True Colorz is your web source for all things YA in the LGBTQ community! Our blog features new releases, featured authors, interviews, and reviews/recommended reading.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Featured Author & Giveaway: Andi Lea, Amanda Corlies, West Thornhill

Andi LeaThe Ravens Crossing (TRC) is a LGBTQ friendly project. It’s a YA sci-fi fantasy series, set in a fictional world within a real city. TRC is a continuity story, told through approximately 1000 word flash fiction segments, involving multiple authors, characters, and points of view. New stories are posted six days a week, Monday through Saturday. All content at is for entertainment, and there is no cost to read the stories on the TRC site. This week we are featuring Andi Lea, Amanda Corlies, and West Thornhill, creators and authors of The Ravens Crossing.

Andi Lea
Andi Lea spends most of her time making up stuff that isn't real. Growing up near the beach, between Disneyland and Hollywood provided Andi many adventures which inspire her writing. She also likes to do things out of order, doing the mom-thing while she did the college-thing. She graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman's College with a degree in American Culture and Gender Studies. As the proud parent of two LGBTQ kids she is committed to human rights activism. With the support of family and friends she co-founded The Ravens Crossing, a diverse website dedicated to young adults. Her beloved gay paranormal series, Lucas & Riley, is published there weekly. When she isn't preoccupied with crafting fantastical tales, Andi grinds coffee beans. When she isn't writing, she is reading, or indulging her obsession with all things geek.

Connect with Andi Lea on Twitter @Andi_Lea or visit her website:

Q&A with Author Andi Lea:

  1. If you could swap places with one of your fictional characters for 24 hours, who would you choose to be? Why? And what would you do that day?

    I'd swap with Luc. This was not an easy answer, because I'd really like to be Riley just so I could date Lucas (trust me, if you knew the inspiration for Luc you'd feel the same way).

    But, when it comes down to Gaea abilities, I'd want to be able to time travel for 24 hours. Really, who wouldn't? I'd skip through history all day long, trying to see as much as I could in one 24 hour period. I'd have a difficult time not spending a good portion of those hours in Paris in the 1920s. It would be amazing to hang out with Coco Chanel, Jean Cocteau, Tristan Tzara, Man Ray, Kiki de Montparnasse, Alexander Calder, and all the bright young talent of that era.

  2. Please tell us a little about how the The Ravens Crossing began.

    Amanda, West, and I attended college together and have been friends for a while. A few years ago we discovered we were all writing LGBT fiction. Since we live near each other, we started having coffee once a week to talk about writing and publishing.

    In 2011, we started orally telling this crazy story about a totally accepting community. This went on for a few weeks and the tale kept growing. Then we thought it would be fun to make a website and put our tale into words. Before we knew it, we were brainstorming and changing things up. We took some of our original ideas and added some twists.

    We spent several months in 2011 actually plotting the overall story arc. Then we launched the site in February of 2012. It was important to us that LGBT youth have easy access to the site and stories. So, it was decided the stories would post six days a week online for free, then be compiled into e-books for purchase. When people buy the books it helps us keep the site free for others.

  3. Can you tell readers a little bit about how you began writing and what age?

    I actually began 'telling' stories before I could write. I was an only child, very talkative, and my mom needed to find a way to keep me occupied. She taught me to read and write when I was three.

    That opened a door for me and I was creating elaborate tales, even a false autobiography about myself. Before I reached middle school, I had been identified as 'gifted' and put into a program where I was writing and submitting work. I was incredibly fortunate to have adults in my life who recognized that I needed an outlet. My first published story came out when I was eleven years old, I can't even remember what magazine it was in.

    The funny thing is, I was always writing, but I didn't recognize that I was an author until my last year of high school. My theater teacher was the one who finally turned that light bulb on in my head. I had asked her for a college recommendation. She was shocked that I wanted to go into fashion design. It turned out that she had an overflowing file cabinet of everything I'd written during four years. I was sort of gob smacked that I'd been so prolific.

    Looking back, I should have taken my mom more seriously when she kept saying she was going to invest in a paper company. I apparently exhausted her bank account, several times, with my need for more blank paper to write on.

  4. How did the three of you create The 13?

    Jumping off my answer from question #2… when we began the process of creating TRC for YA readers I pulled out a story I'd been writing to entertain Amanda while she was working on her master's thesis. It was a short story about two teenage boys, Lucas & Riley. Their adventures kept Amanda from losing her mind while finishing grad school and offered me an opportunity to explore YA fiction. I brought the stories to one of our weekly coffee dates. We brainstormed a bunch of characters. The 13 became the core group.

    We had a lot of input from young adults as we developed our fictional world. Our content consultants are amazing-- some are in high school and others in college. They don't hold back their opinions and call us out when we don't keep things real (paranormal elements don't count).

    We have spent a lot of time working out the how's and why's of the TRC universe. Much of what we've created has been like putting together a puzzle. As West, Amanda, and I get deeper into the story the puzzle looks like the picture on the box. We actually have a private Wiki with pages and pages of back story information. It's our story arc encyclopedia. We'd be lost without it. There are over 100 characters in the TRC universe.

  5. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels and TRC?

    As the proud parent of two LGBT kids it's important to me that other kids find acceptance. I want young readers to know it's okay to be whoever you are-- no matter your size, race, or sexual orientation. There are people out there who care and will love you unconditionally. I hope that readers of TRC find a bit of escape from the difficulties of real life. Every word we publish is one word closer to changing ignorance and intolerance.

    We have an open door policy at TRC and readers are encouraged to contact us. We've had some amazing interaction with our audience. We make it a priority to respond personally to each letter or question we receive.

Amanda Corlies
Amanda Corlies escaped her life as a professional zookeeper to search for wilder adventures. Though she loves to travel, she enjoys creating her own worlds as a writer of LGBT, young adult, science fiction and fantasy. By day, she runs an animal care and pet sitting service where she has been dubbed the official spoiler of dogs. By night, she dreams up tales of extraordinary circumstances. A visual artist as well, Amanda is happiest painting pictures. She paints with colors almost as often as she paints with words. The one thing that ties all of her creations together is her love of animals. Environmental themes typically run throughout her work. You can take the girl out of the zoo, but some gates aren't meant to be left open.

Amanda is proud to be an author for The Ravens Crossing (TRC), a serialized, online, young adult adventure that provides free and affordable stories about diverse characters to people of all ages. Free stories post at TRC six days a week.

Connect with Amanda Corlies on Twitter @Amanda_Corlies or visit her website:

Q&A with Author Amanda Corlies:

  1. If you could swap places with one of your fictional characters for 24 hours, who would you choose to be? Why? And what would you do that day?

    Wow! That’s a hard choice. I really love them all, so a chance to swap places with any of them would be fantastic. But, since I have to go with just one, I’m going to say Holly. I’ve been a science fiction and fantasy fan for ages. So, I’ll admit it. A chance to know what it feels like to have Holly’s kind of Gaea power is too irresistible. What would I do with my one day? The idea of stopping time with Lucas and Quinn is heady, but I really want Luc to take me through the Blind to Annodox Island. And, Holly is just figuring out she can mimic the Gaea powers of anyone she connects with. So, I could learn Luc’s mojo and borrow it. Awesome!

    But, I’ll tell you, Alex almost won this answer. Being able to pick up any object and travel through time and space to see its maker - pretty cool. Plus, I’d have a Harley and a girlfriend who can heal people. Oh, sorry. Yes. Holly. I’ll stick with Holly.

  2. I looked on TRC and saw when and how you began writing. I must admit I thought it was hilarious. Could you share how you started your writing career?

    Sure. It’s been a long and winding path, as you know, starting with making up stories with my Dad. He and I are both book-a-holics who still love to swap tall tales. But, writing professionally actually began while I was still working as a zookeeper. Often, my curators would ask me to write the research papers, because I was one of the few people who didn’t hate taking all the facts and turning them into something organized and interesting to read. Of course, my name never appeared on the document beyond being one of the number crunchers, which I’ll admit became difficult to live with.

    Eventually, I grew tired of the restrictions placed on me for not having enough of a college degree. The decision to leave my chosen career and return to college for my masters wasn’t easy, but it’s one of the best decisions of my life. The doors opened, and I realized it was like a big do-over. I’d done the wild animal thing with a whole lot of the adventuring of youth. But, I was growing tired of watching animals suffer in captivity. College was like getting to ask, what would I do if I could start over and do anything? That’s when the creative part of my brain did a happy dance and sent me to creative writing and studio art classes. I started out following the usual track, you know, publishing creative non-fiction, short stories, and poetry in literary mags. But, I really wanted to write science fiction, and I’ve always been a fan of genre bending and doing something outside the box with my art.

    Along the way, I met Andi and West, others like me, and we started getting together for weekly coffee to talk about books, publishing, and writing. Somewhere amid the laughter and crazysauce brainstorming The Ravens Crossing (TRC) was born. This project has truly been the best adventure of my life to date. I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads us.

  3. Can you tell readers a little bit about how The Ravens Crossing works?

    TRC is in its third season, now. The stories for each season post for free on our website six days a week, Monday through Saturday. Each character’s portion of the story for a season posts on the same week days. There are easy links to the current season by the week at the top and sidebar of each page, so readers can easily catch up on a whole group of stories when it’s most convenient for them. Sunday is our day for weekly updates and a place to let the readers know what cool stuff is happening outside of the stories.

    If you are new to this whole thing, beginning at the beginning is easy. Readers can purchase the anthologies of seasons one and two (The Ravens Crossing, Book One and Two) at Smashwords and Amazon. We work very hard to keep the cost of the anthologies affordable for everyone. The books contain the serialized stories as they appeared for free on the website, plus some fun extras. Though The Ravens Crossing is written by three authors, all of the stories work together in the same world, and often the characters cross over and appear in all of the stories, so the best way to know everything about a character is to read it all.

  4. It’s the one year anniversary of TRC. Do the three of you have anything special planned?

    We offered a contest and gave away a $50 gift certificate to Amazon and free books on the sight to celebrate our fantastic readers. They have been a loyal and wonderful group and we are so grateful to all of them for supporting us. Periodically, we host other giveaways and fun things throughout. Sunday posts are the way to find out what might be coming. To personally celebrate this anniversary, Andi, West, and I enjoyed our usual coffee fun with lots of laughter. While we were at it, we started working on planning stories for a whole new generation of Wildwood High School kids, since our 13 will be graduating this season. We are also planning the 13’s adult spin-off stories, and if you keep this on the down low, there are plans for the 13 to return to Wildwood in future seasons, too. So, I guess the short answer would be, we celebrated our one year anniversary by planning to stick with TRC for a whole lot longer.

  5. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels and The Ravens Crossing?

    I got involved with this project because it’s important to me to live in a community where diversity of every kind is accepted, where nobody has to feel outcast for being themselves. I’m a strong believer in making that happen, even if I have to go about changing minds one person at a time. So, I tell my stories hoping to show that no matter our differences, from our ethnic backgrounds, to our sexual preferences, to our Gaea powers or lack thereof, at the heart we are all the same. We just want to be loved and accepted for who we are.

West Thornhill
West Thornhill returned to college in 2003, and three years later she graduated. She earned a degree in Classics with a minor in British and American Literature from Randolph-Macon Woman's College. Five years after graduating, she finished, submitted, and had published her first gay paranormal romance novel.

An avid reader, West discovered an admiration for Ovid and Hesiod, she also thinks Latin and Greek are awesomely fun. Yes, she is a geek, but not limited to the Classics, she loves manga and anime. Some of her favorites include Bleach, Vampire Knight, and Junjo Romantica. Eventually, she wants to learn to read and speak Japanese so she can read/watch all of these in their original forms. West is a single mom. Her son, Spawn, is the light of her life. Diagnosed with Autism at the age of six, he's on the higher end of the spectrum, and becoming quite the smart-mouthed teenager. Raising a child with special needs has taught West a lot about how to see people and the world in general.

Connect with West Thornhill on Twitter @WestThornhill or visit her website:

Q&A with Author West Thornhill:

  1. If you could swap places with one of your fictional characters for 24 hours, who would you choose to be? Why? And what would you do that day?

    I wouldn’t mind being Sera. Right now, she’s a minor character in my stories, but she’ll be a part of my main couple next season. Why? Well, Sera is transgender, MTF, and for all that she’s had issues – bullying, self-doubt, etc. – she is able to stay true to herself. She is confident, smart, sassy, and above all else, beautiful. Hmmm…what would I do? Probably take in a One Direction concert. Sera is a big fan.

  2. What has starting the The Ravens Crossing meant to you?

    It has given me the ability to broaden my mind. Open myself up to more possibilities. I can explore what it means to be a teenager again, and all the angst that goes with it. I can tell a story about being okay with yourself even when the rest of your world is going crazy. I am able to show the strength of love and friendship. It has meant being able to create a world and characters that I love and hope readers do too.

  3. Can you tell readers a little bit about what inspires you as a writer?

    My main inspiration is Spawn, my teenaged, smart-mouthed son. Things in his world are changing, but he still has the ability to see past gender, race, and disability. I am inspired by images of people in love. It doesn’t matter if the couple is same-sex or hetero. I’m also inspired by songs and other authors. I love to read about strong, flawed characters and seeing how they grow over the course of their story.

  4. Can you tell us a little bit about the extras TRC offers readers?

    The extras are the fun things we do during school holidays, like Winter break or Summer vacation. Last Summer, we all did interviews with our characters. It was a lot of fun. We’ve also done posts about Places of Interest in Wildwood like Hazel’s or the Grove. During Winter break, we had snippets out of our characters lives. I wrote a post about Suya called Fallen. It was important for our readers to understand how Suya became addicted to the Gaea drug Bleu.

    From time to time, we have contests and we’ve done polls. We asked readers for help choosing the prom theme in Season One. It was interesting to see which of the three choices our readers wanted. I think the three of us (Andi, Amanda, and I) had more fun coming up with the suggestions than anything.

    We’ve also done a couple of blog hops and we always show our support for LGBT events. For example, we went purple for Spirit Day. Our normally green banner turned purple that day.

    The best way to find out anything special that might be coming up on TRC is to check out the Sunday posts. That’s when we post what’s coming up for our thirteen, show our support of other authors and LGBT groups, like True Colorz. We value our fellow authors just as much we love our readers. Plus, you can always email us with any questions or concerns.

  5. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels and The Ravens Crossing?

    That it’s okay to be yourself, labels don’t matter, love is love, and everyone deserves a happy ending. During our winter break, I wrote a short conversation between Quinn and his brother, Keenan, where Keenan is questioning who he is and his sexual orientation. Quinn, the wonderful big brother that he is, pretty much sums it up – “Why do you need to label yourself? So what if you like boys, girls, or both. The only thing that’s important is what’s in your head and heart. As long as you’re happy with yourself, that all that matters.” Kind of simple and not easy to do, but I have hope that eventually it won’t matter if you’re gay or straight.

Now Available from The Ravens Crossing:

The Ravens Crossing, Book OneThe Ravens Crossing, Book One Secrets are hard to keep, especially when you’re in high school, and the students at Wildwood High have been hiding more than most. But, when thirteen friends discover their families are keeping more secrets than the entire student body combined, they find themselves drawn together in a dangerous search for the truth. Wildwood is not the average trendy neighborhood, and The Ravens Crossing, the corner at its heart, is not an average crossing.

When the Thirteen begin to uncover strange events in the Grove, passing the next test suddenly involves more than reading from a textbook. While they come into their full Balance of Power as Earth, Air, Fire, Water, or Time Gaeas, their lives suddenly grow far more complicated. Life is no longer just about who’s crushing on whom and who’s afraid to commit. The Thirteen must learn to use their natural talents to navigate the treacherous secrets they have only just begun to uncover. Join Lucas, Riley, Morgan, Holly, Kaz, Quinn, Darci, Elliot, Sharon, Alex, Raiden, Hemp, and Tetsuya as they discover the importance of trust and what it truly means to have power.

The Ravens Crossing is a serialized, young adult, science fiction/fantasy adventure. This volume contains Season One stories in the order they were originally published at the companion website

The Ravens Crossing, Book TwoThe Ravens Crossing, Book Two Welcome back to Wildwood, where keeping secrets has become a way of life. Because being a Gaea is nothing if not complicated. But, when thirteen high school seniors come into their full powers as Earth, Air, Water, Fire, and Time Gaeas, they begin to uncover a depth of deception surrounding them that may tear some of them apart. The secrets revealed will shake them to their very foundations, and just when these friends need to trust each other the most, they will end up keeping secrets from each other.

With Gaea abilities that range from astral projection to firestarting to time travel and a whole lot in between, the Thirteen must learn to protect themselves. They should be focused on college acceptance letters, but planning for their future involves Armors teaching them martial arts and swordplay. Instead of learning from a history text, they are learning the intricacies of time travel from a legendary eccentric named Amyntas. With each discovery, from Gaea genetics to ancient prophecies, to what it means to become bonded as a Tempus and Solus, the stakes get higher. Because Frederick Demetrius, Donna Holden, and a mysterious man named Jiro seem fixated on Wildwood. They want something from the Thirteen, and they don’t mind taking out anyone who stands in their way.

The Ravens Crossing is a serialized, young adult, science fiction/fantasy adventure. This volume contains Season Two stories in the order they were originally published at the companion website

The Ravens Crossing Giveaway!

Andi, Amanda, and West have generously donated a free copy of The Ravens Crossing, Book One and The Ravens Crossing, Book Two for two lucky winners. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address.


  1. Interesting interviews and info about the books :)


  2. Thanks for the interviews. Very interesting!


  3. Great interviews! Please count me in. Thanks!


  4. Thanks for stopping by Penumbra, Karl, and gigi! Good luck!

  5. So glad this series has been collected! Thank you!

  6. Enjoyed the interviews! Please count me in. :3


  7. Ooh, this sounds intriguing. I'm always down for some good fantasy/sci-fi! torgojones at outlook dot com

  8. Thanks for stopping by toroj and good luck!

  9. Good luck everyone. I already have them. You will enjoy reading them!


  10. Congrats Penumbra and Torgoj. TRC will be in touch with you soon on your prizes. Thanks everyone for entering:)


  11. Thanks to everyone for entering and leaving a comment. Congrats to Penumbra and toroj. I've emailed you both and have your books ready!

    And thank you to True Colorz for featuring us.:)