Judy Probus, her husband, Bill, and extended family reside in Kentucky, “the Unbridled state” – a perfect place and state of mind for a writer of fantasy/ adventure. Judy possesses a B.S. and Masters in Education, experience in the performing arts and teaching, and has volunteered countless hours in the local school system. Her favorite hobbies include reading, listening to music, watching sports and movies, gardening, traveling, and learning new things about Earth and beyond.

Hello Lisette. Thank you for inviting me to your chateau. I hope something I contribute will be of help to someone on his or her journey down the writing road.

You’re welcome, Judy! Delighted to have you here. Let’s chat.

ImagiNation Unveiled: The Hidden Realm and its supplement contain eighteen character descriptions and additional sketches. That’s quite an undertaking. Where did you get the inspiration and motivation for this book?

I answer that question best in the video embedded in my e-book, which you can also find here.

Here, I will share that it was at 10,000 feet plus, during a trip to New York that I decided to write an adventure fantasy novel. One problem was that I wasn’t a published author in the traditional sense. I’ve long been a reader and a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S Lewis, J.K Rowling, and Rick Riordan. Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty was the first story to capture my young imagination. As an adult, I like to delve into history books and anything by National Geographic. But, until I began writing my most recent book, I’d only written a few children’s short stories and they lie undisturbed in a drawer. So, my decision to write a novel was probably a simple lack of oxygen to the brain at high altitude, right?! No, I think it was more than that.

You see, as a second-grader, I witnessed NASA and the rest of America send a man to the moon. The synergy was unforgettable and the impact impressionable. At the same time, I attended public school at a time when music and drama departments flourished. Both of my parents worked hard, sometimes multiple jobs, to provide me with the means to participate in curricular programs during and after school in an attempt to unlock my proclivity for shyness. They accomplished that and much more.

Somewhere between rehearsals, marching band competitions, orchestra pit performances, and stage curtain calls, I came in contact with dedicated teachers who taught me more than how to play a few instruments, twirl a baton, and dance. They taught me teamwork, sweat, sacrifice, community pride, and persistence. They also ingrained a rock solid belief in the power of the imagination and appreciation for the arts in me that endures to this day. I believe those extracurricular programs made me a more focused student on all levels. But, more than that, the friendships I encountered and the struggles I endured in those art programs equipped me with things you don’t learn while studying English, history, or math. They equipped me for life. Sometimes, I wonder if there might be a correlation between fading art programs, plummeting scholastic scores, and general student apathy in today’s world.

My children are adults now, but my passion for the arts remains and at 10,000 feet plus, I heard the call to create stronger than ever before. Through ImagiNation Unveiled: The Hidden Realm, I hope to spark the members of our young generation’s imaginations. They are whizzes at modern technology and I suspect there is no limit to the discoveries they can make and the places they can take us – but that’s only possibly if they have the confidence and willingness to explore their imaginations.

ImagiNatioN UnveileD COVER[digital][WEB]

They say one must lead by example, so rather than just spout words from the past, I decided to climb my own mountain by learning to write. I hope my journey and the stories crafted along the way can inspire others. One is never too old to learn something new and there’s no time like the present to embark on an adventure.

I began writing ideas on the back of grocery receipts. I quickly graduated to notebooks, then a laptop, which I promptly typed the letters off of while burning the midnight oil. People who read my story while it was being developed encouraged me to continue pushing forward. Writers on Twitter wished me well. Down the writing road, I met Matt Langan, writer, editor, entrepreneur, and technological wizard, who liked the story and supports my efforts to produce an exciting quality series. The project gained momentum and awesome folks including @ElicabeDesign (cover), @harkinsart (sketch artist), @BeyondGraphics, and my local Minuteman Press branch joined the venture.

What motivates you?

Several things. Positive comments and heartfelt messages from readers have touched me on a personal level that is hard to describe. Achieving my goal to write a novel was one thing; hearing how the story touched someone else’s life is… well, I’m sure you can imagine. Five-star reviews on Amazon are encouraging. Recently, I received fantastic literary reviews from, the #1 Harry Potter fan site, and, which fueled the fires to write the second book of the series. I have a two-year-old grandson and a six-year-old granddaughter who love dragons. And so, I write.

