Author Spotlight: Laurie Bell

Name: Laurie Bell  

Author of: The Butterfly Stone (Wyvern’s Peak Publishing)

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? I think it was a Choose Your Own Adventure story, about a female Doctor Who. I wrote it with a writer friend after school, (I still have it too). But I know I was writing stories well before then, this is just the one that sticks in my memory. I probably wrote fan fiction too… I loved the book The BFG when I was little so I would not be surprised if I wrote something along those lines.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? Seriously? About 5 years ago, but I have been writing since I was a little kid and then when the internet came along I was writing online in various chats, message boards and blogs all the time. A lot of fan fiction stuff and a lot of my own musings, bits and bobs and things that made me happy. LOL I was an angsty teenager, so probably a heap of that too.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? I did a lot of research online and I have a really good friend, who was also going through the author journey at the same time. We helped and still help each other a lot. Once I got onto the online writer community on Twitter things really took off. I have met some wonderful and supportive writers online, met some fabulous CPs (Critique Partners) and editors and friends. You sort of learn things together and help each other out. One person who really was fabulous was a fellow writer (who is also with my publisher). Lauren is an amazing writer and super supportive of her fellow authors.

Do you exclusively Sci-fi/fantasy or have you written in other genres? I mostly write Sci Fi and Fantasy. I’ve also dabbled in Supernatural Contemporary, but I am certainly more comfortable amongst spaceships and magic. It’s my one true love so to speak. When I was little my Poppa read me a book of short stories over and over about knights, witches, dragons and trolls… I got my first taste of fantasy sitting on his knee listening to him read.

 What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? HA! Work life balance? What’s that? I work full time, so I mostly write on the train, at lunchtime and in coffee shops on the weekend. I aim for a chapter a week… sometimes I get more, sometimes less. Depends on the stage of the book I’m at, and, if I’m at the beginning, middle or end or if I am editing.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? First draft usually takes about 6 to 8 months. Then up to a year of edits, depending on if I actually like the first draft or if I end up doing a major rewrite. I also send it to my CP’s for things I miss. My CP’s are the best in the world!

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? As my books tend to be sci fi or fantasy, it’s not so much research as it is worldbuilding. But I do google a lot, read as much as I can, A lot of non-fiction science mags and books too. I enjoy learning and sort of absorb a lot as I read. It finds its way into my stories. In the end, my stories are about the people. Families and friends, so I also look around me at the way people interact with each other. The world is research if you sit back and look. (and a lot of TV and movies… As far as I am concerned… everything is research).

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Hmmmmm do I want to tell you? Haha, I don’t know that they are embarrassing, but yes quirky perhaps? I hand write my first draft (and I have awful handwriting… when I’m in a flow it’s hard to actually read my draft back. When I type it all up I can stare at the page for a good ten minutes trying to figure out what it was that I wrote!

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’d love to go to NASA one day. There is also a space array in WA, Australia that I would love to visit… or Hawaii, when there is not an eruption taking place (Mind you…. How amazing are the pictures? Mother nature at her most violent and beautiful.)

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? Oh…. It’s funny. Sometimes it is a view, or an overheard phrase. With The Butterfly Stone it was actually a prompt. I wrote a short story based on a random prompt I read and loved the character so much I wanted to tell the rest of her story.

For Blood Fever (my upcoming novel) I can remember writing parts of it in my little rental on my recliner but I can’t remember the prompt. I know I wanted a female James Bond in space. Secret Agents and spaceships, who wouldn’t want that.

For White Fire (Jan 2019) well… I wrote that when I was 17 (way way way back in the past… and I wrote that because… well… Star Wars (originals). The Empire Strikes Back was my favorite movie. But I wanted Princess Leia to be Han Solo (In my head she was). So, I wrote the Star Wars movie I wanted to see when I was little. A kick ass hero who could rescue herself, defeat the bad guys and save the galaxy.

