Stepping back to 2016 to review this debut novel by Crystal Kirkham because it will always hold a special place in my heart. Road to Redemption was the first INDIE book I ever owned and read.
There is a good possibility that if I hadn’t come across @canuckclick on Twitter back in December 2016 this blog wouldn’t be happening.
Thank you Crystal!
YOU just know that you have a good book in your hands when opening scene does everything right, Road to Redemption does just that, just enough of a mystery by page two to peak my curiosity then by page four, I was hooked.
Road to Redemption has everything you could want a book to have. Interesting characters and a plot that is worthy of the big screen. The narrative description is spot on, details so clear that I could see the story playing in my head like a movie. In her debut novel Crystal has done everything right.
I first reviewed this book about three years ago, it’s worthy of a rehash. It’s that damn good!
The chemistry between Michel and Paige is PURE magic. Paige notices Michel while she’s stuck on a boring blind date, little does she know that a deal Michel made centuries ago would have such an effect on her life when she decided to pursue him and put a little adventure in her world.
This book will take you to hell and back.
I consider this a must read!I gave it⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on Goodreads and Amazon and I will forever by a fan of Crystal L Kirkham.
definitely a page turnerpardon the pun…
My one and only disappointment was that it had to end. Thank God for sequels because she wrote one!! 🎉
I loved this book as much now as I did when I first time i read it. Three times and each time is better than the last.
BUY ROAD TO REDEMPTION
DEPTHS OF DARKNESS made my TOP 10 Book List for 2019, it came in at number six, it is book 2 of the series. You will hear more about this in the near future.
“What all of us have to do is to make sure we are using AI in a way that is for the benefit of humanity, not to the detriment of humanity.” –Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
Johnny– Hello Shaun, thank you for taking the time to talk with me about your book, where did the idea for Electric Blues come from?
Shaun– Ha! I don’t think I’ve admitted this before, but I wrote this story right after smartphones were coming into the mainstream. I had a little android phone that I adored, and I wondered what it would be like if it was sentient.
Johnny– LOL, that’s pretty cool. Did you by any chance hang on to it over the years?
Shaun– I did! In fact, even seven or so years later, it still works 😀
Johnny– That is awesome! And it still works… that’s pretty cool. The opening lines in your book reads: “I can’t love. That’s okay, if you ask me, most humans can’t either.” That is profound, what is Arty telling us in this opening line?
Shaun– Well, first, let’s all hope that Arty is wrong there. The world is a lonely enough place as it is! It’s a little hard to answer this question without dorking out completely, but essentially, I imagine Arty here is dealing with the fact that most people have a romanticized view of love—and even Arty can tell that the people around him don’t have that Romeo and Juliet stuff at their disposal. Like all of us, I hope, Arty, as he meets new people and sees more relationships, will grow in his understanding of what human love really is.
Johnny– Just so you know, dorking out is completely allowed, in-fact is very much encouraged here, lol. Tell me more about Arty, he seems interesting. He lives in a storage unit due to his unemployment circumstance; it sounds like he is improvising, adapting and overcoming his current situation, which is rather amazing since he seems to be running on a rather dated program.
Shaun– Well, to be fair, he’s running a pretty darn advanced program compared to what we have today 😀 It just depends on your perspective, I suppose.
Johnny– I’m constructing that question from Arty’s narration, I guess; he had mentioned that other A.I. models having a more updated programming than he. As a reader he just seemed like what he lacked in his program he made up through improvising. Was this intentional? Or is Arty pulling a Captain Kirk during his‘Kobayashi Maru’? (LOL)
Shaun– Ha! I don’t feel Arty is winning the unwinnable Kobayashi Maru scenario here. Certainly, a Denizen H could come up with the plan that Arty did, and perhaps even a more cost effective one. That being said, I did envision Arty’s AI as sufficiently complex to display a level of creativity. To use human beings as an analogy, the ability to succeed and be employable is more complex than just how good our pattern recognition (intelligence) is or how good our education is. Those things help, but they’re not the end all be all. So too, for an AI, I don’t think that processing power and updated software are always going to win the day. Maybe most days, but not all of them!
Johnny– There are so many good points to talk about in this book I’m having a hard time choosing one to start with, we know where the idea came from, what was your motivation to write Electric Blues?
Shaun– While I started with the idea of my phone, the story really is a reflection of a lot more than that. As a child who moved a lot, I’ve definitely lived the fish-out-of-water story, which, to an extent, Electric Blues is. And, as an analytical person, sometimes I find myself confused, or even occasionally estranged by the people around me who are more intuitive. Arty, as a robot, works as a pretty good vehicle for getting that estrangement, and the eventual catharsis of finding a way through the world, across. Social situations are hard, insanely complicated, and yet, people are expected to understand them perfectly. So, I think it’s easy for a lot of us to feel for Arty because so many of us have walked that same path.
Johnny– I love the dialog between Arty and the Veterinarian, is Arty starting to develop a personality or is he being logical?
Shaun– Oh yes! I don’t think you can really have intelligence as we think of it WITHOUT having personality or character. And, a lot of those character points are going to look like emotions. That may sound crazy to say about an AI, but hear me out! Our emotions serve certain purposes. Anger helps us keep boundaries for our emotional and physical safety, affection helps us treat our friends well, sadness helps us reflect on our life choices, etc. etc. Arty may not feel anger, but he has to develop habits which keep his boundaries. He may not feel sadness, but he has to look back on his choices, and his relationships, and see if he can learn better ways, he can handle his next set of choices and relationships. So, while Arty doesn’t feel like we do, it’s sort of a moot point because he’s thinking in the ways that are the root of our emotions. I think this is one of the reasons why people can empathize with how Arty feels, even though he isn’t really feeling. And THAT, I believe, gets back to the first line of the book where Arty says most people can’t love. What that’s really about is the misconception of what love is, and maybe we all have a bit of a misconception of what it means to feel.
Johnny– You seem like a pretty philosophical person so I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts, Knickers basically tells Arty to go help the underprivileged in order to keep his Government assistance, (how revolutionary is that?), do you consider that to be socialism or maybe, responsible, creative government? Or, is it something else?
Shaun– I wasn’t trying to make a point about governments there! For many people getting government assistance in the US, their assistance is contingent on them looking for work. I just updated our current laws as if a legislative body were to try and get them to encompass AI. BUT SINCE YOU ASKED, I think the fact that AI might be able to take jobs from us in a way that automation never could before, we really should be ready to transition to a universal basic income if the need arises 😀
Johnny– I read on your social media profile that you are a former MMA fighter? How did you get started in that? Was this something you did full-time?
Shaun– OH! Those were beautiful days 😀 The beginnings of that were pretty tragic though. I was nearly killed by an infection when I was 20. I was in a coma and hospitalized for two weeks. When I came out of it, I had trouble walking more than 100 yards. My Aunt and Uncle, Tori and Barry Polinitza, agreed to let me stay on their horse ranch during the day and train at their martial arts dojo in the nights. I fell in love with the puzzle of fighting, and eventually just had to try it out in practice.
I never did do MMA as a living/full time though. I think it’s entirely possible I could have opened up a studio and taught, but though I won all my fights, I don’t think I was good enough to live off of the purses.
Johnny– That an amazing story Shaun, thanks for sharing, very inspirational! What discipline did you practice?
Shaun– I studied quite a few disciplines! Shootfighting, Jiu jitsu, Wrestling, Boxing and Mui Thai were the arts which helped me the most. Almost everyone I was training and competing with had learned one art a youngster, so it was always a puzzle for me to make sure I had the skills to avoid or neutralize what my opponents were bringing to the table.
Johnny– Do you still train and/or compete?
Shaun– I do a little boxing, but I’m retired from fighting now! I play tournament chess to satisfy my competitive drive.
Johnny– Which is more vicious? I’ve heard chess tournaments can be downright brutal. Are they that competitive?
