Check out my guest blog post on Fiction University

July 29th, 2014 → 2:35 pm @

Janice Hardy invited me to guest blog on her Fiction University site. Check out my column here:

Character Evolution: Don’t Restrict Your Characters to Your Original Vision of Them

By Robin Leemann Donovan

Characters have a way of evolving in a story, sometimes for the better, sometimes to the utter frustrations of their creators. Despite those hair-pulling moments, though, a character who comes to life on their own often turns into a star. Please help me welcome Robin Leemann Donovan to the lecture hall today, to share the story of one such character.

Robin is president of the advertising/communications firm, Bozell and author of the blog, Menologues, a humorous yet informative look at the trials and tribulations of menopause by someone who’s been there. Menologues is republished on two commercial sites: Vibrant Nation and Alltop, and has won regional honors for social media at the AMA Pinnacles and PRSA Paper Anvil awards. Her first book in the Donna Leigh Mystery series: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? won an AMA Pinnacle award.

Robin was born and raised in New Jersey but lived and worked in Connecticut for a number of years before moving to Nebraska in 1999. Starting her career as a high school English teacher, Donovan moved into advertising in the early 80’s. In 1999 she accepted a job offer from Bozell. Donovan lives with her husband and three bulldogs, Jasmine, Roxi and Sadie (Sweet Pea).

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Take it away Robin…

When I started writing my first comedic murder mystery, Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?, there was no Clovis Cordoba Seville character. All of my characters were utilitarian. I had a murder victim, some amateur sleuths, and some cops.

Having loosely based the murder victim on a less-than-favorite acquaintance, I had plenty of opportunities for humor in my ability to mock her. Early in the process I began to realize that too much focus on mocking the murder victim would make my protagonist really unsympathetic.

I had characters that could give me some slapstick and some playful co-worker banter but I was worried about too much of the same type of humor over and over again. I was short on diversity and range in recurring comedic characters.

That’s when I introduced Clovis.

She is loosely based on a former co-worker with a stunning ability to make herself the center of absolutely everything. How had I forgotten about the importance of narcissistic humor – the backbone of any creative enterprise – in the mix? So Clovis was born.

Throughout the writing process I was able to introduce Clovis as the “irrelevant logic voice of reason,” a role the deranged woman who inspired her had mastered. The beauty of this was that I didn’t have to make fun of her – she took care of that all by herself!

One fairly typical comment by Clovis causes Donna Leigh, the protagonist, to ruminate, “I was really beginning to think that the only thing that would satisfy her would be to make her the murder victim, and it was getting more tempting by the minute. But, of course, being the second murder victim just wouldn’t do.”

Initially, Clovis was nothing more than an outsider looking to insert herself into the action, making her the antithesis to most characters in a murder mystery who labor to distance themselves from any possible suspicion and/or danger. The complexity of her character is based on the fact that fulfilling her self-centeredness is the main driving force in her existence trumping every other basic need. How many of us have not known someone like that?

Further along in the plot, her thoughtless selfishness (in her case this is not really redundant) causes the protagonist to contemplate murder, “At that moment the thought of killing her and spending the rest of my life behind bars seemed like the only logical course of action.”

Ultimately, Clovis proves to be more integral to the plot than I’d initially anticipated. As she moves deeper into the plother character’s sense of triumph grows palpably.

Clovis is ridiculous. One of my editors questioned whether or not anyone would believe such an impossible to believe character. Ironically, the very aspects of Clovis that are so ridiculous are behaviors I have absolutely seen her inspiration exhibit on a quasi-daily basis. Honestly, I couldn’t make this stuff up!

I take great pride in the believability of all my characters. They are all based on real behavior patterns plugged into a fictional story. Unfortunately, for many who are not in a creative profession themselves – these characters can be a stretch of the imagination. I cringe whenever I see that my work has been reviewed by a scientist, knowing that they’re generally surrounded by logical, orderly minds on a daily basis, and that they don’t easily suffer fools. My work is not for them.

As writing progressed it became clear that Clovis could be so much more than just a comedic figure on the periphery of the plot fighting to get in. Her penchant to project her own self-aggrandizing behaviors onto Donna Leigh in a constant dogmatic tirade enables us to view the protagonist herself through a, probably more realistic but definitely less flattering and far more amusing, filter.

Clovis becomes the mechanism by which Donna’s own character flaws are illuminated in a way that enables us to laugh with her more than at her.

Clovis has gone from being a late-to-the-party add on to being my favorite character. She enables me push the envelope of the ridiculous and explore the machinations of a totally self-absorbed individual.

About Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?

How does one react to the shocking news that a former colleague has been brutally murdered? Worse yet, you realize that your vitriolic relationship with the victim could land you squarely on the suspect list. That’s exactly what happens to Donna Leigh, the energetic and somewhat sardonic owner of an Omaha ad agency, who jumps right in to the investigation – despite annoying menopausal symptoms – in order to keep the wolves away from her door. She manages to amuse as well as impress with her effective but unorthodox sleuthing.

