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

Author Spotlight: Eric Hardenbrook

  • a fan, an author and an artist, usually in that order.

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Eric Hardenbrook.

Image may contain: 1 person

Eric lives in central Pennsylvania with his gorgeous wife and daughter. He writes to get the stories out of his head.

When he’s being a fan he helps run Watch The Skies and assists in the publication of their monthly fanzine. He can be found (at least some of the time) at The Pretend Blog.

When not working on those things, Eric enjoys the occasional video or board game and is an old school role player.

Eric, 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?

Ah… pets. I am not a pet person. I have nothing against pets or animals, I am simply not interested in having or dealing with pets.

I don’t freak out, I’m not allergic nor am I scared of pets – I just don’t want one. Yes, I know they’re “cute” or whatever word you’d like to put in there. Yes, I understand the bond that can grow between pets and owners. Yes, I know that statistically people with pets live longer.

I don’t care. I don’t want one.

No, it doesn’t matter how cute they are in your mind. If you’d like to have a pet, good for you. I’m glad you want to have that relationship. I’ll be fine without, thank you very much. Some consider this a short coming on my part, but most accept it and move on.

Being a non pet person DID lead to one of the best compliments I’ve ever had as a writer. It wasn’t phrased like a compliment and I suspect it wasn’t really meant to be one – but I’ll take it. A story of mine came out in Dogs of War as part of the Defending The Future Series from E-spec Books. The stories in the book are about our animal comrades in arms (military science fiction). I was interested in the opinion of somebody who reads a great deal, so I brought my copy of the book to her. She took a few minutes and read the story while I was there. She grinned at a couple of parts. She read it straight through. The part I considered a compliment arrived at the end. She finished the story and said (paraphrasing) “wow, it’s like you really love dogs…”

Most people wouldn’t take that as a compliment, but I write fiction. I like to tell a good story. If you believe it then I have done my job well. The fact that she knows me, knows the fact that I’m not at all interested in animal companions and still thought the story came off like it was written by a true animal lover is all the compliment I needed.

My life is currently petless. It is simpler, if not as happy or as messy.

What do you write and how did you get started?

I write genre fiction. I know that’s a broad statement, but it covers things I think. My published work all falls under military science fiction and fantasy/humor at this point, but I love old fashioned sword and sorcery. I have also dabbled in urban fantasy, but that hasn’t really worked out.

As for getting started… I don’t really remember. I know there are lots of authors out there who will tell you about novels they wrote while in middle school and how many reams of paper they’ve got stashed away in a trunk. That’s not me. I have always loved telling stories, and somewhere along the way I figured out that you could write all those things down. My first story was published in 2006. I’d say I’ve been bumping around trying to make this work for around 20 years now total. I’m sure to be an ‘overnight success’ any minute now.

I hear ya on genre fiction. Growing up, I barely paid attention to the fat there was anything else. I’m so glad you figured out you could write your stories down, along with the rest of your fans!

What do you like to read?

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” and I was off to the races. If it was fantasy I wanted it. I grabbed it and devoured it. In the many years since then I have grown and my reading tastes have changed. I have learned to identify what I like about the stories I enjoy the most, but that’s more about character and structure than genre. These days I read a little of everything. I’ve got a translated horror novel, a comedy, a fantasy and a non-fiction book all in progress right now.

Fantasy’s home for me, too. But, there’s so much out there.

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

Write what you know

First, uh… stuff I ‘know’ isn’t that exciting. I want to believe it is, but my friends and relatives have convinced me that construction specifications are not exiting at all.

Second, who knows about space flight, sorcerer spell casting or alien biology? It’s not possible for you to ‘know’ that.

Third, and I think most importantly, in writing what you know you run the risk of info dumping your thesis paper into your story. I recently read a story where the author essentially lifted a huge amount of historic research and dropped it into the story with the names filed off and replaced for the fantasy setting. It was not fantastic.

Don’t write what you know, write a crazy amazing story!

So true! You can filter in what you know of people and emotions and logic. But, to make your world work and spell out every step in excrutiating detail? It’s really something that’s better hand-waved.

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

Read.

It’s vital. It matters. Look at authors you love and ask yourself how they do what they do. Read your favorite genre. Read outside your genre. Read non-fiction… just READ. The more exposure you have to the written word the more your mind will expand, filling your imagination with all sorts of amazing cross sectional material.

Indubitably. It’s the rare writer indeed who didn’t start off as a reader. It’s our first love. Many of us write simply to find out how this story in our head ends, since no one else can tell us. When it comes to reading myself, I’ve taken a step back from writing every spare second, and started tackling my massive to-read pile. It’s not just aspirational.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

In fact, I know a cool thing you can read! My latest short story is going to be published in the final edition of The Realm Beyond from Fortress Publishing. I also am thrilled to have a story in In Harm’s Way – more military science fiction from E-spec Books. There are some great stories out there.

If you’re into fan based stuff, you should also check out Watch The Skies. We publish a fanzine (for real – we’re Hugo eligible) every month other than December and we’re always looking for contributors.

Author Spotlight: R.J. Garcia

  • a writer, wallflower, and Hufflepuff, who wants a re-do at the sorting hat. She is a wife and proud mom, too.

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to R.J. Garcia.

R.J. Garcia earned her MSW and worked with foster kids, and the geriatric population. Writing has been her other great love.  Although faced with the challenge of dyslexia, she is publishing her second novel, The Call of Death with The Parliament House.

R.J., 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?

In that case, why not go big. An elephant. I loved Rosie from Water from Elephants. I wouldn’t really want to keep a majestic animal like that as a pet, but it would be awesome to have her stop by and hang out and bond with her. They are such loyal and intelligent animals. In real life I collect some elephant figurines.

If I was going to choose a fantasy pet, I’d choose Hedwig, Harry Potter’s lovable snowy owl.

Both are excellent choices! You’re not the first to dream of an elephant. I’m sure you’d have a momma certain it can still curl up in your lap. And an owl-friend/companion would be so lovely.

What do you write and how did you get started?

I had a love/hate relationship with reading because it was a struggle for me as a kid. Yet I loved the covers and longed to escape in books. I remember reading The Outsiders by SE Hinton in the 8th grade. It was the first book that I completely fell into. I started reading all kind of books and loved how the protagonist didn’t quite fit in like me. It was like I found my people. After I was also writing short stories on cheap notebook paper. I have written stories ever since.

Oh wow! You really had to struggle to get into something that so many of us take for granted. Fortunately for all of us, and all your fans (present and future), you knew your passion and persevered despite your challenges!

What do you like to read?

I love to read suspenseful books and coming of age stories. Some horror reads and  YA, too. My Heart and other Black Holes was an incredible story. I also like to dive into some fantasy. I love the Harry Potter series and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I don’t read romance as a genre but need to have a little romance in the books I read, or a strong friendship to fully get into it. I love to discover some great Indie books from small publishers, or self-published reads sometimes. 

That’s a lot of what I enjoy (although, I sometimes do full-on romances), so now I’m adding a book or two to my to read pile.

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

Outline

A physical outline doesn’t work for me. I like to have a fluid outline in my brain. If it is written down, I feel more pressured.

Ah… so you’re a plantser, like me! A light outline, almost more in my head, and the willingness to ignore it to get the story out. #plantsersForLife

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

Use beta-readers.

Beta readers are so important. I need someone to read my stories and always benefit from constructive input. Shout out to my teenage daughter, Sabrina, brother Kevin and fellow writer, Christine Dwivedi who read  everything I write.

Definitely! Having a second set of eyes (or third) to let you know that the story is coming across the way you intended. To ask all the details that you thought you’d put in. All of that is crucial for a writer.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

My debut novel, Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced is available wherever books are sold. I have a short story about The Axeman of New Orleans in a horror anthology titled, Masks from Filles Vertes Publishing. It will be released in time for Mardi Gras. I’m excited to announce that my new novel, The Call of Death hit shelves today.

Fourteen-year-old Hannah Priestly crashes into a terrifying future. She wakes up in her dorm room now knowing the name of an infamous serial killer, Norman Biggs. He will attack her in the future unless she and her three male friends can change fate.

Hannah is a suntanned, obsessive-compulsive California girl dropped off at an English boarding school by her celebrity mother. Hannah has difficulty understanding algebra, let alone her increasingly dark visions. Rory Veer is Hannah’s smart, easy-going and romantically challenged friend and school crush. When Norman Biggs unexpectedly appears in Rory’s reality, terror is set in motion. It is Rory who must acknowledge a past he has denied if the mystery is to be unraveled.

Pick up your copy today:
Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | Apple

Author Spotlight: Mari Tishner

  • Writer * Expat * Pug Owner

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Mari Tishner.

