Seven Questions : June 2016 : Tamara Shoemaker

Prolific YA fantasy writer Tamara Shoemaker joins me again for a third round of Seven Questions! Her latest book is Embrace the Fire, Book Two in the Heart of a Dragon series. Tamara is one of my favorite writing buddies. We have worked on each other’s books as beta readers, blurbers, and editors, and we have even co-written a story together in one of the Flashdogs anthologies.


EJS: Pitch your featured book in three sentences.

TS: Embrace the Fire continues the journeys of the four characters introduced in Kindle the Flame. Political intrigue boils into epic warfare as kings clash and nations dissolve beneath Dragonfire and magic. Kinna, Cedric, and Ayden are drawn inexorably toward a fearful destiny, and Dragons, Pixies, Seer Fey, and other creatures are pitted against one another as the conclusion dissolves into a cataclysmic end that will leave the reader dying for more.

EJS: Of all your characters, who is your favorite and why?

TS: I put little pieces of me in all of my characters (even the evil ones), so this is an extremely hard one to answer; it’s like choosing a favorite child. At the risk of alienating the rest of my characters and embroiling them in green jealous ink, I’m going to choose Ayden. The pull of a lonely soul who has never known the joy of a mother’s love or the touch of a friend is one of my “mushy” spots. I just want to give him a hug. I think it’s likely that I make some of the other characters hug him more often than is absolutely necessary to make up for his lack of attention. Poor soul.

EJS: What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

TS: I think the slice of the first draft from 20,000 words to approximately 70,000 words is the hardest. When I start a first draft, I’m on fire for 20,000 words. It’s still new, it’s fresh, and I’m still falling in love with the characters. By the time that 20k rolls around, the characters sag. They start to wonder: Who am I? Why am I here? Who created me? What if there is no creator? What if I’m just one big cosmic accident, and the only reason I exist on these pages is because someone, somewhere got incredibly confused? By the time 70,000 words rolls around, the characters have found their path in life. They begin to put their affairs in order, and they relax with their friends and family around them, cheering them on through the last few steps until the conclusion. But those middle 50,000 words are torture.

EJS: What do you think are the three most important personality traits for being a writer?

TS: Flexibility, determination, and a good mixture of talent with imagination. I know lots of people that have two, but not three, of those, and it’s never enough—not unless all three of those are present. Every writer has more weight on one or another of these, but as long as all three are there, a story will make its way from mind to book and into the hands of readers.

EJS: What makes a good editor?

TS: A basic understanding of what makes a good story. This seems simplistic, but there’s so much to what creates a good story that an editor’s job isn’t just a simple add-a-comma-here-delete-this-word-here. It’s understanding how to build a story on a solid foundation that won’t topple as the plot points fall into order. It’s identifying the main conflict and helping the author to build each character’s story around that conflict. It’s cheerleading—being the voice behind the author that beats down the author’s frustrations, whether derived from the editor’s critiques or from outside critiques, and being the one to pull the author through to the end, to a polished and completed book in his or her hands. A good editor is worth their weight in gold.

EJS: What is the best book you’ve read this year in any genre?

TS: I promise I’m not just saying this because I’m on your blog, but the best book I’ve read in a looonnngg time is Sterling by Emily June Street. It’s a wonderful romantic fantasy that is almost a twist on my favorite fairy tale: Beauty and the Beast. The plot is intricately woven, the character development is stunning, and the story arc kept me riveted. It releases at the end of June 2016, so keep an eye out for this one!

EJS: Are you working on anything new aside from your two fantasy series?

TS: Ha! I can’t seem to slow myself down. I’m enjoying building my freelance editing business: it’s always so exciting to read someone else’s work, helping someone polish their story to a high sheen, so I’m in the middle of a project there. I’m finishing up the third book in my Guardian of the Vale trilogy, and I’m also writing the first draft of the third book in my Heart of a Dragon trilogy. Recently, I’ve also begun drawing up plans for a historical romance series that I plan to put out under a pen name… you know, to work on in all my spare time. 😉

Learn more about Tamara, her books, and her stellar fiction editing services:



Seven Questions : May 2016 : Sydney Scrogham

My Seven Questions author feature has been on hiatus, but it is not forgotten! Getting it back into full throttle with a May edition, I welcome the lovely Sydney Scrogham, whose new contemporary fantasy about overcoming a difficult past–and flying unicorns!–is coming out in June. Her book is Ariel: The First Guardian.When she’s not writing, Sydney is at the barn with her horse, Snowdy, or she’s catching up on reruns of the best TV show ever–Castle. She lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with an adorable dachshund named Zoe.

