Know Thyself

Okay, so the cryptic title is really about self-awareness. I’ve had a few great conversations this week about history repeating itself and the type of learners we are. In my conversations with friends and peers at work, it is clear we worry a lot about whether we are learning all we can from our experiences. For instance, what did we as a society learn from the 2008-2009 stock market collapse? Are we out there being careful about the types of mortgages we offer and the criteria we hold people accountable to? Probably not as much as we should be. Why? Today I wanted to “talk” about our self-awareness and particularly its role in why sometimes we don’t learn what we should.

So a bit of a disclaimer, I am not a social scientist and don’t proclaim to actually know about this subject to any degree of expertise. My ponderings here are basically a result of interactions I’ve had over the past week. I’ve also been researching different ways to learn (visually, audibly and kinesthetically) and that has prompted thoughts about how well we absorb information and how we grow in our craft—specifically referencing writers.

So a few questions…how many of you out there actually know how you learn? The reason I ask is because this has been something I’ve been trying to figure out for myself lately. To my reference in the first paragraph, I haven’t always learned from my mistakes and history does repeat itself. As this has happened, I have to wonder if it was because I wasn’t going about my “learning” in the right way to really have it sink in for me. Perhaps, I haven’t been as self-aware as I thought.

As a follow up to my first question, for those of you who do know how you learn, do you use that to improve your craft? Do you diagram plots out or read things aloud? Do you role play through scenes or trying writing different iterations of a particular scene in your story? These are only a few suggestions but at this point you may be getting what I’m saying. I feel at many times we writers become stagnant in our craft because we either don’t experiment with ways of learning that actually hit the spot, and/or we just are self-aware enough to realize where some of our weaknesses really lie. That’s where critique groups come in handy.

You task for this week – pick an area you feel you need to improve upon (writing characters, creating plots, etc.) and experiment with how you can improve that area in a way that addresses your unique learning style (and yes that means you need to find out what that learning style is). Feel free to drop a line as to how it works out.

Good luck and happy writing this week!

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Wine Time with Author Assistant Fiona Fischer by Heather Novak

Ladies, Gentleman, & Sharks (Penny Reid Fans),

Photo on 4-24-15 at 7.05 PM #2Allow me to present my funniest Wine Time yet! I had the chance to ply author assistant Fiona Fischer with lots of wine (see picture on left) and get her to answer questions about her love of all things nerdy, her most embarrassing work stories, and of course, what it’s like to be the assistant for USA Today best selling romance author Penny Reid.

Hold on to your wine glasses, it’s about to get weird.
Just the way I like it.


Tell us a little about yourself and your background! 

IMG_2053 copyAm I supposed to drink wine as I answer these? No? Too late. I was born and raised in Florida (pass no judgment) I have two older brothers who I attribute my “coolness” factor to. They got me into Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Calculus, computers etc. I attended college about 30 minutes from home. (10/10 would recommend if you want your laundry done and home cooked meals from your mother) My degree is in cello performance and I recently moved to Southern California!

Do you do anything creative? If so, what? (Just wait for the epicness, folks)

562518_633657833316143_597835296_nI play cello and sing. I started on violin at age 4, and switched to cello at age 8. My oldest brother played violin and piano, and my other brother played viola and guitar. My mother sang as well, and my grandmother played flute! I’m the only one who continued to play through college and still plays today. I started singing when I was around 3 and haven’t stopped since. Music is a big part of my life and every time I try to move away from it, I get sucked back in!

I’ve played with Michael Buble, Josh Groban, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.



I also enjoy wine tasting, surfing, and sleeping but these seemed significantly less creative. Oh and camping, I really enjoy the outdoors.




Um, can we just take a moment and talk about how FIONA HAS PLAYED WITH JOSH “MY HUSBAND” GROBAN?! Do you all know the story ajosh runningbout how I touched his left elbow once? Well, I did. And he was wearing a very breathable fabric. Excuse me, I need to fangirl for a few moments…
Here’s a picture of the moment after I touched him.

Ignore the fact he’s running away from me and just move on to the next question.


How did you land your current position with Penny Reid? Have you worked for other authors in the past?

I get asked this question a lot, and it was definitely just being at the right place at the right time. Someone in my family worked with Penny’s husband and I was about to graduate college unsure of my future and losing my will to live. My family member mentioned me to her husband, they scheduled an interview and apparently I marketed myself well enough for her to hire me. I got extremely lucky. The best part was I was late to the interview because when I got in my Jeep there was a cat in my car. I had to open all the doors and scare it out, I don’t know if she actually believed that, BUT IT IS TRUE.

What’s the best part of your job?

So first of all the best part of my job is that it doesn’t feel like a job. I get to interact with all these wonderful women from all different parts of the world on a daily basis. I like that I get to be myself all the time!! Which probably wouldn’t be acceptable at other places of 10374032_296772363837614_9156572008951272750_n copyemployment…

The best part of my job, hands down, is having Penny as a boss. She’s my boss but we are kind of like comrades on the S.S. Penny Reid. She laughs at my jokes, tells me I’m weird and bakes me scones. Also we share memes a lot.



Here’s an anecdote: She’s not the best at using her phone and I sent her this weird gif of a ketchup bottle robot squirting ketchup all over the table and she never responded.

I remember thinking that it was probably too soon to unleash my weirdness on her and she was probably regretting giving me her phone number. She really is an exceptional individual, I love her for taking me under her wing and believing in me. This is getting gushy. I tolerate her, OKAY.


What kind of work do you do as an author assistant/what is your typical day like? Does it involve travel?

When I first started, I had never worked for an author or anyone really. So at first it was Penny introducing me to the online world she was involved in and I read her books and learned about the characters. I moved to the other side of the country so now my day is a 25903_335358129715_3259670_nbit different. I’m usually organizing things for the next release, doing research for promotions and signings, booking hotel rooms, booking flights, and making graphics. We typically have meetings twice a week on the phone and are always emailing, texting, sending carrier pigeons, etc. I love getting to travel for signings and meeting all her fans. Signings are a crazy experience, I didn’t even know that author signings existed until I started working for her.


Do you get to meet other authors you love? Any trouble controlling your “inner fangirl?” 

So I’m a bit late to this romance world I won’t lie. I typically read fantasy and sci-fi. However I’ve met April White and Elizabeth Hunter (both AWESOME) and I think I would freak out if I met LH Cosway because we have e-mailed and things like that but I know so much about her and have never met her. AND SHE HAS THAT ACCENT! Also I would freak if I met J.K. Rowling.


Do you have any words of wisdom for authors searching for assistants or people searching to become author assistants?

I think the reason Penny and I work so well together is because we are similar. We have similar senses of humor and ideas. I think an author needs to find someone who they work well with, and someone who understands their brand, vision, and goals. If I was going to give advice to someone who wanted to be an author assistant I would suggest you be extremely organized, find an author that you work well with, and don’t be afraid to annoy the author with reminders of things they have to do. (I’m still working on that last one…)


What books are in your To Be Read pile? Who are some of your favorite authors?

So I really enjoy epic fantasy and memoirs. My TBR pile is kind of weird right now but since it’s sitting next to my bed I will tell you.

  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  • Two Thousand Minnows by Sandra Vaughn
  • Tempting Fate by April White
  • Killer Queen by LH Cosway
  • Confessions of a Reformed Tom Cat by Daisy Prescott


My favorite authors are J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, David Sedaris, and Isabel Allende. OH and Penny Reid. ;-)


Wine or beer? Hockey or soccer?

I like both… but Wine?! I live in California come on! Hockey, I used to hate that fighting was allowed. Then I went to a game and was cheering on the fight. I will watch the World Cup and that’s about it…


Share with us your funniest/best/most embarrassing story as an author assistant!

