Behind the Book: 2020 Collection

Thank you so much to all the authors that took the time to answer questions on making of their books. I learnt so much through your different journeys, the struggles you overcame, your best tips, and discovering more about you and your book.

The book that started this all off was Number Eight Crispy Chicken by Sarah Neofield. I was part of her Street Team for the books launch and interviewed her as my stop on the book’s blog tour.

I learnt so much from Sarah Neofield and it helped me in my decision to self publishing. The “Behind the Book” blog post turned into a series.

By the end of 2020, I had conducted a total of 18 interviews! I have put them all here in this post for your enjoyment. So, make yourself comfortable and get reading!

Sarah Neofield – Number Eight Crispy Chicken

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 Elexis Bell – Gem of Meruna

NB: This title now has a new cover

btb the gem of meruna

Kara S. Weaver – Crown of Conspiracy

copy of btb the gem of meruna

 J.D. Groom – Sorceress of Truth

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Annabelle by Elexis Bell

NB: This title now has a new cover

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Soul Bearer by Elexis Bell

NB: This title now has a new cover

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Stuck on Vacation with Ryan Rupert by P S Malcolm

World for the Broken by Elexis Bell

Lanterns in the Sky by P S Malcolm

Mystical Greenwood by Andrew McDowell

Wiccan Romances: Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

What are friends for? By Sarah Sutton

Wiccan Romances Sam’s Story by Nicola Hebron

Out of my league by Sarah Sutton

Petrified by Ben Meeks

Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

A heart of salt & silver by Elexis Bell

Out Foxed by RJ Blaine

The last Behind the Book interview for 2020 was part of R. J. Blaine’s Blog Tour for her book’s release. It was organised by Xpresso Tours and they created the blog banner.

If you enjoyed this, look out for more Behind the Book interviews in 2021, and my review for some of these books.

Book Review: Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

Book Review: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

Book Review: Crown of Conspiracy by Kara S Weaver

2020 Book Reviews

Did you miss my Virtual Book Tour?

I want to say thanks to my virtual book tour team who all made sure they posted something unique and meaningful to spread the word about Ocean Heart in the lead up to my release.

Virtual Book Tour Team

Here’s a little more detail about the team and links to their articles:

J D Groom

Jodie is an author with two series out. One is a collection of short stories (Book 1 is Envy), and the other is a Paranormal Romance series (Book 1 is Sorceress of Truth).

Author Q & A by Jodie

Ciara Delahunt

Ciara is an Urban Fantasy Irish writer with her debut series planned for early 2021. Sign up to her newsletter to discover more about her Upcoming Hybrid Wold series.

Ocean Heart Setting by Ciara

The Magic Book Corner

Laura is book blogger with a dragon. She’s often uncovering hidden gems by indie authors. Her site is packed with content on various genres, book reviews, and author Q & As.

Book Review: Ocean Heart by Laura

Sarah Neofield

Sarah is an Australian author of fiction and nonfiction books. Sarah enjoys travelling and her writing often challenges people to rethink their beliefs.

Author Q & A by Sarah

Cassidy Reyne

Cassidy is an author of Romantic Suspense novels, with several titles out, including her popular The Sentinel series. Check out my review of her book Agent Undone.

Ocean Heart – A Review by Cassidy

If you like this, you’ll enjoy:

Ocean Heart is currently entered in the All Author December 2020 Cover Contest. If you like the Cover of Ocean Heart please vote for it.

Behind the Book: Outfoxed by RJ Blain

This is the first time I’ve taken part in an Xpresso Book Tour but I just loved the look and sound of Oufoxed. The chance to find out more was so tempting, I applied to host a Behind the Book interview.

What inspired your novel Outfoxed?

This is a weird answer, only because… it’s just going to sound weird. Which is weird. So, I often do ‘what if’ speculative questioning about Life, the Universe, and Everything. This time, I wanted to pursue several things: what would happen if I fractured the United States in a ‘hardline’ fashion? In this case, quadrants due to fluctuating magical zones, with distorting boundaries separating the quadrants. This makes traveling between the quadrants difficult.

How would society change if the United States became separated in such a fashion?

The next question I wanted to pursue was “under what circumstances would people willfully sell themselves into slavery?” I also expanded that to “What would happen if parents could sell their children into slavery?” 

Side-note: most parents absolutely do NOT sell their children into slavery, but some do because they can in this society. Some pare paid to enroll their child into the system, but most parents who do are upgrading life for their kids. Before you get out the pitchforks, let me explain a little.

Here is the scenario: You have a child. You are from a destitute part of society. You are in a situation where you can’t really provide for your child as you want.

You have some things going for you. The right kind of magic. Good looks. Some desirable trait. More importantly, your child has those qualities as well, thus your child is a desirable for someone in a higher bracket of society.

In the system I’ve created, the person being sold is the one who is paid for the sale, most of them do so voluntarily, and there are strict requirements on how they are treated.

Your child, who had no opportunities, now may become the wife or husband (it’s equal opportunity) of someone in a position of power. They are given money to set up in their new life.

This is the pitch voters were successfully sold in the society, and they, as a nation, voted to have this system put into place.

For another fun side note, this system is founded on historical systems from several different countries, where people absolutely did buy the daughters or sons of one family to join theirs. I just implanted pre-existing systems into the United States and modified it to better fit the evolution of the society thanks to magic.

Note: I do not, in any shape or form, support the creation of this sort of society. I just got curious and wanted to see what would happen if I wrote a society like this, put characters in it, and wrote out how the system worked and how the characters fight to change it.

Novels would be boring if I didn’t give them something to work with or a conflict, after all.

And of course, what can go wrong in the book will go wrong, as Jade discovers for herself.

What did you enjoy most about writing your urban fantasy novel?

Just about everything. This story is so complex, and it’s set in such a rich version of Earth… it wasn’t easy to write, but it was a delight, a challenge, and a passion. It’s a lot of things I love about urban fantasy in one package… with a twist(er) tossed in for good measure.

This is book 1 in The Fox Witch series – Did you know you were writing a series from the start?

Yes. Before I even started writing Outfoxed, I had all three covers of the trilogy purchased, titled, and in my hands. I also started the ground work on its sister quartets and trilogies. At current count, there are something like twenty books across a bunch of trilogies and quartets, each one following a different set of characters. The next set in the world to come out will have connections to Jade and her friends in one way or another. (I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to tell you how they’re connected yet.)

How many books do you anticipate in the series and what can we look forward to in the series?

The Fox Witch books are a trilogy, but there will, as I mentioned above, be a collection of a bunch of trilogies and quartets. There will be a ‘main’ series consisting of ten books, but until I have the cover art for the first book of that set, it isn’t being fully announced. However, I can announce the name of the model for the cover: Mr. Grace Draven, the husband of the wonderfulauthor of the Wraith King series. (I love these books, and I’m extremely biased; I format and proofread for Grace.)

I begged for Mr. Grace Draven to model for me. I begged. He finally agreed, and I screamed happily when it happened.

How long did Outfoxed take to write from the first idea to publishing?

Good question. I think about two years. When I initially started it, it was a pure passion project, and it wasn’t until I started wrapping up a different series I began working on it in earnest.

If you could have any super power what would you choose and why?

Regeneration and brain refreshing. After about six hours of working, I’m so exhausted, but I want to keep writing, but my brain checks out. I’d like to be able to refresh my brain on command. Also, sleep without tossing and turning for hours. I love sleeping… but it doesn’t happen easily or as often as I would like!

Which character in your novel do you relate to most and why?

Hrm. This is a good question. I really don’t know. I try to write myself out of my characters as much as possible, because readers are trying to read adventures about those characters, not about me! I insert food I like into the books. (If you see a character obsessed with a food, it’s probably a food I like. Not always, but often. It’s a controlled self-insertion, and it’s now an ongoing joke. I also do this with cars, although… look for the vehicles I destroy in creative fashions. Chances are I really like that car, SUV, or truck. The more creative I am about the destruction of it, the more I like it.)

In life is stranger than fiction, I bought the truck from one of the books. For my husband. It’s his truck. His dream truck. (It’s also my dream truck, but I would have my dream truck in a different color.) But the lead character in Cheetahs Never Win, following the very creative destruction of his truck… got his dream truck.

Which I now own.

I named my husband’s truck Dipshit. (After the horse in Water Viper.)

My sense of humor is strange.

For the record, my husband calls the truck Warspite. After the battleship.

Can you tease us with a short snippet from Outfoxed?

Absolutely!

The rumble escalated, and the lamp swayed on its chain, a warning one of the twisters passed directly overhead. Sandro frowned, his gaze locking on the light. “I wonder how much damage that swarm’s doing.”
People from all over the United States came to the Alley, and I’d joined everyone else in no longer caring where someone came from. He had an accent compared to the locals, but I couldn’t tell if he was deliberately hiding where he came from or if he always sounded like he could have lived anywhere in the world and magically fit in.
His question, however, told me a simple truth: Sandro hadn’t been in the Alley long. Those who’d survived through their first tornado season no longer cared about the damage ratings of a twister or a swarm.
It didn’t matter.

No matter how bad it got, like a weed in the cracks of a sidewalk, Tulsa endured.

When and where can we buy Outfoxed?

Outfoxed is available at all major retailers, and releases on November 3, 2020!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Outfoxed-Fox-Witch-Book-1-ebook/dp/B08128WGV7/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/outfoxed-r-j-blain/1134737783?ean=2940160932941

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/outfoxed-14

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/outfoxed/id1486409080

Where can fans find you to discover more and connect online?

My website, hosted by my cats, is https://thesneakykittycritic.com

I can also be found on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/rjblain.author

Beyond that, I am rather reclusive, usually because I’m hiding in my cave writing more books.

Thank you so much for hosting!



Outfoxed
R.J. Blain
(The Fox Witch, #1)
Publication date: November 3rd 2020
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Death is a way of life outside of the safety of Inner Tulsa, and Jade means to keep flipping Mother Nature off until old age claims her. With one eye always on the sky, the last thing she needs is a pack of bounty hunters out for her living head. With no idea of why anyone would want her, her wits might keep her free, assuming she can resist the charming lures of Sandro, one of the men out to claim her as his own.

Left with the choice of being the evening snack of a tornado or taking shelter with the bounty hunter, she does what she does best: she lives on the edge.

