Who’s That Indie Author? Jacqueline Church Simonds

Jacqueline Church Simonds

Author Name: Jacqueline Church Simonds

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Books: The Heirs to Camelot series: The Priestess of Camelot (prequel); The Midsummer Wife (Book 1); The Solstice Bride (Book 2); Mistress of the Rose Moon (Book 3)

Bio: I have been writing for as long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil. Along the way, I have been everything from a lady’s companion, to a salesperson, to a rock band roadie, to a publishing consultant. Somewhere in there, I’ve written six books and ghostwritten an additional seven to eight.

What got you started as a writer? I always told myself stories. One day, my mom suggested I write them down. It took until I was forty to actually write a novel. (I have been a professional editor, so I was always in words.)

What is your writing routine? What’s that? Seriously, I write when/as/if I have time.

What route did you take to get your books published? I self-published my first book, Captain Mary, Buccaneer (I sold all three thousand copies and foreign rights to Italy’s Harlequin Mondadori). For this series, I went with a small press.

What things do you do to promote your books? I’ve done newspaper/radio/TV interviews, podcasts, website interviews and guest hosting, signings at bookstores/libraries/author events, a table at a garage sale, and a local convention.

What is your favorite genre to read and why? I read a lot of sci-fi, but I’ll read anything not nailed down. I post my quick Book Takes on my website.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? I often write a lengthy description, then turn it into dialogue because it reads better.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book? Ava, the main character of my series, totally surprised me in the first book. In the first draft, I felt she was sort of lifeless. A fellow writer suggested I try writing in first person, so I could “hear” the main character clearly. I discovered Ava suffered from massive anxiety attacks/poor self-esteem/PTSD from a terrible event in her life. Although I went back to third person, it gave me a better handle on how to handle the character.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? I had a brain tumor and recovered almost fully from it. It changes the way you think about time and what you are doing here.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? Going back/finishing college in my thirties. Sitting down and writing that first novel. Recovering from brain tumor.

What would you tell your younger self? Own being a writer. Don’t give up because it’s hard and you’ll get no support. Get jobs writing. Write that big book that’s in your head. WRITE, DAMMIT!

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? I stopped hiking long ago, but the best method for dealing with a bear is: don’t be where there are bears.

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? I almost went with Doritos, but then I’d get that fake nacho dust on my fingers and I wouldn’t want to leave that on the pages. I guess I’d get a Snickers.

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Ten? Last family Christmas at my folks’ place before they sold it. My kitchen is pretty quiet—my Hubbers is the cook and hates anyone else in there until he’s done.

Closing thoughts: I’ve been involved in publishing for twenty-two years. I’ve helped other people get their book babies published and launch their dreams. Indie and self-publishing is a great way to get our work out. We need more readers!

Website and social media links:
Website: www.jcsimonds.com
Facebook: @jacquelinechurchsimonds
Twitter: @jcsimonds (Caution: I am VERY political and this is where I vent.)


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Who’s That Indie Author? W. L. Hawkin

W. L. Hawkin

Author Name: W. L. Hawkin (Wendy)

Genre: blended mystery/suspense/fantasy/romance

Books: Hollystone Mysteries—To Charm a Killer, To Sleep with Stones, To Render a Raven, To Kill a King, and Lure River Romances—Lure: Jesse & Hawk

Bio: W. L. Hawkin writes mysterious romantic adventures from her home on Vancouver Island, Canada. Wendy graduated from Trent University with a BA in Indigenous Studies, then went on to study English literature at SFU in British Columbia, and teach high school. She found her voice publishing poetry and Native Rights articles in Canadian news magazines and is now an Indie author/publisher at Blue Haven Press.

What got you started as a writer? I started writing poetry as a teenager to make sense of my world: “It’s a maze. It’s a haze. It’s a crazy place.” But when I saw Romancing the Stone in the 1980s, I wanted to be a romance novelist. Shortly after that, I wrote the first draft of what has become my latest romantic suspense release (Lure: Jesse & Hawk).

What is your writing routine? I write when the muse is with me and then for as long as my body holds out—some days six hours if I’m on, and other days not at all.

What routes did you take to get your books published? When I first wrote To Charm a Killer, I sent it to a few agents and publishers. I had some interest, but no one wanted to commit to a first-time author who wrote blended genres. It’s hard to sell.  So, I took a chance and published it myself. By that time, I’d finished my fourth book in the Hollystone Mysteries, I’d learned the ropes.

What things do you do to promote your books? I created a solid website and keep it updated. I enter contests and do readings/sales in my local community. Last year, I started working with a publicist who booked me on all kinds of media (TV, radio, podcasts, magazines) so I became comfortable talking about myself and my work (again, not easy for an introvert). I’m now able to approach people like you, Barb, and ask.

What is your favorite genre to read and why? Mystery/suspense is my favourite, no matter what century it’s set, and that’s what I write as well. Sometimes I venture into fantasy and action/adventure. I’m a regular reviewer with the Ottawa Review of Books so receive excellent ARCs from Canadian publishers.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? I don’t have a preference and you need to balance both in a scene to make it dynamic.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book? Absolutely, and often. Once I connect with my characters, I meditate to get into an almost trance-like space where I can see and hear what’s happening. I’ve had reviewers say my writer is “cinematic” and I think that’s why. In To Sleep with Stones, one of the characters died in a very dramatic scene and I had no idea that was going to happen. I wrote that sequence in tears, and I think that raw emotion comes through to the reader.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? I quit high school in grade ten. In my mid-thirties, I was compelled to finish. One of the courses was Native Ancestry 11, and I had such an epiphany with that content, I wanted to go on and take university courses in Indigenous Studies. Coincidentally, I wrote the first draft of Lure: Jesse & Hawk, my latest release during that time. My ex-husband didn’t support me, so I left my marriage and completed my B.A. as a single mother going part-time to university courses for years. That was a challenging time, but also a healing time for me.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? One: reading The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell in 1990 blew open my world and taught me to follow my “bliss.” Two: leaving my marriage and taking my young daughter taught me many things about living in this world. Three: graduating from university and getting my first paying gig as a teacher gave me financial independence and a sense of moral/ethical living in a community.

What would you tell your younger self? Borrowing from my mentor, Joseph Campbell, I’d say follow your passion, your bliss, and doors will open for you. Bundle up your problems and leave them outside, then walk through that door carrying a sense of curiosity, wonder, and hope.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? I sure have! I live in the Pacific Northwest on bear territory so regularly see them. Remember that you’re a guest on their land, back up slowly, and give them the right of way. Hawk meets up with a bear in Lure, and unfortunately, he’s unable to back up and walk away, but that’s another story.

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? Doritos by default, despite the crumbs. I can’t eat gluten or cow dairy so until they start making junk food gluten free, and chocolate out of water buffalo milk and/or pure cocoa butter, I’ll stick to my corn chips.

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? In my whole lifetime? Probably a dozen at my parent’s wedding anniversary.

Website and social media links:
Website: Blue Haven Press
Linktree: https://linktr.ee/wlhawkin


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Who’s That Indie Author? Bjørn Larssen

Author Name: Bjørn Larssen

Genre: historical fiction, fantasy

Books: Storytellers (historical fiction set in Iceland), Children (a dark Norse myth retelling), Why Odin Drinks (humorous Norse myth retelling)

Bio: Bjørn Larssen is a Norse heathen made in Poland, but mostly located in a Dutch suburb, except for his heart which he lost in Iceland. He has a degree in mathematics and has worked as a graphic designer, a model, a bartender, and a blacksmith (not all at the same time). Winner of Queer Indie Lit award, Stabby nominee, Eric Hoffer Grand Prize Award finalist.

What got you started as a writer? In 2015 I tried to lift a massive Ikea kitchen unit and ended in a special profiled chair, only left to eat, sleep, and see doctors. I’ve always told people I’d totally write a book if I had time. Well, now I had all the time, a life I needed to escape, and a story demanding to be told…

What is your writing routine? I don’t really have one. There are days when I write for hours, followed by days when I just keep existing until I can go to bed and hope for a better tomorrow.

What route did you take to get your books published? During work on Storytellers, my debut, I was researching various forms of publishing. It turned out that traditional publishing had nothing to offer me except validation—after years of rejections from agents and editors, of course. I never received a single rejection, because I never sent a single query. I chose self-publishing and I have no regrets.

What things do you do to promote your books? I post silly stuff on Twitter and Facebook, I have a mailing list, a ko-fi page, a website in dire need of updating. I write guest posts or do interviews like this one 🙂 I’ve been just about to join TikTok for at least a year. Not that I’m afraid or anything…

What is your favorite genre to read and why? In 2019-2020 I went through lots of grimdark, then suddenly reality started doing whatever it is that it’s doing. I switched to romcoms and humour, and stayed there.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? Dialogue—once I find the character’s voice. Readers tell me my descriptions are great—the word “cinematic” gets used a lot. They have no idea what I see, hear, taste, smell, and fail to describe well enough.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book? When I try to force a character to do something for the sake of the plot, they often cross their arms on their chest and announce “Nope, I wouldn’t do that.” Unfortunately they don’t tell me what they would do instead. It’s up to me to tweak the plot and hope they like the new one.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? Moving from Poland to the Netherlands. It was the best, the scariest, and the BIGGEST decision I have ever made. The only thing I ever regretted was not doing it earlier.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson and Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh are two books that literally saved my life. And… my therapist. After two years of c-PTSD therapy I’m such a different person that I need to get re-acquainted with myself. So far I seem quite nice.

What would you tell your younger self? Just because you are forced to do adult things, that doesn’t mean you’re an adult. Don’t be so hard on yourself. (Then I’d give him a long, warm hug.) And don’t lift kitchen units.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? In the gay community, a “bear” is a big, hairy beast of a man. I have met up with a bear or two on hikes. 😉

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? Snickers. I don’t like Doritos (pauses for gasps to subside), I don’t know Fudge Pop Tarts, and I don’t like taking risks when I can only pick one.

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Oh, ten or so? In a kitchen made for two if they really like each other? Every good party ends up moving to the kitchen, it’s a law.

Closing thoughts: I always blank at open questions… um… Sam Ryder is a human golden retriever. It’s a thought, right?

Thank you so much for having me!

Website and social media links:
Website: www.bjornlarssen.com
Twitter: @bjornlarssen
Instagram: bjorn_larssen


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Who’s That Indie Author? Leon Stevens

Author Name: Leon Stevens

Genre: Poetry and Science Fiction

Books: Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, A Wonder of Words, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, The View from Here, Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar

Bio: I am a Canadian multi-genre author, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and artist with a Bachelor of Music and Education.

What got you started as a writer? I became a writer out of necessity. Along with songwriting, poetry was therapeutic and allowed me to accept and make sense of events and situations in my life. I decided that what I wrote could help and entertain others, so I decided to publish my first book of poetry.

What is your writing routine? I don’t have a set routine. However, most of my blog posts are written in the morning, so often, I’ll write a few things down after that. I’m a slow writer and will often write when inspiration strikes. I do try to write each day.

What route did you take to get your books published? I made a mistake that many new authors have made and used a vanity press to publish. I had no idea what to do, so it seemed to be the quickest and easiest way. They did provide a lot of invaluable publishing and marketing information and took care of the distribution. All my other books have been through KDP.

What things do you do to promote your books? Like most indie authors, money is a concern. Advertising costs vary greatly, and it’s a lot of work and research to decide where the investment will be the most effective. I also use BookFunnel and StoryOrigin to connect with other authors to promote to their readership. I have been interviewing authors as well, which is a great way to not only help promote their work but to introduce mine to others.

What is your favorite genre to read and why? I try to read a variety of genres, but I am very picky, so many books get left unfinished. Science fiction and historical fiction is what I prefer.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? I used to struggle with dialogue. Often, if I am getting stuck with descriptions, I’ll just write dialogue to get things moving. Also, I’m not one for writing lengthy descriptions, which is probably why when I set out to write my first novel, it wound up being a novella.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book?
Nah. They’re pretty open to dealing with the situations I put them in. I haven’t heard any complaints. Yet.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life?  Probably getting my degrees. 

What events or people have most influenced how you live your life? I think my father has had the most influence. He was the one who instilled the love of science fiction in me at a young age. He is such a hard worker, and I’ve never seen him get mad or complain. When people say, “You’re just like your dad.” I know I’m doing something right.

What would you tell your younger self? Funny you should ask. In my latest poetry book, I wrote about just that.

What I Want to be When I’m Young

I want to listen more. To the people who know better. To the people who say, “Don’t make the same mistakes that I did.” Learning from mistakes? Sure, we do have to make errors in life sometimes, but what’s wrong with looking up how to spell a word or use spell-check…? Nothing.

I want to set goals. Obtainable ones. Despite what people say, you can’t be anything you want to be. That’s a lie. There are some things that you just won’t be able to do. Although, by trying and failing, you will find out what you are good at.

I want to be a better student. I didn’t try my best. I think that I needed glasses. I didn’t understand the importance of learning—the importance of wanting to learn.

I want to not be a quitter. Piano, guitar, sports. I should have tried harder. Much harder.

I want to save 10% of all my earnings. I shudder to do the calculations. I never made a lot, but my father-in-law always said that compound interest was the eighth wonder of the world. He was right.

I want to be brave. Not reckless, just not so afraid.

I want to stay awake so that I can see Halley’s comet.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? I have. Sort of. We could hear the bear just around the corner. There was a tree moving, so it was probably scratching it. We turned around and headed back to the tent. The next day we successfully completed the hike with no encounters. Except for the angry squirrel.

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? No contest. Snickers. It’s a delicious meal. But those Doritos are looking pretty tasty. Just my luck, whatever I buy will get stuck.

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Interesting question. Had I known I’d be asked this later in my life, I might have kept a record. It’s funny how people gravitate to kitchens during get-togethers. Closer to the food and beer I suppose.

Closing thoughts: Thank you for having me here. Any opportunity to get the word out about my books is appreciated.  

Website and social media links: I have recently discovered linktree, so all my links can be found in one handy place: https://linktr.ee/leonstevens


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Who’s That Indie Author? Mark Paxson

Author Name: Mark Paxson

Genre: Primarily literary, but a little bit of everything, including a legal drama (my first novel), and a domestic thriller (my current WIP)

Books: One Night in Bridgeport; Shady Acres and Other Stories; The Marfa Lights and Other Stories; Deviation; The Irrepairable Past; and The Dime

Bio: A semi-retired government attorney, I live in California. Two adult sons, two dogs, a wife, and a whole bunch of interests like painting, writing, cycling, hiking, gardening, cooking and baking that keep me motivated to keep exploring.

What got you started as a writer? I’ve always been a voracious reader but didn’t believe I could write, although I spent years imagining writing a novel. One day, almost 20 years ago, I outlined a story in my head on my drive home and I’ve been writing ever since.

What is your writing routine? I have a bit of a block that has lasted for a number of years and I allow all of life’s distractions to deprive me of a writing routine. But … these days, I write when I can and am making a little bit of headway. Typically Saturday or Sunday afternoons when I’m simply worn out by all of the distractions.

What route did you take to get published? With my first novel, I tried a little bit to get an agent. Without success there, I turned to what was then CreateSpace to publish a paperback and used KDP to publish the eBook. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since. With my last novel, The Dime, I tried again to get an agent without any success. I apparently don’t know the secret handshake.

What things do you do to promote your books? I have two blogs that I use to share news about my writing and publishing. I also use Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook but not relentlessly like some authors. When I publish something, I post and tweet about it. And occasionally when I get a good review, I’ll use that to remind people that I’ve got books out there. I also try some of the promo sites, but have found almost no success with them lately.

What is your favorite genre to read and why? This may be the most difficult question to answer. I’ll read anything. The books that have the most meaning to me are the ones that make me feel something deeply. I’m not ashamed to cry while I’m reading.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? Dialogue. I’m not a fan of a lot of description when I’m reading and I think that comes across in my writing as well. I want to leave things to the reader’s imagination and just tell the story. If the description isn’t relevant to the story, I try to avoid it.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book? I’m a pantser so I’d have to say that my characters don’t surprise me. I generally start with an idea, a concept, and then I start writing. The entire thing is somewhat of a surprise for me as a result, which is what helps me write. It’s when I figure out the “rest of the story” when the block settles in because the surprises are over.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? Raising two boys to adulthood. Nothing else compares.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? I can’t deny the influence my parents had. My dad was (still is at the age of 89) a writer. My parents gifted to me a love of reading and my mom has always been one of the biggest fans of my writing. And then there is the birth of those two boys—two little munchkins who changed my life forever.

What would you tell your younger self? Be bolder, don’t be so scared.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? Great question. No and I hope I never do. Where I hike, I’m more concerned with mountain lions. All I know is “make yourself as large as possible!”

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? Totally a Snickers. Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts are the only ones worth eating. Doritos are meh. Snickers has everything that makes a candy bar a candy bar.

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Probably around 10-12. I make pizza and occasionally have pizza parties. Instead of hanging out elsewhere, most of the attendees like to hang out in the kitchen while I make the pizza.

Closing thoughts: Thanks for giving me this opportunity to share my writing. I’m a big fan of indie writers and think we need to do everything we can to support each other.

Website and social media links:
Blog: kingmidgetramblings.wordpress.com
Website: markpaxson.com
Writers group: writerssupportingwriters.com
Twitter: @mkpaxson


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Who’s That Indie Author? Geoff Le Pard

Author Name: Geoff Le Pard

Genres: magical realism, mystery, relationship, thriller, comedy/coming of age, poetry, anthologies of short fiction, contemporary/ gritty urban and a memoir

Selected Books: Life Sentences (2022); The Art of Spirit Capture (2021); Booms and Busts (2020); Walking into Trouble (2020); Buster and Moo (2017). For more titles visit: geofflepard.com.

Bio: I started writing to entertain in 2006. I haven’t left the keyboard since. When I’m not churning out novels, I write some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blog, I walk the dog for mutual inspiration and most of my best ideas come out of these strolls. I also cook with passion if not precision.

What got you started as a writer? My wife suggested I join her at a summer school where she was taking a printing class. We ballroom danced in the morning and, in the afternoon, while she printed I took a creative writing class.

What is your writing routine? Mostly I start writing from about 4 pm, stop to cook dinner and begin again ending at any time between 9.30 pm and 1.00 am. I try and write daily

What route did you take to get your books published? I briefly flirted with approaching agents but thought better of it. I didn’t want to delay; I didn’t want to be told to make major revisions that I might well not agree with. Self-publishing is so straightforward these days I thought, why not go that route. Publishing has not been about kudos or sales but to stop myself tinkering with the latest book. Once it is published I leave it alone. Before that I’m always nibbling away at it.

What things do you do to promote your books? A bit on the blog I write. Occasional guest posts and pieces like this.

What is your favorite genre to read and why? Probably crime fiction. I like well plotted books with good characters and intriguing stories. After that it is comic fantasy.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? Dialogue

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book? Every time. It’s true they take over. If you let them into your subconscious they work away at you until you do what you’re told.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? Staying in the same job for thirty-five years—a quite extraordinary example of patience, determination and a supreme lack of imagining alternatives.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? My wife is (and has been since we met in 1976) a constant source of guidance, surprise and ruthless criticism; being able to obtain a high quality and free education right through to my degree that allowed me to become a lawyer in the City of London just when the need for financial legal services exploded in the 1980s; and the example of my parents who combined humour, old fashioned manners, a love of literature and the spoken word, a deep affection, an utterly surreal take on some aspects of life, kindness and a love of cake and gardening.

What would you tell your younger self? Stop worrying and yes, your nose will always look too big.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? I read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson who has a section on human-ursus interfaces and what to do. My main take away was not to eat Snickers. The nearest bear to me right now is a small statue of my ursine hero Paddington at the station he is name after.

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? Doritos. Pop Tarts are merely jam that has not had the packaging removed; fudge can only be eaten with tea or coffee or my fillings rebel at the excess of sugar and Snickers remind me of Bryson’s advice.

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? We have had several parties here so we’ve squeezed in a fair number but probably something like the seventy-two teenagers.

Closing thoughts: Having lived to be three score years and five, I have reached a few tentative conclusions about living life well: try most everything once; look up more than down or you will buy too many shoes; outdoors is better than in so long as you wear the right clothing; instant coffee never gets any better; failure is a myth—it’s just another example of ‘not yet’; everything will be alright in the end and if it’s not yet alright, it’s not yet the end; and there’s good in everyone.

Website and social media links:
Blog: TanGental
Twitter: @geofflepard
Facebook: Geoff Le Pard
Instagram: geofflepard1


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Who’s That Indie Author? Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster

Author Name: Darlene Foster

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Books: Amanda in Malta, Amanda in Holland, Amanda in New Mexico, Amanda on the Danube, Amanda in Alberta, Amanda in England, Amanda in Spain, Amanda in Arabia

Bio: Darlene Foster, a long-time dreamer and tale spinner, is the author of the exciting Amanda Travels series featuring spunky Amanda Ross, a twelve-year-old girl who loves to travel. All ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in unique destinations. When not travelling herself, Darlene divides her time between Canada’s west coast and the Spanish Costa Blanca with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia. 

What got you started as a writer? I’ve been telling stories since I could talk. My grade-three teacher encouraged me to write my stories down, so that got me started. I had a short story published in a local newspaper when I was twelve years old. And I’ve been writing ever since.

What is your writing routine? Now that I am retired I don’t have as much of a writing routine as I did when I was working full time. I still try to write for a couple of hours each day. It often ends up in the evening after dinner as I tend to get busy during the day—walking the dogs, going for coffee, reading on my terrace, you know, things retired people do.

What route did you take to get your books published? I spent five years sending out query letters looking for a publisher for my first book. Every rejection letter was like a stab to my heart. But, as time went on, the letters became nicer and more encouraging. So I didn’t give up. Eventually a small independent Canadian publisher showed interest in e-publishing Amada in Arabia. I was delighted as e-publishing was just taking off. It did well and my publisher decided to offer the book in a printed version as well. She also asked me if I would consider a series. As it happened, I had another book written by then and had ideas for a couple more.

What things do you do to promote your books? My favourite thing to do is visit schools and libraries, reading from my books and discussing writing with young readers. One young boy was so excited to meet me, he made me feel like a rock star! He loved my books and I’m sure he told his friends. I also visit book stores and coffee shops to do signings. The other part of promotion is on-line. I am on all the popular social media sites and have a blog. For the past two years, in person visits have been limited so promoting online has been essential. I have also been doing virtual school visits which has been fun. I’ve been to Ireland, England, and a number of places in the US and didn’t have to fly there!

What is your favorite genre to read and why? I read a mix of genres but my favourite are historical novels. I love reading about people and events from the past. I’m currently reading War and Peace as part of a read-along, and I am learning a lot about Russia during the Napoleonic wars. We can learn a lot about people by reading historic books.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? Initially I preferred writing description, but I soon learned that readers, especially young readers, prefer dialogue. Now I enjoy writing dialogue. I have learned that it can move the action along and provide description as well. Better to hear someone describe something than to read detailed descriptions by the writer.  Dialogue keeps the reader connected to the characters.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book? Characters do surprise me at times. Amanda sometimes does things she shouldn’t, but I let her as she has to learn how to get herself out of bad situations. Since I am a pantster and don’t plot out my books, this doesn’t change anything but moves the plot along.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? I packed up and moved from Canada to Spain seven years ago. That was very difficult but it was something I wanted to do for a long time. I’m happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? That’s easy, my mom, my dad and Miss Roll, my grade-three teacher. My parents taught me the value of hard work, honesty and kindness, my teacher taught me to follow my dreams.

What would you tell your younger self? I would tell my younger self to stop worrying. I come from a long line of worriers and have spent way too much of my life worrying about things I have no control over and many things that never happened. I have found that if you don’t worry about things, they always work out the way they are supposed to.  

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? I have never met up with a bear on a hike. They say to play dead but I’m afraid I would run like hell! I used to have nightmares about bears as a child, even though we lived in an area where there were no bears. I believe it was Goldilocks and the Three Bears that caused this fear.

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? I would choose the fudge pop tarts because they would keep me full longer. There are worse things than being locked in a library!

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? My kitchen here in Spain is very small and I have ever only had myself and one other person in it. Even that was awkward. I loved those huge old farm kitchens where dozens of people would gather.  Great memories. The kitchen was the hub of family life.

Closing thoughts: Thanks so much for featuring me here on your interesting blog. I enjoyed answering your thought provoking questions. Some of which stirred up memories. Now I hope I don’t have any bear nightmares.

Website and social media links:
Website
Facebook
Amazon author page
WordPress Blog
Goodreads
Twitter


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Who’s That Indie Author? Christina Consolino

Christina Consolino

Author Name: Christina Consolino

Genre: Women’s Fiction with romantic elements

Book: Rewrite the Stars

Bio: Christina Consolino is a writer and editor whose debut novel, Rewrite the Stars, placed as a finalist for the Ohio Writers’ Association Great Novel Contest 2020 and the 2021 Best Book Awards. She serves as senior editor at the online journal Literary Mama, freelance edits both fiction and nonfiction, and teaches writing classes at Word’s Worth Writing Center. She lives in Ohio with her husband, four children, and a rotating cast of pets.

