Author Interviews

Author Interview with Susanne Leist, Paranormal Mystery Writer

ProfileHello, everyone! Welcome to today’s author interview with paranormal mystery/thriller author Susanne Leist! Susanne has always had a passion for writing and has achieved her life-long goal of writing her debut novel. Please stick around and discover her and her book, The Dead Game.

Hello, Susanne! Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

After college, I worked in the fields of commodities, financial analysis, and budgeting. I went back to school for an M.B.A. in Finance. But my creative side had been calling out to me for years, wanting to be set free. I finally listened to it and wrote my first book, The Dead Game, a paranormal mystery/thriller with vampires and vampire derivatives.

I am married with two beautiful daughters. My oldest is married and works as a buyer for an internet company. My second is graduating from college and will go on to graduate school for social work.

My life is complete.

What’s your writing background?

My writing background is my love for the written word. I have been reading adult books since the age of ten. When I say adult books, I am referring to the murder mysteries that my older brother was reading at the time. He devoured books, a few each week. I followed him into the magic world of books. He read Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, and Alistair Maclean and so did I.

I wrote my book to honor his memory. It took me ten long years to hone my craft. I had to begin at step one and teach myself through editing and grammar books the proper way to write. I hope I made him proud.

When it comes to reviews, do you have a thick skin? How do you handle negative feedback?

I’ve never had a thick skin. I’m sensitive about my feelings and other people’s feelings. I find it hard to give a bad review. I could always find something good to say about a book. But I received a few poor reviews, at the beginning.

These reviews were from fellow authors in review groups. At first, I was hurt and discouraged. Then I noticed a trend to them. They were criticizing the same few things about my book. I was telling too much of the story and not showing the reader enough. I was using too many adverbs. I studied these reviews and read more editing books. My book had been edited by Outskirts Press, but I edited it again.

I believe my book is done. I’m happy with it. It is all what I had dreamed it could be. My reviews have been good so far—fingers crossed.

What inspires your stories? What draws you to your preferred genre?

I’ve always loved to read murder mysteries. I’ve read all types of mysteries, from Agatha Christie to Sherlock Holmes. In recent years, I’ve begun to watch TV shows with paranormal themes. My favorites are The Originals and Supernatural. They combine horror with wit.

I have always found it hard to find books that offer mystery in paranormal settings. That’s why I decided to write a paranormal, murder mystery of my own. My book, The Dead Game, has dead bodies, clues, and suspects like a traditional murder mystery. However, it also has humans, vampires, and vampire derivatives. A little humor is added along the way. And don’t forget the haunted house—we must have one of these.

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

  The Dead Game is the first in a series of three books. The first book resolves the murder mystery, but at the same time, opens a Pandora’s Box of new mysteries. Its surprise ending will lead to more surprises.

Once The Dead Game is established in the marketplace, I will begin my work on the second book. I have an outline and notes all ready to be written. My writing often leads me in unknown directions, so I won’t know how the book will end until it does.

The story opens with a horrific scene at End House, setting the stage for the rest of the book. End House is situated in an idyllic town in Florida, where tourists frolic on its white-sand beaches. But this paradise turns deadly as bodies wash up on shore. The small town is ravaged by winds and dark shadows.


    Three young women move to Oasis for its secluded white-sand beaches. What they find is anything but peace and quiet. They and their new friends are invited to a party at a deserted house. That is when the fun and games begin. They are thrust into a deadly game between humans, vampires, and The Dead.

Linda wants to find a new home and to trust Todd, who might be the ring leader of the evil group. Shana wants love with Sheriff Sam, but he is too close with the nocturnal, original residents. And Louise finds that she doesn’t fit into this small town of secrets and intrigue.

Do they uncover The Dead and save their town? Or are they sucked into the descending realms of the supernatural?

The Dead Game has begun.

Can you tell us one or two quirky thing about yourself? Other hobbies besides writing?

Besides reading and writing, I enjoy shopping, mostly for handbags, and swimming. Swimming gives me the strength to shop and write.

What’s one thing about writing you would have liked to have known before getting behind the computer?

I hadn’t realized beforehand that writing a book was so hard. Characters have to move around and speak at the same time. They can’t sound the same. After all the rewrites, the plot and story of my book has remained the same. Only the dialogue and grammar have changed. I believe I could edit for the rest of my life and still not be satisfied.

