get a handle on them fast, because someone in town is hiding a deadly secret. If Mac can’t divine the truth, Donn’s Hill will never be the same.

First in a new series, this cozy paranormal mystery was the 2017 winner of the League of Utah Writers Silver Quill award. “A genre-bending gem of a book, cozy meets horror meets cat fancier in a unique town of psychic tourism and ghostly secrets.” -Johnny Worthen, award winning author of THE FINGER TRAP, THE BRAND DEMAND and WHAT IMMORTAL HAND

Find Donn’s Hill, and Caryn’s other books, on Amazon!

Even better, if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can get this title for free!


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Interview with Irony Mitchell

Today’s author interview is brought to you by the mysterious and ever delightful Irony Mitchell, the letter Y, and a hot fudge sundae (because, why not?). While I know the secret identity of today’s guest, I’ve sworn a secret ice cream oath not to share. Let it be known that I’m a woman of my word.

Irony and I go back several years now, starting with my awkward childhood – no wait, that’s actual irony… Today’s guest and I go back several years and I’m thrilled to be able to get to know her alter ego better.

On to the interview!

We are thumbs up to go on this interview!
Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash

First things first, a getting to know you question – What is the origin story of your unique name?

Thanks so much for interviewing me, I’m excited to virtually be here!

One of the most ironic things about this earth is that by going through all sorts of trials and enduring all sorts of wounds, we can come out stronger and better than we were before. To me, Irony is facing this soul-crushing world and finding hope, as well as the determination to smile and laugh your way through it. I don’t mean to sound flippant. When facing a personal apocalypse, I hope I can stare down the pain, square my shoulders, and boldly declare myself the victor. However, I also hope I’ll recognize the irony that is life and laugh my way to a happy ending.

What is your biggest dream and what are you doing to reach it?

How do you choose just one dream to the “biggest?” Writing wise, my biggest dream is to write something that touches someone’s life in some way. Whether that means they found an escape in reading my fiction or a connection with my non-fiction, I just want to be a source of positivity.

I think that’s why I am drawn to comedic writing. If I can put a smile or an eyeroll on your face, I’ve done my job.

Of all the different stories you’ve created, which one came from the weirdest idea, and what what it?

My Psychotic series came from not one, but two crazy ideas. First off, I wanted to write a story about a teenage girl who is the only one that can see the monsters that feed on her schoolmates. She sees invisible demons that are drawn to negative emotions, which are plentiful in her school.

Then, one day, I was having a conversation with someone about how intensely the smell of microwaved broccoli can hang on. At that moment, the tone of my psychotic series was born. I desperately wanted to write a story where I used the line “The monster hung on to me like the smell of microwaved broccoli, but I continued to fight.” So, I did. And now I make it a point to fill this series with as many crazy statements as I can. It’s one of the things I love most about these books.

If you could teach a new writer one thing, what would it be?

You will get rejections, from readers and agents alike, and that is OK. Even the most popular novels have haters, your book will be no different. Embrace the rejection and realize that it legitimizes you as an author. Getting to the point where people are able to judge your work means that you have made it through the trenches of un-finished novels. Congrats.

I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?

I was writing a story in college that I ended up turning in to a short film for one of my university projects. In the story, one of the main settings was a dance hall. I made a sign for the dance hall that never made it in to the film because I was just messing around with how I wanted the logo to look. I did it on a scrap piece of huge cardstock, so it wasn’t anything special. But, somehow that logo ended up on my wall for years and I’ve carried it around with me. It reminds me of the first story that really pulled me in to the world of writing. Sometimes I think about that novel and wonder if I should revisit it . . .

But, since I rarely write in my writing space and just write wherever I feel like it, maybe I should say a bowl of ice cream? Creamy sugar spurs my creativity.

What’s next? What are you working on?

The latest installment of the Psychotic series (Psychotic: Embarrassed) just published this last week, and now I am working on the next (Psychotic: Revenge). Chariot, my main character, sees invisible monsters that feed on negative emotions. To make things even more awkward, she has a mega-crush on a boy that can see invisible angels. But, she isn’t the only girl at her school that has fallen head over heels for this guy. When the other girl brings a revenge demon into the school, will Chariot back down from her mega-crush or will she take a stand?

