The next guest in my spring “Five Photographs” series is Rachel Leigh Smith. She’s here with another terrific collection of photos, a peek at her writing, and more reading and watching recommendations. She’s also giving away one signed copy of her first book, My Name is A’Yen. Details below. Welcome, Rachel!

Something that represents something unique about you

Rachel Smith Unique

This photo is me in a nutshell. My favorite flower, my favorite movie, my favorite country, and the blue postcard in the back says “Keep Calm, I’m The Doctor.” The book you can see under the Ariel music box is my crit partner’s first published novella. And I’m a cat person.

Something that represents where you live

Rachel Smith Crawfish

I live in Louisiana, home of some of the most unique food you’ll find in the US. Most people know these little babies as crayfish. If you call them that, it means you’re a Yankee. They’re crawfish, or even better, crawdads or mudbugs. We prefer them boiled. What you see is three pounds, and I ate every single one of them. My sister ate five pounds that night.

[Jill: Ha! I always open the photos first when I get these posts. I knew where you were from when I saw this. 🙂 ]

Your pet or plant or thing you care for

Rachel Smith Zoe

This is my Zoe. She’s gorgeous, so sweet, great around kids, my snuggle-bunny, and dumb as a rock. I’m constantly reminding my family I didn’t pick her because she was smart, I picked her because she was cute. How can you not love that face?

[Jill: I love cats with unique fur patterns on their face. She is adorable.]

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Rachel Smith Frustrating

This is what I call the damn hedge. It surrounds our property. And I’m allergic to it. I get a few days break from the pine pollen madness before this stupid thing starts up.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Rachel Smith Cross-Stich

Counted cross-stitch! This pattern is White Nights in St. Petersburg from Chatelaine, and I’m almost done with it. It’s massive, my fabric is 32” square.

[Jill: Beautiful! I’m not sure I’d have the patience…]

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

A’yen is crowned king, but it isn’t stopping his enemies. Someone is after Ro, and the woman he’s falling in love with is caught in the middle. A’yen races to save Ro before he can act on his deepest desire: killing his tormentor. Happily ever after can’t happen if Ro is dead.

What are you working on next?

I’m currently writing #6 in A’yen’s Legacy, and trying to figure out how to finish my other series opener novel while still writing on Essence of Loyalty.

What are you currently reading?

Keir by Pippa Jay and The Darkest Craving by Gena Showalter. I’m very much in the Kane club now, though I didn’t care for him before.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Criminal Minds, The Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who, Orphan Black, Arrow, The Flash, The Musketeers, Broadchurch, Wolf Hall, and Call The Midwife. And yes, there is a distinct preference there for BBC shows, whether on PBS or BBC America.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

The Raksura, from The Books of The Raksura by Martha Wells. They’re fantasy with a strong romance sub-plot in the first three, centered on a race of shape-shifters called the Raksura. They have a human form and a winged form. I read the main trilogy about once a year and I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the second novella collection this summer.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Finding your readers. Everything is so saturated, and a lot of so-called promo opportunities don’t work. When you write in a niche genre like me, finding those readers is even harder.

How can we meet that challenge?

By writing the best damn book we’re capable of. Every writer should constantly be learning more about the craft of writing, how to structure and pace a novel, and strive to make each novel better than the last.

Rachel Leigh Smith
Rachel Leigh Smith

More about Rachel

Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging…

She’s a member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Romance Writers of America. She blogs sporadically at http://www.rachelleighsmith.com, hangs out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RachelLeighSmithAuthor, and can sometimes be found at http://twitter.com/rachelleighgeek. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

The Giveaway

Rachel is giving away one signed copy of My Name is A’Yen. Click here for the Rafflecopter form. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

ALSO: My Name Is A’yen is on sale for 99 cents through 5/10! Sale price available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Coffee Time Romance Bookstore, and All Romance Ebooks.

Thanks for the interview, pictures, and giveaway, Rachel! Best wishes and happy Monday, all!