Interview: Cait of @PaperFury

Today I am delighted to host one of my favorite bloggers of the vast internet, Cait of Paper Fury! She is an Aussie word ninja and lover of chocolate in addition to being a fantastic authority on all things in current bookish affairs!

Hello Cait! Thanks for stopping by. What first got you to start Paper Fury?

I actually had no idea at all of ever what a blog even was when I started! But my older sister convinced me that I needed one and, well, you DO what your older sister says, okay?! Safety first. I started out blogging with my little sister (I have far too many sisters apparently) about our month-long adventure in China and then she wandered off and it turned into a sole endeavor by me called Paper Fury: an entire blog dedicated to books. Because really, what else is there in life. (Well, apart from cake obviously.)

(Older sisters always know best. Speaking as one, I can confirm. 😉 )How has being a fiction writer influenced your blogging?

I blog so insanely differently to how I write that the two are like opposite worlds for me! However, blogging has definitely influenced my writing. Since I started sneaking about with the bookworms, I’ve taken notes on: what’s popular in YA, what topics readers are shouting for, what’s not being written about, and exactly how much cake people want in their books. (Spoiler: lots of it.) So blogging is definitely an amazing help to my writing career.

Hanging out with the cool kids sure can’t hurt. Have you ever gotten to meet any of your favorite authors?

No, sadly! All my most favourite authors are American and I live in Australia. And while I’d love to meet incredible Aussie authors like Jay Kristoff, Steph Bowe, Amie Kaufman, and Claire Zorn…I’m never close enough to the right cities! I shall just sit here and pout quietly and glare at the teeny tiny country town I live in.

🙁 Former small town girl here knows your pain. It really seems like you have to live in a booming metropolis.What is your dream job from any book you’ve read?

I would not say not to working in a bookstore with Sam and Grace out of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater. Or if there’s an opening for dragon queen, I’ll take that too. I can do both? Bookstores on the weekends. Slaying evil on weekdays. Multitasking like a boss.

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OH YES! I think we would all gladly play third wheel to Sam and Grace’s perfect romance! <3 How (if at all) do you think the bookish community in Australia differs from say, the US or the UK?

I’m honestly the kind of bookworm who frolics about in both communities so much they’ve all merged for me! I do think we Aussie bloggers tend to spend most of our conversations on twitter making fun of each other. Like the kind good souls we are. ‘STRAYA MATE. Friendly and relaxed.

Hehehe…it’s good you keep each other humble. Countries in books you’d like to visit? (Real or imagined.)

  • Paris because croissants and coffee and all the old famous authors used to go there.
  • Thisby from The Scorpio Races and not just for the November cakes…like it sounds all Irish and beautiful and full of deathly water horses and…November cake.
  • Red London from A Darker Shade of Magic, because I’m 67% sure I’d make a fabulous magician if I didn’t fall on my face and embarrass myself first.
  • Narnia, and I keep checking my wardrobe. It’s bound to let me through soon, right???

I’m strongly reminded you’re a Stiefvater fangirl and NARNIA ALL THE WAY. Favorite part of being a blogger/writer so far?

CREATIVITY. I absolutely adore creating worlds as a writer, or creating art as a blogger. And the amount of epic people I’ve met who are just as obsessed about books as I am?!? It’s marvelous. It’s also extremely satisfying to create a little bloggish kingdom out of nothing and gather the nerds to you so you can all flail together. MY PEOPLE.

Thanks so much for having me, Elisabeth!

The creativity really is a massive bonus and thank YOU again for stopping by! 

About Cait:

I am Cait. But I also respond to “your majesty” and “ruler of all”.

I read quite furiously and have been known to swallow whole books before breakfast. I’m taking over the world. It’s happening. JUST YOU WAIT. I also write and plan to be a famous author. Currently my stories are about sad characters with cake deficiencies. I’ve written 16 miserable manuscripts and someday you will read them all and either a) proclaim my genius, b) weep, or c) feel driven to eat cake.

I live in Australia. I’m 21. I’m agented by Polly Nolan of Greenhouse Literary Agency.

I make origami things and sell them. I love superheroes and comics. I read anything and everything YA. I’m 5’1. I play cello. I’m a very intense obsessive fangirl. My brain is extremely hyper but I am extremely shy. My bookshelves are arranged by colour. Humans make me anxious. I’m in love with my Nikon D300. My puppy’s name is Atticus. I like to zentangle. Cake is life.

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Interview: H.O. Charles, author of The Fireblade Array @HOCharles

Today it is my pleasure to host one of the hidden gems of self-publishing, H.O. Charles! Charles’s epic fantasy romance series (and by epic, I mean it spans multiple centuries and lifetimes) is one of my favorites and I’m delighted to be hosting the insanely talented creator!

How did you get the idea for The Fireblade Array?

I’m not sure, really. It was years ago, and I used to make up stories in my head to amuse myself on dull train journeys. I like the idea of another universe that has some similarities to this one, but then I want to add in what’s missing in this world. Why is X so unfair, why do we have to suffer Y, and why must we be limited by Z? But as you know, we can’t have everything good all the time – the human psyche just isn’t wired that way. Angst and trials are entertaining to us – to me! So as soon as you start conjuring amazing powers and piecing together beautiful places in your head, you know there has to be some sort of balance – a price, if you will.

So for example, people in The Fireblade Array are very nearly immortal, but can you imagine how overpopulated our world would become if that were true? There has to be a correcting mechanism or mechanisms in there because of the way The Darkworld was formed (you discover some of the history behind this in Book 6), and the balancing mechanisms you see in my books pretty much wrote themselves. Interestingly, and while looking into mortality, I discovered that if we were no longer susceptible to disease or age in this world, we would still *only* have an average life expectancy of 1,200 years. This is because we are so accident-prone and (to a lesser extent) given to murdering one another. (Ref: Finch, C. 1990, Longevity, Senescence, and the Genome) Isn’t that fascinating?

If you broke the ideas in the series into their constituent parts, you’d probably find that they’re a Frankenstein’s monster of bits and pieces from Western literature, film, TV and even video games. I get a great deal of enjoyment reading nineteenth century novels as well as modern, but it would be wrong to discount the huge influence gaming and film have. Games, in particular, are another fantastic modern-day mode of storytelling. The Bioshock series blew me away. Books and games each offer something the other does not have, and they both activate that creative bit of the brain. I think everything an author sees and reads and consumes ends up being churned up and spat out in their writing one way or another (sorry, that’s not very nice imagery, is it?! I’m in Mirel mode. Radiated might have been better there). I radiate all that I consume. Haha. Hmm. Okay, onto the next one before I start to sound like an hubristic narcissist!

Fantasy backed by scientific articles! I love it. The Fireblade Array has a very unique format in that it’s more of an epic chronicle than a stereotypical narrative. What inspired you to write that way?

I wanted the story to be told from different points of view. I cannot claim credit for it, as it’s fairly standard practice in the fantasy genre (Robert Jordan, GRRM both do it, as do others I cannot remember offhand). It made the most sense to me, and I knew the story would be a long one. I can do single-point narrative, but I find I become bored easily. I also REALLY enjoy cliffhangers. << laughs wickedly >>

I know you love cliffhangers, you wretched goblin. *glares* What made you decide to become an indie author?

Haha. You mean, why didn’t I get a big-name publisher?! I tried a couple, but I started young and for whatever reason (I’m not bitter. Nope) I wasn’t picked out of the pile. I took it personally (I shouldn’t have), but I don’t feel I’ve missed out. The world is different now. The big publishers still have their finger in the publicity pie, and enough budget to hire powerful literary PR agencies, but the book world is a much more heterogeneous place compared to that of ten years ago. Yes, there’s some dross out there (there was before, let’s be honest), but it’s better for readers now. Back in 2010, I stumbled upon a very amateurish book on Smashwords, and thought (as we often do) “I can do better than that!” and decided to have a go. I always hoped my books would do well, but I never expected to leave my job/PhD and make a living out of it. Really, I just wrote and published because I loved creating the stories. Still do!!

Yeah…publishers can be like that. But good for you! How did you pick your penname? Do you feel it has allowed you more creative freedom?

YES. I picked the penname because I thought it sounded like the typical, middle-aged, bearded dude that writes fantasy (I think it’s some sort of uniform that you have to adopt once you get signed to a major contract). Is that who I am?! I’ll leave that up to your imagination, but YES, YES and YES, it has given me huge creative freedom. I am seriously self-conscious about anything I do, and I was scared of having my friends cut and paste romantic scenes from the books onto my Facebook page for laughs (they would do this, srsly), so I made my own little secret world where I could write anything I bloody well liked. “Write like everyone you know is dead,” they say (I cannot find the source for that quotation) – well, instead I killed me and invented a person too new to know anyone.

I still haven’t ‘come out’ to most of them about my penname. I’m working up to it…

You have to do what you’re comfortable with. Your three favorite characters to write and why?

Silar – for teh swearz

Morghiad – if I said here, I would spoil the next book…

Mirel – because she’s just so wicked!

Personally, Morghiad is my favorite. <3 (And not just because he’s dreamy, I swear.) What’s a story idea that’s come to you recently?

What? Give away all my hugely lucrative ideas on your blog?! Okay then! I started writing both a prequel and a spin-off to the series a while back. I hope to finish those within a reasonable time frame.

I have some other ideas that are still in development stage. One will be an historical fiction-type-adventure thing. With a ton of romance. Mustn’t forget that. I also want to do a near-future dystopia one (think Charlie Brooker/Black Mirror), but I don’t have time just yet!

YES for the romaction! How would you describe yourself in three fictional characters?

