Interview with Author Melissa Tereze

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Who or what inspired Forget Me Not?

My Grandfather, John Charles Monaghan. I cared for him during his final years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I didn’t think I would ever write a book so close to home, or containing so much of me, but I began, and it flowed. I cried, laughed, got real angry with the world (once again) but when it was over, and I’d finished, I felt a closure I didn’t know I’d needed. Giving people an insight into myexperience with Alzheimer’s was cathartic for me and if my story helps in the tiniest way, or impacts someone else’s life who is experiencing Alzheimer’s, I can consider it a job well done.

 

I think choosing my hometown, Liverpool, helped in a big way, too. It’s such a beautiful city, and one that I’m more than familiar with, so I felt right at home during this writing process. I’m so used to writing American grammar, slang, and locations that I didn’t know how much I’d enjoy the change. I can safely say that I’ll be writing about Liverpool more often.

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Who or what inspired you to start writing?

Again, my grandfather. Or his death, rather. He died in April 2016 and I suddenly became obsessed with curling up on the couch and reading fanfiction. One day, I decided to give it a go, starting a fic of my own and wow…it took off. It became all consuming. My readers started to ask me when I was going to publish something, and naturally, I laughed. I’ve always had a terrible time with my inner critic but I’m learning how to silence her. I never in a million years imagined I would have a book out there with my name on it, or that people would pick it up and read it, but they did. Do I count my blessings? Every. Single. Day.

 

My girlfriend has been a huge support for me. She has always backed me one hundred percent in anything I’ve done, including singing and photography, but even she knew writing was where I was supposed to be. It was her who told me that writing was the only job I’ve taken seriously. When I have doubts, or I’m questioning whether I’m doing the right thing, my girlfriend gives me that push I know I need. My next book, an age gap romance, will draw on some of my experiences within my relationship. Yes, there is a significant gap, but love is love, right?

 

I also can’t forget the superb Jessica Capshaw. Without her character on Grey’s Anatomy, I never would have written my first fanfiction or gone on to release four books. Her character, over the years, gave me and so many other people a world of joy and it was through that character that I made some of the greatest friends that I have. I’ll be forever thankful to her for bringing us all together, and for showing me that the only thing I really want to do in life… is write.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

That would have to be Riley Allen from More Than A Feeling. Anyone who knows me knows that I love writing angst. I enjoyed writing Riley more than any other character for that reason alone. She was broken, hurt, consumed by insecurity… but she had that tough exterior. Deep down she was a beautiful soul who just needed someone to tell her it wouldn’t all be bad.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

Well, it usually begins with me suddenly having an idea…followed by staring at the ceiling, and awake for the entire night thinking about it. I’ll build up a basic plot and then sit down, allowing the rest to just come to me when it chooses to. I don’t often suffer from writer’s block, but I do struggle with burn out, so I’ve come to realise that writing continuously day after day doesn’t work for me. Sometimes I’ll write every day for two weeks, other times I won’t write for a month. When I do approach burn out, I step away and read a few books. That allows me to come away from my own thoughts and submerse myself in another world.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

At times, I’ll use the personality of someone I know or that I’m familiar with. I find that once my characters develop, they are so far from what I imagined them to be and they’ve completely taken on a life of their own. That’s the beauty of writing, though. You never know where the next chapter will lead. I believe that even those who plot right down to the last paragraph of a book have a turn of events they didn’t expect or plan for.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

My office at home. Having said that, I have a terrible habit of commandeering the dining table and leaving my things strewn all over it. My partner considers it my ‘man cave’. That is also why my desk is so clean and tidy…

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What is your writing process?

Sit down and write. Of course, the first draft is a very loose idea of what I want my book to look like, then I go back, fleshing it out repeatedly until it comes together as one. I’m still very new to writing and I know I still have a lot to learn, but I’m finding new things every time I sit down to write my next book.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I can’t say that it did, but I’m growing every day as a writer and I’m loving the learning process. Being an indie author gives me the freedom to play around with different elements of the writing/publishing process and I believe that is the key to enjoying it. At least, for me. There are certainly things I do now that I didn’t do during my first book and even those small accomplishments mean a lot to me. I’ve come to understand that patience is important, too. Oh, and I feel like I can relax more than I used to.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

That would have to be hiring a professional cover designer. I’ve loved every cover that has been wrapped around my books, but when I received the cover art for Forget Me Not, I may have shed a tear. Perhaps it was because the story meant so much to me, I don’t know, but that has to be the best decision I’ve made so far. That guy could have asked for the world as payment and I would have given it to him.

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

My readers, they’re wonderful. I guess the ones that stand out the most are those who have contacted me, whether through my website or via social media, to explain the difference I’ve made to their lives. I’ve had readers that have come out to their families after reading my books, and to this day, I still struggle to comprehend how I inspired someone to be so brave in what can sometimes be a cruel world.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

I can’t say one particular book has influenced my life, but Jourdyn Kelly’s work has really taken over my life. How she writes her characters, bringing them all into her books and crossing them over is fantastic. That, to me, takes commitment and a 100% knowledge of each character. I know us writers do have a good knowledge of our characters, being the ones who wrote them, but how she does it is effortless. With Jourdyn Kelly, nothing is missed.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

I’m currently in the process of writing my next book. At the moment, I have a very thin outline, but what I will say… is that it includes a very lonely woman and an escort. I need something a little more upbeat from Forget Me Not so my readers should expect the return of smut.

 

How do you take your coffee?

Too often would be the answer to that. I’m trying to cut down, though. In general, one sugar and a little milk.

Review of Forget Me Not By Melissa Tereze

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not by Melissa Tereze is different than most of the books I read for my blog. While it is a romance novel, I would say that it focuses more on overcoming grief and learning to trust again than a traditional romance. I was really pleased with how well it tackled the difficult emotions surrounding loss.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Jess Edwards’ life could be better. Six years ago, her world was turned upside down when she lost the love of her life to London. In the years that followed, she found herself preparing for the inevitability of losing her grandfather, too.

 

Word around town is that her first love is back, leading Jess to question the decisions she’s about to make, but nothing is as it seems. Jess may be known to have a heart of gold, but is she prepared to have it broken once again?

 

Amber Powell has returned home after receiving devastating news from her sister. Now within reach of her ex-girlfriend, she tries to remain invisible. Over the years, that had worked well for her, but with the potential of heartbreak just around the corner, will Amber realise that the only woman she ever needed… is standing right in front of her. A story of life, loss, and ultimately love.

 

Forget Me Not really hit home for me. My grandmother passed away two years ago from complications from dementia. I could really empathize with the grief that Jess and Amber were feeling as they dealt with the loss of their loved ones to Alzheimer. Forget Me Not mainly focuses on Jess’s coming to terms with her life after her grandfather’s death. She is struggling to get back to normal and when Amber comes back into town with a new fiancée. Jess has never forgiven Amber for hiding their relationship and ultimately leaving her.

Amber slowly realizes that she needs Jess in her life. Jess helps Amber though her mothers Alzheimer diagnosis.

 

I thought Jess ability to overcome her own pain as she relives the effects of Alzheimer was moving. It showed that she was willing to overcome her own past to help the person she loves. It was beautiful. At the beginning of the book, Jess seemed very harsh but that was because she was dealing with a lot of emotions and didn’t know how to express herself. I really enjoyed seeing her growth throughout the book.

 

The book also has a very cute dog named Beau. I’m a huge sucker for dogs in books and this book is no different.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys second chance romances.

 

Forget Me Not is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

Review of A Bittersweet Garden by Caren J. Werlinger

A Bitter Sweet Garden

Caren J. Werlinger is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her books have always shocked me by how well written they are. A Bittersweet Garden is no exception. It is a beautiful written paranormal romance that will suck you in from the very first page.

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Nora McNeill has always dreamed of exploring her Irish roots. When she finally gets the opportunity to spend a summer in the village where her grandparents grew up, the experience promises to live up to her very high expectations. Except for the ghost that is haunting her rented cottage and is soon invading her dreams.

 

Briana Devlin has arranged her life the way she likes it: a good dog, good mates, and work with horses. There’s no room in her life for a relationship. Especially with an annoyingly clumsy—and attractive—American who is only going to be around for a few months.

 

The weeks fly by, and Nora’s ghost becomes more demanding, seeking her help in solving the mystery surrounding her death. Briana watches as Nora becomes more wrapped up in the past, seeming to fade away before her eyes.

 

Past and present are on a collision course, leaving Nora and Briana caught in a ghostly intrigue that could cost them not only their chance of a future together, but their very lives.

 

A Bittersweet Garden is like nothing I have ever read before. It is a mixture of ghost story and romance novel. I was sucked into the history of the cottage and its past inhabitants. The haunting of the cottage is so interesting it really sucked me into the book. I wanted to know what had happened to the past inhabitants. But I don’t want to spoil any of the story so I will stop here.

 

The romance aspect of A Bittersweet Garden is great. Briana is the strong silent type. She might come across as hard and uncaring but that isn’t the case at all. She is just very selective about who she lets in. Nora on the other hand never really thought that she deserved love. She was used to being everyone’s second choice. When they come together their chemistry is amazing.

 

I really loved the side characters in this book. Eve is one of the most interesting characters that I have ever read. I can’t say too much about her because it would spoil the story, but she is my favorite character. As most of you know I love the addition to pets in a story and Shannon, Briana’s wolfhound, is a great addition. The way she reacts to the haunted room and protective nature make Shannon a great addition to the book.

 

The one thing I wish was different about this book is the lack of an epilogue. I think it could have really added to the book. I would have loved to know what happened to everyone at the end of the book.

 

If you are looking for steamy sexy scene this book might not be for you. The sex scenes are all fade to black. But there is some sexy build up to where there would be sex.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves paranormal romance and to anyone who likes a good ghost story.

 

You can purchase a copy of A Bittersweet Garden by clicking here.

Interview with debut author Tammy Bird

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Who or what inspired Sandman?

Sandman was inspired by a trip to the outer banks (OBX) in October. The majority of tourists were gone, and we had much of the beach and sound to ourselves. One afternoon, my wife and I stepped into one of the few local businesses that were still open: an ice cream shop. The owner was playing on his phone. I think we startled him when we entered. As we ate our ice cream cones (sprinkles for me, chocolate and peanut butter for my wife) we chatted with the owner about the end of tourist season and the quiet that settles over the sand.

He said, “Yep. Quiet enough around here in the off-season to bury a body in the dunes and never get caught.”

Just like that, Sandman was born.

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

As a kid, I worshipped my dad. He loved words. He often challenged me to look things up in the encyclopedias that were housed on my shelf in my room. Then we would talk about it over dinner. He would ask me questions like, “What do you think the children in Chile are having for dinner? Are they quiet or loud? What are their parents like?” We would build an entire story around their meal. I suspect this was the catalyst.

I also am a high school dropout who fell in love with a local community college instructor who used to come into my restaurant and ask me to read and discuss things to keep her company. At first it was weird, but I found myself looking forward to being challenged in that way. She eventually talked me into getting my GED and going back to school to earn an English degree. So, she took up the challenge where my dad left off, and I am forever thankful.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

This is a tough one. I am going to go with Paige. She trains cadaver dogs and gives them names like Derrida and Nietzsche. It is her and one of her “little nose artists,” as she calls them, that uncovers the secret burial ground of Buxton. If that isn’t cool enough, she is the character who tells the main character, Katia, like it is. No BS. Throughout the novel we witness a growing respect and friendship between the two women.

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

I am somewhere between a planner and a pantser. I like to have a rough outline of where a storyline is going, and I typically have the ending in mind when I start, but I also allow the characters to take me on a new journey if what I have planned doesn’t suit them. At the end of the process, I always compare what I intended to what happened. In the editing process I often have to rein a character or two in a little.

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

Everywhere. I am sure you hear this a lot from writers. I can be sitting in a meeting at my day job, and someone will say something in a particular way, and I think, “Oh man. That is the voice of a character.” Or, I will see a mom in a bookstore trying to read, and a small child crawling all over her. The mom keeps reading like the child isn’t even there. I think, “What if the child really wasn’t there? What is she is a child lost to another world who wants to be seen. What if whoever actually feels the child will be deemed the mother?” It goes on and on. LOL

Where is your favorite place to write?

A coffee shop. I don’t listen to music. I know, weird. I prefer words whistling by, settling on my table, rattling in the air. I don’t want to interact with them. I just want to know they are there. The people are just the vehicle for the words. It is this introverts way of being with others.

And there is coffee. Lots of coffee.

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What is your writing process?

I have a calendar reminder set for everyday at the same time. When it reminds me, I treat it like any other meeting. Sometimes I write new words. Sometimes I edit words that are already there. Sometimes I journal new ideas or write character sketches. The idea is to treat writing like a job. To be successful, you have to show up. If my boss puts something over the time-slot, I honor that, of course, and sometimes a grandkid wants to play, and I honor that, too. Otherwise, I show up and I write.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I don’t know that it changed my process. I taught me a ton. That’s for sure. Writing the first draft of a book, writing “THE END,” for the first time, is an amazing experience. It is also where the real work begins. I had no idea the work that goes into editing, negotiations, marketing, readings, etc. Going into book two I am better equipped to know what works and what doesn’t. I know the word “had” is a word I overuse and I need to search for it in my document and revise. I know that adverbs are often a weak tool and that I use them too often in my first draft. Stuff like that.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Two things come to mind. (1) Money spent on other books. Stephen King said something to the effect of, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the tools to write.” I totally agree. Not only do I read, but I study books by the masters. (2) The GCLS writing academy. I’m not sure if you want to include plugs for awesome writing academies, but this one was phenomenal. It is a year-long program where new writers learn the trade from well-established writers in the lesbian community. I actually finished the first draft of Sandman in this program.

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

I am dedicated to inclusion in my writing. As such, when someone writes a review like the one below, I am blown away:

“One of my favorite things about the characters is how three-dimensional they are. Even fairly minor characters are so realistic and believable. The amount of detail used in descriptions of the Katia’s brother, who is on the autism spectrum, is incredible. It is clear that the author is either familiar with autistic children or did a great deal of research on the subject.”

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

I was a literature major in college, so I am in love with American literature. It influenced me as a whole. Words have to taste good on my tongue for me to turn the page. Reading and dissecting the works of greats, including, but not limited to, Burroughs, Faulkner, Perkins-Gilman, Morrison, Walker, Hawthorne, Hurston, and Frost taught me that there is always a message. Regardless of what I write, I want a well-crafted message.

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

I am nearing completion on my second novel, tentatively titled, “Book of Promises.” It is a coming out story with a twist. Best friends, Katie and Tess, held hands in fourth grade and promised one another that they would never be apart. Now in high school, one of them will stop at nothing to make sure this promise is kept.

I also have an outline for the sequel to Sandman. Stay tuned for more on that.

How do you take your coffee?

Sweet and light. Iced or hot.

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Review of Sandman by Tammy Bird

Sandman

As most of you know I’m a huge fan of thrillers. When I was given the opportunity to read Sandman by Tammy Bird I jumped at the chance. I mean who doesn’t love a strong group of lesbians fighting against time to bring a serial killer to justice.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Katia Billings, EMT with the Emergency Medical Services of Buxton Beach, NC, is one of the first to respond after a hurricane rips through the small island community. As she helps search for survivors, she and her fellow responders discover a secret that will haunt Katia the rest of her life.

 

Lurking beneath the sand dunes is an evil that no one suspected.

 

A sandy grave not connected to the storm leads investigators to uncover the tomb of a serial killer, literally beneath their feet, hidden for years from the residents of the tight community.

 

For Katia, it’s personal because she knows one of the killer’s victims. She enlists help from K-9 search expert Paige, and Katia’s on-and-off lover, Zahra, in her determination to find the killer, dubbed Sandman, and stop him from killing again.

 

What small-town secrets will they unearth in their pursuit of the truth? Will the three women survive the physical, emotional, and psychological attack being waged against their small slice of sand? Or will they become the next victims of Sandman?  

 

I was drawn into Sandman from the very start. Katia is everything I love in a main character. She is cool in the face of danger and willing to do anything to help protect the ones she loves. When a hurricane rips through the Outer Banks of North Carolina Katia’s life changes forever. The woman who was like a mother to her growing up was found dead in the dunes with her throat slashed. This gruesome discovery leads the team of investigators to find several more bodies and the discovery that there was a serial killer in their small town.

 

Zahra is an investigator on the case of the Sandman serial killer. She is also Katia love interest. Before the story starts, they had fooled around a little bit but nothing serious. The case brings them closer together. I liked that the romance element didn’t overpower the thriller aspects of the book.

 

The book uses points of view from all of the characters involved. For me, this really made the book interesting. It really transformed the story into something spectacular. Marco was one of my favorite points of view. Marco is Katia’s brother and is non-verbal autistic. Marco knows who the killer is, but he struggles to communicate who the killer is.

 

What really made this book standout is that you never truly know who the Sandman is until the very end of the book. When I found out who the Sandman truly was my jaw dropped. It was such an amazing twist. It is by far my favorite book of the year so far.

 

 

I would recommend Sandman to anyone who likes mysteries and thrillers.

 

You can purchase a copy of Sandman by clicking here.

Interview with Amanda Kayhart

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Who or what inspired Shipped?

My wife and our honeymoon in the Caribbean. There’s lots of little Easter eggs in the story about her and our trip together. We celebrated our 13thwedding anniversary this month, so it was fun to reminisce about that time in our lives as I wrote it.

 

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

My high school English teacher, Mrs. Bahrenburg. She had a contagious passion and energy about writing and books and poetry. She read Mary Oliver’s Wild Geesein class (I can still hear her steady, soothing voice in my head to this day), and hypnotized me with those revered lines. Words were never just words after that. They felt supernatural, almost. And I wanted to be a part of the magic.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

I can only pick one?? But I don’t want the others to be mad at me LOL I think I’ll have to go with Avery from my first book, Running the Tides. She was the first fictional character I ever wrote, and because of that, she’ll always have a special place in my heart.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

Obsession and curiosity. I enjoy picking a setting or profession or topic that I’ll need to research. Something that fascinates me to the point I know I’ll get nerdy obsessed with, and get excited about to learn more and write about.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

I pull a lot from real life acquaintances, or people I’ve encountered in life, maybe even for a very brief period of time, who really left an impression on me.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

My answer will be probably odd, but it’s in the woods. I live in Vermont and there’s an abundance of hiking and nature trails here, and I find my best writing and plotting is done, not sitting in front of my computer, but outside where my mind can wander as freely as my feet.

 

What is your writing process?

I’m a pantser, so it’s messy and disorganized. I start with a real crappy and careless first draft, followed by several rounds of meticulous edits I obsess over until I break down and cry into bowls of ice cream. *shrugs* It seems to be working fine LOL

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I learned to relax. I was very nervous and uptight my first time around, freaking out over minor details. Now, I let the mistakes happen and not let the imperfections in a story take away from the fun of writing.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Taking writing classes. Being a part of a small writing community, and learning, not only the craft and mechanics of fiction, but also how to take and use criticism productively.

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

Olivia, one of my MCs in Running the Tides, is bisexual, and a reader thanked me for having positive bisexual rep in my story. I want my books to be, not only inclusive to all identities within the queer community, but done so in a welcoming and affirming way. Their message to me really meant a lot.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

Winter Jacket by Eliza Lentzski. It was the first lesfic book I ever read and inspired me to start writing my own stories and start my author journey.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

Fire and Water. It’s an age-gap romance set in Vermont, between a college professor and a glass blower. There’s a nice sprinkling of ice queen thrown in there too.

 

How do you take your coffee?

Preferably iced

 

Review of Shipped by Amanda Kayhart

Shipped

With the cold weather enveloping Arizona, who thought it would snow in Arizona, I thought I would escape with a little reading. Shipped by Amanda Kayhart is the perfect escape into a tropical beach vacation.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

No one understands that more than Leah Ives–a fresh college grad who spent the last several years studying, working hard, and counting pennies. So what did all that hustle earn her? A dismal day job, debt up to her eyeballs, and a Bachelor’s degree in fetching coffee.

 

Leah needs a getaway.

And luckily, she’s taking one.

 

After years of planning, Leah finally saves enough for her dream cruise in the Bahamas. Her bags are packed, and she’s ready to board that ship and sail off on a trip of a lifetime. Except all that organizing doesn’t prepare Leah for Mallory Miller, her bitter ex-girlfriend who threatens to capsize her entire Caribbean vacation.

 

Shipped is a novella that focuses on Lucy’s cruise to the Caribbean. Lucy’s vacation starts with a catastrophe. Somehow the cruise line double booked her room. They ended up moving her into a suite with another woman. The shock truly comes when Lucy finds out her roommate is no one other than her ex-girlfriend Mallory who she ghosted shortly before she started college.

 

Malloy and Lucy were uncertain how to approach their new living arrangement and ended up walking on eggshells around each other for the first part of their stay. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. It kept me wondering if they would ever be able to get over their past. One of my favorite scenes in the book was when Lucy and Malloy spent their final day on the beach.

 

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the inclusion of a gender non-conforming character. It is not often that you see trans character in books and I was pleasantly surprised by Devon’s character. I would love to see more books with trans characters.

 

There was only one thing that I thought detracted from the book. I felt that it could have used an epilog. It seemed like there could have been a more in-depth ending.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good second chance romance or to anyone who likes new adult romances.

 

Shipped is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.