• A. A. Warne

A Fantasy Christmas Anthology, Part Two

...continuing from part one.

A. A. Warne: What was that defining moment that inspired you to start writing?

Pam: I ran into the problem of developing a story as I made art, but lacking the brain capacity to remember it all. I noticed that artists friends on DeviantArt combined art with stories or made comics. That sounded like a good idea. I first wanted to get to know the six main characters of this story, so I drew them in late 2014-early 2015. Once those drawings were done, I started writing too.

Serena: I was bored while breastfeeding, and reaching for a pen and paper I wrote the first scene of my trilogy; a woman riding through the forest to a mysterious destination, to give up her child to be raised in secret for its own protection. The questions that scene raised were the beginning of the whole story. And I've continued asking and answering questions in this fantasy world ever since.

Josh: Hmmm…. It was so long ago, it’s a little hazy, but I just always loved creative fiction that pulls you in- in whatever form. My parents exposed us to a lot of books, movies, and music that inspired me as a kid. I was always writing stories as a kid in grade school- sometimes it left teachers amused or scratching their heads. I thought big and told epic tales! But I can remember being just blown away and pulled in by classical music- sitting there with these enormous headphones on listening to the auditory storytelling of something like Respighi’s Feste Romane.

Laura: I was bored in school. I would get in trouble for reading when I should have been doing math or listening to the teacher read. So I started writing. It made me look busy, and gave me an outlet.

E. S.: I get super bored, super easily, and at one point I was too broke to travel. And had too many commitments tying me down. So it was a way for me to go somewhere without leaving the house. I was reading, but it wasn’t scratching the itch, so I built my world and got caught up in it.

Deanna Young: I used to tell bedtime stories to my younger brothers when they were little. My mom told me I should write them down, so one day I tried. It was a lot harder to write a story than to simply tell it, it turned out. Although, I did manage to type up a few and force feed them to my Uncle Ryan. The only one I remember is about these immortal scientist aliens that came to earth to observe humans and got stuck here when their home planet was destroyed. As an adult, the biggest ‘spark’ was when I wrote a flash fiction story for fun and my husband told me that it was really good, and I needed to share it so other people could read it. He’s pretty reserved with his praise, so that really pushed me forward.

Michelle Crow: I always dreamt of writing a novel growing up, but never thought it would be possible. I couldn’t imagine how those talented people I read as a child rattled on for pages, though now I see how! Can I get a thank you re-writes?? I think the turning point for me was when I blasted through a few (*horrid) romance novels for clients as a ghostwriter and received very positive feedback about my writing. When my husband also approved of my writing, that really spurred me on because he’s a bit of a book-snob (@Haskell). Another reinforcement was when my soul-sister (@AAWarne) and I became co-writers. I have a pretty solid foundation now, loads of support, and that’s helped me see that I am a writer. 

A. A. Warne: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Pam: Ha, no! I thought it was boring. I used my art to bring my characters and worlds to life for years - or the other way around: my art sparked ideas for characters and worlds. At some point, the stories grew so big I couldn’t remember them and translate it all to artwork. I had to write things down.

Serena: Yes! As long as I can remember. It's been a passion for so long I don't know when it started. I was reading the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of being a writer when I was young. The ‘cons’ were spending a lot of time by yourself. I was like, that’s a ‘con’?! lol. I did stop writing as a teen, but once I wrote that first scene as an adult, nothing could stop me.

Josh: As long as I can remember, which probably goes back to about age 4, I have wanted to tell people awesome stories.

Laura: Yes. I’ve been writing since I was 13 and have never looked back.

Kieran: I originally wanted to be a paleontologist, then a film director, and then finally an author. I think the progression came from wanting more creative control over what I was doing. To be honest, I didn’t get serious about writing until going to university at 19. Now I can’t see myself doing anything else.

E. S.: Sort of. I wouldn’t have been able to put a label to it like that until recently, but I love creating things, and I love exploring different cultures and meeting lots of different people. So I guess it was inevitable.

Deanna Young: Yes. I suppose I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I mean, I didn’t really care about writing until I was eleven or so, and even then I just wanted to do it for fun, not professionally. But I’d say that the last twenty years I’ve known it was a passion I couldn’t ignore. It’s only been the last three--since my kiddos have gotten old enough to give me a bit of space--that I’ve been able to coax this craft out of hiding.

Michelle Crow: Yes, but I’ve also wanted to be: a paleontologist, archaeologist, museum curator, business owner, professional face painter, and more...I mean, seriously, the list in unending. Writing has never been boring to me though. I tend to get bored with things, but I’ve never been bored with writing. 

A. A. Warne: Are you a plotter or pantser?

Ezra: Sounds like a cop-out, but I am a “planster”. The outline is there, but as Barbossa would say, “the code is more what you'd call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”

Rose: Bit of both actually. For larger works, my writing partner and I like to have a plot timeline. That being said, this story was completely “pantsed”, the inspiration a song by Audiomachine. I will have the playlist on my Facebook page for those who want to listen. 

Serena: Both. I feel my way to the plotting I need before I begin my story; I know what “shape” the pieces I need are, and keep searching my subconscious until I find the right fit, and until the pieces mesh together. Once I have the big pieces in place, I let myself go and write about half without editing my ideas too much. From that delightful mess I trim and outline and pull it into shape, then write the rest up to the ending I’ve decided on. It’s unique but it works. I put a lot of faith in my subconscious.

Josh: I’m just going off what I assume these mean- I’m a pantser.  Just write the story- it can be rewritten, revised, reviewed, redone as much as you want after the story is on the page. So get it on the page. It’s ok to have notes and some outlines, because those do help- but don’t sacrifice your creativity by chaining yourself to strict rules and documents.

Haskell: Mostly pantser. I have a general plot, but I do not outline. This is mostly because as soon as the keystrokes begin, my characters seldom do what I planned anyway. It is like getting to know the world and characters, instead of creating them. But knowing where I am generally heading helps to add things like foreshadowing.

Laura: I’m more of planner I’ve come to learn in the past few years. I used to just sit and write without an outline. But now I find it hard to keep everything straight unless I have at least a little bit of guide to follow.

Kieran: Plotter. I write up a loose outline, so the story has a general direction to follow, but which leaves enough room to explore new ideas to a certain extent. I’ve tried pantsing but it always ends up as gibberish. Plotting seems to work out better for me.

E. S.: Plotter all the way! I see my stories in ever-increasing levels of ‘zoom’ so I see the big picture first, write that down, then look around and see what jumps out at me from there. Once I have an idea of the whole thing, then I just jump in and smash it out as fast as possible so it stays consistent.

Deanna Young: I’m a hybrid--a ‘Plantser’ they call it. I always start out with a general outline of where I want to go and the twists that I want to take place, but I don’t write a detailed outline. I let my characters take me where they will and discover things along the way. It’s the scenic route, so it takes longer, but I feel like my stories are more alive for it. I would like to plot a little more, but I never want to lose the freedom of ‘pantsing’ entirely.

Michelle Crow: I’m a pantser. I have tried to outline. As a matter of fact, I have several books/series outlined in a little notebook at the moment, but have I written those stories yet? No. It’s like I am allergic to the planning process. I like to sit down and just write, but I also know how underdeveloped it is and without direction, I sometimes lose sight of what/where I am going with my stories. So, I am trying to incorporate the outlines, but I am still struggling to work with the organization. 

A. A. Warne: Are you a world builder or character creator? (elaborate)

Ezra: I’m devoted to my characters and will transform the world for them. Mountains, seas, entire nations, and all the old gods, I will eradicate them just so Zara can prove her worth to no one other than herself.

Rose: My strength is characters. My writing partner is the world builder. For me, making characters that a reader can connect with and root for is my ultimate goal. If you  can believe they are real, then my job is done. 

Pam: Both! I think well-written characters are more important and make writing more fun, but I like to create worlds too. Especially the magic system or the geography. I’m an earth scientist. Geography is awesome.

Kieran: I love world building. Culture, history, religions, military, ecology, magic system, economy, I love reading about and figuring out those details. Good characters are obviously important, but if you don’t have a compelling setting as well, then it feels to me like they’re just walking through a cheap movie set. It definitely hurts my investment in a story.

Serena: Both! As I worldbuild and work on my plot, I develop both together, they have to be intrinsically linked to satisfy my complex writer’s brain! The character is a natural product of the environment they develop/grow up in, and the culture/world is developed to meet the needs of the characters, ie., lots of inherent conflict! I just can’t write “simple” stories; when I try they just keep getting deeper and more complicated. It’s just the writer I am.. 

Josh: Some of these characters are closing in on 40 years with me. Well ok, 35. But I think the strength of a work is engaging, identifiable characters in a compelling story. In terms of Wolfshire, over the course of time, I’ve built that world around them, but it always comes back to the characters and the relationships between them as they travel through the plots of each book. They’ve become like friends.

Laura: I’m a bit of both. I develop them in tandem, making sure they work together to make a cohesive story and world. I love the whole process of world building and spend hours on it.

E. S.: World builder, for sure. I love drawing maps - coastlines are cathartic. And then sketching out how different cultures can get sewn together to create new ones, watching their history play out and shape the current iteration in my head, seeing the rise and fall of empires. That stuff excites me. From there, I like to imagine how certain personalities would find friction against the dominant aspects of the culture they exist in, and those sometimes become characters. Like how Joan of Arc was in constant friction with France’s patriarchy, but fantasy.

Deanna Young: World Builder. That’s not to say that I don’t have some great characters that are fun to spend time with while I write, but I love writing about quirky things in other worlds. I love saying, “well, what if this character had something that could do this really cool thing, but maybe he’s forbidden to use it!” It’s so much fun to make a world with new rules, new traditions, new gadgets, new animals and new cultures. When I get to create a new world, it’s like setting a kid loose in a candy factory. I not only get to eat all the candy I want, but I have the raw ingredients to make absolutely anything I can imagine. 

Michelle Crow: Characters!! I love to doodle, but sometimes when I don’t know what I want to draw, I will just start with a dot or a line, or a shape even. I let the drawing evolve from there. Sometimes it becomes a face or a random creature, other times it is just a bunch of shapes and swirls covering a page. I approach writing somewhat the same way. In my head, I imagine a character. I give them features, conflict, and personality. The rest just builds around them. 

A. A. Warne: Lots of writers talk about writing tools. What are your tools of the writing trade?

Ezra: I have sold my soul to Scrivener, but ideas come best to me in none other than the old fashioned pen and paper. I’ve written entire chapters by hand in a frenzy and then typed them after the fact.

Rose: I use many tools, my laptop, my ipad, my phone. We like Google Docs and Scrivener. I use notebooks and hoard pens like it’s nobody’s business. Doesn’t matter where I am, I have something I can use to write.

Pam: Without Scrivener, I would have quit. I try to keep as much in one document as I can, otherwise things get lost. Word didn’t like that, haha! I’m probably also the only one here who uses QGIS. It’s a program to make maps, georeferenced and all. I love maps. I need maps. I also need coordinates and accurate distances. I love it. That said, the program has a very steep learning curve. I only recommend it if you are as desperate as I am.

Serena: Scrivener writing program on my laptop is the best, but for getting ideas down there’s nothing like a pen and paper-- especially because you can take it up a tree! I have to admit to hoarding notebooks, and I have quite a post-it collection too.

Josh: I just use either my laptop or desktop machine, MS Word, and…. Tell a story! The internet has become pretty valuable for research and music, but I don’t find that I need much else to help me tell a story. 

Haskell: I have lived. As much as possible. I have worked in any career I have been interested in, and studied the ones I was interested in but not willing to do. It is said that it is best to write what you know, so I try to experience enough that I can.

Laura: I recently found Scrivener and love it. That being said, I write my first draft with the good old pen and paper. I have a hoard of pens and notebooks I need to use before I’m allowed to get any more.

Kieran: Mostly just my laptop. I have some notebooks and sketchbooks which I use to flesh out ideas and do concept art, as well. Recently I’ve been using the notes app on my iPad to write while out and about, as well.

E. S.: Nothing fancy for me - OpenOffice and GoogleDocs are my friends, everything else is too involved. GDocs is on my phone too so mostly that, just for ease of use while I’m not at the computer.

Deanna Young: Writing friends. Of all the amazing tools at my disposal, other than the modern word processor/laptop, having writing friends is probably the most beneficial ‘asset’ I’ve acquired. Within these groups of friends there is a collective knowledge that I couldn’t ever acquire on my own. These people have offered me encouragement when I needed it most, gentle corrections when I couldn’t see the forest for the trees, and a sense of belonging that I didn’t know I needed before I found them. This circle of amazing people gets bigger and bigger every year.  Writing conferences and my ever growing collection of writing craft books are among my other favorite tools. You can never have too many craft books. 

Michelle Crow: #1 COFFEE. 

A. A. Warne: What is the most exciting thing you’ve learned while creating books?

Rose: That it’s ok to always learn new things. To know that the greats were learning just like me, with every word, sentence and story they write. To stop learning is to stagnate as a writer and creator.    

Josh: That one of the most rewarding things in life is to know that something you created from your own mind has an emotional effect on someone who reads it.  I have one main beta reader for my stuff, and I can remember her reading a really emotionally charged installment of the Wolfshire series. Very climactic sort of stuff. But it still makes me smile to this day that I knew when she had reached a certain part of the book. I was in a different room, and I suddenly just heard “Oh…. OH! You son of a bitch!” It was hard not to laugh- I knew exactly what she’d read, and she told me later that part of the book had her in tears. She said it made the end of the book that much better.    

E. S.: That no matter where I am or how I feel, progress is inevitable. Even if I sat and did absolutely nothing for a year, the world would be different, the people around me would be different, and I would be too. It’s equal parts terrifying and comforting, which, to me, means exciting.

Deanna Young: It’s been exciting to see how quickly my writing skills and style have advanced and changed through the relatively short time I’ve been actively writing. There are moments when I make myself laugh while I’m writing, and cry. Who knew that writers could get that attached to their characters and stories? 

Michelle Crow: It sounds silly, but simply that I can. 

A. A. Warne: Where do you get your inspiration from?

Ezra: Gothic literature in general is a mainstay of my repertoire, but Edgar Allan Poe is the cornerstone of my inner world. Horror and macabre without the gore and nihilism of grimdark is what I aspire to.

Rose: My inspiration can come from anywhere. A snippet of a song, an image, a scene or scenario in a movie. My characters are creatures with their own agenda, so you never know what’s going to happen.

Pam: Everything! Like, the inspiration for my story for this anthology came from a tree I saw on a walk. It was a pine tree tied to ground stakes. I suppose it was done to make it grow straight, but my brain turned it into a naughty tree that was tied down to prevent it from running away. Good ideas do tend to come at moments when I’m unable to write them down, though.

Kieran: History, culture, music, art, and nature are the big ones for me. I especially love old European architecture and folklore, metal music, and military history. Lately I’ve been on a kick of weird/creepy internet stuff as well, though that’s being saved for other projects.

Serena: I get endless inspiration from exploring our Middle Earth. New Zealand has such fantastic landscapes that inspiration is never far away. I especially love exploring forests- my favorite places on earth!  I also find listening to epic music while driving, such as One Step from Hell, gives me heaps of epic ideas.

Josh: Inspiration and influences are many in my world- I grew up with such a rich appreciation for movies, books, art, music, that it all kind of hovers around, and at times I’ve been able to note a definite influence in something. But it’s a pretty big span of things that inspires me to create, and it’s always growing. I grew up in the dawn of the summer

blockbusters, and those had a pretty big impact on my life as an artist. 

Laura: Everything is my inspiration. Music, videos, mother nature, anything. I’ve even had ideas come to me from the mundane retail work environment.

E. S.: I don’t know that I get inspired, per se. As I mentioned earlier, writing is quite a mechanical process for me, so I don’t pay much attention to how I’m feeling when I do it. 

Deanna Young: Ideas come to me in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it starts with a call for stories on a certain subject (like this one). I’ll mull it over and play with the subject until something speaks to me. Other times I’ll be watching a movie and wonder what would have happened if just a few elements were changed. Minor decisions or character changes, or even settings can move a story in a completely different direction. My futuristic fairy tale retellings were born this way. Also my sister Annette, who is an author herself, throws ideas around with me all the time. She’s incredibly creative. Once in a while an idea will find me. Like a train on a collision course, slamming into me when I’m least expecting it. 

Michelle Crow: That depends on what I am writing. If I am writing romance, I might draw inspiration from other romance novels, movies, or just people-watching. When I was developing my current scifi-fantasy, space-fearing witch series (one of those totally outlined and just waiting for me to write), I realized there was a little dash of Firefly, a touch of Indiana Jones, and a hint of magic mixed in. So, I guess I just draw inspiration from all around me. 

A. A. Warne: What do you get up to when you’re not writing?

Ezra: An architect by profession, art and design is my world. Even in downtime, I consume all sorts of media relating to it. For instance, Marie Kondo should be included as one of Marvel’s Avengers...As noted before, I am also a rabid Hallyu fan.

Rose: My dayjob is a Customer Service Coordinator for a veterinary office. I am a huge animal lover and advocate. I also babysit my writing partner’s son, a great job in and of itself. I also read and watch anime while creating art of other varieties.

Pam: I’m looking for a new job at the moment I’m writing this, hopefully in the field of coastal research, GIS (Geographic Information System. Call it “mapmaking”), or archaeology. I’m an artist in my free time and make book covers as a side income. I practice archery and juggling too, and craft costumes. 

Serena: I make art, parent and teach my three girls, drive our housetruck all around Middle Earth, grow and train my bonsai, and do a variety of work where we find ourselves, from building to landscaping!

Josh: Well of course there’s the boring mundane stuff- I gotta pay bills. But I have a small property in the country with chickens and horses that takes a lot of work to keep up. I make films with my brother and some friends, and have done that only slightly less time than I’ve written. I play guitar, and I have very much come to love that. I have tons of songs written that of course- like publishing books- I should record. I also paint and draw, and waste time on the internet.

Laura: I work as sales associate at a retail store to pay bills. Aside from that, I spend my days being creative, whether it’s by painting, drawing, crocheting, or playing the piano.

E. S.: These days I mostly just sleep. I paint and code websites in around housework, writing and sleeping. Pretty tedious, if I’m honest. But I have confidence that will change. No thing lasts forever, after all.

Deanna Young: Being a mom of four keeps me pretty busy when I’m not writing. I love taking road trips whenever I can. Exploring the world and experiencing new things feeds my soul in a way that few other things can. In the summer I love to garden and eat fresh salsa by the tub-full. And, of course I love to read. I devour books in any form I can get them, from all different genres.   

Michelle Crow: Well, I’m a mom to three (6, 5, and 2) little monsters, a college professor (English Composition but the remedial version), bibliophile who is constantly reading five+ books at a time, and an avid gamer. So, my plate is overflowing.

A. A. Warne: Any advice for readers?

Serena: Read widely. Give different writers a ‘chance.’ You don’t know what amazing influences you might miss out on if you don’t try different books. I found Pride and Prejudice hard to get into, with it’s old fashioned style, but I came to love it, and all her books. Jane Austen has had an immeasurable positive impact on me. I’m glad I persevered.

The flip side of that is don’t waste time on books you really don’t like, [after giving them a fair trial]. Life is too short to read books you don’t like, just because others liked it.

Josh: Don’t base your opinion- or form it- off of anything you read from the internet. Read books and stories, and form your own opinions, and don’t let anyone sway you from them. If you liked a certain book but people are telling you it’s crap- don’t suddenly agree with them if you don’t actually agree with them. Also, just relax and enjoy when you read- our society has become this over-thinking, hyper-analytical thing that seems to have disdain for just enjoying something for what it is. Read for fun!

E. S.: You will regret not trying something more than you will regret finding something is not for you - and if something is not for you, that’s okay! Even if everyone around you loves it, you don’t have to love it too. 

Deanna Young: I’ve never thought of needing to give advice to readers before. I guess I’d recommend trying new things. Join a bookclub. If there isn’t one in your area, start one. It’s pretty easy to keep going once it’s set up. By doing so you’ll find books you love that you would’ve never thought of trying before. Some of my all time favorite books have been bookclub recommendations. On the flip side of that, don’t be afraid to put a book down if you’ve given it a fair chance and it’s just not for you. It took me far too long to figure this out and I wasted a lot of time being miserable while persevering through a mediocre book when I could have gone on to something more enjoyable. Life is too short and there are too many great books out there to waste your time like that. Your idea of mediocre or outstanding will be different than someone else’s, and that’s okay. Just because ‘everyone’ else likes the book, or hates it doesn’t mean you will feel the same way.  

Michelle Crow: Read what you love. If you don’t love it, that’s fine, don’t read it. When it comes to supporting writers, leave a review. Not all bad reviews are actually ‘bad’. A lot of times those reviews are somewhat insightful and can really help a writer navigate their trouble areas. If you loved a book, review it! However, if you ordered a book through Amazon, and received a poor condition copy, please don’t leave a bad review on the book because of the condition. The review on Amazon isn’t about the customer service you received through Amazon (there are other channels for that), it’s a place for you to leave either praise or criticism for the author of the book you received, and for the work they put into the book, the story, the characters, the blood sweat and tears, and the awful hours spent publishing/marketing, and more. 

A. A. Warne: Any advice for writers?

Rose: Just start. Overthinking is the mind killer. You can always edit or rewrite, but the only way to finish a draft is to start writing.

Pam: I did writing research and followed courses as I wrote my first stories. That helped me a lot. However, some tips and tricks worked better for me than others. There is no perfect writing advice. You just have to try things and see if they work for you.

Serena: Write regularly, even if it’s just to journal; it will improve your craft. Read as much as you can, even outside ‘your’ genre. Explore themes and things that you love, find fun or exciting. If you dig down into what you love best in what you read, you will write a book you adore that others can love too.

Josh: Much like my advice for readers- just write, and write what you want to write. Write often, and really enjoy yourself. It’s not necessary to please the whole world with what you write- your stories may just be for you. That’s ok. Don’t fret over the minutia at the expense of your story, and don’t take anything from the internet too seriously. If you’re new to writing, just write. Don’t be afraid on your own to study some stuff you found boring in high school, too, like grammar and spelling.  

E. S.: Find your writing tribe. Writing can be such a solitary pursuit, but if it’s a big part of your life, you will appreciate those people around you that you can share it with. Even if it’s only one or two people. And not everyone will be capable of sharing it with you, and that’s okay, especially if they still support you, but those writing buddies are worth their weight in gold.

Deanna Young: Don’t be so arrogant that you can’t accept that some people actually know better than you. You can be super talented and still get things wrong from time to time. I’ve met many writers who ask for help, but then get defensive when someone points out that they are doing something that doesn’t work. Listen to your beta-readers, editors, and friends. There is always more to learn. You WILL make mistakes, it’s part of the journey. But if you’re flexible and can learn from what others are trying to teach you, then you’ll become an amazing writer in no time. Also, give back. When you’ve learned something, share that knowledge, encourage others. Every writer starts out with nothing more than a passion to create stories. We all need direction and someone to guide us through this journey. There’s a lot to learn. To go along with that, don’t be discouraged by the skill or success of someone who has been writing for decades. Lastly, go read the quote by Ira Glass on the writing gap. It’s a good one. Google it.   

Michelle Crow: No matter how introverted you are, go out and find your #CastleRogue. The support and bonds you will find when you connect with other writers is incredible. And even when you feel like the worst writer on the planet, keep writing. It only gets better with pracitce. 

A. A. Warne: What was the highlight for writing your piece for the anthology?

Ezra: I have been dying to write scenes with The Sentinels. Up until Zara and Zaiyel’s

encounter in “Half Chained”, I had only written one scene with them. All I can say is that Zaiyel is forever terrified by the event and his second run in with them is harrowing.

Rose: *scratches head* Highlight… Well, I love finding out more about my characters. Some of Nicholai’s trauma was unknown until this story was written, and threaded his story further into the timeline of the Dark Melodies series that we are working on.

Pam: For the first time ever, I knew the ending without needing to brainstorm for days about it. Woohoo!

Serena: It was so much fun writing about Taramon outside of the events of the Talandon Trilogy.  You get to meet his unicorn friend, Zannar, and I loved describing his forest city from his point of view. 

Josh: I think it was just that rabid pace from when I asked if there was still time to get piece done for it, to completing that draft. It happened so quickly, but I was loving the creation of the whole setting, characters, and story. I had this sense the whole time I was writing it that I wanted to know more and see more of this place, and these characters. I think we will.

Laura: I think for me, it was finishing something. I have a hard time knowing when to stop and say something is as done as I can get it. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve never finished anything. It has been a fun experience.

E. S.: I really enjoyed writing something not quite so life-or-death. The stakes are still high, but in a different way than my other stories, and it was interesting seeing how well I took to writing more emotional things versus my usual action, adventure, dark magic and twisted interpersonal dynamics.

Deanna Young: It was different to write a more goofy piece. I like to have funny moments in all of my stories, but this one had more than its fair share. At least they made me laugh. One of the characters was simply a hoot to write. She stole the show more than once, and I just couldn’t stop her. 

Michelle Crow: I was in a bit of a writing slump when the anthology was presented. It gave me the opportunity to break back into writing and for the first time in about a year, writing came easily and naturally again. Also, I love working with Tink. She’s crazy. 

A. A. Warne: Tell us your funniest Christmas moment.

Serena: True story; two Christmases running, we came home to find soot all over the carpet,

trailing from the chimney all over the lounge and around the Christmas tree. But the second Christmas this happened mum found the culprit. She went to close the curtains in the dark of evening, when her hand touched fur. It was a black bush-tailed possum.The Santa-possum screeched and gave her a huge fright! Lol. In New Zealand, it’s summer at Christmas time you see, and not uncommon for Possums to sleep in chimneys! Funnily enough, the only times they fell down our chimney were those two Christmases! After this, jokes about Santa-possums abounded. 

Josh: A funny Christmas moment for me was last December 8th, I was doing a Concert at my place, of comey holiday/winter songs I’ve written. I had assumed that in my outdoor building, we could run heaters and it would be ok, but… playing guitar in cold weather is difficult at best, but often impossible. So someone kept reheating and bringing me these hand-warmers, which were just uncooked rice inside of fabric. But it became a joke between songs where this friend of mine would ask me which menu item off the Chinese restaurant I had, because the hand-warmers smelled like… rice.  So for the next song, “This one’s a number two, with dumplings…” We ended up finishing the concert inside my house.

E. S.: I don’t have many. When my daughter was younger, my brother and I used to wear a Santa hat each and get drunk on Christmas Eve while wrapping presents, then eat a lot of celery and crab dip the next day. Not so much funny as a weird little tradition. There was often a lot of muffled laughter throughout the evening, though.

Deanna Young: Funniest Christmas moment? I’m sure there are others, but the one that comes to mind is when my son was about four years old we went to a local church to visit Santa and Mrs Claus. While waiting in line with my two-year-old and baby I realized my four-year-old was gone. He was no where in the room with all the other kids, and he wasn’t hiding under the tables. I went into panic mode and soon the entire crowd was searching for him. A few minutes goes by and no one has found him. I had my phone out, ready to call 9-1-1, when a couple of teenagers come through the doors with him in tow. They found him outside trying to get on the roof of the church so he could pet Santa’s reindeer. Logically, if Santa was there, he would’ve brought his deer too. Trevor wasn’t interested in the jolly Fatman, he wanted to “maybe ride a reindeer.” I can’t say I blame him. It was a good idea. 

Michelle Crow: We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but we did celebrate the mess out of Christmas. One year, I collected all the pennies I could find into one 32 oz. plastic cup. For whatever reason, which I can’t remember since I was like 4 or 5, I had that cup in hand when I crashed on the couch on Christmas Eve. I guess I wanted to give Santa money??? A buttload of pennies for some odd reason? Anyways, when I woke up the next morning I was covered in the coins. They’d spilled all over me, the floor, and the couch. 

A. A. Warne: What are you working on right now? And when can we read it?

Ezra: I’m am working through what might be the last round of edits for my debut novel, The Harvest Ring. Add in time for me to draw character artwork and purchase marketing materials, I’m looking forward to a Halloween 2020 release.

Rose: We are currently working on finishing final edits a novella we want to release mid-spring 2020 and the timelines for the four book Dark Melodies series. Both of these works fall in the same universe that “Faded Photograph” falls in. For more info, follow us on Facebook, and Instagram.

Pam: I’m working on my big, fat, fantasy trilogy, “a State of Equilibrium”. With a bit of luck, I might be able to publish it this century! For now, you’ll have to do with just the prologue. If you go to my site, you can find a link to it. Somewhere...

Kieran: I’m currently writing the first draft of a sci-fi thriller/road trip drama about a strange woman on the run across Canada. Very different from what I normally write, which makes it pretty exciting. Not sure about a release date yet, as it’s still early days.

Serena: I’m working on my trilogy as a whole, to fix some naughty plot-holes that snuck in there. I will be releasing the first book, The Oath and the Blade, shortly. 

Josh: Right now, I have about seven things in line for publishing, once I have some more of the nuts and bolts handled, which include the first Wolfshire book, “Dawn of Heroes”, as well as some horror projects. The revision of the second Wolfshire book, “Evil in the Shadows”, is not far behind. I wish I could give dates.  SOON!

Haskell: A fantasy book about a hostile takeover of a kingdom, it is designed to be a trilogy. A sci fi about a renegade planet. A book about a prince and a thief, I mean she’s not a thief. And possibly a modern Rom-Fantasy about an Ifirit, if Michelle doesn’t work on it.

Laura: I’m currently working on my Defender series. As of right now, I have no definitive

dates of when I’ll be done. Five years. Maybe? We’ll see how long it takes me to get it done.

E. S.: Currently I’m in the self-editing stage of Book II of the Bloodsong series. With a bit of

luck, it’ll be out around the same time as Book I came out but next year, so August 2020.

Deanna Young:  I’m working on an Epic Fantasy story that takes place on another world. The main character was denied entry into the afterlife and lives as a perfected being in a life somewhere between life and death. She’s not a zombie. It’s more complicated than that, but I don’t want to give too much away. I’m hoping to have it ready to pitch to editors and agents in May. Best case scenario, it could be out by fall 2021. It takes a long time to get a full novel to production. I’m sure I’ll do other small projects between now and then though. 

Michelle Crow: I guess a modern romance about an Ifirit (@Haskell), after I finish this other romcom :). At the moment, I’m trying to knock out a little romcom novella. It opens with Lacey Harris attempting to steal a cow (she’s an animal activist and she’s rich) to ‘liberate’ it from its dairy shackles and she is given a 24/7 police escort, Archer Williams,  to keep her in line so she doesn’t sully the Harris family name further. It will definitely be an enemies to lovers shindig. If all goes well, you can read it summer 2020. As for my other various projects, who knows when I will complete them *nervous chuckle and shrug.

A. A. Warne: Thank you so much! That was a blast!

Ezra: I had a terrific time writing “Half Chained”, so you deserve a greater thanks for the

opportunity to talk about it!

Rose: Thank you! It has been a true pleasure being a part of this project and working with such incredible people. I hope to do many more with you in the future.

Pam: It was great working on this, and on the cover too! Thank you for this opportunity!

Kieran: Thanks, I’m happy for the opportunity! 

Josh: Thank YOU- I was glad to sneak in there at the end, and still be able to contribute to what I’m sure is going to be a really amazing anthology, written by some wonderful folks!

Laura: Thank you for this opportunity. It’s been a great adventure doing this and I hope to work with you again in the future.

E. S.: And thank you for the awesome chats, as always. 

Deanna Young: Thank you! I’m so glad I bit the bullet and joined this anthology at the last minute. This story deserved to be put out there in the world, and I’m glad it found a home in this collection. 

Michelle Crow: And thank you for orchestrating all of this you crazy woman. 

A. A. Warne: Can you tell everyone how we can find you? (EG - Name: social media links or website.)

Ezra: I’m on most social media sites under the username Sarifael, but I’m definitely most active on instagram!

Rose: Elvenbloodhound is the way to find me on most social media. Named for my strongest (and most annoying) muse, the elf, Thannor.

R. A. Darlinge (@ElvenBloodhound) | Twitter

Pam: is my site, but it will bring you to my social media accounts and shop (for art and book covers) too. You can recognise me by my internet alias, Queen of Eagles.

Kieran: I’m most active on Twitter, but I also have an Instagram and an author page on Facebook.

Josh: You can frequently find me at the Hitchin’ Post bar and grill in Bevington, IA, but I’m also findable on social media and the internet here:

Instagram, as @joshb3b

And specifically for my writing, here’s the FB page for Wolfshire Books

Haskell: No.

Laura: You can find me on Facebook and Twitter here:

E. S.: I’m not very active on social media, but I have a couple mainly for book-related art and stuff.



Deanna Young: You can find me on Facebook under Author Deanna Young, on Instagram @author_deannayoung, or follow me on Amazon . I hope you love my story and look forward to sharing many more with you in the future.  

Michelle Crow:

Twitter: @BM_Crow



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