Interview with debut author CJ Warrant

Today I welcome fellow debut author CJ Warrant to my blog.

CJ Warrant

CJ is an Award Winning Author for dark romantic suspense and thrillers that pulls at your heart, makes you shiver, and hope for a happy ending. A lover of coffee, baking and family, but not in that order–She’s a wife, a loving mother of three and a cosmetologist by trade. Drawing her experiences from her Korean Italian heritage and growing up as an Army brat, her stories stir in dark plots with addictive flawed characters you will fall in love with.
Visit CJ at


What do you think people would be the most surprised to learn about you?

My nationality. People look at me and assume I’m a certain heritage but in fact I’m far from what they think. I’m half Italian and half Korean, which are equal influences in my life. So when you first meet me, I’m generally quiet, but once you get to know me you can’t shut me up.

What do you enjoy most in your free time?

Being with my family. Especially nowadays, since my kids are growing up so fast and moving out the house. I treasure them and the time we have.

Other than a computer, what modern convenience could you never live without?

My cell phone. Not only does it link to social media but also my family. It’s the central hub of all incoming information for both personal and professional.

Every author has a process—what works for them when they write. What does your writing process look like from first scribbles to finished manuscript?

Wow, if you had asked me that a few years ago, I’d say I was all over the place with my writing process. I’m a total pantser, through and through. However, while writing Forgetting Jane, I realized I needed some plotting to keep my story in line.


Perhaps the start of CJ’s new novel?

So, when I get a spark of an idea—which can come from anything I see, hear, or even dream and that idea usually forms into movie playing in my head. Upon that, I start writing a chapter or two of a scene. In that scene, my main characters emerge. However, sometimes, it’s a character that comes forth before the storyline. After developing my characters, that is when I begin writing my first draft. Once done, I usually go three to four rounds of edits, with a full rewrite and my critique partners going through the manuscript twice.

What is your all time favorite book and why?

This is a tough question, because I have several. I’ve always been a sucker for a love story with grittier plots. I want a book with characters that have major flaws and then find redemption. But one story has always stood out of my mind since I was a kid. It was the first book I fell in love with. The book made me cry and care for the characters deeply. It was, The Pigman by Paul Zindel. It’s far from what I read now, but it’s a great story.


Goodreads: Paul Zindel


Via Amazon








Project research, love it or hate it?

I love doing research. It helps me dig deeper into my characters, plot and/or the places where the dirty deeds had taken place. The more I know, the better my story is.

Is there a specific author who inspires you?

I could say numerous well known authors have inspired me, like for example Sherrilyn Kenyon. She is one of my favorites to read, but I feel that the ones who truly inspire me the most are the writers who aren’t published yet. They keep writing and pushing along to get their stories out there. Their perseverance and diligence are what I feel inspires me; not to quit and keep striving for what I want. Just like them.

You write in various genres, which is your favorite to write?

I tend to lean toward my darker side, so I would have to say romantic thrillers.

Which is your favorite to read?

It would have to depend on my mood at the time. But if I have to choose, then it would be Paranormal romance. It so outside the realm of reality, and that’s what draws me.

Is there a genre you haven’t written but are thinking about trying?

Erotica. Just to see if I can write it.

How long did it take you to write your first book?

My first book—which by the way will never see the light of day… it me over four years to finish it with the heavy push from my wonderful husband.

Your latest book?

It took me eight months.

Like my debut novel, yours is set in Wisconsin. Tell us a little about FORGETTING JANE

Forgetting Jane is set in a small rural town in Wisconsin in current times. Some of the scenes in the novel were derived from my experiences I had when I was kid, living on a farm(which was haunted by a female ghost—no joke) for a year, and the closest town was ten miles away.

The story is about a woman found in the outskirts of town near a lake. Jane was horrifically beaten and had lost her memory. Her memory holds the key to who tried to kill her, and links her to a ghost, who haunts her until the killer’s secrets are revealed. What secrets? That’s what Chief Elias McAvoy’s intends to find out.

Small towns have buried secrets, and those secrets are about to be unearthed. With each step closer to getting Jane’s memory back, so is the truth about the killer. During the chaos of this investigation, Elias and Jane’s attraction grows and it can’t be denied.

And I do have to give a shout out to my secondary character, Harold and his hunting dog Traitor, a black Labrador. They are the ones who helped sparked this story.

