Saturday, November 30, 2013

Adrian J. Smith

Today I am honored to feature a very dear friend of mine. Adrian and I have known each other for about a year. She is one of my trusted and treasured beta readers, a writing partner, and a very good friend. Her newest novel, Dying Embers, launches tomorrow.

Here's a bit about Adrian:

Adrian J. Smith, or “AJ” as she is often called, is a part-time writer with an epic imagination, sharp wit, and kind heart that gets her into a bit of trouble when it comes to taking in all the neighborhood stray cats. Being obsessed with science fiction, Smith often goes off on tangents about the space-time continuum. She is also a part-time lunatic with a secretive past. It’s been rumored that she was once a spy for the government, but anyone who has gotten close enough to know the truth has never lived to tell the tale. When traveling around the world on various classified tasks, Smith requires the following be provided: buffalo jerky, mimosas, and eighty-six pennies. This is all we know about the reclusive woman.

And a description of her WONDERFUL book: 

She thought she was on the right path, but life keeps tugging Addison back to her past and her gift.
Addison Lee struggles to make a new life in Norwich, one where she can be the Battalion Chief of Fire Station Seven and live life as she sees fit. She wants a life without the complications of an ex-fiancé and a job that put her life on the line for little more than a gift she was born with. Learning the ropes of a new job can always be tough, and being a Battalion Chief means she has a great responsibility to her crew and to the city. Nervous about her first day already, Addison realizes that adding in a one-night stand with a future employee has left her on rocky ground.
Plagued by visions of a dying woman, Addison continues to cope with difficulties at her new job. She has no idea who the dying woman is, where she is, or even, when she is—and no means to find out. Addison is distracted from the dying woman and her new job when called to Wyoming on an emergency, where she discovers it’s not as easy to leave her past behind as she hoped.

Adrian has been nice enough to also give me an excerpt to post here for you to all read. Here it is:

Rob glanced back over to the bar.  He had made a horrible habit of looking over every thirty minutes or so to see if the curvy raven-haired woman was still seated.  Her friend, he assumed, had left a few minutes before, and he wanted to know if she was alone. 

“I have an idea,” Rob started.

“No, you do not,” she responded, gritting her teeth.

“I do.”


She was too late.  He swiveled out of his seat and headed to where the woman sat.  Addison’s face started to burn, and she couldn’t help the embarrassment that took over.  Her heart started to pound, first in her chest and then it moved into her throat when Rob turned and pointed to her.  Addison’s cheeks flamed red and a sudden heat came over them.  She couldn’t control her embarrassment, which only embarrassed her more.  The woman turned and gave her a look—appraisal.  She gave Addison a once over, and Addison’s stomach dropped.  She hadn’t been looked at that way since well before the jackass proposed.  

She gave a small wave back upon prompting from her brother before she took a long swig of her beer to try and calm her demeanor.  She sincerely hoped that the amount of alcohol in her system would give her a smooth and composed persona.  However, knowing her, she doubted that would happen.  Addison practically choked on her beer when the woman took Rob’s proffered hand and rose off the barstool.  Her mind screamed and yelled at her, and she closed her eyes.  

Focusing on her brother, she spoke so only he could hear, the words flitting around his mind.  I hate you.”

“This is James.  She said her friend ditched her for a date, so I thought she could join us.”  

Rob sat in the seat he previously occupied and left James to sit either by him or by Addison.  Addison knew the tactic from him: a test for James to determine which team the woman swung for.  Sure enough, James slid into the booth next to Addison.  Their thighs touched under the table as they each got comfortable, and Addison felt small tingles race from where they touched, the warmth began and went straight into her stomach.  She ignored it and glared at Rob. 

“You’re an ass,” she whispered it in his mind.

He smiled at her and turned to James.  “We were just talking about families.  Kind of.”

“Ah.”  James bobbed her head up and down, taking a long swig of her beer.  She didn’t seem very interested in the conversation, and Addison risked a glance to her brother.

Grasping for a topic of conversation, Addison tried the only one she could think of.  “I just moved here, so we thought we’d check out the local places.”  

She reached for the water that the waitress had kindly brought her.  Sucking on the straw, she savored the cold water as it slid through her burning mouth and throat.  Embarrassment still raged through her body. 

James twisted so she could face Addison, skimming her gaze over Addison’s body again.  Addison’s cheeks blushed further.  She was definitely being checked out.  

“Well, this is a great place to come.  It’s one of my favorites.”  James finished off her beer and nodded to the waitress to bring her another.  “I come here a lot with my friend, Max.”

Rob raised his eyebrows at Addison and mouthed the gentleman’s name.  Addison shook her head at Rob and turned back to James.  

“That sounds cool.  I start my new job soon, so I doubt I’ll have much time to go out.  Not to mention, my brother will be kindly disappearing tomorrow.  No longer at my beck and call to buy me beer.”  

She lifted her pint and nodded it toward him in a mock toast.  

“Starting a new job is always interesting.”  

James’ voice gently lilted, and Addison strained over the other patrons to hear what she said.  The combination seemed odd, a voice so mild coming from a woman who screamed physical assertiveness.  Mentally shrugging, Addison turned back to what James was saying.  She shifted in her seat and brushed against the woman again.  Her heart started to pound, and her palms began to sweat.  She wiped her hands on her jeans, leaving them there.  Closing her eyes, Addison reached for her water glass again to wet her parched tongue.  As she took a drink, she felt cool fingers slip into hers and squeeze tightly.  

Addison coughed and sputtered.

She reached for her napkin to press it over her lips.  Rob gave her a funny look, which she ignored, and James rubbed a hand along her back.

“Deep breaths.”

“Uh huh.”  

Awesome right? And if that wasn't enough, I've got even MORE! Next up is an interview Adrian did to give you some more insight into her and her writing. 

Please tell us what made you decide to try to become published? How did you get started?
I have always wanted to be published, since I first started writing when I was twelve years old. I think I just thought it would be really cool to see my name in print. The more I wrote, the more I just wanted to share my stories with other people who would love the same type of stories. That’s still what it’s about to me. I was asked one time whether or not it would make a difference if I was published, and I have to honestly say the answer is no. It wouldn’t matter. I would still be writing and sharing my stories to the best of my abilities.
As for starting in the publishing world, that happened by sheer luck and amazing people. I met someone on twitter, and poof, had a publisher less than a year later! Go figure.

Tell us two random things about yourself that might shock or surprise us.
Well I don’t know how much it’ll surprise some people, but two things. I’m absolutely in love with pumpkins—year round any time I can get ahold of them, I keep them. Secondly, I have a Muppet phobia that plagues me more often than it should.

Tell us about James Matthews and her trilogy, without spoilers of course!
Without spoilers? Can’t I just say what happens in every single book so that no one has to read it? Umm…James Matthews is a firefighter who has started to become a bit disillusioned with the job. It’s not what she expected or wanted it to be. Instead of going to fires, she mostly goes to medical calls. However, James has been to one house fire where she saved a two-year-old girl, Lily. Two years later (where we come into the story), James keeps having recurring nightmares about Lily and the fire.
I should probably mention that James is a woman at this point just to make that completely clear. It is not just a typo. James also has a super-secret lover who probably has more secrets than James does.
The first in the series, Forever Burn, follows James through her nightmares and her struggling relationship. Of course a few more things happen, but that would mean spoilers, so I’ll just shush now. The second book, Dying Embers, is actually a prequel to Forever Burn. Dying Embers focuses on the start of James’ relationship with her super-secret lover and how all that went down. It’s quite amusing and funny in certain places, but I’m a bit biased.  
The third novel in the trilogy is called Ashes Fall (TBR Sept 1, 2014) and takes places eleven years after Forever Burn. I’ve just completed writing that one and am in the editing process. Ashes Fall focusses on James and her furthering relationship with Lily and said super-secret lover. I’m sure that if you read the first book, you’ll be wondering how this happens, so you’ll just have to read this one too. Lily is struggling throughout this book with everything that has happened in her past, as is James. So the third book is far darker than the first one, and the tension is ramped up.
I know that I put James through so much that if she were real she might punch me, or hand me over to her super-secret lover’s ex-fiancĂ©. (Yeah, wrap your mind around that one, I dare you.)

If there is one character from this trilogy you would really like people to meet, who would it be?
If I had to pick one character from this trilogy to meet, it would probably be Addison or Rob. I don’t know what it is about both of them, but they have a special place in my heart. Addison tends to keep a cool head in the sight of some serious tragedy and she trusts her gut, which is important. Rob, however, is the gayest straight man I have ever known. He can talk and talk and talk and never shut up. I had originally only intended for him to be in a chapter or two of Forever Burn, but he ended up having quite a role in each novel.

Focusing more on Dying Embers, the second book and prequel of the trilogy, how long did it take you to write it and what inspired you?
I think this novel took me 13 days to write. I took a bunch of time (before I had two other part-time jobs) in November of 2012 and typed my little heart away. I’d had the idea for what I wanted to happen in this novel well before I wrote it, so as soon as I was able to sit down and type, it all came out.
The inspiration for this series mainly comes from my time of working security. I worked in tandem with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and Central Pierce Fire and Rescue. I saw them at least twice during one shift (more if it was a Friday or Saturday night). I wanted to represent a job that has changed drastically over the years, and one that is often misunderstood.
Firefighters are always heros. I don’t think that I’ve ever encountered someone who thinks that they’re not (unlike cops who can have good and bad reputations). But firefighters rarely go to fires anymore unless they are working in a large enough city to have enough medical personnel. They are often required to train as paramedics or first responders while also being trained in firefighting. It’s just the reality of the situation, and this is represented in James herself.
The emergency responders that I worked with on a regular basis are the ones that inspired the characters behind this story and the situations that the characters go to. I do want to say, none of these characters are actually based on real people, just the situations and jobs themselves.

What is your writing process?
I write every day. Okay, well, I try to write every day. If I’m not writing; I’m editing. If I’m not editing; I’m writing. I might not be working on novels; I might be working on shorts, or papers if my instructors decide to have an assignment due. In the world of no classes and no school, I wake up in the morning and edit until noon or one. I always finish the piece or part I’m editing. Sometimes it is one piece, sometimes two. Sometimes my own work, and sometimes it’s for a friend. After editing, I write. I write for hours. When I want to get through a chapter or a certain part before bed, I’ll turn all electronics possible off. No twitter. No television. No Facebook.  I’ll turn my music up as loud as is appropriate (my playlist ranges from Ice-T to movie scores to gospel to country). I type as fast as possible. Editing can and will always happen later.
My motto is two-fold: I cannot edit what has not been written, and I cannot improve without continuing and practicing.

What is your non-writing life like?
My non-writing life? Is there such a thing? I read for classes. I write papers (wait, that’s writing). Crocheting to relax, piano when I’m angry, and singing when the moment strikes. I often am found at my favorite bar: The Gingerman. At least two times a week, I show up and have myself a wheat beer. I am an animal lover. I have three cats (Elliot, Seeley, and Rusty—Elliot is on loan to my mother), and I recently just adopted a dog with my significant other. We named her Caprica, and she’s a pitbull puppy.
Other than that I work a total of three part-time jobs. Luckily writing is one of those. I’m also a freelance copy-editor, so I take on at least one novel a month when school is in session. I’m a part-time minister, who loves my job. I’m also a full-time graduate student hopefully graduating in May. So I really don’t have a lot of that little thing called time.

Tell us a bit about the publishing and marketing process.
I will say that it’s been rough and it’s been amazing all at the same time. My publisher is a small press, independent publisher, meaning I don’t sell thousands of books in the first second of release. I love working with the company and the people that my publisher chooses because I do have a lot of say in what happens with my novel.
We generally decide on a book cover after I send in a full manuscript. So the cover process and the editing processes are going on at the same time. While all that is going on, I’m doing marketing for the book and planning out swag and the likes. Once everything has been edited and formatted, the cover is done and the book itself is being printed and sent to the sellers, I ramp up my marketing.
I do most of my marketing through my social media sucks. I’m only every going to claim that I am less than partially good at this marketing thing. I use twitter a lot and Facebook, but I also post a lot of excerpts and writing goods (grammar rules included) on my blog and website. I don’t know if there’s any vast success in this, but it seems to be working for the moment.

What about being published and the book industry in general has most surprised you?
Surprised me? My senior project in high school was on the publishing industry and the different kinds of publishing, so I wasn’t ever shocked by anything in regards to that.
I would probably have to say is the authority people give me solely for the fact that I have a book out. It’s like suddenly I became a real writer, not just one that piddles around in the dark of night with a computer. People want my advice, they want to hear how I did it, they want to replicate that—and I’m sitting here going, get your own story because mine’s not all that cool!
I do also think that a bit more of that authority comes because I do have a publisher to back me. While my publisher is small press and I can guarantee most people probably haven’t heard of the company or the other authors there, it still lends to that authority I was talking about. People ask me about query letters and sending their work into publishers and agents because they assume I’ve been through the same process and can share in the experience. That, however, is not necessarily true.

What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a new series called Spirit of Grace. The first novel, For by Grace, will be released with Supposed Crimes, LLC in June of 2014. I’m in the process of writing the sequel to that book called Fallen from Grace. I’m also writing a book that is yet to be titled. This one has an almost two-hundred year old witch and a seventy-year old one-quarter vampire—they both tend to get in a lot of trouble. I’m also co-writing another novel (because I’m insane) that’s about werewolves in an entirely dystopian world.
I’m also editing about three novels (at least I think it’s three). Ashes Fall, the third and final in the James Matthews trilogy is being edited—it’ll be released September 1, 2014. I’m editing For by Grace which will be released June 1, 2014 (it has one more round before it’s done!) I also co-wrote a novel this year that is coming out sometime next year. We’re in the process of editing that as well.
In the plans, I think I have to more novels in the Spirit of Grace series. An infinite number of novels with the witch and vampire serial. And I’m sure that my co-writer and I will continue our partnership. It’s just way too much fun not to!

And since I know you all want to know more about Adrian and her writing, I'm going to include a lot of links to her stuff. I encourage you to all go buy her books! You can also keep up with her at

Twitter: @AdrianAJSmith
Facebook: Adrian J. Smith
Goodreads: Adrian J. Smith
Purchasing links: