Author Q&A

Author Q&A with Elyse Springer!

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Welcome to the blog tour for Suckerpunch, the first book in a new paranormal sports romance series where vampires and other creatures secretly play hockey in the NHL… and fall in love, of course! 

I don’t talk about myself much online, but a book like Suckerpunch is strangely personal in a lot of ways. Hockey is one of my passions, so writing about the sport I love means pouring a little bit of myself into the characters and the story. 

So here are answers to a few questions about me, my writing, and more!

How did you come up with the idea for Suckerpunch?

Suckerpunch started in May 2018 as a story about a goalie who was so strange that none of his teammates could figure out if he was a vampire or not. As Alex Fanning, one of the main characters in SP says to himself: “He fit the stereotypes to a T otherwise—too pale, nocturnal, and too fond of red meat. But, hey, that describes almost every other hockey player I know too.”

The book evolved from there, though, and became a story about a guy who just wants to play the sport he loves, even though his non-human heritage could make that impossible. Also, I love writing slow burn romances and rivals-to-lovers relationships, so this was a great setting to do that! 

Where is your favorite place to write? 

It depends on the scene, to be honest! If I’m writing something dialogue-heavy, I like to be at home in a quiet space so I can ‘hear’ the characters’ voices and talk out some of the back-and-forth if needed (without getting weird looks). But for action-heavy scenes I like to put on music or white noise and get to writing in Starbucks.

The bonus with being in a coffee shop is I can reward myself with a pastry when I hit my target word count for the day!!

What’s your favorite hockey team?

Look, don’t judge me. I follow several teams, because I’m easy like that. The Dallas Stars are the true loves of my life, but as a Pittsburgh resident I also follow the Penguins pretty closely. But I adore the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Buffalo Sabres, and am distantly fond of like four other teams. I JUST LIKE WATCHING REALLY GOOD HOCKEY, OKAY? 

(You’re judging me, I can tell.)

Favorite food?

Chipotle. 

Last book you read? 

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. It’s a science fiction novel about a device that allows people to “step” sideways into parallel, untouched Earths. 

I also recently re-read His Royal Secret and His Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace, which are a duology about a news reporter who falls in love with the Crown Prince of England and it’s super romance and sexy and delightful. 

How much research do you do for each book? 

It depends, honestly. For World Turned Upside Down, my novella set during a winter in Antarctica, I didn’t need to research a lot because I actually lived the experience. I pulled up my own pictures and diary entries to help remind me of some details, but my memory of those wonderful years at McMurdo Station were enough to help me write that story.

For Suckerpunch and the second book in the Hockey Gods & Monsters series, a lot more research was required. I know hockey as a hockey fan… but as a player, as someone who works for a team? Not so much. I watched a lot of YouTube interviews and documentaries, and read articles about locker room interactions and how players survive an 82 game, 6 month season. 

I don’t think you can write a sports romance unless you really know that sport inside and out. Maybe you can fool a casual reader, but it feels disingenuous to me if you don’t put that effort in and make sure you really know what you’re writing about!

What’s coming up next from Elyse Springer?

I have a secret project in the works that’s super fun, but I’m not telling you anything about it! I’m also working on the second book in the Hockey Gods & Monsters series. It’s not a sequel, but it does follow one of my favorite background characters from Suckerpunch

I want to write other genres, so hopefully you’ll see some new things coming soon.

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Author Q&A: Thea McAlistair + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Please welcome Thea McAlistair to The Blogger Girls!

When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?

My first story that I remember was a fan fiction of a book about fairies at the age of 10 or so. It was a school assignment, but I don’t remember exactly what the assignment was.
My first non-school related piece was something like a YA take on Lord of the Rings around age 14. It didn’t get past a couple pages but I probably put almost as much planning into it as Tolkien himself would have. Sometimes I think I should go back to it, but I’m pretty sure I can’t get my mind wrapped around young YA.

Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?

