Meet The Author Monday – Briana Michaels

This week’s featured author is Briana Michaels, author of the Paranormal Romance series, “Sins of the Sidhe”. Per our usual routine here, we will put her responses in GREEN while I will be BLUE.

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Briana, thank you for stopping by to visit with us today. Paranormal Romance isn’t necessarily something I read often, but it looks to be a thriving genre. Let’s begin with what brought you to the literary world?
I read a lot as a child, but when I went to college there was no time for reading something that wasn’t on a syllabus, so I sort of gave up on books for fun. Then, when Harry Potter came out, I gave it a try and couldn’t put it down. It sparked a new reading frenzy in me and I read anything and everything after that. So thanks, J.K. Rowling, for bringing back my passion for reading. 

I think we all can thank her for bringing in a whole generation of readers. I know my kid loves the books. So we have fantasy covered, but what genre really excites you?
It’s a toss between Paranormal Romance and Historical Romance. I love the darkness that is captured in paranormal reads. Give me danger, big fangs, big swords, and big… well… *ahem* you know, plots and stuff. It’s my true escape from reality.

I love historicals because when it’s done right, you can almost believe it really happened that way. Yes, Jamie Fraser is real. Right? RIGHT?
No matter what I read, it’s all about the romance for me. I can read about falling down the rabbit hole, casting a spell, meeting Benedict Arnold, or having dinner with Sir William Wallace, but there better be some steaminess in there somewhere. 

Romance is certainly not dead for you then. So from reading everything you could get your hands on, you went to writing your own. What prompted that shift?
There must have been a story brewing in me for quite a while although I had no intentions of ever becoming a writer. I love to be in everyone else’s worlds, and that was always good enough for me. 
At the time I was a mom, a preschool art teacher, and a wife. That kept me running all day and night. I’d gone from having a dream job and owning my own business, to being a wife and mother who stayed home (also a dream job), to getting out and teaching art classes with a friend of mine, which was a ton of fun… but something was missing for me. I didn’t know what it was, but something was out of whack. 
One night, on my way home from having dinner with my husband, I looked at him and said, “I’m going to write a book. I have so much in me that needs to get out.” I sat down the next morning in front of my laptop and started typing. Two weeks later, my first novel was complete. And now writing has become my new dream job. 

Two weeks huh? That is an impressive turnaround. I think I know what genre you settled into, but let’s hear you talk about it.
I’m all about the Paranormal Romance. I can’t imagine writing anything else. I love the dark side, it’s home to me. Throw in some danger, steamy scenes, and a kilt, and I’m a very happy woman.

A kilt huh? Well, so two weeks to write the first book, but how did it go from your laptop to the shelves of Amazon?
I’m self-published. As an Indie, it’s hard to get your name out there, to get people to notice you. You just sort of sprouted from the ground and you’re not in the sunshine yet like the big guys. But that’s okay. It all takes time: writing, editing, marketing, overall success. 
Writing my first book was the easy part. Hitting that publish button was terrifying. Getting that first bad review was nauseating. But then it just sort of smooths out. You get into a groove. Your skin gets a little thicker. You start to learn the dos and don’ts. You finally come to a point where you know what your goals are – and they are all within reach.
The more I write, the hotter I burn. The hotter I burn, the more ideas I have. As ideas grow, so does your talent. It’s a beautiful thing, really – the evolution of a writer.
Once someone in the publishing biz asked me, “How many books are in your series?” I replied, “I’m on my fifth one now.” She cooly said, “That’s a large series for someone who’s never even written a stand-alone book before.” My reply? “Well, I’ve just gotten started. I have six more ready to go after I’m finished writing the one I’m on now.”
By the way, this was a totally friendly, wonderful phone call. I didn’t take offense to what she was saying. She hadn’t meant it as an insult, I think I’d just surprised her. I knew jumping into a huge series might be a risky adventure and I didn’t care. I wanted it. Wanted it bad, baby. Very little in this world scares me more than regret. I knew I wanted to write a series and that’s just what I did. I went with my gut and couldn’t be happier with my decision.
The conversation with that lovely agent sealed my fate in so many ways and I am eternally grateful for that phone call. She was awesome, helpful, and memorable. 
Lesson learned: You do you.

Definitely sound advice for anyone considering putting pen to paper, or fingers to keys. So outside of writing steamy novels, what else drives your life?
Writing is an obsession. It’s hard to walk away from it, even to take a shower. However, when life calls, I have to answer, which means prying my boney fingers off the keyboard and joining civilization.
My husband and I love to garden, make a lot of things (like soap, wine, art), and we live on the side of a mountain that requires attention and hard work. If I’m not blissfully banging away on the keyboard, then I’m baking cakes, entertaining friends, chopping wood, plucking weeds, feeding chickens, canning food, sipping wine, catching crayfish, running kids to sports and dance, or doing laundry. Not necessarily in that order.

Busy woman. I hope you don’t leave your readers too long on that fifth book. Now, you have a funny story to share, so let’s hear it.
A book club had just read SHATTER (book 1 in my Sins of the Sidhe series) and invited me as their guest author to speak about the book. Walking into the kitchen and making introductions here’s how the convo went with one of the readers:

Her: “Oh, you’re the writer?” Disappointment was evident. 

Me: “Yup. I’m your girl.” *displays cheesy smile*

Her: “I just thought you’d look different.”

Me: “Well my picture is on the back of your book.”

Her: “I know, I just thought it wasn’t right.”
I still have no idea how to respond to that, but it makes me laugh every time I think about it. Should I have had horns? *Hmmm, makes mental note for next book club invite.*

Who knows what she was hoping for. Thank you again for stopping by Briana and I wish you success with all those books in your series. Maybe I will have to step outside my genre and pick up that first one myself.

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If anyone wants to find out more about Briana or keep tabs on her work, You can find her at the links below.
Website
Facebook Page
Twitter: @SinsoftheSidhe

If any authors out there would like to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, you can find the submission form HERE.

Meet The Author Mondays – K. C. Blackbyrn

This week on Meet the Author Monday, we have self published Fantasy author, K. C. Blackbyrn, who released her first book, “Stirring Power“, late last year with the paperback going live early this year. As usual, we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and KC will be in GREEN.

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KC, thank you for stopping by to visit with us today. Exciting times for you with the launch of your first book. What brought you to the literary world?
I was dedicated to the outdoors as a child, but then my mother sat me down and gave me a book to read. It was a fantasy book (I believe, as I was too young to remember properly). Ever since then, I read so much that I had glasses by age nine and the local library felt like my personal lounge. I’ve been reading libraries ever since (until I became a writer, that is).

Reading libraries huh? Never seems to be enough time for reading in my opinion. What’s your favorite genre?
Fantasy with a little romance mixed in has always been the genre that gets my brain gears going. Lately though, I bounce between fact, romance, and fantasy.

Fantasy is my favorite as well. I don’t mind a little mushy stuff. Haha. Is there a specific event that brought you across from reading the stories of others to writing your own?
I had been an avid reader for a few years at this point. I fell into a slump where I couldn’t find any books that interested me right away. I began to search the library lists and my search keywords became more and more elaborate until finally I decided I would write down on a word document what I really wanted to see in a story. That became a story itself.

That’s a good way to get started. Stirring Power is clearly a fantasy novel. Is this your passion or are their other works stirring around in your head?
I consider myself a fantasy novelist right at this moment because at this moment I’m devoting 100% of myself to fantasy stories. However, in the future there are some novels I would like to write that are in the romance and the thriller genres.

With your first book launched, what can you tell us about your journey to the world of being a published author?
I’m still a fledgling author so I believe my journey thus far is similar to most beginning self-publishers. Once my story was finished I tried to teach myself to market my book to agents. Having failed a few times I did some research and realized that self-publishing would allow for more freedom and so decided that was the path I wanted instead.

Self publishing does seem to be the wave of the future. The big publishing houses don’t seem to want anything but the same old big names. What interests do you have outside of reading and writing?
When not writing, I have a passion for martial arts. I currently practice Kung Fu, but have a previous black belt in Karate. Other than that, I have many “smaller” hobbies like crochet and taking walks, but my day job takes up a lot of my time so I usually have to put those smaller activities aside.

It’s always good to have a balance. I have heard that martial arts teach a lot about self discipline and perseverance, both traits handy for an author. Did you have anything funny you wanted to share with my readers before you go?
Something you might not know about me is that I have a horrible sense of direction. I’ve lived in the Seattle city for five years and I still need to look up directions to get where I’m going.

Thankfully in this digital age we have a map and gps system readily available on about any modern phone. Good luck with your book launch. It looks like one I will have to add to my ever growing To Be Read pile.

For anyone looking to find out more about KC and keep tabs on her progress with Book 2 in her series, you can locate her at the following links.

Website
Facebook Page
Twitter

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

Meet the Author Monday – Zara Altair

Today on Meet the Author Monday we have Zara Altair here to tell us a little about herself and her books. As usual we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and our guest author will be GREEN.

I always like to start off with exploring out my guest authors entered the literary world. Is there a specific person or even that made you a reader?
Wow, Andrew, I’ve been reading since I could read at about the age of five. In our family, reading aloud was a daily tradition, so I could get more stories when I could read myself. Kipling was an early favorite. I loved the way he talked to you, O Best Beloved, as though he were telling the story just to you. Winnie the Pooh, Just So Stories, The Wind in the Willows, both Alice books, Albert Payson Terhune because I loved dogs. Those were early stories. When I was eight we moved to a small town with a local library. The limit was eight books out at any one time. Every Friday after school it was eight books out, eight books in.
Our family had an Encylopedia Britannica which also included a set of books about children in other lands. I read and reread those books.

What genre excites you the most these days?
I’m a reader omnivore. I like political thrillers, crime, mystery, history, the classics and read in English, French, Italian, and Spanish.

Four languages, that’s impressive. When did you decide that you didn’t want to just read stories, but make up your own?
When I was 5, yep, same time I was reading, I met an author of children’s books, Phyllis Ayer Sowers. (https://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3APhyllis%20Ayer%20Sowers) We visited her several times. Her books were stories about kids who lived in other lands. She was charming and gracious and did not talk down to me. That was the moment! In some form or another, I’ve been writing ever since. As a child I wrote stories that were set in foreign lands. As an adult I wrote science fiction.
I had years of short story rejections. When I look back at those stories now, I understand why.
I am a published poet with uncountable readings. I taught poetry to children and adults through the Poets-In-The-Schools program.
The stories I have out are short historical mysteries as part of an ongoing series.

That’s incredible that you were able to teach, a highly underrated profession. So what are you working on at the moment?
For the present, I am writing mysteries. They are fun to write. My longer work in progress is set in the same time period, early 6th Century Italy under the Ostrogoths, but is a thriller more than a mystery.
I started writing the mysteries, with the same protagonist, for fun while I work on the novel.

