Beyond the Cover-Author Interview with Dana Volney

a-heart-for-the-holidays-final-cover Dana Volney is one of the most amazing people. Sweet and spunky she’s the kind of person who convinces you that you can do anything. She and Jami Wagner were kind enough to let me tagalong with them when we became friends at RT15 in Dallas. They’re my first real author friends and definitely my favorite.

In honor of the upcoming holidays we’re running a giveaway for two free digital copies of one of her amazing holiday romances. Check out her website and see a list of all her books on Amazon. I’m sure you’ll love her as much as I do!


Dana Volney

  1. What is your favorite author quote?

“You never turn your back upon a dream, for phantoms have their reasons when they come.”
–Robert Lowell

  1. What is the most valuable piece of writing (or other) advice that you’ve ever been given?

“There are no new stories, just new voices.” This actually helped me a TON. When I first started exploring writing fiction I was almost paralyzed because I thought “I have to come up with something that has never, ever, EVER, ever been done before. How do I do that?” And while, of course, fresh ideas are never a bad thing, chances are some form of an idea has already been written. That one simple sentence put my mind at ease and allowed me to be creative.

  1. What is the first idea you ever had for a book?

I believe it was for a romance between a real estate agent and a contractor. I was watching a lot of HGTV at the time! I think I got a couple of chapters written on that one before I moved on to the next idea.

  1. Which character was the most fun to write?

To date, I’ve had the most fun writing Felix Ibarra and Arabella Nox from Protecting His Heart. They were so edgy, combative due to their history, and tough people. I had a good time with them and their attitudes. LOL! The pain below the surface for both of them was also interesting to explore and a bit of a challenge at times. But, I’m always up for a challenge!

  1. Describe your dream writing/reading space:

Oh, this is a question for my Pinterest boards! Hahaha There are so many ideas floating around out there that are amazing, and I’d take any number of them. My perfect space for reading, however, is at the beach where it’s sunny but I’ve got shade, a nice chair that reclines, and the sound of lapping waves at my feet. To write I’d take the same scenario—I like to be able to glance away from my screen and view scenery to let ideas flow. Great, it’s cold out right now and all I want is the lake!

  1. Why did you decide to become an author?

It wasn’t so much decide, as loved the concept the more I learned about it. The idea of becoming an author started when I was reading a lot but I didn’t pursue it for many years. I finally took a class on fiction writing and the more I learned, the more I wrote. And, the more I let my creativity loose, the more fun I had. I loved every aspect of it. It’s not an easy industry to love, either. I’ve tried to quit a couple of times but can’t let it go. It’s in my blood now. It’s too intriguing to create a world, create characters, create a story that means something to stop now.

  1. Have you ever accidentally dropped a book in the tub? If so, what was it?

Ha! Yes! It was One For The Money by Janet Evanovich. I know this because I still have it, wrinkles from water and all! But, never fear, I still read it and laughed all the way through.



Thanks, Dana, for taking the time to complete an author interview! We’re so happy to have you! Readers: don’t forget to enter the giveaway and Happy Holidays!

Writing Tip of the Week-Meeting Deadlines #NaNoWriMo

This is particularly relevant now since it is National Novel Writing Month! We are halfway through the month, so ideally we should all be halfway through our novels. 😉 Here are some tips provided by H.M Clarke at Book Marketing Tools to help all of us get through the rest of November.

  • Prioritize-Decide which minor goals will benefit your major end goal and then start with the most important and work down. Whether that’s meeting a certain word count/page count/chapters per day, gaining a certain number of social media followers per week, or writing a particular number of query letters, etc. its up to you, but evaluate what is going to benefit you and your goals the best.
  • Be Realistic, Not Negative-Sometimes deadlines cannot be met and that’s okay.  “It is important to not feel like a failure when this happens. What is important is to learn from the experience and ask yourself why you did not meet the deadline, and what you can do next time to prevent it from happening in the future.” –H.M Clarke
  • Write Like There’s No Tomorrow – Don’t Procrastinate!! There will always be something less important than your writing that will tempt to drag you away like cleaning, surfing Twitter, or shopping. Complete these tasks ahead of your scheduled writing time and you won’t be tempted to avoid writing.
  • Take Tiny Manageable Steps-Sometimes we try to take on too much at once and become “intimidated” by the tasks at hand. “Strip away the intimidation by breaking down the project into smaller, manageable tasks.” –H.M Clarke
  • Stay on Point by Using the Right Tools-Organize your goals and have those goals easily accessible and visible. You could use a calendar app, notebook, chalkboard, journal, post-its, etc.