About today’s guest, Irony Mitchell

Mitchell spends a great deal of time exploring mythical worlds, telling groan-worthy jokes, and playing with the family’s imaginary golden retriever. As a child, Mitchell won a contest by writing a story that started with the main character throwing up. As an adult, Mitchell’s ideas haven’t gotten any better.

Mitchell believes that there should never be a rom without the com, and that clean comedy is one of the highest forms of art available to the human race.

Connect with Irony (Yes, I totally giggled at that too!)

Check out Irony’s Psychotic series starting with Psychotic: Not all monsters can be seen, here’s the blurb:

Seeing monsters doesn’t make you psychotic, does it?

For 16-year-old Chariot, seeing monsters is just another part of her high school experience. Unfortunately, no one else can see these demons that thrive on her classmates. It’s up to Chariot to help fight off the monsters. But, when no one else can see them, will she be branded: Psychotic?

Find it on Amazon today!


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Interview with Kathryn Elizabeth Jones

Joining us today is one of my favorite indie press authors. Kathryn has taught at my local writing chapter meetings about the perks of being your own creative boss and also how to make the most of a small marketing budget. She’s made a name for herself in the Utah writing community and is amazingly friendly and generous with her time and talent.

On to the interview!

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Let’s kick things off with a getting to know you question. What are the three most unique things about you most people know, and one thing they don’t?

I love to read, take long walks on the beach, and enjoy interior decorating. One thing others may not know is that I just got hired on as a kindergarten teacher for American Preparatory Academy. I love children, but I never thought I’d be teaching. That goes to show you want a freelance writer can do at age 58!

How much of you ends up in your characters, are there certain traits that you tend to include?

That depends on the book. When I wrote “The Parables of Virginia Bean” – especially the first book in the series called, “Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones” much of my spiritual heart went into writing about the character. The journey she takes is much like my journey, and, from what I hear, many a reader relates to her story because it connects with their own.

Of the many books you’ve created, which one has been the most rewarding and why?

I have a new book coming out entitled, “Enlightened”. It’s a nonfiction book that speaks to scripture journaling and prayer. I have been on this particular journey for over 20 years and share my insights in connecting with God.

Tell us about your creative process. What does it take for you to create one of your books?

The creative process is always different. When I began “LightShade”, a science-fantasy for middle readers, it began as a prompt from my grandson. He wanted a ‘boy’ book, and previous to that time I’d only written the ‘girl’ variety. For this book, I had to do a little scientific research before beginning, and I found as I continued to write, that there were other opportunities to make the story real by doing even more research. I am usually a by the seat of my pants sort of writer or a “pantster”, but there are many times when I feel the need to research to make the plots I come up with plausible. With some research under my belt, I head forward, allowing the characters to sort of introduce themselves to me. I usually have a pretty good idea of the main character, but the others come as I write, sort of like a visit from new friends.

I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?

The most interesting thing in my writing space is a cup with the words, “I Write, What’s Your Super Power?” We all have a superpower! It may be writing. And it might even be teaching kindergarten. I guess I’ll find out 😊

What’s next? What are you working on?

“Enlightened: My Personal Journey with Christ Through Scripture Journaling” will be released in September. The second book in The Space Adventures of Aaden Prescott series, “LightDescending”, will be out in the fall of this year. I also have a third book in the Brianne James Mystery series, “Slipped Up,” coming out next year. With my now extra busy schedule, these books should keep me ahead of the game until I get to another new book during the summer. Still wondering what that will be.

About today’s guest:

Kathryn is a lover of words and a bearer of mood swings. When she is feeling the need to inspire, she writes a Christian fiction book. If a mystery is waiting to be uncovered, she finds it. If something otherworldly is finding its way through her fingertips, she travels to it.

Kathryn has been a reader since she was a young child. Although she took classes in writing as a teen, it wasn’t something she really thought would become her career until she was married. And even then, it took a few more years for something worthy enough to publish to manifest itself.

Kathryn’s first book was published in 2002. Since then, many other books have found their way out of her head depending on the sort of day she is having. Kathryn is a journalist, a teacher, a mentor, an editor, a publisher, and a marketer.

Her greatest joy, other than writing her next book, is meeting with readers and authors who enjoy the craft of writing as much as she does.

Connect with Kathryn:

Did you know Kathryn can help you fulfill your dream of being published? If you’d like to know more, be sure to head over to her business website at: Ideacreationspress.com!

Excerpt from LightShade

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard E. Cohen

Beginning of the End

You’ll probably hate me but I don’t care. Most people on Earth hate me already, and if you’re reading this book you are one of the few who escaped. Wait, that can’t be right. I wrote this book long after the Earth was hit.

But I’m getting a head of myself.

It all started with the newscast. I don’t usually listen to the news, but there it was that day like fire. My Mom was making dinner and I was playing with Lego’s. If you remember how Lego’s used to be, you’ll be surprised that I heard anything, but that day, that day I’ll never forget, we were told the horrifying truth.

Mercury was on its way to Earth. Not to visit, if you get my drift, but to crash land. At first, I laughed it off, but then I remembered it wasn’t April Fool’s Day. It was August 1. It was hotter outside than the heater running, or fire lighting up a swimming pool.  If I told you I wasn’t scared, I’d be lying.

Mom hadn’t heard it. But I blinked at the projected flat screen in shock. Sure enough, the words repeated themselves. “Prepare yourselves” the man said. He had fake hair on the top of his head to look real and a frown on his face that was so wide I knew that if he could be tipped upside down, the smile I’d get would be as big as anyone would give if they’d received what they wanted for Christmas.

Except – this wasn’t Christmas. It felt like the stuff I’d learned in Sunday school about the Earth ending and the apocalypse. Except, it wasn’t that, was it?

I dropped the Lego I was holding. It was green. I still remember the color because of what happened afterwards. If you don’t believe in little green men, you should.  And you should believe in UFOs, patches in the grass in the shape of circles, and the movie ET.

But I’m forgetting already.

My Mom looked at me in shock. “What?” she asked, even though I’d told her the truth as calmly as possible. My hands were shaking, but I hid them in my jean pockets so she wouldn’t know the complete truth.

Some things are better for a mom not to know.

So, I told her again.

She laughed.

I got mad.

She laughed harder. And then she looked into my eyes. Really looked, you know the way moms do when they think their boy has messed up or told a lie to their brother. I don’t have a brother, but I know these things.

She said, “Really, Aaden.”

I’d been told about my ‘imagination’ since the time I knew what people were saying. And I knew something else; something so terrible, that, up until that night and the newscast, I thought was the most horrifying thing I would ever hear.

“Aaden… really. What fire are you going to start now?”

I’d been told about the meaning of my name for years, and now that I was ten, I was beyond tired of hearing it. I suppose you want to know what it means, as if you really care, but maybe it will be of some interest to you after you hear what the newscaster told us next. For, after I got Mom to leave the kitchen and come into the living room – which took some effort I can tell you – she stood with her mouth open, as if I’d told her I was going to leave home or something.

But then again, we were all going to have to leave home – and soon – or we’d be scorched.

So, here it is. Two years ago, when I was bored and really had to know the truth for myself, I went to Mom’s computer, and put in the spoken password I wasn’t supposed to know.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. “Someone like fire,” the computer said.

I looked into my Mom’s eyes now, and the television was still blaring the news of Mercury. We had only two weeks to find safety.

Find this and all of Kathryn’s books on Amazon.

Do you love audiobooks? Kathryn has tons of them! Go find out more on Audible.


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links.

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Interview with Rafael Hohmann

At this year’s Fyrecon 2019, I asked a few author friends if there was someone I needed to meet who would be a good fit for my interview series, and I was immediately directed to the outgoing and talented Rafael Hohmann. I’m thrilled to share his thoughts with you all today.

On to the interview!