So a children’s author was a big catalyst for your desire to write. Where did your journey go from there?
Ah, the journey. That childhood dream was crushed by my father, who heavily criticized everything I wrote. Yeah, not fun. It took me a long time to recover from that “not good enough” feeling.
At one point I had an agent for a children’s book about a child who had a new sibling that come home from the hospital. There was a tussle with several publishers over including “umbilical cord” in the book. They felt it was too big for pre-schoolers to understand. My feeling was, Nonsense, every child knows Tyrannosaurus Rex. It didn’t get published. I still feel the same way. 🙂
I had ideas for more books, but was told that the agency would not represent me without an author platform and a marketing program in place. This was before the internet, the cost of PR managers and book tours seemed astronomical at the time.
More recently, I had a futuristic fantasy rejected several times.
Then I discovered the world of self-publishing! The world was wide open. I decided to share my short stories with no intention of making money. I have a tiny trickle of royalties each month.
The algorithms, and readers, like a minimum of three books. I’m working on the third story now.
Andrew, you are so right: it is a journey. Writing stories is just part of being an author. There’s setting up a website, writing articles/blogs, participating in social media, growing the fan base. And finding and working with a cover designer and editors…and writing more stories.
I have two editors, one content editor who catches those places where the story has a glitch like pacing and character development, and a copy editor who looks at sentence structure, wording, and the tiny elements of syntax. Each in their own way makes my stories better.

That’s great that you didn’t let rejection, either familiar or professional, get you down. The world of self-publishing is great for us “little guys” to get our stories out there. When you aren’t writing, how do you spend your time?
I live near Portland, Oregon among the tall trees by the side of a creek. It’s a peaceful environment, very conducive to writing time.
I work (day job) as a content writer focused on semantic writing for the web. I also have one current ghostwriting book project, a thriller. So when I’m not writing, I’m writing.
I consult with a select few writers on the writing process and their writing journey.
I’m a voracious reader. And I listen to audiobooks.
I love being outdoors and go on frequent trail walks.
My two grown children are two of my best friends. My son lives in Virginia with his wife and daughter (my granddaughter). My daughter lives with her husband in Hampshire County, England.

Clearly its difficult to keep your fingers off the keys or a pen out of your hands. I want to thank you for stopping by and introducing yourself Zara. Do you have any final thoughts or words of wisdom for my readers?
Thank you, Andrew, for the invitation to chat with you and your readers.
Someone asked me recently where I get my inspiration. Stories come to me and say, Tell me. It doesn’t stop until the story is told.
The idea for the Argolicus Mysteries came from a conversation with my daughter. She was telling me why I should go to Ravenna, Italy. As she chatted along, she said, “And he led his people across the frozen Danube and eventually came to Italy.” In my mind I wondered, what was it like to live then.
I did go to Ravenna and met with professors at Universitá di Bologna, Ravenna, who were amazed that some crazy woman from the West Coast of the United States wanted to write about Ravenna at the time of King Theodoric. I came home with 36 kilos of books which they generously gave me.
Fortunately, my daughter who had gone to school twice in Italy prepared me for Italian professors, you must prove your point before they answer a question. When I pointed to a mosaic of a ship and asked a professor if that was what ships looked like in 514 A.D. he answered: No, no, no. Then for forty minutes he rummaged around in his bookshelves showing me images of ships. For each one, I would answer something like: No, those were Visigoths in Spain and that was a few years later. I had a reason for why each illustration he showed me wasn’t right. At the end of 40 minutes, once again I held up the drawing of the ship and asked, So, in 514 the ships would look like this. He answered, Yes, yes, yes.
Research about the period is challenging because when the Emperor Justinian retook Italy, he had a major campaign to eliminate all evidence of the Ostrogoths.
Argolicus was a real person at the time of Theodoric’s reign in Italy. He is mentioned nine times in Cassiodorus’ Variae (iii 11, iii 12, iii 29, iii 30, iii 33, iv 22, iv 25, iv 29, iv 42) as praefectus urbis of Rome. His childhood and ongoing friendship with Cassiodorus come from my imagination as well as his retirement in the very southern tip of Italy, the setting for the mystery series.
His call to Ravenna and appointment as comitiacus officium in Felix Ravenna: A Mosaic also originated in an idea.
The mysteries are set far away from the capital in southern Italy in 512 A.D. Felix Ravenna: A Mosaic is set two years later in Ravenna during the year 514 A.D.
Your readers can find me on Amazon and just about anywhere ebooks are sold.
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I hope they will take the opportunity to look up your works. For those looking for Zara’s stories, here are the links you can use.

Website
Facebook Page
Twitter
You Tube
Google+
Amazon Author Page

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

Author Interview- Melinda Kucsera

I have a great new friend to introduce you to today, my Gentle Readers. Melinda Kucsera is a fellow author with two works currently on Amazon. I have added her to my To Be Read pile (which never seems to get smaller) and I think you should too. In the style of my previous interviews, I will put my comments/questions in BLUE and Melinda will be GREEN.

Let’s start this off with something easy since almost all writers are avid readers as well. Is there a specific event or person which made you a reader?
Like many other writers, I grew up reading. My mother is a voracious reader who didn’t much care for television. So she allowed my sibs and I only 1 hour of TV per day. So yes, I missed out on most of the 80s shows. When I was a kid, her ‘one hour’ rule irked me, but now I’m grateful to her. Not following a ton of TV shows frees me up to read and write more. Though I grew up reading, I was never as voracious a reader as mother was until I discovered audiobooks. Now my audiobook habit outstrips her ebook addiction and we have a good laugh about that when we get together to talk about books.

That’s funny about your mom. Sometimes I wish I had watched less TV as a kid. Maybe I should try this with my kids. Since you prefer audiobooks, what are you favorite books to listen to?
Fantasy, thrillers, mysteries, police procedurals, Sci-fi especially military and hard sci-fi, physics, astronomy and other nonfiction science books. I love the Great Courses series of audiobooks.

I may have to check those out myself, though I am not much for audiobooks. What pushed you across that threshold from reader into writer?
My imagination. I invented a fantasy world before I started school and I carried it with me everywhere I went. Every day I refined it, and I spent hours imagining adventures for the characters living there. One rainy day, I started writing those stories down to distract myself from the argument my parents were having. I wrote until my hand cramped and then I switched hands and brute forced more letters onto the page. Some of them were actually readable thanks to ambidexterity. After that, dreaming of adventures wasn’t enough. I had to note them down.
World building is generally a long process if you want to get it right, so kudos to you on the dedication. I probably don’t really have to ask this but for the sake of the interview, what is your writing specialty?
Fantasy, epic or paranormal non-romantic though, I like action and adventure!

We know your world building was a long journey, but once you had all this down, tell us how you went from cramped up hands to published writer.
My journey is an eccentric one. I work in the publishing industry at the intersection of design, IT, editorial, business and marketing. I’d already been researching and thinking hard about self-publishing when the unthinkable happened. My sister died suddenly at the age of 29. Before she passed, she asked me to publish the Curse Breaker series I was working on at the time. Grief crushed me. I crawled into audiobooks and took refuge there until the pain lessened and the tears stemmed. I’d lost my best friend and she never got to read the story I was most proud of, the penultimate sequence in the Curse Breaker saga.
In the dark days that followed, I clung to the promise I’d made to her. I would not let her down. I published the first story from the series, Curse Breaker: Enchanted, on the second anniversary of my sister’s death as a memorial for her and all those who never had the chance to chase their dreams.

I am very sorry to hear about your sister. To shift gears a little bit, what do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
When not writing, I’m a project manager for a privately held publishing company that I do not own. They don’t publish fiction, so there is no conflict and my coworkers are quite proud to have an author on staff. I can usually be found listening to an audiobook and sneaking onto audible.com to search for my next great listen or chatting with other coworkers about the audiobook they’re listening to. I’m also fitness/health enthusiast. So if you pass by my neighborhood or my office, you’ll find me out there wearing the rubber off my sneaker’s soles. I love to walk.

Well, keep up the good work and thank you for stopping by to chat with me for a few minutes.

If you would like to find out more about Melinda or her work, you can find her at the links below.

Melinda Kucsera’s Website

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Curse Breaker: Enchanted is available from Amazon

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