Friday, January 27, 2023

Control Excerpt By Melissa Cassera


Control by Melissa Cassera is a YA paranormal romance coming March 28th. Check it out and be sure to pre-order your copy today!

Title: Control

Author: Melissa Cassera

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Release Date: March 28th

About Control:

For Natalie Covington and Henry Thorne, only one thing is certain: things are about to get out of control. 18-year-old Natalie has big ambitions but very little control over her situation. She’s trapped at an elite boarding school on a private island, where cell phones are forbidden, militant guards line the iron gates, and her practically prearranged boyfriend has eyes for another girl.   Everything changes when a mysterious new student arrives named Henry Thorne. Henry is a “precog”—a hidden society of people who can see the future, and who are forbidden to reveal their powers. When Henry has a grisly vision of Natalie being murdered, he ultimately decides to save her and face the consequences. But the consequences of changing the future are more dangerous than Henry imagined, unlocking a wide conspiracy among his kind that’s linked to Natalie’s past, and a desire that threatens to consume them.   CONTROL is the first installment in The Lockwood Trilogy. This fast-paced Upper YA/New Adult Paranormal Romance is filled with thrilling turns, self-discovery, spicy language, light steam, and a cliffhanger ending that will leave you obsessing for more.   Reader Discretion: this book contains graphic language, violence, and some heat. Best suited for 16+.

Pre-Order Your Copy!

Exclusive Excerpt:

My shoes smack to the ground below and I bolt ahead, shoving my way through Lockwood’s elite, and get to the student just as he crashes to the floor. I lean over him and grab onto his arms. His eyes are squeezed shut, like he never wants to open them again. “Hey,” I whisper. He stirs. His eyes flutter open and clash with mine. They’re deep green with flecks of gold. Intense. Like he’s staring into my soul. “Are you okay?” I say. His breathing accelerates, then his fingers snap around my wrists, his nails digging into my flesh as his gaze darkens. His jaw clenches, nostrils flared—the savage pounding of his pulse strums against my skin. Every alarm sounds in my body—get out of here!—but all reason has just left the building. I can’t move. I can’t think. There’s something about this stranger that I just have to know.

About the Author:

Melissa Cassera is a Professional Screenwriter, Author, and award-winning Publicity Expert based in Washington State. Melissa and her work have been featured in Variety, LA Times, Success Magazine, and Fast Company. She was named one of the nation’s Top Personal Branding Experts by The Huffington Post. On-screen, Melissa is the writer of THE OBSESSION THRILLOGY (Lifetime Network’s first trilogy of movies.) She is also the writer of the films SECRET LIVES OF COLLEGE ESCORTS, NIGHTMARE NEIGHBORHOOD MOMS, MOMMY’S LITTLE STAR, DADDY’S PERFECT LITTLE GIRL, HER STOLEN PAST, and GIRL FOLLOWED. Melissa also sold an eight-episode dark comedy series, ADDICTED, to Fullscreen. She has two additional feature films, WHO KILLED OUR FATHER and NIGHTMARE PAGEANT MOMS, coming to Lifetime Network in 2023, and six additional film projects in active development. When Melissa is not whipping together obsession-worthy words, she can be found drinking too much coffee, playing at the lake with her dogs, or getting lost in the romance section of a bookstore. Follow Melissa at her website: or on Instagram: @Melissa.cassera  

Connect with the Author:

Website | Instagram | Newsletter


Thursday, January 12, 2023

Renee Pellegrino Interview on our Podcast


Born in a small Pennsylvania town called Altoona. 

Story telling came natural ask the nuns at Sacred Heart Church. 

Because of You, is her debut novel, the first of a series.


Transcript generated with Sonix

[00:00:01] Toni Kirkland
Hi, I'm Toni with the Hidden Bookshelf Club, and I have with me author Rene Pellegrino. That's it.

[00:00:12] Renee Pellegrino
That's good.

[00:00:13] Toni Kirkland

[00:00:15] Toni Kirkland
So how are you doing today, Renee?

[00:00:18] Renee Pellegrino
I'm good. I've had better days, better moments. But I'm good. Thank you.

[00:00:25] Toni Kirkland
So Renee lives in Pennsylvania. Is it? We had down here in Atlanta, we had a cold snap over Christmas, but it's starting to warm up.
Is it getting any warmer up there?

[00:00:39] Renee Pellegrino
We got that cold snap, too. We got that. But it did I mean, it did so much damage to a lot of the houses. Like there is like so much
plumbing issues like like like all of our I mean, it's like hard to get a plumber here because it did so much damage to the plumbing, like
some of the place. Like it happened to me, too. It happened to us, too, because I'm waiting for the plumber to come in and fix my
problem. But there's a there like like two or three months backed up because that's how many places got ruined through that because
of that storm.

[00:01:13] Toni Kirkland
Is that just from the pipes casting?

[00:01:17] Renee Pellegrino
Yeah. Yeah. Pipes burst. It was like almost. I mean, it was it's been like they're, they're like three months behind. I mean, they're like
because so many because it happened, because it did so much damage to so many places. Yeah, it was pretty bad. It is still pretty
bad because some of the people are still don't have water because of the pipes burst. Yeah.

[00:01:38] Toni Kirkland
That is awful. And I know a lot of pipes bursted down here, but nothing like that, like our plumbers are. Working overtime. But it's.
They're not three months back.

[00:01:50] Renee Pellegrino
Up next.

[00:01:51] Renee Pellegrino
My next door neighbor needs a whole new set of pipes. They're four weeks out. It's going to take her four weeks to get water.

[00:02:01] Toni Kirkland
Oh, wow.

[00:02:02] Renee Pellegrino
Yeah. And just like, really, how do you live with I mean, and it's hard because, you know, you don't realize how much water you use.
You know, you use water to wash clothes for showers to flush the toilet. You know, I mean, it's just like, man, water is such a big,
important, essential part of living. It's just like without it, it's just like, oh, God, what do I do now? But I mean, you know, so luckily,
hopefully tomorrow, because the plumber's coming tomorrow, hopefully I'll have water by the end of the day. So I'm hoping.

[00:02:39] Toni Kirkland
I am crossing my fingers for you because, yes, water is like essential to life at this point. Well, it's always been essential to life, but it's
even more so now.

[00:02:47] Renee Pellegrino
I spent so many I have so many bottles of I, I spent so much like I bought me because I have the dogs, too. I worry about the dogs I
have to drink too. And I was just like, Man, I've never spent so much time on buying a whole bunch of bottled water, you know, So
But yeah, it's been the summer was pretty. I mean, this winter was pretty bad. Christmas was pretty nasty.

[00:03:11] Toni Kirkland
Yeah, I can't imagine what it got down up there because it got down to eight degrees down here. On Christmas.

[00:03:21] Renee Pellegrino
It was negative three down here. Yeah, it was negative three. And, and then there was, it was so the windshield was so bad that if
you had like a crack in your door, like a little open, you know what I mean? Like the little like, you know how the door is if you didn't
have a complete, if you had like cracks or whatever smoke was coming, like the cold, the cold air was coming through the cracks. It
was really it was really weird and bad. I've never seen anything like it.

[00:03:50] Toni Kirkland
That is extreme cold.

[00:03:53] Renee Pellegrino
Yes, it was. And it's just like, oh, time to move to Florida. So.

[00:03:59] Toni Kirkland
I saw pictures of Florida. They even had icicles on their trees. And I was like, That's not what.

[00:04:08] Renee Pellegrino
But I mean, we got through it. And it's still I mean, it's been like 60 something now, and it's just like, please don't go back. Just say like
this for the rest of the winter. Please. You know, it would be really cool if it did.

[00:04:21] Toni Kirkland
That would be really cool. Yeah. So. Um, you mentioned buying the water because partly because of the dogs. I know that you are a
German Shepherd lover and have worked with them for many years.

[00:04:41] Renee Pellegrino
Yes, I have. My I, I think that's my dad loved German Shepherds and he just passed it on to me. So. And they're like, Oh, why don't
you try a different breed? And I'm like, No, I'm good with with what I'm you know, I did try once to rescue a golden retriever. And if you
have a German shepherd and you have a golden retriever, and the difference between the two of them is German shepherds are not
in your face to where goldens are. And it's just like, okay, that's enough. But they're like constantly, like at you. And I was like, No, I
have had German shepherds. That's my shepherds don't do that. So I was like, Nope, can't do it, can't do it. And people will probably
say that about shepherds, too. Some people don't, you know, it's just about your preference, that's all. But shepherds have always
been who I chose to live with, you know?

[00:05:33] Toni Kirkland
Yeah, I. Saw that you. Are getting a new puppy soon.

[00:05:45] Renee Pellegrino
Puppy. No, we were. I want to. But because of my mom passing, we're kind of not going to. It's kind of. Kind of on hold. She wanted
one, and we were working on it for her to come home. But because that that's not going to happen, it's going to be held off for a while.

[00:06:14] Toni Kirkland
So sorry.

[00:06:18] Renee Pellegrino
Yeah, just a little sad about that. But, you know, that was that was always her. She always she wanted another puppy. So but, you
know, now she's with her dog. She's with her dogs now. So I'm okay with that.

[00:06:37] Toni Kirkland
We're definitely sorry for the recent events.

[00:06:41] Renee Pellegrino
Thank you.

[00:06:45] Toni Kirkland
So talking about your books, you. Have written or been a part of, I think, 11 books. Yes, so far. And in your debut was because of

[00:07:01] Renee Pellegrino
Correct? Yes.

[00:07:07] Renee Pellegrino
I wrote that. That story started I was in college and we were supposed to write a suspense story and and I thought, well, everybody's
going to be going on, don't like killing. And they're going to do like a horror, like a ghost story and stuff like that. All of a sudden, these
two people popped in my head. One was in the hotel room and one was standing outside and it was raining. And these two people
loved each other. And it just compelled me to to wonder what had happened. Why? Why are they separated? And then the story just
came alive and I just absolutely fell in love with it. And then I think, like any anything any other writer has, it's like you're meeting like
your characters for the first time and you have to learn about them. And this story was just it just turned out to be it was just so much
fun to write. I, I enjoyed it. And I was only going to do one book and then I did the other one and then I did another one. And it's just
like I just couldn't. I found it hard to leave that place, that that storyline. So but yeah, I was, I was I loved writing that story. It was so
much fun.

[00:08:27] Toni Kirkland
So I know in that story the characters moved between Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Do you have I know you have a connection to
Pennsylvania because you live there. Do you also have a connection to Kentucky?

[00:08:41] Renee Pellegrino
Not really, no. I always wanted to go. I, my friend Cindy, always said that my heart is in Kentucky because. No, I just I, I wanted to go
to college there, to the University of Kentucky. I wanted to go there instead of going to Penn State. But. I couldn't go because I
couldn't afford it, because it's like out of state and stuff like that. So I just stayed at Penn State because like, I was like, Penn State is
not much of a. For writing college, and I wanted to go to a place where I could extend my writing, get like, you know, learn different
things with writing and stuff. And I. I want and I wanted to go to the UK and that's just how that story popped up about her going to the
UK. It's just the same thing. It's just like her and I actually went down when I was I was supposed to meet one of my friends, Cindy
Carver, and and she's also she also wrote Missing Locket with me. We went and I went down to meet her and I actually it was so neat
because I took the same road to Danielle did, and it was just so neat for me to actually do that. It was just cool the way that it was just
cool the way that how it went, because I actually went the same the same way that Danielle would have went to go back to her, start
her new life, you know? So it was a lot of fun. And then I just fell in love with Kentucky.

[00:10:12] Renee Pellegrino
You know. Yeah.

[00:10:16] Renee Pellegrino
And plus, there's lots of there.

[00:10:19] Toni Kirkland
So I know. And that missing locket isn't available on Amazon anymore. But the characters from Because of You are in it. Was it? Was
there any challenges in writing it in a different. Story in setting kind of way.

[00:10:42] Renee Pellegrino
What we when we when we started work, when we started, when we wrote the missing locket, because like I said, Cindy Cindy
Carver also wrote it also, Coco co-wrote it with me. What we wanted to do is, is because we wanted like, she has her psychic. It's her
her psychic detective, and it's my character's going to seek an answer. And that's where we want it. Because even though it has two
different styles to it, two different voices, we kind of wanted it to be like that, to actually have people see, okay, well, they're here, and
they could go and look at Cindy's book or they could go look at my book if they like the characters. And it was just to expand. It's just
kind of like what we call a bridge novel so that they could see two different it's two different types of characters are coming together
for one short story.

[00:11:42] Renee Pellegrino
And we kind of wanted it to make there because she was a psychic, because Tracy was a psychic. And Danielle and Kelly wanted to
find what happened to Sam's mother. And that's how that they come together for it is to find out what happened to Elaine.

[00:12:03] Toni Kirkland
I definitely sounds like an interesting story and kind of fun to.

[00:12:08] Renee Pellegrino
It was it was head locking because she would say one thing and I would do it something different. I'd be like, No, no, no, no. It was
fun. And there was a few there's a few times that we got mad, not mad at each other, but okay, time out, Time out. But, you know, but
it was fun. And it was we finished it and we got it out there. So it was. It was. And it also bridges to her stories, her future stories and
my future story. So we also did that as well. It's through that short novel. It was just something we wanted to try to do something

[00:12:45] Toni Kirkland
But I'm all for different. And that definitely is a fun way to be different.

[00:12:53] Renee Pellegrino
Or do you send it to anybody that's interested into it? I can send it to them. We did take it down and I can send it to them because we
do do it for my newsletter. I do it as a since they sign up for my newsletter, they do get that book. They do get that short story for free.

[00:13:12] Toni Kirkland
All right. You all heard it here. Sign up for our newsletter so that y'all can get. The free book of Missing Locket.

[00:13:21] Renee Pellegrino
Yeah, that's the only way. That's how I have it set up, because different stories, you know, we just, you know, I just we just talked
about it and we just say, well, we'll just do that because it's only a short story. It adds a little bit longer than a short story, but it is. We
just wanted to see if we can't get if we can't. No, this book is really good. And it was. And that's what it was intended to was to bridge
to the other stories. So and, you know, we actually when we went out, when we went down to where in Carlisle, she came we came
for a book event, we gave one of the stewardess the book. She came in the next day and said, You had me bawling. And Cindy and I
gave each other a high five. So you know, some things you're proud of when that happens. Just like, yep, that's what we wanted.
Good. And it was a high five, so we felt, you know, you feel good about it when when people read your stuff and they actually
comment on it, you know? Yeah. You know, when they said that to us, we heard we waited until the stewardess walked away and
gave each other a high five.

[00:14:35] Toni Kirkland
So it's nice to be able to wait until she was walked away.

[00:14:39] Renee Pellegrino
Yeah, we did wait.

[00:14:40] Renee Pellegrino
Yeah, yeah, we did wait. We waited, you know, and we looked at each other and we went, Yeah.

[00:14:46] Renee Pellegrino
Because that's what we wanted.

[00:14:48] Renee Pellegrino
So. But little things that we did. Little things we did that was just funny because I remember that it was just like we looked each other,
went give each other high five. So it was, it's kind of neat.

[00:15:03] Toni Kirkland
It's awesome. So not directly collaborating together on the same story, but collaborating with other authors. You've been in five
different anthologies or collections at this point. I think I got that number right. How is. How is that? How is working with different

[00:15:30] Renee Pellegrino
And I think because you really don't talk to the other authors, do you? I mean, your anthology is yours, like your story is yours. And
I've never like Carla North like her. And I became like her and I started talking and she's need to talk to you. And but as for, like,
working with a different, I think that everybody, when you're working as an anthology, you know, working for an anthology, I think
you're so worried about your story that there's no time to there's no time to really socialize with the other authors if you if that makes
sense. You know, I haven't had I mean, I mean, I've had friends. I've gotten friends like talk to other people in different stuff like that.
But as to working with other authors, you know, I was excited when I was excited for my very first one anthology, and it was called
Cabin Fever. It was with the writing Support Sisters. I don't even think that it's online anymore. It used to be on Facebook, but that
was our first anthology and I had known everybody, so it was kind of really cool because we all got along, you know? And when we
released it, we were so excited. But then I was like, Oh, I like anthology. I liked writing the anthology. And I thought, Oh, I have to go
find more. So and that's how I branched out.

[00:16:54] Toni Kirkland
We created a monster.

[00:16:56] Renee Pellegrino
Yes, yes, yes. So, yeah, And I was just like, you know, you want, you know, and it also when you're going with a different anthology
and and different types of genres expands you as being a writer, as an author, because it's sometimes it gets boring when you write
the same type of story all the time, and the anthologies give you an opportunity to change it up a little bit. And you as the writer
creating it, it it, it doesn't make you bored either, you know? And that's how I think about it, because, like, I didn't know anything about
a romcom and I'm like, What is it? And so I had to go figure it out. And I thought, Oh yeah, I can do that. I just didn't want to. I just
don't want to put myself in a set, a set corner. I just whatever pops in my head is what I really like to do. You know, this is how things
go. This is how I do it, you know?

[00:17:58] Toni Kirkland
Yeah, No, I agree. It's definitely. Fun to be able to go to different genres and see what you come up with. Or like you said, if you're
just sitting there and an idea pops in your head to be able to run with it instead of just being like, Oh, well, that's interesting, but I don't
know how I would do that. So. You just write it off.

[00:18:27] Renee Pellegrino
I was sitting at McDonald's one day and a story just popped up in my head. I mean, I was waiting for a coke. There was like a long
line and I just wanted to I'm a I'm a McDonald's Coke junkie. And I was waiting in line. I was waiting in line at the drive thru to get one.
And the story popped in my head and they're like, you know, And I didn't realize it was my turn. I didn't realize it was my turn to make
the order. I was too busy trying to write this story because it just popped in my head waiting for it. And I was like, And they're like, And
there's people behind me honking at me. So and it was like, Oh, sorry, you know? But it was just kind of funny that that story just
popped up at a McDonald's drive thru. Yeah.

[00:19:14] Toni Kirkland
I think the best story is just kind of pop out of nowhere.

[00:19:18] Renee Pellegrino
Yeah, you could be walking and boom, there's a story.

[00:19:22] Renee Pellegrino
You know?

[00:19:25] Toni Kirkland
Um. So you also have to stand alone. The Rewrite and Karma girl.

[00:19:33] Renee Pellegrino
Yes, Karma Girl is going to someday expand into an actual bigger novel. Karma Girl is basically based on actually her name is
Karma and she goes in and she she is hired like, say someone. I actually have it. Lancelot is actually her first victim and he's sitting in
a bar and he's like a womanizer. Like he dumps people, Like he only goes like two weeks out with someone and he dumps that
person. And so what I did was, is someone hired her to give back to him what he's done to other women. And that's how the story
gets started. And so there is this newspaper guy, Phillip. He is actually he's looking for the next story. He's like, kind of like looking for
something to excite him. And so he goes into this bar and he actually gets so drunk, he has to go into the woman's bathroom and he
sees this this carving in the bathroom stalls want revenge called Karma Girl. So he he gets curious to see what he gets curious to
find out who this woman is and if she really exists. And that's how the story goes.

[00:21:02] Toni Kirkland
I like it.

[00:21:04] Renee Pellegrino
Yeah. You know, like, actually, you know, karma is supposed to be your judge and jury. So she actually karma is is his judge and
jury. You know, she passes on to him what he has done to others. So, yeah. And rewrite was it's actually based on it's kind of like a a
past life story. And what it actually is is that this woman, she was young and she she met up with this guy named Michael. And she
always like the very moment that they sat together, the very moment that they met, she remembers a past life with him. And so even
in this life, like she tries to like they have, like she remembers a story and starts to write this story about her and Michael. And what
happens is, is that he doesn't love her that way. So they both go on to their own lives. And then at the very end of he gets into a car
accident and basically he asked the universe, where have I gone wrong? And then that's when that's when Savannah comes back in
his life. And it's basically Savannah that what he did to Savannah was where was where he went wrong telling Savannah that he
didn't love her and when he actually did so. And that's how I have that story written.

[00:22:44] Renee Pellegrino

[00:22:46] Toni Kirkland
I'm I'm pretty sure that I've asked the universe a couple of times, where did I go wrong to get where I am?

[00:22:51] Renee Pellegrino
Yeah. I mean, it's like he's like Michael's like, he works for, like, a plastic shoe, like a shoe factory or whatever. I can't really.

[00:22:59] Renee Pellegrino
Remember. Right.

[00:23:02] Renee Pellegrino
He can't really remember. I mean, he can't he like his life is like and he has, like, this old beat up car and he and he doesn't have a
girlfriend anymore. He went through three different wives. He was married three times. And so he asked the universe what he did
wrong. And so the universe gave him the answer, you know.