The writing and publishing process has been a steep learning curve for me. But I would not have had it any other way.

Did you go traditional or self-publish?

I published through Outskirts, which is a do-it-yourself type of self-publishing house. Once my book had been improved, I was offered a menu of services to choose from. Most of these were expensive. I picked editing and their publishing service. Everything else had to be chosen a la carte.

One day, the publisher informed me that my book had been published. I thought that this meant it was printed. Not only was it printed, it was sitting on Amazon and Nook without a description or bio. It looked sad. I panicked. I had to learn how to use Google. I opened blogs. I found Facebook and Twitter. Luckily, I found some nice authors who helped me with my countless questions.

Advice to those looking to break into your genre? On marketing and selling?

It is important for an author to have everything in place before launching his or her book. I learned the hard way after I self-published. Blogs, websites, and social sites like Google and Twitter should be ready and waiting. Summaries and bios should also be prepared in advance. After the book is released, it should be announced everywhere with bold pictures and words. People will be ready and eager to read it. That’s my goal for my next book, which will be the second book in The Dead Game series.

How can readers get into contact with you?

My readers can find me through my blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Google. I respond to all questions and remarks. I love to interact with my followers and read their opinions.



Thanks for reading, everyone. Please let Susanne know how much you enjoyed her interview by leaving a message below, or visiting one of her sites. Have a great week, and tune in next Monday for our next interviewee.


Author Interviews, Essays, Misc

Author Interview with Science Fiction Writer Shirley Gibson Coleman

Shirley Coleman, author of “Mersoon Rising”
Shirley Coleman, author of “Mersoon Rising”

Hello, everyone! It’s wonderful to see you all this fine Monday morning, and while I’m at it, I’ll add that it’s wonderful to have a special guest with us today as well: Shirely Gibson Coleman! Shirley is a published author of six novels including Mersoon Rising, a science fiction novel, but she’s been writing her whole life. Please stay a while and help me welcome her to Dropped Pebbles.

Oh, and for more information on her and her work, you can check out this excellent newspaper article .

It’s so good to meet you, Shirley. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

I live with my husband of many years outside of in Michigan just. I work full-time at a district library. I don’t read books as often as I used to or would like. More often I listen to mysteries. Writing and preparing manuscripts for publication; editing both my work and at the library, there’s little time for anything else but online communications such as this. Thanks for having me. My life is quiet. I enjoy various kinds of music (jazz, rock, classical, gospel, Celtic, new age) Japanese anime, fancy sports cars, Sci-fi movies and action movies, period films like Jane Eyre and  PBS mysteries and Masterpiece Theater. I’m a Dr. Who loving, Syfy channel watching, homebody with few friends.  We go walking in various parks but rarely go to the movies or anywhere else. It will be a big change for me to go off signing books and talking to a bunch of people I don’t know.

Oh, I knew you were special! I love anime as well 🙂

Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing?

I’m a fair artist and can create clay sculptures, watercolors, and acrylics. Used to do vocals in a band and my husband played bass guitar but not anymore.

Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it?

I love to make up stories and I don’t remember not making up stories. I find the possibility of alien life fascinating and I believe God created other worlds with living beings.

What keeps you motivated/inspired?

Life and the people I observe or read about, motivate me to tell versions of their stories. Watching the news and hearing reactions from people I don’t know, stimulates stories. I eavesdrop a lot— story-lines or plot scenarios come about from brief encounters in everyday life. I also remember vivid dreams. One of my books came from a vivid dream.

It’s amazing what you can learn from people-watching

What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? 

I’ve written short stories but few are very good in my opinion.  But writing them is good practice. I write poetry just for myself, friends or family. I’d rather write novels. So far, I’ve completed six novels including Mersoon Rising. If you Google Shirley Gibson Coleman, reviews I penned for Library Journal should pop up. I wrote and illustrated a children’s book that was considered by Golden Books but eventually turned down.

What can you never see yourself writing?

YA books. Books about zombies, werewolves, shape-shifters or fairies.

As a reader, what do you think makes a good story?

I enjoy stories with male protagonists. I’ve grown weary of tales about contemporary women looking for Mr. Right or who have been wronged by someone. I prefer third person and have often put down a book that’s in first person. And yet I want the story to reveal secret, perhaps unsettling thoughts of the characters. I like stories with happy endings and hate it when the main character dies at the end. I read a book by a famous author once. The story was great and he had me to the last chapter. Then he killed the main character! Never read any of his other books! And it ruined me, Dyane. I’m now a spoiler reader. That is, I choose a book but I read the end first to find out who dies! That’s awful…

Um, I’ve been known to skip ahead and read the end of a few books  myself…

What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?

Try with all my might not to write a tale with predictable scenes. If my readers do have an idea how a scene will end, I try to make the journey unique as possible. It isn’t easy and I’m not sure yet if I’ve accomplished it but I’d love to hear what readers think.

Okay, Readers! That’s your cue!

As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I like complicated love relationships, love triangles, and hidden or quirky character flaws. I have the greatest problem with point of view. I tend to get in the head of too many characters at once in the same scene and have to do some deep editing to fix it. I think I write dialogue pretty well but I struggle with tag lines or describing movements and gestures- what characters do when they’re not talking. You know what I mean? Great writers master these little fillers and they’re seamless. I often wonder do great writers fuss over every word as I do.

Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?

My husband is my muse. I pick his brain and seek his opinion and often rewrite troublesome paragraphs, passages or chapters I’ve asked him to read. I’m a big fan of life science. How insects, aquatic species and animals live, survive and procreate is fascinating.  I like to apply traits from nature to aliens and invent characters almost like us yet other worldly because of the traits of Earth creatures. Examples used in my book: Changing eye colors like chameleons or sea creatures; Fathers caring for children; Birth from and egg or pods; Spiders, scorpions, snakes and other creatures sting and use venom to master their prey.  The other big influence is my belief in a Creator of the universe and the very disturbing world we live in. If my writing causes someone to look inward and find compassion for other humans no matter their origin, then I’ve done well.

What draws you to your preferred genre? Why do you think it’s so popular? (Or less popular than it could be?)

Science fiction predicts the future and promotes creative speculations of every aspect of human life and existence. I like to mix action, sexuality and imagine what aliens could be like. People, especially those who grew up with high-tech gadgetry, may not realize their world is full of science fiction items that are now science fact.

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

I have two manuscripts (sci-fi/paranormal) to edit for publication. And I’m working on a third book regarding Mersoon. I just submitted to the publisher the proposal for the second book.  I write adult books with large casts, steamy sex, male leads, strong women and multiracial characters.


That sounds fascinating! I’m intrigued by stories with multi-racial characters and worlds. Everyone, here’s the blurb. I know you all want to find out more:

“Welcome to Mersoon, where the food is free, the water pure, and the drugs are good. War is constant, and the inhabitants mix with the Descendants of Earth. Long ago, the Descendants of Earth traveled on generation ships to a dual sun solar system called Rodrigo’s Suns. Now, they dominate the human-occupied planets within the System Alliance and live with alien and mixed races both friendly and hostile. Vintori Jymirr Erroc is a living legend, and the head of the Erroc and Jymirr Nations on the planet Mersoon. Throughout the System Alliance, this powerful and mysterious leader is considered to be a king of diamonds, but his dwindling Jymirr race teeters on the verge of extinction while another conflict begins with the Firfwaat Nation and its ruthless leader, Lon. As war erupts on Mersoon following a series of cyber attacks, ground and aerial invasions, and bloody clashes, an election for the new System Alliance Overseer reveals an intricate and flawed political system brimming with extortion, deception, and rebellion. Against this backdrop of bloodshed and espionage, terror and the fight for survival, Vintori and the Jymirrs struggle with relationships and temptations that will test the bounds of love and shape the future of their race-if Lon does not wipe them out first. Mersoon Rising is a riveting adult sociopolitical space opera that chronicles the lives and loves of the Jymirr race during an epic battle for the fate of a planet and an entire solar system.” 

Yes, that does sound pretty sweet. Looks like I’ll be adding that to my reading list

Do you have a blog, and if so do you promote other writers on it?

I don’t have an answer for this yet. I’m just getting started in the being published role and hope to get to the point where other writers would benefit from a promo on my site/blog. Right now, I’m not certain what readers think. Hello… I’m  listening….

Ahem, Readers…

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

Insisting on uninterrupted time. It’s just me and my husband but for some reason I seem to  have less time to write. 🙂 Oh to write all day… I cope because I need my day job to well… eat and stuff. 😉 And I like spending time with my husband just about as much as writing. As the dedication says, he’s my hero.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

James Lee Burke because his characters are never perfect good guys or bad guys. Anne Rice because her words go together like poetry and she can make the impossible seem true. My favorite of her books is The Feast of all Saints which is not about vampires. Joyce Carol Oats because her characters intrigue me with their horrid ways. Samuel Delany because he’s at once classy and outrageous. Lolah Burford for the same reasons as Delany (Edward, Edward is the most uniquely despicable story I’ve ever loved reading). Susan R. Matthews because the organizations and character she created is magnificently twisted. I’ll end— but I could go on –with Stephen Donaldson for the hideous man who was then redeemed and a heroine like no other in the Gap Series of five books.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Just write what you like until you enjoy reading what you wrote. I’m on this journey too and I have blisters on my feet. We’ll all limp along and try to find a smooth path.

How can readers get into contact with you? Comment on the blog or email me.  Put “Mersoon Reader” in the subject so I won’t be reluctant to open it.  I’m on twitter #mersoonmoon.

Shirley, it was great to meet you today, and I’m confident the Readers enjoyed getting to know you as well. Thank you so much for stopping by. Readers, please let Shirley know how much you appreciated her visit by writing a message her or email her–and check out her books!

Have a great week!

Author Interviews, Essays, Guest Blog, Misc

Author Interview with Rebekkah Ford, Writer of YA Paranormal Books


Lovers of YA and Paranormal books, today’s guest is right up your alley! Rebekkah Ford is on the scene, creating strong female characters and drumming up complex human and other-worldly relationships while scaring the pants off us.

Read on to learn about her fascinating beginnings, what makes this talented author tick, and best of all, how you can become part of her Paranormal world…

Hello Rebekkah! So great to have you with us! I can’t wait to learn more about you and your books.  

1. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Sure. I grew up in a family that dealt with the paranormal. When my parents were married, they were the directors of the UFO Investigator’s League. They not only took on UFO/E.T. cases, they also investigated paranormal activity and Big Foot sightings. I think that’s why the unknown fascinates me so much and why I love writing stories about it. I’m happily married and seven years ago we moved from Prescott, Arizona to rural North Dakota. I live in a farming community of about 1,800 people and love it here. However, I do miss the woods. I don’t have any kids. I can’t have them. I do, though, have a cat who I consider my kid. LOL. I love to write stories and to read. I also love coffee, to shop at antique stores, to go out to eat, history, philosophy, theology, connecting with other authors, my fans, and I have an irreverent sense of humor. Oh, and one of my favorite TV shows is The Vampire Diaries.

2. Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired? 

Yes, I would like to write a screen play one day. But I guess I should say no to your first question because in order to create a screen play I have to write it. LOL. I have a day job, so I write every chance I get. What motivates me is my passion to tell stories. It entertains me, and I have to write. I can’t shut it off.

3. What forms of writing (short stories, poetry, novels, essays, etc.) and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?

I prefer writing novels, and the genres I like the most is young and new adult. I can see myself never writing steam punk.

4. I’ve read books which annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?

What makes a good story is relatable characters, a well thought out plot, and originality. The one thing a bad book taught me was to not be a lazy writer. For example, adverbs. Don’t overuse them.

5. As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Setting the stage for what it is to come and the mood I think are the most crucial when you begin your story. My strengths are having the ability to get inside the character’s head, which allows me to create three dimensional characters, knowing when to end a chapter, and dialog. I think my
weaknesses are second guessing myself, and I tend to be too wordy.

6. Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence you?

Anne Rice has always been a big influence on me. I love how she writes. She made being a vampire dark but at the same time romantic. If that makes sense.

7. What draws you to your preferred genre? What do you think makes it unique? And why is it so popular? 

What draws me at the moment to young adult is me still feeling like a teenager and how much fun I have writing about that age group. I think this genre is unique because an author can write the story in such a way to where it has crossover potential. Anybody can read and relate to it, because every one of us went through those teenage years and knows what it’s like. I think that’s why YA is so popular.

8. Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

My Beyond the Eyes trilogy is about a heartsick, teenage girl who has been receiving premonitions from a ghostly voice since the age of 4. One day she receives a haunting one about herself that changes her life forever. She goes from being an emotional teen to a strong, kick-ass girl who is destined to protect humanity against the dark spirits dwelling in soulless humans.
The project I’m working on at the moment is my third book in this trilogy, The Devil’s Third. I’m going through edits and rewrites with my editor, and it’ll to be published–if all goes according to plan–this fall.

About Beyond the Eyes

my cover “A thrilling, wholly satisfying first book to a new young adult series. It will keep you wanting more.”Valentina Cano, Carabosse’s Library
“Beyond the Eyes is haunting yet passionate. This breakout novel is quick and hip, a saucy mustread.”Charles Land, Judas Pistol 

Paige knows evil exists in this world, but she never imagined it would want something from her.

In the small town of Astoria, Oregon, surrounded by deep forest and endless mountains, another world thrives . . . a menacing one where dark spirits dwell in soulless humans.

Seventeen-yearold Paige Reed lives in this lush, picturesque setting. She’s not your average teen, though she appears to be. Not only is she heartsick, but she’s been receiving cryptic premonitions from a ghostly voice since the age of four. After she hears a haunting message about herself, supernatural occurrences begin to confuse her.

Nathan Caswell seems to peer into Paige’s soul, evoking a magnetic energy between them they cannot deny. They’re connected. But he’s no ordinary guy. He tracks dark spirits and becomes alarmed when they set their sights on Paige.

When two power-hungry malevolent beings make demands on her, she realizes then the fate of mankind rests in her hands. Her world quickly turns inside out where the impossible becomes possible, and in the end she’s faced with a life changing decision that will not only alter her existence but the world as she knows it.

Can a deeply troubled teen overcome her own demons in order to fight those lurking about? With the past and present colliding, Paige must make the ultimate mortal choice. Will it be the right one?

About Dark Spirits

Dark Spirits Cover

“Even more thrilling than the first. This is a captivating series you won’t put down and will leave you hungry for more.”Felicia Tatum, author of The White Aura
“Paige is a strong courageous character and Dark Spirits will make your heart pound with the emotion and action!”Julie Huss author of the I Am Just Junco series

Now immortal, Paige is emotionally and physically stronger than ever. She must find the location of the ancient incantations to prevent mass genocide. But the war against good and evil is spawning another war–a battle between the dark spirits themselves. Paige is saddled in the center of both growing revolutions and is ready to take on the dark forces. But Nathan’s
over-protectiveness prevents her from taking action, and he’s hiding things.

Paige’s personal life gets more complicated when Brayden arrives back in town and offers the equal partnership she desperately craves from Nathan. Then there’s Carrie and Tree, her two best friends and only family she has left. Unfortunate circumstances thrust them into Paige’s dark world, giving her no choice but to allow Nathan to arm them with combat techniques in hope they’ll be able to protect themselves.

Meanwhile, Paige is having visions and discovering abilities she was unaware of. When Anwar comes to visit, his weird behavior alarms her. Could he be turning to the dark side?

Time is running out. Paige not only needs to find the incantations but also to untangle the bands around her heart and make a decision that could leave her with a life worse than death–a life of betrayal from the ones she trusted most.

9. Why is promoting other writers on your blog important to you?

The support and camaraderie is very important to me because I think the world would be a better place if we paid it forward. I always do what I can to help and support other authors and bloggers and love doing it.

10. What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

Writing the first chapter because it has to grab the reader from the start and the mood of the story has to be right. I cope with it by doing a lot of rewrites until I’m happy with it.

11. Who are your favourite writers and why?

Anne Rice, George Orwell, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling. I love their imagination and the way they tell their stories.

12. What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into the horror or suspense genre?

Read and write a lot. Do research on what makes a good horror or suspense story. Join groups who are interested in the same genre. Write from your heart and what you’re passionate about. 

And above all, believe in yourself, even if other people don’t believe in you. If you really want to be an author, don’t let nobody stop you. You can do it.

13. How can readers get into contact with you?

Facebook Author Page:

Where to find Rebekkah’s books:


Beyond the Eyes:



Dark Spirits:



Barnes & Noble: 

Beyond the Eyes:

Dark Spirits:  


Beyond the Eyes: 

Dark Spirits: 

Indie Book World:

Beyond the Eyes: 

Dark Spirits: 

Rebekkah, it was great getting to know you more. Thank you so much for being with us today. Readers, you know what to do! Check out Rebekkah’s work and connect with her. I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.

See you all soon!