Samantha Arthurs

author, reviewer, here for a good time

A Brief Q&A!

I realize I am desperately off schedule this week, but it’s just that time of year where the weather is nasty and everything sort of melts together. In the interest of getting somewhat back on track, however, I decided to do a short little Q&A just for fun.

  1. What is the first book that made you cry? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it was probably Old Yeller or Where The Red Fern Grows. I can’t exactly remember, but those were books I read frequently as a child and that were very emotionally daunting. So if there was a book that made me cry when I was a kid it was more than likely one of the two.
  2. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I have written a four book series (whittled down to three books now), which are all connected by characters and locations. Outside of that little world, however, none of my stories are connected to one another. I’m not Stephen King here, I’ve never set out to create one cohesive world where all of my stories collide. Would that be pretty cool? Absolutely it would, but it makes no sense for me and what I’m doing. The majority of the books that I write are standalone pieces, though they do have the capacity to be expanded a bit. I just have no particular interest in trying to connect all of my books together, that just isn’t who I am.
  3. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? So many! Right now I have three books that are under contract with a publisher, which seems like a lot but it really isn’t. Especially not when I consider the fact that I have four books that are completed yet unpublished, and three more that are half-finished or in progress. I have a lot more that haven’t been seen or that aren’t even written yet than I have in publishing, which is a  bit crazy to think about. At least I have a back log of work for those writers block heavy times!
  4. How long on average does it take you to write a book? It really just depends on the story and how much I’m struggling with my own moods and schedule. The fastest I ever completed a draft of something was in six days, but it can take me way longer than that. On average I can finish a draft in a month if I’m pacing myself decently, which is about my normal. Sometimes though it can take me a few months because my writers block and moods ebb and flow and I don’t want to force things. The first draft of Endless Numbered Days took me like two years, because I kept putting it down and walking away from it. Eventually I put my nose to the grind stone and got it done, but it was a task. A Crooked Mile, however, took me about 9 days to complete. Part of it too is how engaged I am in the characters and how concrete my ideas are. If I’m learning the story as I go, well, that just takes a lot more time.
  5. Have you ever gotten reader’s block? Believe it or not, this happens a lot! There are days when I just can’t get into a book, or when I just can’t find the mood to want to read anything. I read anywhere from 100-300 books in a year on average, and part of it is just burn out. I’ll read several books back to back quickly, and then my brain demands a break. It isn’t from lack of wanting to read, I always want to read, it’s just a need to take a break and give myself breathing room.
  6. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? I try and find a nice balance of both. I want my characters, and my novels, to be original ideas that are unique to me and me alone. I also want to give readers a story they want to read, and characters they want to care about. I want to be a writer who can write original stories that make readers crave more, and who they want to come back to time and time again. I think I succeed at this fairly well, or at least I hope that I do, and I hope I can continue to find this balance in my writing life going forward.

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Life List Item 61: See Niagara Falls

This is a particularly special life list item, as it was also an item on my mom’s list of things she wanted to do and see. For years she’s talked about wanting to go to Niagara falls, so for Christmas in 2018 my sister and I decided to make it happen. We booked a hotel for the following April, and set her up to get her passport card that would allow us to cross the border into Canada so we could really experience the falls properly. To be honest, Niagara Falls wasn’t anything I’d actually considered before she started talking about wanting to go, but the more I researched and planned the more excited I became. Who doesn’t want to see one of the wonders of the world!?

The three of us, along with my aunt, ended up driving from Kentucky to upstate New York. We broke the drive down into two parts, stopping in Akron, Ohio on the way up to visit with family. Despite being a bit of a long drive it was still an interesting one, and a part of the country even I hadn’t been to before. We ended up staying in a hotel away from the more tourist heavy falls area, but that turned out to be pretty nice. The hotel was a newer build, very clean, and close enough that we didn’t have to drive far to see things while still giving us peace and quiet.

Those are things every traveler can come to appreciate, believe me.

We certainly didn’t waste any time in our short two days in the area, going straight to the falls themselves. I have to admit it is pretty incredible to hear all that rushing water before you even see it, and when you DO see it? It’s more magnificent than you could possibly have imagined. No pictures do it justice, believe me, and it is just a scene that you really can’t ever adequately describe. It’s so amazing to see nature in all it’s glory that way, just completely raw and untamed. It’s humbling too, knowing that something so powerful exists in the world and that man had absolutely nothing to do with it at all.

We got our first views of the falls, and then checked out the visitors center. There’s a trolley that runs around the American side of the falls, and it is well worth the (cheap) price! The trolley is absolutely fantastic, and was definitely one of the best things about the trip! They drive you around and talk about all the sights, and you can hop on and off! We did this on our second day, and we ended up getting off at Cave of the Winds. We knew that they weren’t fully set up yet, they had only done partial construction for the season, but we still wanted to experience it so my sister and I bought tickets for the four of us.

You ride an industrial elevator down to river level, where you then walk along a man-made boardwalk right up to Bridal Veil Falls! My mom and aunt hung back, but me and my sister went as far as we could. It was so surreal! You’re standing right beside these massive waterfalls that are spraying mist all over the place, and then there were just these massive pillars of ice! I think that was one of the parts I loved most, seeing all those big chunks of ice.

Eventually we crossed the border into Canada, though we didn’t get to stay that long. My mom’s knee was really bothering her, and it was very hard for her to walk. We drove around to view the falls from the Canadian side though, and it really is the more beautiful view. You get two entirely difference experiences, that’s for sure. On the American side you get closer to the falls, but on the Canadian side it’s nicer to look at. It’s a win-win, so definitely get your passport if you’re planning a visit!

Mom ended up sitting in a coffee shop while we did some shopping and then picked up a Papa John’s pizza. Yeah, I know. We went to Canada and brought back a pizza. It’s also worth noting though that we also bought enough Tim Hortons donuts to kill a man, which is hilarious since we do have Tim Hortons here in Kentucky.

All in all we had a great time, and I think we’d all like to go back. If we do return we’ll definitely stay on the Canadian side. That was originally the plan, but my aunt didn’t have her passport so we had to move to the American side. It all worked out, but I’d love to go and do all the cheesy tourist stuff. It there is one thing I love in life, it’s a good tourist trap.

Anyway, even if this was never on your list it’s a good weekend trip if you live close enough!

Life List Item: Complete

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Book Excerpt – Rust # 1 (A Crooked Mile)

As I get prepared for editing and cover design to start on the first book in the Rust trilogy (A Crooked Mile), I thought I’d share another little tidbit from it. Some of you may have read this book already when I first released it, but believe me when I say you’ll want to pick up the new edition when it comes out! It will be much longer, and will include a ton of material you’ve never seen before. Originally the first half of the new book would have been Before That Winter, but they’re being combined into one book to make it an even better story.

A Crooked Mile is the story of Alec Davis and Ramona Sanders, two very different people who are thrown together for a project at school. While there is a hint of a love story, that is ultimately not what this novel is about. It’s about pain, loss, sorry, and redemption. It’s about how we all have so many feelings warring inside of us, and how sometimes our demons get the best of us. I never wanted to write a cut and dry love story, I wanted it to be so much deeper than that, and I hope that those of you who read it (or have already read it) feel all the things I felt while writing it.

In this excerpt we see a moment of calm between Alec and Ramona as they work on their school project.

The maple tree had already lost all of its leaves, standing tall and bare by the back corner of the Sanders home. Alec had a forlorn look on his face as he studied it, his lips pursed and his arms crossed over his chest. Beside him stood Ramona, a notebook clutched in her hands as she worried over her bottom lip with her teeth. They had planned to start shooting more of their scenes days earlier, but life had got in the way. More specifically Alec’s basketball practices had got in the way, since he’d been staying late to try and help Bryson out, and the weather hadn’t exactly been cooperating either.

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New Projects

With the Rust series in the editing queue at the publisher, and with a few other projects finished up, I’ve now settled into this strange place where I’m working primarily on brand new things.

New things can be pretty scary.

I had an idea in the back of my mind for The Dreaming Summer for quite some time. It was never anything solid, just ideas that I wrote down and intended to form into something bigger later on. I wrote the bit of it (one page, but an important page) back in July and didn’t touch it again until a couple of weeks ago. With A Shark In Lola’s Pond now finished and a lot of other projects mostly in the rear view, it just felt like time.

I went into it with a more well constructed idea and plot, though I’m still not quite sure what feels right with the story. I’m just working on feeling out the characters and the situations, and building a brand new town for the setting.

I’m also working on building a good horror/ghost story right now, and trying to finally rework Crimson into something palatable. After as many years of struggling and re-starts as I’ve had with that one you’d think I’d give it up, but I’m still hanging onto it with both hands for whatever reason.

It feels strange to be at a point where I have more things in editing and publishing than I have in my current projects folder. Has that ever happened to you, fellow writers? Have you ever gotten strangely ahead of yourself and built up a backlog? Its’ a foreign concept for me, and definitely not something I’e ever done before!

I just hope I keep up the ideas, and keep fleshing out things as they come to me. I sure don’t want the pool to run dry, though that does happen sometimes. Fingers crossed there’s no writers block on my horizon! I’m really loving the roll I’m on right now. I especially am enjoying playing with different genres and story types. It’s nice to get out of my comfort zone!

If you’re writing, what are you working on? If you’re a reader, let me know your current reading list!

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Book Excerpt – Rust Book #2 (A Different Shade of Blue)

I decided this week to feature the book previously known as A Different Shade of Blue. I say previously known as because I’m not sure if the publisher intends to keep this title when the book is released later this year, so I also sometimes refer to it as Rust #2, as it is the second in the trilogy. Titles aside, however, this might be one of my favorite books I’ve written, as I really love the characters and I hope everyone else will love them too!


A Different Shade of Blue takes place two years after the events of A Crooked Mile  and follows the story of Alec’s little brother, Bryson. He is now in his last year of high school, and is struggling to figure out what comes next, who he is, and how to cope with everything going on in his life. It is very much a coming of age story, and the struggles that so many people face every single day.

In this excerpt we find Bryson struggling with a recurring nightmare about his brother, with a new twist involving a schoolmate who may be a new enemy or a new crush. At this point he hasn’t quite decided just yet.

  That night he had the dream again, his old friend the recurring nightmare. He was back in Montana, lost in the blowing snow out on the desolate and dead wheat fields. He was walking and walking against the wind, trying desperately to find his brother. Only now there was a voice on the wind, someone calling out to him and distracting him. They yelled out his name from his left and then his right, the wind carrying the sound and making it confusing. He didn’t know where it was coming from, but as he walked it did become more and more clear.

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That Time I Accidentally Wrote A Series

When I wrote the first draft of A Crooked Mile for National Novel Writing Month 2017 I fully intended for it to be a stand alone novel. I had absolutely no plans to feature Rust in any other books, and that was the end of the road for Alec, Ramona, and Bryson.

In fact it stayed a stand alone book for a full year while it was being edited and beta read and queried to agents and publishers. I never pushed it as a series or trilogy, just one book and one book alone.

Then it came time to start planning for NaNoWriMo 2018. I had a random idea then, something that just hit me out of nowhere. What if I wrote a sequel novel about Bryson and how his journey continued after book one? He was just a second character, albeit one that people seemed to like, and he was definitely the type that could be expanded upon. So, just like that, I went from having one book to a duology!

Sometime that following January I had made myself a nice chart of writing goals I wanted to accomplish, and I was brainstorming a third book that would be a prequel to both the current novels. It was an in-depth look at Alec and everything that had happened leading up to the events of A Crooked Mile. I really had enjoyed writing him, and I wanted to dig deeper into his story.

I finished the first draft of Before That Winter in about two weeks and then I thought that since Alec got a standalone story, Ramona deserved one too! So her story became the fourth and final (finally!) book in the Rust series.

It was a bit of a shock to me when I really sat back and took a look at what I had done. I had gone from a stand alone novel to an entire series without even meaning to do so. I felt proud of myself though, because I had never felt like the type of writer who could really sit down and plan out something so intricate and interwoven and here I had done it completely by accident!

I’m now working with One Odd Bird Press to publish them all this year, though we have whittled things down to a solid trilogy as opposed to four books. Alec’s story will be combined with A Crooked Mile into a much heftier book one. This will be followed by A Different Shade of Blue, which follows Bryson, and then The Way Home which is Ramona’s story of growing up and finding redemption within herself.

I’m honestly pretty proud of myself for what I created here, both the characters and the place that they all called home. I love Alec, Ramona, and Bryson and while it was hard to finally let them go, I’m glad that I got to the point where I could. Maybe down the road I’ll dust them off again for some small novellas or something, but as of now their stories are done and they are ready for the world to meet them.

For those of you who already read A Crooked Mile, I hope that you’ll purchase the book upon it’s re-release and give it a shot. I think if you liked it the first go-round that you will love it even more in it’s new volume, and that you’ll enjoy getting to delve deeper into the world of Alec Davis and what made him tick.

As of now I’ve written several other books that need editing, and one or two do feature characters and worlds that could be expanded upon. I’m not planning anything specific yet, but lightning struck once so maybe it will again!

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Book Excerpt – The Heart of War

This week I pulled an excerpt from my 2019 NaNoWriMo novel The Heart of War. It’s currently in the editing process, and I’m going to try my best to get it out there sooner rather than later.

The Heart of War is the story of Sadie and Jude Rees who met in Wales on the cusp of 
WWII. The novel begins in our present, when their granddaughter discovers a trunk in 
the attic filled with letters, photographs, and other mementos of their life in Europe
before, during, and immediately following the war. 

In this excerpt the end of the war is looming closer and closer, though they don't
know that quite yet. Sadie is trying her best to scrape by on little news and, 
admittedly, very little hope. 

            While Jude Rees was fighting his way across Europe, his heart remained in Wales. Sadie was still working her job at the munitions factory, one of the largest of the Royal Ordinance Factories for munitions that was operated in the UK during the war. They primarily made naval shells, and the nearly 20,000 employees were almost entirely women. It was their way of doing their duty for the war effort, though for Sadie it was also much more of that.

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Life List Item 65: See Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is one of those iconic American places that everybody wants to see at least once in their life. Or, well, that most people want to see. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who don’t give a care, but those people are just missing out! When I started planning our 2018 trip out west I wanted to include a stop here, both to satisfy my curiosity and to check another national monument off my list. Two for one is always the best deal!

We ended up in the Black Hills area when we were staying in the Badlands. On this particular day we had gone horseback riding in the morning, and decided to hit up Rushmore on our way back to camp. The place was swamped when we arrived, and we had to get in a bit of a queue to get inside to park. We actually ended up with a prime spot in the parking garage though, right on the ground level in the front. I thought for sure we’d end up having to trek pretty far, but it ended up working out.

Let me just include here that while you don’t pay to see Mount Rushmore, you do pay $10 a car to park. I have no problems with that, the park service needs that money, but just know before you go that if you’re going inside you have to pay for that parking pass!

I had done a ton of research going into this trip, and had read a lot of reviews and blogs about other people’s experiences in all the various places we would be stopping. There were so many people who were disappointed with Mount Rushmore, which I didn’t understand prior to our trip and still don’t understand now. A lot of people seem to complain that it’s smaller than they imagined!? It’s four giant faces carved into the side of a mountain, but it’s somehow not impressive to some folks. These are likely the same people who are unimpressed with the Grand Canyon. I just don’t get it at all.


Anyway, I digress. Let’s continue!

There was something just so absolutely cool about walking through the entrance and seeing Mount Rushmore in the distance. I really love too that they lined the walkway with flags of all the states, and that they had pillars that provided information about each one. We enjoyed walking up to the overlook, where you get a really great view of the monument. Despite all the people it actually didn’t feel crowded, there was plenty of room, so we were able to get some great photographs of the monument and us posing and all that.

One of the things I had heard so much about was the ice cream here and how great it was. So, naturally, we had to partake. I ended up getting hand scooped ice cream with wojapi sauce, and oh my dear lord was it amazing! It was a huge serving that I could not manage to wholly consume, but that was okay because what I did manage was absolutely fantastic. All the people who sang the praises of the Mount Rushmore ice cream parlor were entirely correct, and I recommend you go there if you’re stopping by to see the monument. You seriously will have no regrets about it!

We browsed the gift shops for a while then and bought up our souvenirs before heading out. Getting out of the parking garage was quick and easy, and the drive from the Badlands to the Black Hills was actually really lovely.

If you’re in the area or just passing through, put this on your list! I promise it’s just as wonderful in person as you will hope for, people who think it’s too small not withstanding.

Life List Item: Complete

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Book Excerpt – Rag & Bone

This weeks excerpt comes from a book that is still in the editing process, but that I hope to publish potentially by the end of the year. What is Rag & Bone about? Well, I’ll tell you!

Rag & Bone is the story of Avery Carstairs, a teenage boy who finds himself utterly alone after a deadly virus wipes out everyone and everything he has ever known.  Life has become less about living and more about raw survival, and we watch as Avery and his dog, Tilly, try to make a place in this new world. 

In this excerpt we join Avery in the middle of his journey. He is young, he is alone, and winter is coming sooner rather than later. Will he survive? Or will the Ruger virus succeed in destroying humanity in it's entirety?
Read the full excerpt from Rag & Bone below.

The world was a quiet place, but it hadn’t always been that way. Two years ago there had been the steady buzz of electricity, the muted conversations from the television, the honk of car horns and the revving of engines. Now there were only the whispers of nature, the sounds that nobody had ever really regarded as more than glorified background noise. Now there was just the faint hiss of the wind blowing through trees, water flowing over rocks, and animals prowling through under brush. Sounds that became more prominent, that were brought more to the foreground now that everything else had fallen away.

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Keeping Organized In 2020 + Writing Resolutions

So here we are, a week into a new decade and a new year! That is pretty wild, but at the same time also kind of nice. It’s always interesting to start over with a new year, to try and do things differently to see if they work better.

One thing I always try going into a new year is getting organized. Getting there is, of course, the easy part. It’s keeping things that way that I tend to have a bit of trouble with. This year though I have a lot more going on than usual, so I decided it was time to fall back on a trusty college lifesaver: the planner.

A co-worker of mine gave me a little planner for Christmas, and I keep it in my car so I can write down things that come up while I’m out or at work. To keep track of my many projects and things this year, however, I needed something a bit larger. After a lot of searching, reviews, and generally exhausting the strangely vast world of information on planners I settled on The Legend Planner.

It came today.

I am very impressed.

It basically allows me to keep track of my goals (yearly goals and three months goals), my inspiration, my moods, my month overall, and my week broken down. It’s pretty, it’s efficient, and it will probably save my life a few times over the course of 2020.

Besides the planner, I’m also trying to just overall more organized with my work as far as writing goes. I want to set aside dedicated time, and make achievable goals for myself each week. I tend to write a lot at once, burn out, and then take a break. I don’t want to be that person anymore if I can manage it.

I have a lot of ambitious plans for myself in 2020 though! First there’s the publishing of all three Rust books. Or, at least, that’s what I’ve been told more or less. They plan to try and get all three books out this year, which is super exciting and I’m so ready for it.

The biggest challenge there is combining what would have originally been books one and three into one solid novel, and also doing re-writes and editing on what is now book three. I’m not happy with it at all, so it’s going to take some considerable work to get it where it needs to be for publication.

Besides the Rust books, however, I have a bunch of other stuff I’m working on. I went to finish at least three to four other novels this year. I don’t mean just editing them or polishing them up, I mean full out writing them. I have one already near completion, but the rest have to be written into a first draft.

I also want to get better with editing this year. I’ve never liked to self-edit, and I want to set aside each week to do a couple of hours worth on different novels. So that’s another thing for the planner!

It’s going to be a busy year, but I think it will ultimately be a good one! When I have a publication schedule for the trilogy I will share it, and if I have any publication updates for the other books I have I will share that as well! Who knows, maybe 2020 will see me self-publish something else!

What are you guys doing for 2020? Are you writing a new book? Publishing? Let me know!

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