My newest WIP well… hahaha that came to me on the train.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? Sci Fi and fantasy of course. Anything by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Chuck Wendig. And fan fiction novels… you know, the novelisations that continue a TV show or move once it’s been cancelled? I LOVE those.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Oh yeah, I have references all the way though, but mostly to amuse myself. IF people reading them find them and get the reference well, that’s like an added bonus!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes and no, my characters – my main characters – are all based on who I wish I could be. (Brave, dangerous, awesome…)

Otherwise, mostly they are completely made up… though White Fire does have a few people in it that my friends know about 😊

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. Do you have a couple of years? Hahahaha. Honestly, there are so many indie books that people just don’t know about. I am always giving friends recommendations of books I love. (For sci fi fans… you have to read The Illuminae Files) for Supernatural Noir (The Burned Man series)

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. Oooooooo Pride and Prejudice. But I kinda wish Lizzy had told Darcy to go…. *rest of sentence deleted for inappropriate content*

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? Absolutely. Hahahah there is an American Footballer with my name so unless I put in “writer” or “author” in the search field I am always disappointed!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? I like to believe it would be a wolf or eagle… Something about being a protector of the pack (but also a loner), but somehow I think it would probably be a house cat, like a Burmese 😊 (At least that’s what my partner would say)

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Grammar, OMG I’m not even trying to hide that one. And show… show show show *Sigh!*

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Don’t give up. Stick at it and ignore the people who tell you not to bother or that it is a waste of time and energy for little return. If you love it… do it anyway.

And to understand that rejections are not about YOU as a person. It’s a hard one to learn, but once you understand that, it’s a lot easier to accept a rejection and keep on keeping on.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Don’t stop writing… ever.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I love reading, I will read anything anyone sends me (provided I have time). I love to read, so if you ask and if I have time, I will read anything for anyone and offer suggestions. I’m also happy to listen. It’s a tough business, sometimes just being there is enough.

Want to find more about Laurie?

The Butterfly Stone (The Stones of Power, Book 1)  

“DON’T LET THE SHADOW TOUCH YOU.”

Beware! Something is after Tracey Masters, a Mage-kind teen in a mostly non-magical world—a world where people like Tracey are often feared, and oppressed. Add to this stress a crazy family life, the schizo pressures of school, friends, and bullies, and working a boring job as an assistant at her uncle’s detective agency for magical types, and life isn’t just hard, it’s chaos! That is, until a mysterious woman walks through the door with a case about a missing necklace known as the Butterfly Stone.

The case seems to be the big break Tracey is looking for to prove herself and her abilities as Mage-kind. But she unexpectedly finds herself dangerously connected to it when the evidence takes a turn that reveals secrets from Tracey’s past, and places her friends and family in mortal danger.

She also discovers that she’s being hunted by a shadow that senses her magic is the key to unlocking the power it’s after.
The magic within the Butterfly Stone is too powerful to be contained, but if Tracey doesn’t learn how to control it, and escape the threat of the shadow that surrounds it, she could lose everything and everyone she cares about … beginning with her younger sister, Sarah.

Laurie Bell’s first young adult novel is fresh, fast-paced, and fun. It’s filled with what makes life interesting, hard, and yet, worth living. You’ll believe in magic again, but you’ll also remember that the magic of family and friendship is where life is best lived.

 

Get The Butterfly Stone from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

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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.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

 

 

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.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Author Spotlight: Brenda Drake

 Name:  Brenda Drake

Author of: Analise Rising (coming January, 2019)

The Library Jumpers series: Thief of Lies; Guardian of Secrets; Assassin of Truths

The Fated series: Touching Fate; Cursing Fate; Seeking Fate (coming June, 2018)

Thunderstruck

 

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

I was eight, I believe, and it was a story about a rabbit looking for his lost carrots. It was horribly illustrated, but my grandmother loved it.

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

I always loved writing, but it wasn’t until I was home with the kids that I decided to give publishing my stories a try.

 

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

My journey to publishing started out without having anyone to talk to about writing. It wasn’t until I found Twitter and blogging did I find writer friends. I guess it’s been my many writer friends and my current editors who have read and critique my work that have helped and advised me on my publishing journey.

 

Do you exclusively write books with a  paranormal/fantasy twist  or have you written in other genres?

