picture-3409Time to chat with Jennifer!

Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons is the author of Ella Bella, Take What You Got And Fly With It, and I Woke Up In Love This Morning. She lives in Lafayette, California. 

What is your latest book?

My latest e-book is Ella Bella, a YA novel that tells the story of Ella Drake, a girl whose father dies (I’m not giving anything away; this happens in the first pages!) then her mother loses her job a month later. I know it’s a lot for a girl to handle, but I always want to read about people who have survived the worst yet somehow manages to survive—maybe even thrive—when the world is against you.


What else have you written?

I’ve written a mini short story collection for Middle Grade/YA readers called I Woke Up In Love This Morning, which has done quite well on Amazon. I call it my “Babies, Blood and Boobs” book, because the short stories deal with those issues. My other ebook is Take What You Got and Fly With It, a collection of essays. The title is a quote of Jim Henson’s that I just love.

What was the most valuable class you ever took in school? Why?

In high school, I LOVED all my English classes. I also took Creative Writing my last two years. My teacher was Jane Juska, who wrote the bestselling memoir A Round Heeled Woman. She was very honest and held me to the fire when I wasn’t writing. At the time I resented it, now I’m glad she did it. My freshman year I took a Human Relations class which was one of the most popular classes at my high school. No topic was off limits, which was great.

In college I took many many lit classes, and of course writing workshops. All of them helped me become a better writer.

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

That we’re no talents. Or we’re lazy. One of the best YA ebooks I read last year was How To Repair A Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis, who’d been through the query cycle with agents and was burned out by it. It’s incredibly funny and daring, but some might dismiss it because she’s an indie writer. The sad thing is they’re missing out on a wonderful story. That’s not saying I’ve read some bad indie books, but I’ve read bad traditionally published books, so it’s all the same.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

It depends on the story! Ella Bella was written in order. It was my senior project for college and I was required to write an outline for the story. However the WIP I’m working on now deals with a tragic time in Bay Area/American history, and every time I tried writing it in order I froze. I simply couldn’t do it. However this summer I decided to write from the end and go in reverse. When I started doing that, I became unfrozen. It’s far from perfect but it’s better than before.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

The best advice I heard when I was a teenager was from Anne Tyler: Read read read and revise revise revise. Keep going. Do the best you can. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Most of all, keep going.

What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?

Fave book is a three way tie: East of Eden by John Steinbeck, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I loved all the movies based on the novels as well. Favorite movie? Nashville directed by Robert Altman comes to mind, along with Auntie Mame. All of John Hughes’ films.

What music soothes your soul?

All types! All my writing has music connected with it; my characters are like me in the fact they love music. With Ella Bella her dad loved the Beatles, so I listened to them as I wrote, or Beatles covers. The WIP I’m doing right now has flashbacks to the seventies, so I’ve been listening to the Bay City Rollers! They had such energy when they sang; it was obvious they received energy from their young fans.

If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite with us?

Having a DVR helps a lot; I get all my TV watching done within a couple of hours. Current shows I love are: Big Bang Theory, Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Major Crimes and Project Runway. I love vintage shows way too much. I just got a new channel that shows the old Bea Arthur show Maude. I’ve been known to binge watch the show and sing the theme song. It’s not pretty.





Red Room




Michael Jecks is the author of the best-selling Templar Series, as well as other titles. As well as writing thirty four novels, he has been chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association, the founder of Medieval Murderers, helped set up the Historical Writers’ Association, and is a keen supporter of new writers and writing. He is a regular speaker and panelist at festivals and other events worldwide.


What is your latest book?

My most recent book is also the first.

I’ve been writing my Templar Series for the last twenty years, and there are over thirty titles in the series. But this latest book is a prequel, because I wanted to show how my leading character came to be the man he grew into. So I wrote Templar’s Acre, which is a book about a boy growing into a man in medieval times – it’s a story of love and loss, battle and defeat, and shows how a siege and the catastrophe of war affects the people of a major town.


What are the special challenges in writing a series?

Some time ago I formed the performance group Medieval Murderers. The great thing is, we are five professional writers who love history, but who conduct our research, our writing and every other aspect of our work in very different ways. I love having a series because it takes away reinvention, while friends like Karen Maitland detest the very idea. The thought of being tied to the same characters for a series drives her to distraction. Personally, I love the fact that I can start a book already knowing my characters and their families. I can get straight into the plot.

In the last year I’ve written two books out of series – Fields of Glory, out in 2014 about the Hundred Years War, and Act of Vengeance, a modern day spy thriller, so both books that are out of series, and I found them enormously challenging. The task of finding new people is not  so easy, I find. It’s rather like trying to find new friends. So I reckon I will stick to writing series novels. It’s easier.

What part of writing a novel you enjoy the most?

The real pleasure for me is when I’m well into the book. I love the process of sitting back and imagining other people, other times, other lives. For me, it’s as good as a holiday. I am getting into the mindsets of people I could never usually meet, and learning how they behave and react. It’s the most wonderful feeling to live three or four different lives in a week.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I am no youngster, but I am lucky to have been involved with computers really since before the appearance of PCs. I was a computer salesman for thirteen years before starting to write. But social media is, I think, frankly terrifying.

People are getting more and more used to communicating purely in short bursts, either in texts or Twitter messages. That’s fine, but it is decreasing the attention span of some people. There has been research that shows people are less able to cope with holding concepts and thoughts over a longer period, which is due to receiving brief articles and shorter lumps of information.

Personally I see all social media as simple marketing tools. I do not contact friends and family on them, because I prefer to phone them! I like hearing someone’s voice. However, social media have given me a great way of communicating with my readers, with booksellers, and with other people who may not otherwise have bothered to read my books.

My biggest problem with it is, that it takes up so much time. In the past I could write a book for hours a day, and be totally immersed in my story. I’m getting there again, but only because I work very hard to be focused.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

Never! Never! My book is my book. To my mind, the only people who should see my work before it’s finished and ready to print are my editor and my agent: no one else at all. Putting a book out for comments before that, to me, is an abrogation of the author’s responsibility to tell the story the best he or she can. It’s not collaborative, with a committee deciding how my characters should behave or speak. That’s my job, and mine alone. No, I would never let someone see rough drafts or work in progress. The thought fills me with horror.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

This is true – but now, in the world of ebooks, you can’t judge a book without a cover, I think. I’ve recently tested the water with ebooks. I’ve had collections of short stories put out by me, with a cover I designed, and one designed by a professional. I’ve also written my own modern spy story, Act of Vengeance, which I put out through a publisher to make sure it was edited. The books have done really well, but I’m sure that the professional covers make a vast difference, especially for people looking at thumbnails on Amazon. You need something striking, simple, intriguing and attractive. With so many hundreds of thousands of self-published books on sale now, you have to make your own stand out as being professional in appearance. Otherwise people won’t look inside the cover.

How would you define your style of writing?

I’d say my writing is fluid. It’s not ‘literary” because I think of literary writers as pretentious. Real literary quality is not defined by an author, but by those who read it. Dickens was a hack journalist, and looked down on at first (I’ll bet many authors who saw his success remained sniffy about his writing). I write modern thrillers, effectively, which happen to be based in the past. But I very deliberately do not make the books hard going. I am thrilled and delighted by history, and most of my readers grow to be after reading my works, but a lot come to me without any interest in Medieval English history at first. That, to me, is proof of the merit of my work. If I can entertain and provide a feel for how things were, that’s good enough for me.

A lot of authors are frustrated by readers who don’t understand how important reviews are? What would you say to a reader who doesn’t think his or her review matters?

People who read books and put reviews up have a HUGE responsibility. Let me explain. When my first book came out, the first fan letter opened by my editor listed 21 factual inaccuracies in the novel. She, having commissioned me for three books, was not surprisingly very upset to think that I could wreck her career.

When I saw the inaccuracies listed, they ranged from details – how far could a horse ride in a set period – to aspects of history – the siege of Acre wasn’t 1291 but 1191, with Saracens besieged by Christians, rather than the other way around. Well, the writer was correct about 1191 – but 100 years later, the roles were reversed. The great siege of Acre is accepted generally as being 1291 when a small body of Christians were wiped out by a massive army of Mameluks.

Now that person could easily have destroyed my career, and possibly damaged my editor’s, by his thoughtless comments. Or were they thoughtless? Now we are used to the problem of trolls on the Internet. Some people write disparagingly about novels partly, it seems, because they are frustrated writers themselves. It is more jealousy than valid commentary.

Be that as it may, when people write reviews, they are potentially harming another human’s future. Some may give up writing completely as a result of a poor review.

That case was a salutary lesson for me. On Amazon and other sites you will often see dreadful comments about other people’s work. I don’t think they are ever justified. A bad book in one person’s eyes could well be thought brilliant by someone else. I distinctly recall published authors being sniffy about, in succession, Harry Potter, Da Vinci Code and Shades of Grey. Just because it’s not your cup of tea, there is no need to go and destroy someone else’s career. So, if in doubt, if you really dislike a work, don’t give it a miserable score – just don’t review it.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

I do not suffer from it. There is a theory that writer’s block is the inevitable consequence of thinking up new plots, characters and stories, and if the ‘muse’ departs on holiday, the author’s left bereft.


I was for a while the Chairman of the Crime Writer’s Association. I know all the really good writers from that organisation – and I do not know a single one who has suffered from the block. All of us, if we’re professional writers, just sit down and get on with it. We have to. If you don’t write, you don’t deserve to call yourself a writer.

However, I do believe that two things are crucial. First, if you are financially solvent, writer’s block is easier to accommodate. It’s noticeable that those who complain of it are usually amongst the wealthier people. The second is, if you work to a routine, the block is far less likely.

I tend to write in one-hour segments. The first forty-five to fifty is actual writing, the rest is off getting coffee, tea, or disposing of the last drink, while thinking through the next scene I have to write. That way, I can put down 1,000 words per hour. After the first work, which is editing the previous day’s work, I can count on 5,000 words a day. There isn’t time for writer’s block with a schedule like that!

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I was born and raised in Surrey here in England, but from before I was born, every Easter my family would bring me to Devon and I’ve had a feeling of huge affinity for the county all my life. When I was selling computers in the 80s, it was impossible to move to the south-west, but as soon as my sixth book was published, I could move, and my wife and I bought a small house in the north of Dartmoor, where the Hound of the Baskervilles was set. It is extraordinarily atmospheric, with a character all of its own, and I adore it. I don’t think I’d ever be able to move away (unless I was told there was a house for me in the Rockies or in Alaska).

Have you ever played a practical joke on a friend? Ever had one played on you?

Many times. I tend to be a rather amiable buffoon, and it’s easy to make me look a complete twerp. When I was very young, in my last year at school, I used to have a Mini. They were great little cars, but they were designed for simplicity, so, if you needed to pop the bonnet (the hood to Americans), there was a release catch outside the car. Not a release inside. That meant anyone could break into the engine compartment.

Well, I have a great friend, now a very wealthy businessman, who always had an eye for a joke. He used to pop the bonnet every so often, and take off the spark plug caps. I would hop inside, turn the key, and hear the engine whizz round, but not start. After this happened a few times, I got a little irritable. I think it’s because one day it was raining, and I had to get my hands mucky trying to get the plug caps back on while getting soaked. So that weekend, I cut a little tube of plastic, put a cork in one end with two pins sticking into the tube itself, and put in a bubble of mercury from a broken thermometer. I covered the other end and wired this to the airhorns. Next time Nick opened the bonnet, the switch fixed to the bonnet itself tipped the mercury to the two connectors, and the horns blared very loudly in his ears.

He never tried that trick again!

What was your favourite year at school?

It was my last before the O-levels. These were the exams taken by sixteen year olds, and I remember that as a time of real peace. We were left for the first time to study pretty much on our own, revising our work. For once that summer was glorious, and I have memories of sitting out in the garden, with a lovely view across a valley, at the hillside opposite. In those days we had a Bernese Mountain Dog and a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and the two used to sit beside me as I worked. I remember reading Albert Camus’ book The Plague, and discovering Light Cavalry Action by John Harris, still one of my favourite books of all time. So for me that year was one of academic achievement (I did well in the exams), but also one of peace. Life is easy when you don’t have to earn a living.

What makes you angry?

Injustice. I despise Tony Blair for his deplorable behaviour towards any section unable to defend themselves, for example. He removed the House of Lords as an independent system by accusing them of blocking his laws in parliament (they didn’t). He blamed pistol shooters because of police failings which led to a man illegally being granted a pistol licence at Dunblane, and blamed the shooting community, depriving a hundred thousand people of their property and sports. And worst of all, he took the case of a terrorist attack in a foreign country to implement the most draconian laws imposed on the English since the Norman invasion. Like the Templars, arrested without explanation, people were arrested and held in prison without the right to a fair trial in which they could be told why they were arrested, what they were supposed to have done or who had accused them.

He reversed centuries of justice because of what happened in New York in 9/11, when for the previous twenty or thirty years, Irish terrorism causing billions of pounds of damage and killing hundreds, had not justified such extreme measures.

