Category : Spotlight Week

Chronos Files Giveaway Winners

Last October, the spotlight was on Author Rysa Walker and her awesome time travel novels  TIMEBOUND, TIME’S ECHO  &  TIME’S EDGE (BOOKS FROM THE CHRONOS FILES SERIES). Now it’s my pleasure to announce the winner of last October’s Spotlight Week Giveaway.

Congrats to the following folks!


Mandy P. , for winning One signed copy of Timebound (The Chronos Files Book 1)



Bri Wignal for winning one signed copy of Time’s Edge (The Chronos Files Book 2)

 time's edge


Shelby for winning e-book copies of Timebound (The Chronos Files Book 1)
& Time’s Edge (The Chronos Files Book 2)

 times edge timebound kindle

Preston Leigh for winning an ebook copy of the Time’s Echo: A CHRONOS Files Novella (The Chronos Files)

Brian Curtis, for winning an ebook copy of the Time’s Echo: A CHRONOS Files Novella (The Chronos Files)


time's echo









I’ll email you in a few minutes to give you instructions on how to claim your prize.

In the meantime, I’d like to wish everyone a happy, fun weekend!

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Spotlight Week Giveaway: FAMINE

This week the Spotlight was on Monica Enderle Pierce and her cool historical novel, FAMINE: BOOK ONE OF THE APOCALYPTICS.


If you want to know more about FAMINE, you can read my BOOK REVIEW HERE.



As usual, I’m ending our Spotlight Week with a giveaway.

 Generous as always, Monica has agreed to give away the following awesome prizes:

Famine Prize Pack

To enter the contest, tell me  why you’d like to win the book

I’ll put all your names in my magical drawing box and pick the winner.

I love encouraging people to unleash their imaginative and creative sides, so the more creative your answers are, the more chances you have of winning. If your comment/answer tickles my fancy, I’ll add another slip of paper (or two) with your name on it to my drawing box.

Also, if you tweet about this giveaway, or share it on Facebook, I’ll add more 2 slips of papers with your name on it.

AND if you FOLLOW ME on Linky OR on Facebook’s networked blogs, I’ll add 6 more entries with your name into the drawing bowl.

The contest is international and will run until December 19, 2014.

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I’m always on the hunt a good read and always up for supporting indie authors. So when I heard that a fellow SCBWI board member’s daughter had independently published her adult historical fantasy novel, I asked for an email introduction right away.

Monica was gracious and happy to connect. She very kindly sent me a copy of her book for review, along with a postcard from the time period of her book’s setting. She also set up a very generous giveaway for the Friday portion of our Spotlight Week, which I’m sure all readers will be excited about.

Without further delay, I present the author of THE APOCALYPTICS series, Monica Enderle Pierce.




The Generous Monica Enderle Pierce

1. Tell us three random, unique, or weird facts about yourself.

a. I know how to juggle, though not very well.

b. I have one less vertebra than most people.

c. I laughed for 30 minutes straight after my wisdom teeth were removed. (My brother, who’d had his teeth removed that day too, did not find the experience as amusing.)


2. When did you know you were going to be a writer? What prompted you to take your writing seriously?


As you know, my mother is a published children’s author, so writing was always a part of my life. However it was a struggle for me until my daughter was born. Then something just clicked. The fact that I’m pretty good at writing and have produced something that my child can inherit prompted me to pursue this as a career rather than a hobby.


3. THE APOCALYPTICS SERIES is essentially about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the important characters who stand in their way. What inspired you to write this story? Did you always know it would be a series?


Originally conceived as vampire fiction, I switched gears after two full rewrites still left me feeling dissatisfied with the book. I wanted something different, unusual. So I started looking at alternate mythologies. The Four Horsemen was an “ah-ha!” moment. Yes, it was always meant to be a series, even in its earliest versions.


4. FAMINE: BOOK ONE OF THE APOCALYPTICS, is set in the late 1800’s, when the Victorian was giving way to the Edwardian era. How did you go about researching this historical period?


Many, many sources. Wikipedia, the local library, historical resource books, online historical map collections, historical groups. (You wouldn’t believe how many types of horse carriages existed.) Pinterest is a great resource for visual material and can lead to subject matter experts. The one resource I didn’t use (surprisingly) was the Bible; I didn’t want to become locked into someone else’s interpretation of the Horsemen.


5. Your main character Bartholomew Pelletier is a fifteen-century old Roman centurion, and his nemesis is Famine, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. How did you come up with your very intriguing cast of characters?


Bartholomew has been in my head for a long time, but I can’t really say where he came from. Placing his age was tricky, but he’s always seemed timeless to me. Once I’d settled on the Four Horsemen, the idea of making Famine raised too many opportunities for conflict with Bartholomew to be passed up. I love including unexpected elements in my books, and she certainly fits that bill.


6. Some of your chapters begin with old Western Union Telegraphs, which are supposed to be messages from Bartholomew’s allies. What was the inspiration behind these old time telegraphs and why did you decide to use them for your book?


The telegraphs were a last-minute addition and serve as a framework both for the passage of time and the movement of Famine and her cronies. I opted for telegraphs because they’re emblematic of the turn of the century. They harken to a time when communication was slow and imprecise. (And that helps build tension.)


7. Did you employ any particular techniques or methods in order to make the action sequences and training scenes in your book more realistic and visual?


