Back to School Giveaway!

The weather will be turning cold soon (if it hasn’t already where you are). Cold weather always makes me want to cuddle up with a fuzzy throw, my hot beverage of choice, and a great book.  I can’t think of anything I like more than great books (except for maybe dark chocolate — just sayin’.) So, I’m excited to share this giveaway with you. And it’s really easy to enter!

The Back to School Book Giveaway runs from Sept 26 – October 15 and has FIVE winners! Each winner will receive 10 YA fantasy  novels each — Spark will be in one of those bundles.  Click the Rafflecopter link below, and then follow the link to sign up for my newsletter, True North Tales (I’m number 38 on the list.) That’s it!

If you want more chances to win you can Like some other authors on Facebook or sign up for their newsletters, as well.  Good luck!

Enter here!



Interview with Kristen Stieffel

Today on Jilligan’s Island, we (that’s the royal “we”) are interviewing author Kristen Stieffel. We’re talking writing and books, but most specifically her novel, Alara’s Call which releases this Tuesday (the 19th). It’s a fantastic read.

JI: Welcome, Kristen! I really enjoyed Alara’s Call. Where did you get the idea for it?

KS: Years ago—longer than I care to admit—I had a sort of vision of soldiers and flags, and I started writing to figure out why they were there and what they were doing. The soldiers and flags are still in the story, but no longer in the same scene.

JI: What’s the theme of this story? Why did you choose it?

KS: The theme of this book is from 1 Peter 4:10—“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (NIV). That plays out in multiple ways, but primarily in Alara receiving the gift of prophecy and pursuing it despite opposition.

JI: I loved reading about Alara’s struggle as she learns to use her gift. What did you edit out of this book?

KS: A looooong interlude in the first third of the book that I convinced myself was necessary to the character development and to establish the romantic subplot. Jeff Gerke was my book doctor, and he was brutally honest about how much it slowed the story down and told me to take it out. So I did. But … bwa ha ha … I have plans to repurpose it. So we’ll see how that goes.

JI: Good for you for saving that scene! So, what’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned while writing this story?

KS: That the heroine’s fatal flaws—pride and performance anxiety—are my own. Who knew?

JI: It’s amazing how those issues show up in our writing. What was the hardest scene to write?

KS: The fight scene in which those soldiers capture Alara. Sorry, that’s kind of a spoiler, but it’s early in the book, so maybe not too much of one? In the version of the book Jeff read, this scene was like half a page. I skimmed over it. He said “that’s not acceptable” and told me to rewrite it, blow by blow. I did. It took a whole day and several pots of tea, but I did it.

JI: That scene was intense!  Speaking of the fight scene, how did you get in touch with your “inner villain” to write the antagonist ?

KS: I’m a firm believer that the best villains think they’re the good guys. Given the culture I’d created for the villains, I put myself in the place of the lead villain and tried to make him a “good soldier,” at least as his culture would define those terms.

JI: You did a great job with the villain — I hated him! Have you always liked to write? When did you start writing?

KS: I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. My mother tells me my cousin and I used to make up stories together when we were 3-4 years old.

JI: Aw, that’s cute. 🙂 What are you reading now?

KS: Oh, man. I don’t want to name names. But I picked up a historical romance because it was on a Kindle promo and I tell you—the characters are charming, but the book is so loaded with typos it’s hard to read. It pains me, because there’s nothing wrong with this book that a copyeditor couldn’t fix. But the author clearly didn’t take the time and expense to hire one, at least not one who knew what she was doing. So this lovely story is marred by all these easily fixable mistakes. It’s a shame.

JI: I bet your inner editor was going nuts! Aside from “keep writing,” what’s your best advice for aspiring writers?

KS: Focus on the big-picture things first. Character. Plot. Structure. If you write a great story with engaging characters, a copyeditor can fix your grammar. But if the story’s lacking, it won’t matter how elegant your sentences are. Needless to say, I learned this lesson the hard way.

JI: You did a great job with the characters in Alara’s Call — they pulled me right in. What does your writing space look like?

KS: Here’s a picture, since you caught me before I dismantled the computer to put it away for Hurricane Irma.

JI: Much neater than my writing area! Do you do any other creative activities other than writing?

KS: I’m a knitter. My ex used to give me grief about this because we live in Florida, but seriously, most of our sweaters are worn indoors because the air conditioning is so cold!

JI: Too funny! Does writing energize you or exhaust you?

KS: It energizes me! Once I get going, I can go—and have gone—all night long. My counselor recently gave me “permission” to work until three in the morning if that’s when I’m at my best. So I often do!

JI: Wow — I’m usually asleep after midnight. So, what’s your favorite part of writing?

KS: Reading something I forgot I wrote and saying “That’s really good!”

JI: Lol –that’s always a nice surprise when that happens. If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

KS: Focus on the big-picture things first. Character. Plot. Structure.

JI: Thanks so much for stopping by Jilligan’s Island, Kristen!


Want more information on Alara’s Call: The Prophet’s Chronicle, One?

Tales are often told of heroes who fulfill ancient prophecies. Alara’s Call is the tale of a woman who gives new ones.

Alara sees visions of other’s futures, but never her own. A young clergywoman with a fiery passion for her Telshan faith, she has been assigned to a mission abroad but longs to lead a congregation in her homeland. Her father, the prime minister, jeopardizes her dream and her safety when he coerces her into what he calls a diplomatic mission.
But it’s a ruse.
The trip is meant to end with her marriage to the crown prince of a foreign nation, where members of Alara’s faith are persecuted and women oppressed. All for a trade agreement her father is desperate to enact.
But her mentor intervenes and takes Alara to Dorrel, the suitor she left behind. They believe they are safe, but foreign soldiers are under orders to bring Alara to the king’s
palace…by any means necessary.

 So who is Kristen Stieffel?

Kristen Stieffel is a freelance editor and writer who specializes in speculative fiction.
Although she edits projects in varied genres for both the general market and the Christian submarket, she is a novelist at heart. Member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Christian Editor Connection, mentor with Word Weavers International, and on the planning committee for Realm Makers, Kristen stays busy doing what she loves most. She is also the associate editor of Havok, a flash-fiction magazine focused on science fiction and fantasy. Visit to learn more about this many-faceted author.

Still can’t wait? (Sorry, you’ll have to — just a few more days.)

Alara’s Call (ISBN: 978-1-943788-19-4) will be available on September 19 at
Stop by the Facebook Launch Party on September 21, 2017, for fun, laughter, and some cool prizes! (

A Late Bloomer

I’ve been away from my blog for too long. So, I felt perhaps this post might be a good way to say hello, and to tell you what I’ve been doing lately.

I went for a walk today. The warm sun, the cool breeze, puffy clouds in the sky which brought rain later on—it was the perfect fall morning. We don’t see too many of them like that here in central Pennsylvania.

On my way back home, I cut through a wooded area. It’s been cleaned up, so there’s no underbrush, just spongy moss, some early fallen leaves, and wild chicory underfoot. A flash of white caught my eye. It was a daisy, petal perfect with a sunny yellow center. It was alone among the toadstools that show up every fall. I couldn’t resist picking it, then looking for its brothers or sisters. Finally, I saw a handful clustered around a big tree. These few daisies were late bloomers. Like me.

Usually, the term “late bloomer” refers to puberty, but I’m referring to my “blooming” in another area — the publishing arena. I began writing in 1995, right after I married my husband. The following years produced three Christian romance novels (unpublished), two children, and one jewelry design business. After my last child was born, I began to write more widely—poems, essays, and a YA portal fantasy. When I tally up my writing time, it took seventeen years to become a published novelist. I don’t regret any part of my journey because God put me where I needed to be, when I needed to be there.

So if you’re struggling and wondering if you should give it all up, ask yourself a few important questions:

  • How much do you enjoy your writing? Could you stop at any time and be happy? Because if you could, you probably should. This profession is difficult, and you have to love it.
  • Are you writing to become rich and famous? If that’s your goal, you need to rethink your career path. Most writers don’t get paid much. J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan are the exception, rather than the rule.
  • How long are you willing to work at your craft? If you feel you should be published a year or two after starting, you’ll be disappointed. You can never stop learning, and it takes time to learn the rules. Most of us have “paid our dues,” a period of time which may last for years. There’s no room for entitlement in this career.

Those questions didn’t scare you off? You’re still here? Great! I pray God blesses your journey. Early, mid-, or late bloomers, we all have a story to tell. I can’t wait to read yours.

Cover Reveal for Alara’s Call by Kristen Stieffel

Cover reveals are so much fun! I love seeing the beautiful book covers and learning about the books that are soon to be published. Alara’s Call by Kristen Stieffel is no different.  But before I drop the gorgeousness all over this post, let me share the back cover blurb with you.


Tales are often told of heroes who fulfill ancient prophecies. Alara’s Call is the tale of a woman who gives new ones.

Alara sees visions of other’s futures, but never her own.

A young clergywoman with a fiery passion for her Telshan faith, she has been assigned to a mission abroad but longs to lead a congregation in her homeland. Her father, the prime minister, jeopardizes her dream and her safety when he coerces her into what he calls a diplomatic mission.

But it’s a ruse.

The trip is meant to end with her marriage to the crown prince of a foreign nation, where members of Alara’s faith are persecuted and women oppressed. All for a trade agreement her father is desperate to enact.

