Indies Supporting Indies Jennifer Hartman

Indies Supporting Indies Featuring

Jennifer Hartman



Indie author Jennifer Hartman started writing children’s books when she could not find any family-friendly resources that reflected the lore and stories she was told as a child. She has endeavored to provide both education and entertainment through her books and her brand, Pagan Kids.

Pagan Kids is a family-friendly, online resource to introduce children to Norse history, lifestyle, folklore and mythology.

Hartman is Canadian by birth with Swedish heritage and had a childhood filled with the lore and stories from her mother’s country.

Enter Pagan Kids,  the brand. 

I myself utilized some of the wonderful printables and crossword puzzles available on the website. There are also coloring pages, so something for everyone in the family!

I caught up with Hartman a few months back and asked her a few questions about her first book, “Old Mother Frost” and her upcoming release “Who is That in the Sky?”

What projects you are currently working on?

I’m currently working on two books: “Who is That in the Sky?” and “Midsommar Sól”.

“Who’s That in the Sky?” is a book for toddlers based on the Norse gods who bring the different phases of the day to our skies. It should be released late this summer or early autumn. 

“Midsommar Sól” is the second book of my celebration series for kids ages 4-12 (The first is “Old Mother Frost” published in October 2020). 

“Midsommar Sól” tells a tale of a Norse goddess who comes to the ground on the longest day of the year to dance and play. It’s based on the sun goddess and the Midsummer Festival that’s popular throughout Scandinavia. It will be released in spring 2022.

At the end of each book in the celebration series, I include a fun fact page that clarifies historical points, and other cultural lessons I sneak into the pages. 


How do you research for your books?

The celebration series starts with researching the origins of big Swedish celebrations (like Yule and Midsummer), and then I look for folklore that stem from pre-Christian times. 

Usually I find a few characters with ties to one similar character. (Old Mother Frost had several connections including Santa Claus, Santa Lucia, Lady Diana and others). 

From here I begin reading studies on Academia that include the people of my search and the holidays. I also ask specific Facebook groups for educational reads on the subject. For example, Heathen Women United is an excellent foundation for educational resources, and they’re very active on Facebook. 

Once I find the studies that align to my purpose, I summarize every paragraph, rearrange timelines so they’re in order, and create my own mini-study that breaks down the who, what, where, when, whys and hows. This makes revising all the information simple, easy-to-understand and remember. 

Finally, I begin weaving the bones of this information into stories for kids; and then I have it fact-checked my university professors in my family.

The toddler books are a lot easier. I find inspiration for them when casually reading my textbooks. ‘Who’s That in the Sky?’ was inspired by the prose poems in The Poetic Edda. From there I double-check descriptors online that cite medeivel documents. 


What are other things you like to do besides write?


When I’m not writing my books, reading educational material and blogging about the information I’m finding, I typically enjoy gardening, going for regular hikes with my family, and most recently daily yoga! [I love to] watch sitcoms to try and get some comical relief into my over-worked brain.

To find out more about Jennifer Hartman visit her website and check out our interview on my IGTV series Authors After Dark.



Indies Supporting Indies: Jenn Berlin

Indies Supporting Indies

Featuring Jenn Berlin

“Beware the Ides of March”

We all remember where we were this time last year. Maybe for you too, this week is the one year anniversary of everything changing. 

Jenn and I both spent 2020 growing and expanding beyond our cosmetology careers, into passions and projects that were side hustles or hobbies in the past, that over lockdown were given time to thrive. 

When it was time to return to work, Jenn, like me, integrated her passions back into her work and recently opened her own voiceover and salon studio–Berlin Studios in downtown Asheville. I recently caught up with Jenn to get the scoop on all of the projects and creative things she is doing besides being a talented cosmetologist, loving mother, and all around badass human.

Even though I worked next to you for years, I never knew about your background in singing! Can you tell me a little about your history with music?

Jenn: I have trained with a vocal coach for 25 years. I have sung with the Fairfax Choral society in Washington, D.C. as well as the Asheville Symphony Chorus. My vocal training has given me the tools and framework for flexibility in my voice. I am a natural Soprano 1, however, my training has allowed me to properly explore all facets of my voice. I have a wide vocal range spanning almost 5 octaves. I can access my whistle register which is most famously executed by Mariah Carey. 

Damn! That’s amazing! Is that what led you to open your voiceover studio?

Yes! I have always loved using my voice as a form of expression. Over quarantine, I was given the opportunity to dabble in voice over work for an online continuing education company and loved it! I decided to open my own studio and branch off on my own. My dream is to do audible books and cartoon character work. However, I am open to any and all voice over opportunities. 

What’s your favorite aspect of voiceover and singing?

I love using my voice to create art. For my entire life, singing has been therapy for me. The vibrations of my voice soothe me and I feel at peace when I am singing. I have been told by numerous people that my voice is soothing and I want to bring that feeling to others through my VO work in narration, character work, and music.

So, it’s a year later, what are you currently passionate about? 

I am continuing to explore the realms of my voice and find fun and new creative projects to work on. I am planning to attend voice over workshops with Atlanta Voice Over Studio as well as beginning to write original music and publish it. 

You are a model as well, I have seen some pretty amazing photos on IG recently from some local photographers you have modeled for. I think I may have heard you mention modeling in passing when we worked together!

I know, right?! And I have been modeling for almost 20 years now! I have never pursued modeling seriously until recently and I am loving it! It is a form of acting for me, and I have a theater background as well so it’s great. I love the whole process: costumes, make up, hair, portraying a character or theme, etc. Due to my background in acting I have a diverse modeling portfolio as I can portray and access any look the photographer wants/needs. 

I’m so curious, what’s your next or current project?

I have just been contacted to narrate my first novel. The details are still being worked out however I am very excited to explore this kind of voice over work. I also worked with a nationally renowned photographer Douglas Cooper recently and am very excited to share the amazing art we created through modeling and photography. 


Want to know more about Jenn Berlin (she’s fabulous!) or hire her for voiceover needs or to model for a book cover? She can do that!

Jenn Berlin Contact info:







Writing blog


Writing Healthy

Writing Healthy

Featuring Jill Phoenix

Winter Blahs and Practicing Mindfullness

I do not normally feel like I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately called SAD) or even depression in general. I like to refer to myself as a white knuckle optimist, and that even if things are going  to shite, “Well, we’d never get such a spectacular view from home.”

Mindfulness is cultivating an awareness of the present moment. It can be as simple as stopping and focusing on the task at hand, or on the natural world around you, or on your own breathing. Redirecting your focus to the now helps dispel anxiety about the future. It can also help you stay safe. When I may feel anxious, fearful, and desperate for all of this to be over,  I remember to drop into the moment and practice Mindfulness.
-Jill Phoenix, Wellness Coach


Enter 2020: Destroyer of Worlds

This year, like last year, is special. If you’re living in a place where the pandemic has hit hard, this has been a difficult winter, a dark winter. Even though I normally cherish this time of stillness and rest, lately I have felt melancholy, lethargic and very much like I am in a weird version of Ground Hog day. Even my youngest bonus son, M of MALT house, said the other day, “I’m ready for winter and the pandemic to be over.”

Try making a mindfulness exercise out of washing your hands or listening to the sound your breath makes when wearing a mask. 
-Jill Phoenix, Wellness Coach

And as much as my heart aches for the missing year M and L of MALT house, I am grateful for all of the extra time I got with them in 2020 (Side note, I recently learned the term ‘bonus’ instead of step so hence my bonus-sons M and L…) They are in their late teens, a time usually abundant with friends and socializing. Technology has helped but there is nothing quite like hanging out IRL and not online. I can see even this ‘blah’ as well as the looming sadness that is this pandemic and it’s indelible mark infiltrating their resilient and normally cheerful dispositions. And my bonus kids are resilient. They have had to be, but this last year has been tough. A big life changer.

Banish the Blahs with Gratitude and Prioritize Your Health Like It’s Your Job

It is easy to say you don’t have enough time, but if you make yourself a priority on your to do list, then you will find a way to eat healthier and move your body. Prioritizing time to exercise or meditate by putting it on your schedule and protecting that time as if it were your job, is going to make a huge difference to your mental health.
-Jill Phoenix Wellness Coach

Exercise is an obvious one. But did you know something as simple as schedule can keep the blahs at bay?

  • Set a routine. Feeling like one day melts into the next? A daily schedule can help. I started this in January and I write the weekly schedule on the fridge every Sunday, with everyone’s school, work, and work from home schedule and household goals.
  • Set small daily goals and build on them as you accomplish them. Every goal you meet contributes to a feeling of accomplishment and positivity. I do this almost everyday!
  • Exercise and body movement boosts serotonin. A walk in the sunshine, or forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku as it is called in Japan, can have mood boosting affects as well. Lately it has been too cold for walks, so I have been doing yoga in my room in the morning! This week is looking sunnier, and I am planning some hikes with friends!
  • Get enough rest. If you are having difficulty sleeping, it may already be affecting your mood. What can you do? Start by making some changes, and commit to a sleep routine. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, remove distractions like TV or computer from the bedroom. I have definitely adopted a sleep routine, and Peaches and Bella, my cat and dog, have held me to my wake up time, since they love to be fed promptly at 7am.
  • Meditation to change negative thought patterns. Challenge your negative thought patterns! With depression, a lot of the work is mental and it’s important to change how you think. My favorite guru on positive mental thought patterns and positive self-speak is Louisa Hay.
  • Eat healthy! Eat your veggies! Nothing definitive but some studies suggest that foods with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and tuna) and folic acid (such as spinach and avocado) could help ease depression.
  • Do something new. Depression often comes from being “stuck in a rut” and that is definitely what it feels like right now! I am starting some new projects around the house that have nothing to do with writing or hair, to challenge my brain and get it thinking in another way. Already the thought of my new project is helping me banish the blahs!
To practice mindfullness this year I have started each day writing one word down that describes something that I am grateful for. This can be as simple as coffee, sunshine, safe water to drink, heat, even t.v. as it has kept a lot of us company this year. Mine has my dog Luna’s name over, and over!
-Jill Phoenix, Wellness Coach

Until next time writers, keep writing healthy and try these lifestyle tips to keep the end of winter blahs at bay…

 Did you know?

Jill can help you structure your day, achieve your goals, build healthy habits and find exercises that fit into your schedule to help you be a better you in 2021. To find out more visit her website.

Night Shift with an Astrophotographer

The stars depicted in the blog banner was taken by JP Astrophotography It is NGC6960, taken over 8 hours 51 minutes on 10/1-10/3, 540mm, full moon.

Night Shift With An Astrophotographer

Fantasy Romance February

Vampire Day Edition

On a very special Night Shift featuring JP Astrophotography, and just in time for Valentine’s Day (aka Vampire Day) here is a Night Shift on heart shaped, red hued nebulas to get you in the mood…

In honor of Valentine’s Day, JP Astrophotography is offering 10% off all metal prints, with code LOVELIGHT

Pagan Origins of Valentine’s Day 

February 14th is the feast of St. Valentine in the Catholic church, but it was not always so. Parts of the celebrations on the 14th of February can be traced back to the pre-Roman empire festival of Lupercalia, a mid-February health and fertility ritual that was also used as a means of averting evil spirits.

The saint himself, Valentine, was purportedly martyred at the command of emperor Claudius II at the festival of Lupercalia, as a warning against the excesses of Pagan celebrations of love and love making. The irony. 

Luckily, the pagan elements of Lupercalia have stuck around, and the gift of flowers, chocolates, champagne are associated with this transformed holiday, and not being flogged with strips of bloody animal hide. (Romans, smh.)

Sources: Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials, Imbolc: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Brigid’s Day @Llewellynsbooks

Heart and Soul 

A Vast Star-Forming Complex

Not just the song your piano teacher made you practice, they are Nebulae too!

The Heart and Soul Nebula pair are located in the Perseus spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy, in the constellation Cassiopeia.

Named because of their shape and color, the Heart and Soul of the Universe present stunning images of star cluster metamorphosis. 

The two nebulae have been described by NASA as “massive star-making factories”. The bubble rim apperance of the nebula that gives its distinct heart shape is due to the dust, radiation, and wind from the star clusters formation. 

The Heart Nebula

Slightly larger than its Soul counterpart, the Heart Nebula is 650 light years across and is slightly farther from Earth at 7,500 light-years away. This iridescent nebula gets its name from both the bright pink ionized hydrogen gas and dark dust clouds giving it the familiar shape of a human heart.

In the heart of the Heart Nebula are young stars in an open star cluster; the energetic ionized light and winds of the star cluster are eroding the dust and particles within the nebula, creating irregular and mammoth shaped pillars of debris. Inside the cluster are a few bright stars nearly 50 times the mass of our Sun! 

