Couch Convos – Colleen Chesebro

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Part I

LWT: Welcome to Couch Convos! Let’s get started. How did you get the idea to write about the swamp fairy?

CC: Thanks, Lisa. I’m happy to be here with you. I love this big comfy couch. Now hang on, because I am going to tell you how I met a real life fairy!

While on a walk during a warm, foggy morning in November 2014, I had a close encounter of the fairy kind. At the time, we were living in Pensacola, Florida. I still remember the day, as if it has been carved into my memory; something I will never forget.

Road I took on my walk

©Colleen Chesebro used with permission

As I walked along the road, I heard a sound that instantly caught my attention. At first, I considered the possibility that the sound might be an injured bird rustling in the thick underbrush. I peered into the foliage and drew back in surprise. At first glance, I thought I saw a ruby-throated hummingbird with brilliant green feathers. However, that was not so.

Instead, appearing in front of my eyes was a tiny green swamp fairy fluttering on delicate wings that looked like transparent leaves. She had hair the color and consistency of corn silk. Bottle green leaves adorned her small body. The heady fragrance of lavender, patchouli, and sandalwood wafted on the air.

I stood there at the edge of the road transfixed by the vision. I realized then, I had witnessed a miracle. I had been given the gift of fairy vision.

The petite winged-being stared at me with eyes as green as the leaves she was hiding

Spot where I saw the Swamp Fairy

©Colleen Chesebro used with permission

in. I must tell you, this meeting felt something akin to a spiritual encounter. An overwhelming feeling of peace and love surrounded me and held me within its grasp. In an instant, she was gone. The swamp fairy vanished into the fog that swirled around me.

I shook my head and continued my walk. My feet felt lighter that day. I knew something had changed. The swamp fairy had ignited my imagination. I knew what this fairy encounter meant. I had been granted the ability to become a fairy whisperer.

Soon after, I started to write stories about the swamp fairies which I posted to my blog. The stories came in quick succession. Next, the dreams started. I began to channel the stories of the fairy nymphs that had inspired me that day long ago. Each day on my walks, I observed the real swamp as it was crowded out by the building of new homes. The natural wetlands were disappearing at a rapid rate. Slowly, a story began to form in my mind.

By the fall of 2015, we moved to Colorado. The dreams continued and grew even stronger. The stories changed. The fairy nymphs wanted me to tell their stories. And, that is exactly what I have done. The Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy is that story, which I published this year.

LWT: Wow! What a great experience. Was Abby’s character based on someone you know or is she entirely imaginary?

CC: Abby Forester is a combination of myself, my daughters, and my granddaughters. I borrowed a little of something from each of us. I was a foster child as a teenager. Those emotions and memories never leave you. So, I decided to use those experiences for something good. Abby Forester is the outcome.

LWT: Tell us about the area in Florida where you first came across the swamp fairy?

CC: We were about ten miles inland from the Gulf Coast. It was a rural setting with houses nestled in between fields and wooded areas. Much of the area was natural wetland swamps or sloughs. In fact, we had the best neighbors living in the field behind our house. The horses would visit and beg for carrots which I describe in the story. The photo below is depicted in the book. See the strange tree trunk? That was the magical portal between the fairy realm and our human existence that  Abby slipped through daily to visit her friend Savanna.

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©Colleen Chesebro used with permission

LWT: When I write, I have a picture in my head of who I want my characters to look like. Who was the muse for Abby?

CC: I did a lot of research on female YA characters. Most of them had dark hair and wereAbby Forester drop dead gorgeous. I wanted Abby to be the image of the girl next door. She had to be kind and sweet but still, have the usual teenage angst. I imagined her with amber strawberry blond or red hair with fair skin. I found a picture on Pixabay.com that I have used to portray her.

LWT: I have to know, who was the muse for Rafe Cobb? I really wanted to hurt him.

CC: LOL! I couldn’t help it but, I used the 45th President as the physical image in my mind of Rafe Cobb. You know, the bad reddish comb over? Actually, years ago, I worked as a legal secretary in South Florida, and we had a client that was as evil and conniving as my character. Rafe Cobb is based loosely on that man.

