Author Interview with Joy Johnson

My guest this week is Author Joy Johnson. A former Marine, Joy now spends her time writing fiction.

I hope you enjoy our interview as she shares a little with us about her writing and personal life.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

SJJ: Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?

JJ: Well, that is a good question to start. I would have to say that it was the Bible – but not only for the traditional religious reasons. I believe I was around seven or eight when my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Carnello decided to introduce the class to the book of Revelations. For those who do not know this is the final chapter, so to speak, of the Bible. It is the part of the Bible that describes the end of the Earth. It was also the first story I had ever heard that did not bear the light hearted hallmarks of all children’s tales. It was my first time hearing a truly dark, suspenseful story. The images that blossomed in my imaginative, childish mind that day as she read it to us born in me the first roots of my love for Apocalyptic tales. From that day forward, all of my stories have had a kind of dark twist that pays homage to the memory of that first reading of Revelations.

SJJ: When did you first realize you wanted to write?

JJ: I must have been around three years old. I didn’t even know how to write a single word. I just scribbled across notepads my mother would give me, telling her the story as I pretended to write. Those times are precious to me because in the coming years my mother would become mentally ill, and they are now my only memories of a time when my mother was truly my mother.

SJJ: Who are your favourite authors?

JJ: Oh! There are so, so many. I would have to say that the top five would have to be (and in this order): C.S. Lewis, Octavia E. Butler, Terry Goodkind, Dave Ramsey, and Carrie Ryan

SJJ: What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

JJ: I love that writing gives me a safe space to experiment with ideas, feelings, and in some cases re-live memories but change their endings. It allows me to create alien worlds; befriend creatures that are wild and wonderful, and fall in love again and again. As a writer, I spend a great deal of time crafting and cultivating my books to exactly reflect the world that they are in and what they re going through. However, the down side is that after all that time is spent and I have created something that I am truly proud of; I must unveil it before the world of people who don’t care. Now days, even if you have a publisher, a writer must learn how to sell. It isn’t enough to announce to your family and friends anymore that you’ve been published. You have to help your publisher sell your book on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Goodreads, Pinterest, Bookbub… and on into infinity. By the end of each and everyday, your beautiful book that you spent so much time creating has been torn in half, ripped into infinity, and then thrown back in your face by every person who only sees you as yet another person pushing something on them. They don’t care if the story is good, they don’t care if every detail has been carefully placed; they only care if it’s popular. Which, lets be honest, it won’t be for quite some time if ever.

SJJ: I can sympathize with that as can all authors. It’s not an easy undertaking in any way, shape, or form

Where do your ideas come from?

JJ: Some of my ideas come from dreams. Others I have had after listening to debates on major political issues, and a number have come from intensely personal experiences in life.

SJJ: I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

JJ: Well, aside from writing, I enjoy caring for fresh water fish and gardening. I love it when one of my yellow Cobra Guppies, who have live births of up to thirty at a time by the way, has her brood. They are so, so very tiny. They don’t tend to get their spots until they are a month old or so. I use the fish waste to fertilize my house plants which are Orchids, Christmas Cactus plants, and Amaryllis. You can’t imagine the wonders that fish water will do for plants!

SJJ: I have heard of that and have used fish water in the past on my plants.

If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

JJ: Well, I would love to jump into any one of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books. I think it would have to be his last one though, I would love to go running in Aslan’s Father’s country with the Pevencie children.

SJJ: When you create characters, are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

JJ: All of my characters do tend to lean toward people that I know and love, have met in passing, or revile. I feel that the best protagonists as well as villains are more well rounded when I write them based on an existing person or persons. Obviously, I will always change that character enough to obscure the true identity of the real person, but it is something that I have always done.

SJJ: Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

JJ: I remember once that I had pooled some characteristics from different people in my life to create a character for my short story, The Choice. It was a story about a failed attempt at suicide and the blessing that a second chance at life can be. Around a month later, when the story had been circulating for a little while, a young girl in another country found my story, read it, then contacted me. She told me about some suicidal thoughts that she was having, and about how similar her situation was to my character’s story. When she told me of her intentions to attempt taking her life again, I took steps to keep her safe. After the authorities got involved, I never heard from her again. I pray for her.

SJJ: How do you come up with titles for your books?

JJ: Usually the theme of the book tends to become the title. I have a short story called, The Tandem Mind. It is a story that takes you through the mind set of a mentally ill woman who is plagued by a male alter ego. I love it when the title shows itself to me so to speak because it means the story is really beginning to have a strong theme.

SJJ: What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

JJ: Right now, I am writing a new book that is tentatively being called, Children of the Narlow. It is a Science Fiction book about two warring alien species who are at the end of their planet’s environmental resources, and are struggling to figure out what to do to save their children’s future. The Narlow are a race that are bent on consumption. They take without measure from their own planet’s core. They steal slaves from other planets to serve them in the mines. They have declared war upon the Gragoren; a species who are naturally peaceful, and whose only interest is in saving their home, the world that they must share with the Narlow. Then, we will find that a human woman torn from Earth early in the story discovers that she and a little boy could be the key to peace and progress between the two species. I am only half way done with the book but it is already turning into an amazing tale about environmental decline and attempted heroism. I love it!

SJJ: This sounds like an interesting story.

Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

JJ: I began writing a long time ago in college. I was published right away in my college anthology, then again by two different publishers over the years, but I really haven’t had the time to both write and apply for awards. I may do so in the future, but for now I would much rather focus on the writing.

A Little More Personal

SJJ: What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

JJ: I would love to charter a boat to take me out to the middle of the deep ocean so that I could really SEE the stars… And then of course, I would have to have some paper with me to write about the experience.

SJJ: Sounds like this could be an amazing experience.

Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?

JJ: Well, it doesn’t have anything to do with writing, but – insert blush – it is funny. About a month after our first child was born, when the sleep deprivation was really starting to kick in, I awoke to a loud, gurgling scream. I bolted out of my bed and flew to the crib, thinking our daughter was in trouble. My heart was hammering as I leaned over her little crib to peer wide eyed at her. She was completely asleep and peaceful for the first time in a long time, so I was absolutely puzzled. Had I heard it in my dreams? Was I losing my mind? Then I

glimpsed the bathroom light on and meandered over to see if my husband had decided to get some water. As I opened the door, there he was; tears streaming down his face, toothbrush in hand, scrubbing his gums to the point of bleeding. When I asked him what on earth was wrong, he let out the noise that had awoken me and pointed to the counter. It was then that I realized that one of us, in our exhausted state of mind, had left the bottle of Desitin beside the bottle of toothpaste. He cried out, “I can still taste the omega 3’s!”

SJJ: Oooo, yuck! That would not be nice.

Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?

JJ: Yes. As a child I believe I once saw an angel. It was standing on an over pass. It glowed in an unnatural way that looked like it was glowing from within. It held its arms out wide as our car zipped down the road underneath it.

SJJ: Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

JJ: I am not superstitious, but I do pray on a regular basis and believe that there is a God.

SJJ: What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

JJ: When I lived in California many years ago, there was a farmer’s market that would come to town on the weekends in the summer. This farmer’s market had everything; hand made peta bread, fresh avocados, homemade apple butter, etc. We loved that farmer’s market. Well, one day at this farmer’s market we came upon some one selling Greek food. This was fresh Greek food. Not like the kind you get from an Americanized Greek fast food place, but the real stuff, made by hand. Before that day I had never had Greek food. I had no idea that you could eat grape leaves, let alone that there was a process to soak them in spicy olive oil and use them as a wrap for some of the most exotically spiced rice stuffing, I’ve ever had.

SJJ: Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

JJ: I absolutely love the beach. Any. Beach. Nags head where the wild ponies run is a favorite though.

SJJ: Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

JJ: I remember one year my parents didn’t have the money to celebrate my birthday. My mother had called my father at work and had an argument with him about it. I remember her asking him if we could even afford to buy some cake mix for her to make me a cake and he had said no. She had hung up, and had to explain to me my first lesson about money that day; that there would never be enough, ever. She had privately tried not to show me her tears as she pulled out some scissors and began teaching me how to cut snowflake shapes in them as her only means to celebrate with me. That night, very late, my father came home. He called my mother, me, and my older sister into the living room. Out of his suitcase he pulled a bundle of suckers from the Dollar Tree. He handed them to me and told me I could do whatever I wanted with them. I counted them like diamonds! I was so excited because I had thought all day that I wasn’t going to get a thing, but here they were; a delicious rare treat. I remember looking up from them, and seeing the looks of longing on my sister’s and my mother’s face. In that one moment I realized I could spend the rest of my life holding those suckers, keeping them to myself, or I could share and feel what wonder lay on the other side of giving instead of keeping. As I handed each of them one of my delicious suckers, I felt the deepest sense of happiness. My parents inadvertently had given me the biggest birthday gift of all that day, they had cultivated in me a heart of a giver.

SJJ: What a lovely story. There really is a deep sense of joy when you give freely without expecting anything in return.

What makes you happy?

JJ: Writing makes me very happy, but I think my family makes me the happiest. There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not thankful to have my parents, my husband, and my two children.

SJJ: If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

JJ: Finding a way to spread kindness, and caring for my family.

SJJ: Can you tell us three interesting facts about you?


1. I have experience in catching bats. Yes, bats.

2. I have created an original alien language for some of my characters.

3. Because my son has Treacher Collins syndrome and is trach dependant, I know how to care for a trach dependant person better than most licensed nurses.

Author Bio

My name is Joy Johnson. I have traveled all over the United States as both an active duty United States Marine and now as a Veteran. In my small amount of time on this earth (I think I’ve seen the number twenty-five on my cake more times than I care to count…;) ), I have found that stories can come from all around. Characters can be developed from friends, family, strangers, and all of their many combinations. My deepest love is to develop stories that utilize both my environment and my passion for the people I meet in life who leave a profound impact upon my soul, for the better or worse. If you are here today to view one of my stories, I would absolutely adore it if you wrote me a review. Reviews are the life blood of an author’s page on Amazon, so it would mean a great deal if you took the time to write me one. All of that being said, it is my supreme hope that my characters find their way into the world and provide readers with the same kind of wonder that they have provided me with these past years. I couldn’t ask for a better audience here and on Amazon, or a better group of family and friends to help me see my dreams come to fruition. Take care, and I hope you have fun reading my stories! Joy Johnson

Joy’s Links

Amazon Author Page The Death Dealer Diaries United States Amazon Audible United Kingdom Amazon Audible



Publisher Author Page #NextChapterPub

Beyond the Story – The Girl who wasn’t Min

The Girl Who Wasn’t Min

Mulligan is not the best thief in Aberddu, but he is a man with a plan. After he finds Min and her friends scraping a living on the streets of the Poor Quarter, he knows he’s going to be quids in.

Together, Mulligan and the girls build up a rock-solid ruse. As the Fortescues, they hold the key to the homes of the city’s great, good and filthy rich. It seems like the perfect scheme – if Mulligan can avoid getting married off – but nothing this good can last forever.

The game they are playing is more complex than they first suppose, and soon enough they are plagued by enemies harder to run from than the militia. Greed, resentment and disloyalty take their toll on the gang. With Min and Mulligan enjoying the high life and Angel disappearing for hours at a time, it seems like they might spoil things for themselves before anybody else has a chance to rumble their little ploy.

As four street kids and a con-man take on Aberddu’s aristocracy, who exactly is playing whom… and will anybody come up smelling of roses?

Welcome to another Beyond the Story Character Interview where I get the opportunity to interview some truly interesting guests. This week my colourful guest and her companion come from the novel, The Girl who wasn’t Min, written by L.G. Surgeson.

SJJ: Hello and welcome, please tell us your full name and where you live?

CC: Who’s asking? Are you wiv the militia? Cos I aint done nothin; and neither has my h’associate.

SJJ: I promise I am not from any militia.

CC: You don’t look like militia. Okay. My name’s Clara Cropper, and this is my h’associate Pudding The Goblin. She’s jus’ gonna stand here while I answer okay?

SJJ: Yes, that’s fine.

CC: We lives ‘ere, in the rough bit of the Docks, in Aberddu City, but we’d appreciate it if you could keep all that t’yourself like squire?

SJJ: Um, sure I’ll keep it to myself but Clara, this is an interview and it will be posted so I can’t promise my readers won’t share the information.

Let’s move on to my next question. How would you describe your personality?

CC: Delightful. I’m amazing me… Shut up Pudding.

SJJ: Okay… And what do you do for a living, Clara?

CC: Bit of this, a bit of that, you know, a bit of the other…. shut up Pudding, not that kind of other.

Mostly, we get paid to go away. Or we steal stuff for cash. Professionally speaking, we go by the name ‘The Amazing Bazooka Sisters’, epic poems and dancing performed. But we aint really bards no more, cos we’re kicked out of the Bards Guild for getting widdled and recitin’ ‘she likes it like a well-boiled ham’ during the posh toasts at the midwinter banquet.

SJJ: Sounds like a tough way to earn a living. What is the biggest obstacle preventing you from achieving goals for yourself?

CC: Well funny you should mention it, I had a spot of bovver on the way here.

SJJ: Bovver? Excuse me for a moment while I look that up…. Ah, I see, you had a bit of a bother

CC: Some b*****d had it away wiv the buttons from me coat.

SJJ: Thanks for bleeping yourself. So, tell us something about you that not everyone knows.

CJJ: Not on your life mate. I still aint completely sure you aint militia.

SJJ: I swear, I’m not. Are there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

CJJ: Probably being given a bath by Lady Iona, also that scam with Mulligan and the gang, what made us some money, and met me Pudding.

SJJ: Do you have any regrets, Clara?

CJJ: Nah, I can’t afford anyfing posh like tha’ guvnor.

SJJ: Ah, pretty sure regrets don’t cost anything. I mean unless you’re talking buyer’s remorse.

Is there anyone you look up to, consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?

CJJ: Well, I s’pose Lady Iona, the Duchess of hoity-toit. She did give me a bath once… I say a bath, she hosed me da’wn in tha yard firs’ like. And she gave us a job once an all.

SJJ: And when you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

CJJ: Gettin’ thrown outta the Bards Guild prob’ly. We can do ‘she likes it like a well-boiled ham’ for ya now if you like?

SJJ: No, that’s quite alright.

CC: No? Ah well.

SJJ: Tell us, what is your idea of the perfect day?

CC: New boots, a hot meal, lotsa beer and a nice big bed. Shut up Pudding, not like that.

SJJ: I think a lot of people might agree with you there.

What do you do for fun?

CC: Anything I can get away with. Scrumping in the market, running up behind the priests in the Temple district and flicking their cassocks over their ‘eads, pushing posh buggers into the river, ‘aving a sing song, doin’ a turn at the Bird and Bottle.

SJJ: Clara, what are your plans for the future?

CC: Well, I want to get the buttons back for this coat for a start. Then, maybe a pie.

SJJ: And I hope you are successful on both accounts.If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

CC: Huh?

SJJ: OK, I guess we’ll forget that question. Are you happy with the way your story was told?

CC: Didn’t get much choice really, story of me life.

Clara Cropper Appears in The Girl Who Wasn’t Min and in the forthcoming ‘In Shadows Waiting’. You can also catch her cameo appearance in The Winter That Follows, and in the short story ‘Clara’s Buttons’ available on LG Surgeson’s Facebook Page.

Author Bio

LG Surgeson is a writer and teacher who lives in a cottage by a stream with her long-suffering partner and their four cats. They like Mid-Wales because it’s better than the real world. She writes in her pyjamas, in the time she creates by avoiding housework and socialising. The cats like to help. They aren’t very good at it. When she’s not writing or teaching, she likes to create things or mess around in the garden upsetting the fairies.

LG writes a lot. She writes because she can’t help it, and when she’s not writing she drives her partner and the cats mad by moaning about the fact that she’s not writing. Being a novelist has been a life-long dream, since she fell in love with Jo Marsh when her Grandmother read Little Women to her when she was very small. LG writes novels, blog posts and articles. She believes it’s important to write about what you know; her novels are either fantasy adventures or semi-autobiographical stories about teachers. Both are equally believable.

Currently, the first three novels in The Black River Chronicles and The Girl Who Wasn’t Min – a stand alone novel set in the same world – are available from Next Chapter Publishing, with more to follow. These are definitely fantasy – and contain lots of magic, near-death and goblins.

Contact Links:

Twitter: @LGSurgeson

Author Christopher Coates Discusses his Newest Release

Author Christopher Coates joins me today to discuss his newest release, Alternate Purpose. Read on to learn more about this interesting novel.

SJJ: What genre(s) does this book fall under?

CC: SciFi Adventure

SJJ: Who is your target audience?

CC: Young adult or older

SJJ: When was your newest book released?

CC: January 22 2020

SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new release.

CC: A man discovers he has an amazing ability and builds his identity around this incredible gift from God. What will he do when he learns that the gift isn’t from God? Instead, he is part of a desperate plan to save humanity from an unimaginable disaster.

SJJ: Where does the story take place?

CC: Eastern USA in the current time period and 85 years in the future.

SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?

CC: It was just an idea I had.

SJJ: What kind of research did you do for this story?

CC: I had to look into current ideas around time travel. What theories are most supported and into suspected technological advancements in the next century.

SJJ: Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?

CC: The ending was difficult. I could have kept the story going a little longer or had a very different outcome. I wrestled with it for a while.

SJJ: How did you come up with the title (which I really like by the way)? Did you have any other working titles?

CC: For several months, I was calling it Project X. As the story unfolded, I needed something better and came up with Alternate Purpose. At first I thought that would be temporary, but over time I decided that it was a good fit.

SJJ: Who designed the cover?

CC: The cover was designed by my publisher, Next Chapter Publishing.

SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene? Please tell us a little about it if you can.

CC: When the Devin learned his true purpose. His whole idea of who he is was shattered. There were many things that I needed to bring together for the story to continue.

SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?

CC: We all have a purpose in life and we must make the most of it.

SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?

CC: 1 year to write and 3 months to edit

SJJ: Who is your favourite character? Your least favourite character?

CC: General Marcus Quimby. Despite great personal loss, he unified and saved a dying nation.

SJJ: Is this book a stand alone or part of a series? If part of a series, please name other published works in the series.

CC: It is planned as a stand alone but a sequel is possible.

SJJ: Please tell us where Alternate Purpose can be purchased.

CC: It is available from Amazon as an eBook and in print.Amazon:

Alternate Purpose

SJJ: Thank you, Christopher, your new release sounds interesting, and I wish you much success.


Christopher Coates grew up on Cape Cod Massachusetts and moved to Michigan for college. He currently lives in Kent City, Michigan with his wife-Jerri, daughter-Nicole, and son-Jared.

Christopher is a retired Firefighter/Paramedic who works full time in Information Systems for a major West Michigan company.

His first three books, The Ark, The Resurrection Wager & Alternate Purpose are available in print and for Kindle

Christopher’s Links


Amazon Author Page:

New Release from Author Andi Lawrencovna et al

My guest this week is Author Andi Lawrencovna. Her newest release is a little bit different than previous guests’ in that it’s an anthology of 9 short stories from various authors including Andi.

Here’s what she had to say about this latest release in our interview.

SJJ: What genres does this book fall under?

AL: Romance! And a whole bunch of Subgenres! Lol. This is an absolutely amazing collection that covers everything from Contemporary Romance to Fantasy Romance and everything in between. We have Historical, Paranormal, Clean, Spicy, Personal…literally, EVERYTHING is in this anthology and it is a great way to meet new authors and new stories and just have a good time reading about love!

SJJ: Is this a genre you normally write in or are you trying something new?

AL: I think a lot of the authors in this anthology are traditionally romance authors. I usually write Fantasy with a romantic twist, which I think comes through in this anthology as well. The great thing about anthologies is that authors can choose to experiment and have fun outside of their usual styles, and I think that’s one of the things that we all were really excited about for this anthology.

SJJ: Who is your target audience for this anthology?

AL: Our hope is that this project has a little something for everyone! The goal really, or target, was to get this book out to as many people as possible, really opening up our audiences by making new connections and friends.

SJJ: When was the anthology released?

AL: Valentine’s Day, 2020! I am so very grateful to have this amazing group of writers with me who literally all said “YES” to doing this project…with little over a month of prep time for it! These stories that came from it are poignant and sweet and amazing and, really, I consider myself blessed to have such a great group of people with me for it!

SJJ: Please tell us a little about this new book.

AL: Around every corner and even right in front of you, love is spinning fabulous stories. Love can be rekindled between hearts broken by lies and betrayals if you’re willing to make a pass. Sometimes it takes playing referee to a cat and dog to find your true soul mate. Predictable might be the name of the game, until the unexpected comes along to push you into something new. Love takes so many different twists and turns: a sister left behind who is freed when she learns to love; the moment when magic sparks between two strangers and turns into something more; or second chances that come with just a little push. Just like a kaleidoscope, every shade and shape of love is imprinted on our hearts. Maybe you’ll find a few of those stories of love in this book? Gina Ardito, Grace Augustine, CJ Baty, Linda Boulanger, Edward Buatois, Jennifer Daniels, Laura Hern, Andi Lawrencovna, & M.M. Roethig

SJJ: What inspired all of you to write these stories?

AL: I am not trying to take the credit here, but Me! Lol. I contacted these authors, many of whom I’ve worked with before, and many who I have fallen in love with working with them for this first time, to create this piece together. Last year was our first adventure into writing this Kaleidoscope Hearts anthology, and I am so grateful that all of these amazing authors chose to work with my crazy again to create even more stories of love and romance to share!

SJJ: Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?

AL: Interestingly, and I’m only speaking for myself, I had a really hard time with the “romance” here. I wanted to write a story that wasn’t just about “love between others” but about “love of self.” I watched Frozen 2 not long before starting on my story idea, and I really wanted to focus on that idea that “I am who I am meant to be” and “Love yourself” and so while there is that element of romance to my story, I wanted the main focus to be about “me” (in terms of the character! Lol), and that was really hard for me.

SJJ: How did you come up with the title for this anthology?

AL: Actually, funny story, I am a HUGE Sara Bareilles fan. I keep my iPod on shuffle most of the time, and one of her songs came on called “Kaleidoscope Hearts.” It was a month before Valentine’s Day, and all I could think about was all the different ways and types and visions of love in the world, and it just seemed like the perfect name and descriptor for an anthology that focuses on LOVE!

SJJ: Who designed the cover? Did you have much input in the design?

AL: One of our amazing authors, Linda Boulanger, who also wrote a story for the anthology, designed the cover for it. We worked together, but she is 100% the creative genius for the piece, in designing the cover which we hope has that “kaleidoscope” feel to it, both sentimental to that adventure of looking in one as a child, and representative of all the colorful pieces that make up our hearts as growing human beings.

SJJ: Is this anthology the only one from this group of authors or are there others?

AL: So, this book is actually the second Volume of this “series.” Kinda… It’s not a series in the sense that the stories are continuations of anything, but it’s more like a serial anthology. Our first Kaleidoscope Hearts anthology came out on Valentine’s Day 2019. And I’m hoping that my amazing compatriots will stick with me for a vol. 3 next year too!

SJJ: Where can this anthology be purchased?

AL: It can be found EVERYWHERE in eBook for free. We’re also selling the paperback copies on Amazon for a limited time too.


Author Bios and Links:

Andi Lawrencovna lives in a small town in Northeast Ohio where she was born and raised. After finishing her education, she decided that it was time to let a little fantasy rule her life for a while. The NeverLands were born out of a frustration with happily-ever-afters, and a burning desire for the same.

Gina Ardito is the award-winning author of contemporary, historical, and paranormal romance, currently published by Montlake Romance and independently. In 2012, she launched her freelance editing business, excellence in editing, and now has a stable of award-winning clients, as well. She’s hosted workshops around the world for writing conferences, author organization chapter meetings, and library events. To her everlasting shame, despite all her accomplishments, she’ll never be more famous than her dog, who starred in commercials for 2015’s puppy bowl.

Editor and internationally known author, Grace Augustine, was raised in Montana. Her hobbies include music, acrylic painting, container planting, and old romantic movies. She resides in Iowa and is the mother of two adult sons and an adorable feline.

CJ Baty loves a good mystery, hot sexy guys, the mountains, and a happily ever after. When she decided to try her hand in the book world, it only made sense to combine those things. She firmly believes that love is love in all of its shapes and forms. Her books contain broken spirits that need to be mended and a mystery, often a murder, which needs to be solved, so those spirits can find love. She calls southwest Ohio home, but her heart lives in the hills of Tennessee.

Linda Boulanger has always been a hopeless romantic, which spills over into her eclectic mix of published books, numerous story singles, and short stories in a few group anthologies. She spends her “free time” designing book covers for others through Tell~Tale Book Covers and TreasureLine Designs, all from her desk just north of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Edward Buatois is an eclectic reader and writer who enjoys many different genres including romance, thriller, sci-fi, and fantasy. He particularly enjoys writing urban fantasy, though he’s been getting more involved with romance lately. And there is usually a fantastical element to surprise.

Jennifer Daniels lives in Upstate, NY with her husband and son. She enjoys spending time with her family, fishing, camping, kayaking, and being on the water. Jennifer is a former nurse and for several years was very active with her local volunteer fire and rescue department. She is a paranormal/fantasy junkie, loves to read most things in those genres and is a binge-watching Hallmark Channel fan.Writing was never on her radar until her son shared with her that he wanted to write a book. So, together they began and that was when Jennifer decided to give it a try on her own. And that was how the Opalla Series was born.

Laura Hern is a native Texan and grew up reading murder and romance mysteries. She currently lives in Minnesota and is the author of the Lainey Maynard Mystery series. You can connect with Laura on her author Facebook page, Twitter, and her website.

M.M. Roethig is a happily-ever-after author who swoons for a good romance. From the time she was a little girl she was spinning tales for anyone who would listen. When she’s not making up stories, she’s spending time with family. M.M. Roethig lives in Colorado with her husband and son, close to one of her daughters and grandson. She loves movies, books, dancing, music, baseball, and traveling when possible.

New Release from Author Timothy J. R. Rains

Author Timothy J. R. Rains joins me this week to talk about his latest release, The Blade from the Barrow.

SJJ: What genre(s) does this new book fall under?

TJRR: The Blade from the Barrow is a Viking Fantasy based on the Norse Sagas. In particular, it’s a mashup of The Saga of Hervor and Heidrik and the Saga of the Volsungs, featuring the protagonists Hervor Angantysdottir and Sigurd (or Siegfried) the Dragonslayer.

It’s worth noting, however, that this book takes place in 400 AD, a few centuries before the traditional Viking Age and that the word Viking does not appear anywhere in the narrative. That said, the Nordic cultures and religions depicted are very much what the average person would associate with Vikings. For example, a shieldmaiden berserker sailing around on a long ship practicing human sacrifice and praying to Odin.

SJJ: Is this a genre you normally write in or are you trying something new?

TJRR: I normally write fantasy, but this is the first time I’ve written fantasy that is anchored in a real historical period.

It was extremely challenging. The sagas themselves are full of anachronisms and many of the real-life characters that show up in one place are from different centuries. It would be the equivalent of George Washington joining forces with Robin Hood and Joan of Arc to fight the Nazis. It’s interesting stuff to work with, but as an author it puts you in a strange situation.

For instance, if you’re writing historical fiction you’re working within the parameters of that historical time period and you have to do a lot of research to determine what those parameters are and work with them as best as you can; when you’re writing fantasy, you might want to draw on history to influence your characters and world building, so you still have to do significant research, but your main parameters are something you’ve invented (ie. How magic works in your fantasy world). But in The Blade from the Barrow, I was working with history, and the sagas and the story, and I frequently had to choose which of those parameters I was going to hold. And each time I had to make that kind of decision I was giving something up.

SJJ: When was The Blade from the Barrow released and where can your readers purchase a copy?

TJRR: It was released in the end of January and is available now exclusively on Amazon.

SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.

TJRR: It has been sixteen years since the infamous berserker Angantyr Arngrimsson and his eleven brothers were struck down on Samso Island. But, on the cold coast of northern Scandinavia, echoes of their savagery linger on…

With a scathing tongue, a volcanic temper, and a punch that could drop a polar bear, Hervor: Princess of Lofoten is a hurricane of trouble. After discovering the truth about her father, she’ll do whatever it takes to retrieve his magic sword and carry on his name. But that means exhuming a terrible curse, and she soon finds herself with few friends and a whole lot of enemies.

The explosive start of the High Fire trilogy, The Blade from the Barrow is a Viking fantasy composed of an epic blend of history and Norse mythology. Fans of The Red Queen’s War by Mark Lawrence or Joe Abercrombi’s Shattered Sea won’t want to miss this visceral retelling of the Tyrfing Cycle.

SJJ: What is the time and place of this story?

TJRR: The story takes place all over Scandinavia, Iceland, and Germanic Europe in the year 400 AD during the decline of the Roman Empire.

SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?

TJRR: My brother was really into Viking stuff and at one point he sent me an article about bad-ass women, and one of the women mentioned was Hervor. It briefly outlined her story, enough to get me interested in reading the saga she featured in. I toyed with the concept of writing a book about her for a couple years, but the exact moment it all came together for me was once when I was watching 13th Warrior. And the part where they’re all standing up to go on the quest, after Antonio Banderas watches them sacrifice that girl on the longship, I knew that I needed to write this Hervor book.

SJJ: How did you come up with the title and did you have any other working titles?

TJRR: For the longest time I was going to call it Angantyr’s Daughter, but I thought that might be giving too much away, and Angantyr is kind of a weird name that not everyone can pronounce confidently.

Also, The Blade from the Barrow is more cohesive with the other two (future) working titles in the series, The Deathless Acre and The Norns’ Doom – all of which are from lines from the Saga of Hervor and Heidrik.

SJJ: I love the cover of your new book. Who designed it? Did you have much input in the design?

TJRR: I made the cover myself. I did a bit of photoshop/graphic design stuff when I was in cartography school, and there is actually a fair bit of overlap between making maps and making book covers. They’re both aesthetic forms visual communication. And in addition to being emotionally appealing, a book cover needs to communicate exactly what the book is about. So, I tried to put something together that looks sharp and screams this book is about vikings and magic swords.

SJJ: I think you accomplished what you wanted. Well done!

What is one of your favourite lines or quotes from the book?

TJRR: There is a scene where Hervor is about to stab one of her allies in the back—she finds a dagger in a treasure pile and tests the blade against her finger…

“Her skin parts at the slightest pressure, causing a red tear to dribble down her finger. Sharp as the kiss of Judas.”

I always thought that was a deadly line and I always felt proud of myself when I read it over.

SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene and can you tell us a little about it?

TJRR: The scene where Sigurd and Gunther are hiking up the volcano to meet Brunhilde the Valkyrie Queen of Iceland was really fun to write. I think it introduces the juxtaposition of their personalities pretty well and highlights the codependent nature of their relationship.

Bruhilde has sworn to marry any man who can overcome her in a test of strength, and Gunther has determined to be the one to do it—only he has no intention of defeating her himself. He has recruited the help of his giant-blooded friend Sigurd, a renowned champion and chronic worrier. Right away there is the sense that Gunther has somehow manipulated Sigurd into doing this against his will, because he’s clearly uncomfortable with it and thinks the whole plan is a bad idea. And Gunther doesn’t even tell Sigurd how he intends to carry out his plan until they’re almost at the top of the volcano – that they will have to cast a magic spell on themselves and change shapes so Sigurd can defeat Brunhilde while pretending to be Gunther. Presumably, Sigurd has already refused this suggestion, only for Gunther to spring it on him again at the last moment when he has no choice but to go along. He does, but he insists that the whole thing is a terrible idea and will all go horribly wrong.

And of course, he’s right…

Author Bio

Bewitched at a young age by all things to do with swords and magic, Canadian fantasy author Timothy J. R. Rains spent his youth slaughtering Minotaurs in the misty woods of rural Nova Scotia.

He studied cartography at the Centre of Geographic Sciences and has a degree in theology from Briercrest College. When he isn’t caught up in another dimension, he’s usually out in the middle of some cold river with a cigar in his teeth and a fishing rod in his hands. He lives with his wife and daughter in Riverview, New Brunswick.

Author Links

Amazon Link for The Blade from the Barrow



Beyond the Story – Jasper Amazon Parrot A Rainforest Adventure


Jasper and his family enjoy living in the Amazon jungle. It’s full of family, friends, and adventures. Knowing their sister, Piper, will soon learn how to fly, will only add to the fun this family of birds will embark on.

The brothers, Jasper and Willie, are growing up in this wonderland of colors, sounds, and smells. They will need to rely on each other and friends as a strange new animal turns into a new buddy, while another can disrupt their lives forever.

While new challenges are always popping up, nothing can prepare Jasper and his friends for what is about to happen – something unexpected that will change everything.

I am thrilled to have this different kind of guest on Beyond the Story Character Interviews. This week’s character, Jasper, lives in a series of children’s books, and he is an Amazon Parrot. What is also unique is that Jasper is based on the real Amazon Parrot living with Author Sharon C. Williams and her husband.

I hope you enjoy our “conversation”.

SJJ: Hello and welcome to Beyond the Story Character Interviews. For those who aren’t familiar with you, can you please tell our audience your full name and where you live?

JTW: My name is Jasper T. Williams. I own a house in North Carolina where I allow my loyal subjects to live and serve me. It doesn’t compare to the Amazon rainforest, but it will do for now.

SJJ: (LOL!) Ahh, so you’re the house owner. I suppose my cats and dog believe they own the house and allow us to serve them too.

But seriously, how would you describe your personality?

JTW: I have wings and can soar through the sky. I am majestic as I fly above people beneath me. I guide and help people with my presence that is equivalent to royalty. What else can I be but a benevolent humble angel.

SJJ: So, what you’re saying is you’re the cat’s meow.

Now, this is a two-part question, Jasper, do you do anything for a living? (I know, strange question for a bird). And what is your dream job? Providing you’re not already doing it. (Also, a strange question)

JTW: What do I do for a living? The real question is what don’t I do for a living? I raise the sun each morning to eliminate the darkness. You’re welcome. I defend my throne from outside animals. I spread my wisdom to my humans with my wonderful singing voice. Even to those who don’t appreciate it. I observe human culture and entertainment while critiquing it. Trust me, both needs lots of critiques. I don’t have a dream job, because my dream will be a reality. I will be loved by all as I should be. I hope to have several statues in my honor very soon and made from platinum or diamond, because gold can’t capture my beauty.

SJJ: What is the biggest obstacle that is preventing your from achieving your goals?

JTW: When the sun sets and the darkness covers the lands, I lose motivation to do work and happen to fall asleep, but even asleep I maintain my beautiful image. Most humans look ugly while sleeping, they drool and snore, but not me, I have dignity. Maintaining my perfect image takes a large portion of my day through perfect grooming of each of my feathers. I really should hire someone to groom me so I can focus more on complete world admiration and adoration of me.

SJJ: Okay, so you’ve told us how wonderful and beautiful and amazing (and humble) you are but can you tell us something about you that not everyone knows?

JTW: I secretly don’t hate my mom. I know she thinks I do. And it is not that I hate her per say. I just love dad and my brother so much more. They think I am the most awesome thing since peanut butter. And let me tell you, their right. She comes in handy. She kills bugs for me, buys me treats, pats my head, cleans my cage, fluffs me, has written three books about me and has written a few songs as well. So, I have to throw the lady a crumb or two so she doesn’t spiral downward. I mean I have to keep the old girl around, right? See I am sensitive. You can add that to the question about my personality.

SJJ: (Chuckling) Okay, noted. But I am glad to hear you appreciate all your mom does for you.

Now tell us, are there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

JTM: I can think of none. You humans are so quick to mark defining points in your life like they defined you or molded you, but not me. I was Jasper before I was born and I will be Jasper when I die. Everything that I am I was born with. The beauty, charisma, grace, and etc. come naturally as easily as breathing to me. If I were to change in the future, make no mistake it wouldn’t be a defining moment of fate that changed me. But it would be changing only for a whim on my own accord.

SJJ: I’m probably going to regret this question, but do you have any regrets?

JTM: Bitch please, I’m Jasper. Excuse my language.

SJJ: LOL! Well at least you have some manners.

I think I can guess your answer to this question, but Is there anyone you look up to, consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?

JTM: I don’t find many people to be worthy of my praise, but I must admit one movie has had a profound effect on my life. That movie is The Lion King. When the big cat looks into the water, sees his own reflection and got all emotional, I realized I am my own mentor. Why look up to others when I can look up to myself both literally and metaphorically?

SJJ: Just as I thought. Okay next question, and once again I think I can guess your answer but it will be much better coming from your lips, I mean beak. When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

JTM: I like to think I accomplish more in a single day than most people accomplish in their lives. Though that is unfair of me to compare myself with commoners who are trying their best. Though if I had to choose one, I think the year of 1999 comes to mind. It’s when I uplifted the lives of three new humans and showed them what their lives were missing to be my crowning achievement. It wasn’t easy, but I clearly changed their lives for the better. They say that is the year they rescued and adopted me. But let’s get real. I saved them.

SJJ: (Shaking my head, with a smile) What’s your idea of the perfect day?

JTM: All days are perfect when your name is Jasper.

SJJ: Jasper, your answer does not surprise me.

What are your strengths? And because it’s part of the interview, what are your weaknesses? Though I am sure you don’t have any.

JTM: My humble personality, limitless stamina, graceful movements, beautiful voice, and courageous nature are just some strengths. My weaknesses would be the fact that I can’t be in two places at once. I can only share my image and enrich other people’s lives through the internet…for now. I promise I will help all humans and animals on this planet no matter how beneath me they may be.

SJJ: (Shaking head again, with maybe an eyeroll and because you’re a bird, a chuckle as well) Humble, huh? Anyway, I am surprised you found some weakness, though I’m not quite sure it really is.

Okay, moving on. Tell us Jasper, a busy parrot saving the world and all, what do you do for fun?

JTM: I do lots of things for fun, but I have taken an interest in this wall lately. There is nothing special about it. It’s an ordinary wooden brown wall, but I find myself lost on its texture and can stare for hours. It has the benefit of showing off my beautiful backside as well as being more entertaining than 90% of what I have seen of human television.

SJJ: I guess you could say you watch it like a hawk, sounds like a blast. But I don’t think I’ll try it.

And what do you do to relax?

JTM: I’m always relaxed. I am the definition of posed and calm or at least I will be soon once Webster gets back to me.

SJJ: I’m speechless.

On to the next question. What are your plans for the future?

JTM: I don’t plan for the future it distracts me from the now. Though I do believe I mentioned complete world admiration and adoration of me. That is always on the agenda.

SJJ: Okay, Jasper, if a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

JTM: The only person who can play Jasper is Jasper, but unfortunately most humans can’t understand my message accurately. So, if possible, I would like that black actor who played God in that one movie to narrate the movie. The one with the moles who hasn’t aged in years. I like his voice almost as much as I like the French language. Definitely get him to be in the movie.

SJJ: Well, Jasper, I think you mean Morgan Freeman. And I do have to agree with you, he is a wonderful actor with a fabulous voice. Il est magnifique! (Just a little French for you). Jasper, with regards to your books, are you happy with the way your story was told?

JTM: Well I say this all the time. Every moment where I can share my life with others makes me happy. First or third person, movie or book, paintings or photos, and so on makes no difference to me. Jasper is Love and Jasper is Life.


Sharon C. Williams is a native of New England raised in Northern Maine. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. She is also owned by a flock of six birds. Sharon has a B. S. degree in Chemistry. She loves to read, sketch, take pictures, walk, exercise, go to the movies, and listen to music. She is a budding bird watcher, and knits on the side. She is a huge sports fan of baseball, basketball, hockey, and football. She is also a shutterbug and is always looking for the next big shot.

Two of her short stories were published in the anthology, Cassandra’s Roadhouse, which is no longer published. Sharon also has two short stories published in the Dragons in the Attic anthology, which was written by her writing group, The Wonder Chicks. Two short stories in the anthology The Reading Corner: Book One which was released by Fountain Blue Publishing. Her children’s chapter book, Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure, and Jasper: Amazon Friends and Family, were previously released by Fountain Blue Publishing in 2013 and 2015. The second edition of volumes one and two were published by Peculiar Possum in July of 2019. Volume three, Jasper, Amazon Parrot: The Perils of the Jungle, was published by Peculiar Possum on November 27, 2019. Her comedy novel about her war with her backyard squirrels, Squirrel Mafia, was also released in the spring of 2015 by Peaceful Musings Publishing, followed by an anthology titled Everyday Musings, which was published in in 2016 by Lysestrah Press.

Where to find Sharon

New Release Interview with Author Zach Abrams

Author Zach Abrams joins me for this week’s interview about his newest release, 133 Hours. Find out all the details in our interview below.

SJJ: What genre does your newest book fall under?

ZA: Psychological Thriller

SJJ: Is this a genre you normally write in or are you trying something new?

ZA: Both. My fist novel, Ring Fenced was also a psychological thriller but it could hardly have been more different. It was written in the third person with an obsessively controlling male protagonist. By contrast, my new thriller, 133 Hours, is the first time I’ve written a book in first person present tense. Its female protagonist is a victim, desperate to know what’s happened to her.

SJJ: Who is your target audience for this novel?

ZA: My novel is aimed at an audience of fiction loving adults who enjoy suspense.

SJJ: When was your newest book released?

ZA: The scheduled release date for the e-book version was 20 January 2020.

SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.

ZA: ‘Arriving at work to find she’s lost more than five-and-a-half days (133 hours), Briony Chaplin, has no recollection of where she’d been or what had happened to her. She is distraught. Has she been ill, or had a breakdown, or could she have been drugged and abducted?

Doubting her own sanity, Briony is fearful of what she’ll find. Yet she’s driven to discover the truth. When she trawls her memories, she’s terrified by visions, believing she may have been abused and raped.

Assisted by her friends, Alesha and Jenny, and supported by a retired detective, she’s determined to learn where she’s been and why.’

SJJ: Where does the story take place?

ZA: The story is set in and around Glasgow, in Scotland.

SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?

ZA: I awoke one morning, with the concept of a character coming to realise that she’d been missing for several days, where she had no recollection and no one she knew had seen her, or heard from her. Initially, I tried to dismiss the idea, but it persisted. I knew it would form the premise for a book.

SJJ: What kind of research did you have to do?

ZA: I spoke to a range of people with expert knowledge, including medical professionals, police, support officers and social workers. I visited locations I used and, of course, I used the internet.

SJJ: Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?

ZA: For me, giving voice to a twenty-five-old female took a bit of imagination and a lot of help, which was resolved by speaking to others and asking them to check that my efforts sounded authentic.

SJJ: How did you come up with the title? Did you have any other working titles?

ZA: I wanted a title which was different and stood out but would also be relevant to my story. My protagonist was missing for a period of time in excess of five and a half days. This, I calculated, amounted to 133 hours. It seemed right and it’s the only title I’ve used for this story.

SJJ: Who designed the cover? Did you have much input in the design?

ZA: The cover was produced by Cover Mint, commissioned by my publisher Next Chapter. I gave them a synopsis and told them the sort of impression I wanted to make and they took it from there.

SJJ: What is one of your favourite lines or quotes from the book?

ZA: “I know who my real parents are – they’re the ones who’ve cared for me and raised me for the last twenty-five years. Just because some man and woman went through a random act of fornication, resulting in an egg being fertilised, doesn’t make them parents. It certainly doesn’t make them my parents.”

To explain the context – Briony had been adopted at birth and this quote is her response when questioned (insensitively) by the police about her birth parents.

SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene? Please tell us a little about it if you can.

ZA: I enjoyed writing the opening scene of the book, trying to introduce my protagonist while showing her to be vulnerable and in a confused state.

SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?

ZA: The book was mainly written for entertainment but there is a subtext of the importance of honesty and the consequences of trust being breached.

SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?

ZA:133 Hours took longer to write than the title suggests. It took about three months to write the first draft and then was ready for presentation after another two.

SJJ: Who is your favourite character? Your least favourite character?

ZA: Although Briony has, by far, the biggest role, I enjoyed writing the character, Alesha, her newly discovered friend. She’s kind and caring, but there’s a hint of mystery as to her past and her motives.

SJJ: Just for fun! If this book became a movie, who would you like to see play the main character and if there’s a villain, who would play that role?

ZA: I think Margot Robbie would be ideal in the lead as Briony Chaplin. As well as acting ability, having Scottish parents might help her adapt to the location.I do have ideas of who I’d like to play my villain, but as the whole story is about Briony trying to discover the identity of the villain, it would be a spoiler to tell you who it was.

SJJ: Is this book a stand alone or part of a series? If part of a series, please name other published works in the series.

ZA: Stand-alone

SJJ: Please provide links to where your new book can be purchased.

ZA: Available from Amazon – non-geographic link is

Direct to US and UK sites are

Author Bio

Zach Abrams is a writer of thrillers and crime novels. He lives in Scotland but spends much of the year in the Languedoc region of France.

Having an unusually varied education and work history, Zach was equipped with an extensive range of life experiences to draw on when developing his characters and stories. Following a science degree, a management post-grad and a professional accountancy qualification, he spent many years working as a CFO, business director and consultant in a range of industries as varied as transport, ostrich farming, manufacturing and public service.

Although having considerable experience of writing reports, letters and presentations, it’s only fairly recently he started creative writing of novels – “a much more honourable type of fiction,” he claims.
Prior to ‘133 Hours’, he has six novels published plus his collaboration with Elly Grant on a book of short stories and a nonfiction business guide book. So far there are four tartan noir books in his Alex Warren Murder Mystery series, set in his hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.

The first is ‘Made a Killing’. This British Police Procedural features Detective Chief Inspector Alex Warren as the senior investigating officer, assisted by female detective Sergeant Sandra McKinnon and supported by a team of detectives, scene of crime technicians and other specialists. They carry out their investigation after the discovery of the corpse of a much hated criminal, found with an elephant tusk impaled in his chest. Besides the main murder investigation, the team research a range of other criminal activities including financial crime, fraud, blackmail and extortion. Away from the crime investigation, there’s family drama as well as a touch of romance and more than a sprinkling of humour. Readers familiar with the geography of Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, may well recognise locations as the detectives tread their weary path on their way to researching the crimes to solve the mystery.

The second in the series, ‘A Measure of Trouble,’ sees Alex’s team seek the murderer of a CEO, killed within the cask room of his own whisky distillery. There’s no shortage of suspects. Investigations lead them to interview the victim’s family, employees and colleagues as they consider the varied motives of greed, revenge, adultery and nationalism.

The third, ‘Written to Death,’ begins with the mysterious death of a successful author, the murder taking place on stage during a writers’ group meeting. Alex and Sandra are swamped with work as they must deal with a second enquiry, this one into organised crime, and it runs in parallel with the main murder investigation.

The fourth, ‘Offender of the Faith,’ follows the investigation after a young Asian girl was sexually assaulted and murdered in the home she shared with her Scottish boyfriend. With Sandra of work on maternity leave, imminently due to give birth, Alex and his team require to use kid gloves to handle the ultra-sensitive investigation with both the victim and her boyfriend’s families brought under intense scrutiny. Potential motives of racism, islamophobia, hate, jealousy and honour killing all have to be considered. But who is behind the killing… and what is the real reason?

These are fast moving, gripping, murder mystery novels set in and around the tough, crime-ridden streets of Glasgow.

Zach’s first novel was ‘Ring Fenced’, an unusually themed psychological thriller. It’s a crime story with a difference, following one man’s obsession with power and control. The main character, Benjamin, uses five separate personae to independently control the different divisions of his life. The story shows how he juggles the five separate existences and follows what happens when the barriers break down. The anti-hero, Benjamin, was nominated and shortlisted in the category of best villain in the 2013 eFestival of Words.

Zach’s quirky thriller, ‘Source; A Fast-Paced Financial Crime Thriller’ centres on financial crime. It sees three investigative journalists travelling across the UK, Spain and into France. They suspect economic terrorism as they research corruption and sabotage in the banking sector. Resulting from their investigations, they face personal threats and all the time they’re trying to cope with their own fraught private lives. Despite the weighty subject matter, it’s a light and amusing read with plenty of humour, family drama and romance.

A collaboration with Elly Grant produced ‘Twists and Turns,’ a book of short stories, which range from flash fiction to a novella. They all have mystery and an element of the unexpected, with content ranging from Gothic horror to mild comedy.

All of Zach’s books can be purchased from Amazon as eBooks and paperbacks. Audiobook versions of both Ring Fenced and the Alex Warren series are already available and the other titles are in progress.

Alike his central character in ‘Ring Fenced,’ (Benjamin Short), Zach Abrams completed his education in Scotland and went on to a career in accountancy, business and finance. Married with two children, he plays no instruments but has an eclectic taste in music, although not as obsessive as Benjamin. Unlike Benjamin, he does not maintain mistresses, write pornography and (sadly) does not have ownership of a mega internet distributor. He is not a sociopath (at least by his own reckoning) and all versions of his life are aware of and freely communicate with each other. More in keeping with ‘Alex Warren’, Zach was raised in Glasgow and has spent many years working in Central Scotland.

Zach’s Links



Amazon author page

Goodreads page

Publishers author page


Links to Zach’s other books:

Beyond the Story – Yesterday Today Always

Who is stalking Katherine and why?

Still reeling from the death of her husband in the London Bombings, Katherine builds a wall around her heart to prevent further hurt. In a serendipitous moment her first love, Jared Martin walks back into her life. Old feelings are rekindled but as their second-chance-relationship develops, another cruel twist of fate strikes. The helicopter Jared is a passenger on ditches in the North Sea.Who, if anyone, will survive the ordeal? Is fate still not done its dirty deeds?

Will a reckless moment from her past come back to haunt her?

Contains adult content, violence, and strong language. 18+ recommended.

Buy links



I am delighted to have Author Melanie Robertson-King’s character from the novel, Yesterday Today Always, as my guest on Beyond the Story – Character Interview. Let’s get to know this protagonist and her story.
SJJ: Can you please tell us your full name and where you live?

KWM: Katherine Murphy-Whitorn, although I’m in the process of legally dropping the Whithorn bit. Aberdeen, Scotland is the place I call home.

SJJ: Wonderful! I’ve never been to Scotland, but I hope some day I will get the chance. And how do you make your living in Scotland?

KWM: I own a small independent bookstore on Exchequer Row in Aberdeen – As the Pages Turn – perhaps you’ve heard of it?

SJJ: No, I can’t say as I have. But what a lovely name for a bookstore. Have you ever wanted to do anything else?

KWM: Running this store is my dream job. I absolutely love it.

SJJ: Can you tell us, Katherine, something about you that not everyone knows?

KWM: When I was dragged off to Canada (kicking and screaming no less) by my parents, I didn’t fit in at school. I was the outsider, the ginger, the one who talked funny. My best – actually only – friend back then was a stuffed rabbit. (Melanie didn’t even know that, that’s how secret it was).

SJJ: Aw, that’s so sad. Kids can be cruel. But you sure know how to keep a secret, even from your author. Mind you, some of my characters do things I did not expect. So, I guess it’s not that extraordinary. Anyway, I hope things improved.

Switching gears here, what about regrets, do you have any?

KWM: Marrying Colin Whithorn, hence dropping Whithorn. Oops, (claps hand over mouth) I hope I didn’t create a spoiler here. Best leave it at that. If your readers want to know why I said that, they’ll have to buy Melanie’s book to find out.

SJJ: Ha, ha, ha, well played, Katherine. So, readers, if you want more information, you know what you have to do.

When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

KWM: It has to be opening As the Pages Turn and making a go of it. The store is still in profit, despite the roller coaster the economy has been through.

SJJ: That is something to be proud of; running your own business is hard work. So, tell us then, what is your idea of the perfect day?

KWM: Being able to have a lie-in. Staying in my pyjamas all day if I want, not having to put on makeup. Just a lazy day at the flat. And if someone special is with me, it’s even more perfect.

SJJ: That does sound nice. And what do you do to relax?

KWM: This is going to sound crazy since I work with books all day, but I love to curl up on the sofa with a blanket, cup of tea and a novel. My favourite genre is crime, followed closely by women’s fiction, then romance.

SJJ: That’s not crazy at all. That’s a great way to relax after a busy day. And on the flip side, what do you do for fun?

KWM: It usually involves (faraway look appears in eyes) anything with my girlfriend, Stephanie. Shopping, girlie nights in or out at the clubs.

SJJ: Katherine, it sounds like you have a great time when you spend it with friends. What are your plans for the future?

KWM: Marrying my childhood sweetheart, Jared Martin. He was the reason my parents dragged me off to Canada. We’ve since reunited, and although it’s been a rocky road, he’s proposed.

SJJ: Congratulations! I hope you and Jared have a long and happy life together. Katherine, if a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

KWM: Well, except she’s dead, Maureen O’Hara. Her hair was about the same colour as mine, I loved her Irish accent (not Scottish, but still has a nice lilt), and in any of the films I’ve watched her in, she’s got a fiery personality to go along with her red hair.

SJJ: Who knows, with today’s technology, CGI and whatever else there is out there, that is a possibility.

Thank you, Katherine, you are lovely person, and I am happy to have met you today. I wish you the best of luck with your bookstore and of course your future with Jared.

Author Bio

A native of eastern Ontario, during her pre-school years, Melanie Robertson-King lived in a winterized cottage on the shore of the St Lawrence River. Before starting school, her family moved to Brockville where she received her education, including a post-secondary degree in Computer Programming.

Growing up as an only child, Melanie was an avid reader and remains so to this day. She knew then one day she would be a writer. When she wasn’t talking about her dream of becoming an author, she wrote stories and began honing her skills at an early age.

Melanie’s father was a Scottish national. He came to Canada as a ‘Home Child’ through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland. She promised herself that one day her feet would touch the soil in her father’s homeland. That first trip was in 1993, and she’s not looked back since, having returned to the auld country a further eleven times and is looking forward to trip number twelve. On one of her many trips to Scotland, Melanie had the honour of meeting Princess Anne (The Princess Royal) at the orphanage where her father was raised.

Encouraged to study Highland Dancing, she competed locally. Her final competition took place during the summer of 1969, a few short months after her father’s death, at the 1000 Islands Highland Games. In that last event, she won the Silver Medal in the Sword Dance.

Melanie began her professional writing career in non-fiction. She published eight of her articles. One graced the cover of an international publication. At the same time, she continued to develop her writing voice: short stories as well as novel-length work.

When she’s not sequestered in her cave writing, plotting or editing, you’ll find her out about. In addition to writing, she loves to travel, prowl through cemeteries (the older, the better), and photography.

Melanie’s Links



Connexions Blog

Facebook Author Page


Twitter @RobertsoKing

Beyond the Story – Sea Scope

Sarah Collins needs an escape. Mourning her brother’s death and the impending breakup of her marriage, she returns to her childhood home in South Carolina, where her family operated an inn.

Sarah hasn’t been back to Sea Scope for twenty years; not since she and her brother Glen discovered a body by the nearby lighthouse. She never understood why her parents left Sea Scope so suddenly, or the reasons behind her father’s suicide.

After Sarah returns to the inn, she faces long-buried memories, text messages and strange clues. Something is not right in Sea Scope. Reunited with people from her past, she tries to figure out what’s going on in her childhood home.

When past and present collide, Sarah must face truths about her family, and what happened that summer day by the lighthouse. But will she survive to tell the tale?

Welcome to another Beyond the Story character interview. Joining me is a character from Debbie De Louise’s novel, Sea Scope.

SJJ: Good morning, can you please tell the readers today your full name and where you live?

SC: My name is Sarah Collins. I live on Long Island but am originally from South Carolina.

SJJ: And what do you do for a living, Sarah?

SC: I’m a children’s book illustrator.

SJJ: Now, that sounds like a fun job. Is this your dream job or is there something else you’d like to do?

SC: I enjoy what I currently do and would like to continue doing it, but I also hope to be a mother. I consider that a job and one I would be honored to do.

SJJ: Can you tell us what is the biggest obstacle preventing you from achieving your goal?

SC: My husband Derek and I have had trouble conceiving, and he is against fertility treatments.

SJJ: I’m sorry to hear that, but I am sure it will happen for you some day. Now let’s switch gears here and please tell us something about you that not everyone knows.

SC: I discovered a body with my brother when we were children. It was near the lighthouse by the Inn where we lived as children in South Carolina. It was the body of a guest who’d we’d befriended and was thought to be suicide.

SJJ: Wow! That must have been quite a shock. Now you say you lived at an Inn, were there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

SC: My years at Sea Scope with my brother and two friends had a great deal of influence on me. I remember them fondly, even though they were cut short by a tragedy.

SJJ: Sarah, it sounds like you faced some tragic moments as a child yet despite that also have some fond memories. But what about regrets. Do you have any?

SC: I regret that I wasn’t closer to my mother and that I blamed her for being weak and drowning herself in alcohol. I now know the reason she did it and am sorry for all that lost time with her.

SJJ: Sarah, I think you are not alone in your regret. Is there anyone you look up to, consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?

SC: My aunt Julie was always and still is a role model for me. She is strong, independent, and artistic.

SJJ: So, artistic talent certainly runs in your family. Sarah, when you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

SC: When I learned that I was finally pregnant.

SJJ: What??? Well, you had me fooled. I told you it would happen for you. Of course, I had no idea you already are expecting. Congratulations, I am happy for you. Okay, one final question and I will let you get back to your book. Are you happy with the way you told your story?

SC: Yes. I tell most of my story in first person except in the past where it’s told in third person. Some of the other characters also tell their stories in different chapters. You won’t get confused, though. The past and present come together in an interesting way. People have said they enjoyed that, and I like to read stories that are written that way, too.

SJJ: Thank you, Sarah. I am happy you could join me today on Beyond the Story.

Author’s Bio:
Debbie De Louise is a reference librarian at a public library. She is a member of the Cat Writers’ Association, The Long Island Author’s Group, Sisters-in-Crime, and International Thriller Writers and the author of seven novels including the four books of her Cobble Cove cozy mystery series. Her latest release, Sea Scope, is a psychological mystery.

She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and three cats.

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