Halloween Q&A


A few days ago I was tagged on Twitter to do a sort of blog dare.  I’m given a set of questions to answer on my blog, then tag someone else to do the same.  It’s a fun way to get to know other writers and share our friends’ blogs.  For this Halloween themed Q&A I was tagged by @AuthorHFerry, so let’s get right to it!

1. Are you a scaredy cat or a horror aficionado?

I can barely watch the beginning of Finding Nemo.  This kitty is quite happy in her cozy blanket fort of safety, thank you very much.

2. Would you ever consider writing a horror novel?

Unless I’m going for the book version of Sharknado, probably not.

3. What is your favorite bookish costume you’ve ever worn?

If I’ve ever dressed up as a book character I don’t remember it, but last year I attempted Rey to complement my son’s Kylo Ren costume.

4. What is the best bookish costume you’ve seen someone else wear?

Again, not very bookish, but I love Firefly cosplay, especially the groups.  I’d love to dress up as Kaylee some day.

5. What literary villain is your favorite?

When I first read this question I assumed I’d wind up picking some classic villain like Gollum or Voldemort, but to be honest, my favorite has got to be Levana from Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles.  She’s so complex and disturbing.  Reading her book, Fairest, was like a car crash.  It was disturbing and awful, but I couldn’t stop reading.  I was almost able to sympathize with her, and sympathetic villains are by far my favorite.

6. Will you be visiting a haunted house this year?

Hahahahaha! No.

7. Would you rather go to a Halloween party or go Trick-or-Treating?

Um, can I just wait until the candy goes on sale and hide out in my blanket fort while I eat it all?

8. What’s the best Halloween song?

I don’t really know that many Halloween songs, so I’m gonna go with the classic Thriller.

9. What scares you the most about the writing process?

Submitting to agents and publishers.  I haven’t reached that point yet, but it sounds stressful and terrifying.

10. Monster Mash – if you had to say your antagonist was a mix of two traditional monsters, what would those be?

Probably an elf and a demon.

11. Would your Main Character be more scared of being left alone in a dark forest or an abandoned castle?

That one’s tough.  Ann would probably be more scared of the abandoned castle.  She loves plants so the forest wouldn’t scare her, though she’d not fond of the dark.  But if she were to become locked in a castle, no matter how big, she’d probably start to freak out.

12. Does anyone in your Work In Progress believe in ghosts?

Not at the moment, but that may change at some point.

13. What character would last the longest in a scary movie?

Maddie, hands down.  Ann might survive on accident, but Maddie would be the one fuming at the idiots going into the dark basement without even a flashlight.  And yes, she’d absolutely say, “I told you so.”

14. Good witch or bad witch – do you enjoy torturing the characters in your Work In Progress, or do you feel bad about it?

It depends.  I feel bad about the horrid things I’m inflicting on Ann, mostly because she’s so much like me, but I know they’re all necessary to make her a stronger person.  Maddie though, I’ll throw crap at her all day long just to see if I can break her.  So I guess that makes me a bad witch?

15. Pick a love interest from your Work In Progress – would they be most likely to scream like a little kid or punch someone in the face if they were scared abruptly?

Nic would scream, and then attempt to punch them, but the damage will have already been done.  Rogan wouldn’t even be scared, he’d just punch them out of annoyance.

Well, there you have it!  I hope you enjoyed the Q&A! And be sure to check out H Ferry’s answers on his blog, ferryfiction.com

Meet Alicia Gaile

This week I’m introducing Alicia Gaile, author of Trial By Song and upcoming novella A Coat Red As Holly, both enthralling fairytale retellings.


As the youngest of seven brothers born with magical gifts, Jack’s often felt he has something to prove. But revealing their powers makes them targets of the fae, who will stop at nothing to hide their existence from mankind. 

In spite of the danger, Jack sneaks out on Halloween to compete in the Battle of the Bands, shattering his family’s rule to guard their secret at all costs. When Jack gets dragged through a portal and winds up in Faerie, he finds an ancient relic he simply can’t leave behind. But escaping from Faerie is only the beginning as the harp’s former owner is determined to see Jack pay for his crime.

With old enemies returned new enemies awaken, revealing the Sorleys aren’t the only family in Straifield with ties to the fae.


Alicia Gaile is a YA contemporary fantasy author whose love of fairy tales and mythological retellings led her to write her first fairy story at the age of twelve. After receiving a Creative Writing degree from Georgia College and State University she began writing early versions of Trial by Song while living abroad in southeast Asia. She currently resides in El Paso, Texas with her family and two dogs.

