Indie Author Spotlight: T. A. Hernandez

Indie Author SpotlightAnd we’re back for week four of Indie Author Spotlight by The Edifying Word, which is super exciting because when I hatched this idea I really had no idea whether anyone would take me up on it! I originally had ten, and the roster is growing so we’ll just keep on going. Today’s Spotlight is T. A. Hernandez, whose most recent release I reviewed here on the blog last year. She writes speculative fiction, which includes a whole host of things like fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, dystopian, and more. 


TAHernandez.jpgI met T. A. Hernandez on Twitter (yup, you’re noticing a trend, aren’t you?) when I agreed to participate in her cover reveal for Calico Thunder Rides Again. I enjoy following her because her tweets are usually upbeat, I can identify with her as a mom, and I LOVE that she shares her writing-related artwork! Calico Thunder Rides Again is a fun read, and I’m looking forward to her next releases (more about that below). Check out her website for more info on all her books and some free stories! 

Please tell us about how you got started writing, and why you continue. 

I started writing when I was a kid, maybe ten or eleven years old. I was a voracious reader and just wanted to tell stories like the ones in the books I loved so much. I started to take it more seriously as a teenager and realized then that this writing thing was something I was really passionate about and wanted to pursue long-term. 

Still today, I write first and foremost because I love it. I love stories and it brings me a lot of joy to let my imagination run wild and record my stories for myself. But it’s also a lot of fun to share those stories with others, which is why I decided to go ahead and publish them. Writing is a big part of my self-care and mental/emotional well-being. I’ve always been a very creative person, and I have to be doing something with that creativity to feel like my life is fulfilling.

You make your own FABULOUS book covers – is art another of your creative outlets? 

I love art and have been drawing for even longer than I’ve been writing. I got into digital art about nine years ago and have really enjoyed doing that, as well as branching out into graphic design and other related things. The graphic design skills I’ve picked up have come in super handy as an indie author when it comes to things like making my own social media and promotional graphics as well as designing my own book covers. I also enjoy playing video games and take a lot of my writing inspiration from games. Some of my favorites are the Mass Effect series, The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Portal.

Can you tell us a little about your books? 

Right now I have four novels out. The first three belong to a new adult dystopian thriller trilogy called Secrets of PEACE, which follows a skilled but inexperienced young assassin named Zira who works for the authoritarian government. The other book, Calico Thunder Rides Again, is a fantasy novel set on a magical travelling circus in an alternate Prohibition-era America. The circus owner, Jake, finds himself indebted to some dangerous mobsters and has to find a way to repay them on a tight deadline.

What about your current work? I’m enjoying the artwork teasers!

I’m currently in the process of drafting the first book of a YA fantasy duology, which is told from the perspective of three main characters: Amar, Kesari, and Aleida. Amar is a man who seems to be immortal, but he doesn’t remember anything about his past and wants to figure out exactly what’s happening to him. Then there’s Kesari, a girl who traded part of her life for magical powers she now refuses to use. And finally, we have Aleida, a young refugee woman desperately trying to save her younger brother from a debilitating illness before it takes his life. When their paths intersect, they encounter new conflicts and are forced to face the darkest parts of themselves in order to get what they want. It’s a story that’s been floating around in my head for more than a decade, so I’m really excited to finally share it with readers.

You’ve said you write because you are passionate about it, which makes sense because it certainly doesn’t seem like you have loads of spare time for pursuing it. How do you fit it in? 

I have two kids, ages 6 and 9. I also work part-time as a therapist, and a year ago, I was a full-time graduate student doing a part-time internship and just trying to keep my head above water with all the responsibilities I had to juggle. So I’ve definitely had to learn to balance my time and fit writing in whenever I can. It’s not always easy, but as I said, writing is such an important part of my own mental health and self-care that I just have to make it work. Maybe that means I give up some of the time I’d spend watching TV or playing video games, or maybe it means I do a lot of my writing late at night when the kids are asleep. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a great housekeeper and have often put off whatever chores I could to write instead, but it makes me a happier, healthier person overall, and that helps me be a better mom, so I don’t feel too bad about it. My husband is also a huge support. Because he works full-time, I’ve been able to work part-time, and that leaves me with some time to write that I might not have otherwise. He’ll also take the kids out on his own sometimes so that I can just be alone at home and focus on my writing.

It’s so interesting to me to hear what authors read in their downtime so I’ve been asking everyone I feature here to share some favorites (which, honestly, is something I’d have a hard time doing). Do you have any favorites?

I love reading speculative fiction just as much as I love writing it, and I like to read across a variety of genres under that umbrella. Some of my favorite books are The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, the Tales of the Wendy series by Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown, the Ziva Payvan series by EJ Fisch, and the His Dark Materials books by Phillip Pullman.

What do you hope to achieve as an author?

I have a lot of different author dreams, some of which I’ve already achieved (selling a short story to a publisher, self-publishing a novel, receiving a positive review from an author whose work I greatly admire) and some of which I’m still working on. My overall goal is to reach as many readers as possible with my stories and to just keep getting better as a writer. And I’d love to eventually make enough money from my books to supplement my existing income in a more substantial way.

Thank you so much for participating here. Is there anything you’d like to leave with readers? 

I like to think I’m a pretty easy person to talk to, and I love hearing from readers and fellow writers, so if you ever have any questions about me or my writing process or my books or even just books I’ve read, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I especially love hearing about readers’ reactions to my stories and characters. I also love to connect with and support other indie authors, so if you’re an indie author or if you have a favorite indie book you want to recommend, definitely let me know.

All right, friends! Please visit T. A. Hernandez at her website, or on social media, and maybe buy her books!

Book links:
Twitter: @ta_hernandez5
Instagram: @ta_hernandez5


Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at!

The story of “The Martian’s” unconventional path to publication

About four years ago, Andy Weir gave a talk at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on The Martian‘s path to success. As an editor who works with primarily indie authors and authors querying agents, I found it very interesting to hear Weir’s explanation of how he “failed” at publishing when he really, really tried, and then how he found profound success with a book he started out giving away for free. I also, on a personal level, find it really fascinating that his success came only after he let go: when he stopped trying and let things kind of run their own course, pursuing writing because he enjoyed it but without the pressure to “succeed.” Just interesting to ponder as we go about our lives, don’t you think?

Also, I’d like to just add here that I commend the screenwriter for sticking so closely to the book. There are differences, of course, and Weir goes into some of them in the talk, but it is remarkably close. I read the book after seeing the movie, and that often ruins the book for me but in this case it definitely didn’t – it’s the same story, with SO MUCH MORE DETAIL, and it’s fascinating (though not all scientifically accurate!). I just searched back so I could link to my review of the book, but apparently I never wrote a review (oops)…suffice it to says it’s AWESOME. And funny 🙂

Check out this video to hear the story straight from Andy Weir!

Prepare to be haunted! Check out “Please Disappear” by M.K. Shivakoti, read my interview with him, and buy the book! Available for PREORDER NOW, Releases March 25

Please DisappearLast year at some point I had the great privilege of beta reading M.K. Shivakoti’s debut novel, Please Disappear. It was a truly rewarding experience because the book is fantastic, and because it led to an engaging dialogue about the book and the characters and where he might go with a sequel (yay!). I am so excited now to tell you that Please Disappear is releasing March 25th, and is available for preorder NOW on Amazon.

If you read my blog often, then I presume you trust or at least are interested in my opinions on books – so you should read it just because I said it’s worth your time, haha! But in truth, Shivakoti weaves a complex mystery, revealing bits of information at a time and keeping the reader guessing. Here are some of the comments I made to him in my beta reader feedback:

You do a phenomenal job with the dark-and-twisted stuff!

I looked forward to picking up the book every night, had a hard time putting it down at bedtime, and was disappointed when it ended.

I would buy your sequel!

In case you’re not sold by my praises, and if you’re a visual as well as literary person, you can check out the book trailer Shivakoti put together to promote the book. This whole book trailer realm is new/foreign to me, kind of like book-tubing… but that’s just me. So, if this is your thing – then enjoy!


An NOW, here’s an interview with M.K. Shivakoti himself!

M.K. ShivakotiThe Edifying Word (EDW): Tell us a little about yourself!

M.K. Shivakoti: My name is M.K. Shivakoti. I was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, but have spent most of my adult life in the United States. I’m also a debut author of a suspense thriller, Please Disappear, which is releasing on March 25, 2019.

My story is perhaps not that unique. I’m an immigrant who is regularly questioned about my Nepalese versus American identity. Many ultimately conclude that I don’t truly belong to either. To the nativists, I don’t have enough pride, enough loyalty, enough faith, enough whatever it takes to be called one or the other.

But from my vantage point, being part of the two cultures has been a tremendous blessing. As a writer, I’m able to draw similarities and differences and use it in my fiction. My characters are multi-cultural and are free to express themselves however they would like; they are not bound by religion, national origin, faith or dogma. I’m able to tell human stories, without being shackled to the continent I grew up in or the continent I live in. And it’s all because I have had the privilege to be part of two beautiful yet distinct cultures.     

EDW: Writing is hard work – why do you write? 

MK: My parents and friends tell me that I’ve always been a writer, that I enjoyed writing even at a young age. It all seems a little hazy to me now since there was a period when I didn’t write at all. What I now know is that creativity needs a certain environment to flourish and I didn’t have that space until my late twenties.

Anyhow, I write because I have to. It’s part of who I am. It’s always been that way, even though I had to re-discover this in my life. To non-writers, this may be difficult to understand, but writing to me is akin to eating, drinking, or using the bathroom. Of course, I’m not going to die if I don’t write for a week or two. Nevertheless, my point is that if we’re devoid of these basic needs, our bodies would complain. Why eat? Why drink? Why go to the bathroom? These are not questions we bother ourselves with. These are facts of life. These are things we do. These are things we must do.

EDW: I’m so excited for your book release! What can readers look forward to when they pick up Please Disappear?

MK: My debut novel, Please Disappear, took four years to write and a few additional years to get published. I have a lot of emotions attached to this book. It’s upcoming release, and associated anticipation, anxiety, and whole array of emotion is second only to the birth of my son.

My hope is that readers will quickly find themselves engrossed in the thrilling suspense. As a reader, I gravitate toward books that grab you from the first page and won’t let you go until the end. As a writer, I have attempted to create something similar. I hope people enjoy reading what I thoroughly enjoyed writing.

They can read more about the book here:

If anyone’s interested in reading sample chapters, I’m sending that for free. They can find more information at:

EDW: If Please Disappear were made into a movie, who would you hope would play your lead character?

MK: Wouldn’t that be great!! If something crazy like this were to happen, I would love to see Jared Leto as Gabriel and Priyanka Chopra as Sara Sardana. Katie and Arun are tough for me to imagine. Maybe Dev Patel would be great as Arun, but then he’s a little too tall and his English a little too native to pull off an immigrant from Nepal. Although a comic, Kumail Nanjiani, maybe a better fit. Given an opportunity, I’m confident he can do justice to gritty roles. 😊     

EDW: Do you have a favorite writer, or someone who influences your work?

MK: One author in particular stands out for me—Stephen King.

I read ‘The Shining’ when I was a grown man. One day I was sitting outside on a lounge chair, overlooking our community swimming pool. It was a bright sunny day, and I was reading ‘The Shining.’ When that woman stepped out of the bath tub, I had to close the book and look around just to double check. There was another family across from me, eating hot dogs and burgers. One kid was about to canon ball into the pool and a couple had found a sweet corner to canoodle. The hideous woman from the book was nowhere to be found and I was just glad she didn’t jump out of the pool. Yet, my heart was going boom, boom, boom.

Stephen King not only creates fictional worlds, but he possesses the magical ability to transmit real palpable emotions through his writing.

EDW: When you are not writing, what’s your favorite way to spend time?

MK: I have a full-time job and daddy duties most days of the week. So, if I have any free time, my favorite things to do are to read and write.

EDW: Finally, is there anything else we should know about you?

MK: No, I think we’ve covered quite a bit here. I want to thank Kristin for giving me this opportunity. I also want to thank you all for reading this post. There are million other things online to watch and read, I’m truly grateful you chose to read this instead.

EDW: You’re welcome, and thanks for being my first author interview here at The Edifying Word. Okay everyone, now go buy Please Disappear!

You can connect with M.K. Shivakoti the following ways: