Fresh Find: Feathers and Fae by Crystal Kirkham — interview & giveaway

When I realised fellow Kyanite author Crystal L. Kirkham had a semi-romantic book coming out soon after this giveaway closes, I had to add it to the prize pack. Her book, Feathers and Fae, comes out 11th October and, knowing what the publisher looks for when signing authors, I’m looking forward to an exciting read.

Crystal did me the honour of an interview. Here’s a bit about her, her book, and what reading and writing look like for her today…

Author Crystal Kirkham, outdoors on a sunny day

JL: Tell us a bit about yourself.

CRYSTAL L. KIRKHAM: There isn’t too much to know about me. I’ve lived in western Canada my entire life and have travelled extensively throughout North America. I’m a big outdoors person, I love cooking (and eating!)—which are things that often show through in my writing. I also breed standard poodles and I compete with my dogs in show and obedience rings. Since I work full time on top of my hobbies and writing, I tend to be a little on the busy side.

JL: Tell us a bit about your upcoming book, Feathers and Fae. What inspired it?

CRYSTAL: Feathers and Fae was a story I didn’t know I was going to write. I have a whole blog post about this, but it started as a challenge. I was given three random, unrelated prompts 12 hrs before we had to start writing and I had to incorporate all three things into my story. After that, the story developed on its own with no idea what I was writing most of the time until it was written.

What I ended up writing was a story I didn’t know I needed to read. One that was not only a fantastic adventure through a beautiful world, but a story about loyalty, friendship, and sacrifice—and what that means to each of the characters involved.

JL: Tell us a bit about the friendship vs romantic chemistry between the main characters, Emmett and Kami.

CRYSTAL: These are two people who have a long, complicated history which really colours everything in their relationship—whether interpreted as friendship or romance. It’s hard to get in-depth on this topic without giving spoilers, but this is one of those things in that the chemistry between them sits at a very delicate balance throughout the entire book. Something that is only slowly revealed as you read.

This is also a relationship that I leave up to the interpretation of the reader for many reasons. One of the reasons is that not every intimate relationship is romantic in the traditional sense. So, I think it would be safe to say, that in this case there is no way to define the difference between romantic chemistry and friendship as I kept the lines intentionally blurry.

JL: Obviously, the friendship dynamic plays a big part in this story. How big a role do you feel friendships play in romantic relationships? (or any relationship for that matter)

CRYSTAL: For me, friendship is a huge part of almost any type of relationship. I think it’s important to not only love but to like the person you’re with because at the end of the day, sometimes what you need the most is a good friend who loves and respects you as much as you love and respect them.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsTKo83D3nu

JL: You’ve been putting work out in the wild for a long time. What are your other books like? Are there certain themes or topics you particularly enjoy writing about?

CRYSTAL: My other work is generally darker than Feathers and Fae. In my Saints and Sinners series, none of the current or planned stories have a ‘happy ever after’ or even a ‘happy for now’ ending. While the endings aren’t tragedies, they do not always end happily for the characters involved. Hints of this style do come through on Feathers and Fae, but I tried to keep it a little lighter.

One thing that I do love exploring—whether friendship, love or reluctant allies—is the relationship dynamic between people. I love exploring the different ways that people can relate to each other. I also tend to explore the consequences of the decisions and choices that people make in their lives.

JL: Do you feel bound to any particular responsibilities as a writer in this age of chaotic media?

CRYSTAL: It’s a fine line to walk being a writer in modern times. As an author, I am officially a public figure. People can look me up, see the things that I’ve been saying—things for years ago can suddenly become an issue. I feel a strong responsibility to set a good example, not only of how to be professional but of how to be a decent and kind person.

I also feel as though I need to be accessible to my readers. I’m not the kind of person who wants to be put on a pedestal of any sort. I try really hard to be not only real with those that I have interactions with, but to be encouraging and supportive of others as well. Not sure I always get that right, but I try.

JL: What sort of stuff do you like to read?

CRYSTAL: My bookshelf is extremely eclectic. What I enjoy the most is a strong, character-driven plotline. I have a lot of contemporary and historical fiction that I absolutely adore. Science fiction has long been a favourite, but I am a little pickier about my fantasy. There are not many genres that I give an absolute hard pass on. Good writing, strong plot, great characters? Yeah, I’ll read that.

JL: What are you currently reading?

CRYSTAL: Next on my reading list is Forgotten Storm by A.R. Vagnetti. Followed by several advanced reading copies that I have to review. I seriously wish I had more time for reading than I do.

JL: Any parting words for readers?

CRYSTAL: I really do love connecting with readers, so don’t hesitate to say hello to me or ask me questions about my books through any of my social media accounts. I promise I don’t usually bite.

A woman peers out from behind a cracked blue screen on the cover of "Feathers and Fae" by Crystal L. Kirkham

Enter the giveaway!

Two lucky winners will receive an ebook copy of Feathers and Fae by Crystal L. Kirkham in the ISWAK giveaway, along with handcrafted goodies (like a pair of More Sundays Please earrings), Skye McDonald’s Not Suitable For Work, more fresh romance reads courtesy of Kyanite Publishing, plus a signed paperback copy of my latest book, It Starts With A Kiss.

Check out the giveaway post for details on how to enter. This is an international giveaway, closing 29th September 2019.

Fresh Find: More Sundays Please — handcrafted polymer clay jewellery

More Sundays Please is the brainchild of local Perth artist, Katie, someone whose creative journey I’ve had the good fortune of witnessing from the very start. She’s horse-mad, formidable at Kingdomino, has a magical womance her bestie of the same name, and always seems to have her hair on point.

And her quirky, colourful polymer clay earrings were a must-have for the giveaway prize bundle.

Want to know more about this jewellery-crafting diva? Read on…

JL: Tell me a bit about yourself and what led up to the creation of More Sundays Please.

KATIE: I’m a high school teacher, animal and nature lover who’s always had a passion for crafting. My best friend KP introduced me to polymerclay and after playing with it for a bit, I developed MSP.

JL: What inspired the name, “More Sundays Please”, and what inspires your designs?

KATIE: The name comes from just the way I always feel at the end of the weekend — more needed! My designs are inspired by loads of things, but primarily nature or great colour combos I might see on fabrics.

JL: What’s it been like starting and running a business alongside your best friend at Blue Pincushion?

KATIE: Blue Pincushion and I have been best friends for 11 years. We both love to do craft courses together and used to live together and have craftanoons.

When starting separate businesses, this was only due to us having different styles and ideas. But we always support each other’s ventures and also are having our first of many to come markets together this month. It’s really fun having your best friend be in the same business and we bounce ideas off each other all the time. KP is going so well with BPC and I’m really proud of her.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B10nQsEn0HC

JL: What advice would you give to young creatives starting on their journey to achieving their dreams?

KATIE: The advice I would give to young creatives is to just enjoy the play. That’s what I do it for. It’s not for money or notoriety. It’s for the relaxation and mindfulness behind the craft and the peace that gives you. So the number one thing is to enjoy what you are doing.

JL: What’s your all-time favourite romance? (Yeah, you can pick more than one!)

KATIE: Ooo my all time favourite romance would have to be The Notebook (I know, cliche!)  or Crazy Beautiful. But I also love the love between Izzy and Tom in The Light Between Oceans and also the boy and the horse in Black Stallion haha does that count !? Not technically classified as romance though.

(You know what? Black Stallion totally counts.)

Enter the giveaway!

Two lucky winners will receive a pair of earrings by More Sundays Please in the ISWAK giveaway, along with other handcrafted goodies, fresh romance reads including Skye McDonald’s Not Suitable For Work, plus a signed paperback copy of my latest book, It Starts With A Kiss.

Check out the giveaway post for details on how to enter.

Giveaway for "It Starts With A Kiss"

Hey, Perthlings…

Shoutout to my Perth peeps: More Sundays Please and Blue Pincushion will both be at the Perth Makers Market in Applecross on 22 Sep 2019.

It Starts With A Kiss — out now

Sure, she could play it cool when they talked about work, but anything else got her skittish inside and paranoid as hell, which he could tell by looking at her. Him and everyone else.

So she always made sure she was the first to look away when they made eye contact; the first to break stride when they fell in step; the first to change positions when she saw their arms folded the same way.

She had hiding it down to an art.

My steamy scifi office romance, It Starts With A Kiss, is out now 💖

Paperback copies of "It Starts With A Kiss" by JL Peridot

Thank you to everyone who preordered—you’ve made this day extra, extra exciting. Thank you to my lovely beta readers, who patiently and forgivingly answered all my fussy questions. Thank you to the friends who kept me going, kept me caffeinated, adequately sugared, and unquestioningly supported. Thank you to the readers, reviewers and everyone who’s ever replied to my mailouts for a chat.

Thank you to Kyanite Publishing for taking a chance on me, and for giving me my first legit paperback with a colourful cover and paper smell.

Thank you, most of all, to my partner N, who’s stood behind me and beside me from day one.

A hand holds a wire mesh heart on the cover of "It Starts With A Kiss" by JL Peridot

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Target | Angus & Robertson
Kobo | Book Depository | Indiebound | Kyanite Publishing

Fresh Find: Not Suitable For Work by Skye McDonald — cover reveal, interview & giveaway

So, this Skye McDonald person—I’ve been following her on twitter for ages. When I found out we were releasing books within days of each other, and that her heroine is also named Celeste, I totally took it as a sign that she was a certifiably Cool Person™.

Hah, jokes, she was already cool when she tweeted about a Talisker single malt.

Her book, Not Suitable for Work, comes out 24th September. While we were chatting about giveaway particulars, she did me the honour of answering a couple of questions about her hot new web designer romance. Check it out…

JL: What inspired your latest book, Not Suitable for Work?

SKYE MCDONALD: First and mostly, Nashville inspired me! Growing up, Nashville was quiet. I longed to get away to a big city, and now that I have, Nashville has exploded into a hip, vibrant place to be. On top of that, I had a vision of an empty office with two desks facing each other and thought, who would be there and why? From there, Celeste and Ben became clear to me.

JL: How much of your own life did you draw upon for your Anti-Belle series?

SKYE: Oooh, tough question. When I read over the books, I see very clearly certain aspects of my personality that shine in my heroines. However, their journeys are very much their own. Some of my most fun side characters to write take inspiration from people I’ve known, and of course my hometown (Nashville) sits center-stage in the series. But the relationships and the romances are pure inspiration, and not at all based on my own love story/stories.

JL: Who would be your movie star picks to play Celeste and Ben?

SKYE: Haha, I don’t often model my characters on people, but if I got to choose I’d say Jennifer Lawrence and Channing Tatum. 

(Bloody good choices too!)

An illustrated cityscape on the cover of "Not Suitable For Work" by Skye McDonald

Not Suitable For Work (Anti-Belle, #1) by Skye McDonald

Available: September 24th 2019 
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

The competition is stiff. The stakes are high. And what happens on Halloween night is definitely not suitable for work.

Celeste Greene and Ben Addison didn’t realize the internship-to-hire opportunity was actually a contest, but neither of these talented web designers can afford to walk away. After betrayal destroyed her fabulous life in New York City, Celeste moved home to Nashville, Tennessee broke and broken. Restarting her career is her only goal. An ice queen who drove her partner to cheat can’t even think about friends or fun. Celeste’s talent and desperation should make the competition an easy win—if only she could stop gawking at her rival long enough to concentrate.

Ben Addison doesn’t want to be a corporate climber or live in a high-rise downtown. He just needs a steady paycheck after foolishly investing everything in a pretty face and a shot at a music career. He has no business fantasizing about his competitor, even if she is the most stunning—and guarded—woman he’s ever met. 

This contest can’t rival the chemistry between these two, but is the risk worth the reward? With a haunting past and her future on the line, Celeste must decide what she wants, what she needs, and what her heart is really worth.

About Skye McDonald

Author Skye McDonald says hello

Skye spent a lot of her adolescence dreaming about living in a hip, urban town full of adventures that occurred outside of the local mall. (Hers was Rivergate, in case you know Nashville well!) Now that she’s been living away from Nashville for years, the once sleepy Southern city has become just that place, and she returns to visit whenever she can. Her seven-novel-and-growing Anti-Belle series is centered in her hometown, partly as a homage and partly because these days Nashville is too hip to ignore.

In the real world, Skye is an English teacher in Brooklyn, New York, and has lived there long enough to consider herself a true New Yorker—even though she proudly cheers for the Tennessee Vols (her alma mater) and loves being a GRITS (Girl Raised in the South).

Skye’s philosophy is to live with your heart and mind open. She believes in the beauty of this world and seeks adventure and joy as a daily practice. If “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” as John Lennon said, then she’d rather leave the schedule open and let life happen.

Enter the giveaway!

Two lucky winners will receive a digital copy of Skye McDonald’s new book, Not Suitable For Work, in the ISWAK giveaway, along with a bundle of handcrafted goodies, more fresh romance reads and a signed paperback copy of It Starts With A Kiss.

Check out the giveaway post for details on how to enter.

Giveaway — It Starts With A Kiss

To celebrate the release of my upcoming sci-fi office romance, It Starts With A Kiss, I’m running a very special giveaway draw 💝

Two lucky winners will receive a signed paperback copy of the novel, along with a bundle of lovely treats featuring the work of local crafters Renée Botman, More Sundays Please and Handmade Gems; a digital download of Skye McDonald’s latest novel; and this year’s sweet ebook releases by fellow Kyanite authors Sophia LeRoux, A. R. Vagnetti and Crystal Kirkham.

What’s in the prize pack?

The rules are simple:

  1. You may enter by email, instagram, or both — yes, this means you can enter twice!
  2. To be eligible for entry by email, you must be subscribed to my mailing list. You may only enter once by email.
  3. To be eligible for entry by instagram, you must be following me on instagram. You may only enter once by instagram.
  4. If you win, you must be okay with telling me your postal address so I know where to send your prize!

How to enter by email

If you’re already a Dot Dot Dot subscriber, you’ll have received instructions already. Just reply to that email with answers to both questions.

If you’re not yet a Dot Dot Dot subscriber, it’s easy—just sign up, confirm your subscription, and the instructions will be sent straight to your inbox 💌

Make sure you get it done and dusted by 29 September 2019.

How to enter by instagram

Check out the giveaway post on my profile for instagram entry details!

A couple kissing. Text in image: Giveaway, "It Starts With A Kiss".

Good luck, my lovelies. I look forward to reading your entries! 👀

Cover Reveal: It Starts With A Kiss

Oops, I’m a little late with this! If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ll have already seen this gorgeous Sophia LeRoux cover for my upcoming book, It Starts With A Kiss.

I love it. The colours, the vibe, the mesh heart, which—sorry for being a tech tragic—I’m picturing made of copper wires embedded in a pile of clunky space station hardware.

An excerpt from the yet-to-be-edited manuscript:

Sure enough, Tahnee turned to her with a devil’s grin. “Heard about you and wonderboy this morning.”

“Of course you did.” Celeste kept on working.

“Laks said he had his face right in your tits!”

“Of course she did.”

“Oh, come on, Celly! I’m so sodding bored. Next dispatch isn’t for another few hours. Give me something!”

If this had been about anyone else—Martin or, heaven forbid, that temp from a few months back, who stood too close and spat when he talked—Celeste would have gladly taken a ribbing from anyone. Especially Tahnee.

But it was different with Owen. Sure, she could play it cool when they talked about work, but anything else got her skittish inside and paranoid as hell he could tell by looking at her. He and everyone. So she always made sure she was the first to look away when they made eye contact; the first to break stride when they fell in step; the first to change positions when she saw their arms folded the same way. She had hiding it down to an art, and maybe it bordered on obsessive over-thinking, but what was the alternative? Getting caught and outed? Ruining a perfectly good working relationship? No way.

But Tahnee was waiting for an answer. Taking any more time to respond would give away plenty.

“All right, all right!” Celeste threw her hands up, a diversion while her mind raced for something to satisfy the expectant dispatch officer. “Um, he does have a very firm body. You can tell he sticks to HR’s fitness plan.”

“Uh huh.” Tahnee nodded. “Thought he might. As disgusted as I am about saying her name right now, it’s clear Eleanor has good taste.”

“Oh, come on.” Celeste glanced towards the break room. ”Owen’s just office hot.” The words tasted like fat, juicy lies on her tongue.

It Starts With A Kiss (2019, Kyanite Publishing)

Available 13 September 2019 thanks to Kyanite Publishing.