Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Author Spotlight with Taylor Thomas

 Introducing the Author of Samhain Island...

Taylor Thomas

Taylor grew up outside of Washington D.C. in Prince George's County. She went to Catholic school her whole life and gained interest in the arts. In school, her accomplishments were winning a contest for year book cover, nativity scene drawings and door decorating contests. In college, she worked at Southern Maryland News Net where she interviewed various people throughout the region. She has written many manuscripts, most of them unfinished, and then decided to take her mother's advice and write a lighter, shorter book. That book was SAMHAIN ISLAND: Episode One which is part of a large volume of short novels yet to be published.  The series will be a group of Young Adult Halloween-centered short stories based around an impulsive city girl, a wisecracking Krampus and an overly perky girl from a family of monster hunters all stuck on the same spooky island.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Taylor to learn more about her as a writer as well as her intriguing book series. 

Favorite Fictional Character? 
My favorite character changes from week to week. As of right now, I'd have to say Decim from Death Parade. His progression as a character was very well written and satisfying at the end. 

Your Current Read?
I'm currently re-reading DRACULA by Brian Stoker

Besides writing, I like illustration and researching ancestry

Who is a strong woman that inspires you?
I can't pick just one. All the women in my family are strong, hard-working, and successful in their passions and in taking care of their families. They all inspire me to make every day count.

If you could spend a day with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
My granddad

Do you have any hidden talents? 
I'm good at conflict resolution.

Things you keep at your desk?
Color sharpies and sticky notes. I also have a large binder in which I keep my notes for SAMHAIN ISLAND. It has everything from plot charts to royalty payments to marketing.

How long have you been writing and what initially inspired you to write?
I've been writing since I was twelve. It started when I would try to draw characters from T.V. shows and movies. I copied them, but then started to add my own little quirks to them, I started to make original characters and then added stories to them,

What's your cure for writer's block? 
I just write. The writing might be horrible when I don't feel inspired, but at least I'm writing.

What motivated you to write SAMHAIN ISLAND?
I worked in a Spirit Halloween store during my second year in college. October was hectic, but during August and September it was slow. I would stand at the counter or walk around just because it was the only thing to do when there were no customers. The decorations and costumes really got me into the Halloween spirit, so I started to think about different characters and stories. I put the idea on the back burner for a couple of months, and then started to work on it during the summer of 2015.

How long did it take for you to write SAMHAIN ISLAND?
It took me a month to write the first draft, and then I sent it off to my awesome editor, Michael Keenan. After I received his edits, I started the difficult process of rewriting and revising. The whole process took me four months while I was also working and going to school.

How did you come up with the title?
I'll give some background about Samhain (pronounced Sah-wen) before I explain the title. Samhain is related to Halloween. Samhain was a pagan festival marking the end of harvest season and was seen as a liminal time when spirits could more easily come into our world. Samhain was appropriated from invaders a few times, but overtime Samhain and the Christian holiday of All Saints / All Souls merged to create the modern holiday of Halloween. The reason my book is called SAMHAIN ISLAND is because of the fictional Maryland island the series is set on. It's kind of Salem-esque; it's known for it's urban legends and so-called monsters. That's all I can say for now.

Can you briefly share with aspiring writer's your publishing process?
I used Create Space, and loved it. The people there were very helpful if I ran into an issue. It was hard trying to format the cover, but I managed, and it turned out great.

Who designed the border?
I did, except for the border.

Are any experiences in your book based on someone you know or events in your own life? 
In my book series, the protagonist's family owns a video store. That draws from my life because my family owned a chain of video stores in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area from 1980 until about 2000 and then my father had an online movie rental business. I grew up around films and decided to incorporate that into my story. They say "write what you know" so I did. I feel like the video store in my novel gives a homey and warm feeling, a contrast to some of the darker themes presented in Samhain Island.
Another thing that draws from my life is the story of the Goatman which I mention in Samhain Island: Episode One. It's an urban legend from various states in the United States, but it is especially prevalent in Maryland. From what I was told as a child, the Goatman drives behind lone cars on the country roads of Prince George's Country outside of Washington D.C., where I grew up. My friend and I would always pretend he was behind us when my mom was driving down those old roads. I added that same feelings an urban legend can cause- mystery and creepiness- to my novel.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological or logistical) you faced bringing your story to life? 
The challenge I ran into when writing this book and writing the following books in the series was keeping track of the information I gave to my audience. I don't want to make continuity errors later.

What advice do you have for new writers?
Always write; doesn't matter if it's your own novel or fan fiction. It is just important that you always write and hone your skill.

 SAMHAIN ISLAND is riddled with conspiracy theories, urban legends and various monsters. This is the island Tremaine Boppel moved to with her family. She's happy to start over in a new town, but what's in that tower by her apartment? Why will the tenant never come out? She is about to unearth that there is more to this island besides silly stories and shadows.


Order SAMHAIN ISLAND: Episode One 
by Taylor Thomas (Click Link Below)


Barnes and Noble

Do you want a FREE copy of Charlotte Haines new book INTRODUCING CHARLOTTE?  


Charlotte Haines is an amazing author that I have interviewed and am going to review for an future Author Spotlight.  She was nice enough to let me share it with you for FREE, all we ask is that you post a review on SmashWords and mention my blog. I would also love to post your reviews on my blog as well and give you a shout out. After all we are a community and need to help each other out.

Email me or DM on Twitter @CherylAMnty23 and I will message you the code for your FREE ebook.

Just wanted to give a quick update on my own novel, Questioning the Universe before I sign off. I have had a very busy few weeks and haven't worked on it too much. I am nearing the point that finally I feel comfortable sending it off to be edited. 
As a writer is your work every truly done?

With that being said, as I wrote the last few lines of my book, I realized I am saying goodbye to Matt* all over again and have done so with a heavy heart. So I leave you with this important message....

Until Next #WednesdayBlogDay... May your week be full of love and inspiration. Always remember YOU MATTER! XoXo- Cheryl

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Dreamer/Writer : Same Difference?

What do you want to be when you grow up? 

The single most important question a child can be asked. We are told, the sky is the limit. We can be whatever we want to be and do whatever our heart desires. Although true that with enough perseverance we can accomplish our goals, I feel like some dreams are harder to attain.

My Idol!
Some kids want to be doctors or lawyers, veterinarians or firefighters, while all of those are admirable goals; I have always wanted to be a writer. But not just any writer... when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up my answer was always...J.K. Rowling. My ambitions were received with a chuckle. It was like saying I wanted to be an Supermodel (I'm only 5'3" so that would have never worked out anyways) or an International Super Spy; 1 in a million. And I didn't/don't want to be J.K. Rowling because of the money, accolades or movies rights but because I am jealous of her muse's energy, her endless creativity, her power to put words together and create masterpieces. According to google there are 1,084,170 words in the Harry Potter Series while I'm sitting here struggling to hit 55k. 
Happy 9th Anniversary Deathly Hallows! 

Since it's tough out there in the publishing world, I think it is very important to create a community. Boost each other up to reach the stars. We have chosen a path less traveled by and hope that after all the blood, sweat and tears that it makes all the difference. I know that I go through periods of time where I am on top of the world, I look at my novel in progress and think Damn I'm good. Then other times I want to throw it away and grieve the last 2 years wasted. I love being on Social Media because I've received nothing but love from people going through the exact same things. I appreciate all the kind words and the support. It gave me the idea to introduce Author Spotlight on my blog to continue to bring together our community. I have a growing list of writers and can't wait to share their journeys with you.

About Author Spotlight

I wanted to do something to help my fellow writers because us creative types have to stick together. "Author Spotlight" helps build a platform for new writers, but also gives an inside look at publishing and the writing process to aspiring writers. I am going to feature writers of all genres, traditional or indie published. If you are interested email me:

Charlotte Hains is an amazing author that I am going to interview and review for my author spotlight. This book is a bit naughty but is welcomed since I have lived in the YA world for quite sometime. She said that I could share the code for a FREE e-copy of INTRODUCING CHARLOTTE.

All that we ask is after you read, if you could please post a thoughtful review on Smashwords and give my blog a shout out.

