Category Archives: Author interviews

A Blog About Blogging

Today, multi genre author Marie Lavender describes her blogging ‘journey’ – and offers several ideas for new authors thinking of starting a blog. She also has a new publication of her own  out this week – see details at the end of this article.

Blogging: A Journey and Its Benefits – by Marie Lavender.

Marie Lavender LogoWhen I started publishing books back in 2010, I had read about launching a blog. So I went for it. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the first thing about blogging at the time. If you browse through my older entries, you can see the struggle. But we all learn. In 2012, I was invited to guest blog on Nicole Galloway’s site. From that experience I gleaned how it was supposed to look. Of course, over the years I’ve subscribed to numerous blogs, and I’ve picked up little nuances here and there. I kept myself open to trying out new projects, not just with my writing career, but as a blogger.

My first blogging venture was the Writing in the Modern Age blog (affectionately termed WritModAge). It was established in 2010, but I didn’t accept guest writers/authors until

March of 2013. Since then, the blog has expanded into a great place for writers at any stage of their careers to visit for advice, and for readers to find their new favorite authors. Posts range from articles with tips about writing, publishing or marketing, all the way to new releases and book features, cover reveals, poetry spotlights, author interviews, service interviews, the Author’s Bookshelf Feature, occasional multi-author book giveaways, and special annual writers’ participation events, such as our 350th Anniversary post “What Does Your Writing Process Look Like?” On Writing in the Modern Age, we average about 95 guest authors featured per year, but that doesn’t count the new ones that donate books in our giveaways.

Another site I launched around the same time was Marie Lavender’s Books! blog (affectionately named MLB). The MLB blog was established in 2012, when I began writing articles and sharing writer news equally between my two blogs at the time. In 2015, I started accepting guest authors through exclusive author interviews, book spotlight interviews, cover reveals and new release features. We average about 60 to 70 guest authors featured per year on the MLB blog. I still post my own articles on both of those. I have another blog through my author website, offering updates, but that one is definitely smaller for now.


The final blog I want to mention is the I Love Romance Blog (ILRB). This blog was launched in 2014, with the intent of centering it on discussions about romance novels, as well as tips on romantic relationships. At first, not knowing exactly where to go with the blog, I posted random thoughts on romance, then started writing and posting romantic poetry. Soon enough, however, I networked and hosted character interviews, and the blog evolved to include other features like new releases, cover reveals and promoting free Amazon days for authors, presenting romantic guest posts, poetry spotlights, special events like multi-author book giveaways, or our latest popular series, “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” Our upcoming feature is titled “Heroes & Heroines”, which will entail a glimpse into each author’s take on a character (what drove them to write the story or kept them up at night). Each year on this blog, we have 60+ guest authors and average about 20,000 visitors and 40,000 total views.


So, what are the benefits of blogging as a writer?

  1. You will find your blogging niche. Discover what interests you and tell others about it in a unique, fun way. Plus, you can talk about your books in a manner that doesn’t sound like shameless promotion.
  1. You can meet new readers. I can’t tell you how many people have emailed me, or tagged me on social media, just to thank me for a great blog post!
  1. Readers need a way to keep connected with you. Whether you decide to get into indie publishing or go a more traditional route, you must find a way to reach potential readers. Even traditional publishers expect new authors to have a blog, or at least a website with a blog option. In my case, I have four blogs. I still write articles now and then for my blogs, but I am usually hosting all these great people, you know?

Blogging, however, is a great method for learning about others, and to show readers your utterly human side. Yes, even those foolish mistakes, the wins and losses we don’t always talk about.

My blogs aren’t the New York Times, but I’d like to believe I’ve made an impact on readers and writers alike. None of blogging was easy (don’t get me started on the occasional tech issues), yet in the process I’ve gained author friends and met people whom I never imagined I would. And last but not least, I helped other authors by promoting their work, and even assisted fledgling writers in making their mark on the world.

Marie Directions of the Heart - eBook cover

Thank you for reading about my blogs, and feel free to check out my modern romantic drama collection, Directions of the Heart, which was officially released on the 25th July!

Purchase Links for Directions of the Heart:                  


Guest Blogger Bio: Bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 21 other books. Mystery Blogger Award for 2017. A to Z Blog Challenge Survivor in 2016. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 10 Authors on Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, dramatic fiction, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several multi-author anthologies. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series, The Blood at First Sight Series and The Code of Endhivar Series.



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Meet author Jeffery Martin Botzenhart

Jeff B 1Jeffery Martin Botzenhart is a writer whose genres have included romance, steampunk, historical, science fiction – and more…

What is the title of your latest book? 

The title of my latest book is Daybreak (Book One of the 4 part Nightfall Series).  The story is set in 2035 San Francisco and revolves around Sebastian, a sixteen year old runaway who innocently accesses a sophisticated virtual reality program, which unknowingly leads to revelations of a world-wide robotic conspiracy.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

For me, the writing itself comes pretty easy.  It’s like sitting back in the seat at a movie theatre and watching this incredible film come to life.  The most challenging part of being a writer is finding readers interested in my stories.  I started out as a romance writer, but I don’t write the current popular trends which seem to be focused on billionaires, cowboys, shape-shifters, and aliens. Jeff B 2

My stories are a mixture of contemporary, steampunk, and historical (with settings such as the Vietnam War and the days leading up to the Second World War).  As for my young adult stories being published by Solstice Publishing, they focus on elements of science-fiction.

For me the most rewarding part of being a writer has been the kind comments and reviews left by those who have read and appreciated what I’ve written.  They inspire me to continue on this journey as a writer.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

Write the story you want to tell.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.  Though I am inspired by other writers, I don’t set out to retell their stories.  Make your story unique.

 What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a family drama set at a lake-side cabin in the Adirondack Mountains.

 What do you like to read?

I’m pretty open to everything.  When I first started reading novels I gravitated toward Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen King.  But later I moved on to stories by C.S. Lewis, S.E. Hinton, and J.D. Salinger.  Although I have been told that I’m a gifted romance writer, this is the genre I least read.

 Jeff B 3

Where can readers find your books?

All my books are available on Amazon Kindle Reads.  I also post weekly on my author page:





Meet author T. Joseph Kelly.

Tom Kelly-Photo

In the latest installment of author interviews, I would like to introduce you to T. Joseph Kelly.

Tom has actually met, and had advice about writing from, John Grisham. Yes really! Read on to find out when – and what the advice was!


What is the title of your latest book? (In a nutshell what is it about?)

The Last Black Hundred. The President of the United States has been infected with smallpox and has 48 hours to live. Only a handful of the President’s closest advisers are aware of her condition. The perpetrator is a Russian dissident who hates democracy, the United States and pro-western values and ideals. He wants a return to the “cold-war” days where Russia was feared around the world. His accomplice is the Vice President’s wife, whose parents were killed during the 1950s by greedy research companies who wanted to be the first to find a cure for smallpox. TJ Kelly 1

Dr. Brody Moses, a young navy physician and Denise Adamchik, an NSA analyst and expert in Russian culture and anti-American activity, are engaged to find a cure and bring the perpetrator to justice. They have 48 hours to do it or the President dies.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

 It’s finding the time. I have a very busy professional career and I find it challenging to balance the career, family and writing. I’m also finding hard just to find time to do the reading I enjoy.

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

 First–Persevere!!! Be committed to seeing the book finished. Second, develop, if you don’t already have one, a “thick skin.” Rejection, in general, is difficult for most people but as an aspiring writer in comes in droves!! Be tough, have confidence in who you are and take pride in your own writing style.

Forgive the digression but it’s a lesson I learned long ago from John Grisham…yes, thee John Grisham. Back in the mid ’90s I was doing some work for former New Jersey Senator, Bill Bradley. His staff was having a fund-raiser dinner/cocktail reception for him. What I didn’t know was that John Grisham was a big fan of Senator Bradley. Mr. Grisham was the guest speaker that evening and so I actually had dinner with him. He told me and other attendees his story. After he wrote his first book, A Time to Kill, he couldn’t get an agent or a book deal. Finally, a small publisher in Tarrytown, New York offered him a publishing contract. He said he couldn’t give the books away! Nobody knew him and no one wanted to pay $20 for one of his books. He also said that many of these first printing books were kept in the trunk of his car. He was so disgusted as a writer that, occasionally, he would stop by a dumpster and throw a whole box of books away!!! Of course, if you had a first edition of A Tim to Kill now, it’s probably worth $4-7,000 on eBay!!! His advice to me was to “never quit. Even if you don’t sell one book, take satisfaction in knowing that you accomplished something that you’ve always wanted to do.” I found this to be very inspiring.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just started to write a sequel to my first book A Snake in the Dome.

 What do you like to read?

I rotate between popular novels from authors like, Grisham, Patterson, Demille, and my favorite, Ian McEwan. Also throw in a classic here and there. Just finished To Kill a Mocking Bird. Amazing book!

Where can readers find you? I’m available at

Want to find out more about The Last Black Hundred? Below is a synopsis.

From the moment the sound of the phone startled Dr. Brody Moses from a troublesome sleep he knew his life was about to change. His eyes, still clinging with morning dew, began to focus on his digital clock that repeatedly blinked 6:00 AM. His mind tried to get a grip on what the Secret Service Agent just told him. “An armored-plated Suburban will pick you up in 15 minutes. Leave quietly. Oh…Dr. McBride-I don’t need to remind you of your duty to God and country, do I?”

Up until that fateful moment, Dr. Moses lived a relatively uneventful, some might consider, boring life. After high school, he joined the Navy, looking for the cheapest way to become a physician. Given his humble upbringing, he needed the educational benefits the military service provided. Determined not to come out of medical school with a lifetime of debt to pay, focused entirely on making the most of his classroom time. As a result, he received his medical degree from Georgetown and his PhD from John Hopkins. He thought himself an expert in infectious diseases…that is, until now. What he was about to find out about the President’s life-threatening condition would throw his whole academic and scientific world into chaos.   

Across town another young, brilliant, civil servant was receiving the same kind of phone call. Denise Adamchik, special agent for the National Security Agency (NSA) was abruptly awoken by the ominous voice of a secret service agent. “Be ready in fifteen minutes…and disappear quietly.”

Agent Adamchik was raised in a very competitive, patriotic family. Her twin brother joined the marines and volunteered for a tour of duty in the Middle East. Unfortunately, he was killed by an IED. His death inspired her to fight terrorism wherever it grew. As the Russian Bear began to raise its ugly head again she decided to focus on them. And this made perfect sense to here. She was of Russian decent and studied Russian History at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Her heritage and her passion were a perfect match. After being highly recruited by many government agencies, including the Department of Defense and Homeland Security, she joined the National Security Agency and quickly became a rising star. She became an expert in Russian culture and anti-American activities. And now, her intellect and her courage were being called upon in ways she could have never envisioned.     

Dr. Moses and Agent Adamchik arrive at the White House and are whisked to a room somewhere in the basement. Complete strangers to one another, Brody and Denise join the meeting already in progress. At the table: the President’s Chief of Staff; the Directors of Homeland Security, CIA, FBI and the Surgeon General. This post-traumatic, shell-shocked, group of elder statesmen inform them that the President of the United States lies critically ill in the Bethesda Naval Hospital. She has been inexplicably infected with variola virus…a.k.a. smallpox. If an antidote is not developed, she will most certainly die within forty-eight hours. Needless to say, no one can offer a clue as to how the President could have been infected, especially in the post 911 era, where the value of privacy has been replaced with security.

In 1980, The World Health Organization declared that the smallpox disease had been eradicated from the face of the earth. They also requested that all laboratories either destroy their remaining stocks of variola virus or transfer them to one of two WHO reference laboratories – The Institute of Viral Preparations in Moscow, or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. It appears that not all laboratories complied with this request.

Dmitri Yablonski, a Russian scientist and loyalist to the former Russian system of Communism is disgruntled with the pro-western approach to government. After a tumultuous decade of painful economic reforms, and elections characterized by pro-democratic images and ideas, he mobilizes his hatred into one last act of vengeance. His alliance with the Russian Mafia help him secure the deadly virus and with the aid of the Vice President’s wife, whose parents were both sacrificed by a ruthless and corrupt American research firm attempting to develop a cure for smallpox during the 1950’s, he is able to smuggle a vial of variola virus into the White House in the form of the flu mist vaccine. The vial is conveniently concealed in the inside pocket of the red blazer worn by of one of members of the Russian Boys Choir, whose last command performance while on tour of the United States is at the White House.

Agent Adamchik’s charge: identify the perpetrator and coordinate the resources necessary to bring him to justice. She is given the nation’s highest security clearance and access to everyone and anyone who she believes to be a suspect.

Dr. Moses’s charge: save the President’s life. Since smallpox had been eradicated back in 1980 there no longer exists a vaccine. And since the antibodies can only be developed within the human body, Dr. Moses realizes that he must become a human guinea pig and provide the culture in which to cultivate the antibodies. There’s really no other choice…without this, the President dies. With the help of his longtime friend and mentor Dr. Miles Rooney, the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Science back in 1955, they develop an aggressive formula that will expedite the effect of the virus and allow Dr. Rooney to develop the vaccine within the next 48 hours.

Professor Rooney develops the antibodies and shrewdly, ironically, they are administered to the President by none other than the man who poisoned her to begin with…Dmitri Yablonski. While Dmitri and his fellow conspirators are planning for his triumphant return to St. Petersburg, where he anticipates becoming the next Czar of Russia, the President is recovering nicely in Washington. Via satellite, the Russian people witness the President waving to the adoring crowd surrounding the hospital. Feeling obviously betrayed, Dmitri is overwhelmed by the once reverent audience and his body is never found.

P.S. My own novels and short stories are available from my Amazon author pages:                                                                                   My latest collection of short stories, CAST OFF,  based on characters in plays by Shakespeare, is available from Friday 14th July. See my last post for more information.

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Meet Author M. A. Cortez

Next up in my intermittent series of author interviews this summer, is YA author M. A. Cortez. Welcome Mary Ann!

mary Ann 3What is the title of your latest book? (In a nutshell what is it about?)

Sister Sleuths and The Wailing Darkness is book two of the YA Sister Sleuth series. Teen twins Sam and Sandy find themselves in the middle of a mystery when a banshee shows up in town just about the same time as new exchange student Darcy O’Sullivan. One of the twins, Sam, is on the spectrum and has a heightened sensitivity to beings in the spiritual realm. She becomes obsessed with the notion that the banshee’s prediction of death could include one of their own. But neither twin expect the twists and turns their lives take after the arrival of the banshee.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding? The most challenging part of being a writer, for me, is working through the middle of my stories. I know in my head what I want to happen but getting from point A to B and still keeping the story strong can be a challenge. I go through several drafts before I find something that works. Also, just getting myself to write every day is a huge challenge. I get distracted easily and before I know it the day is over and I haven’t written a word. Most rewarding, finishing a story and creating characters that people fall in love with.

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

NEVER give up. Keep writing, and reading. Reading is just as important to your writing as putting your own words down on paper. Also, take time every day to move forward toward your dream.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have several projects in the works including a few picture books but the third book in the Sister Sleuths series is at the top of my list at the moment.

What do you like to read?  

sister sleuths & shadowman-001 (1)

I read a lot of YA mysteries. I also love biographies.

Where can readers find you ?

Instagram@ Bookwormyxoxo Sister Sleuths-001



Watch the trailer:





A peep behind the door of a Publishing House.

I have interviewed several authors on this blog in the past year. Most have been published by one or other of the ‘Indie’ publishers. But what is it like to be a publisher? And what is a publisher looking for in authors they choose to take on? Here Kate Collins, who is herself a noted author, describes her work with  the American publisher, Solstice Publishing.

KateMarie CollinsHello Kate, what is your job title?  Chief Operating Officer.

 And what does the job entail? A little bit of everything, to be honest. I upload the books, take care of contract renewals, pull books and send releases when a renewal doesn’t happen/author requests it, do the math for the monthly statements, send out those statements, set up promo days, mediate problems between authors and editors/staff. I’m also the cheerleader and do my best to motivate the authors to get out there and promote!

What is the skill set you need for a job like this? What attracted you to the job?

A high degree of professionalism, excellent writing/communication skills, and the ability to tell someone they’re not going to get what they want without making them mad. Most of the time.

I fell into this job, actually. I started with Solstice as the executive assistant to our CEO, Melissa Miller, and the Editor in Chief for the Shadows line. Approximately a year later, Ms. Miller decided to hire someone else for the EIC job and told me that she’d already changed my title on the website. That’s how I found out I was the Chief Operating Officer.

Does being a publishing executive help or hinder your work as an author? 

It helps, really. I’ve got an understanding of both sides of the coin. I understand as an author what it takes to write a good book. By being COO, I also understand what publishers do and don’t do. It gives me a truly unique perspective on every aspect of what it takes to be a successful author.

What advice can you give to any aspiring writer looking to submit a manuscript for publication?

We want authors who will promote their book, not drag our name into a flame war by association. Posting 3 or 4 memes about politics or faith and then following it up with 1 about your book? Not going to work for us. If you can, keep your personal views out from your public image as an author.

Any advice for someone looking for a job like yours?

Don’t expect it to drop into your lap like mine did. I love my job. I have the best possible job for me. I get excited on Sunday about coming to work on Monday! It’s hard work. There’s days I want to scream at authors. And there’s days I celebrate with them. This is one of the few businesses where the nice guy finishes first. This is true for both author and executive. You want to do high school drama and back-stab people? This isn’t the career for you. It’ll take time, but you’ll get noticed because of your work ethic and how well you interact with people more than not.

