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Jill Piscitello–One very talented Author!!

August 2, 2023 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as ,

Jill Piscitello is a teacher with a passion for writing and an avid fan of multiple literary genres. Although she divides her reading hours among several books at a time, a lighthearted story offering an escape from the real world can always be found on her nightstand.

A native of New England, Jill lives with her family and three well-loved cats. When not planning lessons or reading and writing, she can be found spending time with her family, traveling, and going on light hikes. Jill loves to try out new restaurants, but if truth be told, she will order a chicken Caesar salad wrap whenever possible.

I’m delighted to be talking with multi-talented author Jill Piscitello. Today she is going to share with us a bit about her writing life and her new release.

Jann: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Jill: I enjoyed crafting stories as soon as I learned how to read. But it wasn’t until middle school that I considered the possibility of writing as a career. From a very young age, I had the voice of practicality ringing in my ears and went off in search of job choices more likely to pay the bills. Although writing still happened regularly, my first queries weren’t sent until I was well into my 40s.

Jann: What is your favorite genre to write? Tell us a little about your journey to publication.

Jill: Cozy mystery is my favorite genre to write. These books lend themselves well to series and allow me to follow a charming cast of characters as they develop over time. My first two published books were sweet, holiday romances. I love everything about Christmas and had so much fun writing both stories. Then I realized that a cozy mystery would allow me the best of both worlds in the form of a whodunit with a dash of romance.

Jill: Do you have to research a lot before you start writing your novels?

Jill: Research is key for so many pieces of every story. Pouring through resources is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. How to use the information is its own skill. For example, as a fiction reader, I’m not looking for a history lesson but want to feel like I’ve been dropped into a world set in during a specific time period.

Jann: How important is setting, theme and plot in your stories? Which one comes first when you start to write.

Jill: I suppose the answer to this question depends on the story. Setting plays a huge role in the beginning. I love writing about beautiful places. The theme usually presents itself right away, but the plot is a work in progress until the final page is written.

Jann: June 26, 2023, A Sour Note made its debut. What challenges did you set for your main character Maeve Cleary?

Jill: Maeve is a risk taker plagued by anxiety when things don’t go according to plan. She is learning to accept the highs and lows as learning curves, not mistakes. What’s life without a few risks? After quitting her job with zero prospects in sight and a shattered engagement, she returns to her childhood home. The discovery of a corpse, frivolous accusations, and navigating unsolicited advice from her type A mother and a clairvoyant cousin provide a welcome diversion from her upended personal life.

Jann: Where did the inspiration come from for A Sour Note?

Jill: My family and I vacation in Hampton Beach, NH every summer. A few years ago, I was walking along a stretch of beach with a view of the ocean and some stunning beach homes and realized how perfect the location was for my cozy mystery. Next, I needed to figure out a unique profession for my sleuth that would allow her the time needed to solve a mystery. When I heard about a local business offering music lessons and year-round performance opportunities, a rush of plot ideas revolving around various venues took shape.

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

Jill: I’m currently working on the sequel to A Sour Note. The setting will remain in Hampton Beach, NH, but the new story will take place during the fall. I’m looking forward to experiencing the beach town outside the tourist season.

Jann: Where can we get your books?


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







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Jann: What’s your favorite movie?

Jill: I adore It’s a Wonderful Life. The timeless message of everyone’s individual importance in this world, the close-knit community, and the cast warm my heart year after year. And I’ll opt for the black and white version every time.

Thanks Jill for sharing with us today. Good Luck with A Sour Note and I will be looking forward to the sequel. Happy Summer!!


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Glynnis Campbell—Author of Historical Romance & High Adventure

May 2, 2023 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , ,

Glynnis Campbell is a USA Today bestselling author of swashbuckling “medieval action-adventure romances,” mostly set in Scotland, with over two dozen books published in six languages. She loves to play medieval matchmaker, transporting readers to a place where the bold heroes have endearing flaws, the women are stronger than they look, the land is lush and untamed, and chivalry is alive and well!

