Theresa Snyder is a multi-genre writer with an internationally read blog. She grew up on a diet of B&W Scifi films like Forbidden Planet and The Day the Earth Stood Still. She is a voracious reader and her character-driven writing is influenced by the early works of Anne McCaffrey, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein and L. Ron Hubbard. She loves to travel, but makes her home in Oregon where her elder father and she share a home and the maintenance of the resident cat, wild birds, squirrels, garden, and occasional Dragon house guest.

Time to chat with Theresa!

What is your latest book?

My most recent publication is Shifting Agony & Ecstasy, the second book in the Twin Cities Series.

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

I have three series I am writing – the Twin Cities Series, my paranormal series, The Farloft Chronicles, my fantasy series, and The Star Travelers, my science fiction series. Each has its own particular challenges.

The Twin Cities are novellas, very fast paced. In those I want to not only tell a story with each, but I also endeavor to give the reader more information with each book about the setting, which is a place called The Realms. Several Indie authors and I got together to create The Realms. We wanted a setting we could all write in with some of our own characters and some cross over character – like the authors who write the Star Trek books. We all hope to write in this series for many years to come. Right now between all the authors there are seven books in the series and we have only been writing for a year as of this December.

JamesAndTheDragon_CVR by Sarah

Farloft, my dragon from the fantasy series is very well known on Twitter. He tweets the last Friday of the month. Folks know him, they look forward to his visits, they expect the same Farloft in the books as they find on Twitter. Because he is in his own kingdom in the books and not in modern times I have to be vigilant and not let his character drift far from how he would react to any question on Twitter. It has made his tweeting very interesting. He is over a thousand years old and very wise. He has been asked to solve problems, mediate disagreements and give sage advice on Twitter.

The major challenge for my science fiction series is consistency and continuity. I have been writing in that series since 1990. There are so many characters, that age at different speeds due to their alien heritage, and places they have been, that they go back to periodically from book to book. I have made a huge glossary of hundreds of terms, places, characters, plus a star map. Their universe is astronomical.

How did you choose the genres you write in? Or did they choose you?

I write science fiction because I love creating characters and building new worlds. Science fiction is a great genre to play in. My works are not highly technical. They are character driven like Josh Whedon’s Firefly series.

Farloft was created out of a desire to teach, but not preach to my nine-year-old nephew. What are the consequences if I steal? How do I be the best friend to someone? How is honesty and truthfulness rewarded? I mean, who wouldn’t listen to a wise old dragon?

My paranormal chose me. When we authors got together and started brainstorming The Realms we all decided paranormal was the way to go. The Realms is the place where all things humans think are paranormal, mythological or fanciful live. The other authors picked vampires. I decided I wanted to write a shape shifter. Cody changes from human to wolf – not werewolf, just wolf. I really enjoy my time crawling into a wolf’s skin and seeing the world through his eyes.

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

I used to think I had to write in order, but then I woke up one morning and had this great idea for a scene totally out of order – much later in the book. I debated with myself about writing it or not, but the characters were talking to me, so I wrote. You know, it worked out just fine. When the time came in the regular flow of the story, I just inserted it.

Since then I have purchased a program called Scrivener and it literally has you write in chapters that can be physically moved within the program to rearrange as needed. I hate to sound like an advertisement, but it is far superior to Word or any other word processes program for writing books. I would never write with any other program now that I have used it.

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

I simply cannot write a character unless they have a name. I cannot get words down on paper, or think of the way that character should act unless they have a name. I am the same way about a book’s title. I cannot write it without it having at least a working title. My latest book went through three different working titles before I settled on Shifting Agony & Ecstasy.

I don’t think I have ever changed a character’s name once I wrote about them. It has to be right from the start.


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

I have fifteen published books. Every synopsis I have written has been like pulling a dragon through a keyhole backwards. A synopsis is extremely difficult for me. If there was a service I could subscribe to that would write mine, I would pay a fortune to have someone else do them. It is so hard to put into three to five sentences what you have been writing on for months. To consolidate it down, make it interesting and yet not give anything away. It is an exercise in futility. Yes, they are inherently evil!

