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

Add Have  A Little Faith in Me to your Goodreads list  

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August #Giveaway: Win 1 of 20 free critiques

(*Updated to reflect additional critiques)

My birthday is this month and I’ve decided to give, give, give! (Oh, and I asked some of my friends to help me give)

For my August giveaway I’ve decided to gear it toward those of you out there who are still writing away, editing and polishing your manuscripts, obsessively revising your query letters, and dreaming of the day your efforts are rewarded. That’s right, authors, this one is for you.

At the end of  the month 21(!) free critiques will be given away.

So, what do you do to enter? Click on the Rafflecopter link and follow the prompts. And yes, there are a lot of Twitter profiles that you can follow, but there were a lot of generous authors who volunteered their time to help out, so please show them some love.

Details (and the Rafflecopter link) are below. Best of luck to everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cover Reveal: The Light At Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners, Book 2)

COVER REVEAL AND SEQUEL ANNOUNCEMENT:

The stand-alone historical romance that stole America’s hearts has a sequel coming out. A Shine that Defies the Dark by Jodi Gallegos released in December 2017 and has received amazing reviews and shout outs from the public. So much so that the author decided to expand the world of the novel and create another sequel or world novel that can be read as part of the series or as another stand-alone Historical Romance. The Light at Finnigan’s End is scheduled to release on November 5, 2018 as book two in The Rum Runners Series. Check out the official cover reveal below and then be sure to leave a comment or two on what you think of the novel. Also, Kindle Unlimited subscribers can check out the first novel for free right now on Amazon.

COVER REVEAL:

 

The Light at Finnigan’s End
Jodi Gallegos
Published by: Changing Tides Publishing
Publication date: November 5, 2018
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance

Cleric’s Cove is home to the most brutal gang of bootleggers in Southern Louisiana, the Moret family. Desperate to find out what happened to her brother Finn, Deirdre Cassidy is determined to use her skills as a healer, as well as her feminine charms, to infiltrate the Moret crime family. Once she’s ensconced in the Moret hideout, she hopes to gather information that will lead her to Finn—or help her destroy the family that caused his disappearance.

But the one thing Deirdre never counted on is Mo Moret. The eldest son and head of the Moret gang, Mo is incredibly dangerous, yet magnetic—the attraction between them palpable. Still, Deirdre doesn’t believe he’ll ever set aside family loyalty for love. And even if he did, Deirdre has vowed to see the end of the Morets—whatever the cost.

The second installment in the popular Rum Runners series by Jodi Gallegos, The Light at Finnigan’s End is a fast-paced romance with elements of historical fiction, set against the gritty backdrop of depression-era southern Louisiana.

Goodreads / Pre-order coming August 8th.

 

READ BOOK ONE TODAY!

A Shine That Defies The Dark
Jodi Gallegos
Published by: Changing Tides Publishing
Publication date: December 5th 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance

Gripping, romantic, and evocative of its time— A Shine that Defies the Dark is a spellbinding story of one woman who will stop at nothing to survive during a tumultuous time in American history.

After a six-year exile, Ophelia Breaux and her mother are overjoyed to return to the Louisiana bayou. But it seems the ghosts of the epic feud that drove them away still haunt Plaquemines Parish, and with the Great Depression sweeping the nation, the two soon find they can’t make ends meet.

Seeing no other option, Ophelia’s mother takes the drastic step of sharing her bed with the town judge in exchange for a reduced rent. The judge has had a life-long obsession with Momma, and Ophelia is desperate to end this arrangement and get her away from him.

When Remy Granger shows up, Ophelia knows it could mean more trouble—and that’s the last thing they need. Handsome and dangerous, he’s the first boy she ever kissed, and a member of the most notorious family in southern Louisiana—but he’s also got an opportunity for fast money in rumrunning. Ophelia goes all in, and it turns out she may have a knack for the business. But she’s going to have to run even faster if she wants to save Momma… dodging the cops, rival gangs, and her traitorous heart at every turn.

Goodreads / Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

 

Author Bio:

Jodi is a YA writer, black belt, and registered nurse. She lives with her husband, three sons and an evolving herd of undisciplined animals in Colorado. She has a well-earned fear of bears, but tolerates the Teddy and Gummy variety. She has been obsessed with books, both reading and writing them, for most of her life and prefers the written word to having actual conversations. The most current projected completion date of her To Be Read book collection is May 17, 2176.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

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The Light At Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners, Book 2) Coming 11/5/18

Why haven’t I posted about this sooner? Honestly, I’ve been talking about it so much I thought I had.

However, this is my official, official announcement that the sequel to A Shine That Defies the Dark (henceforth to be known also as the first book in the Rum Runners series) will be published on November 5, 2018.

There will be an official cover reveal soon (psst—if you follow me on Goodreads you may have some inside scoop!), but for now I can only show you this:

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Author Spotlight: TJ Turner

 Name: TJ Turner

Author of: Lincoln’s Bodyguard; Land of Wolves: The Return of Lincoln’s Bodyguard

From: Yellow Springs, OH

 

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

I remember writing a brilliant piece of science fiction, a short story, when I was in about 5th grade (please note the sarcasm here!) I was devastated that it was not accepted into Isaac Asimov’s magazine! I had a lot to learn. I would love to find that story and to see just how horrible it really was. I wrote it late at night when my father brought home this “computer” thing, and I learned I could write a story, save it, and print it out on our old dot-matrix printer.

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

Honestly, it was after graduate school. That experience beat the fun out of me, and I took a long hard look at what I wanted to do with my life. My choices narrowed to astronaut, author, bike racer, or engineer. The first one didn’t work out, even after I chased it to the point of joining the Air Force. The whole bike race thing went pretty good for a while, and I raced at the National level a bit. But the guys who go pro were on a whole other level. I had just finished my PhD in engineering, so I marched happily along that route. When I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to wrote a novel, she told me something like, “that’s way too hard.” Challenge accepted! That first novel is something like that first story—awful!

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

Too many to list! Of course, my wife provided that initial kick (in the posterior). But then I found this really welcoming community of writer’s when I attended the Antioch Writer’s workshop. There I met many other folks on this same struggle to write and become published. In particular, I met Robert Inman as one of the faculty members. He in turn introduced me to his editor, Bill Phillips. Bill read through my second novel, and helped me revise it a few times. Then he delivered the awful news…move on to something else because something in this manuscript is not working. At first I was depressed about that verdict, but then Bill is a man who knows the industry—he worked at Little and Brown as an Editor. And I didn’t have to wait long for inspiration. The idea for LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD struck that very afternoon—for every door that closes! After that, I have several friends who proof-read my manuscripts, to include my wife Nancy, who is brutal in her redactions. Sharon Short, another novelist, has been amazing at giving great focused feedback. And of course, Elizabeth Kracht, my agent is awesome at honing in and finding any flaw. By the time it hits the publisher and my editor, it’s usually pretty clean.

Do you exclusively write historical fiction or have you written in other genres?

So far it’s been just historical fiction. At least all my published works are historical fiction. I know that as writers we sometimes get the advice to “write what you know”, but I think that turns out to be terrible advice. Instead, if you listen to any lectures by Andre Dubus III, I think he nails it. You should write what you are authentically curious about. I love history. In particular, I love American history. I read almost all historical fiction and non-fiction about our nation’s past. So the whole LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD inspiration probably came from that deep curiosity about our own history as a nation.

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

Absolutely! It’s really difficult to sleep. I don’t force the writing. If I feel like it, I write. If I don’t, then I leave it be. I find that works for me. But I am most productive between 10pm and 2am. The kids are asleep. Nancy has most likely fallen asleep with the TV on, and I can just zone out and write. I like to get a chapter a night in. Once I start writing, I need to finish that chapter or scene. Then the next day I start by re-reading that chapter, editing, and then pushing forward.

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

About 6 months. I find that process is getting smoother, and at 6 months I’m fairly confident in the draft I have. LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD took me much longer, but that was the first real published work. I learned a lot from that process.

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

It’s a lot of reading. I can generally narrow it down to a time period, and a general event for background. For instance, with LAND OF WOLVES, I read a ton about the westward migration along the Oregon trail, and then the Lakota wars. So those factor heavily into the second portion of the book. I would say that I spend a good 2-3 months in research up front, then start writing. When I hit walls, I go back to the research.

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

And you want me to tell! Well, I never let anyone read a manuscript until it’s all the way done. I let Nancy read one half way once, and she crushed my motivation to keep going on it. So I finish it, then take a couple of passes myself on the manuscript, then I let her read it. Other than that, I keep a list of words (kind of like filter words if you do a google on that term), to search for in my manuscript. That list has been found from experience, and points to places where I need to make my writing more impactful, or closer to the reader.

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 have! Or maybe more truthfully, the background came to me when I was out on a road trip. Our family took a trip a couple years ago to Yellowstone, to celebrate my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. So we took an extra week and went along a portion of the route of the Ingles family. My oldest is a huge Little House on the Prairie fan, and she loved stopping at all the sites. So when we traveled through the Dakotas, I started feeling the call of LAND OF WOLVES, and that I had to set a portion of the novel there.

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

So for LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD, that’s easy. When I received Bill Phillip’s recommendation to let go of my current project and move on, I literally left work early. We talked at lunch, and I think I made it another hour before I drove home. I had sunk so much time into that project, to see it flounder was hard to take. It was even harder to have to go home and admit to my wife that I had been spending hours upon hours of my life writing and it would go nowhere. But on the way home I turned on NPR, and Fresh Air was on one of our local channels. Terri Gross was interviewing someone, and they were talking about presidents. When they got to Lincoln she said something to the effect of: “Wouldn’t it be a different country if President Lincoln had a real bodyguard?” And just like that, the title of LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD flashed in my head.

For LAND OF WOLVES, I don’t know if I have such a singular moment. I knew it had to be a continuation of LINCOLN’S BODYGUARD, and I had the first half mapped out in my head. But it took that trip out west to see the second half of the novel. The pull of the landscape and the history there was too great to ignore. It had to go in the book.

And finally, for ANGEL IN THE FOG (working title), which I just turned in, I knew it would be the prequel that would be all about Molly—my female protagonist. Molly really comes into her own in LAND OF WOLVES, and a few friends and readers were hounding me about her story. I just didn’t know if I could write well for a female character, especially as well as Molly deserves. Then, and this is going to sound corny, I first heard the Kesha song Praying, and that was it. I play that song before each writing session on Angel on the Fog. It put me in the right mood to write Molly, and really try to give her the voice she deserved.

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

It’s been a lot of Historical Fiction, and pure history. I might need to branch out! My favorite books? In non-fiction: Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, April 1865, the Month that Saved America, and XXX. Those books really show you how many stories we’ve lost to time. How many people who suffered, or persevered, or overcame awesome struggles, that we’ll never know about. I want to give them all a voice, even if I can only write a few books. On the fiction side, my absolute favorite is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I wish I could write like him. That was the first book where I NOTICED amazing writing. After that, Red Badge of Courage (an oldie!), Cold Mountain, and True Grit. All great reads.

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

YES! But if I tell you…but yes, I do!

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

Yes and no. They’re all bits and pieces of real people I meet and characters I make up.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

There’s a few that grab me as being under appreciated. One that comes to mind is True Grit. And I know, it’s wildly popular. But it didn’t win any awards that I can think of, and I think it kind of gets overlooked for one of the principal things it does—places a female character out front as a strong driving lead throughout the book. In fact, she’s the reason the men even take up the whole adventure. If you think about the setting, in the Old West, and when the book was written (1968), that’s pretty interesting. On the truly unappreciated side, there’s this book written by a former aid worker in Afghanistan: Allah’s Angels. If I remember right, it’s self-published, and it could have used some editorial work, but the basic story was very compelling. Again, a female lead in a male dominated world. It may have had its shortcomings in terms of the writing, but the story is something I still think on.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Glory Road by Robert Heinlein. I first picked it up form a discarded pile in Bagram Afghanistan in 2010. I read it, and thought…what the heck was that? Then I read it again. I still have no idea what really happens in that book, but every once in a while, it makes me think about it. Kind of crazy.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

I’ve done it! I admit it…the football player TJ Turner is still way more popular than I am!