I wish all of you a no stress, organized, happy, deadline meeting rest of the month!! I hope these tips encourage and motive you! Let me know what tips you are already using to meeting your writing deadline goals.


Beyond the Cover-Author Interview with Brenda Drake

I first learned of Brenda at RT15 when she led a session. The session was a panel of agents and editors and Brenda did a fantastic job of being the moderator. It wasn’t until I checked out her website after the session that I realized that she’s kind of a big deal. She’s the founder of PitchWars — which you should all try to be a part of if you haven’t already — but more than that, she’s just an all around good person. You can tell from the second you meet her that she’s amazing. Check out her latest book Thief of Lies and pre-order the second book Guardian of Secrets.


Brenda Drake

  1. What is your favorite author quote?

Growing up, my parents had an old collection of Mark Twain books. There are many authors I love, but Mark Twain is one author who has some of the most profound quotes. My favorite of his is… “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

  1. What is the most valuable piece of writing (or other) advice that you’ve ever been given?

Read. A lot. It really is true that to be an author, you must read many books by different authors. Reading will teach you how to write and open your mind to finding your own voice.

  1. What is the first idea you ever had for a book?

My first idea for a book was when I was a young girl. Most my stories were about animals, naturally. But my first novel I completed (many were given up before finishing) was a disaster. It was a horrible story—a Narnia type of book with portals and creatures. But I learned a lot about writing while creating that manuscript and I discovered I could finish a novel. I call that first one my practice novel. And it’s probably, with all its horribleness, my favorite one because of what it taught me and because I had so much fun writing it.

  1. Which character was the most fun to write?

This is such a difficult question. I have fun with all my characters. When I don’t like them, I cut them out or kill them. Ha! But seriously, I think it has been Gia in the Library Jumpers series. She’s a combination of many girls I love in my life. When I’m in her head, I can relive the joys I’ve had with my girls.

  1. Describe your dream writing/reading space:

My dream writing space would be a comfortable office with large picturesque windows and endless views of the Land of Enchantment. It’s where I write now. So I guess I’ve accomplished my dream.

  1. Why did you decide to become an author?

I’ve been a storyteller since I was girl. I’m not sure it was ever a decision. It just came to me. Taking the next step to get my work published, came after I married my husband and became a stay-at-home mom. I needed something for me, and writing filed that need.

  1. Have you ever accidentally dropped a book in the tub? If so, what was it?

No. If that had ever happened to me, I would’ve been devastated. But I could imagine a book I would drop. It would have to be one that would scare the begeebers out of me like Salem’s Lot or It by Stephen King.


Thanks, Brenda, for stopping by! We loved having you!

Beyond the Cover-Author Interview with Jami Wagner

I met Jami a couple years ago at RT15. I met her and Dana Volney on the flight from Salt Lake to Dallas and we ended up taking a cab together to the hotel. We all instantly became friends and they’ll never know how nice it felt to have someone to talk to. It was my first conference and I was so nervous, but Jami and Dana let me be their friend and I’m eternally grateful to them.

Jami is the kind of friend I wish I’d had in high school — that friend who is supportive to the point that she’ll will kick anyone’s butt who makes you feel less than amazing. Check out her fun author interview below and take a look at her Black Alcove series!


Jami Wagner

  1. What is your favorite author quote?

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” ― Stephen King

I even use this quote in my first Black Alcove series novel, Just One Kiss. To me, it applies to much more in life than just writing.

  1. What is the most valuable piece of writing (or other) advice that you’ve ever been given?

As cliché as it sounds, the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is that just because your book isn’t right for one person doesn’t mean it won’t be for the next. I remember the first time I heard that. I thought it was just a polite way to turn me down, but after a while I realized how true those words were.  People will either enjoy or not enjoy your books. Every person is different and even though you wrote the book, each person who reads them, will interpret the story in their own way.

