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Sunday, October 5, 2014

My next guest comes from New York and she is joining me in a celebration of her debut release, Rogue.  Please join me in welcoming author Kari Nichols

LH: So, you are a published author now.  How does it feel? 

KN: It feels surreal. I’m still reeling from the fact that my book is sitting on my bookshelf.

LH: Writing is a process of writing, read, rejection, read, and rewrite.  You stayed the course; no doubt through many ups and downs, and you reached your goal. Have you taken the time to sit back and breathe?

KN: It was definitely a long process, and I did take a bit of time off from writing. But the time off was mainly spent focusing on my other business. I’ll get to sit back and breathe once December hits!

LH: Mutual Twitter friend Iona Morrison celebrated her debut release this month.  She quoted, “Today I celebrate, tomorrow I write.”  Did you have a big celebration?

KN: I didn’t have a big celebration. But my husband and I celebrated with two of our good friends, and the night was definitely memorable!

LH: Well, we join you in the sweet victory. 


LH: What age did you realize you wanted to become a writer / author?

KN: I’ve always loved to write. And I’ve been dreaming up stories in my head since I was about five years old. But it wasn’t until 2013 that I realized I should be writing them down. I have no idea what took me so long, but I’m incredibly happy now that I’ve figured out this is what I truly love to do.

LH: What genres interest you most?

KN: I’m pretty diverse when it comes to genres, but urban fantasy, historical fiction and romance have to be my top three.

LH: So, what prompted you to write Rogue?  Where did your ideas or inspiration come from?

KN: I was reading a really terrible YA series when I had to stop because the books were just SO poorly written. I looked at my husband and said, “I should really do this. I’m a way better writer.” So he stayed up with me really, really late that night and helped me come up with the premise for Rogue. I knew I wanted to write a story about immortals, but I didn’t want it to be geared towards teens. I wanted to write a book that was something I would want to read. I can’t go into detail about where my ideas came from, because I would be giving away some major plot lines! Needless to say, we both really like history.

LH: You and your husband have a very successful photography business in New York. How do you find the time to write?

KN: It is not easy! I am a very singularly focused person, so I only write once my photography clients are completely taken care of. Wedding season is generally much slower between November and February, so I wrote the majority of Rogue over those months last year (and will likely try to do the same with Ghost this year). 


LH: Each author approaches prewriting differently.  What’s your favorite method of prewriting?

KN: I write my full story arc so I know where I’m going to start and where I plan to end up. It’s complicated with The Plagued Trilogy because I’m writing three books that are all heading toward the same outcome. So I have to be really careful that there aren’t any discrepancies in plot lines or characters. In addition to the outlines, I now write detailed character bios on any characters that will make important appearances in the book. I give them a past—a full story of their personalities, life experiences, emotional responses, etc. That way I really know my characters before I ever write about them.

LH: You’ve described your editor as invaluable in helping you stay focused.  Describe how you two work together.  Do you send her the entire novel at one time or do you break it down into segments or chapters, wait for her feedback and then continue?

KN: She is incredible. I send her pieces of each novel as I’m writing. Each time I send her something new, she reads the entire work as a whole—not just the new parts. So with Rogue, the first thing I sent her was the first five chapters. Once she gave me her feedback on that section, I worked more and sent her the first fifteen chapters (and so on and so forth). Once the book was completed, she got each new draft as I finished them. She is incredible!

LH: Did you experience times when you needed to change the direction of Rogue and was that easy for you?

KN: I didn’t really have to change the direction of the book, but I did have to do a major overhaul on a few of my characters. It was only easy because I knew by changing them, I was going to make the characters much more relatable/likeable which would lead to readers enjoying the book more. I’m pretty much willing to do anything to make my books the best they can be—even if it’s a lot of extra work or heartache for me.

LH: Many new authors often give up trying to cope with the details of the business side of becoming an author. 
At some point did you find yourself overwhelmed with the process?  How did you handle those times?  What can you tell aspiring authors to help them get through this?

KN: I already run a successful business, and years ago I sold a second successful business. So the business side of being an author doesn’t stress me out as much as one might think. The one thing that really does stress me out is trying to run both businesses simultaneously while trying to continue writing. It’s a huge commitment and more often than not I find myself behind schedule at the end of each day. I usually turn to my husband in those times. It’s so important to have a strong support system around you if you’re going to be an author. I rely not only on my husband, but also on my author friends who have already released books of their own. I have one friend in particular who released her book two days before I released Rogue, so we’ve been able to talk about our triumphs and frustrations as they come. It’s been a huge comfort to be able to talk to someone going through the same things.

LH: You chose to take the route of an indie author.  What benefits / challenges presented themselves that prompted your decision?

KN: I spent months just researching the differences between indie publishing and traditional publishing. There was one author in particular who pretty much cemented my decision to go the indie route. You can find her amazing articles about self-publishing on her blog here--
I basically decided that I would rather maintain control over the creative process and make a smaller initial profit than hand over my rights, creativity, and editing to a company that probably wasn’t going to end up doing much for me in the end.

LH: How long did it take you to write Rogue?

KN: I began writing Rogue in October of 2013 and released it on August 20th this year.

LH: What has been the most rewarding / challenging part in writing Rogue?

KN: The most rewarding part is seeing the reviews of my book. It wasn’t until I saw the first review that I said to myself, “People are actually reading the book that I wrote! This is real!” The most challenging part was just making the time to sit down and write it. After my first draft was finished, I sent it out to three readers to get their honest feedback. After their responses, I ended up just sitting back and thinking about the feedback they’d given me for a solid month. I was so overwhelmed by how much I had to add/change to make the book better that I couldn’t touch the story for a while. So once I was able to wrap my head around it, I got to work (and dove in head first). That was definitely the most challenging part of the writing process for me.


 LH: Tell us about Rogue, give us a teaser. 

KN: “We stand united, Family of Immortals. Plagued by life. Cursed by the hand of God …”
Rogue was born into an immortal family whose wealth is marked by a trail of blood. But when he meets the unnervingly familiar assistant of his next target, an unexpected rush of emotions begins to unravel his carefully laid plans.
Lissie lives a mundane life filled with work … and little else. She hasn’t taken a risk since she moved to New York City after college—seven years ago. But when the mysterious Matthew McCloud walks through the door of her office, she finds herself diving head-first into a whirlwind romance she never saw coming. 

LH: Will this become a series?

KN: Yes! Rogue is the first installment of The Plagued Trilogy. I’m currently writing Ghost, the second book in the series.

LH: Where can we buy Rogue?


LH: What can we expect from author Kari Nichols in the near future? 

KN: I’m hoping to finish the first draft of Ghost in the next month or two. I’m also working on a compilation of short stories that are contemporary fiction. If I can find the time to work on that, I may get the short stories out before Thanksgiving. But I’m not making any promises!

LH: Do you have a book tour set up; where can we find this schedule?

KN: I’m not going to do a book tour with Rogue. I just don’t have the time with wedding season still in full swing. But I am in the middle of a blog tour. I try to regularly post links to the latest blog posts on my website.

LH: We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.  How can you be reached or how can we find information on upcoming releases?

KN: You can follow my blog here—

Or on Twitter— @TheKariNichols


LH:  Kari, thank you for stopping by and giving us the opportunity to celebrate with you on your new release.  It is exciting, and we certainly look forward to the completion of The Plagued Trilogy. 

KN: Thanks for having me! It was a pleasure!

If you find yourself in need of a photographer, Kari and her husband, Caleb, travel extensively, providing some of the finest wedding photography anywhere.  Psst: I’ve seen their work and it is amazing.  You can find more about them and their studio at

Additional Resources:

If you are new to writing, do yourself a huge favor. Take advantage of the resources provided by Kari and myself.  Visit Elizabeth Hunter at Self-Publishing: Is it Difficult? Sometimes. Is it Doable? Definitely. and Joanna Penn at for a free download of her e-book Author 2.0.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Well Good Monday Morning Writers & Authors;
In my first blog I shared my intentions for this blog.  I created the Rise & Shine category to showcase newly published authors who chose to rise and shine their way through the writing maze.  We all need the encouragement because writing is entertaining and in this business, rejection is a norm. 
I want to create another category to address the fitness needs of we authors who crunch at a desk most of our day.  That being said, I invited Charlotte Rains Dixon @Wordstrumpet to be my guest and share her new article on fitness for writers.  If you practice an established fitness routine, kudos to you.  Perhaps you only dabble a little here and there with getting fit.  For sure, there are plenty of us who do not exercise at all.  I am inspired by this article and I am going to challenge myself to get serious and get fit.  No matter what level of fitness you employ, I challenge you to resolve to go deeper; do something to strengthen your fitness discipline.  Charlotte shares her tips here on getting up and moving.  I intend to follow Charlotte on her journey to better fitness.  I'll post future updates here. Please, let me know if you're taking the challenge. Enjoy!

Do You Pay Attention to the Physical Aspects of Writing?

Writing is hard mental work, we all know that.  But it is hard on your body physically as well.
Yeah, right, you say.  All I do is sit in a chair at the computer all day. Morro-strand-stretching-98145-h
And that is exactly why writing is so hard on you--because it is not good for you to sit all day.   Not even one little bit good.  Our human bodies were made to move, and our ancestors moved all day.  But we don't.  We sit in a chair all day and our bodies don't like that.  Studies have shown that even if you run five miles after work, if you sit all day, you're not healthy.
I've experienced this first-hand over the last couple of years, with an ongoing knee problem that I'm finally getting some relief for.  Turns out its not about the knee at all, but rather very tight muscles in my hip and sacrum area.  Chiropractic and laser treatment, along with icing, daily stretching and yoga, is making a huge difference.
But in the course of my chiropractic treatments, I've realized how stiff and tense my neck and shoulder muscles are.  I was so used to them feeling this way, it took my chiropractor asking about them every visit for me to realize--wait a minute, my neck is sore.  And my shoulders are stiff.  And they feel like this all day, every day. (Having had two children without any anesthetic, I have a high threshold for pain.)
I have plans to live until I'm 100 years old, in good physical and mental health, and I also plan to continue writing all those years--so I've got to pay attention.  I've been following my chiropractor's orders and researching ergonomics so that I can live and write for many more years.  Here's what I've found helps so far:
Stand up every 15 -30 minutes.  This one is tough.  You're writing away, the words are flowing--the last thing you want to do is stand up and move away from the desk.  But I find I feel much better at the end of the day when I do this.  Set a timer, if you must, but once you get it in your head, you'll remember.  My rule is, if I think I should stand up, I need to. So I do it.  And then I stretch or wander around for a minute.
Drink a lot of water.  My chiropractor says 70 ounces a day.  Yep, 70 ounces. This helps with muscle inflammation and trust me, it also assures you will stand up often--because you'll have to, to use the bathroom.
Develop an arsenal of stretches for your neck, shoulders, and back.  Have a regular practice of this and also do them throughout the day.
Check your posture.  Since I've started to pay attention, I've noticed a bad habit: I jut my neck forward and hunch my shoulders up.  It's no wonder my neck hurts.  Now I work to keep my head aligned with my body and if I do sit forward, I angle my whole body.  We all develop strange habits as we work--check to see if you have any.
Look at your computer set-up.  According to this physical therapist, your computer monitor should be at eye level.  Arggh!  Mine is several inches below.  Gotta work on that--its probably causing some of my neck strain, too.
Consider a stand-up desk.  I know I can't stand at my desk eight hours a day but I'd like to be able to stand for thirty minute or hour-long stretches throughout the day.  And so I'm ordering this nifty little laptop cart that also doubles as a stand-up desk.  I'll let you know how it works out!
Make sure you have good lighting.  Eyestrain can be a source of headaches, as I'm sure you know. Beware of glare on your screen, and make sure you're working in a well-lit room in the evening. Some experts recommend glancing away from you computer every 20 minutes or so--gazing at anything green is especially restful.
Ice is your friend.  Get thee some ice packs and keep them in the freezer for the times when you are stiff and sore.  Ice reduces inflammation and will make you feel better--especially on a hot day.
Okay, those are some of the things that are helping me, and I admit my efforts are a work in progress. I have to constantly remind myself to stand up, to stretch, to look away from the computer screen and give my eyes a rest.
Do you have any other recommendations for good writing ergonomics?  Please share.
Photo by mikebaird.
Charlotte Rains Dixon.

I want to thank Charlotte for being my guest here this week.  I look forward to hearing from her soon. If you decide to challenge yourself please drop me a line.
Happy Writing!
Alexia Stevens

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rise & Shine

Good Morning & Welcome

No doubt you've heard the old saying, "Rise and Shine".  My mom used to say that followed by, "it's school time."  I dreaded hearing those words.
But, today, I'm excited to Rise and Shine because I am celebrating the accomplishments of two new friends, authors Kari Nichols and Iona Morrison, who chose to Rise & Shine.

Kari Nichols' debut novel "Rogue" is due out August 20, 2014; available through amazon and smashwords.

“We stand united, Family of Immortals. Plagued by life. Cursed by the hand of God …”
Rogue was born into an immortal Family whose wealth is marked by a trail of blood. But when he meets the executive assistant of his next target, his perfect plan suddenly unravels.
Lissie lives a mundane life filled with work … and little else. She hasn’t taken a risk since she moved to New York City after college—seven years ago. But when the mysterious Matthew McCloud walks through the door of her office, she finds herself diving head-first into a whirlwind romance she never saw coming.

An indie author, Kari describes herself as writer, traveler, and lover of life.  She writes romance, new adult, fantasy, historical fiction, and short stories. She and her husband also have a photography business at Cottonwood Studios and live in New York. 
Her other works in progress include "A Dysfunctional Life, due out fall of this year and "Ghost", book two of The Plagued Trilogy. 

Kari also has agreed to an interview about her first novel.  So be watching for that in the coming weeks.  To learn more about author Kari Nichols visit her on Twitter @thekarinichols

Iona Morrison's debut novel "The Harvest Club" is being released September 5, 2014 through book store and Amazon; in print and kindle..

Jessie Reynolds has no idea when she moves to Blue Cove, that she will be sharing her life with a ghost. A young pastor is murdered, and Jessie finds herself following the trail of that death into the dark world of organ trafficking.

Jessie is soon introduced to the detective in charge of the case. Matt Parker is a tall, scruffy, ruggedly handsome man who takes an instant dislike of her and the feelings are mutual. He wants her out of his case and she finds herself entangled in it. The tension between them mounts and so does the attraction.

An avid reader and author, Iona writes suspense, mystery, and sweet romance.  In my communications with Iona, she evokes a sense of calm and balance that is so encouraging to me and, I'm equally sure, to other aspiring authors.  She lives in Colorado with her husband and three sons.
Iona's other work in progress is "Not for Sale".  You can receive information regarding the status of her current works by visiting her web site and signing up to receive notifications via email. 
To learn more about author Iona Morrison, please contact her at or on Twitter @Ionacrv

I am especially grateful for these two ladies, not only for their friendship but for sharing their experience and talents with me as a writer.  My life and career has been enriched since connecting with Kari and Iona.  They both are very gracious on encouragement.  Any up and coming novelist would do well to get in touch with them. 

So,  please extend your congratulations with me to Kari Nichols and Iona Morrison and let's help these two ladies Shine; they deserve it.

This site is dedicated to showing off the talents of new authors and bringing an awareness to their latest releases.  Please check back for updates on other authors who Rise & Shine.

Alexia Stevens
LinkedIn coming soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Welcome to my new blog

Hi There,

Welcome to my new blog dedicated to showcasing the talents of authors and writers alike. 
If you are new to writing, as I am, you are in good company. 
I'll post my thoughts and struggles with a healthy dose of encouragement not only from me but from some of my friends I have net met on this incredible journey.
Together, we'll finish our goals whether it be a magazine article, short story, or full length novel.
Join me, like me on Facebook, tweet me or share me on whatever social media floats your boat, just be sure to check back often for updates.
Oh, and comments are welcome.  I only ask that you be respectful and nice, especially to my guests.
Get ready to cry together and laugh together, but most of all get ready to finish and together, we'll celebrate your many writing accomplishments.

Alexia Stevens