24 September 2014


Please join me in welcoming J Nichole Parkins to the spotlight!

Have you always had a passion for writing?
Always. My mom tells me I used to harass her mercilessly to write down stories that I’d create as a pre-schooler. I wrote all through school, but never realistically considered pursuing it as a career until last year. Once I discovered self-publishing I’ve been moving ahead at full steam!

Does what you read influence what you write and what are some of your favourite authors/books?
A lot of what I write is inspired by things that I see in everyday life. The struggles that people go through, the stories hidden behind the everyday fa├žade that we all wear. I work with heavy topics because those are the types of stories I see and hear. During my day job I work with at-risk populations and often deal with tough issues: infant mortality, abuse, neglect, women struggling to feed their children. It stays with you. Writing is a way I can deal with it personally and attempt to help others at the same time.

Trying to pick favorite authors is like asking me which of my children I love best! I have a constantly evolving list of authors I read but some of my current favorites include Rachel Vincent, Patricia Briggs, Kelley Armstrong, and similar urban fantasy writers. In the indie community I’m currently Facebook stalking Lynetta Halat, Carey Heywood, Lexi Martin, Tijan, Penelope Ward, Penelope Douglass, and Penny Reid. There are so many awesome indie writers out there! I add to my list almost daily. 

What are your biggest inspirations?
My biggest inspiration is the world around me. Even the simplest interaction has a story - you just have to find it. I am inspired by the struggles of the clients at my day job, the fight that a lot of them have to go through just to survive. I’m inspired by their stories, the pain they’ve overcome. The woman on the corner who is waiting for the light to change, the man on the motorcycle weaving erratically through traffic – they all have a story. It’s up to writers to discover it; to coax that story to life.

Do you have a technique in how you choose characters and/or locational settings?
I don’t pick characters, they pick me. They creep out and tap on my shoulder and whisper in my ear. They slowly reveal who they are and what their story is.
Settings are usually inspired by where I’ve lived. But rarely I see something on television or hear about a location from someone’s travels, and use it in a story. I tend to exercise my artistic license when it comes to locations though. For instance, I blurred two cities together to create the location in the Burned series. I set most of the books in Tampa, but I added parts of surrounding cities in to fit my character’s needs in the story. 

Do you listen to music while you are creating your masterpieces?
Always. If I don’t have music I have a very difficult time writing. I use it to set the mood, but also to block out all the extraneous noises. I have three kids so there can be a lot of noise in my house. Depending on the scene I’m working on I can listen to anything from heavy metal, indie rock, country, electronic, to classical. I have very eclectic tastes.

What do you do to stay motivated and avoid writer’s block?
My motivation hasn’t been an issue; I am a very determined person when I set my focus on something. Pretty much a bulldog, I hold on until I reach my goal. I do get stuck sometimes, especially when my characters don’t want to cooperate or do something that doesn’t fit with my plot - which is often. When that happens, I typically go for a swim or a walk or find something physical to do. Sometimes I pace around the house like a crazy person talking to myself, driving helps too. A lot of my ideas occur when I’m driving to pick the kids up from school – you know – when it’s almost impossible to actually write your ideas down. Luckily there is a nifty memo function on my phone. I also bake when I get frustrated or stressed so if I have an abundance of cupcakes around watch out!

How has becoming a published author (independent or traditional) changed your perspective on life and is it everything you expected it to be? (If you are not published yet – what changes do you foresee?)
I’ll finally accomplish a life-long dream: becoming an author. I don’t foresee a lot of changes happening otherwise. I’ll continue writing whether my books are financially successful or not.

What are your biggest challenges as an author?
Making time to write! Like most of us I’m juggling several things at once: a day job, three young children, and a household. I am very fortunate that my job encourages us to have a life outside of work and is very cooperative with my crazy schedule. I work long days so I am able to have at least a day off a week to devote to writing. I also write at night after the kids are in bed and on the weekends when I can squeeze it in. My family has been very supportive, which makes everything easier.

Do you have any pets?
I have two cats, Zeta and Cleocatra. Cleo is almost a year old and loves to “help” me write. More often than not that “help” is attacking me as I type but sometimes she’ll just sleep on my desk. Zeta is an old girl and prefers to lounge by my feet.

What hobbies do you have outside of reading and writing?
Reading! I read almost obsessively. Thanks to the Kindle I bought this year I have hundreds of books at my fingertips. It’s probably my favorite purchase next to my laptop. I also love to swim, go on adventures with my kids, and I used to love riding horses, but there’s not a lot of spare time for that anymore!

Where is the most exciting/memorable place you have been in the world?
I am fortunate to live where most people vacation. I am minutes from one of the best beaches in the world, Siesta Key Beach in Florida. After vacationing here years ago, we ended up relocating. It is stunning. I still can’t get over how beautiful it is.

Tell us about your latest work in progress or most recent published work
I am publishing my first book, Burned, September 30th. It is the start of an urban fantasy/paranormal romance series by the same name. Burned focuses on Kyra, a shifter with some unusual abilities, who has had a rough life and has an attitude to match. She is recruited to help solve a series of unusual murders by diving into the dark underbelly of Tampa. Kyra ends up biting off more than she expected, and has to make some tough decisions. Decisions that might cost her everything.

I also have several New Adult projects and a Contemporary Romance in the works. Check out my website or follow me on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with my progress. I am also on Pinterest where I keep my inspirations for characters, scenes, etc. and Spotify where I keep playlists for each book.  

Thank you for having me Johanna!

12 September 2014

Meg Welch Dendler Interview

This week, please join me in welcoming children's book author - 


1     Have you always had a passion for writing?
Absolutely. I used to write stories when I was in grade school, and I won a picture book writing contest when I was in 5th grade. My imagination has often been a bit too big for my reality so I kept it quiet, but stories are always flitting around in my head. We will see a big snake on our property, and my husband will immediately ask what his name is want to hear his story. I’m always happy to oblige.

2     Does what you read influence what you write and what are some of your favourite authors/books?
I think reading books by good writers helps to make my own writing better. If all you read is short, choppy sentences on a blog or website, you are probably going to think in and write in that style. I try to read excellent examples of whatever genre I’m working on and let it help my own words flow better. My all-time favourite author is Anne McCaffrey and all of her varied series of books—but especially the Dragonriders. Right now I’m reading “Noisy Creek” by Pamela Foster, and it has given me a great idea about reworking a middle grade manuscript in the first person narrative. That’s the kind of thing good books do for you. The voice would be totally different from the very specific Southern woman in Pam’s book, but the feeling of that first person, from-the-gut style may be just what my own book needs to kick it the right direction.

3     What are your biggest inspirations?
Inspirations come from the strangest places. For my Cats in the Mirror books, my own cats Kimba and Hiro are clearly the inspirations. But for an adult book I’m talking with editors about right now the inspiration was as simple as mentioning that a diner was “at the corner of Magnetic and Main” and a friend saying “that would make a fantastic book title” and off I went. I had the whole outline by the end of the day. When something like that comes, grab it. Make notes. You may not be able to write it all right then, but it’s easy to lose those ideas if you don’t note them down. I have piles of scraps of paper that I sort through from time to time.

4     Do you have a technique in how you choose characters and/or locational settings?
I routinely just stumble on them. Or I may think through what the main characters represent and who else they need in their world to make the story move forward. A visual image usually comes first. Then I work on a back story and a name, even if none of that comes into the book itself. The author needs to know everything about the character. The reader only needs to know what matters in that moment of the story. In my Cats series, I know what will happen four books down the line. I know where each character comes from. I know where everyone ends up. That helps to drive what they do in the moment where the story is now.

5     Do you listen to music while you are creating your masterpieces?
Never. I am easily distracted. Very easily. Even classical music would make me start choreographing in my head. I may get ideas and make notes with music or a TV or something in the background, but if I’m seriously writing it’s with my door closed and a fan on to block out any household drama.

6     What do you do to stay motivated and avoid writer’s block?
Writer’s block is never a problem because I have lists of ideas waiting for my attention. Getting myself to settle in and find the time to write everything I want to is a different matter altogether. Sometimes it’s just the demands of the world and being Mom and having another job that intrudes at random times. Many times it’s just procrastination. I try to plan writing days and then schedule a set number of words or hours I have to work before I get to play again. That’s the only way I get it done. On my second book I knew exactly what was going to happen, but I had to take three days and hide out to make myself put it all down. Editing and revising is fun. First drafts are like vacuuming. I hate to do it, but I’m grateful once it’s done.

7     How has becoming a published author (independent or traditional) changed your perspective on life and is it everything you expected it to be? (If you are not published yet – what changes do you foresee?)
I don’t know that it has changed my perspective on life at all. I went into this with my eyes wide open. I’m only two years into this publishing journey, so that may change, but I hobnob with lots of other authors at all levels of success. I don’t have any illusions about massive fame and fortune landing in my lap. I would be happy to be Ozark famous.

8      What are your biggest challenges as an author?
Finding time to write and not getting discouraged. At least once a week I have that “why in the world am I killing myself over this?” moment. There are a million jobs that pay better and are easier than being a writer. But when I hold my completed books in my hands all of that fades away. When a stranger picks up a copy and loves it and wants to buy it, I get fuel for the next month.

9     Do you have any pets?
I am unabashedly a cat person, and there are three in our house right now: Kimba, Hiro, and Samantha (aka Miss Fatty Cat). Another cat that features in my books is Tabitha (aka Slinky), but she currently is at college with my oldest daughter. We also have a big, goofy dog, Max—known in my books at The Big Black Beast.

10    What hobbies do you have outside of reading and writing?
Watching movies is my favourite escape. I don’t like anything dark and creepy, but I love interesting indie films and would rather curl up with a movie no one else has ever heard of than watch reality television. I also volunteer as a docent at a local big cat rescue facility: Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. I love that place so much it became one of the settings for my third Cats in the Mirror book.

11    Where is the most exciting/memorable place you have been in the world?
I was blessed to travel around Europe with a tour group for two weeks when I was in high school, and Italy was amazing. The art and the people are like nowhere else. I don’t really enjoy traveling these days, but a trip to Italy where I could take my time and see everything at my own pace would be very tempting. I have to admit that my home here at the top of an Ozark mountain is my current favourite place in the world. It is so beautiful and peaceful. That doesn’t leave me much incentive to want to wander far.

12    Tell us about your latest work in progress or most recent published work…
My newest book is Book 3 in the Cats in the Mirror series: “Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge.” It officially releases on September 12, but it’s already available at amazon.com and at my web site (megdendler.com). By the third book in a series things are really starting to get fun because all of the background, premise, and characters are established and the story can just roll. There are several new characters introduced in this book, and I had a really good time with dumping Kimba in the middle the real-life Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge where she has to count on a Liger and a grizzly bear to help her find her way home.

Links for Meg Welch Dendler:

https://www.facebook.com/KimbaBabyCat (Kimba fan page)
https://www.facebook.com/WhyKimbaSavedTheWorld (book page)
https://www.facebook.com/VacationHiro (book page)
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6951290.Meg_Welch_Dendler

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/meg-dendler/64/625/315


"Why Kimba Saved The World"

"Vacation Hiro"

“Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge”