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Chatting with Nikki Prince by Jann Ryan

January 2, 2022 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , , , ,

Jann Ryan is taking a much earned break. We’ll be running some of her past interviews while she’s off. Hope you enjoy this chat with Nikki Prince as much as we all did.

Today, I’m happy to be chatting with author, Nikki Prince. Nikki is a mother of two, who always had a dream to be a published author. Her passion lies in raising her children, gaming, reading and writing.  She has two Masters, one in English and the other in Creative Writing concentration in fiction.

Nikki’s a multi-published author with several publishing houses. She loves to write Interracial romances in all genres but wants to let everyone know to not box her in because there is always room for growth.  Nikki believes that love should truly be color blind and for all.

Nikki’s a member of Romance Writers of America National, DARA, and several online chapters.

Author Links

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Bakersfield Romance Writers Links

Facebook Group
Facebook Page
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Twitter 
Website: coming soon


Jann Ryan: Since 2012, you have published seventeen books, earned a BA and MA in English and Creative Writing, active in several Romance Writers of America chapters, moved twice all while raising two wonderful children. Wow—how did you do it all?

Nikki Prince: It’s actually about 25 books and I earned another Masters in Literature during this time frame.  My two teens have been a great help as well as inspiration for me because I want them to know that anything is possible in their life as long as they go for it. 

I went back to school in 2014 and garnered the BA, and two MA’s in a 3-year span and have maintained a 3.9 GPA.  I’ve been wanting to write since I was 11 years old.  I finally made that dream a reality when I turned 43 and realized it is never too late to do what you’ve always wanted to do.  Writing and reading has been a passion for since I first found romance books at age 11.  Before finding my grandmother’s romances, and Johanna Lindsey on my father’s dresser I hated to read. 

Reading helped me in so many ways, you see I had a learning disability.  However, once I found romance books and started reading that all changed for me and the only inkling of a disability that I still have is in math which is another part of the brain.  Reading and writing saved my life in so many ways and knowing that I can bring joy to someone else from reading the worlds and characters that I build is so satisfyingly wonderful.  Another shining part in my writing and real life is belonging to RWA it is a wonderful community where writers of like minds can be together to nurture one another.

Jann Ryan: It’s Complicated debut in April of 2018. A reviewer declared it was a “steamy, intriguing romance.” Another said it was “friends with benefits until it goes sideways.” You have two great characters, Ashton Locke and Keiko Jarrett. For our readers who may not have found this incredible book tell us about it.

Nikki Prince: I’ve had this thought of creating a bunch of friends for who all intents and purposes are the best of girlfriends with great guy friends.  Three sets of friends and the desire to be together and yet there is something holding them back.  Ashton and Keiko’s love story has a few twists along the way to get to the HEA, because everyone deserves a happy ever after.

Jann Ryan: When can we read the next Nikki Prince novel?

Nikki Prince: The last story that I had come out is a short called Blurred Lines, and it came out June 2019.  I am working on edits for the second book in the Undeniable Series with  Áine Reid and Darian Tisdale in a story called “It’s Work” and following that the next story which is Emmerson Collins and Royce Hanson’s story called, “It’s Real.”  Beyond that I have a lot of stories still left in me to write.  Stories that may be paranormal, contemporary and love between the same gender, opposite gender, interracial mix or same racial mix as I believe everyone’s story should be told.

Jann Ryan: Have you ever suffered writer’s block? If so, how did/do you get past it?

Nikki Prince: Indeed, I have.  I know there are some that say that writer’s block is imaginary.  In some ways I think that is true because there is inspiration to write everywhere.  However, there are times when the brain doesn’t want to function and let you put out the stories as you have before.  Because let’s face it, life can be messy it is one of the reasons most of us read romance is because it lets us get out of our own heads, our own lives and for a moment in time live a life of beauty. 

How I get past it is I game (I play World of Warcraft have since 2006), I spend time with my children, Travel somewhere different , read something else and sometimes a nap will rejuvenate the mind and spirit.   When I moved to Dallas last year in 2018 it was hard to get a chance to write and for me that was a block, however if it is in you to write and to create it never goes away so here I am.

Jann Ryan: What are you doing now between writing and life?

Right now I am working on putting together a writing community here in Bakersfield, California.  I knew when I moved here that RWA wasn’t represented here and I want to change that.  So far I have about 7 other people within the group.  I hope to gain more so that I can apply for Bakersfield Romance Writers to be a full chapter of the Romance Writers of America.  I am also in grad school for a third Masters.  This is a Masters in Marketing and Social Media.  I’m taking my time with this MA as I already have two and there is no rush, besides I have plenty of stories within me that I want to share with the world.

Jann Ryan: What’s your writing day like?

My writing day really depends.  Between having two teens in High School, being in grad school and looking for a full-time job here in Bakersfield (I’ve only been here since June), I write wherever and whenever I can.  That has always been the way of it since 2012.  I love writing and creating so I will write at night, in the afternoon, and in the morning.  Whatever it takes to get the stories done, I’ll do it.  One of the ways to do that is I love to do National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo) every November so that I can just immerse myself in my stories for a whole month.


A Few Books by Nikki Prince

#Me Too

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#Me Too

IT’S COMPLICATED

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IT’S COMPLICATED

ON ANGLE’S WINGS

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ON ANGLE’S WINGS

PURE ADRENALINE

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PURE ADRENALINE

SWAGGER

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SWAGGER
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Into the Lair of Paranormal Author, Lisa Kessler

December 2, 2021 by in category Writing tagged as

Lisa Kessler is a Best Selling author of passionate, page-turning paranormal fiction. She’s a two-time San Diego Book Award winner for Best Published Fantasy-Sci-fi-Horror and Best Published Romance. Her books have also won the PRISM award, the Award of Excellence, the National Excellence in Romantic Fiction Award, the Award of Merit from the Holt Medallion, and an International Digital Award for Best Paranormal.

Her short stories have been published in print anthologies and magazines, and her vampire story, Immortal Beloved, was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award.

When she’s not writing, Lisa is a professional vocalist, and has performed with San Diego Opera as well as other musical theater companies in San Diego.

You can learn more at http://Lisa-Kessler.com

Were here today with the fabulous, multi-talented author Lisa Kessler. Her award winning paranormal books have received wonderful reviews and are highly recommended by her readers. Let’s get a look into her lair!!

Jann: When did you decide to be a writer? Why paranormal romance?

Lisa: Music was my first love. I actually performed in operas and musicals and had a few callbacks to sing Disney voices, but I always wrote every night just for fun. During a trip to New Orleans for work, I got a palm reading and at the end, she asked me if I was a writer. I was quick to say no, but then I added that I did enjoy writing, but it was just for fun.

She smiled and told me I was going to be a famous writer someday. I was boggled to say the least, but I also couldn’t stop thinking about it and wondered if I really could write a book… Six months later my first draft of Night Walker was finished! She changed my life that day!

I’ve always written paranormal and horror because those are the genres I love to read.

Jann: A Winters Wish, your holiday fantasy romance novella made its debut in November as a part of the Tinsel, Wings and Fur: A Fae Worlds Holiday Storybook, with authors Linda Thomas-Sundstrom and PJ Mellor and now it’s a solo release with a never-before published epilogue. How did the anthology come about?

Lisa: My friend, Linda Thomas-Sundstrom invited me to be a part of the fae holiday anthology and I was eager to get back into my Summerland Stories so I was happy to team up with Linda and PJ.

Jann: Which character did you develop first in A Winters Wish—Darren Slater or Abriette? Tell us about their story and how they get their HEA?

Lisa: Abriette was first. My previous Summerland Stories novellas featured fae princesses and this time I wanted a warrior. So Abriette is a warrior elf for the Winter Realm. Since it was happening at Christmastime, I figured an elf that crossed the veil would be assumed to be one of Santa’s Elves.