That's all for now! I've had a busy week with 3 birthdays, a sick kid and editing QtU.  I will leave you with the roller coaster of emotions involved with being a writer, as told by Rapunzel. I hope you all have an AWESOME week. XoXo- Cheryl

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

'Tis but a Dream- My Adventures in Lucid Dreams

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now, 
Thus much let me avow--
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream; 
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem 
Is but a dream within a dream.
-Edgar Allan Poe

“Often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream.” -Aristotle

Have you ever had a dream and you knew you were dreaming? Where you have total control of your actions, your surroundings and even the ability to change them at will? If you have, you are one of the few like me that have experienced the phenomenon of lucid dreaming. These are dreams where you are aware of your dream state, capable of making decisions, self-aware, and are able to concentrate and focus. Lucid dreams often give the illusion of reality which blurs the line between what is real and what is imagined.
It is more common in children, which is understandable. As we get older, most people become more jaded and the looking glass we use to view the world gets cloudier. Throughout my childhood, like every other child, I had dreams that 3 headed, 10 eyed monsters were chasing me. Other times, real life monsters in the form of scary bearded men with guns were out to kill me and my loved ones. Basic instinct is self-preservation, so most kids would run and I would for a while. But when I got tired, I would just give up. I stopped in my tracks, walked up to the bad guy and surrendered. I would tell the monsters, “It’s ok. You can kill me because it’s just a dream and when I die I can finally wake up.” Then they would do their job and I would wake up in my bed. Growing up I thought all kids gave into the monsters in their dreams, but I guess that isn’t the case.

As I got older, my dreams definitely became more self-serving. My most memorable one was winning a contest and my prize was spending the day with Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder. We went to my favorite local restaurant, and then to play a charity basketball game. While in mid-air shooting a 3-pointer (Note: I am not athletic or graceful and would probably find a way to miss a slam dunk), I realized that it was a dream. I would not have made that shot in reality and of all things I could be doing with Ian Somerhalder, it probably wouldn’t have been playing basketball. So mid-game, we left. Again I remembered I was dreaming, so I had my way with my sexy vampire dream man.

For the last couple months, I have been on a YA reading binge to help with my own writing. I was on the couch reading Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman. In the story the town hekamist, a witchy voo-doo priestess, performs spells using food. I drifted off to sleep with the book in my hands. Suddenly I was in a world where my family had ingested “spelled” bread and was dying. I called 911 and since a hekamist is purely fictional, the operator in my dream didn’t know what I was talking about. As I watched my family slowly dying, I closed my eyes and willed myself out of the nightmare. I could feel my body shaking itself, my shoulders lifting up off the couch and finally I was back to reality.

I have spoken with quite a few Editors
and I am proud to announce I have chosen one.
I need an editor (I just edited, I chose one)
I saved the best, most inspirational and somewhat eerie experience for last. As I write this sentence tears are already forming in my eyes. My YA novel in progress, QUESTIONING THE UNIVERSE is based on these dreams and the guardian angel who saved me.

First a little background, my grandmother battled cancer for 18 years and made friends with the nurse who administered her chemo. I lived with my grandma and the nurse was the mother of a boy who went to my high school. Thinking there was no way her son and I knew each other, each week they both bared their souls, divulging secrets they could no longer keep to themselves. She shared that her son had secretly battled Leukemia for most of his life, but was winning at the moment.

I didn’t just know her son, we actually shared a locker. Matt* was a happy, decently popular, handsome boy with an infectious smile. We were casual friends and saw each other every day. He knew my secrets and I knew his. One day in the hallway we traded glances and it was an agreement between us that we would keep our mouths shut. We didn’t talk much after that, but I always kept a close eye on him to make sure he was ok. When we were 21 and I was 3 months pregnant with my youngest, I got a text from a mutual friend. My heart dropped as I looked at the screen, my eyes read the words over and over somehow expecting them to change if I read them enough. Matt had taken his own life. I was too ill to go to his funeral. I regretted not going and still do.

When I was 5 months pregnant, I woke up with a strange feeling and kept writing it off. I finally decided to go to the doctor even though I wasn’t in pain or ill in any way, it was just a bad feeling. I was diagnosed with a pretty severe silent placental abruption. It was too soon for my daughter to survive on the outside, so it was a waiting game in the hospital. That night Matt came to me in a dream. He picked me up from my bed and took me to an ice cream parlor. I kept repeating that he was dead and that I knew I was dreaming because he wasn’t real. He looked over at me with a salute and said, “Well thanks for letting me know, Captain Obvious.” He ordered my favorite ice cream and told me in a matter of fact tone that Emma and I would be fine. He needed to give me that message and that was it. The abruption corrected itself and my beautiful baby girl was born in January of 2011.

Months later my relationship with her father became toxic and Matt came to me again. This time in an inconceivably large shopping mall (if it existed, it would be my equivalent to heaven) with white walls that were almost too bright to keep my eyes open. The escalator he came down was made of shiny metal and he looked too beautiful to look at. He was dressed in all white as he descended towards me. He grabbed my hand and we walked down the empty hallway together.  Again my first instinct was to remind him he was dead and that it wasn’t real, but he put his finger to my lips. He informed me it was his job to show me a good time when I needed it the most, so I would never lose hope like he did. He was very adamant that I had to end my relationship because it wasn’t good for me or my kids. This was a fact that I already knew and was too scared to admit but eventually took the advice.

RIP July 2010 You will not be Forgotten 
I didn’t see Matt again for a while. Over the next year, I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease and was in a pretty bad car accident while visiting a homeopathic doctor because I refused to accept my diagnosis. I was struggling to take care of my 3 children alone because I was a barely functional human being. My ex-husband and father of my 2 older children came to my rescue. We slowly started to find our way back to each other, but I had built up a wall, so high and so strong, it was pretty impenetrable. When Matt came to me this time, the dream seemed so final. I knew in my heart that it was the last time I would see him. He took me to his house where he floated above me. I questioned if he was my guardian angel. His answer was, “If you believe in that kind of thing.” I asked if he was ok and he replied, “Better than ever.” Then suddenly we were at a carnival. I felt like my senses were on overload. I could feel the wind in my hair while on the roller coasters and the smell of the cotton candy tickled my nose. It is still the most vivid dream I have ever had. He pulled me away from the carnival chaos and we sat on a bench. He grabbed my face and made me look into his eyes. “This is it Cheryl, you don’t need me anymore. You have Tanner to take care of you now. Trust him, he loves you. I promise you will be ok. Don’t forget me!”

Forgetting him was something I could never do. I woke up with goosebumps and chills that couldn’t be cured with a blanket. Tears in my eyes, I grabbed my coat and got in the car in search of his grave at the local cemetery, but there was no information they could give me.  I felt like I never got to say goodbye to the kind boy who spilled his lunch on my text books, but that day in my car I finally did. I am so grateful for his guidance, whether otherworldly or my own mind taking his form to help me help myself. RIP My Guardian Angel

Someone dies from suicide every 40 seconds and their loved ones are left to grieve a loss that can never be filled. On that day in July the world became a little dimmer because it lost all of the brightness that surrounded Matt. If you or someone you know needs help don’t be afraid to speak up. You are not alone, it isn’t your fault and there is help out there. Talk to a parent, friend, or anyone who you trust and is willing to listen.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy. – Sigmund Freud

Whether I am being chased by monsters or murderers, playing basketball with vampires, poisoned by hekamists or visited by the dearly departed, they all shape my awakened state. Digging deeper into the psyche, dreams are a way of working things out that you cannot deal with while you are awake; your worst fears, biggest hopes, and deepest desires.

Have you had experiences with Lucid Dreaming?
Comment below and tell me your weirdest dream!

Entranced by Lucid Dreaming? Check out my friend's blog

Make Sure you stop by & view my First Author Spotlight w/ Slow Echoes author Kristina M. Serrano

Author Spotlight with Kristina Serrano

Introducing, my fellow RAVENCLAW sister... 

Kristina M. Serrano

After starting college at sixteen, Kristina M. Serrano graduated from Cape Fear Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Arts, as well as a BFA in Creative Writing Fiction and a Certificate in Publishing from The University of North Carolina Wilmington, landing on the dean’s and chancellor’s lists. She was the Executive Editor and Prose Editor of an online literary magazine, and, while in college, had the privilege of singing the national anthem at four large events. SLOW ECHOES is her first published novel, but she has dozens of unfinished YA fantasy and paranormal romance novels stored away for a rainy day. She currently resides in North Carolina with her hyper Bichon Frisé, Jake.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristina and she is AWESOME!!! See for yourself...

Favorite Book/Book that inspires you:

Only one? I recently just had trouble narrowing down my favorites list to, say, 20 books. I can say that I adored (and still adore) A LITTLE PRINCESS by Francis Hodgson Burnett as a child and have recently become obsessed with all things HARRY POTTER. As far as YA paranormal romances go, I think TWILIGHT and the HALLOW trilogy by Jessica Verday will always be my favorites. However, I'd like to say that every book, good and bad, I've ever read has inspired me. 

Favorite Fictional Character:

Dally from THE OUTSIDERS, Finnick from CATCHING FIRE/MOCKINGJAY, and lots of characters from HARRY POTTER to name a few. I'm not good at narrowing down things, am i?

If you are a HARRY POTTER fan, what house do you belong to?


Your Current Read:

I literally just finished DEATHLY HALLOWS for the first time minutes before starting this interview. 


Reading, writing, singing, formerly horseback riding

Who is a strong woman that inspires you?

J.K. Rowling

If you could spend a day with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?


Do you have any hidden talents?

I seem to have a knack for correctly pronouncing different accents

Things that you keep at your desk?

Too many things right now, but the usual are notebooks, a lamp, pens, a globe, water bottles, receipts I need to throw away, clothes that need to be folded or stored neatly...Man, I really need to clean.

How long have you been writing and what initially inspired you to write?

I've been writing forever (my first grade teacher predicted I would write books one day), but I didn't start seriously writing until I was 15. Writing and reading have always felt as natural as breathing to me. I remember being the only kind in school who was excited to write a book report, and I grinned with joy when my teacher announced it was time for creative writing.

What's your cure for writer's block?

Various cures; songs that inspire me, walking around talking out plots to myself, writing fluff intil something revelant comes out, and, mostly, reaching inside to remind myself why I wanted to write the story in the first place. The last, especially, usually gets me back in tune with my characters and plot. 

What motivated you to write SLOW ECHOES?

I grew up watching boxing matches on television with my grandpa, so I've always been interested in the sport. And before creative writing, my plan was to pursue a degree in Geology/Paleontology/ Archaeological, which is where my passion for Egyptology comes in. Somehow, I figure combining the two aspects would be a fun write, and I was right!

How long did it take you to write SLOW ECHOES?

I got the idea for SLOW ECHOES about 4 years ago. But after writing out notes/character descriptions/ the first three characters, I lost it in a hard-drive crash, pouted for a while, wrote back everything that I'd lost, set it aside for a few years and then wrote the majority in a month, give or take. 

How did you come up with the title?

Mummies. It has always bugged me how, in movies and such, they always caught their victims not matter how slowly they moved. I came up with a logical explanation, that they slowed down their prey instead, even their speech, in this case. I also feel the title captures the tone of the entire book, Selk's easy relationship with carefree Whistler, slow and steady.

Can you briefly share with aspiring writers your publishing process?

Long story short, I've dreamed of publication since I was a child. I queried countless times for years for another book of mine, both agents and publishers. Finally I decided a different book and smaller publisher would be the best route to kick-start my writing career. After turning down a contract for another publisher who didn't seem quite right for SLOW ECHOES, I found Forever More Publishing, and couldn't be happier.

Who designed your cover?

Forever More Publishing's very talented, April Martinez.

Are any experiences in your book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Though my grandpa is, happily, still alive, Selk's grandfather was inspired by my watching boxing with mine on television when I was her age.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) you face while bringing your story to life?

I definitely did the most research for this novel out of any I've written so far, and it was kind of challenging t craft completely new backstories for the historical/ mythological figures and tie them into the main plot.

What advice do you offer new writers?

The main advice I offer new writers is one word, OBSTINACY. Never give up. SLOW ECHOES is finally published because of God and sheer stubbornness in clinging to my dreams.

Selk Baioumi is Croatian. She is also Egyptian. And American. Despite her vast heritage, the only family she has known is her mom and late grandfather. Other than that, the closest relationships she has is with her boxing/kickboxing instructor, Cliff. And she's perfectly happy with her life, until two new men show up in her cozy hometown of Snow Hill, Maryland. The first, Whistler, an ill-reputed boxer with a paranormal secret. The second, Zahid, the Egyptian father who'd left her mother the day after Selk was born.

Zahid's return brings the truth about Selk's ancestry and promises of death for many including Whistler, the not-so-bad boy who's stolen her heart with his dry smile and effortless empathy. In order to obliterate those promises, Selk and Whistler must enter and survive an alternate Egypt where crocodiles swim in venom, stained-glass labyrinths come to life and mummies can slow your every move, even speech--if overprotective Cliff doesn't kill Whistler first.

Add SLOW ECHOES to your GoodReads

Order SLOW ECHOES by Kristina M. Serrano  Only available until 2/29! 

(Click Links Below)

About Author Spotlight

I wanted to do something to help my fellow writers because us creative types have to stick together. "Author Spotlight" helps build a platform for new writers, but also gives an inside look at publishing and the writing process to aspiring writers. I am going to feature writers of all genres, traditional or indie published. If you are interested email me:

Double Edition  #WednesdayBlogDay 

'Tis but a Dream- My Adventures in Lucid Dreams

With Jane A. Harris