As Donna and her colorful colleagues work feverishly to solve the case, they leave a trail of unintentional destruction in their wake; from injured police officers to collapsed buildings. Donna and her team stir things up enough to make the murderer nervous; after Donna receives a threat to “back off” things take on a more serious bent for her, but not for her ever vigilant colleagues who continue to animatedly bungle their way through the investigation until the murderer is behind bars.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

http://blog.janicehardy.com/2014/07/character-evolution-dont-restrict-your.html

 

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A Talented Photographer Can Make Your Book Cover

January 21st, 2014 → 9:27 pm @

I feel very fortunate. Being in the ad business I have access to many very talented artists. When it came time to design my book cover, my designer strongly recommended commissioning a photograph by the incredibly talented Scott Drickey. Scott read the book, asked a few questions and then came up with a cover photo that offered mystery and intrigue. It created a visual tension befitting a suspense-filled story about murder, yet it maintained a whimsical posture which enabled it to pave the way for the comedic nature of the book.

And Scott managed to convey all of these things within an extremely sophisticated framework.

It fit the book to perfection!

So many of my cozy mystery colleagues select covers that are exaggerated and cartoonish in nature. I’m not sure how that trend came about – but I knew right from the start that it did not fit my work.

I relied very heavily on my designer, Jill Rizzo, to find a “look” that would convey my brand accurately, and with the help and talent of Scott Drickey – my expectations were far exceeded!

 

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Review from Granite Cove Mysteries author Sharon Love Cook

January 7th, 2014 → 5:46 pm @

By Sharon L. Cook on September 11, 2013

Format: Paperback Amazon Verified Purchase

The title alone tells you this isn’t a cozy about embroidering or making fudge. The central character, Donna Leigh, isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. But even when she finds herself in trouble, she never lacks for a witty response. This amateur sleuth compares herself to Miss Marple, albeit a “younger, hotter ” Jane Marple. And though she may unwittingly do ditzy things, such as propping a ladder against the dead woman’s house, thereby attracting the attention of the police, she is a savvy businesswoman. In fact, part of the book’s charm is the insider look at the world of advertising. Author Robin Leemann Donovan is part owner of a high profile advertising agency in Omaha, Nebraska, the setting of this mystery.

There’s something for everyone: fashionistas will love the descriptions of clothes worn by Donna Leigh and colleagues, a coterie of women who aren’t afraid to pile into the car and go investigate a murder. And though they’re bold and daring, they don’t always think before they act. Impulsivity runs rampant in that office. Nonetheless, they’re fiercely loyal, the kind of friends any woman would love to have in her corner–providing they remain in the corner.

Is it Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? is brimming with madcap fun, dark deeds, humorous musings and asides and old fashioned suspense along with a victim you love to hate. The protagonist is a whirling dynamo who never slows down, and never lets the reader down either.

 

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Sold Out on Amazon?

December 30th, 2013 → 6:06 pm @

For the first time ever: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? is listed as unavailable on Amazon.com. I emailed my publisher to tell her something was wrong.

She said there’s nothing wrong – it just means that they need to order more copies for their warehouse. Does that mean my book is “sold out” on Amazon? Why do I find this so hard to believe?

I’d love to believe that they just can’t keep it in stock – but I’m having trouble convincing myself. If experience has taught me anything – I’m more inclined to think there’s a technical glitch.

That said, please check out amazon.com and let me know what you find. If my book is truly sold out – I’m going to celebrate more than just the New Year!

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Thanks again Council Bluffs for a very nice Library Author Fair

November 26th, 2013 → 5:51 pm @

This past Sunday was my second Council Bluffs Library Author Fair, and it was even better than the first. Although it’s set up as a sleepy little surprise for local library patrons, it has a whole other set of surprises for some of the attending authors.

Sure, it’s always nice to sell a few books, but Sunday’s Fair also enabled me to meet and reconnect with other local authors. It enabled me to meet some aspiring authors that might be looking for a little bit of mentoring to get through some of those new author/not completely edited jitters, and possibly best of all, it enabled me to meet some of my readers – that was awesome!

In this entire book writing/publishing experience, I guess it just never occurred to me that there would ever be strangers coming up to me to enthusiastically tell me that they’d read my book and/or heard me speak. If felt really good!

 

 

 

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Thank you, Janet from Ft. Smith, Arkansas and your book club!

October 8th, 2013 → 9:56 pm @

I was so excited yesterday when I received an email out of the blue from Janet at the University of Arkansas Dean’s office in Ft. Smith, Arkansas! Janet had written to tell me that her book club had selected my book for their next meeting!

I think that may be the furthest book club to have chosen my book to date. But if you know of one further away – please let me know!

And thanks for all the great support!

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When Is Your Editor The Biggest Pain in the Butt?

May 22nd, 2013 → 7:24 pm @

My first book was edited by five people. Not everyone has that luxury. I think it’s a luxury because you get to see your work through different eyes – and you get to make the final call by reviewing the options and choosing the ones that make the most sense for your plot and characters.

!

I can honestly say that all five of my editors contributed something meaningful to the final published work. Some of the editing was tedious, but I found the overall process invigorating and frequently enjoyable. It was extremely helpful to have them point out areas that warranted a second look. I would review the section in question to determine whether or not it would pass muster with a broader audience; in some cases a reference was too obscure or a joke too lame. I’m not sure I would have caught those weaknesses on my own.

My second book is not going as smoothly. So far I’ve had three editors, and they all seem to get caught up in their own lack of knowledge of my genre. They’re not contributing anything meaningful. It’s frustrating and it feels as though this book will never get out. I write comedic murder mysteries. They’re so hung up on making comments like “why would that character tell her so much when she’s not even a real detective?” Oh for god sake – get over it! Have you never read Agatha’s Christie’s famous Miss Marple? Did you never watch Jessica Fletcher solve every mystery on Murder, She Wrote?

Even under the best of circumstances editors can get under your skin. But a good editor is worth their weight in gold. Aside from the outlay of cash, the biggest potential risk to self-publishing is not making the effort to get good editors reviewing your work. I was convinced my manuscript was perfect on the first day it was submitted – it became so much better over the 18 month editing and proofing process.

Even though in hindsight I am so grateful for the editors of that first book, they still managed to frustrate the hell out of me. I think I shortened and lengthened the same sentences three or four times, and I know I moved commas out, over and back into the same places. Some of their comments were stupid and dated – but I knew enough to ignore those – albeit not without angst and bugging my publisher for permission. I think I was high maintenance!

As I look back on the experience of my first book – I would not trade the value my editors brought to the project even if I never had to move a comma. And even though my second book has not yet met with a successful editing experience, I still cannot emphasize the importance of good editors – now I just have to find some!

Donovan heads Bozell Books, a division of Bozell designed to help authors and budding authors from inception through promotion of their published work. She has authored a novel entitled: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch? www.rldonovan.com, and the second in her Donna Leigh Mysteries series : I Didn’t Kill Her But That May Have Been Short Sighted,  is currently being published.

 

 

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Jennifer Priester, author of the Mortal Witch series interviews Robin Donovan

May 13th, 2013 → 6:15 pm @

Interview with Robin Donovan
Posted on May 10, 2013 by animalsandmagic

What is your name, your books name, genre, age level, and what is it about?

I am the author of the Donna Leigh Mystery series, my name is Robin Leemann Donovan. The first book in this cozy mystery series is entitled Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch?

Book display

Although Donna Leigh, the protagonist of this comedic murder mystery is a menopausal business woman, I have been told that the book has been enjoyed by men and women of a wide age range. However, I would imagine that my primary target audience would be Women 45 – 64.

Menopausal and sardonic Donna Leigh owns an Omaha ad agency. Sleuthing keeps Donna’s toxic relationship with her murdered former colleague from landing her on the suspect list. Donna and her colorful colleagues hunt unrelentingly for clues, leaving a trail of unintentional destruction in their wake, even after Donna is threatened.

Tell us a little about your books characters.

Donna Leigh is my protagonist, a menopausal ad-agency owner/amateur sleuth. Babs & Peg are her two menopausal cohorts. When the three get together – something always happens.

The murder victim, Claire, a former colleague who was a self-satisfied bitch with a less than perfectly ethical approach to business.

Clovis Cordoba Seville is the former colleague who takes the world record in narcissism. Her mental process is fascinating as she manages to ensure that everything revolves around her – she projects her worst flaws onto Donna.

Other folks around the agency include: Donna’s business partners Liv and Donny, her good friend Kyle and various and sundry other staffers.

Last but not least are Donna’s husband Jon and their three rescue bulldogs. They are her comfort and her solace after some very difficult days.

Do you have a favorite among your characters?

Clovis is my favorite. She was added in as a joke, but she became almost the alter ego of Donna. Clovis is everything that Donna hates, she’s a person who puts herself above all else – and only works to ensure that she remains center stage. We all have those moments periodically – and Clovis is quick to point out any and every minor ego related infraction of Donna’s. She also projects a great deal of her own narcissistic insanity on Donna – and we’ve all met those people – what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Why did you write your book? Did anything specific inspire it?

I have been in the advertising business for over 30 years and I have met some incredible characters. The book was a chance to explore some of the more outrageous of those personalities and combine them with two of my favorite things: comedy and murder mysteries.

Want to Write a Book?

Want to Write a Book?

During the editing process, a few of my editors were concerned that some of my characters were too outrageous and not believable – my editors hailed from academia. Rest assured there has never been a person in the advertising industry who has not absolutely believed these are credible characters.

Now tell us a little about yourself.

I started out as a high school English teacher and felt very old very fast. After three years of teaching I got a job in an advertising agency and have never felt old since.

Most of my career was in the Northeast, but when an offer came to head the media department in the founding office of Bozell, I jumped at the chance and moved to Omaha. Living in Omaha has been an incredible experience. It has changed me from the fast paced, overly aggressive northeasterner that I was and given me a chance to stop and smell the roses – although some would tell you I’m kidding myself on that count!

Twelve years ago I was given the chance to be part of a group that bought the Bozell brand from IPG. It has been an amazing experience – never easy, but rewarding in so many ways.

Our active role in social media started me blogging and once I started writing there was no stopping me. I write for our company blog: Insights, I write a blog on menopause called Menologues, which is republished on Vibrant Nation and Alltop. A few years ago, we got a publisher as a client and I realized that all the pieces of the puzzle were in place and it was time to write my book.

When I’m not at work or writing, I spend time with my rescue bulldogs, ski, dance and I’m an avid reader. I also attend food and wine tastings fairly regularly.

Do you do a lot of reading? And what are a few of your favorite books and authors?

I love to read murder mysteries, both serious and humorous. In general, I love a well written book that reveals a secret. My favorite author is Dickens, but I love Jane Austen.

On the lighter side, I have the utmost respect for JK Rowling and Janet Evanovich. They both serve an important purpose – when my good friend lost her Mom, I sent her the first six Evanovich books – now she’s hooked.

Where can your books be purchased?

Direct book purchase page on my publisher’s website: http://writelife.pinnaclecart.com/humor/is-it-still-murder-even-if-she-was-a-bitch/

Through my author’s website: www.rldonovan.com

The book can also be purchased at the 13th Street Mystery Bookstore – A Stitch in Crime, the Bookworm, Nebraska at the Market and Urban Abbey.

The book can also be purchased on:

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Still-Murder-Even-She-Bitch/dp/1608080382/ref=la_B009G5AKCS_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367857451&sr=1-1

AmazonKindle

http://www.amazon.com/Still-Murder-Even-Bitch-ebook/dp/B009B1AVZ8/ref=la_B009G5AKCS_1_1_title_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1367857572&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/is-it-still-murder-even-if-she-was-a-bitch-?store=allproducts&keyword=is+it+still+murder+even+if+she+was+a+bitch%3F+

Books a Million

http://www.booksamillion.com/search?id=5678577054418&query=is+it+still+murder+even+if+she+was+a+bitch%3F&where=Books&search.x=49&search.y=10&search=Search

Donna Leigh Mysteries

Donna Leigh Mysteries

Indie Bound

http://www.indiebound.org/hybrid?filter0=is+it+still+murder+even+if+she+was+a+bitch%3F&x=31&y=7

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About animalsandmagic
I am an author and reader of fiction and nonfiction books about animals, the relationships between humans and animals, magic and other supernatural things. My first published book series is called Mortal Realm Witch and is for ages 8-adult. My blog mostly focuses on the topics of animals, magic, reading books, writing books, and sometimes other things as well. I post new blogs every two weeks so be sure to check back then if you like my blog but are not following it. You can also learn when I post a new blog by following me on Facebook and/or Twitter. You can visit my website, www.mortalrealmwitch.com, for the links.
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This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged author interview, book, mystery, Robin Donovan. Bookmark the permalink.
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about.me

Jennifer Priester
Author, Publisher, Book Layout Designer, Artist, Reader, & Animal Lover
I write fiction and nonfiction books about animals, the relationships between humans and animals, magic, the supernatural, and superheroes. The genre’s I write in include one or more of the following: Fantasy, Short Stories, Children’s Fiction, Nonfiction, Sci-fi, Sci-fi/fantasy, Supernatural, Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and Adventure. I also do my own book cover art and any inside photos or drawings. I layout my own books, both print and eBook, as well as other peoples and publish my books under my own publishing company, A & M Moonlight Creations, which can also publish other peoples work as well as my own.
Besides writing and drawing, I love to read books, ride horses, watch TV/movies, play video games, spend time outside, and spend a lot of time with animals.
I really love animals and have and have owned many, most of which have been rescues. Currently I have a Chihuahua called Taco, two Mini Rex rabbits called Chibi and Kojikaki, and a ten year old Goldfish called Pumpkin. In the past I have owned a Toy Poodle called CeJaye, a Dutch rabbit called Friendly, a Dutch Mix called Oreo who was my first ever rescue pet and ever since adopting her I have become adoption only when it comes to getting new pets. In the past I also lived with a Parakeet called Peekablue, an African Cichlid fish called Trouble, a speckled fish called Speckle, a speckled fish called Sea Star, a Goldfish called Sunny, a Goldfish called Silver, a Dalmatian fish called Perdita, and many other fish as well.
Besides pets I have many anipals; animals that I don’t own but am friends with. One of these animals is my favorite horse at the barn I ride at, an Appendix Quarterhorse called Levi.
At some time in their lives, almost every pet and favorite anipal has inspired a either a nonfiction book, a character or characters in fiction stories, or both. The ones that have inspired fiction characters have their own special dedication page on my website.
I have found that animals are my biggest source of inpiration as a writer.

Recent Posts
Interview with Robin Donovan
New Blog Posts and Schedule Begin this Friday night!
Author Interviews Coming Very Soon! (And other news too)

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Interview with Jennifer Priester author of the Mortal Realm series for Children

May 2nd, 2013 → 2:18 pm @

Jennifer Priester is the author of The Mortal Realm Witch series for ages 1 – 8. The series currently consists of eleven books. Jennifer is both an author and an artist, so many of the illustrations in her book are her original works. She also owns the publishing company A&M Creations and is a huge animal lover as well as a big supporter of rescue pets. 

Mortal Witch Book Cover

Mortal Witch Book Cover

 I recently had a chance to ask Jennifer some questions about her work

Q.  What is a Mortal Realm witch? How are mortal realm witches different from other witches? What do they contribute to the world?

A mortal realm witch is exactly as it sounds, a witch that lives in the Mortal Realm. The only difference between a Mortal Realm witch and a witch living in the Other Realm is that those in the Mortal Realm often get along better with mortals. Throughout history witches and mortals have often been enemies. Mortal Realm witches, having been living with mortals yet still being witches, are often, but not always

the ones trying to keep peace between witches and mortals. One other fun fact about Mortal Realm witches is that if you are a warlock living in the Mortal Realm, you are also considered to be a Mortal Realm witch. Witch is technical term for both witches and warlocks.

Q.  Are you a Mortal Realm witch? If so, how long have you known that you are, or did you choose to be one?

I take on the countenance of a Mortal Realm witch only when I write. I chose to become a Mortal Realm Witch for the first time the summer after my sixth grade year.

Q.   Can anyone be a mortal realm witch?

If you are a witch and live in this Realm, the Mortal Realm, then you are one. If a witch from the Mortal Realm moves to the Other Realm then they are no longer considered to be Mortal Realm witches.  If you are a mortal and are given your magical powers from a witch, then for as long as you live in the Mortal Realm, you become a Mortal Realm Witch. Otherwise it is not possible, but just because you can’t become a Mortal Realm Witch any other way, you can be a Mortal Realm magic user. Details on this can be found throughout the Mortal Realm Witch series.

Q. What is an anipal?

An anipal is basically any animal I am friends with. The term anipals fits, although is never used in any of my books. This is just a term I used on my website. Anipals do include pets. I usually define an anipal as animals I don’t live with but am friends with. The anipals page on my website is basically a tribute page to the animals that have inspired books and characters in different stories. Each anipal on the page has a photo and a short description of who they are as well as what books and characters they have inspired.

Q. Do all mortal realm witches have a close connection to animals? Would you call them animal communicators – or can they only communicate with their inner circle of animals/anipals?

While the term anipal is never used in the book, witches do have them, and all witches, Mortal Realm or Other Realm, have very close connections to animals. In a way they are animal communicators because they can talk to any animal. Usually with Mortal Realm animals, they need to put a spell on the animal to give it the ability to talk because most witches can’t understand animal speak any easier than mortals without the use of magic. Although some witches, such as my main series witch, DWW, is a protector witch. Protector witches have the ability to turn into a specific animal naturally, without the use of any magic. When in this form, which for DWW is a wolf, these witches can’t be detected by witch hunters. Because of this, protector witches have the job of protecting the same type of animal that they can turn into. Because DWW can change into a wolf naturally, not only can she become one, but she can understand them whether she is in her wolf form or not. While witches like DWW have a lot of anipals, their closest ones are their familiars. A familiar is a talking animal that teaches a witch or warlock how to use magic. These animals are live in teachers and most of the time, witches and their familiars are best friends. DWW and her familiar; a Golden Retriever called Trillman are actually no exception to this although in the first book it may not seem this way. More about familiars will be able to be learned throughout the Mortal Realm Witch series, especially in the first series companion.

Q.  What prompted you to begin a book series about mortal realm witches?

I actually had no plans on writing a series. After the first story in Book One: Mortal Meets Magic, I thought I was done. Somehow throughout that next school year, my thoughts kept wandering back to that story and I began imagining myself as DWW and wondering what it would be like to have witchcraft of my own. As I imagined these things I wrote them, and DWW’s next stories got written based on my daydreams. The story behind the series is actually a little too long to add here, so anyone interested can learn the story on my blog here:  http://animalsandmagic.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/unfinished-projects-do-we-ever-return-or-how-the-mortal-realm-witch-series-came-to-be/

There have been a few minor changes and additions to the series since, but it was completely up to date at the time I posted.

Q.  Are all of the books in this series largely focused on animals?

I would say yes, a lot of them are focused on animals, whether they’re familiars, Other Realm creatures, pets, wolves, my witches in wolf form, or whatever, there are a lot of animals in the series, many of which have large roles throughout. Some of the animals with the biggest roles in the series are: Trillman (Golden Retriever), Max (Labrador Retriever), Brad (Black Panther/Black Cat from Book Three), The Fire Pack (Asantra’s wolf pack in books four, companion 2, and book five), Screetche (Asantra’s familiar, a Double X Bird), Star (Jack Russell Terrier), and others as well. Probably the least animal focused book in the series, is Trillman’s Story, a free to read story here: http://www.mortalrealmwitch.com/extras/freetoreadstories.html The reason I consider it to be the least animal focused is because, although it is about Trillman, the story takes place back when Trillman was a human warlock living in the Mortal Realm. It is the story of how he became a familiar.

Q.  If your series on mortal realm witches could convey one or two key messages – what would they be?

I don’t really know, I suppose there are some, but this isn’t something I think about when I am writing and I am not even good at seeing these things in other people’s work. I guess you would have to read the series and see what you could come up with. Now, if you were to ask my characters they would each tell you something different. Such as, my characters were recently interviewed. Some of which were asked to give advice to the readers. One character, my villain Sampson advised them not to tell anyone their plans if their goal is to take over the Realms. I think he would consider this to be an important series message. Asantra might tell you that she believes an important message in the series would be that the little things matter, as she learned the hard way. So, I think the messages in the series will vary greatly based on the reader. And since I mentioned it the interview schedule for my characters can be found here if anyone is interested: http://www.mortalrealmwitch.com/whatsnew.html

Q.  What is the hardest thing about writing this series of books?

The hardest part has been developing the characters’ personalities. Because I rarely know who my characters are until I have written everything out, my characters actually develop throughout the course of the series rather than in the first book they appear. So, if you read about a character that is in more than one book of mine, companions and some not series books included (Some characters such as the superheroes, Black Cat, Chihuahua, The Star Power Puppy, and Wonder Wolf in the second companion, or the young animal psychics in Book Three, are actually characters from different books that aren’t part of the Mortal Realm Witch series.). To really know who my characters are you would have to read them all as more about them is revealed over time. In some cases, such as DWW or Sampson, they are younger in Book One so they are still developing who they are. To some people the characters come across as underdeveloped, which would be the case if there were just one book, but because it is a series, I had the chance to learn who they are without restricting them to being anyone specific at the start.

Q.  How has the public received the Mortal Realm witches series? Is this the response you hoped for? If not, what would you like to see?

Overall the public has liked book one, however a lot of people haven’t understood its purpose. Most of the people who have given negative feedback have only read the first three stories, so their feedback is based on an initial impression of my characters, and if they were to continue beyond that point they would experience a critical turning point in which DWW hits her stride. This is where more action begins to come into the story. Some of the people have said the book is boring because there isn’t enough action, but a few of these same people have also claimed to like the book which is a bit confusing. Most people have either liked or loved it and are anxiously awaiting the next one. One of my reviews also says the characters are underdeveloped, but I have only heard this once. I would really like it if more people could understand what I am doing with my series, but they would have to make the commitment to read all the books in order to do this. I would also like to see more of the people who have really liked the book reviewing it. I did hope people would like it, but I guess I expected it to have a better response based on the feedback I got from my original beta readers and book reviewers, who I know gave their honest responses prior to the books publishing, but strangely it’s the ones that really like my book that I have no idea why they like it. More of these types of reviews would be great. Obviously the ones that really like it aren’t missing the main goal of book one, which really is about learning about magic, as the title suggests. In Book One the reader is learning everything DWW learned. I almost feel like, for some people, I should have put a warning on the book saying: Warning! You will learn about magic! Maybe this would have alerted people that Book One does have more details, but if they don’t know them, it may make the next books a little harder to understand.

Q.  How has writing this series changed your life?

I don’t know, I actually wonder if the writing changed my life or was writing the series my life? After all, I have been writing adventures for these characters since the summer after sixth grade, which was several years ago.

Q.  What have you learned through the writing and promoting of this series that surprised you?

What surprised me most was learning where I could promote and sell books and where I couldn’t. After writing my book I had expected bookstores and my local library to be the biggest help. I was wrong. The local independent bookstore had no interest in helping, not even if I supplied the book. The chain one; Barnes and Noble, was more helpful. Although my publisher, who is me, I own the publishing company A & M Moonlight Creations, would have to pay for a spot in the store and they couldn’t let me do book signings or anything. They did offer some sales advice, the first suggestion was that it wouldn’t make any sense for me to buy a spot in the store while people have no idea who I am because the book wouldn’t be likely to sell even there, and having only one book at the time just made that worse.

My local library, although highly supportive of my book manager’s book (according to her.), almost seemed to have no interest in mine. They said I could donate a copy and if it circulated then they might buy more. Even if I did donate, I would still have the same problem Barnes and Noble told me about. It wouldn’t be very likely to circulate yet. So, while I did mean to get it to them at some point, my local library still doesn’t have a copy of my book.