Mari lives in southern Germany with her husband and pug, where she regales others of her adventures as an expat in the Land of Beer and Pretzels on her blog and youtube channel Adventures of La Mari.com. The God Queen is her first novel.

Mari, 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?

Hands down a raccoon. I have wanted one ever since I saw Pocahontas when it came out (I was about 9 at the time). Meeko was the coolest! Although I do own a pug, after falling in love with Percy from the same movie. But my inner nine-year-old still wants a raccoon. They are not native to Germany so you don’t see them often so I have had to resort to following Pumpkin the Raccoon on Instagram

Awww! What a cute choice. I hope they’re as snuggly in person as they are in your dreams.

What do you write and how did you get started?

At the moment, I write sci fi – but I do have plans for a contemporary story based on my experiences as an American living in Germany, which I would like to probably have traditionally published.

I got started very young. I love stories. I have notebooks that I filled with scribbles even before I really knew how to write because I always loved the ideas of having a book filled with my words. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher would bring in 4th graders once a week to help us with writing. It was my favorite thing to do because I had all these stories in my head but I didn’t know how to write it out! I have always had an overactive imagination and being able to write helps me bring these stories and worlds to life. 

While I was still honing my debut novel, I kept my writing up by maintaining my expat blog. It was also a way for my family to keep with up my adventures in Germany, but also forced me to keep a schedule, even if I wasn’t working on my novel – I was always writing!

It seems a lot of writers have been dreaming about it since they were young. It’s great to see your dream coming true! I know from experience that keeping a blog and finishing a novel can be a real struggle. Congrats!

What do you like to read?

Fantasy and Sci Fi all the way! I love one with a good (and healthy) romance. I will literally read anything by Sarah J. Maas and Tamora Pierce. Books that I have reread so many times that I have lost count: A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, The Song of the Lioness Quartet and Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce, The Symphony of Ages of Elizabeth Haydon, Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, and the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.

Oooh! You’re listing a lot of writers on my list, ones that I’d use as near-comps for my own work-in-progress. I’m taking that as an indication that your novel is going to be Right Up My Alley! What a great selection.

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

Write what you know.

I write sci fi and while I do have a science background (biology degree + 9 years as a microbiologist), I can’t tell you the exact reason why faster-than-light is impossible – but I know there are ways around it that can be explained to a non-scientifically inclined person. I don’t what it’s like to fly in a ship and I was never in the military so I am also a bit at a loss when writing about it. So I have to research – thank goodness for the internet!

While I do use this advice where I can, I know it can’t apply to everything. If I did write what I know, I would only write about being Peruvian American living in Germany with her pug….wait I already do that!

So true! Especially for science-fiction and fantasy, we have to think outside the box to write. Luckily, we do know people — we know ourselves. And, I think, the most important part is to have our humanity bleed through into our writing.

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

Keep writing. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time.

Keep writing. Don’t stop. Don’t worry about it being perfect the first time, it won’t be. In the words of Stephen King: “Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.

Indeed. Persistence is the name of the game, more than anything else in the writing world. And you’ve done it!

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

My debut novel, The God Queen, was released on October 22!

The return of the God Queen is not what everyone hoped…

The God Queen (Rebirth Book 1) by [Tishner, M. L.]

Humans have long since spread their numbers among the stars. Now far, far into the future, war has torn the Tyre Star Cluster into two major political factions. The militant Dominion have gained the upper hand in the last decade when their champion murdered the hope of the progressive Federation: Niklaryn Ettowa. Some considered the war to be almost won.

Yet there are those who claim the war will not be ended by mortals…but by the rebirth of the gods.

Rei lived most of her life bartending on one Earth’s backwater towns. She daydreams of something more, traveling the stars, and destroying the man who murdered her brother Niklaryn. Her dream is within her grasp only if she accepts her fate as the God Queen.

Bronx is disillusioned with being a reincarnated god, let alone a reaper. He pays his penance by keeping people at a distance and taking up the mantle of a combat medic. When the sister of his old mentor Niklaryn storms in to join the cause will he find something worth fighting for?

Together with others, they must help the Federation tip the scales in their favor, but everyone seems to have their own plans for what the gods should do.

Jupiter Ascending meets X-Men in this epic New Adult space opera bursting with star-crossed romance, elemental magic, and an adventure across the star cluster, perfect for fans of A Spark of White Fire.

Here’s a sneak peek!

If you want to read more about TGQ, check out my website: http://mltishner.com

If you want to read about my adventures in Germany, check out: http//adventuresoflamari.com