Currently, all my books have a paranormal/fantasy twist. I love being in the fantastical. I may try other genres one day, but for now I’m happy what I write. I think that’s the most important thing. You have to enjoy what you write because other parts of the publishing journey is difficult but writing should be enjoyable.

 

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

I’m so off balance when I’m writing a book. It’s all I concentrate on. I’ll write from morning to night, only stopping when I have to, when something needs to be taking care of. I keep trying to follow a schedule, but it never works. I’m just not good at being hemmed into a schedule. I write when the inspiration hits me.

 

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

It usually takes me four to six weeks to write a first draft and about a month for revisions. Then if I have time, I have a critique partner read it and revise it again.

 

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

Each book is different and has varying amounts of preparation and research. With fantasy, much of it is made up from your imagination and things come to me as I write. Mostly, I have to research real places that are in my books, maybe weapons and techniques for fighting and things like that. I do a plot graph of each book and it takes me several hours to only a few hours to plot out a story.

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

I have to have some sort of noise going while I write. Usually, it’s music. Sometimes it’s a movie that inspires me that I’ve seen so many times that I know what’s going on in it because I don’t pay attention to it while I’m writing. It’s weird, but I think it has to do with feeling lonely in the quiet.

 

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 haven’t done a pilgrimage. My dream is to do a tour of libraries around the world. That would be the best bucket list ever!

 

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

I can! With the Library Jumpers series it was in a book store and I came across a coffee table book on libraries. I thought how great it would be if I could jump into the photographs of each library to see them for real. For my Fated series, it was during a tarot card reading in New Orleans.

 

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

I prefer reading young adult fantasy. It’s my favorite, but I read in all categories and genres. For me, it’s about the story. If it interests me, I’ll read it.

 

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

Yes, I do. No one has pointed them out yet, so I may have hidden them too well. Ha!

 

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

They’re somewhat inspired by people I know in real life. I borrow traits and quirks from the people around me.

 

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I can’t think of any one book. There are so many books I feel that don’t get enough marketing behind them that should.

 

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

I’ve thought and thought over this one and I don’t know if it’s a guilty pleasure or not, but I loved Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

 

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Yes. And sometimes it’s sad. Ha!

 

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

I’d say an owl. They’re beautiful, quiet, and they look as if they’re always contemplating their next move.

 

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

Spelling and pronunciation. They’re my Kryptonite. After an accident, I had difficulties hearing sounds while growing up and it continues to this day. I’ll have my friends repeat a word several times so that I can get it. And I never mind being corrected because it helps me with it. I’m a little self-conscious speaking in front of large groups. I struggle, but I still do it.

 

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

Learn your craft. Read widely. The key to success is perseverance. If you give up, you’ll never accomplish your dreams.

 

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

Relax and enjoy the ride. Don’t spend too much on swag. And remember all authors get bad reviews.

 

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

I founded Pitch Wars and #PitMad as a way of paying it forward to others. I also mentor in Pitch Wars sometimes. Giving back to the community is rewarding and will make you life long friends.

 

Interested in learning more about Brenda or her books?

 

Thunderstruck

Stevie Moon is famous…at least to the subscribers on her comic review vlog. At school, she’s as plain as the gray painted walls in the cafeteria. So when Blake, the hot new guy at school, shows an interest in her, she knows trouble when she sees it. Been there. And never doing it again.

As the son of the god Thor, Blake Foster’s been given an important mission—to recover the Norse god Heimdall’s sacred and powerful horn before someone uses it to herald in the destruction of the entire universe. But while Blake is great in a fight, the battlefield that is a high school’s social scene is another matter.

Blake knows his only choice is to team up with the adorable Stevie, but she’s not willing to give him even the time of day. He’ll need to woo the girl and find the horn if he hopes to win this war. Who better to tackle Stevie’s defenses than the demi-god of thunder?

Get Thunderstruck from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

The Library Jumpers Series:

 Thief of Lies

Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels-magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books-rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.

Get Thief of Lies from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Guardian of Secrets

Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairytales and secret gardens.

Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it.

And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia.

Maybe. If she survives.

Get Guardian of Secrets from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Assassin of Truths

The gateways linking the great libraries of the world don’t require a library card, but they do harbor incredible dangers.

And it’s not your normal bump-in-the- night kind. The threats Gia Kearns faces are the kind with sharp teeth and knifelike claws. The kind that include an evil wizard hell-bent on taking her down.

Gia can end his devious plan, but only if she recovers seven keys hidden throughout the world’s most beautiful libraries. And then figures out exactly what to do with them.

The last thing she needs is a distraction in the form of falling in love. But when an impossible evil is unleashed, love might be the only thing left to help Gia save the world.

Get Assassin of Truths from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

The Fated Series:

Touching Fate

One touch is all it takes…

Aster Layne believes in physics, not psychics. A tarot card reading on the Ocean City Boardwalk should have been a ridiculous, just-for-fun thing. It wasn’t. Aster discovers she has a very unscientific gift-with a simple touch of the cards, she can change a person’s fate.

Reese Van Buren is cursed. Like the kind of old-school, centuries-old curse that runs in royal families. Every firstborn son is doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday-and Reese’s is coming up fast. Bummer. He tries to distract himself from his inevitable death…only to find the one person who can save him.

Aster doesn’t know that the hot Dutch guy she’s just met needs her help-or that he’s about to die.
But worst of all…she doesn’t know that her new gift comes with dark, dark consequences that can harm everyone she loves.

Get Touching Fate from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Cursing Fate

There’s something strange about the Layne sisters, and Wade Diaz wants nothing to do with them. Especially the one who ripped his heart out and set it on fire before tossing it in the garbage several months ago. Iris. He can’t even think her name without unconsciously rubbing the spot in his chest where she left a gaping hole. But now her sisters are claiming some evil spirit is after his soul, and Iris is the only one who can save him. Well, at least his heart would stop hurting, right? Didn’t sound so bad.

Iris Layne has always been the sweet sister. She’s kind to everyone, including her best friend Wade… Until she makes a horrible mistake and breaks his heart. All she wants is to go back to before ‘the dumping’. Of course, Wade would rather see her in hell first. But then Iris touches her sister’s tarot cards and unleashes an evil curse intent on playing a deadly game where no one Iris loves is safe, especially Wade.

How do you convince someone they need your help when you’re the one who hurt them most?

Get Cursing Fate from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

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Cover Reveal: The Aviary by Emily Shore

The Aviary
Emily Shore
(The Aviary Series, #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 5th 2019
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult

I am nobody’s Swan.

Beauty is now a corporate commodity, bought and sold on city streets and displayed in elite Museums.

Sixteen-year-old Serenity has spent her entire life in hiding, to keep safe from this decadent world. Overnight, her parents disappear, and Serenity is kidnapped, sold at auction, and thrust into the Aviary—an illustrious Museum where girls are displayed as living art by day and at night, cater to the lascivious whims of men who bid on their exhibits. Serenity has much to learn about this enthralling but competitive world where girls go by names like Raven and Nightingale and will stop at nothing to become top Bird.

The enigmatic and deadly Aviary Director, Luc, soon idolizes Serenity’s purity and aims to turn her into his grandest exhibit of all time—The Swan. In no time, she becomes the most coveted exhibit in the Aviary’s history.

Soon, Serenity learns that Luc holds the key to finding, and freeing, her parents. To save them, she must learn to play the Swan to perfection to win Luc’s heart, earn his trust, and save her parents. She doesn’t count on the fact that she’ll develop feelings for Luc in the process. Now, she’ll have to face an impossible decision: escape The Aviary and lose her only chance at finding her parents; or become Luc’s Swan for good, and lose her identity forever.

Add to Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Emily Shore is a MN author with a B.A. in Creative Writing from Metro State University and was a grand prize winner of #PitchtoPublication, which led her to working with professionals in the publishing industry. Her anti-trafficking books Ruby in the Rough and Ruby in the Ruins are her first indie-published books with proceeds benefiting trafficking rescue organizations: Breaking Free and Women at Risk, International. This summer she will be debuting her first contemporary novel as well as re-releasing her paranormal series in the fall: Roseblood

Emily lives in Saint Paul with her husband and two little girls. In her free time, she enjoys connecting with rescue organizations and survivors of sex-trafficking, hearing their stories, and injecting their truths into her books for youth. She loves motivational speaking on the issue of sex-trafficking and is lining up more schools and libraries for the fall and winter, campaigning against sex-trafficking, baking, acrylic painting, interior decorating, and spending time with all the little girls in her life.

