Untold - Amy Spitzfaden

I've made it pretty clear on my blog that I'm picky about romance books. I grew up reading Lori Wick and Janette Oak because that's what my mom was reading. As a result, I burned out quickly. My attention was turned to Tolkien, Bradbury, and yes, Stephen King, who all write genres I found to be more realistic than romance. (and yes, you caught that right - fantasy more realistic than your average romance novel).

I still occasionally enjoy a romance, but it takes a really good one, one with a deeper plot than a superficial "he's hot and she's sexy" couple to hold my attention. 

In Untold, Amy Spitzfaden gives just that. She gives much more than your average romance novel offers up. Katie is a very well developed character with legitimate and realistic life issues. I appreciated the process in which she comes to understand the strange feelings she's struggling with and found them completely believable.  

Seeing the plot unfold between her and Robin and watching as they both begin to realize what they may have been through in the past was fascinating and I felt my heart break a little as Katie made, what she thought was, the best possible decision for the two of them. 

Without giving any specific spoilers, I just want to thank the author for not stopping the book there. THANK YOU! I was feeling severely disappointed. 

What made me happiest through all of this is that both Katie and Robin come to the conclusion that it's all a choice. Sure love can seem like an overwhelming roller coaster ride that you have no control over, but we all have a choice. Watching Robin and Katie make their choices confidently, despite knowing what the future holds for them, was incredibly satisfying and left me with a smile. It felt so much closer to real life than the vast majority of romance books that I've read. 

Some Bio Information

Amy Spitzfaden graduated with a literature and writing degree from Maharishi University of Management in 2012 and now lives in Temple, New Hampshire with her husband, Ravi. She works as an Engagement Manager at PSCS Consulting in Peterborough, and is currently writing her second book Fingerprinted Hearts, and aiming for a release date in 2017.


1) What inspired you to write this book? 

The story originated from a feeling I had when I first started dating my husband. I so immediately knew it was right that I felt a certain kind of frustration and confusion that it hadn't happened sooner. There was this feeling of "Why did this take so long?", and this led me to wondering "What if there really was a reason?" That question is what brought me to the premise of Untold.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I'm not super good with outlines, largely because I don't tend to start out with plot ideas. For me it tends to start with a character, situation, or premise I want to explore and the first draft helps me figure out what shape the story is going to take. I usually will write a first draft in a month or two if I'm working hard, then I'll go through, grab a few scenes that I like, and pretty much start the whole thing over from scratch. This can definitely be frustrating as I'm writing my first draft and looking ahead to my second, but it's also what keeps me moving forward without worrying too much about getting it right.

After the first draft, the story tends to have a much more defined shape in my head, which is when I start really getting into the plot. One of my favorite things for the writing process is going for a walk with someone - usually my mom, sisters, or husband - and getting their input on how best to shape certain parts of my story that I might be having trouble with. I'm extremely lucky to be around creative people almost all the time, and this is really what helps push my writing forward.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work? 

I definitely think Untold resonates with a young/new adult audience, but some of the best responses I've gotten have been from far outside that demographic, so it's hard to pinpoint. I think anyone looking for something a little deeper than mainstream fiction yet still with a fast and modern tone would enjoy it, as well as anyone interested in why we love who we do, and possible spiritual or mystical reasons that could be behind it.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

Overall, I'm hoping to add a feeling of legitimacy to my genre. Books written primarily for or about young women tend not to be taken seriously, especially if they are light or more realistic in tone. All of my writing tends to reflect a deep emotional undercurrent that goes along with the real-life challenges and experiences that go along with this time of life: friendships, romantic relationships, budding careers, etc. I don't know why stories focused around that tend to be considered solely "fluffy", but if someone leaves my work feeling as though they have just gone through a worthwhile journey, then I'm happy.

5) Who is your favorite fictional character? 

Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. That's been my favorite show for more than ten years, and each time I watch it I get more and more respect for Lorelai. She's a perfect example of someone who on the surface seems fairly frivolous but she has depth and power all over the place. Everyone in that show does, which is what makes it so great.

6) How would you describe your writing style? 

