Thursday, 13 March 2014

In the Limelight with YA Fantasy Authors Lisa Fender and Toni Burns…

I want to thank and welcome authors (and sisters), Lisa Fender and Toni Burns for sharing their personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Their book, Fable – Book 1 of the Lorn Prophecy is available for purchase from Amazon, and other major on-line bookstores. 

BTW—I’ve read Lisa and Toni's fabulous fantasy and found Fable entertaining and well worth the investment. Plus, they have a kick-ass cover! Cheers, ladies!

So, how long have you two been writing, Lisa and Toni?

Lisa—We both started writing as kids, but life kind of got in the way. I started up again thanks to the encouragement of Lizzie T. Leaf. She and I met for coffee several times and she told me to “just go for it”. The first book I attempted was a murder mystery, but I couldn’t get into a psycho’s head. After ten chapters, I put it away. Then I got laid-off from work and decided I had no more excuses not to follow my dream. Fantasy was my love, so when I sat down to write about five years ago, I came up with the Djenrye world.
Toni—I joined my sister in her journey with Stevie about three years ago. With a background in administration/secretarial, she asked if I would help edit the book. Within a year we discovered that we wrote great together and the rest, they say, is history. A little side note—when Lisa and I write we are more like an old married couple than sisters. We tend to finish each other sentences and come up with words at the same time.

Lizzie T. Leaf is a wonderful author in her own right and it certainly seems like she gave you some great advice! Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Fable—Book 1 of the Lorn Prophecy?

Lisa—Like I said, I love fantasy, but was pretty burnt out on the typical vampire, werewolf, fairy stuff others were writing. I came up with the idea of using a folktale character—a genie, but not that kind that comes out of a bottle. More along the idea of all myths having some truth behind them. So the Djen were born—a race of people whose powers can be misinterpreted into ‘fairytales’.
As concerns the heroine—she’s right out of my head and my experiences. Being adopted myself, I wondered what would happen if I found my birth mother. Would she be rich, beautiful, whatever…Stevie’s journey mirrors mine in that she is learning who she is and where her destiny lies.
Toni—I’m along for the ride.

Talk about writing what you know! What sets Fable—Book 1 of the Lorn Prophecy apart from other books in the same genre?

Toni—Fantasy stories have been around longer than the written word. Most are myths and hero’s journeys. In this way, The Lorn Prophecy is similar. The difference is in our creation of a whole new world that is connected to our mundane world (Terra-hun as the Djen call it).
Lisa—Djenrye is a world without pollution, commercially processed food, industrial machinery, or other forms of raping the land (mining, clear cutting, swath burning, etc.). The Djen use all that they take and have a respect for life and nature. They are a part of it, rather than thinking they have dominion over it.
Toni—It is a pristine world, but not without conflict. Otherwise, it would be a boring story. Right, sis?
Lisa—(chuckles) Oh yeah.

And a boring story it is NOT! As collaborative authors, what is your writing process?

Lisa—I start out with the outline of the story. I wrote Fable as a rough draft (the same with Fated and Lore—which we are working on now). Then, Toni and I go through the draft line by line, page by page, chapter by chapter and refine it based on our critique partners.
Toni—We have found that we work as a great sounding board with each other. Lisa will write something and I’ll ask, “what about this”. Then, she’ll play on my idea with “sounds good, but how about if we also”. Through this process of back and forth we come up with ideas complete unique to what either of us started with.

Interesting process, ladies. Sometimes I wish I had a sounding board! How long did it take for you
to start and finish Fable—Book 1 of the Lorn Prophecy?

Lisa—Four and a half long years.
Toni—The good news is that Fated only took about a year.
Lisa—We’re getting better all the time.
Toni—or improving with age. Tee heehee.
Lisa—something like that. (Smiles)

LOL, you two do work well with each other! Do you have any advice for other writers, Lisa and Toni?

Lisa—I teach a class for new writers at the Englewood Library. It drives me absolutely crazy to read self-published works and find that the authors have no knowledge of basic creative writing skills. It makes all self-published books suspect.
Toni—If you are going to self-publish, make it a professional product. Do what my sister and I did: take classes, work with critique partners—listen to them!—and hire a professional editor—and listen to his/her recommendations, too. Additionally, we were very blessed in meeting Springlea, owner of a small publishing company in Colorado called Grumpy Dragon. She was a wealth of information and help in showing us how to layout our books to give them a traditionally published appearance.
Lisa—Writing you do out of love and a desire. But, you have to treat it like a business if you want to do more than just share your stories with your family and friends.

