Indie Author Spotlight #12: Meet Katrina Hokule’a Ariel

Indie Author SpotlightThank you for coming back to read more of the Indie Author Spotlight. Today I’m featuring my twelfth author, Katrina Ariel, mom, yogi, musician, writer, designer, etc. I read and loved Katrina’s romance novel (which I might even call women’s fiction), we chat about kids, life, and writing on Twitter, and I’ve even watched her yoga videos! Plus, I get to call her a client! It’s been a privilege to get to know Katrina and support her writing, and I hope your lives will be enriched by hearing her story and reading her books! 

______________________________________________________________________________

Katrina, thank you for participating in the Indie Author Spotlight! Can you talk to us a little about what genres you write in? I’ve sort of hinted at your ability to mix them . . .

I do tend to hop genres and blend them together. My published books are non-fiction and contemporary romance, but most of my unpublished manuscripts are fantasy, sci-fi, and speculative fiction. Whatever I’m writing, there’s always soul searching and magic, even if it’s subtle, and a romantic sub-plot or two.

What motivates you to write? 

Writing gives me a way to express myself that’s my own. It reminds me who I am. And it gives me freedom to adventure anywhere and everywhere in my imagination, which I think is one of life’s greatest joys.

Your adventuring and soul searching have definitely brought great joy to my life, as I thought Wild Horse Heart was a wonderful read. Though my marriage is (thankfully) nothing like Ria’s, I identified with her search for self, with her slow accumulation of confidence and strength, with her role as a mother. Please tell us about Wild Horse Heart and your other published work, Yoga for Dragon Riders.

Wild Horse Heart is a romantic suspense novel set in the film industry that straddles the line between romance and women’s fiction. The action takes place in Hollywood and on location at a horse ranch in Canada, where the plot twines between that of the film they’re making and behind-the-scenes struggles. Available as paperback and eBook: http://amzn.to/2rDZI7Z

Yoga for Dragon Riders is a comprehensive, unorthodox yoga manual written for fantasy lovers. It covers a wide range of practices, with meditation, breathwork, mantra, sacred texts, and philosophic offerings from nature and beyond. It’s beautifully illustrated, with hundreds of photos and detailed descriptions of yoga poses and alignment, as well as sequences that can be modified to suit a home practice. The paperback version is recommended, but an eBook can work if you need to travel light. http://amzn.to/1a2g3Dq

Yoga for Dragon Riders sound so interesting! I’m going to add it to my wish-list (hint hint, family and friends!). Earlier you mentioned that writing is a way to express yourself; has this always been the case? 

I’ve always been a daydreamer. Poetry got me through my teen years, and songwriting got me through my twenties. I started writing full-length manuscripts with a laughable first attempt at a screenplay in 2010, and learned a lot from that. In 2012 I published my yoga manual, at the height of my teaching career. And then I had kids. I’ve written all nine of my novels since being pregnant with twins six years ago.

Wait, you’ve written NINE novels since becoming a parent? How do you manage to pull that off?!

Balancing writing and parenting is a constant challenge. I’m lucky to have a spouse who has worked a job to support us all, so I could be with my kids. Due to the pandemic, neither of us are working, so that’s a thing, but I count my blessings every day that we live in Canada, where we have good support systems. It’s nice to have this time together as a family, but sometimes I feel guilty not spending time with my kids when I want to write.

I’ve always been a night owl, and tend to stay up obscenely late to get my words in, which is often when I do my best writing. Of course, the danger of repeated late nights is turning into Zombie Mommy and slipping into a degrading mental space, so I make myself go to bed earlier than my creative drive wants some nights. My saving grace is the fact that my twins are five now, and able to look after themselves when they wake up, so I can sleep in. Hallelujah!

Mom-guilt is a real struggle, I totally understand; same goes for me with my editing and blogging. When you do get that late-night writing time, what new things are you working on?

So many projects. I have a series I’m hoping to self-publish in the next year or so—a fantasy romance saga set in the Highlands of Scotland, the rugged Teton mountains, the edge of the Nordic sea, and the Realm of the Gods. I was planning to get it ready for release in 2020, but I’ve pushed myself to meet unreasonable publishing deadlines before, and the stress isn’t worth it. I’ve been writing this series for six years. I’m going to take my time to make it every bit as special a story as it deserves.

I’m also in the process of revising a handful of manuscripts with the intention of querying and pursuing traditional publishing. I have an epic fantasy with a slow-burn romance that would appeal to fans of Kristin Britain’s Green Rider and Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars. Next in line is a sci-fi with elements of Rogue One, Doctor Strange, and Moana. And on the back burner, scratching at my mind with dragon claws, is a future fantasy with mage-warriors and mythical creatures that has the grit of The Arrow and the atmosphere of Pirates of the Caribbean.

I’ve decided to publish my fantasy and sci-fi books under the pen name Leia Talon. I chose the name Leia because it’s the last part of my middle name, Hokule’a, and as a tribute to the rebel princess who’s been my idol since I was two. Talon invokes an element of nature, which is super important to me, and adds a bit of swagger I’m hoping gives me confidence when I’m doing author appearances. 😉

You really do cross genres! I’m particularly intrigued by how you’ve worked Moana into your sci-fi, but I will undoubtedly aim to read anything you or Leia Talon (awesome name!) publish! Do you read as widely as you write? 

I read lots of children’s books, as I spend more time reading to my kids than I get reading by myself. Some children’s books that I love: I Am Enough by Grace Byers, I’m in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor, and Of Thee I Sing by Barak Obama.

For myself, I tend to read fantasy more than anything, preferably with a romantic sub-plot. Some semi-recent personal favorites are Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Claire, and Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine. Classics that will always be on my shelf include Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Fionavar Tapestry, Christopher Moore’s Lamb, the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce, and the stories that shaped me as a child: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

As far as indie authors go, I highly recommend A Thousand Years to Wait by L. Ryan Storms. My current read is Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse.

I’m amazed that I have not read any of the books you listed, except for the Chronicles of Narnia. I now have a lot to add to my TBR – and I’ll definitely check out the kids books you recommended! I’m always looking for different things to read the kids! Now, I’m going to ask — when you’re not writing, reading to your kids, or doing yoga, what do you do (besides sleep, ha!)?

I love hiking. Being in the quiet of a forest is my medicine. Paddle boarding on a peaceful lake is another treat when I find the time. I try to garden, which I mostly enjoy, but I don’t really know what I’m doing.

I’m a musician, and love to sing, especially while hiking—Disney-princess style. My guitars and piano are largely ignored as I focus on writing, but I play when I can. Music feeds the soul.

Another of my passions is rescue animals. I advocate for local rescues and donate locally and internationally as I can. A portion of proceeds from the sales of Wild Horse Heart goes to a wild Mustang sanctuary that also offers horse therapy programs to help those recovering from trauma. I’ll just drop their website here in case anyone’s feeling generous. Even small donations help: https://wildhorserescue.org/

Wow – so much! What the forest does for you, the ocean does for me, though I’ve probably spent more time in the forest than by the ocean in the past many years. Also, I could definitely get behind some Disney-princess style singing in the outdoors! You seem to bring a lot of creativity and passion to whatever you do, and that is evident in what I’ve seen of your writing. What would it look like for you if you were to achieve your dream as a writer? 

The ultimate dream would be to have a slew of books that inspire readers, and for them to be successful enough to allow me to write for a living. I’d love to have one or more of my stories be turned into a film or series, even better if I can work behind the scenes on set! But really, just making enough that I could support my family and drop generous donations to charities I care about would rock my world. These goals seem like a reach right now, so I remind myself that the most important thing is for people to connect with my books, and find something in the words that makes their souls soar.

If that’s the case, you’ve accomplished what’s most important. Is there anything else you’d like for readers to know about you? 

I turned 42 this year, and I’ve been contemplating the questions of Life, the Universe, and Everything. My answers are: humility, kindness, and nature.

Please help Katrina reach the rest of her author dream by picking up copies of her books. At the very least, connect with her online for some positiveness and light in your life!

Wild Horse Heart: http://amzn.to/2rDZI7Z

Yoga for Dragon Riders: http://amzn.to/1a2g3Dq

Website: http://katrinaariel.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatrinaAriel

YouTube (music and yoga videos):  https://www.youtube.com/user/YogaWithKatrina

 

______________________________________________________________________________

Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at kristin@theedifyingword.com!

Indie Author Spotlight #11: Character Development – A Guest Post by Victoria Jayne

Indie Author SpotlightToday’s Indie Author Spotlight takes a different format than the interviews I’ve been featuring here. I’m excited to share today a guest post from indie author Victoria Jayne, in which she shares with us some of her thoughts on character development. It’s fascinating to me to learn how different authors approach getting to know their characters, and to see the effort put into developing convincing characters. As a reader and an editor, I appreciate Victoria’s comments about really knowing your characters, even though every detail of their backstories won’t make it into the book. I learned about some interesting character development resources, and I hope you will, too!

______________________________________________________________________________

VJ Headshot 022020.jpg

Victoria Jayne writes paranormal romance – the third book in her Prophecy Trilogy releases in September! – and is currently working on a contemporary romance series. Growing up on the Jersey Shore (like me!), Victoria was an insatiable reader. She adored getting lost in the worlds others created for her. Writers from R.L. Stein and S.E. Hinton to Anne Rice and Elisabeth Naughton spawned her love affair with both the romance genre and the world of the supernatural.

Victoria started writing as a hobby while still in high school. Now her days are spent writing and enjoying time with her husband and her two children. She still lives in New Jersey. She is a New Jersey Devils Hockey fan, an avid SecondLife Roleplayer, and a Netflix binge-watcher.

 
On Character Development, by Victoria Jayne:

Where do your characters come from? Are your characters based off people you know? How do you create characters? If you’re a writer and have informed people of this, I haven’t a doubt in my mind you’ve gotten these questions, or some variant of them. Character creation is the true magic of being a storyteller. Conjuring someone in my mind and then conveying that person so well they become living and breathing in the minds of another person is the reason I write. It’s an indescribable high that I chase with each story I write.

I’m going to lift the veil slightly by describing how I come up with my characters. By sharing how I come up with characters I hope it helps all you writers out there struggling to either develop or add depth to your own. For me, character comes before the story. Someone takes hold of my mind, commands my attention, and starts sharing things about themselves with me. As I learn more about this fictional person, a plot develops and thus a story is born. See, magic!

I’m a very visual person. When I have the urge to write but nothing is coming to me, I scroll through some visual outlets and wait until someone grabs me. I follow a few photographers on Facebook and Instagram; Michael Stokes posts some stunning photos that have tickled my brain. I’ve also used Shutterstock once I have a basic idea of what sort of genre I’m looking to write in. While planning The Witch of the Prophecy I utilized Pinterest a lot. My character boards were filled with images of the particular people who inspired my characters, and also of cultures. Divina Bihari, the main character of this book, is a witch. In my mind, she was of Romani descent. I dug into this a bit and my Pinterest board had images of Romani women, their cultural clothing, and the wooden vardos they were known to reside in.

Another way I got into the mindset of Divina, to learn how she thinks, and what motivates her was by searching story starters. Some of the story starters available are quotes, things people say. I was drawn to snarky comments that held a bit of sass. AFakeRedHead.com had a lot of writing prompts that shaped Divina.

Another strategy I utilized when shaping characters is filling out character development sheets. You can find dozens of these sheets by simply googling “character development sheets.” I believe these are commonly used for roleplay games such as Dungeons and Dragons. One that I utilize is available on https://www.writerswrite.co.za/ . It’s from their blog post dated March 19, 2017 titled: Character Interview – A Worksheet for Beginners.

The final thing I do when developing my characters is participate in a Twitter hashtag conversation. #WriterlyWIPChat is a beautiful resource that allows you to think about your character in ways that will shape them. They ask you questions about your character like their favorite color, favorite band, song, etc. Some of the questions get a bit more personal like “who will your character kiss?” Not only is this fun and gets you involved in the writing community out there, it also helps you to get closer to your characters. Collecting details about my characters makes them more real to me. When I learn about their quirks, discovering who doesn’t take the time to match their socks versus who meticulous pairs and rolls their socks in their dresser, can shape how I convey this character in the story. Every detail you list or learn about your character doesn’t make it into the story. There are some things that just don’t fit into the story. Though, sometimes, things that you never thought of will find their way in there. By adding depth to your characters, it allows your readers to connect with not only the character, but their plight, and the story you are telling. Dynamic characters will never let you down. They will engage your reader for sure!

Find Victoria Jayne:                                                                                       

Website:  https://www.authorvictoriajayne.com/                                           

Twitter and Instagram: @AuthorVictoriaJ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18610623.Victoria_Jayne

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/victoria-jayne.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVictoriaJayne/

Find Victoria’s books at Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Amazon, Google Play, and iBooks.

______________________________________________________________________________

Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at kristin@theedifyingword.com!

Indie Author Spotlight: It’s Launch Week for Aimee Shaye

Indie Author SpotlightWelcome to week EIGHT, which is awesome! I’m still learning so much and loving getting exposed to new indie authors on a regular basis. I’m definitely opening myself up to different genres, and I hope you will, too. My favorite part, though, is to get to know the person behind the books – what makes them tick? As I learn more about them, it’s a lot of fun to see how parts of each author emerge in their writing. There’s a lot more to come, so please keep coming back and supporting the wonderful people who have signed up to chat with me!   

______________________________________________________________________________

Aimee's NEW NEW Logo V3.jpgToday I’m bringing you a conversation with Aimee Shaye, whose new book, The Broken Daughter, launched this past weekend after Aimee took a two-year hiatus from publishing. You’ll find Aimee to be very open about her struggles, and how they shape her life, which is so brave and encouraging to others (like me) who battle our own mental illnesses. In the spirit of full disclosure and to follow Aimee’s lead, I have to be honest and say I did not finish reading The Broken Daughter; the book has a lot of emotion tumult and dark magic, and I’m in too emotionally-vulnerable of a place right now. I felt like I was taking on all of Aymeri’s fears and insecurities, which is a testament to the fact that her character is powerfully written. So, I made the difficult decisions to DNF, but still wanted to share Aimee’s work with all of you because I am impressed by her strength and honesty. When I asked her what she wanted readers to know about her, this is what Aimee said: 

I want readers to know that I am just like them. I’m not anything special. I suffer from depression and anxiety. I have made many bad choices in my life. But I stay grounded by my family, by my husband. To me, family is everything and to find friends in your family is magical. I write for myself, not for what is going to sell. I want them to read my books and get a semblance of what my life is like beyond the pages. 

Wow. Thanks for joining me, Aimee, and being so candid. Can you start by telling us what genre you write?

I write fantasy, and just published The Broken Daughter. About two years ago, I published two romance books based on a previous emotionally abusive relationship because I needed it out of my system. Then I took two years off to recuperate and find my true self. I also have stories in a few anthologies; you can find all of my published works on my Amazon author page.

Have you, like many authors I’ve profiled here, always written? 

I was very young when I started writing. I started making up stories when I was eight years old. One particular memory I have is going to my mom’s bank where she worked. It was summertime and it was take-your-daughter-to-work day. I was sitting at Mom’s desk and wrote a story about a girl going on an adventure with animals. Everyone in the office asked for copies so my mom taught me how to use the copy machine. I have no idea where the original copy is, though! I wish I did! Then it got really serious in high school. I published a poem and short story under my real name in a high school catalog of writers. Then in 2014, I published again. It was my first fantasy novel and I did it because my ex told me I’d never amount to anything. It got stellar 3-5 star reviews but the poor editing (due to my rush of proving him wrong) was always commented on. I finally took it down this year and I am rewriting it.

That is so brave of you, and I look forward to seeing your rewritten book! You mention that you wrote your romance novels to get things out of your system. Is writing cathartic for you? How do you fit writing time into your life? 

It is. I write because it makes me happy. When I get depressed or anxious, it helps me to cope. Whenever I have free weekends, I spend as much time as I can writing. My day job is as a teacher and I plan my lessons a month in advance, making small tweaks here and there. All of my grading gets done at work. So I also write during the week when my night winds down around 9 or 10. 

You clearly devote a lot of time to your writing! What else is important in your life?

I am married and live with my parents so these are two very important things in my life beside my job and writing. It’s an easy balance because my husband is a graphic designer and he helps me write (he’s a great writer who refuses to admit it). I also have three nephews who are constantly at my house since my siblings live mere blocks away!

Ok, now please tell us about your new release! 

The Broken Daughter (The Cursed Kingdom Book 1) by [Aimee Shaye]Of course! The newest book I am releasing is The Broken Daughter. It is the first novel in a trilogy titled: The Cursed Kingdom. This book took me six months to write and I could not be more proud of it! The main character in the book is Princess Aymeri Maudlin. She believes she is an ordinary princess, until it turns out that she is not. She’s actually the Princess of a Sentinel Kingdom, Dramolux, whose royalty has long protected the world from all magick. At the start of the novel, she finds her mother dead and things go downhill very quickly from there. I don’t want to give too much away but there is magic and strong female leads. The men take a backseat here.

All right, like I said, the emotions are powerfully written, and I think a lot of people will be able to identify with Aymeri (even though we’re not magical). Can we wrap up by hearing your author dream?

Just to sell books. As long as I sell a couple, I consider it success! I just love writing so much.

Ok friends, let’s help Aimee Shaye’s author dream come true and buy her books. You can find Aimee at the following places: 

Website  —  Facebook  —  Twitter  —  Instagram  —  Pinterest  

And the following cover images will take you directly to where you can purchase her books:

The Broken Daughter (The Cursed Kingdom Book 1) by [Aimee Shaye]  Silenced by [Aimee Shaye]  Have Mercy by [Aimee Shaye, Matthew Picinich] If You're Listening...: A Short Story Collection Kindle Edition  

______________________________________________________________________________

Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at kristin@theedifyingword.com!