Chat with Diane M. How

One of my long-time critique partners and friends, Diane M. How, has been on a roll, creating the zany sister trio of characters in her The Dahlonega Sisters series. Her newest, Veins of Gold, came out recently and I was able to capture a bit of time from her between projects for this fun interview.

Jeanne: Diane, tell my readers a bit about yourself.

Diane: I’m a sexagenarian! Ooh, that sounds a little dirty. Let me try again. I’m a hopelessly optimistic author who loves life and couldn’t make it through a day without humor. I’ve earned every laugh line, gray hair, and muffin roll that comes with the golden age.

Besides writing, I love walking with my very chatty husband of forty-nine years. He’s got a keen eye for wildlife, birds, and gardening and still entertains and amazes me with his extensive knowledge. However, upon questioning some of his facts, he admitted that when he doesn’t know an answer, he just makes it up. I often warn friends to use the fifty-fifty rule when he shares information.

My daughter and I have been weaving baskets for more than twenty years and if I didn’t gift them to friends and family, we’d need another room to store all of them. I’m still at the advanced beginner level, but my daughter has mastered the craft and teaches others how to weave. Believe it or not, there are others who want to learn this ancient art!

Most of my days are spent sitting in front of the computer, but there was a time when I rappelled a hundred-foot cliff, rode a submarine to the bottom of the ocean, and zip-lined though Meramec State Park. Now I let my characters take me on adventures. Guess in some ways I’m living vicariously through them.

Jeanne: I’ve seen some of your so-called “advanced beginner” baskets and they are amazing.

Jeanne: How long have you been writing seriously?

Diane: Writing has always been my emotional release when stressed or sad. When I was a young teenage, my two-and-a-half-year-old brother died from cancer after a year of horrific treatments. Our family never discussed the permanent wounds inflicted with his death. The only outlet I had was writing and I destroyed everything I wrote for fear of someone else reading it.

Later, as a young mother, I wrote stories about my daughter and her favorite stuffed dogs. For the life of me I can’t find any of them but it was an enjoyable effort.

I lacked the knowledge, time, and courage to do anything with my scribbles. I dabbled in poetry and writing vignettes while working full time and caring for my mother who had Alzheimer’s. When I could squeeze it in, I took courses at the community college or through adult education programs.

Ten years ago, after multiple family deaths, a forced retirement, and nearly losing my husband to a heart attack, I again turned to writing as a release. I filled notebooks with tear-stained pages of pent up emotions. When the dust settled, I was lost.

After years of never having a moment to myself, I struggled with what to do with free time. The local library had a writing critique group and I decided to attend one of the meetings. Best decision ever. With the help of others, I began to refresh my skills and improve my writing. A fellow writing friend offered to help me publish some short stories into a book, Peaks and Valleys.

Then someone encouraged me to participate in NANOWIMO (National Novel Writing Month – November) and I jumped in with both feet. With no plot and only two characters I’d created while taking a class, I sat down and wrote a 50,500 word romantic suspense novel. As with many first attempts at novel writing, it’s been rewritten many time and currently is collecting dust in cyberspace, but I’m prepared to scrub it up very soon.

Jeanne: Do your novels/stories carry a message?

Diane: I’m always looking for the silver lining, hence my blog My stories always have a happy ending. There is enough grief and anger in this world without me creating more.

I also believe there are always two sides to a story and it is important to keep an open mind until you know both. So often quick decisions are made, hurtful words are spewed, and relationships are severed before the entire truth of a situation is known. I try to subtly incorporate that belief into my stories hoping readers leave with a little more tolerance, patience, and understanding.

Jeanne: Who are your favorite authors?

Diane: I enjoy Debbie McComber, Susan Mallery, and Jodi Picoult because they write stories that tug at my heart.

Jeanne: Have they influenced your style?

Diane: Each of them has opened my mind to the type of books I want to write. Debbie’s novels showed me how I could build a series around my characters. Susan showed me how humor can be incorporated effectively. Jodi inspires me to write about sensitive subjects that enlighten readers. I admire all of them.

My first published novel is a women’s fiction, The Dahlonega Sisters, The Gold Miner Ring. It’s the first in a series designed around three fictional middle-age women who live in Dahlonega, Georgia. I’ve been to this quaint historic town many times and knew it would be the perfect location for my sisters to live.

Quirky, eccentric Mutzi steals the main role. She’s witty, superstitious, and loveable. She’s forced to reveal a teenage transgression that’s burdened her all her life.

Jeanne: And the story continues?

The second book of the series, The Dahlonega Sisters, Veins of Gold, was released in November 2020. Although it continues where the first story left off, it was written as a stand-alone. In this book, Mutzi’s twin sister, Marge—who looks and acts nothing like Mutzi—takes the lead when she is told a secret that could change their family dynamics. In order to prove or disprove what she’s been told, Marge must do ancestry research. Will the results disprove her fears or will they change the dynamics of The Dahlonega Sisters forever? You’ll have to read Veins of Gold to find out.

You can find it at your favorite retailer at:

They make a great holiday gifts for friends and family too!

I happen to know that Diane is a prolific writer with stories and poems scattered across multiple anthologies. You can check out her work and follow Diane at these links:




Diane, thank you for spending time with us. Be sure to check out Diane’s current works.

Chat with Ken Lee

I recently had the delightful pleasure of editing, formatting, and assisting with the publication of a wonderful book of Biblically-inspired plays by Ken Lee called Voices from the Bible. I decided in the spirit of Thanksgiving to share this with my readers by interviewing Ken.

Ken did something amazing with these plays. He made stories from the Bible accessible … to anyone regardless of religious persuasion.

Jeanne: Tell us about your life and how it relates to you most recently released book Voices from the Bible.

Ken: For 26 years I traveled throughout 40 states as well as England, Canada, and Israel as a Drama Evangelist, performing one-man musical plays about Biblical characters. I was a featured artist on Christian television and several of my videos can still be seen on YouTube. I have performed for over 30 different denominations (I didn’t know there were so many) as well as many national conferences and have served as Pastor, church Music Director, and Evangelist for almost 50 years. I retired in 2019 to work on my writing and to publish the plays I’ve authored during my ministry. I have no idea what I’m doing, but much of my life I have had to jump in with both feet and figure things out as I went.

Jeanne: Wow—you’ve had quite an unusual life.

Jeanne: Can you share with my readers why do you write?

Ken: I started to write because I wanted to “bring the Bible alive” for church congregations and I could find very few quality resources in the 1970s when I began my life’s work. My mission now is to offer young ministers better quality scripts than I had when I started. I realize that Christian theatre is no longer in vogue in most churches, but my hope is that my works will inspire others long after I’m gone. Surprisingly, I also find myself writing novels, short stories and devotionals of which I am quite proud.

Jeanne: Sounds like writing begets more writing.

Jeanne: Name a book that made you cry. Why?

Ken: As a child, Winnie the Pooh was more than literature to me. I read it over and over again so that I could leave my inner-city home and rest in the Hundred-acre Wood with my best friends, Pooh and Piglet. It became my escape and helped me survive the stresses of being a sensitive child in a society that meant to toughen me up. Also Astrid Lindgren’s book Mio, My Son struck a chord deep within me as I entered puberty. I was never abused like the main character, but I longed to find a new life in my imagination if only for a few hours. I felt disconnected from my society and it helped me understand that I have a spiritual Father who loves me as well as an earthly one.

Jeanne: Do you write to music/create play lists?

Ken: In addition to my writing, I have four albums of original music. Even though churches were occasionally skeptical of my acting, my singing helped win them over. I don’t consider myself a poet, yet if songwriting counts then I suppose I do have a bit of poet inside me.

Jeanne: Poetry and songwriting have a lot in common. Having heard your singing, I can completely understand how it would win them over.

Jeanne: Does your writing carry a message?

Ken: This is absolutely crucial to me. All art carries a message. I insist that my work reflect a value system I can defend. Even if my message is that we mustn’t take life too seriously, I consider my influence on the reader as a privilege which must be respected. Whether or not someone gets the same message I intended is not the issue, only that it will help others and not harm them. Saying I am not responsible for the impact of my work is to say I am not responsible if my car runs over your baby. No matter how important the message, it must be expressed in a way that will facilitate a better world. People who use the Bible to hurt or discourage people are misusing and abusing the God they say they love.

Jeanne: What are you currently reading?

Ken: I’m currently reading your book Bridge to Us, and Sarah Angleton’s mystery novel Smoke Rose to Heaven. I have only known a couple of published authors in my lifetime. Since joining Saturday Writers and meeting both Jeanne and Sarah, I wanted to sample their work. I also wanted to stretch myself a bit by reading things I would not otherwise have chosen. Jeanne’s romance novel is definitely out of my comfort zone, but I’m enjoying it much more than I expected. Likewise, Sarah’s book has religious overtones and spiritual mysteries that I find intriguing. Having read these works, I may even find the courage to write a romantic short story or a supernatural mystery novel.

