Seven Questions : Taryn Noelle Kloeden

I am happy to welcome Taryn Noelle Kloeden to my blog in honor of her debut novel, Hex Breaker, which is the first book in a series.


Taryn is a lover of nature and all things furry and feathered. As a graduate student in Anthrozoology with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Biology, she is dedicating her life to understanding and protecting animals, both human and nonhuman. This zeal for the outdoors combined with a lifelong love affair with fantasy and horror stories led her to create a YA dark fantasy series, The Fenearen Chronicles. Taryn lives in Richmond, Virginia with her Prima donna cat, Stella, and personal piano player/boyfriend, Lorenzo.

And now, Taryn answers the Seven Questions:

1) Pitch your book in three sentences.

What would you do if your best friend was cursed to a terrible fate for all eternity—and it was your fault? In a world where humans can take wolf form, political smokescreens hide dark intentions, and a culture faces extinction, one young woman must learn to embrace a power she does not understand. She’ll brave hell to save her pack, but will it be enough?

2) What inspired you to first decide, “I’m going to write a novel”?

I grew up splitting my time between Narnia, Middle Earth, Hogwarts and Pyrdain. When in our reality, I often found myself playing outside, making up worlds of my own. I always knew I wanted to share these worlds with others, and writing a novel seemed like the best way to do that. But I really became serious about writing and publishing as a young adult when I joined a local writers’ group and saw that it was possible to write today, rather than someday.

3) What draws you to the fantasy genre as a writer and a reader?

The earliest books I remember staying up all night to read were fantasy stories. The stories that come to me and keep me writing are also almost always fantasy. There’s something so sumptuous about creating a whole new world, or re-imagning this one in a way that hasn’t been done. While I do enjoy other genres, nothing gives me the chills or thrills like fantasy does. I do also think it’s important to note that, in my opinion at least, world-building and wonder aren’t enough for a great fantasy. To me, those create a breathtaking background upon which writers can really explore the intricacies of relationships, characters, and plots.

4) What’s a favorite book of yours, and why?

There are so many, but I’ll touch on a longtime favorite. The Call of the Wild has been one of my favorite books since the first time I read it in third grade. It’s one of those books where I find something new to appreciate every time I re-read it. I love that it’s told from a dog’s perspective, and the visceral, immediate ways that London describes Buck’s experiences. It’s a heartbreaking tale and yet so freeing.

5) What was one of the challenges you faced in producing Hex Breaker, and how did you overcome it?

How much time do you have? But really, I have been working on this book on and off for a decade, so there have been so many different challenges. I think the main one, though, was determining the best way to tell this story. It’s truly an epic. While it does revolve around a central character and her quest, there are so many different characters and intersecting plots that I really struggled with how to create a coherent, exciting narrative. With the help of friends, hours of plotting and sketching, and of course the aid of an amazing editor (Tamara Shoemaker), I think I figured out how to do it, and do it well. It’s a multi-POV story, but not omniscient, so by choosing which characters had the most to gain/lose in a given scene and showing it from their perspective, I think we came up with something really compelling.

6) What other art forms inspire your writing, and how? (for example, music, film, dance, paintings, theater)

I love to listen to music, both while I write and especially while I imagine/plot. I have whole playlists devoted to projects or characters, and now can’t hear certain songs without being reminded of various characters. For example, “I Know the Reason” by Carbon Leaf (my favorite band) came on while writing my answer to this question, and I immediately pictured Kellan from Hex Breaker. On top of that, I’m blessed to have a musician for a boyfriend who has composed songs specifically about my characters to help me write—the Ballad of Channon Lyallt is definitely my favorite.

I also love to draw. I don’t do it particularly well, but I have books and books full of character and scene sketches. I find that it helps me focus and can break writer’s block. I also love to act, having been involved with community theater for about fifteen years. Acting stretches a lot of the same muscles as writing, and I think my acting training really helps me inhabit the characters I write.

7) What is next for you as a writer?

I’m graduating with my Master’s in May and will have a few months before I go on to my doctorate in the fall. I hope to spend the summer re-writing Twice Blessed, the sequel to Hex Breaker. I will also be working on the third installment in the Fenearen Chronicles. Once those books and my academic work are well underway, my next major project is actually a standalone science fiction novel. So, a lot! I’m just hoping it doesn’t take me another ten years to get it all out there.


Hex Breaker is out and available now. Get it exclusively on Amazon here.

Forced to decide between her happiness and her pack’s safety, Rayna Myana chooses to protect those she loves. But when shattered promises and dark magic collide, no one is safe…

For six hundred years, Fenear, a land where humans can take wolf form, has warred with Maenor, its neighboring kingdom ruled by a ruthless dynasty. The possibility of peace emerges when the Maenoren Overlord, Rhael, enters negotiations with Fenearen leaders Bayne and Silver, but their niece, Rayna, is skeptical. Yet, when Rhael proposes to her to strengthen the alliance, she agrees for the sake of her country, despite her family’s objections and a blossoming romance with her best friend. Suspicion of treachery changes Rayna’s decision, but before she can annul the agreement, powerful forces subdue her with a sinister hex. Separated from her pack with Fenear and everyone she loves in danger, Rayna must escape and travel to a distant realm to break the hex. Only then can she save her best friend and her homeland.

Lines blur between heroism and recklessness, dreams and reality, even life and death, and Rayna risks losing herself along the way.

Learn more about Taryn and her projects:







Happy Bookday!


It’s here! It’s here! Today is the day! My book, The Gantean, is celebrating its opening birthday! You can get it in ebook form immediately on Amazon, and you can order print versions from either CreateSpace or Amazon. Local people can get exclusive signed and doodled copies at Flow in Fairfax. You can also gift the book to people you know via the Amazon ebook page! Buy one! Buy two! Buy twelve!

Thank you to everyone who read versions and offered advance reviews. One meaningful way to help an indie-published author is to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads—even reviews that aren’t complimentary generate interest and discussion. So, if you feel inspired or inclined after reading, please head over to Amazon or Goodreads—or both—and leave a few lines about what you thought of The Gantean.

Seven Questions : June : Tamara Shoemaker

For this month’s installment of Seven Questions I’m hosting the lovely and talented Tamara Shoemaker. I met Tamara through my work with the flash fiction collective Flashdogs. I also recently edited her first epic fantasy book, Kindle the Flame, on sale now at the usual place.

Here’s a bit about Tamara in her own words:

print author

Tamara Shoemaker lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three children, a few jars of Nutella, and a never-empty carafe of coffee. She authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the beginning of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy, Kindle the Flame, as well as the upcoming Guardian of the Vale trilogy.

And Tamara now answers my seven questions!

1) Pitch your book in three sentences:

Kindle the Flame follows the journeys of my four main characters, interweaving each one’s search to discover their true selves behind their origins. Through the Dragonfire, the Pixie magic, the political intrigue, and the epic clash of kingdoms, they zero in on their goals. Burned by more than creatures’ flames, will they survive the fires of discovery?

2) What are your writing rituals?

My writing rituals typically start with caffeine. It wasn’t always that way, but as my writing load has increased, so has my zombie-brain. Now, coffee is my morning ritual, settling the kids into an activity or two, and then heading to my laptop. On my way through a first draft, I like to carve out a minimum of a thousand words a day. If I’m really feeling it, two thousand, and if for some reason, the muse is sitting on my shoulder, I’ve hit nine thousand before. But that’s rare.

Now that I’m trying to edit multiple manuscripts at the same time as I create new ones, I’ve found that time management has become an essential thing. Since much of my interest and love focuses on writing, I will spend all day every day on that, and the house loses the battle with cleanliness. My husband loses his wife for a few days at a time, and the kids come “help” me type.

Here’s an example of their contributions: 23y89hgnaifbnaaaaaaaaaa

I was also dealing with stiff muscles, foggy head, numb fingertips, and sore neck. So now, I’ve divided my day into “snits.” Two hours max on any one project. Stand up, work out for half an hour. Another two hours on another project (not allowed to be the same one). Lunch. Quality time with the kids. Games, playtime. Send the kids to quiet time. Another two hours of project three. Get kids out of quiet time, employ them in chores, do some chores myself. Fix supper. Welcome dear husband home. Eat supper. Clean up. Put kids to bed. Relax and write (yes, those things can be done simultaneously).

3) Why a fantasy?

When I wrote mysteries, my imagination went wild with possible storylines, but much of the time, I had to rein the rabbit trails, because they simply weren’t possible in the physical realm. I had to know a lot of “if this, then thats, and that frustrated me. If a crime scene, then who shows up? If there’s a court battle, then what is the courtroom procedure?

I guess it all comes down to the fact that I don’t like rules. So within the fantasy genre, I found that I had no limits. I could let my imagination soar, and with that freedom, I found whole new worlds. I love magic, I love non-human creatures, I love the idea that I can coat a Dragon with mirrored scales just because I say so.

4) What’s a favorite fantasy book and why?

Wow, that’s a hard question. It’s a bit like asking me to choose my favorite child and say why that’s the case (I love all my children equally, as any good mother would, of course). I guess I fell in love with fantasy over Harry Potter, and after that, every fantasy I read just fueled that passion. I went back to Lord of the Rings, Narnia, then ahead to Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Divergent, Graceling, and others. If I had to name one book, I suppose I should pick the book that started it all: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or the Philosopher’s Stone, depending on your area of the world).

5) What makes a great sentence?

Subtlety. Brevity. Words beneath words, and meaning over meaning. A sentence that connects on all levels with the reader.

6) Your top five overused words are:

HA! Thanks to my local critique group, I am now abundantly aware whenever these words depart from my fingertips and make their way onto my screen before they’re ruthlessly obliterated. Here’s my top five list: slightly, just, gazed, abruptly, and (for you, dear Emily), flickering. 😉

7) What is your next novel about?

Mark of Four is an urban fantasy set in post-apocalyptic earth, and the new source of power is the elements: Air, Fire, Earth, and Water. Elementals can wield one of those four, depending on their bloodlines, but…

Alayne Worth can wield all four. No one knows why. But all the powers in CommonEarth, both good and evil, want her gift. How will she survive the earth-shattering struggle for the power she possesses?

Many thanks to Tamara for participating in Seven Questions!

She has written five books, all available on Amazon. Her latest is the YA Fantasy Kindle the Flame.


Here’s a bit more about it:

A girl who never fit in, a young man forced into an outcast’s life, a boy raised without a community, and a ruler who holds the key to their destinies…

Kinna has a Pixie she can’t train and a head full of doubts. Her worst fears come true when she fails the Tournament entrance test. She flees her Clan in disgrace, inexplicably drawn to a Mirage, a rare Dragon she has no business training.

Ayden is cursed—anyone he touches turns to ash before his eyes. He hides amongst the Dragon Clan with the only creatures he cannot hurt. When Kinna frees his favorite Dragon, his world turns upside down.

Cedric grows up in isolation, fostered by an outcast Centaur. When tragedy strikes, he ventures into a strange new world of Dragons, political intrigue, and magic.

Sebastian’s country hovers on the brink of war. Chased from his rightful throne, he schemes to retake his kingdom by any means possible, even if it threatens an ancient agreement that underpins the foundation of his realm.

Only by examining their pasts will these four find their futures. But will they survive the fires of discovery?

Follow Tamara:
Twitter: @TamaraShoemaker