Striking a bargain with the handsome bounty hunter buys her another day of life, but it also dumps her into the heart of a sinister plot, one meant to enslave the residents of the storm-tossed city—and the others brave and foolish enough to call the Alley home.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Google Play

Author Bio:

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until satisfied.

Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Goodreads

GIVEAWAY!
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Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you like this, you’ll enjoy:

More about the Outfoxed Book Tour

Behind the Book: Petrified by Ben Meeks

Behind the Book: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

Book Review: Blind Tiger by Rachel Vincent

Behind the Book: A Heart of Salt & Silver by Elexis Bell

Elexis Bell is about to release another amazing book, and you can preorder it now. Discover how she created A HEART OF SALT & SILVER, and more on what it’s about.

I have to add how much I love the cover. It has all these gorgeous autumn colours that would look stunning in an outdoors bookstagram pic.

What genre is A Heart of Salt & Silver and can you name any similar books?

It’s a gritty paranormal high fantasy romance. I haven’t seen a lot of paranormal books set in other worlds or fantasy books with demons and werewolves, so comparable books have eluded me.

I’ve recently learned about the Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout which blends fantasy and paranormal with some romance, but since I haven’t read it yet, I don’t know if it gets quite as dark as mine.

What inspired your novel A Heart of Salt & Silver?

Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I imagine a character or two and see what happens. It helps me to center my mind so I can go to sleep. If I like the characters, I come back to them the next night, and the next, and the next. That’s how I got Ness.

I pictured the opening scene and just had to come back to it. So I wrote it. Then, I just kept going, letting the novel unfold as it needed to.

This book has werewolves & vampires, which would you rather be?

There was a time when I might have said vampire. But I’ve been drawn more and more to the woods lately, so I’d have to say werewolf.

Especially if they’re like the ones in A Heart of Salt & Silver. The vampires in my book are especially ruthless and cruel, whereas the werewolves are very loyal and honor driven.

This is your fifth published book, what’s your method?

As far as writing is concerned, I just write. I’m definitely a pantser. If I know too much about where a book is going, I lose interest. So I don’t plan. I just write. If I need to stop and change anything, I stop writing to make adjustments, as that will likely affect the way the rest of novel goes. For instance, I stopped writing A Heart of Salt & Silver at 40,000 words in and did a complete rewrite. Some chapters were removed entirely and replaced with new ones. Every chapter that remained, had to be completely redone because of a very serious perception shift for one character that affected how that particular individual viewed (and acted toward) every other character.

Usually, it takes me about 4 to 6 months to write the first draft. Even with the 40k rewrite, I still came in at 4 months for this novel.

Then, I edit while writing something else.

Are there any genres you can’t see yourself writing?

Contemporary romance. I don’t like writing in the real world. Not unless there are really high stakes for the individual, like in a thriller.

What are you working on next?

Well, I’m editing two dark high fantasy romances and a thriller novella. I’m also writing a sci-fi series that just keeps expanding.

Please share a short snippet or teaser from A Heart of Salt & Silver?

Behind me, the wounded man waits.

Turning to face him, I take in his appearance. A bit of scruff decorates his jaw. Dark eyebrows and tan skin frame shining green eyes. Simple clothes stretch tight over a well-honed physique.

Not that his muscles did much good to ward off a dagger.

No words cross his lips. He stares up at me, part fear and part awe. It’s a strange mixture, but not one I’ve never seen before.

Again, I twirl my finger in the air, releasing his Nether binding, and he slumps against the tree.

Several deep breaths quell the desire to finish him off. Still more chase away the vastly different images of him beneath me, positioned between my legs to drive Nolan from my mind, just for a while.

I blink once more and conceal my true form so that nearby animals may feel at ease. For all the world, I appear to be a normal human woman.

Jaw dropping, he presses a hand to his side and leans his head back against the tree.

“Can you walk?” I ask.

“I’ll manage,” he answers, deep voice coarse with pain.

“And your name?”

“Elias.” His voice comes out strained.

A small part of me wants to heal him. Whether it’s my half-human heart, the morals instilled in me by the Knight who raised me, or the years I’ve spent working at self-control, I can’t be sure. Perhaps it’s my stupid, overly emotional, half-demon heart sympathizing with him. Regardless of the cause, I want to take away his pain.

And yet, another, darker part of me wonders what the ground beneath him would look like dyed red with his blood.

“I’m Ness,” I say, concealing my dilemma carefully. “How about some tea?”

Where can we find out more and buy your books?

All my books are available at the link below:

www.amazon.com/author/elexis_bell

If you’re looking specifically to pre-order A Heart of Salt & Silver, you can do so here:

mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

And if you want to stay up to date on all my upcoming book releases, giveaways, and blog posts, you can subscribe to my newsletter on my website.

www.elexisbell.com

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Art Breeder for Character Development

Behind the Book: World for the Broken by Elexis Bell

Behind the Book: Petrified by Ben Meeks

Book Review: Blind Tiger by Rachel Vincent

The Making Of The Blurb for Ocean Heart

I enjoyed creating my blurb. It’s the little short enticing summary that goes on the back cover of a printed book.

Over the years I’ve tweaked it but now I’m self publishing it was important to get feedback from others.

This post is going to share with you my original blurb through to the final version. I hope you find the feedback useful for writing any blurb.

ORIGINAL

Tag line:  

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to “It’s complicated!”

Blurb:

One kiss is all it took to wake Mariah’s weather manipulation powers.

Mariah is crushing on her best friend, rivalling with the swim team star and her guardian Gwyn is meddling in her life using magic.  Mariah is about to discover she’s a mermaid with dangerous powers. 

When your love life’s a mess and your deadly powers are connected to your emotions, it gives a new meaning to “It’s complicated.”

ELEXIS VERSION 

The first offer help was author Elexis Bell. She has published several novels, and various genres.

Okiedoke. If it’s at the end, I might leave mermaid out of the blurb. But that’s just me. Also, I love the play on words with being a mermaid bringing new depth to it’s complicated. I only dropped it from the blurb because it’s already going to be on the front of the book.

Here’s what I came up with. If you don’t like it (or only like parts of it), no worries. 😊

Blurb:

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Especially with her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

When a single kiss reveals Mariah’s true form, she learns that mixing a messy love life with deadly powers fuelled by emotion might be more than she bargained for.

AMENDED VERSION 1

Blurb:  

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Especially with her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers might be more than she bargained for.

OR

Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers is an imminent disaster waiting to happen.  

OR

Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers is just the start of a brewing storm of trouble.  

Then I received feedback from Marketing Genius Michelle Raab, and Romantic Suspense author Cassidy Reyne, and Editor and Epic Fantasy author Kara S Weaver.

MICHELLE’S SUGGESTIONS

More than she could have imagined … ?

CASSIDY SUGGESTIONS 

…can cause/create/whip up a storm of trouble?

KARA’S SUGGESTIONS 

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team’s star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple. Throw her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets in the mix, ordinary comes close, but all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later and it is then Mariah discovers she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers is just the start of a brewing storm. Will Mariah be able to contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

AMENDED VERSION

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.

Blurb: 

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Especially with her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Will Mariah be able to contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

KARA FEEDBACK 

There’s a lot of will going on in the last sentence….

Can Mariah contain it, or will she be… that might help some

AMENDED VERSION

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.

Blurb: 

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Especially with her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

Then Contemporary Fantasy author J D Groom offered some suggestions…

JODIE’S COMMENT

I like it! I’m not sure about the middle paragraph though 🤔

Something about starting with ‘especially’ doesn’t sit right.

Maybe something like, ‘Added to that her guardian, Gwyn, is using magic to keep secrets…’ etc

AMENDED VERSION

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.

Blurb: 

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Added to that, her guardian, Gwyn is using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

Then, I noticed during the edits I’d lost a speech mark. I was also running every edit past my hubby and his best mate Dale to get their feedback too. It was done & I sent it to my cover designer…

Except, my Cover Designer (Original Book Cover Designs) had feedback for me too. I was not done.

She had a whole formula to share with me and examples of where it had been done well to illustrate what she meant. She really had gone above and beyond what I’d commissioned her for. But, it’s too long for this post & I didn’t seek her permission to share her secrets. But, it meant more editing…


AMENDED VERSION 

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.’

Blurb: 

Mariah is a regular highschool teen, or that’s what she thinks.  With a crush on her best friend, and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Added to that, her guardian is using magic to keep Mariah safe from a probable future of reapers coming for a soul, or merblood being spilt by a vengeful werewolf. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

A gripping story about a mermaid, first love, and self acceptance. Join Mariah as she awakens!

As it had been edited I sought more feedback. Cassidy, Kara and Richenda were able to give me pointers.

AMENDED VERSION 2 

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.’

Blurb: 

Highschool teen Mariah’s life is anything but simple.  With a crush on her best friend, and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, her powers awaken early.  

Mariah’s guardian meddles in her life with magic attempting to keep her safe from the soul reapers, and a werewolf hunting merblood.  But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later. Mariah is about to discover she’s a mermaid! 

Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

An exciting coming of age story about a mermaid and romance that literally sparks.  

FEEDBACK FROM KARA

Blurb: 

Highschool teen Mariah’s life is anything but simple.  Between a crush on her best friend, and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, her powers awaken early.  

Mariah’s guardian meddles in her life with magic attempting to keep her safe from the soul reapers, and a werewolf hunting merblood. (This is an odd sentence. You kinda want a ‘When a…. , she …’ structure to build up tension. Like: When Mariah’s guardian meddles in her life with magic to keep her safe from the soul reapers and a merblood hunting werewolf, she learns there’s more to this world he is not willing to share). But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later (, and she’s about to discovers hers!). Mariah is about to discover she’s a mermaid! 

Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

A gripping story about a mermaid, self acceptance, and romance that literally sparks.

Hi Allison,

Sorry, I had a look at your blurb and I thought it could use a bit of tightening to amp up the tension in the text. Sorry if I’m too forward, I just want to help.

Kara also spotted during the edits that an apostrophe had been lost.

FINAL VERSION:  

I thought I was finally done and sent it off to my cover designer again. Then, I spotted that ‘high school’ didn’t have a space. 😂

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Behind the Character: Mariah

Swoon Reads

Why you need a developmental editor!

http://allyaldridge.com/books/ocean-heart/

Behind the Book: Agent: Undone by Cassidy Reyne

What genre is Agent Undone and can you name any similar books?

Agent: Undone is a dark romance/romantic suspense novel with very adult themes. Books similar to this one would be the McIntyre Security Bodyguard Series by April Wilson, The Salvation Series by Corinne Michaels and The Broken Trilogy by J. L. Drake. They all have protective, slightly growly men and strong, independent women as their main characters.

The novel has two main characters, Carter & Maddison. Can you briefly introduce them?

Carter Hollis is a DEA Agent who has been forced to take medical leave after being shot in the leg during a mission. After his girlfriend and colleague died in his arms during an op, he couldn’t face being in a relationship again, so he became a ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ kind of guy. He’s always upfront about his intentions with every woman he meets and tries to not leave a string of broken hearts in his wake. He needs to focus on his work and doesn’t need a woman in his life for anything more than a bit of fun between the sheets whenever he’s off duty.


Madison Wells is living a quiet life in Florida, working from her little rented beach cottage and not allowing anyone close enough to see the deep cracks in her soul. She carries her secrets underneath a new identity and hides her fears of her past catching up with her behind an enigmatic smile and a well constructed armour. She doesn’t have friends, only people she says hello to in the tiny village nearby. Her days are spent on early morning runs on the beach, working on her writing and jumping at shadows.

Maddison has an ex from hell that she’s lucky to be free from. Not many people talk about trafficking and domestic abuse. Was it challenging writing about a such a difficult topic?

Trafficking and abuse are some of the worst crimes in our society, and they need to be brought out and examined in the cold light of day. In so many abusive situations, the victim is made to feel they are to blame for what is happening to them. They are stripped of their confidence, isolated from any outside support and made to depend on their abuser for everything. It’s incredibly hard for them to break free and escape their situation, and once they do the support available is often short term and run on shoestring budgets. I did a lot of research into domestic abuse and I was horrified when reading the women’s (and a couple of men) stories as they described their journey from being outgoing, confident, and in love, to an unrecognisable shell of their former selves. It’s a long, slow transformation that happens so gradually they don’t realise it before it’s too late. As much as I wanted to bring the subject into the book, I was also very wary of either trivialising or sensationalising it as it would be insulting to anyone who has ever suffered from abuse. The sex trafficking part was also emotionally hard to research and very complex, which is why I didn’t go into too many details and kept it to a more general description. We all know it happens and we all want it to stop, but as long as there are people who think others are there to be used as a commodity, and people who want to buy that commodity, it will always be an incredibly difficult trade to put a stop to. My heart breaks for anyone who has been put through it and for the families who lose a loved one in such a way. Many victims are never found which leaves parents, siblings and friends without closure and always wondering if they are still out there somewhere.

Carter has lost Mira and now uses women for a good time rather than to develop a meaningful connection. How did you rap into those complex emotions when developing his character?

Carter was both fun and interesting to create. I tried to visualise how a person would react if they didn’t deal with their grief properly after losing someone the way Carter lost Mira, and instead protected themselves from the risk of having to go through it again by pretending they didn’t want or need a deeper connection with a partner. I think we would all want to shield ourselves from heartache if the one we loved passed away. Some of us would go through all the classical stages of grief and eventually come out the other side, battered and bruised, but still open to finding someone new if the opportunity arose. Others would finish the grieving process but not feel the need for that kind of relationship again, and some would yearn for the love but be too afraid to have their heart broken again. The process of grief and loss is very individual and everyone tries to cope the best way they know how. Carter wants to fall in love and have that special someone in his life, but has convinced himself he’s not capable of it and only needs sexual gratification whenever his body demands it. I wanted him to come across as the stereotypical male who only wants one thing from women, while at the same time give glimpses into the fear and longing inside his heart. I promise, he’s not as bad as you might think when you first meet him.

You seem to have a style of writing novels with a dual perspective, one male, one female? Can we look forward to more of this?

I like writing from a dual perspective as I feel the reader gets a more three-dimensional insight into the characters. It allows me to develop the story from different levels and emotional angles, and the reader gets to know things about the characters they don’t know yet themselves. It lets the reader in on the secrets and builds a connection between them and the characters. It’s something I personally enjoy in the books I read and it’s a little like getting two stories woven into one whole.

The setting sounds beautiful. Have you been there or did you do a lot of research?

The story is set in the Florida panhandle and in Seattle, but I haven’t been to either of them so a lot of research was necessary. I’m on very friendly terms with Google Earth, Maps and Streetview. They are an absolute godsend for seeing how places look from lots of different angles. It’s also great fun to find new and interesting places to learn about and try to visualise as if you’ve actually been there. Quite often, I draw from memories of my own travels to try to create a picture of the sights, sounds and smells of the place I want to describe. After all, a sunny beach in Australia or Mexico is not going to be too different from one in Florida. Seattle was slightly more difficult, but as I didn’t need the characters to move around much, it wasn’t too hard to just get a feel for the city using the internet. The weather is also not too dissimilar to that here in the UK or even in Sweden where I grew up, so adding a lot of rain and grey skies was easy.

Please share a short snippet or teaser from Agent Undone?

“Before I forget, I might not make it for our run tomorrow morning.” Carter said with an embarrassed wince.
“Oh?” The tiny sound popped free from her mouth. “Are you going somewhere?”
“No, I’m not. My friend, Nathan, the guy who owns the beach house, is coming down today, and we’re going for a couple of drinks tonight at the bar.”
“And you might be too hungover tomorrow to go running? I get it. I suppose there might be a girl or two involved in that scenario as well?” Madison teased him, but he noticed a strained undertone in her words. It warmed his belly and made his chest feel light.
“Nope, no girls. Not for me, anyway. As soon as my leg has healed up, I’ll be on my way back to Virginia and my job. I don’t want to get tangled up with a woman that I must extricate myself from. Too many complications.” Damn, he was so lying to her — and himself. He just didn’t want her to think he was hooking up with other women while he was seeing her. Wait. Hold up. He was not seeing Madison. They were running buddies. Friends. Acquaintances. That’s all.
Carter tried to silence the annoying little voice in his head that was whispering the word liar very loudly.
“Well, if you need a hangover cure in the morning, give me a call and I’ll whip one up for you. I’ll even make one for your friend.” She snickered.
“If you have a hangover cure that actually works, Nate will worship you forever. He will also badger you for the recipe until you relent and give him what he wants. He’ll probably offer marriage and babies in return. You’ve been warned.” A deep laugh rumbled in Carter’s chest.
“No way, I’m not giving anyone that recipe, and for your information it does work. Or, at least it did on—“ Madison stopped abruptly and her lips pressed into a thin line. Carter knew that look.

Where can we find out more and buy your books?

There’s more information on Agent: Undone, including a video trailer made by the amazing J. D. Groom, and my other two books, on my website: cassidyreyne.comYou can purchase the books from Amazon and they are also available in Kindle Unlimited.

[kofi]

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If you are an Indie, you need to know this…

Behind the Book: Out of my League by Sarah Sutton

Thank you for agreeing to a Behind the Book interview about your novel Out Of My League. I was so lucky to be one of you ARC readers and became a fan.

Blurb: Out Of My League

Out Of My League is the second book you published. Was it easier launching book two?

Yes and no. I wasn’t as nervous for this book (though I was still pretty anxious about it!) mostly because the process wasn’t so unknown anymore. However, there were a few glitches with this book in the publication process that were difficult to figure out. It was a give and take, for sure!

This romance is a ‘pretend boyfriend’ romance. Have you ever fake dated?

I haven’t, which is probably a good thing! I most likely would’ve ruined the fake relationship on day one.

Out Of My League is centred around a highschool baseball team. Were you into sports at highschool?

Ooh, not at all. I’m the stereotypical character who always manages to get hit in the face by a basketball or something. Sports and I did not click, but that did open so much more time to work on my writing!

I love your YouTube channel. For my readers can you share a little what it’s about?

Thank you! I started a YouTube channel back in April, and I’m sharing all of the things I learned about the self-publishing process and my experiences with it, as well as talking about writing. With Camp NaNoWriMo coming up, my writing vlogs are coming back, and I’m so excited!

Have you got any tips for budding Author Tubers or Book Tubers?

Make the content that you love. Numbers may not grow fast at first, but if you’re loving the content you’re making, that’s all that matters.

I’m guessing you are a romance fan. What’s you favourite romance novel?

Ooh, this is a hard one! I really, really loved Kasie West’s The Fill-In Boyfriend, which, funnily enough, is another fake relationship romance! P.S. I Like You, also by Kasie, was also very sweet!

Please share a snippet of your story, Out Of My League?

Walsh stood on the other side of the door with his blond eyebrows high up on his forehead. “Nice to see you, too?”
“What are you doing here?” I was ten kinds of disoriented, staring at his figure standing against the fading sky. Did I conjure him from my thoughts? “Why aren’t you at the bay? Aren’t the fireworks starting soon?”
“I didn’t go,” he told me, slipping his hands into the pockets of his shorts.
“What? What do you mean you didn’t go? Where have you been for the past few hours, then?”
Walsh reached a hand out to me, palm up. “I can show you.”
As enticing as his words were, I hesitated, glancing at the picture on the wall as if somehow my parents could see me through it. “I can’t leave the house.”
“Your house,” he said, eyes vivid with energy, “or your yard?”
Uh. “What?”
Walsh grabbed my hand and led me out onto my front porch, then down the two steps. “Close your eyes,” he commanded, his other hand coming around to my other shoulder to guide me. “I promise I won’t let you trip over anything.”
“Walsh—”
“Shh. Just say ‘yes, Walsh’ and close your eyes.”
I gritted my teeth but relented, swaying as my vision filled with black. “I hate surprises.”
Walsh pressed firmer against my side, his chest touching my shoulder, a smile in his voice. “I think you’ll like this one.”
Grass crunched beneath my bare toes as he moved me along, but I remained a good sport and kept my eyes sealed. Though it was silly, my heart started to beat faster, the anticipation making me nervous. His hands that curved over my shoulders were gentle, the pressure steady, his body close enough behind me that I could practically feel his proximity.
“Relax,” Walsh said, guiding me to a halt. “Your shoulders are so tense. I’m not about to kill you and stuff you in my trunk.”
“Your trunk’s huge. You seriously think you’d have to stuff me into it?”
Walsh was close enough that I could feel him chuckle.
“Can I open my eyes now?”
Walsh hesitated for a moment before he let go entirely. “Yes.”