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

I like to write scenes in order. However, if I think the story will benefit, I will back up and replace an existing scene with a new 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 like to take one step forward and two back. When I write a new chapter, I like to re-read the previous two chapters and make sure everything fits together. This seems to save time in the long run and I find it to be an effective way to stay focused and even stumble across new ideas.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Yes, I had to tap into my dark side to create Vahdeema, an evil sorceress, and Stonedish II, her accomplice. It was great fun and an awesome way to vent normal, everyday frustrations.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

I understand the huge volume of stories created in our modern world necessitates a way to relate the essence of a story in an abbreviated form. I also understand the stress such a task generates for the author. I think the trouble with a synopsis is that they might not appropriately communicate the quality or the excitement of the story they describe. They can be cold, calculated, hyped up general outlines of the story at worst. To appreciate the true spirit of the story, I think one benefit from reading several excerpts or a few chapters from the book. My website offers six free chapters of reading and a few pages of free character descriptions from the supplement.

Maybe the following exaggerations will help demonstrate my point:

I wonder how Michelangelo would have reacted if someone asked him to reduce his masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel to a stamp-sized sample? Along the same vein, I wonder if a written description of any classic overture can accurately explain how the audible crescendos and fortes of the musical piece makes listeners feel?

I think a dedicated author weaves together words with the same diligence and care a seamstress exhibits when they hand-weave a complex quilt. The author knows his or her book is best understood and enjoyed in its entirety – or at least in excess of a handful of paragraphs.

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 am an early bird and a night owl! I keep my iPad and my notebook and pen on my nightstand, ready to jot down any new ideas that pop into my head as I awake or before I go to sleep. No matter how hard I try to manipulate my writing time into regular hours during the day, my creative muse works on her own clock. So, I am willing to write anywhere and at anytime. Typing in the passenger seat is a lot easier on roads without potholes.

My writing must haves are my beats, books, unsalted popcorn, and the occasional bits of chocolate. Most mornings, I crank on the tunes and start with a workout to jumpstart the brain. Often, I listen to music to inspire my mood or the character I’m developing. In general I like the energy that movie soundtracks generate. I did listen to a lot of country music while writing because my protagonist is from Alabama.

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?

In the competitive world of writing, I’ve learned that reviews are paramount. We live in a social media driven society. People constantly check their electronic devices and count on other peoples’ reviews. Reviews are the go-to shortcut for readers to find their way through all of the available lists of books.

Before e-books, people bought published books from their bookstore, which was in indirect way of communicating that the book was worth their attention. Now, with the prevalence of self-published e-books, quality varies substantially. Reviews allow readers to gauge if a book is worth their time and money. Positive reviews drive sales, it’s a fact and one that should not be taken for granted if you’re an author.

I think some people find the process of writing a review uncomfortable and time consuming. But, anyone who thinks book reviews don’t matter needs to be brought up to speed. A reader’s review is the author’s lifeline to the rest of the world. Their future in the realm of writing depends on each and every review, especially indie writers who have limited means of promotion. Besides, positive or negative, reviews help the writer grow.

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

Writer’s block is the dreaded twilight zone between the speed bump and the dead end. It can last minutes, hours, days, or longer. Yes, I’ve gone a few rounds with the invisible monster that threatens to suck the life out of my creative muse like one of Harry Potter’s Death Eaters. Panic is the first reaction, but that only makes things worse. Then self-doubt sets in and grinds down on the writer’s confidence. It’s not pretty.

My solution? Many writers stare at the empty page on their computers, hoping to force the stubborn block away. Through trial and error, I’ve found that method generates tension and tightens the block. Instead, I’ve discovered that I work best when my mind is relaxed. A quiet stroll, a hard workout, a drive through the country, or taking a break to do something fun usually unlocks my mind. In fact, I’m often surprised at the great ideas I get when I least expect it. Many times I’ve rushed out of the shower or pulled off the road to jot a new idea down. That’s the fun of creating fantasy. It can and does happen anywhere.

Do you miss spending time with your characters when you finish writing them?

I didn’t think I would, but I do. After spending so much time with them and being immersed in their day-to-day drama, they sort of became a second family. Putting the last period at the end of the last sentence of the first book in my series felt wonderful and sad at the same time. It was like saying goodbye to a close friend after a long visit. That’s what’s great about writing a series. It prolongs the goodbyes.

How would you define your style of writing?

Eclectic. I blend realism with fantasy, southern tradition with futuristic invention, nature with technology. Many locations in the book are inspired by real places I’ve visited while others are complete fabrications.

