Two questions with… Ken Schrader

Today is the last instalment of our “Two questions with…” blog tour. I’m so thrilled to be hosting Ken as he shares a little more about his writing.

Take it away, Ken.


Thank you, Anne, for hosting me on your blog today as part of our “Two questions with…” series.

For those of you that don’t know, my name is Ken Schrader. I write Science Fiction, Fantasy, Weird Westerns (though, not necessarily in that order).

And here are my Two Questions…


Question 1. What attracted you to your genre(s)?

The first book that I can remember reading was “Sir MacHinery” by Tom McGowan. This is the book that made me a reader. It was the first book to make me forget that I was reading a book at all. The pages went away, and I was filled with a sense of wonder at what I was seeing in my mind.


There were other books, to be sure. Tolkien, The Dragonlance Chronicles, The Iron Tower Trilogy, but I’ve always had a spot in my heart for MacHinery. Arguably, one of the first urban fantasy books out there, I think that the reason why the book struck me the way it did was because it was steeped in a world that I recognized, but was, somehow, more. In its pages, indeed on the very cover, science and magic walked side by side, and I was convinced that, if I only looked in the right place at the right time, I would discover that it was all real. That’s what draws me to fantasy


Then came Star Wars. First the movie, and then the novelisation, turned my attentions from this world, to other worlds far, far, away. Interestingly enough, the famous opening line “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” also brought to mind the world that I recognized.


I would stand in my back yard or – as I do to this very day – my front porch, looking up at the night sky and wonder what was going on far, far away. If, a long time ago, they had star fighters and light sabers, I wondered, what do they have now? What epic struggles were taking place out there, while the rest of my world went on about its business, oblivious.


I had to know. And, realistically, the only way I could find out was to answer those questions myself.


Question 2. What is one thing that you’ve done for research that you’ve struggled to explain to a non-writer?

This is a great question, and situations like this, where I’m doing something for the WIP (Work in Progress) that cause non-writerly folk to raise an eyebrow, or take a few steps away, happen more often than you think.


The most recent example involves me and a bottle of brandy.


I’m currently working on a Space Opera, set “Far, far, away,” where there aren’t many current world analogues. So I’m trying to describe, using the senses (This is a good thing. Smell, taste, touch, all of that. Use it when you can) what would, essentially, be very close to a glass of brandy.


Brandy is like chocolate in that it is very difficult to describe what chocolate smells, or tastes like without using the word “Chocolate” in the description.


So there I was, at 7:30 in the morning (I get up to write pretty early, usually before the rest of the house wakes up), standing in the kitchen, with my nose stuck in a bottle of brandy – notepad and pen close at hand – inhaling over and over, and jotting down my interpretations of the smells.


Then my wife comes out of the bedroom. She takes one look at me, with the open bottle of alcohol in one hand, and a ballpoint pen in the other.


“Do I really want to know?” She asks.


I stop to consider this answer, very carefully.


“Probably not,” I say.


She nods, and returns to the bedroom.


Ken Head shot and profile pic

I am a science fiction and fantasy writer, a shameless Geek, a fan of the Oxford comma, and I make housing decisions based upon the space available for bookshelves. I collect books, movies, and music.

I sing out loud when I think there’s no one around, and I try to get a blog post up once a week – One of which I have done consistently for the last few years.

I love music of all kinds, books, the big sky off my front porch, Star Wars, Firefly, Blind Guardian (to which, I write almost exclusively), Rugby, star gazing, jasmine tea, and the smell of rain on the air.

My favorite flavor of ice cream is chocolate. My favorite food is a grilled steak, and I can suspend disbelief embarrassingly quickly.

I live in Michigan, am co-owned by several dogs (especially the Border Collie), and I am one of the rare breed of folk that enjoys mowing the lawn.

I am represented by Dorian Maffei of Kimberley Cameron & Associates (

Twitter: @kenschrader4882

I’m on Facebook at but usually only on the weekends, and not for very long at that.


Check out Ken’s short story, THE INTERN, in the CHASING THE LIGHT anthology.

Chasing the light



And be sure to stop by the rest of our “Two questions with…” blog tour, hosted on the below blogs!

Ken Schrader

Janet Walden-West

Pat Esden

Two questions with… Janet Walden-West


I’m especially excited to host my wonderful critique partner, Janet Walden-West, on my blog today in the second instalment of our “Two questions with…” blog tour.

Right, while Janet’s distracted pouring another round of coffee, I’m stealing that last slice of cheesecake…



Thank you for inviting me to drop by for bottomless cups of coffee, cheesecake, and a chat. Now that the cheesecake is gone, let’s jump in.


  1. Why do you write?

I always joke that it’s to get the voices in my head to shut up. But that flip answer really is kinda true on one level.


My stories tend to slam into being as 3D, surround-sound, hi-def scenes. Vivid and difficult to ignore. Those images spark something, and next thing I know, I’m losing sleep and adding to the original scenes. Daydreaming at work about what my characters can get into next. When you have an addictive personality, well… The obsession to see where those scenes go is real.


I’ve learned not to ignore those bursts of imagination. So for me, the best way to deal with that creative impulse is to get the story on paper. I empty my head out and get to create new worlds.

Oh, and finally get some sleep!


  1. Do you see any issues in your genre and how are you addressing them?

I’d love to paint a hearts and rainbows picture, but reality and all.


One issue that crosses genres is representation. What stories get told, and who tells them. On the plus side, I think publishing is having a moment. It’s examining the fact that it isn’t diverse and that it is a top-down problem, from publishers to editors to agents to writers. That lack of diversity and representation is robbing readers of so many new, gorgeous stories and experiences.


My best practices for myself is to think about what I’m writing and why. About whether someone else can do it more authentically if given the chance, and to take every opportunity to signal-boost marginalized writers instead.


My bookshelf is far richer for it.



Janet MeCC

Janet Walden-West lives in the southeast with a pack of show dogs, a couple of kids, and a husband who didn’t read the fine print. She has an unseemly obsession with dusty artifacts, great cars, and bad coffee. A founding member of the East Tennessee Creative Writers Alliance and The Million Words craft blog, she is also a member of Romance Writers of America member. She pens Urban Fantasy that escapes the neat confines of the city limits in favor of map-dot hillbilly towns, and inclusive Romantic Suspense and Contemporary Romance. A #PitchWars alum, her first short story, Road Trip, is included in the Chasing the Light anthology.

Find Me At:


Twitter: @JanetWaldenWest

Instagram: janetwaldenwest


Read on for an excerpt of Janet’s short story, Road Trip, in the Chasing the Light anthology.

Once upon a time, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Faith Hunter and award-winning authors David B. Coe and John G. Hartness agreed to mentor a group of rising authors—the Roaring Writers. Chasing the Light—with tales across the spectrum of science fiction and fantasy—is their celebration of success.

It is also a tribute honoring Melanie Otto (AKA Melanie Griffin), one of the founding authors, who died unexpectedly in 2016. Melanie critiqued many of these stories at the Roaring Writers’ annual writing retreats, and the authors will never forget Melanie’s sparkling eyes and delighted laugh as she found passages she loved in each. With this collection, including stories by Melanie, the Roaring Writers share her light with readers everywhere.

Thanks to the generosity of their mentors and contributors, all profits from the sales of this anthology will be donated to help Melanie’s lifelong partner defray medical and legal costs.



Chasing the light


Road Trip

Janet Walden-West


Chapter One

I kicked the bejesus out of my tire, wishing the rubber was something more flesh and blood to vent my irritability on. I had missing campers, a possible will’o’wisp to blame, and no backup.

And my last temporary-partner possibility had just called from the hospital, beat to hell by a poltergeist, with a “Sorry, Samantha, I’m out.” Although she’d taken the initiative, sending me a replacement.

Hard to say which pissed me off more—not having help or getting set up like that one friend who can never find a date on her own.

I paced around the truck, swatting gnats and no-see-ums. The tail end of September, and Tennessee hadn’t gotten the memo it was pumpkin spice and cozy sweater time.

The minutes ticked by, dread climbing up my spine and raising the hairs on my neck, like a late-season tick crawling up my leg. Two separate, experienced hikers had disappeared in southeast Georgia over the last week. The only survivor of the latest disappearance swore his missing friend babbled about lights in the forest before they bedded down for the night. The next morning—no friend.

A sweep with Search and Rescue dogs, and the forest service hadn’t turned up a trace or a body, same as the first disappearance. With Fall Break approaching and leaves coloring up, people would turn out for day hikes on those trails, or weekend camping trips.

Boozy, happy, oblivious prey.

And I was standing around useless, waiting on some asshole hunter with time management issues.

I whirled for another go at my innocent tire. A gleaming gold and white SUV wheeled in, gravel spitting, taking the turn to the deer camp too fast.

The Escalade settled in a cloud of gray dust and pinging rock.

My irritation turned darker. I shook my arms out, shaking away tension and loosening muscles. Popping the knives from each forearm sheath, the hilts hitting my palms but hidden under my sleeves.

My supposed backup took her time, flipping the visor to check her lip-gloss. She finally popped out and surveyed me, a critical sweep from head to toe.

We’d never met, but I knew all about her. Hard not to. Not many creatures dared hobnob with human hunters.

Like she read my mind, this one smiled, showing unusually square, perfectly white teeth. “Well, as I live and breathe. It is the infamous Sam Vasquez. I thought Andi was pulling one of my legs.”

The Kelpie might not be living and breathing long.

“And what are you going by these days?” Not that I expected her true name.

“Rachel Alexandra.”

If you were going to use the moniker of famous female racehorses as your alias, why not go with the best?

“Go away, Rachel Alexandra.”

“Fact—you needed a second. Fact—I owed Andi a favor. Fact—here I am.” She checked the cuff of her suede blazer, tugging it straighter.

“Fact—I don’t know you, I don’t want to know you, I don’t trust you. Bye.”

Big liquid-brown eyes narrowed. “Fact—monsters never put their killing sprees on hold until your preferred backup gets her casts off. This creature isn’t going to hold off snatching tourists because you’re a snippy bigot.”

True, but I wasn’t hunting one supernatural with another breathing down my neck. Especially this one. “There are no swim-up bars or suites at the Bellagio for you to crash in where I’m going. You aren’t qualified to help.”

She smiled, slow and ugly. “I was a predator before your grandparents were born. I’m also difficult to kill. Say what you mean—you won’t deign to hunt with me because I’m not human.” She crossed her arms and stared me down. “And you’ll sacrifice innocent lives for your bigotry.”

I swore, fingers closing over the knife hilts until my knuckles creaked. I doubted her generosity came from giving a damn about human lives as much as it did the burning need to discharge whatever obligation she’d bound herself to.

My obligation was to oblivious people out for a weekend of fun and fresh air.

But she wasn’t wrong. I chewed on the inside of my cheek and rolled the idea around, poking for weak spots. Andi had been my last resort, and Kelpies probably had little to fear from wisps. The incorporeal elementals used compulsion to mesmerize the unwary and lead them away. Kelpies shared a similar form of psychic suggestion. Maybe they were immune.

“I hope you’ve got something you can actually hike in.” I eyed her Prada flats.

 The Kelpie would make an acceptable stalking horse for this job. I just had to survive working with a creature who won human trust, then carried them to a watery death.


If you want to read more, pick up a paperback or e-book copy here.


You can also follow our tour to learn about Melanie’s influence and see excerpts from the other stories in our anthology.



Two questions with… Pat Esden

Dear readers,

I’m so excited to be hosting Pat Esden on my blog today for our “Two questions with…” blog tour!

Take it away, Pat…


Hi everyone—and a huge thank you to Anne for inviting me to be here today. My name is Pat Esden. I’m the author of the Dark Heart series and the Northern Circle Coven series. My novels are contemporary paranormal for adults with a touch of darkness and strong romantic elements.


  1. Why do you write?

Publishing can be a very stressful industry. But when I’m in the zone writing and lost in my stories, it’s quite the opposite. It’s energizing and a more immersive form of stress relief than watching TV or reading. It’s a way to pretend I’m someone else and get lost in as wild of adventure as I can dream up. Perhaps most of all, I can write stories I would like to read with endings of my making.


  1. What is the hardest part about writing?

The hardest part for me (other than the first draft) is when I reach the point in revision where my instincts tell me something isn’t working quite right, but I can’t put my finger on it. Usually my instincts give me a general message like—something is off in the last quarter of this book or something about this character isn’t ringing true. Luckily, honest critique partners are the remedy for this. Sometimes it’s a larger issue, but more often it’s a small detail that needs adjusting.




HIS DARK MAGIC (Northern Circle Coven series book 1)

 HDM coming dec 11 copy

 Its power is legendary. It can fulfill every impossible magical desire. But for one young witch seeking redemption, the Northern Circle coven will challenge her skills—and her heart—beyond measure.   One tragic impulsive mistake made Chloe Winslow an outcast to her influential magic family. As a medical student, she wants to combine science with sorcery to heal those she hurt and right her wrongs. But brilliant, charismatic Devlin Marsh re-routes her plans with a once-in-eternity offer: membership in the exclusive Northern Circle, a mysterious Vermont coven known for pushing the limits.   Enthralled by Devlin and their mesmerizing mutual attraction, Chloe makes a dangerous sacrifice to help the Circle’s high priestess awaken Merlin himself—and learn his timeless cures. But a foreshadowing soon causes Chloe to doubt the Circle’s real motives, as well as Devlin’s . . .   Now Merlin’s demonic shade is loose in the human world, while Chloe and Devlin’s uneasy alliance will pit them against ancient enemies, malevolent illusions, and shattering betrayal. And with the fate of two realms in the balance, Chloe must risk her untried power against a force she can’t defeat—and a passion that could destroy her.





Pat Esden Headshot copy

Pat Esden would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts.

She is the author of the contemporary paranormal Dark Heart series from Kensington Books, and the upcoming Northern Circle Coven series. Her short fiction has appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle, George Scither’s Cat Tales Anthology, and the Fragments of Darkness anthology.


3 books plus ocean copy 2


And pop by my blog next Monday, 18 June, for Two questions with… Janet Walden-West!


Two questions with… Blog Tour

Starting Monday, 11 June, I’ll be participating in a blog tour with three other wonderful authors. Each week, we’ll be answering two questions in a mini interview, hosted on our respective blogs.


I’m so excited to be hosting the following authors on these dates:


11 June – Pat Esden

18 June – Janet Walden-West

25 June – Ken Schrader


So, stayed tuned, and keep an eye on the tour for all the interviews!