Author Interview: Anne J. Hill

Recently, I participated in AJ Skelly’s The Bookish Bash on Facebook. I offered a feature on my blog as a giveaway, and I am happy that author and editor Anne J. Hill won! In addition to being an author and editor, Anne is a direct support professional, meaning she helps adults with autism in their homes, in Pennsylvania. When not writing, reading, or doing other bookish things, Anne enjoys hanging out with her friends and family, playing sports, babysitting the kiddos in her family, or watching shows. Fun fact: Anne turned her basement into her office and library and refers to it as her Book Dungeon.

To learn more, read our full interview below!

Anne J. Hill (photo provided by Anne)

Q)  How long have you been writing?

A) Since I was eight years old. 

Q) Why do you write?

A) Because I don’t know how NOT to write. It’s just apart of me and always will be. And I enjoy using stories and words to bring hope to people, hope in the midst of darkness. 

Q) What is your favorite genre to read?

A) Dark Fantasy is my favorite genre. I love stories that drag you to dark places, show you the terrors of life, and then present you with hope even in the darkest night.

Q) Describe yourself in three words.

A) Talkative. Determined. Compassionate. 

Q) Who is someone that inspires you?

A) When it comes to writing, Neil Gaiman.

Q) Can you tell us about what stories/books you have currently available?

A) I have an anthology called What Darkness Fears, featuring stories that portray light overcoming the dark. And I have a kiddy lit book that I wrote when I was 8 and has new characters inspired by my nieces and nephews called The Laughing Pigs.

Q) Can you tell us about your stories that will be in upcoming anthologies?

A) I have a story that’s a continuation of “Light Dawns in Darkness,” the first story in What Darkness Fears. It’s called “The Man of Twists and Turns,” a retelling of Odysseus. These short stories are sneak peeks into a series I’m slowly writing.

Q) Can you tell readers about any of your current writing projects?

A) I’m working on a dark fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. The plan is for it to be my debut novel. 

Q) Can you tell us about your own upcoming anthology Fool’s Honor?

A) It’s an anthology about trickster characters. The good, the bad, and the ones in between. 

Q) What goals do you have for your writing?

A) I want to release my debut novel next November, hopefully!

Q) Can you tell us about your editing services?

A) I offer developmental, line, copy, and proofreading, prices differ. For more information, you can visit

Q) Can you tell us how your faith intersects with your writing?

A) I believe God created us in His own image, and part of His image is creating. The very act of writing and creating stories is a reflection of God.

Q) Will you tell us a little about your own faith journey?

A) I was raised in a Christian home and accepted God into my heart when I was 13. But a few years back, I decided to follow my own path and ignored God, but He never turned away from me and slowly, over time, drew me back to Him.

Q) Do you have a favorite Bible verse? 

A) Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live in faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. 

Q) What advice would you offer aspiring authors? 

A) Don’t give up! When your stories get rejected, don’t stop. Rejection does not mean you’re not good enough. It only means you have room to grow and learn. Every famous author faced rejection, but the key is, they took the critique, used it, and got better. They didn’t stop. Writing is hard. Find people to support you. Find people who will be honest with you, but will also encourage you. 

Image provided by Anne J. Hill.

Be sure to visit Anne’s website and follow her on Instagram and Facebook!

Author Interview: Cassandra Hamm

Cassandra Hamm is the winner of The Unicorn Writer’s first flash fiction contest! As such, I had the privilege of interviewing her. Cassandra is a librarian residing in Missouri. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, building puzzles, playing strategy games (like Dominion and Carcassonne), and mothering her two kittens, Keefe and Chase.

A fun fact about Cassandra is that her pets serve as inspiration for her. She stated, “My pets are such an inspiration for me, particularly my kittens, Keefe and Chase, and my recently departed cat Holly. Keefe and Chase’s antics are the inspiration for much of the dragon Lime’s behavior, and Holly’s cantankerous, lovable weirdness shows up in another animal character, the pinecat Evergreen. Suffice it to say that I am a cat lady who may eventually end up with a Warrior Clan.”

Read the full interview below to learn more!

Cassandra Hamm (Photo provided by Cassandra).

Q) How long have you been writing?

A) I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I started out writing about my childhood pets and penning Warriors fanfiction, but I eventually realized that I preferred writing human MCs over animal MCs. I primarily wrote novels for most of my life, but three years ago, I started writing short stories and found I quite enjoyed them. I also have dabbled in poetry for most of my life and performed spoken word poetry in college.

Q) Why do you write?

A) I write because I want to touch people’s hearts and lives through my words. I used to be a very close-minded person who couldn’t understand perspectives outside her own, but reading helped expand my perspective and created empathy in me. I want to help foster empathy in others too. Plus, my characters’ stories are begging to be told. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine not writing. It’s as much a part of my life as breathing.

Q) What are your top three favorite books and why?

A) My three favorite books are Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Neverseen by Shannon Messenger, and Of Witches and Wind by Shelby Bach. Six of Crows is a masterpiece—a twisty, intense plot; lovable, broken, morally gray characters; and a vivid, transportive world. I would die for the Keeper of the Lost Cities characters (particularly Keefe, hence my cat’s name), and I’m so impressed with Shannon Messenger’s ability to plot. (I need Sophie and Keefe to get together.) Of Witches and Wind (and the whole Ever Afters series) got me back into reading middle grade fiction. I love the character arcs and the delightful fairy tale mashups, and Rory and Chase are one of my favorite ships of all time.

Q) Describe yourself in three words.

A) I would say creative, anxious, and passionate.

Q) What song would be your life’s theme song?

A) I mostly listen to instrumental movie soundtracks and Broadway musicals, so this is a bit of a difficult question for me, but I would have to say “Watch What Happens” from the musical Newsies. It’s sung by a girl who’s one of the only women writers of her time. The lines about not knowing what or how to write and wishing the story would write itself are particularly relatable. Then, in the chorus, she sings about how her words have the power to change lives. What I write may seem insignificant to me at the time, but it really can have an impact. Not everything in this song is applicable to me, but it’s the best I can think of for a theme song.

Q) Who is someone who inspires you?

A) Mary Weber, author of the Storm Siren series (and more), is such an inspiration. She lives authentically and fearlessly and spends her time pouring into other people. She’s also an incredible writer who creates vivid worlds and amazing characters and powerful themes, like that of healthy empowerment. I absolutely adore in To Best the Boys how Rhen, a “career woman,” and her cousin Seleni, who wants to be a mom, are both validated and celebrated.

Q) Can you tell us about what stories/books you have currently available?

A) Though I don’t have any novels published yet, my short stories and poems are featured in nine anthologies. I’ll explain more about the Havok anthologies below, but the others are Warriors Against the Storm, Faces to the Sun, When Your Beauty is the Beast, The Depths We’ll Go To, and Aphotic Love (unreleased). Fantasy is my primary genre, but I have some science fiction and contemporary in there as well. I also have stories available in digital form through Havok Publishing.

Q) You have written flash fiction for Havok. Can you tell us about your Havok stories and how people can read them?

A) So far, Havok has published twenty-six of my 1000-word flash fiction stories. Another story (which actually involves my MG main character as a college student) will release in January. Havok’s stories are available to the public for one day; after that, only members have access. However, the membership is only five dollars a year. I’ve been published in all five Havok genres—fantasy, science fiction, comedy, thriller, and mystery. My stories range from emotional and gut-wrenching, like “Stealer of Secrets” and “The Candlemaker,” to hilariously strange, like “Secret Agent Lampshade” and “Mustard Maid,” and everything in between. Havok published six of my stories in their seasonal anthologies—Stories that Sing, Bingeworthy, Sensational, and Prismatic—and a seventh story, formerly published on Havok, is now available in the The Depths We’ll Go To, edited by Alex Silvius.

Q) Can you tell readers about any of your current writing projects?

A) I’m currently working on a middle grade urban fantasy novel about a boy who’s trying to get rid of the tiny dragon living under his bed. He ends up caring for the creature, but when he turns thirteen at the end of the school year, he’ll forget magical creatures ever existed. The winning story, “Dragons Will Melt Your Heart,” features the characters from my WIP. I’m keeping my young adult projects a little more under wraps, mainly because I’m still ironing out the ideas, but one of them involves pearl diving, sea serpents, and elemental magic.

Q) What goals do you have for your writing?

A) I would love to be published at one of the Big Five publishing houses someday. Whatever the case, I want to traditionally publish young adult and middle grade fantasy fiction that touches lives and hearts.

Q) What advice would you offer aspiring authors?

A) When people criticize your work, they are not criticizing you; they’re criticizing something you made. Your work might feel like an extension of yourself, but it’s not—it’s something that can and should always be improved. Learning to accept criticism was one of the best—and hardest—things I’ve ever had to learn as an author. I still struggle not to get discouraged when I receive negative feedback. What I do is process it for a few days before looking back at it with fresh eyes. Then I am emotionally ready to work on improving the story. 

Q) Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you so much for choosing my fun MG story! Middle grade is a recent passion of mine, but it’s an important genre that can really encourage and shape its readers. I hope other people love Drew and Lime as much as you guys did.

Be sure to follow Cassandra on Instagram and Facebook!

The Unicorn Writer Announces First Flash Fiction Contest Winner!

Congratulations to Cassandra Hamm in winning The Unicorn Writer’s First Flash Fiction Contest!

Cassandra Hamm is a psychology nerd, jigsaw puzzler, and hopeless romantic who spends most of her time lost in another world. Her work appears in various anthologies, including Stories that Sing, Bingeworthy, Sensational, and Prismatic from Havok Publishing; Warriors Against the Storm; When Your Beauty is the Beast; The Depths We’ll Go To; and Faces to the Sun. She suspects she may end up as a cat lady (or the owner of a Warrior Clan).

Read Cassandra’s winning story below!

“Dragons Will Melt Your Heart”

“I dare you to stick your face in the snow.”

I scowl at my best friend, Zeke and try to fold my arms over my chest. His mom only made him wear a coat and gloves, but Mom made me wear long johns––whatever those are––plus my sweatpants, three layers of shirts, a coat, a hat, and gloves. I can barely move.

But my face isn’t covered, and it definitely doesn’t want to go in the snow. Not on my first snow day in ages.

“Why would he do that?” Courtney, my other best friend, wrinkles her nose. At least it looks like she has to wear lots of layers too. “That’s just dumb.”

You’re dumb.” Zeke’s face is so red I can barely see the acne. “Do it or you’re a wuss, Drew.”

Well, we’re right outside my house, so I could warm up super quickly afterward. I bet Mom will be ready with hot chocolate—the weird, store brand kind, but still chocolatey goodness. And he dared me. I can’t back down.

“Drew?” Zeke says.

You do it,” I say.

“I dared you first.”


“Did you guys hear that?” Courtney interrupts.

“Huh?” Now I notice the sizzling sound, almost like bacon crackling on the stove.

I turn around. A tiny, bright green dragon is sitting on the snow-covered steps. My mouth drops open. “Lime! What are you doing out here?”

Lime reaches a clawed foot toward the snowy yard. She yelps and yanks it back.

“You idiot. Snow is cold. See? Cold.”

She glares at me with fierce yellow eyes. She must’ve snuck outside without any of us noticing. Any adult who sees her will just think she’s a lizard. But if she starts breathing fire…

“Oh, is this her first snow?” Courtney bends over and stares at the mini dragon. She’s doing that baby talk thing again. “How is it, Lime? Don’t you just love the fragrance of fresh snow?”

Zeke snorts. “Did you just say ‘fragrance’?”

Courtney yanks her scarf up, making her glasses fog up. “Yeah, so?”

I point at Lime. “Um, is no one else concerned that my mythic snuck out of the house?”

“If you’re so worried, go grab her,” Zeke says.

“Uh, no! She’d bite my finger off!”

He shrugs. “Sucks to be you.”

Lime blows a puff of flame at my yard. The snow sizzles and shrinks with a popping sound—the sound I heard earlier.

“Hey!” I say. “Don’t melt it!”

She gives me a look like, Why not?

“If you melt it, we won’t have a snow day tomorrow!”

“We probably won’t anyway.” Courtney adjusts her hat so it covers her red-tipped ears. “Not unless it snows again tonight. The roads will be cleared by then––”

“Don’t ruin my dreams!” I step hesitantly toward Lime. She watches me warily. I almost expect her to growl. “I’ll open the door if you sneak back inside.”

Lime sniffs disdainfully.

“What? You’re super good at sneaking. I bet Mom wouldn’t even notice.”

She blows another spark, like she’s thinking about setting me on fire. Maybe it would actually warm me up. Not that I’m cold or anything…

“You can’t breathe fire while you’re outside,” I say. “Or, like, ever. ’Cause either someone’s gonna see you or you’re gonna burn stuff down.”

She huffs, like, You underestimate my self control.

“You have literally zero self control. Remember when you chewed those cords––”

“Maybe you should be nicer to her, Drew,” Courtney says. “Also, I thought you were over the cord thing.”

“Nope and nope,” I say.

“Just grab the lizard and get it back inside,” Zeke says. “Then we can actually have fun.”

Lime’s eyes glint dangerously.

“Not a lizard and not an it,” I say quickly, but it’s too late. Lime shoots a tiny river of flame at my front yard. The snow melts, forming a hole for her to dive into. I gape as she starts tunneling toward us—toward Zeke.

“You just offended a mythic!” Courtney glares at Zeke like she doesn’t care about the tiny dragon barreling toward us.

Zeke backpedals as Lime continues heating her very noticeable, very unsubtle way through the snow.

“You know you can’t do that!” Courtney continues. “Especially not a dragon! Their memories are, like, perfect—”

“Shut up and help me, Courtney!” Zeke cries as he reaches the sidewalk.

“What am I supposed to do? You’re the one who offended her!”

I start toward Lime, then hesitate. She might burn my feet if I get in her way. Maybe I should just let her chase Zeke. Serves him right.

“I’m out.” Zeke takes off down the street. His feet fly out from underneath him, and he smashes into the snowy sidewalk, groaning.

Lime emerges from my lawn, leaving a glowing snow tunnel behind her. It starts caving in. Maybe people will just think it was from Zeke and Courtney and me. I don’t want to have to explain a weird, super-heated tunnel, and I also don’t want to touch it in case it’s still hot.

Lime shakes off her scales and starts after Zeke, who’s now running again.

“Wait!” I shout. “I’ll give you coins!”

She pauses, side-eyeing me.

“Lots of coins. All the ones from my allowance. You can add them to your hoard.”

She cocks her head, considering. Then she grins at me.

I let out a breath. Zeke owes me big time for this. “Um… can you go back inside now?”

Lime looks at the snow, then at me. Her big yellow eyes make me melt.

“Fine. Don’t do the fire thing, okay?” I edge toward Lime. When she doesn’t attack, I lean down and pick her up. I grunt. When did she get so heavy?

“She has you trained,” Courtney says. I still need to sneak Lime past Mom and explain away the mess of the front yard. But Courtney’s laughter warms me all the way to my frozen feet.

Special thanks to Cassandra and all those that entered! And a very special thanks to the guest judge Hannah Carter!

Be sure to follow the blog to see when the next contest is announced in the new year!

Author Interview: Hannah Carter

Last year, I interviewed author Hannah Carter, but since she is currently my co-judge for the flash fiction contest, I thought it would be fun to re-interview her! Hannah is currently a pharmacy technician in Kentucky. In her free time she enjoys writing, reading, dancing, singing, being bullied by her cats, playing Nintendo games, and watching movies, TV shows, or random “Fascinating Horror” and “Behind the Attractions” videos on YouTube. A fun fact about Hannah is that she has been to Mexico and Hong Kong through mission work! Read our full interview below to learn more about this awesome human!

Photo submitted by Hannah Carter.

Q. How long have you been writing?

A.  I’ve been writing for as long as I remember—I know that’s always what people say, but it’s really true! My first diaries aren’t filled with much about my days, but with what could loosely be called “weird 7-year-old fanfiction starring Scooby-Doo and the Wiggles (and also mermaids and princesses).” My first original “story” was a historical fiction, which included excruciating details of how long it took the heroine to complete her morning routine (including 5 minutes allotted for hair brushing). However, when I read Donita K. Paul’s DragonKeeper series, I suddenly knew fantasy was going to be my one true love.

Q. Why do you write? 

A. I write for many reasons: I have to, for one reason! My brain is always daydreaming, and I have such a deep urge to bring all these fictional creatures running about my brain to life. I enjoy it so much that it’s always been my dream job. But, most importantly, I write because I love to share the Gospel through my writings. I think that everything we write should bring glory to God, whether we live in Middle Earth or “real” Earth. Even if not all my books are “explicitly” Christian, I believe that writing clean, fun, books for people is part of my calling. And I am a firm believer that the Gospel can be shared through any medium—even if that wasn’t the author’s intent! My faith is so important to me that I would love to think that it is pervasive throughout everything, and that people will somehow be drawn closer to God through my writings and life.

Q. What are your top three favorite books to read and why?

A. Okay, you know how hard this question is for me! 😉 I have so many! So, I’ll just say that these aren’t in order, and I won’t be picking any favorite children! Hehe. 

  1. My current read: The Blackthorn Key Series. I picked this one as my favorite because I’m currently reading it, and every time I re-enter this world, I never want to leave! I love the ciphers, the mysteries, the adventure—and I love how it blends historical fiction with mild fantasy. “Is this magical? Or is it just science?” AH, it’s so good! Plus, I love that there’s no overwhelming love scene. I have a favorite ship, but it’s definitely a slow-burn (they’re only 14, after all), but they’re such cute babies that I love them. 
  2. My favorite comfort series: Howl’s Moving Castle Trilogy. AHHHH, what can I say about Diana Wynne Jones’ masterpiece except… this is every aesthetic that I can ever dream about. *chef’s kiss* And…HOWL! Oh, I love him. He is mine, and I am Sophie. I love the whimsy worldbuilding, I love the characters, I love their interactions, I love how quotable it is. I love reading this series and the Studio Ghibli movie annually.
  3. My forever obsession: Beaumont and Beasley Series. I. Am. OBSESSED. If you love Disney, if you love fantasy, if you love hilarious characters, emotional scenes that rip your heart out, AMAZING ships, scenes between those ships that give you ALL THE FEELS, good writing, and sarcastic dragons, then PLEASE check out this series. I cannot recommend it enough!

    There are definitely more, but I’ll limit myself to these… though I’ll throw honorable mention to Narnia, DragonKeeper, and the Serafina series because I would feel bad not to mention them! 😉 

Q. Describe yourself in three words.

A. Oh, dear… Quirky. Whimsy. Dreamer. (Indecisive is definitely fourth. ;))

Q. What song would be your life’s theme song? 

A. Oh, no! I have too many genres, too many phases of my life… I can’t pick just one! 😉 So, I let a Buzzfeed quiz pick (because who else should I go to for advice?) and I got “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. Which, considering how often I scream-sing these lyrics in the car is… pretty accurate.

Q. Who is someone that inspires you?

A. Again, I have way too many people that inspire me, and I feel like if I leave someone out, then they might get their feelings hurt, lol. SO— to avoid any hurt feelings, I’m deliberately not singling out someone that I know personally. That being said: C.S. Lewis. I adore his friendship with Tolkein and they’re pretty much best friend goals, I love his wisdom and his words. I love how he could easily switch from being both whimsical to deep. I love how profound his works are, almost deceptively so. And I love how hilarious he is! He and Tolkein once dressed up as polar bears and went to a party… which was not a costume party. I love them so much!

Q. Can you tell us what stories/books you currently have available? 

  1. Amir & the Moon— a novella on Amazon.
  2. Seashells— a novella on Amazon.
  3. Finding God in Anime— I have 3 devotions in this devotional; I love collaborating with all the other amazing writers! You can buy this on Amazon as well.
  4. Whispers From Before— my story, “Of Underwoods and Underworlds,” is included in this mythology anthology with SR Press. I’ve had so much fun working with these wonderful ladies, and I can’t wait for you all to read them! Pre-orders are live now on SR Press’ website!
  5. The Depths We’ll Go—my flash fiction piece, “What the Ocean Stole,” is included in this anthology. Keep a lookout for how to purchase! 
  6. Go Havok flash fiction pieces— if you have a subscription to Go Havok, you’ll have unlimited access to all of my flash fiction stories that I’ve written!
  7. Prismatic— and don’t forget that you can check out two of my stories: “Potts & Pumpkins” and “A Home for Nova,” in Havok’s upcoming anthology, Prismatic! 
Photo provided by Hannah Carter.

Q. Can you tell us about your stories that will be in upcoming anthologies?

A. I’d love to! So, in “Whispers From Before,” I have “Of Underwoods and Underworlds.” This story is about a one-woman magical disaster, Haddie Underwood, who accidentally sends the head prefect of her school into the Underworld and is tasked with rescuing him. Without spoiling too much, I promise that there will be adventure, mayhem, chaos, and (hopefully) a little sarcastic humor along the way! OUaU is a gender-bent retelling of the story of Hades and Persephone, which was fun to work with as well. 

The Depths We’ll Go To, I have “What the Ocean Stole.” This is a darker flash fiction, about someone struggling to regain their memories after a horrific accident… or is there something far more sinister at play here? 

In Prismatic, I have “A Home for Nova” and “Potts & Pumpkins.” In AHfN, it’s about an orphaned girl who has been tossed out of society because of some peculiar traits. It’s a fantasy as well, but I don’t want to reveal the twist too early! In P&P, Coppelia Potts, Nightmare Hunter, is tasked with solving a mystery about dancing pumpkins. But is the culprit mischievous…or magical? 

Q. Can you tell readers about any of your current writing projects?

A. Sure! Right now, I’m working on a trickster short story to submit to another anthology. It’s rough going so far, but I’m hopeful that I can make something out of the one or two starts I have! I also am working on a book about spirit walkers, a concept where someone can willingly let their spirit wander away from their body. It’s also got some ties to Asian mythology, about soul mates being connected by invisible strings.

Q. Can you tell us about your experience with flash fiction?

A. Sure! So, before December 2020, I had never read or heard of flash fiction. Then, through Instagram, I heard of Go Havok and was intrigued. I checked it out and decided that I would try and submit to their “green” theme. My first piece was “Fae Blood,” which I wrote in a van on a mission trip to Mexico. It was so nerve-wracking to submit it (still is, honestly!), but it was all worth it when I heard a few weeks later that it had been accepted! Now, I’ve written a handful of pieces for Havok, which include the Potts siblings and their shenanigans, as well as my moon elf saga. I also wrote a piece of flash fiction under 200 words for one of Cassandra Hamm’s prompts and won that! That one was about forbidden spy love.

I think my favorite thing about flash fiction is how succinct you have to be. The word limit somehow invigorates me and helps me to be more concise and creative. There can’t be any wasted words. I love the challenge!

Q. What are you most excited about being a co-judge for the Unicorn Writer’s first flash fiction contest?

A. Seeing all the fabulous pieces! I’ve never judged something before, and I love the idea of seeing submissions from authors all over pour in. I can’t wait to work with Kayla and put our heads together to find our favorites!

Q. What goals do you have for writing?

A. A big one I have is to get a novel published. I’ve mostly done novellas and flash fiction thus far; I’d love to get one of the novels I’ve already finished or a future one published one day. I’d love to make this a viable career for me as well. I’d love to one day have a little writing cottage, where I can immerse myself and do nothing but write, read, and sip tea while my cats maul me out of love. 

Q. Can you tell us how your faith intersects with your writing?

A. Of course! I like to think that my faith permeates every bit of my writing. It definitely influenced what I write—how I always seek to honor God and create clean, fun fiction. My faith outwardly inspires my devotions, but even in my fiction, it’s there. It’s so important to me that you can find little bits of the Gospel anywhere. Sometimes, my characters will be Christians or will discuss faith-based things. Other times, it’s just me exemplifying Christ-like behavior. In everything, I try to let my faith be at the forefront without being preachy or condescending.

Q. Will you tell us a little bit about your own faith journey?

A. Sure! I was raised in church, so it’s hard for me to think of a time where I didn’t know faith or had no idea who God or Jesus were. I officially got saved at 8 and was baptized. But since then, I’ve definitely tried to make my faith my own. I’ve grappled with hard questions, wrestled with God, experienced times when I wondered if He was even real or if He even loved me. I think we need to normalize doubting and searching instead of shaming people—it’s a natural part of faith and growing up, and I truly believe it leads to stronger faith in the long run. I’ve found that, no matter what walk of life you are in or how strong or weak your faith feels at the moment, God will always chase you and woo You back to Him.

Q. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

A. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” —‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬

I really love this verse because it always reminds me that there’s nothing that we can’t do that will separate us from God. If we take the Bible at its word, that means that every doubt, every fear, every anxiety, every thought, everything—God still loves us throughout it. That’s always been so reassuring to me, especially in times of hardship. There’s nothing that I could humanly do that could stop the love of God! 

Q. What advice would you offer aspiring authors?

A. I know that you probably get this advice a lot (it might even be the same advice I gave last time!), but it’s true: write! It doesn’t matter how long it is. It doesn’t matter if you think it stinks. You’ve got to write, or you’ll never have anything. My second piece of advice is this: find yourself a writing group! A group of people to surround yourself with, that give feedback and bring different things to the table. You’ll be surprised how much it can help to have a support group to fall back on.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to add? 

A. Just that I’m so excited to be working together, and I really can’t wait to read all the wonderful submissions! ♥

Photo provide by Hannah Carter.

Remember, the flash fiction contest is open now. The deadline has been EXTENDED. Entries are now due WEDNESDAY 12/1 at 11:59pm! Please see the original blog post for the entry link. The winner will announced in next week’s blog post!

Be sure to follow Hannah Carter to stay up to date with her and her writing!

The Unicorn Writer Announces First Flash Fiction Contest!

Happy Saturday friends! 

It is my pleasure to announce the Unicorn Writer’s first flash fiction contest! The contest is open to both new and experienced writers. Submissions are open NOW through next Saturday, November 27 at 11:59pm.

*Cue confetti and happy dancing!* 

Some of you may be wondering: what is flash fiction? Flash fiction is short fiction. Different publications and contests have varying definitions, but for this contest, flash fiction  constitutes as fiction 1000 words or less as determined by Google Docs. 

Any and all genres are welcome, but writers must provide CLEAN and family-friendly content (No erotica, explicit language, graphic violence, etc.). So, your story could be fantasy, science fiction, realistic fiction, Christian fiction, mystery, humor, or something else! Just have fun with your story! 🙂

Prompt: Write a story in which the following words appear: Snow, fragrance, and laughter.

SOMETHING EXCITING: Kayla E. Green, the Unicorn Writer, will be working with author Hannah Carter during the judging process! Hannah is the author of “Amir and the Moon” and “Seashells.” She also has stories that will be featured in the upcoming anthologies The Depths We’ll Go To and Whispers From Before: Tales of Myth and Legend. Several of her flash fiction stories have been published through Havok Publishing. 

Flash Fiction Contest Details: 

For the judging process there will be three categories: Content, Technical, and Overall Impression.

The content category is not just whether you followed the guidelines and provided clean, family-friendly content; it looks at the story as a whole. Is it impactful? Is there a clear beginning, middle, and end? Is there a clear theme(s) that resonates with readers? 

Be sure to send quality, proof-read work when you submit to do well in the technical category! 

The last category, Overall Impression, will include the judges’ impressions of the piece. Is it memorable? Is it unique? Is it enjoyable? 

Please note that with all writing, some subjectivity plays a role. Just because you do not win does NOT mean your story isn’t well-done. We expect some outstanding entries, and know you all will make our job difficult! (Due to the expected number of entries, feedback will NOT be provided on individual stories.) 

The WINNING story of the Unicorn Writer’s first flash fiction contest will be announced and featured on the blog on Saturday, December 4. The winning author will also be invited to be interviewed. **By submitting an entry, you consent to having your story published on the blog indefinitely. All story rights remain with the author, but the winning story will remain published on the blog for the foreseeable future.**

Now that we’ve reviewed the ins and outs of the contest, we can’t wait to see what you all write!

To submit, please follow this link:

Author Interview: Tabitha Caplinger

Last week, I shared my review of The Wolf Queen, a wonderful Christian fantasy novel. This week, I have the privilege to talk with the author, Tabitha Caplinger! In addition to being a gifted writer, Caplinger is a homeschool mom and ordained minister. She and her husband are the student pastors at Faith Community Church in House Springs, Missouri. One fun fact about Caplinger is that she took fencing classes in college. She is a self-declared TV addict and lists Supernatural, Smallville, Leverage, Stargate Atlantis, and Grimm as some of her favorites. To learn more about Caplinger and her writing, see the full interview below!

Author Tabitha Caplinger. Photo provided by the Caplinger.

Q)  How long have you been writing?

A) I’ve had a head full of stories my entire life, but I’ve only been writing for about seven years. 

Q) Why do you write?

A) I love stories. I love getting drawn into another world, one that gets you to let your guard down so that it can reach beyond our walls and defenses and plant seeds of inspiration and truth deeper into our hearts. I believe stories can often reach parts of us sermons can’t simply because we let ourselves connect to characters in a way that reflects where we are personally. 

Q) What are your top three favorite books and why?

A) While my favorite genre to read is fantasy, my three favorite books cover a wide array of genres. 1. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis – I loved how Lewis took a fictional concept and meshed so much truth in it. While he does that with all of his books, this is the one that struck me the deepest. 2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee  – This book was full of vivid descriptions, and the mingling of childhood with more adult themes was done so beautifully. It was the first book that really got me interested in the art of writing
3. Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo – This book was one assigned my senior year of high school and unlike any other book in school, I couldn’t put it down. It was tragic and full of sorrow but the writing stuck with me. I can still remember whole sections of it. It was the book that made me interested in being a writer. 

Q) Describe yourself in three words.

A) Faith-filled. Intentional. Awkward.

Q) What song would be your life’s theme song?

A) Thunder by Imagine Dragons

Q) Who is someone that inspires you?

A) So many people in different ways and areas of life. But to boil it down to one, I’d have to say, Jesus. Not in a trite way. But I truly try to live a life that honors Him and is surrendered to Him, looking to Him as an example. 

Q) What inspired The Wolf Queen?

A) My daughter, who was maybe 5 at the time, put her little wolf stuffed animal on my head and said, “Look, mommy! You’re the wolf queen.” That moment started a series of questions that birthed this book. (Most inspiration for my stories is a small moment, image, or song lyric that becomes a catalyst to questions. Interesting questions that push me deeper into my imagination become a story.)

Q) Can you tell us how your faith intersects with The Wolf Queen?

A) My faith is core to who I am. As a Christ-follower, I don’t believe Jesus is a slice of our life, He is the filling. He is in everything. So everything I do is built on the foundation of my faith in Jesus. When I write, I don’t do it with a sermon or certain message in mind. As I get a story idea, I pray and ask myself how this story can honor God. I don’t want to be overly preachy or overt but because my beliefs are so rooted in me, they will come out in the story. For The Wolf Queen, this story of a woman raised by wolves became about defeating the darkness inside of us. I don’t think that is something we can do on our own but requires surrender bathed in love. 

Q) Can you tell readers about your current WIP (Writing in Progress)?

A) I am currently editing my next project slated to publish in early 2023. It’s an NA dystopian that I actually started before The Wolf Queen. It’s a story about community and truth and finding real freedom and healing…and there are aliens. 

Q) Can you tell us about your other books available?

A) Before The Wolf Queen, I wrote a Christian urban fantasy trilogy, The Chronicle of the Three. It’s Buffy meets Gilmore Girls with demon slayers and what it really means to be chosen. 

Q) What goals do you have for your writing?

A) I don’t have a lot of goals as far as numbers go. I want to grow in my craft with each new story. Mostly though I want to help others see they are powerful, chosen, loved, and never alone. I want readers to see they are stronger than the darkness.

Q) Will you tell us a little about your own faith journey?

A) I am a pastor’s kid. I gave my life to Jesus at 7 years old and have done my best to live for Him since. That hasn’t always been easy, it has certainly been messy at times, but it has always been worth it. I used to think my testimony wasn’t good enough because I didn’t think my story was powerful enough. But I’ve come to realize the power of Jesus is the same in every story. He is just as powerful in a story of freedom and deliverance after wandering as He is in a story of keeping us centered on Him all along the way. 

Q) Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

A) Ephesians 4:1. I call it my “live chosen” verse. It’s my reminder to keep Jesus at the center. 

Q) What advice would you offer aspiring authors?

A) Know your why. Why do you write? All of your goals will stem from that why. Your definition of success will come from your why. And when things get difficult, your why can bring it all back into perspective. On a side note, learn the business side of publishing as much as you work on craft. Writing the story is only one part of this journey. 

Tabitha Caplinger with her books. Photo provided by Caplinger.

Be sure to follow Caplinger on social media to stay up to date with her writing!

Photo provided by Caplinger.

AND be sure to get your own copy of The Wolf Queen from Amazon here!

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Book Review: The Wolf Queen by Tabitha Caplinger

I’m just coming out of a reading slump, and The Wolf Queen by Tabitha Caplinger was just what my soul needed. This is probably now my favorite book I’ve read so far this year – and it is definitely in my top favorite books of all time. It’s an easy 5 stars from me!

The Wolf Queen follows two main characters: Ylva, the leader of the Ibharung clan, and Rohan, prince of Valjalil. Ylva, also known as the Wolf Queen where she was raised by wolves, can see below the surface of men – she can see the light and darkness within them because of a gift from Lys, the Light. Prince Rohan thinks stories of Lys are no more than myth. The two cross paths, and bump heads, when the evil of Myrkr, the Darkness, infects the Four Realms and words of mere legend come to life – the dragon is rising.

I’m blown away by this book, truly.

Sometimes a lot of action in books (or even movies) can bore me, but Caplinger does a phenomenal job balancing the action of battle with character development. The author does a wonderful, wonderful job with her characters – I can’t begin to explain how much I connected with both Ylva and Rohan. I could feel what both characters felt, good and bad. And the inner struggles Rohan battles – I think everyone can relate to that.

To help showcase how awesome this Christian fantasy book is, I want to share some of my favorite quotes from the novel:

  • This is where it begins again.
  • We are all just a phoenix rising from the ashes of darkness and shadow.
  • Things are much easier when you begin to let go of who you thought you needed to be and become who you are.

The last quote from this list – it hit me right in the gut. How often have I held on to the picture of what I thought I should be, rather than just be who I am? I am made in the image of God, and I am loved and accepted by Him. He freely gives His love to me. I should become who I am, and who I am is God’s child. I don’t have everything figured out about who I am, but that’s enough. I have trust in Him and I should be still and let Him lead me instead of trying to force my own will.

There are beautiful themes woven throughout the story, many centering on light prevailing over darkness. One such lesson that resonated with me is that we have the ability to plant and sow seeds in others – of goodness or evil. Will will choose to ignore evil or will we counter evil with truth and goodness, for the sake of saving others?

But I digress! This book will be loved by all fans of fantasy, especially those that enjoy axe-wielding shield maidens, lupine guardians, slow burn romance, the chosen one tropes, and themes of light versus darkness. As a Christian, I greatly connected with the lessons in this book, but it was far from “preachy.” Yet, I feel stronger in my own faith; I feel more connected to God as I have reflected on my own inner light and darkness and taken the time to actively talk to God since reading this book.

I’ve read a lot of good books this year, but none that have impacted me quite like The Wolf Queen. I hope my future stories can impact other readers as this book has impacted me. I highly encourage you to pick up a copy today and read this amazing story for yourself.

“May the Light lead us, and the Darkness fear us.”

Picture of The Wolf Queen from Amazon.

Request a copy of The Wolf Queen at your local library OR order your own copy here.

Book Review: Sapphire Lake by Samantha Shaw

I recently won a copy of Sapphire Lake by Samantha Shaw in an Instagram giveaway. I greatly enjoyed Shaw’s short horror story “Gethen Manor” this time last year, so I was excited to read this -especially for spooky season!

What if you knew what it was like to die?

Since the death of her grandfather, Micah Gray experiences death whenever she is in proximity to the deceased or looking at their photos. Her mother thinks she’s crazy, but thankfully her Gram believes her. In fact, Gram has the same visions and is able to help Micah navigate her curse, gift, or whatever the phenomena is. But life for Micah in Sapphire Lake, a small, peaceful lakeside town, is about to get even more complicated. She experiences a death that isn’t natural nor an accident – there’s a murderer out there preying on women. Besides her Gram, there’s only one person who might believe Micah that the “accidental” drowning may be more than what it first seems, and Micah broke his heart. Will Officer Benjamin Root, the ex-boyfriend, believe Micah? Will Sapphire Lake ever be safe again?