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

A lot of research went into writing the book. I studied online articles, books, and brochures about various locations and endangered species. I read National Geographic articles and recorded notebooks full of what I learned through my own experiences and travels. I studied pictures and additional information about some of the most interesting places on Earth and in space.

One particular interesting technique that I used to help me write the football game in the book was listening to a radio announcer call a football game while I was traveling from Alabama to Kentucky. I’ve attended many football games in my area, but listening to the radio really forced me to focus and visualize the game in my own mind. I think listening to the game on the radio strengthened my understanding of the game. I also picked up a few colorful football phrases.








Margie Miklas is winding down her career as a critical-care nurse by focusing on writing about her passion, Italy. Her blog evolved into two books based on her experiences throughout the country of her ancestors. Her latest book, My Love Affair with Sicily, takes you along with her as she  explores the country she loves.

Time to chat with Margie!

Welcome to my writers’ chateau, Margie. I’ve had writers travel from all corners of the world to visit me, but you’re my first travel writer. You have quite a love affair with Italy; how did it begin?

Thank you Lisette, for inviting me. I fell in love with Italy the first time I visited. Although I knew very little Italian, I had a sense of feeling at home there, and I knew I wanted to return. I was in awe of almost everything there, but I think going to the village of my grandparents really meant a lot to me.

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

Yes, I recently received news that Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair with Italy is a finalist in the 2014 Florida Writers Association Awards. I am surprised, humbled, and excited! For me this means more than selling books, because it is a validation of my writing by experienced authors, editors, and publishers. The awards are not announced until the end October, during the Writers Conference, which I plan to attend.


Traveling solo can be worlds apart from traveling with others. What is the most important advice that you give to people traveling alone?

I think it would be to immerse yourself into the culture. While a certain sense of independence exists to wander about on your own, you gain much more by engaging the local people, as well as other travelers. It’s easy in Italy because, for example, outdoor tables are placed close to one another; sometimes you may sit at a table with other diners. I am a people person, so I would begin a conversation, either in Italian or English, and found that I enjoyed the entire experience.

I also would recommend joining a small group excursion for day trips. When I was in Siena, I asked the concierge at the hotel about tours to the wine country, and he was more than happy to arrange one. The next morning a van was there and I had the most incredible day with travelers from New Zealand and Boston.

TreviFountain(Trevi Fountain, Rome)

What are some of the biggest mistakes people make when traveling, especially for the first time?

I think it would be overpacking. I did this myself, until I learned how much work it is to lug a huge suitcase on and off trains. Packing light is not that difficult, and since I stayed for several weeks at a minimum, I did a little laundry in my hotel room sink.

I would imagine that you keep a notebook with you at all times. Do you always know what you’re going to write about, or are there surprises along the way?

Since my books are non-fiction, I knew I wanted to write about all of my experiences. So yes, a notebook was always in my bag, and more recently, I carried a small digital recorder, so I could verbally record what I saw and smelled and heard as I was walking. That way, later, I could transcribe my notes, and along with my photographs, I could reconstruct my adventures.

Vesuvius(Margie by Mt. Vesuvius)

Many people get confused about money issues when they travel. Do I use traveler’s checks? Where is the best place to get the most for my money? Where is the worst place? Will I get a fair conversion if I use my credit card? What advice can you offer?

I can understand and I did a lot of research about the best ways to access money while traveling overseas. Very few places accept traveler’s checks today. The most popular way to obtain cash in euros is the ATM. Most banks charge fees up to $3 – $5 each time in addition to a percent, but a few banks issue cards that only charge 1 percent fee. I have a card from the online bank, Everbank, and have had no problems with it. It is important to remember though, that when you are withdrawing €250, it is actually around $335, depending on the conversion rate. Once, I tried to withdraw money, and was denied. When I checked my account, I had used up the funds, and hadn’t realized it. In that case, it is always a good idea, to have a second bank card, with funds available. That is what I did, until I could transfer funds to my card of choice.

For purchases, it is the same. Many banks charge 3 percent. I use Capital One and there is only a 1 percent extra charge. I know other banks offer this as well. You just have to check around. I would also recommend contacting your bank before traveling and advising them of the dates that you will be out of town and making purchases.

Amalfi(Amalfi Coast)

What is your latest book?

My Love Affair with Sicily was released at the end of April. It is written in the same style as my first book, so readers feel as though they are traveling alongside me in Italy. This book covers five separate trips to Sicily, and only during the last trip was I aware that I planned on writing a book about Sicily.

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?

I do think that an author must market his or her book. Social media seems to be one of the best ways to do so, and Twitter, in particular, is a great venue for networking and promoting books. I find the community of writers on Twitter to be extremely supportive, no matter the genre. Of course, when I published my first book in September of 2012, I didn’t have a clue. I took an online course on marketing for authors, and it helped me tremendously. It’s not a guarantee to sell millions of books, but if you don’t market, you can pretty much guarantee that you won’t sell many books.

GondolierVenice(Gondolier in Venice)

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

As I stated, Twitter is my favorite place to talk about books, but I believe you have to engage others and have diverse interests. Writers are people who like other things besides writing. I enjoy engaging with others on Twitter, talking about photography, music, travel, editing, grandchildren, and other topics. I use Facebook too, especially the pages, and I think that Pinterest is a great place to market as well, especially because of the visual power of photos.

The least favorite experiences with social media are having to block someone who is just too annoying. I hate doing it buy have had to occasionally. The occasional DM by someone looking for a date is also not my favorite part of social media.

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

I really didn’t start writing until 3 or 4 years ago, when I began writing for some online sites and then started my blog. I always liked writing though, and wrote limericks as a child. In high school I wrote letters to the editor and was the headline editor of my school newspaper. Years later I wrote a creative satirical newsletter for my ICU colleagues at a hospital in Tampa.

If you were to write a novel, what might it be about?

As a matter of fact, Lisette, I am currently writing my first novel, a psychological thriller based in a hospital. I don’t expect it to be completed 2015.

Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?

I think giveaways are a great way to thank readers as well as to promote a book. I did one when My Love Affair with Sicily launched, and my blog hits rose tremendously as a result. I think we all like to get something for free, so everyone wins. My blog is approaching 100,000 hits, so I plan on doing another giveaway soon.

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

For me, honesty is number one. I value the truth and a friend will tell you the truth, even if it isn’t what you want to hear. The other important trait I value in a friend is the ability to listen and understand without telling me what I need to do. If I want advice I’ll ask. I appreciate being heard, and I try to do the same for my friends.

What makes you angry?

I rarely get really angry, but when I do it’s with someone who feels entitled to something, or for someone who acts like a victim. If you want something better for yourself, you have to make it happen. I particularly respect anyone who has been faced with great challenges, maybe lost everything, and persevered to make a better life. I was raised with the knowledge that my Italian grandparents came here with nothing, yet they made a life for themselves and their families by working hard. I value that work ethic and don’t think much of laziness and the “poor me” attitude.

What music soothes your soul?

I love music and find it very evocative and mood altering. I grew up listening to classical music that my dad played on a hi-fi system he built from a kit, so I appreciate that music today. But I have a wide range of musical interests from Bruce Springsteen, to Billy Joel, to Motown, to Andrea Bocelli, to hip-hop.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Unfortunately I do and it is overindulging in sweets and carbs, like chocolate, cannoli, cookies, and bread. I am paying for it now as I am trying to lose weight and get in shape for my next trip to Italy. It is embarrassing to be huffing and puffing walking up all those steep inclines.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Seeing the energy of my darling twin granddaughters always makes me smile. Soon to be ten years old, they are the light of my life! I am fortunate to live close by and be able to see them often. They are one of the main reasons I could never live in Italy because I would miss them too much.









ElleBocaElle is the author of the Weeia urban fantasy series set in Miami, Florida in the United States. Growing up the only child of a monkey mother and a rabbit father she learned to keep herself entertained and spend time reading.

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

Unelmoija: The Spiritshifter, book three of the Weeia Series, was just published. Woo hoo!

In Unelmoija: The Dreamshifter, book one, we met Amy, the lead character in the series, and Duncan, her love interest. That book is an introduction to the Weeia for Amy and the readers. After discovering her Weeia identity and a rare ability, she is forced to become self-reliant and mature in a hurry.

In Unelmoija: The Mindshifter, book two, we learn more about Weeia ways. The story takes us down a dangerous and dark side of life when Amy and her friends fight powerful slavers to rescue Lilly, her college friend who has been kidnapped. Amy’s new ability comes to light. She finds the courage to help others at the risk of her own safety. At the same time, she discovers she can accomplish much more by working with her friends that battling alone.

