D. writes stories she wants to read. Her love of the worlds of fiction led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, crafting, watching anime, Korean television or old movies. She may also be getting her geek on while planning her next steampunk cosplay with friends.She lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John), retired guide dog (Samwise) and cat (Yin).
1. What are you reading at the moment? Would you recommend it to readers of this blog? Why?
I’m reading Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s by Frederick Lewis Allen. It’s research for the story I am working on. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about the 1920s from someone who lived through it. It’s pretty unique because it was published in 1931, so readers get a view of what it was like after WWI and though the ‘20s without the subject being overshadowed by WWII. It’s also great for people who love history but hate reading history books. The author does an awesome job of making the subject easily consumable.
2. Tell us something about how you write? i.e. are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have any weird or necessary writing habits or rituals?
I usually wait for ideas to come to me. I know when an idea is ready to be pursued when I can think of at least ten plot points. Sometimes, an idea is ready, but my characters aren’t prepared to go on their journeys. When I do start writing, I always write everything out by hand first. I use a leather journal my Dad gave me. It has an inscription on the front that reads “Hakuna Matata,” which is what my Dad always tells me when I am stressing out. After I have written a chapter, I type it, editing as I go. Then, I read the chapter again and edit more. After which, I beg my husband to read it and edit it. When all of my chapters are finished, typed and proofread, I reread the entire manuscript and edit some more. That’s usually when I’m ready for beta readers.
3. Could you tell us a bit about Conjuring Zephyr?
Conjuring Zephyr is about a post-apocalyptic world where men are considered far superior in their magical abilities than women. It is believed that of the four elements, only fire can be created. Kai is a young woman who is determined to prove air can also be created and women are capable of higher forms of magic. Instead of going to the finishing school where her parents sent her, she disguises herself as a boy and goes to the best all-male university. She is convinced she can keep her femininity under wraps, but discovers it isn’t as easy as she thought. While she may look boyish and ride the assumption that no woman could ever get into the school, her empathetic personality draws her schoolmates to her and makes the situation more complicated. On top of everything, her sexuality begins to awaken when surrounded by men in a comfortable environment. She makes friends, wins hearts, and chases her goal.
4. Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
Asking this is a little like asking whom your favorite child, or in my case furbaby, is. It’s way too difficult to decide. I love each of my characters for their individual personalities. I love Kai because she is driven but doesn’t let that shadow her compassion. I love Flynn because he is fun and spontaneous, and I wish I could be more like that. I love Reid because of his hidden depths. I love Leif because…actually Leif is just adorable all the way around. I love Ryn because he will do anything for love. I love Des because he needs love the most. Finally, I love Dane because he is the only one who maintains propriety, even though it brings him tragedy.
5. What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
The mood swings. Before I embraced writing, I was usually a happy person. When I am working on a story, I really beat myself up, though I beat myself up more when I am not writing. I will write a chapter and feel great about it, but the next day I will think it is the worst thing I have ever written. There are so many famous artists who struggle with depression or succumb to it. It makes me wonder if creative people are prone to being depressed or if the act of creating makes people depressed. On the other hand when I finish a book, I feel amazing. It’s like no other joy I have ever experienced.
6. What is your favorite writing tip or quote?
“Write the stories you want to read but haven’t been written yet.” This advice was given during an author panel at C2E2. It’s what really inspired me to finally write a long story.
7. Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Do you have any other books in the works?
I will continue writing for as long as the muses bless me with ideas. My second novel is ready to go. I am just deciding which avenue is the best for publication. It’s a steampunk fantasy romance with faeries, pirates, traveling players and airships. My third novel is in the final stages of editing, but so far my beta readers say it’s their favorite. It’s a fantasy romance with faeries and werewolves where vampires are truly bad news. I don’t want to give too much away, but join my mailing list on my website or follow me on Facebook and Google+ for future news.
Where can we find you online? (please cut and paste links):
Kai Stephenson is determined to prove magical principles aren’t set in stone. Having lost her younger brother in a tragic accident, she will ensure such accidents never harm anyone else. She enrolls at the most elite university to gain the knowledge she needs to achieve her goal. Overconfident that living as a boy at an all-boys university will only be a minor inconvenience, Kai is convinced her classmates will never discover that she’s a woman. After all, women aren’t capable of higher forms of magic, and her boyish figure certainly doesn’t hurt her disguise.
Hiding her true identity becomes a problem when her new friends start to awaken her repressed sexuality.
Eventually, I had to do laundry. I went late at night when no one else was likely to be there. There were various types of washing and drying machines in the laundry room. Some washing machines were for water users, while nonwater users had to wash their clothes by hand. There were also drying machines for air users and fire users, while others had to use the manual drying machines.
I was able to wash all of my clothes and load them into the air-drying machine without incident. The air-drying machine was like a closet with vents on both sides and a vat to catch the water at the bottom. The clothes are hung inside, and the air user pushes air through the vents to dry the clothes.
I opened the door to check how dry my clothes were. I still wasn’t that great at creating a strong wind. Maybe I should use the manual drying machine. Just as I was unloading my wet clothes from the air-drying machine, Ryn walked into the laundry room.
Panic stuck in my throat as I stared in horror at the pair of women’s underwear on the top of my pile of clothes. I snatched them and balled them into my fist.
“Oh, hey, Ryn. You are here pretty late.”
His face flushed as he recognized me. “I always come here at this time.”
I quickly loaded my clothes into the manual drying machine as he put his clothes in the water users’ washing machine. I started to turn the crank that would dry my clothes, facing him as he began manipulating the water in the machine.
He stood, eyes closed, moving his arms in a fluid circular motion. The beauty of his movements captivated me. His body was strong and flexible like a river that could wear down layers of unmovable stone.
I didn’t realize I had stopped cranking until he opened his eyes to unload the washer. His dark eyes found mine without error. They stared at me with an intensity that I didn’t mentally comprehend, but my body reacted like it knew. My stomach dropped, and my limbs tensed. I looked away and used the tension in my body to crank the machine in earnest.
Peeking up at Ryn, I saw his shoulders were tense, and his jaw clenched as he brought his wet clothes to a dryer close to mine. I reached into the dryer and realized my clothes were finally dry. Walking a few steps to grab my basket, I didn’t know the floor was wet by Ryn’s dryer. As my feet slid out from under me, I prepared myself for impact.
Ryn quickly hooked my torso with his strong arm and clutched me to his chest.
I let out the breath I had been holding and looked up into his deep brown eyes, which were inches from mine. I opened my mouth to thank him, but my voice didn’t come out. The intense look he had given me minutes before was nothing compared to the one he wore at that moment.
My whole body flushed. His intensity was soon smothered by embarrassment. Silently, he steadied me on my feet and went back to cranking the drying machine.
Hollowly, I retrieved my clothes and wished him goodnight.
I'd love to hear what you think of these weekly author spotlights. Leave a comment. If you like what you've read, Conjuring Zephyr can be purchased below.