Y’all – this book!! If you are a fan of fast-paced thrillers/horror stories with good character development and a pinch of romance, then you will enjoy Sapphire Lake. The book surprised me (which is hard to do in terms of plot) which made it more enjoyable, in my opinion. The novel is fairly short, and I was able to read it in one day. But likely you will want to complete the book quickly once you start! There is explicit language and violence in the book, so I recommend this book to adult readers. Overall, I give Sapphire Lake 4 stars.

Photo by @theunicornwriter93

Order your own copy of Sapphire Lake here, or request at your local library!

I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween weekend! 🙂

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Book Review: Into the Unknown

Thank you to Daphne Self for providing me a copy of the science fiction anthology Into the Unknown, published by Ambassador International, in exchange for an honest review!

This science fiction anthology contains 7 stories of faith and bravery including the following:

Astro Missionary by Daniel Peyton
Rookie by Eric Landfried
Haven by Lauren Smyth
The Fate of Transport 80-14 by Allen Steadham
The Interview of Malachi Jones by Daphne Self
Safeship by P.S. Patton
A Free Man by Jake Tyson

Astro Missionary begins the anthology. What happens when a simple mission to collect data goes awry and a scientist named Tony and his security lose their signal to the main ship? A story about redemption through God’s love no matter who you are, this story will remind readers how God always leads you where you are meant to be. Though it starts out a bit slow, I ended up loving this story with my whole heart. The last line resonates with me in my current season in life: “God leads us to places we never expect. He takes us into the unknown.”

Rookie follows suit, and the fast-paced story does not disappoint. Private Kalen Richardson is on a mission to find a rogue cleric, but before the mission can begin fully the ship explodes! Kalen is one of the few survivors – what happens when he comes face-to-face with the very rogue cleric he was hunting? And what if what he’s been told about him, isn’t true? A story that continues to highlight the theme of being led where God needs you, this story will resonate with readers searching for their purpose: “Our purposes are rarely clear until after those purposes have been served. I believe the
Lord makes it that way so we will learn to trust Him. He will reveal His purpose for you in time, my friend.”

The third story, Haven, focuses on Ozero who is counting down the days until his contract with Kickstart Biology, Inc. is up and he can leave the planet in which he is the only living soul – that is until someone crash lands and knocks on his door. What will Ozero do when he realizes that Kem, the one who crash landed, is someone who wronged him years ago? Will he seek revenge or will he choose justice? Will he be able to forgive Kem, and, maybe, even more importantly, will he be able to stop blaming himself? A story about forgiveness, this story will remind readers to be grateful for God’s grace: “God can save anyone if they’re humble enough to admit they can’t save themselves.”

Next, The Fate of Transport 80-14 follows Karen Liviana, the Second Chief of Food Preparation. Years ago, she had another title, that of Commander. What happens when horrible circumstances force Karen in a role she had long ago traded in for a different life? This story reminds readers that miracles do happen because God does hear our prayers. “She knew that God had made it possible….”

The fifth story, The Interview of Malachi Jones, is centered around Cleric Malachi Jones who has been captured after years on the run – running after being faced with an impossible choice. He shares the truth of what happened, but that doesn’t change his fate. A story that reminds one to let God guide them rather than let fear overcome will long be in the hearts and minds of readers after it ends.

Next is Safeship which follows a thief. Following a botched heist, Upper Thief Bhirus finds an escape through a safeship, but the crew isn’t who they seem. Bhirus learns quickly that he isn’t safe, and must act quickly or die for his crimes. A story about consequences of sin, this story may make one uncomfortable; however, as Proverbs 5:22 notes: “The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast.”

Lastly, A Free Man concludes the anthology. Wil Freeman’s name is ironic – he’s been incarcerated for the last 10 years, but he has a chance to earn his freedom. Will he go through with his deal with the Federation and betray his own family to make space safer for all? Or will he choose family? A story that reminds readers that growth is real, A Free Man is a good, action-packed close to this science fiction collection.

My favorite story from this anthology is Astro Missionary. The lesson from it and Rookie both resonated with me greatly. I also greatly enjoyed Daphne Self’s writing style in The Interview of Malachi Jones. To be honest, I’m still turning the stories over in my mind, especially Safeship. I desperately wish Bhirus had been given a chance for redemption…I understand the message the story is sharing, but my heart hurts from the sequence of events.

Overall, I give this anthology 4 stars. I enjoyed it, and I might would re-read given the time. I will happily read more stories by the authors featured, and I am especially excited for Daphne Self’s upcoming book When Legends Rise. I do recommend Into the Unknown to fans of science fiction. Readers who are looking for stories of faith, bravery, and purpose, will enjoy these stories.

Order your copy here today!

Image provided by Daphne Self.

Self-Promo Saturday

Hi friends!

I want to try something interactive today. If you’re not already following my blog, give it a follow. Then, comment with a fun fact about yourself/your blog and a recent blog post you would like to share. Come back to the comments and visit other blog posts and show the bloggers some love on their posts (and if you love their content, be sure to give them a follow too)!

My name is Kayla also known as The Unicorn Writer. My blog focuses on book reviews, author interviews, and bookish shop features! I look forward to getting to know you all! 🙂

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