Contemporary with a literary twist. I like to use a modern and sometimes conversational tone, but also really enjoy playing with language and imagery, so I try to tie all of that together.

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

I have so many that it's hard to pick one. While of course I'd love to see my books on bestseller lists and get turned into movies, things like develop a fan base who care deeply about the characters and get sent some fan art of fic are also currently high on my list. Right now, what I'd really love is to be able to support myself from my books enough that I can do it full time.


Wet - S. Jackson Rivera

When it comes to the genre of romance, I am incredibly picky. Mostly because as a teenager, I looked for drama in a relationship. I wanted the whirlwind/forbidden romance. I wanted passion, the heated arguments, etc. 

Then I grew up and I realized that those pursued relationships only led me to trouble. I didn't want to argue. I didn't want drama, conflict, and I definitely didn't want anything "complicated." But I also learned that you can still have a passion filled relationship without those attributes. 

Unfortunately, you need all those attributes to make an exciting and action packed romance book. So I'm torn on the genre. But despite my only personal tastes, I can still appreciate when someone writes well within the genre. 

In Wet by S. Jackson Rivera, she paints a gorgeous plot with warm sand filled beaches, crystal clear water, thrilling diving scenes, and a drama filled relationship that leaves you on the edge of your seat as you finish the last page. I can easily see how someone could binge-read the entire series over a weekend. 

Having only read the first book, my heart definitely went out to Rhees and I hated watching her suffer through the awkward situations and manipulations that her friends on the island put her through. Paul is an insufferable character who I really want to punch. But I can sense that there's a better person beneath the surface, and I'm hoping (fairly confidently) that by the third book, he will have seen the error of his ways and will step up to be the best man he can be. 

If you're a romance fan, I'm confident that this is a series that you will thoroughly enjoy. 

Some Bio Information

S. Jackson Rivera grew up on a ranch in eastern Oregon. She spent a lot of time alone, exploring and riding horses. She developed an active imagination and decided to start putting some of her fantasies in writing. Jungle: The Whispering Ruins, her first published story, was inspired by her love of a tropical setting. An avid scuba diver--'Wet' is a product of her love of the sport, she is always anticipating the next opportunity to visit the ocean which usually includes a nearby jungle. "Let's get wet!"

Like her on Facebook, S Jackson Rivera Author


1) What inspired you to write this book? 

The stories in my head usually start with a dream, add a little of my own life experience, throw in a little inspiration from the lives of people I know, and a vivid imagination . . . there you have it.
Between getting her Bachelor's degree and Dental school, my oldest daughter took off for Utila, Honduras to become a dive master. I was so proud and impressed with her courage--I never knew an adventure like that was even an option when I was her age. I'm passionate about diving, so I ended up visiting her 3 times while she was there and I loved the diving, the people, the shop, the whole experience. I think I felt truly grown up myself, even though I was a grown mother of college-aged kids. I'd never traveled any place by myself, let alone an exotic, Third World tropical island. A celebrity crush and a few dreams later, I became completely obsessed with Wet.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

1st stage is getting the scenes out of my head and onto my laptop. I feel like I'm channeling the characters, frantically trying to get my fingers to keep up with what they are showing me. Once the scene is finished, I read over it, fix the millions of typos, read it again, and LOVE IT! 

2nd stage is waiting at least 2 weeks (I write new scenes in the meantime) and then reading it again, shaking my head, seeing how terrible it is. I read and fix, read and fix, again and again until I can read it without hating it. That can take a while. 

3rd stage is when I finally love it again, and I can send it to my editor, and she tells me all the things she hates about it. I cry, curse her for not knowing what she's talking about, finally accept her advice, (most of the time) and set about fixing it again until we are both happy.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work?

That's a tricky question. My first book is a Young Adult, Action and Adventure, Paranormal. I was in the middle of writing the sequel when Wet hijacked my brain. I typed out a few scenes, just to get it out of my head, so I could get back to Jungle, but it just kept coming. I finally decided I'd hammer it out fast, since it was coming to me so strongly, publish it under a different pen name, THEN get back to Jungle. But I fell in love with Wet, and had to do it more justice than that. 

