Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Flossie Benton Rogers, one of my mentors and member of Sunshine State Romance Authors. I met Flossie, as well, at the plotting workshop in August 2012. Flossie was Secretary at the time. It was Flossie’s advice and guidance that has helped me onto my path of being a multi-published author, along with Loretta, Dylan and Jessica. In fact, Flossie introduced me to Twitter, where I met my publisher, Black Opal Books. So for that alone, I’m so grateful to Flossie.
Me: Thank you so much, Flossie, for taking the time out of your schedule of writing commitments to speak with me. I love the fantasy worlds you’ve created. What made you decide on the paranormal, fantasy romance genre as your prime focus?
Flossie: It’s a pleasure to be here, Ronnie. You are an amazing colleague, and I certainly admire your drive and determination, as well as your creativity.
Me: Awe, thank you. Likewise!
Flossie: I write in the genre of paranormal fantasy romance because I have a deep connection with mythology and fairy tales, as well as an affinity for the realities beyond the five senses. In the Wytchfae novels the magical beings live in universes that are parallel to the human earth world, and accessible pathways exist. It’s also fun to incorporate intuitive modalities I know about and am comfortable with into the books, such as reiki, healing stones, and Tarot.
Me: We resonate so much with each other. Reiki, healing stones, and Tarot are in Gemini, too. In a present day thriller. In your novels you refer to the Greek and Roman myths. I do that too in Gemini where my protagonist, John Trenton, is in the first romantic interlude with Vicki, the love interest, and he compares her to the Greek Goddess, Artemis. Vicki’s birthday is Artemis’ Festival Day. She’s my favorite Goddess, and I believe I am Artemisian. In Dark Guardians you had something similar when Samael was with Layla. With them it was Poseidon in their conversation. Why did you incorporate the myths into your novels? Who is your favorite?
Flossie: The Wytchfae heroines and heroes generally maintain relationships with their patron goddesses and gods. As you said, for Samael in Guardian of the Deep, it is Poseidon, lord of the seas and the deity who gifted humanity with the beauty and utility of horses. The patron deity of Helios Warrior Gabriel Hawk in Lord of Fire is the sun god Ra. In Demoness Dreams, which comes out in late April, Bane Heughar reaches the acclaim of being deemed Odin’s Warrior. Kelly, the heroine in Wytchfae Runes, relates with Epona, the only Celtic goddess to be worshipped by Roman soldiers. Epona then went on to be the heroine of her own book, Mind Your Goddess. Still, Epona has her own patron goddess, the Great Goddess, mother of all.
You can see the spiritual connections of the characters with their patron deities if you visualize Russian nesting dolls. One doll always contains another, and in the Wytchfae universe this continues ad infinitum. There is always another layer of reality to be revealed. Another way to look at it is souls and oversouls. For example, Kelly possesses some of the characteristics of her patron goddess, Epona, and strives toward the greater command of power that Epona displays.
As for a personal favorite, that is a tough one. I am drawn to many. I love Epona so much that she got her own book. Another strong connection I have is with the triple goddesses, such as Artemis/Selene/Hecate and The Morrigan. I particularly enticed by the archetypal mysterious magical crone who lives in a cottage deep in the forest. This may stem from my early love of fairy tales and from an elderly woman I called Granny. She lived on the edge of a swamp, and I my imagination flew free with fantastic adventures when I stayed with her on weekends.
Me: Talking about ourselves, in my novels, I’m both the antagonists and protagonists. It’s a catharsis for me when I’m in deep POV. Which parts of Flossie are in your characters?
Flossie: Antagonists are a writer’s way of dealing with our shadow personalities. It is one of the healthiest ways. I get a hypnotic kick out of the ancient sorceress Skada telling Ingvar in Wytchfae Runes:
“By my decree, husband slayer, shall you walk upon this earth a shade, neither here nor there, for thirteen by thirteen hundred moons.”
Even protagonists may be forced to perform actions against their better nature. Layla’s fight with Mador in Guardian of the Deep was especially emotionally difficult for me, as the succubus is out of options:
She dove straight down and clutched him in killing claws, rejoiced in his piercing screams, and then she plunged deep into the dark waters.
Romance and sexual desire enliven the interactions of our characters. When tough, disillusioned Gabriel Hawk in Lord of Fire begins to acknowledge his attraction to Garnet, he opens himself to danger but also to the possibility of intimacy and love:
Especially the long dark hair tumbling across her shoulders. It gleamed like rich silk, and he wondered how it would feel tangled in his fingers.
Seraphina in Time Singer is also mesmerized by Aedar:
Her gaze lingered on his chest, and her fingers twitched, longing to touch him there. He smelled of deep woods combined with a hint of the open sea.
At the bottom of all is the truth of eternal love, and I am so lucky to write in a genre that can pay homage to that concept. As Eshigel tells Epona in Mind Your Goddess:
“I’m a lost soul without you. You’re mine, Goddess.”
Me: What was your thought process to create the demons, fairies, goddesses, and other magical beings? And your characters’ names are so intriguing! How did you come up with them?
Flossie: The various types of characters simmer around in my mind and then soar onto the page. Okay, sometimes they sputter, but usually they soar. Some of the character names are drawn from mythology. Skada, for example, is a variant of the Norse giantess Skadi. Epona is a goddess name. Eshigel and Samael have angelic connotations, as does Gabriel from Lord of Fire. Gabriel’s heroine, Garnet, got her name from the gemstone. Her essence reminded me of a deep burgundy jewel. Seraphina in Time Singer originally appeared as Kelly’s friend Sera in Wytchfae Runes. When she became the star of her own book, she told me her real name was Seraphina.
Me: Can you please share your journey to finding a traditional publisher with my readers? I know you had rather unusually expedient results.
Flossie: The goddess Fortuna surely shined down upon me. My lifelong dream was to be a writer. As library director, I became acquainted with authors such as Loretta Rogers and Dylan Newton, who were generous enough to present National Novel Writing Month programs for the library. Later the three of us jumped off the cliff to start Sunshine State Romance Authors. Loretta and Dylan have worked tirelessly to help other writers. I retired, and with encouragement and such great role models, decided to become a published author.
I give hearty applause to my mentor Loretta, who encouraged me to attend the Silken Sands Writing Conference in the Panhandle. She is also the most amazing critique partner on the planet. We drove up with another SSRA member and her husband. On the way, we worked on my pitch for my book, and boy was that a hoot.
Thank heaven I signed up to pitch to Sandy Sullivan, the CEO of Secret Cravings Publishing. She liked my story idea and invited me to send her the manuscript. I did so, and when she offered me a contract, I floated around the Elysian Fields for several weeks at least. Secret Cravings published Wytchfae Runes, and I subsequently wrote Guardian of the Deep, set in the same paranormal fantasy world, and submitted it. Based on that, Secret Cravings offered me a contract for a total of seven Wytchfae books. The one coming out next, Demoness Dreams, is the sixth in the series. It will be followed by Soul Weaver.
Me: Um, Goddess Fortuna. She’s with me on a Thursday when I go to the casino. LOL. Thursday is her day and green and purple are her colors, just as an aside. I always like to give my readers something they can learn about becoming a traditionally published author. What advice would you give that could not be found in a Google search?
Flossie: A google search will give good advice, such as have faith in yourself and your abilities, create your author platform, honor your critique partner, read voraciously, consider the hidden gems known as small presses but do your homework regarding them, write write write, and never give up. I would add: 1) Schedule your time and write consistently. 2) Trust your intuition and don’t overthink the process. If your gut says jump, do it. As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow.”
Me: I mentioned above that you introduced me to Twitter, and I do consider you my Twitter guru. What advice would you give to writers to make the most of their Twitter experience, and to gain followers?
Flossie: Never buy followers. It’s a waste of time and money. Plus it’s not cool. Use free tools to publish your content and grow your followers. Hootsuite is great for scheduling tweets. Round Team enables you to retweet people automatically based on twitter lists. Buffer provides great content you can share. Triberr—which you used before I did, Ronnie—allows you to participate in content sharing. Crowdfire, formerly Just Unfollow, is fabulous for weeding out non-followers and copying quality followers. Twitter itself is an excellent tool for discovering hot topics.
My Twitter golden rules are:
Automate as much as possible.
Be generous and retweet.
Share information and news that will interest your readers.
Me: I love learning and going to conferences is a natural fit for me. This summer, I’ll be at International Thriller Writers ThrillerFest, in NYC, for a week, being celebrated in their Debut Author Program. It’s surreal and thrilling at the same time. What conferences have you gone to and how have they impacted your career? What advice would you give to authors, published, or pre-published, to have them get the most out of a conference? Or workshop, as we offer through SSRA?
Flossie: Ronnie, you are the conference queen and can provide excellent advice in this area! I previously mentioned how instrumental the Silken Sands Writing Conference was for my career. It put me in the right place at the right time. Based on writing conferences and SSRA workshops I have attended, as well as the many library conferences in my former life, I would encourage attendees to see conferences and workshops as opportunities to develop relationships with those successful in the field.
Follow successful authors, editors, and publishers on social media to see how they interact with others and what topics are on their front burners. Emulate the best practices of those you admire. Some of these folks will become part of your writing network. I would also encourage attendees to take ample notes and use the material gleaned. Rather than feel overwhelmed by a vast amount of information, take it in chunks. Start by putting into practice the gems of knowledge that resonate with you. Be bold. Act like a successful author, and you will be.
Me: Speaking of conferences, what events do you have coming up where our readers could have an up-front conversation with you?
Flossie: On April 16th I and other SSRA authors will appear at the Homosassa Public Library from 10:30am-2:30pm. I am uber excited for the chance to interact with readers.
Me: Thank you so much Flossie. Please continue to read and learn more about Flossie and her books!
Thank you, Ronnie, for this lovely time. I appreciate you and all you do to support your fellow authors. Best of luck with your upcoming releases!
Lord of Fire Media Package
Blurb: When The Hawk meets his Wytchfae, the result is spontaneous combustion.
Garnet McAnna chases the demon responsible for attacking and enslaving innocent fae familiars. She never expected to run headlong into a mesmerizing stranger known as The Hawk. Nor did she anticipate the way his masculine power kindles a womanly flame within her.
Exiled from an elite warrior’s brigade, Lord of Fire Gabriel Hawk guards his heart and his solitude. He wants nothing to do with the world of men or the realm of fae. Then a beautiful Wytchfae bursts into his life, stirring desire and sparking need. Garnet is on a dangerous mission, and he can’t let her face the evil alone. What else can he do but fight beside her? When she disappears, he raises hell to find her. Will he be too late? Will darkness conquer this couple or will love burn their souls into one?
First Line Teaser: She’d catch the demon tonight if it killed her.
Memorable Quote: “Garnet McAnna, you’re the hottest woman in thirteen worlds.”
Lost in her thoughts, Garnet ran up against something hard and springy, and a sharp point pricked the soft flesh of her thumb. She squeezed off the pain with her other hand.
Damned barbed wire.
She had already made it to the fence line and hadn’t even realized it. Sucking in a deep breath, she cleared her mind to concentrate on the task at hand. She had to edge around the boundary to the north side of this large piece of private property to gain access to the portal. Then she’d hunker down in the bushes and wait on the demon Borros.
Moving swiftly again, she cut a wide swath away from the metal fence. Snorting sounds came from within one of the corrals she had noted early this morning when she skirted the property. Horses and a few cattle had grazed within.
Bearing around the corner to head north toward the portal, a splash of incandescent green appeared and then disappeared in front of her. Startled, she blinked and reached into her coat pocket for the revolver. The weapon lay cold and substantial in her hand. She stilled her body to a midnight silence.
The eerie green reappeared and dashed around her body without spotlighting her in any way. It formed a mysterious elongated glow. She clamped down harder on the gun handle to stop her hand from trembling, while shifting positions to keep the phenomenon in front of her.
Her mind tumbled over possibilities. The light couldn’t be swamp gas, as it seemed to proceed purposefully. Its movement created a slight whirring sound. A will ’o the wisp? Somehow she thought not, but what was it?
The presence darted behind her.
Before she could turn, a warm, corporeal hand covered her own and relieved her of the weapon. Whirling around, she came face to face with—a man.
A gasp escaped her lips. With his substantial height, he towered over her. A faint greenish residue of light illuminated him enough so that the fierce scowl on his face caused her heart to thump into overdrive.
She swallowed, fingering the sheath of one of the knives in her pocket. Damn it, next time she’d bring a backup piece. She forced herself to speak, but despite her efforts, her voice rasped. “Give me back my weapon.”
His sonorous growl reminded her of a feral animal. “Not so fast. What the hell are you doing sneaking around my property with a firearm in the middle of the night?”
Video Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTifE-174mE
Lord of Fire Buy Links:
Secret Cravings Publishing http://bit.ly/1FKwWBu
Flossie Benton Rogers is the author of the Wytchfae Series. She shares her passion for mythology by writing sizzling paranormal fantasy romances with fairies, goddesses, demons, and other magical beings. She is a former teacher and library director who enjoys spending time with family and seeing new places. She is always on the lookout for romantic, adventurous story ideas to share with readers. Flossie’s birth chart features sun in Sagittarius with a Taurus moon and Libra ascendant, as befits a 5th generation Floridian and freedom loving mystic.
Connect with Flossie:
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6553203.Flossie_Benton_Rogers
Amazon author page: http://amazon.com/author/flossiebentonrogers
Other Books by Flossie Benton Rogers:
Guardian of the Deep – Wytchfae 2
Mind Your Goddess – Wytchfae 3
Time Singer – Wytchfae 4
Dark Guardians – Wytchfae Anthology 1 (Print Only)
Lord of Fire – Wytchfae 5
Coming April 2015: Demoness Dreams – Wytchfae 6
Please feel free to leave Flossie and I comments and questions. And if you have any questions about healing stones, Tarot, Reiki, and Goddesses, I’ll be happy to answer them!
The Sign Behind The Crime,