Join me in welcoming writing duo, Toni Decker! Their most recent book, DARK INK EMBRACE, book 3 of The Shoalman Chronicles, is available now!
Tell us about you! Can you share some interesting tidbits we may not know?
What many people discover is that TONI DECKER is actually 2 brains!
TONI Cross is an early morning person, while Kira DECKER groans at just hearing early & morning put together in the same sentence and prefers to stay up writing until 4 am, not getting up at 4 am. The difference between us works nicely though. We leave chapters for each other to discover after our preferred writing times.
We often describe our writing as “choose your own adventure” as we each choose only one of the main character’s POV (point of view) to write from for the entire book. Toni’s chapters can influence Kira’s chapters, so even though we have our outline to go on, sometimes the characters take over and have other ideas!
Both of us like our morning caffeine fix. Toni grabs her favorite coffee (TONI: Iced, hot, as long as it’s liquid—so ALL coffee?) while Kira must have Dr. Pepper on hand (KIRA: It looks like coffee—it’s just cold and comes in a convenient can.)
We both love how romance can muck things up, but then love shines through to make all the struggles worth it in the end. Thankfully, Toni is enamored of Francis from the TV show Reign, while Kira is completely happy to take Bash. We might both fight over Jon Snow though.
What inspired you to start writing?
Toni Decker Books started out from a chance meeting during a writing course we were both taking. After talking and coincidentally meeting up again during a different class, we hit it off and a friendship was born. Brainstorming one day, Kira envisioned a story involving an Immortal, but was having trouble with the other main character. Toni, however, could see the storyline for that second main character clearly.
We decided to try NaNoWriMo as a co-writing team to see what would happen. That jumbled mess sparked something in both of us; a story we knew had to come to life. Together we continued writing and came up with not just one book, but a whole series based off that chance encounter.
Other than writing, what are some of your passions in life?
KIRA: Music and online gaming are passions of mine. I love interacting and getting to know people over the internet that I may never meet in person, but who share these same passions (In-game chats often spur great story ideas). I even got to watch a real life romance happen through my online gaming group. They fell in love and I got two amazing people in my life who I now call personal friends (and got to be in their wedding). Music is my muse for writing and gaming soundtracks are some of the BEST music out there. I almost always have gaming music on when I write. If I get stuck on a scene, I’ll go hunt some new music to help inspire me. Always works!
TONI: There’s something other than writing? Honestly, I have two very active kids and when I’m not writing, or reading, chances are I’m taxiing one, or both of them, to activities. They are my passion right now. Watching them grow and find their own passions is fascinating and recharges me to chase my own passion.
What was your debut novel, and how has your writing process changed since your debut?
Our debut novel was IMAGES ETERNAL, published in September 2014. We’ve learned that sometimes characters do take over, but with great results. What ended up being Book 1, was supposed to be a novella (Mandy & Lucien had a bit more to say about that lol). Book 2, SHOALMAN IMMORTAL, was originally supposed to be Book 1.
As we have continued writing in this series, we have learned to compromise. Kira has become better at plotting (It’s not a dirty word–according to TONI) and Toni has managed to embrace pantsing here and there (And she didn’t even break out into hives doing it).
What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process and why?
KIRA: I love the stories that float through my head. Once you write, you never look at the world the same way again. You watch people and think “What if…”. Being able to create a world where the impossible is possible or where love always prevails and characters do get their happily-ever-after is a powerful motivator. I also love my villains and sometimes even let them get their happy endings.
TONI: I love drafting. I love studying craft and learning new plotting processes. I love watching a story go from a little seed to a mature tree. Trimming the branches of that tree? No thanks. I find editing more difficult.
What is your most challenging part of the writing/publishing process and what do you do to make it easier?
We have different ways of approaching writing. Sometimes that makes the different parts of writing/publishing easier (and harder), in that one person is better at one aspect while the other person excels in another area.
For instance, I love going to signings and engaging people one-on-one. Toni excels at creating the most amazing graphics and teasers, something I’m terrible at.
Editing is probably the most challenging aspect we deal with. We push through by switching characters at that point. It allows us to approach the story with a fresh set of eyes (so to speak).
What does a typical day look like for you? How do you find balance?
KIRA: I set aside certain days for writing. I work FT outside of writing and have a family, both of which are very important to me. (My husband claims he has to see me at least once a week or he’ll start dating again!) I’m a night owl and prefer to write late, so I make those times work for me. But if I find spare time (HA!), I sneak in extra writing whenever possible. (Or I a grab a kid and we go do a book conference. In TX. For her birthday.)
TONI: I do have a day job and active kids and demanding husband (Ha! Not even a little true but it sounds good! My husband is so amazingly supportive.) Still, balance is essential to meeting all the needs of everyone. But I also tend to use a daily word count to meet my writing needs. I’m a most-important-things-get-done-first type so most days I try to hit word count before work. Member of the 5amWritingClub, party of one!
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
KIRA: Believe in yourself and your stories. You will get there and people will fall in love with your characters as much as you did.
TONI: Patience never killed anyone, so practice some patience.
What do you love about writing romance?
KIRA: Writing about the power of love. Romance makes people (and characters lol) do dumb things but maybe for the right reasons. Romance is intertwined in everyday events. It softens a loss. It raises you higher than you ever thought you could fly. It makes life worth living.
TONI: I write romance for the happily ever after (save the debate, I won’t change my mind). I hate surprises so I want, no, need, to know there’s a happily ever after in a story.
What kinds of things do you find romantic in real life? Can you share a story?
