Monday, 30 December 2013

Mel Massey

Author: Mel Massey
Best known works: Earth's Magick Book 1 ~ Earth ~
Where you can find her: Twitter / Facebook
Top writing tip: Write! Just write your story. The story YOU want to read. Don't worry about rules and editing and all the kerfuffle that gets tossed around on the internet. Just write. After you have the first draft, read it. Then clean it up. Find others who will read it for you. Then clean it up again. It'll never be perfect so don't shoot for perfection. Shoot for a good story.

Thank you, Mel, for sharing a little bit about yourself. It's always interesting to see what makes a fellow writer tick.

How long have you been a writer? 

I've written my whole life. I have so many unfinished stories tucked away, it's kind of sad. The Earth's Magick series was one that stuck with me for years and I really took my time plotting the books.

When did you realize you were pagan?

There wasn't one specific instance but rather a slow progression towards the Pagan path. I started reading Scott Cunningham books to begin with. That led to learning herbal and stone magick. From there I learned fire magick, which is still my favorite. Before long, I realized what happened and I felt free.

What life experiences were incorporated into your book?

I grew up in Texas and many of the places and people in Earth's Magick are created from my experiences growing up. I studied Cultural Anthropology and History of Religion in college. Much of what I learned in school influenced the many characters of different faiths in the Earth's Magick series.

Do you see yourself in your book?

I wasn't aware of it but I'm told by others that I did put myself in the books. There's apparently a lot of me in Mela and a few others! I don't see her as me, but I can also understand how others might.

How did the idea for your book come together?

In pieces really. I lived in Texas at the time and kept a notebook full of research for a story. It wasn't until I started outlining the series that the whole thing came together on paper. So much was added and shuffled around as I planned the nine books. Some of my characters required loads of biography work. Four of them are over 2,000 years old and I gave each of them a unique and specific history. I used real history to influence their stories which has helped create depth and realism in the books.

What is Earth's Magick about? 

Mela Malone gets attacked every night by an old and terrifying old woman. Mela, desperate for answers, follows instructions to acquire an ancient Grimoire she calls, The Green Book. She begins her journey into the world of magick and becomes the daughter of Hecate and Pan. Both of which are fabulous characters to write about. Mela receives a guide to help her, however, it turns out he has secrets of his own as he talks her into taking some extrmee steps in magick. She's unknowingly initiated into an ancient order of warrior witches called The Elementai. He informs here it's her duty to find four ancient half-human sisters before their four half-human brothers find her first. Mela receives help from unexpected places and discovers how powerful she's actually become when the old woman who was terrorizing her returns. Lots of ancient secrets start to come into the light and it's up to Mela to start putting pieces together.

What kind of experience have you had with your publisher?

I'm published with Solstice Publishing. I had two offers from publishers in the same week and it was so difficult to decide. In the end, I went with Solstice Publishing because we're a perfect fit. On a side note, I signed my contract with Solstice Publishing on the Summer Solstice. I loved that. I loved the idea of going with an Indie publisher because I simply wasn't ready to take on the work load of editing, cover art, formatting and uploading my books. I'm so thankful for the lovely souls at Solstice who've held my hand through this process.

What other work have you had published?

After I signed with Solstice for Earth's Magick, I wrote a horror short story, Getaway, and that was also published with Solstice. It came out on Samhain, which was before Earth's Magick was out of the editing phase.

What future writing projects do you have in the works?

I'm writing the next two books in the Earth's Magick series. I have other projects in my mental cure, but for now, Mela and friends are getting my full attention.

Do you consider yourself a slow or fast writer?

I think I'm a fast writer because I spend so much time outlining before I begin. Each book has its own notebook and I outline each chapter by hand before I even bother opening a document on the computer. Usually a book will take me anywhere between 4-6 weeks to finish a first draft.

Who encourages you? Where does your inspiration come from?

The Monster I married and my Little Monsters are always encouraging. I have so many friends that listen to my ideas or read pieces when I need another set of eyes on a specific scene. My inspiration comes from all around me. When I walk outside and see the sun falling behind the trees, I can imagine a whole other world coming alive in the shadows. My imagination, my Muse, keeps me on my toes. Ha!

Do you socialize with other writers?

