Author Interview, cozy mystery, IWSG, Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mysteries, Romantic Comedy, Smitten with Travel

Writing Update, PLUS Dark Matter: Artificial Release | IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It’s a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there’s an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they’re struggling with what to say.

This month’s question is:

Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?

Check out how people have answered this month’s question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list HERE.

My short answer to this question is “yes” and “yes, then no.” One of the reviews for Smitten with Croissants said that it was just short of a romcom. At first I was surprised because it is a romcom. Or at least, that’s what I was trying to write. Then I recalled some of the books that I’ve read labeled as romcoms which didn’t even make me crack a smile. Yet other people said they had them rolling on the floor in laughter. It was a good reminder that humor is soooo subjective. What makes me giggle causes other people to roll their eyes.

Anyway, enough of that – I’ve got more in store for you. First a writing update, then I’m celebrating the release of Dark Matter: Artificial with an interview with one of its authors, Stephanie Espinoza Villamor.

Writing Update

Overboard on the Ocean was released at the end of April! This is the final full-length book in my Mollie McGhie cozy mystery series. (Don’t worry Mollie fans, there’s a Christmas novella planned – we couldn’t let Mollie sail to the Bahamas without solving one more murder, could we?)

If you like cozy mysteries with lots of goofy humor*, plenty of chocolate, and adorable cats, you can pick up a copy at your favorite retailer:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (AU)

Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple Books | Google Play | Smashwords

*Note: As discussed above, my idea of goofy humor might not be yours. 🙂

I finished writing Smitten with Candy Canes in April – whoo-hoo! This novella will be released exclusively as part of the Love, Laughter & Happily Ever After sweet romantic comedy collection in July. You can pre-order your copy HERE for only 99c. All pre-order profits go to Pets for the Elderly!

Can you help with the release of Love, Laughter & Happily Ever After either by reading and reviewing an ARC of my novella and/or spreading the word about the collection? You can? That’s awesome! Just fill out this form and I’ll be in touch!

Dark Matter: Artificial – Interview with Stephanie Espinoza Villamor

I’m excited to interview the winner of the Dark Matter: Artificial anthology – Stephanie Espinoza Villamor! I loved Stephanie’s story, as well as all the others. (You can read my review HERE.) If you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, you can snag one at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (AU)

Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books

Now, on to the interview. Grab a beverage and a snack, sit back, and find out what Stephanie has to say about writing, cookies, and penguins.

1 – What inspired / motivated you to write this story?

Two members of my writing group participated in the Insecure Writers Support Group anthology contest the year before I did. My dear friend Beth Anderson Schuck was selected as one of the top 10 authors that year, and her story, “The Orchard” can be found in Voyagers: The Third Ghost. I wanted to participate, but just had a baby and couldn’t do much of anything in those early months with a newborn! So I promised myself I’d try when the contest came around again. Then they announced the genre and theme: Science fiction. Dark matter. I didn’t know anything about dark matter! I’d never really written science fiction before (mostly fantasy and contemporary). But I brainstormed while my baby slept. Inspired by a habit of saving every memory as photo (my husband will tell you how obsessed I am with pictures) and a friend’s master’s thesis on artificial intelligence, I came up with an AI that has a photo memory and the dark matter found within it.

2 – What stage are you at in your writing and publishing journey?

I feel very much in the middle of my writing and publishing journey. I’ve loved to write since I was a child, and even started sending query letters out for an unpublished fantasy novel when I was 16. I researched the publishing industry a lot as a young adult (remember the SASE? We don’t need Self-Addressed Stamped Envelopes anymore with email queries). Then college and jobs and married life kept me busy, and while I continued to write when I could, I didn’t really focus on publishing again until closer to 2016 when I formed a writing group with Beth and other friends. In 2017 I also joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators to workshop a middle grade novel I’d been writing for years. I continue to try to publish middle grade novels, but I’m working on several short stories for publication contests in the meantime and hope to hear back from them soon!

3 – Do you have any writing rituals?

My son is 21 months old, so my biggest writing ritual is waiting until he falls asleep to start writing anything. Seriously though, while I don’t have any strict rituals, I do find it’s easier to write when I’m motivated by other writers—when I’ve just come out of a writing group meeting or just read an author blog post or finished a really great story. It just makes me want to write even more.

4 – What’s more important – character or plot?

I’m very big on writing character. Individual identities intrigue me so much that sometimes I’ll come up with a character and a concept without any idea of where the story is going to end up. This is definitely a problem, because then I don’t always finish what I start. So you must have a good balance of both if you want to be successful; one can’t really be more important than the other. But I will say that if you have a compelling enough character, and come up with an ending that you want to reach, the plot does become a lot easier. I don’t know if the same can be said if you have a really compelling plot but no one to put in the story for readers to care about.

5 – What do you like best about being an author? What do you like the least?

I love writing! I love getting “in the zone” when I have an idea that excites me, and crafting fun dialogue for interesting characters. Being an author means you get to create something personal, whether it’s worlds you’ve always wanted to live in or people who you’d love to get to know. What do I like least? There’s a lot of internal pressure to produce. And there’s always that fear that if you’re not producing, can you call yourself an author? (Spoiler alert: you can). I really enjoy editing, but I get overwhelmed sometimes thinking about all the things I might have to go back and edit in a novel draft if I decide to make a major change. And, of course, there’s going to be anxiety with any situation where you put your work out there to be judged by others. But it’s definitely worth it–otherwise I wouldn’t keep putting myself through it!

6 – What’s your favorite cookie? If you don’t like cookies, what’s wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite – “Why don’t you like cookies?”

Gosh, I’m more of a cake and ice cream kind of person…but I thought about this question more than most people probably deliberate on cookie preferences. I like peanut butter, oatmeal, gingerbread, graham crackers, shortbread, cookies with icing, and Mexican polvorones (especially the pink ones). But I think my favorite would have to be a nice vanilla biscotti dipped in coffee. And it cannot have anise—I am NOT a fan of anise seed. But I am a big fan of coffee. You should ask me about my coffee preferences….

7 – A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you?

Well, penguins cannot talk, so he doesn’t say anything. But I will look him up and down, and realize his beautifully embroidered charro hat matches his black mariachi outfit and so I’ll do all the talking. Clearly he’s here to perform for our family. “Permiso. Nos puede tocar ‘Solamente Una Vez?’” I don’t speak much Spanish, but my mom says that’s how I could ask him to play her wedding song.

8 – What else would you like us to know about you?

In my bio for Dark Matter: Artificial I was able to sum up my identity being a “librarian writer mom.” Those are some of the most important pieces of who I am. I’m close with my family. I love my jobs. Oh, and I’m also a big geek! Before having a baby I played video games ranging from MMOs to RPGs, everything from Fallout 4 to Spider-Man to Disney Sing It karaoke! Now I’m happy playing real life games that make my son laugh and reading to him as he sits in my lap.

Connect with Stephanie on Facebook | Twitter | Website

Dark Matter: Artificial – Blurb

Discover dark matter’s secrets…

What is an AI’s true role? Will bumbling siblings find their way home from deep space? Dark matter is judging us—are we worthy of existence? Would you step through a portal into another reality? Can the discoverer of dark matter uncover its secrets?

Ten authors explore dark matter, unraveling its secrets and revealing its mysterious nature. Featuring the talents of Stephanie Espinoza Villamor, C.D. Gallant-King, Tara Tyler, Mark Alpert, Olga Godim, Steph Wolmarans, Charles Kowalski, Kim Mannix, Elizabeth Mueller, and Deniz Bevan.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales will take readers on a journey across time and space. Prepare for ignition!

Congratulations to all the authors of Dark Matter: Artificial! Have you grabbed a copy of the anthology? What good books have you read lately?

16 thoughts on “Writing Update, PLUS Dark Matter: Artificial Release | IWSG”

  1. Hope the penguin performs a celebratory dance for you, Stephanie. Very cool Beth inspired you to submit this year. And paid off since yours was the top story!


  2. Overboard sounds like a fun book! You are right, humor is very much in the eye of the beholder, or in the ear? I’m not sure how some authors do it.


  3. “Almost” a romcom? Oh please. You’re books hilarious! Each to their own, though.

    Great interview! Looking forward to the anthology.


  4. Ellen! If you can make people laugh, you’re a master! It takes great talent for that. Yay!

    Congrats on your new book!
    what a great interview!


  5. Love the interview. And what on earth would your book be if not a romcom? i love your wacky sense of humor 🙂


  6. Such a milestone finishing your mystery series, Ellen! But you are giving away the end (Mollie sailing to the Bahamas) when you mention the final novella… 🙂 Now it’s time for the fan fiction to take off! Congratulations again. You are amazing!


  7. Great interview! I know exactly what you mean about that drive that comes from being around other writers. Love the energy from a writing conference or other event!


  8. Enjoyed reading your IWSG post for May (a month late!) for several reasons. Liked the honesty you approached May’s question with, for we can’t always understand why our readers react the way they do! I also liked the way you wove in promo for your own book AND for the IWSG anthology — as well as an author interview. Much work, good writing, especially for a mom of an under two-year-old. Wow. I hope the coming months bring you more writing time and wish you every success.


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