Where can we go to discover more and buy Out Of My League?

Out of My League is available on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo books! I’ll leave a universal link for easy access to any platform! https://books2read.com/u/b55yOw

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this you’ll enjoy:

Book Review: Out of my League by Sarah Sutton

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Behind the Book: What Are Friends For? By Sarah Sutton

Thank you for agreeing to a Behind the Book interview about your novel What Are Friends For?

Blurb: What Are Friends For?

This is your first published novel but what’s the first story you remember writing?

If we want to go wayyyyy back, I remember that the first story that I ever wrote was a Gingerbread Man spin-off. We’d just finished the book in my first grade class, but I wanted to read more of the Gingerbread Man’s adventures, so I went home and wrote it!

Why did you decide to self publish?

I tried the querying route, but I quickly found that it wasn’t for me. I spent over a year going back and forth between one publishing company, editing my book, before they ultimately passed on the project. To say I was devastated would be an understatement! I didn’t want to wait any longer, so I decided that I would be self-publishing.

This novel is a Friends to Lovers Romance – I fell in love with my best friend and married him. Have you ever crushed on a friend?

Oh, I love that so much! And I actually haven’t, not anything major anyway. I absolutely love the idea, though—a friendship turning into something romantic is soooo adorable to me!

Can you name any books similar to yours?

Kasie West’s book On the Fence was really similar, and very adorable!

Tell me about a typical day in the life of author Sarah Sutton?

I’m such a homebody. Especially lately. Usually I’ll do professional related things in the morning—like finish some client work, manage the business side of things. I’ll take a nap about mid-day so I can stay up late and write my heart out! Sometimes I won’t go to bed until four in the morning, which makes for a rough wake-up the next day!

Do you have a book boyfriend crush – who is he?

Ooh, ever since I read Clockwork Angel, I have been so in love with William Herondale. Total babe!

Please share a snippet of your story, What Are Friends For?

Elijah was still picking at his fingernails, trying to scrub away the last speck of glitter. It was good that he wasn’t looking at me—he didn’t notice my staring. “You know, Sav agreed to do the double date thing. I texted Jer and he was thinking tomorrow could be a good day. We could all just come over and do some arts and crafts together.”
I was a bottle of mixed emotions; every time someone shook me, a new one surfaced. “This is news to me.”
“I thought Jeremy would’ve called you.”
A part of me really, really wanted to start gushing about Jeremy, but for the wrong reasons. But making Elijah jealous would be impossible. And my soul felt too weary to even try. “I’m sure he’ll mention it tomorrow.”
“Do I have to say again the part where we don’t keep secrets from each other?” Elijah asked, nudging his knee against mine underneath the table.
“We keep secrets,” I corrected him this time, laying my head against my folded arms. I could smell the cleaner Mom used on the wooden surface with my nose so close, and also the lingering smell of glue. “You have yours and I have mine and we don’t talk about them.”
Elijah didn’t answer, at least not right away. From the corner of my vision, through the little sliver open near the crook of my elbow, I saw him pull his chair closer to me. Our knees connected again, but this time he didn’t move his away, allowing it to rest against mine. I felt his fingers walk their way up my skin, a tickle of a touch, barely there.
“You can tell me your secrets if you want to,” he said quietly, his voice soothing and soft near my ear. “I’ll always want to keep them.”

Where can we go to discover more and buy What Are Friends For?

You can buy What Are Friends For? on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo—here’s a universal link to where all that can be found! https://books2read.com/u/mgGO1v

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

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Behind the Book: Wiccan Romance – Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

I enjoyed Nicola’s novel Amelia’s Story, the first book in her Wiccan Romance series. She kindly agreed to a Behind the Book interview about her novel, and here it is.


This is your first published novel but what’s the first story you remember writing? 

I remember writing a book during what I think was about year 9, so when I was around thirteenishthat had a couple of similar themes to Amelia’s Story but it wasn’t magical. It focused on relationships as they fascinate me, the way people become a couple, the obstacles they overcome and just how happy people become when they start dating someone they really like, the characters were a bit younger in that book so it had more of a school setting but, at least in the UK, that period at school from when you are fourteen to eighteen you change so much and it’s when you start to really think about your future so it’s such a fascinating time to write about.



Did you know you were writing a series from the start? 

Amelia’s Story was initially just supposed to be a short story that I used to write when I had a couple of spare hours during my A Levels and while at University. It was only when I went back to it when someone suggested I use writing to help me deal with my anxiety that it became a full length novel and then a series when I came up with ideas for the brothers and I just fell in love with all the characters.

What inspired this novel/series? 

The first bit of inspiration came from a Nora Robert’s book I was reading, it was a magic based book and I just really wanted to try my hand at writing one. Also it was during a snow week and I was supposed to be writing my history coursework but obviously decided to procrastinate. I picked up the story nearly eight years later as I still had the story running around in the back of my mind for years and I finished it nearly a decade later and I’m really proud of it.



Why did you chose to become an indie author? 

Between calls at work I would look at the best way to publish my novel, studying which publishing house would be most likely to publish it, however I spotted Amazon KDP and the more I learnt about it the more I decided it was a better option for me. I then spoke to a number of other indie authors and decided to give it a go.