Today we have the marvelous historical author Glynnis Campbell. We are going to chat about her latest medieval Scottish action-packed romance. Her stories will definitely keep you up all night!!

Jann: When you started your career, did you choose to write historical romance fiction or did the l genre choose you?

Glynnis: My interest in all things medieval started when I was a little girl, listening to my dad’s swashbuckling tales of King Arthur and Robin Hood. When I read my first historical romance, The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss, I was drawn once again into the world of knights and castles and noble deeds. So I think it was a mutual attraction!

Jann: Tell us about your writing career? When it all began and why historical fiction.

Glynnis: I started writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. My first works were poems, and I created a sort of medieval graphic novel when I was 12. At 16, after reading my first historical romance, I dabbled with writing my own, which eventually grew into a trilogy, The Knights of de Ware. I didn’t really think about publishing them until much later, and I sold them when I was 40.

Jann: Historical readers look for accuracy from the author. Do you have to research as much now as you did in the beginning of your career for each book?

Glynnis: I spent years doing research about medieval life, so by the time I started writing seriously, I had an easy job of world-building. I still do a lot of research on particular topics, because I like to change up characters’ professions and pastimes, and it keeps the writing fresh for me. But since I’m currently writing series books with spinoffs, the world is consistent and requires less time on research.

Jann: Your new trilogy, The Warrior Lairds of Rivenloch, makes its debut on May 2nd with book one—The Laird of Steel. How exciting. What inspired you to write this new trilogy?

Glynnis: My most popular trilogy is The Warrior Maids of Rivenloch. Even though I’ve branched out into other time periods and settings, Rivenloch remains a favorite for both me and my readers. I’ve already written a trilogy of The Warrior Daughters of Rivenloch, and in Book 3, Bride of Mist, we meet young Gellir and Merraid, who have become the hero and heroine of Laird of Steel, Book 1 of The Warrior Lairds of Rivenloch trilogy.

Jann: Your books are filled with action and romance, bold heroes and daring heroines. What adventures and conflicts do your main characters, “Grim Gellir” Cameliard of Rivenloch and Merraid of Darragh have to face? Would you share with us what their journey is about?

Glynnis: As the son of a laird and possibly the greatest warrior in all Scotland, “Grim Gellir” Cameliard of Rivenloch lives for chivalry and assumes his wife will be chosen for him by the king. But when the king becomes friendly with the enemy, threatening to wed Gellir to a Sassenach, his loyalty is challenged. Can he find a Scottish bride before the king seals his fate?

Maidservant Merraid of Darragh has loved Gellir since she was a girl and has molded herself into the kind of warrior lass she thinks he wants in a wife. When she’s old enough to realize he could never wed a commoner, she gives up that dream. But she can’t bear to think of him in a loveless marriage, so she offers her services as his matchmaker. Of course, no one adores and respects Gellir as much as Merraid does, which leads them into a forbidden friends-to-lovers romance.

Their hidden passions eventually entangle them in a perilous royal conflict involving a runaway bride, a handcuffed bridegroom, a false confession, a clever disguise, a secret pregnancy, a road trip to Perth, and a sword fight in a real Highland uprising against the crown. When they have everything to lose, how will they choose between duty and desire?

Jann: Which character has the bigger arc? Why?

Glynnis: Merraid changes the most during the story. She begins as a humble maidservant with a crush on the heroic Gellir. Motivated by that affection, she trains to become like the other women in his clan—empowered, educated, and self-sufficient. After she realizes Gellir is out of her reach, she knows she must temper her love. In the end, it’s her growth as a fearless and loyal friend that turns her into a deserving heroine.

Jann: I see that Laird of Flint and Laird of Smoke are on the horizon. Can you give us a sneak peek? Is it possible that you might expand with additional books about The Warrior Lairds of Rivenloch?