But her mentor intervenes and takes Alara to Dorrel, the suitor she left behind. They believe they are safe, but foreign soldiers are under orders to bring Alara to the king’s palace…by any means necessary.


Doesn’t that sound fantastic?

Kristen Stieffel is a freelance editor and writer who specializes in speculative fiction. Although she edits projects in varied genres for both the general market and the Christian submarket, she is a novelist at heart. A member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Christian Editor Connection, mentor with Word Weavers International, and on the planning committee for Realm Makers, Kristen stays busy doing what she loves most. She is also the associate editor of Havok, a flash fiction magazine focused on science fiction and fantasy. Visit to learn more about this many-faceted author.

So now that you know about the author, are you ready for the beautiful cover?
It’s so pretty….
Okay, let me just put this right here.



I can’t wait to read this book and learn more about it! So mark your calendars because the Facebook party will be Thursday, September 21, 2017.

Interview with Kat Heckenbach … and a giveaway!

Hi! Welcome to the Island! My friend  Kat Heckenbach stopped by, so I did what I usually do when I get around a fellow author — we talked books! But specifically we talked about her newest book, Relent. Don’t forget to comment below to enter into the giveaway. She’s giving away an e-file of Relent to a lucky reader!


Hi, Kat! Thanks for joining me today. Tell our readers a little more about yourself. Have you always liked to write? When did you start writing?

I didn’t start writing until I was in my thirties. I’d grown up thinking of myself as only an artist. I loved to draw, and figured that was my area of talent and creativity and never gave writing a try. But, eventually, I started feeling like something was missing and talked to my husband about it. He said, “I told you if you want to write a book I’ll be supportive.” My reply: “I never said that.” Him: “Yes, you did.” Wow. I took a few days to ponder his words, and then sat down one Wednesday morning (weird how I remember specifically the day of the week, but not the date) in 2008 and started writing chapter one of what eventually became my first published novel, YA fantasy Finding Angel.

Your husband is so supportive! What keeps you writing when inspiration vanishes?

Stubbornness. Seriously. It’s totally an “I started this, I’m gonna finish it” thing. Also, every time I feel like I’m ready to give up, I end up getting an email from someone who loved my books, or a new review, or something else that tells me I belong doing this.

My family and I call these little gifts “God-things,” and they really can keep you going. What does your writing space look like?

I bought this awesome roll-top desk from a friend. It’s the perfect size for my laptop and all my stuff. It has all these cubbies and drawers. And I have it surrounded by artwork. Unfortunately, it has to be located in my dining room, which is also our homeschool room, which is open to the main part of the house, so it’s not very private.

My writing area is in the same spot — dining room. At least it gives us an excuse to eat while working, right? Do you do any other creative activities other than writing?

Yes, yes, and yes. I’m a visual artist as well. I draw (mostly charcoal and regular pencil) and paint (mostly acrylic on canvas). I also make Harry Potter-style wands out of real wood, and I’ve made a few walking sticks/staffs as well. Honestly, I am drawn to all things artsy and creative. I spent years scrapbooking, and I have made my own curtains and cornices, and recovered chair seats, and helped my dad (a contractor) design our bathroom remodel. I’ve also made my own props for costumes, like a paper mache Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors.

I’ve seen your art  — it’s beautiful! How do you select the names of your characters?

I love picking character names, but I don’t have a set method. Some are strictly by “feel”—the name just seems right for the character. Maybe it’s what comes out of my fingers typing on the keyboard when the character is first introduced. The main character in my YA fantasy series (Toch Island Chronicles) is named Angel because my daughter, who was around five at the time, had started naming all her stuffed animals AngelSomething (Angelheart, for example) so Angel was literally the first thing that popped into my head. Oddly, her name becomes relevant later in the story and it would not have worked had I named her something else.

Other names I choose because they have a particular meaning. Also in Toch Island Chronicles, I named a character Dr. Damian because his magic talent is Taming wild animals, and the name Damian comes from a Greek word that means “to tame.” The villain in the story is called Dawric, because a jackdaw is a thieving bird and ric- is the root of Richard, which means “power”—so the villain, who is out to steal magic, is “thief of power.”

I have named characters after people I know, usually small side characters and usually last name only. In my newest book, Relent, I gave a cop the last name Carter because a friend with that last name helped me with all the police procedure stuff.

I bet your friend loved being included in Relent like that! So, what slows you down? What’s your writing Kryptonite?

If I have to be honest, it’s distractions like TV and Facebook. I tend to also be someone who wants all the “little stuff” out of the way so I can really concentrate when I sit down to write…and let’s face it, that’s just procrastination.

Yeah, I’m the same way with social media. Just terrible. If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to overcome is not comparing my beginning to someone else’s ending. What I mean is, there are things I’ve just been a natural at – art, math, grammar – and when something didn’t come easy to me, I told myself, “Oh, that’s just not for me.” When I got older, and particularly when I became a parent, a lot of things were really, really hard at first. I looked at parents with older kids and saw how easily something was going with them, and didn’t think that maybe in the beginning it was just as hard as it was for me.

Writing can be the same way. We look at that finished product, someone else’s book, and compare that with our mess of a first draft, and we can get really discouraged. Or, some other author just got a great publishing deal or hit the NYT best seller list, and it registers in our brains as though they were an overnight success. But that author may have just sold their fifth or tenth manuscript after having all the others rejected. Or they may have been submitting and editing and improving for ten or twenty years. It just took me far too long to realize I need to remember that those accomplishments come at the end of a lot of hard work.

That’s an important thing to remember, especially when the writing process gets hard. Where did you get the idea for this book?

Relent started with a short story years ago, a story written for a specific call-out for an anthology. Which I never actually submitted to. I found my story deviating from what they wanted, so I let it take off in another direction. I eventually submitted it to some other markets, and it got published by an online magazine called Absent Willow Review, and won their Editor’s Choice Award for the month it was published.

I loved the characters so much, and at the encouragement of my husband, I decided to make a novel using them. I had to change so, so much, though. Other than physical descriptions and some personality stuff, and their names of course, pretty much everything is different. And I love these new and improved characters even more!

It’s great you were able to stay “in touch” with those beloved characters. What’s the theme of the book? Why did you choose it?

The book is called Relent because it’s about letting go. Not hanging on to your anger or digging your heels in stubbornly just because you think things should be a certain way. Finding out that when you do finally let go, you may discover the thing you were trying so hard for will actually come much easier.

I’m not sure I chose it, though, outside the fact that I tend to be stubborn myself – which can be helpful in a perseverance kind of way, but can be very unhelpful when you’re doing something for the wrong reasons.

I think most stubborn people (myself included) are always learning about letting go. What was the hardest scene to write?

Honestly, all the scenes building the romance between Simone and Reese. The love-hate frenemy stuff between Simone and Wraith came so much more naturally. I write dark. Tapping into anger and angst is easier for me.

You mentioned Simone, your main character. Is she your favorite? Why or why not?

Simone is someone who has always felt like an outsider. When she finds out the truth about herself, it helps her to understand why she’s always felt that way, but it doesn’t give her the tools to deal with it. She has a hard time seeing the good in herself, and it amazes her when someone else sees her as more than physically beautiful.

As for her being my favorite character…I have to admit she’s not. Wraith, her best friend and worst enemy, the demon who tells her the truth about herself, is my favorite. He’s gorgeous for one, when he’s in his human form. But what I love about him is how self-contradictory he is. He’s a demon, so he’s of course bad, but there’s this part of him that won’t let him cross a certain line with Simone. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I won’t go any further there. I will say that I’ve gotten enough feedback from readers to know I’m not alone in my love for Wraith.

Ooh, that’s a teaser of an answer! We’ve learned a lot about you and Relent. But if you’re comfortable doing so, can you give us one fun or interesting fact about yourself others might not know?

This is a fact that only those who have read the acknowledgements in my second Toch Island Chronicles book, Seeking Unseen, would know. One of the two main characters in Seeking Unseen, Melinda, writes a poem, which I include in the book. The poem is completely plagiarized, in a sense. When I was around nineteen or twenty, I was out dancing at a club. At one point, the friend I was there with handed me a napkin with a poem written on it. She said some guy told her to give it to me. I never saw him, have no idea who he was. But I saved that poem, and decided to use it in my book. I’d love to give him credit, of course, but I have no way of doing so. Unless he someday reads my book and recognizes his own words!

Wow! Very cool. Thanks, Kat, for stopping by.

Don’t forget to check Kat out on social media and comment below. She’s giving away a copy of Relent to once lucky commenter!


Kat Heckenbach spent her childhood with pencil and sketchbook in hand, knowing she wanted to be an artist when she grew up—so naturally she graduated from college with a degree in biology, went on to teach math, and now homeschools her two children while writing. Her fiction ranges from light-hearted fantasy to dark and disturbing, with multiple stories published online and in print. Her YA fantasy series Toch Island Chronicles is available in print and ebook. Enter her world at

Social Media Links:







Etsy shop:

Comment below & Enter the giveaway at:


Guest post by Deanna Fugett … and a Scavenger Hunt

Hi! Today, on the Island we’re celebrating with my friend and fellow author, Deanna Fugett. Her YA dystopian debut novel, Ending Fear, releases on the 18th, and this is the fourth stop on her blog tour. I read the book, enjoyed it,  and then promptly endorsed it — it’s that good!

