Katie Oliver currently resides in northern Virginia with her husband and three parakeets, in a rambling old house with uneven floors and a dining room that leaks when it rains.

She’s been writing off and on since she was eight, and has a box crammed with (mostly unfinished) novels to prove it.  With her sons grown and gone, Katie decided to get serious and write more (and hopefully, better) stories.  

She even finishes most of them.

What is your latest book?

Mansfield Lark is the latest, published on 3 March.


Is your recent book part of a series?

Yes, Mansfield Lark is the newest addition to the “Dating Mr Darcy” series. Other books in the series are Prada and Prejudice and Love and Liability. I have two more books in the works – one featuring Natalie and Rhys from Prada, and one with Gemma and Dominic from Mansfield.

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

Well, I didn’t start out to write a series. I wrote the first book, Prada and Prejudice, with no clue that I’d write another…and then another, featuring some of the same characters across the three books. It just sort of happened that way. As I wrote the first one, I thought, you know, I really need to tell Holly’s story…and Dominic’s story… and so I did.

I think the biggest challenge when writing a series is keeping everything straight from one book to the next! I might forget whether a character in book one had blonde hair or black, or where he/she was born. Where was Ian and Alexa’s house located? Did Natalie take one gap year, or two? Those little details will trip you up in a later book if you don’t track them. I keep a notebook for each book, and I jot down stuff as I begin writing, so I can refer to it later.

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

All the time! For instance, (spoiler alert) I didn’t intend for Holly James to end up with Alex Barrington. He was meant to be a cad who breaks her heart. But it didn’t work out that way…

Authors, especially Indies, are constantly trying to understand why some authors sell very while their talented fellow authors have a hard time of it. It’s an ongoing conundrum. What do you make of it all?

What I make of it is this: it’s a crapshoot. There are many very excellent writers whose books languish unread. And there are many so-so writers whose books hit the bestseller lists.

Things that help get your book noticed are: a well-designed book cover; blog tours; and hosting a giveaway to stir a buzz and find you new readers. Establish yourself as a brand. Your writing name is your brand. Utilize social media. Don’t post non-stop “buy my book” Tweets – that’s spam, and no one likes spam. Engage with your followers. Use apps like Quozio to pull quotes from your book and post them on Twitter or Facebook. Pin pictures of your characters or locations to Pinterest and share on other social media. Think outside of the “buy my book” box.

Beyond that? It’s luck, pure and simple.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Know that nothing happens fast in the publishing world. It takes time to get representation, land a book contract, navigate through the editorial process. Be patient. Learn. Listen to people who know what they’re doing – your editor, your agent, the art department, your publisher. But don’t be afraid to push back (politely) if you really hate the cover or don’t agree with an edit.

For indie authors – I recommend hiring a proofreader to copyedit your book before you format and publish it. And it’s worth hiring a graphics person to design a killer book cover, as well. Make social media work for you by connecting with readers, bloggers, and other writers.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

Once my kids were grown, I wrote the book (well, two) that I’d always wanted to write. When I finished, I got an agent referral through the Elaine English agency in Washington, DC, based on the synopsis and first three chapters of Love and Liability. It took time to get a publishing deal, mainly because my books featured British characters and settings, which American publishers were hesitant to take on. But with time and perseverance it did happen, and my books – all three of them – were bought by UK Carina/Harlequin and published an ebook series.

There are so many conflicting opinions out there about everything related to publishing: e-book pricing, book promotion, social media usage etc. How do you sort through it all to figure out what works best for you?

It’s true, there’s a LOT to wade through and it can be overwhelming, especially to a new writer. Just try different approaches to find the one that you’re most comfortable with. If you hate Twitter, create a Facebook page instead. If you hate writing a blog post, let book bloggers know you’re available to answer interview questions or provide an excerpt from your book.

Many authors are happy to share what worked – and what didn’t – with other writers. Romance Writers of America publishes lots of useful tips on marketing and promoting your book. There’s also plenty of good information on the Internet.

You have to find what works for YOU, and for your book. Be creative. Themed giveaways that fit your book are a great approach. For the Dating Mr Darcy books, I offered a British Barbie and assorted “Keep Calm” notepads, page clips, and a pocket organizer, in addition to my latest ebook. Have fun with it, and your audience will have fun, too (and hopefully, buy your book!)

Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

Decide what works best for you. If you work well independently, if you want to control everything from the cover design to the formatting and pricing of your book, you might want to self-publish.

If you prefer to focus on writing and wish to leave book cover design, editing, and formatting to others, you might prefer the traditional publishing route. Just be aware that promotion is still largely your responsibility. You may be assigned a publicist or a marketing liaison; you may not. Be prepared to market your books yourself.

What have you done to market your novel and what did you find the most effective? The least effective?

I think blog tours are one of the most effective ways to gain new readers for your books. You get exposure to a whole new audience who otherwise might not find you. You can share an excerpt from your book, or provide teasers about an upcoming release. You can participate in cross-genre blog tours with other authors. It’s fun, and a win-win for writers and readers.

Least effective? DON’T run a constant stream of links to your books on Twitter or Facebook. Just. Don’t. And giveaways can either be very effective or a complete waste of time. Themed giveaways are good; so are those that are open to everyone. Keep the rules simple. Don’t make contestants jump through a lot of hoops to enter, or they won’t bother. Make it easy, and fun.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

To play bass guitar! I’ve always wanted to do that. I want to be Tina Weymouth.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

That I suck at cooking. I’m an ace baker, and I make my own pizza dough and spaghetti sauce, and my lasagna is to die for. But beyond that? I’m hopeless.

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

In my junior year of high school, I took a course called Film Production. For the first half of the semester we watched films – Showboat, The Night of the Generals, Singing in the Rain, Chariots of Fire – and then we discussed them. We examined how scenes were edited and paced – short and fast for action sequences, longer for quieter scenes, etc. We learned that the film editor took miles of footage and cut and spliced it all together into a cohesive, compelling whole.

I learned to look at movies in a whole new way. Why did the director choose black and white versus color? Why was a particular scene shot in slow motion? How did those choices affect the drama, the tension, the pace of the film?

I learned to apply those lessons to books as well. I’m a visual person, and I ‘see’ my books as films inside my head. So wherever you are, Mr. Singleton – thank you. You rocked that class.




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After college, Alan spent the next twelve years as a law enforcement officer, with a two-year hiatus in Berlin, Germany, contracted to US military. After law school, he was a prosecutor then a criminal defense attorney. He and his wife, Lillian, reside in the Austin, Texas area.

Time to chat with Alan!

What is your latest book?

My latest book is titled Cornered and is expected to be released by late spring or early summer. The story follows a Texas detective as he works to solve the mysterious disappearances of seven professional women while trying to exorcise a demon from his past. He faces off against an organization that always seems to be one step ahead. When he gets too close, he steps into the cross-hairs of a professional cop killer.

Is your recent book part of a series?

The manuscript I’m writing now, titled Rampage, is a sequel to my first title, Price of Justice. It’s set about three years after the ending time frame of Price of Justice. In it, the protagonist detective has to deal with temptation – he has a very pretty and single female partner – and trust issues – he’s in a long-distance relationship with the heroine/co-protagonist from the first novel, while working a series of murders committed by a gang. His worries ratchet up several notches when the gang attacks his home where he lives with an eight-year-old daughter.

Price_of_JusticeDo you use a pen name? If so, why?

I use the pen name of Alan Brenham. This matter arose when I discovered that another attorney named Alan Behr (New York) had also written a book. We’re probably distant relatives but I never explored it. He had the domain name of so my wife came up with the name Alan Brenham, using my name and the name of a nearby Texas city where Blue Bell Ice Cream is made.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

I always plan out both the working title and the ending before I begin writing the manuscript. Most of the time, it doesn’t end up as planned. In my first novel, Price of Justice, I set up a non-Hallmark Channel ending but changed it to a satisfying ending after all the trials and tribulations I had put the protagonists through.

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’ve done it both ways. Usually the first draft is finished before I’ll do any editing. But I have occasionally gone back to certain parts of the draft and either edited out aspects that don’t fit any more or add scenes to tie in with material written in later.

After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

That’s happened to me many times in the course of writing a novel to completion. Usually I’ll set the manuscript aside for a week or two and work on an outline for the next novel. During that hiatus, ideas and changes to the plot (epiphanies) emerge, sending me back to incorporate them into the manuscript.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

There are two in Price of Justice – Tom Zarko and Dorian Winters – and one in my current project, Rampage – Justin Cooper, AKA Mad Dog, whom I despise. In Cornered, there are three who come close to being despised but have one or two redeeming qualities.

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?

I have two readers who provide a lot of constructive criticism and suggestions to improve the story flow and plot as well as the fleshing of the characters. Other than my two readers, I do keep the manuscript a secret.

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

My writing day begins about 7:00 in the morning and ends around 4:00 in the afternoon. My wife makes sure I take plenty of breaks within that time frame. Coffee is an absolute must-have. Music is second. Every other day, I have a scotch in the afternoon. The chocolates and the wine come at the end of the day.

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

Writer’s block raises its ugly head every so often. My wife is close by so I pester her for suggestions. If that fails, I set the work aside and do something else.

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

I’m giving serious consideration to a fantasy/thriller hybrid with a totally different set of characters, social rules, laws, and government bureaucracy. I’m not going to delve into any greater details simply because I have none to give out at this point – no plot, title and ending. Another story I’m considering writing, in the same hybrid genre, would be a prosecutor with a whole different outlook on the criminal justice system.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

My favorite comfort food would be crackers and wheat wafers smeared with peanut butter. I’ll pile mounds of crackers and wafers on a plate and munch on them while I’m writing.

My least favorite comfort food would be broccoli. I’ve had a lifelong distaste for that vegetable in any form. The family German shepherd and I formed a symbiotic relationship whenever my mother served broccoli at dinner. He’d get treats of broccoli under the table and I cleaned my plate. A win-win situation.

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

The best practical joke I ever played on someone happened when I worked at the police department. I used to smoke cigars then that my detective partner detested. One day, I had left a box of cigars on my desk that he supplemented with cigarette loads. I lit up and got the shock of my life when the thing exploded, spraying embers everywhere. Payback came at the greatest time. He smoked cigarettes so I bought a can of loads and waited until he slipped up, leaving his pack on his desk. I figured he’d find the first two so I did three. Later that day, all of us went to lunch with the Texas Ranger captain. When lunch was done, my partner, seated across from the Ranger captain, lit up. I almost couldn’t keep from laughing as the cigarette blew up, spraying embers on the captain’s crisp, pressed shirt. If exploding cigarettes were a capital crime, the look on the captain’s face told me he’d have shot my partner then and there. Needless to say, he and I made a truce after that.

Since I was on a roll, I went after another detective and scotch-taped the end of the telephone cord that ran from the wall to his desk phone. That enabled the phone to ring but when he picked up (and he did…a few times) neither he nor his caller could hear each other. When he threatened to have the sergeant call the phone company, I removed the tape. No sense in ending up in the chief’s office trying to explain the nature of a practical joke to a man who most of us felt had no sense of humor and I didn’t need a no-pay suspension.

My other police-related joke came when I worked uniform patrol. Then, each set of car keys operated every single patrol car. So, one evening when calls were slack, my then-partner and I spotted the downtown unit parked in the alley next to a couple of bars. We parked across the street from the alley and I snuck over and drove their patrol car around the corner and parked it. Then he and I sat in our car and waited. The look on the two officers’ faces when they saw their car was gone was priceless…well, not exactly priceless, I got a day off without pay for that stunt. Neither our sergeant nor the patrol captain saw the humor.

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

My favorite TV shows are: The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Bitten, The Blacklist, Banshee, Strikeback, Longmire, The Originals, Vampire Diaries, Grimm, Arrow, Major Crimes, Revolution, The Americans, Orphan Black, Intelligence, and Motive.

What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?

The coolest surprise I ever had was a surprise party thrown by my wife, my older brother and my parents to celebrate my passing the Texas bar and getting my law license. I had decided not to wait on the Bar to mail me the documents so my wife and I drove to Austin to get them. We stopped at my brother’s house before driving across town to the State Bar HQ. Nothing anyone said or did gave me a clue as to what was about to happen. My nephew went with my wife and I to the Bar. I should have picked up on my wife’s asking a few times if I had obtained all the documents from the Bar, that maybe I ought to go back in and check to be sure. But when your mind is focused on something else, i.e., the bar card, things zoom right over your head. When we walked back into my brother’s home, I was greeted with a loud united shout of “Surprise”. And it was a surprise. A large banner of congratulations, signed by all in attendance, stretched from wall to wall. The dining table was covered with a huge carrot cake (my favorite), trays of cookies and other sweets plus a lot of beer. A great day indeed!




