Thursday, June 25, 2015

Interview Time with Laurel Wanrow

Today we have one of my fellow Maryland Romance Writers, Laurel Wanrow! Her debut novel, The Unraveling, is out now!

Hi, Laurel! Congrats on your book birthday! Tell everyone about yourself.

I’ve always loved nature. Since my dad was a naturalist working for the National Park Service, I had lots of early exposure to outdoor recreation through volunteering at the parks, so that’s what I went into to. I met my husband in an astronomy club. He’s a geologist, so we share the same love of the outdoors. I worked at a variety of parks until well after I had kids. When they were small, I wrote a story about a kid avoiding poison ivy at summer camp, but put it aside when our basement flooded. I pulled it out while homeschooling my youngest, finished it and went on to write a novel, then several more… Clearly, I love writing. *Grins* We are still very much an outdoor family: hiking, camping, fossil hunting, gardening…

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about being a writer?

I love creating the worlds and figuring out my characters’ lives and problems, and of course the magic. The magic is really my favorite. For least favorite…things that take me away from writing, like the paperwork and scheduling.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other writers?

Persevere. Early in my writing journey I heard Jo Ann Ferguson give a keynote speech during a Beau Monde mini-conference in San Francisco. Her quote from Galaxy Quest really has motivated me: ‘Never give up. Never surrender.’

That is a great quote. When you're writing, do you prefer silence or to have music on?

I’m a silence person, but my husband loves public radio with classical music. It is so much a part of our household, I often forget it’s on until the hourly newsbreaks.

How’d you get the idea for The Unraveling?

A dream, but also I’d recently read Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series and Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices series. So while working out what that girl in the dream was doing on a farm, I knew I had to make her story a steampunk. Because I’d not read any steampunk stories with rural settings, I could make all the ideas for the machinery my own!

Awesome! Steampunk fascinates me--you must have to have a good imagination to write it. And will The Unraveling be part of a series?

The Unraveling is actually part of a serialized novel—the complete story is called The Luminated Threads. It’s told in three parts, following the same characters, a proper city artist and the shapeshifter she comes to love, and the agricultural magnate who is determined to recruit them into his plans.

So there's lots more to look forward to! Yay! What are you working on right now?

Look at this gorgeous cover!
I’m finalizing the edits for The Twisting, Volume Two of The Luminated Threads. It releases this fall. For a short break at the start of June, I took a Master Plotting class taught by Cherry Adair and spent a weekend working on the outline of two stories in a futuristic duet…also with shapeshifters. J

What genres do you write in? What have your experiences been like? If you write in multiple genres, how is the experience different from one to another?

I write fantasy, but it never seems to be pure fantasy, the kind with a hero on a quest, running into elves, or trolls, rescuing a princess… My settings have that thread of magic, but also one of reality. I’ve used contemporary settings, some futuristic and this set of novels takes place in the past. Since my worlds aren’t completely made up, I always end up researching something. Luckily, I do love learning new things.

The Unraveling started out in a made-up land, but I so wanted the atmosphere to be the Victorian period. It came out English enough a plotting partner said it confused her it wasn’t the UK. With the help of a British friend, I selected Derby. I wrote happily away, looking up historical dress and food and transportation and…let’s be honest: I had to research a lot. The final things to trip me up were simple exclamations! Here’s one: Shoot. Sounds like something a lady might say instead of a real curse, right? Not until 1934. On the flip side, the expression bloody hell is very English and from the correct time period, yet it was considered a terribly extreme expression. So I used it once.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Ah, I don’t want to spoil anything, but this is a fun question! Annmar, the heroine, arrives at her last train station and runs into a bit of trouble with the stationmaster. She’s used to handling difficult clients and remains polite, yet she’s come all this way and doesn’t want to miss her connection. After a drawn-out series of questions that are getting her no closer to having a ticket in hand, it finally becomes clear the elderly man wants to ask a favor of her, a visiting artist, and she has to offer her services.

What scene gave you the most trouble?

Ohmygosh—the first scene! Always the first scene. I must write it a dozen times. I do write it almost first, and that seems to be my problem: I want to tell so many things, too many details, too many new terms. For The Unraveling, I originally had Annmar winding her way through Derby, including waiting for a steam trolley to pass. Then the mechanical feature became a walking carriage that she stops to draw. Finally, I just got her to the steam factory…and new readers complained there wasn’t enough setting. I believe the final-final opening scene has a good mix of setting, machines and Annmar’s dilemma.