My own characters are basically me if I were significantly better-looking and braver and cooler. Take Silar, Artemi and Morghiad, and stir them all in a pot. Something like me will come out of it. Probably. Maybe a bit more evil Ambrose from Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. And possibly some Emma Woodhouse from Austin. Sorry, that’s more than three, isn’t it? See? That’s why I added evil/scheming characters, because they don’t like doing things the proper way.

Pieces of yourself to each? Hmm…that’s either great or concerning. Your favorite online haunts and links?

Ooh. I’m going to be really boring and say I don’t go anywhere exciting online at the moment. Aside from the news, Wikipedia, checking my own reviews (I know, I need to STOP doing that) and the usual social media pages… there’s not a whole lot online these days that I have time to wander around. If you know of any good places, do tell me though.

Thank you so much for stopping by! Here’s to the best of luck and looking forward to Fall of Blaze! 🙂

H.O. Charles was born in Northern England, but now resides in a beige house in Suffolk.

Charles has spent many years at various academic institutions, and really ought to get on with writing a PhD, but frequently becomes distracted by writing fantasy fiction instead.

Hobbies include being in the sea, being by the sea and eating things that come out of the sea.

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Interview: Brianna Merritt @bgmwriting

Today I have invited a creative young authoress, gearing up to publish her very first masterpiece! So leave a comment to say hi and don’t forget to check out her links at the end!

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Brianna Merritt is a dragon-loving, tea-addicted writer who loves to share the joy of adventure and grace of redemption through her writing. 

From an early age she fell in love with all things literary and the journey from reader to writer followed. With the help of One Year Adventure Novel, Brianna finished her first novel in 2012. After years of rewriting and editing, her debut novel is almost ready. Keep watch for My Eyes, the first book in the Archangel Trilogy. 

As well as writing, Brianna enjoys dancing and currently teaches Ballet and Jazz dance in Virginia where she lives with her family.

Brianna writes Christian Speculative Fiction and Fantasy for teens and young adult readers.

Hi Brianna! Thanks for stopping by. What can you tell us about the Archangel Trilogy?

The Archangel Trilogy began in my head as a very different story when I started writing it in 2012 then what I finished this year. I created the main character, Quinn Rogers, and let her have free run with the story world and plot. Little did I know what was going to happen!

In My Eyes, book one of the trilogy, a little bit of Quinn’s backstory is told leading up to her change of occupation from a sniper in the British Army to an international assassin. Haunted by her past, she quickly becomes the best recruit Rourke Andres, a master assassin and terrorist, has ever trained. Quinn is his prodigy—his legacy—and Rourke will do everything in his power to keep her that way.

As a merciless assassin, Quinn has never known anything other than heartlessness and death. Known as “The Archangel”, there is nothing she cannot—or will not—do for her mentor. But when she kidnaps a young man during an assignment as a means to escape the FBI, Quinn does not realize the spiritual forces at work.

Her hostage, Nathan, is a Christian who shows a kind of love the assassin cannot begin to fathom. On the run from the law, the two form an unlikely bond that soon has Quinn questioning everything she has held true and right.

Caught in the conflict between God’s forgiving love and a life full of hatred and pain, she must learn to relinquish control in order to protect the lives of those she cares about. 

Until book one gets published that’s all I can tell you about the trilogy. But I will tell you that I am super excited to share the rest of Quinn Rogers’ story with my readers. The wild adventure is only just beginning!

Definitely a new kind of Christian thriller! Can you tell us what first got you into writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but my love of reading and immersing myself into the story world of my favorite characters was probably what gave me that final push into crazy author mode. I can vividly remember when I was younger asking any new friends I made if they wanted to write a book with me. Everybody wanted to, but we never really made it past the first few chapters. A really good friend of mine worked with me for a while on a story about dragon ninjas (fun fact: our villain in the story was based off of Ursula from The Little Mermaid) for a couple of years but never finished it. It wasn’t until I found One Year Adventure Novel, a homeschool writing curriculum, that I was able to type “the end” on a project. Since then I have known that I want to be an author and share my love of good stories, great characters, and lasting friendships between reader and fictional character.  

I know lots of homeschool authors have immensely benefited from the One Year Adventure Novel. What has been your favorite part of the online writing community thus far? Least favorite?

My favorite part would have to be making new friends and connections. Not only did I meet my editor on Twitter, but I have had more support from my Twitter followers than some of my real life friends, which is wonderful! The retweets, likes, and comments make me want to keep going. Hearing from other authors about what they are going through is always an encouragement because it tells you that no one is ever alone. A very important part of the writing process because us authors are usually introverted hermits. ☺

My least favorite part about the online community would probably have to be the fact that it’s hard to build a following. You really have to work to be consistent in tweeting or posting and that takes away from writing time. But all in all I think the pros outweigh the cons any day!

Being indie can be hard work, yes. But worth it! Have you ever gotten to meet any of your favorite authors? What happened? If not, who would you like to meet?

I have! Chuck Black, author of The Kingdom Series, War of the Realms, and The Knights of Arrethrea, has been at several homeschool conventions I have gone to and it’s always great seeing him and his family and connecting for a bit. I think most, if not all, of the books I have bought from him are autographed.

Jill Williamson was awesome to meet as well! She came to speak at a writing workshop I was at and her lectures were super inspiring for young writers and the fantasy genre. I love her books and wonderful personality!

In addition, I have also met Tosca Lee (Demon: a memoir), Kerry Nietz (Amish Vampires in Space), Amy Brock Mcnew (Rebirth), J. S. Bailey (Rage’s Echo), and Nadine Brandes (A Time To Die).

If I could them, I would love to sit down and have coffee with Donita K. Paul, Sarah J. Maas, and Wayne Thomas Batson. They are all authors of epic fantasy series and I think picking their brain for advice and ideas would be a dream come true!

I have read Chuck Black and OH MY GOSH JILL WILLIAMSON. I am so jealous. But back to you, how will you know when you’ve “made it” as an author?

When my mom says I don’t have to go to school and I can just write! xD Okay, not really. Probably when someone asks me for an autograph or tells me that my story and characters really changed them or helped them through a time in their lives. There are countless books and authors who have helped get me through hard times in my life and I would love for one of my books to someday do that for someone. That’s when I think I will know I’ve made it.

That’s a great goal to have. If you could bring one thing to life from the Archangel Trilogy, what would it be?

Quinn Rogers!

I would totally want my main character to be alive. She would have some crazy ideas to help with my writing, not to mention day-to-day life would suddenly become very interesting. I would probably end up a fugitive. But c’est la vie, right?

Sometimes, that’s just the way it is. 😉 Team Hardcopies or Team eBooks?

Definitely Hardcopies. I like the idea of having thousands of books on one device, but it just isn’t the same as holding something in your hands. I love the smell of books; Kindles just don’t smell the same.

True, true. Though in a dorm, I don’t have much choice. 🙁 What for you is the “most wonderful time of the year”?

Oh, tough question. I’m from Oklahoma so I am used to 100+ degree summers and ice-cold winters all the while enduring 90 mph wind so my “most wonderful time of the year” used to be those five or six days of perfect weather where Spring and Fall were supposed to be. But my family and I moved to Virginia a year ago so I’m starting to see that there are actually seasons beyond too hot and too cold! All that considered I would have to say anytime I can sit outside and not get overheated or chilly while I write and drink a nice cup of Chai tea. September and October are great months for that (especially since my birthday is in September and Halloween is at the end of October).

At least you HAVE winters unlike in Texas, LOL. Stock up on that Chai and thanks again for visiting! Best of luck in all your writerly endeavors.

Find Brianna in all these places: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Interview: Intisar Khanani @booksbyintisar

Years ago, I came across a Kindle free promo for a book called Thorn. It looked cool and, well, FREE, so I went ahead and made my first venture into eBooks. Guess what? It was awesome. Not long after, I started talking to the author and found out she was awesome. To prove it, I’ve asked her to drop by for an interview today and show you all herself!

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Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters.

thorn_coverfnlrevfnlf_low_resWelcome, Intisar! It’s been a while. Can you tell us a little about your latest release, Memories of Ash?

Memories of Ash starts up a year after Sunbolt ends, once Hitomi has had a chance to recover from what she did to herself (trying to be spoiler-free here) and study some magic with her new mentor, Brigit Stormwind. But our pasts don’t tend to leave us alone, and Hitomi’s past comes back with a vengeance when Stormwind is called before the High Council of Mages to answer charges of treason—charges brought forward by none other than Hitomi’s old nemesis, Arch Mage Blackflame. With Hitomi’s fine-tuned sense of honor she isn’t about to let her teacher be unjustly imprisoned, and thus begins her next adventure. Using equal parts magic and trickery, Hitomi must sneak into the seat of the High Council itself to free her mentor. If she succeeds, she’ll spend the rest of her life running from rogue hunters. If she fails, she’ll be enslaved by the Council and slowly drained of her magic until she dies.

Yes, DO go check this one out guys. What’s the weirdest thing you researched for this book?

Not too many truly weird things, but I did research some fun things! I learned about the eastern method of tattooing called tebori. I researched the basic structure and design of historic row boats in South Asia, and then ended up cutting that chapter (*sob*). And by far the most fun, I researched the Festival of Guilds, a three day celebration that used to take place annually in Ottoman-era Istanbul, complete with parades, sporting competitions, theatre, street performances, and “the burning of the fortresses” (massive wooden models)… pretty much all of which made it into the book!

One of my favorite things about your books is you bring a massive array of cultural influences from this world while still making it unique to your fantasy worlds—something I don’t believe many writers do well. Is there a particular approach you take to writing diversity?

My approach to writing diversity is to pull from world cultures I am somewhat familiar with and then research the heck out of them in order to gain a deeper familiarity with the culture and place. If possible I talk to people from the cultures I’m writing, if not I do my best and figure a little error is allowable given that it’s a fantasy land. For example, in Memories of Ash, the great city that Hitomi visits is based on historic Ottoman Istanbul. I read first-hand historic accounts from visitors to the city, pulled on my own memories of visiting the old parts of Istanbul, and then spoke with Turkish friends to both name the city and act as a sounding board for some of the details. The city itself plays a relatively small role in the story, but having a sense of culture, gender norms, architecture, food—all of these create a more robust world. Of course I took licenses, but usually they were relatively minor and related to introducing magic to the world. So, I replaced the great government-run universities with the Mekteb-e Sihir, or School of Sorcery. I think the biggest road block for me was learning to get past the euro-centric worldview of most fantasy. Once I was able to envision a world with different cultures, and characters who were from those cultures, writing diversity suddenly became twelve kinds of awesome.

I am constantly boggled by your depth of research. Do you have any advice for authors wanting to incorporate more diversity into their stories?

sunbolt_cover_e-small1. Diversity = Complex Realities. I think in writing diversity it is vital to remember how complex the world is and how wonderful that diversity of experience and reality really is. Writing characters of diverse backgrounds and experiences is going to change your story, create new nuances and depths of meaning to interactions, and that’s a beautiful thing. And remember diversity implies many things, and the intersection of those things as well—gender, age, culture, mental health, ability, religion, and on… Red alert: if the culture or background of your character doesn’t impact the story, you haven’t quite got a grasp on who they are yet. So, creating an African American cis/het male character who’s lived experience is exactly like a white character’s ignores the probability that he has seen and dealt with institutionalized racism since childhood. That doesn’t mean your book has to be all about racism—but realize that your story should not be whitewashing the background, culture, and lived experience of your characters.

2. Be respectful and learn without judgement. It’s really important to recognize that just because we don’t understand something in a culture, or like it, doesn’t mean we should be critiquing it in our work. Don’t like arranged marriage? Given that it isn’t part of our culture, maybe you don’t understand it. Either way, don’t write it (and the inevitable storyline of running away to seek freedom, or hoping the abusive husband dies an early death) until you’ve done a LOT of research on it, including talking to people who have chosen arranged marriages and reading first hand positive accounts. It’s always easy to find the negative perspective on something, especially something generally misunderstood in the West, so seek out those alternative viewpoints. If you absolutely must write the running away/abusive husband slant, don’t base that story in another culture, because you’re going to end up adding to bigoted stereotypes that people from that culture have to live with every day. It’s both disrespectful and hurtful. OR, make sure your main character has a totally different, positive experience and grant this negative experience to a side character, so that you can explore (and allow readers to appreciate) both the good and the bad.

3. Don’t cherry pick. Don’t jump onto the bandwagon of “Jinn are cool!” or whatever happens to be the next craze, or try to create your own, while only importing that particular element into your story. For example, if you’re writing about Native American mythology, you’d better have some Native American characters, and the one who saves the day or ends up being the Chosen One by the spirits better not be the white character. Then follow points one and two above—so you don’t just have people with, say, Native American names, but you’ve figured out / researched what tribe(s) they’re from, their belief system(s), their history under American governance (or oppression), and their cultural norms. Sure they know how to navigate American / white culture, but that doesn’t mean they don’t also know how to navigate and love their own heritage, culture, and practices. Throwing in a few names and stealing a mythology is cultural appropriation, not writing diversity, so be thoughtful about what you do, and try hard. It’s okay to mess up, but you’ve got to be trying to make it work. Not sure if you’ve done well? Seek out beta readers from the backgrounds you’re trying to portray and ask them.

moa_fc_fnl16_bn-673x1024Great advice! I’m going to have to ask you back for a blog post just on that, LOL. What is your writing routine? Do you have a regular one?

I write almost every night, once my little people are in bed. Since I’m a homeschooling mama, I usually only have a couple times during the week when both my kids are out of my care and I can write in the daylight hours. The vast majority of my writing happens once they’re asleep. As for routine… I grab my laptop, sit down wherever I can (usually my bed, sometimes my desk), check-in on e-mail and social media (I try to keep this brief), and then get to work.

I do often manage to write online with friends—we check in on Facebook, log off for a writing session, and then check back in at the end of it. (Shout out to Melissa Sasina and you, Elisabeth, as awesome online writing buddies!) This helps keep me accountable and makes writing much less of a solitary endeavor. But when we don’t have a writing session planned, I really don’t have any rituals or habits other than to sit down and start typing.

Shout out back! What for you is the most rewarding part of being an author?

Sharing my stories. Really. Sometimes that sense of having shared comes from a tweet by a reader who enjoyed a book, sometimes it’s reading a new review that’s showed up, sometimes it’s just knowing that my books had a good day of sales and that means someone, somewhere in the world, is jumping into my worlds and (hopefully) enjoying the read.