I think it's important to socialize with other authors right from the beginning. For instance, myself and seven other authors got together to do a week of free book giveaways. We each, in turn, introduced the others to our Facebook/Twitter people and have had loads of fun "crossin gover" into each other's world. Also, the other authors with Solstice Publishing have been fabulous and are such a supportive group. I'm so very lucky.

How do you recharge your writing batteries?

I recharge when I'm alone. I MUST be alone every once in a while or I go mad. I'm an introvert that really likes people. But too many people around me for too long just sucks the life right out of me. Quiet house with laundry done and dinner slow cooking is the best atmosphere for me to write in.

Do you think ebooks have changed the publishing market for better or worse?

For the better! And still changing, I think. The power authors have now over their work is amazing. The digital age was able to reach non-readers and even offer short stories for those that can't commit to a full length novel. I love digital books!


Thank you for taking the time to share yourself and your book with us. We hope you have every success with your series and future projects.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Shauna Aura Knight

Author: Shauna Aura Knight
Best known works: A Winter Knight’s Vigil
Where you can find her: Website / WordPress / Facebook / Twitter
Top writing tip: Finish what you're writing. Then submit it for publication. If you don't finish what you write or submit it, you'll never get published.

Hi Shauna, we see you about a lot on Pagan Writers Community. It's great to finally get a chance to chat about your work.

Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself, and what has led to this book?

I’ve always been interested in creative work. I’ve been a professional artist and graphic designer, I’ve done tech theater and theatrical design work, I’ve done reproduction Star Wars scenery for Science Fiction conventions, I’ve worked at the Renaissance Faire, I’ve lived in a cabin with no running water, and these days you can find me teaching Pagan leadership and ritual facilitation at various Pagan festivals and events around the country. I’d say that all of that has led to A Winter Knight’s Vigil, and the other books I have coming out.

You're clearly very involved in the Pagan world. When did you first realise your calling?

I was about fifteen when I realized that's what it was called, but my parents were both sort of hippy, woowoo, mystic-types, so I was raised discussing and even exploring past life regressions, channeling, chakra healing, dreamwork, psychic abilities, Atlantis, Edgar Cayce, Reiki Healing, Akashic Records, White Light energy healing angels, goddesses, and all that.

I did a report on Paganism when I was fifteen and finally understood that that's what I was. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I ever really found other Pagans, and not until my late 20s that I found the type of ecstatic Pagan ritual work that really called to me.

When did you begin writing?

I started writing semi-coherent stories when I was in third grade, though I would draw out stories when I was four or five years old. I started writing my first novel when I was twelve, but I only published my first novellas just this past year. Once I started writing novels, I was caught up in the fictional worlds I was creating and I wanted to bring those out to the world.   

Do you ever dream about writing?

No, but most of my stories have their genesis in my dreams. Some of my stories come from these huge, epic dreams. I think that the mythic language of dream, and that particular potency a nightmare offers to the conflict and inner workings of a character, will make for some really engaging reads.

What has been your experience of the publishing process?

I have both fiction and nonfiction published through Jupiter Gardens Press and A Winter Knight’s Vigil is published through Pagan Writers Press, but I'm also working on some self-published nonfiction pieces. I really enjoy the process of getting to work with an editor and publisher. It can be tricky sitting alone at my computer trying to edit my work to perfection, or come up with the perfect blurb. It’s great to have someone else doing a final pass through and making suggestions.
You mention other pieces you have written, can you tell us a bit about them?

This is my second published piece of fiction. The first is Werewolves in the Kitchen, a paranormal romance released as part of an anthology at Jupiter Gardens Press. That will be released as a standalone along with another novella, The White Dress: The Autumn Leaves, early next year.

I've had numerous nonfiction articles published in various Pagan publications over the years focusing on Pagan leadership and ritual facilitation, with two books released through Jupiter Gardens Press: Spiritual Scents and Dreamwork for the Initiate's Path.

How long does it take you to write a book, are you a fast writer or a slow writer?

This definitely depends. I have stuff I've been writing since I was twelve, and other stuff that took me a year, or even just a month. I'm a pretty fast writer when I have focus, time to work, and a deadline. All too often I've let myself get stuck waiting for the "bolt of lightning" to hit, to resolve a plot question, and then a decade passes and still no lightning, and that story is still left hanging and unfinished. What I’ve found is that I really have to push myself to sit and write, to push through something that is unfinished in a story. But if I actually work on the piece, I’ll usually find a way to finish the story. So, now I have books I’ve been working on for decades but I’m finishing them off pretty quickly because I’ve had rather a lot of time to think about them. 

Do you plan your stories before you begin?

Absolutely. For me this is more crucial with the big epic fantasy stories but, even with a novella, I have a pretty good idea of the arc of the story and the growth of the characters before I start writing more than just a scene or two. Sometimes the characters will take me on a tangent. Other times, I know that something happens, but I’m not quite sure how, or what happens before that, so there’s definitely an organic element as well. As the characters come alive, they sort of offer their own guidance on the matter.

Where do you go when you need to recharge your creative juices?

I call it cave-dwelling. Being home and working on writing is one of the ways I recharge. I also love to paint. When I’m really needing a recharge, I will curl up in bed with a fantasy or paranormal romance story.

How did the topic of your book come to you?

A Winter Knight’s Vigil
came from a few things. I had a story dream, just a snippet really, however the scene from the dream reminded me of a time when I was out in a woodland cabin with a group of friends. We weren't really a coven, not yet. Except, we had massive group dynamics issues from hidden romantic relationships. Of the six of us, three were entangled with the one guy. So I thought, well, wouldn't that be interesting to explore as the foundation of the conflict of the story? Or, what if it was a healthier coven where they had a rule, like some covens do, that covenmates can't date, to prevent situations like what I went through? And what if two of the members of the coven fall for each other anyway and then they have to deal with it?

I also intentionally wanted to explore some of the tropes in romance novels that aren’t always the most sex positive. I don't think I've ever read a romance novel where the heroine doesn't just amazingly have these simultaneous orgasms with the hero, which just isn’t realistic for a lot of women. I know that I, and other women I know, had a lot of shame around our first experiences of sex because our expectations were built up on what’s portrayed in the media and romance novels. Since part of my own spiritual work is activism around sex and health, and helping people move past shame and misinformation, I thought I’d work with sex that was maybe a little bit more realistic. And do that in a way that was still hot.

That sounds like a really important idea that isn't often explored. Can you tell us more about how this is addressed in your current novel?

A Winter Knight’s Vigil takes place in a woodland cabin the weekend of the Winter Solstice. Amber has been in love with Tristan for a while, but she hasn’t done anything about it because the coven has a rule — no dating amongst coven members. The group begins to do some fairly intense personal shadow work during the weekend. They’re doing trancework in an ecstatic ritual and Amber finally lets her feelings for Tristan slip. They try to keep their distance, but, as the ritual work intensifies, it just draws the two of them closer together.

What do you do when you fall in love with someone, when you find that someone you actually want to be with, but to be with them means betraying a commitment you made to your group? Tristan and Amber find themselves struggling with that as their group continues to do deeper and deeper ritual work.

It’s an erotic romance novella, which means that things get pretty spicy-hot with Tristan and Amber. The characters also experience intensive ecstatic ritual work exploring the myth of King Arthur and what that means personally for them.

There are a few excerpts available on my blog

How important is the online community to your writing?

The community that has been easier for me to build is more on the Pagan leadership, ritual facilitation, personal growth side of things, to be honest. I've been traveling and teaching these skills for such a long time, and I've met so many people, it's so easy to strike up a conversation on my Facebook wall about community building or leadership or ritual arts.

Building up a community around my fiction is going to take a little more time, I think. I can always think of something to write about on the topic of Pagan leadership. It's harder for me to think up something that my fiction readers might find interesting.

What are your future plans for writing?

I have a lot of fiction and nonfiction books in the works. Most of my upcoming fiction will be paranormal romance, and I’m working on a longer Urban Fantasy series as well as some epic fantasy. Swords, sorcery, vampires, shapeshifters, psychics, mages… all sorts of cool stuff. At the same time, I’m also working on writing specific to the Pagan community, books and articles on dreamwork, Pagan leadership, facilitating rituals, and other personal and spiritual growth work.


Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us Shauna. We wish you the very best with all of the projects you've got on the go.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Morgan Daimler

Author: Morgan Daimler
Best known works: Where the Hawthorn Grows
Where you can find her: Website
Top writing tip: Don't be afraid to try.