In book three, after Loi, a young superhuman, is found dead under suspicious circumstances, Amy, and her friends agree to investigate. Problems arise when it becomes likely that Amy may have the same ability as the dead man. If she uses her ability selflessly for the good of the Weeia, whoever killed Loi may come after her. Should she risk her life and place her friends in harm’s way?


What are the special challenges in writing a series?

It’s necessary for me to see the whole story from the outset and make sure everything in each book makes sense with what’s happened (or will happen) in the other books in the series. In the first book, I set the stage I build on for the story that unfolds in the other books, and go on working from that foundation. The further along in the series the more aware I have to be that the story is continuous, that the dates match, the timeline flows well and so forth. I write the books one at a time over months or longer, but a reader might sit down and read the whole series in days. I’ve known readers who finished a book overnight only to wake up hungering for the next one that I was still writing.

The facts of the story have to match throughout the whole series, even small details can make a difference; and readers notice and challenge aspects of the story. It’s a good thing, I think. It means they’re reading with care and they’re paying attention. As a writer it’s a wonderful compliment because it tells me that they’re engrossed in the characters, the setting and the story. Something as minor as the type of water a character drinks might draw a reader’s attention. At some point the characters I created no longer belong to me, they belong to the readers as well, requiring that I pay close attention.

What I mean is that the more readers get to know the characters the more they care that their words and actions match a reader’s idea of what that character might do in a particular situation. The more vested they are in the series the more this might be the case. At the same time, characters may evolve during the series. This is especially true of the main character such as Amy in the Weeia Series. She won’t be exactly the same person in the last book that she was in the first book. I have to handle that transition with care. Too little change and the character is immature in his or her evolution; too much change and it won’t be credible. Totally bad characters don’t turn into totally good characters so that the evil witch never becomes the white princess by the end of the story, although sometimes there are exceptional circumstances.


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

So many! The story, journey, writing, and discovery of the characters inner thoughts and feelings. When the book is published I feel elated, excited and apprehensive all at the same time. Editing is my least favorite task and yet it’s essential.

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

Yes! For me, it’s especially helpful to map out the essence of the story before I begin, and that includes the end. It’s possible that the story will morph along the way, but at least I start out with a direction. This is particularly true with a series. I can’t easily get from point A to point B if I don’t know I’m going to B.


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

Both. I edit as I write and then again at the end. Writing and editing, editing and writing then repeat. That’s my cycle, ad nauseam.

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?

It’s important to me that the name fit the personality of the main characters. Yes, it’s happened that I’ve named a character and as I fleshed out his or her personality I decided the name didn’t match my vision of that character.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

The slavers in Unelmoija: The Mindshifter were difficult to write. That’s such a horrible side of humankind that it was painful to write and edit. I strive for some character depth, at least a little within the limitations of the genre and readers patience. This drives me to the conclusion that even evil characters have reasons, feelings, flaws and motivations. The more we see of those the more engaging the story can be. At the same time, in real life people are complex and multidimensional. As a cartoon I read this morning said, we believe what we want to believe. We don’t always know what drives someone to commit a crime or do something petty or cruel. Should we expect to have all the answers in fiction?

In book two, Fecundo, the head of the Miami slaver organization, explains he is in it for the money. Yes, of course there are fringe benefits, but for the most part it’s a lucrative business, he explains in one scene. On the other hand, he points out that there are people in his network who work for the sadistic pleasure of controlling or hurting others. Both are terrible deformed beings who hurt defenseless people because they can. It’s an ugliness that’s hard to fathom, and yet the reality is so much worse than anything I could possibly convey in the story, even if I had it in me to drop down deep enough to that lightless place where they dwell. Maybe that was more than you wanted to know…

Do you have any advice for first-time authors

When friends ask me about writing, I suggest they first figure out their goals. In other words why are they writing? Is it to fulfill a lifelong dream to publish a story in their head, because they seek a career change, to make a living, because they’re passionate about writing? Once they know why they’re doing it they can measure success which can be a number of things. For example, sales might be a measure of success. Another measure might be positive reviews, critics acclaim, the admiration of friends and family or the sheer pleasure of seeing your name on the cover of a published book.

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

Twitter is my favorite social media site. It’s easy and fast to connect with people in all walks of life across the globe. There’s a community of supportive, intelligent, interesting and engaging fellow writers there. The challenge is always time. I could spend half my day browsing Tweets, Twitter profiles and the links they lead to and never get any writing done!

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

I researched the geography of the region to describe the city in the series. Given that in an urban fantasy the setting is as salient as a main character it was important for me to paint a vibrant picture of Miami which is where Amy lives and most of the story takes place. In the book, Miami is a large area that in real life encompasses three counties with a population of several million people. In the series, some features are true to life and I modified others taking artistic liberties for various reasons.

In Unelmoija: The Mindshifter, I spent a lot of time reading, listening and watching interviews about the slave trade, especially in Miami. I remember in particular one interview on public radio in which experts shared tips with police and authorities on spotting victims at the airports. It wasn’t enough to identify them as victims, they had to follow the right approach to avoid spooking them because they were so afraid or under the control of their handlers. It’s hard to imagine and understand that those activities take place all the time and we don’t even realize they are happening, sometimes before our eyes because we don’t know the signs.

For Unelmoija: The Spiritshifter, Amy had to sing for her new ability to work. A rock band was the medium. I didn’t know much about the behind the scenes and professional side of singing or the ins and outs of a rock band. In addition to online research, several people who have personal experience as rock band members and fans shared insights with me. They were generous with their knowledge and time.

Is there a question I haven’t asked you that you would like to answer? If so, what is it?

Who are the Weeia?

The Weeia (pronounced way-yah) are superhumans living in the United States. They are like you or me in almost every way except that they have extra abilities. They live hidden among us unnoticed. Who is Weeia? It’s hard to know. It could be your neighbor, the person behind you at the grocery store, your banker, boss or doctor, maybe a person you’ve known all your life. A Weeia might be telekinetic, have super smell or ultra vision or one of many other extra abilities.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

Trains, planes, automobiles and boats.

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

It’s hard to say, there are so many… I love fruit. Homemade sweet potato fries (baked), French fries, and homemade cottage pie, though I rarely eat any, are up there at the top of the list.

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

The gift of life.

Okay, so maybe you were looking for something less existential? Someone recently gifted me a beautiful watercolor of a tiger. It was a total surprise, unexpected and generous. I smile every time I see the tiger because of the thoughtful gesture and because the piece is beautiful.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Cookies, cake and chocolate or is it chocolate, cake and cookies?

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Nature makes me smile everyday. A couple of days ago, I saw a mother limpkin (shy bird) with two young on the edge of a nearby pond. This morning, I saw two muscovy ducks engaged in a dominance duel in the pond. It was beautiful, like an elegant, and at times violent, dance in the water.








Veronica Scott

Amazon best-seller Veronica Scott is a two-time recipient of the SFR Galaxy Award and has written a number of science-fiction and paranormal romances. She’s also the SciFi Encounters columnist for the USA today/HEA blog. Currently published by Carina Press as well as self publishing, Veronica also holds down a day job at a NASA facility.

Time to chat with Veronica!

What is your latest book?

My most recent science fiction romance is Escape From Zulaire but I have a new SFR coming in August. Strictly speaking, my latest book would be Magic of the Nile, from my paranormal series set in ancient Egypt. I alternate my writing time between the two settings – SFRs set in the far future and PNRs set in the distant past. Here’s the story in a nutshell:

Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now. And then the war breaks out…


Is your recent book part of a series?

All my science fiction occurs in a future where the galaxy is divided into Sectors and populated by humans and nonhumans so the books are a loosely connected series. So far I haven’t written any SFR books using the same characters but never say never! I’m interested in telling the story of my hero and heroine in the particular situation rather writing a lot of galactic politics and/or scientific theory. My people live in their universe the way we live in ours – they use the blasters and the spaceships without having to think about how the technology works. We don’t explain to ourselves how an elevator or a microwave functions when we use them! I write strong female characters and my heroes are usually in the Sectors Special Forces, which is my take on the SEALs of the future. I plunge them into an extreme situation (the ship has crashed into something and is going to explode or the war has broken out and they’re cut off behind enemy lines) and over the course of the novel the characters work to survive, fall in love (since I write romances) and reach that Happily Ever After ending. But the journey is as dangerous and exciting as I can make it.