Jeanne: Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone to read Bridge to Us. I very much appreciate that.

Jeanne: How do you prefer to interact with your fans/readers?

Ken: I have a weekly posting on Facebook that I call Ken’s Korner. I try to give a short devotional word of encouragement which includes a scriptural passage to validate what I’ve said. If you like it, you can send a friend request. I try to keep my followers updated as I publish new works on Amazon. I also occasionally sing an old hymn or gospel song. Plus, I have a Facebook page Ken Lee Books for those who want to read more. If they wish to email me, I can be reached at

Blurb for Voice from the Bible:

Plays to make Biblical characters, stories, and themes come alive.

is an anthology of plays written by Rev Kenneth W. Lee for use in churches of all denominations.

Volume One includes all of Ken’s original one-man plays that have won him critical acclaim.

Plus, it includes 25 shorter monologues written for amateur performers…for women as well as for men.

Whether you want to learn something new about Bible characters yourself, or if you’re looking to challenge your church to better understand the scripture, these plays will do the job.

All of the scripts may be performed without royalties.

Quote from One Size Fits All—“Inside, we’re all the same size…and the same color.”

Quote from Joseph the Carpenter—“The path of the righteous is not always well lit, but it is always well planned.” Included in Voices from the Bible Vol. One 

Where can readers follow you and your work?



Thank you, Ken, for spending time with us. Be sure to check out Ken’s inspiring works.

Chat with Georgia Rose



Earlier in 2019, I won an audio copy of Georgia Rose’s Parallel Lies. I really had no idea what to expect, but set my phone to play and dove in. Within the first few pages, I’d become a fan of this author. She wove a complicated portrayal of a character who seems outwardly confident, but I could sense the damaged person just below the surface. I highly recommend Parallel Lies.

J: If you don’t write full-time, what kind of job do you have, or have you had in the past? Does it play any role in your stories?

G: I have my own business providing office administration and bookkeeping services to local businesses. That fills more than full time hours much of the time but the really great thing is that I get to do it from home, so it fits in with the writing well. Although that tends to happen into the night and over weekends.

In the past I have done many things but the most important, for my writing, is that I have always been deeply involved with horses. I rode from a very young age then had my own or worked with other people’s horses as I grew up eventually qualifying as a riding instructor.  Anyone who has read the Grayson Trilogy will know this and if you love horses too then please check them out. Many of my readers absolutely love the setting, I created it as my perfect place to live.

J: Horses are such amazing creatures. You’re fortunate to be able to spend time with them.

J: How long have you been writing seriously?

G: Since 2012. The Grayson Trilogy came to me pretty much fully formed over the course of one week’s holiday. I came back from that and wrote frantically until I got it all down.

J: I love it when that happens.

J: What genre(s) do you write? Why? Is there one you’d like to try?

G: I write the stories I want to tell rather than specifically to a genre so they are always a little cross-genre, however generally romantic suspense. Someone once described them as mysterious and romantic adventure stories, for adults. I like that. I prefer the dark side of romance, my characters have been through too much to be light-hearted.

J: How do you write? Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?

G: Definitely computer—I could never deal with all the rewriting to do it long hand.

J: Me too unless I get stuck. Then pen and paper switches how my brain works and I can break out.

J: What do you nosh on (snacks/drinks) while writing?

G: I am a grazer when it comes to food, and I have a sweet tooth, so having any snacks nearby is a recipe for disaster, as there is no such thing as saving any for another day. I’ll look away from my screen to find whatever it is gone, so I try not to avoid getting any out … but …

J: How do you prefer to interact with your fans/readers?

G: Fans!?! That still makes me laugh. No, seriously, any way they want to really but I generally get the most feedback and conversation via my newsletters. With my other commitments I find it very difficult to build up any meaningful interaction on social media although of course I can be found most places, and I get on there when I can.

J: How much of yourself do you put into your books?

G: I put my heart into my books—which is pretty corny but that’s the truth of it. When I’m writing I am very much going through what my characters are going through. This means I spent a lot of time sobbing while writing a particular scene of A Single Step, but anyone who’s read Parallel Lies will be pleased to know I didn’t start to behave as Maddy does … a step too far and all that!

J: And it shows in the depth of your characters.

J: What inspired Parallel Lies?

G: This simple, and short, scene:

It’s three the next morning, and I’m warm though my breath comes out as white clouds, frozen on the icy air. I hear it, behind me, and to the left. The snap of a twig underfoot and a sharp intake of breath at the indiscretion. He’s here, just as I knew he would be, but I allow myself a small smile of satisfaction knowing he’ll be cursing his mistake. I have no intention of making this easy for him so leave him to come and find me. I still, and although my heart is pounding, blood pumping in my ears until I’m sure he’ll be able to hear it too, I concentrate on making myself small and silent. I am one step ahead of him and plan on keeping it that way.

I had this in mind and the rest came from it.

J: Isn’t it amazing how one scene can launch an entire book? I well remember hearing that scene and having the hair on my neck stand up.

J: What was the hardest part of writing Parallel Lies?

G: Simply finding the time to get it done. I am what has been termed a tea-break writer and usually open my manuscript up in the morning then dash back to it as the day progresses to add a few words here and there. It’s a terribly disjointed way of doing things but that is the way things are at the moment.

J: I find I’m more of a big block writer. But that applies to a lot of my life. I prefer large swaths of time to go deep into a project.

J: What is the most special thing a reader has said about Parallel Lies?

G: I count myself as fortunate to have received many terrific reviews but I particularly like this line from Barb Taub: “For those who admire character-driven thrillers, who can handle brief but shocking violence, and who enjoy beautiful writing, I can’t recommend Parallel Lies enough.” It tells readers all they need to know in one perfect sentence.

J: She captured the essence well.

J: Favorite quote from Parallel Lies?

G: “Keep the lies you’re going to be telling parallel to the truth of the life you previously led.” Once I wrote that I knew I had my title.

J: I had that same thought when I read it.

J: What are you working on now?

G: I am nearing the completion of the sequel to Parallel Lies, a book that was meant to be a standalone. Anyway, I am meeting with my editor shortly to go through his dissection of it and it’s out with my beta-readers too. I’m hoping to get that out in the autumn of 2019.

I’m also on the first draft of a novella, which will definitely be a standalone. And I’m outlining a series I have in mind. If the outlining goes well I shall progress that later this year.

Questions of interest to other authors

J: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad ones?

G: I always read my reviews because I appreciate the time and effort it takes for readers to write them and I cherish every one, yes, even those that are harder to read. I am fortunate not to have received that many bad ones, certainly none that have really ripped into a book, I think that would be hard to take, but you simply have to take the content of them on board and move on. We all know not every reader is going to enjoy your work.

J: I read mine also. It tickles me when someone takes time to leave a review, even if it’s just one line.

J: Do you hide secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

G: Oh yes … I love doing that, although it’s less about secrets and more about things only certain people will recognize.

Blurb for Parallel Lies:

A woman with a hidden past. A new love on the horizon. Will the truth set her free or cost her everything?

Madeleine Ross has meticulously organized her world to leave no trace of her criminal past. After creating a new identity for herself, her only remaining connection to her previous life is the security work she does for a small-town insurance company. But when she starts falling for her handsome boss, Dan, she’s worried letting him in will expose secrets best kept locked away…

As their attraction grows stronger, Madeline’s attempts to keep Dan in the dark go horribly wrong when a dangerous ex emerges from her unsavory past. After her former flame gives her an offer she can’t refuse, she has one choice left: ditch her life as a thief to let Dan in or embrace her shady dealings to destroy her only shot at a happy future.

Parallel Lies is the first book in a fast-paced romantic suspense series. If you like troubled heroines, character-driven action, and powerful emotions, then you’ll love Georgia Rose’s thrilling novel.

Buy Parallel Lies to unlock a secret identity today!



Georgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. Following completion of the trilogy she was asked for more and so wrote a short story, The Joker, which is based on a favorite character from the series and the eBook is available to download for free at the retailer site of your choice.

Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual genre blending, and although it was meant to be a standalone its sequel will be released later in 2019.

Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her story lines. The others are a product of her passion for people watching and her overactive imagination.

Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire in the UK where she lives with her much neglected husband and dog. Their son, currently at university, comes and goes and their daughter, having delighted them all for long enough, has eventually moved out, married, and will be making Georgia a grandmother later this year.

