#GuestPost: Stumbling blocks to writing a long series by Sherryl D. Hancock, author of #WeHo Series @vulpine_press

Hello Readers! Today I’m excited to welcome Sherryl D. Hancock, author of WeHo Series to celebrate release of 16th book in series, Darkness Past, on Books Teacup and Reviews to talk about Stumbling blocks to writing a long series. The series is packed with strong, kick-ass women who deal with real issues and overcome a lot of adversity. Check out this interesting guest post and more about book in this post.

Stumbling blocks to writing a long series:

Writing a long series means never having to say goodbye!

As a writer you fall in love with the characters in your books, and writing interconnected series means you don’t have to stop seeing your characters. When I wrote my first book in what was to become the WeHo series, When Love Wins, I had no intention of writing a series. My character Tyler Hancock was inspired by my wife and her time spent in the United States Air Force. She was negatively affected by the military’s stance on gays in the military (they weren’t allowed!). At that point I just wanted to get that story out there. My second book, When Angels Fall, didn’t have the same characters. It was only when I began visualizing my third, Break in the Storm, that I saw a way to bring back Devin and Skyler from When Angels Fall. Even then, I didn’t really plan a “series.”

One year out of high school, before WeHo ever came about, I accidentally began writing my first series of books. The very first book I wrote from beginning to end was called Building Empires, which turned out to be the first and second book of my MidKnight Blue series. Building Empires was so long I had to split it into two books, when I finally got published many years later! That’s when I fell in love with the main character Midnight Chevalier; I didn’t even know I liked women then! In Midnight I had a strong female character, a woman who took no crap from anyone, and who was tough enough to hold her own against anyone! I found that after writing about her exploits, I didn’t want her story to end! I wanted her to grow, change, live and love! I wanted other characters in the book to grow up, and become their own people.

When I began writing WeHo number four, Turning Tables, I saw how I could bring characters from my other series, MidKnight Blue, into my WeHo universe. Even bringing a supernatural element to the books, using a character I’d previously developed who has the gift of premonitions. I think that’s when the idea of writing a series starring recurring characters and centering them all in West Hollywood (WeHo), California really took hold. Thus, the WeHo series was born!

By the time I started the third Midnight Chevalier story, I realized that I needed to add characters who’d grown up in the previous two books. So I started adding new characters, while developing the ones I already had. Giving them love lives, letting them change and grow as people. As it turned out, the characters changed me too. As I explored the options for their lives, what they could do, how they could find love, I realized what was truly missing in my life: REAL LOVE! Right around the time I started to write the story about Kana Sorbinno meeting the love of her life, a woman, was about the same time I discovered my preference for women. As I explored the gay lifestyle for my characters, I learned more about myself.

It took me another ten years to finally end my marriage to a man, and live the life I’d wanted for so long. That’s when I met my soul mate, and a few years later, finally decided to write a lesbian romance! And we all know what that led to!

Now, you’re probably wondering… I thought she said this was about the stumbling blocks to writing a long series… Well, yes, there are stumbling blocks and that is MANAGING so many characters and trying to keep track of their stories. There are over forty women in the series! With more to come! It’s not always easy to wrangle so many personalities, habits, backgrounds, jobs, cars, and music preferences (if you read the WeHo series you’ll see I’m all about the music and the cars!). It only becomes worse when your publisher moves to audio books! Then the poor narrator has to come up with different intonations for each character.

How do I keep track of all of them? Well, I have a book, and that book has notes from the books, from research on the books. The book also has a list of characters by name, age, the vehicles they drive. I know that probably seems silly if you haven’t read the series, but the cars are featured heavily in many of the “group” scenes! I even have pictures in this book. The pictures are of women that inspire the characters, shots of the cars they drive, random things like an article for an apartment rental in New York, or a picture of the Colonel’s Insignia for Kai Temple in Quid Pro Quo, or a picture of a tattoo one of the characters has. The pictures can be anything I need or want to remember about the character.

The music is a whole other arena! I have so much music downloaded from what the various characters listen to. I have playlists for certain characters, or at the very least a playlist of a type of music. I have a classic rock playlist for when I need to get into the head of Jericho Tehrani (from Turning Tables) when she’s driving her Dodge Challenger Hellcat down the road. I also have a house music playlist for getting into the mind of Memphis McQueen (In Plain Sight)! Music is very important to me and can stir up so many emotions and memories. Many people who have read my series have told me how they discovered Breaking Benjamin, or Linkin Park because they read the names of the songs in the book and downloaded it. I love sharing my passion for music with my readers!

The most important thing about writing a long series, is enjoying the feeling when another book is ready to come out and people are anticipating it! I love seeing the excitement of my readers when I post that a new book in the WeHo series is coming out! It fuels my need to write, even if it means adding another name to the growing list in my book! I am starting a new series, about fire fighters working for Cal Fire here in California…maybe I won’t use the same characters over and over again, but maybe you’ll see characters you know too!

Book Detail:

Darkness Past (WeHo series #16) by Sherryl D. Hancock
Publication Date: June 22, 2020
Publisher: Vulpine Press
Genre: LGBT romance

Sierra Youngblood’s life is in danger. After being threatened and stalked by an old client, Kashena Marshal is assigned as her protection. But Kashena isn’t just any security officer, she’s an old flame that Sierra could never forget.

After years apart they soon discover they still share a spark, despite Sierra now being married to a man with a son. Eventually, she realizes she can’t live without Kashena and chooses to leave her husband. But when Jason turns violent, Kashena is forced to protect Sierra once more.

As the dust starts to settle, could there be yet more Darkness in the Past?

Series detail – https://www.vulpine-press.com/we-ho

About the Author:

Sherryl D. Hancock lives in Sacramento, California, and has been writing since she was a teenager. Sherryl’s bestselling WeHo series deals with a number of important topics, such as abuse and problems with mental health. Sherryl’s books are filled with strong, inspiring women in the hope of helping and inspiring others.

You can find her latest book, Darkness Past, here.


I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this guest post and if you have read any book in this series or are you going to add it to TBR.

Happy Reading!

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#GuestPost: Where Do Good Story Ideas Come From? by Tara Gilboy #Rewritten #MiddleGrade #Fantasy @JollyFishPress

Hello Readers! Today I’m pleased to share guest post from Tara Gilboy, as a part of blog tour for Rewritten. Rewritten is Middle Grade Fantasy, second book in Unwritten series. If you missed my review on this book, check it out➡ HERE ⬅.

Guest Post: Where Do Good Story Ideas Come From?

One of the most common questions writers get asked is “where do you get your ideas from?” Often when I hear this question I freeze, because I’m not sure I have a good answer to it. I get ideas for stories all the time; I believe one of the requirements of being an author is to remain forever curious about the world.  Or perhaps writers are all a bit prone to anxiety. One of my professors in graduate school remarked that she thought ideas often come from a writer’s neuroticism. We are always imagining the worst that could happen in any given situation, and then rather than letting our worries develop into severe phobias, we write stories about them.

Recently, I was hiking on a mountain trail near my house, and as the sun started to set, I began imagining all the things that might jump out of the trees just beyond the next ridge. Axe murderers? A bigfoot creature? (Local legends call this creature a ‘zoobie.’) Ghosts? My mind started wandering about what would happen if something did leap out from behind a rock, and suddenly I was making up a story in my head about campers who stumble on a cell phone while hiking a trail, and on the phone is video footage of what happened to its owner…

So ideas are all around us all the time. Getting good ideas for stories is another thing entirely.  Most of the ideas I come up with are terrible, as my writing friends can attest. (Well, who wouldn’t want to read a story about a mountain-dwelling zoobie?)

The idea for Rewritten evolved from a variety of factors. When I finished Unwritten (for those of you unfamiliar with it, it’s a middle grade fantasy about a girl named Gracie who is a character from an unpublished fairy tale, whose parents took her out of the story, and into the real world, as a baby, to save her life), I knew if I wrote a sequel, Gracie would need to go into another story world, but I wasn’t sure what this story world would be. Would she go back to Bondoff, the fairy tale land of her birth? Somewhere else?

As I was struggling with these ideas and working on some other writing projects, I was also performing improv and taking classes at a San Diego comedy theater. A couple of the classes I took were on longform improv. One of the things we talked about was how to perform an improvised full-length play in a particular genre. It could be science fiction, Shakespeare, horror, film noire, musical…. You get the idea. As an exercise in class, we sat down and listed “tropes” for every genre, things that are common to each. For example, in Shakespeare, there are a lot of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, metaphors, love stories, etc. In film noire, there is usually rampant sexism, chain-smoking detectives, and dialogue that uses words like “dame” and “ace.” These lists got me thinking a lot about what genre might provide the highest stakes for Gracie, and it wasn’t long before I zeroed in on gothic horror, which also happens to be one of my favorite genres to read.

