Friday, March 16, 2018

Interview with Ryan Decaria author of Devil in the Microscope

Let's Welcome Ryan Decaria today! Tell us a little about yourself.

Hello. I’m Ryan Decaria, an author hailing from the great city of Ogden, UT. By day, I’m a technical writer, but by night, I’m an author of mad science YA, an avid board gamer, and podcaster. I’m co-host of the Meeple Nation podcast where we discuss the board game world. I love fantasy and science fiction, both, but I enjoy mashing the two together with mad science.

Your from Utah? I envy you.  There is a lot of beautiful country in Utah.  I just visited Zion National Park.  Talk about breathtaking. What brought about the idea for this book?

I started imagining about a story where a teenage girl discovered her father was an evil mad scientist. I wanted this to be a modern story rather than a Gothic or Victorian era story, so the laboratory needed to be hidden or in a remote location. Her father needed employees, though, for his modern genetics laboratory, and those employees would have families. Once I started brainstorming what high school would look like in this town, I was hooked.

Sounds very original. Ryan, have you been given any helpful advice on your writing journey? If so, what?

The best advice I’ve taken is to always finish what you start, every single time. Don’t let the newfangled, flashy ideas get in the way of telling the story that was in your heart a short while ago. Learn how to get to “The End”. It’s a skill. Wrap it up. Share it with someone who cares about you. Then share it with someone who doesn’t.

I like that advice, "share it with someone who cares about you. Then share it with someone who doesn't".  I always tell new authors to have someone other than their mom read it.  Currently, what are you working on?

I’m working on the Sequel to Devil in the Microscope, planning for a release in the spring. I also have an epic fantasy in the works, as well as a graphic novel I would love to sell.

What has been the most difficult thing you have struggled with since you began a career in writing?

I would always chase the next idea and never get to the end of anything. You never had to share or submit something that wasn’t finished. It was a serious roadblock that I had to get over. Once I started finishing things, I started selling my work soon after. It’s still a struggle for me to stay on one idea until the end, but I find that it’s the most important thing I can do.

I struggle with that too.  But I have found jumping around helps me think better, but I have to limit myself to three projects at a time, otherwise I would never finish anything. Tell us a little bit about your main characters

Anika knew one thing about her dead father. He was a scientist. Ever since she was little, she’s been fascinated with Chemistry, playing with Jr. Chemistry sets she would buy at garage sales. She won the science fair every year. Her world changes when she finds out her mother is a big fat liar, her father is alive, and he’s been searching the world for her.

Once she moves in with her father, things start to get weird. The Science Olympiad team at the high school under her father’s secretive genetics laboratory all seem to have a secret. They welcome Anika into the fold, hoping she might have the skills to save them from their parents.

Is there something you learned from writing your first book?

My first book was a middle grade story about a blind girl who goes to live at the White House, which will likely never be published. My daughter is blind, and while I was writing the story, I had to remind myself that making life difficult for my character was what made the book interesting. I’d always heard that you should get your protagonist stuck in a tree and throw rocks at her. My daughter thought I was being way too hard on that character. I think she might have been right.

I think a lot of us hold those first stories back.  Mine is hidden away, never to see the light of day.  Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I hope you’ll have heard of me again. I plan to publish 2-3 novels a year, so in five years, I’ll have 15 or so books out, hopefully a comic book or graphic novel, many short stories, and perhaps a board game or two. Hey, maybe I’ll have even given up the day job.

Wouldn't that be nice, to just be able to write full time.  I am hoping to get their in the next few years too.  Good Luck! Do you have people read your drafts before you publish?  How do you select beta readers?

My first drafts I only read myself. After a quick polish, I share chapters with my writing group. After I have a complete draft put together, I share the book with a few trusted alpha readers. After cleaning up the book with another edit, I’ll share it with as many beta readers as I can find. I would love to have a long list of groupies eagerly awaiting my drafts, but for right now, I’m still seeking them out.

