When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?
It was in the sixth grade. That was when I entered my first contest. We had to write a short story and design and make the book cover. The name of the story was “Tallahassee.” It was about a small colt who was an orphan and wanting to find a home where someone would love him. Although I didn’t win, I knew then I wanted to write.
Who would you cite as your influences?
I remember being so excited about the contest. Mrs. Clay, my English teacher in the sixth grade, really encouraged me to write. My grandfather was also a huge influence. He was a music ghostwriter for some really great artists in the Grand Ole Opry and I would sit and listen to his creativity for hours. He always wanted me to follow my dreams.
What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?
Read as much as you can in a variety of genres. Granted, you should read what is “hot” now, but also read classics. Read across the board. The more you read, the more you expand your horizons, the more your inner writer generates new ideas. Remember, you should not write about what is hot now. Write what you feel drawn to. That may become the next “hot” item.
When it comes to your writing projects, would you describe yourself as a meticulous planner, or a ‘seat-of-the-pantser’
Probably some of both. It depends on what I am writing. For the academic work, I tend to plan more. There tends to be a lot of research in that. For the creative work, I usually have a general idea of where I am going. My outline is not massively detailed, but I do still use paper and pencil for that. I find that writing down my ideas on paper is my creative venue. Even with that said, sometimes my characters decide they want to go their own way. Sometimes I give in to that to see where it goes. That may be a good thing or a bad thing, but if I don’t let them have their voice, I can’t get anything else done.
Tell us about your latest release?
Strength of Spirit is centered on Velvet Moon. She never thought she would have an interesting life. It was ok, just not interesting.
Now her death is another story.
Her and her mother had no idea the day Wren Easton came into their shop would change their lives so much, or that he would involve them in his job with the government.
Did I mention he was like a Ghostbuster 007?
As a ghost, she has to solve her murder, protect her mother, and fight against an evil man that wants to rule the world.
Why not? She has nothing better to do.
This book won the 2014 Gold Global eBook Award for Paranormal Mystery. It’s also UP Author Approved 2013.
You were born in the North and now live in the South. What would you say are the main differences between these two halves of the US?
I moved South my senior year in high school. It was a major culture shock for me. Granted, all of the US speaks English, but the South has its own “English.” It took me a little bit to get use to the common terminology here, but I love living in South Carolina. It’s friendly and a lot warmer than Ohio. I really don’t miss the snow and ice.
The term ‘Southern Hospitality’ is so true. I find that people are more friendly here than in the North. The lifestyle is more laid back. Here in the South, sweet tea and grits are staple food products and “y’all” really is a word.
I think one of the major differences is the schools. Unfortunately in the South, they tend to be behind the academic growth. I am not sure if it’s because of the slower paced lifestyle here or something else. I wish it were not that way. Our kids suffer because of it.
Your bio says you’re involved in Dragon Con, which is famous amongst geeks as The Con to attend. If you were to convince a con-goer to part with her hard-earned cash to attend Dragon Con, how would you sell it?
It is the geekiest place on earth. I am constantly amazed at the variety of events and panels available to everyone. It’s not your comic book special. There are so many panels to attend, gaming to play, art to see, stars to ogle over, parties to attend, gatherings to join, people to meet…it is a plethora of everything geek. You can make some really great friends. I have been going for years, even before I was on staff. I have yet to meet anyone nasty. There are so many people there of like mind, it’s like having a huge family. Last year, 62,000 attendees descended on downtown Atlanta, Georgia. That is so mind-boggling. It’s for the young and the young-at-heart. Even though I am 50, I have never been sneered at by the younger generation attending the Con. My students love the fact that I attend every year. They tell me they can see the joy on my face talking about it.
Any works in progress you can tell us about?
I have 2 more books completed, a third more than half done, and another idea I am outlining.
I am trying to finish the edits on the second book in the Velvet Moon series. It is complete. I just need to polish it before I send it out. It has an Alice-in-Wonderland element in it. Velvet definitely has her hands full with this one.
The other I have finished is a science-fiction piece. A young woman discovers her power in art and the control she may have over others for justice to prevail. Again, it’s complete, but I have to do the edits.
I hate editing…lol. I have to get it in gear, though.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’ve had to recently give up scuba diving and motorcycle riding (due to degenerative arthritis). I loved doing those things. I am an amateur radio operator. I go for walks in the woods and on the beach. I love reading and traveling. I have been to several countries. (The UK is on my list. I can’t wait to go). I am one to try new things. Although I love quiet time, I can’t imagine being in a rut.
Strength of Spirit Blurb
My name was Velvet Moon. Guess it still is. I never thought I would have an interesting life. It was ok, just not interesting.
Now my death is another story.
Momma and I had no idea the day Wren Easton came into our shop would change our lives so much, or that he would involve us in his job with the government.
Did I mention he was like a Ghostbuster 007? Interesting job.
Now I have to solve my murder, protect my mother, and fight against an evil man that wants to rule the world.
Why not? I have nothing better to do.
What a cool job.
Up until a few hours ago, I never knew a job like Wren’s existed. Now I discover his type of occupation has been around for at least a century. Goes to prove the government does all kinds of things we normal people don’t know about.
Like I would know what normal was. Yeah, right.
I learned about his training and his testing. He had been targeted at a young age. and under consideration for the job from early in his life. It seems those intelligence tests we took in school are more than just information for the school system. The government wants to see who is “above the norm.” Wren proved himself to be extremely intelligent, physically fit, and had psychic abilities.
Apparently, he remained unaware how much ability he possessed, or he would not have been able to fend off his recent attack the way he did. It seemed his natural abilities took over.
I probed him, gently and in sections. I didn’t want to create more chaos within his head than was already there. His psyche needed healing. This was where my witchy talents came in. It took a little time, but at least I managed to bandage him up, so to speak. I learned more about the current case he was working on.
His latest mission centered on Michael York a businessman always in the papers for one kind of philanthropic work at a hospital, or library, or something. He appeared to be the pillar of the community with more money than any three deities. Not married or having any children, he seemed devoted to his business. Little did anyone know his main source of income were drugs and weapons. He kept that hidden pretty well. At least he thought he did until Wren and his guys entered the picture. It was strictly a fluke the whole operation was discovered at all.
Wren learned how Michael York employed his own supernatural help.
Ghosts can go where they want, when they want to. Somehow, York had a medium enslave a spirit. This achievement meant the medium possessed a spell or icon powerful enough to hold the ghost in thrall. Using the spirit to gather information was too precious a commodity for York to ever release the spirit. The entity sold his soul, so to speak, to York, and couldn’t get out of the bargain.
If a ghost sold his soul, who collected and where did it go?
Better yet, how do you store one of those things?
There was a danger in trying to confine a soul. A spirit would only tolerate so much; then it gets even. If a spirit isn’t free to move on, the spirit will eventually possess the person who trapped them. Theoretically, the controlee becomes the controller. Possession had to be agony for both. Once the possession happened, one soul would not be complete without the other for as long as the human body could stand hosting them. I understood that. No one could control me when I was alive. I would get even in the end if someone tried to control me now I’m dead.
What amazed me was how the spirits communicated with each other. At least it won’t be a lonely life once this situation with Big Burly was sorted. It explained where the voices were coming from. I can hear anyone—anything—close, it would seem. Maybe part of this ability came from being psychic. It’s all so new and not like I’ve had a lot of time to explore this new aspect of my existence. Wren didn’t appear to have any more useful information. He understood ghosts to a degree and how to summon one, but he didn’t have long conversations with one to learn about the inner workings of the spirit realm. He was strictly the hit man.
Apparently, Wren got caught going back to house of Michael York’s medium. Big Burly roughed him up, but Wren managed to escape. The whole thing became evident to me as I realized something.
They let him go.
Wren possessed an item Michael York wanted; a charm of some sort. The talisman was extremely important. York wanted it back. It was worth killing over. Now Wren held the item, he’d hidden it. The importance of the charm wasn’t immediately obvious and I didn’t want to probe deeply since Wren was pretty banged up.
I let go. Wren came back into focus. The link worked both ways, and now he understood me a little better.
“Velvet, I’ll see what new information I can find out about the amulet and about Michael York for you. Thanks.”
Wren went into the other room and made a few phone calls. It didn’t matter who overheard what anymore. The cards were all laid out on the table, so to speak.
Nia watched our communication transpire. Even though my probing only took a few minutes, watching it happen to someone you love must have seemed kind of freaky.
“Velvet, is he going to be alright?”
“Yeah, Momma. He is going to be just fine.” I filled Momma in on what I had learned while she sat there, so quiet and subdued.
Wren came back into the room. “I left messages with some people who can help. I need to go stake out York’s home to see if I can discover anything. I can’t waste time sitting here.”
Wren took her into his arms and held her close, kissing the top of her head. My heart warmed knowing Momma will be loved when I leave here. After a few minutes, he released her.
“I have to, Nia. You know that I have to.” Without another word, he left.
Five Fun Facts about Amanda:
- Believe it or not, Amanda plays 15 instruments and sings, too.
- Amanda’s tombstone will probably ready, “She just had to try one more new thing before she left.”
- Amanda likes horror things. She has a collection of creepy dolls, skulls & skeletons, zombies, Teddy Scares, and other horror props. A lot of these are in her classroom.
- Living out in the country helps her center and refresh her soul, especially after a hectic day at the high school and evening classes at the college.
- Amanda Faith entered her first writing contest in the 6th grade (thanks to Mrs. Clay). The story was named Tallahassee. It was about a young colt who wanted a family to love him. Although she didn’t win, she does attribute her love of writing to this teacher.