New Kid on the Blog: Zoe Tasia (@ZoeTasia)

This week of thankfulness and great shopping also brings another lovely thing with it: my special Thanksgiving edition of New Kids on the Blog, in which I have the privilege of sharing with you what I’ve learned of the beautiful Zoe Tasia! Book-lover extraordinaire, author and mother of two, Zoe is also co-author of a couple of wonderful books, which you’ll want to add to your TBR pile asap! Read the interview below to get to know Zoe a bit better, then grab a copy of one of her books to complete the experience. And have the Happiest Thanksgiving, or Thursday or whatever 😉

I remember the excitement I felt when I could pick out and read my first book. It brought me so much joy. I felt like new worlds were open to me and the experience seemed miraculous. I’ve been an insatiable reader ever since and always thought being an author would be the best job ever.

1. Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an Okie. I grew up in a small town and graduated from the University of Oklahoma where I met my husband. We have two sons. Our youngest was born in Scotland, our home for over seven years after which we moved to Texas and remain.
I remember the excitement I felt when I could pick out and read my first book. It brought me so much joy. I felt like new worlds were open to me and the experience seemed miraculous. I’ve been an insatiable reader ever since and always thought being an author would be the best job ever.

2. You are an author and the other half of a writing team. Tell us about your books.

I co-author with Minette Lauren under the name Zari Reede. We have three books out. Our first book, Daisy Dukes ‘n Cowboy Boots, is a west Texas romance.
When a rich banker hires handsome lawyer Nolan Anderson to find a way to acquire certain acreage, Ferina Kincaid must struggle not only to keep her ranch, but to resist the attraction she feels for Nolan.

Our second book, Blinked, is a zany fantasy.
Mindy Nichols’s job is to destroy the diverse, violent beings transported, or “blinked”, to Earth. Then she meets Winnalea, the first “blinked” being that didn’t viciously attack. Mindy can’t kill the sweet, helpful woman who calls herself a Brownie. To complicate matters, Mindy’s husband, Jim, has “blinked” to Winnalea’s home world. Follow them as Mindy fights to follow her conscience and stand up to her boss and Jim navigates a topsy-turvy fairytale world inhabited by Cyclops, witches and dwarves.

Our third book, available for preorder, is a psychological thriller, Sins of the Sister. Private investigator Lana Madison knows her twin sister lives and will stop at nothing to find her. No matter how dangerous it is.

Preorder here!

3. What motivates you to write?

It’s inherent and a part of who I am, my identity. I’ve always had a great imagination and told stories before I could write them down.

4. What is your writers’ Achilles Heel?

I dread editing, but the worst is writing blurbs. Coming up with only a few sentences to explain your book and entice readers is so difficult.

5. Your latest book, Blinked, is an urban fantasy set in the 70s. What is your personal connection to this historic period/the characters in your book?

My reason for choosing the time period was two-fold. I wanted the setting to be in the past so the characters would have communication difficulties and their world would be lower tech. However, I also wanted the era to be one with which I had some familiarity. I grew up in the 70s and it was a time of turmoil and eye-opening experiences, so I thought it was fitting.

6. What is your favorite thing to discuss with your readers?

I have readers?! I still get giddy about that. I’m happy discussing anything book-related. Be it my own or someone else’s. I particularly enjoy answering questions where I’m able to elaborate and share facets of the character that are not revealed in the book.

7. What is the most annoying question you get from your readers?

I can’t think of one particular question, but the attitude that anyone can be an author, easy-peasy and, that when I’m busy doing my job, it isn’t looked upon as being as important bothers me.

8. What are some of the life-changing books you’ve read, and why?

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was important because it was the first book I read by an Oklahoman author and, holy moly! The author’s a woman! I realized that yes, being a writer was possible. S.E. Hinton did it, maybe this Oklahoman girl could too. The Wizard of Oz by Baum was the first fantasy series book I read, my introduction to one of my most favorite genres. My love of it also made me more open to other genres like science fiction. Diana Gabaldon’s first book, Outlander, was published as Cross Stitch in the UK where I read it. In fact, I met her at a book signing there. I was amazed she had never visited Scotland until after she wrote her novel. I wouldn’t have guessed and it gave me confidence to write about places and things I knew nothing about, at least until I researched, or experienced.

9. What is the one book you wish you had written, and why?

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. The premise is clever, the humor cracks me up, and I love the unusual formatting.

10. What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome as an author?

While I lived in Aberdeen, I had viral encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain due to a virus. I don’t remember six weeks of my life. I had numerous seizures and memory loss. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t follow a simple sitcom. Time passed. I healed. I got most of my memories back and my short-term memory improved enough that I could read a book again. Prior to the illness, I took several writing courses and submitted some short stories. I felt I was really making progress and on my way to becoming an author. It took me a long time to get the confidence to write again, but eventually I did. My co-author suggested a writing exercise. She sent me the first paragraph of a story which I added on to and sent back. This eventually became our first book.

11. What are some of your triumphs as an author?

Getting published will never cease to give me joy and a sense of accomplishment. I’m thrilled that my first solo book, Kilts and Catnip (Book 1 of The Shrouded Isle Series), is coming out soon. I’ve been on a book panel and multiple book signings. Maybe someday, it will all seem commonplace, but now, every little authorly thing elates me.

We are lucky enough to get the very first look at the cover of Kilts and Catnip, Zoe Tasia’s first solo publication!

12. You have a book blog where you also review/discuss books. What prompted you to start blogging about books? Do you have a favorite genre and why?

At some level, I knew reviews were important, but I didn’t start writing them until I read a book by a new indie author and saw that he had just a handful of reviews. I couldn’t believe someone that wrote so well didn’t have more fans, so I wrote a review of his book to get the news out. I began a blog shortly before Daisy Dukes came out and quickly discovered that I’m not a big blogger. Since I already wrote reviews, I started posting them on my site.
I enjoy fantasy the most, where anything can happen.

13. What was the first book you blogged about, and why?

The first book I blogged about was Thicker Than Blood by Andrew Dudek. He didn’t have many reviews plus he had a couple of bad ones which can bring down the star rating quite a bit. I liked the book and wanted to be supportive.

Read the review here.

14. What is your greatest passion?

Reading and writing, of course. Cats, … I’m bonkers for cats and follow Catlady on social media.

15. Do you have other talents or hobbies?

I’m a bit of a fitness freak. As the kid that was the last one to be picked for a team, the fact that I ran a marathon amazes me. I love dancing and took classes as a child. I used to Greek dance with a group, but after I tore my meniscus, I gave it up. I tried belly dancing, which was great fun.

16. What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a fantasy book by Rick Gualtieri, Sunset Strip.

17. Are there any new projects in your future? What’s next for you?

I’m currently writing Book 2 of The Shrouded Isle series, tentatively titled Tartan and Thyme. I also plan to write Shrouded Isle holiday short stories. I have one ready to publish and several others I’m working on. I have written the first of another fantasy series that I need to edit and several projects I’ve begun and need to finish. I’m exploring other genres such as cozy mystery and magical realism.

18. And the question that everyone gets asked: Recommend one Netflix series I should watch ☺

The latest good one I saw was season one of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but if you haven’t seen Red Dwarf or one of my “why-was-this-cancelled?” favorites, Wonderfalls, you should.

What a great lady! And some awesome new suggestions for reads and series! Thank you, Zoe!
Now, there’s really only one more thing left to do (apart from stuffing your face with turkey): go to AuthorShout’s website and vote for my own book, The Deermaster. You know you want to 😉

And have a wonderful weekend, filled with great new books!

New Kids on the Blog: An interview with Judy and Keith, authors of Children’s and YA fiction (@JudyandKeith)

Quote

This past week I had the profound pleasure of talking to Judy and Keith, who are not only writing partners, but have also been life-partners for more than forty years (they don’t look old enough for that!). Their story is such a selfless one, but not entirely smooth sailing on the publishing side of things. Read the interview below to find out more about them, their writing and their wonderful books. At the very bottom I will post a link to the article that sparked our conversation, and that can be of great value to anyone who hopes to publish Children’s fiction, or anything that contains graphic content, via Amazon Kindle.

Judy and Keith are also members of the WolfPackAuthors writers’ group. If you haven’t any idea what that is, visit @WolfPackAuthors on Twitter, and be sure to follow them. They’re pretty awesome, just like real wolves.

Keith & Judy

“Judy’s Big-nan told the best bedtime stories with witches, fairies, magic teapots…etc. Judy carried on the tradition with our children, and now we’re reaching a new generation.”

 

  1. Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself.

Judy and Keith mainly write children’s stories. Each story tries to emphasize a moral and has to pass the acid test: Would we be happy if our own grandchildren read it?

We were born near Tamworth in the UK, met at high school, have been married for over forty years, and are now semi-retired, living in the South Bay, Los Angeles.
Judy initially followed a medical career as a radiographer and ultrasound technician in the UK and in her spare time gave piano lessons.
Keith followed a career first as an electronic engineer and later as a program manager.
In the mid-eighties, we relocated to Los Angeles where Judy switched profession to cosmetologist. We have two sons and two grandsons.