You know his name was hard to come up with. Finally, I researched the names of deceased Civil War soldiers to find a name that would sound southern enough. I hope I haven’t disturbed the spirit of the real Rafe Cobb.

LWT: Let’s just hope the real Rafe Cobb was nothing like the one in the book or you’ll be in trouble. For such a young girl, Abby had a lot of spunk. Why was this an important part of her personality?

CC: I gave Abby my birthday (April 18). That meant she had to mirror some of my characteristics and faults. I used astrological research on the sign of Aires, to make her stubborn but also loyal to her family and friends. Abby had to have that sense of responsibility that she carried on her shoulders for her to help the fairies. The loyalty to her mother and her heritage were important to the story and to make Abby come across as a real person.

LWT: No wonder I liked her so much. In the book, it is said that “the wrath of God will bring about the destruction of humankind.” Explain why this is so relevant in the book and in today’s society?

CC: The main theme in the book is that humans and the expanding population were destroying precious wetlands. Rafe Cobb was building a housing area that backed right up to fairy swamp. If he could buy Abby’s land (or take it), he would have destroyed the swamp where the precious Pink Sundew plants grew. If that happened, the fairy nymphs and Abby would have failed in their responsibilities to preserve the plants which contained a “magical” substance found in all antibiotics. The gods (I used the Greek gods) would destroy us all for our folly. Of course, this is a fantasy novel… but you never know. This could be a fact. (wink, wink)

Climate change and how it is devastating our world is the central message the fairy nymphs want us, humans, to understand. It is up to us to save our world. Even though my novel is based on fantasy elements, the addition of current events gives credence to the message.

LWT: How long did it take to complete this masterpiece?

CC: Lisa, I think I’m a slow writer. It took about a year to create, write, edit, and format this book.

LWT: Sometimes slow is better. How important is Aunt Magnolia’s character in Abby’s development?

CC: Aunt Magnolia had to step into Abby’s mother’s shoes. She had no children of her

Aunt Magnolia

©Colleen Chesebro used with permission

own and wasn’t sure what to do with Abby. I created the aunt as a strong, educated woman who was not afraid to take on the responsibility of raising a teenager. Aunt Magnolia has quite a bit of my grandmother in her.

Besides, Aunt Magnolia had to accept Abby for what she was – a fairy whisperer. It was that link to the family that kept their relationship strong. Abby is different, just like many kids are. The fact that her aunt accepts her also gives her courage to meet her responsibilities.

LWT: Who are some of your influences in paranormal writing and why?

CC: I have always been attracted to the strange and unusual. I’ve had a few unique experiences. I don’t feel that my experience meeting the swamp fairy was paranormal. It was more of a spiritual encounter. I know I’m empathetic and more receptive to the vibrations of nature. I feel things many people can’t. Nature is the catalyst that really gets my imagination going.

Part II

LWT: How do you choose your book covers and who does them?

CC: I was lucky to have met my dear friend, Wendy Ann Darling, through the WordPress 2016-07-15 14.48.40blogging community. When I moved to Colorado, I found out she was only a couple hours away from me. Once we met, we became fast friends. Wendy is a graphic artist. I described the swamp fairy to her, and she drew the fairy. I gave her a photo of fairy swamp, and she added the calcite heart stone and the image of the hummingbird (since the fairy was a shapeshifter), to create a fantastic cover.

Wendy designs book covers for Bookxeedo Book covers. Her prices are reasonable, and she is easy to work with. She will be designing my future book covers.

LWT: Do you use social media and does it help with sales?

CC: I use social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. From what I can tell, I have not sold any books from those forums. It is the blog and interviews like this where I notice a spike in sales. It just goes to prove that we writers are also readers and buy each other’s books. Our blogs are a powerful marketing tool.

LWT: Tell us about your writing process. Do you need complete silence or do you listen to music? Do you have a drink or write sober? Etc. Spill the tea.

CC: I write with music playing, usually Pandora. I love Enya, Classical piano, and all new wave sounds. Sometimes I play nature sounds while I’m writing. I think I’m clairaudient like my character, Abby. No, I can’t function if I drink, let alone write! LOL! But I do love tea!

LWT: What challenges have you faced as an indie writer?

CC: As an indie writer, I’ve had to teach myself how to write YA fiction, how to edit, and how to format the book to CreateSpace.

I also had to learn to ask for help. I have an author friend that I asked to help me with the first edit. I learned more from her than I thought possible. She took me under wing and helped me with plot holes and sentence structure. The only way I could thank her was to do the same for another author. It is important that we help each other as beta readers and first draft editors.

LWT: What is your experience like with editing your work?

CC: Initially, I hated the editing process. It was tedious as all get out! I did purchase Grammarly, and that has helped to keep me in line. Eventually, I understood that the editing process is where you do the actual writing. Once I figured that out, I liked the editing because I was making the story better, and could see the results. I still have a lot to learn. I will be using an editor on future books. P. C. Zick from The Manuscript Doctor is my choice.

LWT: Please give other indie writers 3 tips that you learned that help you to be successful?

CC: The first tip is to read every book in your genre you can get your hands on. The next is to keep learning about how to write. The last tip is to set a goal and keep working towards it. Don’t give up!

LWT: That is great advice! Share one unique thing you’ve done to market your book?

CC: I contacted my friend and fellow blogger, Irene, from IreneDesign2011.com to design a calcite fairy pendant like the one Abby wears in the book so readers could feel the magic of the fairies. I sell the books, and Irene sells the necklaces. We both benefit from this relationship. By the way, Irene’s prices are the best!

Would you love to own your own calcite fairy stone pendant like Abby Forester wears in the book? Here’s how to get yours:

small calcite for sale IreneDesign2011

Here are the links to Irene’s Etsy site where you can buy your large calcite for sale IreneDesign2011own SMALL pendant or the LARGE pendant

LWT: Tell the readers the one resource you can’t live without as a writer?

CC: My favorite resource is Thesaurus.com. I love that site! I use synonyms extensively in my writing, especially when I am editing.

LWT: What does success look like for you?

CC: Success for me is accomplishing my goals and reaching for the stars. I feel like a success because if I say I’m going to do something… I do it! It might take me awhile to get there, but I seldom give up. Success is gained with determination and perseverance.

LWT: That is a wonderful outlook. What’s up next for Colleen?

CC: Lisa, those fairy nymphs are whispering in my dreams every night. Currently, I am working on the second book of the series called, The Meadow Fairy. Here is a brief synopsis:

Fourteen-year-old Abigale Forester journeys from Blackberry Ridge, Florida to Bent Grass, Colorado when her Aunt Magnolia accepts a job as a researcher working for an author who specializes in writing about myths and paranormal activity.

 Abby, along with her deceased mother’s most sacred possession, a calcite pendant, continues her legacy as a Fairy Whisperer to the primordial fairy nymphs who inhabit unique places scattered about the world.

 In Colorado, Abby meets two young friends, Crosby and Landon Miller, who along with their family are beekeepers on a small farm under the shadow of Pike’s Peak. Abby is summoned by a primeval nymph who asks her to resolve the secret of why the bee population is disappearing from the prairie meadows. 

 With the help of Nate Bannock, a Native American Ute rancher, Abby learns the astonishing truths behind the decimation of the bee population.

Does Abby have what it takes to save the bees and the Meliae Meadow Nymphs before it is too late?

 Thank you for inviting me to Couch Convos. I loved getting together with you, Lisa. I appreciate your help in spreading the magic of the fairy nymphs! ❤

And I loved having you. Well folks, that’s another Couch Convos in the can. Until next month… In the meantime pick up Colleen’s book, The Heart Stone Chronicles on Amazon by clicking HERE!

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©Colleen Chesebro used with permission

Colleen M. Chesebro is a writer of cross-genre fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Her debut novel, a YA fantasy series called, “The Heart Stone Chronicles – The Swamp Fairy,” was published January 2017. A veteran of the United States Air Force, Colleen is also a retired bookkeeper. She has an Associates Degree in Business Administration, and another Associates Degree in the Arts, which she uses to combine her love of writing with her passion for all things creative.