What got you started as a writer? Writing is something I have always wanted to do, and when my children were little, I blogged (mostly to appease the little voice inside that kept telling me to write). When that voice changed to a character prodding me to tell their story, I took up the call to write. That was a decade ago.

What is your writing routine? After the alarm rings at 5:15 a.m., I grab my computer, coffee, and water, and I sit with my cats in the dining room as I work. I can get about an hour of work in before my obligations for the day begin, but I try to squeeze in fifteen-minute chunks of writing time in my day. And sometimes, I block off entire days for writing (those seem like gifts!).

What route did you take to get your book published? This book took so long to become the book it is today (eight years), and during that time, my outlook on publishing and what I wanted changed. In the end, I pursued a small publisher because that model would work best for me, my goals, and my family.

What things do you do to promote your book? I can cheerlead anyone else, but when it comes time to cheerlead for myself—I just hate it. But no one will support your work if you don’t, so I do what I can with my limited time, primarily using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for posts, and I have been featured on podcasts or in written interviews like this one (thank you so much!).

What is your favorite genre to read and why? I’d have to say women’s fiction with romantic elements (which makes sense, since that’s what I write!). However, with the thriller genre back in favor (or maybe it never left), I’ve realized that I do enjoy a good thriller.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? Dialogue!

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book? I won’t go into the whole story (if you’re interested, you can read about it here), but at one point, Theo (now a POV character in Rewrite the Stars), said to me, “Excuse me? I need to tell my side of the story.” The fact that he wanted to tell his story really surprised me, and I had to perform an entire structural rewrite of the book.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? I got married, got pregnant, and gave birth to twins while in graduate school. That meant that I needed to write a dissertation and defend that dissertation with two infants at home. It took a village, but I did it! Come to find out, that was only slightly more difficult than birthing a book.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? My husband—he’s far more chill than I am, and I’ve learned that there’s no need to worry about most things. My parents—every day I apply what they did or didn’t do to my own situation. My children—they are far wiser about many things, and they teach me something new every day.

What would you tell your younger self? Be confident, be kind, believe in yourself.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? No. When I visited Sequoia National Park, I was warned of bears, but I did not encounter one. And no, I’m not looking up what to do right now. But I probably should!

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? Being locked in a library sounds divine! And I’d go for the Snickers. That little bit of protein from the peanuts would keep me more satisfied than the others!

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Twenty.

Closing thoughts: Thank you so much for having me! I love hearing from readers and writers, so feel free to reach out to me via any of the venues listed below!

Website and social media links:
Website: christinaconsolino.com
Twitter: @cmconsolino
Instagram: @cmconsolino
Facebook: @AuthorChristinaConsolino


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Who’s That Indie Author? Sheila M. Cronin

Author Name: Sheila M. Cronin                        

Genre: Fiction

Books: The Gift Counselor, Best of All Gifts, Heart Shaped (out of print), Heart Shaped II, a collection of short stories.

Brief bio: I was born and raised in Chicago, the third eldest of ten. After earning my graduate degree in Philadelphia, I taught and practiced art therapy there until relocating to Los Angeles to pursue my talents in art, music, writing plays and screenplays. Upon returning to Chicago, I adapted one of my screenplays into a novel and named the characters in the story for the streets of the neighborhood where I grew up.

What got you started as a writer? For as long as I can remember I have been writing. My first poem was published in childhood and I remember the thrill of seeing it in print. I began to keep a diary in grade school. My mother was a non-fiction writer and her disciplined approach to her work influenced me steadily as I was growing up. In college, I transferred to journaling. Though an art major, I found that some things were better expressed through words.

What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? Being laid off from my last job and not finding another job quickly made me finally stop looking and take up a novel I had begun writing years earlier. Reading The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron further convinced me that if I didn’t do it, no one else would.

One of my novel’s earliest and strongest fans was my youngest sister, Ellyn. After I told her the plot, whenever we got together, she always, always asked me how the book was coming along. She loved it and encouraged me to keep going when I had doubts. Ellyn’s son inspired certain aspects of the ten-year-old character in my book. We lost Ellyn to cancer before the book was published. It’s hard to put into words how much her courage inspired me. No doubt, many readers here will be able to imagine the effect her loss had on me and how it made me want to persevere.

Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? No.

What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book?

  • Get started and have fun. There’s no right or wrong way to write. There’s your way. Trust it.
  • If you find writing too lonely, join a good writing group or class.
  • If you can’t find a writing group, sign up one or two beta readers.
  • Read other books while you write, for encouragement and suggestions on how to solve plot problems and to expand your vocabulary.
  • Get a short story or two published before you publish your book. Check out the short story guidelines in Woman’s World Magazine, for example. That’s where I started and became a paid writer.
  • Learn how to use social media for marketing, promoting and networking.
  • Prepare to wait. Waiting is Job One when your goal is to get published.
  • Believe that you will be given the things you need to achieve your goal.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid? The isolation! My writing group used to meet in person at a restaurant. While I am grateful that we can continue to meet online, nothing takes the place of live gatherings. At first, I kept working on my third novel and other projects with no disruption. But as time wore on, I found it harder and harder to work. So, instead I read and, because books never let me down, I eventually found my drive again.

What are you reading right now? This is Happiness by Niall Williams.

Would you rather laugh or cry over a book? I enjoy books that move me either way. Since my own writing is most often described as heartwarming, I savor the stories that make me cry. The books that make me stop and catch my breath—those are the gems.

Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? Though I loved climbing trees as a child, I never read a book in one.

Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean? Not that I recall. However, one time I did buy the same book twice. It was a prayer book that I had misplaced at church. About a year after I lost it, I went back to the same bookstore and bought another copy—or so I thought. Later at home, I found a mark I had made in it when I first owned it!

Could you live in a tiny house? I already do. I live in a studio apartment. If I had a choice, I’d prefer to have a studio as well as a house!

What are the small things that make you happy? I am delighted when I go to the store for a specific item and find only one on the shelf, like it was waiting there just for me. I am grateful for the miracle of sound recording. Whether via voice mail, or YouTube or radio or television or streaming, to be able to hear a beloved voice when the person is far away or unavailable is to me one of the greatest gifts of living in modern times. I never take for granted clean, accessible running water.

Website and social media links:
Website: giftcounselorbook.com
Twitter: @sheilamcronin
Alignable: Sheila M Cronin
Linkedin:  Sheila Cronin
Goodreads: The Gift Counselor


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Who’s That Indie Author? Gail Aldwin

Author Name: Gail Aldwin

Genre: Contemporary fiction

Books: This Much Huxley Knows, The String Games 

Brief bio: I am a British writer who has lived and worked in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda and Spain. As well as novels, short fiction and poetry, I co-write short plays and comedy sketches that are staged in my home county of Dorset. I love to appear at national and international literary festivals, including input at the Mani Lit Fest in Greece 2021.

What got you started as a writer? When I lived overseas, the letters and emails I sent home were the start of my journey to becoming a published author. When I ran out of anecdotes to share, I began making them up and developed the skills to write fiction.

What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? As a writer you need plenty of resilience. It’s a competitive field and to get published involves a lot of rejections. When I lived in Uganda, I volunteered at a refugee settlement for those fleeing conflict in South Sudan. I had such respect for the children and families who owned nothing but still found joy. My living conditions were tough with little piped water and a poor supply of electricity. I learnt how to toughen up from the refugees I worked with and I carry that experience with me today.

What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book? Seek beta readers to offer feedback on your work. Keep polishing your novel until it feels like you can recite every word.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid? As the weekdays and the weekends merged during lockdown, I found it difficult to focus on writing. That’s when I joined Writers’ Hour with the London Writers’ Salon. Each weekday morning at 8am I joined a Zoom call which provided a kick start to get my writing going.

What are you reading right now? Tangled Lies by Karen E Osborne. It’s such a great book with standout characters.

Would you rather laugh or cry over a book? Laugh. It’s especially important to see the funny side during these Covid days.

Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? No, but the young narrator in This Much Huxley Knows climbs trees and gets stuck at the top. Passing friends help to talk him down.

Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean? That is a criminal question. The worse thing I’ve ever done is to drop a book, see it catch the wind and chase it along the road.

Could you live in a tiny house? Oh yes! I love small spaces and used to spend hours sitting in the airing cupboard when I was a girl. To get into the mind of the young narrator in This Much Huxley Knows I recreated that experience to connect with the thoughts, worries, joys and preoccupations of a child and feed these into my novel.

What are the small things that make you happy? Sunlight turning leaves golden in autumn.

Website and social media links:
Twitter: @gailaldwin
Facebook: @gailaldwinwriter
Instagram: gailfaldwin
Blog: gailaldwin.com


Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

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