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Hello Legendary Readers!

After several months of overwhelming personal events, I finally have the ability to start writing again!!! Not only am I returning to my Lex 2 edits, but I have book 3 underway. Woot Woot!!!!

Next month, I also have two upcoming events I’ll be attending, so be sure to check out my events tab to find out where you can join me.

Well, it’s been nice writing to you guys again, but my books are calling and I’ve really missed my characters.

Until next time, later Legendary Readers!!!

❤  MeLeesa Swann  ❤

Help! I Can’t Stop Reading


I’ve always loved to read, but the older I got, the more that side of me slipped away. Homeschooling three kids, writing my own stories, and basically all of adulting, took most of my time and all of my energy. This year, though, I’ve found a decent stride with teaching the kids. They all have chores to do, so that helps with the house. And thanks to my frequently crappy health, I’m stuck resting. All of these together allow for plenty of reading time. (It may help that I have also cut out a lot of TV time too.) So far in 2018, I’ve read more books than I have the last three years combined.

What’s been my favorite? Pfft. I couldn’t tell you. I can say that the most surprising has been a gem I found on Kindle Unlimited. The Immortals of Indriell series by Melissa A. Craven completely pulled me in and I couldn’t stop reading until I tore through the whole series. Highly recommend.

What else stands out? The Heartstrikers Series by Rachel Aaron, Superpowerds by Drew Hayes, Kindling Flames by Julie Wetzel, and The Immortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. Yeah, I know I’m late on reading that one, but it’s still awesome. Oh, and since we’re bringing up older books, The House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast.

I’ve read many more so far, but those are the ones that stand out the most so far (that I haven’t already blogged about). I really should try to limit my reading more and work on Lex (and for those of you following her adventure, that’s exactly what I will be doing), but balance is key. I’m sure I’ll dip one way and then the other at times, but hey, that’s life.

Later Legendary Readers!!!

One Week Until NuCon!!!


Conventions have become an experience I look forward to every time. The people, the cosplay, the overall energy that is revved up for the weekend. It feeds my soul to see so many happy people. I always feel so blessed to be a part of them.

Next weekend, June 8-10, Luna, hubby and I will be headed to Gadsden, AL for NuCon! I can’t wait to see what’s in store. If any of you Legendary Readers are around, come on and join us! For additional info, just click here!

Hope to see you there! Hugs!

My Little Addiction

Bonjour Legendary Readers!

Today I have a confession to make.

I am a book addict.


I have 4 bookshelves completely full, two closets and numerous bins. Plus, I may have some randomly stashed around the house. (I also need to organize them. hee hee)

And ebooks! I accidentally spent over fifty dollars on ebooks last month alone!

But there are so many lives out there to experience! So many adventures to embark on! I MUST HAVE THEM ALLLLLL!

Okay, so yeah. I have a little problem. Hubby is forcing me to part with some of my books, and he does have a point. So, for the next week, I’ll be going through my babies and finding new homes for some of them.

What weakness do you guys have? What treasures do you horde?

Well, for now, Lex 3 is calling my name. (Yes you heard that right!) Lex 2 is set to go to the editor soon and I’m diligently working on Book 3. Believe me, you’re going to want it as soon as possible after book 2. LOL.

Later Readers!

Back from Vacation

Hello Legendary Readers!
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks here in Imagica. I’ve been to CyPhaCon and met a TON of awesome people, learned some new things too. (Thank you, Jeremy Laszlo!) Then, I went up to central AL and visited with family for a week. It was an amazing time!!


















Now that I’m back home, though. I’m ready to type away, creating more magical Lex moments. (And I have a special project I’m working on!)
Hope you guys enjoy the pics and had a great time while I was away. Catch ya later readers!



In-Depth Interview With Janice Hardy!!!

Hello Legendary Readers! Today we get to have a chat with author Janice Hardy. I am totally in love with her middle grade series The Healing Wars. Her new book, Blood Ties, just got added to my TBR list as well. There’s so much I want to talk to her about, but let’s try to keep the interview simple.

Me: Hey Janice! I’m so glad you are able to do the interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.

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Janice: Hi everyone! Good to be here. Thanks so much for having me.

Me: I just finished reading the first two books in The Healing Wars series, and I’m hooked. First I want to ask about how you came up with the idea for the process of healing and then pushing it into a stone. Actually, the whole process becomes even more complicated with Nya’s ability. How did you organize all of that?

Janice: Aw, thanks, so glad you’re enjoying it. It all started years ago when I was playing with the idea of twisting common fantasy tropes. I was working on a totally different book then, and one weekend I went to see the original X-Men movie. Rogue (a superhero who accidentally absorbs powers and emotions of anyone she physically touches) is my favorite superhero, and after the movie, I started thinking about healing tropes and someone who could bump into another person and accidentally heal them, pulling the sickness into their own body.

I played with the idea for a while, and even wrote a fifteen-page synopsis of the book—which was horrible (I mean, seriously bad). I stuck it in a drawer and forgot all about for maybe ten years, until I was at a conference and the presenters kept stressing how important fresh ideas were. I was sitting there with my stale, “prophecy idea #12” novel that was anything but original, and feeling very discouraged. But I went home, looked through my old idea file, and came across that synopsis.

It was as bad as I remembered, but the idea of pain shifting stuck with me. I’d never really seen any stories where healing had consequences and could be used for evil, and I loved the idea of turning pain into a commodity and healing into a weapon.

The first thing I did was develop the world. I wanted a society that bought and sold pain, so I needed a way to physically do that. Pynvium (the magical metal used to store pain) was my solution. Pain went into the metal, and the metal was melted down and forged into weapons and items that could release pain upon a magical trigger. Healing became the magic of my world.

Once that was worked out, I had to figure out the main character–someone whose healing ability was different and who would be miserable in this society (I’m so mean to my characters!). That turned out to be Nya, a pain shifter who can’t sense pynvium and can’t get rid of the pain she absorbs from healing people. All she can do it put it into another person. I loved the idea of a healer who was also a dangerous weapon.

Organizing it wasn’t too hard once I developed the world and understood how healing and pain shifting worked. But all that had to happen before I even had a story. I knew early on that until I got the world worked out, I couldn’t write the book.

Me: Are you a plotter or a pantser? If you’re a plotter, how detailed do you get?

Janice: A bit of both. I’m an outliner through and through for the plot, but I pants my characters.

For plotting: I start with a major turning points outline and figure out the big moments of the story. Then I write a scene-by-scene summary connecting those points. I update it as I write the first draft, since things change and my general concepts develop into specific actions. For example, in The Shifter, my ending was literally something like, “Nya defeats the bad guy using her ability.” That’s all I had when I started writing, but once I had half the book done, I knew how she was going to do that and updated the outline.

I work in chunks as I write the first draft, usually three to four chapters at a time. I’ll look over my outline summary for whatever chunk I’ll be working on, and flesh out anything that’s weak. Then I start writing, and often it’s a lot of dialogue and basic stage direction until I have the scenes down. Then I go back and flesh out those chapters until I’m happy with them. If it changes from my outline, I update the outline again.

For pantsing: I do very little character development before I start a draft. I know the basics, a little sense of their personality, maybe some key elements of the character arc if that’s a strong part of the book, but I don’t really know who my characters are yet. I discover that as I write them by putting them into terrible situations and seeing what they do. By the end of the first draft, I know them and a lot of my second draft is fleshing out the characters, putting in what I learned about them, and re-aligning the plot where necessary to reflect those traits and outlooks.

I always know where I’m going in a story (those major turning points of my outline), but rarely know exactly how I’ll get there. The specifics change as I write, and I update my outline as I go. And that holds true for forward and backward, as it’s not unusual for something unexpectedly cool to happen mid-book, and I realize I have to go back and lay the proper groundwork for it.

Me: I’m a middle grade author and I have a personal reason for writing for children that will one day be explained in a whole different post, but what draws you to write for middle grade and young adult?

Janice: It’s just fun, and my voice lends itself naturally to that age group (I’m a big kid at heart). But it’s also a rich source of great stories. Adventure and discovery are always right around the corner, because everything is new. Teens haven’t learned how “the world works” yet, so they have no preconceived ideas of what’s possible and what’s not. That’s a fantastic type of protagonist to write. There’s so much freedom to explore options in solving the story problem. Teen stories are also high stakes, and things matter on a more personal level to them. We lose that as we get older.

And of course, I love teen lit. I’ve always read it and I probably have more MG/YA novels on my shelf than adult novels.

Me: Congratulations on your new book! Blood Ties was just released and (of course) I have to add it to my list. Can you tell me a little about it?

Janice: Thanks! Blood Ties is a bit of a departure for me. It’s for adults, and urban fantasy, so it was fun to stretch my creative wings some. It was inspired by my husband asking a great “what if?” question on a long car trip. We kept brainstorming the concept and I knew I had to write this book. And I can’t say what that question was, because it’s a bit of a twist and I don’t want to give it away (grin).

It’s about a young woman, Grace, who has spent her life running from the monsters that killed her mother. When the same monsters kidnap her father, she knows she has to stop running and fight back, and to do that, she has to figure out why they’re after her.

It’s the first of a series, and it’s going to pair up classic movie monsters and religious mythology. I can mention book two as an example, because that doesn’t give anything away. It’s inspired by Judaism and Frankenstein, with the golem.

Me: How can I get an autographed copy of your books? Do you have any appearances coming up?

Janice: I used to have a bookstore you could order them from, but I moved to another state and haven’t found a replacement yet for autographed books (I need to do that!). But 2018 is the busiest year I’ve ever had for events, so I might be close at some point this year. I’ve already done three events, and there are a lot more to come. Here’s my schedule:

April 14: St. Augustine, FL: Florida Heritage Book Festival Novel Workshop: How to Turn Your Idea Into a Novel One-Day Workshop.

June 14-15: Orlando, FL: SCBWI Florida Mid-Year Workshop: From A-Z. Two full-day workshop/intensives. One on writing science fiction & fantasy, and one on writing the YA novel.

August 9-11: Cincinnati, OH: 10 Minute Novelists Conference. I’m also doing two workshop here: Planning Your Novel in Ten Easy Steps, and Revision Readiness: How to Revise.

I’ll be in Brea, CA next April (still working out the details on this one), and I might be in Dallas, TX in September/October 2018 if we can work out the details there.

Me: You also have a website called Fiction University. I have to admit, I haven’t yet checked it out. What exactly is Fiction University and why did you create it?

Janice: Fiction University is a site dedicated to educating writers, with over 2500 articles on writing and publishing fiction. It started out as my author blog ten years ago this month (March). Back then, everyone said I needed a blog, but I had no clue what to write about. My life was pretty boring, and no one wanted to read about me. But I liked talking about writing, so I tried that, and it worked. After a few years, the site had grown from a few hundred views a year to a few hundred thousand views a year, and I had a much better sense of what I wanted to do with it, so I changed to name and focus. I haven’t quite broken the one million views a year mark yet, but I’m close.

When it became Fiction University, I wanted to focus on education and create a safe and welcoming place for writers to share ideas and learn how to improve their writing, as well as develop their careers. I have articles for brand-new writers as well as tips and advice for career authors with dozens of books published. Traditional, indie pub, we’ve got it all. I bring in guest authors every week in both the How They Do It craft column and the Indie Author publishing column to show that not every writer writes the same way, and if one technique or path doesn’t work for you, there’s another that will. I’m very proud at what my little blog has turned into.

Me: Thank you so much for doing the interview. I look forward to meeting you again one day. Perhaps we’ll be at the same convention some time again!

Janice: I hope so! Thanks so much for having me, it was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to chatting with some of your readers in the comments.

Well, Legendary Readers, I hope you enjoyed the interview, and if you’re interested in checking out any of Janice Hardy’s work, just click here. Next week, we’ll be taking a break from guest authors and I’ll be posting some more personal blogs. So much is coming up and I can’t wait to share!! See you next week!!

Janice: <waves good-bye to everyone>

Two Weeks to CyPhaCon!

Last week was vacationing in New Orleans. This weekend is Easter. And then comes


If you can’t tell, I’m a little excited.

CyPhaCon is an anime, gaming and science fiction convention. There are going to be so many awesome people and vendors there. Luna, my 16 year-old daughter will be dragged along with me. She’s just SO disappointed about that. (That statement is dripping with sarcasm. She’s happily freaking out whenever we talk about it.)

Not only will I be participating by having my awesome forest booth set up, but I get to host TWO panels!

In the panel Blurred Lines: A Fantastic Reality, I’ll be talking about how to build a realistic magical world. In Fountain (Pen) of Youth, I’ll talk about writing for kids. Both of these panels are great for all ages, so feel free to bring your kiddos along.

So mark your calendars, Legendary Readers. April 6-8, Luna and I will be hanging out at the Lake Charles Civic Center in Louisiana. Come on out and say hi to us and grab a copy of Legendary Lex: An ODD Beginning and I’ll sign it for you! Plus, I’ll be holding a giveaway that weekend. One lucky person will get a free copy of Legendary Lex, and two others will win a free art print of their choice!

If you need tickets, just click here for more information.

See you guys soon!!

Book Review: The Shifter by Janice Hardy


Last week’s guest was Janice Hardy, author of The Healing Wars, a middle grade fantasy. I’ve only read the first two books in the trilogy so far: The Shifter and Blue Fire, though I will be ordering the third book soon.

This series takes us on an adventure with Nya, a fifteen-year-old girl who lives in a society where the only medical assistance anyone receives is through magically gifted people called takers who have the ability to heal through touch, take the pain into themselves, and deposit it into a special mineral. Nya, however, is a unique type of taker.

Her special skills and strong-willed attitude carry her through multiple obstacles while keeping the readers turning pages wanting to see what happens next. I highly recommend this series for roughly ages twelve and up.

To learn more about Janice Hardy or the series, click here. To purchase one of the books, look below and click the appropriate title.



The Shifter: Healing Wars Book 1




Blue Fire: Healing Wars Book 2




Darkfall: Healing Wars Book 3


See ya next time, Legendary readers!

Guest Blog: Janice Hardy!

Good morning, Legendary readers! I’m so psyched to have this guest blogger today. Janice Hardy may cause me to fangirl just a little. I’m in love with her Shifter series, but you’ll have to wait for next week to hear my review of it. (You can already tell I completely hated it, right? LOL) Well, I’m going to step to the side and let her take over. Enjoy!

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Chasing Down the “What If?”

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Hello everyone! I’m delighted to be here today to talk about turning sparks of inspiration into a story. “Where do you get your ideas?” is one of the more common questions I get as an author. Every idea has come from a different place, but what connects them is the need to answer a question.

  • What if a society could buy and sell pain? (which turned into my novel, The Shifter)
  • What if (a certain creature) created the vampire myth? (which turned into my newest novel, Blood Ties)
  • What if someone spent most of their life as an undercover spy? (which is the novel I’m currently working on)

Sometimes my ideas follow the “how would?” question, but it’s the same principal. Something sparks my imagination and a question about it appears. I start thinking about that question and it leads to possible problems and story conflicts, and then my characters start appearing. Sometimes the characters come first, and that leads me into their worlds and their problems. From there, I build the story.


For The Shifter, the world came first, since I needed to explore how a society would buy and sell pain. I needed to work out the economy and practical aspects before I could figure out who might be trapped in that situation and have a terrible problem to solve (the protagonist). I decided that the magic users (the healers) of this world could heal by drawing pain and injury out of a person and putting it into an enchanted metal, and then the metal was sold and used for things, such as weapons and defensive items. I knew immediately that my protagonist was someone whose power worked differently, and that was the source of her problems–and the key to her success over those problems.

And thus, Nya was born. She’s unique in her world–a pain shifter who can heal, but she can’t sense the enchanted metal, so she can’t get rid of that pain unless she shifts it into another person. In order to help someone, she must hurt someone else. Her dream is to be a “real” healer, so this is a terrible power to have. Even worse, her city is under enemy occupation, and if she’s captured by the enemy, she’ll be used as a weapon against her own people.

All I needed then was a reason for Nya to risk herself in this world. So I had her little sister (also a healer) disappear for sinister reasons (no spoilers!) and Nya had to find and save her. Once I had this basic answer to my “what if?” question I could brainstorm where the story might go and plot my novel. The “how would?” questions really came into play here, as I wondered:

  • How would Nya use her ability when threatened?
  • How would Nya feel about hurting some people to help others?
  • How far would Nya go to save her sister?

It was a lot of fun for me as a writer to turn Nya loose and discover the answers to those questions.

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Blood Ties followed a similar process, but the focus was a bit more on my protagonist Grace from the start. I knew that “vampires” were after her for a particular reason, but I had to figure out why. The vampire angle went so well with blood I had to use it, but I wanted it to be about more than food source. I chased the original “what if?” idea down and created what I hope is a fun twist that blends two myths in an unexpected way.



My current project has gone in the opposite direction. It’s heavily character-driven, so all my “what if?” and “how would?” questions are delving deep into the personality and behavior of the character, such as:

  • How would an undercover spy reconcile lying to people she calls friends?
  • How would she feel about her people versus the people she’s been living with?
  • Where would she draw the line between her loyalty to her friends and her people?

Unlike my first novel, this world is developing around the character to help explore and show the conflicts and consequences a long-term undercover spy would face.

What I enjoy most about developing a novel through “what if?” questions, is that they always give me somewhere to go. They allow for endless possibilities for plots and situations, because different characters will behave differently even in the same situations. Change one aspect of a character’s personality and I can change the whole story.

It also frees me to brainstorm an idea without restrictions. It’s easy for writers to get scope-locked on a plot unfolding a particular way, and that can make us miss less obvious (and usually more interesting) solutions to our character’s problems. But chasing a “what if?” question can go anywhere, and lead to surprising twists and outcomes that are just as much fun to write as they are to read.

Thanks for reading, and if you’re a writer, I hope this sparked some interesting questions about your own stories as well.

What draws you to a story? Do you enjoy exploring “what if?” questions as a reader? What about those of you who are also writers?

Janice Hardy is the award-winning author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, including The Shifter, Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. She also writes the Grace Harper urban fantasy series for adults under the name, J.T. Hardy. When she’s not writing fiction, she runs the popular writing site Fiction University, and has written multiple books on writing, including Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It), Plotting Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, and the Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft series.

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Interview with J. B. Garner

Hey Legendary readers! So, we’ve been doing author interviews lately and this week I am glad to share my interview with author J. B. Garner!! Here ya go!!

Last week you were talking about balancing the description and plot in your book. Your post held some great advice! How long did it take you to learn how to balance and how did you know when you went too far to one side or the other?

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It took a while before I got everything just right, and to be honest, that kind of balance is a constant work in progress. Every new book and genre calls for shifts in that balance. A modern drama, for instance, might need a little less raw description, as you are dealing with real-world elements people already know, while a full blown epic fantasy might need more description, as you have to evoke the imagery of this fantastical new world to the reader.

As for knowing when you go too far, beta readers, test readers, and editors are the best way to know if you’ve gone too far. But if you have to judge it on your own, you know you’ve gone too far over on description when you reread a section and you start to get bored with it, as excessive description throws off the pacing of the plot. And you know when you’ve gone too far towards plot when you lose the ability to picture the scene and characters in your mind.

In Rune Service: Dwarf for Hire, your main character is not your typical sexy leading lady. What on earth made you think of writing Mary Stone the way you did? Do you want to tell our readers what’s so unique about our heroine?

I guess a few things inspired me. First and maybe most of all, I wanted to break the mold for both a romantic tale and an adventure tale. The fact is that anyone can find love with someone else, and I’ve seen plenty of odd couples and pairings in real life. And as for the adventure bit, far stranger people have been heroes. Why not a four-foot tall bearded Dwarf lady?

Second, I think dwarves as a fantasy race don’t get the same attention as your usual elves and dragons and all of that. I personally find many variations of dwarves to be really cool, and they speak to me. So, honestly I wanted to make a dwarf the heroine of a piece, just to celebrate that coolness.

What books or authors do you think inspired you most?

The funny thing is that I feel like any list I would write would be a horrible disservice, as I have read so many books and absorbed so much media that my inspirations are everywhere. I’d leave critical people out if I tried to make that list.

BUT for Rune Service, I can give some definite inspirations. My biggest sparks for it were Jim Butcher and the Dresden Files, for the urban fantasy elements, and the MythAdventures books by Robert Aspirin and Jody Lynn Nye, for the humorous fantasy bits. Oh, and I have to credit the movie Clerks from Kevin Smith for the idea of the convenience store setting.

What’s your favorite aspect of writing and what part do you have to fight to make yourself do because it’s just draining?

My favorite part is the middle part of each book, where I’m just writing and going and don’t have to worry about getting the initial hook of the first chapter right or finding a good way to stick the landing satisfyingly. As for the draining part, that’s definitely the first chapter! I wind up usually having to rewrite every one of my first chapters three to five times to get it just right and that just takes it out of me.

Okay, I know there’s a sequel to Rune Service: Dwarf for Hire, but are there more tales in store for Mary Stone and what is next on your list to be published?

For sure! Dwarf for Hire is meant to be a fun, on-going tale, with each book being their own individual story, so I have plenty of ideas for the future as we learn more about Mary’s past and her bizarre group of friends. My hope is to have a third book out later this year.

As for what’s next, well, I’m catching my breath at the moment, but I just put out a superhero reverse harem romance, The Miracle Touch, alongside my long-time collaborator, J. A. Cipriano, that I think is a heck of a lot of fun for those looking for action, adventure, and a bit of more adult romance.

Final request. Recommend one of your books, other than Rune Service, that you would want people to read.

Only one? Spoil sport! Okay, well, if I am limited to one, I am going to plug the oddest of my book series, one that was a true passion project. It might not be for everyone, but so far, even the person who bought it on accident and reviewed it wound up liking it.

Check out Three Seconds to Legend, starting with The Opening Bell. It’s a series I can best describe as a mix of family drama, martial arts action-adventure, and coming of age with some sprinkles of LGBT romance and Greek myth, all set in the world of modern professional wrestling. It’s odd, it’s strange, but those who do read it have always found it satisfying.

Thank you SO much for letting me interview you. I really am excited about checking out more of your stuff!

Well, until next time guys!