Friday, August 10, 2018

Say Hello to Viv Drewa!

Viv Drewa
Author and Contributor to 

Viv Drewa dropped by to share the lowdown on her story in Midnight Oil:  An Anthology, Christmas Tears.  A long-distance romance brings two people together, Viv Says of her story, but after being ignored for a time, Edana leaves. But does Charlie regret ignoring her?  Not everyone has a happy Christmas.

Viv willingly obliged us in a quick interview:

1.  Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life.  

I love to write and have since I was 9 years old. Since I haven’t worked since 2013 and had two mini-strokes, my doctor told me to do something to keep my mind working. He said writing would be great.  I love owls and use them in my books, except for this one.

2. What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?  

I had an accident that put me on disability. Since I had the time I was able to pursue my love of writing

3. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something else? 

I’m a Planster I start out with a plot and outline then my writing just takes off on its own.

4. Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?   

I loved writing “The Owl of the Sipan Lord” I spent six weeks doing research for it.

5. Tell us a little about your story in the Midnight Oil Anthology.  

It’s a story about a man who only cares for himself.

6. Do you have works in progress? 

I have three in the works. I will have one done by the end of August and the other two by the end of the year.

7. What are your plans for your next book? 

I’m writing a series, Joe Leverette Mysteries, and I plan on plotting out the third book.

8. Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?

Several really. For “The Owl of the Sipan Lord” I contacted a well-known archaeologist because I couldn’t find what I needed and he got back with me in one week. The other “Midnight Owl: Joe Leverette Mystery, Book 1” I contacted our local ME about the murder to see if it was feasible.

9. How do you stay in touch with your muse? 

 Sometimes I have to give her a good kick in the butt!

10. What do you think has contributed the most to your writing style? 

I just do my thing.

11. Required question: How can readers follow you online? 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Crystal L.Gauthier on Midnight Oil: An Anthology

Crystal L. Gauthier, Author &
Owner of Southern Owl Publications

Crystal L. Gauthier, one of the hardworking writers of Southern Owl Publications and organizer of  Midnight Oil: An Anthology dropped by to share the intel on her contribution to the edition, The Haunting of Claire Pritchett.

"My Character Claire Pritchett is being haunted in her mind by an evil entity. He used to be human, but now he terrorizes poor Claire to the point of sheer madness. Will she be able to rid herself of this thing in her brain, or will she succumb to his mental takeover? “Midnight Oil Anthology” – “The Haunting of Claire Pritchett.”

Claire - Will she survive this specter?

Crystal graciously hit the pause button on her busy life to answer our questions:

1.  Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life.
I love working from home at my three businesses, lying in the sun, traveling, talking to friends, and doing crafts.  My life has been full of surprises and hard times. I have persevered to be a successful publisher, promoter, and jewelry consultant.

2. What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?

I’m a former paralegal of 30 years+, an author, publisher, promoter, marketer, wife, and mother of 5 grown children and 15 grandchildren. I live in Louisville, KY.

3. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something else?

I call myself a researcher as I write historical romance. I love to find out about, people, places, and things.

4. Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?

I am working on a few things, book 3 in my time travel series. Another Cookbook and a Horror Novel.

5. Tell us a little about your story in the Midnight Oil Anthology.
  
The Haunting of Claire Pritchett is inspired by mental illness, horror, and deception. It is something I came up with one night lying in bed.

6. Do you have works in progress?
 Yes, another horror story.

7. What are your plans for your next book?

To have it published in 2019

8. Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?

Researching Nero (37 AD - 68 AD) Bust of Nero© Nero was the fifth Roman emperor and the last of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He is remembered as an ineffectual, neglectful and brutal leader.

9. How do you stay in touch with your muse?

Meditation is the key to that for me.  On the verge of sleep in the REM state, I usually have the vivid stories hit me.

10. What do you think has contributed the most to your writing style?

The fact that I taught myself how to edit and recognize that I love the dialogue between the characters that is in-depth and fun to write.

