Wednesday, September 21, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Lori Anne Rising, Author and Life Coach

Lori Anne Rising, Author
LEVERAGE
Lori Anne Rising’s book LEVERAGE: AUTHORSHIP FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM offers nonfiction authors “practical, applicable advice” to write an influential book using the least amount of tools to reach target audiences. She explains that the publishing world has changed requiring new approaches to writing, publishing, and marketing—and an author needs to understand the purpose of a book.  In the following interview, she also suggests how her theories might be applicable to fiction writers, specifically in identifying a target audience for marketing.

Rising has three international best-sellers and is a Certified Life Coach who works with authors to help them write books that will help build their businesses. When she’s not writing, she enjoys traveling and doing new things—even if she’s not good at them. She has many projects in the works and is currently writing Book 2 of the LEVERAGE three-book series.

Q: How would you define the title of your book LEVERAGE? What does it mean to “leverage?” Why would authors want to “leverage?”

Lori Anne Rising: Leverage is about the ability to make a larger impact using less effort. It’s the difference between using brute force to move a heavy rock versus using a pulley system, for example. When it comes to being an author, especially into today’s publishing world, no one wants to do everything the hard way. There are ways to be highly effective, shorten the learning curve, and produce a far better, more powerful nonfiction book – if someone is willing to put a little extra time into the initial phases. Think of it like setting up the pulley system to save effort and time later versus walking up to the big, heavy rock and trying to give it a shove. It might get you started faster to give it a shove, but your effectiveness will be impacted long-term. Taking a few extra steps at the beginning to set up a system that will alleviate effort, be highly effective, and even be able to be used again later, can really be worth it. That’s leverage.

Q: You also speak of “influence” as an important goal. Can you define “influence? And how “leverage” leads to it?

Lori Anne Rising: Influence is one’s ability to shift the thoughts, beliefs and/or actions of someone else. There are various kinds of influence. For example, offering money as a reward is a kind of influence. Celebrities have a different kind of influence. A boss at work and a parent have a third kind of influence. Some kinds of influence work incredibly well as an author. Others don’t. Some kinds of influence can be combined and integrated into a book or marketing plan by authors. Others can’t. LEVERAGE actually goes through each of the various kinds of influence, which ones work for authors, which ones don’t, and how authors can combine the various kinds both when they write their book as well as when they’re marketing it.

Consciously incorporating influence into a book itself IS a form of leverage. After all, as authors, we want our books to make a difference somehow in our readers’ lives. We want our books to sell more copies so that we can both make money AND make an even larger impact in the world. Knowing how to be highly influential creates a powerful book for a reader. When a reader likes your book, they talk about it. When they talk about it, more people find it, buy it, and read it – without you putting in more effort than you would otherwise. If people DON’T like your book, they won’t talk about it and your efforts may sell more books, but they may or may not make a difference to readers.

Personally, if I’m going to put that much time and energy into writing, publishing and marketing a book, I want to make it the most impactful, powerful, useful book I can – the first time. It makes marketing it, sharing it, and getting readers to buy it and use it SO much easier – and more fun!

Q: One of your reviewers said, “This book is a must read for anyone who wants to reach their target audience.” How does an author identify a target audience? Who is your target audience for LEVERAGE?

Lori Anne Rising: Identifying a target audience is fairly simple – but may or may not be easy. I go into specific detail in the book about how to do this effectively, and I have an Influential Author’s Toolkit available that provides an even more detailed, step-by-step approach as well as templates and resources for authors. To keep it short and simple here however, it’s easiest to think of what a book actually is:  It’s a one-to-one conversation between a reader and the author. Which really means that identifying a target audience isn’t about figuring out a group or segment of the population, it’s about figuring out the ONE most ideal reader. By doing so, the author’s language naturally shifts in such a way that their writing becomes more accessible - and influential – to more readers. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s highly effective.

LEVERAGE is written for experts, thought leaders, and those who want to be. These people are typically professional speakers, coaches, consultants, trainers, and informational marketers who want to make a powerfully positive difference in their readers’ lives AND use their book as a leverage point to build their business. You see, books – especially nonfiction – aren’t just a product to sell. In fact, if an author is looking at their book as nothing more than that, they’re missing the most valuable aspect of being an author! Books are business cards; the most effective, efficient and influential business card anyone could ever create. When readers like what you share, they want more. It’s not uncommon for a nonfiction author to give away a $20 book and wind up with a $5,000 speaking gig, for example. That’s leverage at its best as an author!

