HEARTSICK Cover Reveal And An Author’s Willingness to Change

My agency sister, Caitlin is blogging today about your willingness to change your MS as a writer and to reveal the gorgeous cover for her upcoming novel HEARTSICK.

Willing to Change

I have a bit of a dark, morbid mind sometimes, which can be evidenced through a lot of my flash fiction. However, I also love rom coms and light humor and kissing scenes. And I think this is all perfectly fine when it comes to my different layers, but it’s trickier when you’re talking about a specific piece of writing.

And this is why I will be forever grateful to my agent who helped me parse out a marketable novel from a novel that lacked direction when it came to overall tone. HEARTSICK (which I’m revealing the cover of today!), was originally called PATIENT ZERO and, in addition to a love story between a college student and a cop, and a speculative disease with unknown origins, the story also had a vicious serial killer.

When Andrea Somberg (my now agent) got back to me after reading PATIENT ZERO she said she loved so many things about the book, but she had reservations because “the turn of events felt just too violent, too extreme for the overall feel of the manuscript.” She asked if I’d be willing to tone it down and I said yes. We chatted on the phone and I got to brainstorming ways that I could still keep many of the mystery aspects and even the base root of the murderer’s motivation, while scaling back on grit and gore and unbelievably dark motives.

Every scene changed at least a little bit, and about a third of the scenes were either drastically revised or swapped out and replaced with brand new scenes. And, you know what? I actually hit on some of the darkness in humanity better than I did before because the actions are more subtle. Additionally, it allows for other important subplots to have some room to breathe.

So, now, I’m even happier with the book! Obviously, every writer needs to make these types of decisions themselves. I wouldn’t hold it against any writer if they decided no, I want my book just as it is even if an agent would want a different version. That’s fine! But I would encourage writers to be open minded. Sometimes big changes can actually help you get closer to your original vision.

Thank you Caitlin for sharing such great advice. Now let’s see that gorgeous book cover!




Quinn is looking forward to her senior year. She has big plans to hang out with her best friend Mandy, flirt with cute boy-genius Rashid, party at her favorite dive bar, and figure out what she’s going to do after graduation with her not-so-useful art major degree.  But that is before she meets Luke, a hot townie who moves back home to help take care of his dying sister. And it is before the weird epidemic that starts sweeping campus in which people’s eyes mysteriously turn purple.  Is it an odd side effect from a new party drug? Is it a rogue bacteria that was developed in a campus lab? Whatever it is, tensions are heating up as the town starts blaming the university, and the student religious group is convinced that it’s the mark of the devil. Quinn and Luke are caught in the middle, especially when Quinn learns that Luke isn’t just a happy-go-lucky, redneck boy-next-door—he is a detective—a fact that triggers Quinn’s phobia of guns and memories of her deceased uncle.  In spite of herself and her desire to remain unattached and independent, Quinn finds herself falling for him.  But when town and gown relations heat up even further, and Quinn’s friend Danny mysteriously falls to his death, Quinn vows to discover the truth behind the epidemic.  As she searches for the people responsible, she realizes that sometimes to gain your independence, you have to be willing to give a little bit of it up.


 “Did you go to college?”

His jaw is tight. “Yes.”

“Do you think I could guess your major?” I ask.

“Probably not,” he says.

I don’t like that I don’t even get a hint at what he did before or what he studied. I shrug, start on my second hotdog and then lean back, really aiming for a glint in my eye, if that’s possible to control. I’ll make this a game. “Well, do you think you can guess mine?”

He smiles. “Do I get something if I guess right?”

I hop up onto a stool and let the tip of my toe brush against his knee. When I make contact, he starts, before leaning in. “What do you want?”

“I want a lot of things…” He stares at me. “But for now, I’d settle for a second date.”

“Okay, if you can guess my major, on the first try—” I emphasize that bit with a pointed finger, “—then I’ll reluctantly agree to go out with you again.”

“I don’t like the reluctant part, but I’ll take what I can get. Now, let’s see…” He rubs his chin as though he’s an old-timey detective. He’s ready to pace back and forth across the room with a pipe and a deerstalker hat. “You like photography.”

Shit, he does know that. I start to hum the Jeopardy! theme song. Maybe if time is running out he’ll be more likely to guess quickly and get it wrong? Do I want him to get it wrong?

“Okay, I got it.” He rubs his hands together. “You’re an art major.” His cheeks swell with the weight of his smile.

“You got that just because I take pictures?” I rub my forehead.

“I know more than that.”

“Someone told you,” I say. “If this bet was rigged, it doesn’t count.”

He jerks back and shakes his head, frowning. “No, I wouldn’t do that,” he says. “I noticed you had some pottery on your coffee table, with initials on it, a Q. B.?”

I nod. He’s talking about the bowl I made last year. Initials usually go on the bottom, but I painted them big and proud in the middle. And the bowl is empty. Mandy and I haven’t decided what to put in it. We narrowed it down to fake fruit (lame), M&M’S (which we would devour) or Micro Machines. Clearly, we’re leaning toward Micro Machines.

Luke takes my hand. I think he’s trying to convey his earnestness, his respectability and seriousness of not tricking me into a bet. The pads of my fingers brush against his rough palms and I suppress a sigh. His thumb runs along my pointer finger, sliding to the fingernail. “You also have paint under your nails.” His victorious, smug smile is in full bloom.

I pull my hand away, embarrassed. “Yeah, it’s hard to get all the paint off.”

“I’m sure,” he says.


Caitlin Sinead SocialAuthor Bio

Caitlin Sinead is represented by Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger, Inc. and her debut novel, Heartsick, will be published by Carina Press in 2015. Her writing has earned accolades from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery MagazineGlimmer Train, and Writers & Artists, and her stories have appeared in multiple publications, including The AlarmistThe Binnacle, CrunchableJersey Devil Pressand Northern Virginia Magazine. She earned a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University.


The lovely Sasha Abernathy is back, showing off the cover for her novel, CHASING THE SUN. Don’t you just love it?

Release Date: October 21st, 2014; will be available via Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.

Hunted by Chaos. Protected by Death. Guided by Fire. Terran is now the key to a world she never knew existed.


For Terran, life was simple – until she meets the new art gallery owner, Aiden. Through him, she finds herself surrounded by terrifying nightmares and gods. When an ancient evil threatens to escape and unleash all Hell, Terran must dive into a world she never knew existed to save them all…even if that means giving up her life to do it.


“Aren’t these Aiden’s pieces?” Micah had caught up to me and seemed as perplexed as I did.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Who would have thought he’d donate his work?” Micah commented and then lost interest, walking away as she saw someone she recognized.

I stayed, staring in shock.

“Don’t look so surprised. Your friend Jon’s charity is truly for a good cause.”

I shouldn’t have lingered. By now I should have known to avoid anything having to do with Aiden. Many of the contributing artists were here to help promote their pieces so I should have known. But somehow he always caught me off guard.

“Actually, I’m surprised you have a heart at all.” My disdain oozed off my words as I gave him the biggest scowl I could muster.

However ugly I thought his attitude, I couldn’t say the same about his appearance. Aiden cleaned up nicely in his all-black tuxedo. His hair had been gelled down, but you could still see the natural wave of it. His tux looked as if it had been custom-made, which made me curious. How many black-tie events did he go to in order to have purchased a custom tux?

But, who cared? With my shoulders back, chest raised, and chin up I turned my head, grabbed my dress on the sides and walked away. Screw him.

I got about three steps away before I heard him.

“You look beautiful,” he said to my back. It stopped me, my heart thumping loud in my chest. An immeasurable amount of time had passed since someone besides my friends had told me I was beautiful. I could feel him staring at me, but I didn’t move. I only stood there, frozen.

“Terran,” His voice was soft with yearning. It was then that I gained enough courage to walk away. I had already made up my mind about him. He was too complicated and I was tired of the ups and downs of his mood. This man would break my spirit, at least what little of it I fought to keep.

About the Author:

Born in Germany to a Puerto Rican mother and All-American Military father, who saw fit to give her a Russian name, Sasha Abernathy has always loved storytelling and travelling. Raised in Oklahoma, but eventually moving everywhere from Alaska to Spain, Sasha has finally settled in the beautiful state of Colorado. With her loving husband, two wild sons, and neurotic labradoodle, Sasha is surrounded by way too much testosterone and escapes through her mysteriously whimsical and romantic novels.

Social Media: 
Website: Sasha Abernathy
Facebook: SashaAbernathyBooks
Twitter: @EarthRelic

Meet Caitlin Sinead

I’m excited to be interviewing my agency sister, Caitlin Sinead, about her writing process.


Let’s just dive right in, shall we? What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve wanted to write a book since I was a kid. When I got married, I realized my life was tumbling forward and I still hadn’t written a book. I’d been relying too much on “someday.” I decided to get to work! I launched into a year and a half of fits and starts and a fair amount of first chapters.

Then, finally, I got the idea for Denali. It just grabbed me and I needed to write the story.

You just described my writing life with your answer! Are you a pantser or a plotter and how did you approach writing your story?
I wrote my first book as a panster and I’ll never go back to that. I had no idea what I was doing. And if it hadn’t been for my love of the premise and characters I don’t know if I could have withstood the multiple (multiple!) plot overhauls. Finally, I realized I needed help. So I looked into outlining books and found Story Engineering to be very helpful. Still, I had to take those principles and apply them over a work I already wrote, which was kind of like fitting a circle into a square peg. Since then, I’ve crafted the square peg first, which makes things a lot easier and more fun!

I love to outline. Some people hate it. I’m glad you found what works best for you. What books have most influenced your life?
One of my favorite books is Winesburg, Ohio. I’ve read “Adventure” dozens of times. The book deals heavily with themes of loneliness, but it actually reminds me of why fiction is so powerful. It serves as a connection.

That’s a very important and powerful reason to read. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I had the fortune of knowing Reetika Vazirani when she taught creative writing at William and Mary. She was always very encouraging of my writing and thought I should pursue an MFA. I did eventually get my masters from Johns Hopkins where I got to learn from a host of other amazing writers, but I’m not sure if I would have thought it was a possibility without Reetika’s early encouragement.

That’s wonderful to have had someone on the College/University level that encouraged your growth. What book are you reading now?
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos. I got to hear her talk at a writers’ conference earlier this year and she was just so delightfully funny! Additionally, she said she wrote her books sentence by sentence. She’d write a sentence, get it exactly perfect, and then move on to the next sentence. I had to see what the end result of that process looked like.

That’s quite a process. I’m going to have to check that book out now. What are your current projects?
I’m wrapping up (well, on my end anyway…who knows what edits will come!) a book that’s set to come out next summer. It’s about the daughter of a vice presidential candidate who has to deal with rumors that her deceased father isn’t biologically related to her. It’s my first book with no speculative elements whatsoever. My WIP is getting back into the speculative realm and is about characters with the ability to hypnotize people. If you’re an X-Files fan, think this episode.

You had me at X-files! I can’t wait to read it. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My writers group has been phenomenal. They have been so supportive and have kept me on track.

Having a group of writers at arms length is definitely convenient. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
For Heartsick, I think no. It’s the best book I could have written. I am still tweaking my other projects.

Great answer. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I wrote a story in second grade about a child who was scooped up by the stars and saw the city below. My mom and teacher thought it was great. I decided then that I wanted to be a writer and that desire stuck.

Wow. Add that to your WIP list because I think that would make an awesome novel. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Honestly, the hardest part probably didn’t have much to do with writing at all, but rather the belief that it was okay to be audacious enough to write a book. I have a wonderful support system and have been surprised (to the point of happy tears) at how encouraging many of my family and friends have been. But I also had some friends who were downright dubious that I could write a book. What did I really have to offer? Did I really think I was that good of a writer? Did I actually believe I could write a whole book!? Not everyone in your life is going to be as supportive as you want them to be. They’ll think you’re crazy for trying to write a book. The truth: you are crazy! But that’s what makes you interesting ;-). Ignore them and do what you want to do.

That’s right, ignore them! Great advice. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t get caught up in the waiting game. My cat died the same week I heard back from an agent I was desperately waiting on, and it still makes me sad to think that I spent the last few days with my cat “can’t waiting” for a later point. Not realizing, of course, that he wouldn’t be around at said later point. As much as I loved him, I get that he was a cat, not a person. What if my husband or mom or someone else close to me had died? While I obviously want everyone in my life to live long, healthy lives, my time with them is still finite. Spending a few days desperately waiting for an email instead of, you know, enjoying what I have, is a few days too many.

That’s so true. Waiting sucks, but don’t forget to live in the meantime. Which character was your favorite to write and why?
This feels like picking a favorite kid, but if I have to…it’s got to be Luke in Heartsick. I told my husband not to worry about me fantasizing about Ray, the love interest in Denali in Hiding, because he’s loosely based on my husband. This is not a lie! But, it wouldn’t be obvious to most people that that’s the case. So, with my second book, I more directly based the love story on how my husband and I met and our dynamic when we first started dating. (We didn’t have purple eyes or a murder to solve…heh…but the dynamic was similar).

I also based an aspect of Luke on a newer characteristic I’ve noticed in my husband. He has a tough job where he often has to confront the darker aspects of humanity. When he makes work calls around me, it’s strange to hear his serious, world-weary voice. But, when he gets off the phone, he’s back to being goofy and romantic with me. In fact, it seems the worse the case, the goofier he gets afterward. It’s like he needs that goofy time to ameliorate the harder aspects of his job. I applied that quality to Luke, who’s a SERIOUS COP with off-the-job goofy tendencies. Even though plenty of aspects of Luke aren’t derived from my husband, it was fun giving my husband a bit of an homage. And he gets a kick out of telling people that a Harlequin hero is based on him.

I’m not sure if I could answer that last question. It’s hard. LOL Since we’re agency sisters, I already know the answer to my next question, but I’ll ask anyway. Who is your agent?
The wonderful Andrea Somberg! <<she’s a=”” rockstar!=””>>

Andrea was always one of my top choices to query, but my conversation with you convinced me to do it sooner rather than later. So thanks. How did you meet your agent?
Good, old-fashioned query. Here’s the story.

Such a great agent story! Do you have a favorite line one of your characters says in your book?
A few CPs suggested I cut this from Denali in Hiding. I know all about darlings and can usually be pretty brutal with myself, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of this darling! I’m including the line before it for context:

“I thought it was only a matter of time before Rosalyn noticed Ray’s defined stomach, which I can see when he lifts his shirt up after a run to wipe his face; or how his voice can get low, like a strong hum, when he explains something; or how, despite his aura of precision, he has a mischievous grin, which comes out every time I suggest we run off the trail. We stomp down the mud and the muck and the leaves, jumping over rocks and slapping our sneakers through streams.

Thank you so much for sharing. What’s all your social media links to share with readers?
Twitter: @CaitlinSineadJ
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Caitlin-Sinead/391938884273747
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/CaitlinSinead
Website: http://www.caitlinsinead.com/index.html
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/CaitlinSineadJ

Free Agent Book Release & Giveaway

Just in time for Pitch Wars, Jason Nelson’s FREE AGENT releases. He found his agent through the contest, who sold the the book to Penguin ACE in a three book deal (Grimm Agency series) a few months later. To complete the circle, Jason is now a Pitch Wars mentor.  Read about FREE AGENT below, check out the first chapter, and enter to win a copy!


When it comes to crafting happily-ever-afters, the Agency is the best in the land of Kingdom. The Fairy Godfather Grimm can solve any problem—from eliminating imps to finding prince charming—as long as you can pay the price…


Working for Grimm isn’t Marissa Locks’s dream job. But when your parents trade you to a Fairy Godfather for a miracle, you don’t have many career options. To pay off her parents’ debt and earn her freedom, Marissa must do whatever Grimm asks, no matter what fairy-tale fiasco she’s called on to deal with.

Setting up a second-rate princess with a first-class prince is just another day at the office. But when the matchmaking goes wrong, Marissa and Grimm find themselves in a bigger magical muddle than ever before. Not only has the prince gone missing, but the Fae are gearing up to attack Kingdom, and a new Fairy Godmother is sniffing around Grimm’s turf, threatening Marissa with the one thing she can’t resist: her heart’s wishes.

Now Marissa will have to take on Fairies, Fae, dragons, and princesses to save the realm—or give up any hope of ever getting her happy ending…

Sample Chapter:


The New Year’s Eve countdown told me I had five minutes until the ball drop. That gave me six minutes until somebody got killed. I spotted the shoplifter in line at the theater and worked my way across the street, through the teeming crowd. She had no idea what she was wearing, which made her both stupid and dangerous. Stupid was dangerous enough by itself.

“Marissa, I might remind you of the time,” said a man’s voice. It came right out of the store window beside me, the dry voice with its not-quite-English accent. He watched me with critical eyes.

“I got it, Grimm.” I walked along the theater line, head down.

His image followed me, reflecting from the windows and even the brass banister knobs that held the velvet rope. “I’ll believe that when you actually do.”

Call it women’s intuition, or maybe the slippers she wore tipped her off, but the shoplifter turned and looked right at me. Our eyes met, and she knew why I was there, if not who I was. As the crowd surged forward, she ducked into the theater, disappearing into the throng.

“God Damsel-it.” I spat out the faint taste of soap. “Doesn’t count, not a real curse.”

“Watch your language, young lady. Only proper women live happily ever after. Now, go get those slippers back.” Grimm appeared in the ticket window, beckoning me on.

If I had enough Glitter to buy a happily ever after, I wouldn’t have spent all day chasing a thief. There were easier ways to make a living, and definitely safer ways.

I breathed in the warm lobby air, laced with enough butter, fat, and salt to make me gain a couple of pounds just from walking through.

The ticket man watched me as I approached, jiggling my leg. “I’ve got to go. Could you save my spot in line?”

He rolled his eyes, the apex of teenage angst, and motioned me past. I’d been to my fair share of balls and knew where I’d go if I had a pair of shoes that were killing my feet. I headed straight to the bathroom. Nobody in the prep area, but I listened. There, soft sobbing, and the click of high heels on ceramic.

“The slippers won’t come off like that.” I hoped I wasn’t talking to a Grandma, but the sobbing cut off.

Grimm coalesced into the mirrored wall, his white hair framing the bald spot on his head. He looked at me over horn-rimmed glasses that masked eyebrows like a yeti’s. “Marissa, two minutes.”

If I’d had something handy, I’d have thrown it at the mirror. In the name of not having a magical disaster, I decided to commit the cardinal sin of the ladies room. I tried the stall door. As my hand touched it, the door burst open, hitting me in the face. Pain made the world flash white. I put my hand to my nose and felt the blood as she dashed out of the restroom. Grimm told me the shoes were enchanted, but the fact that she could run in three-inch heels meant serious magic. Now I knew I had the right girl. In the lobby, the fire alarms wailed as I came out of the bathroom, and I caught a glimpse of her running out. I charged after her, through the fire exit and into the alley.

I wasn’t afraid of your average dark alley. I had standard Agency-issue spells in my coat and a nine millimeter in my purse for dealing with the less dangerous pests, but even I knew you have to be careful with an upset woman.

She pulled at her feet and limped down the alley. “I’m not giving them back.”

No way was she going to outrun me. Tennis shoes might not be the height of fashion, but I wore them for their practicality. I slipped a bag out of my pocket. “This will let me take them off. You can’t remove them because you stole them.”

She stumbled, then slumped against the wall, her feet out in front of her. Passing taillights made the glass slippers glisten, moving and shifting, like something alive. That made sense, since Grimm said they were. The glass filled with red, like she’d cut her toe. The bloodstain spread up the sides of the glass and she began to gurgle and cry.

I pulled out my pocket compact. “Grimm, I might have a problem.”

“Tell me you have them.”

“Just about.”

“Get out of there, Marissa. She’s not going to turn into a pumpkin.” His voice was firm and commanding. I’d never been the type to listen to firm or commanding. See, there was this thing about magic slippers. Use them with permission, and at midnight the whole deal expired. Steal them from a custom boutique on Fifth, and at midnight turning into a vegetable was the least of your worries.

She curled into a ball, kicking, growling, and making noises I’d never heard outside of the labor and delivery room. Running through the theater was out; heading back in there would introduce a whole load of teens to a different kind of monster than the movie ones. The loading bays down at the end of the alley didn’t look too promising, and now Princess PMS rose to her feet. The bloodred stains covered her from head to toe. Shadows covered her face, but where the orange wash of the street lights hit her she looked maroon.

“You want to let me help you?” I asked. The growling noise she made ruled out diplomacy. “Okay, we do it my way.”

She leaped at me. I’d mastered seven different forms of self-defense and I wore all four of the major protection charms, but one thing was constant: Whether my assailant was a drug addict or a bridge troll, pepper spray would leave them blind. So I ducked out of the way and gave her a dash of the scent I was sampling that day. It hit her like a brick, leaving her clawing at her eyes. I realized as she stumbled past that her nails were now at least three inches long and razor sharp.

She started sniffing the air, then like a dog, she ran straight into me, knocking me back to the Dumpster. Dumpsters hurt. I caught her arm before she could give me surprise plastic surgery and slammed her into the ground, pinning her underneath me.

That should have ended it, but she rolled over, throwing me to the side, and I barely stepped out of the way of those nails. She kicked at me and I caught her foot.

“Gotcha,” I said, rubbing the shoes with the bag. Grimm said the bag was made of genuine werewolf fur, but whatever it was, the effect was immediate. She thrashed and choked and kicked and I held on tight until she went limp. The slippers came off in my hand without a fight.

They glimmered under the streetlight, and for a moment I saw an image form in them: Me, walking down the street in them. No Agency bracelet on my wrist, a bag from shopping in my hand. I could be free, if only I put them on.

“Marissa,” said Grimm, speaking from the reflection in the shoes, “put them in the bag.”

I did, and the fantasy blew away like dry leaves down the sidewalk. My back hurt where I’d hit the Dumpster. My arm throbbed where she’d grabbed me, and my cheek had that hot feeling that said somewhere in her thrashing, she’d managed to nail me with a foot.

“I’m going home,” I said to my compact mirror. “What do you want me to do with her?”

“Leave her for the police. They’ll be there shortly. Evangeline needs your assistance on the Upper East Side, and there’s the matter of a troll.”

“I’m going home.” I knew full well he’d heard me the first time.

“I’ve got work for you, Marissa, and if you are ever to get your own ever after—”

“The only after I’m interested in right now is after a bottle of wine and after a long night’s sleep. I’ll see you when I’m ready for work.”

“Marissa, you need to ask yourself what you want more: A night’s sleep, or another job.”

I wiped a trace of blood off my lip, took a look at my bruises in the compact. Everything about me ached and the cold seeped out of the shadows into my bones. I put my hand on the bracelet and made my decision. “Tell Evangeline I’m on my way.” Nights like this made me wish I’d never gotten started in this business.

Win a Copy:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A Texas transplant to the Pacific Northwest, JC Nelson lives with a family and a flock of chickens near rainy Seattle.

Media Links for JC Nelson:
Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

Buy Agent Now:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Meet Michelle Smith

Today we have Michelle Smith visiting us, talking about her debut novel, PLAY ON. She has to be one of the friendliest and coolest people I’ve met through the twitter writing community. Make sure you follow her.

Michelle Smith Author Photo

Thanks for taking the time to stop by Michelle. What inspired you to write your first book? 
PLAY ON was written because I needed to write it. Cliché, right? But it’s true. I put pen to paper one year after my own downward spiral into the worst my depression’s ever been. I had a pretty clean first draft within a month. I wanted to create a story that was full of hope and fun-filled love, but also one that showed the gritty truth of dark days. It was hard at times, but also strangely therapeutic.

Wow, talk about fast. Drafting a novel in one month is amazing. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
That hope exists. That love exists. And that listening to someone can be a world-changer for that person.


What a great message to give to your readers. Do you have a favorite line one of your characters says in your book? 
There are so many lines in PLAY ON that I love. There’s one that makes me burst into tears every. single. time, but it’s a little spoilerish, so I’ll go with another one:

“Here’s to hoping for better nights.”

Marisa says this in the first chapter, and I didn’t even realize it until the fourth round of edits, but it’s an excellent peek into her character.

I love it when I’m writing and the words flow as the characters speak to me. Sounds like Marisa did that from the get go. Are you a pantser or a plotter and how did you approach writing your novel? 

It totally depends on the book. PLAY ON was pantsed; the book I wrote before that, KINGDOM COME, was outlined to the max. My current WIP is a little bit of both.

So cool that you’re preparation style changes for each novel. You’re very eclectic in that aspect, which makes me very jealous. Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 

While I drew from personal experiences, the characters’ stories are all their own.

Watching a character develop into their own as you write has to be one of the most exhilarating aspects to writing. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Never give up on your dreams, no matter how stupid or crazy they may seem. Another totally cliché answer, but it’s so true.

At one point during my query process for PLAY ON, I’d decided to give up. Requests were pouring in, with rejections soon following. This was the third book I’d queried, and while that’s not necessarily a lot in the grand scheme of writerly life, it was enough to make me feel beaten. And so I “quit.”

Then, an hour later, I got a super enthusiastic full request in my inbox. That gave me the push to try “just one more time.” I entered a pitch contest on Twitter a few days later, and that not only grabbed the attention of my amazing agent, but also of the fabulous person who would soon become my editor.

Do the stars always align that way? No. But your dream is always worth a shot.

That’s right! Never give up on your dreams. What’s all your social media links to share with readers? 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MichelleA_Smith
Website: http://www.msmithbooks.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21896076-play-on

Thanks for having me!

Meet Sonia Fuderer

In one of the many different contests I entered my fantasy novel, I met Sonia Fuderer and we hit it off right away. She is here to share her writing process and tell us how she met her agent.


Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Sonia. Let’s jump right in, shall we? What inspired you to write your first book? 
My husband and I were watching the TV show “Joe Rogan Questions Everything” about a possible biopocalypse when the idea for THE LAST FLOCK flooded all of my thoughts. I was watching in terror as the scientists spoke about how quickly an outbreak could spread and wipe us all out, and I started thinking about what lengths I would go to in order to protect my family. My book was born from those thoughts and fears. When I write my acknowledgements I feel I owe Joe Rogan a thank you, because I can honestly say that I began this journey as a result of him scaring the crap out of me.

 I love watching TV shows like that. You mentioned the title of your novel is THE LAST FLOCK. How did you come up with it? 
The title actually took me a while! I couldn’t come up with a title until I had written over half the book. My story revolves around Reese and her family, who are among a group of people that were saved from a biological attack by a man named Joshua, the creator of the shelter they are surviving in. As he attempts to become their leader and the fate of the rest of the world is unknown, all he wants them to do is follow him without question – to be his flock. And could they be the last people left on earth? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Well, based on what you just summed up for us, the title is perfect. Do you have a specific writing style? 
I visualize scenes from the book while listening to music, and once I get all of those out of my mind, I go back and connect them. (Check out my website for the playlist!) I wrote the book last summer while on summer break with my kids. I would think about the book often during the day, even typing notes in my phone when an idea hit me, and then once they were tucked in bed I would sit down with my laptop and write. It took me about two months to write the book and another three to edit it.

Music is a big part of my writing process as well. Time for a serious question. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
The overall message of my book revolves around trust. The question I asked when querying my book was, “If the world and your life changed in the blink of an eye, would you know who to trust?” It seems so simple and straight forward as the book begins – of course Reese and her family can trust Joshua. Someone wouldn’t create a self-sustaining biological shelter if he didn’t have everyone’s best interest at heart, right?

Trust is key in any relationship, but throw the biological warfare end-of-days vibe into the mix and trust is everything. How much of the book is realistic? 
Everything that transpires in the book could actually happen in real life. I took great care when writing the characters, so that readers can relate to them and feel like they understand everyone and their interactions. It was important to me to present the aspects of love as realistic as possible as well. In my book, Reese and Lucas take their time falling for each other, no one is dominate or scared of the other, and although they are stronger together than apart, no one’s life will end if the other’s does. It’s a beautifully balanced love story.

The best books are the ones that make you think because they could happen. Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 
My main character, Reese, has attributes that I pulled from a couple different people. She is a dancer, reader, and loves children, which are things she and I have in common. She’s also a cancer survivor, and that’s a tribute to my sister-in-law, who battled leukemia as a child. I wouldn’t have known the struggles of being a cancer survivor without having Jenna in my life. The pressure of being a role model and keeping up a strong exterior while being consumed by anxiety that it could come back or what the side-effects of the treatment will be…these are feelings I took from real-life and I wrote in Reese, which make her an extremely complex person. She struggles with finding the balance between embracing her past, which makes her an inspiration, and also just wanting to be treated like a normal teenager.