Thank you, Morgan, for taking the time to share a bit about yourself.

When did you first realize you were pagan?

I became pagan in 1991.

When did you start writing?

I started writing in high school, but didn’t start submitting material to be published until about five years after I graduated.

Are you published or self published, and what has been your experience of this process?

Both. I like self-publishing because I have complete control. On the other hand going through a traditional publisher is easier in many ways and gets the books out to more places than I can on my own.

How many books have you had published?

I self published four books, have two out through traditional publishers with another forthcoming, and am working on my first novel.

How long does it take you to write a book, are you a fast writer or a slow writer?

I guess I’m a fast writer once I set my mind to it. It’s never taken me more than a month to write a book.

How do you decide on what to write about?

I tend to write the books I want to read and that I think need to be out there as a resource for others.

Do you ever dream about writing?

Definitely. I’ve had ideas for books come to me in my sleep before too.

What do you enjoy reading?

I love W. B. Yeats and my favourite urban fantasy author is Mercedes Lackey. I’m addicted to urban fantasy, its probably my favourite genre, although I’ll read pretty much anything.

Tell us a little bit about what you write.

Most of what I write is non-fiction. My last book, Where the Hawthorn Grows, is my experiences and thoughts on being a Reconstructionist Druid in America.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?

No. If I’m stuck on a section or on one project I just go work on something else until the stuck area works itself out. I learned that approach when I was in college because when you have a deadline you can’t afford not to get the work done. So if I’m writing and one section just isn’t working I might skip ahead and write a later section until I’m ready to go back and tackle the difficult bit. Or I’ll make myself write even if I feel totally uninspired and go back later and revise it to make it better. I find that forcing myself to just do it works for me to get through blocks.

What are you working on right now?

I just finished my first fiction novel, which was really fun to write and I’m working on revising it and getting a second draft done now.

Who encourages you?

My friends and family.

Do you socialise with other writers or are you a solitary author?

I have several friends who are authors, but that’s not why they are my friends. I think it’s good to have people who understand about what it’s like to write though because sometimes you just need to vent or as advice and you need those people to go to.


Morgan, we appreciate that you took the time to talk to us. We hope that your next book is very successful.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Jamie White

Author: Jamie White
Best known works:
Stains on the Soul

Where you can find her: Website / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube
Top writing tip: Read as much as you can on writing, but don’t take it all too seriously. Try the advice on for size and if it doesn’t work, discard it.

Hi Jamie, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. It's great to welcome you to the blog.

Let's kick off with that makes you tick?

I’m a music addict, photo geek, pet servant and paranormal junkie who started out as a blogger and freelance writer. I was also a journalism student and am a level one Reiki practitioner.
Does Paganism play a part in all that?

I don’t know if I would exactly call myself a pagan, per se. I take bits and pieces from different faiths that feel right and put it all together. I first started that journal in High School after reading Christopher Pike’s Remember Me. So many things in there resonated with me and started me on a search.

So how did you get into writing? 

I would do poems and lyrics here and there and had a few short stories done, but I didn’t really start writing regularly and seriously until 2010. I started because my husband is a writer and he talked me into going to a writing group meeting at the local library. I agreed and it kind of snowballed from there.

Are you published or self published?

I’m both. I self-pubbed my first book through Create Space and recently released Stains on the Soul through Pagan Writers Press. It’s been an amazing process and I’ve learned so much from the other writers in the indie community as well as the PWP group. They are so supportive and helpful.
So you've published before?

Stains is my third published work. I also put a short story out in the Lyrical Muse Anthology this past August.

How did the idea for Stains come to you? 

The idea for Stains started with a dream involving magic and witches. While I have yet to write that story, it inspired an image of a girl burning as a witch that became the beginning of this book. My interest in past lives, meditation, and crystals fuelled the story as well.
Are dreams important to your creative process?

I have definitely gotten a bunch of story ideas from dreams.

Do you plan your stories before you begin? 

I like to have an idea of what the story will be about before I start, but I wing most of it.

Who provides encouragement and inspiration for your writing? 

My husband, CP Bialois, is a huge source of encouragement and inspiration. He pushes me to keep writing and when I’m stuck we often discuss ideas. 

Michelle Cornwell-Jordan of Indie Review Behind the Scenes has also pushed me as a writer by demanding more stories. I also have to shout out to Angie of Pagan Writers Press for doing the ThreeBooksInThreeMonths challenge and Divine Writer, because it’s been a huge source of inspiration and has pushed me to write more.

Do you get much support from your online base?

The followers on my networks and sites are some of the most amazing people. They’re supportive and always bring a smile to my face.

Would you say that you're quite a social writer?

I definitely socialize in person and online. I love getting to know other writers, and I think they form such an important support system.

Can you tell us what Stains is all about?

Stains is a New Adult paranormal story about a girl named Fiona. She’s being haunted by horrible nightmares she can’t shake that just may be a warning about this new guy she met. It delves into how much events from the past can affect a person and the importance of listening to your dreams and following your inner voice.

Do we see some of you in your book? 

Yeah, there are definitely bits of me in there, along with other people I know.

What are your future plans for writing? 

I have another holiday-themed work coming out soon and am working on several WIPs.


Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Jamie. We wish you every success with your works in progress.

Monday, 9 December 2013


Author: Rhavensfyre
Best known works: Switching Gears
Where you can find them: Website / Facebook
Top writing tip: Keep improving your skills, listen to your editors, but don’t lose your voice in the process.

Thanks Rhavensfyre for allowing us to get to know you a bit better by answering a few questions for us.

To begin, can you tell us a little about yourself?

We are a writing team, and have been writing for years together. My wife is a horse trainer and farrier, and I am in the medical field and dabble in art. We have vastly different backgrounds, age differences, etc. 

What life experiences led to the writing of this book? 

The characters are troubled, complex and have life experiences that many of us have experienced or seen. It is this realism that we try to accomplish that may mirror or represent some of our own trials in life. 

When did you realize you were pagan?

Since I was a child, being forced to go to Sunday school with my babysitters…hated it. Asked so many questions that I got kicked out. It never felt right to me, being in a church on hard benches. I spent my childhood in the woods, looking for fairies. KL is Christo-pagan…she recognizes the patterns of the myths over time, and has come to meet me somewhere in the middle of our beliefs.

When did you begin writing?

We have written most of our lives. Even through high school and college. It is one avenue of creativity that we enjoy when not engaging in other forms. Writing is like art, color, texture, and storyline by word rather than paint or pen. It is art, and like any art, it demands to be let free.

How do you feel about your experience with your publisher?

Our publishing house, Sapphire Books, is a small lesbian owned and operated House. It has been a great experience, and having editors to work with is an excellent way to improve a manuscript from OK to incredible.

Is this your first published piece?

This is our first Published work.

How did you come up with the storyline for your book?

While we were driving on the freeway, we often take long trips and over the course of 6 hours in a truck… you can hash out a lot of storyline. Also, we bike ride a lot…so we get our ideas out in nature as well.

Who inspires you?

The readers. Knowing that they want to read what we write, that is inspirational.

What is Switching Gears about?

When Olivia Holden first met Micah Connolly, she knew it was a bad idea to take her on as an intern at her law firm. The intelligent and darkly handsome young woman reminded her that there was more to life than work, and less in her life than she wished she had. She really shouldn’t have led the young intern on, not when she knew she couldn’t act on her desires, but she also couldn’t let her just walk out the door and out of her life either. Besides, the rules were about to change. With her father’s pending retirement, the strict rules laid out by the senior Holden would no longer keep her from telling Micah just how much she wanted her. The only problem was, she never got a chance to.

Micah Connolly had spent most of her life trying to please others, starting with her family, and ending with Olivia Holden. When she found out that her beloved grandmother had passed away, she was bereft and sought solace with the only other person she thought might offer her comfort. Olivia Holden was full of mixed messages, none of them clear, but most of them leaning towards a keen interest in Micah. Their first kiss was a disaster, overwrought with emotion. She had let things get out of hand. She had meant to tell Olivia she had to go home and get her grandmother’s affairs in order, but instead, the night ended in a volatile exchange of words that sent Micah running.

Well over a year had passed since that fateful night, and Olivia still regretted her strict adherence to a set of rules that had made her lose the one woman she felt she could love. Chance and fate changed everything when she recognized Micah weaving her bike wildly through the busy streets of New York. Olivia had expected to find her practicing law somewhere, not working as a lowly bike messenger. It didn’t matter, though; she had found Micah again, and she had to at least try.

When Micah and Olivia finally met again, it wasn’t your standard happy reunion. Micah had changed, a lot. She was darker, edgier, and carried herself with an air of experience that Olivia found intriguing. This new Micah also wasn’t the sort who let Olivia take charge of their budding relationship. Micah had found herself, and found out a lot about herself over the last year, including a great deal of things that she wasn’t so sure the high-powered attorney would be game for. A subtle and erotic game of power play ensued, with Olivia discovering just how much she enjoyed giving up control for a change. Just how game Olivia was both surprised and delighted Micah, but left her with a difficult choice. One that threatened to break past all of her carefully constructed walls and leaving her more vulnerable than she had been since she left the first time, all those months ago. She had come full circle, but there were a lot of things that had happened in that span of time, things that would require an explanation she wasn’t sure she could give Olivia.

Do you have any additional projects in the works?

We have three more books in the works, the next book is a modern fantasy with a decidedly pagan flavour. We also have short stories sent out for an anthology that should be interesting.

Do your dreams ever come up in your writing?

Yes! Very often the ideas will play out in the dream world before they make it on paper…or computer. More often than we like, the story demands to be written and one or both of us gets up to write something just in case. You will find us up at 3 AM on most nights, typing away in the dead of night.

Do we see any of you in Switching Gears?

We get this question a lot.  Since there are two of us, people try to figure out who is who in the book. While we have to admit that there is some of us in our characters, we try very hard to give them their own personality, voice and “personhood” so that you can really come to love them as much as we do.  We want you to talk to them, yell at them if they are being silly, laugh and cry with them, and if they are the bad guy, hate them with all your heart. We also want you to wonder where they are headed, and imagine any future adventures they may have. 

Do you ever create characters based on people in real life?

Everyone is fair game! If you are interesting…you will get our attention, and some parts of you may end up as a character in a book.

How important are reviews of your work?

We love reviews. We love to hear what you found good, bad and ugly. We love to hear what you think of the characters, if you want to see a sequel, etc…but most importantly, we love to know if there was anything in the book that really spoke to you. We address some pretty intense subjects sometimes, they are bound to hit a chord a time or two. We are always open to dialogue. 

Do you think EBooks have changed the market for better or worse?

For better! E-books are green!! No dead trees…and it lets people who otherwise couldn’t afford books a way to enjoy all of the literature out there. It opened up a huge global market, where people can afford e-books but not hardcopies due to cost of shipping. Also, e-books can remain relatively private, especially in areas were certain topics are taboo or even illegal. Since we write characters who are gay/lesbian, this offers a safe way for them to explore who they are without worrying about being discovered.


Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We wish you every success with your current and future books.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Sydney M. Cooper

Author: Sydney M. Cooper
Best known works: Forsaken Lands: Tragedy

Where you can find her: Website / Facebook / Goodreads
Top writing tip: No one is going to tell you to become a writer – the only way to become a writer is to face that blank page day after day with the unshakable belief that this is what you need to be doing.

Hi Sydney, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. It's always nice to meet the person behind the pages.

Could you start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I am a medical professional by day and writer by night. Forsaken Lands: Tragedy is a story that grew out of my own personal experiences and those of many of my close friends. I’ve been the victim of a lot of lies, deceit, and hate in my life, and wanted to describe that pain in the light of compassion. Although the story is based in fantasy, I have found that sometimes fiction can be the best medium in which to illustrate important real-world concepts. It is my hope that a person who reads my story picks up on the message that all of us make mistakes, some of us are the victim of tragic circumstances, and despite all of that, even the people that society has shunned are still human beings worthy of our understanding.

That sounds like deep subject matter. How does your faith fit into your writing?

I’ve called myself a pagan for the last five years or so, since I was eighteen, but looking back I feel like I’ve been a witch my whole life, even while growing up in a hardline conservative Christian household. Since I was six I’ve looked for the fairies in the garden, given offerings to the spirits, and reached within myself to find my own spiritual and personal power. Formally asking the gods and goddesses into my life has opened my world to wonderful new experiences and a community of amazing friends.

Do we see some of you in your book?

Aiasjia, my female protagonist, has an almost shameful amount of myself in her story and her personality. Outside of her obvious similarities to me, each of my characters has something of me inside of them, as I think is the case with most authors. I do try to allow each character their individuality, and I love it when they surprise me.

When and why did you begin writing?

I probably penned my first story as soon as I could string words together in a cohesive fashion. My writing is deeply personal – during my adolescence it sometimes seemed to be the only place in which I could be myself. Now that I am an adult and I can be myself wherever I go, my writing continues to be a place where I can commune with the characters in my mind and create stories that, I hope, will broaden the minds of others in the way that stories helped me develop my own sense of the world. Tragedy is the third complete book I’ve written, but so far the only one I feel is fit for publishing. 

How have you found the publishing process so far?

I am a self-published author, and at this time I’m very happy with that decision. I submitted to two publishing companies after the book was finished, one large company and another smaller publisher. The large company never really responded, and the small press felt that my subject matter was too controversial. I do tend to cover issues such as sexual orientation, religion, abortion, and ethically ‘gray’ situations. After I was rejected I felt like it was my sign that self-publishing would be the way to go. I haven’t made big money, but that’s never been my motivator. I want the story to get out to people who might find it relevant to them, and so far I’ve been meeting that goal.

What do you enjoy reading when you're not writing?

I read a lot of fantasy and paranormal romance, but can be convinced to try any book which is character-driven. I’m in love with the works of Anne Bishop, Karen Miller, and Brent Weeks, all of whom create vivid worlds with characters who feel like real people.

You mention your other works, can you tell us a bit about those?

Technically Fathers and Sons, the short story prequel to Tragedy, was my first publication. Tragedy is my first published novel.

How did the topic of your book come to you?

Books tend to come to me in a flash of a scene. I remember thinking about what it might be like to be someone who was neither purely good nor purely evil, and in that moment I saw my male protagonist, Teveres, standing over the bodies of the townspeople he had killed. I knew that the townspeople were ridiculing him for some reason, and that his parents had just been murdered. I could see his eyes quite clearly – green with gold flecks – and I knew that his story needed to be written. My female protagonist, Aia, came later, and after writing scenes for both of them I realized that their stories had to take place in the same world.

Do you plan your stories before you begin?

I am what you would call a “discovery” writer – I tend to go wherever the story takes me. I typically start with an image of the first and last scenes, but without a very clear picture of how to get from the beginning to the end. I will sometimes get on a roll and jot down a few lines about where the next chapter or two is going, but that’s about the extent of my outlining. This does mean that I will occasionally find that the story has taken a wrong turn and end up deleting 10,000 words, but that’s all part of the adventure. I try not to get too attached to any single scene.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you overcome it?

So far my longest stretch of writer's block lasted two years. During that time I was super stressed and not making any time to take care of myself. Those were dark days! I finally sat down and realized that this wasn’t going to work. I have to be able to write in order to stay sane. I opened up a blank word document and just started writing again. I decided not to care if it was any good, or if it would ever be fit for another soul to read. I just had to do it.
Thankfully people have been reading your work. How important are reviews, do you read them?

Reviews are essential for self-published folks such as myself. I don’t have a lot of reviews yet, but I am eagerly awaiting them. I know that eventually someone is going to have some nasty things to say, but I’ve been pleased with the heretofore positive responses to my work.

Do you have someone who encourages you?

My husband has been one of the most encouraging, supportive forces in my life since I met him, both in my writing and in my professional career. While he is the reason I keep writing, my grandmother is the reason I started at all. She always encouraged me to believe in magic and let me explore any story I wanted to when I was a child. She has never discouraged me from doing what I love to do, and for that I will always be grateful.

Can you tell us a bit more about the story and characters in Tragedy?

The Land of Elseth was once a place of great prosperity. The gods gifted the land with abundant rivers, mountains, and powerful kelspar ore, the source of divine power in the world. The Children of Elseth lived in balance with the gods and nature; they built great cities and fostered brilliant minds. They wanted for nothing. Somewhere in the world, something has changed. Crops have withered, earthquakes destroy whole cities, and a war stirs between Elseth’s Children and the southern Kaldari tribes. Standing between the destruction of their society and a future of hope are the Deldri, a group of individuals thought to have died out more than a century ago. They might be able to stem The Decline, if only they themselves were not in danger.