To connect with her please click the links for her Social Media.

Website: colleenchesebro.com

Facebook: @CMChesebro

Twitter: @colleenchesebro

Melanade – Solange

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Welcome to another edition of Melanade, where we feature women of color who are doing great things! This month we are featuring the artistic genius

Solange Knowles!

solange_coverSinger, songwriter, mother, actress and fashion icon… all of these describe the artist known as Solange Knowles. When your name means “Angel of the sun” you are destined for greatness. This woman has a very eclectic mind that is able to translate the weary ways of the world into a beautiful tapestry of melodies and words. Quickly becoming a voice of her generation, Solo had taken her talent to new heights with her latest project “A Seat at the Table”. She won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance for “Cranes in the Sky” from the same album.

It can’t be easy carving out your own niche in the music industry when your big sis is slaying, but Solange makes it look easy. It reminds me of Janet breaking into her own star, being the little sis of the King of Pop. And just like Janet, Solange’s talent in undeniable and cannot be contained.

For a 30 year old, Solange has accomplished many goals that people twice her age have yet to do. Becoming a mother as a teen, she started her responsible years early, but she has handled her life amazingly.  Not only does she write the amazing songs on her own albums, she is an accomplished writer for other artists as well. According to an interview with NecoleBitchie.com, she has written quite a few songs with Mariah Carey in mind and would love to have her sing her creations.

 

She’s had an undeniable influence on our culture from fashion, to being a proud black woman dawning her natural hair, and artistic movement.  Don’t believe me? Listen to what intellectual Kimberly Foster has to say about her.

If you are not up on Solange, I urge you to get to know her. You’ll thank me later.

 

 

 

 

Week 3 – Writing For Television with Shonda Rhimes

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Hi Lovies,

how to write for television by shonda rhimesThis week’s lessons are getting more involved with the rules of writing! So last week we worked on the study bible and fleshing it out. Now we are working on how to begin writing the script. Shonda explained her process for coming up with the details of her script and how to pitch it to network execs.

I can’t express how excited I was to learn that she was a nervous mess when she did her pitch for Grey’s Anatomy. From the story she shared, she was awful, but they purchased her story anyway because she did the work and made her pitch amazing. It gives me hope, because I know for sure I will be nervous when the time comes to make my pitch. Yes, I said when and not if. I am speaking this into existence baby! Yeeeeees!

I learned a lot about structuring your script. It was a real experience when she shared how she kicked around the idea of Scandal for a YEAR before she actually sat down to write it. She was creating the scenes, getting down to the core of the story and eliminating any bad ideas, before she wrote one word. It was unreal to hear that because I do something similar and I always thought I was taking too long to write my stories. Now, she did say she wrote the pilot in four days! That I am unsure if I can do. I need more time to write everything down and get it out of my head, but given her tools, it may be possible to cut my normal writing time in half.

Do you know what a beat sheet is? Well. I didn’t until Miss Rhimes kicked the knowledge. Now that I know better, I promise to do better. My beat sheet will be prepared to flesh out my ideas and beats of the story, then I will work on my outline making it detailed. Once that is complete I will be ready to write!

Well Lovies, as you can see I have a ton of homework to do. I’ll catch you on the flip side and fill you in on my progress next Sunday.

 

 

 

 

When Queens Speak!

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Good Morning Lovies,

FullSizeRender(1)I am so excited to share with you guys a FREE anthology of poetry called “When Queens Speak” (Royalty Reaches the Masses). I am proud to say four of my poems were included in this collection in honor of National Poetry Month. I hope you will take the time to download your copy. It is only available in e-book form. Many thanks to Rashida V. for putting this together.

Here’s the blurb:

“This E-book is a wonderful Anthology of poetry written by multiple American women. It’s eclectic, thought provoking and sincere. Each poem will enlighten or awaken the mind, the heart or the soul that engages. A dope work of feminine poetic energy surged into one. This is a must read.”

Click Here to download your FREE copy via Smashwords.