Tell me about a typical day in the life of Nicola Hebron? 

Well, I have recently been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia so my days are pretty lazy as I need to keep as relaxed as possible to keep the pain at bay. Usually I write on and off throughout the day, usually twenty minutes at a time then I take a break and watch TV, at the minute I’m watching the Chicago franchise, which Dick Wolf executives produces and I’m a big fan of his shows. I also love reading, I always read in the bath and usually for about an hour at night.



Some of your main characters have elemental magic. Which elemental power would you most like to have? 

As far as elemental powers, I would most like to have the power to control air, although water would also be pretty cool. If I could have any power in the world, I would most like to fly or teleport so I could go wherever I want to.

Please share a snippet of Amelia’s Story? 

#1 

“Buster! Come here!”

“He’s over here, Aidan!” Ben called out.

“Ben didn’t expect you out here!” Aidan called out, as he followed his dog out of the bushes.

“Lia was walking the dogs, thought I would give her a hand.” Ben explained, as he shook his friend’s hand.

“Hi.” Lia mumbled, as she continued to pet Buster.

Lia stumbled backwards as Buster leant his full weight against her legs, causing Aidan to grab his dog’s collar, pulling him away from her. Smiling, Lia shifted so that she could focus on the dogs and look at Aidan without being obvious. He looked at ease, wearing a pair of faded jeans, black shirt and unzipped grey hoody. She had known Aidan for years and had a crush on him for nearly as long. Consequently, whenever he was around, which was a lot of the time as he was Ben’s closest friend, she turned into either a babbling idiot or a mute. Lia glanced down at the dogs when Aidan looked over at her and busied herself taking off Betty’s lead.

#2 

“So, what’s your plan Alice?” Aidan asked.

“That’s easy, Aidan. I’m going to get little Miss Princess goody two shoes to give up her powers by convincing her that the only way I’m going to release you is if she gives her powers to me.” Alice crowed. “And then, using both her powers and those that our family has managed to hold onto, I’m going to make you love me, leaving her with nothing.”


Where can we go to discover more and buy Amelia’s story

Amelia’s Story is available at all major online booksellers, including Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmiths and Barnes and Noble. It is also available in ebook format, including Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Ibooks.

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

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Behind the Book: Mystical Greenwood by Andrew McDowell

What inspired you to write Mystical Greenwood?

I originally set out to write a horror story, but as I was writing it I realized the story elements were leaning towards fantasy, so I went with it. I didn’t initially intend for the overarching theme to be about Nature and its sacred value, but as I did research on magic and fantasy, I recognized my interest in natural magic and mythical creatures, which I think was rooted in a childhood passion for learning about wild animals.

Can you name any similar books to Mystical Greenwood?

That is difficult for me to say. My research consisted mainly of reading books about myths, magic, and Nature-based spirituality rather than works of fiction. However one reviewer not long ago said fans of author Christopher Paolini would love Mystical Greenwood, so perhaps The Inheritance Cycle. It’s also a story of a fellowship travelling together, so you could say it’s similar to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (interestingly, early drafts had many other magical creatures, including elves and dwarves, but they were dropped as it was getting too crowded).

How long did the book take to write from the first idea to publishing?

Oh, it took many years on and off. School was the main reason why I kept taking breaks, as I had to focus on my assignments, and also later on, job hunting. It took many years of writing and rewriting, as well as getting feedback from beta readers as well as through critique groups.

How many books do you anticipate in the series and is the whole series plotted out?

I’m planning for the One with Nature series to be a trilogy. I wouldn’t say it’s entirely planned out. With the second book right now I have an idea for how I want it to end (I need to figure out how to get there), but it won’t be the end of the story, so that’s what the third book will be for.

Can you share tips from your world building process?

I find the key thing to remember when building worlds is to make sure it feels real to the reader, no matter what genre you are reading. Any one of the little factors that go into world building can be a “tumbling block” if it feels too out of place. Stories with contemporary and historical settings (even fictional historical settings) can begin with research into what life is/was like. With science fiction it’s often a good idea to look at modern science and see where it could potentially go (or historical if you set it in the past). In fantasy settings, perhaps ask first what historical periods are similar and blend them with research into mythology and fantasy. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, it’s best not to overcrowd it, so the reader isn’t too overwhelmed.

To read a blog post I did years ago on world building, click here.

Which mythical or magical animal do you wish was real?

That’s a tough question, but ultimately I don’t think I would wish for any of them to be real. Several could pose a real danger to humanity, and even if they didn’t, all could face the possibility of being hunted down and/or exploited. Besides, they would lose their mystique I think, even those that are the subject of cryptozoology. Where would we be without myths and magic, and imagination? Some things are best left undiscovered, and some in the realm of magic and myth.

What project are you currently working on?

Right now the project I’m concentrating most on is the sequel to Mystical Greenwood. I’m hoping to raise the stakes of the conflict, focus more on aquatic life after having my characters spend quality time in forests, as well as introduce a plot element that the first book lacked: romance.

Where can we find out more and buy Mystical Greenwood?

Mystical Greenwood is available in Paperback, Kindle, and Nook. It can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Goodreads. The cover art is also available at Deviant Art. It’s also available in the British bookstore chains Foyles and Waterstones.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

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