1. Tell us a little about you and what you’re working on.

This month I’m releasing a prequel novella to Trial by Song which tells Eira’s mother Gwen’s story and is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Once I finish that I’ll jump back into editing the sequel to Trial by Song. 

You As A Reader

2. When did you first fall in love with books?

I fell in love with books before I knew how to read. My mom likes to tell a story from when I was two. She came downstairs and found me flipping through a magazine crying because I didn’t know how to read what it said. As soon as I learned to read I started devouring books by the cartful.

3. What’s your favorite book from your childhood?

The Harry Potter series played a huge role in my childhood. I knew those books backwards and forwards. I listened to the audio books every night as I went to sleep. Not only were Harry’s adventures magical, but I found J. K. Rowling’s rise to success just as inspiring. Her story made the idea of becoming an author seem possible. 

4. Of the books you’ve read, which one changed you the most?

I was in high school when I first read Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. It’s a gorgeous retelling of the Six Swans that adds real depth and dimension to the fairy tale. That book really set the bar for what I wanted my stories to accomplish. It layers elements of folklore and mythology into a story about family and personal sacrifice. Not to mention it’s told in a really beautiful way. 

5. What’s the last book you read and your current favorite?

I just finished Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick. It tells a really interesting series of linked short stories set against the backdrop of a mysterious island. My current favorite is Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour. It’s a retelling of Tam Lin set in a small town in New York that blends ghost stories and fairy folklore in really interesting ways.

6. If you could meet any author, alive or dead, who would it be?

I would love to talk mythology and folklore with Stephen R. Lawhead. I read the Pendragon Cycle in middle school and really enjoyed his take on the Arthurian legend, and I recently reread the King Raven series, which grounded Robin Hood in some interesting historical ways. 

You As A Writer

7. When did you first know you were a writer?

I started telling my own stories as soon as I learned to spell, but when I was ten or eleven I wrote my first fairy tale, The Enchanted Meadow. My aunt taught fourth grade at the time. She read the story to her class, and they wrote me letters afterward. I even had the chance to visit her class at the end of the school year and they treated me awe like I was a real author, and that experience has stuck with me ever since. I still have all their letters.

8. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? If so, what was it about?

I wrote stories before The Enchanted Meadow, but that one was when I started to take my writing seriously. It was about fairies and leprechauns who work together to find a missing unicorn. When the unicorn who protects their meadow mysteriously disappears, a group of magical creatures travels to the human world to track her down and bring her back. 

9. What has been the most difficult part of your writing journey? The best part?

I think most writers suffer from self-consciousness, and in my case Trial by Song was in the works for almost five years. After so many years of saying I was going to do something with my story it was hard to justify the time it took to finish it and convince myself that this time was really it. At the same time, seeing my book in print was one of the most exciting moments of my life. To be able to hold a lifetime of dreams in my hand for the first time was a really wonderful goal to achieve.

10. Of all the writing advice you’ve received, what helped you the most?

I often find ‘what not to do’ advice more helpful than ‘how to.’ Some rules are made to be broken and understanding the reasoning behind the ‘what not to do’ tips gives me a better idea of what I want to do. That being said, one of the books I like to recommend is Hooked by Les Edgerton. It gives great advice with examples on how to write beginnings that hook your reader. Not only is it helpful but it’s entertaining. 

11. Tell us about your current project and any others you’re working on.
I’m putting the finishing touches on ‘A Coat Red As Holly’ which is a prequel novella that tells the story of Eira’s mother and how Eira came to be. It’s my take on Little Red Riding Hood. Once I’m finished with that I’ll go back into working on the sequel to Trial by Song. The first draft laid the bare bones of the story, but I’m excited to flesh out the world of Faerie and raise the stakes for Jack. 

Fun Stuff About You

12. Besides writing and reading, what are some of your other interests?

I’m a self-taught artist and do colored pencil illustrations and acrylic paintings when I find the time. I’m trying to learn how to bake, but apart from my pumpkin cheesecake so far I haven’t had very encouraging results. 

13. If you could become an instant expert at any one thing, what would it be and why?

Horticulture would come in handy. Knowing the different varieties of plants and their properties would make world building easier and I bet my yard would finally look pretty instead of being a potted plant graveyard. 

14. You’ve just won an all expenses paid trip to anywhere in the world. Where would you go?

It’s hard to choose between Ireland or Scotland. So much of the lore that inspires my stories comes from that corner of the world. I would love to tour the old castles and take in the beautiful countryside. 

Final Thoughts

15. How can people connect with you?

You can like and follow me at:

Facebook

Website: aliciagaile.wordpress.com

Twitter: @alicia_gaile

Instagram: @authoraliciagaile

16. Anything else you’d like to tell us?

It was wonderful to chat and share my love of books and writing. I am always happy to talk fairy tales and swap random bits of folklore and myths.

Thanks for sharing a bit about you! I can’t wait to read A Coat Red As Holly not to mention the sequel to Trial By Song. I’m having Jack withdrawals!

If you’d like to read Alicia’s amazing fairytale retelling, you can find it on Amazon at the link below.

Trial By Song

Meet J Douglas Burton

This week I’d like you to meet J Douglas Burton; author of Straw Soldiers and Red Cross, the first two books in the Sleepwar Saga; The Star Travels Of Dr. Jeremiah Fothering-Smythe, a series of novellas; and many more.


Book Two of The Sleepwar Saga

The nightmare begins again.

Just when Andy thought it was safe to get back into bed, it happens again. Plucked from the safety of his home, high school star quarterback Andy Flashman is thrown into a chase with deadly consequences. 

The boy. The boy with the powers. If Andy and friends don’t find him before the enemy does, it won’t just be his life on the line. He, Kaz, Jason, Meesha, Samir and Pegah must scour a creepy hospital every night until they find the boy.

No one is safe.

Red Cross, book 2 of J. Douglas Burton’s “Sleepwar Saga” is tense, thrilling, and laugh-out-loud funny. Don’t miss out!

J Douglas Burton is a clever pseudonym for real-life human being ‘James Douglas Burton’ who hopes you’ll never find out his real name. 

Although born in the United States of America, Burton actually grew up on the bonnie shores of Scotland (and inland, as well) but moved back to the States as soon as he could afford it. Sorry Scotland. 

Currently he resides in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he hopes to become a recognized author. Or even just recognized. Seriously, even his friends barely remember who he is. 

Besides YA series “The Sleepwar Saga”, he is the writer of several novellas available for the Kindle, including “The Star Travels of Dr. Jeremiah Fothering-Smythe” whose six installments are also available in collected versions both for the Kindle and in actual paperback form which you can hold in your hands and everything.

1. Tell us a little about you and what you’re working on.

I’m J Douglas Burton (call me JD!) and I’m an American author from Scotland (long story). My current project is a clockpunk Regency novel in the vein of Jane Austen with an air of Philip K Dick to it.

It will be called: Cogs & Cognizance.

You As A Reader

2. When did you first fall in love with books?

Literally before my earliest memory.

I learned to read at 3, and read my first novel by myself at 4 (The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe).

Books have always been one of the most important things in my life.

3. What’s your favorite book from your childhood?

Gosh. A toss-up between The Hobbit and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Both were read frequently, and delighted my imaginative young mind. But since The Hobbit also made me cry, maybe I’ll give the nod to that one?

4. Of the books you’ve read, which one changed you the most?

Not counting The Bible (as I think we’re discussing fiction) I would say most likely David Eddings’s The Belgariad. (A five-book series telling one story, so I’m counting it.)

I’d never fallen so in love with fictional people before. Garion and Ce’Nedra especially are as important to me as my own family members. Possibly more so.

5. What’s the last book you read and your current favorite?

Last book? Malignant by Emily Kazmierski, which I’d definitely recommend.

My current and perennial favorite is Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita – the greatest single thing the English language has produced and one which justifies its invention single-handedly.

(Hyperbole? Not a whit!)

6. If you could meet any author, alive or dead, who would it be?

Philip K Dick on one of his non-paranoid days. How I’d love to trade ideas with someone so endlessly full of them!

You As A Writer

7. When did you first know you were a writer?

I’ve always written; or, as far back as I can remember.

But when did I know I was a writer? Hmmmm…

In college some time, I suppose, when I began to seriously develop screenplays.

Screenplays are still my first love as I understand and gravitate to film structure so much more than that of novels, for some reason.

8. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? If so, what was it about?

Afraid not! It would have been a two-sentence one in playschool (i.e. before Primary 1) I imagine.

For American readers, Primary 1 is First Grade.

The earliest I can recall any details of was in primary school at some juncture, involving me becoming an owl then waking up to discover feathers on my bed.

I was marked down for the “it was all a dream” cliche – followed by the age-old “or was it?” twist.

9. What has been the most difficult part of your writing journey? The best part?

Most difficult? Writing!

Best? Not writing!

10. Of all the writing advice you’ve received, what helped you the most?

The simplest and yet most helpful piece of advice is the oft-given but ever-true:

“Get on your ass and just write, for God’s sakes!”

Nothing else comes close to being as useful.

11. Tell us about your current project and any others you’re working on.

Cogs & Cognizance is about a young woman in 1796 named Hattie Casterbridge, who lives in a version of England where clockwork technology has become so sophisticated and ubiquitous that it rules everyday life.

When an attack on a local clockwork manufactory results in the owner’s suicide, Hattie tries to investigate but is turned away from doing so by the Clockwork Oversight Committee due to a combination of personal bias and sexism.

Not to be deterred, Hattie chooses to stick her nose in anyway, and butts up against the wealthy man her mother would like to marry her off to. Annoyed by this Mr Somersby fellow, but finding herself on the same side as him, she gets caught up in a deadly struggle against an enemy with a lethal world view – and may have to change her views about technology when one piece of physical evidence might prove to have a literal mind of its own.

Fun Stuff About You

12. Besides writing and reading, what are some of your other interests?

I like to write and perform music – but I suppose that still involves “writing”!

I adore TV and movies – even if I have little time for either these days – and especially enjoy watching anime. Your Lie in April is one of the best TV series ever made.

13. If you could become an instant expert at any one thing, what would it be and why?

Cooking.

I love cooking, and wish I was better at it.

14. You’ve just won an all expenses paid trip to anywhere in the world. Where would you go?

Japan!

I’m theoretically learning to speak Japanese (although I haven’t looked at a lesson in ages!) and would love to visit – especially the countryside (though Tokyo or Osaka might be fun to go to as well).

I’m a super picky eater, so wouldn’t wish to stay long, as it would be difficult to find enough Japanese food that suits my tastes to sustain me for very much time!

Final Thoughts

15. How can people connect with you?

Twitter mainly: @jdouglasburton

You can drop me an e-mail at: drjeremiah@mail.com – if you like.

Or hey, why not leave a comment on my blog? The website is: www.jdouglasburton.com

16. Anything else you’d like to tell us?

I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

(Okay, that’s a Johnny Cash song, but it makes me sound cool and dangerous so I’m claiming it.)

Thanks for sharing a little about you! I’m thoroughly sucked into the Sleepwar Saga, so I’ll just tootle on back to the ever so delightful Kaz and the rest of the gang as soon as I’m done here.

Seriously, people. Read it. It’s addicting. I’m even putting the link right here to make it super easy to find.

Straw Soldiers (The Sleepwar Saga, Book 1)

Red Cross (The Sleepwar Saga, Book 2)
Enter The Unknown (The Star Travels Of Dr. Jeremiah Fothering-Smythe, Book 1)

10 Things I Should Be Doing Instead Of Reading


As appealing as being stranded on an island with nothing but books is, there are some non-reading activities that simply can’t be ignored. Well, at least not for long. Like, as long as it takes me to read another chapter?

1. Clean the house

It looks like a bunch of cows tromped through here and the pile of laundry is beginning to rival my TBR mountain. Maybe if I hide a book under it, it’ll motivate me to fold it all?


2. Eat something

Why do I always get hungry when I have three pages left? Seriously! It’s like my stomach has synchronized its schedule with my reading habits. I guess this is why finger food was invented.


3. Finish that overdue assignment

I really should have finished it before starting a new book. But it’s a pretty short book. Well, sort of short. Maybe if I read really fast I’ll have enough time to finish the assignment too.

Challenge accepted!

4. Go to the store

I know we’re getting low on just about everything. But going to the store means getting dressed, and being out in public. I might have to actually talk to someone!

Now I need to read to overcome the shock of such a terrifying idea. Bummer.

5. Finish knitting my friend’s baby blanket

Seriously. I’m going to have to give it to her next kid since the first one is in kindergarten now.

But I just got to a really good part! I’ll get to the blanket after I find out what happens next.

Maybe.

6. Exercise

I’m in such terrible shape. I can’t even make it up the stairs without panting. Maybe if I leave a book on the top step?

7. Catch up on my emails

I’ve been trying to ignore that angry red number in the corner. Who knew numbers could be so judgmental? I mean, most of them are probably spam anyway, right? Right! Okay, back to reading.

8. Bake the cupcakes for my sister’s birthday

Bake cute cupcakes, or read a book? Cupcakes, or book? Cupcakes, book?

If I bake them now I might end up eating them all before we leave. I can’t let that happen. Book it is!

9. Pack for the family camping trip

Aw man, I guess I’ll have to leave my … Wait. Who goes camping without books? Isn’t that a rule or something? Sweet! I’ll start packing … as soon as I finish this page.


10. Go to sleep already!

Just one more chapter.

Okay, one more page.

It’s 2 am?! Yikes! I’ll put it down after this paragraph.

Wait, is that my alarm clock?

Meet Negeen Papehn

This week I’m introducing author Negeen Papehn. Her debut novel Forbidden By Faith is coming out in spring of 2018 with City Owl Press.


Tell us a little about you and what you’re working on.

A little bit about myself, hmmmm…I am a mom and a wife. I have two boys, they are 8 and 10 and usually keep me on my toes. They are in the “arguing phase” of their relationship right now, so it’s lovely. I am a dentist by day. I know, not a glamorous job, nor is it even close to writing, but I dig it. I get to interact with a lot of people, and I am definitely a social butterfly so it works for me.

I started writing about 4 years ago. I didn’t do it thinking I would ever actually finish a book or that anyone would read it. Growing up, I sang and wrote music and poetry. But then adult life took over and I lost that creativity. A few years ago, I started getting desperate for an outlet; it felt like I was suffocating without it. A friend suggested I write a book after I told her an elaborate recollection of a situation that had transpired.

Two weeks later, I thought, what the hell, and sat in front of my laptop. The rest is history.

You As A Reader

When did you first fall in love with books?

I fell in love with books at a really young age. I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember. My dad loves to read so he instilled that into all of us. I love the ability to escape into someone else’s life, or into a fantasy world, when I read. It’s calming and thoroughly therapeutic for me.

What’s your favorite book from your childhood?

ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT’S ME MARGARET by: Judy Blume  

I can’t even remember how many times I read that book when I was young. I identified with it, because although both my parents were Muslim, I too wasn’t raised practicing a secular religion. My parents taught us about God and being good, more spiritual than anything else. And I was in a predominantly Christian community at the time. So I had a hard time figuring out what I believed and where I fit in. We were more spiritual in our learnings and I prayed much like Margaret did, like I was having a conversation. Add in all the pre-teen drama/situations and it was the best book ever, LOL.

Of the books you’ve read, which one changed you the most?

KITE RUNNER by: Khaled Hosseini

I can’t really explain how this book changed me, but I just know that it did. It was the first of a series of books I read taking place in the middle east. It opened my eyes to the horror that so many in this world face, and reminded me of how privileged I actually am to have been born and raised in the States. My life could have gone so very differently had my parents not left Iran to study in America so many years ago. This book’s tragic beauty and heartbreaking devastation has stayed with me from the moment I read it. 

What’s the last book you read and your current favorite?

The last book I read was THE HATE U GIVE by: Angie Thomas

My favorite book, that’s hard. I love ME BEFORE YOU by: JoJo Moyes. It is the one book that made me want to be a writer. I aspire to make my readers walk away with that much emotion over my characters and my stories. I thought about her MC for weeks after I turned the last page. Even now, when the movie comes on, I’m still hit with the same deep sadness in my chest, despite knowing how it will all go.

I also love NIGHTINGALE and NIGHTROAD by: Kristen Hannah. ROOFTOPS OF TEHRAN by: Mahbod Seraji, THE KITCHEN HOUSE by: Kathleen Grissom. All phenomenal books. Truthfully, this list could go on forever. So many amazing writers and books. But I’ll stop J

If you could meet any author, alive or dead, who would it be?

Hmmm…that’s a hard one. I think I’d like to meet Claire Messud. Truth be told, I haven’t read her books (yet) but I had this amazing conversation with one of my CPs (critique partners) about her. I looked her up and read some articles she was interviewed in; all the slack she gets for her “unlikable” female characters. Something she said when asked if she would be friends with her lead in THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS, struck a chord with me.

“If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t, is this a potential friend for me, but is this character alive.”

I love this.

My second book, the one I am currently working on, has a heavy storyline and characters that are causing an uproar among my CPs and Betas. Everyone loves one person or hates the other. I’d love to pick her brain on how she deals with the “unlikable characters” and deciphers what feedback to use and what to leave behind when it’s so inconsistent. How does she stay steadfast in her story? If someone “hates” one of my characters, I have a hard time not feeling like that is a reflection on my abilities as a writer. 

You As A Writer

When did you first know you were a writer?

I still don’t think of myself as a writer! LOL. I have major imposter syndrome. I doubt it will ever go away, even when I’m holding my book.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? If so, what was it about?

The first story I ever wrote was when I was about thirteen. I remember thinking that I wanted to be a writer then, so I grabbed a notebook and was on a mission. I can’t remember now how far into the story I actually got, but I do know it was about a girl who meets a boy and he breaks her heart. Apparently I had an affinity for emotional love stories then too!

What has been the most difficult part of your writing journey? The best part?

I think the toughest part of the actual process is the beginning brainstorming phase. Coming up with a storyline that’s interesting, different, and deeper than just the surface. Because I feel like such an imposter, I’m always worried I’ll run out of “good ideas” and then this dream will all be over. I almost paralyze myself with it. I don’t get writer’s block too much once I get started, my block comes in the beginning when I’m trying to get it going.

The best part has got to be the relationships I’m making. This writing community is AMAZING! I work in a very competitive field where everyone points out the other’s flaws in hopes to grab one more patient. Or patients that look at us with scrutinizing eyes trying to figure out whether we are “taking them for a ride,” or who blame us for everything that goes wrong, despite our explanations beforehand. Sometimes it’s really tough, and very discouraging. But this writing community is filled with encouragement and camaraderie. There’s no competition, like you would think, just overall happiness at each other’s accomplishments. Everyone pats each other on the back and holds each other’s hands. It’s truly refreshing. I am in awe and absolutely love it!

Of all the writing advice you’ve received, what helped you the most?

“No matter what happens, you’ve already won.” My boss just said that to me the other day. He’s one of my biggest fans. I was having a panic attack over covers and marketing and the idea that this whole thing will flop because I make the wrong choice on color or don’t know how to get the word out there correctly, etc. I was freaking out about failing. He said, “The reason why you were able to go through this entire process so quickly is because you were fierce. You didn’t start this thinking you’d become some big famous author. You told me you did this because you wanted to and you loved it. And because of that you had nothing to lose; you were fearless. Don’t you see, you’ve already won? This has become so much more than you ever imagined. Remember that. Hold onto that. You can’t fail.”

I repeat it like a mantra when I’m having the many panic attacks I have over this whole thing, LOL.

Tell us about your current project and any others you’re working on.

My debut novel, FORBIDDEN BY FAITH will be out February of 2018 with City Owl Press! Here’s a little blurb…

Sara is Muslim. Maziar is Jewish. When she meets him one unexpected night, her world is turned upside down. It seems like fate when he tells her he’s also Iranian. Just as her mind begins to soar with the possibilities, he shatters her hopes when he tells her he’s Jewish. Despite the centuries of unrest behind them, Sara and Maziar embark on a forbidden love affair, attempting to navigate through the cultural and religious prejudices that beat them down and attempt to tear them apart. Deep within the trenches of her battle, Sara finds herself more empowered and careless than ever before. As she tries to find herself, she realizes that choosing who to be could mean losing the people she loves.

My current project WHAT WILL BE is an Adult Upmarket fiction with heavy romantic elements. I am currently in the editing phases and am hoping to have it ready to query in a few months!

Fun Stuff About You

Besides writing and reading, what are some of your other interests?

I love spending time with my family, hanging out with friends, wine tasting, going on vacations. I am pretty easy and low key. I am a social butterfly for sure, but prefer it in casual, intimate settings.

If you could become an instant expert at any one thing, what would it be and why?

I’d be an expert on doing hair and make-up. It’s the one girlie thing I never mastered and I totally suck at it.

You’ve just won an all expenses paid trip to anywhere in the world. Where would you go?

Can I travel all across Europe? That’s what I’d want to do. I’d love to go to Greece, Italy, France, Germany, everywhere.

Final Thoughts

How can people connect with you?

On my website, www.negeenpapehn.comTwitterFacebook, and Instagram

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

For anyone who’s thinking about taking that leap, trying something you’ve always wanted but never have, or finding something you are truly passionate about, JUMP! You have nothing to lose. Take it from me, magic happens when you least expect it!

Thanks for sharing a little bit about you! I’m really looking forward to reading about Sara and Maziar!

If you’re interested in her debut novel, be sure to check back in spring 2018. In the meantime, you can browse City Owl Press’s other titles at cityowlpress.com

Why My Face Turns Off Sometimes

It started as daydreaming. The blank look when the teacher asks a question four times before you figure out she’s talking to you. Then it escalated to distraction. Getting in trouble for looking around during a test only to find myself in the time out corner tracing flower petals on the wallpaper.

Then my siblings gave it a fun new label: turning my face off.

I wanted to be upset about it, but the description really does fit. They even took a picture once to show me what it looks like. There’s no other way to describe it.

Turns out I have a switch in my brain somewhere. It appears to activate my imagination, but it’s also directly wired to my face, and sometimes my ears. Imagination turns on, face and hearing turn off.

I’ve tried overriding this switch, rewiring it, unplugging it. Nothing seems to work. Occasionally I’m able to switch it back before whoever’s talking to me realizes it’s been activated, but those days wind up feeling weird. Like when you have to answer the door before you’ve finished pooping. You just feel constipated until you’re able to finish the job. (It’s gross, but you know it’s true!)