With only 1 book out, I hadn't established a brand yet, so I kept my name, despite the genre jump to romance. While Jungle is YA, most of the people who've read it are women and they're finding Wet now, too. Occasionally, I'll have someone tell me how he/she binge-read Wet and loved it, someone I thought would have hated it--because while it is not erotica, it definitely is not YA. One fan said, "I loved how provocative it is, without really being provocative." 

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

I read to escape, and I really dislike books that get too preachy. I hope my books aren't preachy, but I do find myself planting little things in my writing that I hope could be of value to someone else, things I had to learn the hard way. Mostly, with both stories so far, I want girls to find the hidden strength in my heroines. Wet may be hard for some to see that because Rhees is a wimp, scared of her own shadow, the way I was when I was her age. So far, most people have seen how strong she really is, but she has to dig deeper than some to find that. Being strong doesn't come easy for all of us, those are the ones I hope to reach.

In Wet, I loved the journey of both characters. Paul and Rhees are two broken people who attempt to fix themselves with each other's help. It isn't easy, like in real life. There is no magic that can make the hard, scary stuff go away. We still have to face it. The alternative is to lay down and wait to die, which may take a while. Might as well take a deep breath and forge on.  

5) Who is your favorite fictional character?

Typically, the one I'm reading at the moment. Of course, because I get so intimate with my own, I love all of my characters almost as much as I love my own kids. How does a mother choose a favorite?
6) How would you describe your writing style?

Basic, rudimentary, unseasoned, unpolished, though I feel I'm much better now than when I started, I'll never be as good as I'd like to be. The Hub once told me he thought I wrote like Wilbur Smith, and I can kind of see it, but usually, when I read, I get so absorbed in the story, I don't have time to wonder if my own voice sounds like the one I'm reading. I'm too interested in finding out what happens next.

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I hope to never stop learning, and perfecting my craft.

I hope to bring some happiness, or at least a little escape to those who read my stuff.

I'm not sure I'll ever get enough validation. I'd like to feel that, someday, validated.

And finally, I hope I'll still be writing for years to come, right up to the day I die, but I hope I don't leave anything unfinished when I do. I almost died a year ago in a diving--more a boating--accident. As I was drowning, my most poignant thought, and plea to God was, "But my book's not finished!" I finally finished Wet Part 3, two months later. Phew!

Tangled Up in Blue

Tangled Up in Blue - JD Brick

Romance is a tricky genre for me. Most people want to read about drama and get a thrill out of the suspense in wondering whether or not two people will get together. But I tend to struggle through the obstacles and the ups and downs of fictional relationships. I just want to see two people happily in love with no baggage and no roller coaster ride. 

But that's just not how fiction works, and rightly so. 

Tangled Up in Blue is a great example of the romance genre. Despite the cliff hanger ending, I thought it was excellently written, had wonderfully developed characters, and consisted of some great "coming of age" type situations as both main characters struggled to overcome personal hurdles. 

Some Bio Information

JD Brick lives in Florida, which is paradise about half the year and a hot mess the rest of the time. She's been a journalist, technical writer and intrepid humor columnist, which is the only kind of humor columnist worth being. She's also a wife, mother, corporate refugee, ever hopeful if seldom successful gardener, and slave to great books and good coffee.

Tangled Up in Blue is JD's first work of fiction and is Book 1 in the Ikana College series.


1. What inspired you to write this book? 

I wanted to write a New Adult novel, and I wanted to base it (loosely) on an experience I had in college, living in a house with several other students. As I began to write, the plot kind of steered itself in a very different direction than I had originally planned, but I ended up liking it better than the plot I’d first envisioned.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

Tangled Up in Blue is my first work of fiction, so my writing process is still evolving, but so far, it’s been a mix of free writing and adherence to an outline. I outlined the whole book first, breaking it down into a three-act structure and noting major plot points in each act. Before each chapter, I took a day to just free write, letting whatever came out of my head and through my fingers stay on the screen. Then I went back and compared that to my outline, made adjustments and completed a first draft of the chapter. I did that for each chapter, then went through the whole manuscript several more times, making changes along the way. I also had it professionally edited, which prompted numerous other changes.  

I try to spend at least an hour or two every day writing, although more often than I’d like, “real life” gets in the way. I am way too easily distracted, so I forbid myself to check email, look at the newspaper, get on Facebook, etc., until I’ve put in my writing time. I don’t always obey myself, though, so it’s a constant battle. I’ve discovered that I write better with classical music playing so I’ve been doing that as well.

3. Describe your favorite scene in this book. 

It’s a toss-up between the “cave” scene and the final scene at the bus stop, but if I have to choose, I’d say the bus stop scene. Keegan and Blue, the two main characters, have each reached a point in their relationship where they are desperate to save each other, even at significant personal cost. They are in a public place, on the verge of possibly being separated forever, confronting the reality of their situation and both wanting to make a sacrifice for the other. I loved the emotional intensity and character growth apparent at this stage in the book. I cried while writing the scene.

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you? 

A book-lined room with a big picture window looking out over the mountains. And days of uninterrupted time.

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

It’s still evolving as I just finished my second book, but I’d call my writing style emotional, simple and intimate as everything is told in first-person point of view.

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

I’m hoping they end Tangled Up in Blue desperate to read the sequel, Shelter from the Storm! I’d also love for readers to finish Keegan and Blue’s tale with that satisfying, ugly-cry feeling that always comes from being swept up in an epic love story. 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

To spend the rest of my life writing books that give readers the same incomparable pleasure I get out of reading great fiction

The Relationship Riddle

The Relationship Riddle - Susan Paulson Clark

While I am not the biggest fan of the romance genre, this book did manage to hold my attention. I appreciated that each character was mature and well established in their own right. However, they each had similar things going on in life in that each of them were trying to overcome an obstacle brought about by someone misinterpreting feelings for them. One was a professor and one was social worker. I had difficulty accepting that both of them were going through a similar situation and yet were so unwilling to talk to each other about it (and also unwilling to believe that each misinterpretation was unrequited).  

Despite that, the writing is well done, and the characters are well developed. The plot is consistent and in the end, everyone is happy, which makes for a nice and contented ending. 

Some Bio Information

Susan Paulson Clark has been writing for fifteen years. She's an avid reader of women's fiction, mysteries, and non-fiction titles. Susan enjoys painting (acrylic and oil) and spending time with her husband. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with degrees in English and Education -- and she's an avid believer in writers' critique groups!


1.    What inspired you to write this book?

I’m happily married now, but having had relationship problems in the past, I have a vivid recollection of being single “out there.” I enjoy writing about second chance romance. It’s important for me to encourage others – and I believe my book has a hopeful tone.

2.    Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I outline my story chapter by chapter. However, when I get to the actual writing, minor characters often become integral to the story. In this book, Coach Neely and Natalie the social worker went from being brief mentions to fully developed characters.

3.    Describe your favorite scene in this book. 

The very last scene … but describing it would be a spoiler!

4.    What does the perfect writing environment look like to you? 

Every Monday I meet with my writing partner who writes historical fiction. We alternate between Panera and Starbucks. Writing is so solitary, so it’s fun to be around others while writing. And having a standing meeting keeps you accountable. Otherwise I write just about anywhere except at a desk!

5.    How would you describe your writing style?

I combine dialogue, description, emotion, action and internal thoughts. I like adding twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.

6.    What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

Love is more than a romp in the sack. Real love allows you to work through problems.

7.    What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

I would like to connect with readers through common experiences and encourage them to not give up in their search for a relationship

The Secret Life of Eddie Kitchens

The Secret Life of Eddie Kitchens - Will Gibson

Yet another book that completely caught off guard. I immediately fell in love with Eddie and found myself surprised again and again where this plot led me. Gibson does an amazing job at leading the reader to feel what Eddie is feeling rather than simply telling the story. 

The plot is rich with detail and description, and the characters are so well developed that I felt as though I knew them. 

I also appreciated being able to see the daughter's perspective as she realizes that her mother was not ONLY the person she knew her to be, but that she had also lived this incredible other life -- even if it was only for a short period of time. 

Thoroughly loved this book. I cannot recommend it enough. Great read. 


Some Bio Information

Author WILL GIBSON founded the American Black Book Writers Association as its first president and trade journal editor-in-chief. He served on the advisory board of the Black Authors: Selection of Sketches from Contemporary Authors, Gale Research. He is the author of many novels, including the following:

  • The Reverend Viola Flowers
  • The Bishop’s Granddaughters
  • The Daughters of Joe Stubbs
  • The Hidden Life of Eddie Kitchens
  • Lola & The World of Buddy Shortt
  • A Song For Terri Ross
  • Estella & Sylvia
  • Running With Mr. Bell
  • The Man With The Silver Tongue
  • Cedar Hill
  • Leaves Can’t Fly


1. What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write something that saluted the Black Press that with meager resources and often suffering scorn and ridicule from mainstream journalism almost singlehandedly provided the African American people with the information and coverage they needed to stay proud and strong as a race in their long struggle for Equal Rights. Being a novelist I needed a good story in which to express that homage, and along came Eddie Kitchens with her camera and adventures.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing style? 

I am a fan of Joyce Carol Oates who only writes stories that strike her fancy, and those stories are hard to pigeon-hole, whether about boxing or love.  I like to think the same is true of my novels, whether about formula one auto-racing or dancing. And also like Ms. Oates, my central characters usually end up being strong females.

3. Who is your favorite fictional character? 

My favorite fictional character has to be Spartacus in Howard Fast’s famous novel by the same name. That book showed me as a young boy the power a good novel has to change a reader’s life.

4. How would you describe your writing style? 

To me as an author of eleven novels, writing style is less important than getting my plot and characters right.

5. Describe the perfect writing environment. 

The perfect writing environment is to be alone in the comfort and quiet of my study with soft classical music in the background.

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book?

The pure pleasure of the story, plus the feeling that you are a bigger and better person for reading it.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

My ultimate writing goal is to write as many good stories as I can before my imagination dries up

A Time Apart

A Time Apart - Rebecca Norinne Caudill

I have a soft spot in my heart for paranormal books. I've always loved the unknown and the fantastic and there's something special about a good vampire story. So I'm always looking for unique takes on the genre.  

I really enjoy the premise behind this book. Romance separated not only by circumstance, but by time itself. Without giving away any spoilers, the reason behind their separation is both unique and intriguing. 

Caudill's writing style is enjoyable and easy to read, but I felt like the ending was a little anticlimactic. I think that there is some great action and suspense coming up in future books judging by some hints that she has dropped throughout the text, but this work felt more like an introduction to the series.

She does a great job of setting up the plot for future works in the series, I just wanted a little more out of this one. While there's a bit of a struggle as they're getting reacquainted, I kept thinking there'd be some additional challenges to come, but they seem to be saved for later in the series. 

Overall well written and an enjoyable read. 

Some Bio Information

Rebecca read her first novel when she was just four years old and has been hooked on books ever since. When she wasn't writing her own stories, she was sneaking copies of her mom's paperbacks to read late into the night. Fast forward a few years later, and she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Journalism. After a stint working in radio, she embarked on a career in technology public relations in Silicon Valley, representing some of the country's hottest start-ups and publicly traded companies. After more than a decade in the business, she began writing full time, having published both contemporary and paranormal romance novels. 

When not creating fictional worlds inhabited by strong women and dashing heroes, she is reading about them, planning her next vacation, trying out new recipes, or drinking a dram of Islay whisky. Rebecca lives with her husband in Oakland, California, but is currently planning a move to Dublin, Ireland.


1. What inspired you to write this book?

I’d finished reading a number of paranormal romances that were aimed at a younger crowd and while I loved them, I wanted a hero and heroine who were closer to my own age with more adult problems. I started thinking about what I’d like to see and from there the story just blossomed. When we visited Ireland a lot of the pieces came together.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I try to write a little bit every day, at least 1,000 words. After I spend some time on social media I sit down at my computer with a cup of coffee or tea and get started. I have a general outline that I stick to, but I’m not very good about doing detailed outlines because I only ever end up changing the story if I go that route. I basically write what my characters are telling me and then work from there filling in the plot, narrative, and dialogue. When I’ve finished, I share the work with a handful of trusted friends and family who are all writers themselves and revise based on that.

3. Do you have a favorite author?

I have a few favorite genres, and within those genres favorite authors. In terms of paranormal, I don’t think there’s anyone better than Anne Rice. I recently discovered steampunk romance and think Bec McMaster is terrific. The genre I’ve read the most though is regency romance, and I’m such a sucker for anything Maya Rodale or Julie Ann Long writes.

4. How would you describe your writing style?

I tend to write how I think and speak. In my daily life I like order and structure but when it comes to writing, I’m pretty free-flowing. There are definite rules and regulations I will always stick to, but otherwise anything goes. 

5. Do you have a favorite character in A Time Apart?

Well, obviously I love them both but William is the hero I have wanted for awhile. One of the things I appreciate most about him is that he doesn’t try to pretend to be good for the sake of Olivia. He tells her he’s a bad man.

6. What’s your least favorite part of the writing process? 

How long it takes me to finish! I see other authors in the genre putting out so many books in a year and I wish I could be faster, but I spend so much time editing and revising and just knitpicking over every darn word that I am my own worst enemy and everything ends up taking far longer than I had intended.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I’d love to move from self-publishing to being published by a well-respected imprint. I have a story idea in the back of my head that I’d like to write and sell, but that’s probably a ways off at this point with everything else that I’m working on at the moment.

This Nearly Was Mine

This Nearly Was Mine - Nancy Farkas

We all face that dreaded question at some point in our lives. "What if. . ."

It doesn't matter what follows those first two words, the idea behind it is the same. It's our mental exploration down a different path than the one we chose. These day dreams can be fun and a little exciting, leaving us with a smile on our faces, or they can consume our lives and keep us from enjoying the lives we have. 

In This Nearly Was Mine, Annie is forced to come to terms with the decisions she made in life, and the ones she left behind when an old flame re-enters her life. The plot and tone are both enchanting, never leaving the reader with anxiety or frustration.

As with much Creative Nonfiction, it's near impossible (even for the author) to fully distinguish between the facts and the embellishes. And those lines blend together beautifully throughout this work. 

I very much enjoyed this book, mostly because I found myself relating to Annie's plight. I once had that "what if" man from my past that I have since come to terms with. Regardless, we've all had a variety of instances where we've wondered what might have been. 

Some Bio Information

Nancy Farkas, a student of psychology and linguistics, used her real life experiences as a social worker, wife, mother, and passionate world traveler to bring life and depth to the cast of characters in her debut novel, This Nearly Was Mine.


1. What inspired you to write this book?

Whenever I told anyone about Francisco coming back into my life after almost thirty years,
everyone, and I mean everyone, had some type of visceral reaction (some even had tears in their eyes, saying “I have the chills,” or “this should be a book or movie”). A friend who is a much better writer than I am was moved and asked if she could write about it. I agreed, having neither the time nor the interest in writing about it myself. We sat for hours as I drummed up as many memories that I could from 1980-not an easy task. When too much time went by and she had not written anything, I decided to write the novel myself. I started writing the very same night I saw “South Pacific” on Broadway. The references and paraphrasing of Michener’s writing in my story was not just a literary device. I really did feel about Spain the same way he described feeling about the South Pacific. And of course, the song, This Nearly Was Mine: “one dream in my heart” just pushed me over the edge! !

2. Is this book based on real life experiences?

A great deal of the story is based on real characters and experiences, but there are many events that were exaggerated, embellished, and just down-right made up. It is impossible for me to quantify how much was true and how much wasn’t. The ways in which Annie reacted to lost loves, illnesses in her family, or problems with a child, for example, were the same reactions I had to similar occurrences in my life. Whether or not the experiences were “real” is not the issue the emotions that accompany traumas are what resonate with my readers!

3. Was there a deciding moment in your life when you knew you wanted to be an author?

The very first person who read my manuscript told me she read the book in one sitting; the only other book she felt that way about was Anna Karenina. Admittedly, she is a very close friend, but she said that if she was so absorbed after hearing these stories so many times, others would be, also. She singlehandedly convinced me to have it professionally edited and published. Contrary to what people think, This Nearly Was Mine is not a memoir, so it has no historical value to my family. Had she not reacted that way, I might have just let the manuscript die in my computer!

4. How would you describe your writing style?

Roman à clef, first person narrative, and stream of consciousness all rolled into one!

5. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Not one word of This Nearly Was Mine was written before midnight. I write in a quiet room, then edit and research until I fall asleep in my chair. More often than not, I write until dawn. Perfect activity for an insomniac! 

6. Describe the perfect writing environment.

No external distractions. Access to internet for historical, literary, and musical research!

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

To have a one-hit wonder and not feel compelled write another novel. I am flattered and inspired when people ask for a sequel (or trilogy!), but I would be fine pulling a J. D. Salinger.


Awakening - Cheri McKenzie

I love all things magical. Perhaps it's part of growing up as an only child (although I know of people with siblings who feel the same way). And while I always love a good fantasy set in the far past or the distant future without technology, I also enjoy normal day stories with magic and fae thrown in. 

Awakening has a wonderful concept that I found to be unique and enchanting. Without giving any of the plot away, the main character, Acacia, begins having strange dreams about a gorgeous man, who then suddenly places himself into her life, and her life takes a new and bizarre direction.

One of the primary focuses of this book is the relationship between Acacia and her mystery man. And while it's an intriguing and romantic concept, I had a difficult time with their up and down relationship. But that's probably due to my frustration with many a young adult's current idea of relationships, thanks to books like Twilight and Fifty Shades. 

However, that did not prevent me from enjoying this book by Cheri McKenzie. The plot is still fascinating and includes a great twist that I did not see coming. The twist definitely enriched the story for me, due to my appreciation and love for the character it involves. 

A fun and fantasy filled read. 

Some Bio Information

Born and raised in rural NE Missouri, I’ve always loved the quiet atmosphere and beautiful landscape that lends itself to artistic inspiration, which is probably why as an adult, I chose to make my home there.  A busy mom of five, I spend my days working, running errands, and performing a multitude of motherly duties.  In my down time, I enjoy reading, taking photos at rodeos, and cuddling with my eight-month-old daughter.

Six years ago, when I started writing “Awakening”, I never believed I’d end up publishing it.  To me it was just a story that I’d become obsessed with finishing.  Almost five years later, I decided it was time to cast aside my insecurities and publish.  Since then, I’ve been working on the second installment to the series and hope to have it ready to publish soon.

For better or worse, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this new adventure, and intend to follow wherever it may lead.


1. What inspired you to write this book?

This may sound a little strange to many people, but I’m really not sure what inspired me to write “Awakening”.  One day, I sat down to write a journal entry and ended up writing the first twenty-five pages of what I then called “a story”.  After that, I was obsessed.  I needed to know how the story would end.  By the time I’d finished, it was a book and my brain was already thinking up new ideas to continue Acacia’s story.  

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

  1. Put the 8 month old to bed.
  2. Grab a snack.
  3. Search through my playlist for a song that fits the scene I’m working on.
  4. Get distracted by an infomercial.
  5. Write a few pages
  6. Baby wakes up
  7. Type-one handed while feeding baby
  8. Finish a few more pages
  9. Repeat steps 1-8 several times a night for months
  10. Celebrate because the 1st draft is finished
  11. Edit
  12. Give to a reader.
  13. Repeat steps 11 and 12
  14. Create cover, format for kindle, publish

3. Who’s your favorite author?

Terry Brooks.  I fell in love with the Shannara Series in Junior High.

4. What’s your favorite part in Awakening?

I actually have several and they all involve the gifts Caelan gives to Acacia.

5. Describe your favorite place.

 Curled up on the couch with my eight month old sleeping peacefully in my arms.

6. What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?

That’s a no-brainer...editing.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?
For better or worse, to finish what I’ve started and be happy with what I’ve accomplished.