I spent a lot of time reading classics like Dracula and Frankenstein and making lists of tropes and clichés. I knew I needed a setting that was very contained, claustrophobic even. I imagined an old manor house, which I named Blackwood Hall. I wanted a creature that haunted the night. I listed spooky imagery like cemeteries, dark woods, shadowy hallways. Even then, though, the book hadn’t taken shape: I was stuck. I kept starting and stopping: even though I knew where Gracie’s journey would take her, I hadn’t figured out yet what that journey meant for her. In other words, I hadn’t figured out what Gracie’s goal was.

It wasn’t until I started delving deep into Gracie’s character, figuring out what her emotional wounds were that she needed to resolve, and thinking carefully about what she wanted (which ended up being about grappling with the events of Unwritten and who she was) that I was able to complete the novel. It was only then that I understood what impact traveling into the world of Blackwood Hall would have on Gracie.

And that brings me back to my point about what makes a good story idea. In order to have an idea that is sufficient to create a whole story, you have to know what your main character wants. This is the through line that will sustain your novel and hold all the events together, so that it feels like a cohesive story. Every time I’ve started a novel that floundered (I’ve written A LOT of partial novels that I abandoned halfway through), it’s because my protagonist didn’t have a strong enough goal. Ideas are all around us, and if you keep your eyes open and your curiosity sharp, you will find them. Once you’ve found your idea, think carefully about what that idea means for the main character. If you’re writing about time-traveling opera singers from outer space, or a town built of cotton candy, or a family of misunderstood mountain monsters, make sure you know what that journey means for your characters. That’s how you turn a random idea into a story readers won’t be able to put down.

Book Details:

Rewritten (Unwritten #2) by Tara Gilboy
Expected publication Date: April 7th 2020
Publisher: North Star Editions/Jolly Fish Press
Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy

“After learning the truth about her own fairy tale, twelve-year-old Gracie wants nothing more than to move past the terrible things author Gertrude Winters wrote about her and begin a new chapter in the real world. If only things were going as planned. On the run from the evil Queen Cassandra, the characters from Gracie’s story have all been forced to start over, but some of them cannot forget Gracie’s checkered past.

Even worse, Gracie discovers that as long as Cassandra has her magical book, the Vademecum, Gracie’s story is still being written and none of the characters are safe, including her mom and dad. In a desperate attempt to set things right, Gracie finds herself transported into another one of Gertrude’s stories—but this one is a horror story. Can Gracie face her destiny and the wild beast roaming the night, to rewrite her own story?”

Book LinksGoodreads | Jolly Fish Press

Affiliate Links : Book Depository | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (IN) | Amazon (US)


What do you think about the book and post? Have you read this book already or any book in this series? Are you going to add it to TBR?

Happy Reading!

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#GuestPost : Home (After it Happened Book 9) by Devon C. Ford #Home #AfteritHappened @vulpine_press @DevonFordAuthor

Hello Readers! Today I’m pleased to welcome Devon C Ford on Books Teacup and Reviews to talk about the location inspiration for his new post-apocalyptic/sci-fi book, Home in After it Happened series. Check out the book details and interesting guest post below.

Home (After it Happened Book 9) by Devon C. Ford


Publication Date: March 27th 2020


Publisher: Vulpine Press


Genre: post-apocalyptic / sci-fi

Synopsis:

Safety is an illusion. Security is only a fleeting sense. Peace is a myth. 

Steve and the other survivors in the UK have rebuilt and healed after the brutal end to the reign of Richards. But removing a dictator was only the beginning… 

Years after a mistake of compassion and humanity, an enemy thought long gone returns to bring down a rain of violence and terror the likes of which they have never seen before. 

Their society, a peaceful one of trade and co- operation, has moved on from the bloody aftermath of the collapse, but that evolution blunts their teeth to be able to combat the new threat. 

The call to return to the rainy shores of England is strong for Dan and his fearless accomplices, so they return home to do what they do best: bring justice to a lawless world. 

About Series:

Set in the UK in the immediate aftermath of a mysterious illness which swept the country and left millions dead, After it Happened follows the trials of a reluctant hero, Dan, and the group he forms around him. They must battle the elements, find sufficient supplies and equipment to survive, and protect themselves against the most destructive force on the planet: other people.

Guest Post: Location Inspiration

A lot of fans ask me about the places in my books. Some of them are real, but most of them are figments of my imagination inspired by real places and changed to fit what I need for the story.

Following the mantra of writing what you know makes it easy to describe real places, but what to do when those real places limit your storytelling ability? How do you overcome that limitation to where your imagination wants to go?

In After It Happened, I did just that and based the early stories on places I knew well which allowed me to give that element of realism it so deserved. When the story evolved and moved on I found myself increasingly reliant on the internet to give me the visual backdrop of a canvas where I could paint my brushstrokes for the readers.

What to do when you’ve painted yourself into a corner? Two words.

Road.

Trip.

Minor spoiler alert, the story that starts in the rural centre of England moves south through the continent where pictures needed to be painted for the characters to play out their own story. I had to construct a set in which my imaginary actors could perform, and that required inspiration.

Now I’m not much of a people person – shock horror for a writer, I know – and even more so that I’m nervous of new places and not having a set pan to follow. I’m that person who arrives at the airport five hours early in case I don’t make the flight.

After a month of meticulous planning and creating an itinerary, I set off from home just after midnight to head south for le Chunnel.

From there, after half an hour sitting in my car as the train thundered along beneath the English Channel I emerged in the early hours in northern France with the same bizarre disorientation you get coming out of the cinema in the dark when you’d entered in daylight.

There I began what became an intimate and long-lasting personal relationship with the voice commands of my car’s navigation program. We very nearly split up when she unnecessarily took me on the Paris ring road as part of the return leg where I believe they were filming a new version of Death Race.

The first foreign leg, fraught with the confusion of being on the wrong side of the road, saw me driving from Calais to Bordeaux over about ten hours, with an additional ten percent of that spent stuck on a one-way system that gave me tantalising glimpses of the hotel I was supposed to staying at.

The following morning, setting off bright and early after three too many fresh croissants, saw me taking a stunning drive down the Pyrenees towards the first of my research locations.

That drive will forever be etched into my memory as the challenging, twisting mountain roads left my face aching with repetitive strain injury brought on by continuous grinning.

Due to the many errors made by my navigational companion, which may have been me ignoring her for the sheer enjoyment of driving, I found myself crossing through into Spain accidentally and then back to France before an inspiring tunnel lead me to a wonderfully inexpensive fuel station.

Trying out my (appalling) best French, I was shocked to be answered in Spanish and found out I was, in fact, a visitor of Andorra. That happy accident led to an hour of exploration and the inspiration for the seventh book of the series, even if I didn’t know that yet as I was researching book five.

Reluctantly getting back to my plan, I took to the mountain roads again to race the course of one of the rivers leading to my objective, Villefranche de Conflent. Literally the confluence of two rivers where a medieval walled town sat beneath a high hill crowned by an impenetrable defensive position called Fort Liberia.

These two places became so influential, so crucial to the story that without being there, without climbing the hundreds of steps carved out of the mountain itself and without walking the same ramparts my characters defended, I would never have created the story as it now exists.

Twice more I visited the town, getting by with my best (still appalling) French along with much pointing and smiling, until I’d walked every inch of the town until I could feel the cobblestones under my feet as I slept.

On what became my last visit there I saw a painting in the museum of a watchtower in a place called Sahorre which captured my frivolous attention enough to create yet another vital element to my books.

After a quick google I set off, opting to take the long walk as I had with the steps leading to Fort Liberia, and climbed that steep hill to spend a long time looking out over a cloudy-filled valley offering me line of sight for miles. I soaked in every detail I could, letting it infuse me in a way that sounds far too bohemian even to me, but that’s what I did.

Waking the next day with a number of aches to remind me that climbing two mountains on the same day was ill-advised at my age, I headed south for the sea.

I may not live anywhere near the coast now, but I grew up near it and always felt an affinity for a sea view and can still recall the calming sensation I experienced when I dropped out of the high ground to look down on what would eventually become the place I call Sanctuary.

Looking at the seaside town of Collioure, with the crown jewel of another medieval castle sitting proudly to loom over the entrance, I saw how these places would come together in my mind to create the perfect setting.

Wandering through the town again, earning odd looks from locals, I sat on the sea wall looking inwards to the town to form every wall, every rampart, every building in my mind until I could see it clearly. Even as the sun set there I still sat, drinking it all in until it became, and always will remain, my ultimate happy place.

