Siren Suicides

Siren Suicides: Second Edition  by Ksenia Anske  description:

On a rainy September morning 16-year-old Ailen Bright flees her abusive father by jumping off the Seattle Aurora Bridge. Instead of a true death, in the water she finds several silver-skinned sirens who convert her to one of their own. As a newborn siren she is dead, supernaturally strong, and hungry for her new sustenance—human souls.
Ailen refuses to kill…at first. With time she must face the agony that comes with starvation, while being relentlessly pursued by a siren hunter. An enthralling and dark look into the mind and heart of a suicidal teenager, this urban fantasy follows Ailen’s struggle to figure out the meaning of life, her confusing feelings for her best friend Hunter, and her desperate battle for her father’s love.

Siren Suicides   3 STARS

The best thing about this book is how wonderful the writing style is. Anske does a beautiful job of drawing you into this world, and making it so vivid. She doesn’t just tell you what a room looks like, you discover it through the characters interactions, their insight and emotions, and it’s all done with ease. I loved her new take on sirens, how you become one, and the fact that she harkens back to the original Greek mythology with the names, and that she didn’t make the mistake of turning them into mermaids with a fishtail. The best part of this book though was the very beginning before Ailen turned into a siren. Seeing into her mind, and knowing why she loves sirens so much, and her still suffering from the loss of her mother, it was something that was tangible and understandable. I’m glad that Anske didn’t in any way romanticize suicide. She gives you the harsh reality of what it would be like hitting the water, what it does to your body, and how it feels to drown and the regret the victim goes through during it all. But once Ailen becomes a siren it’s like everything went into overdrive. It felt like everything was so on the nose with the whole siren bit. And as the story goes the way it circles around death can be extremely depressing and worrisome. I will say that right there at the end it finally began to really flow and Ailen goes through some real self-discovery and there is a lot of character growth that helped make this a book worth reading in the end.

 

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Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker description:

‘Alone with the dead! I dare not go out, for I can hear the low howl of the wolf through the broken window’

When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client and his castle. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘Master’. In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count Dracula and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing deeply into questions of human identity and sanity, and illuminating dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.

Dracula   5 STARS

You know that scene in a horror movie when it gets dark and ominous music begins to play and you know that at any moment the killer is going to suddenly appear and murder everyone in a horrible fashion. That intense build up, and the anxiety of wondering exactly when you’re going to be scared, because you already know it’s coming. That’s this entire book. I had to take breaks at times to read some short stories that were a bit lighter, because the unnerving fear for the characters, as we the reader know what’s happening, could be a bit much at times. However, it’s easy to see why this is a classic, and how it has inspired others to delve into the dark world of vampires. Though, considering I’ve mainly read paranormal romance, it’s a bit disconcerting to see how the original was so completely evil. The vampires in this are soulless, not misunderstood, and kill children and anyone that gets in their way without remorse. More so, it’s incredible all the powers they are given, not just immortality and strength, but real mystical sort of powers, that I wish hadn’t been pushed off to the side in the other stories I’ve read. Beyond all of that though, I don’t believe I have ever come across a story written in this style, and it was this style that really made the tale such an intriguing one. Sure there have been plenty who have done rotating first person, but this is told in pieces of people’s diaries, the letters they’ve written to others, and even newspaper clippings. You’re getting the events after the characters have experience them and have pondered over them, as they try to understand what exactly is going on. Because of this you get to see how it all slowly melds together, and what each character really is thinking, and a much more personal aspect of the story that allows you to really feel for each of them as if these were actual historical letters that someone has stitched together. And I do so hope people were ever like this, this goodness and bravery and the way in which they talk so passionately about everything. It’s really a wonderful book. Though I would advise getting a version that has footnotes to explain certain things. Such as words that are no longer used in this way. As well as some of things that are referenced. I’m sure you could easily enjoy this book without such, but it was rather nice to have.

Doctor Strange: “It’s not about you.”

Doctor Strange is like other Marvel movies in its good sense of humor, awe inspiring special effects, and the story of a regular man becoming a hero. Yet, within all those laughs and spectacular fight scenes there is a bit of wisdom that delves into what we’re meant to do here in our life. What we’re meant to contribute. And it all resides in one line: “It’s not about you.” I believe what makes this line so important is how it contrasts against Doctor Strange’s original statement, “You’re just another tiny, momentary speck within an indifferent universe.” It represents the progression that Strange makes throughout the movie, as well as a point of view that anyone can take on in life. It’s the difference between believing that nothing we do matters and that we should really on care about taking care of ourselves, a rather nihilistic point of view as it were, against the idea that what we do matters, and each point of view in itself sends out ripple effects in the way a butterfly’s beating wings can create a hurricane.

Starting at the beginning of the movie, and the idea that we’re just momentary specks and the universe in no way cares what we do, and is essentially in no way affected by our individual actions, we can see how such thoughts would create a rather narcissistic personality that Strange portrays. He only cares about himself and what makes him look good. He wants to be the best doctor there is, not by saving as many lives as he can, but by picking the most interesting medical cases and then only those he knows he will be successful in. He’s not alone in this, as after his accident another doctor points out that he won’t take on Strange’s case because he has his own reputation to think of. But this isn’t just about narcissism, which is something that Strange comes to realize when his very words are said back to him by the villain Kaecilius, who is intent on handing the world over to Dormammu. Kaecilius is narcissistic in a way, in thinking he knows what’s best for the world. Thinking he knows how to save it. Beyond that however, he believes that this world is doomed and that on our own we can’t make a difference, on our own we’re only going to be suffering, namely because here there is death.

One could say Kaecilius is trying to find meaning in what he sees as a meaningless world. After all, what does any of it matter if it’ll all end in death anyway. He doesn’t believe in what anyone would consider a normal code of ethics. He kills freely, and doesn’t even appear bothered when his own followers die. This isn’t exactly strange in a villain, but his pursuit of Dormammu in the idea that there will be no more death, and perhaps his belief that it’ll undo the deaths that have already occurred makes his actions one that have to be taken in a different light. After all, he thinks he’s saving the world from the very meaninglessness that he feels. Kaecilius would definitely have understood Macbeth’s words,

“Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

Just like Macbeth, Kaecilius sees this world as nothing and empty, while Doctor Strange isn’t as aware of his feelings as such. Not until he loses the use of his hands, in at least the capacity to use them for surgery, at which point the entire meaning he has given to his life evaporates. Without that, he is lost. He goes to extremes to get that sense of importance back. He sees the world and his life within it as hopeless and empty. Even as he tells The Ancient One that she’s nothing but a tiny momentary speck, he really sees everyone that way, including himself. The universe has been indifferent to him, he had his great gift taken away because of it, if the universe had cared then surely someone like him would’ve been spared such a tragedy. Yet, ultimately, isn’t he given something even greater than the chance to show off how skilled he is with a scalpel? He is instead placed right where the universe needed him to save the world. After all, “It’s not about you.”

The Ancient One even points out that his becoming a doctor was never about helping others. It wasn’t about doing what was right or good. “You became a doctor to save one life above all others. Your own.” Strange doesn’t have a true foundation of ethics, he doesn’t try to do what is good, because he doesn’t really see things in such a way. Sure he doesn’t agree with Kaecilius’ actions, and he wants to stop him in a vague sort of way, though it’s not for him to do such, and he complains when he gets put in a position where he’s forced to fight them. Yes, he wants bad people to be stopped, but away from him so it won’t bother him, because it’s all meaningless in the end and he just doesn’t want to be bothered by it. So while he might argue his code of ethics as a doctor to do no harm, in reality he just doesn’t see the point of any of it. Just like Kaecilius, his nihilistic point of view leads him to be unwilling to put himself in harm’s way to do good, because that forces him to face his own mortality; the one thing he’s been trying to prevent in his pursuit of bettering how doctors can stave off the clutches of death. He too sees death as the ultimate destroyer for the meaning of life.

Once more The Ancient One understands this fear as she tells him, “We don’t get to choose our time. Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered, your time is short.” Because death isn’t what makes life meaningless, it’s focusing only on ourselves, and letting our fear of the unknown control us is what will truly destroy the meaning of life. “It’s not about you.” It’s about all the things you can do in this world, and for this world. It’s about all the interactions, and the consequences of those actions. Like any superhero movie, it’s a subsequent set of events that ultimately leads Doctor Strange to having mystical powers and rising up to fight Dormammu. It took not just his hands being destroyed, but a series of interactions with other people that made him who he now is.

It took a nurse at a physical therapy clinic to not just tell him of a patient who overcame an irreversible injury, but to take the time to find the file and prove to Doctor Strange that it did really happen. That a paraplegic was able to get up and walk again. Now some have asked what are the odds that the one person who was helping Strange during this time would happen to know of this one other case, but that’s life isn’t it? Sometimes coincidences happen, and things just line up perfectly, and if we’re there to act when it’s required of us and do what needs to be done we can make a difference in another person’s life that we may never have imagined possible, or even ever know that it happened. We can’t see the ripple effects our actions send out, we can’t see the tiny changes and larger outcomes to everything we do. It would be wonderful if we could, but all we can do is be willing to take a chance, to be there to do what needs to be done, and to believe in something bigger than ourselves, even if that is simply the betterment of humanity. Now beyond that nurse, there was Jonathan Pangborn, the paraplegic, who was willing to tell Strange of what he did to be cured and able to walk again, and where he needed to go to seek help. Baron Mordo saved him from the thugs, and then brought him to Kamar-Taj, where he also beseeched The Ancient One to teach Strange their ways and give him a chance. Then there was The Ancient One who did choose to teach Strange, and give him a chance, and understand that he would accept the choices The Ancient One had made, even as Mordo could not. These were all the tiny ripples that made Doctor Strange the hero that no longer feared for his own life or well-being, but chose to sacrifice himself again and again to Dormammu in order to hold the destruction of Earth at bay.

Strange finally came to see that life had meaning, that it was worth fighting for, that there is good and evil in the world and that there needs to be someone to hold the line. More so, that he had the capability to fight that evil, and so he had the obligation to do what needed to be done to save the world, even at the possible cost of his own life. Repeatedly. “The bill comes due” (Mordo). In the end everything we do has consequences, and so everything we do has meaning, because with each action we change not just our lives, but the lives of those around us. We have meaning in this universe because of what we can bring to it, and each of us are at times placed in a position that could make huge changes in another’s life whether we realize it or not. Let the ripples we send out be those to make the world a better place; let the universe know that you do indeed have a purpose and that it cannot be indifferent to someone who could so easily change it.

What’s New Pussycat?

BOOK 1: An American Werewolf in Hoboken  by  Dakota Cassidy

What’s New Pussycat?  description:

Derrick Adams is not happy. His pack of wolves isn’t like all the others. He’s got a brother who found his lifemate in the pound, a cousin who’s a vegetarian and now he has a lifemate of his own and she isn’t barking.
Martine Brooks is in a pickle. Derrick Adams is in a jam.
Pickles and jam. Not exactly a hot combo. Unless the “pickle” is a sultry, sassy cat shifter and the “jam” is a gorgeous hunk of wolf.

Derrick is cursed to die if he doesn’t make the woot-woot with his life mate on the night of the next full moon. Martine’s been held captive by a power-hungry warlock for six long months, forced to do his bidding before finding herself stuffed in a cat carrier and ditched at a 7-Eleven.

After rescuing her from a dumpster, Derrick and Martine strike a mutually beneficial deal: Mate, save a life, walk away—both alive and kicking. Win! Yet, there are kinks in the plan. Like the fact that Martine’s one-time captor is on the hunt, planning to extinguish all of her nine lives at once. Or the fact the curse threatening Derrick’s life is about to throw him a monster curve ball.
But the biggest kink might prove to be Derrick and Martine themselves, two avowed commitment-phobes…who are beginning to wonder what forever looks like.

 

BOOK 2: What’s New Pussycat?   3 STARS

The humor wasn’t as prominent as it was in the last book, though it still managed a light, fun story. However, it’s such an overused and ridiculous trope to have the two main characters be completely against the idea of a forever sort of love, and to then be surprised and unsure why they suddenly think about the other so much and are so happy to be near them. Regardless, it was nice that from the very beginning Martine knew exactly what was going on with Derrick, and happily agreed to be there for him, which did allow for other plot twists to come up. As well as for the fact that they’re in Cedar Glen for the most part, and so we get to see all the characters that were brought up previously and really get to know the strange bunch of paranormals that make up this little safe haven. It really added to the story, and makes for the promise of more books set here a rather appealing one. I want to know what’s to come of all these characters, not just the main ones that are the star of the book. Derrick, of course, is a werewolf, and it was funny for him to be initially opposed to Martine being his potential mate because she’s a cat, and we all know cats and dogs don’t mix. Martine was really the more interesting part, because she’s not just a cat shifter, she’s a witch’s familiar. This is the big driving point of the story, and gives us a lot more magic to deal with than just another shape-shifter to read about. Altogether it was a good story with a surprise ending.

An American Werewolf in Hoboken

An American Werewolf in Hoboken by Dakota Cassidy  description:

Wooing a life mate can be hard enough for a wolf, wooing one while under the threat of a curse even more so.
Wooing a mate while pretending to be her dog? Nearly impossible.

After being drugged and captured by Animal Control, Max Adams is on Hoboken’s doggie death row when his life mate adopts him, takes him home, and promptly names him Fluffy. While JC, in all her new-pet-owner-ness, feeds “Fluffy” vile kibble, dresses him in mortifying dog couture, and schedules to have his manhood removed, Max’s human side gets to know JC. Especially in the biblical sense.

Hopefully well enough to make her fall madly in love, mate with him under the full moon, and move with him to Cedar Glen to live happily every after forever and ever amen. And fast.
Because the curse comes with a deadline…and the clock is ticking.

BOOK 1: An American Werewolf in Hoboken   5 STARS

This book earned every star for all the non-stop laughter it gave me. I was practically smothering myself trying to remain quiet in public, because it is that hilarious. Yet, while it had it’s silly quirks, it honestly brought up some interesting challenges and dangers that a shifter might would actually face in the world. Like being caught in wolf form by animal control, and drugged before you knew what hit you. And the things Max goes through trying to keep JC happy, and unaware that her new dog is actually a man, was so wrong it was… yes you guessed it, hilarious. There are no complaints about this story. From the way the paranormal world works, to why Max is cursed, and all about their little haven in Cedar Glen was just a fun adventure. JC is an awesome girl with a big heart who just wants to take care of her overgrown dog she just saved, and Max is just a man stuck in an impossible situation and trying to figure out which way is up. All the characters around them really filled in the tale, and are something to look forward to seeing again in future books. I’m definitely going to be diving into book 2 as soon as I can.

A Girl Named Calamity

A Girl Named Calamity  by  Danielle Lori  description:

I was a simple farm girl living in the magical land, Alyria, where men ruled and women only existed.
Call me sheltered. Call me naive. I was probably both. I never expected to be the key to Alyria’s destruction.

The journey I was on wasn’t only one to save me. But one where I had a lot of learning to do. With men. With magic. And with myself.
But I wasn’t alone. I had an escort. One I wasn’t so sure about. But one I couldn’t afford to lose and one I wasn’t so sure I could even leave.

I had many hopes. But the most important one was that my name wouldn’t become my fate.

WARNING: This novel contains blood, violence, profanity, and some sexual content.
It does end on a cliffhanger.

BOOK 1: A Girl Named Calamity   4 STARS

If there ever was a character too stupid to live, it would be Calamity. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book. I tore through it as fast as I could wanting to know what would happen next. Between the fascinating cities, such as the one surrounded by cold fire, the insane history of areas that lie cursed, and just the varying cultures that exist within this world were all wonderfully developed and alive in this book and sucks you in from the start. Character wise, Weston is probably the best part of the story. He’s not a good guy, you can’t even describe him as an anti-hero, because he’s rather villainous. And yet he’s the one that has to repeatedly save Calamity from trouble that she gets herself into 90% of the time, because she stubbornly refuses to listen to any of Weston’s warnings, or even just plain common sense. She’s wishy-washy on everything, from whether she wants to cut her hair to whether she wants to sleep with basically every guy that comes her way. Yes, she is a horn-dog. I don’t think I’ve ever described a girl as asking to be raped, but that’s her. And I don’t mean she’s a tease, though she definitely is, or in any way saying the way she’s dressed is just too tempting for a guy. I mean, a guy literally tries to rape her and then she’s mad at Weston for saving her. And then she fantasizes about what it would’ve been like if he hadn’t stopped. How she’s still a virgin is the true mystery of this book. I mention all of this mainly because I know how such topics can be very uncomfortable for some readers, though this isn’t an erotic book by any means. But there is a lot of talk of rape and violence towards women in general, and that’s something you should be aware of. Honestly I hope that Calamity matures a bit more by the next book, and gets her head on straight. Weston can keep being murderously evil and sexxy and just pretty much his awesome self.

Dawn Dagger has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1.      What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

My name is Dawn Dagger. You can find me on my blog here, or my Facebook page here

2.      Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

I seriously enjoy photography. It’s so much fun getting in weird and different angles and making the people around you see the world differently than it was originally in the photo. It’s like writing, only through interpretation. 

3.       How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I finished my first official book about Christmas when I was six, so a very long time. I’ve written in fantasy, young adult, mystery, horror, picture book, sci-fi, romance, and mythology based. So, pretty much all of the genres. 

4.      What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

My greatest influence is actually abstract ideas. I once formed a whole story by seeing a t-shirt of what looked like a girl spray painting a wall, and it wasn’t even what was on the shirt. Heh. I sometimes drag from life experiences (not most of the time, though), and other authors do greatly influence my writing. Their writing style can be seen reflecting in mine if I read them too much. 

5.      Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

‘Am I currently…’ *laughs* Yeah I am. Over 36 different novels and novellas. I am writing past love stories about the characters in My British Bear and how they fell in love. I’m writing a series about a Meta-human trying to survive in a world where society is raised to be wary of those with powers. I’m writing a fantasy about a girl who meets a half-elf and who’s aunt gets kidnapped by ogres from their farm in the mountains. I’m writing a story about Robin Hood’s daughter who is raised by Guy of Gisborne, a couple different series about dragons, a prophecy with the son of a Valkyrie, a try-hard wizard, and a barbarian girl who finds a griffin, a pirate fantasy story about a pirate captain whom is secretly the prince of a land taken over by evil and a maid girl, and so, so many more. 

6.      How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I usually have one idea and jump headfirst into the paper. If I’m really responsible I’ll later go back and slightly map it. The only time character bios happen is when I’m bored on the bus on the way to school, or I forgot the eye color one too many times. I usually don’t just focus on one. I have so many ideas flowing through my head all of the time I work on many at once, and if I start reading books they just keep coming. Never one at a time.

7.      What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I consider my ability to come up with ideas, characters, and dialogue on the snap a great strength. I have a good knack for being able to have different characters and am really descriptive, but I do lack in being able to finish books. I’ll start a book and get a good chunk in, then forget about it and never finish it. I also have a bad habit of straying far away from my original idea and not being able to come up with titles.

8.      After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I’ve never marketed before, but I plan on doing something along these lines: first off, my librarian said that if I self publish he would order the book for the library, and I would be added to the wall in the library of published authors from our city. DJ (aforementioned librarian), will probably advertise it as well. I will tell my previous Power of the Pen coach and my school so they know about it and can do their own thing. I’ll continually post on my Facebook, Wattpad, Blog, and Website about the book, and most likely find other ways to get it out there.

9.      What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Never give up, and you are good enough. To write you have to read. Read books like you’re writing. If it’s a sharp, snappy character’s point of view make sure to read lots of books like it (in this case, Percy Jackson or Maximum Ride) and get the feel for it. Don’t be sad if you don’t finish, you will eventually. Whatever you put your mind to you can accomplish.

Sleuthing with the Enemy

BOOK 1: To Trust a Wolf  by  Danielle Hardgrave

Sleuthing with the Enemy  description:

Somebody just stole a valuable artifact from the Helsen archives, and Annemette Helsen—a very pissed off werewolf—is going to make sure they pay for it.
There’s just one problem: Anna’s only suspect is the arrogant vampire prince, Jonas Weiss. He’s cocky, frustrating, and a little bit sexy. Okay, a lot sexy.
He also claims to be innocent, so the fact that she just broke into his home and attacked him is problematic.
And his price for keeping silent about the whole debacle? Downright devious.

BOOK 2: Sleuthing with the Enemy   4 STARS

This was far more developed than the first book, and you really get a good look into the set up of the supernatural world. We get a lot more of their lore, and how their governing systems work within their hidden community. While Helen and Rune do show up a bit in here, it’s really all about Annemette and Jonas, and I like how this is moving forward from the last book, and showing the significance of the bracelet from the first. Anna and Jonas have some clear chemistry from the beginning, but Hardgrave does a great job of really developing the characters and not just having them jump in together. Anna, especially, goes through a lot of growth in this story, and it really helps you feel for them. That being said, this book has its wonderful moments of hilarity. I found myself giggling and blushing on behalf of Anna with all the awkward situations she gets herself into. Altogether a great balance of action and humor. You should definitely be as happy as I was for Benji to show up again, and that mystery that continues to follow him has me dying to know more. However, there’s 2 big questions I have to ask. First, how is it that there aren’t any cops coming after Rune after that whole thing of Helen reporting him for theft and assault? Second, what the heck is a permie? I mean I get that’s their slang for regular human, but where did that term come from, because it sounds like something you’d call someone with a bad perm job. Would love some explanations. Hopefully it’ll come in the next book, which I will be snatching up as soon as possible.

Kyle Robert Shultz has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

Hi! *waves* I’m Kyle Robert Shultz. My blog is at www.kylerobertshultz.com, my Twitter handle is @kylerbrtshultz, and you can find my Facebook author page at www.facebook.com/kylerobertshultz. Basically, just type “Kyle Robert Shultz” into anything, and my face will probably pop up. Even on ATM machines.

  1. Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.

You mean there’s another world besides this? *peeks out the window in amazement* No, seriously, I do other stuff besides write. My hobbies include horseback riding and caring for a small flock of miniature sheep. I also love digital art, and I’m slowly working to improve my skills in that area.

  1. Your series, Beaumont and Beasley, is a retelling of several fairy tales. What exactly drew you to fairy tales, and what inspired you to write them in such a way?

To be honest, I’ve never really been drawn to fairy tales. I’m not even a Disney fan, per se–about the only Disney films I actually love are Tangled and The Emperor’s New Groove. But, the basic premise of retelling classic stories has always fascinated me. I love seeing the new twists that Marvel and DC put on familiar characters when they make their movies. And since all those characters are off-limits to me, I decided I’d try to make something cool and imaginative with public-domain stuff. In the setting of my series, pretty much every public-domain story and character exists, not just classic fairy tales.

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Steven Moffat are the three authors who have had the most profound impact on my writing. Narnia and Middle-Earth got me started liking fantasy, but it was Doctor Who that showed me how to break all the rules to create something really fun and unexpected. I also can’t say enough good things about the encouragement I’ve gotten from other writers on social media. That’s been a huge boost to my creativity.

  1. While there’s only 2 books out in your series so far, The Beast of Talesend and The Tomb of the Sea Witch, you’ve already shown covers for 2 more books to come. Did you know exactly where this tale was going to take you when you started or has it been surprising you along the way?

I had a rough idea where it was going to go, but there have been some surprises. Basically, I’ve had an endgame in mind for the series for a long time (not necessarily a final “end,” just a culmination of the current story arcs). However, additional stories have sprung up between Book 1 and the climactic future books I have in mind. I’ve been putting off a fairly shattering story based on Cinderella for a long time now. Pretty soon I’m going to have to get cracking on it. My readers are going to hate me…

  1. Do you have any plans for stories outside of the fairy tale realm or are you focusing just on the book before you now?

I do have lots of ideas sitting around in my notebooks, but given the positive response to Beaumont and Beasley, I think it will be wisest for me to continue building this brand for the time being. I don’t feel that I have anything quite as unique and fun to write as B&B in my ideas list at the moment. But if the series reaches a natural end, or if I just want to take a break from it for a while, I know I have other stuff to fall back on.

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I think funny, snarky dialogue is my main strength. It’s all the other stuff that I have a problem with. XD My initial drafts usually read like movie scripts, and I have to go back in and add all the necessary description to flesh out the story. When my characters are sparking off each other in dialogue, writing is a breeze. The quieter scenes that rely on imagery are the ones I need to keep practicing.

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

My marketing is generally based on real, interpersonal connections rather than paid advertising. Not that I’m knocking paid advertising; I’m just not very experienced with it at the moment (I’m working on that). The way I market at the moment is to just put myself out there. I try to befriend people instead of just yelling “Buy my book!” at them. So far, this approach has had a lot of positive benefits. That being said, my tip to other writers is to be bold about sharing your writing. Don’t be obnoxious about it, but don’t be timid either. Never apologize in advance for what you’ve written, no matter how dubious you may be about it. Pitch it to people like it’s the best thing in the world. Own what you’ve created.

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

My advice to a new writer is twofold:

First of all, put your writing online for free. Share it on a critique website like Scribophile, or on the YouTube for stories which is Wattpad. This will get you helpful feedback and allow you to start building your audience.

Second, STOP putting your writing online for free. Once you’ve learned enough from reader feedback to progress beyond rookie mistakes, start charging for what you create. Go ahead and publish it on Kindle. It sounds scary. It IS scary. But it’s the only way you’ll ever actually get started as a writer. Strange as it may sound, crossing that fine line between having your work on the web and having it published–even self-published–makes a ton of difference.

M.L. LeGette has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

For my writing, I use an abbreviation of my initials: M.L. LeGette. Everywhere else, I go by Melissa.

I’m on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mllegette/),

Twitter (https://twitter.com/MelissaLeGette),

Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/melissalegette/boards/),

Tumblr (https://mlegette.tumblr.com/),

and Instagram (@melissalegette).

My blog is Come What May (https://legettewrites.wordpress.com/)

  1. Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing?

I’m a small scale vegetable farmer with an even smaller flock of sheep. If you’re around the Athens, GA area, stop by the farmers market at Bishop Park and buy some potatoes. They’re wicked good. I’m also a hobbyist photographer (Garden Windows Photography). I love to bake, though I don’t often have the time during the height of farming season, and I’m teaching myself how to knit. Second pair of gloves is underway.

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

I credit J.K. Rowling for opening my eyes to storytelling. I’d been exploring writing before discovering her Harry Potter series, but it wasn’t until I read them that the bomb in my brain went off. Her ability to make every scene as vivid as a film, how she fleshes out the minor characters as much as the leads, her play of light and dark, the balance of serious and silly – it’s these aspects that connected with me the most and have stuck with me over the years.

  1. Now you have a few books that are already out for sale, can you tell us about them?

The Unicorn Girl is my first full length novel. It’s a fantasy adventure about a young girl who discovers she has a powerful connection with the legendary creatures and must travel across her homeland in search of them.

The Tale of Mally Biddle is my second. I took a step away from magic with it. Mally, the protagonist, juggles working as a servant in a castle full of dangerous knights while trying to find the answers to the questions spinning around the heir to the throne.

  1. One of your stories, The Orphan and the Thief, you actually took down to rewrite. What was it like going back to work on your story? Considering how often authors complain about simple editing, was this an experience you’ve enjoyed?

I loved it. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed rewriting the story. It helped a lot in that I was spurred on by excellent feedback/suggestions from an agent. I’m not entirely sure if I would have been able to muster up the energy or enthusiasm to take on an undertaking of this magnitude without such outside interest. It also ended up being surprisingly easy. The rewrite happened years after I finished The Orphan and the Thief. I think having such a stretch of time away from the project helped me see the areas that needed improvement. This might be why rewrites are generally so very hard to stomach for writers. When we finish a project, we’re so high on excitement and pride that the prospect of major reconstruction makes many of us want to punch something … or someone. I think the rewrite was also so much fun for me because I’d already gone through the terrible stages of writers block and plot construction. Now, I was exploring. I was fleshing out the story. I was diving deeper into the characters. And that was all immensely enjoyable.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I like working on one main project at a time, but I’ve got notebooks full of story ideas.

I’m a write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of girl. I like to spend a few days hashing out the general idea of a story: the main focus, the overall atmospheric vibe of the story, the characters most basic motivations. And then I write. I let the writing take the lead. If things start feeling wrong – if the story seems off all of a sudden – I take a step back. I evaluate. I ask myself what exactly is missing/wrong/off, and I make the necessary changes. This process typically repeats many times in the first few chapters. I’m essentially testing the story out. I ended up deleting a large chunk of the first draft of Orphan, because I realized it was going in a direction that wasn’t working for the rest of the story. In the story I’m working on now, it took many drafts of the first three chapters before it dawned on me that the setting wasn’t working.

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I think my greatest strength is dialogue. I like keeping my dialogue exchanges as natural as possible, and that usually comes easily for me. Creating relatable characters is also a strength in my writing. It’s extremely important to create characters that the reader roots for, or is fascinated or terrified by. But writing characters that the readers embrace is difficult and often takes me many, many drafts to get right.

I’m not a plotter, so my storylines are usually very simple. I have a tendency to focus too much on the individual scenes in a chapter and forget about the bigger picture … or forget about deepening my characters. Luckily, this is where rewrites come in.

  1. While you’ve actually had your books out and for sale for a while now, you’ve recently kind of done a clean slate approach and starting anew with your approach to publishing and marketing. From the way you began and the way you’re going about it now, is there anything you’d advise beginning authors to try or to avoid?

That is a heavy and very good question. As you know, I started out in self-publishing, nudged my big toe up against traditional publishing, and have now ventured fully into serially posting weekly chapters of Orphan’s rewrite online. Honestly, I don’t believe there is any right or wrong. There is only exploration and your own personal desires.

When publishing traditionally didn’t work out, I was both discouraged and relieved. Relieved, in that I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted the pressure and expectations that go along with publishing deals. Discouraged, in that I couldn’t see a clear future for my writing.

Trying to make a living at being a writer is incredibly hard, if not downright impossible, at least for the sort of writing I do — mainly middle grade and young adult. The moment I told myself that I didn’t need to make my books make me money, the pressure vanished. The question then simply became where do I put my writing? For me, writing has always been about sharing. I write for myself, yes, but I also write for interaction. It’s an incredible feeling to connect with readers. I’m posting chapters of The Orphan and the Thief to Wattpad and my own blog, Come What May. My tumblr is dedicated to teasers, excerpts, and painting an aesthetic vibe of the story. When the last chapter is posted, I plan on making the book available on Kindle and as a print-on-demand paperback. When my next book is finished – which will be years from now – I’m going to ask myself the same questions. What do I want? Am I up for another round at the big publisher’s table? Do I want to post chapter by chapter or go straight to ebook? Do I wish to market the book through blog tours or festivals? I don’t expect to be able to answer these questions now, but when the time comes I know the answers will be there.

This is why giving advice is so difficult. We all want different things from our writing. But my big advice points are:

  1. If you choose to spend money on marketing, and that includes travel expenses to bookstore signings and festivals, have a budget. Most marketing does not work and that is why you must be careful about how much money you spend.
  2. Have a presence online. You don’t have to be on every social media, unless you want to. I’ve only recently joined tumblr and it is by far my favorite place to be.
  3. Take your time on your writing. Get it as good as you can. If you self-publish it, know that you can rewrite it to make it even better whenever you want, just as I did.
  4. If you’re interested in getting a book deal, query before self-publishing. It’s a terrible truth, but many traditional publishers do not want books that have been self-published unless they have already proven themselves popular on the market.
  5. Most important of all, choose the outlet that keeps you writing. Writing is not about being in bookstores or getting awards or having the six figure advance. Writing is your love and your best friend. Never forget that.