Aiasjia and Teveres hold the powers of life and death in their hands. Though they do not know it, their destinies are intricately tied to the fate of their world; it is by their success or failure that their people survive. The leaders of their homeland have been captured, the high priest who has taken over is not who he seems, and the warring Kaldari people have broken through their borders with the intent to destroy everything they ever knew. It is up to them to find a way to move beyond their own limitations to save what is left of their home before they lose their society forever.

That sounds like it could turn into a tale of epic proportions. Have you any plans to expand it?

Right now I am very excited to be working on Forsaken Lands, Book 2: Suffering which should be coming out in a year or so. The story is going some very interesting places, and I can’t wait to see what happens! Once the Forsaken Lands trilogy is over I will see what presents itself to me.


Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Sydney. We wish you every success with this book and your sequel.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Jan McDonald

Author: Jan McDonald 
Best known works: The Mike Travis Paranormal Investigation Series, Crone Moon & Cottage Witchcraft 
Where you can find her: Website / Raven Crest Books 
Top writing tip: Believe in yourself and keep writing.

Hi Jan, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. We're looking forward to hearing more about you.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to be a writer?

I have always been aware of, and interested in, the paranormal. As I have grown older, the paranormal simply seems normal to me, whatever that may be. The idea was to write a series about a paranormal investigator, not the TV kind, but a real life, down to earth person with an open mind. Mike Travis was born.

I have also written and had published two non-fiction works on the Craft. Cottage Witchcraft and Crone Moon. Both published by Capall Bann Publishing. A lifelong pagan, I wanted to write something that is simple and open to all in the initial, and not so initial, stages of paganism. Crone Moon is written for Witches of  ‘a certain age’ - like me! It introduces the Dark Goddess in all her Cronehood and glory.
When did you first realise that you were Pagan? 

Since I was about five and old enough to hear the voice of the Goddess in the trees, see her face in the moon.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing when I was around ten. I wrote my first book during my maths lessons which I hated. Of course I was discovered and the book confiscated. Later that week I was sent to the Head who told me it was good, and I was going to read it to the school during assembly once it was finished.

Who do you enjoy reading when you're not writing?

I adore Terry Pratchett, an absolute genius.

Can you tell us a bit about your publisher?          
I am published by Dave Lyons at Raven Crest Books, a brilliant publisher.
What else have you had published?
I have currently five novels published with Raven Crest Books. The Sacred Ark is the 5th. Number six is about to be released in time for Christmas.

Do you think ebooks have changed the publishing market for better or worse?

I can only answer honestly to that as all of my books are available as ebooks and do very well. So, yes, I think that although I prefer the touch, smell and feel of a book in my hands, the likes of Kindle are here to stay.

How did the topic for this book come to you?
The Sacred Ark (The Ark of the Covenant) has always been to me more than we are given to understand in Christian writings. I came across a book by Lawrence Gardner Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark, and there it was, a non-fiction book explaining what I already believed. I wanted others to catch a glimpse of this truth and so put it into a novel where it would find the hearts and minds of those who would understand its message.

Who encourages and inspires you?
My husband. He’s a down to earth practical man, also with a deep and abiding love of  The Goddess, who has believed in me since I first put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboard.

Where do you go when you need to recharge?

Glastonbury. Always.

Can you tell us a bit about your story?
The Sacred Ark is a Mike Travis Paranormal Investigation. He is asked by an old friend to help with his search for proof that will vindicate him of previous ridicule by the Archaeological fraternity, when  he publishes a paper that stands accepted theories on their head regarding the Ark of the Covenant, Moses, and the Pharaoh Akhenaten. The trail leads them to an apocalypse prevention scenario.  

Have you ever met one of your characters in real life?

Yes, though he wasn’t as large as life as any fictional character, but Mike Travis owes him a great deal.

Do we see some of you in your books?

Yes, I see a vague reflection of me in Beth, Mike Travis’ wife.

That sounds intriguing. Will there be a follow-up?
The Mike Travis series is four in number and growing a stable fan base, number five, The Haunted Diary of Victoria Little, is due for release and number seven is in the research stage and will be called The Merlin Manuscript.


Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Jan. We wish you every success in your future publishing ventures.