[00:23:25] Toni Kirkland
Well. That was nice of you to. Write him a rewrite.

[00:23:32] Renee Pellegrino
Yeah. And then basically that's what she says to him. I've always wanted I, you know, she was waiting for him to come back to her,
you know? I mean, she always wanted to change that one moment of him telling her that she didn't love him, that she always wanted
that rewrite. So and that's how that story got done.

[00:23:52] Renee Pellegrino

[00:23:55] Toni Kirkland
All right. Well, that's close to about our time. But I want to jump back on you researching romcoms because you were part of a.
Anthology that came out the last day of December. Misfire at midnight.

[00:24:13] Renee Pellegrino
Oh, yeah. That story is it's called The Great Gamble, and it's about Sophia Jones. She doesn't have a job and she's broke. And so
she needs to get a job. And she does. So she comes back to her hometown and she she wants to do it. She wants to do a different
job. So she decides that she's going to be a wedding planner. And what happens is they said, well, that's not no one's going to
believe you because you're basically mayhem and havoc to that town. And no one is going to you know, no one was going to do it.
So she decided that the only way to to get people to see what she can do is to actually do a real wedding. And the only thing is that
she doesn't have the groom. So that's how I have that story started.

[00:25:09] Toni Kirkland
Well, that could be problematic.

[00:25:11] Renee Pellegrino
Yeah. And basically so she hires somebody and that the person that she hired actually was Harrison. And basically and I kind of
looks like a young Harrison Ford. I it popped up in my head he had to because I love Harrison Ford when he was in Star Wars. So I
had to do that. I had to do that part. I had to put a Harrison Ford in there. I don't know why. So basically he comes back to marry her
to do this fake wedding. And at the very end, I'm not going to tell you about the end. It turns out that basically, basically. Them. That
he finally realizes that he did love her So and then basically the the fake wedding, you know, they get the fake wedding. So and other
things happen in the story, too.

[00:26:07] Toni Kirkland
The homecoming, is it? Coming out this month.

[00:26:13] Renee Pellegrino
It's coming out next month. I because of my current situation, because it was kind of it's been kind of hard two months, I had to
postpone it. I kept being able to get it done. So it is coming out in February nine. It is almost done. But I had a little bit of a delay and I
can't wait for people to read it. It's actually based on a true story. It is based on and the 2005, a guy came and a guy came into a bar.
There were three people there. And basically because it was 2:00 in the morning, they couldn't serve beer. So he got mad and left.
And actually he waited for these people and shot these people. And the thing is, is no one has actually said it, but it was basically the
mafia. It was basically a mafia hit that that goes back to the 1973. It's kind of like there's a whole bunch of different there's a whole
bunch of different stories. There's a storyline that that the guy who shot everybody is basically getting back for what? Getting them
back. Getting this this family, this mafia back to. He's trying. He's trying to revenge. It's basically a revenge shot shooting. So and
then I basically go into that. And that's the part of the story that brings everybody back together. Mateo, is he? Him and Lydia have
been friends. They've been boyfriend and girlfriend for years. And basically when she decides that he asks her to marry him and she
wanted to go to college and he wanted to see the world. And so when she comes back after her brother was shot, they start to
rekindle their relationship through all of. Learning about the mafia, the connections to the Mafia, what her family has, connections to
the Mafia and. And so that's how the story goes.

[00:28:23] Toni Kirkland
Okay, so everybody mark February 9th, because that sounds really interesting.

[00:28:29] Renee Pellegrino
It is. And like I said, it is a true story. It is based on a true story. No family members. It is based on just in case that they read this one,
if they're listening to this one. There's no family member that I related it to. So don't worry, guys. But yeah, it's been really different
because I put a lot of my family's traditions. I put a lot of my family traditions in there because I am Italian and because there is like an
Altoona. The there's traces of the way, like how different cultures were based on and what basically there was like a like a part like a,
like a section of Italians and there was section part of Germans, German, Germans, and you could actually see it and there's only a
little bit left of it, but you can still see where segregation actually happened. And it's just kind of neat the way that that's the way
Altoona was set up. And it was just kind of it's just kind of neat to go back, you know, back into the history and actually see now what
Altoona and what your family is, you know.

[00:29:42] Toni Kirkland
That sounds like really intense, but very interesting research.

[00:29:50] Renee Pellegrino
Yeah. And my cousin Theresa was actually the one that helped me. She's the family historian. If it wasn't for her, I probably wouldn't
know. But I basically, if she sent me all the information that I needed because she. Because actually our. My uncle was the head of
the mafia, so he was my half uncle. And so that's how I. That's how we knew all this stuff, because we kept everything and all the
information and stuff like that. So, yeah, my family was in the my uncle was, so I wasn't. None of my family members were, but he
was a part of. The Mafia like in 1973.

[00:30:30] Renee Pellegrino

[00:30:32] Toni Kirkland
All right, So nobody make Renee mad. She's got connections. But I want to thank you, Renee, for taking time out to talk with us and
tell us a little bit about more about you and your books and let us know about the person behind the stories.

[00:30:56] Renee Pellegrino
Thank you for for letting me talk about them. I could talk forever about them. So thank you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Birdy Rivers Interview on our Podcast


Birdy Rivers is an award-winning author. She was born in NJ and now resides in GA with her family. She has been writing since her teens and professionally writing since her mid-twenties. When she isn't writing she is raising her three daughters whom she jokingly refers to as her baby dragons and spending time with family and friends. Before Birdy became a full-time Author and Editor she worked as a Medical Assistant. She enjoys reading, the outdoors, gaming with her hubby, and music. Music and writing have served as therapeutic measures for her depression and anxiety. Birdy is a huge mental health advocate and often features the struggles of mental health in her stories. 


Transcript generated with Sonix

[00:00:00] Toni Kirkland
This is Toni with the Hidden Bookstore Club, and I am here with author Birdie Rivers, who writes Paranormal romance. And how are
you today, Bertie?

[00:00:11] Birdy Rivers
I am good. How are you?

[00:00:14] Toni Kirkland
Trying to stay warm?

[00:00:16] Birdy Rivers
Yes. Warm and awake. Well, I'm trying to stay awake.

[00:00:21] Toni Kirkland
Oh, that would be nice. I have coffee. Coffee?

[00:00:24] Birdy Rivers
I had I had Starbucks this morning. I needed the extra. Were the at home Coffee just isn't quite going to cut it. You need the there's
something magical, right, about going out and getting your coffee. There's something extra that makes it feel better inside. So that
was that was my on my agenda today. I was like, I need Starbucks.

[00:00:45] Toni Kirkland
There is something magical about Starbucks. I don't know how they make their coffee, but that is not it is magical.

[00:00:53] Birdy Rivers
And actually Starbucks was my first job that I started that I worked when I was 16 until about 19 when I started college. And it was a
fun place to work. I'm not going to lie. Like, I don't know if it's still like that. I mean, we're talking it's been a hot minute, so, you know,
I'm no longer 16, so we're talking over ten plus years. So I have no idea what it is to work there now. But when I worked there, it was
a lot of fun. And like, I wish I figured out the magic to their coffee other than just. It's really tasty.

[00:01:24] Toni Kirkland
Yes. I need you to go back and work at Starbucks so we can figure this out.

[00:01:32] Birdy Rivers
No. Right. Well, I'll make coffee or, like, drinks for people, and they're like, Why do you make them so fancy? And I'm like, I worked at
Starbucks for like three and a half years. Okay. It's like inbred it in my brain to, like, be a barista, you know? And, like, not that I could
do, like, fancy coffee art or anything like that, but, you know, like, I know how to make a drink look pretty.

[00:01:53] Toni Kirkland
It's an experience. That's why we make it look pretty.

[00:01:57] Birdy Rivers

[00:02:01] Toni Kirkland
Ok, so let's start off. You have you have a stand alone, which is the voice of the sea. And then you have three. Series, The Shattered
Series Children, the Empire Series. And the Coven Legacy Series.

[00:02:18] Birdy Rivers

[00:02:21] Toni Kirkland
And then the heaven and the crow just got the runner up Craft award.

[00:02:29] Birdy Rivers
Yes. Yeah, they that was really exciting to get that. I'm hoping to make it to the award ceremony that they do. I think it's sometime in
the spring or summer. I think it's going to be in Louisiana. So hopefully. Well, they have to. Have enough participants to do it in
person with all the COVID guidelines and stuff. So hopefully enough people are interested in doing the actual award ceremony
because I think that would be really fun to participate in. So I did get like all the stickers and the official certificate and all that good
stuff. So but I think an actual ceremony would be really fun to participate in.

[00:03:14] Toni Kirkland
Ceremonies are fun. I've held one before and it was super fun. That's part of what I want to do in 2024, too, is I'm going to start my
own awards with the Hidden Bookshelf Club, and there will be a ceremony where people can get their awards.

[00:03:33] Birdy Rivers
Yes, I'm definitely all for that. Making it makes it feel official and I think it makes it feel more real, if that makes sense. Like it's like one
thing to, like, get the stickers and like, your official certificate, but it's like another thing to actually participate in a ceremony where
you're getting an award, hand it to you and it feels more like realistic and real at that point for some reason.

[00:03:58] Toni Kirkland
And it gives us a reason to get gussied up.

[00:04:01] Birdy Rivers
Exactly. And when you're a mom, I feel like as a mom, I don't I don't get to dress up all that often or like wear makeup or do anything.
And kudos to all the moms who actually do get up and do their hair and makeup, because I don't have that kind of energy. But I
applaud those that do.

[00:04:23] Toni Kirkland
Yeah, my. There is no makeup on this space this morning.

[00:04:29] Birdy Rivers
No, no, I hardly I have makeup, but I couldn't tell you the last time I actually put it on, like I think it may have been for, like. Goodness
gracious. I think it may have been for the twins like first birthday party three years ago. So, yeah, it's been a hot minute since I've
actually put makeup on and done my hair and, you know, put other than I like to call them bum clothes, you know, like sweatpants or
pajama pants. And a t shirt.

[00:05:05] Birdy Rivers
Maybe you can call them bum. It's fine. Yeah. Total bum clothes. I can't even tell you the last time I've worn, like, jeans or anything
like that. We just stick to leggings and sweatpants and all that good stuff because it's easier.

[00:05:19] Toni Kirkland
So I know that on your. Heaven series, the last book you put in that the Coven series itself was finished, but there was going to be a
spinoff. Can you tell us a little bit about your spinoff.Series that you're going to start?

[00:05:34] Birdy Rivers
Yes. So the last book of the series is going to be released early next year, probably end of January. At the beginning of February. It's
complete. It's off to the editor now. So it kind of depends on how quick she can go through it. So that will be the last book and that
one's new era. And so just kind of to briefly go over the series so each book can be read as a standalone, but I suggest you read
them all because it helps you kind of gauge the world that's created. So the first each book features a different couple, but obviously
the couples from the previous books make their own know. They make appearances throughout. So the first book is, is about
orientation. They're the the main couple that kind of constantly reappears. And then the next three books in the series, Ghost Opera,
Mayhem and Death and New Era are about their kids. So each kid gets their own book. And then the spinoff series is going to be the
legacy continues, and that is going to be about the grandkids or the kids kids. So I have that in the works. It's basically my goal is to
basically have it as a series of different novels. So there will be a volume one and a volume two, and the first volume is going to
focus on Ever and Kai's children. And then the second part of it is going to focus all on Rebel's children.

[00:07:17] Birdy Rivers
So she had a little bit more than her siblings. So they kind of get their own and they're also separated for their own reasons because
they are in kind of a different world. And if you read the books, you kind of understand why they will be separated and why they're in
different realms. So I'm really excited about that one. I've got the first part of it in the works. I've actually started writing it and getting it
going, and that will those two will definitely be released next year. After New ERA comes out. One will probably be released in the
spring and then one will be released in the summer. And I'm kind of interesting because I've never really done it like a collection of
like novels and together to release it will be kind of like an anthology, but just all written by me, if that makes sense. Just no different
authors, just me. But I'm excited to do it this way. I didn't want to do each one like an actual book because I felt it would just be kind of
dragging it out a little too much. And I want to tell their stories, but I don't want it to feel like it's dragged out. And so I decided to do
them kind of like short novels and then publish a couple together and then do kind of a volume one and a volume two. So I'm pretty
excited about that.

[00:08:43] Birdy Rivers
I really have enjoyed this series. It's probably no, it is my favorite series that I've ever written so far. I've enjoyed it, I've enjoyed the
characters. There's a lot of myself in these characters, especially Ari. She is kind of a carbon copy of me, and Zane is kind of a
carbon copy of my fiance. So I put a lot of me and my experiences into these particular characters and storylines. So I very much
enjoyed writing the series and it's definitely probably the more popular of my series so far. So I've really enjoyed this series and so I
was kind of sad to have the main series end, but then I was like, I'm going to do a spinoff series. So when the spinoff series ends, I'm
probably going to be kind of like a not disappointed, but it's going to be like the closing of an error, if that makes sense. You're going
to have empty nest syndrome. Yes, Yes. With my books. Yeah. But there's always new ones to be written. I'm always working on like
even now I'm working on. So for like Voice of the Sea and the Children of the Empire, those are all retellings. So Children of the
Empire is retelling of Snow White, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. All, all of them interact. It's kind
of if anyone's ever watched Once Upon a Time, it's kind of that kind of concept where they all interact in their own world type thing.

[00:10:23] Birdy Rivers
So you get to see the multiple princesses interacting and their stories intertwined. And then Voice of the Sea is The Little Mermaid. I
kind of felt like that was obvious, but to put that out there, so that's my Little Mermaid retelling. I will have a Red Riding Hood retelling
that I'm planning on releasing probably towards the end of 2023. And that one's going to be called Hunting My Wolf. And that is a. It
is. And when I say retellings, these are all kind of like loose retellings, if that makes sense. They're not exact retellings. They're more
just kind of loose retellings of them. And another one that I have in the works is kind of an Aladdin retelling, and this one was probably
the more looser of all of the retellings that I've ever done. But it's going to have elements. You're going to see things and you're going
to be like, Oh, that's you know, this, you're relate it back. And if you're a big Disney nerd like me, you're going to probably relate
things back to the Disney version of things, even though there's obviously more than one, the Disney version is the more popular
version, but there are multiple versions of of the fairy tales out there. So I like to pull from all the different versions of the fairy tales,
not just the Disney version. So I usually spend a good amount of time researching all the different fairy tales and their different
different stories across the different cultures and things like that, and kind of pull them on, pull it all in.

[00:11:59] Birdy Rivers
And then obviously I add my own little twists to it. So I will have a couple of retellings coming out next year. But the big thing is
completing the Completing the Coven series and getting the spin off complete two and then releasing a couple of other ones. And
then I do have books on some of the reading apps like Good Novel and I Reader and places like that that are kind of I write as I go.
They're not necessarily complete. I mean, they obviously eventually end up being complete, but when they start them off, they're not
usually complete. It's just kind of I write as I go, which is totally different than releasing the books out on Amazon and having it all
complete. And I like both styles. It's so depending on the story, like when I'm coming up with a story, my, my always debated is, okay,
is this going to be an Amazon story that I'm going to release on Amazon and Barnes and Noble? Or is this going to be like a reading
app story that I'm just going to kind of work on as I go and put them out there as I go? So I will have a couple new stories going out on
the reading apps next year as well.

[00:13:14] Toni Kirkland
Busy, busy.

[00:13:15] Birdy Rivers
Very busy with the three kiddos and all the and all my writing. But I feel like if I'm not busy then I'm in my own head. And, you know, I
don't know if you like me, but I don't like being in my head, so. I like. To keep. Busy.

[00:13:15] Toni Kirkland
so if someone was new to reading paranormal romance books, which book would you hand them to start with of yours?

[00:13:49] Birdy Rivers
I would hand them the Coven series because. It's kind of classical paranormal romance. In the sense that there is a lot of different
elements that get brought into the series. There's tons of one off tons, but there's different supernatural's in there. It's not just
warlocks. So the premise of the story is warlocks that have shifters as their familiars. So for Ari, she is a lycan. Zane is a warlock, but
he's also a little bit more than that. He is a demigod. So there's a kind of a Greek mythology hint throughout the series of you kind of
get the vibes of like a. Not an Olympic spy that you get. There's the five, which are your main gods. So you have the main 12 Gods of
Olympus, So you have the main five that cover that are the main gods. You get a little bit of other supernatural like gargoyles and
phoenixes. Unicorns come into play. Dragons will be coming into play. In the spinoff series. You get different types of hybrids. So in
Ghost Opera, you get a. A ghost human hybrid. And then Zane and Ari's children are hybrids. So you get a warlock or witch hybrid
mixed with Lycans. So there's a lot of fun and different elements that kind of go into play. And of course, it's spicy. So those who like
the smutty books will enjoy them. I would also say Voice of the Sea is pretty good, but it's a little bit darker, so you have to be a little
bit prepared for that one. So if you're not necessarily into a darker retelling or a darker story, that one might not be for you. So that's
why I say Coven, because even though there's like smutty, smutty scenes and stuff, it's it's not there's some darker undertones like
you will see, like there is the whole alpha male vibe going on there with like your submissive female vibe, who's also kind of a badass
heroine at the same time. So it's a little bit more kind of friendly to, to all types of tropes, if that makes sense.

[00:16:45] Toni Kirkland
So would you give the coven also to someone who has decided that paranormal romance is their genre and they read it often?

[00:16:56] Birdy Rivers
Yes, I would, because so it's a great I like the series because it's a great introductory into paranormal if you are looking to be
introduced into the genre. But it's also good for people who love the genre because it is classic. It does have a lot of great paranormal
elements, like I said, with like bringing in the different supernatural species, the different shifters. There's a hybrid factor, there's a
whole soul mate factor of kind of if you take like the werewolf concept of fate, it mates, but they don't call them fat inmates except for
the actual Lycans and werewolves that exist in the world. There's multiple realms. Each story is a little different, you know, there's
different aspects to it. There's other demigods that get bought in throughout the series. So it's it's a kind of to me, I feel like it's like a
classical paranormal romance, that it has all the right elements to make it a great introductory to the to the genre. But it's also that
classic that makes it like you enjoy it. So you just want to enjoy a classic paranormal romance because, you know, a lot of times with
paranormal romance, especially now, a lot of people. Get a little crazy with it. And that's not bad because I know I definitely have
gotten my crazy versions of paranormal romance that I've written, but sometimes it's nice to have that classic just, you know. What
you originally got into the genre for, if that makes if that makes sense.

[00:18:36] Toni Kirkland
Yeah. I mean, you want those people. You want both of them. You want the people who are just getting into it to be able to enjoy it,
but also the seasoned veterans of the genre to find enjoyment in it as well.

[00:18:52] Birdy Rivers
Exactly. And it's it's like I said, it's a fun series. It's a good series. There's a lot of different elements. Each book in the series has
something a little different for each paranormal, you know, offer something to each paranormal lover, you know? So there's, you
know, hybrids, There's different types of shifters that get brought in. There's the demigod factor, there's multiple realms. There is a
werewolf slash like in factor, like, I don't know, I'm a big werewolf, like in person. Like they're definitely in my favorite top number one
supernatural out of all of them. So I do write a lot of werewolf and like in romance, but I do obviously like to add in other other things
like warlocks and witches and different shifters like phoenixes and unicorns, gargoyles. So and I like that this series has a little bit of
everything in there. Like it's not just focused on one type of supernatural. A lot of paranormal romances focus on just like one or two
supernatural races. They might mention a few others. You know, they might get brought into conversation. But this really does
feature several different types of shifters, different hybrids, warlocks, witches. So you get a lot of different different things in it. So
each book is a little brings a little something new to the table, brings us something a little new, interesting, a new supernatural to kind
of explore and see different powers, different abilities for each thing. So it's very it's very spread out with what it has, and it's spread
out in a good way where you're getting a little bit of everything and not just kind of. One or two things. It's kind of bringing everything

[00:20:48] Toni Kirkland
So I hear the little newborn in the background.

[00:20:53] Birdy Rivers
Yes, she is not same. She doesn't know what she wants. She's like she doesn't know if she wants the bottle, the binky. She's just
trying to figure out her baby life.

[00:21:04] Toni Kirkland
How has it changed things to be juggling a newborn, a set of twins, and trying to be an author?

[00:21:12] Birdy Rivers
It is a challenge. When I started, I started writing probably seven years ago, and so that was a long time before kids came into the
picture. And then I kind of took a break because I moved to Georgia. I was restarting in a new area and then I ended up meeting my
now fiancee and we have our kiddos. And so when the girls got introduced into the picture, I think I started really, truly getting back
into writing when they were. A little over a year old and they kind of were getting into like the whole fairy tale thing, getting into like the
Disney movies and stuff. And so rewatching all the Princess movies is kind of what inspired Children of the Empire to get me back
into being into writing mode. And then that's just kind of spurred everything on since then. Now it's like writing is, and writing is
definitely therapeutic for me. It really does help with like my anxiety and my depression and just, you know, a healthy coping
mechanism to express how I feel and now. So it's been interesting. Know, I found the balance with the twins and so now I have to find
a new balance with the new little edition. So I kind of I've been kind of taking a break, like I'm still writing and still working on things,
but I'm just not kind of like hardcore working through it, especially with the holidays, you know, literally right around the corner. Things
become a little bit more a. Cause, you know, there's more events to go to and things like that. So it is definitely a challenge to find a
new balance. And I totally forgot all about the newborn stage. And considering the twins are going to be four next month, totally forgot
about the newborn stage and the little demands that they have. And little Miss Mave is definitely a she's got some gas going on to
right now. So if you hear her, she's grunting, trying to figure that out. So it's been it's been interesting to figure to figure out a new
balance. But I still. I'm getting there. I'm figuring it out. I'm determined.

[00:23:33] Toni Kirkland
So you mentioned you had moved to Georgia a couple of years ago. What is a couple of the biggest differences you've noticed
between where you used to live in New Jersey to where you live now in Georgia?

[00:23:50] Birdy Rivers
So the biggest thing is southern hospitality is a real thing. It's a very different. Like up north is all at least where I come from. Up in up
north was very you know, everyone's in a rush. Everyone's go, go, go, go, go. Get out of my way. People don't really take the time to,
like, stop and talk or be sociable is just kind of everyone's doing their own thing, trying to get from point A to point B, and they don't
really appreciate it if you're in their way. It's just a very fast pace down here. It is slower, it's a little bit more relaxed. People are a lot
more sociable. I stopped and talk to strangers in Kroger or Wal Mart and had full fledged conversations for 45 minutes to an hour.
That does not usually happen up north unless you know the person personally. But people are very nice down here. They're just that
southern hospitality. There's a lot of just a lot more friendliness, slower pace, like not everyone's in a rush to get where everywhere
you can kind of take your time. There's a lot less horn honking, that's for sure. I mean, not so much when you get into Atlanta, you
know, that's a city, but in the suburbs there's a lot less horn, a lot lot less horn honking and just kind of people taking it easy. And I
kind of enjoy that. It's a lot less stressful. Then I will say that probably the next biggest thing is the food. So like. Down here is a lot of
comfort food. It's a lot of like your barbecue and you're like fried chicken and mac and cheese. And there's also like in this particular
area, I don't know about where you are up in north Georgia, but there's a lot of Mexican restaurants down like in my area. And I enjoy
Mexican food, so I'm all about it. But the barbecue fried chicken, like tons of just like comfort food where like up north, I feel like it's
like burgers and pizza and Philly cheesesteaks, which is not a bad thing. I enjoy all those things, but just definitely, like, different.
We're like, You have a barbecue place on every corner down here, up north. It's like you have a pizza place on every corner. There's
a lot more like mom and pop, like pizza shops and like bagel shops and sub shops up north. Where, like down here, I find there's
more like.

[00:26:20] Birdy Rivers
Small businesses in the sense that like the offering goods, you know what I mean? Like not necessarily food goods, but like it's their
personal own little store where they make their handmade crafts and things like that. So that's kind of a difference. Oh, my goodness,
child, We are just working out our life, aren't we? So there are definitely some differences, but I prefer living down here. I enjoy the
weather, I enjoy the environment a lot more. I'm definitely happy to be raising my kids down here a lot. I said when we were chatting a
little earlier, a lot of people always ask me and be like, Do you want to? Would you ever move back north? And I'm like, Absolutely
not. I just enjoy being in the south. That's kind of more my speed. And but there are definitely I obviously miss certain things, like I
miss I miss the pizza and I miss Philly pretzels because the soft pretzels down here or not, not the same. Actually. I don't even think
you can really find soft pretzels like unless you go to like quick check or something. But even that's not really a soft pretzel when
you've had like actual Philly soft pretzels or like, gone to New York and had a soft pretzel. But hey, we have really good barbecue
down here, so I will take that just as much. It's like a trade off if trading off a different foods.

[00:27:53] Toni Kirkland
I'm such a food junkie like I am.

[00:27:57] Birdy Rivers
Oh, my gosh. Food is like I'm all about food. Like food is food is life to me. I am. All about trying new foods, trying new restaurants. I'm
definitely a food person. I love to cook and I well, I like to bake, but I don't love to bake. I rather cook than bake. I pretty much. Bake. I
bake a lot for the holidays, like I did a whole bunch of like Christmas cookies and stuff like that. And I will make certain things from
scratch. But a lot of times I'll be honest, I bake from the box. But when it comes to cooking, I like to cook from scratch. I'm more of a
cooker than a baker.

[00:28:39] Toni Kirkland
Yeah. I am regaining my love for cooking.

[00:28:46] Birdy Rivers
I've always enjoyed cooking. I originally was going to go to culinary school and become a chef, but then I had decided that I didn't
really want to do that, that I was kind of like, I don't know. I was like, I rather just keep this as a hobby. So I ended up going to
becoming a medical assistant and working in the medical field for about 5 to 6 years before I moved down here. And then once I
moved down here, I kind of got out of the medical field and just kind of enjoyed, you know, kind of setting up everything. And then
before I knew it, I was having kids and I was like, I'm not going back to work any time soon, which is which was fine by me. I was I'm
happy to be a stay at home mom. And it actually gives me time to to work on my writing a little bit more to which is definitely my dream
and what I've always wanted to pursue since I was a teenager. So it's nice to be able to work on my dreams and kind of as much as I
enjoyed working in the medical field, it was it was nice to put it behind me.

[00:29:55] Toni Kirkland
You're speaking of medical. You're also a big advocate for mental health. Did that start when you were in a medical assistant or did
that start prior to that?

[00:30:07] Birdy Rivers
It started prior to that. I have depression, general anxiety and complex PTSD. So I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that
causes my depression. So for me, I have always struggled with mental illness. Like personally, it's just always been something that
has been in my life. And unfortunately I didn't really start working on it until my early twenties. Early to mid twenties, I would say is
when I really started getting like going to therapy and getting help and doing DVT and really just kind of getting it under control. So it
became really important to me because I realized a lot of the reason why I never got help sooner was because of the stigma that
surrounds mental health. And not only that, but, you know, this concept that kids can't have depression or can't have anxiety or can't
have something, they're not allowed to have something wrong with them because I can't tell you how many times I was told as a
teenager, what do you have to be depressed about? What do you have to have anxiety about? You're just, you know, you don't have
any real problems. And how belittled it became. And it wasn't necessarily that I had problems, but there was a chemical imbalance in
my brain. And that's obviously not something that is related to a situation. A lot of my anxiety and my PTSD obviously comes from
traumatic events. And so like when you're reading like my books, you're there are certain things that you're going to be like, Oh crap.
And when you do those low crap moments, yes, the chances are that really did happen to me in some way, shape or form.

[00:32:05] Birdy Rivers
So I just as I became an adult and as I became more involved with my own mental health and getting the help that I needed, I just
became more of an advocate for people to speak up and to want to get the help. Before I moved, when I lived up in New Jersey, I was
part of a group. I originally started off in the group as like a member, but then I ended up helping the woman lead it and helping young
women, teenagers and stuff, and young adults who struggled with mental health and a variety of different ways. A lot of them either
had eating disorders or self-harmed. I was a big self Harmer as a teenager and in my early twenties I because I didn't know how to
cope like that, I didn't know how to deal with my with my mental health. So I had unhealthy coping mechanisms. And so the program
was really focused around helping the the young adults and the and the teenagers who were dealing with depression and anxiety
and PTSD from traumatic events, because this misconception that PTSD is just for soldiers or cops, yes, they definitely have PTSD,
but you can have it from any traumatic event in your life. And unfortunately for me, I've had many traumatic events, but they've all
made me a lot stronger in the end. So working with the youth and working with them and it really became a passion for me to bring
awareness and just kind of break that stigmatism that, you know.

[00:33:45] Birdy Rivers
You can't have problems as a teenager because especially nowadays, like I don't even know how I would survive being a teenager
nowadays, to be quite honest with social media. Like, social media was like barely a thing when I was in high school. Like, I think
MySpace came out when I was in high school. Like to be quite honest. Like it was totally a new thing. There wasn't any of the
cyberbullying. I mean, we had to deal with the classic bullying, you know, like where you had to be bullied in school. And that sounds
horrible to say, but like, that was how it was. But nowadays it's like you have you know, I would listen to these kids who would, you
know, who had to deal with cyberbullying. And I'm like, I don't know if I could survive. I like being a teenager nowadays, but it just
became a serious passion for me. And I'm just I'm all about it. And so, like, even in my books, like, a lot of my characters will deal with
some type of mental illness. And now even I've become really passionate for like autism because my daughter has got diagnosed
over the summer with being on the spectrum and just seeing the stigmatism that surrounds that. And it is something that I'm really
passionate about breaking as well because it's just, you know, there's such there's such beautiful little girls and a lot of people are
like, well, why don't you you know, I never like made the big social media announcement that my kids were diagnosed and people
are like, Well, why don't you do that? Are you ashamed? And I'm like, No, it's not because I'm ashamed, but I just want you to see
them for who they are.

[00:35:11] Birdy Rivers
You know, I don't want you to judge them based on a diagnosis. I want you to see them for who they are. And a lot of people, you
know, who I do tell that I talked to, you know, they're good friends or whatever. They're a lot of them are like, Oh, I don't see them
having that. That's because they see them for who they are and not for a diagnosis. And that's what I want for them. So that's kind of
why I'm a big I'm a big mental health advocate, big advocate for these types of things, just because I've dealt with it personally, I have
I lost my stepbrother to a heroin overdose. He struggled really hard with addiction, so I'm very passionate about helping people with
that, with with a lot with these types of things, reaching out and building that community, breaking that stigmatism that it's okay to get
help and still continue to this day. I mean, I still yes, I've gotten all my help, but I still struggle. I still have my bad days. And I know
when I need a therapeutic measure that's in a healthy therapeutic measure. And writing definitely serves as that for me. So I really
just want to bring awareness because I know the chances are someone out there who's reading is gone through it or is going through

[00:36:27] Toni Kirkland
Yeah, that definitely. That's very close to home. With all the things that I have in my past and people in my life, different things that
different people are dealing with or have dealt with. Yeah, I think. I think probably everybody knows. Somebody that is dealing with
something, whether they know, they know that that person or not. But yeah.

[00:36:54] Birdy Rivers
Yeah, everyone. And that's the thing. You know, a lot of people feel like they have to keep their their mental illness to themselves and
they have to suffer in silence. But that's just so unhealthy. And I didn't realize it was unhealthy. For the longest time I suffered in
silence. I just kept it all to myself and it became really damaging. And I developed unhealthy habits. You know, I developed self harm
habits that because I didn't know how else to cope, because I didn't feel because I was trying to handle it all on my own. And it
became, you know, I became toxic to myself, you know, that I just didn't know how to handle these things. And finally, I just kind of hit
a crossroads one day, like I think I was about 22, 23, and I was at my absolute worst with with harming myself. And I just kind of knew
I was on this path. And I was like, I kind of found myself at a crossroads where it was like, I either get help now or I'm going to end up
dead. Like, it was one of those type of crossroads. And I decided I was going to get help and I asked for help. And it wasn't easy. You
know, no one said asking for help is going to be an easy task, but it became really worth it in the long run. And I was really surprised
about the amount of people who rallied behind me and kind of helped me build a support system that I still have to this day.

[00:38:19] Toni Kirkland
Support is so big.

[00:38:21] Birdy Rivers
It really is like one of the you really do like. That's one of the things people teach you or like one of the big things I learned in like doing
therapy and stuff was like having a support system. And it's definitely it definitely important. And like there are people who are going
to come and go and your support system for one reason or another. But it's always important to have a support.

[00:38:45] Toni Kirkland
System that is and. Staying with the support, but flipping a little bit on the topic, what is some advice you would give to a new author
or somebody who wants to be an author?

[00:39:00] Birdy Rivers
So my big thing is a lot of people get I find when I'm talking to people who want to write or are just starting out, they don't. They either
don't think they can do it or they don't have the talent to do it. Um, or they're kind of, Well, what if no one likes what I write or things
like that? My thing is. Write what you want to write, because there's going to be somebody who's going to want to read it. You might
not think that, but there are hundreds of different types of readers out there, and there is a genre for everybody. Literally, I mean, with
all the different genres and sub genres, there is something out there and you can find a genre that you want to write in and what you
want to write in. There's going to be somebody who's going to want to read it, but most importantly, just write, even if it's not perfect
the first time. Like trust me, like my first couple of books. And even now when I start a book, it's not perfect. It definitely you have to go
back and tweak it and rewrite and do things like that. There's definitely a lot less rewriting for me now because I've been doing it for
so long and I've gotten myself a system where I can develop my plots and characters pretty easily, but I still have to go back and edit
and add things, take things away. I hate the way that was worded, what was I thinking? Type moments. But the important thing is that
I'm writing, that I'm getting the words out and it doesn't have to be perfect. There's this. I feel like like my one friend who is just getting
started on her writing journey.

[00:40:40] Birdy Rivers
She has this concept that everything has to be perfect the first time she puts it down on. And it's like it doesn't have to be perfect. It's
okay. If it's not perfect, you're going to go back and rewrite it anyway, or you're going to go back over and edit and you can change it.
But if you're getting the story out there, you're getting your flow, you're developing your characters. I have notebooks galore in my
house. Like literally every book gets a notebook of some sort where I can and different things. Every story is different. There's not like
not every story is done the same way I do every story a little different, but I always have a notebook for it for how it's going to go. So if
you're writing, if you're doing it, that's the important part. Don't worry about it being perfect. You're going to go back, you're going to
edit it, you're going to rewrite it. And don't worry about like people I've heard people be like, Well, I don't want to rewrite it, but you
have to rewrite it. Like every one of us does a little bit of rewriting in our books. It's just how it goes. Even the best selling authors, they
still go back and rewrite parts of their books, even if it's just one line that's still technically rewriting.

[00:41:50] Birdy Rivers
So as long as you're writing, as long as you're doing it like and and people will be like, Oh, I want to do it because I want to write a
bestseller or I want to make money. And I'll be honest with you. Not everybody writes a best seller, but that doesn't mean your book
isn't good. Just trust me. I've read bestseller and there's and I've read them and I've sometimes I'm like, Yeah, I can see why this is a
bestseller. And then there's other times where I'm like, I don't understand why this is a bestseller, so don't go in with these goals that
you're going to write bestsellers. And if you don't make a bestseller list, it means your book's not good. That's totally not true. And
also, chances are you're not going to make a lot of money right away if you make a lot of money. I know that sounds horrible to say,
but I feel like writing has to be your passion and it has to be something you want to do because you want to do it, not because you're
trying to get something from it. If that if that if that makes sense. It's not to discourage anybody. It's just don't go into this with the
wrong goals in mind because you might end up disappointed if you do.

[00:42:53] Toni Kirkland
Yes, there has to be some passion behind it or you're not going to get through those mundane times when things aren't moving like
you want them to.

[00:43:05] Birdy Rivers
Yes. Yes. You're going to have someone like I have someone where like I really greet and I'm like, yay, income. And then there's
some months where I'm like, Oh, no, what happened? Why is no one reading or why is no one buying? But like, it's not because it's
just it's how it is. Like some months are going to be better than others. It's just how it goes, unfortunately. And then on those months
later, it's not going super great. You get hard on yourself. You're like, you get that imposter syndrome starts to creep in and you have
to remind yourself that you're doing like I am always, constantly like, okay, but I'm not doing it for this reason. I'm doing it because I
like to write. This is my passion, this is my therapy. I'm doing this because I want to do it and not because I'm looking to get
something from it. I mean, it's nice when I get something from it, but it's definitely not always the case.

[00:43:55] Toni Kirkland
Well, Birdy, I've really enjoyed our conversation. Before we let you go, what book is on your nightstand right now?

[00:44:05] Birdy Rivers
So I am reading Come True by Brandi Quinn. It's a Jeannie paranormal romance that's on my Kindle right now. I hardly feel like I
hardly buy paperbacks anymore. I wish. I wish I had more room. I need to find a house where I can build my own library. But I. That's
what I'm currently reading right now. And I am really enjoying it. I wish I could read at a faster pace. I'm like, I wish I could read like I
did back before I had kids. But, you know, that's I read everyone's like, Do you sit reading goals? I'm like, No, I read what I want to
now because half the time I feel like I'm lucky that I have a chance to read for 5 minutes.

[00:44:50] Toni Kirkland
Same. Same.

[00:44:52] Birdy Rivers
Yeah. What's that gets into the mix? It's a whole different ballgame, isn't it?

[00:44:56] Toni Kirkland

[00:44:57] Birdy Rivers
I mean, it's good. And I love my kids, but there's moments where I'm like, I kind of miss that moment, but then I'm like, Wait a minute.
But eventually they're going to be out of the house and then I'm going to have emptiness syndrome. So I might as well enjoy the
craziness while I can.

[00:45:10] Toni Kirkland
But thank you for you for taking time to come talk to us and let us learn a little bit about you.

[00:45:17] Birdy Rivers
Yes. Thank you so much for having me.

[00:45:19] Toni Kirkland
And I'm excited to see all of the fun things you have planned out for 2023.

[00:45:25] Birdy Rivers
Me too. It should be a good, fun year.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Review: Don't Tell Mom She's Not A Rock Star By: K.S. Thomas


Don't Tell Mom She's Not A Rock Star

Twenty years ago, Iris McCoy traded one dream for another. Music in exchange for marriage and motherhood. She's never been sorry.

But now she's definitely broke.

Suddenly single, with all the responsibilities of her married life but none of the assets to help manage them, Iris has no choice but to come to terms with her fate.

She's screwed.

She either keeps living in her aunts' basement apartment, scraping by with whatever child support her ex deems appropriate to send her way, when he deems it appropriate to send it. Or she gets a mediocre job she's considered qualified for, throws her entire life into it, lets her kids finish raising each other, and maybe gets a shot at being financially independent again someday.

Or...she can go be a rock star.

As it turns out Iris McCoy decides to embark on chasing her dreams. She spends all the time telling her children to do it just to keep from doing it herself. But after divorce away from a toxic relationship that held her back for years, just ask her aunts and uncle, and no current job holding her back from putting in the time, plus you can't forget the amazing support of her children, she chases that dream she never really let go of. It isn't easy and Iris's true character and determination to make this happen come into play. Just like everyone born to believe in being a Rock Star, she has to decide if the dream is worth being crazy enough to chase it. Which she has the perfect tribe of support behind her making sure she remembers it. Finding a band. Finding someone to let her play. Getting people to listen. She has to deal with her own fierce stubborn independence all the way to the last chapters of the book. With characters, you relate to and fall in love with, a storyline that keeps you turning pages, and a dream you keep rooting for to come true, dusted with an unexpected perfectly crafted love story, this is definitely a book you will find yourself finishing in one sitting. Paired perfectly with a cozy spot, a cup of coffee, and a lazy afternoon. 

Meet the Author: K.S. Thomas

Mommy of one. Drinker of #coffee (lots and lots of coffee). #Writer of #bookboyfriends and #happyeverafters. ​
The stereotypical writer through and through, I find hiding out alone in my office, cut off from society where I can pursue my obsessive compulsions in peace & carry on uninterrupted conversations with my imaginary friends while I sip coffee, to be all the rage.

I like people too. The real ones. But I'm shy and often awkward, so I don't show it well. If/When we meet - please don't hold this against me. These days, life is a solid stream of awesome craziness compliments of my kid. When we're not giggling ourselves to sleep or having a sing-off about Parmesan cheese, we're likely binge watching Once Upon a Time and arguing about who was better for Emma Swan - Neal or Hook. It's clearly Hook. Besides. Neal is dead. So I win. There. That covers the basics. Oh - also: Internet people-ling is my favorite - let's be social! Website: Facebook: Instagram:

*Amazon Affiliate link used for the  link to buy book*

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Tori Alvarez interview on our Podcast


Hi! I'm Tori
I'm a Texas gal, born and raised!

  I live in San Antonio with my incredible husband, teen daughter, a cat and a yorkie.  ​

I have always been a reader.  The Sweet Vally High series hooked me in junior high and I have been reading ever since.  Now it's my turn to write the stories to hook the readers.  I look forward to writing stories and characters you will love.  

Fun Facts

1.  I LOVE food and trying new restaurants.  I follow foodies on IG so we know where to try next.  I even geeked out when I saw a food writer for the local newspaper at a restaurant where I was dining.  LOL

2.  We love to travel and explore new cities.  Can't wait for our next European vacation.  

3.  Wine is my Spirit Animal.  My goal other than becoming a best-selling author?  To be a wine snob, of course.  

Podcast Interview

(Transcript provided by Sonix

[00:00:00] Toni Kirkland
I am Toni Kirkland with the Hidden Bookshelf Club, and I am joined tonight with Tori Alvarez. She 
is a author and we are going to find out more about the author behind her stories. So, hello, Tori.

[00:00:24] Tori Alvarez
Hi, how are you?

[00:00:26] Toni Kirkland
I am trying to stay warm.

[00:00:29] Tori Alvarez
Yes, I know. I'm here in Texas and we just got another cold front and it's going to get colder.

[00:00:37] Toni Kirkland
I'm in I'm in Georgia and it's supposed to be eight degrees this weekend.

[00:00:44] Tori Alvarez
Oh, that's brutal. That's So you're a Southern girl, too. So, you know, we're not used to the cold.

[00:00:51] Toni Kirkland
I'm originally from western North Carolina, so I'm used to some snow at Christmas time. But I'm 
like, I moved further south, like I'm in Georgia now. We're not supposed to be cold.

[00:01:05] Tori Alvarez
Completely. Understand?

[00:01:08] Toni Kirkland
So you write the Men of Graffiti Arts, the graffiti art series.

[00:01:16] Tori Alvarez
I did. That is the first series I have. That wasn't my debut. But yes, that came right after my 
debut. And it was a series that was never supposed to happen.

[00:01:29] Toni Kirkland
Well, they're definitely eye candy, so I'm happy they did happen.

[00:01:34] Tori Alvarez
Yes. When I had, I always thought I was just going to do stand alone. So I always knew I was going 
to write romance. And I did my first book, my debut, which was naive in love. And then I had the 
idea for Beautiful, Beautiful Collision, the first book in the series, and I put it out in the 
world and the reviews started coming in and they were asking for more stories about the side 
characters and my secondary characters, and we want more Alex, which is the main character, the 
heroine's cousin, older cousin and his brother Harvey. And I hadn't thought about doing stories for 
them. It was just going to be her story. And I was onto I was already on to my next project. And so 
it started kind of marinating in my head and I was talking to some other friends and asking them, 
what should I make this a series? I didn't even have a story. And it just became a series because 
the story finally came after some brainstorming with
others. And so now we do have the graffiti art series.

[00:02:56] Toni Kirkland
Well, I'm very glad that we have the graffiti art series, and I think some of the best books come 
that way. Like they're not intended to come out, but they're like, Yeah, I'm going to be written.

[00:03:08] Tori Alvarez
Yeah. And it seems like when the secondary characters I just read a post on Instagram, I think it 
was how all of these interconnected series happen. If the secondary characters play such a good 
role and they're developed enough, know you want to have more of their stories and you want to know 
what happens to these other characters in the story. So I'm just glad that my secondary characters 
resonated so well and almost took over.

[00:03:42] Toni Kirkland
Yeah. Some of them refuse to stay in the shadows.

[00:03:47] Tori Alvarez
Yes. And so I'm currently working on a new project and it is going to be a spin off. So some of the 
characters you met very briefly, except for one, which is the older brother of the heroine in my 
last book, Beautiful Serenity. It's going to be her brother and his friends, and they're getting 
their series mixed.

[00:04:14] Toni Kirkland
I'm intrigued.

[00:04:16] Tori Alvarez
Yes. But her brother is not going to be the first book. That's a twist.

[00:04:22] Toni Kirkland
Of course not.

[00:04:24] Tori Alvarez
Because it didn't work that way. The story that had already kind of been formulated in my mind 
actually was not going to be like it was just a story. I just had kind of the overall gist of the 
second chance and how it developed and things of that nature. I just didn't have characters to 
attach that storyline to. Until I thought about one of the characters, one of the older brother's 
friends, and thought, Oh, this is perfect, and was able to attach that story to him and it's just 
fitting perfectly.

[00:05:05] Toni Kirkland
That's awesome. I love when the plot and the character is line up. Yes. So a little about you is I 
hear that you like food and wine.

[00:05:20] Tori Alvarez
I do. I am a big foodie. A lot of our trips are based around where we're going to go eat and what 
we're going to explore. I have become somewhat of a wine snob, and because I wasn't a wine drinker 
before until about maybe ten years ago. And slowly I've started to appreciate wine and all of its 
intricacies, because it is it's there are so many different flavors and and notes and things of 
that nature. So I'm really enjoying that. And I'm lucky that we have the whole country so close to 
me and we have Highway 290, I think it is, which is wine country. So we have like I think over 50 
vineyards about an hour away. And so that's a fun place to go and just spend an afternoon.

[00:06:23] Toni Kirkland
That's awesome. Well, I mean, it would it would be very fitting to love wine when you live and 
enjoy the wine country near you.

[00:06:32] Tori Alvarez
Yes. And I was able to use that location to build my novella Love's Influence around. So my 
novella, Love's Influence, is all about food and wine and, of course, a spicy romance.

[00:06:52] Toni Kirkland
But that just pairs, right? Food, wine and romance.

[00:06:57] Tori Alvarez
Oh, yeah, definitely. And a little bit of adventure, too, because, I mean, we have it's the hill 
country. You have to have some sort of adventure, too.

[00:07:05] Toni Kirkland

[00:07:07] Toni Kirkland
So do you have a favorite food currently?

[00:07:14] Tori Alvarez
So as much of a foodie as I am, my favorite food will always and I have said this since I don't 
know, young. Young is a cheeseburger. I am just in awe of cheeseburgers. You know how the joke is. 
What would your last meal be? You know, and a cheeseburger. I want a greasy, cheesy cheeseburger or 
burger for my meal. That is the nice crispy fries. So as adventurous as we get with food, I will 
still come back to a cheeseburger.

[00:07:53] Toni Kirkland
Well, now I have to ask, what do you eat on your cheeseburger?

[00:07:57] Tori Alvarez
You see, I'm simplicity. I only like lettuce because I feel like everything else takes away from 
the meat. So if you have good beef. You want to taste it. And the cheese just accents it, too. And 
the lettuce gives it a nice cooling sensation. But I'm not a fan of tomatoes at all, so no 
tomatoes. Pickles overpower everything so you can't have pickles, onions overpower can. And I want 
to taste the meat, and I'm sure that could be used in so many bad ways. What I just said.

[00:08:42] Toni Kirkland
Well, you are a romance author.

[00:08:44] Tori Alvarez
Yeah. My mind automatically went there.

[00:08:49] Toni Kirkland
So what? Since you've become a wine snob, what is your favorite wine?

[00:08:57] Tori Alvarez
I really like Malbec now. So it's a Spanish or Argentine wine or I guess that's where the grapes 
originated from. Now, other regions are making it, of course, but I think primarily it was an 
Argentine grape. And I like that bridle. I do like them all back. I like the boldness of it.

[00:09:25] Toni Kirkland
Hmm. I don't know if I've ever had an Argentine grape. Yeah. But now I'm intrigued.

[00:09:32] Tori Alvarez
There's so many out there, like different grapes and where they originated from. And I mean, it's 
just a whole slew of crazy information. And I may even be wrong about where that the Malbec grape 
is from. But I want to say it is because that's where you find the most Malbec. The wine store is 
under the Argentina section.

[00:09:57] Toni Kirkland
Back in North Carolina, we are known for Muscadines, which they use to make wine.

[00:10:05] Tori Alvarez
And that's a grape?

[00:10:08] Toni Kirkland
Yes. Muscadines and scuppernogs. They're both grapes.

[00:10:12] Tori Alvarez
Okay. So is there sweeter? Is that like, the most the moscato? Is that what the grapes the 
mosquitoes are made from?

[00:10:20] Toni Kirkland
I'm not 100% sure. I know that they make Muscadine wine.

[00:10:25] Tori Alvarez
Oh, I've never had that one. So that one's new to me.

[00:10:30] Toni Kirkland
See. Now you have something new to try.

[00:10:32] Tori Alvarez
I do. Now I have to go look up some new wines to try.

[00:10:39] Toni Kirkland
So you also like to travel. Do you pair your travel with your wine and food or do you travel and 
then pick your wine and food?

[00:10:52] Tori Alvarez
So both. So sometimes we pick trips based on like when we went to Napa, of course. But for the 
wines in particular vineyards that we wanted to try and to visit. But other trips, we take the trip 
and then we look at look to see. And it's not always wine because I'm also an appreciate. I 
appreciate all kinds. I'm a beer gal and a cocktail gal, so it just depends on where we go and what 
we're going to be doing. But I'm a beach girl, and a Beach girl also loves frozen drinks and cold 
beers where when cross our fingers, we hope to be taking a trip back to Europe and Italy. And of 
course, that's the wine type of trip. So it just depends on where we're going. And then we kind of 
look up the food and whatever we're going to be exploring.

[00:11:58] Toni Kirkland
What has been your favorite place to visit so far?

[00:12:03] Tori Alvarez
My favorite place. My favorite city is Florence. Florence, Italy. It's it's just amazing. Just the 
architecture and the people and. The vibe that the city gives. So Florence, Italy is definitely my 
favorite city. I've been there twice. Once when I was in high school, we did one of the high school 
trips, like month long European trips. And then the second time I went was on my honeymoon and my 
husband loved it. And he were always joking around and saying, you know, we're just going to sell 
everything and move to Tuscany and close to Florence or move into move to Florence. So that has to 
be my favorite city now. My second favorite vacation that we took as a family has to. It's a tie 
between Vancouver, Canada and Puerto Rico, both just because of the adventure, the people, the 
food, just both of those places were amazing to visit.

[00:13:17] Toni Kirkland
I've heard that Florence is definitely got its own atmosphere and it's also referred to a lot for 
the romance. Side of its. Atmosphere. Is that true?

[00:13:31] Tori Alvarez
I don't know. It's just Florence. Or if it's just Italy? Just the country and. The culture because 
there's so open and there's so just I don't know, maybe or maybe it's just the. From how we 
romanticize the country because we did two cities. When my husband and I were there for our 
honeymoon, we did Florence and we did Venice. And I want to say just the gondola rides and the 
little cafes which are both in Venice and in Florence, but in Venice there's no cars because you 
don't have the streets. All everything is the canal ways.
That one just seemed to be more romantic to me than Florence. But the. Atmosphere and the culture, 
I think maybe is what we think of when we think of that romance in Florence.

[00:14:35] Toni Kirkland
Yeah, I always. Especially with the gondolas going down the passageways. And I mean, the only 
pictures that I know of Florence are like older pictures from. I'm not sure if it's the medieval 
times, but it's definitely back in that time of. Well, but.

[00:14:56] Tori Alvarez
That's the thing about Europe is that they don't update, if that makes sense. It's like their 
buildings still look the same because they may renovate, but they keep that traditional. The way it 
looks just it's just beautiful. So, I mean, you may have pictures that are recent but may look 
older just because the buildings are so old, You know, I don't know. Hundreds of years old, 

[00:15:26] Toni Kirkland
Yeah. So your your honeymoon, What, or on the trip by yourself, what was your favorite thing that 
you did in Italy?

[00:15:39] Tori Alvarez
Who in Italy? I don't know. Just exploring because it was my honeymoon and. Well, and even in high 
school, it's just the exploration of someplace new. Now you never know what you're going to find. 
So when we did our honeymoon, we didn't have an itinerary and we didn't book the. Those buses or 
those tour guides or anything. We bought a book, a tour guide book before we left this the States. 
And you know, for a couple of months before then, we just kind of highlighted the must sees, we 
must do the statue of David or we must do a gunfighter, and we put like our must haves and then 
everything else we just stumbled across. So we did what we a must have, maybe during the day. And 
then everything else was by accident. And that's what I love that we have made. Maybe missed 
something that a tour guide would have given us, but then we might have stumbled on to something 
new that wouldn't have happened. So I just like that sense of surprise that it gave us.

[00:16:56] Toni Kirkland
I love the adventure of it. Yes. So going back to being an author, what is something that you would 
tell a new author? What kind of advice would you give them?

[00:17:18] Tori Alvarez
I think it all depends on the goal of the author or the. Person going into this industry because 
there are so many ways to go about publishing or not so many ways. I mean, really to but the way 
you get there. So if you're going the traditional route, it's so much different than the Indy 
route. And because I'm an indie author, I can really only speak. You know knowledgeably about my 
indie journey. Because I don't know one thing about querying agents and having the agents, you 
know, sending your manuscript to the big publishing houses. I do have a couple of friends that are 
or have or are currently taking a hiatus from writing, but a hiatus from publishing because they've 
published indie and are now looking to do it traditionally. So and it's it's a long process and 
it's a patient process and it's a process of a lot of rejection. So. If you want to do the indie 
route. It's not any easier, though. It may be faster, but is so much work and there's so much to 
learn because you're not just writing and putting your book out into the world, you're writing the 
book, you're having to design it. The cover are finding people to hire, to design a cover. You're 
finding your own editors, you are doing your own marketing. You're doing everything that a 
publishing house would do for you. You're doing all of that on your own. So both have so many pros 
and cons.

[00:19:21] Tori Alvarez
I am choosing indie and I'm going to continue indie for the foreseeable future because I like the 
freedom that it gives me. I like to be in control of my covers and not having anybody tell me. What 
it's going to be, because sometimes you lose that autonomy when you go with a publishing house. I 
like to write my stories. I am a mexican American woman. And so my characters all have, or each of 
my book has had a Hispanic character or characters. From my debut to the one I'm currently writing. 
They are all Hispanic characters, so I like to have my voice in my characters, and I know that 
resonates with a lot of Hispanic and teen voices or people and being able to see themselves in the 
characters that I write. So I want to make sure that I keep that part of me. So for right now, that 
is you have to figure out for a newbie author, you have to figure out where you want to go and how 
you want to approach it and get that footing first. I jumped into it. I can involved in. So I made 
so many mistakes on my way in. But now I'm in a place where I know what I know and I know that I 
don't know so much more. And so I know I'm always open to learn and to grow. And so just finding 
which path you want to take.

[00:21:10] Toni Kirkland
Want to follow up with that. With hindsight being 2020. Is there anything you wish you would have 
known when you cannon balled into it?

[00:21:20] Tori Alvarez
Yes. It would not have stopped me from cannonballing in because I didn't take the time to to learn. 
I can indulge in because I was at a point in my life that I needed to do something. My mom had just 
been diagnosed with breast cancer. And I was just kind of lost and I was trying to find my footing 
somewhere. And so I just can't involved in because of that. I had been writing for years before 
then and I had the book written about 90% my debut and not even Love. It was like 90% written. And 
when we got that diagnosis, I was just kind of scrambling and I needed to do something. And I 
always wanted to be a writer and I always wanted to be an author. I just maybe didn't believe in 
myself enough to do it. But when that happened, I just went straight, just dove right in. So even 
if I had known it back then, I don't think I was in the mindset to listen to it. So what I would 
tell the newbies is to find your tribe first, find those mentors that can teach you along the way. 
And that's what I talked about, about so many mistakes I made along the way, because I can involved 
in is I didn't have a tribe. I didn't have anybody to lean on. I didn't have anybody to bounce 
ideas off of. I didn't have anybody to tell me, Oh, that's not a good idea. Hit pause and let's 
kind of talk this out, which I do now. And I love that tribe that I've found of other friends. So 
my journey led me and I had to take the path that I took. But if you can and if you're doing your 
research, which you should always be doing, find your tribe, find those people to learn from and do 
your research.

[00:23:26] Toni Kirkland
So I'm going to jump a little on that research. Is there any books that you're reading currently? 
Not necessarily for research. Could be for entertainment as well, but what is on your bookshelf or 
nightstand right now?

[00:23:42] Tori Alvarez
Actually nothing is on because when I'm writing, I usually don't read so much. And since I'm right 
in the middle of my story, I don't really read much. So I just finished for entertainment law, This 
and the Mafia. That was the last book I read. I do have a few that I want to read, so I my 
Christmas break. I'm in education, so I have a couple of weeks off, so I'm going to kind of plan it 
around writing and blocks of time or days of time and then giving myself a couple of days to binge 
a few books. And I have so many on my TBR, so I don't know what I'm going to be pulling up first. 
But craft books, those are usually audio books, those I listen to in the car.

[00:24:41] Toni Kirkland
So are you more obviously the audio is for your car, but are you more audio Kindle paperback?

[00:24:49] Tori Alvarez
I read mostly on my Kindle. I'll read some paperback, but always on my Kindle and not Kindle app on 
my phone. I have my my actual Kindle with the backlight so I could read in bed in the dark so I 
don't disturb my husband. So I always read on my Kindle and my Kindle goes everywhere with me. And 
now if I love a book, then I buy the paperback just so I can look pretty on my shelf.

[00:25:17] Toni Kirkland
That's a good way to do it.

[00:25:18] Tori Alvarez

[00:25:20] Toni Kirkland
Before we wrap up, who is your either your mentor or author or your favorite author?

[00:25:29] Tori Alvarez
Well, I wouldn't call her a mentor. But Colleen Hoover is who inspired me to kind of start writing 
and why I took the journey that I did. I read an interview with her years ago before she became 
what she is now. And it talked about. Why she was writing and she had so much time at her kids, at 
her son's practices, and that she just started writing while they were at practice. And so my 
daughter at the time also was an extra curricular extracurricular. And I started writing. That's 
when I started writing my debut debut novel is when she was at practices and I was just sitting 
there for an hour waiting for her, and she inspired me to do it and just how she published 
independently and how her sisters and family just really rallied around her and help get her name 
out and her book out and everything else. And I just love her writing. I love her books. And so 
she's kind of like the inspiration behind it all. But Melanie Smith is probably my biggest mentor 
any time I have a question, she is always there. She is such a sweetheart with so much knowledge 
and a wonderful spicy writer, like deliciously spicy romances. And so she is probably she's one of 
the first people I met when I. Jumped in and didn't know what I was doing and was making so many 
mistakes. She had such a gentle way of telling me the mistakes I was making at the time, and now I 
just like, I'll know I'm making mistakes or I can feel the mistakes and I'll just go to her. It's 
like, hey, And you know, I can you know, I know that she's going to give me good, honest feedback 
and, you know, just she's just a gem.

[00:27:45] Toni Kirkland
I love it. I love when we find our people.

[00:27:48] Tori Alvarez
Yes. And, you know, there are so many others that I have met also that I have come to rely on for 
just different questions or just support or venting. There's just you know, it's those people 
around you that just really keep you going in this industry that can be so hard.
[00:28:15] Toni Kirkland
Yes, my advice is definitely never tackle this industry alone.

[00:28:22] Tori Alvarez
Yes, that is very true. I tried and fell flat on my face.
[00:28:28] Toni Kirkland
So one last question before we wrap up is what is your big goal for 2023? What can we expect?

[00:28:37] Tori Alvarez
So my big goal for 2023 is to have Natalia's book out. I don't have a title yet. I have an idea of 
a title, but it will be the new the first book in the new series. I will be releasing my novella, 
Miss All My Son, probably late Spring. It is a story that's already written and it's already been 
published. It's in the anthology that is out right now, and actually it's going to be unpublished 
on December 23rd because our six month run for that anthology is up. And so that one is going to be 
actually kind of like a little prequel, a taste to the new series coming out, because Matteo and 
Natalia are both in that book or that novella as supporting characters. So you kind of get a taste 
of them before they meet up because they are a second chance romance. And the next project I have, 
I can't give too much information about because it's not just my own project. It's going to be 
another anthology that we have discussed to come out in November. So it will be a fall release. 
It'll be six authors total, so myself and five others, and I can't give out any names yet because 
we aren't there quite yet, but just know that we are all so excited about it. We are ecstatic and 
I've left little hints here and there on Instagram stories. So if anybody follows me on Instagram, 
sometimes I leave little morsels of clues that of things that could be coming up.

[00:30:31] Toni Kirkland
Now I'm excited. My birthday is in November, so now I'm excited.

[00:30:35] Tori Alvarez
Mine too. Fellow Scorpio.

[00:30:37] Toni Kirkland
Yes. Well, I appreciate you hanging out with me today and letting us figure out the person behind 
the stories that we're falling in love with.

[00:30:50] Tori Alvarez
Thank you. Thank you for having me. This was fun.

[00:30:54] Toni Kirkland
It was fun for me, too. And I hope it was fun for our listeners, too, to dive a little deeper than 
our titles.

[00:31:01] Tori Alvarez
Yes. Get a little behind the scenes.

[00:31:05] Toni Kirkland
Yes. But I hope you have a great rest of your day and we will definitely be keeping an eye out for 
your upcoming releases.

[00:31:16] Tori Alvarez
Thank you.