Author Interview – E.P. Stavs

Author of the Shendri Series

Joining me today is the American author E.P. Stavs, Author of the YA fantasy Shendri series. The third installment of which will be released on March 16th. She also has a Bluebeard retelling that will be included in the charitable anthology “Villainous”, coming out March 29th.

Welcome Erin, I am a fan of your Shendri series; I thoroughly enjoyed Book One: The Marked Princess, (you can find my book review here,) and I am looking forward to reading the second book: The Searching Songbird. News that number three The Unclaimed Wolf is releasing soon is so exciting. To start us off please tell us about your the Shendri series.

Erin: The Shendri Series is a fast-paced, young adult fantasy series that follows the adventures of four young women bearing the mark of the Shendri. While there’s an over-arcing storyline to the series that ties the four books together, each heroine is given her own, unique story (and romance) as the journey progresses.

Helen: I must admit it is an enjoyable read, and I love the covers, such vibrant colours. With four heroines to choose from, do you have a favourite character?

Erin: I have a couple of favourites, really. Josselyn, the hellcat Shendri and MC of “The Marked Princess” is pretty special to me, partly because she’s the character who put the entire series in motion. Before I knew anything else about the series, I knew it would have her. Aside from sentimental reasons, I also love her strength and sarcastic, don’t-mess-me nature. She was a lot of fun to write. One of my other favourites is Maya, who readers will meet in Book 3, “The Unclaimed Wolf”. She’s just so unique and awesome and I love her.

Helen: Writing feisty characters must be great fun. Tell us a little about your work in progress, you have few projects on the go, haven’t you?

Erin: As I recently finished the first draft of the series’ finale, I’ve put that aside for a while to rest and gotten back into a novella I’ve been working on for a while. While I can’t say too much about it yet, I will say that it’s pretty different from my previous work. The setting is modern day Seattle, there’s zero fantasy or magical creatures, and some of the language is a bit stronger than my usual YA novels (Although, I’m still not into writing sex scenes. I’ll leave those for everyone else, heh.)But, it does carry my signature flow and pacing, so I’m hoping fans of The Shendri will enjoy this , as well. And if not, at least I’m having fun writing it!

Helen: That is so amazing. I think switching genre is very brave. How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Erin: Music, usually. I love to lie in the dark with a steady flow of music in my ears and just feel the stories and characters as they flow through me. It’s also my go-to method for dealing with writer’s block.

Helen: It’s great you have a technique to combat writer’s block. Aspiring authors take note! You are also a great reader aren’t you? What have you read recently?

Erin: So, anyone who follows me on Twitter (@estavs) or Instagram (@e.p.stavs) probably knows what a huge book nerd I am, and since joining the Writing Community last April, I’ve read and reviewed approximately 60 indie books. Many of which I’ve recently started featuring on my Instagram site. Some recent favourites include Eva Alton’s “Witch’s Mirror”, Carol Beth Anderson’s “The Vine Eater”, Anya Pavelle’s “The Garden of Stone Houses”, Allison Martine’s “Move on, Melinda”, and, most recently, T.M.Kohl’s “The Warriors of Bhrea: The Lost King”. But these are only a handful of the many awesome books I’ve read this year alone. So much talent!

Helen: I agree, we are fortunate there are so many fantastic authors keeping us supplied with amazing books. Thank you so much for joining me today. It has been lovely chatting with you, just one last question, having read so much, who is your favourite author?

Erin: While it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite author (I mean, I’ve been reading since I was four…), the author who’s had the biggest impact on me is Melanie Cellier. I started reading her young adult, fairytale re-imaginings on Kindle Unlimited well before I’d gathered the motivation to finally write a novel of my own. I loved the way she wove bits of familiar tales into a fantastical world all of her own, with each story effortlessly flowing into the next. When I finally finished my first book and started thinking about which route to try – traditional or indie – I couldn’t help but look her up to see who she was published through. And then, to discover she was an indie author? It absolutely blew my mind and changed my perspective on self-publishing completely. Here was a woman with an extensive catalogue of beloved books, all of which had at least a few hundred reviews to their title, and she was indie! It was that realization that pushed me toward indie myself, and I’m so glad I did!

About E.P.Stavs:

Erin Stavrides grew up in various parts of Upstate New York, where she became a regular at the public libraries, checking out book upon book upon book. Not even bedtime could stop her from reading, thanks to a handy flashlight kept close by.

Erin married her husband, Michael, in the Fall of 2007, and the couple moved across country to Seattle, Washington soon after, where Erin worked as a math teacher. When baby girl number one came along, however, she decided she’d had more than enough teaching to last a lifetime and decided to be a stay-at-home mom, instead. Five years and two daughters later, she finally found the time and motivation to follow through on her ultimate dream – writing books of her very own.

When she’s not reading, writing, or mom-ing, Erin enjoys taking long walks with her headphones on, playing Age of Empires 3 with her husband, and taking that first sip of coffee in the morning. So good.

You can reach E.P.Stavs via social media on:


and purchase her book via Amazon:

The Marked Princess, Book One of the Shendri Series
Link to Paperback on: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Link to ebook on Amazon US | Amazon UK

The Searching Songbird Book Two of the Shendri Series:
Link to paperback on: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Link to ebook on: Amazon US | Amazon UK

The Unclaimed Wolf Book Three of the Shendri Series:
Link to ebook on: Amazon US | Amazon UK

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Time to talk about books!

I’m so excited that I just had to share! I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Anna J Walner on her YouTube channel ‘The Author Library’. Anna’s channel provides Indie Authors a platform to talk about their books and their love of writing and the processes that go into writing and publishing their own books.

If you want to find out more about my books, and the world building that went into creating them, then check out my interview here or click the image.

Make sure you check out some of the other Indie Author interviews, each offers their own insights into the world of writing and self-publishing.

I enjoyed chatting with Anna, another win to celebrate! Roll on launch day! Sentinals Rising will be available soon, make sure you add it to your Goodreads to be read list along with the first book Sentinals Awaken.

Or if you are Bookbub you can find them here:
Sentinals Awaken
Sentinals Rising

Or better yet order them now via Amazon.

Procrastination? We’re all good at that!

I’m sitting here drinking a glass of prosecco wondering what to write about. I should be editing my next book in the Sentinals series but I have spent the weekend procrastinating. Isn’t it funny how the mind works? How many things you can find to do instead of what you intended.

I have hoovered the house, done the washing – it was a gloriously sunny day here in the UK – eaten a box of biscuits that won’t be any good for my waistline and spent the afternoon scrolling through twitter and Instagram. Been pinned to the sofa whilst Alfie had a kip so I joined him for a snooze as I couldn’t get to the keyboard! And now I’m writing a blog post.

Now I’m feeling guilty that I haven’t made progress with my edits, (and about the box of biscuits!). I’m also quietly excited about the fact that my second novel will release on March 17th

With release day approaching, I should be feeling a sense of accomplishment, but I feel pressured to get book three complete. That is pressure I’m putting on myself for some reason, and then I remember that you have to celebrate the small wins as well as the big wins. If you only celebrate the huge wins, then the expectation you place on yourself is to constantly achieve at that level and you miss the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy your journey. 

  • Just completing a novel is an achievement. Lots of people have ideas, but to write them down, edit and polish it into a finished product, not so many achieve that. Time to Celebrate!
  • Learning how to self-publish, complete the interior formatting, cover design, launch plan. Lots of accomplishments to celebrate.
  • Sending the book out to some of your peers for review. (eek!) Celebrate being brave!

Each step is a win to be enjoyed. Each is an achievement taking me closer to the launch day. And so, I’m drinking a glass of prosecco. I may not have done much editing this weekend, but I let go of my second novel. It’s in the hands of my peers who also write, the hardest audience of all to appease.

Next week I have an interview to record. Another small win; well, it feels like a big win! and then we will be approaching launch day.

Make sure you celebrate the small wins; you’ll enjoy the huge accomplishments even more!

Author Interview – Sloane McClain

Author of Holding out for a Hunter

For today’s author interview I am joined by the American author Sloane McCain. Author of the Pendragon series and now the first book in the Hunter Chronicles Holding out for a Hunter.

Welcome Sloane. I am a fan of your Pendragon books so I am excited you branched out to tell us more about the Hunters. To start us off please tell us about your latest book.

Sloane: I just released my fourth book in January 2021 (earlier this month). It’s titled Holding Out For A Hunter, and is the first in The Hunter Chronicles series, a companion series to my Sons of Pendragon. This new series deals with Hunters. They’re Halflings, half-human, half-fairy. When they reach their late teens or early twenties, they develop their powers. They use them to fight evil and capture creatures bent on mayhem and destruction that have been sent by the Dark Fairy. The Good Fairy pay them very well for their help.

While Sons of Pendragon will be limited to seven books (unless I go into the next generation), the Hunter Chronicles can have as many books as I can think up ideas for.

Helen: I must admit I couldn’t put it down. I love your characters and the world you’ve created. Tell us about the genre you write and why.

Sloane: I write romances with strong fantasy and paranormal overtones. It’s my favorite genre to read (though I read medieval, Scottish, Regency, and contemporary books) because I love the HEA—Happily Ever After endings. When the world is crazy, I want something that doesn’t give me any nasty surprises at the end. I like being assured that no matter how rocky the road, the end is going to be a good one.

Helen: And your characters are so lovely, certainly not perfect, as you’ll find out in Holding out for a Hunter. Max’s idea of being romantic just made me laugh. How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Sloane: Nearly everything has the potential to give me a story idea. A photograph or painting. Songs. A conversation. So many things. Anything that makes me think, ‘what if?’ Sons of Pendragon came out of my love for King Arthur and wishing he’d at least had children. The Hunter Chronicles sometimes come from the song that I use for the titles. Like Holding Out For A Hunter. The sequel, which I hope to release in March, is titled I Belong To The Hunter, a play on the Caro Emerald song, I Belong To You. In that instance, the song didn’t inspire the story, but it seemed to fit the story.

Helen: I can’t wait for I Belong to a Hunter, but I hope there is Pendragon book number 4 coming soon! You can find my book review of Book One Dragon’s Grace here. Do you you find you plan out your books or do they just flow naturally?

Sloane: I’m definitely a panster. I’ve tried outlining a couple of times, but my characters laughed at the attempt and went in their own direction. For me, writing is like watching this moving play out in my head and trying to write down what’s happening as quickly as I can. Luckily for me, I seem to be able to hit the pause button when I have to stop for work or to let my dogs in or out.

Helen: There seems to be two camps about whether silence is golden while working. I’m a fan of listening to music when I write (or edit!). Do you like to listen to music while you work?

Sloane: Yes, I often listen to music while I write. I have a station I’ve made on Pandora called Straight No Chaser. It plays music by them as well as other groups that I like:  Michael Bublé, Pentatonix, Imagine Dragons, Celtic Thunder & Celtic Women, American Authors, Secret Garden, and several others. I have rather eclectic taste in music.

Helen: It’s what works that is important and music can be just as inspiring as the written word. Tell us, do you have a favourite character from your books?

Sloane: My favorite character is a recurring secondary character named Stiabhan Iorworth. He’s full-blooded Sidhe. In human terms he’s around thirty to thirty-five. Though several centuries removed, he’s an uncle to many Hunters. He has recently begun to take an interest in their lives, coming to help them in their battles. He loves a good fight. He’s learning idioms and slang, card games like poker, and driving a vehicle. He’s enjoying helping his relatives which helps him in turn take his mind from the tragedy in his personal life. Some of his scenes add some comic relief to the stories. Like one in the third Hunter’s book, where he goes to a beauty salon. You’ll just have to wait to read it to find out what happens. LOL!

Helen: He sounds like a great character to have fun with, and I can imagine many humorous scenarios and misunderstandings! Most writers are also great readers. Which book have you read most recently?

Sloane: Your book is one of the most recent. I loved it! Also, Hidden Magic by Elena McDougal. I would recommend them both.

Helen: I am so glad you enjoyed Sentinals Awaken. I am looking forward to releasing my second book in the series, Sentinals Rising on March 17th, so exciting times. It has been lovely spending time with you, Sloane, thank you so much for sharing a little bit about yourself and your novels. To finish us off, if you didn’t write romantic fantasy, what genre would you like to write next?

Sloane: If I didn’t write romances, I’d probably write straight fantasy. I actually wrote a YA one while I was in college, but it’s not very good. I would love to write mysteries. I think that would be fun. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have the right mindset for them. At least so far, my attempts have been horrible. So I’ll stick to romance.

About Sloane:

Both of my parents loved reading and instilled in me a love for reading and writing. That was one thing that I could count on them saying yes to buying me–a new book.

Besides writing and animals, I love reading (TBR pile is outrageous), photography, cross-stitch, and anything with Henry Cavill or Jason Momoa in it. And don’t even get me started on Dean Winchester of Supernatural.

I spent my early years in West Virginia, where my father taught college. When he retired, the family moved back to his home state of South Carolina.

I currently live in South Carolina with two very spoiled rescue dogs. One tries to lick people into submission and the younger one believes he’s still a lapdog at 95lbs.

You can reach Sloane via social media on:


and purchase her book via Amazon:

Holding out for a Hunter, Book One of the Hunter Chronicles
Link to ebook on: Amazon UK
Link to ebook on Amazon US

Dragons Grace Book One of the Pendragon Series:
Link to ebook on: Amazon UK
Link to ebook on: Amazon US

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Rosalyn Briar

Author of A Sea of Pearls and Leaves

Today I have the pleasure of chatting with Rosalyn Briar. Author of the fairy tale retelling A Sea of Pearls and Leaves.

Welcome Rosalyn. Thank you so much for joining me. To start us off please tell us about your latest book.

Rosalyn: My most recent release is a dark fantasy fairy tale retelling called A Sea of Pearls & Leaves. It is a retelling of the Grimm’s Fairy Tale “The Three Snake-Leaves,” but with a twist.

Helen: It is a lovely story, and I must admit I didn’t know the fairy tale until I read your book. For me, it was a new story which was lovely. You can find my book review here. Tell us about the genre you write and why.

Rosalyn: I write dark fantasy and it’s usually some sort of fairy tale retelling. I have always loved fairy tales, folklore, and mythology, so dark fantasy allows me to play with those themes while adding magic and a dash of horror. 

Helen: Such fun! and you get to rewrite the heroes and villains how you want them. Who do you prefer writing about, the good guys or the bad guys?

Rosalyn: Although I certainly love my heroes and enjoy writing them, there is definitely a special place in my heart for villains. I think this is because when reading books or watching movies, I am usually rooting for the villain, especially if they have unique powers or strong motivations. The next book I am planning actually has a hero-to-villain arc or a “fall to evil” arc for the main character—so essentially a villain origin story. I look forward to diving into how a villain comes to be.

Helen: The art of writing is so complex, so much to think about! Do you prefer writing over editing?

Roslayn: I actually enjoy editing more! I can edit with smaller chunks of time, which makes it easier for me to do with my kids around. Writing, I need long spans of time alone, which are hard to come by. I also enjoy how editing really brings the story together and how each little “layer” of edits can improve the story.

Helen: I think with editing a rough idea becomes more polished. In the excitement of getting words on the paper, grammar goes out the window. When you correct everything the ideas and phrases become so much stronger and it feels so good when the story flows naturally and you know the reading experience is so much better. You have young children, so I bet you are a natural storyteller, but how do you fit in the writing?

Rosalyn: Since I have young children, it can be difficult to write during the daytime (especially this year since I’m helping my oldest with her e-learning for Kindergarten). So, I wake up early to do my writing and get the words down!

Helen: That must be really early! I am a night owl, I must admit I write more late at night. One element of self-publishing I love is designing the book cover. Tell us how you came up with the cover for your book.

Rosalyn: For A Sea of Pearls & Leaves, I wanted the cover to pay homage to the original tale “The Three Snake-Leaves.” So, I knew I wanted a snake and for the cover to have a watery feel. I sketched out the image of the cut up snake with leaves growing out of it and sent that to my cover designer, and they definitely brought the cover to life!

Helen: It is gorgeous and very striking. I love the colour scheme. Thank you so much for chatting with me. Last question, I promise. If you didn’t write fantasy, which other genre tempts you to write a book?

Rosalyn: I would love to write mystery/thrillers. I have always been a fan of reading them and enjoy the twists and turns and secretive characters. Maybe someday, if I feel confident enough, I’ll write one, but writing those takes a lot of skill when it comes to plotting and outlining.

Rosalyn Briar is a former teacher who is married to her high school sweetheart. Together, they have built a beautiful life and have two fearless daughters. Rosalyn is obsessed with gothic fairy tales, scary movies, sun dresses, traveling, and reading books. She is the published author of The Crown of Bones and A Sea of Pearls & Leaves, both of which are fairy tale retellings. Rosalyn is also the host of #NovelBuilding, a daily Twitter question with monthly themes for fellow writers to connect. When Rosalyn isn’t writing or reading, you can find her playing dress up with her two princesses or exploring the woods for wildflowers.

You can reach Rosalyn via her Website or via social media at:


and purchase her book via Amazon:

Link to ebook on: Amazon UK
Link to paperback on Amazon UK

Link to ebook on Amazon US
Link to paperback on Amazon US

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Rebecca Lange

Author of Joining Hearts for Christmas

As we welcome in 2021, I wish everyone a safe and happy new year.

My first author interview of the new year is with German author Rebecca Lange. Author of many novels, the most recent of which is Joining hearts for Christmas.

Welcome Rebecca, thank you so much for joining me today. To start us off please tell what genre you write and why.

Rebecca: My last book release was a regency romance novella. “Joining Hearts For Christmas” is a light-hearted Christmas love story and was to try out that genre and have a book out for Christmas. I never thought I would write regency anything, but this year I read two books by new authors that made me fall in love with the time and characters, and so I thought I would give it a try as well. It was a pretty last-minute thing and not planned at all, but it somehow worked out. It always amazes me how a simple thought or idea can turn into an actual book.

Helen: I agree, all you need is a spark and the creative juices start flowing and before you know it you’re half way though a book. The key of course is to finish it, so congratulations on releasing Joining Hearts for Christmas. So if Regency romance is new for you, what genre do you normally write?

Rebecca: I write clean Young Adult Fiction, Christian Fantasy, and Historical Fiction. Although I target pretty intense topics in my books, it is important to me that my stories are clean and suitable even for teenagers. I don’t particularly appreciate reading books that include sex and explicit violence or foul language. Violence can’t always be avoided with specific topics, but it doesn’t need to be super descriptive. Foul language and sex aren’t necessary for a book, in my opinion. There are less offensive words to use, and well, my imagination is pretty good, so I don’t need a sex scene described to me. I love swoony, clean, heart-flattering romance, but hot and steamy is not my thing.

Helen: Where do you get the ideas for your novels?

Rebecca: It depends. Sometimes from a book I read, a movie I watched, but mostly just from a thought that pops in my head and slowly develops into more. I am not a planner, but lately, I have had so many new ideas that I had to make notes not to forget certain details while finishing other projects. Since I am currently writing a book and started a second one, other ideas come alive in my mind and occupy my brain. It gets a bit overwhelming and exhausting at times, but I love how I can picture scenes and where I want the story to go. 

Photo credit: Aaron Burden (Unspash)

Helen: With so many ideas bubbling, what are you currently writing?

Rebecca: I am writing two right now. One is close to being finished and will be my next release. It is called “Grandfather’s Will.” Here is the blurb to give you an idea of what it is about:

After billionaire Henry Woodruff loses several family members in a horrible accident, Rebecca McNeil and her siblings are now the only relatives left he can trust. Although they never desired to be put into his will, he has no choice but to make his grandchildren the official heirs. Henry has every reason to believe that the tragic plane crash was not just an unfortunate accident but a planned murder. Feeling that his children were somehow involved, he has to come up with a plan.

Fearing for his grandchildren’s lives, Henry moves them from Edmonton to Valemount to keep them safer and more protected. When Rebecca nearly dies after a vicious attack, Henry hires two mounties to keep an eye on her and her siblings. Before long, everyone realizes that the shy young woman is the main target. Keeping her alive and unharmed turns into a full-time job. As if the everyday fight against someone wanting to murder her isn’t enough, Rebecca faces a battle with her past demons. Not wanting to get hurt again, she fights the growing feelings towards one of her protectors and puts up a wall to guard her heart. Will she be able to let go of the past and find her happily ever after?

Helen: Sounds intriguing. I look forward to seeing it released. What are your favourite characters to write? Heroes or villains?

Rebecca: I like both, but it is easy for me to get attached to my characters, and when that happens, and I think about changing the story a bit, it becomes almost impossible for me to make a character I already like bad. It is funny how they become real for us authors. However, when I create a villain, I can hate them fiercely if they attack my main character/s, even though I know it is silly since I made them all and the situations.

Helen: As you write different genres, do you find you have to do a lot research?

Rebecca: It depends on what the book is about. Some require a lot more research than others. For example, for my Regency novella, I had to research England and Wales a bit, so I had an idea where I wanted my story to take place. Most of the story is set in Wales, Monmouthshire, to be exact. One of the people who read and reviewed my book told me that they live pretty close to Monmouthshire, and apparently, I described things in a way that she and her sister thought I had already been there but never have.

My new novel takes place in Canada, and so again, I had some research to do to find the right areas for my story to take place. It is interesting. For my third Heavenly Bodyguards book, I had to do quite a bit of research since the story included conspiracy, mafia dealings, and murder. I researched different ways of how to kill a person, sedation, and all that. It was frightening, yet interesting to learn of illegal things like Rohypnol and Black Mamba venom and what it does to people. Since part of the story is taking place in and around the White House in Washington, I also had to check out the White House floor plan and surrounding areas to make things work for my story. I try to make things as accurate as possible if I can.

Helen: That sounds time consuming, but it is so important for our facts to be correct so we don’t jar a reader out of the story, especially when the setting is a real place. One of the fun parts of self-publishing is choosing a book cover. How do you decide what will be on the cover of your books?

Rebecca: When I first started self-publishing, I just chose one of my pictures of nature. For my first Heavenly Bodyguards book, I chose a photograph of a mountain in Scotland since the story is set in Scotland, and I thought that worked well. I then used pictures from KDP, which they offer for free, and I liked them. Still, during the last two years, I not only asked friends to help me choose a good cover that attracts and speaks to them, but I did a lot of research on cover images. I found out that there are websites where photographers post their pictures or artwork. You can use them for free without having to worry about copyrights. So, my current covers are chosen with the help of friends and from those websites. Some of the pictures are simply incredible.

Helen: Along with writing a new book there is also editing. Which do you prefer?

Rebecca: Writing, even though I have come to appreciate the hard work of editing, after learning so much about it and seeing how difficult and time-consuming it is. It does feel good, though, when your story is edited and ready to be published.

Helen: Most authors are also great readers. Which book are you currently reading?

Rebecca: I started “Marked” by Stephanie Whitfield. It is the second book in her series, and I really liked the first one already, so I am excited to see how the story continues.

Helen: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. As a final word, and as a self-published author, what advice would you give new authors?

Rebecca: I would tell them to go for what they love and not let anything stop them and listen to those around them and the suggestions they might make. Finding a traditional publisher or agent is an excellent goal to have, but if they can’t find one or can’t handle rejections any longer, I would tell them that there are other ways to get their work out there without having to pay tons of money. I find publishing houses that take your money upfront a rip-off, but that’s just me. I still have my acting lessons in mind in which we were drilled not to pay an agent upfront or to redo headshots because they wanted you to use “their suggestion.” I know it works for some, but I don’t have that kind of money to pay thousands of dollars to have my book published, only hoping I could make up for it in sales. Self-publishing is a great way to keep your work your own, but it also comes with difficulties like facing editing and marketing.

Rebecca is a mom of two boys (13 and 15 years old), has been married to her husband for over 16 years, and is currently living in Germany. She was born and raised in Germany but moved to the US after meeting her husband in Scotland at a wedding. (That in itself is a super cool and crazy story.)

Her love for writing started early. Even as a child, she enjoyed writing stories. As a teenager, escaping reality took place whenever she had a good book in her fingers, her own stories, or watched romantic movies. She has a vivid imagination, so it is easy for her to disappear into a different world. She avoids specific genres because of her imagination, but she is still grateful that she can picture things so vividly. She is a hopeless romantic but likes it when the books she writes or reads (or movies she watches) have a bit of everything.

She writes Young Adult Fiction/ Christian Fantasy and Historical Fiction. Still, her readers will also find drama, heartbreak, romance, humor, suspense, lots of sarcasm, and sass (a must for her since she is fluent in both), inspirational thoughts, and faith in her books.

You can reach on Rebecca via her Website

and purchase her book via Amazon:

Link to ebook on: Amazon UK
Link to paperback on Amazon UK

Link to ebook on Amazon US
Link to paperback on Amazon US

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Are you in control?

As we enter the new year, and many of us think about what we want to achieve over the next twelve months, I am reminded of a blog I wrote about six or seven years ago to support International Women’s Day.

At the time I was tussling with many personal problems and trying to figure out what I wanted. What did I want out of life, instead of allowing others to push me around to fit what they wanted. It took a while and many glasses of wine and finally I created a mood board. I expect most people know what mood boards are nowadays, but in a nutshell its a board where you pin all your thoughts, ideas and dreams about a topic. You cut out pictures from magazines that encapsulate what you want to achieve, (and drink a bit more wine). For me, it was what do I want to do with my life?

By physically writing down, or pinning pictures of what you want to achieve makes your goal a reality, something tangible that you want to achieve, and you begin to take conscious steps to move you towards achieving it. You now have a target, and you can start planning how to reach it.

I decided life was too short to waste on things that I didn’t enjoy. I wanted to enjoy my job, and I wanted to write. I wanted to move house to the country, or maybe near the sea, preferably with my mum.

So I started looking for houses with my mum, travelling around the south of England and visiting many villages and seaside towns. I began capturing ideas for a novel, and investigated what job opportunities there were within my company. I didn’t necessarily want to leave, but I didn’t like the direction I was going in. Everything came to a grinding halt when my mum fell ill with breast cancer, underwent a mastectomy and finally passed away. The moving house impetus died with her, and although I still think of moving, I don’t know where to move to! So I haven’t.

I actually put pen to paper and started writing to fill in the extra time I suddenly had and I suppose as an escape, and found that I really enjoyed it. I started researching into how to edit and the authors journey and began to plan how to self publish my first novel. I never really considered going the traditional publishing route as I wasn’t prepared to let go of my story.

I suppose I am not the greatest example of a successful mood board! But plans change, and I think sometimes its as much about resetting goals as circumstances change around you and staying true to what makes you happy.

I am happiest when I am lost in my magical worlds writing about my wonderful characters and putting them though hell. It doesn’t really matter where I live, as I work from home. Which makes it all the more difficult to decide where in the UK to move to. I think it may be time to start searching for that writer’s nest with space for a study and a library! I need to create a mood board for my idyllic home, identify those must haves and who knows, I may even find it.

  • Detached
  • Cottage
  • Quiet (no trains, planes, automobiles)
  • Not too hilly (My knees…)
  • Study
  • Library
  • Internet (Fast!)
  • Cat friendly
  • Near the sea
  • Lovely view

It’s a start! Who knows 2021 may be the year of the move.

Author Interview – Emily Noon

Author of Aurora’s Angel

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and received lots of lovely books in your Christmas stocking. I must admit I have a few to keep me busy in between all the editing I need to do!

I was fortunate enough to chat with Lambda Literary award winner, and author of Aurora’s Angel, Emily Noon before Christmas and here is the interview.

Welcome Emily. To start us off please tell what genre you write and why.

Emily: My first love is fantasy. Probably because some of my fondest childhood memories are of my mother reading me stories of magical worlds filled with ancient gods, strange monsters and questing heroes having epic adventures.

Helen: Parents are so important for encouraging a love of books at an early age. My mum was an avid book reader too, and I was just as fortunate to be introduced to a wide range of genres. Tell us about your book, Aurora’s Angel.

Emily: Aurora’s Angel is a blend of action, adventure and romance centred around shapeshifters set in Nordarra, a world of my creation. I’ve been told it reads like a cross between epic and urban fantasy and that the immersive world building combined with great characters/plot makes this an enjoyable read, even for people who don’t usually like fantasy. It won a Lambda Literary Award. The audiobook was recently released and is narrated by Abby Craden, who did a fabulous job bringing the story to life.

Helen: Congratulations on releasing your Audiobook version. I have yet to venture down the audio route. There is so much involved in writing a novel, tell a little about your writing process. Are you a planner or a pantser? Preferring to make it up as you go.

Emily: I wish I was a planner because that would be so much quicker. I’ve sat down and planned entire books, from start to finish, complete with all the subheadings only to find it was like trying to work with something lifeless. If I don’t allow my imagination to explore the ideas that pop up, the creative process dries up and writing grinds to a halt. I learned that the hard way. So now I start writing with a rough idea of where the story is heading, but also explore the images and fragments of dialog that pop into my head. I’ve been astounded how often seemingly random pieces have ended up slotting perfectly together, like I’d been handed pieces of a puzzle and I just had to figure out where they fit into the big picture.

Photo credit: Iroji Iwata (Unspash)

Helen: I agree, I write in a similar way. It is magical when it all fits together. Did you need to do much research for your book?

Emily: I get hung up on getting tiny details perfect so I have to watch myself. I can easily get carried away with too much research. For instance – there is a small passage in my novel where I mention dogs being raised with the sheep they are meant to guard so they’ll imprint and form a strong protective bond. I spent hours reading and watching videos about that!

Helen: It’s easily done. It’s surprising what you find yourself looking up, just to make sure you get the facts right. So, tell us, do you prefer the writing or the editing?

Emily: I find great joy in the creative process of writing, of letting my imagination run wild. That’s the fun part. It’s like playing with clay to see what shapes I can create. I find editing satisfying on a different level. Once the first draft is complete, then starts the process of shaping the rough draft into the polished product. Its painstaking work but I love seeing it get better with every round of editing.

Helen: And, finally, tell us a little about the environment you like too write in. Do you put in silence, gazing of into the distance or surround yourself in music?

Emily: Creatively it can be helpful to play music that fits the theme/mood of the scene I’m working on and can even be a source of inspiration. For example: I chose the name of one of my main characters, Aurora, after I saw the music video called Runaway by the artist Aurora. The haunting tune, the breath-taking scenery and the powerful image of a young girl running alone in a snow-covered forest, fit so well. The lake that features in the song inspired me to write a scene in which two dragon-shifters flew over it in the moonlight, while performing an intricate aerial mating dance.

Helen: That sounds gorgeous, and I can’t wait to read your book, which is currently sitting in my tbr pile. Thank you so much, Emily, for spending time with us today. We wish you all the best with your book: Aurora’s Angel.

Emily Noon always liked reading fantasies with a dark twist and if there was a romance between strong main characters to sweeten the deal, even better. After years of working in libraries while in secret creating magical worlds and lightly torturing her characters before giving them a happy ending, she decided to let them loose on the unsuspecting world. Her debut novel, Aurora’s Angel, won a Lambda Literary Award.

You can reach on Emily on social media:





and purchase her book via Amazon:

Link to ebook on: Amazon UK
Link to paperback on Amazon UK
Link to Audiobook on Amazon UK

Link to ebook on Amazon US
Link to paperback on Amazon US
Link to Audiobook on Amazon US

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Deonne Williams

Author of Fae Song

This month, I am talking to Deonne Wiliams, author of the magical novel Fae Song.

Fae Song is a a beautifully written book. Deonne has created a wonderful world, with characters that are so clearly drawn and true to their foibles. A book of gentle magic and music and yet an undercurrent of conflict runs beneath it all, so all is not as peaceful at it seems. I read Fae Song back in the summer and you can find my book review here.

Welcome Deonne. To start us off please tell what made you start writing.

Deonne: I had way too many stories popping into my head, so I just started writing them down.

Helen: That sounds like there must be a second book in the offing, I am so glad we will get to visit Shae and Gwynn again. Why did you choose to write Fantasy?

Deonne: I have always written fantasy because it lets me change the world my characters live in, create new kinds of beings and different sorts of magic. I have found that my writing also fits well into Young Adult categories as I have neither the desire nor the ‘skill’ to write more steamy types of things.

Helen: Yes, you have a gentle, descriptive way of writing which is truly immersive, and very enjoyable. As you build your world do you need to much research?

Deonne: Since I write fantasy, classic types of research such as fitting something into historical context is not a requirement. I do often research languages though when I’m looking to create a word or term for something in my world.

Photo credit: Gill Dollar (Unspash)

Helen: You live in Florida, so nice balmy weather. Where is your favourite place to write?

Deonne: I would prefer to write on the shaded porch of a beach house but that isn’t currently something I have available. In practice, I prefer to write at my desk on my laptop.

Helen: Wouldn’t we all? The sound of the sea swishing in the background, a soothing backdrop for creativity. I can almost smell the salty waves! So unfortunately, no beach front, when do you find the time to write?

Deonne: It is often tough to find uninterrupted time, so most of my writing is done in the wee hours of the night.

Helen: I must admit, I tend to tend to write late into the night as well. I love your cover, simple but elegant, what made you choose it?

Deonne: So far I have only chosen one but my deciding factor was that I didn’t want my book to have a cover that looked like every other fantasy cover out there with either someone swinging a sword or tossing fireballs.

Helen: Thank you so much, Deonne, for spending time with us today. We wish you all the best with your book: Fae Song.

Deonne lives on the sandbar known as Florida. She is happily married to Rory and blissfully owned by a stunning mare named Kay Kay and a demanding over-familiar tuxedo cat named Ritz.

You can reach on social media:

Amazon Author page 





and purchase her book via Amazon:

Link to ebook on: Amazon UK
Link to Paperback on Amazon UK

Link to ebook on Amazon US
Link to paperback on Amazon US

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Jordan Bell

Author of Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution

I’ve always thought encouraging children to engage and learn more about our world is very important, and today I am chatting with the Australian author of Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution, Jordan Bell.

Welcome Jordan. To start us off please tell us a little about your book.

Jordan: My first published book was Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution, a book which takes the real science of evolution and explains it in a way that primary school kids can understand. Fully illustrated in colour, it’s a chapter book that helps kids understand how the diversity of life, in all its glorious creativity, came to exist. Unpacking the concepts of inheritance, variation, and selection, the reader joins twins Sophie and Matt on a science adventure to understand evolution.

Helen: What made you want to write about STEM topics and for young children at that?

Jordan: I write Children’s STEM, for kids in the upper primary years – because the ideas in my books aren’t introduced by the school system until high school, but I think that’s too late! Kids are absolutely capable of understanding scientific theories if they are presented in the right way, and it’s crucial to their developing worldview that we get real science into their brains early. I deeply believe that we need a scientifically aware and well-educated citizenry to face the challenges of the future – I think my books contribute to this need.

Helen: How do you choose what to write about? Which topic are you tackling next?

Jordan: After I published Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution, I asked my readers what topics they’d be interested to hear more about. Overwhelmingly, with the Australian bushfires in the news globally, they said they wanted an Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change – so that’s what I’m focussing on now. Coming up in the future will be a Guide to the human body, and a Guide to the universe.

I’m currently at the end of an initial draft of Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change. Once I finish this draft and polish it, it will be sent to a climate scientist for review, to make sure all of the scientific detail is spot on, and then I’ll look at another round of edits from feedback from beta readers.

Charles Darwin

Helen: With such specific topics, and the need to get your facts spot on, how much time to you spend on research?

Jordan: I research extensively. My general science knowledge is strong, from my undergraduate science degree and my wide-ranging reading, but to make sure I’m really getting the science correct, I read widely and deeply into the specific topic I’m tackling. Each of my books is also peer-reviewed by a leading scientist in the field to make sure there are no errors of fact. When you’re introducing big ideas to little minds, it’s a sacred trust, and I take that responsibility seriously.

Helen: I would think that is a lot of work, how do you fit it all in?

Jordan: I work full time and I have a 7-year old, so it’s a case of “making time”. I’ve recently hatched a plan with my husband to take our daughter to school two mornings a week, so I can have an hour of writing time before work on those two days. I think about my work a lot, and do some research when I have free time, but actual “fingers to keys” is just those two hours a week at the moment. It’s been very productive already though; in the last three weeks I’ve added 2000 words to the manuscript, as well as re-read everything I’ve written so far (16,000 words) and given it a light edit.  

Helen: With such a busy life, I would suppose you have to plan everything to find time to write, but are you still a planner when you write? Many writers are called ‘pantsters ‘ as they write freeform.

Jordan: Definitely a planner, although my work doesn’t always follow my plans. I usually start by roughing out chapters with a short summary of what will happen in each one, eg “In the first chapter, Matt and Sophie are on a fieldwork weekend with Aunt Jodie; she has taken them out camping while she assists in sample collection with Dr T. Sophie and Matt are curious about the purpose of the work, and so around the campfire at night, Aunt Jodie and Dr T explain the key components of climate change science to the twins.” But often, a piece of work that I think I can manage in a chapter ends up taking two or more chapters to explain, as I’ve underestimated how much there is to say!

Helen: I can imagine! I bet you had fun choosing your cover design, such a myriad of possibilities.

Jordan: My illustrator, Gabriel Cunnett ( came up with the concept – the three main characters reading together, but transported to a pre-historic setting, as they used their imaginations to “travel” in time. I loved the job he did in bringing the characters to life in such a vibrant way.

Helen: I agree, I think most children would be drawn to your book. One final question, do you have any advice for other aspiring writer’s out there?

Jordan: It’s practically a cliché, but, “write a lot, and read a lot”. Read widely – both within your genre and outside it, you never know when new ideas and inspiration might hit. And show other people your writing, and be open to their feedback – it’s painful and scary but can push you to grow and develop. What’s in your head doesn’t always make it to the page, so having a trusted second pair of eyes on your work can help you round out what needs to be explained.
I also often listen to a meditation before writing, I like this one that helps you unlock your creativity: but there are lots of others out there. I think getting centred and calm helps me focus on the work in front of me and not get too distracted by everything else that is happening in my life.

Helen: Thank you so much, Jordan, for spending time with us today. We wish you all the best with your book: Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change. You can find out more about Jordan and where you can purchase her book here.

Jordan is a psychologist and educator, with a passion for science communication. She has a PhD in Educational Resilience, but is also a nerdy parent who loves reading to her daughter. When she couldn’t find enough children’s fiction with a strong STEM message to help her daughter learn about the world, she wrote Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution. She believes that understanding the theory of evolution is an important key to scientific literacy for our developing citizens. Jordan prefers writing in her local café with a pot of strong tea, so the COVID19 lockdown was a challenge, but she’s adapted her writing routines for the moment. She loves reading science fiction and long walks in nature. Jordan is currently working on her second book, Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change. Follow her at or for more information or for cool science links. She’s also on Twitter @AuntJodiesGuide