Author Interview with CL Slias

Welcome back to our author interview sessions. Today we meet with Ms. CL Slias (aka Crazy Lady). She went so far above and beyond my questions that you have a mini book here from her, and it’s totally free. I love how much she shared! And I laughed and smiled my way through from the very first line where she added a question to start. Why didn’t I think of that?! Buckle down, this one is a wild ride, but I promise you will feel like you have learned so much!

I never thought to ask…

So in all honesty, I never thought to ask this, and this amazing author shoved the envelope in my face, so to speak.

Do you write under your own name? 

No, I write under my pen name, C.L. Slias 

Where did you get your pen name?

 I love talking about [this]! My real name is Amber, none of my initials have anything to do with my pen name. I started a facebook page a couple of years ago. I wanted to start to gain a following on Facebook before I actually hit publish. But it was not just for writing. 

Random side note: I started homeschooling 6 of my kids because of COVID and all the stuff surrounding the pandemic. I learned during that time how little the school had taught my kids, and also how many awful things that happened in school that they hadn’t mentioned while going. We are still and will continue to homeschool.

Anyway, I started the page to share homeschooling things, writing stuff, fun things, food stuff, really just a way to find my people. I wanted any followers I reached to be able to know me through the posts I put out there, and I wanted a name to match that. 

That is where my FB page Crazy Lady Should Live in a Shoe started. From there, when I was working on my computer, all of the files I had with stuff for that page were named CLSLIAS. So every day when I went to open my writing files, I would see the folder labeled with that. It was a part of my writing as the first thing that caught my eye daily. When I was finally ready to press the publish button, I wanted to use a name that meant something to me, but that wasn’t me. I LOVED the idea of having a pen name. 

I struggled with finding one for months, but the day I started creating a ‘final’ file for publishing on KV, I saw that folder again, CLSLIAS. And it just made sense. Why not use my FB page that will second as my author page? So I chopped it up a bit and created C.L. Slias. Now when anyone asks me what the C.L. stands for, I get to tell them it means ‘Crazy Lady’, which is perfect. I am the Crazy Lady!

This is awesome. OK, not the poor schooling part, but the pen name part. I love it!! I love how the acronym turned into an actual name of inspiration. Very cool! As to the digression about school – I’ve been on both sides of it. As a teacher having it dictated what I cover and when and struggling to make it accessible to everyone, and then the dumbfounded parental role of “how do you not know this??!”) We need more good homeschooling so that we can remake the education system about teaching again, to trust our professional educators actually know what they are doing and lose the state and federal requirements of crap that waste time and money and change every few years so there is no continuity just new initiatives…and there’s my rant for the day. Back to you!

How did you know you had this series in you? 

So, uh. I didn’t. 

This series actually started out as a drunken idea I had while playing around with another one of my stories. It is a story about the afterlife and how energy is transferred through like becoming ghosts or whatever. I don’t want to talk too much about it because it has actually changed so many times. Plus this is about Reigning Embers, so I won’t go there. Just know, I had a few shots of whiskey and felt like writing. The WIP I was concentrating on then was a full series of stories about the afterlife. One of my characters was misbehaving, and I had an idea that did NOT – in any way – fit into the book I was writing.

I have the worst case of ‘shiny object syndrome’. If I see it, I must write it down. It was actually annoying at the time because I had switched stories every week or so all of 2020 and promised myself to stick to just one for 2021. Then I got irritated at the one I was going to publish in Dec 2021. So I switched back to the one I mentioned above like in November? 

That pushed back my own personal goal/deadline I had set for the year. I just wanted to publish one book to prove I could do it. Then I went back and forth. But in December when I was struggling to find even ten minutes to write around my oldest daughter’s birthday and the holiday… Right after switching gears again…

BAM! New idea. 

And it was the middle of the night. Of course. I had been drinking. Kids were all asleep. So I started writing. To my brain, this was just going to be me jotting down ideas for a story that I could come back to when I finally published the book I was working on in Feb. That was my second personal deadline. Feb 1, 2022.

I started the idea. It was going to be about a young girl that had been enslaved but was finally done with life. She was going to get sick and decide that letting it kill her would be fine. There was an entire scene where she was questioning things like: Why does everyone tell you to fight to live another day, but then when someone dies, they say the person is in a better place? 

You know, that’s a very valid question!

