Archive for the ‘Center Stage Moment’ Category

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Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with characters we love and want to call friends.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you S.E. Summa!

Shan photo

I live just south of Nashville with my husband and a menagerie of spoiled pets. After my daughter left the nest, I rediscovered my love for writing. Growing up in Nashville, I always felt the city’s unique culture and landmarks would be the perfect setting for monsters to play. I graduated magna cum laude with a BBA from Belmont University.

I’m a PRO member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), and I serve as the Volunteer and Membership Coordinator for my local chapter, the Music City Romance Writers (MCRW).

Inspired by my fantastic experience at UtopYA Con 2015 (now UtopiaCon), I started The Debut Collective, an online community of authors committed to publishing by June 2016. The Debut Collective is a supportive tribe of authors (both published and aspiring), editors, formatters, and cover designers working together to foster a new generation of stories and authors.

Without further ado, here is S.E.’s interview…

I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer? Yes and no. When I was younger, I dreamed of writing books and as a tween/teen I teased my mother non-stop for watching the TV show Murder, She Wrote—while secretly wishing I could grow up to be an author. (Though, why ANYONE would be friends with Jessica Fletcher was beyond me. People dropped like flies around that lady!) [LOL! I watched the show with my mother.]

Then life happened and I put my dream aside. I raised a daughter and graduated with a sensible accounting degree. I would often go a year or more without even reading for entertainment.

It wasn’t until the sudden loss of someone very precious to me that I was knocked out of my comfort zone. While grieving, I could think of only one thing that made me feel a sliver of happiness… books. On a whim, I went to the 2013 Southern Festival of Books thinking just maybe I’d start a book blog or maybe I wouldn’t— but at least I was leaving the house for a change and that in itself was huge.

While listening to Myra McEntire share how she became an author, I felt a spark. For three days in a row, I drove downtown alone and by the time the festival ended, I felt alive again with a burning need to write. The next month I won my first NaNoWriMo and have been writing and educating myself on the publishing industry ever since.

Why did you choose to write dark fantasy and horror stories? My first thought is, “Spooky is what comes out.” I’ve always been drawn to darker stories: ghosts, haunted houses, curses, witches, and any type of monster really.

As a child, I could often be found at the library with books stacked to my chin. My mother usually scanning the titles while making “the face.” You know the one, all parental units have it perfected. Followed by something like, “Shanna, can’t you get one book without ghosts, witches, or monsters? What about horses? You like horses.” I never did go back to the shelves for a book on horses. So, it’s only natural I’m compelled to write dark fantasy and horror stories.

Or I could just go with a quote from Stephen King to explain, “People want to know why I do this, why I write such gross stuff. I like to tell them I have the heart of a small boy… and I keep it in a jar on my desk.” Ha ha! [Along with his brain…. Maybe?]

What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written?  Hmm… Everything I’ve ever written has an element of strangeness to it: sin eaters, Spellcasters, curseweavers, undead ballerinas, ghosts/specters, possession, and then I have a growing list of beasties of my own creation.  [I can’t wait to read those. The created ones are always the most interesting!]

My web search history is a peculiar and a macabre collection of strange.

What are you currently working on? 

My upcoming release Much Of Madness (Spring 2016) is in the hands of my talented editor, Kathy Lapeyre. So I’m drafting the sequel More Of Sin and revising a serial, The Betwixt Files: Jack. I plan to release both in 2016.

I also recently finished editing notes for four short stories that will be released in the upcoming Debut Collective anthology series in June 2016. (Two stories tied to Much Of Madness & one tied to The Betwixt Files.)

Here’s a sneak peek at the cover blurb for Much Of Madness [This is not the cover art. It’s merely a backdrop for the blurb.]:

SE Summa's cover blurb

 

 

Much Of Madness is a modern Gothic horror story about loyalty, sacrifice, and discovering the courage to love no matter the odds.

What motivated the plot of your latest book? First, came my tormented Sin Eater, Finn. I could picture him perfectly with skin and hair faded pale white by the supernatural sins for which he had atoned. Next came his feisty Spellcaster best friend, Seraphina, who helps Finn hold on to his humanity and run their apothecary for supernaturals in downtown Nashville. The curses, creatures, and mayhem grew from there. [Love it!]

What was the hardest story for you to write? Much Of Madness was my first and most difficult so far. I wrote it as a “pantser” with no real idea of where it was going. But I loved the characters enough to deconstruct it and rework it over and over, until I had transformed it into a story I was ready to share.

 What process do you use to plan your novels?  I am a self-professed Plotter McPlottypants. While enduring the countless revisions for Much Of Madness, I took a plotting by color workshop by Author Cherry Adair and was forever changed. I’ve morphed some of Cherry’s ideas into my own method and switched from post-its to an Excel spreadsheet. I know the who, where, and plot point of every chapter before I ever sit down to write. The characters, however, have full freedom to react to the plot in whatever way is natural for them, so there’s always an element of unknown as I begin each chapter. [Ah, a RECOVERING pantser…]

Who has been your favorite character to write and why? I have a soft spot for my little ghost, Rolf. Rolf is a “dog boy” with hypertrichosis (AKA werewolf syndrome) murdered long ago while traveling through Nashville with a carnival. Seraphina befriends and brings the lonely, rambunctious ghost home while she tries to help him crossover into the Veil. Rolf’s shenanigans wreak havoc in the apothecary, but he proves his bravery.  [Sounds like an interesting character.]

Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? There are small fragments of my personality in most of my characters, but they all branch off into their own unique identities.

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? I have and for me it comes purely from fear. Once I work through my fears and get out of my own head, the words come back.

If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? I have a science fiction/fantasy story fully plotted that both thrills and scares the heebie-jeebies out of me. I will write it eventually, but I’m not quite ready yet. [You can do it!]

Which authors inspire you? Such a tough question! Currently, anyone brave enough to keep publishing over and over. The more precise answer is Stephen King, JK Rowling, Laini Taylor, Edgar Allen Poe, Libba Bray, and Victoria Schwab are all favorites.

What novel would you read multiple times? There are too many wonderful stories I’ve yet to experience. I very rarely reread. But if I were going to reread any series, it would be Harry Potter. I think it would be interesting to revisit that world from the perspective of a writer. [I’m about to be a FIRST time reader of Harry Potter!]

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? Mahatma Gandhi. I’ve admired him since I was a small child. I watched the Gandhi movie when I was eight and fully believe that experience helped form my beliefs about people, animals, and politics.

What is your favorite quote? [She has TWO!]

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

—Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? All of them. But I have a particular fascination with octopuses. (I was shocked to recently learn the plural is NOT octopi!) Their intelligence, beauty, and adaptability are fascinating. I could watch videos of octopuses on YouTube all day. tumblr_msyan63vgr1sntiu8o2_1280

What is your favorite color? Black. I go through phases of liking bright colors, but my forever favorite is the always elegant (and sometimes spooky!) black.

You can catch up with S.E., a full-time writer and part-time accountant, online at…

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Debut Collective on Facebook

Thank you S.E. for participating in my Author Spotlight! It was a pleasure having you and good luck with your book.

Join me next week as I feature Rebekah Raymond!

Happy New Year!!

spotlight

Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with characters we love and want to call friends.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you PM Hernandez!

pmbh photo black-white PM Hernandez is a young adult paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy author. She is a self-proclaimed nerd. She wears a lot of black, not because she’s cool but because she’s fashion-challenged. She has been known to fangirl all over the freaking place. Her book, Flesh and Stone, will be released on January 15, 2016.

Without further ado, here is PM’s interview…

I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer? Absolutely. I wrote fan-fiction before I even knew what it was, before the Internet when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. On an electric typewriter. God bless my laptop. I don’t know how I lived without it.

Why did you choose to write for young adults? I write what I want to read. I love young adult because I never grew up, which I highly recommend if you’re on the fence about being an adult. The teen years speak to all of us and are the perfect metaphor for change, upheaval, and learning. I write paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction because I’m a big geek who loves shifters, fairies, dragons, magic, science (which is just another kind of magic, if you ask me), and things that go bump in the night.

What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written? I have a story inspired by Frankenstein that required me to do some research that might get me put on some government watch lists. Google probably thought I was planning a murder. I’m happy to say I know the scientific terms for the chemicals (and smells) produced by a decomposing body.

What are you currently working on? Right now, I’m all about aliens. I’m in the middle of a book about refugees from another planet who come to Earth, live in secret, and have a few kids. But then things go south. Big time. If I can get it in gear, I should have it ready to publish by June or July.

What motivated the plot of your latest book?  I have a book coming out in January called Flesh and Stone. What started it for me was my love of gargoyles. I’m nuts about them. Really. I search out churches decorated with them and take pictures. It’s a sickness. Anyway, I got to thinking about how gargoyles are sometimes portrayed as evil or ugly when their job on churches is to keep demons and bad stuff away. They are protectors, which to me is a beautiful thing. It all just rolled from that.

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What was the hardest story for you to write?  For some time, I tried to get traditionally published. While I had positive feedback, I got a lot of rejection, mostly in the form of “interesting but not for me.” A couple of nibbles kept me in the game but traditional publishing, especially finding an agent, is very subjective. While that makes the process difficult, the subjectivity is good to a certain extent. You want your agent interested and invested in you and your work because they love it. The downside is that a lot of good books won’t get published. I never queried Flesh and Stone but it was the hardest for me to write, not because of the story (which DID need help) or because of writer’s block (which MIGHT have happened a time or two), but because it was a huge leap of faith to enter into indie publishing. I have to say, though, that investing in myself—literally and figuratively—has been a great decision. And, of course, it gives all my indie friends the opportunity to say I told you so.

What process do you use to plan your novels? I’m almost a complete pantser [Yay for another pantser!]. No planning. OK, some planning. I usually keep a separate document with a rough outline of the plot, character descriptions, etc. I use Pinterest to make super secret squirrel boards with pictures of what I think the characters look like, places in the book, and the like [Me too!]. Other than that, it’s rear in the chair and Lola the Laptop in front of me. (Yes, I named my laptop.)

Who has been your favorite character to write and why?  In my own work, I think Carrie from my Frankenstein-inspired book, Dark and Bright, is my favorite. She changes so much over the course of the story and hers is a tragic tale that doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending, just like Frankenstein’s monster. I hope everyone gets to meet her next year!

Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? I think they all have some aspect of me, the good and the bad. Writing is great therapy. In Flesh and Stone, Ellie is a flip-flopper. (So frustrating, but I do it, too.) She’s also smart and I like to think I’m a sharp cookie. Michael thinks a little too highly of himself and is prone to complaining. (Guilty as charged here.) Gabriel is rather innocent and sweet, but lashes out in unexpected fits of temper and over-reacts. (Yep, that’s me.) John is a big goofball. (Me, too.) But in the end, they become their own person and I’m along for the ride acting as their scribe.

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?  I think everyone comes to a point where the words aren’t flowing. Could be the plot went off into left field. Could be boredom. Could be stress. Lack of time. I try writing something else until the characters in the first book start talking to me again. I also find that when the words stop, it’s usually because of problems or stress in other parts of my life. I focus on those and then things turn around for me. I’m also big on taking care of the writer. That’s me, in case we aren’t clear. That means getting my rest, drinking my water, walking my dog, eating right… all the things that keep your body well-tuned. Our minds and our bodies are connected. If one is neglected, the other suffers. I also find having an author tribe keeps me grounded, entertained, happy, and inspired. Writing can be a lonely thing if all you do is sit with your laptop. You can’t write about a life if you aren’t living yours. [So true…]

If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? My husband is always trying to get me to write romance. I told him no one wants to read a love scene written by me. (Seriously, you don’t. It would be the most clinical, unsexy thing ever [LOL!].) That’s probably the only genre I wouldn’t write. If I had to choose, it would be a straight-up fantasy with crazy worlds and long exotic names for things where the characters go on epic journeys like in Lord of the Rings.

Which authors inspire you? So many. I read YA obsessively. Pick any YA author at random (indie or traditional) and I can probably wax poetic about their books and how they influenced me. My biggest inspirations across genres are Austen, Shakespeare, LM Montgomery, Rowling, and Tolkien.

What novel would you read multiple times? Emma, hands down. I read it about once a year. I think Jane Austen is the bomb. Do people still refer to things as the bomb?

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? I would love to meet Anne Shirley to find out if we’re kindred spirits. I think we might be.

What is your favorite quote? “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” George Knightley says this to Emma Woodhouse and I swoon every time I read it. I think a lot of us picture true love as this almost violent thing that causes us to act crazy and rashly. Mr. Knightley is quiet and steadfast in his love, not making long speeches or trying to impress, but it’s a deep love nonetheless.

What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary?  Gargoyles, of course! I’m also partial to griffins and dragons, but my favorite real animal is my Labrador… oh, and sea otters. They’re irresistible. blue

What is your favorite color?  As anyone who has met me and seen my hair will attest, it’s purple followed by pink.

You can catch up with PM, part-time writer and full-time government trade negotiator, online at…

Website

Facebook

Tumblr

Pinterest

Instagram

Twitter

Thank you PM for participating in my Author Spotlight on such short notice! It was a pleasure having you and good luck with your book.

Join me next week as I feature Shantele Summa Martin.

Merry Christmas to all….

 

 

spotlight

Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with characters we love and want to call friends.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Cameo Renae!

aboutelement157Voted 2013 Break Out Author by Young Adult & Teen Readers, and 2013 Book of the Year (Hidden Wings).
Cameo Renae was born in San Francisco, raised in Maui, Hawaii, and recently moved with her husband and children to Alaska.
She’s a daydreamer and a caffeine and peppermint addict who loves to laugh, loves to read, and loves to escape reality. One of her greatest joys is creating fantasy worlds filled with adventure and romance and sharing it with others.
One day she hopes to find her own magic wardrobe and ride away on her magical unicorn. Until then…she’ll keep writing!
 

Without further ado, here is Cameo’s interview…
I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer? Actually, no. I did love creative writing in school, and how I felt while writing, but I never really thought I’d be a writer. When I was a kid, the coolest thing you could ever be was being an astronaut, so naturally… I wanted to be one.
Why did you choose to write for young adults? I chose the Young Adult genre because it’s such a fun age to write for. It’s an age of self-discovery. Young adults are right between those lines of being a child and adult. So much happens in those short years as a teen which really sets our paths and defines who we are. Then again, teens make most mistakes during those years, and they think they know everything. Really, I guess it’s the craziness of being a young adult that appeals to me.
What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written? Probably about what happens to the body when affected by radiation. I had to look that up for my mutants in my After Light Saga.
After Light Postcard
What are you currently working on? I’m currently working on the next Hidden Wings book.
HWS Postcard
Wings of Vengeance (Book 5), which I should be finishing now. I’m trying to finish before Christmas. [And guess who showed up on her virtual doorstep wanting an interview…]
What motivated the plot of your series? I actually got the idea for the Hidden Wings series while writing the end of my debut novel, In My Dreams.
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00024]
At the end of the story I write about Guardian Angels, and I fell in love. I could tell they would be a lot of fun, so I decided to give them their own series.
What was the hardest story for you to write? I would have to say the After Light Saga. The post-apocalyptic, dystopian genre was really difficult for me to get into. I had to do a ton of research on solar flares, radiation vaccines, nuclear power plants, different military weapons, choppers, bunkers, etc… It was a lot harder to write than paranormal, which I barely did any research on. But, on a positive note, I’m really enjoying the series. [I have the series. Still trying to find some time to read them.]
What process do you use to plan your novels?  I am a HORRIBLE planner. I really don’t plan. I am a pantser and write as I go. I usually don’t know what’s going to happen until I write it…I know. It’s horrible. But for the moment, it works for me. [Surprised! I figured you as a plotter.]
Who has been your favorite character to write and why? I would have to say Dominic from the Hidden Wings Series. He’s a secondary character…a Guardian…but he is so much fun. He seems to have taken over lead of comic relief. He’s drop dead gorgeous, but knows it. He’s snarky and cynical, and the banter between him and the Guardians is hilarious. I often laugh-out-loud whenever he enters a scene. But, he’s also fearless and brave and would fight to the death for those he loves. [Sounds like another book boyfriend!]
Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? I would have to say that all of them have a bit of my personality, because I am writing them. And, I do become very connected to most of my characters. Except the villains. Ha-ha!
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? Oh yes! Writer’s block can be very frustrating, and I usually get it when I am frustrated or stressed. When that happens, I walk away from the story for a bit. Coming back to it with a fresh perspective and reading over the last few chapters does help.  I also try and find some music that fits the scene. Music plays a HUGE part in my writing and is usually the one thing that can pull me out of the block.
If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? I would probably choose romantic comedy because I love romance and I love to laugh. [Would be some interesting books!]
Which authors inspire you? So many authors inspire me, but the ones closest to me are Cambria Hebert and Amber Garza. We check in everyday and help motivate each other. Each of them are amazing writers and inspire me to become a better writer.
What novel would you read multiple times?  I’ve read several novels a few times. One series I read countless times was C.S Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. I loved disappearing into those stories as a child, and know they had an impact on me wanting to become a writer.
If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? At this moment I would say Taylor Swift. She is the queen of young adults and has such an enormous fan base. If she mentioned my books, they would probably be overnight successes, like everyone else she talks highly about. 🙂
What is your favorite quote? “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.” Albert Einstein [Very true.]
What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? Totally a unicorn. They’ve always been my favorite, and I’ve always wanted one. I’m still searching for my unicorn. I know he’s out there…somewhere.
unicorns-are-real-je-cf-9f-cf-9fis-groupies-e2-99-a0-24656967-500-571
What is your favorite color? That’s a hard one. I love all colors, but if I had to pick one, I’d say all shades of purple.
I have a treat for followers. This is the awesome book trailer for ARV-3!
 
You can catch up with Cameo Renae, a full-time writer online… “I have been very blessed to have become a full-time writer. I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined I’d make enough to leave a day job and write for a living, but I’m doing it. So, I can say… Dreams DO come true.”
Thank you Cameo, for taking the time away from your busy schedule to participate in my Author Spotlight. We all look forward to reading your next book.
Join me next week as I feature Stacie Wilson!

spotlight

Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with characters we love and want to call friends.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Leslee Horner!

_BOB7415

Leslee Horner lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with her husband, two daughters, and their rescue dog, Frodo. She is the author of the award winning, four book Young Adult series, THE PAST LIVES OF LOLA RAY. The final book in the series, SPRING RETURNING, was released in October 2015.

Without further ado, here is Leslee’s interview…

I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer? I have loved writing since I was a little girl and would see the reaction from my mother when I would write her notes and poems. The way the written word could move people emotionally was powerful and I wanted to harness that power. I was a practical girl though, and I bought into the idea of the starving artist (or writer). I decided early on that I would be a writer on the side.

Why did you choose to write for young adults? I started out writing women’s fiction and one of my novels followed the main character from age five to age thirty-five. The strongest writing in that story was the portion devoted to her teen years. From that, I learned I had a knack for the young adult voice and decided my next big project would be a young adult novel series.

What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written? Reincarnation. My novel series, The Past Lives Of Lola Ray, is about a girl who turns fifteen and begins flashing back to her past lives. In four books, she sees four different lives. This isn’t a strange or uncomfortable subject for me – I find it utterly fascinating – but I have found through the process that it makes some pe20833353ople quite uncomfortable.

What are you currently working on? My strokes in tennis! In all seriousness, in October I published the final book (Spring Returning) Cover_Kindle (3)in my series and right now I am just working on letting the world know the series is complete and available.

What motivated the plot of your series? The first is reading and learning about the topic of reincarnation from books by Brian Weiss and Michael Newton. I loved their ideas about the way relationships and issues people face in their current lives could be connected to past lives. I ran with this idea and created Lola’s world at fifteen around it. The second is the topic of equality. The series tackles religious intolerance, racial and gender inequality, and homophobia. In each book she flashes back to a life where she faces tragedy due to inequality, discrimination, and hatred. [Sounds like a series everyone should read.]

What was the hardest story for you to write? A few years ago, I started writing a novel called Life In The Wake. This novel was inspired by the death of my best friend in 2009. I was very inspired by the idea and felt like I had received the story whole and intact in my mind like a gift from the Universe. I got about fifty pages into the book and just hit a wall and put it away. I think because it was all about the grief and healing process, it was just too hard to complete. I have wondered if I simply needed more time to fully heal from my loss in order to be able to write the story.  [When the time is right, perhaps readers will get the chance to read it.]

What process do you use to plan your novels? Honestly, I think about them obsessively for a really long time. I don’t write a lot down. I figure the stuff that is meant to be in the book will stick with me. It really is an act of faith and not necessarily one I would recommend. Luckily it works for me.

Who has been your favorite character to write and why? In my books, Ian is my favorite character. He is Lola’s best friend and (sometimes) love interest. I love him because he is an outsider who doesn’t seem to mind being one. He is empathetic and funny. He is wise beyond his years and always keeps his promises.

Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? I have to admit that there is probably some facet of my personality in every one of my characters. And my closest friends have told me that when they read Lola’s story they envision her as me. I think that is probably about right. Lola is just a little bit braver than I am.

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? When I get blocked, it’s usually some version of fear having its way with me. And two things help me overcome it: a regular meditation practice and committing to a disciplined writing schedule.

If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? I think I’d love to write an inspirational/self-help book! I’m kind of obsessed with reading them. They help me shift to a more positive outlook when I get bogged down. It would be nice to write something uplifting that gives helpful guidance to others… a kind of pay it forward for all the authors who have helped me. [I could see you doing that.]

Which authors inspire you? J.K. Rowling (of course), Elizabeth Gilbert, Jodi Picoult, and Brene Brown.

What novel would you read multiple times? Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? So I know there are “right” answers to this that include (but are not limited to) people like Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Abraham Lincoln. But honestly, for me right now, I’d just like to grab a coffee with Elizabeth Gilbert because she is currently the person who is inspiring me so strongly and watching her talks and interviews, I just think she’d be great.

What is your favorite quote? “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” –Marriane Williamson (And this is just a snippet of the full quote, which is really powerful!)

What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? Dog

What is your favorite color? Purple

You can catch up with Leslee Horner, a full-time author and stay at home mom, online…

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

Thank you for participating in A Center Stage Moment! It was great having you here.

Join me next week as I feature Cameo Renae!

 

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spotlight

Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with characters we love and want to call friends.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Daniele Lanzarotta!

GE DIGITAL CAMERADaniele Lanzarotta is the author of YA and NA paranormal/fantasy/contemporary novels, including the Imprinted Souls Series, Academy of the Fallen, and Mermaid’s Curse.

She has a bachelor’s in business and finance and a MBA. With only a few semesters left in school, Daniele started writing as a hobby, but it didn’t take long for her to be consumed by her stories. That is her passion, and she now has several projects under way.

She enjoys reading and writing young adult novels with just about any sort of paranormal or supernatural bent…vampires… ghosts… She also enjoys watching hockey, playing rock band, guitar hero and spending time with the family.

Without further ado, here is Daniele’s interview…

I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer? I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t really think of it as a career until about seven years ago when I finished writing Imprinted Souls.

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Why did you choose to write fantasy and paranormal? I chose to write fantasy/paranormal because of the endless possibilities. I can create an entire new world and anything can happen. My last book, Sudden Hope, is actually the first one outside of that genre and it was definitely more challenging. I guess humans are complicated that way.

What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written? I have some strange things in my books, but it was probably one of the scenes from Academy of the Fallen, involving demons. Writing those scenes really creeped me out, especially the ones with incubus and succubus demons.

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What are you currently working on? Right now, I’m working on a few projects… Catch Me If I Fall, which is a sequel to Sudden Hope; The Right Kind of Wrong, which is a novella with Owen, from A Mermaid’s Curse; and a few movie scripts. *winks*

What motivates the plot of Sudden Hope? [It] started out as a NaNoWriMo project about two years ago. I wanted to write some different… outside of the paranormal/fantasy world, and I also wanted to write something with a message about hope in an environment where bullying is such a big part of teenagers’ lives.

What was the hardest story for you to write? The hardest story to write was Sudden Hope. Unlike with my paranormal novels where I can justify just about anything by creating a new reality, Sudden Hope revolves around humans in our world. The characters go through so much in relation to bullying and PTSD… those scenes were definitely difficult to write, especially knowing there are so many kids going through similar situations right now. [Such a good relevant book!]

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Who has been your favorite character to write and why? My vampire Nicholas will always hold a special place in my heart. We have a lot in common… mostly because we are both very sarcastic. He was very fun to write.

Which authors inspire you? Richelle Mead, Rachel Caine, Jessica Sorensen… just to name a few.

What novel would you read multiple times? The Edge of Never by J. A. Redmerski.

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? Probably John Hughes. I love his movies!

What is your favorite quote? “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and then throw it in the face of the person who gave you the lemons until they give you the oranges you originally asked for.” – (Jace) – Cassandra Clare

What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? Dogs

What is your favorite color? Black

You can catch up with Daniele Lanzarotta, a part-time author, full-time marketing director for a multi-media company, and film student, online…

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon

Thanks for being a part of A Center Stage Moment! It was great having you here.

Join me next week as I feature Leslee Horner!

 

 

 

spotlight

Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with characters we love and want to call friends.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Mara Valderran!

maraMara Valderran is an author of young adult and new adult books and the Marketing Director for Blaze Publishing, but she’s more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She is an avid reader and fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy. She loves roller skating and movies, though typically not together. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or counting down the days until DragonCon.

Without further ado, here is Mara’s interview…

I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer?  No, actually. When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress. I fell in love with the written word and acting through Shakespeare when I was about eleven or so. I’d always written things—little stories here and there. I would write scripts or short stories. I eventually moved into fanfiction, and then started coming up with stories of my own. I didn’t realize I was a writer until I finished my first book and people told me I should get it published. That was the moment I realized that I’ve always been a writer and it has always been such a huge part of who I am that I never thought to define it.

Why did you choose to write science fiction/fantasy? I love magic and sci-fi—the possibilities there are endless. I feel like fantasy encourages dreams and sci-fi encourages thinking that the impossible can one day be possible. Reaching outside of the box.

What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written?  Hmm… strangest? I’m not sure I have one of those. I mean, I write sci-fi and fantasy so I guess you could say there is an element of strange to everything I write. But it doesn’t feel strange to me.

What are you currently working on? I just wrapped up the second book in my Young Adult sci-fi dystopian series, and am now moving to the third book in my New Adult fantasy series.

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What motivates the plots of your books?  Exploring relationships are huge motivations and inspirations for my books.Heirs of War Heirs of War has five strong female leads that are torn from their own world, thrust into a world filled with magic and in the middle of a war, and then told that they are all related to each other. These young women are complete strangers to one another and then told they are cousins and sisters, so for me, that’s one of the most interesting parts of the series. How do these girls adapt to their newfound families? How do they relate to one another when they’ve missed a lifetime of sisterly bonding?

Altar of Reality explores the relationship between childhood best friends Madeline and Brandon. When Madeline finds herself in another reality and runs into another version of Brandon, she can’t help but feel like she is home and feel an overwhelming need to protect him and do anything for him. Because he’s her Brandon, even in another reality and with a lifetime of different experiences, that love and that bond is still there, and drives her to do things she never thought she would in order to survive and keep him safe. Altar of Reality

What was the hardest story for you to write? The first books in a series are always the hardest for me to write. They are so introductory, and since I know what is coming, I’m anxious to get there. It takes a lot of patience to get me to work through introducing characters, building histories, and introducing the worlds they are in.

What process do you use to plan your novels? I use Scrivener to create an outline, then create a physical story board to help me map everything out and move things around if the timeline calls for it, then I sit down and write and inevitably end up scrapping half of what I planned when the characters take me in a different direction. [Kind of a hybrid plotter-pantser.]

Who has been your favorite character to write and why? Egad, I don’t think I can choose. I love Ana in Altar of Reality. You get to see two different sides of her (one in each reality), which shows what a complex character she is. In one reality she’s terrible, and the other she is one of the best allies you could dream of. Heirs of War has so many characters close to my heart. That series is my baby since it is how I started in the writing world. Ellowyn is a lot of fun to write. She is Zelene’s best friend and basically a slave. She was raised normal enough in a magical world, but when she doesn’t develop any gifts and her parents die, things change for her. Those without magic are called the Tainted and totally shunned, which leaves her retreating back into her shell. Seeing Zelene pull her out of it is really cool for me.

Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? All of my friends and family would shout “Zelene” in unison at this question. Seriously, channeling your inner-Zelene has become a thing they say now. She comes from a rough childhood and speaks fluent sarcasm. She’s a bleeding heart who doesn’t really show many emotions besides anger. She’s passionate and after living the life of an underdog who got thrown to the top of a hierarchy she never even imagined, she’s all about sticking up for those on the lower rungs. I relate to her a lot, but I think most of my characters have a piece of me in them somehow. Except maybe Madeline in Altar of Reality. She’s probably the female lead character that is the least like me.

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? Yes! I recently went through some big and traumatic changes in my life, and was completely blocked. I didn’t write for about seven months. I’ve had writer’s block in the past and been able to overcome it, so I tried some of my old methods. I listened to my playlists. I watched videos of actors who inspired my characters. I tried rereading my books, reading positive reviews, responding to Wattpad comments or questions—anything to get me enthused about my stories again. Nothing worked.

Then I went to UtopYA. And I swear it was like someone breathed life into me again. [Yes… Utopia is like a mecca for YA/NA writers. Next year, it will include Middle Grade writers.] Being around all of those other authors, getting to meet online friends in person for the first time, all of the positive energy—it reinvigorated me. I came home and within the month had the first draft of my next novel finished.

If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? This might sound cheesy, but I don’t really choose the genres I write in. The stories choose for me. After I wrap up these two series, I have a contemporary romantic thriller in mind. No speculative elements to it at all, and completely outside of my normal wheelhouse. But the story popped in my head and won’t get out, so it needs to be written. [That happens. I have a NA contemporary romance story in mind. Definitely not my normal thing to write.]

Which authors inspire you? Jane Austen is a cliché inspiration, but still mine. She followed her passion and her heart at a time when [the idea of] women writing books was thought of as scandalous and even shameful. She chose to pursue her career despite the obstacles in her path and was driven to succeed no matter what the cost. I admire that so much, and when things get tough for me, I think of her and all she must have gone through on a daily basis just to be able to do what I am so free to do now. It puts things in perspective.

What novel would you read multiple times? I’ve read lots of novels several times–the entire Harry Potter series, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park, The Sword of Truth series.

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why?  Audrey Hepburn because she lived such a fascinating life and was more than just an onscreen beauty. She strived to be a good person and to give back to those in need, and I find that awe-inspiring and moving.

What is your favorite quote? “Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who know me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower when I thought a flower would grow.” –Abraham Lincoln

What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? My cat Sweetie is my absolute favorite animal in the world. I’ve had her for twelve years and she is my little writing companion, so it is hard to choose another favorite over her. She’s on my lap right now, actually!

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Not Sweetie, but I bet she’d enjoy this position!

What is your favorite color? My favorite color fluctuates between purple and teal. [Magical!]

Mara Valderran is a full-time author with a full-time job. 

Please explain how that’s possible. Writing is most definitely a full-time career for me, even though I also have a full-time job. I know most people consider it part-time when you have a full-time job, but I don’t. I spend most of my free time doing research, marketing, writing, or working on other writerly related projects. So it’s like having two full-time jobs for me.

You can catch up with Mara Valderran online…

Website

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Twitter

Goodreads

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Blaze Publishing

Thanks for being a part of A Center Stage Moment! It was great having you here.

Join me next week as I feature Daniele Lanzarotta!

 

spotlight

Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with characters we love and want to call friends.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Allie Burton!

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Allie Burton didn’t realize having so many jobs would become great research material for the stories she writes. She has been everything from a fitting room attendant to a bike police officer to a professional mascot escort. She has lived on three continents and in four states and has studied art, fashion design, marine biology, and advertising.

When her kids asked, “when are you going to write a story we can read?” she switched from adult novels to Young Adult and Middle Grade and hasn’t looked back.

Allie is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Romance Writers of America, including the Young Adult, Dallas Area Romance Writers and Heart of the Rockies chapters. She is also a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Currently, she lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.

Without further ado, here is Allie’s interview…

I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer? I wrote my first complete novel in eighth grade, but I was distracted by a career in advertising where I wrote advertising copy and promotional brochures. My first novel was finally published in 2013 and I haven’t stopped since completing nine books and two novellas.

Why did you choose to write young adult fiction? I started writing romantic suspense and my kids were always looking over my shoulder. One of them asked, ‘when are you going to write something we can read?’ So, I wrote a quick story about a brother and sister adventure. That story will never be published but it helped me find my voice in the young adult genre.

What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written?  Since my books have fantasy elements I’m always researching strange topics: Egyptian gods, strange cults, oceanography, ancient weaponry, and legends of Atlantis.

What are you currently working on? I’m putting the finishing touches on Cleo’s Curse, the fourth book in the “Soul Warriors” series, which releases in December 2015.


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Soul Warriors Book 4

An ancient knot entangling Cleo in a world of magic and power.

A driven leader intent on controlling a curse.

A disgruntled slave no longer willing to bow to a modern goddess.

Needing to suck up to her parents, spoiled boarding school student Cleo Carruthers decides to make an effort and attend classes. Except the teachers can’t see her. The Knot of Isis has woven a web around her and she’s become truly invisible.

A slave to Queen Cleopatra in a previous life, Soul Warrior Antony refuses to serve anyone. But when a modern day goddess demands his help, he can’t say no. Saving the world must take precedence over his wishes. Until his wishes get tied up into a knot by Cleo.

Trapped in a strange world, together the two teens must secure the magic of the knot and become unbound from the relic’s powers. But they are being hunted by those who want them to disappear. Permanently.


What motivated the plot of Cleo’s Curse?  When researching the legend behind King Tut’s trumpets (which both books Tut’s Trumpet and Peace Piper are based on), I came upon the Tyet Knot which purports to be influenced by the goddess Isis.  The magical artifact they encounter
2522371026063231in Cleo’s Curse is the made-up Knot of Isis where one of the powers is invisibility. My main character was used to being invisible to her parents and I thought how ironic if becoming invisible is what finally gets her noticed.

What was the hardest story for you to write? The Lost Daughters of Atlantis series was planned to be three books. When fans requested more underwater stories, I decided to take one of the villains and make her a hero. Adhering to her original backstory and making her likeable was one of the hardest things to accomplish and yet I think Atlantis Dark Tides is one of my strongest books. 21950834

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What process do you use to plan your novels?  I’m a hybrid of a plotter and a pantser or organic writer and my process is always changing. Right now, I map out the major points of the book. Then, I write a fast draft in a week or two. Next, I go through that fast draft and fill in all the missing items including descriptions and emotions and action. I have a critique partner or content editor who reviews what I’ve written, and then I incorporate her comments. Next, I do a deep edit which includes making sure I have enough of the elements and conflict on all the pages, check on duplicate words, and a final read through. Then, the manuscript goes to the editor and I await the editor’s comments.

Who has been your favorite character to write and why? I love all my characters as I’m writing them and also the secondary characters I put in the books that I plan to write a future story about. Olivia, from Soul Slam, is one of my all-time favorites. She’s gritty and sarcastic and has led a tough life. [I enjoyed her as well.]

Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? All of them reflect certain aspects of my personality. My sarcasm and love of puzzles, my interest in history. All of my stories are about finding the real person beneath the façade and I find through writing these stories I’m finding my truth. [So cool. It’s like writing therapy.]

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? No. I’m a firm believer in putting your butt in the chair and writing crap if you need to until you find the sweet spot.

If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? Small town romantic suspense. You may see something from me in that genre in the future.  [I was hoping you were going to say that. Should be fun to write and read.]

Which authors inspire you? Rachel Hawthorne, Marissa Meyer, Cassandra Clare, Ednah Walters.

What novel would you read multiple times? Cinder, The Mortal Instruments, Runes. [All on my TBR.]

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? My list would be too long to list here. There are so many interesting people in the world alive and dead, fictional and real.

What is your favorite quote? “You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true.” Richard Bach [I like that one.]

What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? I love all dogs and any ocean animal. cute-and-funny-dogs-31

What is your favorite color? Blue. [My original favorite color!]

 

 

 

You can catch up with Allie Burton, a full-time author, online…

Website: www.allieburton.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Allie_Burton

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1VMepM9

Wattpad: www.wattpad.com/AllieBurton

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/aburton1269/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1NgHiND

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Allie-Burton

Thanks for being a part of A Center Stage Moment! It was great having you here.

Join me next week as I feature Mara Valderran!

spotlight

Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with characters we love and want to call friends.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Felicia Tatum!

Felicia Tatum Author Pic

Felicia Tatum was born and raised in Tennessee. She always loved reading, and at the age of twelve began writing. Her passion for creating stories grew and in May 2012, she finally wrote her first novel, The White Aura.

She still lives in Tennessee with her daughter and her kitties. She loves cooking, books, and animals are some of her best friends. She watches a lot of Disney channel and often dreams up new book ideas. She’s currently working on various projects. She’s the author of the White Aura series, Scarred Hearts series, Dark Sorceress Trilogy, Unbound Desires series, and Intoxicating Passion series.

Without further ado, here is Felicia’s interview…

I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer? Since I was about 12 years old! I was bored in History class [Oh man, you got bored in one of my favorite classes!] and started on my first book. Never finished it, but my love only grew from there.

Why did you choose to write Romance? Romance is an elusive thing in my world, so I write about what I wish I had. What every romantic wishes for.

What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written? In my current WIP, Straying Sadie, there’s a telepathic cat. She’s fun, but I also think I’m a little insane while writing her thoughts haha.

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What motivated the plot of your current WIP? Sadie was just the sister of the main character when I started writing The White Aura.
The more she spoke, the more I loved her. By the end of the series, I knew she had a story to tell and I couldn’t let her go just yet.

What was the hardest story for you to write?  Definitely Mangled Hearts. It deals with addiction and loss, two things I’ve dealt with in some way in my life. It brought out a lot of feelings.

What process do you use to plan your novels? 

Until the Sadie books, I just wrote as the characters talked, but for this trilogy, I’ve been planning out the chapters. Not a lot, just a general guideline so I know what’s happening. [A recovering pantser!]

Who has been your favorite character to write and why? Sadie Tabors! She’s a kickass sorceress who loves so very deeply.teaser 2

Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? I think every single one of them have a piece of me in their personalities.

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? Yeah…I watch Netflix for three weeks and then realize I have a deadline and practically kill myself writing. [Nothing like a deadline…]

If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? Something in romance, but I’m not sure what. I’ve already written in contemporary, paranormal, and fantasy. Something else would have to speak to me to draw me in!

Which authors inspire you? Richelle Mead and Nora Roberts for the OMG I WISH I KNEW YOU authors. Also many of my friends, including Sarah M. Cradit, Liz Lovelock, and LP Dover.

What novel would you read multiple times? Heaven by V.C. Andrews [Love V.C. Andrews!]

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? Ummm…I have no idea. I’d love to meet any of my characters in real life. Just to give them a hug, a slap, and another hug. [I never thought that one. What happens if your character is really hot? Just saying.]

What is your favorite quote? “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Ernest Hemingway

What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? KITTIES! All sizes. 

What is your favorite color? Pink and black.

You can catch up with Felicia Tatum, a full-time author, online…

Website: http://feliciatatum.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorFelicia

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/felicia.tatum.7

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6592100.Felicia_Tatum

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Felicia-Tatum

Thanks Felicia for participating! It was great to have you here today!

Join me next week as I feature Allie Burton!