Week 2 – Writing for Television with Shonda Rhimes

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how to write for television by shonda rhimesThis week picked up where last week left off. I am still finding the course very stimulating, which is rare for me. I usually lose interest after a bit, but this course is living up to my expectations so far. Shonda makes it easy using reference from her work on Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. It is a lot easier to follow the lessons when you are familiar with the case studies she is referencing.

This week we took the study bible from lesson 4 and extended the learning. We were tasked to writ bios for our characters, but only after she told us how to do so and provided reference for us as examples. Speaking of references, we were also taught that research is key. Shonda gave us her tips and tricks of doing the proper amount of research and to know when you are ready to start writing. My favorite lessons were about developing characters. This is the lessons I have been looking forward to the most and I enjoyed every minute of it. I am grateful that I can go back anytime and listen to the lessons all over again.  Of course I took notes, but sometimes things may be lost in translation. It is always good to have that original video for reference.

Well, that’s all for now! Week three will be exciting as we are learning to pitch our shows and how to start writing the script. Check back next Sunday for an update on how those lessons went.

 

Laters babes.

Couch Convos Featuring Author Ronyea Thompson

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Welcome to April’s edition of Couch Convos! Today we welcome Ronyea Thompson, author of the popular novel “The Circle”. Let’s get started.

Part I

 LWT: Welcome to Couch Convos. Tell us, how did you get the idea to write “The Circle”?

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©Ronyea Thompson used with permission

RT: I have a circle of friends in real life (who are way more conservative than the characters LOL) and since I love to write and play around with characters, I thought it would be cool to draw inspiration from my friends.

LWT: Well, in this book you do have a unique group of friends. Can you take us through the process you went through to develop each character?

RT: Yes…as stated above, the characters were inspired by my circle of friends. And when I say inspired, I mean VERY LOOSELY inspired LOL. All of it is fiction, none of it is real…for example Chantal is inspired by a dear friend of mine. The ONLY similarities they share are that they both live in California and both are dancers. However, my friend in real life is a praise dance and worship leader at her church, and spends days teaching young girls the art of dance via Ballet and Jazz at the Chon Renee Dance Academy in the Bay Area. She has never stripped nor done drugs…but it was fun to play with her character, because there are women who strip, and I wanted to change the stigma a bit.

LWT: When I read the book, I felt as if each one of the main characters struggled with their moral compass. Why was this such an important element in the story line?

RT: Its important to me as a woman to express the struggles we may have in our everyday lives. No one is perfect and we often battle with right and wrong intentions and decisions. I wanted to reference issues like drug use as well as abortions, because those are touchy topics and many people tend to be on one side of the fence when it comes to that. However, no one situation is the same. Just because in real life my “inspired friends” don’t deal with these situations, doesn’t mean others aren’t out there dealing with it, I know a few.

Also, my book is a bit different from a lot of “Urban” novels in the since, I wanted to tell a story with a spiritual undertone. God can use you right where you are. I hope readers walk away with that as well. Being relatable was also very important to me…who can’t deal with feeling stuck in a “job” like Keisha, but really wanting more. Dealing with debt and marital issues are common…also who hasn’t been affected by cancer, be it themselves or a close friend or family member?

 

LWT: When I write, I have a picture in my head of who I want my characters to look like. Who were the muses for the girls?

RT: My real friends…I took some of their physical similarities, and incorporated them into the characters.

 

LWT: What about the men? I know the readers are just salivating to find out who inspired each love interest.

RT: Honestly, the men were just made up, if you can believe that. Again, with the characters of Harvey and LD being not as good, I wanted to show good men too like John, Derrick, and even Big Cody who is a good father.

 

LWT: I have to know, do you identify with one character, more than the others in the book?

RT: Yes, Robin is loosely based on me, with her love of books and being married. However, I’ve never been with a woman.

 

LWT: How did you do your research for the characters, especially CC?

RT: For CC, believe it or not, I asked some of my men friends what happens in strip clubs, and just used my imagination from there.

 

LWT: The book focuses on a group of women who, in my opinion ride hard for each other. They may have a tiff or two, but in the end they know they can depend on each other. Why do you feel it is important, especially for black women to read about these types of relationships?