Shaun– Brutal is certainly the right word for competitive chess! Imagine taking the Bar to become a lawyer, but that the exam is taking you back. You’re thinking as hard as you can for over five hours at times, and the toll it takes is difficult to explain. The brain is a top calorie using organ in the human body, and when measured, it apparently eats up as much calories in a professional chess game as an NBA basketball player’s entire body will burn in their game. Which is more vicious? Definitely MMA! After a few days rest, you’re going to be recovered from almost any chess game. That’s not true for huge number of fights!
Johnny– What made you want to become a writer?
Shaun– I feel like I have a million answers to that question, and maybe they all come together into one giant answer! My father and grandfather told me stories growing up which lit my mind on fire. My mother would always find time to read to me. My friends and I would play make believe growing up, so storytelling was baked into my early socializing. I played a ton of dungeons and dragons and had to run and write the campaigns for my friends. I read the entire fiction section of my middle school library in sixth grade and it started to leak out of my ears in prose. There are ideas I experience which are so beautiful I feel like I have to share them with other people. I feel alive after I write.
But, if there’s anything the research on consciousness I did for Electric Blues has taught me, it’s that people are particularly terrible at giving the reasons for why they do things. So, who knows?
Johnny– Ha! Fair enough, have any of the stories told to you by your father and grandfather ever made it into any of your writing?
Shaun– Not the stories themselves, but my father’s world building and my grandfather’s way of building a character certainly come through a good bit in what I do.
Johnny– Was Electric Blues your first book?
Shaun– Not by a long shot! The first book I wrote was in seventh grade. I don’t know that anyone should read it though. My first full length novel that was published is Even Hell Has Knights.
Johnny– What writing plans have you got for
the upcoming year? Any projects in the works?
Shaun– Oh yes! Wasteland, a book in my Hellsong Universe, is in its final editing stage. It should be a beaut!
Johnny– Oh sweet, any release date ETS’s?
Shaun– We’re working on late first quarter next year! That gives you guys plenty of time to catch up! You can start the series here:
Johnny– Who inspires you?
Shaun– I have a ton of heroes! Some from the sports I’ve competed in. Garry Kasparov in Chess, who branched out to fight for fair elections in Russia and who helped move his home village to safety during regional unrest. Mirko Filipović, a fighter who got elected to the Croatian Parliament. Epicurus, who’s philosophy is so strangely modern! But it’s not just my heroes who inspire me! I have a friend who quit his job and gave up his dreams because he felt what he was being asked to do was unethical. And I have friends who are actually raising decent human beings! How the crap are they doing that? I could never do that!
Johnny– Who is your favorite author/writer?
Shaun– Frederik Pohl, I think, is amazing. I really think his material is right up there with Asimov and Bradbury, but he’s not as well known. I’d recommend Gateway to anyone looking to get into him.
Johnny– Do you have a sequel planned or written for Electric Blues?
Shaun– I do! There is a sequel out now for Arty called Binary Jazz. I have a third one planned, called Digital Muse, which is on the backburner. I feel that it wouldn’t be a good Arty story if the theme didn’t in some way tackle an emotion. Electric Blues deals with depression, while Binary Jazz is primarily about how positive and negative emotions build friendships. The third story will touch on the idea love and how human beings in love look from Arty’s perspective.
Johnny– I notice Electric Blues was on Audible, (Great performance by Gabrielle Olexa btw), are any other books been converted to audio?
Shaun– They’re not! Electric Blues is the only one so far! I agree that Gabe did a fabulous job on the audio. Getting someone to be monotone for that long and still keep the story exciting to listen to was no easy task!
Johnny– Absolutely! Her monotone was nothing short of phenomenal! (I’ve included a link above for anyone wanting to listen to this amazing performance). Shaun, what is your process when you begin writing a book from an idea?
Shaun– For me, it seems different for each story. Sometimes there’s an image or scene that burns its way into my consciousness, and I play the detective to see what came before it and after it. For the Hellsong series, the setting came first, and the story-lines emerged as I imagined how people would handle that particular damnation. At other times there’s a concept or emotion I have that I want to share, and the story is just the best way to communicate it with another person.
Johnny– Any advice for inspiring writers, cage fighters, or chess players?
Shaun– All three pursuits straddle the line between science and art. They require both phenomenal discipline and unfettered passion. Most people I meet have one of the two requirements down. My advice to anyone who is chasing one of these three endeavors is to find the area you are most lacking, whether it be discipline or passion, and feed the weaker of the two.
Electric Blues is a fun futuristic tale of an A.I. that is looking for his purpose. In doing so Arty teaches us all the possible meaning of life. To think that this whole story came about because of a smartphone blows me away, and so does this book.
of room for this franchise to grow I can hardly wait to see what Arties next
adventure will be.
Dynamic narration is necessary to make this book work for the reader. Logical and engaging dialog are entwined presenting a believe-ability that will easily hold your interest to the end. Shaun has done a wonderful job with Electric Blues.
Personally, I love the fact that coping with his current reality Artie is teaching me the basics principles of philosophy. While searching for his purpose in an ever advancing world, Artie has taught me that adapting is surviving, when one door closes another opens, it’s just depend on how one chooses to view it.
I’m giving Electric Blues five stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on bothGoodreads and Amazonbecause of it is original, humorous, and intelligent. I walk away from this book feeling both amused and charmed, but most importantly, entertained.
Shaun proves that sometimes the little things that come into our lives can provide some great opportunities. He also proved that with hard work and determination you can overcome adversity. Good luck 🍀 with all your endeavors Shaun, I’m a Fan! 🙏
Upon entering into this book, I was magically swept away into a dimension created by the mind of Rebecca Hefner. It was a very beautiful place.
Johnny– Hello Rebecca! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. The title of your book is: The End of Hatred: Etherya’s Earth, Book 1. How many books did you envision when you start writing this?
Rebecca– I wasn’t sure exactly how many books it would turn out to be. All I knew was that the characters were so vivid in my mind. Miranda and Sathan appeared first in my imagination, followed shortly by Lila and Latimus. I knew immediately that the second book in the series would be about Lila and Latimus. In my mind, the first four books of the series were really one long book in my head!
Johnny– What inspired you to write this book?
Rebecca– I’ve always been a voracious reader. My two favorite genres are romance and sci-fi/fantasy. I love steamy romance, because I think that seeing two characters get intimate is the deepest you can go into their soul. However, I need a slow burn, where I really get to know the characters, and see their relationship develop, before I see them get to those intimate scenes. I also really like a fantasy world, filled with creatures with magical powers and mysterious history.I wanted to write a book that combined a sweeping fantasy with the intimate romance that I loved
Johnny– I’m glad you mentioned that you are a fan of steamy romance, because there are parts of this book that get SMOKING. Do you find yourself having to re-editing some of your “spicier” scenes, to keep them from getting to hot? I ask because your romance scenes get super vivid but never really get explicit.
Rebecca– Great question! I have always loved a steamy love scene, and believe that this is a natural thing that everyone experiences, so I want the scenes to be vivid. However, my mother reads these books, and that’s always in the back of my mind when I’m writing them. I’ll usually go back over my love scenes as I remind myself, “Mom will be reading this…”, and edit from there. I don’t want to sacrifice the steam and intimacy, but I also want to be tasteful. It’s a fine line that I’m always working hard to balance!
Johnny– In the prologue you wrote that Etherya had created a flawless species, the Slayera, but since she was imperfect, the universe objected. How was the Goddess flawed? Or are you saving that for something later?
Rebecca– Oh, yes. As the series progresses, we definitely begin to see Etherya’s flaws. In Book 4, The Reluctant Savior, there’s a big revelation about Etherya’s past. But I love a good twist and don’t want to give that away, so keep reading!
Johnny– What visual references did you use when you created the Vampyres and the Slayera?
Rebecca– I just knew that I wanted the Vampyres to be tall and hulking and I wanted the Slayera to appear more human-like. That physical discrepancy would help cement the Slayera’s dependency upon the Vampyres for physical protection.
Johnny– Obviously from your description the Vampyres would be noticeable, Slayera, I’m guessing more human-ish, how do you picture them in your mind?
Rebecca– In my mind, the Slayera were created as the best version of humans. However, due to Valktor’s murderous actions, they lose their almost-perfect status and become fallible. I equate it to death of Icarus in Greek mythology or the fall of Sampson in the Bible. These age-old stories exist to remind us not get too complacent in our “perfection”. The Slayera had become so and, once their kingdom fell, they were thrust into a thousand-year war.
Johnny– I really love that this book occurs inside the boundaries of a parallel universe. You’re obviously a well read and well thought out individual, what are your thoughts on interdimensional travel and parallel universe?
Rebecca– I love that you asked this question! I’m a super-science dork—I went to Space Camp when I was a teenager and went to Governer’s School for physics when I was in high school. To say that I love all things to do with relativity (time travel!) and parallel universes (string theory, anyone??) would be an understatement. In fact, the current series I’m working on has a heroine who’s a theoretical physicist trying to figure out time travel. I believe that we, on this pale blue dot (as Carl Sagan would say), represent such a dichotomy. We are conscious beings, who feel so deeply and contemplate our existence but, in the vastness of the universe, I truly believe we are only a small, insignificant speck of dust amongst other universes and dimensions. This isn’t to say that we’re not important. Instead, it’s an opportunity for us to see everyone on the planet as one species: human. If we allow ourselves, our shared moment in time on this planet could be something so beautiful. I think we’re at a precarious moment in our evolution right now where we have the opportunity to choose unity or division. One will further our species and one could extinguish us. I love to write about these themes in my books!
Johnny– Well said. Super-science dork authors are the best! Do you have a release date planned for your current series?
Rebecca– I don’t have firm dates yet. I’d like to have my next two books out by Spring 2020. That would be Book 5 in the Etherya’s Earth series and Book 1 in my new series. But I also don’t want to rush the writing. That leads so underdeveloped plots and characters, and it’s important to me that everything is well thought out. Also, it takes my editor about a month to edit, then I have to revise, and then my proofreader takes about another month, so it’s a long process to get these books from my computer into reader’s hands. But I’m furiously working on them and am really excited to get them out there!
Johnny– If you were casting this as a movie, and could choose anyone you want, who would your stars be?
Rebecca– Oh, I play this game on Instagram
sometimes with my followers. It’s so
fun! Okay, here we go:
I mean, it’s not like I’ve thought about this or anything… 😊
Johnny– Ah, Evie, please tell us something about Evie. (Great cast btw, Nichole Kidman as Lila, be still my heart) ❤
Rebecca– Ha! Yes, those are some great actresses. Evie has been my absolute favorite character to write in the series (followed closely by Darkrip). At first glance, she seems so evil and broken, but over the series the reader gets to know her. By the time we reach Book 4 in the series, we really see inside her mindand understand how complex she really is and why she became that way. Her journey is a really interesting one, and it was extremely fun to write.
Johnny– This book deals with a few topics that are (sadly) relevant in the world today, two of them being, racism and gender equality. I once read that Gene Roddenberry had used racism and culture intolerance when he was developing Star Trek. Was this an intentional goal of yours?
Rebecca– Absolutely. It was really important to me that we see Miranda’s journey against sexism in this book. One of the main themes is her gaining the courage to defy her father and claim her throne. As someone who grew up in the South, there was constant “programming” of what roles a woman should play (wife, mother, college graduate, etc.). Those are all fine if the person chooses them, but they shouldn’t be forced. I wanted to show Miranda coming into her own and gaining the strength to claim the throne that was rightfully hers. And yes, I wanted to use the two different species as metaphors for the racism we see in our society. In the beginning of the book, we learn that the species stay separate. As Miranda and Sathan fall in love, they contemplate what that will mean for those age-old traditions. They must have the strength to realize that they are one people—immortals—instead of two different races. It goes back to what I was saying above about our planet’s place in the universe. No one looking at the human race from outer space would identify us as black, white, Mexican, Indian or Asian; they would identify us as humans. Eventually, Miranda and Sathan begin to understand that their people are much stronger as Immortals rather than separating themselves into Slayers and Vampyres.
Johnny– What was the first book you ever written? Did it get published?
Rebecca– This is the first book I’ve ever published! I’m a self-published author and that was definitely the right path for me. There are many advantages to being self-published and to being traditionally published. I firmly believe that each author must research and determine what path is right for them.
Johnny– Do you use beta-readers?
Rebecca– I don’t use beta readers, just because I’m so ready to get the books out once they’re back from my editor and proofreader, that I usually get them up for sale when they’re ready. However, I have a group of awesome readers and reviewers who will accept an ARC copy of my book and leave honest reviews. They are the first people I reach out to when I publish a new book and I always welcome their feedback.
Johnny– Are you a self-editor?
Rebecca– I definitely am, but I also like to let the story flow. I’ll usually write a section or chapter, and let the words flow onto the page, and then go back and read and edit it. I also have an amazing editor who I send my books to once they’re ready. She always comes back to me with great edits that make the story even better!
Johnny– What advice do you have for unpublished authors looking to get started?
Rebecca– Wow. Such a loaded question. I might actually write a book like this one
day and title it something like, “What I Wished I’d Known Before I Published My
First Book.” I made so many mistakes in
the beginning but now, I’ve pretty much figured it out. My advice would be a few things:
Go on YouTube and search “self-publishing”. There are about a million videos on there by people who want to help fellow authors just starting out.
You can also search for “better writing” and learn how to write more efficiently. The written word is more concise than conversation and learning how to compose your thoughts on paper effectively makes all the difference.
Join the #writingcommunity on Twitter and interact with everyone you can. I’ve met so many other amazing authors there!
Johnny– Good tips, how do you plan your book once you’ve locked in on an idea and have decided to write it? What’s your process?
Rebecca– I do a rough outline, and reference that as I write, but I usually just let my fingers tap and let the characters lead me. They always lead me to a place that is a thousand times better than what I originally plotted. They’re like real, live people who live in my head!
Johnny– Tell me something about yourself that not everyone knows.
Rebecca– Hmmm. I love solo traveland have visited many places in the world. I spent the entire month of September 2018 in Japan and that’s where I wrote most of The Elusive Sun! I also saw the most amazing sunset of my life while I was there and used that exact backdrop for a scene in The Darkness Within. There’s something about travel that just refills my soul.
Johnny– What an amazing story, now when I read those books, they will even be a little more special. Have you got any other wonderful journeys planned?
Rebecca– For now, I’m just excited to head to Colorado for Christmas with my family. My brother, his wife and their daughter live there, and my mother and I will be flying in to spend the holiday with them.
Johnny– What is the everyday Rebecca like?
Rebecca– I’m a tireless perfectionist who’s decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It’s so fun, but extremely challenging. I write a lot, and also focus on marketing my books, but I also take time to ensure that I’m doing yoga or taking some time to be active. This is the first thing I’ve ever done that isn’t an “active” job, so I have to remember to get up and get the blood moving. But that’s pretty much it right now—writing and living each day to the fullest. I really want to build this into a career and am trying my best to do that every day!
Johnny– There is an internal battle that Miranda struggles with, does she follow tradition or follow her heart. We know which path she chose, now, are you a traditionalist or are you someone who follows her heart?
Rebecca– Someone who follows my heart, definitely. It’s so important to remember that no one is going to live your dreams for you. Although it’s tough and scary, it’s important to listen to your inner-voice and pursue your passions. Although I believe in taking calculated risks, I believe that challenging yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone only makes you better!
Rebecca Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, you have been an absolute delightful!
I don’t think it would take a rocket scientist to figure out that I love this book. To be perfectly honest it blew me away.
There is something about Rebecca’s writing that leaves me in awe. It’s both comfortable and yet somewhat familiar.🤷♀️ We spoke about it during our conversation, using fantasy, science, and adventure her manuscript speaks to us in metaphors, and if only we would listen, it would make us all better at being human.
I’m hooked. I’m more that hooked I’m enamored.
I can not believe that before I read this book I have never heard of Rebecca Hefner. After reading her book I feel like I’ve known her my whole life. Very few authors can make their readers that comfortable. Yet, Rebecca makes it look easy. That is a beautiful thing that has came from a beautiful mind that has only begun to blossom. I’ve already started book two, The Elusive Sun 🔥🔥🔥🔥 and love it just as much.
I’m giving The End of Hatred five stars⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on Goodreads and Amazon because it’s a smart Sexy fun book to read!
If you haven’t read this book you should, I highly recommend it. Follow the link below to enter the wonderful world of Rebecca Hefner. You won’t regret it. 😉
Be on the look out for the rest of this 🔥 series… ❤❤
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” –Benjamin Franklin
L.M. Gose is a writer, wife, mother, editor, (Horse whisperer lol) She can be found on Twitter @LaPetiteWolfe and her website www.authorlmgose.com She’s a busy lady who recently published her book titled Ascend.
Johnny– Hello Leia welcome and thank you for taking some time to talk with me, you recently released Ascend, was this your first book?
Leia– First published. I’ve written others that didn’t make it to this stage.
Johnny– That being said, the “others that didn’t make it to this stage” are you ever tempted to revisiting those earlier books and fine-tune them into something that works? or do you move on, possibly reviving and integrating them into other ventures later?
Leia– I’ll likely go back eventually but it’s not a concern at the moment. So far I’ve plenty of ideas before I need to recycle some.
Johnny– I noticed, at one time that you listed on your Twitter bio that you’re an editor… did you edit Ascend yourself?
Leia– I sent it to someone but I felt it wasn’t thorough enough so in the end, I did red ink everything myself. I have also edited three other books by other authors as well as a few Thesis papers and many graduate level papers.
Johnny– That is remarkable, and very well done might I add. Is it safe to say you’ll be editing your future books as well?
Leia– With the help of my BETA readers.
Leia– Yes, it was preferable to the defeatism in the industry.
Johnny– Would you recommend self-publication to somebody that is looking to get published?
Leia– Everyone needs to make their own choices. They have to be confident with the decision to publish however they feel is best for them. I prefer creative control so this works for me.
Johnny– I’m a huge fan of cover art, do you design your covers?
Leia– No, actually, my niece-in-law LeÁnne Pelletier did. You can find out how to contact her on my website.
Johnny– How fortunate to have that kind of talent in the family. When your picking your cover, did you go to her with a certain design or style in mind?
Leia– Yes, I knew exactly what I wanted but lack the skills necessary to create. She was able to make my vision come to life perfectly.
Johnny– This is really a fast-paced book that covers a lot of territory, Biblical, Gnostic, Mythology, Folklore, there are a lot of references / research that had to happen in order to prep for this book. How long did it take you to develop and write Ascend?
Leia– I honestly believe this book has been trying to come out in one way or another for years, but I did zero research specifically for Ascend. It took me about 5 months from start to finish to write, edit and publish.
Johnny- That’s astounding, has writing always been easy or “naturally” for you?
Leia– I’d say yes. Writing, and reading, has always been linked to my survival in this world.
Johnny– This book caught me by surprise. I really wasn’t expecting the “depth” that you brought with it. What inspired you to write Ascend? Was it an idea that just come to you out of nowhere?
Leia– I can’t say there was any one thing except this year, I took a really long trip and reconnected with family I’d long since lost touch with. It was healing and I think that healing helped inspire me.
Johnny– I’m a fan, please tell me that there is another book coming out in this series.
Leia– Yes, I’m currently working on Descend, which is the sequel to Ascend and picks up right where the first book ends.
Johnny– Do you have an ETA for Descend?
Leia– Spring 2020.
Johnny– “Ascend” has so many good characters, (descriptions for each is spectacular), do you have a favorite?
Leia– Madoc Weatherly. I love his personality and ever-changing beard.
Johnny– Defiantly one of my favorite characters as well. Was there a specific inspiration behind your creation of Madoc?
Leia– I had a German Teacher that was a bit unusual who inspired the depth of the character. His beard was Pride parade inspired. I loved the idea of an ever-changing mood beard.
Johnny– Do you use family or friends when you developed your characters? You’re a mother with four kids, (and two horse), was Arya and Xavier inspired by any of your children?
Leia– Yes and no. The relationship between a boy and girl twin was inspired by my older two children, who are Irish Twins (but honestly, everyone has mistaken them for twins for 11 years now so it counts). I wanted to have a story that wasn’t focused on romance or even had the kindling of a spark of romance between the Main Characters. Having siblings allowed me the freedom from that.
Johnny– How are your horses? They had to have inspired you in this book, lol. Especially when creating Persephone.
Leia– I love my horses, and yes, I have to admit, they did help, but more my connection with horses my entire life. In Canada, my uncle and auntie who helped raise me have a herd of 12 strong and I was able to spend a lot of time with them in early February. Persephone actually inspired me to get a horse. I adopted my mare, Molly, in early June, which was about a month before I finished Ascend. I adopted my gelding, Durango, right after.
Johnny– What is your process? When you have a story or idea and you decide you want to make it a book, do you journal it down, let it percolate, or go to your computer and start banging it out?
Leia– I am terrible about explaining my process, but I’ll try. I write when I’m inspired and I sit down for about an hour a day to try to write something, but that’s very structured and I’m not. I like to use guided dreams to help me sort out issues with my characters. It inspired the battle scene in Ascend.
Johnny– We you say “guided dreams” are you talking about meditation?
Leia– No, it’s a therapeutic technique I learned to help me cope with nightmares. I’ve learned to use it to explore ideas that needed more development before writing.
Johnny– I think you had mentioned earlier that you use beta readers as part of your writing process? are these friends of yours?
Leia– Yes and yes. I wouldn’t trust anyone I didn’t know with my brain-babies. They earned the right to be part of my group though because they’ve me such amazing feedback. I’ve included a few others in my group this time too, to help make Descend even better.
Johnny– Some writers say that they edit and/or send to beta readers in chunks during their writing process, others wait and do both after completion so not to interfere with their flow. How do you handle that?
Leia– I do a chapter at a time. This allows me to focus on the chapters as a whole. I don’t edit until after the book is halfway at the minimum though. Otherwise, you get stuck in a horrible habit of hating your work.
Johnny– Any advice for any young writers that might be looking up to you as a role model?
Leia– Be kind in your life, not only to others but to yourself and that includes how you rate your own writing.
Johnny– Great advise, what genre do you enjoy reading?
Leia– Fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction and dystopias are some of my favorites.
Johnny– In today’s world, how important is a “Social Media presence” for Indie writers?
Leia– It’s obviously very important. Social Media is a real aspect of this world.
Johnny– Very generic question, who inspires you?
Leia– It might be generic but it’s very difficult to answer. I’m inspired by so many different people. I’ve been gifted with an extraordinary life of travel and met so many incredible human beings on this planet, from different countries and from different cultures and backgrounds. I’m inspired by them all.
Johnny– Where do you want to be in 10 years?
Leia– In the house I’m about to move into and in my third series, maybe. I hope to be successful enough to pay the mortgage at least once a year.
Johnny– Thank you Leia, it has been a pleasure talking to you. Best of luck to you. I loved Ascend and anxiously awaiting Descend due out Spring of 2020. Hopefully you will come back and talk with me again…
This book has everything that is desired when digesting, the story flows like a river, I don’t remember it dragging once, descriptive characters, I felt like I knew everyone that was introduced in this book. In the beginning I remember thinking I would have liked a little more description about Morningstar, however, in the end it all worked out.
So why mention it?
I said that to say this, stick around, about every question I had was answered during her telling of the story.
Going down the list, Ascend has something for everybody. It contains Heroes, Villains, Damsel in distress, a King, a Queen, Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, Warlocks along with an assortment of mythical creatures, just an all-around good time and good read.
About my only complaint turned out to be my only regret and it was that it had to end. 😒
Que Sera, Sera, I suppose that’s why there are sequels. 😉
Great job Leia! 🎉 I can’t sing your praises loud enough. You captured my imagination and made me a FAN.
Written as YA Fiction, Ascend joins the ranks of mainstream novels that will be enjoyed by all ages.
I’m giving Ascend 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on both Amazon and Goodreads. **If you enjoy indie authors as much as I do please be sure to buy their books, leave reviews, share and retweet.
You’ve met the writer – Leia M Gose
Now read her book – Ascend: Children of Lilith Book One (you won’t regret it). ✌❤