JasonAlexanderJason P. Crawford was born in Louisiana in 1981. His writing career began in 2012, when he sat down for some “writing time” with his wife and sister-in-law. He has always been fascinated by the magic in the real world, leading him to focus most of his efforts on urban fantasy and science fiction. 

So far, Jason has published four novels: Chains of Prophecy, The Drifter, Seeking the Sun, and Cycles of Destruction. His life as a husband, father, and teacher (as well as hardcore gamer) has opened up and nurtured a wealth of imagination and given Jason a tendency to flights of fancy, and those flights give rise to his work.

Time to chat with Jason!

What is your latest book?

I’m currently in editing on two: Bonds of Fate, which is the second in the Samuel Buckland Chronicles, and Dragon Princess, a Fantasy novel.

What else have you written?

In order of publication, I’ve written Chains of Prophecy, which is the first Sam Buckland novel, The Drifter: Essentials Vol. 1, which involves demigods who represent basic concepts of reality, Seeking the Sun, a paranormal romance/urban fantasy involving Apollo, and Cycles of Destruction, a sci-fi adventure with artificial intelligences. All of these are the starts to various series…whether I intended that or not.

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

That we aren’t talented enough to be “really” published. That we’re hacks who are just trying to make money off of less-than-mediocre work. That we don’t care about our finished product. I’ve read so many supremely talented independent authors since I started my own career.

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

I also write in order, at least for the first draft. I write organically and “follow” the characters around through whatever it is they’re doing…and that’s how I write it. When I edit, I might add scenes here and there, rather than chronologically, but the first draft is always straight through the story.


Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Write. Write some more. Drink some water or tea or coffee and write more. Seriously, schedule some time virtually every day to write. Even if you only get a few hundred words in a day, you’ll get there!

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’ll share tiny little pieces of my work as I go through it, especially if I’ve written something I’m very proud of, but otherwise I don’t let anyone see the whole thing until I’ve edited the first draft once. It’s important that I can create the work without undue input from others at first. So, the second draft is for my beta readers.

Cycles of Destruction kindle copy

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

I started writing about two and a half years ago, in September of 2012. I had done some creative writing in high school and such years before that, but had never really seriously considered writing as something I might want to do. It wasn’t until my sister-in-law suggested “writing night” that I found out how much I loved doing it. I finished the first draft of The Drifter and went right into working on another book.

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?

First, ignore any part of it that’s a personal attack. That has nothing to do with you. Next, mine it for information you can use. Does it talk about your formatting? Check that. Spelling and grammar? Look it over again. Last, do not, I repeat, do NOT respond to a negative review, no matter how unfair it might seem. There is no faster way to tank a burgeoning writing career than to get into an “author vs. reviewer” scuffle.

Have you been involved with the Kindle Direct Program? If yes, do you believe it’s worthwhile?

All of my books are available through KDP. I absolutely believe it’s worthwhile – it’s inexpensive, easy to use, and pays a good chunk of royalties.

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

I have almost no control over what the characters do…at least, not in the first draft. They run the show, and I follow around and write it down. I’ve been surprised, shocked, amazed; there was a time once in The Drifter that I had to walk away from the computer for about half an hour because of something the protagonist was about to do.

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?

Your reviews are a communication to other customers. You’re telling the world what this book meant to you, how you received it, what you thought of it. By speaking up, you can help steer the people who will like it towards it, while warning off those who might be wasting their time. It’s a worthwhile endeavor.

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

I just wish I had the writing experience that I do now. My earlier books would have come more easily, more confidently, needed fewer revisions and been more powerful.

Care to brag about your family?

I’ve been married for over ten years and have three sons, ages 8, 5, and 2. My wife is incredibly talented and multifaceted-she’s my primary beta reader, my first editor, my cover designer-and she’s writing her own books too!

What might we be surprised to know about you?

That I was in the Army for six years as a cryptologic linguist, intercepting communications. I’m not allowed to talk about the specifics for another forty-four years or so.

What music soothes your soul?

Any music with a story inside. I love songs from Lorenna McKennitt, Meat Loaf, anything that’s epic and has something going on with it.

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

Oh, that’s tough. My favorite film of all time might be Watchmen, because it’s such an interesting look at superheroes and I love superheroes in all forms. Yeah, especially with the duality represented by Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan. For my favorite book…I’m very partial to the Mallorean series by David Eddings. I remember distinctly how, in high school, I would go to the library, check one of them out, then return it the next day for the next book…and when I finished the series, I’d start over again.

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

Talk to each other more-and not just in texts and emails and Facebook messages, but actual conversations with other human beings. It reminds us that we’re all part of the same species, all the same but for a few superficial differences. Second, read more. With the hectic pace of our lives and the emphasis put on succeeding, whatever that means, reading is an escape, a way to experience something you don’t have the opportunity to experience normally. Third, create something. Be it writing, painting, poetry, carpentry, or whatever, it’s within each of us to create…but that talent, that urge, is often stifled and it expresses itself in pained, unhealthy ways at times.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Listening to Weird Al Yankovic while I write. I dance, bob, grin like a loon and draw weird looks from my writing partners.





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Nicole Storey is an award-winning author of MG fantasy and YA paranormal books. She resides in Georgia with her husband and their two children.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

I write in the genres of MG fantasy/paranormal and YA paranormal. The genres definitely chose me. I’ve always been intrigued by things that can’t be explained, Cryptozoology, magic, the “boogeyman”… LOL! I was the child who never wanted to take the Halloween decorations down.

Grimsley Hollow-The Chosen One-web

I know that autism awareness is very important to you. Can you talk a bit about this and how you have included autism in your books?

My son was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. His middle school years brought social problems, the realization that he was “different,” and bullies. I wanted to create a series where kids could learn about autism in a creative way. I hope, after reading the books, they understand that special needs kids want the same things they do: to have friends and be accepted. I also wanted to show autism in a realistic light and give special-needs kids his or her own hero to cheer for. After all, not all heroes wear capes.

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

I was relieved when I received my first negative review. It authenticated my work and justified my place as a “real” author. If you put your work out for the public to read, bad reviews are inevitable. You simply can’t please everyone. My advice is to ignore them and move on. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

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?

For me, cover design is just as important as the story. The cover is the first thing readers see. It should mesmerize them, grab them by the throat and insist they take a closer look. I’m actually obsessed with beautiful covers. I love to browse online and in book stores.

Blind Sight web page

How would you define your style of writing?

I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of writer. I don’t use outlines; I refuse to color between the lines, and I’m not afraid to poke sleeping bears.

Do you know anyone who has ever received any auto DM on Twitter (with a link) who was happy about it?

Ha ha! No, and I hate those myself. If I want to like your Facebook page, download your book, or meet your sweet adorable dog, I’ll do so. I don’t need a message with instructions.

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

That being signed with a traditional publisher does not equal bags of money and a house on Easy Street. That many small press “publishers” have no idea what publishing is. That blurbs were invented by Satan, right after he finished creating edits. J

What is your latest book?

I recently republished a MG fantasy series, Grimsley Hollow, but my latest book is the first in my YA paranormal series, the Celadon Circle. The book is titled, Blind Sight, and the series is loosely based on the popular television show, Supernatural.
It has done well, winning several awards and also hitting the Amazon paid bestseller list in two categories a while back. The second book is due for release this year.

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

Dive in, Shut up, and Hold on!

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

I think the greatest misconception is that we can’t write.
Self-publishing platforms are wonderful in that they allow writers to bypass traditional avenues and get their work into the public eye. The problem lies with those who refuse to have their books professionally edited. They give the rest of us a bad name. Just because your best friend, who is an avid reader when she isn’t passing out shoes at the local bowling alley, read your story and pronounced it “as good as Stephen King’s book, Koojoe” (yes, I saw this in an actual synopsis) doesn’t make it so.

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

I’m OCD when it comes to writing. I have to write scenes in order and can’t work on more than one book at a time.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

When I finished my first book, I made the mistake of signing with a small press publisher who didn’t know the definition of the word. After two years of heartache, poorly edited books, and zero support (I could go on and on), I decided not to re-sign and went out on my own. Four stolen book covers, a boatload of tears and money, and 14 months later, all of my books were republished by me. It was a hard lesson to learn, and I don’t know that I could ever trust a small press publisher again, but it made me a stronger person and writer.

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

One reader gave me a bad review because my book was not like the Twilight series. I’m still puzzling over that one. Another stated I clearly knew nothing about autism. LOL!
I try to focus on the positives and let the negatives roll off my back.

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

I’m still trying to find what works best for me. Usually, I get the first draft written before I begin edits.

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 think every writer has to do what’s best for him or her. My only advice would be to research a company thoroughly before making a commitment. Talk to authors who are signed with the publisher and ask for their honest opinions. Use Google to see if anything negative pops up. Ask questions!

For every legitimate publishing company, there’s at least two that are not. Be cautious, do your homework, and remember that an honest publisher will never request money from your pocket.

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

I would love to be able to paint or draw and crochet. My husband is the artist in the family and my daughter takes after him. I can’t even manage a decent stick figure. LOL!

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

I don’t have a lot of time for T.V. but I make sure to record are Supernatural, Longmire, and The Walking Dead. At night, I usually have Forensic Files on in the background while I work.

If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?

I would love to have my own workspace/office. I would decorate it in fall colors and have an antique refectory table for my desk. There would be a sitting area with a television, bookshelves galore, a bathroom, small refrigerator, my coffee maker, and a locking door.

If you ever see my face on a milk carton, just know my family reported me missing and I got my office. 🙂

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

Don’t laugh, but my favorite movie is Jaws. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!
I have two favorite books: C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Drinking coffee, planting flowers and vegetables on a sunny day, autumn and Halloween, football and chili, a harvest moon, and my children’s laughter.





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THE ACCIDENTAL SERIES – Guest post by Katie Oliver

The Accidental Series

Lisette has graciously invited me to visit her Writers’ Chateau once again, to talk about writing a series – in my case, writing a romantic comedy series.

Confession: I’m probably the worst person on earth to address this subject…because my first three books (Dating Mr Darcy) didn’t start out as a series. They were just three novels with a few overlapping characters, characters I found interesting and fun and wanted to write about. It all started like this:

What if, I mused, a British family owns a long-established department store, Dashwood and James. Due to unforeseen economic circumstances, the store falls on hard times. And what if an arrogant but astute businessman (think Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsay) is brought in to help the store…and clashes immediately with the family’s spoilt daughter, Natalie?

And I was off and running.

When I wrote Prada and Prejudice and the next two books, I didn’t follow any ‘rules.’ I didn’t look at any publisher’s guidelines. I just wrote what I wanted to read, but couldn’t find on the shelves – romantic comedy with some menace and/or mystery thrown in. I wrote all three books while still working full time – don’t ask me how. I look back, and I really don’t know how I did it.

Folders(These were my working folders for the first three books in the Dating Mr Darcy series. I found the  Izak Zenou folders at Target. Score! Pretty, sassy, and perfect for storing all of my story notes, photos, and editorial letters.)

It was just something I felt I had to do. The kids were grown, and I had a strong ‘it’s now or never’ feeling (with apologies to Elvis). So I let my imagination take off, and I wrote every chance I could – in a tiny pocket notebook before mass (I know, bad), on legal pads at work (again, bad), and hunched over my laptop at home. I had the fever (with apologies to Peggy Lee and Christopher Walken).

I kept track of the characters and plot points in a spiral notebook, one for each book, and I saved any articles, interviews, or research notes related to the story in folders and a three-ring binder. I bought poster boards and made a collage of photographs of people who resembled my characters, and hung it near my desk for visual inspiration whenever my imagination flagged.

Folder 2Working folder for book two in the Dating Mr Darcy series, Love and Liability.

When I finished Prada and Prejudice, I began writing the second book. A few things that inspired me at the time included Mara Rooney’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; a segment on Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word program about “freegans” – people who skip-dive for a living because it’s (a) free and (b) helps reduce food waste; The September Issue, a documentary which offered a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Anna Wintour and Vogue magazine; episodes of Law and Order UK; payday loans; and the British media’s mobile phone hacking scandal.


When I started the second series, Marrying Mr Darcy, I needed ( you guessed it) more folders. These three kept me semi-organized while writing And the Bride Wore Prada, Love, Lies and Louboutins, and Manolos in Manhattan. And they were pretty to look at. Win-win.

Somehow, all these disparate things became Love and Liability, my second book.

Once again, I saved articles. I clipped photographs. I watched films and programs related to my research. Then…I wrote. I stopped to consult the previous book whenever I needed to search for the name of Lady Whatsit or recall the birth date of a secondary character’s sister or confirm where someone went to school/got married/grew up. It was random and disorganized and it drove me batty.

And it struck me then that perhaps I had gone about this the wrong way.

I had a lot of information and plenty of research material…but no system to keep track of it all, no method for detailing my characters’ bios and backgrounds. I carried on in this haphazard manner and finished book two.

KO_Photos_WallThis is my “mood board” for Prada and Prejudice – it’s on the sloping wall next to my under-the-eaves writing desk.

Halfway through the third book, Mansfield Lark, an amazing thing happened. Well, two amazing things. I acquired a literary agent who sold all three books to Carina UK, who wanted to publish them as e-books. However, they wanted to tie the books together as a series. So we started in the obvious place – with the Jane Austen-y title, Prada and Prejudice.

Initially, I was a little leery about this marketing decision. The books are ‘Austen lite’ at best – they don’t so much pay homage to Jane as give the occasional (sometimes cheeky) nod in her direction – but they do deal with families, and relationships, and romantic foibles, all of which I hoped readers (and Miss Austen) would relate to, and embrace.

I caught some flack from a few die-hard Austenites early on, and probably deservedly so. But when you’re a new, unproven writer and you have little (i.e., no) say in a publisher’s marketing or book-titling decisions, you learn to smile, nod politely, and go with the editorial flow.

The second series, Marrying Mr Darcy, continued on with the next three books I’d written, but with a slightly different theme this time – the titles would each refer to a designer (Prada, Louboutin, and Manolo, to be exact). Again, I had my doubts. Would non-fashion people know who Christian Louboutin or Manolo Blahnik were? (They’re French and Italian shoe designers, respectively, for those of you who may not know.)

But when I saw the titles and the gorgeous cover art that accompanied the books, I was once again one-hundred percent convinced. And with the release of the first book in the new series, And the Bride Wore Prada, I had my first best seller. Love, Lies and Louboutins became my second…on preorder, before it was even published.



The marketing wonks were once again vindicated.

So you see, I really am a terrible person to ask about how to write a series. I came at it from the wrong way around altogether, which is not the usual way to go about these things. But then I seldom do things in the usual way

Normally, when writing a series, it’s customary for an author to plan out the story arc for each individual book, as well as the overarching story arc for the entire series. There should be a “Bible” to track the various characters and their particulars from one book (and one series) to the next. There should be storyboards and index cards, and complicated genealogies and diagrams of family trees, and a lot of colored markers.

Of course, I did none of that.

But going forward? I think – no, I’m sure – that I probably will.

KatieOliverKatie Oliver loves romantic comedies, characters who “meet cute,” Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She 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.

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




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Manolos in Manhattan Blurb:

In the city that never sleeps…

Strutting down Park Avenue in her new Manolos, Holly James looks like a woman who has it all. But beneath the Prada sunglasses, Holly has a mounting list of decidedly unfabulous problems. Right at the top? The fact that since her fiancé Jamie started spending all his time at his new restaurant (with his impossibly gorgeous sous-chef!), Holly has practically forgotten what he looks like…and started to feel a teensy bit paranoid.

…shopping is a twenty-four hour job!

So when her old flame Alex suggests they catch up, Holly jumps at the distraction. After all, what’s the harm in some window shopping? But when sinister thefts start taking place all over the city, the Big Apple begins to feel like a dangerous place…and Holly can’t help being relieved to have capable, commanding Alex so close by. Suddenly, Holly’s window shopping is veering worryingly close to an impulse buy! But would giving into temptation be an investment…or the biggest mistake of her life?


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Katie’s Writers’ Chateau Interview


headshots, kids, portraits children

Jennifer Jaynes is the USA Today bestselling author of Never Smile at Strangers and Ugly Young Thing.

What is your latest book?

Ugly Young Thing. It’s about Allie, a disturbed sixteen-year-old orphan, who was raised by her serial killer brother. After he commits suicide, a very kind older woman named Miss Bitty takes her in and promises to give her a brighter future.

It takes Allie a while to open up and trust Miss Bitty, to even believe that it’s possible she could ever be happy since death and unhappiness have always been such a big a part of her life.

Eventually Allie learns to trust the old woman—she even learns to love her—but with women in the area turning up dead and Miss Bitty suddenly growing cold and distant, Allie begins to wonder if death has found her yet again…or if it ever really left her at all.


Is your recent book part of a series?

Ugly Young Thing includes some important crossover characters from my first book, Never Smile at Strangers, and picks up where it ends, so it will be familiar to those who have read the first book, but it can definitely be read as a standalone.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

I’d say it chose me. Mysteries, particularly thrillers, are the genres that grabbed me most as a young reader.

What else have you written?

Never Smile at Strangers. It’s a serial killer thriller that begins with the disappearance of a nineteen-year-old girl in a rural Louisiana town. What I really love about this book is that we’re able to really get into the killer’s head to see his thought process and understand why he kills.


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

That they aren’t as talented as traditionally published authors. Some may not have had the opportunity—or perhaps have rejected the opportunity—to traditionally publish. Today, many indies are rejecting contracts. I interviewed Barry Eisler a few years back. He turned down a $500,000 contract from a Big 5 publisher in order to publish independently and has never looked back.

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

I like when my mind suddenly works out a story problem… or comes up with a great idea for a plot line. Those times are the best.

The least: Getting started and working through the first couple of drafts. That’s when I really have to make myself stay on task.

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

I’ve never written scenes in order. I generally start with the first and last scenes. I also spend weeks on the outline, filling in information as it comes to me, or transcribing notes that I’ve previously made.

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

Yes, I always know the ending before I actually start. I like to know the beginning as well. The title is unimportant.

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 try not to edit as I go. I want to keep the thoughts coming fast and fluid, and to keep using the left side of my brain.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Yes, I really despised a couple of characters.  One was Tom Anderson in Never Smile at Strangers. He was the philandering husband of a college professor I was really pulling for. There’s also a character in Ugly Young Thing, but I can’t mention the person’s name here. 😉

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

I think a lot of authors go wrong in their packaging. Their stories may be well written, intriguing, and meticulously edited, but then they choose to create their own book covers, or settle for covers that aren’t attention grabbers.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Learn how to market yourself.

Write every day.

Never rely on memory.

I can kick myself for all the times I didn’t write down an idea, a plot twist, some fantastic imagery, or some other important note about a character or his world when it came to me. Thoughts often fly into my mind, then dissolve—and are later completely irretrievable. Don’t make the same mistake. Carry a notepad, use an app on your phone; do whatever it takes to preserve your ideas. You never know what might turn into gold.

Don’t be afraid to self publish. It took many years for me to finally make the jump, but I am so incredibly glad that I finally did.

Do you have any secrets for effective time management?

I work from a To Do List and break tasks down to 30-minute chunks (or sub-tasks). My timer goes off all day long, and I’m sure my husband (who also works from home) hates it, but the timer helps me stay focused and productive. By doing this, I’m able to produce much more in three hours than most people generally produce in an entire day.

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 don’t keep it a secret, but I certainly don’t let people read my first or second drafts. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. 😉

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

My twin sons. Hands down.

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

Loyalty, a good heart, honesty, and passion.

Care to brag about your family?

I have a supportive husband and the most wonderful four-year-old twins in the world. My sons are completely different, but both are extremely loving. They amaze me and fill me with wonder every day.

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

I’d love to be able to sing well. I find that to be such a beautiful expression of the soul.

What makes you angry?

Mean-spirited people. Hatred. There is too much of that in the world today.

If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?

A comfy couch with fluffy pillows, candles, a bottle of wine, and my iPad (with my Kindle app open).

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

The Shawshank Redemption (Movie)

Silence of the Lambs (Book)

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People talking with their mouths full, smacking while eating, chewing gum with their mouths open, popping gum. (Eewww.) Whatever happened to good manners?

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

Be more kind and less judgmental.

What simple pleasure(s) makes you smile?

My sons telling me they love me, making someone else smile, writing a really good scene, completing the final draft of a novel, reading a good book, discovering a new favorite author, fluffy slippers, sleeping in, sushi, coffee, wine, martinis, vanilla bean candles.

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