Midnight Oil Anthology Author, Taylor Floyd

Midnight-Taylor-2-300x300Taylor Floyd, author of the haunting thriller short story, My Monster, had this to share about herself and her work.

In truth, my story is sad and cumbersome and not what people want to learn about. However, growing up, as I did, I had books as my comfort and curiosity and from that, I had a wonderful exploration of imagination all to myself. I began writing my first book, novel-length when I was thirteen-ish. That book was not only a grand escape from reality but also my first understanding of what it meant to find your purpose in life. I’ve always been an author. I had my first “story” published in the Young Authors Conference when I was eight. I was born a writer and always have been so. I feel very lucky with my writing process, I’ve always been able to create a story from beginning to end. Obviously, I’m not immune to writer’s block but I have an amazing group of writers that are close to me that stimulate me constantly. The dystopian fantasy series that I’m writing haunts me constantly. It’s the story my mind will never give up on until it’s finished.

My works in progress is a series (A Nightingale’s Tale), a stand-alone novel (The 23rd), and multiple scripts (The Missing), as of now. Any future projects are on hold until my current works are finished. Missing 411 is a huge part of my research for multiple stories. I read, and listen to podcasts or audiobooks constantly. Knowing other stories helps with my writing exponentially.

Crystal L. Gauthier – Midnight Oil Anthology Author

29791053_1756990121028322_5392202487931068755_n-300x300Catching up with the very busy and industrious founder of Southern Owl Publications is no small feat, but we were lucky to hold her still to ask a few questions about her short story, which is featured in the Midnight Oil Anthology.

Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life.

I love working from home at my three business’, Laying in the sun, traveling, talking to friends and doing crafts.

My life has been full of surprises and hard times. I have persevered to be a successful publisher, promoter, jewelry consultant.

What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?

I’m a former Paralegal of 30 years+, An Author, Publisher, Promoter, Marketer, Wife and mother of 5 grown children and 15 grandchildren. I live in Louisville, KY.

Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something else?

I call myself a researcher as I write Historical romance. I love to find out about, people, places, and things.

Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?

I am working on a few things, book 3 in my time travel series. Another Cookbook and a Horror Novel.

Tell us a little about your story in the Midnight Oil Anthology.

The Haunting of Claire Pritchett is inspired by mental illness, horror, and deception. It is something I came up with one night lying in bed.

Do you have works in progress?

Yes, another horror story.

What are your plans for your next book?

To have it published in 2019

Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?

Researching Nero (37 AD – 68 AD) Bust of Nero © Nero was the fifth Roman emperor and the last of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He is remembered as an ineffectual, neglectful and brutal leader.

How do you stay in touch with your muse?

Meditation is the key to that for me. On the verge of sleep in the REM state, I usually have the vivid stories hit me.

What do you think has contributed the most to your writing style?

The fact that I taught myself how to edit and recognize that I love the dialogue between characters that is in-depth and fun to write.

How can readers follow you online?

WEBSITE: www.southernowlpublications.net

Twitter: @cubbymom0403

Twitter: @Southernowl1

Blog: https://www.authormigrainecentral.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crysmisty9133

Southern Owl Publications Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/southernowlpublications/notifications/

Facebook Blog: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMigraineCentral/

Promouvoir Promotions:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/darkowlpromotions/?ref=bookmarks

#Mustread Midnight Oil Anthology

Midnight-Oil-ReleaseFotoJet-300x207Check out our new collection of short tales of deception, including tales by USA Today Bestselling Author, D.A. Roach, author, Joe King, Joe Pranaitis, Karen Vaughan, Taylor Floyd, Author Sarah Stein, Crystal L Gauthier, Freya LeCrow, Skyler Rankin, and Viv Drewa.

Midnight Oil Anthology, NOW AVAILABLE! $2.99
https://amzn.to/2KC1g7U
#NewRelease #Lies #MidnightOil, #Anthology, #Deception #Book, #Mustread
From Southern Owl Publications – https://www.southernowlpublications.net/

 

Midnight Oil Anthology Author, Joe Pranaitis

Q&A with Midnight Oil Anthology Author, Joe Pranaitis

Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life.

I am an author and producer. I grew up being exposed to Star Trek and the original BattleStar Galactica and later on Babylon 5, but the thing that has really influenced me was the book Star Trek: Final Frontier by Diane Carey.

What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?

I started out as an artist just drawing starships and then my mom and my uncle introduced me to the word processing program and I wrote several short stories. But it wasn’t until high school that I was given the assignment to write and draw my own comic book and that is where my original series Infinite Stars was born.

Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something else?

How I start is by taking time to read then I watch an episode of a series before sitting down at the computer and let my mind take flight.

Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?

All of my writing projects have been my favorite when I’ve worked on them.

Tell us a little about your story in the Midnight Oil Anthology.

It takes place a few hours after the ECS Andrea (See Shattered Time Anthology) was launched and Admiral Lynch has to find out why they haven’t returned yet so she orders her crew aboard the Nimitz to locate the designer of the experimental temporal engines.

Do you have works in progress?

Yes, I am currently rewriting two of what was my Kindle Worlds stories into books of their own that will fit within the universe of my stories from both Shattered Time and Midnight Oil.

What are your plans for your next book?

As above and the first book in the Temporal War trilogy of which it will be called should be out by next January or February.

Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?
No, unfortunately, I don’t

How do you stay in touch with your muse?
She and I have a great relationship and she always knows when I need her.

What do you think has contributed the most to your writing style?
What has is that I read a lot and I let my impanation take flight,

How can readers follow you online?

You can find me at my website http://trekprime.wixsite.com/joepranaitis, Goodreads,  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3143760.Joe_Pranaitis, Twitter https://twitter.com/JoePranaitis, and my Facebook author’s page  https://www.facebook.com/JoePranaitisAuthor/?ref=bookmarks

Teaser for Counterpoint

An hour after Admiral Lynch sees the ECS Andrea vanish into time she sees that they haven’t returned but hunts down the temporal engines designer to find out from him what went wrong. When she tracks him down he confesses that he wasn’t telling her the truth when he designed the temporal engines or that he isn’t even from the twenty-fourth century but from a year far up the timeline.

Midnight Oil Anthology Author, Sarah Stein

Sarah Stein, the author of An Honest Lie, featured in the Midnight Oil Anthology, dropped by my virtual office to share the low down on her short story. Midnight-Sarah-200x300

Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life.

I’ve always been an avid reader, and that’s one of the main reasons why I started writing my own tales. I’m from southern Louisiana but reside in south Texas with my husband of many years, two children, a German Shepherd, and a Dachshund. When I’m not spending quality time with them, I’m singing, reading, writing, or researching for the upcoming releases.

What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?

Before I became a writer, I worked in retail during the day and focused on my husband and children when they’d get off of work and school. Now, I write while they’re away. I’m lucky to have such an amazing support system.

Tell us about your writing process. Are you a panster, a plotter, or something else?

I’m a plotter all the way. Most of my notes are jotted down on the many notebooks that I have stored in my desk. I recently started saving files to Dropbox, but it’s just the manuscripts. I actually have three separate hard drives for backups. Lol

Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?

My favorite project was when I worked on The Dark Truth that was featured in the Tales After Midnight Anthology. I think every author featured had a blast working on that one. Unfortunately, it’ll be out of print really soon.

Tell us a little about your story in the Midnight Oil anthology.Midnight-Sarah-2-300x222

My story in the Midnight Oil Anthology is called ‘An Honest Lie.’ It focuses on keeping a secret that not even your best friend knows about. This secret actually affects her best friend, but the main character is torn between following her heart or squashing her dream and keeping things the way they are at the moment.

Do you have works in progress?

I have tons of work in progress. Lol This year, I plan on releasing the third book in my shifter series. I’m also releasing three other stories that will be featured in anthologies in Oct. Sept. and Dec. of 2018.

What are your plans for your next book?

I’m plotting for the fourth and final story in the shifter series and releasing that in 2019. I’m also working on an anthology piece that features a few erotica stories written by me.

Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?
My only interesting research was when I had to look up flaying a human being. Lol, It was for the Halloween anthology. To be honest, the research was very interesting.

How do you stay in touch with your muse?
I read, and read and read some more until I’m reading to write the next story. I don’t push myself unless I’m writing during NaNoWriMo.

My readers can find me online here:

Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/113903399454384/

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

Website: https://sarahsteinauthor.wordpress.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorsarahstein/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Author_SarahS_

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/256144.Sarah_Stein

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Stein/e/B01L0BZLCO

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/authorsarahstein

Midnight Oil Anthology Author, D.A. Roach

Q&A with Midnight Oil Anthology author, D.A. Roach, Author of Bent Bottom’s

bent-bottoms-288x300

1. Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life.

I grew up in the Midwest, lived in Chicagoland area, Michigan, Texas, and settled in Indiana. I’ve tried several careers, thankfully my outgoing personality, creativity, adaptability, and smarts have helped me explore various fields. I enjoy reading, watching hockey and tennis, going to concerts, writing, and drawing. Life hasn’t always been easy, in fact, my road seems to have more bumps than most, but it makes for an interesting life!

2. What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?

I have always been a story teller. Most of my tales were about real things that had happened in my life. I never considered writing the stories down, figuring they weren’t interesting enough for anyone to read about. But my dental hygienist asked why we were traveling to Tennessee for vacation and of course…there was a story behind it. When I finished telling the tale, she set down her instruments and said, “You have to write that down – write it in a book, it needs to be told!” So I gave it a try…never intended on writing more than that one story, but people started writing me via facebook messenger, asking me for more…and so I wrote again and here I am, 7 standalones and 8 anthologies later, I’m a USA Today Bestselling Author!DA-Author-pic-300x294

3. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something else?

I write out a rough plot, like the story summed up in 10 handwritten pages (pen and paper only to allow me the speed needed to get the ideas out). Then I build my characters, finding an image online, naming them, giving them a history…I also need to decide how they will change throughout the story and what plot points need to happen to cause those changes to happen. Once all of that is done, I powerup the laptop and begin writing. The first draft is always a bit of a mess, but then I read it through and polish it…then off to the editor it goes.

4. Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?

Honestly, one of my favorite writing projects was penning my first short horror story, Anesthesia in the 13, an Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction collection. I am a huge horror fan but have never attempted to write it before and it was a challenge…a rewarding challenge. I learned a lot about varying your style and length of sentence to create tension.

5. Tell us a little about your story in the Midnight Oil Anthology.

Joe King approached me and asked if I wanted to pen a tale of deception for the Anthology. I jumped at the chance to contribute to the project. Bent Bottom’s is about a relationship that has changed over time, with one partner wilting under the other’s dominance. When love has shifted into something else, it forces you to consider whether to stay in that kind of relationship or look for something different…perhaps something better.

6. Do you have works in progress?

YES! I’m working on wrapping up my Demon Hunters series!

7. What are your plans for your next book?

My next book is a reworking of Tethered and Inconsequential of the J+P series. It’s a YA drama and there will be at least 4 books.

8. Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?

Just my exciting google searches, like “ways to kill someone with an elevator”.

9. How do you stay in touch with your muse?

My muse is on my street team. She says the craziest things and challenges me to include them in my writing. We chat on FB messenger since she lives in Colorado. We have never met but I feel like she’s like my sister. I love her to death.

10. What do you think has contributed the most to your writing style?

Probably my reading – I enjoy reading character-rich books so I try to write books and stories that focus on the characters and how they change.

11. How can readers follow you online?
WEBPAGE: https://daroachfiction.com/
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/DARoachDA/
AMAZON AUTHOR PG: http://www.amazon.com/author/daroach
BOOK BUB: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/d-a-roach

ITTT WTH SNAFU

If you stopped by last week, I’m sure you noticed.  I mean, how could you not notice the SNAFU on my site.  There were no less than 300 duplicate posts on me staining our deck.  If you checked in on Twitter, you’d find the same.  It was a bad case of automation gone awry.  So here’s how that went down.In the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, computers advanced to such a degree that they controlled all aspects of life on the space station.  Hal 9000, a Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer, managed all kinds of tasks complex tasks for Dr. Dave Bowman, the main character. Everything went along swimmingly until Dave became suspicious of Hal’s behavior.  In 1968, technology in the film was really ‘out there’ based on standards of the time, but here we are in 2018, and we have all manner of virtual assistants doing everything from telling us jokes to ordering our groceries.  Anyway, Hal didn’t like that Dr. Dave tried to shut him down, so Hal took matters into his own hands.

I won’t spoil the outcome for you, but let’s just say Hal made life difficult for the crew.  Also around this time, some of the first home calculators were introduced, and I just had to have one. My dad was convinced it would rot my mind and was ticked off when my mom got me one for Christmas.  He may have been right because my friends and I secretly used them for nefarious purposes such as typing in numbers and turning it upside down so it would look like ‘Oh hell.’

Also around that time, some of the first video games came out. Well…actually the first video game. Pong.

Ahhhh, Pong. We had a cheap K-mart version of the game and delighted in playing it for hours on end.  It even had options! You could speed it up, change the angle of the puck, and for even greater competitive fun, you could make the paddles smaller.  You could set up the game so it would play itself non-stop.  I can only rationalize the appeal of this by saying we had just three network television stations, and all of our TVs were black and white.  Kids programs were only shown on Saturdays. So yeah, we were bored.  We’d turn on the pong and let it play itself, probably because there was nothing else on but soap operas after school.  I can still hear the rhythmic Beep-buh-b-beep, Beep in my head, droning on until our parents came home and bopped us for wasting electricity.

But just like in 2001, automation works great…until it doesn’t.  I recently tried out IFTTT (If This, Then That) a company that offers independently developed apps that automate repetitive tasks. The premise is the apps save time by performing various functions on the web on your behalf.  Since most of us indie authors spend huge amounts of time promoting our own work online, the possibility of farming repetitive tasks out to a free app was really tempting to me.  After all, every minute saved is another minute I can use writing, or editing, or giving my cat attention as she stages a sit-in on my keyboard.

So, I signed up for IFTTT and chose a combination of apps that I thought would help me share blog posts on my Facebook page and on Twitter. I couldn’t find a single app to do everything I wanted, so I picked out a few, thinking they would all do their thing, making my life so much better.  I assumed each app would do its work on autopilot, kind of like Pong.

But like Hal 9000, my apps behaved a little differently than I expected.  For example, I had an app to copy Blogger posts to Facebook and another to send Facebook posts to Blogger.  Simple enough in theory.  What I didn’t bank on was that the apps don’t differentiate between posts that I make and posts that the apps make. So while I slept soundly, confident that my new-found app buddies were doing my work like little elves making shoes in the night, they were playing the virtual equivalent of auto-Pong with a twist.  They were communicating with each other, and the results were horrific. More than 300 duplicate blog posts had been shared on Facebook, my blog, and Twitter before I realized what was going on.

So now that I’m out of social media jail, I’ve cleaned up my act and have removed some posts.  I even found an app that would automatically do it for me. What could go wrong?  But then I thought about Hal and decided I should do it myself.  As I deleted the very last of the 300+ entries, I could have sworn I heard Hal’s voice saying, “Hello, Skyler. What are you doing, Skyler?”

 

Midnight Oil Authors – Karen Vaughan

Veteran author Karen Vaughan is our next featured contributor to Midnight Oil:  An Anthology, a new collection from Southern Owl Publications.  Hailing from Canada, Karen writes murder mysteries, as she puts it, “Killing People Off One Page at a Time.”


Karen Vaughan, Contributing Author featured in Midnight Oil:  An Anthology

I caught up with Karen to ask her some questions about her writing as we get psyched for the release of our anthology.  So, tell us, Karen:

1. Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life. 

Day to day life involves promoting indie authors with my partners Viv Drewa and Dellani Oakes for Owl & Pussycat Promotions. I also write or try to write each day, and hang out with hubby, so he doesn’t feel neglected.

2. What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?Before I was a writer, I worked for a local mental health agency as a vocational rehabilitation counselor. I am a mom and a wife who loves card and board games. I also love to socialize with friends. I was home on sick leave from work and got bored. I had an idea kicking around in my brain and decided then was a good time to write it, and I never stopped writing

3. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something else? 

Dedicated plantser— I line up my characters and a basic plot. I write longhand first and then dictate the novel using dragon software.
4. Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?
The story I am working on for another anthology under the sea. My story is about a mermaid shifter who after an accident loses her memory and forgets what and who she is. It is a fantasy, and it’s my first one ever. I am pretty stoked about it.


5. Tell us a little about your story in the midnight oil anthology.

My story is about Alice who has always wanted to go to the moon. Disenchanted with her marriage, she takes off on what she thinks is a cross-country trip but is really a trip to outer space with some very deceptive aliens.

6. Do you have works in progress?

The mermaid with the seahorse tattoo, dead air (Laura & Gerry series #8) a bottle of red (romance)
7. What are your plans for your next book? 

I want to take my laura and Gerry series international after they win the mega lotto they will travel the world and find murder and mayhem everywhere they go.
8.  Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share? 

I try not to research as I am basically lazy, but I have researched comedy clubs for one of my books and watched lots of routines.
9. How do you stay in touch with your muse? 

Blogging and writing anything I can.
10. What do you think has contributed the most to your writing style?
My warped sense of humor.
11.  How can your readers follow you online?
Website:  https://karenwritesmurder.com/ I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know about the authors featured in this anthology from Southern Owl Publications.  Be sure to check out their other great reads here.

 

Meet the Midnight Oil Authors – Skyler Rankin

This week, I’ll be sharing interviews from authors whose work is featured in Southern Owl Publications’ upcoming release, Midnight Oil:  An Anthology.  Today’s interview is with yours truly, Skyler Rankin.  Here are my answers to the Midnight Oil interview team’s questions:

 

Skyler Rankin, Author
Recording at the studio at Woodland Media Creative Services

1. Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick. Tell us about your life.

I have a day job working as an administrator with a university, and like most other independent writers, I spend my downtime penning stories. There’s not a huge amount of downtime, unfortunately. I’m also taking some online classes to finish a degree, so yes, I often bite off more than I can comfortably chew.  I’m an empty-nester, and I live with my husband and a small herd of domestic pets. We have two cats, a dog, and a plethora of woodland creatures who have declared themselves my wards by eating anything I attempt to grow.  I’m a creative person who has a hard time focusing on one thing at a time, which means I have multiple projects going on at once.

2. What was your life like before you became a writer, and how did you get your start as an author?
I began writing early in my pre-teen years, and I always knew I wanted to be an author. I had really practical parents though, who preached the importance of having a real job.  Even though it was a tough reality to accept, writing is hard for multiple reasons. First, you craft your stories, which is far more challenging than it sounds, and then you work to publish. Back then, electronic publishing did not exist, and vanity publishing was frowned upon, not to mention expensive.  Getting published meant typing your work out on a manual typewriter, sending it off and waiting, and waiting, and sometimes getting no response at all. For many years, I lived on my academic and non-fiction, and now that I’m nearing retirement, I hope to continue with my first love, fiction.
3. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser, a plotter, or something else?
I really appreciate the power of an outline for keeping my work on track.  However, there are times that spontaneous writing just feels better and more natural. I’ve carved out my own style which usually begins with a rough outline, following it through to get the story down, and then going back over it to add the flavor that pantsing can provide.
4. Do you have a favorite writing project or a book that still haunts your dreams that you would like to share?
I have so many projects haunting my dreams that it’s hard to pin down a favorite. Time would help. Between working my day job and taking care of my personal life, there’s little time for writing, especially when indies must also do most of their own promotion as well. And while it sounds like a complaint, the truth is, I’m happiest when writing, and nothing thrills me quite like knowing I’ve given someone a fantastic story.
5. Tell us a little about your story in the Midnight Oil Anthology.
Baked is a novella, a mini-mystery centered on characters in the fictional town of Mariner’s Bluff on the shores of Lake Erie.  The main character, Trina Sharp, is a former investigative reporter disgraced by having lost her job with a major newspaper.  Down on her luck, she retreated to Mariner’s Bluff and took a job at the local paper, a position well below the considerable talent she thinks she’s lost.Newcomer Jacki Vickers opens a bakery.  To the dismay of local officials, she plans to sell gourmet muffins with a special ingredient, marijuana, for medicinal purposes.  She’s skirting the law, and locals are concerned the business could taint their image as a family-friendly vacation spot.

The timing is especially unfortunate, given the town’s first big fall festival featuring a huge bass fishing tournament that is garnering national attention.  In spite of Jacki’s gutsy move, or perhaps because of it, Trina finds Jacki fascinating.  Jacki rebuffs Trina’s interest and keeps her at arm’s length.

A young man is found shot dead in the middle of town, just a short distance from the bakery, and evidence of Jacki’s wares is found on the body, along with something else that threatens to put her away for a long, long time.  Like a hound on a blood trail, Trina’s passion for the mystery takes over as she hits the investigative trail.  Jacki needs her help more than she wants to admit, but she still pushes Trina away.Clearly, Jacki is more than a businesswoman who landed in Mariner’s Bluff to open a bakery, but what?  What is her connection to this young man, and what might she have done that may lock her away for life?  Is it Trina’s attraction to Jacki driving her need to solve the crime, her need to redeem herself, or a little of both?

As with most of my stories, I envision images for the characters and settings.  I roughed out a mock-up cover for this novella to help me set the tone for writing.  If the story were released on its own, the cover would look something like this:

6. Do you have works in progress?
Yes, several.  I’m working on the sequel to Viral Dawn, which will be entitled Viral Storm.  The story picks up with heroine Casey Williams after she is infected by a zombie’s bite while trying to evade military detection in her effort to leave the country to expose the damning evidence she has against BioGenetics, the company that manufactured the deadly virus.  Kyle Carter, her new love interest and former soldier, refuses to leave her side even though she threatens to expose their location to the enemy if he doesn’t.Instead, he catches her off guard and gives her their first kiss, one that seals his fate to hers by infecting him as well.  The two are now off to procure a new vaccine in development that is rumored to stop the disease.  Casey and Kyle, so smart and resourceful, are now racing against time where little is in their control.  They’ve made a suicide pact should the virus affect them before they reach their only hope.

Will they make it safely to the research facility before the military or BioGenetics’ contracted guerillas find them?  Will they succumb to the virus before they can get help?  IF they make it, can they obtain the vaccine before the developers find out who they are?  What about the friends they left behind? Can they make it to Canada and expose BioGenetics in time to take the heat off Casey and Kyle?I recently updated the cover for Viral Dawn, and I think it is a more precise reflection of the story:

 

7. What are your plans for your next book?
After I finish Viral Storm, I may or may not do a sequel.  It depends on what Casey wants.  Meanwhile, I have another suspense mystery mapped out that involves the whiskey industry in Kentucky. The tentative title is Barrel Proof.
8. Do you have an especially interesting research experience to share?
I take lots of really odd pictures.  Whenever we go on vacation or even when I’m out and about doing daily work, if I see something that looks like an interesting story or that might make an interesting cover image, I snap a photo and keep it…apparently forever. Sometimes other people look at me funny when they see me taking pictures of something really strange like a dilapidated building or a section of a wall. They probably think I’m crazy, which is just a synonym for writer.
9. How do you stay in touch with your muse?
Okay, I have to say that sometimes my muse is bossy.  She used to be really elusive. I could sit for hours or months and get no good ideas.  Now that she’s older, she just comes on out and beats me into submission.  In Baked, for example, I had every intention of making Trina’s story all about the mystery.  Period.  My muse informed me, and Trina was backing her up on this, that Trina was gay, and this story would have a romantic interest between her and Jacki.  I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t sure I could pull this off, but they wouldn’t back down.  In fact, when I tried to take the novella in another direction, they just left and would not come back until I committed to the story.
Eventually, I gave up because I just work here. I have to admit. They were right. It’s a better story.  As an FYI, they gave in to me when I reminded them this was a YA-to-adult book, so they cooperated in keeping the story tame in the romance department.
10. What do you think has contributed the most to your writing style?
For so many years, I’ve focused on what other people tell me to write or what satisfied the need.  At times, I think I did this to the detriment of my own voice.  At this point, I’m writing the way I think and feel is best.  I’m letting the words and phrases flow instead of analyzing everything in light of others’ advice.  This isn’t to suggest that others can’t be helpful or that advice I’ve received in the past was necessarily bad, but in the end, it’s the writer’s story.  I’ve found I have to listen to that inner voice we call the muse.  If I don’t, she and my characters will gang up on me.
11. How can readers follow you online?

 

I’m on several websites, and I do occasionally do Twitter, but probably the best places to follow me are on my website at  www.skylerrankin.com  or my Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/Skyler.Rankin.Author/  I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know about the authors featured in this anthology from Southern Owl Publications.  Be sure to check out their other great reads here.

 

The Phantom

Those who know me best know that I love my fur babies.  About a month ago, I lost a dear senior cat who had been my constant companion from the day we got her. She had been a rescue kitty, and when we brought her home, she was frantic. I barely got her into the house because she was so scared.  I managed to hold her for about 15 seconds and talk to her before she shredded my hands and escaped into the basement. We settled in for what I thought was going to be a really long adjustment period, but surprisingly, the following morning, I woke up feeling really hot and sweaty with the cat lying across my neck like a big fluffy scarf.  Needless to say, I was smitten.  She followed me wherever I went in the house and laid across my shoulder while I typed.  I called her my editor.  She was my comfort when my life transitioned into empty nesthood and beyond. Her passing was sudden, and we think it was likely heart failure.  It was hard for me, but not a bad way to go for her, and I’m thankful for that.

I went through a period of not being sure whether I wanted to adopt another cat. I think we all do that. We love them like family, and when we think of losing them, it just seems too hard. But, then, as surely as the sun rises, we eventually find ourselves wanting to reach out and offer love and a home to another.  Enter Phantom.

Phantom was so majestic that it was love at first sight. He was classified as a domestic long hair, but I think he may be part Maine Coon. He’s huge. Not fat, but lanky and long-legged. His face is masked, and at first, I thought about calling him Zorro.  Surprisingly though, once I got him home, he disappeared. I knew he was upstairs somewhere, but I honestly could not find him.  I put out some food and water and waited. During that time, I decided Phantom would be more appropriate. It took about three weeks for him to show himself, and how he seems to be settling in some.

 

Regular Stuff

If you’ve been following my stories about Phantom, our recently adopted kitty, you know what a difficult time he’s had adjusting to his new home at the Rankin’s place.  The Humane Society told me he had been adopted from there as a kitten and that his owners had him for several years before bringing him back. It seems that due to some unavoidable situations, they were unable to keep him.  I suppose that is why it was hard for him.  I can’t imagine.  His big, soulful eyes won me over at first sight.Once at our house, it took him almost three weeks to come out of hiding, but I’m delighted to report he’s doing so much better!  He even goes outside now.  He’s bonded with our other furbabies and is acting like he was born here. He’s even misbehaving by getting on the table, which I sort of see as a good sign. 😊 Of course, that’s a habit we’ll work on.  He sleeps on the back of the couch, and he gets so relaxed, he lies almost flat, like he’s been deflated.

He’s still a bit camera shy, but I was able to get a better photo of him with his eyes open…aren’t they dreamy?

 

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

df666-viral2bdawn5hiresAs you’ve noticed, I’m re-releasing Viral Dawn with an updated cover, and I anticipate releasing the sequel soon.  I thought it might be a good time to start answering some of the questions readers have asked about Viral Dawn and other things. Here are some of the latest questions:

Question:  Why did you end Viral Dawn with a cliffhanger? I really don’t like them.

Answer:  Hi there, and thanks for writing!  I appreciate your question.  I admit I had to think on this one a bit because it wasn’t my intention to end the book with a cliffhanger.

Viral Dawn was intended to work as a stand-alone story, so I wrote the ending hoping to convey a positive outcome while leaving the door open for future stories. So, the end of the last chapter, the ending (without giving away spoilers) is basically that the characters are where they are and are moving toward their stated goal.  In the last few pages, I wanted to convey a sense of a positive outcome while leaving the story open to future possibilities, as many books do.

Later, when I began writing Viral Storm, I decided to go back to Viral Dawn and a sample of the first chapter of Viral Storm.  My intention was to offer the first chapter of the work in progress to help readers decide if they want to read the next book.

You know what they say about intentions. (Grinning) I believe it’s that bonus chapter that you felt left you hanging.  That wasn’t at all what I planned, and I really want my readers to have good experiences with my books.  While writing Viral Storm, I was also studying the book, Immediate Fiction, by Jerry Cleaver.  It focuses on developing skills that keep readers turning pages.  So, it was with those techniques in mind that I drafted out the first part of Viral Storm. When I put it in at the end of Viral Dawn, I wasn’t thinking about anything but the story, which was a mistake.

The last thing I intended to do was disappoint anyone, and I’m so sorry you didn’t like it.  For that reason, if you’re still interested, I’m sending you a free download for Viral Storm.  I hope you like it, and thanks so much for caring enough to write.

Breaking News from the Zombie Front

I’ve got excellent news from the zombie front. I’ve just put the finishing touches on the new cover for the first book in my apocalyptic series, Viral Dawn!  While I loved the previous cover, I wanted a new look that more closely matched the story.  And…..voila! The new cover was created by yours truly, and I really like how it shows Casey facing down the onslaught of zombies like the boss she is.

Here’s the new, more descriptive jacket copy:
What if your world changed in a split second, destroying everything you thought you knew and thrusting you into a world where your very survival depends on every move you make, every decision, and every step you take? Every. Move. Matters.
An explosion at the army depot unleashes a deadly cloud carrying a genetically engineered virus that turns people into flesh-eating zombies. High school senior, Casey Williams has taken refuge at the school with friends and the few others who managed to survive the blast and ensuing viral outbreak.  They’re safe. For now.  But supplies are running short, and tempers are running shorter as Casey realizes the time is coming they will need to get out.  She is determined to lead her friends to safety only to discover that she’s led them into even greater danger. Determined to save her friends, she fights the living and the undead in her quest to survive.
I’m mapping out the story for book two in the series, Viral Storm, which I hope will be finished by early next year.  I’ve got a few other projects that absolutely must be done before we find out what happens with Casey and her hunky soldier BF Kyle. Stay tuned.

 

Midnight Oil Anthology

The authors of Southern Owl Publications have been mixing up a brand new brew of great reads for your entertainment in the Midnight Oil Anthology, available now on Amazon.

The worlds of multiple authors echo in the shadows and will keep you reading into the late-night hours in the Midnight Oil Anthology, a collection of stories highlighting tales of deception. Mingled with romance, horror, mystery, dark humor, and fantasy, this suspenseful collection of stories will have readers on the edge of their seats, biting their nails in worry, and unable to put it down until the tension is resolved. The anthology features works from both established and emerging authors, who were hand-selected for this project.
The assembly of authors includes Joe King, author of the five-star rated meta-fiction hit Raw Egg, Taylor Floyd, highly-acclaimed fantasy author of A Nightingale’s Tale, romance-writing guru Sarah Stein, D.A. Roach, who is most known for various genres of YA novels but also writes series novels of horror and dark fiction, Joe Pranaitis, an acclaimed Sci-fi/Fantasy writer, Freya LeCrow, who has been an author for many years and has created many mystery and paranormal stories, Viv Drewa, a.k.a. The Owl Lady, who writes fictional murder, mystery, romance, and adventure books, Karen Vaughan—a humorous storyteller of murder and mystery, Southern Owl Publications publisher and author, Crystal L. Gauthier, and Skyler Rankin, the newest on the literary scene as an author of YA, paranormal, and mystery stories.

All of these authors are of high caliber, and the Midnight Oil anthology is a collection of writing that has something for everybody. From thrills to chills and side-splitting shrills, this collection is sure to please readers of all tastes. For those who dare to turn its pages, just be sure to keep that midnight oil burning.

 

 

Keeping up with Jerry Pociask

43646118_1741821159255434_2239061597815308288_n (1)I recently had the opportunity to create an audio sampler for my friend and fellow writer, Jerry Pociask to assist with his promotions. It was exciting working with Jerry and a delight to work with his material, which is a bit of a departure for me. The sample, which you can listen to below, is a chapter entitled End of Life from his book, Hidden Lives: An Anthology. It’s an excerpt from the lives of a man and his wife facing their last moments together as she battles cancer. It was especially touching for me because the couple in the story are from the World War II generation, as my parents were. It brought back many memories for me. I hope you enjoy it.