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EHH photo 1 head shot 2

E. H. Hackney is a retired engineer, now writer and novelist. When not writing he’s riding a bike, hiking or playing jazz guitar on the east slope of the Sandia mountains in New Mexico, where he lives with his wife and two opinionated cats.

What is your latest book?

I self-published my first book, By The Blood, Book One, Revelation, a fantasy, in September of last year under the pen name Geoffrey Ganges. It’s the story of Quint, a dwarf wizard and healer, abandoned by his mother as an infant and tortured by his stunted, distorted body. On a quest for a long forgotten enemy of his people and his own history, he is threatened by his companions, outlaws, giant wolves and ancient foes. As the wizard confronts his origins, his world is shaken. Of all the dangers he faces, his own kinships may be the most deadly.


Why did you choose a pen name?

There are two reasons I write under a pseudonym. First, my given name is Ewing Haywood Hackney. I couldn’t think of any name I could derive from that which would be a good name for a fiction writer, especially a fantasy author. I have gone by the nickname Hack for decades, which is no help. Second, I have started works in other genres. I believe readers associate an author with a certain kind of book. If I published a fantasy under one name, then wanted to publish in another genre, I would need a different name anyhow.

What else have you written?

I’ve had a number of humorous and non-fiction pieces published in local newspapers and magazines, but wanted to write fiction. I have written but not published a modern morality tale, and have good starts on a young adult book and two action adventures. But once drawn into By The Blood I knew it was the story I most wanted to tell.

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

This has been a revelation to me. I was an engineer in a previous life and trusted planning and organization. I had heard other authors say that their characters took over their stories, and didn’t believe them. I do now. Many of the events and elements in my book surprised me. I have discovered that writing fiction is not a process of invention but a venture of discovery.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

Writing is fun! Editing is work. Promotion is torture. (Couldn’t agree more!)

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

I begin with a detailed outline developed down to the scene level. I tend to follow the outline and write scenes in order, but sometimes jump around, especially if I’m stuck and another scene looks like it will be easier to write or I have a clearer vision of it. Often writing the new scene will help me work around the problems with the difficult one.

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 edit a little as I go, but for the most part I want to get the story down. Then I revise and edit several times. I do later edits in hard copy. When I believe the book is in relatively good shape I make copies and send it to my first readers. My first readers’ feedback reveals a number of problems and I go back to revising and editing. When I take commas out on one pass then put them back on the next, and can’t stand to look at the damn thing anymore I decide I’m finished. I confess to being a poor editor—especially of my own work. Even reading aloud I will miss the same mistake time and again. A trick that works for me in the later edits is to have the computer read the book to me. I will hear incorrect words, missing commas and even missing periods that I did not find on my edits.

After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

I never feel that I can be objective about my own work. So far I have written what pleases me—what I would like to read, and I don’t know how in tune I am with a modern reader. I rely on my first readers for that. In fact, in my instructions to first readers I ask them to tell me if they gave up on the book before the end and to let me know where and why. It was a relief when none of them did.

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

I like books to take me to places I could never go or through experiences I would never have, teach me new things and at the same time be believable and reveal a kind of truth. That’s a lot to ask, I know. The best fiction reads like the telling of something that actually happened, even if the characters are fictional, the world has never existed and all the events are made up. Many books today, movies and TV shows, too, feel fabricated to me. If you can see the wires allowing the hero to fly or part of the rabbits ear is sticking out of the hat, the magic is gone. I don’t like books that are too hyped. If your novel starts with the broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped hero, with three percent body fat, uncoiling his six foot six frame from a Bugatti Veyron, I probably won’t get to page two. I might add that I have read enough dystopian, post-apocalyptic thrillers to last me this life.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

I did a moderate amount of research for this book, and most of it was somewhat practical and mundane. I wanted to write a believable story about genuine characters in a real place, with its own history and culture. I used leagues rather than miles, and chose another way of measuring time rather than hours and tried to use older words for some common things. My main character is a wizard and healer; I invented names for some of his remedies. So a lot of my research had to do with what was a league, how big do horses get, what’s a hand and a stone, how far can a horse and wagon , or a sailing ship, travel in a day. Book one takes place over several months, so I studied what plants were in what stages of growth in different parts of a year. I did a lot of this research after the first several drafts, sometimes when I had found lapses and disconnects. I do all my research on line. I even use an online dictionary. My battered paperback Webster’s is missing too many good words.

This leads me to what I think is an interesting topic. My story take place in a fictional land—not on earth as we know it. The people would have their own language, lengths of days, plants, seasons, moon cycle (or not), and units of measure. I needed to invent some things to give the flavor of this new and different place,  but if there are no similarities with things we know, the reader will be confused, and I didn’t want to spend pages of explanation about language and seasons and what kind of plants grow there. I don’t have a simple answer for this, but I hope in my book I found a compromise that is interesting but not confusing.

Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

I am hesitant to give advice. Maybe I will be less so when I feel I am a successful author. I will say that, were I younger, I would have tried the traditional approach before self-publishing. But I’m in my seventies. Given the warnings that it can take a year of more to find an agent, if you find an agent, and a year or more for the agent to find a publisher, if they find one, and a year or so for the book to be published, I didn’t  want to take the time.

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

I write best early in the morning up until noon or so. I get up around six but need a mug or two of coffee to get my brain working. Everything else is optional. Music is an interesting idea. I love jazz. If I have music I like playing, I get into the music and it distracts me from writing. If it’s music I find annoying, it distracts me from writing. A lot of music wouldn’t distract me, but also wouldn’t help. I have an opinion, though. I am a writer after all. I think the best music for writing would not be that which makes you comfortable, but music that would support the writing you are doing. If you are writing a bar-fight scene, for example, I think driving blues or a quick country two-step would support your writing more than say classical string quartets. I have not tried this.

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

I suffer from getting stuck. I don’t like to call it writer’s block because once it is labeled it can become like an affliction and then an excuse. Sometimes giving my mind a few days to mull over the problem can work. Any more than that, I’m just loafing. I’m good at that. Often when I am stuck I think it’s because I’m trying to work the wrong problem—trying to force the plot or characters in the wrong direction.

Have you ever started out to write one book and ended up with something completely different?

The first scene of my book started as a short story I had intended to enter into a contest. I realized it was not appropriate for the contest, but there was much more to tell. I was well into By The Blood when I realized there was too much for one book unless I made it a thousand-page doorstop. That’s too big a book for a first writer, so I decided to make it a trilogy. I’m working on book two now. I did detailed planning for the first book, but by the end of the first draft, the book was totally different. I guess I could have simply said yes.

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

My wife and I live in ponderosa, pinon and juniper on the eastern slopes of the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico. I can step over three strands of sagging barbed wire at the boundary of our yard and be in a National Forest. We are regularly visited by raccoon, fox, coyote, bobcat, deer, wild turkey, bear and an assortment of  birds and hummingbirds in their seasons. We have talked about moving somewhere near water—Portland, Ft. Bragg in Northern California, Port Townsend in the rain shadow of the Olympics in Washington state, but it would be hard to leave this place.

What was your favorite year of school? Why?

I enjoyed the last three years of college more than any time before. I was not very social in high school; I was a nerd before it was cool. In fact my best memories of my high school years are the people I met on my first part-time jobs and playing jazz guitar gigs on the weekend. I don’t consider myself antisocial, but have always been more comfortable engaged in things and talking about ideas, than in socializing.

 What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Reading the Sunday paper in front of our woodstove in the winter is a treat. It’s hard to beat the first mug of coffee in the morning. My wife makes me laugh two or three times a day. I don’t think I have ever taken a bad hike. Walking a trail through rocks and trees always rejuvenates me, and it often helps me work around writing problems. I haven’t had a gig in years, but I still like playing jazz guitar.




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JuliaPhillipsHeadshotWhen I’m not writing, I’m reading. The fact that it is so easy to share emotions, experiences and adventures by almost by thought transference via the written word enthrals me. I try to lead a tranquil life in London’s last village, where I share a home with two young adult sons and three dogs. Fate always seems to have other plans.

Time to chat with Julia!

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

My latest title, a Young Adult Fantasy Adventure “The Griffin’s Boy” will be free to download for five days from lst March – 5th March. I’m ultra excited and hope every one of your readers grab a copy for their kindles or e-readers.


Is your recent book part of a series?

Yes, and although both stories are stand alones, Book 1 “The Griffin Cryer” (reader nominated runner up “Best Urban Fanasty 2013” eFestival of Words Awards)  will be only 99 cents to download during this special promotion.

