Wednesday, August 26, 2015

CHECK IT OUT: Sarah Elle Emm, New Release NACREOUS

Sarah Elle Emm has just released NACREOUS, the fourth book in her young-adult, dystopian Harmony Run Series.


After two members of The Freedom Front are arrested and interrogated by the UZTA’s tyrannical President Nicks, Rain Hawkins and her friends face the alarming reality that their plans to liberate the mixed zones across the United Zones of The Authority might not come to fruition.

While the resistance movement is growing outside the walls of the zones, the president’s forces are strengthening and putting citizens everywhere in more peril than ever. When Rain receives warnings that her cousin, Calista, has agreed to support plans to kill the mixed zones, and that her life could be on the line at the upcoming pure zone initiation ceremony, she must decide where her loyalties lie and if all of her allies can be trusted.

As The Freedom Front use their abilities to unravel the mystery of the ceremony, The Authority captures some of their friends, forcing TFF to either go into hiding, or plan a rescue mission that could jeopardize everything they’ve been fighting for.

About Sarah Elle Emm

Sarah Elle Emm is the author of the Harmony Run Series, a young-adult fantasy and dystopian series, released in May 2012 by Winter Goose Publishing. (PRISMATIC, May 2012, OPALESCENT, February 2013, CHATOYANT, September 2014, NACREOUS, August 2015) Her debut fiction novel, MARRYING MISSY, was published by Bird Brain Publishing in October 2011. Sarah is a graduate of The University of Evansville, she has lived and worked in Mexico, Germany, England, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and has traveled extensively beyond. Sarah lives in Naples, Florida with her family. When she’s not walking the plank of her daughters’ imaginary pirate ship or snapping photos of Southwest Florida scenery, she is writing.

Fun Facts about Sarah Elle Emm by the author

Writing Playlist

So…Music. Some authors swear by it. They have their playlist set in the background while they pen their latest manuscript.

Me? Not exactly. Music is very important to me. I believe in dance parties, and by dance parties I mean cranking up my I-pod to the music fitting my mood, be this salsa, classic rock, blues, country, classical, whatever, and dancing alone in my room or kitchen. (Yes, I said classical and country in the same list).

My kids may or may not be in attendance. They like to watch and laugh. Sometimes, they join in. But as far as my writing process goes, the music is sort of my warm up. So I might turn on some music that fits my mood for parts of the story and listen to it in my car or at my desk before I write, but not while I am actually writing. I need it to be quiet in the room, so I can tell the story…(Ahem, hear what my characters are trying to tell me). ;)

While I wrote NACREOUS, and the other books in the Harmony Run Series, my favorite music warm-up to set the mood was Lorde. Specifically, the songs Team and A World Alone. In fact, if any of the books from my series could be made for film, I would beg producers to include one of those songs in the movies.

My Writing Process

I can’t sit down and force myself to write every day because it begins to feel too mechanical, but I am definitely one of those people who thinks about writing, story ideas, characters, scenarios all of the time, awake or asleep.

I love using my dreams in my writing and have written a few of them into scenes in the Harmony Run Series. Back in college, the good ol’ stone ages, I had one of the most terrifying dreams of my life about a man with a triangular-shaped eye chasing me down a corridor, one door after the other, with this woman’s voice echoing all around us, telling him to kill me. When I got to the end of the corridor, I opened the last door, and he was standing there facing me. I woke up sobbing.

About a year later, a psychology professor at my university asked some of us to share dreams with him so he could demonstrate dream analysis. I bravely raised my hand, (this was huge for me, since I am a very shy in person), and shared my dream in vivid detail. After I finished talking, the entire class got eerily quiet and the professor told me I was dealing with issues beyond his realm of help, and went on to the next student’s dream. That student shared a dream about not being able to make a goal in a soccer match, and the professor dissected his dream in depth for fifteen minutes.

Years later, I incorporated that dream, adding on some twists and turns of course, into book one from the Harmony Run Series, PRISMATIC.

I also come up with ideas when I’m looking out of the kitchen window, when I’m walking, driving, cooking, gardening, taking my kids to martial arts, helping with their homework, basically, every waking moment. I take heaps of notes. I jot notes down for days. And when I’m ready, I sit down and type everything I can. I woke up the other night, and grabbed the notebook and pen beside my bed and wrote down an idea for another story. So my writing process is sort of a twenty-four hour thing. 