Links to Georgia’s books:


A Single Step




Before the Dawn






Thicker than Water




The Grayson Trilogy Boxset (in Kindle Unlimited)




The Joker (a free short story)




Parallel Lies – also available as an audio book everywhere.



Links to Georgia:

Website (which is in desperate need of a revamp!)

Newsletter (get A Single Step for free by signing up here, plus this is where you will hear about giveaways and any offers on my books)



Thank you, Georgia, for spending time with us. Be sure to check out Georgia’s current works.

Chat with Eldonna Edwards

During 2018, I won an autographed copy of This I Know by Eldonna Edwards. On a bright sunny day last summer, I lounged on my deck and dove into the words. Once I began, I could not stop. I was pulled in and entranced by Grace, who became one of my favorite characters of the year. In celebration of Eldonna’s new book coming out in a couple of weeks, Clover Blue, (see below for pre-order details) and because I loved This I Know so much, I invited Eldonna in for a chat.


J: Eldonna, what is something readers might want to know about you.

E: I often go by Ellie because it’s easier to write on a coffee cup. I’ve been in love with writing since I penned my first poem at the age of nine where I grew up in West Michigan, the fifth of seven children headed by a rural preacher. I currently teach memoir and fiction at our local writer’s conference. Fun fact: in 2010 I donated a kidney to a complete stranger. My story was featured in a documentary (Perfect Strangers) and I wrote a memoir about my experience (LOST IN TRANSPLANTATION). I had this idea that I wanted to change someone’s life. Turned out the life it changed the most was mine.

J: Wow. When you set out to change a life you don’t go half-way. 

J: Tell the readers about This I Know.

E: THIS I KNOW a luminous coming-of-age story set in a small Midwest town in the late 1960s and helmed by an unforgettable young protagonist—compassionate, uncannily wise Grace. Eleven-year-old Grace Carter has a talent for hiding things. She’s had plenty of practice, burying thoughts and feelings that might anger her strict Evangelical pastor father, and concealing the deep intuition she carries inside. The Knowing, as Grace calls it, offers glimpses of people’s pasts and futures. It enables her to see into the depth of her mother’s sadness, and even allows Grace to talk to Isaac, her twin brother who died at birth. To her wise, loving Aunt Pearl, The Knowing is a family gift; to her daddy, it’s close to witchcraft. When her mother lapses into deep depression after bringing a new baby home, Grace will face a life-changing choice—ignore her gift and become the obedient daughter her father demands, or find the courage to make herself heard, even if it means standing apart.

J: I was intrigued by, and could relate to, the gift Grace had because I personally have experienced a bit of intuition. During my time practicing Energy Medicine, I trained myself to feel/intuit the emotions of my clients. I couldn’t imagine having a gift like that at such a young age.

J: If you don’t write full-time, what kind of job do you have, or have you had in the past? Does it play any role in your stories?

E: Although I no longer practice, as a massage therapist for over two decades, I came to understand that there’s a lot we don’t understand about the connection between our bodies/minds and the surrounding world. What I do know is that keeping an open mind to the unknowable is paramount to a broader experience of this life. I decided early on that I wanted to explore the “what ifs” of someone who maintains a deep intuition—what we sometimes call the gift of sight—and how those uncanny abilities might challenge the belief system of a conservative family and/or community. Thus, THIS I KNOW was born.

J: I love playing “what if” when I’m writing.

J: What genre(s) do you write in? Is there one you’d like to try?

E: I love coming-of-age stories for adults because it’s a way to remember those formative years between the freedom of innocence and the gradual recognition of the larger world around us. I’m a huge fan of Southern fiction but don’t feel like I have the born-cred to pull it off. However I do sometimes blend southern characters into my stories.

J: I also love Southern fiction and write a bit of it myself. Growing up in south Texas gives me born-cred, as you say, just a slightly different flavor of it.

J: Do you write to music/create play lists?

E: I prefer absolute quiet when I’m writing, other than the sounds of nature. I will admit to occasionally casting my characters in a film and choosing an imaginary soundtrack.

J: I’ve also found that I can’t write to music that has words. The words make me think of other stories and interfere, sending me off down the rabbit trail of something new.

 J: What do you nosh on (snacks/drinks) while writing?

E: I rarely eat when I’m in the writing groove. Sometimes I’ll get so deeply into the zone that I’ll come out the other end ravenous because I missed a couple of meals.

J: I wish that were true of me (I say while stuffing Reese’s Pieces in my mouth).

J: What are you currently reading?

E: I’m reading THE GIRLS by Emma Cline. The story is a sort of re-telling of the Manson murders. I chose it because my next book features a young boy raised in a spiritual commune who doesn’t know who his parents are. It seemed like a good comp title for my book due to the time period and cult-ish themes and I’m really enjoying it. I’d love it if Emma would blurb my next book!

J: I haven’t read that one but you made me go take a look. It sounds fascinating.

J: How do you prefer to interact with your fans/readers?

E: I’m on Twitter and Instagram but I much prefer Facebook because I like the slower conversations that are more about connection and less about the latest greatest thing or snarky retorts. But my favorite way to interact with readers is to Skype into book club discussions!

J: Facebook is also my preferred way to interact. Doing a Skype with a book club sounds like fun!

 J: What inspired THIS I KNOW?

E: We live in divisive times where people seem very attached to their opinions, including political and religious beliefs. In THIS I KNOW I’ve juxtaposed a dogmatic rural pastor against a daughter whose extraordinary abilities challenge his core belief system. Will love for his child overrule his seemingly-inflexible tenets? Are people capable of encompassing new ideas, especially as they pertain to one’s spiritual identity?

J: I truly felt for Grace having to hide this part of herself and am always a bit taken aback when I encounter people as inflexible as her father.

 J: What was the hardest part of writing THIS I KNOW? The best part?

E: Hands down, writing the sexual assault was the hardest. I am fortunate not to have experienced this in my lifetime, but people very close to me have. I cried through the whole scene and it shook me to my core. I had to let the book sit for a while before I could come back to it. The scene I most enjoyed writing is when Grace’s sisters convince her to dress up as a fortune teller and charge the neighborhood kids to get their questions answered. What child doesn’t love turning a refrigerator box into a store, a space-ship or a fortune-teller booth? This scene allowed me delve into our insecurities that begin at an early age. Do my parents love me? Will I find my soul mate? Will I overcome these awkward years to enjoy a successful life?

J: And you handled all of these scenes so well. Your ability to capture emotions is a gift.

 J: What are the most common misconceptions about THIS I KNOW?

E: 1. People assume that THIS I KNOW is an autobiography. Although steeped in my memorable upbringing as a preacher’s daughter, THIS I KNOW mostly comes from my overactive imagination. 2. Readers sometimes assume THIS I KNOW is a religious book or the opposite, an anti-religious book. It is neither. THIS I KNOW is about a young girl who hungers for approval, most especially from her father. It’s about loss, about sorrow, about forgiveness and the joy of finally embracing one’s uniqueness.

J: I can see how readers might make those assumptions given your upbringing and the fact that you’ve also written a memoir about your kidney donation experience.

 J: What is the most special thing a reader has said about THIS I KNOW?

E: My very first netgalley review was from a librarian. It made me cry. She wrote, “Once in a while you read a book that just takes your breath away with its beauty and truth. This I Know is such a book. This is one of the most beautiful coming of age stories I’ve ever read, and it will stay with me for a long, long time.”

J: That’s exactly how it made me feel.

 J: Favorite quote from THIS I KNOW?

E: The human struggle—especially for young girls—to fit in and to embrace one’s unique gifts is very real. Our identity as individuals is shaped by the support (or lack of support) from family and peers. In THIS I KNOW Reverend Carter emphatically refuses to accept his daughter’s clairvoyance and forbids Grace to explore her uncanny intuition. Her mother is emotionally absent due to debilitating depression. Grace’s community vacillates between fear and exploitation of Grace’s abilities. This leaves Grace to seek friendship and support from a homeless man, a bohemian family and, most especially, her deceased twin, with whom she carries on deep conversations throughout her life. Which brings me to my favorite quote: “It takes a lot of energy to try to be what you aren’t, but even more not to be what you are.” Grace Carter, age 13.

J: I remember reading that line and sitting back thinking how true and powerful it is.

J: What are you working on now?

E: My next book, Clover Blue (May, 2019 and available on pre-order now) is another coming-of-age story set under the redwoods of a northern California commune in the 1960’s/70’s. Like most spiritually-based collectives of the era, Saffron Freedom Community’s imagined utopia inevitably mirrors the dysfunctional society its members hoped to escape. Ultimately, CLOVER BLUE is a study in the differences between family and tribe and whether love is earned or deserved. Questions of interest to other authors.

