Book Review: Demons Lie (A Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft and Demon Hunting, #1) by Sherry D. Ficklin

Demons Lie by Sherry D. Ficklin

Aria Dupree is a bad-ass demon hunter whose senior year could be her greatest challenge yet.
Aria is traveling the world, closing gateways to the demon realm while on the hunt for the demon who killed her mother. In Red Prairie, TX she has two goals: end the demon she senses there and graduate high school. Both prove a challenge as high school is…well, high school, and the demon is a bit different than the ones she’s used to. But, Aria can’t let surprising alliances and cute boys distract her from getting revenge for her mother’s death.
Demons Lie (A Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft and Demon Hunting) is a witty, fast-paced action. It’s easy to relate to the main character–or, I imagine I could relate if I were a demon hunter with a bone to pick. Aria is clever and sassy, I love the banter between the characters. Can’t wait to read the next in the series.

I received an ARC of Demons Lie in exchange for an honest review

Get Demons Lie (A Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft and Demon Hunting #1) from Amazon 

 

Sherry D. Ficklin Sherry is the author of over a dozen novels for teens and young adults including the best selling Stolen Empire series. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
Sherry also writes contemporary romance under the pen name SJ Noble. You can find her at her official website, or stalk her on her Facebook page

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Book Review: Watch You Burn by Amanda Searcy

Watch You Burn by [Searcy, Amanda]

WATCH YOU BURN is about Jenny, a teen with a bad history related to fires–as in she has a tendency to start them. Jenny has just been sent to live with her dad, a contractor who is renovating an old motel in New Mexico, because there’s an arson investigation back home in Ohio, and things have gotten a bit, er…hot.

Even though she has the best of intentions, Jenny can’t fight the “itch” to start fires. One little fire, what could it hurt? Unless someone saw her. And now, that someone is lurking outside her room at night and Jenny is sure it’s just a matter of time until she’s turned in.

But then the man she’s certain witnessed her starting a fire is murdered. And another murder follows, and soon Jenny realizes she’s surrounded by people she doesn’t really know and everyone is a suspect…including her dad.

WATCH YOU BURN is a deep, dark descent into the world of girl who is deeply troubled and finds herself in a bad situation. There were so many red herrings that, even when I was certain who the “bad guy” was, I kept doubting myself. It was an intriguing book that kept me turning the pages, anxious to find out what would happen next. I can’t say I liked Jenny, but I empathized with her enough that I wanted to know what would happen.

Overall, a good read.

Thank you to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read WATCH YOU BURN

I received an ARC of WATCH YOU BURN in exchange for an honest review of the book

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Author Spotlight: Rebecca Carpenter

Name: Rebecca Carpenter  

Author of: The Metamorphosis Series: Butterfly Bones (Book 1), Butterfly Blood (Book 2, Available 8/28/18, Lakewater Press)

From: Fruita, Colorado

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

I began writing as soon as I could form a sentence on paper. But the first piece that brought attention to my writing was a poem I wrote in the third grade entitled, “Love Is…” My poem won a contest, and I was placed in a creative writing course with other winners. That’s when I knew my words had power.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I think I have always wanted to pursue writing as a profession, but until my kids were raised, I just didn’t have the time. But I didn’t begin with novels. After watching one-too-many poorly written movies, I told my husband I could write a better script than that, and so I did. I bought the software needed for screenwriting and went to town. My first two screenplays won Honorable Mention in the Colorado Screenplay Awards. But after realizing how hard it is to break into screenwriting, I decided to switch to novels.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

My SCBWI critique group was amazing. And after I used a professional editor, she hooked me up with a local writer to help me learn the “craft” of writing. We have been weekly critique partners ever since, and she has taught me a wealth of writing tips.

Do you exclusively write young adult or have you written in other genres?