I detest injustice. I don’t care whether it is the injustice of a dog being put down because someone felt threatened by it, or the injustice of Police officers shooting an unarmed man and getting away with it.

I am now kicking away that soapbox …

What music soothes your soul?

All music appeals to me. For different moods, different music works better.

From my youth, Pink Floyd and Neil Young still exert a strong pull. I can be put in mind of Lord of the Rings or Elliot O’Donnell’s Casebook of Ghosts by ‘After the Goldrush’, for example. But although I love rock and (some) pop, I am really a classical music lover, I think, first and foremost. I adore the Russian composers, particularly Shostakovich and Prokofiev, and French such as Ravel and Debussy. Then again, I am very keen on English composers: Walton, Delius, Elgar – and Americans like Barber. Basically, I find all music has something of value.

Except Rap. Sorry, I don’t like the violence and crudeness inherent in the music and the culture.

What simple pleasures make you smile?

Walking my dogs over the moors in bright sunshine, or in the cool, or in the snow. Just walking, really.

Sitting outside a pub on a warm summer’s afternoon with a pint of good ale.

A roast meal with my family and a good bottle of wine.

Reading a book or to sit and paint a view.






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MYSTICAL HIGH IS HERE! Book #1 in The Desert Series



Nice to see you here.

I’m super excited about the publication of Mystical High, the first novel in my YA paranormal trilogy, The Desert Series. While I’m not exclusively a YA author, my first-written novel, Squalor, New Mexico, is a coming-of-age story, and I’ve been eager to return to the genre again—but in a very different way.

Having a lifelong interest in unexplained phenomena, I wanted to write a novel that deals with many issues that teens face in everyday life, but with a paranormal element being an integral part of the story. As my first three novels are all set in the eastern United States, where I’m originally from, I wanted to write a novel set in California, where I live now. I decided that the Southern California desert would be a great locale.

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As in all of my novels, if I write about small towns or specific areas, I fictionalize them, but when I describe big cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles, the descriptions are always from firsthand experience. My descriptions of small towns are usually a hybrid of similar places but are never exact duplications. I’m a fiction writer, after all.


What I never expected to be, however, was the author of a series. I just didn’t see it in the cards. So how did I end up deciding to write a series? Well, I don’t think I did. As I was finishing the writing of Mystical High and falling in love with the characters and the story, the book itself simply told me: “Hey, you’re not quite through with me yet. Not even close. Guess what? You’re going to write a series.”

“Really? I’m going to write a series? But—”

“But nothing. Just get to work.”


And here I am, publishing the first book in a trilogy and happy to say that I’ve already written 25,000 words of number 2 and am over-the-moon excited about it.

Every novel in The Desert Series will be able to be read as a standalone novel. However, the secrets and revelations will be even juicier to those who have read the previous novels.

Now, let me tell you about Mystical High.


In Mystekal, a small, dying town in the Southern California desert, only 75 students attend the old, sometimes creepy high school dubbed “Mystical High,” where strange things have been known to happen. Jessie Dalworth and Jinxsy Patterson are juniors and lifelong best friends. At home, Jessie deals with the pain of an absentee mother who has abandoned the family for the lure of Hollywood; Jinxsy contends with a 17th “birthday present” she never wanted or expected.

Meanwhile, at school, the unexplained activity begins to escalate when Jinxsy keeps seeing a long-haired guy in the hallway checking her out. Jessie can’t see him, but her younger brother, River, can.

Then, in English class, a stapler mysteriously flies off teacher Eve Carrow’s desk, hitting a student in the face who has just mouthed off to her. The beloved teacher is in the unenviable position of having her brute of a father as principal, so she hates sending any student to his office. As Principal Ernest Carrow begins to terrorize Eve and others more openly, something or someone unseen decides that it’s payback time.

School is getting stranger, and Jinxsy and Jessie are faced with mind-boggling changes in their home lives that complicate everything. When a string of shocking events expose explosive secrets, decades-long mysteries are finally revealed.


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My official book tour will begin November 11th and run through December 6th. As soon as I have the schedule, I’ll be posting it here.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Photos copyright of Lisette Brodey, 2013



Samantha Stroh Bailey is a mom, author, journalist and professional writer/editor with her business, Perfect Pen Communications. She was a Kobo Writing Life writer-in-residence at BEA 2013 and is the co-founder of “Book Buzz,” a promotional author event held in New York City and soon, Toronto. She has a Master of Education that looks great on her wall (okay, in a box in her basement), and when not writing, she can be found curled up on her couch reading until the wee hours. Finding Lucas is her first novel.

