I talked about Life in Slake Patch and it’s long history from initial draft through multiple revisions to it’s final publishing date and the redesign of the front cover. We discussed my writing journey and how I create my stories.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comment section here. I’m always happy to connect and chat.
While I have admittedly never READ a mafia romance, I am obsessed with the history and lore behind several of the world’s successful crime organizations. Chicago alone has a long history with the mafia but all over the world different variations of organized crime have, while somewhat controversial, still been a vital part of society. They are always protrayed as a villian, a heartless and honorless beast that must be fed…but I never saw them that way. I always thought for these families to exist and maintain power as long as they have, they MUST have had their internal codes of honor, trust, and sense of community that knit everyone together, and so I decided to write that.
Additionally, what mafia romances I have watched on the silver screen seem to stick to the same three motifs: Either the female MC was kidnapped, or she witnessed something she wasn’t supposed to, or she was forced into an arranged marriage.
I wanted to do something different, so I had my story originate from the unintentional collision of two worlds: Jaxon’s world of the underground, and Natalie’s of what we view as “normal society.”
2. Did youknow it would be part of a series when you started writing it?
Yes! I have plans for 16 books in this series!
3. Which character really propelled the narrative for you?
Jaxon. He is flawed but protective, dangerous but compassionate. I love Natalie, but she’s more who I aspire to be, less of who I identify with now. Haha!
4. What draws you to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing?
The complexity and his drive to make his readers think-while still delivering a satisfying yet surprising ending!
5. Have you formulated your narratives as homage to his style?
Absolutely. I agree with him that great and relatable stories are often pulled from human experience. As he once said:
“Life is infinitely stranger than anything the mind of man could invent.”
6. Where do you typically write?
While I love my office at home, the world is my office and I am constantly writing all day long on my phone. I have thumb muscles of steel!
7. Are you a member of a writing group?
Not officially, but I do have a little community of writers that have come together as fans of “Heart of the Inferno” and we have created a Discord. They are the most incredible ladies, who support and inspire me DAILY.
8. What do you enjoy most about writing?
It is truly relaxing for me. It allows me to be creative without the messiness and chaos that typical creative processes take, something my type-A personality appreciates.
9. Where can readers find you and your books?
Amazon and Kindle
10. Do you have more writing projects in the works?
Oh yes! Book three, the conclusion of THIS part of the story with Jaxon and Natalie, drops at the end of May 2022. However, as I mentioned there are 13 more books planned, featuring side characters in HOTI as the main characters (and don’t worry, Jaxon and Natalie will continue as side characters too!)
Big plans indeed!
Nicole’s debut novel, Catalyst, is the first incendiary installment of the Heart of the Inferno Series, which follows the story of a dangerous mafia don and the girl who became his only exception
Nicole is an author, copywriter, wife and super proud dog mom to three rambunctious rescue dogs. And is also an old school romantic, with a proclivity for a little mischief, and an obsession with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With a background in marketing, and Human Resources, she has often found that the human element is by far the most colorful, complex and most interesting in the world. As a child, Nicole devoured every book she could get my hands on, and spent her free time writing fictional short-stories to share with her friends, probably the reason she decided to write (and publish) her first book series: Heart of the Inferno. It’s an action-romance about a dangerous mafia lord named Jaxon Pace, and Natalie Tyler, the girl who became his only exception.
At the start of each year, some of us decide on goals for the year. These range from the most common ones, such as weight loss, fitness, and stopping smoking, the ‘healthy ones’ in other words. But, what of the other goals, the practical ones, so to speak? For authors this would be improving our brand, more sales, promotional opportunities, presentations or speaking engagements and more. As writers, we want to increase our word count, the number of projects completed, or receiving publicity or publishing deals.
Obviously, many of these goals go by the wayside pretty quickly, while others make it to mid-year, or possibly later. The question that arises is – why make goals in the first place? Are we swept along with the possibilities of a fresh start? Do we think we can achieve them, and stay committed to our self-inflicted goals? The excitement of a whole new year ahead of us is a powerful momentum for change. I think that is the key to our initial thinking, when it comes to annual goal making.
As we all know that momentum gets harder to maintain as the months roll by. We get off-track.
There are time constraints, health issues, family matters, work events, vacations, seasonal holidays – the list goes on. Each scenario affects how we feel, our ‘free’ time, and what we are able to accomplish. There is always some ‘distraction’ pulling us away from that initial elation of new year possibilities.
So, what is the answer? This is a difficult question to answer, as we are all experiencing life in a multitude of ways. No one person is the same as another. I think the first step is to be totally honest with yourself, when it comes to setting goals in the first place. Too many goals, too loftier a goal and the ‘good grief’ goals should be shelved before they even get ‘out the box’.
Making a goal is a very personal thing. You need to look at what your time will allow and also your personality trait. Do you have a week to week, or month to month planner or do you hope for the best? Or something in-between? Having too many goals sets you up for failure and that isn’t good for anyone. Remember we don’t have to do ALL the goals in one year – pace yourself. Put the most ‘important’ one first, then plan accordingly and stick to it. Put less pressure on yourself and accomplish one or two instead.
You can even make a ‘goal’ under the umbrella of a wider spectrum, such as ‘improvement’, whether for your health or for your writing career. Many of you saw my 2021 goal board link – it is the best board I have made in many years and I don’t think I will be changing it very much for 2022. I have goals I want to reach in the next few years and the board reflects that for me.
Realistically, a goal can take longer than a year. Accept that and work towards it at your own pace. Time constraints and deadlines are not applicable here. We all ‘work’ at different paces, make that work for you.
What spurred you into writing stories in the first place?
I was always a big reader, which was red flag number one. Aside from reading though, I had always been writerly, I just didn’t know it would eventually manifest into fiction novels. I am one of those people with an overactive brain, plus I am a talker. So those two things combined are very conducive to be being a writer.
Can you tell us about the very first story you wrote?
When I think of my very first stories, I think back to things I wrote when I was in grade school and high school. I had an amazing honors English teacher in high school who was always challenging us in our creative writing. I wrote a lot of bad poems and decent short stories during that time. Then I wrote a lot of plays and screenplays in my twenties. However, my first proper novel was a quirky mystery book written when I went home for the holidays one year. I did a self-imposed NaNoWriMo, which meant sitting down on my parent’s back porch every day for a month and forcing out 50,000 words without going back to edit or second guess anything. I still haven’t published that book, but I think one day I will. Every few years I pull it out and work on it, then realize that I have other books that need to get done so it gets re-shelved for another day.
Why did you pick contemporary romance fiction as your genre?
It was originally because my mother-in-law was an avid romance reader. She tends to read a lot of authors like Debbie Macomber, so I set out to write books that she would enjoy. We’ve always had a lot of fun talking about plots and story ideas, and she has always been my go-to person when deciding on romance book covers. Along the way, I realized how much I enjoyed showing that even though life can have its ups and downs, “happily ever afters” are still possible.
Why you decide to write series rather than stand-a-lone novels?
Well, a lot of it has to do with the business end. It simply makes more sense to write in a series than unrelated stand-alones. Though I usually write standalone books within my series, meaning you don’t have to read them in order. However, as a reader myself, I am a total glutton for a series. I get roped in so easily, and once I get to know the characters or the town, I want to spend time there. I think a lot of other people feel the same way, so there is something natural about writing a series.
What in particular interests you about this genre?
I really like the reminder that ordinary people can have extraordinary lives, they can find love that lights them up, and can navigate through all the quirks and sometimes disasters of every day life. In spite of all the hurdles that life throws at us, we persevere, and eventually we prevail. I love that in the romance genre we strive to show the goodness in the world. We all need our hearts warmed a little more often, to laugh a lot more often, and to be shown that there are good and beautiful things for us out there in this big, old world.
What influences your choice of a location for each series?
I think I get my travel obsession catered to when I choose story locations. So far I have picked a lot of coastal locations, in addition to a number of locations that hold great appeal to me. Even though I usually create a fictional town, I try to set my books in places that I want to visit, or that I have spent time in and loved.
When writing a series – what comes first the characters, the location or an overall concept?
It is usually a combination. I usually start with a general story idea, which gives me the vague notion of the main character. Then I spent too much time thinking about the location and picking the perfect spot. Once I have the general premise of the location, then I go back in and really start fine-tuning the characters. Which in turn, changes the story in some ways. It’s a never-ending cycle!
Can you tell us a little about the Serenity Falls collection? Where did the idea of five siblings come from?
The first book in the series was actually part of a multi-author collaboration. Some other sweet romance writer friends and I wanted to do a Christmas collection together, however we were a slightly diverse group. Some wrote regency romance, some wrote mail order bride romance, and two of us wrote contemporary romance. So we did a lot of messages back-and-forth and several phone calls until we figured out a way to weave the story lines together where the first stories were set in Regency era England, and then those families came across to America. Then characters from that generation became mail order brides who made their way out west. Finally, the last books were there great-great-grandchildren of the mail order brides (I may be missing an extra great in there, but I can’t remember off the top of my head.) When it came time to come up with the story for my book, I knew that I wanted to write something on a ranch and I love the Rocky Mountains, plus I wanted the option to continue writing in the world if I was inspired to do so later on. That led to my creating my main character, Hannah Wyatt. I gave her a really sweet family with two loving parents and four other siblings, which became the Serenity Falls series. It’s ended up making for a really fun and lovable series with lots of unique love stories.
Who is your favorite author and why?
It’s terrible, but I don’t have favorites in general, and I definitely don’t have favorite authors. But for the sake of answering the question, I really love this author named A.J. Jacobs because I find his books hysterical. He has a book called The Know-It-All that I literally cried laughing while reading. It’s about the time he decided to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z. As you can imagine, this isn’t necessarily a book that would be universally considered high humor, but as a word person, I loved it. I’ve also always enjoyed Carl Hiaasen books. He was one of my first authors that inspired me to want to write novels. Plus, there are a ton of amazing female mystery authors that I’ve read and loved. I also read a lot of non-fiction reference books about any number of subjects that I’m interested in.
How do you juggle life and writing?
Haha, poorly! Just kidding. Though, also not kidding. It is incredibly difficult to balance work and life, and I think that goes for almost everyone, not only authors. There is so much that goes into the business end of being a full-time writer. I am constantly doing my best to triage everything in my day-to-day life. I try to stay organized, but even that comes in bursts. Most days, I have about five hours to work before I leave to get my kids. It is somehow the shortest five hours known to man.
Does traveling prompt your story ideas?
I haven’t done much traveling lately, but yes, traveling is always inspiring to me! Even when I’m not physically traveling, a lot of my story work is me tapping into locations I’ve spent time in, or places that I want to go. One of the great things about being a writer is that I get the excuse of looking up cool places that I want to visit for story “research”.
Where can readers find you and your books?
You can sign up for my newsletter at www.SophieMays.com to keep up with me, and hear about my new releases and deals. Plus, I am on all the usual social platforms, like Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, Bookbub, and Goodreads. I’d love if you come and follow me so I can say hello to you wherever you like to hangout online!
What are you currently writing?
I am working on the spin-off series to Serenity Falls, which follows their Wyatt cousins in the Riverside Ranch series. I am also working on two Romantic Comedy series which I am super excited about!
Do you have a message for your readers?
If you’ve read my books before, thank you! You have made it possible for me to take this improbable dream and make it into my everyday life. For anyone out there reading this who has something in their heart that they wish they were brave enough to do or try, my encouragement is for you to take in a big breath and take the first step toward whatever that goal or intimidating thing is. It is never not worth trying. And I completely, boldly, lovingly support you and believe in you!
The Serenity Falls Complete Series: Sweet Romance at Wyatt Ranch
From her home in Florida, she offsets sandy toes and ocean views with trips to her favorite regions in quaint New England, cozy coastal Maine, the majestic Rocky Mountains, the dramatic Pacific Northwest, the glimmering Caribbean, and the ever-charming South. Sometimes she does this in real life, but she can always steal away to somewhere beautiful in her books.
When she’s not writing, she’s wrangling kids, spending time with her husband, doing laundry, baking cookies, planning dream trips, or attempting to fine-tune her questionable gardening skills. More information can be found at SophieMays.com
• Five unique siblings, five unexpected life changes • Set against a gorgeous small-town mountain backdrop in Colorado, we follow five siblings as they each return home to help start a new family business.
From cowboys to unexpected newcomers, from weddings to high-stakes adventures, you will fall in love with this cozy small town in the Rocky Mountains and become friends with the Wyatt family. Meet Emma, Hannah, Anna-Jane, Carson, and Jake! Five very different personalities, each deserving of their own happily ever after…
Read all the books in the Serenity Falls series together! This Collection includes:
🤍 Wishes from the Heart (Hannah & Rafferty’s Story) 🤍 Art of the Heart (Anna-Jane & Cody’s Story) 🤍 Baking from the Heart (Emma & Gavin’s Story) 🤍 Call of the Wild Heart (Carson & Bella’s Story) 🤍 Detours of the Heart (Jake & Mackenzie’s Story) Brisk mountain air and romance abound at the Wyatt Ranch! From bestselling author Sophie Mays comes this delightfully heartwarming sweet ranch romance series.
Whether you are falling in love alongside a baker, an artist, an ex-Navy Seal, or a world traveler – there’s something for everyone in Serenity Falls.
If you love uplifting, feel-good romance stories with irresistible characters, prepare to get roped into Sophie Mays’ Serenity Falls series!
I’m so excited to share the new cover for my speculative fiction novel, Life in Slake Patch. Isn’t it beautiful? This is how I see Evan and Kate in the story. I love her expression of strength and determination. You can see how much Evan adores her by his gaze. Thanks to Wren Taylor Cover Design and my publisher, Dream Write Publishing for updating the front cover and revising the back cover too.
I was reminded of a book I read in school last week, as the star of the movie, Kes, a close adaptation of the book, turned 68 years old. In the movie he is a young boy! Yep, that was a shock!
I read the book in school and was devastated with how the boy and his pet were treated. It left an everlasting impression. Although, I knew the ending I did go and watch the movie when it came out. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064541/
I asked several friends, which book had an impact on them and several books were named. Watership Down, The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank, and Lord of the Flies. These narratives affected us emotionally and that is why they stay with us many years later. It is something every author hopes to do with their stories.
Do you have a book you read in school that had a profound effect on you?
I was humbled and delighted to receive a wonderful review of The Commodore’s Gift last week, so forgive me for indulging as I share it once more.
Review by thereadera
Sometimes you stumble across a book, and, for whatever reason, your expectations are low. Could be an amazing cover, could be a previous book by the same author you were wholly uninterested in, could be a billion different things that individually are insignificant, but cumulatively . . . You turn up you nose. O, gentle friends . . . Do not do unto yourselves the same disservice I almost did unto mine. The Commodore’s Gift by Mandy Eve-Barnett is . . . exquisite. I almost didn’t read it. Indeed, the release date sneaked up on me, tapped me on the shoulder, and waved hello on Monday afternoon, and I joked to friend that I should at least update my status on Goodreads and pretend to be reading it . . . Six hours later, it was ten pm, and I was 40% in. I could not put this one down and finished the entire book in less than two days. Many novels tend to be repetitive and get bogged down in over-explaining everything. This novel, however, was a breath of fresh air. The author of this book did an amazing job of making this book completely addictive. I was enthralled with the Character the entire time. So far, The Commodore’s Gift by Mandy Eve-Barnett has taken me by surprise and kept it interesting the whole way through, to where I desired more and he continued to deliver. The lands are amazing, the characters interesting. They play a great role in shaping the world. There are many positives, but overall I’d say this is a good book held higher than most because Mandy Eve-Barnett is actually a good writer. She is creative and descriptive, and tells a story clearly and with a layer of her own action woven in. But I don’t think it’s half as good as many here make it out to be. End of the day, it’s another tale we haven’t seen elsewhere many times before. Highly Recommended!