2020 Announcements, Free Books, and Panic Attacks

I had a panic attack yesterday.

I’ll tell you all about it in a minute, but first I want to make a couple announcements. 

First: The next book in the KC Warlock Weekly series has been postponed, with a new release date TBD. 

Second: I’m making all of my books free. If there’s anything in my library that you want to read, you can download it here. All four main titles in The Sacrosanct Records, the short story compilation, and the first book of The KC Warlock Weekly; You can read it all, share it, send it to your friends with no strings attached. 

Third: I’m launching a Patreon, and I’ve created a Ko-Fi if you want to leave me a tip. 

All these things, (panic attack included,) are connected to each other, but that’s the Cliff Notes version. If you’re just here for the free books, you can just stop reading here! Happy reading, and I hope you enjoy! 

You can download my books here! For free! I’m not kidding, and there are no strings attached.

At the time of writing this, it’s Thursday. Today I was supposed to send off my next book, “The KC Warlock Weekly: Justice” to my editor, so she’d be able to iron out the kinks in time for a February 2nd publication. That’s not going to happen. 

I’ve been struggling with the world of indie publishing for a while. I love the writing, the storytelling, the craft of it, it’s the ‘Publishing’ part that gets me – Success seems to hinge more on my ability to navigate the world of marketing than my ability to write. I don’t know how to maximize SEO on my social media posts. I’m not a marketing guru who can maximize Amazon ads or perfect my keywords for sales.

When I’ve tried at these things, I’ve failed, miserably. And it affects how I feel about myself as a writer. It’s irrational, but when my ad campaigns fizzle, it makes me feel like I’m incompetent as an author. I tied the value of my art to the amount of money I could make off of it, and when I couldn’t sell myself well enough, it hurt. 

In short, it wasn’t healthy. 

I’d known that it wasn’t for a long time, but knowing something isn’t the same as believing it. So, even as I made plans on how to change, how to get away from the elements of self publishing that were eating away at my self esteem and confidence as a writer, I still let it influence me. 

Amazon’s sales algorithm rewards authors who can write fast. Beyond just having more books for sale, Amazon boosts books in its algorithm for a limited time after release – So, if you want the best shot at being seen on Amazon, you have to release books regularly and often, not because it means the books will be of higher quality, but because it’s what the algorithm favors. 

So, that’s why I picked February 2nd as my release date – to try and get that algorithm boost as quickly as possible. 

And, that’s why a couple nights ago, I was feverishly rushing to complete a draft that I’d be able to finish and upload in time. Not because it would be my best work, but because it was what the algorithm demanded, and I’d convinced myself that if I couldn’t keep up with the algorithm’s demands, then I didn’t deserve to call myself an author.

I knew that the words I was writing weren’t my best. I’d been so focused on the crunch, the deadline, that I’d sacrificed creating a story I was happy with. 

And I hated it. I still hate it. 

I hate that, even while I could say out loud that the algorithm didn’t dictate my worth as an artist, I let it influence how I thought about myself. I put pressure on myself that I’d never even think of putting on anyone else – I’d call it cruel and callous. The ironic thing is, I can write very quickly and with quality when I have the creative freedom to do so, but the crushing pressure I’d imposed on myself killed that passion. 

I talked about the issue with some friends, and a family member, but it was my fiancée who brought me back down to earth. Forcing myself to recognize emotionally what I knew logically wasn’t easy. Part of me still feels like I’m giving up. 

And all this is to say, I could use your help. 

I love to write. I’ll likely keep writing for as long as I can type. Publishing, though? That’s more difficult. 

While I want my stories to be read, publishing isn’t free. Covers and editing cost money, and more pressingly, I still have bills to pay and groceries to buy. 

I want to reject the algorithm model. I want to write for you, my fans, people who love to read, without worrying about what Amazon is going to promote, about whether or not my ads are going to have a low enough cost-per-click, any of that junk. Heck, I want everyone to be able to read my stories, regardless of where they’re at financially – I don’t want to block anyone from being able to read. 

