July Author Spotlight — M.J. Kaestli

The fireworks are over, unless you live in my neighborhood which seems to think two weeks before and two weeks after the 4th of July is primetime for fireworks until all hours of the night.

So why should we stop the fireworks? And this time, I don’t mean the ones that go BOOM and frighten my tiny puppy.

These fireworks come from a seemingly endless pool of fiery romance. So let’s meet the source of this fun, steamy romance that’s better than a roman candle backfiring and hitting your neighbor’s leaf pile…

M.J. Kaestli writes Young Adult (YA) Dystopian Romance. She writes strong female leads who don’t know they were born to conquer the world.

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Hi, M.J.! Thanks for joining us. Please give our readers an introduction of yourself, not just the writer in you, but who you are.

I’ve created and shared stories since I could speak and written them since I could
hold a pen. I publish under M. J. Kaestli and I’m primarily writing YA Dystopian
(currently 5 out of 7 books in series).

On top of writing, I’m also a book reviewer. I post weekly book recommendations
on my website, YouTube channel, Instagram and Facebook. If you enjoy YA,
Dystopian, and Urban Fantasy, then come check out my reviews!

I live in Vancouver Canada and I love and go for nature walks along the sea wall
or in the forested areas. I hope to someday soon add a dog to those walks and my
home. I will admit, I often walk in the off-leash section of the park just so I can pet
all the dogs. It’s time I get my own…

What genre do you prefer to write and why?

My first love is Dystopian and I have since I was a kid. I think the reason is
because my dad was a survivalist. Any and every illness, turn in the economy,
governmental change, and new technology were all viewed as potential culprits for
bringing the end. How life as we knew it would soon end was weekday
conversation at the dinner table in my house.

I used to have regular nightmares as a kid and often daytime anxiety as well. I
thought way too much about how or if I would survive our looming destruction.
When I discovered Dystopian books at first it was a comfort because it represented
the reality I lived in and always ended well.

I know it sounds like I should hate Dystopian, but I think it safely explores
elements of humanity that really opens the mind to what surrounds you. I don’t
write out of fear of the future but more out of wanting to see the world on a wider
spectrum, to consider what I’ve never considered.

Do you write under a pseudonym? What made you decide to do so/or not? What
inspired your pseudo?

Yes, M. J. Kaestli is a pen name. There were a few reasons why I wanted to
publish under a pen name but I’d say the most prevalent is because I want to write
so many different genres. I’m a fan of grouping genres together under one
umbrella to protect the reader and ensure they continue to get what they want
without confusion.

I knew I wanted this pen name to feature strong female leads so I drew inspiration
from the strong women in my life. The M is for Michelle which is my real first
name. The J is for Jean which was my mothers name. And Kaestli was the maiden
name of my great-grandmother. I never got to meet her but was inspired by stories
of her as a child. She seemed to have more spunk and attitude than what was
deemed appropriate in her day.

Do you have a small or large circle of author friends? How do they help you
become a better writer?

My circle of non-writer friends has become rather thin. Most of my friends both
locally and online are fellow writers.

I’m heavily involved with my local Nanowrimo community. We formed our own
group outside of the annual writing challenge and host weekly write-ins. I think
writers need to be constantly surrounded by other writers, even just to have people
who make you feel normal.

As writers, we sacrifice so much of our personal time and money in pursuit of a
dream most think isn’t realistic. It’s too easy to give into self-doubt, insecurity, or
doing something easier with our time. We need each other for emotional support.
There is also a huge perk to get an extra set of eyes on your work or to have
someone to bounce ideas off of. Collaboration helps to keep the words flowing,

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or do you prefer writing series?

I’m incapable of writing short stories or stand alone novels. If the idea isn’t
multiple books with complex plots then I can’t get excited enough about it to get
through the writing process.

The State Series has overlapping timelines with multiple character points of view.
It has taken me longer to finish than I would have liked so moving forward, I plan
to work more in worlds with multiple series while releasing the timeline and main
character. I hope this speeds up my process while holding the integrity of what I
love in the finer details.

Do you base characters off people you know If so, do you let them know before
they read the novel?

Everyone and everything I’ve experienced in my life has an impact on my writing.
Modeling characters after real people isn’t something I do with intent, but can
happen organically. And yes, if I become aware of it (which usually takes time for
me to see it) I will tell them.

My main character Freya in The State Series was just a character to me until I
finished writing the first 3 books. While editing, I realized that Freya in so many
ways was my mom. She passed before I finished writing Compliant and so I never
got the chance to tell her.

What does success as a writer look like to you?

This is a hard question as there are multiple levels of success. Naturally, I want to
earn enough money that I don’t have to do anything else to live. I want to focus
full-time on writing and have the money to hire out all the background work I can
so that I can write even more.

But there are other kinds of success than money. I think my biggest moment as an
author was receiving feedback from one of the first people who read Compliant.
She read it in less than 24 hours and reported she was a “bad mom” because she
couldn’t put it down. To me, knowing I’ve touched someone’s life is success.

I feel that the world is made a better place through reading and storytelling. It’s an
honor when I can help connect people with stories that impact them, both as an
author and reviewer.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice or strictly as a business?

It’s definitely both and more. I feel like when I started taking my writing seriously
was when my life really began and I discovered who I am. It’s spiritual,
therapeutic, entertainment, social, all the things.

It’s also a business because if you want to share your stories with the world, you
have to spend money to get them out there. Publishing is expensive. And if I want
my stories to touch lives (which I do) I have to pay money to market them. There
has to be a balance of both income and spending. Plus, the more income I receive,
the more backend work I can hire out, and the more books I can write.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Of course! I love to read my reviews because it helps me to figure out what the
readers liked about my books so I can try to give them more.

The most negative review I’ve received was someone hated my main character
(and wrote paragraphs about how much and why) but then closed with saying they
would still recommend my books because the story’s so good.
I laughed, shrugged, and thought they must have really loved my story because
they really hated Freya. I want people to feel something when they read my books.
Even hating my character is better in my mind than writing one that’s forgettable.
You have to take the good with the bad because someone else told me Freya was a
real person to them. We each have our own tastes. My books aren’t for everyone
and I accept that as I don’t like every book I read that others love.

What is your favorite childhood book?

Monica Hughes became my favorite author in elementary school when my teacher
read our class Space Trap. It was the first Sci Fi book I was exposed to and that’s
when I discovered I love to read.

I later found Invitation to the Game at my library, the first Dystopian novel I read.
I was forever changed. I checked all her books out multiple times and they had a
huge impact on shaping my young mind into the person I’ve become.

When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

The moment I understood what an author was as a child. I used to talk people into
corners telling them my stories before I could write. Once I realized why I had no
friends, I started to quietly write my stories down. At the time, I didn’t know it was
a possible answer to the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Ideas have always come easy, it’s the writing that was hard. As I’m also dyslexic, I
struggled to get through the writing process as I was continually challenged with
spelling, grammar and the use of language. That kept me blocked until I realized
one day that 40 was just around the corner (I was 36.5).

I set out a very clear goal to write every day because I had to finish at least 1 novel
before 40 and self-publish it. I was about 6 months late on publishing Compliant,
but I had written about 6 books by 40 and published the first 3 in series by the end
of that year.

I still struggle with sentence structure, grammar, spelling, all those things that
received the red pen strike from my English teachers. But, I learned that the only
thing that really matters is I tell my stories to the best of my ability. Between
editors and all the software’s available, I have no longer allow my limitations to
hold me back.

Thanks so much for joining us, M.J.

If you want to learn more about M.J., her books, and what she has coming up in the future, you can find her at the below links.

Her website & blog: https://www.mjkaestli.com/

Purchase link for her latest book: http://mybook.to/Compliant

Amazon.com: Compliant: A Young Adult Dystopian Romance (The State ...
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H8Z34QX?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mjkaestli/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mjkaestli/

Book Review YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6Zxh5Fz7FQuEQ0-D-uy61w?view_as=subscriber

Until next time, dear readers! Stay safe, Stay cool!
KC

June Author Spotlight – KATE JONES

June Author Spotlight — KATE JONES!!!!

Every month I like to expand our reading horizons by introducing my readers to new, or new-to-you, authors and their intriguing, amazing books. Whether they write romance, fantasy, paranormal romance, thrillers of any kind, cozy mysteries…doesn’t matter. We all need new avenues of literature to pursue. For example, even with a TBR pile the size of the Grand Canyon, I sometimes yearn to go outside my usual genre box and play in the other genres’ sand boxes. So whether your main subject aligns with the featured author or not, you can be assured I will only bring you the best of the best across all genres.

With all that said…please let me introduce the lovely, the wonderful, the amazing.fantasy author..
KATE JONES!!!!

You can find her latest book, Shadows of Darkness, at http://geni.us/PnBoK

  1. First things first, please give us a brief introduction to yourself, not just the writer but “you.”

I’m a 57 year old mum and grandma (gulp – where have the years gone lol) and from the UK, although originally born in Singapore. My home county is North Yorkshire (with rolling hills, sheep, lots of pheasants and not a lot else,) but I now live in South Lincolnshire (with not a hill to be seen, very few sheep and lots of arable fields). The only thing that could have dragged me away from my beloved Yorkshire was…love (isn’t it always).  I own two cats – one ginger ninja called Olaf (yes, as in Frozen) and his slightly better behaved brother, Sheldon (as in Big Bang Theory). Those names alone should give you a feel for the range of programmes/films I watch on the few occasions I can be dragged away from my laptop. I also have two horses (one big dressage mare and a teeny tiny shetland who is her companion and is Houdini reincarnated).

I have retired from the 9-5 (that was the deal if I was going to leave Yorkshire) and can now focus on my writing.

  1. What genre do you prefer to write and why?

Fantasy – I’ve always read as a means of escaping from the humdrum reality of life and fantasy is the furthest you can get from normal as it comes (unless you are a character in my series – just saying lol)

3. Do you have a small or large circle of author friends? How do they help you become a better writer?

Small – I am coached/mentored by a USA/NYT best-selling author who has been instrumental in how I am developing and improving as a writer. I have a brilliant editor who is also an author; a UK based author who helps with questions that I feel are too dumb to post anywhere on social media, and I am currently looking for an author buddy/critique partner in the UK who writes in the same genre and is at about the same stage of their writing career as me. And I have an awesome friend who is an eagle-eyed beta reader and my biggest fan.

4. If you’ve already published, how did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

First book as an author in my own right was so bad that I signed up to work with an author coach, totally re-wrote it, started to learn how to write books that keep readers dying for more; had a professional cover done and employed a professional editor. Basically – decided to do it properly and not just treat it as a hobby.

5. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Author coach/mentor, professional editor and cover designer.

6. Who are your favorite authors and how did they influence you as a writer?

If I’m honest, I don’t really have favourites – I either like an author or I don’t. Many I read in the past and enjoyed (eg Melanie Rawns) now feel a little dated so I guess my tastes move with the times a little. I must add that, now I understand the ‘theory’ of how to write a ‘page turner of a book’ I do tend to analyse the way a book is a written and ask myself questions around what I enjoy, why, how has the author written a particular page or chapter that has kept me wanting to read more and I guess all that learning has to influence how I write to some extent.

7. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Into the Happy Glade by Trevor Dudley-Smith. It was very much a precursor to Watership Down in its concept and is now out of print and impossible to get hold of a copy at a reasonable price. It was the first book my father bought for me as it was one he had read and enjoyed as a child as well.

8. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/logo/avatar/spirit animal?

A unicorn with rainbow wings and sparkly fairy dust farts (I did say I was a fantasy writer!!!!)

9. Do you base characters off people you know If so, do you let them know before they read the novel?

Not really – although I did give one of my nastier characters the name of one of my “why the hell did you ever go there” ex boyfriends and then killed him off in a particularly violent and nasty ending. I have to say, it felt very good….

10. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

None although I have a couple of outline plots for books that are a totally different genre. Not sure if they will ever be written but if they are, I will do so under a pen name.

11. What does success as a writer look like to you?

My partner will stop saying “Are you ever going to make any money from this writing lark?”  and will boast to his friends that I earn way more than he does so he can become a kept man to make up for all these years of my being a kept woman.

12. What have you found to be the best way to market your books? What tricks of the trade can you share?

If I’m honest, this is the part of my craft as a writer that I am still learning but, from what I can see so far, having a big following of avid reader fans is by far and away the easiest way of making sales as you go forward in your writing career.

13. What kind of research do you do? Do you research before and/or during the writing process?

Google is my best friend and I use it before and during my writing process from everything to “what is the word to describe xxx” to “images of xxx” and a tonne of other stuff as I go along. Latest search was around names of types of armour.

14. Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice or strictly as a business?

For me it’s almost an addiction. Before I started to write my books, I used to journal daily and that was very much a spiritual practice. But my goal is to become a successful published author so I have to treat elements of my writing as a business if I am going to avoid chucking lots of money down the drain. I have to spend my money where it’s going to give me the most benefit so, for example, professional editing and cover design are a non-negotiable – they have to happen.

15. Do you write any non-fiction?

Not really although my first foray into published writing was as an author in a non-fiction anthology called “Success Unlimited.”

16, What is your target audience and what made you choose that audience?

Young Adults from about age 14 (although my books are very adult readable as well). I wanted to be able to use writing as a means of teaching teenagers all these life lessons that I wish I could have taught my own children when they were teenagers but I hadn’t learned most of them myself at that time in their lives. The subconscious mind learns best through stories, so what better way of teaching than via an epic adventure that has a deeper meaning than “once upon a time and then they all lived happily ever after.”

17. How do you select the names of your characters?

Some just felt right for the characters, some are names from my past that I liked and others are researched. All of my books in this series have a link to mythology or beliefs from around the world, so I research that in detail and bring some of the names into my stories so that people who study those particular beliefs etc will go “aha, I see where this is coming from”. So, for example, Elohim and Moloch in Book 1 are from Hebrew (Elohim is another name for God and Moloch is often used for the devil). I have names from Roman, Japanese, Aborigine, Greek mythology (to name a few) in upcoming books and I am also trying to link fictional characters from our world to my fantasy world as well. In Book 2 I have a chapter with Captain Nemo and the Nautilus in but neither are the same as in the Jules Verne book. Nemo is a drunkard and the Nautilus really is a nautilus!!

18. What is the most difficult part of your writing process? How do you overcome that difficulty?

Writer’s doubt and imposter syndrome. I talk to my best friend who says that, if she loves my writing I have to be pretty damn good because she’s the world’s biggest critic when it comes to books (and yes, I love her to pieces but she would very quickly tell me if she thought anything I’ve written is rubbish)

19. If you could personally meet one of your characters, who would it be and why?

My MC Charley – she has been in my life for so long that she’s like a daughter to me.

20. Which character from your book(s) would be the most likely to be a writer?

None of them so far – they are all far too busy saving their world from Moloch but I do have a minor character who has a very small but super important role in the whole plot and she could be a writer (now there’s a thought for a sequel!!!)

21. What one thing would you want readers to take away from your stories? A lesson? Sense of peace? Thrill of adventure? Anything?

If you believe in yourself you can do anything you set your mind to; magic really does exist (the majority of us just don’t see it as magic, that’s all); relationships are tough and good friends are the best allies you can have in life.

22. Is there anything else you’d like to relay to the readers?

I think I’ve probably said enough already but my main message to anyone who wants to write is to just get out there and do it. Don’t write for money – write from the heart; learn your craft; develop a thick skin and invest as much as you possibly can in terms of money and time if you want to make a living from writing. It can be hard, lonely and frustrating but the rewards at the end when you finally hold a copy of your own work in your hand and can say “I did that”, are worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears. And when all else fails – I recommend chocolate and donuts, puppy smooches, baby laughs, video chats with friends, and sunshine as things that will make you smile and feel better.

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You can easily stalk (I mean follow) Kate Jones at the following social media sites:

Website – www.katejonesauthor.com
Facebook – http://facebook.com/KateJonesAuthor
Instagram – https://instagram.com/KateJonesAuthor
Twitter – https://twitter.com/@KateJon30610544

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Until next time, friends! Enjoy your summer, pick up some more books to read, and fall into a far away world of fantasy!

Luv & virtual hugs!
KC Freeman

Author Spotlight – Tanya Lisle

Author Spotlight by Miss Halo | Teachers Pay Teachers

For my newsletter’s monthly feature – Author Spotlight, please check out the link below.

 

Tanya Lisle is an urban fantasy author. You can also check out her Amazon author page for a listing of all her books/series. Tanya Lisle Amazon Author Profile

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Please be sure to check out the full-length author interview in the newsletter at https://mailchi.mp/8f31d174e5be/author-spotlight.

To sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out on any of the monthly author spotlights, my articles about my own fantasy/paranormal fiction writing and a plethora of other topics, go to http://eepurl.com/gDp4Jr

If you are an author interested in being featured in my newsletter, please email me at KC Freeman Author Email or DM me here or my FB page at @KCFreemanAuthor.

Thanks! Stay Home and Stay Safe, my friends!

 

Lessons Learned and Big Announcement

First, let’s get the BIG announcement out of the way because quite frankly I’m too tickled pink to put this off.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE…

Book of the Month

After some fantastic reviews from The Naked Reviewers last week, they chose my paranormal fantasy romance book, Rekindled Prophecy – Book 1 of the Greylyn the Guardian Angel series, as their Book of the Month for March 2020!!!!!

The book was also named as the Book of the Week from 2/26/2020 to 3/4/2020!

Somebody pinch me! Okay, not THAT hard! Geez, now I’ll bruise.

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Now for the original posting for this week ~ Lessons Learned from my first book signing event at Penned Charleston this past weekend.

See the source imageTo sum it up  – it was a series of unfortunate events which ended happily ever after.

  1.  Should travel the night before the event. I was stuck in a traffic jam on I-26 EAST towards Charleston with all lanes blocked due to a horrific accident. Nowhere to turn around, just had to sit there and continue sitting for a long time. Ended up 1 1/2 hours late!
  2.  Bring an assistant! Can be anyone, friend, foe, hubby, kids! Just bring someone to help out so the author can make trips to the ladies’ room and get food/beverages. Initially the hubby was supposed to attend with me, but he was easily persuaded to ditch me to take our youngest son to a wrestling tournament in Fayetteville, NC. Figured I’d be okay on my own, but easily see now how having a helper with me would have made the whole experience run more smoothly and enjoyable. Also assistants were working the venue by walking around and visiting all the tables and mingling with the guests/readers to direct traffic to their author’s tables. Assistants also freed up their authors to walk around and meet new authors and just mingle.
  3.  Double-check swag before the event. I found a typo on the bookmarks as I was sitting at the table Saturday. To say I was horrified is an understatement!
  4. Bring more swag! Some authors had some serious swag at their tables. Some had raffles going for their super swag. I had bookmarks with typos, postcards with book info (which I ran out of), candy (mints and chocolate), and mini hand sanitizers.
  5.  Personalized labels for swag (such as the hand sanitizers) can be easily purchased I learned from one incredibly helpful author assistant. One lady had personalized packaging for candies and chocolates!
  6.  When the venue doesn’t provide linen table cloths for the tables, bring your own nice linen table cloth, not a flimsy plastic tie-dye one.
  7.  Check into vinyl posters and heavy duty easels. Most authors had 8-10 foot posters set up behind and beside their tables. I had a foam board 12×18 book poster propped up a stack of books on a chair beside me.
  8.  Purchase easels for posters and something to connect the banner to the table.
  9.  Purchase book stands so the books aren’t just laying down on the table.
  10.  Sneak in snacks. The venue said no beverages or food to be brought in – they provided water stations and some appetizers were handed out in the beginning during setup (which I missed due to #1). I ended up eating more of my own candy which was supposed to be just for visitors to my table.

Sounds a bit like a disaster, right? Actually, it wasn’t at all! I met a lot of amazing authors, author assistants, bloggers, reviewers, cover artists, and most especially readers! I learned a lot! I made some contacts including a lovely author in my local area (Hi, Haven Cage!) who also organizes local author get-togethers, and I now have a Reiki healer to call locally when my chakras are imbalanced. So, HUGE WIN!

Sadly, I ended up leaving right after the event rather than staying for the 60s-themed party that evening (another Lesson Learned – STAY FOR THE PARTY!).

Hopefully this Lessons Learned segment will benefit other newbie authors as you go to your own book signing events.

Well, I’m off to celebrate my Book of the Month award with some of my leftover chocolate from Penned Charleston!

I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

1st Ever Book Signing!

I am beyond excited to be attending my first EVER book signing event this coming weekend (2/29/2020) in one of my favorite cities on planet Earth – Charleston, SC.

New Release banner

Since this my first book signing, and Penned Charleston is such a HUGE event, I will admit to being a bit intimidated and nervous.

What if I don’t bring enough books?

What if no one wants a book?

What if my brand new Square card reader doesn’t work (or user error – I’ve never used one before)?

What other items should I bring?

What if the banner doesn’t stay attached to the table? What if there’s no place to hang the poster of the book cover?

And so many other questions have been playing roller derby in my head and are only gaining speed and momentum as the day edges closer.

Luckily, other authors have heard my pleas for help and offered amazing advice, so fingers crossed that I will be as prepared as I can be. I have my banner, my poster (well, actually it hasn’t been delivered yet – Yikes!), bookmarks, pens (have been ordered but have not arrived yet either – Double Yikes!), candy (individually wrapped mints and chocolates, plastic candy bowl, bright tie-dyed table cloth because the event is going with a 60s theme, lots of hand sanitizer (also order, but not delivered – Triple Yikes!), Square card reader (still gotta learn how to use this thing), oh and…books!

Unfortunately, due to the short notice when I signed up for this event, I was unable to coordinate a pre-order form and list so I could bring just the right amount of books, with a few extras. So I will selling books directly at the event instead and my inventory of books in my current possession isn’t that extensive. I genuinely am hoping to run out of books and have to take orders to send readers afterwards. Lesson learned for the next book signing (Queen City Book Fair on 5/23/2020) is to have a pre-order promotion well in advance and to institute all the lessons I will learn this upcoming weekend.

So if you are anywhere near Charleston, SC or want an excuse to visit this amazingly charming city, please join me this Saturday at the North Charleston Marriott for Penned Charleston! The weather forecast is calling for a mild 55 degrees and mostly sunny!

Hope to see some of you there. If you don’t live close and have a book signing event like Penned Charleston near you, please send me an email or private message here and I’d love to see about attending closer to you if you’re interested in getting your own copy of Rekindled Prophecy signed or just want to meet up and chat.

Until next week!

Besties,

KC