Sage advice for sure! What’s next for Lisa Fender and Toni Burns the authors?

Lisa—We are refining my first draft of Lore (Book 2 of The Lorn Prophecy); I am writing Lineage (Book 2 of The Djenrye Chronicles); and we plan to create at least three books in The Lorn Prophecy series…
Toni—probably more, as long as the books are getting…
Lisa—and compendium novels (The Djenrye Chronicles) to come out between each of the main books.
Toni—And…as we write, we keep coming up with more ideas. Maybe we can dust off Lisa’s old murder mystery and put our Detective Wood in the middle of that one!
Lisa—ha, ha, ha, ha.

Sounds like you both will be busy for quite some time! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

Lisa—That is a really tough question. Maybe back to the time when women were warriors and leaders of their tribes. Perhaps the Bronze Age in the British Isles. I am a Goddess at heart!
Toni—Boadicea rocks! Lisa’s response would be close to my own. I am also a sucker for ancient Greek culture, where women could hold land and power.

You also have a chance to win a copy of Fable. Just leave a comment below with your email address or a way to reach you. We will do a drawing and pick one winner to get the book and some swag to go along with it!

A little taste from Fable – Book 1 of The Lorn Prophecy. I hope you enjoy and decide to give it a read!

Stevie Barrett lives an ordinary life in Golden, Colorado, where nothing remarkable ever happens. That is until right before her high school graduation, when Stevie’s life takes a bizarre turn. Her best friends, Jack and Alyssa, want to be supportive, but are confused by the events plaguing Stevie. 

Stevie’s mom is attacked by men with glowing gold eyes. A strange being spies on Stevie, hidden in shadow. She has waking visions of a people called the Djen and their archaic world. And when her and her BFFs don’t think it can get any weirder, Stevie heals a stranger with a touch. The abilities build until they are a tidal wave awakening within her and threaten her sense of reality. 

Her efforts to understand what is happening lead her and her friends to discover a group known as the Rebellion. These warriors from another dimension are hunting her. Their leader is a man bent on destroying Stevie and possessing her legacy. In order to stop him and save everyone she loves, Stevie and her friends must embark on a quest to find and return Tecton, one of the five Orbs—relics—of the other plane she comes to know as Djenrye. The journey will alter everything she believes, propelling her into another world and another life.

With any of those you can reach us!

Lisa & Toni - Thanks again Sharon for having us on your blog! You are an awesome person, writer, and author. Not to mention, an honorary Djen!


  1. Thanks for having us on your blog Sharon! We had a fun time writing up our answers and I hope there's some who would love a chance to win Fable and leave a comment!

    1. Loved having you both, Lisa and Toni! Yes, I've put the word out about a chance to win a copy! Thank you for coming out of the Djen Den to visit me! Cheers, ladies and all the best with all your publishing endeavors!

  2. Sounds like a great book. It's always the most ordinary lives that turn out to be amazing! Congrats, Lisa and Toni.

    1. Thanks Marci and thanks for reading our interview! It would be fun to find out you are another race and a Guardian to boot. Fast paced journey and interestingly different than what you've read. I hope you check out our story!

  3. Ahhh, I remember when, Lisa. All your hard work has paid off my friend. Really proud of you & Toni!

    1. Thanks my friend and thanks for the kick in the butt years ago! I love u for it!

  4. Sounds so cool!! Love your concepts and glad you are writing together. Very neat world!

    1. It is fun to write together Arley/Leigh. Writing is usually a loner craft but this way we have each other to bounce ideas off of and the way we want the books set up. Much better, and I have a partner in crime lol!

  5. Great interview! I always love learning more about author teams. It is hard for me to wrap my mind around how it is done. But there are really some creative duos out there and you two sound like you are right there in that group.

    I LOVE the genie premise too. I am off to read up more on your books!

    1. Wonderful! I hope you check our books out! We would love to get more reviews from professional reviewers so let us know! It is a challenge to write with another person, but for some reason my sister and I click. It's like the two of us make one writer believe it or not lol! Thanks for the post!

  6. Great Interview Sharon! I loved the way Lisa and Toni complement each other. I loved what was said about taking the time to improve our craft as writers. Sometimes, we let other distractions (which are worthy in their own right) like social media, promotion, networking etc take the place of the main priority - WRITING! Wishing both of you all the best.

    1. Thanks, David! Lisa and Toni made the job a snap! And I agree, many times writing gets pushed aside while authors have to put on their business caps. Augh, the life of a writer! Cheers and thanks for your support and comment!