To learn more about Emily’s work and the anti-trafficking movement, see her Facebook page where she regularly blogs: www.facebook.com/authoremilyshore and sign up for her newsletter through the Contact Me on her website: www.emilybethshore.com

Website / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Author Spotlight: Gloria Chao

Name: Gloria Chao

Author of: American Panda (Simon Pulse) and Misaligned (coming fall 2019)

 

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

I remember writing and illustrating a lot of stories as a kid, and here’s a sneak peek at one of them involving a…dun dun dunnn…missing snowglobe!

 

 

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

My husband saw how passionate I was about writing and was the first to suggest I pursue it professionally. It had never occurred to me before that moment that it was an option for me, and his belief in my words was what set me on this path. There were years of doubts that followed, but there is no regret.

 

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

On a whim, I submitted my query to The Book Doctor’s NaNoWriMo Pitchapalooza, and The Book Doctors became an important part of my publishing journey. They gave me invaluable advice about where my book fit into the market, and it was their idea to age Mei down to seventeen and write the book as young adult. I am forever grateful to them for their expertise and for also being the first in the industry to believe in me.

 

Do you exclusively write contemporary YA or have you written in other genres?

Fantasy was my first YA love, and there will always be a special place for it even though contemporary is my main love now. Most of my future book ideas are YA contemporary, but sometimes I do have a fantasy idea that will pop in. For now, I want to continue exploring realistic fiction, Asian American characters, and struggles with identity, but perhaps I will write in another genre in the future.

 

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

Because I’m lucky enough to write full-time, I don’t find it too difficult to achieve a life/write balance. While drafting and revising, I tend to live and dream my book to the point where I’m always thinking about it, but it’s more because of passion than necessity. Sometimes I do have to work around the clock to meet deadlines, but it’s a privilege I’m grateful for.

 

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

American Panda was drafted in one month for NaNoWriMo. I revised for a year and a half on my own, two months with my agent, then another five months with my editor. Misaligned was drafted in spurts over a three-month period during which American Panda was released, and most likely I will be in revisions with my editor for five or six months. Misaligned feels like the speed of light compared to American Panda!

 

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

For me, the book doesn’t start flowing until I find the protagonist’s voice. Most of my preparation involves free writing to try to figure out exactly who they are and how they talk. For Misaligned, I also did some research on 19th Century China!

 

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

Hmmm…my writing habits are: cup of tea, music in the background, two screens (one for Word, one for research). Because I live in Chicago, I need fingerless typing gloves and a mug warmer in the winter (and sometimes spring because our cold season is way too long!).

 

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

Nothing interesting, but for Misaligned, my husband and I have explored Indiana farmland. I’m hoping one of my future books will be set someplace more tropical 😉

 

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? For American Panda, it was my husband telling me I needed to tell my story combined with my desire to write the book I needed as a teen. For Misaligned, my mother told me about a newspaper article she’d read describing a phenomenon in China. I immediately thought, This needs to be in a book, and the idea formed from there. My third book idea actually also started from a newspaper article.

 

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? YA contemporary is my main love. Some favorites: The Hate U Give, The Sun is Also a Star, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, They Both Die at the End, Starfish, You’ll Miss Me When You’re Gone, Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, It’s Not Me, It’s You.

 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Yes! I leave a lot of inside jokes to my husband in my writing. I also have some jokes for my family in there.

 

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes, almost all of my characters are inspired at least in part by people I know well, people I’ve met in passing, and people I’ve heard about from others.

 

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. Starfish. I know it was a William Morris finalist and is critically acclaimed, but I think it deserves even more attention.

 

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. Twilight!

 

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? I don’t. I just don’t want to know.

 

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

 

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

Write your story and focus on what makes you unique!

 

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

Congratulations, you did it!!! Figure out what works for you, and it might be different from others (i.e. how much social media, whether or not to look at reviews, etc).

 

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?
When I have time, I offer critiques of queries, Twitter pitches, and opening pages to aspiring writers. I also have a blog where I give my tips and share my publishing journey: https://gloriachao.wordpress.com/blog/. All the resources I used during my journey can be found here: https://gloriachao.wordpress.com/writers-nook/.

 

Want to know more about Gloria?

 

American Panda 

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth—that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.

 

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Cover Reveal: Travel Diaries of the Dead and Delusional by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Travel Diaries of the Dead and Delusional
Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: February 18th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Nineteen-year-old Langley is crazy…like get out the straight jacket and prepare the padded room kind of crazy. She knows it, and the kicker is—she’s choosing to stay that way. She clings to the persistent and intrusive hallucination of her dead sister by choice. Sure, it might be nice to live life in the real world. But not if it means she has to let Sarah go.

Tupper’s life is charmed. He has loving adoptive parents, and several athletic college scholarships on the table. But his passion is for the arts, for the beauty of solid ink lines on paper. His illustrations are eerily similar to a keepsake from his birth mother, Anna: comic-book-style drawings scrawled across an old map…her version of a travel diary. At eighteen, Tupper sidesteps his planned future and starts his journey where Anna’s ended—following her map from Kansas City to Canada. His travels will put him on a collision course with Langley, and their bond is palpable from the start. But secrets will push between them—Sarah and Anna, two ghosts who could sink their icy fingers into the teens and tear them apart.

Perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless and John Green’s Paper Towns, TRAVEL DIARY OF THE DEAD & DELUSIONAL is a unique and robust novel that explores themes of mental-illness and self-discovery from three distinct perspectives. Lauren Nicolle Taylor is the award-winning and best-selling author of Nora and Kettle and the beloved Woodlands series, among others.

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Author Bio:

Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.
She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

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Book Release: Fading by Cindy Cipriano

Fading
Cindy Cipriano
(The Fading Series, #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 10th 2018
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

Leath Elliott is a seventeen-year-old competitive shooter living with her mother in Woodvine, North Carolina. Leath’s father was killed in a tragic accident when she was fourteen, and her friend Victor Santana has been there for her every step of the way since. But the friendship starts to change when Victor develops deeper feelings for her. If that wasn’t complicated enough, newcomer James Turner, an emancipated minor with a dark past, wanders into her sights. Leath is captivated by him and wonders if he might be the boy of her dreams—literally.

Fading is the first book in an exciting new fantasy romance series by award-winning author Cindy Cipriano.

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GUEST POST BY CINDY CIPRIANO

Thanks for hosting me today. I’m thrilled to be here to talk about my new paranormal romance, Fading, and pass on some tips I’ve learned in my journey as an author. First, a little about Fading, which is the first book in The Fading Series.

Fading

Seventeen-year-old, Leath Elliott lives with her mother in the microscopic town of Woodvine, North Carolina. Leath’s father was killed in a tragic accident when she was fourteen, and her friend Victor Santana has been there for her every step of the way since. But the friendship starts to change when Victor develops deeper feelings for Leath. If that wasn’t complicated enough, newcomer James Turner, an emancipated minor with a dark past, wanders into her sights. Leath is captivated by him and wonders if he might be the boy of her dreams—literally.

Fading – Insider Info (or as much as I can tell you)

I often think of Fading as the VLJ story. As in Victor-Leath-James.

Being in love is wonderful, heartwarming, and can leave you breathless. But, sometimes, it is so confusing! If you have ever loved two people at the same time, you can relate to what Leath is going through in Fading. Although some readers have expressed their choice (Victor or James), many feel the way the same way Leath does; she loves them both.

As Leath soon learns, decisions of the heart are not always clear or easy to make. Thank goodness, she has best-friend, Anamae, to help her navigate the waters. On second thought, the word, “help,” might be a bit of a stretch

Feeling Extra? Readers are often surprised to learn that one of the settings in Fading is a real place. Judaculla Rock is a 2,000-3,000 year-old petroglyph located in western North Carolina. Several legends surround the origin of the rock as well as the images that are carved into its surface. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Judaculla Rock a few times and have really enjoyed incorporating this setting into Fading.

Which brings me to writing.

I’m often asked if I have any tips for new writers. The best suggestion I have is to join a critique group.

Now.

No, wait. Join one yesterday.

Learning how to give and receive thoughtful criticism will make your writing stronger. Writing is often an isolated endeavor. Being a part of a critique group helps foster a sense of community. It’s great having someone to turn to when you need to bounce ideas around. And, having a group discussion about your writing will help you see your story from a different perspective.

I’m also asked about the editing process. I’ll leave you with my best tip for editing.

Read your entire manuscript aloud. That really helps you notice mistakes and helps you smooth out the rough spots. If necessary, I suggest you record yourself as you read aloud the more difficult sections.

–Cindy Cipriano
–Please visit www.cindycipriano.com to learn more about Fading.

 

Author Bio:

Cindy Cipriano lives in North Carolina with her husband, son and their 27 pets.

Not really.

Just three dogs who think they are children and three cats who think they are raccoons. It only seems as if they make 27. When Cindy isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and the avoidance of cooking.

Cindy’s first novel, The Circle, Book One of The Sidhe won the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Silver Award for Pre-Teen Fiction – Fantasy. Other titles in the series include The Choice, Book Two of The Sidhe (2015) and The Lost, Book Three of The Sidhe (2017). This seven-book series is published by Odyssey Books.

Miller’s Island Mysteries #1 The Case of the Toxic River (2017) is the first in her eleven-book science mystery series (Vulpine Press). #2 The Case of the Catalyst will release in 2018.

Look for Fading, the first in her young adult series, in April 2018. (Clean Teen Publishing). Fading is the tale of first loves and the consequence of dreaming up Mr. Right.

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Book Blitz: The Viking’s Chosen by Quinn Loftis

The Viking’s Chosen
Quinn Loftis
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: February 12th 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult

His orders are clear: launch a raid against England and bring home the spoils of war. But the prophecy is also clear: General Torben will take a foreign bride—one who is a seer and healer just like his mother. The eldest princess of England is said to be just that…a beautiful, charming, and headstrong woman. But he’s a Viking army general and she’s an English princess—and one who is already promised to the king of Tara.

Two worlds collide in this epic historical fiction centered on an undeniable chemistry that smolders against the odds. Richly written and injected with moments of humor, this action-packed romantic tale will leave you breathless.

Quinn Loftis is the author of twenty novels, including the USA Today Bestseller Fate and Fury.

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EXCERPT:

“At least he does not resemble the back end of a boar,” Dayna whispered.

I shot my sister a quick nod of agreement and then covertly turned back to peer at my future husband who was currently conversing with my father. After our morning ride, my sister and I had found a hiding spot behind some large drapes just to the left of the room occupied by our guests. It afforded us the surreptitious ability to listen and watch with the two kings interact. Thomas had taken his leave, but not before he informed me of what he thought about our childish behavior. I did not care if I was being childish. I was not ready to meet King Cathal just yet, at least not without a little advance warning of what I would be dealing with.

“You are correct,” I murmured back. “He is not ugly, but his handsomeness is marred by that tight lipped frown. He looks cruel.”

I had been surprised to find that my future husband was not nearly as old as I had thought he would be. If I had to guess, I would put him at eight and thirty, or, at the very oldest, two and forty. His hair was dark, cut close to his head. He had deep green eyes, a hawkish nose, and thin lips that seemed to hold a perpetual scowl. Standing at a little over six feet, King Cathal was lean but obviously muscular. Yes, he was handsome, but the cold, detached look in his eyes ruined any favor I might have found in him.

“Do you think it hurts to hold his face like that?” Dayna asked.

I bit my bottom lip to keep from laughing. “Perhaps he was just born that way.”

“Tis a shame to be so handsome and yet such a pompous ass.”

“Shh,” I chastised. “That pompous ass could have your head if he felt your offense warranted it.”

“Father would not allow me to be beheaded, Allete” Dayna assured me. “I am his favorite.”

I made a motion with my hand to quiet her so we could hear what it was our father was saying to the king of Tara.

“She has to know by now that I have arrived,” King Cathal was saying. His words came out clipped and low.

“Allete tends to have her own mind about things. I am sure she will join us when she is ready,” King Albric said, attempting to placate his irritated guest.

“And who allows such independent thinking?” Cathal challenged. “A woman should know her place.” His pointed look was aimed at the queen who stood quietly next to King Albric.

Allete was sure her mother was going to smack the rude man, but a subtle hand placed on her mother’s wrist held her in place.

“I understand your frustration, Cathal, but please be considerate of Allete’s situation. She is being courted by a man she has never met. She will be expected to leave with that man in a month’s time and travel to a place that is not her home, where she has no friends, no family. She deserves time to adjust.” King Albric, ever the diplomat, attempted to ease his counterpart’s temper. Based on Cathal’s pinched lips, however, his efforts were wasted.

“Could you at least send for her?” The other king asked in a more civil tone. And then added, “Please,” all be it a bit begrudgingly.

I snatched Dayna’s sleeve and gave it a gentle tug, indicating it was time for us to go. Like mice being hunted by a cat, we scurried from our hiding place and snuck to my bedchamber. We had barely made it inside when there was a knock at the door.

“Enter,” I said, attempting to keep my voice from sounding breathless.

Lidia entered. The look on her face was one of trepidation.

“The king requests your presence,” my handmaiden said in a soft voice.

I smiled at the girl. “Chin up, Lidia. All will be well.”

Lidia let out a huff, her manners momentarily forgotten. “You have not met the man. He is positively awful.” Her hand flew to her mouth and her eyes widened. “Forgive my frankness.”

Dayna laughed. “Allete would never punish you, especially not for telling the truth.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially. “We already saw him. We spied on them.” Dayna winked, looking completely unrepentant.

Lidia lowered her hand and made an ‘O’ shape with her mouth.

I straightened my dress and pulled my shoulders back. “Might as well face the music. I doubt he is going to turn around and sail back home without me.”

 

Author Bio:

Quinn is an award winning author who lives in beautiful Western Arkansas with her husband, two sons, Nora the Doberman, and Chewy the Cat who thinks he’s a dog. She is the author of 17 novels, and 2 novellas, including the USA Today bestseller, Fate and Fury. Quinn is beyond thankful that she has been blessed to be able to write full time and hopes the readers know how much all of their support means to her. Some of her hobbies include reading, exercising, crochet, and spending time with family and friends. She gives all credit of her success to God because he gave her the creative spirit and vivid imagination it takes to write.

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Cover Reveal: Alive? by Melissa Woods

Alive?
Melissa Woods
(The Alive? Series, #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: October 30th 2018
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Zombies

Everyone knows the first rule of the zombie apocalypse: Don’t. Get. Bitten.

Too bad Violet has never been great at following the rules. Walking home after a night of partying, she manages to let one of the Dead take a chunk out of her only hours after they’ve begun walking again. Fortunately for Violet, she doesn’t die. Unfortunately for Violet—she’s not exactly alive, either.

Violet’s body is undergoing changes, and suddenly the taste of human flesh is not as revolting as it once sounded. Controlling her new urges will be hard. Living with survivors who have no idea will be even harder. And the real zombies? They still want to eat her, too…

Surviving the zompocalypse is tricky when you play for both teams.

New from author Melissa Woods, Alive? is a heart-pounding adventure with suspenseful plot twists, complex characters, and a dash of dark humor. Gritty and raw, Alive? is sure to keep you guessing, and will delight zombie apocalypse fans everywhere.

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Author Bio:

Melissa is a Primary School teacher by day and a writer by night. She grew up in a small town in the UK, and spent of her time with her nose in a book. Her childhood was filled with R.L Stein, Jacqueline Wilson, and J.K Rowling, and they inspired her to begin creating her own worlds. Melissa has always been fascinated with stories about living through an apocalyptic event, and with characters who feel so real that they become part of the reader long after the book was put away. She wrote the first draft of Alive? at sixteen, and has been hooked on writing ever since.

When she’s not writing, Melissa enjoys reading, playing video games, crocheting, and spending time with her two dogs (and occasionally her husband).

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