The first helpful place for promoting my book was my local Key Bank. Mine, and others, have allowed me to put up a sign with take away cards about my books, and my closest one has even allowed me to keep my sign up even while other companies are using the table. Although I have only sold a few books, and don’t know what the buyers saw about my book and where they saw it, I don’t know if this way of promoting is doing anything, but it is free so why not?

The next helpful place was at the Tack Shop of the local barn I ride at. I never asked her to put my book in her shop, instead she asked me if she could have some copies. This is now the only physical store where my book is available, but she has gotten lucky and sold a copy and so far everyone at the barn who has read the book has liked it so word is slowly spreading around there.

Schools have been helpful on and off. A few of them have bought books for the school library and some of my teachers and other people I know have bought my book. My guidance counselor at the one school borrowed a copy because he had an idea to promote it. I never heard back from him and he still has the book so, I’m not sure what’s up with that. So, far only one school, my first grade school, has been my main source of negative feedback. I’m not sure why the people at that school aren’t liking it, while my other schools are, but so far, from the feedback I have heard, everyone has liked it. They just haven’t finished the book because it is too detailed and had no plot line. Which is true, my book doesn’t have a deep plot line like other books, rather the plot focuses on DWW’s struggles to learn responsibility, and is the turning point. Unfortunately, the story of Wolf Magic, is where everyone stops so they never read to the best part.

The most successful place, for finding people who are highly supportive of my book, is actually a library. As surprised as I was that my own library took so little interest, the next library over was very interested. I have been going to this library for a long time so some of them knew about the book while I was working on it. Maybe this is why they were as interested as they were. Anyway, from the moment we first told them about the book being out they actually directly asked if I would donate a copy to them. The same day, the friends of the library system set things up so that I could sell my books during their book sales at each of the 4 library’s. I have only gotten to do 2 of the 4 so far, but at each one I have had my own table or section of table right near the checkout for the books. And two of the friends who are there almost every day of the sale have read and really liked my book so whenever they see someone buying books that they think might be interested in mine, they mention it to them. They have sold some books for me, and this has become my main way to sell books. I also help during the sales a lot so that I am helping the library and not just selling my books.

Perhaps one of my biggest surprises when selling my book, was how many people were attracted to and bought my book because there is a Golden Retriever on the cover. I know this is something I do a lot, I see something on the cover and take an interest in the book, but I guess I didn’t expect Trillman to be the selling point over any other character featured on the cover.

Q.  What else should we know about this body of work you have created?

Book One’s stories are meant to be read individually. Although connected, there is no huge plot as I mentioned earlier. Each story is told from a different characters’ point of view. Throughout the series the books and stories in them can be read in any sequence, but are still best when read in sequential order. It is highly possible, however, that Book One works better as a backstory than as the first book in the series. There is also a main theme that emerges throughout the series.

We had a holistic vet for my first dog, CeJaye. He went to her originally because he was allergic to some of the meds his vet wanted to put him on. My current dog, Taco will probably be seeing her soon, he is getting older now and developing some of the same problems. I have never met the holistic vet, but based on what I heard about CeJaye’s reaction to her I think Taco would also like her. CeJaye was never known for liking strangers, or me on many occasions, but he liked this vet.

Jennifer Priester is both the author and an avid reader of fiction and nonfiction books about animals, the relationships between humans and animals, magic and the supernatural. She has written over 200 stories, all of which will eventually be published. Her first published work is the book series, Mortal Realm Witch for ages 8-adult. Besides reading and writing Jennifer likes to draw, she does all the drawings for her books with some help from a friend.

Jennifer has animals of my own, most of which are rescues; she also loves to spend time with other people’s pets. She spends a lot of time on social network sites and is constantly updating Facebook and Twitter. She has a Facebook author page under the name of Jennifer Priester, and one under the name of her publishing company A & M Moonlight Creations. She also has an author blog on wordpress.com under the name of animalsandmagic. Jennifer’s books are available at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble online, but you can go to Barnes and Noble physical stores to get the book shipped to you or the store for free. Her books are currently only available in print format. The Mortal Realm Witch series has its own website: www.mortalrealmwitch.com.

The Mortal Realm Witch Series Books (Series and Companion books in release order and order they fit best in. eBooks are not defined in this way yet.)

Book One: Mortal Realm Witch: Learning About Magic

Book Two: Mortal Realm Witch: The Magic Continues

MRW C1 (Mortal Realm Witch Companion 1): Tales of Familiars: The First Mortal Realm Witch Series Companion

Book Three: Mortal Realm Witch: Realms Unite?

Book Four: The Adventures of DWW2

MRW C2: Tales of Young Asantra: The Second Mortal Realm Witch Series Companion

Book Five: Mortal Realm Witch 5 (title not defined yet)

MRW C3: Tales of Other Realm Creatures: The Third Mortal Realm Witch Series Companion

The Mortal Realm Witch Guide to Other Realm Creatures

eBook 1: Allura’s First Magical Discovery

eBook 2: Trillman’s Tales

eBook 3: Ally & DWW

Website comic book style video: Mortal Realm Witch Presents: Ally & Air Raid in: Book Light

My Other Books:

Short Story Collections (named):

Heroes United: A Collection of Superhero Stories. (This book features mostly stories about animal superhero’s, although there are some human ones as well. This one has several stories inspired by my favorite anipals. For some reason my favorites often become superheroes.)

Short Story Collections (unnamed)

A collection of animal adventure stories. (Some of my favorite stories that I have ever written are in this collection.)

A collection of cat and horse stories. (In this one is a horse character called; Nightmare who’s personality is made up of three horses I knew and one of the only stories where the anipals are not mentioned on my website. One reason is that I don’t have photos of them, and the other is that they don’t exactly fit the term of anipal.)

A collection of dog stories. (One of the stories inspired by my Chihuahua, Taco, is in this one.)

A collection of random animal stories. (this includes stories about animals such as: a ferret, a kangaroo, an ostrich, a wolf pack, a dog and a cat, a hybrid animal, and others.)

A collection of magical and supernatural stories. (This one also might include some sci-fi)

A collection of Christmas stories.

More books made up of connecting short stories:

The Dogs That Saved the World

Back to the Wild (stories of different animals being returned to the wild after having lived in captivity.)

The Young Animal Psychics

“Good Luck” Animal Shelter (a book of different animal rescue stories where every animal has a secret.)

My comic book/graphic novel:

Spider and Jackal (A story inspired by the relationship between my two dogs, back when I had two of them. Some stories in this one actually happened, some are variations of things they did, and others are pure fiction, but all were inspired by my crazy dogs. My rabbits also got a place in this book.)

My nonfiction books:

My Pets and Their Lives (Every pet I have ever owned and their full life stories. I have been keeping it up to date so that it will be as current as possible once published.)

Animals in the Shelters (A book inspired by the first rescue pet I ever owned, the mixed breed bunny, Oreo. This book is about animal cruelty and animal rescue. The goal is to not just inform but help rescue animals get adopted. Besides facts I have included in it many real life success stories about rescue pets, a few failed adoptions with the stories behind them and reasons it didn’t work out, as well as shelter stories from when I worked at the shelter. Once this book is published, I will be giving part of the profits to animal rescue.)

Just Dreaming: The Dreams I Had and the Stories They Became (This one besides talking about the origin of several of my published, or what will be published books at the time this one is out, also will include some stories that will be exclusive to this book. In this book will be the dreams as they originally happened, what the dreams meant, then for the exclusives, the full story as I wrote it.)

My Collaboration Story:

The Battle of Ebulon.

The Battle of Ebulon is a collaboration story I have been working on with other authors, in which is serving as a free promotion for the authors of the book. Each author chose characters from their books to join in this battle. Each author’s section will be able to be read as an individual short story, but is a full length novel. Characters from across the Mortal Realm Witch series and Heroes United will be in my part of the book. The Battle of Ebulon will be free on Smash words. My part takes place after the final book in the Mortal Realm Witch main series (Book Five) and after Heroes United, but it was designed so that anyone can read it before reading any of my books, as that was the point of the collaboration.

My next series:

Animal World.

Animal World is a couple of book series will be fictional stories featuring true facts about animals. The aim of this series is to educate readers about animals and their lives in a fun and entertaining way. In total the Animal World series will feature over 250 animals in 41 books. The series will be split into three parts: Animal World, Animal World Super Editions, and a split off series: Animal World: Endangered.

The first Animal World series will have 22 regular books, and 5 super editions.

The split off series: Animal World: Endangered, will have 14 books and will focus exclusively on endangered species.

At the end of each book will also be a nonfiction section featuring some facts about each of the animals in the book as well as a nonfiction introduction in the beginning to introduce the biome, or common thing each animal has in the book. For example, the one book in the Animal World series will be about animals that live in the Alpine, so in the beginning, a nonfiction intro to the Alpine environments with information such as the locations they are found in and the animals that live in them, will be presented before the stories that are in the book. Then in the ending nonfiction section I will go into more detail about the animals in the stories which will feature both facts I used in the story, as well as some other facts that I find interesting about the animals.

If there is anything else you want to know, based on this email or my answers to the interview questions, let me know.

 

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Council Bluffs Public Library Author’s Fair

April 16th, 2013 → 2:57 pm @

Thanks to all the folks at the beautiful new Council Bluffs library for the Author’s Fair on Saturday! I felt very honored to have such a prominent table right in front of the entrance doors! It was a great chance to meet the folks in The Bluffs and get to know them a bit.

Council Bluffs Public Library

Council Bluffs Public Library

I was excited to learn that they may have another Author’s Fair in November for the Christmas shopping crowd!

I met a professional book reviewer and some very talented authors! And the library staff took very good care of all of us!

 

Author's Fair location

Author’s Fair location

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