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Thrilled to welcome Kelly Ohlert to The Spotlight to discuss her romcom, To Get To the Other Side

Author Name: Kelly Ohlert

Book Title: To Get To the Other Side

Book Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance (RomCom)

Release Date: 12/6/22

Publisher: Alcove Press

Welcome, Kelly! What sparked the idea for this book?

A friend of mine actually found an injured chicken crossing the road in Chicago and took her in, despite living in a small flat. The story was so absurd, I knew immediately it belonged in a book. So, I started with that scene, and the story grew from there. Bear’s family in particular really jumped off the page and told their own story.

How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do any research?

It took me about 2.5 months to write the first draft. The research on this project wasn’t a big undertaking, but there are always things here and there to research.  In this book, it was things like care for and time to heal an ankle injury, and chicken care and behaviors.

What drew you to romantic comedies?

My mom recommended a Sophie Kinsella book to me. I can’t remember which one it was, because I loved it so much, I proceeded to immediately read her entire backlist. I knew I needed more, and my next forays into the genre were The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, and Roomies by Christina Lauren. Like that, I was hooked! I’d written bits and pieces of things before, but never managed to get more than a few chapters down. I think romcoms have a distinct playful voice that really works well for me. I decided to give writing one a try, and it flew out of me! I love the safety of a guaranteed happy ever after, and the escapism that is nice anytime, but especially with the challenges of the world lately. We could all use some love and laughter.

Any words of wisdom you give your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?

I agree with the common advice to write every day, but I don’t mean it literally. Give yourself the grace to take a break when you need to, but I do think it’s important to form a habit of writing most days. Even if you give yourself the simplest goal of getting one paragraph down, you’ll often find that once you get started it’s easy to keep going.

Where can readers find you?

I can be found at kellyohlert.com and I’m @kellyohlert on tiktok, twitter, and instagram. I’ve also got a facebook reader group. Come say hi!

Thank you, Kelly! To Get To the Other Side is available for preorder.

In the vein of Lyssa Kay Adams and Abby Jimenez, Kelly Ohlert’s charming debut is a one-of-a-kind rom-com that explores the power of overcoming the past and fighting for the things you love.

Trixie isn’t exactly sure what she was thinking when she stopped her car in the middle of downtown Chicago, scooped up a chicken struggling to cross the road, and drove off… but she does know that she has to find a new home for herself and her new feathered friend. The landlord at her apartment doesn’t allow pets and has caught Trixie in one too many pet-smuggling attempts in the past.

Bear likes his quiet life with his close-knit family, who own a flower business, but he’s in for a rude awakening when his meddlesome sisters post an ad to rent the spare room in his simple home, without asking his permission. Still, when Trixie responds to the ad, he agrees to let her move in, despite immediate worries about keeping things platonic.

Determined to keep her new room, become friends with Bear, and give Chick-chick, the rescue chicken, the care she deserves, Trixie fights to keep her walls up and not give in to her romantic feelings for Bear. However, it’s not long before the pair’s proximity and chicken parenting ignite flames that have Trixie and Bear testing the boundaries of their platonic ground rules. They have to figure out how to save a family business, pay for mounting vet bills, and navigate their own emotional baggage if they want to find the love that they all deserve.

Perfect for readers of The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, and fans of The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez, readers will find themselves rooting for every one of the relatable, but tenderly flawed, characters in this book and brushing away tears as they follow the heartwarming antics of a rescue chicken and her human companions.


Suzanne Moyers joins the Author Spotlight to chat about her novel, ‘Til All These Things Be Done

Author Name: Suzanne Moyers

Book Title: ‘Til All These Things Be Done

Book Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: September 13, 2022

Publisher: She Writes Press

Welcome, Suzanne! How would you describe ‘Til All These Things Be Done

Set in tumultuous east Texas a century ago, during an earlier time of pandemic and social upheaval, this unraveling family mystery will haunt you far beyond the final page.

What sparked the idea for this book? 

I was 16 when I witnessed my grandmother crying out to the ghost of her long-lost father: Papa! Why did you leave? The expression on her face was so heart wrenching, it drove me to learn more about this hush-hush chapter of family history.  The central elements of that story—and the many unanswered questions behind it—percolated in my mind for decades, eventually forming the scaffolding for this novel. 

How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do any research?

Altogether, it took about eleven years to write the novel and bring it to market.

I did do a lot of research for the book. My family has deep roots in Texas and I spent many childhood vacations visiting kin there. Even so, I was surprised at how little I knew about the region’s important and complex history. While I accomplished much of my research online, I also had access to many family heirlooms and documents that fueled my creativity.  One of the most in I took a research trip to Texas, where I visited the small town where my grandmother once lived (the model for Bronway) and the orphanage in Waxahachie, which still exists as a foster care facility.  (You can read more insights from that visit and how it influenced the novel at suzannemoyers.com/blog.)

What drew you to writing historical fiction? 

I have always been fascinated by the history of wherever I happen to be—whether a travel destination or the town in northern NJ where I live. Give me a falling-down house in the woods and I’ll try to figure out who lived there, what made them laugh and cry, how they got through hard times. E.L. Doctorow once said, “The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.”  The factual details of history are, for me, a medium for channeling the spirits of those who lived it on a daily basis.

What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging? 

The mere act of sitting down to write is my biggest struggle. This is especially true now, when I’m busy promoting my novel. Of course once I start writing, I’m good—happy, even! Taking a weekly class or joining a critique group—knowing I have to turn in work on a regular basis—helps me conquer procrastination.

On the other hand, it’s in promoting this book that I’ve also found great fulfillment. Whenever someone—influential bookstagrammer, longtime acquaintance—seems to connect with the story, I know I’ve done my job. People think of writing as such a solitary endeavor but the fact is, in bringing our stories into the world, we’re inviting social connections.

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Til All These Things Be Done?

First and foremost, I want readers to be engaged and entertained.  The history behind this novel is certainly intriguing and I hope people will be as enlightened by it as I’ve been. But more importantly, I hope readers will relate on some level to the protagonist’s struggle to survive, understand herself, and come to terms with her deepest losses.   

What do you hope readers will take away from this story? (see above)

What about the writing/editing/publishing process has been the most surprising to you so far?

I’ve been surprised to discover how important constructive criticism is to becoming a better writer.   I will never forget attending my first critique group twelve years ago.  I was so terrified, I nearly turned around and went home.  But after the first few sessions I realized how this feedback was helping to improve my craft. Not only that but these ‘writer-teachers’ also became my tribe, an invaluable professional community I could lean on for all sorts of support.

Any words of wisdom you can give your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?  

It’s important to consider genre before writing your first book.  Much as I love historical fiction, I’m also itching to try my hand at other forms. But now that I’ve built a platform through this novel, it may be hard to ‘start over’ with a new audience.  Of course some authors have done this successfully—for instance, historical novelist Emma Donoghue with the contemporary thriller, Room.

And there are workarounds. I’ve already written part of a contemporary psychological thriller. Instead of wholly switching genres, I might now set a similar story in the late 1800s.  After all, murder, revenge, greed, and jealousy are not unique to the 21st century.

What are your interests outside of writing and reading? 

I love to metal detect, mudlark (search for artifacts along the banks of rivers and streams), and volunteer for archeological digs. I especially enjoy researching the relics I find and connecting them to actual people and events. It’s another form of historical storytelling. 

Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.

Besides the psychological thriller I mentioned above, I’m researching a family of Dutch female traders in New Amsterdam (now NYC) who had an interesting relationship with the famed Algonquin sachem, Oratom. I may also revisit that YA I mentioned earlier—genre be damned.

Where can readers find you?

suzannemoyers.com/press    (Includes updated events.)

@electaforce (IG)

@suzannemoyers (Twitter)

facebook.com/SuzanneMoyersWrites

Thank you, Suzanne! Til All These Things Be Done is OUT NOW.

Set against the rich but often troubled history of Blacklands, Texas, during an era of pandemic, scientific discovery, and social upheaval, the novel offers a unique—yet eerily familiar—backdrop to a universal tale of triumphing over loss.Even as dementia clouds other memories, eighty-year-old Leola can’t forget her father’s disappearance when she was sixteen. Now, as Papa appears in haunting visions, Leola relives the circumstances of that loss: the terrible accident that steals Papa’s livelihood, sending the family deeper into poverty; a scandal from Mama’s past that still wounds; and Leola’s growing unease with her brutally bigoted society.When Papa vanishes while seeking work in Houston and Mama dies in the “boomerang” Influenza outbreak of 1919, Leola and her young sisters are sent to an orphanage, where her exposure of a dark injustice means sacrificing a vital clue to Papa’s whereabouts. That decision echoes into the future, as new details about his disappearance suggest betrayal too painful to contemplate. Only in old age, as her visions of Papa grow more realistic, does Leola confront her long-buried grief, leading to a remarkable discovery about her family—and, maybe, a chance for forgiveness.


Gary Eldon Peter joins The Spotlight to discuss his latest YA novel

Author Name: Gary Eldon Peter

Book Title: The Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen

Book Genre: Young adult fiction

Release Date: July 5, 2022

Publisher: Fitzroy Books (an imprint of Regal House Publishing)

Welcome, Gary! What drew you to writing YA fiction?

I think it was more a matter of YA finding me than me finding it, if that makes sense. My original idea for the novel was much different than what I ended up with. Over time, as I kept revising it, it sort of turned into a YA novel without me really knowing it, and the genre seems to fit the subject matter and the story. I’d like to think that my novel has some crossover appeal — an adult reader could also pick it up and get something out of it. I’m mindful of the expression that YA books are about young people, but that doesn’t mean they are exclusively for young people.

What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?

Some famous writer (I can’t remember who) once said that they enjoy having written, but not the process of writing (I’m paraphrasing here). I’m somewhat the same way – I like seeing the final product, especially in print, but getting there is another story. At the same time, sometimes I do enjoy the drafting stage – it’s a bit like try to solve a puzzle trying to get at what you really mean and what you intend to say. I also like thinking about structure – how is this thing going to come together? What’s the right order? For me the challenge is turning off that judgmental “self editor” that can get in the way. I just try to be really patient with myself and if it takes me all day to write a paragraph, then I try to accept that and just keep going.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

It’s pretty basic, but LGBTQ+ people are everywhere, in all communities. Also, acceptance and understanding for LGBTQ+ individuals not living in urban areas can still be a challenge despite the significant progress we have made. I hope that readers of whatever age but particularly LGBTQ+ kids will appreciate their story being told, will feel “seen,” and know that they are not alone.

What about the writing/editing/publishing process has been the most surprising to you so far?

You really have to think about how to market your work. With my first book I really didn’t have much of an understanding of the role promotion and marketing play in publishing. It takes a lot of organization and planning, and you can’t wait until the day your book comes out to start that process. It’s something that you need to think about from the moment you learn that your book is going to be published. By the time my second book came out, I felt I had a much better understanding of that. A smaller press may do a great job producing your book, but they can’t do it all. You have to consider whether to get help from a publicist, and you need to make sure that if you go that route, you’ve selected the right person. For me, working with a publicist has been a great investment, but every writer needs to decide for themselves whether that makes sense.

Any words of wisdom you give your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?

Shortly before my first book came out, a mentor gave me really great advice about the importance of perspective: yes, it’s a great thing to be published, but it’s not everything and your work, and how it is received, doesn’t define you as a person or your worth.

Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.

I’m trying to get back to writing stories with the goal of producing another book-length collection. More recently, though, I’ve been writing essays. I’ve never really thought essays to be my thing, but I’ve actually enjoyed writing them and plan to do more with that genre.

Where can readers find you?

My web site: garyeldonpeter.com

I have lots of great information there about me, my books, other writing that I’ve done, and events that I have coming up.

Thank you, Gary! The Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen is OUT NOW.

Set on a small and struggling family dairy operation in southern Minnesota, The Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen follows fifteen-year-old Carl as he confronts his crush on Andy Olnan, a handsome and confident but secretive “city boy” recently transplanted to farm life from Minneapolis, who may or may not share the same feelings. At the same time, Carl and his father clash over the future of their farm, a legacy of Carl’s late mother: how do they honor her dream for the family while also ensuring financial security? Carl discovers his own resilience in the face of grief, adult-sized decisions, and unrequited love, and along the way learns to cope with both the challenges and rewards of being different.

Author Bio:

Gary Eldon Peter is the author of two works of fiction: Oranges, a linked short story collection published by New Rivers Press, and the novel The Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen, published by Fitzroy Books/Regal House and winner of the Acheven Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction. Oranges received the Gold Medal for LGBT+ fiction in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, the Midwest Book Award, and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award and the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies and has been performed on the public radio program Selected Shorts. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and is a faculty member at the University of Minnesota. You can learn more about Gary and his work at garyeldonpeter.com


Lenore Borja joins the Spotlight this week to chat about her YA fantasy, The Last Huntress

Author Name: Lenore Borja

Book Title: The Last Huntress, Mirror Realm Series Book I

Book Genre: YA Fantasy

Release Date: November 1, 2022

Publisher: SparkPress

Welcome, Lenore! How would you describe The Last Huntress?

The Last Huntress is a YA fantasy with strong female characters, Greek gods, supernatural mirrors, and an electrifying romance.

What sparked the idea for this book?

When living in San Francisco, my husband and I discovered a hidden closet behind a mirror in our apartment. We’d lived there for over a year and had looked in that mirror countless times, never knowing something was behind it. It helped inspire me to create my own world behind the mirror.

How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do any research?

That’s a difficult question because do you ever really finish writing a book? If my publisher allowed it, I guarantee I’d still have changes to make! But it took about ten months for me to finish my first draft. It came in at 160,000 words, so it took another year of revisions before it resembled what it is now. I created the demi-goddess Philautia and the myth behind the Realm, but Greek gods and goddesses also appear in the story, which required some research.

What drew you to writing YA fantasy?

A few years ago, I read Inescapable by Amy A. Bartol. I devoured it and immediately downloaded the rest of her Premonition series. There are angels, reapers, gancanagh (male fairies in Irish mythology), and plenty of romance. I loved the escapism aspect, and it helped inspire me to write a YA fantasy of my own.

What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?

My favorite part of writing is discovery. I love when my characters surprise me. The hardest part is getting that first draft out. I sometimes edit as I write, which can be a futile exercise. Chances are it will change anyway, so I’m learning to get it on the page and edit later!

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read The Last Huntress?

I’d probably steal the blurb that Molly E. Lee, author of the Ember of Night series, so graciously wrote for me: “The Last Huntress is a fun fantasy with a cool sisterhood vibe and a swoony romance!” She nailed it, and my cup runneth over!

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

Love can come in any form. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow it takes hold. The result is the same. It’s love.

What about the writing/editing/publishing process has been the most surprising to you so far?

It’s a long and complicated process. There is so much that goes into getting a book ready for publication. When you finish writing the darn thing, you think you’re done, but honestly, that is only the beginning!

Any words of wisdom you give your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?

Watch your word count, show up every day, and don’t give up!

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

Traveling, running, my cat (because I’m obsessed with him), and medieval festivals. I love a good Ren Faire. Huzzah!

Are you working on a new project? We’d love to hear more.

I’m working on book two of the Mirror Realm series. There will be four books in the series, each focusing on a different huntress while continuing Alice’s story arc (the main character in book one). I’m also working on a standalone paranormal romance that is funny, dark, and may or may not involve creatures of the fanged variety.

Where can readers find you?

You can sign up for my newsletter at www.lenoreborja.com or follow me on any of the following:

  • Instagram: @LenoreBorja_Author
  • Twitter: @LenoreBorja
  • Tiktok: @lenoreborja

Thank you, Lenore! The Last Huntress, Mirror Realm Series Book I is OUT NOW.

Alice Daniels has a problem. Her reflection keeps misbehaving when she looks in the mirror—and the longer she ignores it, the harder it tries to get her attention. On her eighteenth birthday, she learns why: she is a huntress, someone gifted with the power to enter mirrors and the magical world that exists beyond. But with this power comes immense responsibility, for in the Mirror Realm lurks an evil that has infected the human race for centuries: demons. It is up to her and her three huntress sisters—with the help of one handsome and overbearing protector—to hunt and banish this evil one demon at a time, thereby keeping the chaos in check. But when an ancient god pays Alice a visit that turns deadly, it is clear the Mirror Realm is more than it seems, and she soon finds herself in a race against time to save the life—and soul—of the one man the gods are determined to never let her have.

The Last Huntress is a story of redemption and sacrifice, the bonds of true sisterhood, and the impossible, sometimes frightening, things we’ll do for love.

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