Why I Wrote ‘The Deep Space Between’ by Cassandra Stirling

Why I Wrote The Deep Space Between

One of the first things I did before I started writing my novel, The Deep Space Between, is write my inspiration story. My why-I’m-writing-this-book story. This is what I wrote. I’m sharing it because it says a lot about me, the writer, and the journey I’m on. It also foreshadows many of the imposter syndrome setbacks I’d have (am still having) with writing and sharing my writing.

And, it answers that age-old question: when did you know you wanted to write?

Let me take you way, way back

As a kid, I always had stories running through my head. If I wasn’t acting them out with my stuffed animals, I was laying in bed or the grass with an internal movie playing out whatever theme was the flavor of the day.

I also wrote stories — not at home because why do that when it could play out in my head without handwriting to slow it down — but in school, specifically during our weekly library sessions with the librarian, Mrs. Barzinski.

Mrs. Barzinksi was an odd woman. She wore clogs, big round plastic glasses, clunky wooden beaded necklaces, heavy wool sweaters in winter, and white cotton gloves. Her thick wool sweaters had the telltale bumps of her breasts somewhere near her stomach, which earned them the nickname Barzinski boobs, and served as a cautionary tale for all the girls to make sure they wore bras.

In those weekly sessions, the table at which we sat was split. One end featured those students who listened to the chapter of the current book we were all reading, headphones twice the size of Princess Leia’s braid buns clamped to their heads. Mrs. Barzinki’s voice read out the most recent chapter; at the end, she included a prompt for a story topic. We then had 20 minutes to write a story about that prompt.

At the other end, the students read the story out loud and she taped us. Similar to the ginormous headphones — this was the ’80s after all — the recording device was massive. It contained two tape reels fastened to the top. When she turned it on, there was a distinctive “thunk.” I can still hear it today.

Every week, she put the best-written stories on the wall outside of the library with an A and then numerous pluses after it big fat red marker at the top of it.

At the end of the year, the students who had the best writing, aka the most pluses, got a prize — always books — for their efforts.

In my sixth grade year, I was in an unstated competition with my best friend, Jenny Simeon, over the total number of pluses we’d get on those stories. Some weeks I won, but most weeks she did. I always came second when I didn’t win, but it was never enough. Jenny was smart, funny, creative, and well-liked. I was awkward, wore outdated hand-me-downs (which I loved), and quiet.

We were really good friends. Outside of school was the requisite sleepover. During school, we’d hang out on the monkey bars (until some dummy got hurt and they banned them), making up stories.

Sometimes they were based on Greek myths (I was Athena, always) and sometimes on characters we created, like Ricky and Katie (I was Katie, she was Ricky). We even wrote and put on a play for our 4th-grade class (9-year-olds).

We were enmeshed in our creativity without even trying. And yet, I still competed with her. I wanted to win that content — to be the best writer in the school.

But I didn’t. Jenny did.

As I watched her walk up to accept her prize — the full set of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books we’d read that year — I had mixed feelings. I definitely did not want that prize, because I hated those books. Who needs to know how to build a bed peg by peg? Not this girl. But I also really wanted to be as creative as Jenny was and I failed. I sucked. I wasn’t good enough. It didn’t matter that I came in second out of my entire 90+ student class.

I didn’t beat Jenny.

The in-between years

Fast forward through my life, where writing wasn’t a feature because I obviously wasn’t any good at it coming second place to someone I looked up to when I was twelve. I still had stories running through my head and often used them as a means to fall asleep when my brain wouldn’t shut off from the day. But I never wrote them down.

And then in 2009, after getting laid off from my publishing job, I decided I was going to write something down. The book I wrote was based on a dream in a post-apocalyptic world.

Most of my stories are extensions of my dreams, but this one had a lot of rich details to it that were used to get the ball rolling.

In November, still unemployed but freelancing to be able to eat, I participated in NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge to write the 50,000 first draft ugly awful words of a book. And I did it. I wrote 50,000 words and my book was born.

My main character, Jenna, was smart, sarcastic, and funny; she was also incredibly isolated, an outsider, and a person who never saw her impact on the people around her. It took me 5 years to finish it, picking it up and putting it down at random moments in time. But eventually, I finished it.

