Saturday, April 8, 2017

Gypsies! Wolves! Paranormal! Welcome Young Adult Author Tonya Royston....

      Hello one and all! How are you today? I'm back and hope everyone is doing well and happy! It’s so great to be with all of you again. Welcome back to my writing blog page where I try to share whatever I think may interest you. Sometimes I’ll spotlight an author, other times I’ll share writing information. Whatever I find that others will find beneficial, enjoyable, enlightening and more.

     Of course, by now you all know how very much I love promoting other authors. Today I interview a fellow writer. With me this time is Tonya Royston, author of Young Adult Paranormal novels, as she discusses writing and her two book series, The Sunset Trilogy and the Gypsy Magic Trilogy.
Tonya signing copies of her books.

     Tonya lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, son, two dogs and two horses. Although she dreamed of writing novels at a young age, she was diverted away from that path years ago and built a successful career as a Contracts Manager for a defense contractor in the Washington, DC area. She resurrected her dream of writing in 2013 and hasn’t stopped since the first words of The Sunset Trilogy were unleashed. Shadows at Sunset, Book 1 of The Sunset Trilogy, is her first novel.

      When she isn't writing, Tonya spends time with her family. She enjoys skiing, horseback riding, and anything else that involves the outdoors.

     Welcome Tonya! Thanks so much for joining us here. You are quite a busy writer we must learn more. Shall we begin to learn more about you and your writing?
Tonya's 1st book & 1st in her series.

     SJ: You have been quite the busy beaver since I read your first book Shadows at Sunset in 2015. That is quite a bit of writing. Can you tell us a little bit of how the idea evolved for each one? How did you keep yourself going?

     Tonya: Actually, I had the idea for The Sunset Trilogy, a story about a girl who can communicate with animals, for about six months before I decided to pursue this premise. At first, I didn’t think I could make it interesting. No one’s going to want to read a story about a girl who just talks to animals. In fact, I didn’t even want to write that. It had to be something tied into a human interest story. But a few months later, my son wandered away from our house one spring day. That’s where I got the idea for the little boy’s rescue in the beginning. And once I started getting ideas about Noah and Xander, not to mention the way to add in some black bears and moose, I didn’t stop until the story was finished. I have also found that the more ideas I have and the more I write, the more ideas I get. I’m not sure how that happens, but maybe the ideas just build upon each other.

Tonya's 1st book in her 2nd series.

     SJ: Please tell us about your newest release in your second book series, The Gypsy Magic Trilogy….

     Tonya: Gypsy Souls, Book 2 in this series, was released in December. This is probably the favorite of all my books even though it was definitely the hardest one to write. There are a lot of scenes in this one inspired by my young son. I put a lot of emotion into this book including development of a deceased character. I really loved getting more into the lives of Lucian and his little sister who was murdered. But lastly, I think the ending to this book is my best one yet. I was a bit apprehensive about ending this book with a teaser for the last book in the trilogy, but I’m so glad I did it. It was like a dare to myself, but in a good way.

     SJ: How extensive was your research for each one of your books? How much fact and fiction did you roll into each one?

     Tonya: I don’t do much research unless I need to. Writing paranormal stories mean they don’t have to be real, right? However, for The Sunset Trilogy, I did some research on the Underground Railroad to make sure I had the right dates and look at the routes, even though I knew one went straight through New Hampshire since I knew of a house in the area that had been part of the Underground Railroad. I also did some research on moose to get weight and size right. I didn’t do much research on wolves, but when I visited a wolf sanctuary while I was working on the story, I found out that I had most of it right.

      SJ: If you could turn one of your books into a film, which one would you choose and why?

      Tonya: The Sunset Trilogy because I just think it’s something people would love to see. In fact, it’s my best seller at events so far and I get asked at least once at every event about it being made into a movie. However, the most important thing to me if this was ever picked up to be made into a movie, would be that any live animals used would be treated exceptionally well. It would probably be even better if CGI was used for the animal scenes. Because of the animal theme to this story, it would be pretty expensive to be made into a film. So first, the books need more exposure, more reviews and more hype before this would even be a remote possibility. I even had a girl contact me through my website and all she asked was if I had ever considered making The Sunset Trilogy into a movie. I’m guessing she enjoyed it! 

       SJ: How did you find the transition from being published by a small press to going self-published? Any pros or cons you wish to share? Do you recommend it to others? 

       Tonya: I am very glad I made the move to self-publish, but I’m also extremely relieved I didn’t self-publish from the beginning. I learned a lot from the small press who took a chance on The Sunset Trilogy and I learned a lot from the editors. However, by branching out on my own, I’ve hired new editors and I’ve learned even more from them. I’m glad to not be working with the same editors all the time. I learned that the more editors you can work with, the better. Self-publishing costs more up front because I have to pay for editing and formatting. However, I’m pretty comfortable with my writing and I just hired a proof reader for the last one. But I love being able to control everything including the timing of releases. I expect I’ll continue to self-publish from now on.

      SJ: What do you love most about being a writer? Least?

      Tonya: I love creating something out of the air. I thrive on the challenge of finding the right words to convey certain feelings and making my work better and better. I also love getting out there to meet people at events, and of course, I love hearing from readers who tell me they enjoyed my stories. But more than that, I think I just love escaping into a fantasy world. I feel like I’m living these stories and I love working on each manuscript so much that sometimes I simply can’t shut down my computer (much to my husband’s chagrin). What I like the least is that I spend so much time on writing, promotions, events, etc., that my household chores have suffered. I used to be a much better housekeeper and I miss my really clean house! Although it’s not bad now, especially since I do a massive cleaning after each book is finished, it’s definitely not getting the time I used to put into it. At least I only have to worry about weeding the yard in the summer because that can get pretty bad, too. I never dreamed how much time I would end up putting into my writing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Book events take a lot of time – that’s where I end up losing most of my weekends – but I love getting out and talking to people.

       SJ:  What writer inspired you most and how?

       Tonya: I honestly can’t say any one writer has inspired me to write. I think the stories in my head do that. Many of the writers everyone has heard of – Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, etc. – have inspiring stories and great advice. However, the writers that influence me the most today are the struggling indie writers. I’ve read a lot of great books lately by unknown authors. By unknown – I mean to most people. These writers are the real deal. They are struggling every day to get one new reader or one new review. And yet, they aren’t giving up. There’s a lot of talent out there. I’ve read self-published books I felt were better than some books published by one of the big publishers. So these indie writers inspire me – not just to write, but to keep going and never give up. Because if they can do it, I know I can, too.

      SJ: If you could give just one piece of important writing advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?
      Tonya: Never give up. Learn from your mistakes and keep going at it. And don’t let anyone tell you not to pursue your dream.

      SJ: What is a favorite book you enjoyed reading and would recommend without hesitation? Why?

      Tonya: I absolutely loved Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. It has wolves and a love triangle and it was extremely well written. It was one of the first books I read in the YA paranormal romance genre when I knew I wanted to start writing.

      SJ: In closing, and without giving too much away, do you have any more projects in the immediate future? We’d love to hear about it.

      Tonya: I am currently working on the third and final book in The Gypsy Magic Trilogy. I finished the rough draft about two months ago, but it still needs a lot of work. I’m hoping to have it done and out by early summer. This series has a murder mystery, but it isn’t solved until this last book. So I want to be very careful with this final book before it comes out. Although I have to say, when I wrote the rough draft, there were a few twists I didn’t see coming, but I’m really happy with them!

     Thanks so much, Tonya for participating. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you. Thank you so much for allowing us to take some time out of your very busy schedule and interview you. Readers, as always, thank you so much for stopping by. 
     Take note, you may find all of Tonya’s books at on-line booksellers and independent booksellers. Signed paperbacks can be purchased directly from Tonya. Visit the Contact page on her website to learn more.

*25 cents for every copy sold of each book in The Sunset Trilogy and $1.00 for every copy sold of each book in The Gypsy Magic Trilogy will be donated to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. Click   to learn more about this organization and their mission to help animals and the environment.

     Visit Tonya’s website:

Before we go, we can’t say goodbye without posting an excerpt from Tonya’s book, Gypsy Magic. Enjoy!

I wasn’t sure how far I had gone or how long I had been running, mostly uphill, when the air turned icy. Stopping, I wrapped my arms around my chest and rubbed my forearms. Shivers skated through me as I stared in the direction the dogs had gone. I wanted to turn around, but I couldn’t stop now. I had come this far and I wouldn’t give up.

Taking a deep breath, I forced my legs back into motion. My muscles burned from every step, but I pushed forward.
As I headed farther into the woods, the temperature continued to drop. The leaves disappeared, the trees with barren limbs void of any life making it look as if it was the dead of winter. Thick clouds dropped from the sky that only minutes ago had been bright blue. I trudged on, but with each step I took, the woods grew darker and colder.

Finally, I stopped, not sure if I should continue. I had lost sight of the dogs and just about everything else. Fog had fallen over the treetops, draping them like heavy cotton. Mist rose from the ground, blurring the logs and underbrush around me. How was this possible? It had been beautiful all day, and now I felt like I’d stepped into a dense cloud. Fear raced through me. I whipped around, not sure which way I was going or which direction I had come from. I was completely disoriented. The dogs were gone, and now I might not make it home. I didn’t even have my phone. A lot of good it would do me where I’d left it in my room.

When a twig snapped behind me, I turned but saw nothing. A gust of wind whipped my curls across my face. As I reached up to push them aside, hushed voices whispered in the breeze and I looked up to see hundreds of black birds circling overhead. They cried out, some of them flying into each other.

No! I thought. This isn’t happening. It can’t be. Today was sunny and warm. The weather couldn’t have changed this fast. It must be a dream.

But it was real. Panic ripped through me as another stick broke. I scanned the surrounding woods, but all I could see was white. The birds’ squawking grew louder, sounding like they were closing in on me. When I shifted my gaze up to them, they scattered as if threatened.

Quiet followed, but only for a moment before the sound of galloping hooves erupted in the distance. The thundering grew louder, coming closer as the land trembled beneath my feet. I couldn’t tell if it was one horse or several. All I knew was that it or they were closing in on me, roaring behind me like a freight train about to hit.

Then the pounding stopped. Silence surrounded me, and I swallowed nervously, not trusting it. Holding my breath, I spun around to come face to face with the muzzle of a black horse less than an inch away. Nostrils flaring, its breath blew against my cheek.

I stood still, paralyzed as my fear of horses returned with a vengeance. I had nowhere to go. I was at the mercy of this beast. Closing my eyes, I did the only thing I could think of. I prayed.
“You shouldn’t be here,” a deep voice said.

I looked up past the horse’s wild eyes raging from under its long mane. As my pulse quickened, my gaze locked with a pair of blazing green eyes. I gasped, wondering what Lucian was doing out here and how he had found me. Aside from his light brown hair and pale complexion, his shirt and jeans were as black as the horse he sat upon. His silver cross gleamed in the mist, the religious symbol giving me hope that I would be safe. He held the reins loosely, and his horse pranced in place as if ready to spring into a gallop at any moment. It was massive, several inches taller than Gypsy. A stallion, I presumed. His ebony coat glistened with sweat, his veins rippling like cords under his taught skin. He snorted impatiently, tossing his head.

“I…I got lost,” I managed to say. My voice barely a whisper, I wasn’t sure he heard me over his horse’s flaring nostrils.
Lucian stared at me, his eyes and scowl colder than I remembered. “This isn’t a place you want to get lost in.”

“I kind of figured that out.”

He continued glaring at me, his silence unnerving. I backed up a step as a new panic surged through me. What would he do with me now that he had found me here, lost and alone in the fog? I didn’t know which direction was the way home. I could try to run, but where would I go? And I could never outrun his horse.

As I took another step back, Lucian shifted the reins to one hand and tugged them against his horse’s neck. The horse immediately stepped to the side. Then he moved up a few feet until Lucian was directly in front of me. Dropping his arm down to me, he held his hand open. “Get on. I’ll take you home.”

The breath I held escaped from my lungs with relief. When I reached for his arm, Lucian’s fingers curled around my wrist in a viselike grip before he lifted me off my feet. The horse was so tall that I struggled to clear his hindquarters. My leg bumped him a few times, but he didn’t flinch. He stood perfectly still as I settled onto his back right behind the saddle. The heat rising from his flank penetrated my jeans, warming me up from the chill in the air.
Lucian never let go of my hand. Instead, he pulled it around his chest. I wrapped my other arm around him and locked my hands together.
“Hold on,” he said over his shoulder before whipping the horse to the side in a ninety degree turn. Then we shot forward like a rocket.
I squeezed Lucian as I pressed my cheek against his back. He barely moved as if he and the horse were one.

Lucian guided the galloping horse through the woods, missing the trees with only inches to spare. They were hard to see in the fog, only emerging from the cloudy mist when we were about a foot away. I flinched every time it looked like we would hit one. After the third time, I closed my eyes and concentrated on the horse’s rhythmical stride. I tried to relax, but it was next to impossible riding on the back of a powerful animal, my arms wrapped around a guy I hardly knew. And what I did know about him was unsettling at best.

*And don't forget: 25 cents for every copy sold of each book in The Sunset Trilogy and $1.00 for every copy sold of each book in The Gypsy Magic Trilogy will be donated to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. Click here  to learn about this organization and their mission to help animals and the environment.

Feel free to connect with Tonya at any of her Social Media Links. She’d love to hear from you:

Thank you all for visiting with us. It’s always a pleasure to meet readers and authors. Until next month, every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey. One person, one voice can make a difference. Read a book and pass it on. Leave a review. Reviews are important for authors. Believe me. I know. Thank you!

S. J. Francis, Writing is my passion, but animals are my world. 
Advocate for the underdog, and cat, and supporting writers, et al.

In Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family." Available now from Black Opal Books and for sale at all on-line retailers and independent booksellers. "Some secrets should remain that way."

                     Shattered Lies is a Finalist in the 2016 Wishing Shelf Independer Book Awards.

       Shattered Lies is a winner in the Fall 2016 NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Book Awards for Women's Fiction. 

       Shattered Lies is a runner-up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Best Book Award Competition.
    Shattered Lies is a 2016 Reader's Favorite Honorable Mention in the Fiction - Women’s category.  

          Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards.

 Shattered Lies was chosen as General Fiction Official Selection in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards.

   The 2nd, new book cover design for Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 2016 Authors dB Best Cover Contest. 

   The first, original book cover design for Shattered Lies was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Authors dB Best Cover Contest. 

My Black Opal Books Author Page:
       A Book Review 4 U:
      A Consumer's View:
                  One for the Animals:

And now for some legal stuff: Copyright 2017 by S.J. Francis. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, S. J. Francis and the guest author and are meant to entertain, inform and enlighten, and intend to offend no one.


  1. I know Tonya from being a fellow Black Opal Book author. This was a thorough and interesting interview. I loved the other information at the end too, S.J., about the pets and also about your own book. This was good. You put a lot of time and care into your blog. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Linda for taking the time to stop by. And a comment, too. Thanks. Greatly appreciated! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the blog! Always fun, but lots of work to do!
      Cheers! S.J. Francis

  2. I've heard of these books from my daughter. She read one, which one I can't recall and wanted to read more. I shall pass this on to her. I enjoyed this interview and learned a great deal about the books and the marvelously talented author behind them! So nice to meet you, Miss Royston. My daughter is enthralled with your wolf series. I must admit to reading it, too.

    1. Hello Annyce! thank you so much for taking time to stop by and leave a comment, too! Tonya and I greatly appreciate you doing that! So glad to hear that both of you enjoyed her book. tonya is a talented writer and avid animal lover like moi!
      Thanks again. have a great weekend!
      Cheers! S.J. Francis

    2. Anncye - I'm so glad to hear your daughter enjoyed one of my books. I hope she will finish the series! Thank you for letting me know! Tonya