Oh, and probably the most important part of the process…How could I forget? My dog, Shorty, has to harass me to sit in my lap throughout the day. She eventually gives up and sleeps at my feet or
nearby. She spares me the occasional glance or sighs every so often when I talk too much. Yes, I like to talk aloud to myself more often than not. If that dog could talk…Well, thankfully that’s not an issue. Here’s a photo of my writing pal…

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Traci L. Slatton, Author

Traci L. Slatton, Author
Book 4 After Life Series
International best-selling author Traci L. Slatton has just released BLOOD SKY, the 4th book in her dystopian After Series that combines the apocalyptic with a poker game played in the American West to save the world. And there’s romance. She claims her characters led her there! Reviewers of her previous books praise her characters as “Believable, energetic, interesting characters who make very human choices facing inhumane foes and unbelievable circumstances.” Indeed, Slatton informs us that “facing our choices is part of maturation.”

Slatton, who lives in New York with her artist husband, spends most of her time writing. She is also growing her independent press, Parvati Press. She provided a previous interview for this blog when she released BROKEN, a paranormal historical fantasy.

Q: You have merged several genres into your new novel, BLOOD SKY, including, Dystopian/apocalyptic/American Western/Romance. How did you conceive of the story? Did you start with the concept of the world coming to an end and then look for intriguing ways to keep that from happening?

Traci L. Slatton: Joyce, good question and good eye, I did merge those genres. The whole series started with a scene that flashed into my mind a few years ago. It was a man and a woman, very much in love, walking away from each other. Behind them stretched a desolate world. From that initial scene came the whole edifice of the series…. I’m not sure I intended to merge the different genres, it just happened as the story unfolded and I stayed true to it.

Q: What inspired you to use a poker game as a means to win or lose all? Do you play poker? Did you have to research the game?

Traci L. Slatton: I grew up playing poker at the kitchen table with my mother, grandmother, sister, and various assorted friends and beaux. Poker was a time for us to connect and also a time for storytelling. My mother and grandmother were great raconteurs, and they usually had me in stitches over their tales.

Yes, I did have to do some research. My husband Sabin isn’t much for card games so I haven’t played in a while. I didn’t want to rely solely on my memory. Also, I played out the hands I wrote about.

Q: Reviewers of your previous books tout your characters. How do you make them engaging – especially in a dystopian world? Why do readers care what happens to them?

Traci L. Slatton: First, thank you for compliment! Second, for creating characters, I use two different methods. One is a character X system. This is a variation on something learned in David Freeman’s Beyond Structure screenwriting class.

A fully dimensional character needs 3-4 character traits to flesh him or her out. Fewer than that, the character feels flat; more than that, and it’s hard to get a handle on who the character is. So I draw out an X on a clean sheet of paper and I label each of the end-points with a character trait. I try to make sure that at least one of the traits isn’t too noble—I think it’s hard to relate to a character who’s too perfect. For example, Arthur’s basic four traits are: Charismatic, Intellectually Brilliant, Athletic, and Jealous. There are nuances, of course. But I always have the character X on hand when I work. It helps me keep the character coherent.

There’s another technique that I also use. I studied astrology for a long time, and I draw out charts for my characters. Sometimes the charts are just partial horoscopes, but they speak to me in rich symbolic form. For example, Arthur has Sagittarius rising and a Leo sun, Venus in Virgo. Emma has Virgo rising—the classic healer—and moon in Leo. Her moon interlocks with Arthur’s sun, and Arthur’s Venus in Virgo shows his appreciation of her.

Luca Bastardo, the protagonist of my historical novel IMMORTAL, had a hell of a tight Pluto-Venus square.

Those astrological signatures communicate to me in rapid shorthand and help me with character development.

Q: What do fans of dystopian fiction expect to read in a dystopian novel?

Traci L. Slatton: They expect to enter a speculative world that intrigues them and enlarges their consciousness, that shows a possibility under certain conditions. They expect the protagonists to meet extreme challenge and hardship, thus revealing their intrinsic character.

Q: How helpful is setting (Old West?) to tell your story? Does it add to the suspense, romance, or character development?

Traci L. Slatton: Well, the Old West just crept itself in, unbidden. I work in two ways in writing a novel: 1, from an outline, and 2, from wild inspiration. I usually start a novel in a burst of oceanic creativity, from a scene or a character who emerged from my unconscious. But sometime during the first chapter I’ll write an outline to structure the story. There is craft involved, you know?

But I also allow and cultivate the oceanic, protean nature of creativity, which means that themes and motifs and characters crop up and I don’t know why but I allow them to emerge and then I pursue them. It’s a process of trust and discovery, and it’s part of the fun of writing a novel.

So that’s how Outpost City and the Old West came into my dystopian tale. I think it adds resonance and richness….

Q: I know that you write to entertain, but in previous books you’ve also had a message or two that you wanted to deliver. Is that true for BLOOD SKY? Did you have something you wanted readers to think about?

Traci L. Slatton: There are some ideas that matter to me. For one, we have greater abilities than the concrete senses that Newtonian science acknowledges, and I try to share that with readers. Also, BLOOD SKY turns around Emma’s choices. She has to come to understand that she is making a choice at every turn. I think facing our choices is part of maturation.

Q: Does humor help to tell your story or develop your characters?

Traci L. Slatton: There tends to be humor in my stories, and my characters tend to have humor. Some of my characters can be humorless if that’s who they are—I am true to my characters. Arthur’s a bit humorless, I find. But he’s so hot, does it matter?

Q: What’s next?  Will you leave the dystopian world?

Traci L. Slatton: I write the After Series novels between stand alone works.

Having finished BLOOD SKY, I’m currently working on a novel called THE YEAR OF LOVING. It was entitled THE YEAR OF LOVING A YOUNGER MAN, but then the protagonist went and got herself involved in a love triangle with a younger man AND an older man, and her best friend has cancer, so I realized it was THE YEAR OF LOVING. I’m also researching the siege of Montsegur and the Cathars for a historical novel.

Q: What have you been doing since you last visited here almost a year ago? Anything fun?

Traci L. Slatton: Writing, writing, writing! And growing my independent press, Parvati Press.

About Traci L. Slatton

Traci L. Slatton is the international bestselling author of historical, paranormal, and romantic novels, including IMMORTAL (BantamDell) and BROKEN; the award-winning dystopian After Series which includes FALLEN, COLD LIGHT, FAR SHORE, and BLOOD SKY; the bittersweet romantic comedy THE LOVE OF MY (OTHER) LIFE; and the vampire art history romp THE BOTTICELLI AFFAIR. She has also published the lyrical poetry collection DANCING IN THE TABERNACLE and THE ART OF LIFE, a photo-essay about figurative sculpture through the ages. Her book PIERCING TIME & SPACE explores the meeting ground of science and spirituality.


In a time of apocalyptic despair, love is put to the test… Deep in the badlands of Outpost City, in the Dark Horse saloon, a poker game is being played. The stakes are life and death—for the world. What can Emma afford to lose? Will she gamble on herself, or on Arthur? Will love find a way when the apocalypse closes in? A mystical odyssey, a haunting love…

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BLOOD SKY Trailer:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Sherel Ott, Author

Sherel Ott, Author
Sherel Ott wrote ADVENTURES OF PRINCESS JANAI AND THE WARRIOR MAIDENS OF QUINU: THE CITIES OF TONGA AND TONGIA primarily to entertain middle grade girls. She also noticed that there were few books or animated movies with girls of color as leading characters. She chose fantasy as the genre to best tell her story because she likes being able to “step outside of your reality.”

When she’s not writing, Sherel is a Family Nurse Practitioner. She is also taking drawing lessons and cake decorating classes, loves reading , and enjoys crocheting. She is currently working on the next Princess Janai story.

Don't miss the excerpt and the opportunity for a giveaway at the end of the interview.

Q: Why did you choose Fantasy/adventure as the genre to tell your story, ADVENTURES OF PRINCESS JANAI AND THE WARRIOR MAIDENS OF QUINU: THE CITIES OF TONGA AND TONGIA?

Sherel Ott: I chose fantasy/adventure as a genre because I like how you can step outside of your reality into a whole other world.  Being able to immerse yourself in it and forget about your present reality and problems for a while.

Q: What or who inspired your main character, Princess Janai? Did you base her on a real person?

Sherel Ott: My main character was named after my niece Janai. It was originally written with her in mind, but once I started writing…the character took on a life of her own, she wanted to be different.

Q: How do you write to reach your target age group, which I understand to be middle grade girls? Do you use different dialogue techniques, backstory that will appeal to this age group, or characters of their age? Other?

Sherel Ott: I’m a big kid at heart, and I remember some of the things I went through as a tween.  I listen to some of the stories that children talk about today and the issues that they face.  I then put myself in those shoes and try to see things from their point of view. I do try to give a little back story so that people will/can understand where a certain character is coming from. Having the characters in that age group also makes it more relatable for the readers, they are more apt to identify with someone of their own age.

Q: Did you write ADVENTURES OF PRINCESS JANAI to entertain only or did you include themes to help educate or guide?

Sherel Ott: In the beginning, it was mostly to entertain. That is mostly what the first book is, but the follow up books will be both entertaining as well have an education/lesson imbedded in there.

Q: Do you use setting to help tell your story and/or advance your theme? If so, how?

Sherel Ott: The setting is more of a backdrop for the stories.  They do help advance the story along in places but they are not the main focus.  I want to provide an all around experience for the reader as much as possible.  Give enough details but allow their own minds to fill it in.

Q: Why are your characters “relatable”? Does humor help you develop your characters? Why will your readers care about them?

Sherel Ott: I try to make them as human as possible, with feelings and emotions that we all go through.  I think giving them those emotions and feelings helps the readers to like or dislike them making them relatable to either themselves or someone they know.  Then, they will either cheer for them or hope they get their come-uppance for their bad deeds.  Not always will they though…that would end the story too soon.

Q: Is the concept of heroes vs villains important to tell your story?

Sherel Ott: Actually, no.  I try to make it more the situation that creates the villain or bad person.  In some instances who you think is bad might actually be a good person, just misguided in what they do and believe and vice versa.  The main antagonist in the series will be Serlina, but as the stories progress, you will find a more human side to her.  It might not justify what she is doing but you will understand more from her point of view.

Q: What do you believe are the most important elements of a story to reach the middle age group of readers?  

Sherel Ott: I believe that if you have something exciting going on that they would really like to do themselves and add a little danger, a lot of colorful characters and believable situations (whether it is make-believe or real) it will garner their attention.  If the story and details of the surroundings are enticing, you just might have their attention.  The middle age group vary in their level of imagination and maturity.  You want to try to appeal to all levels without alienating anyone.

Q: What’s next?

Sherel Ott: In the next story, we find Princess Janai at the end of the mandatory training sessions and conflicts arising within her own group.  We find one of the supporting characters having to deal with her low self-esteem and self-confidence, and as she comes to terms with her issues of her weight and size; she finds a friend in someone else who is going through the same exact problem, but a little opposite.

Q: Tell us about Sherel Ott. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? 

Sherel Ott: When I’m not writing, I’m a Family Nurse Practitioner.  I love helping take care of people and I chose this particular path because I saw that a lot of the providers were becoming more and more specialized.  Being a family practice provider was becoming a dying art.  We have Pediatrician…Internalist…Cardiologist…Nephrologist…Gastroenterologist, but not a lot of general practitioners; people who can take care of you from as I was told… from lust to dust.  I’m also taking drawing lessons and cake decorating classes on and off.  Reading has always been a favorite pass time of mine as well as crocheting.

About Sherel Ott

An eclectic collector of animation movies, Sherel Ott is a writer of fantasy and romance stories. One day while watching an animated movie, she noticed that there weren’t a lot of movies or books with girls of color in leading roles…as heroines, adventurers or with strong moral characters and wondered… Where were the influential leaders, doctors, lawyers or royalty of color? Why weren’t there any strong black female characters where a girl of color could be proud of her skin color and the type of person representing and say … “I want to be like her!” Wanting something more for her own nieces to look up to and strive to emulate, other than what girls of color were currently being portrayed as or should settle for is how her book initially took form. She wanted to show that there are black princesses, warriors, adventurers of all walks of life. That she should be and can be recognized for what she does and who her true self is, not be prejudged by what color her skin was.

As a fan of all fantasy, magical, mystical, celestial and other worldly creatures, Sherel began reading sci-fi/fantasy stories at a young age.

"I have always been a sci-fi and fantasy type of person. I always felt as a child that I belonged in those types of worlds rather than here. Reading them had always been my way of escaping from my shyness as a child."-Sherel Ott. She had started collecting fairies of all types and now has a mini collection of collectible faery ornament to decorate her Christmas tree every year.

Sherel creates her stories first by writing them out and then typing them on the computer. She feels she gets her inspiration greatest when she writes and from nature itself. She strives to present her stories in a way that anyone can relate and identify with no matter how old or young...with a little fun, a little action/adventure, yet with a hidden message. Writing since the age of 14, her first published book -ADVENTURES OF PRINCESS JANAI AND THE WARRIOR MAIDENS OF QUINU: THE CITIESOF TONGA AND TONGIA - brings a story of strong African American females. It's an adventure series particularly geared towards girls, although boys will also find it an enjoyable read.

When Sherel is not writing, she is working as a full-time Family Nurse Practitioner and has been so for the past 17 years. She presently resides in Felton, DE.

All Janai wants is to be just like everyone else. Being the Princess and having to try out for the Warrior Maidens is just part of her problems. She has the present Warrior leader unhappy with the fact that she is trying out, because that means her time is almost up and she enjoys her “status” too much to give it up without a fight. Not to mention someone just froze two of her guards into living statues with the fabled Mist Flowers of Tonga. Now she and a small group of warriors must travel to a forbidden city and obtain the antidote before the two guards are lost forever…all in 24 hours. Is she capable? Will she make it in time?


Once every year in the village of Quinu, the maidens of the village from age 16 to 18 are allowed to try out for a position as a Warrior Maiden and protector of the Quinu people.  The competition matches the maidens go through are very strenuous and demanding.  These matches last for two weeks each spring and very few maidens will make rank on their first attempt.  Those that do, are extremely talented and athletic.  

This spring year happened to be very different and special.  The whole village turned out to watch the competition, for a certain 12-year-old girl was to be involved in the competitions.  

           Now this was no ordinary 12 year old, for even though she was young, she already showed that she was going to be a beautiful woman. She has skin as smooth as a pebble in a running stream and the color of rich mahogany.  She has large almond shaped eyes the color of a new leaf in spring, long coltish legs and a torso that was just hinting at what she will look like in a few years.  

            Her hair and its ornaments distinguished her status.  The top of her head has three braids that arched out and upwards; then joined at the center of her head to form three arches (one in the front and one on each side of her head just above her ears to form a crown of sorts).  At the back of her head, her hair is pulled into a ponytail and hangs down to the center of her back in one long corkscrew braid. 

            And on her forehead just below the center arch, a circular ornament made of gold with an amethyst surrounded by four diamonds hangs.  The ornament is attached to a gold thread, which is woven in and out of her hair.  This ornament is worn mostly on ceremonial occasions.  Normally, she wears a diamond shaped amethyst stone also attached to a gold wire/thread which is weaved in and out of her hair.  

             This hairstyle and decorations distinguishes the Princesses of Quinu.

Now Princess Janai has made it through the first week of tryouts and out maneuvered all her opponents.  The second week proved to be more demanding and competitive as the participants were narrowed down to only twenty entrants.  

Serlina usually did not participate in these competitions, but Princess Janai was making fools out of her Warriors.  She has not lost one match in the last week and a half since competition started.  Serlina decided that she would be the Princess’s opponent for the last three of her matches, just to see if she was really that good or if the warriors were just afraid to harm her. Her Warrior Maidens were afraid of no one, but were aware that their main objectives were to see that the Royal Family came to no harm.  

By the second to last day of competition, everyone forgot about the other entrants.  Everyone was interested only in Princess Janai and Serlina’s hand-to-hand combats.  The maidens who made it to the final combat were already considered to be part of the Warrior Maidens.  The announcement at the Ceremony of Feast was only a formality.  The competition between the Princess and the leader of the Warrior Maidensthough, was not only highly unusual, but an event not to be missed.

          “That impertinent brat!  How DARE she humiliate me in front of all those people,” roared Serlina.  “A twelve year old little nobody.  She will pay for this.”

          “But Mistress Serlina, she is the Princess,” Serlina’s second-in-command, Zara said.

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Twitter:  @SherelOttAuthor

1st Prize: $50 gift certificate and signed copy of About Adventures of Princess Janai and the Warrior Maidens of Quinu: The Cities of Tonga and Tongia
2nd Prize: $25 gift certificate and signed copy of About Adventures of Princess Janai and the Warrior Maidens of Quinu: The Cities of Tonga and Tongia
3rd Prize: $10 gift certificate and signed copy of About Adventures of Princess Janai and the Warrior Maidens of Quinu: The Cities of Tonga and Tongia

Giveaway on Facebook at

Monday, August 10, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Christine Amsden, SciFi/Fantasy Author

Christine Amsden, SciFi/Fantasy Author
Award-winning SciFi/fantasy author Christine Amsden brings us her newest novel, MADISON’S SONG, described as anadventurous paranormal romance.” Reviewers tout it as a “fast-pace, highly entertaining read with fully sympathetic and compelling characters.” Amsden, who has written and published more than a dozen novels, including the Cassie Scot, paranormal detective series, says that above all she writes stories “about people” and claims that “Great characters come from the heart.”

Amsden, who likes to spin off characters to tell new stories, has many ideas for her next novel, but has not yet decided what it should be. A free-lance editor, she currently lives in Kansas City with her husband and two children. When she’s not writing, she likes to read and watch TV – especially science fiction shows.

Q: Your newest book, MADISON’S SONG, crosses several genres, including romance and paranormal. How/why did werewolves appeal to you as a way to tell a story about romance? Or do you use romance to tell a story about werewolves?

Christine Amsden: I definitely used werewolves to tell a story about romance! :)

I'm a character girl. First and foremost, setting aside all genres that I can and have brushed against, I tell stories about people. Fantasy is fun and magical; I love it! But also, it puts ordinary people in extraordinary situations, giving us a chance to see who we are and who we can be when put to the test. And that's what I did to Madison – put her to the test. I forced her to face her greatest fear in order to save a brother she loves. Along the way, she falls in love with Scott, a werewolf who doesn't believe he's worthy of a woman like Madison.

Q: Your reviewers praise MADISON’S SONG and say it is a “fast-paced, highly entertaining read with fully sympathetic and compelling characters.” In a paranormal romance how do you make your characters sympathetic and compelling? Does the world-building enhance or detract from your characters?

Christine Amsden: Good world-building enhances the characters. It puts them to the test. It shows us what they're made of.

Great characters come from the heart. I put a piece of myself into each and every character I create. And Madison … well, when I first created her as a minor character in another series, she wasn't supposed to have her own book! So I made her a little too much like me. This became a challenge when she took the spotlight, along with all the little insecurities I have about myself – weight, shyness, men … I even chew my nails and my bottom lip the way she does!

But when I put Madison to the test, I also put myself to the test. What would I do if someone I loved were in danger? I hope I would become the lioness Madison becomes!

At any rate, the magical world Madison tackles head-on is in every way a test of character and a test of self.

As a counter-example: Bad world-building usually involves some magic gift or talent that makes life easier for the protagonist. I see this too often in paranormal mystery, in which a psychic uses a gift to solve a crime that couldn't otherwise have been solved by normal means. I've never enjoyed this type of story because it's too easy. Instead of the magic being a source of conflict, it's a deus ex machina – a gift from heaven that conveniently solves the problem.

Q: Did you do any research of werewolf lore to tell your story? Or did you create the backstory from your imagination?

Christine Amsden: Strangely enough, I did a research project on werewolves when I was in the sixth grade! I've read lots of shapeshifter books and stories since then, so that by the time I wrote this book there wasn't much left to do except decide which of the many versions of a werewolf to embrace. For me it went back to that sixth grade research project – I chose the man who becomes a monster at the full moon.

Q: Reviewers almost without exception appreciated the pace of MADISON’S SONG:  “action and thrills abound” “non-stop action” “intensely riveting” and my favorite “What I didn’t like about this book, was that it ended.” How did you develop such a page-turner? How important is suspense to telling your story?

Christine Amsden: “What I didn’t like about this book, was that it ended.”

:) :) :)

Yeah, I loved that one too!

Suspense is the glue that holds my stories together. When I develop a story, character is my most important consideration and it's where I start. World building comes next – a home for my characters. After that I look for something to propel the plot forward, something that will help me explore the characters and the world I put them in. That's suspense.

Before I can excite the reader, I have to excite myself. To get them to turn pages, I first need to get myself to write them! I have a short attention span and am easily bored. As a young reader, I used to skim past paragraphs that were too long, eager to get to the good parts! So as an author, I try to only write the good parts.

Q: What makes readers accept werewolves as part of a credible world? How do you make them believable? What leads to credibility in a paranormal story?

Christine Amsden: I own it. This is sort of my mantra – before I can sell it, I first have to believe it myself. I have to own it. When I write about magic, I make no apologies and take no prisoners.

Q: How helpful is humor to telling your story?

Christine Amsden: Comic relief is critical, especially in a book that goes dark like Madison's Song did. And in terms of romance I think that if there's too much darkness, it's hard for a reader to believe in the happily ever after. Love can't just be built on shared tragedy; it needs shared humor as well.

Q:  Did you write MADISON’S SONG strictly to entertain or did you also have a message you wanted to deliver?

Christine Amsden:


“Love yourself.”

“You never know how strong you are until you have no other choice.”

“Don't let fear rule your life.”

Or just have fun!

Q: Does the concept of hero vs villain apply to MADISON’S SONG? What are the characteristics of an effective villain? Do you need a villain to have a hero?

Christine Amsden: There are several villains in Madison's song – one major villain who has been a recurring character (but who stays behind the scenes in this book) and a couple of minor villains. Villains aren't absolutely necessary (a hero can overcome nature or fate or himself), but they're useful.

I like villains who aren't pure evil. I may be naive, but I don't believe that people set out to be evil, or that anyone, no matter how bad, believes himself to be evil. He has his reasons for what he does (no matter how poorly justified).

And now I feel like I'm getting ahead of myself, because all of this is actually a huge theme in my next book, Kaitlin's Tale, in which I take a villain from a previous book and turn him into a hero. :)

Q: What’s next? Will you spin off another character or write more about Madison?

Christine Amsden: Madison's story is over, though she may appear in future books. Once this situation is resolved, she would really prefer to teach music to children, and maybe have some of her own.

Kaitlin's Tale is next. Kaitlin is another friend of Cassie and Madison who grew too big for her original role in the Cassie Scot series. That book is finished and under contract – it will probably be out next summer.

As for what's next …. I don't know! That's as honest as I can be. I've come up with several ideas but none are calling to me strongly enough at the moment. I have ideas for completely new stories in completely new worlds, and I have ideas for more Cassie Scot stories (one involving Cassie herself, and several involving her brothers and sisters).

A few days ago I considered doing a reader poll asking what fans think I should write next. :)

Something will call to me soon, I'm sure. I only hope fans will be as enthusiastic as they have been about my Cassie Scot books.

Q: Tell us something about Christine Amsden. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Christine Amsden: I'm a freelance editor and a mom. I enjoy reading, especially fantasy and romance, and I enjoy watching TV, especially science fiction. I'm currently rewatching Sense8 in the background, my new favorite show.

About Christine Amsden

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

Her voice is enchanting; his soul is black…

Madison Carter has been terrified of Scott Lee since the night he saved her from an evil sorcerer – then melted into a man-eating monster before her eyes. The werewolf is a slave to the moon, but Madison’s nightmares are not.

Despite her fears, when Madison’s brother, Clinton, is bitten by a werewolf, she knows there is only one man who can help. A man who frightens her all the more because even in her nightmares, he also thrills her.

Together for the first time since that terrible night, Scott and Madison drive to Clinton’s home only to discover that he’s vanished. Frantic now, Madison must overcome her fears and uncover hidden strengths if she hopes to save him. And she’s not the only one fighting inner demons. Scott’s are literal, and they have him convinced that he will never deserve the woman he loves.

*Stand-alone companion to the Cassie Scot series




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