Dawn Kirby lives in West TX with her husband of 17 years and their three children. Thanks to Twisted Core Press, she has published two of the seven novels planned in the Serenity Series, Secrets and Deceit. The third, Tribulations is slated to be released sometime this spring.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Lisette. It’s always such a pleasure to chat with you.

Lisette: It’s my absolute pleasure, Dawn!

What is your latest book?

My latest is Tribulations. It’s the third book in the Serenity Series. Edits are forthcoming so I hope to be able to announce a pub date sometime soon.

In the meantime, I’ve begun work on a new book. For once I’ve decided to steer clear of vampires and werewolves. This one is all about finding your destiny in the most unlikely place…Dreams.


Is your recent book part of a series?

Heaven on Earth is going to be a stand alone title. I’m enjoying it so much, it won’t be my last.

What else have you written?

I’ve written several shorts for 7DS Books. The first, Sinful Pleasures (LUST) in Seven Deadly Sins II is probably my favorite and dearest to my heart. Others include stories in Seven Deathly Soles, Seven Dress Sizes, A Man’s Promise and Linger.

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

The part I enjoy the most is finishing it so I can hand it off to my betas. I love the relationship I have with mine. They aren’t afraid to tell me what they like and what they don’t. At the same time they know I won’t change the storyline simply because they don’t want a specific character to go through a specific thing. It is fun to see my characters from different POV though. One reader may connect with one while another might connect with another. Either way, both betas are passionate about the ones they love.

The part I hate is probably waiting on edits. It’s a nerve-racking experience no matter how many times you’ve gone through it.


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

The title? Yes. The ending? Not so much. I’m a punster. Most of what I write I write on the fly. If I do plot out the ending it usually turns out to be the ending I want to avoid.

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

For me it depends on how the flow happens to be that day. If it’s good I keep going. There’s always tomorrow to go back and check for mistakes. If it’s a stare-at-the-screen kinda day I tend to go all the way back to the beginning and slowly torture myself.


Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Don’t quit. This is a tough row to hoe. Connect with people who are as passionate as you are. Seek out people who can teach you how to navigate all the different paths that lie in front of you. Never assume you know everything there is to know. This is a constantly changing profession. Something new will always be right around the corner.

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

I’ve met some fabulous people through Social Media. Some I’ve met, some I hope to meet in the future. These are the people that have really helped me put my writing career on the right track. Some have touched me personally and I can’t imagine not having them in my life. Distance be damned. There have been a few people who I’ve had to block, but for the most part I’d have to say I’ve had a great experience—so far.

Meeting people is my favorite part. Trying to keep up with all the different outlets is the hard part. Sometimes you just don’t have anything to say. Other times writing takes precedence. It’s taken me a few years to realize that having a presence online doesn’t mean having to post something every single day. It means posting something relevant. Something people can discuss. An image that makes people smile or think. Sure we need to toss in a link now and then to our work, but I honestly believe building a rapport with people is a lot more important than blasting them with one link after another.

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

Until five years ago I never considered writing. I’d had my hands full taking care of my kids, my nieces and nephews and daily life in general. The last thing I needed was something else drawing on time I didn’t have. I loved to read when I was in school, but I hadn’t picked up a book in over ten years at that point. Then this idea I had when I was in school started to grate on me. Over the course of months I couldn’t shake it. It woke me up at night until I finally sat down and put it on paper. By the time I finished I’d been sitting at the kitchen table for 8 hours and was determined to write more. Once I finished it I knew writing was something I had to do.

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?

Handling a bad review is as easy as realizing that not every book is for everybody. Good reviews are great. Bad reviews can be too. Especially if the person reviewing the book takes the time to explain what they didn’t like. Look at them as another beta. If it’s something a writer can fix while writing their next book (editing, plot holes), work on it. If it’s the genre or an element of the story the reviewer couldn’t get into, shake it off. At the end of the day our books are our stories. Only we can tell them. We can’t control what happens once they leave our protective hands.

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’m a night owl. There’s something about the dark that helps the words flow. Add a little music to the calmness of the night and you’ve got the most magical environment possible to create a new world.

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

I live in West Texas. I honestly don’t think I’d ever leave for good. My family is here. BUT there are so many places I’d like to visit. If I could, I’d start here in Texas and work my way out to other states. After that—look out world!

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

Automobiles definitely. Planes just scare me. It would take one hell of a journey to get me on one. Boats? Unless the water is crystal clear and I can get out quick, count me out. I want to see what I’m swimming around with or possibly away from. Trains could be fun, but they aren’t really an option here in Wt. Texas.

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

My favorite is Hot Tamales. Pure cinnamon heaven.

Least favorite? Potato chips. Any kind of chip.

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

I would go to my favorite park and spend the day there. With three kids to keep up with it’s not often I get to slow down and really enjoy the beautiful things that surround us everyday.

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

Honesty. Give me that and you have a loyal friend for life.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

Country music makes me cry. Whether the song is happy or sad doesn’t matter, it brings me to tears every time.

What makes you angry?

Political Correctness. I understand where it came from in the beginning, but it is so far out of control it’s led to most of the people in this country wearing their feelings on their shirtsleeve. Are we entitled to have our own opinions? Yes, as long as those opinions come with a filter that wipes out anything that could possibly offend another person.

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

An office. I’d love to have a place that I could write, leave and come back to find everything as I left it. Research as you know takes up a lot of space. Kids take up even more. Those two things tend to clash when your office space consists of a corner of your living room couch.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Being lied to.

What music soothes your soul?

I listen to all types. In a way it all speaks to me in some way. Lately though I’ve been listening to more instrumentals. Classical or contemporary, it doesn’t matter. It’s absolutely amazing to me how much a single song can change your whole perspective.










Michelle Anderson Picarella is the C.E.O. & Founder of 7DS Books and Twisted Core Press, L.L.C. She and her partners run 7DS Books as an invitation-only anthology collaboration helping dedicated authors build their platforms with new and unique themed titles as well as bridging authors together for successful cross-promotion. Michelle is also a published author, former director of publicity, author advocate and proud indie supporter.

Time to chat with Shelly!

What is 7DS Books?

7DS Books is an invitation only short story collaboration publishing imprint of Twisted Core Press. Along with my partners, A.T. Russell and Daniel Picarella, we create unique themes each title and personally invite authors we have met through social media to join. It is instant author networking when placed in a private chat with seven authors. They help each other with pointers and beta reads before it hits our editor. After print, they are connected with every author on every previous 7DS title with means for cross-promoting, blog tours, getting together for literary events, etc. We truly believe the best way to succeed in the world is to work together. We want to do what we can to help authors connect, promote, and build their platform. A new phase of 7DS will be coming into play in 2014. We are very excited about this and will announce the new chapter of 7DS soon. Currently, our popular sellers are Seven Dress Sizes, Seven Deadly Sins II, and Linger.


What are the special challenges in running collaborations?

I think the hardest part has been working in a close group with so many brilliant and talented authors. Overall, it is great and the outcome shows this. But, sometimes when multiple people come up with fantastic ideas that do not flow into each other, it is hard to only pick which route is best if we cannot mesh all the ideas together.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Yes. Most certainly. I like darker tales. I love the depth and layers behind the most despised characters. It is pointless to ask why a person is good. Everyone wants to know why someone is bad.

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

As far back as I can remember, I was writing stories. Even when none of my words made sense to anyone else, my jumbled crayon rambles were my life. I remember first getting a reaction from my writing in second grade when I wrote about self-sacrifice in order to save a turkey from the pilgrims. I loved coming up with the story. That was easy. Predicting how readers will react is the fun part.

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

I am a firm believer of publishing matches. I wish there were a place for matching authors with publishers like a dating site. It is a business, but it is a relationship. An author is handing their dreams over to a publisher and that publisher is investing hope, faith, time, and finances into this work. I do not think one route is better than the other. I see indies run neck and neck with trads. I think research is the best key for new authors. We assume so much when we are new and then we listen to people that appear to know the gospel but as much as this industry is changing, the only thing that remains gospel is the need to provide a quality product. This can be obtained using either route. Going trad does not mean you will be in a brick and mortar store. Being indie does not mean you are going to have the best selling ebook. Either way, an author has to work. This is a business. The difference between writing a book and being an author is work and growth. The route you choose to become an author is just that… A choice.

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

I am an indie book fanatic. Nothing against traditionally published material, but most trad publishers know exactly what they are looking for before it hits the slush. Indie and self-published books tend to carry a flare and flavor not as predestined in many (not all) cases. I love main characters that break the common stereotype of what a main character should be. I love the button pushers. Many people fuss at me for my limited attention span with books. If you don’t grab me within the first few pages and show me something refreshing and bold, you’ve lost me. Minus those indie/self published authors that attempt to mimic the mainstream, odds are good, if you pick up an indie read you are likely going to see something with that boldness. What do I like the least? This is something I see commonly no matter where the book comes from… the main character is a female, likely white, she has a tough life in one way or another but at the core, it is good. She is faced with a challenge that likely holds the fate of many other people around her. Sometimes, it is life and death. Either way, amongst the dire complexity of pressure this female MC must tackle, she also has to choose between two guys. Oy with the love triangles! Kill it with fire!

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

The most surefire way to market is and always will be word of mouth. I could speak of each social media site, ads, publicists, etc.. but the difference in the literary world and a reader: A reader loves hearing someone they know talk about a book. If a reader is inspired by a book or even disgusted by a book, it is the passion in either direction that creates a craving for new readers to seek this book and their desire to derive their own opinion. I’ve seen ads, commercials, book trailers (not in the least saying they are pointless. Keep doing that!) but the books I’ve had to read came from feeling the passion brewing from a reader. The best way to pour gasoline on that fire is to cross-promote. This is a core reason we run 7DS Books; instant pool of cross-promoters, if utilized properly. You can scream the word of your book on every single social media outlet and maybe sell a book or two, because of course you think it is a great read. A publicist can do it for you and gain you some new readers, but that burns out quickly when they are also claiming one hundred other books are also the best book of the year. Now take an author, published, well read and already reached their connections and family with their word of their book and suddenly, they are reviewing your book and telling Aunt Sally and Bob from the office about this great new author they’ve discovered. Well, wow. Aunt Sally just told everyone in her book club, and they told their friends, and those friends mentioned it over dinner and Bob is at the table next to them and that title sounds familiar so he brings it up to his wife and she has PTA after dinner and….see what I am saying? Just like air is always going to be the best thing to breathe, word of mouth is always going to be the “it” thing in marketing.

Now the worst: BAD Facebook event parties. You can do this well but most people do not. People love free things… “Swag”…but how are you going to have a Facebook release party for your book and give away something to the first person that knows the drink a character they’ve not heard of is sipping at the bar in chapter thirteen of the new release? What is that about, authors?  If you want to thank your beta readers, just send them the swag, don’t invite us to the event to see it. Nobody wants to buy your book after that. Also, keep it family oriented if you want participants. Even if it is a gritty down and dirty erotica, nobody is going to like an X-rated photo or comment with the best caption with their family and friends online to see it in the newsfeed. Common sense goes a long way in Facebook events.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

Trains. Always a train. The kid in me comes out when I get the chance to travel by train. Somehow, I always end up in the most random of conversations with these fantastic strangers. I even have train buddies on my social media to keep up with them and we message each other to see if the other is traveling near dates of upcoming trips. LOL. The chill when traveling overnight, the personalities you come in contact with, and seeing the world fly by outside your window are my favorite parts. Now I want a train trip. Where are we going?

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People scratching heads. I am a total lice phobic. I can handle spiders, bees, mice.. anything (maybe not snakes and alligators so much) but the thought of lice makes me cry. I hate the thought of itching. I will count how often someone scratches and after that third one, I will offer to check your head. This tends to be a bit more awkward with strangers.

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

Three: Walk away from agenda: Embrace the differences in people. We tell our kids not to bully every single day just to turn around and bash anyone that does not see things our way.

Two: Reboot and Recharge: Never allow timidness with new ideas, feelings, beginnings, or dreams. I mean this in every aspect of daily life.  We can take this from the business and marketing aspect and approach sales or job performance with a blank page. Your friends and family- we all grow and change; take time for a dinner and get to know the people you’ve all grown to become since meeting. Take it to the polls and stop voting for the lesser of two evils- collaborate a majority write-in candidate that could really make some changes.. Maybe it is you! Take some you time. As much as it helps to get to know the people your loved ones have become, when is the last time you escaped and bonded with the you that you’ve become throughout the years?

One: Love: This one is the most simplistic human operation and we allow ourselves to complicate it. Love has a million degrees. Love strangers. Open doors. Nod to a passerby. Make a silly face at a kid. Tip an extra dollar. Love acquaintances. Congratulate. Compliment. Offer condolences when needed. Friendships are love. Listen. Talk. Laugh. Take time to openly speak the words of appreciation for them just existing as a part of your life. Love the one that holds your heart the dearest. This is not about an obligation or a responsibility. When the love is right, it doesn’t feel like such a chore. Love is never a debt. Love flourishes freely where love grows. Maybe there is not just “the one” maybe you have a series of “the ones” until you find the final one. Each love helps you grow and you do the same for them. Appreciate the love even after it forms into a different type of love; you never un-love someone. Your heart just rearranges. Know when it is time to admit a love has altered into something different but never pretend a love is an apple tree when it has grown into a weeping willow. Both are beautiful, but one has the fruit of life and one has the shade of the past. Embrace them both, differently.  Family: Family is a bond we never ask for. Our parents won’t be around forever and as you age, you will become them. When they are no longer around, you will see them every time you look in a mirror and every missed lunch or shrug with lack of interest will haunt you. Sometimes, just telling them you love them will end up being a favorite memory. Your kids– the best way to love your kids is to show them how to live. Kids learn everything by example. They learn and live just as we show, not as we say. So chase those dreams, so they will. Take care of yourself, so they will do the same. Educate yourself, educate them. Cuddle them. Laugh with them. Be completely silly in public. Talk to them, not at them.. and your grandchildren will be in great hands. Above all ways to love your kids and the most important way to love you must start with one thing. Love yourself. If you don’t learn to love yourself for everything you are in darkness and light, you’ll never truly show love to anyone else. The end.








Twisted Core Press official site

7DS official site



AT_RussellA.T. Russell is a retired Navy Chief currently residing near Chicago with his wife of 25 years. A lifelong reader, the passion of writing came to him midlife. A.T. writes Urban Fantasy and aspires to write across many genres.

“History is a point of reference, not an anchor.” ~A.T.

 Time to chat with A.T.!

What is your latest book?

My latest book is Apex. As for writing and the other stories I’ve written, this one is probably the most challenging, and for me that makes this one the most exciting to write.


Is your recent book part of a series?

It is. In fact, Apex is the first of four planned books. I’m actually franchising the series, and I’m very excited to report that Dawn Kirby and Frantiska Oliver will be writing two of the volumes. The last position will be decided by a process that Twisted Core Press is designing and I think it’ll be a trendsetting model for years to come.

What else have you written?

 As some may know, I’m a member of 7DS Books, a short story platform and imprint of Twisted Core Press. I’ve had the great opportunity to write Greed for Seven Deadly Sins, Sleepy for Seven Dwarf Stories, Eddie’s Ring for Seven Dress Sizes, and No Man for A Man’s Promise. Above all, however, my greatest pleasure came from writing my first two books, New Alpha Rising: Ascension Parts I & II




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

You know, I have one character that has been the most thrilling challenge I’ve faced in storytelling. Little Wolf says what she wants when she wants to, and no one can stop her, not even me. Thing is, she’s the only character I’ve written that has had that effect on me, and writing around her, even in scenes I didn’t want her to be a part of, is where the challenge lies. She’s a main character in New Alpha Rising Saga and I look forward to sharing her madness with the world in the third book.

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?

I believe choosing a character’s name is critical to any story. From my perspective, names should be memorable, respective of the character’s personality, and above all, brand-able.

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

This is a great question for me, because the answer is, I have no idea. All I know is that I have to write. The passion came along in 1994 and words began to hit the page in 2009, totaling over three million that year. Ever since, I’ve been head down and punching keys.

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?

My best advice to handling a negative review is simply remembering that your imagination belongs to you. When you share it with others, their imaginations may not be a good match. If and when that is the case, remember that stories written by the historical greats were ripped worse than yours, and that was by people who really mattered in the literary industry. Nowadays everybody is a critic, and tearing others down is a sad truth about our overall culture today. After all, isn’t that what reality tv is all about? Judge this and judge that, then let’s see who can rip the hardest. Seems like a lot of people channel Simon Cowell these days.

Every day brings forth new changes and shifts in the world of publishing. Any predictions about the future?

I think Amazon will become the BIG ONE.

Have you ever wished that you could bring a character to life? If so, which one and why?

I would love to bring Little Wolf to life. She’s a doctor, a killer, and an Omega Wolf. She loves hanging out with puppies and watching cartoons, and world peace would piss her off. Other than those things, she’s about as cool as any creature I can, did actually, imagine. If I could wish, though, the whole world would know Little Wolf as well as I do.

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

I typically have a romantic element in every story I write, but I really want to tackle a full-on romance. Trouble is, every time I write, the theme of the story pervades many aspects of my daily life. With my luck, pouring my passion into romance, my wife of 25 years might think I’m flipping the script on the second half of my life and have me committed or something … or worse.

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

Social media is a wide open expanse, a tremendous pool of laughs and thoughts, though sometimes myopic and quite scary. You see, some authors use their platforms for their family members and personal friends to interact with them. That’s cool, but when their profile is supportive of their books, services, etc… they shouldn’t complain when a fan or interested customer comes along and steps across a line they’ve blurred. I’ve seen a number of people trip over that line and get burned in the process. No, it hasn’t happened to me.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I’m very humble and I don’t say much on social media platforms. I think, maybe it’s shyness on my part. Heck, it could be fear of the unknown. I mean, I am shading 50, so it’s possible I have old school hesitancy. I’m getting better at interacting with others, though.

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

My favorite film is Something The Lord Made. The best I can say is, watch it. It’ll open your heart and mind to a truth that affects every human being on the face of the earth. As for my favorite book; I love J.R. Ward’s Dark Lover. It is the only book I’ve ever read (thoroughly enjoyed the entire series, by the way) that made me want to scream at the author…violently. In less than five chapters, she managed to kill my favorite character, and that was the first book of the series! George R.R. Martin wasn’t able to have that kind of impact on me, and he kills everybody off!






Seven Deadly Sins

Seven Dwarf Stories

A Man’s Promise

Seven Dress Sizes

New Alpha Rising: Ascension Part I

New Alpha Rising: Ascension Part II

Twisted Core Press

7DS Books