The Soul Nebula

Also formed around an open cluster of stars, the Soul Nebula is located approximately 6,500 light years from Earth and is about 150 light years across. Sometimes called the Embryo Nebula, it is estimated the cluster formed about a million years ago. Similar to the Heart Nebula, light and winds from the young stars in the cluster are creating a dark cavity and giant pillars of dust within the nebula cloud, all pointing to the central star cluster of the Soul Nebula.

Source: NASA https://scie



Night Shift with an Astrophotographer

The stars depicted in the blog banner was taken by JP Astrophotography It is NGC6960, taken over 8 hours 51 minutes on 10/1-10/3, 540mm, full moon.

Night Shift With An Astrophotographer

Featuring Katie Anne of JP Astrophoto

Pleiades Cluster

Known by many names, the Pleiades Cluster, aka the Seven Sisters is an open cluster of hot blue stars. 

An open star cluster is a group of stars that were formed by the same molecular cloud and have, roughly, the same age.

Pleiades’ cluster is estimated to have formed within the last 90-150 million years. With luminous blue stars that are most visible in the night sky during winter in the Northern hemisphere, Pleiades is the closest star cluster to Earth. It is easy to spot in the night sky, so it is no wonder that stories about this cluster have existed on Earth for over 100,000 years and from almost every continent.

“Pleiades is one of my favorite stargazing subjects  It’s a group of stars so deeply connected to human history and storytelling. Ancient cultures from opposite sides of the world all share a common tale of seven young women in the sky (all missing their seventh sister) – and astronomers are starting to put together, based on the movement of the stars, that this might be a story that our human ancestors brought with them as they migrated around the world from Africa. Amazing.”

-Katie Anne from JP Astrophotography.

Galileo is credited as first glimpsing the the Pleiades through a telescope. He published a sketch of the Pleiades showing 36 stars in 1610, though the actual number of stars in the cluster is closer to 800 or more.

Astronomers know this deep sky object as M45, or Messier 45. Pleiades received this designation when the French astronomer included the cluster in his published astronomical catalogue, a study of 110 nebulae and faint star clusters eventually referred to as Messier’s objects.

The nine brightest stars of the Pleiades cluster are named for the Seven Sisters of the same Greek myth: Sterope, Merope, Electra, Maia, Taygeta, Celaeno, and Alcyone, as well their parents Atlas and Pleione.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Pleiades star cluster is visible in the night sky until spring. Or, you can gaze upon the Seven Sisters any night (or day) of the year with this sweet cosmic print – original photo by local astrophotographer Jeff Palmer (of JPAstrophotography).

Keep looking up and stop by the blog next week for a very special  edition of the Night Shift, just in time for Valentine’s (aka Vampire) Day!

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Indies Supporting Indies: Elicia Hyder

Indies Supporting Indies Featuring

Elicia Hyder


I have a lot of fond memories of growing up in a small town, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Elicia was actually my older-sister’s best friend growing up. I have so many memories of sleepovers with my sister and her. We even made our own family sitcom on a camcorder at some point! (Regretably the film is lost, ah well.)

Elicia always had charisma and a story to tell, even when we were kids. Now she is a successful indie author, and just like when I was a kid, I’m looking at her thinking, “Now that’s cool.” 

Her Soul Summoner series is an international best-selling sensation. There are nine books in the series, along with three tie-in companion novellas. Check them out here!

Also to my fellow #indieauthors and #Writers, Elicia has a wonderful website that I have frequently referred to in my journey to self-publishing. Great tools and tips to get you started: Check it out!

The much anticipated Saphera Nyx Series has debuted!

After nine novels in the Soul Summoner Series Elicia is now pivoting to a new series–Saphera Nyx. I’ve read the first chapter of Detached and it is gritty, with great dialogue and some intriguing characters. I can only imagine the anxiety of starting a new series after finishing a super successful one, but Elicia has totally done it! I just ordered my autographed copy on her website, which means I also get the ebook for free! Head on over to her author website if that seems like your cup of tea.

So far this novel feels different than Soul Summoner, Saphera is NOT Sloan Jordan. It has a supernatural, crime procedural feel to it and I am excited to dive in to more this weekend!

Detached is available NOW wherever books are sold!