  1. What is the first idea you ever had for a book?

The first idea I ever had for a book was about two girls right out of high school who wanted to take a road trip to learn what the world had to offer them. I wrote quite a bit in their story, but sadly dropped my external hard drive (the one my dad gave me that would hold an obscene amount of files) with everything I’d ever written in my first year of writing. It shattered and I had to start all over, minus a few scenes I wrote and emailed to myself. Someday, I plan to come back to that original story, but till then, I will always always backup my files. Maybe even have a backup for my backup.

  1. Which character was the most fun to write?

Beth Moyer. She is the heroine in my next novel, Just One Spark. She has no filter which gives me more freedom than any of my other characters have at this point.

  1. Describe your dream writing/reading space:

I don’t really have a dream writing space. As long as no one is trying to have a conversation with me while I’m writing, I can write anywhere. If I had to pick, though, I’d choose a place outside (doesn’t matter where), in the sun with no wind, and no glare shining off my computer screen.

My dream reading space would be any spot where I can curl up and read distraction free. Where time isn’t an issue and going to bed because I have to get up and go to work the next day doesn’t exist.

  1. Why did you decide to become an author?

I haven’t always been a reader or writer. One Christmas my sister gave me a novel by Jamie McGuire. I read and finished that book in one day and something clicked. The way this author made me feel was incredible. She made me feel like I was in a different world, living a different life. That’s when I decided that I wanted to create that feeling for others. So I started to read more and then I started to write. I haven’t been able to stop since.


Thanks, Jami, for stopping by! Everyone be sure to check out her website and her latest book Just One Moment.

Writing Tip of the Week-Picking Point of View

one-way-street-1113973_1920Before writing any story you should consider which point of view you would like to use. Whatever you choose will determine the tone and outcome of your novel. If your book were written in 1st person and then you wrote the same story presented in 3rd person you would have 2 completely different books. Roz Morris (author and editor) offers a few pointers to help you decide what to use on her blog Nail Your Novel. Her first point is pretty straightforward, if your novel is more about the characters and their development use First Person. If your novel is more about events then use Third person. However, if your plot/story is a little more complicated and you want to be more creative with point of view she addresses these concerns as well. Read the full article here.

Rock that writing!


Print-It Will Survive

I think everyone, especially authors, writers, and readers nervously anticipated the death of the hard copy novel the last few years. But according to this study, the consumption of printed books continues to thrive with no indication of decline any time soon.

I have my own thoughts as to why people will continue to turn to printed books and novels in this extremely digital world. Reading a tangible book is so different from anything that can be read digitally. Being able to feel, smell, write notes on and turn the pages of a book makes it seem as though you are apart of the story. Its almost as if you are keeping the book alive and sharing in its earthly experience.

“Humans seem to read differently when given the same text on a screen instead of on a page – and are distracted more easily – so less of what we read sticks,” (Frank Catalano, Paper is Back: Why ‘Real Books’ Are On The Rebound-Geekwire).

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Hardback/paperback books also have aesthetic quality to them. They can be displayed in the home as a work of art or as part of a rare collection.

“Having a hardcover on my shelf is like having a print by one of my favorite artists on the wall,” Jack Cheng (web designer and author, quote taken from Mashable article).

Printed books serve as a non-traditional journal of sorts; a reminder of memories you have that are attached to those books; where you were when they were purchased, where they were read, why you read them, scribbles of thoughts you had in the pages while you were reading, who you discussed your books with, or what you learned from each book.

“People who need to possess the physical copy of a book, not merely an electronic version, believe that the objects themselves are sacred,” Author Joe Queenan (quote taken from Mashable article).

I’ll admit that I own a Kindle, but it is mainly used for convenience. E-readers are great for traveling. You have the ability to load many books onto one device instead of packing books that will take up space in your suitcase and add to its weight. But again the reading experience on a device does not compare to that of reading on paper.

One day printed books may become as rare as a cassette tape or floppy disk, but until that day comes I will cherish and honor the beautiful, tactile, and unique experiences provided to me through reading on real pieces of paper.