J: I read the description of Clover Blue and have already put it on my TBR list. Check out the trailer for it here.

J: Do you believe in writer’s block?

E: I don’t believe in writer’s block so much as writer’s burnout. I think sometimes we try too hard to push the river and expect the words to just flow. My cure is to stay put and write crap until I hit the mother lode, or walk away and come back when I’m refreshed and rested. Eventually something worth keeping will land on the page.

J: That’s kind of how I look at it also. Sometimes walking away is the best option.

J: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad ones?

E: I’ve heard you should never read your reviews but I can’t help myself. It’s a tic. I love learning how my book(s) spoke to different readers in different ways. I look at critical reviews through an objective lens. Quite often it’s just a matter of my book just not being a good fit for a particular reader. Once in a while, someone will write a nasty review that reeks of meanness. I try to imagine what it must be like to be that person, holding all that ugliness inside, and then I don’t feel so bad.

J: That is an awesome technique. I sometimes do that with people acting like jerks on the road or driving too slow. I try to invent a story to explain why they might be behaving that way.

 J: Do you hide secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

E: I hid every one of my sibling’s names in THIS I KNOW. All but one of them (I’m looking at you, David) noticed!

J:How do you select names for your characters?

E: I love coming up with names! In THIS I KNOW Rev. Carter gives each of his children Bible names—Joy, Hope, Grace, and Chastity—but none of them fit. His wife names the last baby before he has a chance to screw it up again. In my next book, CLOVER BLUE, the members of the Saffron Freedom Community all change their names when they join. Goji is the leader, Wave is a former surfer, Coyote takes late night walks, Willow is a flexible yogi, Doobie is a pothead, etc. I had a lot of fun coming up with “hippie” names for my tribe.

J: Coming up with character names is fun. Mine often come to me already named, but in my current work in progress, The Things We Do Not Speak Of, the main character is a Somali refugee and her family. I searched for names that had particular meanings for each character to reflect how I thought of them.

J: You can learn more about Eldonna and her work at the following:

J: Thank you, Eldonna, for spending time with us.

Eldonna will be at a book signing at Barnes & Noble in San Luis Obispo on June 2, 2019 at 2 p.m., and at the Carlsbad, CA library on Sunday, June 9 at 2 p/m on a 4-author panel.

J: And last but not least, some glowing words about Eldonna and her work. 

“In a pitch-perfect voice, Edwards captures Grace’s struggles to understand the pain of those around her as she deals with her own, especially her desire to be loved unconditionally by her father. Grace displays a wellspring of compassion—for the homeless man who sometimes squats in her family’s barn, for families who have lost loved ones and especially for her mama, whom she desperately wants back from the grips of depression. Like Grace, Edwards is the daughter of a preacher, and this write-what-you-know aspect lends This I Know a depth of feeling and honesty. Edwards’ conversational style and the first-person diaristic tone create an enveloping warmth that draws the reader in.” —Bookpage

“If you’re looking for good, old-fashioned storytelling, one that will pull you in from the beginning and never let go, this is the book for you.” —Historical Novels Society

“In this outstanding debut, Eldonna Edwards has created an enchanting, lovable narrator by the name of Grace Carter, who shares all she sees about her world and beyond. Rendered in a voice at once singular and exquisite and with an old soul sense of wisdom, I was captivated by this story of a girl and her unique gift, her love of family, the pain of loss, the sting of indifference, and the simple joy of acceptance, but most of all by Grace, and her purity of heart.” —Donna Everhart, author of The Education of Dixie Dupree

“A heartfelt and beautifully crafted coming-of-age debut about a gifted, eleven-year-old girl attempting to find her place in a confusing world. This I Know shines, due in large part to narrator Grace, one of the most authentic and charming young characters I’ve come across in a long time. Don’t miss this one.” —Lesley Kagen, New York Times bestselling author of The Mutual Admiration Society

“Simply magical writing. Eldonna Edwards is a true storyteller. She tossed me straight into her book and there I stayed until the last word on the last page.” —Cathy Lamb, author of No Place I’d Rather Be

“Eldonna Edwards has crafted a compelling allegorical tale about the fear of otherness in this coming-of-age tale. Readers of all ages will find an unlikely hero in 11-year-old Grace Marie Carter—who was born with a type of clairvoyance she calls the “Knowing”—as she bravely forges her own path in a world that is constantly trying to silence her voice.” —Amy Impellizzeri, author of The Truth About Thea

“A remarkable, inspiring story about clairvoyance, faith, and opening your heart—and mind—to the truth. I will not soon forget Grace Carter, the young preacher’s daughter with a unique interpretation of the world. Her kindness, her resilience, and her gloriously quirky voice have me shouting to readers everywhere, ‘I love this book!’” —Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of The Perfect Son

Chat with Sarah Angleton

One of my favorite reads last year was Launching Sheep & Other Stories, which is a collection of humorous essays about history from the perspective of everyday life. It was written by Sarah Angleton, one of amazingly talented writers in the writers guild we both call home—Saturday Writers. To say I laughed my way through reading each of the stories wouldn’t do them justice. They are funny and thought provoking (in a tickle-my funny-bone kind of way) and I think I might have even learned a few historical facts. Should I ever be called up as a contestant on Jeopardy I might be able to hold my own.

Since Sarah’s debut novel released last week, I decided that now would be a good time to introduce her to my readers. Her new book, Gentleman of Misfortune, is historical fiction. I’m about a third of the way through it and have to keep making myself get up to take care of all those other things life demands. That means I’m loving it.

J: So Sarah, tell us a little about yourself.

S: I’m a writer, blogger, wife, mother, book nerd, and history enthusiast from St. Louis. I love rooting for the Cardinals but don’t care for the pizza.

J: Ha! I’m just the opposite—I love pizza, but don’t care much for baseball. Which isn’t a good thing when living in the home of the Cardinals.

J: I love books that bring me to tears. Is there a book that made you cry?

S: I recently read Like a River from its Course by Kelli Stuart, a World War II novel that focuses on the effects of German occupation in Ukraine. It’s a beautiful, gut-wrenching read. It’ll clear out your tear ducts for sure.

J: I’ve heard good things about that book, but haven’t read it yet.

J: What genre(s) do you write and why? Is there one you’d like to try?

S: I primarily write historical fiction because I really love the process of researching. I also sort of stumbled into writing humor as my blog developed. What started as a history blog morphed into part history, part humor, and part personal narrative. I also read broadly and have a soft spot for dystopian fiction. I have written the first in a dystopian trilogy that for the foreseeable future will likely only see the inside of a drawer in my writing office, but it captures my imagination, which for now is enough.

J: Ah ha … the ole book in the drawer. Well, I for one, hope it sees the light of day sometime.

J: Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

S: I tend to plot, with a loose, flexible outline that inevitably changes a lot as I work through the first several drafts. If I don’t have some idea of where I’m going, I find I can’t move forward enough to get anywhere.

J: I’m more of a pantser—I get an idea and jump, hoping there’s something to grab hold of.

J: Who are your favorite authors? Have they influenced your style?

S: This is always a tough question to answer because of course there are so many. But I love Anne Tyler for her wonderfully quirky, yet totally relatable characters. I love Graham Greene for his unapologetic use of allegory. No one puts together a sentence like John Updike or is as thorough in his research as James Michener. These are a few of the bigger names I admire. Right now I am fairly obsessed with the YA author Neal Shusterman, whose dystopian light horror is intriguing and chilling and brilliant, and I think the dark and luscious work of Dianne Stretfield is just amazing. I have never intentionally mimicked another author, but I do believe that everything I read influences how I write, and that the more I read, and the more widely I read, the better writer I become.

J: I totally agree with that—I also read widely and deeply in a variety of genres. Doing so improves my skills. Interesting you should mention Neal Shusterman. I had the delightful privilege of meeting him at a writing conference in 2017 where he was one of the keynote speakers. I purchased his novel, Challenger Deep, which is one of the best depictions of mental illness I’ve ever read. He wrote it after his own son was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was only 16. The artwork in the book is his son’s.

J: How much of yourself do you put into your books?

S: My books certainly reflect my interests and my general personality and sense of humor. I think if they didn’t, I’d have a hard time communicating with my readers. But I have never knowingly based a character on myself or anyone I know, or based a plot upon any part of my real life.

J: I actually have in a couple of instances. In my debut novel, there’s a dog named Cooper, who I developed after a friend’s dog’s story. And there’s also an Italian gentleman who is loosely based on a friend. But he knew I was including him and was cool with it.

J: Do you have a favorite Indie author?

 S: I admire the work of J.J. Zerr. His writing has a snappy sort of rhythm that’s really fun to read and he spins fascinating tales.