Q: Do you believe your insight into authors’ books is relevant to both fiction and non-fiction? How could an author of fiction benefit from it?

Lori Anne Rising: To be quite honest, I don’t know. The book was born out of over a year’s worth of research that I did to earn my master’s degree. When I developed the research focus itself, I specifically designed it to focus on nonfiction. While there are several reasons for this, the main reason is that, as an author coach, I work exclusively with nonfiction and I wanted my research to be highly relevant to my work.

That said, there may be some possibilities for applying some of the tools developed from the research I did. Understanding influence, for example, can help even a fiction author when it comes time to market their book. Marketing after all, is a deliberate attempt to direct someone’s actions, i.e., buy the book. The research that I did has its foundation in over 60 years of influence research from the business arena, including sales and marketing, so it could be helpful. Understanding one’s target audience will also help, especially when it comes to the marketing aspects.

Some fiction authors also have products and other aspects of a business that they incorporate their books into. For these authors, the concepts of leveraging their books to build their business that are central to the Influential Authorship series (LEVERAGE is just Book 1), will be very helpful. Again, it’s not about selling a book. It’s about leveraging that book into other kinds of opportunities.  

Q:  Can you offer three to five tips that will lead to “leverage” and/or “influence?”

Lori Anne Rising:
1.     Write about what you’re passionate about. The passion will come through. (So will the lack of passion if you choose a topic you’re NOT passionate about!) Having read and edited first drafts from authors all over the world, I can say that this factor is THE #1 aspect of making a real difference. I’d rather read a horribly written book by someone who’s passionate about their topic than a wonderfully written book by someone who’s bored. I can edit the writing. I can’t edit passion. And trust me, the end reader can tell the difference!
2.     Ask yourself, “What do I want to be known for in 3 to 5 years?” Allow the answer to guide your topic selection. After all, once the book is published that’s what you’ll be known for, right? So why not start with that in mind. And, all the better if you’re passionate about the topic!
3.     Write as if you’re writing to just ONE person (your most ideal reader). In fact, put a chair next to you and have coffee with that person while you’re writing. It might sound odd and feel awkward, but it’s incredibly effective!
4.     Stop looking at your book as a product. Start thinking about it as a leverage point to grow your business. It’s a paradigm shift that opens doors.
5.     Stop worrying about how “good” or “bad” your writing is. There are plenty of ways to develop authentic content that you feel passionate about that don’t include actually writing it all yourself. And, even if you ARE writing it all yourself, don’t worry. Editors have jobs for a reason!

Q: What led you to become an “author coach?” What qualifies you to help authors?

Lori Anne Rising: I began as a life coach. Then, I decided to write my own book – a life coaching book for women. It was a STEEP learning curve. So steep in fact that I quit writing at all for over a year after it was published and really questioned whether I’d ever write another book. Once it was published though, I started having a number of people ask me how I did it, what it took, and if I’d be willing to help walk them through their own writing process. Most of those asking didn’t consider themselves writers, but had a passion for a message they wanted to get out. And, I realized I wanted to help.

Knowing how hard it was for me – someone who’d been a paid writer since I was 12 – I wanted to do what I could to make it easier for others. So, I took on a mentee first as an experiment to see if combining life coaching with authorship made sense. It as an AMAZING experience! That mentee led to a client. That client led to others.

Today, I’ve worked with clients all over the world including the US, Canada, England, Spain, Belgium, and Jamaica. And, helping others helped me get back to what I love most:  writing.  I’ve continued publishing my own books and am now a three-time international bestseller.

I love writing. I love seeing others achieve their dreams. When those dreams include writing a book, seeing it in the world means that not only have I helped the author, but I’ve contributed in some way to the betterment of each reader’s life as well. It’s leveraging my ability to serve. And it’s my joy and my passion! It’s not easy. It’s a ton of work to be an author – even in today’s highly accessible market – but I love it and can’t imagine NOT doing it.

Q: Several reviewers were pleased with how easy LEVERAGE was to read, how useful the exercises were, and how impactful to their writing. How did you create the process for readers to follow? Did you conduct research to see what would work? Or did it come mostly from your own experience?

Lori Anne Rising: Before becoming an author coach, I did quite a bit of business writing, including training manuals and system documentation. Usually, it involved talking with people to understand the end result they wanted, and then figuring out on my own how to turn the process into a step-by-step system anyone could follow. So, while the information came out of the academic level research that I did as my master’s thesis project. The process itself is my own blend of natural gifts in creating systems others can use, my life coaching background, and my years of experience working with authors as an author coach.

Q: The sub-title of your book is: AUTHORSHIP FOR THE NEW MILLENIUM. What makes this time period different? How does LEVERAGE address the change to the new millennium?

Lori Anne Rising: The publishing world has changed. Dramatically. Part of my research included a historical look at what the publishing industry once was and how it used to help support authors. Today, finding a big publishing company to hand-hold a fledgling author, even when the author’s work is worth it, is slim to none. Publishers used to help with marketing. They no longer do. Authors didn’t used to have the option of self-publishing. Now, they do.

Technology has changed the industry. For better or for worse is up to each individual to decide. Either way though, there’s no going back. Authors can no longer rely on help or guidance from a publishing company. Whether they choose to go through a traditional publisher or self-publish, it is up to authors to market and sell their own work. If they can’t prove they can do that, a publisher simply won’t take them – no matter how good the work itself is. Are there exceptions? Of course. But let’s face it:  if you want to be successful in today’s world as an author, you have to have an entirely different mindset than even 20 years ago, let alone 50 years ago. You no longer get to only focus on the art of writing. Today, you have to focus on developing the business side of being an author as well.

Marketing and sales is all about influencing someone’s thoughts, beliefs and actions. Understanding influence is at the core of not only creating a powerful, authentic and original book, but it’s also at the core of effectively marketing it. If you don’t understand how to influence your readers, you won’t make it. The quality of the work won’t matter if it doesn’t get into readers’ hands. Once it’s in your readers’ hands, they have to want to read it and be so impacted by it they want to share it.

LEVERAGE teaches today’s nonfiction authors how to matter in a market that’s overflowing with options.

Q:  What’s next?

Lori Anne Rising: I’m always working on several things at once. LEVERAGE is only Book 1 in a series of three books. Each book in the series reveals a segment of the research I did and applies it to nonfiction authors. Book 2 is in the works now. I hope to release it by the end of the year. While Book 1 focuses on the foundational concepts, Book 2 will reveal ways to develop the content itself, including methods that most want-to-be authors don’t realize are available to them.

I’ve also had a very long desire to dive into memoir writing. It’s a place of learning and vulnerability since it’s a new arena for me but it’s a desire that won’t leave me alone so I’ve finally taken the plunge. This summer I published RISING OVERTHE HILL on Kindle, a short read about turning 40 and the unforgettable moments from my 20s and 30s that got me here. Having gotten the first one complete, it feels more comfortable to start diving into additional memoirs that I’d like to write. I’m looking forward to seeing how this new path unfolds!
           
Q: Tell us about Lori Anne Rising. What do you like to do when you’re not writing or coaching?

Lori Anne Rising: I enjoy traveling and doing new things. This past summer, for example, I earned my scuba diving certification and am looking forward to using it as often as I can! Living in the Pacific Northwest, there are some really amazing places to go hiking and exploring, so I get out as often as I can. I also enjoy a variety of creative projects such as painting, cross-stitch and wood carving. I’m not great at all the things I put my creative energy into, I just really enjoy the process of being creative and seeing something take shape. Sometimes the best creations are the ones where I had no idea what it was going to be when I started and just allowed it to unfold as I went. Mostly though, my time is spent with the people in my life I care about the most. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than a one-to-one conversation with my partner or a dear friend, or an evening spent around a campfire laughing, listening to my partner’s music (he’s a musician) and sharing the stories that bond us together.
           
About Lori Anne Rising

Lori Anne Rising is a three-time international bestselling author, Certified Life Coach and author’s coach. She focuses on developing books that are original, authentic and powerful. So far she has worked with authors in the U.S., Israel, Canada, Spain, Belgium, England, and Jamaica teaching them how to leverage their knowledge, stories and wisdom to build their business while making a powerful difference.

She holds a master’s degree in Leadership and Communications from Marylhurst University that includes a full year of research into how to be powerfully influential as a nonfiction author. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling, scuba diving, cross stitch, hiking, painting, wood carving and the company of good friends.


~Reach more people, make more money and make a powerful difference in the lives of readers.~

Based on original research, this ground-breaking book challenges the age-old “wisdom” of the publishing industry. By blending over 60 years of influence research from the business and leadership field with nonfiction authorship, this little book doesn’t just teach writing skills, it provides a fundamental paradigm shift for authors that takes their books to a whole new level.

Experts and thought leaders will discover:  What influence really is, why it matters, and how they can leverage it as an author; what the fundamental building blocks are to develop more powerful content far more easily, how the power of intentions guide content development to meet – or even exceed – goals and expectations, what really drives readers to take action in their lives, the biggest mistakes a new author can make, and much more!

Excerpt

You’re likely saying to yourself, “Influence is great, but will I make any money?” After all, you have a business to run, a family to support, and a life to live, right? Writing a book sounds like a nice hobby, but if it doesn’t serve a greater purpose or support achieving an even bigger goal, it’s likely not going to get done. There will always be something more important, more pressing, or more bottom-line oriented to work on first.
Plus, you’ve likely heard that selling books really doesn’t make the author any money. Whether you’re taking the traditional publishing route or self-publishing, selling a relatively low priced item and receiving only a fraction of the proceeds doesn’t sound like something that will be worth the time, effort and long-term commitment.
Until you consider the facts.
In a 2006 study done by RainToday, a market research firm, researchers discovered that, after direct referrals, buyers find service providers in the following ways:

69% by attending a conference or presentation

69% using someone they already know

62% from a website article or story

60% from a magazine article or story

And 43% from a book

Based on these numbers you may be thinking that writing a book is the lowest priority in your marketing plan, while creating conferences, speaking and networking should be top of the list.
But, combine the above information with the following statistics, also from the same RainToday study.
By publishing even just one book:

96% of nonfiction authors generated more clients

95% of nonfiction authors generated more speaking gigs (the best place to find clients according to the above information)

94% of nonfiction authors saw brand improvement

94% of nonfiction authors generated more leads

87% of nonfiction authors were able to charge higher fees (now there’s a bottom-line benefit!)

87% of nonfiction authors were able to increase the QUALITY of their clients (more fun too!)

76% of nonfiction authors were able to close more deals (as in partnerships and business opportunities that are not clients per se)

Authors from this study were professionals from a wide variety of industries. They were experts and thought leaders just like you who wrote about a wide variety of topics, including business, self-help, motivational and more.
Now, put the two sets of statistics together and you’ll discover that if you want to build your business as an expert or thought leader, the best way to do that is through public speaking. And, the best way to get speaking gigs that put you in front of clients, is by writing a book.
So, if you’re going to write a book that positions you as an expert or thought leader with the intention of building your business and making a difference in others’ lives, why would you not ensure that you’re creating the highest degree of influence that you possibly can along the way?
As an author, you can create a very high degree of influence – influence that touches hearts and moves mountains – to make a difference in others’ lives. The more hearts you change, the more books you’ll sell too – and the more opportunities you’ll have to reach even more hearts.
It’s a beautiful upward spiral in which everyone wins. What more could you ask for?

Links

Where to find Lori Anne Rising online
Twitter:  @LoriAnneRising 
Where to find LEVERAGE:
NOTE:  LEVERAGE is currently FREE on all sites listed.
Kobo  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What the Protagonist Wants by Joyce T. Strand, Author



Joyce T. Strand, Author
THE REPORTER'S STORY
As an author of mysteries, I strive to drive the plot from multiple perspectives--the puzzle itself, the protagonist, the villain, and the background. However, in my latest mystery, THE REPORTER'S STORY, the protagonist, Emma Matheson, truly overrides the story, although San Franciso in 1912 provides some intriguing villains. 

In the following article, I explore the theory that the plot is all about what the protagonist wants.










What the Protagonist Wants
By
Joyce T. Strand, Author

“The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always, 'What does the protagonist want?' That's what drama is. It comes down to that. It's not about theme, it's not about ideas, it's not about setting, but what the protagonist wants.” -David Mamet

When writing a mystery, what comes first: the puzzle, the protagonist, or the setting?  Is it, as Mamet suggests, all about what the protagonist wants?

In all seven mysteries I’ve published I’ve always started with the protagonist. In the first three mysteries, Jillian Hillcrest’s position as a public relations executive drove the selection of the crimes for her to solve. Brynn Bancroft’s somewhat promiscuous personality determined much of the plot for her two contemporary mysteries. The judge’s case history and his values determined the type of mystery and characters involved with him in 1939 Ventura, Calif.

But out of all seven books, the personality and goals of Emma Matheson in The Reporter’s Story truly drove the plot and the mystery. 

Before plotting the story, I developed Emma. I searched for an early 20th century female reporter who had written and published front-page stories for major west coast newspapers. I was fortunate to uncover Marjorie C. Driscoll, who started as a reporter in San Francisco for William Randolph Hearst and eventually moved to the Los Angeles Times as a respected front-page contributor. To create Emma, I used an article written by Driscoll, a graduate of Stanford University in 1913, which she published in The Stanford Illustrated Review in 1920, titled "In the Newspaper Field." I drew from it my protagonist's values and her reporter's approach.

For the sake of intrigue and mystery, I set the story in 1912 San Francisco. The infamous tongs and the city’s reputation for the unruly days of the Barbary Coast that accompanied the Gold Rush made for an adventurous backdrop.

More important, it was a time when female reporters were not necessarily revered or tolerated, although Hearst and Pulitzer were starting to use them more and more. But to be successful, a female had to first overcome the bias against her gender and then work to write a story.

We learn early on that Emma has accepted this challenge and has no intention of allowing her gender to slow her down.

A less determined reporter would not have insisted on covering house burglaries and might have been satisfied to cover the stories assigned to her as part of the woman’s section. A less experienced reporter would not have been as successful. She makes choices and never backs off. This determination leads her to some difficult situations and doubtful choices, but it does move her toward her goal—and the plot to its conclusion.

By adapting the approach and skills of the real-life Driscoll, my protagonist works her way through a series of events involving shady characters, the infamous San Francisco tongs, and an environment in transition from intolerance of female reporters to selected use of them at a time when women’s suffrage was reaching its apogee. 

And, as Mamet says, the story is all about what the protagonist wants. In The Reporter’s Story it’s all about what Emma Matheson wants—to become a world-class reporter no matter what it takes.

About Joyce T. Strand

Joyce T. Strand is the author of who-done-it contemporary and historical mysteries set in California. All of her published seven novels are inspired by actual events and/or real people, although they are definitely fictionalized.

Her first three contemporary mysteries feature protagonist Jillian Hillcrest, a public relations executive who encounters murder and mayhem at her Silicon Valley company. Jillian’s boss, Brynn Bancroft, solves the next two mysteries when she leaves her position as Chief Financial Officer to run a winery in Sonoma, north of San Francisco.

In Strand’s first historical mystery, a Superior Court Judge strives to discover the truth behind the mystery of a robbery-murder in a small California town in 1939. In her newest mystery, THE REPORTER’S STORY, a house burglary in 1912 San Francisco piques a young reporter’s instincts that leads to intrigue and murder.

Strand headed corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in California's Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. Strand lives with her collection of cow statuary in Southern California, and enjoys exploring and writing about the growing wine region in the Ramona Valley near San Diego. 


A house burglary in 1912 San Francisco that the victim denies happening piques Emma Matheson’s reporter instincts. Why would a businessman deny that recovered loot was his and forego collecting his $8,000 worth of stolen jewelry? Why did he fire his maid and butler who originally reported the theft? The more she pursues the burglary that wasn’t a burglary, the more she sees it as a major story, involving murder, intrigue, and smuggling. Can she solve it and write the story that could project her to become the world-famous reporter she so covets? Or will she become one of its victims?


Links
Purchase Links

THE REPORTER'S STORY 

Amazon -- paperback and Kindle
Unicorn Books and Gifts - signed paperback 

Other books available in e-book and book format at:
Amazon
Unicorn Books and Gifts - signed paperbacks

For Nook at:

Author Links

Twitter:  @joycetstrand




Tuesday, August 30, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: McKenna Grey & Everly Archard, Authors


McKenna Grey, Co-Author
THE DRAGON'S STAIRCASE
Everly Archard, Co-Author
THE DRAGON'S STAIRCASE
Just-released, THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE is a romantic suspense novel by award-winning authors McKenna Grey (pseudonym for historical romance and mystery author MK McClintock) and Everly Archard (pseudonym  for paranormal and fantasy romance author D.D. Piers). It is the first of their Kyndall Family Thrillers. Reviewers say it’s a “heart-stopping non-stop, thrilling suspense….with a romantic touch!”

The two authors found that “the collaboration was a lot of fun” and are currently working together on  the next Kyndall Family Thriller, Shadow of the Forgotten. Both authors are avid readers—when they can take a break from writing. McKenna likes the outdoors and also enjoys baking. Everly  loves to garden and take photos. 

Don't miss the except following the interview.

Q: You have described THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE as contemporary romantic suspense and reviewers say, “The suspense level is amazing.” What makes the novel suspenseful?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: I believe it’s the build-up and intensity emanating from the characters and the events in their lives. We really wanted to take the reader on a roller-coaster ride. No matter how detailed the outline or notes, we didn’t restrain the characters, even the “bad guys,” and we ended up surprising ourselves a few times along the way.

Q: What are the characteristics of a compelling romance? How do you build the romantic relationships? Do your characters love each other at first sight? Do opposites attract? Does the suspense increase the romantic interest? Or vice versa?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: Romance should feel natural, as though two people have no choice but to acknowledge that they’re better together than apart. In this story, the characters’ passion is heightened by the intense situations in which they find themselves. There isn’t a chance to begin as friends and build up. However, they build upon trust, the need they both have to believe in each other and trust themselves.

I definitely think opposites can attract, but I also believe that a relationship has a much stronger chance when there’s a common ground, an accepted belief system about life in general, that they both share.

The suspense plays a major role in the romantic interest, but only in the beginning. They may be thrust together because of circumstances, but what happens afterward is all about two people finding their way to each other.

Q: One of your reviewers appreciates the “well-developed characters.” How do your characters connect to your readers? Why will readers care what happens to them?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: I love when someone comments on the characters because they’re always my favorite part of writing. I enjoy spectacular scenery well-described, but it all comes down to the people in the story. Alexa and Craig, I believe, are relatable. They have strengths, weaknesses, they experience fear, loss, passion, love, hate—they’re human, and they matter. What happens to them matters because on some level, most people have felt the same emotions, and they want their own happily ever after . . . or as close to it as possible.

Q: Does the concept of “hero vs villain” apply to THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE? What makes an effective villain?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: Definitely. Except in this case we really have more than one hero. Both Alexa and Craig bring their own set of strengths to the mix, and both have to use those strengths in order to defeat both their metaphoric and real-life villains.

An effective villain, I believe, is one who is somewhat average. If you strip away whatever makes them “evil,” you’re left with an oftentimes pathetic human being who couldn’t find a way to live a better life. Perhaps they’re intelligent, but misdirected their smarts down a dark path. Something in them chose to become who they are, and I believe no matter what their reasons, something is behind why they do what they do. It doesn’t make it right, but it makes them less than the hero, less than a person worthy of a happy ending.

Q: Did you write THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE strictly to entertain your readers? Or did you embed a few messages along the way?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: I believe any story can contain a few hidden messages, whether the writer realizes what they’ve done or not. In truth, I’m not sure either of us really thought about an underlying message, but you have me thinking now! Really, it’s ultimately about having confidence in yourself and believing that no matter how difficult, how challenging life can become, there’s always a way out, and there’s always someone to help. We don’t have to stand on our own; it’s okay to lean on a friend, a lover, or a stranger if that’s what it takes . . . And we wrote it to entertain our readers.

Q: Do you use your setting to either enhance your plot or add to your characters? 

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: I’ve always thought of settings as characters. The setting plays a part, albeit in the background. The area of North Carolina where most of the story is set, is beautiful. The vibrant colors of autumn and the lush forests covering the Blue Ridge Mountains can be quite breathtaking. Contrast that with murder and mayhem, and you bet, the setting plays a definite role.

Q: How helpful is humor to create your characters?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: A bit of levity is always appreciated in a story, but when you have a suspense or thriller, a touch of humor here and there is necessary if for no other reason than to give both the characters and the readers a break from the intensity.

Q: Given that you are two authors, how do you divide the tasks of writing? Do you brainstorm the plot? Is one of you responsible for creating a character? Do you assign tasks before you start?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: We certainly share in the creative process. I (McKenna) had developed the plot and characters for the first book and the series long before I met my co-author or even wrote a book, so I took point on the first outline. However, Everly also added her thoughts and notes to the outline, so by the time we started to write, it was two minds as one sort of scenario. For the other books in the series, we’ve both shared in the brainstorming for the plots and outlines.

We don’t assign tasks, but we do assign chapters. We work off of one manuscript and each take three chapters from the outline, moving in chronological order. When we pass off the updated manuscript, the other person will read through our chapters, offer notes, and then write their three chapters. We go back and forth until the book is complete. It just worked out to be a great way for us to collaborate, and to each have an equal voice in the story.

Q: What’s next for both of you? Will you write another in the Kyndall Family Thrillers?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: Absolutely! We’re already 1/3 the way through the second book, Shadow of the Forgotten, and it’s coming along great. There will be two more Kyndall thrillers in the series. After that . . . well, we’ve discovered this is such a fun process, we’ve planned more series and we’re currently developing those storylines. I’m certain we’ll each write our own books under these pen names (we both write under other names as well), but for now, the collaboration is a lot of fun.

Q: What do you both like to do when you’re not writing?

McKenna Grey: When I’m not writing . . . doesn’t happen often these days! Reading is a given; I’m never without a new book. I love spending time outdoors, whether it’s hiking, walking my pup and taking photographs, or gardening. I like to sit on a rock by the river and read a book, or walk along the lake and watch the sunset. I also love to spend time in the kitchen. Baking and cooking relax me.

Everly Archard: I love, and I mean LOVE, to read. So if I'm not in the middle of a good book, I'll be searching for something new to read.  I also love to garden or practice amateur photography. If I'm in the mood to stay indoors and burn brain cells, I indulge in my favorite guilty pleasure, Bravo TV.

About McKenna Grey

McKenna Grey is the contemporary alter-ego of award-winning historical romance and mystery author MK McClintock. Never one to limit her imagination or ignore possibilities, she decided to venture into the realm of contemporary romantic suspense and thrillers.

About Everly Archard

Everly Archard is the pseudonym of award-winning paranormal and fantasy romance author D.D. Miers. Her passion for romance with an edge led her to explore the world of romantic suspense.


From two award-winning authors comes the first riveting novel in the Kyndall Family Thrillers, a contemporary romantic suspense series filled with spine-tingling thrills and alluring romance.

A woman haunted by her past.

FBI Agent Alexa Kyndall devoted eight years of her life to the search for justice, showing no mercy to the guilty and depraved. When she joins a special task force to bring down a serial killer, Alexa encounters the most unexpected criminal of her career.

A man willing to do whatever it takes to save her.

When a child witnesses a brutal slaying, Alexa’s life becomes intertwined with Craig Pierson’s, a man with his own haunted past. They join forces, only to discover they must put everything on the line in a pulse-pounding struggle to protect and survive.

A killer closing in.

Nestled in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, The Dragon’s Staircase is an intriguing, nonstop adventure that will keep readers enthralled from start to finish.


“Oh, shut up.”
The alarm beeped until she punched in the code. Alexa dropped her keys into the wooden bowl on the stand by the front door, dropped her handbag over a coat rack peg, and leaned against the closed door until she heard the click. She had seen in Craig’s eyes what must surely have been reflected in her own. The wanting, the need, and the impossibility of any kind of liaison between them. She was a wasted effort in the relationship department, and the sooner they both figured that out the less chance of heartache later.
She noticed the cold for the first time since entering, and this time the shiver through her body wasn’t from Craig. She pulled the pistol she’d slipped into her handbag back at Craig’s house. Jordan would still be out on the wilderness journey, or “trek” as they called them in their family. Why then did she not feel alone in the spacious house set back in the woods and away from anyone who could hear her scream?
“Get a grip, Alexa.” She walked through the lower level, checking every window and door, and did the same upstairs. The coldest of the air emanated from her bedroom and it was in the doorway she stood and surveyed the dark room. Everything was as she left it, except for the envelope propped against her mother’s old jewelry box on the dresser.
Her finger lay loose and ready near the trigger as she walked across the room, moonlight guiding her way. Alexa. The script on the front of the envelope appeared all too familiar and Alexa knew the nightmare had returned, but this time he was real.

Links

Purchase Links
Authors’ Links
McKenna Grey Website 
Everly Archard Website