At the time, I had taken a science fiction and fantasy writing class at the local university. Part of the class requirement was to read out five pages of your book. The same week it was my turn to read I had had a job interview. I was more nervous to read those pages than anything else I’d done in life, including that interview.

My classmates liked the content, but I was bombarded with questions on where the people came from, how did the food get made, where did the clothing come from. I couldn’t answer any of these questions, because I forgot to build the world while building the book. I had no idea where it came from; to me, it wasn’t relevant to the narrative. But to the readers, it most definitely was.

My husband did some research as to how much water and power my New City of York needed. He did amazing work on it and tried to help me build the world, but it was so overwhelming, I couldn’t face it. Once the class ended, I shelved the book.

Fast forward to the present

The idea for my current book, The Deep Space Between, came to me while I was writing my other poorly titled Apocalypse Girl book. And it wasn’t a dream, but an idea born out of another daydream, featuring a girl with a boogeyman riding shotgun in her body.

A girl who was an outsider, who was isolated, who felt unloved and separate from everyone else. A girl who never saw the impact she had on the people around her.

Once I realized I’d written, or started writing, two books about the same type of girl, I took a long hard look at myself. I realized I was them, they were me, just in different settings and circumstances. I had a story that needed to be told and I was the person to tell it.

This book is born out of two fears: I’m not good enough to write an engaging story; and, it wouldn’t have any impact on anyone even if I did. But I’m done competing with my 12-year-old self (since it was never about Jenny Simeon anyway).

I’m ready to see the impact I could have, or my character will have, on the world around her as she navigates the story and potentially learns more about my impact on my world in the process.

And that’s good enough for me.

Thank you to author Cassandra Stirling for sharing her inspiring story that led to the release of ‘The Deep Space Between’ which is available now.

About the Book:

Seraphina Lastra Covington had never planned to set foot in the Magical Community of Merricott, New Hampshire again. When she reluctantly returns after a twelve-year absence, she finds that the town has changed: the bustling square she once knew is quiet, and a Magic Wielding child has gone missing. It is not until she starts heeding advice from the voice inside of her head that she realizes everything in her childhood home is not as it seems.

About the Author:

Cassandra Stirling’s entire career revolves around language. She has worked in the fields of law, publishing, and marketing; writing a book seemed like a natural progression. In 2020, her husband noted that, while Cassandra’s childhood dream job was to be a writer, she “was not a writer,” as “she didn’t write.”

She proved him wrong by writing her debut novel The Deep Space Between.

When she’s not writing or working, Cassandra can be found playing video games, reading, cross-stitching, or generally figuring out how to fit all of her life into the seventeen hours a day she’s not sleeping.

Exclusive Excerpt of ‘We Watch You’ by N S Ford

Introducing author N S Ford who shares an exclusive excerpt of her thriller ‘We Watch You’ which is currently available for pre-order.

The Watcher

I never fail to be amazed at the human capacity for self-delusion. You tell yourselves that everything is all right, when the case is clearly the opposite. You pretend that nothing out of the ordinary is happening, when the evidence is in front of your eyes. Even if you did grasp the truth, there is nothing you could do about it. It is better that you never find out.


Do not ask too many questions.


We watch you.

Chapter 1

‘Hello? Are you there?’ The recorded voice pauses. ‘Maybe you haven’t seen the news today…’

There’s a stifled sob.


‘Lauren. Something really bad has happened. We need to talk about it. Please call me back.’


End of message. I stare at my phone. I can hardly believe that the caller is Jess. Her voice is too strange. Panicked, unfamiliar. I check the number, just to be sure it’s her.


Yes. Jess called me.


Shivering, I wrap the towel tighter around my body. My wet hair, recently combed, clings to my neck. The night sky seems to press at the steamed-up windows. I want to push it back. Closing the blinds, I worry over her words. ‘Something really bad has happened.’ Jess is normally so confident, ready for anything. What can have caused her such distress? If I hadn’t been in the bathroom when she called, I would know by now.


I put my phone down on the bed. I think about Jess.


We’ve been best friends for a long time. Since nursery school, in fact. Twenty-five years of friendship, supporting each other through all kinds of troubles. She’s always been braver than me.


‘You’ve got a heart of steel,’ I said to her once, after one of her break-ups.


‘I know,’ she’d said, smiling. ‘No one can hold me back.’