Here’s a chance to get a tiny glimpse inside her mind with Seven Questions:


EJS: Pitch your book in three sentences or less.

SS: Abuse survivor Ariel Harte doesn’t need anyone—ever. But her companion animal is infected with a dark, magical force that can only be cured with the help of another human. Ariel must ask her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Tracey, for help.

EJS: Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

Note from EJS–Sydney has a blog post all about how to make this decision that you can read in full here. However, here is the final portion of that post, from Sydney’s blog at, that explains which way she ended up going:

SS: “I want to have control over my books so I can make them look and feel like I imagine. I want to have higher royalties. Since I’m controlling the majority of my marketing anyway, I’m willing to commit to this for the long haul. I decided to self-publish because it is a good fit for my writing goals in this moment.


That doesn’t mean I’d reject a publishing contract from the Big 5. But I did recently reject a publishing offer.  After reading through the contract I was offered, I decided the only boost they could give me was a little extra marketing.

To me, that wasn’t worth surrendering to a cover I had no control over, signing away my ebook, audio book (even though there was no intention to make an audio book by this publisher), and print rights for three years (!!! – one year is enough…), taking about a 10% royalty from a sale, and having no say in the product price all in exchange for a tiny bit of marketing.

My book would’ve been published through Createspace with that publisher. That’s exactly what I could have done for myself and chosen my own cover, price, and a 70% royalty. Yes, it’s a little more work on my end, but to me, that’s worth it.”

EJS: What are your favorite genres/books to read, and do you think this affects your writing? How?

SS: I read a lot of romance, and then fantasy. I’m a big believer of what goes in comes out, so I tend to aim for the books that are labeled “best-sellers.” But still, if a book doesn’t capture me by the first chapter, I put it down. If I’m going to write things that are captivating, I’m going to only read things that are captivating.

EJS: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

SS: From Ted Dekker, “Make writing your spiritual exercise.” That’s what I did with Ariel’s story. I journeyed into a painful situation from my past (no, I won’t reveal which one) and as my pain became Ariel’s pain, something shifted in me when Ariel got her moment of healing. I was set free, too.

EJS: What makes a great sentence?

SS: Clear, to the point, and—oh, plenty of personality.

EJS: How and when did you first know you were a writer?

I’ve always lived in a story. It started as a kid playing with toys for hours and hours, and then when I was 11, I wrote my first “book” that was not even 20 pages, a sentence on each page, and I illustrated it myself. Then I wrote a 30-some chapter book series about the Alicorns of Agalrae (creatures in my published books now), and after a lot of hard work, released Chase in 2015. I’ve never really stopped writing. It’s a part of me.

EJS: What’s your secret superpower?

Speaking and interpreting all the languages in the world.

EJS: Many thanks to Sydney for joining me for Seven Questions. You can learn more about her and her various passions at her website:

You can pre-order Ariel now on Amazon.



March Goals

Last month my goals were:

  1. New Writing. Check! I finished the rough draft of my Glitter manuscript.
  2. Revise Sterling: Check! I madly formatted a new ebook file yesterday and I have it loaded on my Kindle for a read through as one of March’s goals.
  3. Publish Tales of Blood & Light 1-2 boxed set. Check! The boxed set will be available through the end of March.
  4. Promote and sell The Velocipede Races. I feel like I earned about half a check on this one. I did manage to unload about 10 of my author copies, but I think I can do better. I’ll try to do more in March.


  1. Read and Polish Sterling ebook file and send to final readers.
  2. Line Edit and Global Edit. I have two big edits scheduled this month for clients.
  3. Mage & Source Revision. This is the working title for Tales of Blood & Light Book Four.
  4. Covers. I need to finish front and back covers for Sterling and get a teaser cover and a book description going for Mage & Source to put in the final ebook file for Sterling.

February 2016: Goals

It’s time to review last month’s writing goals and set some new ones for February. Here’s what I planned to do in January:

  1. New Writing. Check! I added a good chunk onto my “Glitter” MS and hope to be able to draw it into a conclusion this month.
  2. LCP flash fiction contest. Check! The contest entry period ended yesterday. Beth and I will be judging over the next week or so.
  3. Revise Tales of Blood & Light Book Four. This gets a big, fat minus. I didn’t even begin. That said, I did manage to do big revisions on Book Three’s first six chapters.
  4. The Gantean and The Cedna boxed set. Check! This is pretty much ready to go. Look for its release this week or next!
  5. Flashdogs : TIME. I proofed and formatted the latest Flashdogs Anthology. You can pre-order it now; it comes out on February 8th.


February Goals:

  1. New Writing. I plan to finish/conclude my draft of “Glitter” (and hopefully give it a new and better title!)
  2. Revise Sterling: I have lots of feedback from two readers, and I want to get this MS really cleaned up and headed down the shoot for a June publication.
  3. Publish Tales of Blood & Light 1-2 boxed set.
  4. Promote and sell The Velocipede Races. I have piles of books to sell.

Shifting Gears, New Goals

November was all about promoting the Kickstarter for The Velocipede Races and slogging through writing 50,000 words for Nanowrimo. I managed to do both of those things, despite being plagued by a spat of migraine headaches. December promises to be a more dynamic month, and I’m finishing November with two bits of exciting news:

First, The Velocipede Races was funded, and will be published and in bookstores in April 2016! I’m so grateful to everyone who supported the project.

Second, The Cedna, Tales of Blood & Light Book 2, is coming out on December 27,  2015. It’s already up on Goodreads and available for ebook pre-order on Amazon, so run on over to add it to your shelves and pre-order it for a post-Christmas treat.


Here are my December goals:

1) Finish formatting and proofing The Cedna in print and ebook formats.

2) Promote The Cedna.

3) Major revision on ToB&L Book 3. I’m excited to announce here for the first time that the title for this book is: STERLING

4) Work on some new writing ideas

And that’s it!





Author Interview: Emily June Street about The Gantean

My interview with Tamara Shoemaker about The Gantean and other matters:

Tamara Shoemaker, Freelance Editor/Author

I’ve been excited for a long time to host Emily June Street on my blog. I’ve lived in a perpetual state of amazement for her as editor, flash fiction contributor, reviewer, book formatting genius, and now author. I’ve had the privilege to read two of her books (Velo Races and The Gantean) so far, and the way she condenses heavy story into few words rivets my attention. I love her works, y’all, and I think you probably will, too, if you’re at all a fan of fantasy.

And now, here’s Emily:


(What a fun office, and… a wand collection?!?! I’m insanely jealous)

1.) In three sentences, tell me what The Gantean is about.

After being kidnapped from her stark existence on the cold island of Gante, Leila must learn to survive in a southern culture her native people disparage. In this lush, intricate society, exotic temptations…

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Spotlight: Emily June Street

Here’s my interview about writing and The Gantean for Flash! Friday. Make a comment to enter to win a copy of my latest epic fantasy!

Flash! Friday

I’m thrilled today to welcome Emily June Street to the FF mic. Why’s that name familiar?? you might ask, only a moment before scrolling back through memory and blushing as you suddenly recall her neck-high pile of Flash! Friday HMs and runners up awards, and all the accolades she’s reaped for editing prowess both for the #FlashDogs latest anthology project and for novelists like Tamara Shoemaker

Emily’s latest novel, The Ganteanis a mere four days away from publication (June 27). That would be sufficiently awesome on its own; but Emily hasn’t stopped there. Nosireebob; she’s determined to GIVE AWAY A COPY of The Gantean to a randomly chosen commenter today. So please read the interview and leave a comment. The first reader to explore the magical Gantean universe might just be… you! 

(The winner will be chosen at 7:30am Wednesday, Washington DC time.) 

Emily June Street


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