Definitely when I find the time. I work full time (45-50 hours a week), so sometimes I have to get creative. I have, however, found that if I have a clear goal or deadline, even one with no consequences like NaNoWriMo, I’m much more likely to sit down and actually work. No Good Men and its sequel Boiling Over are results of NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, respectively

Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first?  Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

I start with characters or maybe a brilliant flash of a scene. I piece it out from there: who are these people? How did they end up in this situation? How will they get out of it? That can usually carry me to a couple thousand words and then I need to dip into the well of music or other fiction to bring back the spark. Sometimes it takes longer than I want.

Where did the desire to write LGBT romance come from?

It didn’t start as a particular desire. I consider No Good Men a mystery first, a romance second. But that’s sort of the thing, isn’t it? There isn’t a “reason” for the characters being LGBTQ any more than there’s a “reason” for real LGBTQ people to exist. It’s time we accepted that.

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

I’m very well educated in history, so I know some basics. If I need a particular fact, Google is very much my friend. And I’m fortunate that there are still some films from the period I write in, so I can listen to the cadence and word choice of characters my characters were supposed to have related to if they were real people. 

What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?

The book title was hardest, by far. Trying to capture 65,000 words in just one to five? Insanity. I was very fortunate to work with Raevyn and Natasha at NineStar Press on my cover, and we came up with something really great pretty quickly. Character names have never been hard for me. Because I’m writing historic fiction, I can pull up baby name lists for the appropriate era and ta-da I have 100 names to choose from. 

How do you answer the question “Oh, you’re an author…what do you write?”

I say “historical mysteries.” If pressed further I’ll open that out to “LGBTQ noir-style historic mysteries set in the 1930s.” I get a lot of incredulous stares and polite nodding. Niche genres whooo!

What does your family think of your writing?

Don’t know, they haven’t read it yet haha!

Tell us about your current work in process and what you’ve got planned for the future.

Book 2, Boiling Over, is with NineStar going through the publishing process. I have a draft 0 of Book 3 going and I’ve got ideas for four or five more after that. I can’t let my boys go, it seems.

I dabble in fantasy from time to time, but I haven’t gotten very far with them. Not sure what the issue is, but it is an entirely different process than the mysteries. I guess it’s because with a historical book, you know that there are facts you can look up, and with a mystery, you always know where your endgame is. With a fantasy, literally all bets are off.

Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

Make friends with other writers. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to give up only to have my writer friends buoy me back up. And their help is invaluable for working through issues with the story. Plus they are always open to commiserating with you.

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Author Q&A: L.A. Ashton + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Please welcome L.A. Ashton to The Blogger Girls!

If you could trade places with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

Aranck from my novel “Echoes”, a thousand year old Native American vampire. He’s seen and done so much, and he still has a good heart.

If you could sequester yourself for a week somewhere and just focus on your writing, where would you go and what would the environment be like?

Trees and hills and wildlife. A cabin tucked away behind green next to a river. Nature always makes my imagination sing.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

Quiet.

What internet site do you surf to the most?

Ugh. Twitter.

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three author guests be and why?

Laurell K. Hamilton, because she shaped my mind and interests from a young age, and is in a queer poly relationship. She’s a very interesting woman, and I’ve grown to love her more and more as I’ve aged.

Drew Karpyshyn, a master of character work and action who needs to sit down and be praised by me for at least an hour straight.

Ted Chiang, because his brain works in such a vastly different way than mine, and I want to know more.  

When you got your very first manuscript acceptance letter, what was your initial reaction and who was the first person you told?

Shock. I didn’t believe it until I made others read it. It still doesn’t feel real, somehow. The first one I told was my partner, and then I sent the screenshot to all my close friends and just trembled in an excited ball on the floor.

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Author Q&A: TN Tarrant + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?

I started writing in my teens, the beginnings of what became the Hidden World series.  It had an island that doesn’t exist, aliens living on Earth and all over, and starships.  There were occasional forays into talking animals… Don’t ask me what that was about, I have no idea, lol.

Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?

I write whenever I have the chance.  Eating a meal, waiting for appointments, or, currently, after I get homework done, or when I need to take a break from the homework.  What I write varies, from new stories, fanfics, or WIPs I’ve been working for years.

Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first?  Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

I don’t use outlines, because I’ve always ended up with something other than what I outlined anyway, even with research papers.  I when I can, I like to have the TV on while writing, but not to watch something I haven’t seen yet, and want to pay attention to.  I’ll have Looney Toons cartoons, old British comedies, like Are You Being Served, Monty Python, Red Dwarf, or movies always comedies, or children’s movies.  If I’m in the mood for music, it’s always a mix, anything from Nine Inch Nails and Motley Crue to Michael Bolton and Journey. As for the writing itself, I just let it all go, and then come back later and see what it looks like after it’s had a chance to think about it for a bit.  Sometimes the story flows easily, and other times I struggle to add any words at all.

Where did the desire to write LGBT romance come from?

I don’t know.  I’d found gay romance only months beforehand, and then I lost my job and with no prospects at the time in my town because of the downturn at the time, I was looking for something to do in between job applications.  A vague idea about an alien prodigy in college became Jason’s story in the series, the first book I’ve ever actually completed, 104k in nine days. Scary what you can do when you’re unemployed, right? Then Adam, Killian, Kiran, Valerian and Nikita quickly followed, although none of them were written quite as quickly.

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

How much research depends on whatever bug is buzzing in my brain. But mostly when it comes to certain things, for instance a character in a Hidden World WIP that is asexual, I contacted someone amoung my friends who has publicly identified as asexual, and asked them to read the appropriate passages, to find out if I was presenting Olsen well, or if I needed to adjust a few things to make his character more authentic, more true to what someone who is asexual might experience. I’ll ask real live people, to try to understand better where I can.  There are things that people every day face that I won’t ever experience, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get story ideas for characters that might represent those people at least in a small way. I’ve been fortunate in that most of the people I have asked to help me make my characters more real have been willing to read stuff in the middle or answer strange questions, like what does an orgasm feel like for a man.

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Author Q&A: Hurri Cosmo + Giveaway!

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Please welcome Hurri Cosmo to The Blogger Girls! 

What is your greatest fear?  

I have a number of fears. Spiders, snakes, falling, tornadoes, driving into water, but the one that probably affects me the most in my day to day life is my fear of disappointing people. Mostly my family and people at work, like my boss. But sometimes I feel bad if I accidently cut someone off in traffic or, like the other day, panicking and pulling away from an intersection when the police were trying to get through. I was thinking they needed me out of the way when they really wanted me to just sit there and they would go around me. I felt so bad about it I wanted to follow them and explain…

What character trait do you like most in yourself?  

I believe I am kind and positive. When people ask me how I am I always tell them I am amazing. Most people in my life are used to it but it’s fun sometimes to see how saying that (very much habit now) affects other people. Like people behind the counter at the grocery store. Sometimes people grumble but most of the time they are surprised. I think most people tend to be a little more negative and sadly that has become the normal

What do you feel passionately about?

Positivity. I do not have a great memory. In fact, I have a poor one. Always have. I have learned to write things down, make lists, use calendars in my phone and on my computer. So I can’t get out there and debate stuff. But I can defend positivity like a pro. I am also passionate about faith, love in all its wonderful forms, and that everyone can choose happiness.

Follow or lead?

I am definitely a follower. I consider myself submissive. 

What are your long-term goals?  

Of course to be a better writer. I would love to do it full time.

Do you plan things out?

I am a planner for the most part. Sometimes my stories take off in directions I don’t expect but ultimately, I am still in control. As far as life? I have lists and lists of my lists. I am a planner.

What is your most treasured possession?

Other than family and friends, it’s probably my computer with all the unwritten stories still in it.

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Author Q&A: Karen Botha: Excerpt & Giveaway!

Please welcome Karen Botha to The Blogger Girls!

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

OK so now I sound like one of those beauty pageant queens wanting world peace, but seriously, if I could stop all these bitter idiots from blowing each other up just because we don’t all have the same opinions, I’d be pretty smug about that. Oh, also, all this stoning women to death kind of stuff that goes on. Nope. Not good. I’d like to be able to stop that too. Is that two powers? I could combine them surely, there’s a lot of great stuff coming out of that, I must be able to, right?

If you could trade places with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

Elliott in the Commitment series without a second thought. He’s the racing driver and racing is my passion. I love to watch the races, the run up, the interviews, I inhale the YouTube videos about developing cars and testing, about the driver market. I just love it.

So, to be able to get behind the wheel of any powerful car and take it around a track at high speed would be awesome. He’s also a nice person, so I’d be super chuffed with that.

If you could sequester yourself for a week somewhere and just focus on your writing where would you go and what would the environment be like?

I have an affinity to Norway and you’ll read about that in Commitment too (there’s a theme, maybe these characters are just part of my multiple personality.) Anyway, to be up in the mountains away from the world with awesome views would be the perfect spot for me.

What’s the one thing, you can’t live without?

My husband. If I really have to stop being so soppy and choose an object which is what I guess you mean, then I’d go with a good old bottle of Chablis.

What internet site do you surf to the most?

This makes me sound really boring, I’m sorry and a part of me thought I should perhaps think of something more interesting, but then you won’t get to know me. So, here goes; Facebook. I know, how old? It’s not even like many of my personal friends are on there much anymore, they’ve all migrated. But it’s where I hang out with my writing friends and I’m constantly learning about my craft in the forums. What can I say? It’s true!

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three author guests be and why?

I think my first one will shock you because he’s not that well known. And also because my writing is so light, but I loved Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s set in India and that country is one of my favorite places in the world, so I guess there’s a big tie there for me.

My second author would be Karin Slaughter, just because she writes a lot and always keeps me guessing which is no mean feat as my brain is fairly twisted. I didn’t realize how badly until I started writing plot twists that no-one sees coming.

Then, my final author would be a 17-year-old English chap called Lewis Hine. He wrote ‘Looking to the Stars’ which is about his fight with an incurable brain tumor and how he battles not only with the illness but with not allowing it to dominate the person he’s trying to grow into.

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Author Q&A: Karen Botha + Excerpt & Giveaway!

Please welcome Karen Botha to The Blogger Girls!

What does your family think of your writing?

My husband supports me more than I support myself to the point where he gets involved with plots, he reads everything I put out before it goes to anyone else, he also does a lot of the admin work I don’t have the time for and he manages my adverts. He’s amazing.

And his mum, who lives in South Africa is the same. She paid $85 including postage to get my first book sent out to her because she wanted to read it and doesn’t understand the kindle app on her phone. That’s when their salary out there is about $200 per week.

I’m a lucky girl.

Tell us about your current work in process and what you’ve got planned for the future.

From 3rd September I decided to launch one book a week until Christmas. The first of these was Commitment 1: Buckle Up all the way through to Commitment 6: Pole Position.

After that, Daisy from the Commitment series of books will feature in an Urban romance series called Love. The first of the series is named after her, Daisy. We’ll follow her life and understand more about what was going on in Commitment 5:Turbo Charged.

Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

Oh yes, and it’s not like I’ve made it, but what I’ve learned so far is to write what you love. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should be doing. You’re the one who has to spend limitless hours with the characters, because it’s not just about getting them down on paper, it’s also the thinking time, dreaming time, insomnia. Yep, you get it, so write in a genre that makes you happy.

Oh, and then. Get. An. Editor. A kick-ass one. Do not compromise. And no, I’m not giving you mine because I love her.

If you could travel forward or backward in time where would you go and why?

I’m sorry, this sounds smug, but I’m so happy, I don’t want to leave my life. I have a great husband, a job that pays enough whilst allowing me the flexibility to write for hours on end. And I have my rescue dog Shadow who keeps me company while I do it. Can I stay where I am please?

We’ve all got a little voyeurism in us right?  If you could be a fly on the wall during an intimate encounter between two characters, not your own, who would they be?

Well, these aren’t characters, but seeing Teresa May and Donald Trump getting it on would be hilarious. Or was that a serious question?

If I were snooping around your kitchen and looked in your refrigerator right now, what would I find?

Oops, you’ve got me. About four bottles of wine, a champagne that one of my clients bought me to celebrate the launch of Buckle Up. A pack of chicken breasts are also loitering in there that we were supposed to be using two days ago for Fajitas and didn’t. Erm, some milk. And a load of ingredient type stuff like chipotle sauce, pesto, that kind of thing because I love to cook from scratch.

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Author Q&A: Mel Gough + Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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The prized possession you value above all others…

My laptop. It’s not just the tool without which I couldn’t be a writer, it’s also where all my friends live (the real ones on social media, the imaginary ones in my stories).

The temptation you wish you could resist…

Chocolate, and pizza, and all the other really tasty things that are bad for you.

The book that holds everlasting resonance…

There are many books that have affected me in my life, but if I had to pick the one that’s stayed with me the longest it’s The Stand by Stephen King. I read that first when I was twelve and have reread it many times. I find King’s way of taking our deepest fears and weaving them into horror stories absolutely fascinating.

The film you can watch time and time again…

The Normal Heart. It tells the story of the AIDS outbreak from the point of view of a gay rights activist in New York, and it makes me bawl my eyes out no matter how many times I watch it.

The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you…

I dreamed about studying medicine and I still wish I’d had the guts to do it. I guess I’d find it a pretty hard life, and I probably romanticize it, but it still often crosses my mind, what if…

Your early recollections of writing fiction…

I wrote some pretty terrible Star Trek fanfiction when I was small (around ten or 11) and around the same time I started many fantasy and SciFi stories, none of which ever got finished.

The way you would spend your fantasy twenty-four hours, with no travel restrictions…

I think I’d finally go to New Zealand and beam myself to all the different locations from the Lord of the Rings movies.

The pet hate that makes your hackles rise…

When people are slow. Slow walkers in particular. I live in London, and it’s an obstacle course dotted with tourists just to get into the office. And seriously, standing on the right on the escalator is not a suggestion, people. If you want to piss off a Londoner, stand on the left – at your own peril (we’ll glare at you very forcefully).

The figure from history you would most like to buy a pie and a pint…

Any of the wives of Henry VIII, but especially Anne Boleyn. I’d love to know what that time was really like.

The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it…

Any crime I choose. Because I’m a writer; as long as I made it plausible I could just write myself getting away with murder.

The philosophy that underpins your life…

Pay attention to the little things. You can’t change the big things in life, but if you do your best with the little tasks the whole will look so much better.

The character you enjoyed writing the most…

It’s hard to say, I’m fond of all of my characters. I think I’d say Liam from Tainted Life. He’s the first character I ever wrote that has a sense of humor.

The character you found difficult to write…

Vivienne, from He is Mine. She’s a nasty piece of work and that really was a challenge. It was also interesting and often liberating, but my instinct is to write nice people, so I often had to go a bit over the top with her to make her different. I reined her back in during the edits, though, and I’m happy with how she turned out.

The book you enjoyed planning/writing the most…

I think it’s the one I’m writing right now. It’s M/M historical romance set in the 1950s, and all the research I have to do for it is so much fun. Also, it feels like a bigger responsibility to get it right, which is an interesting challenge.

And the promo…

He is Mine is a psychological romance novel. It has some suspense elements, and it’s quite dark in places. The story revolves around Vivienne Aubert, who is a Hollywood actress who falls in love with her colleague Damien. Damien doesn’t return her feelings, though. It’s also the story of Brad Moretti, a detective with the NYPD, who’s just coming out of a very bad breakup. He and Damien meet, which makes the whole situation messy and painful, and pushes Vivienne down a dark path.

It’s a story of fatal attraction. There’s betrayal, emotional blackmail, stalking, delusion, the works. But another strong theme is mental health, and the struggle those of us face who are caring for someone suffering from mental health issues. It wasn’t an easy book to write because those themes are close to my heart.

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Author Q&A: Laurell K. Hamilton + Giveaway!

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How did the idea for the plot of SERPENTINE come to you?

From years of reading and loving the Greek and Roman myths, but as often happens when I decide to pick something I know a lot about as my fictional jumping off point, I learned far more than expected about a topic I thought I knew pretty well. The wedding and character interplay was from the characters themselves interweaving with the mystery.

When did you know you were going to set SERPENTINE in the Florida Keys?  Did you visit the setting in order to conduct research?

I thought Serpentine was going to be a very different book set on a distant tropical island, but when Edward’s wedding was being set there he, the character, nixed that idea, and after all it was his wedding not mine. The original plot didn’t have the new form of lycanthropy in it. It had a different mystery and a different supernatural element. No, I won’t tell you what they are, because you’ll be seeing them in a later book. Yes, I visited the Florida Keys before I set the book there. I haven’t written about any place that I haven’t visited at least once, and I try for more than just that. For me as a writer I find that I always learn more if I can walk the streets, look at the sights, hear, feel, taste, touch as much of a location as possible. I know that other writers seem to do great with just book and online research, but I’m not one of them.

Did anything you discovered in doing your research for this book surprise you?

What research surprised me most? That the Florida Keys where the majority of Serpentine is set was so damn beautiful. I had no idea we had any place in the United States that was truly a tropical paradise until I drove over that first bridge and saw it stretched out before me.

What did you find most challenging about writing SERPENTINE?

Honestly, the insecurities that can haunt all writers. I thought once you hit #1 and reached a certain career success that it would go away, but there’s something about sitting down to that blank white paper/screen that invites all your personal demons to visit. It calls your muse, too, but sometimes the muse has to fight their way through the inner demons, before you can hear them.

Who was your favorite character to write in SERPENTINE?

Anita Blake, she’s been my first person viewpoint from the beginning. If I didn’t love seeing the world through her eyes I don’t think we’d be talking about number 26. I enjoyed writing Bernardo Spotted-Horse in this book. He surprised me and Anita with some new depths of character. It was great to see Edward’s family on stage again, including both kids. Peter is nineteen now so legally an adult. I liked him being more grownup and then having the things he hasn’t learned come up to bite him. I remember nineteen, it’s confusing as hell.

What do you do to celebrate when you finish writing a book?

What do I do to celebrate when I finish writing a book? Nothing. I’ve never celebrated completion of a novel. I just get to go back to my life and spend time with my friends and family who haven’t seen much of me in months.

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Author Q&A: Todd Allen Smith + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Please welcome Todd to The Blogger Girls!

Todd, if you could travel forward or backward in time, where would you go and why?

I love transportation. It would be exciting to see what we might be traveling in the future, hopefully not cars and trucks and using a hyperloop, that would be so cool.

We’ve all got a little voyeurism in us right? If you could be a fly on the wall during an intimate encounter between two characters, not your own, who would they be?

Comicbook related: Ice-Man and Spiderman

If I were snooping around your kitchen and looked in your refrigerator right now, what would I find?

Leftover spaghetti and meatballs and cranberry juice along with bagels and cream cheese.

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

I would like to have teleportation so I could go to different places easily. Have breakfast in Paris, lunch in Morocco and dinner in Hong Kong.

If you could sequester yourself for a week somewhere and just focus on your writing, where would you go and what would the environment be like?

My dream is attending a writing conference led by Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert, my memoirist writer idols.

What’s the one thing, you can’t live without?

Coffee

What Internet site do you surf to the most?

Googlemaps

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three author guests be and why?

Cheryl Strayed who wrote Wild
Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat, Pray, Love
Also, I would do Rick Steves since he writes all the travel books I read.

When you got your very first manuscript acceptance letter, what was your initial reaction and who was the first person you told?

I was ecstatic and the first person I told was my husband.

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