I write screenplays, drama and Rom-coms, and I also dabble in picture books and middle grade.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

I write any chance I can: at work during rest time for the children in my prekindergarten class; in the evenings after supper; early mornings on weekends, and sometimes all day in my pajamas on weekends.  It is quite difficult to balance my writing and family time. My husband complains often of my lack on involvement with him. So I try to shut off the computer and give him quality time as much as possible. This is a challenge when I work sixty hours a week, copyedit part time, and copyedit for Lakewater Press as well.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

A first draft can take me anywhere from six months to a year, depending on how much time I have to devote to writing and how much research I have to perform.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I use a general plotline, as well as write my premise and goals for my point-of-view characters. I use characterization sheets in the beginning to make sure I stay true to facts and personality traits unique to each character. I typically research as it comes up in the script. This way I can be writing and putting my ideas onto paper as they come to me instead of finding myself bogged down in research.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Not that I know of. I do have to be surrounded with noise, so I write in the front room with the television on. And if I talk to my hubby on occasion, I can usually get away with it.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

I wouldn’t call it a pilgrimage since I only traveled a few miles. But I visited our local butterfly house and asked lots of questions about raising butterflies and the laws surrounding that. Interesting to find out butterflies are categorized by the government as a pest, and special permits must be obtained to keep and breed them.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

Inspiration comes in spurts for me. Either feast or famine. So I’ll be flooded with fifty ideas, and I write them all down, or I can go months with nothing. But Butterfly Bones came from a song by The Cure, called “Caterpillar Girl.” It started as a horror, but ended up being a soft science fiction. Darn characters think they know the story better than the writer. J

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I love to read thrillers, but I also will read anything that’s well-written. Don’t care the genre. Since I work with children, I also love picture books.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? I use family names as well lots of foreshadowing, but nothing all “cloak and daggery.”

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Sometimes, but not always. I try to give each one a distinct personality by drawing off people I know, but sometimes they are purely made up from my imagination.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I loved Defending Jacob by William Landay. The twists and turns in that book and then the climax were so unexpected that I still think about them, even after years of reading the story. I hope to see it made into a major motion picture someday.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Twilight series.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Nope. But my hubby does.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

A butterfly, of course.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Promotion. Promotion. Promotion.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Never. Give. Up. Keep reading. Keep writing. Join a critique group.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? It takes time to write the story, and it takes time to build your audience. Keep at it. Keep at it. Keep at it.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I offer free critiques, Beta reading, and give as much advice as I can on my blog. I am always open for questions or general writing advice.

Do you want more information on Rebecca and her books?

 

 Butterfly Bones (Metamorphosis, Book 1)

HER BONES. HER FUTURE. HER SACRIFICE.

“I wish I was a normal fifteen-year-old. I have dreams that I am.”

Fifteen-year-old Bethany Keatley’s life is anything but perfect. Yet despite a rare bone disorder cursing her with the body of a ten year old, a dead mom, and being a target for the school bullies, things could be worse.

She owes her life to her scientist father and the butterfly hormone racing through her blood.

But the discovery of unexpected and horrifying side effects means her dreams of leaving the small-minded town of Springs, Georgia to become a scientist have all but shattered.

Her world becomes a prison and her existence a life sentence.

The only thing keeping Bethany fighting is her true love, football star Jeremiah Wright—if only he felt the same way. And now, with the clock ticking and her future uncertain, courage and the determination to survive must drive her decisions.

But nature has other plans, a sacrifice for Bethany’s life.

In this award-winning incredible debut, Rebecca Carpenter brings to life the “haunting and twisted story” of one girl and an ending that will blow your mind.

 

Get Butterfly Bones on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 Butterfly Blood (Metamorphosis, Book 2)

HER BLOOD. HER LOVE. HER FREEDOM.

“How many of my sins will have to be paid for in blood?”

Sixteen-year-old Bethany Keatley finally has the healthy body and looks she’s always desired. But the price she’s had to pay has left her traumatized.

The only thing making her battle on is the memory of that kiss with Jeremiah.

Now miles from him and living in Florida with an aunt she’s never met, shocking revelations about her parents are too much to bear. After collapsing from exhaustion and shock, Bethany wakes in a hospital bed awaiting test results—results that might lead to the discovery of her unusual butterfly blood.

But that’s the least of Bethany’s concerns when the doctor informs her she’s infected with a parasite and without immediate treatment she’ll die.

Too young to refuse and too weak to fight back, Bethany’s life once again hangs in the balance. Yet her scientific knowledge and suspicious nature lead her to unravel a horrifying web of lies.

Will nature intervene again, demanding another payment?

In this stunning sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES, Rebecca Carpenter raises the stakes and offers up an intense and heartbreaking ride that will leave you shocked to the core.

 

Get Butterfly Blood from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

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Book Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

My first thought about Sadie was “DAMN!” That’s it. That is, quite literally, the only word I could find that effectively describe what I felt when I finished the book.

This book quickly shot to the top of my favorite reads list!

Sadie, by Courtney Summers, is an intense novel about love and vengeance.

“And it begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl.”

Sadie lived a hard life. At the age of six, when she held her baby sister Mattie in her arms, Sadie felt her purpose in life: to love and protect Mattie. Sadie survived her hard-partying, emotionally manipulative mom and the succession of men that she brought home. She also endured verbal and sexual abuse at the hands of some of those men. But, as long as Mattie was happy and safe, Sadie felt a sense of accomplishment, pride in a purpose higher than herself. When their mom left town without a word Sadie assumed responsibility for raising Mattie

Then, a passerby found thirteen-year-old Mattie’s lifeless body in a field. The police have failed to find her killer and now, Sadie has gone missing.

Sadie is determined to avenge her sister. Armed with few clues, she follows a series of isolated roads through anonymous towns looking for the man who killed Mattie.

West McCray is a podcaster working on a series about the decline of small-towns in America. He was filming a segment for his show when he heard about Mattie’s death. A year later he receives a call that the girl’s sister Sadie has also disappeared. The only clues are a missing photo and the girl’s abandoned car. West, initially hesitant, begins an urgent search for Sadie in the hopes of finding her before it’s too late.

Sadie is told in alternating viewpoints. Sadie’s experience is raw as she journeys through a series of small towns, and is off set with a professional, detached reporting style in the transcripts of West McCray’s episodic podcast, The Girls.

Courtney Summers’s writing propelled me through the pages. Even as my heart splintered, and my stomach sickened at what has happened to this girl, I kept turning the pages to see what other revelations awaited me. Be forewarned, this book deals with some deep, dark issues (for those who prefer trigger warnings, the topics are sexual assault, rape, pedophilia, abuse, and assault). However, I was completely submersed in this book, and my mind is just blown!! Highly recommended.

*I received an ARC of Sadie from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Get SADIE from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

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Book Review: Butterfly Blood by Rebecca Carpenter

“Nature demands payment. And nature demands balance.”

With the events of Butterfly Bones barely behind her, Bethany Keatley has just begun to settle into her new life when mother nature rears her ugly head again.

Cured of her bone disease and still reeling from her father’s last act, Bethany is now living with her aunt Denise in Florida and trying to adjust to a “normal” life. But the secrets from her past are threatening to rise up and destroy her chance for a new life.

First Bethany discovers a dark truth about her father. And then her miraculous cure, provided by the butterfly DNA that now courses through her veins, may actually prove fatal. But is the danger in the cure, or in the doctors who seem far too invested in studying her further?

In a parallel story line, Jeremiah is also dealing with the events of that last night at the Keatley house. He is not only grieving Bethany, but with losing everything he knows about himself. And there’s also that dark monster in the corner of his mind that’s demanding to be set free.

Butterfly Blood (book 2 in the Metamorphosis series) is an intense, action and emotion packed follow up to a truly unique novel and I couldn’t out it down.

 

*I received a copy of Butterfly Blood from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Butterfly Blood (Metamorphosis, Book 2) 

HER BLOOD. HER LOVE. HER FREEDOM.

“How many of my sins will have to be paid for in blood?”

Sixteen-year-old Bethany Keatley finally has the healthy body and looks she’s always desired. But the price she’s had to pay has left her traumatized.

The only thing making her battle on is the memory of that kiss with Jeremiah.

Now miles from him and living in Florida with an aunt she’s never met, shocking revelations about her parents are too much to bear. After collapsing from exhaustion and shock, Bethany wakes in a hospital bed awaiting test results—results that might lead to the discovery of her unusual butterfly blood.

But that’s the least of Bethany’s concerns when the doctor informs her she’s infected with a parasite and without immediate treatment she’ll die.

Too young to refuse and too weak to fight back, Bethany’s life once again hangs in the balance. Yet her scientific knowledge and suspicious nature lead her to unravel a horrifying web of lies.

Will nature intervene again, demanding another payment?

In this stunning sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES, Rebecca Carpenter raises the stakes and offers up an intense and heartbreaking ride that will leave you shocked to the core.