So my answer to the readers when they ask if the places are real? Yes, they are. Only not in the literal sense.

My advice to other writers? Get out from wherever you sit to write. Chase your story to the places it takes you and don’t be afraid to change the world to make it what you need it to be. You never know what your imagination will create.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/329jlVg

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2SYb6Hi

About the Author:

Devon C Ford is from the UK and lives in the Midlands. His career in public services started in his teens and has provided a wealth of experiences, both good and some very bad, which form the basis of the books ideas that cause regular insomnia.

Facebook: @decvoncfordofficial

Twitter: @DevonFordAuthor

Website: www.devoncford.com

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and post?
Have you read this book already or any book in this series?
Are you going to add it to TBR?

HAPPY READING!!

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#BookReview : The Healing Stone (Starchild #3) by Vacen Taylor @VacenTaylor

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The Healing Stone (Starchild #3) by Vacen Taylor
Publication Date: April 10th 2015
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy
Pages: 176
Stars: ★★★★★

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After finding the Silvershade and escaping the attacking forces as the Wilder Forest city was scorched to the ground, Mai, Akra and Kalin must now face the evil that has consumed Long.

When they reach the land of Cruscar and enter the ice city of Algus, the children are confronted with an ice challenge to win an audience with Queen Isolda. A treacherous journey now awaits them if they are to reach the Healing Stone to save Long.

But Piceptus, the underworld king, will not give up his search and he will do anything to bring the pilgrims’ journey to an end. The children grow stronger as they begin to master their powers, but will this be enough to escape this danger and continue on their pilgrimage to fulfil the prophecy?

*** Note: I received this book from the author as a winner of giveaway. ***

Previous book I read in series:

The Healing Stone was a thrilling third installment in Starchild series and was much better than previous books. This follows Akra, Mai and Kalin’s journey towards Algus, City of Ice and their adventure in this cold nation. It was about friendship, situation testing their skill and patience, hope and faith in prophecy.

The writing was gripping, vivid and flawless. Author depicted characters, their journey through the sea and the city of Ice wonderfully.

It started with Long’s worsening health and their arrival to the first iceberg, the boundary of Algus where they met Queen’s soldiers who as per their law asked to participate in challenge. If they won the challenge, they could meet the queen and ask her help in healing Long. Now that was rude to greet visitors but it was an interesting challenge. Until now I saw Akra’s basic healing skill but in this challenge I could see more of his waterclasper’s skills which were more than just basic. Queen of Ice, Isolda, was as cold as her city and weather but her son, Aque, was kind, gentle and charming. I was curious to see how they were going to win the challenge and convince the queen in helping them and how they were going to heal Long.

The characters, plot and world was getting better in this book. The world was interesting. Along with the Algus, people of ice and their way of living, rules and laws, creatures of ice and dangers in the icy Mountains, there was interesting legend about the healing stone and how the world of elemental magic developed and 8 nations were created each possessing one elemental skill, how prophecy came into existence and why people believed in it. There was more story about the starchild but it was yet to be revealed. I’m sure upcoming books will tell more about him. There was also growing army of King of fire, Piceptus. He had his plans, his siblings and powers were evil.

Each chapters were exciting to read, revealed more about the world and characters. Their journey from city to icy mountains where lay the healing stone was filled with adventure and danger. We finally meet the soundwaver who helped children in previous book and get to know why he helped them. The way prophecy was unfolding, fulfilling the each line and binding characters with it, was clever and fascinating.

Mai was much more patient and strong than I expected. If I was in her situation, I’m sure I would have left my patience behind a book earlier. Her trust in Akra, Kalin and new friends Aque and Fojan was great. I could empathize with her and all the children. Their courage was admirable. Fojan was strong soundwaver. I liked how he grew to like each of them. Aque was fun. He was the last healer of Algus and successor of throne. Unlike his mother, he believed in prophecy and these children. Banter between him and Fojan was entertaining. They all grew strong by the end of the book.

Climax was tense. At first I was not sure but then I could figure who would be left behind and will be taken by Piceptus by this point. End was tragic and sad.

Overall, it was gripping, fun, dangerous and adventurous journey of four kids in the world of elemental magic and prophecy that played important part. I recommend this book to all middle grade lovers.

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Affiliate Link: Book Depository

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and review? Have you read this book already or any book in this series? Are you going to add it to TBR?
Which book you read had extremely cold setting?

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