Author Interview – A.L. Mabry

I recently interviewed author A.L. Mabry about her new collection of short stories she recently published – Darker Daze. I’ve had the honor of working with her in the past, and I must say she is an impressive person in many ways. Darker Daze is, as the name implies, a collection of darker tales pulled from her past experiences that are sure to strike a chord within you.

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Tell us a bit about you. Where did you grow up?
I was born in the hills of Kentucky but I was raised in the Sunshine State. I miss the salt air and sound of waves. And Disney. And sea shells. And retirees. Not having a basement…I could go on and on…

I am very attached to the beach myself. How has your upbringing affected your writing?
That’s a loaded question. I had a rough childhood. I read as an escape. Now the emotional build up from my childhood and my first marriage bleed into the majority of my work.

It’s funny how some of life’s most challenging moments spur the best art. How long have you been writing?
Since early elementary school. I have the first book I ever “published” on my desk. It’s truly awful.

I know you are a multi-talented person – what do you do when not writing?
I am always busy. I don’t even watch TV unless I am in bed! I read, I woodwork and create items for my Etsy shop. I go camping and hiking and kayaking. I explore new towns. I work in a metaphysical shop two days a week and another store 5 days a week. I am teaching crystal classes…I am getting tired just answering this question…

I hear you! What is the one thing about you that you think would surprise most of your readers?
I think people are often surprised by my personality versus my writing. My writing tends to be very dark but I am a ball of sunshine as long as I’ve had coffee.

Venting  darkness into prose can be quite cathartic. You’ve been published in multiple anthologies before this collection – what is your preferred genre?
I am a genre slut (can I say that here?) but I favor fantasy and horror above all else.

Same here. Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or “pants” it?
I do a strange combination. First I write a bunch of random scenes. Then I order them the way I think they will go. Once, I have a vague grasp of my plot and arcs, I outline. Then I mostly ignore my outline and write some more. Then I update my outline. Eventually I get to a point where my outline is my guide for finishing up.

Fascinating. Which authors have influenced you the most?
Stephen King and Dean Koontz heavily influence my dark fiction writing. I love the process of pulling a reader through a mundane set up before throwing them into horror. I also love blending horror and supernatural elements.

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What is your favorite passage that you’ve written?
It’s funny how people show up to eat when someone dies. What is it about death that makes everyone so hungry?
     Half of them showed up with their casseroles and pies, the other half with their empty stomachs and open mouths. They shared fond memories out loud, with gusto. And then, in the corners and the shadows, they whispered their gossip and assumptions. When she caught them, they stared right through her, without a hint of guilt on their faces.
They were all gone now, and quiet filled the apartment. Bonita sat on the back porch and stared out at the empty yard, her blue eyes glistened with unshed tears. She was all alone now. The weight of this new reality swirled through her mind. Her brother, Ryan, had been the last one left who cared for her. No one else even bothered to acknowledge her most of time. She sighed and picked at the dandelion fluff in her hand.
     How long would it take Aunt Joe to realize she had forgotten Bonita here.

That sounds all too familiar. I know you are one of the owners of Our Write Side. Tell us a little about your company and the role you play within it.
Our Write Side was originally found as a support network for writers and has grown to be a literary power house. We do All Of The Things and we have an incredible team. We strive to help authors overcome whatever obstacles they are facing whether it be financial, personal, or that pesky Imposter Syndrome. We offer everything from a la carte services and coaching, to full publishing. We even launched an online school this year!

How exciting! Your new book, Darker Daze: The Storms Within, is a collection of short stories that explore the darker side of the human condition, is out now. Can you give us a synopsis?
Darker Daze is collection of short stories that share a theme of suffering, told from various perspectives. Each story is gut gripping in it’s on way and is meant to give voice to the voiceless. The fact is, not everyone gets a happy ending. That’s real life. A lot of people get the extreme opposite of happy endings and their stories are important too.

Were any of the stories included in DD inspired by real-life events?
Every one of the stories in Darker Daze was inspired by real life, even if in the most minute way. The Next Best Seller was a story written as I tried to deal with writer’s block and author envy. Sweet Release was built around moments pulled from one of my old journals.

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I can’t wait to read it. What is on the horizon for A.L. Mabry?
I am currently working on the revisions for Soul Purge. Soul Purge is the first book in my fantasy trilogy and will be out in October. I will be having a Big Birthday Bonanza. I am also finishing up a couple smaller projects. Cinder Baby will be in this year’s OWS anthology, Glass and Ash. And another story, Not Wonderland, will be up on my Patreon soon.

A trilogy! Any advice for new\beginner writers?
Write your stories and find your tribe. Everything else will come in time. You will learn the rules and how to break them. You will find your voice and you will learn your flaws. Your perseverance will take far, but your tribe will carry you when you fall.

Excellent advice! Anything else you would like to add?
If anyone is going to be in Kentucky the weekend of July 14th, come see me! I’ll be at the Legendary Lexington Book Bash.

More about A.L. Mabry:
A.L. Mabry is one of the founders of and the Executive Marketing Manager for Our Write Side (OWS Ink, llc), an online community for writers, readers, publishers and more. She writes occasional articles on OWS focused on the connection between life and writing. She publishes articles on Medium and also has a weekly writing prompt; Coldly Calculating: Writing By The Numbers: Putting a dark twist on colloquial phrases with a numbers theme. She was previously the Editor in Chief for Eat, Sleep, Write and once ran a successful special needs blog, Rage Against the Washing Machine which has since been retired. She is a highly sought freelance writer who specializes in research-based writing. This allows her to provide quality content on a variety of topics. She enjoys helping other authors find their way with private coaching and sharing what she has learned from personal experience, for example, this post on Perfecting Your Bio. As an author, she enjoys writing in all genres and forms, even grocery lists. She is an artist at heart and Wiccan by nature with an obsessive love of vampires, kilts, and blue butterflies. She is passionate about many topics, and her posts and stories are often laced with the snarky sense of humor one acquires from raising five teenagers, all at once.