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

Continuality: I had to re-read “The Griffin Cryer” in order not to contradict myself. Ideally, storylines of all titles in a series should dovetail. Some authors map out the whole series before writing. However, “The Griffin Cryer” was originally planned as a stand alone young adult urban fantasy. Readers wanted to know more about the mysterious rider. “The Griffin’s Boy” is his story. I never envisaged a series, yet now sequels, and prequels, are calling to be told.


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

“My other car’s a griffin!”

What else have you written?

Three titles in The Celtic Cousins’ Adventures: “A Raucous Time“, which is a complete boys’ own adventure/mystery and since this is the first in series, it’s totally free to download from Amazon, or Smashwords & their distributors. “A Ripple in Time“,  a time travel/paranormal romance, and “An Explosive Time“; a thriller set in London.

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

There’s one character who never fails to surprise: Wren Prenderson. But I think even he was astounded to be voted by readers into runner up place in e-Festival of Words “Best Hero” award 2013 for his role in “A Ripple in Time“.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

I bloody love it all! Although, there’s always that moment of trepidation before starting the story, a fear that the words won’t lay down on the paper properly.

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

Before committing words to blank screen, the story is a shimmering multi-coloured bubble. I worry that by taking too long to outline one scene, the bubble might burst, or change shape. Chapters are sketched out quickly – words just banged down any old order. Some draft chapters might only contain skeleton sentences. I’ll return to the first chapter, but even more important in my eyes, is the last chapter. I want to leave readers with a feeling of satisfaction. Is there anything more annoying than reading a great book, only to be let down by the suspicion that the author grew bored with their characters and so rushed the ending? I’ve vowed never to let my readers down in that fashion. Besides, I’m the story teller, and if I don’t know the ending, then who does? So it’s best to write the ending while the story’s still young. Going back to the first chapter, I’ve often laid down too much information, and that gets brutally chopped.

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

Because I like my beta readers’ feedback as the story progresses, I tend to send them several chapters at once. It would be rude to ask them to read anything that’s too rough, so I tend to edit as I go. I’d rather not – I’d love to be like Ian Flemming and just read the previous sentence written, and then take off again.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

I’m constantly surprised by readers’ reactions. Although my stories are easy-on-the-eye rather than masterpieces, every form of art is open to the viewer’s own interpretation: “The reader doesn’t read the same story the author thought they wrote.” That’s the beauty of books.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Inconsideration. It takes seconds to put yourself in another person’s shoes and ask ‘How would I feel if someone else did or said this to me?’ As the song says ‘We’re all someone’s daughter, we’re all someone’s son.’ Kindness and consideration are two of the most valuable human traits, and should be second nature.

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

l. Be a little more tolerant, a little less quick to take offence. (See above!)

2. Be polite to those who do the kind of jobs no-one wants to do – but somebody has to do. You know the ones – shop assistant – food waiters, telephone operators. I don’t think anyone chooses careers in those industries, they’re unglamorous, often thankless jobs. I can’t bear listening to someone bawling out someone in a service industry, who is unable to answer back.

Last week I was behind some lout who was effing and blinding at a hospital receptionist. ‘Please don’t swear at me, sir,’ she said. He said ‘I’m not swearing at you, just the situation(?!)’

So I spoke up and told him no gentleman would swear in the presence of ladies. To which he replied ‘then I must not be a gentleman.’ He’d bowled me the perfect ball. I looked him up and down and said ‘You’re certainly not a gentleman, in fact, I doubt that you’re even a man.’

3. The above, but double, triple and hundred times for the people who matter, family and friends. Don’t save the smiles and courtesies for strangers and work colleagues.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Having control over the telly’s remote, being the first to read a brand new book, diving into a lake or river and deep water swimming, freewheeling down a hill on a bike, someone bringing me breakfast in bed, trying on a pair of shoes, popping open a new jar of coffee, a friend calling in unexpectedly – the list is endless.

* * * *

I had fun answering these questions – some were very thought provoking. Thank you for inviting me over to your place, I’m very grateful especially as I know how busy you are with your own writing, and hope to read Mystical High‘s sequel very soon!

Lisette: Thank you so very much, Julia! It’s been an absolute pleasure and I hope to publish the 2nd book in The Desert Series by the end of spring.




Amazon (download free book samples)

Smashwords (Find Julia’s short stories and titles that are not exclusive to Amazon)


And finally, because she’d like all your readers to grab a copy of “The Griffin’s Boy” when it goes free from lst – 5th March here’s a universal link to the Julia’s freebie: The Griffin’s Boy: FREE