Monday, January 15, 2018

FAOM: An Author INTERVIEW Part 1 - Life & Writing

Life as a writer, an author?

I certainly class myself as a writer and though I’m working toward it, I can’t yet call myself an author – at least not a published one. I don’t know about other aspiring authors out there but I constantly find myself wondering whether, or more accurately how my life differs or is the same as the authors whose work I read. So every time I’m in the position of chatting with an author about being an author I inevitably ask the basics, the every day, and how they ended up at the point they’re at.

This month I feel I’m in a particularly intriguing position of being able to talk with an author who is brand new to the title of “published author” and so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to really look at the difference between where she is and where I feel I am. Fortunately for me, January's Featured Author of the Month Kelly Lyman is a great sport and devoted a good bit of time to really thinking about my questions, coming up with insightful answers, and more. (I'll tell you a little about the more at the end of this post!)

Today we talk about the simple but extremely complex part – the writing

[italicized = LDF // regular = Kelly Lyman]

Why (or how) did you decide to be a writer?

Well, I sort-of fell into it. It was after the birth of my second baby and I was feeling frustrated. I needed a creative outlet (I’ve always been a creative person, though all through my childhood/teenage years it was with music and dance). I had had this story twirling around inside my head and told my girlfriend about it. “Well, write it down,” she said, in which I replied, “I have no clue how to even begin.” She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “It doesn’t matter. Just start. Just write the damn the story.” So, I did.

When you started writing what was your goal?

My goal was simple. To write a story for myself to prove I could do. I needed to find a creative release as I was knee deep in diapers, bottles, and baby toys.

What does a typical writing day look like for you?

Oh goodness. It totally depends on the day! I have four kids so their needs come first and my youngest is still home in the morning as our school district has half-day kindergarten. That being said, I do try to write in the afternoon after I take her school, however, that is also when I catch up on email, social media, etc. So, I’d say generally speaking, I typically start writing around 1:30pm and finish around 3:30pm.

Do you write every day? Do you have a daily goal when writing?

Nope. Four kids, remember! I don’t write on weekends unless I’m on a deadline. And I don’t have a daily goal. I have a weekly goal (finish a scene or chapter by the end of the week). There are some days where I’m able to bang out a ton of words and impress myself. There are other days where I write one sentence because the words just aren’t coming. There is also a lot of research involved since I write historical romance, so it takes me a bit longer because I’m trying to be as accurate as possible.

Do you listen to music while you’re writing? Do you make/use playlists to help keep you inspired or focused on the story or scenes you’re writing?

Yes! Sometimes I listen to music while writing and other times I listen to music before I write. It just depends. When writing action, I listen to music. However, the softer scenes, or the romance scenes, I tend to listen to music before I sit down. I have a playlist on Pandora that helps me “set the mood.”

Do you have a process you have to follow, items you have to have with you, or other “superstitious” or good luck type of things that help you while writing?

Not really, no. The only thing I always have near me is my diffuser that I put essential oils in. They help me focus and just make the room smell nice!

When you’re writing do you drink coffee, tea, water, soda, wine?

On the off chance I’m writing in the morning, I’ll drink coffee. In the afternoon, I’ll drink either tea (peppermint or thieves), or water. Every once in a while I’ll drink wine though that is only at night.


Every time I do one of these interviews I look at the responses and I think “that’s what I do” or sometimes it’s a “that’s my life” kind of reaction. Other times I’ll see what an author has said and think “man, I couldn’t do it that way!” More often than not I realize how similar my daily routine is to the authors I talk to. I discover that their initial motivations for writing were essentially the same as mine.

I suppose I could be philosophical about it and say that it’s simply we’re all human and we’re all trying to do the same thing – which is absolutely true. But each and every one of us writers and authors has our own quirks. It’s those things that I love to learn about others because I know that mine are there and, I guess, I can’t help but be fascinated.


As you may have noticed this interview is denoted as a segment – Part 1 – of the whole. Part 2 will be posted next Monday, and a special, sort of, Part 3 will come later in the week when Kelly shares with us in her own words what releasing a (debut) novel entailed for her. Keep your eyes peeled for those posts and in the meanwhile… 

Have you entered the January FAOM Giveaway yet? Don’t sweat it, click here and enter today!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

REVIEW: Hawk's Spell by Sonia Taylor Brock

One thing I love about reading is how I can open up a book and disappear to another world, visit a different country, experience another time, a new culture, and meet whole hosts of new people. I can be anyone. It is an escape from the daily grind. It is a vacation without ever having to walk out my front door. Some days, it is everything.

Now, I mentioned new places and cultures... right? And new people?

I have never physically been to Louisiana. I’ve read a lot, and I do mean quite a few books that are set in Louisiana, and in the bayou too. But not one of them has made me feel quite so immersed in bayou-life or people as the books of The Swamp Witch series have. So today I’m going to take a few minutes and talk about the third book (or fourth depending on how you’re counting) in that series.

Hawk’s Spell
by Sonia Taylor Brock

The first thing you need to know about this book is that you really do need to read the previous books in the series to be able to pick up and understand this story. I really feel that without the “back story” from The Inheritance of a Swamp Witch and A Witch’s Welcome, you simply can’t follow the vast array of characters and the threads of stories that are being told.

The second thing that you need to know is that the writing style of this book, and the whole series, is quite different from anything you will have ever likely seen before. Certainly, I have never read anything quite like it. It’s not just the perspective or point-of-view that’s different, though it is, but the writing style (it’s almost but not really like reading a newspaper report) and the language too. The author writes much of the dialogue phonetically so that as you read you hear in your mind the Cajun Patois – that signature Cajun accent and dialect when the character is speaking Cajun. It honestly adds so much color to the story and gives simple depth to the characters themselves.

Now on to the story itself... I was intrigued by Hawk, or Robert Brown-Wing Eschte, right off. The Thunder-Hawk is of a mythos you don’t, or I haven’t, seen a lot of before, and I was honestly interested in finding out how the author would build and develop his character. An fascinating prospect at any time but most especially at a point when everything in his life is tossed into chaos. There is a certain something, and I still haven’t figured out exactly what it is, that made Hawk stand out in my mind amongst all the characters of the series and this book. And it wasn’t just because he turns into a bi-plane sized hawk either. (eek, spoiler, #sorrynotsorry! LOL!)

In a very real sense, Hawk’s Spell is about this bird-man, and his family, dealing with a deep personal loss. Individually they all need to learn how to cope with that loss and also how to move on from it. But as you may expect, within the world of The Swamp Witch nothing is as straight-forward, nor as simple or as complex as you’d think. In that realm, loss is not always a loss, and there can be an extremely fine line between life and death.

Learning more about Hawk’s history and following along with his struggles with grief, and the long road to acceptance he must traverse, made Hawk’s Spell a truly moving story to read. It had moments that made me laugh out loud at the humor but, most importantly in my opinion, it touched my heart. Much as the other books in the series also managed to include many aspects of fancy, intrigue, myth, and madness, Hawk’s story had just enough of everything to keep me hooked from beginning to end.

If you’re looking for a series to read, especially if you’re open to the various differences that make this particular series special, then I wholeheartedly recommend the books of The Swamp Witch series.

In the meantime, I’ll be patiently waiting for Jean Lafitte’s story which, as mentioned yesterday in Sonia’s author interview, is slated for release this Spring (2018).


And don’t forget friends & readers -  enter to win all 4 of the books currently available in The Swamp Witch series (in paperback) and some lucky swag from the author. The contest is only open until midnight January 18th, with the winner being announced on Friday January 19th.

Good Luck and Happy Reading!!!

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