author of the week

Interview with Author Sharnel Williams

Today, I’m pleased to introduce Sharnel Williams. She has been featured on this blog in the past, but since her original interview, she has greatly expanded her list of accomplishments. Sharnel’s story has inspired many people and she is a role model to many women. I hope you will enjoy this interview.


Hi, Sharnel. Welcome back to Authors to Watch. Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

Born & raised in Newark, NJ, I’m a wife, mother, writer, radio host and entrepreneur.

I understand you are hosting a Women Empowerment Luncheon. How did you get the idea to host this event?

I knew it was time to tell my story. One day I posted on Facebook to be a part of someone’s Women Empowerment Conference. I receive a couple of inboxes and they were telling me to have my own. Then the rest was history.

What types of events do you have planned as part of this event?

It would be 10 motivational speakers including myself. This is my first, so I’m going to keep it simple. I’m still learning. Food-Entertainment-Raffle-Gift bags.


How do you think this event will help and empower women?

It will help in many ways. If one speaker can inspire one person, we have done our job.

Where can my readers go to learn more about the luncheon or to buy tickets?


What inspired you to begin your writing and publishing career?

It was different for me. My son passed away from leukemia 2 days after his 12th birthday. That’s when my writing started. Yes, I was a late bloomer.

Can you tell us about your published books?

I have several books published. I would love for everyone to support my work. You can go to my website and learn more about me and my books:

Can you tell us a little about your publishing company, Shar-Shey Publishing?

Yes. Let’s start with the name. Shar, come from Shakil my son and Sharnel. Shey, come from I had a stillborn fullterm in 1992 and I named her Varshey. I started my company because I wanted people who couldn’t afford them high price companies, to be able to get their stories out with an affordable company.

As an author, publisher, and speaker, how do you use your story to inspire others to achieve their dreams?

I look back at my life, never thought about writing a book. Never knew my son was going to pass away at an early age, from cancer. I inspire others by my accomplishments. Meaning, you are going to get Tested in life. You must follow your goals and keep walking straight. Things happen for a reason.

What’s next for you, Sharnel? Do you have any upcoming books, events, or projects to tell us about?

Yes. My son has a memorial park in Newark, NJ @ Branch Brook Park. Every year we have an event around August, it’s free to the public.  We give back to the kids.

I want to thank everyone who has supported me and continue supporting me. God is Good!

To learn more about Sharnel Williams, you can visit the following links:


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Author of the Week: Dave Riese

Cover for 'Echo from Mount Royal'

‘Echo from Mount Royal’

Our Author of the Week is Dave Riese. He’s here to speak with us about his novel, Echo from Mount Royal. Welcome, Dave. When did you begin writing?

I began writing at Bates College in Maine. While studying abroad at Oxford University in England during my junior year, I travelled throughout Europe during term breaks. For my B.A. thesis, I wrote stories, essays and poems based on my travel journals. Like many young writers, I was ‘bitten’ by the poetry bug in my twenties. I was cured, mercifully, within two years. Three poems were good enough to escape the shredder.

In my mid-twenties, I began writing short stories. An early story, submitted to the University of Massachusetts literary magazine, was not accepted, but the editor wrote a personal note praising the story and encouraging me to continue writing. I have always treasured that ‘rejection.’

While studying for my MBA at Suffolk University in Boston, I entered stories in the university’s annual short story contests and won a couple of cash prizes. Despite that success, I knew I had to keep my day job.

In my thirties, I began writing a novel off-and-on over several years. I finally finished the 400-page novel. It hides in a cardboard box under my desk.

What is your chosen genre?

I fell into the genre of my book. Before going to work, I’d often meet an elderly Jewish woman in the coffee shop downstairs from my office. We talked ‘books,’ sharing a similar taste in fiction. When she learned that I was a writer, she told me many stories about her experiences growing up in Montreal before and after WWII. Her story about her engagement as an 18-year-old girl astounded me. She invited me to ‘write it up,’ thinking it would make an interesting short story. Over the next ten months, I gave her chapters ‘Hot off the press” to read. When the 300-page manuscript was finished, she hefted the pages laughing, “This weighs more than a short story!” After a year and a half editing the book, it was finally finished In October 2014.

Montréal 1952  Rue Sainte-Catherine

Can you please tell us about your most recent release?

The novel takes place in the Montreal of 1951. Rebecca Wiseman, 18 years old, from a Catholic-Jewish family, briefly meets a handsome young man at a local dance. She has little hope of seeing him again. When Sol Gottesman tracks her down and asks her on a date, her joy mingles with disbelief: he is the son of a wealthy Westmount businessman.

Sol takes her in a chauffeured Rolls-Royce to the most expensive restaurant in the city and Rebecca enters a world of upper-class wealth and privilege. She believes her life is perfect.

She soon learns that despite Sol’s outward charm, he lacks self-confidence. On a visit to Mount Royal overlooking the city, Sol reveals the simmering conflicts in his family. When Rebecca tries to help him stand up to his family, she puts herself squarely in the midst of it all.

Class, religion, family conflict and sexual secrets test their love. And then, a late night telephone call changes her life forever.

In their reviews, readers respond to the independent and outspoken character of Rebecca who struggles to reach out for love and to support the man she loves; to the vivid descriptions of Montreal and its social norms in 1951; to the realistic depiction of family love and conflict; and to the unusual twists of the plot and the surprising revelation at the end of the novel.

Rebecca #1

What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

The most difficult challenge was capturing the attitudes, prejudices and social conventions of that era. Knowing someone who lived during those years was a precious advantage. Also, the Internet is an amazing resource. Here are some issues I encountered while writing the novel:

When Sol and Rebecca go to the cabin in the Laurentians, I originally had them driving on a highway that did not exist in 1952.

In early drafts, I wrote scenes in which people watch television. Canadian television did not exist until the first TV stations were built in Toronto and Montreal toward the end of 1952.

Using a specific consumer product usually required an Internet search. For example, I remembered the commercial for Ipana toothpaste from my childhood – a cartoon beaver singing “Brusha, brusha, brusha, get the new Ipana.” I confirmed on the web that Ipana toothpaste was sold in Canada in the early fifties.

Researching radio shows that Rebecca might have heard while looking at her bouquet of roses, I discovered that Princess Elizabeth came to Canada in October, 1951.

Contemporary newspaper descriptions supplied details about Ben’s Deluxe Deli – the décor, waiters’ uniforms, and the Wall of Fame.

The hardest work was striking the right tone regarding the attitudes of people in 1951 in areas of pre-marital sex, public displays of affection, parental control of daughters, and the revelations of child abuse. I hope I’ve resolved these complaints satisfactorily.

Burnt photograph

What projects are you currently working on?

My next project?

Authors are superstitious about discussing their next project. They may discover after six months of writing that the novel or memoir isn’t working and abandon it. Inevitably, when people learn you’re a writer, they’ll ask, “Who’s your agent?” and “When will it be published?” and “Is it about anyone I know?” Inevitably there’s a reference to Stephen King. The writer often underestimates the time required to finish the work (I needed an extra year), then feels compelled to justify why the book is taking so long to complete. These discussions can be depressing.

Nevertheless, I often ignore my own advice. My next book is about the last years in the lives of the main character’s parents when he faces the fact that they will not be with him much longer. Watching them fail both physically and mentally caused him to confront his own mortality. The novel will explore how memories change over time to reveal one’s parents in a different light. Of course, there will be juicy family secrets. I hope to show how memories both deceive us and encourage us to reexamine our lives.

And, no, I do not know when it will be finished.

What is your primary goal as an author?

My goal as an author is to write honestly about the themes in my next book. To keep learning how to write better. To encourage other writers. To get my writing out to as many people as possible and not worry about how much money I make. (Which is very little. Luckily I am retired and not trying to support myself writing.)

Which authors and/or books have inspired you as a writer?

The smart-aleck answer is “The book I’m reading now.”

My favorite Irish and English authors are Sebastian Barry, William Trevor, Colm Toibin, Frank O’Connor, Jaime O’Neill, Edna O’Brien, Jane Gardam, Brian Moore, Peter Ackroyd, John LeCarre, Patrick McGrath, Ian McEwan, Magnus Mills, John Mortimer, Roddy Doyle, Virginia Woolf, Michael Frayn, Graham Swift, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Taylor, Hilary Mantel, Charles Dickens, and Evelyn Waugh.

My favorite American and Canadian writers are Edith Wharton, Pat Barker, William Maxwell, James Cain, Jim Thompson, Willa Cather, Stewart O’Nan, Bernice Rubens, Mordecai Richler, Alan Furst, Muriel Spark, Patricia Highsmith, Ernest Hemingway (short stories), Scott Turow, Henry James, Eudora Welty, and Tobias Wolff

What advice would you like to share with new or aspiring authors?

When asked how she wrote so many books, Nora Roberts answered ‘Ass in chair.’ That’s the best advice for aspiring writers. Spend time each week and write. Not ‘thinking’ about writing. WRITE! (Note: I don’t always follow my own advice,)

  • Keep a journal to record thoughts and impressions. It’s amazing how those notes can inspire you years later.
  • Write a first draft without stopping to think too much. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, using the right word. Then let it simmer. Finally edit, edit, edit. Sculpt the work with revision after revision. Editing is when the book is created.
  • Don’t show anyone your work until you’ve gone over it carefully 5 times.
  • Develop a thick skin. Don’t argue when someone offers criticism. Some of ‘my’ best ideas have been suggested by other writers.
  • Join a writer’s critique group. You’ll learn as much critiquing others’ work as you will from their reviews of your work.
  • Send out your work to websites that publish new authors — not to make money, but to get your work out there and gain self-confidence.
  • Never give up. Don’t panic if you think that you’ve got ‘writers block.’ Sit down and write whatever comes into your head. You are a writer as long as you write. Publishing doesn’t make you a writer.
  • Take time to live your life. You don’t know everything when you’re 25 or even 40. I’m still learning at 69.
  • Read, read, read. Everything. Never be without a book. Take two with you in case you finish one while you’re away from home.
  • Observe, listen, and daydream.
Dave Riese

Dave Riese

About the Author:

Born in 1946, I grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts. I attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, majoring in English literature. During my junior year, I studied English Literature at Oxford University and travelled in Europe. I wrote a travel journal as my senior thesis.

After graduating in 1968, I enlisted in the Air Force one step ahead of my draft board’s kind invitation to join the army and travel to Vietnam. I married Susan, my high school girlfriend, during leave between tech school and my posting to the Philippines at Clark Air Base. During this period, I wrote poetry.

Discharged from the military in 1972 and despite my lack of computer experience, I was hired by Liberty Mutual Insurance to attend their three-month computer training course. I learned later that the major reason I was hired was my writing and communications background. An English degree can be a valuable asset!

I began writing short stories, a novel and a screenplay, but wasn’t disciplined enough to produce much over the next 25 years. A job, a house, and raising two children took all my energy.

After 35 years in information technology, I retired from Massachusetts Financial Services in the spring of 2012. I sat down and had a long talk with myself. “If you want to publish a book, you’d better take writing seriously.” (i.e., AIC — ass in chair)

My wife and I moved north of Boston in 1974. Our daughter lives in Ireland with her husband. Our son and his wife are pediatricians in Rhode Island. We have four grandchildren.

Echo from Mount Royal is my first novel, published in 2015.

Connect with Dave Riese:

Buy a copy of Echo from Mount Royal:

Mount Royal McCord Museum - cropped


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Author of the Week: Claire Fullerton

Our Author of the Week is Claire Fullerton, author of Dancing to an Irish Reel. Welcome, Claire! Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

I consider myself a Southerner, having grown up in Memphis, Tennessee. It is a source of identification for me, and although I now live in Southern California, I am never far from my roots. I have a particular affinity with Ireland and once lived on its western coast for an entire year. Suffice it to say I am a Southerner, an Irish-American, a lover of animals and long walks in the woods, but what defines me the most is my love of language and words.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing by keeping a journal from the time I was about eighteen. I felt an inexplicable need to document my life: its daily events and the people who impacted me. It was like keeping a running monologue that kept me current with my emotional life. I look back now and realize that I was following an inner prompting that taught me how to write and how to articulate in a clear and concise manner.

What is your chosen genre?

Contemporary fiction because my aim is to write about how I view and experience the every day events that shape a life. I like the idea of human nature being common, as in something that links us all together. Contemporary fiction helps us to see ourselves as we read someone’s story.

Can you please tell us about your most recent release?

I’d love to! “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is contemporary fiction set on the western coast of Ireland. A single American female named Hailey Crossan leaves the Los Angeles record business and takes a trip to the west of Ireland, where she is unexpectedly offered a job that is too good to turn down, so she stays. She is quickly befriended by a group of Irish locals who help her navigate the nuances of rural Ireland, and when she meets a regionally famous Irish musician who is enamored of her but afraid to come closer, it is Hailey’s friends that help he decipher the confusion. “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is about discovering a new land, and also about the uncertainty of new love.

DancingtoanIrishReel2 200x300[1]

What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

I think repeatedly fine-tuning the manuscript after the completion of the first draft is the real work. To me, it is like tightening a puzzle because one has to pay attention to cadence and flow, as well as to continuity. One has to know the entire book word for word as if it were an 800 word essay. Keeping the overview in mind at all times is the trick.

Are there certain themes or lessons you tend to explore in your books?

I like the idea of how much people hide from others as they go about their lives. People like to appear more together than they actually are and always like to save face. I like the idea of how people say one thing when they mean another. I think it is the emotional life of a character that has the real story!

What is your primary goal as an author?

To continue to grow. To aim towards saying things better, more cohesively, more poignantly. It is an effort towards presenting the best book possible in the hopes that it will engage, perhaps enlighten, and always to entertain.

APortalinTime 314x235

Which authors and/or books have inspired you as a writer?

Everything Pat Conroy has written, and I am also an admirer of Donna Tartt. Both are masters of language, which I believe writers have to be.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have just completed my 3rd novel.

What advice would you like to share with new or aspiring authors?

My best advice is to remind all writers that writing is a continuous growth process with no “there” to get to! This is the good news! We can all be well into our eighties and still evolving as a writer, which is not something you can say about many occupations. But the pursuit is a process and a build; a marathon, not a sprint, as I have heard it said. It is my opinion that writers don’t seek to be a writer, they simply get in touch with the fact that they are!

Claire in front yard with dogs Dec 28 2011-1007895 1

Author Bio: Claire Fullerton is the author of “Dancing to an Irish Reel” (Contemporary fiction) and “A Portal in Time,” (Paranormal mystery), both from Vinspire Publishing.  She is a 4 time, award winning essayist, a contributor to magazines (including “Celtic Life International” and “Southern Writers Magazine”) a former newspaper columnist, and a 5 time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series. Claire hails from Memphis, Tennessee and now lives in Malibu, California, with her husband and two German shepherds. She has recently completed her third novel, which is a Southern family saga set in Memphis.

Connect with the Author:

Direct Links to Purchase  “Dancing to an Irish Reel”

Direct Links to Purchase ​“A Portal in Time”

  • Amazon Books and Kindle EBooks:  Link
  • Barnes and Noble Books and Nook EBooks:  Link
  • ​Google Play:  Link

Neel graphics

Categories: author feature, author interview, author of the week, authors to watch, books | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Meet Author Tumika Patrice Cain

Tumika Patrice Cain

Tumika Patrice Cain is an award-winning author, media personality and publisher whose works centers around uplifting, encouraging and empowering others to live the abundant life.  She is also an accomplished poet; founder of the Say What?? Book Club; and host of the internet radio shows Living Abundantly with Tumika Patrice Cain, In The Spotlight, and Say What?? Author Spotlights.  In addition, she is a respected book reviewer and columnist for PEN’Ashe Magazine, a contributing writer for BLOG and Believe Magazines, and editor for two smaller publishing companies. A champion for indie authors, she works tirelessly to level the playing field to bring exposure to those authors who excel at their craft, but whose marketing budgets are limited.  Inkscriptions, her publishing company, offers a myriad of book publishing services. Living by the motto of each one reach one, each one teach one, Tumika shares her passion for purpose and for life with all who cross her path.  She is the 2013 recipient of a Spoken Word Billboard award for her debut novel, Season of Change (December 2012), a novel that has since been picked up by Shan Presents and will be re-released as When a Man Loves a Woman – A Season of Change in December 2015.  To her publishing credit, she is also the author of After the Rain…a Poetry Collective (March 2014) and The Heart of a Woman (August 2015).  Tumika’s works have been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, newsletters and periodicals.

 Facts about Tumkia

Finish this sentence: I am addicted to…

chocolate, good books and gorgeous shoes!

What advice would you give another author who is struggling with procrastination?

There is always a fear element present with procrastination. I’d tell the author to look deep within and ask him/herself the question “what am I really afraid of?” If answered honestly, the answer will bring the author face to face with one layer of truth in their lives. Sometimes just admitting where we are and what we struggle with is enough to get the ball rolling. Other times, it may require more questions, to which I’d encourage them to ask if they are more afraid of whatever it is (from the first question) or getting to the end of their lives and having not accomplished what they set out to do. Typically, the weight of one will overshadow the other and help the person reach a decision. Thirdly, I’d tell them to look in the mirror and remind themselves how capable and worthy they are. Know that you are more than your setbacks, more than the mistakes you’ve made, and success is a divine right…so embrace it!

What flowers would be in your ideal bouquet?

I enjoy roses (pink and red ones especially), Calla Lilies, Tulips. I also enjoy the simplicity of daisies, and the childhood nostalgia of Cattails.

How do you celebrate a book release?

I like to do a reading and have a book signing, with good food, great company and a creative environment where others can meet, connect and get inspired.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I’m a part-time writer, however, I am working on one aspect of the literary arena all the time; be it reading & reviewing other’s works; writing articles for my column, blogs or my motivational moments meant to uplift woman, or editing for independent authors or for the publishing company I contract with. Somewhere in the midst of all of that, I find time to write my books also.

Describe your dream date.

I’m a simple pleasures type of woman. A picnic by a body of water (sans the bugs and bird droppings – LOL), under a tree on a scenic grassy patch of land, in the midst of good company would be perfect.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy reading, hosting small dinner parties, taking my daughter and her friend on play dates, dancing, interior design, exploring the cultural scene and listening to music.

How do you relax at an end of a long day?

I take a long soak in the tub with mile high bubbles or a steamy shower and slip on something comfortable that feels good against my skin, open the windows (even in the winter I open them just a smidgen), burn incense, light candles, cut on some of my favorite music, and eventually crawl into bed with a good book.

How long have you been writing?

I began creative writing at the age of seven when poetry was introduced as a second grade class assignment. I loved the way I felt after stringing together a series of words, and the power writing gave me to express myself when I was otherwise shy and felt voiceless.

What are your pet peeves?

Narcissism/selfishness and Lying!

Connect with Tumika Patrice Cain:


When A Man Loves A Woman

By Tumika Cain

The stars seemed to have been aligned for Avery and Alicia. From the outside looking in, Lady Luck passed their way and left a fortune! They had a whirlwind, fairytale romance filled with all the little things that make dreams come true, a wedding of grace and beauty, and perfectly magical careers that produced almost enough money to burn.  They were the picture-perfect couple.

Unfortunately, time has a way of revealing fissures in what appears to the naked eye as impenetrable. The results send this fairytale romance spiraling out of control.

Avery, as perfect and so right as he seemed, struggles to free himself from his demons. He clings to this delicate relationship that he desperately needs as if his last breath depends on it.  Alicia, on the other hand, struggles to make the necessary corrections that will release her from a prison of unexpected, agonizing turmoil.

A novel of enduring strength, undeniable empowerment, and the compelling ability to overcome incredible odds, Book one in the When a Man Loves a Woman series is a powerhouse that will impact readers long after the last words have been read.

Excerpt From When A Man Loves a Woman


“Tell me what happened last night.”

Somehow through sniffles I managed to relay the events of the day.

“When no one answered the front desk, I began to worry. I’d already tried your direct line six times.”

“Our receptionist leaves at 5:00, that’s why we all have direct lines. During deadline times, we are too busy to answer the phones. That’s the truth.”

“Oh, baby. I’m so sorry I became upset.” I felt myself stiffen at his words. He was more than just upset. He was out of control.

I found it unbelievable that my gentle Avery had the ability to lay hard hands on me with the intent to bring nothing but pain. Lying there with him, I couldn’t bring myself to look at him. His touch repulsed me, but I couldn’t find the strength to loosen the hold he had on me.

Looking back, I suppose I was grateful that the long night was a Thursday. The managers were very lax about giving us time off when we’d pulled overnighters like that. A three- day weekend was just what I needed. Emotionally, as well as, spiritually.

Avery wouldn’t let me loose. Just kept me nestled against him, stroking my back. Eventually, I fell asleep within the folds of his familiar embrace. Upon waking, I made my usual beeline to the bathroom. I really had to go! I’d forgotten that Avery wouldn’t let me go before I went to bed.

Standing at the sink washing my hands I chanced a glance in the mirror and gasped. I was a wreck. Hair all over my head. Eyes bloodshot and nearly swollen shut from all the crying. Cheeks very red from all the blows I’d received. At first I looked in disbelief, then I just hung my head and cried. I lightly touched a tender bruise that had started to form on my cheek. My whole body ached. The pounding in my temples seemed to increase with every movement made. Guess I never realized how much exertion went into fighting.

I gathered my belongings for a bath. There were a million thoughts running around my head, but I couldn’t distinguish one from another. A hot bath is just what I needed. Maybe the steam would permeate my pores and unleash all the bitter feelings I had growing inside. Pear-scented air filled my nose as I lay back in the tub, resting my head on the cold, hard marble. Confusion ran rampant in my mind. I didn’t know what to do. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did know what I wanted to do. I wanted to leave him and never look back.

By the time I exited the tub, my mind was all made up. I was leaving. That is until I glanced in the mirror again. I felt the walls begin to close in on me. I couldn’t leave. Not looking the way I did. I looked like someone had just beaten me up. Of all the feelings I had at the time, embarrassment had to be the most prevalent. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. Too embarrassed to go into the streets with that bruise forming on my face. Mocking me. Too embarrassed that I had allowed this to happen.

Melancholy settled on me like acceptance does to a prisoner on death row. I was stuck. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anywhere to go. Kate’s doors were always open to me. So were Aunt Gilly’s. But like I said, embarrassment immobilized me.

Avery awoke and his eyes sought mine as I descended from the bathroom. I wouldn’t, couldn’t meet his gaze. I kept my eyes on the floor.

“Good morning, Alicia.” His voice was a soft caress that was almost my undoing.

“Afternoon, Avery.” I was on my way out of the room when I heard him call my name.

“Alicia, come here for a minute. I want to talk to you.”

“I don’t feel much like talking now.”


“Aren’t you listening? I am upset and I don’t feel like talking. Don’t pressure me, Avery!” By this time, I’d spun around on my heels and stood in the doorway glaring at him. I didn’t feel like being hounded. He was the one that opened up this can of worms. Now that they were out of the can, he’d just have to deal with whatever I felt like dishing out until I could make up my own mind. I was not going to be bullied or coerced into seeing this through his eyes. After all, no one told him to put his hands on me.

I heard him say, “I’m sorry…” But that was the last thing I heard because I went to sit on the patio. The condo felt small that day.

 Purchase Links




Categories: author feature, author interview, author of the week, authors to watch, book excerpt, book feature, books, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, excerpt, romance | Tags: , , ,

Author of the Week: Laney Smith

This week’s Author of the Week is Laney Smith. She’s here to talk with us about her series, her writing process, and advice for new authors.


Welcome to Authors to Watch! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am Laney Smith, the author of the Lock Creek: Time Capsule Series. I have enjoyed writing my entire life. I am the proud mother of two wonderful, brilliant and talented young men. I also have two younger brothers. I live in Southern California and I enjoy standing on the beach, listening to the waves breaking against the land.

What is your chosen genre?

Romantic Mystery/Contemporary Romance

What was the most challenging aspect of writing Lock Creek: One Year’s Time?

This one came fairly easily. Each volume gets harder because I have to remember events, names, dates – in some cases, and locations. It gets more and more difficult, but I enjoy the challenge.

Of all your published books, which is your favorite and why?

I love them all because they’re all so different. Each book has it’s own personality. But, if I could only pick one, I would have to say, Lock Creek: Time of Death because there is a scene in that book that made me cry for two weeks. I kept trying to sit and write it and I would have to step away and collect myself. It’s a very strange passion – to mourn the loss of a fictional character. I was a blubbering mess. They all get to me on different levels and to get the most out of Lock Creek: Time of Death, you need the three volumes before it. But, Time of Death almost killed me. I can hear a certain song today and it starts all over again. I love these characters so much. It’s tough to create a world and fill it with people and then pick the people off. But, it’s especially difficult when you, as the author, didn’t know it was coming. However, as I said before, they’re all so different that I love them all for different reasons. Each book builds what the reader needs for Time of Death to do that thing it does. I gets your heart.

Are there certain themes or lessons you tend to explore in your books?

If books could talk, each one of these books comes to me and starts playing out. Usually, there is a title that just happens. Sometimes I understand at the time. Sometimes, it comes later. But, these books name themselves, really. Each title has a different lesson. Sometimes it’s what it means to “love” someone. It may be learning to appreciate people in your life because they won’t always be here. It can be lessons as simple as what you do today can come back and bite you tomorrow. They aren’t preachy. But, there are definitely messages embedded in the story lines.

What is your primary goal as an author?

I have so many goals with this. I would have to say to show my kids that dreams can come true. If you want something bad enough and you go after it, it will happen. I have visions of seeing Lock Creek in film. I enjoy helping other authors find their footing, but I’m fascinated at how much I learn all the time, too. So, it seems there is no end to what you can pick up as you go. I’m thankful for that. I tend to get bored easily. So, the constant change and challenge has proven to be beneficial. I’m loving everything about this!

Which authors and/or books have inspired you as a writer?

I have a huge respect for Stephen King and Nicholas Sparks. I appreciate Stephen King’s style. I feel like he does things his own way and he shows how well that can work. I always find his stories interesting and different from the “norm.” Nicholas Sparks tells a really good love story, as you all know.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have so many things. I could probably fill a library if I could finish all of the works in progress. However, my primary focus at the moment is the fifth book in the Time Capsule Series.

What advice would you like to share with new or aspiring authors?

Don’t try to be like anyone else. Write what you want to say. The world right now embraces everything. So, be originally you. Write your stories. Those others have been written.


Author Bio:

Laney Smith has enjoyed writing her entire life.  She had her first poem published in 1995.  Since then, she has written multiple stories for local newspapers.  She is the proud mother of two wonderful, brilliant and talented young men. She also has two younger brothers. Though she currently resides in California, she has lived in places such as Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi and Colorado.  This has given Laney an exciting opportunity to experience aspects of life that she uses to create settings, characters, and even ideals.  Through the encouragement of friends and family, Laney has now decided to pursue her hobby on a more serious level.  Thus, “One Year’s Time” was born (the first book in the Time Capsule Series) and it is with great pride that she brings this fun story to you.

Connect with Laney Smith here:
Twitter: @OYTLaneySmith

You can buy a copy of Laney Smith’s books at the following links:

One Year’s Time:

In Their Own Time:

Derrick’s Time:

Time of Death:

Threshold (horror):

Categories: author feature, author interview, author of the week, authors to watch, contemporary romance, romance, romantic suspense | Tags: , , , ,

Author of the Week: Jennifer Renson

 Carousel book cover 

Our Author of the Week is Jennifer Renson! Welcome, Jennifer. When did you begin writing?

I have been writing since childhood. I am not sure how I started writing but I remember being able to create stories since Middle School and as I got older I was able to expand my writing skills.

What is your chosen genre?

My poetry books and Carousel fall under the genres of young adult/mystery/thriller/fantasy/fiction.

I do not have a specific genre that I stick to. Mostly because I want to see how well I can write in a specific genre.

Can you please tell us about your most recent release?

Carousel is my first published book that started easily enough with the villain of the story. I do not usually write stories of this nature and I wanted to see if I could. Needless to say I was more than pleased that Pulse LLC wanted to publish it. Carousel takes places in a alternative Lucca, Italy. Lucca is a tiny Kingdom ruled by a King and Queen. When news of a plague approaches they abandoned their Kingdom to live in the countryside. Their son, Princio, unbeknownst of his past is raised by his grandfather when his parents die and tells him to return to Lucca but never show his face. Upon his return he meets the mysterious doll maker Feletti at the abandoned carousel knowing all about the prince’s past and refusing to tell him. Princio believes him to be a friend until he meets Marian. Young, beautiful and curious she is terrified of Feletti and as her relationship with Princio develops so does the unanswered questions. Feletti knows everyone’s secrets… What happens when Princio uncovers his as well as Marian’s?

What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

The most challenging aspect I had writing Carousel was deciding how the story should end. I had multiple ideas and in the end I am most happy with the result.

Of all your published books, which is your favorite and why?

It is very hard to choose between all of my works. I love them all equally. Each one is a part of me in some way.

Are there certain themes or lessons you tend to explore in your books?

I like to explore a variety of themes. Though my skills mostly reside in the whimsical, story telling, and mystery, I’ve been trying to explore the more historical and scary.

What is your primary goal as an author?

My goal is to have my stories and poems reach as many readers as possible and be able to sustain a career in writing. Writing is my passion, my life and I want to be able to write forever.

Which authors and/or books have inspired you as a writer?

I’ve been inspires by several writers including J.R.R Tolkien, Oscar Wilde, and Thomas Malory. All three have written some of my favorite books.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently putting the finishing touches on the prequel to Carousel titled The Cottontail which will  take readers into the lives of the royals before their abandonment of their kingdom, introduce two new compelling characters and provide further insight into Feletti’s past.

What advice would you like to share with new or aspiring authors?

Do not give up on your dreams and passions. If you want to write, write. Tell the stories you want to tell. Be fearless. Be open to advice and criticism. There is no apology for passion.


About the Author:

Jennifer Renson graduated from Monmouth University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations/Journalism, with a minor in History. While attending Monmouth University, she was the Managing Editor and then Editor-in-Chief of the Monmouth Review Literary Magazine while participating in Open Mic events.

After graduation, she began writing for Lost Treasure Magazine, covering a variety of topics, including that of Captain Kidd, The Library of Alexandria, Richard III, Cesare Borgia, and The Arthur Stone.

Jennifer acquired a Masters Degree in Counselor Education, with a New Jersey State Certificate for School Counselor. Her passionfor writing continued as her poetry was published into three books: Delightfully Dark: A Collection of Poems and Tales, Eo: Go, walk, ride, sail, pass, travel and Uncharted.

Her first published book Carousel through Pulse LLC, follows the life of a young man, returning to the homeland Lucca he never knew, meeting a mysterious doll maker and befriending a beautiful young woman at the site of the old carousel once belonging to royalty. Fascinated by history, she’s been a volunteer archaeologist. Hoping to turn her passion into a career, she continues to write poetry and stories hoping her works will inspire.

Connect with Jennifer Renson:




Buy the books:

Carousel book cover


Barnes and Noble:


Delightfully Dark Cover

Delightfully Dark: A Collection of Poems and Tales:

Barnes and Noble:

Eo book cover

Eo: Go, walk, ride, sail, pass, travel:

Barnes and Noble:

Uncharted book cover


Categories: author feature, author interview, author of the week, authors to watch, poetry, young adult | Tags: , , , ,

Author of the Week: Barbara G Tarn

The Author of the Week is Barbara G Tarn. Welcome, Barb. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in Rome half a century ago and wrote in Italian until the 21st century, when I decided I’d rather explore the English-speaking market. I started with the attempted conquest of Hollywood, feeling it was easier to write screenplays than prose, then by 2010 I went back to my first love, prose, and the following year I started indie publishing, mostly in English.

When did you begin writing?

I spent 8 years abroad in the 1970s – Paris and Geneva, so I grew up bilingual Italian/French, studying English at school – and when I came back I was 13. Not the best time to be uprooted. I hated everything and everyone and started writing stories. I was very prolific and loved to make up stuff (mostly unbelievable and by now unreadable, but I quickly poured out my million words of crap in Italian). Only with the new millennium did I realize there were actually creative writing courses and rules one was supposed to follow… but I didn’t throw away the previous 25 years of writing. I just kept going…

What is your chosen genre?

My favorite is fantasy, but I’ve tackled science fantasy, historical, contemporary, romance, YA (when I was YA and the term didn’t even exist yet) and m/m stories. Currently I have an adult unconventional fantasy world, Silvery Earth, a science fantasy universe, Star Minds, and I’ve just started an historical fantasy series of vampires through centuries. I also have some contemporary stories and magical realism (body switches). And some m/m romance.

Can you please tell us about your most recent release?

Rajveer the Vampire is historical fantasy. The history is real, but vampires… you decide. There are different kinds of vampires in my personal mythology. The western ones don’t need to kill to drink blood and turn their victims by giving them their blood to drink. The Indian ones are more demonic – their bite is poisonous and it either kills or turns the victim. In further books there will be also almond-eyed vampires and black vampires of different kinds.


What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

Finding English textbooks on the Indian middle ages. Luckily my wonderful cover artist is very learned and she helped me nailing the culture. I also had to wade through The Element Encyclopedia of Vampires by Theresa Cheung (HarperCollins UK, 2009) – a loan from my offline beta-reader – to try and make up all the various vampires taking things from various mythologies and folklores. But the most challenging aspect was sticking to history and making it real, in spite of the non-historical creatures wandering the country!

Of all your published books, which is your favorite and why?

It’s usually the latest “baby”. I am still quite prolific, and the latest story is usually my favorite. Once I release it, I move on to the next, that will become my next favorite! I’m married to Mr Writing and we have so many children… I have favorite characters, though. Kol-ian and Ker-ris of Star Minds, the group of protagonists of Books of the Immortals – Air, Kurt the left-handed warrior, Lost and Oliver (who are not lovers – and the original story is from 1993), Yash and Ryo (who become lovers), Kilig the Sword… And coming soon my sleeping beau and his savior (Beautiful, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty slashed – or m/m version – will come out as soon as I get the manuscript back from the proofreader, sometimes around mid-November)!


What is your primary goal as an author?

Keep writing until my hands and eyes (and brain) fail me. And then publish and move on, until I’m able to quit (part-time) DayJob and live off royalties.

Which authors and/or books have inspired you as a writer?

Brunella Gasperini, the adventurous books of Emilio Salgari (might be considered the Italian Jules Verne, that I also read when attending French schools) and a collection of fairy tales from around the world, illustrated, that is still at my parents’ – all read in my teens, when I started producing stories at a steady pace. I’m also influenced by movies, (TV when I still watched it, i.e. until the early 1990s), and comic books (manga, bandes dessinnées, comics or fumetti, whatever you want to call them – including strips).

What projects are you currently working on?

The Sleeping Beauty slashed will be followed by a Snowhite retelling m/m romance + three short stories from openings I wrote for a writing workshop (contemporary stories) + a short story inspired by my trips with tour groups that will be set in the Star Minds universe (aliens visiting future Earth), and then I’ll get back to my historical vampires. I’ve started a novella about two secondary characters of Rajveer the Vampire. So while the other writers are busy with NaNoWriMo, that’s my writing plans for November!

What advice would you like to share with new or aspiring authors?

“Never give up, never surrender.” Don’t look for perfection. Write with your creative brain and don’t waste too much time “polishing”. Write, finish what you write, edit and release. But mostly, have fun! Entertain yourself first, and your readers will be entertained too! Happy writing!


About the Author:

Barbara G.Tarn had an intense life in the Middle Ages that stuck with her through the centuries. She prefers swords to guns, long gowns to mini-skirts, and even though she buried the warrior woman, she deplores the death of knights in shining chainmail. She likes to think her condo apartment is a medieval castle, unfortunately lacking a dungeon to throw noisy neighbors and naughty colleagues in. Also known as the Lady with the Unicorns, these days she prefers to add a touch of fantasy to all her stories, past and present – when she’s not wandering in her fantasy world of Silvery Earth or in her Star Minds futuristic universe. She’s a writer, sometimes artist, mostly a world-creator and story-teller – stories comprise shorts, novels and graphic novels. Her novella “The Hooded Man” has received an Honorable Mention at the Writers of the Future contest. Used to multiple projects (a graphic novel is always on the side of the prose), she writes, draws, ignores her day job and blogs at:

Connect with Barbara G. Tarn:




Author Central

Find the author’s books:

Publisher’s page with info on all the books: (each book has a page with the buy links and sometimes optionals such as maps, character interviews, etc)

Categories: author feature, author interview, author of the week, authors to watch, fantasy, vampires | Tags: , , ,

Author of the Week: Joni Parker

Today, I’m happy to re-introduce Joni Parker. She has previously appeared on Authors to Watch and I’m thrilled that she’s come back to share her newest release with us.

Spell Breaker 1

Welcome, Joni! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

In 1998, I retired from the U.S. Navy with 22 years of service.  My husband and I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and bought a house.  However, we fell in love with a motorhome and sold our house.  We spent several wonderful years criss-crossing the U.S. including a trip to Alaska until my husband passed away in 2001.  Not long after that, I went back to work for the federal government and learned to live my life over again.  I retired for a second time in 2010 to devote my time to writing.

When did you begin writing?

I had my first feature article published in the school newspaper when I was in the first grade.  After that, I wrote short stories and poems through elementary school.  When I got to high school, all that stopped and I didn’t start writing again until I was 57.  It was a long dry spell.

What is your chosen genre?

I enjoy the fantasy genre because it allows me to create my own world and populate it with the people I want.  Sometimes, my characters are mere mortals, but they can also be Elves, Dwarves, Titans, or other creatures.

Can you please tell us about your most recent release?

My latest book is called “Spell Breaker: The Chronicles of Eledon Book One.”  For a thousand years, no one has been able to leave Seaward Isle because of a spell that created a ring of storms around the island.  As the book opens, Lady Alexin Dumwalt (Alex) uses her magical powers to break the spell and frees the inhabitants to escape to Eledon, the World of the Elves.  But her success will come at a cost.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

The most challenging aspect was keeping the book size manageable.  I kept adding more details along the way and had to keep cutting the book back.  As it is, it’s the longest book I’ve published so far.

Of all your published books, which is your favorite and why?

This is like asking which child is your favorite.  “Spell Breaker” is now my favorite because it presented so many challenges.  The first draft my editor received was significantly different than the final version.  It took me an extra year of editing to get the book the way it ended up.  I used what I learned to change “Blood Mission” (Book Three of the Seaward Isle Saga, the previous series) before it went into print form.  Then I withdrew the first ebook version and published a second edition.

Are there certain themes or lessons you tend to explore in your books?

Not intentionally.  My main character is still very young so she’s learning as she goes.  Lessons and themes come out of it.  In “Spell Breaker,” she learns some very important life lessons the hard way, like the need to give and take, especially when she argues with her grandmother.

What is your primary goal as an author?

My goal is to become a better writer and utilize my brain for as long as I can.  Writing doesn’t have a mandatory retirement age, so I intend to write for a long time.

Which authors and/or books have inspired you as a writer?

Last year, I attended a seminar by Donald Maass.  He owns a literary agency and has written several books on writing a good novel based on what he looks for as an agent.  The seminar was three hours long and was held before the DFW Writers’ conference.  In addition, he also taught several breakout sessions and gave the closing speech.  I bought two of his books, “The Fire in Fiction” and “Writing 21st Century Fiction,” but I also found his “writing the BREAKOUT NOVEL Workbook” to be very useful.  If anyone has a chance to attend one of his seminars, do it.  You’ll be inspired, too.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on book two of the Chronicles of Eledon.  It’s with my editor now.  I also have drafts of the next two books in the series that are nearing completion.  I’m also toying with a memoir and considering a historical fiction novel.

What advice would you like to share with new or aspiring authors?

Rewriting can be one of the most creative aspects of writing.  I know there are some authors who hate it, but I love the process.  Sometimes, I come up with better ideas the second or third time around.

orig_27374_022 (885x1024)

Author Bio:

Joni was born in Chicago, Illinois, but her family moved to Japan so her father could pursue his dream of becoming a professional golfer.  Her dad achieved his dream and the family returned to the U.S., settling in Phoenix, Arizona.  Joni graduated from Camelback High School and attended Arizona State University until she dropped out and joined the Navy.  She completed a three-year hitch in Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey and got married to the love of her life.  At first, she followed her husband’s career and returned to college, attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and an MBA.  A few years later after her husband’s retirement from the Navy, she returned as a commissioned officer, completing 22 years of active duty service.  While in the service, she also earned another Master’s degree, Master of Military Arts and Sciences, from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.  In 2001, her husband passed away and Joni went back to work for the federal government in a civil service job until she retired for a second time to devote her time to writing.

Connect with Joni Parker:

Buy Spell Breaker: The Chronicles of Eledon Book One:

map parchment

Categories: author interview, author of the week, fantasy | Tags: , , , , ,

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