Where can we find you on the interwebs?

 (Also gets there with just  )

To be notified of new releases sign up for Laurel's Newsletter

 (actual link is:  )

Author Facebook Page: Facebook :

Where can we find your books?

The Unraveling will be on sale for .99 through June 30th, at:

And the trade paperback, 360 pages, is available at Createspace (link still needed but definitely should have in a week!)

 Laurel Wanrow loves misty mornings, the smell of freshly dug earth, petting long-haired guinea pigs and staring at the stars. She sees magic in nature and loves to photograph it.

Before kids, she studied and worked as a naturalist—someone who leads wildflower and other nature walks. During a stint of homeschooling, she turned her writing skills to fiction to share her love of the land, magical characters and fantastical settings.

When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. Though they live on the East Coast, a cherished family cabin in the Colorado Rockies holds Laurel’s heart.

Visit her online at

Thank you so much for stopping by, Laurel! 

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Interview Time with Killian McRae

Hey, everyone! I had the privilege of interviewing another great author--today we have Killian McRae!  


Hello, my dear! We've known each other for a few years now, but please tell these lovely readers about yourself.

5’6”. Scorpio. I’m that eclectic/artsy/poetry-loving girl you knew in high school. 
:-) Now I write books.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about being a writer?

It’s the same thing on both sides: inspiration. It’s such a feast-or-famine creature. Either your well is completely dry and everything seems impossible, or your well runneth over and you start having to make personal hygiene-choices in lieu of finding time to write them down.

I can completely identify with that--it's very all or nothing, and when it's "all", the yoga pants go on for days at a time. 

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other writers?

Forgive yourself. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to piss some people off. You’re going to have become a ninja in the art of no. Like the pursuit of any dream, you’re going to have to pay your dues and you’re going to have to make tough choices and sacrifices to feed your art. There will be guilt, both coming from outside sources, and from within. If this is something you’re dedicated to doing, learn to forgive where you fail to please everyone and, most importantly, where you fail to please yourself.

That's great advice! So many people beat themselves up over failures, but failure in anything is inevitable and always passes.  

When you're writing, do you prefer silence or to have music on? What kind?

I prefer to have on music, but if there’s singing involved, it has to be in a language I can’t understand. Otherwise my concentration gets syphons away by the lyrics. I have different genre preferences based on what genre I’m writing. Contemporary romance = jazz. Science Fiction or fantasy = new age or world music (Yasmin Levy is a favorite the last few years). Historical=baroque.  

You're very much setting the mood in your stories with your music--that makes sense!

A Love by any Measure's gorgeous
new cover!
I love reading historical fiction and thoroughly enjoyed A Love by Any Measure. How difficult was it to write in order to capture Ireland and the feel for the time period?

Dialog was the most challenging. I reread some fiction of that period (Tennant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte; A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens) to remind myself of the rhythms of speech in those times. Capturing Ireland, which I’ve been told by natives, was a fluke. I had never been there when I wrote ALBAM, and still haven’t been (other than the Dublin airport for about two hours). I’m lucky that I grew up in an area that was settled by many Irish immigrants, partially because its topography and climate is similar. When I was writing of Ireland, I was thinking of home.

How’d you get the idea for your Pure Souls series?

Honestly, it all exploded into being from that very first line: A witch, a priest and a demigod walk into a bar. I had aspects of Marc in my head for some time. A wiccan catholic priest who fights against demons with magic and is a smart ass to boot? Who wouldn’t want to write about that?

Very true! And will there be more coming along for the Pure Souls series…inquiring minds want to know! 

There are at least two more installments coming in the series, but I don’t know in what order. It depends how much writing I get done this summer. :-) One will be out for Christmas, though. It’s actually a prequel novella about Jerry and Riona’s relationship the first time around, when Jerry was sent by Lucifer to be a spy and Riona had no idea of her destiny to be a Pure Soul. The other book, The Devil You Know, will finish off the series, and is more focused on Marc.

Sweet! I know the readers will be excited. What are you working on right now?

Time hasn’t changed me. I’m still a gal that likes to have a few projects up and running at once. I’m mostly finished now with The Guardian, which is a sequel to my first book ever, 12.21.12: The Vessel. I’m also working on the Jerry-Riona novella and another project I’m not yet ready to discuss in public, but fans of the Pure Souls will probably like it.

You write in a few different genres. What have your experiences been like writing in such a variety?  How is the experience different from one to another?

I’ve always had an eclectic personality, and this shakes out in my writing too. I’m naturally a smart ass, and I really get to draw on that when writing books like those in the Pure Souls series. But I’m also a huge fan of history and speculation, so when I approach historicals and SFF, my voice becomes much more serious. Romance is the hardest for me, as I’m not a big believer in love, but still long for it, in a stupid, womany way.

What was your favorite scene to write in any of your books?

The Thanksgiving scene in Once You Go Demon, because it was just so rife with humor. Half the people at the table were drunk, half of the people at the table had a deep dark secret ready to be exposed, and it was just a ticking time bomb of awkwardness and revelations with a comedic twist.

Those kinds of scenes are always fun to write! On the other hand, what scene gave you the most trouble?

Snapped included several scenes that left me emotionally drained, but I guess that’s to be expected in a book where the hero and heroine both were sexually abused as minors.

That must have been very difficult to channel.

Where can we find you on the interwebs? 

 I’m mainly found at my website, but I’m also pretty active on Facebook (, Twitter (, and Instagram ( I don’t use Goodreads too much as an author, but I do use it as a reader. You can find my reader profile here: If you’re into audiobooks, check out my audiobooks review podcast, Audific:

Where can we find your books? 

The availability of my titles varies across sites, but you can find me on:

Yay! Thank you for letting me interview you, Killian! 

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Awesome Writing in Media, Pt.6: Mad Max: Fury Road

No, I haven't lost my mind, and I haven't been abducted by pod people. A Tomatometer score of freaking 98% fresh can't be wrong. Just trust me on this.

So, full disclosure, I haven't seen any of the previous Mad Max films. I've heard that they're good; hubs has seen them and enjoyed them, but I never had the chance to. Nothing against the movies--it's one of those things where the occasion to watch one never really came up (or there was something else I'd rather watch on). But I love a good action movie as my lucky husband can attest, though, to be fair, I'm game to watch pretty much anything. It's him who doesn't want to watch Sharknado...

The previews for Mad Max: Fury Road all looked as good as any summer popcorn blockbuster could--explosions, ridiculous vehicles, vibrant settings, lots of intense staring. Hubs and I agreed that it was one of the ones we'd see this summer (besides any Marvel outputs) that was an absolute must to view on the big screen.

Sorry, Pitch Perfect'll have to wait for Netflix.

Hey, stop throwing fruit--I loved Pitch Perfect (the first one), but you really can't argue that it's a must-see for a giant screen. It comes across as good on our television as in the theater. I'll see the second one, don't worry...keep your shorts on.

Anyway, a quick scan of the Internet with the husband's help caught me up on the Mad Max mythology, though it must be said (by me here, and by many others on the web) that you don't need to know much at all, if anything, about the previous movies and the timeline. Fury Road stands on its own, no Googling required, and isn't hard to follow.

In my effort to keep the majority of the posts under the Awesome Writing in Media tag spoiler-free, I do want to concentrate on why I chose this movie to appear in the series.

The writing (Fury Road was directed, produced, and co-written by the creator of the whole damn thing, George Miller), is a prime example of what editors (and writers) always tell you is best: showing, not telling. The dialogue is minimal--there are grunts and noises and spoken words, but actual conversations between characters is rare. Instead, we're treated to a talented group of expressive actors (and let's not forget the stunt people) showing us what is going on.

And show they do.

We don't hear Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa telling us that she's devastated about a new piece of information she's learned (sorry, I did promise no spoilers); instead we see her fall to her knees, face and body racked with emotion.

We don't hear Imperator Furiosa say what she intends to do, or why she's gone off track with her war rig; instead the reason is told to the audience through exposition.

We don't hear the reason Mad Max is, well, mad; instead we see the horrifying images that haunt him through violent, detailed flashes.

Mad Max: Fury Road is the best example I've seen in a long time of minimalism, at least in actual dialogue and writing. Now, that's not to say that there's no plot; that couldn't be further from the truth. The plot is heavy and driving, very like one of the intimidating vehicles seen on screen. The whole thing is a spectacle, and one of the most satisfying movies I've watched in a while.

It's a testament to George Miller's skill and vision that this movie (which, from what I understand, had quite a few bumps along the way to getting made) is as amazing as it is.

Have you seen Mad Max: Fury Road? What did you think?

xoxo Sarah