But to do that, I’m going to need your help. 

Like I said at the start of this, I’ve launched a Patreon. My hope is that, if you can, you’ll help me reject the crunch, and the grind, and the algorithm chasing. I would love to be able to get support from you directly. In turn, I want to write stories that you want to read. If anything I’ve written has inspired you, or made you laugh, or smile, or feel, then I’ve done my job right. 

With your support, Patreon will let me write without fear of the marketing, without stress about pandering to an algorithm. I can write longer books and short stories without worrying that I’d be more commercially viable if I cut the story off sooner or bloated the length. I plan on doing both of those things, in fact.

If you’ve made it this far but haven’t read any of my works, you’re welcome to check out anything I’ve done – my writing is available to be read. Check it out, see if it’s to your taste. If you like it, and you want to see more, I would love to have your support.

I don’t want to sell books. I want to tell stories. 

Will you please help me do that?

Guest Post – The KC Warlock Weekly Book 1 Review, by Kevin Dilmore

When journalist Levi Lawson works his news beats, he’s not seeking quotes at City Hall or rifling through filings at the district courthouse. His reporting typically takes him to darker corners of the city: the secret sites of arcane rituals or a wizard’s workshop—or face to face with powers and creatures most people consider the stuff of legend and imagination. See, his job is to report on his city’s covert community of magic users, a job that’s made even tougher by the fact that he’s not one of them.

In M.N. Jolley’s clever and brisk novel The KC Warlock Weekly, Levi (pronounced “levy”) is the owner and publisher of the newspaper from which the book draws its title. Even on a “normal” day, Levi’s job is sure to put him at odds with all sorts of spellcasters and supernatural beings, all of whom operate within a shroud of illusion that hides them from their non-magical fellow residents of Kansas City, Mo. From the opening of Jolley’s novel, subtitled Book One: Accused, it becomes clear that the day is anything but typical for Levi. He’s being interrogated by a pair of counsellors (“wizard cops,” as Levi explains) as the prime suspect in a murder case. As the book unfolds, Levi finds himself working to exonerate himself, identify the actual murderer—and all while trying to get the latest issue of his paper to the printer on deadline.

Through Levi’s first-person narration of the story, Jolley effectively introduces readers not only to a resourceful, clever and even charming lead for the series but he also immerses readers into a world of magic hidden in plain sight from the rest of us. He builds this world, explains its rules, and adheres to them in ways that make for an enjoyable read. As Levi hardly is alone in his adventures, Jolley offers a diverse cast of supporting characters, most of whom are crafted in ways that make a reader hope they will turn up in subsequent stories. Dialogue is smart and punchy, evoking the feel of an old-school, hard-boiled whodunnit with contemporary spins. The story’s plot moves quickly, with every fresh turn carrying some surprise. Another fun surprise: Jolley’s choices and descriptions of story locations will ring very true to readers familiar with Kansas City.

Jolley’s book is a terrific and rewarding escape—think Fletch meets Harry Potter. The KC Warlock Weekly is a fun, funny and fast-paced introduction to an intriguing world that’s just a sidestep apart from our own.—Kevin Dilmore

KEVIN DILMORE has teamed with author and best pal Dayton Ward for nearly 20 years on novels, shorter fiction and other writings chiefly in the Star Trek universe. A contributor to publications including the Village Voice, Amazing Stories, and Famous Monsters of Filmland, he works as a senior writer for Hallmark Cards.

Guest Post – The KC Warlock Book 1 Review, by Jamie Davis

Review for Accused: Book One of the KC Warlock Weekly

It’s not often an urban fantasy story catches me by surprise. It seems like many great authors have explored all the corners of the potential for a hidden magical world alongside our own modern existence. Then Max Jolley’s new book came along and melded a great UF story with another genre favorite of mine, a fantastic noir mystery.

