I'm an Australian Foster Carer and Educator with over a decade of industry experience.  I run the Facebook page "More Than A Foster Carer", where I share my experience working with the foster system. I live in rural New South Wales with my husband, a changing number of children, a dog and some chickens. As a self proclaimed creative soul, I have had a passion for writing fiction from an early age. When I'm not wrangling chickens, children or dogs, I love to be whisked off on magical adventures, and tagging along on epic quests.

The Author: Lakish’a

17 year old aspiring screenwriter and author, Lakish’a, is the writer of the new psychological thriller, Escaping Mr. Grayson. Born and raised in Zambia, Lakish’a works tirelessly to create work that inspires, connects and above all else entertains not only her fellow Africans but also all of her readers across borders. Her works include, highly successful online books; Kylie Burklin’s Killer and Tell Me I’m Beautiful among other many works in progress. Accumulating over 19,000 reads on social writing platforms such as Wattpad and Scriblyz, Lakish’a has made it her main focus to continuously illustrate various stories that leave her readers with a sense of shock and pure anticipation in its most enthusiastic form. Lakish’a is headstrong and passionate towards relating to her thousands of readers all over the world and appreciates having the opportunity to include her audience in her imagination and give them a glimpse of the world(s) that she creates for her characters. Some of her work has been discussed during her interview with the successful arts blog, betterauds. When she’s not writing, you might find her listening to music, singing in her room, spending time with her family, keeping in contact with friends and above all else, dreaming big.


The Book: Escaping Mr. Grayson

21-year-old Nailea Tembo has always been the perfect definition of reserved and anti-social, continuously being forced to live the way that her mother and her society expect her to. When she’s assigned to be her new professor’s student assistant, it turns out to be the most notorious affair that’s ever hit Shakespeare University. At first glance, Professor Xavier Grayson is gorgeous, well educated, attentive and successful, causing Nailea’s seemingly prim and proper persona to take a complete one-eighty when she starts to have an illicit affair with her new lecturer. But when Professor Xavier Grayson grows more and more obsessively infatuated by Nailea, it proves to be a deliciously dangerous situation. Escaping Mr. Grayson is a psychological thriller that explores the fixation that a mentally ill psychopath has with his new student assistant. A story about danger, possession and obsession.


The Review: 4 stars!

“And when it comes to thrill, oh my dear sweet Nailea, I can be…insatiable.”

Escaping Mr. Grayson is a psychological thriller full of danger, obsession, and possession. Think 50 shades of Grey crossed with You.
There are many similar themes in this book as those I mentioned – however Lakish’a has managed to add a lot of darker undertones with her twisted character, Mr. Grayson.
Mental illness and the effects this has on people plays a huge roll in this story, and in a way that I haven’t really seen before. Lakish’a allows her characters to play out their dark fantasies, to give in to their core desires and just be bad. And I found myself full of anxious worry and guilty pleasure at the pure creepiness our MC comes across in the pages of the book.
I enjoyed the supporting characters too – the relationships between each of them was beautiful and raw.
Lakish’a wove a few amazing twists into the second half of her story, none of which I saw coming – the ending especially left me shaken and applauding the twisted creativity in the mind of our author.


The Interview:

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?

Mainly that as I’ve written, even before writing Escaping Mr. Grayson, I unconsciously put a little bit of my personality in each character that I create, or have created. It was so wild because I never realized it until very recently after I had just read my favorite chapter of the book (Chapter 18) and I had this lightbulb moment of like, “Oh my gosh…This is me”

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

Probably that our main protagonist Nailea has a sort of unhealthy, almost at the very edge of becoming obsessive, fixation towards her roommate Daisy. Nailea is the exact opposite of Daisy and, more than anything, she craves that feeling of liberation that just seems to come so easily to Daisy. It’s something that I really fought within myself over because I wanted so badly to incorporate it into the story as much as I could without really taking too much away from the main plot.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

I love all my characters the same. Haha. But yes, I have such a soft spot for Mr. Grayson himself because, I feel like he’s just so open to interpretation. As you’ll read in the book, he had an incredibly messed up childhood and although that doesn’t necessarily justify the things that he does, it does make you understand why he is the way that he is. I don’t know, I think also just as a person I’ve always been very intrigued by mental illness and the people that are affected by it so, being able to create my very own charming and complex psychopath is very special and almost intimate to me.

What was the inspiration for the story?

I remember reading a Wattpad novel, I don’t even remember the title, and there was a scene where this man had just come home from the hospital and he had been in a coma for a while so he went into his bathroom and washed his face and felt almost delirious. I’m not sure how my brain works haha, but, I was able to take that scene and create one of the first scenes in the book (in chapter 3) where my protagonist Nailea woke up the night after she slept with Mr. Grayson. So i don’t know, i guess things just sort of fell into pace after that. It’s kind of weird how it all worked out in the end.

What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

Just, the disgusting reality of human nature and how, you never really know the drastic and/or dangerous severity that might come from the little decisions that you make every single day. Although, I try not to have an exact and final meaning of any of my work purely because i like to leave that up to the reader. But, in my opinion. That was the message of the book.

What is the significance of the title?

To be completely honest, I suck at titles haha. The title doesn’t really have much of a significance. It was just the first thought that I had and it stuck.

What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?

No. No sequels. I’ve never been a fan of writing sequels (I’m not completely opposed to the idea of them though). Like I said before, I enjoy the idea of havng my readers make up their own fantasy endings and meanings and interpretations. Sometimes i think when you don’t have an exact ending, it makes the story that much more memorable and you have a lot of fun theorising over what would have happened next. I’ve read so many book whose endings I was just so disappointed by and that’s the one thing i try to avoid in my own work. So, to answer the question, What is the future for the characters? Well, I’m happy to leave that to my readers’ imagination. It’s whatever you want it to be.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book? What was the highlight of writing this book?

Other than trying to find the time to actually sit down and write, It was a bit of a challenge trying to figure out the best way to end the story. I know these kinds of psychological thrillers are not exactly “original” and most of the endings to them are expected. I wanted to add a unique ending to my story and I really can only hope that I was able to do that in the end. As for the highlight, that would probably be; getting to be in the mind of a psychopath was a lot of fun. If anything it was alarmingly too much fun haha. I cant help it, I’m a sucker for anything dark and gory and unsettling. I get such a thrill from it so being able to create a psychopath as charismatic and sarcastic but still quite frightening as Mr. Xavier Grayson was definitely an experience I will never forget. I had so much fun writing this book!

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from everything around me really. Usually it’ll be from lyrics to a song or a movie i had just seen or a Tv show i just watched or a book i just read. The most unique way that i get inspired is through names. Sometimes I’ll hear a name that I really like and then create a character to go with that name. And then with that character, I later create a world for them and end up writing a pretty decent book.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

I have such a hard time picking any sort of favourite thing just purely because theres so much good crap in this world, you know? Haha. I don’t have a favorite author. Would it be narcissistic to say mhyself? Haha

What are you reading now?

I can never read just one book at a time haha. It wouldn’t be natural. I’m reading Pines by Blake Crouch, Falling into place by Amy Zhang and The Night She Died by Jenny BlackHurst

Favorite book/story you have read as an adult, and what was your favorite book when you were a kid?

My favorite book is American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I’m always super hesitant to recommend it though just because it is painfully graphic and its a tough book to stomach (morally) but all in all I admire the realness of it and I just think it’s a very beautiful piece of literature when you read it from the point of view of an author as opposed to reading it from the point of view of a reader. As for my favourite book when I was a kid, my mama tells me it was The Three Little Pigs haha.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Nothing original really. I enjoy singing, lisyening to music, adding to my vision board, reading, catching up on Tv and above all else, dreaming big!

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

At the end of the day, we are all writing similar stories with similar plots and similar climaxes and similar endings so the only thing that’s really going to set your story apart is your authentic take on the story. To new writers I would advise you to stay true to your writing and your imagination and not compromise your stories to fit someone else’s opinion on what would sell or what make a good book. And also, if youre writng on a platform like wattpad where you can track your number of reads, DO NOT EQUATE THE QUALITY OF YOUR STORY TO THE NUMBER OF READS YOU RECEIVE. Just focus on getting better at your skill, stay consistent with your writing and do not forget to enjoy what you do because if you aren’t enjoying your writing, no ones gonna enjoy their reading.

How do you handle writer’s block?

I don’t haha. It’s importanat to be patient with yourself. Not just in your writing but also in life as a whole. I find that when I’m experiencing writers block it because i’m dealing with a lot of anxiety or even those moments when I get really depressed and detach from the world. My advice to anyone experiencing writers block woud be just to give it time, don’t stop trying and take a moment to just re-center yourself all while remembering that it is only temporary.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I think as long as your story has something memorable about it, something that once you read it you need to talk about it with someone else. Good writing makes you gasp or cry or laugh or even in my case go, “Oh my gosh! What the hell was that?!”

What comes first, the plot or characters? How do you develop your plot and characters?

You know, writing is such a natural thing to me that I never really have too much of a plan. Sometimes I’ll have a plot first, other times I’ll have a character first. There’s even moments where I’ll come up with the title first or just one random scene. Alternatively, sometimes I’ll come up with an ending first. It all just depends. As for development, I just figure it all out as I go (I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone else but it works just fine for me so..)

Describe a typical writing day.

It’s more of a writing moment. I typically would just write whenever it feels most natural or whenever I crave it most. I don’t have much of a schedule for it.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Finding time!!! Also there’s always a moment during the process where I have a decision to make regarding what direction I want the story to take. It’s always difficult to try and decide the best way to go, especially since you never really know what your audience would most want to read.

How do you do research for your books?

Reading books in similar genres always saves my life! As for Escaping Mr. Grayson, I also did a lot of research on behavioral patterns of psychopaths’ and sociopaths (Though that was more just for curiosity and entertainments sake haha)

When you’re writing an emotionally draining scene, how do you get in the mood? How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

Well firstly, it doesn’t take much effort to make myself sad lol. The hard part is dealing with the emotional aftermath. I’d never let people see it but I am an extremely emotional person. I’m fully incapable of feeling anything halfway so once I allow myself to feel emotional enough to write a draining scene, I have to be prepared to be stuck in that cocoon of emotion for a while. The book that I’m currently working on requires a lot of that and with every new chapter i try my best to learn to separate the reality of it from the fiction of it all.

How do you handle literary criticism?

I just try not to take it too personally. I adore constructive criticism (even though deep down it can piss me off sometimes haha). But at the same time, there’s pointless criticism as well from people that just didn’t enjoy my work and that’s fine too. Not everyone will enjoy what I write. I’m okay with that.

How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?

So so much. There’s just so many endless possibilities when it comes to things as big as deciding a plot or even just picking a characters name. It’s sometimes tough to make those decisions but in the end I’m always quite pleased with the work, thank God.

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

My writing friends are so supportive and have a lot of positive comments on my work!

Where can readers find out more about you and your book, and are you on social media? Can your readers interact with you?

My readers can always catch up with me and my writing on my Instagram accounts under the usernames @_.satinsaturdai & @_.sibhongile._  or even reach out and read my other work on Wattpad under the username ‘satinsaturdai’ I hope that all my readers know they can feel free to contact me whenever they want to with absolutely anything from questions to criticism or even just if they need a friend!

The Author: Muskan Goyal

Muskan Goyal was born in 2003, India and was specifically interested in Music since an early age. It was in early 2019 that she discovered her passion for writing and started publishing on the online platform – Wattpad by her pen name – Marguerite Gibson. When she isn’t writing, you will mostly find her reading books or playing an instrument. The Beauty of Words, is her first book.


The Book: The Beauty of Words

In this beautiful book, Muskan Goyal reveals the various moments that we fear and the evils faced by us in our day to day lives, that overwhelm us at times. It talks about the peacefulness that friendships and nighttime bring along and how we tend to ignore them in our day to day lives.

The Beauty of Words, not only tells us about the beauty and the gift of words that we are awarded but also the beauty of life and the feelings that we experience in this world.


The Review: 4 stars!

I really enjoyed this little book of poetry – more than I thought I would, if I’m being honest. It was full of passion and shared insights into a way of life that needs to be discussed more. Goyal managed to create pages and pages of thought and emotion invoking magic that sticks with you long after you put the book down. She draws you in with her beautiful words, her mix of love and hope, and keeps you wanting more. I adored the flow the poems took, almost like the words were floating off the page. I loved that each poem had a meaning, a story or lesson behind it, they were more than just pretty, but empty words. Goyal’s work is relatable, tangible, and definitely worth a read!


The Interview:

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?

Generally, there are some feelings that we hide from others but there are some which we even hide from ourselves.           While writing “The Beauty of Words” I came to know myself more, not only as an author but as an individual as well and on this journey I realised some surprising emotions which were within me which I thought never existed. I think one thing that I would say about this book as a reader is that it truly helps you find your emotions as well as yourself.  For this reason, this collection of poem ends on the note of Self-Love and how it helps an individual conquer the daily struggles of life. Besides the fact that it is personally one of my favourites, I had immense fun writing it and just the thought of getting it published, made me excited.

How did you get started as a poet, and have you always written poems? How did you come up with the title of your book?

In truth, I wasn’t into writing poetry much. As an author, I specialise and look forward to writing in the Romance Genre and it was one of those writers’ block, which we all are familiar with, that I started writing this book. Whenever I feel some emotions are driving me crazy, I tend to express it in the form of poetry, thus venting those feelings away and keeping them at bay.  Additionally, I believe that struggles are a part of life but the one who never gives up even after trying is the real hero. As humans, we always tend to interact with our fellow beings but in these challenging times, this interaction was limited, leading to the feelings of isolation, loneliness, lies, change, new beginnings and even love for some. It’s often hard to express how these feelings feel because, in the end, they all overwhelm us. It is that beauty of words that made me express my emotions and experiences in those fields in the form of a poem and thus, I decided to go on with the title “The Beauty of Words”.

What was your biggest source of inspiration as you wrote this book?

My life has greatly influenced my writing style, poems and stories, however, I am mediocre when it comes to covers.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing and publishing this book? What was the highlight of writing/publishing this book?

The only publishing process that I struggled with, was choosing a book cover. I am highly grateful to my friend and an excellent graphic designer, Namerha for helping me out in this regard and giving me options to choose from.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

I absolutely adore Kiera Cass for her Selection Series. It just transports you into this new world of fantasy romance and the feeling of “Nothing is impossible” when you finish reading it. Honestly, after reading her books, I found my passion to write as well and that motivation helped me to be where I am today.

What are you reading now?

I am not reading any books or poetries at the moment but the last book I read was “A Walk to Remember” by Nicholas Sparks. I found his way of writing, unique, intriguing and unpredictable. I was so engrossed in that book that I read it in one go after midnight and by the time, I finished, it was already morning but it clearly had me on the verge of tears.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

When I am not writing, which is quite rare, you will mostly find me humming to myself and singing. Unlike, writing, singing has been my passion since I was 6 years of age and I truly love when I spend time practising it.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

To all the writers out there, just starting out or are doubtful whether to start, just go for it! It gives you a new experience in a new field and you never know, when it becomes your passion. There will be criticisms, for sure but instead of writing for the audience, write for yourself and everything will be right on its own. There will be writer’s block, I had one, last for 2 months, but don’t fear it because after passing that phase, your mind would just be a pool of marvellous ideas.

How do you handle writer’s block?

When I face, writer’s block, I always engross myself in reading something new or looking at anything from a different angle and tada! The idea is there at the door, awaiting you. In case, that doesn’t help either, I tend to go through my books as a reader and figure out what I would have expected from the story ahead.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Good writing doesn’t mean pleasing your readers, it means creating another world for anyone, yourself before others, where you are transported into, after reading. Good writing is when the words force you to recall experiences, you might have forgotten and that’s why the feelings and the emotions incorporated in a book, matter more than the language that you have used.  It’s like keeping the best version of yourself forward to find the desired results.

Describe a typical writing day.

A typical writing day for me is a day where all I can see is myself and a laptop to type my manuscript on. There are no other chores that are behind my mind and my whole body is just devoted to writing, giving the best it could.

How do you do research for your books?

Usually, writers tend to research about their books but in my case, I always like to be independent and to figure out the plot myself.

When you’re writing an emotionally draining scene, how do you get in the mood? How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

Even when I am writing an emotionally draining scene, I end up crying at times, but I think it’s very important for a writer to feel that because until and unless they can’t feel the emotions themselves, they can’t make their audience feel it.

How do you handle literary criticism?

I believe that it always enhance that authors’ personality in you and help you to become a better version of yourself. While it’s mostly constructive, one needs to think that they can’t always please everyone and look at the bright side of their supporters and friends.

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say? Where can readers find out more about you and your book, and are you on social media? Can your readers interact with you?

The reader’s comments and reviews always keep me moving ahead and wanting to write more. While there will be some, who will be there with you from Day 1, I can’t help but smile at their warm and kind gestures. As a Wattpad writer, I have always heard from my readers but I am new to this field of publishing in real life, so it’s difficult to say what awaits me in the future but I will surely give it my best and make it a dream come true experience. As a person, I have always been friendly, to the people I know as well as to my audience. I always check their Instagram DM’s and make sure to reply back for their heartfelt wishes.

They are always free to contact me on my Instagram or Wattpad – Marguerite Gibson and get a chance to know more about me or my book. Further, I have set up an Amazon Author Central and I’ll make sure to post about the updates and other offers from time to time in the near future as well. I hope that this experience would be a memorable one and it would encourage me to write more, maybe not poetry next time, but still, to grow as a writer and make an ever-lasting impact with my writing.

We have good news! There are a few spots left on B.L. Callaghan’s street team for dedicated fantasy lovers! Are you interested?


Some of the things the AUTHOR agrees to:

  1. Supply you with a copy of the book in either physical or electronic format within a sufficient timeframe
  2. Follow up with you at regular intervals
  3. Communicate expectations clearly and respectfully
  4. Be available for you to communicate questions and concerns within a timely manner
  5. Offer incentives to ensureyou remains a productive member of the street team – including, but not limited to book swag, advance access to new releases, and first look at exclusive content.

Some of the things that YOU would be expected to do include:

  1. Follow the expectations set out by the author to the best of your ability
  2. Never pirate content given to you by the author
  3. Communicate any and all concerns and questions to the author in a timely manner
  4. Follow up with the author at regular intervals
  5. Review the book by the agreed-upon date on social media outlets such as;
  6. Goodreads
  7. Amazon
  8. Instagram
  9. Blog
  10. Bookbub
  11. Facebook
  12. Refer interested followers/readers to the author’s social media pages and/or purchase outlets for the book
  13. Follow the author on social media, and interact on posts relating to the book


If this sounds like something you would be interested in, head on over to the Street Team page here and use the ‘contact us’ section to register! (Don’t forget to include links to your social media/blog, and/or your most recent reviews!)

The Author: Clare Kae

Clare Kae has always been a dreamer, finding her place in worlds and characters that seemed more real than what should have been expected. Though, when she’s not daydreaming about faraway worlds, she’s teaching primary school children in Australia.
Born and raised by a wonderful family, and lots of spotty dogs, Clare had innumerable opportunities to see the world and enjoy life the way she wanted to growing up – especially via endless amounts of tea and books. For that, she will be forever grateful. She now lives with her incredible fiancé and two dogs – one spotty and one not. 

​When daydreaming became something more, and words flowed out of her head like rivers, Daughter of Dreams and Dread was born. Now an indie author, Clare is a newbie to the journey, but an excited soul to say the least. 


The Book: Daughter of Dreams and Dread

When fate tears Estelle Verndari from an ordinary world, dreams become a sinister new reality. In Kiliac, different is dangerous. Different means magic, and magic is punishable by death.

Lost and alone in a forest of nightmares, Estelle is saved by Rose, a man with fire in his eyes and blood on his hands. But she must learn to survive this brutal new world if she ever hopes to make it home. As the forest becomes a sanctuary, Rose captures her heart, and Estelle discovers a secret magic in her soul—the ability to heal in a world full of ruin.

But an ancient power is calling her name. A tyrant king is drowning the forest in death, and taking up arms to defend it means giving up on finding her path home. If Estelle’s secret is uncovered, everything she’s grown to love will be destroyed.


The Review: 5 stars

Clare Kae’s Daughter of Dreams and Dread took me by surprise.
Not only was the writing style incredibly addicting, but the characters, plot, and world-building were terrific.
Like many others of the same genre, the story started off with predictable fantasy tropes of late: the girl suddenly finds herself in another world – oblivious to literally everything, having to keep secrets from those she grows to care about. But Kae quickly switched gears and took me to places that left my jaw on the floor. The way that she has been able to drag the reader into the world she has created is masterful – or should I say magical?
There wasn’t a single page that I felt the need to skim or put the book down – I ended up reading the entire thing in one sitting because Kae’s style had me hooked.
I loved the sassy characters, the phenomenal animals, and the descriptive scenery throughout.
I loved the build-up throughout this book and that the MC was still able to have breathers throughout the fast-paced danger scenes, all of which really helped make the story and Estelle both believable and relatable.
However, about halfway through, when I was genuinely lulled into Kae’s false sense of security – she struck with a meteor-sized curveball of darkness. The tone of the book plummeted to depths that I had not been expecting. It got murky. Not in a ‘this book is bad’ way – gods no! This book is incredible because it went where it did.
This is not a happy fairytale. This is fear, and pain, and heartbreak.
This is a darkness that is real.
The way that Kae switched up the tone in this book had my heart in my throat, my stomach turning circles, and my mind spinning. It made me feel so much emotion for the characters – it made me scream at the pages a few times too!
The twists and complete savagery of the second half of this book – hand in hand with the incredibly romantic and Disney-esque first half – have me screaming for more. I only hope that Kae graces us with a sequel soon, or I might go mad wondering what hellish situations my new friends are stuck in.


The Interview:

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?

Honestly I think it’s that I gravitate towards the darkness. Violence, grit and darker themes seems to be what I most enjoy writing – which is ridiculous because I like sunshines and rainbows and am stupidly scared of the dark in real life.  Confrontation? Big nope from me!

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

Estelle Verndari is a rag-tag true “Aussie Blue” girl, so her mannerisms and language comes from the dry humour/thinking that I am used to growing up in Australia. I never read many YA or fantasy books with an Aussie as the protagonist, so it was really cool to have Estelle navigate through her fantasy world like an Aussie battler.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

Yes! His name is Tor, he’s my most favourite character ever, and he has the biggest heart of any man I’ve ever known. He has made mistakes in his past, and he’s fighting so hard to make things right. Tor is the epitome of gentle giant.

What was the inspiration for the story?

As with a lot of stories, the inspiration was from one of my dreams. I was lost in a fantasy realm called Kiliac, and I had a father figure named Tor teaching me everything I needed to know. The more I imagined about the world, the less ‘me’ the hero became and Estelle was born. She is every scrap of courage I wish I could have! Apart from the dreaming, music is an incredibly major part of my inspiration. Every scene derives from and/or plays out to the beat of a song like it’s in a movie.

What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

In two words, resilience and hope.

What is the significance of the title?

I actually had a lot of fun with this one – Daughter of Dreams and Dread has three components – Dreams was always going to be in the title, because not only did I dream the story, but Estelle first believes she’s in a dream. Dread = darkness because I’m a terrible human being who likes my characters to experience pain and heart break etc. etc. And Daughter…well, let’s just say that Estelle is the daughter of someone special.

What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?

There are definitely sequels! I currently have 4 books total planned, and similar to the themes of the story, my characters future are filled with resilience – a lot! Their poor souls… and hope.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book? What was the highlight of writing this book?

The biggest challenge was believing in myself, that I was good enough, and that people would actually enjoy what I had written into words. Coming from a background of loving stories I was never confident in my own ability to do so. I knew I had a good imagination, but wasn’t sure that I would be able to wind the words together to translate that imagination onto the page. So overcoming my fear of being ‘good enough’ (especially as this is my debut) was the biggest challenge. In hindsight, I guess it was the highlight as well – actually having concrete evidence and knowledge that I was good enough, people loved my story and my writing, and now I’m not fearful anymore.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Music is where my scenes really come to life. I’ll be walking in the morning with my headphones blaring, and a song will come on which fits the general theme of what’s going on with the characters, then their motivations will flow through from the music and lyrics and their actions will reflect the melody and beat.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

Not too long ago I would have said Sarah J Maas, but really I just have some authors whose stories have stuck with me forever. Jean M Auel, J. K. Rowling, and James Marsden are some that come to mind. Though recently I’ve discovered a fellow indie author, Renee Dugan, whose stories are out of this world! I fell so hard for her writing, characters and story – and am confident in saying that she is my favourite author. She is also one of the most beautiful souls I know, and so supportive and encouraging in everything.

What are you reading now?

Currently reading Nightwing – Renee Dugan.

Favorite book/story you have read as an adult, and what was your favorite book when you were a kid?

Favourite story as an adult is Dugan’s ‘Darkwind’, the first in her Starchaser Saga. As a child, I absolutely devoured the ‘Tommorrow When the War Began’ series by James Marsden.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I’d like to say something cool like hiking, archery or motorbiking, but honestly it’s playing vidoegames, going on dates with my fiancé to Timezone, or ordering great food on Uber Eats and snuggling up with a good movie/book.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Trust yourself. Trust that you are enough, and that your story is worth telling. All of the technical stuff comes later, and it’s a neverending learning process. Also do not rush releasing your book, DODAD took me 5 years, and I still feel like I rushed parts of it. Learn the craft, learn your style, and release the book when you are ready and can be 100% proud of what you’ve accomplished.

How do you handle writer’s block?

I don’t, really! I will either not write for weeks on end, sit at a computer staring at a blank screen, or just force myself to write words (no matter how crappy they are!) though hey, I wrote 10k one day by doing that – and they weren’t that bad! Again, it’s down to trusting yourself. Also, surround yourself with great people. I had one amazing friend one night ‘coach’ me through writing the words, just in messages, by going “okay so then what happened,” “that’s good, how does she react?” Honestly she helped me turn 10 words into 1,000 that day.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

This is a tricky one. I guess it all comes down to your story. At the end of the day, it’s the story that pulls you forward. Though, it doesn’t hurt to practise your prose so that the flow of words is like a river lulling you through the story as opposed to a waterfall dunking you head first into the deep end.  Also tea and coffee are very important elements of writing. A must have for any author, really.

What comes first, the plot or characters? How do you develop your plot and characters?

Considering DODAD was utterly panst, I would have to say characters come first. It’s their motivations and actions that drive the plot, otherwise your characters will just become passive, and it wouldn’t matter if they were even in the story to begin with.

Describe a typical writing day.

(haha) * sweating profusely * – a good day of writing for me consists of me waking up at 3:45am, writing for 2 hours before going for a walk and heading to work. A normal day of writing for me is waking up anywhere between 3:45am and 6am, surfing instagram, pinterest and authortube for a good long while, noticing I haven’t written anything then speed writing 100 words before work. An absurd day of writing for me is noticing that I haven’t written anything for a week and then smashing out 10k in one day. And finally, the best days – on weekend, walking to a café and letting the words flow (preferably whilst chatting/sprinting with critique partners).

How do you do research for your books?

Movies, youtube, and speaking to people about certain subjects. Luckily I write fantasy so a lot of historical facts get to be twisted in certain ways which is almost always to my benefit. Any bits and bobs (like names of different weapons or parts of bows) I’ll Google to my heart’s content. It’s great being in a group of writers where we can share what we know, interesting facts and ways of looking at life and situations, and implement that in our own ways into our writing.

When you’re writing an emotionally draining scene, how do you get in the mood? How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

It really doesn’t take much to make me emotional, let me tell you! But for me, I play sad instrumental music, and really dive deep into the head of my characters. I role play a little, speak their dialogue if I have to, and will almost always cry after that’s done. Then I’ll sit down and write.

How do you handle literary criticism?

With a grain of salt and a serving of resilience on the side. I am not sure if it’s the Aussie in me, but I tend to take critique pretty well, especially if I know they’re coming from a good place. I listen to my CP critique’s almost religiously, because I know that I’m the newbie to this scene. I know that I have a lot to learn, so there’s no point in me trying to convince myself otherwise. If it’s critique coming from someone I know does not mean well, I am happy to brush off the truly negative feedback and focus on improving myself through self-learning and/or my CPs.

How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?

With DODAD, zilch. It was really that ‘first child’ that parents always joke about – make it up as you go along and learn what not to do with the rest of the kids. The world building came as the story moved forward, and going into its sequel I have lots of world building set into place.

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

I do! I have had some GORGEOUS readers reach out to me to say that they’ve enjoyed DODAD so far, and simply need to know what happens next. I’ve had strangers promote me, and say the most wonderful things in their reviews. It has truly been the most heart warming and rewarding experience of my life.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book, and are you on social media? Can your readers interact with you?

You can find me on Instagram under @clarekae, on Facebook under the same username, and my website (which I really need to update!) under Clare Kae Author. I like to pretend to know what I’m doing across all platforms so feel free to join in the shenanigans!

Sapphira

Sapphira is the MC in Awaken. She’s can be sassy and clever, but more often finds herself confused or angry by the sudden shift in her reality. She deals with anxiety and panic attacks due to a few extraordinarily horrific events in her life, and feels as though she carries the weight – or fate – of the world on her shoulders.


Fallon

Fallon has always been Sapphira’s protector, her friend and ally. But by the end of book 1, Saph has discovered that not everything she thought she knew about her friend was true.
In book 2, we see so much more of this stunning lady and her people – and we get to really see her in her element.
There is more to Fallon than meets the eye, though, and I can only hope Sapphira is ready to see who Fallon truly is, and what she is capable of.
Is she an ally? Was everything a lie? And what side is the djinn woman on in the game of the gods?


Ari

Ari is a complicated woman.
She’s a sassy, moody protector for Sapphira, and one that hasn’t been around as long as the others.
Ari introduces Saph to one of MY favourite characters in the series, and brings a lot of conflict and hard truths to the story.
She is also one of the only characters that I have a love-hate relationship with while writing – she doesn’t like to stick to the outline at all!


Valdis

This is the badass known as Valdis.
She is someone you don’t want to cross – a powerful Necromancer and Assassin.
In Awaken, Valdis is someone Sapphira meets that becomes an invaluable acquaintance. She helps Saph overcome some pretty awful things, and we get to see a side of this beauty that not many others see.
Saph wouldn’t be the person she is, going into book 2, if Valdis hadn’t been in her life.
Whether that’s a good thing, though, we’ll have to wait and see!


Kamilla

Kamilla is trouble. She’s power-hungry, deceitful, and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. It’s unfortunate that Sapphira gets between Kamilla and her goal – but who will come out on top? That depends on which of the feisty ladies has more power and the strongest allies. Don’t count Kamilla out just yet though – she has had centuries to perfect her skills and deceptions!


Lyra

Lyra has more sass in her little finger than anyone on earth! She’s probably been around a lot longer, too! She makes the most divine cup of coffee Saph has ever had – and is usually the one to put our MC in her place. Sapphira comes to love the old woman, and hears some fascinating truths from her along the way.


Stay tuned for your introduction to the boys of Awaken!

I love hearing from readers about what they thought of my work, it means the world to authors like me – it is amazing that a story that began in my head has managed to touch others, that someone has found a character relatable – or the plot came as a surprise. Mostly, I’m so happy that all of my hard work has given someone some joy, or an escape from reality, if just for a little while.

The following are just some of the amazing thoughts I have received from you guys about Awaken. Keep your feedback coming – I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Happy reading!

Have you picked up your copy of Awaken yet? Let me know what you thought!

The Author: Julia Vellucci

Julia Vellucci is a 17-year-old girl, born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario. She is Italian by origin. She has never been good at visual art but her mom and younger sister both of whom she admires are definitely her creative endeavours as she was inspired by them to find a way to express her creative side, through writing. She discovered her love for creative writing almost two years ago when she first began to bring fictional characters to life through the written craft thanks to a school book club she was part of and couldn’t help but wanted to discover what made her characters unique and carry out their story until the very end. Julia’s dream is to be able to inspire readers through her words as she believes words can project more than actions ever could.


The Book: The 30 Day Exchange

With this day and age, everyone’s stressing about something or someone. You have so much to worry about and bringing an infant into the world shouldn’t add to your stress; your bundle of joy should and will relieve your stress with a store-like exchange among infants. The 30 Day Exchange. All parents are given a slip of paper as soon as they bring their child into the world, a paper asking if they want to participate in The 30 Day Exchange. 18-year-old, Jonah Walters, given up at birth to only be adopted and then placed in a foster home after the passing of his adopted parents and uncle, has had many questions about his upbringing since he was five.

All he wants is closure as to why his biological mother gave him up, but things aren’t as simple as they may seem especially with The 30 Day Exchange being involved which is no longer legal and doesn’t just affect him. One 30 Day Exchange affects two people, little does Jonah know that the person he got exchanged with was the only woman he has ever truly loved. Join Jonah on an emotional ride full of pain, deceit, friendships and most definitely love as he seeks out the answers he’s been aching for practically his whole life.


The Review: 3 stars

The 30 day exchange had such an exciting premise – something that I found myself wanting to know more about. It tells Jonah’s story, a young Canadian man searching for the truth about his beginnings and the scandalous secrets at the core.

We spend most of the book looking back over his life, meeting the people he cares most about, while he searched for his birth mother. The reader follows along through his adoptive parents and uncle’s death and his time in foster care. We are introduced to a myriad of fascinating support characters and learn about their lives too. Vellucci manages to portray relatable, funny teen characters that you actually want to care about – a single mother, a boy in the LGBTQ community, and a rebellious girl with a sharp tongue.

Throughout, you are made to feel that something isn’t quite right – that there are things at play that Jonah doesn’t know – and other characters, if aware, aren’t willing to talk about. It isn’t until we find out precisely what the 30 day exchange is, do we understand the scandalizing truth of our MC’s birth situation. It’s treated as a taboo subject, something that no one talks about due to its disreputable nature, and the more we find out about it, the more you feel for Jonah and the others involved.  

Vellucci tells of a Canadian policy in place that pretty much treats newborn babies as a purchase – you can trade babies with other mothers for 30 days. Some of these children are given up for adoption at this time, and most people are unaware that this has taken place.

Julia Vellucci’s The 30 day exchange is a book about love, deceit, betrayal, and self-growth – and although the writing style can, at times, be a little clunky and drawn-out, Vellucci makes up for this with incredible amounts of passion and deep emotion that draws you in.


The Interview:

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?

The most surprising thing when writing this book was that I was able to convey many sad emotions throughout the book despite me preferring to read books that are happy throughout and without experiencing tough obstacles that can even come close to what the characters had to overcome.

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

The blurb describes the main plot to this book, but there are three major subplots among Jonah’s three close friends he meets at the foster home as they each have their own romance story and their own obstacles that they assist in helping each other overcome.

There’s 15, almost 16-year-old P.J who gets Jonah used to the foster home, makes him feel welcome and becomes a close friend and older brother to him in a way.  P.J is part of the LGBTQ community, he is openly gay and has been crushing on the pizza delivery guy for two years but isn’t sure if the guy is also gay or even interested. 

There’s 16, almost 17-year-old Alana, who is a rape victim, has a six month old son as a result and is almost like a mother figure to Jonah since she always looks out for him and unlike his biological mom, actually kept her son and loves him to pieces despite the terrible circumstances.  She also has an emotional and complicated romance story with her boyfriend along with that that is explored throughout the book

 Lastly, there’s Hope who is your typical 14-year-old rebel girl, who there’s more to than meets the eye, especially when she’s forced onto a path she probably wouldn’t have taken at this age or maybe not at all, a path that exposes her for who she truly is and she has a sweet and humourous romance story as well to add to the mix.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

Yes, Hope holds a special place in my heart as she was originally meant to be your typical teen rebel girl, whose main purpose was supposed to be just to add some humour to the story with her blunt attitude.  However, she became so much more than that as I instantly saw some potential and room for her to grow emotionally adding more depth to her character, allowing her to be more relatable, as well as still being a humourous addition to the novel.  It truly taught me to not judge a book by its cover, not to judge a person by what they allow you to see, a message I portrayed throughout this book and I’ve grown to love Hope because of that, her humour, sass , how upfront she is, and her character development was what made her my favourite character to write and definitely close to my heart as how she embraced a change that came her way and truly found happiness after a major obstacle, is definitely an inspiration for myself and I hope to others as well.

What was the inspiration for the story?

My mom, sister and I went to a clothing store to look at grad dresses for my sister’s eighth grade graduation.  My mom found a dress for her that she was on the fence about, so she asked the cashier what the return policy was and she said that you have 30 days to exchange the item.  The thought of what if babies were exchanged like items in a store pondered in my mind and the main plot to “The 30 Day Exchange” immediately came to me and subplots, characters, themes and certain scenes came later.

What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

There are actually two main messages I hope readers can take away from this book.  

One is that no matter what obstacles are thrown your way, you can always overcome them by relying on those closest to you as although you may feel alone, you’re not.  Everyone has their own problems, usually different from one another but even if you can’t relate, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, or just even an outside voice from the terrible situation is what everyone needs, as we’re all meant to bring each other up in life because similar or different, when one of us is in a tough situation, we all are. 

The second one is to never give up.  Things may not be as they seem and it’s difficult to be patient or hope for the best, but if it’s worth hoping for, waiting for, standing by your beliefs even when no one else will, then you shouldn’t settle for any less than that.

What is the significance of the title?

The title is the exchange policy both Jonah and the only woman he has ever truly loved were put in after they were born as they were exchanged like items in a store.  The main plot is the mystery behind all this as both Jonah and the woman he refers to as his fiance seek out the answers they most desperately deserve involving their upbringing.  

What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?

Yes, there will be a sequel. I don’t want to reveal too much as I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone interested in reading book one.  All I’ll say is that it’s called “The Seven Day Return”, is all about forbidden love, there is another birth exchange, lots of love, betrayal, deceit and denial, and some characters return from book one and some don’t.  This is the final book in my exchange series as for when and if it will be released, I encourage you to follow my Author Instagram account @juliavellucci_ which will have any announcements or posts regarding that in the near future.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book? What was the highlight of writing this book?

A challenge I faced while writing this book was throwing obstacles Jonah’s way as well as the other main characters as I hated throwing heartache good people’s way, but I managed to get through it as overcoming obstacles are what make people stronger, make them grow emotionally and definitely allow my characters to be more relatable and human.  The highlight of writing this book was definitely gaining a more positive mindset in my life as if my characters can be strong during the worse of times for them and throughout many barriers, so can I.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

When a creative idea forms in my head, I know it is meant to be so much more than just a single idea, so I allow my imagination to run wild and expand, and as soon as characters begin to enter it, I can’t help but want to write their story until the very end, hoping I can portray it the best of my abilities and hope my words can shape readers lives for the better once my words are out in the world for all to see.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

Michael Hiebert is my favourite author with his unique and exquisite writing style that makes his mystery books all the more intriguing along with his characters that are so relatable and human, some of which are children and have been proven to be just as capable as an adult in doing anything.

What are you reading now?

Right now, I’m reading “Ignite Me” by Tahareh Mafi which is the third book in her Shatter Me series, I’m reading it on and off as I can’t seem to get enough of writing, but her series is phenomenal and even during book three, I’m still in love with it.

Favorite book/story you have read now, and what was your favorite book when you were a kid?

I loved “Dream With Little Angels” by Michael Hiebert and that whole series of four in general which are honestly my favourite mystery books of all time.  When I was a kid, I loved “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carl, with its colorful shapes, bright colours and adorable caterpillar that immediately drew me to it and read it with my mom quite a lot.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

If I’m not writing, I enjoy to read mainly mystery books, my favourite are those that have romance as a subgenre in it.  I also enjoy to watch my favourite TV show “Supernatural” as well as spend time with family and friends.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Advice I’d give to a new writer starting out would be to never give up even if you have a dream as big as getting a book, short story or a written work of yours published, with the right mindset it is possible.  There will be people that try to change your whole written piece, parts of it, or might even say it’s not good enough, which isn’t so good on your self esteem, I know that from experience.  But at the end of the day, your written work is yours, so keep writing if you enjoy it, don’t let the negative opinions of others discourage you and write to impress and express yourself and the right audience, right publisher if that is your goal, will find you.

How do you handle writer’s block?

I honestly don’t believe in writer’s block because your imagination is always up and running as for the right words to express it, you can always fix the wording as you go along. 

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

The most important elements in good writing are the intriguing plot and characters you can’t help but love, hate and relate to all at the same time.  Some people believe that big, fancy words are what make good writing, but I disagree with that as you don’t have to use big words to be a good writer, but add meaning and feeling to your words that make them look and feel big, something I believe I incorporate in my writing the best I can.

What comes first, the plot or characters? 

The plot usually comes to me first and then the characters, setting and other important details come to me later.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

The world around me, may it be paintings, nature, TV shows, movies, books, quotes, family and friends, all provide my imagination with the creative juices to get a plot going.  Once I have a plot, character traits soon begin to come to me for a potential protagonist that will be able to overcome what I throw their way or not, depending on what I choose for the book to be about.  Their appearance, flaws and more in depth character traits soon follow as I reflect more regarding my idea and secondary characters along with an antagonist begin to join in the fun and scenes as well as subplots form or slightly change once I get to them when writing.

Describe a typical writing day.

If my day doesn’t consist of school, work associated with school or anything else that isn’t writing, I’ll be listening to a song that relates to the chapter I’m working on on some level while writing with a goal of at least 2,000 words which I meet on most writing days and sometimes exceed.  

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

The most difficult part of writing for me is writing a necessary but boring scene or chapter before the scene I’ve been dying to write for so long.  It’s like knowing something big is going to happen in the next episode of your favourite show, but forcing yourself to watch the episode before it first.

How do you do research for your books?

The books I mainly write are romances with subgenres that usually are teen fiction, mystery, adventure or fantasy, or a combination of all or a few of them.  These books are fiction but that doesn’t mean I don’t try to make them realistic, like find a video of a couple kissing from a TV show I’ve seen and watch it several times, so I can use that as inspiration to write my main character’s first kiss with his or her love interest and describe it in a way that allows you to picture a scene similar to what I watched and be in awe while reading it. 

 I’ll also use pictures to better envision how certain rooms I’m describing look, look up character descriptions to envision and describe my characters all the more vividly.  Then there would be certain things I’d look up in a private window, so my family doesn’t think I’m a serial killer when wondering why what is the most efficient way to remove a heart from someone’s body is in my search history or think I have a disease if I’m constantly researching one or wondering why I’m looking up information regarding different stages of pregnancy.

When you’re writing an emotionally draining scene, how do you get in the mood? How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

I’ll usually listen to music when writing, that goes along with the theme and mood of the chapter I’m working on, especially if it’s emotionally draining, so I can get into the character’s mindset, sort of become the character in a sense.  Often it won’t be one scene that’s emotionally draining, but the entire chapter itself or most of it which I won’t do in one sitting or one day which helps or following it, I’ll watch something with my family that lessens the emotional impact of the book as I’ll be focused more on something else.

How do you handle literary criticism?

When I first began to write, I wasn’t very good at taking literary criticism as I always believed it brought me a step backwards and that I had to follow it.  But with time, I began to realize that at the end of the day, certain criticism can help enhance my written work, make it all the better, and the criticism I don’t agree with, I don’t have to use as at the end of the day, it’s my book, my words, my emotions, and if I really like it and am happy with it, the right audience for it will soon find my book.

How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?

I’d say about 25 percent of world building takes place before I start writing, sometimes more, it really depends.  But that’s enough to give me a vague idea of it and as I start writing, the holes and questions regarding the world I’m building, begin to fill itself and become complete.

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

I hear from my readers quite a bit on Wattpad in the comments section (I couldn’t help but laugh with certain comments I received that were thoughts about characters that never crossed my mind) and when I got this book published, I received many words of encouragement and so much support from my fellow readers which I’m entirely grateful for. 

Some asked me about the publishing process, one of those people recently got accepted by the same publishing company I’m with, Ukiyoto Publishing, after I went over the process with her and helped her correct her author profile, so I’m pretty happy for her as it has also been a dream of hers to get one of her books published.  One girl even said that I’m an inspiration to her and that I gave her the courage to complete writing a book and pursue that which is truly touching.  I’ve been told by many readers that they hated me throughout the book as I brought plenty of pain the main character’s way and secondary characters’s ways which are almost as main as Jonah, but they said it was completely worth it in the end and I did try to incorporate some light hearted humour throughout which many readers enjoyed.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book, and are you on social media? Can your readers interact with you?

I can be reached regarding any questions on my book, writing advice or anything work-related in general on my Instagram account @juliavellucci_. I always love to hear from readers, their questions, comments and feedback in general, so I highly encourage you to reach out.  I also have free books to read on Wattpad under the username JuliaRV3 if you’d like to check out those books as well and a sample chapter of “The 30 Day Exchange” is also posted up there.  I encourage you to look up my book “The 30 Day Exchange” on Goodreads if you’re interested in leaving a review and this book is available for purchase on Amazon in ebook and paperback format, Barnes&Noble in paperback format, Ukiyoto’s official website in ebook format and other smaller online bookstores listed on Goodreads if you’d like to give this book a try.

The Author: Laurie Oknowsky

Laurie Oknowsky had her start as a community author on Wattpad and Inkitt. As her success morphed into something worth trending about, she made the leap into the world of traditional publishing.

Class of 95’ is her debut book being published with Ukiyoto Publishing House. Not only is this a work of fiction, it is also a very personal account of a time of awkward adolescence into the hopeful aspirations of a chaste adult.


The Book: Class of ’95

What would you do if you got a second chance at true love?

When Eunice Rysner meets the sexy Jake Castellano, she already knows he’s going to be trouble. Though she tries to push him away to spare them both a lot of heartache, Jake is persistent. But his vindictive girlfriend and Eu’s nemesis since eighth grade, Geri Thompson, is determined to keep him all to herself-by whatever means necessary.

Even twenty years later, when the three meet up again in Long Island at their high school reunion, Eunice-now a successful novelist-can’t deny the feelings she still has for Jake. As she reacquaints herself with the now-divorced love of her life, she can’t help but wonder if this is finally the time to stand up for herself and give in to true love. But if she does, Geri may just steal everything she’s ever wanted from her yet again.


The Interview:

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?

How much I missed my youth. How I wished I could go back and do things over again.

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

That Eunice would be a different person if not for Geri. But, who knows how the story would have been told if Eunice was the Queen Bee – just in a kind way. Because if Geri wasn’t the way she was, it would be Eunice ruling the school – but in a kind way.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

This question is like picking my favorite child. They all have a special place. But, for the sake of this question – my answer would have to be Geri. She’s hated throughout the bulk of the book – until the end. I know why she is the way she is, and I think I issued poetic justice without causing her physical harm.

What was the inspiration for the story?

The story is very, very, very, very, loosely based on my high school experience up until adulthood. Eunice is who I wished I could have been and grew up to be.

What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

 The message is that no matter how things look on the outside, a whole lot is happening behind the windows of someone’s glasshouse. That however how much you hate someone, the hate they feel for themselves may be uglier.

What is the significance of the title?

The title is taken from the year I graduated from High School.

What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?

 I already have a sequel and spin-off in the works. The sequel is about the daughter of the main male character, and the spin-off is about the healthiest relationship out of all of them. The main characters had their time. Although they told their story, they will still be around in the following books.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book? What was the highlight of writing this book?

The challenge to writing the book was making Geri’s psychosis believable but also making her seen as a victim too. The highlight was the ending. Making Eunice’s and Jake’s forgiveness of Geri’s actions a strength and not seen as a weakness. Forgiveness is not for the perpetrator but for the one being targeted. I think at the end of the day, I did what was best for all of them.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

The dreams I have. The voices in my head and how I feel about certain topics. One book I’m developing is about life and death and the fears I have about leaving the ones I love behind. How I am remembered by them and how their lives will be shaped due to the loss of me. It’s called My Life in A Year, and it’s about a young single woman (a music teacher) who is diagnosed with stage four uterine cancer and how she falls in love with her attractive oncologist, but he doesn’t know that until he finds her journal.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

I always had an affinity for Anne Rice. The reason is for her ability to take you away to a time and place that you’ve never been before. The lives she creates that can easily pass for a true moment in actual history. She makes her fantastical characters realistic.

What are you reading now?

At the moment, I am not reading anything except children’s books. But, I have been writing poetry and reading various stories in eBook form. It’s hard to have a quiet moment during the day with a 3-year-old.

Favorite book/story you have read as an adult, and what was your favorite book when you were a kid?

As an adult, I loved Black Hollow by Myria Candies and, as a child – The Secret Garden.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I write poems or play with my son.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Write every day. Anything at all. Anything that pops into your head – write it down. Even if it’s a fleeting thought, a single word, or a one-sentence phrase. Jot it down. Use a thesaurus. That’s very important as being repetitive in literature is a nuisance.

How do you handle writer’s block?

That’s a hard question. I had dealt with this for over a decade before I began writing again. And you know what helped me? Therapy. I’m an advocate for therapy, and having someone to talk my problems out with was what gave me my biggest breakthrough. I understand that not everyone can have the opportunity to see an actual therapist. But writer’s block stems from a place of stress and anxiety. And if you can find a way or a method of defeating those stressors, then the words would just flow again.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Being able to build your characters, your world, and making it relatable and as authentic as possible – even if what you write is sci-fi, fantasy, period pieces. Grammar, spelling, points of view, and dialogue.

What comes first, the plot or characters? How do you develop your plot and characters?

For me, it’s the basic plot. Then, the character development. I think this is a personal topic. We all work differently.

Describe a typical writing day. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

A typical writing day is in the evening, the moment my child is tucked away in bed and not making a peep. I sometimes have music on; I read my last chapter over that I wrote prior, and then I just write. I can’t give you specifics, but if I am listening to music, I go where the music takes me. The music I play dictates where my story goes.

How do you do research for your books?

To be honest, when I pick the locations of my stories, I usually pick places I’ve lived in or visited before. So, research is minor for that. If I am using certain character traits, like mental illness or cultures, I tend to research online or The Journal of Psychology, AJP. Just depends. I stay away from Wiki. If I have friends from a culture or religion I know little about, I use those friends as a research tool.

When you’re writing an emotionally draining scene, how do you get in the mood? How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

It all depends on my mood. But if I have to write a scene of particularly draining emotions, I listen to music that brings it out of me. If I am not feeling a particular heavy emotion, I hold off on those scenes until I feel it. Otherwise, it’s forced and I hate feeling like I forced something that should have taken time to be written.

How do you handle literary criticism?

It depends. If it’s coming from a place of kindness in order to make it better, then I am all for it. If I ask for it, then I am prepared for it. If it’s unsolicited, then back off. When I first released Class of ’95 and entered a contest, I was actually told by one of the judges (that shouldn’t have been a judge on a contest she was the host of) that the plot was overrated and done before. That the bully storyline has been done before. The saddest part of it all was, my book isn’t a bully story. Being bullied is honestly only a small portion of the plot. It’s about the resilience of the human spirit. That no matter what you’re put through, that you can get through it. And no matter the path you take in life – there are times that path leads right back to the people that should walk that road with you. Do I make any sense? Plus, the judge only read like two chapters.

How much ‘world-building’ takes place before you start writing?

Honestly, none.

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

Yes – and they love the characters. They love the dynamic of Connie and Eunice. They relate to Eunice. They immediately find similarities between themselves and her. I love that. I also love how they hate Geri.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book, and are you on social media? Can your readers interact with you?

They can find me on Instagram and Facebook. Yes – they can interact with me. I love talking to my readers. I still have books on Wattpad and Inkitt. I can be found on my publishers’ website – Ukiyoto Publishing House, and my book is on Amazon for purchase. My website is being finalized and launched by the end of November.

The Author: Nicolette Beebe

Nicolette is a Bay Area romance author of different subgenera who lives and breathes storytelling. Outside of the all-consuming obsession to write, she is going on her fifth year as a fourth grade teacher. Any student who has been in her class has a special place in her heart. During downtime, she enjoys knitting and crocheting while watching video game playthroughs with her hubby and fur baby. As someone with dyslexia, she hopes to inspire those with a learning disability that anything is possible.


The Book: Mar King

It’s been four years since Dexter Bennet failed to protect his sweet and delicate Sara Mar King from the world’s plague. He’s ready to surrender when she barges through his camp, wielding an arcane power and no longer needing his protection. A second chance at love has Dexter committing himself to Sara’s journey. He must cross the forest wastelands riddled with monstrous screechers and treacherous elements to help her reach Mount Verta.

Yet, something’s amiss about Sara’s mission. When he uncovers her deadly secret, it makes him question who is protecting whom.


The Review: 5/5 stars!

This book pulls you in and doesn’t let go.
From beginning to end, Mar King was fast-paced, full of action, and incredibly emotional. I loved Sara as the main character, loved seeing her inner turmoil and strength. The way that Beebe has written her character is incredible – you feel everything, see everything Sara does as if you were right there with her. Beebe also manages to give you an incredibly vivid and raw look at the effects of trauma in young people through flashbacks, conversations, and dreams – and how those events can still trigger and shape people years later. Not only with the victims but those around them too.
That brings us to Dex – the incredibly refreshing love interest. I don’t want to give away too much, but it has been a long time since I’ve read a romance like Dex and Sara. It was brutal and raw. Sweet and beautiful and so very relatable. There was no insta-love, no perfect relationship from the get-go – Beebe has given the reader a truthful take on a big love story.
The plot, world-building, and romance aspects of the story were all deeply fascinating, twisting on themselves in ways that I’ve never come across before. All building to a heart-pounding crescendo that left me screaming at the final pages, demanding that more materialized so that I didn’t have to leave the world Beebe created so beautifully.
I went into this book thinking that I knew how it would go – the world ends, the girl has to save it, oh – a hot guy too! BUT I WAS SO WRONG.
Mar King is so much more than the typical post-apocalyptic paranormal romance. And although many of those familiar elements are there, Beebe has somehow given us something original and incredibly real to sink into.
I honestly cannot wait to see what she brings to the table next – I’m sure it will be epic, just like Mar King.


The Interview:

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?

One of the most surprising things I discovered while writing Mar King is that I am capable of writing a book in one month! It usually takes me years, but Mar King came to me in a complete whirlwind and didn’t let me go until every word was written down. I didn’t sleep or eat or breathe. The little sleep I did get, I dreamed of Sara and Dexter. I even developed tendonitis in my hands. But, I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

Something that is not in the blurb is the specific type of power Sara Mar King harbors in her core. A searing orb of energy sleeps within her and awakens whenever she is under attack or needs to defend herself. Neon green beams of light shoot out of her palms to freeze enemies. But the catch is, they will become unfrozen once she is one mile away from them. She seems to like using this on Dexter Bennet a lot!

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

Both Sara and Dexter share an equally special place in my heart. Parts of their personality reflects parts of mine. I admire to be as badass as Sara and as intuitively aware as Dexter one day!

What was the inspiration for the story?

I had always wanted to write an apocalyptic story since I’m utterly obsessed with them. But, I knew I had to wait until my overactive imagination sent me a story that was different enough to stand out as well as excite me enough to write. Sure enough, while I was at a stoplight in my car, Sara and Dexter came screaming to me!


What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

Out of the many themes of the novel, the one that tends to stand out the most to me is not to be afraid to say what you want to say while you can.


What is the significance of the title?

When it comes to titles, I tend to write a throw away, “whatever”, title while I write just to have something on my thumbnail file. And at the time I started writing this, I actually didn’t have Sara’s first name. All I kept hearing in my head on repeat was “Mar King, Mar King, Mar King…” so I just decided to call it that. And it stuck! It’s one of the only titles I haven’t changed since day one. And now that I have finished the story, I think it works so beautifully with the content. A well deserving character for the face of the cover. It also pairs well with book II, Sir Bennet.


What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?

I spoke too soon! Yes! Book II has been written and has undergone several revisions. The cover has been created as well, and I may secretly like it more than the first. Once I get to a point where I see the light at the end of the tunnel with editing, I will announce a cover release date and a book release date.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book? What was the highlight of writing this book?

One of the key challenges I faced while writing Mar King was trying to make sure I don’t kill Sara or Dexter on accident! I kept putting them in situations I was worried they couldn’t get out of. A highlight is that they surprised me by their story continuing with Sir Bennet! Mar King was supposed to be a stand-alone novel. I guess not anymore!

Where do you draw inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from my overactive imagination. It tends to flare up when I watch video game playthroughs and movies.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

My all-time favorite author is Judith McNaught. She is in a league of her own when it comes to romance. I used to stay up late and write letters to her about how much I love her stories, but I never ended up sending them. Maybe one day! I also really love the up and coming author Jessica Ruben. She is an enabler of my mafia romance addiction.

What are you reading now?

Right now, I’m currently reading the most amount of books I’ve ever read at once! It ranges from indie authors to audiobooks to traditionally published authors. I just finished Coraline, which I really, really enjoyed.

Favorite book/story you have read as an adult, and what was your favorite book when you were a kid?

My absolute favorite book is Paradise by the amazing Judith McNaught. When I was a kid, I never really read. The first book I ever remembered enjoying was Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing, I love knitting, crocheting, drawing, playing with my fur baby, watching video game playthroughs, and binging on TV shows.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

For a new writer, I think my number one piece of advice is to learn your grammar early on. It will save you so much time. In addition, it’s important to remember your writing isn’t for everyone. There is going to be someone out there that will absolutely adore your work. And it’s those little things that you need to remember to celebrate, no matter how small.

How do you handle writer’s block?

I’ve been fortunate enough to not have experienced writer’s block. But I have experienced lack of motivation before. What I tend to do is reread previous sections of my writing and make those scenes shine. I also sometimes skip over the part I don’t feel like writing, and go straight to the more exciting scenes so it feels like less of an obstacle. “What comes next?” is easier when the question is “What can I do to bridge these two scenes?”

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Plot, characters, and pacing are probably my top three most important elements of what I consider good writing. The plot’s conflict can’t come alive without the development of characters, and none of that works if your pacing is too slow. Lastly, if there are way too many grammar issues, it tends to pull me out of a story really quickly. But, I’m also an editor, so I tend to notice those things more than other people.

What comes first, the plot or characters? How do you develop your plot and characters?

Characters always, always comes first for me. I can sometimes hear them in my head. I get bits of dialogue and perhaps a scene or two, and it’s up to me to piece them all together in a way that forms a readable plot.