Image by Sophia Hilmar from Pixabay

First, let’s get to know you better. Please share with us three things most people know about you, and two things they don’t. 🙂

Ooh, I like this question! One thing people know about me is that I’m an author who is tired of the same ol’ in fantasy. Mostly elves, dragons, dwarves—and in more recent years, current world politics and gratuitous sex. I want fantasy escapism that doesn’t involve me rolling my eyes or getting frustrated. I might be in the minority on that one though…I’m not sure. Another thing most people know about me is that I’m a networker. I love meeting other authors, readers, publishers, editors, etc…you name it. Everyone has a story to tell, advice to give, and experiences to share. Although I take everything people say with a grain of salt, I would like to think there is always something new for me to learn from someone else—or at the very least I can use them as inspiration for a future character. Lastly, kind of a given, people know me as an epic fantasy writer. I love wielding limitless creation when it comes to storytelling. I went from being the kid who was always getting sucked into stories other had written into being an adult who gets sucked into other people’s stories and now my own stories too…I guess not much changed.

Two things that people don’t know about me…well most people don’t know that I was born in the dungeons of a castle in Brazil, in South America! I guess that aligns pretty well with me being a fantasy author and all! Also, I love adding lore, ancient history, songs, and food into my stories. It keeps the written world feeling fresh and exciting.

Every author I’ve met has had an Ah-ha! moment where they decided they wanted to write a book. What was yours?

I was in junior high, selling my own home-drawn comic books to my friends in exchange for candy or coins (to buy candy), daydreaming about being stuck in the school, surviving the zombie apocalypse. Since I didn’t see any attacking zombies, I decided to record my zombie daydream in the form of a story. I really liked how it turned out and loved the idea that I was able to turn this internal fantasy of escapism into something I could read. I think it was at that point that I realized I had found my new favorite thing to do, which was to write. That was probably my ah-ha moment.

What do you think is your writing superpower? What do you do really well?

Probably world-building and monster creation! I say that because I like to put a lot of effort into creating unique places, cultures, lore, history, and creatures. I want people to read my work and feel like it’s a breath of fresh air. I’m also really good at snacking while I write, except Dorito fingers and typing is not a good combo.

So far, which of your characters is your favorite? And which is most like you?

My favorite is my main antagonist Wahala in the SunRider Saga. She is a woman who is not anywhere in the league of raw power and strength as some of the other bad guys or even the good guys. But her insane drive, her hunger to learn the bigger mysteries of the world while everyone else is out fighting great wars, and her manipulative wit make her this underdog you can’t help but root for, even knowing she’s a really bad person.

The character that’s most like me is probably Goblin, who is the main character Finn’s best friend. We’re both food-a-holics and love to play ruthless practical jokes on others.

I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?

I have the carved skull of a ram that’s been painted gold in my study. It stares into my soul. Really though—it inspires my darker adventure-fantasy style writing, its really frikin’ cool, and it connects with a few concepts seen in my SunRider Saga. One specific group of people in my series come from this dead land that is populated with the dangerous corpses of various monsters, ancient warriors, and plants because of a prehistoric enchantment. Throughout many millennia while they have survived there, the people of that land developed the cultural practice of replacing limbs with gold as a means to help dissuade carnivorous monsters from eating them. Over the many years, that practice became a religious act. In the end though, I bought the skull because who wouldn’t want that as a decoration???

What’s next? What are you working on?

I am working on book three of the SunRider Saga, to be released hopefully at the end of this year! It’s a big boy, which is what my readers want in a adventure fantasy novel. I’m also constantly going to various conventions, podcasting with local authors in a really cool writing group I’m in, the Four Seasons of Epic Fantasy, and I’m building from scratch a leather-bound fantasy-style version of SunRider (full of maps, red ink, and metal inlays) and recording the process as a YouTube video.

Raf says, “Have I got a story for you!”

About today’s guest​

Born near the oceanic coast of Brazil inside the dungeons of a castle, Rafael moved to the United States at the age of six. He spent his young years reading, cliff climbing, exploring abandoned mines, and drawing strategy maps to survive the oncoming zombie apocalypse. Obsessed with sharing his stories with others, he writes whenever he can and talks a bit too much about books. You can often find him gorging on sushi and trying to convince his wife to let him ​buy a dog.

