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Friday, March 31, 2017

#CJSReads REVIEW: Bleeding Heart by Lauren Bishop

Bleeding Heart by Lauren Bishop
Self Published
Debut Novel

An impressive debut novel from Michigan native, Lauren Bishop. See our collective thoughts below on this psychological thriller.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Simone is an only child growing up in Michigan with her two loving parents. They give her the world and she doesn’t want for anything. She spends her summers in her plush tree house that rivals some homes and her winters skiing in Minnesota with her best friends. 

But one spring day everything changes. Her parents never come home and she's left with only memories. 

It's been years since her parents’ death and she's gone from foster homes to crashing with friends. She finds herself defeated with nowhere to go and desperation sets in. 

Neil is a sinister man that feeds off of control. He has a way of always getting what he wants. Simone is young, beautiful and vulnerable. He has to have her. He becomes her knight in shining armor and sweeps her off of her feet. Little does she know getting wrapped up in Neil’s web will be the worst mistake of her life. 
Living as Neil’s prisoner, Simone doesn't think things could get any worse. But when Neil sets his sights on a new conquest obsession and murder threaten everyone in his path. With her life at stake, Simone must dig deep within herself to finally find a way out. 

Jessica's Thoughts:
5 / 5 Stars

I loved this book! I had no idea what to expect going into this, and I was incredibly impressed. I really enjoyed the different perspectives throughout the book - its a writing style I've always liked because it answers so many questions as the story progresses. 

Without giving away too much of the book, we follow Simone in her current situation. She's living with Neil, a man that thrives off of control, and they have a unique relationship (think Doll House or the relationship between Jack and Grace in Behind Closed Doors). Neil sets his sights on Vanessa and his obsession has made him a ticking time bomb and Simone must tread carefully. 

This book got going in the first chapter and didn't stop. I loved the back stories and learning how Simone got to where she was currently. We really get a picture painted of her past; what she had to overcome in her life, and how she became tangled up with Neil. Lauren Bishop did a great job creating the characters. You could relate to Simone, you were creeped out by and hated Neil, and you felt for Vanessa for getting caught up in his web, despite her resistance.

It was a quick read and I really enjoyed it! I would highly recommend this one. I give this 5/5 stars.

Follow Jessica on Goodreads or Instagram

Sam's Thoughts:
3 / 5 Stars

Bleeding Heart, the debut novel by Lauren Bishop, is one of those books that you read and then are not 100% sure where to categorize it.  With elements of a coming of age story, suspense, domestic thrillers and tragic archetypes, this one had me thinking. 

Told in multiple perspectives through multiple moments in time, Bishop takes the reader on an intricate journey through the life of Simone.  The novel opens in crisis as we are introduced to the abusive Neil and his “daughter” Simone.  Told through flashbacks and memories, we find out that Simone’s world had been turned upside down with the loss of her parents and has bounced from foster home to foster home since.  Struggling with a negative peer group and her own desperation, she fell prey to Neil, a man who seemed to be her knight in shining armor but who, in reality, is a sinister sociopath that feeds off of control.  Back to the present, as Simone becomes more tangled in Neil’s web and feels as if things could not become any worse, she realizes that Neil has a new target and the story begins to unfold rapidly. 

This novel had me asking continuous questions and struggling to understand the motivations of the characters.  This is not a novel that you will read complacently; instead, this one will have you actively trying to weave out the plot.

The content in this one is strong and explicit, however, I found that there were definite moments where this one read more like a YA novel than a twisty, suspense thriller.   Mind you, the main character is in her teens, so perhaps this was to be expected.   

Overall, I enjoyed the general story and will be looking forward to see how Lauren Bishop flourishes in her next published works!  I gave this one a 3/5 stars on Goodreads. 

Follow Sam on InstagramTwitter, Goodreads and her Blog!

My Thoughts:
4 / 5 Stars

Suffering a traumatic loss growing up, Simone shuffles from place to place. She just wants to fit in or be loved but keeps falling into the wrong crowd or being the victim of her foster siblings abuse. Neil is a controlling narcissist who is looking for that perfect woman. Setting his sights on Simone, he holds her captive for two years before seeking out new blood. He sets his sight on Vanessa, who promising her friends would date "outside of the box", makes the wrong decision in accepting a date from Neil. Can Simone save Vanessa from becoming a captive like she is?

The chapters bounce back and forth between Simone at various ages of her life, Neil and Vanessa. I flipped to the first page not knowing what to expect and the next thing I knew, I was halfway through the book. I couldn't wait to get on my lunch break and then home to finish it yesterday. What a thrilling debut! Completely fast paced! Kept me wondering, why didn't Simone just leave? What the hell was Vanessa thinking? How is Neil getting away with all this shit? WHAT?! 100% impressing with this debut novel. I can only see Lauren's writing getting better and more cohesive with every book she writes... and I most definitely will be reading them! Like psychological thrillers that read quickly and keep you turning the pages? Jump on the Bleeding Heart!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Book Bday, Blitz & GIVEAWAY! The Animal Under The Fur by E. J. Mellow

The Animal Under
E.J. Mellow
Publication date: March 30th 2017
Genres: Action, Adult, Romance
From award-winning author E. J. Mellow comes an action romance dripping with vengeful delight.
Orphaned on the streets as a baby, Nashville Brown, a.k.a Kill Operative 3, knows better than to rely on anyone. With heightened senses and superhuman strength to survive, she’s been raised as the perfect assassin.
The trick to her success? Keeping everyone, even her best friend, at arm’s length.
Losing his entire family in the span of a year, Carter Smith left his ability to love buried deep in their graves. His only concerns now are completing his missions and effortlessly charming the next temptress to warm his bed.
The key to his accomplishments? Working alone mixed with a Casanova smile.
But when a deadly weapon needs to be stopped from falling into the wrong hands, the lone wolves find themselves thrown into an explosive partnership. Can Carter and 3 lower their guns aimed at one another long enough to succeed, or will their unwillingness to compromise end up destroying more than their perfect records? Whatever their differences, both agree on one thing—in the game of lies and deceit, the line between friend and foe is often blurred by blood splatter.
The Animal Under The Fur is a hate-to-loath-to-love standalone novel filled with savagery, secrets, and enough angst to wrinkle the pages you’ll find gripped in your hands.

Author Bio:
E.J. Mellow is the award-winning author of the contemporary fantasy trilogy The Dreamland Series and The Animal Under The Fur. With a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts, E.J. Mellow splits her time between her two loves – visual design and writing. Residing in NYC, E.J. is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter. She has no animals but loves those who do.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Six-Word Stories - Prompting your way to MicroFiction

James Fahy & Beverley Lee :
The King & Queen of Bookstagram ♚♛

If you're on Bookstagram (Instagram's book lovers community), then you have probably crossed paths with James Fahy (@jamesfahyauthor) and/or Beverley Lee (@theconstantvoice) at some point or another.  Not only are they two of the nicest people you'll ever interact with, they also write books, raise animals, interact with their followers consistently and support everyone in the community in whatever bookish endeavor they may have.  

They inspired the minds of Bookstagram in February with their first 6 WORD STORY prompt challenge listed below.  I was an active participant and had a BLAST trying to come up with good stories.   After taking the month of March off to work on their upcoming individual books (continue below for a list of their books w/synopses), they're back at it again - with a new challenge ready for the willing starting on April 1st (no foolin')! 

February challenge                                                       April challenge

Use the prompts on the right (where it says April challenge πŸ˜‰) and join in the fun!

Here are some examples from February's challenge - a mix of James, Bev's and I... take of it what you will 😈:

Haven't had the pleasure of coming across James or Beverley? Well that simply won't do! I've read all of their books and can truthfully say (and I'm always right πŸ˜‰) that they are ALL good!  Not big on trust?  No problem!  Scroll down and see the blurbs of all their books (CLICK TITLES to see my reviews) and decide for yourself if it's your cup of tea (or shot of absinthe), links to my reviews and keep an eye on this space for their upcoming work.  

Let's start with the legendary James Fahy.  Writer of Fantasy and Paranormal Fiction/Urban Gothic Novel.  He writes two series concurrently - The Changeling Series and The Phoebe Harkness Series.   

"James is traditionally published,  represented by The Ampersand Literary Agency in Oxford and both the Changeling and Harkness books have been published by Venture Press, the digital imprint of London publishers Endeavour Press. Although he is very active on social media with promotions and competitions, and enjoys supporting indie authors and their work wherever possible.

He lives in the North of England amongst moors and wind turbines, with his extremely patient family, an excitable Akita and a very old cat.
When not writing or playing on social media, he cooks a lot, and occasionally sleeps." (This blurb taken straight from his website: - go check him out!)

The Changeling Series:

Isle of Winds is the first installment in a Middle-Grade age fantasy series 

Robin Fellows lives with his grandmother and lives what appears to be a rather ordinary life for a normal twelve year old boy.

But when Robin’s Gran dies, quite suddenly and a bit mysteriously, his world is turned upside down. A long lost relative comes out of the woodwork and whisks him away to a mysterious new home, Erlking Hall, a quiet estate in the solitary countryside of Lancashire.

Suddenly Robin must adjust to his new reality. But reality is no longer what he thought it was…

Erlking has many secrets – as do his newly found Great-Aunt Irene and her servants. After a strange encounter on the train and meeting a cold, eerie man on the platform, Robin begins to notice odd happenings at Erlking.

There is more than meets the eye to this old, rambling mansion.
Little does he know that there is more than meets the eye to himself.

Robin is the world’s last Changeling. He is descended from a mystic race of Fae-people, whose homeland, the Netherworlde, is caught in the throes of a terrible civil war.

Not only this, but in this new world there is a magical force that has infiltrated the human realm.

Before he can wrench power from the malevolent hands of the Netherworlde’s fearsome tyrant leader, Lady Eris, he must first search for the truth about himself and the ethereal Towers of Arcania.

The first installment of The Changeling Series, Isle of Winds is an engrossing tale written in the traditions of high fantasy story-telling while carving out a magical new realm. It is perfect for fans of The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series.
The Drowned Tomb. War is coming. The summer heat is sweltering, and the young changeling, Robin Fellows, awaits further training. He has gained much skill in the Shard of Air, but what is coming next? After his previous tutor was revealed to be an agent of the mortal enemy of all Fae, Lady Eris, Robin is assigned a new mentor to continue his magical learning. Enter Calypso, a water nymph and member of the race of Panthea that also inhabit the mysterious, enchanted Netherworlde. Her job: to instruct Robin in the Shard of Water, a powerful magic with which the user can cast huge bolts of ice and command entire oceans to bear down his or her will. But all is not well at Erlking Hall, and war is fast approaching the Netherworlde. More agents of Lady Eris are in pursuit of young Robin, the Scion of the Arcania and last Changeling in the world. They’re out for the Shard of Water as well. And they’ll stop at nothing to find it, no matter who gets in their way… 
What follows is a spellbinding journey, as Robin and company navigate once more the enchanting and at times terrifying Netherworlde. The Drowned Tomb is the mesmerizing second instalment of James Fahy’s bestselling Changeling series. Perfect for fans of High Fantasy storytelling and fae mythology, this sequel to Isle of Winds is a must have. 
Book 3 - Chains of Gaia - coming Spring 2017!

The Phoebe Harkness Series:

New Oxford. 

A third of the human population has been lost. 

The wars came, and they created a monster. The Pale, a subhuman, vampire-like drone. Then they lost control.

In the thirty years that followed, humankind sought to rebuild itself within the walls of New Oxford. 

But society had become fractured – humans now lived incongruously among Genetic Others, themselves a group of many subspecies. 

The most dangerous of them all: the vampires. 

Somehow, these groups have managed a peaceful co-existence under the controlling government influence of the Cabal. But that is all about to change… 

When Phoebe Harkness receives a phone call in the middle of the night, things take a turn to the horrifying. Her supervisor at Blue Lab One, a high-security research facility, has gone missing. 

And all that is left behind: her teeth. 

Dr Harkness now finds herself in a race against time to stop further bloodshed and uncover the mystery behind the victims of this horrific crime. She must navigate the dark underworld of the vampire community, without becoming someone’s prey herself… 

But she is not alone – on her side, against all odds, is another vampire. Together they must fight for answers before it’s too late… 

Hell’s Teeth is the gripping first instalment of the urban gothic Phoebe Harkness series. It follows the young doctor as she stalks through the corrupt dystopia of New Oxford.

What do you do when your world is turned upside down?

When you discover your father had a direct hand in the genocide of much of the world’s human population?

Phoebe Harkness’ life has changed forever. Thirty years after a cataclysmic world war that eviscerated one third of the human population, a new sub-species of vampire-like drones has set its teeth to the survivors of humanity.

They’re not the only ones: ‘Genetic Others’ such as vampires, werewolves and more roam the streets of New Oxford, trying – and sometimes failing – to live peacefully amongst humankind.

But that is all about to change.

A spate of serial killings have occurred, rocking the already fragile ecosystem of New Oxford.

Brutal murders and mutilation are now commonplace.

Phoebe must get to work. She is named as liaison between the Genetic Others and the Cabal, the ruling order of the walled city.

She must negotiate with the Tribals, a subset of werewolves cast aside by the cultural hegemony of the Cabal.

But before she can make any progress with the Tribal leader, Kane, she learns of more murders – and three missing students. And Kane’s daughter is among the missing…

One of the victims leaves a message in blood: ‘Crescent Moon’.

Now Phoebe must act urgently with the help of Kane and her former paramour, vampire Allesandro to track down the culprit of these horrific killings.

But who is conducting all of these strange happenings behind the scenes?

And what does it have to do with the Crescent Moon…?

Crescent Moon is the gripping second instalment of the urban gothic Phoebe Harkness series. It follows the young doctor as she stalks through the corrupt dystopia of New Oxford.

Book 3 - Pale Children - coming 2017

Both the Changeling series and the Harkness books have been released in second edition anthologies: the Changeling anthology containing over 50 pages of bonus background material on the Netherworlde.
In addition to these two main series, James is also working on a short fiction compilation project, and a stand-alone novel. (as yet untitled)

I present to you, the beautiful and talented, Beverley Lee. (Keep an eye out next week for my Q&A with this lovely sparkle of joy!)

From as far back as she can remember, Beverley Lee has always been in thrall to the written word. Her earliest memories are of books and how they made her feel. She spent most of her formative years with her nose between the pages, or at the local library, devouring books, and losing herself in the worlds of fantasy and adventure. She was that child who would always try to find Narnia at the back of any available wardrobe. Even now the smell of paper in a bookshop makes her feel like she is eight again.

Her writing journey began at the age of seven, when she created terrible, but enthusiastically written, clichΓ© ridden pony stories, complete with illustrations, for her long suffering teacher. But she can’t remember a time when she didn’t make up stories in her head, even when there was no chance to write them down.The closest thing to magic that she knows is creating characters and new worlds that never existed before. She loves the way the images and voices take form, and the way they take on a life of their own as the words spill out. Beverley is very much drawn to the darker side of fiction and the shadowy place between light and darkness where nothing is quite as it seems. She loves flawed characters – they have a depth and a tantalising wealth of possibility.

Inspiration comes in many forms - a snippet of conversation, a stranger on the street, a song lyric fleetingly heard. Life is inspiration. The very best story is the one you have to tell.

She is a people watcher, a dreamer, a lover of nature and simple things. She collects feathers, picks up seashells and likes to run her fingers over old stone. There’s history there. Stories just waiting to be discovered.The best way to grow is to support other people and she is passionate about helping other writers as they begin their journey. (Blurb taken straight from her website:

The Gabriel Davenport Series:

In a house built on truth something lays hidden.

Beth and Stu Davenport moved to the English hillside town of Meadowford Bridge to give their young son, Gabriel, an idyllic, rural childhood. But in a single evening, the Davenports' dream is shattered by a hidden, ancient darkness-- and their lives are forever changed.

Years later, Gabriel Davenport, now a capable, curious young man, makes the ill-fated decision to go looking for answers about his mysterious past. As soon as he begins his quest, his life becomes a place of shadows. The people he loves and trusts are acting abnormally. The strange woman who lives upstairs is even more haunted than usual. Even his most trusted friend seems to be hiding something.

As one fateful night deepens, and the line blurs between darkness and light, Gabriel must confront the terrible events that destroyed his family all those years ago. He is faced with a choice: continue living the life that was never his to begin with, or give himself over to a terrifying new reality more sinister than anything he's ever known.

The darkness is watching.
A Shining in the Shadows.  (publishing 4/7/17)
Gabriel Davenport has been remade from darkness. Now, he must adapt to survive .

In a small seaside town, Gabriel's maker unwittingly takes his wards into the throes of a deadly new game. There are rumblings on The Bloodvyne, the mental web of linked vampire consciousness. Whispers about a cleansing, about the ruling council hunting vampires with impure blood.

Gabriel finds himself thrust into a new nightmare, where the hunter becomes the hunted. When his maker is taken, he must battle to untangle the mystifying clues laid out in an uncovered labyrinth to find the only creature strong enough to fight against those that hunt his new-found family.

Gaze long into the darkness, and you'll find old vampire foes out for revenge, new ones with their own agenda, and a witch who holds the key. But just who is the monster in the middle?

REVIEW & Author Q&A : Bleeding Heart by Lauren Bishop

Bleeding Heart by Lauren Bishop
4 out of 5 Stars
Self Published
Debut Novel

An impressive debut novel by Lauren Bishop - a fast paced psychological thriller that will keep you turning the pages!  Continue past my review below to see my Q&A with this beautiful writer from Michigan. πŸ’–

Suffering a traumatic loss growing up, Simone shuffles from place to place. She just wants to fit in or be loved but keeps falling into the wrong crowd or being the victim of her foster siblings abuse. Neil is a controlling narcissist who is looking for that perfect woman. Setting his sights on Simone, he holds her captive for two years before seeking out new blood. He sets his sight on Vanessa, who promising her friends would date "outside of the box", makes the wrong decision in accepting a date from Neil. Can Simone save Vanessa from becoming a captive like she is?

The chapters bounce back and forth between Simone at various ages of her life, Neil and Vanessa. I flipped to the first page not knowing what to expect and the next thing I knew, I was halfway through the book. I couldn't wait to get on my lunch break and then home to finish it yesterday. What a thrilling debut! Completely fast paced! Kept me wondering, why didn't Simone just leave? What the hell was Vanessa thinking? How is Neil getting away with all this shit? WHAT?! 100% impressing with this debut novel. I can only see Lauren's writing getting better and more cohesive with every book she writes... and I most definitely will be reading them! Like psychological thrillers that read quickly and keep you turning the pages? Jump on the Bleeding Heart!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Author Spotlight: Dana Fraedrich

Hey hey everyone!!  Have you met Dana yet?  No? Well here's your chance!  She's one of the sweetest people I've met on Instagram and has published not one, not two, but THREE books!  I have a copy of Out of the Shadows in my hands that I will be reading and reviewing later in the year, but I couldn't wait to put a little spotlight on this cutie.  Look below for synopses on her books, a Q&A I had with her AND an upcoming word prompt challenge for the month of April on Bookstagram! πŸ™Œ  She's been one busy bee! 

Dana Fraedrich is an independent author, dog lover, and self-professed geek.  Even from a young age, she enjoyed writing down the stories that she imagined in her mind.  Born and raised in Virginia, she earned her BFA from Roanoke College and is now carving out her own happily ever after in Nashville, TN with her husband and two dogs.  Dana is always writing; more books are on the way!

Books by Dana:

Out of the Shadows

When the Allens rescue Lenore from certain torment, she's offered a new life, a life that can save her from the underworld of crime in which she's forced to live. The universe is keeping score, however, and Lenore isn't the only one caught in this web of debt. Can she truly escape her past when it comes to find her or will she be drawn back into the darkness?

Homeless, orphaned, living in secret as a thief--Lenore Crowley just wants to survive, but the city of Springhaven has no sympathy for cases such as hers. She chose her path, and the consequences are hers alone. Being caught would mean certain death; her odds of survival are beginning to look bleak. When she meets the Allens, she's offered a new life. In a world where debts and oaths carry very real weight, however, this second chance comes at a price. Lives entangle, and Lenore soon find that her secrets aren't so secret. Someone is looking for her, someone who knows who she really is. One wrong move and everything around her might fall.

Fans of Gail Carriger, Garth Nix, and Marie Brennan will delight as this new world unfolds for them.  A multi-layered realm of history, subterfuge, colorful characters, potential, and lost magic and technology promises to entrance readers of all ages.

Skateboards, Magic, and Shamrocks
“No. It’s okay. I’ve read about this,” Ozzie replied excitedly. “We must have fallen into a rip in the space-time continuum and gotten dropped here into an alternate universe.”

“That’s fiction, you idiot!” Taryn hissed. “Science fiction. Stuff like that doesn’t happen in real life. We are obviously still dreaming or hallucinating or something.”

Taryn is just a normal high school student living a normal life. That is until she is thrown into a fantastical other-world with her former best friend, Ozzie. Taryn and Ozzie must then figure out a way to get back home, all while trying not to get killed or to kill each other in the process.

Heroes, Legends, and Villains
“So if you could choose to meet any character here, who would it be?” Ozzie asked.
“Any character?” Taryn asked curiously.
“I honestly don’t know. Kind of changes the game now that we potentially could, doesn’t it? What’s that saying? Don’t meet your heroes.”
Having survived their adventures in Leleplar, Taryn and Ozzie have moved on with their lives...for the most part. Life back in their own world has not come without its own share of problems, however. Just as Ozzie is trying to figure out which path to take in life, he and Taryn are dropped back into an unbelievable other-world. This time, though, their friend Smitty has been dragged along for the ride. How will they react when they encounter characters from literature in our own world? How will those characters react to them?

Where you can stalk her:
Amazon Author Page:
Instagram: @danafraedrich (
Tumblr:    @danafraedrich (
Twitter:    @danafraedrich  (

Now let's get into the nitty gritty of the Q&A so you can learn more about her 😁

What does your writing process look like?
I used to just write whenever I felt like it, whenever I was struck with some kind of inspiration.  Then I did NaNoWriMo, which taught me so much about being disciplined with my writing--mainly how to keep writing even when I had no ideas.  Now I'm just really bullheaded about writing.  I recently quit my normal 9 to 5 job and have given myself a writing-work schedule to follow.  When it's time to write, I sit down and start typing.  No more excuses!

What is the most difficult part of your writing process? Your writing Kryptonite?
Setting a scene is usually the last thing I think about when I'm writing, and I'm especially bad about landscapes and most room descriptions.  I like to dive right in with action and dialogue and then completely forget to write what's physically around the characters.  Doing NaNoWriMo helped me with this a little bit because descriptions using the five senses are a great way to knock out your word count, but it's still something I have to be really intentional about.  Even just thinking about it now feels frustrating because I know how big a weakness this is for me.

How many hours a day do you write?
Ideally, I try to spend six hours a day writing.  That's what I've scheduled for myself anyway, but sometimes other responsibilities take longer than I would like, so it's probably only about four or five hours on average.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
I talk to rubber ducks.  A while back, I ran across a post on social media that talked about a problem solving tactic wherein you explain the issue you're having to a rubber duck and then talk through it with your duck.  A comment on the post suggested more ducks for more complicated problems.  I shared this idea with my husband, who then proceeded to order forty-eight mini rubber ducks for me in support of my writing.  I now have the Quacker Council arranged across my desk, always ready to hear me out when I run into a story issue.

What is your least favorite part of the writing / publishing process? Favorite part?
Being an independent author, all of the marketing and social media and networking is on me, and I have zero marketing experience.  To be honest, I don't really know what I'm doing.  I just keep throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.  I don't hate it, but it's the least enjoyable part for me.  As for what I like the best: writing.  Oh, that I could just write all day long and my books went out and sold themselves.  I often write scenes with my characters that never end up being used just to test what that situation would be like, to find out what would happen.  The process of discovery that happens when you write is fascinating to me.  You know, you have your scene all planned out, so you start writing.  Suddenly, how things should actually go is so clear, and you veer off into that other direction.  I'm still amazed and excited when that happens.

Is there one particular subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I doubt I would ever do historical fiction.  For those that do, I have all the respect in the world.  Historical fiction requires so much research and accuracy, and there's cultural context to consider, notable figures of the day and their influence.  So many factors to consider!  I just don't think it would ever be my cup of tea.

Is there a type of scene that's harder for you to write than others?
I think action scenes are really tricky.  Like, is this maneuver even physically possible?  Would that really work?  I mean, I know we take some creative license when we write (sometimes a lot of creative license), but I (mostly) try to keep action scenes within the realm of possibility.  There have been times where I've acted out scenes in the middle of the room or asked my husband or friends to help me test an idea to see if it actually makes sense.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
Hurts, definitely.  I think we can only improve when we're aware of our shortcomings, and a big ego gets in the way of seeing those clearly.  I think having a big ego also affects what you expect from other people and how you treat them, never in a positive way.  Always stay humble, question yourself and your actions, and keep people in your life who have and will continue to call you on your crap.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I think the earliest example of this came from when we were really little and my parents would read bedtime stories to us.  I distinctly remember how different the way my mum read to us was from the way my dad did.  There was nothing wrong with either, but they were just different.  The voices they did for the characters were unique, the inflections and emphasis on words were their own.  I think that's when storytelling became something important to me.

How many unpublished/half-finished books do you have?
Oh my gosh, I don't even know.  I don't think it's fair to say I have a lot of half-finished works, as most of them are no more than beginnings or snippets of a bigger idea that have been added to over the years.  I do have one unpublished first draft for a new series that I really love, but it's not time yet to release it.  I just started the Broken Gears series, and I'm in the middle of the Skateboards, Magic, and Shamrocks series, so that first draft is going to have to wait it's turn.

How long does it usually take you to write a book?
I'm not really sure.  Since I just quit my regular 9 to 5 job to focus on my writing career, I'm hoping it will now only take me a few months.  My first two books were just pieced together over time.  Out of the Shadows, however, was a serious effort.  I got the first draft written in about eight or nine months.

If you could cast the characters of Out of the Shadows for a movie, who would play your characters?
Oh, this is such a fun question!  I don't know very many actors' names, though.  I'm usually the person going, "Oh!  That's the guy who played in that one episode of Doctor Who!"  I think Cobie Smulders would make a perfect Mina, and I like the idea of Ksenia Solo playing Lenore and Elizabeth Olsen playing Camilla.  I don't think these next choices are as good (especially due to the age difference between the actors and some of the characters), but it's the best I could think of with my limited knowledge of celebrities: Neal played by Anthony Mackie, Nicholas Hoult as Rook, Rahul Kohli as Eamon, and John Boyega as Dmitri.  I'm open to other suggestions.  Hit me up on social media to let me know who you'd choose instead.

Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I do.  I think feedback is important, but I don't generally respond to reviews.  I'm not sure the review section of Amazon or Goodreads or what have you is the right place to do that.  Rather, I'll respond to comments on social media or my GoodReads Ask the Author section.  And for anyone out there who's reading this, please don't be afraid to question me, my writing, choices, or to provide negative feedback.  I think open and honest dialogue is really important.

If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?
I'd probably do something with food.  I really love cooking and then eating what I cook.  My husband and a few of my friends have Celiac disease, so I've spent a lot of time and energy creating gluten-free versions of their favorite foods.  I'd probably do something that fits in with those recipes and innovations.

What's the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I feel a bit like a hypocrite for saying this because I spent years scoffing at the idea of specialized writing software.  I got Scrivener on massive discount a few months back, though, and I've never looked back.  The features packed into this program are so simple and yet absolutely ingenious.  I immediately latched onto the research section, and the synopsis cards are really brilliant for remembering what the heck happens in this or that chapter.  It's really brilliant and way less expensive than I expected such a specialized piece of software to be.  I think you can get a copy for about $50.

Have you ever gotten reader's block?  How did you get out of it?
I read a book once that I absolutely hated.  It killed my desire to read because it had me in such a funk, so I went back into familiar territory and started gorging myself on some really awesome fanart and fanfiction, mostly Dragon Age (my most favorite video game series of all time) and Harry Potter with a dash of Disney thrown in.  Revisiting beloved characters and places and adventures was the perfect medicine for getting over a bad book relationship.

Do you google yourself?
Not really.  If I do, it's to see which of my public profiles come up first.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Oh, I'm not sure how to answer this one because there are a couple of things I identify really strongly with.  I think if I had to choose just one, it would have to be a dragon.  Loud, expressive, can fly...yeah, I'd have that.  Plus, there's such a rich lore behind them, and there are a lot of different looks/types to choose from.  Perfect. :-)

What are you working on now? What is your next project?
Right now I'm working on a sequel to Out of the Shadows.  There are some things Out of the Shadows left *ahem* shall we say...unresolved.  A number of people are have been asking me if/when the next one is coming out, so I'm trying to get that done as soon as I can.

What literary character is most like you?
Hermione Granger, I think.  She and I are both a bit of a know it all, we look for answers in books, and we aren't afraid to speak up.  At least, I like to hope I'm like her.  She's pretty freakin' awesome.

What authors have inspired you?
Robin Mckinley must be mentioned here first.  She's been my favorite author for a long time, and it was her story that inspired me to take the leap to pursue a career as an author.  When I was twenty-seven, I read that she published her first book around that same age.  I already had a couple of different first drafts completed by then, and I thought to myself, "If I don't go for this, I'm going to regret it forever."  Chris Wooding and Seanan McGuire are who I look to when I need inspiration for darker story elements, and JK Rowling is, to my mind, the master of world building.  There are so many amazing authors that have inspired me over the years, though--Angie Sage, Tolkien, CS Lewis, Gail Carriger.  I think each one of them gives their readers a different gift.

What's one piece of advice you have received that has always resonated with you?

Keep writing and write what you love.  Unfortunately, I don't remember where I first heard this advice, but I think it's so important.  Your stories will never be told unless you write them, and even then they may never sell, so write what makes you happy and fulfilled.