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

I’ll go with the wolf. I like the quote that you sometimes see around: “The lion and tiger might be stronger, but the wolf does not perform in the circus.” It’s a pack animal and needs a family around to succeed. I’ve certainly needed that and continue to need the support of my pack.

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

I think my biggest weakness is truly flushing out my antagonists. Part of that in my first two novels comes from POV. I used the 1st person, so it’s hard to really get into the mind of the “enemy”. In ANGEL IN THE FOG, I wrote it in 3rd person, and that felt more natural. But the more believable and human you can make your antagonists, the higher the stakes. It becomes a better story.

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

READ. Then start writing. Then finish writing. Then find someone who loves you to look at it. Then find someone who DOESN’T love you to look at it.

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

The same! Being published is just another step in the journey, it doesn’t make you a better or worse writer. Keep striving to improve.

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

Probably the biggest way is through the Antioch Writer’s Workshop. I’m currently the President of the board of trustees, who organizes and runs the workshop. It’s a great place, where I got my start. So we’ve implemented many programs, including ones for young writers. If you’re looking for a community, come and check it out! We’re all about empowering writers.

Want more information on TJ and his books?

 

Lincoln’s Bodyguard

In Lincoln’s Bodyguard, an alternative version of American history, President Lincoln is saved from assassination. Though he prophesied his own death the only way he believed the South would truly surrender Lincoln never accounted for the heroics of his bodyguard, Joseph Foster. A biracial mix of white and Miami Indian, Joseph makes an enemy of the South by killing John Wilkes Booth and preventing the death of the president. His wife is murdered and his daughter kidnapped, sending Joseph on a revenge-fueled rampage to recover his daughter. When his search fails, he disappears as the nation falls into a simmering insurgency instead of an end to the War. Years later, Joseph is still running from his past when he receives a letter from Lincoln pleading for help. The President has a secret mission. Pursued from the outset, Joseph turns to the only person who might help, the woman he abandoned years earlier. If he can win Molly over, he might just fulfill the President s urgent request, find his daughter, and maybe even hasten the end of the War.

 

Buy Lincoln’s Bodyguard from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 Land of Wolves

Land of Wolves finds Joseph Foster with Molly as they settle into a new-found life in the hills of Tennessee. But Abraham Lincoln’s former bodyguard, the man who saved the President’s life, cannot escape the Consortium as they come roaring back, killing his mother, abducting his daughter—all to coerce his Congressional testimony on their behalf.

Instead, Joseph and Molly strike the Consortium in their own safe haven of New York City. In a Bonnie and Clyde-like twist, they rob from the Consortium to draw out their leader—General Dorsey. But the hidden plan reveals more than they counted on, exposing the true intention to steal the Black Hills and the gold underneath from the Lakota Sioux. Land of Wolves traverses the American landscape, where only a full reconciliation with Joseph’s native heritage and a cast of characters ripped from history—including Lincoln—can bring true peace and stop General Dorsey and the evil Industrial Consortium.

 

Buy Land of Wolves from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

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Announcement: The Light at Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners Book 2)

I am so happy to announce that my second book, The Light at Finnigan’s End, is going to be published on November 5, 2018. I am again working with the wonderful team at Changing Tides Publishing and this novel will be a follow up to A Shine That Defies the Dark, as well as #2 in The Rum Runners series.

 

Here is a little about The Light At Finnigan’s End:

Irish immigrant Deirdre Cassidy is determined to find out what happened to her brother, Finn. With the Great Depression sweeping the nation, Finn turned to the Moret Gang as a means of earning money and now he’s missing.

Deirdre manipulates her way into the depths of the most brutal bootleggers in southern Louisiana and one thing is clear, nothing happens without the approval of Claude Moret or his brother Jack. Before it’s over, Deirdre is determined to kill them both, even if she dies in the process.

The one thing Deirdre never counted on was Mo Moret. Claude’s son is as dangerous as he is magnetic, but Deirdre isn’t convinced he’ll ever be able to set aside his Moret loyalty for love. And Deirdre is determined to see the end of the Morets, however that end must come.

 

For those who are subscribed to my newsletter you’ll get a special sneak peak within the next week. If you’d like an early look at the first two chapters you still have time to sign up for my newsletter here

Many thanks to everyone who continued to ask for a second book and everyone who helped me along the way.

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Author Spotlight: Lucinda Stein

Name: Lucinda Stein

Author of: Jadeite’s Journey (Inkspell Publishing) and Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe

 

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

My first writing was free verse, but after all these years, I couldn’t tell you what I wrote about. I went on to write a novella (to be forever buried in a drawer!)

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

In the beginning, I wrote for my own enjoyment. Later I joined a writers’ group and discovered how much I needed to learn about the craft of writing. With the encouragement of other writers, I eventually worked to get my writing published.

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

Two gracious people were willing to look at my work and give me feedback. At that point, I took my writing seriously and became committed to learning everything I could about writing. Note: This is a lifelong process!

Do you exclusively write sci-fi/fantasy or have you written in other genres?

Jadeite’s Journey was my first sci-fi/dystopian novel, but I’m definitely a multi-genre author. I’ve written historical fiction, contemporary women’s fiction, a collection of short stories, and young adult fiction. I’m currently working on a YA magic realism novel.

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

While I was working fulltime, I would write for an hour or so after work. Now that I’m retired, I don’t have those same time constraints, but I still need to push myself and keep a regular writing routine.

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

My rough draft usually takes four to six months. With historical fiction, the process can take a year to two years. Revisions, which includes my own editing and suggestions from critique groups, can take a year or longer.

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

I usually have a rough idea how the story starts and ends. I do a character study for the main character. One of the most important things is to determine what the MC wants most deeply and why they struggle to attain that desire. This should be an emotional drive (to discover their true worth, find the strength to forgive, etc.) vs. an outward need (such as a job, relationship, etc.) which can be a subplot in the story.

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

I don’t spin three times before sitting down to the computer, but I do like to have coffee or a cold drink at my desk. In the beginning, I used music to set the mood, but now I’ve been writing for so long that just putting fingertips to keyboard gets my brain activated!

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

My first novel came out of lone hiking trips in the San Juan Mountains. Twice I took a wrong turn—once my German shepherd led me back to the trail and on another trip, a friendly hiker steered me straight! After coming across old mining ruins, I was inspired to write my first book, Maggie’s Way: The Story of a Defiant Pioneer Woman, published by Western Reflections Publishing.
A few years ago, I traveled with my husband to Oklahoma and visited his grandparents’ homestead. After hearing family stories while we were there, I found one particular event kept coming back to me. Soon I was researching the Depression era in Oklahoma and the Comanche tribe of which my husband is a member. The result was Dry Run, Oklahoma, a 2018 Oklahoma Book Award finalist.

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

Usually a very small thing is the seed for my story, but it’s an event that sticks in my mind until I write about it. Jadeite’s Journey, my YA novel, came out of my concern for the trouble in the world. I imagined a “perfect” future society. Of course to make a good story, this world turns out to have its own set of problems.

My adult novel, Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe, was inspired by a young woman who actually lived in the back of her antique store. The setting for my book is my hometown, which made for a lot of fun. The eccentric mother in the story—totally fictional!

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

Like my writing, I enjoy a variey of books from YA to adult, contemporary to classics.

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

I don’t intentionally hide things, but writers are definitely thieves. Like that old saying among writers—Watch out or you may turn up in one of my books. (Different names and faces of course!)

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

Consciously or unconsciously, I’m sure my characters are composites of people I’ve known.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I loved Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, a National Book Award finalist and a Printz Award winner. The book shows up occasionally on Instagram (bookstagrams, specifically) but for the most part, seems underappreciated. It’s a unique YA book with a great theme.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

This winter, I read Les Miserable, a 900 page classic. I love the theme of redemption and fresh starts. The guilty part? I had to skim and skip the long passages about the French Revolution and other exceedingly long parts of French political history.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Occasionally, I check on the results of a book promotion.

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

Definitely an owl. They’re always watching (for mistakes, improvement, inspiration) and wise in making decisions (revision, storyline.)

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

I struggle with finding where to start the story. There’s always the temptation to give too much information too soon. The reader need to be “hooked” into the story more than they need to know the main character or anything leading up to the story. Start with conflict and an inciting event.

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

A healthy critique group is essential for growth. Each member should be committed to improving his/her own work. This includes studying the advice of professional writers from books and workshops, and a willingness to take suggestions. In a good critique group, everyone wants to see each other improve.

If a suggestion is made by two or more people, take serious note of that suggestion. There’s so much to learn about the art and craft of writing that the effort can be daunting. Perseverance is required—it’s hard work—but hang in there and never stop learning.

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

Prepare yourself to be disappointed with book sales. Promotion is grueling and building a following takes time. Learn everything you can about the business and pump other authors (hopefully gracious ones) about things you should be doing.

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

Without any financial compensation, I took on a new writer who wanted mentoring. She was so dedicated to learning she quickly grew in skill, became published, and now we critique each other’s work! I am so grateful for the writers in my life who were willing to share what they had learned that I try to pass it on. I encourage new writers to join writers’ groups and also find a critique group with members dedicated to helping each other in a kind, supportive manner.

Want to know more about Lucinda?

 

Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe 

After growing up in the back of a secondhand store, Liza swore she’d never return home. But twenty-three-year-old Liza has lost all sense of direction after her divorce. Her mother, Minnie, a product of the hippie era, now resides in an antique store, her eccentricity known to all in the small Midwestern town. To Liza’s chagrin, she’s once again living in a store.

When a toddler is abandoned in Minnie’s shop, Liza takes in the child she calls Sweetie, hoping the young woman who left her will return. Liza soon finds her priorities change. She falls in love with the little girl and refuses to report Sweetie to the authorities. When the young woman who abandoned the child returns a year later, Liza’s force to make a decision—give up Sweetie or go the run.

Buy Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 

 

Jadeite’s Journey 

Jadeite’s perfect world comes crashing down on her. In the futuristic world of United Society, her only problem has been how to act around the cute boy on the air shuttle. But Jadeite’s world changes when she comes across a man who looks alarmingly like her father. Clones were declared illegal years ago. When she sees her father, a robotic engineer, headed to the Dark Edge of United Society, she follows him and uncovers her father’s secret life.

Jadeite shadows her father past the boundary of United Society and into a primitive world of canyons and high deserts. She learns her father is a Ridge Runner passing between the two worlds. Even more alarming, she discovers her younger brother, Malachite, is sick and requires medicine only available from over the Ridge. After her father is arrested, Jadeite takes his place in order to save her brother’s life.

But her world turns even more precarious after she breaks up with her obsessive boyfriend, Mattie. Jadeite soon learns his threats are more than words, and she finds her life is in jeopardy.

Buy Jadeite’s Journey from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

 

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Writing A Second Novel

Writing a novel is so much pressure. You struggle to come up with a decent concept, struggle with world-building, develop interesting characters that will grow and evolve, make sure there aren’t any unresolved plot points and that you’ve reached the end you envisioned. Next you must edit—remove unnecessary commas, correct misspelled words, replace filtering words, hunt down the illustrious “show vs tell” segments. Then you dive into the submission pressure pool of writing a query and synopsis, researching agents/publishers and submitting. But once you’ve published that first book the pressure is a thing of the past, right?

Erm, in a word…no! 

Welcome to the Follow-Up Foibles, aka all the pitfalls that can make your second novel even more stressful than the first.