Wouldn’t it make more sense then to just lay down and die and get to that better place? Why fight? Why try to live if you die and go on to better?

The story went on to have her actually have a death experience and find out about what really happened when she died, and she was told that she was needed in the real world. She had a destiny and had to fulfill it. She was revived and started her journey to save the planet. 

That was where drunk me went with it. But when you write drunk, you get drunk writing. It was awful. I stopped every twenty minutes or so to take a shot while writing, and it just got worse the further I went. Sober me read it and was like wow. Good job for the story idea, but bad execution.

 At least you could read it and remember/understand the concept.

So I began my rewrite the next week. I couldn’t get my head out of that story. I connected with Astrid. Then the suicidal thoughts didn’t mesh with what I was doing. I rewrote episodes 1-3 probably 5 times before the first week of Jan. Every time something new happened in one of the further episodes, I had to go back and change the first 3. It was not fun, and I needed to find an editor to start working with me on the book I needed to finish. 

I just could not get away from this new one. 

It was probably the second week of Jan. when I made up my mind about KV. I had been considering starting on Vella because I keep jumping ideas. You can see from all the extra stuff I’m sprinkling in here, I am easily sidetracked. It’s annoying. 

But it’s lively!

So I thought if I started publishing in pieces, I would not get to go like 28 pages into the story and then jump to another one.

It was a good idea. I have already wanted to go back to another project daily since mid-Feb. 

By the time I made up my mind to start the story on Vella, the suicide and afterlife part was completely written out. Notes for that story idea were moved to a new file for another time, and I had somehow added dragons to the story? Like what? 

I was determined to hit publish on Feb 1. So I forced myself to find a way to make it happen. I am still working every day to make it happen.

Why did you choose to use a series format? 

See above haha. I totally gave most of that away with the first answer. For a short response though: I did it to push myself to finish one of my WIPs.

I actually am not a fan of serial writing like Vella. I adore serialized stories when they are in book form and ALL of the stories are completed. I am a total binge reader. I will pick up a 10 book series and devour it in two weeks. I cannot help myself. I love stories. 

I do not like reading a portion of a story and then waiting to read more. It goes against my very nature. I understand there are people out there that do, and I’m so happy since I am now an author to a serialized story. I know a lot of other authors that write on Kindle Vella, and have read a bunch of them. There have been a couple I loved and didn’t want to put down… But uh. They aren’t finished and I am not a happy reader. I want the rest NOW! Lol. 

Writing episodes is hard. I don’t know how to hold back. Word count limits are devastating to me. I actually got stuck on episode 6 because I could not get it under 5k words. It took me 2 weeks and so many tears to finally get through that one. I was supposed to have at least 8 done and edited before I hit publish, but I was stuck on 6. I had 7 and 8 written, but it wasn’t working. I could not cut down 6. I needed all the words.

My amazing critique partner talked me down. I was on the edge of just dropping the entire story and curling into a ball to cry until death came to steal my final breath. 

Yes. I was that dramatic. 

She helped me calm down and figure out what was making my anxiety surface so hard. She helped me work my way through what was suffocating me. I cut the episode in half and found ways to make it less words by eliminating unnecessary descriptors. 

I made it over the first ‘I can’t do this’ hurdle. I am sure there will be more. That just makes having an amazing support system even more important. 

Anyway, If I hadn’t forced myself to step out of my comfort zone, and  hadn’t started my first story in a way that would hold me accountable AS I write it, instead of having to complete the entire thing… Well, I wouldn’t have a story out there now. 

Even a partial one. 

I’d still be staring at my 30 story files. Starting new ones. (I’m still doing that anyway). Wanting to share my ideas, and failing miserably.

I guess in a way, Kindle Vella chose me. I saw so many people using it to get started. I was interested in the concept. I read stories on there to test the platform and see how it worked. I researched by reading. 

Now that would have been a good idea, read some and testing it before diving in. I should have tried that…

Honestly, the amount of story dumps from unedited first drafts that I came across made me cringe a bit. It made me rethink ever publishing on Vella. I don’t want to publish unpolished words. Mistakes happen, but at least clean it up. Right? But then I found a few that were really good. Well edited. Written with intent.

That was a big part of what pushed me to it. When I realized it wasn’t just a way to dump word vomit. Vella showed me that it could be a safe place to start my career as a writer, so I kept my deadline.

I didn’t publish a full novel. I didn’t have a complete idea. I didn’t even know there was going to be romance in the story until like the third rewrite of the first 3 episodes. 

All I knew when I made the decision was that I wanted to become an author. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a teenager. I’ve been writing stories since the fourth grade. I decided this year was going to be the year I finally put myself out there. 

So I found a way.

Good for you. I love the accountability AND the flexibility of Vella. It’s cool. But, like you I am a binge reader and I struggle to keep my word counts down. I’ve noticed mine creeping up, so I am truly focusing on that as much as the story arc for my next few episodes. It’s hard.

I so relate to this:

What is your greatest challenge in writing? 

How many mom writers are you interviewing? Because I know you know the answer to this: kids. The answer is always going to be kids.

To be fair, my husband and dogs interrupt me just as much as the four kids. But yes. All the yes.

Especially for someone like me that has 6 kids all the time. I homeschool them all. Then we have an extra, bonus kid that we get every now and then. She lives with her mother.

Kids is the short answer. They cause disturbances while I’m trying to write. Kids need attention. They need food, so I have to shop; they need it to be healthy sometimes, so I have to cook. My house… Oh my poor house. Kids are like tiny natural disasters that woke up on the wrong side of the bed inside your home and decided to demolish all the things. Because of that, I have to clean. A lot. All the cleaning. Children need to be taught things. They need rides to places. Don’t forget all the holidays they want to celebrate, and their birthdays. Oh yeah, they each get their own one of those. Then you have to make sure you spend some quality time with them; attempt to get in some one on one time. Plus you have to remind them about EVERYTHING. All the things. Each and every thing they need to do or say. The list can go on. Here is a starter: brush your teeth, take a bath, go to bed, mind your manners, say thanks, don’t lick that door handle, stop not touching your sister, don’t tell people personal things about your sister, we don’t eat things off the ground at the park, yes it is a ground not a floor, don’t grab the dog’s tail, pick up your coat, pick up your shoes, put away your toys, clean up your room, do your chores, don’t scream at the neighbors cat for not letting you pet him, and all the rest of the things. When you don’t tell them what to do or say, they run in the room you are in, even if you are relieving yourself in the bathroom, and they ask you what to say or do. Oh, and if you have multiple kids, they like to irritate each other and argue. All. The. Time. Someone should warn people.

The other challenge I have is caused basically by having kids, but it is really a me thing sometimes. Time. There are not enough hours in the day to write (I actually have a story idea that came from this thought about 4 weeks ago that I started jotting down the idea for but can’t touch yet because I am not where I need to be with Reigning Embers). Time is a huge challenge. 

As I said, that is partially because most of my time goes to my kids. When I finally get some quiet time, even if I have been dying to write all day, it doesn’t happen. I have to let the quiet sink in. I have to read. Watch TV. Eat a snack I won’t have to share. Play with my pets. It is also the best time to work on cleaning as I don’t have to go around them and mess things up after I clean them. 

Part of the reason why Vella works so well for me right now is because I needed that push to finish. Knowing that people have seen my story and having some readers reach out wanting more of it is like this giant motivation banquet. Fuel to keep going. Because with so little time to write, I find it difficult to finish any one story.

When I start writing, I have like an entire book in my head. I need to just put it all down, but I only have a few minutes here and there. If I have sixteen chapters I need to pump out, but then like 500 words in, something happens and I have to get up, I lose it. Once it is gone, I want to move to the next story. I get frustrated and just jump.

With Vella, I can make sure I will have time to at least do a rough draft of one episode, and just concentrate on that. Where does this one begin and end? Write it. If I still have time, go ahead and start the next one. If I only have a little time, go back and edit one that has been done for a bit. 

It works so well because each episode has to be its own thing. I have never had any luck with editing per chapter in a novel. If I do that then I just stay on that one chapter and rewrite it for months. There is no ‘perfect’ when it comes to writing and that bothers me.

That is part of the challenge. But it is also part of the solution. Publishing the one I’m on and having to move forward is what I needed to get past those mental blocks telling me my writing isn’t good enough. It’s out there now, might as well keep going.

What surprised you in the writing process? 

The most surprising thing so far was when I found out I am a ‘pantser’. I still find the term hilarious. Writing stories by the seat of your pants. 

Weird. But alright.

I had never heard this term until Vella discussion groups. It was probably out there, I just hadn’t heard it.

I thought I was just a strange person. My writing style is sporadic and my ‘voice’ changes depending on the type of writing I am doing. Mostly.

So basically, I get an idea, I may jot down a few paragraphs of what I want to write about, but I do not outline. Ever. Sometimes I just keep going back to the original ideas that I tossed out and make different stories based on that original idea. It actually happens way more than you would imagine it could.

Ideas can be twisted in so many ways. If my responses haven’t given you any idea of how my brain works, I’ll try to explain a bit. I can actually take one idea, write it into story form, realize there are two different story lines, and go back to separate the one story into two. Two very different stories.

I guess that’s just how my brain works.

So, like in school, when they assigned essays, this is how I wrote them:

For research papers: I did research and took great notes. I had one page for quotes I wanted to incorporate into the essay. I had notes written in chronological order from different sources all numbered to match the works cited page (that I made BEFORE reading any of the material). Once I had the information in front of me, I would write my essay. The final draft. I stopped to add the quotes, and check my information once in a while. 

All other essays: I sat down, wrote my final essay. It was a slow and neat process making sure that I did it right the first time.

Once I had the final written, if it was on a computer, I would save it as the final essay. Then I would go back and add a few mistakes and save it as the rough draft. Then I would go through the rough draft file and erase the body paragraph sentences save the first one. I would add a couple of supporting ideas under it. Deleted the intro and conclusion and just left the thesis for intro and rewrite of thesis for conclusion. That was my outline. If it was a paper essay, I would just make sure it was written neat the first time I wrote it. Then I’d rewrite it sloppy with purposeful mistakes. Then I’d just jot down a crappy outline.

Every time I’ve tried to write an outline for anything, even essays, what I write always comes out wrong. Then I just go back and change it all and have to redo the outline.

When I started writing stories again, I tried outlining. Everyone told me that was the way to go. “You have to plan your story so you know where it is going.” 

Unfortunately no. That is not how outlines go for me. Instead, I just rewrite the outline until I can’t see straight.

Then I found out later that a LOT of authors do this same thing. They get an idea and run with it. It works for them. Sometimes you have to go back and find your character’s-mother’s-brother’s-wifes name because you wrote it in chapter 2 and are on 13. So yeah there is that. But it works for me. 

Surprise, just like everything in writing, it’s not original either. Lots of people write like this. It even has a term. Haha. 

See, I’m a weird mix, I sometimes have a rough outline and sometimes I’m just along for the ride. Longer WIP’s tend to have an adjoining file with names of people and places and random details I don’t want to lose. 

Is there something in particular, that you found particularly helpful?

Is it wrong to say that the thing I found most helpful has been my support system? If so, ignore this long drawn out answer that you should already expect from me now that you have seen how much I toss out there. If not, here comes the long answer haha.

Pretty sure there isn’t a wrong answer here.

I don’t use any tools other than open office to write in. I don’t use notebooks to hand write. I don’t use planner apps, though I downloaded a few and played with them. Not my cup of tea. I sometimes listen to music to help set the mood of the scene I’m working on, but not a specific genre or song. It is whatever the mood the scene needs to be in. I am actually making youtube videos for moods.

As I said before, I don’t do outlines so none of the planners would work for me. I would just keep planning and changing and planning and never doing anything. 

So far in my writing journey, my support system has been the biggest thing for me. My ex’s and other people that have come and gone in my life never supported me as a writer. I had so many people talk down on my choice in major in college. It didn’t matter that I was a single mother working my way through college after dropping out of high school before becoming a teen mom. Like my  struggle to get there didn’t mean I could go to college for what I wanted.

So. Very. Many. Nay-sayers.

Seriously, you would be surprised at the amount of people that told me I was wasting my time. Constantly. Family and friends that told me sitting around making up stories was ignorant. That I could do better. Be better.

The man I am with now has been so supportive. It’s funny because we don’t get along. We aren’t the best couple. We had 3 kids each when we got together and made one together. I was at one point very supportive with his goals and dreams until things started changing between us. Now, even with everything we’ve struggled through together and his goals being a nuisance to me, he still supports my writing. Even on days when I am being a total… You know. I’m trying to stay clean for this, but I’m sure you can guess where I was going.

I am constantly asked how my writing is going. It would be nice if he would just help a bit more with keeping the kids off my back some days. But honestly, they outnumber us.

He’s the first person in my life that stepped in and was like, do it. I know you can. Even if you don’t become rich and famous, you are happier when you make time to write. So go do it.

We’ve been together almost 6 years and have taken turns having jobs and being the one to deal with the kids. 2020 he got a really good job making twice what I had been making. He actually is probably making more than we made together when we both had jobs at the same time. That was when I finally had the chance to stop trying to put all my energy into the kids and hustling to make extra money. We were doing alright. Not great, but better than we had been.  

He told me to start writing full time. When the pandemic hit, the kids didn’t go to school, and that stopped me from being able to write full time. That caused a lot of issues with me setting and reaching goals/deadlines. 

But, he told me to do it anyway. Find a way. Make it happen.

He has been a cheerleader for my writing journey since before we actually got together and blended our families. Because of him pushing me to do what I love, I found my people.

I met a local author and got some tips and information from her. I reached out to a few authors from books I’ve read and enjoyed. Then I joined self-pub FB groups and started following indie published authors on youtube. I did so much research on how to self publish. I met so many authors online.

I have to tell you, and it is something I tell everyone, authors are the most supportive people alive. 

I left 98% of the groups I joined after a time. I am currently still in two of them and will never leave. These are my people, even if I am an introvert and rarely speak. Just having those groups as inspiration, and having a place to go if I need a pick me up. It keeps me going.

Since I started publishing, I have joined a couple of discord groups, started and joined some FB group chats, started a Kindle Vella group for moms, and joined a few KV specific groups.

Those are my tools. That is what helps me. Having other people that get me, or that have the same questions as me. 

I even try to uplift and motivate others in the groups. It was outside of my comfort zone at first, but now I can do it. Just like stepping out onto social medias other than Facebook. It was hard to get out there. Like hitting the ‘publish’ button on KDP for KV. 

Scary for someone like me.

Even like putting myself out there today. I want to delete all of this and hide from my computer. I am so anxious. 

This is amazing!

But I have the most AMAZING support system. One of my fellow authors has become my critique partner. She is like a second best friend now, and I’ve known her less than what.. 3 months? We talk daily. Sometimes I forget we haven’t been talking for years and say something. She is like wait, what? Oh you don’t know about what happened at Thanksgiving last year? Oh. That’s right, we didn’t talk then.

She is my sounding board. She bounces ideas off me. We share stories. We share story ideas. Both of us have different things we are good at and have actually discussed opening an editing business together. I’ve known her online for a very short time and I already trust her with my work. I feel comfortable sharing things that are in the very rough stages with her. She supports me in every way.

My best friend decided to start writing again. I didn’t even know she was into it and now I am helping her edit her first book! I am so excited. She was one of the first people to support my dream of writing. We met at work the year I graduated college and stepped away from writing.

Now we are writing together and helping each other with our stories.

My closest male friend, someone that I have known for what seems to be my entire life, has been supporting me since before I even got accepted into college I believe. We met online in Yahoo chats, when that was still a thing. We messed with people in chat rooms for a long time.

I’ve been sending him stories and stuff since then. He has been begging me to finish a story I started for a contest back in 2011? Maybe 2012. I’m not sure.

He checks on me regularly to make sure I have been putting in time to write. He asks me if I need someone to talk to. We don’t even live in the same country! He can’t read my Vella once it is published because it’s not available where he lives. But he is one of my beta readers.

For all of my stories.

One of the other author moms made my cover and the two ads pictures I have to use for Reigning Embers. She even helped toss out ideas and be my sounding board for the title. Another one basically wrote the blurb for my story. Without her it would have been blank because I was frustrated with not knowing what to write.

Without the support system I have, Reigning Embers would just be a random file saved on my computer, external hard drive, and flash drives. Just like all the stories I’ve written over the years with little to no support behind what I’ve done.

I know we tend to write what we know, but did you need to do research for this book? Yes. I research words I want to use to make sure they are being used correctly. If you count reading a million fantasy books as research, I did that ha! I had to look up the latin word for safety to use as the name for my ‘big city’ once I decided I am going to put names on the cities and build a map.

I researched serialized writing. 

There is no end to learning. Ever. I tell my kids that all the time. So I research daily for random things. I couldn’t even list all what I needed to look up just for this story alone.

And more

What else can you describe in your writing process? 