Connect with Rafael:

Amazon description of SunRider

I have seen men become Gods and I have seen Gods become dust…

Magic pieces of armor rain from Lenova’s skies, granting common men God-like abilities. These individuals have been dubbed the Star-Children, and their magical suits of armor can reshape land, nations, and the future of man. Each of them wield a seemingly random and distinctive power: the
capability to create clouds of gems, the skill to bend lightning by command, the means to suck the air out of one’s lungs. They are marked by the bracers they wear: a single piece donning their arm, a piece which shifts and slides, forming their unique armored suits of might.

“A perfect mix of super-powers and fantasy!”

No one knows why these bracers have fallen from Lenova’s skies, picking seemingly random individuals to hold such power. In the absence of knowledge and with superior beings now in existence, chaos reigns. The few Star-Children with morals wield their powers with honor, those with darker intentions…seek blood and conquest.

In the midst of this emerging chaos, teenager Finn SunRider only cares for escaping the mines within the burning desert of the Crust and exploring the world he lives in. When an ancient bracer different from those which have fallen from the sky grafts onto Finn’s arm and the last of a dead race warns that albeit no future is certain, he will be thrust in the middle of godly battles and mystery, Finn’s plans of freedom take a different turn.

From flaming, coal-covered vat-worms and two-directional streams to floating cities and slagged landscapes, follow a fantasy adventure of epic proportions!

***

Sound amazing? Buy Sunrider here, and its sequel, In the Land of Hershel, here.


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links.

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Interview with B.A. Simmons

Last weekend the amazing Tremonton library held their annual Summer Reading Kickoff party; an outdoor extravaganza with games, food, firetrucks, a chalk fight, and an amazing community turnout. Ben and I were almost author table buddies and I couldn’t pass up the chance to interview him while I was there.

Come sail with us on a new journey!
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Onto the interview!

What are two things most people know about you and two things most people don’t? 

Two things most people know about me: – I am a jr. high English and social studies teacher – I have a collection of swords.

Two things most people don’t know about me: – I have six kids (hers, mine and ours family) with ages ranging from 21 to 2. – I grew up on a medieval living history farm. 

If you had a warning label, what would it say?

Just because I don’t say anything, doesn’t mean I’m not silently correcting your grammar.

Tell us about your Archipelago Series and even better, what inspired you to write seafaring science fiction?

The Planet Archipelago is a fictional world of islands and seas; there are no continents. It is home to four sentient races; humans being one of these, are the most recent to arrive to the planet. The humans on Archipelago are the descendants of a failed colony. Their ancestors came in spaceships with advanced technology, however they were cut off from Earth and the rest of humanity and because the planet is full of dangerous, hungry creatures, they found it necessary to regress to a more sustainable, medieval technology level.

It’s been hundreds of years since the first humans arrived and humans have spread across thousands of islands. Earth for them has become a myth, a religious legend. On one of these islands, a young man named Rob Engleman is curious about the world he lives on. His mentor, Doctor Morris, tells him all he can about the planet, but the conservative small-island community they live in forbids him from encouraging youngsters like Rob to explore. It’s just too dangerous. When an abandoned boat comes to the island, Rob sees this as his one chance to get away and begin the exploration he’s always dreamed of. Together with his older brother, cousins and some new friends, he sets off on a danger-filled journey of discovery where he learns about the lost history of his own people as well as that of the planet itself.

But there are more dangers on the planet than just the wildlife. A faction of humans called the Falcon Empire is the warpath, looking to conquer all the islands of Archipelago in the name of humanity and Rob’s home is next on their list of conquests. Rob must decide whether to stay and defend his home or continue his explorations of this strange and fascinating world. 

What’s the most important lesson your main character has learned so far?

Now, three books into the series, Rob has learned that true friendship and loyalty are just as important, as knowledge. 

I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?

I have a small house, therefore my writing space is a corner of the dining table. I suppose the most interesting thing is the space itself. When I decided to take my writing seriously and publish my work, my wife agreed to support me on condition that I not neglect our family. Being at the dining table rather than cloistered in a back room ensures that I can’t ignore her or our children. It also has a great view of our yard, which is a constant reminder of my duties as a homeowner. 

What’s next? What are you working on?

My current WIP is the fourth installment in the Archipelago series. I’ve taken time here and there to write short stories, most of which are set on Planet Archipelago as well as develop other ideas unrelated to this series. I’m determined to finish this series (five books in all by the end of 2020. After that, I’ve outlined three other novels, but we’ll see which takes my priority when I come to that place. 


Sneak Peek into the Archipelago Series –

“Keep back,” Tyler shouted. “You’re interfering with an arrest!”

“Why are you arresting them? What have they done?” Mark asked.

He had an arrow nocked on his bowstring but hadn’t raised it. Tom and Pete followed suit, trying to be as non-threatening as possible.

“They’re thieves! Now back away or we’ll arrest you also.”

“Sir, I can assure you they are no thieves. They’re part of my crew and we’ve done nothing illegal,” Mark said as he slowly stepped closer.

“You take another step and I’ll gut this boy here and now,” Tyler threatened. He moved the point of the sword to Edwin’s abdomen and pressed there.

Mark paused. He looked at Edwin wincing as the point of the sword broke the skin and a small bloodstain formed on his tunic. He looked at Anna who had exhausted herself trying to break free of the deputy’s grip and now stood with her arms wrenched behind her back.

“Sir, whatever you think they’ve stolen, we will compensate you for.”

“I doubt you could. These were … rare and valuable items,” Tyler said. “So I suggest you give us no trouble as we take these thieves to the jail and you can visit them there until after their trial.”

“What happens after their trial?” Pete asked.

“When they’re found guilty, they’ll be executed. We don’t believe in long prison sentences here.”

There was silence. Each side-eyed the other, waiting for one of them to make a move. It was into this standoff that a new figure emerged from behind the nearest house. Rob ran out into the road and struck the deputy that held Anna with his bronze axe.


The ultimate nice guy, B.A. Simmons

About today’s guest –

B.A. Simmons grew up roaming the mountains of the western United States. He still finds time to explore and run the trails. He started writing when only 10 years old and hasn’t stopped since. His love of science fiction is only rivaled by his love of history, or his love of family.

He attended Utah State University where he graduated with a degree in English Education in 2011. He teaches junior high school English and social studies. He is a self-professed sesquipedalian ludditish renaissance man.

He currently resides in Ogden, Utah with his amazing wife and kids, two dogs, a cat and myriad of imaginary worlds.

Connect with B.A. Simmons

Check out B.A. Simmons’s books!

Book 1: The Voyage of the Entdecker

Book 2: The Hellhound Consortium

Book 3: The Perils of Archipelago


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Interview with Ann Hunter

It’s not every day I get to interview a ninja who just happens to also be a warrior for teen issues and a horse enthusiast to boot. Oh, and did I mention she’s an amazing author? Ann Hunter and I go back years as authors and fellow writing convention snarky commentators (seriously, we can’t sit next to each other!).

When I asked her to come play on the blog last minute, despite being super medicated for a recent ninja related injury, she was more than eager to say yes!

I googled “ninja horse” – totally not disappointed.

Onto the interview with ANN HUNTER: Mom, writer, ninja (no, really!)

Let’s get to know you better! If you could visit any part of your past for a half an hour, what would you do?

I don’t like the idea of living with regrets or trying to go back to fix something (unless it’s a first draft!). Mistakes make us who we are. I like to say “I never lose. I win or I learn.”
But I guess I would ask for a do-over at the 2018 World Taekwondo Federation National Championships. My score was pretty dang low, but I got a gold medal anyway (because I was the only one in my division). Luckily, I’m competing at State Championships in a few weeks with the hopes of qualifying and going back to Nationals and fixing that score!

Tell us about your newest release and the story behind it.

Dark Horse is the 6th book in my contemporary YA series, North Oak. It deals with the aftermath of rape, the ongoing effects of depression, and PTSD. All while being a teen. It has gotten great reviews, several angry emails (cliffhangers, gotta love them) and lots of ugly crying. I’m looking forward to getting book 7 out quickly (again, cliffhangers)
Also there’s pretty ponies that go really fast! #horseracing
Check out Dark Horse on Amazon

What is the randomest thing you’ve done to research something for a writing project?

With North Oak, I’m constantly researching interesting stuff. When you write what you love, researching turns into a geek fest. I have books on the aerodynamics of race riding, how it’s changed over history, and so on. I recently had to research how a jockey actually becomes a jockey (all the laws and fitness testing, etc). You’d be amazed at what they go through.

And although I love my contemporary teen series, I enjoy my fantasy writing as well– because you make your own rules.

Many of your books include horses. What is your craziest real-life horse story?

Perhaps my author bio for North Oak. I used to run around barefoot and half-naked with a herd of Arabian horses my parents bred when I was little. #truestory Those really early years was when I learned all my fundamental horsemanship– by being kicked, bitten, chased and trampled like any other naughty foal.

Second craziest horse story? That one was how I became a published author at age 12. For English we had to write a short story. Naturally, being the horse crazy girl I was, I chose to write about a horse. My teacher ended up flunking me because the story wasn’t written and formatted the way she wanted. My reading teacher noticed how down I was and asked what was wrong. So I told him. He asked to see the story. I gave it to him… and didn’t see it for a few weeks after.

The next thing I know I’m being called to the principal’s office. Why? Because that story had gone from the reading teacher, to the librarian, to the 8th grade English teacher (who was a published romance author) and brought to the head honcho’s attention. It got published in the paper, in full, and went on to win local awards.

I was transferred out of that flunky teacher’s class, and she later apologized to me the following year.

REGARDING NORTH OAK: I do want to say it’s not just a horse series. I set out with a mission to tackle the really hard, scary issues teens are facing today. The last few books have dealt with bullying, sexuality, depression, and suicide. The horses play more of a backdrop to the drama. Sometimes they even help teach important lessons about miracles and finding yourself.

I hope you’ll give the series a try. There’s nothing else like it on the market!
Check out the North Oak series on Amazon

Tell us about how you prefer to work and a little about your writing space

I don’t have a desk, per say. I typically write on a laptop in bed, or wherever I might be at the moment. Some of my favorite sessions are over lunch with other authors (I love mentoring them or even just being in their company), at Taekwondo while my kids have class– I also do martial arts and I’m just over a year away from my black belt! Or wherever I can catch a break.

I do have kind of a pimped out laptop though. I’ve stickered it to death. You can see one of my favorite stickers here:

Both colorful AND accurate!

What’s next? Tell us about what you’re working on.

Book 7 in the North Oak series, obviously. It’s going to be a bit lighter toned than the last two that dealt with some really solid issues teens are up against in this day and age. I’ve also got my first middle grade horror planned (“Zoo”, it’s going to be a cross between Jurassic Park and Jumanji), a YA standalone inspired by the song “Summer of 69”, some fairytales, and my first couple of romances for a project I’m doing with a few other authors. I’m also contemplating a book about nutrition for diabetics by a diabetic (me– macros and food are another thing I love to nerd over), and a book about getting more writing done without burnout.

About Ann Hunter

Ann Hunter, my favorite ninja

Multi-award winning author Ann Hunter is awesome. And hilarious. She is often told it must be a blast living in her brain. She argues that the voices in her head never shut up. The only way to get relief is to let them out on to the page.

She credits the voices for:

Crowns of the Twelve – A fractured fairy tale series: Moonlight, Blade of Woe, The Subtle Beauty, Fallen, A Piece of Sky

North Oak – a young adult horse racing series that totally rocks! IF YOU’RE A FAN, DON’T MISS UPDATES: Click here to sign up for North Oak updates!

She likes cherry soda with chocolate ice cream, is a mom first and a writer second, has a secret identity, and thinks the Twilight movies are cheesier than cheez whiz (which is why they are her guilty pleasure! And Oh my goodness, have you seen Vampires Suck? Bwahaha!)

She lives in a cozy Utah home with her two awesome kids and epic husband.

Be sure to sign up for her mailing list for exclusive news about upcoming books!

Ann realizes she speaks in third person, and this profile is entirely unprofessional.
But that is why you’ll love her!

Connect with Ann

***

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