KIRA: Some might find this strange, but one of the most romantic things my husband did for me was when we were dating in college. He surprised me after a late class with a single red rose in my dorm room that HE HAD CLEANED. I remember standing in the open doorway staring at the spotless room and started crying. He thought he had done something wrong. It took me several minutes to explain that as the youngest of a large family, no-one had ever done something just for me. I knew then he was a keeper. 27 years later, I find I was right. He still cleans and still brings me flowers out of the blue, for no other reason than to make me smile. 🙂
Do you read your book reviews? If so, how do they affect your writing (if at all)?
KIRA: I always read them, good and bad. I look at them with a critical eye, as I know not every book is for everyone, and do try to see if I can use them to make my stories better. The ones where people felt a real connection to the characters are the best ones.
TONI: Depends on my mood. If I think I can read with the distance required, I’ll read. But I know myself well enough to know when I won’t find that distance so I won’t read them then.
What is the craziest, funniest, or most surprising thing that has happened to you since publishing your first book?
KIRA: I have met some amazing people in the community and have been fortunate enough to turn some of those internet connections into real life friendships. I think the funniest thing I have ever had happen is when a close friend who knows my real name, my nickname, and my pen name, stopped dead in the middle of a crowded room and asked, “Which one of your multiple personalities should I address you by today?” And I had to think for a second to remember who I was that day…
Our most recent release is DARK INK EMBRACE, book 3 of The Shoalman Chronicles. It’s a Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy story about one of the side characters featured in the first two books, Carmen Solvak, who finally gets her own story. You’re introduced to a new character, Victor Ruso, our broken but oh-so-sexy hero and learn more about the world of Guardians and their Charges. As a bonus, characters from the previous books also make appearances.
PLUS Romance, Tattoos, Dark broody Bad Boy, Kick-ass Heroine
Is there any other news you would like to share?
We will be at Hallowread, on Saturday, October 21, 2017, in Ellicott City MD as attending panel authors and for a book signing afterward. Come out at join us for some great workshops, panels and lots of book fun!
The Shoalman Chronicles by Toni Decker
Five Facts Just for Fun!
1. What’s your favorite ’90s jam?
KIRA: Is ALL an acceptable answer?
TONI: Wait. You mean like just one? How is that possible when the 90’s brought us Nirvana, most of U2s greatest hits, Slim Shady AND Britney Spears?
2. What was the last gift you gave someone?
KIRA: A watermelon candle to my daughter to make her feel better after a rough week.
3. What were you like as a kid?
KIRA: Either quiet, with my nose stuck in some book about dragons or sword fighting, OR climbing trees with my 2 best friends pretending to be heroes/heroines of some great adventure.
TONI: I was always the artsy kid, from elementary drawings to voted most artistic in high school.
4. What was the last thing you binge-watched & what did you think of it?
KIRA: Once Upon A Time series. Love how they play with “known” fairytales and then turn them upside down or sideways. Love that Villains are not always the bad guys.
TONI: If you’re counting rewatches, Reign. I’m hopelessly, unapologetically, addicted to the first season of that show. It is perfect. The foreshadowing in the first episode alone is amazing and awe-inspiring. Helps that the lead female is a fantastic actress and the lead male of the show is totally my type. *cough*#TeamFrancis*cough*
5. What is the one thing (other than your loved ones) that you cannot live without?
KIRA: *chuckles* Everyone I know will probably tell you Dr. Pepper. They’re probably right.
TONI: Caffeine. Either coffee or Mt. Dew.
The Shoalman Chronicles Book 1
If Images are worth a thousand words, hers sing a thousand Eternal songs.
When forbidden from taking pictures of the newest lead singer for an up and coming band, Mandy Hayworth wants to know why. With a supernatural ability to expose truths with her camera, she’s determined to find out his secrets.
Lucien Solvak only had to make a date, give an interview to the hottest local music photographer, get her endorsement, and get out. But when her camera threatens to expose an immortal secret he’s sworn to protect, Lucien has to choose which is more important. The girl, his music, or his life.
The Shoalman Chronicles Book 2
Falling in love was never supposed to be part of the picture.
Kyrissa Spears was born with a powerful, and deadly, gift. When she paints, she captures emotions so strong they can kill. Desperate to find a teacher capable of helping her unlock and control her abilities, Kyrissa’s search leads her to an artist who may be able to help her. And he’s the one person she can’t accidentally kill.
After five centuries of pain and loneliness, Robert Shoalman craves release from his immortality. He’s all but given up hope until he meets the beautiful and intriguing Kyrissa. She could paint his death and break the curse, but at the cost of destroying her gift and being lost to him forever—none of which will matter if the demon hunting him finds them first.
Dark Ink Embrace
The Shoalman Chronicles Book 3
Victor Ruso has been on the run since the night he linked a cursed Immortal and his Guardian, reluctantly forcing his ascension as Guardian Ink Master. Instead of something his loved ones could celebrate, the passing of that mantle destroyed his family. While chasing his next ink high, Victor must now hide from both the Guardian who betrayed his father and an uncle who would kill to steal his gift and secret. But he never counted on fate dropping a dark-haired complication into his tattooed arms.
The death of Carmen Solvak’s beloved grandmother raises a question she’s not ready to answer. Will loneliness be her only fate since their Guardian blood legacy passed her by? Unaware of her dormant power, Carmen captures Victor’s soul with a single innocent touch. She struggles against his mysterious pull and the exciting new future he offers. Which path leads to her true purpose; the one Carmen planned, or the one fate just handed to her in the form of a sexy, Guardian Ink Master?
His gift connects them.
Her touch unlocks their fate.