WOW. This is hard to imagine because I usually block embarrassing stories from my memory. Honestly this is my embarrassing moment. So all of my websites auto login to Penny Reid things, I.E her amazon account. I forget that when I open amazon it is her accounts and that links I open up in Amazon get put under product recommendations. Sorry about the ingrown hair serum under “products you may enjoy” Penny and husband… also for the barrel of lube my boyfriend was showing me to be funny… and the giant inflatable penis I was going to get for a friend’s pool party. LE SIGH. I’ve since started using two browsers, one for Penny things, and one for JUST FIONA things to avoid this.

My other favorite story is when she made me put on “ear muffs” so she could tell her husband he had too many computers things after he complained that she had 3 staplers. I’m glad she saved my virgin ears from hearing anything, you know it got real ugly (NOT. They are relationship GOALS people).

OH and the first time I met her she was wearing a dress that looked like an owl (literal owl dress, not owl printed dress) and she says “oh let me change, this is what I wear when I travel so people won’t talk to me” and It was at that moment I knew we were meant for each other. <3

Fiona, it was a pleasure having you on Nights of Passion! I feel we’re destined to be friends after this interview…(not too creepy, right?)

And, if you’re looking for funny, weird romance with smart women, make sure to check out Penny Reid and become part of the Sharks of Awesome (Jawsome?) fanclub.

It’s Fun Fact time! October 1st is known for:

National Vegetarian Day!
Happy day to our veggie and animal lovin’ friends.

Wishing You Laughter & Good Books,
Heather Novak
Bold. Bewitching. Breathtaking. 

Find me at:
Twitter: authorheathern
Facebook: authorheathernovak

Author of Hunting Witch Hazel featured in Falling Hard (A New Adult Anthology).

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Hunting Witch Hazel Trailer

Available Now!
Amazon U.S.
Amazon UK


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A Blood Moon, the Pope and a Changing World

I’m writing this blog a bit earlier in the week as I watched the blood moon and total lunar eclipse yesterday evening. I have to say that as people at my day job ask about my weekend and whether anything “eventful happened”, I want to scream out that “yes, the world is changing a lot each day, the Pope spent a great deal of time imparting words of wisdom this weekend and the world might have come to an end as predicted by many who felt this blood moon was a sign of end times.” Instead, I tell them that “no, it was a short weekend and we spent quite a bit of time killing scorpions in our backyard yesterday evening.”

So why do I do this? I don’t know, perhaps because one answer sounds a bit insane and the other is expected. The truth of the matter is, the world hasn’t ended yet although it might at some point, the Pope did impart words of wisdom and our world is changing so much and at such a fast pace it can be overwhelming at times.

Okay… so what do we do? I’m really not sure. I know that I as a person (and any influence I have on my friends and family) will continue trying to do better, trying to be better and trying to keep up, because the truth is that is all I believe we can do—at least until I receive some sort of sign or opportunity that shows me I can do more. What about you all, how was y our weekend?

Happy writing this week!

Posted in A writer's life, blood moon, Toni Kelly | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Creative by Mandy Rosko

Okay, maybe my brain is just fried because it’s the end of the month and I can’t see how broke I am already (shopping sprees baby, yeah!) but I’ve been going a touch insane with the need to be buying art supplies.

Never mind the fact that I hardly have any time to learn how to draw or paint or do any of that stuff, or that I should still be working on the edits of my book for the Woodland Creek series and the Dangerous Creatures series.

Nope. I need to be spending every extra red scent I have on sketchbooks, satchels, and Copic markers (Because all of those things are awesome, dammit!)


Right, I’m a little insane right now, but I’m making it a priority!

A priority that comes after the writing and editing one, of course. Lol, but so far I’m not doing so bad. I’ve had five classes at the art center so far, and while I’m the worst in class, it’s the effort and time put in that matters, right? Right? Eh?

Yeah, anyway, because I’m a shopaholic, sometimes I tend to know enough about art supplies and manga to make my characters halfway experts in certain subjects. The latest thing that will probably be griped about by an artsy character in my books?

How fricken expensive Copic markers are!

I want to cry. I want these things so bad. I went on a binge about a year or so ago to get some. Mostly I bought the knockoff brand, but they still work nicely, and I swear one day I’ll be skilled enough to be drawing and inking my characters. That will be so awesome.

Until then, it’s like the girly little shopaholic in me has convinced myself that I need to buy as many of these expensive markers as possible, or else that tiny dream will just never happen. Realistically I know that fear is horse shit, but I can’t help it. Do you have any idea how much willpower is took for me to not go down to the nearest Micheals with one of their 40% off coupons just to look through their sets? It was painful… I’m coming full circle and the crazed collector and shopper in me needs these things.

Kind of reminds me of all those times I maxed out my credit card so I could buy every book there was on the art of writing romance, character development, emotions, and everything else in between. Not to mention all the journals and pens I’d buy with the intention of writing my books out longhand, something I’ve only ever done once with a novella BTW, and even that hurt.

I need someone to share this pain with me. Anyone else ever go on binges like this for your creative loves? Writing? Scrapbooking? Jewelry making? Painting… Copic markers?

Lol. I need to know that I’m not a psychopath, so anyone who shares my pain, feel free to leave your comments below. We can breathe a sigh of relief together ;)

BTW, Big Thank you to everyone who picked up their pre-order of the Taming the Monster Alpha Box Set. You all rock <3



Posted in romance | 1 Comment

Eclipse Paranormal-Scope

Did you see the Lunar Eclipse last night? Things are changing. New information coming to light.

While I am not qualified in any way to read neither stars nor planets, I am intimately linked to the paranormal in the world in many ways. So are you.

The paranormal-scope is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to guide your life by.

The week for:

Ghouls are about. Stay close to home. Don’t open the door to strangers.

Vampires are partying hardy. Keep that smile bright. Make a social calendar of parties and events to attend.

Shapeshifters love bubble baths. Enjoy the luxury! You need downtime. Use it well.

There’s a dark mysterious stranger waiting to meet you. Not all vampires are bad guys.

Werewolves know that being part of the pack is important. Listen to what others have to say. Work hard and consider suggestions.

Hobbits have to be pushed to do anything outside their comfort zone. Try something new.

Dragons think you’re great. Keep your eyes open for new opportunities.

Someone from the past will fly in. Beware bats! Keep everything in perspective.

Mermaids swim deep. You’ll need to investigate deeper to see if what you want is worth it.

Zombies are ticklish. It’s all right to tickle the enemy as long as you know the odds of getting bitten increases.

Wererabbits aren’t the cute fuzzy creatures they appear to be. Don’t judge by appearances.

Werewolves are scratching at your door. Do you have any puppy biscuits? Be prepared for guests.

Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!
Vampire King of New York available at Amazon Kindle and print, Barnes and Noble Nook and print and in Kobo
A Vampire for Christmas in Kindle

Posted in A Vampire for Christmas, Max Vander Meer, Norse, paranormal, paranormal romance, romance, romance novels, Susan Hanniford Crowley, The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, vampire books, Vampire David Hilliard, Vampire King of New York, Vampire King of New York In Print, Vampire Maximillion Vander Meer, vampires, Viking, Weekly Paranormal-Scope, Yule | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bestselling Author?


In July, six friends and I published a boxed set called Crashing Into Love, seven different stories that all begin with an airplane crash. Earlier this week we had a Bookbub ad come out and our set made it to #2 in the Free Kindle Store (we’re currently #20) and one of our authors wrote to us saying we were all Amazon Bestsellers.

This kind of shocked me because I don’t think of myself as a bestselling author. I guess my perception is only New York Times Bestselling authors are called that, which I’m a long way from. But it is true that the boxed set is doing very, very well right now. I also had a fabulous run with my historical romance Only Scandal Will Do in June when it went to #17 on Amazon’s Paid Bestsellers. Still, I didn’t think of myself that way. I haven’t changed my covers to include the words Bestselling Author or even put it on my email in the signature block.

Part of it is that I don’t want to be accused of false advertising (not that anyone probably would, but I do have my paranoid moments). Perhaps I should label myself as an Amazon Bestselling Author. But do people do that? All I tend to see out there is Bestselling Author. Am I over thinking this too much? Or are there parameters out there that I don’t know about that specify when you can be called a Bestselling Author?

I’d truly appreciate any feedback you have to give me. :)

And now for something completely off topic.

Marriage new fullI feel I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that my Georgian historical romance, Only Marriage Will Do, the second book in The House of Pleasure series, is on sale at Amazon starting today for only .99!

Not every happy-ever-after begins at “I do.”

When the man of her dreams rescues Lady Juliet Ferrers from the villain claiming to be her husband, she is sure she has found her one true love. But is she free to marry him? Not to be deterred, Juliet arranges for her hero to escort her to her family estate in far off Northern England—hoping that along the way she can win his love—and his hand…

Captivated by Juliet’s sweetness and beauty, Captain Amiable Dawson can’t help but be spellbound by the promise of a life with her. But the spell breaks when questions arise about her marital status. Soon the upstanding Amiable is unsure if he is indeed married to Juliet. And when his rival absconds with her, Amiable must choose between the law of the land and his heart’s desire to rescue Juliet once more…

Only Marriage Will Do is available at AMAZON for .99!

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The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais and An Author’s Twisted Journey by Susan Hanniford Crowley

The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais is the second book in my original series 51Fz-MSFmWL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Vampires in Manhattan. This book is all about David Hilliard (King Max’s son) and how he finds love.

David is a Manhattan vampire yearning to find love and asks God to have mercy on his loneliness. In that moment, his life is about to change.

Laura Cordelais is equally lost. In one day, her fiance dumps her, she gets a phone call that her mother has died in New Orleans, and she is robbed so she can’t get to the funeral. In that same moment, when the despair becomes too great, Laura climbs over the railing of the Brooklyn Bridge. Then she changes her mind, and in trying to climb back, she slips.


The book was originally titled The Vampire’s Wish, but my editor thought it too bland. So I made a joke and said, “The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais.” She loved it and that’s how it got it’s name. In the book, Laura has an inherited supernatural talent to control the weather, as she is descended from an ancient race called the Telkhines who actually lived on the island of Rhodes.

Like all of my books, I dreamt the story. It baffled me because at the time when I wrote the first draft, I wasn’t a romance author yet and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I showed it to my critique group at, who were all science fiction and fantasy authors. Then a friend recommended another online critique group called Rom Critters, who were all authors seriously pursuing romance. That’s when the rewrites really began to fly.  I was writing vampire romance! This book was written before the first book in the series. It happens sometimes. I don’t always dream books in order.

I’ve been thinking a lot about David and Laura this week, as I’m entering the changes to my latest novel-in-progress. It’s all about David’s sister Noblesse (Book 2 in the Arnhem Knights of New York series). I’m revisiting King Max and the vampires of New York and as I get it finalized to send to my critique partner, I’m playing with the vamps one more time. It’s like visiting family. Giggles.

The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais is available in Amazon Kindle and Print.

Ah, the twisted journey of an author!  Just when you’ve nailed down your profession, you change! For me it was as a science fiction and fantasy author to a paranormal romance author. It’s funny how these things happen. We prepare for one thing and do another. Has this happened to you too?

Susan Hanniford Crowley

Posted in A Vampire for Christmas, Characters, dreams, Emotions, Max Vander Meer, Norse, paranormal, paranormal romance, romance, romance novels, Susan Hanniford Crowley, the romance of life, The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, vampire books, Vampire David Hilliard, Vampire King of New York, Vampire King of New York In Print, Vampire Maximillion Vander Meer, vampires, Viking, What inspires you?, When Love Survives, Writer's Life, Yule | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment