My First Love

Happy Valentine’s Day early! I hope all the couples out there have some good plans for celebrating your special someones. And if you’re currently single, be proud and enjoy the positives that come with that. This week I’m celebrating a first love—Phoenix Feather.

Phoenix Feather new cover

Phoenix Feather contained many firsts for me. It was the first book I wrote set in our world. Before that, I’d always written straight fantasy: dragons, sword fights, magic. But then I was thinking about superheroes and this thought struck me—”What if there was a supernatural character who *wasn’t* the hero?” Aidan Quinn was born, a woman who in every way was just like any other except for the dormant power inside that manifested at her death and brought her back to life from the ashes.
When I started writing Phoenix Feather, I just thought it would be a fun experiment; I didn’t expect it to actually go anywhere. But then the process of writing it took off, making it, not the first book I ever finished, but the first book I finished that wasn’t terrible.

Phoenix Feather was also the first book I ever published. It’s hard to imagine how far I’ve come in the past two years (even harder to imagine it’s only been two years!). I knew next to nothing when I published it, not to mention I had no social media presence. I hit that heart-palpitation-inducing “Publish” button  and then read up on good marketing tips, which stated I needed to start a blog and get on Twitter. So that’s what I did. It’s a good thing I fell into the #mywana hashtag group, because I met a handful of amazing people who I’ve been good friends with since.

Lastly, if you’ve read my books, you might find this a little surprising—Phoenix Feather was the first book where I gave my characters a happily ever after. That’s right, before that, I had an unfortunate habit of not letting the guy and girl get together. It’s not like I killed everyone off (though in one case I did kill the guy), but romance just wasn’t in the cards for my characters. Aidan and Trent changed that, and I’m so glad they did. Plus, Trent is a guy I could totally fall for. He’s sweet and solid, with old fashioned values. Half of the writing of this story was me living vicariously through Aidan and falling in love with the guy too.

Phoenix Feather was my first love, not just because it was my first published book or my first romance, but it awakened in me a love for writing urban fantasy, which led me down the path to writing Elemental Magic. Some people have asked if I will write a sequel for Aidan and Trent, but though I love the characters and each one holds a special place in my heart, their story feels complete. For now. The muse may very well change her mind later down the road.

Have you read Phoenix Feather? Tell us about your favorite romantic moment in the book. Hey, even tell us about your first love (doesn’t have to be human 😉 ).

Snuggle up this Valentine’s Day with a sweet romantic suspense. Phoenix Feather on Amazon!

Aidan Quinn is a centuries-old phoenix living as a human. Weary of the repetitious life cycles, she’s not sure she has it in her to love again, though dashing fireman Trent McCain is going to do his best to convince her otherwise. But the clock is ticking—a serial killer is on the loose, and he’s on the hunt for a phoenix.


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Phoenix Feather Gets A New Look!

I’ve decided to change the cover for my first novel, Phoenix Feather. Don’t get me wrong, I love the original cover, even designed the concept myself, but I’m afraid it doesn’t shout, “Look at me!” So I’m giving this one a try. With Valentine’s Day next month, I’m hoping this sweet romance will get a little more love.

Phoenix Feather new cover

Cover art by Char Adlesperger at Wicked Cover Designs

Author Spotlight: Alica McKenna Johnson

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Alica McKenna Johnson to the blog.  She just released her first YA fantasy.  Congrats!  Here’s a little about the book.

Sara’s dream is to find her family but she doesn’t count on discovering magical creatures or catching on fire. On her fourteenth birthday a surprise inheritance changes her appearance, abilities, and identity. Welcomed into the family of the Phoenix she is taught to use her new powers. Will Sara embrace being a Child of Fire or will the evil that killed her parents destroy her as well?


I personally love the phoenix myth.  What made you choose it as the focus for your book?

Phoenixes have a lot of different gifts and there are myths about them all over the world, which made them more dynamic to work with. They also had myths about shifting into humans, which made it easier for them to mate with humans. 🙂

Will this be a series?

Yes, my editor is making me plot it out right now, which as a pantser is a challenge. So far to get all the elements I want I’ll need to write eight or nine books.

Wow!  You’ve got a lot ahead of you.  If your book was turned into a movie, who would play your top characters?

Wow- such a fun question. Wait a second I must confer with hubby. Okay because my main characters are so young- Sara is fourteen at the start of the book, I’d love to have some new actors. One thing I would insist on is they are the correct race, it makes me mad when they cast actors of different ethnic backgrounds for roles.  But for some of my older characters let’s see. I would adore it if Nathan Fillion or Huge Laurie played Philip, Karl Yun for Shin, Kareena Kapoor for Anali, and for Gavin, James Marsden.

But to be honest, I’m much more interested in watching or hand picking who will be preforming all the circus stunts. 🙂

Lol, sounds like you’ll need your own Cirque Du Soleil.  Which authors have influenced you the most?  Not necessarily in writing style, but in any form of inspiration.

There are so many amazing authors out there with great stories of trials, struggles, and success. But in all honesty a wonderful group of fan fiction authors was a huge influence. Not only did all the differences in their stories teach me so much about writing but the support I got from that community as a newbie author was amazing.

As an author, what’s your biggest fear?

Of course I am scared of the first negative review and I know I’ll get one, I won’t be able to make everyone happy. But my real fear is being slammed for grammar and spelling mistakes. I suck at grammar and spelling, it is my greatest weakness as an author and why I am so grateful to Kilian Metcalf for all of her time and patience in helping me edit my book.

I think a lot of people assume that being a good storyteller means automatic grammar skills.  Gotta love our editors!  What aspect of writing are you currently working on improving in your own craft?

My pacing and balancing my description whore tendencies.

Haha, I’m working on adding more description!  You went the self-publishing route—want to tell us a little about your decision?

Mainly I’m a control freak, and didn’t want someone messing with my book to meet ‘current industry standards’, especially since even after trimming my book is 98,000 words. Also because of how much work even traditionally published authors have to do on their own to promote themselves I decided to try and do it on my own.

I can definitely relate.  What activities do you enjoy when you’re not writing?

I love watching movies, especially foreign films. I go for hikes with my family. Hit the gym with a friend several times a week. And of course reading.

Your book is YA Fantasy—is there another genre you’d like to write in the future?

To give myself a break between book 2 and 3, and honestly because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for book 3, I’m working on a contemporary paranormal romance. I’m calling it Poltergeist meets Ghost Adventures.

I also have story ideas for other contemporary and gay romance stories all with paranormal/ metaphysical themes.

Ooh, sounds fun!  I love the cover—who designed it?

Thank you, I’m thrilled with it. My hubby designed and painted it for me. After years of listening to me talk about my story and characters he had a clear idea of what he wanted it to look like and it’s perfect.

That is so neat!  Will he be designing subsequent covers? 

Yes, he’s working on a back cover for the print version, and he has ideas for book 2- eventually I guess I’ll have to think of a title.

(I’m stealing this last question from my interview with Alica.  :-P)  What mad-ass survival skill do you have?

Does marrying someone with mad-ass survival skills count? And my son has done survival training so I know how to surround myself with bad ass-ness LOL! Um let’s see, I have more helping-rebuild-society skills. I can knit and know how to help a woman give birth- if there aren’t major problems.

Lol, yeah, that counts.  Thanks for hanging out over here today!

Angela thank you so much for having me- these have been great questions and super fun to try and figure out!


You can find Alica on her Blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Her book can be found at Smashwords and Amazon.

Got a question for Alica?  Do you love phoenix stories?  I love hearing from you!

Custom Pony Contest!

Welcome to Imagine That on Wednesdays!  Rebecca Enzor is hosting a contest where writers design their own custom My Little Pony based on their completed novels.  Being a lover of My Little Pony and drawing them, I couldn’t resist.  So here are my ponies based on Phoenix Feather and Elemental Magic!

Phoenix Feather is my official entry for the contest.  This pony represents the character, Aidan Quinn, in both her human and phoenix form.  As a human, she has deep, vibrant red hair, which is one of the features that fits the serial killer’s type in the story.  As a phoenix, she has wings of fire, and the feather plays a key role in the novel, though I can’t explain without giving too much away.

Phoenix Feather–Can a phoenix find happily ever after with a mortal before a serial killer finds her?

And, because I couldn’t help myself, I also designed a custom pony for Elemental Magic, even though it’s not officially part of the contest.  This pony represents the element of water.  The main character, Aileen Donovan, is a water elemental.  The upside down triangle is the symbol for this element, and in the novel it is used as an identifying tattoo for elementals.  Inside the triangle are two dots representing Aileen’s status in her elemental society–Apprentice.  She needs to pass credentialing exams to become a full-fledged Steward and receive her third dot to complete the tattoo.

I hope you guys enjoyed these My Little Ponies.  Check out Rebecca’s post on the contest and read the comments to find others who are participating.  Voting will commence Oct. 5th-15th.

For the rest of September, everyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing to win a free e-book copy of Elemental Magic when it releases in October.  Five winners will be selected.

Aileen Donovan wants nothing more than recognition as an elemental scientist by her supernatural community.  What better way to do that than to solve a mystery involving a power-hungry alchemist, hallucinogenic coral, and a homicidal sea dragon?  The hardest part will be working with Coast Guard officer Colin Benson—until the tides turn, and Aileen realizes that love and duty may not have to be mutually exclusive.

The Phoenix

The phoenix is one of my favorite mythological creatures.  The power of fire as both destructive and regenerative is mesmerizing.  The myth is essentially the same across cultures–the phoenix is a firebird who bursts into flame at death every 100 to 1,000 years and is reborn from the ashes.  But there are some interesting varieties.

Egyptian Phoenix

The Egyptian phoenix was called the Bennu, and was thought to be the soul of Ra, the Sun-God.  It was not depicted in the traditional colors associated with the phoenix, but instead was a grey, purple, blue, or white heron.  At the end of its life cycle, it would make a nest of cinnamon twigs and ignite, thereby burning completely to ashes.  Once the new phoenix emerged, it would embalm the ashes of the old phoenix into an egg and deposit it in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis.  The Greeks adapted the same myth to their own liking, making the colors more bright and fiery, and associating the bird with their Sun-God, Apollo.

Persian Phoenix

The Huma bursts into flame every few hundred years.  It is said that the Huma spends its life flying above the earth, never to land.  To be touched by its shadow alone is said to bring good fortune, and should the bird alight on your shoulder, it foretells kingship.  Catching the Huma is impossible, but just the sight of it will bring happiness to a person for the rest of their days.  The Huma bird contains both male and female attributes, one on each wing/leg.  It is also said to be large enough to carry off a whale!

Chinese Phoenix

Originally, the feng were the male birds and the huang female, but tradition later blended the two into a single entity, the Fenghuang, and made it female.  The phoenix then became the symbol for the Empress and could be paired with the male Chinese dragon, who symbolized the Emperor.  Unlike Western traditions, the Chinese phoenix is more like a chimera, and is said to be made up of various different types of birds.  Phoenix are pure, and are said to only dwell where there is peace and prosperity, loyalty and honesty.

Russian Phoenix

This is the mythology I chose to base my novel, Phoenix Feather, on.  The firebird’s majestic plumage glows brightly like flames; even after a feather falls, it continues to glow.  The firebird is a symbol of blessing and doom.  It signals a difficult quest, usually inspired by the finding of one of those illuminated feathers.  The finder, mesmerized by the bird, then embarks on a journey to catch it, but the journey usually ends in woe.  The phoenix is also said to cry tears of pearls.

There are more legends and variations, not to mention popular modern day interpretations of these fascinating creatures (Fawkes in Harry Potter), but I didn’t want to get too encyclopedic on you.


While the feather by itself seems innocuous, there is a deep power associated with it.  Like fire, it is neither good nor evil, but has the power to either destroy or refine.  It’s entrancing by its beauty, and the potential to blaze with glory, yet it is also dangerous because of those very qualities.  This feather and what/who it represents is both a catalyst for darkness and destruction, and the vessel of love and hope.  In a world full of joy and sorrow, love and misery, this agent is a light seeking a balance between two inevitable realities in a sinful world, and is ultimately the final hope for something better.