Glynnis: I’ve already made a pretty big family tree, so there are more trilogies to come! Laird of Flint continues the thread of a story begun in Laird of Steel and follows the adventures of Gellir’s cousin, Hew du Lac. The hero of Laird of Smoke, Adam la Nuit, is another Rivenloch cousin who makes an appearance in Laird of Steel.

Jann: What do you want readers to come away with after reading your books?

Glynnis: I’d love for readers to feel they’ve been swept away in a romantic adventure, happily exhausted, yet eager for the next one to begin. I hope they feel like part of the Rivenloch clan!

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

Glynnis: I think my favorite theme is something along the lines of “don’t judge a book by its cover” + “all men are created equal.” I like characters who are stronger/funnier/smarter than they look, and it’s especially enjoyable when they’re female. I also like to shine a light on the idea that even in a time period of stratified social status, a maidservant was just as worthy, just as deserving of respect, and just as human as a king.

Jann: Are there any words of inspiration on your computer, in your office or in your mind when you write? 

Glynnis: I choose a new word of inspiration each year, and oftentimes I invent them! This year’s word is “Rejoyvenation,” which I have on a Post-It note above my desk. After a few rough years of lockdown and trying to write while the world was on fire, it’s a reminder to me to let go of deadline pressure and roadblocks and rediscover the joy of writing.

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

Glynnis: I was doing a book signing years ago, and I saw a young woman hugging my book to her chest, but sort of hanging back, as if she were afraid to come up to the table. I invited her forward, and her voice shook as she said, “You’re my favorite author. It’s an honor to meet you. Your books mean so much to me. Thank you for writing them.” As I was signing her book, I smiled and said, “Of course. It’s my pleasure. And what do YOU do for a living?” She replied, “I’m an ER nurse.” I dropped my pen and said, “You mean, while I’m writing stories, you’re out there saving lives? No, it’s MY honor to meet YOU.” I will never forget how meaningful that moment was—reminding me of who the REAL celebrities are.

Glynnis, thank you for sharing with us today. I totally agree with the young woman’s comment above, “thank you for writing them.” Your books bring enjoyment to so many readers. I’ve already ordered my copy of The Laird of Steel. The book cover is fabulous!! Best of luck with this new trilogy.

Visit Glynnis

Order Laird of Steel Today

“Grim Gellir” Cameliard of Rivenloch lives for glory on the tournament field, and he may be the greatest warrior in all Scotland. As the son of a laird, he assumes his bride will be chosen for him as chivalry demands, and he doesn’t expect it to be a love match. But when the king threatens to wed him to the enemy, he is forced to question his loyalty and desperate to find a Scottish wife.

Merraid of Darragh, a spirited sword-wielding maidservant from Gellir’s past, can’t bear to see her childhood hero doomed to a loveless marriage, so she intervenes as his matchmaker. When none of the prospects seem worthy of him, she unwittingly finds herself swept up in a friends-to-lovers romance and a battle for his heart, and Gellir faces the one intrepid warrior he may not be able to conquer.

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Author Laura Drake Debuts her new Women’s Fiction Amazing Gracie!!

April 2, 2023 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

Laura Drake is a New York published and self-published author of Women’s Fiction and Romance. Her debut, The Sweet Spot, won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She’s since published 13 more books. She is a founding member of Women’s Fiction Writers Assn. and Writers in the Storm blog.

Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

Today I have the privilege of doing a Q&A with author and friend Laura Drake. She’s an award-winning author of Romance and Women’s Fiction. Her books will hook you from the first page and take you on a heartfelt and emotional ride.

Jann: You have published books in several genres—small town romance, Western Romance, and Women’s Fiction. When you start to write, do you approach a small town romance differently than a Women’s Fiction?

Laura: Very differently. In romance, the focus is ultimately on the couple, and their story. In Women’s Fiction, the story is about a woman’s emotional journey. I love romance, but I’m reveling in the freedom of Women’s Fiction! A double-edged sword I didn’t know until I tackled it—I didn’t realize how much I relied on the structure of romance (tropes, etc). There are no walls in WF, which is freeing, but also, harder!

Jann: You have tackled some heavy issues in your books. Is there any subject you don’t want to write about?

Laura: Wow, interesting question—I never thought about that. The idea I’m playing with now involves a serial killer, so . . . I’d have to say the answer is no! 😉

Jann: This month on the 25th, Amazing Gracie makes its debut. What challenges and conflicts do your characters CJ and Mazey have to overcome?

Jann: If you’ve ever read one of my books, you know there are a LOT! CJ is an Army vet who is returning from the desert with a ton of guilt, having been partially responsible for her friend’s deaths. They were planning a cross-country motorcycle ride together, which has now become a Memorial ride.

Mazey, her half-sister, is nine, precocious, but very innocent. CJ takes Mazey on the trip with her to rescue her from the attentions of her mother’s boyfriend. Mazey highjacks the ride to search for the father she’s never met.

There’s more, but you’ll have to read to find out!

Jann: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Amazing Gracie?

Laura: Respect for those who serve, and empathy for the fact that they don’t always leave war behind when they come home. Also, for anyone who is struggling with guilt, no matter how grievous—to know that you can heal.

Jann: Have you ever had your characters take you in a different direction while writing the story?

Laura: Not really, but only because I don’t have a plan to begin with. I’m an almost total pantser. I start with a character, a flaw, and throw them into a situation and see where it takes us.

Jann: You have a collection of amazing characters in your books. Charla Rae in The Sweet Spot, Jacqueline Oliver in The Road to Me and Samantha Crozer in Her Road Home. Are there parts of yourself in your characters?

Laura: Every single one. I aspire to being Nellie; the outrageous octogenarian hippie with a storied past. I want to be the grandma you shudder to take out to eat, because you never know what she’ll say!

Jann: Has your writing process changed since your first book, The Sweet Spot, which sold in 2013 and won the 2014 Romance Writers of America RITA for Best First Book ?

Laura: Not much – I thought when I began, I’d be as organized as I am in the rest of my life. I actually enjoy outlining! But I tried that, and by the time I got done, I was bored, and couldn’t write the story – because I already knew what happened!

Jann: What are you working on now? Can you tell us about it?

Laura: Just starting another Women’s Fiction, about the wife of a serial killer. I’ve always been fascinated by stories of men’s secret lives, and the poor women who had no idea….

Jann: Do you have any writing rituals? Schedule?

Laura: Oh yes—that’s the organized part of me. I get up at 3 am (yes, every day), do social media until I get enough coffee onboard to think, then begin my writing day by reading over what I’ve written the day before, then write new pages. I’m usually in my office doing writing related things (I teach, marketing, etc) until I have to start dinner. I only write about 500 words a day, but I write every day, so they add up.

 Jann: Do you ever run out of ideas? If so, how did you get past that?

Laura: This is a worry for me. I envy those writers who have a folder full of story ideas they’re dying to get to. I only get one idea at a time, and since I don’t know where ideas come from, I’m terrified that each idea will be my last! Hey, we’re all neurotic here, right?

Jann: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Laura: Oh wow, THIS could fill a book the choices are many: skydiving, riding a motorcycle over 200k miles, marrying a guy after knowing him less than a week (do not recommend), rappelling off a 20-story building at 63…

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

Laura: My husband is a fan, right? I was in the driveway, washing my car, and he asked why. I told him I got to pick up DEBBIE MACCOMBER (yes, I said it just like that) and take her to speak at one of our meetings. He said, ‘Someday, some aspiring writer is going wash her car, because she’s picking up LAURA DRAKE. He doesn’t say sweet things often, but when he does, they’re memorable.

Laura, my friend, thank you for spending time with us here on A Slice of Orange. I believe you have another fantastic book that will reach the heart of the reader. Best of luck with Amazing Gracie!!






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Author Chrysteen Braun talks about The Guest Book Trilogy!!

March 2, 2023 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as ,

Chrysteen Braun is a California native, born and raised in Long Beach. The mountains, where she and her husband had a second home, were the inspiration for her first three books, The Guest House Trilogy. These fictional restored cabins from the late 1920s all had their own stories to tell. Her writing crosses genres of Women’s Fiction with relationships, and a little mystery and intrigue. She’s published articles about her field of interior design and remodeling, both for trade publications and her local newspaper. She lives in Coto de Caza, with her husband Larry and two Siamese cats.

Contact her at, or

Today I have the pleasure to chat with the amazing Chrysteen Braun, author of The Guest Book Trilogy.

Jann: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Chrysteen: I think every author “always knew” they wanted to be a writer. I was around twelve when I wrote my first book. I have no idea what it was about, or where it ended up, but I do recall being so proud of myself. I actually knew how to type at that age since my parents worked from home and I learned to type and use a 10 key adding machine. Did I just date myself? I joined a writer’s group in the 80s and then got sidetracked with business, so I wasn’t able to write much more than newspaper articles about decorating. Our business was remodeling and interior design. It wasn’t until I retired that I decided I only had so many summers left, and if I wanted to write my novel(s) I’d have to get on the ball.

Jann: Was your journey to publication easy? Tell us about it.

Chrysteen: I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I was going to write; I knew I didn’t want to write romance, but I also wasn’t a mystery writer, so I had to figure out how to combine the two. Then I had to decide whether to publish traditionally or go indie. I listened to a lot of seminars and webinars about everything writing related, and honestly got so overwhelmed, I had a difficult time figuring it all out. Then, I wrote the first drafts of five novels while they were fresh on my mind. That threw me into another state of overwhelm, along with Covid-19, and I knew if I didn’t make some decisions, I’d never get anywhere. I decided to jump into indie publishing, and began editing the first book, which is the first in the Guest Book Trilogy. Three years later, I’ve published two books, am working on the third, but have gotten sidetracked with a sequel novella, and a prequel novella, (which is turning into another book.!) I went with a company called Bublish, who does everything; book cover, ebook and paperback layout, book description, ISBN, NetGalley, editorial reviews, and initial Amazon and Facebook Ads. I’ve paid for these services, and they’re all under roof, but I knew I’d never be able to finish my books if I tried to learn how to do it all.

Jann: Book One in The Guest Book Trilogy, The Man in Cabin Number Five, made its debut on May 10, 2022. Which came first—plot or character?

Chrysteen: The overall story. Then I had to figure out who my characters were, and since I’m a pantser, I didn’t do an outline. I did, however, keep track of all my characters, and I made up a timeline since the story itself is set in the 1980s but works up to that. I really got myself confused a couple of times and have learned how important it is to keep track of it all.

Jann: Would you share with us what The Man in Cabin Number Five is about. Where did you get the idea for the book? Who are the main characters?

Chrysteen: I read about an unsolved murder in the 50s. and knew I wanted to add it to the story, and The Trilogy is about Annie Murphy who moves up to the mountains in Lake Arrowhead, Ca, to move on with her life after discovering her husband was unfaithful. There she reinvents herself and restores a series of cabins. She complicates her life when she meets a new love interest. She also meets Alyce Murphy, whose story runs parallel. Alyce discovers her father didn’t die of natural causes as she was led to believe but was involved in a murder/suicide in one of the cabins Annie now owns. You don’t know until the very end, what really happened, until Alyce’s father John Murphy tells his story, The main characters are Annie, Alyce and Noah.

Jann: On November 28, 2022, The Girls in Cabin Number Three, Book Two in the Trilogy came out. Tell us about Annie Parker and Carrie Davis, the book’s main characters.

Chrysteen: In book two, Annie makes a wrong turn in her relationship, but also meets Carrie Davis, whose mother Elizabeth, also stayed in one of the cabins during prohibition. There was a (real) speakeasy up in Lake Arrowhead in the 20s and 30s, and as with book one, the reader doesn’t know the real story until the end, when Elizabeth tells us what happened.

Jann: Are you working on the third book in the trilogy? If so, can you give us a sneak peek?

Chrysteen: Book Three is about a Starlet named Celeste Williams who stayed in cabin number seven when filming a movie. Annie meets her son, and he describes growing up with an ‘absent’ parent, and again, it isn’t until the very end Celeste tells her story.

Jann: What would you like the readers to come away with after reading your books?

Chrysteen: I don’t write for causes; I write so my readers close the book and say, “That was a good read.”

Jann: What preparation did you do for the launch of your books?

Chrysteen: I stressed about it, but Bublish launched both books. I wish I knew more about book launches, and hopefully with the next books, I’ll have a better idea of what I can add.

Jann: What still excites you about writing?

Chrysteen: I thought for sure I was going to run out of ideas, but I’m finding I can hardly wait to finish one story so I can go on to another. That’s what happened with the prequel novella; I kept coming up with more ideas so it’s not turning into another book.

Jann: What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

Chrysteen: Oddly enough it’s from my husband; “When in doubt, just write it.”

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

Chrysteen: Website, and I’m always available to chat at

Jann: Do you ever run out of ideas? If so, how did you get past that?

 Chrysteen: I wish I had a writing ritual. I absolutely have to get all my ‘busy work’ done (like answering emails, doing marketing, listening to seminars, bookkeeping) before I can focus on writing, but sometimes this takes me into the afternoon and I’m burned out. I’m constantly making notes on little pieces of paper, and then when I’ve finished a draft, I go through them and see where I can add or embellish. And when I think I’ve run out of ideas, I go to my husband and ask something like “Where would they go next?” “What could they do?”

Jann: What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?

 Chrysteen: Would I sound pretentious if I said I’ve done everything I’ve loved, not always successfully? Interior Designer, retail store owner, contractor, writer….I haven’t had a ranch or been a court judge. Hmm

Jann: What’s your all-time favorite book?

Chrysteen: I have several. Everything written by Jonathan Kellerman, Sue Grafton, Robert B. Parker to name a few.

Jann: What’s on your To-Be-Read pile?

Chrysteen: Any Jodi Picoult books, The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek,

Jann: What’s your favorite song?

Chrysteen: The Wind Beneath my Wings, Bette Midler, and Conte Partiro, by Andre Bocelli

Jann: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Chrysteen: Waterskiing in Capetown harbor.

Jann: What is your favorite word?

Chrysteen: “Dork” when I’ve done something dumb, but “love you” would have to be my favorite

Jann: What is your least favorite word?

Chrysteen:  The “F” word and shut up.

Jann: What turns you off?

Chrysteen: People who go overboard with a cause or are totally opinionated.

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

Chrysteen: “You don’t look as heavy as your photo.” No, just kidding!!! “I’ve read your book and I’m buying six more to give to friends for Christmas!”

Chrysteen, is was great doing a Q&A with you. Thanks for giving us a peek into your writing world. Good luck with Book Three!!

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Debut Author Barb DeLong–writing the magic of love and laughter and happily ever after!

February 2, 2023 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

Barb loves reading, writing and animals, not necessarily in that order. She writes contemporary and paranormal stories of love, laughter and magic, and you’re going to know there’ll be a feature creature in there somewhere. Her short stories appear in several anthologies, including Secrets of Moonlight Cove, Love for Christmas, The Truth That Can’t Be Told, and The Truth That Can’t Be Told 2. She is currently working on a paranormal romance series called Keepers of Magic, about a society of witches desperate to keep their existence a secret. The first in the series, The Witch Whisperer, is currently under contract with The Wild Rose Press. A transplant from the Canadian cold, she enjoys sunny Mission Viejo, California, with her husband and a pampered, blue-eyed, ragdoll cat.

Today is a day I’ve been waiting for—to interview my close friend, author Barb DeLong, about her debut novel. So, let’s get started.

Jann: When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer? Barb: I loved creative writing classes in elementary and high school and won a few writing contests. I was in ninth grade when the writing bug really bit. My favorite TV shows were westerns, so I decided I’d write a historical western. It wasn’t until years later that I realized it was a romance. I still have those pages, typed on an old typewriter with a faulty ribbon that tinted the bottom of all the letters red. I’ve been writing one thing or another ever since (my letters are all black now).

Jann: Tell us about your journey to publication.

Barb: I’m self-published with short stories in a number of anthologies, but my dream was to sell or contract one of my books to a publisher. I’ve started and abandoned many stories, some of which I pitched to editors at conferences in years past but never submitted. Lost opportunities. Had a bite from Harlequin on an early completed novel. My stories have won or finaled in several contests. I decided in 2019 that it was now or never to fulfill my dream, so I knuckled down during NaNoWriMo that year and by May 2020, completed a rough draft of my first fantasy romance, The Witch Whisperer. Since one of my problems is letting go of my work, I took way too many months editing and revising. Finally, by early March 2022, I put a pin in it and sent out my first round of query letters with the first three chapters to publishers that didn’t need you to be agented. Within a week, The Wild Rose Press, a small but popular e-publisher, asked for the full manuscript. By April I had my first publishing contract. I was over the moon! My editor is anxious to see book 2 in my series, which I’m more than half way through.

Jann: Is Fantasy/Paranormal your preferred genre to write?

Barb:  I’m romance through and through, whether it’s contemporary romance or fantasy/paranormal, I love to write both.

Jann: Why Witches?

Barb: Out of all the paranormal/fantasy beings, like vampires, shifters, fairies and the like, witches appealed to me more with their magical powers, and the fact that people who were believed to be witches were persecuted through the ages. Visit Salem, Massachusetts today to see the modern appeal of witches.

Jann: January 30th your first novel, The Witch Whisperer, book one in the Keepers of Magic series made its debut. How exciting for you! What inspired you to write this novel and series?

Barb: I’d been writing paranormal romance for a few years, witches in particular, trying to get a handle on the genre while reading extensively. Oddly enough, the title came to me after rewatching The Horse Whisperer. I thought, huh, The Witch Whisperer. Just the title. No plot. I usually let an idea (in this case, a title) roll around in my brain for weeks, even months before putting much down on paper. Then I started jotting copious notes while still editing a story that was proving difficult. Finally, the story of the Witch Whisperer became my focus. Difficult story went in the drawer. Soon into The WW, I recognized it was more fantasy than paranormal, and that I’d have to make it a series. Fantasy series sell better than standalones, I was told. Yikes! Three books. I named the series Keepers of Magic. Book two, The Keeper’s Code, is a work in progress.

Jann: What sort of research did you do for the book?

Barb: I read a lot of fantasy and paranormal romance. I researched conventional witch lore and covens and wiccans. I decided that my secret, pacifist witch society, having come from another realm to this modern world, would worship a goddess of nature and have their own form of governance and ritual. I did keep some conventions, like magical powers, elemental magic, herbs and potions, and other details. No magic wands. I took world building and fantasy workshops, read every blog I came across about writing fantasy and series writing. I have a giant book of spells that I refer to frequently. I went down so many rabbit holes. Ended up in Wonderland a few times.

Jann: Your main characters, Willow Gladstone and Never Ravenwood are fabulous. What challenges did you set for them to overcome? Will they achieve their HEA?

Barb: Willow seeks perfection in all things, especially herself. She already feels flawed because she has weak magical powers, so not in keeping with her magically Elite, over-achieving and judgmental family. When her already weak magic becomes glitchy, she must seek a cure or risk incarceration in the secret witch society’s dreaded Haven. The legendary Witch Whisperer, the one person she’d like to avoid, is her only other option. He’s messy, undisciplined, frustrating and way too sexy.

Never Ravenwood, The Witch Whisperer, likes his solitary existence. He’s happy to live out his sentence for past misdeeds on a secluded estate while treating witches with magic problems through his on-line forum. Then along comes beautiful Willow for a rehab residency to disrupt, beguile and baffle him. She forces him to confront his greatest fears, and to question a guilt so heavy that living without love seems an apt penance.

As for achieving their HEA? The Witch Whisperer is first and foremost, a romance, so…

Jann: Did anything about your characters surprise you when you were writing?

Barb: Yes. I began to realize during the editing stage how much I identified with Willow and her need for perfection, to never feeling good enough. I became quite attached to her. Never Ravenwood’s love for his blood brother Blaise became much deeper than I’d first imagined. Nev demanded I add emphasis to their relationship throughout the story.

Jann: When starting this series, did you think of character, plot or theme first?

Barb: As I mentioned above, the title came to me first, then the character Never Ravenwood as the WW himself. I did extensive character analyses in One Stop for Writers’ Character Builder on the main characters and major secondary characters. Once I had an idea of their goals, motivations, and conflicts, I could work on an outline to achieve their character arcs and story ending. Theme is almost always something I discover after a first draft.

Jann:  How many books do you have planned for this series? Are you working on Book Two? Can you tell us about the characters and their story?

 Barb: I mentioned that I’ve planned three books in the Keepers of Magic series. I’m working on the first draft of book two, The Keeper’s Code. I took a secondary character from the WW, powerful witch Ash Hunter, and made him the protagonist of book two. He’s a Keeper of magic in their secret witch society that is desperate to remain secret, an ever-more difficult task in this contemporary world of cameras on every corner, cell phones, and social media. He’s adept at lying, can mesmerize with a touch, and wipe memories. Who to pair him with? Why not a beautiful Reg (a person with no magic—think Muggle), who’s an award-winning investigative journalist with major trust issues and a killer witch stalking her.

Jann: What do you hope readers will take away from this series?

Barb: I hope they will be entertained, chuckle here and there, and wonder if that weird next-door neighbor is actually a witch. Seriously, books one and two have underlying themes, like perfection is unattainable (accept yourself for who you are), and something like learning to trust and trust in love. Still working on that one for book two.

Jann: Do you plan to stay with fantasy/paranormal genre?

Barb: For the foreseeable future. I need to finish the Keepers of Magic series in some kind of timely manner because I have so many other witchy stories I want to write.

Jann: The Great Leaving is an origin short story you wrote for the Keepers of Magic series. What is it about? Is it available to purchase?

Barb: I wanted to tell the emotional tale of the witch society’s forced abandonment of their homeland, the fantasy realm of Tae-wen, back in our time of 1690. For this snapshot in time, I chose the point of view of immortal witch Aris, whose adopted name in our world is Elizabeth Trowbridge. In The Witch Whisperer, she’s still alive, living in the society’s Haven and the owner of Trowbridge House, the secluded estate where The Witch Whisperer is incarcerated, and where Willow comes to have her broken magic fixed. She plays a much bigger role in book 2. I plan to use the short story The Great Leaving, a small e-booklet that is available through BookFunnel, as a free promo item at various events and for an eventual sign-up bonus when I start my newsletter.

Jann: I see that you have also written several short stories that are published in several anthologies. Would you share a bit about those stories?

Barb: I like writing short stories in between longer novels. Secrets of Moonlight Cove anthology was a fun one because all the authors got together and mapped out a fictional coastal town and set up a Google doc so we could share the details of our stories. In our own stories, we referenced characters in other stories and their businesses. Mine was a contemporary romance called Maggie’s Mystery Man.

Love for Christmas anthology was a labor of love with my critique group. I wrote a paranormal romance called Love for Christmas, about a cursed witch with a Christmas deadline.

In both volumes of The Truth That Can’t Be Told anthologies, I wrote a darker fantasy in two parts about cursed witches, plus a couple of contemporary pieces. All are available on Amazon.

Jann: Barb—Wishing you all the best on your debut novel, The Witch Whisperer and the Keepers of Magic series.

Barb’s Books

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