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August 2023 interview

Interview with Kayla Cunningham, teacher and authore of contemporary romance novels.

Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.

I have two education degrees and teach history to high school students and adult ESL classes. On top of that, I volunteer as a Hostage Crisis Negotiator. Right now, I’m working on my Ph.D. in Teaching English as a Second Language. My husband and I also enjoy taking flying lessons together, which adds some excitement to our lives.

One thing I absolutely love is traveling and meeting people from different cultures around the world. I’ve hosted six boys from China and have visited Asia multiple times. It’s always an incredible experience to explore new landscapes and learn about vibrant traditions.

I was born in San Luis Obispo and grew up near Santa Cruz, California. Nature and the environment hold a special place in my heart because of my coastal upbringing. I’m also passionate about addressing issues of racism, including the rise in Asian hate crimes during the pandemic.

In addition to teaching, I’m a writer. I recently published my first contemporary romance novel, “Fated to Love You.” I just finished the second book in the “Chasing the Comet” series, and I’m currently working on a Young Adult fantasy trilogy called “Storm Breaker.”

At its core, the Chasing the Comet series is a three-part story about finding true love in the face of adversity and racism. It explores themes of grief, loss, hope, and healing, and it is my deepest desire that readers will be transported by the characters’ journey and inspired to embrace diversity and love in their own lives.

The intricate plot and the beautifully developed characters will keep you invested and engrossed from start to finish. I can’t wait for readers to dive into this immersive continuation of the story that will take them on an emotional journey through love, loss, and perseverance. It’s an exciting and engaging read that fans of the first book won’t want to miss. Trust me, you won’t be able to put it down once you start reading!

You can find more about me and my work on my website: I’d love to connect with fellow readers, writers, and anyone who shares my passions.


What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

Fated to Love You and the Chasing the Comet series was written in response to the rise in Asian racism during the pandemic years. I write for change, because my pen is the most powerful tool God has given me, and it is not the time to be silent. Instead, it is time to #writeforchange. There is a great quote in the movie 42, about Jackie Robinson. The quote was, “Maybe tomorrow we’ll all wear 42, that way they won’t tell us apart.” Growing up in a baseball loving household, today I want to wear the #42. I do so with ink.

As a teacher and basketball coach, I had the privilege to host six boys from Asian countries. As a host mom, these boys became part of my family. I have visited them in China and Taiwan in recent years. These boys will always be like the brothers I never had. While Asian racism has always existed, there has been a sharp increase in harassment and violence against Asians since 2020. I witnessed firsthand some of the horrific things that were done or said to my ‘family’ because of their nationality, and I felt ashamed. The country I love no longer seemed as progressive or enlightened as I once believed. It was as if we’d stepped back in time. Some of you may ask, why did I feel guilty? It’s not like I said or did any of those hurtful things. What makes me responsible? It’s simple. Because there was nothing, I was doing to help promote change.


Do you have any unusual writing habits?

As a full-time teacher during the day, with multiple other jobs to make ends meet, finding a few moments to write was a constant struggle. However, I knew that this story deserved my time and attention, so I would stay up late into the night, often past midnight, to work on the book.


What are you working on now?

The second installment of the “Chasing the Comet” series is called “Threads of Fate.” Just like the first book, Threads of Fate is a contemporary romance full of unexpected twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end. Despite the odds against them, Cassie and Xuan remain steadfast in their epic love story, willing to do whatever it takes to find their way back to each other – even if it means braving the very forces of the universe that conspire to keep them apart.


What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?

Goodreads: Goodreads is a popular platform for book lovers. Create an author profile, add your books to your profile, interact with readers, participate in book discussions, and leverage their advertising options to reach a wider audience.

Book promotion websites: There are several websites dedicated to promoting books, such as BookBub, BookGorilla, and Bargain Booksy. These platforms offer various promotional opportunities, including discounted book promotions, author spotlights, and book recommendations to their subscribers.

Book bloggers and reviewers: Research and reach out to book bloggers and reviewers who specialize in your genre. Offer them review copies of your book in exchange for honest reviews, guest posts, or interviews. Positive reviews can help generate buzz and attract more readers.

Online book communities and forums: Participate in online communities and forums related to books and writing, such as Goodreads groups, Reddit’s r/books, or niche-specific forums. Engage in discussions, share your expertise, and mention your book when relevant (without being overly promotional).

Collaborate with other authors: Network and collaborate with fellow authors through author events, joint promotions, or cross-promotion on social media. By leveraging each other’s audiences, you can expand your reach and gain exposure to new readers.

Remember that promoting your books is an ongoing effort. It’s important to build relationships with your readers, engage with your target audience, and consistently share updates about your work. Each author’s journey is unique, so it’s essential to experiment with different methods and find what works best for you and your books.


Do you have any advice for new authors?

Here are a few key pieces of advice for new authors:

1. Write consistently: Make writing a regular habit. Set aside dedicated time each day or week to work on your writing projects. Consistency is key to honing your skills and making progress on your manuscript.

2. Read widely: Immerse yourself in different genres and styles of writing. Reading not only exposes you to different storytelling techniques but also helps you understand what works and what doesn’t. It can inspire new ideas and enhance your writing abilities.

3. Embrace the editing process: Writing is rewriting. Understand that the first draft is just the beginning. Embrace the editing process, revise your work, and strive to make it better. Seek feedback from trusted beta readers or join a writing group to gain different perspectives on your writing.

4. Develop your writer’s voice: Find your unique voice as an author. Experiment with different styles and approaches until you discover the one that feels authentic to you. Your voice is what sets you apart and makes your writing resonate with readers.

5. Embrace constructive criticism: Be open to feedback and critique. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas for improvement and refine your writing. Separate yourself from your work and view feedback as an opportunity to grow and strengthen your skills.

6. Persevere and stay resilient: Writing can be challenging and discouraging at times. Rejections may come your way, but don’t let them deter you. Stay resilient, believe in your abilities, and keep pushing forward. Persistence is often the key to success in the writing journey.

7. Connect with the writing community: Engage with other writers, attend writing conferences or workshops, and join online writing communities. Surrounding yourself with fellow writers provides support, inspiration, and opportunities for collaboration.

8. Celebrate small victories: Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments along the way. Finishing a chapter, reaching a word count goal, or receiving positive feedback—these are all milestones worth recognizing. Celebrating small victories keeps your motivation high and fuels your writing journey.

9. Start marketing your book early! Publishers will ask for your different sites.

Remember, writing is a personal and creative endeavor. Trust in your unique voice, be persistent, and enjoy the process. With dedication and perseverance, you can bring your stories to life and share them with the world.


What is the best advice you have ever heard?

The best advice I’ve ever heard is to “embrace failure as a stepping stone to success.” It’s a powerful reminder that setbacks and mistakes are not indicators of our worth or potential. Instead, they serve as valuable learning opportunities and catalysts for growth.

In the creative process, including writing, failure and rejection are inevitable. However, it’s how we respond to those challenges that truly matters. Embracing failure means reframing it as a natural part of the journey towards achieving our goals. It allows us to learn from our mistakes, adapt our approach, and ultimately persevere.

This advice encourages resilience, determination, and a willingness to take risks. It reminds us that setbacks are not permanent roadblocks but rather springboards for improvement. By embracing failure, we cultivate a growth mindset, allowing us to push beyond our comfort zones and reach our full potential.

So, whenever I face obstacles or encounter setbacks in my writing or any other aspect of life, I remind myself to embrace failure. I see it as an opportunity to learn, evolve, and ultimately move closer to success. It’s a valuable lesson that has empowered me to approach challenges with optimism, resilience, and a commitment to continuous improvement.

June 2023 interview

June 2023 Interview with Jennie Gunther, Tech expert and Genealogist

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a delightful woman by the name of Jennie Gunther. Jennie is a highly accomplished computer techy and environmentalist. Her avocation is genealogy, and that’s how we met.


Question: Jennie, please tell my readers about how you began your occupation in the computer industry.

Answer:  My father worked for IBM – which stands for: “I’ve been moved!” I’m the oldest of ten children and our family lived in several different states in the USA, including Kansas, Texas and California.  I’ve been involved with computers since the 1960’s.


Question:  What interested you in computers at such an early age?

Answer:  My dad got me enrolled in the IBM series of machine operation classes reserved for their customers. I learned keypunch, the sorting machine, and the 402 Tab counting machine. Little did I know that this would lay the groundwork for my lifelong career. I spent five years managing the IBM system for Homelite Chain Saws in Kansas City. Following this, I helped implement the Visa credit card system for the states of Kansas and Missouri.


Question:  You really hit it out of the ballpark with your IBM training. Did you get any other type of training?

Answer: After I married and began having children, I decided to go back to work. By this time, I’d become very interested in politics. I knew then Senator Fred Harris in Oklahoma and began volunteering for his campaign for President. It was my idealism to save the world. I also noticed that most politicians were lawyers, so I enrolled in law school. In fairly short order, I decided being a lawyer wasn’t my bailiwick.  I had enough training and education, however, to land a position with the Legal Aid services in Oklahoma City. This work served me well and nurtured my passion to help people and do good work.


Question: And then you and your husband were transferred again, is that correct?

Answer: Yes, we moved to Jefferson City. Because of my interest in the preservation of the environment, I applied for and was hired by the Missouri Conservation Department. This position introduced me to several opportunities. My employer witnessed my solid work ethic, and soon I was booking tours, setting up educational events, and authoring a number of articles for nature publications around the state. I also was a performer, of sorts, assisting the State’s Naturalist by dressing up in a prairie dress, telling stories to visitors about two sisters who crossed the prairie and encountering buffalo herds and lightening fires. My writing continued, and in this job, I also wrote the script about living in the prairie, which included music. The small production was a hit, with requests to do many repeat performances.


Question: Your career love was your time with the Nature Conservancy. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this non-profit, they’ve been around for over 70 years. Founded in the U.S. through grassroots action in 1951, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has grown to become one of the most effective and wide-reaching environmental organizations in the world. To make the highest possible impact on the climate and biodiversity crises between now and 2030, The Nature Conservancy is developing breakthrough ideas, amplifying local leaders and influencing policy.

 Please tell my readers of your passion about preserving our environment.  Have you written any articles on behalf of the Nature Conservancy?