What other projects are you working on?

I have three projects right now. My first project I’m currently editing is an erotic thriller called Mirror Image, which starts in Las Vegas and ends in Denver.

In my second project, I’m finishing up book one in a romantic suspense series based out of Chicago, which my lead female character, Jazz knows how to kick some a**.

And my third project is outlining a second romantic suspense series based out of Tennessee. Characters, towns and events—good and bad. A road trip will be required for this series.

CJ's book


The small town of Beaver Creek, Wisconsin has never seen a horrific act of violence before. So when two hunters find a woman beaten and partially buried, but alive, recovering alcoholic Chief Elias McAvoy has to find who’s behind the attempted murder. After Jane Doe wakes up from a coma, Elias discovers she has amnesia, which makes the case nearly impossible to solve.

Jane wants to remember the horrid crime that put her near death’s door, but the only thing she can envision is the girl in the yellow dress that repeatedly visits her. Seeing ghosts is the least of her worries, however. Between the severe headaches and nightmares, the only person keeping her sane is Elias. His desperate touch gives her the strength to learn more about herself and him, as well the girl who haunts her. She unwittingly captures Elias’s heart while the killer is bent on reclaiming her for his deadly game.

Elias and Jane search for answers and find more than lost memories. When another body is discovered, Elias uncovers a killing spree that spans forty years that connect to the girl in the yellow dress. With evidence pointing to a local, the killer quickly closes in, recapturing Jane to finish what he started. As Jane’s life hangs in the balance, Elias’s sobriety is tested as he realizes he can’t live without her. It will take strength and perseverance to save the woman he loves before the killer does.

Forgetting Jane releases June 29th, but it’s available to pre-order now!



Please join CJ and several other authors on June 29th from 3 – 10pm for her FORGETTING JANE Launch Party on Facebook.  CJ will start us out and I’ll be there at 3:30! It promises to be loads of fun with lots of giveaways!

Author interview: Elena Hartwell

Today I’m hosting author Elena Hartwell.  Having spent years in the theater realm as a playwright, director, and producer, Elena has now turned her talent to writing fiction. Her debut mystery novel, One Dead, Two to Go  was released April 15th.

Let’s get to know Elena.         Elena Hartwell

What do you think people would be the most surprised to learn about you?

I hold a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, but I was also a high school dropout.

That is a surprise.  It’s my belief that life is not about the destination, but the journey. I imagine you have great stories about the journey to your Ph.D.  That sounds like an intriguing conversation.  Let’s bookmark that for a future interview!

Authors can sometimes struggle to find a balance between work and play. What do you enjoy most in your free time?

Spending time with my horses. I have a 13-year-old Arabian gelding, Chance, who is a rescue from a kill pen. I’ve been working with him for about a year and a half. He’s come through amazing changes – from being a horse that was dangerous to be around, not because he was aggressive, but because his fear level was so high – to being a very connected, sweet horse. My husband and I recently bought a second horse for him to ride. Jasper is an eight-year-old Palomino Paint, who spent most of his life on a working ranch near the Nevada/Utah border. He’s very confident, and smart, so he’s always testing to make sure you’re paying attention. He’s a great match for my husband, who is basically the same way. I love being out at the farm where we board them, and it’s even better now that I can share that experience with my hubby.

 My husband and I have done dog rescue, but that’s nothing compared to horses.  I can only imagine the work involved in getting Chance to trust people. He’s one lucky horse. 

Other than a computer, what modern convenience could you never live without?

I have extremely bad eyesight. I’ve worn hard contact lenses for over twenty years. I would be miserable if I had to wear glasses, because they can’t make a prescription strong enough to fix my vision without it being like looking out of a fishbowl. I carry an extra pair of contacts when I travel!

 Every author has a process—what works for them when they write. What does your writing process look like from first scribbles to finished manuscript?

I usually start from a sense of a character. Someone who I find interesting. I start to think about who they are, what they want, who is in their life, and what isn’t working, what they’d like to change. Then I’ll write an opening scene or at least something I think is near the beginning. Then I often write the end. This gives me a sense of the overall scope of the story. Then I go back and write the middle. I never outline in advance – I’m very organic – though sometimes I outline after I’ve written the first draft. Doing this allows me to see where I might have something missing or in the wrong place. Then I start rewriting for story arc, does the story make sense and are there any scenes missing? I also look at character arc, has each character had a journey and learned something or changed in some way. Then I usually share my work with someone I trust, I have a writing partner I’ve been working with for several years, she reads everything I write. At this point in my career, I’m writing books two and three for the Eddie Shoes Mystery series, so the next thing I will do is send my draft to my development editor and a few beta readers. I take in their feedback, rewrite again, send it back to my development editor. Once we both agree it’s “done” – it goes to the final editor who does line editing/proofreading. She may also give story suggestions if something needs clarity, for example. I take her notes, do the rewriters, and then it’s on to the next book.

 What is your all time favorite book and why?

Probably The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. It was a book I loved early in life and I’ve returned to again and again. I love the mythic structure and the quest, but I also love the characters and the incredible detail of the world he created.

Project research, love it or hate it?

Love, love, love research. So much so, I’ve recently been a guest blogger about research and I’ll be leading a workshop on research for fiction writers with EPIC (writers group) in Edmonds, Washington, in October. I research before I start to write, I research during, and—because I’m writing a series—I continue to research after a book is finished so I get more educated on certain things that continue over the arc of the books. I love all kinds of research. I read non-fiction about a topic, interview experts, and ask for experts to read sections or entire manuscripts. I watch documentaries or films made in a specific time period. I love to site visit – and often plan trips to areas where I’m setting a story or a character is from. I find being “in the world” of a character can be very useful, for specific details and also atmosphere or character quirks. Because speech patterns can be regional, it’s also useful to take in the sound of local dialects.

 Is there a specific author who inspires you?

Sue Grafton has always been an inspiration to me, as she was the first mystery author I followed through a series, starting back in my teens. I am also inspired by Tony Hillerman, for writing a series set out in a rural area and around another culture. I love books like Connelly’s Bosch series, and enjoy reading books set in big cities, but sometimes I want to be engrossed in a landscape that’s different and wild.

 Is there a genre you haven’t written but are thinking about trying?

Science fiction/fantasy. I’d love to be the next Anne McCaffrey.


Who wouldn’t, what an inspiration she was!   And look, she had a soft spot for horses, too!





What is your favorite movie adaptation of a book?

I have a personal connection to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, so I’ve loved that movie since it came out. I went to Clairemont High School in San Diego, where Cameron Crowe graduated just a few years earlier. Though much of the film is fictionalized, there were still recognizable instructors and parts to the film. I also have to admit, I enjoyed the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games adaptations. If I can include television, I love the television series of Bosch, Longmire, and Miss Fischer’s Murder Mysteries.


I’m familiar with all of these except Miss Fischer. (Hang on, checking Amazon availability–Yes! They have her in all formats including a calendar. Interesting.)

If you could host a literary dinner party with three writers, dead or alive, whom would you invite? 

J.R.R. Tolkein, Dorothy Parker, and Charles Darwin.

Jrr TolkienDorothy Parker 2






That’s an interesting group, I wonder what conversation would be like at dinner.

What books are currently reading?

Yesterday, on my way to Vegas for the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference, I finished Motive by Jonathan Kellerman and started Gray Mountain by John Grisham. I’ve always been a big fan of both writers, though I had a hard time with something that happened to an animal in Motive.

How long did it take you to write your debut book?   

I wrote the draft I submitted to my publisher in a little over a year. Then I rewrote with my editor for the next seven months, so roughly two years.

Tell us a little about ONE DEAD, TWO TO GO.

On the surface, my PI is investigating a murder. But under the surface, ONE DEAD is about a woman finding her way in the world. She’s trying to figure out how the people in her life fit together and what she wants moving forward.

What other projects are you working on?

Books two and three for the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series (TWO DEAD ARE BETTER THAN ONE and THREE DEAD, YOU’RE OUT). I also have two other novels in various states of “finished” that I’d like to pursue as potential future series.

You’re definitely one busy gal, Elena. Thanks for joining me today, congratulations on the release of your debut novel and best of luck with everything.

Check out ONE DEAD, TWO TO GO:

One Dead, Two to GoPrivate Investigator Edwina “Eddie Shoes” Schultz’s most recent job has her parked outside a seedy Bellingham hotel, photographing her quarry as he kisses his mistress goodbye. This is the last anyone will see of the woman … alive. Her body is later found dumped in an abandoned building. Eddie’s client, Kendra Hallings, disappears soon after. Eddie hates to be stiffed for her fee, but she has to wonder if Kendra could be in trouble too. Or is she the killer? Eddie usually balks at matters requiring a gun, but before she knows it, she is knee-deep in dangerous company, spurred on by her card-counting adrenaline-junkie mother who has shown up on her doorstep fresh from the shenanigans that got her kicked out of Vegas. Chava is only sixteen years older than Eddie and sadly lacking in parenting skills. Her unique areas of expertise, however, prove to be helpful in ways Eddie can’t deny, making it hard to stop Chava from tagging along. Also investigating the homicide is Detective Chance Parker, new to Bellingham’s Major Crimes unit but no stranger to Eddie. Their history as a couple back in Seattle is one more kink in a chain of complications, making Eddie’s case more frustrating and perilous with each tick of the clock. Book 1 in the Eddie Shoes Mystery series.

You can find Elena Harwell on her blog:  Elena Hartwell’s Blog



Author interview: Rosanna Leo

Today I’m hosting multi-published romance author, Rosanna Leo. Winner of the 12957 (167x250)Reader’s Choice 2015 in Paranormal Romance at The Romance Reviews, Rosanna draws on her love of mythology for her books on Greek gods, selkies and shape shifters.  A library employee by day, she is honored to be a member of the league of naughty librarians who also happen to write romance. Star-crossed loves are her specialty.


Rosanna, what do you think people would be the most surprised to learn about you?

I’ve been watching the British soap opera Coronation Street for over 20 twenty years now. It’s a lot different from American soaps, less flashy with regular people, and over-the-top in the drama department. Sometimes I cringe when I watch but it’s become like a sickness, an addiction. If I don’t watch, I wonder. However, it’s the sort of show where you can miss a week and easily return to it. Much of the time, it serves as background noise while I fold my laundry.

Although I’ve never heard of this one, I love the kind of show you can have on while you run around the house and get stuff done. It feels less like work that way. 

What do you enjoy most in your free time?

Reading is a big thing for me, as I suspect it is for so many writers. I never grow tired of finding new authors. However, I also love hiking and being in nature. I’m a gardener at heart, although I’m sad to report my thumb isn’t very green and I don’t often have success. Traveling is another biggie. My husband and I both love discovering new places to visit. Our favorite places are England and Mexico but we hope to roam elsewhere as well.

These are photos from Rosanna’s London trip!


London skyline

Hampton Court in London

Hampton Court in London







Other than a computer, what modern convenience could you never live without?

I probably wouldn’t do too well in this life without a microwave. Unfortunately, I’m not the best of cooks so I often have to resort to nuking food. It’s not unusual for me to BBQ something, turn off the BBQ, and realize the meat is under cooked. Hello, microwave.

Every author has a process—what works for them when they write. What does your writing process look like from first scribbles to finished manuscript?

The first thing I do is tackle character sketches for the main characters. What are their wounds, their goals? What do they look like and what are their histories? Then I set to work on an outline, but I leave it somewhat fluid so I can make changes. At that point, I really need to start writing. I don’t like to spend days outlining because I tend to make alterations as I go.

What is your all time favorite book and why?

I think it will always be the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis. Those books were my childhood favorites and I still love the sense of magic and mystery and even the underlying faith. Plus Aslan struck me as hot. I think he might be behind my decision to write about shape shifter heroes.

Project research, love it or hate it?

Love it! I studied history and literature at university, as well as classical singing, so research was always a big part of my education. I can sit in a library for hours and never get bored. I do believe a writer can possibly reach a moment when it’s time to “let go” of the research and start writing, however. Make sure you know what you’re talking about and then write what you need to write.

Is there a specific author who inspires you?

Boy, anyone who sticks around in this business inspires me. It isn’t always easy. I really look up to authors like Meg Cabot and Susan Mallery. They’ve endured and always manage to write something new.

How long did it take you to write your first book?    Your latest book?

The first book I ever wrote was the one that eventually became Night Lover, one of my paranormal romances. That one originated years ago but the story was very different back then. It went through many changes and it took me years (on and off) to complete. My latest book, a currently unpublished contemporary romance called A Good Man, took a few months from start to finish. I know what I want to convey now so I don’t allow myself to agonize for years. At some point, you have to write “The End.”

Is there a genre you haven’t written but are thinking about trying?

To be honest, romance floats my boat. It’s what I’ve always loved and I can’t imagine writing a story that doesn’t have romance at its heart. I may write in various subgenres of romance, but I don’t think you’ll ever see me writing sci-fi or biographies or mysteries. I need that chemistry, that sizzle.

You write romance in various sub-genres, which is your favorite to write? 

I write in both contemporary and paranormal romance and enjoy them both. As I go forward, I will likely continue writing in each of these sub-genres. I love the humanity inherent in contemporary romance. As for PNR, well, I love the fact that characters and conflicts are something other than human.

Which is your favorite to read?

I love most types of romance. For the most part, I gravitate to contemporary or paranormal, but I enjoy a bit of historical and fantasy romance as well. As long as the characters are compelling and sympathetic, I will stick around.

As a multi-published author, do you have any words of advice for aspiring writers?

Work toward your dreams but make sure you do your homework first. A lot of people out there have the perception that they can crack off a book whenever they like and get it published. The reality is different. There is a lot of rejection and a lot of self-doubt to be overcome. If you want to write in a genre, make sure you love it. If it’s not your passion, it’ll show. If you decide writing really is for you, learn the craft and be ready to make it your business as well as your hobby.

What other projects are you working on? 

I just finished a contemporary romance, A Good Man, and it’ll be the start of a whole new series featuring a sexy trio of contractor brothers. Set in Toronto, my home town, it is fun and flirty but will also touch on some deep issues like PTSD. I’m also hard at work on book 3 of my Orkney Selkies and am about to embark on the final book of my Gemini Island Shifters series. 

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

My last book was Predator’s Rescue, Gemini Island Shifters 7. It wasn’t hard to come up with the title because all the books in this shape shifter romance series begin with “Predator’s” and end with a term that reflects the characters or conflicts. In Predator’s Rescue, both my hero, my heroine, and to some extent a couple of secondary characters needed rescuing. In fact, the actual setting needed a bit of TLC, but I won’t give away too much. 

Tell us a little about Predator’s Rescue.

Predator’s Rescue is the seventh book in my shape shifter series. It’s an important addition to the series because some big conflicts get resolved. The series began as rather light and fun but took a darker turn around book 5. New villains were introduced and a plotline in which many characters were threatened, both physically and emotionally. In this book, our hero Jani is one of the good guys from the Ursa Resort, my shape shifter sanctuary. The heroine, Fleur, is a reformed bad girl. She used to be part of the vicious cult of shape shifters who attacked the Ursa Resort, the Alpha Brethren. However, Jani always knew there was something good in Fleur. In this book, we see her transformation and redemption.


The official blurb: 

Tiger shifter Jani Fodor should have washed his hands of Fleur Bissette long ago. However, when she disappears from the shape shifter sanctuary on Gemini Island, he can’t forget her, and launches a fraught two-week search to find her. He thinks she’ll be grateful but the petulant she-wolf resents his intrusion in her life.

Jani recently liberated Fleur from a vicious cult of shape shifters, where she was brainwashed by the sadistic August Crane. The wolf shifter terrorized their friends at the Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort on Gemini Island. Labeled a “bad girl” all her life, Fleur knows she’ll never fit in with the good guys at the Ursa, no matter how much Jani tries to convince her of their regard. Besides, she can’t stay with Jani. Although he’s the closest thing she’s ever had to a friend, their chemistry is explosive in the worst way.

When a new menace arises, in the form of a vicious drug dealer with a grudge, Jani is adamant Fleur accept his help to rehabilitate her addict mother and remove her from the influence of her dealer. Fleur accepts Jani’s assistance but as they work together, friendship erupts into passion. Neither can deny their lust-struck spirit animals and before long, they realize their connection runs deeper than they ever expected.

Despite the threats posed by the drug dealer, the worst danger of all dwells inside Fleur. Haunted by the spirit of August Crane, Fleur is inundated by visions that torment her. She is consumed by guilt and plagued by old hostilities. Can this bad girl make good? And is Jani’s love enough to save her from her demons?

Want more?  Click here to read an excerpt:   Predator’s Rescue

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Cover teaser