That truly is an amazing part. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Writing one-draft wonders. I love writing, and I’m even learning not to hate editing, but the revision process is still the most difficult part of the whole equation. If I could just write a gem of a first draft each time, and not have to do more than tweak a few sentences for consistency before publishing, I would be the happiest little hamster in the cage. (I have no idea what that means. I think I would probably hate being in a cage, but it sounded good when I wrote it. Now we see why I need revision…) Most novels require between 4 and 6 rounds of revision for me, which can be grueling and sometimes take years. Meanwhile, the first draft may only take a couple three months. So yeah, being able to write awesome novels straight off would be fabulous.

Haha! We’d all love that, I think. Thanks so much for dropping by! 🙂

Don’t forget to visit Intisar and her books in the links below!

Interview: Elly Gard of The Spilled Inkwell

Today I am delighted to be hosting a young lady I have had the pleasure of knowing through the magic of the internet. I am incredibly proud of her despite having nothing to do with making her as amazing as she is. When I critiqued her manuscript, The Hidden Pharaoh, I nearly cried because she wrote twice as good as some adults I’ve workshopped and she was only 13 at the time. In other words, she’s going to be big, people. And now…let’s get to the interview!

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Elly Gard is a writer, an over-thinker, an inventor of words, a dreamer of improbable dreams, and a Catholic who strives to find God in little things. She is a senior in high-school, is, and has been homeschooled all her life. At heart, she loves rainstorms, but she lives in the desert with her parents, her brother, two dogs, and a cat who thinks she’s a Russian tsar. When she’s not conversing with her characters, indulging in her inkwell, spending time with her soundtracks, or adventuring with her associates, she could probably be located in her room nursing a novel. She possesses an undying fondness for all things Broadway, likes watching TV shows on Netflix that got cancelled ten years ago, prefers swing dancing to karaoke, and puts too much granola in her yogurt. You can read about her adventures on her blog, The Spilled Inkwell.

Welcome, Elly! What got you into writing?

A lot of things got me into writing! I’ve been thinking up stories since I was old enough to hold a crayon, and I think my family’s encouragement at that point was crucial to my passion growing into what it is now. Then, the stories usually involved talking animals; one time when I was seven my friend and I wrote a fairy tale about a girl who turned into a horse. Our moms had it printed out and laminated and we thought we were the next Mary Pope Osbournes!  When I was a little older, my parents encouraged me to enter a few of my stories and poems in 4-H contests, and I began attending a writing club at a local middle school. My teacher – Mr. Taylor – encouraged me to keep writing. During those years, I wrote stories and poems galore; eventually I had binders full of them.

But…I couldn’t write novels. Give me a prompt, and I could give you a ten-page suspense story. Give me a picture and I could summon up a purple-prosed poem. Tell me to write a book? I didn’t even know where to begin. Then, in 8th grade, my mom found a homeschool curriculum called One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN).  I wrote my first historical fiction novel (The Hidden Pharaoh) that year with the help of OYAN’s guidelines, outlining templates, and live webinars. Other students on OYAN’s online Forum both encouraged and critiqued my work, and that first year of the curriculum was invaluable. I’ve now written three novels and one novella. I intend on writing many more. 😉

Elly was awesome enough to send me this bound copy of THE HIDDEN PHARAOH! (That is not a stain on the cover. It is the lighting, I swear.)

I too wouldn’t have started writing without homeschooling. Cheers for supportive moms! What has been the highlight of your writing thus far?

Last year, my first fantasy novel (Of Lavron) placed as a finalist in the OYAN Contest. This really encouraged me to keep writing the series I’d previously viewed as an experiment. I’d only written historical fiction up until that point, but last fall I thought I’d give medieval fantasy a try. I ambitiously and very messily “plotted out” a fantasy trilogy and began writing the first book. I didn’t know if I’d actually accomplish that series, if my idea would stick, or if the story was even good; but I kept writing anyway. I’m so glad I did. I love writing the Lost Princes series, and even though I’m taking a break from Of Lavron’s sequel to edit my two-year-old NaNoWriMo monster (Riding in the Red), I look forward to continuing the series soon.

Yes, fantasy is the best! (Said the fantasy lover in a wholly unbiased way.) What genre(s) are your favorite to write/read?

I’m partial to historical fiction. It is my favorite genre to write, and it’s usually my favorite genre to read, too. (I also love BBC’s period dramas, and am rather a guru for history in general). Unfortunately, well-written his-fic doesn’t dominate the YA market right now, so you often have to dig to find the gems. Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, Ruta Sepetys’s Salt to the Sea, and Genevieve Valentine’s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club are some of my favorites.

Recently I’ve also found myself drawn toward fantasy. Last winter, I happened upon Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener, and it was so wonderful that it automatically had me searching for more whimsical fiction. Around the same time, I also became a fan of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles (if you haven’t read them, give them a try! I usually don’t prefer popular dystopian, but these are exemplary). Likewise, Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series has – in the past thirty days – enthralled and captivated me. I guess my favorite genre changes with the seasons. It’s a good way to keep myself well rounded.

It is always good to read a little outside your comfort zone now and again. (Maggie Stiefvater will ruin your life. Just FYI.) Have you ever gotten to meet any of your favorite authors? What happened? If not, who would you like to meet?

Well… I have met several people who became some of my favorite authors. For example, a lot of my friends are writers, and I think they write beautifully (@Elisabeth!). The OYAN Summer Workshop has allowed me to meet several authors (Jill Williamson!) whose Blood of Kings trilogy I later read and obsessed over.

Also, a lot of my favorite authors are dead. It’s rather unfortunate. I can’t tell you how much I’d love to have tea with C.S. Lewis and discuss theology with J.R.R. Tolkien. Victor Hugo would be cool to talk to if we could get past the language barrier.

If I could meet let’s say three of my favorite [currently living] authors, I’d really like to meet J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle), and Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity). I’d ask J.K. Rowling for advice on writing a theme-incorporated series, because I love how everything in Harry Potter leads up to The End. I’d ask Maggie Stiefvater how she writes her characters so beautifully, because I absolutely love how realistic and true they feel in her books. And, I would ask Elizabeth Wein how to successfully research a historical fiction novel and implement that history throughout the story so that it becomes an undeniable part of it.
Goodness, I feel like I’ve cheated all the other authors I admire. (I didn’t forget about you, Gail Carson Levine!)

Yes, I’m still jealous about you meeting Jill. 😛 What’s one thing people are surprised to learn about you?

People are really funny when I tell them I used to write ghost stories. They usually say something like, “Oh, Ellie, you’re so nice! I feel like you’d only write happy things.” At that point, I usually laugh it off so I can maintain my “nice person” façade.

I think I try to write redeeming things, but I don’t know if I’d call myself a happy-book writer. My books are usually rather melancholy in nature, and if they’re not that, they certainly aren’t sunshine and rainbows. It’s something I’m actually proud of. I’m a really happy person, but my alter ego could be considered vaguely morbid.

This world needs more redemption stories, in my opinion. What will let you know when you have “made it” as an author?

When I see something I wrote on the shelves of a book store, I think I’ll feel like I made it. In the larger scheme of things, I think that if I can look back on my life at the end of it and know that someone read my story and was moved by it, I’ll know that I’ve made it as an author.

Thank you so much for making the time to stop by, Elly!

Visit Elly on her blog

Interview: Tenaya Jayne @TenayaJayne

We haven’t had an interview in a while, but today I’m thrilled to welcome literary ninja Tenaya Jayne! I’m on her street team and I absolutely loved her debut novel, Forbidden Forest, which is free on Kindle Unlimited! You can read my review here and click on the book covers for the Amazon pages. Without further ado, Tenaya Jayne, everyone!

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Nationally Bestselling author Tenaya Jayne has always walked a shaky line between reality and fantasy. A nomad by nature, she’s lived all over the US, and now resides happily in the Midwest, with her husband and sons. She’s an advocate for Autism awareness and women trapped in abusive relationships, and feels everyone has too much pain to not enjoy an escape into a fictional fantasy world. Her passions include reading, independent and foreign films, cooking, and moody music.

forbforest-new-cover-smallFirst off, can you sum up the latest book, Blood Lock, in a tweet, 140 characters or less?

Nope. *insert helpless laugh. I suck at twitter.

Ha! We all have our weaknesses. Where did the initial idea for Forest and Regia come from? What story/experience/event do you think inspired the series most?

forest-fire-number-coverfix1My muse was being petulant. I was supposed to be writing a sequel to Blue Aspen, when Forest and Syrus took over my brain. You’re an author, you know what I mean. I think I needed Forest. She came to me and gave me an outlet and voice for a number of things I’d been going through. The night she fell into my head, it all happened so fast. I built Regia from the ground up in a few, adrenaline filled, hours. I had no idea, at the time, Regia would be my whole writing life for the following six years.

darksoulcoversmallI do know what you mean. Characters really can help us work through tough times and I know many of mine have done that for me, too. What does your typical writing day look like?

I drop my son off at school, hit the gym for an hour, head home, shower and then write. I write a few hours and then my alarm goes off, letting me know I have 15 minutes before I have to leave and pick up my son from school.  I have to drive 20 minutes to the school, but that suits me fine because I always do my best brainstorming while I’m driving.

I find that driving, and being on the treadmill are the best things to get my head in the right place for when I actually get to sit and hit the keys. I don’t work on the weekends, and the summer is really hard as well.

bbcover1smallSounds like a pretty structured regimen! Do you have a go-to source for story inspiration? What is it?

Bottom line is music. Without music, inspiration is faint. Aside from that I’m inspired by other art forms: dance, paintings, and movies. Art evokes emotion. I’m an emotion junkie.

ebookblcover1Feelings are vital to creating art and we all have to find our muses! Throughout this series, you concentrate on different characters in different books. What is your biggest challenge in writing such an array of main characters?

I connect with some more than others. I love all of my characters, but they are like real people. You have best friends, friends, acquaintances and enemies. It’s like that for me with my characters.

Understandable. We all have our favorites. 😉 Do you use any tricks to get into the head of the character you’re writing that day?

Music is the key for this. I have extensive playlists for every book I write. Each character has their own playlist aside from the main list. Every character along with every couple has a “sound” So for example, in my current WIP, when I need to get into Tesla’s head, I listen to Halsey. That is her sound.

verdantnumberfixcoverHalsey? I can’t wait! Besides a laptop/notebook and pen, what is the one thing you couldn’t possibly write without?

My beloved jawbone speaker, a tall glass of iced tea, and long phone calls with my best friend, Amanda. She’s great to brainstorm with.

It’s awesome to have friends for support. How about your weapon of choice in the Hunger Games?

A backpack full of grenades.

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Coming Soon

I’m pretty sure that’s cheating, but okay. Werewolves or Vampires?

Both, unless they sparkle.

No, this is a sparkle-free zone, haha. Hogwarts house?

Gryffindor but I’d have a Slytherin boyfriend. J

Good choice of partner. (As a Slytherin, I say that in a purely objective and unbiased manner.) Thanks for stopping by!

Don’t forget to check out Tenaya and her books. You can find her conquering the internet in various places here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | YouTube | Pinterest | Amazon | BN.com

 

{Interview} Jennifer Anne Davis, author of THE KEY @AuthorJennifer

Today I have the awesome, amazing author of the True Reign series as well as The Power to See and The Voice. The Key, the first in her young adult light fantasy series, is currently free on all channels, so grab it while you can!
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You are the author of the light Young Adult fantasy True Reign series as well as paranormal suspense and contemporary. Do you think there is a consistent theme or element in all your stories? What has led you to write such diverse genres?

There most definitely is a consistent element in all my stories, regardless of genre. I always write about a strong female character that is up against seemingly impossible odds. However, she is able to overcome adversity by believing in herself, never giving up, and learning to trust her family and/or friends. However, I will say that after writing such varying genres, I’ve discovered that my strength is in fantasy, and I plan to stick with these types of books in the future.

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What has been the biggest highlight of your career as an author?

Having my first book, The Voice, win some awards! I’m honored that it received an award from The Romance Writers of America a few years back, it’s a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards (YA category), and the winner of the San Diego Book Awards: Best YA Novel. When I first started querying this book, I didn’t have much success. Many agents told me that no one would read a book about a broken girl who learns to overcome her past to be a role model for others. I finally found a publisher who believed in the story and I’m thrilled by the reception the book has received. It’s immensely gratifying.

Has there ever been a time when a reader drew a conclusion from one of your books that was completely different from what you intended? What was it?

Yes. For The Power to See, I’ve had some readers upset that it’s an actual book with a plot and not about sex. Since the main character is in her early twenties, the book falls into the illustrious New Adult category. Many people automatically assume the books is a romance novel, and that’s far from the case. The Power to See is a crime drama. While there is a romantic element in the novel, it is not the driving force of the book.

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Complete this sentence: Before I start writing a new novel, I must…

Think about the story and characters for a solid month before I can even think of writing. I have to get to know my characters, understand who they are, what their personality traits are, what they look like, etc. I think about them in different situation and settings until I get a good feel for the book and the plot starts to unfold in my mind.

Oddest thing to have inspired you:

That’s a tough one. I’m not sure. I know watching my kids at MMA makes me want to write a lot of kick-butt fight scenes.

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Will Scarlett or Robin Hood?

Will Scarlett

What’s a question you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview? What’s your answer?

Honestly, I don’t know. I am a very private, quiet, boring person. Interviews typically frighten me because they take me out of my comfort zone.

Bonus question: Can you tell us anything about what to expect in the True Reign spinoff series?

I’ve just started to write the synopsis for that one! I don’t want to give too much away, but the story will be told from Allyssa’s point of view (first person). Allyssa is Rema and Darmik’s daughter. She will be the strongest female character I’ve ever written and I can’t wait for you to meet her! She is going to be loads of fun to write.

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Also, Nathenek will play a major role in the book as well. He acquires a unique apprentice who causes all sorts of mischief in the book. The evil villain will be someone you don’t expect! The spinoff will be filled with action, adventure, and some sweet romance.

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Jennifer graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. Afterwards, she finally married her high school sweetheart. She is currently a full-time writer and mother of three highly energetic children. Her days are spent living in imaginary worlds and fueling her own kids’ creativity.
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