Meet Melinda R. Cordell

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It’s time for another author interview. Today on Paws 4 Thought we welcome Melinda Cordell. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Melinda.

I’m a former city horticulturist who now works as a full-time proofreader. I love working in air conditioning in the summer, but I still miss working in the city rose garden. Mainly, though, I’m an author. I’d been sending out novels since 1995, and during those 20 years I’d published a lot of magazine articles in national publications, but had only one book published. I finally quit traditional publishing, and between September 2016 and December 2017 I self-published 22 books. I had a huge backlog of finished, polished novels that were ready to publish. So I published them!

I’ve been going like a rocket sled on rails ever since I got into self-publishing, because I’m 46 right now, and heaven knows I’m not getting any younger. Now I’m working on some novels involving Vikings, dragons, and war, the first of which will be out this May. I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty intense, but I love it.

Outside of that, I live in northwest Missouri, have lived here all my life, and I have the best family that ever walked. If any of you have read Those Black Wings, then you’ll be pleased to know that Wyatt, in real life, is actually my husband. We’ve been together since 1990, married since 1995, and he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. We have two crazy kids and it’s really a great setup. I couldn’t have asked for better.

(Melinda also shared with us a picture of her family’s silky, Maximum Floof)

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2) When did you first start writing?

When I was four. I was reading pretty well and writing my name in all my books in this semi-cursive script. All through school I wrote stories. I always had teachers encouraging me, all through elementary school and junior high and high school and college. They’re the salt of the earth, all of them. These teachers were often the only people who saw my stories, now that I think of it, because I had absolutely no social life. I just wanted to stay home and write, and walk in the woods, and read. I was lonely, but people in general were terrible to me in junior high and I just didn’t want any part of that, thank you very much. Also I was terrible at conversations. It was like I had a wire between my brain and my mouth that constantly shorted out, so I’d have all this cool stuff in my head that I wanted to say, but I just couldn’t spit it out.

So all my conversations were in my journals, in my novels, in my stories. I did my living on the page. My writing was my letter to the world that nobody got to read.

But it was also life to me.

3) Who are your favorite authors?

In the past, I’d say E.B. White and Ursula K. LeGuin. Right now Nnedi Okorafor is my favorite author. She writes these amazing fantasy novels. Of course, the entire faculty at the Hamline University MFAC program are my favorite authors, hands down. I spent five wonderful summers up there in their residency program, and I love ‘em so much.

4) What inspires you to write?

Well, that’s kind of like saying “What inspires me to breathe?”

It’s not like I sit down and write, and roses flow out of my pen. Sometimes writing a novel is like more like wrestling a squid. But if I can’t write, I start getting really cranky and emo. That act of creation is something I need in my life.

I mentioned that I was trying to get traditionally published for 20 years – i.e. I was trying to get an agent or an editor. For all my novels, I think my accumulated rejections number in the high hundreds, or low thousands. I am perfectly serious. I was pretty thick-skinned, but after 20 years of coming very close in a number of places but still ending at “no” … it does something to you. You know in your heart that you have talent and worth, but every industry professional ends up telling you, “This story is very well written, but it just doesn’t have that spark,” then you start wondering if you’re really that much of a hotshot after all. I lost a lot of faith in myself, and I couldn’t even write anything, and I was miserable.

That’s another reason why I took off like a rocket when I went into self-publishing. There weren’t any gatekeepers saying, “No.” It was just me. Whether I succeed or fail, it’s all on me. Nobody else. And I can work with that. Now I’m controlling my own destiny – I have my own power – and I have a truckload of books already finished and published, which really helps.

5) Tell us a little bit about Butterfly Chaos.

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Butterfly is actually my creative thesis for my master of fine arts for writing for children from Hamline University, and I worked on it with Gary Schmidt and Mary Logue, both of whom are wonderful teachers and all-around good folks. I wrote the first draft of the story while my dad was dying of early-onset dementia. And the story came together as a big constellation of all these other deaths in my life, two of which I mention in the Dedication. There’s been a bus accident when I was in junior high that affected the whole community at large. And there were some deaths in the family that were very hard for all of us. And I have a close-knit family that is like Cassie’s in the book, and I wanted to write something about them. So this book seemed to grow out of all that.

Jake is based on a guy who I had a crush on when I was a freshman in high school. He was a sarcastic kid, super-smart, and he loved to argue with pretty much anyone about anything. I’m kind of laughing, writing this, because some of my friends hated his guts. But I’ll tell you this: He knew I was very badly afflicted. I stared at him all the time, and then I stopped staring and couldn’t even look at him. But he was always so kind to me. He could have used his sarcasm and completely crushed me. But, unlike the whole rest of the school, he didn’t, and he would even talk to me a little. He moved away the next year and I never knew what became of him. But I still appreciate that little act of mercy from him, even after all these years.

6) What attracts you to writing YA?

I like writing for high schoolers. They’re on the edge of childhood, getting ready to leap into adulthood, and there’s a lot of conflict in this, in moving out and letting go. Also, high school kids are kind of nuts and funny and smart. And they’re never boring. Adults are boring. They’re so settled in all these pre-conceived notions. High schoolers are still figuring things out and it’s all new and shiny, but also there’s all these hormones so there’s EMOTIONS.

Of course I have a high schooler living in my house who I have to kick out of bed every morning, and all the trauma that comes of having to wake up!  But I learn a lot about the world from her, and vice versa, I hope. And she’s a cool kid. But of course I’m biased.

7) I see you also write gardening books. How did you get started with this?

When I first dived into self-publishing, I had a bunch of gardening articles and columns I’d written over the years. So I started using those to write gardening books. My undergrad degree had been in horticulture, and I’d worked in horticulture for half my life at that point, as city horticulturist, rose garden potentate, greenhouse manager, landscape designer, independent contractor, and perennials boss at a garden center. So I grouped my gardening articles together by content, and used the first group to write a book about vegetable gardening, then roses, adding a bunch of new content and filling in new chapters. Those two books are my best sellers right now. I have nine gardening books out right now, and I’ll be adding to them through 2018.

8) Do you have a favorite plant?

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I have a *lot* of favorite plants lol. I used to go into the woods in May and hunt for showy orchis. Yes, that’s how it’s spelled. I also like apple trees, daffodils, calla lilies, larkspur and delphiniums (there’s this little larkspur native to Missouri that used to grow around Nodaway that was this delicious dark purple), roses of course, orchids. Dutchmen’s breeches, which is a little small Dicentra species that grows wild in early April. White oak trees. Dayflowers, just because they have this pretty cadmium blue flower. The list is endless. Plants are cool.

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9) What are you currently working on?

VIKINGS AND DRAGONS.

I’m writing a Viking series to market – writing again after those late years of frustration – and I love this story because I’m cramming it full of swordfights and dragons and storms at sea and looooooooove, and I have a sea battle coming up that I’ll be writing about this weekend. It drives me nuts that I have to work full-time. Leave me alone, full-time employment! I want to write this!

Also I need to pull together a little butterfly gardening book, and a couple more gardening books on the side. I have nine gardening books out and I really want to make it ten, a nice round number.

10) If you could have any superpower what would you choose?

I really want to fly, but I’m also scared of heights, so I’d be flying around like five feet off the ground. I kind of want to be able to morph into animals, and then I could turn into a barn swallow and dive-bomb everybody. Those guys really know how to have fun when they’re flying.

But then again, I always write about characters that fight evil spirits with song magic, so they’re having battles with song. This song magic is like all the things you want to do when you’re singing, only cranked up to 50. Now that would be glorious.

11) How can readers connect with you?

Through bird calls or semaphore signals (aka “wig-wag”).

An easier way is through Twitter at @rosefiend, or email me at hello@melindacordell.com – I’ll try to get back with you in a reasonable amount of time. If you don’t hear from me after a week, ding me again because I’ve probably lost your message, and I really try to reply to every message I get. I do like hearing from readers – I never get tired of it.

Check out Melinda’s books on Amazon

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Calling All Picture Book Writers

Do you write picture books? Then I have an offer especially for you. This April I want to feature your picture book on this blog in a special feature, “Picture Books from A to Z”.

Here’s the deal: on April 22nd – Earth Day – I’m going to be releasing ADANA THE EARTH DRAGON. This is a story about a small brown dragon that can do big things. It’s been illustrated by Tina Wijesiri, the same awesome artist that brought Esmeralda Grunch and the Red Tulip to life.

I want to tell the world about Adana, and here’s where you come in. Fill out the handy dandy form below and promise to share ADANA THE EARTH DRAGON on your social media (newsletter, blog, FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc) and I will feature your picture book on this blog on one day in April.

P.S. If you want a sneak peak at the cover for ADANA, click on the form.

Want a signed copy of ESMERALDA GRUNCH AND THE RED TULIP or CECILIA’S TALE? I can do that. Click here for details.

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Meet Stephanie Barr

Hi everyone today on Paws 4 Thought we’re pleased to introduce fantasy author, rocket scientist and cat lover, Stephanie Barr.

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1) Which of your characters are you most like?

Most of my protagonist characters, including several side characters, are based on aspects of my own personality either gifted with traits I lack, taking that aspect to a much greater degree or both. Sometimes the aspects I lack are provided by people I know (a few exceptions like Lofar (short story) and Dante da Silv (Tarot Queen), both more based on my husband of the time).

Two in particular were focused on my being unusually bright (which does not get you friends) and my social awkwardness (not shyness) that makes me incredibly unpopular even today except among a few discerning folks. That’s Dylan Chroz of Saving Tessa and Nayna from the forthcoming Ideal Insurgent.

However, I’m probably most like Darma from Nine Lives. I know my own strengths, I’m smart, I’m not afraid to show it, but I’m also a dabbler, pushy, capable of quick changes of temper with moments of insecurity. And exceptionally protective.

2) What is important to you in your character building?

Strengths and weaknesses. Relatability. Depth. Growth. Sheesh so many things. Intelligence. Most of my characters are smart and I generally use brains over brawn to solve problems. Sarcasm is pretty popular, too.HUMOR! Too many books just aren’t funny enough.

I like characters that challenge stereotypes, that force readers to reexamine their preconceived notions or open them to new perspectives.

3) How much do you know about your characters ahead of time?

Before I put even one word to paper, I usually have a very good sense of who the character is, how they’d react, what shaped them, where they need to grow. Not what they look like. That’s rarely a key factor for me and I’ve had to be reminded a few times to even mention that.

I might not know everything consciously, but my subconscious will have it in my head and cough key details rationales, mindsets in the story that solidify my original thought. I’m a total pantser when writing a story, but not the characters; they’re always true to my original vision.

4) What genre do you admire but not write?

Truly well-researched historical fiction. Some of my favorite books are from this category (Hawaii, Shogun, etc) I’m a perfectionist and I’d have to have it exactly right, and I love research, but the amount of research to get every detail correct takes a lot of time and organization, two things I rarely have. It’s not that I couldn’t do it if I was really compelled, but, at least so far, I haven’t felt more compelled than I am for my speculative fiction that requires relatively little research.

5) What haven’t you tackled yet but plan to?

I’m a single mother with three kids–two at home and on the autistic spectrum. More than one person has encouraged me to take some of the little vignettes I’ve written on facebook and compile them into a book to encourage other parents of autistic kids, not only that they’re not alone for the challenging pieces but to really steep themselves in the joy of the fun and unique pieces.

Check out some of Stephanie’s books:

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Also Stephanie has an awesome story in Sins of the Gods – the most recent release of my Sins of Time anthology group.

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Meet S.T. Sanchez

Today on Paws 4 Thought we welcome Fantasy author, S.T. Sanchez. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

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Thanks so much for having me!

I was born in Dallas, TX. I love Texas. The weather is crazy, but the people are friendly.  I graduated from the University of North Texas with a BA in Spanish. Mexico is my second home.  My husband is from there, and I have family down there. I love the culture, the people and of course the food.  I have three wonderful children and I love hiking and spending time outdoors when I am not writing.
Fantasy is my preferred genre to write in. There are no limits in fantasy beyond my own imagination.  Anything can happen. Sunwalker is my debut novel. It is a YA vampire novel. The first in a trilogy. Nightwalker, book 2, is set to be released in Spring 2018.  I also just released a MG fantasy novel entitled The Portal Keeper, in December 2017.

I love fantasy too. So tell me when did you first start writing?

 I really didn’t start writing until college.  I am terrible at grammar and never really thought about becoming a writer.  But I decided to try my hand at it.  It was horrible and childish, but I wrote something longer than I ever had.  It gave me some confidence and I decided that I could always find a good editor to polish up my grammar.  That first novel is hidden in a dark abyss and well never see the light of day.  But I kept at it and got better.

 Who are your favorite authors?

 I love Brandon Mull.  He is a fantasy author. I love reading his stories out loud to my children.  They are just so much fun and very imaginative.

 So awesome to read aloud to your kids. I have very fond memories of my father reading to me when I was a child and have done the same with my own children. So on to writing now. What inspires you to write?

Everything.  Sometimes questions that I don’t see answers too will spark an idea.

 Tell us a little bit about your YA fantasy Sunwalker.

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 Sunwalker is the first in a trilogy.  It has action, romance, and you won’t know what’s coming.  I try not to be predictable.  I hate books that I can predict the entire storyline after only reading the first couple of chapters.

It is a story about a vampire named Lilly.  She is an unusual kind of vampire, one born from human parents due to a rare genetic disorder.  The world she lives in is aware of her kind, and hunts them down.  She lives her life pretending to be a human, wishing to one day meet another one of her species.  When Tread, another vampire, shows up, it turns her world upside down.  Lilly has to decide which world she belongs in, the human or the vampire, or risk tearing them both apart.

It was fun to write because Tread and Lilly are complete opposites.  Lilly knows and loves the human world, and knows practically nothing about her own species.  Tread was raised loathing humans, and thinking of them as nothing more than food.  He is fascinated that someone would choose to live as one and subject themselves to their rules.

You can read the first chapter for free on Amazon, or the entire book for free on Kindle Unlimited.

Nightwalker is the second book in the trilogy and should be coming out Spring 2018.

 What attracts to writing YA?

 In YA novels the characters are just starting to figure out who they are or who they want to be.  I like being able to watch them and discover that as the stories unfold.

 What are you currently working on?

 I have a few different projects at the moment.  I tend to get bored and I like to jump around a bit.  I have a new children’s series I am working on, it is currently in the hands of four 7 year old beta readers.  Nightwalker is with the editor. I have just started Darkwalker the third and final installment of the Sunwalker trilogy.  I have a short non-fiction book with beta readers about getting out of debt and finally the last item on my list is to start the outline for book two in my MG series entitled the Keeper Chronicles.

 What do you like to do to relax?

I play games with my kids, read and watch movies.  The Greatest Showman was a great film if you haven’t seen it.

Definitely going to have to check that one out. So how about a fun question now? If you could have any superpower what would choose?

This one is easy. I would love to speak every language.  I speak English and can get by with my broken Spanish.  Knowing two languages even to the poor extent of my Spanish speaking skills has taught me one thing.  Some things can’t be translated.  They just lose their beauty.

Thank you so much for taking your time to answer my questions. So how can readers connect with you?

Goodreads

Facebook

My blog

 

Email  authorstsanchez@hotmail.com

Pick up Sunwalker from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

and The Portal Keeper on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

 

 

 

Cover Reveal – Postcards from Moscow by Rebekah Dodson

Today on Paws 4 Thought I’m happy help Rebekah Dodson reveal the cover of her upcoming contemporary romance, POSTCARDS FROM MOSCOW.

Copy of Postcards from Moscow eBook

So what’s about?

 

Jaquellyn Arnolt has wanted to be a ballerina forever; until the night she suffers a tragic fall. When the unsigned postcards arrive from Moscow, she begins to heal with the passionate words of a fellow artist. Jaquellyn jumps at the chance of a lifetime to travel to Moscow to join the prestigious Bolshoi Academy, where she meets Vasily Petrov, a shy and timid star of the Nutcracker. Could Vasily be the one behind the postcards? And what will it take to bring him out of his shell? Blackmail and betrayal abound as beauty hides under the bright lights of the ballet, amidst the lure of Russia’s most beautiful city.

*This book is a stand alone part of the Postcards from Paris series*

PRE-ORDER before Feb 18th for 99c!

Rebekah Dodson is also the author of the awesome historical fantasy romance series, Curse of Lanval – start with book 1, Mirrors.

Debbie’s Year of Reading, 2017

Hey folks, it’s that time again when I do a special shout-out of my favorite books I’ve read this year. This has definitely been the year of the indie – the first time when most of the books on this list are from indie authors.

So in no particular order, here are my faves (the six books I gave 5 star reviews to on Goodreads). I’m particular happy with this list as it covers a number of different genres and each one of these had a “wow” factor for me. In the comments I’d love to hear what your favorite reads were this year.

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Adored this book my Australian writer, Mirren Hogan. The story which follows the tale of the Night Witches, a group of Russian women who flew fighter planes during World War II is the type of story that should be on every school curriculum.

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Can we say awesome? I loved L. Woodswalker’s first book, Tesla’s Signal, and this second one was just as immersive and fun to read. Check out my review of Tesla’s Frequency here and pick up a copy.

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And now for something a little different. Not-Ready-For-Juillard Players is a literary mystery (sort of) set in a music school. It’s compelling with characters that draw you to them. I met Eileen in my local NaNoWriMo group and feel sad that I didn’t read her beautiful book earlier. I hope she writes more as I adored her writing.

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This one was oodles of fun! So Not a Hero is not your ordinary super-hero story. It’s fast paced with a awesome bad-ass woman as the lead character. Looking forward to reading book 2 that’s on my ever-growing reading list.

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Like cool urban fantasy with a kick-ass female protagonist. This is the one! I read the first two of E.A.Copen’s Judah Black novels this year and the rest are on my extremely long TBR list. Start with Guilty by Association and continue with Blood Debt.

So here we have it – my five star recommendations – BUT there are a bunch of other cool books I read this year, all of which I enjoyed. Check out my year of reading on Goodreads.