That led me to Darren, a down and out songwriter in Los Angeles. He doesn’t have enough money to make his rent and he’s forced to make some extra money by being a mall Santa.

Seeing him fall for a real elf was magical, and I hope their story brings a little magic into the reader’s holiday season too.

Jann: Your Sedona Pack series is fabulous!! Book 8 in the series, Sedona Sanctuary, came out in October of this year. You write such amazing characters. What major conflicts do you have your leading characters, Miller Sloan and Rayne Lowry work through?

Lisa: Thanks so much! The Sedona Pack series evolved in an unexpected direction. Sedona Sanctuary hadn’t been on the series list, and I hadn’t been planning to give Miller Sloan a book! Book 8 was going to be Sedona Sentinel (Deacon’s book) but in Book 5 (Sedona Sacrifice) Miller Sloan was a side character and during one scene his backstory started to unfold. I realized this retired general had a story to tell. So suddenly I was writing my first silver fox werewolf!

Miller had to work through a lot of self-loathing for his past decisions and his road to redemption was rocky, plus I paired him up with a more free-spirited, newly retired FBI profiler made for lots of sparks and tension. Sedona Sanctuary was really a pleasure to write. I loved giving an older, battered hero a happily ever after!

Jann: How many books do you have planned for the Sedona Pack series?

Lisa: There will be 9 books. I’m working on the final installment, Sedona Salvation, right now. It’ll wrap up the series when it debuts in February 2022.

Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? What? Why?

Lisa: Most of my series involve “found family”. Characters who have been loners or lost or abandoned find a circle of friends who become family. I’m pretty sure I can trace that back to being an “only child”. We lived in the country too, so no playing on a cul-de-sac with friends for me. I spent lots of time playing make-believe all alone and I often imagined being from a large family that would have my back no matter what. I find many of my books carry that theme. Belonging, being loved, and even when they disagree, there’s always someone ready to stand at your side no matter what.

Jann: When did you develop an interest in tarot and oracle cards? I understand that you do readings.

Lisa: I’ve been interested I them since I was a teen, but I didn’t really connect with reading them until about 15 years ago. I’ve been reading tarot professionally for about 8 years. It’s a huge passion for me!

Jann: I see you have an upcoming Tarot for Writers online class available next year. What can you tell us about the class?

Lisa: It’s a four-week online class through zoom on Tuesday nights. I take everyone through all 78 cards with a focus on ways each card could impact characters and scenes. At the end, I share some different card spreads for character building and scenes. The cards work for both plotters and pantsers and you don’t have to know anything about tarot either. It’s very interactive, and inspiring for creative ideas. I love working with writers to teach them to use tarot cards to help them connect with their writer intuition. It brings my two passions together! 😊

You can find out more on my website: http://www.authorlisakessler.com/online-classes-book-coaching/

Jann: Are you still doing your Book Lights podcasts?

Lisa: Yes! Book Lights is live on Mondays at 1pm eastern/10am pacific every week. I get to chat with writers from all genres and backgrounds. You can find the podcast under the Readers Entertainment Radio umbrella on all podcasting sites.

Jann: You’re a professional vocalist. Are you still performing?

Lisa: I am! I actually recorded two audio CDs before I ever got my first book published! I gave up being in operas and musicals once I started signing book contracts. The rehearsal time took too many hours away from writing, but I still had my church job singing every week until the COVID lock down. Since then, things have been virtual, so I haven’t performed live since March of 2020.

Jann: Do you have a website, blog, twitter where fans might read more about you and your books?

Yes! I’m just about everywhere and I love to talk books!

Website – http://Lisa-Kessler.com

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Kessler/e/B003V5RYVO/

Facebook – http://facebook.com/LisaKesslerWriter

Twitter – http://twitter.com/LdyDisney

TikTok – https://vm.tiktok.com/TTPd2F3oLk/

Goodreads – http://goodreads.com/LisaKessler

Instagram – http://instagram.com/LdyDisney

Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/LdyDisney

Author Newsletter – https://goo.gl/56lDla

Follow Me on BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lisa-kessler

Facebook Reader Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/LisaKesslerNightAngels

Jann: What’s your favorite movie?

Lisa: Rocky! It was the first movie I ever saw that the hero didn’t win the battle/fight and it didn’t matter. Going the distance, getting up after being knocked down, that was the message, and I was hooked. Life didn’t have to be a competition. It was the journey. It takes heart and lots of it.

I have a signed movie poster of Rocky in my writing space. The tagline: His whole life was a million-to-one shot… has always reflected how I felt about my writing career. I’m so lucky and so blessed to get to share stories with readers from all over the world. I haven’t hit a list…yet, but someday? I’m definitely going the distance!  Okay I promise no more lines from Rocky… for now!

Lisa, thank you for sharing with us a bit of your world. Wishing you the best for this holiday season!!

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Historical Author Alanna Lucas–Romance, Adventure, and Happily Ever After!!

November 2, 2021 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

Bestselling, award-winning author Alanna Lucas pens Regency-set historicals filled with romance, adventure, and of course, happily ever afters. When she is not daydreaming of her next travel destination, Alanna can be found researching, spending time with family, volunteering, or going for long walks. She makes her home in California with her husband, children, one sweet dog, and hundreds of books.

Just for the record, you can never have too many handbags or books. And travel is a must.

Today the delightful Regency romance author Alanna Lucas is with us. Will be talking about her journey to publication and her latest releases.

Jann: Why did you become a writer?

Alanna: For as long as I can remember, I’ve had stories swirling through my thoughts. It seemed natural to write them down and share HEA’s. The world needs more Happily Ever Afters, right?!

Jann: Tell us about your journey to publication. How many books have you published?

Alanna: My book, Face to Face won a contest wherein I was offered a contract. It was really exciting! Face to Face was the first in a six-book series. I enjoyed my time with my publisher but found self-publishing more fulfilling. I suddenly was in control of who my editor was, cover design, and deadlines (an important detail when you have kids at home). I have self-published eleven books!

Jann: Historical romance readers look for accuracy from the author. What are your favorite sources for research and how much time did you spend on research? Do you research before, while you write a first draft or after?

 Alanna: Gosh, my favorite sources? Where to start… I have the Beau Monde to thank for the wealth of knowledge sitting on my bookshelves. The classes and material they have provided always is a great starting point. I love to research and probably spend way too much time falling down the rabbit hole looking for some tidbit to satisfy my curiosity. Lol!

Jann: The Redemption of Heathcliff, made its debut in January 2021, and How To Steal A Lyon’s Fortune, in April, received wonderful reviews by readers. Do you read reviews?

 Alanna: Thank you! I’ve been so pleased with the reception of both books. I do read some reviews (and try not to let the bad ones get to me). Authors put a lot of themselves into their writing and it’s nice to read that our stories resonate with readers.

Jann: On November 12, A Marchioness for Christmas makes its debut. What major conflicts do your leading characters, Antonia and Dracon, have to work through on the way to their HEA?

Alanna: Communication—or lack of—and family responsibility are things both Antonia and Dracon struggle with. Both have a strong sense of duty that have dictated their actions, and not always in their best interest.

Jann: When starting a new book do you think of character, plot or theme first?

 Alanna: Plot never comes first. Lol! I am a pantser all the way! Usually, the hero and heroine come to me with an idea. I spend a lot of time getting to know them in my head. Each book has its own journal for me to record thoughts and ideas.

Jann: What are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next project?

Alanna: I am working on a new series about three sisters who are gifted with charm, grace, and beauty, who are not only determined to marry for love and make advantageous matches, but plot to assist other ladies of Society to do the same. Let’s just say, they are not your typical debutants.

Jann: You wrote a couple of Historical Westerns. Will you be writing any more in the future?

Alanna: I hope so, but no cowboy hero has rushed into my thoughts lately 😉

Jann: Your book covers are fabulous. Are you the designer?

Alanna: Thank you! I think they’re fabulous, too! I have an amazing cover designer, Dar Albert, who really understands my vision, usually on the first go around.

Jann: What is the one thing you’ve never been asked, but you wish someone would?

 Alanna: This one stumped me a little. I guess… Have you ever acted out any of the scenes in your books? The answer is yes, but I won’t say which ones 😉

Jann: What’s the funniest (or sweetest or best or nicest) thing a fan ever said to you?

Alanna: “You look just like your author picture!”

Jann: You like to travel. Do you have a favorite location that you find yourself going back to? Do you have a bucket list of future destinations?

 Alanna: I LOVE to travel, especially to the Netherlands. I try and go once a year—I have family there and the little ones are getting so big, so fast! I’m always plotting the next travel destination. Next trip (fingers crossed that the world behaves, and travel is possible) is to see the Northern Lights in Norway.

Alanna, it’s been great to spend time with you today. I love reading Regency romances and yours are wonderful. Can’t wait to read A Marchioness for Christmas! You also have  Christmas Kisses, which is part of a Regency Holiday Romance Anthology with ten authors that is available now which I’m reading. Have a wonderful holiday season!!


Books by Alanna Lucas

(Click on the cover for more information. Hover over the cover for buy links.)


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Prolific Mystery Author Emily Brightwell Reveals Her Writing Process

October 2, 2021 by in category Writing tagged as , , , ,

Emily Brightwell was born in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Her family moved to Southern California in 1959 and she grew up in Pasadena. After graduating from California State University at Fullerton, she decided to work her way around the world and took off for England. She didn’t get any further than that because she met the man who would become her husband in Leeds, Yorkshire, married in 1976 in California, and later had two children.

While working in international shipping in Long Beach, she decided to pursue her dream and become a writer—which, of course, is the best job ever. To date, Emily has written over fifty novels in three genres—romance, young Adult and of course, mystery.

Emily lives in Carson City, Nevada and is currently working on “Mrs. Jeffries Aims to Win” the 41st book in the series.

I’m excited to have multi-published author Emily Brightwell here with us today. The 40th novel in her fabulous Mrs. Jeffries Victorian London Mystery Series will make its debut on November 16th!! Mrs. Jeffries and the Midwinter Murders has Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Gerald Witherspoon hot on the path to solve their latest murder case.

Jann: As a multi-published author, is it hard to keep the books fresh and engaging?

Emily: Keeping a long-running series fresh isn’t easy, but it’s loads of fun. I’ve written forty “Mrs. Jeffries” books and I’m currently working on number forty-one. Where does my inspiration come from? It comes from everywhere, from newspapers, books, social media, magazines, and most of all real life. I’m a news junkie and lest you think that the news of today couldn’t possibly provide any insight into how the Victorians lived, loved and murdered, you’d be dead wrong. People haven’t changed.

Whether we live in Victorian England or modern America, we’re driven by the same emotions today as we’ve always been; love, hate, envy, greed, fear, jealousy, obsession. Every emotion they had, we have. When I sit down to write, I pinpoint the underlying emotion that drives my killer and work from there. For example, take the idea of ‘greed’ as a motive for murder. There are hundreds of ways that ‘greed’ can be used in any time period—from a Victorian wife who murders her husband for his money to a tech company billionaire who wronged his original partners so he could have it all.

Jann: What is your writing process and has it changed with all the new writing programs?

Emily: My process hasn’t really changed and I don’t use any of the ‘new writing programs’.  Here’s how I do it. Once I have my motive, I then branch out to other aspects of the manuscript; characters, milieu, sub plots, red herrings, identifying internal as well as external conflicts for everyone, including the killer! As I said, it’s loads of fun and I’ve enjoyed it immensely.

I believe effective writing requires conflict in every scene…you’ll notice I said ‘conflict’ not confrontation. Constant arguing is just tiresome, but conflict, done properly, carries the reader through the scene and leaves them wanting more. Conflict can be argumentative, but the most effective use is to give your characters goals in opposition to one another. For example, Phyllis, Inspector Witherspoon’s housemaid, is saving her wages to open her own detective agency. When she learns that another character, Wiggins, is planning the same thing, there is immediate conflict between them. Phyllis feels someone she trusted has stolen her idea. A typical alpha male’s behavior! She now has a goal in opposition to him—mainly beating him at every turn in the search for information. Wiggins, on the other hand, feels that wanting the same thing would bring them close—as partners. When he realizes it hasn’t and that she’s working extra hard ‘best’ him, he develops his own way of dealing with the situation. It’s a double ‘goals in opposition’ as Wiggins is just a bit in love with Phyllis. Man versus woman—a cliche but it works!

Jann: Do you have any writing rituals? Schedule?

Emily: I often get asked what is the first thing I do before starting work on a new Mrs. Jeffries manuscript? I indulge in the one ritual I’ve had since the beginning. I call it “The Ritual Cleaning of the Office.” Yup, by the time one Mrs. Jeffries book is finished and I’m on to the next one, my desk is covered with notebooks, stacks of paper, piles of research books, sticky notes on every surface and usually cat hair on my chair. But once my office is cleansed, I get to work.

Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? Why?

Emily: Over the years, I’ve experimented with a number of different writing processes and I’ve finally hit upon one that works well for my personality. That’s a process I think every writer has to endure before finding what works for them. Maybe some have the gift of plotting an entire book in their head before page one but I don’t. Anyway, I digress so back to my process, which begins with me coming up with a theme. It isn’t one that you had to write in high school English. It’s something real and personal to you, the author. It can be something simple: the truth always comes to light or old sins have long memories. But it has to be something meaningful to you—a topic that illustrates what you want to tell the world. Before you say ‘but isn’t it just a story?’ Of course, it is. The main function of genre fiction is to entertain your readers, but stories also need to have a point of view about the world you’re creating. A POV that you genuinely believe in and that has some universal validity. But I’m digressing again, let’s get back to my process. After the theme, I do a character list with age, social class, physical description and a motive for wanting the victim dead. This list isn’t written in stone and frequently changes as I work through the manuscript. Then I do my favorite part; the crime-line. This is single spaced, often many pages long and follows the killer from the moment he/she decides to commit murder to the steps he/she takes to do the actual deed. It is an important part of my process and like the character list, can change as I write the book. Once those bits are completed, I dive onto page one, cross my fingers and hope readers will like it.

Jann: Have you ever suffered writer’s block?

Emily: Once I’m in the book, I try to write at least five pages a day—sometimes more, but occasionally, if I’m stuck, less. Yes, I do get stuck sometimes…I don’t know any writer that doesn’t. But I’ve never had a full-blown case of writer’s block (and hopefully never will), so I’m very grateful to be spared that misery. I know writers that have endured the dreaded block and sometimes it takes weeks, months or even years to get back to work. Writing is the best job in the world but there are some days when your characters simply won’t do what you they’re told! That’s when I go for a walk. I love being a writer and I can’t think of any other job that would give me so much joy…except maybe being a zookeeper for penguins. That looks like a great job too.

I love my characters and how they have grown and changed, how they have surprised and astounded me but one day, I want to expand a bit and do some other projects. Okay, I’ll admit to another guilty secret. I have a ‘fun book’. It’s a thriller, a romance, a science fiction saga and totally non-commercial as it doesn’t fit into any marketing or publishing niche. But I write in it every day and it helps me to keep the “Mrs. Jeffries Series” fresh. It lets me stretch as a writer and that’s a good thing (to paraphrase Martha Stewart). I’ve done romance, mystery and teen angst but there are always great ideas and stories out there waiting to be told. I’m hoping to be able to tell some of these tales for a long, long time.

Jann: Emily, thank you for spending time with us here on A Slice of Orange. Congratulations with your 40th book!! What an amazing achievement. Wishing you many more.


MRS. JEFFRIES AND THE MIDWINTER MURDERS
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Author E.J. Williams–Marriage, Mystery and Other Stuff!!

September 2, 2021 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as ,

Published authors, Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger wrote individually until they teamed up and wrote the five book Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series. Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has three in print, plus two short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder, crime and thriller stories. This creative couple has been married for 49 years.

For their new International Crime File series, they are writing as E.J. Williams. The first novel is titled STONE PUB: an Exercise in Deception.

We’re here today with the mystery writing dual who write under the name of E. J. Williams. We’ll be talking about picking it up fresh after a delay, writing as a couple and other stuff.

Janet and Will:

We are a married couple who have written the five book Skylar Drake Mystery Series together and yes…we are still married. After finishing the series, we planned another series of international mystery thrillers. Unfortunately, we’ve had several medical issues occur during 2020-21 for both of us. Hence there was an eighteen-month period where we couldn’t work on our new book. After this long absence in writing we’ve decided to try and “get back into the saddle again.”

Jann: What are the positive and negatives of writing as a couple?

Will:

Positives: collaboration. Having a sounding board for your ideas. Coming up with fresh new ideas (two heads are better than one).

Negatives: Difficult to take a new idea and run with it. You must always check in with co-writer first. A couple’s vision is going to be different than an individual’s vision.

Janet:

I find it wonderful to share the ideas and brainstorming session with someone. Before starting our first book, Slivers of Glass together, we made a rule that we check our egos at the door before we do anything with the book we are writing. The most difficulty we have is trying to schedule meetings around two hectic and existing schedules. We manage but it can be a pain.

Jann: Do you share the editing and publication process for your books.

Will:

Yes. We share both the editing and publication processes for all our books, including cover design and back cover blurbs.

Janet:

We split our “duties” according to our skills. I like to outline and he is a “panster”. So I outline the story, he adds to the outline then we start writing any of our Skylar Drake books. With editing we read the manuscript to each other 3-4 times before sending it to the editor. Regarding publishing, Will is the expert in formatting and publishing so he is in charge of that. I take care of Public Relations.

Jann: What if you hate what you wrote before?

Will:

Personally, I save everything. Even if I can’t stand what I wrote previously, there will always be something in it that can be used in the future. If you are talking about previous works, I don’t shine a spotlight on the ones I don’t like…but someone will like it. Writing is an art and art is subjective. Never apologize for your work. Writing is a creative process and everything will not be a masterpiece.

Janet:

Someone once said, “You can’t edit a blank page”. And I have to admit my first drafts are embarrassing when I read through them. But they are not supposed to be pristine. All writers will tell you writing a book, short story, etc. is a process.

Jann: Do you ever chuck what you did and just start a new project?

Will:

No, but I have begun some short stories or outlines for a novel after a few lines that just did NOT work. Yes. In that case, I crumple up the paper and start over.

Janet:

I have never thrown away anything I have written. If it doesn’t work after two tries, then I remove it from the manuscript and keep it. I can’t tell you how many times I needed scene and looked through my “dump” folder and found the perfect scene.

Jann: How do you keep the excitement alive for an old project?

Will:

As a visual artist, I’ve looked at works I made decades ago and thought…I’ve learned a lot since then. The same goes for writing. A fresh look at an old project can be exciting because NOW you know what to do to make it come alive. I look at old projects as a challenge and that is exciting!

Janet:

It is hard to pick up a project again after an absence, but I look at it as a fresh piece longing to be touched again. I have to admit, I do have an old manuscript, my first, that has been under the bed for eleven years. I probably will not pick up again. I keep it around to remind me to stay on task and finish all project as I write them or as soon as possible.

Jann: Did the story run through your mind even though you were away from it?

Will:

Yes. The story will rattle around in my brain. Especially after all the research I’ve put into something. The story will run through my mind during the time I’m not actively writing it and has even reminded me of some stories I’ve put on hold.

Janet:

The book was always on my mind in many different ways. Being on pain pills my thought meandered away from the outline and I came up with some amazing thoughts. So, I kept in depth notes when I came to. As outlandish some of them were, it helped me think outside the box.

Jann: What advice do you give to author who must take a break from their work or lose their mojo?

Will:

Your work will still be there when whatever caused you to stop has been resolved. Losing your “mojo” could mean writer’s block or a change of focus. Remember why you were writing the piece. Maybe your reasons have changed. Look at this time as a landing spot-–a place to rest your creative mind for a while. Recharge and take a deep breath.

Janet:

Take a break from your writing. When you can’t take a break, join a writers’ group. We had severe writer’s block after eleven books (we write separately and together). For five months we couldn’t get anything down—nothing! Desperate, we joined a writers’ club. That forced us to write something every week. It took about three weeks but suddenly we broke out of it.

Jann: What advice do you have for new authors and returning published authors to the craft after being away for several years?

Will:

Remember that some of the most well-known authors have had to do something else for a while. If you love to write, then getting back in the chair will be like riding a bike. Your writing is your world. You have the opportunity to change anything you want. There is no right or wrong. It’s your creative piece. No one else controls it but you.

Janet:

For new authors, join writers’ clubs, especially in your genre. If not, join several critic groups. After a few weeks of submitting and listening a to their advice. See which one is most helpful. There are critique group and there are critique groups.  for seasoned authors once you start writing again, your “juices” will flow again, I promise. Someone once gave a formula for writing books: Butt + Chair = Books. This formula works!

Jann: What do you like the most about writing?

Will:

Having been trained and spending my career as a visual artist, I found writing fiction to be a creative art, as satisfying as any visual art.  While it can be a solitary endeavor, I like to see a finished project that started out as a blank screen (or sheet of paper.) I get engulfed in my writing. When we decided to write the Skylar Drake mysteries together, I loved being able to go back in time and recreate places and environments. That was a complete hoot!

Janet:

I enjoy the research that goes into each book. The Skylar Drake Mystery Series takes place in 1956, Los Angeles. All books take the reader from LA to another city. Our first book, SLIVERS OF GLASS. Starts in LA and goes to 1956 Santa Rosa. We happened to be in Santa Rosa for a wedding when we decided to have the book take place there. Since we didn’t know the area, I asked people “Where would you dump a dead body?” I was amazed how people were giving us directions and landmarks to good body dumps (we had 5 dead bodies to put some place). As two of the gentlemen were giving us directions, one wife turned to the other and said, “They seem so normal!”

Jann: What is E. J. William’s working on now?

Will:

Janet and I began our work on our long-awaited International Mystery series which takes place in 1962. The first book STONE PUB takes the reader to Ireland. We were finishing the last of the Skylar Drake Mystery series and had to wait to start STONE PUB. We finally got to it but we both faced health issues. We tried to pick it up and work on it periodically but just couldn’t focus. The book is coming along nicely with lots of changes we hadn’t thought of originally

Janet:

We got the idea for an International Mystery series in 2014 after someone said to us, “You guys travel all over the place!” STONE PUB came about three years ago after a visit to Ireland. The country is truly “magical” and really spoke to us. Everywhere we went, ideas floated into our heads, and we found some great body dumps! Since we are now feeling better, and off pain meds we can think clearly. We’re both still in Physical Therapy and doing much better.

Thanks Janet and Will for spending time with us today and sharing your ideas for picking it up fresh after a delay. Can’t wait for Stone Pub to make its debut!!


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