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

Before I became a published author last year in May of 2013, I did a little Facebooking and that was all. I would rather speak with my friends personally then post something. When I published my first book my students at school (I run the print shop at our local community college) told me I should get on Twitter to promote and build a community of followers for my books. They said it would be a perfect medium for me. I love to chat. They were right. It is like a constant party. I stroll in and someone is always there waiting to chat about anything from dragons to what they had for lunch. I love it. You dip a toe in the pool and the ripples spread. I have been on twitter less than a year and a half and have over thirteen thousand followers. On Facebook I have a couple of hundred and most of those are ones who followed me over from Twitter. Facebook is just not my style. I heard someone compare Twitter to a cocktail party and Facebook to having friends over for dinner at your home. I far prefer cocktail parties in social media. If I want to have someone over for dinner, I will invite them.

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?

I would tell that reader, as an indie author in particular, we need their reviews to help us find our audiences. When you do a review for an indie author you are giving them one of the biggest boosts they can have to promote their work. So, if you love something you have read, write a line or two, it doesn’t have to be a huge review. We authors are all taught the list of things a reader looks at once you get them to your page to buy your books: 1) The cover 2) The description 3) The reviews. If the reviews are not there a great book will often not sell.

What is the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?

About a month or so after I published my first book that was The Helavite War in May of 2013, I received a message on my Facebook page from a man named Max in Italy. He said he was lying in bed reading my book. Imagine that? A guy halfway around the world lying in bed reading My Book! That was the coolest. Still makes me smile.


What might we be surprised to know about you?

I am probably older than most of you think from looking at my photo, even though the one posted here is only two years old. I have had the opportunity to do many interesting jobs in my lifetime. Those jobs, and the people I met through them, have provided a wide range of experiences for me to pull from to write my books.

I used to say I had everything, but been in prison or been a nun. Now I just say I have never been a nun. I have held the follow jobs to today: dog groomer, zoo keeper, Fotomat attendant, hostess in a restaurant, make-up artist (this is where I went to prison to do the make-up for a documentary), retail store manager, retail toy buyer, book buyer, jeweler, diamond salesman, bookstore manager, teacher, dispatcher for an elevator company, librarian, law librarian, dispatcher for a Ford dealership, bookkeeper, paperback book distributor’s sales rep, legal assistant, marketing coordinator, print shop manager, and always in the background, ever present, author.

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

YES: What do you believe sets your work apart from everyone else’s?

All of my work is very character driven. I also think it is very well rounded. They all contain elements of humor, romance, adventure, and reflection. Like a fine wine you can savor on many levels.



Amazon Author Page




DESERT STAR, book 2 in The Desert Series, is here!


DESERT STAR: A Story of Restoration

I’m pleased to introduce Desert Star (Book 2, The Desert Series), which is a novel about the restoration of souls juxtaposed with the restoration of an abandoned theater. How’s that for an easy description?

Desert Star is the second book in my YA paranormal trilogy, and like the first book of this series, Mystical High, it is written as a standalone novel. My lifelong fascination with unexplained phenomena and the complexities that exist within relationships compelled me to combine these two elements for The Desert Series.


As a writer, it’s important to me that readers get a sense of my characters as real people, flawed in some ways yet always striving to understand and better their lives. One of the main characters in Desert Star, Larsen Davis, is gay and is bullied for being gay. Yet this book is about so much more. It is about several bullies, past and present, who, for no other reason than their own tortured souls, wrestle with their inner demons by attempting to destroy those around them. The story is also about how those who struggle as victims encounter help from others in unexpected ways.

As in the first book, Mystical High, readers will find a story with mystery, tragedy, jealousy, and prejudice. More so, however, in Desert Star, readers can expect to encounter character-changing moments that come about due to simple acts of kindness from others.

Although there are many side stories in this novel, for the purpose of writing the synopsis, I focused on Larsen’s story:

Larsen Davis isn’t afraid to stand up to those who bully him, but in a two-against-one situation at Mystekal High, it’s never easy. When classmate River Dalworth witnesses the abuse and intervenes, the two seniors become good friends. Larsen explains that he’s fighting another battle at home: his own mother, Raylene, bullies him for being gay.

When Larsen meets River’s mother, Arielle, and learns she is overseeing the renovation of the Desert Theater, he shares his dream for a career on stage. Soon, Arielle offers Larsen a job as her assistant, but Raylene is dead set against the idea of her son doing what she considers “gay work.” After Raylene gets a new boyfriend, Reggie, the bad situation at home worsens and Larsen has no choice but to leave.