J: I’ll have to check him out.

So, tell the readers about your latest, Gentleman of Misfortune.

S: Gentleman of Misfortune is the story of nineteenth century gentleman swindler Lyman Moreau, who finds his next big scheme and loses his heart among a shipment of mummies bound for the most successful prophet in US history. I was delighted when Jeff Guinn agreed to review it.

“Quality fiction and real history make a great match, and Sarah Angleton’s Gentleman of Misfortune offers the best of both. This is an engaging story with surprises on every page”.  — Jeff Guinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Gunfight and Manson.

It came out October 2018 and is available for purchase at your local bookstore or online at:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and KOBO

J: What inspired Gentleman of Misfortune?

S: It’s historical fiction, so it follows a real story in which eleven mummies were shipped from the Valley of the Kings to New York. The shipment was claimed by a man who identified himself as the nephew and heir of the Egyptologist who discovered the mummies and died shortly after. The supposed nephew, Michael Chandler, displayed the mummies across several states, and eventually wound up in Ohio with four of them and a few pieces of papyrus covered in hieroglyphs. This remaining collection, he sold to Joseph Smith, founder and prophet of the Mormon Church.

The problem is that no one has been able to find a connection between Chandler and the Egyptologist or explain how he came to possess the mummies. When I came across this story, I had already written a related novel and in it, I had a minor character named Lyman Moreau, who was screaming that he had a larger story to tell. As I thought about it, it made a lot of sense to let him step in and assume Chandler’s identity and carry a novel as the leading man he seemed born to be. The other novel was unfortunately caught up in a conundrum with a small publishing house and so will be arriving on scene second instead of first, which I imagine makes Lyman pretty happy.

J: I’m sorry to hear about the snafu with the small publisher, but delighted that Gentleman of Misfortune has hit the shelves. I’d be reading it right now except that I need to get this done.  J

J: What is your favorite quote from Gentleman of Misfortune?

“Elegant crime takes commitment and capital.”

J: What  are you working on now?

S: I am currently knee deep in research for a historical novel that will explore the stories of missionaries to Liberia in the 1830s and 40s.

J: I love how you find such interesting topics to write about.

J: Do you hide secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

S: I don’t know that I hide secrets, but because I am writing historical fiction, I try very hard to do all my homework and place the little tidbits that will allow someone who really knows the specifics of the era or the historical details I’m using to understand and appreciate the work that has gone into creating the appropriate world for the story. Of course there’s always going to be that expert who catches the one mistake you make, but a little extra effort goes a long way to toward balancing out the inevitable errors.

J: Sarah, thank you for spending some time with my readers today. I believe you have a special giveaway to announce? 

Yes, I do. For those who might find my work interesting, if you’ll follow me on Goodreads I’ll enter you to win an ebook copy of Gentleman of Misfortune. Check out the book trailer at:

Where can readers follow you and your work?

My website at:









Chat with Katie O’Rourke

A few months ago, I was delighted to receive an invite from Katie O’Rourke to try out the audio book version of her novel, Finding Charlie. I took her up on it and listened to my very first audio book. I am now OMG hooked on audio books and listen to them all the time.

But enough about me. I’d like to introduce you to Katie. Katie writes contemporary women’s fiction, so I figured I’d love her from word one, and I was right. I’m sure you’ll love her work as much as I do.

First off, Katie has extended an offer to my readers. The details were in my August 2018 newsletter, so if you missed it, drop me a line at (put Katie in the subject line) and I’ll get you hooked up if it’s still available.

Katie, what is something readers might want to know about you.

I’m a hybrid author. My debut novel, Monsoon Season, was traditionally published along with A Long Thaw, which I later rereleased on my own. Finding Charlie, was chosen for publication by KindleScout in 2015. My fourth book, Blood & Water, was released last year. I write family sagas with overlapping characters, so they’re all connected.

Hmm… now I’m wondering if this one is about blood being thicker than water. I can’t wait to read it — it’s coming up on my TBR list soon.

Name a book that made you cry.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I haven’t read that yet, but want to.

How long have you been writing seriously?

My first book was published in 2012. Since then, I’ve written with a more serious eye toward publication.

What are you currently reading?

The Baggage Carousel by David Olner

Another  one I haven’t read yet. I just checked it out—looks like a debut novel that I might have to take a peek at.

What was the hardest part of writing Blood & Water?

I started Blood & Water in 2016, but it’s set in 2017. Once Trump won the election, I didn’t know how to write a story set in America, especially in a border state, with what felt like such a volatile, precarious future.

I bet that would be difficult.


Tell us about your main characters? Were they inspired by real-life?

Something I only realized when I’d finished is that Blood & Water is very much a love letter to the deepest friendships of my life. The character of Ally serves as a composite of those real people.

Don’t you just love it when your writing surprises you like that? I know I do and my characters are always throwing new twists my way.

What is the most special thing a reader has said about Blood & Water?

I like when I’ve created characters who connect to the reader. One of my recent reviews for Blood & Water said she was sad to see them go. That’s what I like to hear.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad ones?

I read all my reviews. I don’t understand writers who don’t. Isn’t the point of writing a book to connect with readers and hear their response? I think negative feedback can be helpful and I don’t expect every reader to love my work so it never really hurts my feelings.

I’m kind of like that so far in my writing journey. Each review makes me think about how I can improve in my future writing. And I feel like if someone is going to take the time to leave a review, I should acknowledge that by reading it.

Do you hide secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yep. Sometimes it’s a nerdy writing reference that only other writers will get. Most often, it’s something I’ve worked hard to make subtle and then get frustrated when nobody notices. In my last book, I repeated certain lines in different character’s POVs. I worried readers might think it was accidental, but—so far—no one has noticed.

Ha! Now I’m going to be watching for it.

Katie, thank you for taking a little time to chat with me. 

You can learn more about Katie and her work at the following:


Interview with Nicole Evelina

I’m really excited to interview Nicole Evelina, my first interview of an author I actually know in person. I first met Nicole when she gave a talk to the writers’ guild I belong to, Saturday Writers, in St. Peters, MO. I was so impressed, I immediately purchased her romantic comedy, Been Searching For You. I absolutely loved it and have since read Daughter of Destiny. Being a long-time fan of Marian Zimmer Bradley, I felt right at home with this Guinevere tale and highly recommend it. I proudly present this interview so more people can become acquainted with her books. She is definitely a rising star author to be watched.

Nicole — Tell us about yourself

I’m an award-winning author who writes historical fiction, romantic comedy, women’s fiction and non-fiction. My four books have won nearly 20 awards, including two Book of the Year designations.

Yes, I’ve been watching your awards roll in. It’s mind blowing, but all well deserved. 

What do you do when you’re not writing?

By day I work in marketing for a health care company. I have two superpowers: a really sensitive nose I call the Super Sniffer and, according to my boss, I work very quickly and can accomplish twice that of the normal person. If I wasn’t a writer, I would be a historian or a makeup artist. Oh, and I am a huge cat person. I only have two, but they are my children.

What would you like to tell readers about your books?

My first two books, Daughter of Destiny and Camelot’s Queen, are historical fantasy that tell Guinevere’s story from her POV. Daughter of Destiny covers her early life before she meets and marries King Arthur, when she was a priestess of Avalon who was in love with someone else and had no dreams of being queen. Camelot’s Queen covers Guinevere’s time on the throne, including her infamous affair and tumultuous relationship with Morgan, neither of which unfolds like you might expect. My third book, Been Searching for You, is a contemporary romantic comedy set in Chicago that chronicles a modern woman’s search for her soul mate after age 30. My most recent novel, Madame Presidentess, is biographical historical fiction about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president in the US in 1872. She was born dirt poor, the daughter of a con-man and religious zealot, and yet managed to also become the first woman to own a stock brokerage on Wall Street, the first to speak before the House Judiciary Committee of Congress, and one of the first to run a weekly newspaper. Despite all of this, she’s not in the history books.

If you could collaborate with any author (living or dead) who would it be and why?

It’s tempting to say Shakespeare or Marlowe, but if I was going to work with an author from the past, I think it would be Daniel deFoe. I’m a huge Moll Flanders fan. I would want to learn how he came up with such an outrageous storyline and yet managed to make it believable. I could teach him a thing or two about spacing in modern novels (the original Moll Flanders has no chapter breaks and very little distinction between narrative and dialogue).

If you travel, what was your best (or worst) experience?

