Author Spotlight-J. C. Steel

Author photoLet’s give a warm welcome to JC Steel, the author in our spotlight this week.

  1. When and why did your start writing? To be honest, I’ve told myself stories in my head as long as I can remember; I just never got around to writing any of them down. I finally started actually writing around age fourteen; I was in boarding school, frankly probably on the verge of washing out due to sheer boredom, and one of my friends asked me why I never wrote any of my stories down so other people could read them. It solved my boredom problem. I scribbled my way through high school, and wrote five novels in five years (and, to everyone’s surprise, passed all my exams). The beauty of the hobby was that to a teacher, a student busily writing a space battle looks remarkably like a quiet, attentive, note-taking student.
  2. What genres do your writings fall under? What age group? I write sci-fi and urban fantasy. I’d say on the whole that the themes are adult; which is no bar to younger people reading the books, but the language and topics aren’t specifically slanted at the younger age brackets, and parts of all of the stories would definitely fall into the PG-13 category.
  3. What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t writing? I read a lot, I play with my cats a lot, and when I have the time and money, I enjoy martial arts and riding (usually not simultaneously). This year I’m hoping things will come together so I can take a week and ride across Iceland – I got to meet Icelandic horses in 2017, and they manage to combine looking ridiculously cute with the kind of instinct for mayhem usually found only in six-month-old cats.
  4. What genre is your favorite to read? I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. I scared myself silly with Lord of the Rings aged about seven and refused to go to the bathroom on my own for six months in case a Black Rider came hunting me, but my addiction was firm. I added sci-fi to my habit a couple of years later, when I climbed to the very top of my parents’ bookshelf and came across Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ series. I still have that edition of Dragonflight; it’s been through a lot of moves with me.jc-steel-banner
  5. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change? Yes, absolutely. I wouldn’t waste several years half-heartedly begging publishers and agents to consider at least opening my submission envelopes – I’d go straight to independent publishing and save myself a lot of hassle and postage costs. I love having complete control over, and responsibility for, what I publish and when I publish it. It means whatever goes out into the world is completely mine.
  6. Can you tell us about your upcoming book? Actually there are three on the boil right now, I have an extreme case of literary infidelity. I’m working on the fifth book in my sci-fi series, which hasn’t yet confessed to a final title; I’m in the final edit stage on my first urban fantasy novel, Death is for the Living, which is about a team of vampire hunters based on a yacht in the Tropics; and I’m on the first draft of another urban fantasy about a half-siren ‘acquisitions specialist’ tasked to acquire the Peaches of Immortality at their next ripening. I’m hoping at least Death is for the Living will make it out of the door in the next six months, and if I’m lucky, #5 in the Cortii series will publish towards the end of the year.
  7. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?Well, my sci-fi series is set in an interstellar mercenary cult, which would make my past life both terminally interesting and probably admissible evidence J Death is for the Living, though, is heavily based on my childhood. I grew up on a yacht in the Caribbean, and a lot of the settings are drawn from that. The martial arts training comes in surprisingly useful for the fight scenes across both my genres, which means I can call my classes research when asked (it tends to worry people less than calling them stress release!).
  8. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment? I’ve actually been really fortunate with all my books so far; about the worst thing I’m told on a regular basis is that my writing is complex. I’m fine with that; it’s perfectly true. I’ve never had a lot of time for the concept of writing to a ‘grade-level’, and honestly I don’t feel that we, as authors, do society a favour by trying to write to a level of the language geared at 12-year-olds. On the whole, though, the feedback has been remarkably positive. It’s a great feeling if even a few people enjoy the read enough to take the time to go online and leave a rating or a review.
  9. Do you prefer comfortable clothes or dressing nicely? If I didn’t work in a business environment, I would be a jeans and hoodie wearer full-time – and bare-foot whenever I could get away with it. I deeply appreciate clothes that are comfortable, have capacious pockets, and will tolerate a slide on a muddy path followed by a hot wash.
  10. Have you travelled to places outside your home town/country? Where did you go? What did you see/experience? I moved around a lot growing up, and went through a lot of schools before I finally wound up in boarding school in the UK. I’ve spent at least a few months in most of the Caribbean islands, most of the countries of southern Europe, and a couple of weeks in Morocco, Venezuela and the USA. Iceland was my first visit to Scandinavia, and I’m currently living in Canada. I enjoy travelling, preferably away from the tourist routes if I can manage it, and I love learning new languages and trying new foods. I have a friend who holds that someone who learns a new language experiences a whole new life, and I’m broadly onboard with that opinion. I’m hoping to get to the Far East in the foreseeable future; I’ve practiced karate, aikido, and bujinkan for years and never even visited Japan. One of the oddest places I think I’ve ever been was when we sailed across a corner of the Sargasso Sea; it’s basically a huge, semi-stationary patch of floating seaweed in the Atlantic that’s several days’ sail across. The ocean goes from deep blue to a greenish-brownish-yellow and stays like that as far as you can see.

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Starting Over


ethan-vintage-300I love Ethan Grimley.

I can’t say what drew me to him in the beginning, but he’s one who likes to speak. In looking back over his stories–The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III–I’ve noticed that there’s much more to tell with Ethan. I think the three books in the series would work better as one story, so I’m working on rewriting the three books into one. At this point, there are already six additional chapters, and I haven’t gotten to the beginning of A Walker is Born yet. I think the end result will be a story that has much more depth and explores more of Ethan’s life, both in Land’s End and beyond.

Ethan isn’t the only reason to rewrite the story. The other characters, particularly Kayne and Faylen, both have their own stories, and I don’t think they work for a series centered primarily on Ethan. With that in mind, I’ve decided to rename and expand the series. (If anyone has a title suggestion, sing out.)

Life over the past few years has been a bit hectic, but things have settled down now. The kids are beginning their adult lives, and I finally have a set work schedule that allows more time other activities. On top of that, Grevared itself is coming to life and showing me more and more of her grandeur with each passing day. The little details, the things that make a world real, are becoming clearer, so I think now is a good time to revisit the existing books and see if I can improve upon them. Not only will this make those books better, but I believe it will improve future books as well. (And, let’s face it, who doesn’t like to play in their own world?)

So, onward and upward. I’ll keep progress posted, a maybe a few snippets of the new stuff here and there.

For those who’ve supported me to this point, thank you. It means a lot. I hope you’ll continue to come along on this journey.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs



Author Spotlight-Deborah Burnside

23319229_10155727922650102_7205406075011842319_nToday we’re welcoming author Deborah Burnside. Let’s kick back and see what she has to share with us.

Prodigal Hearts had its beginning as a work of fan fiction in 1973, while Deborah Burnside was still in high school. Many years and countless revisions later, it is her first published novel. Firefighters are her heroes now as they were then, and will always be.

 When Deborah was in the second grade, a short essay she wrote as a class assignment was selected for publication in the Whittier Daily News, and she was instantly enamored with the power of the written word. She went on to write numerous creative stories, stage plays, and poetry while still going through school. She worked as a reporter and as the entertainment editor for her high school newspaper, and as a reporter for her college newspaper.

Although Deborah would later forego a career in journalism in favor of marriage and motherhood, the need to write has always remained strong. She finds writing to be highly therapeutic, crediting both it and the Lord for her ability to survive some very difficult years and situations. She continues to devote her creative efforts to fiction novels and poetry, with a few short stories and a couple of worship songs thrown in. Several of her poems have been published in anthologies.

 She is also an amateur volcanologist, having been bitten by that bug in 2004, when Mt. St. Helens was once more in an eruptive phase. She spent eleven days at the Coldwater Ridge observatory with her then-husband, who rests now in the arms of Jesus. Her experiences while on the mountain will surely find their way into some not-yet-written story.

Deborah lives in rural Shasta County, California, with her new husband, Patrick. The couple currently has six cats, but the number is subject to change at any given time. When not writing, she rescues stray, abandoned, and abused animals – primarily cats, but occasionally dogs as well.

You can connect with Deborah at the following links:

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Prodigal Hearts book coverProdigal Hearts

Stephanie Williams and Sam Kendrick may be neighbors, but neither is sure they want any kind of relationship with each other – or with God.

Stephanie is angry at God over His failure to protect her from an assault that almost killed her. Where was the divine protection she had been told was hers as a child of God? Where exactly was He that night?

Sam has turned away from God in the aftermath of a tragic accident that took the life of his best friend. And he wants to know why the Almighty left him alive to suffer the nightmares and flashbacks.

Stephanie’s sister, a teenager with pronounced matchmaking tendencies, is determined to see them heal – together. As these two wounded souls begin to find their way into each others’ hearts, can they also learn to trust again in the One who loves them both?


51ZRcIiXYVLA Cousin Scorned

Other than their looks, cousins Connie Sherman and Shellie Cochrane have nothing in common. They don’t like each other. They don’t try to get along. And they never, ever like the same boys.

Until Dave Barbour – and he has eyes for only one of them. Now their unfriendly rivalry is about to crash head-first into the California high desert town of Yucca Valley.

Because hell has no fury like a cousin scorned.