You can follow A.L. Mabry on the following Social Media:
Website
Facebook Page
Facebook Group
Twitter
Google+
Pinterest
Youtube
Instagram

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Book Info:
Title: Darker Daze: The Storms Within
Author: A.L. Mabry
Publication Date: March 28th, 2018
Paperback Price: $14.99
Digital Price: $2.99
Pages: 110 pgs
ASIN: B07BDRC62T
E-book ISBN-13: 978-1-946382-24-5
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-946382-25-2

Buy Links:
Amazon
Smashwords
Goodreads
Draft2Digital

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Writer’s Spotlight Episode 13: S. M. Palola

For this lucky thirteenth episode of Writer’s Spotlight, we have S. M. Palola – another member of the Scribes’ Circle whom I have gotten to know well over the past year. S.M. is a talented and incredibly intelligent writer who is also an avid animal lover.

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What names do you write by?
S.M. Palola and Lempi Lemmetty

Give us a short introduction to you.
I’m a 26-year-old young woman who lives in Finland with her fiancé and two dogs. I study at the Helsinki University and fluently speak three languages. My hobbies are judo, pole dancing and my dogs. Reading and drawing, if I have time between my studies.

How long have you been writing, professionally and/or as a hobby?
As a hobby, I think it was since I was around 13, so since 2003. Professionally, not all that long. I think it was last year, 2016, when I began to take a true interest in writing as a profession.

In what genre(s) do you write?
Mainly fantasy, though I am not opposed to other genres either. Under Lempi, I write erotica.

Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you let the story grow as you write?I used to let the stories grow as I wrote, but with all the stuff I was serious about and wanted to make a novel, I always hit a wall at some point. Nowadays, I try to write a general outline where I have a beginning, sort of a middle and an ending. The beginning and the ending are the most important parts of the outline for me. If I don’t know the ending, I will hit that wall and of there’s no beginning, there’s usually no story to begin with. Within that beginning and the end, I let the story take me where it wants to go.

Which authors have influenced and inspired you the most?
Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman got me into the fantasy genre. They got me into reading in general, which then turned into an interest in writing. The Lord of the Rings was an amazing book to read as a teenager, but I think even more than Tolkien, my writing style has been influenced by Robin Hobb, the author of the books centering around the Realm of the Elderlings.

Do you write in other ways, such as poetry, songwriting, technical articles, etc?When I was a teenager, I wrote lots of poetry, but I don’t do that anymore. They don’t flow the way they used to. Other than that, I write academic essays because I study at a university. Right now, I’m working on my Master’s Thesis.

How has your life experiences affected your writing?
Mental illness and my sexuality have influenced my writing quite a lot. They are themes I include and try to represent in what I write as they are important to me and others. I am actually working on a short story collection centering around mental illness.

What scene that you’ve written has moved you the most, and why?

Beta Readers – Yes or No? Why?
Absolutely. An author becomes blind to their own writing, which makes beta readers and important part of writing professionally. They will see things you never would’ve thought of being a problem in the first place. Last semester, I was in a creative writing class. We read each other’s writing every week and critiqued it. One of the things that struck most in the critique I received was that I forgot to describe my main characters. They’re looks were so obvious to me that I didn’t even thing of describing them to my readers. These are the things you don’t catch as a writer when you read your own work. And when you have multiple people reading your work, you can sum the main problems and the rest are more up to your own taste.

What inspires your story ideas?
I don’t even know. The novel I’m working on I began back in 2003. It’s the first serious thing I began working on and I want to finish it. The rest simply comes out as ideas that pop into my head. Or I read an intriguing prompt or a picture inspires me to write a story.

Do you belong to any Writing Groups?
I belong to the Scribe’s Circle.

Tell us about all of your works in progress (include your favorite snippets).
Where do I start? I have many WIPs and it would take ages for me to go through all of them. That’s why I’ll talk a little about We Are the Snow. WAtS is a short story collection and a photography book as well. It will be about dogs up here in the North, be it northern breeds or just dogs in wintertime. All photography is taken by me and displays dogs in snow. All I need to do is write the stories, get them edited and select and edit the photographs. Some of the stories are done an only need edits.

Have you been published?
I have been published in Unbound by the Scribe’s Circle.
[JMA edit – you can find Unbound here]

How can readers follow you?
S. M. Palola:  https://www.facebook.com/S-M-Palola-Author-1750506931892359/
Lempi Lemmetty:  https://www.facebook.com/lempilemmetty/

Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
I love ice tea!

Thanks, S. M. , for taking the time to share a little piece of you with us!

Writer’s Spotlight Episode 12: Brandy Sharpe

For this inexorably late twelfth episode of Writer’s Spotlight, we have Brandy Sharpe – another member of the Scribes’ Circle and fellow ‘A Haunting of Words’ author whom I have gotten to know well over the past year. Brandy is one tough mommy, a talented writer, and very patient with bloggers who disappear for two weeks without notice. (thank you!).

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What names do you write by?
Pen name: B. Sharpe

Give us a short introduction to you.
Originally from a little town near Panama City, I now live in South Carolina with my husband of 12 years and 4 children. 

How long have you been writing, professionally and/or as a hobby?
I fell in love with writing in 3rd grade.  I’m now 33 years old.  However, I only recently got serious about it. 

In what genre(s) do you write?
I try for Horror or Literary Fiction.  I also have interests in Science Fiction.  I guess I really don’t have a specific genre. 

Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you let the story grow as you write?I write better when a story is outlined ahead of time. 

Which authors have influenced and inspired you the most?
Alexandra Sokoloff, Carol Goodman, and Kim Edwards.

Do you write in other ways, such as poetry, songwriting, technical articles, etc?
I wrote in a particular Poetry Journal from the time I was 14 until I turned 30.  I still write poetry from time to time, but not like I used to.  I blog from time to time.  I’m looking into writing articles online, but I haven’t found anything particularly lucrative yet. 

How has your life experiences affected your writing?
I try to infuse as much of them as I can into my writing.  When they say, “write what you know,” I think this is what they mean- that for your characters to be relatable to your readers, they must also be relatable to you.  So, the character might be in a situation I haven’t personally experienced, but I may have been in something similar and can use those in my writing. 