You know, I think my best and worst came on the same trip. Last year I went to Oxford, England, for the Historical Novel Society Conference. The journey there was the trip from hell. My flight from St. Louis to Chicago was delayed three times and then ended up being pushed to the next day, which messed up my schedule and resulted in me paying for a night’s hotel that I didn’t use. Then they lost my luggage. Everyone I talked to told me something different regarding where it was and when I would get it. It ended up taking six days (I was only there for eight) so I had to buy everything new from toiletries to clothes and shoes. It took six months after I got home to get the airline to reimburse me. Needless to say, I will not be flying them again.

But once I got settled in England, aside from falling out of the bathtub at my first hotel (did I mention I am VERY clumsy?), everything was great. I fell in love with Oxford (which is tied with Glastonbury as my favorite English city) and had fun creating my own Discovery of Witches tour based on places mentioned in the book. I got to stay in St. Anne’s College during the conference (a dream come true). I learned so much and met so many wonderful people. To top it off, I met up with some writer friends I hadn’t seen in like a year. Despite the trouble I had getting there, the trip was wonderful.

It’s great you were able to make what could have been a bad situation into something that worked for you.

In your wildest dreams, one or more of your books is made into a movie. Who plays the lead roles? Why?

Oh, I cast my books while I write them because it makes it easier for me to write realistic dialogue, body language and facial expressions, so I can answer this one easily. I have Pinterest boards that have my actors on them. I’ll include the links.

How fun!

The why is pretty much the same for all: they are actors I know have the chops to play the roles and they look like the characters. Sometimes they are a little too old for the characters, but I don’t really care. This is my fantasy world, dammit!

Daughter of Destiny and Camelot’s Queen

Guinevere: Jessica Brown Findley

King Arthur: Christian Kane

Aggrivane: Orlando Bloom

Isolde: Rachelle Lefevre

Elaine: Emilie DeRavin

Been Searching for You

Annabeth: Ashley Clements (she’s actually my audio book narrator for this book)

Alex: Bradley Cooper

Miles: Charles Michael Davis

Nick: Sebastian Stan

Mia: Kathleen Robertson

Madame Presidentess —

Victoria: Sara Joy Brown

Canning: Ed Westwick

James: Ed Norton

Tennie: Zoe Boyle

Theodore Tilton: Michael Therriault

What’s Next — What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on my first non-fiction book, The Once and Future Queen, which traces the evolution of the character of Guinevere in Arthurian legend from her Celtic roots to the present day. I’ve also got an untitled novella in the works that takes place about halfway through Been Searching for You. I want to be working on Mistress of Legend, the final book my Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, but my characters aren’t talking right now.

I hear you on that one… they do go silent from time to time.

Below are blurbs from each of Nicole’s books:

Daughter of Destiny — You may think you know the story of Guinevere, but you’ve never heard it like this: in her own words. Listen and you will hear the true story of Camelot and its queen.

Before queenship and Camelot, Guinevere was a priestess of Avalon. She loved another before Arthur, a warrior who would one day betray her.

In the war-torn world of late fifth century Britain, young Guinevere faces a choice: stay with her family to defend her home at Northgallis from the Irish, or go to Avalon to seek help for the horrific visions that haunt her. The Sight calls her to Avalon, where she meets Morgan, a woman of questionable parentage who is destined to become her rival. As Guinevere matures to womanhood, she gains the powers of a priestess, and falls in love with a man who will be both her deepest love and her greatest mistake.

Just when Guinevere is able to envision a future in Avalon, tragedy forces her back home, into a world she barely recognizes, one in which her pagan faith, outspokenness, and proficiency in the magical and military arts are liabilities. When a chance reunion with her lover leads to disaster, she is cast out of Northgallis and into an uncertain future. As a new High King comes to power, Guinevere must navigate a world of political intrigue where unmarried women are valuable commodities and seemingly innocent actions can have life-altering consequences.

Fans of Arthurian legend and The Mists of Avalon will love Daughter of Destiny, the first book in a historical fantasy trilogy that gives Guinevere back her voice and traces her life from an uncertain eleven year old girl to a wise queen in her fifth decade of life.

Camelot’s Queen — This highly anticipated sequel to Daughter of Destiny proves there is much more to Guinevere’s story than her marriage and an affair. See the legend you think you know through her eyes and live the adventure of Camelot’s golden days yourself – but be prepared to suffer its downfall as well.

History remembers Guinevere’s sin, but it was Arthur who transgressed first.

Forced into a marriage she neither anticipated nor desired, Guinevere finds herself High Queen, ruling and fighting alongside Arthur as they try to subdue the Saxons, Irish and Picts who threaten Britain from every direction. Though her heart still longs for her lost love, Guinevere slowly grows to care for her husband as they join together to defeat their enemies.

Meanwhile, within the walls of Camelot their closest allies plot against them. One schemes to make Guinevere his own, another seeks revenge for past transgressions, while a third fixes her eyes on the throne. When the unthinkable happens and Guinevere is feared dead, Arthur installs a new woman in her place, one who will poison his affections toward her, threatening Guinevere’s fragile sanity and eventually driving her into the arms of her champion.

Amid this tension a new challenge arises for the king and queen of Camelot: finding the Holy Grail, a sacred relic that promises lasting unity. But peace, as they will soon learn, can be just as dangerous as war. As the court begins to turn on itself, it becomes clear that the quest that was to be Arthur’s lasting legacy may end in the burning fires of condemnation.

Been Searching For You— Searching for Mr. Right is harder than she thought…

A hopeless romantic, Annabeth Coe knows that her soul mate is out there – somewhere. After all, she’s been writing him heartfelt love letters since she was teenager. Her plan is simple: write her future husband letters and gift them to him on their wedding night to prove how long she’s loved him.

Now, as an adult, Annabeth worries that he may never come along. But when she meets handsome literature professor Alex Grantham, she believes her quest for true love may finally be over. Unfortunately, her timing couldn’t be worse. Frustrated with the love gods, Annabeth vows to take her fate into her own hands. But when the scars and mistrust from her past relationships threaten to destroy a budding relationship, she must face the harsh truth. With an ex-boyfriend who won’t let go and a meddlesome best friend, Annabeth just might be searching for love for the rest of her life – unless the man she’s destined for is just one love letter away.

Madame Presidentess — The story of one woman who was ahead of her time – a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century – but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.

Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books.

Rising from the shame of an abusive childhood, Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, vows to follow her destiny, one the spirits say will lead her out of poverty to “become ruler of her people.”

But the road to glory is far from easy. A nightmarish marriage teaches Victoria that women are stronger and deserve far more credit than society gives. Eschewing the conventions of her day, she strikes out on her own to improve herself and the lot of American women.

Over the next several years, she sets into motion plans that shatter the old boys club of Wall Street and defile even the sanctity of the halls of Congress. But it’s not just her ambition that threatens men of wealth and privilege; when she announces her candidacy for President in the 1872 election, they realize she may well usurp the power they’ve so long fought to protect.

Those who support her laud “Notorious Victoria” as a gifted spiritualist medium and healer, a talented financial mind, a fresh voice in the suffrage movement, and the radical idealist needed to move the nation forward. But those who dislike her see a dangerous force who is too willing to speak out when women are expected to be quiet. Ultimately, “Mrs. Satan’s” radical views on women’s rights, equality of the sexes, free love and the role of politics in private affairs collide with her tumultuous personal life to endanger all she has built and change how she is viewed by future generations.

This is the story of one woman who was ahead of her time – a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century – but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.

Where can readers find more about you or your books?

I have an author website at


Readers can follow me on Facebook




Audible – Daughter of Destiny

iTunes – Daughter of Destiny

Indie Bound

Barnes & Noble

Nicole, thank you for your time and for sharing with us. I look forward to reading Camelot’s Queen and the rest of your future books.

Interview with Joseph Y. Roberts

Today, I’m interviewing Joseph Y. Roberts. Joseph has written a series of short stories and novellas that revolve around a single, central character—Jacob Vanderhoek. I find them fascinating because they take place in South Africa in the 1970’s, during a time of great racial turbulence. Jacob is a new Selous Scout—a shadowy Special Ops regiment of the Rhodesian military. The setting and character arc keeps me reading as Jacob grows from a young, and decidedly racist recruit, to a changed man tortured by his life as a Scout.

The first story in that series is Bright Light, Dark Heart.

Joseph—tell us about yourself.

I was born in the late fifties in San Pedro, the harbor suburb of Los Angeles. I grew up there in the sixties when it had a small town feel despite being a part of the L.A. metropolis. Because of that, I like to call myself a “small town boy from a big city.”

I spent many years working as a newspaper graphic artist building display ads. When you work at a newspaper, you learn the ins and outs of human behavior, especially those of your coworkers. My hobby of tabletop role-playing games honed my understanding and drafting of character backstory and portrayal. (Yes, I am a reformed gaming geek. I know what a D20 is.) Through those years, I also wrote and shared opinion essays on LiveJournal. These experiences and interests paved the way to becoming a writer, something I suspect may be common among writers.

About two years ago, I relocated to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to family. I’ve always loved forested land and rain, so I believe I was born for this region. By moving here, I feel I fixed some kind of cosmic mistake. In short, I have arrived where I need to be… for now.

I love that area, but I’d be a statistic—not enough sun for me. But it sure is beautiful.


How long have you been writing seriously?

Going on four years. When I became permanently disabled and was forced into early retirement I no longer had anything constructive to do. To pass the time, I found myself daydreaming to songs on the radio. One song in particular, Africa by Toto, became a recurring daydream that grew in detail every time I indulged in it. I came to love visiting it and became attached to its central character, an adventurer from South Africa. So obsessed, I decided to write the daydream down. Thus, I wrote my first Jacob story, the novella “Zimbabwe.” More ideas followed based on Jacob and I was hooked. I’d always wanted to be a writer. With this turn of events, I decided to make a go of it.


What do you like to do for fun?

Well, on Sunday nights I like to listen to “Floydian Slip” on the radio while indulging in a craft beer or a cider. (Highlight of my week.) Overall, cruise Pinterest, listen to music on Pandora, and toy around with my role-paying games (even though I don’t have any players at the present). Once the weather warms up a tad more, I’ll start taking walks again.


Do you write to music/create play lists?

Since my current writing career was born from daydreaming to music, absolutely yes! I’ll either pick a playlist that reflects the mood or genre of the story I’m working on, or I will select a theme song for the story. For example, for the novella “Mozambique,” it’s “Brothers In Arms” by Dire Straits. For the novelette “Scars,” it’s “Get Together” by The Youngbloods. I often listen to Pink Floyd songs to get deeply in touch with my emotions for writing purposes.

I’ve found I can’t write with music on if it has words. I tend to sing along.


Who are your favorite authors? Have they influenced your style?

Mostly the Sci-Fi writers I enjoyed reading back in the Seventies: Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Frank Herbert, and George R.R. Martin. Later, I became a fan of Robert E. Howard, Richard Brautigan, and Clive Barker. Now, not all have influenced my style, but they do inspire me in other ways. They all taught me things.

Misters Bradbury and Martin taught me to imbue my tales with hearts and souls. Mr. Martin also taught me that a powerful story does not require a happy ending. Niven and Clarke inspired me to write SF and that, no matter how advanced technology becomes, humans will still have flaws. Mr. Howard taught me the joys of a rollicking adventure and that a writer need not be chained to one genre. Mr. Brautigan taught me not to take this all too seriously and that it’s okay to cut loose once in a while and be the madcap.

I haven’t yet expressed all these influences, but they are there, lying in wait in my head.


What inspired “Dragonfly?”

Like some of my other Jacob stories, it was born of my interest to follow up on characters that appeared in earlier stories. In this case, to explore what became of the helicopter pilot in “Scars.” It was also my way of addressing the issue of homeless veterans and the struggle with drug addiction. The latter topic gained a personal dimension when a family member passed away, possibly due to an overdose, during the writing. The story has a greater meaning for me than it did when I first conceived it.

Really good stories have a way of doing that. I appreciate you tackling that topic as I also lost a loved one to addiction last year.


Tell us about your two main characters? Were they inspired by real-life?

That’s easy, Dragonfly has only two main characters. The protagonist, Jacob Vanderhoek, is my prime recurring main character, the star of the series. He’s my flawed hero: noble in intent, but faulty in execution. A man raised in a hyper-masculine environment, who proves to be too empathetic to remain that way. As for inspiration from real life, I gave him some of my own traits, but far from all. He’s not my alter ego, by a long shot.

Adrian “Dragonfly” Thackerey, the title character, isn’t based on any one real person. But his statements about drug addiction, and about heroin in specific, are drawn from things friends who were addicts have said to me.

Their banter was inspired by similar exchanges between myself and my male friends.


What is the most special thing a reader has said about Dragonfly?

Pamela Murray said: “Very well constructed, the characters jump off the page, they are so real. I hope to have a chance later today to finish it, SO intriguing!” I suspect I can count her as a fan, eh?


What are you working on now?

My historic novel about the Second Boer War. It’s been in progress for the last three years, and I’ve entered the final stages for release (editing to be specific). When it is, it will be my first novel.


Dragonfly Book Blurb:

Johannesburg 1999. Not all battles are fought in the field between armies arrayed side to side. Some are fought inside, where no one can see, a war of the soul. Every conflict has a victor, but it must also have its vanquished.

Jacob must help an old friend from long ago find his way. Does he have the resources to succeed? Can he defeat an enemy he neither sees nor understands?

Where can readers find out more?

Facebook author page

Amazon author page

Smashwords author page

Joseph, thank you for your time and for sharing with us. I look forward to your future efforts.

Interview with Lisa Hofmann

Today, I’m interviewing Lisa Hofmann, who lives and writes in Germany. I got the surprise of my life this past fall when I read the first two books in her Medieval Fantasy Dies Irae series – Stealing the Light (which won an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Writer’s Digest Self-Published E-Book Awards) and Into the Dark. Surprised because I haven’t read much in this genre and I was truly blown away at Lisa’s story-telling abilities. I’m normally a slow reader and I flew right through both. I can’t wait for book three and after our interview, I’m anxiously looking forward to Trading Darkness.

Lisa, Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m 41 years old and a summer person, who loves traveling, art, music, and cats. I’m an independent writer, which means that I don’t sell my work to a publishing house, but instead market directly to my readers.

I don’t do this because my manuscripts were ever rejected by a publisher. I just never submitted anything to an agent or publisher simply because I don’t believe this would work for me at this point in my life. I’m basically a very stubborn person, and I feel a strong need to retain my independence in my creative expression. Holding all rights to my work and having full control of what I do with it is very important to me, and I love that what was unthinkable twenty years ago is actually possible nowadays with e-books and print-on-demand.

Going it alone is hard work, but luckily, I have a wonderful, supportive family who can live with the fact that I chose to handle it this way. They are the kind of people who will tiptoe around me while I’m editing, and sometimes even throw food at me when I’m sitting at my desk in front of my laptop drafting new material. I sit there a lot because I’ve always been a workaholic, and I treat both of my professions with a lot of dedication.

As an Indie Author myself, I completely understand. Thank you for sharing that with our readers.


You said both professions? So you don’t write full-time? What kind of job do you have, and does it play any role in your stories?

In all honesty, I wish I could write full-time, but I’m afraid I have to work long hours in my day job to ensure my cat can continue to lead her decadent life of luxury…

No, seriously, most independent writers can’t live on what they earn from their books. Many, many authors who write for publishing houses can’t, either, for that matter. But, since I’m my own publisher, I also have costs to cover that non-Indies don’t have, such as editing, cover art, and formatting, and unless I sell a certain number of books, I have to live with the fact that those costs may exceed the earnings from the works I produce. Until I can manage to achieve a steady income from my books, I’ll just have to work in two jobs, really. That can be tough, sometimes, but did I mention I’m a stubborn person…?

Whether or not my day job has ever played a role in my stories, I can’t really say. I don’t think it has, at least not directly. But I work in a social profession, so I’m always around people during the day, and I believe that has some influence on how I look at things and the way I write, as opposed to if I lived in seclusion or worked in an office job as an accountant or whatever with little or no customer contact. I actually worked in an office job in my early twenties for a time, and soon realized that’s not for me. I was bored to death.

Life is about achieving a balance, and although I often find myself having to meticulously organize my days around my family and those two jobs, I also think it makes me go about my writing extremely consciously. I use the time I spend on it well, I think, and I can’t say I’ve ever sat in front a blank screen for hours, wondering what to write – I sit there for just under a minute, wondering what to write first before I start typing like the devil was at my heels.

Why do you write, and how long have you been writing seriously?

I’ve been writing seriously for about three years now. I always dreamed about writing, and I was that kid in school who was always asked to read her essays aloud, but it wasn’t until a friend started encouraging me a few years ago that I considered actually publishing something of mine. It started out as a hobby to help me to cope a little better with the stress of my day job, but I soon found myself communicating with other writers. Somehow, one thing just led to another, and here I am.

I published my first two novels and several short stories in 2016, and my new book is coming out this summer.

Who are your favorite authors? Have they influenced your style?

I read a lot of different things. What and how I read has changed over the years since audio books have become more affordable, e-books are easy to take along anywhere on my phone, and works by Indie authors have become readily available. But I still try not to miss anything new by Dean Koontz, Stephen King… and… here goes: Cornelia Funke. A children’s book author, I hear you say in bewilderment. How does that fit in? Well, it does. She has evolved in the most interesting way as a writer, and I love her most recent YA series. The writing as such is superb, and the story is rich and intriguing.

I’m sure most authors are shaped in some way by the words they read. It would be strange if it were otherwise. However, I think it’s always wise to read a LOT to make sure you’re not influenced too much by the voice of any other individual author. You have to make sure you don’t surrender your own voice to someone else’s style. As a new author, it’s not just important to find your own voice – you have to be able to keep it, and develop it, and listen back to it so you never forget to take what you’re doing to the next level and keep evolving positively.


What are you currently reading?

I have this habit of reading three or four books in parallel. Right now, I’m reading an as yet unpublished work by an Indie writer friend. I’ve got Amanojaku by Damien Lutz on my phone’s Kindle. I’m also revisiting an older book I read years ago, as an audio book version this time, since I spend so many hours a week in my car: Lightening by Dean Koontz.


About your latest work that’s coming in summer, Trading Darkness: What inspired it?

A true story did. Some of the characters in Trading Darkness are loosely based on people who lived during the final wave of the local Witch Trials in the 17th century. While researching a paper for a college class I took twenty years ago, I came across an event that was never explained, and that was when the initial idea to this book started taking shape in my head. The story I spun around this event is purely fictional, of course, but it’s been stewing in me this long, which was why I finally decided to give it priority over the series I’m also working on at the moment. I’ve always been fascinated by local history, myths and legends. I think this is generally what influences and inspires my writing most.


Tell us about the characters who were inspired by real-life.

That would be Agnes Smith, for one, a secondary character inspired by the real-life Agnes Schmidt, who lived near Wildenburg around the year 1650. She was a mother of six who was “tried”, which really means she was tortured, and sentenced to death for being a witch. On the eve of her execution, she was imprisoned in a barn near Friesenhagen, which is the village I modeled Oakwood on. The “witch tower” at Wildenburg Castle was full, so there wasn’t any room for her there. A guard was posted outside that barn to make sure she couldn’t escape. She’d been tortured, so no one really would have assumed she’d actually be in any state to flee. But despite the locked door, and despite the guard, she did. I found that remarkable. She must have been a very strong woman. No one could explain how it happened, and that was what got me thinking. Maybe the guard took pity, or there was another way out of the barn, but again: she’d been tortured, willfully broken, though through it all, she never confessed, so… when they found her a few days later, she was with one of her children. She was asked why she’d fled. Silly question, really, but they did ask, and her response was noted for the record. She said she hadn’t intended to escape her sentence, but that she’d merely wanted to see her children one last time to say goodbye.

Another character who is loosely based on a real person is Hermann Heistermann. He was the bailiff at that time, an exceptionally greedy and cruel man who took great pleasure in having people tortured. He was a real villain, and that’s how I depicted him in the book as well, though something good came from his existence in my story. I won’t say what.


Can you tell us anything about the fictional characters without giving too much away?

Yes, of course! There’s a really dark demon with a deep longing for vengeance. There’s a character I modeled on Ricdin-Ricdon, better known as Rumpelstiltskin, but he doesn’t spin straw into gold. And, we have a heroine, who falls in love with a knight in shining armor. I loved writing all of them. Finishing the final chapter was awful, because I knew I’d miss them.


What are you working on right now?

I’m working on the third book of my current series. It’s titled Fair of Souls, and I’m having a lot of fun getting back into that. Lorcan will be traveling to many interesting places, trying to find his son, and later, he will be faced with having to find a way to keep The Fair safe from the dangers that have arisen with Catherine’s ascent to power. We’ll be seeing a very angry, power-hungry Catherine establishing her rule in Trondenburgh and beyond, while Dean is in deep trouble. I’m very excited about writing this.


Where can readers find out more?

My Amazon page

Readers can follow me on Facebook

My Author website

And I’m on Goodreads

Lisa, thank you for your time and for sharing with us. I’m looking forward to both Trading Darkness and Fair of Souls 

Interview with Damien Lutz

Today, I’m interviewing Damien Lutz, who lives and writes in Australia. I must admit that I don’t read much sci-fi, but I met Damien in a writer’s workshop so I read Amanojaku and became an instant fan of his writing. His style so easily blends the technical aspects of sci-fi with the human elements that make a story worth reading. He writes about the human condition and wraps it inside a futuristic world. Bravo!


Damien – tell us about yourself.

I’m a writer and web designer living in Sydney. When I’m not working at my full-time job or writing in my spare time, I like to swim, or do some digital illustration. I couldn’t live without my laptop. If the power ever goes out for too long, there’ll be no more Mr. Nice Guy.

I hear you on the laptop thing, but I’m going to have to try this summer when I spend two weeks in Africa.

What would you like readers to know about your book, Amanojaku? And what the heck does that mean anyway?

Amanojaku (天邪鬼), n : a demon-like creature in Japanese folklore, able to provoke a person into perpetrating evil deeds.

Andre Cross keeps his volatile temper on a sturdy leash—an implant auto-medicating him to subdue his violent impulses.

Dreaming of leaving his dark past behind, he slaves away on Brulle’s perilous vertical farms, and peddles the drug Neura, to fund his escape to a distant ocean city called Anchora.

But when he meets the beautiful, self-aware android Mo Da, he discovers the implant not only sedates his aggression, it also subdues his ability to love. Andre’s desires unravel his carefully controlled plans, delivering him to a place where even his implant may not contain his rising emotions, or the madness of Amanojaku determined to consume him.

I know you don’t yet write full-time… what kind of job do you have and does it play any role in your stories?

I’m a User Experience Designer for digital products (apps, websites, etc.), so I research how humans interact with technology, and design apps and websites based on those findings. The work gives me insight into the relationship between humans and technology, and the UX processes have similarities and parallels with the writing and storytelling processes. So, my job both inspires and financially supports my writing. But it also steals my writing time.

The way you write it wouldn’t surprise me if you suddenly become famous.

How long have you been writing seriously?

I started writing seriously at the beginning of 2014. I had an epiphany, that I was single, childless and had plenty of spare time, something many people would love to have, and I wasn’t utilizing that. I figured it was time to make the most of that luxury of spare time, to pursue a dream. The fear of failure makes us put a lot of expectation on ourselves, so much that we don’t even try to chase a dream. I told myself I was testing the dream of writing, and if I didn’t like it or do well, it was okay to give it up. At least then I had tried and knew it wasn’t for me, and I’d be free to move onto something else. But I loved it, and I have many stories inside I’d love to articulate and share.

That was right about the time we met. How fortuitous for me, and of course for your readers.  🙂

Who are your favorite authors? Have they influenced your style?

I read Stephen King constantly, as his style and creativity inspire me. I take notes while I read his books—on structure, technique and style. His writing breaks rules, but his style feels like someone very real is telling you the story, which is what I’m hoping to develop in my own style. Also, I love Tom Robbins. His stories are crazy, funny, poignant romps through metaphorical stories that turn preconceived notions, about all things, inside out. He’s changed the way I view life. I’m hoping develop a style that is a Robbins/ King hybrid.

Good to see you shooting for the top, and you’ve sure got the writing chops to succeed.

In your wildest dreams, Amanojaku is made into a movie. Who plays the lead roles? Why?

Yes, that is my wildest dream! I don’t have anyone in particular in mind, but Andre, the main character, is non-Caucasian, and the cast has a mix of ethnicities, religions, sexualities, etc. to reflect diversity, so I’d like to see that kept true.

What is the most special thing a reader has said about your writing?

There are two most special comments. The first is from a San Francisco Book Review, which likened Amanojaku to Blade Runner, such a compliment, especially considering that BR is a film. The other is from a reader of Android’s Orchid (the short story that Amanojaku was born out of), which said “The story of the android Ki Po is beautiful and soulful.” The fact that the spirit of the story shone through the sci-fi made me very happy, as it’s a goal of mine to give my stories insight into the human condition as much as how technology might affect us.

 What can readers look forward to next from you?

I’m working on the four sequels to Amanojaku, which is a big job and will take a while. While I’m ticking those over, I’m also writing shorts stories for an anthology, one of which, The Motherhood Effect, will be printed and illustrated in the April 2017 issue of Popshots Magazine

I’m hoping to publish my next stand-alone book, Dismantling Henry, later this year, which follows the attempts of an unreliable, out-of-work actor trying to reclaim his career, and fighting the effects of signing over the rights to his digital image.

I can’t wait to read the next one.

 Where can readers find out more?

Check out artwork, explore Brulle and more:

Buy Amanojaku on Amazon

Damien, thank you for your time and for sharing with us. Good luck on your next book.