Well, I am a trained reporter. I got my AA in Journalism back in 2013. It was the only way I could find to get a degree in writing. I was amazed that writing news stories for my college paper was a piece of cake. A lot of the other students had issues with grammar and staying unbiased.

I was able to stick to the story information and keep it on topic. I guess if I have a specific thing to say with exact goals of how to say it, my writing can be clean and concise.

I didn’t realize that was the reason I’d always been able to write essays without any huge mistakes or redundancies. Being able to share information I learned or found out was simple. It made writing classes a breeze for me. 

Story writing is different. Narrative writing is harder for me. Like answering these questions. It’s not just having an exact goal with what I need to share.

Answering these questions can be about anything. I could choose to tell you whatever I want about my writing. The questions are pretty open ended and vague. I can take the answers wherever.

Just like when it comes to writing a story.

When I write a story, I can go any direction. My mood can influence how I write, what the character reactions will be, and which story I feel like working on. 

For me, writing a story is like the saying ‘grabbing a bull by the horns’. I know what I’m about to do. I know the direction I want it to go. I hope nobody gets hurt in the process. Then I dive in and wish for the best.

Sometimes it goes well; sometimes it gets messy. It’s always an adventure.

The process is longer. I want to write it way more than the essays/news. It is like the characters are speaking to me and I need to tell their story. I need to just throw it all out there. 

The first draft of a book/story is not all perfect grammar and the way I want to present it like when I was doing assignments in school at all. It is word vomit. I type whatever is in my brain, sometimes my hands move slower than my brain and I have to back up. There is always something extra. 

I have to search for ‘crutch’ words so much. They are never the same. I am probably over-using most of them right now. Here is a short list of words I overuse while writing stories: and, have, had, that, really, even, just, and the. 

When I do a search for those words and erase most of them, I usually drop about 250 or more words from my word count.

I also forget to contract words. So when I’m writing, for some reason, I don’t believe in an apostrophe. 

I can check word count, then go through and contract these types of things: I am, they have, they had, I had, she had, she would, I would, do not, will not, would not, can not, let us, it is, and so many others. Once I do that my word count usually drops about 200 words. 

I’ve learned that my word count will usually drop, even on episodes that I add full scenes to. 

I should remember to check for my crutch words on my lengthy vellas. Well, all of my writing, really. 

How do you know your piece is ready to be shared/complete? I don’t know how to answer this. I never feel like anything I do is ready for the public.

Who is your expected audience? I am not sure? I guess fantasy readers that don’t mind a romantic subplot. I do cuss some in it and there will be hints of sex/fade to black scenes, but nothing too  heavy. 

If you could have any author (alive, dead, or fictional) read your book, who would you like to read it? The idea of other authors reading my work makes me sick to my stomach. I am my own worst critic. I always find flaws in what I do when I am writing. 

Seriously, if I was to go back and read my responses to these questions, I would edit them until the end of time.

So, I guess I would say that the only author(s) I want to really read my story would be any that are my friend. Like not just friends on facebook. I mean the authors that I actually talk to. The ones that I feel comfortable enough with to tell them I am on the toilet so I can’t pull up what I wrote earlier.

One of the authors I really enjoy talking to is a best seller. I was nervous sending my story to her, and have actually been really glad she’s been too busy to read it. 

What author, or book, or series most influenced you

Is this a trick question? Do authors have like ‘one’ specific author/book that influences them? Is that a thing?

Lol. I hate this question in job interviews just as much as ‘what is your favorite book?’ Like, right now? Tonight? Or, when I was 5? 

I read across all genres. I love most stories. I even read non-fiction. My critique partner writes fanfic, which I don’t really even read. But now I read it regularly to help her with sentence development or whatever. 

How about this. I will give you the best answer I can, and I will attempt to make it short.

When I was in elementary I read everything. I started with Henry and Mudge, Frog and Toad and Amelia Bedilia. One of my earliest favorite chapter books is Snot Stew, if you don’t know what it is, please go check it out. As I got bigger, my reads got longer.  My favorites in 5th and 6th grade were Animorphs and Goosebumps. 

My love of reading novels began in 7th grade. I picked up this amazing book that seemed longer than any I had read before. I read it over and over before the due date. After that I started grabbing longer and longer books every time I went to the library. 

I have a story about the book actually. It is called Song of Fire. Which apparently is almost the name of the books that GoT was based off. Years later when I wanted to share that book with a friend I could not find it. At all. I could not remember the author.

Everyone asked me if I was sure about the title. I called the middle school library. They no longer had that title and the librarian didn’t remember the author either. When I had access to Google finally (that sounds weird with me using google docs now and internet being on every device ever), I searched for it with as much as I could remember about it.

It took me YEARS to find that book. I bought it the moment I found it. I read it. My kids read it. And to this day, it is probably one of the reasons I wanted to become an author. Not the only one. 

I wrote stories for years before reading that book. I didn’t decide I wanted to write novels for real until I was 16. But I thought about this book all the time for years. It stuck with me. I have many books like that now. But this one really just made me love reading long stories.

The name of the book again: Song of Fire. The author: Joseph Bentz. 

Look it up. Read it. It is amazing.

Other influences I will just list, I will also be making regular posts on Facebook for books I own soon, so that is a thing that I will talk about below. 

Authors that made an impact on me include but are not limited to: Nora Roberts, Luanne Rice (NOT Anne Rice, she just is not someone I follow), Jonathan Kellerman and his wife, Stephen King, R.L. Stine, Patricia Cornwell, Anne McCaffrey, Jeff Wheeler, Ava Richardson, and Jim Butcher. I would like to add that Patrick Rothfus WOULD be on that list, but I am still mad at him for not finishing the Kingkiller Chronicle. So nope. I won’t mention him… Other than just now.

Some books that I read in school, required, that influenced me(that I own now and made my kids read): The Outsiders, The Giver, Bridge to Terabithia, Holes, A Wrinkle in Time, Tuck Everlasting, Where the Red Fern Grows, Charlotte’s Web, Pride and Prejudice, My Side of the Mountain, and Indian in the Cupboard.


Other random things to know

I hate being on camera. Like at all. There are very few photos of me in existence, but I will video chat with my closest friends that do not live in the same state/country. Seriously, I don’t even have pictures with my kids. 

I have 7 kids in total. 8 if you count my ex’s son that I never met in person but used to video chat when he still talked to me. 9 if you count my bonus kids brother. I will break it down. I have 3 bio kids from previous relationships. 16, 12 and 8. My partner had 3 from his previous relationships. 16, 14 and 11. We have a 5 year old together. All girls except my oldest bio kid. The 11 YO girl is part time as she lives with her mother. Her older brother is my son’s age and one of his friends. I try to get him birthday presents and always send something home to him for the holidays, and he’s stayed with us a few times. 11 YO also has two younger sisters that her mom adopted. They are technically cousins, but I don’t care. I see them as sisters. I knew their mom and saw them as babies, but have only seen them maybe twice since her mom adopted them. I also send them home little treat bags and stuff for holidays if we get to spend the holiday with the bonus kid. I always have the other 6 with me. That is the 16 YO boy, and the girls: 16, 14, 12, 8 and 5. My family is blended and confusing. My 8 YO has an older brother that lives in California, I am still in touch with his mom. He came down recently to Texas for the first time that I know of. Ok, I’m done trying to explain my kid situation. I’m outnumbered. That is all you really need to know.

Oh, I have really long hair. Like when I straighten it, I can sit on it. 

I hate girly crap, but I am all woman. So like, I have never worn makeup other than to dress up for Halloween. I don’t wear dresses, though it gets hot enough in the summer, if I was like a hundred pounds lighter, I might wear sundresses in the summer to stay cool. I don’t ‘do’ my hair. It stays in a bun on the back of my head. Even though I dislike a lot of things other girls enjoy, I only like men. I don’t want to be a man. I have never wanted to be a guy, even though I have been a tom boy since I was a kid.

I dislike pink and red. My favorite colors are all shades of blue, black, some shades of green, orange(rustic orange especially), and silver.

I have a dog, 3 adult sugar gliders, and baby shuggies.

I’m overweight. I seriously want to get back to my normal weight, or at least back down to a manageable weight, but I have no time to work on myself. Loop back up to me always being needed by others. Kids. I’m the only driver in my home and two of my kids plus my partner all work outside the house. We have one vehicle. Most of my time is spent in my van taking everyone where they need to be.

I really like to hike and I am hoping that I will get to do that more once I get caught up on my writing stuff and it warms up some. I love swimming. Waiting on the pool to open up!

My mother and brother have a form of muscular dystrophy called Charco Marie Tooth. I was never tested, but have all of the symptoms. Tests are thousands of dollars, so I can’t afford to prove I have it, but I know. It is actually pretty sucky, but it goes well with my other issues. I have scoliosis(my case is pretty bad, I have an S curve which has me almost hunched), sciatica, drop foot, severe depression/anxiety, panic attacks, and really bad eyes(though I refuse to wear my glasses). I know that all sounds depressing or whatever, but it is just a part of me. I will avoid adding any of the other things that sound bad though. Sorry.

I’m really into photography and I love to draw. One of my kids is an up and coming artist. I’ll add the FB page that I share my kids art work on with the other links in case anyone wants to look at that. Oh yeah! I also kind of love to cook. If I am in the mood. I love fresh foods and exploring ideas from things I find online. I do not like to follow recipes. I will look some up as a starting point and then go wild with my own ingredients (probably why I don’t really like to bake cakes and stuff unless it is out of the box – I even add stuff to those. I hate following directions).

What else is important to share about your book? 

With the way things are going, and all of the ideas I am working on, it is probably going to have over 200 episodes. It started as a novella idea, but once I added the romance, decided to start it on Vella, and pirates became a thing… Well that is when I realized it was going to be long. I’m not mad though, after a bit of research, that is totally normal for serialized stories.

I also found out that once you complete a story on KV, you can then publish it to Amazon as a book 30 days later. I keep getting asked if I am going to jump on that band wagon, and the answer to that is: I have no clue. If I do that, I will have to break it into multiple books and make it a book series. 200 or so episodes of 2k + words is going to be way too long to make into one book. We will see about the possibility of maybe making it into a book series and box set/omnibus later.

I am actually running with this story though. I am currently working on multiple things to go with it. I am writing about the main characters’ childhood in a spin off novella. It will be from her sister’s perspective from when they are little kids until the time they finally get reunited. Just a short story to give some background and to follow her sister’s point of view. I decided to do that because her sister will be a big part of the series.

I am also working on writing one of the books I talk about in the library at the guest house. It is a history book written by the king’s ancestors. I’m going to put it in PDF format with pictures and even create a worn front and back for it. That will be the story I use to start my newsletters. So it will be a while before I get that going.

That’s a cool idea!

Another thing I will be doing for this story is creating maps. I have plans I can’t really go into now without spoiling episodes that won’t come out for months. But I will be making a map of the area I am writing about now, and I’m hoping to eventually create a globe as part of my merch from this story. 

The idea wasn’t the story I’m making now. It started out as a short story idea. Now I am working on multiple things to take it all the way and create an entire world.

We want more!

When can we expect more from you?

I don’t have a timeline for when I will be able to get other things out. I have so many other projects I am working on, but nothing in the final stages yet. 

I started out posting every three days on Kindle Vella, but then I got behind on edits. So I started posting the day before they were supposed to come out. Amazon advises it can take up to 72 hours to post once we hit publish. For the first few episodes, they were posting an hour or so after I hit publish. Then I had 5 of them scheduled to post on the correct days. Those came out on time. Episode 11 was supposed to come out on Feb 28, 2022, but I had to take my son to get braces. That was a 6 hour round trip. I posted it really late, thought it would come out March 1st… and then they got slower.

Because of the issues with posting this way, I am going to attempt to get ahead again by at least 4 or 5 episodes and have them set up early so they will release on time. I’m not as concerned right now with being a little late because my readers are my family and my partner’s coworkers. I don’t want to have issues being on time in the future, so I am trying to correct that now.

My goal is to usually have 2+ episodes submitted and scheduled because life happens. I have varying levels of success though. 

Where can we find your book?

 It’s available on Amazon Kindle Vella. Here is the direct link:

Where can we find you?

I’m on Facebook, have been forever. I’m trying to learn Twitter and Insta still, but I am posting there as regularly as possible. I am also BRAND NEW, like fresh out of the box on TikTok now. I have made one video. I am not getting on camera. My TikTok will probably be mostly videos of my animals. I am working on some colorful pictures to put on a slideshow type ad for my story. I talked to a few authors and asked to use their thumbnail to add to the ad I’m working on. I want to promote Vella as a platform, not just my story. The links below will take you where you need to go to reach me.


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