RT: The ultimate goal for this book is to show a strong, sincere bond of female friends. I believe in today’s world, so much attention is focused on women, especially black women, fighting one another. If you look at reality TV there is a strong presence of black women tearing each other down. We’re not always sleeping with each others man, or jealous, or gossiping about one another. Call me blessed, but I have some awesome friends in my life, that I have had for a very long time. Our friendships are healthy, positive, and supportive, and I feel there are a lot more out there…its just not often told.

 

LWT: Who are some of your favorite writers and why?

RT: It took me a few years (6 to be exact) to write and finalize The Circle. During that time I stopped reading other authors, just so my story would be true to me. I am excited to read some new authors, but I have also enjoyed Terry McMillan, Terri Woods, Mary Monroe, and Rashonda Tate Billingsley to name a few.

Part II

LWT: How do you choose your book covers and who does them?

The CircleRT: I knew I wanted sketch drawings. I searched for awhile, before I found @Nataliamadej on Instagram. I reached out to her to do the drawing, and the rest is history. I absolutely love my cover!

 

LWT: So do I. Speaking of Instagram,do you use social media for marketing and does it help with sales?

RT: Yes, I have Facebook and Instagram and I believe it has helped tremendously to get my name and the cover “out there”.

 

LWT: Tell us about your writing process. Do you need complete silence, or do you listen to music? Do you have a drink or write sober? Etc. Inquiring minds want to know.

RT: LOL…no I don’t drink when writing. Sometimes I write with the TV or radio going, and sometimes quiet. Usually, in the evenings though is when I find my groove.

 

LWT: What challenges have you faced as an indie writer?

RT: Oh… where to start? LOL No, ummmm…I haven’t had any MAJOR challenges, other than trying to get the word out that I’m a new author, and receive reviews (hopefully positive ones).

 

LWT: Have you or do you plan to attend any book fairs, conventions or signings? If so, which ones?

RT: Yes, this is all very new for me. But I definitely plan to attend some fairs and conventions in the fall of 2017. I had my first book signing in Oklahoma City in January 2017 and it was a success.

 

LWT: Please give other indie writers 3 tips you’ve learned, that help you to be successful?

  1. Stay focused on what you’re doing. What took 6 years for me should have taken 1 (if that) but I wasn’t focused.
  2. Be true to yourself. I don’t curse, so I didn’t want profanity in my book. Some people have said they wanted it or missed it when reading, but I had to be true for me. Not everyone will like your work and that okay.
  3. All you have to do is start, and the rest will work itself out. Its ok if you don’t know EVERYTHING you need to know about publishing a book. You will learn as you go. I am still learning.

 

LWT: Share one unique thing you’ve done to market your book?

RT: I have done giveaways and book signings. But that’s not so unique…I’ll take ideas if you have any LOL

 

LWT: Keep reading our Couch Convos interviews. I’m sure you’ll learn some great tricks. Tell the readers the one resource you can’t live without as a writer?

RT: My phone! I NEED it, because I can jot down a quick thought, or take a picture of something that might inspire me. I can also Google something real quick if needed.

 

LWT: Smart phones can be great sources of information. What does success look like for you?

RT: For me, success would be having more people reading and liking (and even taking something away) my writings, and one day being able to write as a full-time job.

 

LWT: What’s up next for you? A sequel perhaps?

RT: I have been toying with the idea of a sequel, but I am currently working on a book about 2 sisters. Its been really fun playing with it too.

We look forward to reading it too. Well, that’s it another Couch Convos in the can. ‘The Circle’ is available on Amazon  and Kindle. Click here to purchase. You’ll be glad you did.

Ronyea Thompson currently lives in Southaven, Mississippi with her husband and two

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©Ronyea Thompson used with permission

children. Originally from Oklahoma City, she attended Langston University. While there she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Education. She has always had a love for reading and storytelling, and shortly after graduation she drew inspiration from her own circle of friends who loosely inspired The Circle, her debut novel.

To connect with her please click the links below to her Social Media sites.

Instagram: @itsme_ronyea or @thecirclenovel

Facebook: http://facebook.com/thecirclenovel