Tag: Friday Five

Friday Five: Diane Burton

friday fiveToday’s Friday Five focus is Diane Burton, author of sci-fi romance and mystery short stories, novellas, and novels.

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and three grandchildren.

In Mission to New Earth, Earth’s overpopulation and dwindling resources force the United Earth Space Agency to ramp up exploration of new planets for a possible new home. As Sara Grenard and her team prepare for launch, are they ready for the one-way trip? Will they be in time?

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Diane Burton1. Why do you write sci-fi romance and mystery?

I love a good mystery, and adventures in space have intrigued me since Star Wars.

2. What was your attitude towards reading when you were a kid?

Loved it. Couldn’t get enough books, and I hoarded the ones I had. I used my babysitting money to buy books instead of make-up,like my girlfriends.

3. Thinking about the stuff you’ve written, who’s your favorite character and why?

Jessie, in my first published novel Switched. She’s quirky, smart alecky, I wish I could come up with her quips in real life. She’s conscious of being overweight (though not that much). She’s insecure yet more capable than she thinks.

4. What literary character are you most like and why?

Jane Eyre: she’s quiet and unassuming, yet caring. I’d rather be Lara Croft.

5. What are three things on your bucket list?

Take an Alaskan cruise
See Scotland/Ireland/Wales, England too
Learn Dutch so I can read about my ancestors

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Mission to New Earth is currently available through Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

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Friday Five: Jes Sanders

friday fiveToday’s Friday Five focus is Jes Sanders, author of sci-fi short stories, novellas, and novels,

Jes had an amazing teacher in 6th Grade: Mr. Giglio (pronounced ‘Jillio’), Mt. Helix Elementary, San Diego. He introduced him to War of the Worlds, The White Mountains, and Taran Wanderer, and inspired him to write. Then life happened. Some decades and a family later, he finds himself in a completely unrelated career. But, as his favorite author, Colum McCann says, “Come song, anyway.” He has stories in him that want to get out, and he is enjoying discovering all this endeavor has to offer.

His latest work, The Last Jubali, is an epic sci-fi tale. World War II has just ended, but it was merely a means to a greater attack.

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Jes Sanders1. If you could pick just one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

If left on an island, I would probably take Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle with me. This book has it all: Great writing, social commentary, science fiction, cynicism, hope, family tension, weird religion. It’s just great!

2. Where do your inspiration and ideas for your stories come from?

For The Last Jubali, the inspiration came from two places. The first seed of the idea was a simple question: What if folklore and folk magic, that every culture has grown up with, was held to be absolutely real – and science was held in great suspicion? What if folk magic was regulated? What if science was either laughed at or persecuted?

The second seed of The Last Jubali came from a mental connection that I made between Dark Matter and Einstein’s Unified Field Theory. What if the link between electromagnetism and gravity could never be solved because there was a fifth force missing form the equation? What if this fifth force resided in a universe next to ours, and dark matter is simple the shadow of this force on our universe? And if somebody, a “psyentist,” were to master this force, they could control gravity as well as electromagnetism.

3. What do you want your tombstone to say?

My tombstone should read, “Well, that was embarrassing.”

4. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? How do you deal with this?

I really struggle with romantic dialogue. I only have a few characters who are in love. One friend told me that my dialogue read like a romance novel. Ouch! But I am learning how to have my characters speak more naturally.

5. What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that you think they need to know?

Every now and then, science fiction can rise above genre writing. Genre is a wonderful, beautiful thing. But, yes, even sci-fi can sometimes expand our understanding of the human condition, or contribute to the artistic landscape. I think of A Canticle for Liebowitz, for example. I don’t claim at all to be at this level, but it’s what I aspire to.

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The Last Jubali is currently available through Amazon.

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Friday Five: Charles and Wendy Siefken

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Today’s Friday Five focus is Charles and Wendy Siefken, authors of young adult fantasy short stories and novellas.

Wendy and Charlie are a mother and son writing team who started their career doing a school project. Five years later, Charlie has graduated high school and college they are still publishing and still writing.

Their latest work is Kai’s Journey, a trilogy about a young man, set ten years in the future. Kai has spent those years fighting for survival and trying to find a way rid the world of the disease his father created. His father was a military scientist charged with the task of perfecting a formula that would create a superior breed of soldiers. Like a virus, it soon spreads to the entire world, unleashing a period of unsurpassed chaos and conflict.

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Siefkins1. Where do your inspiration and ideas for your stories come from?

They come from everywhere. It could be a character off of a video game, or a side character out of a book or even something from a dream.

2. What are some of your favorite words and why?

Wendy’s is “Home” because all it means to us. Home represents a safe haven, love, family and comfort. Charlie’s is “Dragon” because of the images the word alone conjures.

3. What do you want your tombstones to say?

Here lies Wendy Siefken
She tried

Here lies Charlie Siefken
Respawning in ……

4. How much of your published writing is based on personal experiences?

None, there are no zombies, dragons or werewolves in real life. At least not yet.

5. What author has influenced your writing style/subject the most and why?

A combo of Terry Brooks, Rick Riordan, and Christopher Paolini. We really like their writing styles and there always seems to be hope in their stories. Charlie really liked that Christopher Paolini was a published author by the time he graduated high school. Charlie strove for that and succeeded.

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Kai’s Journey is currently available through Amazon.

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Friday Five: Timothy C. Ward

Tim WardToday’s Friday Five focus is Timothy C. Ward, author of dark fantasy and technothriller short stories, novellas, and novels.

Timothy C. Ward is a former executive producer and Hugo Nominee of Adventures in SciFi Publishing. He has been broke and lost on the other side of the world and now dreams of greater adventures from his keyboard in Des Moines, Iowa. He recently released his second Sand Divers book, Scavenger: A.I., where two parents use an ancient technology to fight a reproducing A.I. while trying to resurrect their deceased infant. His next novel is Godsknife: Revolt, an apocalyptic battle for godhood in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss. Sign up for his newsletter for news, sales, giveaways and more.

In Godsknife: Revolt, the rift between Iowa and the Abyss is thinner than it seems. Modern society meets the power and reality of myth in the new war between Chaos, Order and Maker. A priestess of Order seeking godhood unleashes a virus to mutate and enslave the human race. Those who survive to face the height of her power must choose not to bow before it.

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1. Why do you write in the genre(s) you listed above?

My style is a combination of liking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe and Goosebumps in elementary school. In middle school I discovered epic fantasy in Dragons of Autumn Twilight, literary fiction in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Catcher in the Rye, and horror in King’s Cuju, The Shining, and the Dark Tower books. I write because I loved all of them and want more and more adventures like I had growing up.

2. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? How do you deal with this?

I recently heard an interview with Robert Kroese who said there are people who can’t picture images, or something like that, so it is really hard for him to write description. I’m like him. I’ve had a lot of coaching, and I try really hard to show what’s important and let the reader use their imagination. If I show too much it slows the read, and that’s not something I can handle as a reader.

3. What literary character are you most like and why?

I’m almost as clumsy and unaware as Mr. Bean, but I wish I was as smooth as Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.

4. How much of your published writing is based on personal experiences?

Godsknife: Revolt has scenes in Iowa and South Korea, where I’ve lived. I taught English in South Korea for six months and loved it. Much of the next book in the series will alternate between South Korea and Iowa.

5. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever researched for your works or biggest/most out-of-the-ordinary thing you’ve done while researching?

Nuclear fission. In Scavenger: Evolution, I created a power source in the military base they discover that is like a micro sun that creates safe nuclear fission energy into plasma. Also, it’s ironic to think of me, someone who struggled to get a C in geology in college, writing a book in Godsknife: Revolt where Order mages have to master elements of stone and other surfaces before they can wield them and walk through them.

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Godsknife: Revolt is currently available for preorder at Amazon. Plus, you can enter to win not only a copy of Godsknife: Revolt, but also the first two Scavenger books: Evolution and A.I.!

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Friday Five: Craig A. Hart

craig hartToday’s Friday Five focus is Craig A. Hart, author of literary fiction short stories, novellas, and novels.

Craig A. Hart is the stay-at-home father of twin boys, a writer, editor, Amazon bestselling author, lover of the arts, and only human. He has served as editor-in-chief for The Rusty Nail literary magazine, manager for Sweatshoppe Media, and director of Northern Illinois Radio Information Service. He lives and writes in Iowa City with his wife, sons, and two cats.

In his debut novel, Becoming Moon, a boy struggles to be himself amid pressure from a repressive family. His desire for success causes him to betray his principles, but brings money and recognition. He is given a final chance to prove himself—but only if he is able to set his past aside. Becoming Moon can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

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1. Why should people read YOUR stuff? Who’s your target audience and why?

I try to write fiction that is so honest it hurts. I don’t avoid topics just because they’re difficult; in fact, I’m drawn to difficult, uncomfortable topics. I don’t promise an easy, heartwarming read, but I do promise to be straightforward and present the truth as I see it. If that’s your jam, come on over!

2. What are three things on your bucket list?

Spend some time writing in France.

Live in a cabin on a lake (preferably Lake Michigan, which I love).

Circle the globe and write a travel book about the experience.

3. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why? What was the best thing about that job and why?

The worst job I ever had was doing telephone surveys. There were no redeeming qualities. I lasted one day. I also drove a delivery truck in Michigan for a few years. That was difficult, because it was very physical work performed in almost every imaginable weather situation: snowstorms, sub-zero temperatures, pouring rain, heat, humidity. The good part about it was that it also gave me a lot of time to think about writing.

4. What’s your current writing project and what are your writing plans for the near future?

I’m currently working on a book that takes readers back to the town in which Becoming Moon is based. It isn’t a sequel, but it uses certain aspects that will be familiar to fans of the first book.

5. Thinking about the stuff you’ve written, who’s your favorite character and why?

My favorite character is Moon, of the eponymous novel. Nigel Moon is an aging writer who has seen success and failure, and understands the life of a writer like few others. He is a character I’d love to sit and drink with, and one I’d love to become some day.

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Becoming Moon is currently available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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Friday Five: Barry Metcalf

barryToday’s Friday Five focus is Barry Metcalf, author of mystery/thriller/crime novels.

Born in 1943 into a working-class family with middle-class aspirations, Barry began writing stories while at school and finally ventured into novels when he retired from teaching in 1997. The result was a series of murder mysteries/thrillers set in Australia featuring two unorthodox investigators who work for the fictional Strange & Obscure Cases (SOC) Unit, an autonomous offshoot of ASIO.

Three times married, with four children, Barry live in Morwell, Victoria, Australia.

In his latest, Spirit of Warrnambool, still believing their nemesis Wanda Jean is dead and buried in Broome, Martin and Claire are sent to Warrnambool to investigate a savage and despicable murder. Before they have time to collect their thoughts, more murders occur—each more bizarre than the last. Little do they know Wanda Jean is behind the latest killings, constructing a web of intrigue designed to draw the agents to her and to, ultimately, dispose of them. Have Claire and Martin finally met their match?

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1. Thinking about the stuff you’ve written, who’s your favorite character and why?

My favourite character from the Oz-Files is the evil witch, Wanda Jean. To me she is everything a woman should be–beautiful, desirable and not satisfied with being second best. She’s also the most evil creature inhabiting the earth. She won’t be satisfied until she rules the world and everyone worships her.

2. How much of your published writing is based on personal experiences?

All of my characters are based on people I know. I tend to describe friends, family, work colleagues or those I meet socially. Then I add characteristics from someone else so that no one is likely to recognise themselves. I’ve been to all the places in my novels. That way I am better able to help my readers feel as if they are actually at that location.

3. What was your attitude towards reading when you were a kid?

I don’t recall reading a lot when I was young, but after I started high school I developed an avid interest in all kinds of fiction. I used to borrow up to 5 books a week from the school library, and I would read every night until I’d finished them.

4. What genre do you currently read most and why?

These days I mostly read mystery/crime/ thrillers by a wide variety of authors. I think I enjoy these because they tend to delve into the human psyche and show human nature in its worst and best lights. I am intrigue by trying to work out why people behave the way they do.

5. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

My favourite super power would be mind control. Wanda Jean has this ability. She’s able to move objects without touching them, bend people to do her bidding and create fake scenarios that seem totally believable to those entrapped inside them.

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Spirit of Warrnambool is currently available through Amazon.

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Friday Five: Corinne Morier

corinneToday’s Friday Five focus is Corinne Morier, author of fantasy and YA short stories and novels.

Corinne Morier is a bibliophile-turned-writer with a penchant for writing stories that make readers think. In her free time, she enjoys blogging, playing video games, and swimming. Her motto is “Haters gonna hate and potatoes gonna potate.”

“The Photo” is a flash fiction story about a ghost who can’t pass on to the afterlife because he still has regrets in this world. It was published on Roane Publishing’s blog as a part of their Flash Fiction Friday series.

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1. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why? What was the best thing about that job and why?

I don’t want to say “worst job,” because there were a lot of great things about this job. Also, I’m not one to badmouth my former coworkers. But last year, I worked as a camp counselor for a summer program, and the program wasn’t very well-organized. I would say that I spent the length of the program very dissatisfied with multiple things, such as how solutions were implemented and how the counselors themselves, who worked directly with the students, were able to receive updates and information from the program directors. But I do look back on that job with great fondness – I met a lot of wonderful people, and my students were all fantastic. I don’t regret working there at all. And the best thing about that job was definitely the students – I loved interacting with them and hearing all their experiences. They really felt like my kids.

2. What’s your current writing project and what are your writing plans for the near future?

Right now, I’m working on revising and perfecting the first book in a fantasy trilogy I call The Red Sorcerer Trilogy, in preparation for publishing it. After I finish Book One, I’ll work on Books Two and Three, as well as write a few other projects I’ve got in the works, like a novel-length adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid and a book about a girl who goes to Japan to study abroad. A group of my writer friends and I are planning to publish an anthology of fairy tale retellings, and December is our tentative release date.

3. What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that you think they need to know?

Fantasy and science fiction are two different genres. When I go to the library or the bookstore, they’re always shelved together, but they have one crucial difference. While they may seem like the same thing in that both can have dragons, spaceships, aliens, or whatever else have you that doesn’t exist in the real world, fantasy doesn’t have to explain why it happened. In science fiction if you had dragons in your story, you’d have to also present a scientific reason for them to exist; for example, they evolved from dinosaurs, or something along those lines. But in fantasy, you can just say “Here be dragons” and as long as the world you create could potentially have dragons, you don’t have to explain how they evolved from pterodactyls and managed to survive all these years without detection by humans. The reader will just accept that they exist in the world of your story.

4. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever researched for your works or biggest/most out-of-the-ordinary thing you’ve done while researching?

Well, just this morning, I was looking up Australian fairy tales and found one about a family that gets eaten by a dog and then the dog gets cut up or something. I don’t remember the exact details, but I asked an Aussie friend and he says that’s about right for a fairy tale.

5. Where do your inspiration and ideas for your stories come from?

That’s very simple. There’s a company called Writer’s Inspiration, Inc. in Colorado. Every so often when I’m itching for a new story idea, I send them the processing fee of $15 and they send me a list of ideas I can use in a novel or a story.

That’s just a nice way of saying my muse is a jerk. My ideas come from all around me – my fantasy trilogy stemmed specifically from wanting to create my own roleplaying characters. My Little Mermaid novel adaptation stemmed from being eternally pissed at the ending to the Disney movie, and I decided to write a better adaptation that didn’t have a cop-out for an ending. My book about a girl who goes to Japan to study abroad stemmed from the Genki series of textbooks we used in our Japanese class in my undergrad. It all starts with that little voice inside me that goes “What if?” If I can’t shut that voice up, I write a story to answer that question. Sometimes I’m not even looking for them and I find new story ideas. My muse makes me write them all, and I want to punch him. He’s such a jerk.

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“The Photo” is currently available to read from Roane Publishing.

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Friday Five: Misty Urban

Misty UrbanToday’s Friday Five focus is Misty Urban, author of literary, historical, and contemporary fiction short stories, novellas, and novels.

Misty Urban’s short stories have appeared in various journals and her debut collection, A Lesson in Manners, won the Serena MacDonald Kennedy Award and was published by Snake Nation Press. She teaches English and coordinates the Writing Center at Muscatine Community College in Muscatine, IA.

The ten stories of A Lesson in Manners offer a how-to manual for dealing with love, lies, loss, and loneliness.

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1. What was your attitude towards reading when you were a kid?

I was born reading. I grew up in a book. My mom says I started writing stories for my younger sister at age 5. (She was 3 1/2 at the time, and apparently already reading, so, way smarter than I was.) I loved nothing more than disappearing into a book and staying there for hours.

2. What are three things on your bucket list?

Wear the Crown Jewels, swim with sharks, and breathe fire.

3. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? How do you deal with this?

I’m terrible at sex scenes. I always end up laughing and cutting them out. For a long time I wanted to be a really famous romance author, but my sex scenes are always overblown and ridiculous.

4. What do you want your tombstone to say?

“Lived well, loved much.” “Had a good time.” “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

5. What do you want your readers to take away from your works?

That no matter the depths of our staggering loss or profound loneliness, we have got to continue to breathe and look for the lifelines of beauty around us.

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A Lesson in Manners is currently available through Snake Nation Press’s website.

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Friday Five: Jodie Toohey

Jodie TooheyToday’s Friday Five focus is Jodie Toohey, author of historical fiction novels and poetry.

Jodie Toohey is the author of five books, two poetry collections – Crush and Other Love Poems for Girls (2008) and Other Side of Crazy (2013) – as well as three novels, Missing Emily: Croatian Life Letters (2012), Melody Madson – May It Please the Court? (2014), and Taming the Twisted (2015). When she is not writing fiction or poetry, Jodie helps authors, soon-to-be authors, and want-to-be authors from pre-idea to reader through her Wordsy Woman Author Services company.

In Taming the Twisted, the fictional 17-year old Abigail Sinkey finds herself entangled in abandonment, her parents’ death, a murder, scandal, and romance after a tornado destroys her town of Camanche, Iowa, on June 3, 1860.

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1. If you could pick just one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

That would be pure torture! Maybe the Bible. I’m not a religious person, but I’ve never read it, I assume it would take a long time to read it, and it might help me to remember other stories I’ve read which reference it.

2. What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that you think they need to know?

I’m not sure about the genre in general, but about my writing in historical fiction, I want them to know that I do my absolute best to make every detail historically accurate, even a lot of them they probably wouldn’t care about.

3. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

To be able to travel in time, not to be in that time period, but just to observe. It would make research so much easier.

4. What genre do you currently read most and why?

I currently usually have a historical fiction book, a business/marketing book, a research book, and a poetry book going. Because I help authors with marketing, I like to stay up to date on the industry. The research book is for the latest project I’m working on (right now, immediate post-civil war). Historical fiction and poetry is because that’s what I like to write so I like to see what others are doing; plus I simply enjoy them.

5. Why should people read YOUR stuff? Who’s your target audience and why?

My target audience is women who like to read good stories with a lot going on and learn something in the process. They are also more likely to live in, around, or at least be familiar with this geographic area.

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Taming the Twisted is currently available through Amazon.

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Friday Five: Ciara Ballintyne

ciaraToday’s Friday Five focus is Ciara Ballintyne, author of fantasy novels, novellas, and short stories.

Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a diet of adult epic fantasy, leaving her with a confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic. She is a browncoat, a saltgunner, a Whedonite, a Sherlockian, a Ringer, a Whovian…and an INTJ. Her alignment is chaotic good. Ciara lives with her husband, two daughters, and a growing menagerie that unfortunately includes no dragons. She published her debut work, Confronting the Demon, in 2013.

In the Company of the Dead is her first book with Evolved Publishing. As Death’s Left Hand, Ellaeva is forbidden to hunt down her parents’ murderer—until duty and revenge lead her to the besieged castle where Lyram Aharris serves out his exile. Together, they must fight against jealous princes and clashing gods—but the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.

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1. Thinking about the stuff you’ve written, who’s your favorite character and why?

Right now it would be Ellaeva from In the Company of the Dead, and why is because she is the most like me—not me, just the most like me. You’d think that would make writing her easier, but it actually makes it harder. You know how to write the character, but you feel more exposed doing it. I love that she’s tough and independent but vulnerable at the same time. But she’s not all emotional and illogical the way some people claim women are—her ability to make the hard, right decision will take your breath away, even as it tears her apart from the inside. Now that’s strength.

2. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

If I could have any power at all, it would be the ability to turn into a dragon. And with anything involving dragons, the question is not ‘why?’—it’s ‘why not?’

3. What are some of your favorite words and why?

Defenestrated. It’s just so deliciously and explicitly threatening. I’m not just going to kill you—I’ll defenestrate you. Also, it tickles me that there’s actually a word for this.

Susurration—doesn’t it just totally evoke the very thing inside your head?

Dearth—can’t really say why, I just think it’s a quirky little word you don’t hear enough now and that has such a cool meaning.

4. What literary character are you most like and why?

Literary characters like me are hard to find, and when you do find them, they are often villains. I’m an INTJ on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. You know who in fiction is an INTJ? Hannibal Lector. Magneto. Emperor Palpatine. The Master. Tywin Lannister. Are you getting the vibe yet? It took me a little while to find some better examples. Snape. Gregory House. OK, marginally better. Kate Beckett from Castle. That’s better, but while I like her I don’t really identify with her. Rand al’Thor from The Wheel of Time. Took me a while, but I can see it now. Still, we share certain tendencies but we’re not really alike. Oliver Queen. That was a little uncomfortable, especially in Season 3 when he appeared to have betrayed his friends—because I would have done it too.

But the one I feel is most like me? Carol in The Walking Dead. That episode with the little girls? I knew what she would do, because it was the only logical thing to do, the only real option in a post-apocalyptic world—it was the thing I would have done. Not necessarily proud of that, but there you have it.

What’s right, and what needs doing, aren’t always the same.

5. What’s your current writing project and what are your writing plans for the near future?

I am currently writing On the Edge of Death, which is the sequel to my soon-to-be-released In the In the Company of the Dead. They are the first two books in The Sundered Oath series, and I’ll be working on this series for the foreseeable future. There will be four books in total, with release dates each April until 2019. The books follow the tale of Ellaeva, the strong but lonely Left Hand of Death who has to make all the hard choices nobody else can—or will—and Lyram Aharris, a military genius exiled for breaking his prince’s nose and intent on drowning himself in a whisky bottle following the murder of his wife.

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In the Company of the Dead is currently available at Amazon.

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