Meet Caitlin Sinead

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

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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

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.

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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.

Sonia

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.

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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!

Cvr--BlackfinSky--01.16.14

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.

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

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? 

WoundedHearts_fullres

Blurb
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.

 

Excerpt
“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. 

Sasha

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.

Meet Deborah Kreiser

It is my pleasure to introduce Deborah Kreiser. She stopped by to tell us about her writing process and her new book, THREE WISHES.
Author Deborah Kreiser

Thanks for stopping by Deborah. Let’s get started with you telling us what inspired you to write your first book?
My first book is called THREE WISHES, and it’s coming out April 15 from Astraea Press–making Tax Day much happier in our household!
So, I’d just finished a marathon reading of the whole Twilight series and then The Hunger Games trilogy (this was early spring of 2011—I know, I was late to the game). When I turned the last few pages, I felt so let down. I realized I was tired of saying goodbye to characters I loved. My way of solving that problem was by sitting down and writing my own book, where I would finish with characters when *I* was done.

Marathon reading is the best, except for the book hangover afterward. Do you have a specific writing style?
I’d love to say yes, but the real answer is, not really! THREE WISHES is the first book I ever attempted to write. I’ve done tons of writing in my life, but it had never before occurred to me I could write a whole novel. So I bored several of my dear friends to tears, talking through the characters and the plot, before I sat down and started writing. I plugged away for quite a while, then finally polished it and got it (I thought) ready for the world. At this point, I’ve written all (or most) of three other manuscripts, so I’m a little more meticulous in how I outline, but not by much.

Your style matches my style! Okay, let’s talk a little bit about your novel. How did you come up with the title?
Well, it’s about a genie granting wishes. I toyed with variations on the theme, but I’m a believer in simplicity, so Three Wishes stuck.

I love, love, love your title. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes! I started off with what I thought was an amusing premise (a girl gets an amazing body in an instant, and, by the way, finds out she’s a genie) and it turned into something a little deeper about self-image and the need to make your own wishes come true.

ThreeWishes200X300

There aren’t enough books out there that discuss self-image. And how about your book cover. OMG, it’s gorgeous. How much of the book is realistic?

Every word. It’s a memoir, actually. (Of course not.) *grin* I will admit that, like my main character, I am tall, and I was a swimmer in high school (with a similar boy crush, as it happens). But I never got the Katy Perry-esque curves, and certainly never granted wishes.

As writers, we pull from what we know, which happens to be ourselves. What books have most influenced your life?
Ooh, this is tough! I am a lifelong bookworm, and there are so many books out there that I love, Love, LOVE! But I’d have to say that the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis was what really started me on the road to bookaholism. If that’s not a word, it should be.

Lifelong bookworms UNITE! Okay, this is a tough question, but if you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I’m not sure I have an official “mentor”—my critique partners are incredible (hey there, Joan and Anne!). But I will say that I was inspired early in 2013 by my friend E. M. Caines, who took a little National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project, made an awesome pitch on Twitter, got an agent, and now has a three-book deal.

I heart E. M. Caines so much! She’s such a sweetheart and I look up to her as well. What are you reading now?
Hee hee. I am doing research for my Work In Progress (WIP), so I’ve been reading political memoirs. Right now it’s Dick Cheney’s. That is . . . interesting. I will refrain from further commentary.

Political memoirs, wow! I love how WIP research leads to reading topics maybe we wouldn’t read. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
See above for my “mentor” answer. I also recently stumbled on (completely by accident) a book called A Brighter Kind of Darkness by P.T. Michelle which is amazing. No one I know had ever read it before, so I like the feeling of a new discovery.

There are so many amazing authors out there. Thanks for passing along more to follow! Speaking of authors, what are your current projects?
I have several that I talk about on my blog, but the one I’m most actively working on is a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, set in D.C., and from Paris’ and Rosaline’s point of view.

You had me at Romeo and Juliet. And having it set in DC, makes it even cooler. I definitely want to read that. Authors, both published and unpublished rely on support. Outside of family members, who has supported you? 
I have the bestest friends and critique partners in the world.

I love my CP members so much. Without them, I think I would light my MS on fire at least once a week. With the support system you have, do you see writing as a career?
I love the idea, and I do lots of writing for work, but I don’t want to make my writing into my work—I get so much pleasure in it as an escape that I’d hate to have the pressure of making it a career.

That makes a lot of sense. So many people use writing as an escape. Now that you have a completed novel, if you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not yet! Ask me again in a year. 🙂

Fair enough. As we all know, once a book is published it no longer belongs to the Okay, time for an you share a little of your current work with us?
This is from the middle of the first chapter:

I was planning my approach when that punk Romero made a beeline over to her, his friends close behind. Whatever he said to Julia was enough to make her stop in her tracks and put her pearly whites on broad display. He took her hand and pulled her onto the dance floor, where a lame slow song from the 1950s was playing. They stood close, too close for people who had just met, and yet she didn’t seem to mind when he cradled her head and rested it on his shoulder. Barely taller than Julia, and maybe only ten pounds heavier, I could not figure out what the scrawny little boy had done to get her interested so fast.

She needed some better options.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I think it’s every writer’s constant lament: finding enough time.

Thank you for sharing that with us. Can you tell us what strikes you about your favorite author?

There’s been a lot of backlash against Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight “saga.” I agree with a LOT of the criticism. (And my main characters are always less passive than Bella, for the record.) Having said that, there was something about reading those books that drew me in, in a way no series had done before. And I’ve read many, many books in my life. So, I don’t know if I’d say Stephenie Meyer is my favorite author, but I would love to bottle her success and her vision and get a little of it myself.

There are many people out there on the interwebs that can say Stephenie Meyers got them into reading YA and for many, writing it. Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice is as follows: 1. Get yourself on Twitter. There’s a goldmine of information and advice out there, far more than one writer can tell you. And 2) Don’t give up. Just don’t! Look at publishing as being the icing on top of the wonderful cake that is writing a book.

Mmm. Cake.

I love me some twitter and cake. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

What? I was still thinking about the cake.

Oh, right. Questions.

This: read my book! Love it! Okay, you don’t have to love it. That’s the magic of having so many books in the world: plenty of choices. But I’d appreciate if you read it. 🙂

After reading this interview, I know I’ll be reading your book. Do you have a favorite line one of your character says in your book?
“It turns out my life is a fairytale, after all.”

Squee!! I love that line. Now how can readers find out more about you? 
Yes, please. Follow me on

Website: deborahkreiser.wordpress.com.

Okay, now that everyone is following you on twitter and your other social media links, here is one of my favorite questions. What’s your editor phone call story?
I participated in a pitching opportunity during the SavvyAuthors Summer Symposium in August 2013. I’d had my eye on Astraea Press for a while as an up-and-coming small press with a great track record and excellent reputation for treating their writers well. So when Stephanie Taylor requested my manuscript based on my pitch, I was crossing my fingers that it would work out. A little back-and-forth later, and we all lived happily ever after, with THREE WISHES set to debut April 15!

If Deborah Kreiser had three wishes, they would include: a lifetime supply of calorie-free chocolate, a self-cleaning house; and the ability to expand time as needed. When not dreaming of her next plot, she teaches nature programs to preschool kids in Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband and two young daughters.

Thank you Deborah for stopping by and I look forward to chatting with you on twitter!

Meet Rebecca Yarros

Everyone please welcome Rebecca Yarros. She is another amazing author I have had the privilege to get to know through twitter and after this interview, I hope you will want to get to know her too.