What scene that you’ve written has moved you the most, and why?
Honestly, that’s in a piece I don’t push a lot.  It was in Beast Within, for the Muscular Dystrophy anthology.  In the piece I strove to show what it is like to be haunted by a past event.  In the story, there is a scene where the Alice, the main character, stands in an old bathroom in front of a medicine cabinet.  She is inundated with this really terrible memory that seems to come out of nowhere and she comes face to face with the root of her drug addiction and her cutting addiction.  Orphne, Alice’s character foil, is right next to her and is trying to argue her out of these destructive behaviors.  Orphne has been there all along through this battle and it’s been this painful thing for her to watch.  It moved me because I have family members that have fought these battles, so it came from an interesting place. 

Beta Readers – Yes or No? Why?
Yes.  I have found that the right beta reader can help you and your story grow. 

What inspires your story ideas?
Life, in general, inspires my ideas.  For me, there’s a magic in the mundane.  Someone dancing down the street can inspire a story.  It really doesn’t take much. 

Do you belong to any Writing Groups?
Scribes’ Circle, Fiction Writing, etc.

Tell us about all of your works in progress (include your favorite snippets).
His madness was a black sun whose shadowy flames licked away his humanity. He hugged himself tight, terrified, desperate to contain that which obeyed nothing. He trembled, knew the witch approached. Powerless, he felt the black flames destroy the earthen walls of his brain.–Black Butterflies, AHOW, due out June 1st, 2017.

Have you been published?
I have been published, thus far, in two anthologies.  The first is Beast Within for the Muscular Dystrophy Anthology, and the second is Coming Home in Unbound.  The Beast Within is about a girl that visits her childhood home and finds that either she or the house is haunted by a terrible secret.  The second is Coming Home in Unbound, about a Reservist that comes home from a grueling military training exercise and finds out just how glad her husband is that she’s come home. 
https://www.amazon.com/Unbound-Scribes-Circle-ebook/dp/B06XMQCVJB/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1488730099&sr=8-13&keywords=unbound+anthology
https://www.amazon.com/Love-Lust-Scary-Monsters-Dystrophy-ebook/dp/B01MY4OY48/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488730177&sr=8-1&keywords=muscular+dystrophy+anthology
[JMA – Since this interview, Brandy’s story Black Butterfly has been accepted into the ‘A Haunting of Words’ anthology. You can get the ebook NOW, and the paperback June 1st here – http://www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-haunting-of-words]

How can readers follow you?
https://www.facebook.com/Bsharpeauthor/

Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
I am also a part of an organization, For the Life of Us that is championing the reality of Mental Illness that so many face. If interested, please follow us at https://www.facebook.com/ForTheLifeOfUs/ 

Thanks, Brandy, for taking the time to share a little piece of you with us, and being patient with my delays!

Writer’s Spotlight Episode 11: Lauren Nalls

For this eleventh episode of Writer’s Spotlight, we have Lauren Nalls – another member of the Scribes’ Circle and fellow ‘A Journey of Words’ and ‘A Haunting of Words’ author whom I have gotten to know well over the past year.

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What names do you write by?
Lauren Nalls

Give us a short introduction to you.
I’m an author and poet based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I love the history here and the small-town vibe but I really miss California where I was born and raised. I hope to retire to the Napa area someday. There is no more peaceful place on earth than being in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, standing in a creek, with a fishing pole in my hand. My family is my life; I have two great teens and a hard-working husband. I love reading, fishing, science, music, and 70 degree weather.

How long have you been writing, professionally and/or as a hobby?
I was that kid who could often be found under the blankets with a flashlight writing or reading until well after bedtime, so I guess as a hobby, since childhood. I’ve been professionally writing since my first publication in 2014.

In what genre(s) do you write?
I usually end up somewhere around contemporary literary fiction and upmarket, historical, or dark fiction.

Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you let the story grow as you write?
I’m a hybrid girl, I start off pantsing, then move to an outline. I find I have trouble outlining a story at the beginning. I need to write, ruminate, digest, and write some more. Once I get about a quarter to a third of the way into a story, I find it essential to outline the rest. For me, it is pointless to begin with an outline because I don’t know where I’m going yet.

Which authors have influenced and inspired you the most?
I love authors with great descriptive qualities who can also convey a much deeper meaning with their work than first meets the eye. A beautiful, well-told story with meaning is what I look for. Some of the most influential authors for me are Margaret Atwood, Anthony Doerr, Judy Blume, Gillian Flynn, Carson McCullers, John Green, Sue Monk Kidd, Annie Proulx… I could go on forever so I’m going to stop here.

Do you write in other ways, such as poetry, songwriting, technical articles, etc?
I love to write poetry but I can’t seem to rhyme, so songwriting is out.

How has your life experiences affected your writing?
I’m an emotionally evocative writer because most of my writing has a nugget of reality in it somewhere.

What scene that you’ve written has moved you the most, and why?
I would say a scene that I wrote from an old photo of me and my dad walking across a field in Yosemite National Park. I don’t remember the day the picture was taken so I was able to create that day for myself and it was beautiful.

Beta Readers – Yes or No? Why?
Beta readers are an absolute yes. There is no better way to tap into your potential market.

What inspires your story ideas?
I’m inspired by beauty and emotion.

Do you belong to any Writing Groups?
I’m very involved in a local critique group and could not be more grateful to have found them, they’ve become my tribe. I also belong to Scribes’ Circle, Riverside Writers, James River Writers, and Virginia Writers Club.

Tell us about all of your works in progress (include your favorite snippets).
I have three novels in progress in various stages of completion. One is set in a traveling 1930’s carnival, one is set in 1980’s Southern California, and one is co-author project I’ve just started. I’m interested to see where that last one leads! I’ve also got various short stories cooking and I’ve recently tried my hand at flash fiction.

Have you been published?
My first publication was a poem called “Burgeon” in Fredericksburg Literary Review Spring 2014 Volume 2, Issue 1, page 49. This is a poem about legacy.
https://issuu.com/amybayne/docs/flr_the_anthology_fba7376995aa7c
My second publication was in 2016, a short story called “Loose Ends” in Scout Media’s A Journey of Words. This story is about a daughter getting to know her own father while saying goodbye.
https://www.amazon.com/Lauren-Nalls/e/B01LDW0L52

How can readers follow you?
www.LaurenNalls.com
@Scribbleglitch on Twitter
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLaurenNalls/

Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
Yes. I absolutely stand for equality.

Thanks, Lauren, for taking the time to share a little piece of you with us!

Writer’s Spotlight Episode 10: Kristen Leah Evans

For this tenth episode of Writer’s Spotlight, we have Kristen Leah Evans – another member of the Scribes’ Circle whom I have gotten to know over the past year.

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Give us a short introduction to you.
to be completely honest, I have no idea what to say here, I write because that is what I love and I read because I love that, too… I do my best at what I can do and I am trying to be a better writer… (No clue if that makes any sense)

How long have you been writing, professionally and/or as a hobby?
I have no clue how long I have been writing, it is always something I have done, just didn’t realize it was my passion in life until I was 29 years old.

In what genre(s) do you write?
I don’t think I have a set genre, although 90% of what I write has something to do with sex in a sense, but I just write what comes to mind, what speaks to me.

Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you let the story grow as you write?
Sometimes, I outline, just because there is something I want to put in the story and I am afraid that I will forget it, but sometimes I am a pantser haha

Which authors have influenced and inspired you the most?
Honestly, I would have to say until I became a Scribe, there really weren’t any authors that inspired me or influenced me, I just love to write. Then I became a Scribe and my fellow Scribes have been so supportive of me, (even though I suck) and bring new ideas constantly, making it worthwhile and fun to be a Scribe.

Do you write in other ways, such as poetry, songwriting, technical articles, etc?
I wrote a song, without music when I was 15, I think. I’ve always written poetry off and on over the years, and still do, when my muse hits me in the face with something I think is awesome. No technical articles, they’re boring.

How has your life experiences affected your writing?
Sometimes, I get an idea about something to write from something that has happened to me or around me, problem with that is I don’t always know HOW to write the story to one, give it justice, and two, not seem too stiff.

What scene that you’ve written has moved you the most, and why?
Right now, I cannot currently answer this question without revealing a deep dark secret (not really, haha), but it is something I may reveal over time.

Beta Readers – Yes or No? Why?
I have yet to utilize beta readers. I think I should simply because I always need someone else’s opinion on my work and even when someone tells me it is good, I doubt them. I would say yes, but I have to say no just because I don’t have any

What inspires your story ideas?
Real life. Things that have happened to me, that should never happen to anyone else. Writing prompts sometimes help, but mainly real life.

Do you belong to any Writing Groups?
Fiction Writing, Writing Without Drama, and Scribes’ Circle, I believe those are the only ones.

Tell us about all of your works in progress (include your favorite snippets).
Currently, sadly, I don’t have any works in progress. I have ideas, but I have yet to actually start writing anything.

Have you been published?
As Monroe Page in Unbound, I have 3 stories published in there.  Infringement is about a woman who leaves her boyfriend behind for college, and when he doesn’t understand her anymore, Janelle is there waiting to pick up her pieces and show her what love really is. Hunter and Grace have explicit fun with each other even though it’s Unsuitable. River and Isaiah have an Unbreakable Bond, even though River left Isaiah behind to continue her education, when he comes to visit, things get a little kinky.
[note from J.M. Ames – Unbound can be found here]

How can readers follow you?
https://www.facebook.com/Monroe.Page.Author/
https://www.facebook.com/Kristen.l.evans.writer/
https://www.facebook.com/kristenwritesfiction/
on twitter @klevanswriter

and if you already have the Scribes’ Circle website link lol… that’s all of them me thinks…

Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
If they knew everything, there’d be no mystery. Nothing for them to read in my writing.

Thanks, Kristen, for taking the time to share a little piece of you with us!

Writer’s Spotlight Episode 9: N E Harvey

For this ninth episode of Writer’s Spotlight, we have N E Harvey – another member of the Scribes’ Circle whom I have gotten to know over the past year. Her biting British humor is a counterpoint to her quite compassionate heart. She is a complex and pleasant person to know, and her writing reflects that.

NE Harvey

 Give us a short introduction to you.
Hi! I’m Naomi, a British author from Buckinghamshire, England. I live with my fiancé and our ever-growing collection of books. When I am not holed up in my office at home writing and studying for a degree in English literature and creative writing, I can usually be found with my nose in a book or watching Netflix with my fiancé. I also love watching F1 and Rugby. I am a huge music lover and love to sing. My music tastes are eclectic with my playlists including some classical composers, as well as musical genres like Metal, Rock, Punk Rock, Indie, R N B, Hip Hop, Dance, Garage, and Pop.

How long have you been writing, professionally and/or as a hobby?
I have only been writing professionally for about four years. My brother bought me a creative writing course online for my 29th birthday and it changed my life. Before that, I would regularly make up stories to entertain people but never kept them. I was the only girl with three brothers until I was 8 so I spent a lot of time on my own with just my imagination to keep me occupied.

In what genre(s) do you write?
I will dabble in just about everything if the story comes to me. However, the vast majority of my work to date would fit into the horror or fantasy genres. They are my favourite to read, too.

Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you let the story grow as you write?
I used to be a total pantser, but I find myself planning my storylines more and more. I am not rigid with my planning, however, I can plan something and then when I start writing, find the story moving in a different direction. If just letting it flow is working I just keep going. If I like the new direction but feel the need to have some structure, I will stop and re-plan in the new direction.

Which authors have influenced and inspired you the most?
It’s quite a long list. My main influences and inspirations come from Anne Rice, Steven King, Jane Austen, Neil Gaiman, Mary Shelley, Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou and Terry Patchett.

Do you write in other ways, such as poetry, songwriting, technical articles, etc?
I write poetry. I am not as experienced with it as prose, but I am growing more confident in that area. I don’t have the musical know-how to write songs, but I would love to get involved with lyricist work at some point. I have a blog that I have been neglecting terribly, where I sometimes write articles about writing or about films I have seen. I occasionally support my friends with their business websites by content editing and copywriting for them.

How has your life experiences affected your writing?
Quite significantly. I think it’s a given with any author that their experiences will shape their writing. I lost my dad when I was 20 and that sense of loss is evident in a lot of what I write. I am also a feminist which definitely affects how I write my female characters and the kinds of conflict I like to explore in my work.

What scene that you’ve written has moved you the most, and why?
It’s not a scene, but the piece of my writing that moved me the most has to be the obituary poem that I wrote when my Nan passed away two years ago. It was a poem full of memories which stirred such bittersweet feelings of love and loss for the magnificent matriarch of my mother’s side of the family. I am glad that I was able to honour my nan in a way that resonated so deeply not only with myself but with my whole family.

Beta Readers – Yes or No? Why?
Yes, but it is important to have several so that you can find patterns in feedback and not be tempted to change things because it didn’t resonate with just one person.

What inspires your story ideas?
Life, feelings, emotions, and fears in particular. There is nothing that can make you feel more alive than exploring those things you fear the most.

Do you belong to any Writing Groups?
I belong to the Scribes Circle and I am working on eligibility to the Horror Writers Association. I just need the anthology I have been published in to make me eligible. It’s a nail-biting wait!

Tell us about all of your works in progress (include your favorite snippets).
I don’t really like to have a large number of pieces on the go at the same time. As I work full time and study part-time, I don’t have much time left over for many writing projects. I am working on a short story currently for an anthology themed around rascals. My story is about an illegitimate daughter of a millionaire who doesn’t want anything to do with her but uses her to improve his image. She forges a famous missing piece of art and sells it on the black market to her father’s protégé.

Have you been published?
I have a short story published in an anthology called ‘Monsters’, published by Bushmead Publishing. You can find it on amazon.
https://www.amazon.com/Monsters-TPQ-Anthology-Chris-Musgrave-ebook/dp/B01MPX1CPL/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489235901&sr=8-1&keywords=TPQ+Monsters

How can readers follow you?
Readers can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NEHarvey
On Twitter under @NaiElizaHarvey

On my blog can be found at www.wordpress.com/traineeauthor

Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
I can’t share everything in one go. Where is the mystery in that?

Thanks, Naomi, for taking the time to share a little piece of you with us!

Writer’s Spotlight Episode 8: Patricia Stover

For this eighth, Easter episode of Writer’s Spotlight, we have Patricia Stover – another member of the Scribes’ Circle and fellow A Journey of Words author whom I have gotten to know over the past year. She is also in the A Haunting of Words anthology with me, due out in June/July 2017. Her fun-loving, friendly demeanor lulls you into expecting nice, fluffy, happily-ever-after stories from her. What you get instead is creepy, terrifying tales that are sure to keep you awake at night!

PatS

 Give us a short introduction to you.
I am a stay at home mom from a small town in Oklahoma. I attended college at MSC, where I received my Associates in Science. I also attended SOSU, where I studied English and Writing. I have a three-year-old boy, who keeps me busy when I’m not writing. I have one published short story in Scout Media’s, “A Journey of Words” anthology and another that will be published in the, “A Haunting of Words” anthology. I write mostly Horror and what you might call Weird Fiction. I love the outdoors, fishing, camping, and traveling.

How long have you been writing, professionally and/or as a hobby?
As a young adult, I would write cheesy poetry and journal.  However, it wasn’t until I was around 24 and attending college that I really found my love for writing. I was attending MSC working on my basics for nursing. I took a writing course as one of my required arts. My professor was head of the writing department. The class was asked to write a short screen play, around two or three pages I believe. Seven pages later my screen play was still unfinished lol. I handed in the assignment, positive it would receive an F since unfinished. The professor loved the story and suggested I take a creative writing course. I never thought writing would be something I would enjoy before that. I took the creative writing course and several literature courses. I fell in love with writing and literature. I looked forward to attending my classes. I had been a nurse aide for years before that and thought being a Nurse was my calling. It had never occurred to me I could be a creative person. Once I finished my Associate’s degree I went on to try for my Bachelors in English and Writing. I met my husband, got married and pregnant, so school went on hold. After I had my son I stayed at home with him. I was thirty-two when he was born.  An idea for a horror novel hit me while driving one day and I thought, “I’m going to sit down and write this book.”  I wrote day and night and three months later I had the first draft of “Hitchhiking with the Devil” written.  Somewhere along the way I joined a writing group, Fiction Writing. I wanted to learn more about writing, and since I wasn’t in school I thought the best way would be to research it on the internet. An article I read suggested joining a writer’s group.  The “A Journey of Words” anthology was open to submissions. I had one written that fit the theme, so I polished it and had it edited and it was accepted into the anthology.

In what genre(s) do you write?
I write horror, dark fiction/weird fiction. Although I hope to expand into other genres.

Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you let the story grow as you write?
I cannot outline to save my life. I wish I could, I feel like it would make writing so much easier. But an outline stops the flow for me. I guess it’s a mental thing.

Which authors have influenced and inspired you the most?
Probably Steven King and R.L. Stein, I loved the goosebumps series growing up. Also, I watched a lot of twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt, and other shows like that, which I think had a strong influence. I like anything weird.

Do you write in other ways, such as poetry, songwriting, technical articles, etc?
I do dabble in poetry a bit.

How has your life experiences affected your writing?
I think it is impossible for life experiences not to affect writing. We always put a little of ourselves in our stories, even if we don’t mean to. I don’t think there is a way around that.

What scene that you’ve written has moved you the most, and why?
I think the scene in “Hitchhiking with the Devil” where I had my MC kill her best friend. That would be one of the more emotional scenes, but the creepiest one so far is the ballet scene, which I have yet to decide if it will stay in the book.

Beta Readers – Yes or No? Why?
Yes. I like to have an outside opinion, but I have certain ones that I know their work and trust them.

What inspires your story ideas?
Everything lol.  Hitchhiking with the Devil was inspired by an old man that lives in my town. I drove by him one day while taking my son to the pumpkin patch. He usually drives his lawn mower around town, but that day he was hitchhiking. I thought to myself, “I should pick him up and give him a ride.” Then I thought, “What if he kills me and cuts my body into pieces and throws it into the river?”  And then I thought, “It’s sad that you can’t even give a person a ride these days because you don’t know what kind of person they are.” That is where the idea for the antagonist came from.

Do you belong to any Writing Groups?
I am a member of the Scribes Circle, a member of Fiction Writing, and I really need to get my membership to the HWA, but I am a procrastinator lol. I am a part of the group and follow them diligently.

Tell us about all of your works in progress (include your favorite snippets).
Hitchhiking With the Devil
“You think you can leave! There is no escape. I am everywhere and everyone. I know all your desires and your darkest sins. You cannot run from me.”
    Joey revved the engine.
    “It doesn’t matter who you think you are!” she yelled.
    “You can’t hurt us.” She revved the engine again.
    “Because you’re not fucking real!” Joey hit the gas.

Night of the Eye
Lilly sat on the toilet, practicing fractions in her head. One-fourth plus one-half equals three-fourths, one-half plus one-half equals one whole, or one. Fractions were easy, way easier than history. Who cared about history? Mrs. Cresternek wanted you to remember a bunch of dates about a bunch of old dead people, boring. The bathroom door slammed, jarring Lilly from her history daze. A familiar feeling overwhelmed her. Her spine tingled and hairs stood like tiny soldiers on the back of her neck.
Her fingers slipped through her belt loops, she stumbled onto the toilet and screamed. The eye peered at her from beneath the bathroom stall. A black cat-eyed pupil focused on her. She searched the stall. No escape.
    “Hello, anybody in here? Janitor … anyone here?” A voice sounded through the door. Lilly tried to scream. Her throat clenched, silencing the sound before it could be released. She was paralyzed beneath the eye’s power. Footsteps pounded toward her. The sinister ball slid under the divider, releasing her from its glare. A pair of brown work boots stood at the stall door now. They lingered there. Heavy breathing sounded from the other side. Her hand trembled as reached for the latch.
The janitor groaned. Lilly jerked her hand back. The latch wiggled. Lilly pulled her knees to her chest and closed her eyes. “Click,” the door creaked. She scrunched her eyes tighter. The stall shook. Lilly’s heart strummed against her chest. The work boots disappeared. Muffled groans echoed off the tiled walls and glass shattered.
“God! N—” The Janitor’s screams turned to gurgles. Burnt flesh drifted into Lilly’s nose. The bathroom went silent. She sat on the toilet, knees to her chest, crying. When she found the courage to look at what was on the other side of the stall door Lilly fainted.
 The Janitor’s lifeless body lay on the cold green tile. His eyes disintegrated from his skull. Only a bloody glob of nerves and mucous rest inside his head. The viscous soup dripped down what remained of the janitor’s face into a puddle on the floor.

Have you been published?
“Creepers” is featured in Scout Media’s, “A Journey of Words” anthology. It is about a greedy and bitter old woman who will stop at nothing to win a gardening contest. She stumbles across an unusual green house. Violet purchases some seed that will give her what she “needs”.
 http://www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-journey-of-words
My short story, “Plastic Boy”, will also be featured in Scout Media’s, “A Haunting of Words” anthology, due to release this summer.

How can readers follow you?
They can follow at my website:
http://patriciastover.wixsite.com/patriciastover
 Also at my Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/authorjkenedy

Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
I can’t think of anything else. I’m really not that interesting. Lol

Thanks, Patricia, for taking the time to share a little piece of you with us!

Writer’s Spotlight Episode 7: Kari Holloway

For this seventh episode of Writer’s Spotlight, we have Kari Holloway – another member of the Scribes’ Circle whom I have gotten to know quite well over the past year. She is also in the A Haunting of Words anthology with me, due out in July 2017. Her vast knowledge on numerous facets of the publishing industry and extremely prolific story writing ensure she will go quite far! I’ve read her Cracked But Never Broken, and I was surprised by the depth of the characters, the surprise twists, and most of all that a romance book could draw me into it as much as it did.

KariH

 Give us a short introduction to you.
I’m a southern pain in the ass, if you asked my mom. It was all in good jest. Born and bred Georgian native, I graduated from Lee County High and achieved my Bachelor’s Degree from Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus Ga. I’ve got two girls, Thing 1 and Thing 2/Demon and if you are a fan of my Instagram.com/lunanara87 they pop up regularly.

How long have you been writing, professionally and/or as a hobby?
As a hobby, elementary school. I remember hiding it and feeling like writing wasn’t an “honorable” thing in the family. We were a bunch of hands on people. Professionally, I started in July 2015 but didn’t realize it would become a career until 2016.

In what genre(s) do you write?
My main wheelhouse is Southern Fiction, stories with main characters or cultures from the south but they can be any genre. I have a contemporary romance and a fantasy series that are very different but both are Southern Fiction.

Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you let the story grow as you write?
I don’t know much past the next paragraph. Sometimes I have an idea of where it’s going, but like Cracked But Never Broken proved, even that can change by a single action.

Which authors have influenced and inspired you the most?
Every author I’ve ever read has influenced me in some form or fashion. Stories become part of our identity and while we can’t detail where we picked it up, it lingers, shaping our ideas and notions on some level.

Do you write in other ways, such as poetry, songwriting, technical articles, etc?
I haven’t touched poetry in many years, not since high school.

How has your life experiences affected your writing?
Every experience no matter how big or how little, just like reading books, affects us. I can’t tell how it affects it, but I do know that occasionally I can pinpoint a part and go “that reminds me of XYZ” but it doesn’t look anything like it did in real life.

What scene that you’ve written has moved you the most, and why?
Cracked But Never Broken had a few scenes that were just amazing. Damien at the kitchen table, mad at the world and he doesn’t have a clue why. Lexi standing up for herself at the Mistwood ranch. This girl has had it and refuses to be “genderfied” and seen as weak. On the Mistwood ranch again, in the kitchen, and the total breakdown of expectation versus reality and that no matter how desperate we are, we can’t control everything.

Beta Readers – Yes or No? Why?
I’m starting to dip my toes in the water with beta readers. My Laughing P series doesn’t need it. But fantasy is a genre that somethings need to be explained because you don’t know if they read Brent weeks or Kim Harrison, or you might be the first fantasy book the reader ever picks up.

What inspires your story ideas?
I really don’t know. My aunt told me one time, if you’re bored, you aren’t being productive. My mind’s always looping through something. It might be writing or it could be the next great Hearthstone or Pokemon TCG match.

Do you belong to any Writing Groups?
I’m a member of a few groups but only active in Fiction Writing (25k members), Scribes’ Circle, Writing without Drama (Admin), 20booksto50k, For Love or Money and each provides different things. No one group can provide all the answers and they shouldn’t.

Tell us about all of your works in progress (include your favorite snippets).
You’re asking for a lot.
I just finished formatting Forgotten, the first in the Devil’s Playground series. Weddings should be the happiest time for a couple. In the city of New Orleans, they are anything but. Something is wrecking havoc and it’s up to Alex and her team of Guardians to get to the bottom of it, but who is hunting who?
I finished the draft of Never too Late, the final novel in the Laughing P trilogy. It’s currently in pre-editor phase. Darien Payne is determined to win the girl next door until death do they part, but just as his life seems to be going great karma throws a curve ball. A death hangs over the happiest day of his life, his brother is missing, and some unsettling news about a certain blonde has him worried that the two are intertwined.
I’ve got a few ideas cooking, Shipwrecked or Switched at Birth, and until I know which way I’m leaning I’m not giving any hints on either of those. I may dig out a short story to help disengage myself from writing in 1st POV before tackling the rewrite of Cry of Gold.

Have you been published?
The list is incredible long. I’ll link it to my site where everything is at your fingertips. Instead of all, I’m going to highlight the latest news.
A Haunting of Words is the 3rd installment of the Of Word series by Scout Media. 365 submissions. 31 stories chosen. Gunpowder & Wool made the short list and to make that victory even sweeter, I landed a marquee spot on the cover. An incredible feat to say the least.
Coming summer 2017, the only promise I can make is that every page will leave you haunted.

How can readers follow you?
KariHolloway.wix.com/fiction will keep you up to date.
Join my newsletter, through my site, my facebook.com/k.l.holly page, or https://goo.gl/forms/unvopp0ej5ROGCtv2.
Twitter and Instagram are @Lunanara87
Google plus is https://plus.google.com/+KariHolloway

Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
I prefer vanilla ice cream.

Thanks, Kari, for taking the time to share a little piece of you with us!

Writer’s Spotlight Episode 6: Harlow West

For this sixth episode of Writer’s Spotlight, we have Harlow West – another member of the Scribes’ Circle whom I have gotten to know over the past year. Her quirky charm and sense of humor shine through in her writing.

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 Give us a short introduction to you.
My name is Harlow.  I live in NYC with my wonderfully nerdy husband and our two geriatric, codependent cats. I’m a Capricorn, I like long walks on the beach and piña coladas … wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah! I am a writer and artist, and I love anything nerdy.

How long have you been writing, professionally and/or as a hobby?
I’ve been writing professionally if you can call it that, for close to a year, but I stared writing as a hobby in my early teens. So if my calculations are correct, it was somewhere around the time that man discovered fire. A girl needs light to write by, am I right?

In what genre(s) do you write?
I love to write in all sorts of genres. I’ve tried my hand at horror, paranormal, romance, science-fiction, and fantasy. However, more often than not, I usually start out writing general fiction and without fail it always turns into something in the fantasy or science-fiction genre.

Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you let the story grow as you write?
This is the fun part. When it comes to short stories I like to just put pen to paper and see what happens. It’s sort of like giving a toddler a lb. of sugar and watching the chaos ensue. Then I take in the aftermath and apply tweaks wherever they are needed. When writing long-form things like novellas and novels I like to use a hybrid method. I take a day or two to create a bare bones outline. I flesh out the major plot points and try to decipher my themes and then I promptly crumple it up, throw it across the room, and hope for the best.

Which authors have influenced and inspired you the most?
There have been so many authors that have inspired me along the way. Some of the usual suspects are J.K. Rowling, P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast, King, Tolkien. However, the first book that ever made me want to be an artist and writer was Trouble for Trumpets by Peter Cross and Peter Dallas-Smith. My grandmother would read it to me over and over again, ad nauseum. I was a relentless child and she was a very forgiving woman. The illustrations in that book were breath-taking and the story was just wonderful.

Do you write in other ways, such as poetry, songwriting, technical articles, etc?
I used to write poetry, though it’s been longer than I’d like to admit since I’ve written any.

How has your life experiences affected your writing?
No one has an easy life. We all struggle with one thing or another. My struggles have taught me about my own inner strength and my ability to keep pushing through, no matter what problem arises.

What scene that you’ve written has moved you the most, and why?
Death scenes are the hardest for me in general, not so much because of the death involved, but because of the effect they have on the characters/people that were left behind.

Beta Readers – Yes or No? Why?
Beta readers, yes, but I’m constantly working to find those beta reader unicorns. They exist! I am always on the look out for people who are able and willing to give usable critiques and constructive criticism. I may not use them for everything that I write, but their help can sometimes point out story aspects that I may have missed while writing my first drafts.

What inspires your story ideas?
I find inspiration in everyday life. Often I try to keep my mouth closed and my mind open and just take in everything around me. Every once in a while I will read something, or hear something that will sprinkle my cookies, so to speak. It may be a song lyric, the graceful movements of a stranger, or just a single word, but it will strike me in such a way that I have to stop and write down my thoughts. After a while, I will go through my notes, and if I’m lucky, a story idea or two will come out of the jumbled mess that is my writer’s notebook.

Do you belong to any Writing Groups?
I am currently a proud member of The Scribes’ Circle. I’d love to be a member of more writing associations in the future, but I currently have the concentration of a squirrel on meth so it will have to wait until a later date.

Tell us about all of your works in progress (include your favorite snippets).
I am currently working on a few different projects. One project is about a girl who visits by a spectral carnival and realizes that the fun house isn’t nearly as fun as she thought it would be. Another project will be exploring the power and magic of words. A third project is a fun little romp through a post-apocalyptic world.
My favorite snipping from my post-apocalyptic story is:
When Adelinde first stepped off of the train platform and into the subway car she almost ran directly into them. A couple. The same couple that she had taken the train with into the city at least a dozen and a half times by now. They were cute together, the sort of couple that stood a little too close together in public. The ones whose hands would accidentally graze each other every chance they had. A coy glance here, a stolen kiss there. She could tell it was new love for the both of them. As time passed and they became braver with their public displays of affection she could tell… this was either going to be one for the ages or yet another dramatic shit show to watch on her way into the city.
At first, it looked like just another pre-work make out session for the couple. She sat next to him, her legs draped over his and her arms hanging from his neck. His hand slid slowly up her thigh until it gripped her firmly about the hips. His other hand tangling in her hair, pulling her face to his in a passionate embrace. It wasn’t until she heard the muffled screaming and felt the spray of blood land squarely across her freshly pressed pencil skirt that Adelinde realized that there was something terribly wrong.

Have you been published?
Aside from a poem or two that was published at the tender age of 16, I don’t have many publishing notches on my belt. However, I may or may not have had a little somethin’ – somethin’ to do with the Unbound anthology by The Scribes’ Circle. *Dim the lights and cue the sexy-time music.*
[Note from J.M. – you can check out Unbound here.]

How can readers follow you?
Twitter:  
https://twitter.com/The_Harlow_West

Facebook:  
https://www.facebook.com/Harlow.West.Author/
https://www.facebook.com/ScribesCircle/

Goodreads: 
http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/59459072-harlow

Instagram: 
https://www.instagram.com/harlow.west.author/

Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
I speak several languages including English, sarcasm, inappropriate humor, movie and television quotes, and memes. If you understand these then we will get along well.

Thanks, Harlow, for taking the time to share a little piece of you with us!

Writer’s Spotlight Episode 5: M.R. Ward

For this fifth episode of Writer’s Spotlight, we have M.R. Ward – another ‘A Journey of Words’ author and member of the Scribes’ Circle whom I have gotten to know recently. With his quick wit and pleasant demeanor, one might be surprised to learn he is quite the terrifying horror writer.

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 Give us a short introduction to you.
I was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, and will probably spend my entire life here, which I’m fine with since I’m really close to my family. I don’t have kids, but I love my two small nephews as if they were my own. I have three cats with my partner, but one day soon I hope to have another dog. They bring a special kind of love you can’t find anywhere else. 

How long have you been writing, professionally and/or as a hobby?
I first put pen to paper in 1990 when I was twelve and spent two years writing, but I didn’t have the proper skills at such a young age. I didn’t pick it up again until 2011 when I began a novel (The Carrier) I had been outlining and thinking about for years. I got about thirteen thousand words into it before I lost confidence. In 2015 I decided it was now or never and began writing a short story (“A Letter from Home”) for a competition in Glimmer Train magazine. I didn’t win, but it got me back in the game. I picked up The Carrier again and wrote more of that until I came across another short story competition in 2016, this one for Scout Media’s A Journey of Words. “The Open Road” became my first (and so far only) published piece. Since becoming published I have written two more shorts (“Tootsie” and “The Road Back”) and began a new novel called The Children of Halloween.

In what genre(s) do you write?
Horror, but have also dabbled in Paranormal Romance (“Tootsie”) and Sci-Fi (The Carrier).

Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you let the story grow as you write?
I outlined The Carrier so much that I never started writing the story because I didn’t know all of the details or ending, but finally just started writing it, and turns out it started completely different than I had anticipated. Since then I just let my stories grow as they wish.

Which authors have influenced and inspired you the most?
R.L. Stine and Stephen King. I read most of Stine’s Fear Street stories when I was a teenager, which were the types of stories I loved. I graduated to King naturally, and it was actually after reading Under the Dome that I began The Carrier.

Do you write in other ways, such as poetry, songwriting, technical articles, etc?
I wrote poems from 1992-1995, two of which were entered into competitions. “Remember Me” and “River Moon” both received Honorable Mentions, and the former was published in 1994’s Odysseys by Iliad Press

How has your life experiences affected your writing?
In “The Open Road,” Dean Carrington’s car is a burgundy 1967 Chevelle Super-Sport. My father had the same car when he was young, but it was gold. I used to play in it for hours. For “Tootsie” I wanted to do a tribute to my deceased relatives. The main characters are named after my mother’s parents, while the supporting characters are from my father’s side.

What scene that you’ve written has moved you the most, and why?
There’s a scene in “The Open Road” where James and Lenoir are trapped in the car and the Deer Man’s head just keeps ramming the windshield as they’re trying to get away. The image of that still creeps me out.

Beta Readers – Yes or No? Why?
I’ve used them a few times to get a feel of how people will receive a story and get their advice on what works and what doesn’t.

What inspires your story ideas?
Most of the time I don’t know where I get my ideas. Other times, like for “Tootsie,” the idea came to me as I was trying on one of my dad’s suitcoats.

Do you belong to any Writing Groups?
I am a member of the Scribes’ Circle, Fiction Writing, and Writing Without Drama. I plan on becoming an active member of Horror Writers Association at some point.

Tell us about all of your works in progress (include your favorite snippets).
The Carrier – After waking up with amnesia on a mysterious island, Greg Walters must put his trust in strangers in order to stay alive. Lisa Monroe awakens in a motel room and quickly realizes she is unable to account for the past year of her life. The two stories intertwine and lead Detective Marc Rodgers on the most twisted case of his life.
The Children of Halloween – Patricia Price loves spending Halloween drinking wine, passing out candy, and watching scary movies with her friends, but when six strange children show up in 1970’s costumes her love turns to fear as Heath Grant eats the last piece of candy in front of them. The Children stalk Patricia and her friends, leading to a bloody showdown.

Have you been published?
I only have one short story published, and it appears in Scout Media’s 2016 anthology A Journey of Words. “The Open Road” is about four friends on a late night road trip who find themselves on a looping collision course with a supernatural creature.
https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Words-Brian-Paone/dp/0615934293/ 

How can readers follow you?
I’m pretty active on Facebook and Instagram, but I do have a Twitter account as well. I try to bring something different to each platform, so be sure to check out all of them.
www.facebook.com/mrwardauthor
www.instagram.com/m.r.ward_author
www.twitter.com/mrwardauthor

Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
I may write about blood and guts and things that’ll devour your insides, but I love puppies and chocolate too. My favorite television show ever is The Golden Girls. How’s that for variety? 

Thanks, M.R., for taking the time to share a little piece of you with us!