I am delighted to report that Kate, who writes under the name KateMarie Collins, has agreed to do an author interview for this blog later in the year. Meanwhile, you can find copies of her work (and mine!) on Amazon books, and on the website for Solstice Publishing.

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Meet Author Christopher Davis.

Over the next few months I plan to run a number of interviews with authors on my blog. All types of genres apart from extremes of gore or erotica (it’s a blog with a family viewing target audience after all!) To kick us off I’m pleased to introduce American Chris 3crime/ Western / Sci-fi (and other things in the mix) author, Christopher Davis.

Hi Chris!

Hello Margaret and thank you so much for having me. It’s always great to get out once in a while.

 What is the title of your latest book?

 There are two this year from Solstice Publishing, Walking to Chris 1Babylon and Ain’t No Law in California.

Walking to Babylon is a short crime novel, which is a retelling of a story that was published in a cancer anthology from England.

 Ain’t No Law in California has wanted to be a western for more than 8 years. A rewrite incorporating elements of sci-fi and steampunk found a home. So it’s traditional western with zombies and flying machines.

 Both stories take place in and around Las Vegas. It wasn’t planned that way.

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

 It’s a tough business no matter how you look at it.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

 Don’t do it kid! There are plenty of other ways to spend your many hours of time.

 What are you working on at the moment?

 At the moment, I’m rewriting a sequel to both of the stories above. The crime story will continue in Vegas where the other left off, To Watch a Man Die.

 The sci-fi western is yet untitled, but I hope to have it together soon.

What do you like to read?

 History, early American, military, Civil War. I sort of became a student of that war after living near Gettysburg for a few years. I do read a lot of indie crime too. King and Koontz are favorites.

Chris 2


Where can readers find you?


Amazon Author Page

Solstice Publishing










Meet Author David A Wilson

On my blog today is children’s author, and dragon dreamer, David A Wilson. Like me, David lives in Coventry, UK, and is a member of the Coventry Writers’ Group.David Wilson

What is the title of your recent book? (In a nutshell what is it about?)

 Aaron Gray and the Dragon War is a book about an extremely bratty kid called Aaron who says “Crud” a lot. He lives in a children’s care home and has the same dream every night about dragons fighting each other around a castle. One day he gets sucked into the dragons’ world and is sent on a quest with another kid called Julia to try and stop a dragon war.  Julia’s generally quite thrilled about the whole thing. Aaron isn’t.

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

 It turns out that there are rules about when to use commas and exclamation marks. No matter how hard I try I never get it right and have to kill off all punctuation mistakes when editing. Sometimes I let a few stay in out of pity. The most rewarding part is that I have this whole world of characters and fantasy creatures that I get to explore. I’ve especially grown fond of Aaron and can’t wait to send him on more adventures in the future.

 Tell us a bit about everything you needed to do to get your book published – and launched. What worked? What you wouldn’t do again?

David Wilson 2Well Aaron Gray is self-published, rather than going through a publisher who already knows what they’re doing. The steps are all still the same, but it’s me doing them all rather than clever people in an office somewhere. I had to find my own editors to critique my book and find any errors, then find a printer and distributer, then find someone to design the cover because my art skills are shocking,  then format the book for printing and for e-books, then market the book myself and approach booksellers. Oh and before all that I had to write the book too.

My main piece of advice would be to give yourself plenty of time between your final book edit and publication. Getting books printed takes time, and every time you contact someone like Waterstones there’s a 30 working day (6 week) wait before you get a reply. You also need to take time to plan your book launch and contact your local media. I tried to do all of this in about 6 weeks, which as you can imagine posed some problems!

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

 Decide what you want to write and write it. Don’t stop because it’s rubbish. First drafts are supposed to be rubbish. Don’t even stop and edit what you’ve written before. Just write whatever you need to write until your story’s finished. Then give yourself a week or so, go back to your story and start to craft it into something special.

 What are you working on at the moment?

 Book two! Aaron Gray and the <cough cough cough> is all plotted out and I’m hoping to have the first draft finished by the end of May.

 What do you like to read?

 I have a ridiculously  strict reading regimen, making sure that I’ve read one book in each of the following four genres before returning to the top of the list.

  • A children’s/YA book (because that’s my genre)
  • A christian/spritual book (good for the soul)
  • A book that is considered a classic (because there are so many amazing books I haven’t read)
  • A book recommended by a book club (to see what’s currently popular)

Where can readers find you (Amazon links etc)?

 The easiest thing to do is check out my website at, which has links to all the various bookstores and new content three times each week. You can also find me on facebook at .