Rebecca Yarrnos

Okay, I’m dying to know. What inspired you to write your first book?
Full Measures is my debut, so we’ll answer with that one. 😉  I’m a dual military brat, and I married  a sinfully handsome army aviator almost twelve years ago.  I’ve always been surrounded by the military, but I asked myself, if my dad, my favorite guy on the planet, had died when I was finally becoming an adult, how would that have changed my outlook on life?  Love?  Full Measures was born from that, my ultimate worst fear of the knock at the door.

epic
I’m a Navy brat and my grandfather was a pilot in the Navy, so your life speaks to me! Sometimes titles come to us as we write, and sometimes, it takes forever to figure them out. How did you come up with your title?
It comes from a very specific scene in the book, where Ember is asked for her favorite line of the Gettysburg address. “– that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain–”

Wow, that’s beautiful that you can connect the title with a piece of history the way you did. Well done! Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
Not really a picture, but more to really grasp the cost of war, that it isn’t only paid for by service members, but their families who lose them.

That’s a very powerful message. Especially for those not raised around the military. With that being said, how much of your book is realistic? 
I hope a lot?  LOL!  I tried really hard to make it as realistic as possible.

With social media bringing the world to our fingertips to see everything LIVE, people seem to crave realism. Time for a tough question because I’m going to make you choose. Name a book that has influenced your life the most?
Definitely John Steinbeck’s EAST OF EDEN.  It’s a reminder to me of the dangers of favoring one child over another, and since I have six kiddos, it’s pretty poignant!

So you’re not only a writer, you’re a superhero? Wow! And great book choice. Now, if you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I would equally say Nola Sarina and Lizzy Charles.  They’re both agency sisters, and published before I did, so when I had questions, or neurotic moments (hey, they happen), they were always there with answers.

Being able to lean on agency sisters and other seasoned writers is when you have questions makes you very lucky. With all that you have on your plate, what book are you reading now? 
I’m finishing up a beta read of Lizzy Charles’ PERFECTLY MESSY.  Be jealous.  Be very jealous.

I love beta reading! What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a novel that sequels FULL MEASURES.  It’s with different characters, but Josh and Ember are around. 😉  I’m also fine-tuning my YA novel, AEOLIAN, and eyeing my NA Urban Fantasy.  I like to keep busy!

Gotta love those New Shiny Ideas that pop up when we least expect them. Sequels are always fun. In the long-term, do you see writing as a career? 
I do, but it’s more than that.  It’s my absolute dream job, and there’s not a day that I don’t thank God that I’ve been able to call myself an author.

I couldn’t agree more. I think every writer out there believes it’s a dream job. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure!  Here’s an excerpt from FULL MEASURES,

Ember Teaser

 

“When are you going to put me out of my misery?” he asked with a smile, biting into my cone.

“You don’t look miserable to me.” I wiped away a drop of ice cream from his lip with my thumb, and licked it off.

He groaned. “Trust me, I am. When are you going to let me take you out?”

My eyebrows raised. “Like an actual date?”

“Yeah, you know, like pick you up, we go out, have a good time, I steal a good night kiss?” He leaned back across the table and whispered, “I get to tell people you’re mine?”

Could I do that? Was I ready? First dates weren’t exactly commitments, right? Gus saved me from answering by walking back in, clean face and all. We stood, tossed our trash, and headed for the parking lot.

“Want me to take you home, Gus?” I asked as we stood halfway between our cars.

“I’ve got a better idea,” Josh interrupted. “What do you say to laser tag?”

Gus lit up. “Heck yes!” He scrambled into Josh’s Jeep.

Josh turned back to me in question. “Ember? Want to shoot at each other in the dark?”

He was giving up his Sunday afternoon for ice cream and laser tag with my little brother. “Where is your flaw, Josh Walker?”

He laughed. “I keep it in the closet.”

I slid up next to him as he told Gus to move to the backseat and reached on tiptoes to whisper in his ear. “If it’s dark in there, does it mean I get a kiss?”

He turned around so I was against his chest. “I have half a mind to tell you no more kisses until I get a date.”

“Oh?” I stepped back so Gus wouldn’t get the wrong . . . ahem, right . . . idea.

“Yeah, but you see, that’s my flaw, December Howard.” He helped me into the Jeep and reached across to buckle me in. He slid back, stopping to whisper in my ear. “I have no self-control when it comes to you.”

Problem was, I saw that as a virtue, not a flaw.

josh teaser 2
And here’s a little teaser from the sequel that I’m working on.  😉   Two for one!

“You’re not going to drive yourself.  I’ll take you….” I wanted to pull some Jedi mind shit to get her to say her name.

“Paisley,” she answered. Jackpot. “And I don’t get in cars with strangers.”

I grinned.  “I’m Jagger Bateman, and since I’ve had my mouth on yours, I’d hardly call us strangers.” A pretty blush crept over her face.  She was enchanting.  Enchanting? Just start spouting poetry and shit while you’re at it.

“I guess if you were going to kill me, you would have left me to drown, not pulled me back to shore.” A devilish gleam sparked in her eyes, “but you did kiss me without consent.””  Damn. She smiled.

Something in the region where my heart should have been woke up and started to beat, clamoring. “I promise, Paisley,” I called her by name just so I could feel it curl around my tongue, “if I kiss you, you’ll know it.”

Wow! I love it. Thank you for sharing that with us. Since you’re from a military family, what was the hardest part of writing your book?

My husband left for his fourth deployment while I was in the middle of writing FULL MEASURES.  Because it deals so heavily with grief after the death of a service member, I had to tuck the manuscript away for about a month until I healed over the rawest parts of my emotions.

 

I understand completely. But thankfully you pulled it back out because here it is! What kind of advice can you offer other writers? 
Take it a page at a time.  If you look at the whole, it can be incredibly daunting.  If you tackle a page a day, at the end of a year, you’ll have a manuscript!

That’s the best advice ever! Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
Thank you. Thank. You. THANK YOU!  I am on my knees in thanks.  I never expected FULL MEASURES to have such an amazing reception, and it’s nothing short of my dream come true.

Well, your readers thank you as well for writing such a beautiful novel. Do you have a favorite line one of your character says in your book?
 Absolutely, but it’s not what people think! I know FULL MEASURES is a romance, but this was one of the first lines in the manuscript, and it really spoke to me about what I wanted to convey.

“War was such a spiteful bitch; she took everything we loved and handed us back a folded flag in return, telling us the honor of their sacrifice was a just and equal payment. It wasn’t.”

That is a gorgeous and powerful line, filled with truth. What’s all your social media links to share with readers? 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaElizabethYarros
Twitter: @RebeccaYarros
Web: www.RebeccaElizabethYarros.com

Okay, so time for some fun questions about how you got your agent. Let’s start with an easy one. Who is your agent? 
Jamie Bodnar Drowley of Inklings Literary

I love Jamie to pieces! She is such a sweetheart and so easy to connect with. How did your agent phone call go? 
Jamie! Man, I love Jamie.  When she emailed me and asked for a time to call me, I squealed!  She’s a military wife too, so she completely understood when I asked her to wait until my kids were in bed to call.  Jason was flying, and hadn’t made it back to Fort Drum yet, so I was solo, and so nervous that I don’t think I ate a thing that day.  When she called with a 719 area code (my home town), I found out she used to live in Colorado Springs, too, and loved it, so I knew fate was giving me a high five.  She offered for AEOLIAN, my YA manuscript, and I waited the proper time for the other agent who had the manuscript to respond, but I knew I wanted Jamie before I even hung up the phone.  She’s not just the agent for my manuscripts, but my career, and I never doubt that she has my best interests at heart. I couldn’t imagine a better fit, and I’m ever grateful for her!

 Full Measures - final3 (3)

If you are interested in buying FULL MEASURES, here is the link! Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Measures-Entangled-Embrace-Rebecca-Yarros-ebook/dp/B00HY03FJM/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t

Book blurb:  

She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew he was dead.

Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to singlehandedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart.

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare.

Meet Molly Lee

Stopping by today is Molly Lee. She’s a fantastic author that I’ve connected with via twitter and found out through random chats we have SO. MUCH. IN. COMMON. I asked her to share her agent story and her secrets on writing.

MollyLee

Thanks for stopping by Molly. Starting with an easy question, who is your agent? 
The fantastic Jamie Bodnar Drowley of Inklings Literary Agency

I love Jamie to death! Tell us how you meet her? 
This is a long story, but I’ll give the short version 😉 I had signed with a previous agent a year prior to meeting Jamie, but that agent ended up becoming a NYT and International best seller with her NA novel and was unable to continue agenting. When I went on the hunt for a new agent who would love my novel as much as my previous, I was beyond nervous. Luckily, I had an amazing friend and critique partner, Rebecca Yarros, who referred me to Jamie and after a few exchanged emails, she read my manuscript and set up a call the next week!

Wow! To be agented and have to go back out into the querying world again must be terrifying. Sounds like your CP made a great recommendation. This is one of my favorite topics. Please share with us your agent phone call story. 
Jamie called me shortly after she read my full and I was beyond ecstatic. She’d known and worked with my previous agent so they had similar reading tastes, so that put me at ease a little, and the fact that she represented my good friend was also comforting. I had just had my first baby only three weeks prior to this phone call, so I had to adjust a time I thought she’d be sleeping in order to speak with Jamie sans crying. Of course life doesn’t work that way. Little Lexi woke up just as Jamie called, luckily my husband entertained her upstairs so I could carry on a conversation. Jamie was amazing! We talked like we knew each other already–she’s a military spouse too and has three kids of her own–and we talked about our love for a manuscript we’d both read by friend. Then she told me how much she loved JUDGES–my YA Paranormal Romance–and offered me representation! I couldn’t believe it! I had a few other fulls out with other agents at the time, but I knew I was signing with Jamie before we hung up the phone. She understood my story and, even though the market is saturated right now, she still believed in it! I accepted her offer after informing the other agents of my decision, and thanked God for my luck of not having to dive into the query trenches again.

What an amazing feeling to know right away you’ve landed your dream agent. Is JUDGES out for submission or has it been purchased by a publisher? 
We went through an extensive round of edits on my MS and will be going out on submission soon!

Oh how exciting and nerve wracking to know JUDGES is about to go on submission. I have my fingers crossed for you. Having gone through the agenting process and obviously have a love for writing. What advice can you share with other writers hoping to get where you are? 
My advice would be to read in the genre you are currently writing in! The more you read, the better writer you become. The same goes with critiquing–find a good group of trusted critique partners and betas and trade MSs whenever possible. Through editing others work I’ve found weaknesses of my own. It is always easier to spot mistakes in a work you’re not as familiar with as your own and after doing this frequently, you’ll start to notice mistakes in your work and be able to correct for them. Also, never give up. If you’re serious about writing you have to understand it is a long, hard, road. One filled with rejections, lots of waiting, and bad reviews. It’s also filled with the amazing sensation of reaching readers too and finding people who love your work as much as you do. The key is being able to persevere as well as learn from constructive criticism. A good writer never stops learning.

I think you hit the nail on the head with your advice. Let’s talk about support. Can you identify an entity that you feel supported you outside of family members? 
My trusted group of critique partners and beta readers. I wouldn’t be anywhere without them. They give me the cut and dry critiques I need to see what isn’t working in my books. Of course they give me instances on what is working, but what helps me make the book better is seeing what needs fixed. And they do it knowing that I’m not going to take it personally. Getting critiqued and having people show you the major plot-holes in your work is part of the process and being able to learn and adjust for it is an important role. Having the people who will actually be honest with you and not sugarcoat anything is also important, because honest critiques are the only way we learn. Without these people, I wouldn’t have a solid novel, or an agent to speak of.

I don’t know what I would do without my critique partners and beta readers. Give us a taste of what you’re working on.  
As of right now I have my YA Paranormal Romance, JUDGES–where a 17 year old Harley Locke is Called to be one of God’s Judges and finds herself facing, demons, a malicious cult, and a life-threatening romance with her mentor. We’re about to go on sub with that and then I have a Contemporary NA novel, EDGE OF CHAOS, in the early stages right now. Think sexy storm chasers and overbearing boyfriends. I’m excited to see where both will go.

For the record, JUDGES sounds amazing and EDGE OF CHAOS — you had me at sexy storm chasers! Here’s a tough question for you. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 
This is an easy answer for me. Kimberly Derting. She’s the author of the YA books THE BODY FINDER series and THE PLEDGE series. This was easy because in the beginning of my career, after reading the first Body Finder book, I contacted Derting on Goodreads. I sent her a message, telling her how much I loved her book and why, and then went ahead and asked some writerly questions. I honestly didn’t expect an answer, a bestselling author’s life is busy I imagine, but she did respond. And it was amazing. She opened up and offered me all kinds of advice on the business side of being an author and encouraged my aspirations. Furthermore, she gave me her personal email and an open invitation to ask questions throughout my process. We exchanged many, and she was one of the first people I emailed when I signed with my agent, and her congratulations paired with the hopes to see my book on the shelf soon was beyond surreal. I still can’t believe how lucky I am to have that kind of connection and the advice and encouragement she offered me has been invaluable.

That’s amazing to receive feedback from a bestselling author. Proof that you never know until you try! Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
I’ve been writing all my life. I know that is the typical answer, but it’s true. The first story I can actually remember writing was in Kindergarten. The plot was about three ice cream cones who travel the world. Strawberry and chocolate never got along. And the moment I knew I wanted to be an author was in second grade. Our teacher had us write a story, anything we could imagine. We did three mock ups before making it a final project where she gave us blank hard back books that we could write the story in and illustrate it ourselves. My book was called A CROP OF ALIENS FOR ALEXANDRA and was about a little girl who plants some seeds in her garden that she received from a stranger (I know, tsk tsk on not thinking of stranger danger, but what can I say? My MC was a rebel lol) When the seeds grew they ended up blooming aliens. Friendly aliens who’d been trapped in those seeds by a malicious witch and the MC helps them return home–except one stays behind, a male alien named Chiller. They lived happily ever after. Now, my illustrations were horrible! I envy those who can draw, but the thrill of creating characters and an adventure from nothing was in my blood from the second I completed that story, and I’ve been writing ever since.

I love hearing authors talk about their first stories. A CROP OF ALIENS FOR ALEXANDRA sounds so cool. Who knows, maybe it can become a PB. Wouldn’t that be amazing. Okay, what are all your social media links that I can share with everyone? 
Twitter: @mollyelee
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/MollyElizabethLeeAuthor
Blog:  www.mollyelizabethlee.blogspot.com

Meet A. J. Pine

Today I’m interviewing the fantastic A. J. Pine, whose debut novel If Only releases from Entangled Embrace on March 24th. If you aren’t already, be sure to follow her on all her social media accounts below. I met her through twitter, and I have to say, she’s an amazing person to call friend.

A.J. Pine

 

What inspired you to write your first book? 
First and foremost—reading. The power of a good book is a magical thing, and I’d always wondered if I had it in me to recreate what books did for me. To be more specific, I would not have written my first book without my critique partner, Lex. I had written my chapter one and then sat on it for a year. When I found out Lex was writing too, I suggested we trade. And just like that, we started trading pages every two weeks—like the rawest of the raw first draft pages—and it took off from there. Her critique mixed with margin love notes was always the best to wake up to on a Saturday morning after our Friday swaps.

Do you have a specific writing style? 
I’ve written three books, and all are first-person pov from the female perspective. I’m branching out a bit on book four right now. Still first-person, but it’s pov, guy and girl. I have another book idea on the back burner that I started in third-person. I’ve found my comfort zone but definitely want to change it up as I go.

How did you come up with the title? 
My March NA debut is titled IF ONLY. I guess there are a lot of “If only this…” type moments in the book, things that if they could have gone another way, the characters could have avoided a lot of angst. But where would be the fun in that? You can’t have a happily ever after on page one, so I torture my characters a lot. They have to earn their happiness. *Insert maniacal laugh*

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
IF ONLY is NA contemporary romance, so the love story is a big part of it. For a long time my mc, Jordan, thinks she has to live a certain way in order to be happy, but that way isn’t her way. For the first half of her college career, she has lived vicariously through others, and the book gives her a chance to figure out how to take charge of her own happiness, not just in love but in where she wants her life to go beyond college.

How much of the book is realistic? 
All of it? Haha. I mean, I made it up, but it could happen.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 
Hmmm, how much do I divulge here? Jordan spends her junior year of college abroad in Scotland. I may have done the exact same thing. While everyone and everything in the book is complete fiction (okay, maybe I did sign up for a Shakespearean comedy class because I saw a certain guy’s name on the roster), I definitely drew from my experience to come up with Jordan’s. But the book is all hers.

What books have most influenced your life most? 
Different books influence me in different ways, but I pay homage to three of my favorite classic pieces of literature in If Only. The Great Gatsby is the novel I read in high school that knocked the wind out of me, that showed me how books could gut me emotionally. So I made that book something special for one of my characters. I fell in love with British Literature in college, so I used two of my favs as frameworks for the story—E.M. Forster’s A Room With a View and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Honestly—my critique partners. I learn from them every time I read their work and every time they read mine.

What book are you reading now? 
Ooh, this one’s fun. I’m reading Pride and Prejudice because I’m teaching it. I’m reading Stina Lindenblatt’s new adult novel, Tell Me When, on my phone. When I’m in the car, I’m listening to Kresley Cole’s young adult fantasy, Poison Princess. And I’m always in the middle of beta reading or cp-ing a manuscript for a writer friend. I may have time management issues.

What are your current projects? 
I’m working on If Only’s sequel right now. Well, I will when I finish this interview.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. 
Just one? Ok, a lot of people fall under this one—the fabulous writing community I’ve found on Twitter.

Do you see writing as a career? 
YES. I mean, I hope so! A lot of good happened for me and this whole writing journey in 2013. I sure as hell hope it grows from here. But even if writing isn’t paying the bills, it’s something I won’t stop doing. I can’t. I’m absolutely my happiest when I’m drafting. Yes, that ugly, shitty, crappy first draft—that’s my FAVORITE thing to do, which means I write for me first. It fills a space that would be empty and sad and probably overflowing with chocolate covered espresso beans without it.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 
More kilts. Because Scotland.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? 
So, I’m still waiting on approval for my back cover blurb. As soon as that’s in, I’ll maybe update you all in the comments section. Right now I’ll just say that If Only follows Jordan Brooks, a twenty-year-old girl from Illinois, on her year abroad at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Jordan’s a planner, the type of girl that is careful with everything, but all careful has gotten her is two years of being single and living vicariously through her roommate. So, planner that she is, Jordan sets out to act against her normal instinct, to throw caution to the wind and just have fun on this experience that comes with an expiration date. She’s done waiting for love and ready to have fun. So of COURSE she meets the perfect guy, another American studying abroad. The only part that’s not perfect? He came to Aberdeen with his girlfriend from home.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
Confidence. It doesn’t matter what stage of the game you are in—agented/unagented, published/not published. I’m speaking for myself, of course, and pub date isn’t until March, but ugh. When I send pages to my CPs, I always preface the email with, “I hope it doesn’t suck. I’m gonna go vom.” I tone down the melodrama with my agent and editors, but it’s still there internally. Haha.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
Eeek. I don’t want to pick favorites in my own category. But I read a LOT of YA too and fangirl hard for so many writers. I mean, I want to write subtle, lyrical fantasy like Maggie Stiefvater or knock me on my ass urban fantasy like Laini Taylor. Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road was pretty much life-changing in the gorgeous way it unfolded to tell one of the best stories of love I’ve ever read. I’d be honored if my book gave at least one reader the type of book hangover I had after finishing Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. I’d love to create contemporary romance like Gayle Forman, books that make me sob and fill my heart. Or to capture the giddiness and angst of falling in love with the wrong person at the wrong time like Stephanie Perkins does with Anna and Lola (hint…If Only deals with this issue).  Every book I love fills my soul as a reader and mentors me as a writer.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? 
Um…I want to. I hope I pulled off enough Scotland from my memory (and Google). But I have a YA mythology-based fantasy idea that just needs to be set in Paris, which means I need to go to Paris, right? I’ve never been!

Who designed the cover? 
Jessica Cantor from Entangled Embrace.
if only

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Drafting, for me, is the easiest part. Editing has been fantastic because the book has grown so much, but it’s also the biggest challenge. Working in new ideas, deepening character development, getting rid of a chapter or adding another—all on a deadline—it’s all arse-kickingly difficult, but I also love the pressure of a due date. Makes it a lot harder to procrastinate.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? 
That I am not a pantser. The first book I wrote, a YA dystopian that is all snuggled in a folder on my laptop, was 100% pantsed. I still love the story but know that if I ever want to pull it out of storage and try to publish it that I will have to do some major editing for pacing (among other things). Now I use beat-sheeting, and omg where has this amazing tool been all my life? *pets Save The Cat book*

Do you have any advice for other writers? 
Find yourself some loving, trusted, honest critique partners with the same dirty sense of humor you have. I can’t write without mine.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
I hope it doesn’t suck. I’m gonna go vom. Wait! No! Not that! I meant to say THANK YOU. You are the reason I get to keep doing what I love. I hope you find something to love in Scotland, in Jordan’s story, in falling in love when she falls in love, in watching her heart break and slowly piece itself back together. I’m just beyond grateful that I get to share this with more than the five to seven people who’ve already read it. Oh, and mom and dad (and all other blood relatives), if you could forget that you know me when you read the sex scenes, that would be fantastic.

Do you have a favorite line one of your characters says in your book? 
“Pussy lightweight!” Hahaha! And that’s all I’m going to tell you about that!

Is your book out for submission or has it been purchased by a publisher? 
If Only is slated for release with Entangled’s Embrace line on March 24th!

What’s all your social media links to share with readers? Twitter, FB Fanpage, website
Twitter: @AJ_Pine
Facebook: AJ Pine-Author
Website: AJPine.com
Tumblr: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/ajpine (No laughing at my lack of tumblring skills)
Entangled Author Page

Who is your agent? 
Courtney Miller-Callihan of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.

 How did you meet your agent? 
Twitter! She favorite my #PitMad pitch, and the rest is history. Well, ok, it didn’t happen that fast, but about ten weeks after she favorite the pitch, we lived happily ever after.

What’s your agent phone call story? 
I kind of love this story. I got the email from Courtney asking if she could call me while I was sitting in Cheers in Boston. I was out of town for a conference (I’m from Chicago), and when Courtney called I was in a hotel room (the wrong one and I ended up moving rooms while on the phone with her…don’t ask), everything still in my suitcase, which meant no laptop and no notes as far as what to ask/say when you are having THE call. Courtney was fabulous. She answered every question I thought to ask and many I should have asked but was too nervous to come up with. She was personable, funny, professional—everything I’d already seen from her on Twitter. And she loved my book and my writing. Plus, after we hung up and I remembered a hundred more questions, she fielded my emails for the next several days. I had no doubts when I officially accepted her offer, and I’m so excited to see what 2014 brings now that we are working together.

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