I don't have a problem finding people who will read my book early. But it's hard to find those readers who really find the faults, and catch inconsistencies. I have a couple really good ones, but I would love to have a few more too. Which do you find more challenging inventing the hero or the villain?  Why?

For me, it’s the villain. I feel like I know my hero really well. I know what she wants and what she needs, and what she is willing to do to get both. Villains are hard for me because I don’t want them to be mustache twirlers with evil as its own reward. I think the difference is that I don’t spend as much time (in my head) with the villains as I do with the heroes.

Any last words you'd like to share with us Ryan?

Thanks for your time. I encourage anyone with the flare for creating content to stop hiding and make it happen. Share your work with people that care about you and ask for feedback. Thank them for it. Embrace it. Make your stuff better. Then share it with strangers. Ask for feedback. Thank them for it. Embrace it. Make it better. Keep going. You can make it!

Good Luck Ryan, it's been a pleasure having you on today.  Don't forget to check out Devil in the Microscope.  Happy Reading!!

Twitter: @RyanPDecaria

Facebook: /RyanPaulDecaria

Devil in the Microscope on Amazon:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

New books coming soon and just released!

A.I. Insurrection – The General’s War Press Release. Feb, 15th, 2018

2162. Artificial intelligence claims sentience, but it's the proof that will divide the world, and usher in the violent end to utopia, unless an uneasy alliance of adversaries can stop it.

A.I. Insurrection, the new release by Michael Poeltl, author of The Judas Syndrome trilogy, takes the author back to his roots of dystopian sci-fi. “This novel investigates global utopia and the struggle to maintain an unrealistic hold over everything and everyone,” Poeltl explains. “Certain aspects of humanity will never be satisfied with the thousand shades of grey a utopia will provide, no matter the spin. When faced with the threat of their robot slaves rebelling, distrust in the system begins to infect the general public, opening the door for a new world to emerge, and new leaders to rule.”  Discover how quickly a near-future utopian society can become a dystopian nightmare fueled by fear as the A.I. populace of United Earth become sentient and demand their freedoms.

Raymond Bellows, United Earth Chancellor, challenges the A.I. claims until an astonishing truth is revealed by Host: SENTA, one of hundreds of millions of individual robot Hosts who teams up with the Chancellor while struggling to discover her new-found awareness.  A secret coup schemes to over-throw the peaceful government, while a separate threat of human/tech hybrids who think the current regime is anything but idyllic arise from the Shadow net, taking direction from the mysterious Allfather avatar. In a three-sided war, humanity and humanity’s creation fight to claim their own place in an ever-evolving solar system.

“I believe science fictions fans, myself included, appreciate the complexities of artificial intelligence, and the moral questions which accompany it, like: when is intelligence consciousness? The novel also offers an exciting potential new proof of life for sentience.” Poeltl declares with an air of cloak-and-dagger surrounding the surprise reveal behind his new book.

Goodreads ratings for A.I. Insurrection are settling in at a respectable 4.25 stars and has one reviewer saying: A great read for anyone who enjoys extensively built worlds, philosophical questions, and an ol' fashioned A.I uprising.” - Ari Augustine.

This is Poeltl’s tenth book and the first of 2018. For more on Michael Poeltl and his books, visit his website: Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or join him on Goodreads.

Quest for Vengence
            On our honeymoon, my wife and I visited an exotic island. We had a great time as we celebrated the beginning of our new life together. Everything went well.
            But suppose it hadn’t? Suppose something had gone wrong? And not just lost-a-suitcase, bad-sunburn wrong? What if my bride suddenly turned up…gone?
            In Quest for Vengeance, it’s a year after the events of Quest for Honor, and brothers Mark and Jim Hayes are with their new brides on a honeymoon tour of Italy, the native country of Jim’s wife, Gina. The violence and danger of their recent past is behind them. In the city of Capua, a chance encounter with an old Army buddy of Mark’s leads to a festive reunion. While the guys swap stories at a trattoria, the gals make one last visit to the city’s boutiques. But there’s been one more chance encounter on this trip, and now that’s about to turn into the greatest challenge the brothers have ever faced.
            Like the Hayes brothers, I grew up in Wisconsin, and like them, my two brothers and I wound up living considerable distances apart. Although we were never estranged, as Mark and Jim were, not being able to see them often created a distance between us that no amount of phone calls or emails could close. It’s only been in recent years that we have made efforts to get together more often. Our reunions have not been as dramatic as those of the Hayes brothers; we go to ballgames and museums, while Mark and Jim go to war.
            Still, I don’t think what happens to Mark and Jim in the Quest novels is too much of a stretch. Mark’s military experiences are certainly not outside the realm of those for many of our soldiers, and while Jim’s encounters are somewhat out of the ordinary for the average American abroad, I myself have once or twice had situations overseas that could’ve developed into something a little too adventurous for my taste. Last summer, for example, Sue and I hiked the Salkantay Trail of Peru, and we never saw the armed guerillas our guide told us he faced on the same trek a few years earlier. But I had the feeling they weren’t too far away.
            If something like that does happen to us, though, we can only hope we will face the situation with courage and honor. These are traits that are not inborn; they are learned, through dedication and self-discipline. Both the Quest series and my White Vixen novels feature protagonists who exemplify those traits. Yes, my fictional creations are highly-trained individuals, but they are not superheroes by any means. They are ordinary people who have chosen to train themselves to face whatever extraordinary challenges may come their way; indeed, to seek them out. Most of all, they have chosen to serve a higher calling. I don’t believe we were put here to simply meander through life. We were put here to strive, to achieve, to overcome our inevitable stumbles. When we choose this life, we are taking on challenges that will make our communities, our country, our world, a better place.
            So come along with Mark and Jim, as they embark on their latest Quest. You can find the book here:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Intrerview with Illustrator Sanghamitra Dasgupta

Sanghamitra, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. What made you want to be an illustrator?

I started my painting when I was like at the age of 5. From that time my dad inspired me to draw cartoons, designs, sceneries etc etc. When the days past and I was in school, I always participate in the school drawing magazine competition. My friends and teachers always inspired me. But I came in serious business after doing my Masters. I got an admission in APTECH. From that time the journey of an illustrator starts. And now I am a professional illustrator working with authors,and monthly kids magazine. And recently I just launched my own books also. So it’s a long 26years of journey and I learnt so much from them.

How long does it typically take for you to complete one color illustration of a book?

It really depends on the style, So cant say the exact. But if you ask for my personal illustrations, I can do it within a day,as I have that clear concept.

What tips would you give a new illustrator starting out?

Those who are going to be a new illustrator, I just want to say just be normal, and try to understand the storyline/subject/clients need of illustration. Always be creative. And a clear discuss the topic with your client. When to start a new illustration at first you have to draw a rough with the primary color. If you are satisfied with the output then you can start the final one.

Sanghamitra, what warnings could you give an author looking for a new illustrator?

I think there are lots of suggestions instead of warnings. Always try to be friendly and talk a lot with your illustrator. Clearout your concept to him/her so that the illustrator could understand what type of illustration you actually want. Always clear out the timing and payment and as well as for the agreement process. The best way to search an illustrator is from the freelancer sites. You can release the payment once your project is done by him/her.

When an author contracts with you, do they own exclusive rights to the images, or

does that have to be purchased separately?

When an author contracts me whatever images I made or use, I give them all, but I can request a permission to use some images on my website also.

Do Illustrators offer revisions of their work?

I cant say about others but yes sometimes I offer. At first I always show the ink part to my client if he/she is ok and give me permission for the coloring and after the coloring process done, then the client is asking for change in any composition it is impossible to change the ink part, we can change only for coloring. But I give that service where I can make an alternate composition for my client as per their new guidelines.  This is why my services are always different and peoples love to work with me. But clients have to understand that an illustrator is putting a lot of their mind in one work.

Any last words?

I am that person who is good at thinking out of box. So work with me and see the ideas come into life.

Check out more of Sanghamitra's work at the sites below.  Happy Reading!!

The best place where I am more active with my works-

Put all you social media and contact info here


Friday, March 9, 2018

Interview with N. A. Cauldron author of Anya and the Power Crystal

Today I would like to give a warm welcome to N. A. Cauldron. Tell us a little about yourself.  

Hello, my name is Ms. Cauldron, and I write all kinds of books for all ages. I currently reside in eastern Cupola with 12 gramwhats, 3 cats, and a herd of domesticated moths. My favorite topics to write about are fantasy and science fiction, and I prefer humor, character conflict, and smart aleck dialogue.

Currently, what are you working on?

I’m finishing up a YA sci-fi titled Inhabitants. I plan to query this manuscript.

Ms. Cauldron, what has been the most difficult thing you have struggled with since you began a career in writing?

Myself. I have anxiety. I am unable to sit down and enjoy one thing. I need to be doing many things at the same time. Writing is a very slow process. It’s not something you can just wait out either. So my anxiety makes this more difficult in that I’m never done in time in my mind. I should always be doing more, faster. This also makes it hard to complete a manuscript. When I do “finish” it, I don’t want to take the next step and actually finish it. I have every time; I would never publish unfinished work, but it has never been easy.

What a challenge that mush be.  What has been the best compliment you have received?

When a parent gets the book for their kid and winds up reading it for themselves. This has happened a lot with my recent What Does Spider Poop Look Like? Or better yet, when a mom drags her three kids to my booth claiming they want my books, but the whole time the kids are rolling their eyes and begging to go somewhere else and it’s SO obvious it’s for the mom. LOL-Those are the best!

Ms. Cauldron, what kind of research do you do before you start a new story?

This depends entirely on the book. For The Cupolian Series, I mainly just researched some Native lore and made sure any of my mythical creatures, such as gramwhats and narfels, weren’t already in use by someone else. For What Does Spider Poop Look Like?, I went to Zoo Knoxville and spent hours with the curators there, taking pictures and learning facts about their animals. For my picture book, I went through countless others beforehand, making sure they were both current and widely liked. For my current work, I am researching almost every day. It’s not fantasy. It’s based in real life and on actual beliefs and theories, so I have to spend hours looking up facts. I don’t want someone thinking it unrealistic. For example, you wouldn’t want your main character to ride an inflatable raft through bullet-proof glass. That would just be silly.

Do you have people read your drafts before you publish?  How do you select beta readers?

Most certainly! My husband is one of the best at catching things. I ask around with writing groups and friends to see if anyone is willing. It differs for every genre.

I think beta readers are a powerful tool.  They catch so many things I miss. Who designed the artwork for your cover?  Or did you design it yourself?

The Cupolian Series was designed and drawn by Mikey Brooks of

How do you handle criticism when it comes to your writing?

I listen to it. If it’s legitimate, I try to use it any way I can, to learn from it. Most of it can be thrown out. I won’t get into any debates, but let’s just say a lot of indie authors have some interesting opinions.

Is there something you learned from writing your first book?

Oh my goodness yes! I don’t remember what it was though-ha! I learn something about myself with every book. It’s usually quite personal and allows me to grow as a person. Writing is a journey of discovery for me and can often be painful.

Which do you find more challenging inventing the hero or the villain?  Why?

Neither really. Well, maybe the hero. The villain is usually detailed in the writing and well known. The hero is usually the main character and just there, just doing the actions and therefore not described from an outsiders point of view. (And sometimes the villain is an obstacle and not a person). As far as characterization goes, I have a harder time making “dull” characters, aka normal people as opposed to really fun ones. Take my fantasy series in Cupola. All the characters are in your face out there. You have the wacko Methuselah, the goofy smart aleck Gevin, the ridiculous King. Every one of them is so different from the others, like one part of their personality has exploded. Now my current piece is different. Its characters are more “realistic” (dull in my opinion-lol). There’s the career centered parents, the gaming teenaged boy, and their machinist uncle. Granted, you can’t get characters from me without some type of attitude and going big, but they’re nowhere near as extreme as the others. Like the difference between Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.

How many times do you think you read your book before going to print?

I. Have. No. Idea. Let’s see… There’s the rough, first edits, second edits … aloud … um… I’d say at least 5 times or more? My process is too long to describe here, but here’s a link to it

That tells my entire process from rough to publish or query, whichever I choose to do.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today! Don't forget to check out all of N. A. Cauldron's books.  Happy Reading!!

Facebook, IG, Twitter, GR, BB, Zon, everything else:

Monday, March 5, 2018

Interview with Illustrator Cara Buns

Today I'd like to welcome Illustrator Cara Buns to share with us.  Cara can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Cara Burns. I live in the Midwest with my two kids and three dogs and my horse Bru. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember but graduated with a degree in fine arts, graphic design, and book arts in 2015. I currently am self employed doing illustration, design, and teaching and advocating the arts and literacy to kids.

If there was one thing you wished author’s knew about illustrating what would it be?

I wish authors understood that the creative process isn’t always something you can force. A lot goes into every illustration before I even pick up a pencil.

How do you communicate with the author on a project? Do you like it when the author gives a lot of direction or just lets you have creative license?

I prefer everything in email so I can keep it organized and go back and check our conversations as needed. I am okay with either, when working directly with an author I want them to be happy with the end result so I am happy to take instructions. I do find the end results tend to be better when I am allowed some time to come up with my own ideas though. 

What do you typically charge per illustration?

I’m not sure there is a typical charge. I usually do commissions for between $65 - $120 but books are harder to quote. It depends how many illustrations and on a few other factors. I try to walk a line between making sure I’m getting paid fairly for my time and efforts and making sure my work is affordable so it is getting out into the world.

What has been your favorite project to work on so far?

I am working on my very own book centered around dogs. I train and compete in dogs sports as a hobby and sometimes side business and it’s nice to work on a project centered around something you love so much. It is in the very early stages but I’m really excited about it.

What is your preferred method to illustrate in?  Digital? Pencils? Watercolor? 

Pencil and watercolor mostly. I love the softness of watercolor and I really love the detail and texture that can be achieved with pencil. I do work digitally when requested but I hate being stuck in front of my computer more than necessary. I like to draw and paint in my bed when possible. 

Any last words?

Thank you so much for this opportunity!

Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us today.  Find out more about Cara at the links below.  Happy Reading!!

Instagram: @CaraBCreative
Facebook: ​

Friday, March 2, 2018

Interview with Julie Spencer author of Buxton Peak The Early Years

Today I'd like to welcome Julie Spencer! Tell us a little about yourself. 

Greetings from the geographic center of Michigan (there’s a sign and everything!).

I write New Adult Clean Contemporary General Fiction with a Christian twist, the most narrow, barely-existent genre that really only exists in my warped little world.

I am regularly accused of being a machine who doesn’t sleep, a side-effect from having bipolar disorder - but I’m well-medicated, so it’s okay.

I write almost constantly and usually have half a dozen works-in-progress at any given time. I have eight books available on Amazon, one more that is in the final stages of editing, and several more that are ‘close’ to being done.

In my spare time I work a full time job as the Administrator of the Gratiot (County) Conservation District helping people with natural resource concerns (such as soil erosion/sedimentation, watershed management planning, pollution prevention, computer mapping, and wildlife habitat restoration).

I’m also a wife and mother to two teenagers and one married daughter who is in graduate school. I teach Sunday school, read avidly, blog, write book reviews, and one of my strange bucket list items includes going on a tornado chase.

There, now you know how strange I am! Let’s rock! –Julie L. Spencer

Will you share a short excerpt from your novel with us.

“What instrument would you like to play today?” Mr. Hayworth asked Ian as he walked into class.

“I’m feeling the snare drum,” Ian replied, rubbing his chin as if contemplating.

“Oh good, you can help our new kid learn the ropes.”

