Category Archives for "Interview"

Mar 05

The Darkening

By Melinda VanLone | Interview

I don’t usually post on Tuesdays, but I just had to share this. THE DARKENING (Book Two of the Shrilugh Saga)  is out! I reviewed Shrilugh, Book One (click to take a look), when it came out, and I already have my copy of The Darkening.

[box] the darkening cover (83)As Aydan Fulbert settles into her new life in a new world, she realizes a few things. She’s healing from losing Brig. She’s coming to terms with her new home. And she’s lonely. Rein Torvald’s return from his long absence helps alleviate her loneliness, but a darkness comes with him. Unsettling news about her father and the Sovereign has the potential to make her a fugitive all over again – from his world and hers. Will Aydan allow her heart to be taken places she’s never been brave enough to go? Or will the threat of danger – of the Sovereign’s rage, and her father’s vengeful grudge, send her running? [/box]

I’m excited to find out what happens next in Aydan’s world, and even more than that I know for a fact that this segment of the story had Myndi in tears more than once. I’m dying to find out why.

As a special treat for a special day, Myndi has stopped by to answer a few questions!


Myndi, thank you so much for stopping by today. Tell me, what was the inspiration behind The Darkening?

When I first wrote this story, Shrilugh and The Darkening were all one book, told solely from Aydan’s POV. When I changed the POV, the story really exploded, and needed to be divided into more than one book. Which is why the first book of the Saga ended rather abruptly, and why, if you read these two back-to-back, they’ll feel a bit like one piece of work.

So, really, the inspiration for The Darkening came from the same place as my inspiration for Shrilugh: an old silo on the farm where I was raised. There’s a ladder that extends up past the top of it that looks kind-of like a door, and I’ve always, always wondered where that door would lead. When I began writing Shrilugh that was my goal – to find out what kind of world was beyond that door.

You have four kids. How do you find time to write?

Well, the time is there, I just have to plan for it. I keep a pretty tight rein on how I spend my time. If the baby is sleeping, I’m working. If I have a spare minute, I work. Any time that isn’t spoken for with family or cooking or cleaning, it’s pretty much given to writing. But it never feels like a chore – I love what I do, and it’s always been worth the sacrifice of my free time.

What’s one thing about you that will surprise readers most?

Oh my gosh, this is a silly question. I have the most tame, Beaver-Cleaver-type life you could imagine. I’m probably the least surprising person in the world. Well, okay, there’s this – I really enjoy folding laundry. I love seeing the tidy piles build up, and thinking about my kiddos and how they’ve grown, and the smell of clean laundry. It’s soothing.

*heavy sigh* I just re-read that and realized how lame I sound. I wish I could have had something way cooler like, “Oh, I go parachuting,” or “Big game hunting in Zimbabwe is totally my thing”. But nope. I’ve chosen to stun you all with laundry.

What’s coming next?

Couple different things. I’ll be working on the third book in the Shrilugh Saga. Right now its working title is FRUITION, and I’m expecting to see its release in a year or so. I’m also working on a new series whose working title is called SALT MINE. It’s about a girl who has chosen to be mute, a government that’s after her secret, a dog that’s been ‘progammed’ to protect her, and a guy hell-bent on keeping his promise to her dead brother.

Where can readers find you?

I hang out on Facebook here: Myndi Shafer Stories

I chat on Twitter using the handle @MyndiShafer

And my website/blog is   

Get The Darkening! (click the link, or click the book image above)

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Myndi Shafer currently makes her home in Kansas with her husband and four children. Her bestselling book, SHRILUGH, was released in August of 2012. THE DARKENING is the second book of the Shrilugh Saga, and is available for purchase at Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and others.[/author_info] [/author]
Mar 30

11 Questions, 11 Answers: Tag, you’re it!

By Melinda VanLone | Interview

I’ve been tagged by the Fabulous Fabio for the Eleven Questions Game. Play along with me, it’s fun!


You must post the rules.

Answer the questions on your blog. Create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.

Tag people and link to them.

Let them know you’ve tagged them.


1. What is your favorite historical period and why? Tomorrow. I’m not a huge fan of history or looking back. I’d rather dream of tomorrow and what the future holds.

2. List your top five favorite movies. Oh dear, only five? Let’s see…Princess Bride, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (actually, ALL the Harry Potter movies), Ocean’s 11, My Cousin Vinny, Serenity, Demolition Man, The Fifth Element, Legend, Labyrinth, Star Trek the Next Generation…oh wait, that’s more than five.

3. Your house is on fire. Your loved ones–humans and pets–are already safe outside. They have your driver’s license and a flash drive with all your backups (files and all the media you own). You have time to save one more object. What would you get? My jewelry, because most of it came from my husband or my parents or other people I care about, and every piece means something to me.

4. You can invite any three people in the world for a dinner–anyone alive. Who are your guests? Felicia Day, President Obama (and his wife, need the pair), and Sandra Bullock. What a fun dinner that would be!

5. Congress/the gods/smiling extraterrestrials said you can only have one type of food every meal for the rest of your life (they’ll supplement your diet with vitamin pills). Which food would you choose? Hmmm. I think only one food would eventually get boring, even if it’s my absolute favorite. I’m going to go with dark chocolate 😀

6. In an episode of “Friends”, they all reveal their freebie list: five celebrities with whom they can hook up without upsetting their partners. Who’s in yours? Think I’ll skip this one 😉

7. (Huge spoiler alert.) Some people think the Hunger Games is bloody. In Harry Potter 6, fifteen characters die. In HP7, the body count is over fifty (see here). JK is rewriting the series, and she let you choose one character from any of the seven books to get a reprieve. Who would it be and why? Fred Weasley. Can’t believe he died! It’s just so…wrong. I cried. I cried over Dumbledore, but he was older and had a full life. The twins…without a twin? Just wrong.

8. What’s your worst fear? Losing my husband. My dream would mean nothing without my best friend to share it with.

9. You can choose your own nickname, with an assurance that no one would ever mock you. Tell us your choice. Well, they already call me Mel. I’m ok with that.

10. What’s the best vacation you have ever had? In college, when my husband and I were just getting to know each other, we took a trip to Niagara Falls. We had next to no money, a car that barely made it and drove through a downpour in which I lost the windshield wipers. It was the best time! I drank in every moment, and made sure to really experience every aspect of the Falls. Including getting drenched on the Hurricane Deck. My future husband was there every step of the way, delighting in my experience, and ready to catch me if I slid off the slippery wood. I remember him holding onto my waist while I leaned out over the edge to get a photo of the water crashing on the rocks below. He’s such a sweetie!

11. Congress/the gods/smiling extraterrestrials said you must move to any fantasy or sci-fi setting (books, movies, videogames, rpgs) of your choice—permanently. Where would you go? Oh, so many choices! I think I might move to Pandaria, in World of Warcraft. I’m in the beta test. It’s so pretty and peaceful, with lots of streams and waterfalls and, of course, magic. After that, I would choose Tony Stark’s house. I really want a house that will talk to me.

And now, TAG! You’re it!

Feel free to answer any of these questions in the comments below. I’d love to get to know you.

The questions, should you choose to play, are:

1. If you could go anywhere in the known universe on vacation (no money worries) where would you go and why?

2. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

3. If you could be any character in any story, who would you be and why?

4. Milk or dark chocolate?

5. e-books or paper?

6. What book are you reading right now?

7. What was the last movie you saw? Did you like it?

8. What was your favorite toy as a child?

9. Are you a morning glory, or a night owl?

10. Favorite movie quote?

11. What was your favorite book while growing up?



Stop by and get to know these ladies. They’ll entertain, and they’ll make you think.

Diane Capri:  Licensed to Thrill

 Karen McFarland:  Life As It Happens
Myndi Shafer: Blogging Barefoot
Deborah Krager:  Sparks in the Fire
Emma Burcart:  Occasional Epiphanies
Feb 23

Author Interview: Alica McKenna-Johnson

By Melinda VanLone | Book Review , Interview

Instead of my normal 50/50 update, today I have something special: an interview! I’ve asked Alica McKenna-Johnson to join me in my little corner of the intrawebs to talk about her new book, Phoenix Child, which debuted on Amazon a few days ago. In case you haven’t read it: Sara’s dream is to find her family, but she doesn’t count on discovering magical creatures or catching on fire. On her fourteenth birthday a surprise inheritance changes her appearance, abilities, and identity. Welcomed into the family of the Phoenix, she is taught to use her new powers. Will Sara embrace being a Child of Fire, or will the evil that killed her parents destroy her as well?

First line: “Alien abduction? Extreme makeover? Witch’s spell?

Something had to explain the changes that had happened to me overnight. Even the doctor Melanie dragged me to had no idea what happened to me, but apparently I was in perfect health. I barely managed to stop myself from demanding to see his diploma. How was it possible to wake up looking completely different and be in perfect health? I looked down at the coppery tint which appeared this morning on my tanned skin. Stupid doctor.”

Imagine waking up looking completely different! This was enough to keep me reading, for sure. I’m curious about stuff like that. Maybe even a little jealous. Let’s face it, I’ve probably dreamed of having something out-of-this-world-magical happen to me. It’s why I like reading so much.

OK, enough stalling. It’s time to get to know the author!

First, thank you so much for stopping by to talk about Phoenix Child. You must be so excited! It looks like the cover is original artwork. How did the cover come to be?

The lovely Alica McKenna-Johnson, author of Phoenix Child

My hubby designed and painted the cover. He’s of course spent countless hours listening to me plot, vent, and re-revise my book so he had a clear image in his head.

What made you start writing stories down after so long in other careers? (30 years…that’s a long time to deny a passion.)

Honestly I had no idea I was creating stories. As long as I can remember I would day dream—while walking, doing chores, falling asleep, etc. It never affected my school work, so I’m not even sure anyone else ever knew I went around with stories fluttering through my head.

It wasn’t until my sister introduced me to fan fiction that I ever thought about writing anything down. Then one day a ‘what if’ popped into my head and just didn’t go away until I wrote it down, then another chapter, and another, and 83 chapters and over 2000 reviews later I was hooked on writing and started working on Phoenix Child.

What was your inspiration for this particular story?

I wish I could say it was some magical mystical moment, but really I think I was reading a story about Selkie, and how the men would go and seduce human women and then couldn’t come back for seven years. And I thought “I bet that’s a lie, I bet they can come and go as they please, they just say that so they don’t have to commit.” It got me wondering what if  (doesn’t every book start with a what if question) other magical creatures could turn into humans, and what if they had children with human women? Would the babies have powers? I just played with that for a long time until I came up with the premise for Phoenix Child: 4000 years ago the Phoenix King married a human woman, and Sarah is their most powerful descendant.

When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do? 

It seems like all I ever do is write, but when I get away and I’m not working I love to watch movies with my hubby and kids. Go for hikes. I have a friend I go to the gym with. And of course reading—especially if I’m alone in the house.

What’s your favorite movie? 

ACK!!! I could never pick just one! Sci-fi: The Fifth Element. Rom-Com: Love Actually. Horror: The Lost Boys. Muppet: Muppet Treasure Island. Bollywood: Om Shante Om. Anime: Spirited Away.  Those are what popped into my head first.

What’s your favorite book and why?

Are you trying to kill me?

No, of course not *looks away with shifty eyes*

A favorite book. There are so many! I love classics like Tom Sawyer; books from my Childhood like Island of the Blue Dolphins; ones that made me cry like Harry Potter (especially the last ones); ones that hurt my brain like Wicked. Anything by Janet Evanovich will have me cracking up in public. I love Sherrilyn Kenyon but I prefer to read those alone because it’s steamy stuff. The newest one I’m obsessed over is one that’s not out yet. My friend, Mary, is writing the most amazing story. I can answer questions about the previous chapter faster then she can—it’s a bit scary.

I love them because I can get lost in them. I fall into the books and into the characters. I know what they are going through and I go through it with them. That’s what I need from any book, to get sucked into a new world.

I will admit, because I have so many writer friends that I purposely picked authors I don’t know, so no one would get mad at me that I left them off my list.

Probably a wise choice. I don’t want to be responsible for starting any writer feuds! So, what book are you reading now?

I’m reading Treasure Island to the kids and The Stream: Discovery by Bill Jones JR, for me.

You say in your bio that you (or your characters) eat exotic foods. What’s the strangest food you’ve/they’ve ever eaten, and how did it taste?

Oh, I can’t get too strange because I’m a vegetarian, as are most of my characters, so no intestines or tongue. I have drunk wheat grass juice. Is that weird? It tasted like fresh cut grass smells. It’s supposed to be super good for you, but yuck! I love ethnic foods and my characters rarely eat the same thing twice in a book because there are so many wonderful things to try (or have them try.)

Here’s something fun: in the next book they are in Argentina and Peru. I couldn’t find an Argentinian restaurant, but I did find a Peruvian one and went to eat there. It was fun. They eat lots of potatoes and they have this fruit and corn drink called Chicha; very yummy.

What do you mean by “diverse characters”?

I love colorful, interesting people. And I try to make each character as unique and individual as I can. Honestly, I’m a pervy middle-aged woman, and  I adore looking at beautiful people of all nationalities. I tend to have characters from different ethnic backgrounds, frequently from the country themselves. In Phoenix Child, I have a first generation Korean boy, a boy from Zimbabwe, a woman from India, and characters of Mexican and African American and Native American decent.

I also have people with different religious backgrounds, and gay/lesbian characters. I’ll try different backgrounds or lifestyles as long as I feel like I can do enough research to create an honest, strong, realistic character.

Is there a specific message you hope readers will get from reading this story?

I want them to know being unique is beautiful, that they aren’t alone, that life sometimes really sucks, but if they hang in there and accept and fight for who they really are they will be all right. I want my readers to see themselves in my characters and feel inspired.

That’s a great message, and one that bears repeating as many times as it takes for it to sink in. So, what’s next?

I have finished book 2 (no title yet). It’s going through my critique group, then editing and revisions (sobs).  I’m working on an adult Paranormal Romance: Poltergeist meets Ghosts Adventurers with romance. And I’m plotting out the rest of the Phoenix Child series. So far it looks like 8, possibly 9, books. I better get to typing!

Sounds like it! Thank you so much for stopping by, Alica!

If you haven’t already downloaded Phoenix Child, click here. If you have, and you loved it, please let her know by leaving a review on Amazon. A sentence or two is all it takes to show you care and make an author’s day. It won’t hurt, I promise. 

For more information on Alica, or just to check up on her and see what she’s up to, please visit her website:

Every author needs a little love!