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

When I start a book I know the main characters, the beginning, the ending and a few of the major scenes. After that I’m writing by the seat of my pants, as they say. Sometimes the plot goes in a direction I hadn’t foreseen, or the characters do something I wasn’t expecting but the process works for me. I’m almost superstitious about the way my Muse works! I’ve also found that if I do an outline or think too much about the story without actually writing, then I lose the spark of creativity because I feel as if the book is done. Very hard to recover from that. So I might write a few of the big scenes if I’m impatient to get to them and then circle back to earlier events. At some point I put my head down and begin at the beginning and tie it all together. As far as a title (which was a subquestion to this one), I’m terrible at clever titles. My Egyptian novels are all Something of the Nile.


Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Write every day, no exceptions. And don’t fall into self-editing as you go. Edit when the manuscript is finished, of course, but if you pick at your words too much while you’re in progress, you may never finish that first book. A first draft is by definition going to need some rework and will have issues to be fixed. It’s ok!

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I’ve been writing since I was seven years old but didn’t start to seriously hone my craft until around 2011. Prior to that I was busy with my day job and being a single mother to two daughters. I submitted Priestess of the Nile to the Carina Press slush pile in early 2011 and received The Call from Angela James in August of that year. I was pretty incoherent on the phone with her – talk about dreams coming true! Priestess came out in January 2012 and my first self-published novel Wreck of the Nebula Dream came out in March of the same year. I hadn’t really planned to self-publish but 2012 was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, and my book is loosely based on the tragedy. I’d been working on Wreck before Priestess sold, so I finished it but there was no time to go through the submission and editing process with a publisher, not even with Carina, so I put it out myself. (I did have an editor.) Wreck became an Amazon Best Seller and received an SFR Galaxy Award, so I was pretty encouraged to continue the self-publishing route.

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?

Sometimes it’s like drinking from a fire hose, with so many possibilities. I do still work full time so I have to pick and choose what promotion to do. I belong to several author loops to stay up on the new and current trends, on pricing for example, or doing boxed sets. My approach is to only do the things that feel natural and comfortable to me. So I tweet all the time – I discovered I was born to be on twitter – but I’m not as big a user of Facebook. I love to blog, I love to do guest posts, I write a column for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, I try to do some judiciously selected print ads through the year, I do a few book signings…but I always have to remember to prioritize writing the next book, which is the best promo of all.

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

For the science fiction romances, I actually do some research. Since Wreck of the Nebula Dream is based on Titanic, I delved into all aspects of the sinking. Escape from Zulaire is primarily inspired by the Sepoy Incident which occurred in India during the British time there, so I researched that, more to get a feel for how it was to be an English woman, trapped in that awful situation where people you knew and trusted suddenly were out to massacre you. For my ancient Egyptians I do massive research all the time. I want to include as many real life details and settings as possible, to create a genuine feeling of being in the midst of events several thousand years in the past. I talk about historical accuracy and research on my blog.

If you were to write a non-fiction book, what might it be about?

Ancient Egypt, no question! I have a huge library of books covering all aspects of the history and the culture and I love to discover new things about their civilization.

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?

The cover is really important. That’s the first thing a reader sees, usually in thumbnail form, and you want it to draw them in, to intrigue them, to give a strong sense that this is a quality book. I work with Fiona Jayde for my SFR covers and with Frauke Spanuth of Croco Designs for the Egyptians. They both have a strong sense of what fits the genre I’m writing in, what art and fonts will convey the essence of my stories. Some people are talented enough to do fabulous covers for themselves but for the vast majority of us it’s better to hire a top notch cover artist and collaborate.

Do you miss spending time with your characters when you finish writing them?

Not really, because by the time I finish one book, I usually have several more trying to get my attention, so I’ll have started thinking about the next set of characters and their story. I do have a couple of sequels in mind though!

If you had a million dollars to give to charity, how would you allot the funds?

I tend to support charities that benefit either children (especially those with autism), veterans or animals. I’d love to give the Los Angeles Zoo a big donation to have a red panda house!

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

I love “Project Runway” in any form, also “Say Yes To The Dress”. “Dancing With The Stars” is another show I really enjoy. As far as fictional programs, I’m mesmerized by “The Walking Dead” and “The Big Bang Theory” is lots of fun on many levels.

Have you ever walked out of a movie? If so, what was it?

Only once have I actually walked out and that was “Anaconda”. Since I hate snakes, I ought to have known I wasn’t going to be able to sit through this!




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