Answer:  Since I was a young child, I loved the outdoors. My love of nature has carried through all of my life. I softened the angst of going through puberty by climbing the silver leaf maple tree in our back yard to read a book or cry teenage tears or just sit and enjoy the birdsong. To be able to work in the environmental field was a soul-satisfying career path. Looking back, I feel like I was able to ‘give back and give forward’ to my ancestors and descendants. During my time with the Nature Conservancy, I authored several newsletter articles. I loved every minute of it.


Question: I’ve learned that you feel that storytelling and taking the time to study history are a great combination for understanding genealogy and preparing a family history. Can you elaborate on how storytelling is important to you?

Answer:  Storytelling gives life to the truths in our world in a manageable way – we might not be able to ‘handle the truth’ in its harsh reality, but stories can help us face reality. They color our world with the surprises of everyone’s experiences. And it is so shareable – a truly universal story that ties us all together.


Question: How long have you been interested in genealogy?  What sparked your interest?

Answer: It was literally dumped on me. A relative gave me a box filled with notes, letters, and pictures, saying, “Here, this is our family history. Can you make sense of it?” I love puzzles and detecting how things interact, and that is definitely needed to research in genealogy. And the satisfaction of seeing how my life ties into my ancestor’s – gives a whole new point of view to history.


Question: Do you think you’ll ever be ‘done’ with your genealogy work?

Answer:  No one can ever be ‘done’ with genealogy – there is always the next ancestor to discover, and then I move on to all of the collateral lines. Even if one could trace a direct line all the way back to Adam & Eve, what about all of those siblings and cousins from Cain and Able? And if I were to ever get to near-completion with my own ancestry, there are always friends to help out. Other people’s histories are equally compelling.


Question: Thank you for your volunteer work as a genealogist. Where do you volunteer your services as a genealogist?

Answer:  I do my volunteer work through an agency by the name of Raleigh Senior Tech Ed. The organizations offer a variety of technology classes, and this includes genealogy, which includes research topics and challenges. I also participate in a Family History Group at NC State University.  I also hold classes on how to write a family history and have conducted classes through the Wake County Library system.


Question: Jennie, there’s never a dull moment in your life, and you certainly stay busy. I was very excited to learn about your volunteer work at NC Reading Service. You were required to go through a voice audition, is that correct?

Answer:  Yes, I was required to audition – first for possible placement as a volunteer announcer for WCPE Classical Music Station, and also for the NC Reading Service. My voice passed all of the tests, and I settled with volunteering with NCRS. I find it very satisfying, again with the desire to give back to my community. I particularly love recording the Children’s Story Hour – reading books for children which are then played on the Internet at scheduled times.


Question: It was a pleasure to listen to your lecture in my community about getting started in genealogy. I particularly enjoyed your power point and discussion about FREE genealogy resources in North Carolina.  I’ve also reviewed your excel spreadsheet that you’ve compiled about free resources on the Internet. May I share them with my readers?

Answer: Yes, Colleen, please share them. I’m very enthused about this topic and I hope my lecture and spreadsheet inspires others to get excited about researching their ancestors. Thanks for interviewing me.


**Note: Please refer to my website,, for the PDF of the spreadsheet info about free online resources. Check under the ‘newsletters’ tab for this valuable info. **

In closing, Jenn, I want to say what a pleasure it’s been to meet you and publish this interview about such an inspired life.  I look forward to meeting with you at our monthly genealogy groups. Thank you for everything.



May 2023 interview

Provided by Christine on her blog:

Thank you for allowing me to share the journey of this delightful author. Her inspiration also came from her personal genealogical journey.

Keep Sending out Queries! Author Interview with Robin W. Pearson


Prior to writing your first novel, what writing credits did you have?

I began freelancing as a writer and editor with educational publishers, magazines, novelists, and homeschool publications in 1997, after leaving Houghton Mifflin Company.


What made you decide to write that first novel?

I started my debut, A Long Time Comin’, after writing down pieces of our

family’s history and genealogy to pass down to my little people.


How long did it take you to write your first book?

The first draft took about three years, but the manuscript went through numerous edits before it was eventually published several years (and little people!) later.


Who encouraged you along the way?

Along the way, I was encouraged by my parents, my family, writer-mentors like Carrie Turansky, and by critiques from members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Friends urged me to keep writing when I wanted to give up.


How did you go about finding an agent/publisher?

To find an agent I queried, queried, and queried again. Did I mention that I queried agents? I attended conferences such as Writing for the Soul and the Philadelphia Writers Workshop, participated in writing contests, subscribed to QueryTracker and Writers’ Digest, and…queried.


From the point you were offered a contract on that first book, how long did it take to make to print?

In September 2017, I attended ACFW’s conference in Dallas as a Genesis finalist and there, I watched Cynthia Ruchti accept an award for another writer. She blew me away with her humor and grace. A few months later, I learned she’d become an agent with Books and Such Literary, and I jumped at the chance to work with her.


I signed with Cynthia in February 2018 and ten months later, I signed a two- book contract with Tyndale House. Readers started digging into my debut, A Long Time Comin’, about a year later.


What is the hardest part of writing for you?

I’m like most mamas, so letting go of my “baby” is probably the hardest part. I always think it can be better, that I need to rephrase one more sentence, insert a comma, or rework another scene. I suppose I feel my characters will always need me. Yet, there comes a point when I need to type The End and submit—both the manuscript and my writer’s spirit.


What does your editor remind you to do most often?

When my agent read my latest manuscript, she told me to ditch the semi- colons and watch out for over-used phrases. Now, I love semi-colons; they’re underappreciated punctuation. So, that direction cut right to my heart! With A Long Time Comin’, my editor kept me centered on nuts and bolts—the details—making sure ages and timelines matched, maintaining consistency, and deleting extra scenes and characters.


Sometimes when you’re parenting, you can get caught up in the lecture, not the lesson or the person. At times, that’s what I did in writing. Caleb reminded me to focus on the story; not to go down rabbit holes that led away from the plot. Painful, yet oh-so-necessary work.


What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?

I love when readers write to me and share how my characters remind them of a family member or that they’re still thinking about the book long after they closed the cover. This tells me that my writing has taken on flesh and blood; it lives and breathes and isn’t just words on a page. I want my work to elicit strong emotion so readers will identify with/love/hate my characters (emphasis on love) and jump right into the book.


We have all experienced rejection. How have you learned to write past it?

I always seemed to get this close in writing contests and lose, and the rejection hurt. Invariably, the feedback was either they didn’t like my Southern style of writing, they didn’t feel it was “Christian enough,” it was too religious, too multicultural, etc.


After a few stumbles, I had to push through by deciding to stay true to my style, my message, my characters, and my story—all inspired and provided by God. I learned to write in the wait, and at the right time, He brought a publisher and an audience that loved me and my work. I won where it counted without losing what made me, me.


What has frustrated you the most in writing or publishing?

Many may consider completing a novel while raising seven little people a Herculean feat. Yet, building a platform has posed a similar—and often greater—challenge. Managing social media—planning posts, balancing fun vs work time, and simply figuring out how to use Instagram stories— frustrates me; it’s a new world.


What has surprised you?

I’m quite surprised, however, how much this self-proclaimed introvert enjoys connecting with readers, other writers, and friends and family. Sure, I rarely post where I go for breakfast, but I love sharing how I feed my family spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.


What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?

Writing tends to be a solitary activity; it’s a one-on-one, woman-and-her- laptop relationship. I have to withdraw to produce, even if it’s only mentally while sitting smack dab in the middle of my family on Friday pizza movie night.


If I’d known how supportive and loving my writing community would be, I would’ve emerged from my computer-shaped shell, many moons ago and engaged with my critique groups, attended book clubs, conferences, and interacted with online literary-based organizations.


What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?

Don’t let anyone tell you how, where, or when to shine. You might write Christian fiction or general market, African American or Women’s, Southern Lit, Contemporary, or historical fiction. Children or YA. Any, all, or none of them. Find your own place in the sun and bask in it.


Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?

Write every day. Don’t let rejection, the (in)existence of a publishing contract or pressure of a deadline, or binge-watching “This Is Us” episodes keep you from putting fingers to keyboard. Tap out ideas, outlines, a paragraph, chapters. Write. You never know when you’ll need to draw from your well of words.


What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?

Tyndale releases my second book in spring 2021. It follows more characters from the area around Spring Hope, North Carolina. This novel encourages readers to see that their scars, weaknesses, and mistakes don’t make them “less than” or unworthy of love and acceptance. They’re uniquely made, and so is their pain, and they are more than enough.


Sounds like an encouraging story. If you’d like to learn more about Robin’s work, here are some links to get started



April 2023 interview

Getting Validation as a Writer: Author Interview with Mary Ellen Bramwell - women's fiction


 What inspired you to write about the trials of life? I read books from just about any genre, but I chose to write about life's ups and downs because those are the stories that stick with me. A mystery or crime is solved and then over with, but life is ongoing. So, the things we learn from living life, or the things we learn from reading about someone else's life, are the things that we ponder long after the trial (or story) is finished.


How long did it take to write the first book? My first book took six months to write and six months to rewrite. Many edits were done along the way, but I went through one major rewrite (unlike one of my other books that went through four).


What is the hardest part of writing for you? Probably being comfortable with the story early on. I've started writing several books that sounded great in my head but on paper just felt flat. It's hard to keep pushing on a story when it's just not working. I abandon those ideas before I waste too much time on them. When a story starts to write itself, I know I've found the right one.


What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing? Several years before I wrote my first book, I published a couple magazine articles. The editor I worked with on the second of those said, "You're a good writer. You should keep writing for us." I never forgot that. When I began seriously writing, that always stayed in the back of my mind, telling me I could do it. Then shortly after starting writing books, I won an award in the Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition. It validated the earlier comment. It is so easy to doubt yourself as a writer. Having people who did not personally know me tell me I could write made a huge difference.


Marketing is the biggest key to getting sales. What is the best marketing source you've used that has produces more sales rather than just clicks? Marketing was what I was least prepared to handle, yet we all need to do it. I was fortunate enough to land a BookBub deal early on. That featured eBook had over 50,000 free downloads. That spurred pages read and follow-on sales. Several years later, I'm still getting new reviews and ratings every week.


Do you sell more eBooks or print books?  I definitely sell more eBooks than print.


What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner? Just a better handle on mechanics. I've learned so much about how to be a better writer (from conferences, books, etc.) since I first started that I'm hesitant to read my earlier books. When I do read them, I'm relieved I still like them - even if I would have tightened up some of the language if I were to write them now.


