Ally Shields will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
1. Woohoo! You are a published author. Describe a strong character trait you possess, good or bad, and how it helped you become a published author.
Persistence. I kept rewriting, editing, and querying my first fantasy through 167 agent rejections over three years. After a final major overhaul, I changed tactics and submitted to three small publishers, received positive responses from two, and signed a contract with one of them. Ironically, I’ve had agents approach me since then, but I’ve stayed with my original publisher through twelve books (with two more scheduled for 2017).
2. Sometimes an author begins writing a story before they are aware of its genre. Did you choose your genre, or did it choose you?
It definitely chose me. The story that became Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1) started out to be a mystery with a small town cop. On writing day three, she told me she was a witch. I had to stop writing and create an entire fantasy world with supernatural creatures before I could continue writing three or four weeks later.
I enjoyed the genre so much I’ve continued to write urban fantasy, setting the Otherworld characters within a contemporary city. The Maggie York Paranormal Mystery novels are the first where the heroine is a human who discovers she has gifts that allow her to see ghosts and use magic.
3. The plot thickens, or does it? Which one are you, a pantser or a plotter?
I’m a pantser, but I’ve learned to outline as I write in order to remember exactly what I’ve written and where I put it! I envy those who can outline, because I’m constantly worried I’ll go off on a tangent that doesn’t fit the real story. I often know the next scene or two ahead, but usually my characters just take over as I type. This style requires me to edit as I go. Working without an outline, I leave plot holes that must be filled and corrected as soon as I discover them before they’re buried and forgotten.
4. Fear 101: As writers it is our duty to make our characters face their fears. Have you ever included one of your own fears in a storyline?
Claustrophobia has surfaced a couple of times in my life (mostly under restraint), and I made Arianna, the main character in the Guardian Witch series, face a related fear in two of the novels (underground tunnels).
5. Fear 102: Yes, deadlines are terrifying. Have you conquered the juggling act between writing and the rest of your life? What do you do when it feels like the balls are dropping all around you?
You’re kidding, right? No, I’ve never figured out how to balance anything. But when the balls are dropping, I prioritize and deal with them one by one. I won’t start on the next until each is completely finished. It still bothers me to interrupt writing when edits for the previous book land in my inbox. Jumping back and forth just isn’t in my DNA, so I have to set one manuscript aside while I focus on the other. So far it’s always worked out in the end.
6. Switch positions with one of your main characters in a scene. What is the outcome, disaster or divine intervention?
Since I have no magical powers, I’m afraid it would be a disaster. When facing crisis situations, I tend to stick around, but I’d quickly be in over my head in the Otherworld.
7. Where is your favorite place to write? Add that one comfort food that you can’t do without.
I have a wonderful writer’s cave, a spare bedroom I turned into an office. I have everything I need at my fingertips, truly a place I enjoy spending time. I always have a coffee cup or a diet coke on the desktop, but rarely bring in food. I find I forget to eat it. The two comfort foods that have made their way into this inner sanctum are bagels in the morning or pizza in the evening.
8. Writing inspirations?
Primarily life experiences, places I’ve been, people I know or have observed, things I’ve done. But the story lines can come from anywhere—the news, an offshoot of another book, a “what if” brainstorming session. My characters come to me first, and I think about what this character would do. Especially, what would lead them into trouble?
9. You are introduced to your favorite author. Who is it, and what is that one burning question you must ask them?
There are so many to choose from… Let’s say David Baldacci, author of The Camel Club spy thriller series, among others. I’d like to know if he plans to continue that series, and if so, when will the next Oliver Stone be available?
10. I’ve gone mad – why don’t you come with me? Some people just don’t understand us writers. Name a quirky, writer-thing you do that friends wish you didn’t.
Horrible time management. I’ve been known to miss social engagements or leave them to rush home to write a scene that finally came to me. My friends and family complain I become reclusive while in the throes of writing that next book. What they don’t understand is I’m not alone on those occasions. I’m immersed in a magical world, surrounded by book friends. 🙂
by Ally Shields
Too many ghosts is never a good thing… Detectives Maggie York and Josh Brandt’s latest murder case comes at the wrong moment. She just moved out on him and wants to “cool it.” But complications throw them together more than usual. Even for New Orleans, the case is unique—with way too many suspects and creepy things—ghosts, snakes, curses, not to mention the witches. Maggie and Josh try to make sense of it all and resist finding consolation in each other’s arms. Then Josh’s ex-fiancee, a curvy blonde, arrives from Boston, making a touchy situation impossible. But this killer won’t wait for them to sort out their personal lives, and the situation spins out of control…
“Valerie Preston, age sixty-one,” said the older of the two patrol cops who’d found the body. He checked his palm-sized notebook. “Lived alone. Widow of real estate businessman, Clive Preston, who’s been dead five years or more. Neighbor last saw her yesterday afternoon about five bringing home groceries.” He put his notes in his shirt pocket. “Looks like the snake killed her.”
“Maybe.” Josh learned forward to inspect the bite marks, and a shock of dark hair fell over his forehead. Maggie’s attention drifted to his strong profile, the sculpted cheekbones, the full black lashes. He hadn’t shaved this morning, and she imagined the dark bristles scraping softly across her skin. Whoa, girl. Another example of why they needed to step back from their relationship. They’d grown too close, too intense, placing their on-the-job partnership at risk.
A week ago, Josh had played the alpha male, stepping into a situation she could have handled, and it had nearly gotten him killed. They’d argued for days, and yesterday—after living with him the past four months—she’d moved back to her own apartment. Ostensibly to think it over, reassess. But Maggie wasn’t sure what would happen to them next. In spite of their casual, matter-of-fact conversation since he’d picked her up at her apartment a half hour ago, raw tension simmered under the surface.
The tightening of Josh’s jaw muscle, as it did when he held back strong emotion, sharpened her focus back to the scene…where it belonged. He looked up at the two patrolmen. “Hard way to die. Who shot the snake?”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Ally Shields grew up in the Midwest along the Mississippi River, still considers herself “a river rat,” and currently resides near Des Moines. After a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time fiction writing in 2009. Her first urban fantasy, Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1) was published in 2012, and she currently has twelve published novels. She loves to travel in the US and abroad and incorporates many of those settings into her books. Ms. Shields welcomes reader contact through her website and can frequently be found on Twitter.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Ally-Shields/e/B009AKNDZU
Ghost Witching Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/cxgb07Wzn7w
Amazon buy link to all Ally Shields books: https://www.amazon.com/Ally-Shields/e/B009AKNDZU