At the end of this blog post, I’ll have all the bookish information you need to grab a copy of your own. I’ll also list the other stops on her blog tour so you can learn more about Ending Fear. And lastly, you’ll have a chance to participate in a virtual scavenger hunt! Find one word per blog stop, which when put together, will make a sentence. One lucky participant who collects all 14 words will receive their own signed copy, as well as the Ending Fear coloring book. (Or an e-book for international participants).

After reading Ending Fear, I sent Deanna an email with a question. Why did you write it? She was nice enough to give me (and now you) an insight into the process.

Why I Wrote Ending Fear

Well, that’s a loaded question. Hmm…quite a few reasons actually. My first reason: I wanted to write a book since I was in 6th grade. Probably before that. I had a love for writing since I got published in a local newspaper at six years of age, so that probably sparked the flame of storytelling within me.

My 6th grade teacher Mrs. Olson had our whole class promise her that we would write a book someday. She never said we had to publish it, but I decided I would take it even further by pursuing publishing. Wasn’t going through all the hard work of writing an entire manuscript just to have it sit in a drawer and never seen by anyone.

A few years back I’d finally come to a place in my life where I felt comfortable with starting the writing process. My fingers had been itching for years, but I wanted to make sure my life was in order before I began this monumental task of novel crafting.

I had been inspired by watching the Hunger Games movie and reading the book. Something about it spoke to me. I didn’t even know what dystopian was at the time, but I knew I wanted to write a book in that realm of thinking. I had never heard of the word dystopian. You can imagine how difficult it was for me to figure out what genre I had actually written once I had finished my rough draft. I hadn’t paid much attention to genres before. I literally judged a book by its cover.

Every time I’d visit a library or a bookstore, if a cover or a back cover blurb sparked my interest, that’s what I’d borrow/buy. Didn’t matter the genre. I didn’t care about that at all. I guess, in a way, it helped me develop a more well-rounded view of writing.

Since I had been well read in multiple genres, I could easily incorporate all the good things from each one into my story, creating a unique perspective. It’s funny because I’ve experienced a tad bit of confusion over this just recently. I was asked by someone to turn in some romantic bits from my story, and they were all “wow, that’s some good romance there, but where’s all the sci-fi techy stuff?” And then when I show my sci-fi techy stuff to someone else they’re all “but where’s the romance?”

See, I have both in my books. But not always in the same parts. So it’s funny. And that’s why I love dystopian so much. You can incorporate the cutesy romance stuff along with the futuristic world building of Sci-Fi. It’s fun.

My main reason for writing Ending Fear was simply the fact that I wanted to write a Hunger Games type book but add more hope. I saw a lack of hope with that series. A lack of morals. A lack of… something more. Inner spiritual struggles, perhaps.

I wanted to create a futuristic world, add dynamic characters and excellent, fun dialogue and manage to infuse God in there somehow. Make it from a Christian worldview, but not make it preachy. I hope I succeeded with that. My betas and critique partners seem to think so. I’m hoping the rest of the world does, too.

Ending Fear came from a place of healing in my own life too. And although I don’t share the same struggles as my main character Fear, I still was able to find healing through writing the words down on the page. Connecting to her character and feeling her feelings.

I wrote this story for me.

I needed this story. I hope there’s people out there that do, too. People who can connect to it.

I wrote this story for you.

For the people who will be touched by the story. I hope it finds you, wherever you are. Helps you to feel something and maybe even come out the other side with something you may not have had before reading it. Maybe hope, peace, bravery? Whatever it is, I pray the story is powerful in your life, and I hope God uses it for His glory.

Thanks, Deanna, for giving us a peek into how Ending Fear came to be.  Below, is some more information on Ending Fear, as well as her blog tour dates — you won’t want to miss them. And don’t forget to participate in the scavenger hunt — the link is at the very bottom of he post!

Ending Fear: Book One of the Gliding Lands

Deanna Fugett

Release Date: July 18, 2017

Paperback: $15.99, eBook: $4.99 (Pre-order Price of $2.99)

Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, LLC

Genre: YA Dystopian, 400 pages, ISBN: 978-1-943788-16-3


From The Back Cover:

Fourteen-year-old Fear learns she was a parachute baby, dumped over the edge of the Gliding Lands as an infant. Fascinated by the floating cities in the sky before, now she’s desperate for answers.

But a slave isn’t likely to get those answers.

When her abusive Downer family throws her from their hovel, Fear takes refuge with a family who shows her love for the first time. Surely they can’t be trusted. Years of abuse and molestation has taught her that. Then her brother discovers where she’s hiding and tries to kidnap her. Fear will never let him touch her again. Her new family conceals her at The Fallen, a ranch that hides parachute babies from the Uppers who discarded them. Just as she’s beginning to embrace yet another home, Fear’s new little sister, Happy, is kidnapped and taken to the Uppers’ temple harem. Fear must go against her namesake, find a working hoverpod, and journey to the dreaded Gliding Lands before the little girl’s innocence is ripped from her forever.

Can she save Happy in time?

And will she find answers to the burning question of why anyone would throw her away?


Deanna Fugett’s heart belongs to writing. Author of edgy YA Dystopian fiction with an underlying message of hope, this stay-at-home mom of four focuses on writing as much as humanly possible. She was published at the young age of six in a local newspaper and is excited to be published again. It only took twenty-six years. She enjoys the thrill of writing fiction that deals with intense topics and prays it will impact people for the better. Visit to learn more about her.

Social Media Links:







Purchase Link (L2L2 website):

Facebook Launch Party : Thursday, July 20, 2017, 7-9 PM MST

And don’t forget to check out the other blog stops!










Interview with Carrie Anne Noble … and a Giveaway!

Today on Jilligan’s Island, our guest of honor is Carrie Anne Noble, author of The Mermaid’s Sister and The Gold-Son. She’s graciously offered to give away a signed copy of The Gold-Son! But first I took the time to ask Carrie a few questions.

J: Welcome, Carrie! Summer is here, so what are you reading now?

C: I’m currently rereading The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. What can I say about this incredible book? It’s YA with dangerous mythical horses that surge out of the sea, a girl bent on saving her family home, a boy determined to win his beloved water-horse, a little romance, a heart-pounding climax, and lovely prose. Sigh.

J: I’ll confess I’ve never read that one, but I’ll have to pick it up from the library. I know The Mermaid’s Sister was well received (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Winner for Young Adult Fiction), but how long did you write before you became published?

C: Although I’ve always enjoyed writing, I didn’t start taking it seriously until about twelve years ago. I wrote my first complete (and completely horrible) novel in 2008. The Mermaid’s Sister (my fifth attempt at a novel) was published in 2015.

J: We’re glad that fifth attempt was published! So, what are your go-to writing resources that could help aspiring authors?

C: I highly recommend the Writing Excuses podcast, any of Jeff Gerke’s writing books (especially The First 50 Pages and Hack Your Reader’s Brain), and the YouTube video series of Brandon Sanderson’s university course on writing science fiction and fantasy. All of these resources teach valuable skills without boring you silly.

J: I agree, Jeff Gerke’s books are excellent! What’s your favorite part of writing?

C: I like the revising stage, when I have a completed story to shape and polish. I write rather sparsely in the first draft, so it’s fun to go back later and expand on sights, sounds, smells, and emotional experiences.

J: Does your writing space help in this regard? What does it look like?

C: I have a little, slant-ceilinged, upstairs office painted green and silvery-gray, decorated with mementos from childhood, a collection of hedgehogs (including a real live one I’m babysitting for an exchange student who’s in Europe), drawings done by my kids, and various things that inspire me. There are lots of Post-it notes and pens scattered about. My window looks out on a lovely maple tree and grassy fields, so I can stare at nature while I daydream and plot.

J: That sounds wonderful. Does writing energize you or exhaust you?

C: It energizes me in a way that makes my kids roll their eyes—because I get very loopy and silly when I’m deeply involved in a project. I try to behave in front of strangers, but I did have my son help me act out a fight scene in front of my other son’s new girlfriend once last fall. She wasn’t half as disturbed as he was.

J: That’s too funny! Do you do any other creative activities other than writing?

C: I enjoy baking and sewing. It doesn’t happen often, but I really love creating costumes (and wearing them!).

J: Ooh, I’d love to see pictures of some of your creations. I have a few questions about The Gold-Son. Where did you get the idea for this book?

C: One morning six years ago, I was gazing out the window and saw the bearded gentleman who strolls past my house daily with his walking stick and faithful dog. For some reason I thought to myself, What if he’s really a leprechaun looking for a place to bury his gold?  I let that question ferment in my imagination until autumn, when I wrote the first version of The Gold-Son as my National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project.

J: What made you select this setting?

C:The leprechauns made me do it! They needed to be in Ireland at the beginning, since that’s their homeland. I chose the small town Pennsylvania setting for the second part of the story because it was fun to plop a leprechaun into my personal corner of the world.

J: Hmm, I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for leprechauns then. 🙂 What’s the theme of this story? Why did you choose it?

C: I usually don’t consciously choose themes ahead of writing the story, but in retrospect I’d say the major theme of The Gold-Son is “don’t let your circumstances dictate who you become and how you act, but instead choose to do what’s right and to be the very best version of yourself.”

J: That’s a great message to share with readers. Did you ever consider any other titles for this manuscript? Or was this your first choice?

C: Back in 2011, the original title was The Leprechaun’s Penny. Another version was called To Catch a Leprechaun. My last working title was Once A Leprechaun. In the end, my publisher chose The Gold-Son—which I really like. They wanted to avoid having “leprechaun” in the title because they didn’t want potential readers to expect a cheesy leprechaun tale (i.e. Lucky Charms guy frolicking about at rainbow’s end and giggling).

J: Good point! Finally, what’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned while writing this story?

C: The inestimable value of a good editor! Although Marianna Baer was previously my developmental editor for The Mermaid’s Sister, this experience was totally different. This time, she pushed me so much harder to be a better writer, rejecting every cliché and every bit of lazy storytelling she found. It was grueling  work ( I admit I shouted at the computer monitor on numerous occasions), but I came out on the other side feeling like I’d grown by leaps and bounds as a writer and as a person—all because she demanded more from me than I knew I could do. I’m grateful beyond description for all Marianna did for The Gold-Son and me.

J: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Carrie!

Below are Carrie’s social media sites, so drop by and say hi. Also, I have the beautiful cover of The Gold-Son. Don’t leave without signing up for the giveaway!

More about the Author:

In the wake of her thrilling past as a theater student, restaurant hostess, certified nurse aide, and newspaper reporter, Carrie Anne Noble has turned to writing novels and short stories. Her debut novel The Mermaid’s Sister won the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Young Adult Fiction, and the 2016 Realm Award for Speculative Novel of the Year. Carrie lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with her tolerant husband, charming children, two naughty cats, a not-so-bright dog, and some really-not-so-bright chickens. The chickens do not live in the house.

You can find her at the following places:








Enter the giveaway for a signed copy of The Gold-Son here!

Interview with Desiree Williams and Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have Desiree Williams with me. She’s on a blog tour for her new book Illusionary. I have all the important information below on how to get your hands on it. But I took some time to ask Desiree some questions about her life, her writing, and Illusionary.

J: Hi, Desiree! Welcome to Jilligan’s Island! I’m so glad to have the chance to chat with you. I’ve been wondering if you read or write every single day. Do you?

D: In a way, yes. I may not get to add words to my work-in-progress every day, but I’m writing and/or reading in some version each day. I love journaling, as well. It’s proven to be very relaxing for me and a way to release all the stress I tend to bottle up within myself.

J: It’s wonderful you’ve found a stress reliever. So are you a full-time author or do you balance writing with another job?

D: I’m a full-time juggling nut-case. LOL. I have multiple responsibilities in life. For example, I’m a: wife, mother, homeschooling teacher, multi-role church worker, business owner, etc. Lots of hats to wear and flailing duties with writing all woven in. I seem to make it work. =) Haven’t had anything crash on me yet.

J: It sounds like you stay very busy! Do you have a playlist or favorite songs/composer you listen to while writing?

D: I love listening to music BEFORE I write. With my A.D.D., I need silence during my writing sessions to make them the most productive. But I love listening to my book playlist to get my creative mind on the right track. That way I can visualize my characters and prepare my body for the magic that’s about to happen.

J: That’s a fantastic idea – I’ll have to try that. Speaking of visualizing, do you use any visual aids while you’re writing (i.e., maps, Pinterest, magazine pictures, etc.)?

D: Oh my goodness, Pinterest is a time stealing fiend! But I love it for storyboards. <3 I usually stop there and a few stock images sites when I’m building my storyboards for each project. I’ll add the images to character sketches and setting locations. The visuals make everything fun and pretty, and it also helps get the creative juices flowing.

J: You mentioned building storyboards, which leads me to my next question. Are you a Pantser or a Plotter?

D: By nature, I’m a Pantser, but I understand the importance of plotting. Therefore I strive to be a blend of both. I don’t want to shut down any creative possibilities, so I allow my mind its wandering. But plotting everything out first does make for more productive writing sessions because I know exactly where I’m going each time.

J: So while you’re doing all this creating, what does your writing space look like?

D: Uh…a disaster zone? 😉 Well, at least that’s what my desk looks like. I hate the admin duties of my business, so paperwork usually piles up for several weeks before I drag my pouting self to the filing cabinet and get to it. Thankfully, writing life is more of a mobile lifestyle, which means my writing space can be anywhere. Some days I write at my kitchen table, or on my nice comfy couch. And rarely at the library or Panera—my easily-distracted self tends to people-watch more than write.

J: Sometime people-watching is more fun! How do you select the names of your characters?