Time to chat with Sam!

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

This is an excellent question! My characters always surprise me, and there are times I want to reel them in, but they refuse. When I begin a story, I have to pound away at the computer until I have a big chunk of it written. I can’t stop myself because the characters take over and insist that I continue until they’re ready for a break. I find that it’s my imperfect characters who have the loudest voices in my head, and though I am shocked by what they come up with, I am only the conduit for their lives. Crazy, I know.


Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I’m a professional editor as well as an author so it is very hard for me not to edit as I write. But I force myself not to. I write and write until a big part is done, and then I go back and edit. The problem with that, as opposed to very well-organized writers who edit as they go, is that I then have to edit extensively many times. But, my fingers need to tap away at that keyboard for a good while before I can fix anything that’s wrong. And even though I’m an editor, I always have another editor look at my work. It’s amazing what we miss!

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

Choosing names is very important to me. I need to envision the character before I choose a name and then I scour baby name sites on the Internet. I also tend to choose names I love that I didn’t end up naming my own children.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Ooh, yes! Those are some of my favorite to write. I despised Derek in Finding Lucas for his pretention, egotism and lack of emotion. It is so much fun taking attributes I don’t personally like and creating a character I love to hate. His mother, Jeanette, and Jamie’s co-worker, Eva, were also incredibly exciting antagonists to write. The drama and tension unlikeable characters stir up makes my heart pound as I type.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

Until I published Finding Lucas, I rarely used social media. I didn’t even have a Facebook page. I was scared to make comments that might sound stupid or interact with people I didn’t know. But, when I started using Twitter, I found an incredibly supportive group of authors, bloggers and readers, some who have become very close friends, and I realized that social media can be used for good. Through Facebook, I discovered The Chick Lit Goddesses, an amazing group who make my writing days less lonely and angst-filled. I remember the first time I reached out to an author on Twitter. I had just finished reading Just Friends with Benefits by Meredith Schorr, and I loved it. I was so nervous, but I had to tell her how good her book was. Now, Meredith and I are incredibly close! And without Twitter, I wouldn’t have met you or known about your fantastic books.

So, that’s my favorite part. My least favorite is how much time it takes, and it’s a steep curve to learn how to divide my time between my writing/editing business, novels and social media. It’s easy to get sucked in because it’s fun, and I feel guilty when I don’t respond quickly.

What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?

I love books with imperfect characters who grow as the novel progresses. I love books that make me tear through the pages to get to the next part and make me sad when it’s over. I love books that make me think and keep me up late at night. What do I like least about the books I read? That I need to take on more clients to pay for all of them. I read a few books a week, and it’s a pricey habit.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

Once I’ve finished a few drafts, I rely on an invaluable group of beta readers. I know they’ll be honest with me, they have eagle eyes and all have very different ways of beta reading. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I think beta readers always worry that they’re going to hurt the author they’re reading for. And yes, it would be great if my beta readers said, “Oh, this is perfect! You’re done!” But, I need their constructive criticism, and I welcome it. They all make me a better writer.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I’ve been writing, as I say, ever since I could pick up a pen. I had a wild imagination as a kid (I still do!), and I was constantly creating stories with characters who were nicer than some of the mean kids at school. When I was ten, I submitted my first manuscript. It was rejected, but it didn’t stop me. I have always, always wanted to be a writer and the day I published Finding Lucas, even though I was a journalist by then, was one of the best days of my life.

What genre have you never written in that you’d like to try?

I would love to write romantic suspense. I’ve started reading a few and I’m editing one for a client right now. I think it is incredibly difficult to write any kind of suspense because there are so many threads to keep track of and so much research to do, but it is a challenge I long to take. One day!

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

Definitely not boats because the minute those suckers start rocking, I start hurling over the side. If I make it in time. I love trains because of the scenery and the sound of the train hurtling along the tracks. I love planes because I can get so far, but I can’t stand the whole airport process. No matter how early I leave for the airport, I’m always that person yelling, “Hold the plane!”

If you could duplicate the knowledge from any single person’s head and have it magically put into your own brain, whose knowledge would you like to have? And why.

Math. I want to be good at math. And directions. I want to be able to calculate a tip in seconds and know exactly where I’m going when I leave my house.