Levi Lawson (Lee-vee), an investigative journalist from a startup newspaper covering the supernatural side of Kansas City, stumbles on a murder. But that’s the least of his problems as he soon finds out he’s been tagged as the killer. Add in a great good cop/bad cop duo, gritty interrogations, vampires, wizards, and even a bridge troll, and you’ve got a rollicking urban fantasy adventure. 

As the mystery around the murder expands into an even bigger story, our intrepid investigator pulls out every trick in his limited mundane collection. Somehow, he manages to stay one step ahead of the multitude of people and creatures out to get him. He can’t afford to get caught. He has to get to the bottom of the mystery, solve the crime, and print the next newspaper. 

The story grabbed me from the beginning and pulled me in right away. Before I knew it, I wanted to know how Levi was going to solve the crime while somehow saving his failing newspaper. I couldn’t stop and had to read to the end. And, I never saw the twist coming.

I stumbled a little keeping all the characters straight that Levi meets along the way. But that’s because the world Jolley crafts is deep and rich with many textures and diversity. Fairies and vampires, mages and potion masters, and many others all come together atop an underlying magical bureaucracy. There’s a lot more of this world to explore. I’m looking forward to more editions and stories from the KC Warlock Weekly and reporter Levi Lawson.

Jamie Davis, author of Fun Fantasy Reads, writes urban and epic fantasy stories for teens and adults. You can find out more about him at

Author Spotlight: Troy Osgood

For today’s Author Spotlight, we’re talking to Troy Osgood! If you missed our last spotlight, check it out here!

M.N.: Tell me a little bit about yourself. What genres do you write in?

Troy: I played a little D&D as a kid, played with LEGO and G.I. Joe. Lots of stuff that involved having to create. I found that I enjoyed the creating more than the actual playing. I’ve always read; primarily fantasy and a little sci-fi; novels and comic books, branching out to other genres as I got older. I really enjoyed the serial and ongoing nature of comic books.

This love of creating led to trying to put it all down on paper. I was never satisfied with anything that I did. The impulse to just keep creating crept into those early attempts and the story would get lost.

Fast forward to 2016, after a period where didn’t write but still read nonstop and played games like Ultima Online and World of Warcraft, I discovered Amazon’s Kindle Worlds. This platform, which is now sadly gone, allowed author’s to write in other people’s “worlds”. One of those was G.I. joe. Now I could take those stories I had created as a kid and get them published for other people to enjoy.

I published a bunch of stuff through that and by being able to actually complete a story, that others enjoyed reading, it helped me get over the hump. I had a bunch of stuff created because that is something I never stopped doing. Notebooks and word documents filled with ideas and some half-started stories.

In March of 2016, I published my first book and been going non-stop since.

I write primarily fantasy and sci-fi with some pulp work coming. A variety of genres and subgenres. I read a bit of everything so I have ideas in a wide range. More ideas than time. Ideas never stop coming.

M.N.: What do you feel are the biggest challenges you face when writing?

Troy: Two things. The first, and the thing that kept me from actually writing for the longest time, was that I don’t end up liking what I write. I don’t think it’s bad or anything like that, it’s just a “that could be better” kind of thing. The scenes write themselves in my head and when I put them to paper, it’s not as good. But I have stories that I want to tell and so I force myself to tell them.

The other thing goes back to the ideas never stop coming. I get hit with a new idea and have to develop it, flesh it out and see where it goes. Sometimes that new idea takes over and pushes the other stuff aside.

I set myself a goal of 1500 words a day, which has really been helping with my production and allowing me to keep the series I have going well adding/developing new stuff.

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M.N.: What about your books do you feel is the most special or unique?

Troy: I don’t think the author ends up deciding what makes their work special or unique, that’s on the readers. An author can try for something but if they succeed, that’s for the readers to decide.

For my work, I try to just tell fun adventures about compelling and interesting characters. I don’t do epics or end-of-the-world type stuff. There’s plenty of it out there that is excellent. But I’ve always found myself liking the secondary characters, the side quests/adventures more than the main stuff.

I love Star Wars, but I don’t like the Skywalkers. I want to see the stories about Wedge Antilles and the other rebels. I’m really looking forward to the Disney + Cassian Andor series.

The tagline I use for my Taleweaver’s Song series is “in a world of magic, adventure lies behind every hill.” Which is true. If there is this world filled with magic, why does everything focus on just a few individuals or chosen ones? There are others out there in the vast world that are having their own adventures where the world itself isn’t at risk. Those can be interesting and compelling stories. Those are the tales I want to tell.

Everything I create is designed for the long term. I don’t tell one and done stories or trilogies. Everything has threads of more stories to tell, to expand on. It goes back to my love of the comic book and the ongoing serial. I want to tell stories about the characters and how their lives evolve and change through the course of their adventures. There are no endings planned for any of my series. Even things I’m doing for a publisher, one shot short stories, there are threads that I can expand upon.

M.N.: I really enjoy stories about the smaller characters in bigger worlds. Do you have a particular favorite character that you’ve invented, or a favorite set of characters?

Troy: I do and they haven’t appeared yet. It’s kind of cheating because they’re somewhat modeled after my wife and I. Osten Niklas and Kathwen DunHowe are the main characters in The Ork Plains, the 2nd Taleweaver’s Song book. My wife is a music teacher so she became a bard. Her weapon, a staff, is based on an actual staff we have in the house. Osten has a pet that has evolved from a fox to a hound and back and forth. I think the reason I’m having some trouble with the pet is that the characters are my wife and I, but the pet is not our dog. So I think I need to redo it and replace the current version of the pet with our dog.

The other favorite has to be Kaylia in the Arek Lancer sci-fi series. A mute alien cat girl teenager. Arek was meant to be Jack Reacher in space with a touch of Malcolm Reynolds thrown in. Reacher travels the United States, just wandering, and everywhere he stops trouble seems to find him. And that’s what I envisioned for Arek. Flying across the stars and just gets into random trouble. The first book revolved around him rescueing a kidnapped alien and that alien girl ended up staying with him. So now it’s Jack Reacher plus kid in space.

M.N.: Do your stories have the equivalent of a Luke Skywalker in them who just exists in the background? Chosen one heroes who exist and shape the world, but who you don’t focus on because we’re having more fun with the side characters?

Troy: No chosen ones or larger than life heroes. Regular sized heroes are good enough. In The Skeleton Stone, Culann Hawkfall saves the village. He’s a large sized hero to those people. Their world is their village and he’s the epic hero that saved them from destruction. For Culann, he was there and couldn’t leave those people to die, he had to do something. Does that put him on par with Luke Skywalker? Yeah, probably. They’re both heroes, just the scale of what they are saving is different.

M.N.: Was there any particular book or author that made you want to write?

Troy: Not really. I read so much, books and comics, that it’s all a kind of influence. I loved the idea of Dungeons & Dragons, this kind of open world where thousands of different stories could happen. In Marvel Comics, Spider-Man is in one corner of New York having all these adventures and a couple blocks over the Avengers are fighting the Masters of Evil.

The Harpers series from Forgotten Realms (written in the 80s and 90s) helped set up how I wanted to structure things like the Taleweaver’s Song. Each book in the Harpers was about a different character, a different adventure, but were connected by the organization. I loved that series. It really played into the idea of adventures happening all the time all over the world.

M.N.: It sounds like you put a lot of effort into your world building. Do you ever find that this trips you up, where you want to tell a story about one conflict or another but your setting makes it difficult?

Troy: That’s the problem I ran into with The Ork Plains. I had the world of Merelein created. It was set up like a pen & paper D&D game setting. A world with some history and pretty open sandbox to just jump into and create. As I started writing Ork Plains, I started fleshing out some of that history and it changed pretty much everything. That created the roadblock and I had to go and figure out the new history before I could continue. Which led me down some tangents hadn’t intended to go down.

It’s all good as it makes the overall world that much stronger and unique.

The foundation is important to any world. Creating a world is the same process as in creating a building. You have to start with a solid foundation otherwise the walls will fall down. Once that foundation is in place, then you build your walls and cap it with the roof, which is the story.

M.N.: Or, on the flipside, have you ever had conflicts present themselves to you on a platter because of how you’ve set up your world? Moments where you’re writing along and discover that you have a perfect story already set up for you that just needs the words put down?

Troy: The Arek Lancer stuff does that all the time. I had a rough idea of the various stories I wanted to tell. Started writing and the first book created two points that became full stories that worked their way into the rotation. I did a short story reader magnet and that ended up tying into a story point from the first book which led to the 4th book that I’m currently working on. A character in the reader magnet popped up in the 3rd book, a history between Arek and him that I had never intended. Arek’s adventures just keep building themselves and going in a direction that I never thought I would take it which is all because of Kaylia running into Arek.

M.N.: Do you have a favorite book, or a list of favorites?

Troy: Faerie Tale by Raymond Feist is an all time favorite. Riyria Revelations (and the follow-up books) by Michael J. Sullivan. Memory, Sorrow & Thorn by Tad Williams.

The Harpers series, as mentioned above, is up there as well. No individual book in the series but just the idea of it.

M.N.: Tell me about your current Work In Progress.

Troy: Which ones? I have a lot of balls in the air and lots of stuff at various levels. My main stuff is the fantasy series Taleweaver’s Song and the Arek Lancer sci-fi series. Book two in Taleweaver’s is being worked on (and has been the hardest thing to write, this book is a constant fight). I have the next three books basically thought out and some parts of them started. Got two or three short stories in that series to finish up. The Arek Lancer sci-fi series, I’ve started book four and have a short story finishing up. Got two short stories for a pulp publisher. Finished book one in my litRPG series and editing it, cruising along on book two. Working on a developmental project where I’m fleshing out the story, developing it and creating characters.

I also have a Patreon site that will have exclusive serialized stories. Each month is a new chapter. These will be set in my established universes, in new ones and just random stories. The first story is set in The Taleweaver’s Song, unconnected to any of the books. There’s three finished works to follow that one up.

I think that’s it, but there’s a couple of other ideas moving around inside my head that want to come out and play.

I recently set myself a goal of 1500 words a day and that has been helping with the production. Before that, all my goals seemed pretty hard to reach. Now they’re all doable.

M.N.: What does your release schedule look like? Do you find that, with so many projects, you have a hard time keeping them all up to date on a timely basis, or do your word count goals keep books coming out consistently enough for your liking?

Troy: I bounce from project to project on a nightly basis. Sometimes I get in a groove and a project takes over but there are always other things to go back to when that one needs a break. I keep a spreadsheet for my word count goal and I break each day down by project. Some days there is one, some there are four.

I don’t write until my wife and kids are asleep. I give myself 30 mins to an hour to read and then it’s write for a couple hours before I go to bed. When I sit down at the computer, I think I know which project I want to work on but sometimes the stories have other ideas.

Things are always churning in my head, ideas on where to take them, new ideas, etc…

I want to have a consistent release schedule and am working hard to get there. Not at that point yet. The word count goal helps a lot as it forces me to focus on something and advance something for that day.

M.N.: What does your writing process look like? Do you outline, do you invent the plot as you go, or do things land somewhere in the middle of that spectrum?

Troy: From the middle to inventing as I go. Depends on the project. Lots of it revolves around scenes that pop into my head. I see the scene and create around it. I don’t outline, just let it freeflow as I write. Which sometimes creates blocks as I know where I want to go but can’t figure out how to get there yet.

I’ve tried outlining but it just doesn’t work for me.

M.N.: Do you have an end goal in mind when you start a story, either for the characters or for the plot?

Troy: Yes and no. Depends on project. Some projects I’ve written the ending well before it’s done. Sometimes I know the middle first. I try to let the stories take me where they will. As they develop I know where I want to end up.

Taleweavers is written where the first chapter is a point in the future, the middle of the story. So I know what point L is, which kind of points to Z so I just need to start with A and figure out how A leads to L. Which leaves a lot of ground in the middle.

Arek’s adventures, I know the start and don’t know where it’ll end up. But even with those, as I’m writing I’ll get to a scene and put that down but then the implications or path that scene leads to pops into my head and I need to write it down. It could be five chapters later but it gets written and I need to fill in the gaps to get there.

That kind of writing has its own issues. If you know point A and point G, then how do you get from E to G in a logical way that reads natural and not forced?

M.N.: When I’m reading books like Harry Potter or watching Star Wars, I always know that the heroes are going to ultimately win because, if they lose, the world will end and there won’t be any more books. Do you find that your smaller-scale characters and stories frees you from that constraint and lets you tell stories where the characters have a real possibility of losing?

Troy: Yeah. I’m trying to tell the story of someone’s life. Living in this magical world, flying through space, is the world these people inhabit. It’s a dangerous world, so death exists. People in our world die every day doing something normal like drive a car. So in a world where magic exists, the possibility is there that someone can die doing the equivalent of normal in their world.

There needs to be a threat of death for the stories to really have meaning. The death of Ned Stark shocked everyone because that entire first book (first season), he was set up to be the hero of the story. He was set up to be Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter. But then he was killed. That was awesome.

I think that’s the biggest reason The Last Jedi gets so much criticism. People expected Luke to be the hero, to step up and save the galaxy again. He didn’t. Rian Johnson pulled a Ned Stark.

M.N.: If you could go back and give yourself any piece of advice when you first started writing, what would it be?

Troy: Just do it. People will like it or they won’t. Don’t let your lack of confidence in your own work hold you back.

M.N.: Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve written, or a recommended “starting point” for people looking to get into your work?

Troy: I’d start at the beginning. The Skeleton Stone (fantasy) and The Last Child (sci-fi).

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M.N.: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Troy: I set out to write the kind of stories that I wanted to see out there. I like reading everything. I like the epics, but I felt there was a space out there for serial work that wasn’t these big epic stories. Sometimes people just want to read about an adventure. That’s what I want to provide.

I don’t want to write the next book that moves people or teaches a lesson. I want to entertain and I hope my stories do that.

Author Spotlight: J. L. Park

For today’s Author Spotlight, we’re talking to J. L. Park! If you missed last week’s spotlight, check it out here!

M.N.: Tell me a little bit about yourself. What genres do you write in?

J.L.: I normally write in Speculative Fiction, mostly Dystopian. I’ve been thinking of story that would work in Urban Fantasy that I might work on after this series.

M.N.: What do you feel are the biggest challenges you face when writing?

J.L.: Finding the time to write – I work full time at my job, and have two children under 5 as well. I write mostly after they’ve gone to bed.

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M.N.: What about your books do you feel is the most special or unique?

J.L.: They come from a view that is different – a New Zealand twist on things even in a fictional setting – my culture finds its way into my writing as easily as it does my spoken language. As a member of the LGBT community as well, it often features in my work but is never the biggest thread of the story.

M.N.: Can you give me an example of how your New Zealand background influenced your writing?

J.L.: I’ve noticed that I have to be careful not to include too many colloquialisms or words from our other spoken national language that I would use in normal conversation. I tend to view the world from a New Zealand perspective – we accept most people for who they are, as long as they’re a “good sort”, and I’ve always found it difficult to understand how people can hate someone they’ve never met because they’re different to them. We are also a people that you don’t want to cross – we tend to be protective, and stand up for ourselves and the underdog- the MC in my Alexis Chronicles series would fit in well in here.

M.N.: I’ve read that authors who include LGBT elements in their stories are often rejected by traditional publishers. Did this affect your decision to publish independently?

J.L.: I wasn’t acutely aware of that fact, though it doesn’t come as a surprise as it’s still unusual to see LGBT representation in a lot of mainstream places for TV or books. There is more out there than there has been, so it’s getting better. But it didn’t have any effect on my decision to publish independently – I wanted more control over what happened to my series, and one of the themes in the series is currently (over the last year or so) in the public consciousness – I felt that if I waited until a traditional publisher picked it up, and got it out there – it may have been too late for it to make its impact.

M.N.: Now that you’ve got the benefit of hindsight, are you happy with your decision to self publish?

J.L.: Yes, while the marketing and promotion of it is a steep learning curve that takes me away from writing the next two, I have the control over my series, and it’s out in a time where people are thinking on and talking about the underlying theme. I think that theme however will be in the public consciousness for a long time yet – it may have only just started.

M.N.: Was there any particular book or author that made you want to write?

J.L.: Not that I can put my finger on. I’ve always wanted to write, and have written here and there. I’ve always enjoyed Stephen King, and a lot of the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal and Dystopian authors. One of Bella Forrest’s series – the Girl Who Dared – kind of gave me the push I needed.

M.N.: Do you have a favorite book, or a list of favorites?

J.L.: Hugh Howey’s Wool series

M.N.: Tell me about your current Work In Progress.

J.L.: My current WIP is Book 2 of The Alexis Chronicles – Black Phoenix Rising. It’s a continuation of She Wore Black – the first book of The Alexis Chronicles. It follows Reed Taylor on her journey to change the city of GreyBrook from an oppressive society, to something more balanced. However it’s intrinsic hatred of women, and those who buck the system makes this much harder and more dangerous than she realizes.

M.N.: What does your writing process look like? Do you outline, do you invent the plot as you go, or do things land somewhere in the middle of that spectrum?

J.L.: I’m a bit of a ‘plantser’ now – I used to be a ‘pantser’ inventing it as I went along – She Wore Black was mostly written this way. With the second and third books, I needed to know more about where it was going, so have semi-outlined them. It’s actually easier, so I might keep going that way.

M.N.: I’ve never heard the term ‘Plantser’ before, but I might steal it. When writing “She Wore Black” did the plot end up going about where you expected, or were you surprised by how it turned out?

J.L.: I can’t remember where I first heard “Plantser” but I remember thinking ‘Thats SO me!” – if it fits – steal it!
She Wore Black ended earlier than I had thought it would – I thought it was initially going to be a standalone – but as I got into it, I realised it was going to be a series – so you could say I was surprised that it ended where it did, but it was the perfect spot to move into the next book, and it felt right.

M.N.: When you made the decision to make it a series, was it because the story you wanted to tell was taking too long to get to the finish, or did you realize that you were writing towards something grander than you’d initially conceived that would go beyond your initial planned endpoint?

J.L.: It was a bit of both. I had an idea of the endpoint, and it kept getting further away. The end point is the same, or similar to what I had planned, but will work so much better with the rest of the story in between. In one book it would have been paced too fast, and not given the reader enough time to get to know the main characters, and get invested in them before rushing off. I wanted to do my book, and any readers I had, justice.

M.N.: Do you know how many books it’s going to end up being?

J.L.: At this point, I’m pretty sure it will be a trilogy.

M.N.: If you could go back and give yourself any piece of advice when you first started writing, what would it be?

J.L.: Don’t worry about other people reading it. Just write it for you, and the rest will come later. Don’t take the constructive criticism personally – use it, if it works for you, and it will actually make it better.

M.N.: Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve written, or a recommended “starting point” for people looking to get into your work?

J.L.: Given I only have the one piece out in the world – I’d suggest She Wore Black: The Alexis Chronicles Book One as a very good place to start.