The number of friends I have can be counted on one hand. I find it very difficult to forge new relationships. It’s easier to stick to those I’ve grown up with. I know Jess extremely well, which is why I’m even more disturbed now that I’ve heard the message.


There was something else in her voicemail. Fear.


I’ve never known her to be scared of anything before.


My apprehension grows. I don’t want to call her, I don’t want to find out what’s happened, but the longer I hesitate, the more nervous I’ll become. Just ten minutes ago, I was so pleased with myself after completing a 5k run without stopping. As I soaped my aching body under the shower, I was thinking that I’d earned the pot of chocolate mousse which was waiting for me in the fridge. Now, the happiness has gone. The hunger has gone too, replaced by dread.


Reluctant, I reach out again for my phone.


I flip open the red leather case. My legs are weak. They won’t support me, so I slip clumsily to the floor. The wooden boards are harsh beneath my knees as I scroll through my news feed, my index finger pulling up and discarding the latest headlines. I shift to a cross-legged position and the towel loosens, leaving me exposed and chilly.


The national news is the same as usual. Another fatal stabbing in the capital. A terrorist plot foiled. An inquiry into an abuse scandal at a care home. All very depressing, but nothing that justifies Jess’s message, nothing that stands out to me. I move on to the local news.


Straight away, I see it. Today’s top story for the county.


A photo of someone I know.


‘No,’ I whisper.

This is an exclusive excerpt of thriller ‘We Watch You’ by N S Ford which is currently available for pre-order here. You can also find N S Ford across many different social media platforms here.

Guest Post: Excerpt of ‘Around the Dark Dial’ by J.D. Sanderson

Author J.D. Sanderson shares an excerpt of his short story collection ‘Around the Dark Dial’.

Caller Four

Shooting Taye a look of intrigue, Terrance asked,
“Crying? As in whimpering?”
“Yeah,” Stacey said. “I’m crate training him at night.
He started whimpering from across the room in his
crate.”
“Incredibly common,” Terrance mused. “Dogs have
often shown the ability to sense a wide range of
paranormal occurrences.”
“He’s a rescue, so at first, like, I just thought he was
being a scared puppy. Then when I opened my eyes, I
realized I couldn’t get out of my bed.”
Terrance could hear the woman’s voice shaking. It
was hard to tell how old she was over-the-air, but the
fear coming out of her would have made some of the
toughest people he knew sound like children.
“Go on…” Terrance prompted.
“Something was holding me down. It wasn’t a hand
or device or anything, it was just pressure,” she
continued.
“This is awesome,” he heard Taye’s voice whisper in
his headphones. While his sidekick’s mic was not live,
it was often kept on so he could give feedback on the
fly. Terrance motioned for him to be quiet as he turned
back to his microphone. He could see Taye’s dreadlocks
bouncing with excitement as he continued to listen.
“Did you see anything? Feel anything at all?”
“No. It was hard just to keep my eyes open,” she
whimpered. “I don’t know what they wanted from me.”
“They?” Terrance asked, sitting up straight. “So, you
did eventually see something?
“I did,” Stacey cried. “I saw two shapes. One was
short, one was tall.”
“Humanoid?” Terrance asked as he reached over to
grab his notepad. He often jotted down details from the
more exciting phone calls in case another caller had a
similar story down the road.
“What?” Stacey asked.
“Were they humanoid? Did they look like people?
Two arms, two legs, a head — that sort of thing?”
“One did,” Stacey answered. It was tall, taller than
me. I think it was wearing a suit maybe. The other was
short. Like a little kid.”
“Did you get a good look?”
“I don’t know,” Stacey said. Her voice was now filled
with a soft, trickling terror. Terrance genuinely felt bad
for her. He may have been a true believer in the
paranormal, but he was self-aware enough to know
that at least half of his callers just wanted attention.
This did not sound like one of those calls.
“Take your time, Stacey,” Terrance said. “Do you
need a minute?”
“No, I’m… I’m okay. I’m sorry,” she replied. “It’s just,
this happened a few days ago. I haven’t gone to work or
told anyone. But then I remembered a friend telling me
he listened to your show.”
“It’s alright,” Terrance soothed. “What happened
next? Do you remember?”
“I was lifted off the bed. Moved. I don’t know where.
They were talking to each other, but I don’t know how.
I didn’t see the tall one’s mouth move. The short one
was too low for me to see, really.”
“Hang up.”
Terrance’s train of thought derailed immediately. He
turned around to look over at Taye, who had pushed
his mic over to the side. Terrance waved his hands to
get his friends attention. Taye looked up, motioning his
hands in question.
The host mouthed the words ‘Did you say something’
to his friend as caller four droned on in his ear. Taye
shook his head.
“Are you there?” Stacey asked.
“Yes. Yes, we’re here. Continue,” Terrance said,
shaking his head. “What else can you tell us?”
“The only other thing I remember was a really, really
bright light. It was painful. My eyes hurt the next day.”
“You need to stop.”
Terrance’s head jerked around as the voice popped
in his ears a second time.
“What?” he said aloud.
“Huh?” Stacey said. “I was trying to say that they put
something on my forehead…”
“What are you doing?” Taye asked through the
secure line.
Terrance switched off his microphone for a second
while Stacey continued to talk about her horrific
encounter. He looked over at Taye through the glass.
“I heard something in my ear. My headphones!”
Terrance exclaimed.
“I didn’t hear anything,” Taye replied. “Dude, you’re
missing the best part! C’mon, this is the best caller
we’ve had in three weeks.”
Terrance reached over to flip his microphone on
when the deep voice echoed in his ear a third time.
“Hang up, Mr. Storey. Please.” The voice was deep.
It sounded like there might have been going through a
processor. Something about it sounded off, as if it was
made to sound like a machine.
Or human.
Terrance froze in his seat as Stacey continued to
recount a procedure done to her eyes, ears, and nose
on a cold, dark table. He was only half-listening as the
voice told him two more times to disconnect the call.
“Stacy,” Terrance interjected, “I’m afraid we are
coming up on a break. Thank you so much for the call.
Very riveting stuff. Call again if you remember
something else.”
“But this isn’t even half of what happened to me,”
Stacey pleaded.
Taye tapped his wrist and pointed up to the clock,
signaling that they had another five or six minutes until
a commercial break was needed. Terrance ignored him.
“This is Late Night Storey, we’ll be back in a minute.”
Terrance reached over and switched off the mic before
hanging up on the caller.
“Dude! What the fuck was that?” Taye asked.
“Sorry,” Terrance mumbled. “Something came up.”
“Jesus Christ, Terrance. Did you get spooked or
something?”
“I thought I… I don’t know.”


* * * * *

This is an excerpt of short story collection ‘Around the Dark Dial‘ by J.D. Sanderson who you can find on Twitter. You can find more of his books here.

Guest Post: ‘The Rain Dancer: My Life: The Dyslexic’ – The Story behind the Story by Alan Scott

Introducing author Alan Scott who shares the story behind his book.

Hello, my name is Alan Scott, I am 52 years old, and I am Dyslexic.

I read a book called the Dyslexic advantage by Dr Brock L. Eide & Dr Fernette F.Eide, and for the first time ever I read something about Dyslexia that was not negative.

In its opening pages it quotes a press release (2004) from a top business School in England whose headline was “Entrepreneurs five times more likely to suffer from Dyslexia.” The subheading went on to ask “What makes Sir Richard Branson, Sir Alan Sugar and Sir Norman Foster special?”

The book goes on to say – in light of the tremendous success enjoyed by these entrepreneurs it seems rather odd to describe them as ‘Suffering from Dyslexia’.

After finishing the book, I started to think back over my own life and how being dyslexic had impacted on it. Then during Lockdown, as I stared out the window, I finally found decided to write about experiences.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write but I did know I wanted to challenge people’s thoughts on dyslexia, the world around them and what society expects of them.

Now, as an author I can go on for hours about how wonderful my latest book is. However, sometimes it’s the reader who can summarise the best. Below is a review on Amazon which I think sums up ‘The Rain Dancer’ perfectly.

“This is not your usual novel with twists and turns, and a plethora of characters finding their way to entertain your bored mind. This is a trip into the author’s mind and a chance to see the world through his eyes, the view, that is quite unique because the author is dyslexic. Alan is a sharp observer of life. I think you’ll appreciate his perspective.

I read or listen to lots of books that I really enjoy at the moment and then I completely forget about them the next day. This one was a little bitter and sour to read but it made a mark. I keep on thinking about it. Isn’t this an attribute of a book worth reading?”