 

The fears and stressors that affect your writing during book two:

  • If you’ve got a contract/deadline for book #2 you’re under more pressure to complete your next book within a certain time frame. Luckily, I didn’t. My first novel was signed as a stand-alone and #2, though a companion novel, was developed after A Shine That Defies the Dark was contracted.
  • With your first novel you’re filled with optimism and still a blank canvas as an author. Nobody has preconceived ideas about your writing style or skill. With book 2 you have an established skill level, voice and marketability as a debut author. You can fall to the pressure of having to “prove yourself”—and the fear that each book thereafter will be used to gauge your skill as a writer.
  • With Book 2, you know now how much hard work comes after the novel is written. You know that after the soul-crushing, gut-wrenching work of writing your book is done you’ll be back in the trenches of promoting and marketing, not just one book now, but both.
  • There is an undeniable fear that you’ll disappoint your readers. What if everyone who loved book 1 are lukewarm about #2? Will you feel you’ve failed  them? Will you have failed your book? If book 2 doesn’t stand up will you have failed Book 1 as well?
  • After months (or years!) of reading, re-reading and editing book 1, you thought you were done with it, right? Well, if Book 2 is a sequel you’ll need to re-read book 1 (at least once!) for timeline, character growth, minor character reintroduction and plot line. Setting up a calendar, or event timeline that ties both books together can help so that you only must do this step once.
  • There is a great deal of stress in trying to make book #2 at least as good as the last and the paralyzing self-doubt that it isn’t even close. This fear can wreak havoc on your creativity and productiveness.
  • There is a degree of pressure in people asking when your next book will be out. While you’re happy they want more, the paralyzing self-doubt that “I’m a scam and the first book was a fluke” can impact your creative process. If I hadn’t finished my 1st novel, very few people would know. If I fail to finish book 2, well…more would know
  • Will my second book be as good a concept? Will my pacing and action balance well with the romance? Will my “steamy” scenes just seem like I recycled the ones from book 1? Will there be anything unique to the readers or will it seem like the same story with different character names in a different town?

 

The good news about the stress involved in writing book two:

  • Some of the stress is healthy for your writing. It shows you care, you aren’t taking it for granted that you’re a published author and don’t have to work so hard anymore.
  • If you’re obsessing over the details, it means you’re thinking about them. What sets this novel apart? How can I make it unique? You care about the quality of your work, which is good.
  • You don’t have to let the stress impact you in a negative way. Use it to fuel your productivity and creativity. There is nothing wrong with striving to do better. Just be sure to balance the inspiration with relaxation (take a walk, watch a movie, read a book!). Creativity is fueled in the quiet times a well as the busy ones.

When you’re done you’ll have a new book to be proud of. 

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Author Spotlight: Kim Chance

Name:  Kim Chance

Author of: Keeper; Seeker (coming Fall 2019)

From: Flux Books

 

 

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

The first piece of original fiction I remember ever writing was a short story about a girl named Katie and a boy named Barry who fall madly and love and get married. It was about three pages long. I was very much into romance and fairy tales when I was younger! I still have it somewhere, though I think I’d be slightly horrified to read it! Can we say insta-love? LOL! 

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

I majored in Journalism in college, so I was already on the path of using writing for my career, but I never occurred to me to pursue fiction writing until after I had graduated. I was 22 and newly married. My hubby was deployed and I was living in a brand new town with no friends or family nearby. I started dabbling in fanfiction just for fun, and when a friend suggested I write my own story, I decided to give it a try! The rest, as they say, is history!

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

 Not really. I sort of fumbled way through it on my own, to be honest. I did a lot of research and read a lot of craft books. Now, I’m part of a wonderful writing community and I have some amazing people in my corner. However, when I first started this journey, it was pretty much just me, my laptop, and a dream!

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

I’ve not written in other genres yet, but I’d like to in the future. I really don’t want to limit myself or put myself in a box. I know they say that writers should stick to one genre, but I’m not sure I agree with that. I plan to tell whatever story I’m most passionate about at the time, regardless of genre. Fantasy is definitely a soft spot for me, so I’m sure I will continue to write those types of stories, but I’d love to branch out as well.

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

My schedule is 100% unpredictable. I have two school-age children and a baby. That in itself is a recipe for chaos! J I do the majority of my writing at night once the littles are asleep. It’s not ideal, but it’s the only time I can truly focus without interruptions. I do try to squeeze writing time in during the day if I can (i.e. while the baby naps), but I usually have other responsibilities to manage during that time (laundry, cleaning the house, paying bills, etc.) as well. It is VERY difficult to juggle everything, and honestly, I’m not sure I’ve yet to figure out a true work/life/writing balance yet. I’m constantly working towards that though. I think the key is readjustment and trial and error. Just keep changing things up until you find what works for you!

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

FOREVER. I’m seriously the world’s slowest drafter. When I wrote Keeper, I wasn’t agented and I didn’t have a publishing contract, so I wrote on my own timetable. It took me about three years to write the draft that ended up being the published book. For Seeker, the sequel to Keeper, I’m on deadline with my publisher. I have a little less than six months to write and turn in the draft. No pressure! Revisions tend to go much quicker for me because I enjoy the revision process so much more than drafting. I’ll likely get about two months or so to revise Seeker before it gets sent off for ARC printing.

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

I’m a big plotter, so I do an extensive outline and character profiles before I begin each book. If there’s research to be done, I typically try to do as much as I can ahead of time, but stuff always comes up while I’m drafting too.

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

Haha! No, not really. I’m pretty boring! I do need music and hard candy though (jolly ranchers are my fav!).

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

Unfortunately, not. I’ve never been outside of the US, which is something I hope to remedy soon! There are so many places I’d love to see and visit—especially for writing inspiration!

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

For me, I don’t think it was one specific thing that inspired the story in Keeper. There were many things! I do remember the moment when a certain plot twist popped into my head. It changed EVERYTHING I had already written, but it was so exciting, I didn’t mind!

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

I’m a pretty eclectic reader, but fantasy and historical are my favorites!

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

I didn’t do that in Keeper, nor do I have anything like that planned for Seeker. However, I do have another WIP that I plan to finish after Seeker is turned in. In that book, there are multiple easter eggs!

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

Yes and no. Most of the characters are entirely their own people, but there are some bits and pieces I pulled from real like. For example, Lainey’s name comes from my middle name which is Elaine. I’m named after my grandmother and wanted to honor her in that way. Also, Maggie, Lainey’s best friend, is very similar to my real life best friend, Carrie. Carrie isn’t a comic book nerd, but she is fiercely loyal and protective of me and always has my back—just like Maggie always has Lainey’s! I also used my husband as inspiration for the villain of the story, the Master. That sounds really odd, doesn’t it? Lol! My husband has a pretty dry sarcastic wit and so does the Master. That’s where the similarities stop though!

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer. It’s her adult sci-fi and it’s one of my favorite books of all time. It’s so undervalued and appreciated, which is a shame because it’s an incredible book. I can’t recommend it enough.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Twilight, of course! (Also, by Stephenie Meyer)

 Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

 Not very often, but I have done it before!

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

 I would definitely choose a fox! I think they’re cute and clever!

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

Characterization. I always feel like I need to dig a little deeper with my characters. I usually get there, but it takes a while to really get inside their heads.

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

 Don’t be your own worst enemy. Writing a book is a difficult process, and it’s very easy to succumb to self-doubt and fear. Don’t stop yourself from doing what you love just because it’s scary. Keep writing and never stop. You can do it!

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

Don’t read your reviews. I know the temptation is there, but don’t do it. Reviews are for readers not for authors, and while the good reviews are awesome, negative reviews can really hamper creativity. Have someone else send you the good ones, but stay away from the bad ones. Protect your creative headspace!

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

Helping other writers is super important to me! That’s why I started my YouTube channel so that I could share what I’ve learned on my journey with others. I post weekly writing advice videos on my channel. I also host a monthly twitter chat to help writers connect with other writers under the hashtag #Chance2Connect. The chat is on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 9pm CST.

Want to find out more about Kim?

 

Keeper

When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother.

After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book. But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic.

With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book.

 

Get your copy of Keeper from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

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