Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Maiden of Time

Today Crystal Collier is here to discuss her latest release

and her Maiden of Time Series.

While Crystal is answering my questions here
I'm visiting her blog for

Welcome, Crystal!

*DISCLAIMER: Due to a sugar-prohibiting diet, Crystal may be slightly more obsessed with cookies than cheese. Beware flying crumbs.*

     1.   Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different, and your approach is unique?

Jane Eyre meets Supernatural. Do you like history? I love history. (If you feel differently, don’t let that turn you off.) I feel we have the most to learn from people who’ve come before us. We’re the same mortal creatures having the same mortal experiences, even if society’s rules change periodically. The Maiden of Time series (Moonless, Soulless, Timeless) is basically a modern story told in historical eras. It’s a genre mash up that many reviewers call completely unique. Take some history, mix in some fantasy, throw in a bit of horror, some romance, a touch of time travel, and voila! These are not your grandmother’s cookies. And I mean, who doesn’t want elegant dresses, secret societies, and the hint of something sinister below society’s pompous façade? It’s loaded.

     2.   How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

Time is a funny thing, don’t you think? (Especially time manipulation. *peeks at the time machine locked in the basement*) Some story ideas have been brewing for 20+ years (say hello to the Maiden of Time series!). Others see the light of day on a whim. (Or deadline.) Currently, there are 35 books waiting to be written/rewritten/finished, and a potential MG series that would add another 50 novels to the stack. I fully expect to kick the bucket before getting to all of them. But who knows? Fate might surprise us all. (*glances again at the time machine*) So how to pick which one to work on? It’s all about the love. If, as a writer, you love a story, the love shines through. You’ll do whatever it takes to get that shiny beauty into people’s hands. If you don’t love a story, you have no business writing it. Or rather, torturing yourself through it. (Trust me, I’ve done both.) Go eat cookies instead.

     3.   How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book? Did you learn something unusual during your research that you can share here?

I like to research while I write. I’ll research/fact check between writing sentences and read articles/books on a subject in the evenings or mornings around writing. For the Moonless, I spent a solid 5 years becoming familiar with the late 1700’s. The hardest part about a time period isn’t necessarily the foods they eat or clothes they wear. It’s the attitudes. What subjects were taboo? What were the social norms and why? Which words hadn’t been invented? (*gasp*) One particular difficulty I stumbled across was (and this is ironic,) time. Before clocks, how did people measure the passage of hours, days, years? The truth: they used the position of the sun and seasons. (“Astronomy,” say what?!) Everything didn’t depend on ticking seconds. Life was slightly less regulated and little more laid back. (Yeah, I know we’re ALL wishing we could go back to that.) *hands out cookies*

     4.   What resources do you use? In general and for this book?

LIBRARY! Can I tell you how much I LOVE my library? (It’s half the reason I moved into this county.) For little known facts, I’m always turning to JSTOR or unique blog posts. A few of my stories are placed in specific cities, and I try to keep contacts in those locations so I can track down local consultants when the time comes. For writing improvement, I have a whole shelf of writing books that I periodically revisit to keep on track. Or I’ll attend online conferences.

     5.   What's the next step for you? Television, movies, a new genre? Tell us what the future holds - what can your fans expect?

Timeless (3rd book in the series) is slated to release this fall. Yay! It’s the stunning conclusion to the Maiden of Time series, and then I’m free! ...Of that series. I’ve got a contemporary thriller in the works and an urban fantasy vying for attention. (*gets out the boxing gloves* *and mop*) Don’t mind the noise over here. Hey, is that a box of cookies? *munches while ignoring the flying ink*

Jane Eyre meets Supernatural.

Alexia’s nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

Author bio: Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy, sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog, Facebook, Goodreads, or follow her on Twitter.

Readers which do you prefer cheese or cookies? 

Monday, June 20, 2016


Annalisa Crawford is here to discuss her latest release. 
Don't you just love that cover?

you. i. us.

you. i. us. is a collection of vignettes, small scenes which hint at the story beneath.

Annalisa has taken that idea to another level, because she asked 15 bloggers to ask her one question each, creating small insights into her life and writing.

To that end: I asked Annalisa, 

What scene in your writing has made you laugh the hardest or cry the most?

Thanks for inviting me over, Yolanda.

There will be no names in this answer, because it’s a huge spoiler, but a great example. If you’ve read my books, you’ll know the story I’m referencing…

I killed a character. I loved him. He was a combination of two huge crushes I had when I was growing up, plus a little bit of extra awesome. I could see he was going to die from a mile off, and tried so hard to veer the story a different way.

I kept writing, hoping the story would come to a happy conclusion, but each time I was thwarted. I thought I’d finally done it, but another character snuck up and did the deed. And, so, yes I shed a tear or two as I wrote it, and as I read it a couple of years later too.

Incidentally, Omelette—a story from That Sadie Thing—is the story that has made the most readers cry.

    Thanks, Annalisa, I look forward to reading You. I. Us.

you. i. us.

In you. i. us., Annalisa Crawford captures everyday people during  poignant defining moments in their lives: An artist puts his heart into his latest sketch, an elderly couple endures scrutiny by a fellow diner, an ex-student attempts to make amends with a girl she bullied at school, a teenager holds vigil at his friend’s hospital bedside, long distance lovers promise complete devotion, a broken-hearted widow stares into the sea from the edge of a cliff where her husband died, a grieving son contacts the only person he can rely on in a moment of crisis, a group of middle-aged friends inspire each other to live remarkable lives.

Day after day, we make the same choices. But after reading you. i. us., you’ll ask yourself, “What if we didn’t?”

Publication date: June 10, 2016
Genre: Short Stories (Single Author)


Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat. Annalisa writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories. She has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years, and is the author of Cat & The Dreamer and Our Beautiful Child.

Reader's is there a question you'd like to ask or be asked?

Pretend you've just met Annalisa, 
what would you like to know?

Monday, June 13, 2016


Today, I'm visiting Sylvia Ney @Writing in Wonderland and talking about Parallels: Felix Was Here and my story EVER-TON!

But here today please welcome
Nancy Lynn Jarvis,
author of the 

Nancy is here to give us some insight 
into her writing madness
to introduce her latest Regan McHenry Mystery

You can read my review HERE!

1.             Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different, and your approach is unique?

I recently saw a post on Facebook that read, “I am a writer. Anything you say or do may be used in a story.” That pretty much sums up how I get ideas and how I work. Take A Neighborly Killing, for example. I have a real neighbor who was the model for the dead neighbor in the story. I made some observations about him in real life and wove a story around him based on those observations. The ironic thing is that more and more of my made up story line is looking like it’s true. (Oh, gosh, I hope he doesn’t read this; if he does I’m in trouble.)

It’s not the first time I’ve made up things for use in books only to have them come true, either. I know writers do use what they see and hear that’s quite normal — but having something I made up become a headline in our local newspaper, well. I don’t think that is.

2.             How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book? Did you learn something unusual during your research that you can share here?

It’s surprising how much research goes into something as straightforward as a current-day mystery. I don’t mind, though, because I love doing the research involved and always learn some new fact.  I knew bullets can be tied to a specific weapon, but because of A Neighborly Killing, I learned  that gunpowder residue can be as well.

3.             Do you use professionals to verify your facts, such as the police? Is there a good way to approach them? How valuable is their input? Or do you just wing it?

The real estate facts I use are easy since, after twenty five years as a Realtor, I’m an expert. For the rest of my research, I use a friend who is a private investigator and the internet. I’ve discovered a website where you can ask a question and police will respond, another where doctors will answer questions, and my favorite, a site where military personnel will offer opinions about the fastest and quietest way of dispatching someone while facing them or from behind. And then, there’s always Decomposition for Dummies which is like the whole series of ...for Dummies books but much more graphic.

4.             Does writing provide you a sufficient income to live on? If so, how long did it take before this happened? Is it your goal to be financially successful, or do you write and publish solely for the 'satisfaction of sharing your stories'?

What an interesting question. I could never “live” as in pay the mortgage, feed my family, and keep up with utilities and  gas for my SUV on what I make from selling books, but considering I never expected to make any money selling what I wrote, I’m doing very well! I guess my answer is it depends on my perspective. Let’s say I make enough money from book sales to do some fun things with it.

5.             What's the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour.

I don’t know if you’ll find it funny as I do or a sad commentary on people. I had a woman pick up one of my books, read the book-back teaser, and pronounce the book as sounding quite interesting. I thought I’d made a sale. Then she asked me what The New York Times Book Review said about the book. 

I remember a funny exchange on the TV show “Castle” where he was asked that same question and said the Book Review of New York loved his book and that he had paid a considerable amount of money for that high praise. I considered answering her similarly, but instead told her that my books flew considerably under The New York Times Book Review section radar. I suggested she should read the book and tell me what she thought of it.

Her response had me rolling on the floor. “I could never decide if I like a book or not from reading it. I depend on The New York Times to tell me if I like it or not,” she said.

6.              What's the next step for you? Television, movies, a new genre? Tell us what the future holds - what can your fans expect?

I’ve started writing a new series called Geezers With Tools about two retired men who start a handyman business. One of them is a recent widower who needs a diversion and the other is a self-styled player who hopes to meet single women thru the business. They’ll solve crimes in the course of doing fix-ups.

I also got a fantastic idea for another Regan McHenry Real Estate Mystery from a friend recently so there will be a book seven.

And, fingers crossed, The Death Contingency, the first in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series, has been optioned as has Mags and the AARP Gang, a stand-alone comedy I wrote about octogenarian bank robbers. I’m not holding my breath because optioned to produced to screened is a long and usually not completed journey, but you never know.

Waking up to gunshots and discovering the body of their neighbor just outside their bedroom door is bad enough, but when the Coroner rules the death a suicide, Realtors Regan McHenry and her husband Tom Kiley don’t believe it for a minute. Never mind what the physical evidence says; they heard their dead neighbor arguing with someone in the moments preceding his death.

What really happened has become more than just a mystery they’d like to solve because the circumstances of their dead neighbor’s past keep interfering with their present and putting them in danger.

Nancy Lynn Jarvis finally acknowledged she was having too much fun writing to ever sell another house, so she let her license lapse in May of 2013, after her twenty-fifth anniversary in real estate. After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC. She invites you to take a peek into the real estate world through the stories that form the backdrop of her Regan McHenry mysteries. Real estate details and ideas come from Nancy's own experiences.

What about you readers, ever use a real person as the 
antagonist or protagonist of your novel?
Would your profession work to create a cozy series?

Do you have a question for Nancy?

Monday, June 6, 2016


   If you haven't guessed, Samantha Bryant is here. She's agreed to do an interview and share a few of her writing secrets while telling us about her latest release - CHANGE OF LIFE!

     1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different, and your approach is unique?

I’m a lifelong comics and superhero fan. But I’ve been frustrated as an adult woman, finding a hero that I can really connect with. The idea started as a lark, riffing on the idea that if hormones cause superpowers, then menopausal women should have the corner on the market. But the more I wrote, the more I was trying to explore my beloved superhero universe through the eyes of grown women with grown women’s responsibilities.
The thing I love about speculative fiction in general is the way you can write about the things that matter most without seeming to. Sure, I’m writing about women who can fly, throw cars, and wield fire. But I’m also writing about the roles of women in society, friendship among women, and the hard choices people make in extreme situations. You can learn through play.

The unusual thing about my Menopausal Superhero series, is of course, menopause. It’s rare in superhero stories to find a female hero over thirty years old, with history, family, and responsibilities. That’s what appealed to me: exploring how a superhero story would be different if the heroes were a different class of citizen than you usually see.

So, Going Through the Change and Change of Life, the first two books in this series, center around four heroines and one mad scientist, each going through menopause. The women range in age from 32 to 67, and come from different walks of life, none of which are typical in superhero fiction.

·      Jessica Roark is a stay-at-home mother of young children in an affluent suburban neighbourhood.

·      Linda Alvarez is a 48 year old grandmother and empty-nester living in an older part of the city, with a close-knit neighbourhood.

·      Helen Braeburn, who lives in an older condo she got on a great resale and that she plans to flip, is a 63 year old embittered divorcée with a grown, but estranged daughter.

·      Patricia O’Neill is a 58 year old corporate vice president who never married, nor ever wanted to and would break out in hives at the suggestion that she have children.

·      Cindy Liu is a 67 year old retiree, a famed researcher who feels pushed aside in an industry that values youth above all. The love of her life died young, and she never loved again after that.

     2.   How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

Ideas seem to sneak up on me slowly. Over time, I’ll notice that I keep coming back to some musing in my quiet moments (which are mostly in the shower or in my car—I don’t get much “quiet” in my day to day life). 

There’s usually not a lightning flash and a mad science cackle (though there was for the first Menopausal Superhero novel). It’s more like some thought is rolling around in my brain at a subconscious level, growing bigger and bigger and gathering strength and size until, finally, it’s at a conscious level and big enough to do something with. I keep a semi-daily journal where I write down such things (and kvetch about my life), but I don’t keep a writer’s notebook in particular. By the time I realize that that little “bug in my ear” feeling is a bona fide idea, I’m already writing it.

This series did have a lightning moment, though, springing from a conversation with my husband. If I’d been pondering this at a subconscious level, it was so subconscious that I didn’t know it.

     3.   How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book? Did you learn something unusual during your research that you can share here?

There’s a lot of variety in research time for me depending on what I’m writing. One of my still-in-progress projects is a women’s historical fiction trilogy. I’ve been reading a lot of history books in preparation for finishing that, so the research period is pretty long—already having lasted three years. It’ll probably continue quite a bit longer since I am woefully undereducated about the period between WWI and WWII in the Midwestern United States and historical accuracy will matter and will constrain the story possibilities.

But to write stories in my Menopausal Superhero series, there’s not a lot of research before I sit down to write. I’m writing in contemporary time, in a near-realistic world. I research small things when questions come up, like the science of balloon flight, the cellular effects of cancer, the limits of heat proof glass, and elements of traditional Chinese medicine. But that’s more like “quick google search” kind of research, a few minutes at a time. The hard part for me is not to fall into a research rabbit hole and wander around there so long I don’t get back to the actual writing! I can get fascinated easily and get lost.

In writing Jessica’s flight ability, I did a lot of research about the mechanics of flight. Eventually, I decided to have her body work on principles of buoyancy like a balloon, rather than thrust and lift like a bird. I loved the idea that Dr. Liu’s experimentation caused a chemical reaction inside Jessica that basically fills her with something lighter than air. It definitely made it fun to write her discovery of her powers and initial difficulties. It gave me some comedic possibilities.


4.   Did you self-publish or have a publisher? Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? What's the best way to build an audience before publication?

I’m a hybrid author now, with one self-published anthology out there produced with my critique group, and other anthologies and my novels produced through small independent presses. Every writer I know seems to have a different path, and there are advantages and disadvantages of all of them. My guess is that, eventually, we’re all going to be hybrid authors, choosing the best path for each thing we write, rather than choosing one particular method of putting our work out there.

It’s hard to build an audience before publication, but building some kind of web presence is a good start: blogging, tweeting, etc.  I’ve seen some writers build a following, at least among other writers, by sharing their process as they work on completing their books and publishing them. That’s getting harder to do now, though, as they are so many writers talking only to other writers and missing out on connecting with readers. But I would definitely suggest developing some kind of web presence, so you’re not limited to only readers and friends in your immediate geographic vicinity.
For me, I’d long played on Google Plus and Twitter and had been blogging regularly for a few years before my first book came out. Blogging in particular had been good for me in terms of developing discipline and networking with other writers. That meant that when Going Through the Change came out, there was a small ready-made audience of people who were already interested in me and what I do. It didn’t make me an “overnight success,” but it did give me a leg up, compared to someone who never participated in that world before having something to sell. It gave me people to reach out to when I wanted a signal boost for a release. It’s a reciprocal game, social media love. You have to give to get.

     5.   Does writing provide you a sufficient income to live on? If so, how long did it take before this happened? Is it your goal to be financially successful, or do you write and publish solely for the 'satisfaction of sharing your stories'?

Not yet, though it did let me be generous with my family for winter holidays last year. My first book just came out in April 2015 and I’ve only released one more since. So, I’m a babe in the woods in this game: just over one year in. From what I hear, you need at least five books to make anything resembling a professional salary regularly, and at my current rate of production, that will take another three years at least.

It is my eventual goal to be only a writer. Currently, I’m a teacher and a writer and find that it leaves me with a divided heart too often, or feeling like I might be drawn and quartered because parts of me are being tugged in opposite directions. Still, I’m happy to be living my dream even within the constraints of still holding a day job. I feel out of balance when I don’t get to write, like a part of me is missing.

While I don’t write “for the money,” I do still want an audience. Unlike my yoga practice, which nobody wants to see, my writing practice is about creating art for an audience besides myself. One of the best feelings in the world is when a reader with no real-life connection to me finds my books and praises them. That’s when I feel like a real writer.

Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is now for sale by Curiosity Quills, as is the sequel, Change of LIfe. You can find her online on her blog,  Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on the Curiosity Quills page, or on Google+

Thank you, Samantha!
I love your premise and I agree Woman = Superhero.

Reader's, if your hormones gave you a superpower
 what would your superpower be?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


The Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh's awesome co-hosts are Murees Dupe, Alexia Chamberlynn, Chemist Ken, and Heather Gardner!


What is normal in the writing world? What is normal in the blogging world? 
     I've no idea what 'normal' is, and while writing is what I truly enjoy doing. Family and other goals also require my time.  I enjoyed my recent break. I loved getting my hands dirty in the garden. Although, I could have lived without the poison ivy - my fault - I knew the moment I pulled it out by the roots, what I was handling, yes, without gloves. A small breakout - no big deal. LOL
          My family especially loved the new recipes, and I loved experimenting, but they're an easy bunch to please. My house is almost reorganized and things are ready for sale at weekly flea markets. Time to get rid of all the collections.
          I did get some writing done, and added a few new projects to the list. To that end I've decided to change things up. I'm going to be making changes, all the way around. Work, writing habits, writing goals, blogging, my online presence, my family and work presence, as well as marketing. Besides, it's vacation time - priorities have to change, at least for awhile.
          For the rest next few months my blog will host authors and their latest releases. I hope you'll stop by and say hello, but more importantly I hope you'll consider buying and writing a review. It's through shared support that we all succeed. 
          Thank you, every one who's helped to make my dreams come true. Alex, thank you, for this group and everyone who participates - you get it - you understand, thank you!

Here's my favorite quote about 'normal' – do you have one?

What are your 'summer' 
or 'future' plans, 
writing or otherwise?

If you'd like to be a guest on my blog

send an email to -