Your character is definitely complex, which is awesome. What books have influenced your life most? 
I have two very different books which have influenced me. The first is the entire Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I was an elementary teacher when the first Harry Potter book hit the shelves and it fascinated me to see my students talking about reading with such enthusiasm. My students devoured those books, so of course I read them as well. I was (still am) in awe of the world she created, the characters who seem real, and the complexity of the relationships among those characters. I admire her ability to tie events from the final book all the way back to the first one so flawlessly…she’s inspirational.

My husband encouraged me to read UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand, which is far from my middle grade/young adult fiction comfort zone, and I’m so thankful he did. Talk about a story of survival and overcoming incredible odds! Not to give any spoilers, but near the end of the book a reporter asked Louie (the man whose life story is told in the book) to sum up his experiences, and his response was that he would rather die than live through it again. His statement was brutally honest and not what I expected to read. I kept that in mind while writing Reese, so there are times when her strength helps her overcome the odds, but she also has moments of weakness and doubt.

Sounds like Reese is a well rounded character thanks to your UNBROKEN reading, which I am now adding to my growing TBR pile. Can you share a little of your current work with us? 

I’d love to! Here’s the first page of THE LAST FLOCK:

“Probably not.”

That would be my response if you asked me the following question:

If you knew in the beginning what you do now, would you still have saved yourself?

Although, if I hadn’t escaped down here, I never would have met Lucas… which complicates the question to the point that you may as well go ahead and change my previous answer to a completely honest, “I really don’t know.”

It’s a tough trade off, one I rarely allow myself to think about – lives for lives.

I often catch myself thinking back to the day my life above was ripped away from me; the time before our descent.

I remembered reading this intro in a contest and thinking I wanted to read it then. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 

I would choose Neal Shusterman as my mentor. I’m currently reading the third book of his Unwind Dystology (UNSOULED) and can’t turn the pages fast enough. I love everything about his writing, from the way the chapters jump to different character’s perspectives, how it’s written in present tense so I feel like I’m living through it rather than being told what happened after the fact, and that it’s set in a recognizable, yet terrifying, near-future. He’s absolutely amazing at what he does.

Authors really don’t grasp how much they inspire people with their books. Soon enough, you will be in the same position–inspiring others.  What are your current projects? 
My current WIP is the second book of my trilogy and the working title is THE LAST FLOCK: EMERGENCE. I love the definitions of words. I even include the definitions of the titles in my books as each section begins. So to set the tone of what I’m working on now, the definition of emergence is:

  1. the process of coming into view or becoming exposed after being concealed
  2. the process of coming into being, or of becoming important or prominent

 I love reading trilogies. I have a hard time leaving characters after one book. So, tell us who the lucky agent is that snagged you up. 
My agent is Ella Marie Shupe of The Belcastro Agency. I met her through traditional querying. I had just been rejected from the first Twitter contest I had ever entered when later that same day she requested my full. Just a few days later I got the email that she wanted to have “The Call!” I burst into tears and called my husband. After speaking with her on the phone, everyone wanted to know what it was like and I told them all, “It was like talking to the president of my book’s fan club.” Two weeks later I enthusiastically accepted her offer of representation and have enjoyed every minute of working with her. My manuscript is currently out on submission to editors and I’ll keep you posted!

 I remember cheering you on from the sidelines. Do you have any advice for other writers? 
My advice for other writers is to write what you love and don’t try to fit into a niche or follow trends. Set aside time to read. Read not only the genre that you write, but as much as possible. As hard as the rejections are, don’t take them personally. It’s not you – it’s that your book wasn’t the right fit at the time. And last, “Clear your mind of can’t”

Great advice. It’s hard to follow when you’re in the querying trenches, but it’s so true. Do you have a favorite line one of your characters says in your book? 
Reese has a younger brother, Ethan, who’s dealing with the circumstances how I imagine most fourteen-year-olds would…armed with humor. He has so many great lines and this is one of my favorites.

“If this is what the next year is going to be like then I’m going to start digging myself out soon,” Ethan whispers to me late one night.

“I’ll be right behind you,” I whisper back.

“You might not want to be right behind me, though. I’ve had a pretty consistent diet of canned beans lately.”

Fart jokes never get old. Never. Would you tell us some more about THE LAST FLOCK:?

Seventeen-year-old Reese survived cancer as a child, but when a biological terrorist attack is unleashed on America, she finds herself fighting for her life again – spending what should’ve been her senior year of high school sealed in a shelter beneath the Rocky Mountains. Her broken family struggles to adjust to this new life, one without her missing older brother, and the only bright spots are the friendships that form below. Even falling in love with fellow shelter-dweller Lucas comes at a price – reconciling the awful truth that everyone she left above, including her boyfriend, has perished.

 To make matters worse, Reese begins to suspect Joshua, the charismatic founder of the shelter, has not gathered their group below entirely by chance. As fear and doubt bloom in the community, Reese embarks on a mission to discover what secrets Joshua is hiding. What she uncovers is unimaginable: the greatest threat may not be in the outside world at all, but instead sealed in the shelter with them. With uncertainty breaking bonds, Reese must decide what to do with the information she has uncovered, and most crucially, who to trust.

This book needs to hurry up and sell so I can read it.  What’s all your social media links to share with readers?
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SFuderer
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/sjfuderer
Instagram: http://instagram.com/sfuderer
Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/soniafuderer/
Website: www.soniafuderer.com
Tumblr: http://sfuderer.tumblr.com/
Email: sonia.fuderer@gmail.com


Meet Kat Ellis

Today Kat Ellis is stopping by to share her writing process and talk about her novel, BLACKFIN SKY that is out in the UK and soon to be released in the US.

Kat 2
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview Kat! I cannot wait until BLACKFIN SKY is released in the US. Titles are so hard to come up with these. How did you come up yours?
Many, many drafts ago, BLACKFIN SKY had another title (I called it ‘Transparencies’ as a working title while drafting it), but that seems so weird to me now. Blackfin is the name of the town in the novel, where all kinds of odd and creepy things exist – the haunted weathervane, the thieving Penny Well, the bookshop where every purchase comes with a free spider in the bag… The town was named ‘Blackfin’ because of the whale fins that can often be seen from the pier – these mysterious creatures just out of reach, with a lot more going on beneath the surface! The ‘Sky’ in the title doesn’t refer to the sky, but to the main character, whose name is Skylar Rousseau.

What a perfect way to connect the name of the town and your main character. How much of the book is realistic?
Hmm… with it being a magical realist novel, this one is tough to answer without giving away too much! But I think Sky and her friends are all pretty realistic. They care about things teens care about, and face typical teen problems, even within the strange town of Blackfin. They make mistakes and take risks and feel awesome and awkward and excited and devastated; they do their homework and get zits just like everyone else. Of course all this is going on in some very strange circumstances, but I wanted the characters to relatable, even if the setting wasn’t!

Having relatable characters is very important. What books have influenced your life most?
I was actually late to the writing party, so to speak, as I didn’t have it in my head from a young age that I wanted to be an author. It was about five years ago when I decided to write a novel, and the ones I started reading around that time have really shaped the kind of writer I have become, and set me up with a love of YA that will never die (it is a zombie kind of love.) TWILIGHT is the obvious one, but I loved the GONE series by Michael Grant so much that it’s always at the top of my recommendation list. I would also say the WAKE trilogy and other novels by Lisa McMann have really stayed with me, and I was thrilled recently to have my writing compared to hers.

Who cares when you showed up to the writing party as long as you’re here now. And now I have more books to add to my TBR pile. What are your current projects?
Right now, I’ve just finished editing one manuscript – a YA thriller about psychopaths and scrapbooking – and am about to start outlining a brand new one that is probably heading back into magical realist territory. It does seem to be my happy place as a writer.

Psychopaths and scrapbooking? I love it! I do take my scrapbooking very seriously. Do you have to travel much concerning your book?
I don’t have to, but I really enjoy getting out there and meeting people. I held a launch event and signing a few weeks ago, and it was so awesome meeting people of all ages who had read my book or were excited to start. There are a lot of moments that make it all seem more ‘real’, and that was one of them.

Pinch yourself because this is all really real. Your UK cover is gorgeous and I love your US one. Who designed them?
Shane Rebenschied was the amazing artist behind my UK cover. Shane has also created cover art for authors like Chuck Wendig, and for the new The Walking Dead series, so I was absolutely over the moon when he agreed to do mine. The US cover is very different, and was designed by the in-house designer at Running Press Teen. I love the Americana circus vibe it has, and feel so lucky to have 2 covers I really love!


They are both perfect and even though readers should never judge books by their covers, I’d buy yours based on their covers alone. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
It was easy to come up with all the weird aspects, funnily enough – knowing that Sky had been presumed dead for 3 months, all the quirks of the town and the Blackfin residents – but then reigning in all the threads so that it wasn’t one massive tangle at the end was a challenge.

The more complicated the story, the better. And walking around with people thinking you’ve been dead for three months sounds pretty complicated to me. Do you have a favorite line one of your characters says in your book?
I think this has to be one of my favourites: “You had a worm in your head, girl. A WORM.” (Not giving you any context for that, either!)

I can see why that’s your favorite line. You created a book trailer that made me fall in love with your book before it released. Care to share it?

That trailer makes me so excited to read the book. What exactly is Blackfin Sky about?
US blurb:

Just like any other morning, Skylar Rousseau is late for school, but when she is greeted by a blanket of silent stares upon entering Blackfin High, she discovers that the whole town thought she fell from the pier and drowned on her sixteenth birthday three months earlier. However, Sky remembers the last three months living her life as normal, and since she is a full, living breathing human being, she has no idea whose body is buried underneath her tombstone. Everyone seems reluctant to help except her steadfast friend and crush, Sean . . . and a secretive man who draws her to a mysterious circus in the woods.

Sky must wade through impossibilities and lies to discover the truth about what happened to her, which proves to be a bit difficult when someone is following her every move with the intent to harm her.  And Sky’s only hope of finding the answers she seeks may have already been turned to ashes.

BLACKFIN SKY will be released 2 September in the US from Running Press Teen (out now in the UK from Firefly Press).

I love it! I can’t wait to read it and figure out the context for that. What’s all your social media links to share with readers?
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/el_kat
Facebook: www.facebook.com/katelliswrites
Website: www.katelliswrites.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18952405-blackfin-sky
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blackfin-Sky-Kat-Ellis/dp/1910080004/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402680223&sr=8-1&keywords=blackfin+sky
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Blackfin-Sky-Kat-Ellis/dp/0762454016/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402680256&sr=8-1&keywords=blackfin+sky


About the Author: 
Kat Ellis is a young adult writer from North Wales. You’ll usually find Kat up to no good on Twitter, taking photographs in cemeteries, or watching scary films with her husband and feral cat. BLACKFIN SKY is her first novel.


Ella Martin is visiting again, revealing her cover for her debut novel, WILL THE REAL PRINCE CHARMING PLEASE STAND UP being released by Astraea Press, July 1, 2014. Last time she stopped by, Ella shared her writing process and how she met her agent. Read about it here. Without even reading the blurb, what do you think of this cover? DROOL! It’s gorgeous.


Back Cover Blurb:

Happily Ever After only happens with the right guy. It’s a tiny but important detail most fairy tales choose to leave out. But what happens when the princess rides off into the sunset with Prince Charming, only to discover he’s not so charming, after all?

Bianca Sullivan thinks she’s a pretty average girl. Sure, her brother may be the super-stud captain of the football team, but that’s her only claim to fame –- until her friends’ social experiment turns her into the new It girl of the Sophomore class, and she captures the attention of the most popular guy in her grade. Ecstatic to introduce the world to her first boyfriend, she’s trying to enjoy being wooed by the ultimate heartthrob. But no one’s ever told her what to do when her friends hate her boyfriend and Prince Charming starts acting like a control-freaky misogynist. And as if deciding whether to trust Prince Charming, her friends, or her own instincts wasn’t hard enough, being around her brother’s best friend is making her head all fuzzy, too. Oh, if only love was as simple as fairy tales make it out to be…

Be sure to enter in the giveaway below for a chance to win either a new Kindle 6″ ereader or a new Kobo Touch, winner’s choice. People will receive one entry each for following her Twitter or liking her Facebook page, and they will receive 3 entries for commenting on any of the blogs participating in the cover reveal. International entries accepted! So what are you waiting for? ENTER!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

EMC Author Photo

Ella Martin is a prep school survivor and a Southern California native. She writes books about spunky teenagers who are way cooler than she ever was, and she totally believes in love and happy endings. She likes sunny places and is terrified of snowy winters, so she now lives in Florida with her husband and son.

Follow her on social media:

Blog: www.ella-martin.com
Twitter: @westgateprep
Facebook: www. facebook.com/AuthorEllaMartin
Tumblr: www.westgateprep.tumblr.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/westgateprep

Meet Allyson Carter

Allyson Carter is stopping by today to share with us what inspired her to write her first novel and to share a bit of her new release, Wounded Hearts with us.


Allyson, thank you for taking the time to share with us your writing. Let’s start with one of my favorite questions, shall we? What inspired you to write your first book? 
I was going crazy 5 years ago stuck in a snow storm with the kids. I remember waking up with this idea in my head. At this time, I’d not written anything since high school. Only a couple friends knew that I wrote and back then it was mostly poems. This idea for a YA book wouldn’t go away, so I got my two oldest daughters going on their schooling for the day, and then sat down at the computer and started typing. The book just poured out of me. That’s when it all clicked and I knew I wanted to be an author.

I love it when ideas come at the most random times. When the muse speaks, we must listen! Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
That no matter how bad you’ve been hurt in a relationship that to never give up on love.

What a beautiful message! Are the experiences in the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not in this book but in the past I have drawn from experiences or something I read.

It’s easy to pull from what we’ve experienced and translate that into words. What books have most influenced your life most?
It depends on my mood. I read a lot of different types of books. I read romance, suspense/ mystery, Christian, paranormal and historical.

It’s smart to be well read because it comes through in your writing. What book are you reading now?
This may shock you but nothing at the moment. I’ve been so busy with edits, writing and rewrites. I’m totally open to suggestions on what to read next. The last thing I read was Ruin and Toxic by Rachel Van Dyken. Both are New Adult books and so good.

Thanks for the recommendation, I will have to check them out. I’m always on the lookout for another book to add to my TBR list. What are your current projects?
I’m busy working on book two in the series. I’m also rewriting and editing my first book that came out under my pen name. The rights have been reverted back to me.

Wow, you are busy! Means we can look forward to more from you. Can you name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?
Hands down that would be God.

That’s wonderful to have such strong faith.  Can you share a little of Wounded Hearts with us? 


After a bitter divorce, Shelby Johnson is looking to rebuild a life for her and her daughter, Hannah, while avoiding the thing she mistrusts most: men. Her resolve is tested, however, when her brother’s best friend, Mark, moves in across the street and her long-buried feelings for him return. Can she possibly open up her heart again? Is she willing to let herself love? When someone threatens her life she quickly realizes that her heart isn’t the only thing on the line and she turns to the only man she feels she can trust.

Reliving everything he lost overseas, Mark Daniels goes back to his hometown to try and live a peaceful life but instead gets caught up in Shelby’s troubles.. He knows she needs someone to protect her but can he be that man? Except, being near Shelby again is making him feel things he’d rather never feel—again. When his past comes to haunt him in a way he never excepted, he vows to protect Shelby and her daughter until his last breath.


“Stay right here, sweetie.”

Reaching in, she picked up the paper. At first the words written on the thing didn’t register. She had to re-read them twice.

Keep quiet or else.

Her hands shook. A lump formed in her throat. When Mark walked out to the car, their gazes met. She noted the concern on his face as he stared at her.

“What’s the matter, Shell?”

She tried to talk, but nothing would come out. When he rushed to her side, she gave him the note. The words had been created with letters out of magazines or something, glued to the paper. She tightened her hold on Hannah. Someone had put the paper there when they were a few feet away. Why?

“Take Hannah and move to the sidewalk.”

Shelby nodded then moved to where he told her. He pulled out his cell and punched in a number. Mark moved with determination as he talked on the phone with the police. Within moments, a squad car showed up. So much for not having attention on her while she was out with Mark. Who had put the note in her car? Better yet, how did they get in when she’d locked the car?

“Shelby, do you have someone mad at you?” Detective Moore asked as he shut the door to his car and made his way over to her.

 Sounds fantastic. Thanks for sharing. Are you working on anything else right now? 
I’m also writing book two in this series. It is Jace and Mary’s story.

Very nice! I love reading books in a series. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
Yes, that would be homeschooling and writing at the same time. At times it can be hard to get into the zone with my book. Or like right now with my twins and them having Autism, they are being super loud as I type out my answers. Even though it can be hard to concentrate, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

If only we could clone ourselves. One to deal with housework, one to deal with writing, one to deal with everything else. Sigh. Who designed the cover of Wounded Hearts?
My publisher [Sweet Cravings Publishing] has a department who does this. They rock!

Yes, it’s a great cover. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
It was getting my mind to switch over from writing hot to sweet. It was hard at first, and I struggled a lot.

It can be a problem when your characters find themselves doing things they aren’t supposed to be. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing and don’t ever give up.

Best advice ever. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your characters to life?
Like I said before the whole switching genres was the challenge for me at first. The other thing was research for the book. It took some digging to find out certain protocols that the Army follows along with some other things.

I love researching information for my characters. Do you have a favorite line one of your character says in your book?
Yes from Hannah. Hubby and I were at Bob Evans one day for a lunch date. We overheard this little boy around 3 talk about wanting mashed potatoes with gravy on the side of his spaghetti. Once I heard this I knew I had to use it in a book.

What a combination! Well, thanks for stopping by Allyson. Before you go, would you like to share your social media links with readers?
You can buy Wounded Hearts here.  I can be found around the internet at Facebook, Twitter and website.


Meet Sasha Abernathy

Today, Sasha Abernathy has stopped by to tell us about her writing process and her new book, Chasing the Sun: An Earth Relic Prophecy. 


Welcome, Sasha! Thanks for stopping by. Let’s start with one of my favorite questions. What inspired you to write your first book?  
Chasing the Sun: An Earth Relic Prophecy is my first novel. I’ve written short stories as a kid, but never sat down long enough to write anything longer. I was inspired by my love for Egyptian mythology. First, I love to read everything paranormal: vampires, werewolves, ghosts, goblins, fae, zombies, everything. There’s something about believing in a world of magic that is so stress relieving. But, I had read so much that I was sick of your typical supernatural creatures. I went on a mad search for something new, something different. But, I didn’t want Greek mythology either since you see that a lot as well. So I thought about my longtime love: Egypt, and the love story of Osiris and Isis. Again, I went in search for an urban fantasy or paranormal romance with a fun Egyptian twist. I wanted something set in modern times that brought back these gods from the ancient world. I couldn’t find it. So, I wrote what I wanted to read. And I’m in love with it.

We have the same taste! I love reading mythology and paranormal. Combining them sounds awesome. Do you have a specific writing style?
Not really. My style is to write what feels right.

I respect that. Every writer should always write what feels right to them. Let’s talk specifics. How did you come up with the title? 
I was on a road trip, heading to New Mexico. We left early in the morning so I sat there watching the sunrise. I had dabbled with the idea of a book, but didn’t have anything beside scribbles of ideas written in the notebook I carry with me. But while I looked out and watched the sun come up, I thought about what it would be like to really chase the sun. What would it be like to chase something you know you will never catch, but still never give up? And that phrase stuck with me. Luckily, because of the characters in my book and their relationship with the sun and earth, it works perfectly.

Your title is perfect. It has a mythology feel to it. It’s great the title came to you before you even started your novel. Title’s are funny that way. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I didn’t write it with a message intended, but I think one developed. Terran, the main character has gone through some pretty tough things. But, the one thing she holds on to is hope. I guess I’d have to say that is the message: Never give up on hope.

What a powerful message.  Never give up! Never Surrender. Sorry, I take advantage of every chance I get to quote Galaxy Quest. How much of the book is realistic?
This question made me giggle. I’ll go with some parts more than others. I lived in Anchorage, Alaska where the book is set, so I used a lot of my time there to inspire me. Alaska is one place everyone should visit. It is amazing.

Alaska is on my bucket list! Since the book takes place where you’re from, are the experiences in your novel based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 
Many of the characters are rooted in the people that I know or grew up with, so it was so easy to expand on them. I also took some of my worst fears, (like going crazy or being buried alive) and some of my greatest dreams, (like attending a masquerade gala) and used them to inspire me.

I think everyone pulls bits and pieces of their life into their writing. I love how you incorporated your fears and dreams into your writing. What books have most influenced your life most? 
I spent tons of summers with my Aunt, a high school English teacher, as a kid. And of course, I was smothered by the classics. Her favorites were anything by Jane Austen. Since they were also made into movies, I was all about it (The BBC versions, of course). So, I grew up with reading and watching some of the best love stories ever. I haven’t been able to put down a passionate and innocent romance novel since. (Although now, there’s usually something supernatural with at least one of the characters.)

Ahh, yes. Teachers have a way of doing that. What book are you reading now? 
I’m currently reading George R.R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows. I also have a soft spot for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and always have a copy downloaded on my iPad Mini. I’m currently waiting for Blood Games, the next book in the Chicagoland series to come out. Come on August 2014!

So many books. So little time. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 
Oh, man. So, I have this amazing CP (Critique Partner) group. I’m talking amazing! Some of their stories have me so hooked and invested that I’m literally yelling at the characters. They are great. Most of them are just starting the querying process, so I’m anxiously awaiting their novel releases. You can follow them on twitter though: @Patchi_writes, @AinsleyWynter, @ColleenSMyers, and @ChellesWrite.

I love my CPs as well. What are your current projects? 
I’m currently working on the second book of The Earth Relic series, which is loads of fun. I’m having a blast with my established characters. You get to see so much more of them. I’ve also introduced a few characters fond of 80’s punk fashion. They are a blast to develop! It’s an amazing feeling to be so enamored by your story.

Sequels are so much fun to write. Name someone that supported you outside of family members. 
My CP group and BETA readers, for sure. If there’s one thing every writer needs, it’s a CP group and some honest BETA readers. You need people to tell you how it is and to encourage you. That is so important.

There is a special place for CP and Beta readers. I thanks them for their time every day. Do you see writing as a career?
Oh, for sure! My dream is to move into the mountains and write. But, for now I spend my time writing on the train back and forth to the office. I actually wrote almost the entire book on the train on my iPad mini. Sometimes long commutes have their perks.

I’m curious what app you used on your iPad. I’m always on the lookout for writing apps! I’ve taken my laptop in the car and worked on my WIP before, so using any time to write to you advantage is a fantastic idea. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 
No. Of course, I am a perfectionist, so that’s probably only halfway true. The whole truth: at some point, you have to stop picking at something and simply let it be. That’s where I’m at right now.

It’s hard to not start at page one and try to edit something, even though you know the novel is good to go. One of many issues writer’s face, I think. HA! Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
I’ve always had a very vivid imagination. As a kid, I was always coming up with adventures to go on. As an adult, I think it’s easy to get sucked into the monotonous life of being a wife, an employee, and a mom. Writing gives me an escape. Reading is great, but writing lets me set up my own crazy adventures, just like when I was a kid.

Writing and a vivid imagination go hand-in-hand. Can you share a little of your current work with us? 
Sure! The Phoenix Rises takes place a few weeks after the end of Chasing the Sun. Terran’s eyes have now been opened to a new world, but she’s still trying to grasp the responsibility that has been bestowed upon her. And when a not so nice someone from her past shows up, she’s torn. Should she help him? Here’s the first couple paragraph’s (with a sentence or two of spoilers omitted.

Fists ready, I danced on the balls of my bare feet, anticipating his next move. We had been at this for what felt like hours, and my body grew weary. The training room now felt muggy and twenty degrees warmer. Drops of sweat rolled down my face, pasting the black curls that had escaped from my ponytail to my cheeks. The tickle of the curling tips was distracting, but my determination was unwavering and the stakes high: cleaning duty for the next week.

With a quick snap, his fist came at me with the swiftness of a cobras strike. I dropped and rolled as taught, but the edge of his knuckles nicked the tip of my ear and stung like a thousand pissed off bees.

“Come on!” I yelled in irritation, shaking my head and willing myself to focus. I was better than this.

His half smile curled up the right side of his face and only fueled my anger. Marlo, in all his gangly glory, stood before me, amusement oozing out of every pore. His gloating wasn’t unwarranted since I had yet to best him, but it was annoying.


That sounds fantastic. Thank you for sharing. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
There are a couple of scenes in the book that are very emotionally awkward. As I was writing those scenes, I found myself feeling that same emotional discomfort. It was really difficult to write past those parts because I didn’t want to face what they were facing either.

As a writer, it’s our job to elicit emotion. For you to experience it as you write, only shows how powerful the scene is. Way to go! Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
I can’t seriously answer this, haha. It’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. But, for the urban fantasy/paranormal romance genre, I’d have to say I love the worlds and mystery that Karen Moning created with her Fever series. I also love Chloe Neill’s spin on the supernatural in her Chicagoland Vampires series. Each have main characters that you can see as your best friend. And although the situations they get themselves into are far from anything I’m likely to encounter, (unless vampires ARE real), you feel like the way they react is legit.

Picking favorites is so hard! Who designed the cover of Chasing the Sun?
The lovely Suzannah Safi is currently designing my cover. I am beyond excited to see what she creates. The cover should be ready sometime in July/August.

Waiting sucks, but I bet it will look fantastic. You’ll have to share it with us when you get your hands on it. What was the hardest part of writing your book? 
The hardest part was taking the time to write and taking the time for my family. People sometimes call it a need for ‘balance.’ I say it’s a need to sacrifice. Either way, you are giving up something you love to do for something you love.  This is why the majority of my book was written on the commuter train, in the bathtub, or with a toddler on my lap.

If  only writing didn’t take time. Too bad we can’t wake up and have the pages already typed out. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? 
I learned that I have a comma-phobia.  I’m still working on that. Although now, I think I sometimes swing the other way.

Thank God for CPs and Beta readers because they find all the comma errors! Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write for yourself. Forget about what everyone else wants. It’s nice to make it a goal to be a professional writer, but ultimately, if you don’t write what you love, it’s going to come across as mediocre. I wrote Chasing the Sun for me. I just happened to be lucky enough that others loved my story as much as I do.

It’s easy to see when an author’s heart isn’t into what they write. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life? 
The research was challenging because there are so many variations of the Osiris and Isis love story. Not to mention all the various elements in Egyptian mythology. There’s almost an overload of information to choose from. But the search was exciting and gave me a great stepping-stone to launch from.

Egyptian mythology had to be a blast to research. Who is your publisher? 
Crimson Frost Books purchased the rights to my novel in January. They’ve estimated the release of Chasing the Sun in the winter of 2014.

Congrats! How did you meet your publisher? 
Twitter! I entered #PitMad, and really didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. I actually think you and your blog helped me with my pitch, so thanks for that. Here’s the pitch that got their attention: * Hunted by her uncle, the god of Chaos, Terran must protect the key to the veil btwn worlds b4 all Hell breaks loose-literally. A/UF #PitMad*

 Brenda Drake is amazing for coming up with #PitMad. Your pitch sounds awesome. No wonder it caught publisher’s attention. Do you have a favorite line one of your characters says in your book?
My favorite line would give away one of the surprises.  Terran is put in a position that I think many of us can relate to: when lines are crossed in a relationship, it can either mean the end or the beginning of something wonderful.  But a favorite that I can share is from Marc, a frequent guest in Terran’s dreams. “Until next time, my love.”  I’m a sucker for sweet goodbyes.

Le sigh. I love it. What is your ‘the call’ story? 
It’s actually not that interesting, haha. I waited, anxiously of course, to hear back from Crimson Frost Books. I had been debating on whether to go the traditional route of having an agent, going with a small publisher, or self-publishing. Since the urban fantasy and paranormal romance markets are tough right now, I got many ‘It’s good, but publishers aren’t buying these genres’ from agents.  When I got the call that they wanted to offer a contract, I was ecstatic. I had my novel out to a couple agents, and this offer. Ultimately, I decided I wanted my book out there. With an agent, it depends on if they can sell it or not, and since I write in a genre that is basically ‘dead,’ I didn’t want to take the chance. After requesting the contract, asking a thousand questions, and speaking to an author who contracted with Crimson Frost as well, I decided to go for it. And I’m glad I did.

What’s all your social media links to share with readers?
Twitter: @EarthRelic
Website: SashaAbernathy.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SashaAbernathyBooks


Born in Germany to a Puerto Rican mother and All-American Military father, who saw fit to give her a Russian name, Sasha Abernathy has always loved storytelling, traveling, and doing all things silly. Raised in Oklahoma, but eventually moving everywhere from Alaska to Spain, Sasha has finally settled in the beautiful state of Colorado. With her loving husband, two wild sons, and neurotic labradoodle, Sasha is surrounded by way too much testosterone and escapes through her mysteriously whimsical and romantic novels.


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: