Author Interview – Monique Edenwood

Author of The Black Oak series

Today I have the pleasure of chatting with fellow indie author Monique Edenwood about her Blackwood Oak series and all things writing and more! To start us off, Monique, tell us about your latest novel.

Monique: I’m currently working on book 4 (out of 5) of my Black Oak series which is a dark romance series within the genre of romantic suspense. The books is called Embers of Black Oak and is out on September 24th. At the crux of the series is a love triangle between the heroine Jessynia, the powerful and ruthless Jackson Wilder and his childhood friend and now sworn enemy, Cameron O’Neill, as equally powerful, dominant and damaged as his former friend. Both men love Jess to the point of madness and consider the other man dangerous. This triangle is the crux of the book, but as the series has unfolded, the subject of past trauma and how it affects our behavior has become one I’ve loved to explore as it’s a subject that is very close to my heart.

Helen: Not long now! Good luck with our forthcoming launch. How did you choose the cover design?

Monique: The cover of book one has a naked male torso on a black background with an oak tree bathed in dusky light at the top. My books are named after a dangerous secret society created by the outwardly respectable elite of Manhattan, the Black Oak Society or Quercus Velutina. I grew up surrounded by forests and have always been obsessed with trees and I knew I wanted the society to be named after a tree. After playing around with a few names and checking that Black Oak did not exist in this context anywhere on the web, I chose Black Oak as a recurring motif in the series titles.
I came across the picture of the man randomly while surfing stock pics and it just spoke to me. The fact that he’s standing so self-confidently and that you can’t see his face just felt so powerful to me, and all my books have an element of black in their background to represent the Black Oak society, of course, as well as the darkness of this dark romance.

Helen: You have four books written in the Dark Oak series, how did you begin writing this series?

Monique: I have to say my series has been on quite the adventure because I originally wanted to write a dark comedy, along the lines of the British author Tom Sharpe—totally outside the romance genre—about a wife who discovers that her husband is cheating on her and doesn’t tell him she knows, but sets off on a journey to slowly ruin his life in every way possible while trying to help him deal with all the calamities befalling him. So sadistic, lol!

It was really supposed to be just total comedic escapism. Once I had done a tiny bit of research and saw that romance was the biggest genre, and once I brought down that self-defence mechanism that wanted to turn this story into comedy, I realized that I wanted to really deep-dive into the bloody guts of a faltering relationship in a way that was raw and real and made you feel and think and question what you would do in the character’s shoes.

The very early chapters of the book deal with infidelity, dropping you right into the moment when the heroine, Jess, discovers her husband’s secret phone, but this is really just a catalyst to bring in Cameron O’Neill, the third man in the love triangle. He’s been in love with her for as long as he remembers and wants to her save her from her marriage, but he has demons of his own and the story ends up taking a lot of unexpected twists and turns. Realizing how much trauma was at play in the behavior of the characters really let me explore this subject and I hope it has made the whole series more powerful.

Helen: What genre do you write? What made you choose to write in this genre?

Monique: I write dark romantic suspense. My favorite author is Sylvia Day and years ago when I first read one of her books after picking it up at a bookstore without ever having heard of her before, I remember resonating so much with her Crossfire series and how raw and brutal it was and how deliciously deviant the hero was. I was shocked by the language he used and how graphic it was, but when I started to write, I realized I wanted my series to be raw and make you feel, and I find I can do that best within the genre of dark romance.

 One of the things I love exploring is the concept of duality. I love books that really make you think, throw you off balance and make you question what is right and wrong. I like to be shaken about a bit when I’m reading and I love doing that to my readers too! In my series, some of the characters behave in ways that are questionable, but it’s super important to me that they are still seen as human beings. I really don’t like to distill everything to just black and white, good vs. bad. I hate this way we have in the fictional world of reducing complex people to weak and strong or good and bad when most of us are a combination of these things depending on the circumstances.

When a character’s behavior is questionable, we may not like them, but then we learn about the trauma and abuse they may have suffered and perhaps start to rethink. So, to me, it’s important that books are not reduced to just tropes and that they take you on an emotional journey and really make you think and feel and question everything! Dark romance offers me that space as I don’t have to worry about how flawed the characters are. Messy and damaged characters with questionable instincts come with the territory and those are the ones I want to know the most.

Helen: It sounds like you have some very dominant characters in your novels. Who is your favourite character to write?

Monique: Sebastian Gravier. He is the head of the Black Oak Society and a dangerous sadist, murderer and prominent member of Manhattan’s high society. He is almost certainly an irredeemable character, but he is the most fascinating to me as unlike most psychopaths, he was not born that way. His soul and psyche fractured as a result of horrific and untreated narcissistic abuse on the part of one of his parents while the other stood back and did nothing to intervene, like a coward. The subject of parental abuse and narcissistic abuse is one that is not talked about enough in my opinion, so exploring this fascinating, dangerous, terrifying character and his origins has been just thrilling and very cathartic to me.

Helen: How do you get on with editing your books? Most writers prefer writing as it is more creative and freeflowing, yet editing you have to discipline yourself to look at every word.

Monique: I definitely prefer editing! I actually find the writing process quite painful but I am in heaven when editing. I love playing with words, rewriting sentences until they grab you by the throat or make you shudder from fear or pleasure.

Helen: Words are such fun! When not writing what do enjoy spending your time doing?

Monique: I am from the UK originally but have lived in beautiful British Columbia for several years as I have lots of family here. I love hiking through forests, writing under trees, swimming in the ocean, cycling, hot yoga and just being in nature and with my lovely friends and family.

Helen: Sounds lovely! I imagine reading fits in there somewhwere. Which books have your read recently that you would recommend?

Monique: I read the Tainted Love trilogy by RC Christiansen and it is so raw, so brutal and yet so beautiful. It just haunts me and even though it breaks a lot of the rules of romance, I highly recommend it. She’s just such a huge talent.

Helen: I have that trilogy on my tbr pile. I must find time to read it, but I know it will be raw and emotional, and I’m not int he right mindset yet. We’ve come to the end of time together, thank you so much for joining me. One last question. What advice would you give to new writers?

Monique: Thank you for having me!

I would say to really enjoy the writing process above all else and to realize that in the first year or so, your books are not necessarily going to take off. It will take some time to get traction and to become better known in the community. I’ve seen quite a few authors really suffer because they’ve been keen to have big sellers in their first year and it’s difficult in today’s highly competitive and saturated market. I would say to always write for yourself first, and I remind myself of that too when I read lots of opposing opinions about what the outcome of my series should be from my lovely group of readers.

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of writing primarily for the buzz of getting positive feedback from readers and I have actually seen authors post that that is the main reason why they write their books which I find so amazing. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing more glorious or uplifting than getting emails or messages from readers to tell you how much you’ve touched them with your books, but if you’re only writing for the high of having people read and tell you they loved it, then if they don’t, you’ll be devastated, and it becomes more about chasing the high of positive reinforcement at that point than about the joy of creating these magical characters that will live on forever. In the long run, if you write from your heart, things will always work out. If you write purely to get praise, that’s a dangerous place to be in.

I am so lucky to have really passionate readers who contact me on a daily basis, and who are very active in my Facebook group. Their support and enthusiasm is not something I expected to experience so early on in my author journey. They give me so much energy, even when they shout or sulk at me for things that the characters do, lol. However, they have some deliciously strong and opposing opinions and it’s easy to get lost in them, especially when you hate the idea of hurting or disappointing anyone.

That’s why your most important author relationship should always be with yourself and your characters before that with your readers, otherwise you will get lost trying to please everyone and second-guess yourself and your writing will suffer because of it, so staying connected to your characters above all else is the best way to make to make your amazing readers happy as well!

About the author:

I am the writer of the Black Oak Trilogy, the first novel of which is Enter The Black Oak. I love helping people escape their daily lives for a short while with the help of some intrigue, suspense and some smoking hot fictional boyfriends!

I am a British-Canadian author based in Vancouver, British Columbia and when I’m not reading or writing, I love hiking and cycling around beautiful Vancouver. I’m also an epic fantasy geek and lover of 80’s and 90’s music.

You can find more about Monique via:

FaceBook
Instagram
Author Newsletter
Tiktok

You can purchase the first book in Monique’s Black Oak series, Enter the Black Oak:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Philip J Dennis

Author of The Wrong Apocalypse

Join me as chat to Philip J Dennis about his novels and all things writing and more! To start us off, Philip, tell us about your latest novel.

Philip: My latest book is The Wrong Apocalypse. It was released back in February. It was an idea for a story I had years ago, before I had even started writing. It was simply a funny premise I had. People trapped in a sex shop during a zombie apocalypse. It’s just ridiculous enough to be funny. It wasn’t until I had been struggling with another story that this one came back to me. With the whole pandemic that I thought my zombie book was a little relevant. People trapped in doors, unable to see family and friends, communicating only through social media, only going out when strictly necessary. Throw in some references to real life and how different people handled or reacted, it practically wrote itself.

Helen: It’s weird how a pandemic can make crazy ideas seem reasonable, isn’t it? I love the fact the book practically wrote itself. The ideal type of book! How about the cover? Was that as easy to design?

Philip: When I had written my first book, Isaac’s Fall, I had no idea about cover design. I had images in my head of what I thought it should look like, but no way to pull it off. I could have paid for someone to design a professional cover but I couldn’t justify spending money on this hobby when there are bills to pay. So, I discovered Pixabay, and instead of getting an image of a person for the cover (I couldn’t find one that I liked anyway) I chose a silhouette. I used the same style for books two and three, and by the time I had completed the wrong apocalypse, I kind of felt that it was my style, my thing.

The cover of The Wrong Apocalypse was a group photo of me, my wife and some friends, edited to simple shadows with an abstract background of hues of red. It seemed to fit the tone of the book and my style of cover.

Helen: It’s actually quite eye catching, the more you look the more you see. The title sounds very apt for the novel. How did you come up with it?

Philip: The title came from the number of memes circulating during the pandemic, complaining that we were promised zombies for the end of the world. Basically, we were given the wrong apocalypse. It didn’t take long to come up with the title. It was the first idea I had and it stuck. I was opened to changing the title should I think of a better one, but I never did think of anything better. People seem to like the title. I’ve had people hear it and be intrigued.

Helen: What made you start writing? That moment when you first put pen to paper?

Philip: I started writing back in ’08, roughly. As corny as it sounded, I had a dream, a really vivid dream but just one scene long. As is usually the case when people dream, you’re already aware of the context and background. I don’t know if anyone else does it but sometimes I cast people in dreams. It might be family or friends, or in this case, Dennis Hopper was the character. Why him? No idea. I remember thinking though, at the time, I hadn’t even been watching him in anything. I told my girlfriend, now-wife, Jan, about the dream and the backstory, and she thought it was really interesting. She said that would work as a film or a book. I won’t go into the details of it, I might come back to it one day.

Anyway, I started to write it. I had no story arc, no bullet-pointed plan, just wrote to see where it took me. A little while later, Jan and I were talking. She said that she had started to write some stuff based on my dream.

         I was like, “Yeah. Cool. Me too. How much have you written?”

         Jan said, “Only about two pages. What about you?”

         I replied, “About sixty pages.”

I never did finish it. Well, I did, but nothing that was any good. The core idea is still good. I might come back to it. But writing that book got the ball rolling. From there, I started Isaac’s Fall. But this time I knew to plot out the story first. Sometimes, you need to know where it’s going. Or at least know the next few steps. There have been some WIP that never panned out. Even though I might have felt the story was good, I didn’t enjoy writing it or that it was too big for me.

Helen: What is your work day like? How do you fit writing into your daily life?

Philip: Any writer will tell you that routine is the key. And they would be correct. But sometimes, you need to snatch those moments of peace and quiet, and of inspiration when they come. I try to do some writing on my days off from work, between household chores, and when motivation strikes. Sometimes, it might be an hour of a night after my son has gone to bed but before exhaustion kicks in.

Helen: Finding time to write is the challenge. I have notebooks all over the house for when inspiration strikes. The odd scene out of the blue, and you have to capture it before it slips away. When writing do you listen to music? Or do you prefer silence?

Philip: There’s a saying, which I’ll now butcher, about the biggest part of writing is done away from the keyboard. I walk home from work most days. In that time, I listen to headphones. Spotify. Sometimes, a lyric from a song can paint an image for something that I’m working on. I was listening to Short Change Hero by The Heavy, and the music reminded me of a western, and a lone man walking out to meet a posse of outlaws, with no hope in the world of surviving. I thought that image would work well in The Wrong Apocalypse. A lone character, walking through the centre of the outdoor shopping centre, essentially sacrificing themselves for the rest of the group. The scene was never used in the book. I couldn’t find a way to make that fit logically, and I wasn’t going to force it in just for the sake of it.

But I’ve listened to different bands depending on the book. Isaac’s Fall, I listened to Slipknot. Harmony’s Choice, I listened to Evanescence and Noel Gallagher’s Highflying Birds. They become a, sort of, internal soundtrack to the books, helping to set the tone.

Helen: Some interesting choices, thank you for sharing them. Where do you find you are most productive, where you write the most?

Philip: Best place to write is not actually at a desk or a table. I spend my workday at a computer, at a desk, I don’t want to do the same when I get home. For me, it’s on the couch, feet up, laptop on my knee. As comfortable as possible for as long as possible. The last thing I want to have to do is get up because my back is aching or I start getting a crick in my neck. If there are some snacks in reach or a cup of tea or coffee within reach, then even better.

Helen: Having written a few books, have you found yourself writing in one genre?

Philip: I don’t want to stick to writing in one single genre. Why limit ourselves? The Wrong Apocalypse is a horror/comedy. The trilogy I wrote is more of the thriller/supernatural genre, and I wrote a children’s book for my son, featuring him as the main character, which falls into fantasy/fairytale. I mentioned earlier about struggling with a story/ that was in the genre of a fictional biography, if that genre exists. I’d like to finish that one day, but I don’t know if it will happen. I don’t think I would want to deep-dive into sci-fi but maybe splash in the shallow end a little. The very first story I mentioned, that was a sci-fi thriller.

Helen: Most writers are great readers. What have you enjoyed reading recently?

Philip: I’m a very slow reader. My wife Jan inhales books. But because I’m a slow reader, I can be a bit picky with what I’m going to spend my time reading. I’m currently reading Ready Player Two, having read the first last year. I’m less than half way through but enjoying it. The film was very different from the first book, and I knew this going into the book. I’d seen the film first. But the book still holds up and it made me want to see how the author built on that world, and where he would go with it. Was it going to be a natural progression of the story or a cash-in given the recent Spielberg film? I haven’t finished, so I can’t say yet.

Helen: Is there a book you recently finsished that you would recommend?

Philip: I would certainly recommend Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights. I’m not a biography person. I had only ever read Bryan Cranston’s biography before this. Greenlights is positive and funny and inspiring. I had heard some reviews stating it was too self-involved. I think that someone needs to explain the purpose of a biography to those particular people. My only regret with Greenlights was that I should have listened to the audiobook instead. Years back I had tried to read Corey Taylor’s Seven Deadly Sins. A book of stories and rants. I never finished it. The audiobook, on the other hand, is much better. Sometimes, hearing people tell their own stories or going on their rants is the best way.

Helen: I have Greenlights on my tbr pile, which is much too high! Who is you favouite author?

Philip: Hands down, Neil Gaiman. American Gods is probably my favourite book. Good Omens is also fantastic. Coraline, The Graveyard Book… He’s written comic books… Sandman… This is an author who doesn’t stay within a set genre. His writing style can be simple and to the point or detailed and layered, depending on the story. If people haven’t read any of his work, that should be the next thing they do, or maybe right after they read The Wrong Apocalypse.

Helen: Sounds like, if you like Neil Gaiman, you’ll like Philip J Dennis! It has been a pleasure chatting with you today; thank you for sharing your authorlife with us. Just to finish, what advice would you give other writers?

Philip: I barely consider myself a writer but if I had to give anyone advice, it would be to do it for the enjoyment, for yourself first. Some people want to write to be rich, to be famous, and, sure, we would love for that to happen, but you’ve got to love what you’re doing first. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that, I’ll admit it. Not even the money side of things, really, but just to know that people are reading my work, that they are enjoying it. Everyone needs acknowledgement. It’s basic human behaviour. But you need to recognise this and remember that your own enjoyment of writing is paramount.

About the author:

I am 39 years old. I live in Liverpool, England, with my wife Jan, and 4-year-old son Jacob. I currently work in a contact centre, though this is not for much longer due to redundancy. I’m currently taking a copywriting course in the hopes that this might lead to something interesting, new and enjoyable.

I started writing about 13 years ago but only published my first book just over four years ago. The only person that knew I was writing was my wife Jan. Why only Jan? Simply put, it’s better to fail without an audience. It’s a very pessimistic outlook, I know.

I’d love for my books to become big enough to be a sustainable income, but at the end of the day, I enjoy writing, and if there are some people who enjoy reading them, then that is great too.

You can find more about Philip via:

Amazon Author page

Instagram

You can purchase Philip’s novel from Amazon:

The Wrong Apocalypse

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Devin Sloane

Author of the Bridgewater Novels

Join me as chat to Devin Sloane about her Contemporary Romance novel Feel Again which releases today, August 30th, 2021. Feel Again is the third book in the Bridgewater series. Congratulations Devin, on the launch of your book. To start us off, tell us about Feel Again.

Devin: Feel Again is the third and final book of the Bridgewater Novels. The Bridgewater Novels are deeply emotional depictions of three women’s lives and the hurdles they face together and separately. They are at turns heartbreaking, comical, sexy, enlightening, and uplifting.

The first book follows Bex as she picks up her life after losing her husband. Book 2 follows Bex’s best friend Mara, who learns to deal with a devastating mental health diagnosis, and book 3 follows Mara’s younger sister Willa, who has not yet healed from trauma in her past. 

Because of events in her teen years, combined with the narcissistic abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother, Willa believes she is inherently flawed and selfish. She’s content with her lot in life. She has her own home, a good job, a volunteer position that gives her purpose, and her small family that she adores. She’s not looking for a man, and she’s definitely not looking for forever. When Barrett enters the scene, he shakes Willa’s conviction to keep her life as it is. The fact that starting a relationship with him would rock her small family makes it an easy decision for her. Logically. Her heart has other plans. 

Helen: There are quite a few elements to the cover. How did you come up with the design?

Devin: It is the road on Feel Again’s cover that is most reflective of the story inside. Both Barrett and Willa need, at times, to escape. Going on drives to different places is something they do together and something he ultimately promises he will be for her. Barrett is older than Willa by nine years and is careful with her as well as caring for her. The couple on the cover has a similar look to Willa and Barrett, but it is the tenderness between them that made them perfect for the cover. The circle icon with the dandelion is meaningful, and my daughter actually designed it for me, but I can’t give away the meaning!

Helen: Feel Again is a contemporary romance, is this your genre of choice?

Devin: I write women’s fiction with a strong romance factor. There is steam in my books, because sex is important in relationships, and many times, especially with these couples, sex plays a large part in their healing or growing process.

Helen: Where do you find ideas for your books?

Devin: My ideas come from music, mostly. I hear a song and an entire scene unfolds in my head. Sometimes it is dialogue that I hear, and there are times I write it down, though I don’t know yet who is saying it! Often while I’m writing one book, the side characters are speaking to me and wanting their stories told as well!

Helen: It is great that ideas can come from all sorts of places. Tell us a little about what you are currently working on?

Devin: My current WIP is the story of a character who makes a brief appearance in Live Again and has a small part in Feel Again. Something about her just spoke to me, and her story started to reveal itself bit by bit. She is 42 years old and has an almost 11-year-old son. She deals with agoraphobia and ADHD, both of which have seriously derailed her plans for her life. She has never fully gotten over her university boyfriend, but due to the way their relationship ended, she is happy he lives 3000 miles away…until he doesn’t. This story follows her as she deals with the obstacles blocking her from living her life the way she once dreamed.

Helen: What is your writing environment like? When writing do you listen to music? Or do you prefer silence?

Devin: I generally write early mornings in bed and sometimes I can sneak in a couple of hours in the afternoon or evening.

I need to listen to music while I write otherwise I am much too distracted. Because my books are inspired by music, I make playlists for each book and listen only to that playlist while I write. Once my book is released, I make my playlist public on Spotify. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3DbvjtMQNcabflTy8alNwD?si=830d0c328d0a4cb7

Helen: How great, I’ll have to check your playlist out, thank you for sharing it. I listen to music most of the time. Writing and editing are such different elements of the writing process. Which do you prefer?

Devin: I think I like editing best. I’m incredibly anxious until the story is written down that I won’t finish it. I read somewhere that you can edit crappy writing and make it great but you can’t do anything with a blank page. On the other hand, I find writing really exciting because my characters often take me places I am not expecting. It’s much the same feeling as when I’m reading someone else’s book and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Helen: Do you plan your stories in advance or do you just write and see what happens?

Devin: I am a pantser to start off. The scenes I see first could occur anywhere in the book. I write those first and then plan out the missing pieces of the story.

Helen: Most writers are great readers. What have you enjoyed reading recently?

Devin: Recently I’ve read, and loved, Our Way by TL Swan, Surrender to the Stars by Swati M.H., The Experiment by Amy Alves, The Club Trilogy by Lauren Rowe, Untouchable Zane by Debbie Cromack, Bed of Nails by Nola Marie, Welcome to the Dark Side by Giana Darling, Fall from Grace and The Devil’s Own by LL Meyer, The Naughty Pine by Sybilla Matilde…there are so many and I keep track of them on my bookstagram book review account, @aphroditesharem. 

My favourite authors are probably Kristen Ashley and Rebecca Zanetti.

Helen: What s great range of authors for others to investigate. Thank you so much for chatting with me today, and sharing some of your writing world. It has been lovely meeting you.

Devine: I have loved being part of the bookstagram community. I never dreamed I’d find the support and cheering squad that I have found on here. It’s truly remarkable and I am grateful for the friends I have made since I started this journey in January.

About the Author:

I live in Southern Ontario with my husband of almost 28 years, our 4 kids, one of whom just moved out, and our two furbabies. Homeschooling was a huge part of my life for the past twenty-one years but I am very happy to be transitioning onto other things now that my children are getting older.

I started writing in October of 2020 and I have not been able to stop! I find it to be hugely cathartic and it keeps my brain busy in a good way. My children have various special needs, two are biological and two are adopted. I myself have fibromyalgia, autoimmune issues, arthritis, and mental health challenges. My husband is a wonderful man, really he is all the best parts of all my male characters! My life is at times messy, chaotic, busy, boring, and heartbreaking, but always beautiful because of the huge amount of love in our house. I am both incredibly lucky, and incredibly blessed.

You can find more about Devin via:

Instagram

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Bookbub

Pinterest

You can purchase Devin’s novel from Amazon:

Feel Again

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

Canada

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Luci Fer

Author of What Happens On Tour

Today I am chatting with Luci Fer, who joins me to talk about her humourous romance What Happens on Tour which releases tomorrow August 15th! Welcome Luci, congratulations on your new release and thank you for joining me to talk about your novel. To start us off, tell us about your book.

Luci: The Tour series is about an up and coming Australian music band who venture on a regional tour. Having started at the record label at the same time, Lead Musician Braxton Carson and his band have forged a solid friendship with Photographer Charlotte (Charlie) Bancroft. The entire group is thrilled to learn that they will be traveling together on Tour in the upcoming weeks.

The band ventures on a road trip around their country to connect with fans in remote areas, rather than just playing for the big city stadiums. It doesn’t take long for the Tour to show the close bonds they all share as friends, while also uncovering the undertones of romance between the two leads.

After just a few stops on the Tour, we learn that not only do Brax and Charlie have very similar interests, they also have an unspoken longing for each other. Their rather comical similarities and differences guarantee a hysterical and eventful trip ahead.

A night of drinking and mayhem with the band reveals Brax’s true intentions for Charlie. After an awkward conversation, the sizzling spark we’ve sensed intensifies when Brax takes what he feels is his only shot of getting the girl.

True feelings ignite and humour unravels as the band learns of the shift in the relationship status. When a catastrophic chain of events unfolds, Will Brax and Charlie fight for their love or crumble under the intense scrutiny?

Helen: It sounds like an intense read. How did you decide on the cover?

Luci: The story, while a comedy at heart, also explores the personal and professional growth of the lead characters, being the band, their agent and of course, photographer Charlie. Charlie’s backstory plays a pivotal part in the plot across all 7 books. As writers we create the image of our characters in our minds, while developing the story. I happened to be scrolling through instagram back in 2018 when I first wrote this and stumbled across a woman who embodied everything I saw in my character. As the saying goes, you don’t know unless you ask. So I approached her and explained what I was doing. Becca Medlin, my cover model who can be found on Instagram under @beccamedlin kindly agreed to be a part of the story and I am eternally grateful for her kindness and support. She embodies the same spirit my character does, and while beautiful in her own right, her heart is nothing less than extraordinary. And of course the magic would never have happened without the incredibly talented girls at Books and Moods who worked tirelessly with me to help understand the vision.

Helen: It is wonderful when you can find such a close connection between your cover and your story. I am glad you asked because your cover is amazing. Tell us about the genres you write becuase it not only humourous romance is it?

Luci: I am a romance novel writer, but the sub-plots vary as I do like to explore and push myself. I have a four part series that is a heavy erotica, a thriller and of course Tour series which is a romantic comedy.

Helen: What made you write this particular book?

Luci: What Happens on Tour was the fourth story I wrote. I had finished two books in my first series, and was deep into a standalone that was dark romance. I came to a chapter towards the end of this book where I was using real life experience, nearly losing my mother and writing it from her perspective in a coma, and before I realised it, I found myself getting sucked into a vortex with it and seeking ways to balance the heaviness I was experiencing. A passion of mine had always been to travel to music festivals and concerts, or road trips with my friends so I drew on these experiences and combined my two loves. It became the perfect balance I needed to give both books the justice they deserved.

Helen: Balance is very important. Writing emotional scenes can be draining, especially when they pull on personal experiences. We are lucky you were able to combine your love of music with your love of writing. What made you first start writing?

Luci: My mother was a writer and poet. Growing up she worked as a children’s story teller and I was often fascinated by her creativity. By my teenage years I knew that I wanted to follow in her footsteps. Finishing highschool I studied at University theatre and the arts. My passion was to be a playwright and director. One of my now adapted novels was originally written as a theatre production for a University assessment back in the early 2000’s. I was inspired by my mother and my love of theatre. I have always been a little dramatic at heart, thus the pen name.

Helen: With such a creative background, it must be easy for you to come up with ideas for your books?

Luci: I have an overactive imagination. I work full time in a highly stressful yet rewarding job, and as a result I struggle at times to switch off. I have been known to wake up at random hours of the night to pen an idea that has come to me, because I can’t sleep until I get it off my chest.

Helen: Which do you prefer, Writing or Editing?

Luci: I don’t know that anyone ever truly loves editing, especially Manuscript Developmental edits which is what I have undertaken with Tour. But to see the finished work makes it all worthwhile. As the writer, our perspective is often biased, since it’s difficult to keep from becoming your own reader. As a writer it is easy to be captivated by your passion in your work and therefore lose perspective on how your message will resonate with your audience. My editor has taught me that this often translates to us not realising whether something that works for you will also work for the audience. She’s helped me to engage with my target audience while also bringing out my author voice. I have a better perspective as a writer and greater insight as to what will work for a reader.

Helen: Did you have to spend much time researching for your books?

Luci: My first series I wrote, I spent a year researching and evolving those characters as there were so many complex elements to it. Tour series, I have been fortunate to have assistance from some industry insiders – family members who are performers, and incredible artists who have agreed to work with me and be on the covers of other books in the series. I also draw from my real life experiences so each of my stories has an element of me as a person in them. 

Helen: It sounds like your research was really interesting. Who was your favrorite character to write?

Luci: He is always the audience favourite and that is Chester. He is everything my best friend is to me – lovable with a hint of mischief but a heart of gold. He also tends to take over my creative process because his voice is so powerful. easy, Stewart, the main protagonist. He is such a complex character in many ways, with a quick temper. He also has an agile mind that can read situations quickly, and a very dry, roguish sense of humour. I really enjoyed developing him.

Helen: And your favorite character from your book?

Luci: Mark, from my Tour series. He has a depth to his soul that I recognise and appreciate in a lot of my friends. I have incorporated many of their traits into this character.

Helen: Have you ever been given a piece of advice about writing that has helped you with your writing process?

Luci: During the editing process I become extremely hypercritical and my editor continually reminds me, it’s okay to do so. The hypercriticality pays off and you have to trust in your editor to guide you the right way with it.

Helen: How do you fit writing in your daily life?

Luci: My day typically starts at 3am to let me get caffeinated before I spend two hours editing. I then do a very long day at work before picking up writing on my wips at night.

Helen: I couldn’t get up at 3am. That is a no from me. I don’t know how you do it! Being so organised with your time, how are you with writing? Are you a pantser or a planner?

Luci: Ultimately, I know where the story is going, and how it will end. But as much as I do try to plan, I am definitely more of a pantser. Particularly with tour due to the comedic element to it. Much of the shenanigans are based around my real life group of friends and our acquired taste of crazy.

Helen: Does music play an important part in your writing process?

Luci: I don’t listen to music while I write, I do need silence in order to focus on the words and the flow of the story. That being said, I do have music that inspires my works and each has their own playlist on spotify for my readers to enjoy.

Helen: Do you have a favourite place to work?

Luci: Outdoors. I am blessed to live away from the city surrounded by beautiful mountains and forests. My favourite place to write is out on my deck with the serenity of nature. It reminds me it’s okay to slow down sometimes and enjoy the process.

Helen: Sounds perfect! I am jealous! Most authors are prolific readers. Tell us what you like to read and who your favourite author is.

Luci: I love all the works of Bertolt Brecht and anything Theatre of the Absurd. The irrational or fictive nature of reality and the essential isolation of humanity in a meaningless world is fascinating to me. I am currently reading Regrets and Revenge by Zavi James. It is the second book in her Foster family series. Zavi’s creative genius is unparalleled. I would recommend Serpentine by Jonathan Kellerman, but before starting it is important to know there are over 30 books in this series.

Helen: Do you have an all time favourite book?

Luci: Forget you had a daughter, by Sandra Gregory. Caught in a situation due to misfortune and trusting the wrong people, it shows one woman’s struggle to learn from her mistake but not let it define the person she is. It can feel like we’re alone. It can seem like you’ve let everyone down and it can be easy to tell yourself that everything was riding on you. But forgiveness is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves. We aren’t robots, we are humans and we do make mistakes, it is a beautiful journey of self forgiveness.

Helen: When not writing, (and if you have the time!). Do you have a favourite pastime or hobby?

Luci: I love the theatre and the arts, and my best friend’s partner is an incredible performer. We all love to support and watch his shows. And it goes without saying, my best friend is a huge part of my life, not a week goes by where we don’t do something. In fact it was the very road trips he and I have taken together over the years and our love of exploring new places around our country that Tour was born from. As our group always says, “No Shady beaches.”

Helen: Your friends sound wonderful, it’s great that you’ve been able to draw from your own experiences for your writing. Have you ever performed yourself?

Luci: I was a dancer for 16 years, not ballet or ballroom. I chose Scottish dancing because I wanted to own a pair of swords. It requires a huge level of trust in your ability to be able to move over those swords without causing injury to yourself.

Helen: It’s been lovely meeting you, Luci. Thank you so much for spending the time with me. I usually finish with a question to help aspiring authors, what advice would you give someone setting out to write?

Luci: Pen the story first, then go back to it. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to edit at the same time because it is easy to lose your natural story progression if you are weighing yourself down with all the elements of composing a story.

About the Author:

Brisbane, Aus 

▪️ PA @csinbo

▪️ Sold Series on @galatea.stories

▪️ Tour Series publishing 2021

▪️ Carefree and slightly crazy

▪️ The Road to hell is paved with works in progress. 

▪️ Social Media:

IG Author_luci_fer

Facebook AuthorLuciFer

TikTok Author_Luci_Fer

You can purchase Daisy’s novel from Amazon:

What Happens On Tour

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Book Review Alert: UpSpark by Nicole Wells

Reviewed: July 4th,, 2021
Released: June 20th, 2021
Genre: Science Fantasy Romance

Can they find themselves and each other before time runs out?

Enya’s dreams of making a difference in the world are devastated the summer after high school when she finds out she has a fatal disease.

A cross country road trip to Native American reservations helps her find meaning. But Jacob, her best friend and traveling companion, has longed for them to become something more.

Their expedition is just the start of an amazing love and spiritual journey, but a one-in-a-million phenomenon changes everything.

“I get the feeling like I’m reading Fault In Our Stars Part 2.”

 Read More…

Book Review Alert: Ash Crooked Fates by Sky Sommers

Reviewed: June 25th, 2021
Released: June 20th, 2021
Genre: Fairytale Retelling

Ash is the third book in the Magic Mirrors Saga; a retelling of the Wizard of Oz and can be read as a standalone. Thie book is quite unique in that you can choose your ending. You’ll see what I mean when you get there!

When Cinderella’s estranged mother Mellie goes to Oz in search of her baby-daddy, she needs a crew to deliver the proof of their liaison – her youngest daughter, Ellie – to the Emerald City. Hijacking someone else’s search & rescue crew? Not a problem. So what if it’s the feared Fairy Queen Morgana’s rescue mission to find her only son.

A cowardly lion and a brainless scarecrow as per the manual are already lined up for the save. The tin-man is already in Oz…somewhere. Darn those iron mirror portals and fae men. Read More…

Book Review Alert: Grandfather’s Will by Rebecca Lange

Reviewed: June 15th, 2021
Released: March 31st, 2021
Genre: Christian Fiction

After billionaire Henry Woodruff loses several family members in a horrible accident, his grandchildren Rebecca, Noah, and Amber McNeil are now the official heirs. Although they never desired to be put into his will, 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 develop a plan before his grandchildren get murdered. Read More…

Author Interview – Elizabeth Lavender

Author of the Sunspear series

Joining me today to chat about her fantasy Sunspear series is Elizabeth Lavender. Welcome Elizabeth. Please tell us a little about your novels.

Elizabeth: My fantasy/sci-fi series is the Sunspear Series.  I’m currently in the final revision stages of the 3rd book in the series.  The first book in the series is The Spinning of Deception and the second book is Deception’s Hold.   Our journey begins with meeting 18-year-old sunspearbearer Dante and a mysterious female sunspearbearer the same age who has been secretly trained.  The reason why she’s secretly trained becomes apparent in the story.  A powerful force led by the Dark Lord and his Black Dragon Commander threatens the galaxy; the Black Dragon Commander also is Dante’s father. Dante and his companions lead in the fight to stop the colonies from being massacred by the Dark Lord’s forces.  In other scenes, our mysterious girl’s gift of visions from the Ancient One reveals a truth about a past event that could be key to breaking the Dark Lord’s hold.  

The second book, Deception’s Hold, continues right where the first ended.  Dante and his companions are told the truth of the past event, provided proof of it, and sets up a deadly task for Dante to undertake.  Success could mean ending the Dark Lord’s power finally and much more.  Failure would mean a much worse fate than even a blade for him.  Even as they try to defend the colonies, they’ve come to understand something horrible is at work at Black Dragon headquarters.  A race begins for the girl and her comrades to discover it and stop it in time.  The girl knows though how short their time really is.  She fears for Dante’s fate because she’s discovering her visions have created an unexpected connection to him and losing him isn’t an outcome she can accept.  Too, she may be the only one that really knows the darkness he’s about to face.  

Helen: This sounds like an amazing series, and I just love your covers, they are so complex, so many elements, tell us the story behind them.

Elizabeth: All of my covers have to do with that specific part of the storyline.  So, for the first cover, there is a cloaked figure, two sunspears (one on either side), a dagger, and a blue eye.  The cloaked figure represents the Dark Lord or darkness in general approaching.  The two sunspears are for Dante and the girl.  The dagger is directly related to the event from the past that has such a bearing on the present situation.  It also has to do with an event in the girl’s past that happens in the book that will continue to haunt her through the series.  The blue eye is referring to the girl’s eye as she sees visons, which play an important role throughout the series, but her visions of the one event set off a whole chain of actions.   

The second cover shows the Black Dragon Commander who is also Dante’s father.  On one side is the Black Dragon Helmet showing his allegiance now to the Black Dragon and on the other side is Ethan, the person that Dante once called Father.  Through the middle is a sunspear, separating the two sides.  The Black Dragon Commander/Ethan are on the cover because it ties into the task that lays ahead for Dante, which is at the heart of book 2.   

Helen: With so much detail behind the cover design, I imagine as much thought went into the titles?

Elizabeth: The titles for both books are central to the story (The Spinning of Deception and Deception’s Hold).  The power of deception is at the heart of both books and it’s how the Dark Lord has done what he has.  While many of the battles in the books are the traditional swords, blasters, tanks, sunspears, and other cool technology to which you’ll get introduced, those aren’t the hardest battles fought.  Many of the hardest battles fought in the book are these ones where being able to decipher truth from lie is the key. Otherwise, your fate is sealed.  The Dark Lord has deceived  before and he continues to do so.  His mastery of it is how we find the Black Commander is at his side now. That’s the main way the title comes about.  However, it’s not just the Dark Lord using it.  You will see deception also used in other forms, but sometimes not for bad.  Like I said, it’s a constant theme in the series.  

Helen: It is so nice to learn the reasoning behind the covers and titles. It makes the book richer. What made you write this series?

Elizabeth: It was finally time to put it down on paper instead of bouncing around in my head.  LOL.  Seriously I’ve had pieces of it coming together since high school (that was over 20 years ago).  There’s a point when you have a story, you have to tell it.  It’s the writer in you.  

Helen: Yes, as some point you just have to put pen to paper, you can no longer resist the urge! I don’t know why we resist, but sometimes we do. Why did you choose to write fantasy?

Elizabeth: This is my only series and it’s sci-fi/fantasy.  I guess it’s the one I primarily read in myself and love, so I don’t know how much I would enjoy writing in another genre.  Also, the story in my head ended up falling in this genre.

Helen: You have two books in the series published, I’m sure your die hard fans want to know when the third will be released. Tell us a little about your WIP.

Elizabeth: My current work is the 3rd book in the series.  I’m in the final revision stage and hoping to have it published by the end of summer at the latest.  This one shares the same things readers have come to love about the series.  The characters haven’t changed with the way they face whatever the threat may be, while finding the opportunity to bring humor into even the most challenging situations.  There are battles and close calls just like we like them to have too.  However, there are some differences because we are in a different place in the storyline.   The battlefields are a smaller scale to an extent.  We’re getting to see the internal battles of one character in particular in book three and how it manifests itself outside.  Also, the third book is a great deal about relationships being built between characters, ones that will take them through the entire series.  For many of these characters, it’s the first time they’ve had a chance to actually meet in person and work/fight side by side. So, there are a lot of places in book 3 that read like a romance between certain characters, but for those who have been reading the series they will say it’s long overdue.  It is where we find ourselves in the story. 

Helen: I think as you write a series, and you live and breath the story, certain characters begin to resonate. Do you have a favourite character in your series?

Elizabeth: I have two favourites.  There’s no way I can choose between them.  It has to be Dante and the girl (yes, she is called that until book 3 because her identity has to remain hidden).  Dante fights with all his heart to defeat the Black Dragon, and he’s already lost so much.  As the series opens, his mother and brother are counted in those losses and his father now fights on the other side, causing the destruction he now sees around him.  Yet somehow, he fights on even with that always there and as the series continues his incredible heart and spirit that make him a hero will shine through in the battlefields he’ll be put through.  Then there’s the girl who fights just as hard, but between her own internal “demons” and the visions rest doesn’t come easy for her.  There are moments she can’t move beyond, that still hold sway over her.  She can give grace to others, but not to herself.  We’ll see her be forced to take on many roles, play many parts to help win against Black Dragon.  Even as she does it, it all adds to the turmoil that’s already creates such a nightmare for her at times.  Yet despite all that, she has a spirit and heart that matches Dante’s, and she’ll need it to manage the battlefields that lay ahead for her.  

Helen: You are well into your series, and have heroes and villains who are well defined. Who do you prefer to write?

Elizabeth: Heroes probably.  I like seeing them going through whatever trial or battle I put them through and hopefully come out alive, even if barely.  I like to delve into their emotions and their mind as they struggle with whatever they get thrown.  I think too we can identify in real life with the hero and the challenges they face and how they struggle with them.  I’ve said many times the struggles in my Sunspear world are not so different than those in our world.  The battlefields may appear different on the surface, but they’re not.  One of my characters says it better though.  Here’s a quote from book 3 of the Sunspear Series (still under revision) “”I can’t tell you what happened, because it’s a part of my past. I found myself at a juncture which many do at a point in this life, many of us more than once, Dante. It’s a scary, lonely place to dwell. Everyone faces this Darkness. In reality daily. There are times though the battle is one not forgotten, leaving such a mark on one…”    “Those are the ones that stay with you because you come face to face with how powerful the Darkness is. How quickly it can take you and destroy you and all those around you before you realize what is done. Yet you also discover how strong the One is who stands beside you, and that must be your refuge.”    So, heroes are my favorite to write about as I think they inspire us to see that no matter how hard it gets or imperfect we are in our struggle, we can emerge victorious.  We may have our body battered, our heart broken, and our face streaming with tears, but we come through. We need our heroes.  

Helen: I agree. This sounds amazing. It is inspiring to see how people can survive what is thrown at them. We are often stronger than we realise are. Of course as authors we make it especially difficult for our characters. Author life can be just as challenging! Tell us a little about your writing process. How does writing fit into your daily routine?

Elizabeth: With great difficulty! I work fulltime during the week and there’s always stuff with the kids/school and just family stuff with the kids/husband.  So, most of my writing stuff comes in the evenings and on the weekends.  I don’t do mornings at all, unless I have to get up to go to work/take the kids to school.  However, I’m a night owl, so most weeknights I’m until close to midnight and the weekends I’m routinely up until at least 3:00 working on stuff.  Sometimes that’s good, but sometimes that can be bad especially if I’m writing a villain scene.  You can get strange inspiration at that time of night.  That could be the reason my characters have such close calls and end up in such bad shape at the end of those scenes when facing the villians.  LOL.  They have to be pretty tough!

Helen: I often go to sleep thinking about a scene or a sticky situation. Often as not, I wake up with the solution in the middle of the night and I have to dictate it in to my phone and hope I understand it in the morning! When you are writing do you know what the story will be and have a plan? or do you let it unfold as it will?

Elizabeth: I’m definitely the pantser.  I know how the last battle of the whole series will go and the dialogue has written itself in my head for a while.  I know there are certain events and conversations that have to be revealed to get me there.  I have a good idea of how those events need to unfold and probably how the dialogue will go, but that’s because I’ve been in my characters’ world for so long now. I just know what they would say and do now.  It’s not because I sat down and outlined how it’s going to go or plotted it out. I can’t even imagine writing like that.  I know my eventually endpoint and the dots in the middle to get me there. 

Helen: I know fantasy is all made up, but do you find you have to do much research?

Elizabeth: None really.  For the first book, I did some on names.  The character names were not chosen randomly and neither were the places.  I wanted them to mean something.  I do make sure when I’m writing I have a copy of the other books in the series next to me in case I need to look something up.  I have to be sure to keep my story straight throughout the series.  I have plotlines that are unanswered or left mysterious in the first two books that will be answered later, some not until the last book in the series.  That’s the other reason it’s essential I have the others nearby.  

Helen: Ah yes, keeping track of all the threads! That can be challenging at times. What is your working environment like? Do you need music to inspire you, or is silence king?

Elizabeth: Actually, I don’t listen to music.  Once I start writing, I’m in a zone, so I don’t know that I would even hear it anyway.  When I’m revising, it’s the opposite. I really hate the revising process, so the music would probably distract me.  I need quiet because I honestly welcome distractions then.  I think my revising actually takes longer than the writing for that reason.  

Helen: Which do you prefer, the creativity of writing or the polishing up of editing?

Elizabeth: LOL.  I answered this on the music one, I guess.  Love the writing part, detest the editing part.  I know the editing part of the process is necessary, but I still can’t stand it.  It’s like the 6-month check-up to the dentist or when we get a recall notice in for something on the car.  Necessary, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Writing on the other hand is awesome.  I love going into their world, and it doesn’t even feel like I’m doing the writing anymore.  I know what they would say and do because I know them now.  It really writes itself.  

Helen: If you didn’t write fantasy, what genre would you like to write?

Elizabeth: That’s tough.  Mine is sci-fi/fantasy, so it covers two genres.  The current book has felt more like a romance in places, but long-term I don’t think I could be comfortable going there.  Probably psychological/suspense thriller I could see.  I have a counselling background and that influence is seen in my current series as many of the battlefields aren’t the traditional ones as we said earlier.  I like delving into what they are thinking and feeling and making them struggle with their internal “demons.”  So, I could see trying my hand at a suspense/psychological thriller.  

Helen: I hope you do, that would be amazing! Most writers are great readers, after all, reading gives us insights into a well written book. What are some of your favourites?

Elizabeth: That’s too difficult. I have several favourites.  One of my favourites is Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.  I read it in 10thgrade and I’ve seen it on stage like three times now. It’s a beautiful story of redemption and grace.  The main character ends up spending 19 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s family. When he gets out, he’s as you would expect, but a priest shows him true kindness, the true love of God in a sense.  The rest of the book is the convict’s story of how he demonstrates the grace he was shown.  Another favourite is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.  That one is kind of the other extreme in the beginning.  The young sailor is naïve and gets falsely accused and thrown in jail.  Circumstances allow him to find a treasure and when he gets out, he gets revenge on everyone that put him in prison.  However how he did it was what made the book, finding the secrets of each one and exploiting them to destroy them.   In the end, he realizes he went too far and has to deal with and we see the young sailor re-emerge in a sense. I think the reason I always liked that one was how carefully he crafted his revenge. It was amazing all the pieces Dumas had going at once, but he made it work.  The main character was only able to destroy them because he brought to light their dark deeds, things they thought they hid and no one could uncover. It’s just a well-done story.  Some other favourites are The Star Wars Trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi).  It has everything.  I love the battles, the dialogue between the characters…   The story though can’t be beat.  The epic story between good and evil, of redemption and sacrifice, and the triumph of light over the darkness.  Another couple series are Lord of the Rings by Tolkien and the Narnia Series by CS Lewis.  Okay, I’ll stop now because I could keep going. 

Helen: I can see how these have influenced your writing! What books have you read recently?

Elizabeth: There are quite a few.  Generally, I read at least two a month and post the reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and Bookbub as well as my Facebook and Twitter account.  I also have a section in my newsletter that I post to.    However, recently I finished Rise of Tears by Brand J Alexander, Dreamstate by Toni Cox, (Her Elemental Trilogy is the other one I read and it’s excellent too), A Twist of Night and Day by Aubrey Winters, The Enchanted Dagger by Vonnie Winslow Crist, Sentinals Awaken by Helen Garraway, Flames over Frosthelm by Dave Dobson, The Threat of Shadows by JA Andrews, First Earth by Cami Murdock Jensen…  LOL.   You can look on Goodreads account and check out my reviews.  There are just too many awesome books out there! 

Helen: It’s so cool to see my book in your list. It’s nice to see it is out there being read. Just to close us out, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Elizabeth: Just write the story that’s in you.  The passion for your world and your characters will come through on its own.  Have readers fall in love with your world and your characters as much as you have.  Don’t let anyone discourage you.  Surround yourself with people that will keep encouraging you to keep the journey going.  You never know if your story is what someone needed to hear.  

About the Author:

Elizabeth Lavender is the author of the Sunspear series. The first book in the sci-fi series is called The Spinning of Deception and the second book is Deception’s Hold. Originally from the Alabama coast, she currently lives in the Dallas area with her husband, Jeff, and her two children. She has a Master’s degree in counseling from Dallas Baptist University and has studied psychology and English. She enjoys science fiction and fantasy and hopes to bring some of that same enjoyment to others. She also enjoys suspense novels as well. However, as long as the storyline is intriguing, she will give it a try. Her reading spans from Les Miserables to Shakespeare to the Percy Jackson series to anything written by Ted Dekker or Frank Perretti. She works full-time and has been at the same company for over twenty years happily. She is a huge football fan and has a decent throwing arm, despite what her oldest son says when he practices throwing the football with her. Although she enjoys Texas, she does love going home to Alabama to visit. Besides visiting family and friends, it is nice to be back near the water again, where the seafood is the best.

You can find more about Elizabeth via her:

Website: https://elizabethlavender.net
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Lavender/e/B07ZLS4G93
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/elizabeth-lavender
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19685019.Elizabeth_Lavender
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabethlavender.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Elavenderauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elizabethlavender.author
Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/t2p5x4

Book One: The Spinning Deception

UK: eBook | Paperback | Hardcover

USA: eBook | Paperback | Hardcover

Book Three: Deception’s Hold

UK: eBook | Paperback | Hardcover

USA: eBook | Paperback | Hardback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Nicole Wells

Author of TwinFlames

Joining me today to chat about her new novel, Twin Flames, which releases today, May 31st, 2021 Is fantasy author Nicole Wells. TwinFlames is the third novel in Nicole’s Science Fantasy romance series, The Five Elements. Welcome Nicole. Congratulations on releasing your third novel, quite an accomplishment. You must be so excited! Please tell us a little about your novels.

Nicole: TwinFlames is a science fantasy romance that follows Maia, who is seeking revenge for her identical twin and discovers she can teleport. Gabe is a renowned MMA fighter who falls hard. He was my attempt at an alpha male (yes, he turns into a giant teddy bear, what can I say?). 

It’s book three in the Five Elements series. The series can be started with this book, although it’s best to read book one first since there are spoilers. These books are based on the Five Elements of Chinese philosophy and culture. I also work in indigenous culture and history (for this book, Nez Perce). There’s also an inspirational aspect to the series. In TwinFlames, Maia has to work on anger and forgiveness.

Helen: I read the book blurb and this sounds like a great series, so I am off to find book one, UpSpark! Tell us about the title, what made you call this book TwinFlames?

Nicole: It’s funny, because I set out to do five books in the series and this book ended up being Books three (WildWood) and four (BareEarth) combined: the Wood and the Earth powers. I like the idea of twins, showcasing both elements and also highlighting the destined mate aspect to the word “TwinFlames.” There’s a focus on those people in our lives that feel like they are a part of us, friendships that are bound to happen. It turned out perfect, because Earth’s story is best told this way. I still have each “book” as a Part One and Part Two (Part Three is TwinFlames), so the symmetry was beautiful, especially as the prior two books also had three parts. 

With this addition, each title has some theme of fire and light: UpSpark, StarDust, TwinFlames. Taking a step back, even before there are five elements, there is Yin-Yang. These books are the Yang–the light. The last book, World of Water, is the polar opposite. It is the Yin, the unknowing, the fear, the dark, and the possibility. That is the epitome of Water energy.

Helen: Incorporating the natural elements and their meanings sounds so interesting. It seems to be human nature to understand where we fit, and what we resonate with. For example, our star sign, our birth stone, our personality. What made you write this particular book?

Nicole: Did I mention how much I love putting real life knowledge into science fantasy fiction? I have a Masters in acupuncture, and the gifts of the elements, the relationships between the elements (the Shen and K’o cycles), the way they manifest in a person, etc — it’s all real. Feng Shui, Chinese medicine, and more are based on this paradigm that’s over two thousand years old. 

For example, a Water energetic is not likely to have their back to the door in a room, and they probably know a bunch of esoteric facts. They have innate skill, and can pick up things that it takes others years to master. They might have a love/hate relationship with salt. Wisdom and stillness resonate with them, but so does fear. There’s a tendency towards long earlobes and large noses. 

An Earth will have a sweet tooth and full lips and is someone you definitely want as a friend because she’ll get you and be there for you. This is the quintessential “mother” energetic, full of sympathy and understanding. But she’ll certainly have problems with boundaries.

Metal tends to have good posture and dry skin, enviable complexion and great boundaries. There can be a spaciousness to their words and an almost otherworldly presence; you tend to listen when they talk. But they can be perceived as cold or distant. The sensations in their body ground them, so they might gravitate towards piercings or tattoos. Their connection to spirit is automatic, and they’ll know grief like no one else.

Fire is more prone to stuttering and flushing. When a Fire looks into your eyes, they can look straight into your soul. They connect with you, and can be the life of the party not because they are trying to but because there’s this magnetism and draw, like moths to a flame. Similarly, they can have issues with burning out.

Wood has strong nails, tendons and muscles and is probably having a really hard time with isolation because they need to interact with people. They are immensely creative and can also be competitive, although at heart it’s all about benevolence–they want everyone to win and just like to play. Their edge is with anger.

I could go on forever! I’ve practiced acupuncture for about fifteen years and I love incorporating it into these stories. I also have a strong science background and love weaving that in too.

Helen: This is amazing. I am trying to figure out which one I am already! Maybe Water? I’m not sure. What made you begin writing?

Nicole: I am a voracious reader, but started having a hunger for books that were a little more complex, deep and less predictable. I read in the magical genres I loved, but I wanted something that left me feeling more complete, like I was better for having read it. I was probably battling some mom guilt, too, and wanted my reading to be “productive” because I had “shoulds” hanging over my head, like I “should” meditate. So I set out to write a book that felt like that, one that was all about the present moment. That book was UpSpark.

Helen: I believe you’ve written a few books now, not just the Five Element series; which genre would you say you write in?

Nicole: Ha! I wish I knew! I think all my books will have some touch of romance and magic, but beyond that all bets are off. I’ve published books with spiritual, humorous, paranormal, magical realism, mystery overtones. My current WIPs include YA, dark fantasy, science fiction, epic fantasy, steamy adult reads and a children’s picture book.

Helen: Wow! How do you come up with all these ideas?

Nicole: I exercise. Seriously, I run on the treadmill in the dark with my music blasting. Other times stories strike as just idle thoughts. My biggest problem is having to cull all these ideas! There’s so many books I want to write.

Helen: So you’ve written quite a few books, but I know you’re also a mom of three. How do you fit writing into your everyday life? I’m sure there are a lot of writer’s who want to know the trick!

Nicole: Far too often I stay up until one or two am. Then my daughter wakes me up every two hours until I finally get up for good around six or seven. This I do not recommend.

I wrote Upspark in three weeks. Sometimes I would write a few sentences on my phone when I literally had five minutes of downtime, back when my baby was a newborn. I do not recommend that either.

Now I try to write primarily in the evening and weekends, but it takes a toll on family time. Brandon Sanderson recommends set boundaries. I’m working on that. 

Helen: Yes, I am not so good at boundaries, I grab the time I can. So in your hectic life, with your brain on overdrive, do you plan your books, or are you a complete pantser?

Nicole: Okay, full disclosure. I have a book. A trilogy actually. I have been harboring this baby for thirty long years. She has become so built up in my mind, I can no longer craft the words into existence. So I outline. I have outlined the hell out of that story. There is now a whole network of twists and turns, like alternate realities to the same story, and I can’t make heads or tails of it. I have a smattering of non-temporal chapters, ill-fitting jigsaw puzzle pieces. I know what I want to do, and I look at that beast of a mountain built of notes, and instead sit down and gorge on chocolate instead.

I will write her one day, but in the meantime, I am a hardcore pantser. 

(Total aside–is it just me or does that sound naughty?)

For someone who would plan every minute of the day (who am I kidding, for someone who does plan the day to the second), sitting down in front of my computer with nothing but the opening and end scenes and going on a merry ride to fill in the middle is exhilarating! I don’t know if it’s just me (probably is; I’m thinking a virtue of prosopagnosia?), but I often don’t recognize what I’ve written. So when I write and then edit (if enough time has passed) it’s like getting to enjoy someone else’s story! 

Helen: I agree. Sometimes I’ll go back to one of my drafts, and I’ll think, Did I really write that? And then I get lost in the story again and forget I am supposed to be editing!

It’s been such a pleasure finding out about you and your books. Thank you for joining me. Congratulations again on the release of TwinFlames. Just to close us out, can you tell us what advice you would give other writers?

Nicole: Don’t compare. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. Don’t compare your works. Don’t compare how you were to how you are to how you want to be. Be in the present moment. Enjoy the journey and see if you can let go of attachment to outcome, at least most of the time. Stay open-minded, which will help you hear the things you need to and learn the skills to improve. Being free in this way lets you flow on your path, versus bucking and forcing and constantly “trying.”

I did not do these things. I suffered. I know better now, and that’s what I’d pass on so you can skip straight to the awesome parts of writing!

About the Author:

In the ethos where herds of story ideas run wild and free, I am known as the Devourer of Books. A voracious predator, I–

Okay. I’m a mom of three young children. And I spend way too much time in the fantasy world in my head. But, hey, in this world I’m still supernatural. I channel the powers of my insomnia for good. I’m impervious to kid whining and insults (well, mostly). I have a second sense for cereal disasters and broken toy catastrophes. They call me Mom, which is code for You’re-Awesome-We-Love-You or Stop-Writing-On-Your-Computer-and-Play-With-Me. I’m not sure which. My kryptonite is my pet peeves: water running down my elbows, food stains on papers, and losing the little plastic tethers when you remove the tags off new clothes.

So, yeah, that’s me. Your average superhero mom. Oh, and I’ve got three eyes (one in the back of my head).

You can find more about Nicole via her:

Author website

Twitter

Instagram

You can order Nicole’s novel from Amazon:

Book Three: TwinFlames

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

Canada: eBook

If you haven’t read book one UpSpark then you can get it here:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

Canada: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Book Review Alert: Deja You by Barbara Kellyn

Reviewed: May 21st, 2021
Released: January 10th, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Summary

Seven years ago, college student Hill Taylor attended a journalism conference and ended up having an intensely hot hookup in a coatroom with a too-sexy stranger. 

Hill is now a successful publicist for rock’s notorious bad boy Tommy Kaine, who’s about to dish the outrageous dirt in a tell-all written by tabloid reporter James Spencer Sutton (aka The Hollywood Hatchet) – Hill’s coatroom hit and run. Problem is, Tommy’s got a secret that Hill has been sworn to protect and more importantly, keep the still-too-sexy Sutton from uncovering.  Read More…