What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give? Hire an editor. You need to have someone else put eyes on it. And the caveat is be willing to accept the editing advice.


Are there any other points about writing you would like to add? A lot of people tell me, "I've always wanted to write a book." I encourage them to do it. Just sit down and put pen to paper and begin. In a way, the comment is a slight on writers. ("I could do what you do.") So, I'm always happy to support and cheer other writers who are willing to put in the hard work and produce a book. It is always an accomplishment to be celebrated. I've found fellow writers to be so supportive, so I try to be the same.


Can you give me a short synopsis? I'm usually knee deep in another book, but I'm not right now. I have a series of children's books in the works (with names like It Was a Dark and Squeak Night), and I'm working on getting the approvals from involved parties to write a nonfiction book. Both of these projects are departures from what I've written in the past, but ones I'm excited to explore. At the moment, I'm spending most of my time editing for others.


That's all for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Mary-Ellen's books, here are some links to get you started.

Amazon author page:

Goodreads author page: Website:


Books by the author:

  • The Apple Doesnt’ Fall Far

  • In Search of Sisters

  • Dandelion Summer

  • When I was Seven

March 2023 interview

Helen Erwin

Question: Helen, let’s start with telling my readers a little bit about yourself. How long have you been writing, and what do you like most about historical fiction?


I’ve been writing my whole life really, short stories, children’s books, and collaborative projects with friends just for fun. But it wasn’t until I was in my mid 40’s that I took it seriously enough to do it professionally. My first historical novel, James’ Journey, was published in 2015.


What I like the most about historical fiction is getting into my characters’ heads and having them think about the social and political discourse of the times they live in. Their values and social norms were very different from ours, usually because of the information that was available to them and their circumstances. I love elaborating on that and delve into all those complexities, you get a very rich glimpse into the past that way. For example, in Sour Milk in Sheep’s Wool, my characters are having a debate about what it is that causes rickets. They don’t agree. Some are sure it’s because the baby in question had been near an unwed mother, others are sure it’s because the baby wasn’t swaddled properly. Today, we know of course that it’s neither. It’s vitamin D deficiency, or an absorption anomaly but my characters can’t know that. It's a fun challenge to get into their heads that way and make sure my characters think like a person from the past would actually think.


Question: Your novel, Sour Milk in Sheep’s Wool sounds fascinating. What compelled you to write on this topic.  Please tell us about the role research played in writing this novel.


Sour Milk in Sheep’s Wool is about women’s rights – or the lack thereof, at the turn of the 20th century Sweden. One of my two main characters, Anette, is based on my great grandmother who was an unwed mother of several children. This was incredibly stigmatized during her time and for a long time after wards. People are very quick to judge, but there must have been circumstances that affected her decisions, and I wanted to give her a voice.


I also wanted to write about the women who took a stand against the patriarchy of that time, the ones who lobbied and petitioned for their right to vote and to become active participants in their government. It was this which in turn helped change things for women like Anette.


Hanna, my second main character, is an early businesswoman who forms a women’s temperance group which then evolves into a suffrage group. Hanna is a relation to me as well, but I can’t say how because it would spoil the plot. I did a lot of genealogy research, historical and social research for this book. I love doing research, it’s what inspires my writing.

Question: You’ve won awards and special honors for your writing. Please describe for us how your books caught the eye of the Foundations who honored you with your awards. Had you entered a contest?


SWEA: Swedish Women’s Educational Association, which is an organization for Swedish women living outside of Sweden, heard of me and my work and got in touch. After that, I learned about their scholarships and applied. I was granted the SWEA New York Mona Johnson Scholarship for my upcoming novel and for The Foremothers’ Café, which is a Virtual World in the Metaverse inspired by Hanna’s café in Sour Milk in Sheep’s Wool.


I learned about The Puffin Foundation from googling and applied, then was very fortunate to receive a grant for my Foremothers Café community.


Question: What project are you currently working on?


I’m finishing a historical fantasy novel set in Sweden in the 17th and 18th century. It’s based on court cases involving two mythological beings who people believed were real during that time. It was very serious, people were jailed or executed when it was thought they had spent time with these beings. It’s a fascinating time in history.


The reason this book falls under the historical fantasy genre is that I’m writing from the mythological creatures’ perspectives. It’s a very interesting way of writing that I’ve never done before, and I have a lot of freedom to add things that would never work in a “pure” historical fiction novel.

Question:  Now that you’re an experienced author, what advice can you provide to beginning writers about how to navigate the complexities of bringing a book to publication?  In other words, is there anything you would do differently with your first novel, looking back, now that you have acquired publishing experience?


There are several different ways to get your book published these days. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find a publisher or an agent, there are many options out there, not just traditional publishing houses. Claim your art! You deserve to get your work out there, writing is an art form and it doesn’t have to be perfect for people to love it.


Question:  Do you have any unusual writing habits?


I don’t think so. I write on my laptop, usually with an external mouse and an ergonomic keyboard.


Question:  What marketing efforts have been most beneficial to you that have increased sales for you?


Social media with a mix of art, historical details relevant to my stories, and more personal details about me. It really helps to share something more personal about my daily life. I didn’t use to do that the first few years, but I’ve noticed an uptake in engagement when I do. Holding author events and outreach to organizations interested in my subjects is also a great way to get more sales. Advertising is good as well, just spending a little money on it off and on, makes a difference.


Question:  Please tell my readers how they can follow you. Please provide us with your web address, and all of your contacts on social media.


Sure, and thank you so much for having me, Colleen!                                                                    



February 2023 interview

Friday, February 3, 2023


Consider your Manuscript Like an Architect's Blueprints: Author Interview with Kaya McLaren

What inspired you to write that first novel? Did it get published?


In 1998, I was teaching in a small, isolated wheat-farming town. Since I was paying off student loans, I didn't have two dimes to rub together. When my television broke and I couldn't afford to replace it or fix it, I started writing to entertain myself...mostly imagining what my life would look like if I wasn't lonely and if I had supernatural powers to fix the things in life that I wanted to fix.


I began during a cold snap when I had to stay right next to my woodstove, but I had so much fun in my imaginary world that I wrote for about an hour each night while I took a bath! Isn't that funny? Yes, I wrote my first novel by hand on notebook paper in a three-ring binder. Initially it was published by DayBue Publishing, Ink and I couldn't tell you how many revisions we did except that I was grateful in the end for each one. Several years later, Penguin picked it up and we did a few more revisions. I blocked most of it out of my memory.


What is the hardest part of writing for you?


The hardest part of writing for me is coming up with a plot because I don't like problems. This always makes me laugh to say aloud. Other people are fascinated by problems. I'm exhausted from real problems, so I'd really rather not create imaginary ones to solve in addition, you know? But since problems are central to a plot, I really have to force myself. My grandmother taught me that what I give my attention to grows, so I'm always afraid that by giving my attention to these imaginary problems, I'm going to create them in my real life. It's okay to laugh at all of that.


What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?


I always loved writing letters. There was a time in my life when I could no longer write individual letters to all of the people I had met along the way-- friends from summer camp, friends from archaeology projects, friends from college, extended family, etc...


and the Internet wasn't a thing yet, so I wrote these Xerox letters (sometimes illustrated) and mailed them out. I heard that two different recipients read them at dinner parties at their homes and that people who didn't know me looked forward to the next one. That was the moment that I realized that I might be able to make a little money at this-- at least enough to cover Xeroxing costs and postage stamps.


Marketing is the biggest key to getting sales. What is the best marketing source you've used that has produces more sales rather than just clicks?


Oh, girl, that is the million-dollar question right now. It feels like such a moving target. I've watched this business change so much in the last twenty years and truly, I do not know what the rules are. I've decided not to worry about it and just do what I like doing. I like making friends with bookstore owners. Bookstore owners and managers are always really interesting, intelligent, compassionate, insightful people.


I like road trips, and I like stopping in and introducing myself. There are some stores where I've enjoyed having events, though I haven't in a long time. I think events need to be more than book signings, though. Book club meetings are more interesting to me. I like discussions more than speeches. I appreciate that feedback from readers. I especially love it when they share a passage that was meaningful to them. Social media isn't a comfortable way for me to promote, though I do some. It's just that I'm an elementary teacher, and I don't want parents making judgments about the content of my stories and bringing any controversy around that into my teacher-life.


What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner? When I wrote CHURCH OF THE DOG, I really didn't understand the fundamentals of plot. At some point after it was out, I met an award-winning screenwriter in the Methow Valley who read it and told me that my main character wasn't who I thought it was because she didn't change; my main character was the one who changed. I read books about screenwriting that I checked out from the library there and that really helped me grow in ways I wanted to grow.


What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give? Write about what you know. Classic.


I tell people to go out and live an interesting life instead of holing up and writing in solitude all the time. HOW I CAME TO SPARKLE AGAIN was my biggest commercial success and I wrote it after spending a few winters skiing with a very animated group of friends from different walks of life. Go live. Live big. Let life feed you book material.


Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?

I'd like to thank the librarian in Heppner, Oregon, who in 1998 saw me looking to see who published my favorite books and asked how she might help me. I told her about my manuscript and how I didn't know what to do with it, and she put a copy of THE WRITERS' MARKET and a copy of HOW TO GET HAPPILY PUBLISHED in my hand. In doing so, she forever changed my life. Libraries are the great equalizer. When I didn't have enough money for food and sure couldn't afford a fat book like THE WRITERS' MARKET, the library gave me access to it. Libraries are a beautiful thing.


I also want to say that being an archaeologist helped prepare me for the publishing process. In archaeology, there weren't a lot of opportunities. Back in the '90's, I'd send my resume to fifty or a hundred archaeology or environmental consulting firms and hear back from one or two. I understood that there just weren't many availabilities and that it wasn't personal. In the publishing world, publishing houses only publish a certain number of each kind of genre a year. Maybe they're looking for what you've got, or maybe that spot has been filled. Keep trying. Don't get discouraged. Most of all, be willing to rewrite.


The first draft is for you. Enjoy the process of writing it. If you don't want to change it, self-publish. But if you want commercial success, be humble and open-minded. Allow your manuscript to become something entirely different if that is what's going to happen. I see it like being an architect. Ultimately, I'm creating a product for a customer and I want that customer to be satisfied and come back for more. I see my editor/publisher as that customer, and as a representative of their customers. But that first draft, oh, enjoy writing it like you would enjoy falling in love during a vacation romance. Then, get back to work.


What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?


I don't know when my next book is coming out. I sent a manuscript to my agents last month.


I would like to plug my last book though, because I think it's the best one I've written so far. It's not the cheeriest. It's heavy, and it's not for everyone. I wrote WHAT'S WORTH KEEPING after my own experience with breast cancer, which left me reeling from trauma and feeling extremely disoriented in my own body and in my own life. I had to find a way to make peace with the uncertainty and absolute certainty of life and I really struggled to do so.


So, I changed the manuscript I had been working on and put Amy, one of the main characters, in the place that I was--the place where everything seemed like bullshit except nature and all I wanted to do was be with the big trees in the kindest forest I knew. Amy sets off from Oklahoma City on her way to Mt. Rainier National Park, visiting a few national parks and monuments along the way. Unlike me, Amy had a husband. Paul, a cop in Oklahoma City, had his own trauma from being a first responder to the Oklahoma City Bombing years ago, and had grown increasingly more distant ever since.


Their daughter, Carly, had always been the model of perfection until after Amy's cancer, when she learned of the genetic aspect to her mom's disease. After that, she saw little point in delaying gratification and went off the rails. Through no agreement of her own, she finds herself at Great Aunt Rae's in Chama, New Mexico, where she works with Clydesdales in her aunt's outfitting business. Amy, Paul, and Carly, all find their way out of trauma through different means-- nature, music, a project, the comfort of horses, and miraculously find their way back to one another.


While intense at times, it's ultimately hopeful. It turns out that medical trauma is a thing, and it's hard to talk about when we know many people weren't lucky enough to get the gift of more time. We know we should be grateful and we are-- but we also grieve the way our lives and our bodies were before everything changed. I think this book will help many people know they're not alone in those moments, and really help those who are close to someone going through it understand what is happening and why.


That's all for today's interview. Lot to absorb here. If you'd like to learn more about Kaya's books, here's the link to her website:

Posted by Christine L.Henderson at Friday, February 03, 2023


January 2023 interviews



Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I retired from the counseling field 8 years ago but even 3 years before that I started editing fiction, mostly. To date I have edited over 70 manuscripts, of which half have been published. Five of my writers (that I am aware of) have won either gold, silver or bronze medals for outstanding fiction.

I wrote my first book last summer over a 60 day period, 65,000 mwords entitled Bristlecone Magic, a YA Christian fantasy spurred along by a photo I saw in linkedIn. The words tumbled out of me but I took a year to fine tune the writing.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest is my only book as I mentioned above. However, during the last two years I have also written 5 short stories, a few of which are still ongoing.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Not really, I write as the spirit moves me but I have never suffered from writer’s block or the dreaded what-ifs that can stop you in your tracks.

What authors, or books have influenced you?
Books have not really influenced me, even though I have gladly read hundreds, but my writers have made a huge impact on me, especially those I have befriended over the years.

What are you working on now?
Currently publishing and marketing Bristlecone Magic.

What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I haven’t decided you but I have many solid contacts I can rely on to point me in the right direction.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
Do write but please write right, right?
Do NOT rush the process, anything rushed usually is sub par.
Do NOT take shortcut, if you do, your readers will see through them.
Never give up on your dreams.

What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Do the right thing especially when no one is looking.

What are you reading now?
Jasper Fforde’s Shades of Grey
To Honour the Dead by John Dean

What’s next for you as a writer?
To continue writing short stories for an anthology in the future.

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
9/22/63 by Steven King
Large print Bible
H G Wells Time machine

Author Websites and Profiles
DENNIS DE ROSE Amazon Profile
DENNIS DE ROSE Author Profile on Smashwords

DENNIS DE ROSE’s Social Media Links
Goodreads Profile


Cozette Zimmerman 

Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am a forever college student always wanting to get more and more degrees and more knowledge. I love to read, crochet, writing, and taking naps. At this point, I have published one book and I am working on two more simultaneously.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is called A Call Girl With Her Clothes On and it was inspired by my true phone conversations that I had with patients while I worked at a hospital call center.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I like to work on multiple projects at the same time and I don’t like jumping around chapters while I write.

What authors, or books have influenced you?
I love Karin Slaughter and her creative twists, as well as Gillian Flynn.

What are you working on now?
It is a horror fiction book called The Boat of Dreams.

What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I have had quite a bit of success with Facebook targeted ads, as well as talking about my book to everyone that I meet.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write the book, tell everyone, build up hype.

What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Don’t be afraid to edit!

What are you reading now?
I am reading Billy Jensen’s Chase Darkness With Me.

What’s next for you as a writer?
As a writer, I am working on finding a literary agent and shopping film/tv rights for my book.

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
I would bring All the Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter, Inkheart, and Harry Potter.

Author Websites and Profiles
Cozette Zimmerman Website
Cozette Zimmerman Amazon Profile

Cozette Zimmerman’s Social Media Links
Facebook Profile
Twitter Account


​​December 2022 interview

Author Interview, About: Marketing

Taken with permission from Christine’s blog spot, who conducted the actual interview.

Don’t get stuck in Analysis Paralysis: Author Interview with Marina J. Bowman

Question: In reviewing your publishing history, I see you’ve published 10 books so far. What drew you to write children’s chapter books? 

When I was a child, I struggled to focus on books because I preferred to be outside, exploring magical new worlds. With help from my parents and teachers, eventually I realized that there are new worlds to explore and adventures to be had on the page as well as off the page. I was drawn to write children's chapter books because I wanted to help young readers (especially reluctant readers) fall in love with reading and become lifelong learners. And the most critical time for kids is the gap between picture books and full-length novels. 


Question: When I’ve attended writing conferences or webinars, I’ve often heard that this level chapter books are small niches, and many publishers and agents don’t want to deal with the genre. Is it as hard as I’ve been told it is to find sales?

It's true that it's one of the most difficult genres to sell, but I'm fortunate to be able to work with Devin and Don at Code Pineapple publishing, who share my values. Plus it's incredibly rewarding to hear from parents and grandparents that their child has discovered a newfound love of reading because of my stories.


Question: How much of the non-writing (formatting, cover design, website design, etc.) do you personally do? 

Starting out I had very little experience with marketing and publishing. But I've learned a lot along the way. Almost all of the non-writing activities are outsourced to freelancers, which Devin and Don help take care of. 


Question: What’s the hardest part of publishing and marketing your own books?

The hardest part about it is that we aren't able to speak directly to our readers - kids ages 6-12. We market to the parents, grandparents, teachers, and librarians who care for those kids. Furthermore, I am forced to stay out of the spotlight to ensure the more unpleasant supernatural secrets I uncover don’t catch up with me. This makes it even more difficult to connect with my readers.


Question: Marketing is a big part of increasing book sales. What venue have you found most successful in not only getting clicks but sales as well?

Currently our biggest driver for sales is Amazon Ads. We've had little luck with Book Bub and Facebook ads. We also distribute off-Amazon through Ingram Spark and are looking to do much more to try to reach schools, libraries, and bookstores in the coming months.


What is the hardest part of writing for you? 

One of the hardest and most important parts about writing for me is coming up with a fully fleshed out character with a core desire that drives the story. I have to be careful not to fall into the trap of letting the story world run out of control to the point that the character is passively experiencing it. Another trap that's difficult to avoid is 'telling' rather than 'showing.' 


The more obvious and easier way to include a character’s thoughts and feelings is simply by stating what they are. For example: Michael was very afraid of the dark. But showing is much more interesting. For instance: As his mother switched off the light and left the room, Michael tensed. He huddled under the covers, gripped the sheets, and held his breath as the wind brushed past the curtain.


Question: What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?

The best encouragement comes from reader feedback. Whether via emails or online reviews, it's the stories of how my books are positively impacting kids and families that keeps me going. Comments like "It helped me get her excited for bed for a whole week." Or "My grandson and I started reading it and he is anxious to keep reading - that's a new thing for him." And especially "I like that she faced her own fears at the end... It proves to always face your fears and overcome them... I'm trying to face my own fear of the dark and it's kind of working." 


Of course, it also helps to get positive editorial reviews! We recently received a Notable Book Starred Review from Blue Ink and an Editor's Pick from Book Life, which is great validation.

Question: What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?

I wish I had understood writing to market sooner. It makes it a lot easier to market and sell your book. Then again, if I had focused on writing to market for my very first book, I may have become intimidated and never gotten started. So, I don't really regret the way any of this has played out. I've realized that you really just need to get started and learn as you go. Otherwise, you can end up analysis paralysis.


Question: What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?

The best advice I have received and would like to pass on is this: done beats perfect. I like to say that I am a recovering perfectionist. Whether you are a pantser, plotter, or something in between - just do what you need to do to move forward. Start with whatever you know in the moment - the character, the world, the beginning, the end - and the rest will follow.


Question: Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?

Writers write. That's what they do. But that doesn't mean it's easy. The blank page can be scary. Debilitating even. I find that having a notepad to jot down ideas as they come to me is helpful. Flipping through a notebook of ideas is a great place to find motivation and your next story. Most writers, myself included, find that the more they write down their ideas, the more they can find ideas inspired by everyday life. 


For example, your sister eating 3 oranges because she loves them so much might not be anything special. But when your imagination takes over, you suddenly start thinking, “What if aliens wanted to come to earth to try oranges because they’ve heard good things? But they don’t know what they look like, except that they are round. So the aliens come down and start tasting everything shaped like a sphere that they can find, from taking a bite out of baseballs to licking bowling balls.” So if you're stuck, go live life and you'll find writing inspiration.

Question: What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?

The next book coming out is in a brand new series! The working title is Misfit Magic School. Here's a short blurb: 13-year-old Ember Pearson failed her mandatory magic exam, and now there is only one place she can go - the school for magical misfits. All she wants is to transfer to a school for real witches, like her celebrity parents and perfect sister. When the only teacher that believes in her vanishes, Ember and her fellow misfits must find a way to bring her home. But with a mix of chaotic powers that include spotty invisibility, baffling psychic visions, and unruly fire manipulation, it won't be easy.


Sounds like an intriguing plot set-up. If you'd like to learn more about Marina's stories, here are some links to get you started.


Amazon Author Page:

Facebook: and

Posted by Christine L.Henderson at Tuesday, September 06, 2022



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