11. How can readers follow you online?

Twitter: @cubbymom0403
Twitter: @Southernowl1

Welcoming Taylor Ford

Taylor For, Author

Rounding up the last (but not least) of the stories featured in Midnight Oil:  An Anthology, it Taylor Ford.  I caught up with Taylor on the run and managed to get a brief interview.  (I'm still panting.)  Here's what she had to say:

What makes me tick? In truth, my story is sad and cumbersome and not what people want to learn about. However, growing up, as I did, I had books as my comfort and curiosity and from that, I had a wonderful exploration of imagination all to myself. I began writing my first book, novel-length when I was thirteen-ish. That book was not only a grand escape from reality but also my first understanding of what it meant to find your purpose in life. I’ve always been an author. I had my first “story” published in the Young Authors Conference when I was eight. I was born a writer and always have been so. I feel very lucky with my writing process, I’ve always been able to create a story from beginning to end. Obviously, I’m not immune to writer’s block but I have an amazing group of writers that are close to me that stimulate me constantly. The dystopian fantasy series that I’m writing haunts me constantly. It’s the story my mind will never give up on until it’s finished.

My works in progress is a series (A Nightingale’s Tale), a stand-alone novel (The 23rd), and multiple scripts (The Missing), as of now. Any future projects are on hold until my current works are finished. Missing 411 is a huge part of my research for multiple stories. I read, and listen to podcasts or audiobooks constantly. Knowing other stories helps with my writing exponentially.

I hope you've enjoyed getting to know about the authors featured in this anthology from Southern Owl PublicationsBe sure to check out their other great reads here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Say Hello to Sarah Stein


Today's featured Midnight Oil:  An Anthology author, Sarah Stein

Sarah Stein is featured in Southern Owl Publications' latest release, Midnight Oil:  An Anthology.  Sarah stopped by our virtual cafe to share information on her life and writing. We asked her a few questions, and she kindly obliged:

1.  Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life.

I’ve always been an avid reader, and that’s one of the main reasons why I started writing my own tales. I’m from southern Louisiana but reside in south Texas with my husband of many years, two children, a German Shepherd, and a Dachshund. When I’m not spending quality time with them, I’m singing, reading, writing, or researching for the upcoming releases. 

2.  What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?

Before I became a writer, I worked in retail during the day and focused on my husband and children when they’d get off of work and school. Now, I write while they’re away. I’m lucky to have such an amazing support system.

3.  Tell us about your writing process. Are you a panster, a plotter, or something else?

I’m a plotter all the way. Most of my notes are jotted down on the many notebooks that I have stored in my desk. I recently started saving files to Dropbox, but it’s just the manuscripts. I actually have three separate hard drives for backups. Lol

4.  Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?

My favorite project was when I worked on The Dark Truth that was featured in the Tales After Midnight Anthology. I think every author featured had a blast working on that one. Unfortunately, it’ll be out of print really soon.

5.  Tell us a little about your story in the Midnight Oil anthology.

My story in the Midnight Oil Anthology is called ‘An Honest Lie.’ It focuses on keeping a secret that not even your best friend knows about. This secret actually affects her best friend, but the main character is torn between following her heart or squashing her dream, and keeping things the way they are at the moment.



6.  Do you have works in progress?

I have tons of work in progress. Lol This year, I plan on releasing the third book in my shifter series. I’m also releasing three other stories that will be featured in anthologies in Oct. Sept. and Dec. of 2018.

7.  What are your plans for your next book?

I’m plotting for the fourth and final story in the shifter series, and releasing that in 2019. I’m also working on an anthology piece that features a few erotica stories written by me.

8.  Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?

My only interesting research was when I had to look up flaying a human being.   Lol, It was for the Halloween anthology. To be honest, the research was very interesting.

9.  How do you stay in touch with your muse?

I read, and read and read some more until I’m reading to write the next story. I don’t push myself unless I’m writing during NaNoWriMo.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

More Regular Stuff

What a day.  I'm pooped.  Mr. Rankin and I spent the day staining the deck.  It was loooong overdue for a fresh staining.  We've been working on it in bits and pieces over the last month.  First the sanding and fixing nails that worked their way out of the wood, seemingly defying the laws of physics.  How does that even happen? Do they levitate? Hopefully, this stain job will last a long time since these kinds of chores seem to get more and more difficult over time 😊.  We managed to keep the critters off until the stain was dry, and it looked pretty good if I do say so myself.  I spent the evening doing homework for an online class I'm taking while watching Columbo reruns.  My dog is reminding me it's time for bed.  Goodnight.

(Gratuitous stock photo. It was dark by the time I started writing the blog post, lol.)

Meet Freya LeCrow, Midnight Oil: An Anthology Contributor

Freya LeCrow, Author
Contributor to Midnight Oil:  An Anthology

An accomplished writer, Freya LeCrow brings years of experience and a wide range of genre interests to her work on Midnight Oil:  An Anthology from Southern Owl Publications.  Her contribution to the edition is entitled A Gift for Rayne.  Freya had this to share about her story:

Rayne had been through hell and back, finding herself lost then found by love.  That love wasn't simple by any means.  A vampire married to a fae queen wasn't the normal life she thought she would have.  Dimitri wanted to give her a gift and what a gift that would be.  Rayne might never be ready for the gift he is offering.

Freya graciously responded to our requests for an interview, and she shared the following:

1.  Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life. 

My life pretty much revolves around my family.  I am a mother of three kids, and it gets crazy at times.  Late at night is writing time for me.

2. What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?

I don’t think I had a life before I became a writer.  I started writing at a very young age and kept writing.  It is part of who I am.

3. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something else? 

Pantser, I have never been great about plotting and brainstorming. 

4. Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?

I can’t think of one.

5. Tell us a little about your story in the Midnight Oil Anthology. 

My story is about a young woman who walks into a gallery and 
finds a painting of herself as a young girl, but the artwork is 100 years old.  She later finds out from her father that the family is cursed.  

6. Do you have works in progress? I have a few, but not currently writing much.

7. What are your plans for your next book?

Shh...it’s a secret, even to me.  LOL

8. Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?

I just kind of run around like a chicken with my head cut off.  Though I do use Google Earth for the locations I have never been to.

9. How do you stay in touch with your muse? 

I think mine got lost someplace.  If you see her, send her back.

10. What do you think has contributed the most to your writing style? 

Reading!!!  I love to read, and that has helped me to find my style.

11. How can readers follow you online?



Saturday, August 4, 2018

Meet Joe Pranaits, Contributor to Midnight Oil: An Anthology


Joe Pranaits, Author

Contributor to Midnight Oil:  An Anthology

I'm pretty sure that veteran writer, Joe Pranaits keeps a litany of science fiction works stowed safely in a hyper-vault in another dimension, and he telepathically extracts them for us on special occasions like a literary liqueur.  His contribution to Midnight Oil:  An Anthology from Southern Owl Publications is a case in point, er Counterpoint.  Here's what Joe shared about his story:

An hour after Admiral Lynch sees the ECS Andrea vanish into time, she sees that they haven’t returned but hunts down the temporal engines designer to find out from him what went wrong. When she tracks him down he confesses that he wasn’t telling her the truth when he designed the temporal engines or that he isn’t even from the twenty-fourth century but from a year far up the timeline.

I caught up with Joe for an interview to give readers a glimpse into his life as we celebrate the upcoming release of Midnight Oil:  An Anthology.

1. Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life.

I am an author and producer. I grew up being exposed to Star Trek and the original BattleStar Galactica and later on Babylon 5, but the thing that has really influenced me was the book Star Trek: Final Frontier by Diane Carey.  

2. What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?

I started out as an artist just drawing starships and then my mom and my uncle introduced me to the word processing program and I wrote several short stories. But it wasn’t until high school that I was given the assignment to write and draw my own comic book and that is where my original series Infinite Stars was born.

3. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something else?

How I start is by taking time to read then I watch an episode of a series before sitting down at the computer and let my mind take flight.

4. Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?

All of my writing projects have been my favorite when I’ve worked on them.

5. Tell us a little about your story in the Midnight Oil Anthology. 
It takes place a few hours after the ECS Andrea (See Shattered Time Anthology) was launched and Admiral Lynch has to find out why they haven’t returned yet so she orders her crew aboard the Nimitz to locate the designer of the experimental temporal engines.

6. Do you have works in progress?

Yes, I am currently rewriting two of what was my Kindle Worlds stories into books of their own that will fit within the universe of my stories from both Shattered Time and Midnight Oil.

7. What are your plans for your next book?

As above and the first book in the Temporal War trilogy of which it will be called should be out by next January or February.

8. Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?

No, unfortunately, I don’t

9. How do you stay in touch with your muse?

She and I have a great relationship and she always knows when I need her.

10. What do you think has contributed the most to your writing style?

What has is that I read a lot and I let my impanation take flight,

11. How can readers follow you online?


You can find me at my website http://trekprime.wixsite.com/joepranaitis, Goodreads,  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3143760.Joe_Pranaitis,Twitter https://twitter.com/JoePranaitis, and my Facebook author’s page  https://www.facebook.com/JoePranaitisAuthor/?ref=bookmarks

I hope you've enjoyed getting to know about the authors featured in this anthology from Southern Owl Publications.  Be sure to check out their other great reads here.

Friday, August 3, 2018

D.A. Roach: Today's Featured Contributor to the Midnight Oil Anthology

Best selling author, D.A. Roach brings a wealth of storytelling experience to the Midnight Oil: An Anthology collection from Southern Owl Publications.  Her extensive work in YA fantasy blends great stories with elements of science fiction and adventure.  I caught up with D.A. for an interview to learn more about her and her stories.


Midnight Oil Anthology author, D.A. Roach

1.  Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life.

I grew up in the Midwest, lived in Chicagoland area, Michigan, Texas, and settled in Indiana. I’ve tried several careers, thankfully my outgoing personality, creativity, adaptability, and smarts have helped me explore various fields. I enjoy reading, watching hockey and tennis, going to concerts, writing, and drawing. Life hasn’t always been easy, in fact, my road seems to have more bumps than most, but it makes for an interesting life!

2.  What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?

I have always been a storyteller. Most of my tales were about real things that had happened in my life. I never considered writing the stories down, figuring they weren’t interesting enough for anyone to read about. But my dental hygienist asked why we were traveling to Tennessee for vacation and of course…there was a story behind it. When I finished telling the tale, she set down her instruments and said, “You have to write that down – write it in a book, it needs to be told!” So I gave it a try…never intended on writing more than that one story, but people started writing me via facebook messenger, asking me for more…and so I wrote again and here I am, 7 standalones and 8 anthologies later, I’m a USA Today Bestselling Author!

3. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something else?

I write out a rough plot, like the story summed up in 10 handwritten pages (pen and paper only to allow me the speed needed to get the ideas out). Then I build my characters, finding an image online, naming them, giving them a history…I also need to decide how they will change throughout the story and what plot points need to happen to cause those changes to happen. Once all of that is done, I power up the laptop and begin writing. The first draft is always a bit of a mess, but then I read it through and polish it…then off to the editor it goes.

4. Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?

Honestly, one of my favorite writing projects was penning my first short horror story, Anesthesia in the 13, an Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction collection. I am a huge horror fan but have never attempted to write it before and it was a challenge…a rewarding challenge. I learned a lot about varying your style and length of sentence to create tension.

5. Tell us a little about your story in the Midnight Oil Anthology.

Joe King approached me and asked if I wanted to pen a tale of deception for the Anthology. I jumped at the chance to contribute to the project. Bent Bottom’s is about a relationship that has changed over time, with one partner wilting under the other’s dominance. When love has shifted into something else, it forces you to consider whether to stay in that kind of relationship or look for something different…perhaps something better.



6. Do you have works in progress?

YES! I’m working on wrapping up my Demon Hunters series!

7. What are your plans for your next book?

My next book is a reworking of Tethered and Inconsequential of the J+P series. It’s a YA drama and there will be at least 4 books.

8. Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?

Just my exciting google searches, like “ways to kill someone with an elevator”.

9. How do you stay in touch with your muse?

My muse is on my street team. She says the craziest things and challenges me to include them in my writing. We chat on FB messenger since she lives in Colorado. We have never met but I feel like she’s like my sister. I love her to death.

10. What do you think has contributed the most to your writing style?

Probably my reading – I enjoy reading character-rich books so I try to write books and stories that focus on the characters and how they change.

11. How can readers follow you online?

Web Page: https://daroachfiction.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DARoachDA/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/daroach
Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/d-a-roach

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Sneak Preview of Owl of the Sipan Lord Audiobook

Back in my previous life...well, my previous career, I worked in broadcasting and had a brief stint as a radio announcer for our local NPR affiliate. I loved that work, and I've always wanted to try audio drama.  I'm so excited to have the opportunity to begin narrating audiobooks.  My first full-length project is working with author Viv Drewa to record her book, Owl of the Sipan Lord. It's a mystery with suspenseful and paranormal elements.  Take a peek at our sneak preview of Owl of the Sipan Lord with this 20+ minute preview, and stay tuned as we keep you posted on our progress with this project. Enjoy!


Midnight Oil Anthology Release Celebration Week: An Interview with Karen Vaughan

Veteran author Karen Vaughan is our next featured contributor to Midnight Oil:  An Anthology, a new collection from Southern Owl Publications.  Hailing from Canada, Karen writes murder mysteries, as she puts it, "Killing People Off One Page at a Time."


Karen Vaughan, Contributing Author featured in Midnight Oil:  An Anthology

I caught up with Karen to ask her some questions about her writing as we get psyched for the release of our anthology.  So, tell us, Karen:

1. Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life.

Day to day life involves promoting indie authors with my partners Viv Drewa and Dellani Oakes for Owl & Pussycat Promotions. I also write or try to write each day, and hang out with hubby, so he doesn’t feel neglected.

2. What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?

Before I was a writer, I worked for a local mental health agency as a vocational rehabilitation counselor. I am a mom and a wife who loves card and board games. I also love to socialize with friends. I was home on sick leave from work and got bored. I had an idea kicking around in my brain and decided then was a good time to write it, and I never stopped writing

3. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something else?

Dedicated plantser--- I line up my characters and a basic plot. I write longhand first and then dictate the novel using dragon software.

4. Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?
The story I am working on for another anthology under the sea. My story is about a mermaid shifter who after an accident loses her memory and forgets what and who she is. It is a fantasy, and it’s my first one ever. I am pretty stoked about it.

5. Tell us a little about your story in the midnight oil anthology.

My story is about Alice who has always wanted to go to the moon. Disenchanted with her marriage, she takes off on what she thinks is a cross-country trip but is really a trip to outer space with some very deceptive aliens.


 6. Do you have works in progress?

The mermaid with the seahorse tattoo, dead air (Laura & Gerry series #8) a bottle of red (romance)

7. What are your plans for your next book?

I want to take my laura and Gerry series international after they win the mega lotto they will travel the world and find murder and mayhem everywhere they go.

8.  Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?

I try not to research as I am basically lazy, but I have researched comedy clubs for one of my books and watched lots of routines.

9. How do you stay in touch with your muse?

Blogging and writing anything I can.

10. What do you think has contributed the most to your writing style?

My warped sense of humor.

11.  How can your readers follow you online?




Website:  https://karenwritesmurder.com/ 

I hope you've enjoyed getting to know about the authors featured in this anthology from Southern Owl Publications.  Be sure to check out their other great reads here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Midnight Oil Anthology Release Celebration Week - Interview with Skyler Rankin

This week, I'll be sharing interviews from authors whose work is featured in Southern Owl Publications' upcoming release, Midnight Oil:  An Anthology.  Today's interview is with yours truly, Skyler Rankin.  Here are my answers to the Midnight Oil interview team's questions:

Skyler Rankin, Author
Recording at the studio at Woodland Media Creative Services

1. Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life.

I have a day job working as an administrator with a university, and like most other independent writers, I spend my downtime penning stories. There’s not a huge amount of downtime, unfortunately. I’m also taking some online classes to finish a degree, so yes, I often bite off more than I can comfortably chew.  I’m an empty-nester, and I live with my husband and a small herd of domestic pets. We have two cats, a dog, and a plethora of woodland creatures who have declared themselves my wards by eating anything I attempt to grow.  I’m a creative person who has a hard time focusing on one thing at a time, which means I have multiple projects going on at once.

2. What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?
I began writing early in my pre-teen years, and I always knew I wanted to be an author. I had really practical parents though, who preached the importance of having a real job.  Even though it was a tough reality to accept, writing is hard for multiple reasons. First, you craft your stories, which is far more challenging than it sounds, and then you work to publish. Back then, electronic publishing did not exist, and vanity publishing was frowned upon, not to mention expensive.  Getting published meant typing your work out on a manual typewriter, sending it off and waiting, and waiting, and sometimes getting no response at all. For many years, I lived on my academic and non-fiction, and now that I’m nearing retirement, I hope to continue with my first love, fiction.

3. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something else?

I really appreciate the power of an outline for keeping my work on track.  However, there are times that spontaneous writing just feels better and more natural. I’ve carved out my own style which usually begins with a rough outline, following it through to get the story down, and then going back over it to add the flavor that pantsing can provide.

4. Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?
I have so many projects haunting my dreams that it’s hard to pin down a favorite. Time would help. Between working my day job and taking care of my personal life, there’s little time for writing, especially when indies must also do most of their own promotion as well. And while it sounds like a complaint, the truth is, I’m happiest when writing, and nothing thrills me quite like knowing I’ve given someone a fantastic story.

5. Tell us a little about your story in the Midnight Oil Anthology.
Baked is a novella, a mini-mystery centered on characters in the fictional town of Mariner’s Bluff on the shores of Lake Erie.  The main character, Trina Sharp, is a former investigative reporter disgraced by having lost her job with a major newspaper.  Down on her luck, she retreated to Mariner’s Bluff and took a job at the local paper, a position well below the considerable talent she thinks she’s lost.

Newcomer Jacki Vickers opens a bakery.  To the dismay of local officials, she plans to sell gourmet muffins with a special ingredient, marijuana, for medicinal purposes.  She’s skirting the law, and locals are concerned the business could taint their image as a family-friendly vacation spot.

The timing is especially unfortunate, given the town’s first big fall festival featuring a huge bass fishing tournament that is garnering national attention.  In spite of Jacki’s gutsy move, or perhaps because of it, Trina finds Jacki fascinating.  Jacki rebuffs Trina’s interest and keeps her at arm’s length. 

A young man is found shot dead in the middle of town, just a short distance from the bakery, and evidence of Jacki’s wares is found on the body, along with something else that threatens to put her away for a long, long time.  Like a hound on a blood trail, Trina’s passion for the mystery takes over as she hits the investigative trail.  Jacki needs her help more than she wants to admit, but she still pushes Trina away.

Clearly, Jacki is more than a businesswoman who landed in Mariner’s Bluff to open a bakery, but what?  What is her connection to this young man, and what might she have done that may lock her away for life?  Is it Trina’s attraction to Jacki driving her need to solve the crime, her need to redeem herself, or a little of both?

As with most of my stories, I envision images for the characters and settings.  I roughed out a mock-up cover for this novella to help me set the tone for writing.  If the story were released on its own, the cover would look something like this:



6. Do you have works in progress?

Yes, several.  I’m working on the sequel to Viral Dawn, which will be entitled Viral Storm.  The story picks up with heroine Casey Williams after she is infected by a zombie’s bite while trying to evade military detection in her effort to leave the country to expose the damning evidence she has against BioGenetics, the company that manufactured the deadly virus.  Kyle Carter, her new love interest and former soldier, refuses to leave her side even though she threatens to expose their location to the enemy if he doesn’t.

Instead, he catches her off guard and gives her their first kiss, one that seals his fate to hers by infecting him as well.  The two are now off to procure a new vaccine in development that is rumored to stop the disease.  Casey and Kyle, so smart and resourceful, are now racing against time where little is in their control.  They’ve made a suicide pact should the virus affect them before they reach their only hope.

Will they make it safely to the research facility before the military or BioGenetics’ contracted guerillas find them?  Will they succumb to the virus before they can get help?  IF they make it, can they obtain the vaccine before the developers find out who they are?  What about the friends they left behind? Can they make it to Canada and expose BioGenetics in time to take the heat off Casey and Kyle?

I recently updated the cover for Viral Dawn, and I think it is a more precise reflection of the story:


7. What are your plans for your next book?

After I finish Viral Storm, I may or may not do a sequel.  It depends on what Casey wants.  Meanwhile, I have another suspense mystery mapped out that involves the whiskey industry in Kentucky. The tentative title is Barrel Proof.

8. Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?
I take lots of really odd pictures.  Whenever we go on vacation or even when I’m out and about doing daily work, if I see something that looks like an interesting story or that might make an interesting cover image, I snap a photo and keep it…apparently forever. Sometimes other people look at me funny when they see me taking pictures of something really strange like a dilapidated building or a section of a wall. They probably think I’m crazy, which is just a synonym for writer.

9. How do you stay in touch with your muse?

Okay, I have to say that sometimes my muse is bossy.  She used to be really elusive. I could sit for hours or months and get no good ideas.  Now that she’s older, she just comes on out and beats me into submission.  In Baked, for example, I had every intention of making Trina’s story all about the mystery.  Period.  My muse informed me, and Trina was backing her up on this, that Trina was gay, and this story would have a romantic interest between her and Jacki.  I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t sure I could pull this off, but they wouldn’t back down.  In fact, when I tried to take the novella in another direction, they just left and would not come back until I committed to the story.  

Eventually, I gave up because I just work here. I have to admit. They were right. It’s a better story.  As an FYI, they gave in to me when I reminded them this was a YA-to-adult book, so they cooperated in keeping the story tame in the romance department.

10. What do you think has contributed the most to your writing style?

For so many years, I’ve focused on what other people tell me to write or what satisfied the need.  At times, I think I did this to the detriment of my own voice.  At this point, I’m writing the way I think and feel is best.  I’m letting the words and phrases flow instead of analyzing everything in light of others’ advice.  This isn’t to suggest that others can’t be helpful or that advice I’ve received in the past was necessarily bad, but in the end, it’s the writer’s story.  I’ve found I have to listen to that inner voice we call the muse.  If I don’t, she and my characters will gang up on me.

11. How can readers follow you online?


I’m on several websites, and I do occasionally do Twitter, but probably the best places to follow me are on my website at  www.skylerrankin.com  or my Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/Skyler.Rankin.Author/  

I hope you've enjoyed getting to know about the authors featured in this anthology from Southern Owl Publications.  Be sure to check out their other great reads here.

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