Get Butterfly Blood from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

About Rebecca Carpenter

Rebecca Carpenter is a native of western Colorado. She is married with two grown children and has been blessed with five amazing grandchildren. She owns and directs a large childcare center where she shares her love for books. She also works as a part time freelance copy editor and interns as an assistant to the editor for a small press, helping others attain their writing dreams.

 

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Author Spotlight: Annie Sullivan

Name:   Annie Sullivan  

Author of:   A Touch of Gold (HarperCollins Publishing, Available August 14, 2018)

 

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? 

I started out writing short poems in grade school, and one even got published in a local poetry book. But the first short story I wrote definitely had a princess in it, so I haven’t strayed far from that! But looking back, I don’t think that story quite holds

up today. I’ve definitely come a long way.  

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

When I was trying to decide what I wanted to major in in college, I remembered how much I enjoyed writing, so I got a degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. I’ve always loved reading stories, so it only seemed natural that I start telling them.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

I had some great advisors at Butler University, where I got my master’s degree in creative writing. I also had a lot of support from everyone at the Midwest Writers Workshop, and it was there I met a lot of my critique partners, who have helped me in more ways than I can count. I’ve also had the opportunity to talk with some great authors like John Green and Brenda Drake, who have both given me great advice over the years. And I definitely couldn’t have done it without my family too!

 Do you exclusively write young adult fantasy or have you written in other genres?

I pretty much write YA fantasy. I would love to do some sci-fi or something set in the old west. I also want to start dabbling in picture books, but my heart will always belong to YA fantasy. I just love everything I can do in that space—like inventing new worlds and creatures.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

I strive to write a minimum of 500 words a day. Some days I can write 3,000, and some days those 500 can be a struggle. Usually when I’m writing, I try to take the weekends off so I can have some work life balance. When I’m on a deadline, like when I’m revising, then it becomes a little harder to maintain a balance. 

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

It takes about 3 months to write a first draft if I’m keeping to my writing goals. I like to then do revisions with a few different critique partners. Then, I revise after my agent has read it. Finally, I revise again after I get an editor. So I feel like I spend countless hours revising. But the better you know your story, the easier it is to revise. So I’ve gotten better at it over the years.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I’m pantser, so I don’t plot out my stories ahead of time; I fly by the seat of my pants. I basically get an idea and just start writing. Granted, I end up doing a lot of rewriting later because I slowly discover how I want the story to go, which sometimes means reworking the beginning over and over again.

I basically consider all the stories and fairytales I’ve read over the years as research, and I do some research as I go along depending on the topic.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Well, I know it would drive some people crazy, but I like to listen to the same song over and over again when I’m writing. I change the song after a few days, but I’ve probably listened to some of them a few hundred times in a row.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

 I wouldn’t say I’ve done a literary pilgrimage, but I love to travel. I’ve traveled to every single continent—yes, including Antarctica—and to over 50 countries. As a writer, I think I have to take advantage of every opportunity to travel that I can. Seeing the world can inspire new settings, and I’ve even based some characters on people I’ve met during my travels.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

For some of my projects I can, but not for all of them. For A Touch of Gold, I came up with the idea after watching Pirates of the Caribbean. I was thinking about all that cursed gold the pirates had to track down, and that got me thinking about gold and having golden powers. That led me to thinking about King Midas, but I typically write about strong female characters. So I got to thinking about his daughter and whatever happened to her after she was turned to gold. And that was that! A story idea was born.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

Just as I love to write YA fantasy, I love to read it too. Some of the books I’m loving right now are Frostblood by Elly Blake and Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. Some of my other favorite authors include Meg Cabot, Jane Austen, and Madeline L’Engle.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Haha! Yes, I actually do. I hide family stories, family names, and fun little Easter eggs. I enjoy hiding these little details even if I’m the only one knows they’re there.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

All of my characters have some small part of me in there, and some have characteristics of people I might know. But I wouldn’t say they ever hold too much a resemblance to real people.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I know this book published a long time ago, but it has stayed with my since I read it as a kid. And I hope it will affect others the way it did me.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Nicola and the Viscount by Meg Cabot. It was just such a fun short read that reminded me of Pride & Prejudice, so of course I knew I was going to love it. Swoon!

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Ha! I have before, but honestly, if I do it now, it’s mostly to find my blog or my book on Amazon so I can share the link with people. Although, I do have to note that since I share a name with Helen Keller’s teacher who is named Annie Sullivan that I’m just glad I can find myself at all because for years I couldn’t!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

I would choose a goat! I love goats because they have really cool rectangular pupils (Google a picture!). Also, I’ve been told goats are social creatures that like to eat, which pretty much describes me. Desserts are my weakness!!!

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

I love coming up with plots. My characters are always secondary, so I always have to spend extra time making the characters feel real and unique. Luckily, I have an agent who is amazing at characters, so she always keeps me on track!

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Don’t give up. Seriously. I started this book in 2010. I finished it in 2012. It’s coming out in 2018. That’s 8 years from start to finish. There were so many times I wanted to give up during those eight years—times when I was getting rejection after rejection. But I stuck with it. I wrote multiple books while I was waiting. And because I didn’t give up, I ended up where I am today.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Enjoy it. Being a debut author is a crazy, thrilling, confusing time. It’s like everything is happening at once, but the day your book comes out, nothing truly changes. Yes, you have a book out in the world, but it’s not the earth-shattering event you think it’ll be. So just enjoy what you can and then get back to writing the next book.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I try to help aspiring writers any way I can. I judge writing contests, help out in mentoring contests, and guide as many authors as I can through the tricky path to publication. I had to figure out how to write query letters and pitch agents all on my own, and I know how difficult that process was. So anything I can do to make it easier on others I’ll do gladly!

Looking for more information on Annie?

A Touch of Gold

Gold is wealth. Wealth is power. Power is a curse.

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

From author Annie Sullivan comes A Touch of Gold, the untold story of the daughter King Midas turned to gold, perfect for fans of Cinder and The Wrath and the Dawn.

 

Order A Touch of Gold from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound

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Author Spotlight: Sonia Hartl

 

 

Name: Sonia Hartl

Author of: Have a Little Faith in Me (Coming from Page Street, Fall 2019)

From: Grand Rapids, MI

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

The first thing I wrote was a book about penguins in the first grade for a school project, but I began writing more frequently in junior high, mostly poetry and short ghost stories.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I started out majoring in creative writing in college and had a huge stash of poetry and short stories I’d written over the years. I didn’t write my first novel until 2005 though (I was 25) because a lot of fear and self-doubt kept me back. My first novel started as a short story, but it begged to be longer, and one day I just sat down and forced myself to try.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

So many people. The writing community is amazingly supportive and helpful to newer writers just starting to find their way. Dannie Morin picked my manuscript for Pitch Wars in 2013 and changed everything for me. She taught me so much about plot, character arcs, organic dialogue, evocative narrative, all the things I needed to take my writing to the next level. I also met my long-time CP Jen Hawkins on the Pitch Wars Twitter feed while we were both hopefuls and she has been a constant source of support and wisdom over the years. And my agent Rebecca Podos is the best. She’s always encouraged me while pushing my writing to the next level, she’s truly my partner in this business in every sense of the word.

Do you exclusively write contemporary YA (young adult) or have you written in other genres?

I mostly write contemporary YA, but I’ve written in a few other genres and categories. My first manuscript was an adult dystopian, my second a YA ghost story, my third a NA romantic suspense, fourth and fifth were YA contemporary, sixth was a YA mystery, and seventh was HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME, which is a YA contemporary.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

When I’m drafting I try to squeeze at least two hours of writing time in a night, and if I’m really into what I’m drafting, I’ll write up to ten hours a day on the weekend. The work, life, write balance is tricky, but I’m fortunate to work at a job that gives me a reasonable amount of vacation and my family is really supportive. Most of my writing time is crammed into the two hours I have free at the end of the night though, usually from ten to midnight.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

That varies so widely from manuscript to manuscript. I had one take six months to draft and a year and a half to revise, and I had another that took a week to draft and two weeks to revise. Both of those are the exceptions though. I’d say average, it takes me about one to two months to draft and about two to three months to revise.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

It definitely depends on how knowledgeable I am about the story I’m going to tell. I’m a big fan of immersive settings that tend to have their own set of rules and norms, so that requires a certain amount of research to write well. I’ve done everything from spending hours reading blogs on certain subjects, to hiring experts to read over my manuscripts for accuracy.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

I don’t know if this is quirky or not, but I have dozens of first chapters for different stories in my Dropbox. I’ll sometimes write five first chapters for five different premises before I find one I want to progress to chapter two with.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

No, but I’d love to have an excuse to visit Ireland or Italy. I did set one manuscript on a remote island off the coast of Boston, and I’ve been to Boston, but I’m not sure if that counts. I’d really love to visit a small town with a quirky festival that the whole town puts their hearts into and write a story based on that.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

A lot of my inspiration comes from things I’m feeling strongly about at a particular time. I tend to create stories based around settings I’m curious about or obsessed with researching, and pair them with themes I’m passionate about diving into and subverting. I wouldn’t say there is an exact moment I’m hit with inspiration, but it’s more a slow growing interest that I need to write when I get to the point where I can’t stop thinking about it

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I mostly read YA contemporary, because that’s what I write, but I’m also a huge fan of YA thrillers/mysteries. I also occasionally enjoy contemporary fantasy, romance, and sci-fi, and historical. I’ll read across all genres and categories, as long as it’s a good story and can hold my attention.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Absolutely. I think all writers do.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

No, all my characters exist solely in my head.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

LUCKY FEW by Kathryn Ormsbee is so criminally underappreciated. It was such a fun, warm contemporary, and it’s one of those books that just makes you feel happy while reading it.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

I’d say maybe any book in Nora Roberts’ trilogies, but I don’t feel guilty about it, lol.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Not right now, there probably isn’t much to Google, but I might after my book is released. Just out of curiosity.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

Probably a penguin, for no other reason than I really like them.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Pacing. I’m constantly second-guessing and doubting my plot points and if they have enough impact to keep the reader turning the pages.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Keep going. It feels like the climb is so uphill and the odds are so long, but if you keep going, keep learning, and improving your craft, you will get where you need to be in your own time.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

I’m in the same boat, but maybe try to enjoy the ride. There is a lot about publishing that is completely out of our hands, so try to enjoy the things you can control.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I would say the biggest way is being a Pitch Wars mentor. I’ve been a mentor since 2015, and it is absolutely the most rewarding way to give back to the writing community. As a former mentee, I know how much it meant to me to be given the opportunity to learn from someone who was a few steps ahead of me on the journey. Being able to do that for someone else means the world to me.

Would you like to find out more about Sonia?

 

Have a Little Faith in Me

(Coming Fall 2019 from Page Street)

When CeCe’s born-again boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp to win him back, though she knows nothing about Christianity. But when he shows up with a new girlfriend—a True Believer—she must face the truth about her feelings, and about the night she lost her virginity. Publication is set for fall 2019

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Author Spotlight: C.M. McCoy

Name: C.M. McCoy 

Author of: EERIE

From: Alaska

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?  It was a “descriptive paragraph” assignment from the 5th grade. My teacher, Mrs. Brady, was so excited about my stinky hamster paragraph, she made me read it aloud to the 3 other 5th grade classes. I was mortified, dead scared, and actually vomited. Worst reward ever.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? It was after I’d retired from the Air Force and after I’d retired from engineering. I’d written a memoir and signed with a literary agent. After that, I caught the fiction bug, and the rest is mystery. Writing is a funny profession in that one never stops pursuing it. The market is ever changing; agents and editors come and go, and one misstep on social media can rally the review trolls–effectively torpedoing your paycheck. Sometimes it feels more like the pot at the end of the rainbow than it does a career.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? There have been many who’ve been the proverbial lighthouse in the channel. Too many to name really, but agent Michelle Johnson tops my list of advisers/supporters during my journey to publication. She was extremely generous with her time and wisdom, and I’m forever grateful for her unwavering support. In addition, I have been blessed with the world’s best critique partners, who helped me hone my craft and who helped me shape up the structure of what would be my debut novel. Quite honestly, after paying thousands for professional editors who offered little to nothing in the way of actual editing suggestions, I found critique partners were far more adept at recognizing and suggesting edits for structural shortcomings, character arcs, plot holes, and craft mistakes. Sarah Adair, an unpublished author who shies away from social media, was especially helpful. I found her through Maggie Stiefvater’s Critique Partner Match-up several years ago.

Do you exclusively write paranormal or have you written in other genres? I also write YA and Adult thriller, speculative, and Picture Books. I’ve dreamed of writing a contemporary, but something urgent and usually monstrous seems to always pop up on those opening pages. I’m sure there’s something psychologically avoidy (that’s totally a thing) is happening there, but I’ve never dug deep enough into my psyche to figure it out.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? Good lord, it’s hard to find quiet time between mom-ing and wife-ing and agent-ing. I love my family to pieces, and I’m acutely aware of one thing: when I’m on my deathbed, I’ll never regret “missing out  on writing time,” but I’ll sure as hell want more play time with my husband, my kindergartener, my sister, my mom and dad, etc. I’ve had enough close calls to know what’s truly important in life. And so I sneak writing time in when everyone’s asleep. Getting up at 0330 helps. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? First drafts–this varies from 2 weeks to 7 months for me. Revisions continue until I perform the “good enough” nod. My husband, who piloted the Space Shuttle back in 2006 and whose mission rewired the Space Station, has this saying he picked up from one of his commanders at NASA: “better” is the enemy of “good enough.” For me, here on Earth, it means to mind your resources–an author’s time and energy are finite quantities, and spending them on an endless pursuit to make one MS “better” (which is a moving target) means the next MS never gets written. Recognizing when a MS has reached “good enough,” even if it’s “good enough for now” means moving forward. Getting stuck in the “it needs to be better” loop can stall a writer’s career. Some MS’s won’t sell (for now) no matter how many revisions an author makes, and it’s okay to put that MS in a drawer and call it good enough for now.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? Most of my preparation involves daydreaming. I have to know my main character through and through before I begin a draft. I may scribble out snippets of dialogue or a scene here and there, but most of my prep stays in my head. As for research, I find and interrogate people who share an experience or hobby or career or personality trait that one of my characters shares. I also research maps, chemistry, medicine, murder, mental health, engines, thermodynamics, string theory, bacterial growth rates, etc…you know, the usual.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Nope. 😀

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? I spent 7 days canoeing through the no-kidding Alaska bush. Out of cell phone coverage, far from roads and people, and on a deadline to reach to a checkpoint near the Yukon river so that I didn’t miss my scheduled bush-plane pick-up. It was refreshing and terrifying at once, and it truly helped me shape the setting of EERIE and of my YA thriller, both of which are set in part in the Alaska bush.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? I usually find inspiration from staring at the back of my eyelids after an exciting day. I can say that I remember an acute moment of illogical tree fear while camping one winter night, and that may have fed into EERIE’s carnivorous tree problem…

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? I’m a mood reader who switches between nonfiction and fiction of most genres. I rarely get into a literary phase, and high fantasy isn’t my jam, but for the most part, I’ll read anything that tickles my neurons.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Oh yes. *evil grin*

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes to both. Some characters are a mash-up of different friends, and some are inspired by chance encounters with complete strangers.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater. I absolutely adore that book.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. A BEDTIME STORY by LC Moon. This was a steamy Beauty and the Beast retelling by an indie author who, sadly, hasn’t published the sequel. I’m still hoping though…

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? No, but I do have a Google news alert set up, which sends me the strangest emails. For example, just a couple weeks ago, I learned a very beautiful actress would portray a fictional me in an upcoming film starring Natalie Portman.  *shrugs*

As a writer, what animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? Tough choice. I’d say a snow ember. Or a snarling Yeti. Tough choice…

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Am I constantly answering questions that aren’t asked? Yes. Yes I am. Which is not as much a struggle as it is an annoyance. I should be more focused. I should take my own advice.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Don’t quit. (that’s 2 words)

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Don’t quit. Many authors have such an unfulfilling and even discouraging experience after their first book publishes, that they stop writing altogether. Don’t quit.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I mentor. In 2017, I mentored an author in #PitchWars, and prior to that, I’ve mentored in contests like #NoQS and Query Kombat. I sneak into support groups and offer encouragement whenever I can. I lead workshops at schools and online. I’m still a work in progress myself, and I appreciate the reciprocation in this wonderful community. Now that I’m a literary agent and building my list, I try to be as specific and encouraging in my feedback as I can. I hate rejection. It stinks. Having received over 300 rejections for my own work before finding an agent, I can appreciate the sting I now send out, and I’m always thinking of the person on the other end and hoping they persevere in their journey to publication. <3

Would you like to know more about C.M. McCoy?

Eerie

The sensational teen paranormal romance featured in PEOPLE Magazine and on INSIDE EDITION! 

Hailey Hartley has just enrolled in the world’s premier supernatural university. It’s a school she’s never heard of, located in a town called The Middle of Nowhere, and run by a creature that’s not supposed to exist. But at least she got a scholarship…

Hailey’s dreams have always been, well…vivid. As in monsters from her nightmares follow her into her waking life vivid. When her big sister goes missing, eighteen-year-old Hailey finds only one place offers her answers–a paranormal university in Alaska. There, she studies the science of the supernatural and must learn to live with a roommate from Hell, survive her otherworldly classes, and hope the only creature who can save her from an evil monster doesn’t decide to kill her himself.

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Cover Reveal: The Witch’s Tower by Tamara Grantham

The Witch’s Tower
Tamara Grantham
(Twisted Ever After, #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 11th 2019
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult

Gothel is a witch. Punished for the actions of her mother, her choice is simple: either she stands guard over Princess Rapunzel—or she dies. But just because a choice is easy doesn’t mean it’s pleasant. Protecting Rapunzel means watching as the princess lays trapped in a tower, bedridden by hair that is so long and heavy it’s slowly driving her insane. Gothel’s life has become one of imprisonment and solitude as well—until a prince and his handsome squire appear at the tower.

Only one object can cut Rapunzel’s hair and end the curse: a pair of magical shears. But the shears are guarded by the most terrifying witches in the land, who also happen to be Gothel’s aunts. As Gothel and the prince’s squire, Raj Talmund, work to form a plan, she finds herself more and more drawn to the mysterious young man from the Outerlands. Unfortunately, his destiny is far more dangerous than she wants to admit: to save a princess, he must kill the witch who’s been forced to guard her.

THE WITCH’S TOWER is the first in an inspired new series of fairy-tale retellings from award-winning fantasy author Tamara Grantham.

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Author Bio:

Tamara Grantham is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books and novellas, including the Olive Kennedy: Fairy World MD series and the Shine novellas. Dreamthief, the first book of her Fairy World MD series, won first place for fantasy in INDIEFAB’S Book of the Year Awards, a RONE award for best New Adult Romance of 2016, and is a #1 bestseller on Amazon with over 200 five-star reviews.
Tamara holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Lamar University. She has been a featured speaker at multiple writing conferences, and she has been a panelist at Comic Con Wizard World speaking on the topic of female leads. For her first published project, she collaborated with New York-Times bestselling author, William Bernhardt, in writing the Shine series.
Born and raised in Texas, Tamara now lives with her husband and five children in Wichita, Kansas. She rarely has any free time, but when the stars align and she gets a moment to relax, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, taking nature walks–which fuel her inspiration for creating fantastical worlds–and watching every Star Wars or Star Trek movie ever made. You can find her online at www.TamaraGrantham.com.

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Book Release: Nocturne (Nightmusic Trilogy #2) by Heather McKenzie

 

NOW AVAILABLE IN PRINT!

Nocturne
Heather McKenzie
(Nightmusic Trilogy, #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Print Publication date: July 10, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Young Adult

I am hunted.
A pawn in a vicious game.
The only way I can protect the ones I love…
…is to disappear.

Finally free of her father, Kaya has the one thing that keeps her heart beating—Luke.

Blissfully content in his arms, everything seems perfect…until their world is shattered by a deadly invasion. When an old ally comes to the rescue, Kaya wants none of it. She is devastated to learn the identity of her attacker, and that she must do something truly heartbreaking if she wants to save the ones she loves. Sacrificing everything and sinking into bottomless sorrow, Kaya finds solace in an unlikely friend—one who shows her a different kind of love, and helps her discover an inner strength she never thought possible.

A heart-pounding journey of self-discovery, Nocturne is the transformative second installment of The Nightmusic Trilogy by Heather McKenzie.

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Author Bio:

Heather McKenzie is the Canadian author of The Nightmusic Trilogy. Also a professional singer/songwriter with five albums to date, she told stories through music for years before falling in love with novel writing. Heather pulls from her extraordinary experiences as a musician to fuel her passion for creating Young Adult fiction. She is a rocker at heart, a mom of three and an aspiring painter.

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