Ask an Author #3 – Looking Back

What is your favorite childhood book?

I loved books as a kid so it’s hard to choose which would be my favorite. Books I liked included Dr. Seuss, Robert Munsch, Little Critters, Berenstain Bears, Franklin, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Jillian Jiggs, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, I Spy. As I got older, I read a lot of Mary-Kate and Ashley books (I grew up in the 90s) and I loved The Boxcar Children, Wayside School.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

No, I’ve always seen it more as a hobby or something to get my thoughts down. I’ve never really seen it as a career for myself.

Given the chance to live your life again, what would you change about yourself?

The first thing that comes to mind is having confidence in myself growing up. There are so many things I quit or didn’t try because I didn’t have confidence in myself or I was too worried about what other people thought of me. Most of my preteen and teenage years, as well as some of my early twenties, were defined by my lack of confidence.

Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day?

I don’t remember anyone actually telling me this but on one of my grade school assignments; my teacher wrote that I should be a writer.

Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?

Both my parents enjoy reading and I was encouraged to be a reader. I learned to read before I started school and my mom would read to me and bring us to the library. We had a lot of books growing up and my parents still have a bunch of the ones we read as kids.

How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person?

I think it has helped me understand that everyone has a story and I don’t know what has led people to a certain point. I don’t know their backstory or what is going through their minds. So in a way, I think being a writer has made me more compassionate towards people.

Did the thought to give up writing ever occur to you?

All the time. There have been times when I’ve done it temporarily but I always come back.

Ask an Author #2 – Writing Process

Here is the second installment of the Ask an Author series.

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?

I write mainly when I feel inspired but if I have a book on the go, I try to set times for myself to sit down and write. I usually try to make word count goals but I’m not as regimented as I know some other writers are.

How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?

If I’m feeling unmotivated, it is very hard to sit down and write which occurs, unfortunately, more often than not. I sometimes open up my work in progress and sit staring at the screen for a while before closing it and plan to try later. Other times when I get in the zone, I can write for hours.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

Writing. The hardest part of writing for me is actually writing. Most people can come up with book ideas. But not everyone can sit and write for an extended period of time or they give up after a while. Writing chapter after chapter and then having to edit and do rewrites is not easy. As a self-published author, I also do all the formatting, cover design, writing the description, etc. yet the hardest part is still writing the actual book. Figuring out how the plot goes and character development is still easier for me than actually sitting down and writing it out, following it where it leads.

What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?

For me, the easiest aspect of writing is coming up with the idea for a book. I don’t always know how to make it work for a book but ideas will often pop into my head at random times. The main premise of the last book I wrote came while I was shelf-reading at the library I work at.

Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or can you just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?

I can write almost anywhere as long as I’m motivated enough, but I prefer if there aren’t too many distractions.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

On average, it takes me about 1-2 years to write a book.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I don’t have a set way I select character names. Sometimes I’ll choose a name based on a character’s traits or if I want a specific meaning. Other times it’s a name that I hear in a show, movie, book, etc. that I liked and thought it would fit with my character. The majority of the time it involves me browsing through baby names to find one that fits the ethnicity, age, and personality of the character.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I think the hardest part of writing from the opposite sex is making it sound like them. In my case making him talk, think, and respond like a man. But I think that happens whenever you have a character that isn’t like you. You need to get inside their head and write how they would think and respond instead of how you would personally. Their personality, thoughts, background, etc. are not your own so you can’t project your own thoughts and ideas onto them.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

It depends on the book I’m writing. For my latest book, I didn’t have to do any research as it was based on my life and things I already knew. For the book I’m currently writing and for my second book, I’ve had to do more research. My research usually involves finding resources online and in books from reliable sources. (My training in library research and my work in a college library helps with this.) I spend as much time as I need to understand the topic I need and will often do more research if something comes up in the book that I hadn’t thought of when researching or I need more knowledge.

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I like to set a plot so I have an idea of where the story is going but if the story heads in a different direction as I’m writing then I will follow where it leads and adjust my plot accordingly.

Ask an Author #1

I’ll be doing an Ask an Author series consisting of 4 posts where I answer various questions that I got online. This first one is a mixture of questions whereas the succeeding posts will be more theme based.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Not really, although some people think that Angela Suzanne is a pseudonym because I don’t use my last name but Angela Suzanne is my given name. One of the main factors I chose to go with my first and middle names instead of using my last name was because if I was to ever get married, I would be changing my last name and then I’d have to choose if I wanted to change my writing name or not. I may change my last name but my first and middle names will always stay the same.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Yes. I’m currently in a state of reader’s block. There have been numerous books that I’ve started recently and put down after only a chapter or two because I couldn’t get into them. I’ve been finding the same thing with TV shows and movies right now and at times it’s frustrating because I want to watch or read something and nothing catches my interest.

What do you do in your free time?

During the school year, I volunteer with a kids program once a week. I also take part in various activities put on by my church. Other things I do are spend time in nature, nature photography, read, write, listen to music, organize, listen to podcasts, spend time with family, play around with Excel (this one doesn’t happen too often but I do it occasionally).

Do you keep a diary?

Kind of. I have a journal but I’m very sporadic with writing in it. In the last couple of years, I’ve only written in it a handful of times. I used to be better at writing in it. I always plan to get back into it more regularly but haven’t made the effort to do it yet.

Do you have a library at home?

I have a small one. I moved to an apartment a few years ago and I got rid of a lot of books before the move because I didn’t want to have to pack them all up and I knew I wouldn’t have space for all of them.

If you could live anywhere in the world, which country would you choose and why?

Right now, I think I’m happy living in Canada on the prairies. It is where my family is, love the open green spaces, prairie sunsets, “free” healthcare, and it would take me a long time before another country could feel like home. I wouldn’t mind visiting other countries but they’re not home.

Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?

No, but that could be interesting to do. I’d have to stretch my imagination quite a bit as the majority of dreams I remember are very strange and I wouldn’t be share how to incorporate that into a story. Although I probably could create a story from some of the recurring nightmares I had as a kid.

If you had to give up either snacks and drinks during writing sessions or music, which would you find more difficult to say goodbye to?

It depends if the drinks include drinking water as well. The snacks I could give up easily but if I couldn’t drink anything during writing sessions, I would have short unproductive writing sessions because I need to stay hydrated.

Do you like audiobooks, physical books, or e-books better? Why?

I find that they all have the benefits but I prefer physical books. I can take physical books outside to read, it’s not as hard on my eyes, I don’t have to charge them, it’s easier to see how far I am in the book.

What is your favorite word, and why?

I don’t have a favorite word because I like many. I have been accused of using big words and numerous occasions by my brothers. The most recent word that’s been added to the list of words I like is “pusillanimous”. It means showing a lack of courage and resolution; marked by contemptible timidity.

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?

Yes, I believe there is some truth to it. Writers tend to be in their heads a lot and writing itself is generally a solitary endeavor so it leads to writers being by themselves a lot. This isn’t to say that all writers are loners but I think in a generalized sense it has some truth to it. I know I lean toward loner tendencies.

Gasping for Air Giveaway

This is the final post before I’ll be drawing the winners of my Gasping for Air giveaway. Winners will be selected and contacted on Friday, March 29. So get your shares, comments, questions emails, etc. in to get entered. Click here to use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway.

Negative Reviews

I have only ever received one review from someone who doesn’t know me personally and it happens to be the only one out there for people to see.

My last fiction book that I wrote before Gasping for Air was Breaking Free. I did a giveaway on Goodreads, a site where people can keep track of books they have read, want to read, or are currently reading. They can also rate and review books. With their giveaways, people can enter a giveaway for books they might like and it is strongly suggested that the winner writes a review on it.

At the end of my giveaway for Breaking Free, I got an email with the winner’s name and address and I mailed them a copy of my book.

When I went back several months later to see if they had posted a review, any confidence I had in my writing was shattered. It didn’t help matters that I was still in a fragile emotional state from my brother’s death less than a year before and that I knew there was truth to what the reader said.

I received this book free from the Goodreads Giveaway page.

I could not get through this book. The writing is not for me.

First, I will mention in the prologue what really struck me as odd. Page 2 from the book: ‘”You ripped my brother off! He gave you more money than you deserved, you little…” an expletive came out of his mouth and his eyes narrowed in slits.’
Seriously? … Dot, dot, dot? Is it forbidden to type any “expletive”?

The next thing about the writing is that every other sentence and paragraph is “Johnny this, Johnny that”. I can’t get through reading something this way. For example (opening to any random page in the book), “Johnny paced the room. There had to be a reason but Johnny had no idea what it was. Maybe the guards wanted some fun and brought him here to show their superiority. A sound at the door stopped Johnny in his tracks.” and MORE!!! Ugh, this kind of writing just kills me.

I could not even get through Chapter 2. I scanned other pages and it is all written the same way. Sorry, not for me.

This is still the only review out there for people to see and it took me a long time before I was able to write again after reading it. After my brother’s death, I was already struggling with motivation to write so it wasn’t completely the fault of this review.

I hope my writing has improved since and my readers will make their opinions on it.

Have you ever received a negative review on something you’ve done whether the review was posted or someone said it to your face? How did you react?

Gasping for Air Giveaway

Ten more days to enter!

Share or comment on this post on any social media platform or email me your comments or questions at to be entered.

P.S. if you share or comment on the Facebook or Twitter post, it counts.

Click here to use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway.

Why I write books

After releasing a new book, people often ask how it’s selling. I never know exactly how to answer that question as I don’t generally pay much attention to how many books I’ve sold unless I have a bunch of copies sitting around my place. Where I self-publish my books, I don’t have a set number I have to order because they print them as needed so I don’t often have a bunch sitting around. This usually brings to mind why I write books and why I publish.

I don’t write for fame

I know I’ll never be a best-selling author and I don’t want to be. I usually get uncomfortable when people give me compliments and when I’m the center of attention. It would also be a lot of pressure to stay a best-seller.

I don’t write to make a living

Despite what some people may think, it is very hard to make a living writing books. The majority of authors out there have other jobs, are in the retirement stage of life, have a spouse or someone else who is helping support them, or they struggle to get by financially. I have no illusions that being an author is a viable way of supporting myself. Also, I don’t think I would enjoy writing as much if I had to eke out a living doing it. It would take the joy out of it for me.

I write for me

I write novels based off of my life, things I’m passionate about, things I see in culture that frustrate me, and other things that inspire me to write. It’s one of the reasons why if you read my books, they are diverse in their storylines. Each of my books has a piece of me in it. I don’t write traditional happy endings because that’s not the way life typically works but I try to leave them at a slightly hopeful ending. I write to express myself, my thoughts, my ideas, and in the process, I learn something new about myself or see something in a different way.

Gasping for Air Giveaway

Send me your questions, comments, suggestions for future posts (or book ideas), and be entered to win 1 of 2 autographed copies of my latest book, Gasping for Air. Click here to read the first several chapters.

Click here to use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway.

The Story Behind My Book

I’ve been reticent to make this known but Gasping for Air is based on true events. Back in 2014, my second youngest brother drowned while at the beach with friends. Some sections are closer to the true story than others. Some things were simplified, others were changed to make for a better story, and some things were omitted because of other reasons.

The opening line, “When I die, just bury me in a cardboard box” was something my brother actually said two days before he died and I’ll never forget it.

Ironically, the day he died I had gone to the Post Office and picked up a box of copies of my novel Breaking Free which had been released a little over a month prior.

Writing this novel was therapeutic for me in a way and it helped spark my creative juices again in regards to writing. I tried starting on my next novel several months after he died but I couldn’t concentrate and had no motivation to do it.

When I got the idea for this novel, it was going to be about a young woman who loses her brother but it wasn’t originally going to be so closely tied to my story. After my brother died, I realized there wasn’t much out there in fiction and non-fiction related to losing a sibling, especially in young adulthood. There is a lot out there about a parent losing a child and vice versa but not about losing a sibling. I would find the occasional book that mentioned a child losing a sibling or an adult in the late stages of life losing a sibling but nothing in between.

The grief one faces after losing a sibling is often unrecognized or overlooked as everyone focuses on the parents and the spouse and children if they have them.

This book was my way of being heard and giving voice to the grief I faced during that time.

Gasping for Air giveaway

Comment or share this post to be entered to win 1 of 2 autographed copies of my book Gasping for Air. If you share this post, let me know you’ve shared it or click here to enter via RaffleCopter.

Gasping for Air giveaway update

This is my first time doing a giveaway this way and it didn’t occur to me that when people share one of my blog posts straight from the blog I wouldn’t be able to see who shared it. So I’ve created a giveaway using Rafflecopter which you can enter by clicking a href=””>here and select the options that you’ve completed.

You don’t have to use the Rafflecopter link to enter but if you share one of my posts directly from the blog, let me know your name and a way to contact you if you win. You can contact me on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (

To be entered, you need to do one of the following:

  • Comment on this post or other ones posted during the contest
  • Share this post or other ones posted during the contest
  • Ask me a question about writing, any of my books, myself, etc. via a message, email, or a comment (Your question may be featured in a future blog post)
  • Give me a suggestion for a topic you’d like me to blog about (can be sent via message, email, or comment)

Gasping for Air excerpt and giveaway

Giveaway time! I will be giving away 2 autographed copies of my book, Gasping for Air to 2 randomly selected people. I will be randomly selecting two winners on Friday, March 29 at 1:00 pm.

Throughout the contest, I will be posting on Tuesday evenings on topics relevant to Gasping for Air, my current work in progress, and my writing process in general. If people have questions or suggestions, I will also incorporate them into the posts during the contest and possibly continuing past the contest.

To be entered, you need to do one of the following:

  • Comment on this post or other ones posted during the contest
  • Share this post or other ones posted during the contest
  • Ask me a question about writing, any of my books, myself, etc. via a message, email, or a comment (Your question may be featured in a future blog post)
  • Give me a suggestion for a topic you’d like me to blog about (can be sent via message, email, or comment)

Please click on the following link to read the first several chapters of Gasping for Air.
Gasping for Air excerpt

Gasping for Air is available on Amazon

Gasping for Air is now released and available on Amazon. Click the links below to get to the book’s Amazon pages. The book is also available on Amazon in other countries so feel free to look it up.

Amazon Canada
Kindle Canada

Read below for description.

My name is Anne Lily Duke, a young woman in her early twenties, and this is my story. Tragedy struck my family one summer and I struggled to keep my head above water through the grief and feeling like I got lost in the shuffle of my family. God ignored my pleas, leaving me gasping for air. It’s not a happy story and I can’t guarantee a happy ending but nevertheless this is my story.

Gasping for Air Cover Reveal

In three weeks, my new book will be released on Amazon. I’m getting really excited about it as I believe this is my best written book thus far. And yet I’m quite nervous about it as it contains a lot of myself in it. It’s terrifying to open myself up to possible criticism but I’m still excited about it if for no other reason than I completed it. I started it two years ago and it’s finally finished after many stops and starts, doubts and fears.

As a bonus and maybe something to get you excited as well, I’m sharing the cover for the new book. Let me know what you think!