Absolutely. (I love writing action/fight scenes!) I watched krav maga training videos for hand-to-hand combat reference, video demonstrations of Balearic slingers to understand how that weapon is handled, consulted a group of gun owners and enthusiasts for information on early Colt pistols, and studied reports of Roman warfare, weapons, and tactics to get a feel for how Bartholomew thinks and moves in combat. (Thanks to Youtube I can watch footage repeatedly to get moves and pacing right.)


8. If your series was optioned for film, which scene from FAMINE would you be most interested in seeing live on the big screen?


Oh, that’s impossible! Bartholomew catching the Overland Express? No, wait. The earthquake. Or crashing through the Sutro Baths glass roof? Maybe meeting Famine in the woods for the first time? Ack! Can’t decide!


9. Tell us about your path to publication. What would you say are the pros and cons of being an indie author?


I chose to self-publish my first novel, Girl Under Glass, because I knew a majority of the marketing would fall on my shoulders whether I went traditional or indie. And because I’m a control freak. The pro of self-publishing is total control of your product from start to finish. That’s also a con because you’re not just writing, you’re producing the book — procuring vendors (editors, designers, etc.), choosing distribution, setting price, choosing formats (and often doing the formatting, too), and then marketing and handling PR. All the production and marketing steps are necessary evils and take away from your writing/creating time. On the other hand, self-published authors keep a much higher percentage of their earnings that their traditionally published counterparts. I know many authors making a good living from sales of their self-published books. (I’m not there yet, but I plan to be.)


10. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?


I’m not very ritualistic when it comes to writing time; the only thing I require is relative quiet. Typically, I write in the day while my daughter is at school then take the afternoon and evening off to spend time with family, run errands, and do housework then I’ll return to work on my writing at night after she and my husband have gone to bed. (I’m trying to break out of the 1am bedtime habit. Five hours of sleep per night just isn’t sustainable.) On the weekends, I’ll often do ten to twelve-hour marathons on Saturday while my daughter and husband have “Daddy Day”. Sundays are reserved for family time and I only work if I’m on a deadline.


11. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies, sports, or crafts you like to spend time on?


Spending time with my family is the priority when I’m not writing. We love movies, reading, and going out for walks with our dog.


12. Are you a plotter or pantser? Are there any specific writing tools (books, software, a specific pen ) you use to work on your novels?


Both! I’m a plotster. I have a general idea of the beginning, middle, and end of a book and major plot points when I begin. Then I start writing and let it all flow. (I usually deviate from the original points, but I get where I need to go and, often, following a much more interesting route!)


13. Are you currently working on any other projects?


Several. I’ve been struggling with the sequel to my first novel (Girl Under Glass) and finally feel that I’ve broken through the roadblocks with that book. I’m about to release a new short story as part of that series (the Glass and Iron Series). I’m working on a fantasy/adventure short story to be included in an anthology which I was invited to contribute (very exciting!). I’m in the early stages on Death, the second book in the Apocalyptics Series. And I’m developing a short story (or two or three) to support that series, as well.


14. What tips or techniques can you give writers who wish to write in the Historical Fantasy Genre? How about writers who wish to write a series?


Like all historical fiction, accuracy is important, unless you enjoy being called out by readers. Take the time to research and do so deeply; all aspects of society will impact your setting and your characters’ interactions. However, the wonderful thing about historical fantasy is that the fantasy aspect permits you to take liberties. Knowing your historical period will allow you to bend and break the rules in ways that can further both plot and characterization. And that’s where the fun really begins.


15. What advice would you like to give to writers on the road to publication? What advice would you give to writers who wish to follow the indie path?


Don’t compare your path to other authors’. This is your journey and you cannot get to your destination by following in someone else’s footsteps. Nor should you compare your successes and failures to others’.


Pay for an editor and don’t be cheap. Same with a cover designer. (Poor quality in either aspect will kill your sales.)


Remember that writing is a long-tail process. The more good work you have on the market, the more chances readers have of finding you.






Thank you, Monica for sharing your wisdom with us!

Tune in this Friday, as we end our Spotlight Week with a FAMINE GIVEAWAY!

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This month’s Spotlight Week features FAMINE: BOOK ONE OF THE APOCALYPTICS by author Monica Enderle Pierce.




Famine: Book One of The Apocalyptics (Volume 1)

410 Pages, Paperback

Genre: Adult Historical Fantasy

Published on March 11, 2014 by Stalking Fiction

ISBN-10: 0985976128

ISBN-13: 978-0985976125


First Line

Caught in maelstrom of black feathers and beady eyes, Bartholomew tugged down his top hat and turned up his coat collar to a murder of crows’ sharp talons and beaks. 



The fate of every soul rests upon his shoulders. His fate rests in the hands of a troubled, young girl

It’s 1895 — the cusp of the Victorian and Edwardian eras — and Bartholomew Pelletier is a gentleman and a warrior. For fifteen centuries he’s endured the depraved appetite of Famine — one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — as she’s consumed his strength and sought to unite with her fellow Horsemen. But now Bartholomew’s chance to imprison her has appeared…in the form of his young ward Matilde.

Chosen to wield the immeasurable power of the Catcher — the one entity that can capture the escaped Horsemen — Matilde is a distrustful child from an abusive and impoverished home. She must be hidden from Famine as she grows strong, learns to fight, and reaches adulthood. But Bartholomew faces a terrible act: For Matilde to become the immortal Catcher, he must gain her trust, and then he must end her life.

By any means necessary, Bartholomew intends to conquer this enemy, but is he willing to sacrifice the one person he loves in order to save mankind?

FAMINE is the first novel in a four-book, historical fantasy series. It contains graphic violence, strong language, and sexual content and is intended for mature readers.


My Review

One of the things I look for when reading a historical fantasy novel is the author’s ability to describe the historical period accurately and organically. Author Monica Enderle Pierce does this artfully in FAMINE: BOOK ONE OF THE APOCALYPTICS. She does a great job of weaving in details about late Victorian/early culture into the story’s plotline. Descriptions of the era’s architecture, clothing and technology never overpower the narrative, but instead serve to enhance the reader’s experience of the scenes.

More than the setting however, what really drew me into the story were the characters. The main character, Bartholomew Pelletier, is 15 centuries old. Originally a Roman Centurion, Bartholomew was unwittingly drawn into an age-old battle between the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who are meant to destroy the world, and the Catcher, the one being who can stop them. As a boy, he was bound to serve Famine, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Years later, he was recruited by the Catcher to help in her cause. Famine is a cruel mistress, and after enduring centuries of suffering under her hands, Bartholomew has finally found his salvation in the hands of an eight-year old girl. Matilde is destined to become the next Catcher, and it is Bartholomew’s task to prepare her for the enormous task of taking down the four horsemen. Bartholomew could easily end his centuries of suffering by releasing the Catcher into Matilde. But he would never sacrifice a child, “no matter how many souls hung in the balance.” This is what makes him an intriguing and sympathetic protagonist.

One of the things I enjoyed about the book was witnessing Bartholomew and Matilde’s relationship develop and change through the years. The author does a good job of staying true to Matilde’s voice even as she grows from a mistrustful eight-year old child into a capable, yet sometimes petulant teenager. It was satisfying to see how the burdensome task of training Matilde and protecting her from Famine’s forces, transformed Bartholomew. His broken, exhausted heart had finally begun to feel again thanks to Matilde.

Since the story is meant for mature readers, the book does contain sex and violence. There were some scenes that I found cringe-worthy, like when Famine would flay pieces of Bartholomew’s arm and eat it (which is only possible because Bartholomew is immortal and heals rapidly). Aside from a taste for flesh, Famine can also create cadavers, which are more terrifying than zombies because they are not only dead (and therefore almost invincible), they are also capable of independent thought and action.

Despite the more graphic elements of the story however, I enjoyed reading FAMINE. I really love how the author has created this bold concept of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and built a cast of intriguing characters around it. The book is a wild-ride and readers of historical fantasy books will surely enjoy it.



Tune in this Wednesday as we train the spotlight on FAMINE’s author – Monica Enderle Pierce.

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Happy Halloween!

This week the Spotlight was on Rysa Walker and her amazing time travel series, THE CHRONOS FILES.

If you want to know more about TIME BOUND, TIME’S ECHO & TIME’S EDGE, you can read my BOOK REVIEW HERE.

Also, check out my fun interview with author RYSA WALKER

As usual, I’m ending our Spotlight Week with a giveaway. The generous RYSA WALKER has agreed to give away the following awesome prizes:


One signed copy of TIMEBOUND


One signed copy of TIME’S EDGE

time's edge

One e-book of both books (TIMEBOUND & TIME’S EDGE)


time's edge

2 ebooks of the TIME’S ECHO novella

time's echo



To enter the contest, tell me  why you’d like to win the book

I’ll put all your names in my magical drawing box and pick the winner.

I love encouraging people to unleash their imaginative and creative sides, so the more creative your answers are, the more chances you have of winning. If your comment/answer tickles my fancy, I’ll add another slip of paper (or two) with your name on it to my drawing box.

Also, if you tweet about this giveaway, or share it on Facebook, I’ll add more 2 slips of papers with your name on it.

AND if you FOLLOW ME on Linky OR on Facebook’s networked blogs, I’ll add 6 more entries with your name into the drawing bowl.

The contest is international and will run until November 21, 2014.



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I stumbled upon TIMEBOUND this April, 2014 and immediately fell in love with the story. I listened to the audiobook during my daily commute and found myself so immersed in the story that I would sometimes linger in my car long after I’ve gotten to my destination just to listen to it a little longer.

As soon as I finished TIMEBOUND, I immediately contacted the author Rysa Walker, to let her know how much I loved her book and to invite her to be featured on my blog’s Spotlight Week series. Knowing how busy authors are, I didn’t expect her to respond until way later. To my delight, Rysa responded the very same day and we began our e-mail correspondence. She not only agreed to do an author interview, and offered to provide the awesome giveaways to end the Spotlight Week, she also sent me a signed copy of TIMEBOUND and an audible credit to listen to TIME’S ECHO. Sufficed to say, Rysa Walker is one of my favorite authors–not just because of her generosity, but because of her amazing writing style. I simply love her stories and am more than happy to recommend the CHRONOS FILES series to anyone!

Without further ado, I present the generous and amazing Rysa Walker!


rysa walker

The Amazing and Generous Rysa  Walker


1. Tell us three random, unique, or weird facts about yourself.


  • I once worked in a melodrama theater, playing the role of the heroine running from the mustache-twirling villain. It was a fun summer!
  • I am a reformed college professor. When a character in my books chides Katherine for slipping in “professor mode,” they’re reminding me that (most) readers really don’t want to hear every single historical detail about the Chicago World’s Fair.
  • As a teenager, I worked on the family cattle ranch, where my primary chores were bottle-feeding baby calves and scrubbing their milk buckets once they graduated from the bottle. The knowledge that those cute little babies were only a year or so away from the butcher block is a huge part of the reason I don’t eat beef.


2. What inspired you to write TIMEBOUND? Did you always know it would be a part of a series?

One inspiration was the fact that so many of my college students started out with a strong dislike for history, only to discover an interest in the subject once they connected with some of the quirkier, real-life stories from past eras.  I thought that if younger readers could be introduced to that type of history in a fictional setting, they might be less inclined to shun the subject as a whole.

And yes, The CHRONOS Files was planned from the beginning as a three-book series, with novellas in between.


3. TIMEBOUND, TIME’S ECHO and TIME’S EDGE are all exciting, action-packed, character-driven novels. Which of the three books did you enjoy writing the most? Which one gave you the most trouble?

That’s a difficult question for me.  In each case, there were parts that I really enjoyed writing and others where the words were a struggle.  Time’s Echo, the novella from Kiernan’s perspective, was fun because I’d been spending a lot of time inside Kate’s head, and it was nice to go visit with someone else for a while. In terms of which gave me the most trouble, I’d have to say the final, still-untitled third book is by far the most difficult.  That’s partly because there are more timelines to address by this point, and partly because I know that this is the final book and I’ll need to wrap everything up with a nice, neat bow.   And the final novella, which I’ll be writing after the final book due to the stricter publishing deadlines for the longer works, will be a special challenge, since it’s from the point-of-view of someone who is gradually going crazy.  My family will probably be ready to pack me off to a hotel when I’m writing that one!


4. The CHRONOS FILES series features characters with the Chronos gene, who are able to time-travel with the use of a Chronos Key. How did you come up with the (very cool) time-travel concept?

I knew from the beginning that the events would be set in motion by time travelers from the future, who end up stranded in the past.  I also wanted a scenario where Kate had an ability she didn’t know about that was shared with those future historians.  The most logical method that fit the storyline was to have Kate inherit that ability from her grandparents.


5. Some time-travel stories leave my mind reeling with the constant time-jumps and setting changes, but TIMEBOUND, TIME’S ECHO and TIME’S EDGE were all easy to follow (and very, very exciting to read). How do you keep the chronology of the whole series straight? What methods or tools do you employ to keep the various timelines and events in order?


I frequently joke about “time travel headaches” in the books, and that’s the author’s voice coming through loud and clear.  Having a storyline where younger and older versions of characters can overlap with other characters at different times, and even with different version of themselves, can sometimes result in conundrums that hurt the brain.  It sometimes feels like trying to untangle lights for the Christmas tree, something that I’ve always found a bit frustrating.


A timeline helps, and I do have several of those on my computer.  I also have a family tree for the Cyrists, although it’s a very misshapen tree, since you have individuals from the 2030s having children in the early 1900s.


6. In TIMEBOUND, you make use of actual events such as the 1893 World’s Fair, and real people such as famous serial killer H.H. Holmes. What made you decide to include them in your novels, and how much research did you have to do for your books?

One of my key goals from the beginning was to entertain with real history.  I do a lot of research for my books, but some of it was done long before I began writing.  One of the key reasons that I set most of the time travel in the United States after 1860 is that my Ph.D. focused on modern political history and that’s what I usually taught.  So the vast majority of the real characters in my books are ones that I pulled into lectures as a professor or included in my academic writing.


One key exception was the Koreshan Unity group, led by Cyrus Teed.  Even though I grew up in Florida, I’d never heard of this odd little commune that eventually settled down near Fort Meyers.  I first noticed the group in a newspaper article when I was researching the World’s Fair for Timebound, since they initially formed in Chicago in the 1890s.  The fact that they were led by someone named Cyrus caught my eye, and I couldn’t resist pulling them into the story, since they are exactly the type of small religious cult that Saul’s Cyrists would have gobbled up in order to form a base for their new religion.


If readers are ever wondering which elements in my books are factual and which are not, I give a general overview in the Acknowledgements at the end.


7. If your books were to be made into a movie, which scene would you be most interested in seeing live on the big screen? Do you have any actors in mind who might portray your main characters Kate, Kiernan and Trey?

The scenes in Timebound that are set in 1893, both at the Exposition and at H. H. Holmes’s hotel, have always played out in my mind almost like a movie.  The same is true for the scenes in Time’s Edge that is set in the village of God’s Hollow.


In terms of actors, it’s kind of tough for me to cast, especially those key roles. I’ve had very vivid images in my head of each of those characters, especially Kate, for nearly a decade now, so none of the current batch of teen actors come to mind.


If, however, I had a CHRONOS key, I can tell you who I’d cast as Kiernan and Trey.  When I was writing Timebound, I watched a lot of the series Chuck, because my youngest son is a huge, huge fan and we have binge watched that show more than once.  Trey is very much linked in my mind with a teenage version of the character of Devin, played by Ryan McPartlin, so I’d probably go back and cast him around age 18.  And Kiernan would be Robert Downey, Jr. from the early 1990s.


8. If you could use a Chronos Key, where and when you like to travel to? Is there a famous person, or a favorite author you’d like to visit perhaps, or an event in history you’d like to witness?

Definitely 1893 Chicago.  I’ve a World’s Fair geek for many years.  I’d just set up camp for the full nine months so that I could meet many of my favorite late 1800s authors (like Mark Twain and L. Frank Baum) and reformers (such as Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and Ida B. Wells) when they visited.  I would not, however, be staying at H. H. Holmes’s World’s Fair Hotel.



9. Tell us about your path to publication. What is the coolest thing about being a published author?

My path to publication started out with the typical hunt for an agent to open the magic gates and let me into the kingdom.  I’m not very patient, however, and after about six months of that special sort of hell, I decide that I’d just skip the gates and take my story straight to the readers.  It was going fairly well—I had about sixty reviews, mostly strong, about six months in, when I won the ABNA and got a traditional publishing contract with Skyscape.


One of the very best things about being a writer is talking to readers about my books or just books in general.  It’s really cool to hear their different perspectives on stories that I’ve written.


10. You were the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award winner. Can you tell us a little bit more about that experience?

Surreal, to say the least.  I entered with the goal of making it to the quarterfinals, where the prize is a Publisher’s Weekly review of the manuscript.  My hope was that there would be a nice, tweetable tagline.  I got that – “Kate is the Katniss Everdeen of time travel”—and then the book kept going, taking the YA prize and then winning the votes of readers to take the Grand Prize, which was a $50K advance on royalties and the contract with Skyscape.  That allowed me to quit teaching and focus on writing the sequels, which were also contracted by Skyscape, so it was a real game-changer for me.  And I’ve been really, really happy with Skyscape as a publisher.


11. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

My day varies a LOT, depending on what’s going on with the kids.  In an ideal world, I wouldn’t need sleep, or else the kids would go to school from 10pm to around 4am, because I am, by nature, a night-owl.  But here in the real world, they have to be at school at 7:15 and my brain doesn’t get moving until around the time they walk in the door in the afternoon.


I do try to maintain a daily word count, but reality has pushed me toward making it a weekly count.  That way, if I get sideswiped a few days, I can go into the writing cave (no social media, no email, noise-canceling headphones) until I catch up.


12. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies, sports, or crafts you like to spend time on?

Reading.  Binge-watching my favorite TV shows.  My life would also be a lot calmer if I managed yoga every day, instead of only several times a week.


13. Are you a plotter or pantser? Are there any specific writing tools (books, software, a specific pen ) you use to work on your novels?

I am a pantser.  Some things, obviously, must be plotted when you’re dealing with multiple timelines and even multiple versions of the same character.  But my best writing comes when I get my characters in a room and just let them have at it.  They often go in directions that I never expected, and usually I find that they are right.


I’m using Scribner for book 3, but haven’t decided whether I like it better or worse than plain old MS World.  (It has a lot of tools that would probably be more useful for a plotter than a pantser.)


One odd tool that I use is my old Kindle with the keyboard, which I use for editing, often while riding my exercise bike.  It helps me to envision the manuscript as a book, and since I usually read on the Kindle, sending the pages there to jot down notes, catch errors, etc., seems to work for me.


14. Are you currently working on any other projects?

I have a book for another potential series partially written.  It has been waiting not-so-patiently in the “drawer” until this series is completed, and I’m looking forward to diving back into that world.  I also have two other ideas for series in various stages of “hatching.”  I suspect that I will always lean toward series, rather than stand-alones, both because I like the larger canvas to tell the story and because I generally prefer to read series.


Finally, I’ve been putting the finishing touches on setting up The CHRONOS Files as a Kindle World—creating a “world guide,” fleshing out the descriptions of minor characters that have been mentioned, etc.  I’m looking forward to seeing what sorts of stories other writers will tell within my “sandbox” when they come to play.


15. What advice would you like to give to writers on the road to publication?

My advice would be that you have to make it happen.  Success can occasionally be based on luck, but no matter how lucky you get, it won’t matter unless you’re in position to capitalize on that luck.  Get the book written, and then get started on the next one.


Most of all, don’t assume that agents and publishing houses are the only way to reach readers.  If you’ve written a book that you believe in and it’s not happening on the traditional route, invest a little money in it.  (You wouldn’t expect to start any other career without a financial investment.)  Get a good editor and a professionally-designed cover.  Study the self-published writers who’ve “made it” to see what they did when they were where you are now.


And then take the plunge and get that book that you believe in out to the only people who really matter—the readers.  You don’t need the validation of an agent or a publishing house to say you’re “good enough.” They pick authors all the time whose books bomb.  Readers are the final arbiter, and we now have a system that lets writers skip the middle-men.


Be bold. :)


16. What would you like to say to your young readers? Is there any advice that you would like to give them?

Follow your dreams.  Don’t think that you can’t accomplish your goals, even if others around you aren’t offering much encouragement.  If they are too discouraging, seek out people who won’t drag you down and who will believe in you.  Most of all, don’t give up.



Thank you, Rysa for sharing your wisdom with us!

Tune in this Friday, as we end our Spotlight Week with a CHRONOS FILES GIVEAWAY!


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This month’s Spotlight Week features TIME BOUND, TIME’S ECHO & TIME’S EDGE, books from the CHRONOS FILES SERIES  by author Rysa Walker.



Timebound (The Chronos Files Book 1)

374 pages, Paperback

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Published on January 1, 2014 by Skyscape

ISBN-10: 1477848150

ISBN-13: 978-1477848159


First Line

I do not require life to be neat and orderly.



When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and Kate’s genetic ability to time-travel makes her the only one who can stop him. Risking everything, she travels to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the killing and the chain of events that follows.

Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost, however—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does she have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?


time's echo


Time’s Echo: A CHRONOS Files Novella (The Chronos Files)

99  pages, Kindle E-book

File Size: 1561 KB

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Published on April 25, 2014 by Skyscape



First Line

Kate’s breath is soft against my shoulder when the chirping sound finally wakes me. 



Kiernan Dunne abandoned his family ties to help Kate fight the Cyrists, and he’s never regretted that for one moment. But he doesn’t understand why Kate can’t remember that night in 1893 Chicago, when she turned back to face the killer chasing them through the smoky corridors of the World’s Fair Hotel. Kate placed the CHRONOS key around his neck and made his eight year old self promise to wear it always, and that’s a promise Kiernan has never broken.

When Kate suddenly vanishes after a Cyrist-engineered time shift, that hidden medallion is Kiernan’s only hope for finding her. He returns to the Cyrist fold to look for clues, but his search will lead him back to the question that has haunted him for years–what really happened after he left Kate at the World’s Fair Hotel?


time's edge



Time’s Edge (The Chronos Files Book 2)

450 pages, Paperback

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Published on October 21, 2014 by Skyscape

ISBN-10: 1477825827

ISBN-13: 978-1477825822


First Line

A pungent whiff of rotting fish hits my nostrils before my eyes open.



To stop her sadistic grandfather, Saul, and his band of time travelers from rewriting history, Kate must race to retrieve the CHRONOS keys before they fall into the Cyrists’ hands. If she jumps back in time and pulls the wrong key—one that might tip off the Cyrists to her strategy—her whole plan could come crashing down, jeopardizing the future of millions of innocent people. Kate’s only ally is Kiernan, who also carries the time-traveling gene. But their growing bond threatens everything Kate is trying to rebuild with Trey, her boyfriend who can’t remember the relationship she can’t forget.

As evidence of Saul’s twisted mind builds, Kate’s missions become more complex, blurring the line between good and evil. Which of the people Saul plans to sacrifice in the past can she and Kiernan save without risking their ultimate goal—or their own lives?


My Review

I am not at all surprised that TIMEBOUND (then titled Time’s Twisted Arrow) won the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Grand Prize award. And I won’t be surprised if the other books in the series win many other awards.

Time travel stories are incredibly difficult to pull off, but author Rysa Walker manages to do just that (and more) in her  CHRONOS FILES series. I have read all books in the series so far, beginning with TIMEBOUND (Book One), continuing on with the related novella TIME’S EDGE and ending with TIME’S EDGE (Book Two). In all three books, Rysa Walker has done a spectacular job of keeping me enthralled and at the edge of my seat.This is honestly my favorite time travel series.

While some time travel books leave me confused and disoriented with their twining timelines and multiple versions of characters in different time periods, the CHRONOS FILES SERIES’ time travel component is so masterfully done, that the characters and their storylines are easy to follow. Rysa Walker’s unique explanation of time travel and her choice of settings perfectly complement the exciting plot lines in each book. The addition of historical events and people made the stories feel even more real for me.

In TIMEBOUND, the story’s protagonist Kate Pierce-Keller, travels back in time to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Not only does she have to go up against the people bent on erasing her very existence (the zealot Cyrists, led by her own grandfather Saul, and her aunt Prudence), she also has to go up against renowned serial killer H.H. Holmes. Thankfully she has allies helping her–including  her grandmother Katherine, Katherine’s friend Connor and two teenage boys from completely different timelines who are both in love with her. Trey is from Kate’s own era, while Kiernan was born in the late 1800’s.

TIME’S ECHO is written from Kiernan’s point of view and gives readers a glimpse of his life with another version of Kate. A Kate who disappears after the Cyrists create another time shift.

In TIME’S EDGE, Kate and Kiernan join forces to try and collect all the Chronos keys. While they go to many different locations and periods, they ultimately end up fighting for their lives in 1911 and 1938 Georgia.

The characters in the CHRONOS FILES series (both heroes and villains alike) are so realistically portrayed, it’s hard to imagine they’re not real people. Kate is headstrong and determined, and pushes through her many doubts, fears and the  many dangers she faces in each new mission. As in all YA novels, there is a love triangle though one in this series is unique in its take and deliciously complicated on so many levels. The romance in the story isn’t the main focus, but instead added another layer of excitement to the story.

Rysa Walker is a master at world-building. She describes every timeline, era and setting so well, combining fiction with historical truth, and making me feel as if I were really there. The plot and subplots in all three books were exciting and brilliantly executed. Although I could predict some of the  turns of the story, the big plot twists were ones I that took me by surprise. The series is action-packed, emotionally compelling and simply amazing.

I highly recommend the CHRONOS FILES series. The CHRONOS FILES is definitely in my Top 10 list of all-time favorite series–which is saying a lot since I’ve read so many. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in the series!

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August Spotlight Week Giveaway Winner

Happy Monday everyone!

This past August, the spotlight was on Author Nancy Ellen Dodd and her helpful writing book THE WRITER’S COMPASS. Now it’s my pleasure to announce the winner of last month’s Spotlight Week Giveaway!

Congrats to BEV BAIRD for winning a signed copy of THE WRITER’S COMPASS!

The Writer's Compass


I’ll email you in a few minutes to give you instructions on how to claim your prize.

In the meantime, I’d like to wish everyone a happy, productive week!

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This week the Spotlight was on Nancy Ellen Dodd and her amazing writing book, THE WRITER’S COMPASS.

If you want to know more about this book , you can read my BOOK REVIEW here.

Also, check out my fun interview with author Nancy Ellen Dodd.

To end our Spotlight Week, I’m giving away a SIGNED COPY of THE WRITER’S COMPASS.


The Writer's Compass

To enter the contest, tell me  why you’d like to win the book

I’ll put all your names in my magical drawing box and pick the winner.

I love encouraging people to unleash their imaginative and creative sides, so the more creative your answers are, the more chances you have of winning. If your comment/answer tickles my fancy, I’ll add another slip of paper (or two) with your name on it to my drawing box.

Also, if you tweet about this giveaway, or share it on Facebook, I’ll add more 2 slips of papers with your name on it.
AND if you FOLLOW ME on Linky OR on Facebook’s networked blogs, I’ll add 6 more entries with your name into the drawing bowl.

The contest is international and will run until August 30, 2014.


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I’ve been very curious about THE WRITER’S COMPASS ever since I’d seen it on display at a local bookstore. Little did I know that a year later, the author of the said book would leave a message on my blog and give me the chance to read her book and interview her.

Of course, as soon as I saw Nancy’s message, I jumped at a chance. And ever since then, Nancy and I have been emailing back and forth. Last month, she showed us her workspace and shared writing tips on my Wednesday Writer’s Workspace series. Nancy is one of the most generous authors I’ve encountered. She graciously sent me a signed copy of her book for review, and even sent another signed copy for this spotlight week’s giveaway. She’s also agreed to do a writing workshop with my group, CBW-LA, next February!

This month, I’m so pleased to feature her and her awesome writing book on my Spotlight Week.

Without further ado, I present the ever generous Nancy Ellen Dodd!


nancy-dodd1 modified

The Generous Nancy Ellen Dodd


1. Tell us three random, unique, or weird facts about yourselves.

 I’ve been married three times (which I’m not proud of by the way, but you asked). I love love and romance, in fact, I was fortunate enough to officiate at a close friend’s wedding. I love watching people who are in love. However, I finally figured out that I’m no good at it and finally retired my veil.


2. When did you first realize your passion for writing?

 Even as a child I told myself stories and had a lot of imagination, but in junior high I wrote part of my first novel. In high school I wrote a play called “The Hero” that one of my teachers said that if I didn’t do something with it, he would. The play became a short story about Vietnam, which I temporarily sold as a kindle book. My good friend Kevin Sizemore produced is as a short film a few years ago and we updated it to Afghanistan. It won a couple of film festival awards. It can be seen here: Every time they update their website the count starts over, but I know that tens of thousands of people have watched it from previous counts. Seeing something important enough to be produced from your early work is very gratifying.

3. If you were stranded on an island, what three books would you love to have with you?

First of all The Bible; Swiss Family Robinson (the original version by the storyteller’s son Johann David Wyss, not the one where the French writer added fantastic stories) or Robinson Crusoe, hopefully I’d get some survival tips; and probably the complete works of Sherlock Holmes to sharpen my wits.

4. What do you think makes a good story?

 I think that a good story is one where we are inspired to be better than who we have been in the past, both personally and collectively.

5. Where did you get the idea to write THE WRITER’S COMPASS?

 For decades I have been taking notes and compiling questions for writing. I created a hand-printed workbook using some of what I’d learned and sold it to local writer’s groups. It became one of the early self-published books on Amazon. Then I stopped publishing it while I was getting my university degrees in writing. I created a much broader program with the questions on about 50 5×8 cards and developed a story map. Other students in my program paid me to teach them what I was using because they could see that I had figured out some things that they hadn’t.

When an agent called me at the university on another matter, and I learned she also represented books on writing, I sent her my idea. She took it straight to Writer’s Digest and after several revisions to the proposal, they bought and published the book.

6. One of the things I really found very useful in THE WRITER’S COMPASS was the section on the Story Map and the 7-Stage Process. How did you go about developing this wonderful process for story creation?

The story map came when I was in a playwriting class in the master’s of Professional Writing program at USC. It’s like a light bulb went off. The professor was teaching the 3-act structure, which of course I’d read about many times, but watching him diagram it on the board, it occurred to me that if I could go through all of my books and notes and put all the “words” used for the elements of writing on the 3-act structure chart, I’d never missing writing important information again. I have my original diagram, which I did on PowerPoint. I quickly discovered that everyone was pretty much saying the same thing using different words and adding in their own variations of method. I then simplified the diagram and chose words that made sense to me.

When I started teaching advanced screenwriting at Pepperdine, one of my students said, “You use the same diagram that our playwriting teacher gave us.” It turned out that she graduated from the MPW program at USC and that the diagram I gave to my professor he was giving out to subsequent students. So she was also using it to teach from and had no idea she was using the diagram I developed. Of course, all of this knowledge is built on Aristotle’s dramatic principles and Freytag’s pyramid.

The 7-Stage process was all the notes and questions I had been collecting and developing over the years that I’d put on the 50 index cards, and which I had already arranged in stages for more efficient revising.

7. The Structure Chart and the Story Tracking Sheet are just two of the many useful tools you share with readers in THE WRITER’S COMPASS. Have you come across or developed new writing techniques since then that you would love to have included in the book?

Currently I am studying many of the newer methods and techniques that authors have developed over recent years to see what I can add to my knowledge and teach and lead the students to. I’m also looking at how to incorporate the hero’s journey, which is a mythic approach while my approach is based on Aristotle.

 In fact, I just taught a Webinar on “Winning Sci-Fi/Fantasy Story Structure” through The Writer’s Store and I encouraged the students to learn the hero’s journey for this because it is all about the mythic quest, which is usually basic to this genre.

8. In the book, you recommend using notebooks and index cards to keep track of story ideas. What other tools do you use aside from these? Do you also use voice recorders, or other software programs?

I sometimes use voice recorders if I’m driving, only I don’t like listening to the sound of my own voice, which I find many of us don’t, so I sometimes don’t play them back and rely on memory. If I’m on deadline, I use Word. I often use Excel to capture notes because I can use it as a database and sort my notes in various ways and can include all of my notes for everything I do and all my projects in one file. I’ve tried Access, because it is a database, but find I can’t see it all and I need to be able to lay everything out and see it.

I’m also trying something new both as a portable storyboard and to organize myself. I got the idea from Save the Cat, and Blake Snyder got it from Mike Cheda the script consultant. Use a large sketchpad, open it flat and draw 4 even lines across both sides, then use post-it notes for your ideas and you can move them around like you would index cards on a story board. I have a large monthly calendar and I’m using it to organize my “To Do’s” and the unused pages inside as a storyboard. I love the concept and it’s really helped me in organizing because the size gives me more room to organize my work. Of course, I’d read a book years ago on organization that suggested Post-It notes as a way to move to do’s around, rather than lists, but didn’t realize the problem was the size of my calendar.

9. Aside from THE WRITER’S COMPASS, you have written numerous blog posts, screenplays, plays, short stories, short films and novel-length work. Which of these genres are you most comfortable with? Which genre do you find the most challenging?

I always say that my favorite form is the one I’m currently writing in, as well as the most challenging. I love every form of writing. Right now I’m going back to finish all the novels I was waiting until I knew enough to finish. I’m also starting some new work on a new screenplay. (Shhh don’t tell my agent, he wants me to stick with finishing the novels.)

10. You are a university instructor, an editor and a writer, among other things. How do you go about juggling these different aspects of your life?

Very carefully. Refer to portable storyboard above. And juggle is the correct word. One of my daughters and my granddaughter live with me. If it weren’t for my daughter insisting on making vacation plans, I probably would work nonstop. I am constantly in pursuit of new ways to organize myself and keep myself motivated. I always look at what’s due next, but then I have to keep in mind that what’s due in a couple of weeks make take more time than I’ve allotted for it and I have to start it now. So I try to prioritize by the amount of time I need to finish a project and what is the next thing due.

I have to be careful because whenever I slow down and get bored, I start looking for new projects, then suddenly I find I have half-a-dozen things due at the same time. Yikes. But I love it. God has blessed me in so many ways and I waited so long and worked so hard to get to this point, I plan to enjoy every minute of it.

11. Tell us about your path to publication. What is the coolest thing about being a published author?

Hmmmm. I guess just being a published author is the coolest thing. Really, once you realize, “Oh, the whole world didn’t change, I still have to keep on keeping on,” then you settle down and go back to work.

Truthfully, getting published opened doors for me to have more teaching opportunities and to meet people like all of you, which I really love.

12. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

I try to get up around 6:00 am, write out my prayer, read from the Bible and do some devotional reading, this starts the day right and helps me set my priorities and gives me peace that God is in charge and I’m just trying to see what He wants me to do today.

After that I either write or I work on projects with impending due dates or I do the notes on my student’s work. I drink lots of hot tea and eat burnt toast during this time.

My writing rituals change and morph, the one I had a few weeks ago I’m not doing right now, maybe that’s why I’m writing less right now and finishing projects instead.

Then I get ready for work and go to the office and handle all the stuff I need to do that day. I come home around six and spend time with my family, eat dinner, and/or work on more projects.

Okay, I confess! In the evening I watch “The Young and the Restless” on my computer. I know, it’s a soap opera, but as a child we watched soap operas. We only got like three stations during the time we had to watch. So, while we were shelling black-eyed peas or snapping green beans or cracking nuts, soap operas were what was on. After decades of not watching, I was getting my car serviced and Y&R came on in the lobby and I was fascinated because it was the same actors from all those years ago. They felt like old friends. I got hooked again. Anybody got any peas I can shell?

13. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?  Any hobbies, sports, or crafts you like to spend time on?

I love to read or mainly listen to audiobooks, watch movies, I’m a big TV buff, only we don’t have cable any more. And we like to go camping. Disneyland is one of our main play attractions—I mean so much imagination and exhilaration and childlike play.

14.  Are you currently working on any other projects?

Yes, but I don’t think your blog is that long.

Actually, I’m seriously considering teaching a Skype class. I just had a Skype meeting with some of my online students and we really liked the personal connection and I like seeing my students’ faces.

I’ve also been approached by a publisher to write a specialized book for them on storytelling, so I’m working on the proposal.

Plus I’m making notes on a magical realism series of history books for students that I’m excited about. And I have a play I’m turning into a YA novel, and the screenplay I’m storyboarding and …. well that’s enough.

15.  What advice would you like to give to writers on the road to publication?

 Accept where you currently are and then grow from there. You don’t have to be a genius or a literary icon. You don’t have to start out knowing everything. You can find an audience, even a small one, while you are learning.

Find out your writing triggers and use them to establish a discipline.

Read lots of different writing books and see what works for you. Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work, read another one, take a different class—you’ll learn and you’ll grow and you’ll develop and you’ll find how to approach writing in a way that works for you. Not everything is right, nor is everything wrong, it just may not work for you.

You might find out that instead of writing, your passion is for editing or publishing or teaching and you might be able to help someone else. If you have a passion to write, then write.

Sometimes the writing hibernates while we are involved in the urgency of our day-to-day lives, give it a chance to come alive again. Do what you can to stimulate your imagination, then put your pen on the paper and push.



Thanks, Nancy!

Come back this Friday for the final part of the Spotlight Week, where I give away a SIGNED COPY OF THE WRITER’S COMPASS

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