Now working at the Desert Theater, Larsen feels the unearthly presence of someone in the long-abandoned theater. Meanwhile, as the theater nears completion, a talent show is scheduled for opening night. As it becomes more evident that the theater may have a ghost, it also comes to light that someone may be sabotaging the renovation and the show. Is the ghost real or just the handiwork of someone with a grudge?

Opening night at the Desert Theater sets the stage for a crime, never-imagined reunions, long-awaited explanations, and otherworldly miracles.


Desert Star is a novel for both teens and adults. Writing it was somewhat challenging in that I don’t use all of the vocabulary that I would typically use when writing specifically for adult readers. In order to bridge this gap, the story does contain mild sexual content and non-gratuitous profanity.

I think readers will find that this story is even more intricate, more character-driven than the first book, Mystical High. There are many characters whose issues add complications to the main plot. It is the intimacy of their interactions with each other, however, that foster their individual transformations.



Below are the links for both Desert Star and book 1, Mystical High (.99 cents) on Amazon (both U.S. & U.K. stores)

In the near future, Desert Star will be available in paperback and on other ebook sites.

Desert Star (Amazon U.S.) – Book 2, The Desert Series

Desert Star (Amazon U.K.) – Book 2, The Desert Series

Mystical High (Amazon U.S.) – Book 1, The Desert Series

Mystical High (Amazon U.K.) – Book 1, The Desert Series


Writing Crime Mysteries: Guest Blog by Christina James


Well, I’m honoured indeed to have been asked to Lisette’s Writers’ Chateau, where the dishy gardener is only too keen to show me his beds. Lisette also has a Bentley: he has the most amazing eyes and barks a formidable welcome, whilst Le Chat, the resident feline, takes her eau with delicacy and purrs as if I’ve been a lifelong friend. The châtelaine herself, of course, presides over all guests with the genteel refinement of the hostess of a superior literary salon, but then, you knew that!

She has asked me to talk about my writing of crime mysteries and I hope that what I have to say will be of interest to all visitors to the Chateau.

First, may I say that there are horses for courses and crime novels for crime addicts; I’ve read enough gruesome gore and nasty noir to confirm me in my belief that there is a limit to how much of that I and others can take and I set out to write for an audience which, like myself, prefers depiction of the psychology of the criminal mind to the painting of horror and the painstaking attention to police procedures. I wanted to develop character and use dialogue to point up the interest of interactions between people and, most of all, I sought to avoid stereotyping both detectives and villains.

In the world of my books, things are not cut and dried, nor necessarily tidily rounded off with everything sorted and satisfying. Life just isn’t like that. In a series, there are definitely some aspects that will be pursued in subsequent stories, but I still aim to make the books stand alone and have their own individuality, regardless of the presence of the same police personnel. So, readers of DI Yates know that I’ve used first person as well as third person narratives in two of the books, whilst in the other I’ve ‘got inside’ the head of one central character. I’ve also depicted different kinds of people to provide at least a sense of the human tapestry of the society of South Lincolnshire. As for the police themselves, I like to focus on different members of Tim Yates’ team; it’s interesting that Juliet has an enthusiastic following amongst my readership, some of whom were disappointed that I did not develop her much in the first novel, In the Family. Sausage Hall may go some way to address that.

Sausage Hall

I’m often asked about how I plot my books and this is a matter of huge importance to me, as my early unpublished work definitely needed the rigour of tight plotting. I try to fit plot design into our annual holiday, when I can escape from the interruptions, non-stop emails and telephone calls that my work-a-day existence always throws up. I have to spend time on clear thinking and working out how the layers of action will be interleaved and how to prevent the reader from guessing the outcome too soon. I’ve said many times that I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to writing, as, so far, I haven’t written chronologically and that has meant it’s all been much harder to control the detail and the connections. However, I’m always very much aware of the total concept, to deviate from which would of necessity mean significant changes to the entire narrative.


Readers seem to like my use of language and to enjoy the dialogue, so I try to include plenty of that, enjoying the cut and thrust of conversation, especially when I can create humour in the relationships between the police officers, for I know that what one reader has described as ‘zesty banter’ is often the way by which those hard-pressed men and women cope with the stresses of their jobs. Character voice is always important and quite a challenge when it is to be sustained from one book to the next – I’m acutely aware that readers pick up on inconsistencies and I have to revisit previous stories to check up on my accuracy.

I can’t avoid giving my work what some readers have remarked on as a ‘literary’ quality. As long as it doesn’t lead me into dense passages of purple prose, my style does lend itself to touches of irony, subtleties of meaning and elements of theme and symbol that help to tie the narrative together. I don’t want to have the sequence of events dictate the terms of the books, for events themselves, though of course important, are not my prime concern.


I’ve been delighted to have built up an enthusiastic following. I started out as an author and, although most people now know that I am the commissioning crime editor for Salt Publishing, I wanted to be read for my writing alone, not because I might be ‘useful’! For one thing, I think it’s vital that an editor has credibility; after all, making judgements on others’ work is difficult enough as everyone is sensitive to criticism. Having myself ‘been through’ the harsh experiences of those who try to get published is very helpful in handling difficult moments with authors… and there are plenty of those. I also wanted to establish relationships with virtual friends on the social networks as a writer, not an editor, and I’m so lucky to have formed many of those with people around the world. They are an enduring and reliable support; I enjoy interacting with them and doing my best with what time allows to support them in their writing endeavours. I’m thrilled when they achieve success. And my blog is my writer’s showcase; I aim to make every post as perfect as I can, as well as to convey aspects of my own character and opinions. Though I’ve never said this before, there’s a reference on the blog’s author page to those see-through police boards that appear on TV crime programmes and I set out from the beginning to provide over the entirety of the posts little clues to me and my real life that regular readers could, if they bothered to do so, use to form a complete picture of Linda Bennett, as well as Christina James.






Amazon Author Page (U.K.)

Amazon Author Page (U.S.)

Salt Publishing

Chat with Christina James (original writers’ chateau interview)




Kathryne Arnold holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology, is a licensed mental health therapist and a nationally certified clinical hypnotherapist. Ms. Arnold provides full-time therapy services at an outpatient counseling center in Tampa, FL. She is currently working on her third book in the Samantha Clark Mystery Series, which features the same protagonist as she moves through unexpected life adventures. Ms. Arnold lives on the water in sunny Clearwater, Florida, with Zoe, her toy poodle muse.

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

What I like most about writing is that I can turn into myself and get in what is termed “the flow”- an emotional and creative place where time melts away. I become one with my writing space and the written word, hours fly by without a notice. I had a longing to shape a tale based around individuals in my life that I believed would make engaging characters. I had a strong desire to experience a higher level of creativity, to literally produce something out of nothing – a fascinating and challenging endeavor I couldn’t ignore. The part I like the least, and the biggest challenge for me is finding a block of uninterrupted “me time” to engage in writing when I’m not mentally drained, or too physically tired. I work at a demanding full-time job, and being single means I have to take care of every other aspect of my life, leaving little energy left over for creative undertakings. I’ve been very fortunate in that I never experienced the dreaded “writers block.” I’ve been fleetingly stuck here and there, but mostly because something else was going on in my life that was taking precedence. But usually a good night’s sleep or some fun clears my fuzzy brain, and I can get right back into the work of writing.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Follow your own voice, your intuition and style of writing. Develop your unique method of putting words to paper, listen and pay attention to your inner callings. Don’t be swayed by others. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. This also holds true for editing, promotion, developing presentations, etc. It is obviously important to pay attention to experts in the field, those who have your best interest at heart. Learn to really know yourself, and then to believe in your talents, but do take sincere direction, recommendations, lessons from those who have gone through their writing journey before you. Be open, but cautious. Try not to be influenced too much by other writers that you admire, stay true to yourself. You will hear a hundred different ways you should do something. When overwhelmed or unsure of which road to take, and trust me, this will occur many times in your writing life, I suggest that you stand still, breathe, lighten up and guide yourself toward what feels genuine and honest to you.

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

That is a tough question, sort of like nature vs. nurture, and I have no definitive answer. But throughout my earlier school years, I did dabble in poetry and short stories, purely for personal self-expression. I experimented with a creative writing class in college, but never pursued my secret desire of a writing career, feeling the vocation was too self-indulgent, not sensible enough for my German blood. Over the next twenty years, I concentrated further on my work in counseling and social services, later becoming a licensed practitioner. Several years ago, due to a deep yearning to express my feelings in a more artistic manner, I literally sat down one day and began writing my first novel. The resultant book, The Resurrection of Hannah, a paranormal mystery, had been based on a series of powerful dreams, along with compelling and coexisting experiences that inspired me to create a story that would capture the strength of my emotions. Once bitten, I could not help but write my second work of fiction, The Fear of Things to Come, a suspense/thriller. I am finally in the process of writing another novel in what I consider a unique collection of adventure stories, the third in the Samantha Clark Mystery Series.


How do you plan your storyline?

With the initial writing, I don’t really map out a storyline. In the beginning I’m often just kind of daydreaming about my book, questioning where it might go. I sort of meditate and clear my head; then think about the past challenges with my writing that I want to resolve before really diving in again. I let ideas flow in and out and try not to censure myself too much, keeping my mind open to new thoughts and possibilities of where the book might go. After all that, I end up with a rough draft in my head, and then I really buckle down and start seriously documenting a major theme, character details, plot(s), point of view, etc. I use Word and make files for characterization, research, short descriptions of chapters, etc as I’m developing them. I’m big into organization and prioritizing generally in life, so this goes also for reviewing and editing as the story evolves.


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

Quite a bit of research and study goes into formulating the plot/subplots, overall theme of the novel, character development and any historical elements that might be of importance. I want any subject or activity mentioned in my books to sound realistic, and that I am relatively or quite knowledgeable about that which I write, depending on the topic. For example, when writing about the incredible garden at the manse in Massachusetts where the character Hannah lived (in The Resurrection of Hannah), I researched extensively the flowers, greenery, trees, etc. that would have been indigenous to the area back around 1785. It was important that I describe every aspect of the garden in a convincing manner, and it was necessary to find pictures/drawings of everything that was to be in this garden in order to be as accurately descriptive as possible.

Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?

I became aware a long time ago that I am following the writing much of the time, that I do not have complete control over the characters. Not with blind faith, but with a knowing that’s hard to describe. When I take my head out of the whole process and go more by gut instinct, the story and characters point me to where I need to go, the path it should naturally take. It’s exciting and fun to see where my mind and ideas lead me. Often this is when I write my best work and it usually makes the most sense, and if for some reason I later discover that it doesn’t, I can just delete it!

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

For the most part, yes. It’s always been beneficial to engage in Kindle direct publishing giveaways for my second novel, The Fear of Things to Come. A few times it hit No.1 in Psychological Fiction and Suspense, as well as the Thriller category in several countries in free ebooks. After the giveaways end, my ebook often stays fairly high up in the ratings, in the Top 100, for a length of time afterward, so I am now considered an international bestselling author! I also did a Goodreads giveaway for my first novel, The Resurrection of Hannah, and I sent signed copies to the winners, and in return I received more sales and several reviews from happy readers. I also do signed book or gift card giveaways during my book tours, and this is effective in increasing exposure, interest in my books, reviews and sales. Mostly, I just have fun doing it.

Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?

It’s a toss-up. My first novel, The Resurrection of Hannah, is a paranormal mystery inspired by true events. It was my baby, born out of a real need to tell my story of incredible experiences that happened to me, which still feels surreal after all this time. I wanted to write a completely different type of book for the sequel, which includes a serial killer, lots of twists and turns, murder and mayhem. I really wanted to know if I could write a diabolical character and sound convincing. Both books were a challenge in their own right, but I got to use several of the same characters in the sequel, which I loved because I ended up feeling very comfortable with them, like you do with old friends.

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

Not at all. To me that would be stunting my creativity. I want to allow my imagination to lead me by the hand, and take me to places that I didn’t know existed. I feel like the story and characters have the say in matters, not me. But I’m a very willing participant! The title is the one thing I most struggle with during the writing process, especially since I know how important the title is to drawing people into wanting to read your story. It has to make just the right impact.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Yes. Donnie Brickman, the serial killer in my second novel, The Fear of Things to Come. He was bent on revenge and wanting to destroy everything in his path, primarily the protagonist, Samantha Clark, which is basically me at a younger age, and her beloved boyfriend, Todd. It was fun and thought-provoking to make him an evil and pathological character, yet filled with many emotions and traits that Samantha also possesses, such as regret, fear, a relentless drive to succeed, a love of animals, etc. Two sides of the same coin.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I am Pennsylvania Dutch, born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. My father was a well-known and respected reverend, and he founded his own church in Bethlehem when he was in his early twenties. At times when younger, I railed against the deeply conservative and religious roots into which I was born. In the end, however, that lifestyle served me well, figuring prominently in the development of my writing and belief systems.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

I love the outdoors, so after work I love sitting on my porch with my toy poodle, playing and cuddling with her, and staring at the wide-open bay, a cool breeze flowing over me, with the wind chimes clinking around, just decompressing. Listening to the sound of nature all around.

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

I have so many comfort foods I can’t list them all here. I would say very cheesy pizza loaded with veggies, lobster pie and a perfectly cooked steak are my favorites. My choice for deserts would be white wedding cake and warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Least favorite foods are some of the PA Dutch dishes I was raised to eat, like chicken corn soup and turnip stew. Sorry Mom!

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

I now live in Clearwater, FL but have lived several places throughout my life. I would love to move back to Lancaster, PA where I graduated from high school, but that isn’t feasible right now in my life. I will always miss New England and living in Gloucester, MA, but I have no friends or family left there. I would presently choose Savannah, GA and Tybee Island, where my brother and his family live. In fact, if it works out with my new job, perhaps I can relocate there one day as they have an office in Savannah. My dream!

I love to hear from readers! The links to my websites/profiles are listed below:



Facebook Author Page



Amazon Author Page


The Resurrection of Hannah (Amazon US)

The Fear of Things to Come (Amazon US)

MANAGING A SERIES by Deborah Nam-Krane


My New Adult series The New Pioneers has a huge cast of characters. Each of the four full-length books is at its heart a romance with a different hero and heroine. That’s eight right there, and just about every character has a parent who plays a big role in their story, even if they’re deceased (two such parents are the subjects of my short story). Because no romance is much fun without a spoiler, that’s at least four more. And while not every character is going to carry a story on his or her own, it’s important to have friends who fill out the major characters’ lives.


In other words, I have close to thirty characters I manage in my series—and that’s just in the books I’ve published so far. Books five and six are going to open up into an entirely different area of the New Pioneers’ universe. The challenge there is to respect the history and important of the people who introduce them while making the new characters as compelling as our old favorites. (Then again, the last half is always part of our job.)

So how does a writer manage such a large cast over multiple books and with that many more storylines? In two ways: first, knowing the characters — second, always keeping sight of what the series is about.


Knowing our characters is our number one requirement when we are creating a story around them, whether we’re writing a standalone or a series. The story is not the plot; the plot is just the vehicle that we use to help our characters on their journeys. The better we get to know them, the easier it will be to understand the plot they need. As far as I’m concerned, all of the discussion we have about whether we’re going to plan our stories ahead of time or whether we’re going to write by the seat of our pants is missing the point. The majority of whatever time we’re going to dedicate to planning has to be spent on figuring out what makes our character unique and what went into making him or her that way. Just as in real life, that’s nature and nurture: figure out that character’s origin story and then figure out what pivotal events, however small, went into shaping him or her into the final form.

An Engagement  ebook cover

But this is also a series, and just as a book isn’t its plot, a series isn’t just a collection of books with the same characters in related settings. It’s has to tell a larger story. In my case, that story (as cliché as it may sound) is about the American Dream. Every character is after it, in their own way, and they bring their own talents and limitations. Jessie, Richard and Michael may be from old-monied families, but in some ways that means they understand better than anyone what it means to lose everything. Emily may hate Alex more than anyone else in the series, but maybe that’s because they both know what it is to be an outsider looking in. Mitch and Emily may butt heads as they play Will They Or Won’t They, but part of what draws them to each other is their shared understanding of what it is to be a second- or third-generation immigrant. Zainab may not have been born in the US, but she’s the breath of fresh air and energy that motivates everyone to stay positive and keep pursuing their dreams. And finally, there’s Miranda, an orphan in America who keeps her sanity by making an effort to connect with her father’s family in Israel (and that connection will come in handy for everyone later).

How is everyone going to realize his or her dream? By working together. That is the series, but for each character it means different things (some people have to accept help, and some people have to learn to get out of their own way). My challenge, then, is not only understanding each character, but understanding how they help—or hinder—everyone else.


I use the word “challenge” facetiously. The truth is that it’s exciting to figure out how my characters are going to walk in and out of each other’s lives and what roles they’re going to play. And if I’m completely honest, at this point I know these folks so well that I’m not making decisions as much as I am watching them play it out. My real work then? Getting to know the new characters my old ones demand to meet.

God, I love my job.

Deborah Nam-Krane’s latest book, Let’s Move On, is the fourth full-length novel in her New Adult series The New Pioneers. She’s been a guest at the Chateau before, to chat and to give her thoughts on how indies need to market. She’s very excited about her review tour with Juniper Grove Book Solutions this month. Please check out this link if you’d like to participate.




Tamara Ferguson is the author of the award-winning Tales of the Dragonfly Romantic Suspense Series, and a member of the Romance Writers of America. Her new romance, That Unforgettable Kiss, has just been released.

Time to chat with Tammy!

What is your latest book?

That Unforgettable Kiss (New Adult Romance)


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

Tales of the Dragonfly Book II: In Flight was recently announced a Romance Suspense Winner in The Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards.


Is your recent book part of a series?

Yes. Kissed By Fate (Book 1)

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

All the time! I write up a broad outline of my story, first, and then I usually go from there.

Over the years, many well-known authors have stated that they wished they’d written their characters or their plots differently. Have you ever had similar regrets?

Definitely. I wish that I hadn’t been in such a hurry to publish my first book without better editing and making more changes with the story (I was targeting YA when I first began, too, and then I changed my mind.) Those reviews still stick with the book even after it’s been revised and reedited.

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?

Yes, the names I use are important to me. But I do something very silly—I relate my stories and characters with my favorite songs. And my stories actually run through my mind like a movie!

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Oh, yes. And, for some reason, these characters are easy for me to write about. But my favorite characters to develop are those who appear to be unlikable on the outside, but actually have redeeming qualities on the inside. Maybe they were abused or molested … usually there’s a reason for their attitude or behavior. I guess because I search for the best in people, I want my reader to be able to find it as well.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

First-time authors should listen to their peers. Reviews are great, sure, but not always accurate if you’re asking family and friends. Although there are many award contests for indie writers, very few of them offer critiques. How do you know what you’re doing right—or wrong? The best thing I ever did was join the RWA. The advice and unbiased critiques I’ve received, after entering my books in several of their regional contests, have been invaluable, and (I hope) have helped me develop into a better writer.

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

EVERY time I’ve been a finalist or received an award, it’s surprised me. It usually comes at a time when I’m feeling low and asking myself—what makes me think I’m any good at this? My last RWA contest probably shocked me the most, though. The rough draft for That Unforgettable Kiss was nearly a finalist (2 out of 3 judges) & I received the best scores I ever have from an RWA contest. They are usually my harshest critics. (One of the judges indirectly used the p word J by mentioning she expected to see this one on the shelves.)

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 absolutely hate writing a synopsis. I think because my stories actually do have a lot of complications and subtle undertones that can’t be detailed in the bare bones of a synopsis.

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?

For every one person who doesn’t like your book, there are usually about five or six others who will. Also, there are people out there who are just mean-spirited. Keep in mind, you can’t please everyone!

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

That’s what’s fun about writing a series—you can bring back your favorite characters in supporting roles. Although it’s discouraged, because it can confuse the reader, I do tend to include a lot of secondary characters because I think it’s important for the flow of my, particular, series. I try to give my secondary characters a little more depth because many of these characters will be the heroes or heroines in my future novels.

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

Oddly enough, no writer’s block. My problem is not having enough time to write all the stories revolving around in my head!!

What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?

The important mechanics—like immediately catching your reader with action and dialogue, watching the POV, using too much backstory. I kind of jumped right into the writing after not writing for several years, too, so I had to relearn grammar and punctuation.

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

Anywhere but Illinois!! But this has largely to do with the funding & services available to my disabled son. Illinois ranks 51 in the nation with their ability to provide services and care.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I’m the full-time caregiver for my severely autistic and mentally impaired son, who also has Type I Diabetes. My life hasn’t been my own for several years. That’s why I’m usually at home to tweet the authors every night. But this makes it difficult to write and concentrate when editing. My son is constantly interrupting me J

What makes you angry?

The lack of regard for funding for the disabled, particularly in Illinois. My son is on nearly a twenty-year waiting list to enter a facility that will be able to provide him with proper care. And, even then, I’m concerned about the quality of that care. L I take each day one at a time, and try not to worry about the future.

What music soothes your soul?

Light rock & classic rock.

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

I’ve loved old movies since I was a kid. But Random Harvest and Mrs. Miniver are particular favorites.

I usually have favorite authors, as opposed to books—Mary Balogh, Linda Howard (I’ve read Open Season three times—I still laugh each time I read it), Nora Roberts & Grace Burroughs—among many, many others.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

My son, when HE smiles; although sometimes his giggling can drive me nuts when I’m trying to concentrate on writing or editing!


Tales of the Dragonfly

Kissed By Fate


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