In this case my brain feels constipated all day until I can flip the switch back and turn my face off for a while.

On a more serious note, one of my best memories relating to this “problem” centers around a beautiful card my sister gave me for my fourteenth birthday. On the front is a picture of a gorgeous fairy surrounded by butterflies in every color, shape, and pattern. I’ve kept it in a frame by my bed ever since. Though I’d been teased, belittled, and disciplined for my little “problem,” her words written in the card that day have helped me overcome the pain all these years.

“I wonder, is this where you go when your face is blank? We laugh at that place you space off into, but don’t let that stop you from going there. That place of butterflies and breeze-song will be an oasis later. Cultivate it. Decorate it with your songs and paintings and dance, there among your memories and knick-knacks.”

She was right. This is where I go when my face turns off. So, if you’re talking to me and notice I don’t seem to be paying attention, just give me a minute. I’ll turn my face back on when my imagination is satisfied.

And to those who relate to this “problem,” you are not broken. You are not a mistake. That place you go to, whether it’s decorated with butterflies, spaceships, haunted houses, or flowers; it’s your oasis. Cultivate it. Decorate it. And above all, don’t let anyone stop you from going there, even if it means turning your face off.

 

Meet … me!

Now that I’ve done a few author interviews, I thought it would be only fair to answer my own questions myself. So this week you get to learn a little more about me!


1. Tell us a little about you and what you’re working on.

I live with my husband, two boys, and one country cat who shows his love by jumping out of the bushes and attacking my legs. I bake oddly shaped bread and almost always forget the dough at some point in the process. I volunteer for my church in any capacity that doesn’t require standing on a stage. And I watch a lot of Jane Austen and Disney princess movies to make up for all the testosterone tromping around my house. If you ever catch me humming, you’ll have to tell me, cause I almost never realize I’m doing it.

You As A Reader

2. When did you first fall in love with books?

My earliest memory of books is my mom reading The Chronicles of Narnia to me and my siblings at bedtime. The moment I truly fell in love with books, though, is when I asked my mom for a recommendation in Jr. High and she handed me The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. I’ve been in love with books ever since.

3. What’s your favorite book from your childhood?

Aside from The Blue Sword, which is still one of my favorites, I most remember the Little Critter books and the Henry And Mudge books. I love how simple they are, even for picture books. There aren’t any heavy themes or lessons to wade through, just fun stories about some fun kids. And who doesn’t love St. Bernards?

4. Of the books you’ve read, which one changed you the most?

Second to the Bible, I would say The Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce had the biggest impact on me. Alanna is such a brave, determined girl and I was able to fight through many difficult moments because of her example. I still channel her courage sometimes, when life is especially tough.

5. What’s the last book you read and your current favorite?

I just finished reading Six Of Crows by Leah Bardugo and I’m in awe of her plotting skills. I hope to someday be capable of writing that well. As for current favorite, I recently fell in love with An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Laia is exactly the kind of YA heroine I’ve been waiting so long to find. As great a role model as Alanna was and is, I always wished I could read about a heroine who wasn’t naturally brave or courageous. So many strong YA heroines are the kind of girls who act first and think later, who put their neck out for the ones they love even if their necks aren’t long enough. There’s nothing wrong with those kind of heroines, but it was nice to be able to experience learning how to step up and be brave with Laia. We wouldn’t have the phrase ‘fight or flight’ if there weren’t fliers. But the fliers need heroines to help them learn how to be fighters instead of just showing them how to fight.

Sorry, I’m a bit passionate about this book.

6. If you could meet any author, alive or dead, who would it be?

I would love to meet JRR Tolkien. I know, original, but I’ve been reading the book The Letters Of JRR Tolkien and he sounds like he could hold his own in this century just as well as in his own. I mean, what fantasy writer wouldn’t want to chat with the godfather of fantasy who spoke of his writing as a “silly fairy language” that he just couldn’t leave alone?

You As A Writer

7. When did you first know you were a writer?

My junior year of high school I took a brave leap and signed up for a Writers Workshop class. That was the first time I realized how much writing helps me process my emotions. I’d always focused on music before then because it’s what I knew. It was the easiest road. But the first time I put a piece of myself into words, a crack shot through the dam holding back all my stories. Over time, more and more words dribbled out, until a few years ago I decided to put all my effort into becoming a working writer and busted that dam wide open. Now I couldn’t build that wall back up even if I wanted to.

8. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? If so, what was it about?

Yikes, I don’t remember much, but I know it had something to do with horses. In fourth grade we all made books by hand, drew the pictures, bound the covers, created the whole thing from beginning to end. Mine was plastered with horses. And if I remember correctly, most of them only had two legs because I hadn’t yet learned the concept of foreground and background. I just told my teacher the other legs were hiding.

9. What has been the most difficult part of your writing journey? The best part?

The most difficult part has been believing in myself. There will always be someone out there better than me, more experienced than me, more intelligent than me. Oftentimes it’s hard to remember that that doesn’t make me insignificant, inexperienced, or stupid. When I make mistakes it’s easier to compare myself to who I want to be and become discouraged, than to look at who I used to be and feel proud of how far I’ve already come. I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting better at taking pride in the work I’ve already done and am still doing.

As for the best part, I have to say it’s the rush I get on those rare nights when I get to sink into my stories, my characters, my worlds and let reality disappear for a little while. I haven’t yet mastered the art of writing amid distraction, so those are the nights I make the most progress. Writing is mostly a lonely endeavor, but in those moments I’m in such awe of the power of imagination that I forget to be lonely.

10. Of all the writing advice you’ve received, what helped you the most?

I’ve read it, heard it, seen it over and over and this one observation keeps me writing more than anything else. It’s that the most important difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer, is that the published writer didn’t give up. Determination isn’t a guarantee that I will get published, but quitting is a guarantee that I won’t. So any aspiring writers reading this, no matter what people tell you, you only fail if you give up.

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you’ve already done.” – Newt Gingrich

11. Tell us about your current project and any others you’re working on.

Right now I’m editing/rewriting my first novel, The Ambassador’s Daughter. You can read the full description on the books tab of this website, but it’s a YA high fantasy about a 16 year old girl who, after a mysterious near-death experience discovers the Fae and learns that a lot of people want her dead. It’s the first in a planned trilogy and will be followed by The General’s Daughter and The Siren’s Daughter.

Another novel I have outlined, but haven’t started writing yet is The Suncatcher Stone (you can read the full description for this on the books tab as well). It’s an undersea adventure about a young Undine boy who finds himself on a quest for the legendary Suncatcher Stone to save the one Undine he loves most, his half-sister. Think Indiana Jones as a merman.

Until I finish those, you can read my short stories which can be found at the short stories tab on this website.

Fun Stuff About You

12. Besides writing and reading, what are some of your other interests?

I was going to share the things I actually find time for these days, but seeing as that’s mostly sleeping, I’ll share a few of the crazy career ideas I came up with during my oldest kid’s first year when baby brain temporarily broke my common sense filter.

Let’s see, first I was going to knit until my hands fell off and sell everything I made on Etsy, but I quickly realized I don’t love knitting that much. Then I was going to open, manage, and run a summer camp for foster kids, something I’m much more passionate about, but have zero experience or qualifications for (I mean, I’d just become a mom, when exactly was I going to find time for all that?). So I went back to the crafty options and came up with the craziest idea of all. An alpaca farm. I guess I was gonna stash them all in the basement of our apartment complex? With the washers and dryers? Yeah, that’s not nuts or anything.

Anyway, I mostly play around on the piano and doodle in my sketchbook when I find a rare few minutes to myself these days.

13. If you could become an instant expert at any one thing, what would it be and why?

Time management. If I could manage my time like an expert, this book would be done by now. But I suppose the gift of a powerful imagination must come with the curse that is constant distraction. Of course, Twitter doesn’t help with the focusing either.

14. You’ve just won an all expenses paid trip to anywhere in the world. Where would you go?

New Zealand. Or Ireland. Or Scotland. Hawa’ii? Okay, I can see why the authors might hate me for this question.

Final Thoughts

15. How can people connect with you?

I’m on Twitter far more often than I probably should be. I also have a Facebook page and a few Pinterest boards full of art to inspire my works in progress. You can also find a few of my short stories at the podcast 600 Second Saga, created and edited by the fabulous Mariah Avix. You can find her interview here if you’d like to learn more. And of course, I’m the creator of this blog/website, but you already knew that.

16. Anything else you’d like to tell us?

This “interview” was a lot harder than I thought it would be and I’m much more sympathetic to the complaints of the authors who’ve endured the punishment. Not enough to change the questions though. 😉

Also, I cohost a weekly Twitter chat under the hashtag #turtlewriters where slow writers can get to know each other and encourage each other in our goals. You can read more about that on the #turtlewriters tab on this website as well.

If you made it this far then I give you a solid round of applause! Congrats! Thanks for reading about me and please stick around and explore the website.