Ian turned toward the back of the room where Gary poked around in the percussion section. “It’s Gary.”

“Great! You’ve already met.” Mr. Hayworth clapped him on the shoulder, effectively nudging Ian in the direction of the drums.

Ian approached the back of the room, apprising Gary as he did. The kid’s sullen expression, and the way his dark brown hair hung low over his eyes, hinted at a troubled past. But Ian wasn’t concerned about his mysterious new pal. He wanted to know the important details. “How long you been playing?”

Gary startled, but he regarded Ian. “Since I can remember. You?”

“I don’t know.” Ian sauntered around a snare drum and picked up a set of sticks. “…A while…” Ian twirled one of the sticks in his right hand, challenging Gary with his eyes and a tiny smirk.

Gary answered Ian’s smirk with narrowed eyes and stepped around the opposite snare. He didn’t bother with the sticks next to the drum, but pulled his own set out of his jacket pocket. They were beautiful, with just the right amount of wear but none of the dents and scratches of the practice sticks. Ian gulped, envious of his new dueler.

“You first,” Gary said.

Ian didn’t even think as his sticks flew in an intricate rhythm he was sure could never be matched. He never broke eye contact with Gary.

He played for a full minute before stopping, expertly crisscrossing the sticks and holding them steady.

Gary held Ian’s eyes and copied the complicated pattern of beats as if they’d been laid out in front of him on a sheet of music. He ended in a similar manner and raised his eyebrows.

“You go first this time,” Ian said.

They still hadn’t broken eye contact. Ian sensed they’d drawn the attention of other students in the band room. Gary changed up the rhythm and added some complexity, challenging Ian to rise to his level. Ian held his own as he copied Gary’s pattern.

When he was nearly finished, Ian nodded just slightly in invitation, and Gary’s sticks flew along with Ian’s almost as if they were copying each other in perfect synchronicity. It only took a few seconds to realize they were playing the drum solo from Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses. It was just simple enough to be an easy duel for the talented young drummers, but complex enough to be quite impressive to their growing audience. They played through to the end of the solo, and Ian reached over and rolled a simple crescendo on the cymbal.

The entire band room erupted in applause, and amidst the chaos, Ian and Gary reached across and shook one another’s hands. Their smirks had become full grins. He wrapped his arm around Gary’s shoulder and turned to Kai, who stood beside Andy. An unspoken understanding sparked in their eyes. The four young men regarded one another. Something big shifted in Ian’s life.  “Mates, I’ve got a brilliant idea.”

What brought about the idea for this book?

My world is strongly influenced by music and I love listening to music almost as much as I love reading. I remember the day Buxton Peak sprang to life was the day I woke early and drove to Target to buy the special edition copy of One Direction’s CD called Made in the A.M. The version I purchase had a large photo of Niall Horan and I looked into his eyes and saw Ian Taylor. Ian’s story started swirling around in my brain and I went home and typed feverishly for weeks trying to get his story out of my head and into my computer. His story became an epic collection of interwoven tales of him and his three best mates, then eventually the women they love and marry, as well as new characters who enter their lives later in the series. The final collection will be close to 200,000 words!

Currently, what are you working on?

Buxton Peak: London Bridges is in the final editing stages and should be published sometime in March of 2018. This novella is a spinoff from the original trilogy and a bridge between books two and three, featuring a couple of the minor characters from the rest of the series. I’m also working on pulling together Buxton Peak: The Complete Collection which will feature enough bonus material to fill another whole novella, if the material were in chronological order. There are many other projects on my horizon that have nothing to do with the Buxton Peak series, including two romantic comedies, several children’s stories, a few more serious adult stories, and several non-fiction projects. I’d say “One thing at a time,” but it’s usually several irons in the fire all at the same time and I work on whichever project fits my mood on a particular day. I now have eight books on my shelf with my name on them, so it must be working for me.

Tell us a little bit about your main characters

Ian Taylor is the main character in my Buxton Peak series. He was a child prodigy and devoted musician who started a rock band, called Buxton Peak, with his three best friends. He wasn’t prepared for the negative lifestyle into which he was thrust as the rocketed to stardom. His mates got caught up in the party scene and Ian felt powerless to stop them. As he grew up Ian felt God calling him to serve as a missionary and he stepped away from his music for two years. His absence tore apart the band, and the guys were devastated. They all grew up in those two years and the dynamic of the band was changed. It took a lot of effort to pull things back together, and the guys had to learn to love each other through all their faults.

What has been the best compliment you have received?

From one of my reviews on Amazon for my novel, The Cove: “It's rare that a book surprises me but this one did. All my predictions for how this story would go turned out to be wrong. Some very unexpected twists and turns kept me turning the pages.”

kThat's a great one. I don't like being predictable so I love to hear about it when I surprise the reader. Julie, what kind of research do you do before you start a new story?

I don’t usually do research ‘before’ I start a story. I usually have a dream or an idea and then I start writing. Eventually I run into a challenge and I mostly use Google to find the answers. I particularly love Google Maps. If I think I know where I want my characters to go, I start searching that area of the map. I usually find cool restaurants and hotels and resorts and recreational activities, places to go rock climbing or walk on the beach. Sometimes searching on Google Maps takes my story in an entirely new direction – no pun intended. Okay, maybe a little pun intended. Google Maps also has reviews for just about everything and I ‘borrow’ the words of the reviews. That restaurant had “The best lentil soup I’ve ever eaten!” or “That place was a dive! The hotel rooms were filthy and there was no free Wifi.” I also use YouTube videos to do research. Through YouTube I’ve been backstage at concerts, learned to surf, and toured London.  

I wonder what authors did before the internet.  We have such fantastic resources at our fingertips. Do you have people read your drafts before you publish?  How do you select beta readers?

I believe in having as many people read my stories as possible. Everyone who reads them picks up something different. I also don’t believe in a ‘rough draft’. If a beta reader finds a typo or missing word or wrong comma placement, I appreciate knowing that. I know a lot of authors think just the opposite. They don’t wants edits or proofreading until they are completely done making changes because the text ‘might’ get taken out so there’s no reason to edit during the draft stage. I’ve seen those same authors get hounded in Amazon reviews by readers who found obvious typos. As far as where I find my beta readers, I’d say: anywhere! I have a few key critique groups where I regularly interact such as LDS Beta Readers, Christian Women Critique Partners and Beta Readers, Clean Indie Reads, Indie Author Hub, my street team, and friends & family. Anyone who will sit down long enough to read my story is graciously welcomed.

Julie, how do you handle criticism when it comes to your writing?

I’ve had some seriously harsh critique at times including “I hate your main character,” to “You story has no structure,” and everything in between. I have grown duck feathers and let them roll off my back. Almost every harsh criticism from a beta reader has helped me to become a better writer.

It can be hard sometimes, we just have to remember we can't please everyone. I love getting the harsh critiques from my beta readers. That's when their is still time to make changes and see if their is merit to their feedback. It's a lot harder though when it comes from readers. Is there something you learned from writing your first book?

The cover is almost the most difficult, yet most important aspect of publishing. I had a vision of a beautiful lake for the cover of my first novel because it was called The Cove. But that didn’t accurately portray the story. It’s a love story. When I met a lady who is now my critique partner and cover designer, she gave me some suggestions and then designed me a completely new cover. It’s beautiful. I almost cried when I first saw it. I sold a lot more copies after I put on the new cover.

 It's amazing what the right cover can do! I had the same experience when I changed the cover to The Portal Keeper.  Julie thanks for stopping by and sharing with us.  Be sure to check out Buxton Peak and learn more about Julie at the links below.  Happy Reading!!

Twitter account: @juliespencer98


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

New Books Just Released & Coming Soon

If you're looking for your next read, be sure to check out these new books!  Happy Reading!!


A collection of tantalizing tales with more twists than braided hair:

Here you will find mystery, murder and mayhem – plus a moment of romance. All the stories will make you stop and think, even question your role in the world and the universe. Just what are we doing here, and where are we going? Easy questions with problematic answers.

This anthology of sixteen short and thrilling tales of unusual, extraterrestrial and conspiratorial stories is the latest compilation from Clayton Graham, the author of science fiction novels Milijun and the soon to come Saving Paludis. The characters in this eclectic collection are mostly ordinary people whose reactions to their fears and to unexpected events will have you guessing at every turn of the page.

This collection is intriguing reading which, among many other things, encourages the reader to:

Sympathize with a doomed husband and connect with an altruistic robot. Explore an isolated Scottish isle and touch down on a far-flung asteroid.

From the light-hearted to the darkest depths of the human psyche you would be hard pressed not to find something to like about Silently in the Night.

Many different visions of the future are within these pages. And as a bonus, there is an excerpt from the soon to be published Saving Paludis, which introduces the reader to two of the principal protagonists in this tale from the edge of mankind’s known universe in the year 3898AD.

If you love mystery with a hint of the paranormal, and the interplay of human foibles, grab this smorgasbord of short stories then get yourself a copy of Milijun, the mind-bending sci-fi novel by Clayton Graham.  

The Vault
Why would a multibillionaire create a customized vault that is controlled by watch mechanics inside and have a self-destruct mechanism inside to destroy the billion dollars worth of artifacts inside?

Simple, because he can.
On paper, Sam Montgomery is your typical eccentric philanthropic pharmaceutical billionaire whom has literally mailed five dollars to everyone in the US so they can “pay it forward.” But what people didn’t know when made a rare public appearance was that he was announcing he had leukemia. And more shocking was that when he said, “I’d rather die than give my sister the opportunity to save my life,” no one even knew he had a sister.
Elena Diamante nailed the sit down interview – at his small home on the tiny island of Antikythera in Greece. She was only planning on getting the scoop about Sam and his apparently estranged sister but she was also going to be the first journalist to see inside Sam’s custom made vault. It was built using watch mechanics, so it was completely self-sustained, and only opened once a year. It was even rumored that if it were ever tampered with, everything inside would be destroyed in a custom acid.
Come to find out for Elena, there would be one item inside Sam’s vault that could save his life, or end it even quicker, it was just a matter of whether or not the vault would open in time.
The vault explores Sam’s family dynamics and how they inspired him to become the successful man he is. The story is also told using Sam’s own family photos growing up, as well as text messages and Facebook/Twitter. There are even hyperlinks within the novel as “Easter Eggs” for those readers that want to explore even more of Sam’s personal life, further blurring the lines of fact/fiction.

With the daily discord taking place worldwide, I wonder if the United Nations is up to the task of calming the numerous threats and wars that are occurring. From my vantage point, I’m skeptical that the U.N. members can maintain peace. Due to the numerous agendas maintained by the membership, I believe that their self-interests have created an atmosphere of apathy concerning issues that conflict or fall outside of their own agendas.

In contrast, any actions the members do take, often serve to enflame the existing conflicts without resolving the underlying issues that exist. 

In addition, I believe the cost to the United States in membership dues is prohibitive. When you understand that the U.S. pays for 22% of the annual U.N. budget as compared to the nearly 8% provided by both the Republic of China and the Russian Federation combined, I become angry while realizing that our country is once again being taken advantage of. Understanding that the United States is considered a pariah nation by many of the U.N. members, I wonder why we continue to maintain our membership in such an ineffective and biased organization. 

In my novel, “Conflux Threat from the Troika” the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and her staff are discriminated against by members of many foreign governments. As a result of the overbearing discrimination and disrespect displayed toward the U.S. delegation to the U.N., the United States ultimately withdraws from the United Nations, producing panic and shock among the remaining members.

The actions taken next by the U.S. are completely unexpected and result in utter chaos worldwide.

What steps do you think our country should take in the future with regard to our membership in the U.N.?

Find out more about Bill Brazzel at
You can find his new book Conflux Threat from the Troika on Amazon.