Author Spotlight: Azriel Hope

  • fantasy and paranormal romance writer for books AND the small screen

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Azriel Hope.

Lorie Hope writes fantasy and paranormal romances as Azriel Hope. She has ghostwritten for several contemporary romance authors and decided to begin her own romance brand. Lorie also writes Young Adult novels under her given name.

Lorie has been a writer for over ten years, she’s a single adoptive mother of two, soon to be three gorgeous girls and loves to travel the world when not schlepping her kids to school or contemplating life over a nice cold glass of chardonnay. Lorie spent many years working in television development and now writes for a living. 

Lorie, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

Um well, I’d definitely have a dragon. I mean they are very impractical because…where do you put them? And they seem cantankerous, but of course, as the movies tell us, they can be tamed.

But yes, I am ready for a Dragon all the way, I’d fly through the sky on my dragon, we’d flame stuff (but you know nothing that would cause permanent damage) and I’d just be a badass with my badass dragon…hello! 

Classic choice. As an occasional fire-dragon myself, I completely understand the urge.

What do you write and how did you get started?

I write everything…seriously. I have written everything, like stuff I was like…what? I mean if you pick three words out of a hat and give them to me with a genre I can write a book about it. BUT I love fantasy, that’s my favorite.

For my ghostwriting job I had to write contemporary romance with a lot of steam and I um…well…sort of like it, but what I love is writing fantasy with a little steam and a lot of love.

For YA, I love writing love in just a little sweeter way, both really work for me. In fact, at the moment I am co-writing a Christmas movie for Hallmark and you know there is NO STEAM in a Hallmark movie and I laughed out loud during our meeting with production because I felt like the whore who was invited to the Hallmark Christmas Social. I mean the steam I’ve had to write in stuff and now…well we can’t even have a kiss until the very very end and only a peck. It still makes me laugh.

But, I’ve written horror, comedy, a dance novel about steppin’… I’ve seriously written everything.

What I love most about what I write is how it breaks down barriers and paradigms. A lot of my characters, written in a mainstream way, are sexually fluid or ethnically diverse. In fact, as a mom of two biracial daughters, it’s important to me that YA novels have ethnic diversity. And in romance, there are a lot of heterosexual couples and a lot of gay couples, but sexually fluid romances are pretty rare, though becoming less so. I love writing characters that just love.

At the moment my Immortal Romance Series has these delicious bisexual men in it and a sweet F/F romance that is intertwined with the main couple and I just love it because mainstream readers get to see the different sides of love.

I started writing in the fourth grade. I had actually won the Orange County fair as the best writer in my age group for a book called How To Keep A Schmoo, but my teacher had entered my book and never told me. Since I never knew she entered my book, I didn’t know I had won. I didn’t collect my award, so the library called my mom and asked if I wanted my trophy and my book after they had it on display for a few months. I cried tears of joy and sadness that I had won, but never knew. I’ve been writing ever since. 

Wow, you’re definitely a skilled veteran — since 4th grade! Ghostwriting seems like a better fit for certain genres, and I’m glad you enjoyed it. But, it must be a real treat to put your own name on your own works.

And congrats on writing a Hallmark Christmas Special! I’m sure doing research for that… well, got a little repetitive after a while.

What do you like to read?

I like to read, young adult novels and fantasy. Weird huh, it’s also what I like to write 🙂 Actually even though I’ve written several best selling contemporary romance novels for my boss (as a ghostwriter) I have never actually read a contemporary romance. I’ve read parts of a few, but never the whole thing…hahaha.

You know this is the right place for YA and fantasy novel-lovers. 🙂 I’ve read a few contemporary romances, but they aren’t usually my jam, either. I need at least a little fantasy in my contemporary stories to really pull me in.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Using the formula

…hmmm. I guess I’m not very good at following a formula.  I think I might just intrinsically follow a formula, but I can’t write with any kind of formula in mind, like the hero’s journey, or the build-up to a climax, or acts in a screenplay. Anything that has any kind of logic to it, I just can’t do it.

I just let my characters be who they are, they tell me what they want to do in the story, I write it and then go back and read it and if it affects me emotionally, that’s the story. Hahaha, um…hope it’s working out okay, cause none of my work is very formulaic.

That’s so great that you have such a natural sense of pacing and story. I know as an unpublished writer, I worry quite a bit about my pacing and sometimes lean on beat-sheets and the hero’s journey to check my story and see if it looks ‘right’ according to those formulas. Maybe I should trust myself a little more.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.


Oh baby, BE TRUE TO YOU!!!! Be true to your voice, your story, your character, your people. You are unique and your stories are beautiful. While all writers need to rewrite and get feedback and make sure that their stories resonate, they won’t always resonate with everyone.

I think the best thing I’ve learned about following your own voice came when I started getting reviews for my work. At first, it was five star…five star….five star and seriously, I was like “I’m the best writer that EVER lived” (sort of, you know, you’ve had those moments) and then I get like a three-star review that annihilates me, and then a one-star review and I’m like “I can’t write for….sh*t.” But you know it all balances out. When I read the good reviews, what was great about them is that the readers got it. They understood the story and were moved by it and took the journey I created for them.

Then I found that in following my voice and my uniqueness my story resonated with some of the readers and for others, they were like….”no thanks”. It will happen with any story where you write from your heart. Some will love it…some will become obsessed with it and others will hate your story so much they’ll line their kitty boxes with it and that is….writing.

But still, be you…always be true to your voice.

What lovely advice. And I know that I’m not the only one hoping to find that audience where my story and my voice truly resonates with the readers.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

The Reign of a Queen, the third book in the Fallen Angel Immortal Romance Series will be released on March 11, 2020, on Amazon and is available for preorder now. And….the first two will be FREE the day the third book is released. (The release had to be bumped because Hallmark wanted their edits first…)

Book One: The Fall of Arcades follows Rayelynn, a fairy/mortal halfling and Farrow, the prince of Fallen Angels. What I love about this series is that not only does it tell an epic love story, it also deals with the prejudice of assuming people are good or evil based on where they are from or what they were born into.

Cover for: The Rise of a King

The Fall of Arcades is an incredible love story with some dark elements, sexual situations, and several polyamorous characters… because when you’re an immortal an eternity of vanilla is just no fun.

The second book, The Rise of a King (in the Fallen Angel, Immortal Romance Series) takes us from the Arcades and the kingdom of dark angels to The Cirque, a fairy realm where Farrow’s brother Prince Drayden rules. Born half-fairy and half-fallen angel, Drayden possesses both goodness and evil.

Book Three: The Reign of a Queen is EPIC!

Cover for "The Reign of a Queen"

Farrow and Rayelynn are brought to Estancia to live among the gods until Farrow serves his sentence for killing fairies and elves at their Samhain celebration. Rayelynn and Farrow’s children grow rapidly and Rayelynn is forced to commit a crime she never thought imaginable at the behest of the gods, who Farrow and Rayelynn discover are not as good as eternity believes. Farrow and Rayelynn tour the realms trying to instill peace among the agitated immortals who are angered the Arcades have been liberated. As they visit the realms, Rayelynn must face her past, her real father and take her place as the Queen of Eternity to save Farrow from himself and Drayden from Lucien, the demon Lord of Martu Mara.

Anastasia and Naida’s love grows as Anastasia rules the newly liberated Arcades, and settles into her role as their queen, faithful wife, and mother. With the balance of eternity threatened and Drayden’s promise to bring Rayelynn to Martu Mara to eternally suffer, Rayelynn alone must heal the ills of their existence to save Farrow from the prejudice that cripples him and Drayden from the hell that seeks to consume his soul so that she can make existence better for her children and all those she loves.

Website | Facebook Page

Author Spotlight: Joanne Machin

  • Multi-passionate contemporary own voices romance author

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Joanne Machin.

Image may contain: Joanne Machin, smiling, eyeglasses and indoor

Joanne Machin is a contemporary romance own voices romance author, a feminist, freelance copy editor, and career and life coach–just to name a few!

She lives in Seattle, WA, with her Welsh terrier puppy and her husband, where she drinks A LOT of coffee, indulges in an occasional brunch, and thinks a lot about what she’s doing with her life. 

Joanne, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

An air bison, like the ones from Avatar: The Last Airbender! 

Oooh! So cute, so loyal, so clever. And? A mode of transportation. Excellent choice.

What do you write and how did you get started?

Right now, I primarily write contemporary romance, but I actually got started writing on RPG boards on Neopets–yes, really!–over fifteen years ago.

I dabbled A LOT in fantasy, but I quickly latched onto romance. I just love love stories so much. I’ve been co-writing with my best friend Sarah since I was twenty-years old or so. We’ve been churning out stories since we first met (on Neopets), and our first published story is in an anthology that’s been on sale since last August. I’m really proud of us! My current WIP is a contemporary #ownvoices friends-to-lover romance. 

Oooh. I’m more of a paranormal or fantasy romance fan, but I sometimes branch out to contemporary world stuff.

And please, don’t remind me about Neopets. I’ve got an abandoned little purple dragon named “Morrigaine”, I believe (the other spellings were already taken) who’s been dying of thirst and hunger for over a decade. It would be nice if we could have put them in orphanages when we abandoned the game…

What do you like to read?

I love reading contemporary romance of all varieties and with all kinds of tropes. I’m loving this trend of contemporary romances tackling tough themes that are on the verge of women’s fiction. I also love sci-fi and fantasy, and I have a special place in our heart for the YA/NA genre.

It’s awesome when you can read a story and see a character dealing with — and overcoming some of the real life challenges that many of us face. And we all know I’M a huge sci-fi/fantasy buff.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Write everyday

So true. Life happens, and if you force the words in when you’ve got too much else going on, you can grow to resent it. And? You’re probably not putting out your best words.

I push through during NaNoWriMo, but 30 days a year is very different than every day of your life. I know I let a lot slide during November to make it happen, and I can’t always live like that.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Treat your author career like a business.

I know this is kind of writing-adjacent, but I hope it’s still okay; treat your career as an author like a business; it’s definitely a “long game”.

It’s so true. If you only have one book in you, you still want to be sure to find the right audience that will love your story. But most of us? Most of us have so many stories we want to share.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

A group of authors and I just published an anthology of short stories in titled “Valentine’s Day Gone Wrong,” and it includes romances ranging from contemporary to paranormal (and couple of them includes furry friends! That was a definitely shifter joke… Pun intended.). It’s all about thwarted Valentine’s Days–all with HEAs, of course!

My story was written with my best friend Sarah Estep: Pancakes and Puppy Love

After a brutal break-up while overseas, Robby returns home without a girlfriend to find a woman staying in his apartment. He tries to kick her out, but instead, they strike a deal.

Website | Facebook Page | Twitter

Author Spotlight: Jeffe Kennedy

  • author of fantasy romance and romance fantasy

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Jeffe Kennedy.

Picture of Jeffe Kennedy - a brunette white woman in a blue top and a very wide rimmed, bright blue hat.

Background is blurred, but is clearly outside. Green and rock or dirt.

Jeffe Kennedy has won the prestigious RITA® Award from RWA, been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. She serves on the Board of Directors for SFWA. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

Definitely a dragon!

Classic choice! I’m partial to red dragons, but there are many lovely dragons out there.

What do you write and how did you get started?

I write mainly fantasy with strong romantic elements. I got started a long time ago when I was in graduate school to get my PhD in Neuroscience. I decided I’d rather be a writer instead, so I began writing essays and nonfiction, then later shifted to writing novels.

I love reading some fantasy with strong romantic elements. Plus, it’s always great to hear what sort of non-writing expertise authors can bring to their work.

What do you like to read?

I read pretty widely, in most genres. In nonfiction I love biographies. In fiction, I really like to read a wonderful SFF world with a rich romantic storyline.

I’m a huge fan of world building and sff, as well. Great taste.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Write what you know.

This doesn’t work at all if you write fantasy!

So true. Genre fiction is a horrible place to stick only to what you know.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Write every day.

I’m a huge fan of this advice because it helped me to build a reliable writing habit. Whenever I start having trouble getting words on the page, I go back to writing every day, at the same time every day.

That’s a lot of discipline and making sure you prioritize your writing. Great work.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

The Fate Of The Tala:

The cover has a pale skinned red-headed woman facing the reader. With hawks and flying beasts. And a sailing ship in the background.

The Fate of the Tala

The exciting conclusion of the story begun in The Mark of the Tala

An Uneasy Marriage,
An Unholy Alliance.

The tales tell of three sisters, daughters of the high king. The eldest, a valiant warrior-woman, conquered her inner demons to become the high queen. The youngest, and most beautiful outlived her Prince Charming and found a strength beyond surface loveliness.

And the other one, Andi? The introverted, awkward middle princess is now the Sorceress Queen, Andromeda—and she stands at the precipice of a devastating war.

As the undead powers of Deyrr gather their forces, their High Priestess focuses on Andi, undermining her at every turn. At the magical barrier that protects the Thirteen Kingdoms from annihilation, the massive Dasnarian navy assembles, ready to pounce the moment Andi’s strength fails. And, though her sisters and friends gather around her, Andi finds that her husband, Rayfe, plagued with fears over her pregnancy, has withdrawn, growing ever more distant.

Fighting battles on too many fronts, Andi can’t afford to weaken, as she’s all that stands between all that’s good in the world and purest evil.

For Andi, the time to grow into her true power has come. . .

Website | Facebook Page | Twitter | SFF Seven

Author Spotlight: Kelly Blanchard

  • prolific sff author, commonly referred to as the Muse in writing communities

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Kelly Blanchard.

Kelly Blanchard is the author of the fantasy/science fiction series, The Chronicles of Lorrek. She lives in Texas in the middle of nowhere with her doberman, two cats, and her husband.

When she’s not writing and publishing books, she works closely with the online writing community, seeking to encourage and inspire beginning writers.

Kelly, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

A cheetah. I absolutely love cheetahs and really want to meet one in real life. They PURR!

What a lovely choice. I believe my niece would like to be a cheetah when she grows up.

What do you write and how did you get started?

I write a blend of fantasy/science fiction. What got me started with writing was honestly just reading a bunch of fan fiction, especially Star Wars fan fiction. I decided one day that I wanted to write my own stories, and the rest is history!

That’s awesome. I know there are tons of genre writers who got their start with fanfic. You’re pretty prolific, so your fans are very lucky.

What do you like to read?

When I have time to read, I like to read mainly fantasy stories, but I also like science fiction. And sometimes, when I’m bored, I’ll revisit old fan fiction sites and see what’s new. There are some really good fan fiction stories out there!

Genre fiction is my home as well. Glad to know that becoming a writer hasn’t turned you off your fanfic roots.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Dialogue Tags

Dialogue tags. I rarely use them because they don’t work for me. The only time I ever use them is when three or more characters are in a conversation or if a character isn’t making an expression or moving. Otherwise, I use body language.

Oooh. That can be tricksy when there’s a lot of dialogue, but you’re right. In real life, people usually don’t stop moving and gesticulating when they start talking. There’s probably always some body language you can show.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Show. Don’t Tell.

I guess it would be ‘show, don’t tell’. I really like showing as much as possible.

You’re approach to dialogue tags already proves that you practice what you preach.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

The final book in the 9 book series ‘The Chronicles of Lorrek‘ just came out! If you haven’t been reading it, here’s the blurb for book 1: Someday I’ll Be Redeemed.

Someday I'll Be Redeemed (The Chronicles of Lorrek Book 1) by [Blanchard, Kelly]

Sorcerer Prince Lorrek discovers he has been wrongfully accused of a heinous crime. He is one of three people who know actually what happened, but one died and the memories of the other have been erased, so now only Lorrek remains. As Lorrek goes to clear his name, the kingdoms around him dissolve into war, but he can’t go home yet to help them. He wants his accuser to admit to the lie, but even that comes at a price. Will paying the cost for his redemption pit Lorrek against his family in the war?

Someday I’ll Be Redeemed is the first book in a fantasy/sci-fi series where medieval magic and high technology strive against one another, mysteries abound, and difficult choices must be made. If you like an unpredictable story, realistic male and female characters, a new take on old familiar tropes, and a tale that is different from any other, you will love Kelly Blanchard’s page-turning series.

If you’re at all interested in reading any of my books, you can find them on Amazon here (they’re free on Kindle limited!).

Check out my website and if you’d like to follow me on social media, there are a lot of places you can find me!

Website | Facebook Page | Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram

Thank you so much for having me! This was fun!

A collage of all 9 book covers from The Chronicles of Lorrek series:
Someday I'll be Redeemed
I Still Have a Soul
I'm Still Alive
Do You Trust Me
You Left Me No Choice
They Must Be Stopped
Find Me If You Can
You're Not Alone
This Ends Now

Creative Couples – Working Together

Some people work with partners. And some people like to work with their romantic partner. But whether you’re romantically involved or not, there’s techniques that could work for you.

At WorldCon2019, Heidi Goody led the working couples of Peter Morwood and Diane Duane, plus Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner in discussing how to maintain working and romantic relationships — with the same person.

Maintain Separate Offices

In rural Ireland, Duane’s office is the living room and Morwood’s is the second bedroom.

When they’re working on a project together, they stay in their room and don’t talk. When it’s time to fraternize or collaborate, they meet in the kitchen.

In New York City, Sherman and Kushner mostly write separately — by hand — in their studies on opposite sides of the apartment. (They left Boston because they were “tired of being the most colorful couple in the room.”) They like to take long walks and discuss character building, writing theory, or whatever they’re working on.

Both couples find it hard to stop talking shop, but Sherman and Kushner find it helps to have other passions.

Duane and Morwood’s biggest interruptions are the neighbor’s loud sheep. Known to the neighbors as “The Trekkie’s”, they’re considered boring because they don’t raise sheep or horses.

How Their Writing Partnerships Began

On Morwood and Duane’s honeymoon, her book was late, so they wrote it together. It helps that Duane is a big outliner, especially for screen. As she says, screen writing is very formulaic.

For Sherman and Kushner, a year or so after they moved in together, they learned to negotiate through writing. But for them, it is the ‘Spirit of Fun!’ Like playing Barbies together.

Sharing Drafts and Blending Portions

Some people consider their drafts sacred, others see theirs as horrible piles of —

Duane never shows her rough draft to another human soul. The next draft though is fine.

Morwood doesn’t count how many drafts he goes through. As he says, “I’m a professional.”

Sherman and Kushner typically have interweaving plotlines, with Kushner woking on the more social scenes, while Sherman works on the academic ones (when they started collaborating, she had just graduated and had scores to settle.)

When writing each other’s characters, the other keeps the veto power. They do their best to keep personal ego out of the story — only really argueing over semicolons.

When it comes time to edit, Sherman reads aloud to Kushner, her bits and the printouts. Although, Sherman is stronger on description, while Kushner does dialogue, when they revise drafts, they overwrite each other. By 5 drafts in it’s fully blended.

Morwood and Duane work together similarly. Plus, they’re pretty good literary mimics. One usually has veto power. Duane is best at plotting and screen writing. Morwood has veto power on fight scenes and tactics.

Just remember when collaborating, there are competing needs for validation, love, and “listen to MY story.”

Music to Collaborate to?

Duane stopped listening to music — it interfered with her dialogue. But movies work fine for her as background.

Kushner used to listen to music, although it couldn’t be in English or had to be something she knew inside and out. Now, she writes at home in silence.

Morwood listens to tons of things, but turns off his Audible when writing dialogue. He likes to have Dragon Naturally Speaking play back his dialogue to him.

Sherman and Duane both like to write in cafes, with that background chatter, gathering faces for characters. If Sherman can’t have that, she needs complete silence.

When deadlines are piling up, Duane will go to a friend’s flat in the middle of no-where-Switzerland for weeks, while Kushner will head off to a friend’s house. The change of location helps with productivity. No chores — or partner — around to distract.

Collaboration can be a tricky beast. Have you worked on a collaborative work? What techniques worked best for you?

Have you worked with a romantic partner? Did it strain your relationship?