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

I have the most wonderful, supportive and beautiful friends. I don’t do drama or high maintenance. With kids and my own business and my writing, I’m not left with a lot of time to go out. My friends live very similar lives and we place very few expectations on each other. We just want love, kindness and laughter.

If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?

I love TV. It’s such a guilty pleasure. I love Castle, Elementary, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory and reality TV, like the Bachelor, America’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, anything really that draws me in. I especially love programs that showcase people living their dreams because I know what it feels like to do that. The only good thing about summer ending is the new TV season!



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People fascinate the psychologist/author (psycho author) known as Jennifer Lane. Her therapy clients talk to her all day long about their dreams and secrets, and her characters tell her their stories at night. Jen delights in peeling away the layers to scrutinize their psyches and emotions. But please rest assured, dear reader, she isn’t psychoanalyzing you right now. She’s already got too many voices in her head! 

Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is the author of The Conduct Series—-romantic suspense for adult readers—-and recently completed the third and final installment: On Best BehaviorStreamline is her first foray into writing for young and new adults, but she’s found this sort of writing even more fun. A former college swimmer, Jen was able to put a lot of her own experiences into this book.

Time to chat with Jen!

What is your latest book?

My September, 2013 release is On Best Behavior (The Conduct Series #3): the conclusion of a romantic suspense trilogy. In the first novel With Good Behavior, former psychologist Sophie Taylor and former Navy lieutenant Grant Madsen meet on their parole officer’s doorstep and strive to make a life outside. This recent installment finds Grant going undercover to infiltrate the Russian Mafia—not his smartest idea ever—and Sophie has to use her knowledge of human nature to try to save him.


What are the special challenges in writing a series?

It’s a tough balance deciding how much background information to include for each sequel. I don’t want to bore readers who have just completed the previous book, and I don’t want to confuse readers who have waited months for the next book.

I like to feature favorite side characters in each sequel (like potty-mouth ship captain Roger Eaton) but sometimes it’s a challenge to find meaningful ways to include them in the story arc.

Finally, this hasn’t been a challenge in a trilogy, but I can imagine authors who write long series with the same characters might find it difficult to keep the plot fresh.

If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?


What else have you written?

Besides The Conduct Series, I’ve written a New Adult swimming romance: Streamline. I swam and played volleyball in college, so it’s a blast writing about college athletes. My WIP is a NA volleyball political romance titled Blocked.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I wish I could learn how to crank out a messy first draft, but alas, I edit as I go. Still, my editors find SO MUCH to correct before publication! 🙂

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

Choosing fitting character names is essential, in my opinion. I like to select meaningful names that lend themselves to fun nicknames.

For Streamline, I chose to name my swimmer hero Leo, indicating strength of character and physique. He needs plenty of both to survive the torture he endures.

Leo and his brother have fun coming up with nicknames for their abusive father Commander Scott, like Cruel SoB, Crusty Slimebucket, Constipated Stool-Sample, and Cat’s Sandbox.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Sometimes I set out to create despicable characters but inevitably I find some redeeming value in their personality. Perhaps it’s my psychology background forcing me to search for character motivation that resolves to find the greyness of characters. I believe we all have excellent reasons for doing what we do—including villains.

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

I’ve written psychology research articles and book chapters, which are nowhere near as fun as writing novels. I also write progress notes for my psychotherapy clients every day.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

I try never to respond publicly to negative reviews. Privately, I cope with particularly “ouchy” reviews by venting to a group of author friends. I understand that readers feel angry and disappointed when a book doesn’t live up to expectations, and it’s certainly true that an author can’t please everyone. Reading is so subjective. Still, some negative reviews really sting, especially if they don’t offer constructive feedback. Occasionally I laugh at a critical review, like when one reader called my beta hero a “wuss”.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I live in Columbus, Ohio. I like experiencing all seasons and the low cost of living, but I’d love to live right on the beach one day. Water is soothing and spiritual for me.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

My oldest sister lived in Tokyo for a year, and she bought a plane ticket for me to visit her there. What a fascinating culture! We stumbled upon a hidden garden that mesmerized us, near Asakusa.

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

Intelligence, honesty, humility, physical fitness, and most importantly, a kickbutt sense of humor!

What’s the move valuable class you’ve ever taken?

I think the Psychology of Women class in college was most valuable for me. When I told the professor I thought about getting a master’s degree, she responded, “Of course you’ll get your Ph.D., won’t you?” Suddenly a doctorate was an option in my life. I love my career as a psychologist—I feel called to be a therapist—and I have her to thank.





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