  1. You are both authors, and a couple?! Tell us about your books.

Keith writes, Judy edits—she says ‘why bark when you have a dog!’
Keith’s alter-ego writes adult material. Our grandson heard us discussing a story and wanted to read it. He was only eight. We promised to write a story just for him and asked what he wanted—answer, a wrestling story. Big T was the result. By the time we’d worked through all our grandchildren & god-grandchildren—we were on a roll.

Some of our earlier eBooks are no longer available individually, but we are republishing them as anthologies. The first two collections are available from Amazon, with Bedtime Stories following early in 2019.

Wicked Witch Anthology

Also available in print here.

Children’s Stories Anthology

Also available in print here.

  1. What motivates you to write?

It has to be our grandchildren.

  1. What are your writers’ Achilles Heels?

Some stories don’t resonate with Keith, and he procrastinates. A few glasses of wine in our rooftop garden usually works to break the deadlock.

  1. How do you negotiate plot ideas or differences in opinion about the content of your books? Is it a negotiation?

It’s a negotiation—usually involving a couple of glasses of wine. Judy is the big picture plot…Keith fills in the details.

  1. Your books are aimed at children and young adults. How did you come to work in this genre? What is your personal connection to the characters in your books?

See answer to Question #2
All characters are fictional…although, we do cherry pick the names we use so our grandkids can relate better to the stories.

  1. Of the books you’ve written, which resonates most closely with you as authors? Are there characters that hold a special relationship with your own childhoods?

The Wicked Witch series—Judy’s Big-nan told the best bedtime stories with witches, fairies, magic teapots…etc. Judy carried on the tradition with our children, and now we’re reaching a new generation.

  1. What is your favorite thing to discuss with your readers?

Nothing specific, although we do try and introduce morals and consequences into our stories.

  1. What are some of the life-changing books you’ve read, and why?

Keith fell in love with C. S Lewis’ Narnia series and E. S Nesbit’s stories…especially the blend of reality and fantasy. The idea that you can be living a mundane life…and a second later, a miracle happens…Judy’s the practical one…but, can make up a children’s story at a drop of a hat!

  1. You have had unique challenges with self-publishing children’s books and have overcome them in unique ways. Can you tell us a little bit about that, the illustrations and your process, also about your recently published article in regards to the challenges of publishing books for young readers?

Family and friends told us we’d reach a bigger audience if we had illustrations and the books in print. My son kept plugging away, so when Amazon offered this suite of publishing tools—effectively removing the barrier to play—we had to give them a try. The article goes into more details.
For us, we promised ourselves not to spend family money on what could be viewed as a hobby. The Amazon tools appeared too good to be true. It may be true…and in the future the tools themselves might become a profit-center, but not at the moment. We have a backlog of short stories—more than enough for two additional anthologies. We’ve turned it into a family affair, we all produce illustrations, help with marketing. Judy takes the lead with editing. Keith pulls all the parts together.
At the moment, except for the cover, we’re keeping the illustrations as pen-pencil. If these take off, we’ll consider full color. Our first front cover was home grown using an Amazon template, the second was the result of a competition.

  1. What was the first book you ever wrote?

Children’s stories…was Big T. It still appears on Amazon, but the publisher Devine Destinies has removed it from their website. We will include it in Bedtime Stories 1Q2019. The Mystery of the Broken Vase…still a short-story, but the theme is darker.

Big T

The Mystery of the Broken Vase

  1. What is your greatest passion?

Who knows? We don’t. Music’s a passion…dancing.
We firmly believe communication and doing things together are two of the three legs to keep a relationship fresh and new.

  1. Do you have other talents or hobbies?

Keith’s getting better at drawing illustrations…

  1. What are you currently reading?

Nothing in the YA-children genres.
Keith is a reviewer with TBRpile, so there is plenty of reading material. The last one was an adult detective story by Susan Laine.

  1. Are there any new projects in your future? What’s next for you?

One day at a time…finish the series of children anthologies. That covers 2019!! Bite the bullet with Harry Putter—a YA/NA romantic comedy…we’re stuck at 2000 words…

  1. And the question that everyone gets asked: Recommend one Netflix series I should watch?

Punisher…Keith
Orange is the new black…Judy

To learn more about Judy and Keith’s lovely children’s books, click here, or visit their Amazon Authors’ Page. Download their article on publishing Children’s fiction/graphic content to Amazon Kindle here.

If you are an author, book blogger/vlogger or book reviewer and would like to be featured as one of my New Kids on the Blog, DM me @StinavD on Twitter, or drop me a line at christina (at) christinavandeventer.com (please replace (at) with @).

Have a lit week!