If you do decide to read it, I would be very interested in reading your honest thoughts and if it did make you think about life slightly differently.

Thank you to author Alan Scot for sharing his story. You can find him over on Twitter and ‘The Rain Dancer: My Life: The Dyslexic’ is available now.

Guest Post: ‘Food, Family, Friends, & Football: An Introduction to The Winning Ingredient . . .’ By Kelly Swan Taylor

Introducing Kelly Swan Taylor who shares the story of her upcoming novel.

My upcoming contemporary novel is a story of unwavering friendship through loss and triumph and was born out of a love of baking, family traditions, and (of course) my passion for sports. It’s as eclectic as I am and holds a special place in my heart. And I hope it will in yours.

Each fall, for a while now, I pull out my recipe book and prepare for a long season of baking from Halloween through Christmas. What started with a simple (well, not really ingredient-wise) gingerbread recipe turned into at least a dozen different varieties of cookies, now carefully placed between wax paper and packaged inside colorful tins. I tie them with a bow of red and white baker’s twine and ship them off to friends and family. This tradition is my personal version of a bakery and became the catalyst for my debut young adult novel.

As a former laboratory scientist, recipe experimentation is what fueled my enjoyment of baking. That, and sharing the unique results with others. This is something my protagonist, Mia DeSalvo, and I have in common. Bringing new life to old family recipes keeps these cherished memories alive. And it does help to have a wonderful treasure trove of recipes from which to choose. I’m lucky in that department. From my Slovak great-grandmother’s apple strudel to my grandmother-in-law’s “Oatmeal Crispies,” my cookie tins are overflowing.

But it was the stories that my husband told about his Sicilian roots and warm dinners around the Italian table growing up that prompted me to create the DeSalvo Bakery. It was inspired by my husband’s great-grandmother, Antoinette DeSalvo, who immigrated to this country in the early 1900’s. I will never forget my own experience visiting Italy a few years ago and feeling the comforting warmth of delicious food and drink, including sampling several cannoli in each city.

Of course, no sweet teen story would be complete without a fun group of tight, loyal friends. I chose to huddle them around the emerald turf of a football field. While I hadn’t initially intended for football to play such an integral role in the novel, I couldn’t imagine my own high school or college experiences without it and loved the instant action and drama it brought to the story. Whether as supportive teammates or dedicated fans, participating in sports emphasizes teamwork, dedication, and goal setting — all wonderful lessons for the young and old alike. And, while the teenage characters take the lead in this story, the diverse multi-generational cast is included and respected as an important part of their world.

Finally, there is a distinctly American feel to The Winning Ingredient that was intentional. And it isn’t just the all-American football theme. It is scattered throughout the book, from the school’s name and mascot to the hard-working people, who care about their community. The story is a shout-out to immigrant families who own small businesses and came to this country to achieve a dream and share their legacies. Their many recipes and traditions are now weaved into the fabric of our one flag. And I couldn’t forget the essential Gold Star and Blue Star families of our military, who sacrifice so much to keep us safe and allow us the freedom to achieve our dreams.

The Winning Ingredient by Kelly Swan Taylor will be available from the 22nd of September. You can find Kelly on Twitter and for information check out her website.

Guest Post: ‘A Teen Assassin with a Heart of Gold’ by Dan McKeon

Introducing author Dan McKeon who shares the story behind his writing journey and book ‘Wonder Rush’

“I think we figure out who we are based on our life experiences and the different people that impact us. People who come in and out of our lives shape who we are, even if we don’t realize it.”

This quote from my debut novel, Wonder Rush, sums up Wendy Lockheart’s struggle. She is a seventeen-year-old girl fighting to discover who she truly is and the adult she desires to become. Wonder Rush is a coming-of-age tale under the most extreme circumstances. A story about a girl with no identity of her own. A girl fighting for not only a stable home, but for survival.

Abducted at birth, Wendy was raised by an agency of assassins. She was never given a name of her own, but was bounced around from one foster family to the next, assuming a new identity each time. She was brainwashed, tortured, psychologically manipulated, all to carry out the will of “the agency”—a group of assassins that communicates with its teen operatives using randomly flavored, encoded sticks of Wonder Rush Happy Funtime Bubblegum.
After carrying out a hit on an alleged drunk driver, Wendy suspects corruption within the agency. Her ultimate betrayal makes her the agency’s next mark. As Wendy uncovers the agency’s twisted intentions, she realizes she must destroy the organization that shaped her in order to discover the person she truly wants to be—that is, if they don’t kill her first.
I began writing Wonder Rush with a seed of an idea—what if the unassuming new girl in school was secretly an assassin? What a perfect cover. Who would ever suspect a sweet, innocent girl? As the concept took shape, I was inspired by my own teenage sons and their individual journeys into adulthood. I recalled the struggle of personal growth I experienced at that age, and I wondered how much different that road to self-discovery would look if a person never had an identity of her own to begin with. It was that underlying universal theme of identity that got me excited about this story. It is what elevates it from a high-octane thriller to something deeper and more meaningful.
I did not write Wonder Rush with a target age group in mind, and I think some of the best stories transcend age. Upon completion of the novel, I understood it fit best under the young adult category, given the age of my main character and the coming-of-age theme. However, what has made me happiest about the release of this book is the overwhelming connection it has made with teenagers, young adults, and mature adults alike. I think we all remember that internal conflict we felt when we balanced the thin line between childhood and adulthood. We may not relate to a teenage girl killing people in various and sometimes gruesome ways, but we can all relate to that child fighting to do better, to be better, and to grow into an adult that she can take pride in.
My initial spark of interest in creative writing came during a film analysis class I took while I was an undergraduate at Villanova University. It was the first time I realized that film was more than just entertainment. It was a literary and visual art. I learned all I could about screenwriting. I read books, attended seminars and workshops. I ultimately enrolled in a Professional Screenwriting course at UCLA. I complete four screenplays over the years, but I always wanted to write a novel.
I found the rigid structure of screenwriting to be beneficial in novel writing. Additionally, the visual storytelling nature of writing for the screen was beneficial when painting mental images and developing characters in Wonder Rush. I enjoy the more flexible nature of novel writing, but I will always appreciate my screenwriting roots.
Through my journey to publish Wonder Rush, I discovered the great difficulty in getting books into the hands of readers. There are literally millions of books published each year worldwide. Even though the reaction to Wonder Rush has been overwhelmingly positive, it is still a herculean task to deliver it to a wide audience. I am so grateful for bloggers and indie author advocates like Lee Hall for giving new writers an avenue to reach the readers these books deserve. There are some amazing stories out there, we just need to find them. I hope you all find Wonder Rush, and I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it.

You can read more about ‘Wonder Rush’ here and Dan McKeon can be found over on Twitter

Guest Post: ‘The Story Behind The Story’ by Micah Kolding

Author Micah Kolding shares his story which led to his first published children’s book.

It starts with my community theater work. My voice qualifies as “true bass”, which is rare enough to be in high demand among local musical productions. I therefore find something of a niche as “the guy with the deep voice”.

Something I realized over the course of my theater experience is that the kids tend to find it fascinating that I’m part of the cast by choice. There are occasions when I’m the only straight guy who isn’t one of their dads, and they gravitate to me to talk about things they probably don’t feel like they can talk about with the rest of the cast. They ask if I like geckos, they want to discuss Star Wars, they need to recount how they got in trouble at school… a lot of topics that are, on some level, too “boyish” for much of the musical theater environment. And it’s very often the girls who most need to talk about this.

I’ll always remember one girl in particular; a true tomboy, she once showed up before a show in a pink dress and revealed that she was only wearing it because she lost a bet. When much of the cast reassured her of how pretty she looked, she shouted, “I’m going to sit with Micah, because he won’t judge me!” She did, and I told her she looked like “a pink nightmare”. She said “Thank you!”, and we fist-bumped.

My takeaway from this experience is just how little people understand tomboys. More girls than we realize are not buying into the culture of constant sensitivity and validation; they want to be challenged, they want to compete, and they want to be “one of the guys” without having adults ask if they’re pre-op. You look at how tomboys are depicted in most stories, you see hostile weirdos who are content to be the one sporty friend in a cast of near-identical bratz-dolls, and I wanted to write something that rang truer.

The plot of “The Fellas, the Mermaid, and Me!” came to me while I was serving as Lurch in the Addams Family musical. It’s a story about a mermaid named Kris who hangs out with five human friends, all of which are boys. I remember realizing how perfect it was to depict a composite of every tomboy I knew as a gritty, gap-toothed mermaid; people expect mermaids to be quintessentially girly, but they’re ultimately an apex-predator sea creature, making them necessarily a sporty, adventurous, competitive friend.

Indeed, when I first sent out the story to beta-readers, I got a few comments opining that Kris shouldn’t be the only girl in the group. It was enough that I actually ran the idea past my wife; “Should I change one of the boys to be a girl?” Speaking from quite a bit of experience herself, her reaction was an insistent “NO! She’s a TOMBOY! She doesn’t hang out with GIRLS!” So “The Fellas, the Mermaid, and Me!” went to self-publication as-is.

You can find author Micah Kolding on Twitter and his books via Amazon

Guest Post: Music to Write By: Motivator or Procrastinator? By Emma Jordan

Introducing author Emma Jordan who talks about music and writing…

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

As an indie romance author, I love making all my own writing decisions, from series concept to book marketing and even the actual writing bit. Who wouldn’t?

But what I REALLY love is deciding what music to play, whether I’m:

· Researching an idea;

· Creating a Spotify playlist of my novels;

· Creating an Amazon playlist to inspire me on car journeys;

· Distracting myself from writing;

· Tidying my CDs;

· Taking a break from writing;

· Avoiding editing;

· Celebrating self-publishing a book;

· Trying to write character arcs.

The rhetorical question is: do I play music to motivate my writing or to avoid writing?

A little of both, as any graduate historian will conclude.

I’ve included music in all three of the romance novels in my series, Love is Everything (across all musical genres):

Everything, Except You – four decades of country music and 80s film themes;

Everything and Nothing – seventies rock and classic rock;

Everything For Her – 90s pop and Latin music (this is the book I’m currently, musically, distracted from);

Even my Christmas novella, Everything This Christmas, includes Christmas songs (and films).

You know when people say they’ll listen to anything?

I really do, I’ve seen New Kids on the Block and Andrea Bocelli live shows – not together, although that could inspire an intriguing book one day. I’ve spent five days at a country festival that I had to be dragged away from, I RockFit to Rammstein and I’ve seen Muse perform 12 times in six countries (don’t even get me started on combining travel and music).

I even volunteer to write music reviews and interview musicians for Lyric Magazine, because I love sharing my love of songwriting and storytelling.

I’ve always loved music. I grew up in a music-loving household. We didn’t have much, but we had cassettes. I remember 13th July 1985 as a 7 year old, standing in the lounge in front of BBC One and yelling to my Mum, ‘It’s On!’ just as Live Aid, the first charity concert, was about to kick off 12 hours of live music (including Paul Young. Swoon).

As a teen, I took babysitting jobs based on the person’s cassette collection, and if there was a twin deck I could record from. As an adult, and parent, I need live shows as much as my daughter needs to read (proud mama moment; she’s book-obsessed). Perhaps my gig obsession is not for the reason you think. I’m deaf in my right ear, which probably explains my addiction to live shows (front and centre if possible) I need to feel the music. It also makes for great writing inspiration when I hear something completely different to what’s actually being said. Talk about Four Candles.

I absolutely can’t wait for live shows to resume again, so that I can convince myself, ‘I’ll write on the train’ when I actually mean I’ll listen to artist’s music all the way back home, reliving the show, drifting to sleep with a huge grin across my face.

What do you listen to when you’re supposed to be working?

Romance writer Emma Jordan hangs out on Twitter and Instagram (as well as Spotify and Amazon’s KDP reports) and loves to connect with readers and potential-readers.

To celebrate the 1st book birthday of my second romance novel, Everything and Nothing, all readers can add this to their #TBRPile FOR FREE before the end of Friday 16th July 2021.

Guest Post: ‘All Things Writing’ by Myron The Dreamer’s Spirit

We all have expectations!

We’re all excited and waiting for something eagerly to happen. Some of us, especially artists, writers, and avid dreamers can even see our expectations fully realized within our heart imagination. We can taste it, smell it, maybe even feel it like a new set of clothes against our skin. We even dance in celebration! There’s real joy in knowing we already have what we’ve sought out for despite not having it in our hand.

However, on who or what do we rest our expectations on? A person? A place? A government? A time in the future? (Personally I wouldn’t choose any of these). Be mindful on whom or where you set your expectations on. It’s important to dream and to plan for the future, regardless of how far or near it may seem, but be careful with the choice of your foundation, the thing that you rest your expectations on. If you want your hopes and dreams to be fully realized beyond your wildest imagination then rest them on something sure and solid (such things do exist), something that won’t change like the weather or your mood. Your dreams, your life are very real and very important. Shouldn’t they be rooted and planted in and on something that will always be there for you? The future is unclear, in fact it doesn’t even exist. There’s only the present. Be wise and check your foundation. Choose a foundation you trust to rest your life on and expect the best while in a state of rest because the fruit of your labours is coming. Like someone who sows seed in good soil, the crop has no choice but to come and it will come quickly.

So what are you resting your expectations on?

Thank you for stopping by!

By Myron, aka the Dreamer’s Spirit who you can find on Twitter.

If you have an article or a book review and want to be a guest writer then the Hall of Information wants you! Reach out via the submit a book review/article section.

Guest Book Review: ‘Into the Breach’ by Halo Scot Reviewed by A D Green

Introducing fantasy author A D Green who reviews ‘Into the Breach’ by Halo Scot.

5/5 stars – A Brutal, visceral Grimdark Horror that will stay with me

I am not a massive Grimdark fan. I have read a few before and most have failed to engage me. Not so Halo Scot’s offering. It grabbed me by my shirt front (okay T-shirt) and did not let go until the last page.

The story is set thousands of years in earth’s future and it is not a happy one. The planet is scorched and has flipped so that Antarctica is the new north and humankind lives there in a desert wasteland. A rift has opened, a gateway to the seven realms, it seems we are not alone and the gods are revealed. Powers are awakened in humans that mirror the four seasons, summer for mages, winter for shields, autumn for shifters and spring for healers.

Into this backdrop come Kyder (our antihero) and Rune (our hero). One born at the height of the summer solstice, the other the winter. The most powerful of their kind they are two sides of the same coin. One broken by birth, the other broken by death. One a psychopath, the other an empath. One born on the fringes of society the other at the heart.

No story is for everyone (I mean some people don’t like Lord of the Rings if you can believe that!) but this story should come with a health warning. I found it as disturbing as I did fascinating and I could not stop reading it.

The story alternates from each protagonists point of view and moves at a great pace from when they are children to young adults. Halo Scot pulls no punches, is brutal to the point I would have turned away if I watched this on a screen, but reading it I had no choice but to read the words, live the emotion, good and bad. It is morally indecent, a lot, which I found more disturbing than the violence. I mean, violence is a known thing, right? We all watch it and read it and see it happening in our world. But what we think, what we know of as right and wrong, those deep, dark questions that hide in the back of our minds are so much scarier when they are on a page (or maybe that is just me).

Into the Breach is much more than all that though. What really carries the story is the conflict of emotion, the war of the soul. It is a story of love rather than hate and of redemption (yes, that old chestnut we all love). I was sucked into Kyder and Rune’s world and bought into their lives in equal measure.

We love Hannibal Lecter for his intelligence and hate him for his cruelty and he scares the s**t out of us, well Kyder is cut of the same cloth. I wouldn’t say he was my guilty pleasure but he was my guilty something.

Anything I didn’t like? Well not really. Maybe a small bugbear, a gripe, that both protagonists break the fourth wall at times and talk directly the reader. Just a thought here or observation there. Well, I didn’t like this. I didn’t notice it in the first half of the book – only the second but that could just have been due to shock! It was a conscious decision by the author, presumably to engage the reader. Make them feel they were part of the story if only a witness to it and I get that some people will love this (I mean, I liked Deadpool’s fourth wall breakage) but for me, it ruined the spell that had been cast, took me out of rather than into the story. Like I say, potatoes, potatos. Thankfully, for me, it was not overused.  

This book will live with me for a long time. It is beautifully written, all the characters feel so alive and uniquely distinctive and oh so very human. I could go on, could probably write an essay on this book but well I won’t, too damn lazy and who would read it!

If you are still intrigued after reading my review then stop procrastinating. Go buy it and read it yourself and go write your own damn review. Halo Scot, I salute you, even though you scare me a little and there is three more books to come. Gulp.

This review first premiered via A D Green’s blog which you can find here. You can also find him over on Twitter and he is part of the #indiebookclub who choose and review a new indie author every month.

Books by A D Green