D: For most of my books, the character names are chosen based off of their meanings, which then is incorporated into their personality traits. However, I’ve found that’s not always the case. For example, in Illusionary, Kamryn was picked just because I liked the name. But Reese was inspired by the Reese’s Pieces candy I happened to be eating at the time of his character sketch. Sorry, Reese. Your name was inspired due to my love of candy. =P

J: The blurb for Illusionary is intriguing. Where did you get the idea for this book?

D: While doing laundry.

J: Really?

D: No kidding. Grumbling and stressing over life, I was stuffing clothes into the dryer, wondering over the possibility of the dryer eating me and taking me to another dimension. Escaping reality had been my goal at the time.

J: Well, we’re glad you turned the idea into a story! What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned while writing it?

D: Learning how closely I put myself into the story. One of the characters (Reese) has several inner demons that match my very own. Except it wasn’t until I was deep into revisions that I realized what I had done. But in a way, pouring out our pain into stories is what a writer does best. 😉

J: That’s very true. Now before you go, Desiree, if you’re comfortable doing so, can you give us one fun fact about yourself others might not know?

D: Sometimes for family functions, I’ll make desserts I know people don’t care for just to have the tasty treat all to myself. I feel no shame for it either. *cheeky grin*

J: I’ll have to try that at my next family get-together! Thanks so much for coming to Jilligan’s Island and sharing a little about you and Illusionary. Speaking of which, here’s all the information about it and the blog tour.

Illusionary Blog Tour Schedule

June 5th Launch Day – HOPE through the Pages

Spotlight – Rachel Lopez

Book Review – Jebraun Clifford – Dream. Write. Repeat.

June 6th Book Review – Indie Book Reviews

Spotlight – Christian Book News

Interview – Bookworm Mama

June 7th Book Review – Zernia Blossom’s Books

Book Review – Prismatic Prospects

Interview – Dolphin18cb

June 8th Book Review – Lands Uncharted

Book Review – Seasons of Humility

Interview – Liv K. Fisher

June 9th Book Review – She Hearts Fiction

Book Review – Chrissi Reads

Spotlight – Dreams of Faerytales

Guest Post – Jannette Fuller

June 10th Wrap-Up Post – HOPE through the Pages

About Illusionary:

Dorothy got sucked into a tornado.

Alice fell down a hole.

Wendy flew to Neverland.

Kamryn? She tripped down the stairs.

Now, Kamryn Kensington finds herself in a strange new world. Within minutes of her arrival, she dodges an archer’s arrow and avoids getting sliced up by a cosplay reject holding a dagger to her throat. And that’s before the storyteller’s breath brings stories to life.

Home is the mission—to return to her family and pursue her life’s dream of art and travel. Yet the longer she’s in the Land of Ur, the harder it is not to feel for the people she meets. Even her artistic side can’t help but breathe in the beautiful wonder and magic of this new world. So when the Oracle hands her a different quest, she takes it on the condition he sends her home afterward.

No one thought to warn her of a jealous queen and her dragon minions. Or that, by helping her, the cute storyteller would go crazy. Or that her heart would rip in two when she left. Those would’ve been great facts to know ahead of time.

Considering that nothing in Ur is what it seems, the mission proves to be more than she ever imagined. But more than her own future will be in jeopardy if Kamryn doesn’t succeed.

Purchase Links

About the Author

Desiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes.

You can find out more about Desiree and her books at

Social Media Links

Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads / Newsletter



Desiree has graciously offered to give away the following prizes shown above: a “Make everyday an adventure” pillow, “Don’t Grow Up! It’s a Trap!” metal sign, book cozy, signed paperback of Illusionary, notebook with pens, sketch book with colored pencils, and a “Eat Cake for Breakfast” travel cup.




Coming Next Week…

Next week  will be busy here on Jilligan’s Island. I’m interviewing two awesome authors!

On Monday, I’ll be chatting with Desiree Williams about her new book Illusionary.  We’ll learn how she came up with the idea for the book and what her writing process looks like.




Then on Wednesday, I’ll be interviewing Carrie Ann Noble and we’ll talk about her new book The Gold-Son. Carrie also shares the idea that spawned this book and discusses her favorite part of writing .


Both of these authors are being super generous and offering giveaways, as well! So don’t forget to stop by and learn more about these talented writers.

Until we see you next week … enjoy your weekend!

Flare: Book 2 of the Firebrand Chronicles Progress Update

I just made progress on Flare: Book 2 of the Firebrand Chronicles! So far I’m 83% complete on the Writing phase. 4 Weeks remain until the deadline.
[mybookprogress progress=”0.8293466666666667″ phase_name=”Writing” deadline=”1498780800″ book=”1″ book_title=”Flare: Book 2 of the Firebrand Chronicles” bar_color=”be00cc” cover_image=”118″]